Babble Without a Pause

August 22, 2008

SHE

What can i say about HER that I haven’t already said and isn’t already known. The SHE i’m talking about isn’t the charming Julia Roberts in my favorite movie of all time, Notting Hill. Elvis Costello sings of SHE, i sing of a different SHE.

SHE is the one who makes life go round and round. SHE is my ethereal beauty, the small child lurking inside the professional woman of substance, the mature and yet so youthful face. SHE is the childish innocence, the adorable voice and deep soulful eyes that look deep into you. SHE is the friend I’ve always wished I’d have and so much more. SHE is the shoulder I’d lean on, and the one I’d lend mine to. SHE is the perfect woman in every sense of the word, at so many different levels. SHE is the one i long to talk to everyday, even though i’m so far away. The one with whom i can be myself, in one word …… COMPANION. SHE‘s the one I’d never wanna lose, SHE knows it too.  I always say SHE was born to be a mother. SHE’ll probably be the best mom ever. SHE‘d pamper our kids so much I’d never stand a chance to be the FAVORITE PARENT 😦  I could settle for being their 2nd favorite …… cause SHE‘d love to be with our kids. HERS is the smiling face that shows itself very very rarely, but that smile, when out in full bloom, can put everything else before her to shame. SHE loves her parents, loves her friends and can do anything for those she loves.

SHE is the one who inspires me each day to be better than I am, who can make me angry by pointing out my weaknesses and shortcomings. SHE is the one I’ve misunderstood more than anyone else in my life at so many different points. But SHE is also the one i UNDERSTAND so much more than anyone else can comprehend. SHE is the best friend and sweetheart i always dreamt my life partner would be. SHE is the beauty in all its fullness that no other girl can have. SHE is my biggest fan, my sternest critic, yet the familiar face in a crowd of strangers. SHE‘s the one I’d love with all my heart until the day i die. SHE is the one for whom i can do things i never thought possible. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to show her how much I can sacrifice for HER. SHE is the quietest face in the party, yet the most talkative when SHE talks to me over the phone. SHE is the most contemplative being I’ve encountered, always criticizing herself even when the mistake was committed by someone else.

At the heart of all this complexity is a simple being, one untouched by the world, unaffected by the politics, the wrangling, the world out there. The innocence in HER is something i have never been able to comprehend, and there’s something so very endearing and adorable about that quality. SHE has and always will remain the same, the same quiet voice, the tear in her eye that tells you SHE loves you, the quiet moments you share. SHE has carried on when lesser mortals might have faltered, or even given up. SHE has made it through such tough circumstances in her personal struggles, that I am ashamed to call myself a man, cause i know i never could muster that courage. SHE is destined to do great things in her life, do be SO VERY different from the ordinary, and to rise above what she’s faced.

SHE is the complete package. SHE is the one i was meant to spend my life with. I found HER late in my life after having been through hell because of some worthless beings. SHE was always the friend always right in front of me, who I did not recognize until it was almost time to say goodbye. Yet, throught it all, I learnt that there is a time for everything, and I’m glad I got to know HER when I did rather than lose her forever. My past is one big mistake, but SHE is the reason i can and want to forget my past and look forward to OUR future. There is ONLY 1 OF HER IN THIS WORLD, and I’m the luckiest guy alive, to know her, and have her as my soulmate.

SHE.

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August 19, 2008

My reservations about reservations

Reservations, quotas, SC, ST, backward classes, all English words, yet all are indicative of one country, India, and symbolic of a deeper malaise. Whats the deal with reservations anyway, and why do people in our country fall over each other clamouring for admissions to schools, colleges, universities and jobs alike. You know something is wrong when meritorious students line up for admission into prestigious engineering and medical institutions of higher learning, only to see a SC/ST/OBC student in front of them whip out his SC certificate, and walk away with an admission that he might not necessarily have deserved. Meanwhile the deserving student is left biting the dust. With such foolish and inept politicians in charge, such laws have come to be expected. Increasing disillusionment among the working class and students alike has already begun to have a telling effect, with more and more students leaving India to pursue their higher studies abroad. Who would blame them? I personally would be sick to my stomach to even consider continuing in such an educational system either, if i were to be rejected admission because of some undeserving backward caste person taking my place, when i clearly had more merit and stronger ranking than the other guy.

