Congress Does Not Deserve Aiyar

Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar did not say anything wrong.

The silly Indian media with intellectually deficient anchors like Sanket and Anand Narasimhan are playing to the gallery by twisting his statements.

Modi is a cheap politician who will stoop to any depths for poll gains.

But Aiyar should walk out of the Congress as the party is not standing by him even when he is right.

Aiyar, Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tiwari and Sachin Pilot are among leaders who can intelligently counter the BJP’s evil ways with facts and strong arguments. The Congress does not deserve them.

It is a pity the English channels have fully sold themselves to the BJP.

G Joslin Vethakumar


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London Classic – All Even After Rd 1

After playing attacking chess, Anand gave away the winning edge with some weak moves that gave Nakamura a breather in Round 1 of the London Classic yesterday.

Given that Anand has consistently been troubled by Nakamura the last few years, it’s a pity he missed the chance to be the only player to score a full point on Day 1.

Carlsen drew with Caruana and the other eight too signed the peace treaty.

Nakamura had beaten Anand in the 2015 London Classic.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Books that Shaped Career of Futurist, an “Introvert Thinker”

Billionaire innovator Elon Musk’s assertion that he was raised by “books, and then parents” has sparked in me an urge for some reflection on impulses I succumbed to.

A futurist drawn to Artificial Intelligence even while being vocal about the dangers inherent in the apocalyptic bot revolution under way, Elon Musk, Tesla founder, is a man driven by innovation, drawing inspiration from books. As this CNBC report points out, while Musk, an introvert thinker, studied physics and economics, he learnt about rockets only from books.

They include books on how “computational intelligence surpasses human intelligence” and on how “scientists with political and corporate connections have purposefully muddied the facts around many public health issues”.

Incongruities from ground realities point to lofty ideals getting derailed by the pace of change. On the one hand, books do kindle the thinking faculty, spurring creativity if the objectives are tuned to individual aspirations. On the other, reading is a habit on the wane, if it is not dead yet.

CX Fun

The Web, TV, Entertainment and Books – the ubiquitous Smart Phone is consuming them all! An all-in-one platform, aligned with new-generation CX (Customer Experience) trends, the phone is no threat to any leisure or learning activity. It has become a device packed with enormous punch.

As an employee of a global leader helping businesses deliver compelling digital-era customer experiences, I can see the value of a unified platform, with native technologies enabling contextual journeys. So it is with a super-smart phone!

Musk and Reading 4

The digression aside, NOT Reading is NOT an Option!

Life-Long Learning

To inject an element of contradiction into the argument, my own view is that if you want to write books, don’t read too much! It will blunt your imagination and take that spark of originality away from you.

This, though, is an advice that I DON’T want you to follow. I don’t want someone to sue me 20 years down the road, claiming that my post made him give up reading while not helping him become a writer!

Books based on fact, such as on science and technology (or any other subject of interest), are certain to be of value for life-long learning, a concept gaining ground amid an environment of constant change on every front. Biographies can be exciting, too. Books full of ideas can be fun, too!

If it can help stoke the creativity in you and prevent influences of any plagiaristic mould, then go for it full throttle.

There are a million reasons why reading is critical for your wellbeing. I don’t want to amplify it when author Will Schwalbe has authoritatively captured it well in his work, Books for Living.

Here is a fun sample of his rationale:

  • “When I can’t stand to look at one more hateful tweet from the president, I read a book.”
  • “When I turn on the television to hear the news and all I hear is people shouting and talking over one another, I read a book.”
  • “When I realize that I have 1,200 unread emails, I read a book.”
  • “When the apartment is a mess and friends are on their way over, I read a book.”
  • “When I’m stressed, I grab a book.”

It hardly matters if it is escapism. If it can stimulate your senses and put you on a path of rediscovery, everything else matters less.

Unfettered Space

I am not a somebody (I am a nobody, if that reads better), but blogdom has given us all an unfettered space for universalising our thoughts. They can be relevant or can verge on rambling, what counts is that our freedom of expression is limited only by self-restraint, with no editors to spike or squash our pieces.

While I have always been passionate about writing, my other interests kept me away from reading as much as I ought to have, notwithstanding my Master’s in English Literature. I have been dreaming of writing a novel for decades without any deep interest in reading fiction. By the time I write one, the reading habit may have evaporated, consigning my work of fiction to antiquity.

I must blame it on the social media, with blogging (such as this one) consuming much of my free time. That can be drilled down to too much reading – real news, fake news, obsessive views and what not! Venting one’s frustrations in social platforms will take you nowhere, scuppering your plans in the process.

Fischer, an Inspiration

As a student, inspired by the genius of Bobby Fischer, I wanted to be a world champion, frequenting the Michael Tal Chess Club at the House of Soviet Culture in Madras (now Chennai) and spending my evenings at the Egmore Stadium, playing the game with enthusiasts who were regulars there. I could not go beyond being the Madras Division Champion although I have had the satisfaction of beating International Masters.

Enough of my self-flagellation (or, conversely, self-praise), let me get to the books that have helped shape the career of Elon Musk.

I have not read any of the eight books that have made an impact on his life. I don’t think I will want to read all of them as by the time I do new perceptions may have come into play. However, as someone interested in biographies, I think I will pick up two – the ones on Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Indira Gandhi and Diana, Charming and Charismatic!

