Monday, July 29, 2013

The Distinguished Gentleman

One movie I enjoy watching during its many reruns on one of the many movie channels on cable is The Distinguished Gentleman starring Eddie Murphy.  We have now ceased to get shocked by mammoth scams that have raped the country by various politicians and have resigned to the fact that politics and scams are like conjoined twins in our country. This movie tells us that we are not alone. Even in the US of A this happens and even there the people have resigned themselves to the inevitability of it all.

In case you have not seen the movie, a synopsis of the same from Wikipedia

“A Florida con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson uses the passing of the longtime Congressman from his district, Jeff Johnson (who died of a heart attack while having sex with his secretary), to get elected to Congress, where the money flows from lobbyists. Removing his first name and shortening his middle name he calls himself "Jeff" Johnson. He then manages to get on the ballot by pitching a seniors organization, the Silver Foxes, to nominate him as their candidate for office.

Once on the election ballot, he uses the dead Congressman's old campaign material and runs a low budget campaign that appeals to name recognition, figuring most people do not pay much attention and simply vote for the "name you know." He wins a slim victory and is off to Washington, a place where the "streets are lined with gold."
Initially, the lucrative donations and campaign contributions roll in, but as he learns the nature of the con game in Washington D.C., he starts to see how the greed and corruption makes it difficult to address issues such as campaign finance reform, environmental protection, and the possibility that electric power companies may have a product that is giving kids in a small town cancer.

In trying to address these issues, Congressman Johnson finds himself double-crossed by Power and Industry chairman Dick Dodge. Johnson decides to fight back the only way he knows how: with a con. Johnson succeeds and exposes Dodge as corrupt. As the film ends, it appears likely that Johnson will be thrown out of Congress for the manner in which he was elected.”

In short a con man, he is proud of  his business  (incidentally he and his cousin run a phone sex racket which entices men and then they rip them off their money after catching the man in a compromising situation) manipulates his way into the Congress and there he learns that politics can be a big con. The usual cinematic moment of truth and romance happens and the hero goes about trying to fix one problem with a hilarious con.

You know that in a family movie the good will triumph over evil, the hero will get the pretty girl and everyone is happy in the end though none of them happen in real life. My favourite bit is the last part (not telling you that); each time the Presidential elections happen I have a smile on my face.

At the end of the movie I feel sad that democracy in any form is of the people, by the people but seldom for the people even in the land of the free. And there does not seem to be any solution in sight. People who dare to think differently or tread a beaten path are termed as mavericks and usually lose steam after some time. Remember Lok Paritran? Even the AAP is now beginning to tie itself up into knots and one day may forget its raison d’ etre.

Idealists suggest that the general public join politics but is it a really viable option if one does not scam? And the capital expenditure and working capital requirements today are so huge in the present system can anyone without money hope to make it? To become a distinguished gentleman you need to be born with a silver spoon or it seems you have to scam.


Friday, July 26, 2013


A woman on two wheels may be a new symbol of empowerment and I am happy for them. But for some women the road is not the place to be especially on their set of two wheels. Do not think that I am prejudiced or that I am sexist I am simply frustrated that these women are on the roads endangering everyone.

A few types of women who should not be there:

-      The one in high spirits: You know when a person is high; one of the symptoms can be that the person will not be able to walk in a straight line. Hold that thought and extend it to a woman in front of you on a 100cc odd powered vehicle starting from point A and proceeding to point wherever at an acute angle without bothering about the vehicles behind. Should not somebody tell them that the two shiny things on the bike are not vanity mirrors?

-      The one who is always right: These women are always on the right and that is a good thing except when you are on the road and common sense tells you that the slower vehicles are on the left. Yes they are extremely slow which is good but they occupy the stretch of the road not allowing a faster vehicle to move ahead and lead a procession of irate drivers behind

-      The one who is always grounded: these are the women who are always grounded even when they are on the vehicle, the rarely take their feet of the ground and consequently they may end up at times as those on the right going slow or even on the left slow till they decide that the run way has ended and it is time to take off and retract the landing gear

-      The one who is blind: the most dangerous of the lot who cannot see traffic lights, cannot see oncoming traffic, in short have an acute visibility problem. They are the equivalent of unguided missiles with a malfunctioning guidance system, you never know where they will hit and best avoided.

