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Below are the 9 most recent journal entries recorded in Hemanth Chandrasekhar's LiveJournal:

    Thursday, April 28th, 2011
    2:14 pm
    Guru's Words of Wisdom
    I found a nice comment on the Times of India website. I am pasting it after suitable editing:

    Indian (India)
    April 28, 2011, 12:47 PM

    HOW to IDENTIFY a GENUINE Saint or Guru:
    1. Does NOT take MONEY for passing on teachings of ancient sages from Gita, Upanishads & Vedas.
    2. Does NOT TWIST teachings of ancients sages from Gita, Upanishads & Vedas to MANIPULATE people.
    3. Does NOT take CREDIT for teachings of ancient sages from Gita, Upanishads & Vedas.
    4. Does NOT advertise, promote himself like a king,  to be worshiped by others. In fact genuine saints avoid attention and being worshiped. There are many unknown saints working as common people like you and me in offices and also in Himalayas.
    5. Does NOT live a SECRETIVE life, protected by guards and right of admission reserved fortress. Genuine saint lives an OPEN life.
    6. Does NOT care to dress up and show off BODY. Like dying hair, special seat, and other props to boost external image.
    7. Does NOT lead IMPURE life. Absolutely PURE life is a MUST in a genuine saint or guru, as dirty water cannot be used to clean a dirty place. If guru's character is dirty, how can he clean dirt in the heart of the disciple.
    Please RUTHLESSLY EVALUATE ANY TEACHER, SAINT, or GURU before accepting him or her. Don't we VERIFY other things in OUR day to day LIFE??? THEN WHY NOT VERIFY and EVALUATE SAINT, GURU, TEACHER??? Be a DISCIPLE or DEVOTEE BUT NEVER BE A FOOL!!! Best Wishes to ALL

    NOTE: The ancient Sages of the Upanishads are REAL MEN, as they did NOT even bother to put their names as authors as they did NOT CARE about NAME and FAME. They are REAL MEN.

    [Due respects to the unknown copyright holder]

    Current Mood: awake
    Monday, July 9th, 2007
    4:15 pm

    I once worked on a project about "Internet Security". As part of this project, I had an opportunity to read many articles about all the dangerous actions that are possible on the web. I read about internet stalking, internet related crimes, etc. Many people talked about the enormous amount of private information that was collected by the government that would help them become extremely authoritarian. There are numerous articles about how people went through garbage, so it is not sufficient to be concerned about on-line security, now you have to be careful with what you throw in the trash. Some of the articles suggested encryption of all web traffic, and a very high level of security.

    After this project, I became quite paranoid about security. I made sure that no "personally identifiable information" of mine was out there on the Internet. I tried my best to ensure that one address (personal e-mail, for example) is not mappable to any other information (personal postal address, for example). Even with this, somehow, I got one fraudulent credit card transaction, to which I immediately sent out an indignant postal mail to the credit card company and got the charge canceled. In my complaint I talked about the importance of security in the big bad on-line world.

    That was way back in 1997-2000. It has been almost 10 years since then. I am sprouting gray hair, growing wrinkles under my eyes, which I am not able to see. I now think of the newer internet "phreaks" as a different generation. Enter Orkut.

    Orkut is this fantastic website that is used by everyone about 5 years younger than me. It is the Orwellian dream come true. People seem to have no qualms to relinquish their most private information to the general public.

    "shall we go for coffee?", says one scrap.

    "ok, let's meet up at coffee day lavelle road at 5:30pm", is the real-time reply that appears in a few seconds. Wow! I must compliment Google for somehow coaxing people to give out information that a 100 RFID tags could never achieve. When I look at some scrap books, I see a generation of obsessive compulsive refreshers (maybe I could call them Generation F5).

    "i miss you very much" says one person in their scrap. Well, what about the other 109 friends you have? Don't you miss them? Would they not be dismayed to read it, especially since you seem to have had a party at the Athena bar last night?

