Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Manna for Internet writers!

All ye writers for the Internet (self included) this article by Mark Bernstein is like manna from heaven. Read it, digest it, ponder over it, and see how you can imbue it into your writing. Will be useful for blog writers as well. Well, the link is courtesy Soeb Fatehi.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Cyrus Broacha Became the Bakra

Yesterday I saw Cyrus Broacha fumble, stumble and get beaten up on MTV Bakra. For those not in the know MTV Bakra is a program that makes fun of people in real life situations and catch them with hidden cameras for viewers of the music channel. (I know this is a tad bothersome to sensitive souls like me and I do not approve of the tactics they employ, though I do laugh at the surprise on the faces of the Bakras when they are told they were conned.)

Broacha is the funny man whose jokes mainly center on barbershops where he cuts moustaches with garden shears, and meat choppers. He was trying his gag on a man who looked like a toughie. The toughie got irritated and slapped Broacha before the crew could intervene and save him. All for fun? What say? Are these channels so desperate to get viewers?

In another episode Broacha makes the same moves on a fairly senior man. The man was apparently in a hurry to go somewhere and just wanted a shave. The man was inconsolable and alleged that they were making fun of his age. He didn’t think what Broacha did was funny and he looked very upset. No amount of cajoling by the crew could make him smile.

Tip to Broacha and his ilk: Please, please select your bakras with care and do some much-needed soul searching. After all making fun of people and embarrassing them in public can, may be, lead to invasion of privacy, and consequent allegations of harassment.

Music Television Cyrus Broacha

Confession Time

Confession: Yeah, I have bungled on the layout template of my blog. Sorry folks it will be like this for some time till I can get my talented programmer friends to design a better template for me.

All I did was tinker with the html code and before I knew it things had gone haywire. I did a lot of “research and development” as my programmer friends call it and couldn’t quite pull off a coup, or, extricate me from the mess of my own creation.

So, folks, till then please to be bearing with me.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I wrote the report of the May 2006 readmeet of Caferati

Venue: A terrace with a view of flying jets and pigeons

The onus is upon me to prepare the readmeet report as I occupied the moderator’s chair at the May 2006 readmeet of Caferati. But how can I do justice to the report when I am nose-deep in work and fighting for survival?

So here is the bare essentials, minus all the usual fluff.

The ultimate distilled essence of it all? I will race through this for want of time. Apart from the fact that more than thirty-five people turned up for this meet (wonder what would happen when we touch a hundred) and the evening was rife with intelligent conversations, playful flirtations (one gentleman gallantly offered to kneel down and ask for a fair lady’s hand) and light banter that only writers can pull off. The mood and venue (courtesy Mayuri Sharma or M!) was definitely exhilarating and soul lifting.

The evening was warm, and when I reached Mayuri’s terrace I found I was alone in the company of screaming jet flying overhead (we had to interrupt readings to let the huge metal birds pass) and pigeons perched in a neat line on an overhead television cable. From where I stood surveying the scenery I could see a parrot-green-painted building in the distance.

Mayuri came up looking a bit flustered, as the chairs she had hired hadn’t come. To further compound her dithering the chair vendor had switched off his mobile thingamajig. But I must admit Mayuri is a gracious hostess, the “laughter potion” mentioned below will testify to that. Suniti came fresh and looking relaxed and full of verve and one-liners (as always) with Hemant in tow and Hemant started shooting the pigeons with his Sony camera. I vote to nominate Hemant as our official paparazzi. Hemant and Suniti also spotted the parrot-green-painted building in the distance.

And, oh, yes, the chair man came by then and we arranged the chairs in an oval and I sat at the head of the oval, since I was the official chairman, not, chair man, please note.

Slowly the other Caferati members started trickling in and the surprise addition was Anubhav Pal, playwright from New York, whose “Fatwa” was being read at the end of the readmeet by none other than Vivin Mathew Easo (remember him from our Kala Ghoda meet?), Peter Griffin, and Manish Lakhe. The play readers proved they were master actors too by bringing to life the characters with their diction and enunciation. This, while Vivin confessed that he hadn’t even read a word of the play.

What made the play reading more interesting was the discussion with Anubhav Pal at the end of Act I. Anubhav has a whacky sense of humor. When someone suggested the characters of Michael Jordan and Mohamed Ali shouldn’t be man and man but could have been man and woman, he said, “People say this all this time, it shouldn’t be man and man it should be man and woman, you know, I say why not man and horse?”

Hahahahahahahahahaha, sorry for getting carried away! But that was the kind of humor that was unreeled. The play may debut in Delhi, if Dan can get sponsors, and Delhi people please watch out, this play will have you quaking in your seats.

Those who came included: Malcolm Carvalho, Rohinton Daruvala, Arjun Bali, Mukul, Yati, Rashmi Dhanwani, Merril Diniz, Manisha Lakhe, Sonia Menezes, Laxmi Lobo, Pallavi Jayakar, Anubhav Pal with three friends (I didn’t note their names), Suniti Joshi, Vishal, Vivin Mathew Easo, Jane Bhandari with a distinguished-looking friend (again, don’t know his name), Peter Griffin, Jugal Mody (who walked in late, groggy after jaundice and exams), Ajit Jani, Mayuri Sharma, Sourav Roy, Gauri Bhure, etc. If I have left out someone, please let me know, I didn’t recognize a few faces, though I consider myself a veteran of readmeets by now.

