Sunday, March 24, 2013

The curious case of Sanjay Dutt

The esteemed film actor who has had multiple life’s in movies and one of the few actors who can claim to have hits in Indian cinema in almost every decade since the 80s.

The recent supreme court verdict that said he has to spend about 3 and half years in jail has let some media and people uproar. There are people on both sides of the story with his cine friends and fans saying he should be pardoned while the other intellectual community saying, he deserves more tougher punishment and should suffer the same as others involved in the case.

When the verdict came out, I was on the side of the intellectuals and was thinking he deserved more but reading this lengthy article on Tehelka made me re-remember the 80s and the 90s one more time. It was the time when our cine stars like Anil Kapoor used to watch cricket match with Dawood Ibrahim, it was the time when the underworld used to finance most of the Hindi movies, it was the time when our A-class cine actresses used to perform shows for the underworld dons in Dubai and other places. It was time before the economy was opened up. It was a time when it was fashionable to pose with underworld dons and share drinks with them. In short, the nexus between Bollywood and underworld was real tight. Needless to say most of these came about right after the blasts of 1993 and before that it was all hunky-dory.

What I said above is the history, now to the facts. Sunil Dutt (Sanjay’s father) was hated for doing relief work for the Muslim community (we know who they were). If the Tehelka article is to be believed Sunil Dutt’s own party members distanced him.  The family was getting threatening calls. Now the choice came about, should the junior Dutt have trusted the Indian police to protect himself an the family against a mob attack or try and do something on his own. He went the other way on his own. His possession of assault rifles and grenades made me think he is off to a war or something but that is a useful way to protect against a mob attack (assuming he knew how to use it).

Another problem is the case has run for nearly 20 years and as the saying goes “justice delayed is justice denied”. It is kind of weird to impose a sentence on a crime like this (charge of possessing and destroying an assault rifle, never fired or killed anybody) that was committed 20 years ago, they could have let all the people off with fines and community services. Another problem with this long gap is it removes an entire generation that lived the times and understood what it was like and adds a generation that has no understanding of the whole issue in hand.

All the above said, I am not advocating that anybody should be above the law. My points of view are only for this case.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Catalog choice

Catalog choice - The best tool out there to stop the spam from coming to the mailbox (not the email but the land mail).

Our mailbox used to get so much junk and unwanted mails that once when we were out of town for a week, the mail lady stopped delivering the mails to our mail box and started with holding all our mails and parcels at the post office. I even lost the note that said our mails are being withheld and began to think that some how my mail is getting stolen. Then a short trip to the post office and the good lady delivered me a big basket full of mail and said “your mail box was overflowing and hence I stopped delivering”. After weeding through all the junk mail, I finally ended up with the 10% of the actual mail that I was interested in.    

At around this time a good friend of mine introduced me to Catalog choice, as the website says – it works on reducing junk mails to your mailbox. The registration process is pretty straight forward and in my experience it really works. For ex: I used to get a bundle of junk mails from company called Red-Plum (they bundle every possible thing from CVS to HEB to Walmart to Papa Johns and so on) and it is always addressed to resident and once I added this to catalog choice, I have stopped receiving mails from them. Now, I don’t have to check my mail every few days and can go up to a week easily without my mailbox overflowing.

Give it a try, it is good for you and the environment and best of all, it works.  

Mahashivaratri at the Austin Hindu Temple

Thanks to my daughter and my wife, for the first time in over a decade of my life in USA I managed to get to a temple on the day of Shivaratri and I am glad I did.

For the few hours I spent in the temple, I was impressed by the way the festival was celebrated at the Austin hindu temple, they had abisheka pooja every hour starting at 5:00PM going on till midnight or later (not sure) and were also providing milk to people to pour on the Shiva Linga. On the food front they were providing prasada pretty much through the night. Considering most of it is run by volunteers, it was a pretty well run show. Keep in mind, unlike other festivals where there is a concentrated time in which the temple usually gets a bulk of its visitors, this festival is a marathon process. 

Usually I will be the last person to pour milk on a shiva linga (essentially a black stone) but this time around I stood in line and participated in the process. It was a unique experience, for the time I was pouring milk, my mind was pretty still and thoughtless. One can call it a few moments of meditation. To an extent it made me understand the meaning behind some of the rituals and ceremonies.    

Another laudable effort by the temple committee is to draft a calendar that is applicable to Austin (USA) region. They still have these calendars, in case you want it.

Looking back nearly a decade ago when one of the founding members had called some of us for a meeting to talk about a hindu temple in Austin, I had snubbed him off but now I am glad they built this place of worship.