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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Best of AnthoBLOGy

Unripe Revolution
Rooster's Dharma
Don't Know Jack
No Love for Condi
Blogger's Block
Father of  the Bride
TinTin's Diary - I
TinTin's Diary II
Hate Bollywood
Child Labor
M.F.Husain Guilty
Marathi & Konkani
Artist's Daughter
India's First IT Guru

 

Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat

Content Scheduling Durable Link to this BLOG
If you can see this entry, my content scheduling (pre-programmed blogging) features are working

What's New

• The Shashwati Women's Museum Collection
• Bathing and Personal Hygiene in Ancient India

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 01, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Buy a Calendar, Educate a Child Durable Link to this BLOG
Buy a Calendar, Educate a Child

Don't have a year 2002 calendar yet? Buy the Asha for Education calendar featuring some of Kamat's photographs.
(The proceeds directly go to development of children's programs)

War Clouds Still Dark and Heavy

"There is no difference between terrorists and governments that harbor terrorists"-- President Bush, September 11

Rediff: Pakistan not to handover terrorists -- Pakistani President Musharaf

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 02, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Snow in Alabama! Durable Link to this BLOG
Snow in Alabama!

Snow on Kamat Home
It snowed here in Alabama today!

Body Art: Difference between the vertical and horizonal namas.

AOL introduces $30 per month DSL

Indian couple donates $20 million to MIT.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 03, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

99.9 Uptime Durable Link to this BLOG
What 99.9% Uptime Really Means

It has become fashionable to claim over 99.9% reliability, especially in the Microsoft camp. Web hosting companies, application servers, database servers, why, even Microsoft and friends (Compaq, Dell) have been touting this number as if it's a big deal.

Consider this:

99.9% uptime amounts to 8.766 hours of downtime a year. With an average reboot of Windows NT/2000 servers taking 5 minutes, this amounts to 525 unscheduled reboots per year, which amounts to over 10 per week -- more than once a day! Holy cow!!

Derived from Competing with Linux

FYI: I run both Unix and NT for different tasks. The old Kamat.com server running Unix (BSD) never needed a reboot in 14 months of its use. The new Kamat.com server running Linux since November of 2001 has not been down even for a second.

So, achieving 99.9% uptime with Microsoft Windows is very easy. Just reboot the server, about twice a day.

See Also:

• Unix Vs. NT (in the context of a Web application)

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, January 04, 2002
Last Modified: 1/4/2002

Suicides in India Durable Link to this BLOG
Suicides in India - Some Notes

Mahesh Shantaram, a blogger from India writes about his rules for euthanasia. I am leaning towards a stance for death with dignity (politically correct name for assisted suicide), but I find that someone else making up the rules of death (like tape recording the procedure ?!) very repulsive. Isn't self-determination the crux of this debate?

India perhaps has the longest history of assisted suicides. Described as Ichha-Marana or desired death, it is mentioned in ancient Indian epics such as Mahabharata. We have the cases of both men (Bhishma) and women (Madri) undergo desired deaths. The Sallekhana, Sati, and Johar systems were essentially suicide mechanisms in ancient (and not so ancient) India.

The Sallekhana was practiced by devout Jains by fasting and meditation, and the participants starving to death. The most famous person to undergo Sallekhana was the queen mother Machikabbe.

The Sati (a.k.a. Suttee) was the system in which a window committed suicide on the funeral pyre of her husband, believing in (or forced into) an eternal marriage.

The Johar occured when the women of a town preferred death to dishonor and committed suicide in large numbers after a war.

Attempt to Commit Suicide

Indian buses tend to be extremely crowded, and it is common to overload the buses. Once I was going to school like that and was arrested by the police (that's India for you; instead of improving the public transportation system, the government harasses the citizens.) I asked on what grounds the police were arresting us as we had been issued valid tickets by the government operated bus service. The inspector told us that we were being arrested for "Attempt to Commit Suicide"!!

It was then that I learnt that attempt to commit suicide was a crime in India. (For record, I wasn't attempting anything, except going to school. We were let go with a warning and a demand of a bribe, but that's not the point...)

