Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Internet Mania

An ad for an Internet Service Provider. There are several ISPs and most of them route their cables using the telephone and electric poles, adding to the unseemly jumble of cables that seems to be ubiquitous in the city now. There is intense competition and once in a while the linesmen of one ISP cut off the cables of their rival and it takes hours to fix the problem! The other time we lose Internet connectivity is when they take huge Ganesh idols for immersion.

"Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks."

Warning: the Internet may contain traces of nuts." -Unknown

A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click. " -Unknown

" You can't take something off the Internet - it's like taking pee out of a pool." -Unknown

(The last quote is referring to the fact that websites are archived. If you are not able to find an old website, you can look for it at the WayBackMachine.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Digging Up Everywhere

This boy, who seems younger than 18, is digging with a pneumatic jack hammer. They have dug up the street to lay electric cables underground. The young guy is wearing flip-flops and no protective gear such as work boots, gloves, protective glasses, or a hard hat. The jack hammer is powered by a compressor on a tractor. The hole to the right of the tractor has been dug up for the new pole which is supposed to be used for the underground cables. Of the two poles seen, one is a telephone pole and the other one is for a high intensity street lamp which has been turned off to save on power, and they are back to the old incandescent lamp (which is on another pole!!). Obviously aesthetics is not high on the list. After the cables are in, they don't resurface the street; they just push in the dirt that was dug up and it is not quite level with the street. Shoddy work is the norm, and there is no accountability.

"No man is born into the world whose work
Is not born with him. There is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will;
And blessed are the horny hands of toil. " -James Lowell, A Glance behind the Curtain.

“You'll never succeed in idealizing hard work. Before you can dig mother earth you've got to take off your ideal jacket. The harder a man works, at brute labor, the thinner becomes his idealism, the darker his mind.” -
D.H. Lawrence

Monday, October 29, 2007

Telephone Booth

Telephone booth of a different kind. This makeshift booth was set up in front of a telephone shop. You can see makeshift booths on streets displaying/selling all kinds of stuff - mobile phones, water purifiers, and so on.

The cell phone subscribers are growing at the rate of 5 million per month!! India already has 250 million cell phone users. The huge number of subscribers has caused a frequency crunch and according to the newspapers service providers are jockeying to get larger spectrums.

"Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance." -Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary

"Mobile phones are the only subject on which men boast about who's got the smallest." -Neil Kinnock

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knock, and it shall be opened to you - NOT !

A huge faux door on a building of jewellers. "Gehna" means jewellery. Jewellery and precious stones business is booming. Within the last 12 months, an Indian company, Gitanjali Gems has bought one US-based company, Samuels Jewellers, and bought a majority stake in another US company, Tri-Star worldwide, continuing the global buying spree of Indian companies.

"There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel." - Bible (Proverbs 20:15)

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Drive By Shopping

A Deccan Chronicle Photo

Vegetable vendors right in the middle of traffic. If that is not crazy enough, take a look at the video (below) of traffic in the city. The photo is from a local newspaper and the video is from youtube.

We don't need no stinkin' drugs to get a high. Life here is a reality show and driving in traffic is one big rush. ;)

"I hooked up my accelerator pedal in my car to my brake lights. I hit the gas, people behind me stop, and I'm gone." -Steven Wright

"If everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane." -Bumper sticker

Friday, October 26, 2007

Top Heavy?

An autorickshaw carrying of a load (of mattresses?). Bicycles, autorickshaws, scooters, buses all sharing the same road. "Mininum clearance" is not in feet, but in inches or centimeters, if at all. Almost all cars are dented or scratched. Horns blare incessantly, not only to overtake but also to let others know of their existence.

"Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams." -Mary Ellen Kelly
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Thursday, October 25, 2007


One of the new flyovers being built. Many flyovers have been built as a measure to reduce traffic congestion. The other measure is to widen the streets. It only worked initially but now the number of new vehicles coming on the road is so high that traffic jams are a daily problem. These flyovers don't connect to any expressways/highways. You just get onto it and fly over intersections below. That is all. But now you see traffic jams on the flyovers as well!! All kinds of vehicles on the roads (bicycles, rickshaws among cars, and 2-wheelers) and no lane discipline, as well as poor or no proper design of lanes, turnouts, islands, etc. all contribute to traffic coming to a complete standstill. In such circumstances (when traffic stops) sometimes the policeman can be seen standing on the sidelines rather than directing traffic. It is probably too overwhelming. In a study done, most of the traffic policemen were found to have suffered a permanent hearing loss due to the din of the traffic and blaring of horns.

A couple of months ago a section of a flyover collapsed after heavy rains. It was being touted as "terror proof" but came down even before its inauguration!!

"The shortest distance between two points is under construction." ~Noelie Altito

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Helmet Law

These guys have been stopped by the police for riding their motorbikes without a helmet. "Negotiations" are going on, and people are let off after money changes hands, and by that I don't mean that the guy pays the fine and gets a receipt. Many people ride without helmets even if they have them because it is very hot, or because they want to talk on cell phone!! The law does not require the pillion rider to wear a helmet!! Policemen wait on streets in groups to catch helmetless riders. When they see one, they waive him down. Sometimes the riders speed up instead of slowing down and are able to get away. But at other times, the policeman tries to hit the rider with his stick if he tries to speed up!! In one such incident a youngster lost his life after falling from his bike. There were several minor accidents due to this crude approach. Now the police are beginning to issue an e-ticket (called an "e-challan" here) which arrives by mail after the policeman notes down the number or gets a video. They do this for several things including driving/riding while talking on cell phone, for riding without a helmet, and more recently for driving with number plates which have fancy (difficult to read) lettering. The other day I saw a policman with a small video camera filming the number plates of vehicles at a stop light. But some people have fake licences or fake addresses, so they don't get these tickets. If they have given a fake address, they get caught when they go to renew their licences and have upaid fines. The DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles, which is called RTA here - Road Transport Authority) is quite modern now and waiting time is said to be less than at the DMV in the US! But I keep hearing that it is still possible to get a license without taking a test (either written or driving), as long as you show up to get your picture taken, if you find a right broker.

When the helmet law was put into effect, there was a mad rush to buy helmets. But they did not have enough helmets and so they were being sold in the black market at a premium. Even in helmets there are fake ones!! There was an uproar when people got fined when enough helmets were not made available at the dealers. So they extended the deadline - several times! Only helmets that bear the ISI (Indian Standards Institute) mark are said to be genuine, although I don't know how anyone would know if the fake ones also carry that same mark....

The motto of the traffic police painted on the red pedestal reads: "For You With You All Ways" (sic)

"It is a great mystery why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets." -Unknown

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Free Parking

If you are not able to view this pic, please click here.

The guy in the green shirt is a parking attendant and is carrying a small machine which prints out receipts. He is having an altercation with the guy on the left who does not want to pay because he "just went to deposit a check in the bank" (meaning did not park long enough).

If you click on the photo you can see a guy in a black t-shirt with blue lettering holding hands with a guy in black shirt. In India if you see guys holding hands, or a guy with his hand around the other guy's shoulder while walking or chatting, it does NOT necessarily mean they are gay!! Beyond them there is a kid in orange shirt riding on the gas tank of a motorbike. The guy riding the bike is carrying TWO more kids behind him, but in the photo you can see only part of the leg of the kid sitting right behind him; there is one more kid behind that kid! Needless to say it is illegal for more than two people to ride a bike but it is a common sight to see three youngsters on one bike. It is also a common sight to see people walking in the street as there are hardly any sidewalks left, but even when there are sidewalks, you can still see people walking on the street causing traffic to go around them or causing traffic to slow down. Every day a few pedestrians are injured or killed. Walking is a risky activity.

