Thursday, September 29, 2005

Big Ambitions

I just found out that I am likely to spend the equivalent of 3 years of my life on the toilet. Well isn't that great news. Maybe I should look for more constructive things to do during the act other than just sitting there. But I digress....

Big ad on the back page of the local newspaper this morning reads "Why Can't Chandigarh be Like Toronto?" Seeing this has a special significance to me, being from Canada. Apparently, Toronto has been voted the best city in the world to live in. Being from Western Canada, I have a natural dislike (nothing personal, of course) for Torontonians...bluntly stated, they think they live in the centre of the universe.

"Why don't we have more multiplexes, more shopping malls, more theatres, etc.," asked the article. Chandigarh does have the honour of being India's best city to live in, as well as being the city with the 2nd highest average per capita income, but why compare it to a metropolitan city like Toronto. Look at it this way:

Toronto is arguably Canada's most important city. Chandigarh is not really high up when it comes to important cities in India; Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai...all are considered to be more important. Chandigarh has 900,000 people (compared to 15-20 million in Delhi)....Toronto has something like 5 million (there are many different figures given...it depends on which suburbs are included). Toronto is the place to be in Canada....Chandigarh certainly isn't the place to be in India (there's nothing to do here). Chandigarh has its own uniqueness that would be ruined by shopping malls and multiplexes. It's a beautiful city, not a thriving metropolis.

A couple of months ago, the local paper ran a series of articles asking people why Chandigarh couldn't be more like Boston when it comes to education. Again, why make an unfair comparison with one of the leading academic cities in the world? It's just plain unrealistic.

Seems like there is a constant push in this city to be like the west. Personally, I don't want to come to India and see the west. Chandigarh needs to improve what it has, instead of just throwing up multiplex after multiplex.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cricket

One thing that gets me is the attention that the Indian press pay to cricket. The Times of India always dedicates at least one full page in the sports section to cricket-related stories. When I arrived in June, it was all about the hiring of Greg Chappell, a foreigner, as the new coach of the Indian national team. Just recently, Mr. Chappell got himself into trouble by sending emails to reporter friends about certain aspects of the team. He also got into a spat with the captain, Sourav Ganguly, after saying that Sourav was faking injuries and didn't want to attend training.

So yesterday, BCCI (the Indian cricket association) was going to announce whether Ganguly or Chappell would take the fall for the recent events. Turned out that nobody did and the two were meant to "work it out."

I think the word on the street is that Indian cricket isn't doing to well. The team hasn't been able to consistently beat anyone and it seems like there are endless contraversies. In the end, so much pressure is put on the team that it is scrutinized to the hilt.

In the editorial section of the paper this morning, someone wrote a good article about sports in India. In short, the aritcle argued that sports in India needs to be de-centralized. In other words, not so much of a focus on national teams and more of a focus on regional/city teams. The author used the US as an example. People there cheer for their local city or college team...it's rare that national teams get any attention, save for the Olympics.

Let's look at Canada and hockey. Our national team is picked a few months before a big event. Usually, the selections are scrutinized, but we know that no matter what team we put out there, it's likely to be successful. If the team does poorly, it's ridiculed for a time and then we forget because a new NHL season starts, so we go back to focusing on our favourite teams. Sure each local team get scrutinized, but only in the respective city's media.

It's not like that in India. Since there is only a national team, every paper in the land gets after the team for poor performance...and it's relentless. Maybe a national cricket league is the answer to India's woes. That way, more players get an opportunity to play world-class cricket. When the time comes for an One Day International (ODI) or International Test Match, a team is selected and that is that. Such league would also be of great benefit to local fans.

Islam in Macedonia

An article came up in my newsreader today that talked about Islam in Macedonia. Now, you don't often hear about Macedonia (there is, in fact, a Macedonian trainee here in Chandigarh). For instance, did you know that it was the birthplace of Alexander the Great and Mother Teresa?

I find that the site worldpress.org provides some interesting perspectives on things in every corner of the world. Usually, the subjects of the articles are things you would never hear about, even if you were looking. The aforementioned article on Islam is no different. Who knew that a group of radicals was trying to gain control of the national Islamic Community? Check out it out if you get the chance.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sometimes I Wonder....

