Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome 2009!

Am thinking of how I have celebrated New Year's Eve the last few years...

This year, I am in bed, handicapped because of a knee surgery. And to tell you the truth, quite enjoying all the attention I am getting from the hubby :) He is an awesome one to have by your side when you're sick!

Last year, I was on the plane coming back from India.

A few years ago, I was on the plane again, from Singapore to India.

I can't quite remember the ones I spent here in the US

But the most memorable ones are those in India...with my family rooted in front of the television, watching Doordarshan's New Year's Eve program. We hated the shows, but we absolutely HAD to watch them. That was the only way we knew to celebrate. That was the only night my parents stayed up until midnight! Every year, at the stroke of 12, Dad would switch off the TV and say, "whew, now we can sleep. Off to bed all of you!"

Such sweet and simple times!

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Tis the season to ... help!

Going with the Christmas spirit, and for a cause VERY close to my heart, I urge you to help the kids that call Project WHY their shelter, their playground, their home and hearth! What is project WHY you say?

It is a non-profit organization based in Delhi helping out slum kids of Delhi and their families, in any which way possible. go, yet another non-profit. Here me out, please, before letting out that yawn.

This is not just another non-profit organization. This one is special. Anou has made it special! They get NO support from the government or any other institute. Their teachers are from WITHIN THE COMMUNITY! Anou is known as the lady who made a sweeper into a teacher. Most of the teachers at their school are slum dwellers, with a minimum education of 8th grade. So the benefits are reaching every where! Everyone earns and learns with dignity!

They now have over 600 children and run two early education programs, one prep class, four primary and one secondary after school support programs, a day care and life skills program for 20 children with disabilities as well as a computer center.

Anou is indeed leading a revolution at the grassroots level. The primary charter for the organization is education support and life skill enhancement of slum children and their families. But believe me, they do more than that. They have helped a lot of these kids get life saving surgeries and other medical, financial and emotional help. They have helped get them out of the streets and into a classroom. Off the foot path and into a home! They help wherever they can, and NO ONE is every turned away.

I was introduced to this project through a comment on a friend's blog. She had written a poem promoting education for one and all. And someone had pointed her to this blog by Anouradha Bakshi, the director and founder of Project WHY. I dropped by, and have been doing so everyday now, even have Anouradha as a Facebook friend.
The poem by my friend was beautiful, but the blog is a private one, so I cannot share it here. (Ella, I am talking about you, dear!)

Anou's blog is a window into the lives of these children, the difficulties they face with so much courage, the basic rights that they have to fight for, the smiles on their bright little faces which are so innocent, and so unfortunate! And so much talent and potential! The stories Anou puts up are heart-wrenching, because the little ones face so many adversities, and at the same time they are heart-warming because the kids are not alone! pWHY is there for them!

Project WHY has started another initiative called Planet WHY. This is also a very very special undertaking. I will let you take a journey to that planet yourself and explore it with your own eyes. It is truly a world of its own.

I can go on and on about the project and the little angels. But now...lets get down to business, shall we? :D

I ask you to donate Just One Rupee A Day to Project WHY. What is this?
It is an initiative of pWHY where they make it possible for even the poorest in India to contribute and make a difference. It is only Rs. 365 a year. Less than what you would spend on a decent dinner. Less than a movie for your family at that multiplex. Less than a pair of shoes!

Think about the difference it is going to make! I hear a lot of fellow bloggers "wanting to make a difference". Here is your chance! And this here is a proof of how it is going to help us build a better India! Anou Didi approached a child who would otherwise have gone on to become a goonda, and turned him towards studying, towards a better life.

This is real! This is effective! And Anou Didi is there to take it further. I have so much faith in the project because of the faith she has in the kids!

So once again, I urge all of you to donate Just One Rupee A Day. And maybe take a step further and donate Just One Rupee A Day for each earning member of your family. The kids deserve this! India deserves this!

Here's a link to donate pWHY via paypal.
And here is a link to other other ways you can donate.

Merry Christmas everyone :) Lets spread some cheer, shall we?

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Tell me, when you go to a restaurant, how often do you tell the waiter, just bring me whatever you feel like, don't bug me about it? Or tell them your menu sucks, go get me something else?

Not very often, or actually, not ever! Right?
Then why do guys/kids say these things to their wives/mothers when they are asked what they would like to eat?

How often do you tell the host when invited to a party that I don't like to eat X, Y, Z so make sure you don't have those on the menu, or else I won't eat. I will go hungry that night, and it will be because you did not want me to eat?

Absolutely never, right? Then maybe, once in a while, you can let that poor soul in your home make what they like and you join them without a complaint?