    Recently, I talked to my wife about one particular entry in her scrapbook that was not socially elegant. "Why are you reading my scrap book?" was her reply. So, what exactly is the purpose of the scrapbook if it is not meant to be read by the general public? If the message is meant to be private, should it not be sent by e-mail?

    "my cell phone number is 98860 xxxxx," says a scrap. Ok - why are you sending your cell phone number to the whole world? - I ask the user. "That's ok," is the reply, "my cell phone number is on my website, anyway."

    That means ..... er..... I google for her name. Sure enough - I am able to find her cell phone number. Why, o why, wasn't it so easy before I got married? Note to self in next life: Don't ask girls for phone number just google for it.

    *NEWS FLASH* Glasgow bomber is Bangalorean, yada yada yada
    I skim through the article ... Orkut..... Orkut? Well, it seems that this terrorist has an Orkut account. Wow! I thought, Google is Great! They have managed to convince terrorists to give away their private information to the public! Maybe they should team up with Google Earth or Wikimap to provide us with their location also. What Bush could not do with billions of dollars has been achieved by Orkut Büyükkökten.

    I close my eyes and a dream sequence begins:

    Police Inspector scrapping Terrorist: Surrender! You will never win!

    Terrorist scraps back: You have to be lucky every time, while we have to be lucky just once!

    Police Inspector: You have been surrounded! Resistance is futile! Give in while you can and you have an opportunity to salvage your life!

    Terrorist: We shall never give in and never give up!

    Police Inspector scraps: (holding gun to your head)

    Terrorist scraps: (doing the matrix-like-trinity action)

    Police Inspector scraps: (morphing into agent)

    Terrorist: goddammit! an agent!

    Police Inspector morphed into agent scraps: You are under arrest for breaking section 420 of the IPC.

    Agent scraps: You have the right to remain silent. If you forfeit this right, anything you say or do, can and will be used against you in a court of law.

    Agent scraps: You have the right to hire an attorney. If you are unable to do so, one can be provided to you by the court of law.

    Agent now puts the terrorist in Orkut jail where he languishes, protecting the Orkutian world.

    Current Mood: giggly
    Monday, May 14th, 2007
    8:47 pm
    Wannabe 'Mericans and Millionaires
    I first heard the term "Wannabe 'Mericans" from my friend's cousin who was born & brought up in U.S. She might have called us that because we were playing the guitar, and the usual college boy stuff that my friend and I were famous for.

    Actually, she was right. I was a Wannabe 'Merican at that time. I had to change my mind after I had the opportunity to actually work and live in the U.S., and eventually realized a lot of things, as much about myself as about America, which is probably too long and delicate to write in one blog.

    Most Indian middle class people are still probably Wannabe 'Mericans. They have this notion that life will somehow magically improve once they are in the U.S. - that money will buy them all the riches and solve their problems. I now believe that this is not the solution - again, I am digressing. Anyway, most Indian middle class children were encouraged by their parents, who thought that life would be much better for them as a doctor or engineer on the other side of the fence.

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The myth is especially reinforced by the fence. Emigrating to the U.S. has always been hampered by the Department of Homeland Security (formerly called as INS). They have imposed so much bureaucratic restriction on immigration to the U.S. by Indian Citizens that most Indian middle class people have not had the opportunity to even visit the U.S., let alone live there.

    Actually, a good part of the problem could possibly be blamed on Indians who have set the precedent by illegally emigrating to the U.S. This precedent was used to justify the hardships imposed by the INS on would be visitors, and an almost complete ban on immigration by the general Indian citizens.

    What is probably not as well known is the contribution to this "fence" by the Indian government. Someone who is familiar with some 1970s era of the Indian government will tell you how the Indian government was becoming more socialistic at that time. They were trying to create a controlled economy, similar to the Soviet Union. The controlled economy forbade the conversion of the INR (Indian Rupee) to the USD (U.S. Dollar) except in some very specific cases.

