Saturday, April 29, 2006

How Kavya Vishwanathan got her @#$% kissed!

Soon after the court settled a claim by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh that Dan Brown had plagiarised from their books The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, comes news that our own southie hotshot novelist in Harward was neither novel nor original. She had filched heavily from Chick Lit (imagine a Chick Lit [that juvenile writing genre] writer being copied) writer McCafferty's novel "Sloppy First."

The court ruled that copyright only applied to the expression of an idea and not the idea itself. Meaning Dan Brown could write about the secret life of Jesus as long as he didn't directly steal words from Baigent and Leigh.

In the Kavya example, McCafferty writes on page 6 of her novel “Sloppy Firsts” :

“Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart. Guess which one I got. You’ll see where it’s gotten me.”

See how Kavya Vishwanathan twisted it:

“Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart. Guess which one I got. You’ll see where it’s gotten me.”

More similarities in the passages can be found at The Crimson.

Nice case of plagiarism isn't it? Now before I contribute my mite to the plagiarism controversy, I must confess I got this through Zigzackly and Hurree the Grumpy Old Bookman.


Friday, April 28, 2006

A Laptop for $ 100?

Yes says Nicholas Negroponte — co-founder of the renowned MIT Media Lab — in this article. Known as OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project, it is supported by international big wigs like Google, and, will run on human power — whatever that means.

The chief of MIT Lab is not new to India - he had earlier collaborated with the Indian government to set up the Media Lab Asia, a research lab liberally funded by the government. The project has been attacked by another high profile oracle of the software industry, our own Bill-va. Seems Bill Gates, with his vision of future possibilities is critical of the project.

Am traveling. So this blog will take a much deserved break. But I will be back with interesting articles and features. So as they all say, watch this maze.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Salman's Arrest

The talk in the office is all about Salmans arrest. It seems a lot of dirty linen has come out of the dhobi ghaut (washermen's area) because of that. One strident voice says, "This is absurd. he should have been punished for killing those poor footpath dweller but not the cinkaras. This is not fairrr. Five years for killing a cinkara, no, no, no, this isn't fairrr."

"What's this, poor guy, he is so sweet. It happens all the time. These rich people hunt deers all the time. Why Sallu?" She doesn't say, "I am a great fan of his."

"It is full of shit yaar. I don't know why he is being targeted for all ills of society. Give him a break. Poor, poor Sallu."

"Clean the society of these people. Nobody is a bechara (poor man). These people should be taught a lesson."

"Nobody says anything about Jessica Lall killing. Why not arrest them. Because they are connected to politicians? This is targetting celebrities for the sake of publicity."

"Girls of three years are raped, traumatized. Why not do something about it?"

"You know how much he gets paid for every movie? He deserves it. Who does he think he is?"


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dom Moraes - A Poet Extraordinaire!

I was then working in Colaba and I used to bump into Dom Moraes quite a lot. At the bank, in the bookshop, this gentle looking, shy man with a receding chin, looked the most improbable of celebrities that he was elsewhere in the world. He wore ordinary clothes and didn't have the assumptions one would have of a poet. I knew of his fame and therefore hesitated every time I came face to face with him. How I wish I had introduced myself.

The most unapproachable thing about him was that he always looked down and not ahead of him. Mostly he had his glasses perched at the tip of his nose. The forbidding thing about him was his reputation as a poet who had made it big, and the fact that he had married one of the most beautiful women in the world, Leela Naidu. But now I realize, it wasn't his fame and the fact that he had married a beautiful woman that made him unapproachable, but his shyness. He lived and loved his own way and had had a very interesting life. Several wives, and a trusted muse with whom I often saw him at Kala Ghoda.

A brief biographical sketch.

Dom was born in Bombay; into a Goan family. His father was Frank Moraes, editor of The Times of India. Frank Moraes was well known for his journalistic writing and Dom grew up in the shadow of a celebrity. May be this was what made him very diffident and a very protected child. He received a Jesuit education and had opportunities to travel to many countries. It is probably this wanderlust that took him to several countries as a war correspondent and a travel writer.

