Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Peace in being Immensely Busy

To waste not a second, being busy like a bee, was always my dream. But in medical college it's the rule and not exception that you be busy, always.

And I'm finding a strange feel of order and happiness in it.

You wake up, do the record work for the day, preview the day's class, brush, rush through breakfast, ride to college, attend lectures till noon, rush back to hostel, have lunch, rest for 10 minutes, return to college for practical, go straight to library from there, come back half an hour before dinner, take a bath, wash, have dinner and chit chat, start reading till midnight, and sleep. Repeat this for every weekday with occasional inclusion of exercise. And on a holiday you pay back your sleep debt, go shopping, do NGO activity, call old friends, family, go around the town, and sleep tired.

It's not hectic, but there's a continuity, a flow of activities from one to the other, with no time sucking in between. And this flow is addictive, albeit tough to achieve.

And not to forget the mental stretch the textbooks give. It's one great balancing act that brings out your mettle. Medical college.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Hazare's demands are hazardous

Corruption - sucks.
Lokpal - great idea.
Making Lokpal equivalent to monarchy - insanely stupid in the long run.

What we see at major cities is not support for the idea that Prime Minister and judiciary should be brought under Lokpal (for the agitated people don't even know what they are agitated about)
What we see is the stupid mistake every kid learning politics in 9th standard makes - comparing an ideal monarchy with a practical democracy.

Yes, the Lokpal should be formed. But no, it should not be made omnipotent. Because that would be going backwards in history. From democracy to anarchy.

The Lokpal will shake the constitution. So it should be brought in slowly so that the constitution doesn't lose balance and topple over. And you can't afford to postpone eating till the end, no matter how large your tummy is.

Tail piece : People are guillible, especially college kids who hate going to college. But to pursuade those people to vote in favour requires intelligence, which the politicians have. And that's why they think before they leap.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Past, the Future, and the Mingled Mangled Present

The school-life has ended but the college hasn't begun. And you have a funny long drawn out vacation.
Saw all the movies in the theater. Had enough fun with friends. And you have 3 more weeks to spend. What do you do?

Here are some things you can do (mostly online)

  1. Mathematics
    Read these 4 books recommended by someone who loves mathematics very much.
    Knots and Surfaces
    Intuitive Topology
    Fixed Points
    Groups and Symmetry
    These books are so well written that despite the enormity of the field they represent, they can be read after high school geometry.
  2. Python
    pythonchallenge is an absolute killer when it comes to learning python online. No, it isn't a tutor for python, or any language for that matter. It's a collection of brain teasing programming problems that are best solved with python. And by the time you reach the 4th level, you'll have already made a small application that interacts with the www.
  3. Web designing
    There're multiple things to it.
    Html : Very basic, absolute necessity.
    CSS : This is what makes it 'designing'
    javascript (is not java) : that's how you animate css.
    jquery : actually a javascript library. But something to stand on its own.
  4. Web hosting
    This goes naturally with the other one. Learn how to setup apache on your own computer. Redirect localhost to your self-hosted wordpress blog
  5. Blogging
    If you haven't already begun. Start now. I made 9 dollars last month.
  6. Blood donation
    It'll take your body one day to get your blood level back to normal. So, do this when you have 2 days to spare.
  7. Take up running seriously
    No, I am not serious. Nobody wakes up at 6 during holidays.
  8. Read fiction
    Time to catch up in that department, if you had been postponing.
    Kite Runner is supposed to make a good read. So is To Kill a Mocking Bird.
  9. Change the world.
    This is the easiest of all.
...
1000. Have fun.
          Come on, you can't be so nerdy. Jerk off. Do things you can't do later. Have a lot of fun.

----
And that's not all.
There's a stronger reason why I write this. post.
It is to keep me engaged.
To keep me engaged so that I don't think about my closest friends leaving to different places so as to continue their life. No, it's not that I'm sad about it. Just that it makes life a bit uneasy. Yes, I love being alone. But not for long.
I dedicate this post to Nousha who's been pestering me with the request to do so :D. She leaves tomorrow for entrance coaching (to the same place another piece of my heart went 2 years ago) so as to get a better engineering rank. And the dictator there has banned mobile phones. That leaves me like the Argentinian team with Messi in the side bench.
I usually try my best to hide my emotions. Like Roger Federer does. But it's with friends like her that I forget self imposed restrictions and remain the raw, unkempt me.

