Sunday, December 23, 2007

On leave

Am driving down to Jageshwar - a hill station beyond Almora to spend life in the rough winter chill in a cottage far removed from civilization and its pampering luxuries.

Expect a wiser me after the New Year.

Celebrate.
Another year gone.
Just few more left for eventual obsolescence!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Morning thots

Don't mix your drinks!

The reason I smell these days is taht the damn electricity is never there to heat my geyser!

Did I really say that last night?

The boss is on a long leave - Oh Boy! Oh Boy!

Binge with friends
or
Explore Delhi
or
Snuggle in the blanket and read?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ouch...

Deep something Blue's Breakfast at Tiffany's

You say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart
You'll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don't care

CHORUS:
And I said what about "Breakfast at Tiffany's?
She said, "I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."

I see you - the only one who knew me
And now your eyes see through me
I guess I was wrong
So what now? It's plain to see we're over,
And I hate when things are over -
When so much is left undone

CHORUS:
And I said what about "Breakfast at Tiffany's?
She said, "I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."

You say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart
You'll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don't care

CHORUS:
And I said what about "Breakfast at Tiffany's?
She said, "I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."

Murali


My boss - decent, honest, fair and highly efficient.


I consider myself very lucky.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gin soaked boy

Probably, my favorite English number:

I'm the darkness in the light
I'm the leftness in the right
I'm the rightness in the wrong
I'm the shortness in the long
I'm the goodness in the bad
I'm the saneness in the mad
I'm the sadness in the joy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the ghost in the machine
I'm the genius in the gene
I'm the beauty in the beast
I'm the sunset in the east
I'm the ruby in the dust
I'm the trust in the mistrust
I'm the Trojan horse in Troy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the tiger's empty cage
I'm the mystery's final page
I'm the stranger's lonely glance
I'm the hero's only chance
I'm the undiscovered land
I'm the single grain of sand
I'm the Christmas morning toy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the world you'll never see
I'm the slave you'll never free
I'm the truth you'll never know
I'm the place you'll never go
I'm the sound you'll never hear
I'm the course you'll never steer
I'm the will you'll not destroy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the half-truth in the lie
I'm the why not in the why
I'm the last roll of the die
I'm the old school in the tie
I'm the spirit in the sky
I'm the catcher in the rye
I'm the twinkle in her eye
I'm the Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly"
Who am I?



Monday, December 10, 2007

Campaign against Redif comments - II

Another example of the free speech

I have removed the comment. My only point of keeping it here was to show what shit is being poured out in the name of freedom Freedom comes with responsibility.

Very sad.
the khalistani rats ran away to canada when hindus raped their mummy in 1984. LOLOLby on Dec 10, 2007 08:20 PM Hide repliesall sikhs born in delhi are really hindus. ask their mothers. LOLOL

Dada Sachin Blah blah proves his critics wrong - Bullshit!

Imagine I get elected to the top management of a board for quite a croreful of salary. What is expected of me is consistency. I have had a glorious career with the company. My job is to get sales.

I am a bit off-color. Worse, I am so full of my past achievements, the media attention that I really am not pulling my best. Please note: offering your best does not guarantee results; but it does guarantee that you did your best to get the thing done. The probability of overall success depends on this.

I keep missing targets; lose important projects; whole series of them. Criticism mounts, mounts; people question my standing in my role in the face of many talented aspirants beneath. It mounts and mounts and one day I stand tall and give my best; and lo, it happens. The deal is through.

And then I go back to my previous relaxed state, dragging my feet along.

Would you really care to prolong my job in the next review cycle?

This is what happens in Indian cricket.
Talent has to come with application: there are times when the guy genuinely is trying but struggling and just needs some time on the beach to cool off. But worse, sometimes the guy is too big now to put in 100%.

And then one day, when he obliges with it we have the inane headlines : "Sachin silences his critics".

One knock, one match - to compensate for a few series.

People won't be rational, we all speak through our emotions; but the media has sadly also fallen for this trap.

Professionalism in sports implies applying the standards being perfected in other arenas of life - esp. business.

Because please, these guys are not making any sacrifices for the nation - they are doing their job in a very competitive market and being compensated very well for them. Try asking Sachin to relive his career without the crores and the Mercedes but only sustaining on the heart-rending pride of playing for the nation.

Bullshit.

We are doing more for the nation sitting here and working towards the eventual trickling down of economic prosperity according to the laws of capitalism; rather than playing in pajamas. :)

But do we talk about the sacrifices we've made? We don't coz we are not making any: we're in for the money, power, self actualization, whatever.

So let's understand and put the same perspective for our sportsmen.

Because, as I said, in our hearts we know: no nation is made, unmade on the back of a bunch of guys playing in pajamas: it's only entertainment. A nation is made on a collective resonance of people giving their best in whatever they do (within the constraints of law) and in turn the best the nation can do for them is to give them the best possibility of equal opportunity so that they can give that best and let the law of markets reward them accordingly.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bangalore Test - 1 day

Beautiful partnership, right?
I guess nobody ws expecting this magic from Yuvi and Sourav.

Since cricket hs been one of the three pillars of Modern Indian Culture (along with politics and Cinema), so often the tame psyche and lame surrender be mimiced in the national mood.

Comments on Rediff

I think the comments on Rediff are, almost as a rule, too loose. I, of all people, have no problems with looseness as along as it does not embrace malicious stereotyping, racism and intolerance - esp. in a public space.

I have spotted this problem in Rediff since years now and have been shocked by the venom. Sample this comment today on article on Rushdie's introduction to Desai's In Custody :

ADVISE TO REDIFFby Rajesh Bhagwat on Dec 07, 2007 11:43 AM YOU HAVE SEEN RECENTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN TASLIMA NASREEN CASE. MOSLEMS ARE BECOMING GROWINGLY INTOLERANT.ACTION AND REACTION ARE EQUAL AND OPPOSITE, AS PER THE LAWS OF KARMA,HENCE THEY ARE GONNA FACE EQUALLY FIERCE INTOLERANCE FROM OTHER RELIGIONS AND COMMUNITIES. ONE WORD OF CAUTION TO REDIFF PEOPLE. NO DOUBT YOU ARE DOING A GRREAT JOB BUT ILLITERATES DONT UNDERSTAND THIS. IF YOU GIVE NEWS OF RUSHDIE, THOSE ILLITERATES(OR GRADUATES OF MADRASSAS) CAN ALSO ISSUE A FATWA AGAINST YOU!!!

