Options Vs Confusion

A Child’s life is truly simple. Far away from the daily mysteries and bothering. A child doesn’t know what’s rich and what’s poor. A child’s definition of tension or stress is the exam or homework next day. Or to score better than his own best friend. All parents want their children to be on number 1. Foolish parents don’t realize that there is only one number one.

As I watch my niece brushing and polishing her shoes for next days school with her heavy bag lying on the other side of the room. I get reminded of my childhood days. Days when life was too simple when most decision were made for you. Life was simple and that’s why it passed by so quickly.

Today’s life is complicated and I am going to highlight on one of the reasons why it is – It is the Options that one get. Option not to be confused with opportunity but rather a path one takes in the journey of life while standing at a cross road.

Today more options give us more confusion. I visited a restaurant yesterday and found only 3 items for soup, 4 items for starters, 4 times for main course and another 4-5 more other items. I really understood the philosophy behind it. They wanted to cut out the options part from them. These days the confusion is about the number of options we get. More options are not to simplify your choice but to only make it more confusing so that you stop to decide. It murders your ability to decide. It kills your opinion about something.

Marriage is another example. Arranged marriage people on an average wait almost a year to be finally fixed with someone and take a look at an average of 6-7 to be spouses until a perfect match is found. Why? Well, its the ultimate question of a getting a suitable life partner! What if one makes the wrong choice ?

On the other hand, Out of the marriages that don’t last long, most of them have a reason behind it as an availability of another choice. Don’t like someone? Don’t care about the society? Splitting is the answer. You can always find someone else to have an affair with!

Options make life more miserable. Ever gone for shopping? Why do we always pull a friend or comrade to go along. Because one is always confused and tends to a friend / comrade for assistance and buys their choice.

Its an irony that some generations back, when a particular option was forced on to you, you always objected it. And now, you very nicely pick up someone else’s choice and proudly announce claim it as FREEDOM!

Life is not about the amount of options you get. It shouldn’t matter what option you choose. But has your choice benefitted all?

Do you also feel that more opinions makes it more difficult to come to the right choice ? Do share your thoughts in the comments!

I love you, dadima! [Grandma]

Very few people in the world have the priviledge of spending time with their grandparents. I have never seen my grandfather but have seen him through the eyes of my grandmother whose talks reflect him and how she misses him. My grandfather died almost 30-35 years ago and I can just understand the pain my grandmother might have taken without him.

I adore my grandmother a lot. She is no doubt smarter than anyone of her 90+ age. Everytime I visit her I learn something new. A new angle to one of her stories. A new approach of telling things. Her memories, her pain, her happiness.. The stories never fall short. Time may run out but not the endless tales of her life. Its just amazing that she remembers so much so well.

I visit my grandmother every Sunday who lives with my uncle and his family. She waits for me and I wait for the day to visit her. I am glad that I am having this special bond with her. I am amazed every time with her sharp memory. She knows if I was early or late for the visit compared to last Sunday’s visit..She notices if I had come walking or on my bike. She notices what color are my clothes. She doesn’t like black and asks me to avoid it. She notices if I have shaved or not or if I have put on weight since last week. She knows everything and all this at her 90+ age! I am blessed. I wish I could stay with her for more.. I wish I could take care of her more..

Even with her 90+ age, she can write well. She knows many English words of daily use. She says ‘Fijja’ for Pizza and ‘Lijer’ for Geyser. But she knows how to communicate and does that well indeed. She understands everything right on the first explanation itself, there is no need to explain again. She remembers all her medicines and when they would be finished. Everything is well planned.

Her thoughts are surprisingly modern,  Even than my mother. Completely un-conservative. A very strong lady who has seen ups and downs of life from all angles throughout her life. Many a times she expresses grief of how the world treated her in the past. Of how ungrateful people have been to her. But she is never angry or discontent now, In fact all she wants now is a peaceful and satisfying death. A much noble want than most of our worldly desires.

