Babble Without a Pause

December 8, 2015

Perspectives On Being Fleeced (and other stories)

paul-noth-then-we-carefully-disguise-the-bribes-as-legal-fees-by-changing-the-word-new-yorker-cartoon

INDIA (2005)

  1. Passport office. 10am. Stand in line 4-5 hours to get your passport renewed. Wait for hours. Get told to come back the next day.
  2. You decide it’s not worth your time.
  3. You pay some Rupeeses to expedite your application processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets processed the next day and you have your passport.

    BRIBE, they call it.

    “Third world country. What did you expect?” I overhear.

    200_s

 

U.S.A (2015)

  1. Submit application to have your work visa renewed. Wait 4 months for  a process that typically takes a month or two (AT MOST). Get informed by friendly neighborhood attorneys that it could take up to 6 months more, BUT nice guy that you are, you could technically continue working while waiting for approval, but you are virtually under house arrest and literally cannot leave the country for vacation, emergency, or even if Jesus returns (because History lesson, Jesus was from the Middle East, not Amurica).
  2. You decide to not have to be stuck for another 4 months due to government inefficiencies and red tape.
  3. You pay some Dollarses in fees to expedite your visa processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets approved in two weeks and you have your visa.

    PREMIUM PROCESSING, they call it.

    “First world country. Things get done quick.” I overhear.

    200_s

#JustSaying

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February 4, 2011

Abbreviated

Life’s too short, we are told. With a world gone digital, and everyone online, it appears our vocabulary has shrunk to a handful of ridiculous acronyms to meet the need of the times. It seems like, almost overnight, we’ve been transported into an alternate universe when kids rattle off the exact specifications on a Wii or PS3 before they’ve even learned the ABC. Elementary school kids, barely out of diapers, are busy circulating the latest forwarded SMS, while their more illustrious seniors are busy doing the naughty on MMS (LOL!) A 6-year old who’s just graduated from potty training could put you to shame with his ability to rattle off the names of every character in every video game, from CoD to WoWAoE to GTA, GP4 to GT4. Every teen, tween, and pre-pubescent is going OMG at the latest Justin Bieber video. We’re obsessed with celebrities and their lives, who they did LSD with, or how many partners they’ve had SEX with (TMI!). In an always online world, everyone’s status line is habitually set to DND, and even if they do find the time to talk, they’ll always BRB because they’ve GTG. We all have varying degrees of ADD, switching between Facebook, Hulu, Youtube and ESPN while attempting to finish work due the next day, from within the confines of the same four mind-numbing walls of the same office cubicle. Every yuppie BSC and MBA aspirant is awake late at night, trying to ace one or all of the CETSATACTGRE, CAT, just so he can secure his ticket into the IIT or IIM of choice, ensuring his place as the newest FOB to fly BLR -> LHR -> JFK to take over as the CEO or CFO of a massive corporate empire like UPS or UBS, in a swank office overlooking NYC.

With IPL season 4 due to begin soon, it can only mean one thing; more ADD at the office, and even more OCD at home, characterized by family feuds for control of the TV remote, between equally passionate fans of the rival EPL and NBA leagues. When cricket isn’t on the tube, RAW is WAR. When neither of these is on, CSI rules primetime TV, I don’t know WTF for (SMH). If all else fails, it’s time to switch between CNNIBNABCBBCNBC and the slew of trusty 24-hour news channels that recycle and repackage the same combination of non-news ad naueseumIDK about you, but IMO the standard of television programming has plummeted depths heretofore unknown to the human civilization.

As a PPL, we have disturbingly low patience levels today. Every website has an FAQ page; every bank has an ATM, because everyone wants to get things done ASAP. We don’t have enough time to procreate the natural way, so we go in for IVF. We demand instant gratification, without any of the hassle or effort. Unable to cook at home, and unwilling to even try tossing a relatively healthy BLT on the BBQ, we buy dangerously toxic sludge ‘food’ (AKA ‘Happy’ meals, McNuggets, and Whoppers) from KFC and McD, and watch in surprise as we pack on the LBS. Too tired from the weight gain and premature onset of obesity, we barely have enough energy to WFH. Mechanics and garages are no longer open, because every Tom, Dick and Sally has a DIY kit from the ACE hardware store; but if you are unable to get past step 1 on the installation manual, good luck since the only thing you’ll reach if you call customer support is an IVR machine, or if you’re really lucky, an employee in a call center in BLR, who, even if he does an adequate job of helping with what you need, will get no more than a cursory grunt of acknowledgement. Lets face it, we’re in such a hurry, who has time to say things like THX, leave alone PLZ, SRY and ILU?

