Ego cogito, ergo sum

A compodium of my published aritcles, features, etc. on technology, IT and everything else; sourced from CyberMedia publications, Financial Express, Free Press Journal, Nazara.com, etc……

Archive for the ‘Lonely Monkey’ Category

Why I delete more friends on FB, than adding new ones?

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One of the existential questions that I often grapple with these days is whether the friends on my Facebook List are my friends at all? In the sense, from time unknown, I have come to live the idea of a friend as someone whom you know and trust implicitly. A friend is someone you can wake in the middle of night because you have a nightmare and yet expect not to sleep till you have done so.

And yet, the people on my FB, purportedly known as friends are anything but so. They are an assimilation of colleagues, contacts, acquaintances and so on. Over the past year or so, I have accumulated quite a handful of them, some 260 for a guy who can count just a handful in real life.

In the exuberance to spread my wings in the social space, I let my email accounts find friends for me and result is, today I have a whole lot of people I know little or none of. It was over the next few months or so of ‘wall’ interactions that I came to know more about them. And in the process, I also came to know much about myself as well. I came to realise that whatever I do, there are certain traits that I just can’t accept in my friends, real and purported ones.

So, over the last few months or so, I have been revisiting all my friends on Facebook, and taking a value-based judgement on a simple assertion: does the person add value to my wall or not. It was certainly not an easy task, but I persisted on it. The result has been that these days I am deleting more people from my list than adding new ones. In the same process, I have come to realise some of the things one should be doing and more importantly not doing on FB.

Thus, here are some pointers on “how to make friends on FB and keep them as friends”.

1) Don’t be a bloody show-off
Meeting Amitabh Bachchan tonight, will discuss his hernia. Flew executive class to Florida, the wine was good. Tired of globetrotting, need rest. Buying Armani feels good. 10 days to Honolulu.

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Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 6, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Now hot, now cold climate-wallahs

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Demeter, the Olympian goddess of harvest and climate, is known to act in extremes, at times her benevolence knows no bounds and so does her wrath. Probably, the climate nowadays seems to be going along with the whims of the ancient Greek goddess. Suddenly, there is a flash-storm in Philippines, an earthquake in Haiti, hurricane in Florida, unbelievable snowfall across Europe and now the east coast of the US. The whims of Demeter seem to be dictating the climes now.

And she isn’t the only one whimsical around. The climate-wallahs or more appropriately the climate change-wallahs seem to be more whimsical thanDemeter and with passage of each day they seem to turning ridiculous as well.  Savour this, not such a long-time ago, there was a large looming question mark over our very existence, every action from the computers we run to the farts of the cows (they are a big cause, by the way) were dubbed as detrimental to our environment and hence our health as well. The climate seers while predicting doom, also prescribed big sacrifices from all, from what we eat to how we commute. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

March 11, 2010 at 3:02 am

Dear MF Hussain-saab

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Salaam from India. I hope you are doing well, which I can well imagine you are, considering that at your age there is so much little that one needs and there is just so much that you already have. Well, to be honest, I have been wanting to write you for some time but I was confused about where to send you the mail, as some said that you were a royal guest in UAE, while a few contested that you were put up in London and the rest assured me that you were very much on your way to India.  It was not until that you took up residency in Qatar, that I wasn’t sure of your precise location. In fact, it is about this precise location that I wanted to talk to you about.

Let me first make an honest confession, I am a great fan of yours and your work. Even though, I cannot imagine ever being able to own a Husain piece (and so do probably 99.99999 crores of Indians), yet there is an unknownaffinity that pulls us to your canvass or any piece that you touch including tablecloths, handkerchiefs and even walls. Probably, it was exclusivity of your work that made it so valuable to us. Sotheby used to auction your work for millions of Dollah. I well remember there was this industrialist that had commissioned a hundred paintings from you for some Rs. 100 crore. Now, it is not every day that a painter gets that kind of money, do they? We all Indians were awed and intimidated by your paintings, even if those stark and blurry figurines did not make any sense.

Also, there was a personal connect for me. In most of your paintings that I chanced across in various magazines, etc. your favourite motif was the horse. White, black, yellow, purple horse with open jaws or mouth shut, galloping or standing still. Even when there was no need for a horse in your painting, there would always be one. For instance, in one of the paintings your muse Madhuri was naked and straddling your motif, a horse. Now that was certainly hard to imagine, considering that Madhuri would never ever ride a horse like that. Nevertheless, I share with you the passion for horses. As a kid, I remember my father taking us to Juhu Chowpatty, I used to love the horses there and would lug at my dad’s shirt asking for a horse ride or even two. Some years later, they stopped horses and camels on the beach, and yet I still loved them and would gallop on an invisible horse often when I was alone. So you see from that time on, I have been very impressed by horses.

