Thursday, July 7

Extreme Makeover

Last night on Larry King Live, Larry featured the 'magicians' behind ABC's hit series Extreme Makeover. Some of the patients in this show were truly suffering from deformities of the sort that was affecting their entire life and well being as well as self esteem. Many others were primarily cosmetic enhancements to improve dating prospects. How many of them would fall under the underprivileged, poor, who's direct livelyhood and maybe future life prospects depended upon corrective surgery? A grand total of 1.

The whole situation is a sad one. It was tragic to see Larry and his guests talking about how good the surgeons felt when they helped someone look better, look what they wanted to look like. How benevolent this act of performing corrective/cosmetic surgery on someone was and how refreshing and gratifying it was to the experts to have given their time to perform these modern day miracles for men and women who were badly in need of a .... date!

It was even more tragic that Larry did not point out any charitable work that these miracle surgeons may have been doing, basically donating their time and expertise for nothing in return, to benefit the cause of the truly underprivileged and disadvantaged as a result of congenital or accidental deformity which directly affects their livelyhood, self-esteem and potentially survival. Perhaps Larry forgot to point these acts of benevolence, or perhaps there weren't any to point out, or perhaps it didn't fit in the theme of the show that night.

The episode must have been a great PR event for all the surgeons interviewed, the stylist and fashion designer in the show, as well as for ABC itself. What an ingenious way to promote the show and the surgeons? Wow! Needless to say, these expressions of benevolence on the part of surgeons, gratitude on the part of the patients (from the show), and wonder on the part of the audience in the show as well as Larry, does nothing, nada, zilch to advance the cause of putting smiles back on the faces of people and their destinies back in the hands of people in this world who struggle for survival because of their deformity.

Perhaps, Larry should do another small segment in an unrelated show, to maybe showcase the works of the likes of The Smile Train, who are a non-governmental organization (NGO - not for profit), which performs these miracles almost daily in a variety of countries and in a variety of cultures uplifting those who not only cannot afford it but do not have any hope of a good life, living with a cleft lip deformity.

Deformities, congenital or accidental, are considered taboos in many societies of the third world. It is a deficiency which inherently leads to prejudice and assumption of incompetence or ineffectiveness. It is a curse to many. In countries like India and China, a child born with a deformity such as this determines to a large extent that child's future life achievements of lack thereof. The Smile Train, puts smiles back on these faces and their lives back in their own hands so they can chart their destiny without being prejudged and denied the opportunities that lie ahead. Thats benevolence. That's applying a technology, effort and manpower to a great cause.

Perhaps Larry should have had one more cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Upadhye, who lives in the USA and despite the fact that his heart operates at a fraction of its capacity, despite the fact that he himself cannot walk or talk clearly, performs hundreds of surgeries for free by visiting India's poor every year. Perhaps Larry should have relied on the first class investigative journalism that CNN and their anchors are so famous for to dig up those timid and shy souls who stay away from the limelight while performing these acts of greatness daily. Perhaps Larry should meet Dr. V (see post dated July 3).

Then again, perhaps Larry just wanted to look at his shows ratings and ABC's ratings for Extreme Makeover.

Monday, July 4

The nature of perception

We are led to believe a lie
When we see with, and not through the eye
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

-- Blake.

Read a beautiful article by Deepak Chopra on Resurgence. This is Part One of a two part series on The Flaws of Perception.

Sunday, July 3

The trip about nothing

[ This was a travelogue written for a Road trip to Lake Tahoe in March 2002]

On sunday we got back from our trip to tahoe. It was nice for a change... It was one of those trips when it's not so much the destination, but the journey itself. Definitely felt that way since we drove for over 16 hours to and fro!Burning gas at the rate of 3 gallons an hour, we almost flew to Tahoe on Friday. It started off as a bad dream when my boss wouldn't give me paid vacation. Things didnt get any better when we reached to find out that the hotel had only one room instead of the two we had booked for us and another couple we were supposed to meet. As a result of that we ended up upgrading to a lake-view room for ourselves. Another hour later my friend called and said he was stuck on the highway in a snowstorm and CHP had closed the highway due to accidents... So he turned back towards frisco and cancelled the whole deal... so here we are, in the middle of a snowstorm, in Lake Tahoe just by ourselves and spending inordinate amount of money just to go snowboarding... You'd laugh if i told you we drove all the way there for all that from Utah.... But we did!!! (You see what i mean when I said it's not the destination - but the journey). Anyway, we swallowed the frustration along with the fish and chips and numerous shots of tequila as well as Bushmills on the ice that night and decided to check out the next morning and head home... this was already a nightmare. Early morning the next day Deepa got up and noticed the lake! And her spirits were back. (or maybe it was all the spirits from the night before). And we decided to stay! So we rented a snowboard and went on to the resort (a nice place by the way) for some snowboarding. I think the high point of the trip was that Deepa finally got rid of the fear of getting off the lifts. She managed to do it sweetly without falling over, leaning on, pushing or pulling me along with her to the ground more than once! It was a snowy, stormy afternoon but we got free hot chocolate at the end. It wasn't until on the way back that it dawned on me. That it's not the destination, but it's the journey. Kinda like life itself (if u excuse my platitude).

