Egypt? Really?

I thought Egypt was one of those chilled-out countries, a distant corner of the world where people were worried more about the sandstorms than politics. All those vague novels about Egypt where the protagonist talks about how he/she walks about in the desert looking for mummies and other scary relics from the past. I never for an instant thought Egypt would be a country like any other – where politics and people don’t mix.

It was quite depressing to see the news the other day with so many people revolting and killing each other, all because of some arcane political rules. This was the one country I was actually looking forward to visiting, but then, I guess I will have to shelve that idea for now.

I do feel for the poor souls who have endured this nightmare for the past few days and I write this post as a mark of respect, condemning the uprising and the inability of the existing political leaders to quell the revolt. If you want to show your support for Egypt, go ahead and ‘like’ this post and leave a comment. What more can we really do but voice our thoughts?

 

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Who Ate My Onions?

With the onion prices in India touching the lower levels of the atmosphere and aiming to break the planet’s escape velocity, its only fair that people resort to innovative methods of making money. This will follow the typical Darwinian principle of strong-eat-weak and rich-screw-over-poor. Come to think of it, I think Darwin deserves a Nobel Prize in economics – I’m sure a lot of people think that his ‘Origin of Species’ was a metaphorical work describing the economic recession.

I went to the supermarket last evening to pick up some vegetables for the empty fridge, and after spending some time near the onion counter contemplating the steeply rising prices, my attention was diverted to two people who were fighting close to me.

Here’s how the conversation went, roughly:

Fat Guy With Ponytail: What did you call me?

Thin Guy With Ribs Sticking Out: Nothing, sir. I did not say anything.

FGWP: No, you called me fat!

TGWRSO: No, No! I did not!

FGWP: Admit it. You were stealing onions from my basket and then when I caught you, you called me fat!

TGWRSO: Sir, you got me wrong. I was not stealing. I was just looking at them. Please sir, I am not a thief!

FGWP: Likely story! You should be flogged!

At this, the thin guy with ribs sticking out started pleading with folded arms in a typically Indian and totally pathetic manner. This brought the store manager rushing towards the commotion.

Store Manager: What is happening here? What’s the racket about? Stop fighting, sir (addressing the Fat Guy).

FGWP: Good you came! Are you the manager?

SM: Yes sir! I am. What is the problem here?

FGWP: This guy was stealing my onions! Trash him!

SM: (Looking at the thin guy and then back to the Fat Guy) Sir, he was not stealing your onions.

FGWP: What?? I tell you, this guy was stealing! Are you calling me a liar? I saw him reach out and pick up two onions from my basket while was about to turn around!

SM: Sir, that’s not possible. This fellow works here at the store. He is in charge of the onion section.

At this, the Fat Guy was somewhat flabbergasted, but he held his position and continued his tirade.

FGWP: You hire thieves in your store! Do you know how much these onions cost? An arm and a leg! He was stealing it!

SM: Sir, give him a chance to explain. (Looking now at the thin guy) Rama, explain yourself. Did you pick up two onions from this man’s basket?

TGWRSO: Yes sir…

FGWP: Aha!

TGWRSO: …but I wasn’t stealing!

SM: Then why did you pick them up?

TGWRSO: They dropped into his basket by mistake. These onions belong to this man here.

And he pointed at me.

I looked into my own basket, and true enough, I was two onions short. The Fat Guy looked at me, then at the thin guy, then at the store manager and then back at me, trying to figure out how I fit into his whole onion-thievery theory. Apparently I didn’t. He just handed me back my onions and mutered, “Sorry” under his breath to all three of us and walked away.

Davos: Saving The World In 5 Days

When Klaus Schwab started the World Economic Forum 41 years ago, I’m sure he had a lot of good intentions. I’m sure he saw this as an opportunity for the world leaders to get together and discuss about the more pressing concerns plaguing the planet and to come up with ideas to battle them. However, he did not foresee that in the year 2011, forty-one years after inception, the WEF has served more as a networking platform for the filthy rich to get richer and the filthy poor to deepen their envy.

Some of the more interesting facts about the annual Davos WEF, that you probably didn’t know and might shock you are also some of the most over-looked aspects of these forums each year. The price of admission is as steep as  USD $600,000 for a party of four people, including the cost of travel, accommodation, dinner and drinks. But since the main action happens in private dinners hosted by the influential rich, the cost shoots up into the upper stratosphere.

Everyone who attends the WEF is given a dedicated Mercedes S Class sedan and a driver with door-to-door pick-up facility. Awesome, isn’t it? Mr. Schwab confessed this year that “…he is concerned that governments and international organizations can no longer cope with the capacity and fast pace of this new reality.” This is quite a statement considering the USD $115 million in revenue that Davos 2011 is expected to generate.

