Tuesday, December 8, 2009

12 Days of Christmas by Boymongoose

This is a very funny song-spoof of the Christmas carol: '12 days of Christmas' by Boymongoose. Boymongoose is an Indian Christmas popstar who specializes in comedic remakes of all the classic Christmas Carols (www.boymongoose.com). This spoof hits at 'desis' and would send you into peals of laughter; more soever if you are an NRI and living in Australia. So, enjoy while it lasts, mate!!

(For more information on the true meaning of '12 days of Christmas', click

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Laxmi Pujan in Sydney

Diwali festival has always been one of the most celebrated festivals at home. And since every day in Diwali has a special meaning and occassion attached, the festivities and ways of celebration are diverse. Not to mention the relish of traditional Diwali sweets and savouries!!

Down Under, Diwali is celebrated in Indian-dominated pockets, like Parramatta in New South Wales. Diwali shows are arranged and celebrated with colours of music and food. Unfortunately, this year Diwali was at a time when exams are just round the corner. So, going to Parramatta (net travelling of 50-60 mins from Sydney CBD) was out of question for me. Nevertheless, tradition had to be upheld and celebrated, so I planned a modest Diwali at home.

The night before, I made 'diyas' (lamps) out of the flour I had at home, and made some cotton wicks. By next evening, at the time of Laxmi Pujan, they had dried and hardnened and were fit for purpose. I performed Ganesh Puja first and then proceeded with Laxmi Pujan.

This was quite a make-shift affair. My mom had sent me a picture of Goddess Laxmi as an email attachment, which now was the wallpaper on my laptop. This was used for pictorial representation for the Puja. The home-made diyas furnished the sides of the laptop and the touch-pad acted as a place for placing some dollar bills (since Laxmi is Goddess of Wealth in Hindu mythology and wealth is worshipped on this day).

I felt strange as well as happy performing a Puja like this, but then, thats how you achieve maximization through minimum resources. I felt glad I achieved it in my own small measure!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Caramelized World

Sweet words, sugar coated,
Rightly and politically crafted
Deep down lingers the smell
Of the caramelized world.

The confluence of politics and business
Flows across the oceans deep
Enhancing the sweet salinity
Of the caramelized world.

Cold wars, increasing days afresh
Greys gaining over blacks and whites
The freezing, frosted numbness
Of the caramelized world.

A helping hand and selfless love,
Harsh words filled with concern
Soothing the daily burns
Of the caramelized world.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Picture this mate: Parking sense!!

Now, that's some parking sense! Optimization of parking space...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Picture this, mate!: What's gonna end?

Is it the end of the bicycle track as well as the people walking? Sounds like a no man's land!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Picture this, mate!: Road signs!?

I am starting a new photo blog series titled "Picture this, mate!" on my blog which essentially is a collection of interesting pictures I have clicked in Australia. So here goes the 1st one out to you:

How would you read this?

Monday, August 31, 2009


The word is inescapable, if you are watching a cricket match. Me and my roomies were watching the Ashes series live on TV and suddenly an uproar from the almost calm fielding side broke through the air... "HOWZZAT!!!"

Its a word of appeal thats synonymous with the cricket world. The word that brings the game and the spectators to a brief, anxious halt! And when it is a nail-biting scenario, the word kicks up emotions more than just anxiety. But observing the word from a linguistic focus, it seems incomprehensible to word-intensive person like me. The word "HOWZZAT', actually a shorter form of "How's that?" would in a worldly sense of proper usage would invite replies like "that's good", "awesome", "hmm..not bad", "good work", etc. But instead, umpires don't waste their energy replying to such appeals asking for praise!! They just raise their finger or just nod the head sideways.

Moreover, just imagine a scenario where someone comes to you and asks you "How's that?".. And you turn in some other direction, raise both your hands and point finger to sketch a picture of a square in the air. Doesn't it look funny? But thats what umpires do on the field to refer to the third umpire!

I can't imagine what would happen to me if I was made to stand behind the stumps and judge the game! I would probably reply, "Oh! That's a great piece of bowling" to an LBW appeal. I can't imagine the brickbats from a team of 11 on the field!

That was just a passing thought then, but I later tried to google the origin of the phrase/word "Howzzat" in cricket, but I couldn't find any references. Maybe any of you cricket devotees could help me out. Just for etymological curiosity!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oz 'racial' attacks: A Low-down


Okay.. so you 'heard' and 'read' much about the 'racist' attacks against Indians in Australia! And obviously, since we Indians have inherited the passion for protests and demonstrations, there had to be a protest planned against these attacks! Protests did take place, unfortunately somewhat Indian way, exhibiting much of rowdiness, indiscipline and loud slogans! Let me make couple of points here.

