Pearls of Luthra, Dahaad, Tetris & Discord.

Pearls of Luthra

Pearls of Luthra is the first book by Brian Jacques and I think I am going to be a fan of his work. This particular book you have to be wary of. While it is a beautiful book with quite a few illustrations, I have to warn that if you are somebody who feels hungry at the very mention of food, then you will be hungry throughout the book. There isn’t a single page where food isn’t mentioned and not just any kind of food, the kind of food that is geared towards sweet tooth. So if you fancy tarts or chocolates or anything sweet you will right at home. The book also touches upon various teas and wines and various liquors but food is where it shines in literally. The tale is very much like a Harry Potter adventure but isn’t as dark as HP was. In fact, apart from one death and one ear missing rest of our heroes and heroines and there are quite a few. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s a book to be treasured.


Dahaad (the roar) is Sonakshi Sinha’s entry in OTT/Web Series. The stage is set somewhere in North India while the exploits are based on a real life person called Cyanide Mohan who killed 20 women between 2005-2009. In the web series however, the antagonist’s crimes are done over a period of 12 years and has 29 women as his victims. Apart from that it’s pretty much a copy of what was done by the person above. It’s a melting pot of a series which quite a few stories enmeshed along with the main one. The main onus and plot of the movie is about women from lower economic and caste order whose families want them to be wed but cannot due to huge demands for dowry. Now in such a situation, if a person were to give them a bit of attention, promise marriage and ask them to steal a bit and come with him and whatever, they will do it. The same modus operandi was done by Cynaide Mohan. He had a car that was not actually is but used it show off that he’s from a richer background, entice the women, have sex, promise marriage and in the morning after pill there will be cynaide which the women unwittingly will consume.

This is also framed by the protagonist Sonakshi Sinha to her mother as her mother is also forcing her to get married as she is becoming older. She shows some of the photographs of the victims and says that while the perpetrator is guilty but so is the overall society that puts women in such vulnerable positions. AFAIK, that is still the state of things. In fact, there is a series called ‘Indian Matchmaking‘ that has all the snobbishness that you want. How many people could have a lifestyle like the ones shown in that, less than 2% of the population. It’s actually shows like the above that make the whole thing even more precarious 😦

Apart from it, the show also shows prejudice about caste and background. I wouldn’t go much into it as it’s worth seeing and experiencing.


Tetris in many a ways is a story of greed. It’s also a story of a lone inventor who had to wait almost 20 odd years to profit from his invention. Forbes does a marvelous job of giving some more background and foreground info. about Tetris, the inventor and the producer that went to strike it rich. It also does share about copyright misrepresentation happens but does nothing to address it. Could talk a whole lot but better to see the movie and draw your own conclusions. For me it was 4/5.


Discord became Discord 2.0 and is a blank to me. A blank page. Can’t do anything. First I thought it was a bug. Waited for a few days as sometimes webservices do fix themselves. But two weeks on and it still wasn’t fixed then decided to look under. One of the tools in Firefox is Web Developer Tools ( CTRL+Shift+I) that tells you if an element of a page is not appearing or at least gives you a hint. To me it gave me the following –

Content Security Policy: Ignoring β€œ'unsafe-inline'” within script-src or style-src: nonce-source or hash-source specified
Content Security Policy: The page’s settings blocked the loading of a resource at data:text/css,%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%2… (β€œstyle-src”). data:44:30
Content Security Policy: Ignoring β€œ'unsafe-inline'” within script-src or style-src: nonce-source or hash-source specified
TypeError: AudioContext is not a constructor 138875 l

What is being done is dom.webaudio.enabled being disabled in Firefox.

Then on a hunch, searched on reddit and saw the following. Be careful while visiting the link as it’s labelled NSFW although to my mind there wasn’t anything remotely NSFW about it. They do mention using another tool ‘AudioContext Fingerprint Defender‘ which supposedly fakes or spoofs an id. As this add-on isn’t tracked by Firefox privacy team it’s hard for me to say anything positive or negative.

So, in the end I stopped using discord as the alternative was being tracked by them 😦

Last but not the least, saw this about a week back. Sooner or later this had to happen as Elon tries to make money off Twitter.

India Press freedom, Profiteering, AMD issues in the wild.

India Press Freedom

Just about a week back, India again slipped in the Freedom index, this time falling to 161 out of 180 countries. The RW again made lot of noise as they cannot fathom why it has been happening so. A recent news story gives some idea. Every year NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) puts out its statistics of crimes happening across the country. The report is in public domain. Now according to report shared, around 40k women from Gujarat alone disappeared in the last five years. This is a state where BJP has been ruling for the last 30 odd years. When this report became viral, almost all national newspapers the news was censored/blacked out. For e.g. check out, likewise TOI and other newspapers, the news has been 404. The only place that you can get that news is in minority papers like siasat. But the story didn’t remain till there. While the NCW (National Commission of Women) pointed out similar stuff happening in J&K, Gujarat Police claimed they got almost 39k women back. Now ideally, it should have been in NCRB data as an addendum as the report can be challenged. But as this news was made viral, nobody knows the truth or false in the above. What BJP has been doing is whenever they get questioned, they try to muddy the waters like that. And most of the time, such news doesn’t make to court so the party gets a freebie in a sort as they are not legally challenged. Even if somebody asks why didn’t Gujarat Police do it as NCRB report is jointly made with the help of all states, and especially with BJP both in Center and States, they cannot give any excuse. The only excuse you see or hear is whataboutism unfortunately 😦

Profiteering on I.T. Hardware

I was chatting with a friend yesterday who is an enthusiast like me but has been more alert about what has been happening in the CPU, motherboard, RAM world. I was simply shocked to hear the prices of motherboards which are three years old, even a middling motherboard. For e.g. the last time I bought a mobo, I spent about 6k but that was for an ATX motherboard. Most ITX motherboards usually sold for around INR 4k/- or even lower. I remember Via especially as their mobos were even cheaper around INR 1.5-2k/-. Even before pandemic, many motherboard manufacturers had closed down shop leaving only a few in the market. As only a few remained, prices started going higher. The pandemic turned it to a seller’s market overnight as most people were stuck at home and needed good rigs for either work or leisure or both. The manufacturers of CPU, motherboards, GPU’s, Powersupply (SMPS) named their prices and people bought it. So in 2023, high prices remained while warranty periods started coming down. Governments also upped customs and various other duties. So all are in hand in glove in the situation. So as shared before, what I have been offered is a 4 year motherboard with a CPU of that time. I haven’t bought it nor do I intend to in short-term future but extremely disappointed with the state of affairs 😦

AMD Issues

It’s just been couple of hard weeks apparently for AMD. The first has been the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) issue that was shown by couple of security researchers. From what is known, apparently with $200 worth of tools and with sometime you can hack into somebody machine if you have physical access. Ironically, MS made a huge show about TPM and also made it sort of a requirement if a person wanted to have Windows 11. I remember Matthew Garett sharing about TPM and issues with Lenovo laptops. While AMD has acknowledged the issue, its response has been somewhat wishy-washy. But this is not the only issue that has been plaguing AMD. There have been reports of AMD chips literally exploding and again AMD issuing a somewhat wishy-washy response. 😦 Asus though made some changes but is it for Zen4 or only 5 parts, not known. Most people are expecting a recession in I.T. hardware this year as well as next year due to high prices. No idea if things will change, if ever 😦

CAT-6, AMD 5600G, Dealerships closing down, TRAI-caller and privacy.

CAT-6 patch cord & ONU

Few months back I was offered a fibre service. Most of the service offering has been using Chinese infrastructure including the ONU (Optical Network Unit). Wikipedia doesn’t have a good page on ONU hence had to rely on third-party sites. FS (a name I don’t really know) has some (good basic info. on ONU and how it’s part and parcel of the whole infrastructure. I also got an ONT (Optical Network Terminal) but it seems to be very basic and mostly dumb. I used the old CAT-6 cable ( a decade old) to connect them and it worked for couple of months. Had to change it, first went to know if a higher cable solution offered themselves. CAT-7 is there but not backward compatible. CAT-8 is the next higher version but apparently it’s expensive and also not easily bought. I did quite a few tests on CAT-6 and the ONU and it conks out at best 1 mbps which is still far better than what I am used to. CAT-8 are either not available or simply too expensive for home applications atm. A good summary of CAT-8 and what they stand for can be found here. The networking part is hopeless as most consumer facing CPU’s and motherboards don’t even offer 10 mbps, so asking anything more is just overkill without any benefit. Which does bring me to the next question, something that I may do in a few months or a year down the road. Just to clarify they may say it is 100 mbps or even 1 Gbps but that’s plain wrong.

AMD APU, Asus Motherboard & Dealerships

I had been thinking of an AMD APU, could wait a while but sooner or later would have to get one. I got quoted an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G with an Asus A320 Motherboard for around 14k which kinda looked steep to me. Quite a few hardware dealers whom I had traded, consulted over years simply shut down. While there are new people, it’s much more harder now to make relationships (due to deafness) rather than before. The easiest to share which was also online was that had an Indian domain now no longer available. The number of offline brick and mortar PC business has also closed quite a bit. There are a few new ones but it takes time and the big guys have made more of a killing. I was shocked quite a bit. Came home and browsed a bit and was hit by this. Both AMD and Intel PC business has taken a beating. AMD a bit more as Intel still holds part of the business segment as traditionally been theirs. There have been proofs and allegations of bribing in the past (do remember the EU Antitrust case against Intel for monopoly) but Intel’s own cutting corners with the Spectre and Meltdown flaws hasn’t helped its case, nor the suits themselves. AMD on the other hand under expertise of Lisa Su has simply grown strength by strength. Inflation and Profiteering by other big companies has made the outlook for both AMD and Intel a bit lackluster. AMD is supposed to show Zen5 chips in a few days time and the rumor mill has been ongoing.

Correction – Not few days but 2025.

Personally, I would be happy with maybe a Ryzen 5600G with an Asus motherboard. My main motive whenever I buy an APU is not to hit beyond 65 TDP. It’s kinda middle of the road. As far as what I could read this year and next year we could have AM4+ or something like those updates, AM5 APU’s, CPU’s and boards are slated to be launched in 2025. I did see pcpricetracker and it does give idea of various APU prices although have to say pcpartpicker was much intuitive to work with than the above.

I just had my system cleaned couple of months so touchwood I should be able to use it for another couple of years or more before I have to get one of these APU’s and do hope they are worth it. My idea is to use that not only for testing various softwares but also delve a bit into VR if that’s possible. I did read a bit about deafness and VR as well. A good summary can be found here. I am hopeful that there may be few people in the community who may look and respond to that. It’s crucial.

TRAI-caller, Privacy 101& Element.

While most of us in Debian and FOSS communities do engage in privacy, lots of times it’s frustrating. I’m always looking for videos that seek to share that view why Privacy is needed by individuals and why Governments and other parties hate it. There are a couple of basic Youtube Videos that does explain the same quite practically.

Now why am I sharing the above. It isn’t that people do not privacy and how we hold it dear. I share it because GOI just today blocked Element. While it may be trivial for us to workaround the issues, it does tell what GOI is doing. And it still acts as if surprised why it’s press ranking is going to pits.