How often, when you you go to a friend's house, and they ask you how you like the food, do you say, oh, the paneer pieces are too big? Or, "there is too much poppy seeds?" Or, "Ewwwwww"?
Never? Then why do you hurt the feelings of the poor soul who cooks for you every day? Sometimes after a long and hard day of their own?

Be considerate people! These women are going to spend quite some time cooking a meal just for you, so help them out and don't be so rude! Appreciate their efforts, even if you don't quite like the size of your veggies. Because it is all being done to fill your stupid stomachs!


And another hmmppphhhh!!! on how all my latest posts are rants! Where did that darned happy soul disappear? Come back, I need some cheer here!

Monday, December 22, 2008


The ridiculous politics just doesn't stop, does it?

Who is Antulay to question Karkare's death!? Such crap! What the heck is he trying to achieve!!!!

Alcohol tests for Amte, Salaskar and Karkare? Can it be any more insulting than that? Why will anyone ever want to defend a country, give their lives for a country who "awards" them like this? Maybe they indeed were drunk to be foolish enough to go defending such idiots!

Why are we wasting time and resources in investigating such things instead of going after the terrorists still at large in probably each and every state in the country?

Tchah!!! I am completely disgusted!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And some more about corruption...

Tanu responded to my previous post with a new set of questions and possible solutions. I guess I will reply to them with a new post :)

"I don't know about CA but here in UT, i did not have to bribe anyone for anything over the past 6 years that I have lived here!"

I did think about this as well. A few different answers come to mind...

1) How often have you actually met a real live person that you can bribe to get basic services like electricity, internet, water? I have been here 11 years, and not once have I had to do it. The "system" is what I deal with, it was via phone 11 years ago, and over the internet now. The window of opportunity for bribery is practically non-existent! Now this may not be a possible solution for India right away, but automating some things at least should be possible.

2) The concept of "chai-paani" is not imbibed in the brain here like it is in India. If you get stopped by a cop here, would you even dream of handing him a $20 note? If you get stopped by a cop in India, would you even dream of actually paying the fine instead of handing Rs. 100 to the hawaldar? The cops here are also not paid that much, but yet, since its not done, its not done! We respect the cops here, in India, they are considered more of a nuisance!

3) Another thing that *might* help is that most people use credit cards and checks instead of cash. This leaves a paper trail!

Bottomline is we do it in India because we know we can, we don't do it here because we know we cannot! It will NOT work! That is what we want in India. For bribery to NOT work!

"We have a problem of lack of enough resources in our country, hence it is a 'survival' of the fittest strategy. You cheat, you bribe, you win. your goal is to survive at whatever cost."
I did mention the lack of resources in my previous post, but that is not quite true. Whatever resources we do have, get to the rich first, and if anything at all is remaining, they get to the poor. I remember my mother having 4-5 gas cylinders at one point, one in each of us girls names! While she did give them away to our maid and driver or whoever else needed it, the point is that this should not have been allowed in the first place. The resources are there, the distribution is not fair!

Another problem...not quite the same as bribery is that the richer folks do not see the poverty in the country as their problem. They do nothing much to help out the poor. The either choose to ignore the existence of the poor, or have the attitude that "that's how they are, they don't know any better, so they don't need any better life!". I read the Facebook status of a friend in said that her daughter has 100+ Barbie dolls. I recommended donating some to teach her child the concept of charity and sharing. I have yet to receive a reply!

Corruption is an outcome of poverty, unless we address the root cause manual weed removal won't fetch us anything."
I feel its a circle...unless we get rid of corruption, poverty will stay, and vice-versa!

And the solutions proposed:

1. What if we have Community Colleges or School where you get quality education for children why would I then a pay donation to educate my children?
I believe these community institutes are run by the govt here? By city or county. Yes, that could be a schools that enroll students that come from households that live below the poverty line. If they are managed by the city then they can be run with a tighter control too. But again, the govt does come into the picture here, so this is not something a "common man" can do on his own.

2. Why would I need to look for extra money if I get paid more than enough as a govt official?
(you cannot contest human greed over here,but in general people are more vulnerable to greed if/when they are in crisis)
Please define "more than enough" :) Once the corruption has set in someone's life, and they have been able to get away with it more than once, there is no looking back! Don't our politicians have "more than enough" of everything? But there is no end to how much they "need"!

So to summarize, we just HAVE to make bribery unacceptable. It will happen slowly, first by the common man refusing to bribe, and then by the common man refused to get bribed! It will be tough to manage day-to-day life in the beginning (and yes, this is very easy for me to say, me being someone who has lived each and every day of her life in the lap of luxury), but come on, we can definitely say no to buying movie tickets in the black market, right? That's not going to kill us, right? Or buy original copies of music and DVDs?

