09 July, 2015

Lakeside living in Essel Towers Gurgaon

Like many other apartment blocks in Gurgaon, we woke up to find that there has been around 20mm (or some such number which is not alarming at all) of rain overnight.

Essel Tower Central Pier

Essel Tower Central Canal

The sad thing is that this happens every year in Gurgaon and in many other cities of India. It is even worse that a lot of this happens in the newer parts of town - the so-called 'planned extensions' of a city, which are always parts of a masterplan.

Gurgaon Manesar 2031 plan

Take a look at this plan - there are no rivers or canals here. There is no thought given to natural drainage. The idea probably s to budget for manmade drainage and not build it and pocket the money. Or, there is no idea.  I work for myself. A lot of my capabilities are channeled towards creating maximum possible money for myself - whether I do a good job or not is debatable. I think that government officials (Especially the Urban development variety) are experts at this skill.

Gurgaon is new - there are parts of Gurgaon which were farms less than 5 years ago. New or old does not matter really when it comes to incompetence of town planners or the indifference of town dwellers. No matter which part of such cities does one live in, we all go through this every year in the monsoons and do not really do anything about it.

For a country and a media which does not tire of aggrandizing itself ("India's PM has a 56" chest, Indian origin kid wins spelling bee, Granada now supports India's bid for UNSC permanence and so on), we should all hang our heads in shame.

03 July, 2015


She turned one this week. And it was a very happy occasion. It was made special by so many people and so many big and small things. I want to record as many of them as I have already started forgetting...
All except T2 part 1

All except S2 part 2
So many who  care about T2 the most were present (the only exception was her Mama who wasn't here so that everyone else from Ranchi could be) - both sets of Grandparents, her Aunts and her Bhaiyas. So many of our friends - school, college, neighbours, childhood Uncles and Aunties turned up on a Tuesday evening to grace the occasion.
All my life party
There were quite a few who have known me all my life and I am 35 years old now.
I was thinking back of a time 5 years ago when S and I had started off on our life together when a similar gathering had taken place. And yes, also when S2 turned 1. S2 and T2 are the latest additions to this family. Further growth will come through husabnds and kids M and K. Eagerly awaited.
T2 - she is quite something.
There is a healthy, happy and well-developed head on those small shoulders - no question

She does not speak yet. But no one misses that. She puts forth her needs, wants, demands and expresses joy, satisfaction, disapproval and anger with murmurs and smiles and pointed fingers and short cries. An entire range of emotion  expressed with ease and confidence that speech seems overrated and at times, inadequate.

She is growing up so fast. S and I have talk about how much we will miss this time when she grows up. I want this time to pass slowly. Even though some times I cry out in frustration, I want time to slow down. I will not remember all the small things that they do – the first words, the baby talk, the walking and falling and the smiling.
[Ah the smiles. I think that adults, even when they are delirious with happiness, can not smile the way children do. I think that is because a child has not ever held back an emotion. Adults have their emotional pathways polluted  - holding back, distracted are just some of the things an adult does.]. If as a parent, I had to do anything differently, I would create a few hundred hours of video for S2 and the same for T2
T2 also enjoyed this birthday - S2 was not moving as confidently on his feet on his first. Not T2, she walked, moved, fell, crawled, played, was picked up, asked to be picked up, asked to be left alone and so on. She also pulled out gift wrappers, punched balloons, grabbed at gifts and food and had a few bites of the birthday cake. She happily held the knife for cutting the cake. The one time when T2 was a bit shaken and out of it was when everyone started singing 'Happy Birthday'. It was loud and unexpected and T2 was surprised for a bit. It did not lead to any crying - that's not her style.
Both of them are growing so fast - pictured below with my mother, who misses them the most!

T2's world

As a parent, I want to fill her life with hope and happiness. I want to her to also respect her environment and be conscious of the implications of her actions and inaction. I want her to read well and get through an Ivy League MBA as well, so that she can settle in Canada (given today’s world and weather) or the Sahara (who knows what will happen with the world and weather in 20 years).With the kids and the kind of random crime that we read about in the papers every day, I wish that I had not come back from the UK. Definitely a better life.
T2’s world is a world which is very strange. There are all kinds of bad things happening – global warming and climate change; wars for religion
and wars for water. There is a case to be made that some of the conflict the world has today is because of climate change. I feel sad that the world T2 and S2 will grow up will be a worse place than what it was when I was growing up. It will be hotter , with more extreme weather, richer but very unequal, healthier but with an accelerating species extinction rate and lesser forests .
We have no one else to blame as we hurtle down this path but remain deliriously happy in our little lives.

