Apr 10, 2008 - quirky    No Comments

Double jeopardy

A baby with two faces was born in a northern Indian village, where she is doing well and is being worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, Durga.

The baby, Lali, apparently has an extremely rare condition known as craniofacial duplication, where a single head has two faces. Except for her ears, all of Lali’s facial features are duplicated — she has two noses, two pairs of lips and two pairs of eyes.

Lali has caused a sensation in the dusty village of Saini Sunpura, 25 miles east of New Delhi. When she left the hospital, eight hours after a normal delivery on March 11, she was swarmed by villagers, said Sabir Ali, the director of SaifiHospital.

“She drinks milk from her two mouths and opens and shuts all the four eyes at one time,” Ali said.

Rural India is deeply superstitious and the little girl is being hailed as a return of the Hindu goddess of valor, Durga, a fiery deity traditionally depicted with three eyes and many arms.

Up to 100 people have been visiting Lali at her home every day to touch her feet out of respect, offer money and receive blessings, Singh told The Associated Press.

“Lali is God’s gift to us,” said Jaipal Singh, a member of the local village council. “She has brought fame to our village.”

Village chief Daulat Ram said he planned to build a temple to Durga in the village.

“I am writing to the state government to provide money to build the temple and help the parents look after their daughter,” Ram said.

Lali’s condition is often linked to serious health complications, but the doctor said she was doing well.

“She is leading a normal life with no breathing difficulties,” said Ali, adding that he saw no need for surgery.

Singh said he took his daughter to a hospital in New Delhi where doctors suggested a CT scan to determine whether her internal organs were normal, but Singh said he felt it was unnecessary.

“I don’t feel the need of that at this stage as my daughter is behaving like a normal child, posing no problems,” he said.

Apr 10, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Spreading the F – word

No seriously, a foul-mouthed parrot, who once told a vicar to f*** off, has been teaching other birds how to swear.

According to this news item Barney the macaw has refused to clean up his act despite being taken to a language specialist.

His most shocking outburst was when he told a mayoress, a vicar and two police officers to ‘f*** off’ and called them ‘w******’ when they visited Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary in Nuneaton.

And the seven-year-old macaw has now been spreading his obscene vocabulary to two other parrots, Sam and Charlie, at the centre.

Owner Geoff Grewcock said: ‘It sounds like a builders’ yard sometimes when we come in here, what with all the abuse flying about.

“They just sit there swearing at each other now, all kind of foul language – it’s unbelievable.”

He said the terrible trio’s favourite rude words were ‘f*** off’, ‘b*****ks’ and ‘t**s’.

Mr Grewcock added: “These birds can live until they are 70 so there are potentially another 60 years of this to contend with.”

Parrot expert Rob Harvey said birds usually talk to get the attention of their owners.

I gotta say this; the parrots chose their words extremely carefully and use them in front of the right audience such as policemen, mayors and vicars. Looks like parrots have better powers of discernment than human beings.

Apr 7, 2008 - Society    No Comments

If you can’t do it, your money can

Apparently, there is more to money than just buying you loads of things, it can buy you happiness. Three separate studies shed new light on the importance of economic circumstances, and undermine earlier findings that poor people are just as happy as the rich.

Aresearch conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, at MelbourneUniversity, shows that when wealth – not just income – is measured, the rich are indeed happier than the poor.

People generally say that money is not that important, relative to other things. However, when people’s assets were taken into account – the value of their houses, cars, art works, even stamp collection – a different picture emerged. Assets were far more important than income in determining happiness. And when you combine income and assets, money seems to matter more than people thought before. The study was based on a survey of a whopping 8000 people aged 25-59.

At the same time, research by Professor Siobhan Austen, of CurtinUniversity, showed poor women might say they were “happy” but they were not necessarily doing well. When asked the standard questions about life satisfaction, 76 women – divided between a rich and poor Perth suburb – appeared to be equally content with life. But in focus groups with the women, it was clear the experiences of the two groups were very different.

Likewise, two US economists suggests that inhabitants of richer countries are happier than those of poorer ones. A paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, economists at the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the higher your GDP, the wider your smile.

After reading this, we as a nation, should not even attempt at happiness, especially when 37% population lives below the poverty line (less than a dollar a day) the smiles will remain non existent. Even before reading about scientific research, I have firm belief that money is the cure of most ills, at worst, it cannot make you happy, but it sure can make the misery a lot more pleasant.

Amir Zaki wrote a song ages ago but it has never lost currency to me.

It goes;

Money is fine, money is cool,

Money breaks the hardest rule.

Rockerfeller, and Princess Ann

If you can’d do it, your money can.