    Initially, it was hard to convert the USD to INR too. This created a very active black market in the USD within India, because the ubiquitous oil rich USD would rule strong in an increasingly consumerist, hence oil thirsty country.

    The ability to convert USD to INR at a floating rate was probably the first to be introduced, to encourage NRIs (non resident Indian) to repatriate their money, thereby allowing India to pay for some oil. The situation became worse, because no NRI wanted to do that - the INR was steadily dropping in value and converting it back to foreign currency was very difficult. Most NRIs only did this on a need basis. India had no option but to exercise a very tight control on their INR-to-USD outflow.

    This lead to an infamous forex crisis of 1991. Before that, it was extremely hard to get USD. Students could not pay for their education abroad. The only way a student could even go abroad was by getting extremely competitive full scholarships. They had to keep studying abroad, until they got a job - some job that would hopefully allow them to emigrate. Most emigrants had to be very hardworking and very bright. For someone who worked so hard and competed so fiercely, the grass better have been lush green on the other side.

    The financial crisis of 1991 forced the Indian government to open its doors to foreign investment, so that it can get some badly needed USD. India was also forced to allow some expenditure of its USD for the betterment of its own citizens. Students were allowed to obtain forex. Indians were allowed to work abroad and keep their forex. Indian companies were given incentives to earn money in foreign exchange, starting the huge India/IT/Outsourcing boom.

    Now for the second part of my story. There is this guy who lives near my house. He probably owns a large piece of land. I think his name is Ramaiah, Somaiah, Nanaiah or something else I don't remember. At that time, I wouldn't really care. Let's call him Ramaiah. I would not expect him to be very literate (the phrase "10th standard fail" comes to my mind). Of course, I should never judge people I don't know, but whatever. If you are still confused about Ramaiah's character, imagine a typical street smart local Bangalorean (the emphasis is on street smart over intellectual/educated).

    The proverbial Ramaiah would typically buy land where ever possible, through hook or crook, and really not do much else. Such land would usually have some huts, or some shabbily built houses. We would probably not have thought much of Ramaiah or his land. We would normally have our eyes set on the green grass on the other side of the fence. Anyway, the other side of the fence would have money, luxuries, materialism, freedom - it was the great party. There was never any doubt that anything we could possibly want would be on that side of the fence.

    Then, Bangalore boomed, earnings went up, although the fence was still there, it mattered less. India was going global - you could buy some of the same consumer goods in India now - Ferrero Rocher's became passe. Burgeoning consumerism caused a burgeoning economy. The communists would be courting the capitalists.

    Sometime around June 2002, something unprecedented happened. The USD value reached an all-time high of 49 rupees and started dropping. The USD had never gone down in value since the late 70s, or probably even earlier. For the first time in nearly 30 years, it made more sense to convert unspent USD to INR. By now, the annual conversion limit had been raised to almost USD 10,000, which is quite a lot for an average middle class Indian citizen.

    Around April 2004, it reached a low of around 43 rupees. The RBI decided that it needed to do something to prevent large fluctuations, that can cause economic chaos, so it did something that was unprecedented. It allowed Indians to convert their money to USD just for investment purposes. You didn't have to show a compelling reason. You could just convert up to USD 25,000 worth of INR per year, and hold it in the form of stocks, bonds or anything. You could even buy real estate, although nothing practical could be bought for USD 25,000. In May 2007, the RBI raised this limit to USD 100,000.

    Recently, I read an article in the Times of India. It was about how a family of 5 people could, theoretically, invest USD 100,000 each and immigrate to the U.S. with the minimum amount for the EB-5 visa. The visa has many constraints, but the fundamental concept is intriguing. If a family of 5 owns a property worth Rs. 2 crores, there is a potential opportunity for them to emigrate to the U.S. Someone who has some idea of the land rates in Bangalore would probably understand that Rs. 2 crores is a feasible amount. Of course, there are many other requirements for the EB-5 visa that make it tougher, but that is not my point.

