India got it’s Obama long before US got its. We have a decent man (MMS) at the helm of the nation for last 6 years and by the looks of it 4 more at least. In fact we’ve even avoided Dubyas for ourselves for a long time. The last time we had a Gandhi as an official head of the nation was over 21 years ago. We also gave women “real” political power long before the west. We’ve had presidents which represent the rainbow of our multi-ethnicity. We’ve had Sikhs, Muslims, Kannadigas, Telugu, Maharashtrian and Jats as Prime Ministers. We’ve had many Chief Ministers of assorted castes belonging at bottom of the Hindu caste structure as well as practicing non-Hindus. In short, if Obama is going to stand for the hope or the unrepresented, he’s fairly late to the Indian political soiree.
Hereditary lineage is a small price to pay for better governance. I agree to a very large extent that Congress is almost family business. In the Indian context, this concept is not so hard to swallow. It’s almost a celebrated tradition to pass on one’s wealth, power and status down the generation. It’s also our “social security”. I don’t see the Indian populace throwing out the Congress because of their failure to produce a leader of PM quality without the Gandhi DNA. India has punished Gandhis for fiddling with its demographic fabric in 1975 and later in 1989 for corruption stink. Gandhis have not let the country slide into a Pakistan. Letting go of political power in the hope of getting it back is not easy to fathom for those who have never had it. A Gandhi was also the only leader of the national party to have had the forethought of not electing themselves as the head of the nation twice (1991 and 2004), shows acute political acumen.
As far as actual leadership qualities go, I agree we probably have more charismatic and imaginative young leaders than Rahul. Apart from the obvious positive first impression Rahul made, to me he stood for more than his last name. He connects with the demographic more than his opposition which finds itself unable to change fast enough with the times. Congress has a slew of younger leaders that seem to be under grooming for the future.
Your example of Nandan Nilkeni goes to confirm my belief that Chanakya is working for Congress. His predecessor Narayanmurthy got brickbats for heading the Bangalore Airport Project under the leadership of Gowda in Karnataka. Shashi Tharoor is another example. Leaders that this generation will embrace tomorrow. I’m not sure what your opinion is of him, but my thoughts about his tweets are more in synch than not. He’s put himself up for evaluation and approach to India like never before. It’s refreshing to hear a leader’s thoughts directly and be able to give him feedback instantaneously. Like Nilkeni, Tharoor too got his opportunity under the Congress. It’s also heartening to know that he’s not been fired despite ignorant old world media’s hullabaloo over every tweet.
There are others in the stable Jyotiraje Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Omar Abdullah, Jitendra Prasad, Kumari Selja among others. These leaders will get their chance in due time. It almost gives you hope that for the right people ( i know someone in my friends list who has serious ambitions ), the time is better than ever before.
On the other side, there is a vacuum. A vacuum of ideas, hope and vision. Naked lust for power consumes the opposition. But demographic is out there for them to connect with.
Perhaps the biggest mistake is to assume the Idiot demographic to be stupid.
Since the writing of my post above. Shiv Sena got a ONE TIGHT SLAP on Friday, the slap made Bal Thackeray’s dentures fly out and fall somewhere between the 3 and 4th row from the back of the closest multiplex during the screening of ‘My Name is Khan’. Ram Sene’s Muthalik was “black-faced” somewhere in Karnataka and this dude from Raj Thuggery’s MNS released a Valentine’s album while others are taking justice in the own artistic hands (NID student carves a permanent Joker smile on Chaudhary, the molester police officer).
In 2008, I bumped into Rahul Gandhi at a bookshop in Heathrow. I couldn’t resist saying Hi. He put his hand forward, shook mine firmly, looked me in the eye and with a winning smile, said “Hi” back.
I wished him Good Luck for the upcoming elections (which they later swept) and he thanked me back loud and clear. That was the end of it. There was an unmistakable connect. I thought, Yes, I could vote for him. If younger intellectuals (I’ve stopped being modest about it now) like me can connect with him, I’m sure there would be others. If choosing your leader is going to boil down to picking the lesser evil, let my poison be mine.
He’s silently swiftly sweeping the nation. He’s shaking hands with the people, who are buying tickets to see 3 Idiots, who are going to come out and vote again in a few years time. I’m not yet a fan of Rahul Gandhi per se, but i certainly prefer him over the rest of them.
The signal in the noise for politicians and parties is clear, do you connect with the aspirations and desires of those who would buy tickets for 3 Idiots?
