Monday, November 8, 2010

A Single Autumn by W.S. Merwin

Friday, November 5, 2010

President Obama's Asia Trip

India prepares for the big trip
"What happens when the first citizen from the country of 9/11 visits the country of 26/11 (terrorist attack in Mumbai on Nov. 26, 2008)that too during Diwali?" Asks Anandabazaar Patrika, one of India's oldest and trustiest newspapers, in its report of President Obama's impending visit to India. It provided the answer, too: "The city having lost much of its natural luster seems withdrawn. Naturally, since the last two years, the month of November is the time to get back to terror, bewilderment and lack of security. But now it seems that the same things are demonstrated to us more severely!"

Needless to say that many Indians, just like Americans here, are looking at this high-profile trip with intimidation. And the top-notch security measures that are being taken to ensure the safety of the first family are to Indians something that fairytales are made on. Never have they seen such rigorous a net of security in their country, and never have they imagined that the Brobdingnagian American touch could come straight out of its Hollywood package and poke their six-penny average lives directly. To a typical Indian America is a seven star hotel complete with luxury suites and dreamy comfort, and seeing that luxury first-hand inspires awe and fear in them. And when one is awed you cannot blame him for mangling a bit with the facts. It so happened that a certain "unnamed source" in India has added a couple of extra zeroes to the cost of the presidential trip, and that is where the problem started creating a tsunami of controversy and further staining the already stained reputation of the President. The cost of the Asia trip is reported at being an astounding 200 million dollars per daya sum so big that the Obama critics have lost their sleep over it. They are pointing to the ailing American economy and how it could recuperate from the sum the President would be wasting in this trip. However, I think the Obama critics will find their lost peace if they simply replace the USD in the 200 million with the Indian currency code INR. Two hundred million Indian rupees is equivalent to approximately 4.5 million US dollars, and that is the average cost of a presidential trip abroad according to this Anderson Cooper report: A Bill Clinton visit to six countries in Africa in 1998 cost up to $42.8 million. His trip to Chile and China came in with price-tags of $10.5 million and $18.8 million respectively. So, judging by these available facts we can safely deduce that the Obama visit would cost somewhere around $50 million. Of course, with India having always been a soft target for the terrorists in the past, the onus of securing every corner of the country to ensure the President and his family's safety cannot be overlooked. But even then, the mind-boggling $200 million a day does sound rather out of proportion. I wonder if all this was the upshot of some slight misunderstanding: a result of a seemingly un-factual statement amplified erroneously by media that is too peeped by the hotness of the report to even fact-check the statement. Hence, I completely agree with Anderson Cooper when he says that there are many ways to criticize our President, and the comically inflated and clearly over-the-top Asia-trip bill is not one of them.

P.S. Picture from the web.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Two prodigal souls

You were there when life unfolded its petals for the first time
To steal the first light from the dawn of my youth
We lost a step and it was fun
Two prodigal souls united during one weary journey.
And then like all songs come to an end
Ours came to a stop too
But we remembered the misplaced notes
And played it again and again; never getting over it.
Suddenly life has become so complicated now,
And in it our song is lost, gone and buried under rotten earth
Worn down by the piles of experience
But our prodigal souls brandish unabashed tenderness
Between the reality of it all our fakes reek with freshness.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Girls who make passes do wear glasses"--the God AKA Tina Fey!

As the spirit of Diwali gets ready to soft-touch your heart, why not celebrate the new year with a gift of Tina Fey's 2011 swimsuit calender. For a sneak preview check out :

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tea Party Conservatism: Boy it's creepy!

It is a scary world out there with Right-Wing Conservatives using all it takes to get one "Square Deal" which in their case involves certain wise, yet clichéd, goals: taking fiscal responsibility, promoting free market policies, having a constitutionally restricted government. As the Midterm election season head to a closeout sale, we see more and more of the Right-Wing ranting projected in the big screen of politics. Having grabbed the undivided attention of worn-out and disheartened voters that are tired of the incumbent government's administrative policies, the Tea Party Conservatives have left no stones unturned in promoting their seemingly idiosyncratic albeit highly attractive plan of "Taking Back" the government and rebuilding the nation based on conservative terms.

