Sunday, November 27

One layer behind

Originally uploaded by We ourselves Irene and Ian.
Irene moved behind a pair of glasses starting yesterday. Last one month she has been nursing her wish for glasses as the eye drops failed to work wonders!

She really looks more serious, though these days she is all the more naughty and kiddish!!!

Another Fall in Japan

Front 2
Originally uploaded by We ourselves Irene and Ian.
Yet another fall in Tokyo. Never thought of seeing so beautiful Autumn in the center of Tokyo! Hiroo Towers is giving such a magnificent view on both sides!

Monday, September 12

Japan back into power

Japan votes LDP back into power.

Emperor and LDP will continue to be in Japan. DPJ has a long way to go to become an opposition that can ever aspire of power.

World News Article |

Saturday, September 10


Know what they say for Zed (Z) in English?


Thus goes first week of schooling for Ian here

No mistakes in One Red. Only learning opportunities

The class motto of her class "One Red" gives Irene a lot of confidence

Friday, September 9

Ian becomes schoolboy too

On a silent Sep 2 morning, Ian started school in Japan.

I could not see him off, rather I left first as I had to go for a meeting. But I did come back to receive him at his bus stop by 3:25PM. He was fast asleep when the bus reached and took a while to recognise he is back.

His biggest wish last year was to take bus to school like Irene did. Now he is happy, while Irene bikes to school. One week over and he seems to be enjoying. Not much to do. They are starting off with small alphabets. Guess what? One week they had been teaching him to write "l". Good thing is he goes to school barehanded. No books, no bags, no lunch. Lunch and snack is provided at school.

Thursday, September 8

Cycle of Life

Does human life too have seasons? Fall followed by spring?

Holy Quran [65:8]
"Let him who has abundance of means spend out of his abundance. And let him whose means of subsistence are straitened spend out of what Allah has given him. Allah burdens not any soul beyond that which He has bestowed upon it. Allah will soon bring about ease after hardship"

[94:2] Have We not opened for thee thy bosom,
[94:3] And removed from thee thy burden,
[94:4] Which had well-nigh broken thy back?
[94:5] And We have exalted thy name.
[94:6] Surely, there is ease after hardship.
[94:7] Aye, surely, there is ease after hardship.
[94:8] So when thou art free from thy immediate task, strive hard,
[94:9] And to thy Lord do thou turn with full attention

If the leaves not fallen, how can the fresh ones blossom? How can I fell the leaves. As tears? As supplication? As alms? As service?

Lord, help me.

Wednesday, September 7

Earthquakes, Floods put man to test

Tsunami greeted new year taking off 180,000 lives. We blamed lack of early warning.

Katrina gave enough of warnings. It still shook off US. Many times the area of 9/11, many times the 'damages', many times lives (damages are calculated by what it costs to insurance companies. Value of an un-insured life = 0). Bush orders an enquiry.

Sure, blacks have lives too. But they did not have cars to escape. No transportation arranged. Bad, I said. My French colleague corrected - No, its US.

Whatever, flesh that runs red blood carrying human souls.

Five plane crashes in one month. Black boxes yet to tell a story.

Typhoon Nabi, even with the strong warnings from Katrina could take off 18 lives. And enough 'damages'.

Acts of God. NY times reports that we felt safe with our technology. We should not have. Realise that. This year is an eye opener for a new era for the military. Rescue operations. Let us stop wars. Dont worry military will be out of job. We have all these around to keep them busy. All the trainings they are given proves useful.

And, silently, in Niger, there are thousands dying of hunger.

Monday, August 29

Back to school

Irene is back at school today. Her third "first day to school"

Last one week was busy for us getting new uniforms, boxes and bags (school bag, gym bag, lunch box and bag, snack box and bag, library bag...) shoes, socks.. and today morning, we dropped her to school in the new dress. White full sleeve shirts tucked behind a little pleated blue-green check pinafore, with navy blue socks and black shoes. (She did complain of the long sleeve shirts - I promised to get her short sleeve ones for summer)

It was a crowdy day at Sacred Heart school with the new kids, returning kids and parents all gathered at the nicely named "breezeway" to look at the class list and line up to be "herded" to the classrooms - what they nicely call the "homerooms". No class teachers - only home room teachers.

