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Saturday, May 07, 2022

Rape of Dominique, Free markets and Me

Being the product of our socialist Indian society, I did not readily believe in the positives of free-market. Then slowly, many authors/writers/columnists and life-experiences "happened to me". 

  • Ashok Desai (Price of Onions fame), 
  • Swaminathan S Ankleswarn Iyer (Swaminomics fame), 
  • Gurucharan Das (India Unbound fame), 
  • Atanu Dey (author of, 
  • Paul Graham (essay writer at eponymous, 
  • Amlan Dutta (ex Vice Chancellor of Vishwa Bharati University). 

They gradually convinced me about the multiple implications of freedom and the free market. On top of that I lived and experienced the changes brought by partial Indian liberalization of 1990s. As a result, from being a socialist in 1990s, I became a staunch pro-free-market person by 2012.

Then I read Ayn Rand for the first time. In 2012. By that time, I needed no more convincing. As far as I was concerned, Ayn Rand was preaching to the choir. But the her passionate language and reasons blew my mind. 

I also came across people with intense hatred against Rand. I found at least three people who told me, "But did Ayn Rand not glorify the rape of Dominique by her hero Roark"? I found out that none of the three has read Ayn Rand themselves. They had read commentary on Ayn Rand written by some third person. I postulated a tentative law "Anybody referring to the rape of Dominique has not actually read Fountainhead".

I also found that my socialism-to-free-market journey (from 1998 to 2012) is not typical. Many folks (I know of) are still in my 1998-frame-of-mind, i.e. they are still anti-free-market. Most of these anti-free-market people are in government jobs. That brings me to my second postulation: "A person whose salary is funded by taxes is unlikely to see the virtues of the free market. It goes against her/his means of existence". You cannot convince these people about free markets, and I have given up on such attempts. I understand that I might have become like them if I had taken up a government job.

That brings me to my third postulate. The education system must be privatized for betterment of the society. At least the delivery of education should be privatized. The government vouchers can still fund the students, but the delivery must be in the hands of a profit-driven industry. Otherwise, the socialist drivel is drilled deep into the psyche of impressionable minds. After that, it is challenging (myself being an example) or impossible to alter people's thinking. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Fatehpur Sikri: A bitter sweet experience

Skip Fatehpur Sikri! If you are on holiday and want to relax, avoid this place like the plague. The guides/touts/beggars will ruin it for you. Yes, you can resist the guide/conman/beggar mafia by  shouting/pleading/ignoring, but that resistance is exhausting. Do you want your relaxing holiday to be this stressful?

This is such a shame because the Sikri part is one of the best kept medieval pieces of architecture you can ever come across. It is clean,  stunning and beautiful. But I recommend visiting Fatehpur Sikri only if you are a true art/architecture/history enthusiast or an intense devotee. You will have to tolerate/suffer the guide-conman-beggar mafia with all your persuasion/will-power. If you think your love for history/religion can trump the stress of dealing with the bullying/nagging mafia, you should go for Fatehpur Sikri. Otherwise, drop it. Visit Tajmahal instead. You cannot have enough of Tajmahal. And the government has made the arrangements impeccable. There are guides there at Tajmahal as well, but they will respect your 'NO'.

If you are hell-bent on visiting Fatehpur Sikri, I have some suggestions. The place is a gold mine for photography enthusiasts. Plan to reach the place before 6:00 AM. You will have the entire area to yourself. Also, if you are commuting from Agra, you get to skip the hellish Agra-Fatehpur commute in the early hours of the day. If you are not of the religious type, you can skip Buland-Darwaza, Badshahi-Darwaza and Salim-Chishti-mazaar and focus only within the ASI-protected-Sikri-ticketed area. You will be less bothered by the tout-guide-mafia.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Murder on the orient express

I read Murder on the Orient Express after watching the movie. Watching the movie did not take anything away from my enjoyment of the book (and that is rare). The framework and beautiful picturization in the film helped my mind focus on the puzzle that Agatha Christie laid out with so many details in writing. There were pieces of understated humour throughout, like the thoughts of the Doctor and Bouc when Poirot 'assigned' them and himself the task of sitting back and working out the details after laying out all the facts.