Since the days of Gandhi, Fast-unto-death protests have become common in India, where the activist in an non-violent protest goes on an hunger strike till his/her demands are met. I wonder if those qualify as attempts to commit suicide. ;-- )

Indian Suicide Links

• The Sati (Suttee) System of Suicide
• Death by Demand in Indian Culture
• Sati or Not? --a thought proving (and perhaps disturbing) article by S.S. Kshatriy on Sulekha.com

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, January 05, 2002
Last Modified: 1/24/2003
Tags: desitale

Flash is 100% Bad Durable Link to this BLOG
Macromedia Flash

Flash Thief: Idea Generator Vs. Jacob Neilson

Jacob Neilson: Flash: 99% Bad

My $0.02: Flash is 100% bad for Web. Don't do it.

Macromedia Flash is a cool technology. I know and use Flash for business, but oppose creation of Flash content for the web for the following reasons.

• Properietary technology
• Requires a plug-in. If you are going to install software on the client's machine, may I recommend Microsoft Windows native applications (also known as fat-clients)?
• Anybody who recommends creation of Flash applications has not developed complex software, and does not understand the software life-cycle. Maintaining and changing a Flash project incrementally is extremely painful or not possible.
• Short life-span of content created with Flash.

Save Your Eyes

To save the strain on your eyes follow these two steps, and your eyes will thank me for rest of your life.

  1. On MSIE, go to Tools Internet Options Advanced Multimedia and uncheck the Play Animations checkbox, and then Click on OK.
  2. Click on your Windows Start button, Search Search Files or Folders and type swflash32.ocx and click on Search Now. If the system finds the file, just delete it. If you have trouble, close the browser and delete it.

By taking these two simple steps you will get rid of all the annoying flashing (and Flash) banners.

If the choice is between your eyes and stupid, meaningless, commerical animations, which one would you chose?


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 07, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
Tags: technology

India-Israel Nexus Durable Link to this BLOG
India and Israel Shitting with one Anus

During my college years (1984-88) in India, there were a large number of Palestinian students who came to India for education. The Palestinian Intifada was at its peak then, and India was one of the few places the Palestinians could get education. I had sympathized with the P.L.O. then as I do now. India was one of the few supporters of the Palestinian cause, by not recognizing the nation of Israel and by voting against the Israeli occupation in each of the UN resolutions.

A lot has happened since. Arafat has made new friends (and forgot the old ones), India has established diplomatic relations with Israel, The PLO has (supposedly) given up its armed fight, and Indians emigrated to the USA in large numbers, establishing new friendships & relationships between Jews and Hindus.

This week, Shimon Peres the Israeli statesman travels to New Delhi to forge a deeper military and economic alliance. Both countries are threatened by Islamic neighbors, and internal terrorism, although IMHO the context of the terrorism is completely different.

There are many areas where the two countries can work together. Computer software, irrigation, urban development, and anti-terrorism come to my mind. India can also show Israel how Muslims and non-Muslims can indeed live together.

Pakistan, and the Arab league of nations have a lot to be concerned about this new shift of power. Israel has demanded inclusion of India in UN Security council, and even in NATO (yes. NATO! Gee!!). Israel is selling military technology to India, and many Indians are entering into business aliances with the Israelis.

I sincerely welcome the new developments. But the Indian leadership has to assure its Muslim citizens that India's long held values for the self-determination of Palestinians are not being compromized.

This is a great opportunity for India to play an elder statesman in the world politics leveraging its (once upon a time) close ties with PLO as well as the new found friendship. Even a move towards peace in the Middle-East will be a stepping stone for peace in the sub-continent.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
Tags: mideast

Our Top 10 Pages Durable Link to this BLOG
Top 10 Pages from Kamat's Potpourri

Here are the ten most popular pages on Kamat.com as reported by the Apache logs for Dec. 2001

• Full-text Search Engine
• Kamat House of Pictures
• Time-travel India
• The Women of India
• Mahatma Gandhi Album
• Erotic Arts of India -- Index
• Beauty of Khajuraho Temples
• Kamat Anthoblogy
• Temples of India
• The Paintings of India

It is very perplexing to me that the search engine is the most sought after tool by far. If you have a theory on why this is so, please share your wisdom with me. Is it popular because it is good? or because my navigation sucks so bad that people have to search all the time?

