Wednesday, March 12, 2014

AAP, a true representative of Aam Aadmi

From the time that IAC movement began, I have been stating that the people involved were disillusioned. While it is important to get rid of corruption and to take every possible step that effect, targeting politicians and thinking that only they are corrupt was like missing the wood for the trees.

The way people have been after the politicians has always made me wonder, where do these people think politicians come from? They were all Aam Aadmi, once upon a time. They were not born politicians. Some of them were first industrialists (Aap does have Capt. Gopinath, founder of Air Deccan), Lawyers, Cops etc. These all fit into the definition of Aam Aadmi. Once they enter politics, they become politicians. Just like AAP members.

What I hate most about AAP is their 'holier than though' attitude. They think there is some sort of litmus test that identifies corrupt from non-corrupt. Well, there actually is. If you are weak, then you are non-corrupt, because you are out of option. If you are powerful, you have the possibility of being corrupt and non-corrupt. The only way you can find out if someone is corrupt is by giving them power and watching them. The phenomenon is noted down very well in the movie Chronicle. The movie tracks three high-school students who got super-powers and how it impacted them. It shows the bullies calming down and the weakling going bad. This is how it will happen with the Aam Aadmi.

Do not agree with me, see all the evidence of people being beaten down and killed for the most basic of crimes. You think the cops and the politicians are corrupt, think about how their corruption work. Would a traffic constable be able to remain corrupt if people stop paying chai-pani to escape the actual fine? Would the government officer be able to remain corrupt if people stopped paying bribe to get their files passed without scrutiny?

Let me tell you this, the Indian Aam Aadmi cannot live in a puritan society that they think AAP will bring. It is a different issue that AAP is not going to bring in such a think. They are anarchist, who do not want to go by the law. Would you have liked someone to barge into your house and inspect you without a warrant, like Mr.. Bharti did to the African women? Would you enjoy being blocked in your taxi and forced to undergo medical tests? There is a reason why civilized societies have certain laws and give rights even to those accused of crimes. It is because it is really easy to accuse someone of crimes. I could file a complaint against anyone and without any basis. It is the government and the law enforcement who should then weigh in on the complaint and decide if the action is required.

Makes me wonder, what would Mr. Bharti do if a congress MLA/MP had done the same thing when the current AAP members were mere protesters and not 'Politicians'.

A Biker in Hibernation

I have a biker in me. A lot of people who have known me only in recent times may find that information quite shocking, but that is the truth. I have made quite a lot of bike trips in the past and some of them on the spur of the moment, without planning. It is just that the biker is in hibernation right now. I am waiting to get back in shape so that I can survive the rigors of the road. The roads in Pune are a big help, but still needs lot more.

Anyways, while I was thinking of the biker-of-yore (yours truly), I was just reminiscing some of the past memories. They are mostly vague and I just thought of capturing them in short here, hopefully in the order of chronology.

My First Ever Bike Trip:
When I say my first ever, I mean my first ever long trip. Trips to work or to college do not count. Neither does the 60 KM ride to Nandhi Hills from Bangalore in the middle of the night. It has to have a minimum of 100 Kms to qualify or Sandy (founder of Bikers Fraternity) will not accept it as a bike trip.

This particular one was one sponsored by my previous company (Mentorware). A company that sponsors bike trips, yes sir. No, I don't think they still do it. This was pre-recession era, you see. This company had this annual outing plans for the entire employee base. This was usually carried out in Tempo Travelers (now Force Travelers and TT for short), but this time some of us got the permission to use bikes and get paid for the fuel (how awesome is that). So the trip had two Tempo-Travelers (Now called just Travelers, after the company got renamed to Force Motors), and five bikes. Including the two pillions, there were 7 bikers in total.

