Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pakistan, Porn and Diplomacy.

These days Pakistan has been in the news in a big way. None very complimentary.
A few days back an article had caught my attention. A study, it claimed, revealed that the country which does the maximum sex related searches on the net are Pakistanis. Not unexpectedly , it drew a lot of derision and comments from the readers.

I am neither surprised by the finding nor fazed by it. As I had remarked earlier, I get regular visitors from our neighbors reading posts with the word sex in it.
I have no problem with them. after all they are indulging in a pretty benign game than what their petty politicians are playing. At least their indulgence is not killing any one.

Right from the days of their ex president Musharraf to the now sillier Foreign Minister, all they have indulged in is petty one upmanship and sabotaging peace. In fact if I were to describe their politicians in one word I would call them uncouth. The behavior of FM Quereshi was totally abominable and much against the tenet of decency and diplomacy. No one behaves with his guest the way he did. Not many would agree but I felt that our Minister fortunately had the good sense of not retaliating and mudslinging. Very dignified. It wasn’t a sign of weakness but of good diplomatic sense. (Hillary Clinton rightly disapproved Quershi’s tone and tenor though she messed it up by bringing in the Kashmir tangle.)

But Mr. Krishna could have done well if he had registered his protest against the rather uncharitable comparison of the foreign secy by the Pakistani Minister.
A question does beg answering. Why were we in such a tearing hurry to visit Pakistan. Wouldn’t it be better if some homework is done by the backroom boys away from the annoying glare of our media.

It was a totally ill timed and ill conceived visit. Was it just a way of deflecting attention from all the domestic problems. Or are we giving too much importance to a pesky neighbor? Do we really achieve anything except mindless jingoism? Why waste time.

Pakistan is crumbling under the pressure of its own contradictions and no external influence can help. America can keep pumping billions of dollars but cant wean away the influence of ISI and Military on their civil government which thrives in having bad relations with India. instability suits them.

Their once strong and proud cricket team is now a sad caricature thanks to this motley crowd. When I was in Bangkok, I saw the Pakistani channel and it was shocking to see that apart from anti Indian jingoism, they didn’t have much else to offer. No soaps, no movies, no discussions about education, industrialization or development or health. I feel sorry for the Pakistanis. They deserve better.

I lived among Pakistanis in Manchester, UK for two years. I found them very friendly and extremely good neighbors. They rued the interference of Army in their country. Many have relatives in india and have a soft corner. The local video parlor, though Pakistani , carried more hindi movies than Pakistani. Even in Miami , I used to pick up my desi grocery from a very kind and friendly Pakistani store. He always regretted the hand dealt by the army.

Alas,the army is not in a hurry to loosen its hold.

That is why we must leave the Pakistanis alone till they are prepared. Whether they are the gun toting army or the porn watching commoners.

Its just not worth our time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It was a Mad World cup!

This was a bizarre world cup where nothing went right.The reputations went for a toss, the seedings were meaningless, the balls were of poor quality, the referring bizarre and there was more off the field entertainment than on field. Just like our government.

I didn’t understand why did they present the golden boot to Thomas Mueller. England , France, Italy Brazil already had been booted royally. Perhaps England ‘s exit could be aptly described as the golden boot. The golden boot lost its meaning after that.

I was rooting for Spain for two reasons. One, I live in Miami where the Spanish population abounds. So the Hispanic connection did make me feel soft for them. But the major and larger reason was undoubtedly , and I am sure my hips don’t lie, Shakira. When Shakira shakes her derriere , she could make me root for even Nepal, if they were playing.

Yet she doesn’t get my vote for the entertainer of the cup. It undoubtedly goes to the one and the only Maradona. He’s what Shane warne is to cricket. God’s gift. Life can never be dull with these guys around. They have exceptional talent on the field and equally exceptional talent off the field to match. I specially enjoyed his spat with Pele and his comment, “ Pele should go back to museum.” Priceless. So was his comment to the press after Argentina won the qualifier. It was obscene. It was in poor taste. But it was a hit on the internet. Or maybe that’s the qualification for anything to become a hit on the net!

