Tuesday, November 23, 2004

You know you are a Desi when....

I came across this article. Found it funny. Check it out and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Which Planet are you from?

You Are From the Moon

You can vibe with the steady rhythms of the Moon.
You're in touch with your emotions and intuition.
You possess a great, unmatched imagination - and an infinite memory.
Ultra-sensitive, you feel at home anywhere (or with anyone).
A total healer, you light the way in the dark for many.

The Mess in Kanchi

I had decided not to blog about this issue because it is a highly sensitive one. I changed my mind. A friend forwarded me this link about the Shankaracharya titled "The Real Shankaracharya":

I was a great follower of the Paramacharya, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi. I have read his collected talks "Theivathin Kural" and many of his ideas have moulded my thoughts and perspectives in many ways. I confess that I am not that great an admirer of the present Acharya but nonetheless revere him as one who's above the average populace. It came as a rude shock to suddenly read on rediff that he had been imprisoned on a murder charge.

Of course, immediately, the press went to town on how he is a power wielding, goonda in ascetic robes. Somehow, I find it very difficult to believe that a man who has been performing Chandramouleeswara Pooja for the past 50 years or so is capable of committing murder or even masterminding it. Regardless of the fact that he is active in politics, he is still an ascetic, has been under the guidance of the Paramacharya and has the exclusive right to perform pooja to Kanchi Kamakshi in the garbhagriha. Would such a person even contemplate a heinous sin such as this?! I can't imagine that.

What is more irritating is the "holier-than-thou" attitude of politicians. Karunanidhi who now tarnishes the Acharya freely is a scoundrel himself. And Jayalalitha is no better anyway. These are all people with so many criminal cases pending against them and they are in no position to accuse the Acharya of anything.

Do I belive the Acharya is guilty? Frankly, I don't know. I hope it is not true. If he has indeed committed such a crime, then I think the spiritual punishment for doing Pooja with such impure thoughts would be more severe than any that mortal law can impose on him. If he is not, then I hope that all these years of purity and tapas will bring him through this test of fire stronger and untarnished. But there is no denying the fact that the Hindu community is indeed deeply hurt by the arrest of a religious figure of the Shankaracharya's stature.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The more things change...

Everyone says mankind has "evolved". We have grown progressive since the middle ages, apparently. We have invented new things and shrunk the world to a global village. Sure, we know a lot of things now. We know that we have come from monkeys; that we are just a speck in the dust swirl that is the universe; that each of us is just a fleeting moment in our beloved Earth's history. But despite all this, Nature still holds the upper hand. The impulses that drove men and women 2000 years back still drive us. Men went to war out of greed for land, women, wealth. We still do. Iraq is a case in point. Long back, they had all those crusades in defense of religion. We still have our jihadists, Protestants Vs. Catholics in Ireland, Hindus Vs. Muslims in India, Conservative Christians Vs. Liberals in the USA. Even today, people wage war in the name of God, be it on the stump or on the battleground. People murdered for wealth back then; that remains the primary cause even now. During those wars back then, they murdered and slaughtered POWs. Geneva conventions notwithstanding, that's what is happening now too.
And if they burnt witches back then, now we have gays.
The only thing I find different is that, these days we do everything with a James Bond-like sophistication. I guess in those days if you wanted to kill someone, it would be a very messy affair with a lot of splattering of blood. These days it can be done with a grease-like polish. Same goes for almost everything else.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. All progress is an illusion.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Procrastrinator Cometh!

Well, I don't know when I became such a HUGE procrastrinator. I have a 571 project, a term paper, a term project and a programming assignment looming ahead in the coming two weeks and here I am, cool as a cucumber whiling away time watching TV, doing all sorts of things that could take a backseat. I have promised myself that I'd make some headway today with my CS 571 project. The task is just made harder by the fact that C on Linux throws up some weird Bus errors and Segmentation faults for no reason. Vijai suggested I blog about this topic but I wasn't really keen at that time. Now after spending 3 hours trying to debug I-know-not-what, I am ready to rant about it.....aaargh!
When was the last time a programming project drove me nuts to such an extent???!!!! I think it must've been way back in my second year, perhaps. If only gcc would give me some kind of decipherable errors, I would be happier. And I am NOT happy with procedural programming. I prefer the OO model.
Anyways, I think I will be a way more happier kid when I am done with all these deadlines. Oh and I just realized that I made a major mistake at work today. I had to upload some files to the webserver and I overwrote some recent ones with old ones. And my boss is just sending me mail after mail about some flash quiz that is not working on the site. I didn't even code that quiz and heaven help me if I have to read that code and find out what's wrong with it. I suppose all this means that I would have to go to work at 8 AM in the morning (sigh). Happy me!
The only consolation: tomorrow's payday!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

If this were hell...