The trip went on well and without much incidents till around the time we reached Mysore. The to TTs and the bikes were more or less in tandem throughout this time. One of the bikes had a slight problem in that it used to skid often, and another one was slightly less powerful, so these two stuck together, the other three (including mine were ahead). After Mysore, the three of us split from the rest of the group and proceeded ahead. The pillions had shifted base to the TT by this time (traveling pillion for long distances can really cause pain in the backside, unintended pun). For some unknown reason, my bike decided to rest. I think it did not like being stressed too much. I thought the engine was shut because of overheating, but this was the only time it has happened, so I am no longer sure. The continuous ride was under one hour and I have ridden at higher speeds and for longer duration after that with no problems at all. The other two bikers had overtaken me. Just when I was about to panic, one of them luckily noticed that I was not around and came back. I was young, did not know a lot about bikes. I did not know where I was and did not know the local language, it would not have been fun to seek help with the only sentence known being "nange Kannada gothilla" (I don't know Kannada). The best part was that the cell-phone was of no use either, with no towers in sight. Luckily the other guy had a working phone, but knew as much about bikes as I did. So while we waited we called the guys who were left behind, because the guy in front could not be reached. They had taken a detour and were expected to land ahead of the place where we were stuck. At this point, I made a mental note to carry a tent, sufficient amount of water and some snack for future trips (other than the tent, I have followed the rest in all future trips). After about 10 minutes worth of rest, the bike felt refreshed and started on one stray attempt. Quite relieved that we won't have to sleep under the starry sky with no food or water before we get help, we moved on.

At this point, we did not know that the Rain God had decided to help me cool the engine down, and the delay was in getting the water down from the high atmosphere. I am sure Indian Bureaucracy was involved. It touched down as soon as we started moving from there. I forgot to thank him, but how could I have known. Some people may halt and wait for the rain to subside, but not us. Young and foolish as they say. No qualms though, nothing happened. We rode on till we  found the guy, manager in the company, who had gone ahead. He had realized after going quite a long way that he was alone and had decided to take a halt. So we took a short break to appraise the situation to the manager. The HR (the guy who waited for me), the manager (who did not notice) and the software developer (your's truly) marched ahead.

The road wasn't all that good for the initial few KMs. The rough roads slowed us down a bit, but it was worth it riding through the woods. The Bandipur forest was fun, and then we entered Mudumalai. This seemed denser to me. The rain and the forest made the ride a cold one. To ride in wet clothes, you should experience the feeling to know how fun that is. The road continued to be bad (the condition had improved substantially in my subsequent trips, quite before the time of writing this blog). There was ghat in there, which was quite steep. This was the best part of the ride, the first such ghat for me and HR guy. We were thrilled at it. There was another route with a steep much lower than this, but this was both shorter and fun. We got to Ooty by 3 PM because we took this route. This is when we realized that we do not know which way to go. We knew we had to go to Parson's Valley Resort and assumed boards advertising it to be available everywhere. To our disappointment, no one had even heard of such a thing. The only Parson's Valley they knew of was the Parson's Valley forest reserve.

All the coordinators for this trip were in the TTs and three of us bikes had reached the spot. Two of us had not activated mobile roaming and hence could not make any calls. One biker who had roaming activated had his battery drained. With whatever charge was left, he tried calling the organizers, but no one could be reached. So we decided to find the route ourselves to Parson's Valley Resort. The best bet was that this would be around the Parson's Valley Forest Reserve. With this in mind, we went in the direction of the forest. Someone told there is a dam around there too. So we made that our aim, thinking that there should be a resort around the dam. We kept going with no signs of any resort around. Finally we got to the dam. It was around 5 PM by now. There still was no resort, but a path went down from the road. It was just a mud-path and we did not think a resort could exist there. Also, the rains had made the steep drop almost impossible to go by bike. We decided that could not be the resort, and went into to the dam to check if we could get any information. The people there did not even know what a resort was. So they suggested we go another 8 KM to another dam and check there. It was a fruitless travel. By this time, it had started to get dark and we were in the middle of a jungle. With no idea about what to do, we decided to get back to town and started on our way back.

Below is a patch of the road leading to Parson's Valley.

Rest of the story will follow in the next installment.

Culture of Averages and Playing Safe...