Let's go back to 1999. A small town in Oregon, named Halfway, is offered cash, to the tune of six figures, by auction site Half.com to change its name to Half.com. The municipal government accepts the offer and Half.com gains huge publicity...far beyond what it paid the city.

Fast forward to today. This time, online poker site, Pokershare.com, has its eyes set on a small Kentucky town. The town's name is Sharer, so Pokershare.com has offered a hundred grand in exchange for the town's name to be switched to "Pokershare.com."

More on this can be found here and here.

I'm not sure that I would be proud to live in a town bribed by a company to change its name. By the sounds of it, Half.com (the city) should've asked for a heck of a lot more. Sharer, Kentucky should ask Pokershare.com for a percentage of revenues generated by the renaming of the town, with a clause that says if the amount of money isn't high enough, the name change is null and void.

I liken this to when some of the names of US college bowl games changed to "dot-coms." The Insight.com bowl is an example. I always joked that, eventually, one of the names would be something like "The Ijustsavedawholebunchofmoneyonmycarinsurance.com Bowl." I guess that's what happens when you're willing to sink to any level to gain corporate sponsorship.

Here is an excerpt from the Half.com (the city) website:

"Consisting of hard-working, self-sufficient folks, the town of Half.com is a tight-knit community, full of tradition and camaraderie." Didn't you just throw tradition out the window when you changed your name do a "dot-com?" Then again, it's just proof that the almighty dollar supercedes just about anything.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Question for Time

Can you slow down just a little? Or wait, let me rephrase that...can you speed up while I'm at work and then slow down when I'm not?

Reason I ask is because it's hard for me to believe that I've been in India for 3 1/2 months already. Where did the time go? I swear July wasn't on the calendar this year....same goes for August.

Sure, I'm only halfway through my traineeship, but if the first half went by this fast, the second half will surely fly by as well.

Have I made the most of my traineeship so far? I think so (not that there's much I can do about it now). Looking ahead to the next half, what's left for me to do?

The first half featured a number of weekend excursions, an absolutely incredible friendship, and one big emotional roller coaster. Maybe I have to look for other opportunities over the next few months. If I don't have anywhere else to travel to (assuming that weekends are the only travel time I have), maybe it's time to become better friends with the 20 or so other trainees here that don't live in my house. Or maybe it's time to explore parts of the Indian culture I haven't experienced yet. Maybe it's a time for personal reflection. Who knows?

In any case, it's very likely that the next few months will be completely different than the last few. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Thinking about the time passing always bring me to this stroke of bathroom grafitti genius....

"Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas."

Friday, September 23, 2005

PM is in Town

The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is in Chandigarh for the next two days. Why? Well, a new IT park is opening in this city and he has come to officially open it. According to the newspapers, this IT park means that Chandigarh is the "next big thing" in India.

To get ready for the PM's visit, the streets have been "re-carpeted (re-paved)," sidewalks painted, street lights fixed, and garbage cleaned up. By the sounds of things, the only way to improve the infrastructure of this town is to have VIPs come to town. That pothole (practically a crater) in the middle of the main street was only fixed because the city felt that if the PM saw the town in such disorder, he would sell his house here and never come back.

Maybe I'm way off here, but isn't that sending the wrong message? I mean, don't you want the PM to see how the infrastructure really is? Why pretty up the town for 2 days, only to see those improvements go by the wayside? This is like tidying up the house when guests are coming...why must we put up a facade, when we know damn well that the house has never been that clean since we moved in? There are certain standards, of course, but the bottom line is that I want to see how people really live, not how they want me to think they live.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I can't help it, I'm Canadian

What can I say? I love hockey. And I'm not talking about field hockey. One thing I've noticed is that Indians refer to field hockey as hockey. In all ice hockey-playing countries, hockey refers to the game played on ice. I like to say, "Hockey in Canada is like cricket in India," because seeing little kids playing cricket everywhere reminds me of the days playing hockey on frozen rivers and lakes, on the street, in the gym, anywhere. Wait a second, what I actually said was, "Field hockey in Canada is like cricket it India." When I realize what I said, I usually say, "Ice hockey, not field hockey." What is my point? Good question. One interesting note is that cricket isn't India's national sport. Same as hockey not being Canada's national sport. Both are our adopted sports, but not the national games. India's is field hockey, while Canada's is lacrosse.