Apr 7, 2008 - Saif Ali Khan    No Comments

Drool fest

At the behest of my numerous friends (you know who you are), I finally managed to find three hours to spare and convinced my colleagues to go and watch “Race” this weekend. Needless to say I was disappointed.
The minute I entered the cinema, the thing that struck me was, “Dude, is this some high school gathering?” The foyer was full of teenage kids, I even asked my colleague D if we were the oldest people over there. She pointed out a few aunties standing in a corner with their daughters. It has happened with me before; I went to see Scary Movie 3 with my roomies back in UK and it turned out that we were the only people in their twenties who were stupid enough to spend 6 pounds for Scary Movie, I quite felt like an idiot. This film has a PG 13 rating in India but no such rating was awarded by our censor board and there were quite a few preteen kids watching the film on their own and with their mothers.
Anyways, the film was quite exhausting. I actually got tired after watching it, too many twists and turns in the plot, car chases, murder attempts and what not. The dress designer was snoring while he designed clothes for the ladies. They all wore similar mini skirts despite being in very different professions (there was a model, an executive assistant to a CEO, and a police wali). Katrina Kaif’s Blue dress in a dance number was a horrendous Las Vegas’ show girl cast off; no wonder Saif Ali Khan refused to take up her offer of ‘touch me, kiss me’.
Akshay Khanna’s hairy chest was a little too much for my sensibilities. It reaffirmed my belief that metro sexuality is the best way to be for men. If women can get hot wax poured over their bodies, so can men. Someone need to tell Bipasha Basu that she cannot stay in the same posture if she wants to be called an actress. All she do is stand with her shoulders pulled back, chest stuck out and tummy sucked, ready to preen. It might work in modeling but acting requires a lot more than that. Oh no, actually it does not. She has been doing it for quite some time and getting away with it. Anil Kapoor’s dialogues were full of crass double entendre and were in really bad taste. His character was based on Ellen DeGeneres’s character in Goodbye Lover. Did I forget to mention the fact that the film was lifted from “Goodbye Lover?” The screen writer/director replaced a more mundane white collar environment of an ad agency with a stud farm (perhaps so that they can show Saif Ali Khan riding horses and a hot & steamy scene in the stables) and bended the gender of the detective (Ellen DeGenress played the role played by Anil Kapoor) but they remain loyal to the story otherwise.
The only redeeming factor – read person – in the film was Saif Ali Khan. What eye candy!!! I am yet to see a desi man looking this good in a suit. Ladies, it’s a total drool fest with Saif, go watch it if you have not already done that. Its totally worth it.
Apr 3, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

People are strange, but politicians are beyond strange

While I am at it, let me share this picture of Asif Zardari which should jog us out of collective amnesia. How Mr. Holier than thou Nawaz Sharif put him behind bar and tortured him (Husband of a political rival Benazeer Bhutto) while he was behind bars. How can Zardari forget it all, or has he not forgotten it all and is just bidding his time? Only time will tell.

People are strange, but politicians are beyond strange.

Apr 3, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

After reconciling with PML-N and ANP, Zardari is mending ways with MQM. Who would have thought that Asif Zardari, the man with notorious Mr. Ten Percent tag would become the smooth suave politician who will be responsible for bringing all the warring political parties at a point where they can have a working relationship.

How things have changed. Only time will tell if the leopard has really changed the spot or is it all momentary lapse.

Apr 2, 2008 - Society    No Comments

Its not you honey, its what you read!

My good friend Andrew sent me this article from The New York Times which is about how a person’s reading habits can affect his/her romantic life. The examples in the article vary from “Can you believe it! He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!” to breaking up with a sweet boyfriend because he was a huge Ayn Rand/Atlas Shrugged/Fountainhead fan to another break up led by the fact that the boy friend thought “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” changed his life.

It lead me to thinking if reading habits really reveal all that much about people or do people were looking for excuses to break up and thought that lack of familiarity with a dead Russian writer is good enough reason. Does reading Nabakov or Kundera mean you are smart or does it mean you are a pretentious a%$&*e? Personally, the smartest man I have known had never heard of either Kundera or Wilde (two of my most fav writers), but that had no effect on either his intellect or his wit. But then, a friend (you know who you are) first got attracted to her husband when he said that as a child, his favourite book was SecretGarden. If it works for you, go for it, but it cannot be taken as a rule. Waisay bhi, men read a lot less than women and holding it against them is a tad childish. If men start holding lack of knowledge about car parts against women, they don’t stand a chance.

Apr 1, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Blogging my life away

I just noticed, I wrote 31 blog entries in the last month, that’s an average of one entry a day and that’s bad – real bad. You see, my blog is my little corner of cyber space where I can rant to my heart’s desire. The more pissed/frustrated/angry I am at things, the more I rant and write. Hence, the numbers of entries are proportional to my mental well being.

One a more serious note, I need to get a life.

I was sent an email which said that department of immigration, Canada actually have a professional categories for strippers who wants to migrate to Canada to work as stripper. The only exception they make is that you need to submit, among other more regular stuff, a nude photo so that the immigration officials would know that you are not a 300 pound 5 feet tall little ball and will find work as a stripper in Canada. Wow!

No, it is not an April’s fool joke. You can go and check it at the immigration profession code website.

Mar 31, 2008 - Society, women    No Comments

Boobing it up

This has got to be the funniest story of the week.

Apparently, a German woman is suing doctors after she checked in to have wrinkles removed – and woke up with a new pair of breasts.

Ingrid Bruelling, 33, had the operation in the German city of Kassel.

