Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Going a bit easy on the raves and rants!

Hey, am going a bit easy on the r and r, meaning raves and rants. Some rest and recuperation (r and r!) required on sundry health issues. Came down with a heavy bout of, don't-know-what viral fever (that's what the doctor says when he prescribes antibiotics). Headaches, body pains, partial hearing loss on left ear (ringing sound), drowsiness, disorientation, the works. Going deaf?

The mouth feels like a meadow full of dry grass, and the ear is ringing like a hundred orchestras playing at the same - simultaneously. Am full of morose thoughts that wouldn't quality for even a personal blog. Fervently praying that I would get over it soon. Job offers are coming, coming, coming, but don't know how I will go to work somewhere in Andheri, in the state I am. Glad I quit the job, as their being 24x7 made them assume that I was 12x7. Yes, I was practically working 12x7.

It's tough work, these BPOs I mean. I wasn't working in one but I could see them through the glass partition. The pressure to perform was clearly visible, and the average age was quite low, around the twenties. What hope do the generation of today hold if they are made to work like this, I ask.
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Monday, August 28, 2006

Jane Bhandari's Detailed Reply on England's Lake District

Here's Poet Jane Bhandari's detailed reply about England's Lake District, where poet Wordsworth lived and wrote. Thanks, Jane!

Dear John,

A small village indeed. I had no idea that William's grandson had lived here, or that he was a poet. Would any of his writings be available?  Yes, Wordsworth's poetry was rammed down our throats, and other great writers were simply introduced too early. I have a particular distaste for 'Daffodils' because our school choir had to sing a song for the local festival that used the words, and it was musically too sickly sweet for words. Courtesy my parents, I had grown up on Palestrina, Bach, and Mozart, and found the late Victorian music boring and the harmony too predictable.

I think the Lake District produced more than poets, it also grew engineers (railway and bridge builders for the most part, but also ship-builders) and philosophers. The geography was difficult and isolated, so that philosophers used their legs as much as their minds, and I have a book by John Bolton (a weaver who was also an amateur geologist and wrote several books on the subject) on the geology of the area where I grew up which tells us as much about the local gentry and their eccentricities as the appearance of the landscape and its underpinnings. It is fascinating because my father's family lived here for centuries, farmers who intermarried to such a degree that my great-great-grandfather determined to marry a scottish lady. (Scots have been a part of the pamily ever since.) There are local names that appear in every geneaology, and in a village it is dangerous to insult somebody who may be related to you in more ways than a spider has legs. Bolton muses on the tendency of inbreeding to produce either geniuses or idiots - I wonder what he would have thought of the Parsis - and digresses to observe the flora and fauna, equally inbred due to extreme isolation. Many parts of the Lake District were inaccessible except on foot, and some villages were visited by the priest only once or twice a year. It was not uncommon for a man to take a wife in a barn-wedding attended by the local residents: by the time the priest came to legalise the ceremony he often performed a baptism (or two) at the same time!  

As for local poets, my favourite was probably Norman Nicholson, who lived only seven miles from our village and worked alongside of his uncle in the iron-works in the early 20th century. The Furness area had both iron and copper mines, and I remember the red glow in the night sky as the slag was poured into the sea. Unfortunately the haematite reef (mentioned by John Bolton) ran out under the estuary in a limestone reef too badly fractured to sustain underground mining. Eventually the iron works closed down, after bringing in ore from Sweden for some years after the mines closed. The great slag tip remains, running out like a pier into the estuary. At one time they had thought to connect it with a similar tip on the other side, and run a branch line of the railway across it. This never happened, and I doubt it would ever be followed up now. You can still see the great holes and pits throughout Furness where they dug open-cast mines, and where they tunnelled underground, the land has caved in in some places, sometimes taking a couple of cottages with it.

We used to go fossil-hunting along the limestone reef that ran out into the estuary, and for years picnicked on top of a huge fossil of a nautilus-type shell, which was eventually discovered by fossil-raiders and taken away in the dead of night. It must have weighed a couple of tons, and I wonder how they transported it across the quicksands. Perhaps they used a donkey and a sled at low tide, and towed it along the beach until they were close to the road.

