YoY calculations should be based on Hindu calendar

Deepak Shenoy at Capitalmind has an excellent post dissecting the 4.2% drop in the Index of Industrial Production in October. One of the keys to the drop, he says, is that this year both Diwali and Dasara fell in October, and since factories give workers off for these two festivals output falls. He has an informative (but ugly) graph showing this:

I was talking to a retailer recently and he was talking about sales in terms of Indian festivals – like Diwali and Dasara and so on. Retail analytics, we figured, need to take into account things like “Diwali sale”, “Aashada sale” and so on.

So while we have been using the Gregorian calendar for most purposes, it seems like our business cycle still follows the Hindu calendar. From this perspective, issuing statistics based on Gregorian months (such as October YoY IIP) is simply wrong, and has the ability to mislead.

I hereby propose that we go back to our roots and start publishing these YoY statistics on Hindu months. The only problem is we won’t know how to deal with the “adhika maasas”.

More on religion

According to the Hindu calendar today is three years since my mother passed away. If I were religious, or if I were to bow to pressures from religious relatives, I would have performed a “shraadhha/tithi” today. Instead, I’m home, leading a rather normal life. In spite of it being a Sunday today, I’m actually working (I coordinate schedules with my wife, and for some reason she chose to take off this Friday and go to work on Sunday, so I followed). I’ve eaten breakfast and a very normal lunch.

Every year, twice a year (it’s remarkable that my parents’ death anniversaries have a phase difference of about six months), I begin to get requests from relatives – mostly uncles and aunts but also from the wife – that I need to “do my religious duties” and perform the shraadhhas. The last few occasions, I complied. However, as I’ve explained in this post, I’ve gotten disgusted with the general quality of priests around and decided that it’s not worth my while to enrich that community just because someone tells me it might help my parents attain salvation in their afterlives.

Since I flatly refused to do the shraadhha this time, the last few weeks have had more than their fair share of religious discussions compared to earlier. I’ve been asked how I know that priests mis-pronounce. When I say that my limited knowledge of Sanskrit is enough to identify the mispronunciations, they suggest that I try different priests. I then talk about the number of different priests I’ve encountered over various Shraadhhas over the last few years, and about how not one has really said the mantras well (except for the family priest who conducts weddings, etc. but shraadhhas are too small-time for him).

Then comes the clinching argument from my relatives – that even otherwise irreligious people like my father did their ancestors’ shraaddhas without fail. And it is at that time that I start questioning the whole purpose of the Shraadhha and trying to ascribe a believable reason for it. I argue that if the intention is to remember the deceased, I don’t need one day a year to do that since my parents come in my dreams practically every other day. The intention might have been to get all the descendants of the deceased together, but then I’m the only descendant of my parents and I’m “together with myself” all the time.

Then they try and convince me to perform what I can classify as “lesser evils” – such as giving raw rice and vegetables to a priest. I’ve done that once before and considered it to be such an unpleasant experience that I don’t want to do it again. And then I question how it will help. And the argument goes on.

So for today, finally I submitted that I’ll put food out for the crows before I eat, since in the Sanatana Dharma crows are supposed to represent your ancestors. After much haggling, this seemed like an acceptable compromise.

Later in the evening yesterday, my wife and I had a long conversation about what it is to be a Brahmin and why Brahmins are traditionally vegetarian.

Sometimes, when I don’t think enough I think it is ok to admit to the whims and fancies of other people just so that I don’t piss them off. But then when I do think about it, I find it ridiculous that saying a certain set of songs with certain pronunciation and intonation will have some bearing on my life. I find it incredible that feeding some random so-called Brahmins will help provide peace to my deceased parents.

Growing up with an ultra-religious mother and an atheist father, I never really “got” religion, I must say. In fact, the first time when I thought about religion was when I read about parts of America not believing in evolution (this was some 4 years back) – it was incredible that some people were so deluded that they didn’t accept something so fundamental. It was around the same time that I read The God Delusion (not a great book I must say – could’ve been written in < 20 pages), and the beliefs of the devout, as it described, shocked me.

It was around this time that I realized that some (nay, most) people actually take it seriously that if you pray for something it increases your chances of getting it. It shocked me to believe that some people believe that chanting a certain set of songs (mantras are just that, in Vedic language) will improve your life without any other effort on your part. It shocked me that people actually believe in afterlife and rebirth. By this time, my father had passed away, and this wasn’t a topic about which I could have a rational discussion with my mother, so I let it be.

