NYC Exploits (2/3)

NYC Exploits (2/3)

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Part 1 can be found here.

 

Day 2

 

Hotel

After having tasty home-cooked dosa-chutney for breakfast, we set out for what was to be our first full day in New York City. We took the New Jersey Transit train (it had a double deck!) to Pennsylvania Station. Hrishikesh had flown in all the way from the West Coast (Seattle) for this trip. He had landed early in the morning and had already checked in to our hotel, by the time we arrived.

Hotel Belnord is located on West 87th Street. The nearest subway station (86th Street – Seventh Avenue Line) is just a 5-minute walk away and serves the 1 train. The nearest Bank of America ATM is just around the corner as is the nearest Starbucks store. Also, the nearest 7-Eleven store is a 15-minute walk away.

The hotel was comfortable and while it wasn’t especially pretty, it had quite well appointed rooms. Also, the area around the hotel was peaceful. It had a no-nonsense aura around it and was exactly how we wanted it to be. Continue reading “NYC Exploits (2/3)”

NYC Exploits (1/3)

NYC Exploits (1/3)

I got a chance to visit New York City this February and this write-up is all about that.

I don’t write frequently; but when I do, I tend to overwrite. The entire piece runs across ~5000 words spread over 28 MS-Word pages. Therefore, in an effort to keep things interesting and crisp, I’ve decided to publish it in 3 parts.

Background

I was selected to participate in the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Conference, which is 4-day event organised at Harvard University every February. The aim of the project as well as this conference is to ‘promote understanding of the economic, political, social, and cultural issues facing the Asia-Pacific region’. HPAIR organises 2 international conferences every year – one at Harvard University in February and the other at an Asian University in August.

I was a delegate at the HPAIR Asia Conference, 2016 which was organised in collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and was interested to see how the two conferences compared. Moreover, I was thrilled to be given a chance to visit Harvard, which is among the world’s most prestigious universities, with an astonishingly low acceptance rate of ~ 5.4%.

Even more exciting was the point that I would be getting a chance to meet Hrishikesh, who is studying at the University of Washington, Seattle. Hrishikesh and I have been uber-close friends for over 16 years now and the fact that I would be meeting him in the US was unbelievable, to put it mildly.

The foundation of this trip was laid way back in October, when I had casually mentioned about this conference to Hrishikesh. I had not planned to apply for the conference at that time. But then we discussed how thrilling it would be to meet at the other side of the planet, in a totally new country. Although the proposal sounded too-good-to-be-true at that point, considering that there was a possibility of Hrishikesh’s exam dates clashing with the period of my stay and the fact that the entire exercise depended upon my selection to attend the HPAIR conference, it somehow panned out so flawlessly and before I could sit back and admire the flawlessness, I had my NY boarding pass in my hand.

The original plan was to meet in Boston a few days ahead of the conference. Thank god we shifted it to New York. This is not to say that Boston would have been a bad choice (it is also a terrific city), but in hindsight, I would safely say that we made the right choice. After all, New York has the exuberance and vibe which is unlike anything found anywhere in the world.

Seattle is a city on the western coast of USA and is roughly 3,800 kilometres away from New York (this stat alone gives you an idea of just how massive the US is). To put this into perspective, if you travelled that far to the east of Delhi you’d reach Beijing, and to the west you’d reach Jeddah. But then, that’s still a quarter of how far Nagpur is from Seattle and the day I told him I would be visiting the US in February, a plan started taking shape.

In theory, 5 days in New York and 5 days in Boston sounded good. We were now keen to see if the planning and investment was worth it.

It was. It so was.

Read on…

Continue reading “NYC Exploits (1/3)”

2016 = Accomplished

2016 was not the best year for the world in general but it definitely was a stellar year for me.

I had set three personal targets for myself in the beginning of 2016 – 1) Get through the CA Final examination in the first attempt; 2) Get selected for a HPAIR conference, and; 3) Get selected for Harvard Law School’s online CopyrightX Course.

Now that 2016 is over, here’s my report card: Continue reading “2016 = Accomplished”

Abolition of capital punishment. Is India ready?

Through this article, I intend to offer insight and more importantly, a perspective different from that based on generic and ‘rational’ thinking to what has arguably become the most talked about and controversial topic; and for which India has faced strong international condemnation, especially in the aftermath of recent events.

Recently, the apex court upheld the death sentence of Yakub Memon by referring to him as the ‘mastermind’ of the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts. The hanging was to be done on the morning of his 53rd birthday. While the digital and print media was busy covering the entire trial, a slow yet steady movement was silently gaining momentum. The internet was getting increasingly flooded with criticism against the Supreme Court’s decision to administer the harshest punishment available in this case. A form of punishment, which had already been abolished by 103 countries.  Some people went so far as to assert that the decision represented ‘a significant judicial miscarriage’ and that the Supreme Court acted ‘in a manner inconsistent with the premise of justice and humanity’.