Indian's as a culture have the habit of being on the average. No one tries to be different. Everyone just wants to do something that is already being done better that the other people. No one cares to do different things, not even things differently. Those who want are even subdued by family pressures and such. Things have started looking better these days with people choosing to be independent and choosing careers different from the established career paths, but these are still quite an exception. Most people just finish the degree and then get into a big company or government job and are happy with the organic growth there. Else, they are working in their family business. No one dares to think completely out of the box.

Another thing with Indians is that even the entrepreneurs of India have rarely come up with something substantially different. Most of what they do are Indian versions of what already exist abroad or are copies of stuff. Any Indian who has done substantial research or innovation has done so because he broke shackles and left the country. Why does it have to be so? Why does India love to play safe?

I read an article a few days back which said that even venture capitalists in India would be willing to invest only in an idea that has shown success already, not in something that is revolutionary. If entrepreneurs and innovators cannot get funds, then how can they innovate? The only place where there is a scope of getting funds is in the government organizations. While I am not sure how easy or tough it is to get funds there, I am sure that being that fact that it is a secured job by itself would drive out innovation. I have also heard cases of seniors taking credit for findings of juniors, and thus driving the juniors to suicide and such. If such is the environment, then how would innovation prosper?

These days there is a lot of noise to make India or Indians job creators and not job seekers. How would we achieve this if we do not encourage people to think different, to take risks, to ask questions. If anyone has come up with an invention or an innovation, it has been because they challenged the norms or accepted practice. They asked the question, can this be done better, is there a better way to do this, can this effort be eliminated. The day people ask such questions and then work on finding a solution to that question rather than brushing it aside, India can hope to gain a distinction on the innovation map. Till then, I am not very hopeful.

The experience of being on the Highway!!!

I've always enjoyed being on the road. No, not like that, I meant travelling. Usually it has been on my bike, but have always missed not being able to go north. That is what originally motivated me to take this trip, seated in the seats of a cinema theater. The scenery looked awesome in the promos. There was some promise on the performances as well. I must say, I was not at all disappointed.

Everything in the movie fits perfectly like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle arranged together. I liked the way the first scene was shot as if on a personal camcorder. And did the kidnap scene look real! Randeep Hooda delivered an awesome performance, but it was Alia who surprised me. I had almost no expectations from her after whatever I saw of SOTY . Other than the fact that she looked too young for the character she played, she justified it completely. Each scene was so convincing that I did not mind missing out on other important tasks for the day, since it was reluctantly that I went for the movie on that day. I had heard/read elsewhere that the soundtrack was not up to the mark, but I enjoyed the sound of the movie. There was this Rajasthani folk song that I loved. Patakha Guddi is the only one people said they liked, and it really was good. I do not recollect many of the songs from the music album actually in the movie. Probably they are the ones that people were complaining about.

While the movie was not a comedy movie, there was enough laughter in the movie. The laughter did not need funny faces or unnecessary histrionics. The situations brought out the laughter by itself. More of such comedies please. Even the emotional scenes, or rather the scenes where the actors were sad made us laugh. The comedy was in the situation, and was only for the audience. The actors were not trying to be comic. Isn't that refreshing in itself among movies with high pitched shrieks and falling on ones bum etc., as the only forms of comedy, other than portrayal of gay men as extremely effeminate men.

The drawback of the movie could be that the plot is not entirely new. There is a kidnapped girl who falls in love with the kidnapper story and there is the girl and boy of opposite nature travel together and fall in love story. But the way the movie is handled is awesome. There is the confused love between the rough and tough Mahabeer (Randeep Hooda) and the Delhi elite city girl Veera (Alia Bhatt). In fact, it is not really clear what kind of love it is that developed between them either. There is also this freedom in travel angle that the director Imtiaz Ali has explored before as well.

Another aspect that is touched upon this movie is that of child molestation that happens in the family in terms of Veera's personal childhood tragedy and how it is suppressed for family honor etc., and the oppression of poor in the villages, as a back story for Mahabir.