All these are very scattered thoughts, but I am sure they can be organized into some sort of small action plans? Yes?

Another comment that I had from Nidhi on my post was this:
"You have given some good points on tackling corruption. I get the idea that you feel strongly and have a clear thought process.

Can I expect an article from you how to tackle this menace of terrorism in your blog? "
No, Nidhi, I will not be addressing that. I would definitely like to address the issue of internal politics within the country. We as a nation raise a huge hue and cry when someone from outside our borders comes and kills 200 people. But nothing at all when there are secular riots in pretty much each and every state of the country, claiming lives in the order of thousands to date. That is something I would like to address. Cleaning up my own house before blaming the neighbor for trashing it!

Monday, December 8, 2008


As I read the blogs being posted about the Mumbai attacks and the state of the country, I find one issue to be, if not THE cause, then at least a very big cause of all our troubles. Lots of folks have addressed it as well, so its nothing new that no one hasn't noticed so far.

It is corruption, bribery, nothing getting done without greasing a few, actually more than a few, palms! What finally prompted me to write this is what happened to the Project Why folks. It made me realize how corruption is pretty much accepted as "part of the process". And if you don't go with the flow, you suffer. Your work never gets done, or if it does, then it is so late that it hardly even makes a difference, or at the very least you have sustained some losses because of it.

Often times I hear folks from India very proudly saying, Oh, I never have to wait in line, I have insider connections". Yes, we are proud of our corrupt ways!!! Even if these "inside connections" don't ask for bribes, they do give their friends and relatives preferential treatment, making other common people wait in line. Or they will expect similar favors in return in future.

We see it in each and every corner of our day-to-day lives! From trying to get basic necessities like gas, electricity, ration cards to a step further to getting admissions in schools, getting proper medical attention to bigger issues like running a business, you name it, and there it stares back at you in the face!

How did this become the norm? How did this become the way of life? How did this become acceptable?

The problem is very basic, there are not enough resources to meet the needs of our vast population. And those in power are making the best of it. We may say we condemn it, but have little power against it. What would you do if no school is agreeing to accept your kid without "donation"? What would you do if no doctor is willing to see your child/parent/spouse without some "fees" first? More often than not, you will give in.

But on second thoughts, I feel there ARE enough resources for everyone, but they are just not distributed well enough. This is also because of the corruption! The rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Oh what a catch-22 situation!

It is such a deep-rooted problem that completely eliminating it is not quite possible in our lifetime. But we can, and definitely need to start doing something about it right now.

What can we do?
On a day to day basis...
Refuse to grease those palms whenever the Project Why team did. I guess we will be forced to bend in situations where we need medical assistance, but where possible, just say no!

If you know someone who indulges in this (say a doctor or some other professional like that), bring them out in the open! Write about them, tell your friends and family, THEIR friends and family, some how try to expose them, bring them to shame.

File a complaint against them. I am sure there is a consumer forum that needs to look into things like these.

On a larger scale...well I don't know :( But there HAS to be a "weed-killer" out there for this problem!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Aaj ki khabarein....

Have been paying a lot of attention to news these days...because of 26/11 I suppose. Here are a few things that caught my attention...

1. An 8 year old kid was slapped so hard by her teacher that it turned fatal!
What gives!!! What makes people so angry and violent? I thought hitting kids was not allowed anymore in school. I remember getting rapped on the knuckles with some wooden stick for small offenses 20 years ago. Such a shame this is! Wasn't "guru" supposed to be "god"? Then why? How??!?

2. I read somewhere that Pakistan was demanding that India hand over Advani since he is on their wanted list...for a conspiracy to kill Jinnah in 1947! This is an excellent example of bringing out old old skeletons...made me laugh!

3. And this is the most interesting one so far. I heard on the radio on my way home. It is about HM, an amnesia patient who died last week. He had a brain surgery some time in the 1950's to cure seizures. The surgery was successful in reducing his seizures, but at the same time he lost ability to form long term memories! He could only form short term memories, which are of events 20 to 30 seconds in the past! That's it!

After knowing about his condition, he agreed to be part of a research to help scientists understand the brain. He was 82 when he died, and had his surgery when he was 27! Can you even imagine living like that for 55 years!!! I cannot! Hats off to him and his spunk!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am curious...

...about what our President, Mrs. Pratibha Patil has to say about the attack on Bombay? Have not read about ANYTHING from her. If anyone has seen something, please do point me to it.

...about why there has been absolutely NO mention of ex-PM V. P. Singh's passing away? Was not (and am still not) interested so much in politics when he was PM, so am curious about why no one remembers him at all?