From the Editor’s desk

It has been a very long time since a post has appeared on this blog and apologies for that are in order. This has been a massive year so far for a lot of reasons and this post is an announcement of something new.

The Statue of Liberty – One of the most enduring symbols of the United States of America

From the Editor’s desk:
“For all the years that this blog has been active, the posts have been opinions, stories or random articles.I moved to New York a week ago and was clear in my mind that my move wouldn’t affect the content on Dudurudh. But this city has thrown up some interesting stories in the short time that I’ve been here and that gave me an idea. #NYCDiaries. Some of the stories this city has to tell, the lessons it teaches, the incidents that one encounters, I felt, would find a home at Dudurudh. I’m not certain how long this will go on and how often it’ll be updated but this is a start. Some of these posts will be short, others will be long, some will be a correct understanding of the city and others will be wrong. But the diary entries are only from what I see. A narrow description of a multi-layered city. I ask of my readers only this much – If you don’t agree with something I say in these entries, please do tell. This blog has grown only from your opinions and it’ll be the same with #NYCDiaries.”

Stay Safe. Stay Informed!
Anirudh Dinesh,
Editor-At-Large, Dudurudh.

No country for rapists.

This picture has been doing the rounds on social media for a few days now. Some people have attempted to challenge the BBC’s “representation” of India with these figures. But are the numbers any comfort at all?

“Rapes are a shame but propaganda on it: WORSE”
Clearly, a section of our population, our media and our legislators believe that a “propaganda fueled documentary” IS worse than the fact that the rapes actually happened.
If the propaganda fueled documentary portrayed factual inaccuracies, go ahead, berate it. But if you think that reporting the darker half of our country should be banned, there really is no difference between us and North Korea, is there? 
We are by no means a country of rapists. Certainly not the kind that was responsible for the Delhi gangrape case. But think about. Isn’t it true that lots of people DO NOT disagree with the opinions of the defense lawyers? Isn’t it true that at least 94% of marital rape in India goes unreported? Isn’t it true that despite looking at the facts in that picture and much before that documentary was aired, almost every single girl you know is,was and probably will be for quite some time, afraid to travel alone at night on a bus or even walk on the street alone at night? Isn’t it true that some will question the very need for girls to walk alone at night? This isn’t a brush-under-the-carpet minority. It’s a lot of people both rich and poor, educated and illiterate, men and women, hindu and muslim and from other religions who have mindsets that are stuck in the 17th century. I’m not ashamed of India. I’m ashamed of those Indians.

The picture asks an important question: How many documentaries does the BBC do about the social system of the USA? From that question alone, 2 things are clear.
1) The person who made this picture has not watched the documentary. The documentary is a series of interviews of the people related to the Nirbhaya case.
2) The person who made this picture admits that the statements made by various Indians in the documentary is a telling reflection of our social system.

Why doesn’t the BBC do documentaries on the USA? Are there no problems there? Surely there are. And the BBC must be asked to do something about it. The BBC might have chosen this case purely for commercial interests and because they felt it would be easy to gain access to an Indian convict on death row as opposed to an American prisoner. But neither of those is a reason to ban it. Why are we afraid of debate? Of action? Why do we love big statements and promises? Why do we care so much for words and adjectives?

We’re all proud of India. But we will not blindly defend its people’s short comings. We will strive to fix it. And then if the BBC does a piece like this on India, 1.2 Billion of us will stand up to them and send them back with their heads hanging in shame.

Stay Safe. Stay Informed.

Anirudh Dinesh,
Editor-At-Large, Dudurudh.

The argumentative Indian’s right to speech.

A few weeks ago AIB (All India Bakchod), a YouTube channel created by 5 Indian comedians, put out video clips from one of their latest shows- The AIB Knockout- A Roast of Arjun Kapoor and Ranvir Singh. The video got around 8 million views in the 5 days that it was online. It was, as the name suggests, a Roast- A type of Insult comedy that is popular in the west which involves a group of “roasters” making honest, often rude, and sometimes outright offensive observations, albeit in good humor, about the celebrity being “roasted”. In this case the roast happened in front of a crowd of over 4000 people including Bollywood celebrities Sonakshi Sinha, Deepkia Padukone and Alia Bhat among others. The video was taken down soon after it launched after some people took offense to the language used in the video. The move stirred a debate that has long been dormant in India regarding the freedom of speech in this country- or the lack of it.

But if one were to look at this controversy in its entirety, there is only conclusion to be drawn from it. The freedom of Speech and expression hasn’t died in India. It is very much alive and kicking. People just need to understand one fundamental truth about India. We are, in Amartya Sen’s words, a bunch of Argumentative Indians. We’re 1.2 billion strong and everyone has an opinion.

