Thursday, October 28, 2004 

Does anyone care any more?

Unpleasant facts ... harsh reality ...
  • The US death toll in Iraq has crossed 2,000. Does this number shock you?
  • 30,000 Afghans and Iraqis are estimated to have died in the War on Terror. Does this number shock you? At all?
  • While there isn't anyone bothering to keep official count - Iraq Body Count, an independent website that keeps track of only media-reported civilian deaths, states that a minimum 11,798 Iraqi civilians have died in the war so far. Independent estimates of Iraqi military deaths puts their toll close to 5,000.
  • Afghanistan was an even more skewed story. The number of US military deaths in Afghanistan was 132. Once again, though there wasn't anyone keeping official track of the Afghan death toll, a study by an American academic estimated that at least 3,800 civilians died in Afghanistan and independent estimates suggest that military deaths could be close to 10,000.
  • This total figure of 30,000 is more than the number of people killed in terrorist acts in the last 35 years - studies show 22,000 people have been killed in terrorist incidents since 1968.
  • And this is excluding the estimated fifteen lakh Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.
  • The cost of reconstruction and related aid has been estimated at $23 billion in Iraq and $30 billion in Afghanistan which seems much smaller than the $100 billion loss caused by the WTC attacks. But while the WTC losses translate to 0.91% of US GDP, it amounts to 59% of Iraq's GDP and 150% of Afghanistan's GDP in 2003.


Since Iraq is, for all official purposes, occupied by US (ok, ok, "coalition") forces, in a war started by the US, and since the Iraqis will be severely affected by the outcome of the US elections -- does all this not make Iraq akin to a satellite state of the US? In which case, why shouldn't Iraqis be allowed to vote during the US elections? Wonder if the turnout would be very pro-Republican ...

And isn't the "War on Terror" a misnomer? Wouldn't "War of Terror" be more like it ... ?


Let us mourn in silence with this simply awesome gut-wrenching rendition by an American, Emmanuel Ortiz ...

"Before I start this poem"

Before I start this poem,
I'd like to ask you to join me in
a moment of silence
in honour of those who died
in the World Trade Centre
and the Pentagon
last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you
a moment of silence
for all of those who have been
harassed, imprisoned, disappeared,
tortured, raped, or killed
in retaliation for those strikes,
for the victims in both
Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing ...
A full day of silence
for the tens of thousands of Palestinians
who have died at the hands of
U.S.-backed Israeli forces
over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence
for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
mostly children, who have died of
malnourishment or starvation
as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo
against the country.

Before I begin this poem:
two months of silence
for the Blacks under Apartheid
in South Africa,
where homeland security
made them aliens
in their own country.

Nine months of silence
for the dead in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, where death rained
down and peeled back
every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin
and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence
for the millions of dead
in Vietnam -- a people, not a war --
for those who know a thing or two
about the scent of burning fuel,
their relatives' bones buried in it,
their babies born of it.

A year of silence
for the dead in Cambodia and Laos,
victims of a secret war ... ssssshhhhh ....
Say nothing ... we don't want them to
learn that they are dead.

Two months of silence
for the decades of dead
in Colombia, whose names,
like the corpses they once represented,
have piled up and slipped off
our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,
An hour of silence
for El Salvador ...
An afternoon of silence
for Nicaragua ...
Two days of silence
for the Guetmaltecos ...
None of whom ever knew
a moment of peace
45 seconds of silence
for the 45 dead
at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence
for the hundred million Africans
who found their graves
far deeper in the ocean
than any building could
poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing
or dental records
to identify their remains.
And for those who were
strung and swung
from the heights of
sycamore trees
in the south, the north,
the east, and the west ...

100 years of silence ...
For the hundreds of millions of
indigenous peoples
from this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots
like Pine Ridge,
Wounded Knee,
Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers,
or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced
to innocuous magnetic poetry
on the refrigerator
of our consciousness ...
So you want a moment of silence?

And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust
Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be.
Not like it always has been

Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about
what causes poems like this
to be written

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th poem
for Chile, 1971
This is a September 12th poem
for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977
This is a September 13th poem
for the brothers at Attica Prison,
New York, 1971.
This is a September 14th poem
for Somalia, 1992.

