This Week in (Politics ∩ Sycophancy)

Back! Some old pals (students) reminded me that I had something in the name of a blog. So I thought of making it a playground to record the bullshit interesting bits all around.

On that warning/thinly veiled threat, we start with the following exemplary tales of “devotion”.

  1. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s herculean effort in taking servile sycophancy to a new level
  2. Fixed for flattery! How IAS officers sacrificed a T20 match at the altar of UP CM Akhilesh Yadav

I know that flattery will get you far. Apparently, India’s bureaucrats and politicians are also aware of this lesson from a top management school. So let me go flatter my woman now.

EDIT: FirstPost staff and authors need not think that I’m flattering them by linking to their posts.

An Open Letter to Graduating IIT Students

Dear student,

After getting your first corporate job, your subconscious thinks, “Okay. I’m half-settled now. I shall live in Bengaluru, have a car, party hard every weekend, work hard on weekdays, hit on female (male) co-workers… who knows I may get along with a beautiful (handsome), intellectually capable one and get fully settled.

Well… my hearty congratulations! I agree with you on every single bit if the change excites you. Been there, done that — barring the fully settled part.

Newsflash 1! What your subconscious does not know is that half of that is never going to happen! I seriously hope it does not happen to any of you, but let us not get my high hopes of you get you delusional. When the truth strikes, you’ll find yourself frustrated or worse, and would want to go back to books/computers/college. At that time, some of you may realize how important it was to attend those last few months of classes that you safely ignored for that joker standing on the dais (as you may think) could not afford a life near TGIF, Airport Road, Bengaluru and most of what (s)he says is never going to work out in real life, especially if (s)he talks mathematics, philosophy or computer science theory.

When your wings are shot down by the drudgery –yes, that what you’d call “life”– and you hit the ground of reality, you’d ask yourself if this was what you wanted to do — write web-apps and test and debug software written by much more decisive people (read ‘academics’). Most of you would not have the courage to quit those fat salaries for some college’s meagre scholarship–irrespective of how deep red your heart bleeds–as your “loved ones” have gotten used to that life-style. Sorry. You’re finished! Live it. Become a VP of Sales in next 10 years, and may be the MD or CEO in next 20 years. Even then, you’d think why I didn’t jump off the sixth floor of the Administrative block in college days.

Some of you, mostly the “non settled” ones, would have the courage to go back and fulfil what they dreamt in those last few days in corporate life.

Well. Been there, done that as well. If, at this point, you’d think you’d be that “lucky one”, hold on to that thought for a moment.

In the graduate school, you’d keep high hopes of yourself. Well, why not? You were an IIT graduate after all, so it is your duty to settle ‘P vs. NP’ once and for all.

Newsflash 2! You’re too old by now. In the college, you’d curse yourself for not getting a long-time girl (boy) friend or a wife (husband). You’ll see beautiful new faces and bodies in hot pants and tank tops. Your hormones will rage, but no use. The “kids” won’t even look at your “mature” outlook. You’d start dressing yourself with the “current times”, but that’d only make your self-esteem dig a hole and bury itself in that. You’d invite “faggot” (if you’re too tacky) or “lassa” (if you’re too macho) remarks from your age group.

You’d try hard to excel in sports like your golden old days, again, just to attract a few lovey-dovey or lustful eyes on you, but then, you’d find that you’re no match to the young legs and fresh lungs, as you had already burnt yours with the cigarette smoke during the days of corporate frustration.

Failing all your attempts to be the college stud, you’d resort to your strengths — your academics. Again, to create a visibility for yourself, this time not to attract the Lolitas, but to create “an image” among your peers. That special one of opposite gender being the part of that peer group of course! You’d set your eyes on a fancy and hot topic like ‘Complex Networks’. You’d find that you can’t pick up on the concepts being taught in the graduate class, since you chose not to attend the undergraduate classes on that topic in those days when your subconscious was really happy on the prospect of a change.

Don’t despair! Start coming to the class now. The instructor is too cool to notice individuals missing the class, though he notices a large chunk missing.

Why Facebook?

Why does Facebook have to rub it in all the time? Every single ad served during my Facebook sessions has something to do with fulfilling carnal or emotional desires involving the fairer gender!