For a gadget to catch our attention, it has got to be flashy, sleek, fast, or all of the above. Your neighbour down the road just purchased the latest and greatest IBM, with the hottest RAM and superfast CPU, which means it’s definitely time for you to upgrade from your 20 year old computer running DOS so you can download pirated music from the best P2P service online. Your USP might be ESP, but today, nobody will even notice, since they’re busy on their PSP. Technology has empowered the common man beyond what anyone ever imagined. It’s fairly simple today to purchase a full-fledged SLR and all the snazzy equipment that comes with it, and begin snapping away as many JPGs as your gigantic memory card can hold, and JLT you’re a star photographer.In a digital world obsessed with computers, FUD is the order of the day. Y2K came and went at the turn of the millennium, yet none of us died. The CIAFBI and NSA would have you believe everyone who reads a koran is a terrorist, and do a fine job of trying to make you fear for your life everytime you walk down the street. Online, everyday is a never-ending saga of OWN or PWN, with some hacker breaking into and accessing unauthorized data. Any and every achievement, big or small, is trumped online as being FTW. Yes, seriously. WTF is FTW? Technology moves along at breakneck pace, best exemplified by antiques like STDISDFAX and PCO which have died a slow and painful death, leaving clueless phone booth operators in their wake, as every second techno-savvy teen whips out their shiny new HTC which claims to do everything short of actually substituting for toilet paper.

The economy today has been in a steady downward spiral for longer than we can remember. PSUs sink each day, and companies announce very public and very profitable IPOs to make hay while the sun shines. NGOs have mushroomed all over the place, almost like a rodent infestation. Each day the USD, the INR and the GBP wage a largely pointless battle for currency superiority. No matter what you purchase, big or small, whether it be a top-of-the-line DVD or VCD player, or a spanking new ZENKIAGMC, or a DIO, you have to think long and hard ABT your how much you’re willing to shell out on your EMI at the end of the month.

FYI, contrary to what you think, politics is no different in India than it is in the USA. There you have the INC fighting the BJP. Here you have the DEMs fighting the GOP. The same scumbag politicians are in it to win it; benefactors of kickbacks offered by powerful corporate lobby houses, from the NRA to AIG, LIC to ING. In 2001 Saddam was suspected to be hiding WMDs, the US government has long been suspected to be hiding UFOs,  and Chinese restaurants have long been blatantly loading MSG in their food. Sure, it tastes GR8, but apparently it’s bad for you (FML!).  At the EOD, maybe its time to sit down and face the harsh reality. Let’s say a quiet RIP for a world possessed of some sanity, which we lost ages ago. Maybe it’s time to send an SOS to our last hope for a solution, Santa Claus. NVM actually. Maybe some things aren’t meant to be fixed.

Hold on JAM. I gotta take this call.

“Hello …”

“Yes, speaking. Who’s this.”

“Jimmy who? Sorry? Jimmy Wales? ”

“Sincere thanks from the folks at Wikipedia for all the link-backs to your home page? Why, you’re most welcome. What’s that you say, 1000 unique hits in an hour? ”

GTG for now. BRB.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This post is an obviously amateur, slightly comical take on the pervasiveness of acronyms and shorthand in the lexicon of present-day English usage all over the world. It is a humble tribute to the late legend, George Carlin, (inspired largely by THIS performance entitled ‘Modern Man’). Watching it, you can’t help but simultaneously be left in awe at the genius of this man, as well as be let down by the intellectually inferior fare you just read.

November 30, 2008

In the land of the blind…

Another barbaric attack ….. another few disillusioned young men drawn into and brainwashed into terrorism, to savage a country and hold it to ransom for 60 hours. Another hundred or two hundred lives snatched away in an instant. Yet at the end of it all, how far have we come. Since the last attack on Mumbai, that bustling epitome of India’s spirit, the instinct to survive and move on with your life, how much has changed in the way we have looked at our own security. The politician’s perspective certainly hasnt changed. He still prowls around the area, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce on a city ravaged with war, terror and attacks on its innocence. And come election time, no matter what the previous government did, the incumbent is made to look like a terrorist, with mud slinging matches waged with such ferocity and passion.