  • All India Bakchod organised the roast in front of a large crowd who thoroughly enjoyed the show. AIB made some money from the show (which was donated to charity). The intent of the show was to introduce India to a form of comedy that isn’t already popular here and to make some money for charity in the process. Part of that objective was achieved. But, AIB successfully introduced the new format to India. Whether it was well-received by Indians or not can not be gauged by the reaction of a few ( or by the over-reaction of some others) but AIB have done their bit. They were free to conduct the show, make money from it and upload it on YouTube. It was, by their own admission, taken down voluntarily. So AIB was free to do what they pleased. 
  • Some people who were offended by the roast took to facebook and twitter and made themselves heard. They were free to do it even though some of them were extremely abusive and sometimes even threatening and should’ve been stopped. But, they did what they pleased as well.
  • Many celebrities came out in support of AIB, saying that artists should be free to express their opinion without fear and the atmosphere being created in the country didn’t allow for it. They were free to make those observations and do as they pleased as well.
  • Aamir Khan took a slightly contrary view and said that he didn’t enjoy the roast because it was “too aggressive and violent”. He also said that he had formed those opinions on the basis of small clips of the roast and admitted that he hadn’t watched the whole video. No one stopped Aamir from saying what he wanted to say. He did as he pleased.
  • It didn’t stop there. Russell Peters, one of the world’s most famous stand-up comics came out strongly against Aamir Khan, saying that he should “shut up and mind his business”. Despite the fact that what Aamir did was “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it”, Russell was free to say what he said. 
  • Apart from these, some people went ahead and filed FIRs against Arjun Kapoor, Ranvir Singh, Karan Johar, Alia Bhat, Sonakshi Sinha and Deepika Padukone because, well, they wanted to do. They were free to do what they pleased. 

Apart from these “celeb” examples, millions made their opinions clear on facebook and twitter. It isn’t for any of us to decide who is right and who isn’t. Primarily because there are valid arguments on either side. Arguments, that the opposite side thinks holds no water. But that’s true of any public debate EVER. The truth is, the debate is happening. Everyone is free to do what they please.
There are reasonable restrictions on the right to speech. But one of the guarantees that comes with it is that one will not suffer from unreasonable consequences as a result of their opinion. The FIRs filed is certainly a shame. No one should go through a humiliation of that kind. Not least people like Alia, Deepika and Sonakshi who were simply in the audience. But one can trust the judiciary to be more sensible than the overly-sensitive haters and that the legal system will put that FIR where it belongs- shredded into a dustbin.
But one thing is clear. Everyone in India has an opinion. They are always free to express passionate opinions. But when you make a passionate argument in India, just remember that there is someone, somewhere with an equally passionate counter-argument. Take it on the chin and move on. This is India and “we are like this only”.

Stay Safe.Stay Informed.

Anirudh Dinesh.
Editor-At-Large, Dudurudh.