Alpha Male, Beta Male, Male Stable

I have not watched this movie, but I have watched this one. After this review, I feel I’ll do my wallet and myself a huge favor not watching रब ने बना दी जोड़ी (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi). With the help of Wikipedia and him, let me go through the plot of the movie — at least the one I think it would be. But before I do that, let me warn you that this is not, by any stretch of imagination, a movie review. This rather is a geek’s reflection of his own frustration while he, in the oblivion of his dark, shady room with three computers, a few thousand books and a chess board, listens to his neighbor banging some girl three times a day. You’ll get a lot of hints of innuendo in this “frustlog”.

So, the plot…

End User: Tania [Taani] Gupta (Anushka Sharma) is an extrovert, flamboyant and vivacious girl, set to get married to the guy she loves.

Anushka Sharma
Anushka Sharma

Male Stable: Surinder [Suri] Sahni (Shahrukh Khan) is an introvert, responsible and sincere cubicle worker for Punjab Power corporation.

Beta Male: Raj. Surinder, with the help of his childhood friend Balwinder “Bobby” Khosla (Vinay Pathak), a hair-saloon owner, metamorphoses into an alter ego he calls Raj. Raj is a loud, rude, outspoken and fun-loving person.

Alpha Male: Sameer (Salman Khan), a boy of Indo-Italian parentage who wants to learn Indian classical music.

Sameer?! “Where does he come into the picture,” you would ask. The problem is that Raj cannot be the Alpha Male, for he is an alter-ego of a Male Stable. He has to be somewhere in between a totally unpredictable jerk –as an Alpha release of a software is– and somewhat predictable stable release. So to complete the evolutionary process of a male –on the lines of a software product– I have to bring Sameer in. Not surprisingly, when it comes to the mental disorders like love, every end user wants to “use” the alpha or beta release of the product, and male wants to be in alpha release phase. Thankfully, ‘Rab Ne…’ is only about the latter process of development including only beta and stable product. If you’re a software giant, you already know that an end user can be fooled to go in for more featureful, less stable release.

Coming back to the plot:

A suggestion worthy of a lot of praise for the experienced consultant brings the stable male and the end user together into a marriage. The End user finds herself in a routine and loveless alliance. Unbeknownst to her, however, the stable male had fallen in love with her at first sight, for the good user habits, though he remains too shy to tell her.

Male stable, with the help of a novice hacker, metamorphoses himself into an alter ego with more useless features, e.g., dancing, and less stability, he calls Raj and we call the beta male. This development process seems so much like Firefox and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Likewise, Raj is a loud, rude, outspoken and fun-loving product.

Due to some “divine intervention“, the end user gets to try her hand on the beta version and eventually starts feeling that beta’s attributes are more in tune with her user habits. Beta eventually declares his love for her. A torn user resists but finally capitulates. Beta offers to elope, but during the “climax”, user believes she sees a sign of sexual pleasure, as in numerous porno flicks (“Oh, God!” See The Devil’s Dictionary for more on this connotation of the word ‘God’.) telling her that the stable male is still the one for her. [I know how you wish to hear “her climax”, but the movie never openly admits that the user reached a climax. I can say that for sure as I know how the Censor Board in India works.]

Finally, seeing the success of a feature rich beta product, the stable version decides to acquire a few useless traits — dancing in this case.

I thank Aditya Chopra and whoever is the director for giving us this movie, thereby raising the question, “Why do the females (want to) fuck jerks and get married to nice guys,” and giving me an opportunity to “explain”.

Well, Darwin’s “sexual selection” theory has the best explanation. In The Descent of Man‘ (1871), Charles Darwin wrote that natural selection failed to explain human evolution. Instead, he proposed an alternative theory. Species evolve when males and females select each other for certain qualities. He called this sexual selection.

Female mammals, in general, are more selective than males. Females, in most mammal species, do most of the work of producing and raising children. In contrast, fathering offspring is less work, so males aren’t so choosy.

The exertion of some choice on the part of the female seems almost as general a law as the eagerness of the male.”  — Charles Darwin

Females choose males with features that make the males less able to survive. E.g., a peacock’s bright colors make him visible to predators, and his huge tail slows his escapes. His beautiful tail communicates to peahens that he’s an especially fit individual, i.e., he’s so fast that he can escape predators despite his heavy tail. Sexual selection is, in general, the opposite of natural selection.