See Also:

• Amateur Webmaster: Wisdom Stored in WebServer Logs

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 09, 2002
Last Modified: 1/8/2002

Review of Chang Durable Link to this BLOG
Siam of 1927 and India of 1977

In 1976-77 my father temporarily closed down his business, and packed his bags to study and live with the tribals of Madhya Pradesh for a whole year. Upon his return he would narrate stories of the tribals, their hardships, joys, and ways of life. He showed his photographs, line-drawings and artifacts (bows, arrows, masks) to enhance his stories. He went on to write several books about the simple, yet thrilling lifestyles of the native forest people of Central India.

But it was not until today, that I could visualize that lifestyle in such brilliant detail. Today I saw the 1927 film Chang by Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack (yes, the same guys who made King Kong) of life as God intended it to be. The slow pace, the earthly music, cohabitation of men and animals just took my breath away.

Cover of Chang DVD

It is a silent, black and white movie and you might not enjoy it as much as I do. However, if you have liked father's Stories of Bastar travel or have a remote interest in the anthropology, I encourage you to rent/buy the movie.

The movie is set in Thailand (Siam), but I claim that it portrays life no different than life of the period (why, even of year 1977) in India.

More Pictures of Boys Riding Animals in India

Boy riding water buffalo to work, West Bengal

Boys taking turns to the joy ride the water buffalo


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 10, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
Tags: review

When did we get so smart? Durable Link to this BLOG
Suddenly We Weren't So Stupid Anymore

It has long been believed (mostly by Western scientists) that the early man lived like an animal -- without tools and without abstract thinking.

According to these scientists, the humans living in Europe, one day having learnt to manage fire, and use stone and bone tools, weren't so stupid anymore. This transformation, called "creative explosion" has been in vogue for sometime.

I completely reject this sudden intelligence theory.

In the 1960s and 70s, many Indian archeologists (among them, Dr. V.S. Wakankar) found prehistoric art and artifacts in central India, dating much far back. Some of which have been showcased at Kamat's Potpourri. These discoveries never got the publicity nor the encouragement they deserved, the Government operated institutions of India being infested with corruption and credit mongering. (Read Kamat's Interview with Wakankar, KalaRanga, Manohar Grintha Mala, 1982)

Turns out that humans were smart, much before they reached Europe! New discoveries (link to new discovery at NPR website) have been made that Homo sapiens were smart even 77,000 years ago, much before any White Man's Civilization.

See Also:

• Pre-historic rock paintings of Bhimbetaka.
• Cave of Chauvet Pont d'Arc -- prehistoric cave paintings of France.

Mid Day: Tribute to Chintaman Raghunath Vyas by Prakash Burde.
(For those who don't know, music critic Prakash Burde is my uncle)


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, January 11, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Vivekananda's Birthday Durable Link to this BLOG
Remembering a Great Swamiji

139 Years Ago Today: Swami Vivekananda was born.

Swami Vivekananda (Biography at Ramakrishna Mission Website) is but the most famous of Hindu monks from India, and has had a profound influence on the practisioners of an ancient religion. A born leader, and a great philosopher, he explained the deep meanings of the Vedanta teachings to the commoners.

To mark the occasion, my mother has been invited to give a talk on Josephine McLeod, a follower/friend of Swami Vivekananda at the Ramakrishna mission, Bangalore, India. The lecture is open to the public.

The Hindu Monk from India
Gods and Godmen of India

• List of Hindu Gods and Goddesses
• Sadhus & Swamis: The Holy Men of India


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, January 12, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Happy Pongal Durable Link to this BLOG
Happy Pongal/Sankranti

I wish our readers happy Pongal.

• Read about Pongal or Sankranti festival
• See Pictures of Festival Celebrations in India.

Links for the Day

• FAQ on Dyson's Shell by Anders Sandberg
• Waste those mofos (link to Yahoo)
• Dialog Now -- Rashmi Sinha's attempt to bring dialogue into the Indo-Pak conflict. Editor's Choice

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 14, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Waiting for Robin Moor Durable Link to this BLOG
India-Pakistan: Waiting for Robin Moor

As I blog this, over a million troops have been amassed on the sensitive Indo-Pak border. India has laid down the measurable criteria for avoidance of war, which Pakistan has rejected. So one wonders what is the next move.

