Austin, Life, Music, Piano

Puke

Today is a landmark today. Took a tiny step to re-kindle my synthesizer/digital piano passion and ordered a decent model for myself. My metalhead-tattoo-rendering-always-buoyant boss (who shall remain unnamed on this blog not because she’s less important, but because letting out her identity would mean revealing secrets at various levels, something I take very seriously now and more on that later), provided the necessary artistic inspiration and the name of an amazing local, independent shop in Austin. I had to do my bit to Keep Austin Weird.

I am ecstatic; feel more cognizant of my hands and the nervy quiver that hasn’t left them since late evening. Do they still remember how to create music? At least, they’ve been provoked.

For the crazy metalhead, whose fortitude knows no limits, who knows how to live life more than anyone else, and most dearly, who is still living it up.

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a r rahman, A.R.Rahman, Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood, Entertainment, Hrithik Roshan, Life, Movies, Thoughts

Movie Review: Jodhaa Akbar

Don’t accuse me of going back on my words. Yes, I admit that I had said that I won’t be watching this one, but can you really blame me for watching it, when all the blogs that I read have already posted a review or the blog authors are waiting to watch this movie and review it? ๐Ÿ™‚ Hrithik fans- one request- please don’t read this review. You might get a little pissed off. Aamir Khan fans- you can stop reading this post now. I have absolutely no donuts for you.

Ashutosh Gowarikar has made movies like Lagaan (which was nominated for the Oscars) and Swades (one of my personal favorites). So, people have high expectations from Jodhaa Akbar. And if you already don’t know, then let me tell you this- even Aamir Khan, along with his wife, Kiran Rao, attended the premiere (Okay, I did lie- there is something for Aamir Khan fans). I succumbed to peer pressure and ended up watching this movie last night, at the cost of my beauty sleep. It was not that bad. It was not that good either. The movie doesn’t proclaim to follow the Mughal History to the hilt and the story is Ashutosh’s personal interpretation of the love story between the famous Mughal King, Akbar and his wife, a Hindu princess, Jodhaa.

The movie has some really good moments. Let me talk about those first. The scene where Hrithik, as the King, makes an appearance for the first time, is quite impressive. Also, lots of other people have talked about the way the marriage scene between Hrithik and Aishwarya has been shot. Yes, that was very colorful (in Rajasthani style) and eye soothing. One of my personal favorites is the song “Khwaja Mere Khwaja”. Ashutosh has shot this song with a lot of subtlety and no one else would have done this song justice. It’s a simple song where the singers of Akbar’s court are paying homage to the Allah and are singing praises of their Lord and God, Akbar. Hrithik Roshan has done a phenomenal job in this song and really acts like the Emperor. I loved the way he got up and joined the singers, raised his arms towards the sky, and got lost in the lovely atmosphere. this has got to be the best scene in the movie, according to me.

Another memorable scene is the one where Hrithik is having a court discussion with his courtiers and he hears Aishwarya singing a bhajan “Man Mohanaa”. He gets so mesmerized by it that he dismisses the court and follows the faint tune to finally reach his Hindu wife, genuflecting in front of the diety, Lord Krishna.

But after setting such high standards, Hrithik did let me down in some other parts. I am not happy with his Elephant taming scene or the other scenes where he’s flexing his muscles. He was not acting like Akbar then. He was just plain Hrithik. Can you even imagine Akbar out in the courtyard, without a dress, exercising his muscles and Princess Jodhaa, a couple of yards away, pining for him? This is clearly a directorial fault and some loose editing. It kind of spoilt the entire aura and the richness that’s supposed to be omnipresent in each and every scene.

The song “Azeem-O-Shan Shahenshah” is one of the best tracks in the CD and I expected it to be shot on a large scale. Basically, the song is about people from different walks of life coming in front of the king and paying their respects, after Akbar demolishes the taxes that Hindus pay for taking pilgrimage trips. Ashutosh should have taken help from his dear friend Sanjay Leela Bhansali in designing the sets for this song. I know that there are lots of people who loved the way this song was done, but I don’t know why, I felt as if something was missing. The picturization looked too hurried. It ended up looking more like a roadside locality show.

