Small Talk

About me
A bachelor living in Delhi, a city he loves and loathes, documents his experiences on this page. He is erratic, opinionated and lazy, loves his women, wine and song - what more do you need to know?

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Living in India

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Thursday, August 12
I have moved...

...again! Here's my new blog...

Posted at 8/12/2004 6:33:14 am by Ranjan
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Monday, June 21
Eureka! (Update)

When I was 18, and in love for the first and only time, I recorded this song back-to-back on a 90 min tape and gave it to the girl I presumably loved. Things people do when their minds become dysfunctional!

In no time I forgot the girl and forgot about this song. 12 years down, last month, after I got a mail from my lost 'sweetheart' (who is now married with 2 kids!), I could remember the tune but did not recollect any words or who the singer was. This bothered me as I kept on humming the melody without any words to accompany it. Thanks to Google, I tracked the track down and here it is...

Why must you disappear
Why must you go, when I need you here with me
Don't you know how much I love you
And why must you say goodbye
Once you saved my life, now you're leaving me to die girl
Don't you know how much I love you
You give me just enough to keep me hoping
Enough to make me forget the promises you've broken
Ooooh..why must you come around
Just to pick me up so you can watch me hit the ground girl
Don't you know how much I love you
Don't you know...know..don't you know..know..
Don't you know...know...don't you know..know
Don't you know..don't you know ...don't you know how much I love you
You give me just enough to keep me hoping
Enough to make me forget the promises you've broken
How long must this go on I'm so far gone
I'm on my knees now baby
Don't you know how much I love you, don't you know how much I love you
Don't you know how much I love you
Don't you know..know, Don't you know..know...don't you know... know
Don't you know..don't you know ...don't you know how much I love you

Posted at 6/21/2004 2:34:26 pm by Ranjan
Comments (8)  

Saturday, June 19
To exile and back...

After being in a self-imposed exile for exactly a month, I am back to blogging. Thank you to all who cared enough to drop in...

Posted at 6/19/2004 2:48:24 pm by Ranjan
Comments (2)  

Wednesday, May 19
One winner and the losers...


Sonia Gandhi
: She has acquitted herself quite well by declining the PMship of India. Whatever be her reasons (security concerns, fear of failure or threats by anti-Sonia brigade), her refusal has saved severe embarassment for most Indians and I salute her for this. By allowing her MPs to go on and on on national TV about her importance, she has consolidated her position in the party.


Sushma Swaraj: She has come across as a moron. She has screwed up her cultivated image of three decades by threatening to tonsure her head. She should be banned from opening her mouth for the next 20 years.

The Supine Congress MPs: It was such a shame seeing one MP after another mouth inanities about how Sonia is the mother of the country and how the country will break into pieces if she refused to lead. The worst were Renuka Chowdhry and her crocodile tears, Mani Shankar Aiyer and his "Honourable Madam Prime Minister" and several others who I did not recognise.

Manmohan Singh: Don't get me wrong. I have the highest regards for this man. But imagine the plight of the poor man when he goes to a meeting to be elected leader of the CPP, and has to sit through three hours of "we will not accept anyone other than you as our leader, Madam!" How he will manage this flock of sheep is to be seen.

The institution of Prime Minister: This will probably be the first instance when the Prime Minister will not be the strongest leader of his party. He will have to be careful of not ruffling the feathers of the Queen Bee or her coterie.

Vir Sanghvi and the Hindustan Times: "Amazing Grace", shouted their headline today! The Catholic reference of the magic of Christ to Sonia is blasphemy in my opinion. And I did not expect HT to fall so low.

Posted at 5/19/2004 5:41:15 pm by Ranjan
Comments (5)  

Tuesday, May 18
The die is cast

I am already tempted to say "I told you so" but I will hold myself back as it is bad form to do so.

The markets have spoken. They do not trust this government which is yet to be formed. But like that suave buffoon Sitaram Yechury (who has won just one election - in JNU) said only 1% of Indians participate in the stock market (inaccurate... at least 40% do, in shares, mutual funds and insurance policies). Remember, the market does not only benefit those who buy shares, it brings in funds that are put in projects that bring in employment to millions.

The dramatis personae are busy carving out their pounds of flesh even before the government has been constituted. The idiotic Laloo wants Deputy PM-ship and the Home Ministry, the broker Amar Singh wants Civil Aviation, the wily Sharad Pawar wants Defence, the opportunistic TRS, DMK and commies want to stay out so that they can squeeze the system without an iota of responsibility.

It does not augur well for India. But then, these are weird times.

Even sensible educated Indians have fallen into the trap of so-called secularism. They say "Great, we have voted out Vajpayee because his party kept mute during the Gujarat riots" while they do not remember anymore that two of the ringleaders of the gory massacre of Sikhs in 1984 are "honourable MPs of a 'secular' party". Ever heard of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? They say "Vajpayee's 'feel-good' was a non-starter" while they forget that the party that coined "Garibi hatao" in the seventies had done precious little to remove poverty.

I am willing to double the bet that this government won't celebrate its birthday... any takers?

Posted at 5/18/2004 11:03:36 am by Ranjan
Comments (4)  

Thursday, May 13
Good guys finish last...

Seeing the end of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure as India's Prime Minister is very traumatic for me. God knows, I really wanted his party/ alliance to come back.

This last government gave India a clear roadmap for economic resurgence, invested heavily in social and physical infrastructure, ran the country honestly, elevated India's image in the neighbourhood and in the world, and made us proud to be Indians.

Whats really disturbing is that these elections have seen the exit of those who were forward looking and who bet in the future even at the risk of short term reverses - Chandrababu Naidu, S M Krishna and Vajpayee himself. Digvijay Singh put it best when he said that creating infrastructure has a long gestation period but slogans give immediate results. The NDA this time went to the polls mostly on the basis of performance and potential and maybe that was their undoing.