Flashback to 1941. The World War II has broken out. The Western Europe is begging USA to participate, but President Roosevelt just cannot enter the war unilaterally. The situation is very fluid. The Allied forces are praying for just one mistake on the part of Germans (to attack anything American), so America can join the war.

I see the same scenario in the subcontinent now. India is just waiting for another terrorist attack to declare the offensive. The situation is very fluid.

Musharaf knows this very well. Why else do you think he is reversing twenty years of Pakistani policies? A war will certainly leave him out of power.

The question is, how long will India wait for such a such a trigger? What if it never happens?

FYI, on May 21, 1941 Hiter did provide FDR the incentive to join WWII by sinking Robin Moor. All of us know what happened since.

Tennis Talk

BBC: Racist Aussie Cries Foul -- Top seeded Lleyton Hewitt (who uttered racial commenets during last years' US Open, which he won) exits in the first round of Australian Open. But not quietly.

Tennis Tip: If you have a problem getting your raquet in position during the serve, try this trick --imagine that the raquet is a telephone you are trying to answer and take your clenched fist towards the ear.Handy Tip


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Kamat via Satellite Durable Link to this BLOG
News and Ideas

Kamat's Potpourri now available on WorldSpace Satellite Network in India.

Over 150 new pictures added to Kamat House of Pictures.

New Business Idea: I think I'd like to start a Auditing the Auditors Company. It is badly needed. Just look at the practices of Arthur Andersen.

Heard on Rumor Mill: Due to management problems, ZDNet might close down its India Website.

Northern Light is no longer free.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 16, 2002
Last Modified: 3/29/2003

Programmer's Disease Durable Link to this BLOG
How I Fought the Programmer's Disease

The Programmer's disease occurs by excessive use of the computer keyboard and the mouse. It is also referred to as CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in the medical community.

In 1999 I started experiencing acute pain in my right hand (I'm right handed). I didn't know about RSI then, and sought physical therapy, which provided temporary help. In year 2000, a fellow programmer suggested that I switch my mouse-clicking hand. It was difficult initially, but the body learns sooner than you think. The pain subsided, and now I have become ambidextrous!

Good Use of Left Hand
Switching the Clicking Hand Cures RSI

To to prevent RSI
(Thanks to Susan Hammack for the tips)

• Stretch and massage your hands
• Perform activities with hands that are opposite to the repeatitive strain -- like weight lifting, raquet sports etc.,
• Distribute the work to other parts of the body -- use alternate fingers and limbs.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, January 18, 2002
Last Modified: 3/15/2002

Schools of the Jungle Durable Link to this BLOG
A Young Boy at a Ghotul
The Schools of the Jungle

Students are teachers here, and teachers, students.
There's free sex, dance, and music.
Equality, simplicity, and freedom form the fundamental fabric of this education system.
Welcome to the Ghotuls.

New at Kamats

Nosy Surfer, a tool that reports the search terms of other surfers is back.

Over 250 new pictures scanned and added to the House of Pictures.

Handy Tip Hiryoung (my wife that is, she is a mathematician in her heart, and by education) has a brilliant idea for content management -- Allow the content processing rules to be nested. (The current implementation of Kamat Content Crowbot only processes linear rules.) I tried to do the same by allowing multiples passes (let first pass create a rule, and second pass process it), but nesting, the way by which a compiler handles the semantics of a computer program is superior. This idea comes just in time for the rewrite of the program. We are debating whether to write it in Java or C#...


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 21, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

News Links Durable Link to this BLOG
News Links

Yahoo!: It's KMART, not KAMAT who is bankrupt. ;-- )

BBC: Monica beats Venus in Australian Open

Rediff: New Acts of Terror in Kolkata -- Is this the trigger India has been waiting to declare war ?

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Last Modified: 1/22/2002

Desi Blogs Durable Link to this BLOG
Indian Weblogs -- List of regularly updated weblogs from India.

New Pictures Added This Month to Kamat's Potpourri

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2002

Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom Durable Link to this BLOG
Random Notes on Libraries, Knowledge, and Freedom

I have had a long romance with the libraries. In the rural town of Honavar (map - topics - pictures) in India where I grew up, there was a library ("Ravindra Vachanalaya") in the attic of a temple, where my friend Gopalkrishna Bhat and I had read each and every book by the time we were in the fourth grade! (that was in year 1977. In today's Honavar there is not even one library, although the population has multiplied several times over. What a shame.). The various public libraries in Karnataka were a good place to go and read Cricket analysis, and job opportunities, but they were never awe inspiring.