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Written by Shashwat D.C.

March 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

A letter from Mrs. Ramalinga

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At some point in time in our cyber lives, each one of us has encountered the Nigerian 419 mail. Namely, a mail that comes from some old bank employee or a widow, that promises huge sums to the gullible fool that does not dump the mail into the trash bin.

The scamsters, which in spite of their rather mundane modus-operandi, are pretty much successful and account for millions of dollars in fraud each year. One of the reasons behind their high success rate, is their adaptability. So when the US invaded Iraq, their were lot of messages coming from the Baath Party, or even from Afghanistan. The Nigerians are pretty well aware and out there to con you.

So, when my friend Nelson Johnny sent me a forward from Mrs. Radha Ramalinga, I was much amused. The text was strikingly similar to the Nigerian 419 scams. The same bait, the same hook and the same story. Some preliminary Googling on Radha Ramalinga revealed that the con mail has been around for some time, with many people reporting about the same. Also the fact that Mrs Ramalinga is a real person, was another interesting bit.

Somehow, I feel this mail did not originate from a cyber cafe in Lagos, but some where in Ulhas Nagar in India. The look and feel of the same give a very ‘Indian’ touch to the mail. Though on closer inspection one finds that the Namaste spelling is incorrect and there are quite a few typos, namely no space after comma. Also, the mail id provided for future interaction is slightly different from the one the message originates from.

Nonetheless, I have high regards for Ramalinga Raju as a con artist, his corporate swindling should be studied like a case study. In fact, I had written a piece on it earlier, “Why demonise Raju?” (https://shashwatdc.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/raju-4191.jpg2009/01/why-demonise-raju/). And now receiving a con mail fron someone purporting to be his sister-in-law, I really felt good (though I need to thank Nelson, but whatever).

So, if you have been unlucky till now in receiving the mail, here is a copy of it: Raju420. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

March 1, 2010 at 1:46 am

The Union Budget and me

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(This piece was written quite a few years ago, some 7-8 to be precise when Jaswant Singh was the FM, for my blog Anonymuncle. At that time, I was with a financial newspaper and was overwhelmed with the importance and coverage that media gave to the budget. This piece is a subtle reminder of the same.

When I look at it now, I don’t see much of a difference in the way Union budget affects us. I still am non-chalant, a little morbid and a little unsure now)

Year after year, me, my ma and dad used to sit glued to the television set listening with rapt attention, how the finance minister would shape our destinities. Budget times were always something different and all purchases were either hurried or delayed depending on the probablity of it being good or bad.

The finance minister all of sudden seemed to acquire a halo, like those potraits of gods, with the sun shining behind.  Manmohan Singh used to be pretty entertaining, with his couplets and straight-faced humour. Then, there was Chidambaram, humble and up to the point. Yashwant Sinha, there was always something menacing about him, with him around, good news always seemed far away. Cut to the current incumbent Jaswant Singh, dont know how he is, neither do I care anymore. Simply because the budget doesnt interest me anymore.

A sense of forebrooding envelops me, I have an inkling of what is their in store. It is more or less the same, mobiles, PCs, Tvs, et al get cheaper and LPG, kerosene, petrol get dearer. The income tax slab is raised or retained. The fiscal deficit increases by a hundred thousand crore, the defence sector goes richer. Some new surcharges are introduced, be it Kargil, Gujarat or now Infrastructure.

What bothers me no end is the tax slab, simply because I constantly try to evade it. I simply cannot come to terms with the thought of wasting my hard-earned money on some 500 nincompoops who already make millions under the board. As a citizen of this nation, it is our duty to pay taxes, we are reminded again and again. Yeah, so that all our honourable leaders can lead a life of more comfort, as it is, they move in cavalcades, with glaring red lights and lead a life which would embarass even the Maharajahs of yore. No, give me a better reason. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

February 26, 2010 at 12:09 am

Looking out from 25000+ feet

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‘The mountains are Vishnu’s bones, clouds are the hairs on his head, the air is his breathing, rivers are his veins, trees are the hairs of his body, the sun and the moon are his two eyes and the passage of day and night is the moving of his eyelids.’