I had to read this book with some urgency at the behest of my daughter, who insisted that I must read something normal and fun. She believes that I mainly read "boring" books in masochistic torture.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Architecture Favourites

1. Infinity pool: I like it because of the aesthetics. It needs one sidewall lower than the water level and a pump to continuously maintain the water level.

2. Door free entrances to public rest rooms: I like it because it maintains privacy without an actual door, leading to better hygiene and easier maintenance.

3. Shutterless airplane windows: I like it because it removes one movable component per window. Also during take-off and landing, the pilot can centrally control the window transparency (without having the cabin crew pleading/cajoling all passengers to comply).

Soul searching: Rough thoughts

  1. If each cell within me is individually living, how do they transfer a part/whole of their consciousness to become a single 'I' (Sambaran)? Does an individual living cell at my fingertip know that it is part of a consciousness called Sambaran? Is Sambaran (a living consciousness) a part of some higher super-being/organism which Sambaran is unaware of?
  2. I have an intense urge to live on and survive at a subconscious level (not at a conscious level, though). Why? Maybe the top-level I's commitment to all the cells living as part of 'me'.
  3. If every cell, even the ones in my brain, dies and is replaced within six months, how do I have a continuous feeling of 'I' throughout my life? Do the dying cells transfer the 'I' consciousness to the living ones? What happens on Sambaran's death? What sends the signal to all the cells in the body that 'now is time to die' for all?

Raag Behag (Bihag)



রবীন্দ্র সংগীত

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Preferring Independent House in Old Age

In a recent twitter poll organized by Manish Chauhan of, I was surprised to see that 50% of responders preferred independent-house in old-age (over a flat in a society). Since this was so counter-intuitive to me, I requested people to cite reasons to stay in independent-house. This post is to accumulate all those points. Some of the reasons FOR an independent house are not specific to old-age but evergreen points. I have classified them separately.

Specific to retirement/old-age:

  1. Pursuing of hobbies: Retired old age IS the time to pursue hobbies. Some hobbies like gardening may not be suitable for shared flat kind of accommodation. Independent house helps.
  2. High maintenance charge: Flats in societies can have very high maintenance charges, which may be unacceptable in retirement.
  3. Status Quo: People want a familiar environment in old age. Folks who have stayed in independent houses all their life see no reason to change to flats in old age.
  4. Proximity to parking: It is not possible to have car parked nearby in most societies. In old age, with limited mobility, this can be a good reason.

  1. PrivacyA private balcony is an impossibility in a shared society. In crowded cities, complete privacy may be hard to get, even in an independent house. But there is a finite probability of getting the requisite privacy.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Ordnance Factory Privatization

 I do not believe privatization of Ordnance Factories (India's defence manufacturing units) will improve anything substantially. Keeping arms manufacturing under the government control might be as good or as bad as keeping it under private. I wrote a lengthy comment on a magazine's article. I am cut-pasting the same here for posterity.

There is no free market of arms and ammunitions on this planet. Neither there should be. So Ordnance Factory Manufacturing will never be under the classical dynamics of free-market demand and supply. Howsoever 'corporatization' may be there.

The customer of OFB (in its current or 'corporatized' avatar) will always be only 1. The army/navy/airforce. The fountainhead of corruption in most nations and civilizations has been defence procurement. That is not going to go away any time soon.

Hence I do not jump with joy at the prospect of OFB corporatization, even though I am a free market fanatic. All the partnerships (foreign and domestic) will lead to more innovative 'sales and persuasion technique'. There cannot be a market when there is only one customer. Hence there never will be any market incentive to improve the quality of arms & ammunition. Arms & ammunition manufacture is one of those industries where a few top officials' patriotism/ethics/morals will be the only quality driver. That is how it has been till now. That is how it will continue to be. Corporatization or not.