This is a poem
for every date that falls
to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories
that were never told
The 110 stories that history
chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC,
The New York Times,
and Newsweek ignored
This is a poem
for interrupting this program.
And still you want
a moment of silence
for your dead?
We could give you
lifetimes of empty:

The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces
of nameless children
Before I start this poem
We could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit

If you want a moment of silence,
put a brick through
the window of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses,
the jailhouses, the Penthouses
and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt
fills the room where my beautiful
people have gathered

You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Before this poem begins.

Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the
second hand
In the space
between bodies in embrace,

Here is your silence.
Take it.
But take it all
Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin
at the beginning of crime.
But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.

Sunday, October 24, 2004 

Munna Gah, MBBS

Doctor Gah has carried out a self-diagnosis and the results are out.

He is suffering from acute PSPT (Post Sunday, Pre Tuesday) Syndrome. Caused by the the lethal, fatal, homicidal "I-Hate-Mondays" Virus version 2.1.

The affable Doctor requests weepy-wishy-washy condolences. Hard cash, Tuesday, blank cheques, or Kidnapped Boss will also do.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 

The Return of Gah

Once upon a time, in the ancient land of Wi-Fi and chopped-liver-flavored-icecream-cones, there lived a brainless boy called Gah. Being brainless, he did not know what he knew he should have known. But he did know that he did not know.

One day Gah was watering a river. Just then there was a blinding flash and Boss appeared from nowhere. Or rather, Boss appeared from his cubicle.

Boss: "Disclaimer I -- the forthcoming language is not mine, it's the Dictionary of Politically Correct English. Disclaimer II -- Gah's forte is words of half a syllable or less."

Gah: "Gah?"

Boss: "Oh my Gah, you are (1) alternatively schooled (2) cerebrally challenged (3) uniquely proficient (4) motivationally dispossessed (5) emotionally different (6) involuntarily leisured (7) incompete success, you non-goal-oriented member of society!"

Gah: "Gah?"

Boss: "In simpler words, you are an (1) illiterate (2) stupid (3) incompetent (4) lazy (5) crazy (6) unemployed (7) failure, you bum!"

And Boss vanished in a puff of incandescent pink pipe smoke.

Now Gah was happy and confused. Happy because he had understood all the adjectives Boss had used. Confused because he wasn't sure if he had been complemented or insulted. And more confused because he wasn't sure if "complemented" was a proper word.

Now Gah decided to vindicate himself by developing a new school of philosophy. He would call it "Gah's Profound Philosophy", or GPP.

So Gah withdrew from social life and grew a french beard and became a hismit, or a masculine hermit.

Then he realized that this was inadequate. For GPP-type stuff, one needeth (note the quaint Shakespearan word here) a Thought Process. Which needeth a Brain.

A word about Gah. Gah is a Permanent Resident of Dumboland. He possesseth (Yay Shakespeare! Cute naa?) a nose, a couple of ears, an eye or two, and no Brain.

So Gah decided to grow his very own personal copyrighted Brain.

Now, as you, gentle and discerning reader, know well, growing a Brain is not as simple as growing a Heart, Lungs, or a Spine. For growing a Heart, you need to fall in love. For Lungs, you have to thump your bare chest like Godzilla, with one hand if you want one lung and both hands if you want two lungs. And for a Spine, you need to Blog while Boss is glowering at your back, in which case your vertebrum will grow rapidly and simultaneously send icy shivers up your soon-to-be-laid-off backside. But for growing a Brain, you need psychosomatic neuralgical stem cells. And then you need to water your skull.

So Gah planted some psychosomatic neuralgical stem cells in his nostrils. He then turned the water hose with which he was watering the river upon his own brainless skull. And voila! Within minutes, Ripley's-Can't-Believe-It happened ... Gah's Brain began to grow !!!

First the medulla oblongata blossomed. Then the cerebellum flowered. And finally the cerebrum began to sprout between his very ears.

Gah then sat on his underworked haunches and admired his curvaceous convoluted brain for two days.

He then began using this brain. It was hard work, but fifteen minutes of strenuous frowning and scowling and making ugly-pugly faces and doing mental calisthenics, and the GPP was ready. Aaaannnnnnddd .... bingo !!! Here it is ... the first GPP of the millenium ... !!!

<-- Start of GPP Code Version 1.0 -->

Caution: This is serious stuff!

Einstein expounded the "Two Universe" theory. The GPP propounds the "Parallel Three Universe Theory".

