Mi Bodeguita del Medio

While my blog is named after a restaurant in Havana I hope to someday visit, here you will find musings, rants, political incorrectness, thoughts on Indian Nationalism, strong straight-forward opinions and tid-bits.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kashmir - a continued debate

The trigger was pulled by the Pak U.N. ambassador recently speaking at a special session on terrorism at the Security Council, when he began by saying he was “deeply troubled” by what had happened in Mumbai. “The best outcome of the tragedy,” he said a few seconds later, “would be the resolution of the issue of Kashmir.”

He got down to his "jaat" as we say in Hindi. How are the two events even related? - a person with common sense would ask. Well, all Pakistanis know that Kashmir is at the core of their Jihad. In fact, hatred for India defines their very existence. Well, what happens if they get Kashmir (they never will). Is the violence going to stop? Of course not. Its just an excuse. Today it is Kashmir, tomorrow it will be something else. They aren't going to stop till they have conquered the entire world, and imposed shari'a on all infidels, after having eliminated us ofcourse. Then they will have their perfect world as was promised to them, peaceful, harmonious, tranquil.

Does that even sound real? Not for a second.

They love to play the victim. They love to complain about having lost the territories in Palestine and that Israel is the devil for having taken the little piece of land that they have to make a home. What do they have to say about the ethnic cleansing they did to the Hindus in Kashmir, the original and rightful inhabitants of the Valley, for over 5,000 years?

I am tired of pseudo-secularism, and of calling a spade a diamond. I am so done with it. From now on, a spade will be a spade. PC my A$$.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday Thoughts

I just walked into the door of my flat. After work I stopped by one of the vegetable and fruit shops in the neighborhood to buy some veggies. I mentioned earlier on the blog that there is a sizable Pakistani population here in Barcelona. A couple of young Pakistani boys work at the vegetable and fruit shop where I generally go. They should be about 20-22 years old, pretty young really.

Today when I stepped into the shop, there were tons of people and a long line at the counter. There was an old Hindi song playing in the background, I think from the movie Aashiqui, many many years ago. The song goes like this: tu (uuuuuu) meri zindagi hai....... tuuuuuuu meri har khushi hai.......

As I was picking tomatoes, I don't know what happened. The song was playing in the background, and I saw those guys, my eyes filled with tears. I looked at them working, carrying crates here and there, working hard. And then I thought that if I had a little brother he would probably resemble them. These people are the same as me. We're made of the same soil. We are brothers and sisters at the end of the day.

I wanted to talk to them, ask them where they're from, how long since they've been here. I think I have asked one of them that in the past. Since then, he recognizes me and greets me when I enter. But since the Bombay attacks, something has stopped me from going into the Pakistani shops around here. I avoid going there, and on the one occassion when I have, I haven't been able to look them in the eye. Is it because they never really say "we're sorry that so and so happened" ? Is it because in the small talk I've often expressed solitude with them when the earthquake happened in Quetta, or when the Marriot bombings happened in Islamabad, but during the eight major terrorist incidents in India in 2008, they have not so much as condemned one? Am I over-reacting? I know they have nothing to do with it. But then why is there so much hate between the two nations?

We are not superior to them, we don't want to impose ourselves on them. We wish the Pakistanis progress and prosperity. I sincerely believe thats true. As a country, India hasn't done any harm to them. Their main grevience is Kashmir, but why can't we let that issue aside and just focus on ourselves, on building a bright future for the coming generations? Why why why is there so much tension and hatred?

I want to believe that it is a political matter, that politicians and generals in Pakistan have hijacked the people's psyches, that they make them believe that Pakistan's progress lies in India's destruction? I want to believe that its not the people, atleast those I see around me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Pakistan - an international migraine" Madeleine Albright

"...my own sense is Pakistan has everything that gives you an international migraine. It has nuclear weapons, it has terrorism, extremists, corruption, very poor and it's in a location that's really, really important to us. And now with this issue with India. So, I think that the current president and the current secretary of state, who's on her way to India right now, have a very big job ahead of them," said former Secretary of State (US) Madeleine Albright.

She's said it all. Read rest of the post here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

India Says "Enough is Enough"

I have barely and badly slept since Nov 26th when the attacks on Bombay began. I'm so tired and emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted right now, that instead of writing my feelings, I will refer to posts and articles that express what I'm feeling. Here goes:

1. A blogger writes, “We cannot tolerate these fanatics arriving in a boat on the Mumbai coast armed with explosives and guns. We cannot tolerate the fact that they got into high security stations and so called well protected hotels with guns and bombs and held people hostages. We cannot tolerate the fact that they killed people to just prove that they were capable of doing so. I refuse to be resilient. I refuse to be tolerant. I want answers and I want them now. I want to know why the intelligence did not spot this. I want to know why the coast guard did not spot this. How can we let these uncivilised people hold the city at siege? I don’t care if this post does not make sense”. Original post here.

2. Another furious blogger writes: “What will be the latest excuse by our home minster for his incapability? What will be the statement from our PM for his weakness in handling the terrorist? Congress is worried about his vote bank in one particular community (read Muslim community) so they will not act even though somebody will come and hit the very root of our identity. What worse than an attack at the very backbone of the financial and entertainment capital of a nation which dreams of becoming a global super power. Who will come to do business in a country where the 5 star-hotel is attacked and taken hostage? Are we living in Pakistan or Afghanistan where a loaded truck of RD-X blows up a hotel? What are you thinking Mr. Singh? Are you waiting for ur ally Mr. Amar Singh to announce 10 lakh each to the family member of terrorist killed in today’s blast? Are you going to provide legal aid to terrorist suspects? Are you planning to place a commission to investigate if Mr. Karkare was killed by ATS itself and terrorist were innocent? Shame on these Indian politicians!!”

3. Shobha De, a woman I deeply respect and admire, speaks out on the Bombay Attacks, asking politicians to stay out of it, and asking Mumbai to keep "resilience" out of their lingo for a while, as it is an excuse to forget about what has happened.