Disclaimer: I grew up in an OFB colony. So yes, I am biased about this topic. I admit that I have seen lots of freeloaders, work-shirkers, corrupt OFB employees. But I am proud to say that I had seen some brilliant, insane, genius workers who pull the factories through despite all the pull-back and pathetic (by today's standards) salaries.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Government: Dos and Donts

Let me define some terminologies in the beginning.
Government tasks: The tasks that government carries out using tax money.
Voluntary collective: People supporting a cause who come together, pool money and work for the cause. Unlike the taxes collected by government under threat of a gun, the contribution to the collective is entirely voluntary. Example: Ramkrishna Mission, Resident Welfare Associations, etc.

I prefer to restrict the government to only those tasks which need some form of coercion or force. Like police, military, judiciary, community discipline in case of pandemic etc. I want to explain the above with some examples:
Task Responsibility
Impoverished seniors Voluntary collective.
Military spending Government
Long term pandemic management Government
Public schools/primary education Ideally voluntary collective. If government must come, let it only fund educational vouchers. The school should be run with profit motive by private entrepreneurs.
Homelessness Voluntary collective
UBI Definitely NOT government.
Bail out industry Definitely NOT government. Industry should create its own rainy day buffer.
Non intrusive testing/tracing capabilities for pandemic management Ideally government as this is public-health-issue. But I cannot imagine any government building a tracking/tracing capability which it won't misuse by invading into citizen privacy. Honouring privacy requires ethics of the highest order, and no government can maintain high ethics.

None of the ideas is my original. It is a synthesis of ideas that I picked up over the years from Swaminomics, Atanu Dey, Gurucharan Das, Paul Graham, Ayn Rand, Amlan Dutta, Ashok Desai.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

'Love' এবং তার বাংলা অনুবাদ by Biswadeep Chatterjee


Have you been broken
Like the banks of a river
Gushing water constantly chipping off
Leaving jagged edges
As it builds a distant bank
With what was yours

Have you bled
Haemorrhages invisible to the eye
Every moment eating your vitality
Leaving a carcass behind
As it embellishes another life
With morsels of magical moments

If you have
Then you have loved.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

My experiments with meditation: Breath

(part 7)
For last 3 years, I am sticking with breath-meditation. I focus my attention on breath. While breathing in, I focus on the sensation of air rushing past my nostrils, filling my lungs, my stomach bulging out a bit. Then I exhale through my mouth and I focus on the pressure of out-breath on my lips. I try not to think about anything else, but I do get distracted most of the days. When I realize that my attention has wandered, I bring the focus back to breath.
I use the website for tracking-time and daily-habit-streak ONLY. I do not listen to voice-guided-meditation/music/chanting any more.
I did get into turbulent times in last 3 years but that did not disturb my meditation streak. It is difficult to conclude whether meditation helped me or was the turbulence not turbulent enough. All my skepticism about meditation-effectiveness still remain. Inspite of the skepticism, I am still continuing with meditation due to following 4 reasons:
  1. Streak addict: My account shows an unbroken streak of 650+ days. I am addicted to this big number and loathe to bring it down to 0.
  2. Feels like game: I miserably fail to hold my attention to breath without a break. Till date I never had a single session without mind taking a stroll of its own. It makes me more determined to log my first day of zero-wandering-meditation.
  3. Pulse-rate-monitor: I am using a fitness band for last 6-7 months. Meditation invariably brings my pulse-rate down to 57-60 range. This is a solid proof as opposed to questionable mental/spiritual benefits. A drop in pulse-rate helps my body.
  4. Blogs/articles: Credible articles and blogs keep popping up regularly detailing benefits of meditation.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Inequality, Paul Graham and Me