At any given point in time, there are three parallel universes operating. For the sake of brevity, let us call these "Good", "Bad" and "Hybrid". You can also term them "White", "Black" and "Grey", or if you fancy, "Poopledinkylock", "Flammistarionus" and "Hanckolpylian".

Each of us spends some part of our life in each of these three universes. At any instant, we can exist only in one universe. However, in the very next instant, we may be in another universe altogether. The transition from one universe to another is seamless and instantaneous. This explains the shades of Jekyll and Hyde in most of us.

Also, two people who are talking about the same topic with each other at the same time, may be operating in totally different universes. This is the root cause of many common misunderstandings and mistakes.

We can decide which universe we wish to spend the majority of our time in. It requires a combination of intention, willpower and "luck" to achieve the same. While the first two variables are largely in our hands, the third, namely "luck", which often holds veto power over the other two, is not. Luck is determined by the number of vacancies available in each universe. You see, each universe has it's own finite capacity constraints. That is, the number of seats available in the "Good" universe at instant T will be, say, X. If you have the intention and willpower to be "Good" at time T, but if there are already X people who are in the "Good" state at that time, it will imply that your "luck" is bad and you will be unable to move into the "Good" state until the rate of outflow from the "Good" state surpasses the rate of inflow, and adequate vacancies are created to accommodate some or all of the people who have the intention and the willpower to move into the "Good" state. Note also that intention and willpower alone are enough for you to hang on to your existing state for as long as you wish.

The purpose of all religions is to show us ways of staying in the "Good" state.

This theory explains much of human behavioral and thought patterns across time and space. Experimental data has to date been insufficient to prove whether the capacity of each universe is in a fixed and unchangeable proportion to each other, though empirically this is highly improbable.

This, then, is the GPP. Well, we told ya it was serious stuff!

<-- End of GPP Code Version 1.0 -->

By this time, massive brain drain had happened. Gah's brain alias "khopde mein malaai" or "cranium containing the fat of unskimmed milk" had lost all its malaai and shrunk unapologetically to it's original sub-positronic size. Yayyy, we're sure you, like us, are experiencing intestinal relief at last! :)

PS. The latest tragic news is that Gah has turned the fire hydrant onto his head again. So puny mortals, be prepared for further doses of unearthly "wisdom" from Gah The Great going forward ... !!!

Monday, October 18, 2004 

The Greatest Story of All Time

It has all the ingredients of an evergreen potboiler. Passionate romance. Tempestuous violence. Slapstick comedy. Unbelievable sci-fi. A riot of colors. An immortal story of an inevitable meeting of not just two lonely hearts but two picturesque continents as well. Heartbreaking and seemingly inevitable tragedy with a last-minute twist resulting in a happily-ever-after fairy-tale marriage, one child included.

Voila! Presenting to you the undisputed Greatest Story of All Time ...

"Of Plants and Animals"

Said the lovelorn Asian crocodile to the cactus tree
"O prickly Saharan Thorniness, will you marry me?"
The angry cactus threw an unripe coconut at croc,
But then blushed and wore her green wedding frock
And within a year from two they had become three !!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004 

And the MAD Address Changeth ...

The MAD Club now has it's own site here !!

Monday, October 11, 2004 

The Hidden Truth

(All politicians suck, but some suck more. This fictional piece is dedicated to them.)

"Texas Governor George Walker Bush donned the mantle of president-elect in what was, in effect, his presidential victory speech, following Vice President Al Gore's concession of the historic, protracted Election 2000 battle for the White House."
- CNN Headlines, 11:45 PM EST, 13 December 2000


On his first day as President of the United States, George Bush Jr. stepped into the Oval Office at the White House, feeling exceptionally important. He was, after all, the "most powerful man on earth".

As he entered his office, the Head of Security at the White House, Lt. Gen. Alfred Lowell, a man who had served under six Presidents, met him under the hallowed arched entrance and requested a word with him in private.

Aware that White House protocol had to be followed, Bush granted Lowell an audience.

"Sir", said Lowell as the two men sat face to face across the most significant table in the annals of modern-day human history, "there is something you must know. It is my duty to personally inform all new President-elects on their first day that they have to report to the Ferucil Council on a daily basis."

For a piquant moment, Bush sat stunned. Then he sputtered, "Me? Report? Sir, I am the President of the United States! And I am a Texan! I report to nobody! And who did you say ... the Feru what? Who're they?"

