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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Matka Man

Something happened a week ago that made me want to rant n rave. However I practiced the self-control for which I am known n held off. I decided if I still felt like blogging about it in a week I would do so.

Well here I am. Mad as a hornet.

This post is my reaction to a conversation I overheard. I wasn't supposed to hear it but I couldn't help myself. I rattled about making a lot of noise so that the people talking would hear me n shut up but no luck. They were totally absorbed. The conversation was between my dad n another man I've known all my life.

That man has a problem. Maybe addiction would be a better word. I'm not going to get into specifics but it's a form of gambling. For the sake of clarity I'm going to call him Matka Man. Just incase you don't know - Matka is a type of illegal lottery that many people are addicted to. This guy isn't addicted to matka but the effects are the same. Right from the time my dad first knew him he used to spend his time n money gambling with some friends. At the time he'd just gotten married but that didn't stop him. Not even the arrival of 2 children over the years had any effect. Then all of sudden he cleaned up his act. He focused on building up his reputation. He's always been known for his integrity n efficiency n with a lot of hard work he retired last year as the head of his section.

And then, he started gambling again. It's causing a lot of turmoil in his family. His wife earns about half of what he used to and they depend on his pension. And yet, every day, the Matka Man will be out gambling. One night my dad n I had to go out in our car searching for him cos he hadn't come home even by 1.00 am. and his wife was terrified. He refuses to buy a cell phone. Probably because he wouldn't be able to disappear as freely as he does now.

I don't know how the conversation started that day but I was privileged to hear his reasoning. According to him he has no other way to pass his time. When my dad suggested a little part time work or consulting he was adamant that he had paid his dues n was going to 'enjoy' his retirement. According to him he gave his wife a part of his pension n since she didn't know about the part he was keeping for his gambling each month it couldn't hurt her. And this from a man who keeps saying she's spending too much on their children. I pity his wife. With her salary n the portion of his that he thinks she deserves she has to meet all the expenses as well as her kids demands n there are lots of those.

Why do men like that ever marry? Matka Man would have been much happier if he'd stayed single. A man who puts his enjoyment above his children's needs, in my opinion is a total failure as a husband and as a father. And all this from a man who keeps talking about his personal integrity and moral values. He'll defend his 'principles' till he's blue in the face. Can't he see what he's doing wrong?

He prides himself on being an intellectual. He loves to debate with people because he can use his reasoning n language skills to confuse them. And then he sits all smug convinced that he's superior to just about everyone else. I used to respect him before because when all's said n done he does have high principles in general and he's usually willing to listen to reason. But now, after being forced to listen to him defending an indefensible habit n still sounding self-righteous, I'm having a hard time even looking at his face.

Matka Man did his best to convince my dad he's in the right. That he deserves the freedom to enjoy the rest of his life. My dad did his best to convince him that gambling was just as much of an addiction as alcohol n drugs. That life can be enjoyed even without such selfish behaviour. But the conversation wound up going round n round in circles. So the Matka Man left as he'd come, still smug n convinced he'd done no wrong. Still bewailing the fact that his kids aren't as great as other people's kids. Forgetting that they had to grow up living with an absent father who never showed them they were valued. Still complaining that his wife was a nag. Forgetting that he had made her one. With his feet set firmly on the road of self-deception. Trying to convince the world to walk with him.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Mosquito Mafia

Many of you reading this will assume I'm just trying to be funny. I'm not.

The past few days have been one long war against the Mosquito Mafia in my house. The battle ground is the computer room though we have little skirmishes on the stairs and on occasion in the hall. Actually those skirmishes are usually one sided. I see the enemy relaxing defenceless n swoop, ruthlessly decimating all in sight. But the main battle in the computer room is another story altogether.

The mosquitoes very cleverly took possession of the room so quietly n secretly that no one noticed. The first time it came to my attention was a couple of days ago when one of them (must have been drunk) came buzzing around my head. I killed him of course. What would you have done. And yet, though the kill was only in retaliation to the attack, the mosquitoes decided it was matter of honour and declared war. I was attacked relentlessly. I'd get a few n the rest would lie low. The moment I sat down n lowered my defences another squad would be sent in to take me out.