With such modern thoughts, I have never met anyone else who would be so religious. She remembers almost 1/10 of the Holy Quran in her mind and her speed for recital can give a clergy an inferiority complex. Every 10 days she finishes reciting the whole Quran. Some people cannot finish this over a month even! The only grief she has is that from last two years she has not been able to keep her month long Ramadan fasts due to her health. She would have still kept the fasts even with her old age and health problems if the elders of the family had not refused !

Some years ago, I remember spending the 10th of Moharram with her. We are supposed to fast the entire day as its a day of sadness. My grandmother broke the fast at sunset but never ate there after. Most people of our age would conclude it as the end of the day and event of sadness. But she continued. She kept saying “My lord has died and how can I eat, I just don’t feel like”. This was really touching. There are many more tiny memories of her which cannot be expressed in words rather just to be enjoyed;

My Grandmother is one of the perfect grandmothers one can have. I regret the fact that I want to do more for her and the time I we didn’t spend together which I am slowly trying to make up… I love you, dadima! [grandmother]

Life of a Vegetarian Muslim

“Muslim and A Vegetarian ? How can it be? ” This is the only question I face every time I eat out with a new person. I am a practicing Muslim and a Pure Vegetarian. Everyone has a general conception that all muslims are Meat lovers. Its true. The society that I live in doesn’t have the word ‘Vegetarian’ in their dictionary. A meal without meat or chicken in any ceremony would be nothing but low quality and cheap. A society which considers it holy to consume meat. A society where a child is a meat eater every single day of the week. He/she would go hungry on a day when vegetables would have been cooked. And I was no different. I grew up in this society.

I can say that I have consumed meat like no one else. I went hungry on days my mother cooked vegetables and expressed extreme anger on her for doing so. I used to coax her for not taking care of me. Then I used to rush to a near by restaurant to grab minced meat and bread. It was my favorite. I still smell the same Arabian/Mughalai Minced meat when I pass by that restaurant. I consumed meat for the first 16 years of my life and then I quit.

People taunted me with various fallacies, primarily one which I still get from others : “You’re not even a muslim if you don’t eat meat once in 40 days.”. That hurt sometime, but I ignored. At some point it made me feel that I was committing a sin. I only knew that I may be different and may not be right, but I wasn’t wrong and not a sinner. I am a strong believer of God, the one and only one God. This fact is enough for me to still call myself a Muslim.

I had no reasons to quit meat eating, but something happened when there was a Goat sacrifice in our house on the day of Eid-uz-Zoha. Hours after the Goat was sacrificed, I saw the raw meat on the plate still shivering. As if it still had life in it. Islamic way of sacrifice is no doubt the most scientific method of killing with minimal pain, but I just couldn’t tolerate the view of the pieces of meat shivering in front of my eyes. Some more hours passed by, the meat was cooked -A fantastic dish was served. I just couldn’t consume it. I didn’t see any physical movement on the cooked meat but could feel the shivering. I just couldn’t consume that meat.

It is said that before any sacrifice, the animal comes to know that its going to be sacrificed.  It has already given up the hope. The animal stops eating from the night before. I have seen in the animal’s eyes. Its deep. Its dark. Its scared. When the time comes there is a ceremony in which the animal should drink a few gulps of water just before the knife is rubbed against the skin. This is the most difficult part. The animal refuses to drink the last drink. Just to extend its life for a few more minutes. And when the animal is forced to drink, just when the water reaches its throat, the slaughter begins with prayers. I shall not go into the details of the processes involved in slaughtering. But its all these hurt me more than anything else in the world. The sight is too frightful for me.

Most Islamic clergymen would outcast me or have a Fatwa on me if I said that every time I see a dead animal, I recite the prayers which muslims recite when they come across death of any human. Such is my faith.

At this point, I must confess that I am a food lover; I live to eat rather than eat to live; During my days of Vegetarianism since the age of 16, the most supportive people are my parents, Specially my mother. I take the opportunity to publicly thank her for all the trouble she has taken to cook separately for me Pure Vegetarian food. I may not trust a veg restaurant, but I would trust her that no matter what, she would cook vegetarian food for me where even a single spoon of Oil wouldn’t be shared between their non-veg cooking and my veg cooking.