Norman Nicholson wrote about his area, only ever went to London once, by train, and having seen the sinful city returned, never to go more than ten miles away. His poems about the plant life, the birds, and the local community are fascinating, to me a nostalgic look at a life that has all but vanished, the industrial life that flourished alongside of rural England, mingled in it, even - often farmers grew coppices, small woods, beech or hazel, that were pruned to produce even thickness of branch that was then made into charcoal for the copper-smelters. That was a cottage industry - and many farmers also had a little copper-mine on their land which they used for additional income. Copper ore smelts easily in the intense heat of charcoal. When they had enough 'pigs' they would take them to sell to the big foundries to be purified. Incidentally hazel-nuts only grow on new wood, so there was a double benefit - after harvesting the nuts in autumn the coppices were cut, and the branches trimmed and stacked to dry out and be made into charcoal as required. Our neighbour made an especially fine charcoal of thin twigs that he sold to artists. The stacks smouldered for days, and required meticulous attention to be sure they did not burn too quickly, which would have left ash, not charcoal. A burnt-out stack was a great financial loss.

I keep digressing, (I have not thought of these details for years), but my favourite Nicholson poem is that of the pebble that rolled right around the coasts of England till it returned to its origins as a speck of sand. John Bolton too investigated the huge boulders on a shingle beach in South Furness and found that they had been moved  from the Western Scottish coast by the sea, as they were mostly of granite, which is not a Lake District mineral! Sometimes I feel like that pebble. I should post the poem, it is a fine piece of writing with a sly humour.

Okay, I have run on long enough and still have fifty or so emails to look at. Sometimes I am tempted to delete them unseen...and occasionally I do.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jane Bhandari is a poet who lives in Bombay and writes, edits, and lives poetry (after she was widowed and children are happily settled). I would like to live like her, alway full of vim and zest, and read ans write poetry as she is doing. Originally she hails from the Lake Districts where William Wordsworth lived and wrote poetry. I wrote her recently, on the group mailing address of Caferati, how proud we are to have someone from the Lake District in our midst.


You had Wordsworth rammed down your throat? Exactly the same in our schools. We had to know "Daffodils" by heart or we were failed in English class.

By the way, Wordsworth's grandson also named William Wordsworth was principal of the Elphinston College in Bombay, and was himself a poet. He was present as an observer when the Indian National Congress was founded by Allan Octavio Hume.

Now we have someone who lived in the Lake District writing poetry in our midst.

Who will contradict me when I say that the world is a small village?


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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Want to eat a chicken roll at Hitler's Cross?

This seems too awkward for words. But a restaurant opened up close to my home named Hitler's Cross. It seemed they didn't get a better name to attract customers, so decided on the Nazi who killed six million innocent Jews. Coming shortly after Guenter Grass's addmission that he was a member of the Waffen-SS, Hitler's elite fighting force that was declared a criminal organization at the Nuremberg Nazi Trials, this set my grey cells thinking.

Our own Salman Rushdie defended Grass's disclosure. Yes, after all, why not, a  man has a right to repent, whatever his station in life. Opportune, as it might seem, it comes before the release of Grass's wartime memoirs, and may be a publicity stunt, who knows. The more notorious the book, the more people would want to read it.

Outrage apart, I see a lot of Hitlet's Hitler's (I keep mistyping his name) autobiography selling at pavement bookstalls. Is it the resurgence of Facism, considering that Rushdie called Islamic terrorists as Islamofascists?

Am recovering from an infection and flu or some sort, so am a bit weak and groggy. May be, I am being hazy in my own thinking. Blame it on the weather, will you please?

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Order, order, in the house!

A visit to the Lok Sabha's (the lower house's) live telecast is uplifting, to me at least. I was surfing channels at home as I am between jobs - I change them once in a while, you see, for a change. The cable operators – damn their lot – were on strike, post police raids for showing movies with explicit content. Their contention is that the channels should be raided and not the cable operators. This, when they are the ones showing adult movies in the late night segment.

I wouldn’t comment on the goings on witnessed in the lower house of the Parliament for fear of “lowering the dignity of the house.” But I will venture to mention this. Our representatives need a crash course in deportment and gentlemanly behavior. Why do they all have to stand up and speak at the same time?