The politician’s point of view hasn’t changed one bit in those 2 years that have gone by, purely because he hasn’t lost a close member of his family. He still drives around the city when and where he pleases, with his Z-level security, attending the occasional session of Parliament, storming the well of the house (Lok or Rajya Sabha), demanding adjournement for the days proceedings, throwing that tantrum long enough for the speaker to adjourn the session. A nice leisurely stroll outside Parliament lawns, and back again that afternoon for another stalled session of parliament, held up by another moron, armed with the most trivial of reasons to postpone the parliament session till the next day. All done for the day, and its back to the free airline ride back home in business class, and all the other perks. If there’s one thing our politicians haven’t realized till today, it’s that they are reponsible for the security of India. Yes, INDIA. NOT Mumbai, NOT Chennai, NOT Hyderabad, NOT Delhi. FOR INDIA. For the security of its people, and to uphold the sovereignty of the country, that has been entrusted into their not-so-able hands. Death hasn’t hit them as close as it has hit us, hit our friends and their families, hit our own loved ones. Which is why they still walk around with the audacity to tell us we’re safe when clearly we are not.

When a boat loaded with armed youth docks near Colaba to offload a few young men, with satchels on their shoulders, everybody shrugs, pays little heed, and walks on. Not one suspicious look here or there. Thats cause we’ve been exposed to so much in our lifetime, that when we see obvious hints before us, we often fail to see them. What was the Coast Guard doing at the time. Shouldn’t every single boat/ship/cruise liner entering the maritime border be subjected to the most intense scrutiny and security check? Its easy to say this in retrospect, once you know where they come from. How much easier should it have been then, for politicians to stop their bickering for once, and realize the threat before it struck in such horrific fashion. POTA came into effect in 2002. In the intervening 6 years, how many terrorists have been detained under this law, found guilty and been sentenced to death or life imprisonment ? Easy. Barely a handful. Contrast this with the number of politicians who’ve used and abused this for their whims and politican mileage. Vaiko, an inconsequential player in Indian politics, is symbolic of this problem. Pass a law into effect, and the loopholes in it get used by every singe politician. Compare this with the USA. As those of you who know me will agree, I’m not among the biggest fans of the USA. The one attack that was perpetrated on their soil was 9/11 and their reaction was so swift, so hard, it crushed the forces of terror that carried out those crimes. In the past 7 years, NOT ONE single attack has been carried out on US soil since. This isn’t to imply that the USA is suddenly a safe haven in the midst of global terror. It’s just the way they have responded. They’ve got into the mindset of that terrorist, and acted swiftly and with force. Contrast this reaction with that of the Indian government.

Look at this video, and tell me how much confidence you got in the government and their capability to handle the situation, by hearing Mr. Manmohan Singh talk here. NONE. In all honesty, it looks like the PM was reading his message off a teleprompter as is so often the case, NOT speaking TO the Indian populace from his heart, from a strong conviction that the perpetrators of this crime would not be let free that easily. In all honesty, if you want visible proof of the last vestiges of Manmohan Singh’s manhood, you could probably find them floating in a bottle of formaldehyde, on Sonia Gandhi’s desk. Truth is, the man lost all trace of his manhood the second he got installed as the puppet Prime Minister by Sonia Gandhi. The man has POSITIVELY NO SENSE of how to lead a country. For those who disagree, let me remind you here is the man, the self same man who was our leader when Mumbai got attacked in 2006. There again, he promised to find the terrorists and hunt them down. Whats changed. The answer? NOTHING. Nothing has changed cause this government, as others before it, believes in patching up the system, not overhauling it in its entirety. Nothing has changed because apart from talking, this government has done absolutely nothing, to ensure such terrorists are nabbed. Life simply goes on, the politicians make their stump speech about the Spirit of Mumbai, among other cliched terms, to stir up strong emotions within us, to inspire some hope, then pray really hard that the citizens forget the trauma, and that life goes back to normal.