After two years in Sri Lanka, at the age of 16 Dom arrived in England. In 1956, he began reading English at Jesus College, Oxford. The following year, his first book of poems, A Beginning, was published by David Archer's Parton Press (which had published Dylan Thomas's first) and, in 1958, it won the Hawthornden Prize for "the best work of imagination". Dom was the first non-English person to win the prize, and was also the youngest.

WH Auden read and liked his work, and, Stephen Spender - who first met him in Bombay - was publishing him in Encounter magazine.

In 1960, he published Poems, and the autobiographical Gone Away, about his travels in India. The Brass Serpent - translations from Hebrew poetry - followed in 1964, and John Nobody the year after that, that is, 1965. All were received well, Dom became a familiar and well-liked figure at poetry readings and in poets' pubs in England.

By 1966, he had published Poems 1955-65. Two years later, in 1967, he settled in Islington, and published his autobiography, My Son's Father.

In 1968, Dom settled back in India for good, only resuming the writing of verse in the late 1970s. In 1988, he published his Collected Poems, and two years after we met came more poems in Serendip.

But then the poetry muse left him. He was bitten by the journalism bug.

He traveled - he was to mention that he had visited every country in the world - and wrote journalistic accounts, travel books and a biography of Mrs. Gandhi (1980). A compelling study of several states of India including Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka forms his travelogues.

A third volume of autobiography, Never At Home (1994), was followed in 2001 by another poetry collection, In Cinnamon Shade. He also contributed to Voices of the Crossing (2000), edited by Naseem Khan and Ferdinand Dennis, on the impact of England on writers from the subcontinent and the Caribbean. He co-edited The Penguin Book Of Indian Journeys (2001), and last year published The Long Strider. For television, he scripted - and sometimes directed - more than 20 documentaries.

Dom's contacts with English friends were, it seemed, few. He kept up with the loyal Peter Levi. His first marriage, to Henrietta Moraes (obituary, January 8 1999), and his third marriage were dissolved. His second wife, Judy, predeceased him. In the last stage of his affliction with cancer Sarayu Srivastava was his companion and muse.

More reading:,3604,1231084,00.html


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A solution that has become a problem

Arjun Singh's move to extend reservations in the prestitious Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and medical colleges is not a good sign, or, so I think. Just now I signed a petition opposing this move.

For those who came in late (meaning all those international visitors to this blog who do not know what reservation means) here's a primer.

Indian society is organized along caste lines. A caste is a stamp that one inherits at birth by virtue of ones parents being born into it. Certain castes have money and power and were known as the ruling castes. The lower castes were looked down upon and were economically deprived. To lift the living standards of the lower castes the Indian government decreed that a certain per cent of seats in educational institutions, and jobs in government-owned companies would be set aside for these downtrodden classes, victims of centuries-old persecution and oppression.

This law was mooted in the heady days after independence from British rule and was meant to last for a few years so that after the benefactors reached a certain upliftment, the scheme could be scrapped.

This was mooted as a solution, mind you.

But now the solution itself has become a problem. Here's how.

This reservations of seats in colleges and in government companies have been used to get sympathy of the castes who benefit from such actions. Instead of giving these sections equality and justice these policies are alienating them further.

The per cent of reservation of seats is now around 22.5. This would go upto 49.5 That means around half the students in a class is not chosen for their intellectual merit, but because they were born into a certain caste. What would be the result? The overall quality of these praised-to-heavens institutions would come down.

Students who do not belong to the preferred castes would be disheartened as their chances of getting into these instutions would be hampered. There is great anger among Indian youth and this could compound their frustrations.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What goes on behind the broadsheets!

Want to read about the theatrics that goes on behind the scenes in which the press, business, politics are players?