“Essentially Yakub Memon’s deeds can’t be viewed distinct from the act of Tiger Memon, hence both owe an equivalent responsibility for the blasts. They were the architects of the blasts, without whom the plan would never have seen the daylight,” said the Hon’ble court.

The bench also observed that there was no direct act attributed to Yakub Memon as far as parking of explosive filled vehicles in different localities was concerned. But it should be kept in mind, that if not for the planning of the conspirators to which Yakub Memon was a party too, the explosives and ammunition required for the execution wouldn’t have entered into our country and as a consequence the execution itself wouldn’t have materialised.

Amidst all the above arguments, it would be wise to note that the punishment was awarded only after Yakub Memon had exhausted every possible appeal available to him and that the entire judicial apparatus was at his disposal during the trial. So people on the internet, are you guys privy to some hidden secret about his innocence? Because if you’re not then you certainly are as misinformed as those who claim Asaram Bapu’s saintliness.

So, to the death penalty argument now. Can two wrongs make a right? Continue reading “Abolition of capital punishment. Is India ready?”

Ten things nobody tells you about the Indian Chartered Accountancy Course / Profession

‘A course so fascinating, as if designed only for the nobility’

After clearing the celebrated Class X exam, a typical student in India is served a three ‘course’ meal, the courses here being somehow mutually exclusive and subdivided further.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you ‘Oh-my-f-god Science’ (the magnum opus, hereinafter called the right stream), ‘oh-so-mediocre Commerce’ and ‘yes-I-still-exist Arts’.

That you’ll get more (and also diverse) educational opportunities if you choose the right stream over Commerce and Arts is a fact based on prejudiced opinions and tampered evidence. Hence, the choice of this stream is a no-brainer for most.

Opt for Science and your dad will flaunt, mum will boast and your younger sibling who is secretly aspiring for a career in liberal arts will never forgive you.

Continue reading “Ten things nobody tells you about the Indian Chartered Accountancy Course / Profession”

Reservation and Regression | My entry for the Harvard US-India Initiative Conference 2015 Essay Competition

The Harvard US-India Initiative Conference 2015 was held at the majestic Hotel Shangri-La in New Delhi on January 9th and 10th 2015. It was among the largest youth development conferences to have ever been organised in India and was host to a gathering of 450 students, each of whom was selected on the basis of merit and three essays which, among other things, formed part of the application form.

The conference focused on some of the most pressing issues in India today and the speakers’ roster included names like Piyush Goyal, Jairam Ramesh, Jayant Sinha, Pinky Anand and Manish Sisodia, among many others. For someone like me who is a novice in the world of high profile gatherings where intellectually stimulating topics are discussed and debated upon, it was an experience matched by none.

A month before the conference, the organising committee invited essays on India-specific current, social, economic or political topics from the delegates, the best among which were going to be published in the conference brochure. I chose the topic of “Reservation in India” because according to me, the current reservation system is flawed in more ways than one and needs immediate tweaking. Also, the fact that it is slowly but surely increasing inequality among people belonging to different castes, which sadly, is the exact opposite of the objective that it had set out to attain, in my opinion, warranted a discussion in the conference which boasted of a sizeable representation from the ruling government.

Here’s the complete essay :-

Continue reading “Reservation and Regression | My entry for the Harvard US-India Initiative Conference 2015 Essay Competition”

Stone Age dream | A Neanderthal’s take on what it’s like to evolve.

“We have progressed from the Stone Age and moved on to the age of stone hearted people”                                                – Amit Abraham

Gabriel, a Neanderthal from Stone Age Munich gets a 60-minute peek into his land of the present day. And blogs(1) out his heart.

‘By the holy axe, that is hot!’ was my first reaction when I touched the gleaming exhaust of a motorcycle that this white (argh!) guy had just parked beside me. ‘Hast du einen Vogel?’ (with a look that suggested I better GTF outta there) was his. Continue reading “Stone Age dream | A Neanderthal’s take on what it’s like to evolve.”

Speed Thrills…

No, it doesn’t kill. Nothing, apart from of course smoking, ever kills. Now if you’re about to add some cyanide to the equation, let me tell you that I’m not interested in discussing any further.

Now, you might have read a lot of useless pieces since you became old enough to read. And no, I’m not talking about textbooks. I’m talking about articles, storybooks, novels, biographies and all other forms of written work. The ones who have tried to read ‘The Casual Vacancy’ will be touched, for there never was and there never ever will be a novel as ruthlessly boring as it was. And with my first attempt at writing, I’m certain that this will go down and get added up to that list of useless reads. Still, I’m motivated. If you’re still with me, congratulations and read on! Continue reading “Speed Thrills…”