Saturday, July 4, 2015

Can Robots For Domestic Help Ever Replace Good Old Bai?

Many dream of using robots for domestic help –  who do our domestic chores perfectly, without a word of complaint. Can a robot really take the place of a human being?


Like millions of women in India who live in mortal fear that their ‘kaamwali bai’ will take an impromptu 10 day hiatus (just because she can), there is a glimmer of hope in the not so distant future. The hope takes the form of a domesticated robot which comes trained in all household chores, can switch roles to a nanny or a cook and the holiest of holiest – will never take leave.
This beautiful creation of man will tirelessly strive to achieve your ideal of a spic and span home with made to order meals and happy babies who are put to sleep by a never ending list of lullabies played on a continuous loop.

Sounds too good? Well, hold your breath, the expression ‘best thing since sliced bread’ will soon be amended to ‘best thing since the Bai robot.’ We are in for a ride and though I mostly look forward to it, I cannot help wondering if in my old age I would have a caregiver robot giving me sponge baths and force feeding me. This disturbing image sent me running to my four-year-old daughter who solemnly promised that she would never hand me over to the cold metal hands of a walking talking machine.

Having thus recovered, I again start fantasizing about the Bai robot and the innumerable advantages it offers. The machine would be respectful, work round the clock, will require no encouragement or bribes, will not mysteriously disappear for long periods of time on festivals and other holidays, will be a one time investment and will in all probability come with a 10 year warranty and the best thing is that you can exchange it for newer model- guilt free!

But and with due respect to the Bai robot’s metallic butt, will it offer a deaf ear to all your rants? Oh, wait! It is a device, so it might take in your rants, run a few algorithms and come back to you with a solution. Ever considered that? You rave and rant and say “I can’t take it anymore and I want to quit and take a never ending holiday” and in a jiffy it sends a resignation email to your company and books a holiday causing a considerable dent in your bank account. You try and undo the resignation, but you are identified as a flight risk and are handed a severance package with a weeks’ notice on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, your spouse notices the dent in your account and books an appointment with either a mental health specialist or a divorce lawyer the same Monday morning. This will cause you to do unmentionable things to the Bai robot which will soon be reduced to a pile of rubble. Talk about return on investment!
Domesticated robots may be the future, but we still may need to have the overbearing Kanta Bai to monitor the monstrosity created by man and lend a friendly ear to our problems. It’s still not Bye “Bai” time yet! And strangely I really don’t mind – anything for some human company.

~Roopa Prabhakar

Friday, March 27, 2015

There is an UGLY Side to every sport...cricket being no exception...Why this Halla Bol!

The ill fated cricket match (India vs Australia World Cup Semi-final - for the miniscule cricket hating public who don't know what I am referring to) raised a tornado on social network and the people who wanted to distinguish themselves from the common junta started defending the Indian team and a particular actress.While this is commendable one wonders if both the parties are deserving of such tenderness. I day dreamed on how wonderful it would be if everyone in my life treated me so well!

One scenario - I get paid unlimited crores, I get the undying devotion from a few hundred million people and I wind up an important match with a few jokes on the media's fickleness, express happiness at having atleast reached thus far, go back home and count some more money. At this point money is of no consequence to me as I can buy all the villages in India and some more. I see nothing really wrong with my strategy or my team's overall performance and fighting spirit so I'm wondering why such a fuss is being made...silly goose the better side won did'nt it?? That's an earth shattering revelation!.....I kept my cool above all else and that is what is going down in history. Indian fans are always crazy and luckily for me there is a lot of infighting within those crazies so I get off easy.. HAH!!

Second scenario - I'm an actress, I come to watch a match where the star player is a friend (?) of mine and I have been identified as a WAG and definitely know that at some point during the match I will grab the eye-balls of a billion people. I have already faced nasty comments which I have squashed with a "oh , but that's so primitive" and have made a movie that shows the mentality of a section of Indian men. Should I or my fraternity be shell shocked at the  trolling I got ,which is admittedly disgusting , or should I just ask people to move on?

We have n+1 religions in India, the +1 being cricket and the 1 billion+ of us know how religion is used to unabashedly destroy communities, massacre people and change the course of history. So why are we registering so much shock at people ranting at a cricket match when cricket occupies the same pedestal.

We seem to be molly-coddling the cricket team and as far as the actress is concerned she had already shown she can fight her own battles.

Lay off you pseudo conscionable bunch of self proclaimed saints, both parties have grown up on cricket and movies and  are well aware of the perils of both. Accountability is just not for the common man!