One of our presidents once famously quipped “India is probably the only country in the world, where people fight and protest to be called backward”. I couldnt have said it any better. In the midst of a generation and a global race for development and progress, it is indeed an oxymoron to hear people protest for reservations for “backward” classes. Lets stop for a minute. Who the heck are these BACKWARD classes anyway. Those who cannot stand up on their own feet ? Give me a break. If at all there are people who can’t stand on their feet, it is those who are poor. Those families, those citizens of our nation who deserve support and help. Yet, often it is these families, and children from such backgrounds that show they have the gumption, the desire to fight the odds and reach great positions in society. I firmly support and endorse (and I’m confident that most people of our nation would agree with) reservation/quotas for poorer sections of society in universities and other places in society. That makes some sense, and is probably what the original spirit of the reservation and quota system was intended to be.

Yet, somewhere down the line, quotas and reservations have been synonymous with robbing the deserving of their due, and thrusting it into the hands of a handful who call themselves BACKWARD to move FORWARD in life, thereby diluting the quality of graduates and the system in general. Latest in this series of incidents is the announcement by the Indian government, of a controversial affirmative action bill in Parliament, under which the number of seats set aside for lower-caste students in premier institutions like AIIMS, IITs and IIMs will increase to nearly 50% to “enable more underprivileged and disadvantaged groups access to higher education”. Yeah right Mr. Arjun Singh, if thats what you say. Our politicians, in their blatant greed for votes and power, and with one eye on the vote bank, are seeking to entice these “BACKWARD” communities by canvassing for increased reservation in education. The one sphere of life where quotas have no place is in education. It is here that a student’s dreams are shattered or allowed to soar. By promoting casteism, and segregation of communities based on draconian systems, India’s stock is only bound to fall in the coming years.

To counter this growing push for reservations, I’d like to throw in my 2 cents worth. How about this for a solution instead? Since BACKWARD castes are seeking permanent BACKWARD status, why not have 1 or 2 national level institutions on the same scale as IIT set up with the primary goal of assimilating the best and finest of talents among the quotas. While this would guarantee the regular crowd of students a fair shot at their ambitions, it would also ensure that the minorities or quota seeking crowd are given a fitting chance as well. By having a separate institution or entity created with the sole intention of accommodating these classes, it would also ensure fair and equal representation of this section of society. This would also push the SC/STs to fight for their position or admissions based on merit, rather than survive all their lives living on quotas. Consequently, it would help generate healthy competition, so that being a SC/ST does not automatically qualify a person for undeserving benefits.

In a country like India beset by growing pains, and struggling to bridge the gap from being a 3rd world country into a developed country, it is issues like these that keep us from becoming a global economic and knowledge superpower. While the perfect solution to this menace would be to do away with reservations and quotas altogether. However, knowing the Indian political situation, it appears unlikely that this is going to happen anytime soon. By isolating reserved quotas into their own institutions, their quality can be monitored by government and/or private organizations. This would enable deserving students attempting to get through on merit, from both categories, to achieve what they have set out for, while also weeding out the posers, those in it just for the quota, those who do not belong. In the long run, the Indian education system would be the richer for this change.

August 14, 2008

An emotional Independence day …

Another Independence day is upon us. Yet while this day has passed by every year for the last 62 years, this one is closer to my heart. Today, i celebrate freedom in the truest sense of the word. Freedom to decide my future, freedom to be here, in a foreign land. To make the decisions i would never have made living in India. Living with parents or family back home, you tend to get laid back, lackadaisical infact, when it comes to making independent choices, since your parents are always around. You’ve got friends there ….. you can always turn for help to a familiar face. Yet, when you leave all that familarity behind, and try to get familiar with yourself is when you realize that the ability and the opportunity to make your own choices, to think for yourself, to live by yourself, is in itself freedom, the independence that comes with growing up. Looking back on all those years, now is when i feel most I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T

Last year, i arrived here on 8th August, 1 week from this same day. Yet, in that excitement of being amid new environs, and amid unknown faces and people, in a different cultural backdrop, Aug 15th was a blur. At the time, i was trying to get on my feet like a baby learning to take its first steps, uncertainly balancing on both feet till it feels steady enough to take the next step forward. Yet, one year on, here I am, having learned to walk, and ready to run, maybe even fly. Yes I’m glad i took those first, hesitant steps into the unknown. And I’m glad that i was given that chance, cause i live in a country that is truly free, and respects my desire to be free.

