Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Creating a Fake CA Certificate

I have to say, beautiful work...

MD5 considered harmful today
The authors describe how they were able to create a CA certificate that would be trusted by a browser. it involves smartly crafted MD5 collision attacks. Some of the work is novel, as in how they came up with the collision. Other part is out of 'sheer luck' in a sense. All it took was a CA that was dumb enough to use MD5 AND sequential serial numbers, both of which should be easily removed from tomorrow onwards. Still, nice and solid work.

Its been some time that I've enjoyed reading a scientific article...

Edited to add:
The problem is 'fixed', at least for Verisign.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


What's up? Well, things are getting better at the office, and then density of problems to handle on a weekly basis has been shooting down lately.

I am pretty much done furnishing my apartment, and I'm more or less ready for hospitality too.

So, we had the Winter Solstice Festival thing. Glad that it is over. Its really annoying to hear "Jingle Bells" sang at church... try to find any praise for God in that one...
Anyways, I didn't celebrate Christmas this year. Didn't go to church, didn't fellowship, no real special dinner (although I cooked something nice for myself) and spent half of the day sleeping.
Work is more interesting. I'm more focused on my research now. I'm slowly writing the proposal. I have still to decide if I'm going for PhD or not. The problem is that there is no real good(read: world-class) engineering school in Hyderabad. Have fun looking at the JNTU website and try to spot all the typos! And did I mention that is a category 'A' institution?
So my only two options are IIIT and IIT, the latter being freshly created and located in the middle of nowehere...
And if I want to do a PhD anywhere else, I HAVE to spend the first year on campus, and that would make living in Hyderabad kind of impossible. So I'm wondering what to do.
I have purchased a lot of furniture from a brother who's moving away to a mission team, and my apartment is nearly done furnishing. I'll post some pictures later.
I've had a few problems lately with my bank... in short, the credit card salesman lied to me. It took them two days to understand what was the nature of my complaint. Wow!
Transportation is an epinous issue. I am wondering about buying a vehicle. A motorcycle is not an exciting idea, as the driving is INSANE around here. A car is expensive to buy and operate.
The company bus works well in the morning, but less well in the evening. I'm always late for church meetings in the week, and sometimes I'm not getting anywhere because its too full and the driver won't budge. So I'm going back to the train. With all its quirks and complications, it remains that I can get somewhere with it!
I'll give more thought at the idea of buying a vehicle. But my green side is not allowing me to make that move. I'm still true to myself ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Update on the Singles' Ministry

As you all know, I'm a normal brother who's trying to do what he can to help my fellow brothers and sisters to go to Heaven.

Since I can't speak to a sister, even less encourage her, that means that the single brothers are my focus right now.

And things are unfolding nicely.
I have friendships with a few of the brothers, and they are opening up to me.
I invited them to come over last Saturday evening for half-night of prayer, then breakfast and prayer in the morning. It was great! I really felt that a lot of the heart-wrenching decisions I took were paying off that night.
We had prayers in English, Telugu, Hindi and French. How's that for variety?
I have to get some more serious discipling going though. Prayerfully, the Spirit will guide me. So much things need to be done, so many battles to fight, souls to win, and I feel I would need to do 10x what I'm doing now to make even a dent in the backlog. Prayers welcomed.
I discussed with the evangelist, and I will take some brothers along with me to do a study of the Holy Spirit. I needed to do it for myself, and it would enrich the congregation if some folks have a stronger understanding.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Marriage Blues

No, I'm not married. But someone got married this weekend.
A brother in Mumbai, and another couple tied the knot in Hyderabad.

I wasn't supposed to attend the wedding in Hyderabad. I had my tickets for Mumbai ready and my packing was done. I had planned a lot of time with old friends. But I got sick. You know, the kind of diarrhea that doesn't get better? After 3 days I was barely able to focus at work. So I left early and went to the doctor and got the pills. And had to cancel my trip.
I spent most of Saturday in bed.
On Sunday, I was feeling a bit better. There was a wedding right after the church service, and I dressed for the occasion. I was the only man with a traditional Indian dress... wow!
But the true wow was with the sisters! They were proud of their roots, and you could see so many colourful and beautiful sarees! Seriously, that much colour can hurt a man's vision for a few days at least...
Seriously, the more I am in India, the more I think that folks in the West have no idea what beauty is.
Back on topic, I did not know any of the two who got married... I had to ask some questions to the bridesmaid and the groomsmen in order to know a bit about them.
Of course I was happy for them. But a more general kind of happy. Like being happy that there are no more people getting killed in Mumbai... yes its a positive feeling, but its not an actively positive one, and its independent of joy.
And, once again, my heart bled, knowing that my turn hasn't come yet. It could've come in the past, and there were opportunities in the church, but none of those looked like the woman of God who would help me build up my brothers and sisters in the faith.
But also, God's daughter deserve the best, and I'm on catching-up mode.
So I wait, I pray, and I work on my character. And the more I fix things, the more I see things to be fixed. And every time I thought I was getting close, I realize that there is another major issue that needs fixing.
I don't give up, but I joylessly move forward. I'm doing what is right, and what is best (in my interest, in my future wife's interest, and in God's Kingdom's best interest), and I stomach the pain of changing.
I have a bit of peace knowing that Jesus didn't always have his emotional needs met. Why do I say that? John the Baptist was beheaded, and He couldn't get much time to mourn (Mt 14), and he was more or less left to Himself in Gethsemane (Mt 26). It is hard for me to let go though... and somehow find peace with the idea that some things I want may or may not happen.
But its the only way forward. It is the victory of surrender, and I will claim it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Récapitulatif - 2 mois

Je suis arrivé il y a 8 semaines déja, et les choses sont en place...

Je vous écris à la suite des attentats terroristes dans mon ancienne ville (Mumbai).
Je vais bien, malgré que je sois ébranlé par ça. De savoir qu'un jour, je pourrais reçevoir une balle parce que ma peau est de la mauvaise couleur dans le cadre d'attentats terroristes. Ou bien de voir mon chez-moi calciné par une foule colérique, car je suis de la "mauvaise" religion.
Et c'est à peine alors que les persécutions contre les chrétiens s'étaient calmées... Il est clair qu'il faut continuer à prier pour ce pays, afin que tous et chacun apprennent a s'aimer et à vivre ensemble.
J'ai passé un mois à vivre dans un logement fourni par l'entreprise, avant de me trouver à dormir chez la mêre de l'évangéliste... j'étais presque leur nouveau fils!
Mais maintenant, je vis dans un 4 et demie pour moi tout seul. La décision fut motivée par de la vision que j'aie:
- Rencontres quotidiennes avec des frères
- Avoir de l'espace pour l'hospitalité
- Avoir un frère comme coloc (que voulez-vous? La maisonnée Dornal me manque)
- Avoir de l'espace pour faire des fètes pour les célibataires
- À proximité de la majorité des frêres célibataires
- À proximité de l'évangéliste
Et ça veut dire que je dois voyager environ une heure pour aller au travail à chauque jour.
Et ce fut vraiment dur à avoir... problêmes de prix, de proprios (ils ne veulent pas louer à des célibataires), de quartier, etc.
Ce fut une grande lutte, de renoncer à moi-mème. Je pourrais ètre égoïste et me payer un apartement plus moderne, avec les luxes occidentaux. Mais il fallait faire des choix.
Je ne savais pas qu'une machine à laver ça pouvait se remplir au sceau, ni que l'eau chaude venait en option... Disons qu'une douche chaude me manque...
Il y avait beaucoup de travail à faire, et beaucoup de coquerelles à exterminer. J'ai eu de l'aide ahurissante des frêres, qui ont nettoyé, peinturé, réparé l'appartement. Et c'est sans compter qu'ils m'ont conduit d'une place à l'autre pour faire tous les achats nécessaires.
L'investissement en vallait la peine. Mon ministêre est celui des frêres célibataires, et j'ai été vraiment béni par Dieu. En gros, je vous écris juste aprês avoir fait une petite fète avec une douzaine d'entre eux. Nous avons mangé, prié et joué à des jeux. Oui, vous lisez bien, j'ai trouvé le moyen d'avoir du fun! Pas besoin de vous pincer...
Déja, j'ai des bonnes amitiés avec plusieurs frêres, et je vois déja l'impact que je pourrai faire. En gros, ça faisait quelques mois qu'ils ne se sont pas trop confessés. Donc, les choses commencent à sortir, et c'est des montagnes de confessions. Aussi, ils ont souvent bien des questions de foi avec lesquelles je peux aider.
Présentement, on est à la phase du grand ménage, et puis ensuite on mettra en place un d-group dans quelques semaines.
En parallêle avec ça, les dirigeants de Bangalore m'ont "matché" avec une soeur là-bas qui avait vécu à l'étranger. C'était un peu nouveau pour moi comme situation. Enfin, j'ai fait le voyage pour avoir deux dates avec elle et j'ai pu commencé à bâtir une amitié avec elle. Disons que j'était heureux de pouvoir parler avec un soeur, ça me manquait! Ne grimpez pas sur vos rideau! Je ne marierait pas de sitôt. Je me concentre sur l'impact que je peux avoir ici. Encore une fois, pas besoin de vous pincer...
J'ai été três tempté par le matérialisme, par les mauvaises priorités. Mais, Dieu merci, j'ai pu éviter beaucoup d'éceuils jusqu'à présent.
Il y a eu un baptème il y a deux semaines, un jeune frère qui a étudié la Bible pendant un an et demie. J'étais si heureux de voir que Dieu m'a mis dans une bonne situation spirituelle, moi qui avait vécu un an de désert juste avant.
Le Québec me manque. Pas juste le luxe occidental, mais des choses comme la liberté personnelle, le sentiment de sécurité, la culture, etc. Je me donne des petits traitements de musique Québécoise de temps en temps. "Je reviendrai à Montréal" me fait brailler à chaque fois. L'hiver me manque, et j'espêre avoir assez d'argent pour revenir passer des vacances avant que tout fonde!
Faites-vous des bonhommes de neiges et des randonnées de raquette pour moi. Prenez des photos et envoyez-moi ça!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terrorist Attack in Mumbai

For those who are really out of touch with the news...