Rich getting richer is fine if poor gets richer as well. If rich gets 100x richer and poor gets 5x richer, inequality increases but that is a desirable outcome.
Unfortunately, many of us (especially Bengalis) have an unhealthy anti-rich-pro-poor tendency at heart. We have vilified the rich. We assume that riches are always acquired by unfair-means instead of hard-work and intelligence. This is tragic since enterprising-rich has been the fountainhead of all civilization-advances.
We Bengalis have paid (and still paying) the cost of this hypocrisy with our collective degrading poverty.
Paul Graham has written two beautiful essays (gap and inequality) related to inequality and wealth-creation.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Machines are coming!

I like to believe that AI and robots will create so much food/clothes/homes/gadgets, that cost of living will go down to zero. All of humanity will be able to get every material-need satisfied, freely and effortlessly.

However, humans need something more beyond materialistic-stuffs. We need entertainment, sense-of-purpose, joy-of-overcoming-hurdles. Many a times I curse my daily struggle for the stress it creates. Ironically, the same struggle gives me a sense-of-purpose. It is the same struggle that gives me joy-of-overcoming-hurdles. It is the same struggle that tires me out and primes me up for entertainment and relaxation.

I guess that challenge will be to get these extra-materialistic needs fulfilled when machines are providing us with all our material-needs.

I like to believe that our psychologists and philosophers will find a way out.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My experiments with meditation: Guided voice at

(part 6)
I persisted a while with passage meditation. Then came extremely stressful situation in life. Meditation seemed inconsequential in face of such storm in life. When the stress went away, I felt like resuming meditation once more.
I was very tired and passage meditation seemed more tiresome. Hence I wanted an easy meditation technique. I came across CALM. There was a soothing guided-meditation option on the website. I took to it. It felt good to start meditation again. There was/is a huge scepticism in my mind. Meditation had failed me during my time of stress. I resumed again, due to an innate belief that some time in future, it may still help.

The ease/novelty/feel-good of guided meditation at wore off soon. The same soothing voice, after repetition, started jarring. Some words/expressions seemed vague and meaningless. I continued liking other features of the website like timer and daily-statistic-collection (how many days streak, total time spent in meditation etc). Soon I transitioned to my next meditation technique.

(To be continued)

Monday, December 29, 2014

PK, Aamir-Khan and freedom-of-expression

The Hindus calling for a ban on filming PK are wrong. The people calling for ban are misguided. Freedom of expression has a long way to go in my country. I have written about similar topics earlier here,  here,  here here,  here  and hereI am getting repetitive but so are the troublemakers. The same 'sin' of curtailing freedom is happening in India repeatedly.

Last time I liked watching Aamir was in Dil-Chahta-Hai. Post that, Aamir the actor has became too preachy for my liking. Satayam-Ev-Jayate is brilliant in parts but Aamir's presentation always sucks. His tears look yuck, his shocked-expressions look yuck.
I am disturbed by the hypocrisy of Indian media in depicting religious insanity. Everybody shoots by keeping the gun on Hindus' shoulders. It is always Hindus who are superstitious. It is always Hindu god-men who are lecherous. Bengali media is more guilty of such one sided depictions. As a Bengali-Hindu I feel extremely angry about it. Such hypocrisy arises primarily out of fear. Many muslims react violently if their faith is criticized and hence the media takes an easy cowardly way out.
I feel happy that many Hindus take the jibes against their faith constructively. Hinduism is a work in progress like any human endeavor and I feel good about it. I feel irritated when some Hindus take the violent way out. I have not watched PK because of my distaste of Aamir Khan. I also feel irritated on seeing a one-sided-bias against Hindus. HOWEVER, I will never burn PK posters or ask for a ban on the movie. I will request the folks gunning for PK ban to see the light of reason and stand back. Do not watch PK if you do not want to but please do not stop those who want to.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Black money, Real estate AND Us