I still remember sending her to her first ever school - Himawari kodomono ie montessori - two years back, in April. With no Japanese, with no English even (though it would have helped her) I sent her off to school in her bus in front of High Town Shiohama. As she prayed and stepped in, she was very happy saying "bye" and did not notice tears in her dad's eyes. That was the best I could afford for her that time. She discontinued after the school closed for summer holidays and our vacation in India.

Today I was just remembering how God has been planting small seeds for her, how she is able to go to a school which I could never imagine for her.. Today also, as she quickly moved ahead with the row of kids, I could not stop tears filling my eyes.

God, please build her up to be a courageous, confident child, a bold and humble girl and a kind and loving human being. Kindly let us nurture the little thing, the trust that you bestowed upon us in the form of two of the sweetest of your creations.

Thursday, August 11

Six years not privileged

July 20 this year, my daughter Irene became six years old.

That weekend, I gave her a promotion. She can now have half tickets for the train and bus rides. She decored herself with a cute pink (wow, the pink-o-mania  is the biggest trouble I have grown in her being in Japan all these years) little handbag so that she can keep the ticket safe while travelling.

She enjoyed this privilege, though Ian was not very happy. But then I gave him my ticket and as long as he to put that into ticket gates, he is fine.

Things were fine the first two weekends. I bought her a pre-paid train card that she can use too. She enjoyed the promotion and proudly kept the pass in the handbag and did not fail to carry the bad whereever we went. But then the last weekend, we were caught in a bus. The driver objected on this half ticket business. She is 6, I told him. Fine, but is she a junior school student? Well, no, she cannot be. Japanese schools start on April 01 and one should be 6 by March 31 to get the status of shougakusei (junior school student). A July girl can only wait for the next year. Well, she is not. Ok, then no tickets. The privilege of the half ticket was taken off from her.

The international schools here start Sep and their age cut off in Aug 31. So I need to talk to them again in Sep if she can take half tickets - well she is not actually a shougakusei, but she is a grade 1 student.....

Wednesday, August 10

Has the shadow started fading?

In Japanese, babies are called akachan. aka means red. Youth is seinen. Literally blue life, blue years. Does that mean we cover the full VIBGYOR spectrum of life by youth. No colours after that than the fading violet? When we can only envy on the bright colurs around?

In one of our college magazines, I remember there was a story about shadows. The early part of the day, when we have long shadows, when we were running towards the shadows and slowly swallowing the shadow until it becomes zero. Afterwards we see it growing behind us. Now the shadow is following us. Wherever we go, the shadow follows us. And it starts growing... keep on growing and slowly fades away. Whoever was the author, he had nicely depicted this to reflect the similie of life. Very beautifully. Enjoyed reading it. For, in those days, we never realised how the zero shadow looked like. Theorotically, yes, you cannot define when the shadow is zero. But in these days of extreme planning, its not a bad thing to have a worst case estimate though.

When I crossed the last birthday, while I thankfully saw people like Cherian and Tom still bother to remember these silly dates, there was a slow transform happening in me. If, for eg., I take 70 as the longest practically useful period of life (God forgive, I am not trying to estimate my life - I am not even to be completing this word) then, I just hit the noon? I grew from red to blue and now the indigo and violets are coming in to fade away? When I look back I can only see my shadow of what I had been doing for this long. Is my shadow only growing long? Are the edges blurry, less sharp? Is it fading too?

Did I realise that only my shadow grows now? Earlier when my shadow was shrinking, I was growing. But now? When I was young, I had a legitimate doubt (so do I say) that I asked my father. I have got my head already. How and why do I grow more?

Looking ahead, what do I have? When I am starting to shrink, am I thinking of growing my career?