Exam chronicles

It’s 5:30PM and I’m supposed to be studying for an exam that I’ll be writing in 16 hours time. It’s the last exam of the semester and I can’t find the motivation to bring myself to study for it. It’s that time of the day when I like to sit in front of my open books, deep in contemplation about how expertly I’d managed to waste the past 3 days doing basically nothing other than reading tweets from random celebrities and posting some tweets myself. Of course, no one probably read any of those tweets but that’s the weird thing about twitter. If you’re someone with thousands of followers, it’s a great medium to share your views. But when you have fewer than a 100 followers, it’s basically like shouting at a wall in a very noisy room because eventually, not only is no one listening to you but also, you can’t hear yourself amidst all the confusion the other people are creating BUT, you still do it anyway.
I slap myself a couple of times regain my focus. Although, in hindsight that was counter-productive because I spend the next 20 minutes consoling myself by treating myself to some delicious biscuits that my mother had hidden away in a corner cabinet of the kitchen I hadn’t hitherto visited. As I push away the crumbs of biscuit that now rest peacefully on the pages of my text book, I realise the quantum of work that I have left. I flip the pages desperately in the hope that somehow they’d reduce in number but obviously, no luck. I get up from my seat and walk over to the cabinet and explore again. Sadly, no luck there either. I get back to my seat and try to read another page. This was clearly not working very well. Suddenly, I get a notification on my phone. It’s the calendar. “Chelsea Match Day at 7:15PM” it read. “One hour to go” I told myself, in the hope that it would motivate me to study for that extra hour. Image processing is a very interesting subject. It’s what people now use to make their disgusting photos “look better”. If you’ve ever seen that fair and lovely advertisement that makes the girl “fairer in one week”, I can tell you with some authority that it wasn’t the cream that did that. It was some basic image enhancement. If you want to look fair-er, you should have chosen fair-er parents. A bit late now for that, isn’t it?
Anyway, as you can see, I have a tendency of getting a bit carried away. It’s 6:30PM and I’ve still got loads to do. I walk into the kitchen again to find anything that’s remotely edible. There was a packet that used to have cream biscuits but now hosts a handful of salted peanuts that escaped their own packet and rolled into this alien territory where they’ve mixed with the strawberry cream from the previous inhabitants. But when you’re panic eating, your taste buds just take a nap.
I manage to read a couple of more paragraphs and close the books to get ready to watch the match. I’ve got an elaborate pre-match sequence that I follow which takes about 15 minutes.
I’ve settled comfortably into my couch where I usually sit at the beginning of a match. (By the end, I’m usually sitting/squatting/lying down/crying/jumping on the floor depending on how the match goes). Chelsea play Southampton today and we’ve got to avoid defeat to stay top of the table at the beginning of the new year. (Yes, that’s a useless detail but then again, isn’t this whole post pretty much useless?).
Two hours pass by rather quickly and I’ve to get back to studying now. I decide to check twitter one last time before turning off the internet but there’s some disturbing news there. A low intensity explosive had gone off on Church street and injured 2 people. Church street is parallel to MG road, one of the most popular, crowded places in Bangalore. Church street itself is a lazy looking lane. There are restaurants and book stores and houses and offices on either side of the street (and funnily, no church that I’ve seen. But of course, that’s probably my ignorance). It’s a nice place to roam around at almost any time of the day which makes this piece of news even more saddening. The city is on high alert and everyone has been advised to stay vigilant and report anything suspicious. All this is making it even harder to study but I’m trying to finish as much as I can before lady sleep descends on my eyelids.
It’s 10:30PM and I decide to give in to the pressures of a sleep-inducing boredom that has presently thrown a veil over me. I set an alarm for 5AM so that I can finish off the rest of the syllabus and revise in the morning.
Pharrell Williams’ super hit single “Happy” rang out loudly, awakening me from my blissful sleep. It’s still dark outside. I opened the windows to let some fresh morning air replace the suffocating, stale air that had filled the room. A cold winter breeze found its way in and grazed the tiles. Walking on this floor feels like walking barefoot on ice but it has certainly woken me up. I leave a bowl of milk to boil on the stove and walk back to my table. I notice the calendar showing yesterday’s date but I’m too lazy to go change it now.
Exam day tension compels me to put my head down and study what I have remaining. By now, the milk has boiled and spilled over. I leave it to cool and get back to study. A couple of hours pass by really fast and I realise that I’ve to hurry to get ready now. I close my books and go to take a quick shower and change into college clothes: a full sleeved shirt and blue jeans. I pour some milk into a cereal bowl filled with cornflakes, a practice I began over 12 years ago.
It’s 8:15 AM and I have 15 minutes to leave for college. I drink the remaining milk in the bowl and leave it in the sink. As I stand in front of this little mirror, a strange calmness descends on me. I pick up my bag and get ready to leave. I flip the date on the calendar and walk out, locking the door behind me. It’s time to go write an exam!
P.S: In case you were wondering, which you probably were not, Chelsea and Southampton played out a 1-1 draw.
In case you were wondering, which you probably were not, the exam went like all exams have ever gone. “It was okay”.
And finally, In case you were wondering, which you probably were not, there are better posts than this one that will be published soon.
And FINALLY, in case you were wondering, which you probably were, yes, this post is finally over. Bye.