A peacocks mating call
A peacock's mating call

Natural selection advances via slow environmental change. Natural selection advances evolution only in harsh environments (e.g., predation, climate change). Natural selection produces animals better able to survive-usually smaller, more efficient, and less conspicuous.

In contrast, sexual selection advances with each generation. It produces rapid evolutionary changes and advances evolution in stable environments. Sexual selection produces animals (especially males) less able to survive, with bigger, brighter, or exaggerated features.

Human evolution may have begun when fathers helped raise mothers’ children, giving the children a survival advantage. Among hunter-gatherers today, children without fathers are more than twice as likely to die during childhood. A woman could have sex with a “desirable man” (a.k.a. jerk in most cases), and risk competing women taking him from her. Or she could choose a stable, monogamous relationship with a less-desirable man whom no one other woman wanted. Should you even guess who she’d choose?

Now you know why Taani preferred Suri over Raj when it came down to her own or her offsprings’ survival, or why Nandini chose Vanraj over Sameer.

Sameer and Nandini
Sameer and Nandini

After all these speculations, some of the readers might ask what kind of male I am. To put all your vivid imaginations to rest, I would like to think of myself as an alpha or at most a beta male, for I have a keen interest, not practice, to “put things at their designated places,” and that I know the end user always prefers the beta –more feature rich versions. Whether I’m that or a stable one is not I’m to answer, it is you, the females, who, if at all, which after reading this you don’t, want to try and test me out. 😉

Her Bollywood Dream

Yet another Miss World competition is over and Miss India Parvathy Omanakuttan came out first runner up. Congratulations.

Parvathy Omanakuttan

India holds first place, jointly with Venezuela, for the number of winners. Some of the top finishes by Indian women at the Miss World pageant are,

Here is a question for you: Barring Reita Faria, what is common among these women apart from being Miss Worlds? Yes! They all are Bollywood actresses. Some of them are quite successful at their careers. They have at least one more thing in common: they all have perfectly set vocabulary and a very good training in orating words, phrases and names like ‘compassion’, ‘womanhood’, ‘love for children’, ‘underprivileged’, ‘breaking barriers of nationality, color and creed’, ‘Mother Teresa’, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ etc. Here is an example for your consideration: In the final round of Miss World 1994, Aishwarya Rai said the following, in response to the question, “What qualities should Miss World 1994 embody?”:

Miss Worlds that we’ve had up to date have been proof enough that they’ve had compassion, compassion for the underprivileged, not only for the people who have status and stature, who can look beyond the barriers the man has set up for ourselves of nationality, color …

I’d not go so far as to judge Mrs. Rai Bachchan on the basis of her compassion, for I don’t know if she does have that of any kind, but by now, you know how highly I think of her as a [former] Miss World. I leave it up to you to decide whether she came out true on her words. To be fair to her, let me mention that those lines were delivered with a panache and deserve all the cheers and accolades she got at the pageant site — yes, even the title!

Miss World 2000, Priyanka Chopra went one step ahead of Aishwarya. When asked which woman alive she admired the most, she said it was Mother Teresa. She just had to say Mother Teresa. If it were an event with majority Indian jury and not an international one, she probably would have said it was Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Yeah, in 2000 both were dead! If only they were taught some sense apart from cramming there brains with names and words.

Parvathy, prior to the contest said,

I’ll try my best to make every Indian all over the world proud.” [Express Buzz]

Did she mean only the pageant? I don’t know how many feel the pride. Sure her relatives and parents do.

In the final round, in response to the question, “What does being in South Africa mean to you,” she replied,

In India and South Africa people are warm and warm-hearted. I felt at home in Johannesburg. Presence of two great leaders Mahatma Gandhi (India) and Nelson Mandela (South Africa) have influenced millions of people in both the countries.

In a recent interview on a TV news channel, she was asked if she is looking forward to the offers to movies, she replied with the characteristic charm and deception of a lady who just won a pageant talking hot air and nothing apart from hot air, “I don’t know, I’ll do things as they come.” Now that’s fair! This way, she can keep realizing, or at least pretend realizing, Gandhi’s and Mandela’s dreams and when fed up of realizing them or pretending realizing them, does a movie, sparks up a few controversies, inaugurates a few fashion houses, malls and boutiques, earns some moolah, buys a lavish apartment in Juhu, Mumbai and gets married to a movie-wallah or uska beta. Gandhi and Mandela are then passed on to the next Miss World contestant.

