Opinion Polls

I don’t give a damn to opinion polls conducted in India. In UK though, in the two general elections I have seen (2001, 2005) the pollsters had called it right. But 2010 elections appear to be a very close call and heading for a tight finish. The below Yougov / Sun poll suggests that the hung parliament is a very distinct possibility, inspite of Sun being open supporters of Tories.

Conservatives 36
Labour 34
Liberal Democrats 17
Other 13

If this poll is anything to go by, 13% (Others) is a big number in this context and they hold the key. Have a weird feeling that Lab + Lib Dems will form a coalition government in May.

TV Adverts

Just heard about the small print ticker in the on-going IPL matches in India where they are asking to viewers to call a certain number apparently to ‘meet’ the cheer leaders. Now, this gets interesting. What is the product / service they are trying to sell here?

I haven’t seen any Indian adverts in the recent times, but I guess we have come a long way. In mid-90s, despite being the title sponsor of the cricket World Cup, it was not possible to air Wills cigar adverts coz of it being a tobacco product. During the 13-day BJP rule in 1996, Sushmma Swaraj banned a certain advert (if I remember, it is a Videocon advert) for being implicitly vulgar. I am not sure if such controls are still in place. If they are, it is ridiculous to have such things (I mean the restrictions) in place, when you can air the adverts for meeting the cheer leaders.

T20

“Now if IPL really wants more money, teams can score + buy runs. The other one has to buy back or chase. 1 lakh/run”. This idea is not mine. It is one of Chetan Bhagat’s tweets.

If you are gasping, look at another one of his gems. “Why are there so many low-scoring matches this IPL? They should remove the stumps for 5 overs or something”. 🙂

I hope, wish and pray that likes of Lalit Modi shouldn’t get these ideas.

Hospital Stay

It started with the common cold and fever for Anirud. When we took him to the doctor thinking that it could be chicken pox, he suggested that we consult the pediatrician, who sent us to a different hospital for monitoring his health, as they were not sure about the cause of fever. To cut a long story short, while the temperature graph spiked high on and off, few tests were done on Anirud and the cause of the fever was established. As I type, he is still convalescing, but a lot better than how he was.

But this post was not about Anirud’s health. It is about Stoke Mandeville hospital, where he was admitted for five days. Ever since I came to UK, I am used to people crib a lot about NHS. At times, I have been frustrated – but mostly at not getting the appointment sooner enough from the doctor’s surgery. Fortunately, we never had the necessity to use the services of NHS all these years. The past week as you know, proved to be an aberration. The way Anirud was taken care of at the hospital was really great. The staff at the hospital were really excellent. As worried parents, we had lots of questions and looking at the way they answered, it seems that they have mastered patience as an art. Although it was the toughest week for us, as a family, the hospital made it a lot easier for us. We do owe it to them.

Non-Vegetarian

Few years ago, an ex-manager of mine who happened to be a vegetarian had a customary dinner with one of his prestigious client. The client, being a very famous hotelier had taken personal interest in selecting the menu at one of his restaurants. My manager, who clearly didn’t expect the kind of hospitality was very embarassed to say that he was a vegetarian and proceeded with the dinner, without having a clue of what he ate. After the dinner, out of the ear shot of his client, he asked about the menu to one of the waiters. The waiter, who was beaming with pride on serving such a tasteful menu told him that the main item was an aligator. He had further told him that what my manager ate was the tail of the aligator, which was supposedly the ‘tastiest’ part of that animal. I am not sure if that bit of info pleased him or not, but he did realise that overnight he had come a long way from being a ‘pure vegetarian’.

Being a vegetarian myself, my knowledge on non-vegetarian cuisine is limited to the basics. While browsing through a discount vouchers website recently, I accidentally came across a restaurant called Archipelago in London, who is supposedly famous for serving Kangaroo and Ostrich fillets. Thanks to the above mentioned incident, I know the extent to which people go to satisfy their tongue buds. So, I was not entirely shocked or awed at the menu. But one item, that this restaurant is also famous for is – hold your breath – chocolate dipped scorpions. Eeek… they have a picture of that stuff in their website. Didn’t know people eat scorpions and all. Well, when people can stomach snakes, scorpions aren’t that bad. At least, in size. But I couldn’t digest it. I meant the thought.

Carnatic Music @ Milton Keynes

Dhwani, a group from Milton Keynes in UK formed to celebrate the cultural diversity of music is holding a Carnatic Music concert at Chrysalis Theatre in MK on Sunday, 11th April 2010. Vocalists Ranjani and Gayathri are accompanied by Jyotsana Srikanth on violin and Sudhindhra on Mridangam. Check out their budding website or drop an email at dhwani.mk [at] googlemail [dot] com, should you need more details.