This is a sample. It has no relevance to the article. Very soon some Mr. Y will speak about raping Hindu women, deriding the Gods, then Mr. Z will abuse Allah. Many times their names will be just that - X, Hindu Lover, Allah, Islam

There are some people who feel that a lot of these comments (that get moderated only hours after the posting) are actually planted by mischievous (what a nice term for these assholes) elements, incl., as always, our brothers across the border. I agree somewhat : there are some patterns that keep coming.
And when Hindu Lover asks "Do you think our Gods are really powerful as their mighty one?" I smell a rat

My point is: This is not what free speech means
A protest against rights violation is a free speech
A painting of a "god" in a format unexplored is (it is also artistic creativity)
But a base abuse, threats and calls for ethnic cleansing - No.

Either rediff should disallow anonymous comments or moderate them before publishing.

This shit has been going on for too long.

Kauvva bole Cow Cow

For the first time, I woke up on a Saturday morning in my apartment here.

Hangover. No electricity. No geyser, no tea over the electric stove. Sigh.

What!!! No cigarettes! Horror!

Bundled up in the rajai and watched Evan Almighty. Disappointed.

A walk to the market. A new stray way. With boughs bowing over, puddles and broken bottles, and the dry sandy dust of Gurgaon.

Morning of Delhi December - a lazy cool zephyr and the fog yawning, rolling its mattress and leaving.

Got some ham, a couple of samosas but still not tea.

As I walked back stopped by a small tea shack. Asked him to make fresh tea for me without the mandatory half cupfulof sugar as the Jats here like it.

A cow wanders along and eyes my samosa in the plaintive and demanding fashion of a.. a.. cow. I throw the samosa to her and it breaks - steam pouring out of the hot aaloo inside. A dog makes a tentative and timid go but the cow looks up to him like - "Get along, buster!" and the dog slinkers off.

The cow has a mouthful and then drops it off the mouth. The interior is so hot that she licks the tongue on her nose, airs it and even puts it against a steel post nearby. Has another mouthful, this time whales it down but still does the tongue dance.

I get up, pay the three bucks and walk back.


Happy to be alive.
Happy to be where I am.
Happy to be what I am.

Song: Free falling.

A stray comment by Modi to Taslima - Is this democracy?

AHMEDABAD: Continuing to target Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said her description of him as a "merchant of death" was an "insult" to the people of Gujarat and warned there will be no let-up if her attacks do not stop.

So guys/girls, next time you insult me, you're insulting the people of Uttar Pradesh!

This ties to a previous post - http://blandspice.blogspot.com/2006/11/world-according-to-media.html

One of the weaknesses of democracy in third-world countries (yes! I believe we're still that) is that it gets reduced to the simplistic definition of ability to hold fair elections.

The foundation of democracy was the dawn of age of reason. The French revolution. Liberty Fraternity Equality.

From there emerged the concept of modernity. I will try to define that in the words I learnt from Dipankar Gupta's excellent Mistaken Modernity.

Modernity implies a base equality where all men are equal irrespective of birth and what they do. From this base, given the assumption of semblance of equal opportunity, they are equipped to distinguish themselves thereon. In our country, this would translate into good and complete education till school for everybody and college for those who want to study further.

Modernity implies respect for the dignity of the individual. In this aspect it is the complete opposite of totalitarianism - where the faceless state implies sacrifice of the individual at the altar of the collective.

Unfortunately, democracy in India has largely become a sham after the foundations laid by heroes like - Nehru very largely (*my opinion), Rajaji, Azad, Patel, Periyar, Kriplani, Morarji, my grandfather and others - due to the non-implementation of mass education reforms. Many a time what we see is the old feudal mentality in the cloak of democracy.

"Isne Indiraji ko gaali di... maaro sale ko"

What happened to Hussain, Taslima, Rushdie is not a symptom of democratic temperament - the symptom is inclusiveness of dissent and difference and not the fascist drive for syncretism and blanking out of everything we don't like seeing and hearing. Everybody gets the platform to air the opinions, people decide what to listen and ignore. As long as the means advocated do not violate the fundamental rights of others, let them air it out. Please note this caveat. Hitler would not be able to defend his anti-Semitic agenda under this as his means were violating the fundamental rights of Jews. Instead he could have demanded transparency, debate - for his grievances. If proved wrong, he would have to be willing to accept the decision; democracy implies adherence to these standards: it is not simply a tool for power.

Democracy is as much about listening than speaking.

No one man speaks for a state, religion , ethnicity.

If there are hundred men, and twenty demand something, they are still a minority. If they are 51, they are a majority they have some claim.

But if they are 85 demanding the violation of 11 - "Fuck you! you can be 99 and still you can't do it."

Despite the vibrancy of images of goatherds, burkha clad ladies, Rajasthani women in motley of colors and Bhils lining outside poll booths that is not democracy my friends. It's only the road.

Give them the choice, but also give them the abilities to make the right one.

Respect the individual.

Don't presume to be a state, a nation, a civilization that has stood weathered and tested for 5000 years, a tribe that has grown, grown and grown.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas hols

kahaan jaun apne chhote se budget par?

These are going to be the last big leave for me for some time, or so says my boss.

Grime

Days are rolling into years, and years into a lifetime of nothing.
I still walk alone, live alone and sleep alone.

Empty apartments.
Silent maids in the morning.
Indifferent dust on the CDs.
Empty fridge and inbox.
User busy.
The screaming silence of the room.

The irony of organizing an unshared space. An entire life.

I run through this dark, lonely path through the jungle and still see no road. Thick vines of mediocrity dragging me back.

