Thursday, May 29, 2008

On silence

  1. A silence shared is worth a thousand conversations.
  2. Life teaches you silence.
  3. A moment, a life, an eternity - a silence.
  4. Noise - cacopohonous Bollywood numbers, strident K serials scores, screaming headlines, howling critics, stacatto of ad spots, the mumble, the grumble. All fighting for your mind, you soul in the sheepskin of 'contemporarily relevant'.
  5. The opposite of silence is not sound. It is a man talking to himself, justifying to himself why the fact that he's a dumb lazy fuck is the world's responsibility.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Last week, I saw Michael Clayton and was surprised to see Sydney Pollack in it. I had somehow confused Kubrick's death with his.
I went to the IMDB and confirmed that Yep! Hes still there and going strong given the performance in MClayton.
This must be on Saturday.
Today he's dead.


In Bad Taste

Harry Potter actor stabbed to death

Well about time, won't you say?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Finding Happiness in work

1. You can only be as good a worker as how well-slept you are. Give it that extra shot. Get up in the morning only when you're sure that if you keep lying one minute more, you'll scream.
2. Itchy asses, irritating armpit hair and inviting scabs have to be gotten out of the way before you can give your best concentration at your cubicle. Get them out of the way at the foray for half-an-hour greeting everybody who passes by loudly.
3. Treat your bosses like your parent. Blame him/her for everything and keep screaming at him about how he screwed up your life.
4. Conference calls, esp. with top management from the States involved, are kept fr the special purpose that you can tell everyone what dumb fucks they are and how you left an IPL match to listen to this shit. Please utilize this opportunity.
5. Having alcohol in office is generally prohibited. But cocktails with those little umbrellas are a different issue.
6. Never bitch about anyone behind their back. Do it in front of their face. Better make a presentation about it and share it with the rest of your colleagues on the townhall meetings.
7. MBA lingo is passe. Color them with expletives from the national language.
8. Sexual harassment does not include love bites.
9. Never make presentations. Always pass the buck around, arrive totally unprepared and then refuse to let the ppt proceed beyond the first slide. Keep asking them - 'Pehle yeh batao schooling kahaan tak ki ki hai?'
10. If cornered, copy all your excel files and paste them on a single slide And take all questions with an incredulous shake of the head and muttering - 'Is it the fucking Stupid Day, or what?'
11. Break off from meetings, by screaming blue murder and asking the senior guy seated next to you - 'What did you fucking eat!?!'
12. Don't hum. Sing. Dance if you're really in the mood.
13. It is ok to piss on the side of the cubicles if you really can't be bothered to take the long walk to the rest rooms.
14. Always assume. Never bother with facts.
15. When top honchos come visiting, it is a brilliant idea to keep interrupting their pep talk with anecdotes from - 'That reminds me of the time...' type. Builds terrific chemistry. In the question sessions, don't bother to raise your hands and don't bother if you have to cut someone else. Just keep asking him anything under the sun. Like - 'What makes you reallly horny?'
16. If the AC is too low for you, communicate visually. Remove your trousers and fan your crotch in front of the duct.
17. If the boss comes asking about the project, tell him you thought he was joking at that time. If he keeps insisting, tell him the dog ate the laptop.
18. Call everyone Pappu. You're too busy to be remembering names.
19. Press the door close button as soon as someone signals you to hold the lift. If they still manage to make it, keep them from getting in using your legs.
20. Get one of those flint matches. Strike them off your superiors' balding pates to light your cigars.

My wishes for a long protracted and blissful career, wherever you are.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Very good article on understanding Thackrey-Bachchan conflict in a socilological context