Somnath Chatterjee the speaker was saying, “Nothing will be recorded,” again and again and was seen trying to pacify the unruly elements who kept walking around as if it was their own private room. Through all this Sonia Gandhi sat stoically silent.

I have seen the British Parliament in action and there is a line marked on the floor in between the ruling and opposition benches. And, these benches are close together, and not very far apart. Imagine! No matter how much they heatedly debate issues, if they cross that line marked on the floor they are punished by being banned from the house – I don’t know for how long.

Considering the mayhem I have seen in our houses (they uproot mikes and fling them at the opposition), I dread to think what would have happened if the British form of seating and debating was adopted here. The nearest hospitals would have had steady stream of VIP visitors every day.
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Poor, poor, technical writers. This is the kind of work our ilk do!

Came across this article on this website. Must say the author (Joel Spolsky) has a sense of humor, don't know how to classify it. But, do trust me this is what happens to technical writers in software companies.

"When you don't have a spec, what happens with the poor technical writers is the funniest (in a sad kind of way). Tech writers often don't have the political clout to interrupt programmers. In many companies, if tech writers get in the habit of interrupting programmers to ask how something is supposed to work, the programmers go to their managers and cry about how they can't get any work done because of these [expletive deleted] writers, and could they please keep them away, and the managers, trying to improve productivity, forbid the tech writers to waste any more of their precious programmers' time. You can always tell these companies, because the help files and the manuals don't give you any more information than you can figure out from the screen."

Must visit it more often for its, whackier, um, engagingly written sense of content.
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

In the kitchen...

Here's what I found on Google Video when I was surfing for AR Rahman's rendition of "Jana Gana Mana." Look and see if there is a message here! And how can such videos be blatantly available on Google? Do comment!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The kindness of strangers!

It’s raining outside. May be a repeat of the July 26, 2005. Today, getting to office was a miracle. A real miracle. Actually I am wearing short to office because it is an Indian holiday (Gokulashtami, or the birthday of Krishna, on which day, people form human pyramids to break an earthen pot full of curds). I had to wait a long time for a rickshaw to appear. None of them seemed to be around. It was pouring and mercifully, my shorts saved me the trouble of being drenched and cold. Then I tried to hitch a ride. Most of them didn’t stop. Ultimately, dejected, I was about to go back. No point in venturing out in this rain, I thought.

Then a Chevrolet Tavera stopped for me. Imagine, a luxury sports utility vehicle like Chevrolet Tavera stopping for a drenched-looking man in shorts, wind cheater and umbrella. Imagine the kindness of the man when he knows I would drip water on the seat and floor of his expensive vehicle. That’s kindness for you, the kindness of strangers. I got inside and he, the owner, sitting beside the driver, asked me where I wanted to go. I told him. He dropped me at the Bombay-Pune highway from where I board a bus to the office.

People in the office see the shorts and smile. I say, “Can’t help it, can’t you see the rains.” Colleagues say, “Yeah, I am going to wear shorts too.” Poonam suggested the Lungi. But Karthik (Poonam is the girl on extreme left in the picture in the bottom and Karthik is the seated guy in the picture above) says, “The lungi will be on the floor when you get into a Bombay bus.” All laugh. This is because nobody wears shorts to the office except the big boss. I guess wearing shorts on holidays and weekends should be allowed. Anyway, I am daring when it comes to clothes and that’s it.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Global Warming, hem, haw, what is that?

This BBC video proves what I have been suspecting for long. There is a strong anti-environment lobby that is holding up the Bush presidency. Now it happens that his chief of staff Andrew Card is a former industry lobbyist.

George Bush is not even aware that global warming is a man made phenomenon, according to this video. His cabinet is staffed by former business executives, and his campaign funds came from business that would oppose cutting down on carbon emission. This report alleges that Bush officials edited reports about the dire consequences of global warming, and even stopped funding global warming studies being conducted by NASA. This when the US is responsible for emitting one-fourth of the world's carbon emission.

The video contains graphic footage of melting Arctic icecaps, and how companies are stripping the Appalachian mountains naked for coal. Also read this post about how global warming is advancing weather changes in the Asian continent.
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May latest poem, explores loneliness!

