Saturday, 10 February 2018

PARWAAZ


Sau Aafaton Ka
Tu Humraaz Hai
Aur Ghairon Ka
Tu Mohtaj Hai
Yeh Duniya
Chaalbaaz Hai Lekin
Zamaane Ka
Yahi Andaaz Hai

Hawaon Mein Goonje
Kuch Alfaaz Hain
Taqdeer Ne Kholey
Tere Raaz Hain
Magar Ae Musafir
Maayoos Na Ho
Zameer Ko Tujhpe
Bada Naaz Hai

Iraadon Me Hi
Teri Aawaaz Hai
Tere Sar Pe Junoon
Ka Sartaaj Hai
Toh Na Dagmaga
Ae Musafir
Teri Azmat Ka
Na Tujhko Ehsaas Hai

Kismat Ko Gar
Tujhse Aitraaz Hai
Muqaddar Bhi Gar
Tujhse Naraaz Hai
Tu Rakh Hausla
Aur Pankh Faila
Ki Ab Teri
Parwaaz Hai

सौ आफतों का
तू हमराज़ है
और ग़ैरों का
तू मोहताज है
यह दुनिया
चालबाज़ है, लेकिन
ज़माने का
यही अंदाज़ है। 

हवाओं में गूंजे
कुछ अलफ़ाज़ हैं
तक़दीर ने खोले
तेरे राज़ हैं
मगर ऐ मुसाफ़िर
मायूस न  हो
ज़मीरों को तुझपे
बड़ा नाज़ है।

इरादों में ही
तेरी आवाज़ है
तेरे सर पे जूनून
का सरताज है
तो ना डगमगा
ऐ बन्दे
तेरी अज़मत का
ना तुझको एहसास है।

किस्मत को गर
तुझसे ऐतराज़ है
मुक़द्दर भी गर
तुझसे नाराज़ है
तू रख हौसला
और पँख फैला
की अब  तेरी
परवाज़ है।

Urdu is such a beautiful language!

A big thank you to Hari Mohanty for allowing me to use his click. Hari is an adventure freak, and loves going on trekking expeditions to the the many forts that dot the Indian state of Maharashtra. This is a stupefying image that he clicked while on a trekking expedition to the Alang-Madan-Kulang forts in Maharashtra, India. Hari is a 23 year old event management professional from Neral, Navi Mumbai. He has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Engineering. Apart from trekking, he is an avid fan of cricket, has interest in computer graphics, and the arts. You can find Hari on Instagram at www.instagram.com/harimohanty

Friday, 2 February 2018

HOUSE-HUNTING


"Go away...you don't belong here."

I had barely even moved into my new home. I was pretty sure there was no one in there when I had made my first move, but had now realised how wrong I was. I had found it exactly where I was told I would find it, and in the same state as was described to me. It lay serenely, draped in marble-esque white, some places turning blue as melancholy, and overall cold as death herself. And yet, it had fresh coats of paint in all the right places. It was perfect.

But suddenly there was a problem. I had been expecting zero resistance. To be fair, Teacher did mention that there could be some presence. However, he had asked me to completely ignore any signals.

"Aaaaarrrggh...GET OUT OF HERE!!!" The shrieks were only getting louder.

I'll be honest...I've never been the type to lose sleep over trivial matters or the odd delusion, but the cries were startling and unsettling. But Teacher had warned against letting my senses and sensitivity blind me. I had to maintain my composure. House-hunting had seldom been an easy game anyway, and I have had to seek help to learn the art. I had lost count of the number of times that I have had to abandon fresh catch. The reasons had been manifold - incompatibility, weakness of structures, and the biggest spoilsport of them all, natural wear and tear. But as the game goes, I had to be patient. So it was only apt that I held on to what I had found and what was now rightfully mine. I casually ignored the voices and got back to getting comfortable in my new home.

But just then, things got even worse.

Two more entities appeared. One of them flashed a blowtorch at my face, while the other started barking strange incomprehensibles while giving me a long deathly stare.