Diwali: Be a Hero

In India, we celebrate a lot of festivals. We celebrate so many festivals that at times it is difficult to keep count of what we’re really celebrating. Different people look at this differently. For school kids, it means plenty of holidays. For their teachers, it means less time to complete the syllabus. For employees, it means a day away from work. For their employers, it means a drop in productivity.
But there is one festival that really stands out in a calendar year. For years, I’ve been told it’s the “festival of lights” but that isn’t an accurate description of what it is any more. I’m,of course, talking about Diwali.
The story is familiar to everyone. (For those who aren’t familiar with it, there’s a VERY concise version here : The Diwali Story).
Diwali is, like almost all other festivals, a time to celebrate. And at least for as long as I can remember, it is also the time when environmentalists everywhere feel like they have the most hopeless job in the world.
In school, one of my favourite things was to write essays in English class. Every year, the day before Diwali, we’d be asked to write an essay on diwali. And almost everyone’s essay would go something like “Deepavali is the festival of lights. We wear new clothes, light lamps, exchange sweets and burst firecrackers.”
My essay, on paper, used to be more or less the same too. But in my head, my essay went something like “Diwali is the festival of lights and we burst crackers and then we burst crackers and then some more crackers and then we take the black powder out of all the crackers and make it into a heap and add paper bits to it and set fire to it and make it into a bonfire. And then we wake up the next morning and burst all the remaining crackers”.
It used to be the most fun thing to look forward to every  year.
But that was when I was young and stupid. Fully grown adults around me would tell me on 361 days a year that we must save the environment and that we must not litter the streets and so on. But almost every single one of them would have a major personality change for the 2 or 3 days on which diwali is celebrated. You could see them in the thick of action, teaching young kids how to light crackers. The following morning, walking through the streets lined with the small paper pieces that wrapped the crackers, they’d complain about how horrible lighting firecrackers is. For a 10 year old, actions speak much louder than words. At that stage of their lives, they’re no more than impressionable monkeys. They’ll imitate everything an older person around them does. And when they see that there’s some sadistic joy that can be derived from blowing up stuff, they’ll do it more.
But that’s basically where the criticism of the kids ends. If I stepped out on the streets today and convinced the kids celebrating diwali not to do it, they’ll stop. And then the moment my shadow leaves their territory, they’ll start again. Kids don’t look for reason. They look for examples. And as long as adults don’t set that example, you can’t blame the kids.
So for the grown-ups, this is an issue they must not take lightly. Pro-environment groups have tried all sorts of campaigns to dissuade the use of fireworks. They’ve all fallen on deaf ears. What people fail to understand is that if you carry on mindlessly bursting crackers, “falling on deaf ears” won’t be a metaphor any more.You’ll actually go deaf. And if not you, someone will. And if that doesn’t bother you, evolution must’ve messed up somewhere.
Every year, the day after diwali, newspapers print air pollution statistics about how much more pollution this festival caused. Turn to the next page and there’ll be a story about how young kids working at a fireworks factory in Sivakasi died from poisoning.
But these are all things everyone knows. And yet it seems, no one can resist the lure of diwali.
If you go back to the start of this article and read it once more, there are a few points that are crucial to show how much the concept of diwali has changed and where the problem lies.
  1. Diwali isn’t the festival of lights. It is a mad day when people gather to burn crackers that produce more smoke and sound than light. The retort I get most often to that fact is “If you don’t like it, don’t celebrate it. Don’t ask us to stop”. Unfortunately, you’re not celebrating this on TV. I can’t just change the channel. Every ounce of smoke that you create, adamantly insists on floating around in this thing called the atmosphere and my lungs, apparently, can not survive without inhaling air from this atmosphere. Of course, I could just leave town for 3 days and come back after diwali but I’d be guilty of not making you feel guilty if I did that. So NO. I won’t do that.
  2. On this day, environmentalists feel like they have the most hopeless job in the world. That’s because they do. They work religiously all year to make the world a better place for us to live in and for 3 days, the entire country gangs up against them simultaneously in one big Thank you-for-letting-us-do-this-by-cleaning-up-our-dirty-act-from-last-year.and-the-year-before-last-and-the-one-before-that gesture.
  3. Kids don’t really understand the meaning of diwali. They don’t care. Society has trained their minds to enjoy this craziness.
  4. Remember those adults I spoke of earlier? The ones you could see in the thick of action, teaching kids to light crackers? You can’t see them any more. That’s not because they’ve stopped. It’s because there is too much smoke to see anyone or anything.
  5. I feel bad for criticizing the kids. It sounds like I’m one of those guys that has had my fun by celebrating it for 3-4 years but now that I’m done, I’m sucking the joy out of their lives. But the truth is, I’m better off without the crackers. So are they.
  6. There are actually things called “Pro-environment groups” . That must mean that there are “anti-environment groups”. And trust me, we are all members of that society. If you’re annoyed by the extreme views of the pro-environment group, quit the anti-environment brigade.
    Oscar Wilde said “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell”. We do. We really do.
I’m probably already too late with this post but here’s a humble request. I’m not asking you to stop celebrating diwali.
 I’m asking you to teach one adult and one kid how to celebrate diwali without the crackers. Eat some sweets. Go out for dinner. Trust me, you’ll feel awesome eating good food with the money you would’ve otherwise burnt, Literally.
Light a lamp. Light 10 lamps! Take a picture of it, add those annoying filters and put it on instagram or twitter or facebook or where ever you want with the hashtag #JustSavedTheWorld.

Oscar Wilde wasn’t wrong very often. But I’m sure he’d appreciate it if we proved him wrong in this case. 
Don’t be a devil. Be a hero. Always be a hero.