Libraries are a luxury in India, and my parents have had to build a collection on their own for their research work.

My first culture shock after coming to America was when I entered the Noble Library at the Arizona State University. I'd never seen anything quite like it! It was not just the size of the library and the number of books; it was the quiet surroundings, the incredible collection of maps and periodicals; the lack of red tape; the services (from photocopying, to database searches, to inter-library-loans, to personal computing facilities). I spent a lot of time in the libraries of ASU and UAB, and ignored my studies. ;-- )

Many people point to the Brooklyn Bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge, and (what was) WTC as the symbols of American greatness and might. I must point to the Public Libraries spread all over of America to describe why America is a great nation.

As I immerse myself in the admiration of American Libraries, often I am reminded of Tagore's Where knowledge is free song we used to sing in RSS, that was supposed to be the Song of India.

In the year 2000, at the invitation of the Directorate of Public Libraries, I had an opportunity to address some of the librarians in Bangalore and I realized the conditions under which they have had to operate -- general lack of funds, too much Government interference, lack of patronage from citizens, and general apathy towards libraries in India.

Problems facing Libraries in India -- topic of a future blog.

Tomorrow: Things You Didn't Know About Libraries

Links

• American Library Association
• The Biggest Library of 'em all
• A Site for the Proposed Kamat Library

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 24, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: library

Learn Your Library Durable Link to this BLOG
Things You Do Not Know About Your Library
(Rather, things I didn't know about the libraries)

  1. A monograph is really a book
  2. .
  3. What we call as journals, the librarians refer to as titles.
  4. Books are sold upon their publication, whereas the periodicals are sold before their publication
  5. .
  6. Most libraries have bigger annual budgets for periodicals than for books.
  7. Libraries pay a different (typically higher) price for aquisitions than individuals and departments would, for the same item
  8. .
  9. The library business is dominated by a few large and influential companies (no wonder startups like ebrary have a hard time competing).
  10. The best way to support a library is to use it (Library visitations are on a sharp decline all over the world).
  11. The librarians (altruists), are in a constant battle with the publishers (capitalists) to represent the best interests of the the knowledge-seekers
  12. .
  13. The shopping list of libraries (this is especially true of corporate libraries) is a closely guarded secret, because it reveals the focus of research activity in the organization

Update Jan 13, 2003 -- Karen Gorss Benko, a catalog librarian writes that Video and Sound recordings are also referred to as monographs. Thank you Karen!

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, January 25, 2002
Last Modified: 3/30/2003
Tags: library

On Indira Gandhi Durable Link to this BLOG
Portrait of Indira Gandhi
What I Really Think About Indira Gandhi

A researcher asked me (via email) what I really thought of Indira Gandhi. The summary of my answer:

• I am proud of Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi) for holding India together, for winning the 1971 war against USA-blessed Pakistan.
• I blame Indira Gandhi, for her abuse of power and democracy, for her lack of vision, for sacrificing the nation's interests for the benefit of her coterie, and for playing immoral (and bloody) politics against the Sikhs.
• I just cannot deny her important role in forming of 20th Century India. Neither can I deny that she died while serving the nation, and hence deserves the reverence of a martyr.

See Also:
• Indira Gandhi -- by Vinay Lal
• (update) Speaking of Indira Gandhi...

Today is India's Republic Day

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, January 26, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: desitale

PeTA and the Circus Durable Link to this BLOG
PeTA and the Circus

I went to the annual Circus this week, and was greeted by the protestors, who apparently have been asking to boycott the circus, as it is unethical.

I concede that circuses are rough on the animals, but I say to PeTA what I say to the pro-lifers. (I am both pro-life and pro-ethical-treatment of animals) "If you are against the circus, don't go. But don't stop me."

Apparently they are upset at the treatment given to the elephants at the circus.

Why only elephants I ask.
What about the animals in the zoo? and what about the cats and dogs in the households? How's that different?

