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

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

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

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.

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.