I am mostly cut from my cultural foodie events. I do not go because the food is non-veg, and no one is that caring enough (except family) to prepare veg food for me. I don’t expect them to understand either.

Once in a blue moon, my parents would casually say to me “Why don’t you start eating for a change?”. I just chuckle.

I don’t force anyone to be a vegetarian though I advocate it. I never win and neither they lose. They respect my vegetarianism because I am not doing anything against the religion or against Islam. Just like any other ‘ideal’ muslim, I pray daily prayers, I don’t indulge in Usury or Interest on money, I offer charity, I don’t gamble, drink, smoke and most importantly, I believe that there is no god, but God. These are the basic pillars of Islam and I don’t think I am breaking them.

Its time when people should know the fact that in the Holy Quran, it is mentioned that one may eat permissible non-vegetarian food, for God has created animals for human consumption but it is not compulsory. It is also mentioned that Animals such as Pig and Pork meat is strictly prohibited (It has a scientific reason). A muslim can be a good practicing muslim by being a Vegetarian.

Shame on you, NIC (National Informatics Center)!

If you’re the one who is working with NIC, this post is for you. Please help me in knowing how you got recruited there?

I don’t mean to sound rude or bad or foul but I am ashamed of myself to see NIC guys who represent national level Information Technology system come up with such downgraded websites which even my 10-year old neice would design with just common sense.

In my previous posts about Rediff and Bank of India, I have taken out their faults. But for your site, Its just not worth the efforts.

Either you guys don’t get paid well, or you don’t have the technical skills, or you’re the wrong person to represent the country’s Infomatic center. Shame on you guys! You read me? SHAME ON YOU.

Just take a look at the site you guys have put on (Click to enlarge)

Link: http://gurgaon.nic.in/edisha.htm

You call this a web site? A web portal ? Its nothing but a mere shame on the country. I am not just ashamed of you but I am angered. There are so many jobless people who can do much better than that. So the only question I come accross is How the hell do you get recruited in NIC?

Guys, Please take your job seriously. Don’t fool around. If you think you’re not suitable for the job, just quit and do something else. Take this as a piece of advice from an elder brother – With great power comes great responsibility.

Please guys, don’t bring a shame to the country. Code well, check out standards, Internet is a boon, take advantage from it. Read well, implement well. Please bring quality. Don’t run the Informatic Center like just another government office with lazy attitude.


Now I should start thinking how the UUID project’s infrastructure, technology and output will turn out to be?

Will thousands of crores of rupees be wasted on another set of Idiots like above?

An open letter to Bank of India : Are you bothered about your users?

Bank of India has launched its yet another terribly ‘faltoo’ service. This time its a software! There are no more browser based services available after March 18th 2010. I am not surprised but rather annoyed at the foolishness these people carryout sometimes always.

1. It works only on Windows. I gave up windows due to virus & security reasons. I am now on Macintosh. I can’t use any of Bank Of India’s online services. So its a waste for me. There are 20% people like me who are using non-windows operating system.

2. There is not much information about the digital security. The first time I use star token it asks for a PIN. How can I confirm that the information is going out securely from my system? It is not mentioned anywhere on the website.

When we install it says Publisher is Uniken Systems Pvt. Ltd. : Who is this Uniken Systems? How many of you know these guys? How does a lay man know about it? Should Bank of India website give some instructions for this?

Its ok to have a vendor do certification for you. But where is the information passed to the users ?

3. The first time Bank of India has mailed a secret PIN number to all their customers.(note the huge postal cost). What If I format my windows? I have to re-install the Star Token which will demand an authentication PIN which is mailed to me via post. It appears that this pin is usable only once! I am stuck! Help me!

4. Not sure if Bank of India thinks long term or not. According to a news, Microsoft windows will be shipped with an option of NOT having Internet Explorer. How will you guys deal with this? The software is heavily dependent on embedded Internet explorer control(Not just heavily, but rather say fully dependent!) which internally connects to BOI website! I am sure the software was heavily invested product. An unplanned investment. Any Answers BOI?