Start shrinking? There was a Shakespere poem in Ist PDC - All the world's a stage. The life cycle starts with a child who grows and later shrink to what the poet calls second childhood.  Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

If we were to know where exactly is the mid point, we would have been more cautious? Remember those old day funny quizzes? How much you can walk into a 1 km radius forest? 1 km. After that you are walking out of it. When do we start walking out? Remember the last days in college? When we realised we were walking out?

Well, I am talking against the beauty of life probably. The real beauty is that you never know when the last bell will ring. Still.. we should know there is a guy standing below the bell and no one can stop him once he decides to bang?

Tuesday, August 9

Traffic Police in Japan

Nothing surprising though.

I bought a car. A used car for USD2K. (Budget rose 100% from my last Japan life). I am in the process of transferring the registration to my name. Very simple steps compared to what the International schools out here have as their admission procedure.

1. I need to get a parking lot. Luckily I have parking included in my apartment rent. Last time, I used the car for one year. I paid more for parking in that one year, than the car purchase price. Anyway, this time I just had to get the papers from teh apartment office. The location of the apartment, the drive way, exact position of parking, driving directions till the slot. With their seal.

2. Next fill the Shako shome no youshi. This is the application form for parking permission. I filled in the details here. Car make, height, length, width. Police has to confirm that this car can be parked in this slot with no issues. Thats why this is being handled at the police station.

Police? Yes, in Japan there is no traffic police. Or in other words there is only traffic police. Traffic and parking pre occupies the police force here. You can see No parking, No stopping signs on any road here. At a minimum No Parking. If you see a road with no such sign? Well, by default all places in Japan are No Parking unless the expensive P is not found. In Tokyo this P would cost around 7-8 dollar per hour. In our office building, they have a full day scheme for 24 dollars a day.

So the police will always be patroling for these parking violations. You can see small Alto - Zen varieties of cute police cars driving past the parked vehicles. They use a long chalk which they use to mark the tyres-to-road line while they drive. They will then come again in 30 minutes. If the car is not moved - if the line over tyre and road are still aligned - they will put a small tag. You need to take this to police station and pay the fine. Could be like 100 to 200 dollars depending on the area.

Effectively the police here do nothing else than parking checks and traffic violations. Recently there was a house bugarly reported to which the Police said on the spot that they cant do anything. The burglars would have fled the country already. The default assumption is that, all mischief done by Chinese. And police cannot do anything, right? Not just me, even the Prime Minister knows the Police cant do anything. Read this

So now you dont wonder why only 1 out of 5 counters in the police station is handling non-traffic crimes.

Information / Reception
Consultation for crime victims
Registration of garage
Application for the use of roads (dont know what this is)
Parking matters (probably this is where parking fines are handled)

And on the 4th floor there was a counter for paying the fees too:)

Monday, August 8

Public vs Private in Japan

In this part of the world, Private would mean less efficient than Public. Interesting. I still cant figure out how in the public Japan post, the position of Post Master is handed down over generations.

Other aspects, the position of post master and school masters were as the local learned "masters" in earlier Indian villages too. Many be still so in some parts of India. Officer's Letters Describe WWII Bombings Officer's Letters Describe WWII Bombings

Daiba and the turns in history

Well, it did come. On Friday night - must be actually saturday very early morning. I was sleeping and suddenly woke up and Mother Earth was calling me:)

The building was shivering and I could see the tuk-tuk sound as the building flexes to contain the quake. Guess it was around 5 or so, but lasted only some 10 sec.

Anyway did not affect the good weekend. And what would be very interesting is the pics. These are some pics of Tokyo night view taken from around 100 ft + above sea level. Need to know more about Odaiba, read at

The cannon batteries Japanese placed then, if they had fired, the world history would have been different. Anyway the Perry black ships was a big turning point. You can actually link them to WWII also. Last week, it was a prayer day at Hiroshima. 150,000 souls departed in less than 48 hours - 60 years back. A lot of discussion still lingers around. Was it needed? Well, it was necessary, says one US military veteran. Otherwise it would have costed **** estimated lives of American soldiers to invade Japan. And this was cruicial to demonstrate to Russia what US has. US did not want Russia to come in and take over as they did in Europe.