I only see the edge approach now; and a fog beyond.

Somewhere, somehow, sometime - I have to break everything off and jump off this cliff.
Either land into freedom or die trying.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Defence

I started this off as a comment but have made it a post now.

I respect shoot-straight-from-the-hip Subbu's opinion a lot. My article on blogs was half-researched and too generalized. But there is a bigger idea underlying that I want to talk about.

Idea of comedy

I am heavily inspired by Thurber in writing and George Carlin in stand-up. GC calls stand-up comedy "knowing where the limit is - and then crossing it". I know a lot of people find him gross and vulgar. But I think he's a new brand of philosophy.

This brand of irreverant writing where you just bash out the popular opinion (in this case, the power of blogs) has the effect of elbowing in an alternative opinion in a sea. This is similar to militancy brand feminism, caste-racial-ethnic affirmative opinions - The idea is that if you don't shout and swear, you will not be heard; if you don't demand a mile, you won't get an inch.

Where I disagree

Yes, I am not a prolific blog reader; but I am a prolific reader and know bad writing from good. And the idea of the blogs is to comment without "earning the rights". Everyone who is party to a phenomenon has the right to comment.

Where I agree
I agree of my not exploring life as much as I should. I am trying. I also am guilty of generalizations all the time: but I try to keep the exceptions floating in my mind somewhere.

Ultimately...

My points converge to the all-pervasive mediocricy and lack of ideas of our times. Despite the power that a blog gives you, most blogs are full of the same everyday platitude that invades us from the media-barons controlled media (read Pankaj's Chomsky's review where he talks about Manufacture of Consent). Seldom do I come across an original idea and irreverance.

Monday, November 05, 2007

To Shantanu

Shantanu, my boss from Symphony-IRI, died on Thursday. I still can't imagine a guy so alive, sensitive, intelligent and complete no more.
After coming to Wal-mart, I actually missed the intimacy that Shantanu affected in the entire team - his loud jovial Hi to everyone as he walked up to the cubicle beside me - greeting 80 odd people by names, stopping to question 30 odd on their personal lives.

Shantanu died at 40 odd - young but lived completely. I never, repeat never, saw him lose his temper even an inch in the three odd years I spent with him. And we both saw some crises that would have blown the lids of many patient managers.

His death has led me to think of the way I want to spend my bachhi-khuchhi life. Two lessons I will try to take forward -

1. Respect everyone - never belittle or hurt anyone.
2. Don't live as if this is the first day of your life. Live as if it is the last.

Shantanu, I wish I had realized your condition and been there in the final moments.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blogs demysified

I looked at some blogs and here are my findings:

  1. Most people are stupid and don't have anything worthwhile to add in terms of ideas
  2. Peopel trying to manage a multiple audience at the same time are the worst offenders:appeasing and full of feel-good ReadersDigest-Archies-Chickensoup simplistic mediocrity
  3. The good bloggers don't care to get back at your comments: having something meaningful to say is the motivation, not recognition/attention
  4. Avoid blogs with the following words in the title - Random, Dreams, Lovely/Beautiful (if coupled with dreams - kindly switch off the computer for a peiod of 17 days to prevent any lethal contamination), the name of any flower, list to continue...
  5. Discount any comment made by Indian male in a blog with a female profile with photograph attesting to at least average looks
  6. Escapism rules in the Indian landscape

Thursday, October 18, 2007

PDS, democracy and atheism

The amount of grain stolen from our beloved PDS last year was worth Rs. 31,500 crores. The FM will put another tax liability on us, the PM would jitterly chirp on conspicuous consumption; but this blatant looting will be silently ignored.

Has the government become redundant now? Do we really need "elected" representatives to rape our nation? When will we finally turn our heads in disgust as politicians in UP and Karnataka hit the nadir of nadir to bury their vile gnawing teeth into the state coffers and the rich fat flesh of infrastructure development funds? When will we just start killing these m********?

Coming to another point, the masses. Why do we make so much out of the masses? Give me one work of genius that has come out of the masses? (If violence was an art - then perhaps - they have created geinus works like the butchery of partition, the gory segregation in South US, lynching, genocides, et al.) All genius has emanated from the elite; even the very idea of fundamental rights. Remove exploitation, assure equal opportunities; but giving the rule to the mob without educating them, liberating their petty closed minds is killing everything what democracy purorts to stand for.

I see all the religions advertising themselves on their numbers - fine. But aren't the masses inherently foolish? Isn't the mainstream merely the mediocre? Hence, isn't the strength of your numbers proof to the fraudulent simplistification you stand for thriving on the intrinsic fear and superstition of the masses?

Interestingly, in all the major religions, the atheist is held even more in sin than the kaafir. Believing in a false God is more extenuating than not believing at all since the former is a proof that you are willing to kneel down and get buggered from behind to the very depths of your thought, language, opinions, tints: you are merely getting buggered from the wrong guy. But kill the bastard who refuses to even kneel down.

Waking up to no god is like waking up from the Matrix. It rends your heart at the secure make-belive escapist closure-driven fantasy you're leaving behind; but, believe me, you feel more alive, aware and sentient.

Try it. Get out of your SantaClausian fantasises of frothing mad, insanely egoistic, choleric and narcissistic old fathers up above.

Become your own God.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Handicap of beauty

I had a friend who was amazingly "conventinally" pretty; but, curiously, very unsure about herself. I discussed this with another common friend, somewhat elder to us, but very beautiful herself (inside out). She gave me an amazing insight - when you are that pretty, sometimes you're not sure which beuty of yours is being appreciated.

Some of my blog friends and photo-bloggers are very much in consonance with the defined aesthetic standards of our times. I find taht though some of their pieces and photos are of some value, but the value is over-exhorted by the peers - largely male - in extreme hyperboles. If someone tries to offer some counter-view, the person is conveniently ignored in the gushing sea of of over-the-top Amazing's and Wow's .