5. The software’s usability is very annoying. It blocks the entire screen. This means I can use only and only one program at a time. I am not sure if it has been tested with other intrusion detection / anti virus programs. Technically speaking, when the program requests for a full screen hook blocking other program, its a virus like activity for many anti-virus programs unless you add a exception to it.  Have you tested it BOI?

6. The whole idea of Internet Banking is ruined. This particular software restricts me to use the services from ONLY and ONLY 1) Windows AND 2) Internet Explorer AND 3) Only single Application at a time as it disallows me to use any other program at other time. I am not sure how this will work with ONLINE payment gateways!

7. According to a news report, French and German government has officially asked everyone *NOT* to use Internet explorer. Indian govt systems were compromised due to usage of Internet Explorer. Time and again it has been proved that Internet Explorer has been more vulnerable towards attack than any other browser/system. Why so much dependency on a single browser and racism towards other browsers? Isn’t Bank of India technically capable of providing services to another operating system?

8. Most of the Internet explorers in *India* are A) IE 6.0 and IE 7.0. Out of them 90% are default with their operating system which are *NEVER* patched to the current security level which Microsoft has to offer. There is always a threat of hackers using existing loopholes in the system.

With this step Bank Of India may publicize that it has added an extra level of security with all these hassles and restrictions, I rather use my old banking way of depositing a cheque/ draft than using such system. Or may be just close an account with them. They don’t care a damn for a single person! Do you BOI?

Security doesn’t mean you will narrow down options for users. It rather means you have to narrow down Hacker’s options and attempts to break into the system.

And yes, its not the end of the world. There are other banks which provide higher and secured system without A) annoying the user or B) Restricting the user for a particular operating system which has time and again proved to be more vulnerable than other operating systems. Any comments on this one, BOI?

Why does Bank of India invest in padding up existing technology and not open to newer options and not giving a though that ultimately the service is going to be used by end users! If you be evil to the the end users and they aren’t happy, it will be inevitable that sooner or later they will close an account with you.. !

Bank of India, I am not going to close the account with you immediately(But with such ‘funny’ services, I will soon). But yes, Its my humble appeal, Please employ better brains to put up a better security system which is easy and user friendly.

10 things I hate about India

India is my country and I love my country like any other foreign national. And this gives me right to criticize about the things I hate most about it.

1. People spitting on road: I just hate it. I am a biker and I cannot go near a bus. You’ll find people spitting out from the window of the bus and that too without looking if someone is down below. People spit on the road, corners of a building staircase, they empty their nose and stick the material on the walls and practically any place where they don’t find another person’s spit.

2. Getting the garbage out of your property only :  In India people keep their houses clean by dirtying their neighbor’s. It takes enormous amount of effort to just throw your garbage at the right place. Instead people just push it to the place which is out of their property and jurisdiction – To their neighbor’s land. Use of plastic and paper in daily lives has increased the garbage to another level, Not to mention that there isn’t a good recycling system, but all this just spreads out on the streets, sewage or some remote area which contributes to a very bad smell everywhere around the place.

3. Bribe: One may have heard about politicians being corrupted, but corruption at local level is also very common. Giving bribe is very common. Without bribe or tip money, its not that your work wont get done, but definitely not smoothly. Everyone takes a bribe or commission in whatever manner they may get the opportunity for. The term ‘chai-pani’ or tea-snacks is quite famous which means some tip for snacks or sweets. Even after paying service charges + service tax , a person would ask for ‘chai-pani’.

4. Unnecessary Wastage: What’s the point in cooking for 10 dishes for a family invited over for dinner. Answer: Show off. This results in a major wastage of food, decoration. Lavish marriages, Lavish apartments, Lavish use of Petrol & energy and everything. Its like “Have money, will spend it”.

5. Media & Controversies: Media plays very important role to destroy the real meaning of news. Some news channels present news in a manner which we call “Masala” or spice which just increases viewer’s attention and not awareness. Political controversies, Celebrity controversies juices up everything which is just unnecessary!

