Cough and Cold and Corona

You will not have corona only once. You will have corona many a times in your life
Corona may have come and gone in your life with you not even knowing
You technically don’t have corona if you don’t test for it
And if you test, you may suffer from perpetual corona
Vaccination is no guard against you carrying corona
If you have unexplained back pain, chances are you are carrying corona
If you are carrying corona, it is not necessary that you will feel sick
Your in-born immunity is your greatest friend against corona
Vaccination will help your immunity if your immunity can help you
Corona is intelligent and knows its virulence kills its vehicle, so it is toning down
Gradually the world will settle down with corona, just like cough and cold

If you die out of the blue, that shall be corona. So, choose to die by a better Corona.

Reinstating Hitler

Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain during World War 2, had read and reread Hitler’s Autobiography Mein Kamph several times to know his thoughts. Several politicians who were peer of Churchill were pacifist and rooted for alliance and treaty with Hitler. Churchill remained adamant and bet on Hitler to renege on every agreement. Churchill’s bet paid off.

Both Churchill and Hitler had one thing in common. They wrote about themselves. Hitler did it once but Churchill was more prolific. Hitler wrote before the war. Churchill, before, during and after the war. They both had a sense of History and they both lived by it – quite literally.

Books on historical figures drive the readers to take sides. So, Hitler is always the villain and Churchill is always the Hero. Together with these, Roosevelt and Stalin were also heroes. Later Stalin was degraded to the level of Hitler. History settled on 50/50.

As times passed, books did appear deriding Roosevelt and Churchill, and attempts at reinstating Stalin. Most were done by western writers. There has been no attempt to reinstate Hitler still. This does not mean, Hitler is “unreinstatable.” [perfectpullquote align=”left”]The passage of time will wear off the weight of History for the rethinking on Hitler to begin.[/perfectpullquote]

For one character to become a bane of History is too much an overestimation. There are already literatures and many reasons available which presaged the rise of such a character and such a war.

Reinstating Hitler does not mean cleaning him up. There are several books on Stalin which draw out the good, bad and worst of the man. These are not excuses, but patterns of life worth knowing.

Similarly, there are several things that happened in Hitler’s time which were pretty futuristic. Rocket technology for one. In fact, the Nazis, who were involved in rocketry which devastated Britain, were spared after the war and given jobs in the US to develop missiles which they did with lots of success. Also, nuclear technology, which Hitler was aware, but he never showed any taste for Mass destruction at scale. Jet engines which were later developed for supersonic flights had the genesis in Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

I believe, when Churchill read Mein Kamp he understood what he and the world was up against. For Mein Kamp is a difficult book but not all that bad. It is a rant at some places but pretty logical in some. People avoid mentioning it because they are afraid to be identified with it. But many times its necessary to read the mind of an adversary and gauge the potential of his thoughts.

Not only the book is important for the writer, but, also for the readers, to who the book is addressed. Hitler got visibility, first by burning the Parliament and then parleying his notoriety with a book – where he said what all he was going to do next and he got out of jail and followed all the bullet points of his book. Churchill was one of the very few who got him and knew the storm was coming – for he not only may have read the book but saw through the book, the circumstances created to give Hitler’s book a life.

It takes one to know one.

One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement.

~Winston Churchill, in his book Great Contemporaries

On Scammers and Schemers

It was towards the end of last century I was in Calcutta and a colleague called me on my 16 rupees incoming mobile and asked if she can use one of my free airline staff ticket to ferry her boyfriend. Very graciously, I said, Yes! It was illegal, and surely, we were all discovered and there were some inquiries etc.. Well, the story passed over my head.

Towards the end of my stay in Calcutta at the start of the new century, another colleague started pinging my pager. Yes, now I was on pager because that 16 rupees incoming mobile had drowned me in debt in the bottom of the Hooghly.

