24 December 2004

Filling in for me

I must take Mr Orwell's help in saying what I wanted to say. He said it in 1946 in an essay entitled Politics and the English Language. I will come back to this later, if I can. Right now my mind's resisting production. But here's Mr Orwell taking over:

I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

I am sure you would have come across such ludicrous shit-pieces. As a cub reporter, I loved to demolish edits by the assistant editor of one of the leading dailies of Bangalore. That's why sometimes I cant help smiling a little when I hear youngsters being asked to read newspapers to improve their English. That's where the trouble starts, sigh.

22 December 2004

Text that glows, smells yummy, is sensous to the touch...

The Voices of Village Square

“Hai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-aireeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

O, dear, sweet Harry, with your French gangster-movie bangs, your Ski Shop turtleneck sweater and your Army-Navy Store blue denim shirt over it, with your Bloomsbury corduroy pants you saw in the Manchester Guardian airmail edition and sent away for and you sly intellectual pigeon-toed libido roaming in Greenwich Village – that siren call really for you?

“Hai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-aireeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Obviously Harry thinks so. There in the dusk on the south side of Greenwich Avenue, near Nut Heaven which is the intersection of Greenwich Avenue, Sixth Avenue, Eighth Street and Christopher Street, also known as Village Square, Harry stops and looks up at the great umber tower at 10 Greenwich Avenue. He can see windows but he can’t see through them. He gives a shy wave and thereby becomes the eighth man in half an hour to get conned by The Voices.

………

A Sunday Kind of Love

Love! Attar of libido in the air! It is 8.45 am. Thursday morning in the IRT subway station at 50th Street and Broadway and already two kids are hung up in a kind of herringbone weave of arms and legs, which proves, one has to admit, that love is not confined to Sunday in New York. Still, the odds! All the faces come popping in clots out of the Seventh Avenue local, past the King size Ice Cream Machine, and the turnstiles start whacking away as if the world were breaking on the reefs. Four steps past the turnstiles everybody is already backed up haunch to paunch for the climb up the ramp and the stairs to the surface, a great funnel of flesh, wool, felt, leather, rubber and steaming alumicron, with the blood squeezing through everybody’s old sclerotic arteries in hopped-up spurts from too much coffee and the effort of surfacing from the subway at the rush hour. Yet there on the landing are boy and a girl, both about eighteen, in one of those utter, My Sin, backbreaking embraces.

He envelops her not only with his arms but with his chest, which has the American teen-ager concave shape to it. She has her head cocked at a 90-degree angle and they both have their eyes pressed shut for all they are worth and some incredibly feverish action going with each other’s mouths. All around them, ten, scores, it seems like hundreds, of faces and bodies are perspiring, trooping and bellying up the stairs with arteriosclerotic grimaces past a showcase full of such novel items as Joy Buzzers, Squirting Nickels, Finger Rats, …


……………………

These were extracts from Tom Wolfe’s The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. No, its not fiction, though the tools that he uses are borrowed from fiction. Most of the stuff from this book is his articles published in Esquire and other magazines. The Voices of Village Square is an article on a detention center for women. He starts the story with the girls’ ‘siren calls’ at a passerby. He doesn’t let go of a detail, no way, not one: be it the feel, smell, or sound of the place. He paints word-pictures, and how!

But there’s more to the New Journalism that Wolfe heralded than just being something different. Language can tell, language can mask; it can clarify things or further muddy the pool. We accept any bullshit language thrown at us, and rarely understand what’s happening or why it is being thrown at us. If you care to look, you will find an agenda. The politics of incomprehensibility. More on that to follow soon.

About blogs, slimes, etc.

I know most of the ways The Times of India 'sells' itself. But what I read today beats it all. I am so sorry this guy has stopped writing. Such detailed documentation of the TOI's ways of journalism (sic). And come to think of it, he's an MBA, and not a journalist. Pasting his blog below:

May 08, 2004

The Times of India
Most of my regular readers know the extent of my ‘love’ for the Slimes Times of India group and those who don’t can estimate the same from the fact that I have an entire damn
category dedicated to India’s most successfull and least professional media group.

Via reader Kalyan Raman and
Kitabkhana and Gouri Chatterjee at The Telegraph comes this gem of a piece about the complete lack of ethics, integrity and honesty at India’s (sadly) most popular media group - the Times of India Group.

On April 23, both the city supplements of Times of India in Mumbai and Kolkata carried a story titled “Sex and the City” on their front pages respectively. The screenshots are attached below(you will have to visit his site for the screenshots) and here are links to the web versions of the stories - Calcutta Times version and Bombay Times version.

The article(s) goes on to talk about the rising infidelity levels in the city(ies) with quotable quotes from people and psychiatrists like “for every four men who cheat, there are two women” and “Infidelity is no longer an eyebrow-raiser”. But this post is not about how the Times of India sensationalizes news items with risque quotes as they’ve been doing that for many years now. This post is about how the Times of India shamelessly reproduced the same article in two cities on the same day by just changing the names of the people in the story!

The articles are reproduced word-for-word with just a couple of minor changes to cover their tracks. Here are the minor changes:
“Ryan” in Bombay Times become “Raghav” in Calcutta Times
“Amit Patil(23)” in Bombay Times becomes “Amit Datta(23)” in Calcutta Times
“Social psychiatrist Dr.Anjali Chhabria” in Bombay Times becomes “psychiatrist Dr.Shiladitya Ray” in Calcutta Times
“Advocate Jai Vaidya” in Bombay Times becomes “advocate Indrajeet Bannerjee” in Calcutta Times.
What really takes the cake is the fact that the even the find-replace job was botched by the Times! In the Calcutta Times version they replaced “social psychiatrist Dr.Anjali Chhabria” with “psychiatrist Dr.Shiladitya Ray” in the first paragraph but forgot to do the same in the very next paragraph! So in Calcutta Times “psychiatrist Dr.Shiladitya Ray” conveniently morphs into “Dr.Anjali Chhabria” in the next paragraph! Sheesh!

Here’s a piece of advice to all those people who are still reading that dishrag…get a real newspaper! If you want gossip buy Filmfare/Stardust and if you want skin buy Debonair/Fantasy!

Note: The extended section of this post contains both the articles in question reproduced verbatim from the Times of India’s archives with the differences underlined.


...........................

The latest media take on blogging is by Time. Check it out.


17 December 2004

15 December 2004

Drug alert

Hey guys, Swapna put this information up on her blog. I am sure lot of us have consumed at least some of these. Quite of them are sold over the counter here in India. But please stop popping these pills. Bear a little pain, make some effort to find out alternative medicines, maybe even work out a lil more. The side effects of these drugs are scary. Please stay off them.

ANALGIN:This is a pain-killer. Reason for ban: Bone marrow depression.
Brand name: Novalgin

CISAPRIDE:Acidity, constipation. Reason for ban: irregular heartbeat
Brand name: Ciza, Syspride

DROPERIDOL: Anti-depressant. Reason for ban: Irregular heartbeat.
Brand name: Droperol

FURAZOLIDONE: Antidiarrhoeal. Reason for ban: Cancer.
Brand name: Furoxone, Lomofen

NIMESULIDE: Painkiller, fever. Reason for ban: Liver failure.
Brand name: Nise, Nimulid

NITROFURAZONE: Antibacterial cream. Reason for ban: Cancer.
Brand name: Furacin

PHENOLPHTHALEIN:Laxative. Reason for ban: Cancer.
Brand name: Agarol

PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE: Consumed for cold and cough. Reason for ban: stroke.
Brand name: D'cold, Vicks Action-500

OXYPHENBUTAZONE: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Reason for ban: Bone marrowdepression.
Brand name: Sioril

PIPERAZINE: Used to kill worms in the body. Reason for ban: Nerve damage.
Brand name: Piperazine

QUINIODOCHLOR: Anti-diarrhoeal drug. Reason for ban : Damage to sight.
Brand name: Enteroquinol

13 December 2004

At home ...