"The Ferucil Council," said Lowell patiently, displaying an acquired skill of having handled similar situations before, "has its HQ in a top-secret corridor not fifty yards from where you sit, Sir. Would you like me to escort you to them now? Their current Commander, Mr. Teufel, requests the pleasure of your company for a brief period immediately. He will more than adequately explain what the Council is, and why it is so important to you."

Bush had sat speechless with shock during this entire monologue. He could scarcely believe that this was the first official conversation he was having as President. Ferucil Council ... Teufel ...was this some kind of induction prank!?

He found his tongue at last. "Lowell, if this is some kind of joke ... "

Lowell stood up straight. "We, Sir, are not accustomed to joking," he stated matter-of-factly. "If you wish, you may speak to any former President to verify the sagacity of our advice."

"Get me my father," spat Bush. He sat drumming his fingers impatiently on the mahogany tabletop as George Bush Sr was connected on a secure hotline.

"Dad,", said Bush Jr, "do you know anything about ... "

"The Ferucil Council?", came the weary voice of Bush Sr over the hotline. "Yes, son, I know everything about them. They are a secret Special Council for instructing Presidents and Heads of State all over the world. And I believe they have special plans for you. You would do well to accompany Lowell, he will guide you. Goodbye."

Bush Jr sat stunned for a few seconds, digesting this information.

"Would you kindly care to accompany me, Sir?" Lowell's gentle but firm voice interrupted his reverie.

Bush looked like he was about to protest, but then looked up at the nearly seven foot tall officer and suddenly capitulated.

He stood up and said quietly, "Fine. Lead on."

Lowell strode across the room to where the life-size portrait of Jefferson hung, with the immortal words "In God We Trust" inscribed in gold beneath. He pushed something which looked like a secret button hidden in the word "God". The wall seemed to give way and a steel panel emerged. Lowell took a pen from his breast pocket and pointed it at the panel. There was an audible click and the panel swung open, revealing a labyrinthine tunnel within.

As Lowell led Bush into the tunnel, illuminated by hundreds of fluorescent bulbs, he became chatty. "This passage was made in the time of George Washington, Sir. It houses one of the greatest secrets of mankind -- the offices of the Ferucil Chamber. None but the Presidents of the United States -- past and present -- and the Heads of Security of the White House know about its existence. We call this tunnel the 'Infierno Corridor', or simply 'Corridor 6' ".

Lowell suddenly stopped and pointed to a little door. "Mr. Teufel awaits within, Sir", he said deferentially and stepped back.

Suddenly, Bush suddenly felt like he was floating in a dream. As if in a haze, he saw the number inscribed in gold on the office door. Room 66.

The door opened. And he entered, and instantaneously everything became crystal clear in a blinding flash. And he realized who he would really be reporting to, and why.

Corridor 6, Room 66 -- the number 666. 'Teufel', German for 'the devil'. Ferucil, anagram of Lucifer. Infierno, Italian for Hell ...

Satan had his HQ in Corridor 6, Room 66 of the White House ...

Friday, October 08, 2004 

People Helping People

(MAD Club Project II)

What are some of the worries we face when, God forbid, we or any of our loved ones falls sick and has to be hospitalized?

Here is my list, in order of priority:

  1. Quality of doctors, nurses and paramedics. Are they adequately qualified? Are they sensitive and understanding? Are they aware of my concerns, my actual needs? Will they make that extra effort to redress these needs and concerns of mine? Do they understand that they hold in their hands, NOT a sick body which must one day die, but THE LIFE OF ONE OF MY LOVED ONES?
  2. Quality of the hospital overall. Is it neat and clean, so that risk of secondary infection is minimized? Is the food hygienic, healthy and palatable? Is the environment peaceful and quiet? Is the ambience bright and well-lit, the staff cheerful and optimistic and willing to put in that extra effort to help?
  3. Cost involved. Will I be made to pay more than I actually should?
My few experiences with healthcare systems in India has shown that, more often than not, the answers to the above will be No, No, Yes.

Based on your own personal experiences with hospitals, you will doubtless have horror stories of your own to relate. The healthcare systems in most developing countries is abysmal, and the Indian subcontinent is more the rule than the exception.

But do we do anything about it other than rant and rage? NO! Over the ages, consumer courts notwithstanding, we ordinary citizens have learnt to live with our griefs and swallow our unanswered questions instead of seeking to improve the medical system.

Why is that the case?