4. An American journalist, Scott Carey who lives in Chennai, shares an insightful piece "The Case Against Pakistan," on his blog, explaining the various reasons behind Pakistan's intelligence agency (ISI)'s motives to slow down India's economic progress and standing through terror attcks in India.

5. And finally, an article I'm sure came as a surprise to many, in the ultra Leftist and politically correct newspaper, Times of India called "PM's Terror Stand Comes Back to Haunt Him," criticising the PM of deploying a soft stance against terror.

A line from the article: " His tough-sounding words after the massive November 26 attack on Mumbai — that he would "take up" with neighbours the use of their territory for launching strikes against India and that "individuals and organisations" behind the outrage would be hunted down — sound like a tinny, worn out record. "

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who Did It?

26 November, 2008. Mumbai. Blown up. So far 80 dead, 300 wounded. The Taj Palace, 105 year old landmark symbol of Mumbai in flames.

The question - who did it?

The Buddhists.

Nope, wasn't them.

Surely the Hindus?

No.

The Sikhs?

Nope.

Jains surely then?

Don't think so...

Those empowered Jews then?

No?

Then it must have been those Parsis.

Ah no?

Hmm...lets see. Catholics then for sure.

Wrong again.

How about the Protestants?

No?

The Methodists?

The Baptists?

The Seventh Day Adventists???

The Shintos?

The Taoists???

No. Who is it then?

Couldn't be the Religion of Peace. No, can't be them. Just remember, and Manmohan "Puppet" Singh will remind us soon - Terrorism has no religion.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Toros de Fuego / Bulls of Fire - an Old “Tradition”

I'm on the mailing list for an organization called Animanaturalis that strives for animal rights. Today I opened my mailbox and saw this image, and as curiosity led me to reading a bit more, I'm going to talk about it in this post. I can’t help but bring out this revolting “festival” that is “celebrated” in Soria and Castilla y Leon. As much as I love Spain, it is ALARMING that such activities continue to be allowed in the so called “developed world.” In this post, I am going to translate what exactly the “Toro de Medinaceli” consists of.

Read the original Spanish version here.

Description:
In this "festival," the bulls' horns are installed with metallic artefacts that are screwed on to the ends of the bull’s horns. These artefacts contain inflammable liquid balls so that the bulls horns (and consequently the bull himself) burn like torches for hours on end.

Consequences:
Apart from being completely antinatural, the fire causes panic and horror to all animals, as it is instinctively identified as a sign of danger. Therefore, the bull tries desperately to put off this fire that he carries on his horns. The inflammable liquid that has been applied, ensures that the fire cannot be put off.


Naturally, the consequences of this practice are terrible for the bulls. In first place, logically, the bull is burnt. Although those (retards, psychopaths, insert profanity here ___) who defend this practice argue that this is not true [I’d like to stick a pair of horns on each one of their heads and set fire to them - ooh that would be REAL fun to watch, and to make it even more fun, maybe even tie their hands and legs and watch them try to wriggle around trying to put off the fire - after all, they're not going to get burnt] the bull receives sparks that fly off and burn his head, his face and his eyes. Also, the bull’s horns are a very sensitive area which cause immense pain when burnt.

The bulls (to these retards’ entertainment) try desperately to put off the fire, and find it impossible to do so. While fighting to put the fire off, the bulls can dislocate their necks or even kill themselves due to the violent movements caused by the panic and desperation. The “Toros de Fuego” especially suffer psychological damage, and it is known in some cases for bulls to have committed suicide, throwing themselves against an object or a wall.

Ok, lets talk about Spain for a moment. Yes, there does exist an excellent public health care system. There is excellent infrastructure and Spain is unmatched in terms of Art, Music, and general liveliness. The buzz in the Spanish streets isn't found anywhere else. The street festivals, and local artists, painters, musicians, and even economists and scientists, not to mention sporting personalities.... the list just goes on.

However, in my humble opinion, I still feel that the Spanish Prime Minister is/was giving himself too much credit for considering that the lack of invitation to the G-20 block meeting, where world leaders will hold talks to bring about financial reform, could be due to animosity from Bush's side for Zapatero's withdrawl of Spanish troops from Iraq. Instead, the plain and simple truth is that Spain still has a lot of cleaning up to do in order to really become part of the developed world. There is enough 'black money' here, that could rescue the entire banking system from the liquidity shortage - if only it were declared. Enterprise-wise, good jobs tend to go to those that are "enchufados" or have vaasta or the right contacts. Culturally, too many "festivals" tend to embody the worst torture that one would hope never to see in their living lives.

So my humble message to Mr. Zapatero is, "the problem is not outside Señor Presidente del Gobierno, a lot of the mess lies in your own back-yard."

If you'd like to participate in the manifestation against this festival, here is the contact email informacion@pacma.es and telephone number: 685726737. Buses leave from Barcelona and other major cities.

Thank you PACMA, Animanaturalis, and other organizations who are working so hard, round the clock to help give a voice to these poor animals that don't have a voice in this cruel world.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Elections '08 - a No Brainer

So here we are exactly one week before the US Presidential elections. Next week same time, we will know who the resident of the White House will be for the next four years. I guess seeing the way I see it, the election result should be a no-brainer, an easy win for Obama.

But back in the States, its a tumultuous road to November 4th. On one hand, you have an old man, with archaic ideas, guaranteed to carry on the Bush legacy - and quite popular among the "real America." Real America- what is that? The towns and villages in the heart of the country, with hard-working Christian white folk that listen to country music and go hunting and fishin' on weekends? Is that the "real" America? It may well be. But America is much, much more. America is all-encompassing, the greatest democracy on Earth (I am not American, and I recognize this) where each person has a chance to succeed, they be black, white, yellow, brown or whatever other race, color, or creed. That is what the REAL America is.

