Sunday, 23 February 2014

Religious Freedom

So Arizona passed the “Religious Freedom Restoration” bill. Of course, the LGBT community will be targeted using this law although Arizona does not have any laws to protect rights of LGBTs so I am not sure what this law is supposed to achieve. All the cases cited while discussion if this bill were from outside Arizona.

The law reads (in simple language):

The bill allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination.

If you ask me, this seems to be a preparation by Arizona’s bigoted government to counter any Federal law that may allow any LGBT rights. This bill may allow the good people of Arizona to continue to discriminate, if they so choose, even if the Federal law may grant equal rights to LGBTs (Note the use of the phrase ‘ regardless of whether the Government is a party to the proceeding’ in the text). Why would a government body passing such a bill will draft a bill that allows religious freedom to supersede their own power?

The bill, however, does not specifically mention one religion or a group that can be discriminated against which makes it even worse. What if my religion does not allow me to hire a woman as an employee because my religion dictates that woman are less intelligent than man? I can use my religious beliefs to defend me. Do I need to name all the religions that actually say so? What if a Muslim or a Christian service provider says that their religious beliefs does not allow them to serve Jews? Or, that Blacks can should not be allowed in White areas?

This law in its current form may be used in any circumstances. Note the use of phrase “State action means any action by the government or the implementation of any law”. Am not a lawyer but I am sure that’s not a good thing.

As far as I am concerned, this bill goes way beyond LGBT right violation. As Martin Niem├Âller said:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Juno…

…came out as gay! (Pardon my phrasing. I have this annoying habit of identifying/referring the actors and actresses with their screen/character names instead of their real names. I  can not remember their real names. If someone does refer them with their real name, I tend to stare blankly at them until they tell me the character they played in the movie I have seen)

I saw her speech this morning (thanks Joe!) and was quite impressed by it. If you haven’t, you must watch this video:

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Friday, 7 February 2014

Thank you , Google!

image

This made me smile today morning. With my FB wall filled up with messages where people are looking forward to Winter Olympics starting today, with articles regarding how beneficial it is to watch Olympics with your kids; this came out as a breeze of fresh air.

Most of the people have short term memories. If the issue doesn’t affect them, it doesn’t matter. They all are excited about Olympics and that has been bothering me for past 2-3 days. Thank you Google, for remembering us, for remembering the issue. A lot of institutes have been trying to keep reminding everyone of the issues (e.g. Canadian Institute for diversity and inclusion ad) but being the giant that you are, this puts the issue in the spot again. You are my hero today, Google! You are my hero.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Brown

So Satya Nadella had become the new CEO of Microsoft. My Facebook has exploded with congratulatory messages (BTW, who are they congratulating? Themselves, each other or Satya? Because I know for sure that he can't read their Facebook statuses so what's the point?) . As irritating as I find this, I kind of get the reason why everyone is so excited.

For years the boardroom of almost all of the western companies has been dominated by middle aged white man. To see a brown face amongst them gives us hope. Satya Nadella and Indra Nooyi gives us hope. Hope that if try hard, we may be able to reach our potential, whatever that may be. There will be no glass ceiling due to our skin colour or gender. I am not so sure what happens if you throw in sexuality into the mix.

Nevertheless, here is to hope. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Tell me why?

So I am preparing for UK car driving licence theory test. For past two weeks. The test is tomorrow. I am over-saturated with information at the moment. The worst are the national speed limits and those numbers that you need to remember. And worst of them all are the stopping distances. 

The thing that is bugging me is that if I am driving the car, I don't think my 3D perception is good enough to judge 24 car lengths(about 93 m overall stopping distance if you are travelling 70 mph). I know there is a 2 second gap rule which is much easier to follow then why, in the name of everything good, do I need to memorize this table?

Picture2(linked to its source)

and other information like this (e.g. you can only switch your fog lights when the visibility is reduced below 100 m. How am I supposed to judge that?).