One of the most beautiful pieces of prose I have read:

A snowy-white wand lambent atop stood on the table in front of me. Watery wax overflowed from the puddle below the flame. Teardrops glistening in the buttery glow rolled onto the milky mini-stalactites on the sides of the candle.
Was such a bright glow crying? The enveloping gloom seemed to make it cry. Tears of joy. A swaying smile. It lit my face in the darkness. It was six in the evening.
The power cuts in the summers of the late 80s and early 90s in Kolkata were like seasonal rainfall, interminable. They called it load shedding. When the power suppliers shed their load, we had to sit in the dark. The light bulbs seem to set with the sun. Bulbs cannot hold a candle to sunlight but in those days night meant no light. Candles were the staple source of brilliance in the night.
It was the solitary sight during the so-called load shedding. The taper was an ancient but necessary thing I used to think. Why, it was Brutus who said "Get me a taper in my study, Lucius: / When it is lighted, come and call me here/" in Julius Caesar. Homework meant two candles - one for the room and the other for the study table. And when my eyes drifted from the books to the flame I was transported to another world, mesmerized by effulgence of the honey glow.
I looked in the mirror across the room. The reflection of the candle flickering behind me, or was it in my eyes? It was beautiful. The glow brightened. I saw a feminine face. Tears rolling down her cheeks. Like the candle in the dark. Her face looked pale in the candlelight. The flickering candlelight made me strain my eyes to look at her reflection. I shielded the flame with my fingers. The glow brightened. She wasn't there anymore. Who was she?
Did she have a story to tell? The thought disturbed me. Years later I thought I had seen in the reflection of the flame other’s stories. Waiting to be seen. Waiting to be heard. Waiting to be told. I wanted to be a voyeur who desired to see it all. And a raconteur trying to narrate it all…

10 December 2004

How it feels to be hungry

I didn't have a meal yesterday. Not because of emotional or monetary difficulties, but for a religious reason.

It had been years since I felt the emptiness of my stomach. Not that it was totally empty. I ate fruits, drank milk and juice, but didn’t have a solid meal. Yet, my stomach kept rumbling through the day. I kept returning to thoughts of food: when would I have my next meal, what would I eat, etc. By evening, I began to feel a little weak and sleepy.

Most of you who are reading this blog have perhaps never been forced to be hungry, and perhaps will never be. Like me. We may choose to skip a meal because of work pressure, emotional ups and downs, or might even had some monetary difficulties at some point in life. But very few of us are doomed to a life of hunger.

And nowadays, it's like hunger doesn't exist. It's hardly discussed among most people I know. I think I last discussed it when I was in journalism school.

How does it feel to be hungry, to be hungry almost everyday, to be empty and weak all over, with head spinning? And even when you get to eat, it would perhaps be rotten, or just a morsel. Then you see such brutal prosperity all around. Brutal, because it can never happen to you. Brutal, also because it strikes your eye so. Rich buggers are everywhere. Why wouldn't I want to steal, snatch, cheat, kill, if that would mean two square meals a day? Perhaps I would do that even if it didn't mean two square meals a day. Just for the heck of it. Just to get back at them. Yes.

Once in journalism school, a debate was on about why mainstream media sidelines poverty. One bhadralok woman said it was because no one was interested, no one wanted to read about poverty and that not many were affected by poverty issues. I asked, "So is no one affected by crime, congestion in cities, pollution, unemployment, etc?"

I still haven't understood how we can pretend that poverty doesn't affect us. Are we so blind, or dumb? Or are we just inhuman? I don't know. Survival concerns of the poor are being neglected.
Villages are increasingly becoming poorer, unlivable, depressing, and empty. The rich farmers' households are pretty intact. I know a good-looking, well educated boy from a prosperous family in my village who can't find a bride for himself. Reason: every girl wants to marry someone who lives in the city, even if it may be in a one-room hole. These trends are ominous. They are all around us. We can be aware of them, if we want to. More often than not, we choose not to.

We, the educated middle class, have no time to protest about anything, so caught up are we with daily routines, and weekend relaxations. Most of us think that all's well because there are huge shiny plasticky shopping malls coming up all around us; because everything is so accessible, and because there's water running in our taps. Because we can get on to the Net and blog. Because we can end any substantial conversation with a 'whatever.' I don’t want to paint generalized pictures, but it is the default setting.

Hunger is dangerous, for everyone, regardless of your agreeing or your knowing. Recently a slum 'caught fire' in Mumbai. For good reasons, I am sure. After all, don’t you want to build more of those plush apartments where you can cuddle up and watch the TV with your family?

08 December 2004

Passion defined

Warning: very personal blog

I never knew I could be so crazy about an actor until I first watched his movie. The movie was Satya. I was filled with sheer delight to see such talent, but I also remember thinking that this guy had no chance in Bollywood. Reason being I thought he was too good for Bollywood.

On seeing Manoj Bajpai's later films, I realised that he would probably never see a day in his life when he'd have no roles. One doesn’t necessarily have to get roles in big banner films to grow as an actor. Good actors bring to the character more than its conceived capacity. Of course, they can contain themselves within the character, too.

His eyes have an intensity that is so convincing. He just had to mouth the dialogues in Shool: his eyes had done the job for him. It didn’t take Samar Pratap Singh much to woo an already dazed audience.

You can hardly miss his simplicity, on screen or off screen. No nakhras, or attempts at creating colourful personas. And somehow, I have connected so easily with him. I find him so believable. There are things that he believes in that I share and respect. Sometimes, I think, he is too good to be true. Sometimes, it's like this guy could have been in my college, my village, just living across the street.

I have always loved acting and had even thought of choosing it as my profession. I have done very little acting, but whenever I get to see some good acting, I get so involved. Vicarious pleasure. I recently re-visited all but four of MB's movies, excluding the newest one. And I saw something I had missed before: MB had been so consummated by his roles that MB, the person, was seen nowhere. I mean, that in Satya he is Bhiku Mhatre; in Kaun he is this nosy stranger; in Ghaath he is Krishna Patil. When I say, 'he is,' I mean, 'he is.' 100%. Of course, he brings to each role that characteristic finesse. But there is no leftover.

Each character is filled with fresh and unique life, stands on his own, speaks with natural ease, sits and walks as only he would. A good actor would know when to switch on and off her 'self,' and yet retain her core sensibilities that make the portrayal of the character so special. This may be a little dense, but hold on. It's just this: the actor steps out of herself, steps into the character, and comes home again. For this to happen, two things are essential: a substantial knowledge of the self and a total awareness of the character. This is easier said than done.

When I watched Bandit Queen, and then Satya, and then Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, and then Aks and so on, I saw this happening. MB, the person, had dissolved into MB, the artiste. So I knew MB, so I didn’t know MB.

He has achieved this fluidity, this ease with his self and his characters. I once read in an interview of his that he had spent the night drinking beer in front of a Satya poster the day it released. Nothing can match the happiness you get when you do something that you were born for.

But my fears about Bollywood still persist. Its rarely able to give challenging scripts to a mature actor. I hope I am proved wrong.

01 December 2004

Where Google cant help me

Life is in disarray. Moving too fast. Damn slow sometimes.
Feels like great things are happening outside while I am sitting here typing this. Sigh.
No time to read, nor to write. Yet, I am not doing all the things that I want to.
Just no time. And sometimes I dont know what to do with it.
This too is not complete. How much more patience?
Want to go back to the start point. But am some way from it already.
No, its not that bad as it seems.
But sometimes I want to ..., let it be.
Music blaring in my ears. Cant hear it though.
Circle in the sand. Heaven is a place on earth.
When will I live the life I want to live? Where is it? One thing Google cant search for me.
Cathartic lines ...
Madness subsiding ...
Slowly.



24 November 2004

Love, or boredom?

