Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Do Not Cross Railway Tracks!

Riveting stuff, this video! Crossing railway tracks at unauthorized crossings is dangerous. It has cost many people their lives as can be seen in this captivating video. Got this in the mail so can’t give credits, but, I guess, it is only for fair use as there is a social message involved.

And this fact from the World Socialist Website: http://www.wsws.org :

“’The Hindustan Times commented in its Sunday edition: “Indian Railways possibly runs the most unsafe service in the world. If the trains aren't killing people in collisions, then they are running over people at manned and unmanned crossings ... the body count is too high for anyone to feel safe in a train.” Pointing to the poor state of railway infrastructure, it added: “The railways today have 11,928 kilometers (7,455 miles) of broad gauge and 4,700 kilometers (2,937 miles) of meter gauge waiting to be replaced.’”

Monday, October 30, 2006

Random Thoughts on a Monday Morning

A couple of random pieces for today, got to keep blogging, to avoid mental clogging, you know.

I would like to rename the 8.28 local from CBD Belapur (where I live) to Victoria Terminus (now CST, something) as the “Meatpacking Express.” Meat, meat and lots of it, soft, supple, sweaty, and hot. Honestly, there are so many chubby bodies so close and tightly packed like I have seen in frozen chicken factories. And they are all in their own worlds. I am new to commuting by train these days as I work in Andheri, and feel the three years I spent working in New Bombay, close to home was heaven. And the trains are so packed – an index of India’s population problem, I guess – that people are standing between your legs. As you sit down, people stand in the space between two seats where you are seated. And this is the first class compartment I am talking about, not the cattle-class compartment.

And everyone around me are pretty stressed on this Monday morning. One man is chanting a Mantra under his breath, his lips moving regularly, and he seems so stressed that his chanting is coming out in bursts of breath that hit my cheek. Another is reading a spiral bound office manual, something about “Capital Charge for Credit Risk” and it seems he understands such stuff. Reinforces my belief that anything can be learnt if you keep at it long enough.

Then I see this advertisement about airline tickets for Rs 499 and wonder why I have not been able to get my hands on one despite trying hard enough. Now this is a case for Advertising Standards Council (ASCI) which I headed as Executive Secretary not long ago (Yeah, another one of my fifteen odd jobs. I am the original rolling stone). The claim is false and whatever tickets are offered are cornered by staff or cohorts of the airlines. A fraud to fuel the greed of these competitive airlines. Advertisements are getting bolder in their claims and it seems ASCI is not doing enough.

There is something called surrogate advertising that advertisers use to get over the ban on liquor advertising. They would manufacture a few batches of mineral water and give it the same name as the whiskey they manufacture. The advertisement would tom-tom the mineral water while everyone knows it is the whiskey advertisement. Nowadays they do not even bother to be so smart aleck. I saw a couple of giant Seagrams hoardings at Vashi that openly flouted the ASCI code and it seems nobody is bothered.

Now back to the Meatpacking Express. If you even touch a man on the back in the process of getting out of this giant flesh train, you get murderous looks. The process of getting out of these trains is as difficult as childbirth, or what I have seen of it. First there are the induced spasms by everyone pushing towards the door, and then there is the actual ejection on the to the platform and the cries of relief and arguments about who pushed whom. I go through this everyday and it is a merry circus, I must say.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Ghastly Accident. Who's to Blame?

Five of a family killed in a vehicle accident. The family is that of a friend's cousin's. They were returning from Goa when a truck rammed into their Maruti Zen car. Of the seven people in the car, five died, two children who survived are in intensive care. What had started as a holiday trip for pleasure has ended in tragedy. Many cases, many incidents come to mind. I wonder if it is worth the while to buy a vehicle at all. After securing my driving licence, I have not bothered to update my skills or buy a car. Poor, poor, me. I have been putting off the decision for long, though I do see greenery when I see other people's cars, their safe havens in this hostile world, their abode on the roads.