And did you know that this stopping distance increases 10 times in case the road is icy? Do you know what that means? 240 car lengths or 960 m (almost 1 km) between two cars if they are travelling 70mph. I don't know about you but I don't think I can see a car a km away from me. I think I would have to keep a pair of binoculars in my car to do so. (Of course, I know I won't be driving 70 mph on an icy road. In fact, I don't think I will be driving at all. Am not a big fan of ice or snow. I like my winter without them.)

Anyway, wish me luck. Hopefully I pass my test tomorrow.

P.S.: On a side note, I think UK driving test is far more rigorous than US driving test and they provide a lot more information regarding road signs etc. than the US. I actually like that part. (I know I am a nerd.)

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Manners and Culture

My new year resolution has been put to the test this weekend. To explain how and whys of the story, I have to start from the beginning.

About two years ago, I moved to UK from US to be with GF. My first year in UK was, well as British will put it, not as good as I had hoped. In American English, we call it a disaster. It came to the point that we broke up for few days last year. One of the contributing factor to that was GF's friend circle. Well kind of. I think it is more the fact that I was born and raised in North India while she (and most of her friend circle) was born and raised in South India. I guess you can surmise where I am going with this.

We have quite different cultural background. We are not comfortable with each other's language (we converse in English). I did try learning Tamil in the first year of my residence in the UK but it didn't go too well. I, again, blame her friends for that. I have developed a mental block against the language and culture due to them.

For some reason, all her Tamil friends have at one point or the other have told me "Tamil is a great culture" whilst we were visiting them. However, during those visits, they all (GF included) continued to converse in their mother tongue while completely ignoring the fact that I do not understand them. I would be sitting in the corner of the room being completely ignored by all of them for an entire evening and then one of them claims that 'Tamil is a great culture'!

In the world I grew up in, a person's culture is judged by his/her manners and not just by its literature or art or even achievement of its people. And to be honest, I didn't think much of their manners or their hosting abilities. If a guest of mine had felt ignored or unwelcome in my house, I would have been called uncultured, ill-mannered person and rightly so (well, unless the guest is a complete ass and makes the life of the host difficult). To make a proclamation that my culture is great after such a behavior, is unthinkable for me.

Anyway, as part of our patch-up last year, I told my GF that I will not sit through such evenings any more. She can meet her friends when she so wishes but not to drag me along.

So this weekend, GF went to meet one such couple, D&S. I kind of like the wife, however, I can't tolerate the husband. Just to narrate one of the incident to give you the background: Once they were visiting us and I made Bhelpuri for the wife as she likes chaat. When we offered the husband some, he refused saying he does not eat junk food like this. He, as a matter of fact, gobbles up the bucket of fried chickens form KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and yet, homemade Bhelpuri is junk for him. He actually called my food as junk in my own house! So much for being cultured! Anyway, needless to say, I did not wish to meet them this weekend.

The wife, being the nice lady she is, inquired about me and asked if I am upset with her. She wants to call me and apologize but she doesn't know what to apologize for. I haven't visited them in a year now so she feels bad about it.

This, along with my new year resolution of keeping in touch with my friends and acquaintances, puts me into quite a dilemma. Good manners dictate that I should call her and talk to her but that may (actually, most probably) will end up being invited over to meet them which I really do not wish to do.

Dilemma, dilemma! Any pearls of wisdom from anyone out there?

PS: The problem of ignoring other people while amongst your compatriot is a universal one. I have experienced it with a lot of different cultures: desi and non-desi

I strongly believe that culture is a dynamic concept. It changes with each generation, with each mingling of different cultures. By clinging to it, we make it static which is not good for the well-being of the culture. At the end of the day, we need to remember culture is made by its people and not the other way around. Just my two cents...

Friday, 31 January 2014

Blogging Snob

So we are actively trying to get SIL married which, unfortunately, translates registering into numerous matrimony sites and trying to find a match. We, GF and I, actively screen the profiles and send the interesting ones her way. There are quite a few interesting characters out there but that is not the point of the post.