Am pasting below excerpts from a recent chat conversation I had with a friend. We started by talking of ingrained values, how they are automatiocally accepted, of romantic vis-avis unromantic love, of love across the age barrier, etc. The conversation did open up some windows, but no flooding of light.

Darkness persists, provokes.

Friend: Is romantic love nothing but the working of hormones? Only a prelude to mating---which ends it all? Is it just Nature at work with its "propagation of the species"? Are we just the deluded?

Me: Romantic love is definitely a prelude to mating, but love doesnt have to end there all the time.

Friend: And what is un-romantic love? What attracts people to each other when there is no mating possibility?

Friend: No. It doesn't have to. But how does one explain eroticism creeping into parental or filial love and overtaking what would normally pass for parental love?

Me: Well, love doesnt have to be romantic. Maybe initially, it is. But it cant be starry eyed for long. What remains after the dust has settled, is either love or boredom

Friend: No, mating ends the "starry-eyed" business. But what then explains the problems created by eroticism overtaking other forms of love?

Me: Hm, i get what u say

Friend: "is either love or boredom"---yes, that's good. The question then is which remains? Boredom? Which is why couples cheat on each other? Or is "cheating" once again just the hormone-driven mating game again?
So two questions: 1. Love, or boredom---after the mating is over? 2. How does eroticism overtake other forms of love where it "normally" shouldn't appear?

Me: The first question, of course, each one has to answer for herself or himself. "But how does one explain eroticism creeping into parental or filial love and overtaking what would
normally pass for parental love" -- do u here Mean love that appears between 2 people of vast age differences? or do u mean incest?

Friend: And the second? How does one, for instance, explain the horrible incidents one reads of---of middle-aged men "raping" an infants? Molesting little children? Paedophiles? How does eroticism overtake "normal" affection? Just "perversity"? And how does such "perversity" work?

Me: the answer to Q 2 is beyond me

Friend: "love that appears between 2 people of vast age differences? or do u Mean incest?"---both. How does one explain this?

Me: Why cant love happen between 2 people of vast age differences?

Friend: "why cant love happen between 2 people of vast age differences?"---The problem is, it DOES happen ever so often. But why does it? It's not "normal" in the conventional sense, is it?

Me: Well, who's given a damn about 'conventional' anyways. I mean, incest, love of the kind discussed above, and homosexuality have always existed, despite social strictures to the contrary. The only difference is that people are now becoming more vocal about their sexual rights.

Friend: There is something akin to incest in such impulse, isn't it? The older man (let's say) begins with fond fatherly affection for a young girl (student/neighbour/whatever and then at some point begins to feel "strange" erotic attraction. The Lolita syndroMe . . . But why should it? Especially, if he remains fond and retains his initial fatherly feelings?

Me: Contradictory feelings, hm. But something else is the point here. We always expect a kind of uniformity, continuity, consistency, soMething explainable. We seek this in the world around us, as well as in the self. And when we find contradictory feelings: either around us, or in us, then we are destabilised, confused, sometimes disturbed. We dont realise that contradictions are but natural. Why the contradcition happens, well i dont know.

Friend: The question is, is the "inexplicable" to be viewed as just "kinky" behaviour---something inexplicable? But it happens ever so often---too often to be just wished away, right?

Me: yeah. Again, i wud want to wish away somethng like middle aged man raping infant, but not
something like love across generation gap.

Friend: But love across generation gap too isn't quite normal, is it?

Me: Unusual, yes, but not abnormal. Because eroticism is so different for everyone

Friend: "because eroticism is so different for everyone." But when it comes to patriarchal societies, the Lolita syndrome is quite common among older males. Wonder what it may have been in matriarchal set-ups? Did older women take young lover boys? There are some indications they did. Older woMen takeing young "beach boys" is something very common among young widows of old, rich landlords of Midnapur, West Bengal, for instance. Also, in western societies. Have you seen Liz Taylor in "Night of the Iguana"?

Me: nope

Friend: Middle-aged Liz Taylor is rich and is bored. And so she engages two "beach boys" to take her to the sea each day and stir her with love bites and foreplay till she wants them physically. The "beach boys" are young enough to be her sons.

Me: my point is: sex appeal doesnt always have to be bound by age. And that is what I meant by eroticism being different to everyone. Older men/women preferring younger people: well, we can think of substanital reasons for it. But if younger men/women prefer older people: it is unusal, but again it aint abnormal.

Friend: Too long have such incidents been dismissed as "kinky/perverseness" without any discussion on how all this works. There has never been any EFFORT to understand or analyse such things. At best oversimplifications such as "cheating/boredom" etc
Me: hm

Friend: ": but if younger men/women prefer older people"---that's rare. But why is it rare?

Me: because nature's dictates require mating to produe the best progeny. And old/young coupling may sometimes go against this dictate.


End of conversation.

18 November 2004

Internet is shit

The Internet never was and never will be a credible source of information, unless you know the source of information. And even that is not a guarantee.

But I still wouldnt say Internet is shit. Its full significance can only be grasped by people bound by the culture of secrecy.


09 November 2004

Non-geeks of the world live long!

Something that made my day: computers are not that smart after all.

At some point in life, the cursed comp has handed out to each one of us some gibberish error message. And made us feel stupid, coz we couldnt decipher the gibberish. How could we, its gibberish after all.

An article in the Economist, damn, I cant give the link, because its premium content, assures us that it is the comp, and not we who are stupid. A friend had made the same point a few days ago, but I didnt thnk much of it, because he was a geek. And geeks, I thought, can afford to look down on the comp, not non-geeks like me, who are forever trying to avoid the next error message.

The point is that, technology does not serve its purpose if it makes life more complex, and not simpler for everyone. If only geeks can be comfortable with computers, it cannot have a very strong mass following. Read: no market. If it has to be all-pervasive, it has to be all-friendly.

Again, its not as if geeks find comps manageable all the time: the article begins with an MIT prof whining about his comp the way you or I would. So IT, as it stands today, is flawed. Yippppppppppeeeeeeeee!! All IT majors from Intel to IBM to Microsoft agree that the challenge now is to simplify things. Intel has introduced the 'on-demand business' concept; others have their own jargon.

Ha, I cant stop smiling. If you dont make it simple enough, you geek, you just aint smart enough to figure me out: I am analog, not digital.

08 November 2004

Zaheera Sheikh

This post comes a bit late, thanks to Blogger not loading on Friday.

Zaheera Sheikh's turnaround is critical to how communal politics will turn in India. The truth will never be known, of course. There will be many truths. But Modi is happy for now.

Also, on Saturday, the different hues of saffron were on display. Bal Thackeray's estranged son is set to join the NCP. Also, the VHP said it would choose Hindutva over BJP, if it came to that.


03 November 2004

Of raisin sized brains

Ha, I cant believe it that Bush is leading, though by a slim margin. Shucks. The other day, I watched Question Time on BBC. And Clinton's speech writer said that the majority of American voters did not have a clear understanding of either candidate. Also, they believed that their choice is seconded by the world in general.

I KNOW HE'S RIGHT.

02 November 2004

Questions, questions

A friend asked, "Is homosexuality nature's solution to overpopulation?"

Is it, really? What drives people to be homosexual? At what point in life do people turn gay? Or, were they always so inclined?

Do homosexual people have no desire to leave some of their trace on earth, that is, to reproduce? And hence, is it nature's solution to overpopulation? If yes, is it welcome for that reason?

Is homosexuality in the genes? Or is it a modern day phenomenon? Is it natural? Will it always be a fringe phenomenon?

…………….

Also, is lesbianism the best guarantee of women's empowerment? Sexuality is a double-edged weapon, remember? Let there be no penetration/perpetration of violence? Is that why men are intolerant of lesbianism, as it makes them dispensable?