Eventually I prevailed and the mosquitoes were forced to retreat to higher levels. I would have accepted that. I'm a peace loving person by nature and I would have been ok with sharing the room. As long as the bottom 6 feet were clear they could have had the rest. BUT... I reckoned without their thirst for revenge. The survivors got the word out and soon reinforcements from other families started pouring in. I realised I needed help too. Unfortunately in these sad days good help is hard to find. I tried and met with ridicule. My sister howled with laughter (she still giggles everytime I kill a mosquito), my mom advised Odomus. I refused. There has got to be a better way of defending oneself. I mean c'mon, it's all very well for skunks but really...I didn't ask my dad for help cos I knew he'd wade right in with flit and though personally I love the smell, I knew it might result in my mom leaving before the mosquitoes.

So as you can see I had absolutely no option but to do what I did next. I know it may seem like an unfair measure, but you know they say, 'all's fair in love and war'. And anyway, since they were the ones who brought in outside help, I figured I could take the high tech route. Using brain over brawn. Hence the shift to biological weapons. Some might say overkill. I say dead is dead. Doesn't matter how. Hence I moved the 'All Out' thingy from my room to the war zone. Now the mosquitoes brains are so addled they come and sit peacefully right next to me. At which time I take great pleasure in squishing them. Of course I've considered the fact that they may be trying to surrender. Huh! Unless they find a way of holding little white flags they'd be better off making peace with their maker.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Updates on C Law conferences

I wrote a really nice letter to my old prof telling him how I really need his help sice I'm at the crossroads, blahblahblah. About 5 or 6 in the evening.
The very next morning I found a reply in my Inbox. A lovely email telling me he's been there n giving his no and telling me to call him anytime and also telling me he's coming to Goa from the 17th to the 19th for a one day conference shceduled on the 18th at the International Centre and that we could meet up then. He suggested that I call either that day or the next.
I called him that very evening. I don't know if I was a bit rushed n if he felt uncomfortable or what. He suggested i sign up to attend the conference if possible and said that since he now had my phone number he'd call when he reached Goa. I asked if it was his first trip here n since he said yes offered to show him around if he wanted since mom n dad had told me to offer.
Anyway we didn't talk long cos he said he was travelling.

The day after that, on the 9th, I attended a conference on C Crime and C Laws. It was fascinating. The guy from ASCL was especially good. I asked and apparently there is one course I can do there that will make me a C Crime Investigator. I've been in the 7th heaven cos of that. Only today am I coming down to earth a bit. Even if I do well there what guarentees are there I'll get a job. Very confused.

Hope my prof can help me thought I'm doubtful cos I realised that he's an expert in IPR n C Law. Anyway I've signed up for the conference so if things go as usual by the end of the conference I'll probably decide to study that!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

petty worries, death & life.

Life is speeding up so much that I find I've no time to read and write as much as I want to. My blog is suffering. Somehow this isn't an isolated phenomenon. Everyone with whom I've been in touch seems to be snowed under their own work. Maybe it's just that time of the year. The time before all the vacations. Maybe that's why life speeds up so much. Though come to think of it, all this rush is probably a way of getting things done before the year ends. Everyone's just trying to show that they've accomplished so much this year. Something to look back on with pride.

I feel so lucky whenever I realise I'm complaining about little things like being busy, and having people try to walk over me. Those are the times I realise that I'm one of the lucky ones. Someone very close to me recently lost her baby. Things that my friends and I mourn about, like jealous co-workers and busy schedules and homesickness and uncaring boyfriends/girlfriends actually seem like things to be counted as blessings. As long as we even notice these little worries it means we have nothing major going wrong in our lives. As long as I can get upset about the Shiv Sena and other communalists it means I have nothing to complain about closer to home.

At first I just couldn't understand what she was going through. It's hard for those without children to understand what it's like to lose a child. Only if you're close to someone who has lost a child will you see and feel a little bit of what they go through everyday. It's bad enough losing the child when it is small. It must be so much worse to lose a child later. A distant relative lost her 20 year old son when I was about 11 or 12. I remember overhearing my parents discussing it. I'll always remember the sound of my mom's voice when she said, "imagine losing him now. Just when she thought all the troublesome years were over. Just when she thought that now they could relax and enjoy life with a grown up child to support them." And she wasn't talking about financial support. All parents come to depend on their kids just as much as kids depend on their parents when they're young. For support, sharing and love. I believe that when a person dies it's the people left behind that suffer the most. I honestly am not scared of dying, but I am scared of dying before my parents and putting them through something like that. No parents deserve that.