And to that friendship, I consecrate my childhood.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Any Proof is NOT Proof

We all ask for proofs. But many of us don't verify the proof.

I'll try to prove that 2=1

a = 1
b = 1
a = b
a2 = b2
a2 - b2 = 0
(a-b)(a+b) = 0
(a-b)(a+b)/(a-b) = 0/(a-b)
1(a+b) = 0
(a+b) = 0
1 + 1 = 0
2 = 0
1 = 0
1 + 1 = 1
2=1  (yay!!!)


Why is it that despite many 'proofs' lying around telling us 2=1 we know that 2 is not equal to one?
Because all the proofs to 2=1 will have some sort of mathematical fallacy in them, like dividing both sides by zero, and knowing that 2=1 is absolutely wrong propels us to try our best in finding how the proof is flawed. Either we find the flaw on our own or we search the internet.

But what about conclusions that aren't obviously false? In these cases anyone with a clear head will try and discover the truth. Those who are undergoing emotional stress cannot and will not.

Assertion: Sai Baba is God.
Reason: Sai Baba does miracles.
Here believers who believe no one in flesh and blood can be God will disbelieve the assertion and therefore discover how the miracles that Sai Baba performs are trivial compared to Criss Angel's Mindfreak
But some believers who just want to buy more crap will instantly make the connection. Miracles = God! They won't wait to verify whether the 'miracles' are magic or not.

Now what will happen when the conclusions are even more convincing? Almost all people will fall, despite how good they were in finding flaws in other claims.

Assertion: Sai Baba is good.
Reason: He does charitable work.
Here the reason seems flawless because everybody can see those super specialty hospitals where treatment is free, those schools, etc. And so, everyone agrees with the assertion.
But what we forget is to see what share of Sai Baba's income actually goes into philanthropy. There is no possible way for me to know that. Searching online only brings up pages like this which suggests that a huge share of his income goes into his castle building activities. And despite knowing how to use a website the Sai Trust has not published its income expenditure details online. Well, I wonder if they have published it offline either because as far as I know they're not required to!
When such a thing happens where the proof is questionable, what I do is to look for clues.
#1) Had they been donating >80% of their income like some outsiders claim, they would gladly publish the details of their income and expenditure considering how hungry they're in trying to convince people.
#2) They're not honest. The very claim of miraculous powers prove the converse.
#3) APJ Abdul Kalam sang praise. (All other big names are politicians, etc whom I need not consider) The missile man of India is widely respected. He has got several honorary doctorates (some 37 of them, the last time somebody counted). But that doesn't immunize him against falling for frauds (Pardon me, it alliterated) And there are other big names who have been silent if not fighting against Sai Baba.
Based on these I would say the assertion that Sai Baba is good cannot be proved  with the reason stated.

Putting aside Sai Baba for later, let us focus on how to develop a safe approach towards believing claims. What I have tested and trusted is to start with the assumption that every assertion is false and that all proofs are flawed somewhere. Now, when we try to find that flaw, we may even validate the claim.

And the internet is your friend in that. Because someone might have already taken the pain to debunk this new fat claim you got as an email forward. All you got to do is verify whether the debunking is rational. Wikipedia, though it is criticized by many to be easily manipulated, is the best help in that regard because without a proper source nothing stays there. (All you must do is to read the sources/references/citations)

And this is applicable to everything - god men, fund raisers, urban legends, etc.

All that glitters is not gold.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Am God

I decide how I live.
I decide where I go.
I decide what I do.
I decide what I eat.
I decide who I talk to.
I decide what I read.
I decide to be patient.
I decide to be creative.
I decide to be committed.
I decide to be sincere.
I decide to be honest.
I decide to help everyone.
I decide to love everyone.
I decide how I feel.
I decide what I think.
I decide my mood.
I decide my day.
I decide my world.
I decide my destiny.
I am God.