My message to all Americans today is: Please vote with your head, your brain. Vote for the best candidate. Don’t allow party affiliation to sway your judgement; at the end of the day each party wishes the best for its members, and McCain is all but best for America. I can already see the disaster that is to come if McCain is elected President. If the world is not already tired and losing respect for the United States, McCain will ensure that it does. I will let this opinion on an article in LJ World (a conservative newspaper) answer his favourite question, reversed: Who is John McCain? Quote:

“More disturbing, exactly which McCain do they (Republicans, those still for McCain) want to elect? The “maverick” who voted with Bush 90 percent of the time? The “deregulator” responsible for virtually no oversight on Wall Street, and charter member of the Keating 5? Or perhaps it is his presidential “judgment” when he picked “Sara Palin, soccer mom” as the only person in the world qualified for president after him. Then again, it could be the old warrior who sings, “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” Senator McCain changes positions on so many issues his behavior would make a chameleon envious.

In the past few desperate weeks, McCain has been erratic, all over the place. McCain believes attacking his opponent, belittling and discrediting him, and name-calling in an unprecedented, odious smear campaign as an excellent reason for Americans to elect him president.”

Those who know me, know that I'm no die-hard liberal either. I am moderate politically, but the whole Iraq invasion was uncalled for, something McCain supported 100%.

Come on Americans; you can’t make the same mistake over and over again. It happened once in 2000. A huge huge let-down (and there are many who still believe that the Bush family had a hand in the exemption of many thousands of discarded votes in primarily Democratic regions in central Florida). The second term Bush re-election was another grave mistake. Now, 2008 is when you have a candidate like no other. Barack Obama is what America needs, and in some ways, what the entire world needs. Only Obama can restore America its glory that has been lost over the last 8 years of more than disastrous Bush leadership. Only he can UNITE the country, rather than divide it on partisan lines (something the McCain-Palin camp have expertise in).

Do you want four more years of continuing Dumb and Dumber policies under McCain – Palin, sure to give America nothing new; instead continuing fear, distress and hate that Bush has implanted? Even Al Qaeda knows that Obama as leader of the US will mean a new direction to its foreign policies, building bridges instead of chopping them. They know the United States will not be hated, as it will be under McCain, and that will lower considerably the number of recruits to their cause. Do Americans want that the Al Qaeda grow stronger? If they don’t then they must open their eyes and see that that is bound to happen under McCain – Palin.

Several prominent Republicans have endorsed Obama openly (many have had to face consequences for their actions, but doing the right thing is priceless): Colin Powell, Joel Haugen, Scott McClellan, William Weld, Arne Carlson, Jim Leach, Lincoln Chafee, Rita Hauser, Ken Adelman, Charles Fried, and thousands of others who’re allowing their conscience to be heard in the election booth. Republicans for Obama.

I left the United States six years ago (2002). After September 11th, Bush’s policies took the wrong course. I lost faith in the US. I now have a reason to believe again. And the reason is Obama. When I step on American soil on November 8th, I want to be in a country that has a President that gives hope to the world.

Come on Americans, listen to the voice inside you. You know whats right. Now, more than ever, it is important for you to DO what is RIGHT. Your country is counting on it. And the world is counting on it. Obama/Biden ‘08

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Indecent exposure: The breach on the beach

The crisis, unstable market, lack of investment, low morale, low liquidity- all of it only to get worse in 2009- here in Europe, directly affects the market I’m working in (M&A). All of this is now causing me to rethink how much longer will I be able to survive here (cos that’s what I’m doing – surviving, on a minimal pay check that just covers my expenses, and leaves me with no saving at month end), as opposed to moving back home (is my Spain dream coming to an end?)

Interestingly, along with thoughts of home, come thoughts of what I left behind (the good - family, friends, samosas, dosas, shisha, limon bin na na, hot weather, disposable income!!......and also the not so good). One of the not so good things is discrimination and lower pay for equal work, something typical of the Middle East. To that effect, here is an article by Bikram Vohra, that comments on the new-rich feeling that many-a-westerner develops - in my words, how they "lose the plot," once they arrive to the region. How many have seen this happen? Oh, and do enjoy the article (I look forward to reading much more stuff by the author, who I believe is the Managing Editor of the Bahrain Tribune.
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Indecent exposure: The breach on the beach
Bikram Vohra

The global brouhaha over the Dubai police catching two British citizens inflagrant delicto on a beach seems grossly out of proportion to other burning issues of the day. However, now that the British tabloids have picked up this story and destroyed two lives there seems to be no confidentiality or restraint in using these two for everyone else’s cathartic satisfaction. Gee, we are so clever, we don’t get caught. Not that we don’t behave badly, we are heap smarter.

Contrary to the prevalent belief, it is actually the westerners who suffer from culture shock when they come to these parts. The leap from a council house in Hounslow (does it really exist?) Stratham and Slough to villas and houseboys, housemaids, gardeners, 4 wheel drives and the pretensions to Country Club tally ho imitations with a few nightspots and caviar and blinis and smoked salmon replacing bangers and mash and a bit of bitter pink bubbly thrown in for the bit of bitter gives them the feeling of racist superiority. Add to this hubris the sudden financial liquidity and it is easy to see how they go off the tracks. The fact that Asians, by and large, render space to Caeser with graceless ease because they feel that, like them, their bosses also tend to look up to white people more than they do to coloureds adds to the arrogance.

The residual dregs of imperialism still survive. The system allows for this sort of genial racism and naturally, it occasionally goes sour. White nationalities continue to snuffle at the colonial trough and get more money for the same work and a better lifestyle. Asians and others may resent it and respond with equally vicious racism in reverse but they let it be. So an Indian can be pushed aside by a fellow native attendant at a supermarket in preference to a westerner standing behind, a club can refuse entry to non-white people on flimsy excuses, politeness can trip just a bit in the same divide and upper class Asians don’t make it any easier by slavishly aping western customs and habits. Service staff will be politer to those from the west because a report or complaint from one of them tends to cause heavier ripples than one from Asians.