    I asked my mom what she would do if there were an opportunity for all of us to go settle in the U.S. and never return. She gave me a look of surprise and asked me how. I told her that we could sell our house, get the money and emigrate. Her surprise became a shock. She would never sell our house.

    I wondered about Ramaiah now. His land must surely be able to fetch more than 1 million USD. Would he want to leave it all and go to the US? I know many middle class families, who left their homeland, never to return. My feeling is that Ramaiah would never do this. What would you do if you were to choose between US & money? The Indian middle class did not have to choose, until now. Once you choose to be like Ramaiah, the drive to study, and become a doctor, engineer, or whatever goes down the drain.

    On the other hand, if you despise people like Ramaiah, what would be your justification for studying to become a doctor or engineer? It surely can't be to go to the US (since he can do that too) or to become rich (ditto)? You could always use the word "fair" or "chance" to justify your actions, and imply that somehow you are still better off.

    Or you could just close your eyes and refuse to see the fence - it will disappear.

    Current Mood: contemplative
    Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
    9:33 pm
    After a hot March-April, the thunderstorm was refreshing.

    I love the rain, the way it makes the trees green in a day; the wonderful smell of the wet soil.

    I love to watch the rain pour down; to listen to the sound as it hits the ground; the pitter patter as it turns to a roar; to watch my son run out and squeal; to watch him try and taste the rain.

    I love to watch the thunderstorm; the menacing grey clouds threaten the blue and white; the ultraviolet lightning crack the sky; the precipitation emerge from the clouds to hit the ground.

    For a second, I think of the mango crop, which is affected by early rainfall. I think of global warming. I think of floods washing away people, cars and houses.

    Then the beauty stops me. All my senses urge me to look, listen, smell, feel & taste.

    I love the rain.
    Friday, October 27th, 2006
    8:06 am
    GDP Driven Society
    Imagine two societies:
    Society 1 is a loving caring society. Everybody looks after everyone else's children like their own. When children go to play, they typically land up in the first house close by. Generally, the people treat them warmly, serve them food, maybe even sleep overnight. Their parents know this and are not worried of their safety - they know that the children are taken care of where ever they go. The children are also kind and understanding - they help the family, if they require assistance around the house and will not burden anyone with too much responsibility. People in the streets take care of them, people everywhere contribute to bringing them up properly. In the evenings, people spend their time talking to each other, playing, generally interacting.

    Society 2 is a different society. Everybody is bothered about their own money and riches. Each child has his/her own allowance and they use it to buy their own food wherever they go. They have to pay to enter every place, and stay in any house or hotel. They need to have paid servants to take care of the children - so that they learn to behave properly and that they do not hurt themselves. They are harder to manage because they are not responsible children, causing damage wherever they go. People generally do not interfere in other people's business or talk to other's children unless they are authorised to. In the evenings, people generally watch TV, have dinner and sleep.

    Both societies have exactly the same population. Both societies earn their revenue through sugar cane cultivation - they earn exactly the same revenue.

    Society 1 is cleaner because people care for each other's house - each other's roads. They take care to ensure that garbage is disposed properly. The houses and roads are well planned because people realise their need to have a common plan and all agree to it. They agree on how to build houses, pavements, parks and how to maintain them. Society 1 is more educated because everyone cares for all children and each child gets their best opportunity to learn from the best in society. Society 1 is healthier because there is almost no food/water contamination, no air pollution - almost no need for doctors and medicines. People have more love in society 1.

    Society 2 is dirtier because people throw their garbage into other people's houses or on the streets. They have to pay more to people to clean the dirty streets. Each person bothers about his house only. They have constant health problems because of which they have to visit doctors and spend a lot of money on medicines. They need to spend enormous donations to get their children into even an ordinary school and college. They seldom talk to each other, if at all, it is to settle a dispute, such as asking for money. Although people earn a lot more money here, the costs are also proportionately higher because they need to pay for everything which was taken for granted in Society 1.