Do we accept that man-woman relationships fail, by default? Because men just cant understand how women feel, and vice-versa? Could lesbians have more fulfilling relationships? No complications, eh? At least, no unwanted pregnancies to worry about. Less mess?

Any answers?

28 October 2004

Rasheda Kausar

Dont dig deep, just scratch the surface. And you'll find so many women like Rasheda Kausar, both in rural and urban India. I have interviewed a bunch of their tribe, in my brief career as a journalist. Their confidence, inspite of what they have gone through, will leave any corporate, 'personality developed' woman sadly wanting.

No sprucing up, they are always naturally 'packaged.' The strength of a woman is indeed overawing.

Rasheda Kausar
Businesswoman, Bhagalpur, Bihar

In her 47 years of existence, Rasheda Kausar's proudest possession has been a 15-year-old sewing machine. Not a Pentium-era contraption, just a chip of the old block that's now her life. (Read more ...)

Remember Salumarada Thimmakka?

26 October 2004

Mermaid


scrapatoriumPosted by Hello

I am right, you are dead

A god is nowhere born, yet everywhere
But Rama's sect rejects that fine distinction -
The designated spot is sanctified, not for piety but
For dissolution of yours from mine, politics of hate
And forced exchange - peace for a moment's rapture.
They turn a mosque to rubble, stone by stone,
Condemned usurper of Lord Rama's vanished spot
Of dreamt epiphany. Now a cairn of stones
Usurps a dream of peace - can they dream peace
In iconoclast Utter Pradesh?

I want my mom forever

When my parents came over for Dasara last week, I realized that mom is growing old. She complained of sleep problems. Not very serious, though. But it pained me to see the onslaught of age on her. Because she is such a young-looking, beautiful, lively, friendly, 'cool,' person.

When the pillars you lean on, succumb to gradual unavoidable forces, it is a little unnerving. That means, someday you will be without those pillars. Of course, thousands of people have never had any pillars in the first place. But I have always had them. It's difficult to think of a time without her. She's my best friend.

25 October 2004

Dasara dolls


I think this is the Dashaavatara Posted by Hello

got an amazing angle Posted by Hello

Raja & Rani Posted by Hello

More Dasara Kollu pics Posted by Hello

Dasara dolls arranged by the elderly couple who live upstairs in my apartment. Posted by Hello

19 October 2004

Microsoft PowerPoint and the decline of civilization

I heard this and jotted down some points while listening. It is a must-think-about. Pasting the points (hee hee):

Microsoft Powerpoint symbolises the ...

urge to summarise, reduce and truncate
eternal standoff between content and form

Everything becomes a sales pitch
Info has to be uniformly accessible
Forced simplicty; reduces your capacity to think, to communicate
Info presented thus tends to be soft, woolly
Every slide would be like reading a brochure
Parents love it, because they think that the children are learning something new. Teachers love it because parents love it because children love it.
It makes points, not conversation. It is for a corporate setting; merchandising.
It represents the controlling tendencey in contemporary life.
Simplify, Reduce, Oversimplify.

Critics say it is...
a crash course in stupidity
death by a thousand bullet points.

If you read this, please go and listen to it. The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation says it all, of course.

Veerappan is dead

Cant believe it. This guy was a terror to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu police for three long decades. A creation of bureaucratic farce and political conveniences. Maybe he threatened to spill beans. And his usefulness, too, would have reduced for the powers that be. It is a great relief. But there is news of increasing Naxal activity in the Western Ghats. The society that produced a Veerappan can well and has in the past churned out similar phenomena.

A remnant of the colosseum days?

I am reading The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe. He heralded new journalism in the 60s, I think. Sir introduced me to Wolfe and his work. I have consciously tried to follow the tenets of new journalism. Will write more about it tomorrow. But here is something interesting from the book: demolition derbies. I ran a search on AOL and paste below what I found:

The family that demos together, stays together

Some crash for money. Some crash for love. Some crash to feel what it's like to survive.

Demolition derby is an Industrial Age ritual of redemption and resurrection — born, possibly, out of a drive to take things broken beyond all rational hope of repair, and let them live again... The basic premise of demolition derby is simple: the last car able to move is the winner. However, to become a winner is anything but simple. To win a demolition derby requires a combination of preparation, skill, strategy, and luck.

Demolition derby competitions generally consist of four to eight heats whose winners advance to the feature event. To begin each heat, ten to twenty stripped-down, wildly painted cars rumble into the arena with introductions from the announcer and heartfelt cheers from their supporters in the stands. Drivers line up their cars opposite one another, or around the perimeter of the arena, generally with their vehicle's rear end facing the center. Concrete highway barriers, telephone poles, or huge heavy-equipment tires laid side-by-side are used to delineate the area of competition, which is wet down to create a muddy "playing field." The mud serves as a safety factor and creates an added challenge to the competitors, as it keeps vehicle speeds low, and makes navigation difficult. Upon the judge's signal, the crowd counts down. When the checkered flag drops, drivers ram the pedal to the metal. Chaos ensues for a few minutes, and then the action slows down as the cars batter one another into submission. Tires and radiator hoses pop in resounding resonance, drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd. Thick clouds of blue exhaust and white steam rise and hang ominously over the arena. One by one the cars lurch to a halt, some due to mechanical failure, others from structural damage. The last two cars moving are declared the heat winners, and the judges or fans select a third car to also compete in the feature event at the end of the evening.

Read more

15 October 2004

Strong stomach recommended

After I found this, I am curious if there is a website dedicated to poop. Am not checking, though.

Some interesting articles I found on Ooze:

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND
Filthy Town!


England's second largest city rose to prominence as an industrial powerhouse in the 19th century. Growth and unfettered capitalism combined to create a deadly stew of filth. The city is currently experiencing a post-industrial rennisance turning its old infrastructure —canals, trains, and factories— into picturesque views from expensive new lofts.

The finger

Giving someone "the finger" is one of the basest violations in modern culture, but its origins date back over 2500 years. The first written record of the insult occurred in ancient Greece, where the playwright Aristophanes (the Adam Sandler of his day) made a crude joke mixing up the middle finger and the penis. Even back then, the bird was considered an aggressive, phallic put-down.

By jabbing a threatening phallus at your enemy like a wild animal, you aren't just belittling him, but also making him your sexual inferior. In Greek comedies, actors often appeared with long leather flaps tied to their belts in a representation of the male appendage. These actors slapped each other around with their 'comedy dicks' in a bit of wacky shtick akin to today's whoopee cushion. Yet, the average Greek citizen probably couldn't afford (and didn't want) to wear his or her own leather cock around the Acropolis. Instead, these ordinary Janes and Platos called upon the substitute wieners within their own hands to mock, threaten, and humiliate opponents.

And boy, did it. When the Romans imported the art, music, and culture of the Greeks, the finger came along, too. Roman Emperor Caligula, a pioneer in perversity, frequently shocked his citizens by forcing them to kiss his middle finger instead of his hand. One of his subjects, Cassius, who Caligula often taunted as being too effeminate, finally had enough humiliation and assassinated him. Clearly, the bird was not to be taken lightly.

During the Middle Ages, the finger went underground. It was still known, but the Catholic Church frowned upon its use, as the middle finger was supposed to be holy in the Mass. The unholy insult lurked deep within the hearts of filthy- minded folks everywhere, hiding from sight until the 19th century when it began to crop up again thanks to a new invention -photography.

Find the full article at http://www.ooze.com/finger/html/history.html

08 October 2004

Finds of the day

http://www.wordspy.com/

Google bombing (GOO.gul bawm.ing) n. Setting up a large number of Web pages with links that point to a specific Web site so that the site will appear near the top of a Google search when users enter the link text.
—Google bomb n.

metrosexual (met.roh.SEK.shoo.ul) n. An urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.
—metrosexuality n.

06 October 2004

I am feeling lucky

Ok, go to Google and type: miserable failure, and click the 'I am feeling lucky' button.