If you can link Perry to WWII, you can easily link the current events to a future WWIII. Perry's black ships are now no longer just ships. These are now replaced with treaties, taxing, political pressure and etcetera.

Monday, August 1

The 'irresistible cocktail' that sealed Japan's fate - Books - Entertainment

The 'irresistible cocktail' that sealed Japan's fate
July 31, 2005 The Age

Saving lives was just one reason for dropping the bomb, according to a new book. Paul Heinrichs examines the arguments.

Could the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been avoided - or was the nuclear bomb's use justifiable in the context?

In the nuclear weapons debate, where opinions are highly polarised, there is an interesting new perspective. British TV drama and documentary director Stephen Walker has written an account of the three-week lead-up to the first dropping of the nuclear bomb in Shockwave. The Countdown to Hiroshima.

Following his earlier 60-minute documentary for the BBC and History Channel on the countdown's final 24 hours, the book focuses on each person's role.

Where he deals with US Secretary for War Henry Stimson's final approval on July 25, 1945, for the bomb to be dropped, Walker makes a striking and probably controversial statement.

"Of course, the decision was always inevitable," he writes. "So inevitable, perhaps, that it could hardly be called a decision. Everything conspired to that end. There were so many urgent reasons to drop the bomb. Together they made an irresistible cocktail."

Walker, 43, explained why. "The most obvious reason why the bomb was dropped, the one that everybody tells, was to save lives - to win the war decisively and quickly and save lives."

He cites his research into the minutes of a critical meeting on June 18, 1945, of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff with the recently appointed President Truman (following the death of Roosevelt in April 1945) to discuss the invasion of Japan.

It was two months after the German capitulation, but finishing off Japan was proving incredibly difficult. The meeting took place as the final battles were being fought for Okinawa, the last Japanese outpost before the home islands.

Although only a small island, Okinawa took three months of vicious, hand-to-hand fighting and the loss of 12,000 American and 107,000 Japanese soldiers, plus an estimated 100,000 Japanese and Okinawan civilians.

The plan was first for a massive invasion of Kyushu, the southern island, on November 1, followed four months later by a second invasion on the plains near Tokyo. More than 750,000 Americans would be involved. At issue was the number of casualties expected.

Walker said that although there is little that is specific - one estimate by General George Marshall was a loss of 31,000 men killed or wounded in the first 30 days - "they are talking about very serious casualties".

He said it was clear Truman reluctantly gave his agreement for the invasion plan "and the only recourse he knew or believed would have been the bomb to prevent that slaughter from happening.

"It is also obvious that whether or not the bomb did save lives ultimately - I'm not into that equation business - it clearly ended the war more quickly, and revisionist historians who say that it didn't are fools, in my opinion.

"It's obvious - you drop a bomb and nine days later Japan has surrendered. That would not have happened without the bomb."

Walker does not ignore other elements. He believes the US was also seeking to win the war quickly, and with a demonstration of nuclear deterrent to Stalin, because it feared Russia was poised to send troops across the border into Japanese-occupied Manchuria (it was), possibly into South-East Asia, and even threaten Australia.

After seeing much of Europe swallowed by the Soviets in the wash-up of the war there, the US did not want a repeat in Asia, Walker said.

"It was critical to Truman to drop that bomb and end that war quickly before the Russians could do it, and at the same time, show the Russians what an atom bomb looked like," Walker said.

As evidence of US thinking, he cites a document he found in the US National Archives, written within two weeks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which contains a list of every major Russian city, its area, population - and the number of nuclear bombs required to wipe them all out. The answer was 204.

"There must have been a top-secret target committee somewhere in the Pentagon that had been put to work to find out how destructive these bombs could be when used - if used - on the Soviets," he said.

Asked if the bomb had been dropped gratuitously, Walker said: "I wouldn't say the bomb was dropped because they hated the Japanese but I would say the bomb was able to be dropped because they hated the Japanese - a slightly different point.