What if some of them, in the wave of this half-honest peer review, give up their career and mistakenly embark on a journalistic or photographic career? They might have promise but they're certainly not prepared yet.
Are all the "beautiful" people out there truly aware of this biggest handicap of beauty?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Thinking aloud

Is cynicism really idealism disguised?
People hurt that the world does not meet thier ideals?

Do people really change?
Are you any different from the kid years ago? You might have wisened up, have heaps of scartissues to show, become bitter - but is your first reaction any different?

Are the people with the answers the most clueless?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Taxed resources

For the past couple of days, I am grappling with the issue of sales taxes. And I have gained quite a mastery of it.
I have proved sometime that the retailer actually makes negative margins because of the taxes.
I have proved that, de facto, tax is a myth.
I have proved many things and I have disproved many others.

But one proof I have established beyond doubt is that taxes and I go together like Scotch and Harpic!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Broombastic

Yesterday, I walked into Spencer's and walked out with a broom. My maid had been complaining about the one I already had. As I stood debating over the choice of the plastic sheaths to choose from - red, parrot green or aquamarine blue - a gentleman in the mall decided to throw a bakhera of shouting and abusing regarding some perceived drop in standards of service. A typical case of feudal mentality hoarding the gizmotic treasures ofmodernity but struggling to grasp the more effort-demanding egalatarian ideas of inclusion, respect for others, dignity of labor and some base equality.

I mused if I could do the same with my broom. Walking up to the person responsible for the aisle, scowling at him and asking gruffily 'How do I know this works?" I could ask him to sweep the aisle for me as I watched sulkily and made him go over certain spots again and again. If not satisfied, I could probably ask him to go over the entire 50000 sq.ft. department. The scene would probably end up in the store manager trying to calm my spit-laden "Iski himmat kaise hui mere se aise baat karne ki!" with a flock of store clerks behind.

We, Indians, understand power only by its abuse.I once walked into a restaurant with a friend who I had, till then, assumed to be very mild natured. The way the gentleman behaved with the waiter that evening prompted me to ultimately leave the place altogether. Even my father would make it a point to work up a temper every time we went out eating.It's simple logic - That guy's job is on the line, not mine. I saw a similar scene in Reliance Digital last month, a store far beyond the standards of the stores we have put up with so far. And yet an old man insisted on shouting down the entire store down.

I feel that for a retailer, the adage that "We serve Everyone" should be taken in a context. If the securitymen had asked the two gentlemen to walk out, you might have lost one customer, but made it easier for several others to decide to walk into your store next time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tango and Cash

Last week, I saw two movies. Cash and Gandhi, My Father.

Anyone who knows me would have a good idea of how I would trash Cash, so I won't go there. Enough said that I was dragged to the show and even managed a small nap in between.

Gandhi, my father is definitely a flawed attempt. Great idea but the execution could have been better.

First, the bone structure of the series of conflicts could have been given the flesh of some character development beyond the scope of the conflict. Imagine watching a movie on Gandhi with no Nehru, no Jinnah, no Patel. Harilal's fall could have been shown more gradually. He appears as an inebriated beard-sporting Muslim, re-converted clean-shaven Aryan Samajist and a wild, bearded inebriated beggar in successive scenes.

Second, yes Akshaye Khanna was good blahblahblah. But such intense roles require trained actors. I have always argued that why tolerate a B grade actor when you wouldn't want anyone less than a maestro in other performing arts of this scale. Bollywood has lowered our standards of expectations so much that one-trick ponies (a trick he could never repeat beyond English August) like Rahul Bose are claiming to be thespians! Acting is not about tones only, there are layers and layers of undertones. Akshay has acted well in depicting the effect of a mahatma father in his life but the undertones of his own academics shortcomings, inability to execute and wagairah wagairah are not etched out so well.

3. Lastly, the background music is very uninspiring. In a movie which is explicitly not about the Mahatma in India( remember the missing Nehrus and Jinnahs?) but the father who had to be a Mahatma, the music could have drawn inspiration from quarters other than the expected Vaishnav jan. It might not be Beethoven, but RDB Shakti did a far better job!

All said and done, the effort is commendable and the movie worth going.
Given me 10 "Gandhi, my father"s for every Cash!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Poems

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.

- Edgar Alan Poe

Looking through the melting glass
As time chooses how fast to pass.
I wonder why were even here
I'm overwhelmed with sudden fear.

I try to speak but only mumble
The walls around me start to crumble
I look down and close my eyes
I cant tell the truth from the lies

Is this real or just a dream
The voice inside me starts to scream
The screaming peaks then fades away
Tomorrows just another day.


-CJ

Friday, July 13, 2007

Buddha in a Strange Land

I entered my guesthouse yesterday to find a very interesting elderly gentlman seated there. He sat there intensely absorbed in a Dharmendra-Aditya Pancholi type starrer. Evidently, from some Uttranchal village (he was clad in a khadi kurta, gandhi topi and dhoti).

He viewed the film intensively, but strangely seemingly-detached.

I talked to him for some time. He told me that he had come to visit a son of his who served out there. I clicked a few snaps of his and walked off.

I don't even know why I am writing about this.

But being back in a place where I can understand the native tongue has made me realize that I feel more peaceful and "earthy" when I can talk to these people usually invisible to most of my peers. The cab drivers, the tea vendor and this unknown gentleman in a hotel lobby assaulted by the blares of a TV and the dust clinging to his clothes; and yet exuding a calm and peaceful dignity.

Every day as I climb one step more, I leave the earth further below.

So far, my most peaceful moments in Gurgaon have been the evening visit to a tea-vendor in a semi-dehaat area. An old man stis there like a statue for hours on end and rickshaw-pullers, kabadi-wallahs and farmers flock around.

I want to go back to the basics; the life beyond consumerism, frameworks and cleverness.

The greatest courage was in the sacrifice of Siddhartha.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Confessions of a homeless wretch

For some reason, living in a hotel room makes you feel like you're on the run. Probably you are; life is in a pause, you're between things and no responsibilities of looking over the cleaning, cooking and bills.