Stay Safe! Stay informed!
Anirudh Dinesh,
Editor-At-Large, Dudurudh.
#JustSavedTheWorld

Anonym: Part 1

 Disclaimer: The following story is purely fictional. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is coincidental and unintentional.
“Ravi, either chop down the coconut tree or have those coconuts plucked before they fall. If another coconut falls on Javed’s house, I will book you under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. Do you know what that is?” I asked, sternly.
“No sir. It won’t happen again. I’ll make sure of it.” Ravi replied, scared by my quoting the Indian Penal Code. Having served on the police force for 34 years, I’d learnt that the easiest way to resolve trivial matters was to quote some random section of a penal code that I’d never read. As usual, the simpleton was fooled by quasi-intellect and pseudo-power. In reality, the police really had no jurisdiction over such matters as non-existent boundary disputes. But in a town where nothing of great significance ever happened, coconuts falling from one man’s compound into another’s gives the police something to do other than swatting flies and eating ground nuts all day. I had devoted a full 45 minutes to this particular hearing. Without getting into the details, a coconut tree on Ravi’s land had decided to lean over his fence and overlook Javed’s house. When the coconuts fell, they fell on Javed’s roof, causing him the extreme agony of having to collect, sell and make money from coconuts that weren’t his.
After letting them argue purely for my own entertainment for about half an hour, I pretended to scour some large hard bound book on law for an answer to the present predicament. After announcing my verdict, I sent both parties away. They offered to pay me Rs.101 as an expression of their gratitude. I declined their generous offer because I wasn’t one to accept money to solve such silly cases. “The department pays me every month. I don’t need any extra money from you” I said.
“But the department refuses to give my son that brand new mobile phone they’re selling in Chandru’s shop so..” I left the rest to their own comprehension. The folks of Aracherry were very understanding when it came to these “traditions”.
As the senior-most of the 4 constables in the Aracherry police station, I had a lot of responsibilities. It has been about 6 years since the police station last saw an Inspector and so my responsibilities have only gone on increasing. But, even with that added responsibility, I normally don’t need to do a lot of work for 2 reasons- One, since there’s no inspector, I don’t have to report to anyone. Two, Nothing ever happens in Aracherry.
For those two reasons, all of us had jobs on the side to keep us occupied. For instance, Krishnan ran an astrology class in a run down mill just outside the station. It was far enough from the station so that no person/s ( read : a rapid inspection squad from the headquarters) could see him from the station and close enough so that he could hear a loud noise from the station to alert him of the arrival of any such person/s. His class normally had 12 students. That’s the maximum number of people that could be stuffed into that old mill without it being labelled a human suffocation room. On any two given days, no 12 faces would ever be the same. It was always a floating population of students who paid the modest sum of Rs50 per class for his services. He was never rated badly as an astrologer because his predictions could never be proved wrong. The reason for that was that his predictions were always long term. “You must sell 30Kgs of rice at half cost to any grocery shop of your choice or else your grandson’s son will not live past the age of 45.” he once said to a rice trader who faithfully did what he was told . There was only one grocery shop in the vicinity. It belonged to Sabu, another constable. Sabu, for his part, would refer forlorn traders and other customers of his to Krishnan the astrologer to solve their problems. In this way, they kept each other’s businesses running. The blind belief in Krishnan stemmed from one prediction he made a few years ago when he said that it would rain in Aracherry within 4 days of his prediction- information he had received from the weather report of a punjabi news channel (For people in this small town, any language other than malayalam was an alien tongue). For the farming community that constituted the majority of Aracherry’s community, it was the only thing they cared for especially since rain was scarce in these parts. Luckily for Krishnan, the weather report, unusually, was right and he became a legend.
The third constable, Shetty, whose first name almost nobody knows, was the local property consultant. A property consultant’s job involves a lot of running around and so he was almost never to be seen in the station and he wasn’t missed either. Shetty believed in a (flawed) theory that says that taking bath once in 3 days rejuvenated one’s skin. You didn’t need a blood hound’s nose to sense that Shetty was nearby.
And then there’s me. And this, is the story of the sleepy town of Aracherry.

Pareidolia: Finale

“What?” Issac said, snatching the file from Sarah’s hands in disbelief. “Flat No 2204! That’s the house on the top floor! I knew it! Lisa, dressed up as Martha, killed Purva and then put us off track with the
statement about Tony.”
“Why did these two want to kill Purva in the first place? And how did she even know Tony?” Sarah asked.”The adoption papers don’t name the person who adopted that child. But, there is a clause in it that Alex and Lisa could ask for custody if they get married within 2 years of the adoption”,Issac said.
“So you think it was Purva who adopted the child and she refused to give him back?” Sarah said.
“Possible. But the neighbours said that they haven’t ever seen Purva with a baby.” Issac said. “We’ve to find Lisa. That’s the only way we can find out what happened. We’ve got to search that flat. Let’s go”

At Redwood Trail apartments, armed with a search warrant the duo enter Flat No 2204.
“There isn’t much stuff here SJ. Looks like they’ve cleared out.” Issac said.
“Ice. Look.” Sarah called out, going through a bunch of photographs. Issac came in and joined her.
“That must be Aaron”  Issac said, pointing to the picture of an adorable little baby.
“Yeah..I wonder wher..” Sarah froze at one picture. She wiped the dust off it to have a better look. There must’ve been 20 people- All in Black, standing around a coffin- a small coffin. Kneeling by its side was Purva.
“Do you think that’s…” Issac said, afraid to name baby Aaron.
Sarah just nodded, her sinking voice and drowning heart making it difficult to say anything.
“Lets go.” She managed to mumble”We’ve got what we need”.