Hrithik Roshan’s acting is quite good in some scenes, but overall, it’s not very consistent. In the first 45 minutes, he’s done a decent job, but after that, he stops behaving like Akbar. I’m suprised that Ashutosh Gowarikar didn’t realize this while making the movie. Or perhaps he did and realized that it was too late.

Aishwarya Rai’s acting, surprisingly, is much better than Hrithik’s, in my opinion. She has done a decent job and manages to keep her giggles and stiff motions under control. I would give Ashutosh the credit for this. She looks extremely pretty throughout the movie and for once, you will be overwhelmed by her beauty, only for the simplicity of it. But..err..she looked like a crazy daaku who doesn’t know how to fight in those sword scenes. Oh, and that sword fighting scene between Ash and Hrithik was way over the top. Hrithik’s trying to woo his lady by throwing flowers at her (as elegantly as he can) in between the fights? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Total work of genuis! Lesser mortals like me can’t even talk on cell phones while driving.

Poonam Sinha, as Akbar’s mother, is a treat to watch and if it were not for her acting, Ila Arun would have very easily turned half of the movie into a Saas Bahu kind of serial.

I really enjoyed seeing the big palaces and forts and the sheer opulence, because it reminds me of my trip to Rajasthan, that I’d taken a long time ago. I’m originally from that state and I always like it when it’s shown in movies ๐Ÿ™‚ My mouth almost started watering in the scene where Aishwarya cooks a Rajputana meal for Akbar and the other kings. Ghewar, dal, bati, sanghri ki subzi, boondi ke laddoo…eating such a traditional, Rajasthani meal is my ultimate dream.

The length of the movie kind of made me a little wary of watching it and I need to admit that there were times when I stopped watching the screen completely and got lost in my thoughts or my work. 3 hours 20 minutes is way too long for the story that Ashutosh Gowarikar is trying to tell. He could have easily restricted it to 2 hours 30 minutes at the most. But I guess, he believes in giving you full paisa vasool kind of entertainment.

This movie could have been a simple love story between any prince and his princess and not necessarily between Akbar and Jodhaa. I wish I could have seen some more details of the actual rule of Akbar instead of the mushy love scenes, that only made me want to run away. The country flourished during Akbar’s rule and there was so many advancements in Arts, architecture, music, general administration etc. and because of that, 3 hours 20 mins should have been used for showing some other stuff too. Ashutosh Gowarikar could have devoted less reel to the saas-bahu saga and some of the battle scenes and concentrated more on other aspects of the Emperor’s rule and the relationship with his wife (which kind of, turned out to be half baked in the second half of the movie). Even the ending was a little hurried and dissapointing. Perhaps, a mini series on a television channel would have done justice, no? ๐Ÿ™‚

Rating: 6/10

Related Reading: Music Review- Jodhaa Akbarย 

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Blogging, General ramblings, Life, Meme, Thoughts

First-Last-Now Meme

I’ve had a really boring day and I feel so tired right now. I wanted to blog about lots of things, but I don’t have the energy. Here’s a meme that I came across. Feel free to tag yourself and re blog it, if you want to.

P.S- I can’t stop admiring the pretty blue star-bullets. They look so lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚ The highlight of my day- I swear!