My favorite part in the movie was where Mahabir's internal turmoil is brought forth when he talks about one bullet killing two, one who is fired upon and the one who fires it. I probably will go on and on, but there is not a lot I can add to it at this point.

Also checkout my review at hubpages.

First attempts at stitching cards

My wife recently wrote a note on her first experience with stitching cards here. A summary of her experience is mentioned below:

Stitching Card is a hobby that is very easy to practice. This requires very basic materials like a pricking tool (needle, pin etc.), colorful threads, cello tape and card paper. The below are the steps followed:

I referred the website Form-A-Lines for sample patterns.  The website had the sample designs and the method of stitching that could be used. To get started I needed to get the sample pattern on the card sheet. I marked the pattern with very light pencil dots and then used a regular safety pin to prick those patterns onto the sheet. Once the stencil was done I used the threads (using the color combination as suggested on the site)  to stitch across the pattern.  On the hind side of the sheet, I stuck the loose ends of the threads using cello tape. This gave it a neat look at the hind side as well.

Once the design was complete, using the threefold card, I pasted this sheet on the front side and sealed the backside of this sheet. I also stuck a pair of blank white sheet in the center of my card to write Best Wishes etc., and voila my first stitching card was ready.

Couple of tips here: When sewing the threads between the points, you need to ensure the threads are not lying loose but are pulled firm. At the same time while pulling the threads ensure that you don’t enlarge the previously pricked holes or else your card may look untidy.

My preferred avenue for posting articles at present is the India Study Channel because it pays you anywhere between Rs. 5 and Rs. 100 for an article, and hence is a nice place to earn additional income. I must say that it is a good place for students, housewives etc. to make some income in their free time. They have a lot of options which will pay, like submitting question papers, interview experience etc. Also, once you have achieved a certain score, you can also earn from their revenue share options.

Some more samples.


India Celebrates Satya Nadella

Today, most Indian news papers and channels are filled with Satya Nadella. Just because he was born in India and has got such a recognition. On another day, he would have been called a traitor by many for having left the mother-nation for greener pastures, but a winner cannot be a traitor, can he? I have witnessed adulation and messages congratulating the nation as if somehow through Satya, the entire nation was given control of Microsoft.

Do not get me wrong. I have nothing against Mr. Nadella. I am sure, he is completely worthy of the post he has been given and also for the adulation. What I do not understand is, what does that have to do with him being Indian? Was he given such a post because he is an Indian? Or is all the celebration because he was given the post despite being an Indian? As noted in FirstPost this is a SLAP in the face of the nation. This is yet another person who has reached glory after leaving India . Unparalleled glory, something he would not have achieved had he stayed in India. Unlike what Mr. Arun Gupta states here , I do not think it is as such a bad news for India, but I just do not find it worthy for India to gloat over. What India should look at on the contrary is, what should India do to have the next Bill Gates to be from India.

When would we find someone who shines, not because he became the CEO of a big corporate that already existed, not because he inherited a large corporate, but because they being in India and without having to leave India could make something that does today, that Microsoft did in its beginning. That is something that I would call for a celebration. Why should I celebrate a US citizen winning a nobel, even if he is of Indian origin. I would celebrate when and Indian citizen wins the prize, even if of another origin. I would also hope that it happens for something in science. I would also like for someone to have an idea that could rival Microsoft or Apple, and be originated in India. Can these happen? Probably, but I do not see much brightness in the near future. As Mr. R Jagannathan notes in the First Post article above, our culture promotes mediocrity and encourages muggers and talkers rather than doers.

What if AdSense is not for you?

You have been blogging for some time, with a hope that you will be able to earn some money using AdSense. But you are not able to get through their eligibility process. It is tough, I know from experience. They have also started making it tougher for people from India and China, as I heard from some others. Can't blame them. People in a hurry to make money did stuff illegally. Also, I deleted the blog in which I was approved in a fit of anger. So, lost AdSense, and can't reapply since it looks for the same site now. So what do we do now? Do we give up, or do we look for alternatives? I have found a few Google AdSense Alternatives.