Unlike last year, I'm excited now because the National Hockey League (NHL) is returning after a year's absence. The saying "You don't know how much you miss something until it's gone" really applies to hockey and Canadians. In two weeks, the regular season will start and this time the playing field is as level as it has been in at least 12 years. My favourite team, the Calgary Flames, made it to the final in 2004, so I can only expect big things from them this year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

Starved for content today, so I figured I'd post an odd news article, compliments of Reuters:

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - A Frenchman in his sixties lived for five years with the body of his dead mother to keep receiving her 700 euros monthly pension, judicial sources said Saturday.

The man, a hospital morgue worker, is to be prosecuted for fraud and concealing a death Saturday after police found the corpse in a two-room apartment in the city center in piles of rubbish.

Police went to the flat because of unpaid rent and other bills. The man had imitated an old woman's voice to deceive the social services.

His mother had died of natural causes at the age of 94.

I'll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions. Anytime I hear about dead people and money, I think of the movie Waking Ned Devine (i think the name might be different in Canada than in the UK). Anybody know which movie I'm talking about? Great movie, so if you have some free time, check it out.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another Picture

Sunset in Shimla.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Special Day in Canada

This is a special time of year for Canadians...it marks the anniversary of the death of one of Canada's greatest heroes, Terry Fox. For any of you that don't know, Terry started the "Marathon of Hope (An attempt to run across Canada)" in St. Johns, Newfoundland on April 12th 1980. What was so incredible about this was that he had lost his right leg to cancer 3 years prior. Using a prosthetic leg and a now famous "limp," Terry ran an average of 42 km (a marathon) a day in an effort to raise money for cancer research. He was forced to stop his run on Sept. 1st, 1980 just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because the cancer that victimized his leg had now spread to his lungs. He was only 22 years old. A memorial outside that city still stands today as a symbol of true grit, courage, determination...the list can go on forever.

Every year since 1981, Canadians have come together in the middle of September to run, walk, rollerblade, and cycle for Terry's cause. The number of runs in '81 was 760...the figure today sits at over 12,000. This event is not specific to Canada, either. Millions around the world participate in similar runs, albeit at different times of the year. An incredible $360 million dollars has been raised worldwide over the last 25 years.

Interestingly enough, Cuba has the 2nd most participants after Canada...2 million. Even the Chinese government allows an annual Terry Fox Run. The figure is estimated at around 10,000, but is increasing every year.

A very interesting article about the event can be found here.

Growing up in Canada, I can tell you that this was a very big event every September. It was just something you did...no matter how out of shape you were. If Terry could do it, why couldn't you? Terry Fox is in the hearts of all Canadians and will always be one of my heroes.

Thanks to everyone that participates in such events...I know you would make him proud.

Chinggis Khan and Soviet Domination

Next year will mark the 800th anniversary of the Great Mongolian State. In 1206, Chinggis Khan (better known as Genghis Khan) united the many tribes in what is now present-day Mongolia into one powerful state. As you probably know, Chinggis Khan at one point ruled almost half of the known world.

Having been to this great country, I can tell you that the people are very proud of their history. The celebration will last all year and be dedicated to the 800 years of rich cultural history. More information on the schedule and other information can be found compliments of the UB Post.

On a sad note, a memorial for the victims of the 1937 purges was held in Ulaanbaatar on September 10th (The day of the official "commencement" of the purges...110 people were arrested). This awful side effect of communist domination in the 1930s culminated with the persecution or execution of approximately 30,000 people.