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)

I found this funny. Just imagine if this were indeed another planet's hell....what sort of punishments would the powers-that-be devise for the people sent here?!!? Here's some I came up with:
1. Watch endless Tamil mega-serials.
2. Condemned to call 1.800 numbers and keep listening to machines for hours. You know, the ones that keep on going "Press 1 if you want blah..Press 2 if you want blah..Press 9 if you want blah..". Hell, all I want is to talk to a person which you will never get to and worst of all, the machines will never get tired of talking to you! Can't think of a better punishment.
3. Listen to George Bush's talks. (By the way, I can't imagine why he looked like he was about to deliver an obituary when he appointed Condi Rice to Secy. Of State. I quite honestly thought that that grave air was quite out of place. Dubya, after nearly 6 debates, you still haven't learnt what expression to use when!)
4. Browse the net without pop-up blockers.
5. Be an MP in the Indian Parliament when they start throwing slippers, bottles or have shout-matches.
6. Read Salman Rushie's Satanic Verses (most likely, the average joe would become nuts trying to figure out what this guy's trying to say)
7. Travel on Mumbai's electric trains in peak hours.
8. Have a friendly neighborhood dog that just won't stop barking/howling through the night.
9. Try to get a license from an RTO office without a bribe.
10. Eat American food.
11. Try to explain to a confused kid behind the desk at a fast-food store what "Vegetarian" means. When you get done, he/she goes , ", if you don't want anything in there, like what do you want???"

That's for now..feel free to add to it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Diwali Mela!

I suprise myself sometimes. I just finished cooking about the best dinner I have ever made in my life and I didn't even set about it seriously!!! I was just doing it in the most offhand and casual manner!
The menu this evening:
Coconut Payasam
Okra curry- south Indian style
Garlic Rasam
Fried papads.

I offered whatever I had cooked to God and after naivethiyam, when I tasted the coconut payasam, I almost swooned with delight!! I tasted like heaven. And the garlic rasam has left its aroma on all my jackets, gloves et al that I had left lying around the house. Oh, and I had fried papads for the first time in the US. All in all, a delicious Diwali mela. Too bad it became too late to invite anyone over.!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Sacred Ash

I am reading Freedom at Midnight by Dominique LaPierre and Larry Collins. There are often references in the book to crazy customs in "God-obsessed" India like smearing ash. Frankly, it sort of annoys me to the point that I feel compelled to write about it! The wearing of the "Vibhuti" or sacred Ash has deep philosophical meaning in Hinduism:

When any object is consumed by fire, it becomes charred. If that black residue is burnt again, it becomes white ash. White ash continues to remain white even when burnt again. This shows that white is the ultimate and black is proximate to it. Science tells us that diamond and coal are basically one. White and black are not colours. The primary colours get separated from the objects to which they are attached when subjected to the test of fire and ultimately white. Similarly, in the mental and spiritual place, the Ultimate Reality is Siva, who is white and proximate to Him is Parvati, who is dark. When we test everything in the fire of Jnana, or true knowledge, the residue is Siva. Ash in the material plane corresponds to Siva in the spiritual plane. We smear our bodies with the sacred ash to remind ourselves of Siva and the fact that the ultimate goal of life is Siva.

Hinduism is perhaps as complicated to fathom in a single glance as the land that nourishes it. It is sad that the populace of Hindus themselves are vastly unaware of the reasons behind their customs. If the Hindu population itself is ignorant, is it any wonder that the world chooses to ridicule their ideas??

Interesting Perspective

Those of you that can read Tamil, please visit the following link:
You might probably need Tamil font downloadable from the site or perhaps not. I cannot remember. But it is certainly worth a look....

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Only two things have left me totally awestruck. The first one was some 10 years ago. My father was posted in Madurai in Southern Tamilnadu, once erstwhile and rich capital of the ancient Pandya kingdom. We set out on an evening journey to a temple nearby which my father was really curious to visit. I was not very happy with the idea because I was missing 'Pepsi Ungal Choice' on Sun TV that evening. So I was kind of dragged kicking and crying to this temple and naturally, wasn't really favourably disposed.
We left the city lights of Madurai for the rural countryside. Halfway through our journey, power went off and the road on which we were traveling was pitch dark. To add to it, as we neared Thiruvedagam, we slipped off onto a mud road and it was one bumpy ride! Finally, the driver stopped in the midst of a jungle, or so it seemed to me. I got out the car and couldn't see a damn thing to save myself and was kind of looking to the heavens for help, when I saw the silhouette of a soaring gopuram or temple tower right in front of me. It was the night of a full-moon and the twilight sky was sparkling with a few stars and it was the first time I was totally impressed. The temple tower was as ancient as anything and the sculptures were as life-like as anything I had seen in my life. We went into the temple. It was bereft of electricity and the only guiding light was a single light from the garbhagriha of the Shiva sannidhi.
We explored the temple in the light of lamps and moonlight. The soaring monolithic columns, immense prakarams, life-like sculptures and the astonishing beauty of the deities left an indelible mark on me. I read up on the sthalapuranam of the temple after we returned and it is one of the places of historic importance which steered the course of the Pandya kingdom.
The sad thing is that the temple had no electricity or even oil to burn lamps in the sanctum sanctorums of the deities because of lack of money. How poor can a temple be that it doesn't have oil for the lamps? There are scores of temples in southern Tamilnadu suffering from lack of attention and funds. These architectural marvels largely remain unknown to the world at large, hidden away in the remote villages of Tamilnadu.
Whenever I get misled by the propaganda that India is a god-forsaken land of teeming, miserable millions languishing in filth, heat and dirt looking toward the west for redemption, I remember these masterpieces of an era of splendor, wealth and culture unsurpassed.