"Understandably. You know, the Japanese started the war, they had the most horrific record on POWs, which had already started to come out in a really big way.

"There was, absolutely without question, an orchestrated campaign, particularly in the American media, to caricature the Japanese as a slightly sub-human race."

In considering the atomic bomb's use, Walker likes to look at what might have happened had it not been used, given the enormous process and cost of preparations of the bomb.

"Suppose the war had gone on and American soldiers had died - and other Allies - and the electorate turned around said said 'My God, you've spent $US2billion of taxpayers' money on a weapon that could have ended this war, quite possibly, and you chose not to use it because you were squeamish about the Japanese?'

"Put yourself in that mindset - how can you stop it?"

Add to that the power and charisma of the military administrator of the project, General Leslie Groves, "a tough sonofabitch" who "for a few weeks here was the most powerful man on earth".

"This bomb was his baby. He had made it happen. Everybody was in thrall to this guy. He was the puppeteer behind the scenes. Truman, frankly, was a message boy, really. He did what he had to do, but Groves was punching it through," said Walker.

Groves' only defeat was Japan's ancient capital Kyoto, which he described as Stimson's "pet city" - Stimson had been there twice, and ordered it off the list of targets. Hiroshima took its place at the head of the queue.

Wednesday, June 1

Application to live in Planet Earth

Just took the printouts.

Going through the pages, stacking them neatly in a file, my memories went past the days after SSLC. Going to the colleges, buying application forms, filling them. It was rather an excitement then. Later, during pre-degree, entrance applications were much more than mere excitement. That was really thought of as the turning point of life. Probably they were - good or bad is something we dont know. Thank God, he never gave us a clue to think that way.

The pre degree forms used to be 2-3 pages? May be. Then an acknowledgement slip. And an interview notification slip.

Entrance form used to be thicker. One sheet was statistical questions. And it was computer read etc etc. First write in pencil, verify and then only write in pen - was the rule. You cannot afford to be careless with your life. Passport application form was the most confusing. That was thick. I got help from a friend to get it filled. The earlier Tax forms were too. Now they are simple excel sheets. Anyway thanks to TDS and no other income, life is as saral as Saral.

Todays printout was for just three schools. No need to go there. You can download from the web. Print them. Fill them. Submit and they will tell forget or not. Anyways we are used to it. The final year of engg was full of this activity. I remember me and Suresh used to combine the work - typing and printing application and sending them en masse thus saving a lot of money for everyone. Funniest incident was when we sent the IES application en masse (to save postage, again) and they replied in separate envelopes for each person. But to the same address. Room no.xx, Mens Hostel. The post office got into a technical snag. 11 of the envelopes bore female names and how they can deliver to Mens hostel? Well, we had to talk to the post master and then parade the 11 girls to the post office. Still we felt it was worth the savings we had in postage. Rs.100 was very big that time. Semester fees was Rs180. And monthly expenses would be like Rs 300.

Well, I probably never filled out so thick application forms. One was 10 pages. What is so much there to have in 10 pages?

Page 1. Checklist. Yupe, good idea. Earlier also many forms had this sheet I remember. It has some additional information and fees structure etc.
Page 2. Here it starts. Applicant info. Family Info. Photograph. Address. Phone. Fax. Mobile. Email. Fine. Easy.
Page 3. Continuation. Previous academic background. Earlier disciplianary actions faced. (My, I remember being put outside the class for 5 min on Aug 14, 1984). Signature. Date. So it should be over, good.
Page 4. Confidential Recommendation. From previous school. Wow.. so many questions - academic and personal.
Page 5. Confidential Rec. Continuation. What words come to mind to describe the applicants major strengths and weaknesses. Five such type questions. Signature, seal and date. Over?
Page 6, 7. Well one rec is not enough. Need two sets. Fine, understand. Anyway they cannot take a risk there. Should not end up like US training suicide pilots in their own land. Agreed.
Page 8. Thankyou, they have enclosed a letter to the previous school counsellor for filling the rec.
Page 9. Health history. Allergy etc etc.
Page 10. Medical examination sheet. Well, this I have done for employment at CDOT and later at TI too. NeST was convinced I am a healthy dynamic chap with nothing to worry.