She wanted to give herself firmer skin and remove the wrinkles after losing 16 stone on a crash diet.

But when she woke up after the operation she found doctors had put two silicone implants into her breasts, increasing their size from a C cup to a D.

Doctors said the woman should not complain as the best way to tighten the skin and remove the wrinkles was to make her breasts bigger.

First of all, I want to know the diet that can make you loose 16 stones!!! 16 stones mean two normal sized women with a BMI of about 22. I find it difficult to lose 5 pounds and people are losing 16 stones!!!! That’s not fair, I want access to that diet as well.

The doctors in that particular hospital were sexist prigs who think a bigger bfreast size is solution to all the problems. Somebody should tell them; boobing it up is not the solution.

Mar 31, 2008 - published work, Society    2 Comments

The mirage of cool

An article of mine got published in Dawn’s Sunday Magazine but I am pasting the non edited version here.

Taz

A couple of months back, I went to my colleagues home to drop some papers off and witnessed an argument between her and her teenaged son. It was about vacations during the winter break. My colleague was preparing to go to Lahore for a host of weddings in the family while her son wanted to go to Europe for a ski trip in the winter break. She tried reasoning with him for various reasons, but he was adamant that he must go skiing this winter as it is a matter of life and death for him. His argument was that all his friends have been to ski trips and he does not want to be the only ‘uncool’ person who has never experienced skiing. When my colleague said that ski trips are very expensive, he should think about it. He accused her of being partisan as she can pay thousands of dollars in tuition fee for his older brother who is studying in a posh private university in US but cannot rustle up enough funds for him to go skiing. When I tried to lighten the mood by telling the 15 year old Ahmed that I sat in an aero plane for the first time when I was 14 and bungee jumped at 25. His response was a sardonic look and ‘I don’t wanna do things when I am geriatric.’ I have to say that I was quite taken by surprise for his contempt for losers like myself, his knowledge about costing of international luxury vacations and tuition fees of Ivy League schools and his vocabulary. One must admit that not many 15 years old would use the word geriatric.

It is not just Ahmed, most teenagers, at least the affluent and upper middle class teenagers, these days are like that; materialist and seeking instant gratification. They don’t want to share things even with their siblings so everyone want their own music systems, ipods, laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and they want the latest possible versions of all the gadgets. Not only that, they are extremely brand conscious and will only be happy with the clothing or gadget of their brand choice. Sadly, the schools are feeding into this trend. Students bring in their latest possessions to school; they compare notes and if their gadgets are found wanting, they urge their parents to upgrade it. Those who cannot afford argue with their parents and are bitter, some even go into depression.

What is sad that there are no checks on it by the school administrations. Children are allowed obscene display of wealth, whether they are flaunting imported stationary, designer school bags (yes, there is something called designer school bags) or bragging about their expensive vacations to exotic locales. It is agreed that the primary responsibility rests with the parents but schools need to come up with some rules to control the exhibitionist streak in its young fellows. Most posh schools do not offer van services and discourage parents to use outside van services. They insist that parents drop and their pick their children themselves. Not only that it is wreaking havoc with the climate, it creates what now is normally known as ‘School Hour Traffic Jam’. Imagine how environment friendly it would be if there were just 12 buses ferrying school children instead of 400 cars per school, but school managements discourage that. So mummies come in their 4000 cc Cherokees to pick up 3 year old toddlers and anyone who wants to step out anytime between 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm in that area either has to battle the mummy traffic or stay put till it is all over.

I recently volunteered as an alumnus of my university at an education fair and most of the students wanted to know about degrees in actuarial sciences, medicine, merchandising (I swear I did not even know what merchandising was when I was a teenager) and business and finance. When I tried to point out that studying medicine abroad is extremely expensive, almost all the prospective students (most of them were either in their last year of GCSE or first year of GSE) brushed it as an irrelevant irritant. An hour later, I went to the ladies room and overheard two students. One of them asked her friend as to why were she making repeated queries about a course (medicine) that she cannot afford and the other one replied that initially she did not know but later did it so save face. Apparently she was embarrassed about the fact that her parents do not have an insane amount of money to send her abroad for a extremely expensive course.

As an alumnus of a convent school, I remember we had to strictly follow the uniform down to Bata shoes which was a great leveler. We were not allowed to wear even hair clips and other such accessories. I remember that one of my class mates brought a Rs. 500 note to school cafeteria and created a stir amongst the rest of us who had, at best, a 50 rupees note. It was so out of ordinary that her parents were called by the school administration and duly reprimanded for setting up the bad example of exhibiting inappropriate amount of money in the school. With the exception of a very tiny minority, all of us used van to get back home which instilled a sense of camaraderie in the students from different grades and section. Some of us are still friends and keep in touch even though it has been over a decade since we passed out.

Providing children with comfortable life is something that all parents aspire to, but they should also be taught about the value of money and its importance in determining life choices. Similarly teachers and school administrations cannot be absolved of their responsibility towards their wards and should encourage community activities and discourage display of wealth and other luxuries to develop a more harmonious environment in the schools, such practices will lead to a society which values humans more than material gains.

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