Even our Women Wrestlers have been protesting for a week to just file an FIR (First Information Report) . And these are women who have got medals for the country. More than half of these organizations, specifically the women wrestling team don’t have POSH which is a mandatory body supposed to be in every organization. POSH stands for Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace. The ‘gentleman’ concerned is a known rowdy/Goon hence it took almost a week of protest to do the needful 😦

I do try not to report because right now every other day we see somewhere or the other the Govt. curtailing our rights and most people are mute 😦

Signing out, till later 😦

John Grisham’s books, Evolution removed from textbooks

Gray Mountain – John Grisham

I have been perusing John Grisham’s books, some read and some re-read again. Almost all of the books that Mr. Grisham wrote are relevant even today. The Gray Mountain talks about how mountain top removal was done in Applachia, the U.S. (South). In fact NASA made a summary which either was borrowed from this book or the author borrowed from NASA, either could be true although seems it might be the former. And this is when GOI just made a new Forest ‘Conservation Bill’ 2023 which does the opposite. There are many examples of the same, the latest from my own city as an e.g. Vetal Tekdi is and was a haven for people animals, birds all kinds of ecosystem and is a vital lung of the city, one of the few remaining green spaces in the city but BJP wants to commercialize it as it has been doing for everything, I haven’t been to the Himalayas since 4-5 years back as I hear the rape of the land daily. Even after Joshimath tragedy, if people are not opening the eyes what can I do 😦 The more I say, the more depressed I will become so will leave it for now. In many ways the destruction seems similar to the destruction that happened in Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro. So as can be seen from what I have shared this book was mostly about environment and punitive damages and also how punitive damages have been ceiling in America (South). This was done via lobbying by the coal groups and apparently destroyed people’s lives, communities, even whole villages. It also shared how most people called black lung and how those claims had been denied by Coal Companies all the time. And there are hardly any unions. While the book itself is a fiction piece, there is a large amount of truth in it. And that is one of the reasons people write a fiction book. You could write about reality using fictional names and nobody can sue you while you set the reality as it is. In many ways, it is a tell-all.

The Testament – John Grisham

One of the things I have loved about John Grisham is he understands human condition. In this book it starts with an eccentric billionaire who makes a will which leaves all his property to an illegitimate child who coincidentally also lives in Brazil, she is a missionary. The whole book is about human failings as well as about finding the heir. I am not going to give much detail as the book itself is fun.

The Appeal – John Grisham

In this, we are introduced to a company that does a chemical spill for decades and how that leads to lobbying and funding Judicial elections. It does go into quite a bit of length how private money coming from Big business does all kind of shady things to get their person elected to the Supreme Court. Sadly, this seems to happen all the time, for e.g. two weeks ago. This piece from the Atlantic also says the same. Again, won’t tell as there is a bit of irony at the end of the book.

The Rainmaker – John Grisham

This in short is about how Insurance Companies stiff people. It’s a wonderful story that has all people in grey including our hero. An engaging book that sorta tells how the Insurance Industry plays the game. In India, the companies are safe as they ask for continuance for years together and their object is to delay the hearings till the grandchildren are not alive unlike in the U.S. or UK. It also does tell how more lawyers are there then required. Both of which are the same in my country.

The Litigators – John Grisham

This one is about Product Liability, both medicines as well as toys for young kids. What I do find funny a bit is how the law in States allows people to file cases but doesn’t protect people while in EU they try their best that if there is any controversy behind any medicine or product, they will simply ban it. Huge difference between the two cultures.

Evolution no longer part of Indian Education

A few days ago, NCERT (one of the major bodies) that looks into Indian Education due to BJP influence has removed Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. You can’t even debate because the people do not understand adaptability. So the only conclusion is that Man suddenly appeared out of nowhere. If that is so, then we are the true aliens. They discard the notion that we and Chimpanzees are similar. Then they also have to discard this finding that genetically we are 96% similar.

Philips LCD Monitor 22″, 1984, Reaper Man, The Firm.


Those who have been reading this blog for a long time would perhaps know that I had bought a Viewsonic 19″ almost 12 years ago. The Monitor was functioning well till last week. I had thought to change it to a 24″ monitor almost 3-4 years ago when 24″ LCD Monitors were going for around 4k/- or thereabouts. But the monitor kept on functioning and I didn’t have space (nor do) to have a dual-monitor setup. It just didn’t make sense. Apart from higher electricity charges it would have also have made more demands on my old system which somehow is still functioning even after all those years.

Then last week, it started to dim and after couple of days completely conked out. I had wanted to buy a new monitor in front of mum so she could watch movies or whatever but this was not to be. Sp I had to buy an LCD Monitor as Government raised taxes enormously after pandemic. Same/similar monitor that used to cost INR 4k/- today costed me almost INR 7k/- almost double the price. Hooking it to Debian I got the following –

$ sudo hwinfo --monitor | grep Model Model: "PHILIPS PHL 221S8L"

FWIW hwinfo is the latest version –

~$ sudo hwinfo --version21.82

I did see couple of movies before starting to write this blog post. Not an exceptional monitor but better than before. I had option from three brands, Dell (most expensive), Philips (middle) and & LG (lowest in prices). Interestingly, Viewsonic disappeared from the market about 5 years back and made a comeback just couple of years ago. Even Philips which had exited the PC Monitor almost a decade back re-entered the market. Apart from the branding, it doesn’t make much of a difference as almost all the products including the above monitors are produced in China. I did remember her a lot while buying the monitor as I’m sure she would have enjoyed it far more than me but that was not to be 😦


During last week when I didn’t have the monitor I re-read 1984. To be completely honest, I had read the above book when I was in the 20’s and I had no context. The protagonist seemed like a whiner and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why he didn’t try to escape. Re-reading after almost 2 decades and a bit more I shat a number of times because now the context is pretty near and pretty real. I can see why the Republicans in the U.S. banned it. I also realized why the protagnist didn’t attempt to run away because wherever he would run away it would be the same thing. It probably is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. To willfully accept what is false after all that torture.

What was also interesting to me is to find that George Orwell was also a soldier just like Tolkien was. Both took part and wrote such different stories. While Mr. Tolkien writes and shares the pendulum between hope and despair, Mr. Orwell is decidedly dark. Not grey but dark. I am not sure if I would like to read Animal Farm anytime soon.

The Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett

It is by sheer coincidence or perhaps I needed something to fill me up when I got The Reaper Man from Terry Pratchett. It was practically like a breath of fresh air. And I love Mr. Pratchett for the inclusivity he brings in. We think about skin color, and what not and here Mr. Pratchett writes about an undead gentleman who’s extremely polite as he was a wizard. I won’t talk more as I don’t really want to spoil the surprise but rest assured everybody is gonna love it. I also read Long Utopia but this is for those who believe and think of multiverses long before it became a buzzword that it is today.

The Firm – John Grisham

Now I don’t know what I should write about this book as there aren’t many John Grisham books where a rookie wins against more than one party opposite him. I wouldn’t go much into depth but simply say it was worth a read. I am currently reading Gray Mountain. It very much shows how the coal Industry is corrupt and what all it does. It also brings to mind the amount of mining that is done in which Iron is the mostly sought after and done. Now if we are mining 94% Iron then wouldn’t it make sense to ask to have a circular economy around Iron but we don’t even hear a word about it. Even with all the imagined projections of lithium mining, it would hardly be 10% .

I could go on but will finish for now, till later.

Three Ancient Civilizations, Tesla, IMU and other things.

Three Ancient Civilizations

I have been reading books for a long time but somehow I don’t know how or when I realized that there are three medieval civilizations that time and again seem to fascinate the authors, either American or European. The three civilizations that do get mentioned every now and then are Egyptian, Greece and Roman and I have no clue as to why. Another two civilizations closely follow them, Mesopotian and Sumerian Civilizations. Why most of the authors irrespective of genre are mystified by these 5 civilizations is beyond me but they also conjure lot of imagination. Now if I was on the right side of 40, maybe 22-25 onwards and had the means or the opportunity or both, I would have gone and tried to learn as much as I can about these various civilizations. There is still a lot of enigma attached and it seems that the official explanations of how these various civilizations ended seems too good to be true or whatever. One of the more interesting points has been how Greece mythology were subverted and flipped to make Roman mythology. Apparently, many Greek gods have a Roman ‘aspect’ and the qualities are opposite to the Greek aspect. I haven’t learned the reason why it is so, yet.

Apart from the Iziko Natural Museum in South Africa which did have its share of wonders (the whole South African experience was surreal) nowhere I have witnessed stuff from the above other than in Africa. The whole thing seemed just surreal. I could go on but as I don’t know what is real and what is mythology when it comes to various cultures including whatever little I experienced in Africa.

Recent History

Having said the above, I also find that many Indians somehow do not either know or are not interested in understanding recent history. I am talking of the time between 1800s and 1950’s. British apologist Mr. William Dalrymple in his book ‘Anarchy‘ has shared how the East Indian Company looted India and gave less than half back to the British. So where did the rest of the money go ? It basically went to the tax free havens around UK. That tale is very much similar as to how the Axis gold was used to have an entity called Switzerland from scratch. There have been books as well as couple of miniseries or two that document that fact. But for me this is not the real story, this is more of a side dish per-se.

The real story perhaps is how the EU peace project was born. Because of Hitler’s rise and the way World War 2 happened, the Allies knew that they couldn’t subjugate Germany through another humiliation as they had after World War 1, who knows another Hitler might come. So while they did fine the Germans, they also helped them via the Marshall plan. Germany also realized that it had been warring with other European countries for over a thousand years as well as quite a few other countries. The first sort of treaty immediately in that regard was the Western Union Alliance . While on the face of it, it was a defense treaty between sovereign powers. Interestingly, as can be seen UK at that point in time wanted more countries to be part of the Treaty of Dunkirk. This was quickly followed 2 years later by the Treaty of London which made way for the Council of Europe to be formed. The reason I am sharing is because a lot of Indians whom I meet on SM do not know that UK was instrumental front and center for the formation of European Union (EU). Also they perhaps don’t realize that after World War 2, UK was greatly diminished both financially and militarily. That is the reason it gave back its erstwhile colonies including India and other countries. If UK hadn’t become a part of EU they would have been called the poor man of Europe as they had been called few hundred years ago.

In fact, after Brexit, UK has been the only nation that has fallen on the dire times as much as it has. They have practically no food, supermarkets running out of veggies and whatnot. electricity sky-high as they don’t want to curtail profits of the gas companies which in turn donate money to Tory coffers. Sadly, most of my brethen do not know that hence I have had to share it. The EU became a power in its own right due to Gravity model of trade. The U.S. is attempting the same thing and calls it near off-shoring.

Tesla, Investor Day Presentation, Toyota and Free Software

The above brings it nicely about the Tesla Investor Day that happened couple of weeks back. The biggest news though was broken just 24 hours earlier when the governor of Monterrey] shared how Giga New Mexico would be happening and shared some site photographs. There have been bits of news on that off-and-on since then. Toyota meanwhile has been putting lot of anti-EV posters and whatnot. In fact, India seems to be mirroring Japan in a lot of ways, the only difference is Japan is still superior economically than India. I do sincerely hope that at least Japan can get out of its lost decades. I have asked privately if any of the Japanese translators would be willing to translate the anti-EV poster so we may all know.

Anti-EV poster by Toyota

Urinal outside UK Embassy

About a week back few people chanting Khalistan entered the Indian Embassy and showed the flags. This was in the UK. Now in a retaliatory move against a friendly nation, we want to make a Urinal. after making a security downgrade for the Embassy. The pettiness being shown by Indian Govt. especially when it has very few friends. There are also plans to do the same for the U.S. and other embassies as well. I do not know when we will get common sense.