When i look forward, i take it for granted that my children will live free too, enjoying the same independence I do today. Maybe its a foolhardy sense of naivete in a time and society such as this we live in. Only time will tell. But along with what fate has in store, we have a part to play in fate itself. To fight for the same rights we enjoy everyday. To remember the armed forces who silently fight our battles for us, who sit cramped in bunkers in the coldest of winters when we sit in front of our TVs. Who give that ultimate sacrifice so we can live to see another day as a free nation. I want to give something back to the great country that bore me, nourished me and made me what I am today. It sounds almost hypocritical to say all this sitting in the comforts of my home in Maryland. But I can and I will do something to repay that debt, in some small way. This is NOT where i want to be all my life. Home is where my heart is.

Death

I’m surprised too, that I’ve chosen such a morbid topic to talk about. It is never the right time to hear about a friend or close one passing away, going to a better place. There never seems to be a right time for death. Whenever or wherever it strikes, everyone is unprepared. Why do we always wait to hear tragic news about a loved one, before we realize the value of that person, the void that person filled inside your heart without you knowing it until now? Sometimes death can do more than just take a life, it can also leave behind a sense of regret, not having done the things you should’ve done, or saying the things you should’ve said. “I LOVE YOU”, “I’M SORRY”, “I MISS YOU”.

Today, when you see someone walking down the street towards you as you walk past them, don’t hesitate to smile. The next second, a random car cruising on the highway could have them crushed beyond repair. When you talk to your parents, tell them you love them and that you’ve always wanted to make them proud. When you see a friend, give him or her a hug. Let them know how important they are to you. Friends are the ones who give us a sense of belonging, of not being alone out there in this world. Tomorrow might be too late. When you talk to the one you love, your soulmate, focus on it 100 percent. Dont let yourself get distracted by other things when you’re talking to her. Tell her I LOVE YOU.

This is by no means a self-help book. I need more help than all of you combined, so I’m the last one to dish out advice. But every so often, i watch a sad episode of one of my favorite shows. You know …. the episode where a really popular member of the cast dies. Wierd isn’t it. Something as artiifical as TV can make you think about how fleeting life is. But it did. Strange that if we knew today was our last, how different we’d live our lives to the absolute fullest, living it to the extreme. Why don’t I do that everyday? Is it the misplaced sense of false security that today CANNOT and will not be my last. Maybe i need to start getting it into my head that I’m taking my life too much for granted, and that i need to stop and take stock.

This awakening happens to me every few weeks or so. I get a heightened perception of my life and the meaningless wandering I’m doing in my life and career right then. Right then i resolve to change my life, to escape the aimless wandering along the meandering path of my life. 2 days later, back to square ONE. Maybe not this time around. Possibly. Maybe. Check back at this space 2 days from now. How would you face your last day ??? Say the things you want to say right here and now. Not on your deathbed, seconds away from breathing your last. Cause maybe then, it’ll be too late. Time would be slipping out of ur grasp, and you could be in a coma. What can you say then ? All those words you wanted to say, locked up, with no chance of ever being told.

All i know is, when I go, i dont want to leave behind any unfinished business or any unspoken words. That would be the perfect sendoff. Now off to work, trying to do something about it.


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August 11, 2008

India's GOLDEN boy

Abhinav Bindra stunned the shooting fraternity by winning the Olympic Gold medal at the Beijing Olympics today, India’s FIRST GOLD in over 108 years of participation in the Olympics. The quadrennial extravaganza is the cynosure of all eyes in every country around the world every 4 years, all countries save India that is. I’ve only been alive since ’83, but the few Olympic games i’ve witnessed have been a humiliating performance from the Indian contingent. Every Olympiad, barring sterling performances from 1 or 2 gems, the rest fall way short of the world standard. It isnt for dearth of money in the country, or lack of talent. It is simply the governments repeated failure to learn from past mistakes.