"...behold the Cross of the Lord..."

I instinctively sensed clear and present danger.

So I quickly did what Teacher asked me to do in such a situation. I jumped out of the room through a glass window, with the young woman's body still in my control.

I think I've finally mastered the art of house-hunting.

Teacher will be proud.


Today's image is a click by Pune-based Manpreet Chauhan. She is pursuing a Master's degree in English Literature, and has previously worked as a pre-school teacher. She is an art buff and a loves to dance. Her muse in the pic is Rutika Patel. You can find Manpreet on Instagram at www.instagram.com/mannpreeeet and Rutuka at www.instagram.com/rutikap_

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Welcome to my first post of 2018. Hope the new year has been good for you guys so far. January had been chaotic for me. December was wonderful though - went on a vacation to Jaipur-Fatehpur Sikri-Agra. Posted a few clicks on Instagram. Hope you like them.

Cheers,
CRD

Saturday, 2 December 2017

OF HOLY WATER AND CRYPTOCURRENCIES


Holy Water definition - (noun) Water that has been blessed by a priest for use in "symbolic" rituals of purification

A month ago, I found out that the babysitter had been giving Holy Water to our 3-year old. A devout Catholic and extremely fond of our lad, she was upset about him getting unwell very often, and so she reckoned that it was only wise to have sought a little divine intervention to help him stay safe. Needless to say, I was left aghast. Make no mistake, I am not an atheist. But in today's age of science and technology, it is kinda silly to seek recourse to religious (and largely symbolic) articles, instead of medicine. Moreover, it would have probably been acceptable if the water was fresh - holy water is usually distributed during Easter, which means that the water is usually stored for almost a year before it is changed. The philosophies behind religious symbolism are not commonly understood.

Speaking of things that are not commonly understood, there's something else that's setting the popularity charts ablaze in the world of investment, and yet is very poorly comprehended. Say hello to cryptocurrency!

One of the most popular descriptions of cryptocurrency is 'a form of digital money that is designed to be secure and, in many cases, anonymous.' It is a currency associated with the internet that uses cryptography to track purchases and transfers. The first cryptocurrency was bitcoin (2009) and to date it remains the most popular. Since then, a plethora of cryptocurrencies have made an appearance over the past decade, with more than 900 now being available on the internet.

Contrary to the name, however, cryptocurrency has not yet gained acceptance as legal tender. Till date, Japan remains the only large economy to have officially recognised cryptocurrency (bitcoin) at par with fiat currency. Although many countries do consider cryptocurrencies as legal, most of them only consider them as a trade-able commodity or as property for tax purposes. In fact, some countries like China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Britain, among others, have all moved to either ban or restrict the use o cryptocurrencies. Closer home, the RBI had made known its position on bitcoins by stating that they were not to be used for payments and settlements, although the use of the underlying blockchain technology could be explored.


What is it that makes economies wary of using cryptocurrencies as legal tender? Let’s see how cryptocurrencies match up against the generally-accepted characteristics of a currency: -