This “idiot type” chain-smoking colleague, the son of a philandering airline pilot, was adamant to invite me to “Scoop,” an idyllic ice-cream joint near an old Calcutta river. He said he had invited a couple of his colleagues, which later turned out to be mainly air-hostesses. I have interactive problems with girls as I’m more prone to deep isolated living. Nevertheless, his constant entreaties made me concede. Besides, I loved “Scoop,” particularly the scenic views surrounding it.

The evening came and went and I had scoops and double scoops and probably some more. After all, it’s not many times that anyone has given me a treat. Besides, a captain’s son could definitely afford the costly get together.

( Out of almost 30 years of me paying for others drinks and dinner, there has been only one colleague who treated me and insisted of paying the big bill each time. Ironically, he is a much reviled, Sindhi.)

Towards the end of the junket, the “idiot-type” chain-smoking colleague pulled me aside, to the far end of the crowd and whispered, in a very polite and gentle manner, that – unfortunately he has got only 100 rupees but the bill is some 3000 odd rupees. I, being an enthusiastic double idiot, definitely paid. But the credit of the outing with the girls was all his. It took me some time to realise that I was set up – hoodwinked by someone who everybody in the workplace considered an idiot.

Recently in my blog (here) I have written about an ongoing scam done by Indians, which even found space in the New York Times (here). Most of the scammers hitting America are sitting in Calcutta, Salt Late. I had lived and schooled in Calcutta and learnt swimming at Bidhan Nagar Swimming Association, Salt Lake. The scam done from the same city and same place is like my house raided.

Also, it brought back many memories of me being scammed in the same city.

Nearing Y2K a strange colleague joined our workplace. At that time most of us were young with some lots of hair on our heads. But this guy wore a wig. And, later he “wigged” me too.

This is how it happened.

The new “wigged” colleague was a scam-master. He spoke on the phone to people in multiple voices. He had solutions to everything. He found out the needs of people and the company and he fulfilled it. He had the energies. If the company needed a transport organization to ferry airline crew, he created it. Got some ramshackle cars from here and there and got a company going. I needed a bed, he got me. I needed a TV. He got me. And yes, I did pay pretty high.

As these were happening, another colleague sold me his old Maruti 800 for 1.15 Lakhs. That 1988 model jalopy was sick and repair-ridden. But it did some tricks which I was unaware of that time. My car, my 16 rupees incoming mobile and my job, which was rated high at that time, along with my big spending, was my status symbol in Calcutta. Girls of the workplace fell for me. Two of them were daughters of big shot airline pilots. One of them indirectly proposed to me. But I knew my reality.

Oh! how I wish I would have been a scamster. Today I would be flying the big jets.

Instead, I’m still single and scam-prone. But anyway, there is more to the story.

One day in a fit of alcohol I drove my car atop a road-divider. The ensuing fuel leak made me abandon the car on the side of the road near Science-City, Calcutta.

Who do you think will help? Yes, the Wig colleague.

But, he did not give it for repairs. Instead, he pawned my car to a car mechanic with who he was indebted to and expected me to clear his debt. As I came to know later, the “Wig” had scammed many and owed lots of money. Days passed without me getting the car back. Finally he was forced to take me to the spot where my car was and I came to know the bother. The mechanic refused to release the car till he was paid what money he gave to the “Wig.” I don’t remember clearing any debt but I did pay for the repairs and finally got my car out.

Things which reach a boil has to finally settle down or spill over. If corrections don’t come via growth of sense, they come via onset of bad finances.

For me, it was the latter. I’m allergic to some food, dust and good sense. The old car for which I had shelled out over a lakh, I sold it back to the same person for a pittance – rupees 10,000. Today, when I look back, I see that, had I invested another lakh, which I had, I could have got a brand new car.

But, alcohol and bad sense do not beget new cars. It gets you overpriced old cars and two cows, one is behind the wheels. The other cow story I leave for another day.

Scams are not only what others do it to you, but more of what you do it to yourself.

Wild Tales – Amazon prime

This 2 hour movie is 6 distinct stories. The first story begins even before the starting credits and immediately grabs the interest for the novelty of its plot. The remaining 5 will not disappoint too.

