Monday, January 28, 2013

Report on Justice Verma Report

So yesterday, @realslimswamy messaged me to watch Devil's Advocate on IBNCNN.  I tuned in 10 minutes into the show and could catch only last 10 minutes.  However, today morning I looked up the full episode and here are my thoughts on the same.

My thoughts on the same:

1.  Laws need to be amended and updated. I cannot believe we have to actually make statements like these. Not Justice Verma's fault, though.  Just that it's sad that we have to convince everyone that with change in times, we need changes in the legal system too.

2.  I'm glad they've including other offenses are included, like stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, etc. However, it kind of shocks me that they were not included already.  

3.  He's recommended making senior officers in the army or police force responsible for the action of junior officers, if the junior is an offender.  Now, I think this is little strange.   As Karan Thapar pointed out, it would be unfair to blame the boss for the action of the junior.  Justice Verma defends his stand by saying that it will depend on facts of the case.  He says that if the senior officer was in a position to prevent such act, but did not do it or he had knowledge of it, then he should be held responsible.  How do you know if he was in a position to do that? I think it would make more sense to punish him if he was an ally to the offense.  Or as Justice Verma says, had knowledge of it and tries to cover up his own ass.  I kind of like Karan Thapar's argument on this topic. [as an auditor, I know 'facts of the case' is the vaguest you can get to save your ass, and it is a fantastic way to limit your responsibility.]

4.  His report doesn't recommend death penalty for gang rapes leading to death or permanent vegetative state.  Justice Verma says current trend is against death penalty.  Apparently, women's groups have been against a death penalty.   I like how Justice Verma says "acceptable penalty rather than death penalty".  But as he says, if the rape ends in murder, under IPC 302, the criminal can be charged for murder.  So, is death penalty under this act/report really necessary?  Should the victim die to get the culprits to be tried under section 302? Don't know.

I'm not able to make my mind up about death penalty myself.  There is this unpardonable crime (not just rape, terrorism, murder) on one side and my own inability to wish death or ill upon people on the other hand.  Some also say death penalty would be an easy way out for the criminal, and that he should be tortured.  I'm not sure about that either.  I'd rather stay silent on this topic.

5.  Assets and Liabilities and verification of MPs. HAHA. So Justice Verma has issues with people with dubious dealings making laws.  I love how Karan Thapar shows surprise that this recommends change to India's political system! If I were him, I'd have totally high fived Justice Verma.  This must be Anna Hazare uncle's recommendation.

6.  So the Home Minister has not talked to Justice Verma yet.  Person responsible for maintaining internal security of India does not consider it his duty to talk to the person chairing the committee for safety of people (they keep saying women, but I know rapes are not restricted to women and children and men are also the victims of this crime)  This is the part which angers me the most in the 20 minute interview. (oh, this and the part that comes later).  He had no infrastructural and secretarial support from the government. So, basically, the Prime Minister set up the committee to offer it as a candy to the angry citizens.  And it was given 30 days to submit the report, and they all knew that in those 30 days, people would've forgotten and moved on to newer scams and we would've found more fun topics to outrage on.  Well played.

7.  Congress recommendation came after midnight on 5th January (last day for suggestions from public) and it was hand delivered at his residence. This is the absolute wtfness.  It's almost as if they got a brainwave to send it across to avoid awkward questions later when people ask what were the recommendations from Congress.  Some recommendation came one the eve of final submission of report. When they're proofreading it.  Justice Verma neither confirms nor denies that the two "important" people who submitted their recommendations 12 hours before the final report was sent in were Sam Pitroda (Prime Minister's special advisor) and Meira Kumar (speaker of the Lok Sabha). 

Second half of the interview angers me so, so, so much. 

Justice Verma received about 80,000 mails for recommendations.  In a country where so many were angry, and so many had blogged and tweeted about it, and so many had joined the protests all over the country, why so few wrote in? I'm really tempted to write something snarky here, but I'll refrain.

My recommendations to Justive Verma committee: here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Roasted Bell Pepper and Tomato Pasta

So my dad is not really fond of pasta and my mom likes it.  So I make pasta whenever dad is not going to be home for dinner.  That way, mom doesn't have to think too much on what to cook for the two of us. (apparently, when you're a mom, the decision on what to cook for lunch/dinner is more important than national security) Today, dad wasn't going to be home for lunch, so we decided on pasta. Of course, like everything else I cook, I had to make some for dad too, because you know, he likes being encouraging sometimes.

Anyway, so mostly I've made arrabbiata sauce which is the simplest. (will put up the recipe sometime) But few days back, sister suggested roasted bell pepper sauce and it had me intrigued.  So I looked up a couple of recipes online and wasn't quite happy with most of them.  I thought that that'll make my pasta dry.  And I like my pasta saucy.  Very, very saucy.

So, here's what I did for lunch today.