Ergo, you are so not the better man, Gunga Din.
So, when Michelle Palmer and Vince Accors did the naughty they actually believed in a corner of their minds that they were exempt from the laws. If not that, at least they had the social standing to expect leniency. Sense, if you will, the sentiment behind the words to the policeman: I will sue you.

No Asian would even dream of saying that. Not because he is weak or feeble but because he does not feel that sense of superiority. I remember when I was the editor of a newspaper in the UAE a young cheeky English reporter came to me and said, “Do you know my houseboy and you are from the same country, fancy that.” The public school insolence so nurtured and loved in Britain was palpable.

Nothing changes. Being snide is the replacement for poor education and an absence of grammar. Native English speakers may speak it but they couldn’t for the most part write their way out of a paper bag.

Those apologies after the incident by the foolish twosome only conceals the contempt and derision in which such people hold those who are not of their ilk.

If the British community has rallied round these two it is because most of them are a decent lot, living their lives with grace and dignity and not being snotty about who they are because it is not relevant anymore. And, as is their tradition they are going for the underdog. The spate of letters reflect all points of view but paramount is the fact that this incident should be seen as a symptom of a deeper malaise where young western people are flaunting rules and abusing hospitality of foreign nations where they are guests.

In this case, the company ITP issues letters marking out the rules of social conduct and gives it to each newcomer, so what part of it did they not understand? It is getting a little awkward.
A drunk westerner falls off an uptown skyscraper. Another gets smashed and picks up a fight on his way to Heathrow. Gets arrested. A third is caught with his pants down. All in a week. Pub fights become more common. Being decanted into cabs at night is regular activity and the hedonistic self indulgence might get a brake on it for a while after this show all but will it stop the shenanigans?

I quite doubt it. Don’t take tolerance for weakness. The weakness lies in you, chaps.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shocker!!!

I recycle. Everyday. I carry four trash bags everytime I take the trash out, like hundreds of thousands of people in Spain. The glass into a seperate container, the metal, plastic, tetrabricks, aluminium into another, paper and carton into another and finally organic and other non-recyclable waste into a fourth bin. Needless to say, those of us who recycle are trying to do what we can to put in our little grain of sand towards the betterment of our mother, our planet.

But when the result is this (read article below), I am left completely flabbergasted and wondering where the waste I generate goes? Does it go to another country? Do little children in a far away land play around stinking heaps of my garbage?

Then it brings me to the larger picture. Is recycling really good? Should I re-think about continuing to recycle? How am I assured that my garbage in Spain is not exported to India, Brazil or Cambodia? Is it fair for one country to go "green" at the expense of another? At the end of the day, the garbage still remains on the planet. Things to ponder over...

What remains clear is that the Government of India has proved its incompetence once again, the Govt of Tamil Nadu too; along with the companies involved in this dirty and careless activity, who are importing what is surely toxic waste with complete disregard for any kind of moral or social responsibility. How does the Govt of Britain justify this?

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LONDON/NEW DELHI: Garbage is literally flying and hitting the roof thousands of kilometres away. A TV report about household waste collected weekly across Britain for recycling being shipped and dumped in India has the green brigade up in arms.

As part of Britain's efforts to go green and improve the environment, UK councils ask households to carefully separate waste into different categories: plastics, metal, paper and glass so that they can be recycled.

But, according to an investigation by a British TV channel, these bags are shipped to India on the waste black market, which is cheaper. It costs up to £148 (Rs 12,000) to recycle a tonne of rubbish once it is separated but only £40 (Rs 2,800) to ship it to India.

The investigation found that a receipt put into a paper recycling bin in Essex turned up at the top of a stinking rubbish mound in Tamil Nadu. It was traced to Walton-on-the-Naze home of Geoff Moore. His receipt for CDs was found by investigators at a sprawling rubbish heap in Tamil Nadu. They also found juice cartons, British newspapers, Walkers crisp packets, UK school reports and plastic bags.

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quote of the Day - so true!

"You know, you can … wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, it’s still going to stink after eight years."

---Sen. Barack Obama (responding to "phony outrage" over lipstick on a pig comment in the race up to the US presidential elections 2008)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Best Animation of Our Times

Came across this list of the top 50 Animations ever.
1. The Simpsons
2. Batman: The Animated Series
3. Cowboy Bebop
4. The Family Guy
5. G.I. Joe
6. South Park
7. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
8. Berserk
9. Justice League
10. Trigun
11. Tenchi
12. Transformers
13. Record of Lodoss War
14. X-Men: The Animated Series
15. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
16. Teen Titans
17. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
18. Looney Toons
19. Tweety and Friends
20. Thundercats
21. Garfield and Friends
22. Aeon Flux
23. Dinosaucers
24. Duck Tales
25. The Real Ghostbusters
26. Go-Bots
27. Heathcliff
28. C.O.P.S.
29. Captain N: Game Master
30. Inspector Gadget
31. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
32. Daria
33. Captain Planet
34. Dragonball Z
35. King of the Hill
36. Neon Genesis Evangelion
37. The Super Mario Brothers Super Show
38. Voltron
39. Robocop
40. Dino-Riders
41. Super Friends
42. Beavis and Butthead
43. Gummi Bears
44. The Flinstones
45. Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers
46. Exosquad
47. The Incredible Hulk
48. The Jetsons
49. M.A.S.K.
50. Richie Rich

Good ole Voltron is at number 38, cartoon series I used to watch dubbed in arabic as a kid. Other shows I remember watching as a child are Super Mario Bros, also in the list, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Incredible Hulk, Daria...But Captain Majid, Tom and Jerry, and Pink Panther are nowhere to be seen!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ISI behind fake currency racket in India

In its anti-India efforts, Pak's "government" agency, ISI launches a fake currency racket in India.

"LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: As it reels under the mounting terror menace with the fundamentalist outfits bombing cities to kill and maim innocents, India may also be faced with a grim threat of economic subversion.

A spate of seizures of fake currency notes across Uttar Pradesh with the trail leading towards Nepal has confirmed the fears of what the authorities call 'economic terror'.

