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 Niemöller 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


…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!


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


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...