BJP got a jolt in the last 2 elections and their future does not look bright in the next one as well. I don’t think they have a connect with the Idiot generation. The generation that connected with BJP was the angry young man generation of Zanjeer. Their followers are mellower now. The chicken legs under the khakhi knickers have arthritis. Also arthritis 2 inches north of the nose. The assorted bunch of clowns in VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal are also unlikely to find a footing or resonance in modern India. The lust for power of the senior members of the party choked it, they prevented any fresh blood from entering the veins. Rahul shakes your hand.
Shiv Sena is a dying brand of a dying hateful old man. It’s bullying toothless posturing, irrational and divisive agenda, absence at times of crisis have distanced themselves from the Idiot generation beyond repair. Their mandate is going to reduce further in a few years time. Once Bal Thackeray goes to the grave, his power will vanish however one hopes he sees that for himself before he meets his maker. Every time a Thuggery makes a statement, they’re digging a deeper hole for themselves and their party. Rahul delivers a winning smile.
Communists are disintegrating among themselves. They don’t know their Maoists from their Marxists. With exemplary leaders of the kind Achutanandan in Kerala and Karats somewhere in the center and no-one out in the west, it’s fast reducing into oblivion. Rahul says Hi.
So who is the next opposition? To me, the new opposition is an assortment of parties that connect with those who cant buy tickets to 3 idiots. Probably BSP and the assortment. There is no denying that hundreds of years of the caste system has taken its toll. We’ve given them reservation in jobs, colleges, civil administration and they’ve lapped it up. They’re also making sure that they’re getting their moolah with their power. Corruption is rampant and power will shift towards the have-now-had-nots. It will take a generation or two of prosperity for them to catch up. In the forseeable future, they will be the opposition for the next 20-30 years in India. Rahul gets serious.
Congress has made a firm bet on the future. Their young turks (mostly netas ka betas for now) under the tutelage of Chanakya, the graduating class of 2014, 2019, 2024.
I’m extremely optimistic about our country. The last 60 years were necessary for the next 60.
Nothing hurts like having to pay for excess baggage.
It’s always insulting and you feel really bad trying to persuade the check-in staff to let go. Even if you get over that, it’s always expensive. Then you hear stories from other how they “got-off” from having to pay for excess baggage and feel cheated when you couldn’t get the same deal. I’ve heard of people trying to aim for a forgiving looking check-in staff to check-in with in case they think they might be slapped with excess baggage charges.
I’ve been nervous about it during my frequent travels when I’ve been moving countries (I’ve lived in 5 countries and many cities for a considerable time in each).
The last time I was slapped with a fine MORE than the return economy class fare from India to Berlin on Qatar Airways (generally sucky airline!) with no option available for baggage to be sent later or separately in cargo. I was even prepared to upgrade a seat to business class to get a reduction in excess baggage charge, but NO sirree bob!
Much goodwill is lost with the traveler. I for one wont ever travel with Qatar Airways if I had an option.
From the airline point of view, I really wonder how much it really costs them to allow excess baggage? I have a feeling it averages out. I’m sure there are lots of people on the plane with luggage under the limit. Even if everyone exceeds the baggage limit, the total extra weight cannot be more than a 1000-1500 Kgs overall, I would imagine. They primarily have to adjust the excess baggage against extra fuel that the aircraft might have to spend to fly the extra weight. On the whole, excess baggage is a net *fucking* huge profit for the airline. And every time a passenger pays it, the airline loses goodwill. Over time, and in the twitter age, a bad recommendation travels far. In future, when social suggestion and validation is going to be prime tools for product selection by customers, keeping up goodwill is of more importance today then ever before. Frequent Flyer miles are just too hard to redeem and frankly I’ve stopped being loyal to one airline simply for a the carrot at the end of the stick.
Now I think i’ve got a good idea how this can all be improved. Right now, there is penalty for flying with excess baggage but there is NO reward for flying under the baggage limit. I mean i’d PAY to get into a club where i got rewards for flying light and then trade them off the one time I shopped a lot. Or I’d have the ability to trade them off to someone who needed it more than I did and benefit from my under 20kg travels.
Everytime, I fly under the excess baggage limit, I’d get credit for the number of Kgs under the baggage limit. Everytime, I fly over the excess baggage limit, I’d get my points reduced by 1:1 or perhaps less ratio, similar to earning and spending air-miles.