There is only a huge double bed in my room with a TV that I never use, an almirah, a chair and a desk and a sofa with a center table. And, of course, the adjoining washroom.

You can only read that much. Hence, I switched on the idiot-box for a brief while last night. Some Hindi crap starring KK, Fardeen Khan and Mukul Dev. The plot might have been interesting if the acting had not been so ludicrous.

Bollywood seriously needs to get out of the cult of "stars". Our stars don't look Indian and they can't act for monkey's nuts. We mistake looks for personality. Fardeen Khan, with all his smug affectations, hardly possessed the finesse and suaveness that his character was supposed to convey. What was worse was that the only decent actor in the lot, KK, whose sheer magnetism sizzles the screen, was playing the sidekick to this yet-another-Khan-lad. Look at the Hollywood greats. With the exception of Brando, none of these actors would pass the "looks' test. Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis(OK, I admit, he's gorgeous!), Joe Pesci, De Niro. (Al pAcino has starred in far too many the-Recruits for me to be included here).

And forget the personality. Actors are supposed to act! Would you stand a sub-standard musical performance? Or painting, architecture, literature? Any other art for that matter. All but the art of acting. As an actor, it's always infuriated me how Indian cinema (and even theater for that matter) is dominated by models; the very people who are trained to parade strutting and pluming over a ramp with deadpan expressions.

Bu, of course, Bollywood is an industry dictated by untalented, mediocre, semi-literate and mammon-worshipping production houses. Let's just call it that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gain some, lose some

Three days and, already, life is in a routine now.

Get up at 7, breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 1 and drop off at 12.

Is this good news - my final induction into discipline?
OR is this sad - the loss of wily uncertainity?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sold





I sold off my bike to a very shareef gentleman last Sunday. Final snaps.













Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Moving to Delhi


There is a sense of vulnerability and solitude when you're shifting.

Suddenly, you're without a roof over you.
the apple and peach you painted for the kitchen door has to be pealed down now for it never was your kitchen door.
The posters torn, the old, weather-beaten shoes which hugged you in this and that trek to be left over for the cook or the maid.
The small nothings, the books - suddenly homeless and in indifferent and cold cartons.


In life we try to define ourselves by the things we buy. Not the essential utilities; but the skull shaped pen-stand or the cute little pendant key-chain. Sifting through them and touching them over - LucknowKanpurBombayChicagoBangaloreTokyoDelhi - it's as if a different era altogether now.

Indians by the dozen

A friend has just reached US and settling in. She's on an onsite project.
She's staying in a $69 a day hotel room and shares a car with a colleague. Another senior colleague from the desh, in tow with wife and kid, has rented his own car. Now the project manger there frets over the cost and has decided to move these Indian resources to a cheaper hotel and allow only a single car for the trio.

Fair enough, if the budget is such a bother.


But the project has another Indian, in fact the youngest of the lot. She's joined the co. straight from some Dallas university and is, hence, entietled to an unquestioned $109 hotel accomodation and a car of her own to insulate her hallowed holiness from Desi airs.

The friend in question also did her MS from US; but commited theunpardonable indiscretion of returning back ot the country and working for the company for four straight years.


When I listened to the saga over the phone, my take was - expose the hypocricy, no matter what the final decision be. And come back and take on a pending offer from an all-out India company; peacefully reassured of being treated unfairly sometimes but equally so.

What say you?

How to steal a book

In 2005, I checked out a book from my office library but another book got listed against me name in lieu.
Talked to the librarian; issue clarified. Another came along; again talked to her; clarified. For some mysterious reason, they could not simply delete the error from the system. Now two years and three librarians later, the book is still against my name and I have to pay for it if I want ot leave the company by Friday.

I am pissed. So pissed that I am contemplating doing sthing I have never done: steal a book. Is it worth it? Shall I? Would I?

If it has to be, it has to be the golden paged leather-bound copy of Rudyard Kipling that I have not been able to find anywhere else.


Hmmmphhhhh................

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Isn't it funny...

1. ... that girls fall for your perceived strengths, and yet love you for your weaknesses.

2. The louder the voice, the less the substance.

3. People harping on "East or west, India is the best" have seen neither much of the FarEast nor the West.

4. We crave simplicity, but are in a juggernaut of more and more complexity.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tugs

Part of me tells me to grow up. And I become the man I wanted to be.

Part of me tells me to hold on to that purity and faith. And then I become the introverted, self-doubting pariah.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Anne Frank Redux




Lines from the diary - “If God existed, he certainly wouldn’t allow living people to be pushed into ovens, the heads of little children to be broken open, or people to be stuffed into sacks and gassed to death.”

I agree. The next person who says that this is the way god tests us should have his babies' heads smashed against the side of the boxcars; like the ones used to transport Jews to Auschwitz.

http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/site/en/weizman.asp?pi=22&doc_id=4592&interID=4578&sq=4578

Chana Zor Garam

Playing on the radio right now.

Just noticed a verse -

Mera chana kha gaye gore,
Jo gintee mein hain thore,
Par maare humko kore.


Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shrek and I

I like watching movies alone when I am serious about them. 'Coz when I am, keep your trap shut if you've got no interesting trivia to add (Sabby, Tandy and Rakesh,with their side-spltting wit, are always an exception).

I have walked into movies sometimes to discover gems.
When I was a kid in Lucknow, there was only one theatre that screened English movies - Mayfair. Then there were the morning shows at Novelty. I caught a lot of the English classics there - cycling on the weekends to the movies, watching my first Indiana Jones, Spielberg, brilliant 80s dramas, alone - and coming back; silent, as I had none to discuss the stuff I had seen either at home or school; dreaming and running the scenes again and again for months at end.

After that, there are three instances I have walked into shows on the first day they were released, with no idea about the plot, the movie and the buzz.

Satya - Actually, this one I saw with the Ebot gang. We had gone to Mall road to catch some Govinda flick but the tickets were sold out. We just walked into this movie as this was the only flick available. I remember the unaccustomed silence in the gang as the juggernaut of the plot unrolled and the hushed remark by Rishi at the interval - "Yaar, kya movie hai!"