There is a museum in UB that is dedicated to these purges. Albeit small, it paints a very important picture of the intolerance the Soviets had for Buddhism and political deviance. Some of the excuses given for killing innocent people were absolutely ludicrous. I can't recall any at this time, but I remember thinking at the time that it the stuff the Soviets were getting away with was unbelievable. More information can be found here.

Highest Train in the World


Being a big train fan, I was excited to hear that the Chinese are constructing a railway line that will run from Golmud to Lhasa. The name of the line is called the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Yesterday, the country began testing the line at Kunlun Mountain, which is an astonishing 4,757 metres above sea level. Once the link to Lhasa is complete (scheduled for June of 2006), this railway line will be the highest in the world. The proposed opening date is set for some time in 2007.

This is incredible. I can't wait to go back to China and take this train. I've known about it for 20 minutes and it's already near the top of my travel to-do list. I bet the pictures and scenery would be spectacular.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's not "goodbye", it's just "see ya later...."

Everyone that has been an AIESEC trainee knows what it's like to go into a foreign country and meet incredible people from other parts of the world that are experiencing things much the same as you. In that sense, there is an instand bond. You become immediately close and, in some cases, make the best friends you've ever had. The time you spend together is often amazing, but the inevitable "goodbyes" are always going to be difficult.

Usually, a true friendship takes years to fully develop. What is incredible is that people from all different cultures can come together and, in a limited amount of time, become such good friends that it seems like the people have known each other since childhood. I have experienced this first-hand here in India. In 2 1/2 short months, I developed a friendship with a girl named Anna from Poland, that is by far the best I've ever had.

I have good friends at home, but that "best friend" label was always difficult to place. Now, I don't have to look any further. It was hard to say "goodbye" last night in Delhi, but I wasn't looking at it that way. I know I am going to see her again, so it really wasn't a "goodbye" but rather a "see you later."

This is what is special about AIESEC. Sure, you get to live in a foreign country. Sure, you get international work experience. Sure, you encounter things that you never thought possible. But what is really important is the people you meet and how they can change your life. This is something that I will always be thankful for.

Thanks, Anna, for a wonderful time here in India. I know I will be seeing you again soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Interesting Articles

Came across this article on Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan President. It talks about how Hugo Chavez is the new Fidel Castro and the eventual successor as the stallwort against the United Sates. Venezuela has one thing that Cuba doesn't have, though, and that's oil. $156 million dollars a day is generated from the black gold, to be precise. It's worth a read if you can spare 10 minutes.

In the same region, Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, is in Havana, Cuba to talk with Fidel Castro. Among other things, the two will visit places of "historical and scientific interest" and discuss US influence over the IMF. One curious statistic was that the number of Zimbabwean students that have been educated in Cuba is 3,034. That's a partnership I never would've thought of. The article can be found here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Reclining Position

There's me in the "reclining" position I was telling you about in the previous post. I just can't seem to stop my nose from getting red. I'll have to work on that.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ever Ridden a Toy Train?

Anyone that has ridden the Kalka-Shimla train can tell you that it is literally a toy. The guage is 2' 6" (not even a metre) and with six cars and an engine, it's not even 30 metres long. I think the cars were barely taller than me (I'm 1.83 metres or 6') and each one was meant to seat 18 ("meant" being the operative word).

The journey is 95.5 km, passes through 102 tunnels (the longest being over a kilometre), and winds its way up from about 600 metres to 2000 metres. It takes 5 hours going up and 6 hours coming down...go figure.

Instead of reserving a seat, I decided to go for the "first come, first served" variety. That's what a local would do, right? I left the house at 4 AM to see if I could catch the 5:30 train and watch the sunrise. I figured that I would have a seat and be able to enjoy the view. Wow, was I wrong. I show up, pay 37 rupees ($1 CDN), and find myself wedged into a car with 25 or so other locals. I could see them thinking, "what's this guy doing in this class?"

So instead of getting that comfy seat, I'm sitting on a metal floor, leaning against the bathroom door. Too bad because I was on the wrong side and missed the sunrise completely. For the next two hours, I sat...taking pictures every so often. At this one stop, a local calls to me from outside, "What on earth are you doing? Come with me." So we go to the "reserved cabins" and i sit down on a nice seat and spend the rest of the 3 hours taking pictures...I was happy for that because there were some spectacular shots.