(P.S: I have gone from Dhoni-is-my-man to Dhoni-Who???, please don't judge me too harshly for my sentiments, I demand the same tenderness you have been pouring on the Indian Cricket Team and a certain actress!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Celebrating Myself (!?!)

 I usually am on the opposite side of the fence on the topic of "Celebrating Myself" or "Celebrating Woman's Day" as I feel that women really don't need a day to celebrate them, what are we going to do the other 364 days of the year? Forget ourselves?!? But then, when you really think about it, it makes sense to set one day aside to indulge ourselves, give ourselves a tiny pat on the back for things accomplished, sacrifices made or just plain surviving in a country which is voted as one of the worst places to be born as a female.

 Consider yours truly, most of the time these days I feel like I'm an octopus on roller skates, falling flat on my face every time. "Getting older and getting nowhere" seems to be playing on my mind all the time. The odds are stacked against my gender when it comes to age, as when women grow older they just become old hags but the unfair sex ( I am NOT talking about melanin here) become more distinguished, more sexy, more everything until they reach the ripe old age of 60. Religion does not spare us either, it’s been said that a woman must build enough karma to be reborn as a man so that she can achieve nirvana. Or that if a man is cowardly in this life then he will be reborn as a woman in the next. Obviously most of the religions are 'MAN'-made tailored to their own greedy ends. Ask any woman and she'll tell you that in today's world it takes more balls (pun be damned!) to be a woman than a man.

 Given the above would I want to celebrate woman's day? Most definitely YES!! Being a woman is a joy and a struggle and in this case I'd like to borrow the tag line "With great power comes great responsibility". We have the power to forge ahead despite all obstacles thrown at us by this prejudiced world, we just need to learn not to give up, not to hate ourselves or our bodies and never to lose self-belief. Does that make a woman sound like a superhero on a mission? You're damn right!! We are superheroes and we deserve at least 24 hours of adulation, celebration and merry-making. Go ahead, have a blast, I definitely am going to!

For more such posts visit  http://www.womensweb.in/articles/celebrating-myself/

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do it like Dhoni!

It is not often that I envy men (nature's favored species) I usually reserve contempt for them as they have a million ways to get things right but still manage to muck it all up. Women, on the other hand, have a million ways to go wrong but still get it right most of the time. But MSD has me stumped (pun very much intended)! He'll probably put a cucumber to shame with his coolness. He has captained his team to success in all three formats of the game and does so without any fuss or fanfare. Maybe India's growing financial clout in world cricket has something to do with our recent successes, nevertheless MSD comes across as someone who can face all odds and come out a winner. He's even lessened the halo around our God of Cricket aka Mr. Sachin Tendulkar and if that's not achieving the impossible I don't know what is!

The hopes of a billion people (leaving out the .21 billion crack heads who don't like cricket) rested on his broad shoulders when he promoted himself and came out to bat at number five at the world cup final. His gamble paid off and his unbeaten 91 is touted to be one of the greatest innings played by a captain. More importantly he made sure that India didn’t huff 'n’ puff and limp to victory as is our style but won the match with balls to spare. The winning six was a class act by a class player (Apologize if I'm sounding like Ravi Shastri who btw would put a tortoise and a snail to shame with his batting).

People call him unsophisticated and rustic and he's definitely not a glib talker if his interviews/after-match speeches are anything to go by. But what he does possess is a dogged determination and an unflappable sense of self-belief. He toned down his flamboyance at the right time (I wouldn't have put much confidence in a captain who had a hairstyle similar to John Abraham) and commanded respect from both seniors and juniors alike. And if the World cup win wasn't enough he's even led Chennai to their second IPL victory.

What really makes him tick? Is it his hard-as-nails attitude, his humble background or is it just plain luck? Is the Midas touch going to wear off soon? Whatever it may be, for the time being, Nike might have to change their slogan from "Just do it" to "Just do it like Dhoni!" (at least for India). England might have "Bend it like Beckham" but we are the proud owners of "Do it like Dhoni!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Uncle Sam badnaam hua darling Obama ke liye......

It's hard to ignore Obama's India visit, I'm sure we lost a few forests with the newspapers dissecting every twitch on Obama's face and every jatka-matka of Michelle's dance. Don't get me wrong I would rather read this than be hit with the FrontPage displaying a picture of Dhoni and his wife frolicking on some beach in Goa. I have nothing against our nation's favorite pastime (cricket) but it's pathetic to find that the Times of India had nothing better to report than the amorous adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Dhoni. However, getting back to the big visit, Obama has certainly charmed us with his oratory, humility and knowledge of our leaders and culture. It's a refreshing change from Bush Junior who could easily mistake "Kashmir" for "Cashmere". BUT the question is - are we impressed? Or do we prefer an American president who can bully his way round "developing" countries and show us our "propah" place in the world so we can be in awe of the land of milk and honey?