Seriously, what is wrong in accepting that a Miss World is a symbol of beauty that is just skin deep, and the event is a pure fashion and marketing propaganda? A little more of skin show will only help inviting more sponsorship and viewership. Right now, in its current format, with only a swim-suit round, the viewer ends up with… yes, you know that phrase: KLPD. Stop pretending that it is about celebrating womanhood or finding a complete woman. Stop pretending intellectual ability or (borrowing from Mrs. Rai Bachchan) the feeling of compassion. Show us ‘the real thing’! Even I would like to watch it, then.

Now when the contest is over and she is famous, Parvathy has sparked up a controversy of sorts. She thinks she was unfairly judged the runner up; she is the winner, at least to her. Seems she hasn’t got a single modest gene in her curvaceous, delicious body.

Finally we have Parvathy herself with us talking her brains out:

Since we have been talking about beauty queens and Miss Worlds, here is a sample of their distinctive thought process and intellectual abilities. Natasha Paracha was the Pakistani entry to Miss World 2008. It is only ironic that she was asked how she would tackle terrorism as Miss Pakistan. Her reply? Brilliant! See for yourself (her and her answer):

Natasha Paracha

As Miss Pakistan and as a young woman representing the nation and I can definitely think that I would like to promote the country and show that Pakistani women are strong and we can definitely do a lot to represent the nation a lot on the global sphere.

Brings out the real depth! Thank goodness she is considering offers from Bollywood. That at least is one place she’ll do well, despite being laughed at.

Kickass news of the day: ‘Sanjivani Booti’ found in Uttarakhand

How gullible can Indian press and population be? Here is an example quoted from a vernacular daily, ‘The Hindu’:

‘Sanjivani Booti’ found in Uttarakhand: Ramdev’s trust

Dehra Dun (PTI): Baba Ramdev’s yog trust has claimed to find “Sanjivani Booti” from Drongiri Parvat in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

Describing it as a big achievement, Baba Ramdev thanked the team members led by Acharya Balkrishan, who found the herb following a trek to the hill.

Acharya Balkrishan said Sanjivani Booti has properties of four different herbs like Mrita Sanjivani, Vishalaya Karni, Sawarn Karni and Sandhani.

Prof Hariram Pandey, an ayurveda expert and Kaushal Kumar had accompanied the team which trekked to Dronagiri early this month. The team returned to Haridwar yesterday.

Sanjivani Booti gets mention in the holy Ramayana when Lakshaman was injured during the fight with Meghnaad. To revive him, who fell unconscious, Hanuman flew to Drona Parvat and brought the Sanjivani.

Reading this news item, one of my friend asks if this country can get any  stupider? Little does she know that it is not stupidity. I, myself, found “Amrit” while I was trekking, but chose not to bring it back with me, for I think it is more interesting to live and then die than to live forever.

Anyhow, Ramdev is the man! I believe it is mentioned in Ramayana, with Pictures and taxonomic rank classification of all the herbs they used, so Ramdev‘s men could precisely identify Sajeevani Booti.

Put the past behind, and let me be savor this moment of joy as a result of the discovery of 21st century. Finally, we have found the cure to everything! Rest of the world can go ahead and develop its biological/nuclear warfare and go to hell.

My paper boat

My amateurish effort in picturing the feeling of loneliness.

Still a child, I made a paper boat.
On a burnt afternoon,
In a little stream, I set it afloat.

Carrying all my dreams, all my passion.
Stream merged in a river, then an ocean.
Oh fisherman! Have you seen my paper boat?
Oh my friend! Is it still afloat?

My brown paper boat under the red sky,
In search of a laughter or a cry,
Is sailing to the tune of waves.
Some emotions is all it craves.

Oh fisherman, have you seen my boat?
Comfort me saying it is still afloat?

My creation will make me gloat,
If you tell me that my boat,
Full of my dreams, my passion,
Is still adrift, in a red shiny ocean,

Oh fisherman… Oh fisherman!
Where is my brown paper boat?