Just a few weeks back, Holi happened. It used to be a sweet and innocent festival. But from the last few years, I have been hearing and seeing sexual harassment on the rise. In fact, saw quite a few lewd posts written to women on Holi or verge of Holi and also videos of the same. One of the most shameful incidents occurred with a Japanese tourist. She was not only sexually molested but also terrorized that if she were to report then she could be raped and murdered. She promptly left Delhi. Once it was reported in mass media, Delhi Police tried to show it was doing something. FWIW, Delhi’s crime against women stats have been at record high and conviction at record low.

Ecommerce Rules being changed, logistics gonna be tough.

Just today there have been changes in Ecommerce rules (again) and this is gonna be a pain for almost all companies big and small with the exception of Adani and Ambani. Almost all players including the Tatas have called them out. Of course, all such laws have been passed without debate. In such a scenario, small startups like these cannot hope to grow their business. 😦

Inertial Measurement Unit or Full Body Tracking with cheap hardware.

Apparently, a whole host of companies are looking at 3-D tracking using cheap hardware apparently known as IMU sensors. Sooner than later cheap 3-D glasses and IMU sensors should explode the 3-D market worldwide. There is a huge potential and upside to it and will probably overtake smartphones as well. But then the danger will be of our thoughts, ideas, nightmares etc. to be shared without our consent. The more we tap into a virtual world, what stops anybody from tapping into our brain and practically stealing our identity in more than one way. I dunno if there are any Debian people or FSF projects working on the above. Even Laws can only do so much, until and unless there are alternative places and ways it would be difficult to say the least 😦

Anti-national says the Indian Law Minister.

Anti-national and Anti-India judges – Kiren Rijiju, Law Minister.

For those who can’t see the above poster says the following – ‘A handful of retired Supreme Court judges who are part of ‘Anti-India’ and are trying to make Indian judiciary play role of the Opposition party. – Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.

Now, just to give bit more of a context, the above has happened as the CJI (Chief Justice has not been listening or toeing their line)

The above is a statement given by CJI DY Chandrachud. He says and I quote ‘Democracy needs truth to survive. Democracy and truth go hand in hand. Speaking truth to power is a right of every citizen in a democracy. It is equally a duty.

Another quote by him. “I am personally averse to sealed covers. There has to be transparency in Court. This is about implementing the orders. What can be secrecy here.

Now I need to again give context of the various statements given. The law minister who gave this statement, his name incidentally came first under the radar sometime in 2013-2014 in a list given/shared by Union Home Secretary R K Singh (then in UPA, now in BJP) as an anti-India China sympathizer. Of course today all sorts of thugs use the brand ‘nationalism’ he is one of them.

Now as far as the CJI is concerned, AFAIK I know he bent over backwards for them but they were not pleased with him. The latest ‘sealed cover’ statement is because BJP wanted to put a sealed cover in the ongoing Udhav Thackeray vs Eknath Shinde case where BJP or the Eknath Shinde faction tried to give a sealed cover. The problem with sealed cover is for any defence there is nothing to fight against it. It could be a blank paper, it could be whole lot of gossip or innuendo, unless it’s out in the open the prosecution in this case i.e. Udhav Thackeray team could not effectively fight as they do not know the contents of the said sealed cover. This goes against all judicial norms. The U.S. tried with sealed cover and ended the practise only after couple of cases. Even in the OROP case (One Rank One Pension) the Govt. tried the same trick.

As I have shared before, this actually comes Senator Joseph Mccarthy who started this whole thing in 1950’s, a bit of background on him. I probably had shared about him before but it bears to know and remember again and again. The same is what Mr. Trump has done time and again. It’s a similar script. Bully your opponents and use sealed cover as no questions can be asked about it. The good news though is that the views of CJI have been changing. So, yes they would like to change the CJI, they actually have been trying to have their own man have keys to the judiciary but without success so far, soon though this bastion would also fall, if not today then tomorrow. The EC (Election Commission) has been thoroughly compromised. Would not share more as that EC’s bending acts would use a whole blog post or two to share the numerous instances where BJP has been given all rights. In fact, via RTI it came to be known that many of the BJP leaders had given false statements about their education in the EC affidavit. That alone should have been grounds for throwing out the legislators but in their wisdom they see fit to remain blind. The latest case is of Mr. Nishikant Dubey.

Of course, even with the legal documents shared in public domain and EC having powers to verify such documents, they are choosing to remain silent. If one has lied about one thing in an affidavit, what or how many lies he has shared in that same document. And how are you supposed to trust anything that comes out of his mouth. This is the state of not just Mr. Dubey but a whole lot of people who are in BJP today. And EC as an institution seems to be let down. There was a time when it was lead by T.N. Seshan who was courageous, fearless and fair. He later went to become Speaker but even then he was harsh but fair. Perhaps people thought we will always have people like him. Hence instead of strong institutions having strong rules, we based our trust on people and hence we are where we are 😦

There is much to share but some other day, Till later.

Cutting off body parts and Lenovo

I would suggest that this blog post would be slightly unpleasant and I do wish that there was a way, a standardized way just like movies where you can put General, 14+, 16+, Adult and whatnot. so people could share without getting into trouble. I would suggest to consider this blog as for somewhat mature and perhaps disturbing.

Cutting off body parts

From last couple of months or so we have been getting daily reports of either men or women killed and then being chopped into pieces and this is being ‘normalized’. During my growing up years, the only such case I remember was the 1995 Tandoor case and it jolted the conscience of the nation. But it seems lot of water has passe under the bridge. as no one seems to be shocked anymore 😦 Also shocking are the number of heart attacks that young people are getting. Dunno the reason for either. Just saw this yesterday, The first thing to my mind was, at least she wasn’t chopped. It was only latter I realized that the younger sister may have wanted to educate herself or have some other drreams, but because of some evil customs had to give hand in marriage. No outrage here for anything, not even child marriage :(. How have we become so insensitive. And it’s mostly Hindus killing Hindus but still no outrage. We have been killing Muslims and Christians so that I guess is just par for the course :(. I wish I could say there is a solution but there seems to be not 😦 Even Child abuse cases have been going up but sad to say even they are being normalised. It’s only when a US agency or somebody who feels shocked, then we feel shocked otherwise we have become numb 😦

AMD and Lenovo Lappies

About couple of months ago I had made a blog post about lappies. Then Russel reached out to me on Twitter and we engaged. One thing lead to other and soon I saw on some other topic somewhere came across this –

The above is a video presentation given by Mark Pearson. Sad to say it was not illuminating enough. Especially the whole ‘boothole’ thing. I did see three blog posts to get some more insight. The security entry did also share some news. I also reached out to Mr. Pearson to know both the status and also to enquire if there are any new lappies without an OS that I can buy from Lenovo. Sadly, both these e-mails went unanswered. Maybe they went to spam or something else, have no clue. While other organizations did work on it, Debian was kinda side-lined. Hence the annoyance from the Debian Maintainers that the whole thing came from the left field. And this doesn’t just effect Debian but all those downstream distributions that rely on Debian 😦 . Now while it’s almost a year since then and probably all has been fixed but there haven’t been any instructions that I could find that tellls me if there is any new way or just the old way works. In any case, I do think bookworm release probably would have all the fixes needed. IIRC, we just entered ‘soft freeze’ just couple of weeks back.

I have to admit something though, I have never used secure-boot as it has been designed, partially because I always run testing, irrespective of whatever device I use. And AFAIK the whole idea of Secure Boot is to have few updates unlike Testing which is kinda a rolling release thing. While Secure Boot wants same bits, all underlying bits, in Testing it’s hard to ensure that as the idea is to test new releases of software and see what works and what breaks till we send it to final release (something like ‘Bookworm’). FWIW, currently ‘bookworm’ and ‘Testing’ is one and the same till Bookworm releases, and then Testing would have its own updates from the next hour/day after.

Minidebconf Tamilnadu 2023, Tinnitus, Cooking, Books and Series.

First up is Minidebconf Tamilnadu 2023 that would be held on 28-29 January 2023. You can find rest of the details here. I do hope we get to see/hear some good stuff from the Minidebconf. Best of luck to all those who are applying.


During the lock-down of March 2020, I became aware of noise in ears and subsequently major hearing loss. It took me quite a while to know that Tinnitus happens to both those who have hearing loss as well as not. I keep running into threads like this and as shared by someone nobody knows what really causes it. I did try some of the apps (an app. called Resound on Android) that is supposed to tackle Tinnitus but it hasn’t helped much. There is this but at least for me, right now pretty speculative. Also this, and again highly speculative.


After mum passed away, I haven’t cooked anything. This used to give me pleasure but now just doesn’t feel right. Cooking is something you enjoy when you are doing for somebody else and not just for yourself, at least that’s how I feel and with that the curiosity to know more recipes. I do wanna buy a wok at sometime but when, how I just don’t know.


Have been reading books quite a bit. And due to that had to again revisit and understand ISBN. Perhaps I might have shared it before. It really is something, the history of ISBN. And that co-relates with the book I read, Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett. Raising Steam is the 40th Book in the Discworld Series and it basically romanticizes and reminisces how the idea of an engine was born, and then a steam engine and how actually Railways started. There has been a lot of history and experiences from the early years of Steam Railway that have been taken and transplanted into the book. Also how Railways is and can be successful if only it is invested wisely and maintenance is done. This is only where imagination and reality come apart as maintenance isn’t done and then you have issues. While this is and was in the UK, similar situation exists in India and many other places around the world and doesn’t matter whether it is private or public. Exceptions are German, French but then that maybe due to Labor movements that happened and were successful unlike in other places. I could go on but then it will become a different article in itself. Suffice to say there is much to learn and you need serious people to look after it. Both in UK and India we lack that. And not just in Railways but Civil Aviation too, but again that is a story in itself.


Apart from books, have been seeing web-series that Willow is a good one that I enjoyed even though I hadn’t seen the earlier movie. While there has been a flurry of movies and web-series both due to end of year and beginning of 2023 and yet have tried to be a bit partial on what I wanna watch or not. If it has crime, fantasy, drama then usually I like it. For e.g. I saw Blackout and pretty much was engrossed in what will happen next. It also does lead you to ask questions about centralization vs de-centralization for both power and other utilities and does make a case for communities to have their utilities apart from the grid as a fallback. How do we do over decades or centuries about it is a different question perhaps altogether. There were two books that kinda stood out for me, the first was Ian Rankin’s ‘Naming of the Dead’. The book is about a cynical John Rebus, a man after my own heart. I am probably going to buy a few more of his series. In a way it also tells you why UK is the way it is right now. Another book that I liked was Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. This is one of the books that Mum would have clearly liked. It is pretty unusual while at the same time very close to 1984 and other such dystopian novels. The main trope of the book is what color you can see and how much you can see. The main character is somebody who can see Red, around the age of 20. One of the interesting aspects of the book is ‘de-facting’ which closely resembles the Post-Truth world where alternative facts can be made out of air and they don’t need any scientific evidence to back them up. In Jasper’s world, they don’t care about how things work and most of the technology is banned and curiosity is considered harmful and those who show that are murdered one way or the other. Interestingly, the author has just last year decided to start book 2 in the 3 book series that is supposed to be. This also tells why the U.S. is such a precarious situation in a way. A part of it is also due to the media which is in hands of chosen few, the same goes for UK and India, almost an oligopoly.