Dil Chahta Hai - I had just returned from the US and was pretty down after the two-months struggle to land up a job. I was staying with IIT mates whom I really didn't know very well and was very tied up for money and burdened heavily under the kindness of near-strangers. I had gone to this movie, my first in a year, without knowing the cast or anything about the buzz. Boy! Was I surprised! i also remember seeing Lagaan around this time but I had an idea about the buzz.

Shrek - An evening walk at MG Road, notihng to do, let's catch this animation flick at Plaza. And lo! The genre of animation was forever redefined; history was made; unimaginative and stereotyping Disneyfication challenged. I laughed so much that I actually cried.


Just finished watching Shrek 3 What a letdown! Where is the imagination and iconoclasm that made Shrek? Were these really the script writers that gave us the previous two installments?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The decent thing to do

My cook didn't come on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, he came in, with a sprain in his right hand. Apparently, he'd collided with a Splendor and had a, possible, hairline fracture in the hand. I told him not to cook and take a break but he was adamant: he would be cooking for the rest of the households he serves, so why punish me? He even kneaded the flour with the sprained hand. I had gone to sleep in the meantime and just saw him massaging the hand as I closed the door on him.

Needless to say, I feel like a sinner now. I fell for the classic argument of this is what the Smiths and the Jones do and closed my eyes to cruelty.

Indian society is a hierarchy of power and patronage. Dipankar Gupta, prof. sociologist in JNU, argues that the biggest threat to Indian modernity (merit, baseline equality, respect for dignity of otherrs and work) are the rich themselves. Being placed in India is a euphemism for the cheap labor that you can extract from the poor and the patrons that you can find to flout laws for you behlaf. Classic examples would be the Nandas and their BMWs and the pathetic conditions of millions of child servants in "decent" middle-class households.

Sasthi Brata, author of the brilliant autobiography "My god(emphasis on absence of Capital G from my end) died young" also puzzles over the "unconscious hypocricy"(author's own words) of his mother who would be excessively genereous towards relatives but exceptionally cruel to the servants. The reason, the author drily and pithily suggests, for her actions derived from a strange social need for apporbation from people who could and thereby raise her platform and not to waste it on people who couldn't. This reminds me of my own grandmother, remembered sometimes by some as the kindest lady that ever lived; but who strangely brings to memory the scene of her violently caning Mallu, the man servant, for some minor demeanours.

Whenever I have brought to life this daily hypocricy that the middle class practices, I have also been surprised by the surrounding unconsciousness of it and the violent protestations have met my statements.

Hence, I prefer to stay silent and aloof.

This might be the way things work in our country, but that is not an excuse.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

CPI-M on retail

The Red brigade has come up with a masterplan to "regulate" retail. Defiant and obstinate in the face of overwhelming evidence from the brief economic history that India has bore, they actually have the chutzpah to suggest going back to the licence raj regime: a regime which set back development by decades and deliberately shortsupplied generations of consumers.
Another point to note is the smug and naive belief that the very thought of breathing life into a dysfunctional governement entity suffices; the abracadabra too trivial to bother about. Contrast this with the frantic sops being offered in private retail these days to acquire and retain even talent.
Where is the "new" PSU going to get the people to create an entity that can give the Tescos and the Walmarts a run for their money? The present flock, clearly, is too incapacitated to effect that. The answer is obvious, analogous as it is to the "post-liberalization" oil sector. Sops, blatant taxpayers' money-backed sops in the form of subsidies and favored access to distribution: in the face of the PSU's inability to manage half the efficieny in supply chain and distribution of the private-sector competitors; even at twice the cost and thrice the manpower.
Hoping (more foolishly, I feel, as each day passes) that with the dawn of the age of reason, mankind is in the path of slow and steady progress in thought and lifestyle, with a few hiccups here and there, I believe that in a few centuries, when we have finally disposed off these ignoramous, wasteful and self-defeating idealogies, such policies will be viewed in the same rueful light as the inquisitions. Doing irreversible damage to humanity and the cause of reason for the sake of petty politics, miseducated charity and obstinacy to change.

NEW DELHI, MAY 30: After its opposition to FDI in retail trade, the CPI(M) has now prepared the ground for regulating the entry of corporates in the sector by suggesting a system of licensing for organised retail. It has also called for the Government’s intervention to prevent “private monopolies” from developing by asking the Government marketing agencies to compete with large private retailers. It even suggested ways to create big public sector retail chains. Building on the argument that small retailers need policy support to fight organised retail in the light of their falling numbers and the use of monopoly buying power by organised retailers, the party’s framework for regulating organised retail includes a system of licencing in cases where retail outlets went over the “appropriate minimum floor area”. According to the National Policy on Regulation of Organised Sector in Retail Trade: A Proposal, which the CPI(M) has evidently aimed at private players and plans to circulate among political parties for a full-fledged discussion, corporate entities should not be allowed to operate retail outlets below a minimum floor area. Party General Secretary Prakash Karat said the proposals came against the backdrop of the growing retail trade network since the UPA came to power. “We are writing to all political parties. We feel we have made a case for stringent regulations in this and have argued for a licensing system for the entry of the organised sector in retail trade,” Karat said. The proposal says steps should be taken to prevent single large format retailers from entering the market and framing of guidelines to prevent predatory pricing. It suggests ways in which “decaying” government marketing agencies can be revived to compete with the private retailers. “Consolidation of several government marketing agencies in order to create a few public sector retail chains should be seriously considered, which can also invest in developing modern supply chain infrastructure,” the proposal says, while including suggestions for safeguarding farmers interests. Red retail • Authority to grant licences should be with the urban local bodies and there should be transparency in granting licences • A process of open bids to be considered • Separate licences for each format for organised retail based on floor area • Slabs for different retail formats, like discount stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping malls, also based on floor area • A cap on number of licences that can be given in an area, using the population criterion • Larger retail outlets to be kept out of existing commercial zones and where they are not, the retail outlets should share space at concessional rate with small retailers

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Questions I am facing currently

  1. Is there any way to get off the downward spiral of mediocirty that we all are in?
  2. Was Bogart the coolest/sexiest man to grace the screen?
  3. How do I rewrite the goddamn book?
  4. What do I read next?
  5. Which road do I take?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Compensation for what?