As they walked down from Lisa’s 20th floor apartment, Sarah was in a daze. Issac followed her mechanically, the photo firmly held in his fist. On the 17th floor, Sarah lifted her head to have one look at Purva’s apartment. She walked to the door and grabbed the tape that read “Police Line. Do not cross” as if to tear it. But she let go and turned to Issac, dug her face in his shoulder and burst into tears.
In that picture, was a face that Issac hadn’t noticed. Standing a couple of feet behind a kneeling Purva was Tony-His head bent in reverence and hands tied behind his back. He stood alone, away from the rest of the crowd but close enough to Purva to suggest that he knew her well. Issac still hadn’t realised this. He sat Purva by the stairs and waited for her to stop crying. In a while, her tears dried and she got up and walked over to the large glass window by the stairs. She stood there and looked out over the rising skyline of the city with the vast ocean on the horizon, still thinking of Tony. Issac walked over to her, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he said.
“Yeah. Tony loved this city. If he saw this now, he’d take off on his bike chasing the horizon, searching for some invisible joy” she said, a couple of tears slowly making their way out of her eyes. She took the picture from Issac’s hand and pointed at Tony, handed the picture back and rested her head on the glass, deep in thought. Issac didn’t immediately recognise the face. He took a closer look and realised who it was. He wasn’t sure what to say. He put an arm around Sarah’s shoulder, trying to console her.
“Sarah”, he said softly after a while. “Let’s leave”.
Sarah walked like a zombie and got into the car. For the next half an hour, they said nothing to each other. The radio in the car played some old malayalam song periodically interrupted by the police wireless address system.

Back at the headquarters, Inspector Murugan had the adoption details of baby Aaron from the agency. It confirmed what the duo had suspected. Purva was the one who had adopted the baby when he was barely 12 days old. When Sarah and Issac got back, Inspector Murugan had more news for them. “I just received some sad information about the baby. He died of pneumonia at the age of 3. Purva moved to Redwood Trails after that. She didn’t have many friends here but we got in touch with the head of the adoption agency…” he stopped seeing that Sarah looked distracted. “Are you alright Sarah?”
She nodded to suggest that she was. Issac handed the photo to the inspector and explained what had happened.
“Oh so you guys already know about the baby. But it seems you still don’t know about Tony’s involvement in this”. Suddenly, Sarah became more interested in the conversation. “What involvement?” she asked.
“Like I was saying, we got in touch with the head of the adoption agency. A nice woman by the name of Theresa. It is routine to conduct a background check of the person adopting a child. Usually, it is done by the police but often, we allow reputed agencies to conduct their own background checks. In Purva’s case, it was Tony who did it. They got quite close too apparently.” he said.
Sarah didn’t flinch. She was learning more about her brother after he died than before. She struggled to keep up with the conversation.
“So Alex and Lisa blamed Purva for the death of their baby? But there’s no way they could’ve known who adopted the baby. The agency doesn’t reveal those details normally” Issac said.
“Right you are.  It was Theresa who informed the couple that their baby had died. She felt it was only right that the biological parents were present at the funeral. That’s where Alex comes in. Remember he was charged with criminal intimidation and a B&E?” Murugan said.
“He tried pressuring Theresa into revealing the details and when she didn’t agree, he broke into the agency and took all of Purva’s details.” Sarah inferred and completed the inspector’s statement.
“They must’ve seen Tony at the funeral. Since he was away from the crowd, they must’ve remembered his face. So it was pure coincidence that Lisa described him to the sketch artist. She had no idea that he was your brother.” Issac speculated.
“Did they have anything to do with Tony’s death too?” Sarah asked, trying to mask her fear with confidence.
“I had the checked too. But there’s nothing unnatural about his death. So it’s unlikely that these two were involved in that.” the inspector replied.
“But it took them 3 years to find Purva? That’s an unusually long time. Especially if they broke into the agency and found the details long back.” Issac said.
“True. But the details in the records only told them where Purva lived earlier. It took them time to track down her new location” Inspector Murugan clarified.
“I’ve already dispatched three teams to find Lisa. Good work you both. You’ve solved a crazy case. Now it’s time for the paperwork. Go on. Get on with it”  he told them, before answering the phone that had been ringing for a while now.

