Seemingly Insane

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Food in the US

right. this began as a reply to an email to someone who asked me to write about any incidents/anecdotes of being a vegetarian in the us. so here goes. forget punctuation and grammar. wrote it while half asleep.

i’m a vegetarian who happens to eat eggs. despite the firm belief and will to not eat any meat (despite the oxymoronish egg-eating) i have never had any problems mingling with folks who do eat meat. i’m in the minority🙂 so being surrounded by meat-eaters is not new. however, there was never lack of choice back home. in the us however, it is the exact opposite. you have a whole grand one choice in a bevy of menu options. and unlike back home, vegetarian can mean many things in the us. you could be a vegetarian or a vegan or a pseudo-vegetarian who doesnt mind meat products in processed food but don’t eat meat direct on your plate. For eg, there are salad dressings with anchovies in them. On a passing glance, you wouldn’t really stop to think if there are any meat products in something as simple as a salad dressing. On closer look however, you can find many many such products on the shelves of a supermarket, including ‘vegetarian’ noodles which have beef extracts in the tastemaker powders. finding that out after a couple of yummy meals was a shocker!🙂

The biggest disappointment being the distinct lack of variety at quite a few fast food outlets. Subway rules in that department as do many thai and chinese restaurants, but thats cheating🙂 Having to be constantly on the watch to pick out any mistake in the food being served to you in the fear that the restaurant missed heeding to your ‘absolutely no meat’ request does tend to become weary very quickly but for some things you just have to plough on. I recall an incident narrated to me by a very close friend of mine. His dad and he were on a trip in South Korea and his dad had ordered fried vegetables and rice in a restaurant because he couldn’t find any vegetarian dish. When the waiter brought a big bowl of fried seafood, he was aghast and asked the waiter what in the name of god he’d brought them. Nonchalantly the waiter replied, ‘these are sea vegetables sir!’ Such are the travails of the vegetarian in a foreign land. Another incident that I remember was in heathrow airport. Having flown nearly 11 hours with a terrible cold and a body weakened by fever, I hardly had any energy to pass through the much reviled heathrow security check for my onward journey. Having refused the cold snack offered on the last legs of the journey, I had barely any energy to shuffle through security checks and then hobble through the lounges to pore through a magnifying glass to pick out the one cold sandwich among the nearly hundred sandwiches ranging from turkey to ham to chicken to god knows what other animal sandwich. No siree. The last muffin available saved the day as did a piping hot cuppa. Never ever travel international alone and unwell. You never know when you might need another person to get you the hot sandwich or coffee that you crave but don’t have the energy for.

Aman ka Tamasha

While the entire world welcomed the new year with joy and a genuine hope that the new year would herald a much welcome turn towards happy tidings, we witnessed a truly dumb act. Times of India in all its wisdom has tied up with the dung err Jung newsgroup of pakistan to sponsor/conduct a people-to-people contact series of events.
According to the TOIlet
“The two leading media houses of India and Pakistan – The Times of India and the Jang Group – have come together to develop a stronger Track 2 in the diplomatic and cultural relations between India and Pakistan. “Aman ki Asha: Destination Peace” looks beyond the confines of a 62-year-old political boundary to the primal bonds that tie together the two peoples.”

What exactly are the primal bonds that tie us together? Looking back at partition, the basis for the  formation of Pakistan was the views of some that they were different from the rest of the country and just could not live together in harmony. They needed a separate country and got it. Partition led to an Islāmic Republic and a secular democracy. The state of either country needs no elucidation, especially in economic progress and freedom of religion. A simple comparison of the change in % of the minority religion members in each country would tell you the truth. Any guesses as to which country has been better?

But I digress. What exactly is wrong with this whole tamasha you ask. Is wanting peace between two countries that have been at war since their birth such a bad thing to ask for? TOI in “Love Pakistan” says

“But mostly, it all boils down to one simple question.
Why? Why must we do it? Why do we need them? Why don’t they first say sorry for what they’ve done? And the answer is simple.
It’s easier to say Hi than to say Sorry. It’s shorter too.
Besides, there is no rule that says a book has to be closed before a new one is opened. Not even if it’s a history book.”

I would like to give a similar reasoning in my Analog paper when my professor asks me Why must we use this amplifier instead of that. I wonder what he would award me for that. The Darwin award I’m sure. Another article “Peace with Pakistan: Give Tomorrow A Chance”  says

“The 26/11 Mumbai assault confirmed what New Delhi has believed for a while — that Pak-based groups have been involved in recruiting, training and financing terrorists who’ve struck Indian cities with chilling regularity, killing hundreds of innocent people. There’s a sense on this side of the border that these terrorists have, at least in the past, been used, unofficially or semi-officially, as proxies in an undeclared, low-intensity war against India. “

and immediately thereafter says

And yet, the need for aman has never been greater. Shouldn’t someone, somewhere try to take a bold, even if tiny, step towards breaking this unending cycle of enmity and violence? Chances are that such an effort will be heaped with ridicule by the naysayers and dismissed as naïve by the skeptics.
Does that mean we say ‘no’ to giving peace a fighting chance? That we play into the hands of warmongerers, who want nothing more than to keep the two nations at each other’s throat? And condemn our children, grandchildren and the generations thereafter to a life of strife?