The news of the blasts at Mecca Masjid streamed in with the additional nugget that the state governement had announced a compensation of 5 Lakhs for the victims; barely minutes after the blast.
A few months ago, I heard about the Shramjivi blasts in a similar fashion.

Have we really become so insensitive to tragedy?
Is political damage control more expedient than the ground-zero one?

Contrast this with the aftermath - immediate and medium-term - in terrorist attacks in the US and UK.

The issue of compensation arises in two situations -

1.Terrorist strikes - As these are targeted towards every citizen of India, we have to bear the joint ownership of the damage. Hence, any compensation in this regard is meaningless; the only answer is action against the perpetrators.

2.Accidents/mishaps - Instead of letting the possible culprits fix the cost of life immediately and absolve themselves at the cost of taxpayers' money, the concerned departments/ministers should be brought to court. Compensation, and punitive measures, should be fixed likewise.

Let's stop this nonsense immediately.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Birth of a Nation

I can't believe what I am seeing!

Buffalo soliders with the monomania of defiling the purity of celestially virgin white damsels (Posed, of course, by white men with badly-applied polish on their Nordic faces), a congress of the newly-freed slaves being portrayed as a bunch of chimps mulling on relativity, a nation misgoverned because the man in charge is in the vice like grip of a mulatto mistress.

Birth of a nation is a good argument for political correctness. Such trash stereotyping can have devastating effects. As it did indeed. Leading to the revival of Klu Klux Klan and fifty years of unmitigated barbarity against the American Blacks with the infamous milestones of several lynchings, Scottoboro and Mississippi Burning trials, and the assassinations of several reformists from Luther King to Malcolm X to, possibly, Rob Kennedy.

As the story justifies the terror tactics of the Klan, I would like to see a new version of it - justifying the Islamic terrorrism.

A disgruntled Iraqi soldier as the Southern hero - Cameron.
Gus - the negro who tries to violate his sister - transforms to Lynndie England.
The new congress - the "Alliance against Evil".

You get my drift.


How funny. Hundred years on, despite its blatant and strident black/white portrayal of history - in fact, because of it - the movie justfies the need for stridency in the very liberalism and equality it shrieks to denounce.

PS - In the next few posts, I will talk about the lynch era a bit more.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The answers within

This is a nice post on the meaning of success - short and simple
http://salvagepoint.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html


Her point is "...no matter how far we go or how successful we get, there are so many aspects that remain unfulfilled, so many bones of contention, so many unhappy moments and so many desires that die without being realised."

In my comment, I have proposed Pareekh's Venn Diagram theory of life. To repeat, in this venn box there are lots of circles denoting personal space, relationships, career, art, etc. You can expand these circles to occupy the max space (as good time managers do) but ultimately if you want to expand a circle, you have to reduce some other. This is what balance is - how big a circle you want all these different aspects to be.

Ultimately, every decision is a sacrifice. It's up to you what you want to sacrifice.

Happiness is not defined by a hierarchy in the peer-pressure network, but comes from a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment from within. The strong know it, the weak take a lifetime to discover thiss.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The elements within

I am writing this as the idea is forming in my head (where else)...

Lately I have been passionately doing portraits... esp. on the street.
Mostly, when I approach subjects I know, the best portraits come out of moments I never planned. But, somehow, I do have a blurry premonition of the final output even as I start clicking. I was trying to think through this feeling. Moreover, I was planning some future portraits of friends/relatives and, still, I have some idea of what I want.

The idea is this - each of us are defined by a peak in the various elements that make our personality. I liken it to the five elements - water, fire, earth, air and ether(the unknown). A portrait that captures us in our basic element is the one that captures the essence.

I would like to work upon this idea more but my knowledge of history of the elements and their connatations in the human context are hazy at best. But the thought came to me when I was trying to figure out the best portrait for one of my sisters who is as elemental in her fire state as anything can be. The reason that I have not been able to do a good portrait of hers so far is that whenever I try to do so, she is too serene and calm to be her essence. So what finally comes out is not essentially "she". On the other hand (in case one thinks that anyone in the heat of passion would be a great portrait), a picture I remember of my grandmother captures the essence of the earth in her in her almost sad peace.

I will think on this a little more.

I also wonder what my essence is.

Here is a list of the elements I would associate with some people I know-

Sarovar - Earth
Kholu - Air
Prachi - Water
Meen - Fire
Tarun - Earth
Pareekh - Earth
Riju - Ether(?)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Apocalypto


There might be historical inaccuracies here and there, there might be leaps of faith - but this is amazing.

After Passion of Christ, Mel does it again. He's actually showing history the way it happened and making it heard in the tongues it was spoken in.

I am surprised, if not shocked, at the lack of publicity taht this film got. Along with "Little Children", I think this has been grossly under-served at the Oscars - thanks, I reckon, to Mel's drunk Anti-Semitic rant.

If overblown, historical dramas like Dance with the Wolves, done-to-death Holocaust movies (Schindler's list, Pianist), atrocious fare (Titanic) could get the Oscars, why not herald this superhuman effort? Creating a piece of history about men, languages; all but lost and forgotten.

Consider the effort reqd. in recreating the Mayans (and that too the dark side) before the Conquistadors instead of Cowboys and Indians, The Holocaust (with only a million books and a thousand tons of documents to refer to) and an ocean liner over-hyped for the sole reason that the men it drowned were vvverrry rich.

Even Mel's Braveheart is, to some extent, Hollywood cliche in a new exotic Scot legend (though the signs of breakaway are already appearing in this good production).

If you thought Passion for the Christ was refreshing (tho' I still hold the Monty affair of Brian to be a more actual depiction :) ), try Apocalypto.