Read my latest poem about loneliness on my poetry blog. The poem celebrates how we should celebrate each moment, as we exist in the present moment, and let loneliness be a part of us, and thus internalize the loneliness.
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Homer's Illyad is now - Troy - the movie

Saw Troy (the movie) yesterday on HBO, the movie adaptation of Homer's timeless epic, Illyad. One thing I like about such historical movies is the meticulous planning that must have gone into the making of movies in the genre of  Ten Commandments.

Must say Brad Pitt gives a stunning performance as Achilles, sculpted body, looks, and physique to match. Brad Pitt's Achilles has Greek looks and - I didn’t know this before - a rebellious streak in him. He defies his own king, Agamemon, who steals his love Briseis. Surprise, surprise, the film stars Peter O’Toole, a favorite, as Priam. As usual he shines.

The scenes are well and convincingly shot, especially the war scenes. The film also stars Diane Kruger as Helen, Orlando Bloom as Paris, John Shrapnel as Nestor, and Eric Bana as Hector.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Of T*ts and D**ks!

Oh, the Indian arty-farty crowd is embroiled in another controversy. This time it is an exhibition of paintings, poems and sculptures called, “Tits, clits and Elephant Dicks.” Not, joking, this time that is the title, honest. I did a search of the Internet and came up with 8,40,000 results. I am amazed. Are we so sick in the mind? Someone said that this mirrors the state of our society. Yes, it does. And the very words, American slang, no less. Why not Bombay slang like c****h, and l**d, etc, which tumble out every other second from a Bombayman’s tongue?

Frankly I am amazed, no, dazed, no, amused. After suppressing a chortle or two I can go into the dissection of this. Apparently it features poems, too, “In Search Of The Best Fuck Of His Life” and “My First Piss In The Morning.” Is Indian art so depraved that it has to hunt for crude vulgarisms of American Slang to describe women’s body parts? Again, why “Piss” why not “Urine?” It’s the puerile use of these slang words that offends me the most. Or, is it a way of currying favor from the firangs? This is the sort of writing you get on toilet walls, not in prestigious art gallery of Bombay. If I walk into the gallery with my wife and son I would naturally be offended.

For your information the exhibition, sort of shortcut to fame for its artists Sanjeev Khandekar and Vaishali Narkar who put up statues with gigantic phalluses on show. But should it have been such a drastic short cut? Society has a responsibility to protect its vulnerable sections in which I include women and children. But the exhibition was open to all even children. What impressions would they carry out of the gallery? No wonder Pushpa Vijule was offended and lodged a police complaint. The police asked the artists to take away the exhibits, and I think they are right to do that. If it offends the

And the literati have come out in defense of freedom of expression and all that bullshit. Among them a prominent film director and poet, who rants against the police’s high-handedness. Oh, come on, (I am not saying “Aw, c’on) drill some sense into your brains. Don’t know where this straining at the leash of prurience comes from. But aren’t we a society where mothers and sisters are respected and even worshipped?
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lord Macaulay's view, not mine!

Lord Macaulay's address to British Parliament!
Came across this from frogbooks blog run by friend and former colleague Sunil Poolani. It purportedly refers to Lord Macaulay's address to British Parliament on February 2, 1835. Don't know the veracity of this and cannot verify it to. But posting its somewhat controversial content and nature.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

It's raining... and I am all wet and late to work!

Getting to the office today was hard. First of all the rain seemed at its worst. After a Sunday spent lazing around at home, doing some writing but not much, getting some pictures of my Kerala sojourn organized, and I do not even step out to get my feet wet. It is traumatic getting all wet this Monday morning in the heavy 110-mm rain. Why can’t I just laze around the television like I did yesterday? This is only one-nineth of what we had on July 26 last year when we had 900-mm. But no consolation here, most of Bombay island is still under water, for reasons read my blogpost “Warm Age Cometh” below.

I do not own a car and depend a lot on rickshaws for travel. When I got out of home, I had to wait around fifteen minutes to get one of those ugly, beetle-shaped, hunched contraptions that are my chariot, boat, and valiant steed. Boat, because of the water, steed only a steed can ride over the potholes. I guess that vile breed called rickshaw drivers have had a little too much to drink and are hallucinating about dancing nymphets of Bollywood. Never mind.