Now, I have to fill these out and submit. Before that, I need to get to page 1 for the checklist. Ok, they need one more thing. Standardised achievement test scores. Eg. Stanford Achievement Test etc. Hmm.. none exists.

Interesting. I need to sit down and fill them today. I can do only half. They have agreed ot accept that way and submit the confidential rec later. I need to check with Bangalore and see if they woudl be willing to fill in customer rec forms for these schools. And if they would send this directly. Once I sent the applications, if vacancy exists, they will schedule an interview and inform.

Doing an MBA has always been a wish for me. While at CDOT I started doing IGNOU PGDFM. Applied for 4 papers in first sem (max allowed). Decided to take only 3. Down to two when exams came up. Did only one finally. Got A+ for that. By that time I moved to NeST. Then travel and things - I could never do it again. Joining TI, I am asked to do MBA. But last one year, I was always in travel again and hence nothing happened. God Willing, need to make sure I am on it at least this year.

BTW, the application form I talked of above is not for my MBA. Thats the application form for my daughters admission into international school in Japan. She is applying for Grade 1. Confidential Recs from KG is what applies for her.

Believe me, we were too lucky to have lived at a time when living was more fun than a task. Really. What if we had only Ambys and Fiats on the road?

Tuesday, May 24

Democracy, Free World and Freedom of Press

Democracy (di-'mä-kr&-sE) n. The kind of governance observed in late 20th / early 21st century USA

Whatever you may say, for me, this is the most contemporary definition. The most popular one. Why not accept that. In a recent BBC show, someone was ferociously taking this stand. US has been successful, why not follow them? Well, you might then say that its only a minority that supports their view, but just because of power and money they are able propound the notion of the best democracy.

If I agree that view, then where is democracy? Do we have in India? Do we have in Congress? Do we have in CPM? Don’t we have a few set of decision makers everywhere?

All hoax. They tell us voting rights is a sacred cow and you need to worship that. You should exercise your voting rights and put your seal on one of those symbols. Why symbols and not names? Well, we do have a lot of illiterate who cannot read. If someone cannot read, how can he take a decision on who should lead the country? Stop - you are an anti poor "boorshwa". Pro poor means that you keep them uneducated, tell them the sacred cow is the ballot paper and worship means putting the stamp right on the so-and-so symbol. Get them to study classes and brain wash them on politically motivated theories. Tell them they are getting educated. Keep them loyal.

Condi Rice just finished a WW inspection of di-'mä-kr&-sE. The tour report is getting reviewed and the bosses will soon issue the next action plan. If the anti-democratic Marx said "goal justifies action" the di-'mä-kr&-sE advocates "actions justify goal". What if no WMD in Iraq. The action was good. What if Osama is still at large. What if Mussharaf is still CEO-turned President.

Condi has aired some observation without waiting for the action plan. She found that Russian democracy is not really there. A lot more to go. These godless chaps are killing di-'mä-kr&-sE with central government appointing governors. BAD. Should be the other way. Governor deciding on the President. Like Jeff Bush designing ballot paper favouring George Bush in 2000 election. Putin did not sit pretty. He pointed to the fact that American President has been elected by court and not people in 2000. Well, what a battle it was. Really enjoyed that. I guess India should send election observators to US next time. Make sure the ballot papers are designed well. Give them some of these machines too. Oh no, Americans get confused once you put anything new into their hands. And the press will cry, India tried to influence US election.

In a way 2000 was better. The di-'mä-kr&-sE went till court. It failed permenantly there. It did give up forever. So we did not have a fight in 2004. di-'mä-kr&-sE failed and Bush won. A clearly dead cat. Churchill said "The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter". Blair and Bush now proved that you don’t have to do even that. The new proof is that it failed to get Bush and Blair out of power. Right after results came, Americans realised this and are looking for migrating to Canada!