While Indian agencies have for long been aware of ISI's plan to bleed India economically, having been engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the the plotters, the scale and sophistication of the operation has come as a shock to them. After the initial recovery of Rs 5 lakh from one Abid in Doomariaganj in UP, seizures have been reported from all over the state — Aligarh, Lucknow, Gonda and places neighbouring Bihar — leading the authorities to suspect that counterfeit currency adding up to Rs 40 crore may have been in circulation in Uttar Pradesh alone.

But what has stung security agencies this time is not only the quantum of the seizure but the fine printing and high quality currency paper that has been used to print the currency notes and strong evidence of collusion between banks and those working at ISI's instance."

Read the entire story here.

How much more proof is needed before something is actually done against the ISI and Pak supported terrorism? The only language that these folk understand is that of terror. They have to be taught a lesson in their own language. Soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pak to Probe Kabul Embassy Attack

Of the flood of comments that this article amassed (many ranging from LOL to hahahah), one reader said this, which sums up my views:

"Appointing the wolf to guard the hen house, Dr. Singh? This would be funny if not for the tragic murder of hundreds of Indian civilians and diplomats by Pakistan. Attacking the embassy of a country is an ACT of WAR. A country that is a victim of such an attack has every right, under UN conventions and international law, to retaliate by force and to declare war against the attacker. What do we do? We REQUEST the terrorist nation that attacked our embassy to investigate itself! We ASK the terrorist nation to prevent its attacks! We hold talks with them. We express outrage! We send them "tough messages"! Our leaders make phone calls to the leaders of the terrorist nation. Why not send the terrorists flowers? Do we EVER take any ACTION? Now the CIA and the US president have said the ISI was responsible for attacking our embassy in Kabul. What is wrong with the so-called leaders of India? Shouldn't we be bombing the terrorist camps into stone age? Shouldn't we capture the head of the ISI and prosecute him in our courts for murdering our citizens? Shouldn't we be amassing our army at the border? Cut off all sea and air routes to Pakistan? This is a terrorist nation. We should deal with them as we would deal with a terrorist, and one CANNOT negotiate with terrorists. We should not be talking to them any more. Afghanistan, NATO and the US are fighting terrorists harbored and trained by Pakistan on the other other side. On this side of the border their Army illegally entered our territory and KILLED our jawans. This is the right time to ACT. We amass 100,000 troops on the border immediately. We should start bombing the terrorist camps in Pak-occupied Kashmir NOW. Time for negotiations and dicussions has long elapsed."

Another true comment:
"Pakistan is a rogue state. It has, for the better part of its history, been a blood soaked military dictatorship, rife with intrigue and espionage. And the ISI has been exposed, once and for all! Thank the lord for that! There's no looking back from here: the whole world knows about Pakistan's double game now. Pakistan has lost all credibility. You can fool some of the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time. Thank god the US has FINALLY woken up to the fact that the military dictatorship in Pakistan is playing a double game, and diverting all US aid to combat terror towards waging a proxy war against India in PoK, and funding heinous terrorist attacks in India. Pakistan is in the deepest, blackest pit, economically, and instead of trying to compete with India, it should focus on its puny economy which is about to crash."

It would probably save a lot of time, fake drama, and possibly lives, if Pakistan would just hand itself over "officially" to the Taliban and its 'not so secret chum,' the ISI. Gilani, a PM elected in civilian elections, seems like a good man, and may have good intentions, however, lets face it, the country has always been ruled by the military, and by force. Civilian leaders have not survived. Which leads one to think - where is all of this going?

Friday, August 1, 2008

What We All Knew


The New York Times today has run a headline that says "Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, US Officials Say." Not that we all didn't already know that the July 7th Kabul bombing on the Indian Embassy was orchestrated by Pakistani intelligence already. On the day of the attack the Afghan officials released a statement saying that Pak's ISI was behind the attack. Days later, India accused the same Pakistani organisation (ISI) which, by the way, belongs to the "government" of Pakistan, of having a hand in the attacks, which Pak as usual denied. Not that there was any doubt as to Pakistan's hand in the attack, however, the finding by the supposedly neutral American CIA now merely confirms widely held suspicions.

I had a good laugh yesterday when I read in a piece of news that Pakistan wanted a similar nuclear deal as India. I thought, "are they serious?" I mean really, we're talking about today's uncontested number one terrorist country (should rename itself Terroristan), whose government itself harbours and supports suicide bombings and other radical and politically motivated attacks on innocent civilians on an extremely regular basis, and here they are crying that they can't have the same nuclear deal as India.

With all my respect towards my neighbours (the Pakistani shop-owners in Barcelona are good friends who I regularly buy samosas and other goodies from), Pakistan has light years of moral and economic progress to make before they can even start to compare themselves with India. I wish them all the success but before any real physical changes will ever be seen, mentalities first have to change - drastically. Unfortunately, that takes a long, long time to happen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Christian the Lion Cub

After a couple of depressing posts, here is something that almost made me cry, but for other reasons:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1231230/christian_the_lion/

Monday, July 7, 2008

This video blew my mind and soul away...

This is an ad running in Spain of a pork product. Mocking vegetarianism, they show hippy parents trying to force their kid to eat "vegetarian," which unfortunately people here perceive as lettuce and soya. The kid instead says, one last time and the family goes to a meat store and picks out the brand's product and they're convered, into meat-eaters.

This video continues the ad to show what these people have really become. Take a look. I'm sorry I couldnt find the english version of it. If and when I do, I'll put it up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Horror

With the arrival of summer, Spain sees the return of BLOOD FESTIVALS. Summer is here and as much as most of us look forward to this time of year to enjoy the sun, the sand, beaches and the outdoors, lets try not to forget the less fortunate ones for whom this period is very very far from celebration.