Today, the government will react, I’m sure, by deciding to pass a law to secure the water boundaries all around its perimeter. Too little, too late. In the land of us blinded by rage, the one eyed man has convinced us that we are indeed blind, and that they know the path to safety. To them, i say ENOUGH. ENOUGH of your abuse of power. ENOUGH of trivial words like loss, unity, patriotism, anger that you bandy around in moments like these. ENOUGH of old men, past their 60s, 70s and possibly 80s, running their country, like a record player stuck on the same discordant note. ENOUGH of petty bullshit like Mr. Manmohan Singh, Jaswant Singh, and L K Advani bickering on whether or not to fly in the same airplane side by side, while the paratroopers, the NSG are forced to wait 15 hours. 15 BLOODY HOURS. And ultimately take a ride on Delhi BestBus to get to Mumbai. If you leaders can’t coexist, why are you in power in the 1st place. it is US, the imbeciles, the fools who vote you into power every single time and are made to feel like bigger fools with every immature, reckless and political statement you make. Imagine the leader of a country, supposed to be a minority leader, for whom it is too low or demeaning to fly with the opposition leader. For whom his ego needs to be massaged in the midst of a national crisis. What kind of IMPOTENT wimp of a leader of a nation is this. No wonder we are the constant target of terror strikes on such a scale.

Dawood Ibrahim must be sitting in Pakistan now amazed beyond his wildest imagination at the ease with which he was able to carry off this entire mission. Yet we’re the ones left grappling and trying to come to terms with this monumental loss of life. The first step we can take as a nation is not to play the blame game. Thats the prerogative of the government, and thats something they are specialized at. I was rather amused to hear this piece of analysis from one of the experts, on one of the leading news channels. He said “I dont think the government itself knows the meaning of intelligence, and I’m talking about a different kind of intelligence here”. When a government deliberately ignores intelligence reports indicating a major strike on the country, some heads must roll. But apart from the traditional rolling of heads, concrete steps must be taken to ensure this kind of idiocy, foolish ineptitude is never witnessed again, not by our generation, and for sure not by our children. Government at the highest level needs to be purged of the officials who do nothing. We’re sick of words. We want deeds to back up those empty hollow words.

More than anything else, this incident should be the wake-up call for the rest of us. Never before in terrorist history has the entire event played out before our very eyes. 60 hours of non-stop coverage of the event, almost turned the lives of Mumbaikars into reality TV beamed into our living rooms. By taking it lying down all these years, we’ve emboldened the terrorist organizations worldwide to attack us. 2 years back, they used bombs planted in crowded suburban trains. Today, they walked into our bus terminals, our homes and hotels in a city we are proud to call ours, and opened fire with the confidence that comes only from foolishness or the confidence that comes from a feeling of invincibility. I suspect it is the latter. Today they took our hotels hostage, tomorrow it could very well be our homes. We aren’t safe in our homes anymore, and this wake up call has sounded way too close for us to ignore any longer. Our entire political system needs upheaval, and the government should be held responsible for its actions (more so, the lack of any).

Above all else, here is a message to the government. STOP taking the SPIRIT of this great country for granted. Every single time we have been held to ransom by terrorist forces, Mumbai has stood tall as a beacon of strength, a symbol of perseverance through personal loss and bereavement. People have woken up the next day and taken the same metro train that was blown to bits the day before. That comes from an inner resolve, a strength that goes beyond human fortitude. It has come from the belief that we are strong enough to make it through anything. But this crisis has shown us that we are all too mortal.

But here’s my one SINGULAR message to the political hierarchy in Delhi, Mumbai and our country in general. Today you were lucky to survive. Tomorrow it could strike closer home to YOU. That could be YOUR family in the Taj or some other posh locale. Even an iron-clad spirit can break. the most strong-willed resolve can crack. Don’t wait for us to crack. Be the support we need to hold us up. STOP TAKING THE SPIRIT OF MUMBAI FOR GRANTED. JUST AS YOU SHOULD STOP TAKING YOUR COUNTRY FOR GRANTED. The spirit of this glorious nation is in the courage of its brave people. It not some untapped resource for you to use at ur whims to explain away all your failings. We’ve been blind to your ineptitude till now, and you have convinced us all along that you knew better. We’ve got our own eyes opened now, and we’ve got them focussed squarely on you.

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