The Great Escape

This is also a book but also about experiences of people, not in 19th-20th century but today that tells you slavery is alive and well and human-trafficking as well. This piece from NPR tells you about an MNC and Indian workers. What I found interesting is that there barely is an mention of the Indian Embassy that is supposed to help Indian people. I do know for a fact that the embassies of India has seen a drastic shortage of both people and materials even since the new Govt. came in place that was nine years ago. Incidentally, BBC shared about the Gujarat riots 2002 and that has been censored in India. They keep quiet about the UK Govt. who did find out that the Chief Minister was directly responsible for the killings and in facts his number 2, Amit Shah had shared that we would do 2002 again in the election cycle barely a month ago. But sadly, no hate speech FIR or any action was taken against Mr. Shah. There have been attempts by people to showcase the documentary. For e.g. JNU tried it and the rowdies from ABVP (arm of BJP) created violence. Even the questions that has been asked by the Wire, GOI will not acknowledge them.

Interestingly, all India’s edtechs have taken a beating in the last 6-8 months including the biggest BJYU’s. Sharing a story from 2021 where things were best and today all of them are at bottom. In fact, the public has been wary as the prices of the courses has kept on increasing and most ‘case studies’ have been found to be fake. Also the general outlook on jobs and growth has been pessimistic. In fact, most companies have been shedding jobs truckloads, most in the I.T. sector but other sectors as well. Hospitality and other related sectors have taken a huge beating, part of it post-pandemic, part of it Govt’s refusal to either spend money or do any positive policies for either infrastructure, education, medical, you name it, they think private sector has all the answers which has been proven to be wrong again and again. I did not want to end on a discordant note but things are the way they are 😦

Wayland, Hearing aids, Multiverse & Identity


First up, I read Antoine BeauprΓ©’s Wayland to Sway migration with interest. While he said it’s done and dusted or something similar, the post shows there’s still quite a ways to go. I wouldn’t say it’s done or whatever till it’s integrated so well that a person installs it and doesn’t really need to fiddle with config files as an average user. For specific use-cases you may need to, but that should be outside of a normal user (layperson) experience.

I have been using mate for a long long time and truth be told been very happy with it. The only thing I found about Wayland on mate is this discussion or rather this entry. The roadmap on Ubuntu Mate is also quite iffy. The Mate Wayland entry on Debian wiki also perhaps need an updation but dunno much as the latest update it shares is 2019 and it’s 2022. One thing to note, at least according to Antoine, things should be better as and when it gets integrated even on legacy hardware. I would be interested to know how it would work on old desktops and laptops rather than new or is there some barrier? I, for one would have liked to see or know about why lightdm didn’t work on Wayland and if there’s support. From what little I know lightdm is much lighter than gdm3 and doesn’t require much memory and from what little I have experienced works very well with mate. I have been using it since 2015/16 although the Debian changelog tells me that it has been present since 2011. I was hoping to see if there was a Wayland specific mailing list, something like debian-wayland but apparently there’s not :(. Using ‘mate desktop wayland’ (tried few other variations on the keywords) but search fails to find any meaningful answer :(. FWIW and I don’t know the reason why but Archwiki never fails to amaze me. Interestingly, it just says No for mate. I probably would contact upstream in the coming days to know what their plans are and hopefully they will document what their plans are on integrating Wayland in both short-term and long-term with an update, or if there is something more recent they have documented elsewhere, get that update on the Debian wiki so people know.

The other interesting thread I read was Russel Coker’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen5 entry. I would be in the market in a few months to find/buy a Thinkpad but probably of AMD rather than Intel because part of recent past history with Intel as well as AMD having a bit of an edge over Intel as far as graphics is concerned. I wonder why Russel was looking into Intel and not AMD. Would be interested to know why Intel and not AMD? Any specific reason ???

Hearing Aids

I finally bought hearing aids about a couple of weeks back and have been practicing using them. I was able to have quite a few conversations although music is still I’m not able to listen clearly but it is still a far cry from before and for the better. I am able to have conversations with people and also reply and they do not have to make that extra effort that they needed to. Make things easier for everybody. The one I bought is at the starting range although the hearing aids go all the way to 8 lakhs for a pair (INR 800,000), the more expensive ones having WiFi, Bluetooth and more channels, it all depends on how much can one afford. And AFAIK there is not a single Indian manufacturer who is known in this business.

One thing I did notice is while the hearing aids are remarkably sturdy if they fall down as they are small, yet you have to be careful of both dust and water . That does makes life a bit difficult as my house and city both gets sand quite a bit everyday. I don’t think they made any India-specific changes, if they had, would probably make things better. I haven’t yet looked at it, but it may be possible to hack it remotely. There may or may not be security issues involved, probably would try once I’ve bit more time am bit more comfortable to try and see what I can find out. If I had bought it before, maybe I would have applied for the Debian event happening in Kerala, if nothing else, would have been to document what happened there in detail. 😦

I probably would have to get a new motherboard for my desktop probably in a year or two as quite a few motherboards also have WiFi (WiFi 6 ?) think on the southbridge. I at least would have a look in new year and know more as to what’s been happening. For last at least 2-3 years there has been a rumor which has been confirmed time and again that the Tata Group has been in talks with multiple vendors to set chip fabrication and testing business but to date they haven’t been able to find one. They do keep on giving press conferences about the same but that’s all they do :(. Just shared the latest one above.

The Long War – Terry Pratchett, Stephen Braxter

Long Earth – Terry Pratchett, Stephen Braxter

ISBN13: 9780062067777

Last month there was also a seconds books sale where I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Long War. But before I share about the book itself, I had a discussion with another of my friends and had to re-share part of that conversation. While the gentleman was adamant that non-fiction books are great, my point as always is both are equal. As I shared perhaps on this blog itself, perhaps multiple times, that I had seen a YT video in which a professor shared multiple textbooks of physics and shared how they are wrong and have been wrong and kept them in a specific corner. He took the latest book which he honestly said doesn’t have any mistakes as far as he know and yet still kept in that same corner denoting that it is highly possible that future understanding will make the knowledge or understanding we know different. An example of physics in the nano world and how that is different and basically turns our understanding than what we know.

Now as far as the book is concerned, remember Michael Crichton’s Timeline. Now that book was originally written in the 1960’s while this one was written by both the honorable gentleman in 2013. So almost 50+ years difference between the two books, and that even shows how they think about things. In this book, you no longer need a big machine, but have something called a stepper machine which is say similar to a cellphone, that size and that frame, thickness etc. In this one, the idea of multiverse is also there but done a tad differently. In this, we do not have other humans or copy humans but have multiple earths that may have same or different geography as how evolution happened. None of the multiverse earths have humans but have different species depending on the evolution that happened there. There are something called as trolls but they have a much different meaning and way about them about how most fantasy authors portray trolls. While they are big in this as well, they are as gentle as bears or rabbits. So the whole thing is about real estate and how humans have spread out on multiple earths and the politics therein. Interestingly, the story was trashed or given negative reviews on Goodreads. The sad part is/was that it was written and published in 2013 when perhaps the possibility of war or anything like that was very remote especially in the States, but now we are now in 2022 and just had an insurrection happen and whole lot of Americans are radicalized, whether you see the left or the right depending on your ideology. An American did share few weeks ago how some shares are looking at Proportional Representation and that should make both parties come more towards the center and be a bit more transparent. What was interesting to me is the fact that states have much more rights to do elections and electioneering the way they want rather than a set model which everyone has common which is what happens in India. This also does poke holes into the whole Donald Trump ‘stolen democracy’ drama but that’s a different story altogether.

One of the more interesting things I came to know about is that there are 4 books in the long series and this was the second book in itself. I do not want to dwell on the characters themselves as frankly speaking I haven’t read all the four books and it would be gross injustice on my part to talk about the characters themselves. Did I enjoy reading the book, for sure. What was interesting and very true of human nature is that even if we have the ability or had the ability to have whole worlds to ourselves, we are bound to mess it up. And in that aspect, I don’t think he is too far off the mark. If I had a whole world, wouldn’t I try to exploit it to the best or worse of my ability. One of the more interesting topics in the book is the barter system they have thought of that is called as favors. If you are in multiple worlds, then having a currency, even fiat money is of no use and they have to find ways and means to trade with one another. The book also touches a bit on slavery but only just and doesn’t really explore it as much as it could have.


Now this has many meanings to it. Couple of weeks ago, saw a transgender meet. For the uninitiated or rather people like me, basically it is about people who are born in one gender but do not identify with it but the other and they express it first through their clothes and expression and the end of the journey perhaps is with having the organs but this may or may not be feasible, as such surgery is expensive and also not available everywhere. After section 377 was repealed few years ago, we do have a third gender on forms as well as have something called a Transgender Act but how much the needle has moved in society is still a question. They were doing a roadshow near my house hence I was able to talk with them with my new hearing aids and while there was lot of traffic was able to understand some of their issues. For e.g. they find it difficult to get houses on rent, but then it is similar for bachelor guys or girls also. One could argue to what degree it is, and that perhaps maybe. Also, there is a myth that they are somehow promiscuous but that I believe is neither here or there. Osho said an average person thinks about the opposite sex every few seconds or a minute. I am sure even Freud would have similar ideas. So, if you look in that way everybody is promiscuous as far as thought is concerned. The other part being opportunity but that again is function of so many other things. Some people are able to attract a lot of people, others might not. And then whether they chose to act on that opportunity or not is another thing altogether.

Another word that is or was used is called gender fluid, but that too is iffy as gender fluid may or may not mean transgender. Also, while watching some nature documentary few days/weeks back had come to know that trees have something like 18 odd genders. That just blows me out of the mind and does re-question this whole idea of sexuality and identity to only two which seems somewhat regressive at least to me. If we think humans are part of nature, then we need to be open up perhaps a bit more.

But identity as I shared above has more than one meaning. For e.g. citizenship, that one is born in India is even messier to know, understand and define. I had come across this article about couple of months back. Now think about this. Now, there have been studies and surveys about citizenship and it says something like 60% birth registrations are done in metro cities. Now Metro cities are 10 as defined by Indian state.

But there are roughly an odd 4k cities in India and probably twice the number of villages and those are conservative numbers as we still don’t record things meticulously, maybe due to the Indian oral tradition or just being lazy or both, one part is also that if you document people and villages and towns, then you are also obligated to give them some things as a state and that perhaps is not what the Indian state wants.

A small village in India could be anywhere from few hundreds of people to a few thousand. And all the new interventions whether it is PAN, Aadhar has just made holes rather than making things better.

They are not inclusive but exclusive. And none of this takes into account Indian character and the way things are done in India. In most households, excluding the celebs (they are in a world of pain altogether when it comes to baby names but then it’s big business but that’s an entire different saga altogether, so not going to touch that.) I would use or say my individual case as that is and seems to be something which is regular even today. I was given a nickname when I was 3 years old and given a name when I was 5-6 when I was put in school. I also came to know in school few kids who didn’t like their names and couple of them cajoled and actually changed their names while they were kids, most of us just stayed with what we got. I do remember sharing about ‘nakushi’ or something similar a name given to few girls in Maharashtra by their parents and the state intervened and changed their names. But that too is another story in itself. What I find most problematic is that the state seems to be blind, and this seems to be by design rather than a mistake. Couple of years back, Assam did something called NRC (National Register of Citizens) and by the Govt’s own account it was a failure of massive proportions. And they still want to bring in CAA, screwing up Assam more. And this is the same Govt. went shown how incorrect it was, blamed it all on the High Court and it’s the same Govt. that shopped around for judges to put somebody called Mr. Saibaba (an invalid 90 year adivasi) against whom the Govt. hasn’t even a single proof as of date. Apparently, they went to 6 judges who couldn’t give what the decision the Govt. wanted. All this info. is in public domain. So the current party ruling, i.e. BJP just wants to make more divisions rather than taking people along as they don’t have answers either on economy, inflation or issues that people are facing.