I have tried a few AdSense Alternatives. The good thing with these is, you can have them approved even with relatively lower traffic. I had just about started on my blogs and have had less than a 1000 visits when I applied. I still got it approved. The CPCs etc. are yet to be found, but I think it is not a bad start. Below are some of them and their features.

Let me start with Chitika:
Chitika, is said to be one of the best alternative sources for AdSense. This works much the same way as AdSense and has both Text based and Rich Content ads. However, the ads are displayed based on the search terms that the user used to arrive at your site. This is also their drawback. If someone reaches your site based on a URL sent to them or through a bookmark, no ad will be displayed. Only user's arriving through a search engine will be able to see ads. The good thing is, they have lower payout limits. You can get paid as soon as you reach $10.

Another good program is InfoLinks:
InfoLinks has in-text ads. This means no additional space is used on your site, they just highlight text in your site and display ads based on them. You are paid if anyone clicks on these ads. This can be used in conjunction with any other ad networks like AdSense, Chitika etc. The minimum payout for this is $50.

Third option is BidVertiser:
The good thing about BidVertiser is that it displays the highest bid ad on your page. If your site gets enough visitors, chances are advertisers will bid high for your site and you can end up getting more out of it. BidVertiser has some hover ads, and might not go with all other ad networks. It would be best to check individual policies. This also has a low payout limit of $10.

Do explore the options. If you like the information I provided, do not forget to share it further.

NOTE: All minimum payouts have been provided with respect to payment received over PayPal.

My Blogger profile before linking it with Google Plus

When I wrote my profile description as jashomanea, it was supposed to look like a short poem. Unfortunately blogger ignores the line break and displays it another way. I thought I would write it down here so people can read the way it was meant to be. Especially needed now, since the profile displayed now is the Google Plus profile, and is called Jash Jacob.

In the randomness around,
I seek to find a pattern.
In the wilderness,
I seek to find a home.
In this fuzzy world,
I seek to find Logic.

What inspired this short poem is a description of my feelings around the time I created this profile. I was a biker who preferred to ride in the wild. I was a software engineer who needed to use logic. I was also a rationalist who was dumbfounded by the amount of illogic spread around the world.

I have always tried to make sense of the world in my own ways. This has often not been in line with what the world expects of people. I like to dream, in fact, day-dream. I enjoy solitude at times and company at others. I write better than I talk.

My review of God is Not Great by Chistopher Hitchens

I read this book a long time back, but got to write a review only now. My full review of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is recorded with India Study Channel. Since the site provides revenue sharing options and some small cash credits even otherwise, I thought it was better for it to stay there than here. However, this was also something I should have put here if I wanted to keep this blog active. So here is a summary of my feelings about the book.

God Is Not Great
Christopher Hitchens writing prowess is demonstrated undoubtedly in this book. He does not delve into the scientific aspects of the existence of God, since that is not a subject he is strong in. He is man of literature and history. He uses these tools to demonstrate flaws in the holy books of the major religions of the world. He points out how these books that claim divine inspiration are historically flawed. How lot of events mentioned at a certain time do not relate to the time-period when the people involved lived.

Hitchens also uses information such as repetition of myths in the new stories. How some of the miracle claims of the bible and other such books have been used many times in the older mythologies like the Egyptian and Greek ones. He also draws a parallel between Krishna's birth and that of Jesus. I found a few flaws in his description of Krishna's birth and of the Indian Ashram he stayed at. Such flaws create a doubt about the other birth claims that he makes as well. But his book definitely does make you think more about your religious convictions. Even if you doubt his claims and go searching for truth, the main aim of the book is achieved.

I definitely recommend that you read this book. 