What's at fault is the system of training drivers. My trainer gave me perfunctory lessons, and expected me to drive on a four-lane highway. I did it with his help. The test for a licence was another farce. I didn't even steer a car on a road. I just drove it around the Registered Traffic Officer's (RTO's) compound and was considered eligble for a licence. A friend says that a heavy driver's licence is easy to obtain in Bombay, where anyone can walk away with it as here anything can be bought with money. No wonder I see all those speeding trucks in Bombay with small kids - the age of my son - at the wheels, driving as if they were Michael Schumachers in the making. A small mistake of theirs can cause death and grief to a lot of people. Do they realize that, do they even care?

Meanwhile, the family I mentioned is devastated. A mother, her two sons, and two daughters-in-law are dead, the entire family has been wiped out, well, almost. The survivors are two innocent children, parentless, and friendless. Another casualty of a lax training system for vehicles. I think the RTO who gave the licence to the offending driver should be responsible. Hopefully, this could curb the random giving away of driving licences to all who can start a car and make a few turns on the steering wheel.
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Friday, October 27, 2006

A Column by a Busybee Called Behram

Read this column by Behram Contractor, by apro (our) own Busybee. Now don’t ask me who is Busybee and I will ask, “What, you don’t know Busybee?” Okay, okay, okay, (throwing up hands, these brash youngsters!) he belonged to another age of Irani Restaurants (not baristas), evening newspapers (Evening News from Times of India, Bulletin from Free Press), and the little column that appeared in Evening News’ last page called “Round and About” by someone called the “Busybee.”

That was another age, wasn’t it? I know, I am growing old, and when I read this piece in “The Upper Crust” magazine’s website, I went all watery in the eye. I met Behram a few times at the David Sassoon Library and we had a few common friends. He was very soft-spoken and would hardly speak a few words at a time. His writing style was something else. Brief, pithy, guaranteed to bring a smile on even the dullest of evenings. On Saturdays he started his columns thus, “Another Saturday, a few observations, a few points of view, all my own work.” And he would go on to make the most pithy and poignant observations about film stars, politicians (his politician friend who lived on the eleventh floor), Irani restaurants, brun maska, tea coffee, and the quintessential Bombay, or, what was then the quintessential Bombay.

Behram was Behram and a Busybee at that, always observing and writing in his engaging style. Folks, read it and enjoy its simplicity. His friends still miss him dearly. I wasn’t so close as to call him a friend, but I liked him and the few times we spoke the beatific smile would never leave his face. Well, as I said that was another Bombay, in another slice of time, that we all forgot.


 


 

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cultural Prizes and Prizes as Culture

This article in the Guardian talks about how awards have turned into cultural totem poles that writers uphold to show their power and prestige in the literary firmament. Nay, it is not confined to things literary per se, even the music and entertainment industry endorse the creation of cultural icons, idols, by heaping awards on their already famous sons (being a writer I am more concerned with how awards affect the hallowed literary wordosphere). Not fair, the article warns, as many deserving, struggling, starving authors, musicians, lyricists, story-tellers are likely to be ignored in the process. True, once awarded the Booker/Oscar, the book/movie carries on with the new tag, "Winner of Booker/Oscar" and goes on to sell a few more million books/tickets, but at what costs? A celebrity is created with the detritus of the deserved acclaim of a hundred writers who languish in anonymity, a book is made a bestseller by sacrificing sales of a hundred other deserving ones. A celebrity writer is "Ooh-, aaah-ed," by the all, deliberately ignoring a few writers who do not even get read by agents and publishing houses. In fact, as they say, "The bitch goddess Success favours the already successful."

In India I guess the system is similar, but a bit more vicious. Here authors are directly in touch with publishers, and publishers do not even entertain first-time authors. Writers aren't welcome in publishing houses, "Let your work speak for itself," one editor tells me eyeing my warily. Speak from under the slush pile, I want to ask. Recently an editor in a publishing house returned my manuscript five months after I submitted it, with a lot of internal office stationery attached to it. "What am I going to do with it?" I wonder. All those returned manuscripts have formed their own slush pile beside my desk, a grim reminder of the progress of my writing career. This is accompanied by my worst nightmares of remaining unpublised.