I believe that black money (significant part if not most of it) is present within Indian boundary and is not languishing at foreign coasts. This article at sums it up nicely.
Many Indians have shown their willingness to curb corruption over past 2-3 years. In the same spirit, I recommend minimizing real estate transactions, in our own life, till a cleanup happens in real-estate sector. This will involve minimal individual pain. If many of us do this, we can effectively curb a big chunk of black-economy.
How to minimize real-estate-transactions in one's life?
Buy only one house in which you want to live. Do not buy house for investment purpose. There are sound financial rationale against real-estate-investments anyway. Rooting out corruption/black-money is an added kicker against real-estate-as-investment philosophy.
If you are facing black-money (read compulsary cash transaction) menace while buying first house itself, do the following:

  1. If you are buying a house from builder, there is minimal to zero black money involved in the transaction. If the builder insists on cash, find another builder.
  2. If you are buying second/third hand from an individual, refuse to pay cash. Move to another seller or a builder.
  3. If neither method works, stay put in rented accommodation. If you are really consumed by the fire to root out corruption, is it too much of a pain to stay rented? Is it too much of a sacrifice?

What if you are a seller and buyer insists on cash?
If you have bought only one house for your own consumption there is no question of selling it. Unless, you are forced to move out of the city permanently. If your move-out is temporary, say for job compulsions, then you must have an intention to return to your city in future. In that case, rent out your own house and remain a tenant in the new city.
If the house you want to sell is your second/third/fourth(read investment) house, then buyer indeed holds power on you. That is why I recommend not to use real-estate as investment.

I believe if many of us minimize personal-real-estate-investment, the industry and government departments will correct its ways. The proverbial-black money will then be forced to find out other avenues. Is it not a worthwhile crusade?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

My experiments with meditation: Eknath easwaran and passage-meditation

(part 5)
One of my seniors from engineering college introduced me to writings of Eknath Easwaran. I first read 'Take your time' by Easwaran. I was immensely impressed. Easwaran detailed a technique called passage-meditation. Easwaran used a beautiful writing style along with compelling similes. I will spoil your experience if I try to paraphrase Easwaran in my words.
In summary, the meditation technique consists of memorizing a 'holy' passage and reciting it during the meditation session in your mind. If you reach the end of the passage, you start from the beginning. In case the thoughts wander away from the passage, it needs to be brought back to the start of the passage.
I took a liking to passage meditation as it came from an authority figure. I felt the security of numbers while picking up this technique. I also took the opportunity to memorize shlok from Bhagvad-Gita and brush up my Sanskrit (which I had studied for 4-5 years in high school). It was fun.

(To be continued)

Friday, October 03, 2014

My experiments with meditation: Salvation through music

(part 4)
I reasoned that among our five senses, listening is the most unwieldy. You can block sight by closing eyes. You can block taste with an empty mouth. Maintaining an odour-free area is very easy and even if there is a smell, nose quickly adapts to it. Touching the sitting surface is inescapable. However touch is so commonplace that the feeling-of-touch almost never registers on consciousness unless you focus on it. That leaves out SOUND.
You cannot easily block out sound. The perfect earplugs are not generally available. "If you cannot beat them, join them". Hence I thought of a meditation technique where instead of blocking the sound, I choose to immerse myself in it. The sound will not be of ambient-noise which I cannot control. Instead it will be the music of my choice through the earphones. I chose evening-prayer-of-ramakrishna-order.
The meditation session will mean sitting with your favorite hymn/music/tune plugged to your ears. The idea is to focus on one aspect throughout one meditation session. Sometimes I focused on the beats of drum, sometimes on the words of the hymn, sometimes on the written words of the hymn which I imagined in my mind. However in a particular session, the focus will be on a single aspect. In case the thoughts wander around, it needs to be brought back to the drum-beat/sequence-of-words/sequence-of-lettering.

(To be continued)