Past few days SIL has been talking to this particular guy who, apparently, blogs. Of course, I was interested in seeing his blog. So she sent the link across to me. I clicked on the link and up came the blog: Black background, white text with minimal template. My first reaction was: a newbie. You know, they are the ones that use minimal standard blogger template but apparently not. He has been blogging since 2008. He has on average about 20 posts per year since 2008. However, he has zero comments on any of his posts. He has absolutely no outgoing links on his blog.

Am I an absolute Blogging Snob to think that his blog isn't good?

Well, that's at least what I told myself and made my self read few of his posts. Well, let me put it this way: I know couple of teenagers who are more mature than him. His writing style needs a bit of logic and reason in it. Most of the times I think only he can understand what he is saying.

I am back to my original question: am I a Blogging Snob to judge him on his blogging style? He isn't too offensive (except for the post where he describes atheist being hypocrites and says that 'Science is real' is a childish argument!! Being a scientist and an atheist I find it quite offensive) just a bit annoying.

Being an avid blogger for 9 years (past year not withstanding. BTW, this is my third blog in past 9 years), I think I have a preconceived notion of what I consider a good or successful blog, or more to the point, who I consider a good blogger but at the end of the day, isn't blogging a bit more personal concept? People blog for various reasons. People like me (personal bloggers) blog to keep an online journal. A place to vent out their feelings. If that's an okay reason to blog then isn't this particular guy doing exactly the same. Even more so because he doesn't do it for an audience but for his own amusement/satisfaction. So, again, am I not passing judgement on a blog because it doesn't satisfy my definition of a good blog.

Blogging Snob?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Moody, busy or plain lazy?

I have been contemplating on this for past few days.

Starting of this year, like every year, I thought I will keep up with all my correspondence including Facebook comments, birthdays, text messages, emails, phone calls, blog comments (that is if I get any), blog posts etc. Well, needless to say, I didn't. And I have perfect excuse: my right hand has been hurting due to carpal tunnel syndrome since beginning of this year. Don't ask me how it stops me from making phone calls. It just does.

I think somewhere in my basic constitution, I have this reluctance to respond. And it just not the mood thing. Okay, its worse when I am depressed or feeling low but even when I am okay, I still am not the most forthcoming person. Although as a young adult, I was quite forthcoming than I have been in my recent years. Okay, I was never an extrovert but I did organize the social events, I wished people on their birthdays, responded to the emails. I am not sure what changed.

Anyway, so back to this year's resolution: I will try to be a bit more social. I will keep in constant touch with my acquaintances and especially my friends. At least I will try.

Next thing on this year's agenda is getting my UK driver's licence. Actually this one is from last year's resolution. I couldn't achieve this one due to variety of reasons although I did try. Hopefully I will be able to get my driver's licence sorted this year.

I think two is a reasonable number for new year's resolution. No point making several and not keeping any. There are quite a few things more that I will like to do for example exercise regularly, take more photos, go around London etc. but these are in my secondary list. If I can successfully work on the two task in hand, I will think about the secondary list later.

That's all from me today. Hope you guys had a good break. Till next time..


Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Goodbye...

My dear old friend 2013, adieus. You have been very kind to me.

Our time together started with quite a bad foot. Things became worse as the first few months passed by. I almost broke up with my girlfriend. Work was crazy (I worked weekends and holidays!). I got vaccinated to go to Africa which translated to being sick for 1.5 months (no, I do not react well to chemicals being injected into my body). But life (as well as the weather) improved in later part of year in almost all aspect. I got two better job offers. Even though I decided not to join either of them but it was comforting to know that I can get an offer if I so wish. A real confidence booster. 

So in all, dearest 2013, you have been good to me. You are definitely leaving me in much better state than you found me, so I thank you for your kindness and bid you goodbye. You will be remembered fondly in the years to come...

P.S.: This post was written in end days of 2013 but couldn't be posted due connectivity problems.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Catching up

It's been a while since I logged in here. Unfortunately, I am flying to India tonight for a month so will not be updating the blog for another month. Just a few random things I would like to say before I disappear again.

