Monday, May 25, 2009

Recession Impressions


"What Recession ?" you might say, judging by the way the
non-essential spending goes on in the USA. Or is it that
the Recession hits different people in different ways ?
I thought the only Recession-proof industries must be the
Alcohol and Tobacco ones, even though the figures stated
that more people had quit smoking after the new Tobacco
Tax hike. That new hike didn't quite impact the latest crop
of graduates who are finding fewer jobs awaiting them out
there and have taken to smoking and drinking as they are
officially 'legal'. A whole new generation of smokers and
drinkers enter society and the endless cycle continues.
I know this to be true because part of my daily routine
involves verifying the age of Tobacco product buyers.

Those are the real facts, the prices are up and so are the
sales, especially
when the pitch now is 'Buy Two and Save'.

Alcohol remains untouched, a big seller as increasing
numbers bemoan the sorry State of the Nation while sharing
a bottle
of cheaper Wine than what they were used to. Judging
from the folks in the path of last year's
Hurricane Ike in Texas,
that's exactly what took place, as area
Supermarkets found their
sales figures for Wine surpassed all
previous records. Their
Liquor stocks were the first ones that
were depleted during those
dismal days of shortages, curfews
and long lines. Some
literally drowned while others just

Yes, big Corporations may be in Bankruptcy but against all odds
there some who are not buckling, but booming. The video below

is from the Wall Street Journal and takes a look at a Tattoo
Parlor in Willowbrook Mall, New Jersey (where I worked for

Tattoo Nation on Flickr

Fortunoff, which just folded after 25 years in business)
is beyond busy, inking devotees and Tattoo newbies

Last week I met a weary Carmax worker who got inundated
with sales during an unbelievable 8-hour shift
on a Saturday.
They sold
57 Used Cars that day, when on a normal day a
salesperson would be lucky to sell even three.

Hair and Beauty Salons and High-end Boutiques are
also reporting a rise in sales : people seem to want
to look
good in bad times, even when it comes to torn and faded

Elephant Bell in Super Loved Destroy
"While consumer spending remains woefully depressed,
expensive designer jeans have been one of the few bright
spots for manufacturers and retailers, according to
NPD Group Inc., a market research company.
~The LA Times

Gun sales are another testament to less-than-troubled times in
stores dealing in Ammo and Firearms. Spurred by fears of new
revisions in Gun Controls that could be imposed by the President
Barack Obama, sales have tripled since January.

WBZTV in Boston, Mass reports
Ryan Swist of Dighton, who says he has rifles for hunting, was
shopping for his first pistol at Bass Pro.

"Why do you want one?" Ron (salesman) asked.
"To hunt. Safety. You never know," Swist said.
"What do you mean safety?" Ron asked.
"Get robbed or something in your house...recession,
you know.
People are getting more hungry for money."

WBZTV ~Gun Sales Increase Trigger Concerns

Penn has a similar report:
Gun Store Sales Increase

Finally, my neighbor - a single Mother - took two vacations
this month, renting a Time Share cabin in the mountains....
so where's the Recession ? Certainly not in my backyard.

BTW...there is no Virtual Poona Tattoos in existence at the
time of this posting :-)

Indian Wine and Women

As Indian women increasingly become independent, financially
and otherwise, and begin asserting their spending power, wine
drinking is becoming the rage.

-The Global Post, May 2009

Well, Indian women have been drinking as long as the world's oldest
profession has been in existence.
That's nothing new. But The ancient
Indian Religious Scriptures have always forced Indian women to higher
standards of public conduct than their Western counterparts. The only
'Ladies' Night' that could be envisioned would be the Palace dancers
and courtesans who were 'on call' at the whim of the Royals.
Dancing girls in the courts of the Mughal rulers being more desirable
or successful meant their acceptances of drinks, 'tips' and amorous
advances as the precursors to giving themselves up to their 'patrons'.
Those early versions of 'Bar Girls' were the bad side of the picture for
serious drinking aficianados of the time - the gourmands.

For centuries the acquisition of wine fines remained dependent on
visits by the
Greek conquerors, followed by the Portuguese, Dutch
and British
traders and missionaries, who used their mastery of
producing fine wines to further their imperialist ideals. Displaying
their vast array of continental wine flavors.they offered a taste of
what constituted greater wealth and power in the outside world.