Lady Diana will remain a charming princess and ageless beauty even when her birth centenary is observed in 2061!!

The thought, however outlandish it may seem, crossed my mind while reading tributes pouring in for Indira Gandhi on her centenary today. Celebrations were muted and that is not a surprise!

Nonetheless, Indira’s place in history as one of India’s finest prime ministers ever can never be erased. She was 67 years old when she was assassinated on October 31, 1984.

I was a journalist then in Hyderabad and the news broke out when I was interviewing the DK leader, K Veeramani.

Indira and DianaCentenary or not, Indira Gandhi charmed the world as an iron lady but she remained a shy leader and very much feminine. I remember having seen a photograph in a newspaper of her looking embarrassed when late PLO leader Yasser Arafat tried to give her a hug.

She is often compared to late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. To me, Indira Gandhi reminds me of Diana, with both being charismatic and charming!

I did not have the opportunity to see either of them in flesh and blood. My mother, though, had met Indira Gandhi

Coincidentally, today was my mother-in-law’s birth anniversary – and I gave myself a nice gift. I will let what it is remain a mystery.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Veda(la) Nilayam is Temple of Crime

Jayalalitha, the Queenpin!

TTV Dhinakaran is dead right! Partially! In his words, Veda (ought to be “Vedala”, as I had said in one of my earlier posts,) Nilayam is like a temple.

And why not? After all, it has been a temple of crime since corruption-convicts Jayalalitha and Sasikala banded together to hatch and execute loot conspiracies.

Late chief minister Jayalalitha timed her death right. Otherwise, she will have been giving her heartthrob company in the Bangalore jail.

The world will possibly never know whether it was natural or induced, given that India is a country where the mighty rich, even if it is through looted wealth, only get rewarded, not convicted, for murder.

The Sasikala gang being referred to as the Mannargudi Mafia is hardly out of whack. But then the real culprit is Jayalalitha herself. She pampered the Sasikala family and gave them all the political clout to loot all they can.

Tamilians are a special kind of fools – they will hero-worship criminals and take to the streets over petty issues.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Trump, the Most Fickle President?

Hype, hyperbole and fickleness are a typical part of the corporate tradition. World leaders also have this attribute as they have a mandate to do what is in the best interests of the countries they govern.

This, though, is hilarious – Trump imagining the U.S. and China could jointly solve the world’s problems!

Hegemonic China, known for stealing technologies and causing regional tensions with its incursions, can solve the problems of the world? What a joke! It is a country incapable of thinking beyond itself!

G Joslin Vethakumar 

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SIA Showcases Insanity, Lack of Empathy with Passengers and Third-Rate Service!

My confirmed flight from Chennai to Singapore on Nov. 7 will have taken less than four hours to bring me back home without the engine trouble it ran into. Instead, in what is plain SIA insanity and service inefficiency, passengers were made to sit inside the aircraft for five hours while SIA’s engineers were trying to fix the issue.

After they gave up, the passengers were asked to deplane and moved to a hotel that was about 15 km away from the airport. And this even as Chennai was amid massive floods and waterlogged roads ridden with potholes!

We had boarded the flight around 10.45pm and by the time we were ejected it was around 3.30am. It took about 90 minutes more for us to pick up our bags, board the available transportation and move to the hotel. The next few hours we had to negotiate alternative flight options and then we were packed off to the airport.

While SIA is to be commended for detection of the engine fault before take-off, no one enjoys being stranded at airports with substandard service and a lackadaisical approach that betrayed a lack of empathy with the situation passengers had ended up with.

Some of us were given a ticket on a 11.30 am Air India flight to Chennai, which typically is cheaper than an SIA ticket. I took that as I wanted the earliest option to fly to Singapore.


Missing Meetings, Losing Money/Time and Endling up with Needless Stress!

The grounding meant I missed my flight from Singapore to Manila, which was also by the SIA.

My scheduled business meetings in Manila went for a toss. Novotel, where I had booked a room for a two-day stay in Manila, was categorical that I will have to make the payment for the day I lost out due to the airline’s fault. So, SIA has not only made me lose face by missing meetings planned more than a month ago but time and money as well. Add to it sleepless nights and needless stress, too!

The SIA staff in Chennai confirmed that I had been booked on the earliest flight out to Manila on Nov. 8 (scheduled for 9.20am). But on arrival in Singapore it was a different story. I found no such booking had been made. In short, the SIA’s style of functioning is to goof up and then penalise the passenger!

Return Flight Missing from my Bookings!

They even appeared to have cancelled my return flight from Manila on Nov. 11 though I missed the original Nov. 8 flight ONLY because the airline had cancelled the Chennai-Singapore leg for Nov. 7. At least that was missing from the system when I was checking my bookings from the SIA website!

I made a few calls to the SIA 24-hour line and the agents had no clue about my situation. To their credit, they were polite even when I was losing patience. But they were not able to resolve the issue that was of SIA’s own making. The first agent I spoke to told me she would get an SIA representative to call me. Two hours passed without a return call.

I then picked up the phone again, this time another agent answered my call, telling me he would get an expedited call from a SIA representative. Now it is about two hours since then, and past midnight, and I am still waiting for that elusive call!

Personal Ramblings New

G Joslin Vethakumar

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