The municipal corporation has invited tenders from developers to build parking lots, but NONE have come forth so far because the land prices are exorbitant. The municipal corporation should ideally build and operate parking lots but they are more interested in selling land at exhorbitant prices.

"A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works." -Bill Vaughan

"There are two kinds of pedestrians - the quick and the dead." -Thomas Robert Dewar

"Ah... so many pedestrians, so little time...." -Robin Williams

Monday, October 22, 2007

Acronym Bazaar

Do you want to learn SAS, SAP or ABAP? Or perhaps you want to get certified as a CCNA, CCNP, CCIE, or MSCE? (yes, strictly speaking the latter ones are abbreviations, not acronyms) Then you have come to the right place. On both sides of this street are numerous buildings with all kinds of computer related classes.

I hope you will excuse me for posting more than one photo today.

This building is on the main road, not on the street pictured above.

There are no strict zoning laws here which separate businesses from residential areas. So in a building like this, typically the ground floor and the first floor are set aside for offices and businesses, and the floor above for residential flats/apartments. But in this case, even the floors above have been occupied by businesses as can be seen from the sign boards. In some of the flats/apartments where there are no signboards, you can see laundry hung out to dry.

The right side of the building above. (I don't know how to "stitch" these photos together).

There are computer classes all over the city, but here there is a concentration of them. And then there are national chains (not in any of these pictures). Education is big business in India - from English and computer classes to Engineering schools, all are minting money.

Students who enroll sometimes have no clue about which classes to take. They go by someone else's recommendation about what will help them make more money, and it doesn't always work out that way because the quality of the classes and the student's own lack of proper educational background can mean that the student has wasted the money on these classes. Some of these classes offer "live experience", which means they put the students to work on projects which have been outsourced from clients.

Most companies here look for at least 1-2 years work experience when they hire people. And when people don't have that work experience, some fake it on their resume. Companies have gotten wiser and in order to weed out the fake ones in the interview they ask not only academic questions but also questions about the exact location (e.g. which floor) of the company where the candidate claims to have worked, and not only the salary they got there, but also how much tax they had to pay on that salary!!! Recently one of the big IT (Information Technology) companies here let go over 500 people because the company found that they had doctored their resume.

" "Technology" is what we call whatever didn't exist when we were born."
-- Alan Kay, computer scientist at Xerox and Apple

"Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession."
-- Kingman Brewster, diplomat and president of Yale University

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Westward Ho!

Many companies have sprung up offering assistance to people who wish to go abroad. After 9/11, the number of students going to the US had temporarily dipped, but has picked up again. Universities from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France and Germany are sending their representatives to India to showcase their universities, and they are offering financial assistance. Earlier students used to mainly go to the US and also UK, but now a large number of students go to other countries as well. Interestingly hundreds of students are now going to China for medical education (in English). On the other hand, management graduates of IIMs (Indian Instiute of Management) make headlines every year for being hired by foreign companies for higher and higher compensation, the latest being for around $250,000! Another indication of global opportunities is that Americans and Europeans now come to India to get experience in IT and MNCs (multinational companies).

Did you notice that the glass facade has windows in it that can be propped open? Many new buildings are coming up with reflective glass facades. The overhead cables from telephone, power, cable and Internet companies are an eyesore throughout the city.

"Go West, young man, and grow up with the country." -John B.L. Soule

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tamarind Man

What looks like a heap of dirt on that cart is actually tamarind. Tamarind is used in Indian cooking. Many people buy tamarind paste and packed tamarind from the grocery stores. The word "tamarind" comes from Arabic tamr hindi, lit. "date of India." In spite of the name, according to some sources, tamarind is native to tropical Africa and was introduced into India long time ago.