Following the occupation and rule by the British, the men in the new
armed forces had the great good fortune to discover gourmet Indian
cuisine alnd so began the evolution of fine wining and dining for those
not in the elite. Those soldiers also paved the way for greater
enhancement of the local palates by trading their Rations of alcohol,
chocolates and other Western goodies for Gemstones, Jewelry,
Cash and anything else they could lay their hands on. Many female
servants, known as 'Ayahs' or Nannies rose above their domestic
positions to become Liasons, Escorts and even wives to their masters.
And so new business and social circles were born, where the most
powerful were wined and dined by the locals with the most to gain
from such new alliances. Which leads to the party days of the Indian
Military bases.....

I grew up enjoying the sights and sounds of Indian Army Galas and
Fetes, at a time when being the friend of Military personnel meant
not just sharing in their festivities but also gaining a 'Passport' to their
imported Scotch and 'Army strength' Rum
quotas. As a Musician
performing at these festivities I witnessed many a 'respectable' Army
wife loosening up on the
dance floor and enjoying herself after a few
'Army pegs'
The same highly-respected ladies who were pillars of the
community, who had to be discreet and order 'Sherry', the standard
'Ladies' Drink' when it came to drinking
in public. Fresh out of
and into College, I highly approved of this camaraderie and
enjoyed this form of hospitality
for years.......but those were the old days.

Now, all that unnecessary shame
and stigma of women drinking in public
has disappeared as India's business attitude has rapidly evolved
one of the world's most open. The lifting of Tariff restrictions on
goods like Liquor has resulted not only in a wider variety
of imports but
also created a mass market
in India for Wines from abroad. Much of all
this sophistication has been spearheaded
by the new elite who get their
ideas either first-hand via
shopping trips to Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong
and Malaysia, or from good old Bollywood which brings the latest trends
to them at a breakneck pace. They are thus on the fast track to keeping up

with, and overtaking the Joneses...and the Joshis. Even local entrepreneurs
who are
less-traveled and far from 'hip' are now quickly boning up on Wine

All this bodes good for the status of Indian women as consumers and
more: they now
have a whole new world of social and business inter-
action to tap into,
research and explore.And to spend more, which is
of course the bottom line.
The new society lady is a Renaissance lady,
a Merchandiser's dream, who bravely trades
jibes with local Community
Restauranteurs, and Media Gurus all in the space of one day,

grabbing their attention and swaying their devotion.

Club Indage Pune opened 2005 but now they are
Riding the Recession and the Indian wine consumer

All this is neatly documented by the folks in the video above, the folks
of The Pune Gourmet Club who are determined to party in style, and
Visit their blog and tell them an old Punekar sent you.
Then read almost all about
the world of Indian women according to Wiki

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day 2009

Happy Mother's Day 2009
Happy Mother's Day 2009,
originally uploaded by FredMikeRudy.

' Forget about the brotherly and otherly love -
Motherly love is just the thing for you
you know your Mother's gonna love you
till you don't know what to do '

-FZ and The Mothers of Invention

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mumbai Trains Are Marvelous. Simply.....

Gotta love those daily commuter trains at CST in Mumbai !
Here's a French tourist's capture from
2007 that shows some
things never change even
if it's 30 years later. Sure, it's a whole
lot cleaner, modern, organized,
digitally sync'ed and catered
to make the ride a lot more bearable....
but as long as the nation's
population remains unchecked, the seating
stays up for grabs
even with a monthly pass.
Thank goodness they have all that
'spare' seating
on top of the trains !

Here's an Indian blog that mentions an Indian entrepreneur
who came up with the ingenious idea of providing insurance
getting caught traveling without ticket. Which is not quite
the same as
ticketless travel insurance....

Friday, May 01, 2009

Lynndie England: A Tortured Soul

On September 26, 2005, England was convicted of one
count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees
and one count of committing an
indecent act. She was
acquitted on a second conspiracy count.
[citation needed]
She was sentenced to three years in a military prison for
her crimes.

It was on a hot day in the last week of September 2005 that
Lynndie England faced Court-Martial at Fort Hood Army Base,
Texas. On that very same day at the same time, I was in the area
of Fort Hood, returning from mandatory
Evacuation due to
Hurricane Rita. Somehow I knew I would remember that day for
years to come, maybe forever. Suppressing an overwhelming
urge to sneak up around the Army Base, I promised myself that I
would put down my thoughts about the unusual events of the day in a
Blogpost when I returned to
Friendswood, TX. As it turns out I did,
but inexplicably I left out all mention of the England case. So now,
thanks to the release of the Torture Memos, and, come May 28th,
the images related to those Documents, my thoughts on
are being re-examined and shared online. Three and a
half years later........