Who are you?

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bubbling in the Dark

Today is the first demonstration of a huge experiment. An experiment funded, propelled and fuelled by the world wide web.

Breathe.

(There is a huge post coming, if the observations agree with the theory)

Update: It didn't go well. Well, neither did Wright brothers at first.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

"April Fool", says India Government to all its Netizens

In an attempt to not get fooled by any 'breaking news' from my friends (like India forfeiting the world cup, or Swiss banks revealing their accounts), I switched on the tv early today morning and I was crestfallen by what CNN and NDTV were showing in big letters. On a day where people fool each other with pranks, the Government of India has decided to fool all its internet users.

Starting from today, the internet in India will be censored. As in China we will no longer be able to use the internet as we wish, or exercise the freedom of speech and expression over the internet. The Government will be monitoring all internet activities including social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut. This censorship move is a measure by the Government to restrict the activity of Wikileaks, the whistle blower site exposing scams. I knew those nasty people at the Parliament would decide on something like this. They can't even tell Wikipedia from Wikileaks and what this means is that editing an article about the ruling leaders could even land the innocent 'free' editor in jail.

The Government said in its ruling that blogs and self published websites would be censored heavily, and legal action will be taken against any content which may be provocative in any manner whatsoever. This could mean hell for bloggers as they can no longer bash any party or people in their blogs.

But this could be good news for email lovers like me. Because from today fat claims with no citations will be considered as conspiracy or intended public defamation. Nobody can forward those stupid urban legends anymore. No more downloading 10 MB videos showing how bad Pakistanis are. No more wasting time calculating how much MPs earn in India.

There you go netizen, the government tells you, "April Fool"

PS: Please notify me if you spot any sensitive content on this blog. I certainly don't want to go to prison leaving you people alone.

Update: This was an April Fool's post. The internet is useless already.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

End of Part 1

I just finished schooling. And I feel like Harry Potter at the end of The Deathly Hallows.

My school life had been what I believe it should have been. A perfect platform for life, a nice learning experience, and a lot of exposure.

To my juniors,

Here are some of the things I've learned from school.

