Monday, September 27, 2010

A Good Analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian Situation

I have the chance of reading an interview with Richard Falk, the United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Israeli-Occupied Territories of Palestine.

Here is a juicy quote that boils it down well:
I’ve just made a report to the U.N. which argues that the prolonged occupation combined with the expansion of the settlements amounts now to de facto annexation. There’s no longer just temporary legitimate occupation after 43 years. Israel has been establishing more or less permanent settlements throughout the whole of occupied Palestine. It is more realistic to look at it as a situation of de facto annexation, de jure occupation. So you have this tension between what is the factual reality and what is the supposed legal situation. At the present time I’m very sceptical [whether] inter-governmental diplomacy can achieve any significant result. And the best hope for the Palestinians is what I call a legitimacy war, similar to the anti-apartheid campaign in the late-1980s and 1990s that was so effective in isolating and undermining the authority of the apartheid government.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Joyful Human Thunder

Today, there was a special announcement during the church service. In fact, I never heard the congregation get so excited in 2 years.
What was it? The official announcement that I'm getting married to Swapna.
You know, THE Swapna from Hyderabad? The super-spiritual woman who can move mountains, who loves God with all her heart, who works at her ministry hours every day despite a busy schedule, and who has a killer smile that makes me almost blind.
Did I mention I'm getting married? To her? Truly, God does great miracles even in the 21st century!!!

I am still in a state of unbelief. This is too good to be true. I wonder if I'll wake up a day and see that I dreamt the whole thing.

Meeting her family on Thursday was an experience! There must've been 10 people from her side. I went with two couples from the church, and most of the talk happened in Telugu and was handled by them. I only answered some questions to reassure the family that I am, in fact, a good guy and very much committed to be faithful to her. That's pretty easy to reassure them because I am both :)

When asked what I wanted, I told them (in broken Hindi) that I only wanted 3 things: her, their blessing, and their love. I saw an immediate reaction in the family. Its like if, at that moment, they accepted me and agreed that I would make a fine son in law.

So I am in the interesting status of 'engaged-to-be'. Our relationship is official and family-approved, and we're agreed to marry. So why not say 'engaged?' That is because Indian culture warrants an 'engagement function' with the families in order to make the engagement official. Also, because Indian culture warrants a big party whenever something good happens in your life :)
This is in sharp contrast to my culture, where engagement is a surprise a man gives his girlfriend and happens in a private manner.  It then gets communicated to the family in an (one would expect) exuberant form ("Ohmygosh...ohmy...goodness!Mom...ohmygodohmygodohmygod... I'm getting married!!!!")

We're both going to the singles' retreat next week. Our last one (maybe except as chaperones). Its going to be a great time for me, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to meet brothers from all over the country, many whom are my friends. The extra edification will help too. God willing, we'll both deepen our friendship as well and get readier for a new life as one flesh.

Please pray for us and all the preparations. Also, please pray she gets her passport fast!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

King Abdullah II of Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan was on the Daily Show. And it was nice to hear a moderate voice talking about the opportunities and the pitfalls ahead for the Middle East. I couldn't find a link to the interview only, so you'll have to scroll a bit. Sorry about that.

And the rest of the interview is here:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - King Abdullah II of Jordan Extended Interview
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I found very interesting his observation that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really at the center of their politics and concerns right now. And it is giving power to a lot of baddies. Also, his concern that the lack of stability is preventing the governments to create opportunities for a lot of well-educated young men and women who just want a normal life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Web Privacy Closer to Disappear

Someone had the idea of trying to re-generate cookies from as many ways as possible. And it works in Javascript too!!! This is called the evercookie.
It is an open source project, so the genie is out of the bottle. I somehow foresee a lot of people using evercookies in the future.
I hope someone programs an evercookie wiper soon!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Retreat in Vishakapatnam

The last weekend, I joined about 35 other brothers and sisters from the AP churches for a retreat in Vishakapatnam (aka Vizag).

Our guest speakers were Felix and his wife, who are leaders in Chennai. We spent one day in the Araku Valley and saw some nice sights there. The other two days were lessons and fellowship.

I learnt about dealing with feelings of failure in the Christian ministry (when brothers leave the faith and nobody, etc.) and the need for boldness, as we are covered by God's authority when we use the Bible properly.

Have a look at some of the pictures. P.S. My camera is giving me trouble, so that means less pictures. Don't buy from General Electric!!!

AP Retreat 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Book of Ruth

I recently watched The Book of Ruth, as I got that DVD at a OM super discount.

They spent a lot of time in the early verses, essentially drawing the degenerating family situation and the sons dying, etc. They added relationship elements as well as tensions that were between that Hebrew family and their heathen neighbours.

Of course, everybody knows the ending, so there is no surprise.
I think they made some cultural/historical elements clear to the audience. But clearly the New Testament quotes in there were out of place.

It is an overall passable movie in terms of entertainment, and it has a little bit of faith building value. Its biggest utility, in my opinion, is to help disciples with little knowledge of the Old Testament know it better.

AIESEC IC and AIESEC Global Alumni Congress

I have had the joy of living in the same city as those two events. I got to join as partner representative for my company's presentation. We even made our own dance :)
Then I attended one day of the Global Alumni Congress. We had a superb India Night that evening, and the speakers were encouraging us to get creative and get bold!
Here are some of the pictures:

IC 2010 + AIESEC Alumni Conf

Monday, September 13, 2010

Safe Food in India

I got an email from Greenpeace India about their update to the 'Safe Food Guide'.
The title is a bit misleading... it is only about GMOs. So, if a product is full of lead or arsenic, this won't tell you.
This is useful for people living in India who want to avoid GM foods out of concern about their safety (or whichever other concern).

Personally, I'm much more concerned about pesticides and other forms of contamination in my food...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Even More Backdated Updates

Update #1: Hampi
I recently went for a short trip to Hampi, Kanartaka.
The place is nice-ish, but that's not a necessary detour for the ruins themselves. But a good guide who would tell you much about the history could make a difference.

Frankly, the logistics to get there are pretty lousy. No direct buses from anywhere, and the buses to get there are the less-than-luxurious kind. There is no government shop either, which helps a lot making sure that tourists don't get ripped off. The Karnataka government has much work to do for raising the profile of this place.

Update #2: studies
I am one IP agreement away of being able to start a PhD in Montreal soonish. God willing, this will unblock soon.

Update #3: Heart Matters
I had asked you to pray the last big update I gave you. Well, the prayers went answered and the relationship busted very quickly. I had asked God to either open the door wide or close it shut. And close it He did. And I am so glad! While on the surface we had stuff in common, it didn't take a lot of digging to realize that we were as incompatible as two people can be.
God had a better plan for me. A plan that He is making into a reality in an astonishing way. I will tell you more very very soon. Please keep on praying.

Update #4: Stability
Things have gotten better lately, as the political agitations have been on-again,off-again thing. And even when there is a bandh, we don't even notice it, or barely do.

Update #5: Work
My project is slated for a major deployment. By major, I really mean MAJOR. Something like I've never done in my career. Many departments to synchronize with, code to keep on writing while this is happening. Suddenly, one of our focus areas is ease of deployment and ease of upgrade.