DNA, Bloodbath in Mumbai
CBC, Gunmen attacks across Mumbai kill at least 101, others held hostage
Cyberpresse, Photos
Cyberpresse, Nuit d'horreur à l'hôtel Taj Mahal de Bombay

And yes, they were targeting foreigners. Remember, I have the wrong skin color...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

India Calling

This article in the New York Times summarizes well what it means to make the shift...
The World - India Calling, by By ANAND GIRIDHARADAS.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finally, I'm doing something!

This weekend, I went to a National Park in Banjara Hills with some AIESECers. I then when to City Center, also in Banjara Hills and bought some things at the 'dollar store' there. So I have some decoration in my home :)

On Sunday, we had a baptism at church. That one one of the Bible studies in the single brother's group. I was glad to see that! After that, we went deep into a Muslim neighbourhood to get beef biryani to celebrate. Remember, its illegal in India to kill a cow, except at regulated places...

Still, I've been spending lots of time buying stuff for the new home and cleaning up.

As a sidenote, I have updated my registration with the FRO. Legal compliance is done!

Do not discard your brain


Friday, November 14, 2008

Finally Moved In

On this Wednesday, I have started to occupy my new home in Hyderabad.
I did some mopping, some dust-cleaning, and "cooked" dinner for me and a brother helping. It was ramen noodles late in the night. Yuuuuuuuuuuuuummmm...

But its done! Yay!
But no housewarming party just yet. The place still sucks too much to do that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Month Down the Road

Its now a month that I have been here. God willing, I'm moving in my new flat tonight.

I did my HIV test today, as I am legally required to do. I don't need the results, I know it'll be negative, but I have to have done it, just in case someone in the government feels like not liking me.
It would be interesting to find out which % of foreigners who have to do it have done it...
I went to Bangalore last weekend. I had two dates with a sister, and generally enjoyed myself. I spent a few hours with a former colleague and his daughter. We went to a park and to a state aquarium. I always delight in God's creation, and that time in the aquarium was no different.
I really enjoyed the company of this sister too. She's smart, has wide interests, and has lots of conversation. Don't panic yet... she's not my feminine equivalent... she's not a geek :)
The traveling sucked, and I was in Hyderabad in Monday mostly braindead thanks to my train ride. Oh well.
Lately, I have been witness of two historical events: the successful launch of India's first mission to the moon and the election of Barack Obama. Its great to be witness of history in the making. Who would've thought India would have a real space program? And it certainly beats the Canadian one...
And I was sure that Clinton would've won the Democratic candidacy, only to be beat by McCain down the road...
Maybe I'll revise my judgment on the US in a few years, and make it on the list of places I would accept to live in.
Things are more or less settled at work. I have recently upgraded my computer to Ubuntu 8.10. It is working very well, looks sharp, and I don't have to do much Windows :) The problem that I have is that I don't get much work done, having to deal with all the things that aren't well oiled in the company. Let me give you some examples: papers for FRO registration (HR didn't know what to do), bugs in the accounting system that made it so that I didn't get any money, couldn't apply for advance nor for a loan (HR had to switch to a manual process), and problems with my email that essentially locks me away from the whole intranet (I'll spare you the details), and some neverending workflows which may yield some money at some point.
Anyways, its almost all done now.
I'm moving to my new flat now. Its OK located, but not superb. And everybody in the office is worried about me. Its a Muslim neighbourhood. You know that I don't care about that stuff. But, in Hyderabad, those words are synonymous of poverty (and all the ills that come with it) and of risk of communal violence. I'm not so worried, because I live at the periphery of it, and next to a government facility where I can always run away to in the worst case.
To me, these things are so prevalent anywhere in the country that I don't see much of a risk difference. Prayerfully, God will keep things safe for me.
That flat ended up needing a lot more renovating than I thought it would be. To make matters worst, I had to entrust that to someone to do. That brother is very good to do all that. But the loss of control and the constant delays made it difficult.
Let me summarize:
- I don't have control over what is happening
- I have no money, so I have to rely on others' generosity and hospitality
- I never move in when I think I'm about to move in
- There is always something else to be done
- The work is not always done at the quality I could have done it with.
- Cheap furniture hunting is not so easy. Prices go up when people see me.
Meaning that I had episodes of freaking out every now and then...
Anyways, I'll give it a shot for some time, and I think it'll be OK. If not, I'll move in somewhere else, more expensive, and have to slash some other expenses.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

3 weeks down the road in India

I'm STILL in transition phase, believe it or not. I should move in to my new apartment soonish, making it a full month of transition.

The good thing: that is making me close to brothers and I'm already having better bonds than in 6 months in Mumbai. That gives you an idea.

Here are the not-so-great things going on, and misc. other things on my mind.

I'm OK. I'm surviving 100% thanks to the church's generosity, since my company has a payroll management that needs a major upgrade.
I should move in my new apartment in a few days. There are a lot of crawling things, and fungus in the water tanks. Once those are thoroughly cleaned (I feel like using the word "sterilized", but I won't go there), I can move in.
That place has running water, but its bore water. City water, that is supposedly treated yet undrinkable has to be carried by hand by the servants who live in the basement of the building. That gives you an idea...
I think you'll agree with me that bottled water is the way to go.
I'm going to Bangalore this weekend. I'll have a date with a sister.
Someone there had the idea of matching us. We'll see how it goes. I already spoke to her on the phone and email, and we definitely get along fine on the conversation side. We'll see how good friends we can be.
I'm considering whether to start a PhD or not... I'm doing a research job right now, so I could be doing this while I'm at it. But the problem is that it forces me to be anchored at a given place for 3+ years.
I'm going through a lot of struggles inside... between selfishness and my career+personal goals vs. what I see that I should do for my brothers and sisters. I'm not sure they are opposites, but I'm not sure how they can be reconciled either.
You can keep me in your prayers, that'd be great!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

About to return to India

I'm typing this from the the Montreal Airport. I had 3 hours between my flight from Québec to my flight to Frankfurt.

Its a time to summarize what happened in the last 2 months...

Well, they were long.
I had to deal with absorption process stuff. The whole thing was badly documented, and I spent hours in my archives, pulling out documents, making scans, making copies and asking my parents to do the same. Then there was requesting them.
Then the visa, then the follow-ups to the Consulate of uber-slowness.
Then problems getting the ticket back to Hyderabad.
That took time, annoyed me, but still.
I had time to do plenty of stuff.
And I didn't do that much.
Reverse culture shock, and too much pride to really ask for help. That's what really happened. I felt a bit depressed, essentially like not doing anything. It took me a month to pull out of it. I had to get to Montreal, away from my parents' home, just to get the spiritual and social environment I needed.
I was involved in a few Bible studies, but nothing major on the evangelism front.
Weak quiet times, weak faith, weak prayer life, stress, doubt.
But its all behind me. The page is turning, and will be finished turning when I step foot in Hyderabad.
I had some good times... visited some sights, had food at Schwartz's in Montreal, at the Parlementaire, the Laurie et Raphael and the Cochon Dingue in Québec.
I had two nice farewell parties with disciples and friends and I reconnected with many people I knew.
I'm glad of it. And I'm stopping to criticize myself for not doing the most out of it. I learned my lesson, and I'll do a better job at expressing my needs and making them fulfilled in the future. There's plenty ahead of me, and I'm leaving much behind.
I like the idea of a new start, and that is one coming.
I'm sad of leaving my homeland, unsure if I will ever be there again. I'll miss the colours, the family, the friends, the food.
But I'm excited with what is ahead. Research, (possibly) dating, and lots of teaching, meeting needs, loving people.
So I press on.


Sholay is a classical bollywood movie. Songs, heroes killing the bad guys, da thing!

If you only see one bollywood movie, this might be one you could consider...

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre is a very interesting movie. An Inuit man is brought to Québec for healing tuberulosis. Along the way, we get to learn a lot about Inuit lore and culture, and we see his challenges in adapting to his environment. I really reccomend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now a homemaker, kinda

I've been in Montreal for some time now. I'm being hosted by some brothers and... well... lets just say that they need to be taught cleanliness by example.