  • Do 5 stupid things per day.
  • Ask 5 answer-less questions per day to 5 different teachers (or to 1 teacher if you are willing to take that risk)
  • Do not laugh inside the room of the principal.
  • If you don't actually have an illness, do not skip the morning assembly. Vice principal will be patrolling.
  • Never note down the time table. Teachers never follow it. Just keep all your books at school. You wouldn't be opening them at home anyway.
  • Know what day it is, every day. You don't want to go to school on a Sunday. Nor do you want to be in bed at 10 o'clock on a Monday morning. And always wear the right uniform, if you don't want to be standing out from the crowd.
  • Never be absent (unless you have conjunctivitis). Everything happens on the day you are absent.
  • Participate in every competition. Just tell your teacher you're attending without asking what the item is. If it's a quiz and you don't know what the answer is, create the funniest answer. If it's a literary item, make the most of the free time and paper you're given. If it's a stage item, just set the stage on fire.(In fact, preparing for some of these items will make you competent for situations that you may face later in your life)
  • If you don't play at least two games, you're good for nothing. The ground is one place (after the loo) where you're the king and you rein free. 
  • Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But fortunately at school you're always safe.
  • Some nights, life sucks. But it'll be alright by next morning.
  • Some days, life rocks. But it'll be over by the time you open the textbook.
  • If you are ever going for an excursion, make sure there are no temples in the area where you're going.
  • Find many reasons why parents meeting is canceled this month.
  • If you want to score 100%: Just chill out. If you can learn well, you can score cent.
  • If you really want to score 100%: Forget every word in this post. Our exam system is pretty much screwed up (as on the 22nd of March, 2011) that scoring 100 is impossible unless you waste a considerable amount of time mugging up the slightest details of your textbook. Stop enjoying creative pursuits in the core subjects (or extracurricular subjects). Learn what you're being taught. Repeat that again and again till you can easily reproduce portions of your textbook.  
  • Set realistic aims for your projects. If you really could make that 3 idiots helicopter on your own, you'd be in a special school. Nobody ever did a project that their seniors hadn't done.
  • Exams are designed to be hard. If you'll surely pass, write only what you know. If you'll surely fail, copying is fair, provided you learn what you copy.
  • When you need help, call someone.
  • When you feel really down, call your best friend.
  • Try to schedule your birthday on a holiday. It's a lot more healthier and cheaper.
  • Don't make the following birthday resolution "I'll start learning properly from today onwards". It never works. 
  • Don't think about the future. There's only the present.
  • If you break test tubes, just throw the pieces away before anyone sees. If you break the burette, you're dead.
  • Be active in house activities. But know when to slip out of teachers' sight. You seriously don't want to be 'Maveli' (or worse, his assistant) in the theme show. 
  • Choose what your heart says when you are alone, choose what the teacher says when one's around.
  • Play a lot of "truth or dare" games because you'll soon realize that life's a big dare
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • The best part of volunteering is the food. Ask for it.
  • Always eat from your friend's plate. Your mom's food, you can always have.
  • Be sure that the unexpected will happen. If you're singing, the mic won't work, if you're dancing, the song'll stop in between, if you're playing tabala there'll be a gaping hole in its face.
  • If you don't have a love or at least a crush there's nothing to worry. It just means that you haven't attained puberty, and you have a lot of time left. If you are in love, you know.
  • Never lose hope. One day she'll say "yes".
  • But friends, if you don't have friends, at least a handful of them, it means you're not learning one lesson that school must teach you - to connect with people. Remember all those friendship forwards you receive everyday? Make them meaningful.
  • Do not keep anything for the future (Except may be homeworks, they may be forgotten by the teacher). Because time flies, and you may miss things for ever. If you have nights when you lose breath in your bed thinking of how dear your friends are to you then please, for the sake of love, tell them that.
  • Finally, have fun. Have a lot of it.
    Shatter window panes
    Break benches (in teams)
    Start a fight (for fun)
    Do no pay vehicle fee. Enter the bus without a bus pass
    Miss the bus, walk home, try to earn a suspension en route
    Hack the main computer in the lab, copy all official photos to your pen drive, put up a status update as proof (remember to log out and clear history)
    Sit in another class and see whether the teacher notices you
    Increase the volume of the song gradually till its barely audible for the teacher
    Push others into the swimming pool. (Keep your watch inside the bag before doing so)
    Swap class name boards
    Pass chits asking about the teacher's love bite
    Conduct polls and debates on who's better - Mammootty or Mohanlal
    Form circles and conspire
  • And do every imaginable thing on earth. If you can't do it in school, you can't do it anywhere else. (From doing business selling pirated version of kaspersky, to digging hole for planting your own tree sapling)
And then, one day it'd all end. All your friends excluding none will wave you bye and go away. Some may even go without a glance at you. May be you'd meet them again some day. Hey, that was the story my father wrote. Everyone will be on facebook. If not, they'd keep texting. If they don't you can. And then you'll join a nice college (if you're lucky) and make a lot of friends there. And then you'll decide the climax of the story - you can forget everyone, or do keep in touch.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Syncing Firefox History, Bookmarks and Possibly More Across Profiles

When firefox fans start installing multiple addons at least one of them will slow down firefox to a point at which they decide to switch to chrome.

Some users find that running "firefox -P" or "firefox -profilemanager" will show a dialogue which can be used to create a new firefox profile (which will function as a fresh installation of firefox)

But then, when you create multiple profiles you run into the issue of syncing history, passwords, bookmarks, cookies...

You can solve this problem using no addon, no plugin, no dropbox integration, no internet at all. The answer is symbolic links.

Linux users must be familiar with symbolic links, but it's available in windows too.
(For those who don't know how a symbolic link is different from a shortcut: If you make a symbolic link on your desktop to a file in a remote corner of your external hard disk, the OS will treat that file as being present on the desktop itself, but the actual location (in terms of magnetic memory) will be, as you guessed, the other device. This works for folders too)

Here's more about symbolic links (and making them)

Now, exploiting it for syncing firefox.