"They sharpened my teeth till I could have shaved with them, and gave them a "wire edge" that I was afraid would stay; but a citizen said "no, it will come off when the enamel does"--which was comforting, at any rate. I found, afterward, that only strangers eat tamarinds--but they only eat them once." -Mark Twain, Roughing It

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Security Check

Looks like something strange is going on, but if you click on the photo you can see that the bank guard is checking the bag with a metal detector. This is the first time I have seen this happen at a bank. While I was clicking one of them came by and asked me what I was doing. I think it is not very smart to be taking photos like this because there is a lot of paranoia given the recent bombings. I am tempted to get a cell phone with camera so that it is not too obvious when I take photos in such situations. People are taken in for questioning if they are found in "suspicious" circumstances. Even though India recently complained about the treatment given to an Indian doctor in Australia while he was being questioned in connection with the Glasgow airport incident, according to local newspapers, there are thousands languishing in Indian jails without any specific charges. That is scary.

"Because that's where the money is." -Willie Sutton, American bank robber when asked why he robbed banks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No Parking

There are two signs. The big one says "No Parking-Towing Zone" and the small one says "Parking at owners risk" (sic). There are TWO rows of two-wheelers parked here! If you are parked in the first row, good luck getting your bike out when you leave! The big sign is by the traffic authorities and the small one is by the bank. There is a huge rush at the banks and there is no proper parking space provided. Once in a while the enforcers make a round. While I was there a policeman came by and talked to the "security guard" at the bank who went in and made an announcement that the bikes are going to be loaded onto the tow truck. Out came a large number of people and they scrambled to move their bikes temporarily to another place. Banks are so crowded that it took us more than 30 minutes just to deposit a check. There are drop boxes, but there was some problem recently with checks dropped in drop boxes and some people prefer not to use them. Banks are giving good interest rates - a fixed deposit for 500 days gets over 9% interest.

There was no forethought about the growth that India is experiencing and as usual policy plays catch-up as huge number of new two-wheelers and cars come on the street every day. It will get worse as a huge number of new small cars hit the street. TATA, an automobile company, is coming out with a car that costs Rs. 1 Lac (lac = hundred thousand; 1 lac= USD 2525 or Euro 1780). Incidentally, TATA is bidding for Jaguar and Land Rover as Indian companies continue to go global, while Mercedes and BMW have set up their manufacturing units in India.

"Politics ain't worrying this country one-tenth as much as where to find a parking space." -Will Rogers

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eid Mubarak - Happy Eid

A big banner greets commuters on the recent occasion of Eid (the Islamic festival which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan (spelled "Ramzan" here). If you click on the photo, you can see the Chief Minister of the state donning an Islamic cap. The CM himself is a Christian. Although India is predominantly Hindu, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh is a Sikh, the chairperson of the ruling coalition, Sonia Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi) is a Catholic, and the ex-president who just demitted office very recently, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is a Muslim. The politicians world over seem to please their constituents by donning their garb and participating in their festivals and making sure that others see it. All through the month of Ramzan, there are "Iftar parties" in the evening. "Iftar" is when the devout Muslims break their fast in the evening. Newspaper photos show local, state and national level politicians holding their own "Iftar parties". Even Iftar has been politicized. The sorry state is reflected in a recent cartoon which showed a bureaucrat asking a politician -"Shall we also invite some Muslims to the Iftar party, Sir?"

"It's clearly more important to treat one's fellow man well than to be always praying and fasting and touching one's head to a prayer mat." -Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian author and the 1988 Nobel laureate for literature

Monday, October 15, 2007

Forbidden (custard) fruit

A monkey eating a custard apple. A group of monkeys visits every few weeks around this time of the year. They pick fruits off the trees, and throw them at us or the dogs! They are pretty bold. Monkeys stealing fruits is one thing, but even people do it. Around here, some people don't consider it necessary to ask for permission. They just pick fruits and flowers off the trees, pulling the branches in order to get to them while standing on the other side of the compound wall, and in the process sometimes breaking the branches. The botched prune job on the bouganvillas can be seen on the left. The "gardner" used a sickle because he did not have a pair of garden shears.

According to one research article, Chimpanzees steal fruit to impress the lady Chimps!

"You are what you eat. Avoid FRUITS and NUTS." -Bumper sticker

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let the games begin!