It’s Spanish subtitled in English. The meter of spoken Spanish is fast and may distract the listener from watching the subtitles to read, but a bit of assertive focus by the viewer will help the read.

The production value of each of the stories is very high. The pace of the screenplay does not falter in all 6 of the stories. The picturization and music supports the screenplay. Some of the background music is very catchy and I used the app Shazam to capture it. And finally, if so much of the movie is good, can acting be far behind.

Spoiler alert – The movie endings are abrupt and cathartic.

Vivekananda – Action Monk

A cartoon was recently posted in The Print, a shot of that is posted here:

The words of Vivekananda, in the cartoon above, is an understatement. If Indians today, particularly those nationalistic kind, happen to read Vivekananda and understand his views on India and Hindus, they will not like it one bit and may campaign to rub out all SV Roads in India.

Vivekananda’s views on Hindus are pretty contemptuous, if not insulting. The only redeeming factor is, he labored throughout his life to get the “Hindus up to speed.” And he has written about his plans in his innumerable letters.

He considered Hindus to be misers, imbeciles, selfish, and a waste.

He said, “Don’t-Touchism” is the true religion of India and not “Hinduism.”

After reading his two compilations of letters, “Vivekananda on Himself” and “Letters of Vivekananda” I have come to refer Vivekananda as the “Action Monk.” If Vivekananda wouldn’t have been a monk, he would have definitely been an entrepreneur of some sort.

Many of Vivekananda’s letters are fire, and vile and bile on the state of Hindus and the Hindu religion and practices. It’s a wonder that most of those letters are still available and in print. Had he wrote that today, he would have been Trolled out of India.

Besides the virulent nature of his writings in personal letters, there is also equivalent nature of compassion and an absolute trust in the “True Hindu” religion. But the aspect of religion were only reserved for the West and the well-fed. For India, he got people to go out across the country for education. His “First Principal” was to get people out of “Indolence” and into “Activity.”

Also, what one gets from his letters are his plans to develop a network of influences and to set up offices, establishments and institutions everywhere to forward his ideas. He displayed one key trait of an entrepreneur – his ability to raise funds.

His networking with rich and the powerful, and mostly ladies of America, (and UK) also got him lots of support and disciples, many of them followed him back to India and also managed his “Ashrams” and offices in India as well as abroad.

Vivekananda came into prominence on 11th Sep 1893, with his speech in Chicago. He did not waste this instant popularity and parleyed his newfound visibility into gaining further contacts and influences with the rich and the powerful and the benevolent. For the next 7 years it was nonstop networking and fundraising. Out of his busy schedule he also found time to write several books. He made known his intention for writing a book in a letter saying – he should not leave the US without leaving behind some “documentation.”

Vivekananda was obsessed with “failed state of Hindus” and his plans were to galvanise the “dead mass of Indians” into action. In this he showed absolute confidence.

Vivekananda died in 1902, just short of 40. His “kickass” manner may have worked because the new century gave birth to new leaders in India and a new kind of activism. Vivekananda says several times in his letters, referring Indians as great misers who never gave money for anything constructive. But when Mahatma Gandhi arrives in India from South Africa on January 1914 he found a different India. Every one of Gandhi’s prayer meetings were also fund raisers and Gandhi was never short of funds.

The Action Monk may have done his magic.

Vivekananda scope was huge. He bought Hills and acres of land, in India and abroad, to setup his “Math.” One of them is in Kolkatta – Belur Math – my favorite place.

Links to Reading materials, PDFs and Links
Download “Vivekananda on Himself” HERE
Download “Letters of Vivekananda” HERE
Access “All Volumes on Vivekananda” HERE
Link of “Vivekananda Speech in World Parliament of Religion 11th Sep 1893” HERE

On Privacy and Surveillance-05, some random thoughts.

Ah! A period of lesser surveillance. Or whatever is known as sneaking. Breach of privacy may not actually result in actual breach but it can also mean “threating to breach.” Or, lives likely to be noticed and then discussed among others, which does not include the self. A breach of privacy may not be any actual breach at all but it may even mean manufactured stories, concocted tales, repeating enough times to denigrate an individual or groups, societies.