Some temples (of various religions) make me feel calm and peaceful, and I love visiting them. There are temples which look so good I think they need to be preserved, and I make reasonably generous offerings there. There are festivals that I consider fun, and I celebrate them enthusiastically. We had a fairly large doll display at home this Navaratri. We burst fireworks and ate lots of sweets this Diwali. Last year we hosted a Christmas party. With some friends, I raided the kebap stalls in Fraser Town during Ramzan. We set up a little mandap at home for Ganesh Chaturthi, and displayed my collection of Ganesh idols.

But the concept of before-lives and after-lives and rebirth? That of prayers sans effort making a difference? That you need to feed some so-called Brahmins who can’t recite mantras for nuts just so that your parents attain peace in the afterlife? I find it all absolutely ridiculous.

I didn’t put food out for crows – I find no reason to believe that my mother has transformed into one of them, and that that particular crow will come looking for food today. I haven’t worn back my sacred thread as promised yesterday. I think my cook had put onion and garlic in my lunch today. And life goes on..

The Benjarong Conference

According to the Hindu calendar, today is the first anniversary of the Benjarong Conference. The said conference took place at Benjarong, an awesome Thai place on Ulsoor Road in Bangalore on the second day (dwitiya) of shukla paksha of Chaitra maasa of whatever samvatsara finished two days ago. The main topic discussed at the conference was arranged scissors and considering how things are now, I must say that the conference was indeed a success.

The occasion was a long weekend that also included Ugadi. Monkee and I (I lived in Gurgaon then) were both down in Bangalore for a weekend of bridehunting, and both of us hadn’t been having much luck in the market. Giving us gyaan on how to go about the arranged scissors process was K, who had just gotten arranged married, and Mukka who had just gotten love married. Also present with (as usual) lots of general fundaes in life were Kodhi and Harithekid.

Back during the conference, I had been entrusted with the job of noting down minutes of the meeting and blogging them; however I didn’t have net access back then in Bangalore and by the time I got back to the Gaon I got busy in other things and so here I am a full year late trying to share with the world things discussed at this great conference.

So here we were, two twenty six year old (maybe Monkee was still twenty five then) guys who had never had girlfriends wondering where and how people would fall in love, and where we could find interesting and single girls (yeah we did talk about the Goalkeeper Theory also). We chatted about various kinds of girls, where each type would find boys, the odds of each type being currently available for marriage, what parameters for search to put in matrimonial websites to maximize our odds of finding good girls, and the like.

One specific kind of girl that we spent a lot of time discussing was what K called as “township girl” – girls who grow up in PSU townships. He proposed that girls who grow up in PSU townships are more likely to be smart and liberal compared to girls of comparable family background and intelligence who don’t grow up in townships. This theory was largely seconded by a lot of others at the conference and I passed on it since I didn’t have a clue.

As alternatives to this, I had proposed the non-home-state theory claiming that girls who grow up otuside their home states are smarter and more liberal. The others supported this claiming that girls who have less contact with relatives and family-social engagements are likely to be more “outgoing”.

Then there was this puzzle about boys-majority colleges which a number of us had independently wondered about. If you notice, a large number of the more preferred colleges in India have an overwhelming boys majority (yeah this applies especially to engineering but considering that engineering is one of the most preferred undergraduate disciplines I suppose this assumption isn’t too wrong) and so any girl who goes to any of these colleges is extremely unlikely to land up in the arranged scissors market.

And then, if you would notice, in high school (10th board exams), distribution of marks of boys and girls is roughly equal. So the question is about where the smart girls go! Especially in cities like Bangalore and Madras which lack quality arts (a course which is usually dominated by girls) colleges. We had probably closed the conference promising to investigate this mystery – of where all the smart girls go.

I don’t remember too much about the food at Benjarong that day but I remember we had an extremely overbearing captain who kept coming to us every minute asking us how the food was. We followed our dinner at Benjarong with ice-cream at Corner house – excellent as usual. That is probably the last time I ate a full cake fudge.

A lot of questions raised at that conference are now probably moot, considering that both Monkee and I are on the roads to our respective marriages (he in May, me in November). However, I do need to apologize for taking one whole year to make and publicize these notes. My apologies to the general public for holding back such awesome thoughts from them for one whole year. And my thanks to Harithekid, Kodhi, Mukka, K and Monkee for making the Benjarong Conference possible.


Another issue that was raised at the conference was about the fate of this blog after I find a long-term gene-propagating partner. The other attendees were all of the opinion that I will need to stop blogging after I find someone, or at least not blog on relationship-related topics.

A couple of weeks back,  Pinky shouted at me for NOT blogging enough about her.