Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Diwali Story

Happy Diwali to all of you. It's the festival of lights, and the beginning of a new year for some. The story is fairly old but it's worth a mention.

Ram is our main character. He's actually God, but in disguise. No one knows why. Has three half-brothers, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughna, all of whose mothers were married (legally) to old man Dashrath, who's CEO of Ayodhya. Actually, more like Chief Monarch. So Ram grows up as future CEO and one of the other mothers kinda doesn't like it; her son Bharat just doesn't sound as good with the Vice President tag. And she's got a big time IOU for a special vote at an earlier board meeting, and cashes it in.

Dashrath's totally not with it because of Bharat's lack of the MOS degree - Monarch's Oldest Son. But the IOU's just too strong and he gives in, banishing Ram from the board of directors and telling him to vacate the company premises for a 14 year hiatus. The boardroom drama, then enacted in 14 different episodes with highly influential lawyers and lots of crying, is too much for Dashrath and after the decision, he has a heart attack and goes to the big hole in the sky.

Meanwhile, Bharat finds out about the board decision and is totally against it - he knows he doesn't have an MOS, and he's big on Ram, the de-facto MOS. So he gets out of the campus, talks to Ram and tells him, "Mumsie screwed up, dude. I don't wanna take your seat cos you're like God and all that, so since you'll be back after 14 years, gimme your floaters".

Ram says, and I quote, "Huh?"

"Yeah Bro. I wanna put those up on the CEO's chair and I'll just do a proxy role, but your footwear rules until you're back"

"Ok, whatever tickles you mate".

So Ayodhya was then run by a pair of chappals, officially. (Editor's note: They tried this very thing later, in Enron. Didn't seem to work.)

Ram is now left with Sita, his wife and Lakshman, his loyal half-bro. They hang out for about 10 years next to a river, a fairly boring existence marked by visits by knotted hair rishis and battles with the enemies who for some reason didn't understand that our pal Ram was a GOD and you don't ever try to spar with GOD, at least not in this story. And they were living in a forest sorta place, so Ram and Lakshman were cutting wood and drawing water from wells and rowing oars so they weren't missing the gyms in Ayodhya too much.

One eveing, Ram and Lakshman go to a party, and there's an ugly babe named Shroopnakha. She's absolutely smitten by Ram's carved body and asks him out.

"You're hot, Ram! Let's get married!"
"Er...nope. I'm ekapatni, meaning only one wife, dudette. Look at the ring"
(Note: In those days it was impolite to say "Sorry, but you're ugly")
Shroopnkha's incensed.
"Darn that bitch. I'll take care of her right now"

And she runs out towards the river,with Lakshman running behind her but not as fast because his new dhoti was kinda loose. But he gets it together and just when Shroopnakha attacks Sita (and she was like a Sumo Wrester in comparison, in addition to the ugly bit) Lakshman chops off her nose and ears. That's about par for the course, and tradition continues in the form of Lorena Bobitt.

Shroopnakha's big brother, the schizophrenic 10 headed Ravana is quite miffed at this. Nobody cuts off my sister's nose and ears, he says loudly, while Shroopnakha goes out for reconstructive surgery and comes out as Michael Jackson.

Ravana gets his transvestite friend Marich to wear a deerskin bikini, and jiggle it near Ram's tent - and Sita's thinks it's Chanel and says to Ram, "You haven't bought me a dress in a while, but I'll made do with that if you can get it". Ram, like any normal guy who hates being taken shopping to expensive women's clothing shops, jumps in head first.

Marich screams "Help!" in a voice that sounds a lot like Ram, and Lakshman races to the rescue, though he does draw a circle around the tent in self-combusting chalk to protect Sita.

Meanwhile Ravana drives in with his new BMW and manages to lure Sita out of the combustion zone with his new Z-sound stereo system. Obviously, she's not impressed enough to elope or anything, but Ravana decides that heck, she'll come around, and forces her in. After a long car chase that creates a new record of being on TV channels for 6 days non stop, he's back home in Sri Lanka.

Ram is now smoking out of his ears. He gathers an army of monkeys (Ayodhya's still being ruled by chappals) and they all decide to drive to Lanka. Except they forgot there's a body of water in between.

"Get Online and book us 68,000 tickets to Lanka", orders Ram. Lakshman comes back in about 10 minutes.

"Two problems, Ram"
"One: 'Online' hasn't been invented yet'
"Oh. Hmm. And Two?"
“"Flights" haven't been invented yet….”
"What the hell? (Note to self: Get the Wright brothers in BEFORE you do the movie)
“Okay we'll build a bridge across".
"Are you nuts? We can just build boats man, it's easier!"
"Dude, this is my story, right? If I say we build a bridge, we build a bridge spanning 150 kilometers over water."