Finally I board a bus and come to Turbhe from where I catch another of those ugly contraptions to the office. None are around. Some beetles are driving past, but their drivers have their noses in the air. No buses around too and the rain is trickling down my umbrella, and my shoe is full of water and clothes are all so wet that I can wring a bucketful of water from them.

Then I meet a philosophical beetle owner into whose contraption I jump in ahead of the others. There is a bit of jostling but I am safely inside. The philosopher, beetle-owner says, “Too much trouble, what will man do in such weather. Somebody has to do something.” Philosopher, or do-gooder, without him I would not have reached the office today.
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Warm Age Cometh!

I don’t want this to sound like a huge grumble about my pet subject of “Global Warming.” But I have to, I should, I must. While we have been grumbling about heavy rains and flooding in Bombay things have been happening around the world, worrisome things.
Global temperatures: Courtesy: Wikipedia
We have heard the phrase, “Ice Age Cometh” now its time to say, “Warm Age Cometh,” because global warming has ensured that the icecaps should melt and that the unprecedented water that is released will inundate coastal areas leading to change in climate patterns (how this happens can be read here, here, and here).

The following is courtesy climatehotmap, particularly with respect to the Asian region, home to around three billion people. All the following are the consequence of the man-made phenomena of “Greenhouse Effect,” and very much controllable by banning carbon dioxide and other emission. But the will, sadly is lacking. So it will be back to flooding and “warm under the collar” weather for some time. So, I guess. Don't believe me? See the steeply climbing graph above, you will get a fair idea where we are headed.


The Asian region spans polar, temperate, and tropical climates and is home to over three billion people. As the climate warms, many mountain glaciers may disappear, permafrost will thaw, and the northern forests are likely to shift further north. Rapid population growth and development in countries like China and India will put additional pressures on natural ecosystems and will lead to a rapid rise in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere unless steps are taken to curtail emissions.

Llasa, Tibet - Warmest June on record, 1998. Temperatures hovered above 77 degree F for 23 days.

Garhwal Himalayas, India - Glacial retreat at record pace. The Dokriani Barnak Glacier retreated 66 ft (20.1 m) in 1998 despite a severe winter. The Gangotri Glacier is retreating 98 ft (30 m) per year. At this rate scientists predict the loss of all central and eastern Himalayan glaciers by 2035.

Tien Shan Mountains, China - Glacial ice reduced by one quarter in the past 40 years.

Southern India - Heat wave, May 2002. In the state of Andhra Pradesh temperatures rose to 120 degree F, resulting in the highest one-week death toll on record. This heat wave came in the context of a long-term warming trend in Asia in general. India, including southern India, has experienced a warming trend at a rate of 1 degree F (0.6 degree C) per century.

Nepal - High rate of temperature rise. Since the mid-1970s the average air temperature measured at 49 stations has risen by 1.8 degree F (1 degree C), with high elevation sites warming the most. This is twice as fast as the 1 degree F (0.6 degree C) average warming for the mid-latitudinal Northern Hemisphere (24 to 40 degree N) over the same time period, and illustrates the high sensitivity of mountain regions to climate change.

Taiwan - Average temperature increase. The average temperature for the island has risen 1.8-2.5 degree F (1-1.4 degree C) in the last 100 years. The average temperature for 2000 was the warmest on record.

Afghanistan - 2001 - Warmest winter on record. Arid Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan, experienced a warming of 0.8-3.6 degree F (1-2 degree C) during the 20th century.

Tibet - Warmest decade in 1,000 years. Ice core records from the Dasuopu Glacier indicate that the last decade and last 50 years have been the warmest in 1,000 years. Meteorological records for the Tibetan Plateau show that annual temperatures increased 0.4 degree F (0.16 degree C) per decade and winter temperatures increased 0.6 degree F (0.32 degree C) per decade from 1955 to 1996.

Mongolia - Warmest century of the past millennium. A 1,738-year tree-ring record from remote alpine forests in the Tarvagatay Mountains indicates that 20th century temperatures in this region are the warmest of the last millennium. Tree growth during 1980-1999 was the highest of any 20-year period on record, and 8 of the 10 highest growth years occurred since 1950. The 20th century warming has been observed in tree-ring reconstructions of temperature from widespread regions of Eurasia, including sites in the Polar Urals, Yakutia, and the Taymir Peninsula, Russia. The average annual temperature in Mongolia has increased by about 1.3 degree F (0.7 degree C) over the past 50 years.