I saw the clip of the protests of Indian students in Melbourne (the video link featured above) and I was ashamed by the way they were protesting. They crowded on the streets marching away, raising loud, angry slogans, whistling and displaying indiscipline of protest - very much the way they behave in India! For the average Australian, who sort of sympathized with Indian students due to the attacks, this type of 'mob-like' protest was not at all welcome. A sort of bitterness could be seen a few days after these protests. Australians made it blatantly clear that such kind of anger-display wasn't at all appreciated in a country where civic discipline and peace is respected and upheld. I gathered this from my network of people who have been in Australia with their families and working here for many years now. Their Australian colleagues used to ask them whats wrong with the Indian students? Why are they behaving like this? It was very obvious that such actions from Indians like taking to the streets in hundreds, disturbing the civic life and peace, created unpleasantness amongst the locals; even Indian-Australians. But Indian students were far from respecting the culture of the land and were further edged on by the amplification provided by the Indian media, ever hungry to make a mountain of a molehill... Display of uncalled patriotic jingoism like shouting slogans of "Bharat mata ki jai" did nothing but further alienate themselves from the masses. How would you feel if a bunch of Aussies took to the streets in India shouting patriotic slogans about Australia? And if foreigners stay in your country and show the infamous middle finger to your police force as they did during the protest, in front of the Australian media? (see the YouTube clip). It certainly ends in a bad feeling! Now if this happens to further alienate Indians from mainstream Australian culture, who is to be blamed to cause racism? Predictably so, Indian media never highlighted 'how' the protests were carried out!

Let's now come to the point of 'racism' by Australians. I fail to get how can Australia be called racist when there is no such thing as Australian race! Indian can be a nationality as well as a race, but Australian is a nationality. The 'original' Aussies were the aborigines, who themselves were a victim of the European racism. The people we see in Australia have ancestral or parental linkage to different countries in the world - Indian, Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese, Croatian, Lebanese and many others. Hence Australia becomes a nation of heterogeneous races... so which of these would you call the Australian race? The attacks which took place in Harris Park, near Sydney were a result of a feud between Punjabis and Lebanese population there. So if a Lebanese bashes up an Indian, still do we call it racism?

If you say yes to this, what would you say about India then? India is much more racist than Australia is! Temples are still dominated by Brahmin lobby which doesn't allow any other caste to enter their domain. There are bitter quarrels between communities, linguistic groups, states. If a Gujarati is mugged and bashed up on a lonely street of Mumbai, would the newspapers publish the next day that Mumbai is racist?

Now here's a final thought to the series of events that unfolded. Build up on these cues and it is rational enough to view these attacks without being carried away by irrationalities of mass sentiments. Indian students in Australia have a lifestyle that consists of leaving for work or university in the morning and usually returning back home early or late at night, usually in public transport or walking. Since most of them are not rich enough to afford property rents around the city hubs, students prefer to live in suburbs (some of them notorious) where property rates are low and hence they afford rents by sharing with other students. Mostly these suburbs are lonely after evenings and people in Australia don't usually come late from work. The people who can be seen on these streets are mostly Indian students walking back to their homes. In these circumstances, it is but natural that most of the victims of mugging and bashing would be none other than Indian students!

Also it is interesting to note why only 'Indian students' and not 'Indians' were at the receiving end of the attacks which happened. If Australians are racist, believing the media propaganda, then Indians in general should have been the victims, which is not so! That leaves a question unanswered, right? And no one seems to ask that question!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

No cOZ for fear!

Hi Friends,

That is the news report in today's Pune Mirror, voicing out students' reactions who are in Sydney to the recent Aussie attacks. I had given a small email interview to this journalist and the report has finally made it to the print.

Just posting the link here. Please do put your comments so that we could make good use of this webspace for sharing viewpoints!


(Go to page 2: See inlay image for reference)

Cheers mate! No worries,

Monday, May 4, 2009

Does your vote really count?

41.24!!! That was the voter turnout in Mumbai for the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections. Shocking? Not really... What more can you expect when elections are mostly scheduled around a 4-day long weekend and soaring mercury? This has been a consistent trend, because it naturally and almost delusively keeps away the middle-class and the upper-middle class from the polling booths. I mean that tactic is just so obvious not to be noticed!

So we heard a lot of 'election-jargon' like 'anti-incumbency factor' and what not! Organizations undertook campaigns on a massive scale, creating 'more aware' voters (I take it with a pinch of salt!) and emphasizing the masses to 'jaago' (awaken) and vote! Though, this piece of writing would somehow hurt the sentiments of these campaigners, let me assure, this is not against the campaigns which are certainly run with a very good motive.

The question I am contemplating is whether the vote of the commons really makes any difference to the polls? Do we blindly follow the adage 'Your Vote Counts?' Ever wondered why 'anti-incumbency factor' fails to do anything else than embellish the statements of psephologists? And if I may go a step ahead and raise your eyebrow saying that it hardly matters whether you vote or not, would you call me a non-conformist?

Maybe to a great extent I am, but then again, I am proud of being one! But this topic is not about the helplessness experienced due to dirty politics and vote banks! The core of this blog concentrates on the rationality of a logical theory which underlines why voting of a common man doesn't count... Why majority doesn't play a decisive game as does minority!