Try this with 'slimes of India'

and

'French victories'

Enjoy maadi ;)

05 October 2004


Red chilli in Korea from http://joeyjoejoe7.blogspot.com/ Posted by Hello

04 October 2004


The perfect family Posted by Hello

This is Joshua, Guido's son. If Benigni and Braschi were indeed to have a kid, he would probably look like this guy.  Posted by Hello

Life is beautiful, really.

I watched Life is Beautiful on Saturday. I was alone at home, and when the movie ended, it gave me such a jolt. This was one movie which had me grounded. I had no readymade reactions. First, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that Guido (Roberto Benigni) is dead, after all. Secondly, it is a movie that's set in Fascist Italy. And about half the movie is about life of the three leading characters in a concentration camp. You cant see a speck of blood though in the entire movie. Yet, the movie is so beautiful, simple, and shocking.

I am copy pasting the summary of the movie, for those who have not been as lucky as me:

"At the center of the fable is Guido (Roberto Benigni) — an enchanting individual with childlike innocence and grand dreams of owning his own bookshop. It’s 1939 and he has come to the Tuscan town of Arezzo with his poet friend Ferruccio (Sergio Bustric). With unabashed humor and joy, the two seek fortune and romance, ignoring the growing anti-Semitism and Fascist government that surrounds them.
Guido falls in love with Dora, a beautiful young school teacher (Nicoletta Braschi, the Italian actress who has starred in most of Benigni’s films). Unfortunately, the woman he calls his “Princess” is already engaged. Worse, she is engaged to the local Fascist official with whom he has had a run-in. Guido, however, is not deterred and a fairy tale romance ensues.
Several years later — Guido and Dora are married and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini), and Guido has finally opened the bookshop of his dreams. But now, the occasional bigotries Guido once ignored have become Racial Laws with which he must come to terms. Throughout it all, Guido determines to shield his son from the brutal reality governing their lives. This determination becomes a matter of life and death when Guido and his son are sent to a concentration came three months before the war’s end. Of her own accord, and out of her love for them, Dora deports herself on the same train.
Now, in this unimaginable world, Guido must use his bold imagination and every ounce of his indefatigable spirit to save those he loves."

There are no profound cinematic statements: like oh-so-perfect freezes, or clich├ęs. The language is simple, lucid, and brief. Sure, there is loads of humour. So where is the pain of the Holocaust? It is in your mind. I mean to say, Benigni has chosen to not talk of pain. But he isn’t really turning away. Else, he wouldn’t have chosen the theme. The narrative of the movie is as simple as the protagonist. Throughout the movie, the audience is always conscious of the historic situation: like when Guido pulls down the shutter of his shop, you can clearly see the graffiti on the shutter that says: Jew shop.
I have seen The Pianist. Good movie, no doubt. But LIB is more about how things happen 'just like that' in life. Guido went marching to his death. His son saw him go and giggled. He never realized his dad would be dead. We don’t see Guido dead. But that's how it is. Larger-than-life events happen with no warning, no alarms, no sound effects. You are born. And you are dead. Just like that. Guido chose to laugh all the way to his death. You can take it as you will, but you cant deny that life is indeed beautiful.
I'll have to see this movie again. It's kind of decoded my response system.

01 October 2004

Mad Girl's Love Song

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

- Sylvia Plath.

Absolutely love this poem. Everyone is a mad girl at one time or the other.

On a lazy Friday afternoon in office

I want to get away from the city. From the honking cars and carbon monoxide. From the sight of plastic-eating cows.
Want to get up in the morning and smile. Want to read each letter of the newspaper like a novel. Savour each empty minute like cappuccino.
Want to do some goddamn uncool thing like reading a book and staying at home.
To do something about the overflowing dustbin near my house, like joining Janaagraha.
Want to look into your eyes and make a face at you.
Want to answer a child's questions about why there aren’t any black flowers.
Want to sit with my granma (god, she's here for a very short time) and tape all the home remedies she knows, so I can tell my kid.
Want to stare into a starry smokeless sky and not know when I fell asleep.
Want to earn a lot of money and adopt a child, and many more, God willing.
Want to have a flat tummy ;)
So goes my life …

Right now, my mind is vacant, courtesy my job. I am beginning to learn to switch it off and on. I am not thinking or feeling anything. Just reading random blogs, listening to random music. As I write this, I am beginning to miss home, parents, loved ones, friends, and want to be any place other than office. Sigh, tranquility is short-lived. But work goes on :(

29 September 2004

Jnanapith awardee pissing!

A couple of days ago my colleagues and I had the privilege of seeing a Jnanpith awardee pissing on the road in front of a tennis court. This was near my house in JP Nagar. I didn’t know I was in the company of such illustrious people. My colleague, who lives next to the tennis court, told us that the roadside pissing was part of Mr Jnanpith's daily routine!

………..

Ok, from today onwards, I will post my take on at least one news item that I come across. I make this resolution in public with the hope that I will stick to it. So here goes …

In their election manifesto released yesterday, the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition in Maharashtra have made just a passing reference to Veer Savarkar, and concentrated instead on sops instead such as rice at Rs 3 to the poor. This is a marked departure from the 'India Shining' Style campaign. So now everyone's looking for the non-urban non-Hindutva fanatic, plain & simple poor Indian. Quite understandable, after the Lok Sabha elections.

27 September 2004

Just a thought

I wanted so much to blog the last week. Just didnt happen.

Dad's birthday is approaching fast, and I am still trying to think of a good gift for him. This one always leaves me stumped: gifts for parents. One of the hardest things to do. What possibly could you give them? They have given you everything.

I was falling asleep with these thoughts in my head, when it suddenly struck me that I had parents whom I loved and who loved me back. But there are kids who have learnt to fear and hate their parents. The first persons a child learns to love or trust would be her parents. What happens when this love is forced to turn to hate? What happens when the trust is breached? I wouldn’t like to know.

21 September 2004

This happens only in India?!

The Supreme Court recently reversed the Himachal High Court's dismissal of the case filed by the parents of a minor girl, who became pregnant after being repeatedly raped by her teacher, who had threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

The Himachal High Court judge acquitted the rapist-teacher on the unheard-of ground that "there was no evidence to prove the Class IV student had not consented to sex"!!!! What exactly was the judge thinking then? Did he mean that a class IV girl (average age: 10-11) could consent to sex? And as a concerned friend observed, if there was no evidence to prove that she had not consented to sex, then was there any evidence to prove that she had? Isn’t the judge aware that a minor's 'consent' to sex (whatever that is) amounts to nothing?

Again, the Supreme Court's decision, too, was far from desirable. Not only was the teacher sentenced to a ridiculous seven years in prison, but also he was not banned from any teaching post after his release.

Where can we go from here? A HC judge who thinks a kid could have consented to sex, and then a SC which brushes such perverseness under the mat … Why does the world have to be so absurd?

About Bangalore

Recently, I was forwarded a mail devoted to Bangalore bashing. It said that Bangalore’s boom was only because of IT, and apart from that Bangalore had little else to offer. Its transport was in a mess, what with the international airport promising to take off since the author was in her mother’s womb, etc. It went on along these lines.

True, Bangalore’s IT boom has been way over-hyped. That is, if you’re an IT person, you can rock here. But otherwise, it’s much the same for the rest of us. Except for costly modes of transport, (artificially) skyrocketing real estate prices, choking traffic, lung-related problems. For the non-IT person, this city can be the same as any other metro.

The present state government ignored the city in the budget, to The Times of India’s general indignation. The software majors threatened to go away. The city was supposed to tremble. Maybe the city did, dependant as it is on the IT moolah. Of course after a day or two of gimmicking, the state government behaved and made up with the techies.