A Facebook or some such social application could help people with baggage allowance points to trade them on an online marketplace, live when you needed them.
Of course, I haven’t thought of all the modalities and probably flew buy some important detail, but right now I’m just excited by a good idea.
So I went over to my dear friend Siddhartha Totuka’s place for lunch today. The occasion was Rot-Teej. Despite having lived in Jaipur for most of my life, I had never heard of the festival before. As far as I’m concerned, the highlight of the festival is the special lunch.
I heard from Yogita a couple of days before about what was going to be prepared on that day and frankly it didnt appeal to me. My mom concurred later last night that I am not going to like it since she knows my food habits.
There was no way I was going to weasel my way out of Sid’s invite so I went. In short, I tried a new cuisine today and I liked it. Not bad!! The food consists of a star shaped “rot”. It like a thick buscuit, like a Bati (from Daal Baati) but i really hate Daal Baati so I think it was way better than a Baati. You divide the plate into 2 parts. One side contains boora (sugar) and the other side is mirchi (green chilli preparation). Then there is a raita contain torai (gourd? not sure of the english name of this vegetable). You are supposed to crush the rot with your hands, pour heaps of ghee and have it alternatively with sugar and with raita and mirchi. It was heavy and I’m sleepy just writing it. But I think I had enough and really enjoyed my lunch today!!
Thanks Sid and Yogita, you both rock!
Until a few months ago, I felt Jaipur roads were pothole free, clean, wide and something to be proud of. We could hold our heads high when people from other bigger cities visited us and show them how well kept our heritage city was. Jaipur was the shining example of how a modern city ought to be. It was more like a responisibility and a duty, since so much of Jaipur depends on tourism.
Look at the city now, it’s a fucking dump! Now I know there is a good reason for all the digging. They’re apparently laying the pipeline to provide a steady supply of water from Bisalpur. That’s noble and something again we should support due to its obvious long term benefits. But the problem is how it is being managed. Is it not important to build the road back once the pipes have been layed? Who and what is being done about it? When is it going to be done? Is it going to be done? Where is that information?
Our city deserves better.
This was supposed to be the day we went to see the 4th day of the 4th Ashes test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was not to be. Australia routed England for the 4th time in the series and the match was over on the 3rd day itself. Bummer!
With the whole day free, it was decided that we’ll go play Squash as we’ve got a few budding Squash players and a few regular Squashers (if that’s even a proper word). Everyone one got up really late and I guess lazed around and achieved nothing for a greater part of the day. We didn’t even take too many photographs!
Anyway, we finally reached the Sports Centre at Monash University’s Clayton campus late in the afternoon. Some of us were not properly dressed for the occasion but that was not going to dampen the spirit. Vasu and Chinx headed towards the tennis court and the rest of us preferred the indoor comfort of the Squash Court. Chinx gave Vasu the runaround with the tennis ball and I suppose they were on the verge of getting a sunstroke after like 15 mins. We were happy to welcome them in the squash courts with sweaty arms.
At the squash courts, everyone took to the courts. Some without shoes. It was Ridhi’s homecourt. Rishabh and Tanu gave each other a good game. Katrix showed a lot of potential and Shanu had enough powershots in his quiver. The rest of us kinda enjoyed ourselves a lot without taking it too seriously.
Some of us drove home while the rest of us tried to gatecrash the MCG in vain. Ridhi , poor girl, had a minor tragedy at home when the washing machine at home went bonkers and water overflow caused havoc on the carpet. Ridhi’s roommate Julia was a little distressed but Ridhi helped in bringing the situation under control. According to the latest reports, the carpet is dry and there are no smells (at least no new ones).
Girls dressed up and Boys tried to dress up for an evening on Lygon Street. It’s a popular street in Melbourne for Italian food. We planned to make a big night out of it, but ended up making a medium sized night. Had a quick stop for drinks at a bar before ending up at some Italian place (of course). Rishabh and I were really keen on Indian but the rest of the group dismissed us as if we were flies. The food was okay and I guess the only memorable highlight was that we playing Mafia in public. How ironic to play a game called Mafia at an Italian restaurant by 10 indians. We had a short pit stop at a Gelataria before heading home via another stop for Internet and Refueling.
We were due to fly to Sydney early next morning so everyone was requested to sleep early and wake up at 4AM. Some of us slept at 2:30 AM. What happened in the morning is well..the next post.