I’m confused – can’t some of the more ‘cheaper’ problems be solved with only half that amount? Do the world leaders really need to spend an insane amount of money just to get together in a remote ski-resort and discuss the world’s problems and go “Tut, tut,” and nothing more concrete. Perhaps the most glaring chink in the Davos armor was revealed in 2010, when the WEF discussed all the problems in the world and missed Europe’s sovering debt crisis, which resulted in a lot of criticism and bad press for the leaders.

This year again, one hopes that Davos will prove to be a starting point for something more substantial than weighing chequebooks, but one feels the need to shelve these hopes.

For a detailed account of the moneys being spent at Davos, check this article at NY Times.

PS: This year at Davos, world leaders in business, politics and industry are encouraged to bring a female companion along to increase the diversity of the gathering.

PPS: U2’s Bono is attending this year’s Davos WEF, ostensibly to contemplate on the world’s problems. Ha!

 

Suresh Kalmadi Humiliates India Again, This Time With His Sausage

kalmadi 'pole' vaultingA few months after the worst-ever Commonwealth Games ended in New Delhi, disgraced Chairman of the CWG Committee Suresh Kalmadi found himself entangled in a fresh controversy in a string of never-ending disasters. He woke up yesterday morning cursing the day he ever accepted becoming the CWG Chairman, and perhaps, his own lousy strategies. After all, any Indian politician has to be an expert in making dirty money without getting caught.

I’m sure you all remember the weird, eel-shaped thing floating around in mid-air above the Nehru Stadium during the Games. I’m sure all of you, like me, looked at it and said, “What in God’s sweet name is that eyesore?”  And all of you, like me, tried really really hard not to stare that ‘thing’ directly in the eye. Innovatively called the ‘Aerostat’ (I wonder why), the sausage was supposed to be the main attraction of the Games. Unfortunately, it did nothing but sit (fly?) there and look menacing. And after all that crap about crappy toilets and collapsing infrastructures, the people who actually danced beneath this monstrosity should be given medals of honor for bravery beyond imagination.

Anyway, the reason I mention this and write a post about this is to reflect on all that has gone wrong with the CWG and things that continue to go wrong for Suresh Kalmadi just when he thought the worst was over.

Two days ago, a consortium of Australian logistics companies threatened to sue the CWG Committee and Kalmadi for over $500,000 in unpaid dues and held-up equipment still stuck in New Delhi, which were not returned to them. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, yell or ignore this ridiculousness. I also do not want to dismiss this as a “typical Indian mentality’, a cliche what I’ve heard many times and disagree with. This is not typical. We don’t hire an agency and not pay it once the service has been rendered. (We usually try to negotiate on the price.)

Yesterday, Suresh Kalmadi faced yet another embarrassment with this Aerostat Sausage Thing. When he was busy skimming off the top and fattening his wallet, neglecting his duties and allowing the Games preparation to dive into the ditch unheeded, the Sausage was taking shape very nicely. Except for actually working like it was supposed to, it did very well. The initial plan was to have athletes dangle from the Sausage and do stunts in mid-air. But then, as everything else, the plan went to utter ruins as there was no time for practicing, and no one seemed to be bold enough to sacrifice their lives for Kalmadi’s Sausage.

The Sausage has created a debt of Rs. 70 crore (almost $1.5 million) and the events company that was supposed to be responsible for the dangling athletes hasn’t been paid over $200,000 in dues for not ‘utilizing the Aerostat’s maximum potential’.

If you don’t say it, I will. “What the fuck.”

Kalmadi is probably better off managing some good-for-nothing department in the government like stone-cutting or past-recollections committees, and never again should he be allowed within a mile of anything that can be skimmed off of. Because if there’s one thing he does not know, its how to make dirty money and get away with it without bring the whole damned country to her knees in shame and humiliation.

Suresh Kalmadi brings shame yet again to his country. This time with his huge Sausage.

When The Fan Hits The Shit

… I wouldn’t want to be anywhere within fifteen feet of that debacle. But, this post has nothing to do with fans or motors or shit. Seriously, there is no toilet humor in this post. Yeah, I know the feeling. I’ve become boring. Can’t help it. I’m probably in a very interesting phase of my life right now, with absolutely no idea what’s going to happen in the future. I’m poised precariously and I can either end up going to jail for murdering an endangered species of bird (out of frustration) or hitting the jackpot big time.

Most of the people who have made it big in life have been through this situation some time or the other. The stronger ones have come out smelling of roses. The weaker ones usually don’t come out of it. If they do, roses are the last thing on their minds. They would be on the hunt for that bastard bird to kill.

What bird, you ask? I have no idea. That’s the great thing about rants. It need not make sense to anyone, even the one ranting. Let’s all clap our hands together for no reason, sniff our fingertips and spit at the nearest wall. It’s going to be a three-legged race on the sharp edge of a razor blade. Hooah!