  • Fungible – Advocates of cryptocurrencies vouch for their high fungibility on the basis of the argument that digital 1s and 0s that represent units of bitcoin on the blockchain are absolutely like each other. However, cryptocurrencies are not really fungible in the traditional sense. Some bitcoins, for instance, are not clean, in that they leave a trace on the blockchain. In such a scenario, clean bitcoins tend to command a better price than their counterparts. Moreover, it is possible for service providers or exchanges to blacklist specific bitcoin wallet addresses, which would then render any transactions with such bitcoins worthless. The tracing and monitoring of cryptocurrencies, therefore, does not make it any more fungible than fiat currencies.
  • Non-consumable – Bitcoins, being virtual currency, are inherent non-consumable, and possess value in themselves. Like fiat currency, they can be used to procure other commodities/services, without being used themselves, unlike commodities like gold and diamonds.
  • Portable - It can be argued that cryptocurrencies are easy to transport/transmit and literally weigh nothing. In fact, it comes with its own global teleportation system. However, it is worthwhile to consider the fact that heavy investment and a great degree of skill is required to keep digital money secure. Also, since cryptocurrencies are decentralised and unregulated, there is absolutely no hope of remedy or legal recourse in case hackers make away with your cryptocurrency. To cut a long story short, cryptocurrency once lost is truly lost forever.
  • Durable - Cryptocurrencies edge out fiat currency and precious metals when it comes to durability. However, there is the risk of a huge problem in case you lose the private key. Imagine a crashed hard drive - this is not necessarily a remote possibility.
  • Divisible - Cryptocurrencies score high on the divisibility parameter. Bitcoins, for instance, are divisible down to 8 decimal places (1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC).
  • Secure - Being in digital form does not make cryptocurrency any more secure than physical assets. In fact, it probably is even tougher to secure something that is virtual and extremely vulnerable to attacks from hackers.
  • Easily Transactable - Being decentralised, cryptocurrencies require absolutely no intervention by middlemen and are not bound by bank branch office hours. This makes them theoretically low-cost and easily transactable.
  • Scarce - Most cryptocurrencies have designed to be limited in number. Hence, in the long run, they are scarce. Physical assets derive their intrinsic value from a combination of their scarcity and their utility outside the purview of currency. In the case of cryptocurrencies, they have no other use apart from that of a currency. However, it must be noted that bitcoins can be mined (it serves as a price discovery mechanism). Thus, it is their scarcity and mine-ability that determines their intrinsic value.

As we can see, cryptocurrencies have their sets of pros and cons vis-a-vis fiat currencies and physical assets. However, the pace at which bitcoin prices have risen in the past year alone sets warning bells ringing. It would not be unfair to say that the phenomenon of rising prices of cryptocurrencies point towards a bubble in the making.

Some aspects that add to the skepticism are: -

  • The fact that cryptocurrencies are traded anonymously means that they are traded in an ecosystem that is largely shrouded in mystery
  • The decentralisation and lack of regulation makes systems like the blockchain a highly risky and potentially investor-unfriendly place
  • There seems to be a great gap between the intrinsic value of cryptocurrencies and the prices they command; what's worse is that this gap is impossible to quantify, unlike in the case of physical assets
  • Unlike commodities, investors do not really have anything to hold at the end of a transaction. At least in the case of physical assets, investors can hope to cut their losses by salvaging some value through the sale of an asset that has lost its value. In the case of cryptocurrencies, there is no middle path; it's usually 'all or nothing'.
  • In this market, the innovators and early adopters have made huge gains, Late adopters and laggards stare at the possibility of humongous losses in case cryptocurrencies end up failing or turn out to be a widespread fraud like some detractors fear that they might be

In conclusion, I think that unless investors possess the kind of money to purchase infrastructure capable of mining cryptocurrencies and keeping them secure from the threat of hacking and system crashes, they should avoid cryptocurrencies like the devil avoids holy water.

Speaking of Holy Water - last week I saw the babysitter making my son drink holy water yet again. 

This time though, I smiled nonchalantly...because every morning since the past month, I have been refilling the bottle with RO-purified water.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

SMOG ON THE WATER


Once again, like November last year, Delhi has been engulfed in Smog. If experts are to be believed, the situation seems to be much worse this time around. The Delhi state government has decided to take late quick action and introduce the odd-even car rule between 13th-17th November to help alleviate the situation.

Needless to say, the rising pollution levels in the country as a whole and particularly in the Capital are matters of grave concern. But in true Indian spirit, let's just laugh it off like we don't care.

The Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall (Charles and Camilla) arrived in the Capital on Wednesday, the 8th of November on a two-day visit. They were greeted by a thick layer of smog. I wonder if they really could see the officials who had come to welcome them; that would have been quite a sight.

Presenting a song composed by yours truly as a tribute to the Royal Couple's visit to Delhi. I swear this is not a parody of the Deep Purple classic 'Smoke on the Water'.