Coming back was a slightly different story. After meeting people from AIESEC Hungary (I felt like such a local giving them directions), I bought my "first come, first served" ticket and tried to find a space to squeeze into. One thing I noticed was that the car, and the whole train, was a little bit more packed than on the way up. I felt like a sardine in a can. In this 18-person car, there were at least 45 people. I counted 27 from what I could see and that was only half of the car.

I started by standing, then I found some room to sit down, then these two Indian guys that couldn't stop laughing told me to lay down in sort of a reclining position (will post a picture soon). So there I was, leaning against a bag with my head on some guys knees, with the entire population of the train laughing at me. I was amazed at how comfortable it was. My next position was on the knees of the two guys mentioned earlier. Then I got a seat for about twenty minutes. With four hours to go, I moved to the edge of a single seat that already had someone on it. I maybe at 4 inches to work with and not a lot of leg room.

To kill those four hours, I basically just said the names of dishes that I liked here. These two locals and I just laughed back and forth, even though I only knew like 10 Hindi words and they knew about 10 English words. Definitely a true Indian experience.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Must Read

"But on the other hand, we cannot let this fear stop us, nor can we let fear control our lives or stop us from having a normal life. You see, when fear starts to control our lives, we lose our freedom."

A good friend of mine here in Chandigarh, Salvador Santoyo-Celedon from Mexico. Check out the post.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What is Happening to This City?

As with almost every night in the trainee house, we were sitting around talkin' about random things. Then one of my friends received a message from one of the LC members. Normally, this LC member sends jokes, so my friend was all ready to tell it to the rest of us. Instead, he reads out the following, "Bomb blast at ISBT (Interstate Bus Terminus), do not go there if you were planning to travel...." Boy, did that hit home. Some of our friends were there and we were just in shock.

So we called one of the guys that was travelling that night and he said that he saw the blast, but was not hurt. He told us that several were dead and that he was now on the bus with the other people he was travelling with.

We really had no idea how big it was or if people were actually dead. All we could do was rush downstairs to see if we could watch TV. To our surprise, there was hardly any coverage of it. One of the news channels had a ticker that read, "Bomb blast in Sector 17 bus stand in Chandigarh - 7 injured." Ok, so 7 injured is better than several dead.

One of the locals guys we were watching TV with said, "It's just a small blast, not really that important." From my experience (which is practically nothing when it comes to bomb blasts), I find it hard to treat any bomb blast as "not really that important." Again, something about this culture I will never understand.

The word in the paper this morning was that it was a crude metal bomb that blew a hole in the wall of a waiting room. There is speculation that the bomb was actually destined for another city, but blew up by mistake. A militant group in Jammu and Kashmir has been blamed, according to the Times of Chandigarh.

On the other hand, top police officials say it was just a gas cylinder used by roadside vendors that burst. Forensics experts, after reaching the site, exclaimed the following, "In all probability, it was a gas cylinder because the explosion had taken place at a comparatively secluded place." This is accoring to the Tribune website. The article can be read here.

Either way, security has been beefed up at every major entry and exit point to the city -- the railway stations and bus stands, especially. Life has certainly been exciting these past few weeks.

Cultural Differences

With reference to the previous post, I would again like to clearly state that I am not placing anyone at blame for what happened...it was simply what I saw.

One thing that made it difficult for me was the fact that I had never seen anything like it. It was certainly not my way of dealing with a situation like that, so in that sense it was hard to relate to. At not point did I take the side of either party. So to that end, it happened and nothing can change that. I still think what happened was wrong (the whole ordeal, not any specific part), but that's just the way I was raised in Canada. Things are different here in India. And the way the locals deal with things is different. But like I said, I'm not condoning the actions of the involved parties. I won't fully understand why the events played out like they did, but I am willing to accept that this is one part of the culture I will never get.