Which is what I did. The kitchen is a battlezone, and I won a few bouts here and there. I'm making even full victories against the stack of dirty dishes and pans.

But they fight back very hard!

Enough parables... I had to do a lot of little follow-ups that kept me more or less at home, with little to do otherwise. What a boring lifestyle.
I won't demand my wife to ditch her job to be cleaning and cooking!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Le Confessionnal

Le Confessionnal is another Robert Lepage movie. It won many awards and it deserves them.

Actually, its a bit boring, but the tale is so twisted and the directing is pretty well done that it deserves the attention. There some dirty stuff in there: a gay sauna scene, conversations in a strip club, adultery, stuff like that. It will tell you a few interesting things about 50's Québec though. And it makes me feel like watching some Hitchcock too :)

Un 32 août sur terre

Un 32 août sur terre is a weird story. A model has a car accident, drops her job, and asks an old friend who has a crush on her to make her pregnant. He wants to say yes and no... so he says yes but it must happen in the desert.

Being the crazy girl she is, she books a flight to Salt Lake City the same day and the story continues.

It tells you a lot about Québec society that this movie was made... The guy lives with his girlfriend, but they've been together for 4 months only, complicated men-women relationship, the desire to have children at all costs, impulsiveness.
Warning: although nothing really happens in the movie, its not brother-friendly either.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Adopting a Country - Embracing Canada

Radio Canada International has made this interesting series about moving from Canada to India. I'm very much behind, but it looks very interesting.

En français
In English

Friday, September 26, 2008


Nuremberg has a few Québec actors in it, and its a good tale of everything about the trial of the century, with some learning about WW2 war crimes.

It lasts 3 hours, and if you like courtroom drama, then you'll have your fill.

La face cachée de la lune

La face cachée de la lune is a Robert Lepage movie. Do I really need to say anything else?

No action scenes, the whole movie is based on two roles played by Lepage himself. Its an enjoyable movie, and you'll learn nice things about the Russian space program. But it is... well... kind of purposeless. I didn't feel anything prompting to action or reflection.
Weaved in this, there is a commentary about our culture that has some value.

On the plus side, the acting and directing is great, and the scene changes are superbly done. There is no real stop in the movie in that sense.

I relate a bit with the main character. He's an intellectual who's getting pressure to ditch his (unwelcomed) theory, and to go for a more materialistic lifestyle. But he sees that as wrong and pointless. There is an interesting scene with a bit of a debate on the nature of the space program: narcissism or self-discovery?
I personally think that you have a mix of pride and of inherent curiosity in there :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dépouillement - Dispossession

I am loosing or about to loose a lot of "me", or symbols.

All my furniture was packed and brougth back to my parent's home. They'll sell it. If they can't, they'll donate it away. I won't have much left back in my home land.

I lost my engineer's ring. I slaved 5 years for that. They don't have me in their database, and the certificate should be in India.

I have to return my medicare card before leaving to India. I was so proud of that... that little card that could just give me all the health coverage that I needed. My Indian colleagues were almost jealous

Things are a bit emotional for me. I feel that I have lost a lot of links to my motherland.
I was born there, I lived there, I studied there, and I'm not going to be seen as being from there.
Neither Québécois, nor Indian. Somewhere along the cracks...
I might never live again in Québec, although I certainly hope so.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Some Great Québec Art

The federal government decided to cut on the cultural subsidies, and that means hitting Québec culture directly. The artists are fighting back:

Also, for your enjoyment, something that Mes Aieux displayed at Céline Dion's show in Québec:

Monday, September 8, 2008

What I've been up to

Ok, so long time since I updated this blog..

1) Spent time with my family
2) Went to Toronto
3) Went to Montreal
4) Went back in Québec City for a few days

And here are some eye candy pictures of the best part of the world

I had some vacation moments with my family in my native area, Québec. I had the chance to do a few bicycle rides here and there.
Early August was pretty cold around here, with the temperature barely reaching 20 degrees centigrade. I saw a few movies, Bollywood or otherwise, had great food, listened to their stories, etc. It was neat.
The temperature got warmer when I reached Montréal, but then it was in the 30+ range... added to the fact that I was sleeping in a flat with bad circulation, and I was cooking.
I went to Toronto because a sister was having her farewell party before going back to Hong Kong. She's a good friend of mine for many years, so I really had to go. It was fun to spend some time with old friend there.
In Montreal, I took care of plenty of paperwork and tried to evangelize a bit. Going to India is paiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinful.
Finally, I was back to Québec with my family again. I love them, but its not great for me spiritually. Lots of boredom, far from disciples... I decided that I had to go back to Montreal

More Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa

Yay, that state is not that far from where I'll go :(

Patil assures all help for riot-hit Orissa

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Updated With Some Pictures

Please notice that two entries were updated with pictures. Sorry for being so late!

About Agra and New Delhi
Visit to Ahmedabad

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pictures of my Last Neighbourhood in Mumbai

You'll see what the area looked like, and what the way to work was looking like :)


Taare Zameen Par

That means "stars on Earth", and its about a dyslexic child's troubles, and his teacher helping him overcome learning challenges. Its another Aamir Khan movie, and it won a few awards. It is worth watching.

Watch the trailer.


Another Bachchan movie, Black deserves praise for being entirely story-driven. There is a tiny bit of romance thrown in for good measure (its a Hindi film after all), but its generally free of stupidity.
The acting is generally good, although overdone on some stuff... the way that Bachchan looks crazy schizophrenic when he has Alzheimer's is just one example. I liked that it gave me a window in the world of a blind and deaf person, and showing how determination can overcome even serious handicaps.

Here is the trailer.


I love that one song in that movie. Otherwise, its a pain to watch. Plot holes the size of houses and lame romance are enough to kill this thing.

Here is Dil na diya, with French subtitles

Jab We Met

Jab We Met is a hit movie of 2007. The song director did a great job on that one, and I have to say that I'm addicted to two songs. Too bad they got indecent on the last one though.

There was some character development, and the whole story was entertaining.

First favorite song: beat the drum!

Second favorite song: this love reminds of heaven

Cheeni Kum

Cheeni Kum means less sugar in Hindi. Its an enjoyable love movie because it actually makes a little bit of sense that they fall in love with each other. After countless Bollywood movies when you don't understand why they shouldn't call them "lust movies" instead, that's kind of priceless.

Enjoy the official trailer. It doesn't have too much in the way of songs, too, so that's a good thing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum

Another movie I saw a while back. I was excited when I saw the lineup of famous actors...
Yet, what a bad love movie. Seriously. No plot, overly done acting, too much songs. I can't count the number of times I said "not another song!"...

Here is a video. Warning: idolatry ahead


To inaugurate the "movies" part of my blog, I'm starting with one which main song stuck in my head for a while now.

I saw this movie in Mumbai and I have to say that its the best hybrid between a love movie and a smart movie I saw in Bollywood. I like the morality side of the story, and the plot is somewhat decent.

Alas, too many songs. If it were an hour shorter, I would love it!!!

Here is the song stuck in my head, with French subtitles

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back in Québec City

Home sweet home.

As promised, I kissed the ground when I finally reached my destination.
It was kind of weird to do the trip Montreal to Quebec City using an airplane with blades instead of jet engines... simply because I never used that technology in a year in a developing country!

My sleep is getting somewhat regularized. I've been doing a few things here and there with my family and my disciples.
I'll try to upload many pictures soonish, of both India and Quebec.

Since we have lots of stuff going on for the 400th birthday of the city, I got a picture taken with a 'coureur des bois' look:
Chevalier de l'Ordre de la raquette - Knight of the Order of the Snow Shoe
Just for the sake of context... some of my Indian friends might be offended at seeing so much animal fur. Just so that you know, animal fur was pretty much the only thing that was warm enough to allow anyone to survive in winter. The native peoples weren't killing for fun, only for survival. The Europeans did otherwise, and killed a lot of animals for the fur trade. The furs' main use was to make felt hats in Paris... which is not what you see in this picture!
Please notice the sash (ceinture fléchée) as well, one of the proud symbols of the habitant.
The thing I had in my hand is a snow shoe. It is used to avoid sinking in the snow too much. Made from wood and animal tendons, it was another case of survival necessity. Now, you can buy high-tech ones made with aluminum and plastic membranes for sports.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Missing the Great Things of Québec

The last days' events have made me missing my home sweet home, the best part of the world, namely Québec.

Terrorist blasts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore: great safety we have in Québec
Hospitals, medicines, my wallet emptying at a dizzying rate: medicare
Cycle-rickshaws: our overall high level of living, our good public transit infrastructure in major cities.
Doing anything with disciples: the easy-going, associative and egalitarian culture of Québec
Forgetting my Bible in Hyderabad: the fact that every hotel has one in every room
Taxi-wallas: that people are generally more honest
Overfull Buses: the under-population that gives us plenty of space
Guesthouse employees sleeping on a cot in the living room: minimum wage
Crawling slow Internet: cheap broadband that goes beyond 1mbps
Internet that just stops: high reliability of the telecommunications infrastructure.