Maradona’s outburst has already become a sensation with Internet sites selling T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “They can keep sucking it”.

Wish I could say the same to the Indian press. One man would definitely stand taller than me and agree whole heartedly. He calls himself Amitabh Bachchan.

This was the tournament of the mediocre. Even the final was a disappointer. Tender mercy that the better team won. Five yellow cards in the first thirty minutes! I thought that the dreaded yellow fever of the continent had hit these hapless players hard. But no worries. ALL EEEEEZ WELL.

So what would I like to take back from this cup?

The vuvuzela and paul the clairvoyant. Paul can go and sit in the NDTV and predict the polls. He has more chances than Prannoy roy to get it right.

Perhaps the vuvuzela can help wake up this somnolent government. Or will it?

Can you believe it when the whole world was awake watching the cup, this government was still sleeping! I have no hope.

I have a better idea than blowing them vuvuzelas. Throw them instead.
Maybe someone in the government will really be hit hard and wake up!

The world cup is over. Now lets wake up to our problems. Price rise, Fuel hike, non governance! our cup brimmeth over.!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are We Indians Over sensitive about frivolous issues?

The monsoon has arrived with a bang. I too felt the bang and was down with fever for the last two days.

I had to avoid using my laptop to avoid straining my eyes. With nothing much to do I turned to the Idiot box to kill time. Just as I was surfing, a debate caught my attention.

There was a debate going on about an article in TIME magazine about American Indians.
(http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html). I was amazed to see the hyper and somewhat vitriolic comments. The panel was frothing at its mouth and branding it racism of the worst kind.

My thoughts went back to a couple of years back when they were showing a clip of a documentary made in India on the BPO business on CNN in the USA. In one of the call centers, the team leader was exhorting his trainees to be patient. He was giving them a formula suggesting that the mental age of a 35 year old American is less than that of a 10 year old Indian. ( not sure about the exact words but it was something to this effect). Imagine if the reverse had happened. We would have branded that nation anti Indian, racist an what not. But the newsreaders took it very sportingly and were smiling and making jokes about it and left it at that. I waited for someone to object. Nothing of that kind happened. The news deserved the respect it got. Now notice our response.

One agitated member of the panel ( I couldn’t get his name) suggested that half the amercians are poor and cant afford TIME and half of them are illiterates. The only people buying this magazine was Indians residing in New Jersey and the TIME magazine would do well to remember this. Perhaps he doesnt know about the demography of the indians working there.Most of them are software engineers who prefer reading it online rather than buying. Besides, lets stop being churlish. America is a big country and TIME is a big magazine.

If this wasn’t silly enough, the response of the moderator was sillier.

It left me wondering. We had problems concerning the spiraling price rise, there was a successful opposition sponsored bandh in which for the first time after a long time all the opposition came together, there were law and problems in J& K.

Here we were sitting and discussing a silly article. We can debate about it being in bad taste. But Racism! No way. It was just a spoof.

Are we really that frivolous and over sensitive of non issues?

Another instance that comes to mind is the shilpa shetty episode on Big Brother. It wasn’t as if Shilpa Shetty didn’t know what was in store for her. She did it for money. But journalists asking about this to the PM of UK was really silly. There were other serious issues like Immigration and its effect on Indians, about world economy, recession.

The third issue was stopping of Shahrukh Khan at the Newark airport by immigration officials. The response was incredible. It was as if it was a huge diplomatic row was commited. Racial profiling is nothing new. They have been attacked once. Besides, if they are careful about their country’s safety whats wrong? Again the actor had gone there not on the invitation of the country but to further his business. If he has a problem, he can stop visiting it in future which I doubt he will.

Surprisingly the response was much muted when a similar incident happened with the President of India, who in my opinion is truly an icon. We could have condemned it more vehemently but we didn’t care.

But President Kalaam being President Kalaam ,unlike the actor, downplayed it in his signature dignified way.

Even in the case of Greg Chappell, our response bordered on hysteria.

Instances are many. The question remains the same. Are Indians over sensitive about frivolous issues?