If Bangalore is lacking in infrastructure as everyone seems to be saying, my question is how then must be the ‘hinterland’ (a TOI term) faring? Surely it must be hopeless out there. Well, I know it is, except for maybe Mangalore and Mysore. For Bangalore’s sake, there has to be more IT decentralisation. There’s a limit to how much this city can take, there’s a limit to the dreams it can fulfill.

Actually, this blog makes me think of 2-3 possible blogs. Sometime soon I want to write about Janaagraha. Am thinking of enrolling as volunteer. Maybe the post will come after that.

There’s more to write about Bangalore, too. The cultures and sub-cultures breeding here are quite interesting. Hmmm.

15 September 2004

Satyajit Ray

I absolutely dig Satyajit Ray. I found an essay written by Amartya Sen on him: Satyajit Ray and the art of Universalism: Our Culture, Their Culture. What better thing could I want? The full essay can be found at http://satyajitray.ucsc.edu/articles/sen.html. Posting excerpts:

... A deep respect for distinctiveness is combined, in Ray's vision, with a recognition of internal diversity and an appreciation of the need for genuine communication. Impetuous cosmopolitans have something to learn from his focus on distinctiveness, but it is the growing army of communitarian and cultural "separatists" — increasingly more fashionable in India and elsewhere, that most needs to take note of the persistence of heterogeneity at the local level.

... We live in a time in which many things are increasingly common, and the possibility that something important is being lost in this process of integration has aroused understandable concern.

... At the broader level of "Asia" rather than India, the separateness of "Asian values," and their distinction from Western norms, has often been asserted, particularly in east Asia, from Singapore and Malaysia to China and Japan. The invoking of Asian values has sometimes occurred in rather dubious political circumstances. It has been used to justify authoritarianism (and harsh penalties for alleged transgressions) in some east Asian countries.

... Even though he (Ray) emphasized the difficulties of intercultural communication, Ray did not take cross-cultural comprehension to be impossible.

... The difficulties of understanding each other across the boundaries of culture are undoubtedly great. This applies to the cinema, but also to other art forms, especially literature. The inability of most foreigners, even of other Indians, to grasp the beauty of Rabindranath Tagore's poetry (a failure that we Bengalis find so exasperating) is a good illustration of this problem. Indeed, the thought that these non-appreciating others are being willfully contrary and obdurate (rather than being thwarted by the barriers of languages and translations) is a frequently aired suspicion.

... This vindication of his belief that he will be understood, barriers notwithstanding, tells us about the possibility of understanding across cultural boundaries. It may be hard, but it can be done.

... The graphic portrayal of extreme wretchedness, and of heartlessness towards the downtrodden, can itself be exploited, especially when supplemented by a goodly supply of vicious villains. At a sophisticated level, such exploitation can be seen even in Salaam Bombay!, the wonderfully successful film by Meera Nair. Nair's film is powerfully constructed and deeply moving; and yet it mercilessly exploits not only the viewer's sympathy and sentimentality, but also her interest in identifying "the villain of the piece" who might be blamed for all this suffering.

... At a more mundane level, City of Joy does the same with Calcutta, with clearly identified villains who have to be confronted. By contrast, even when Ray's films deal with problems that are just as intense (such as the coming of the Bengal famine in Ashani Sanket), the comfort of a ready explanation through the presence of villains is avoided. In Ray's films, villains are remarkably rare, almost absent. When terrible things happen, there may be nobody clearly responsible. And even when someone is clearly responsible, as Dayamoyee's father-in-law most definitely is responsible for her predicament, and ultimately for her suicide, in Devi, he, too, is a victim, and by no means devoid of humane features.

... Ray does not hesitate to indicate how strongly Pather Panchali — the profound film that immediately made him a film maker of international distinction — was influenced by Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. He saw Bicycle Thief within three days of arriving in London for a brief stay, and noted: "I knew immediately that if I ever made Pather Panchali — and the idea had been at the back of my mind for some time — I would make it in the same way, using natural locations and unknown actors." Despite this influence, Pather Panchali, of course, is a quintessentially Indian film, in subject matter and in style, and yet a major inspiration came from an Italian film. The Italian influence did not make Pather Panchali anything other than an Indian film; it simply helped to make it a great Indian film.

The growing tendency in contemporary India to champion the need for an indigenous culture that has "resisted" external influences and borrowings lacks credibility as well as cogency. It has become quite common to cite the foreign origin of an idea or a tradition as an argument against its use, and this has been linked to an antimodernist priority.

... The characterization of an idea as "purely Western" or "purely Indian" can be very illusory. The origin of ideas is not the kind of thing to which "purity" happens easily.

... It is by no means clear that historically there has been systematically greater importance attached to freedom and tolerance in the West than in Asia. Individual liberty, in its contemporary form, is a relatively new notion both in Asian and in the West; and while the West did get to these ideas earlier (through developments such as the Renaissance, the European Enlightenment the Industrial Revolution and so on), the divergence between the cultures is relatively recent ...

14 September 2004

Infidelity is 'in the genes'

This is a BBC article:

Women with steady partners may still be tempted to sleep around - but mainly on certain days of the month, say researchers.
A BBC documentary explains how human sexual instincts are so strong that some women's preferences may alter significantly while they are ovulating.

While her partner might be a better bet to bring up children and support her, another man might carry genes which mean healthier, stronger children.

Serial cuckold

Morgan Wise, a train driver from Big Spring in Texas, found this out when his youngest son was found to have cystic fibrosis, a devastating lung disorder caused by a single faulty gene.


Morgan Wise found he had fathered none of his sons

Both mother and father must carry the gene to produce a cystic fibrosis child, and Morgan duly went for a gene test to confirm he was a carrier.

The test proved negative - effectively proving that he was not the child's father.

He told the BBC: "The doctor said: 'You are not a carrier of cystic fibrosis.' I couldn't believe it."

There was worse to come. Subsequent DNA tests revealed that not one of Morgan's three sons was fathered by him.

One in 10


However, researchers suggest that this is by no means an isolated event.

One study suggested that one in 10 children are being raised by men who are unaware that they are not the father.


A more "masculine" face - better during fertile period

A study at the University of Stirling seems to pinpoint the instinct which might tempt some women to stray around the time of the month they are fertile.

Two groups of female volunteers were picked.

One was tested during their ovulation, the other at another point in her cycle.

Each was shown a computer image of a male face which they could adjust electronically to make appear more or less masculine, using features such as the thickness of the neck and the squareness of the jaw.

While the group not ovulating tended to prefer their men with slightly more feminine feature, at the point of ovulating, the women strongly preferred their men masculine.

This, say scientists, is down to instinct - while more feminine features might signify a man with less testosterone who is more likely to prove a steady partner, the stronger features they preferred at ovulation might indicate a better set of genes, producing a stronger or healthier child.

Why women cheat

Came across a website today: http://whywomencheat.com/

No, the website won’t tell you much. You’ll have to buy their book to get more gyan. If you read the book, they promise, you’ll learn:
• The REAL reasons why women cheat
• Who the other man is
• What she saw in him that she didn't see in you
• How to prevent a recurrence of infidelity
• The signs of a woman's infidelity
• Insights to her that even she, herself, doesn't know
• What your partner's true needs are
• How most cheating is not a reflection of you or the relationship
• How another man really isn't the problem

And the website http://whymencheat.com guarantees that if you buy their book, you could find out if your partner is cheating even before you finished the book. Site abounds with such claims. Gosh, these guys are actually making money out of infidelity!

I can guess why men cheat. But no sir, a woman’s mind can be mapped just like that. Satyajit Ray’s Charulata might help a lil. Not that a woman is inscrutable, as it is often made out to be. Men love to think that. Orientalisation of a kind.

Who knows the real reasons why women cheat? Is it the incompleteness of the present relationship? Or it just that the woman thinks and feels differently at different hormonal stages and it is not humanly possibly for one man to understand or satisfy her? (Most men would never agree to this.)

Women have to grapple with something very powerful: hormones. Her volatility may be partly due to them. Read the BBC article posted above.

