Thursday, November 10, 2011

Proof of a truly global economy

A region that has grown real fast in the past centuries due to colonies feeding the economies more than resources available within the region itself, viz. Europe, is now coming to terms with reality. Financial markets come crashing down showing a gloomy picture of the future. Hence now, they think that they'll eat lesser chocolate in the coming years.

Reduced demand means a drop in global Cocoa prices. This means that International Trade Houses which work on a small margin are forced to reduce prices being given to cooperatives and in effect, farmers.

Sawadogo Adama, a farmer in Mid-Westen Cote d'Ivoire, Africa, will not make as much money on his 2 hectare plantation as he would have, if Italy had done a good job in managing it's economy. And that, is a true proof of how much our lives are interlinked in an international global economy.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Crorepati

It was a dream come true. A man from rural Bihar. With a Broken roof. A Salary of 120 Dollars a month. Knows the all the right answers. Despite his poverty, he had the time to go through all the general awareness questions, a luxury few others of his class can afford. His family smiled through all questions before the answers were announced, probably quite confident in his ability.

Truly, a Slumdog Millionaire story. The audience wanted it and KBC wanted TRPs. That's why it is indeed a fantastic coincidence that Sushil Kumar won 5 crores, and KBC probably had the highest viewings of this season. A win win situation. Almost too good to be true. No?

PS: conspiracy theories are so much fun.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thorns to Competition

No really. I saw this ad in the Sony Entertainment Channel (British/African) broadcast in this part of the world.

I don't know what's scarier: the unbreakable confidence in his ability to lead business students to their doom, or the choice of his business wear.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stage 2

It's surreal. This is the moment my parents have secretly been conspiring towards for the last 10 years. All those days as a 15 year old, ogling at school girls walking around and giggling at 'inter-school fests', all those dinners pulling my Reddy friend's legs about the thousand of hectares of Mango plantation dowries, all those endless discussions of 'love marriage vs arranged marriage' by a bunch of guys who hadn't managed to get a girlfriend.. all that has built up to this. It is true. Lalbadshah has finally agreed to bow down at The Altar.

In 17 days, I shall be a married man (Inshallah). And I do know, that these 17 days will be filled with people walking up to me, with a knowing look on their face and a wry smile asking 'So, how does it feel?'. It's sometimes odd. What exactly do they expect me to say? A congratulation can be answered to in simple words. But complex questions like these, in my opinion, should be reserved for one's doctor, or a shrink if you please. For everyone else, it's like a 'What's up?' for a very specific target audience. All you can give in response is a wide grin and a reminder to try and make it for the wedding.

These and many other profound thoughts, such as stage flower arrangements, occupy my mind as my life hurtles towards a new dimension. I can only be glad to have found the right companion to attempt to solve all such riddles of the universe with.

See you folks soon!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Random Rhetorical Question 7

If a bastard is also called a 'love child', then what do you call the kid of a legally married couple?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Musical Charts

Boring evenings provide a lot of time to to kill. Hence:

I miss Venn Diagrams
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, I recommend this song-that-words-fail-to-describe that is hitting the airwaves.

And these other statistics that you may be interested in:


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Random Rhetorical Question 6

Would you refer to an Egyptian born and brought up in the US as an African-American?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The News Is Not Enough

In the last 4 months, I followed the dynamics of war torn countries in Africa more than I normally would. This was largely due to my presence in the region and the effect these activities might have on my future location. Throughout this, one principal observation sounds out loud. The villains that are born from newsrooms may not necessarily be.

The logic is simple. If history is written by those who won the war, none can refuse the importance of mass media in correcting the direction of that history. Which is why coups generally involve capture of the State Media infrastructure as the immediate priority after the outgoing head of state himself.

Hence, when the breaking news from CNN or Fox talked about how Gaddafi was not broadcasting anti-Gadaffi protests in the state television, the world population, needless to say was stupid enough to not ask back why these democratic channels weren't broadcasting pro-Gaddafi protests. I hold no opinion on whether he was actually a bad man - No one person should be in power for so long anyway or treat civilians as he did.

