Mumbai Localizing

A new phase of life has dawned. A phase that involves travelling in a Mumbai Local every day of the week. And I must say it has been a roller-coaster.

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For all the talk of Mumbai’s local trains, I took a step into one of these ‘beauties’ (a term generally used in connection with either a hot chick or a sports car) without any thoughts in mind. But I’m afraid they really do live up to the hype. If some boisterous Mumbaikar ever told you that you will get beaten to pulp or have your testicles pulled up from behind and tied up to your neck, then he/she is probably right.

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So, let me talk about some of the zones that exist in these trains. The first and foremost one is the Clinger’s Zone i.e. taking a step into the train and ending up standing just right there. This one isn’t as risky as it sounds. Not only does it allow you to stretch your arm 15 inches outside the train ala Shah Rukh Khan and sing ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’, but it also allows you to efficiently trim your body to one arm less. So understandably, this zone is good for your health. Helps you breathe clean air.

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If you successfully manage to clear that zone, you enter the Mush-Mush Zone. What happens here is basically the production of the same sound that the zone is named of. Every human being is playing tennis with both arms and the ball is the head of a fellow human. Mush-mushing is necessary because at both ends of the train, entering and exiting must happen in order for the train to maintain it’s evolutionary balance. If you happen to not be exiting for a long time, all that happens is you get mushed-mushed brutally and end up as a *puff*. Basically, you melt and you fade away. Physics, dude.

In case your journey is longer, you can enter the Queued Zone. In this particular zone, everyone is waiting in a queue. Our trains are but a reflection of our bureaucratic heritage. But this one is logical. You wait for your seat. Makes sense. And I can’t complain. Except for the one time when I got hit by FOUR UMBRELLAS IN A ROW WHILE WAITING FOR THE DAMN SEAT. Okay, cooling myself. It’s okay. This too shall pass.

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Finally, the most comfortable (oh, did I say ‘comfortable’?) of them all – the Seating Zone. You can comfortably sit and stare away into below-the-belt areas of various folk from the Queued Zone and observe the latest fashion in men’s jeans. That is an extreme. You can always shut your eyes, and attempt breathing. And if you have a window seat, there are always the pretty women at other stations to gaze at. Or you can play Spelling Bee with Shahid Kapoor.

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If I’m alive the next time, you’ll read a new blog post.

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Maintaining An Edge

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When I read editorials detailing China’s power indicators with respect to India, I tend to appreciate the fact that our eastern neighbours are indeed way ahead of us in terms of infrastructure, growth and in providing basic hygiene and a higher standard of living to her citizens.

But the attempt made by some commentators to establish Chinese authority (just because of those factors) doesn’t really appeal to me. Obviously, actually. Similarly, jingoistic pieces from India (or Indians abroad) that turn a blind eye to China’s genuine rise are a turn-off too. The faster we accept this fact, the better it could turn out and eventually benefit us.

All emotions aside, India must maintain the edge that it holds in various sectors vis-a-vis China. The Chinese are quick learners and will certainly will have marked out areas where Indians are ahead. I have visited China in the recent past, and here is what I made of the Chinese (a very informal piece, that one).

However, there are certain areas where India clearly holds the edge. The fact that Indian outsourcing giants like TCS are looking towards China as a market [Link] suggests that the Chinese market is rather fragmented. India’s firms, on the other hand, have been posting consistent profits and rise in growth. TCS, themselves, have grown by 8-10 pc this year. It could take China a while to even contemplate capturing the IT services sector. And there is a second factor that comes into play – the English language.

India has the largest number of English speakers in the world, outside the United States. China, as of now, does not even appear in the Top 7. But it is an advantage that could possibly end (considering China’s dedication to increasing the versatility of her workforce) and India must hold on to it, at any cost. English speaking directly increases employability and plays a huge role in attaining professional success in various streams. Add to that, the opportunities Indians get to work and live abroad.

India offers protection to intellectual property, that is way better than China. Although the Chinese are working hard to end their piracy issues, the CEO of Microsoft himself has stated that it is India, and not China, that attracts software companies. [Link] There was also the recent censorship issue between Google and China, that hasn’t worked in Chinese favour.

Finally, we have our principles. Yes, India is more principled than China (democracy, rule of Law, transparency) and there is not a shadow of doubt about that fact. But India must not use that as an excuse to garner international opinion in support of it’s potential superpowerdom and must focus on giving her people a life that is worth living.

There is no ‘greater greatness’ than ensuring the prosperity and well-being of Indians in India and all over the world. And that is what India’s leaders and policy-makers must aspire to do.

Always.

Of Pakistani Ministers And Disguised Sincerity

I am no expert on Indian policy. Or Pakistani policy. But after observing what went back and forth in the latest round of talks between India and Pakistan, I am certain that Pakistan has meticulously planned the process of dealing with India and our leaders.

Notice how we never get a meaningful deal out of these ‘talks’. Notice how SM Qureshi imposes his voice and command over English on every press conference he attends, with disguised sincerity. Notice how India is getting duped by deceitful and non-committal people from the other side of the Radcliffe Line.

By attacking GK Pillai (Home Secretary) and equating him with someone as insidious (and inspirer of many a terror acts) as Hafiz Saeed, it is evident that Pakistan is fundamentally against any progress in these talks. To demonstrate sincerity, one must first be sensible enough to separate the ridiculous and the preposterous from the debatable and the unconvincing. And the fact that Pakistan never does that, we can safely conclude there is none on offer.

Also in doing so, Qureshi loses the plot as easily as he mutters a new word in the English language. Maybe, he intends to lose the plot. This is one of those arguments where Indian officials must sit back, regroup and realize that there are no constructive talks happening. At all. None. There is only clichéd elocution. And that too, by the Pakistanis.

Qureshi might well be an English language majors aspirant, who was picked up by the Pakistani government to confuse Indian and international observers and to rationalize what is easily laughable. If this sounds funny (and it wasn’t intended to be), we can speculate that Pakistan has a clear-cut policy on how to deal with Indian requests for talks, and the talks themselves. Even if the country may have no policy on how to ensure the sustenance of her own self.

Pakistan is like an insincere professor, the type that India’s government schools and colleges are infested with. They come to work, they intend to see out their scheduled time because it is part of their routine, they waste time and they take their pay. No difference is made. Because, none was intended to be made.

Pakistan knows. They know how to deal with India following any major terror attack on Indian soil. There is a cycle of denial first, followed by inaction (and minimal acceptance). And as the clock ticks, we have equivalence. Suddenly, everybody is quiet and terror – what terror? Pakistan faces terror too, you know.

So the solution is – Honestly, I have no clue. Maybe, we can NOT talk. And we can speed-deal with terrorists in our control.

Or we can forget. And save our outrage for another day.

Oh wait, THAT we already do.