-      The loving mother: this is the loving mother who with her child in tow will drive on any side of the road, usually the wrong side to drop her child to school on time. Somebody told me that the teaching of the child at home is usually done by the mother as the father is not there or does not teach. Sigh.

Are men any better? No, many are not, but that will be another post.

Are all women bad drivers? Most definitely not. I know women who are really good drivers and I always wish they could spread their skills to others. Till then I will be very vary when I see a woman on two wheels.

Is there a solution for this? I suppose there is an opportunity for an entrepreneur to start a driving school for two wheelers for women. Men will most probably decline because they are men.

P.S. The title expand to women on wheels
p.p.s My wife drives too and the general opinion is that she is too fast

Image courtesy Google Images

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The carrot or the stick?

I have often wondered - Is discipline a product or the carrot or the stick and is there any other option?

Can discipline be enforced by simply giving carrots? It is successful considering we have grown up with inducing our kids with something so that they fall in line. When the carrot fails, at least for the kid there was the stick. I say was because now the kid can complain of abuse and can get the parent and sometimes the teacher behind bars.

Is there a third way? Can a person be disciplined completely by external stimuli or is discipline inborn? Does a person become disciplined or is he born one? I grapple with these questions each day when I drive when I see the appalling indiscipline on the road. Just today four incidents disturbed me as they all happened in the space of a few hours in and around Anna Nagar.

1.   A school van driver (actually a contract carriage) with school kids drove on the wrong side and mercifully missed a MTC bus that was coming on the right side. I shudder to think that I missed tomorrows breaking news. School kids dying makes news but the reasons don’t.
2.   An auto driver with a passenger carrying some long rods that jutted high above nonchalantly made an U turn and drove up the wrong side of the Koyambedu flyover making the oncoming traffic to scramble for room
3.   A  young woman on a two wheeler jumped a red light and almost got hit by LCV, but she seemed to be more embarrassed by the cop who screamed at her than the near miss
4.   Another young woman trying to squeeze through a gap in the median meant for walkers in the middle of the traffic when the U turn was hardly 50 metres ahead. Finally the never ending traffic forced her to take the U turn.

These people who take their lives for granted and also expose others to danger do not deserve to be on the roads but they are there. For my personal safety I wonder is there a way these people can be disciplined? Anyone?

Small joys in life...

Life is beautiful because of the little things that we often overlook or take for granted. One such that spurred this post is my daily drive to school with my daughter. That half hour or so was not planned but it turned out that having settled for a school of our choice which was quite some distance away and not having enough occupants for a van it became a part of my daily routine when I am in the city.

So what makes a school commute so special?

·         Probably it is because it is new only a month or so old

·         Probably it is because the drive is relatively smooth considering I leave by 8.15 am

·         Probably it is because I reach office nearly an hour earlier than usual and so I am fresh and ready for the daily work earlier than usual

·         Probably it is because I get to spend more time with my daughter

·         Probably it is because my daughter is happy to tell me stories of so many things which she would not have otherwise

·         Probably it is because it has brought greater discipline to my daily schedule as my office may be flexible but her school is not

·         Probably it is because this has taught me lot more about parenting than before since I get my daughter ready and to school

·         Probably it is because I am able to share some of the work of my wife who is still finding her feet around her new job

·         Probably it is because I do not want her to go to school like many others in the title picture

I still wonder what makes it special that I look forward to it every day, but as with all things good or bad this too will pass. One day my daughter will be independent enough to get ready on her own, shun my terrible attempts to get her hair into some level of acceptability or style and go on her own to school, till that day I must live the moment and delight in it.


Image courtesy The Hindu