Chokoria Sundarbans, Bangladesh - Flooded mangroves. Rising ocean levels have flooded about 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) of mangrove forest during the past three decades. Global sea-level rise is aggravated by substantial deltaic subsidence in the area with rates as high as 5.5 mm/year.

China - Rising waters and temperature. The average rate of sea-level rise was 0.09 +/- 0.04 inches (2.3 +/- 0.9 mm) per year over the last 30 years. Global sea-level rise was aggravated locally by subsidence of up to 2 inches (5 cm) per year for some regions due to earthquakes and groundwater withdrawal. Also, ocean temperatures off the China coast have risen in the last 100 years, especially since the 1960s.

Bhutan - Melting glaciers swelling lakes. As Himalayan glaciers melt glacial lakes are swelling and in danger of catastrophic flooding. Average glacial retreat in Bhutan is 100-130 feet (30-40 m) per year. Temperatures in the high Himalayas have risen 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) since the mid 1970s.

India - Himalayan glaciers retreating. Glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating at an average rate of 50 feet (15 m) per year, consistent with the rapid warming recorded at Himalayan climate stations since the 1970s. Winter stream flow for the Baspa glacier basin has increased 75% since 1966 and local winter temperatures have warmed, suggesting increased glacier melting in winter.

Mt. Everest - Retreating glacier.The Khumbu Glacier, popular climbing route to the summit of Mt. Everest, has retreated over 3 miles (5 km) since 1953. The Himalayan region overall has warmed by about 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) since the 1970s.

Kyrgyzstan - Disappearing glaciers. During 1959-1988, 1,081 glaciers in the Pamir-Altai disappeared. Temperatures in the mountains of Kyrgyztan have increased by 0.9-2.7 degree F (0.5-1.5 degree C) since the 1950s.

Siberia - Melting permafrost. Large expanses of tundra permafrost are melting. In some regions the rate of thawing of the upper ground is nearly 8 inches (20 cm) per year. Thawing permafrost has already damaged 300 buildings in the cities of Norilsk and Yakutsk. In Yakutsk, the average temperature of the permanently frozen ground has warmed by 2.7  degree F (1.5 degree C) during the past 30 years.

Indonesia - Malaria spreads to high elevations. Malaria was detected for the first time as high as 6,900 feet (2103 m) in the highlands of Irian Jaya in 1997.

Philippines - Coral reef bleaching.

Indian Ocean - Coral reef bleaching (inclues Seychelles; Kenya; Reunion; Mauritius; Somalia; Madagascar; Maldives; Indonesia; Sri Lanka; Gulf of Thailand [Siam]; Andaman Islands; Malaysia; Oman; India; and Cambodia).

Persian Gulf - Coral reef bleaching.

Korea - Heavy rains and flooding. Severe flooding struck during July and August, 1998, with daily rainfall totals exceeding 10 inches (25.4 cm).

Indonesia - Burning rainforest, 1998. Fires burned up to 2 million acres (809,371 hectares) of land, including almost 250,000 acres (101,172 hectares) of primary forest and parts of the already severely reduced habitat of the Kalimantan orangutan.

Khabarovsk, Russia - Wildfires threaten tiger habitat, 1998. Drought and high winds fueled fires that destroyed 3.7 million acres (1,497,337 hectares) of taiga and threatened two important nature reserves that are habitat for the only remaining Amur tigers.

Bangladesh - Link between stronger El Nino vents and cholera prevalence. Researchers found a robust relationship between progressively stronger El Nino vents and cholera prevalence, spanning a 70-year period from 1893-1940 and 1980-2001. There has been a marked intensification of the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon since the 1980s, which is not fully explained by the known shifts in the Pacific basin temperature regime that began in the mid-1970s. Findings by Rodo et al. are consistent with model projections of El Nino intensification under global warming conditions. The authors make a strong case for the climate-health link by providing evidence for biological sensitivity to climate, meteorological evidence of climate change, and evidence of epidemiological change with global warming. The study likely represents the first piece of evidence that warming trends over the last century are affecting human disease.