Many Spanish villages each summer begin their "festivities" by torture, humiliation and finally slow death of bulls, goats and other non-humans victims. The idea of "fun" for many in this country, including people with secondary "education," includes un-speakable barbarities and enjoyment from the pain and suffering of others. Sadistic? Do these people have massive Sadistic Personality Disorders? Are they mentally deranged? Let alone allow these barbaric traditions, how do they enjoy them?

What is Sadistic Personality Disorder?

Wikipidea Definition: a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning, and aggressive behavior, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by the repeated occurrence of at least four of the following:

  • Has used physical cruelty or violence for the purpose of establishing dominance in a relationship (not merely to achieve some noninterpersonal goal, such as striking someone in order to rob him/her).
  • Humiliates or demeans people in the presence of others.
  • Has treated or disciplined someone under his/her control unusually harshly.
  • Is amused by, or takes pleasure in, the psychological or physical suffering of others (including animals).
  • Has lied for the purpose of harming or inflicting pain on others (not merely to achieve some other goal). Gets other people to do what he/she wants by frightening them (through intimidation or even terror).
  • Restricts the autonomy of people with whom he or she has a close relationship, e.g., will not let spouse leave the house unaccompanied or permit teenage daughter to attend social functions.
  • Is fascinated by violence, weapons, injury, or torture.

I have come across people that enjoy and defend bullfights. Although I didnt get to know them personally (completely intentional), I can comfortably state that these people would display some of the above characteristics. Moreover, these are the same characteristics that serial killers, rapists, child molesters demonstrate. Shouldn't somebody conduct a scientific study of the link between abusing 3rd parties and crime?

I recently discovered a journalist called César Javier Palacios whose article Crónica Verde appears in the free daily "20 minutos" in Spain. I'd like to link to his recent work here, for those who are interested.

On my behalf, all I can say is, I'm delighted that summer is here; however, seeing things from where I am, its sometimes hard to believe that I'm living in 21st century Europe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Only in Spain...


...will you get to see the words "whore" and "slut" in the headline news. Talking about freedom of press...

Work Life Balance

I've been working almost 11 hours straight over the last few weeks. I may be about to lose my (in) sanity. Any tips on keeping healthy and sane?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Joke

Dad sent me a joke today by email. Its called "Appraisals and Increments;" here it is.

I'm wondering, if any of my ISM buddies are around- could you read this text without getting frustrated? How about in less then 5 minutes? I can't, and unfortunately didn't decipher the joke.

PS. U might have to click on the text to make it a readable size if too small.


The New Barcelona

The Asian diaspora in Barcelona is now not only seen in the Raval, but all around town. Next to my office, in what could be classified as the business area of the city (Diagonal), there is a Bangladeshi store that sells yummy aloo samosas for 1€, although the price seems criminal for what in Oman used to cost me - mind you, an aloo samosa double the size and double the taste - only 50bz, which amounts to a grand .10 €, only ten times less. However I try not to think of that when I enter that Bangladeshi's store and buy samosas for breakfast on days I feel like treating myself. Back to Asians in Bcn, its commonplace to see Pakistani and possibly Indian, Punjabi guys walking around town, on the buses, in the metro. Many a times they look at me, some recognizing that I'm one of theirs, while others don't. I wear my hair local style with long bangs, and can easily pass for a Brazilian or even Moroccan, Arab, Tunisian, eh you get the point.

However, I do get the biggest kick when I walk into Desi/Paki/Bangadeshi stores and upon greeting me with an "hola" they get a "namaste" in return, and thats me jumping over to Hindi. They get a pleasant shock, continue the conversation, while trying not to let their smiles be too obvious. I love keeping a straight face and pretending that the most normal thing in the world when one enters a shop in Barcelona, is to speak Hindi. Then, just before they can ask where I'm from and whether I live here, etc., I say thanks and walk out of there, leaving them slightly puzzled.

When I have a lot of time on my hands though, or when feeling homesick with a desire to speak my language, I will walk these streets, engaging in conversations about my entire life and how I've ended up in Spain. Usually turns out that many of the Pakistanis have lived in the Gulf (either UAE, Qatar or Saudi Arabia) before moving here. What this brief exchange gives them, I guess, is a temporary escape from monotony, and what it gives me is a temporary feeling of home.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Urge

For a few days now, I've been having a tremendous urge to visit the North Pole, find a Polar Bear and give him a big hug.

Does that make me weird?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kathak-Flamenco Fusion

Beautiful choreography between Kathak, the classical dance of Northern India, and Flamenco, folk dance from Andalusia, Spain. I can't wait to watch a fusion performance here in Barcelona.



The other day after flamenco class, a classmate asked me if I was from India. I said yes. She said she had recently seen an Indian dance performance that highly resembled Flamenco. She was referring to Kathak, the centuries old classical North Indian dance. She is convinced that Flamenco came from India.

Ofcourse something like that got me thinking. Many years ago, when I first heard flamenco and became obsessed with it, and moved to Spain with the aim of becoming a flamenco dancer (hahaha), parellel to that, I also became obsessed with the whole gypsy trail and the part they play in this art-form. As a child I learned Kathak dance for a few years. As an adult, I've chosen to dance flamenco. Anyway, in case anyone's interested in this subject, please visit "Indialucia". Here is an extract that explains nicely the relationship between the two art forms.

INDIAN MUSIC AND FLAMENCO

Indian music does not exhibit harmony, counterpoint or chords, but it is very distinctively based upon melody and rhythm. The musical tradition of India, which in spite of its long existence has never developed those elements, typical of European music, generated extremely complicated rhythms and hundreds of scales unknown to the musicians from Europe. Rhythmic schemas of this music are probably as difficult to learn for a European as baroque polyphony or jazz harmony for an Indian. However, a characteristic feature of both jazz and classical Indian music is improvisation, which constitutes 90 % of an artist's concert. An ever-returning theme and its improvised variations are present in creating music of both those styles. In terms of rhythm and expression, Indian music resembles flamenco a great deal. The rhythm, which next to the melody constitutes a basis of a composition, is also a theme for improvisation. Unevenly distributed stresses in cycles in the Indian music as well as in flamenco, require a great sense of rhythm from an artist. Extremely dynamic rhythmic parts in dialogues between the melodic and the percussion instruments resemble dialogues between the guitar and tapping of a dancer or cajón player. In this case the artist makes use of ready-made patterns or points in which they both interrupt the phrase in an ideally synchronised way. Such rhythmic mastery makes a great impression upon listeners who express their admiration with shouts like "kya baat hai", "waah" or "allah" (direct equivalents of the flamenco "ole"), cheering the performing artists. An extremely dynamic form of flamenco, bulerías contains elements such as expression, instrumental virtuosity and a sense of rhythm, which in Indian music are present in the faster parts of ragas. Free forms of flamenco, deprived of rhythm, such as martinete, tarantas, granainas or saeta resemble aalap, which is the first part of a raga, performed ad libitum, with a very mystic character.