4 more days 'til I'm home. Just 4 days. I can tell you, I'm kissing the ground when I reach there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bahut Yatra

Bahut = lots
Yatra = travel

That's why I didn't update the blog... I've been Internet-deprived for too long, with too tight schedule to really go to a cyber-cafe.

I went to Delhi and Agra, then to Hyderabad, and now I'm in Kolkata for some work. I'm helping another team who's dealing with a technology I'm roughly familiar with.

Edited to add:
You can see the pictures of Delhi and Agra here:
Delhi + Agra

I'm sick, I have no energy, and I'm not enjoying this last part of my stay in India.
I spent 3 hours in an hospital today to be told to come back the next day for a blood test. With no feed in between. X-Rays to be ready the next day. Oh, and I have to find a way to see this doctor again.

Grrrrrrr. I miss Hiranandani Hospital.

I'll put photos online the moment I get my laptop on the internet. That's probably in early August...

Otherwise, things are interesting. The TCS Guesthouse is fantastic, as usual. Too bad I don't have a computer to browse the web with. The way to get there is using a cycle-rickshaw, which is one of the least comfortable transportation you can find, and one of the most useless ones as well, as the speed isn't very amazing. I wish I had anything else to say about Kolkata...

I'm flying to Quebec City on the 2nd and I'm looking forward to it, especially in my current situation.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Final Day in my Project

Lately has been a lot of work... many unexpected delays in producing the release, training the new guy, more delays, more stuff to do on the release, you get the point.

Today I uploaded the last release on the client's servers. It is done. My baby. 7 months of work. Considering I've been in this account for 9 months, then its pretty much a full pregnancy here!

Anxiety, stress, laughs, joys, you name it.
I feel like crying. I don't know why. I should be just happy to have this done and move on, but its something else happening. I don't understand. That's the beauty of emotions.

As a sidenote, I had a good time with many friends last weekend, cooked plenty, etc.
I have to say, a curry-maple chicken with maple fruit salad is the killer!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

9 NIV Translation Issues

I have stumbled on a nice gem on Douglas Jacoby's website...
NIV errors show 9 problems with NIV translations, and how they can be misread and misinterpreted.
Let everyone beware!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bonne Fète Québec!!!

Québec is now 400 years old! I'm feeling so much pride and joy. Homesickness is a much more powerful disease than I previously expected!!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Visit to Ahmedabad

I went this weekend to Ahmedabad, the main city in the state of Gujarat.

Edited to add link to pictures

It is a big modern city that is quite cheap compared to Mumbai. M.K. Gandhi lived there for a good part of his life, in an ashram where he was training people for civil disobedience (that's an oversimplification, but it'll have to do).
We saw the Sun Temple, in Modhera, and it was pretty impressive. I'll post the pictures whenever I get connected to the 'net again.
We visited some sights in and out of the city. I had a good time with a brother from the church. He invited me over for dinner, and I played with his daughter while him and his wife were preparing dinner. I was able to more or less understand her, thanks to my 'super' Hindi skills. She was very eager to show me her toys, saying all the time "dekho, uncle, dekho" (which means "look, look" in a more or less respectful way).
It was disappointing in some ways, because I wasn't more with disciples, and because the group I was with was not as 'go-go-go' on the traveling than I am. Still, I'm glad I went.
There are some pictures I took that I'm putting online:
Ahmedabad Trip

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The OpenMoko Cellphone is Out

This is pretty neat... the world's first open source cellphone is finally released to the public.

The site is suffering from the slashdotting right now, but when that is done, please go to OpenMoko.

Its a 400$ cellphone that has open hardware specifications, an open source software stack, and pretty neat features... Think about it... even wi-fi!
We'll have to wait and see what's the cost going to be like in India. If my offer letter is good, I might, might might have enough money for one. Am I being vain and materialistic?
Maybe... but my main desire is to support that initiative. The Open Source concept is rocking the world for the better but it isn't sheltered from economic realities...
I want to see this thing sold out, and teach a lesson to the industry: give us the phones we users want, not those that the suits at Rogers, Bell, AT&T, etc. want.

Entertainment Weekly's Top 100

I stumbled on Entertainment Weekly's top 100 English Books of the last 25 years. I'll know what to start reading when I'm done with my current stack :D

Wuz Zick

Hi everyone. Sorry for not posting for so long...

Well, I had two good friends with me for many days lately: Dia and Rhea :(
It reached the point I had to take antibiotics. I try to avoid that stuff, but sometimes the option isn't there.

Otherwise, life is OK. The rain mostly stopped, although it came back this week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dryness and Peace-Seeking

It didn't rain today. I mean, not at all. It surprised me. I even got to see the sun!

I have been trying to have a spiritual moment, take a day out of the ordinary, but it didn't really happen as I would've like it to be. There were a lot of errands that I couldn't do yesterday that stood in the way.

I went to Nirvana Park, in Hirandani, and tried to meditate. With the kids and the people walking around, it was less than ideal. And, somehow, sleepyness assaulted me.

So, of this great day, I went to church, prayed some, read my Bible some, worked on a class for HOPE, worked on a message, yet, I'm feeling as if I've wasted it.
There is one hour and a half yet to it, so its not over, and God will make each one of them worth it.
What is the big deal anyway? I need to come to a decision about my future. Shall I stay in India or go back to the most beautiful place in the world (namely, Quebec)?
I looked at it from every perspective, and it looks like staying here would be good for me. But I have old fears tagging along.
What about my health? All that garbage in the street surely won't help me be healthy.
What about happiness? I need deep relationships to feel well, will those happen? Will I have the life balance that I need? Read books, cook some food worth eating? Learn something new? Laugh, dance, watch a game, watch a play, watch a movie with people who matter to me?
What about money? Will I end up super broke because of this decision? I'm paid in Rupees after all!
I feel there is a good likelihood of this to be OK, if not great. But I'd like to have no doubt left in me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monsoon :'(

Monsoon started in Mumbai for a week now.
Some of you may say... 'rain, so what?'

Well, let me put it that way:
Yesterday coming back from a friend's house on my bicycle, I had to cross major flooded areas of Andheri-Kurla Road, the main east-west road in Andheri.
"Normally", the pools of water would be deep enough to wet your shoes and the bottom of your pants if you walk in them, but you'd be spared in your cycle.
No such luck!
Many pools were ~ 30 cm deep, getting my shoes wet. The worst was having my water up to my knees! If I were standing, that'd be mid-tigh.
Oh, and there is trash floating in that water too. I think/hope that no sewage pipe bursted at that point...
That rain is seriously impacting your life. Going anywhere becomes complicated, traffic slows to a crawl, and avoiding the pools of water becomes like walking through a labyrinth... going from point A to point B has never been so twisted.
Yet, many Indians LOVE monsoon. It has something to do with the child-like aspect of running around getting drenched and not caring.
I'll beta test that one at some point and let you know ;)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Hungry Tide

Title: The Hungry Tide
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Publisher: Harper Collins

The Hungry Tide is a tale of the tide country of West Bengal, where islands change shape on a daily basis. Although it is a work of fiction, it is rooted in local tradition, history and marine biology.

I found the reading enjoyable, although I still haven't got the 'love story' part of the book. Seriously, why is anyone falling in love with anyone here? The characters are together for something like a week, and some can't even communicate with each other... The character development seems to be happening via flashbacks of their past, but little about things that happen per se. Its a bit different form of storytelling, but it was enjoyable.

Anyway, I learnt a lot about fresh water dolphins, about West Bengal and the history of that little-known area. It made me feel like visiting that part of India, where the mighty Ganges river meets the ocean.

Read this if you are curious about India, but not if you like good love stories.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Refus Global

I have been anxious lately. Do I stay or do I go back to Québec?

Two things went back to mind.

One is from Jesus (Mt 6:34):
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

and a sentence from the refus global:
Fini l’assassinat massif du présent et du futur à coups redoublés du passé.

End the cascade of blows from the past which annihilates both present and future.

And you can read it in English too, titled Total Refusal.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The XO Laptop into a Hacking Machine

You know what software packages I'll be downloading the next time I put my laptop on the internet...

Turning the OLPC Into a Hacker’s Toolkit - Give One, Get Owned, Part 2

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I moved to yet another "PG" in Andheri. This time, its in Sheer-e-punjab.

(en français, prononcer "chérie pounjab").
Where is that? I'm glad you asked.

View Larger Map
I have water most of the time. The maid comes to wash the clothes most of the time. Its another step down from where I was, but I had my reasons. The first is landlord problems at the first place, the other is that I didn't to live with women (matter of principle, you know me). My other options were too pricey or involved the second factor I just said.
But its all good. I leave very close to many brothers now, so I'm having many morning quiet times with them, and its been doing me well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More on Emotional Intelligence Issues

I found this CBC article interesting and I think I'll find out more about this Dr. Sax.
The basic thing is about how is it that young men seem to be stuck in perpetual adolescence.

Its kind of sad that Goleman documented that stuff 10 years back and that things have only worsed...