And it is because of these hormones, that sometimes, I feel men will never be able to decode women, or vice-versa. Of course, this feeling goes away but comes back to haunt me sometimes. The difference, after all, seems to be in the genes. And we if take this to be true, then there is no way we will understand each other. But, as with all generalisations, this too can be proved untrue. Am not falling for any determinism ploys!

The sixth thing that the book promises, that is, providing insights to her that even she, herself, doesn’t know… now, now isn’t that a very tall claim? The usual attempt to categorise, simplify, break down the other into understandable, easy to handle bits.

There’s more that I want to say about this. Feeling very distracted now. Boss is breathing down my neck.


There is another sky

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

- Emily Dickenson

09 September 2004

Author couldnt figure out a title for this post

Some people’s lives seem so perfect. They seem to want nothing. I became conscious of this only recently … after I really started feeling like an adult. That is, after I came face to face with the realities of my life.

Those people for whom everything has been arranged and provided for – well, I can say just one thing for sure about them: they will be totally devastated if ever they happen to meet a crisis. Maybe then it will be too late for them to learn life’s lessons.

What ‘seems’ to be perfect now may not be perfect tomorrow, may not have been perfect yesterday? (Gosh, this is going to be one profound blog. Can’t help it. Am in the mood for profundities.)

I used to hate uncertainties of any kind. I wanted everything to be clear, tangible, plannable, rock solid, unambiguous, understandable. I can only smile at myself.

This is not just about my life. Don’t you think this is how life is by default? And this is what makes life so miserable and beautiful.

I was reminded today of Jayant Kaykini’s regular column in Hi Bangalore (a Kannada tabloid) that I had read about two years ago. Kaykini talked of how we all whine about our daily routines and yearn to do something else, or be some place else, etc. That is, we are generally intolerant to what has become very fixed and certain in our life. But according to Kaykini, we should be grateful for these certainties. Because without them, we would be lost. Every morning we would have to figure out what to do and where to go. Maybe some of us would like to do something really ‘wacky’ once in a while, but if the madness becomes a part of your life, then God save you.

I often found Kaykini’s columns to be of the romantic nostalgic kind. But I was with him on this. Right now, there are many uncertainties in my life. So he makes sense to me. But somewhere in my mind lurks a fear of certainty, of things unchangeable. At least, one uncertainty will go and bring another uncertainty. But eternity is incomprehensible, quite scary. Because however uncertain, there are some things in all our lives that just wont go away. Am I ready for it? Is anyone ready for it? Ok, by now I guess I have stopped making sense to most of you. But this is my blog, so I give a damn! Grin. :)

08 September 2004

Why did the chicken cross the road?

This is some of the funniest stuff I have read recently. I think these guys would really have replied as described here:


The famous question... "Why did the chicken cross the
road ?" when put before a few Indian personalities(?)...
Well...this is what they Zimply had to say.....

Question: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Azharuddin:"I am totally innocent, you know, I'm
unnecessarily being dragged into this, you
know, because I'm from the minority..... I
neither know the chicken nor the road, you
know...."

Deve Gowda:"zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....mmmm...mm... chicken ???
Thanks, I'll have it later !! mm.. snooore...
......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

Fernandes:"I am deeply hurt that this question is being
asked after my 40 clean years of public life.
I don't own a house, or a car, leave alone a
chicken !!!"

Mulayam:"I demand a 50% reservation of the road for the
chicken class, so that they can cross the road
freely without their motives being questioned"

Abdul Kalam:"Yes, why did the chickens cross the road?
... please tell me why? .. they crossed to
go to the other side of the road... now
repeat after me ...."

Advani:"I see the hands of Pakistan in this ..."

Vatal Nagaraj:"No Tamil or outside chickens will be
allowed to cross our roads, our roads are
meant only for Kanadiga chickens!".

Bal Thackrey:"Chickens crossing the roads is against our
culture, my followers (goondas) will stone
all such chickens which cross the road".

Jayalalitha:"From reliable sources I've got the
information that the chicken belongs to
Karunanidhi. He is making his chicken cross
the road to create law & order problems. The
chicken has now been imprisoned under POTO".

Mamta Baneerji:"Ib I'm made Union Railbay minstaar, I
bill chee that chickans will trable by
train... no cross road anymoore!".

A.K Antony:"Zimmmmply! ...that's a question you should
ask Karunakuran..Heee, heee."

Amitabh Bhachan:"The chicken has crossed the road?.. are
you sure.. very sure ... really sure..."

Sonia Ghandhi:"That the chicken crossed the road clearly
demonstrates the fact that the people and
chicken have lost confidence in the
Government. The Government should own
moral responsibility and resign!!!"

Venkata Naidu:"We are very sure of the fact that the
chicken did not cross the road. It's a
conspiracy by the congress to bring the
Government down. The poor chicken has been
made a scapegoat in this whole issue"

Surjeet:"We are adopting a wait and watch policy. We
have convened a meeting of the third front
today. We will decide the future course of
action after the chicken comes back.."

Menaka Gandhi:"Chicken crossed the road alone...!! If a
vehicle had passed over it, we would have
lost one of our dearest creature. Ban all
vehicles from using the road. Protect our
chickens..."

Salman Khan:"I ran over the chicken (Hic!). It was not
intentional ... It was accidental (Hic!)...
... you're now asking this question to me
only because I'm a celebrity(Hic!)".

Abu Salem:"Hmmm delicious chicken ... Monica darling want
a bite ... now what was that question!?"

06 September 2004

The business of life

This is a poem I wrote long ago. I dont really think it has poetical value, but yes, it is part of my personal treasures. It brings back so many memories that it overwhelms me. I can remember the exact place where I was sitting, and everything else as it was that day.

The business of life

You are so precious.
But in the daily grind, it's so easy to overlook your lovable face.
Life's often taken-for-granted joys:
I hope you dont become one of them.
Because the worst thing that could happen is that.
Me, caught in my silly little work pressures,
Fighting with you and
Forgetting that without you there is no work.
There's nothing to be done.
The street lamp's shining above your head.
Neither you nor I know this
These moments will never come back.
Soon we'll be busy working, worrying, 'settling down', moving
In short, the business of life.
You're playing with your computer.
I hope the kid in you lives for ever
i want to guard you till I die.
You are so precious.

03 September 2004

My teachers

This one goes out to the three teachers in my life to whom I owe a great deal.

Sir
How can I describe this man? I am overawed by him. I admire him. I adore him. I came to know him two years ago at journalism school. I often think I would have lost so much if I hadn’t met him.

His name is Jyoti Sanyal. He taught me all I know about editing and writing. I don’t know if I do justice to his teaching. I hope to, some day.

He made me think critically about the things that we assume in life, to see through spin and bullshit, to be conscious of beauty and appreciate it, to see beauty in the simple things of life. I would sit for hours, listening to him talk. And could never have enough. God knows, in those freewheeling conversations, I learnt what I could never have learnt in any number of classes.

He is so much fun to be with and young at heart. He is so excited about anything that he discovers. I learnt to discover life and love it. He cared for us like a father would. It’s quite hopeless to try writing about him. Words simply cannot capture my sentiments towards him.

Dear Sir, thank you.

Manu Sir
Without this person, perhaps my brain would have gone waste. He was my English Literature lecturer. More than that, he actually taught me to think. The process is not easy. You observe, introspect, criticize, accept, reject, and then defend. He challenged us at every step. Did encourage us, too. But never let us rest. Initially, I was shit scared of him. Each word would come haltingly. Soon, as I understood what he was trying to do, I warmed up to him. But then his challenges only became tougher. The horizons of thought were ever expanding and he went ahead, leading the way. I am still following. I know I will never be able to catch up. But I know the way now. So I am not afraid. I know I owe a lot to him, but frankly, I don’t know how much.