==============================================================

We all set out for Palam
On the DMRC Orange Line
To click selfies with some Royals
Coz we are Firang-philes

Ole Charlie and his Begum
Were at the best place around (at the time)
But when their aircraft made a landing
They had no choice but to get aground

Smog On The Water...And Royals in the Sky
Smog On The Water

We fished out our cameras (that double up as phones)
And turned on their auto flash
We pointed them at Charlie and his wife
But all we saw was ash

We squinted harder and harder
To catch a glimpse of royal meat
But when the haze had finally cleared
We saw they'd already beat a retreat

Smog On The Water...And Royals in the Sky
Smog On The Water

#DelhiSmog

==============================================================

Cheers,

CRD

Sunday, 24 September 2017

INDIA'S DEMOGRAPHIC HANDICAP


A UN forecast tips India to surpass China in terms of population by the year 2024. The same forecast estimates that the Indian population could cross 1.5 billion by 2030. To put this in perspective, India and China will together have accounted for almost 38% of the world population by then. But while China's national agenda seems to have given significant focus to population control, India's efforts in this direction thus far have been perfunctory at best. There was a time when large families were considered a blessing because 'many hands make light work'. However, in current times of over-stressed resources, drying investments, dearth of job creation and human jobs being threatened by artificial intelligence, a rapidly rising population could mean a looming crisis.

Only a few months ago, India had surpassed China to emerge as the 'fastest growing large economy'. However, the economy is currently in a tailspin, grappling with high inflation, poor consumer demand, lower private investment and stagnation in exports, among other worrying factors. The demonetisation of November 2016 and the seemingly poorly implemented GST are likely to have given rise to significant uncertainties pertaining to growth, inflation, liquidity and the banking system in the country, at least in the short to mid term. Consequently, there are concerns that GDP growth is likely to drop by at least two percentage points. Some economists opine that a drop of one percent of the GDP leads to the loss of about one million jobs. And worryingly so, a survey conducted by economic think-tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that roughly 1.5 million jobs have been lost between January and April 2017.

As per a UN report, the size of the Indian working-age population increased by 300 million between 1991 and 2013, while the number of employed people increased by only 140 million. In China, the number of jobs grew by 144 million between 1991 and 2013 for a 241 million rise in the working-age population. The relative inability of the Indian economy to generate sufficient employment signifies a serious challenge given the continued expansion of the workforce in India. As per media reports, this situation has worsened ever since, with merely 1.35 lakh new jobs having been created for the 12 million people that entered the workforce during that period. Although the government had initially promised to create one crore jobs per year, one of its pledges for 'New India', as listed on the PM's website wants citizens to be "job creators rather than job seekers".

The Centre has now indicated that they might release a stimulus package to boost the economy and help create more jobs. Needless to say, this needs to be done quickly; the spurt of layoffs being witnessed in the recent months is alarming. Without a quick and sustainable remedy to the looming crisis, India's potential demographic dividend will be rendered a colossal 'demographic handicap'.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

CREPUSCULAR UPLIFTMENT


I Stand At The Foot Of The Hills,
Sapped, Drenched, Hungry, Full Of Despair, 
Gazing Dis-spiritedly At The Summit,
And The Vast Rocky Expanse Leading Up To It.

But Soon As The Orange Sun Emerges,
From Behind The Imposing Peaks Of Green,
And Begins To Bathe The Azure Sky,
In Hues of Orange, Purple and Gold.
   
And As The Sun's Shiny Gilded Rays,
Begin To Seep In Through Slits And Crevices,
Created By The Lazy Lifting,
Of The Woollen Blanket From The Luscious Lofty Hills.

I Wait For 'God's Fingers'
To Gently Cast An Even Sheet Over Me,
And I Wait For The Warmth Of Those Heavenly Rays,
To Dry Out, Renew And Rekindle My Sappy Spirit.

Crepuscular Rays: Rays of sunlight that appear to radiate from the point in the sky where the sun is located, especially those that stream through gaps in clouds or between other objects.