01 April, 2015

Time flies. Too fast.

Dear S2,

This is my first blog post for you. In the time that I have managed to complete writing this, you already have a sister and are now 32 months old. As you can probably immediately realise (and even correlate), I am a somewhat laidback and lazy person.

It is going to be tough for me to organise my thoughts while writing this. The reasons for it are many

1) This post is long overdue. I should have written a few to you by now, but have not been able to do so. There are so many things I want to tell you.

2) There are so many things I just want to write down to remind me of your antics many years later.Apart from being a letter to you, this post is also a diary entry for me. Your mother, as usual, has been more organised and has already written a few dozen pages about you.

It is hard to describe how a father feels towards a son. It is an ever-changing cocktail ofjoy, responsibility, fear and pride in varying proportions mixed with love and sometimes even irritation. This description is bad literature and also pointless. Pointless because there are so many things that you will understand only when you become a father. I can write and try to explain this roller-coaster of feelings in a few pages. But, you will begin to understand this only when your child is born. That is what happened to me.

You fill me with love and take away all my worries.

You have taught so many things to me.

You have made me value my parents so much more. It is only now that I realise some of their sacrifices - not because I am doing anything of that sort for you, but because I am now placed in the right frame of mind. It is not that I have been a thankless child. Quite the opposite, actually.

You are growing too soon. I see your photos from the past two years and miss the younger you. I also rue the fact that the 2.5 year old will be replaced by a bumbling teenager and then by a young man. Such is life. No one can possibly miss the childhood of kids more than their parents - another something which I understand about my parents because of you.

A child is a big responsibility. I hope to live up to the responsibility and am so thankful for sharing yours with your mother. At the same time,  I worry for not being able to do as much as is required. It is probably the first time that I look at better-to-do friends and acquaintances with a tinge of jealousy as I want to give only the best to you. I regret leaving the UK and coming back because the UK would have been a better place for you.

A child is the catalyst which converts an adult into a mature adult. It is not a sudden process and it is far from over in my case, but I hope it will be by the time you are old enough to know the difference.

20 April, 2013

The Rapes in Delhi

Or anywhere else in India in this matter. Over and over, what I see common to each stream is this -

The perpetrators think that they can get away with it.

It can be based on a long list of reasons:

  1. They have seen others who have gotten away with it. 
  2. They have been bought up on a diet of male supremacy and lack of respect for women. They think that there is even some kind of social acceptance for such acts and that they will get tacit support from their family and friends. Say hello to the Rape capital of the cow belt, where the sex ratio is alarmingly low (albeit increasing).
  3. They have seen women accept bad treatment meted out to them by their in-laws, cousins, fathers, mothers and anyone else. They have seen a broad social acceptance and encouragement of such treatment. Also, as men, they have seen first hand that  young boys and men are given preferential treatment and encouragement for behaving badly with women.They are just taking this bad behaviour to another level. It is almost no coincidence that the entire gang of the December 16th rape were upper caste, where the caste system, while ensuring high status for the men has ensured worse status for women. 
  4. Police action or the lack of it - action only if there is political pressure, which happens only if there is a media outcry. The numbers are in their favour.
Probability of court case
P (victim deciding to report the action) x P (victim securing family support)  x P (Police registering complaint) x P ( Police finding accused and booking him)

If at each stage, 50% is the probability, then only 6% of accused will have a case filed against them.

The probability of a conviction is even lower.  This low rate of action is probably what is causing point number 1 above.

There is no easy fix for 2 and 3. However, political will can fix 4 (I might be naive in assuming so, but I am an optimist). What remains to be seen is whether there is political will. Ever since the case on 16th December and the public outcry over it, the government made the right noises. But noises they remained. The police will not change overnight. But government will can, which it has not and that is the cause of the complete lack of change and public apathy in the police services. Sure, they are overstretched, but then in real life, every one is.
(to be continued)