It was quiet in the car, we were cruising on the freeway as I watched the tachometer tick away the miles every second. When was the last time we did this? Couldn't remember. Some people will tell you how precious it is to be able to admire your car when you are on a long trip. I love my car! I watched the birds sitting on the side of the road with their backs to the freeway waiting for the next car to bring that sudden gust of air, just so they could take flight. As I watched them fly away I noticed the distant storm descending itself on some tiny Nevada village. The vistas and the desert and the peace and the calm, it was all right there and as I watched my baby sleep soundly on the passenger seat, I decided it was time to listen to some music.

Saturday, July 2

Mind the Gap!

[ This travelogue was written in November 2003, after returning from a trip to London. ]

I am back from london having been busy "minding thegap" on the "tube". It was a fantastic trip in hermajesty's service (serving the london economy thatis). In a place where they eat beans and toast forbreakfast, have puddings with names like "the spotteddick", and where you are constantly being reminded to"mind the gap" and many times even "mind your head!",there was no "way out" of the the compelling andconspicuous British motifs. The famous red telephonebooth, the red post office box, the double deckerbusses and crazy drivers were solemn reminders ofIndia's inheritance from the Raj and the Tikka wrapsand Tiffin box meals were stark signs of how theindians have taken over the Raj. More than anything else, it was the history thatstares you right in the eye when you look everywherearound you, that made the trip so memorable. It wasimpossible not to notice that at any given place inlondon, you could be standing on the very same sitewhere old day legends would have stood and lived.Like the famous Thames walk, the River trip in a boat(which was the normal way for royalty to tour london),the Waterloo bridge where Napolean fought (there wasno bridge then), the London bridge (subject of thefamous nursery rhyme as well as the sight ofdecapitated heads amast on stakes to remind whathappened to traitors to the monarchy in those days),the infamous Tower Hill where the beheadingsthemselves took place, the Tower of London whereMonarchs lived for ages, the beautiful dome of the St.Pauls Cathedral that to this day (for almost 300 yrs)adorns the London sky, Shakespeare's Globe where thelegend himself must have performed for the people, SirChristopher Wrens historic architecture, the infamousLondon Dungeons where Jack the Ripper went to work onhis victims and the plague spread, the Tower bridgeunder which sailors must have passed bidding theirlast fairwells to their families, Westminster Abbeywhere the both the houses of parliament sit, the BigBen and the Royal palaces themselves.And these are just the historic places. They arejuxtaposed within the same skyline with modern wonderssuch as Sir Norman Foster's glassy architecturalconcept buildings, the London Eye (a giant ferriswheel on the banks of the Thames providing spectacularviews of all of London and beyond), the MilleniumDome, the Millenium Bridge, and on and on and on. Thesight seeing never ends.But the trip to London had to "terminate"unfortunately, a lot like the trains in london"terminate" (I found out this was not a perilousending but just the end of railroad!) and we had tosay farewell on our "way out". But we will go backsometime again and I am sure the history of londonwould have been re-written again and again by then.Until then, I will be busy "miding my head".

who r u god?

I am the grief that makes you wonder
Is there but a God here or yonder
I am your guilt, your conscience I am
I am the heartfelt, apology you have
I am your shame, that stops you from sinning
I am your taboo, your bane, your inner meaning
I am not a flower, not energy, not matter
I am that prophetic glimpse of disaster
I am not song, no verse no symphony
I am but the meaning that touches your heart in agony
I am not beautiful, nor ugly i am
I am the duality of the yin and the yang
I am not here, not there nowhere
I am in your wonder, your wish, your stare

Friday, July 1

Kissinger regrets deriding India's leader - South and Central Asia - MSNBC.com

“The Indians are bastards anyway,” Kissinger responded. “They are starting a war there ... While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted too. She will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn’t give her a warm reception and therefore in despair she’s got to go to war.”

Kissinger was then the national security adviser.

“I regret that these words were used. I have extremely high regard for Mrs. Gandhi as a statesman,” Kissinger said. “The fact that we were at cross purposes at that time was inherent in the situation but she was a great leader who did great things for her country.”

Kissinger regrets deriding India's leader - South and Central Asia - MSNBC.com