What do we have now? An Italian-born au-pair who cannot speak her mind if its not written on a piece of paper, propped by loser commies who cannot look beyond Lenin and Marx, supported by blatant brokers like Amar Singh. Poor illiterate villagers might have voted her in thinking she is a Gandhi bahu but I am still not comfortable with the idea of a government comprising of Sonia, Amar Singh, Laloo Yadav, Mayawati and their like.

But, then, ours is a vibrant democracy that lives. It will survive. And, mark my words, we will be back in our polling booths within 12 months.

p.s. Here is my cut on the cabinet. Lets see how close this comes to the real thing.

PM - Sonia Gandhi
DPM - Mulayam Singh Yadav
Home - Sharad Pawar
Finance - Manmohan Singh
Foreign - K Natwar Singh
HRD - Pranab Mukherjee
Defence - Jaipal Reddy
Agriculture - Sitaram Yechury/ Prakash Karat
Civil aviation - Amar Singh
Railways - Ram Vilas Paswan
I & B - Ambika Soni
Law - Kapil Sibbal

Portfolios not defined (MoS) - Jyotiraditya Schindia, Sachin Pilot, Shailja, Ajay Maken, Salman Khurshid

Posted at 5/13/2004 8:35:42 pm by Ranjan
Comments (11)  

Monday, April 19
Time to change

If there is one thing I like about the Americans, it is their presidential system of government.

Just to help you revisit your civics, in a parliamentary system, the legislature (the Parliament) chooses the head of the government and all the ministers have to be a part of the legislature. So, the executive is a subset of the legislature. In a presidential system, the head of government is elected directly by the people. Thereafter he chooses the rest of the executive who, while being accountable to the Congress, need not be part of it.

India's constitution makers chose the British model most likely because all of them were infatuated by the working of the British Parliament. What they forgot was the fact that Britain had a two-party system which led to proper checks and balances as well as to a high level of stability.

Along with the concept of multi-party democracy, the parliamentary system of government has created the political mess we are in. We are a huge democracy, both in size and numbers, and we have huge regional variations. Each region has its unique issues and there cannot be any truly national agenda.

As a result, last few elections have thrown up a fractured mandate which leaves no alternative to a coalition. Now, a coalition may appear to be an innocuous concept but it further dilutes the agendas of all constituent parties. So, what you got promised and what you voted on may not even figure in the (laughable term) Common Minimum Program.

One would be hard put to point out key identifying differences in the policies of specific political parties.

In the US, once they vote in Dubya, even though he is a moron, they know that he is accountable to the people. He has a free hand (alas!) and so he deserves all the kudos as well as all the brickbats. In India, even though the elected reps choose a Vajpayee or a Sonia (God forbid!), he or she will not have any power to effect desired change.

What we need is a Presidential system. We should elect lawmakers whose job it is to legislate and we should elect the Prime Minister whose job it is to govern. We should leave it to the PM to handpick the experts from various fields to run the various departments, with full accountability to the Parliament.

This is the only way India can move on the path of change we so need to tread.

Posted at 4/19/2004 9:29:09 pm by Ranjan
Comments (3)  

Reflections in the marble flooring...

I went house-hunting today.

The first one was a 'prestigious' project from a 'reputed' company. They would give possession of the flat next year. I cannot wait for that long. I need one where I can move in next month.

The next was an inhabited project with lots of airy open spaces. It's in Greater Noida, about 25 kms from Delhi, a 15 minutes drive on the truly world-class expressway.

When the guide ushered me into the flat, I was awed. Not just by the construction but by the sheer power an empty space confined within solid walls can exude.

It suddenly came to me: houses are so much like women. I felt the place was beckoning me, just like a young woman who has waiting all her life for her lover.

When you look at a new flat, at first its just the walls, the marble on the floor, the slabs on the kitchen top, the squeaky clean seat on the commode. But when you start walking around with a little love, the place opens up a new world. There is so much she has to offer. You want to caress the smooth finish, whisper sweet nothings in the corners, make wild, wild love to the space that lets you in as much as you want and then some more.

There is so much excitement when the door is opened for the first time, the liquid apprehension of finding out what lies inside, the relief when you like what you see, and then the total delirium after you have seen it all and stand back, exhausted.

I guess this goes on for a while before this affair ebbs. Case in point: my current home. It has everything one could possibly need, but it is shabbily maintained, has a coat of dust that no one cares to wipe off anymore, does not welcome me passionately any longer. I just live there. Nothing more.

Is there a lesson for us in here?

Posted at 4/19/2004 12:22:04 am by Ranjan
Comments (7)  

Friday, April 16
Hanging on...

Have been meaning to post a lot of things... they are all there crowding my head... but been just too busy with work...

Will post this sunday... thanks to those who have been dropping by...

Posted at 4/16/2004 5:24:26 pm by Ranjan
Comments (2)  

Sunday, April 11
Time to introspect?

I got some good insight into my behaviour recently in the form of some "positive feedback" (an euphemism for criticism). Apparently I have a knack for rubbing people the wrong way, and I offend the sensibilities of many sensible people.

True I have very strong opinions on several issues and I voice those opinions frequently. I don't know where this comes from but I just enjoy stimulating discussions. I can't imagine a relationship where I just HAVE TO AGREE on everything with the other person.

People have different backgrounds and different experiences, and what we are is the sum total of what we have gone through. For me its important to know what others think of and to let them know what I think of. This is the kind of social intercourse that challenges me and (I think) makes me evolve.

In the process if I offend someone, tough luck.

Posted at 4/11/2004 12:31:46 pm by Ranjan
Comments (9)  

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