Sunday, May 16, 2010

It is Tough to be a Vegetarian in US

If you are in US and you are a vegetarian you may yourself have gone through at least one of these experiences yourself.
A: I'm looking for vegetarian options. I don't see anything on the menu.
Waiter: We have lots of vegetarian food.
A: Can you suggest something?
Waiter: For vegetarians, I recommend the fish.
By the way there are lots of Americans who think fish is vegetarian. It seems it is related to something in the Bible. Does any one know the story behind it in Bible?
Another one
A: Is the soup vegetarian?
Waiter: Absolutely. No meat what so ever.
A: Excellent. What is in the soup?
Waiter: It's really good. Made with fresh cilantro, onions, carrots and chicken broth.
Here is another story narrated to me by one of my friend. I could easily relate so many of my vegetarian friends in this story. Here is the story.
A group of vegetarians from India arrived in the US. They went to a local chain restaurant for their first dinner out in the USA. The menu to them was foreign, but exciting. They looked over the dinner menu and decided on the best of the best vegetarian options - one taking the onion soup and salad, one taking the vegetarian burger with fries, and the most exciting sounding new dish - the third one taking the CHEESE BURGER. Why eat a vegetarian patty when you can have a cheese patty, right? Well, unfortunately they found out the hard way that "cheese burger" is not made of cheese in the same manner as the "vegetarian burger" is made of vegetables.
There are so many things out there whose names mislead us to believe it is a vegetarian dish. How many of us know that most of the Pasta has egg in them? Ask the manager at Olive Garden and he/she will tell you that all the pasta in Olive Garden except their whole wheat pasta has eggs in it. I have seen so many of my pure vegetarian friends eating pasta in Olive Garden not knowing it has egg in it.
There are salad dressings with anchovies in them. On a passing glance, you would not really stop to think if there are any meat products in something as simple as a salad dressing. On closer look however, you can find many such products on the shelves of a supermarket, including 'vegetarian' noodles which have beef extracts in the tastemaker powders. Finding that out after a couple of yummy meals may be a shocker!
The main difference being a vegetarian in US and India – lack of choice for vegetarians in US compared to that back home. In US it is so common that a vegetarian may have just one dish to order while the non-vegetarians have bevy to order from in any restaurant. Also unlike in India, “vegetarian” in US can mean so many different things in US. Vegetarian in US can also be a vegan or a “pseudo-vegetarian” who does not mind meat products in processed food but don’t eat meat directly from the plate.
I remember an incident narrated to me by a friend few years back. This friend of mine while he was coming to US for his Masters, his father made him to promise two things. One – never eat meat or egg; Two – never fall in love or marry an American girl. My friend readily agreed to both of them. At the time of giving that promise to his father he was not sure if he can keep the promise of not falling in love with an American girl but he was so sure that he can keep the other promise - remain as a vegetarian. Few months in US he realized – it is almost impossible for him to make an American girl love him and also impossible to survive in US eating vegetarian food. He changed to eating non-vegetarian in six month time but he is happy that he could at least keep the other promise – he married an Indian girl couple of years back.
Are you a vegetarian in US and have some unique experiences? Do share.
[This blog post is written after getting inputs from my friends Miles and Sriram  who have remained vegetarians against all odds in US.]
[Photo Courtesy Click Here]

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Empire of Cricket – India

Here is a documentary by BBC that captures the rise of cricket in India. It takes us through the growth of Indian cricket from the British era to present IPL. This one hour long documentary is a must watch for a true cricket fan.
Part 6  
Isn’t this documentary really amazing?

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in India – Easy to Manipulate?

I happened to see this study by Hari Prasad, Dr J Alex Halderman and Rop Gonggrijp  that tells us our electronic voting machines used in India can be easily manipulated. They have put out a 6.5 minutes video of how to manipulate the EVM’s. 
Read below what one of the authors Dr Halderman has to say 
I've studied electronic voting machines for years, but I've never had such a strong sense that actual fraud might be taking place. There have been dozens of reports from around India that politicians have been approached by engineers offering to manipulate the machines to steal votes. My Indian coauthor, Hari Prasad, was himself approached by a prominent party and asked to help them with such manipulations! It's just too easy, thanks to the simple design of the machines and the lack of adequate safeguards, and there are probably a million people in India with the necessary electronics skills. 
I feel there is some truth in the claims made by them. I followed the 2009 Lok Sabha elections very closely and I still cannot comprehend how ruling party won in Tamil Nadu. Every poll and public opinion was against the ruling party but when the results came, they swept the polls.  Now when I read the above findings of how easy it is to manipulate the EVMs, there is a great chance that elections may have be manipulated.
I think Indian government should be looking into these allegations seriously. If there is some truth to the claims by these scholars, it put a big question mark on the very concept of democracy, the pillar on which India is build. What do you guys think?

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