First

  • First job: At the billing counter as a cashier. Yeah, I didn’t have an assistantship when I’d come here initially. So I worked as a cashier for a couple of weeks to earn my living expenses. It was not that bad. Some guy even told me that I look like Sania Mirza? ๐Ÿ˜› Don’t know if that was a compliment. But it was quite surprising that he knew about Sania Mirza. Must have been a crazy tennis fan. Oh and there was this other guy who used to come every afternoon and I used to flirt with him openly. It was quite entertaining.
  • First screen name: It was a Hotmail address that I still use. So, I’m not giving it out here. Sorry. I’ve become really paranoid about all this since i had that email hack scare a couple of weeks back
  • First funeral: My paternal grandmom’s. I was only 10 and it was a horrific experience for me. Ever more so, because I’d been rude to her a couple of weeks back. So I couldn’t stop feeling guilty ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • First pet: A parrot- not really mine. Technically, it was my cousin’s.
  • First piercing: Ears
  • First tattoo: Never had one
  • First credit card: Technically, my dad gave me three credit cards. But my first real credit card would be the Citibank one, which I got, after applying for it myself.
  • First kiss: Happened a long time back, full filmi style.
  • First enemy: Whoa! Is this a real question? First enemy? So how many enemies am I supposed to have now?

Last

  • Last car ride: A couple of days back, when I’d gone out for an Italian dinner. Yes, it’s been ages since I stepped out of this house and it really sucks being home all day long.
  • Last kiss: A week back. Contact me for more details.
  • Last movie watched: Ronin. I’ve been wanting to watch Bad Education since a week now, but am not finding the time. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • Last beverage drank: Water? Before that, I had Diet Coke.
  • Last food consumed: Dosa, idli podi and sambhar ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Last phone call: With a recruiter for a job position. I know it’s a boring answer…sorry!
  • Last time showered: An hour back. Yay!
  • Last CD played: Jodhaa Akbar. Not really CD, but MP3. I don’t know which was the last CD I bought, except for movie CDs. I’ve stopped buying music CDs. I download them from the internet.
  • Last website visited: My blog

Now

  • Single or taken: Taken. All good girls are taken.
  • Gender: Female
  • Birthday: 01/16/19XX
  • Sign: Capricorn
  • Siblings: Yes, a younger sister
  • Hair color: Black and straight
  • Eye color: Jet black
  • Shoe size: US 7
  • Height: 5 feet 2 inches. I’m very short, thanks to my mother. Everybody else in my family is so tall. This is totally unfair. I should have had more Complan ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I feel that Complan really helped my cousins grow tall.
  • Wearing: Grey shorts, a light blue t-shirt and some underwear, obviously.
  • Drinking: Nothing
  • Thinking about: When this meme will end! (Yay! Just scrolled down and saw that this is the second last question).
  • Listening to: The AC whirring and my laptop fan just started whirring too. Not the most musical of noises.
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Business, consumers, Family, Life, Privacy, RFID tags, Technology, Thoughts

Would You Like To Be Tagged?

No. This post is not about being tagged for a blog game. It’s about being tagged by RFID chips. Most of us know about Radio Frequency Identification Chips and their ability to change the way we operate. For those of you who don’t know, “RFID is a system of small electronic tags (comprising a tiny chip plus an antenna) that transmit data via a radio signal to RFID readers and related hardware and software infrastructure.” They have always been around, but it’s because of the recent outcry of privacy issues and the potential misuse that these tags are generating lots of news reports. RFID tags hold great promises for lots of industries, including retail chain management. In fact, Walmart is one of the main proponents of RFID tags, which will help the company correctly estimate product demand, prevent stock outs, determine lead time etc. RFID provides the technology to identify uniquely each container, pallet, case and item being manufactured, shipped and sold, thus providing the building blocks for increased visibility throughout the supply chain. According to this article

RFID promises to revolutionize supply chains and usher in a new era of cost savings, efficiency and business intelligence. The potential applications are vast as it is relevant to any organization engaged in the production, movement or sale of physical goods. This includes retailers, distributors, logistics service providers, manufacturers and their entire supplier base, hospitals and pharmaceuticals companies, and the entire food chain.

This is only half the story. Like any other new technology, even this invention has its good and bad points. I came across this article that talks about the good part, where the tags are being used to monitor the patients in hospitals, reduce baby mismatches and thefts, to provide extra security to nurses and prevent sexual assault in hospitals, monitoring disoriented disabled patients and people with severe illness etc. The US is the number 1 adopter of this practice, and UK and China are slowly adopting this method too. So far, so good.