Some excerpts from the article:

"He would have been even more indignant today. For ours is truly the age of awards. Prizes are becoming the ultimate measure of cultural success and value. One prize inevitably spawns another, in imitation or reaction, as the perceived male dominance of the Booker spawned the Orange Prize for women's fiction. There are now so many, in so many different fields, that it can be difficult to find a professional artist, writer or journalist who has not been shortlisted for a prize."

"The culture is no longer so patient. In a time of information overload - of cultural excess and superabundance - our taste is being increasingly created for us by prize juries and award ceremonies. Art is beginning to resemble sport, with its roster of winners and losers and its spectacles of competition: the Oscars, the Baftas, the Brits. Indeed, the larger cultural festivals and prizes, such as the Venice Biennale, the Oscars and the Nobels, are consciously imitative of international sporting competitions like the Olympics."
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

immense world: 50 Interesting Science Facts

Here's for all ye science fiction lovers, something to chew cud on: immense world: 50 Interesting Science Facts. Did you know that:

In October 1999 an Iceberg the size of London broke free from the Antarctic ice shelf?
If you could drive your car straight up you would arrive in space in just over an hour?
Human tapeworms can grow up to 22.9m?

There are forty-nine more of such amazing scientific facts that would make you go, "Did I read right?" Yes, you read it, and, don't forget, you got the link on my blog.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Three Months after the Bomb Blasts in Bombay

Yesterday I passed over the spots that had recently (three months ago) been rocked by bombs that exploded simultaneously in many stations along the western route of the suburban Bombay railway. Stations such as Borivli, Andheri, and Mira Road where the bombs had ripped through steel compartments. There was fear in my heart as I passed these stations, crowded with people, their anxiety like a mask on their tired faces, returning from work, weary and exploited. There was nothing to remind one of these ghastly incidents, not even a trace. In fact, I was thinking, "God, don't let anything happen now, let not anything happen now." Security was visible only at the entrances, nothing to deter a determined terrorist.

I wondered how vulnerable we have become to hostage situations where bargaining is done under threat of killing innocents. How can they kill innocents and gain anything. I am talking of Gujarat as well as Bombay. Many theories have been bandied about about the causes of the explosions. If there is peace, it is an uneasy peace, a tentative calm. A few days before the explosions a communal party had burnt and looted many shops in Bombay as a statue of their founder's wife was desecrated by vandals. I guess the bombs were a sort of retribution for that, coming as it did immediately after the provocation, as a sort of "hands off" warning. I could be wrong here, I don't know.

Anyway, the deed has been done, the seeds of fear sown, and the harvest has been bitter, unproductive. There is smouldering bitterness in the look on people's faces, as I could gauge from looking at them. Today's papers front paged the news that the CBI (the Indian FBI) has found clear evidence of the the ISI's (Pakistan's Secret Service) hand in what they call "the 7/11 blasts." Ever since 9/11 entered the human conscience there has been no end to the "dash/dash" phenomena, most of them related to terrorist or natural calamities. I can hear mouths glibly verbalizing "7/11" as they dissect the acts no end, in a greed to get their own opinions across the hungry, and scoop-crazy media. "7/11 happened because of this, this and this," I can hear them.

What about the victims? Some of them are still in hospital, in a comma, some of them have had multiple surgeries performed and don't know whether they would be able to live a normal life again. Amen! (No offense is meant against any community or governmental agency from this blog posting.)
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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kiran Desai Reads from the Booker Prize Winner "The Inheritance of Loss"

To hear Kiran Desai read from her Booker Winning novel "The Inheritance of Loss" click here (sorry, the link on Johnwriter's Literary Show on the right panel doesn't work. I am working towards redeeming this, mucho gracias). Also here is the article by Pankaj Mishra that accompanied the reading in New York Times an excerpt from which appears below:

"This leaves most people in the postcolonial world with only the promise of a shabby modernity — modernity, as Desai puts it, "in its meanest form, brand-new one day, in ruin the next." Not surprisingly, half-educated, uprooted men like Gyan gravitate to the first available political cause in their search for a better way. He joins what sounds like an ethnic nationalist movement largely as an opportunity to vent his rage and frustration. "Old hatreds are endlessly retrievable," Desai reminds us, and they are "purer . . . because the grief of the past was gone. Just the fury remained, distilled, liberating.""