It is because, if the medical system has to be improved, the initiative CANNOT be taken by laymen like you and me. The initiative MUST come from within the medical fraternity itself.

Why then haven't such initiatives started so far? Why don't doctors live up to the Hippocratic Oath, why don't nurses become Florence Nightingales?

There are a multitude of reasons why not. Lack of time and energy, a blind rush to earn money, highly stressful lives ...

And we common people suffer as a result.

Which is why, when a group of idealistic young doctors decide to stand up and fight the system, one cannot help but cheer oneself hoarse for them!

People Helping People (PHP) is one such bold and visionary initiative started by a young modern-day Florence Nightingale. The objective of PHP is to improve medical ethics in our part of the world, to make the medical fraternity more sensitive to the REAL needs of patients, to improve doctor-patient relationships, to make the entire hospitalization experience sunnier and healthier for the patient.

If you are a part of the medical fraternity, you can help directly. If not, you can help just as much, if not more, in a multitude of ways. Click here to see how.

Remember, the results of PHP may directly impact you some day. Just a little bit of time and effort from your side can bring a smile to thousands of long-suffering patients.

So do email daringdoctor@gmail.com and volunteer.

And let us Make A Difference.

Aloha friend, have you gone MAD today?
Join TIBD and PHP and lead the way!


Template Revolution

Yay ... my template has changed :)

No clue whether it's better looking, but fluorescent green surely is brighter, which complements my mood, and there's a doodleboard and a clock which shows you IST, which is for some reason 13 minutes behind my wristwatch, which in turn is never wrong but simultaneously is rarely right too, and the primary reason I'm writing like this is because I'm in a "Yay" mood again and want to compose a sixty-plus-word sentence, and I'm sure this bit of info is going to make you start counting, and of course ... thanks Queen Phoenix, one largish treat pending !!

I hereby heave a deep sigh and end my shortest ever post.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004 

International Blanket Day

(MAD Club Project I)

Winter is nigh. Yayyy !!!

Winter has always been my favourite season. It conjures up in my mind images of a refreshing nip in the air, cosy pullovers and cardigans, comical monkey caps and riotously colourful scarves, thick snuggly cotton-stuffed blankets. It's a time to enjoy soup and hot chocolate like never before. It's a time when thick fur-encased pomerians look at me pityingly, when I feel envious whenever I stroke the plush coats of pet cats. It's the season of Santa Claus and Lights, of New Year's resolutions and loved ones' birthdays. It's the season of oranges and lemons sold for a penny. It's the season when bathing in the warm mellow noon sunshine feels even better than a hot water shower. I shiver on recalling my experiences with sub-zero desert frostbites, yet feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I cuddle up in my bed and look out of the window at the clearer-than-ever-before starlit skies.

But alas, winter does not hold the same fascination for hundreds of thousands of hapless people. For them, winter means helpless shivering leading to sleepless nights huddled against the nearest stone wall for a shade of protection from the biting wind; inevitable coughs and sneezes and runny noses; the looming threat of fevers which refuse to die down. Little hope of even a cup of warm tea to thaw their limbs and hearts. A cold which penetrates the bones of the aged and the hearts of the young.

In one way or another, each season is an enemy of the poor and homeless and destitute. Winter is an adversary which is often fatal.

Every year, countless Indians die an entirely preventable death due to bitter winter cold.

Can we do something to help?

It was the winter of 2001 when a modest idea was born. Such ideas sometimes happen to the young, foolish, idealistic starry-eyed who still commit the mistake of nurturing hope for the future and reposing an unwavering faith in the human race.

The idea was to designate 9th December, which marks the onset of stiff winter in most parts of India, as "International Blanket Day".

What is the idea behind International Blanket Day?

We all need warmth in our life. And what better way of achieving this is there than sharing warmth with others? Can we ensure that, because of us, at least one poor person will sleep in warmth and comfort this winter? The warmth will assuredly remain with us forever.

What is International Blanket Day?

On or before this day, as many people as possible would be requested to help those less fortunate than them.

Please make a donation to any needy person of your choice anywhere in the world this winter, on or before International Blanket Day, and feel the warmth that comes your way.

We personally guarantee that a flush of health and happiness will bloom on your cheeks, your digestion will improve beyond recognition, your behaviour will become more effervescent and bubbly and chirpy, your sleep will become more sound, and your dreams will become truly delightful.

How would it work?