One of the oldest rhythms established in Indian music was ektal - with a structure of 12 beats. In flamenco, the basic compás, a basis of the majority of forms, exhibits the same structure. The only things that make it different from the Indian rhythm are stresses and a way of phrasing. An Indian musician usually begins and finishes his improvisation together with the first beat of a cycle, stressing it and thus giving a listener a point where he can catch up with the rhythm. In flamenco, and especially more modern performance, the syncopated phrase or stresses lie between the beats in a bar and it is an artist's intention to surprise the listener who enjoys it very much.

Flamenco singing, being of an Oriental origin, is based mostly upon three scales, which are popular also in Indian music. For example, seguiryias, bulerías, tarantas, soleares or tangos are based upon the ragas bhairavi, bhairav or basant mukhari. The melismata and portamento used in Indian music are very close to flamenco but are much more complicated. The melodic range in flamenco seldom crosses the limits of a sixth, whereas in Indian singing the range depends on how much the singer can span and sometimes covers even three octaves. Similarities with flamenco song could be noticed also in qawwali singing from Pakistan, where an artist almost shouts out verses of a song in a husky voice.

In the present form of flamenco dance we can trace certain similarities to the kathak style from the north of India. The elements that resemble the dance of Andalusian Gypsies are the movements of arms, palms and fingers as well as tapping, typical for this kind of dance. In both styles the dance is usually performed by one person and it is closely connected to the music and rhythm. In flamenco a dancer is accompanied by a guitar, singing, clapping and a cajón, whereas in kathak apart from singing it can be tabla, pakhawaj, sitar or sarangi. In this case kathak is barefoot, and the tapping rhythm is dictated by bells hung at the dancer's ankles and by a loud "clapping" with his foot against the floor. Flamenco, however, is much more dynamic, sometimes even aggressive, or with an erotic character. In flamenco a dancer does not tell any story and his gestures do not bear any meaning: his movements and gestures express emotions or they emphasise the meaning of lyrics and character of the melody accompanying them.

We cannot say for sure that flamenco has its roots in India. However we know, that the Gypsies left India ages ago. One could wonder: had they arrived from China, would flamenco develop in the form we know today? Even if both those extremely interesting genres of music are not directly related, one can state that what is common to Indian and flamenco music is their emotionality, expression, rhythm, depth and sensitivity.

----

This is where the article ends. I can't talk much about the technical aspects of music. Although, like many many others, I can't help but notice similarities between Kathak and Flamenco, something tells me they share a centuries old bond.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

El Perrito Cantaor

Someone who knows how much I love dogs and flamenco sent me this.



Cute or what?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flamenco is Back!

I'm starting flamenco classes soon which I had kind of left aside since late last year. Yippie :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shedding Old Skin

In tight-spaced Barcelona flats, sometimes everything you own can't find suitable space. I recently embarked on a closet-cleanout mission. I was hoping to get rid of a lot of stuff, but was disappointed with myself when the final result of the raid was only about 8 pairs of clothes that came out as "good to be donated." At first I thought that I could give away my Dave Matthews t-shirts without thinking twice about it. And I even took them out and kept them aside, to be taken to the recycle bin. They were sitting outside in the corridor of my flat, in the most "discarded" location possible...when it suddenly hit me! I was about to throw away some of my most cherished memories. Those who knew me in college can vouch for the Dave Matthews fan I used to be.

The concerts weren't just about going and seeing a group perform.... they were a ceremony that you attended with like-minded souls, all too obsessed with the music, just like you. The t-shirts you would wear to the concert, the tailgating for hours in the parking lot listing to DMB music before, the meeting other obsessed DMB fans like you, the talks about a certain line in a certain song that just blew our minds...My partner in crime was Nathan Williams. For college students it was a BIG deal to buy a concert ticket that cost $60. Then, if the group wasn't playing in your hometown, people like us would try and go to nearby shows. I remember twice having driven up to Virginia and once to Alabama to see the band. One time was so special because DMB were playing in their hometown of Charlottsville after many many years. I drove 11 hours (alone!!!!) to and from the concert location in two days: 22 hours, because Nate, my dear friend had lost his drivers' license. How I wanted to strangle him then :) At the end of the day though, we were invincible DMB fans and nothing else mattered but the music.

Its kind of strange that the group stopped mattering to me. A look at those t-shirts which were bought at concerts, marking dates and locations of their summer tours (2000,2001, 2002)... it was finally too much. Therefore, like it or not, since I don't wear t-shirts anymore, someday my kids will : )

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

16th of March, 2008. The day I watched Jodhaa Akbar. A day that will go down in my personal history as having changed something inside me.

This movie has left me spellbound. My sister told me to write down what I feel so I am going to try and do that, but I'm afraid the bulk of my emotions will remain inside me, unable to be formalised as verbal expression.

I was walking down calle Botella in the Raval on Saturday night when I saw a Hindi DVD store and immediately went in and bought the pirated copy of Jodhaa Akbar (the only version available). I'm so glad I did that because watching the movie yesterday has awakened something dormant in my being.