Every so often, Indian athletes have demonstrated flashes of brilliance which seem to suggest that the talent is very much there, the ability isn’t a problem, and that they are very much willing to work hard. Yet, why is it that we are CELEBRATING our FIRST gold medal since the hockey team won their last gold way back in 1980 (Thanks Jinsi for tht correction 🙂 i thought it was 1960’s) ? Maybe it is our collective mindset, that as a country so rabid about cricket, other sports get applause if the athletes win a token medal or two, and in doing so, draw the attention away from cricket only for the briefest of whiles. Maybe its high time we give them their due.

Maybe its time for me to start my usual share of rants against the government and all those responsible for the neglected condition of sport in our country. But for the time being, lets bask in the joy and contentment and pride only we know the value of. After 108 years of disappointment, we can only hope this is the beginning of a golden age. Thank you Abhinav Bindra, for a surprisingly early Independence Day gift to the nation 🙂

August 6, 2008

The Masters

Filed under: Uncategorized — rajivmathew @ 12:19 am
Tags: , , , ,

Nope, I’m not talking about Tiger Woods’ latest conquest on the 18th hole. There was a time, a generation or two ago, when having a Diploma was an achievement, and a sure way to land a great career. As time went by, Engineering became the next big thing. Even then, the numbers graduating from engineering schools was so small that it was an achievement to be one. Then came the age of the Masters. In the last 10-15 years, India has churned out engineers by the hundreds of thousands, each assembled off the same factory line of reading, regurgitating, and clearing meaningless exams which are nothing if not an exercise in futility. Education has become an excuse for rich administrators to get richer, and for colleges to use reservations and quotas to promote and carry forward dated means of support for the backward castes. What is the quality of engineers we are producing ?

The software and IT industry has no doubt generated significant revenue for the Indian economy, but it has wiped out all other domains of engineering and industry as we know it. Today, ask an engineer, be it Electrical / Civil / Telecommunications / Mechanical / Electronics, what sort of career he intends to pursue, and he will undoubtedly say, a software engineer, not so much because he/she wants to be a software engineer, but because software has eaten up all other jobs in the industry. The latest fad in the software engineering world is a Masters degree. It seems every Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally is trying his/her luck at this new lottery. America could possibly be overrun by Indians sometime in the near future if the trend continues.

My entire reason for going in for a Masters degree was to stand out from the crowd, to be a graduate, and to specialize in a field i have been fascinated by. It would be wrong for me to make sweeping generalizations on the people who pursue Masters, but half the crowd migrating to the US immediately after their graduation is just following the other half, the blind leading the blind. Half the people i know from college who barely passed college and who barely know enough English to make 2 sentences are writing GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, and other exams, and somehow managing to get sufficient marks to qualify to colleges abroad. Theyre now in the US, doing some sort of Masters degree. At this rate, 5 years from now, a Masters would have about the same value as a Bachelors degree has today …. VIRTUALLY NOTHING. What then would be the next Masters. A PhD ? Only time will tell ………. I can tell you for sure that I for one will not do a PhD even if it becomes the next benchmark.

August 5, 2008

Writers block

Filed under: Uncategorized — rajivmathew @ 6:23 pm

I used to have so many things i wanted to talk about that made me angry, happy, sad, sulky, mad, or bored. Now that i have this blog space, i find i have nothing to write. My train of thought has been derailed. My 1st encounter with writer’s block.

August 4, 2008

Roger Federer ……. Nadal who ?

The human psychology baffles me. Lift a man when he is riding the wave, kick him in the nuts when he is down. For the most part of the year, the media/papparazzi/call them what you will, were on Federer’s case, constantly hounding him with such inane questions as …. “do you think you’re slowly slipping from the top ?”. A lesser mortal would’ve shot back saying “OF COURSE NOT …. IM RIGHT AT THE TOP OF MY GAME RIGHT NOW, AND HAVE BEEN FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS”. Fed though, knew he was on top of his game, and instead chose to let his wand do the talking for the Wimbledon fortnight.