  • If you are not already using firefox, switch to it.
  • Start firefox with -P parameter. ("firefox -P")
  • Create a new profile, named "fresh"
  • Open the firefox profile directory (Help --> Troubleshooting information)
  • Backup your deafult profile (if you care about it) (just copy it to a new name)
  • Copy this post to notepad (or leafpad) and close firefox (I think this's important because firefox won't allow you to touch its files at least while it's alive)
  • In the directory of the fresh profile find files like bookmarks.html, cookies.sqlite, downloads.sqlite, formhistory.sqlite, permissions.sqlite, places.sqlite, prefs.js, search.json, search.sqlite, signons.sqlite and folders like searchplugins, and the folders of whatever extension you love.
  • Delete them! (Moving to trash will be wise)
  • Create symbolic links to the corresponding files and folders in the default profile.

Done!

Now, for making sure you haven't connected the superior venacava to the aorta:
  • Run firefox, first with 'fresh' profile.
  • Check that you can access history, etc.
  • Quit and run the default profile.
  • Make sure you haven't lost years worth of history there.

Statutory warning: Messing up sqlite files is known to cause irrecoverable damage. But I've been extremely happy with this particular workaround. If you can find the right way using the internet when you're in doubt, you can definitely try this at home.

And, happy browsing.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Call For Donation

Read The Hindu : States / Tamil Nadu : Woman gifts daughter sight on Women's Day

It's so very easy to make use of your body after your death. And it may be via donation that you did the greatest deed of kindness in your whole 'life'.

You can call 1919 (toll free, India) to reach the nearest eye bank, and ask them to pick the cornea of your nearest relative (or if you're the dead, make arrangements that your dearest will call the eye bank). Or if 1919 doesn't work checkout this list of eye banks in India. (I was surprised that there was an eye bank even at Dhanalakshmi hospital, Kannur)

Here's an FAQ about Eye Donation

If you want to step it up, and make a pledge, here's an Eye Pledge Form (there's also an eye bank locator under it) where you can pledge your eyes and be a sight ambassador (like I just did)

There's another way you can make use of your carcass. Body Donation. This may be a bit more tough to set up. Because you have to prepare an affidavit before your death and submit it to the nearest medical college. (But burning or burying your body also takes a lot of effort). And do tell this to your grandparents (:P There's no point in running away from the obvious)

PS: A related thought. If they make assisted suicide legal, will they also allow live people who want to die let science make maximum use of their live body by allowing fatal experiments (like observing the regeneration of liver, removing parts of brain, etc) take place? I would die to do that.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mantras, Positive Self Talks: Motivation at Your Tongue Tip

We've all had it. Moments of slump, when the whole world seems to be crash landing on you. May be on the eve of an examination. May be while preparing for a very important meeting. Times when you feel let down.

Everyone has those moments of desperation.
And a lot of losers give up at these moments of weakness.

But winners react differently.
They close their eyes, or look straight into them in a mirror.

And they talk directly to themselves:

"I am a winner. I have a dream. I have a vision. And I do everything I can to be there. I am happy. And I am strong. I am invincible. I defeat all troubles that come my way. I finish first. I finish strong. I am a winner. I am a champion, to be precise. I rock. I am awesome.  I am the alpha and the omega. I am God!"

They finish telling that (if they can wait till the end) and they are off to slay the trouble they had been facing. And then there won't be anything on earth to stop them.

Confidence is like a nuclear bomb. You set it off, and it gulps everything in sight.

And the detonator is self talk. Tested. Proven.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Small Guide to Critical Thinking

Whatever you read, whatever you hear, whatever you think, ask yourself:

Could the opposite be true?

That's all there is to critical thinking.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

(Un)happy Women's Day?


What makes girls today wish they were born as boys?
Why has every Women's Day article I read today focused on the injustice towards women and not on their achievements?
Why do they even have to build a site explaining women's rights in Islam?
Why did I think of founding the sisbro organization (a volunteer organization that helps unaccompanied sisters arriving at railway stations and bus stands to reach safety by sending them authorized brothers seeking nothing but sisterly affection in return for their care)? And why did I have to worry about it being a failure too?