Here are the reasons (I quote from the article):

  • Video games. These addictive activities disengage boys from the world. Some young men even seem to prefer online porno to the prospect of sex with another human being.
  • Teaching methods. Girls develop intellectually up to two years ahead of boys. Boys in grade school are naturally rambunctious. They need ways to express their native energy. They are being taught to read and write too early. Their mostly female teachers prefer compliant, dutiful girls.
  • Prescription drugs. Hyperactive, frustrated boys are increasingly being medicated. This we all know. What Sax claims is that these drugs shrink the motivational centres of the brain and that the effect of this lasts years, well after these kids stop taking their meds. I hadn't heard this before but if it's true, it is truly frightening.
  • Endocrine disruptors. Chemicals from plastic bottles, canned food linings and some shampoos mimic natural estrogen, the female hormone. Boys' testosterone levels are half of what they were in their grandfathers' day. Also, their bones are significantly more brittle.
  • The devaluation of masculinity. Boys don't know how to become men. They no longer have appropriate rights of passage. Once Father Knows Best was the paternalistic model but now he has been replaced (and mocked) by a dopey Homer Simpson. Sax likes the old virtues of courage and temperance, with a good measure of intelligence.

I would add to that that there is a lack of mentoring in general, since we live in an individualistic society. This has major impact, since noone is really calling anyone back to reality. Sometimes, you really need a 'shut up and back back to Earth' talk, but do you have anyone to give it to you?
I'm so glad that, as a disciple, I had the help of brothers and of the Holy Spirit to make a man out of me. There is still A LOT to be done, but the transformation is radical already, and its only going to get better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trip to Aurangabad

Visit of Ajenta and Ellora caves

What an interesting yet challenging trip!

Aurangabad used to be an important city in Maharashtra. Its current named was in honour of a ruler that made it was it is.

I had the chance to visit the Ajenta caves, Ellora caves, the 'Taj of the Deccan'. I also had a fantastic Marathi Thali with one of my friends.

However, the transportation nearly destroyed the joy of travel.

Bus on Friday, from Andheri to Aurangabad. I arrived more than one hour late, and it could have been critical enough to make us miss our bus to Ajenta. I travelled with one of my friends, who took a better bus.
Thus, on Saturday, we had a quick hotel check-in, breakfast, then arrival in Ajenta. We spent a few hours with a tour guide from India Tourism. My travel partner and myself did some hardcore negocitating, and ended up leaving with a few souvenirs paid at a reasonable rate.
In the evening, Marathi Thali at one of my friend's house. Hmm... mango pulp, done with the mangoes growing in their backyard! And the mango chatney. And spicy lady fingers.
And to crown it all, some pure Aurangabadi pan. It is said to help digestion, and it is true. I was an amazing meal. Fantastic.
On Sunday, we packed early to check out (to avoid paying a second day) and walked to church. The service was 90% marathi, and it was painful. Seriously. Very very much so. Yet, their love was apparent. They gave us flowers, welcomed us with big hugs, and the brothers did their best to speak to us in the bit of English they knew. It wasn't great, not was it very edifying(a hot hall for 2 hours in an unknown tongue, with the passage references given to you in English only), but it was obvious that I was still in the Kingdom of God, and I wish I had the courage to invide my friend's family for translation. I'm sure that many of these guys have inspiring stories to tell.
At 12:30, our AC taxi picked us up, and the tour guide brought us to Ellora. He was very knowledgeable, spoke flawless English, and just made you enjoy your time there. The caves' sculpting was amazing, and the major Hindu cave was breathtaking. We are talking about a huge temple, finely ornamented, chiseled in one crazy huge chunck of rock! No joints, no mortar, nothing. Just rock.
In the evening, we saw the Taj of the Deccan and then visited a saree shop, where they hand-make sarees. Some will take at least one month to be realized. Wow!
Food at the MTDC hotel, and then wait at the train station. Our midnight train arrived past 2AM, and I slept on the platform (not a bench, the platform itself) while my partner was chatting with people and watching the luggage. Once in the train, the problems got worst. For some reason, many people had reservation for the same seat... My name wasn't on the conductor's list, neither was the name of the guy occupying my seat (actually, bed). There were people on the floor everywhere, stacked as they could. I opted to sleep on the floor too, with no blanket, having my luggage as pillow. If I moved my head a bit, I would wake up a kid sleeping nearby. Sometimes, a hand would end up on my rear end (I would've freaked out being a girl in this setting), but I did sleep up to 6AM or so. My travelling partner was no so lucky. He was stuck with no space surrounded with people talking and couldn't find anywhere to lay down before dawn. We arrived in Mumbai in the middle of rush hour, just to make things better.
I don't know how Indian Railways managed to mess up the booking for this train so badly, but they did. Now, I just have to find out how to complain to the ombudsperson (or similar office) and get a ticket and an apology.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

India is Not a Safe Place

And I was thinking of booking my tickets for a trip in North India very soon...

But, then, there are skirmishes between the Indian Army (technically, the BSF, but you get the point) and 'militants' (some rumours of Pakistani Rangers are there...) near Jammu... so here goes the 'Kashmir' part of the trip.

And then, terrorist blasts in Jaipur... so here goes the 'Rajastan' part of the trip.

Those were two places I really wanted to go :(

Saturday, May 10, 2008

9 Months in India

Its has been precisely 9 months I'm in this place. I'm too tired now to write the retrospect so far, so I'll spare you random thoughts.

I decided to treat myself today.
In the morning, I met the doctor because of my sinusitis. Then, I had my quiet time in Subway (waiting for Mocha to open), and headed to Mocha for my breakfast and some casual reading (never underestimate the power of a good novel!). Then, off to Vile Parle for a massage. And then hanging out with friends in Sagar City. In the evening, I went with some trainees to a goodbye party in Malad, and the DJ was wonderful. Too bad we couldn't dance there :(
I feel glad about this day... I wouldn't do the same every day, but I needed the break from the monotony and the stress.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Khuda Kay Liye

This is the first Pakistani movie to air in India for decades, and it was worth it!

Khuda Kay Liye tells three stories that are related.

In short: insightful, thought-provoking, and NOT propaganda from the West. To purchase when the DVD comes out with subtitles.

One brother decides to re-commit himself to Islam, but ends up with the wrong imam. He drops his music, movies to the tribal areas, forcefully marries a woman, gets dragged into Jihad. A nice guy who wanted none of these things, but didn't have the spine to hold back against them.
The other goes to Chicago to study music, falls in love with an American girl, marries her, but ends up with the wrong Federal Agent after 9/11. He is questioned and beat up to a vegetative state before being deported.

The woman who was forced to marry grew up in London and was in love with a guy there. Her father schemed to get her married with a Muslim guy and make sure she couldn't do anything about it. They held her hand and forced her to put her fingerprint on the marriage certificate. She tried to run away, but her plan was foiled. Her husband was nice at first, but the imam told him to have sex with his wife, not matter what she thought about it. She had a daughter from that union. She managed to smuggle a letter to her boyfriend in London, and her mother came to Pakistan to raise enough trouble for the Army to come and get her.

There is a court hearing, on what is really Islam, a fight between two Imams with radically different visions, and the "good" imam doing a powerful speech full of cross references that make the judges take notes.

There are many things about this movie I like.
In London, there is a guy with real inter-cultural skills who helps the rescuing.
In New York, the Federal Agent has no inter-cultural skills whatsoever... didn't even know or accept that Urdu has the same script as Arabic, but that they don't understand it at all.

The bad imam and the Federal Agent get their goons to beat up both brothers. The scene puts them side by side, doing nothing to stop vicious violence. The message was clear: they are the same.

Overall, I was able to understand the story, even though I barely got a word here and there. The acting needs to be fantastic for that to happen.

Singles' Retreat

Last weekend, we were 60 km away from Lonavla, in way-out-there rural Maharashtra. How much so? The signs and licence plates were all in Marathi. It took a few hours before reaching the closest town and we saw a grand total of 10 (max) factories between said town and our destination, the rest being farmland or villages.

That's something in itself!

Here are pictures and timelines:

Our bus kept on having problems climbing those hills, and the road did not leave you much chance to rest. We got stuck for more than one hour after the bus got a wheel in a ditch. We got stuck in Sion (east of Mumbai) because it ran out of fuel... that was fun.
Somehow, I managed to stay peaceful in all that, a big deal!

The preaches were of some inspiration, and it helped me realize a bit more what was happening inside. I took some decisions and I'm praying about them.

Notably: no double mindedness between "disciple" and "workaholic IT pro" and prayer to be God-reliant.

Since then, I've been trying harder to call my brothers, stay in touch with people, but its still a challenge.

Pictures of My Friend's Wedding

I was in Hyderabad for a friend's wedding. You can see the pictures here:
Suha's Wedding in Hyderabad

Birds Singing Nice Songs in my Electric Box

No comment necessary:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Gap Between Bollywood and the Real India

I was reading Set Apart, and it was talking about the impact of the media on culture and 'norms'. India is an interesting example of the same.

Ex 1) Dress style
There are many dress styles in India, but you'll see a few trends: kurtas for the boys who dress traditionally, trousers and shirts for male office workers. For the ladies, either Western-style office dress, or kameez... sometimes a saree, but that's rare to see a saree at work.

On Fridays, you'll see jeans and t-shirts in the office, no shorts, no skirts above the knee.