I read another article at CNN, that talked about how a company in Florida makes human implantable RFID chips, the size of a rice grain. This can be used by doctors to track information from patients, who can’t even speak. Most of these tags are passive and don’t contain a battery. So the information that they contain, which is very small in size, can be read only by a reader, located a couple of feet away. However, its sheer power makes it a potential tool in the hands of corporations, Government and other bodies who can use it for their benefit.

Clothing stores such as Levi’s, Benetton have already experimented with RFID tags for the purpose of tracking inventory and to prevent theft. But a layman will not know that the pair of jeans or shirt that he bought had a tag attached to it. Suppose we forget to take it off and suppose the company decides to play the role of a trickster and makes the RFID tag powerful enough to read your movements and get important information, such as, the stores that you visit, clothes that you buy etc.- we have a potential invasion of privacy right here!

Uncle Sam can’t be far behind when it comes to providing new twists, eh? These tags are being used by the US Homeland Security Department to issue special “e-passports” to tourists from 27 countries, whose citizens can travel to the US without any visa. According to the US Government, these chips will help them better identify and track the movements of such tourists. Only three countries have refused to issue such passports- Andorra, Brunei and Liechtenstein (as of October 2006). Like the article mentions, I think that this is a very dangerous thing to do and can put the passport bearer in imminent danger. Is there any guarantee that the installed chip won’t be read by another unauthorized person? Issuing such passports is equivalent to giving arms to your enemy. It is a two edged sword. Of course, the Homeland Department says that no one else can read these chips except for the authorized personnel. But I don’t believe it. And what about those tourists who’ve been reduced to the status of chained animals? How safe would you really feel knowing that there is someone watching each step that you take. This is just the start and I’m sure in another decade or so, the situation will get much worse.

To assess the effects of an RFID on human privacy, some volunteers from the University of Washington have taken it upon themselves to wear these tags and record the information and then investigate the entire issue. According to this article, in a project called RFID Ecosystem, researchers will give RFID tags to 50 voluntary participants to put on either themselves on their belongings. The location of the tags will be recorded every five seconds, saved to a database and published to Web pages. What’s interesting about the entire experiment is that one tool is used to track a person’s movements in Google Calendar and the other tool is used as a “friend finder”, that sends information such as what the person ate, whether he’s sleeping, going for a movie etc. to participant’s cell phone, email program or even Twitter! This, according to me, is a step in the right direction and I hope it reveals some interesting finds.

All of this brings me to the main issue: How Regulated are these tags? You will be surprised to know that there are no “hard rules” that govern these tags. According to the RFID gazette, FCC regulations stipulate that it the manufacturer/importer is solely responsible for compliance and in case of non-compliance it is the manufacturer and not the retailer who faces stiff fines and disciplinary action. In Europe, several laws have already been passed that need RFID-tagged products to carry a label informing this fact and that consumer data can be gathered only after the consumer has been informed and their consent is necessary for using that data. I haven’t seen anything of this sort in the US…or maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention? I don’t know, but I have never read a label that declared that the product that I’d purchased had a tag attached to it.

Currently, the European Union doesn’t have any set rules that govern the tags. They are likely in the future, depending upon the industry practices though. As far as I know, introducing such laws will also take a considerable amount of time, if you take into account all the industry and political lobbyists. What are these EU people waiting for? Isn’t this the right time to look into this issue? This is a classic case of “Wait and watch”. They need to act before any serious consequences arise.

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Blogging, Life, Thoughts, Wordpress

Blogging Without Obligation

bwologo2

I have come across a lot of blogs recently where the blog owner apologizes for not having posted regularly. In fact, one particular blog owner blogs only to let everyone know that he/she has been busy and will blog when he/she gets the time to do so. (Edit: I’m not talking about posts where you let your readers know about your whereabouts. I’m talking about blogs where the authors only blog about their busy-ness in different permutations and combinations.) I feel that nobody should ever apologize for not blogging regularly. It’s your blog, your content, your thoughts! Blog when you feel inspired and most importantly, blog when you feel like it. Don’t blog because your “readers” need you to blog everyday or every alternate day!

