November 1, 2017

Dear Colleagues
One more round of random reflections for your perusal.

  1. In several countries and societies, Halloween is celebrated on 31 October. ‘Getting rid of your ghosts’ seems to be underlying premise of this day, which is celebrated by scaring others through costumes and sounds. In several cities of Europe and North America, ‘haunted’ walks are a major tourist attraction. Canadian cities have combined 150th anniversary with special shows of scariest haunted walks. I have not come across such ‘haunted’ walks in India? We do have several old, haunted forts, palaces and ‘havelis’ in this country too. And ghosts are said to be ‘living’ in many wells, ‘bawadis’ and tree groves in India. What about your ‘haunted’ locations?
  2. New technologies, artificial intelligence and internet of things will be soon telling us humans what to eat, where to sleep, and….what to think. A new Hollywood move ‘The Circle’ gives a peep into the ‘shapes of things to come’. With terrifying clarity, the youthful new champion in the movie promotes democracy and voting behaviour from a remote centralised ‘switch’. But it also sheds light on how the ‘founders’ of this enterprise ‘The Circle’ do not want its application to shape their own lives!
  3. Technological integration into our identities is not merely driven by Aadhar card of India. Toronto airport has started a system of such technological interface for not just residents and citizens of Canada, but also tourists. I walked through technological scrutiny of immigration, where data about me, my visa and travel details were already available to the ‘machine’. On return, men were doing immigration at Delhi airport, mercifully?
  4. It is interesting to see how European Union and Council institutions have shaped Brussels of today. Many of its urban infrastructure—roads, tunnels, metro, bus, airport—has been built in ways to ‘accommodate’ and respond to the needs of EU. The city has also developed expertise in handling ‘per diems’, as a large number of visitors to Brussels come to do some business with EU and its various institutions. Geneva is the only other city which has ‘acquired’ the personality of the UN system and its various institutions.
  5. It is wedding season in north India again. For some, it means parties and fashion. For many others, it means business and income—jewellers, clothiers, bands, catering, horses, decorators, etc. For citizens of cities like Delhi, it merely means endless noise pollution late into the night and perpetual traffic jams on all roads and in neighbourhoods. When will Indian weddings go ‘digital’?

All the very best
Thanking you