One bright light has been Rahul Gandhi who has been doing a padhyatra (walking) from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and has had tremendous success although mainstream media has showed almost nothing what he is doing or why he is doing that. Not only he had people following him, there are and were many who took his example and using the same values of inclusiveness are walking where they can. And this is not to do with just a political party but more with a political thought of inclusiveness, that we are one irrespective of what I believe, eat, wear etc. And that gentleman has been giving press conferences while our dear P.M. even after 8 years doesn’t have the guts to do a single press conference.

Before closing, I do want to take another aspect, Rahul Gandhi’s mother is an Italian or was from Italy before she married. But for BJP she is still Italian. Rishi Sunak, who has become the UK Prime Minister they think of him as Indian and yet he has sworn using the Queen’s name. And the same goes for Canada Kumar (Akshay Kumar) and many others. How the right is able to blind and deaf to what it thinks is beyond me. All these people have taken an oath in the name of the Queen and they have to be loyal to her or rather now King Charles III. The disconnect continues.

The Road to Gandolfo, Webforms, Hearing Loss info & Mum’s Birthday.

The Road to Gandolfo

I think I had read this book almost 10-12 years back and somehow ended up reading it up again. Apparently, he had put this fiction, story, book under some other pen name earlier. It is possible that I might have read it under that name and hence forgotten all about it. This book/story is full of innuendo, irony, sarcasm and basically the thrill of life. There are two main characters in the book, the first is General Mackenzie who has spent almost 3 to 4 decades being a spy/a counterintelligence expert in the Queen’s service. And while he outclasses them all even at the ripe age of 50, he is thrown out under the pretext of conduct unbecoming of an officer.

The other main character is Sam Devereaux. This gentleman is an army lawyer and is basically counting the days when he completes his tour of duty as a military lawyer and start his corporate civil law with somebody he knows. It is much to his dismay that while under a week is left for his tour of duty to be left over he is summoned to try and extradite General MacKenzie who has been put on house arrest. Apparently, in China there was a sculpture of a great Chinese gentleman in the nude. For reasons unknown or rather not being shared herein, he basically breaks part of the sculpture. This of course, enrages the Chinese and they call it a diplomatic accident and try to put the General into house arrest. Unfortunately for both the General and his captors, he decides to escape/go for it. While he does succeed entering the American embassy, he finds himself to be person non-grata and is thrown back outside where the Chinese recapture him.

This is where the Embassy & the Govt. decide it would be better if somehow the General could be removed from China permanently so he doesn’t cause any further diplomatic accidents. In order to do that Sam’s services are bought.

Now in order to understand the General, Sam learns that he has 4 ex-wives. He promptly goes and meet them to understand why the general behaved as he did. He apparently also peed on the American flag. To his surprise, all the four ex-wives are still very much in with the general. During the course of interviewing the ladies he is seduced by them and also gives names to their chests in order to differentiate between each one of them. Later he is seduced by the eldest of the four wives and they spend the evening together.

Next day Sam meets and is promptly manhandled by the general and the diplomatic papers are seen by the general. After meeting the general and the Chinese counterpart, they quickly agree to extradite him as they do not know how to keep the general control. During his stay of house arrest, the General reads one of the ‘communist rags’ as he puts it and gets the idea to kidnap the pope and that forms the basis of the story.

Castel Gandolfo seems to be a real place which is in Italy and is apparently is the papal residence where s/he goes to reside every winter. The book is written in 1976 hence in the book, the General decides to form a corporation for which he would raise funds in order to make the kidnapping. The amount in 1976 was 40 million dollars and it was a big sum, to be with times, let’s think of say 40 billion dollars so gets the scale of things.

Now while a part of me wants to tell the rest of the story, the story isn’t really mine to tell. Read The Road to Gandolfo for the rest. While I can’t guarantee you much, I can say you might find yourself constantly amused by the antics of both the General, Sam and the General’s ex-wives. There are also a few minute characters that you will meet on the way, hope you discover them and enjoy it immensely as I have.

One thing I have to say, while I was reading it, I very much got vibes of ‘Not a penny more, not a penny less’ by Jeffrey Archer. As shared before, lots of twists and turns, enjoy the ride πŸ™‚


Webforms are nothing but a form you fill on the web or www. Webforms are and were a thing from early 90s to today. I was supposed to register for almost a month back but procrastinated till few couple of days back and with good reason. I was hoping one of my good friends would help me but they had their own thing. So finally, I tried to fill the form few days back. It took me almost 30 odd attempts to finally fill the form and was given an enrollment number. Why it took me 30 odd attempts and with what should tell you the reason –

  1. I felt like I was filling the form from 1990’s rather than today because –
  2. The form doesn’t know either its state or saves data during a session – This lesson has been learned a long time back by almost all service providers except Govt. of India. Both the browsers on a mobile as well as desktop can save data during session. If you don’t know what I mean by that go to about:preferences#privacy in Firefox and look at Manage Data. There you will find most sites do put some data along with cookies arguably to help make your web experience better. Chrome or Chromium has the same thing perhaps shared under a different name but its the same thing. But that is not all.
  3. None of the fields have any verification. The form is of 3 pages. The verification at the end of the document doesn’t tell you what is wrong and what needs to be corrected. Really think on this, I am on a 24″ LED monitor and I’m filling the form and I had to do it at least 20-30 times before it was accepted. And guess what, I have no clue even about why it was selected. The same data, the same everything and after the nth time it accepted. Now if I am facing such a problem when I have some idea how technology works somewhat how are people who are trying to fill this form on 6″ mobiles supposed to do? And many of them not at all clued in technology as I am.

I could go on outlining many of the issues that I faced but they are all similar in many ways the problems faced while filling the ‘NEW’ Income Tax forms. Of course the New Income Tax portal is a whole ball-game in itself as it gives new errors every time instead of solving them. Most C.A.’s have turned to third-party xml tools that enable you to upload xml compliant data to the ‘New’ Income tax portal but this is for businesses and those who can afford it. Again, even that is in a sort of messy state but that is a whole another tale altogether.

One of the reasons to my mind why the forms are designed the way they are so that people go to specific cybercafes or get individual people to fill and upload it and make more money. I was told to go to a specific cybercafe and meet a certain individual and he asked for INR 500/- to do the work. While I don’t have financial problems, I was more worried about my data going into the wrong hands. But I can see a very steady way to make money without doing much hard work.

Hearing Loss info.

Now because I had been both to Kamla Nehru Hospital as well as Sasoon and especially the deaf department, I saw many kids with half-formed ears. I had asked the doctors and they had shared this is due to malnutrition. We do know that women during pregnancies need more calories, more everything as they are eating for two bodies, not one. And this is large-scale, apparently more than 5 percent of population have children like this. And this number was of 2014, what is it today nobody knows. I also came to know that at least for some people like me, due to Covid they became deaf. I had asked the doctors if they knew of people who had become deaf due to Covid. They basically replied in the negative as they don’t have the resources to monitor the same. The Govt. has an idea of health ID but just like Aadhar has to many serious sinister implications. Somebody had shared with me a long time back that in India systems work inspite of Govt. machinery rather than because of it. Meaning that the Government itself ties itself into several knots and then people have to be creative to try and figure a way out to help people. I found another issue while dealing with them.

Apparently, even though I have 60% hearing loss I would be given a certificate of 40% hearing loss and they call it Temporary Progressive Loss. I saw almost all the people who had come, many of them having far severe defencies than me getting the same/similar certificate. All of them got Temporary Progressive. Some of the cases were real puzzling. For e.g. I met another Agarwal who had a severe accident few months ago and there is some kind of paralysis & bone issue. The doctors have given up but even that gentleman was given Temporary Progressive. From what little I could understand, the idea is that over period if there is possibility of things becoming better then it should be given. Another gentleman suffered a case of dwarfism. Even he was given the same certificate. Think there have been orders from above so that people even having difficulties are not helped. Another point if you look in a macro sense, it presents a somewhat rosy picture. If someone were to debunk the Govt. data either from India or abroad then from GOI perspective they have an ‘agenda’ even though the people who are suffering are our brothers and sisters 😦 And all of this is because I can read, write, articulate. Perhaps many of them may not even have a voice or a platform.

Even to get this temporary progressive disability certificate there is more than 4 months of running from one place to the other, 4 months of culmination of work. This I can share and tell from my experience, who knows how much else others might have suffered for the same. In my case a review will happen after 5 years, in most other cases they have given only 1 year. Of course, this does justify people’s jobs and perhaps partly it may be due to that. Such are times where I really miss that I am unable to hear otherwise could have fleshed out lot more other people’s sufferings.

And just so people know/understand this is happening in the heart of the city whose population easily exceeds 6 million plus and is supposed to be a progressive city. I do appreciate and understand the difficulties that the doctors are placed under.

Mum’s Birthday & Social Engineering.

While I don’t want to get into details, in the last couple of weeks mum’s birthday was there and that had totally escaped me. I have been trying to disassociate myself from her and at times it’s hard and then you don’t remember and somebody makes you remember. So, on one hand guilty, and the other do not know what to do. If she were alive I would have bought a piece of cake or something. Didn’t feel like it, hence donated some money to the local aged home. This way at least I hope they have some semblance of peace. All of them are of her similar age group.

The other thing that I began to observe in the earnest, fake identities have become the norm. Many people took elon musk’s potrait using their own names in the handles, but even then Elon “Free Speech” Musk banned them. So much for free speech. Then I saw quite a few handles that have cute women as their profile picture but they are good at social engineering. This has started only a couple of weeks back and have seen quite a few handles leaving Twitter and joining Mastodon. Also, have been hearing that many admins of Mastodon pods are unable to get on top of this. Also, lot of people complaining as it isn’t user-friendly UI as twitter is. Do they not realize that Twitter has its own IP and any competing network can’t copy or infringe on their product. Otherwise, they will be sued like how Ford was & potentially win. I am not really gonna talk much about it as the blog post has become quite long and that needs its own post to do any sort of justice to it. Till later people πŸ™‚

Shantaram, The Pyramid, Japan’s Hikikomori & Backpack


I know I have been quite behind in review of books but then that’s life. First up is actually not as much as a shocker but somewhat of a pleasant surprise. So, a bit of background before I share the news. If you have been living under a rock, then about 10-12 years ago a book called Shantaram was released. While the book is said to have been released in 2003/4 I got it in my hand around 2008/09 or somewhere around that. The book is like a good meal, a buffet. To share the synopsis, Lin a 20 something Australian guy gets involved with a girl, she encourages him to get into heroin, he becomes a heroin user. And drugs, especially hard drugs need constant replenishment, it is a chemical thing. So, to fund those cravings, he starts to steal, rising to rob a bank and while getting away shoots a cop who becomes dead. Now either he surrenders or is caught is unclear, but he is tortured in the jail. So one day, he escapes from prison, lands up at home of somebody who owes him a favor, gets some money, gets a fake passport and lands up in Mumbai/Bombay as it was then known. This is from where the actual story starts. And how a 6 foot something Australian guy relying on his street smartness and know how the transformation happens from Lin to Shantaram. Now what I have shared is perhaps just 5% of the synopsis, as shared the real story starts here.

