The Beauty of Winter!

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Oakville is a part of the GTA, the Greater Toronto Area. The southern part of Oakville rests on Lake Ontario. The Lakeshore Road running through Oakville Downtown is bustling with independent shops, restaurants and cafe’s. A short walk from Lakeshore … Continue reading

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Texting or using your phone at the movies? Die you fiend…

movie-theater-popcornAnother gun related tragedy in America. This has become the norm rather than an exception these days. As moviegoers in a Florida movie theatre watched the previews, a man sitting behind a rude texter argued with his nemesis. He then left the movie theatre to complain to the theatre staff.

So far, so good. I too would go to this extent if someone bothered me at the movies by being silly with their phone. When the irritated guy returned, the altercation resumed. It ended when he pulled out his gun and shot the rude phone man and hurt his companion as well.

One guy is dead, the other will be behind bars for a long time (hopefully). What is wrong with people these days? People on both sides of this story. The texter, if he had such a busy life should have decided not to go to the movies, or maybe could have got up and headed outside to attend to his phone?

But under no circumstances does rude behaviour give anyone the right to shoot that person. How angry are you? How incensed and mentally tortured a person are you to kill someone over using a phone in a movie theatre.

Had the texter not been killed, I would have no sympathy for him. If he had just been roughed up, got his nose broken with a well timed punch, I would probably root for the attacker, but shooting a guy? Taking a life over a movie ticket. This is what happens if the general populace has easy access to guns. Unfortunate.

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Superman! My Hero…

He has always been my true hero! As a child, reading comic books was my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a book worm but I loved comics. My mother used to take me along to make social calls on our relatives and I religiously carried my comics with me.

We would get to their place and as she went about chatting and gossiping with family and friends, I buried by nose in the pages of fantasy. Superman had it all, a strong moral compass, the ability to do the right thing when faced with the most difficult choices.

He never lied, he never killed another, no matter how vile a villain the other was. He always found a way to thwart the wrong with a resounding right. I wanted his super powers so bad. But somewhere inside me I knew that those I couldn’t have.

For one I knew I wasn’t an alien. So I went about building my moral compass to match his. I try to see the good in people. I try my best not to judge others. I do not like crooks and corruption and try to stay true to myself. At the end of the day I feel one has one’s own conscience to answer to.

There have been moments when I have fallen short of my own expectations; at those times I haven’t felt so super. Luckily for me, I am answerable to myself for those lapses and not to the justice system!

Thanks to Superman, and now that I am older, thanks to the creators of Superman I have had a good role model to grow up with.

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Fast Forward

Life today feels like it is on fast forward. In about four days half of January will be over. In my line of work, we liaise with retailers to plan their product assortments, so we are currently planning winter 2014 shipments while we are still not halfway through with winter 2013!

I turned forty last year! That too feels like fast forward to me! I still remember when I was back in grade school, the carefree days. Seems like it was yesterday and now when I look at myself in the mirror I say to myself “Forty? Really?” I don’t feel it in my mind, I do in my body!

I don’t think I am alone in feeling that life is passing by faster than it ever has. In speaking to friends, colleagues and family, all seem to be experiencing the same swift passage of sand through the hourglass.

I did feel a little bit of a slowdown last year between July and August. I had taken some time off to go away to England and then to India. It was a holiday and I had absolutely nothing to do, except spend time with family and friends. Those few weeks it seemed that life was slow motion.

That says something. In today’s connected world, we are doing something every waking moment. That is what makes time zoom by. If only I could get myself to stop, to do the things I love doing, things which make it feel like the world has slowed down.

Sorry I haven’t been able to fast forward to a day in the future, I have just about managed to convey my sense of FAST FORWARD!

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Diplomatic Affairs – The Devyani Kohbragade case.

There are always multiple points of view for any disagreement. This particular story as it unfolds threatens to snowball those differences into a permanent freeze in relations between India and America.

Devyani Khobragade, an Indian Diplomat posted as Vice Consul in New York was accused of paying less than minimum wage to her domestic help, Sangeeta Richard. Devyani was then arrested and treated as a common criminal when booked for the offence. She was subjected to a strip search, and locked with unsavory criminals.

One would think this is a simple matter, what’s all the hue and cry about? But it isn’t so simple. Devyani is an Indian Diplomat and enjoys immunity based on the Vienna Convention. The American’s disagree though, saying she did not have full immunity because she was Consular staff and not a full diplomat. Indian’s say otherwise.

khobragate_0102.jpg?w=480&h=320&crop=1Devyani’s Story:

She was paying the fair minimum wage to her employee. Part of the salary was being sent to India to Sangeeta’s family at Sangeeta’s behest and the balance was being paid directly to Sangeeta. A second contract did exist but that was only entered to on the insistence of Sangeeta so funds could be sent to her family back home.

Devyani alleged that Sangeeta wanted a new passport so she could work elsewhere, that she blackmailed Devyani and eventually left her home.

Sangeeta-Richard-300x225Sangeeta’s Story:

Sangeeta has alleged that she was a mis-treated domestic worker. Paid below minimum wage and forced to work all hours. She eventually couldn’t take it anymore and one day left, connecting with Safe Horizons an anti-traficking program which brought her story to light.

The Diplomatic fallout:

This isn’t a story of two individuals anymore. India and USA are involved as sovereign nations. India because Devyani was a representative of that Government in USA, and America because it is the host country that went out and arrested a diplomat of a friendly country.