And so they did, and the monkeys crossed over. But not before Hanuman, Chief Monkey man, had identified Sita’s location in Lanka using Satellite imaging and in the process, set Lanka on fire. Satellite technology wasn’t too safe at that time. It’s now called “The Long Tail”.

Then the big Ram vs. Ravana fight happened, advertised on RAW as the “Biggest fight ever” and the audience was backed up all the way to Australia for a view. After a lopsided battle between Ravana’s goons and the M-15 powered monkeys, Ravana calls his brother Kumbhakarna, but all he got was voice mail. “I’m asleep right now, but leave me a message and I’ll think of waking up”.

Ravana then shoves a Taser into Kumbhakarna’s side, who jumps up, startled, and attacks Ram, thinking he did it. Ram empties his Uzi into the big K who, not being God, dies.

Ravana’s son Meghnad, in an attempt to avenge this gruesome death, races towards Ram on his Suzuki 600.

“I’ll get you for killing Uncle Kumbhakarna! He hadn’t even heard my voice mail, you ba…..(splutter, choke, die)”

“You talk too much”, mumbles Ram, blowing the smoke off the Uzi. “If you wanna shoot, shoot. Don’t talk”, he mutters, and instantly realizes this dialogue could be a great western movie, which it later was.

Ravana surges forward, and after the explosive exchange of firepower, flies up in his newly obtained helicopter (which thankfully had been invented just in time). Ram, realizing that Ravana’s getting away meant a sequel and there was a love story he had to do next, threw a sword at the copter, which threw the blades off and the helicopter pitched back. The sword, shaped like a boomerang for the Australian watchers, then returned from above to penetrate the windshield and crash into Ravana’s body, severing all his heads in a way that would put Rajnikanth to shame.

So the war was won, and the whole gang returned to Ayodhya, this time using a different route and reaching just at the time when the exile period was over. Their car ran out of petrol just about at the edge of the company wall, so they had to hike the last bit. The campus was kinda dark for lack of proper energy planning and the solar panels having been pointed wrong, what with chappals ruling the roost, so people decided enough was enough and lit up their tiny lamps so Ram and Sita didn’t step into any goo.

There was much joy and celebration all around, with people spontaneously playing cards and making bets on whether Sita’s next step would be before Ram’s.

That’s why we celebrate Diwali with lights, and crackers and lamps. And that’s why the biggest amount of gambling happens on Diwali.

Have a good one, folks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The hole in the wall

No, this is not about a dutch guy who put a finger in a wall to save his town from flooding. Or about Israel and Palestine. It's about India and India. I mean uptown hyperlinked pseudo-impressive India and the real India.

The Hole-in-the-wall experiment was started by Sugata Mitra, head of research at NIIT. The videos on that site (and also here) are mind-blowing; Sugata decided to put a computer (connected to the Internet) on a wall of his office building in Delhi which adjoins a slum. Only the screen was visible through a layer of some thick glass; and there was a touchpad and some coloured buttons next to it. No keyboard, no instructions.

Kids from the slum were instantly attracted; That was Sugata's aim really, to see if anyone would use it. Note that these kids have little knowledge of computers, and a second hand computer would cost as much as their parents make a year.

The experiment went beyond the obvious. Not only did the kids figure out the mouse tricks instantly, they soon realised how they could go on to the internet, and soon were found googling for search terms like "Aishwarya Rai but not with so many clothes". Just kidding.

(I don't like the idea of kids getting unbridled internet access so I hope they have a porn filter out there)

Seriously, the kids figured it all out! Soon they were visiting and playing games online and all that. Amazing, I say. We need one of these boxes in Bangalore, preferably with only links to sites like:
1) How to drive.
2) How to drive without having to honk incessantly.
3) Running over pedestrians is a bad thing.
4) Stopping at red lights: The glamour of people who do.

And people should have to do this before they get a licence, renewable every year.

But I digress. We need the boxes for the under-privileged in Bangalore. And in all sorts of villages - perhaps as a movable van, with a phone link on a cellphone for providing internet access.

I think the video opens many eyes. And tells you the story of a real India. Lots of talent, little opportunity. Open the opportunity, and you'll suddenly see a much bigger market for both employment and for selling to. The big guys do not get it - other than Reliance. The future is in todays castaways.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google Earth is the new hero.

Farmers in Pen Taluka, Maharashtra whose land was going to be acquired by the government for a new SEZ, were peeved when they were offered lower compensation because their land was "submerged in salty creek water". Fertile land is worth more.

So they used Google Earth to prove that their land was fertile.

I'm just curious about this. If these officials would not accept the testimony of witnesses, photographs or even their own eyes (if they went there), why the holy hell would they cow down, tail between their legs, to a Google Earth? Does the government machinery work in such mysterious ways?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I love the smell of coffee in the morning.

I'm still hung up on my Chikmagalur trip, amn't I?