The Abu Ghraib leaked pictures and subsequent international
media coverage remain forever an
important part of U.S. history
that will be analyzed, written and re-written about. We expect that to
And now, perhaps those of us who were shocked, disgusted
and dismayed by our soldiers' behaviour
at Abu Ghraib and other
US-controlled prisons will find our perceptions altered. Just like my
The Huffington Post's Tina Dupuy and mine have
been altered.

I have always wondered what would drive a twenty-year-old female
who grew up in a mobile home
in tiny Fort Ashby, WV to wind up as
a soldier in a harsh environment like Abu Ghraib. Even Mick Jagger
expressed his feeling about her in the 2005 album, 'Bigger Bang'
in a song called 'Dangerous Beauty' Whatever the reason,
wound up in Iraq at age 20, fell madly in love with her Boss, Sergeant
Charles Graner and got pregnant.
Young, ambitious and full of hope
for a life with Graner and the baby after their tour of duty, Lynndie
determined to do whatever was necessary to make her dream
a reality. Even if it meant committing despicable
acts that she
questioned inwardly, outwardly she was being all that she could be,
a good soldier serving her
country in the time of need. And so she
evolved into one of the most hated females in the
world after the
photos of her at Abu Ghraib prison somehow leaked out. There were
other soldiers present as
Sgt. Graner supervised the proceedings,
creating some atrocious photoshoots that he declared would
as official Documents on the Army's use of Interrogation Methods,

Why did she let Graner take all those pictures? Wasn't she
afraid he'd show them
to people?

"I didn't want him to take the pictures," England tells me.
"But he took pictures of everything. He kept a camera in his
pocket. He was always taking his camera out. Sometimes
took the pictures for himself. Sometimes he took them for

According to Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, who was
deposed during the military trial,
"[Graner] always talked about being in Desert Storm, and the
things he saw and did, and he had no way to prove these things
happened. So this time around, he said he was going to take
pictures to take back home as proof."
from (A Soldier's Tale: Lynndie England
byTara McKilvey for Marie Claire)

One person who is ready for a new battle for justice is the
prison commander at the time,
Janis Karpinski. When the
Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke in 2004, it was soldiers and
officers who took the blame including
Karpinski who was
demoted from Brigadier General to the rank of Colonel.
Speaking with CNN's John Roberts last Thursday she says
of Lynndie :

"You have to understand that it builds into a crescendo,"
says Karpinski. "Lynndie is away from the flagpole, in Abu Ghraib
— the most terrible place. You're being mortared every night.
You are breathing dust and broken concrete. It's hot. You feel
dehumanized. You're drained of every bit of compassion that
you have. She did it because she wanted to come back from
this godforsaken war and be able to say, 'We did this for the
government.' She was made to believe that this was of such
importance to national security. It was, you know,
'You stick with me, kid, and you might even win a medal.'"

"Graner was her protector," Karpinski continues. "She wanted
to please him, and she'd do anything he told her to do. She's
thinking, 'Graner would never tell me the wrong thing. I'm sleeping
with him. I trust him.''

Sgt.Graner, who is still serving time in prison has no contact with
Lynndie or their son; Lynndie wants nothing to do with
the person
who denied being the father and instead was instrumental to her
imprisonment and dishonorable discharge.
At least eleven lower-
ranked persons were nudged and judged and served time, but
what lies ahead will have them and
a lot of others related to the
events on tenterhooks in the days ahead. For, in addition to
seeing justice duly served on the
superiors who were never affected
during all this, this will be their chance to watch the courts clear
their names, and the world
to finally acknowledge they were the
'fall guys'.

Karpinski is also ready to go the distance to see that justice is
finally served and even believes a Presidential Pardon
be forthcoming.

Roberts: Do they deserve a presidential pardon?

They do. And they deserve to have all of the
overturned. They deserve certainly to have their
discharges dishonorable or bad conduct discharges

Sourced from :
I Think I Owe Lynndie England An Apology
by Tina Dupuy, The Huffington post.

A Soldier's Tale
by Tara McKilvey, Marie Claire

Bush-era memos vindicate Abu Ghraib soldiers?
John Roberts - Anchor, CNN's American Morning