Please feel free to leave comments, whether or not you liked what you read. It's a great way to start a conversation or a dialogue. I might be pretty boring in real life, but I promise I'm a lot more fun in this avatar.

A big thank you to Vidya Nidhi from Bangalore for allowing me to use this wonderful image clicked by her. The photo of Crepuscular Rays was clicked in Munnar, Kerala. Vidya Nidhi is pursuing a Masters' Degree in Psychology at Montfort college, Bangalore. She loves traveling, cooking, and reading. She attributes her interest in psychology to her curious nature. Her Instagram URL is www.instagram.com/vidya.nidhi

I would also like to take this opportunity to share something with you. I have nominated my blog for IndiBlogger's Indian Blogger Awards 2017. I have nominated my blog for 5 award categories, namely Humour, Memoirs, Short Stories, Poetry and Self Improvement. Although the determination of award winners of blogs will largely depend on evaluation by an esteemed jury, about 20% of the scoring will be based on testimonials sent by readers/fans. So if you've ever liked what you've read from my blog, now's the time to show it some love by clicking the link https://www.indiblogger.in/iba/2017/entry/7965 and leaving a testimonial/comment.

You will be able to leave your comment while being logged into FB. Your comments are important to help me pull off a win, or maybe come close. Most importantly, it would let me know where I stand.

Cheers!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

WHY RULES ARE IMPORTANT


Imagine a scenario - You are a young strapping 18 year old youngster, lively and bubbling with energy, and you are standing in a queue to buy tickets for a movie. The movie is extremely popular, and all of your friends have watched it. But you haven't watched it yet, and because of a hectic schedule, today's the only day you can think of watching the movie. But there's a problem - tickets are getting sold super fast, the queue is long, and you're almost at the tail of this queue. But hey, heroes find solutions, don't they? The rules say that you need to be in queue, but winners "bend the rules". So you decide to break the queue, manipulate your way ahead, and get hold of your ticket. You save the day.

Let's change your circumstances a wee bit now. Imagine yourself now as a young man who's physically handicapped, or a man who has brought along his 4-year old kid, or a pregnant lady, or a senior citizen. For all practical purposes, you now prefer to follow the rules and get into the queue. Now imagine a youngster who's standing right behind you trying to break the queue and get ahead of you. How would you react to that?

Chances are you're not going to like it a wee bit. In fact, you might even consider giving the young brat a piece of your mind.

Here's the funny thing about rules - as much as you'd want to be able to do whatever you wanted to do and whenever you wanted to do it, without being bound by rules, you wouldn't want the same absence of rules to apply to everyone else. The reason is simple - it's because of the human need for self-preservation and security.

Here are some interesting things about rules:-

Rules ensure a great deal of consistency. Consistency helps in setting expectations for ourselves and for those around us. In civil society, for instance, we know that if we want to be treated with respect and dignity, we will need to behave ourselves and maintain good conduct, We know that we can not invade others' private spaces and properties - we can not barge into someone's house and grab stuff from their refrigerators, no matter how hungry we might be. We could, however, request for help and assistance; that would be acceptable behaviour. This is what differentiates us from other species. Without any sense of consistency in terms of behaviours and responses to behaviours, we'd all be savages.

Rules foster a sense of trust and security. In the absence of rules, everything in the world would be grabbed and controlled by those who were strong, whether physically or economically; the weak would end up with absolutely nothing. Rules ensure protection for the weak. This is why the Human Race has witnessed the emergence and spread of so many great religions and dogmas over the ages. Religions and their laws were introduced to lay down a set of rules and instil a fear of a higher superior power, who would be the supreme authority. As time progressed, religions would eventually come to be replaced by constitutions, rules, and statutes. Without these in place, society would be rife with injustice and exploitation of the weak.

Rules reduce chaos. Imagine not having traffic rules. Imagine not having queues. Or maybe absence of rules pertaining to celebrations in public spaces. The results would be chaotic, and maybe even dangerous, right? Rules help keep chaotic situations and potential dangers at bay.

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