Sarah and Issac walked out of the debriefing room and walked onto the roof of the headquarters where two guards were now permanently posted. They sat near the ledge, looking at the skyline again. In the distance was redwood trails and beyond it, the ocean on the horizon.
“Sarah, I get that you’re upset thinking of Tony. But you’ve got to get over it.”. Issac said bluntly.
Sarah was sitting with her hands propping up her head. She tilted her head towards Issac and smiled. Then, turned her face away from him and stared into the sunset.
“I can’t stop thinking of Purva. When I stood in front of her door after we found that picture, I could see her on the door. I could see her outside in the skies. I could see her in the skyline. Every little noise sounded like Aaron’s cries. Even now, when I look out at the horizon, I can see them. But then I remember Tony. I can picture him even now on his bike, chasing the horizon. Only now, it seems like he’s racing to join Purva and Aaron. It wasn’t an invisible joy he was going after. It was  just one I couldn’t see it. But he did. He never told me about Purva but I remember him quoting G.K. Chesterton to me once, I’m sure now that he was talking about her: “Walking up a road at night, I have seen a lamp and a lighted window and a cloud make together a most complete and unmistakable face. If anyone in heaven has that face I shall know him again”. He will see her face again in heaven. And I just wish he finds the joy he was chasing.”

Goodbye iPod Classic.

Only a few hours ago, I was writing the introduction to my previous post and I happened to mention the various industries Apple has changed with its brilliant products over the years. One of them, was the Music industry. The iPod truly changed how people listened to music. Sometime in 2001, the iPod took the world by storm. That iconic, inimitable click wheel that let you scroll through your songs was an instant hit and it stayed a hit for more than a decade.
The iPod was everything that Apple stood for. Simplicity, Convenience and Brilliance.

I will keep this post short not because there isn’t anything to say about the iPod but because it speaks for itself. Many competitors tried and failed at challenging it and that speaks volumes for the superiority of the iPod.
But now, after many years of loyally serving music enthusiasts around the world, the iPod classic has been retired by Apple. Other variations of the iPod have taken over the baton from the classic and proudly carry on its great lineage but for Apple fans like me and many many others around the world who have had the good fortune of using one of those magical devices, it’s a tearful, nostalgic moment.
While Apple has made the exit quiet and unceremonious, dear iPod Classic, you will not be forgotten.
Goodbye.
Anirudh Dinesh, Editor-At-Large, Dudurudh. 

Inherently Apple…or not.

Every now and again, Apple likes to shake up an industry. What makes Apple special is that it’s not just one industry that they’ve changed forever.
Apart from the Macs changing the way ordinary people interacted with computers, the iPod changed the way people listened to music, iTunes changed the way people bought and sold music, the iPhone
changed how people viewed and used mobile phones and the iPad brought a major shift in the capabilities of a “Post-PC” computing device.
With every launch Apple did what they did best- what they, in the immortal words of Steve Jobs, had set out to do- Put a dent in the universe.

Recent developments in the world of technology have made that more difficult. Apple’s competitors in the smart phone market have adopted aggressive marketing ploys to wrest control of the market space from Apple. To a large extent, they’ve been successful too. Apple, historically, has valued user experience above all else. The competition looks at technology from a different perspective. To them, a smart phone is a collection of numbers. 2GB, 8-core, 41MP, 4200mAh , 441ppi, $599. What they’ve been insanely successful at, and this is the tragedy, is to convince people that a smart phone is just a collection of numbers.
Apple looks at technology differently. To Apple, a smart phone is the sum of everything you do with it. Starting from the keynote to the advertisements, the focus was on how beautifully Apple’s phone works not on what makes it work. At least that’s how it was until Steve Jobs was around.
Although it’s too premature to judge, Apple has failed Steve Jobs on one front. He wanted Apple to outlive him. Apply has out survived Steve. It may not have outlived him. While they’ve largely succeeded at keeping the core values that was characteristic of Steve’s Apple, Apple’s identity is beginning to change. History will judge if that’s for the better or worse.

This post is in reaction to the keynote address at the launch of the new iPhones and the Apple watch.

To normal people watching the launch of the iPhone 6, it would’ve seemed rather grand and impressive. By the standards set by the competitors, Phil Schiller hit all the cliched notes. But it was very evident that not even Phil believed that the iPhone 6 had anything that was going to create ripples in the industry. The phone has a bigger screen, a faster processor, a better camera and the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, iOS 8. People are used to this “upgrade” launch concept thanks to the competition bringing in a culture of launching phones every 7 months. To an Apple fan, the most striking thing was the amount of time Phil spent crunching numbers that were genuinely unimpressive. For instance, he compared the Graphics processor of the iPhone 6 to that of the first iPhone and said that it happens to be 84 times faster. A fact, but a comparison that highlights nothing other than the fact that you really have nothing else to show. Don’t get me wrong, Steve jobs did that too but he compared a phone with it’s immediate predecessor, not to a 6 year old phone that had no need for graphics at all. Honestly, Phil should have compared it do a 15 year old hand-held video game instead and said its 400 times than that.