In the media, there is a lot of West love going, even as far as having Hindi rap. Of all things! There will be some traditional clothes for sure, but you feel the general direction to be away from there.

Ex 2) Modestry
When I was at the corporate picnic, I found something interesting: nearly noone was wearing a swimsuit at the beach, and only guys were showing any flesh. Girls were dressed as if they were in a park, frankly.

Not so in the Hindi movie arena. The girls are sexy, very sexy, wear short skirts, show a lot of cleavage, show off in bikinis, you name it, its all fair game! The guys have mandatory 'six pack' moments, it sometimes feels.

Ex 3) Music
At that party, I noticed one thing... domination of the Hindi movie songs. The games we played, the songs sang in the bus, it was all bollywood. The movie music directors have more or less hijacked today's Indian culture.

Now, what's happening to the young generation? Go to a college in Mumbai, and you'll see folks that will make you feel as if you're in Montreal. The teens at church could be NRIs attending the Montreal church in many cases.
Many colleagues (a large chunk barely out of college) are a bit 'in between', where they'll be glad to switch to jeans and t-shirt on Friday, but really don't mind dressing more traditionally.
It seems like that, for ever 5 years of age difference, you see less Indian and more Western in a person...

There are a few lessons from this: don't rely on the media's corporate, profit-making arm to show you what real life is all about. Also, what you watch with your kids is likely to be what your kids will become like. The example is powerful in North America, but its crazy and saddening here.

And so, the gap between Bollywood and the Real India is very wide in a way, but very narrow in another, for better and for worse.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What's Been Up

Ok, let me try to summarize this... I didn't get much time to blog lately

1) Work-wise, we finished the dev phase of another sprint, and we are in the testing phase trying to wrap up documentation, fix bug, etc.
2) I did a few things outside of work: I went to a friends' wedding in Hyderabad, and I went to a friend's office picnic, which really took a full day and then some. That added up to 3 nights with little sleep...
3) I'm re-establishing the practice of positive reinforcing every day, on top of my normal prayer habits. I can't give up an inch in my fight with Satan. Its a mind-game, and the moment I start believing that things are horribly sucky, I loose focus and stop relying on God. Its a tough battle and I'm not always successful, but its a work in progress.

Global Famine and Bio-Fuels

Living in India removes a good bit of the North American bubble.

The fact remains that I am "rich", meaning that I'm not struggling for survival, in a country were people are giving up on that. A good reason is the food prices jumping lately, and India has been hit hard.

Here is a good article in French, and how bio-fuels are messing up the global food situation. I'm glad that I switched to mostly-veg a year back (if not more). I did it for health reasons, but what food we eat pretty much becomes a moral decision now.

If you want something along the same lines in English, but with a focus on bio-fuels, the Seattle Times is there for you.

And it is creating a political mess too!

Edited to add: Le Soleil has a great cartoon about this

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fighting Global Warming, One Computer at a Time

I found this little application and you must use it!

Its called LocalCooling and it enables a somewhat decent power saving scheme. You can do the same with the Configuration Panel or Dell Quickset, etc.

But where it does differently is that it tells you how much electricity you are sucking up by using your computer and keeps statistics on how much power you're saving using it. It is an eye opener, and it has a feel-good side to it.

Oh, and it doesn't annoy me like QuickSet does...

So, please install this on your machine and save saving electricty, money, and emissions!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff is a documentary about what's not working with the industrial system and its impact on human lives and the environment.

This one is well-worth the watch. Its a good view on the problems with the current consumerism system, and how its just not fitting with the way the world works.

Of course, the spiritual components of it are not included, but nevertheless, it is thought-provoking and I hope it helps all of us lower our impact on the planet.

Mr. Deity

Interesting little thing, Mr. Deity.

I just saw episode 1, and I think I'll watch the rest. It is a fascinating display of misunderstanding of God by the World. For instance, episode 1 is the problem of evil, but sicknesses and natural disaster are in the list, although those are morally neutral. Germs causing you to have a cold are not evil, they just happen. Cancer cells are destructive, but they are not evil, they just happen. Tsunamis happen too, but water is not a sentient and moral being, so it cannot be evil.

Holocausts did happen, and you could argue that they are happening still these days. Those were done by humans, and the humans who did it, you can be sure, have sinned. Maybe some will have repented afterwards, but you can be safe to think that a lot of them will enjoy a prolongated "vacation" at a resort that will make North Indian summer look cold.

Praised be God, the Everlasting One, Righteous Judge and Benevolent Creator.

One thing that I like about Mr. Deity is that it might get some people to be thinking again about God.
My concern is that some people's very weak faith will be shaken by that. But I don't mind too too much... maybe that will result in less churchians. And that would be a good thing.

I have to say, Celine Dion on the list of evils is not something I disagree with ;)

P.P.S. Maybe I'll do a series of messages on those themes

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One day without water

On Thursday, while taking my shower, the water ran out.
It only happened twice in 6 months, but still, annoying.
That's life in India... and we are pretty spared in Mumbai.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Holi

Holi, the festival of colours. Yet another opportunity of Indian kids to go crazy...

People will do the same kind of things as we do with water baloons, but with paint inside. Shops will be closed during the day, etc. Its really special.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Trip to Kerala

Update: the photos are now online

This weekend I was in Kerala.

I was flown in by the company to give a training session in Trivandrum, and I got to stay there during the weekend.

On Friday, after the training, I watched Dhamaal, a Hindi comedy movie with the folks there. I went to bed at midnight, and woke up at 3 AM to go to Kanyakumari, India's southernmost point. This is where the waters of 3 oceans are mixing. Some Hindus worship this natural phenomena.
We arrived at 5AM and took a spot, waiting for the sun to rise. It took a bit of time, but that was OK. It was great.

After that, I went to town and saw a few sights and joined the brothers there. We went to a museum in the north of the city, and the garden there was great. I didn't expect such a nice garden, seriously. In the museum, they have beautiful ivory carvings that are worth the detour! In the evening, I did a short devo for the single brothers. The evangelist asked me to preach on Sunday morning, and it was time to get back to our guesthouse.

Sunday was church, then airplane. I reached back Mumbai and watched a movie with my flatmate. It was an older south Indian movie, with gaping plot holes the size of an Elephant... a true Indian movie ;)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Serving Trip to Andhra Pradesh

Wow... that was one intense week. I'm having a glimpse of what the ministry would look like.

I travelled from Mumbai to Hyderabad, and from Hyderabad to Vishakapatnam, then back, then finally attended a wedding reception in Sircilla, Nizamabad district.

I was there representing the Montreal church and trying to encourage the disciples there as much as I could. The trip was so edifying for me too!