Shridharmurthy Sir
His classes would resemble a ‘house-full’ cinema hall. Many of us would genuinely regret it if we couldn’t make it to his class for some reason. When I was a kid, our family doctor would start up a conversation with me, whenever he had to give me an injection. And after a few minutes, he would say it’s over. I never knew when he actually gave me the injection. Same with SM Sir. He taught us through his life experiences. (He was our psychology lecturer.) Many a time, the hilarious anecdotes he would share with us also made us realize that the funniest things could often be quite sad. He, like Manu Sir, have helped their students in so many ways, it’s very heartening. You realize that there are still people in this world who have the capability to care without expecting anything back. And you get the courage to be like them. He has supported me in one of the worst phases in my life. I am grateful, Sir.


02 September 2004

I have been busy settling into my job. And coping with a viral fever. But now am back. Let's see what I can do for my poor lil blog.

21 August 2004

Am going away for a week. There'll be lots of blogging when I'm back.

20 August 2004

Will four do?

Four is the operational word here. SEASONALE®, the newest contraceptive pill on the block, offers women the freedom of choosing to have just four periods a year!? You have to take an ‘active’ pill every day for 84 days followed by 7 days of inactive pills. You will get your period in these seven days.

As simple as that. Well… that’s what the company says, at least. I haven’t found out how it is priced and I don’t think it is available in India yet.

But wait woman, you’ve got more ‘freedom’ than that. If you wish, you may choose not to have a single period. Yes, that’s right. But that pill will take some more time to hit the market.

Ok, so how many of us would opt for such ‘freedom?’ I surely wouldn’t, because (a) there’s no telling what will be the long-term effects and (b) am comfortable with my body as it is and would rather let it be, than meddle with it.

But I must say that I have thought a thousand times or more about a tampon-free napkin-free world. I have often wondered just how did men qualify for such luck of having neither periods nor pregnancies, damn!! Women know how cursed periods can make them feel. The option that this new pill brings is just what we dreamed of but then gave the idea up as impossible.

Yet, as I am keying this, I am shaking my head and asking myself do we really need to control everything? I know how sick periods can make you feel, but there are ways to get over it. And the regular contraceptive pill takes care of pregnancy. So why are we so reluctant to bear even some amount of predictable pain?

My argument is just this: in spite of all my complaints, I believe that the power of reproduction makes woman a much more special being than man. Periods are but incidental to such power. The menstrual cycle is integrated with the woman’s system in many complex ways. Before playing with it, before making it a medium of commerce or a tool for ‘scientific’ experiments, we should at least know what we are in for. And we have no way of knowing that for sure, unless we try it, of course.

So, now tell me what d’ya think?

19 August 2004

missed my blog

Hi folks, been very busy these two days. But here I am all ready to blog. So, coming up, one meaty blog.

16 August 2004

Revisiting Gandhi

I watched the movie Gandhi on the eve of Independence Day. I had watched it as a kid but didn’t remember anything except the scene in which Gandhi is thrown out of the train.

Ben Kingsley is simply amazing. Actually, the entire casting is good. Not many details are missed. Like Gandhi’s changing complexion and weight. The setting is so real. And each character mouths the dialogues so well.

It also set me thinking about Gandhi, the person. The kind of power he had over the Indian masses – wow! It is the stuff of myths. Imagine: he brought the burning city of Calcutta to stop the mad rioting (immediately after Independence) with his well-tested fast unto death. Could he have done that to Gujarat? Really, could he? I don’t know.

Dissenters, activists, NGOs the world over are constantly thinking of novel ways of protest so that their cause is heard and seen. They have several tried and tested methods on which they can fall back on. But Gandhi has to be admired for the sheer innovativeness of his methods of protest. And he had such conviction in them.

Non-violence, for instance. When you disarm and present yourself before the powerful, actually, the power is with you. The opponent is co-opted, outwitted. The Dandi march, too, was very clever. He walked some 200 odd km to the sea, mobilizing people not only along the way, but also across the country.

Gandhi did no PR, no media campaigning as it is known today. Just the goodwill and trust of people. As a child of the 80s, this is something that I have not seen happen. And I don’t know if it will ever happen again.

The mixture of political cunning, moral clarity and integrity, personal charisma, conviction and vision that Gandhi was, is simply incredible.

14 August 2004

To want to die, yet have to live

Dhananjoy Chatterjee raped Hetal Parekh and killed her. He was hanged to death today many years later.

Is justice done?

Personally, I feel death is too easy an escape. He should have lived to regret it. To think how his life would have been if not for the heinous act. To beg for forgiveness and not get it. To see his daughter grow up into a woman (I don’t think he has one), and learn about him. To want to die, yet have to languish in prison.

The hangman said on TV that Dhananjoy showed no regret.

My closest friend once told me that the best punishment for rape would be to convert the man’s sex and make him a woman through some hormone injections or whatever, and let him know how it feels to be a woman. Because rapists generally are extreme versions of the Male Chauvinist Pig and take great pride in their masculinity. So why not unburden them of it? And the change, of course, should be permanent: he will be a woman all his life.

I admire my friend greatly for this idea, all the more so because he is a male.

Really, punishment should induce regret, not self-righteousness.

Also, isn’t death penalty going to make conviction all the more difficult?


13 August 2004

The musical sixth sense

This happens to me sometimes: when I hear a thread of music, somehow I know what follows, and I hum along though I may have never heard it at all.

The first time this happened was during a tea break in a film festival. It was Irish music, fresh like mint. And suddenly I was drumming my fingers on the armrest in perfect harmony. Mind you, the music was quite fast, and went this way and that.

I almost felt the music running in my brain. Ya, I have had some basic training in Carnatic music. But I am really amazed. How does this happen? And I have seen that this happens usually with instrumental classical or folk music. Maybe these genres of music are based on some templates that are hardwired in your musically-oriented genes? So that people from any part of the world can respond to music created elsewhere?

Or as someone said, you cannot be taught anything. You already know. You just discover it. What’s waiting to happen is the discovery, not the learning. Don’t know if I am making myself clear here, but cant explain any better. It’s a kind of musical sixth sense. Yes, that’s the word.

Has anyone felt this before?

When lines drop from the sky

Lines don’t always flow from left to right like this one. Sometimes they just drop from the sky or, more precisely, from the ceiling of an auditorium. Like they did at Nrutarutya’s Prayog, a contemporary dance show staged last Sunday evening in Bangalore.

A bunch of four energetic dancers dangled from ropes to hard rock music in such electric symphony that had the audience touched. “People can have different views. And we need to read between the lines. That’s what I thought when I was choreographing this piece,” said the choreographer.

The show opened with a piece that was a very close imitation of insects’ movements, with dancers dressed in gaudy golden brown costumes. The stage was illuminated here and there with pools of light and the music made you feel like being a part of a dark night in the insect world.

But one item that I found particularly austere and stiff-necked was the Kolaata. Folk dance is usually alive in every sense of the word. You expect fluid movements from dancers quiet at ease with their bodies, and also want to be part of the rhythm. But in this piece, the dancers’ almost zombie-like faces made you wonder if contemporary dance also meant a self-conscious moving away from the traditional ‘bhaava.’ Felt like a desperate attempt to make their piece a distinguishably contemporary one.


12 August 2004

Why I want to blog?

I am a pretty late blogging convert. Increasingly, I find too few spaces for ‘expression’ of any kind, except something that’s crassly commercial. When I come back home from work and see the pathway littered with neon-lit billboards, I feel stuck in the city. But am no romantic and going away from the city doesn’t help.

I am not actually talking only about billboards, if you get what I mean. The billboard phobia is just symptomatic.

What I am talking about is just a lack of space. There’s something that I also observed in myself: the need to talk, to discuss, to observe something beautiful around you, to connect.

But I guess there’s more to why I am here than just catering to a personal need. Will discover it along the way.

And I just hope to God that I am regular.