I’m going to sign the “Blogging Without Obligation” Pledge Today because I’m not blogging under any compulsion. I don’t earn even a single cent from all the time I put into it. It’s not my profession either. And thankfully, my readers don’t expect me to blog regularly. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let the people who comment on my blog also take some well deserved rest.

After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.” I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again . . .and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.

If you feel the same way feel free to grab the logo, make a logo or whatever you would like to do!

I release all the logos, thoughts and words mentioned here about this concept into the public domain. Take the idea and run with it. . .or walk away. It is all good.

  • Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
  • Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
  • Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
  • Because sometimes less is more.
  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable”.
  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time. . .

My personal favorite is “Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone”. So the next time you worry about not getting enough hits, or comments or track backs, just think about this! Don’t ignore other parts of your life by getting too obsessed about one thing.

In fact, I would like to add another point to this entire issue. So many times, we comment on other blogs not because we really care, but because we think that by writing that comment, we’re obligating the blog owner to make a trip to our blog. I really think that it’s very important to get over this feeling and comment only when you have something to add or you really feel like it. Don’t do it for the sake of it. Don’t do it because writing that extra comment will earn your blog post another comment. I admit that I’ve done this several number of times in the past, but I’ve stopped doing it now. Since the past couple of days, I’ve been analyzing the hypocrisy of the entire issue. Do we really make good friends if we comment with such shallow thoughts in mind? Blogging, for me, is another way of making good friends, in addition to a method of letting people know what I think. We misguide each other into thinking that we really care about each other’s blog posts, but in reality, all we care about are the stat and comment counter of our blog. Bottomline: Don’t comment just to keep up with appearances.

It’s amazing that a blog that gives pro blogging tips advised blog owners to blog “everyday”. Not everybody finds the need or the desire to blog everyday. It works for some people. It doesn’t work for some people. Like the oath above says, “because sometimes, less is more”. ๐Ÿ™‚

So remember that and hopefully, you feel better (or maybe worse) after reading this post. You have the full right to agree or disagree with me.

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british rule, Calcutta, General ramblings, History, Independence, India, Life, Thoughts

The Pre-Independence Calcutta

I was lucky enough to stumble upon these pictures while roaming around the internet. This collection is a rare gem for people who’ve ever lived in Calcutta. Nothing seems to have changed, except for the model of the cars and the crowd on the streets. And the color and quality of the pictures. I wish I could go back in time and live in that era. Everything becomes history, even before we realize it.

These photos were taken by Frank Short, an American serviceman, while in Calcutta and Madras in 1944. He was on duty in the Burma theatre during World War II.

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Books, Fiction, India, Indian Politics, Life, literature, Short Stories, Thoughts

The Honest Corporator

Nadkarni had received his transfer order for the 60th time in his 25 year career. His superiors were running out of places to transfer him to. They had sent him to the most arid regions of Maharashtra where water visited taps as sporadically as sense visits an imbecile. They made him live in areas where electricity hadn’t been invented but all their efforts were in vain since in the end, the man remained as stoical as ever. When the politicians, whose campaigns were funded by the restauranters and merchants whose shops bore the brunt of Nadkarni’s honesty noticed that punishments didn’t affect him, they resorted to bribes. After all, it is said that everyone has their own price. Unfortunately for them, they never discovered what Nadkarni’s was. It was said that no deals could be made under Nadkarni’s table because he bred scorpions there. Needless to say, his honesty earned Nadkarni more enemies than friends. Due to the continual shifting, his children suffered; they had changed more than 15 schools and as a result, didn’t make many friends. The pressure of adapting to a new environment once in a few months also took a toll on his wife’s health, especially since she was a diabetic. His family often wondered how life would’ve been if Nadkarni had been venal. Overtly, they gave him great mental support, never complaining about how nomadic their existence had become or how they had to travel in a battered down ambasaddor while his peers rode in air-conditioned Japanese cars like princes but inwardly, they led shattered lives. Their only property was a two bedroom apartment in a seedy area of Pune in a building that wasn’t even occupied anymore. The apartment had been stripped completely-lights, fixtures, faucets and even screws, by its tenants over the years. If they could’ve robbed the walls, they would’ve taken them too.