On that note, you can never really fully understand the culture you're in. Such limits are going to be different for everyone, but in the end, situations will arise that you may never be able to fully understand. With that in mind, it becomes important that the views of each culture are given in a peaceful setting, in such a manner as to not condemn, but to recognize that differences do exist. Even if you don't fully understand the other side's view (or disagree with it to a certain extent), you can still reach a cultural understanding. In most respects, this is the beauty of culture.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

That Ain't Right

I'm not going to mention any names, nor am I making any judgements as to whose fault it was, but the following is rather disturbing and something that should never happen in a workplace. Just to be clear, I do not know why these events occured...I am only telling you what I saw.

I'll refer to the "participants" as "the boss (former AIESEC trainee)," "the father," and "the employee." Ok, so the employee (a native) was late coming back from lunch. At about 5:00, he was called into the office. About 10 minutes after he went inside, yelling commenced. From what I could see, it was the father doing most of it. I had no idea what it was about, but I knew it wasn't good.

At about 5:30, the employee came out and sat down. I was about to go over and talk to him (we were supposed to have a meeting) when he got called in again. The yelling began again and lasted for about 10 minutes. The employee then came out of the office, began to collect up his stuff and leave. Then the father came out and got all up in the employee's grill. The two were going back and forth and then the employee pushed the father. The father pushed back and the yelling continued.

I turned my head back to the computer screen for a split second. When the boss saw the push, he stormed out of his office and told the employee to get out of the office. The employee didn't move and then pushed the father right onto my keyboard (had I not backed up my chair a little, I'd have been landed on). One thing I must explain is that our office is tiny, so all of this happened within 3 feet of the other employees.

After that fateful push, all hell broke loose. The boss grabbed the employee, dragged him to the ground, and started feeding him shots to the shoulder. At that point, I had had enough and just walked out of the room. Not sure if that was the right decision, but I had no idea why this was happening, didn't want to know, and didn't want to witness it.

The other AIESEC trainee in the room was on the opposite side from me, so he could only sit there an watch. He finished explaining the events to me: the father then began to choke the employee, while the boss continued to work the shoulders. The only audible words that were spoken, he said, was "This is a professional office...." This came from the boss's mouth.

The employee finally came outside, where I was waiting. He looked pretty rough. All I could do was to shake his hand and say "Goodbye." He definitely wasn't going to be back in that office again.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What I love about India

As of right now, the thing I love most about India is getting shaved in a barber shop (or under the mango tree, or UMT) at 7:00 in the morning. Every third or fourth day, I get up at about 7 and head straight to the market to get shaved with a straight edge. The guy lathers my face for about 5 minutes, then shaves me. He lathers me up again, and shaves me again. He finishes by rubbing a healing stone on my face and then with some aftershave. You walk out feeling fresh, with a close shave that the MACH-3 just can't match. Oh ya, it costs only 15 rupees (40 cents).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Riot Squad

The riot squad was out in full force this morning. Since I live in Panchkula but work in Mani Majra (part of Chandigarh), I have to cross the "state" boundary. So after almost being killed on my bike going around the suicide roundabout, I have to ride through these "speed trap" that is the state boundary. At this point, there were about 30 riot squad officers, fully clad in cloth armour and masks. Not exactly a comfortable feeling...it's like they're expecting something.

It reminds me of when I was walking by the Japanese embassy in Beijing. Japan and China had just had an argument over history textbooks that were to be released in Japan (downgraded the attrocities at Nanking to an "incident"). There were big rallies in Shanghai, but Beijing was rather calm. Just in case, though, there were riot squad guys stationed outside the Japanese embassy. They were also marching through the embassy district (great part of Beijing, by the way).

Part of me wants to witness a riot, but most of me has this uneasy feeling whenever I see a riot squad. Considering the events of the last couple of days, maybe something is brewing that I don't know about. I'm hoping it's just a precaution, though.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I was there not too long ago...

Read this in the paper this morning (Times of India):

24 foreigners hurt in bus mishap

"At least 24 foreigners were injured when the bus in which they were travelling overturned near Mcleodganj Saturday night, the police said Monday. The injured have been admitted to local hospitals. Roi (30) and Yifat (27) from Israel, who were also on the bus, described it as a "miraculous escape."