    Which society has a higher GDP? The answer is, surprisingly, society 2.
    Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
    3:09 pm
    ಬರಹ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿದರೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಕೀಬೋರ್ಡಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಬರೆಯಲಾಗುವುದು. ಯೂನಿಕೋಡ್ ಬಳಸುವ ವೆಬ್ಸೈಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಊಹೆ, ಕಾವ್ಯ, ಕಥೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆಯಬಹುದು. ಸಂಪದ ಎಂಬುವ ವೆಬ್ಸೈಟನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ.

    ಬರಹ ಬಳಸಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಉಳಿಸಿ!

    Current Mood: crazy
    Thursday, September 21st, 2006
    7:31 pm
    papilio demoleus tineum ut mei uxor
    Pardon my Latin!

    As I might have mentioned I like growing things. I could have called it gardening except for the fact that have no garden. I like to plant seeds in plastic covers and watch them grow. I hope to plant them in soil somewhere, but I have only done that to two so far. Among my plants are a few lemon saplings.

    Recently, I noticed that their leaves were all gone. My first instinct was to blame my little son but his confused face made me think again. When I looked at the sapling, I found a big caterpillar proudly sitting on the branch. Questioning revealed that our maid had already noticed it, and informed us that there were two.

    It was brilliantly camouflaged. You would not see it without careful examining the plant, but when my wife noticed it, she shrieked and grabbed me. My nature is to leave it alone, but, I guess, my wife's nature is to protect her son. What if it is dangerous? (It does look very dangerous) What if it is poisonous? (ok - I said that)

    To make matters worse, my wife tried to remove it and found out that it "fights back". Its "eyes" move and grow larger. It spits out a "forked" tongue. Now, I was scared to go anywhere within 10 feet of this creature. I think my wife did not sleep that night.

    The next day, I went out to see the state of my other plants. One caterpillar was not to be found. The other one had moved to another plant. I suspected that one was eaten by a nocturnal animal - maybe a bat. I had to remove the remaining caterpillar and throw it away into the empty house next to us. I did this by cutting the leaf where it sat without touching it. I new that it would also be found and eaten.

    All curiosity leads to Google. I just found a cool website, scary pictures, some information and a picture.

    We are all children.
    Wednesday, September 20th, 2006
    12:22 am
    Bangalore Buzz
    What is happening to the Bangalore Buzz?

    Those were the days when dance floors were banned, and police would arrive at the seen, after 11:00. Recently, I went to <Famous Bangalore Disco>.

    I remember going here the previous time - it was great. At that time, there was this city ordinance banning dance clubs. The police were also very strict, and arrived at the scene at around 11:15 pm. The DJ just stopped the music and disappeared. We had a great time though. The music was excellent, and we all had a lot of fun. The place was packed and the crowd was good - there were hardly any good dancers, but everyone was very enthusiastic.

    The recent trip was weird. The music was not great. The crowd seemed to be lost - most people seemed completely lost. Their bad dancing stood out. People were more interested in being "cool" than enjoying themselves. Infact, it was more like they were a nuisance. We must have danced till 11:30. Then we started wondering why the police have not arrived yet. We went out onto the lovely terrace and looked up at the not-so-starry but cool sky. It was beautiful, but quiet. Then we talked - yes, that's right, talked in a dance club. We must have decided to go back at around 11:45 - the police had not arrived yet.

    What was different this time? Why didn't we enjoy it as much as we used to? Were we enjoying it just because it was forbidden fruit? Initially, forbidden by our parents, then by the police. It is a culture shock - trying to rebel against freedom. Now that I have everything - girl, dance floor, no questions asked, suddenly it is not so appealing. It was not only un-appealing, it was also boring. So why did we go through it? Is this culture becoming a ritual? Just like the rituals that we rebelled against? Has our rebellion against rituals created more rituals?

    Just imagine how proud our parents would be if we told them that we don't want to go anywhere - just sit on the terrace and talk.
    12:20 am
    Welcome to my journal. The exciting adventures of a die hard nerd.