But privacy breach cannot be avoided. People will talk. Humans are curious. If folks know you then they cannot not know you. The reality is, the onus of one’s safety is on oneself.

It would be best not have a personality which is fodder for wild gossips and eventual denigration. For people would love to denigrate because that is how they assert. That’s the lingo. Everyone does it. Even me.

But wisdom entails not falling victim to it.

Life does not make everyone a rock-star. Rock-Stars are privileged to live their lives openly. Ordinary individuals should dress their behavior and their lives properly. Curtains go up and down only for actors. Spotlights are for actors. Ordinary people are spectators, audiences, on-lookers. The ordinaries should love the curtains and detest spotlights.

When one is walking in the jungle (of life) it’s wise to keep one’s mouth shut and the steps tentative, to not alert the predators (the people, which includes the self).

That ‘… the Meek shall inherit the earth’ has to be lived and failed to be believed.

Scammed!

It’s 8 o’clock on this Christmas day, and I’ve spent the whole night non-stop watching a YouTube Channel. It’s on scams and most of the scammers are Indians. They operate from Kolkatta, Pune, Amritsar and hit targets in the US. The victims are old and the gullible.

What’s horrendous are the scammers put-on American accent which any Indian can catch as very Indian. As calls are going through, one can overhear in the background sometimes, those Hindi “Madarchods” (Mother Fuckers). Invariably, when their bluff is called, the conversation ends with a series of Madarchods.

Scammers have short term interests and they are low on compunction. There was a conversation where a scammer was asked – How do you sleep in the night? Don’t you have any shame? Well, this question is a waste. How does this questions help those who have lost their money, even when some random scammer may have lost sleep or is shameful?

The profession of scams is probably as old as prostitution. In life, even if everything goes well, one is likely to get scammed at least once in his lifetime. Howsoever clever you are, there is always one better in the market. And, howsoever dumb we are, we always search for a greater fool. And we find one. Life is the best broker.

There is a saying – You can’t con an honest person. But the modus-operandi of scammers in this case is the testimony to the honesty, goodness and helpfulness of scammed.

The Morning Show, Apple TV

Honestly, I was not waiting for the second season of The Morning Show. Because when the first show ended, it pretty much achieved what a good show should achieve and that is – a tight script, a near seamless flow of the story and a cathartic and valid ending.

The Morning Show, season one, achieved the status of a successful mini series. But the second season which is now ongoing on Apple TV is bent upon destroying that stature. The first two episodes of the second season showed the shapes of things to come. There is no motivation, no drive.

It’s amazing to see that those very same actors who were the life of the First Season are like dried dead bodies in the second.

This shows that the story and direction matters. But first the story. There has to be some meat in the plot for actors to enact and the directors to supervise. If what is on paper is a limp all that shows on the screen will be a limp. The Morning Show, Second Season, looks like a show which is hunting for some crisis – and it found so many tid-bits of it, that now it doesn’t matter.

I’ll still motivate anyone to check out the First Season of The Morning Show on Apple TV. Those 10 Episodes are exceptional in many respects – Story, Plot, Direction, Production and Acting.

It’s a story of Characters “employed” by a Prime Time News and how friendships and comraderies and the cookies crumble, the underlying motivations of several lead characters and their grey shades make them do things and their doings results in fatal fallouts elsewhere. Also, treatment of the subject matter in question, mostly derived out of the #metoo movement.

I would have been happy if they had left The Morning Show the way it is. But even if the Second Season is a spoiler, the First Season Stands on its own. It’s a complete story.

“The Morning Show” is backend operations, where what what great work you do today is irrelevant tomorrow.

On Privacy and Surveillance-05

These days there is a new watchman manning our society gate. And he is not interested in me. Well, not yet!

The New Watchman sits on the seat looking out, towards the gate and not my window, unlike the earlier watchman whose eyes never leaves my window. Probably, the new guy is not briefed about me. The Watchman who is mainly entrusted with the task of my surveillance is missing – on leave, I assume.