The food spread out included poha, cakes, sandwiches, and coffee. I guess Mayuri mixed the coffee with some “laughter potion” and therefore there was a lot of hearty laughter all around after the food was served, and eaten. Thank you Mayuri for your kindness and hospitality.

Sonia Menezes is off to Canada next month. No, not for a junket, but for ever. We will miss her. She was the inspiration for my short story “Flirting in Short Messages.” I, and Caferati, will miss her. Bye Sonia, may you do well wherever you are and do keep in touch!

Oh, by the way, I was there too! Anybody see the guy in the pony tail?

Hemant’s photographs

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Delhi - A Revisitation

It’s akin to visiting my foster mother, today,

That I am returning to you, mother city, after twenty years,

I look at your broad, bereft streets, mater,

Through which emperors, prime ministers cavalcaded,

In victory and defeat, through gates and triumphal arches,

That murmur of the pains of your rape and impregnation.

The sudden shock of your poverty upsets me,

It is evident in the desperation of the cycle-rickshaw puller,

His eyes intent on the ground, standing on his pedals,

He pulls his woes, as if there is no halcyon tomorrows.

Your grimy streets are dusty, high walled, impenetrable,

As if you wish to guard the gory secrets within.

Is this where histories, dynasties were made, and fallen?

A dynasty now rules by proxy the city of the great Akbar,

And a fratricide of a potentate now fills you with awe,

When you are the city of kingly fratricides and parricides.

Remember how Dara Shukoh was marched and beheaded, by his kin

In your own street of Chandni Chowk, of not long ago?

The secrets of the present and past mingle,

Where now stand glitzy malls, I know, blood had flowed,

In your dark corners soldiers, spies, princes plotted to kill,

You witnessed stoically the dethroning of emperor Shah Jehan,

And the ascendance of his wily progeny, Aurangazeb,

As you watched, your face covered in the folds of your veil.

Yet, now, mother city, your tears are dry, your sobs silent,

Slowly you die, spent and ravaged by your many lovers.

Though it is kitsch melodies that you hum today, you were once,

Serenaded by Tansen, and Amir Khushro Dehlavi,

In your parlor once, poets and artists did conclave,

Over the “daughter of grapes” and the smell of tobacco!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Slave Trade in This Day and Age?

Read the following news in The Times of India recently. Sorry, I didn’t note the date, careless me. Has something to do with growing old, I guess. (-;hmmm;-)

“Mumbai: Seven persons, including a woman, who had come to push four girls into the flesh trade, were arrested by the Vile Parle police on Wednesday afternoon.

Acting on a tip-off, a police team discuised themselves as customers and invited the sellers – identified as Kutubdin Hussain, Mohammed Mistry, Mohammed Shaukat, Vijay Mandal, Ajit Gazi, Nizam Ali, Noorjahan Hussain and Namita Mistry – to the Bawa International hotel near the domestic airport at Santa Cruz. As soon as they arrived with the four girls in a private car, the police arrested them. The four girls who were to be sold have been sent to a rehabilitation center at Chembur.” – Times News Network.

Seems hard to believe, but trafficking in women is the world’s third biggest racket after gun running, and drugs. Sorry to note that a major center of such trafficking is India where girls are procured from villages with promises of marriage by handsome dudes and then sold to brothels.

This also forms the background theme of my novel “The Love Song of Luke Varkey.” This novel is the story of two loveless migrants who meet in a Mumbai pub on pure happenstance and, thereafter, the man is madly in love, with the woman, who else? Then, by a play of fate, they are sucked away into two types of still extend slave trading rackets that flourish in India. Id est, the slave trading of women to brothels (mentioned in the news story above) in Mumbai and the slave trading of men as cheap labor to the Persian Gulf countries (I worked there!).

Seems mankind will ever be haunted by the specter of slave trade and slavery despite holistic pontifications to the contrary.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Despite beautiful models, cola sales are down!

Now they had to go and prove themselves, our ad guys, which is that they are losing touch. I read in this article that cola sales are down despite advertising spends. Now as a ring-side viewer fo this interesting industry (can I take the liberty to call it that considering it is only ideas and mouse clicks they survive on?) I have been apalled by the bad quality of cola advertising.

Examples abound, here are a few:

"***** bhujaye pyas, baki sab bakwas."
"Thande ka thadka." Yes the Aamir Khan one. It rankles, yetch.
"Ghar chalte hain." With the guys leaping from a mountain on their bikes.
"P**** TV" featuring the charming Kareena and Priyanka

Now, come on guys, what's wrong? Have you lost it or have I? You used to turn out such lovely ads at one time. Don't tell me the days of Brendon Pereira, Mohammed Khan, and Brinston Miranda have been forgotten. Has the craze to go to Cannes not made you any wiser about subtlety in advertising? With ads like this you surely aren't helping the cola companies, any more than their poor fagged out uniform-walla executives.

Any one here read David Ogilvy? "A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself." The sad part is they have already drawn attention to themselves, i.e., mine! For more of Ogilvy's quotes go here.

As for using curvaceous film stars for cola ads, or, any ads for that matter The Times of India recently featured an excerpt from a study in Journal of Consumer Research which states, "Only when consumers are either unable or unwilling to consider the spokesperson's credibility, they rely on the spokesperson's attractiveness. When consumers are focused on the ad and they believe their thinking to be influenced by something about the spokesperson, attractive spokespeople may be less persuasive than relatively unattractive spokespeople."

Or in short beautiful film stars aren't always effective in promoting colas. Oh, what a waste! Perhaps the millions could have been spent on deserving models.