The reason I say what I say can be made clear by taking a fictitious, yet trend-proven example of an election scenario. We know that there are countless parties in India, each 'following' its agenda. These numerous parties float their candidates which fill up a long page of the ballot paper. Suppose now that in a certain constituency, there are 20 candidates contesting elections. Take for example a population of 20000 of that constituency. Now, without deliberating on their patterns of voting, let’s simply assume for instance that each candidate gets equal number of votes, i.e. 1000 votes each. Or otherwise, if you want to assume a distribution of your choice, say, 1300, 700, 500, 1500, 300, 1400... etc. This is the voice of the 'common man', i.e., a majority of you reading this blog. Is it giving out any verdict? Certainly that would be wishful thinking!! Now let’s introduce a 'specific interest group' into this scene. This group maybe a business group, a social group or any group you can think of as long as it has a specific purpose for its formation and existence. Now for the time being, lets assume it is a group of local businesses in that area who need to acquire government lands in that constituency. Now, this group is searching for candidates who can fulfill their demands and in turn, candidates are always looking for such 'interest groups' who could leverage their count. Suppose out of a population of 20000, 1500 are aligned to this group, then it is anybody's guess that the candidate who assures the maximum benefits gets these 1500 votes... Now add these votes to our equiprobable vote count of 1000 per candidate. It becomes 2500 votes for that candidate. Compare 2500 with vote counts like 300, 700, 1000, 1200, 1500 or even 1700 (assume 1700 is the vote count of the most deserving candidate getting most votes by people). Still the margin is very high, and imagine if amplification factor is applied to this example, the margin amplifies more and more.

So at the end of it all, whose vote matters? Your vote (as you have been always told) as an individual? Or your vote ....... as a part of an interest group? The answer is obvious and not surprising at all. Hence, even if you religiously believe that your vote would help to elect the best candidate and bring in reforms, you certainly are in Utopia, because even if you go into a denial mode, the hard facts remain! And could be proved over and over again!

So what do I suggest? Well, the idea to contemplate is how you can make that difference and how your vote would 'really' count! There are various ways I believe this could be done, although I am not an authority to evaluate these options. What I believe is that to begin with, we need to streamline our efforts. I recommend we can start with being a part of an 'interest group'. This need not be always vested interests; sorry if the example cited offers you that bias. But then if you see in western countries, like-minded people follow a cause, however trivial it is and become one when it comes to electing the person who delivers what they stood for!

Even in countries where only 2 parties exist, this is observed. And moreover, when it comes to a multi-party setup as in India, this becomes a necessary step. Uniting votes and streamlining them for reforms is the issue at hand and maybe would pave a way ahead to make your vote 'count' and not just another increment in a vote count!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A tale of two cities

Having been Down Under for more than 2 months now, I can say I have experienced Sydney at least to a level where I can write about it. I avoid writing first impressions of the city, because they may not be always stay that way over a period of time.

Nevertheless, my first impression of Sydney was that of a city 'complicated and laid back' at the same time. I arrived at my temporary accommodation in Sydney in a shiny black taxi, the address being fed initially by the driver in the GPS navigator. Cabbies here have to be told the exact address at the beginning of the journey, complete with the house number and name! The navigator calculates the optimum path to your destination and the cabbie follows it.

Being used to a stochastic life, back home in Mumbai; the city that never sleeps, closing down of shops by 7 pm was quite queer. Everything followed a specific system, even in places where there is no such need. My initial days were spent adjusting to the new lifestyle, the city had to offer. I had nothing to do in the initial few days, except searching for a permanent accommodation. Google maps were the only source of moving around the city, since I didn't have a GPS navigator. There's no relying on the local residents of the area for the address, because people hardly have any know-how about the area other than important places, although street names are clearly visible everywhere.

Over a period of time, one thing has struck me that Sydney (or Australia) is overly reliant on systems. It may be true with all 1st world countries, but it definitely plays down human efforts or mind. People are used to follow only a set system and being guided for smallest instruction by it. Any change to that is not easily comprehensible by the person using that system. Even in the service sector, systems are followed which leaves very little scope for a challenging thinking or decision making on the part of the person delivering the service. In the event of system failure, I believe the functioning of the city would be drastically affected. The city lives by the dictum: 'We are for the system. The system is not for us'.

Things diametrically change in Mumbai which follows: 'The system is for us. We are not for the system'. The systems in Mumbai are not a set of rigid processes, but are more or less interpretative processes, which encourages lateral thinking and snap judgments. That is why, even if systems are not state-of-the-art in Mumbai, people 'know' how to react to divergence from normal behaviour of the systems.

At the end, life is smooth, with 'risk-averse' behaviour prominently seen amongst almost all citizens. People prefer to be guided by safe systems with little appetite for risk.

More thoughts to follow...

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Blogger Returns

Yes, I know its quite some time since I have posted anything up here. "Some time" could be an understatement, but nevertheless, I am making a re-entry into this web space.

Time flies and so do distances. I have been subjected to a new life and environment here in Sydney, away from home. Blogging was lost somewhere amidst this new beginning. Friends asked what happened, and I just used to tell them.. "yes, soon I will blog".

But now, I think enough is enough; I shouldn't act that busy and get to what I love the most: write, write and write...
Expect some new stuff on this blog, new experiences in new city, new people, family away from family and some reflections!
See you guys soon.. Thanks for sticking to this space!