My grouse with diasporic writers is that they tend to denigrate, or, patronize India by writing long passages about the exotic India where Indian live in an antique world full of superstitions, mangoes, pickles, run down neighbourhoods without actually learning about the hearts and minds of the people who inhabit them. They try to exoticise without really understanding the undercurrents of Indian society. What Desai calls "shabby modernity" is also what is turning out brilliant programming code that runs most of the world today. Thus Jhumpa Labiri's "Namesake" which I am reading now, is full of India though it is set in the US, about customs of a Bengali family, and a lot of visuals that would be a treat for people who say they like India.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cricket Commentary Now and Then

Saw the West Indies – Australia Champions Trophy match last night on television. The match was played at the Brabourne Stadium, yes, the Brabourne Stadium. (Brings fond memories of Vijay Merchant’s stentorian voice piping over the All India Radio, stressing every syllable carefully as some Gujaratis do, “This is your commentator Vijay Merchant from Brabourne Stadium.” It was another day and age, long , ago. There was no television those days and the only way of relaying the proceedings on the pitch was the trusted All India Radio. They knew their cricket and cricketing history and could immediately quote statistics and what match was played where and who scored what. There were some colorful characters and one was JRF Taleyarkhan (What do you think “Jimmy?” Vijay would ask), another was the statistician fondly called “Mama” and another was Polly Umrigar, all have faded away from memory to be replaced by Mandira Bedi, Charu (something), and, Sidhu.

That brings me to what I am waffling towards, has become a habit these days, these waffling, I mean. What purpose do Mandira and Sidhu serve. Firstly Mandira has no knowledge of the game, and most of the time she is completely lost, pouting, blushing, batting eyelids, and saying inane things like, “Isn’t that how it is supposed to be,” to Charu, who can easily bring out the most obvious comments that can ever be thought about. They add nothing to the viewer’s knowledge, absolute nothing.

And now I come to Sidhu. Well Sidhu has his Sidhuisms, for which he has become world famous, but should he be overdoing it the way he is doing. No offense. I like some of his Sidhuisms like, “Bicycles falling” and “Light at the end of the tunnel is the train coming toward you,” but, God, should he be in the overdrive that he is in, at present? When a bowler took a wicket, he said, “He is over the moon.” Come on, slow down the train a bit will you?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ode to a Stolen Mobile Phone!

I don’t have a mobile phone, I feel cut off, I feel alienated. It happened thus, I guess it had to. I was boarding a bus at Andheri East. There was a crowd at the entrance, an unyielding mass of people, not budging an inch (which is usual for people as me who commute to make a living). I tried to make my way inside, and was hanging by one hand, almost out of the bus, quite precariously. I decided that I would have to get down and not carry on this way. So I got down.

Then I felt my pockets to see if my wallet, credit cards, ATM cards (all desiderata of modern life) are safe. But no, my mobile case was empty. I couldn’t believe it! They had stolen my mobile phone. The realization was shattering, mind-numbing! I had all my contacts’ telephone number and hadn’t bothered to keep what is called a “hard copy,” i.e., a written copy.

I felt like sitting down there and crying! Oh, God, no, not to me, not to me. I had heard of other people losing their mobile phones. Not my Nokia color mobile phone with internet surfing features, games, FM radio, the gizmo had everything. And the last installment wasn’t even paid up. In short, I was inconsolable, my rage and disappointment was, needless to say, immense.

But then thinking about it a bit more, a poem occurred to me. I wrote my mobile phone a poem, a sonnet.

Sonnet for Stolen Mobile Phone

You were small, curvy, and cute,

Full of lively chatter and, sometimes mute,

For hours I would wait for your ring,

That set my pulse racing.