This makes my life easier. At least for a couple of days I can stand by the window and gaze the sky, without being gawked at nonstop. As one can guess, if someone starts watching you non-stop and periodically, it gets on your nerves. In India, one can’t do much about it. Probably, if I were in any western country, I would have called 911 or some such number and reported this behavior. In India, I might have to wait another decade or so, for that kind of facility. But, the question remains, will Indians ever get unto that kind of sensitivity with respect to privacy? My assumptions is – never.

There are no safeguards in India, if “someone turns someone’s head.” Sexual Harassments have a structure of reporting. What about Privacy Harassments? I’m not pointing towards any breach of Privacy. I’m a step ahead. I’m pointing towards outright, blatant harassment.

While working in my last company, the key people in the department came to know one day, that there is a “head” that exits near my house, whose “turning” can give them information on me. It took them just a couple of days to “recruit” and they got a “Turned Head” – a live CCTV pointing towards my house. How I know this? Let me show you how —

Shortly after the “installation of Live CCTV,” one day, as I was leaving the society gates for my evening walks, there appeared a loud call from the rear. Standing on the far end of the society compound was the “Turned Head.” And he shouted at the top of his voice – Neeraj Sir! Ambience! with repeated signs of an inverted thumb pointing towards his mouth. The cry was at the top of his voice with all evening goers of the society present. And also children who had stopped playing to watch the circus.

For people who don’t know, Ambience is a Bar nearby my house where I spent half my life snorkeling. It’s also a bar where I took all my friends to drink and paid all those through my nose. It’s also a place where people send there informers to snoop on me. It’s also a place I’m expected to be. My identification with “Ambience” reached such an extent that people mailed parcels to Ambience for me to receive.

The cry of “Ambience” which rang through my society that day signified many things. One, that people of position in the company can “recruit” a subordinate, a new guy with just few years in the company, and tell him everything about me, immediately upon knowing his location proximity to me. That’s a contemptuous attitude and this should have alerted me from my any future associations with them.

I had never had any relationship, social or otherwise with the “Turned Head.” In fact, I don’t have any social relationship with anyone in my society. It’s just Hai-Bye. The fact that the “Turned Head” knew the information on me including my habits and my usual haunt can only be informed by people known to me and with whom I sat and drank.

The “turned Head” turned several heads that day and after I left the company, the “Turn” is still on. I marvel at the hard work and discipline of all the Khabaree (informers) of my last company. They are the best workers. Just imagine the application and hard work they put in to feed their handlers. On a Bell-Curve their KPI would always be at the top.

I’m waiting for the day when I actually meet or they call me, those former “Khabaree” colleagues. The first thing which I will generously propose is a good position and reward for the “Turned Head.”

The “Turned Head” is doing a really great job. Work-From-Home, None-the-Less.

My life has always been news worthy. Not because I’m some great Hoo-ha, but because of my quirks – eccentricities, whims, accidents, mannerism, together with “over-the-head” partying and merry-making. These made my space a den of news-worthy information which patrons then, trade with their higher ups for miniscule personal gains.

Well, there are big information flowing in the corporate world but big information is rare and difficult to get hold of. Social Climbers and ingratiators need Daily Talking Points. Question – Who will provide those Daily Talking Points? Answer – A Low Hanging Fruit. And I’m that Low Hanging Fruit.

You won’t believe this. A Prime Informer of my last company got Star Performer Employee Award just for trading personal and private information.

At the turn of this century, while processing papers to join the company, I was in Calcutta. There was a lady working in a department of the company (which I was to join) who did not know me at all, but sought me out anyways to warn me from joining the company. She told me, and this I clearly remember, that I was making a mistake and the company is a dirty place from where it would be difficult for me to get out, that the company was not fit for people like me. I dismissed those warnings.

It’s my habit to dismiss warnings.

Twenty Two years after that warning was given, today I remember that lady and the warning. I had indeed joined a company with toxic culture. I had made a mistake.