This seems to be a little more than a "mishap." I was in Mcleodganj about 2 months ago and can tell you that the roads in that area are conducive to accidents like this. I remember seeing one bus that had flipped with plants and flowers growing inside. No surprise either that the bus was probably full of Israelis. It's a popular place for them. I was mistaken for an Israeli a number of times in Mcleodganj. The city even boasts a number of Israeli restaurants.

Speaking of Indian bus accidents, I do remember hearing about them back in Canada. Buses seemed to flip all the time, not to mention the trains that collided with each other. Yet for some reason, I don't have second thoughts about getting on an Indian local bus. I guess you just have to trust the drivers, even if they make a stop for a bottle of Officer's Choice whisky to calm their nerves.

Friday, September 02, 2005

This is what's happening where I live...



This is what happened yesterday not 5 minutes from the trainee house. I don't remember hearing any of this, but the pictures do not lie. There was broken glass everywhere, armoured anti-riot squad vehicles, and army figures roaming the streets. They didn't shut the city down last night, but I guess they had reason to after the day's events.

The Chandigarh Tribune has an article on the background of the events. This morning's Times of Chandigarh had pictures of broken car windows, rioters, and torched motorcycles. According to the source, 4,000 families were affected by these riots. Looks like I'm in the middle of a war zone...but I can't say that I saw anything.

One very interesting side note is that there were claims that authorities put pressure on the local news channels to "go off the air and claim technical difficulties." Apparently, these channels were off for about 4 hours while the riots were occuring. We don't have TV in the trainee house, so I can't really verify this.

Even schoolboys were taking part in the action. One is quoted as saying, "Our parents brought us back from school. Then our neighbours asked us to join them -- that's it. We are here to have fun."

Did anyone else in the world hear about this?

The Lotus Flower


The Lotus is the national flower of India. This picture was taken by me in Rishikesh...I was quite happy with it. More pictures like this can be seen at: http://www.greenthumbdesign.ca/gallery/index.php

Interesting Morning....

Couldn't take the usual route to work this morning because police have shut down the part of the city I live in. You see, the city of Chandigarh is in 3 states: Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh. There are different sections of the city of Chandigarh: Mohali, in the Punjab, Chandigarh, in Chandigarh, and Panchkula (the section I live in), in Haryana.

Last night, there were crazy riots in a village in Haryana. Houses were burned and looted and it was utter pandemonium. You can read more about that event here. On my way to work, there was broken glass everywhere, policeman with guns, army figures, trucks, and even an armoured vehicle with a water cannon. From what I understand, Panchkula has been locked down and given a curfew. Can't find any solid information at this point, but it might just be an interesting night. I'll have a full explanation, or at least one according to the local papers, when I can get it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Yawning.....

Just finished a good yawn and now i'm ready to write this post. Ever notice how a good one is really satisfying? And when you don't have a good yawn it's very unsatisfying? Ever wonder why you yawn? I always thought that it was because my brain wasn't getting enough oxygen. Apparently not says this article by Eric H. Chudler, Ph. D.

There is some interesting information there. Any questions you have about yawning are answered, except one: why do we yawn? From what I understand, nobody seems to have figured it out. There are some theories, but nothing has been proved.

But here is the question I have for all of you: do you think yawning is contagious?

That's One Way to Do It....

There are many ways to cross the US-Mexico border...some legal, some not. David Smith Sr, though, probably chose a way that none of us would ever think of. If you need a hint, think Sideshow Mel and the Krusty the Clown Show. Give up? Well, Mr. Smith shot himself out of a cannon to get over the 6 metre fence that represents the border. The final distance measurement was 45 metres.

Interesting way to spend a Saturday. Apparently, compressed air is used to launch the human participant (not the gunpowder you see on the Simpsons). After that, it's all physics. If the person remains in perfect position, things go fine. However, changes in the aerodynamic profile of the person means things can go terribly wrong. That's why it's all about the performer, I guess.

For the full article, go here.