But Facts are critical.

I certainly would cry foul at the ex-allies striking down on a foreign government, that so far, kept most western oil majors at bay from getting their paws at the reserves. Shouldn't a country solve it's own problems? Of course it should. Which is why foreign interference can be justified only by the portrayal of an absolute villain.

I would find out why the US hates Fidel Castro when he helped arm Guinea Bissau freedom force push the Portuguese colonists out.

I would find out why locals here in Africa say that Gaddafi funded most of the revolutions against tyrant leaders in West Africa and gives Oil at a subsidized rate to poor African countries rather than rich American buyers.

I would investigate the reason for Sarkozi's blood boiling for Libya and clearly not that of half the Libyan population itself that is standing by the current Government foreign policies.

I would question why Obama wants to save humanity in only Libya while Mugabe continues to fire away unabated.

Fundamentally, I suggest that you verify the history and context of an event that is on news. Not judge the event itself on television. Probably from a more democratic albeit academically unsound source of facts, The Wikipedia.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An evening stroll

This blog post is meant for all those who think that the UNDP/NGO sphere is really doing a great Africa job in Africa - Up Yours! And here's why:

Voinjama, Liberia

I went out for an evening stroll with my colleague Shaurya and our host Lu Tolbert in the town of Voinjama which is at the northern tip of Liberia. It is a small dusty place with old buildings scattered along the street, none of which have even a single wall that has no bullet holes in it. This was where one of the fiercest fightings took place, with rebels flooding in from Sierra Leone during the war until close to 2002 when things got calmer.

Non - Profit:

All the new buildings however, have no bullet holes. These were established post war by the UNDP and various NGOs with funds from all over the developed world: Hospitals, Schools, Offices and Government Buildings and UNMIL (UN Military in Liberia) Battalions.

The Schools and Hospitals are empty and the NGO offices have been abandoned. The local population, now used to free food and being paid to do their own work, have forgotten the importance of developing an ecosystem of self sustainability. Once the sun sets, the village is engulfed in darkness. Electricity has never reached their place. Though all UN offices glow brightly and even have decorative lights fueled by hundreds of gallons of diesel burning through the generators running for them 24/7.


Lu Talbort is a Liberian who has spent most of his life in the US. He holds a degree from Columbia University and recently quit the UN due to bureaucracy that stopped him from doing anything real. He is now back at his home country and he means business. He has invested in land for plantations and is involving the local community and teaching them how to work for their own living. He will not tolerate laziness and did not flinch while firing the Local Chief's son for shirking his duties as a night guard.

He wants profitability. It is not a shameful word and slowly people around him are beginning to realise this. Thousands of people from the local communities will now have jobs in the region.

This, I am proud to say, is a blow in the face of all NGO people I've met so far who speak of "Farmer Exploitation" by corporations investing in Africa. Mining too is not what Blood Diamond showed you to be. They are professional set-ups on large scale fueling local development and creating jobs to a great extent.

Business is a proven form of development. There is no substitute for an economy invested with the purpose of profit as long as the right people run it. Aid, even for similar objectives with their hearts in the right place, is not provided by people who understand business and hence are bound to screw things up in implementation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Music Aloud

Music Aloud started off a couple of years ago by my friends at IIM Lucknow as a platform for them to express their views on music and a stage for upcoming artists.

Today, it celebrates the completion of what I consider as two fantastic years of growth, both in terms of content and fan base. They have also managed to bag some impressive interviews of musicians from India and abroad. I'm really excited about how they are doing so far and am hoping to see them soon as the reference guide for Music in India. Do visit!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It was a dark night. Not stormy, mind you, for the storms had somehow stopped more than 7 years ago. No one could really explain why. The answers published were apparently too vague. The International Weather DataBase would show you pictures of beautiful things called Clouds that once floated in the sky on their own. They did not, for a change, need those annoying jets passing along spraying white gas that induced showers.