Serves 3 (very saucy sauce) or 4 (normal saucy sauce) or 5 (if you're weird and like your pasta dry)


1.  Red and yellow bell peppers (3 each) (you may want to try red, yellow and green bell peppers, 2 each)
2.  1/2 onion (medium) or 1 onion (small) (finely chopped)
3.  3 tomatoes (medium)
4.  6/7 garlic cloves
5.  A bunch of pine nuts
6.  Olive oil
7.  Salt, pepper, red chilli flakes (or any other seasonings you fancy)


1.  Roast the tomatoes and bell peppers on the flame.  Yes, directly on the flame.  You may want to invest in a good pair of tongs before you try this or you may burn your hands. :| So yes, roast them till they smell all nice and burnt. (don't worry, you're going to peel off the skin so you won't taste the burnt thing)
Roasted Bell Peppers
This is how they'll look once they're nicely roasted.  You can now peel off the skin easily. (yeah, good idea would be to let them cool down)

Also, good idea would be to cook the pasta around this time too.

2.  First remove skin of tomatoes and blend them to a paste.  In a pan, pour some olive oil, and add onions to them.  Cook till they become translucent. To this add the tomato puree and let it simmer on low flame for like 4/5 minutes.

This smells awesome

3.  Cut medium/large pieces of the bell peppers and put them in a blender.  Add pine nuts and garlic to this.  Also add a pinch of salt.  Blend well till it becomes nice paste. 

4.  In the pan with simmering tomato sauce, add this sauce to it.  Add chilli flakes and freshly roasted pepper to it.  And salt if required. Oh, and trust me, not a good idea to sniff chilli flakes.

5.   Let it simmer for a while on low flame and serve hot with the pasta!

Saucy, saucy pasta!

This is how the final product looks like.  And it tastes wonderful.  I know it tastes wonderful because mom said so.  And mothers never lie.  And if your mother likes what you've cooked, it is a battle won in the kitchen.  She will be more trusting to let you use her kitchen.

So go ahead, make this pasta and let me know how you liked it!! :D

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Post Office

I was in 3rd standard when we were given an assignment from school.  It was to visit the post office and find out about different counters. 

My mummyma (naani) took me to Navrangpura post office here in Ahmedabad.  It has been close to two decades now and I still remember the post office exactly the way it was.

On the gate, there were 3 boxes.  Red, green and yellow.  Don't really remember what they meant, but I do see more of the red ones only.  (of course, I had a hard time finding a post box to drop off letters the other day).  As soon as you enter, there was a booth that sold stamps and postcards.  (a postcard today costs 50 paisa. that's it.) And then you enter the main office.

It had dull green paint on the walls, and counters which were separated by glass.  The glasses had holes so that the customers can communicate with the person behind the counter.  The floor had grey tiles, which were very dirty.  There was a bench and a desk which had glue bottle.  And it was unclean.  I would try and make sure I don't touch anywhere. 

I took my book out and wrote down the names of the counters.  I also had to buy postcards and inland letters and some stamps as part of the project, and stick it in my book.  Oh, I also had to write a postcard to a friend so that we complete the chain.  And in turn, I would receive one from my friend.

I remember drawing perfect rectangles to show the counters in my 'fair' notebook.  I also stuck a blank inland letter and I believe the postcard I might have received too.  Though I don't really remember who had sent.  Or whom I had sent mine.  I think we had to sent it to the person we sat next to in class.  And I don't really remember that well.  It was a long time ago.

And then I visited the same post office again. 

This time I went alone.

The tiles are still grey, but the walls are yellow.  Each desk has a computer (except the stamp selling booth).

Oh, and a glue bottle still sits there on a lone desk.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013


There is something charming about handwritten letters.

I've been wanting to receive them since forever now, and today, while driving to meet a friend, I realised I haven't written a letter to anyone in the longest time either.

So, I have decided, tomorrow morning, I'm going to go to the post office and getting myself a bunch of postcards and sending them out. It doesn't matter if I have anything to tell them, but a little thought on how they have been a part of my life doesn't hurt anyone.

So, well. Tomorrow is the beginning of Project Postcard.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Announcing New Festival

There are lot of bad things happening in the country and the world.  It is time we should look for reasons to celebrate.

So what better reason to celebrate than a festival?

And everyone should have a back up career plan.  So in case I don't end up being the Prime Minister of the country, or the World President or if my ponzi scheme doesn't take off, or you know, no one takes me seriously as Nirmala Baby or Sai Baby, I should have a Plan B.

Plan B has been to declare myself as God.  And why not? I mean, I am just like God, I work in mysterious ways too. 

And like every God, I too deserve a festival of my own.  What better to celebrate than my own birth?

So in a few weeks' time, as I turn a year older and a year wiser, I'm going to declare it as a universal festival.

4th February shall be known as - International Day of Awesomeness, or as we Indians would like to call it Nirwa Dashami.

I'm still working out the details on how to bring in the celebrations.  Never knew creating a new festival will be such hard work.

In the mean time, kindly give in your suggestions on how you all would want to celebrate my birthday.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Who is bad?