Nadkarni and his family entered the outskirts of Pune early in the morning. As he had expected, nothing had changed. If anything, the encroachments had multiplied. In the narrow strip of suffocated land that was hardly wide enough for a single bus, the traffic ran two-ways. At the very edge of the road, just as the tar ended and the mud began, shops rose up. Private property invaded public areas like an ominous domestic quarrel pouring out into the neighborhood. The city was a bad joke on its population.

Realizing that his time was short, since big cities had richer places and people, Nadkarni began doing his job, which was to destroy all encroachments on government land. The first one was a high end disco in the commercial district of the city; it was a popular get-away for college students and young professionals and was owned by an MLA. Just as the wrecking crew was setting up, a notice arrived. Without reading it, Nadkarni knew it was from his superiors who always discover clauses and legal barriers at the last minute to prevent the demolition of the property. Sliding the unopened envelope inside his pocket, Nadkarni gave the order for the disco to be torn down as it was occupying land originally meant for a garden. An impeccably dressed man, who looked like the manager, ran towards him and implored him to stop.

“You cannot do this”, he blurted out, “do you know who owns this place?”

Unfazed, Nadkarni told him, “Yes, the Government. Now get out of my way and stop wasting my time”.

The manager frantically pulled out his cell phone and spoke to his master, sweating profusely as he did so.

“yes…yes sir…I’ll tell him…I know, I know…don’t worry Sir, I’ve the situation under control”

Then he spoke to Nadkarni.

“My boss tells me that we could arrange something, come to a mutual understanding, get what I mean?” He said, smiling shrewdly. “a small token of his respect for the government”

“How much is he offering?”, Nadkarni asked him and the manager seemed relieved. It was true, every man had his price.

“We can discuss that inside, over a glass of Scotch or if you’d prefer something else, we have that too. Our bar is well stocked you see, in order to handle contingencies like this”

“ah, nothing like a good drink eh? I see you know how to treat your guests”

“of course, of course. After all this is the hospitality business and we are always hospitable to our guests, even those who threaten to ruin us”, he unctuously said.

“Please lead the way, I’ll follow you” Nadkarni offered politely.

Inside, the disco had a gothic kind of decor with gargoyles springing from every corner and chains hanging from the cieling. The place was unoccupied since it was very early in the morning, an inauspicious time for bars in general as since time immemorial, night has always been the best drinking companion.

The manager took out two glasses from the freezer and began pouring a golden colored liquid into them followed by soda. Then using a pair of silver tongs, he took out some ice cubes from an ice bucket and dropped them inside the glasses. They sank to the bottom producing a steady stream of bubbles that looked like miniature pearls.

The manager lifted his glass and Nadkarni lifted his own. The glasses clinked and the manager said “cheers”. He quickly finished his drink in one gulp and saw that Nadkarni hadn’t touched his drink.

“What is the matter?” He asked him with an air of concern, “don’t you like Scotch?”

“I never drink on the job”, Nadkarni told him matter-of-factly.

The manager didn’t know what to say. It seemed to him that the fellow in front of him was deranged.

“All right then. Let’s get down to business”, he said seriously “name your price”

“You can’t afford it”, Nadkarni told him bluntly.

“You don’t know who my master is”, the manager told Nadkarni arrogantly. “He buys people like you wholesale”

“Then pay me the opportunity cost of not constructing the garden”

The manager didn’t understand.

“Are you joking?”

“Which is”, Nadkarni continued, “the price of the happiness of thousands of people”.

“Are you mad?” The manager shouted, getting up from his seat, “stop talking nonsense”.

“I cannot accept checks. Pay me in cash, right now”.

The manager again pulled out his cell phone and started speaking to his boss.