 

You spoke to me in several lingos,

Mallu, Hindi, English, Bambaiya patois,

A ventricle and aorta full of feelings,

Elations, greetings, glad tidings.


 

Then one evening, I know not,

Who stole you from me, my Camelot,

Are your rings dead, are you still alive?

Has he de-SIM-ed you, would you survive?


 

Please come back to me, I miss you,

Without you, I am not me, without me, you won’t be you!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Commuting Blues!

You have, of course, read the post that appears below this about the human traffic jam. Today’s experience was equally weird. Now I am working in Andheri which is one and a half hour commute from home, and on the other side of Bombay. I commute to Kurla by train and then board a rickshaw, the ingenious creation of the Indian mind, to Andheri East.Now, Kurla is always, has always been a crowded place, from as long as I can remember (that is from the age of eight, when I came to live in Bombay). Rickshaws, people, beggars, cars, buses, handcarts, hawkers, anything and everything can be found there. The result is a traffic jam that would boggle the mind every time a bus overtakes another, or, a rickshaw turns turtle (yes, they do sometimes!). I was in the midst of such a mess up, rickshaws, cars, buses all lined along the road in one unyielding, roaring, mass of steel. Indian vehicles, I mean, all Indian vehicles, make a lot of noise. Their engines aren’t efficient enough to run smoothly, may be, my biased opinion. This is considering I have lived abroad and know that their engines make less noise. I was sitting in this huge roar that issued from rickshaws from all sides, and some drivers were merrily leaning on their horns, some were cursing and some were yelling at the top of their voices, yes, as much as they could raise their naturally loud voices. Deafening, maddening, vicious and inconsiderate, that’s what I thought of all the noises virtually deafening my ears. In the midst of it all was a cute girl, totally lost to the world, listening to FM radio stations on her mobile phone. Why do we love noise so much? We are a noisy people. Without noise we feel lost and at a loss. We are loud, our music is loud (anyone who has heard Himesh Reshamiya would attest to this) and we are a nation of talkers. Or, would you agree, considering HR is such a rage these days?Another scary thing happened, this time, on Saturday. I was wearing my salvar-kurta for the office lunch party at Rodas Hotel in Powai. I was returning after a hard day of work and as I entered the train at Kurla, people stared, yes, they actually stared at me. A man refused to budge when I requested to be let into the seating area, another preferred to offer a seat to another man, though I was standing near him, another gave me a look – the sort people give suspicious ones, supercilious, mouth curled and all that – from the head to the toes. Profiling! They were profiling me, and that was a scary thought. What were they thinking? The Bombay bomb blast has made a lot of train commuters rather finicky, I think. But this was over-reacting, wasn’t it?

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Futuristic Short Story 2100: The Long Commute

Read my science fiction story 2100: The Long Commute. The story’s gist, if you please, is this. It is the year 2100 and there is a long commute the protagonists has to do from New Bombay (where he lives) to Bangalore (where he works). He meets his friend Shashi who madly in love, but Goohoo (the corporation formed by the merger of Google and Yahoo), the corporation he works for, isn’t kind to lovers and, love, in general. Pliss to be kind enough to excuse a few typos. As you know the keyboard devil has been haunting me quite a lot these days. I am working on a re-write. Meanwhile, you can comment there, or, here.

Vignettes

Have you been in a human traffic jam? You have heard of a motor vehicle traffic jam where the cars, buses, lorries and other hoggers of road space pile up and stick their fingers in the air to display their inner urges.

It happened to me today. I was at Kurla from where I change to Andheri to the place of work. While climbing the steps to the bridge that would lead me to the west of Kurla, there was this absolute mass of people, unmoving, unbudging, as if the whole thick mass of flesh was one entity. I waited. Then again the whole mass moved a step, just as it does in a traffic jam. Then it stopped. Then it went ahead a step and then it stopped.