Personally, I am looking forward to the event as its about 10 years since I attended a Carnatic concert. Not that I am a connoiseur, but am certainly an interested fan. When I attended the last one at London in July 2000, little did I know that it will be a memorable one for I got a chance to interact with Dr. K.J.Yesudas that day.

Ranji Trophy and Nits

If I don’t write anything about our dear Nits, I risk being cursed by his devotees. So, I better. 🙂

Are people really that gullible to believe in Nits? Couple of years ago, I was very surprised at how people with good standing in the society were spreading ‘his’ message at a gathering here in London. Poor guys, they willingly believed in someone and once the image they had of him was shattered, they couldn’t stand it. Few weeks down the line, this issue will get watered down and the same people will be behind another ‘anandha’.

Saw the below comment in Facebook, that was very interesting.

Nithyananda clean bowled even after winning ‘Ranji’ trophy. Evident beyond doubt through third umpire’s camera. However authorities refused to play clips in slow motion as requested by enthusiasts of the game.

TV Licensing and Beeb

BBC’s strategy review announcement yesterday raised quite a few eyebrows here. As part of the review, Beeb has come forward to close down few radio channels including 6Music and Asia Network, in addition to reducing number of sections in BBC website. As the debate goes on at various forums about Beeb’s decision to cut down certain areas and focus on its core business, there are lots of questions on whether or not our licencing fee is properly utilised. Expectedly, there are calls to cut down the management layer and pay scales rather than services.

Talking about TV Licence, my take is that it should be totally done away with. I don’t have any gripe about the quality of the programmes in the channels that are funded by the licencing fee. Also, it is joy watching the channels without being interrupted by commercial adverts. But, at around £140 a year it is an exorbidant fee to pay for that small pleasure. The concept of TV Licence was introduced long ago, when BBC was the only broadcaster in the country and sustaining the costs with the help of commercials was perhaps not a feasible idea. I am sure we have come a long way since then. Now, what is stopping the powers that be in scrapping the licencing fee? As we are just limping out of recession, wouldn’t this give a bit of relief to numerous households? Although it is not something that can be done easily, as it requires an amendment to a legislation, it is not an undoable thing.

While I was pleased that many people (in many different forums) had similar views w.r.t. TV licencing, opposition to this idea could also be found in good measure. As far as I could understand, people who want the licencing to stay argue that watching TV without adverts is sort of a bliss and £11.x a month is well worth it. May be, they have a point. But, the amusing part is that, most of such people point their fingers at US and say ‘If we do away with the TV licencing, it would be like USA and we wouldn’t be able to stand it.. blah blah’. I have never been to the other side of Atlantic. Is there something terribly wrong with the TV channels there?

Rajiv Assasination Case

Just finished reading Ragothaman’s ‘Rajiv Kolai Vazhakku’ (Rajiv Assasination Case) book. In all, it took me just over couple of hours to finish. A riveting read indeed. No wonder this book became a super hit in the recent book fair.

It was very interesting to read the first person account of the Chief Investigating Officer of the Rajiv Gandhi assasination case. I was fifteen when Rajiv was assasinated. So, thankfully I don’t have to rely on books or hearsay while recalling the events associated with the assasination – public outcry against LTTE, CBI’s reward announcements for capturing Sivarasan / Subha, frustration when the duo were allowed to commit suicide at Konanakunte after being encircled for hours. Ragothaman’s book brings back those memories apart from providing lot of background information. The author laments the lax attitude of various agencies (Police, Intelligence etc) before and after the assasination and also pins the blame on the powers that be for putting up several hurdles during the investigation. Ragothaman has made some specific charges against the SIT Chief D.R. Karthikeyan for choosing not to embarass any of the Tamil leaders including Karunanidhi, Vaiko, Maragatham Chandrasekhar etc.

Although this is the book authored by a cop (alright, a CBI investigator), it feels very odd when the book inadervently gives a soft natured image to the policemen. Of course, no cop will admit to human rights excesses that has become the norm in such investigations and also dealing with that aspect of the investigation is not the aim of this book, but just that it gives a weird feeling when one thinks about it. May be, it reflects Ragothaman’s personality.

Having read few books of Pa. Raghavan, I could see his hand in editing this book. I would be really, really surprised if I were to know that he was not involved in shaping up this book.

One of the reasons for the success of this book – apart from the sensational nature of the case – is that, the author not only explains how they went about the case from a clean slate, but also shares his frustration at being controlled by remote powers with so many hidden agendas. This is something that most people who followed the Rajiv case could identify with. In all, a great book to read.