In my Calcutta company, even though there was (and is) politics and dirty games, but when I was in the process of leaving and even after I left, there were no bad feelings and rancor. But, the company which I joined, the start was itself virulent and malignant.

Had I been in the habit of heeding warnings, I would have quit sooner before the rot of the company set into me. For, within a year of my joining the new company in 2001, some quite good staff simply left. And before they left they had wondered why I had chosen to join “that” company and no other. For they knew the pestilence. And the venom.

Just like the movie “Nagin” and the proverbial Indian myth, the snakes of a defunct company, are still seeking me out to bite. They already have a “Turned Head” positioned on me and a turned head can always get many more turned heads. I wonder what the end-game is going to be.

There are angels who walk far to warn. If only they could open minds and help perceive.

Leylah vs Emma

I like these names. Leylah, as usual, is pretty familiar to Indian ears as it’s in stories and folklore and movies of India. And Emma is familiar to anyone who is familiar with Jane Austen. It’s one of those famous books which I haven’t read. Yet the name has a sweet tone.

Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu are both teenagers. Laylah just turned 19 and Emma will reach that figure in November this year. If age counts and if days and months count too, then this makes Emma younger and more potent on the court by few months. Both of them have defeated opponents who are not much old at all. Yet, during movements on the court and during long rallies, it’s very noticeable that the younger of the two have more reach, speed, and relentlessness, with no compromise on accuracy.

Emma Raducanu’s presence in the US Open 2021 has a history. Initially, she was not on the list of players. They called her in when the original participant, Jeļena Ostapenko, withdrew. But before getting her place in the first round, Raducanu had to go through a qualifier and in one of the three qualifiers, she defeated the experienced Mayar Sherif.

After defeating 4th seed Sharif in the qualifiers, the other seeded players she defeated were 11th seed Bencic, the Olympic 2020 Gold Medallist, in the quarterfinals and 11st seed Sakkari in the semifinals. Compared to Leylah, Raducanu has an easier ride to the finals, being pitched against lower ranked players.

Unlike Raducanu, Leylah played against higher ranked players. She defeated 3rd seed Osaka in the third round, after which Osaka seems to have quit tennis for the time being. Then she beat 16th seed Kerber, this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist, 5th seed Svitolina and finally, 2nd seed Sabalenka to reach the finals.

Till the eve of finals; Raducanu played 9 tournaments with total 18 sets and 18 wins. Leylah has played 6 tournaments with 16 sets and 12 wins. With quality and quantity head-to-head, Raducanu has more match and more wins, but Leylah has defeated higher ranked players.

If the intentions are good- statistics will tell a lot. But not without the usual clause, because life is uncertain. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns, in tennis or other-wise. Yet, one can gain judgment and perspective just by having some judgement and perspective to start with.

When Leylah walks on the court to face Raducanu in the finals of the US Open 2021, she will have several advantages in the game in which Raducanu is yet untested.

Leylah has shown something which the followers of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal may have noticed – the ability to raise the game whenever required. In most games, Leylah played three sets and faced tie breaks. If experience is anything in tennis (though many experienced players lose badly), then Leylah has that mental ability to get out of a hole and raise her game up a notch.

If Raducanu faces similar situations, will she be able to come back? That’s the question not known yet.

Raducanu is untested in either in comebacks after a set loss, and in three setters, and in tie break situations. One way to approach this is to consider that Raducanu may be a better player, that she has more skills and better technique, that she doesn’t get into sticky situations and shows her anticipation.

One would choose to be a Raducanu. Be lucky, at least to start with. She was at home when a phone-call notified a vacancy in the US Open. It may have been the world’s shortest time to say – Yes. Time and Talent met. Probably that’s called Dream-Run.

But one would love to see Leylah win. She has worked her way up with victories, defeats, and in one instance, against Kerber, a temporary debacle in the quality of her game. For people who show both their successes and failures and faults, the vulnerabilities, the benevolent majority always wish for their success.

I would love Leylah to win.