To quote a review in imdb - Clearly Hollywood is incapable of even conceiving of such a movie, much less bringing it brilliantly to life. Hollywood has an agenda and very narrow perspectives. It's agenda has no room for illuminating the humanity of non-Westerners, and there's too much relying on the same old set of sensibilities and intuition. I think if Hollywood is up in arms it ought to be because Gibson is making them look inept.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Metroland and How I read


I bought this book on a whim around a year ago from Blossoms.

My reading is dictated more by my guts than grapevine for the simple reason that I started doing some serious reading only after college. In college, we exchanged the odd copies of Ayn Rand and Godfather and rarely went beyond that. I dabbled with Tushdie, Marquez but that was it.

The eyeopener was a course I undertook on modern literature under Neelkanthan that introduced me to Joyce, Woolf, Fitzgerald and Saul Bellow.

But the real push came from Tarun; if a mighty heave off the cliff of ignorance can be called that.

But still as work separated us and even our tastes started diverging just that very little bit, I have had to rely more and more on my instincts and the odd reviews. I had the phase where I read everything I could lay my hands on about Holocaust, the Ishigoru omnibus and anything in the top10 of either the NY or NDelhi. The only cases of indigestion have been the Chetan Bhagats and the (Very) Mediocre but (very) arrogant.

So coming back to Metroland, isn't it wonderful how books like apples just ripen for you at the right time? One year ago, I tried to read the book by force but couldn't go beyond 3-4 pages in an hour of the struggle of the will against timing. yesterday, I picked the book again and reall all but the last 30 odd pages in the space of 3 hours.

Metroland is a delightful discovery: delving into the childhood and adoloscence of an intelligent being. Intelligence to the point of insolence. I think that's why I disliked the book at first attempt - my own insecure, underachieving and far-from-satisfying childhood made me resent the smugness of the author and Toni.

Nishith loves to say "You can either be meaningful or relevant"

To explore this phrase, Chetan Bhagat is relevant, Upamanyu Chatterji is meaningful. The greatest work spans both - Catcher in the Rye, To killing a Mocking Bird, Shame, Midnight's Children, Tin Drum...

Further, Pawan says that a book should have quotable quotes. More than literally, he means that there should be that odd line that catapults your reading experience to a catharsis or epiphany or, at least, a happy sigh.

Metroland does that while remaining incredibly funny.

It does not have the emotional pull of Of Human Bondage or even a Dickensian childhood, but it is full of clever insights nevertheless. In fact ,a portion of the text where the author tries his first "position" actually brought tears to my eyes from laughter (I think the first author to do taht to me since Thurber).

Sample one of those- I just turn to a random page and quote -
"Still, the larger the question, more the naive it always sounds"
and the SST measure of the desirability for a girl - Soul Suffering... Tits


I think ultimately why I still won't classify this as a great book is this - this is not an out and out humor like Thurber. Hence, though it makes me laugh, want to salute the author for passages of clever insights and an overall crisp style, It does not make me empathize that much.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Violence has no religion

Case 1

Rakesh, a friend, was driving from Moradabad to Delhi on the eve of Moharram. He stopped by a Muslim village where a taazia was being taken. Out of the blue, a mob decided to attack the cavalvcade of cars waiting ofr it to pass. Swords were drawn, Allah-hu-akbar was scremed, babies wailed. Some of the fieriest participants seemed to be the 8-9 year olds. Ultimately, it was a posse of 8 policemen who had the balls to charge a 150 strong mob with lathis that saved his life.

Case 2

I2 was attacked on the eve of Dr. Rajkumar's death. Again, half the mob consisted of 8-9 year olds. Some English-speaking employees were roughed and some cars broken.

Case 3


I was in Commercial Street on Sunday when the RSS decided to counter a Muslim rally on Friday by their own show of strength. I passed rows of shops with broken windows till I finally chanced on the perpetrators still breaking some more. Till then, I didn't know whether they were Muslims, Hindus, Dalits, Kannidigas, whatsoever. I was shocked by the cool efficiency with which they applied their violence. Buses on buses pored, their saffron flags finally revealing the identity of the violators of the day to me, and activists from villages came out to make a field day.


Can any one single segment claim innocence over acts of daily violence that are unleashed on innocent passerbys?
We are a country of more violence than non-violence.
Division - religion/caste/regional - are mere excuses.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pursuit of happiness

this thought follows 4 threads-

1. My ongoing thinking regarding happiness since almost a couple of years
2. Readings from Bertrand Russel and general philosophy
3. Recent visits to friends in Delhi and Lucknow
4. A play I saw last nigh

Last things first.
Anish, a theater veteran in Bangalore, performed a 1-act adaptation of dostovoesky's "Dreams of a ridiculous man" last night at CFD. The premise was that the madman had a dream of a simple world that he corrupts by his very presence and gets branded a madman. I won't comment on the performance but the script. Specifically, a point -
Today, knowledge of happiness is more important than happiness itself.

It caught me as it followed a train of thought I was on.

During recent visits, some pals protested or philosophised their happiness to me. even I do that to myself now.

But there was an age when happiness was unthinking, unconscious.

I still get moments of pure exhilerating happiness now also. But now, always, I am conscious of the elation and the euphoria.

Why?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Back!

Udaipur, Lake Pichola, Shot with 30 sec exposure from atop Rainbow restaurant


In the past two weeks, I have travelled across three states and met bosom friends after years. I am feeling totally relaxed and, for once, the weight of the world and my own role in that, does not weigh me down.

Rajasthan was an experience taht would last a lifetime. Thanks to my two brothers-in-law (though I have still not attested the legality with any lawyer) I got to see almost the whole of it. Jodhpur-Udaipur-Jaisalmer-Pushkar-Ajmer-Jaipur.

The only thing that remains is the Ranthambore Tiger Sanctuary and a propah Desert safari.

I have clicked like crazy during the trip and would post the best when I have the courage to dive into that humongous dump on my laptop.

I missed all you a lot. Seriously. Had a great Xmas (my younger brother-in-lawis of the Catholic persuasion) this eyar.

Till then, Happy new year!