“Sir, this fellow is completely mad, he is talking all nonsense, some opportunity cost crap…yes..yes Sir, I’ll put him on”.

“hey, you”, he said addressing Nadkarni rudely, “My boss wants to speak with you”.

Nadkarni took the phone from him. The manager wore a sadistic expression on his face that seemed to say, “he is in for it now”.

“yes…yes…I understand…no…of course, I know who you are, thank you, you’re very kind”

He finished talking and handed the device back to the manager.

“So now do you get it? What did the Boss tell you?”

“That he will have me transferred if I touch his establishment”

“Aah, I told you not to bring him into this, we could’ve handled this between ourselves. Anyway, I’ve a lot of work now, its time you and your men cleared off”

“it is. Unfortunately, your master doesn’t know how many times I’ve been transferred”

“What did you say?” The manager asked him, in utter disbelief.

By then, Nadkarni was out in the sun and gave the final go-ahead. The Manager watched them trembling as a bulldozer razed the construction to the ground.

That incident earned him a lot of fame. A photograph of Nadkarni wearing a yellow work helmet appeared in the local newspaper a few weeks later under the letters, “Honest man or Honestly Mad?”. The article was as follows:

“Amit Nadkarni is an icon of integrity in today’s corruption ridden society. Where most people would have given up and succumbed to the pressure, he refuses to back-down. The past few weeks have been hectic for him as he moved from one street to another tearing down all encroachments upon public property. Since he arrived here, he was demolished six hotels (all of them three-star), four dance bars, one disco, four restaurants and twenty three paan stalls! Wherever he goes, he creates an aura of fear and respect around him. He bows to no one, maybe not even God. The world needs more heroes like him”.

The journalist who wrote the article was fired the next day. Someone else replaced him and another article about Nadkarni was written, this time, brutally criticizing him.

“Nadkarni is a menace to society. He thinks of himself as a modern-day Gandhi whose mission is to bring peace and integrity to a troubled world. He takes it upon himself to demolish whatever he sees fit to be demolished. Neither does he obey his superiors nor the will of the populace that has clearly expressed its concerns over the loss of such fine establishments that have been the pride of our city. It isn’t surprising that he has been transferred more than anyone else in this country, maybe this planet even. It is time the people stood up to bullies like him”.

A week later, an international channel broadcasted a program on Nadkarni, praising him in the same manner as the first article written by the journalist who was fired. The entire country suddenly knew about this hitherto unknown government servant who was literally turning the earth inside out to stand by his principles. Everyone said that he would receive a national award from the president of India. The local channels aired his activities all day long. Wherever Nadkarni and his crew went, journalists from TV channels followed behind them closely. But Nadkarni quietly went about doing his job, which was supervising the demolition of private buildings on government land. He neither accepted interviews nor gave speeches. If someone called him a hero, he would politely shake his hand and move on with his crew. During his tenure in the city, he destroyed many more illegal establishments ranging from cheap motels to elitist wedding halls, all of which were brilliant examples of constructive destruction.

Gradually, people started getting bored of watching the same thing over and over again. They wanted something else to focus their attention on, like a crispy sex scandal involving Bollywood actors or an international match between India and Pakistan and within months, Nadkarni was back to anonymity. His brief stint at being popular was over. That was when the bureaucrats decided to sink their claws into him. They claimed that the building in which his apartment was situated posed a safety hazard as it was more than 20 years old and constructed from inferior quality cement. The only piece of property he owned in the world had been given the death sentence. Unfortunately, they couldn’t compensate him for this apartment as the legality of the land on which it stood was questionable in the first place and they pointed to a law suit-“The state of … vs. ….” . Nadkarni read this and in the same non-nonchalant manner in which he had tucked the envelope he received outside the disco into his pocket, he slipped this envelope inside his pant. The next morning, he got news that he had been transferred. He got inside the battered ambassador with his family and as he was leaving the city, everything he had demolished seemed to have been re-built. His wife sobbed silently next to him in the car and the children remained silent.Nadkarni knew it was the opportunity cost of being honest.

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