- This blog completed a year this week. 35 posts, 46 comments, 7 followers in past one year. Thanks everyone who read and posted comments here. I am hoping to be a bit regular in my blogging in coming year but I ain't promising it.

- I can rant about this one forever but all I am going to say, I expected better from the Supreme court of India.

- As I said, I am going to India tonight. I will, for first time in my life, visit Agra to check off Taj Mahal from my list of places to see. I am frankly excited and have been wondering why I haven't done it so far.

- Lastly, just want to wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all of you.

Until, next time...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Out with Dad

So far, I have lived in four different countries, Canada being one of them. I found Canada to be the friendliest country and much easier to adapt. I got addicted to few Canadian TV series (yes, they do have them) and continued to follow them long after I left Canada.

'Out with Dad' is a Canadian web series (award winning, I must add) about a lesbian teenager and her daily struggles. She has a very supportive (and very sweet) dad who supports her. They are currently struggling to make the season three of the series.

I understand donation and charity is not a big thing in India so I make you a deal. Watch the first two seasons of the series and if, after that,  you aren't dying to know what happens next (if Vanessa and Rose will ever be together?), well don't watch the third season.

Either way give this series a chance. I bet you are gonna love it.

Out with Dad Season 1

Out with Dad Season 2

Friday, 11 October 2013

Nico de Angelo

SPOILER ALERT

Okay, I admit it. I have been following the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series quite ardently. If you are unfamiliar with the series, it is young adult book series based on Greek and Roman mythologies. Having said that, I should assure you that the tween romances in these books aren't as insufferable as, for example, in the Twilight saga. Also, and this is important statement for the later part of the post, the sexual content has been kept to minimum (kissing, hugging and cuddling).

Anyway, so point of the post is the latest book in the Heroes of Olympus series, House of Hades, that came out this week and along with the book came out the Nico de Angelo, the son of Hades, as gay.

Okay, let me give some background to the story for the uninitiated:

Percy Jackson is son of Poseidon, the god of sea (remember Greek Mythologies?) and lives in Manhattan. Well, essentially, the series is based on the fact that Greek/Roman gods are alive and kicking in the modern world (well they are immortal) and move wherever the heart of Western civilization is, which is currently in USA (despite the shut down). They apparently have affairs with mortals and have kids who are demi-gods. The series revolves around the demigods and their fights with various monsters, Titans and now Giants.

So going back to Percy Jackson, who is one of the central character of the books, is son of Poseidon. Annabeth Chase, his girlfriend is daughter of Athena, the Wisdom godess. They got together towards the end of the Percy Jackson Series (I cheered for them at that point).

In comes Nico de Angelo, the son of Hades. Nico was introduced as a bubbly child with never ending questions, in the Percy Jackson series but he later morphed into a broody teenager, an oddball. He ran away from the camp (yes, they live in demigod camp) and found his own way. In the latest book, he confessed, to Cupid, no less, that he have a crush on Percy Jackson.

‘I had a crush on Percy,’ Nico spat. ‘That’s the truth. That’s the big secret.’ He glared at Cupid. ‘Happy now?’

After reading the book, I had to scour the internet for people's reaction (I knew there would be some hate going around), and to my surprise it hasn't been that bad so far (may be it will gain momentum later on).

The US amazon site had few people complaining about how there should be an adult theme warning on the book for the confession above. Seriously! They are okay with heterosexual kissing, hugging etc. but if someone as much as confesses as having a homosexual crush, it becomes an adult theme? But I was happy to see that about 175 out of 200 reviews were positive and most of them are rooting for Nico like me. Should I dare say that change might be in the air?

Finally, kudos to Rick Riordan for being bold (bolder than J.K. Rowling, I must add) to confront the issue and hope you will give a happy ending to Nico. Please don't let people with such view points win (one of the amazon reviewer):

The big problem is Riordan's decision to make Nico gay (or at least crush on Percy). Very inappropriate for a middle school book. Riordan blew it there. Doesn't he know his audience? It would have been ok if he had not made Jason think it was all ok. It's not ok. The lifestyle is anything but "gay." High rates of suicide and depression, mortal diseases, spiritual death. I know. I was in the arts, had a lot of friends, saw a lot of things up close. I guess in that sense, his choice of Nico is spot on.