Ad from Deccan Chronicle

The Military World Games began here today. Members of the US team are participating and security is extremely tight as there have been blasts in the city in the past few months and India remains on Al-Qaeda's target list. Because of the security ordinary citizens cannot view the games! I wish they would at least televise them. In the bottom left corner of the ad you see the famous landmark of Hyderabad, the Charminar (char = four, minar = tower), which was built over 400 years ago.

"It's not whether you are knocked down, it's whether you get up." -Vince Lombardi

Saturday, October 13, 2007


A lion soaking in the sun at the Nehru Zoological Park.

"The lion and the calf will lay down together, but the calf won't get much sleep." -Woody Allen
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Friday, October 12, 2007

International Convention Center

Hyderabad International Convention Center - HICC. This is a world-class state-of-the-art convention center. Now that Hyderabad is on the world map, it really needed something like this. Recently the 58th International Astronautical Congress was held in this center. Another indication that Hyderabad is on the world map is that the World Military Games are going to be held here in the next week, and in Jan 2008, the sixth SIGHAN workshop on Chinese Language Processing will be held in the city!!

"If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India." -Max Mueller

Thursday, October 11, 2007


A statue of goddess Saraswati in the Crafts Village (Shilparamam). Saraswati is regarded as the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. She is depicted in white clothes with a stringed instrument called "Veena".

"Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this great goddess? "- Ludwig van Beethoven

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Crafts village

Near the HITEC city is a crafts village called Shilparamam. A large number of stalls sell a variety of beautiful handmade products.

"Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius

Tuesday, October 9, 2007



Hyderabad Information Technology Engineering Consultancy City. This building houses software companies. This part of the city is called Cyberabad. When Bill Clinton visited Hyderabad (the first US President to do so) in 2000, there was a huge billboard which said "Welcome to the H1B capital of the world." H1B is the visa for working in the US. A large number of software professionals working in the US are from the state of Andhra Pradesh (of which Hyderabad is the capital), or many from other parts of India have got their education/training in Hyderabad. I hope to post some photos of some nice buildings in this area called HITEC City. There are an unbelievable number of classes available in Hyderabad for various computer languages and packages, and from what I understand they are running full. As with some other large cities in India, there are many BPO (business process outsourcing) offices providing call/support center, back office and medical transcription services. India is moving up from BPO into KPO (knowledge process outsourcing).

Although BPO and software industries have raised the living standards and contributed to a rising middle class, which in turn has stimulated consumerism and many MNCs (multinational companies) are opening their development centers and factories, young Indians have begun to pay the price with their health. Long hours of sedentary work, a change to fast foods, and the fact that Indians are genetically predisposed to diabetes and heart diseases, all contribute to younger and younger patients showing up at the doctors. And it does not help that India is moving in the same direction as the much criticized US healthcare system.

"They have computers, and they may have other weapons of mass destruction." - Janet Reno, US Attorney General in the Clinton Administration during an address at the Conference on Critical Infrastructure Protection at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A series of arches at the Qutub Shahi Tombs

A corridor of arches surrounding the main chamber of the tomb. The group of people seen is standing at the entrance. On the ceiling between two arches there is an exquisite pattern in a circle and each one is different!

You walk through a series of arches, so to speak, and then, presently, at the end of a corridor, a door opens and you see backward through time, and you feel the flow of time, and realize you are only part of a great nameless procession. -John Huston

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Qutub Shahi Tombs

The Qutub Shahi tombs are located near Golconda Fort. The rulers of Qutub Shahi dynasty who ruled Golconda for 170 years starting in the 16th century are buried in these tombs. Arches, domes and minarets characterize these tombs. Each tomb has a crypt below and a sarcophagus crowning the burial vault. Some of the vegetable based colors can still be seen today. However, the tombs have fallen into disrepair as are many, if not most, of India's historic monuments. The rulers were Shia muslims and Iranian scholars have offered assistance in restoring the tombs.