Now the good news, last week 4 episodes of Shantaram were screened by Apple TV. Interestingly, I have seen quite a number people turning up to buy or get this book and also sharing it on Goodreads. Now there seems to have been some differences from the book to TV. Now I’m relying on 10-12 year back memory but IIRC Khaderbhai, one of the main characters who sort of takes Lin/Shantaram under his wing is an Indian. In the series, he is a western or at least looks western/Middle Eastern to me. Also, they have tried to reproduce 1980s in Mumbai/Bombay but dunno how accurate they were 😦 My impression of that city from couple of visits at that point in time where they were still more tongas (horse-ridden carriages), an occasional two wheelers and not many three wheelers. Although, it was one of the more turbulent times as lot of agitation for worker rights were happening around that time and a lot of industrial action. Later that led to lot of closure of manufacturing in Bombay and it became more commercial. It would be interesting to know whether they shot it in actual India or just made a set somewhere in Australia, where it possibly might have been shot. The chawl of the book needs a bit of arid land and Australia has lots of it.

It is also interesting as this was a project that had who’s who interested in it for a long time but somehow none of them was able to bring the project to fruition, the project seems to largely have an Australian cast as well as second generations of Indians growing in Australia. To take names, Amitabh Bacchan, Johnny Depp, Russel Crowe each of them wanted to make it into a feature film. In retrospect, it is good it was not into a movie, otherwise they would have to cut a lot of material and that perhaps wouldn’t have been sufficient. Making it into a web series made sure they could have it in multiple seasons if people like it. There is a lot between now and 12 episodes to even guess till where it would leave you then. So, if you have not read the book and have some holidays coming up, can recommend it. The writing IIRC is easy and just flows. There is a bit of action but much more nuance in the book while in the web series they are naturally more about action. There is also quite a bit of philosophy between him and Kaderbhai and while the series touches upon it, it doesn’t do justice but then again it is being commercially made.

Read the book, see the series and share your thoughts on what you think. It is possible that the series might go up or down but am sharing from where I see it, may do another at the end of the season, depending on where they leave it and my impressions.

Update – A slight update from the last blog post. Seems Rishi Sunak seems would be made PM of UK. With Hunt as chancellor and Rishi Sunak, Austerity 2.0 seems complete. There have been numerous articles which share how austerity gives rises to fascism and vice-versa. History gives lot of lessons about the same. In Germany, when the economy was not good, it was all blamed on the Jews for number of years. This was the reason for rise of Hitler, and while it did go up by a bit, propaganda by him and his loyalists did the rest. And we know and have read about the Holocaust. Today quite a few Germans deny it or deny parts of it but that’s how misinformation spreads. Also Hitler is looked now more as an aberration rather than something to do with the German soul. I am not gonna talk more as there is still lots to share and that actually perhaps requires its own blog post to do justice for the same.

The Pyramid by Henning Mankell

I had actually wanted to review this book but then the bomb called Shantaram appeared and I had to post it above. I had read two-three books before it, but most of them were about multiple beheadings and serial killers. Enough to put anybody into depression. I do not know if modern crime needs to show crime and desperation of and to such a level. Why I and most loved and continue to love Sherlock Holmes as most stories were not about gross violence but rather a homage to the art of deduction, which pretty much seems to be missing in modern crime thrillers rather than grotesque stuff.

In that, like a sort of fresh air I read/am reading the Pyramid by Henning Mankell. The book is about a character made by Monsieur Henning Mankell named Kurt Wallender. I am aware of the series called Wallender but haven’t yet seen it. The book starts with Wallender as a beat cop around age 20 and on his first case. He is ambitious, wants to become a detective and has a narrow escape with death. I wouldn’t go much into it as it basically gives you an idea of the character and how he thinks and what he does. He is more intuitive by nature and somewhat of a loner. Probably most detectives IRL are, dunno, have no clue. At least in the literary world it makes sense, in real world think there would be much irony for sure. This is speculation on my part, who knows.

Back to the book though. The book has 5 stories a sort of prequel one could say but also not entirely true. The first case starts when he is a beat cop in 1969 and he is just a beat cop. It is a kind of a prequel and a kind of an anthology as he covers from the first case to the 1990s where he is ending his career sort of.

Before I start sharing about the stories in the book, I found the foreword also quite interesting. It asks questions about the interplay of the role of welfare state and the Swedish democracy. Incidentally did watch couple of videos about a sort of mixed sort of political representation that happens in Sweden. It uses what is known as proportional representation. Ironically, Sweden made a turn to the far right this election season. The book was originally in Swedish and were translated to English by Ebba Segerberg and Laurie Thompson.

While all the stories are interesting, would share the last three or at least ask the questions of intrigue. Of course, to answer them you would need to read the book πŸ˜‰

So the last three stories I found the most intriguing.

The first one is titled Man on the Beach. Apparently, a gentleman goes to one of the beaches, a sort of lonely beach, hails a taxi and while returning suddenly dies. The Taxi driver showing good presence of mind takes it to hospital where the gentleman is declared dead on arrival. Unlike in India, he doesn’t run away but goes to the cafeteria and waits there for the cops to arrive and take his statement. Now the man is in his early 40s and looks to be fit. Upon searching his pockets he is found to relatively well-off and later it turns out he owns a couple of shops. So then here are the questions ?

What was the man doing on a beach, in summer that beach is somewhat popular but other times not so much, so what was he doing there?

How did he die, was it a simple heart attack or something more? If he had been drugged or something then when and how?

These and more questions can be answered by reading the story ‘Man on the Beach’.

2. The death of a photographer – Apparently, Kurt lives in a small town where almost all the residents have been served one way or the other by the town photographer. The man was polite and had worked for something like 40 odd years before he is killed/murdered. Apparently, he is murdered late at night. So here come the questions –

a. The shop doesn’t even stock any cameras and his cash box has cash. Further investigation reveals it is approximate to his average takeout for the day. So if it’s not for cash, then what is the motive ?

b. The body was discovered by his cleaning staff who has worked for almost 20 years, 3 days a week. She has her own set of keys to come and clean the office? Did she give the keys to someone, if yes why?

c. Even after investigation, there is no scandal about the man, no other woman or any vices like gambling etc. that could rack up loans. Also, nobody seems to know him and yet take him for granted till he dies. The whole thing appears to be quite strange. Again, the answers lie in the book.

3. The Pyramid – Kurt is sleeping one night when the telephone rings. The ‘scene’ starts with a Piper Cherokee, a single piston aircraft flying low and dropping something somewhere or getting somebody from/on the coast of Sweden. It turns and after a while crashes. Kurt is called to investigate it. Turns out, the plane was supposed to be destroyed. On crash, both the pilot and the passenger are into pieces so only dental records can prove who they are. Same day or a day or two later, two seemingly ordinary somewhat elderly women, spinsters, by all accounts, live above the shop where they sell buttons and all kinds of sewing needs of the town. They seem middle-class. Later the charred bodies of the two sisters are found :(. So here come the questions –

a.Did the plane drop something or pick something somebody up ? The Cherokee is a small plane so any plane field or something it could have landed up or if a place was somehow marked then could be dropped or picked up without actually landing.

b. The firefighter suspects arson started at multiple places with the use of petrol? The question is why would somebody wanna do that? The sisters don’t seem to be wealthy and practically everybody has bought stuff from them. They weren’t popular but weren’t also unpopular.

c. Are the two crimes connected or unconnected? If connected, then how?

d. Most important question, why the title Pyramid is given to the story. Why does the author share the name Pyramid. Does he mean the same or the original thing? He could have named it triangle. Again, answers to all the above can be found in the book.

One thing I also became very aware of during reading the book that it is difficult to understand people’s behavior and what they do. And this is without even any criminality involved in. Let’s say for e.g. I die in some mysterious circumstances, the possibility of the police finding my actions in last days would be limited and this is when I have hearing loss. And this probably is more to do with how our minds are wired. And most people I know are much more privacy conscious/aware than I am.

Japan’s Hikikomori

Japan has been a curious country. It was more or less a colonizer and somewhat of a feared power till it dragged the U.S. unnecessarily in World War 2. The result of the two atom bombs and the restitution meant that Japan had to build again from the ground up. It is also in a seismically unstable place as they have frequent earthquakes although the buildings are hardened/balanced to make sure that vibrations don’t tear buildings apart. Had seen years ago on Natgeo a documentary that explains all that. Apart from that, Japan was helped by the Americans and there was good kinship between them till the 1980s till it signed the Plaza Accord which enhanced asset price bubbles that eventually burst. Something from which they are smarting even today. Japan has a constitutional monarchy. A somewhat history lesson or why it exists even today can be found here. Asset price bubbles of the 1980s, more than 50 percent of the population on zero hour contracts and the rest tend to suffer from overwork. There is a term called Karoshi that explains all. An Indian pig-pen would be two, two and a half times larger than a typical Japanese home. Most Japanese live in micro-apartments called ‘konbachiku’. All of the above stresses meant that lately many young Japanese people have become Hikikomori. Bloomberg featured about the same a couple of years back. I came to know about it as many Indians are given the idea of Japan being a successful country without knowing the ills and issues it faces. Even in that most women get the wrong end of the short stick i.e. even it they manage to find jobs, it would be most back-breaking menial work. The employment statistics of Japan’s internal ministry tells its own story.

If you look at the data above, it seems that the between 2002 and 2019, the share of zero hour contracts has increased while regular work has decreased. This also means that those on the bottom of the ladder can no longer afford a home. There is and was a viral video called ‘Lost in Manboo‘ that went viral few years ago. It is a perfect set of storms. Add to that the Fukushima nuclear incident about which I had shared a few years ago. While the workers are blamed but all design decisions are taken by the management. And as was shown in numerous movies, documentaries etc. Interestingly, and somewhat ironically, the line workers knew the correct things to do and correct decisions to take unlike the management. The shut-ins story is almost a decade or two decades old. It is similar story in South Korea but not as depressive as the in Japan. It is somewhat depressive story but needed to be shared. The stories shared in the bloomberg article makes your heart ache 😦


In and around 2015, I had bought a Targus backpack, very much similar to the Targus TSB194US-70 Motor 16-inch Backpack. That bag has given me a lot of comfort over the years but now has become frayed the zip sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t. Unlike those days there are a bunch of companies now operating in India. There are eight different companies that I came to know about, Aircase, Harrisons Sirius, HP Oddyssey, Mokobara, Artic Hunter, Dell Pro Hybrid, Dell Roller Backpack and lastly the Decathlon Quechua Hiking backpack 32L – NH Escape 500 . Now of all the above, two backpacks seem the best, the first one is Harrisons Sirius, with 45L capacity, I don’t think I would need another bag at all. The runner-up is the Decathlon Quecha Hiking Backpack 32L. One of the better things in all the bags is that all have hidden pockets for easy taking in and out of passport while having being ant-theft. I do not have to stress how stressful it is to take out the passport and put it back in. Almost all the vendors have made sure that it is not a stress point anymore. The good thing about the Quecha is that they are giving 10 years warranty, the point to be asked is if that is does the warranty cover the zip. Zips are the first thing that goes out in bags.That actually has what happened to my current bag. Decathlon has a store in Wakad, Pune while I have reached out to the gentleman in charge of Harrisons India to see if they have a reseller in Pune. So hopefully, in next one week I should have a backpack that isn’t spilling with things all over the place, whichever I’m able to figure out.

Pune Rains, Uncosted Budgets, Hearing Loss Covid, Fracking

Pune Rains

Lemme start with a slightly funny picture that tells as much about Pune, my city as anything else does.