Kansa is bad. Why? Because he is bad.
The other day, my niece called me in the morning and told me she would like to see me when she gets home from school.  It is hard for me to say no, and even harder to say no to her.  So I went to my cousin's place just before she returned from school so I can play peek-a-boo with her.  [yeah, even though I say I will dance only if the script demands, when she asks me to dance, I cannot say no.]

Now, she also needed to nap, and she insisted she'll nap only if I nap with with and we tell each other stories.  From my own previous experience of telling story on demand, I have realised I suck at it.  I'm so bad with coming up with kiddy stories that I almost felt ashamed of myself.  I have more respect for nursery and kindergarten teachers because kids can ask a lot of questions, and I found myself at loss of answers for most of them.

So, it was story time.  She brought up her story book of Krishna (Kahnudo, as she fondly calls him) and was pointing at various pictures of Krishna.  At one page, she pointed at a picture of Kansa. Our conversation went something like this: (translated to Hindi from Gujarati)

She: Yeh Kansa hai, uspe gussa karu?
Me: Kyun gussa karna hai?
She: Kyunki woh bura hai.
Me: Woh bura kyun hai?
She: Kyunki woh bura hai.
Me: Lekin agar tum uspe gussa karogi, toh tum buri nahin banogi?
She: Na
Me: Kyun?
She: Kyunki woh bura hai.

She is 3.

In her mind, Kansa is bad.  And there is no reason.

She will grow up believing Kansa (or anyone else we've told her is bad) is a bad person without questioning our judgement.

Are we letting our prejudices, what is good and what is bad in our opinion influence other people's perception about people?

People tell me I am trusting.  My father refuses to accept that I can make a sane decision.  I ask what is wrong in being trusting? Isn't there too much negativity in the world already? Why do we have to question intentions of other people before we befriend them? Yes, so we all should be cautious, and I do not deny that, but why do we have to go with an assumption that the other person is bad?

Why are we so keen to let our own prejudices cloud other people's opinions?

Why wasn't that 3 year old told the story of Kansa as is and let her decide whether he was bad or not? Why do we have to teach morals we think are right? Why not keep things open to interpretation and let everyone draw their own conclusions?

And in my limited exposure to people, complete strangers, especially those who I have come to know through the medium of internet, most of them are fabulous people.  Most have turned out to be great friends. And having said that, I know there are creeps over the internet too.  But that doesn't mean I go about doubting anyone I come across.

I'd still like to believe there is more good than bad in the world.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The NRI season

Gujarat has 4 seasons. Summer (10 months), Monsoon (2 weeks and flooded), Winter (1 week) and NRI.

NRI season is native to Gujarat and brings with itself migratory humans, who have moved and settle in Ummerika, but visit India every year when the winters in Ummerika get too harsh.

Disclaimer: This is a compilation of observations over the years. And just some of them. There may or may not be part 2 depending on how much the current batch of NRIs have annoyed me.

How to spot an NRI?

They are easy to spot.  They will be almost always sporting shorts amidst pool of woolens because Gujarati winter is the peak of summer for them, even if the rest of Gujarat is experiencing cold wave. (my fingers have frozen as I type this and so has my nose)

They will also be the one wearing dhinchak shiny clothes because they can.  They are always dressed to party.  Oh, and they are usually here to get their sons or daughters married.

How to spot an NRI wedding?

That's easy too.  So basically, Gujarat has a ka-muhurat (inauspicious) time, sometime after 13/14 December to 14 January.  They say marriages should not take place during this time for reasons which are too long to be explained here.  Anyway, NRIs are hipsters and do not believe in this.  So, almost all the weddings that happen during this time, which coincides with the NRI arrival time, are NRI weddings. 

They will always be at posh banquet halls, but then, they will also complain how they are ripped apart by these halls.  Truth is, they think India is still pre1990s era.  They somehow think India is unaffected by inflation. And of course, because they have NRI tattooed on their forehead, they are charged more. 

Frankly, if I were to deal with their tantrums, I'd totally charge them double just to piss them off.

How do you know an NRI has an iPhone, iPad, an MBP and and iPod? 

He takes them along wherever he goes.  I have a feeling he Facetimes himself from his iPhone to his iPad, because he is so vain, but he takes them along and waits for the people from third world country to look awestruck with his gadgets.  Little does he know that no one really cares about that.

How does an NRI protect his property in India?

He uses camera.  He puts half a dozen camera in and around his house, and transfers live feed to his computer back in US so that he knows whenever someone enters his house.  Little does he know that within a week of his returning to US, a bunch of monkeys managed to mess up the internet connection wires such that the only way to fix them was to go to their terrace, and that cannot be done because the keys were in US with them, because they don't trust humans.  All in all, we had a good laugh because in last 8 months, more monkeys came and pooped all over the balcony and the outer walls. 

Sigh.  I could write longer on this, but I'll just get myself some nice warm tea with lots of ginger and curl up and read a book.