Monday, March 24, 2014

Souls lost on Flight MH370

After days of frantic search, use of advanced surveillance and all modern tools and technologies from around the globe at their disposal, the Malaysian government finally acknowledged today that the missing flight, MH370 'ended' in Indian Ocean. "We have to assume beyond reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived," said the message. 

All 239 souls on board presumably perished!  My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board the ill fated flight MH370.

It is not the ending most of us following the search on digital media were expecting. And certainly not something loved ones and families of the flight’s passengers and crew are going to be able to digest. And if any of them (or us) were expecting a sense of closure to follow, it may be hard.  On a personal note, only my wife Suja and I know how hard it was for us accept the reality of the abrupt loss of our child on board Jet Airways Flt 229 on 17th June 2008; the memory of which occasionally continues to haunt. 

An abrupt loss of a loved one from an accident can be hard to fathom. All the more if it is from an inexplicable event. The coming days, weeks and months will surely shed more light on the ill fated flight with “lessons learnt” for modern aviation; but hardly something that will ensure closure for the grieving survivors.

My sentiments echo that in the statement issued by Malaysian prime minister Najib Razakwe humbly offer our sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Khushwant Singh RIP

On the drive to work this morning, I heard of Khushwant Singh’s passing in the news. Just wee bit saddened, I began musing on Mr. Singh and his writing. Mr Singh and R. K. Narayan were two writers who influenced me and perhaps many of my generation growing up in India in the eighties and nineties. I was introduced to his writing by my dad who suggested I read the bestseller “Train to Pakistan,” perhaps one of the best books depicting the human face of Indian partition

For a while, I was also hooked on his columns “With Malice Towards One and All” that were syndicated in local newspapers. This was much before the internet age, and I would eagerly look forward to Sunday papers that included my favorite columnist

Besides Train to Pakistan, Not a Nice man to know, and several collection of short stories and essays were a perrrinial read. His narrative style, with a bit of masaala and sex was something critiques loved to hate but influential bestsellers nevertheless.

Even with Mr. Singh’s passing, his bestsellers are sure to continue to shape and influence readers and those interested in knowing what makes contemporary Indians tick. 

Passing at a ripe old age of 99. A well deserved milestone indeed. Khushwant Singh  RIP

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book review and musing on Food Revolution and vegetarianism

I recently finished reading “Voices of the Food Revolution” (link to my Amazon review). The book has some very interesting perspectives on Food. The editors, Johan and Ocean Robbins, interview several authors and “food revolutionaries,” primarily proponents of vegetarianism who oppose “industrial agriculture.”

I am a vegetarian by choice. Having grown up in a vegetarian family in India this theme  of vegetarianism certainly resonates with me. What I find intriguing about the book, however, is that many of the authors interviewed in the book have also sold millions of copies of their books on new age diets and vegetarianism. If millions of Americans have indeed read up on vegetarianism, one would expect some change in behavior and consumption, but the needle has hardly moved in 2014. Last I checked, majority of fellow Americans continue to be carnivores and omnivores. So what gives?
Interestingly, in other parts of the world, including China and India, the newly affluent middle-class is taking to eating meat and poultry like there was no tomorrow.  Googling on this topic, I was surprised to read an article in Economic Times that “Indians eat more beef than any other meat. Beef consumption in India is double the combined consumption of meat and chicken, India is also the third largest exporter of beef….” Holy cow indeed!

In the book, many “food revolutionaries” make persuasive arguments on reducing or avoiding intake of meat and how this can lead to health benefits for individuals, while also contributing to greater environmental good. General argument: reduced meat intake will require fewer industrial cattle farms and lesser grains to feed cattle and poultry.  Wonder if such argument is being made in China and India that will need their share of industrial Animal Farms to feed the growing demand for meat?
Other links:
  • The New Indian Pariahs: Vegetarians - NPR 
  • China now eats twice as much meat as the United States - The telegraph
  • India's growing appetite for meat challenges traditional values - Daily news