Read this article by someone named Vilakudy, who from his profile is only 29 years old. He has some great contacts and was close enough to a newspaper baron to be his guest in his penthouse. Surely, he can't be a fledgling jorno all of twenty-nine. He has a far too seasoned and mature voice to be all of twenty-nine. Any clues?

It seems when it comes to politics press barons can play scheming and devious games as this article would testify. The higher you go the rarer the air and intenser the manipulation. The Raja of Manda would testify!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Boycott Google and Yahoo?

This article in Domain-b the online business magazine looks at whether a boycott of Google and Yahoo! is feasible, if at all.

Yahoo! the internet search engine, advertising medium, and e-mail supplier, helped the Chinese police to trace human rights-related e-mails, which has resulted in prosecution and a ten-year sentence for the journalist involved, Shi Tao. Yahoo!'s rival, Google, has agreed with China that in return for access, its Chinese site will block content that the Chinese government does not approve, for example those relating to human rights campaigns.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ibn Batuta's account of Akhubs

Liked this excerpt from Ibn Batuta's travel in Turkey. He speaks of a very hospitable tribe called Akhiya or Young Brotherhood. Note the way they choose their leader and how they treat guests.

We stayed here at the college mosque of the town, the principal of which was Shaykh Shihab ad-Din al-Hamawi. Now in all the lands inhabited by the Turkmens in Anatolia, in every district, town and village, there are to be found members of the organization known as the Akhiya or Young Brotherhood. Nowhere in the world will you find men so eager to welcome strangers, so prompt to serve food and to satisfy the wants of others, and so ready to suppress injustice and to kill [tyrannical] agents of police and the miscreants who join with them. A Young Brother, or akhi in their language, is one who is chosen by all members of his trade [guild], or the other young unmarried men, or those who live in ascetic retreat, to be their leader. This organization is known also as the Futuwa, or the Order of Youth. The leader builds a hospice and furnishes it with rugs, lamps, and other necessary appliances. The members of his community work during the day to gain their livelihood, and bring him what they have earned in the late afternoon. With this they buy fruit, food, and the other things which the hospice requires for their use. If a traveler comes to town that day they lodge him in their hospice; these provisions serve for his entertainment as their guest, and he stays with them until he goes away. If there are no travelers they themselves assemble to partake of the food, and having eaten it they sang and dance. On the morrow they return to their occupations and bring their earnings to their leader in the late afternoon. The members are called fityan (youths), and their leader, as we have said, is the akhi.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Language Indian "Ishtyle"

Something I posted on Shakespeare & Co

Let us take the name "Shankar" for instance and start on a journey from north to south of India and see how the name would be pronounced in each region of India.

Punjab: Shankar-uh

U.P.: Shankar-va

Maharashtra: Shankar-e

Karnataka: Shankara

Kerala: Shankar-an-oo

In the north the verb assumes a gender as in "Ladki jati thi".

In Marathi in addition to female of the species even inanimate objects take a feminine gender as in "Gadi geli hoti."

In Malayalam verbs do not assume a gender as in "Aval poi" or "Aval vannu." That's why most Malayalis say "Ladki jatha tha" instead of "Ladki jati thi." I guess, this applies to Bengali also.

Another Indianism is "Khana-bina," "train-bin," "bus-gis," and the like.

It is hilarious when all these linguistic groups work together in an office. Recently I found a note stuck to a toilet in the office where I work, "It's not use."

I thought may be toilets (more progressive colleagues call them "rest rooms") are only for show in this quasi-American BPO unit, and not to be used.

Or, it could be that the writer meant, "It's no use," meaning, it is of no use complaining about the lack of toilet papers, liquid soap, toilet flush, etc.

Or, it could be that "It's of no use," meaning what you do in the toilet is of no productive use and the company would have you working instead of wasting time in the loo. True, a lot of my colleagues carry out their kootchie-koos inside the toilet.

Then it ocurred to me that the man who wrote this probably meant, "Please do not use."