The process is as follows:

  1. Each person (henceforth referred to as "contributor") would be asked to look around and identify at least one poor and needy person (henceforth referred to as "beneficiary") of his or her acquaintance.
  2. The contributor would then buy a blanket and give it to the beneficiary.
  3. If the contributor cannot afford a new blanket, he or she is welcome to donate an old blanket to the beneficiary.
  4. If the contributor resides in a warm area which is not affected by severe winter, or if the beneficiary already has a blanket, the contributor will ask the beneficiary about the latter's needs. These could be any of the following:
    a. Warm clothes (sweaters, cardigans, scarves, socks, shawls ... )
    b. Any other clothes (shirts, trousers, kurtas, lungis ... )
    c. Footwear (slippers, shoes ... )
    d. Medicines or medical treatment
    e. School or tuition fees, study books or materials (note pads, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, geometry boxes, pencil boxes, school bags ... )
    f. Food
    g. Money (although this is not very recommended as it is not a sustainable contribution and has the potential to be be misused, still it could definitely be given. It is always better that it is given in the form of items 'a' to 'f' mentioned above. It is also an excellent idea to give this money to an orphanage, old age home, a school for the poor, a hospital for the poor, or any NGO which you know is doing good work)
    h. Anything else which the contributor knows will be useful and important to the beneficiary
  5. Once the contributor knows of the beneficiary's actual needs, he or she will try and provide the beneficiary with the same. The contribution can be new or even second hand. Either way it will Make A Difference.
  6. If nothing else, the contributor can donate a warm loving smile to the beneficiary.

At the end of the day, there should be just that extra bit of warmth and happiness in this increasingly cold and frosty world of ours.

How is this movement different from other donation drives?

Blanket donation drives have been organized before, but this is "a drive with a difference" in two ways:

  1. The drive is self-initiated: Here, the onus on identifying the beneficiary, deciding on what to contribute, as well as making the contribution, rests entirely on YOU.
  2. The drive is self-propagating: It is up to YOU to spread awareness of the movement among your friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances. You could use e-mail, snailmail or any other form of communication for this purpose.

How can you help?

Chronologically, this is the fourth anniversary of the movement. In many ways, however, it is the inaugural year. This is after all the first time an attempt is being made to institutionalize International Blanket Day and make it a little bigger than just an annual college event.

The dream is very lofty. The resources are very scarce.

You can help immeasurably simply by participating.

You can help even more if your answer to any of the following questions is a "Yes":

  1. Do you have family, friends and acquaintances with who you can share this message? Do you know people who are willing and able to create a warmer and happier world?
  2. Can you get together with your friends on any Sunday or half holiday, and organize a little collection and distribution drive on your own? It will not take more than a few hours, and believe me, the kick you will experience is not worth missing.
  3. Is your academic institute or workplace willing to adopt ideas such as these?
  4. Are you good at IT aspects like database management or website design?
  5. Do you have ideas or recommendations or contacts for spreading news of this request to the maximum number of people? Any and all suggestions are most welcome.
  6. And finally, is anyone interested in volunteering to join Team International Blanket Day (TIBD)? TIBD is today a single member team and cordially solicits participation. If anyone volunteers, maybe we can start a concept of TIBD Coordinator for your school / college / organization / locality / city / country.

If you have answered a "Yes" to any of the above, and if you are willing to participate, please email blanketday@yahoo.com. Please mention your name and city / country of residence. All your inputs, feedback, suggestions, ideas, queries, clarifications and offers to help will be keenly appreciated. We promise to revert ASAP.

We also request that each of you who makes a donation informs us of his / her contribution by sending an email to blanketday@yahoo.com. This will help us keep track of the spread and success of the movement.

So come. Join us in celebrating December 9th as International Blanket Day.

And let us Make A Difference. Together.

(PS. People who have already joined up for the MAD Club are requested to kindly send a separate email to blanketday@yahoo.com in case they want to participate - Thanks!)

(PPS. This idea has NO copyrights! You are MOST WELCOME to adopt the idea, improve it as you feel fit, and spread it as your own.)

Sunday, October 03, 2004 

Have You Gone MAD Today?

The human race is cleanly divided into two distinct categories. One is the Haves who comprise less than 2% of the world's population. The other is the Havenots who fill up the remaining 98%.

Just answer this simple question to see which category you fall into:

Q. Are you reading this sentence on your own?

If your answer is "Yes", it means a great deal.