At the moment, I feel as if a ball of pure energy were rolling inside me, gaining size, momentum and consistency with each passing moment, waiting to explode into a torrent of emotions, each atom of which, filling my being with one desire: to reach out and touch my roots. The desire to be in Rajasthan and lose myself in the towns, villages, palaces, lakes and deserts of my beloved land.

Is there a reason I was born a Rajput Jat? The Rajputs hailing from the Kshatriyas, ancient Hindu warriors that defended their kingdom, their people, and faith. It has dawned on me, that in my own way, I have to somehow defend what my ancestors have been preserving for thousands of years, and the fact that so far I haven't dedicated any part of my life to that effect is making me restless.

Its been hard for me to recognise reality coming out of this 3 hour 20 minute cinematic experience; I'm in a daze, unable to grasp where I am, or what my purpose is in being where I am, or even maintain a conversation over 2 minutes long. This film (in spite of being a pirated dvd watched on a home television set in a slightly hungover state), has to be one of the best in my life.

And while I come out of my daze, I recommend everyone to watch this love story of a Rajput princess and the greatest of the Moghul emperors in 16th Century India, for a well spent 3+ hours (although in my case they really just flew by).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bollywood in Barcelona


I'm going through another Bollywood crazed phase. Yesterday I watched "Bollywood, the Show" at the Tivoli Theatre in Barcelona. It was a spectacular colourful musical extravaganza, and surely quite novel for the Spanish eyes. The theatre with a capacity for 1,643 people, was packed and two and a half hours into the show, all the Catalans were clapping and dancing to the tunes of "Shawa, Shawa" and "It's the Time to Disco." It was really a scene! In fact all the Bollywood groups in Barcelona were in competition a few weeks before as my ex-flatmate who danced at the Masala Club told me. Of the 12-odd Bollywood groups in Barcelona, the winning group accompanied the artists in the finale on stage.

I realised yesterday how much I miss being around Indian stuff. How much I miss my masala dosas. And how much I miss wearing my lehengas and salwaar kameezes. So ofcourse today I've spent a good amount of time downloading Bollywood music and I've made a finding: Bollyrobics. Check it out here.

Friday, February 1, 2008

To Die in Jerusalem

Last night I went to the Verdi Cinema for the European premier of the film "To Die in Jerusalem." The director, Hilla Medalia was present and the audience was able to ask her questions at the end and have a little discussion.

The documentary based on the suicide bombing by a 17 year old Palestinian girl that killed a 17 year old Israeli girl revolved around the mothers and families of the two girls. No matter how well you think you know the Israeli-Palestinian situation, seeing it from this angle was just brutal. I found to movie to be pretty unbiased, ofcourse if you leave aside the fact that its focused on the killing of an Israeli by a Palestinian. You see the aftermath of the bombing in the Jerusalem supermarket, and then the two families, the Israeli and the Palestinian. The Israeli family (supposedly a low class-not rich family) lives well, and the mother can only think about the loss of her daughter. The Palestinian family lives in horrible conditions, where death and suffering are daily routine.

The climax of the movie rotates around the conversation between the two mothers via a satellite meeting, and you see a stark contrast. The Israeli mum thinks of her loss as unique and is indignant about losing her daughter, while the Palestinian mum cannot accept that her daughter's death was caused for nothing. She fights for the principle her daughter died for, whereas the Israeli mum categorises it all as violence. The highlight of the movie for me was when the Israeli mother said to the Palestinian mother, 'can you stop talking about politics?' Israelis can actually think of separating politics from feelings, whereas the Palestinians are struggling for their basic needs.

This conflict only gets worse through the generations. When we exchanged our thoughts with the director afterwards, one of the things she mentioned was that in her parents' time they had quite a few Palestinian friends. While she was growing up, that interaction reduced, whereas kids growing up in Israel today are completely oblivious to the suffering that goes on on the other side of the recently mounted wall. She visited a refugee camp for the first time in her life, when she was shooting the film. The compulsion for all Israelis to go to the army according to me, is a major reason that the Palestinian is automatically seen as an enemy and a terrorist.

I say go see the documentary if you can. This issue can never be solved unless people are made aware of it and bring it out in the open, and by resisting extremist policies. The Israeli "left" has to awaken and fight its extremist leaders. But who knows if that is possible... as far as this movie is concerned, any hope for understanding in Gaza seems unfortunately, practically impossible.

Quote for the Day

Am I lame or what? I dont write in months, and when I do, its to put up a quote or a thought.
Hmph. Anyway, yaani, check this out.

Christopher Marlowe - "Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Holidays are Great

I made a trip to Puerto Rico last month. Was wonderful to be in a tropical place in the middle of winter. Reminded me a little of Thailand (everytime I go to a remotely tropical beach, I'm reminded of Thailand). How I wish I could just pack a backpack and head to Thailand.

Anyway, we did have a Thai connection in the time I was in PR. On Christmas Eve we made a vegetarian Thai dinner which was just delicious, and then opened our presents that Niño Jesús got us. I got lovely yoga pants and a black cap which rocks. I loved seeing my friends in PR, which is a Spanish family that I met in Atlanta years ago while I was studying at UGA, and because they were like my first Spanish family, literally.

Then a few days later I headed to NYC. Who wouldn't like to head to NYC to celebrate new year's eve. That wasn't a question, by the way. My better half decided last minute that he'd like to join me, so there we were, visiting the sights of the city in minus 5 to minus 12º C weather. I've never been colder in my life, it was as if no matter how many layers you put on, you're still gonna be cold. So you may as well get used to it. I guess they sell specific clothing for extreme cold, and I guess that that is what you're supposed to have when you visit NY around new year's time. And we thought we went prepared...no, at the end of the day we were like two clueless Spanish-Indian people. But then it is also a city (country) thats extremely well heated indoors. In Spain people are more conscious about energy from a young age and minimise its use. They bundle up in order to save energy, in the US, its snowing outside and you sit inside your living room in a t-shirt, imagine the disparity.

We had a blast partying NY style, and the best part was the reunion with old friends again.

Love the holidays!