Most Wimbledon stories for the last 5 years have been about Federer, and with good reason. This Wimbledon though, the talk was more about the demise of the aura, the upsetting of the world order. With good reason too. Coming into the Championships, Federer’s year had been marred by a bout of mononucleosis, leaving him looking a pale shadow of himself. Yet, he recovered, coming back strongly to reach the French Open final, being undone by a familiar foe and Australian Open seminfinals, where he was beaten by a resurgent Djokovic.

For far too long, Rafael Nadal has won too much acclaim for his exploits on clay. Agreed, he is the best player of this, or ANY generation on that surface, but truth be told, till this year, his record on grass & hardcourt wasnt one to gloat about. In the last 5 years head-to-head, Federer had won 12 grand slams on varied surfaces, including 3 Australian Open, 4 US Opens, and 5 CONSECUTIVE Wimbledons. By contrast, Nadal had won 4 French Open titles, all 4 against Federer.

Lets put this in perspective. Federer had won 11 of the last 16 slams and reached the finals in all other 5. He was, by these stats, inarguably the GREATEST player on all surfaces, and 2nd best on clay. Nadal, although emperor supreme on clay, was nowhere close to even no.2 on other surfaces, clearly trumped by other up and comers, led by Novak Djokovic. So when the media world started taking to Nadal like the English to Andy Murray, and turning on Roger like a pack of frenzied rabid dogs, it had me stupefied. How can a breed of journalists, including Vijay Amritraj, Brad Gilbert & a bunch other former pros who knew better, suddenly turn to a lesser opponent, ignoring the class of a legend who was the cream of the crop. Yet, through all this,  Federer kept playing his game, the tennis of a man in supreme control of his racquet, dispatching of opponents with the ease of swatting a fly, reaching the finals dropping only one set along the way.

The Wimbledon finals of 2008 will long be remembered as the year “the baton was passed” from the Emperor to the upstart. To those who say Federer’s aura of invincibility has worn thin, i say PHOOEY. Roger Federer has dominated the game for the last 5 years like no other, retaining the No.1 spot for a record 324 consecutive weeks. To say he’s no longer the champion he was, and that he’s no longer a force to be reckoned with would be absurd. I say, Nadal won … go ahead, by all means applaud the man who beat the king. But don’t even think of putting him on the pedestal Roger occupied and still continues to hold. For that to happen,  Nadal has to win with the same consistency, the same class, and the same style and grace that Federer did. Until he wins 13 grand slams, all you Federer bashers and doubters out there should learn respect and admiration for the man who still is the KING.

One trick ponies have been around as long as sports has. Nadal has shown so far that he can win French opens year after year with his eyes closed and by slugging it out from a mile behind the baseline. He has absolutely NO serve-and-volley game, and has never been comfortable playing at the net. He lacks the all-round game and talent that packs such a potent punch in Federer’s arsenal. One-slam wonders like Roddick, Safin, Hewitt and others have come and gone, and before long the name Rafael Nadal will join that all too familiar list. Yet, through all this, it is enduring class, and legends that never fade. “Pistol” Pete Sampras never won the French open, yet he was undisputed greatest till Federer came along. For Nadal to prove that he has indeed snatched the baton from Federer, he has to win consistently and win big on all 4 surfaces, which is beyond his reach. There always has been and always will be the chasm between the GREAT and the IMMORTAL.

Another blog is born

Filed under: Uncategorized — rajivmathew @ 2:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati reported tracking more than 112 million blogs. Make that 112 million and one. I dont even know why i created this account. Maybe to add to the thousands of user accounts & passwords i already force myself to remember. Wat is the deal with passwords n security these days anyway ? It seems everywhere you look on the vast expanse that is the Internet, every dammed site needs a user account. And as if that isnt bad enough, you have to maneouvre your way through tons of possible usernames.

Sample this:

ME: rajivmathew

WEBSITE : Sorry, but the username rajivmathew has already been taken. Please try:

rajivmathew123

rajivm12345

rajivuserxyz

……………………………….

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……………………………….

……………………………….

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The misery doesnt end there. Once you’ve torn out half your hair trying to come up with random alphanumeric permutations of your name, you’ve to tear out whats left, trying to come up with a password. What the …. ????

Coming back to why i made my blog, a lot of close friends tell me i have very strong opinions on a lot of things. Rather than shout it in peoples faces, heres an avenue for me to spew venom !!

Watch this space ……………

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