Putin gave another instance - The largest democracy of India is having Governors appointed by the center. True. And we have these guys as the guardians of demo-crazy. Very soon we will have a law that would enable governors to screen the candidate list and approve like the Iranian guardian council. See how boldly Buta Singh kept democracy safe in Bihar. When he found horse trading (with a tilt towards NDA) he put his foot down and recommended dissolution of assembly. Well, we cannot tolerate this. We are not a people used to horse trading. And least when it is against the interest of ruling party in Delhi. Well, he was guarding democracy there for quite sometime with a suspended assembly. He thought the horses would themselves find their master without being traded.

Buta and Bush. Buta works for Congress. Bush also works for Congress. His own man in Afghanistan has been to US begging for a couple of files where he could put down his "President of Afghanistan" stamp. Bush is driven by the absolute desire that di-'mä-kr&-sE should reign. Not Hamid Karzai. He sent the psuedo-boss back home - Man, be in office every morning, watch CNN and go home in the evening. I will tell you when I think I can give some job for you. I know your people are being so-called harrassed in our prisons. Please try to understand our policy. Finally these are some murderers who are "motivated by something the west can never comprehend". Like Nayanar once went on record. "ethayalum chattathu RSS kaaralle?"

Thanks to Blogs and success of American propaganda - nowadays no one worried about freedom of press. Many cases it is over freedom. Like chasing Diana to death. Like selling imaginary weapons to George Fernandez. Like seducing Shakti Kapoor. Why even - the COPS in CNN was showing them catching prostitutes. One was a policeman in a clown costume driving by and getting the girls - recording the voice until she utters xx dollars. She is caught. The other is a police woman waving at passerby cars, offering dates and fixing up rates for service. Once done, cops come in.

Press is not free to report everything though. Why else Newsweek should have withdrawn a news report? . Clearly they are afraid. Why Tehelka is struggling these days? Why, of late, Sun is being threatened of actions for publishing Saddam photos? Well, I was happy on one thing. US understands Jeneva accord. They confirmed this is a clear violation of Jeneva accord - Not a full stop yet - while the people involved has clearly violated, US as a nation is not responsible for this violation. Now what? It could be a few US soldiers. Can you try them? Sorry sir. You cannot try US soldiers for war crimes in International War Tribunal. If you really want US to be questioned, you will need to establish di-'mä-kr&-sE in the rest of the world. Then you come back and tell us about international bodies which we are not in our control.

That’s another argument why you should go my definition. Blair will soon be asking Oxford to redefine the word as US Congress drafts it. If you want to question that, you need to follow it first. If NC(I) can get votes for you, why should you worry about Karunakaran or Muraleedharan.

Deepastambham thulayatte
Namukku kittanam panam

Sunday, February 13

Just another flight

More that half the distance is over. 3500 covered. Another 2500 to go. In miles.
I never knew the flight path was to be so close to artic. Thought I would fly over India. It took off straight north from Narita. Till it hit the russian shore, then turned left. Then the curve - may be the straight line in spherical trigonometry - it crossed a couple of xxxxvsk's. At this time, the screen shows the plane icon crossing the Ural mountains. Don’t remember the names. Never liked geography in schools - never thought I would see places too. Ural almost starts from the Artic ocean and comes down with a little leftward bend. Must be ice tipped if that is what it means by the white shades on screen. On the right is the Western Siberian lowland. The plane is almost skitring the artic. If I had known, I would have asked for a window seat. Something which I started hating a long time back.

This is Alitalia from Narita to Milano. The real name of Milan. On my first ever trip to Europe.
Italy for me was Sonia. And the place of thugs - an info I learnt after the reports of handbag snatch story from Tara. Yup, the guys look almost that way. Is Sonia really from this place? She does not look so! I normally take the airline as the representative culture of the country. Alitalia is just west. Lufthansa is the only exception I have seen. I pressed what it looked like attendant call button for a glass of water. Hours later, someone came down to switch it off. Great job. I don’t expect better anyway!