Anyone know if Brahma failed to put in a brain in these guys’ heads in the assembly line above? The fact that it was pakistan based groups that supported terrorist attacks in the past is understood. The fact that it was a group of pakistani terrorists who boldly carried out the killings in Mumbai last year is also understood. And yet, it is required of the victims to take “tiny” steps towards breaking this unending cycle of enmity? What cycles! Hello!! It is a one-way traffic of terror from that side to this side with a whimper and “We will give a fitting reply” statements on this side. We have to take steps for peace? Sure we have to. Bomb the crap out of the terrorist training camps in PoK is a start. But noooo. We should not play into the hands of warmongers who want to keep the nations at each others throats. By the I read this line, I was sure the guys at TOI have forgotten their brains in the last expedition to the Amazonian rainforest never to find them again. We are the ones faced with a daily threat of bombings and terrorists guns in our cities, theatres, public places and homes.Stepping back and assuming that all that I’ve written above is typical hindutvawadi/rss/bajrang dal/hindu fundamentalist/anti-pakistan warmongering, let us see what the track record has been so far in terms of effectiveness of the piss process err peace process. Off the top of my head, here is a list of peace and tranquility –

Here is another list –
  1. March 13, 2003 – Bomb attack on a commuter train in Mumbai kills 11 people.
  2. August 25, 2003 – Two car bombs kill about 60 in Mumbai. Aug. 15, 2004 – A bomb explodes in the northeastern state of Assam, killing 16 people, mostly schoolchildren, and wounding dozens.
  3. October 29, 2005 – Sixty-six people are killed when three blasts rip through markets in New Delhi.
  4. March 7, 2006 – At least 15 people are killed and 60 wounded in three blasts in the northern Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi.
  5. July 11, 2006 – More than 180 people are killed in seven bomb explosions at railway stations and on trains in Mumbai that are blamed on Islamist militants.
  6. September 8, 2006 – At least 32 people are killed in a series of explosions, including one near a mosque, in Malegaon town, 260 km (160 miles) northeast of Mumbai.
  7. Feb. 19, 2007 – Two bombs explode aboard a train heading from India to Pakistan; at least 66 passengers, most of them Pakistanis, burn to death.
  8. May 18, 2007 – A bomb explodes during Friday prayers at a historic mosque in the southern city of Hyderabad, killing 11 worshippers. Police later shoot dead five people in clashes with hundreds of enraged Muslims who protest against the attack.
  9. Aug. 25, 2007 – Three coordinated explosions at an amusement park and a street stall in Hyderabad kill at least 40 people.
  10. May 13, 2008 – Seven bombs rip through the crowded streets of the western city of Jaipur, killing at least 63 people in markets and outside Hindu temples.
  11. July 25 – Eight small bombs hit the IT city of Bangalore, killing at least one woman and wounding at least 15.
  12. July 26 – At least 16 small bombs explode in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, killing 45 people and wounding 161. A little-known group called the “Indian Mujahideen” claims responsibility for the attack and the May 13 attack in Jaipur.
  13. Sept 13 – At least five bombs explode in crowded markets and streets in the heart of New Delhi, killing at least 18 people and injuring scores more. The Indian Mujahideen again claim responsibility.
  14. Oct 30 – Eleven bomb blasts rip through Guwahati, the main city of northeastern Assam state. Detonated in quick succession, they kill at least 68 people and wound 335.
  15. Nov 26 – At least 101 people are killed in Mumbai as an unidentified number of armed attackers shoot at and toss grenades into crowds at landmark hotels and buildings.
  16. Nov 29 – Police finally end the siege at the iconic Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. More than 155 people, including foreigners, were killed in militant attacks on two luxury hotels and landmarks across the city.
Guess the source? Yep – TOI.

Read up on a more detailed list here.  A thorough, hard-hitting article by Narayanan Komerath on the truth about “Non-state actors” is here – “Give Peace a Chance.. “. It has some really interesting nuggets in it, especially about Gen Musharraf, Osama Bin Laden and POK.

A series of peace measures right from the Tashkent declaration, Shimla agreement between Smt Indira Gandhi and ZA Bhutto to the Lahore Declaration between India and pakistan has resulted in nothing but military adventurism on the part of “non-state actors”. Heck, while ABV was riding the bus to Lahore, the NLI was busy taking up positions on the Kargil heights vacated by the Indian Army for the winter. And we all know what that led to. I wonder if the peace proposing TOI would be able to look into the eyes of the parents of Capt Saurabh Kalia, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan or the widow of Havaldar Gajendar Singh Bisht and tell them that it is the fault of non-state actors and that we need more people-to-people contact and that it not the fault of pakistan that they were killed. And oh, we’ll give your parents or your widow a petrol bunk in the next, umm, ten years? Until then you can rot in obscurity and poverty and nobody will remember you for the brave sacrifice your family man did and we’ll have high tea with the friends from pakistan. Sure!