– Rig Veda

From the time when I boarded an aircraft over a decade ago, have been fascinated by the sights that one comes across from the tiny glass pane up in the sky. It is nothing less than magical to see giant bridges turn into tiny dots, long railways transform into an micro-toy trains and looming sky scrapers mere indentures on the landscape. Even after scores of trips over the Indian map and other ones, I still take the window seat and keep peeping out, as if there is something else that might just come up. Or it could be someone as well, like say, God. After all doesn’t he (she or even it) lives in the heavens. I have been keeping a watch out for him as well, because looking beneath at the wonderful creation that more or less fits on my palm, my belief in his existence is reaffirmed.

To-date, my most memorable journey was the one I took from Mumbai to Newark, non-stop. The American Airlines plane, to cut the route short, flies over Asia and Europe to the North Pole and then descends over the American hemisphere via Canada. I spent hours peering out in the darkness of the North Pole, could somehow feel the chill of the immense block of ice and the moon kept me company in the vigil. The fact that almost a century and more back there were so many valiant explorers who were racing to the find the North Pole to plant a flag. So many perished in the endeavour and so many just disappeared. And here I was their descendant, flying over the Pole in the comfort of a cosy cabin munching on cashews and sipping wine.

Here is one such journey I made, albeit much shorter and in daylight: fromMumbai to Delhi, on Indigo Flt 6E382. As I was looking out of the window as usual, random thoughts kept popping into my mind (as usual again), with a small difference though, this time I had a pen and paper on which I could jot down whatever came to my mind. This post is a chronicle of the same mind that was travelling at 100s of Kms per hour. Here it goes:

  • The captain makes an announcement; “Welcome onboard, we are flying at 37000 feet . The place is near Ahmadabad. It almost seems like am flying over the Indian map. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

February 19, 2010 at 1:32 am

Uddhav: The Reluctant Tiger

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Right alongside the mirror in Matoshree’s bathroom, there must be a sticker of the party emblem — the tiger and a placard that would have the words ‘growwllll’ etched on them. The purpose of the two is simply to remind Uddhav Thackeray his lineage, and to imbibe the ‘killer instinct’ in him that the Thackerays are so much renowned for. Somehow Uddhav, the youngest of the Bal Keshav Thackeray clan, was a misfit in the family and hence he needs to be constantly reminded of who he is and what he must pose. The latest episode involving the mud-slinging with Rahul Gandhi and Shahrukh Khan is an illustration of the same fact, the display of false paws.

Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them, goes the adage and Uddhav is a living testament to that. Till about 2002, little was known about Uddhav except that he liked photography and yes that he was the youngest  son of the ‘remote control’ of one of the most vituperative Hindu leader. The bespectacled almost impish Uddhav preferred to do his bit, snap tigers in the wild, or shoot forts in Maharashtra from a helicopter.Uddhav, whose name means the brother of Krishna, was quiet happy to lead a non-descript life with his two sons. Since, he happened to be at the vortex of power, he could barely afford the privilege of a profession. So, he was content hosting his photo exhibitions now and then and living it out at his idyllic farm house in Karjat. Unlike his elder brothers, Jaidev and Binda, who were either spoilt by the allure of power or caught in a web of indulgences, Uddhav kept away from both politics and business. In a way, youngest Thackeray seemed to have inherited more from his mother Meena Thackeray, a warm and genile persona that shielded an iron will.

Yet, for all his desires to be away from the dust and grime of politics, he was destined for it. With the death of his brother Binda Thackeray in a car accident, his mother Meenatai in a cardiac arrest and relationship souring between Jaidev and senior Thackeray, his ageing father had no shoulder to lean on, except Uddhav’s. Though, there was indeed Uddhav’s cousin and Balasaheb’s nephew Raj, who had completely imbibed his uncle not only in the way he looked, but also the way he spoke, he thought and he reacted. Raj also had a keen business mind, and was not averse to using any means to achieve his ends. The Ramesh Kini murder case was an example, Raj was accused of threatening and subsequent murder of Ramesh Kini for a real estate deal. Raj over the years, under the aegis of Balasaheb had become the de-facto heir, whose anointment was just a matter of time. But destiny had other plans for him as well.

Once, the Shiv Sena (in conjunction with BJP) had tasted power, they were keen to hold on to it. In fact, before the saffron combine took over the Maharashtra state legislature in 1995, Shiv Sena were just a band of ruffians that were content to terrorise real-estate barons and business people and exhort money from them. But on ascending the CM’s chair, this band of ruffians suddenly realised that the real riches lay elsewhere and what they had been all the time dealing was merely a drop in front of the ocean of opportunity that lay in front. After 5 years in power they were badly itching to be back. Power was undeniably a great intoxicant and now that the ruffians had tasted it, they could not stay away from it.

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