It means you are not visually impaired. You have functioning hands to operate a computer. You can understand what you are reading, which means you are literate, and infinitely more significantly you are literate in English. This in turn implies you are at least reasonably educated. It also indicates that you have access to a computer and the Internet, whether you are in school, college, hostel, office, a cybercafe, or home.

Congratulations! You are very definitely a Have !!! You are in the top 2% of the human race in terms of access to education, employment opportunities, income levels, medical care, housing, and goodness knows what else. So look around you ... of every 100 people you meet, only one other, symbolically speaking, will be as or more fortunate than you !!!

So you're a Have. So what?

Let's start from here ... there's a little bit of madness in all of us. So why not redefine the term MAD itself?

Why not define MAD as "Making A Difference"?

It is here that the concept of the MAD Club comes in.

The MAD Club is a group of Haves. Age, Gender, Religion, Nationality no bar. The only criterion is that the members should feel a common desire to Make A Difference. To the people they meet. To the world they live in.

The purpose of the MAD Club is to think up, plan, organize and implement simple projects which will touch people and improve lives. These projects need not be elaborate in the least. They can be one-off or repetitive. They can be grassroots level or futuristic. They can shake up the world, or equally, they can just make the canteen boy in your office grin for a moment.

The MAD Club is not an NGO. It is simply aimed at being a congregation of like minded people who would like to spend some time together and carry out little projects which make a difference. Members of the MAD Club are strongly encouraged to work with various NGOs and organizations, and share their experiences with others in the MAD Club.

Sounds great so far, right? But how? After all, each of us is busy, caught up in our education, our careers, our family lives, our social lives. Even if we do have the inclination, we scarcely have the time or the energy to do "social work" at the end of a tiring day. So how can we Make A Difference? How can we MAD?

Do we have any examples to show us the way? Sure we do !!

A great example of a MAD project is A smile across many miles. Another is Dreams Come True. A modern-day Florence Nightingale has initiated a wonderful project called People Helping People, whose details will be provided shortly. Another project, International Blanket Day, will follow soon. And some of our truly inspirational role models are these.

Today, Monday October 4th 2004, heralds the official commencement of the MAD Club. The clarion call of this esteemed mental institution shall be, "Have You Gone MAD Today?"

True, one person alone can do very little. But together, trust me, we can truly MAD. We can Rock The World.

You are sincerely invited to join. If anyone wants to apply, or if anyone has any suggestions or queries (both are very cordially solicited, these will form the backbone of the MAD Club after all), please email suhailkassim@gmail.com with your name and location (city / country).

So come. Let us MAD. Together.

Anyone interested?

Friday, October 01, 2004 

Dead Poets' Society

Today the monsoon sky is thundering,
And here I am sitting and wondering
About our generation's poetic lore ...
About why poems don't rhyme any more!

So very frequently I happen to see
Such transcendingly lovely poetry.
But alas, they very rarely rhyme -
Out of fashion? Or plain lack of time?

And then think I,
"Let ME show 'em!
Why don't I try
To write a poem?"

A couple of couplets I have done;
But can I do long poems too?
That would indeed be something fun ...
And that's how this nutty idea grew!

It was most probably lack of sleep
That helped me take the final call!
Or was it a desire to watch you weep?
Mayhap I wanted to hear you bawl?

So yelled I, "Let's do it, I say!"
And valiantly but most unwisely
Proceeded with my maiden foray
Into the Garden of Rhyming Poetry ...

They say poets should possess
Sensitivity of soul and temperament.
Alas! Herein I have no success -
Insensitivity's my First Commandment!

Wordsworth wrote about daffodils;
He wrote magnificently indeed, forsooth.
I of course can't write with frills ...
Can't write at all, and that's the truth!

I'm no Yeats or Wordsworth,
I'm no Keats or Byron.
They were poets from birth
While I'm a poetic moron!

Out of thin air, many a poem they spun
But heck, I'm not even their great grandson!
And I haven't inherited their poetic baton
Else maybe I'd have found rhyming to be fun ...

I don't know what's worse;
My sense of poetic timing,
My Metre or my Verse
Or my unrhythmic rhyming!

This then is my twopence, don't kill me for it;
In the vast Ocean of Poetry, here is my teensy bit!
So that's what this poem is all about this time,
Just some words dressed up and made to rhyme ...

~ Lord Suhail Tennyson :)