Pune- Leave your attitude behind, we have our own

This and similar tags, puns and whatnot you will find if you are entering Pune from the road highway. You can also find similar similar symbols and Puns all over the city and they are partly sarcasm and ironic and partly the truth. Puneities work from the attitude that they know everything rather than nothing, including yours truly πŸ˜‰ . What is the basis of that or why is there such kind of confidence I have no clue or idea, it is what it is. Approximately 24 hrs. ago, apparently we had a cloudburst. What I came to know later is that we got 100 mm of rain. Sharing from local news site. Much more interesting was a thread made on Reddit where many people half-seriously asked where they can buy a boat. One of the reasons being even if it’s October, in fact, we passed middle of October and it’s still raining. Even today in the evening, it rained for quite a while. As I had shared in a few blog posts before, June where rains should have started, it didn’t, it actually started late July or even August, so something has shifted. The current leadership does not believe in Anthropogenic Climate Change or human activity induced climate change even though that is a reality. I could share many links and even using the term above should give links to various studies. Most of the people who are opposed to it are either misinformed or influenced from the fossil fuel industry. Again, could share many links, but will share just one atm. I have talked to quite a few people about it but nobody has ever been able to give a convincing answer as to why GM had to crush the cars. Let’s even take the argument that it was the worst manufactured car in history and there have been quite a few, have the others been crushed? If not, then the reason shared or given by most people sounds hollow. And if you look into it, they had an opportunity that they let go, and now most of them are scrambling and yet most of the legacy auto manufacturers will be out of existence if they don’t get back into the game in the next 2-3 years. There have been a bunch of announcements but we are yet to see. The Chinese though have moved far ahead, although one has to remark that they have been doing that for the last decade, so they have a 10-year head start, hardly surprising then.

But I need to get back to the subject, another gentleman on Reddit remarked that if you start to use boat, and others start to use boat, then the Govt. will tax it. In fact, somebody had shared the below the other day –

Different types of taxes collected by GOI

Many of the taxes that I have shared above are by the Modi Govt. who came on the platform, manifesto that once they come to power they will reduce taxes for the common man, they have reduced taxes but only for the Corporates. For the common man, the taxes have only gone up, both direct tax and indirect tax. Any reference to the Tory party who have also done similar things and have also shared that it is labor who had done large expenditures even though they have been 8 years in power, I am sure for most is purely coincidental. Incidentally, that is the same tack that was taken even by the Republican party. They all like to give tax benefits to the 1% while for the rest is austerity claiming some reason, even if it has been proven to be false.

Corporate Tax Rate, Revenue Loss to Govt.

The figures mentioned above are findings of parliamentary panel so nobody can accuse of anybody having a bias. Also, I probably had shared this but still feel the need to re-share it as people still believe that 2G scam happened even though there are plenty of arguments I can share to prove how it was all a fabricated lie.

Vinod Rai Mafinama in Uttarakhand High Court.
Part 2 of the same Mafinama.

How pathetic Mr. Rai’s understanding of economics is can be gauged from the fact that he was made Chairman of IDFC and subsequently had to be thrown out. That whole lie was engineered to throw UPA out and it worked. There are and have been many such ‘coincidences’ happening over the last 8 years, parallel stories happening in India and UK.

This was just yesterday, about a year back Air India was given back to the Tatas, There was controversy about the ‘supposed auctions’ as only Indigo was the only other party allowed to be at auction but not allowed to buy but more as a spectator as they already have 60% of the Indian civil aviation market. And there was lot of cheering from the Govt. side that finally Air India has been bought home to its true owners, the Tatas. The Tatas too started cheering and sharing how they will take down all the workers, worker unions and everything will be happy glory within a year. In fact, just couple of days back they shared new plans. Btw for the takeover of Air India, they had bought loans from the Banks and they are in the category of too big to fail. As I have shared couple of times before, RBI has not shared any inspection reports of nationalized or private banks after 2013/14. While by law, RBI is supposed to do inspection reports every 3 months and share them in the Public domain. And if you ask any of their supporter, for everything they will say UPA did x or y, which only goes to show morally bankrupt the present Govt. is. Coming back to the topic, before I forget, the idea of sharing their plans is so that they can again borrow money from the banks.

But that is not the only story. Just one day back, Smita Prakash, one of the biggest cheerleaders of the present Govt. (she is the boss at Asia News International (ANI)) posted how Air India had treated her sister and other 21 passengers. Basically, they had bought business tickets but the whole cabin was dirty, they complained and they were forced to sit in economy class, not just her cousin sister but the other 21 odd passengers too. Of course Ms Smita became calm as her sister was given free air tickets on Vistara and other goodies. Of course, after that she didn’t post anything about the other 21 odd passengers after that. And yes, I understand she is supposed to be a reporter but as can be seen from the twitter thread, there is or was no follow up. Incidentally, she is one of many who has calling others about Revdi culture (freebies to the masses.) but guess that only applies to other people not her or her sister. Again, if there are any coincidences of similar nature in the UK or when Trump was P.M. of the U.S. they are just ‘coincidental’.

The Uncosted budget

India and the UK have many parallels, it’s mind boggling. Before we get into the nitty-gritties, saw something that would be of some interest to the people here.

For those who might not be able to see above, apparently there is place in UK called Tufton Street where there are quite a few organizations that are shadowy and whose finances are not known as to how they are financed. Ms. Truss and quite a few of the people in the cabinet are from the same shadowy organizations. Mr. Kwasi Kwarteng, the just-departed chancellor is and was part of the same group.

Now even for me it was a new term to learn and understand what is an uncosted budget is. To make it much more easier I share the example using a common person who goes to the bank for a loan –

Now M/S X wants a loan of say Rs. 1000/- for whatever reason. He/she/they go to the bank and asks give me a loan of say INR 1000/- The banks asks them to produce a statement of accounts to show what their financial position is. They produce a somewhat half-filled statement of accounts – In which all liabilities are shown, but incomes are not. The bank says you already have so much liabilities, how are you gonna pay those, accounts have to be matched otherwise you are not solvent. M/s X adamantly refuses to do any changes citing that they don’t need to.

At this point, M/s X credit rating goes down and nobody in the market will give them a loan. At the same time, the assets they had held, their value also depreciates because it became known that they can’t act responsibly. So whose to say whether or not M/s X has those number of assets and priced them accurately. But the drama doesn’t end there, M/s X says this is the responsibility of actually Mr. Z ( cue – The Bank of England) as they are my accountant/lawyer etc. M/s Z says as any lawyer/accountant should. This is not under my remit. If the clients either gives incomplete information or false information or whatever then it is their responsibility not mine. And in fact, the Chancellor is supposed to be the one who is given the responsibility of making the budget.

The Chancellor is very similar to our Finance Minister. Because the UK has constitutional monarchy, I am guessing the terms are slightly different, otherwise the functionality seems to be the same. For two weeks, there was lot of chaos, lot of pension funds lost quite a bit in the market and in the end Mr. Kwasi Kwarteng was ousted out of the job. Incredibly, the same media and newspapers who had praised Mr. Kwarteng just few weeks back as the best Tory budget, they couldn’t wait to bury him. And while I have attempted to simplify what happened, the best explanation of what has happened can be found in an article from the guardian. Speculation is rife in the UK as to who’s ruling atm as the new Chancellor has reversed almost all the policies that Ms. Truss had bought and she is now more or less a figurehead. Mr. Hunt, the new chancellor doesn’t have anybody behind him. Apparently, the gentleman wanted to throw his hat the ring in the Tory leadership contest that was held about a month back and he couldn’t get 20 MP’s to support him. Another thing that is different between UK and India is that in UK by law the PM has to answer questions put up to him or her by the opposition leaders. That is the way accountability is measured there. This is known as PMQ’s or Prime Minister Questions and Answers. One can just go to YouTube or any streaming service and give Liz Truss and PMQ’s and if they are interested of a certain date, give a date and they can see how she answered the questions thrown at her. Unfortunately, all she could do in both times were non-answers. In fact, the Tories seem to be using some of Labor’s policies after they had bad-mouthed the same policies. Politics of right-wing both in the UK and the US seems so out of touch with the people whom they are supposed to protect and administer. An article about cyclists which is sort of half-truth, half irony shows how screwed up the policies are of the RW (right-wing). Now they are questions about the pensions triple-lock. Sadly, it is the working class who would suffer the most, most of the rich have already moved their money abroad several years ago. The Financial Times, did share a video about how things have been unfolding –

Seems Ms. Truss forgot to add Financial Times in the list of anti-growth coalition she is so fond of. Also, the Tory party seems to want to create more tax havens in the UK and calling them investment zones. Of course, most of the top tax havens are situated around the UK itself. I wouldn’t go more into as that would probably require its own article, although most of that information is all in public domain.


I don’t really want to take much time as the blog post has become long. There have been many articles written why Fracking is bad and that is why even the Tories had put in their Manifesto that they won’t allow Fracking but apparently, today they are trying to reopen Fracking. And again how bad it is and can be found out by the article in Guardian.

Dowry, Racism, Railways


Few days back, had posted about the movie Raksha Bandhan and whatever I felt about it. Sadly, just couple of days back, somebody shared this link. Part of me was shocked and part of me was not. Couple of acquaintances of mine in the past had said the same thing for their daughters. And in such situations you are generally left speechless because you don’t know what the right thing to do is. If he has shared it with you being an outsider, how many times he must have told the same to their wife and daughters? And from what little I have gathered in life, many people have justified it on similar lines. And while the protests were there, sadly the book was not removed. Now if nurses are reading such literature, how their thought process might be forming, you can tell :(. And these are the ones whom we call for when we are sick and tired :(. And I have not taken into account how the girls/women themselves might be feeling. There are similar things in another country but probably not the same, nor the same motivations though although feeling helplessness in both would be a common thing.

But such statements are not alone. Another gentleman in slightly different context shared this as well –

The above is a statement shared in a book recommended for CTET (Central Teacher’s Eligibility Test that became mandatory to be taken as the RTE (Right To Education) Act came in.). The statement says “People from cold places are white, beautiful, well-built, healthy and wise. And people from hot places are black, irritable and of violent nature.”

Now while I can agree with one part of the statement that people residing in colder regions are more fair than others but there are loads of other factors that determine fairness or skin color/skin pigmentation. After a bit of search came to know that this and similar articulation have been made in an idea/work called ‘Environmental Determinism‘. Now if you look at that page, you would realize this was what colonialism is and was all about. The idea that the white man had god-given right to rule over others. Similarly, if you are fair, you can lord over others. Seems simplistic, but yet it has a powerful hold on many people in India. Forget the common man, this thinking is and was applicable to some of our better-known Freedom fighters. Pune’s own Bal Gangadhar Tilak – The Artic Home to the Vedas. It sort of talks about Aryans and how they invaded India and became settled here. I haven’t read or have access to the book so have to rely on third-party sources. The reason I’m sharing all this is that the right-wing has been doing this myth-making for sometime now and unless and until you put a light on it, it will continue to perpetuate 😦 . For those who have read this blog, do know that India is and has been in casteism from ever. They even took the fair comment and applied it to all Brahmins. According to them, all Brahmins are fair and hence have god-given right to lord over others. What is called the Eton boy’s network serves the same in this casteism. The only solution is those idea under limelight and investigate. To take the above, how does one prove that all fair people are wise and peaceful while all people black and brown are violent. If that is so, how does one count for Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson the list is probably endless. And not to forget that when Mahatma Gandhiji did his nonviolent movements either in India or in South Africa, both black and brown people in millions took part. Similar examples of Martin Luther King Jr. I know and read of so many non-violent civl movements that took place in the U.S. For e.g. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. So just based on these examples, one can conclude that at least the part about the fair having exclusive rights to being fair and noble is not correct.