I can see some non-vsk names now. St. Petersburg, Gorki etc. Moscow we crossed already. Via much north of it.
Coming back to Alitalia - its flying made easy. Really easy, for the crew. One hour after take off, comes Orange juice. Another hour and the lunch. The Muslim Meal was good. That leaves UA alone - Muslim meal, bad. Any other meal, bad. Juice came once again a few hours later, and then late into this 9:30, they don’t seem to be bothering about dinner. I got the first row seat - but for the cup of water for my medicines, I need to walk till the tail.

This is a long long flight. I never bothered to check how long it would take. Guess this will be like 11 hours. So long I have not taken this long a journey. The LH form Bangalore to Dallas gets a better mid-flight stop. Today, its almost nil. I get so close to Cannes, my destination - its just to cross the southern Alps taking an hour or less. Bad planning, Riyaz. My home time gets to 9:30. Thanks to some early flight nap, I don’t feel sleepy now. And I did not take any books to read. So the only thing I can do will be to empty out the Dell battery. It says another 4.5 hours. And I have a spare one - full charge.

Interesting - for the past one hour, we've been chasing the sun. The head of the plane still wants to play while the tail is getting to dinner. The picture has almost been static. Probably it will remain so till we land in Milano. The arrival time is past six in the evening. Tired chasing the sun for another 4.5 hours, we will concede defeat. God Willing. Why do they plot the plane so big on the map? Appears like there is such a fine line between day and night. Thinner than the length of a B777! In those younger days, there was some line to mark day and night. These days, donno when day ends and night starts.

A long time since I logged any travel. Pre-marriage love letters were the only docs that had any travellogues. They were all but burnt recently - when my then-fiancee realised that she has got me fully within her grip! So no more records. Some of them, the Japan-US flights and back. And the Seatac shuttles. And of a cute little Skywest from Seatac to Portland(?). Of the missing calender days and mid-day nights. Of the magnificent views of the mighty Mt.Rainier. The beautiful runways at SFO, the queues for the runway clearance. Today it’s the story of a long dusk. The missing view of the Artic ocean. Today, sitting in the middle row between two Japanese - one a guy who kills his time on movies and books and on my left, a mystery girl, who keeps on fast forwarding the video, listens to iPod and keep a handbound kind of, old-but-well-maintained book on the table tray, to wake up suddenly and jot a few lines in English. The book makes her a mystery girl - it’s a pure hardcopy version of a well run blog. Some pages have some clippings attached, some visiting cards and things like that. The only logging I can do is by looking at the big screen in front of me!

On the next leg of the journey, its crossing Alps. But will be to late to see anything down below. Mandai san warns me that the planes are propellor ones, get cancelled so often due to heavy mist and so on. On the way back, may be I should try train. I have been fancied a lot of the European train sceneries. Probably that would be good to log about.

Merci and Ciao!

Tuesday, February 1

Of Glories and Frailties

While we climb up the glories of technology, tsunamis humble us reminding our frailties.

We talk about great technologies that keep humans together, of great communication gadgets and systems and the hottest stocks these days crawl along the technology that can search out anything anywhere. There we get unbelievable news of someone reporting "Yeah, we got the message, unfortunately we dont have contact info of anyone in that part of the world" and someone faxing the most critical info to a wrong fax number - hmm...sorry... the ministry changed a year ago.

We had a space shuttle landing on a Saturn moon taking instructions from the earth just two days before this.

We do have UNs and Olympics that tries to lie on ourselves that we believe we are part of an earth community. Does anyone of us believe UN is a "man's" parliament. That the start and end ceremonies of the great Olympics truly embody a sense of one community? Who can we fool? Only someone outside the earth? Probably tsunamis and such natural calamities - which are from the other world. Only they could bring some kind of unity among us. A role for the UN. A role for the military rather than just pulling triggers of bloodshed.

Anyway I found that frailties need be focused on. Glories and Glorified honors or "honorified" glories need attention too. I have created a separate space for all tech talk here