vivek's blog

Encounters with the Traffic Police

By: on 7 Apr 2007

I was at my grandparents' house for lunch a few days ago and there was a random collection of people there; we ended up trading some really funny stories about traffic police and bureaucrats. A couple of them are mine, but most of them aren't; they're written in the first person because that's how I heard them:

#1: A few weeks ago I was getting ready for a trip, so I borrowed a suitcase from a friend of mine. I had to get it from his house to mine, and I did this on my motorbike. It was a silly thing to do, and I shouldn't have done it, but it was the only way, so I did. The traffic police stopped me and called me over.

My hair was much shorter then than it is now, in a crop, and when the superior officer looked up and saw me, he said to the guy who'd stopped me, "Let him go, he looks like he might be on the force."

As I pulled away, I looked back and wondered if these guys were actually capable of identifying and stopping a criminal...

My Prediction

By: on 1 Apr 2007

I had a vision this morning when I woke up, and I think it's for real: exactly one year from now, gmail will come up with a "Custom Time" feature which will forever change how we don't send e-mails. Wanna fool your mom into thinking you actually wished her on her birthday? No problem.

I'm really looking forward to it.

Love Me, I'm a Liberal

By: on 30 Mar 2007

Yes, I consider liberal guilt a genre, and if Borders or Barnes & Noble created a separate section dedicated to it, I think they'd make a killing.

Good Morning, Vacaville!

By: on 29 Mar 2007

I see from our web stats there is someone in Vacaville, CA who loves us - or hates us, but at least visits us regularly.

Whoever you are, I just want to say hello and welcome! I have fond memories of Vacaville from the couple of years I spent in Davis as a kid.

British Commemoration of End of Slave Trade Met With Protest

By: on 28 Mar 2007

SHOUTING BRIGHT-SHIRTED BLACK MAN!!! OH MY GOD, SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING! THE QUEEN IS EXPOSED, THE QUEEN IS EXPOSED!!!!!! Yeah yeah, I know he represented a possible significant (to say the least) security threat, but really, the reference to his shirt (which by the way, isn't all that bright) was a little over the top.

Tidbit: Get the UN Out of the US!

By: on 26 Mar 2007

For years and years and years I've driven with my family between Tucson, Arizona and Phoenix, Arizona, and for a very long time there was this billboard, sponsored by the John Birch Society. I just remembered it was very excited when a Google image search turned it up right away. Well, if that's the way John Birch wants it, then the response is in the title.

Students Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Grades! Part II

By: on 26 Mar 2007

So what's the point?

Undergraduate students everywhere must first build up strong structures of student representation in their own institutions before they try and save the rest of the world.

There are scores of issues - everything from curriculum to dorm life to what they serve in the dining halls - which affect students directly, and can limit what they're able to do both in and out of the classroom. Students can empower themselves if they organize and demand a part of the decision-making process.The sad part in my college, however, was that structurally, students did have a voice and a say. Governance was delineated through a committee structure, so that most decisions which the general faculty took would have to go through committee first, and there were student spots on most of these committees. These students were appointed by Student Senate, and unfortunately these spots would either go unfilled or students simply wouldn't go to committee meetings. If they went, there was little communication between them and Senate, so Senate - supposedly representative of the student body - wouldn't know what transpired during these meetings.

Students Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Grades! Part I

By: on 26 Mar 2007

I grew up on glorious stories of student movements in both India and the US during the 60s and 70s, and this comment at Sepia Mutiny triggered some memories...

So when it came time for me to apply for colleges, I knew exactly what I wanted: a politicized and engaged student body, passionate out-of-class discussions, and an environment and curriculum which fostered and developed the desire to change the world for the better.

While many small, liberal arts colleges sell themselves as having all these things, the reality was somewhat disappointing. While every movement imaginable had a visible presence on my campus, the one entity I'd hoped would be active, visible, and prestigious - Student Senate - wasn't.

In fact, I don't think I even knew my college had a student government (beyond the ubiquitous party-organizing outfit, student council) until my sophomore year, around the time someone nominated me to run. I hadn't really done much around campus, so I didn't think people really knew me. My campaign went a bit like this:

  • I got an e-mail saying something like, "You have been nominated to run for Student Senate. If you do not reply to this e-mail declining your nomination, your name will appear on the ballot on such-and-such date."
    I did nothing.
  • I got an e-mail saying something like, "Your name is on the ballot for the Student Senate elections. You may campaign by doing the following..."
    I did nothing.
  • I got an e-mail saying something like, "Congratulations! You have been elected to Student Senate. Please come to the first meeting on..."
    I went to the first meeting.

Mangal Pandey Passed the Roti too!

By: on 23 Mar 2007

I'm not sure if the two crafty Bengalis who came up with a name for this blog on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Sepoy Rebellion knew about this delicious little tidbit when they were brainstorming. Chapati Mystery makes a whole hell of a lot more sense to me now...

As harmless as it might look, the freckled brown, round chapati -- an eternal Indian culinary favourite -- caused fear and loathing among the British officers in 1857.

'Chapati running' adopted by the police chowkidars was used as an effective psychological warfare against the British officers. The police chowkidars handed over chapatis, two inch in diameter to other colleagues. They would, in turn, ask them to make some more and pass it on to their counterparts in neighbouring villages. There were around 90,000 policemen who participated in the activity.

It was also discovered that the chowkidars obtained receipts after handing over the chapatis. Every chowkidar was told that the chapatis were to be given to the hakims (officers) in case they asked for them.

Police, CPM Thugs go Berserk in West Bengal; BJP Plays Pot-Kettle

By: on 21 Mar 2007

In a highly condemnable and apparently vicious act of state brutality, West Bengal police opened fire on protesters in Nandigram, in the Medinipur District of West Bengal on March 14, killing at least fifteen people and injuring many more.

An excerpt from the National Alliance of People's Movements statement:

As per the latest information, thousands of Police on entering the area, this morning, started firing, and 20 at least are found killed while hundreds are wounded lying on the street. Police are forcibly taking away the dead bodies. Women are at the forefront and have faced the attack the most. Children and men along with women are on the streets coming out of homes and villages to stop the brutal State and Party forces who are trying to take the territory under siege for SEZ with MNCs. We are also informed that media persons were stopped from witnessing the brutal atrocities while two media persons from TARA News are said to be missing.

This is obviously a planed action since even last month when 4 meetings attended by over 20000 people was held, there was news that the CPM would launch its attack soon after the school exams were over (countercurrents.org).

Nandigram has been the site of intense protests for the past two months by Indian farmers and villagers who oppose the state government's proposed land acquisition in the area for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the latest fad in global capitalism for developing countries (ironic that the flare-up around the SEZ issue has centered around West Bengal, which is governed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)-led Left Front government). The basic principle: take vast amounts of land from farmers, administer it such that your usual national laws (such as those governing labor rights) don't apply, invite in global capital to develop the land, provide cheap labor, and say you're doing it all for the sake of development and employment. But that's for another post.

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