A city has always been a site for competing metaphors. Novelists and journalists in their writings have captured this drama. Gunter Grass and Dominic Lapierre did it for Calcutta, one pronouncing it a crematorium of death and the other labelling it a ‘City of Joy.’ In a similar manner, Mumbai too has become a pretext for competing claims and narratives. Only this time, the text is not a novel by Suketu Mehta or Salman Rushdie, it is a populist drama enacted in the open, with the media as storytellers. The impetus is Raj Thackeray’s attack on Amitabh Bachchan. In this essay, one is not interested in them as individuals. One is encountering them as persona, ritual enactments of competing visions of the city.
The first model embodies an idea of the homogenous city, where like reproduces like, as in a dull utopia. To the homogeneity, one adds a territoriality where the city surrounds itself with a cordon sanitaire. It seeks a ghettoisation of the populace, ensuring that nothing new, nothing different can enter. It is a populist ritual of pollution control where the stranger as the migrant, the refugee, or the poor is banned. It is a sanitisation of the rhetoric of nativism, security and populism. It is dystopian vision presented as a guarantee of safety as dullness.
Raj Thackeray is an embodiment of this domain. The only difference between his uncle and him is that Bal Thackeray appears to believe in it while Raj sees it as a legacy, a political real estate he must expand and exploit. This is more instrumental, more desperate, more cynical, more fascist. In Bollywood terms, it is a script for a B-grade movie with C-grade stars. The political trailer would be more worthwhile than the movie itself, moving between the redundancy of boredom and violence.
Counterposing this at the popular, populist, folk and mass media levels is the vision of Amitabh Bachchan. I am not interested in Bachchan and his personal forays into politics. I am interested in the Bachchan of folklore, the man and his sense of the city. The image of Bachchan evokes the alternative politics of the city as plural, diverse, violent, mobile, hardheaded, hardhearted, sentimental and creative.
Mumbai inspires and invites the migrant and the stranger but no one will deny it is a hard city. But as Bachchan and others show repeatedly, it is not the hardness of granite or of the heart, it is a demand for toughness, for survival, an initiation rite that demands that you survive the city. It is not the hardness of closure, denial, and refusal. It is a generous city which thinks dogs in the manger are not genuinely city-bred.
Raj Thackeray presents the vision of the nukkad strongman in a designer kurta offering safety in return for a policing contract. It is a Hobbesian world which offers city life as ‘solitary, poor, nasty, short and brutish’ if one does not accept their vision. It is a ghettoised imagination. The sadness is that the Shiv Sena has the same traumatic emptiness of McCarthyism. Put it on television, expose it on media as a documentary, and it seems hollow. No bit actor is less convincing that Raj Thackeray. In fact, some of his followers carry on as if they could enact his part better.
Bollywood shows that this is a notion of the city in corsets. Bollywood needs the genetics of difference. In fact, in many ways its original, the Bombay Talkies, embodied Hindu-Muslim unity before and after Partition. Bollywood is a salute to every outsider, migrant, stranger who seeks to come home to the city. It is a parallel vision that the Shiv Sena finds threatening and which it tries to control.
Happily myths don’t succumb as easily to the petty politician. Shiv Sena is in Mumbai but is hardly representative of it. Bollywood is in Mumbai but celebrates both the city and India. It is local, national, global and cosmopolitan. The battle at the level of myth is uneven even if the Sena digs hard into local legend and folklore.
Thackeray and Bachchan have become inadvertently competing models of the city. The first is ghettoised, farcical, threatening, and the second is generous, thoughtful, realistic and yet celebratory about the possibilities of the city. Thackeray threatens democracy through populism; the other expands democracy as script and drama even if it is a bumbling one.
One must be grateful it is an open drama being consumed by millions across the country. This binary model of the city raises a futuristic either/or. It raises the question of how a society responds to scarcity or relative deprivation. It is not the poor who create this idiot politics but a middle class seeing its part of the cake shrink. Thackeray’s is a politics of jealousy, envy playing to the politics of scarcity. It plays the idea of the sons of the soil to show it has no sense of the soil called the city. It is the idiom of security battling the metaphors of sustainability.
Democracy is a world of hard choices, even cruel ones. It also allows bit players a chance at the big time. The beauty is democracy does not eliminate either set of players. It puts them in a public arena asking the spectator to make choices. Democracy realises a city of spectators is also a city of critics and actors. Mumbai has set the melodrama and is asking India to decide. Raj Thackeray or Amitabh Bachchan as ‘Bombay meri jaan’?

A very good blog on atheism

Without Gods was an intereactive blog where the author bounced ideas about a book on the history of atheism. The most arresting feature of the blog is its comments. I have already quoted from one of the comments in an earlier post. Many a times, the comments are much more enlightening than the post itself.

Sample the link posted where the author asks whether leaving theism is a moment wrought with pain or liberation.

The comments highlight different aspects of the phenomenon. the very first, in fact, questions the premise if it's a single moment.