Critics of America are quick to point out the case of Raymond Allen Davies, who shot two Pakistani citizens in cold blood and was blatantly bailed out by America using Diplomatic Immunity as a shield against strong protests from Pakistan. India feels that their Diplomat is entitled to no less of immunity than Raymond was.

Today, Devyani has been granted full immunity by the US government and has returned to India. She still maintains her innocence. Richard on the other hand has stayed back in the USA, in fact her family has been brought to America.

There are a few points in this entire story that are strange.

If Devyani claims that Sangeeta was being paid minimum wage, why is that so difficult to prove? If she was remitting part of the funds to India, that should be easy to substantiate and if the balance was being paid in New York then that should be easy to account for as well?

In the US vs Devyani Kohbragade complaint, the officer mentions that the visa form which was submitted mentions the salary for the maid to be US$4,500. That is insane, no maid makes that kind of salary. If you consider $9.75 per hour as minimum wage for a 40 hour workweek, then the wages due to Sangeeta should be $1,560. Did the US Government really expect that Sangeeta be paid $4,500? That was probably Devyani’s own salary as has been reported in the media.

Why was Sangeeta’s family extracted from India? Her spouse and children were granted visas for America and whisked away. US visas are not easy to come by? Sangeeta is not a US citizen to deserve such preferential treatment? Under which US law was all this orchestrated?

We common folk will probably never know what really went on. The two Governments involved will come to an agreement and sweep the whole ugly mess under the carpet.

If Devyani has indeed underpaid Sangeeta, then she deserves to be tried in USA. As an Indian Diplomat however, she shouldn’t be any less protected from foreign prosecution as Raymond Davies was. Now that the Indian Government has secured her release, they should conduct a transparent formal investigation of Devyani and charge her should she be found guilty.

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Syria – Here we go again….

The leaders of the world are up in arms as they allege that chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian regime against its citizens. They claim hundreds have been affected. The Syrian regime however claims that their opponents are the ones using chemical weapons.

The internet is rife with contradictions and there is no real consensus on who is fighting who in Syria. Amidst all of this, how wise is it for select governments to begin a military attack against Syria?

In the name of protecting the citizens of this country, we are all ready to bomb them, causing deaths of innocent civilians. And please, don’t say that civilians won’t die, that the attacks are going to be precise as USA has strong intel because that is a joke. America went to war in Iraq, causing irreparable damage to Iraqi life on a false pretext based on faulty intelligence.

There must be other ways to deal with this:

Fix the UN

The veto powers resting with members of the mighty security council are the biggest impediment to a true democratic worldwide body. Do away with veto powers and then seek solutions from the UN so that truly democratic decisions are returned in time of crisis as opposed to the free for all that takes place right now.

Open your borders to Syrian refugees and take them in

If you are so concerned about the well being of the Syrian people and this isn’t just a ploy to attack another oil rich nation, then invite Syrian refugees into your countries, provide them with escape from this regime. Not too many will go for this solution isn’t it. Very inconvenient, easier to just bomb them!

Think of solutions other than war

There are a few billion people in this world. Can no one come up with a solution that is non violent? Does it always have to be guns and soldiers and the shadow of death? Lets all wake up people, we only have one life, to lose it so cheaply is a shame.

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Silly Facebook posts!

Like the billion others on this planet, I too have a Facebook account and I admit that I do check it once in a while. I used to be an avid poster when Facebook had just started becoming popular, but then I saw that people I didn’t really consider “friends” in my life started asking to be friends on Facebook and it went downhill from there.

What compounded the problem was that Facebook never really allowed it’s denizens good, easy to understand privacy controls and a non-savvy computer user can be sure that they will find what they have shared accessible to strangers anywhere in the world.

So I have become a Facebook watcher. I log in once in a while, I browse around and see what others are up to, if a close friend has posted a good picture, or if someone has a birthday I might just interact using Facebook. So when I am going through the many posts my so called “friends” are splattering across their walls I find some posts very strange.

The posts addressed to GOD! Yes, people will actually address posts to god! One post I read today and which likely prompted this blog post went something like this:

“Dear LORD, I choose to let the struggles…” and it went on. Telling god that he chooses to let the struggles and setbacks in life make him better and not bitter. To this I wrote, “Since the LORD isn’t reading this post, and unless you meant to write to Mark Zuckerberg, I say THY WILL BE DONE”

My Friend promptly deleted my comments!

My question is, the person writing this post knows that the Lord, wherever he is isn’t reading his Facebook posts. At least I hope he isn’t as running the world is such a task! This post is intended for his Facebook friends to read and comment upon, so why can’t it be written as such?

Then there are posts addressed to ones children, even if they are four years old and don’t know how to read! These posts go something like this “Happy birthday Harry! I love you so much…” and it goes on. But Harry isn’t reading this post, your connections on Facebook are, so why can’t you just write this post addressed to your friends, telling them it’s your child’s birthday and you’d love to share this bit of news with them?

And I absolutely don’t want to get started with spouses wishing each other Happy Birthdays etc. on Facebook. That just churns my stomach. Come on, can you not wish your spouse off Facebook? A handmade card, maybe breakfast in bed or a massage and pleasureful sex? Do you really have to go on Facebook and profess your love to your spouse?

I don’t think Facebook is evil per se. It is a formidable social tool, but those who wield it, should do so wisely as others are watching, and while they may not unfriend you for being a wierdo, they may definitely keep their distance from you in the real world, and I believe we need our friends around us in real life, virtual life be damned!

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