The answer - not soul stirring, not at all surprising, but the most ignored and the least sought out - is that we, as a people or a society, have not grown. How progressive can we expect an average member of a society described by the supreme court as having "low ethical levels and rampant commercialization" to be? We are immature. We are incomplete. We are illiterate. We still lack the mindset, the outlook, and even the vision of a constructive culture.

And above all we are not ready to correct ourselves.
Or to be more accurate, we are not brave enough.

We are not brave enough to:
  1. think about different solutions
  2. question injustice
  3. publicly and outrightly reject commercialization (especially the exploitation of women's sexuality, and men's carnal desires)
  4. swim against the stream (the stream which's been flowing only in one direction from the beginning of time)
  5. break taboos
  6. raise our voice
  7. stop 'giving' equal status to women
  8. let high school students of either gender sit together (I'm particularly adamant about this one. You believe they have their own different set of problems? I believe that's been the problem behind all these problems. Girls and boys may have different bodies, but they do have the same minds. Their problems may be different in appearance, but they're the one and the same. And there's no compromise on this point)
  9. realize that giving birth is not the only work a woman can do efficiently (especially considering the growing population of India)
  10. ask ourself whether it's easier to talk about sex and birth prevention or about rape and sexual abuse.
  11. start accepting what's good in other cultures (especially the western culture. Ya. I know that's gonna make earn me a tag of a pro-western idiot. But there's no denying the fact that many of the problems that our gloated 10000 year old culture faces now, is not at all a menace in the west, because their culture by design eliminates the causes of these)
  12. stop editing and re-editing your comment under this post to conform to 'moral standards' and start changing the world
  13. go and get a life
    Most Indians have nothing to think about other than their boring work (which, we don't realize is, not compulsory), and gossips. There are cooler things to do in life. (And when your mind is stretched by a new idea it never regains its original dimensions)
Happy Women's Day, then.
    PS: As I say that, I see another steamy song on the tv in which the fingers of the hero grazes over the bare skin of that sleeveless, and probably shameless new actress, and I (even I d:) can't control the animal instincts hard coded into my brain.

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    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Mr Ravi Shankar, I'll Contribute To Your Program, After You Do This

    This is with reference to the claims by the 8-10 middle aged women who wanted a contribution from me towards the 'Aanandotsavam' program to be held by Shri (another Shri?) Ravi Shankar at Kannur on February 15th, 2011.

    (Since the whole Art of Living foundation claims to enlighten people and make them grow internally, which is exactly what I try to do with this blog, you can of course consider this article just as one grown out of jealousy. Or you can THINK)

    I WILL contribute towards the program, provided you agree to comply with the following requests.

    1. Agree that any breathing exercise can improve concentration up to an extent. And when this happens human mind is drawn away from worries into the breathing pattern. And so, tasks which are done without those worries get done much more efficiently.
      And that whatever breathing you teach (with copyright) is not drastically different from this modus operandi.

    2. Agree that since you have got a copyright for Sudarshana Kriya (or whatever) only to prevent commercialization by others, you will allow organizations or people who are ready to teach this free of cost, to do so, without any copyright concerns coming in the way.

    3. Agree to make your income/expenditure balance sheets public and transparent and easy to access (and clear so that my friends in the commerce section will not find it difficult to calculate)

    4. Agree that the spiritual knowledge (that those women said brings mental calm) can be achieved not only through your course (paying heftily) but also from a local library and/or a local guru (because there are so many of them, and they can't be all frauds; if that's the case you'd be the only one who's genuine) at whatever concession fee they offer.

    5. Agree that spirituality sells, like sex do.

    6. Agree that whatever is said in the following sites against you are wrong, baseless and not to be trusted (if possible, with proof):
    If you agree with all of these. And still live to see me, I will surely give you the contribution. But don't expect more than Rs. 100. That's all I have in my purse, because Google Adsense isn't paying anything. (And the reason why I still continue blogging is not the hope that I can make a living online, but that there are people who read what I write and I'm obliged to them)

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