"While man is growing, life is in decrease;
And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
Our birth is nothing but our death begun."
Edward Young
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Saturday, October 6, 2007

View from above

This is the view while coming down the steps of Golconda Fort. The area you see below was the private bathing and grooming area for the queen. The royal bath and other areas of the fort received water through clay pipes fed by a series of Persian wheels which raised water to the upper terrace and from there channeled to various areas such as baths, gardens and kitchens . You can also see some of the buildings I mentioned yesterday abutting right against the outer walls of the fort.

"Like tourists huffing and puffing to reach the peak we forget the view on the way up." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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Friday, October 5, 2007

Golconda Fort

This magnificent fort is 500 years old. Through the arches are the barracks. Amazing acoustics allows a person clapping in the portico at the main entrance (seen in the back, right of the tree) to be heard a long distance away atop the 300-foot citadel. A system of ducts allows natural "air conditioning" in parts of the fort. UN Heritage status eludes this significant monument of history because of encroachments within 300 meters of the fort. Year after year they apply and are rejected. Authorities are not able to remove encroachments and prevent new ones that crop up. Implementing law and order is a significant problem in India. Lack of political will, rampant corruption in the system from top to bottom, lack of pride and civic sense in people, all contribute to this sorry state. The fortress city was known for diamond trade. The Hope diamond was excavated from Golconda mines.

It is interesting to see that there are two towns called Golconda in the USA - Golconda, Illinois and Golconda, Nevada.

"There are four kinds of readers. The first is like the hourglass; and their reading being as the sand, it runs in and runs out, and leaves not a vestige behind. A second is like the sponge, which imbibes everything, and returns it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtier. A third is like a jelly bag, allowing all that is pure to pass away, and retaining only the refuse and dregs. And the fourth is like the slaves in the diamond mines of Golconda, who, casting aside all that is worthless, retain only pure gems."
---Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What kind of a reader are you?
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Thursday, October 4, 2007

October 4 - Free Burma - International Bloggers' Day

Free Burma!

Please show your support by signing up at
(Thanks to Kate (Visual St. Paul) and The Toranto Team (, I joined this bloggers' movement.)

My dad used to work in Rangoon (now Yangon). I have seen it through his black and white photos.

Another Burma connection we have is Mr SN Goenka, the venerable teacher of Vipassana. He was born and brought up in Burma, learned Vipassana there and has been teaching it in India for decades.

Truly sorry to see the strife and violence in wherever great philosophies and religions were born and practiced - whether it is the Middle East or Burma, or Bihar (an Eastern state in India) where Buddha attained Enlightenment and taught.

"In the East the Master is considered to be a living Buddha, but in Minneapolis, they wonder why He does not have a job!" - Robert Pirsig

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Peacock - the national bird of India

A peacock in Nehru Zoological Park. I wish I could have
taken a photo with the feathers spread and raised.
Someone told me that keeping a peacock feather in the room
keeps the house lizards away. Don't know if it is true.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

October 2 - International Day of Non-Violence

I apologize for not having a proper Hyderabad photo today. Instead I have an image of a 500 rupee note depicting Mahatma Gandhi on the front, and on the back it depicts him leading the Salt March to Dandi. On the left side of the back, the currency denomination (500 Rupees) is written in the different languages of India. Gandhi has been depicted on the following denominations of the Indian currency notes - 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000. It is quite common to see people with 500 rupee notes now. The UN has declared October 2nd, Gandhi's birthday, as the International Day of Non-Violence, which I think is quite ironic given that there is so much violence right here in the land of Gandhi and other spiritual giants. He would be turning in his grave seeing the terrorist attacks in India and seeing the antics and waste in his name. Gandhi was quite witty. When asked what he thought of western civilization, he replied, "I think it is a good idea." Another favorite witticism of mine is his response when he was asked about his modest attire when meeting King Edward VII of England - "The King was wearing enough for both of us."

Monday, October 1, 2007

White Tigers

White tigers at the Nehru Zoological Park.
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