Yasmin wished she could walk on the streets with her feet touching the ground under the shade of these clouds. But then, she didn't have time to think. She quickly wrapped her bags and got into her pod and joined the thousands of other pods moving along the road in unison. She was among the elite group of citizens with a Gold Card citizenship. She did not have to suffer travelling by the tubes like the Silver or Blue Card citizens. She had paid a heavy fee to get the licence for Manual Control, but it was worth it. It was a pleasure driving the pod at her own pace through an otherwise depressingly organised crowd steered on auto-pilot.

She took a diversion onto an empty highway and headed straight towards her ancestral home in Zone548-080. She needed to quickly pick up those documents before it was scheduled for demolition by the Urban Development Authority. The road was devoid of traffic or buildings and she was scared she might fall asleep, so she switched back to auto pilot and stared at the horizon.

She switched on the video monitor to Zaid's Connector. The camera on his Connector, tied permanently on his wrist, showed him lying on the couch watching the flatscreen. There was a message about easy slimming pills that were a big rage these times. Yasmin and Zaid acknowledged each other's presence with a quick nod and continued with what they were doing. Years ago, she had thought she's never see him again. But she did, almost every day. And it just wasn't the same anymore.

The first rays of the sunrise were visible now. She had never seen a sunrise before from such a clear viewpoint. She stopped the pod and looked outside. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

Before she could even begin to smile, the alarm on her Connector started buzzing. She sighed as she began to raise her hand and point the camera towards the sunrise. It was important to capture the image and location details. The Connector had to be told every moment about her position. If not, Visage Inc., the manufacturers and owners of the Citizen Database would downgrade her profile making her an unconnected Blue Card citizen. Being Connected made all the difference. Hence she told herself that she should thank her luck for the privileges and be happy. But she wasn't.

The Connector Camera on her raised hand had blocked her view and she missed the actual point of the sunrise. And she doubted she would ever see one again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


After going through some of my older blog posts, I've come to realise how much they reflected me and my general state of mind in those times. I'm not talking about moods, but rather more macro phases of my life.

I've been funnier at more laid back phases with no plans in particular to attend to. Poetic in rainier seasons. Opinionated when frustrated and outrageous when ignored. This one is a confusing phase. And it's showing: I'm writing words that I don't know and not able to write what I want to.

Take a peek back into your own blog and try to identify your phase - let me know. Do your Facebook wall posts, Orkut scraps or Tweets in the past say what you haven't written about yourself?

Monday, January 03, 2011


Update: I'm not sure I thought this topic through before I posted this one. I'll probably put in another one later. Ignore this one for now if you can.

"More than 500 million active users
50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
Average user has 130 friends
People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook." Source.

I haven't yet watched 'The Social Network'. Traveling extensively has cut down on my movie time although I have a prime pirated DVDRip file lying on my hard disk. I shall attend to it shortly. This post isn't about the movie though.

Facebook has faced severe criticism since it's inception for various reasons. The website in itself is an innocent networking platform. Meant for those who would like to keep in touch with old friends and possible acquaintances. But the potency comes from the freedom that it allows an individual user, as a medium to exhibit oneself to the voyeuristic pleasures of those who would dare to see.

This isn't about a true self too. It allows a person to create a virtual identity of himself or herself in a way he or she wants the world to see him. You sift through hundreds of photographs in your album and fish out the very best to be your display pics. Noone has seen the one in which your teeth look awkward when you laugh. It's not the way you want the world to see you.

People look at Facebook as a movie. Where you force fit yourself as the star. Either through liking music that is most "liked", even if you don't or by posting quotes as status messages even if you do not understand them. And you feel good by the number of likes or comments on the same.

There is a lot more I have to say on the topic and I shall in due time. I'm not saying I'll delete my profile, but I'd like to begin to use it just to keep in touch with friends. Not to scan through personal histories and feel better about my virtual self because of how better I APPEAR than them.