One must be deluded to think that pakistan is saying the truth when it says it was non-state actors who were responsible for all the terror attacks we have suffered. The whole military-jihadi complex is such a rotten association that today even pakistan is feeling its effects. For those who think this ideology doesn’t run deep, read this article at the SDPI – “The subtle Subversion: A report on Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan” for an understanding of how religious fundamentalism was introduced into the education in pakistan and how it has led to rise of fundamentalism in the country. Indoctrination was aided in full earnest by Zia Ul Haq and its effects are seen in the nation today. It is a very interesting read to understand how thinking was moulded nearly a quarter century earlier and how it has caused pakistan itself some of its major troubles. “Pakistan a Failed State” a 200-page book on fundamentalism and issues in this regard in that country is a revealing read. A quote in the book quotes Vir Sanghvi,

“Confusion and misunderstanding in Indian attitudes more than five decades after independence are certainly a factor in the Indian inability to develop a coherent Pakistan policy. “

Forget all this. You don’t need to trust any of all that and still claim that you believe peace is possible and that the people on the other side of the Wagah border are peaceniks like you and don’t want war. Sure. But give it a thought – ISI, the dreaded pakistani intelligence agency which has been found responsible for the multitudes of fake currency rackets, creating and nurturing terrorist groups since the Afghan conflict and can be called terror central is not populated by ultra radical, religious islamic folks is it, like how american media sometimes portrays “islamic” terrorists and “mullahs” to be? It is populated by people from the society of pakistan, who are english educated, can swill wine and talk shakespeare with the best of them. Doesn’t that jar with the oft-repeated statements that educated folks do not want war but peace. Heck, Mohammad Atta, the 9/11 pilot was a student at Technische Universität Hamburg! He wasn’t a school dropout who had been brainwashed. Make your own conclusions.

And in todays news, right after this aman ki tamasha, I noticed on todays TOI’s homepage –

Aman ki tamasha
Ironical.

Besides, after the recent statements by Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah that terrorism in the Kashmir valley is abating and that the Army needs to stand down, we have the peace overtures by the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari no less, () in Pakistan occupied Kashmir while talking about a thousand cuts and a peace mission who are in Srinagar right now conducting negotiations with the CRPF and throwing rose petals at them.

Happy new year folks!

The Other Half

School beings in another 12 hours. Its been a wonderful eight months so far. Trials and tribulations have been few and far between. Perhaps the best eight months in a long time. The freedom and being someplace new definitely is a breath of fresh air.

Time now to knuckle down and kick the next half of the year. A period of reading, reading and more reading is coming to an end. Now its time to study.

Autobots, move out..

Switchover

Have finally moved over to the dark side. A move that has been pending for a while now. I like the themes here a lot better than blogger! Two years of blogging has spoilt me🙂

The Rat Race

Its that time fo the year again. When rats of all kinds wiggle out of their holes and sniff the air for possible bits of the tasty India. Yep. Elections are in the air. Every two-bit politico worth or not of his name announces his grand plan to take the country down the path of slavery and ridicule. And to ensure that atleast five new Swiss bank accounts are created. If only they knew how worthless it is to put money in there now. Per a little birdie, balances are only for show and tell. Can’t withdraw right now.

With the fall in the markets the Swiss have had their share. Wish PC announced another VDS scheme now to bring back all that money. Its much safer here and given the staggering amounth thats lodged in those banks, it would be a great boost to the economy if even a part of that money is invested in country in these cash strapped times. That this is a great time for infra-spending and floating bonds for such and raising capital from people who would invest in country is obvious. For NRI’s given the high Re-USD exchange rates these days, it would a wise investment. But who will do that. Not that I know better finance than PC but still….

In other news.. A nice day long trip to the Big Apple was nice. Topped with a visit to HSB. Man sambhar vadai never tasted this good before🙂 This is a place I would like to return to. Once in winter, maybe in December and once in summer. For now its bye bye NY🙂 Well thats the end of week at S with J playing a gracious host. A million thanks for that. Back to school and good ol’ T! And sunshine. Man how much have I missed that this past week. Amazing how people live without sun for days on end. Weird. I remember my German teacher telling us how people would flock to the North Sea beachfronts in Germany during summer. Imagine!

Like I’ve said earlier, waiting at the airport with kids is so much better than giving company to grouchy grandmas giving you stares🙂 Watching them jumping around telling mommy mommy theres a plane there. one here is so much fun!🙂

Sun in Detroit. Man its such a big mood changer. Hungry Howies is too though we wont mention it🙂 I’m writing with a lot many more smileys on the BB! Not sure why. Is it just a case of different platforms and styles or does it signify something much deeper. Not sure.. Anyone out there that knows me? Can you tell? Could it be cos of a mind set free from the Matrix!