6. Traffic. : Everyone in India is in a hurry. Pedestrians and vehicle owners share the same area of road. Foot paths are for Hawkers selling things on road right from junk computer hardware to cheapest food. Traffic congestion is everywhere.

7. Attitude of people and Competition: In India people compete with each other forgetting the common goal. They keep fighting for their own self meaning rather than achieving a common goal. Everyone has a lazy attitude, until poked by higher authorities they don’t start working or improving things on their own. Laziness among the people doesn’t allow them to be creative and even make others lazy. One dirty fish in the pool makes the entire pool dirty.

8. Caste system and Reservations: Everything in India has caste systems, there is hidden discrimination everywhere. I just hate it when a job is denied to a person just because he may be from another state or another culture. I hate it even more when people treat each other as outcast if one is from separate state. They forget that they are from the same country afterall.

9. Reuse until death. The mentality of people in India is to re-use everything until its final death. A new shirt will be a shirt for a year,  A second hand shirt for a poor guy. Then a dusting cloth for a few months, then a further degraded cleaning cloth for a few months and finally it will end up as a unusable rag. I am ok until the last part. The cloth has finally lost all its recyclable value and ends up as a dead end.

10. Cheapest bargain: Indian’s want to get the best deals from the shop owners. They bargain to the level where in a shop owner will have no profit margins. There are something which can’t be bargained and Indian’s will bargain on that as well. Bargaining is good, but the thing I hate most is that’s its not equal. A shop owner may slaughter a newcomer customer with a sticker shock because some previous customer gave him the least profit margin of the day!

But alas, India is pretty pretty better place to live in comparing its neighborhoods… 🙂

Best friend’s wedding

You know you’re someone’s best friend when you goto to that person’s wedding and everyone knows you! And for those who don’t, you’re introduced as a very special member with words like ‘Hey, Meet my best friend”, and their family members as “Meet him, he is bride/groom’s closest friend”

I had this experience yesterday when such friendly love was bestowed upon me by my friend’s family members. I felt like a family member. Simple yet meaning words like ‘closest’ and ‘best’ carry a very special meaning for me as I don’t get to hear this a lot.

Yesterday I understood how much happiness I’ve given my friend by being present on her wedding. And the same on my side to have received such warm gift of being special. I was too excited that she is getting married with a guy who will take care of her no matter what! Its not everyday you get this but its a life time opportunity.

My friend had an inter-caste marriage at a mosque(she being a muslim) and a church(groom being a christian) on the same day. The Boy converted to Islam and she converted to Christianity. Very rare in India and I’m quite lucky to have witnessed both in front of my eyes.

When I was leaving the reception she said to me “and you know the best part is that you attended all the events in the mosque and the church and finally here at the reception party! “. I enjoyed this wedding more than any other social events.

I wish the lovely couple my heartiest congratulations and may they enjoy lives and fulfill their dream.

Welcoming 2010

2009 was indeed a good year. Made good money, spent good money and it was all worth it. Made a lot of serious decisions. Gained a lot of experiences.
My 2009 resolution was to travel a lot as I’d not traveled anywhere in 2008. And so I ended up visiting 10 countries which include China, UK, US, France, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium & Germany.

I plan to get the following things done in 2010.
Travel – Plan to travel on a pilgrim to places around Iraq, especially Karbala. Hopefully take my grandmother along.
Social – Be more Social. I will try 😉
Donate – 10% of all profits and income shall be donated in Charity.
Renounce – I plan to renounce all income which involves interest on money or bonds. Banks are unavoidable, Plan to distribute interest earned in Charity.
Reduce – Shell of some extra pounds. This is my resolution every year!
Re-gain – Try to regain old friendship with lost friends.
Expand – Expand like always 🙂
Spend – I plan to spend and invest like before.
Marriage – Yes, Lets keep our fingers crossed!

Besides I have a big wish-list like always!

So wish you all a very pleasant 2010 with lots of prosperity and solace! Shalom!