Now as far as violence goes, while every race, every community has had done violence in the past or been a victim of the same. So no one is and can be blameless, although in light of the above statement, the question can argumentated as to who were the Vikings? Both popular imagination and serious history shares stories about Vikings. The Vikings were somewhat nomadic in nature even though they had permanent settlements but even then they went on raids, raped women, captured both men and women and sold them at slaves. So they are what pirates came to be, but not the kind Hollywood romanticizes about. Europe in itself has been a tale in conflict since time immemorial. It is only after the formation of EU that most of these countries stopped fighting each other From a historical point perspective, it is too new. So even the part of fair being non-violent dies in face of this evidence. I could go on but this is enough on that topic.

Railways and Industrial Action around the World.

While I have shared about Railways so many times on this blog, it continues to fascinate me that how people don’t understand the first things about Railways. For e.g. Railways is a natural monopoly. What that means is and you can look at all and any type of privatization around the world, you will see it is a monopoly. Unlike the road or Skies, Railways is and would always be limited by infrastructure and the ability to have new infrastructure. Unlike in road or Skies (even they have their limits) you cannot run train services on a whim. At any particular point in time, only a single train could and should occupy a stretch of Railway network. You could have more trains on one line, but then the likelihood of front or rear-end collisions becomes a real possibility. You also need all sorts of good and reliable communications, redundant infrastructure so if one thing fails then you have something in place. The reason being a single train can carry anywhere from 2000 to 5000 passengers or more. While this is true of Indian Railways, Railways around the world would probably have some sort of similar numbers.It is in this light that I share the below videos.

To be more precise, see the fuller video –

Now to give context to the recording above, Mike Lynch is the general secretary at RMT. For those who came in late, both UK and the U.S. have been threatened by railway strikes. And the reason for the strikes or threat of strikes is similar. Now from the company perspective, all they care is to invest less and make the most profits that can be given to equity shareholders. At the same time, they have freezed the salaries of railway workers for the last 3 years. While the politicians who were asking the questions, apparently gave themselves raise twice this year. They are asking them to negotiate at 8% while inflation in the UK has been 12.3% and projected to go higher. And it is not only the money. Since the 1980s when UK privatized the Railways, they stopped investing in the infrastructure. And that meant that the UK Railway infrastructure over period of time started getting behind and is even behind say Indian Railways which used to provide most bang for the buck. And Indian Railways is far from ideal. Ironically, most of the operators on UK are nationalized Railways of France, Germany etc. but after the hard Brexit, they too are mulling to cut their operations short, they have too 😦 There is also the EU Entry/Exit system that would come next year.

Why am I sharing about what is happening in UK Rail, because the Indian Government wants to follow the same thing, and fooling the public into saying we would do it better. What inevitably will happen is that ticket prices go up, people no longer use the service, the number of services go down and eventually they are cancelled. This has happened both in Indian Railways as well as Airlines. In fact, GOI just recently announced a credit scheme just a few days back to help Airlines stay afloat. I was chatting with a friend who had come down to Pune from Chennai and the round-trip cost him INR 15k/- on that single trip alone. We reminisced how a few years ago, 8 years to be precise, we could buy an Air ticket for 2.5k/- just a few days before the trip and did it. I remember doing/experiencing at least a dozen odd trips via air in the years before 2014. My friend used to come to Pune, almost every weekend because he could afford it, now he can’t do that. And these are people who are in the above 5-10% of the population. And this is not just in UK, but also in the United States. There is one big difference though, the U.S. is mainly a freight carrier while the UK Railway Operations are mostly passenger based. What was and is interesting that Scotland had to nationalize their services as they realized the Operators cannot or will not function when they were most needed. Most of the public even in the UK seem to want a nationalized rail service, at least their polls say so. So, it would definitely be interesting to see what happens in the UK next year.

In the end, I know I promised to share about books, but the above incidents have just been too fascinating to not just share the news but also share what I think about them. Free markets function good where there is competition, for example what is and has been happening in China for EV’s but not where you have natural monopolies. In all Railway privatization, you have to handover the area to one person, then they have no motivation. If you have multiple operators, then there would always be haggling as to who will run the train and at what time. In either scenario, it doesn’t work and raises prices while not delivering anything better 😦

I do take examples from UK because lot of things are India are still the legacy of the British. The whole civil department that was created in 1953 is/was a copy of the British civil department at that time and it is to this day.

P.S. – Just came to know that the UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was just sacked as UK Chancellor. I do commend Truss for facing the press even though she might be dumped a week later unlike our PM who hasn’t faced a single press conference in the last 8 odd years.

The difference in Indian and UK politics seems to be that the English are now asking questions while here in India, most people are still sleeping without a care in the world.

Another thing to note Minidebconf Palakkad is gonna happen 12-13th November 2022. I am probably not gonna go but would request everyone who wants to do something in free software to attend it. I am not sure whether I would be of any use like this and also when I get back, it would be an empty house. But for people young and old, who want to do anything with free/open source software it is a chance not to be missed. Registration of the same closes on 1st of November 2022. All the best, break a leg πŸ˜‰

Just read this, beautifully done.

Men, Women, and the state of the World

Before we start, I would suggest that people understand that the blog post would talk of some mature topics.

Raksha Bandhan

While I am or was supposed to share reviews of a couple of books but this would have to be stayed back, maybe would that over the weekend. A few days back saw ‘Raksha Bandhan‘. Sadly the movie flopped. The topic of the movie was dowry, a social evil that has taken millions of lives, especially of girls and women in my country. Akshay Kumar plays the role of Lala Kedarnath, a chaath seller who inherits it from his family that has been doing it for generations. The claim is whoever eats from his chaat would have a boy. That is not his claim but a myth or something people made over time. If one would have used probability or statistics, then it probably would have been 50:50 as nature would have its own balance. It is we who skewed the balance and did infanticide, selective abortion if it’s a girl child etc. etc. even though sex selection or sex determination is unlawful by law now. But those statements don’t even come in the movie. So anyways he has this chaat thing (for those thinking and seeing the video, it is poori, there are quite a few different types and you fill it with a combination of spices and veggies.) The gentleman has 4 unmarried sisters. The whole movie is about his struggle of getting his 4 sisters married. The first sister he is somehow able to get married by paying 17 lakhs where he has to mortgage his shop. He is under the belief that his sister is happy and is in the struggle to get the rest of his three sisters married.

A social activist comes and says that dowry is evil. He asks her how many daughters she has, and she says two. He says that’s why she has the thoughts she has. If she had two male children, her thinking would be different. This is somewhere they should have gone more but events overtake them. He literally sells one of his kidneys illegally so he can raise money for the remaining three sisters. He is still under the impression that his first sister is happy.

Suddenly, he gets the news that his sister is dead. While there is a Police investigation, one of the neighbors who is seeing from the balcony says that the husband used to beat her and demand more dowry. apparently, the husband wanted a fridge or a scooter or something.

In India, we have the custom of Raksha Bandhan where the sister ties a colorful thread and the brother gives her gifts and vows to protect her. On the day she is supposed to tie the rakhi, she is murdered :(. If you leave aside the movie for a moment, NCRB data shows that violence against women has only grown instead of coming down. Many might not have known that for the last two-three years the data has been incomplete or there is no data. If one were to drill down into the reports, they would be more shocking.

After the death of his sister, he goes through a sort of catharsis and vows that he would make his sisters so educated, so badass that people would line up to marry them and there would be no more dowry. Over a period of time, the three sisters did find their mates and he is able to marry his crush/lover but it pushes them to their 60s (Around Akshay’s real age.) While I liked the movie, I knew it would have flopped. The reason is simple, most people in my country believe in tradition. And anything that goes against that belief system has automatically flopped

After seeing the movie, I couldn’t literally sleep for the next couple of days as thoughts came swirling around. The laws are made by men and for men only. The 2012 Delhi Rape case, supposed to make changes didn’t make changes at all. Just recently, a young woman/girl was gang-raped and when she went to the police station to report the rape, the cop raped her too. An investigation did take place and the cop was found guilty and was suspended. Are a cop’s suspension and the dignity of a woman are same? In law, in justice, there is a concept called proportional punishment. Unfortunately, Indian law fails to follow them in implementation.

Just a few days ago, there was news about how the noted lawyer Indira Jaising is rudely addressed by her peers and judges alike. Ideally, she should have been one of the twelve Supreme Court Justices by now but has always been overlooked because she is fiercely independent and non-corruptible. As can be seen from her Wikipedia page she is passionate about fighting for women, and human and environmental rights, all of which is a big no-no in the present Government’s eyes. While she is more than capable of defending herself, most women aren’t. And yet, I see most women are not with her as well which is a shame 😦

Other countries, a similar Environment

It would be a mistake to think that it only happens in India. For e.g. a few weeks back, around my birthday a 22-year-old Iranian woman was murdered in a police lockup because she didn’t wear a hijab. That death intensified in protests and of course, the Iranian mainstream and conservative media and folks blamed it all on the US and Europe. The BBC has done a lot of reporting on it while in India there was virtually no reporting of the same. If you see the interviews of the Iranian cops that have been shared and the accused (later criminals) in the 2012 gang rape case, except for the words the tone, and the idea, everything is the same. The rapists did it because she was corrupting people, the cops killed her because she is corrupting other women. Not much change. While this would have played in the press, GOI didn’t want it as they were trying to mend fences with Iran and wanted cheap Iranian oil rather than the expensive American Oil that we have been importing. In fact, the U.S. sanctioned an Indian Company over an alleged Iranian Oil deal and that story was also killed in the press. Today, GOI holds the most power as to what news gets widely disseminated and what does not. Both of these would be another couple of topics that probably need their own article/blog post so will not venture further.

Now again, if we thought it was just up to Iran or Muslim states, nothing could be further from the truth. Bigotry knows no bounds. Whether it is the Haredim and Chassidic Jewish communities, the Duggar family, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, or Fundamentalist Baptists the list goes on and on. Imagine almost 50% of a country is against abortions due to whatever reason. Could you guess which country it is, if you guessed the United States of America, you guessed it right. It took me a while to understand why women voted against their own rights. The American right and the Indian right are similar in one way, both of them believe in conspiracy theories, that some recent research has shown may be an addictive disorder. And one side of the political spectrum does it more than the other. No prizes for guessing who.

I actually stopped listing as sooner or later it would involve all religions, the only difference would be in some degrees here or there. Indian mythology, for example, has most of the time shown women in a bad light. Even though Sita is blamed for her own abduction, victim blaming and victim shaming have a history in Indian mythology since the 4th century. In such a scenario, how have we changed?

Even in Parsis, there is a lot of conservation and quite a bit of in-breeding happens in them. There have been quite a bit of mental cases and their population has shrunk.

In almost all Asian Societies say Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Korea, etc., etc. in all these countries the population has been stagnant to failing. One of the reasons being they want to maintain the purity of the blood and they are failing because rearing a child is expensive in those countries.

Just last week came to know about this – In some Islamic societies require men to grow beards, apparently the sight of a smooth-cheeked man is apparently enough to invoke β€œimmoral thoughts” among other men.

I am probably going to update the blog post over the weekend as there are still a lot of thoughts going on still in my mind. Haven’t been able to sleep for the last two days because of these and similar thoughts, probably not even tonight, but maybe on the weekend when I’m not so disturbed. I am fully aware, this is nothing viz-a-vis the women who are literally going through hell at any point in time.

Update – Just came to know that the U.S. State Department has reduced its India Travel Advisory Level to 2 on a scale of 4 & asked its citizens to exercise increased caution while traveling to India due to crime & terrorism, it identifies rape as the fastest growing crime in India. This may partially be in response to a string of high-profile rape cases and the rapists who were not just freed but felicitated in the Bilkis Bano Rape case. While Jaishankhar would try some sort of feeble response, he can’t say much as his own sons are all working and situated in the U.S.