Lake Baikal, Russia - Shorter freezing period. Winter freezing is about 11 days later and spring ice breakup is about 5 days earlier compared to a century ago. Some regions of Siberia have warmed by as much as 2.5 degree F (1.4 degree C) in just 25 years.

Iran - Desiccated wetlands, 2001 Ninety percent of wetlands have dried up after 2 years of extreme drought. Much of South West Asia has experienced a prolonged three-year drought that is unusual in its magnitude. Out of 102 years of record, 1999, 2000, and 2001 rank as the fifth, third, and seventh driest on record. 1999-2000 was the driest winter on record.

Pakistan - Longest drought on record, 1999-2001. The prolonged three-year drought, which covers much of South West Asia, has affected 2.2 million people and 16 million livestock in Pakistan.

Tajikistan - Lowest rainfall in 75 years, 2001. 2001 marked the third consecutive year of drought, which has destroyed half the wheat crop.

Korea - Worst drought in 100 years of record, 2001. It coincided with an average annual temperature increase in Asia degree s temperate region, which includes Korea, by more than 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) over the past century. The warming has been most pronounced since 1970.

China - Disappearing Lakes, 2001. More than half of the 4,000 lakes in the Qinghai province are disappearing due to drought. The severity of the impact is exacerbated by overpumping of aquifers. Annual average temperature in China has increased during the past century, with pronounced warming since 1980. Most of the warming has been in northern areas, including Qinghai Province, and in the winter.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Are writers same as their characters?

When I read my story “Flirting in Short Messages” at the second anniversary meet of Caferati, a listener identified me with the character of my story.

“I thought you were that character in the story,” she says.

“But no, I am not that character. There may be a resemblance but I am not that character, in fact, the character is my creation, no, not me. The resemblance is, I think, because every writer writes what he knows, and therefore he/she can’t avoid the resemblance.”

She seems a bit puzzled, “But you used the first person singular, didn’t you? So naturally you are the character.”

I say, “No, a writer creates a character, enters his/her mind and describes the character’s experience using the first person singular “I.” This is a well-known literary practice.”

She looks at me, again a bit uncertainly. And, sadly, I feel, a little disappointed. But as a writer I can’t expose intimate details about myself can I? That’s why I, and writers like me, create characters.
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blocked thoughts (due to a blocked blog domain!)

Blogspot is blocked again. I don’t know for what reason. I feel so frustrated not being able to see my blog. But here I am posting again – through alternate means – though the domain is blocked.

The other day I saw a familiar sight on television that had not yet registered as unique to India. I mean, I had seen it so many times, and had become so predictable that it didn’t even register as unique in my mind. There were men and women, quite noisily protesting something.

They were protesting outside a police station. Caught on television cameras, their stories unfolded. A family of five was slaughtered and the police had passed it off as a suicide case, apparently one in which the father and mother make a pact to kill their children and themselves.

But the crowd was protesting that it isn’t suicide and, on the contrary, it was a murder. What made them think so? Because law and order in the locality was deteriorating and they were genuinely concerned.

I have seen such incidents and it makes me worried. Do the common people have to resort to demonstrations to demand enquiries about disappearing people, murders, and kidnappings?
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Feedback, ideas, not welcome!

“If you have written us to share feedback, ideas or suggestions then you will not normally receive a response but we do appreciate and value any and all comments, alerts and suggestions.”

These words on the website of a popular website that monitors blogs is rather perplexing or so I think.

First of all I had written to them because they asked for ideas for ways in which I can work with them to increase visits to my blog. And then comes this big let down. What impression do I, forget me, any visitor, get? I feel so small amidst such gargantuan rudeness, yes, rudeness it is.

Aren’t customers kings anymore? Or have they been suddenly relegated to pauperdom, thanks to technology. Oh, for those halcyon days when attentive salesmen would explain to me the pros and cons of a certain fabric, and what would look good on me. Now, I walk into a designer cloth store, and am looked at as if I am an intruder.

I am sure the website has outsourced customer support to BPO in India, China or the Philippines where hundreds of executives answer standard, clich├ęd, and boredom-inducing technical enquiries, but have, sadly, blocked feedback from a discerning person, who uses their services, i.e., me. Read my short story about customer support in the BPO realm.
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