UPDATE: I added some of the pictures

Monday evening, big stress... I'm leaving work with things barely fixed to let the testers have fun with my work, and I'm rushing to the train. Thank God, almost no traffic. I take the train, and get a nice surprise: I was upgraded from 3AC to 2AC. Worth about 400 or 500 rupees more, for free :D
I arrived the next day, in the afternoon, in Secuderabad. A brother picked me there and we went to my host's place. In the same building, we have a) the church office, b) the evangelist' flat and c) his parents' flat. That evening, I join the singles inviting folks in the street to come to Saturday's programme.
Wednesday, I'm taking a plane to Visag and the brothers welcome me there. We go to a guesthouse by the beach. The view is amazing, the bed huge, and there is AC. I was liking my trip! We visited the city a bit, and I interviewed the leader of that church, with the help of his niece who translated for us, since he only speaks Telugu. In the evening, I preached on sanctification and after we went have a walk on the beach. One of the girls studying the Bible in the group was making advances at me, but I did not take advantage of her. You can't preach that you're a saint and then get cozy with girls the same evening (or week, or year for that matter)... Satan was trying to distract me from my mission. I spent more time with brothers then, and it was time for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The hot sun of AP was just too much for me.
On Thursday, it was time for some tourism. I had a great time with a brother who took me around, made me meet another brother for interview, and then we visited one of the touristic areas on the city. There was a 'shrine of all religions' there and it was disapointing to see a man worshipping the image of some guy. Finally, I took the train around 5PM.
The church there is small, about 20 disciples. Their signing is very powerful though. The city is full of people who either never left it, and are likely not to speak any language than Telugu, or Navy people who'll all have a fair share of education. Its an interesting mix.
Back in Hyderabad on Friday morning, it was a "meet poverty day". I got to visit the HOPE English Middle School, which covers kindergarden to 4th grade. All is provided by HOPE, thanks to funding by CA. By all, I mean it: breakfast, lunch, pencils, books, school uniform. The kids who attend live in the nearby slums and would not have any education otherwise. They dream of jobs as doctors, engineers, etc. Without a good education, they would maybe "dream" of jobs like housewife, rickshawallah, etc. In the pure HOPE tradition, they don't care about the religious background, only about need. They have many challenges ahead, since getting state certification is difficult without bribing. A massive increase in funding would help getting things at a level allowing the certification, and that's pretty much the only option.
Then, I saw the computer centres. They serve two batches. Mornings are for housewives, graduates, industrial workers. Afternoons are for school children of public school. In India, there is a simple rule: if you go to public school, your education sucks and you'll have trouble getting a job. If you go to a private school, you get a major head start. I was surprised to see that many housewives are signing up for the computer classes, as they want to learn how to use the computer that they have in the house. In the evening, we had a devo for the Nanpali house church and the response to the message I preached was great! Some started confessing their sins, etc. Its a bit surprising and hard to deal with a sister confessing challenges in purity, but I guess I better get used to it, since God has given me the vision of doing more of the same.
After that, I spent some time with brothers in a poor area. I felt twisted inside. So many emotions... anger at the fact that a church will tolerate an illiterate preacher in the 21st century, sadness about the love of traditions of the people over the idea of a genuine faith, anger at a government that won't bother educating its people, gladness for all the blessings I have received, joy of knowing that brothers will have great impact there, sadness at the fate of people who are so down on luck that dreaming is a rare luxury, pain feeling their painful living... that was A LOT for me to handle. Truth be told, I did not took the time to handle it. I kind of pushed it aside. I know I'll have to revisit this place, at least in memory.
On Saturday I first went to Golconda Fort, once the home of the Nizam of Hyderabad. I spent more than a bit of time preparing for the lecture in the evening. It was a modified version of "La Bouffonerie Chrétienne", which I did with Telugu translation this time around. I visited the "matchmakers" of the church, the couple who do the arranged marriages. Hard idea at first glance, it is really wise and healthy in the way done by the church. Essentially, boys and girls don't mix too much in South Indian culture. The matchmakers get a "matched" couple over for diner and get them to do some "extra fellowship". After some "dates", they'll decide to get married or not. Maximum dating period: 6 months. In short, they decide to get married the moment Westerners decide to start dating.
Sunday was the first time I did a full Sunday message. The topic was "Brotherhood without boundaries". The disciples were challenged in the right way. There was a brother who recorded parts of the message and some KKC (kid's class). I was surprised to find out that the children had their Sunday program in the open. I did some more interviews with disciples, and was amazed at how crazy hard conversion can be here. Some of them got beat up pretty bad by their families, and yet they forgave them and are helping them.
In the evening, I went to Charminar market with the evangelist's mother. What a crazy place! Its jewelry central!!! There is one street with only shops selling bangles. Only bangles! And so many pearl merchants too, and some folks selling fine clothing, like wedding kurtas worth 6000+ rupees! And we shopped some pearls... I didn't want such a gift, but they really insisted on giving me something like that.
Even now, I don't realize it. Who am I to get fancy gifts like that?
Politicians, businessmen, IOC officials... these guys get gifts all the time. I'm not one of those. I'm not even leading any congregation. I'm just doing my best to encourage people. I don't know how to deal with recognition of any kind. I don't like people clapping their hands and cheering at the end of a message I do. I don't know what to say when I am told that my message was great and inspiring. I feel I don't deserve gifts like those I got. Am I suffering for some variant of the survivor's guilt? Do I need to understand more dimensions to Grace? I'm afraid that the answer to the last one is yes...
But, I still have to write to you about my trip to Nizamabad district...
On Monday, I leave pretty early to take a bus to Sircilla, Nizamabad district, Andhra Pradesh. The heartland of the Andhras, pure Telugu-land. Am I kidding? No, their local MP is of the "Telugu Nation" party... I went with a brother. At first I didn't think that I would need any help, and was fighting Raghu about this. I soon understood the wisdom. No English, no Hindi, only Telugu. And no, there is nothing in common between the last two.
It was different... the land looked dried up. I wonder what it'll look like at the end of summer. There were boars roaming around the streets, and it was small-town like setting. Only that a small town around here is 100 000 people! It is a textile manufacturer's city. Both our flatmates have fathers in the textile business. One was very proud of the new machine he just imported from China.
We were very warmly welcomed. For some people, my flatmate and myself will be the only foreigners they'll ever see in their life. The "we" onwards will include that brother, me, and my Colombian flatmate.
We joined the house of the newlyweds in the afternoon, after pooja. The moment we got in the house, we were asked to "go pray to god". In other words "please go commit idolatry".
After a long silence, I said no. The brother said no. More incomfort... my flatmate went, put the spot on his forehead (its called a Tilak), worshipped the idol, ate the prasad, etc.
After, we were introduced to the father and his friends. It was weird... they introduced themselves by their jobs. "Caste association secretary", "diamond trader", "college professor"...
We ate some very spicy Andhra food. Andhra is the spiciest in India. The guys who ate before us found it spicy... I was afraid that I'd end up crying because of the spice. Surprisingly, not at all. They were all surprised that a foreigner would eat on the floor, with leaves as a plate, and eat their food without flinching.
At this rate, I'll get an Indian passport before I leave... ;)
After that, it was time to sacrifice goats to get some goddess' blessing. It was the first time I saw an animal worshiped and then sacrificed. And it wasn't the nice and calm kosher-style of killing. No, more like decapitation. They put the blood on some factory equipment, for blessing's sake... My colleagues in Mumbai were surprised that people in India still did that stuff.
In the evening, I wore my ceinture fléchée and went to the reception. Men on one side, women on the other. Not just the singles, even the marrieds. The couple would come together, and then split. South India is more conservative, and rural south India is VERY conservative. And the poor married stood for 3+ hours, while people would throw them some rice on the face (a blessing) and take pictures. I did bless them, more Christian style. The food was good... we had the sacrificed goats for dinner. There was some dance, but the women wouldn't dance. We managed to convince some teenage girls to join us for dancing. They asked permission to their mothers and joined us for 2 minutes. It would've been easier to apply for a security clearance.
And the next day was traveling... bus to Hyderabad, bus to Mumbai.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Hebrews 3:12-13
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

I realized this week that I was turning worldly. Most friends in the World still see me as a profoundly "good person", but a disciple knows what kind of sensors to equip his control system with...

Why do I think that? There are a couple factors:
- shorter quiet times, skipped quiet times in the morning that are "caught up" later in the day
- slow to open up and confess sins
- a lot of thought on money, work, getting married
- living for work
- poor relationships with brothers and sisters
- little evangelism (if you know me, you know that apologetics is almost my middle name...)
- short temper
- lower discipline in personal life and work
- feeling that my life is a burden
- lots of emotional instability
I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and couldn't help to notice that I wasn't thirsty and hungry for righteousness at that moment. That was the wake-up point.
Matthew 6:31-34
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
In other words:
Don't live for your job, don't think so much on how better your life would be in Canada, and don't despair because you're not getting married, because its spiritually ignorant people who focus on such things. God has a plan for you, just trust Him. Start repenting, trusting Him and living for Him, and you'll see it unfold. Now, stop dreaming about how better tomorrow could be, and do the most out of today you can.
I remember rebuking brothers for the same kind of stuff. Yet I end up in the same spot. God is gracious and we'll get out of this mess together. I need to surrender, especially on marriage. I did commit not to seek it actively during my time in India, and God made sure that I would stick to that, whether I liked it or not. 6 months down the road, I'm not liking it. Who said that maturity came easily?
The good part is that I did wake up at some point.
I know, deep down, that this is another challenge of surrender, and that I'll be pruned and more able to help my fellow brothers. And more humble too, which is still not natural to me.
Praying for me is a good idea, hint hint :)

Things Have Cooled Down

So, on the day they arrested the guy, there was some violence in Dadar, Vikhroli,etc.

The closest I heard of was Sheer'e Punjab, not far from work. Mid-week was cancelled.
But nothing in my precise area. You had a few worried coworkers. One had to miss an important business call just to call and check up on all her family... gives you an idea.

And the guy was released on bail... which means the whole thing will repeat itself in a month or so. Fun fun fun.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mob Violence Against Christians in Orissa

"Ton cadeau de Noël, c'est une claque sur la gueule!"
That's what I said to a brother describing what happened...

As far as I understand, it is mostly Catholics who were victims, but don't quote me on that.

Its old news, but I thought I should share.

1 dies, 24 injured in communal clashes in Orissa

Fear of Mob Violence in Maharashtra

Centre rushes more forces to Maharashtra
This crazy politician has been spreading hatred towards north Indians (and I've been told foreigners too). There are reports of his arrest, but its not confirmed. Everybody is afraid of what happens either way...
I had folks at the office telling us to go home early and not leave, coworkers leaving early, afraid to be stuck in that mess.

I asked colleagues, and they told me that they have 'riot season' when elections come... good thing that they're not coming until next year.

Its sad that India hasn't graduated from mob violence yet. You'll see news report of that every now and then...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Indian Cooking

Just letting you know... this week, I managed to buy veggies from the street shops. In Hindi, of course!

Then, I proceeded to cook my own Palak Paneer and Sabudana Khichedi. It was too spicy (I put too much chillies in it), but it still had the sweet taste of victory!

Weekend in Lonavla

There is a resorty town called Lonavla/Lonavala/Lonawala/Lonawla etc. that is somewhere between Mumbai and Pune. It is the home of an important Tata Power hydro dam and I got the chance to spend the weekend there.