The nation of fairness creams, India's obsession with fair skin

I have forever wondered about the nations obsession with fairness. I must confess, this is something that is prevalent in my immediate family as well. Considering that most of the women I found attractive were dusky or dark skinned, I never really understood the obsession. It must be noted that this demand for fairness is not just limited to ladies, but even gents are graded on the color of their skin. I recently saw this TVC or whatever those programs are called where they sell stuff, not by creative advertising, but depicting it as a user-experience. The script went something like this:

"Two guys walk into an office. The security guy stops the darker guy stating workers can't go in, only the boss can. The other guy states that the darker guy is the boss and he is just an assistant. The dark guy goes back home and thinks about how everywhere he goes, he is thought to be of working-class or some such because he is dark skinned"

I changed channels at this point, but you should note the annotations that this commercial has, which are:

  1. Working class or lower class people in India are all dark.
  2. Even security guards disrespect people who are dark.
  3. Dark skinned people get no respect anywhere.
  4. Irrespective of how you dress, your skin color indicates whether you are rich or poor.

Another advertisement that I saw a long time back was abut this girl who was dark, but had got a groom who was really fair. Everyone around said that she was really lucky to have got such a fair groom. Then she comes across this fairness cream which transforms her and on the wedding event, people start commenting on how lucky the groom is. What did they mean to intend? The luck of bride and the groom are determined solely on how fair the other partner is? Let alone the fact that she looked pretty nice even with the black pain over her.

Currently, Nandita Das (whom I have liked since 1947 Earth) is working on a Dark Is Beautiful campaign. This is one really awesome campaign, that should be spread around as much as possible. The myth of fairness is imbibed in our culture and I have seen a lot of people either losing self esteem over their skin tone. I have also witnessed some dark skinned people themselves commenting on other peoples dark skin tone. I am surprised when people who have trouble with skin tones cry racism when something happens in the western nations where skin tone has become almost a non-issue, and is on the way to be completely wiped out.

The smart people at DRDO Pune

Ohh yes, they are smart wonly. I cannot say for sure about their smartness in what they are supposed to do, as in I do not see what they invent etc., but they are smart when it comes to back speed breakers. Some people might know how they had so many back speed breakers on the Pashan area. How nothing could change their minds about it. But then some VIPs came by and there were no more backs breaking around there. The smartness is in the fact that the speed still was breaking.

The removed the 'humps' and left the 'troughs' there. So we have to slow down there if we need to avoid the jerk, but there were no speed breakers, so to say.

They built the breakers again recently, which are a bit more humane. Only parts of it are high enough to break backs or harm vehicles. Even the count of them has come down. I just wish we get another VIP visit soon and get rid of those for some more time.

Pune Cantonment Board Roads, awesomeness wonly

The awesomeness of the roads on Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) can't be described in words. Yet I am so overwhelmed that I could not refrain myself from writing about it.

To start with, there are no potholes on the road. All of them have been filled up. It is a different thing altogether that the filling is uneven. The pothole-less road is so awesome that if you drive/ride at 40 KMPH or more you will be bouncing about the road. This is not a new phenomena, but the traffic usually cushions the effect by bringing the speed to under 20 and taking your concentration off the bouncy road and into the vehicle that might bang onto you or that you might bang on to. But yesterday was different. As I was riding back home from work at around midnight, the whole length and breadth of the road was open to me.

The full awesomeness of the road was experienced around the road in front of the RSI. I was riding down calmly at a speed of about 60 KMPH and all of a sudden I felt a jerk. Very helpful at this time of the night you see. You do not want to drift off to sleep, which is very much probable at this hour. This road gives you the much needed wake up call if you have already drifted into the snooze zone.

Also, if you are someone who is interested in offroading or cross-country biking, this road serves the purpose staying in the city. No looking for spots many miles away, no need to take the risk of being caught with a problem on your vehicle kilometers and kilometers away from the nearest service station, and no risk of having to push your vehicle long distances due to running out of fuel. The nearest petrol station is less than 3 KM from this spot.

Ohh, I forgot to mention about the awesome fact that the speed breaker at the junction is no longer the hump. It has given way to a flat-appearing pit. Anyone who has passed through this once, will be slow the next time, unless they have a wish to get a back treatment of course. I had the lovely experience of thinking there is no obstacle and continuing at the same speed just to be woken up to reality (as if the bounces on the road so far was not sufficient). This final jolt would have woken even Kumbhakarna.