Life is so twisted. When you're with people who care, it's easiest being the one who draws the short straw. Who's on his way out. It's easy to tell God to pick you, instead of someone you love. But when you choose to die or flirt with death you have to remember that though you'll be free from this life, you're condemning the people who care about you to misery. When I see people risking their life without reason I want to scream at their selfishness. Sometimes they've gone through a lot of pain themselves and use that as an excuse for their disenchantment with life. I want to tell them it's tougher and braver by far, to choose to live with the pain for the sake of others who love you.

Most of the time you don't get to choose who lives or dies. If you lose someone you love, remember you can't help that person with anything besides prayers. But you can help those left behind. The dead don't need us. The living do.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pepsi Crap...

Recently colas were in the news for containing excessive quantities of pesticides.

The Pepsi defence team had the bright idea of airing an ad where some Pepsi executives and a guy in a white lab coat get together n announce that the chemicals found in Pepsi are within permissible international n national standards.

C'mon you idiots! If you'd managed to get Coca Cola executives to advertise for Pepsi that would be something. Sure the Pepsi executives are going to tell us its safe.

I find the ads particularly amusing because of an email a friend sent me with the following pictures. They may be fake or doctored for all I know but they are very funny. Specially in context with that ridiculous ad that airs all the time!

Picking the right shade for the Pepsi!

Washing the bottles is hard work!

More Washing...

Getting the washed bottles into the crates, waiting to be filled up

Pepsi being filled

Putting the fizz in!

Picking the best caps!

Capping the bottles

Checking for leaks

Quality Check!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A dilemma

This turned into a complicated post. All I started out to do was explain a dilemma without going into the particulars. It ended up like a movie I once saw, where all thru the movie they show you only the characters' feet. (The camera never went above mid-calf level) Not for those without both brains n persistence. (And headache medicine will be required for those with comprehension problems)
Sometimes you know someone is going to do something stupid.
You try to drop a hint.
They tell you that you're wrong.

N you can't say anything more cos then they'll think you're just trying to interfere or even worse that you're envious.

So instead of telling them what your instincts are screaming, you keep quite, smile n pretend that they're doing the right thing.

Then there comes a day when things go wrong for them. You care. You think that the stupid thing they did is the cause. One of life's long shadows. Maybe if they realise that that's the cause, they can prevent more pain n sorrow. But you can't remind them. Your hands are tied. You tried once n they didn't listen n if you try again they might think you're just gloating that you've been proved right.

I think people who won't listen to you before making a mistake will definitely not listen to you after it's too late. Instead of facing up to the fact that they were wrong they'll look for other things to blame. Cos facing up to their errors will bring on more guilt than they can stand.

I may be wrong. I wonder what's more important to me. Staying in their good books or taking a chance n reminding them about stuff from the past.
Easy, most people would say. That's what I'd tell people too. I'd tell them it doesn't matter if they like you for it or not. You need to tell if it may do some good.

But here's the case for not telling.
1) I tried to drop a hint n I got a reply which shows they've totally closed their minds to the possibility that they made a mistake.
2) If they do admit they made a mistake it would devastate them for sure n any benefits would only be seen much much later. Ergo, definite losses in the short term with the possibility of a huge benefit in the long run.

What would you do?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Stupid Forwards!

Today once again I got a stupid forward telling me if I sent it on to 10 people I'd find my true love in a few days, if I sent it to 5 I'd find love in a week n if I deleted it I'd be unlucky in love for 24 years.

C'mon, since I never forward anything, I've probably already got a backlog of bad luck of more than 124 yrs. Are these 24 yrs going to be added to those or will they run concurrently?

In fact come to think of it, one email assured me that I'd lose my job (didn't have one), get run over (I didn't stir out of the house that day), or that a loved one would die or be in distress (I don't know how I escaped that one). I didn't forward it. I threw out a challenge into the teeth of fate n stayed in bed. And you know what... I survived.

Just as I'm going to survive the general bad luck + the romantic bad luck I've earned over the next few decades.


{And btw... if you're the kind of IDIOT who tries to escape the bad luck that's your due by forwarding those forwards to me than trust me you're out of luck. Everytime I press the delete button I intonate..." May the bad luck I am about to receive be shared equally with all those who've gone before me...". So there!}

Must write to old prof.

I've been supposed to write to an old professor of mine for the past 2 weeks atleast. I keep postponing it. Not sure why. I think maybe I'm scared that he won't reply or that he'll reply but I won't like his reply.

Yes, I know. That's not a valid reason to postpone the email. Maybe I'm turning into as big a funk as b_b.