The train from Mumbai passes there a few times a day, and I arrived early Saturday morning with some brothers and sisters of my area. Here is a Google Map link to what I think is Lonavla
We were 15, with almost half kids! That was eventful in itself!
Otherwise, we did very little (which was the point). We visited the dam, and one of the sisters managed to get us a VIP access to the garden. And what a big garden that was!!!
It served no business purpose whatsoever, but the Tata family believe in nature and greenery, so they keep huge gardens next to hydro dams just for the pleasure of it. They open it to the public, so everyone wins!
We had problems coming back. The folks at the bus stand told us we had a 12:30 bus that was starting from here, but it was coming from Hyderabad, and nearly all the seats were taken. The group got split in 2, with some who hired a taxi (a costly affair) and some of us to ended up taking the "Volvo Bus", which means a real long-distance bus that you're used to.
I wish I could give you nice photos of the majestic landscape, but my camera is dying on me. I need to find a repair centre. It was a good prayer time in the morning :D


Last week, I had the chance of seeing a performance of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai.

I came in late with my friends, since there was so much traffic between Bandra and there (some political agitation at Shivaji Nagar in Dadar... a few guys got killed, apparently). But we came in just in time to see a piece of JS Bach, BWV 1043. The piece was good and very well played by the orchestra. I was delighted. There were other works, but I don't have a copy of the programme, which means that I can't tell what was played. But it was very good.
Afterwards, there was some food offered outside and I had the chance to eat sushi! It has been such a long time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I met an interesting guy, who invited me to visit his personal art collection somewhere in Nariman Point.
Hint: if you can afford to have your house there, there is a good chance you can afford your own art collection ;)
I'll try to get a CD of that orchestra. Details to follow.
It did me a ton of good spiritually, since music really connects me to God powerfully. I felt serenaded. There's just no other way to put it. I wish more people could experience that.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Catching-Up on the News

Ok... ok... I'm a bad blogger...

So, the updates are
a) Got a worst sinusitis than I'd like to have
b) Good progress at work
c) Gave messages again
d) emotional mess
e) landlord

Lets get going
a) I went to Hiranandani Hospital to see a specialist. She gave some some medicine and inhalations to do for a week and then come back. My wallet got lighter by ~ 1000 rupees that day. I love going to Hiranandani. My wallet never does!
P.S. That's where I do most of my shopping... it has a lot of stuff and its easy to get there. Malad has better shopping malls, but it takes more dedication to get there.
b) I had a few very productive days at work. We had some communication with the architect on the client side and hammered down a very strong proposal. I had to trash a couple days' work in the process, but that's part of life in software development. In the future, I'll make sure to tackle this more directly. I'm having more contacts with the client, but I'm suffering from demo curse... no demo works when I have to demo anything :'(
c) Gave a message at midweek and at the single's devo yesterday (sat evening). The fellowship is uninspiring sometimes. I have some relationships that are growing, and I'm thankful for that, but its takes convictions to persevere in an environment where I don't fit in (in many ways).
d) There has been some emotional stuff going on recently. Its complicated mess that just shows that I need to get more mature and wiser. So, there is a sister who just grabs my eye. If you know me, you know that there is nothing special about that... I talk with a brother about it, and he suggests having a date with her. Which is a big deal here. I ask for some advice, and one of the brothers decides to ask her what are her plans. But he miscommunicates and he tells me that he asked her if she is interested in me! Obviously, I've had no choice but to freak out on that one! Many "what ifs" are going in my mind, and I'm just hoping for the simple answer: a "no". In the end, I get the news that the whole thing remains anonymous, and that she's not looking to get in a relationship for now. That's a relief!
Overall, the whole thing has highlighted my frustration at being single and not seeing things changing. Why not changing? Well, one is that you can't really have a conversation with sisters. Another is that one conversation with one of the leaders is that I just won't find the woman I'm praying for in this country, or at least not in this city.
I haven't grown to be satisfied with God. So I end up feeling some hopelessness, and that in turns brings some temptations. As a foreigner in India, it wouldn't be so hard to get a girlfriend in the worldly way. Or to get an arranged marriage done quick: "Canadian IT worker, Masters' degree holder, will be in India for a few months and seeks marriage with a smart, joyful, lighthearted, life-loving and good-looking woman. Skin fairness irrelevant. Please send biodata, picture, and 100 words description fo yourself at" That'd get me a hundred emails.
I'm holding on that God will bring me (to?) a wife who will support the teaching ministry that He has entrusted me, and that its going to be orders of magnitude greater than just marrying the first pretty woman I can find. In the meantime, I have to endure having one marshmallow on the table, with a promise to have two later. For the record, I've been good at not waiting for the second. Keep me in your prayers.
I'm praying for His direction on where to go next... stay in India? In Mumbai? Go to Montreal? Somewhere else in the world? Columbia maybe?
Keep on working? Do a PhD?
I don't know... I don't care so much. Its all going to be the same anyway. Coding in Mumbai, Montreal, Berlin or Abidjan won't be so different...
e) My landlord has a low level of integrity. Rent increase and a few other things make me uneasy. I'm looking for another place. I feel like removing the Jesus stuff in the house, since he's really not a Christian. I'm struggling with vengefulness.
Please pray about all that stuff...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hospital Shopping

I love Québec...

My corporate doctor told me to get a CT scan for my sinusity joys. That's not cheap... I never thought I would actually shop around for that.

Anyways. I'f I'm stuck having to go to Hiranandani, I'll ask for a second opinion there.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teaching Ministry is Back To Life

Here are some quick notes about what is happening in my life
- Preached at the house church on Sunday
- I was invited to have a short message at the singles' meeting in early February

I am now weaving some commentary reading with my everyday Bible study in order to deepen my understanding. I'm in Matthew now.
I haven't deepened my study of santification for a few weeks now. Yikes! I need to fix that!!!

I'm not in top shae though, neither physically or spiritually. I know I need a stronger prayer life. I'm in a vicious circle: low sleep, trimming of quiet times because I try to get some more sleep in, bad prayer because being sleepy... I'm grumpy too, and so on.
And I'm working a lot, and being a bit anxious wrt a situation in the fellowship that is not turning the way I was hoping.
God is faithful... I'm able to work smartly enough, a miracle in itself.
Things will get better... its just taking time to happen. All things work for the good of those who love God.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Student Prostitution

Its data from France, but very interesting... about 40000 students engaging in prostitution to fund their studies... wow!

Moi, Laura D., étudiante et prostituée

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Work: First Week of the Sprint

First week of the sprint, yay for stress!

I've been allocated as pretty much the only resource for a module. Not what I wanted really, but I get to design the whole thing. The problem is that the customer has some fancy ideas that I'm trying to cool down.

I am getting help from colleagues to be better organized and reporting better to my boss and so on.

The pressure is on... and I'm not doing too well with the stress right now. I need more prayer. And to take appointments with the brothers to keep the bonds strong.

Mumbai's Leaders' Retreat

So, this weekend, I was in Goregaon for the leaders' retreat. The Mighty Men and Mighty Women group were invited too.

The preach was inspiring, and I had the great time there.
Surprisingly, I won prizes for my Biblical knowledge. Let me tell you more

Saturday, 5:30 AM: wake up, shower, cycle to that brother's house, and take a Rickshaw to Goregaon. Arrive at 7:00 to find noone else brave enough to have their quiet time with us there. So we pray together and people eventually joined.
We had breakfast, worship time, and we split men/women. We had the chance of having a ministry couple from Bangalore to join us and they taught. The message focused on relying on God. In the afternoon, it was mostly practicals.
I got a good (and really overdue) d-time. The evening was mostly a waste due to the fact that the supper was more than one hour late, so the movie was canceled.
One brother came to me and inspired me. He told me how inspired he was by my example of leaving my comfort zone and adapting to Indian life. Its not the first time I get such feedback, but its always touching. Most people here never left India. In many case, barely left their state. The airfare that is a budgetable expense for a 25-year old North American engineer is a dream for the Indian one.
So you can tell that I have experienced things that many people here might never. I'm glad and thankful for all of them. And the mere fact that I am with my brothers is really inspiring for them... its Christianity in its real form: loving one another no matter where are are from, how much we make, etc.
I recall a conversation with an African brother... I was asking him how I could contribute if I decided to go there. His answer was simple: just come... people will be fired up that someone actually wants to be with them. I'm understanding that better now.
We also had the first exam. 2 points for a good answer, -1 point for a wrong answer (including no-answers). 50 questions, I scored 46. My hope was 0, since I didn't study (I focused on my teaching ministry instead). I was shocked to see I was a top ranker (except for brothers in the ministry, who were out of competition). I was selected to be in the final, much to my surprise.
On Sunday, we had a service in the morning, with strong reminders about some of the basics, including giving. Then a preach for the brothers about having godly conversations, and giving everything to God. Finally, some people stressing the real things! After lunch, we had the finals. I scored 92 points, first place!
That is, having barely any sleep, being braindead in the competition, with no real study...
I think I've been blessed by God a bit more than I expected. I'll be asked back much more than I thought. Oh well, that's being a saint.
There was a talk I was supposed to have with a brother that didn't happen. Its about a giving plan that I'm offering, and about a sister. Don't start rumours, I'm still single, and I wouldn't bet on that changing.