But the gem is this one -

It doesn't "have" to hurt. It often will, though, because like most such life transitions, it won't be complete -- ie, bits of the old theistic thinking will still be lurking, and thus you'll experience conflict between the opposing worldviews.
Think of Camus' meditation on whether a thinking person should just commit suicide in the face of a meaningless universe. That question is predicated on a couple of conditions: 1)that meaning is, in fact, necessary; and 2)meaning must come from a source external to yourself. That second condition is the classic theistic position, and I think that when people suffer pain from their de-conversion, it's because that idea is still lingering in their heads. Those kinds of underlying believes/assumptions about reality can be devishly hard to overcome.

A review tidily rearranged

I happened to go over the site or Above Average, a debut I felt with some promise, an started reading the reviews.

One of the lines said - 'These are authentic characters with authentic dialogue ...' I followed the link and this is actually how it completed.

'These are authentic characters with authentic dialogue, but what of it? "Have you heard Gravy Train? ... They are fundoo, man," but the conversations are so inconclusive you feel like crying out "fiction, fiction," much like a man craving water in a desert. '

Talk about quoting out of context!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How things look from a perch

I found this article in one of the blog posts following the Bangalore riots following Dr. Rajkumar's death:

When Bangalore Burnt! by Garima Gupta
Bangalore burnt with the police buses set on fire. Bangalore broke with every stone pelted on innumerable glass front buildings. Bangalore ached with every unruly push of the crowd. Bangalore mourned when five people lost their lives in senseless violence. Bangalore cried, when the film icon Rajkumar’s family found it difficult to perform his final rites with the dignity and grace every human being deserves in death.
Some say it was overwhelming grief that made the fans go mad. Some now say, that it was a politically sponsored and planned event. To me, as a Bangalorean, it makes no difference. It shocks me no less, that men can become beasts, together, for the slightest of reasons, be it grief or greed, be it language or religion.
When we shifted base from USA to India, Bangalore was the only city we were willing to relocate to. It was ideal. In many ways, it still is. Perched on 7th floor of a luxury apartment, knowing only enough local language to say ,”Kannada Gotilla” (I don’t know Kannada), having access to enough superstores and malls to never need to explore the city’s old Chickpet market, In a ever-pleasant climate and ever growing choice of companies to work for, life couldn’t be better for an average IT family. But when the other side of the coin turns over, and looks in your face with all its brutality and rawness, it’s difficult to turn the face away.
I ventured out today in the city after being in virtual house arrest for two days. The area near Kanteerva stadium, the center of all ‘action’, was full of devastation. Destroyed Cars , Shattered Glasses, overturned police posts and burnt Petrol Pumps. It brought me much closer to the ugly reality than the live TV images did.
Why did the mob do this? What have they achieved? Will they be ever brought to the book? Who is safe today? The questions that came to the mind were aplenty.
I am looking for larger answers. How can we create a better society where frustrations of the lesser lot gets a proper outlet and where the better lot is more involved. A society with opportunities for all. How can we end violence, corruption, inequality. How can we win over the obvious drawbacks of democracy?
I get no answers. There is no easy “Rang de Basanti” out there perhaps.
April 16, 2006

The authoress emphasises her definition of Bangalore - a luxury apartment isolaetd from he city's language and reality. in fact, she very aptly describes it as 'perched'.

Suddenly, she is looking for answers.

Answers ready-to-cook,within reach and over-simplistic like the RDB ones she rues for.

Unfortunately, I am also not far from here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Like a good whiskey, every now and then, I pamper myself with a Chandler. I have already gone through the Big Sleep over four times and into my third reading of The Long Goodbye.

No one wrote similes like him. No one.

Sample these from the Long Goodbye -

'XXX', she said in a voice like the stuff they use to line summer clouds with.

He looked at me like i was a cigarette stub, or an empty chair. just something in his line of vision, without any interest to him.

His hair was as smooth as a bird's breast.

Nobody, [...], looked at me as if my face meant as much as the hands of a clock.

The commericals would have sickened a goat raised on barbed wire and broken beer bottles.

Not one of them could hit hard enough to wake up his grandmother from a light doze.

She was unclassifiable, as remote and clear as mountain water, as elusive as its color.

All these picked randomly from the first forty pages I have savored. Like a chilled beer in the summer heat.

One that I gleaned from the net: The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips.

Read Chandler.