BTW, See Also:
• The Indian Elephants - Table of Contents
• Kamat's (Real and Imaginary) Animals

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, January 27, 2002
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

Memories of Indira Durable Link to this BLOG
Speaking of Indira Gandhi

The other day, I blogged about Indira Gandhi, and it brought to my mind a montage of childhood memories.

It was summer of 1976, and I was barely nine years old. Indira Gandhi had suspended the constitution of India and had assumed dictatorial powers. She had banned the RSS, and saying anything against the Government or Indira Gandhi landed people in jail without trial.

One day some of us boys got up early in the wee hours and wandered the dark streets of the town writing anti-Indira graffiti. "Down with the Dictator" we wrote, and "Damn the Bitch". I was careful not to deface people's homes, but apparently some others weren't so diligent. After vandalizing the entire town, we went to wash our charcoal soaked hands in a waterfall just outside of town.

By the time we returned, it was school time and everybody everywhere was reading our propaganda. It was great. I felt like the heroes of India I had idolized, who had fought to banish the British.

But when I went home, there was a big "Indira Gandhi is a Whore" written on our wall! My uncles were very angry and upset. I was told to wash the sign with soap before my uncles and I got arrested. I just remember that the darn thing won't come off!

Subsequent to this incident, many people in my town were arrested. I personally know of two people who were kept in prison for a whole year without trial, because they opposed the programs of Indira Gandhi.

I believe the year was 1977. By now Indira was the self-proclaimed Amma (motherly figure) of India, and she came to our town of Honavar for campaigning for the election. The whole of Honavar and neighboring towns showed up. It was no small event.

We waited like hours and hours for the helicopter to land. It was my first time seeing an aircraft, and I believe so was for the other 30,000 who had gathered. Indira Gandhi was taken to an open stage that had been erected for the occasion where she spoke for a few minutes. But the crowd did not move from the helipad, all of them had come to see the helicopter!

As she left, some in the audience started shouting the slogans "Indira Hatao, Indri Bachao" (Avoid Indira and save your genitals!). See, in the name of family planning, Indira and her evil son Sanjay Gandhi had forced many poor people to undergo vasectomies, under their 20+5 Point Programme.

A Piece of History

In a stunning display of resiliency of Indian democracy, Indira and her son Sanjay were defeated in that election, by candidates who were still in prison. Indira's Congress Party lost power, and a new political force, the Janata Party, emerged. But the weakening of opposition Indira Gandhi had engineered was to have a far damaging impact on the nation, resulting in successive governments that were weak and unstable.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Last Modified: 11/27/2003
Tags: desitale, honavar

Brahmin Boy and Village Pimp Durable Link to this BLOG
Friendship of Brahmin Boy and the Pimp

Yesterday I wrote about how Indira Gandhi kept the members of the opposition in jail without trial during the dark days of Emergency in India.

One such leader, a family friend, was kept in the police-station/jail of our town. The food that was provided by the jail-contractor was horrible and my family talked the officials into us providing meals to this political detainee.

For eight months in 1976-77 I hand-carried lunch and dinner for this gentleman. Here's a picture of me of that period, so you can imagine.

Vikas carrying water (1976)

I do not think visiting jail everyday at such a young age has had any negative impact on me. On the contrary, I developed a broad sense of the legal system and its abuse. Even today, I am more guided by what is right and wrong, rather than what is legal.

"Men make legal systems. But there are higher powers
that rule the destiny of men and nations" -- Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Anyway, back to the story.

During my daily visits, I became friends with the food-contractor Mr. Bhatta* who seemed like a religious man with his fresh namas and a soft personality. Everyday, he would ask -"What's for dinner today?" and reply -"No change in my menu!" We would greet each other even when we met outside of the police-station.

Sometime after this, one day (after Indira Gandhi lost power, and after her own arrest), some boys and girls wanted to play games in a spacious yard with lots of mango trees, that we had never played before. I knocked the door of the house to ask, and Bhatta answered. He gladly allowed us to play. We played to our hearts content, till it became dark.

There was a furor in the town the next day. Apparently Bhatta was the town pimp, and everybody was shocked that brahmin children -- some of them teenaged girls, would play in the proximity of ill repute.

Hey, we didn't know!!

* Name altered to protect identity


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Last Modified: 11/27/2003
Tags: honavar, desitale

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