As far as number crunching goes, both of those are useless comparisons.

Infinite journalists and biographers who have covered Steve Job’s famous keynotes have noted many times that he used to use positive words like “magical and beautiful and create a reality distortion field”. Sadly, when Phil does it, he creates a really distorted field instead. He comes across as trying desperately to force feed your brain that “the iPhone 6 is the best phone you’ve ever seen”. In an almost samsung-isation of the company, Apple treated the iPhone 6 as a collection of numbers. That, to my mind, was the biggest let down on their part.

But the keynote was never meant for those iPhones. The star of the show was, what the media anticipated to be, a watch. Apple watch. Apple went all out for this device. Tim Cook even used Steve’s famous “One more thing….” line.One of the great successes of this device on face value is its customizability. Apple lets you pick your own strap. In the sea of those multiple straps you can use, are some really ugly ones. First step, stay clear of those straps. Pick the right one and this is a decent looking (not mindblowingly beautiful) watch that’ll fit on your wrist with no fuss.

Even though I said earlier that Apple’s identity is beginning to change, one bit of innovation they’ve done for the watch, gives me a ray of hope.

The digital crown.

In a very casual way Apple proudly announced that their goal for the watch “was not to shrink the iPhone to fit your wrist”.
Keeping that in mind, They’ve converted what has been on watches for ages- the crown into an input device that has multiple functionalities. A user interface change that could be as important to the smart watch industry as touch screen was to the mobile phone industry. It’s a simple feature no one has thought of yet but is bound to be copied by the competition.
That simplicity in thought and ingenuity in execution is inherently Apple and hopefully it carries over to the other products too.

Apple’s latest launch has been met by rather encouraging reviews. Mainstream media’s expectations seem to have been met. But for Apple, it is crucial to remember one thing. Mainstream media treats
Samsung’s sad excuses for phones as good. By those standards, Apple is bound to do well. But Apple’s competition has never been from others, it has always been a battle within. A battle to make the best possible device a user could use. A battle to be the Gold standard. A battle to change the world.

Stay safe! Stay informed!                                                                                                                           

 Anirudh Dinesh, Editor-At-Large, Dudurudh.

Analysis: Why premier league is England’s route to World cup glory.

With the dust slowly settling on the 2014 FIFA world cup and people’s schedules going back to normal, it is time for most teams to summarize the reasons for their dismal world cup performance. At the top of that list for atleast a decade now, has been the English football team. Including  the golden generation that boasted a midfield featuring the likes of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, a strike force of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen and a defense that had John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole, the English team has never fared well at the biggest stage of them all. The big name stars have never been able to play to each other’s strengths and adapt to a kind of play that would bring out the best in them. Multiple managers, themselves big names, Sven Eriksson, Fabio Capello and now Roy Hodgson, haven’t changed the team’s fortune much. Different combinations of midfielders, striker and defenders, all big names, hasn’t helped either. What then, is the real reason for England’s continually dismal run at the world cup?

The English Premier League.

Yes. Over the last decade or so, the premier league has been one of the most attractive, lucrative leagues in Europe, and indeed the world. Then why fault it for England’s miseries?
The answer, lies in the success of the league itself. The premier league has thrived far too long on foreign players lighting up the league. Neither the league nor the clubs in it have paid much attention to youth academies. Club owners looking for instant success rely instead on bringing in big name players from foreign leagues to deliver the results. Patience, has never been a word too often used in the premier league.  While the emergence of these foreign players has led to great advertisement for the league and in lots of success for the clubs, it has resulted in locally bred talent not getting the kind of exposure they need.
Since Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and co, the big clubs have produced only a handful players worthy of playing regularly on the big stage. More recently, smaller clubs like Southampton, who can’t afford the big players, have looked inwards and discovered the likes of Lallana and Shaw. Yet, these are players who have no experience playing under the pressure of expectations and standards of the big clubs and so, find it harder to make an impact at the international level. Given time, they will carry England forward. But more of their kind must be bred.

Look at the most recent winners of the world cup. Germany this time and Spain in 2010. When Spain were crowned champions, spanish clubs like barcelona and Real madrid were at the top of their games with spanish talent (with the exception of Messi and Ronaldo) driving them. Take Germany for instance, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have proved their worth and the quality of the German youngsters they have in recent years. It is no coincidence the national team’s fortunes have been so closely linked to the emphasis on youth development at the league level.

That, in itself makes a case for the premier league and the English FA to give more emphasis to local talent. Probably provide incentives to teams that have youth development programs and take in young English players from the academies into the main teams. For a start, having a mini league for the reserves and youth team and providing more coverage to the youth FA cup and so on will do them a world of good.
Hopefully, by Russia 2018, England will have a squad developed and bred at the highest level and they will fare better than their star-studded predecessors.