Demanding a revolutionary face-off with the Democrats, the Tea Party gang have time-traveled the whole nation peppering crowds with fantasy-filled Utopic vision of perfection in near future. They have managed to evolve a common narrative that places the average Joe under the protagonist spotlight. Undoubtedly, such a new-kind of revolutionary fervor has given exasperated Americans a ground to share their common worries uniting a fairly sizeable chunk of average Americans under one blue umbrella of fantasy fiction.

The Rino (Republican in Name Only) hunting conservatives have managed to create a scary polarization not only in their own party, but also around the nation. Through several intimidating campaign ads such as "Repent or perish"  the Tea Party conformists are sending a clear signal to the people that change in coming and it ain't a joy-ride. The conservative moralizing and the insanity, the upraising of mindless Islamophobia together with the amplification of non-existing problems have given an active section of the Tea Partiers the radical look. The selfish tendencies of such speakers as Glenn Beck and Rick Santelli are deepening the already evident schism in the nation.  Think of thyself and not thy neighbor is what I hear when I read Rick Santelli's remark: “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” 

Having laid a preliminary spadework of the inner workings of the Tea Party system, let us now talk a bit about the points of action the revolutionary Tea Party compatriots have put forward. They have blamed the present government for its failures and have projected a pinhole vision of change that may look unique, but lacks serious structure. They seem to know the basic things that need to change in the government, but do they have any solid point-to-point mapping of how to put ideas into action? They seem to have all the emotions and ranting, but do they have facts? Most of the Tea Party principles and their big idea of a big change sound as romantic and as fantastic as Obama's grand oratory -- good to listen to, but seriously lacking in solid content. I wonder then how the two are different, the ideology of the resurrection of the country, that is. In many cases, both sound a lot similar, just that they are marketed by different companies. And talking about marketing strategy, I wonder if it isn’t a mark of hypocrisy on the part of Glenn Beck -- the Tea Party ideologue-- who on one hand writes a book called "Broke" and is apparently worried about restoring the "treasure" of the country, while on the other goes ahead and promotes as outrageous a company as "Food Insurance" that demands a mind-boggling $ 9,599.99 for a kit of emergency food that might come in handy if the world is attacked by aliens!

Glenn Beck's book: Broke: The Plan To Restore Our Trust, Truth And Treasure

With the rise of 18th century conservatism in American politics, America's longtime exposé as a land providing fair opportunities for the growth and development of talents is losing much of his flair. America seems to be losing track of its founding principles in this mindless conservatism and caterwauling that we are seeing around us.

As a non-American staying in this country, I have often considered America and its citizens as paragons of progressive ideas; as people who have the ability to think out of the box. But the daunting marginalization, the rise of racism and anti-gay invective that I see around me is making me feel that with every passing day this once glorious nation is turning to a slugabed that gives more importance to the trivial fetishes of a purblind section of the society. Tell me what facts back an outrageous a threat as "terror babies" or Tea Party patriot Sharron Angle's unprecedented claims in her ""The Wave" ad? Has America been reduced to such an unthinking puppet that it will digest anything and everything that a group of pseudo-intellectuals would throw at her?

To tell you the truth, a great number of average Americans are actually getting tired of these  hard-core conservatives; may be that is why they are turning to comic-heroes like Colbert or Jon Stewart for their daily dose of news headlines. Indeed, it is better to have your news delivered with a topping of humor than a peppering of un-factual, idiotic claims from people who believe they would take back the country from wrong hands, yet they themselves are part of a keyhole culture that plays only with the cards of fear mongering and discrimination.
   Funny Men Speak: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the Washington Mall 

In conclusion, we can say that radicalization and fear-mongering can never beget good results. The Tea Party conservatives may have embarked on their goal of re-vamping America with a fair notion, but they have soiled their founding principles with so much dirt and grime that they seriously need to have a thorough appraisal of their ideologies before they go ahead any longer. 

P.S. Those of you who want to check out the blog on CNN i-Report, please go to:

Fall Shines on Monday: A beautiful poem by Cindy Gregg


by Cindy Gregg

On this first day of November
it is cold as a cave,
the sky the color
of neutral third parties.
I am cutting carrots
for the chicken soup.
Knife against carrot
again and again
sends a plop of pennies
into the pan.
These cents,
when held to the gray light,
hold no noble president,
only stills
of some kaleidoscope
caught being pensive...
and beautiful,
in the eye of this beholder,
who did not expect
this moment of marvel
while making an early supper
for the hungry children.

"Monday" by Cindy Gregg, from Suddenly Autumn. © Wordplay Press, 2010.