Please give Nico a happy ending.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Rant on Rent

Warning: I am in a very foul mood.

So I am trying to move to one bedroom apartment from my shared accommodation due to worsening situation with flatmates. And we found one (Girlfriend is helping, of course). At £875 pcm, unfurnished apartment near the underground station. We showed interest to the agent. He took about 3-4 days to come back with an increased price of £925pcm. As I said, we liked it so we (rather I, Girlfriend didn't like the change in rent) went ahead.

I had to transfer £150 to reserve the apartment yesterday. However, before that I asked them about all the other costs associated with the rental agreement and the Agent told me this break down: £150 reservation fee that will go towards my first month rent (which is to be given in advance) and 6 weeks rent as deposit. I again asked him and this time very specifically about his company's charges in this transaction and he said that its £220, and I would be paying £150 out of it when I transfer the reservation fee (which means only £70 needs to be  paid after that)

After this conversation, I sent him an email summarizing this conversation and asking him to confirm this. He sent an email back saying that he will send me the complete breakdown of the invoice next morning and I should transfer the reservation fee. I replied saying that I would do that after I get the invoice.

So today morning, I waited and waited for the invoice to show up in my mail. But it never showed up. I mailed him and called him with no avail so I left messages. Finally, at 5 o'clock today evening he sends me the invoice. The break down of the invoice shows that I have to pay £304 after paying £150 as reservation fee. And of course, the agent completely changed his story since last evening's conversation.

Out of this £304, £200 is the charge for reference check per tenant. I asked the agent if I can have a second set of keys since I am planning to get my mom here for 1-2 months. He tells me that he would have to perform a reference check on my mom since she will be staying for so long (which means £200 charge more).

And that's when I completely lost it.

I do not loose my cool so easily but this Agent has managed to push me there. Does renting the house with this agency means I can't have guests? Would he like to perform a reference check on my entire family and friends who might visit me and may stay for more than a week. How about my partner? Suppose I am dating someone and in time would like to give him/her a set of keys? Does he want to do a credit check on any one I might date in next few months? Is that the condition of tenancy?

I have decided that I do not want to rent that house.

I understand that most of the real estate agents are quite similar and I have dealt with them in past. But none of them give the creeps like this guy does. Every word he speaks is a lie. He goes back on his word. And all this is before I have given any money.

I have already given notice to vacate for my current room and would need to move in a month's time. Hopefully, something else might turn up.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ellen DeGeneres...

...is my favourite stand up comedian. And trust me, its not because she is gay or because she is considered to be a role model, an icon for gays and lesbian.

I simply love her style of comedy. Unlike most of the stand-up comedians around the globe, she does not use swear words, foul language or potty humour to make her stand-up act funny. She has a very clean act.

The difference between her comedy and most of the other bunch is same as the difference between 'Dil Chata Hai' type comedy versus Govinda type comedy. I can't stand the Govinda type comedy same way I can't stand most of the stand-up comedians. Ellen is an exception.

I found this gem while scouring through internet and thought of sharing it here. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do...

 

Friday, 23 August 2013

And yet another one...

I was just reading the story of a photojournalist rape in Mumbai and yet another outrage in India. It is  a horrible news article, however it did cheer me up a bit. The thing that cheered me up about this whole affair was the prompt actions of doctor and then police followed by public outrage.

There has not been any victim blaming. Yet. I understand there will be more than one person who will question the victims character and her presence in the isolated mill. But it hasn't happened yet.

The way NDTV has reported it, and I quote:
The Shakti Mills compound is isolated, but it is in the middle of Mumbai. It is close to the crowded Mahalakshmi station and has a busy road just 50 metres away. At 6.30 in the evening, there was still daylight. 
I like the tone of this report. Rest of them are not this supportive, however, they have managed to keep the victim blaming out of the picture. For now.

Is this the start of the change we have been hoping for? Fingers crossed...