The first lady's speech was remarkable, her rags to Harvard law school story was inspiring but we have heard the same story of "hard work pays off" and "always excel in what you do" from our parents umpteen number of times. Most youngsters would have preferred to hold on to the idea that "Amrika" is the land of "Chota shortcuts" where money flows abundantly and all you need is a little smartness to tap it. Michelle's speech would have put a dampener on such ideas with her emphasis on "hard work". Moreover, anybody sent by Uncle Sam has always behaved with a snobbishness which has endeared them to our netas. Michelle's bhangra and her hopscotch skills has left all of us in a fix with some questions….

-Will we sit at the same table as the world's most powerful nation?
-Dare we believe the "India is not rising , she has risen" yarn that this nice couple are spinning?
- Is Obama trying to portray that America is a chaddi dost and not a Big Brother?

In any case Uncle Sam's image of a dominant and overpowering nation has taken a severe beating......as our Munni would say....Bechara Uncle Sam badnaam hua darling Obama ke liye!!! By the way, we can probably teach the very flexible first lady the moves that go with this catchy song….:)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is it the "Noble" Peace Prize now???

Shocked, puzzled and then a little cynical - I was all of these things when I heard that President "Yes we can" Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. I thought people were kidding so I dutifully looked it up on the net on my company's time and confirmed the news.

The other thing that came to my mind was whether the jury had confused "Nobel" with "Noble"?? I have no doubt that Obama has earned the latter title because when compared to Junior (read mentally handicapped) Bush and Horny Clinton, President Obama is way ahead of his predecessors in the nobility department.

But c'mon guys....a 'Nobel' Peace Prize?!? I find that more difficult to digest than the soggy Bhel Puri that our company's cafeteria provides. Ok maybe I'm just a stupid, illiterate woman who has not yet discovered all of Obama's wonderful achievements. So like always I used the "when in doubt, Google!" trick and Wikipedia jumped out with the information. I skimmed through it and apart from his extended family being a "mini-United Nations" and him being the first African American President I couldn’t find any other remarkable achievement that would justify the honor that is being bestowed upon him.

So what gives?? Is this a little bribe to make sure that he perseveres on the difficult path that he has chosen? Worst of all, poor Obama accepted the honor saying “I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize”. I guess he knows (or will come to know at any rate) that most of the world and half of his own countrymen feel exactly the same way. It’s a shame to embarrass a good man and malign a revered honor.

Also, pledging more aid to Pakistan is really not one of the best ways to bring peace in the Indian subcontinent or to the world in general. Maybe India would be well-advised to honor Obama with the Gandhi Peace Prize. On the other hand, maybe not as the 10 million cash prize (convertible in any currency in the world) might just end up as more aid to our friendly neighbor.
All said and done, Obama has definitely proved one thing – “YES HE CAN” … that is win the Nobel Peace Prize!! J

Roopa Prabhakar

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Goodbye MJ......

They say genius and insanity are two sides of the same coin and a link between genius and madness exists. History has numerous examples supporting this, be it the bipolar Beethoven or crazy psychotic Newton, there definitely seems to be a connection between brilliance and weirdness. It’s almost as if nature intentionally left one department lacking for having overcompensated in another. And maybe, just maybe that's how it was with Whacko Jacko, a man so gifted that it was impossible for him to lead a normal life.

Once, as a student, I was forced to take the greyhound from Indianapolis to Chicago and on passing Gary, Indiana (MJ's birthplace) I was amazed at how such a big star could have had such a humble beginning. Places like Gary,Indiana cannot be compared to Mumbai's Dharavi but it does give America's "Land of Milk and Honey" image a severe beating. MJ could not have had a great childhood if the neighborhood was anything to go by.

Despite those revolting accusations of child molestation, his bizarre lifestyle, his experiments with his appearance which nearly turned him into a freak, he is undoubtedly THE KING of POP. We will never know if it mattered to him whether he was black or white but his music mattered to millions of people all over the world. No one else in his generation has been able to invoke such mass hysteria with their music. As he is laid to rest I would like to borrow from Shakespeare for the final goodbye...

Music-Lovers all over the world lend me your ears;
I come not to praise MJ, but to bury him;
The music that men create lives after them,
The craziness is oft interred with their bones,
Please let it be so with MJ.......

Roopa Prabhakar.