Now, about the moral of the story, and a little sermonizing which I am fond of. After all, when you are my age (which you will be) you always compare these things with what it used to be. Young people who are living in the present adapt immediately, but older people question everything that has the label of newness on it. Overpopulation, over-stressed resources, bugbears of modern living: anxiety levels were high, a man was touching me patronizingly on the shoulder, “Take your hands off,” I almost shouted.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kiran Desai winning the Booker is good news. Here's the New York Times article that praises her cross cultural saga. I have no issues with that. But what had rankled me once was her mother Anita Desai deriding the lot of struggling Indian authors.

True, we Indian authors aren't up to the mark, we aren't that publishing savvy, our manuscripts return with editorial comments like "what crap" scrawled in the margin, and editors write, "If it was somebody I could have helped, I would definitely meet," and crap like that to struggling authors.

To published authors who hold their noses in the air and look down upon struggling authors, I have one thing to say: "There is a lot of talent out there, but it's only that in the daily struggle of making a living we don't have the time to focus on our writing. So we would be content, for the time being, shall we say, with writer's networks like Caferati and Shakespeare & Co.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rushdie Sells His Personal Papers

Here's a story for all ye committed, die-hard, whatever, Rushdie fans. Brenda Goodman reports in this article that Rushdie has sold his personal papers to Emory University, Atlanta. Now author's papers command great value since his journals, notes, manuscripts, handwritten notes, and even signatures [no matter if they are on bills or cleaning tissue] carry great value. I have preserved two letters written me by two wonderful women writers Arundhati Roy and Shobha De (; guess they would be of great literary value when I and the said writers grow old;).

"Mr. Rushdie, 59, will also join the faculty in 2007 for five years as a distinguished writer in residence. Stephen C. Enniss, director of Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Books Library, said the collection contained original manuscripts of all of Mr. Rushdie’s books, including two early, unpublished novels, as well as journals that he said Mr. Rushdie kept “compulsively” for 36 years. The journals he has written since 1989 — when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa authorizing his murder because of the irreverent portrayal of Muhammad in his book “The Satanic Verses” — will remain closed “for a period,” Mr. Enniss said; Mr. Rushdie plans to use the material to write an autobiography. “I would like to have first go at this story; after that, everyone else can do as they please with the material,” Mr. Rushdie confirmed in an e-mail message. "

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Are Colleges for If Not for Education?

Before I knew it, I was arguing with my son.

"You know something, it's not good to cut classes, saying you have assignments and homework, which you should have finished when you were channel surfing. What do I pay your fee for? I pay almost sixty grand every year to your college. If you cut classes, that's going to be a waste. Besides this I pay tuition fees, pocket money, bike maintenance, clothes, not to talk of surround sound systems," I shout.

My ire is legitimate. This year the engineering college where my son is studying hiked fee from forty-six grand to fifty-six, without even a "by your leave."

"But they don't teach anything in college, then why should I attend it? My coaching class teaches better than them," the cool dude says.

"Then what are the fancy fee for? For chandeliers and leather sofas (there are quite a lot of them in the college he studies)?" I rave and I rant.

Writes Gurcharan Das in this article  in Newsweek about why so many Indians are succeeding in the global-knowledge economy [y'know call centers, and all], "Government-run schools are a mess: a national study by Harvard University faculty found that on any given day, one out of four teachers in state-run primary schools is absent, and of those present half are not teaching." I guess the same situation prevails in engineering colleges. I am told by a teacher friend that because teachers aren't available for scheduled caste teachers' vacancies [in India jobs are pre-reserved for members of certain marginalized and downtrodden people, segregated according to their traditional castes], colleges are employing teachers on a casual basis, paying them a fixed fee per lecture.

Then where is all the money the government spends on education going? Corruption exists on a level one, at least, you and I, can't imagine in these institutions. Would you believe that permissions for engineering and medical colleges are the preserve of a few politically-anointed individuals? And that money is the consideration for admission to these colleges, not merit?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Frankfurt Book Fair on a Dull Note....

Seems the Frankfurt Book Fair where India is the partner country has been subdued according to this report by Herbert R. Lottman. Reason? Terrorist threat, still persistent, after security has, well, I will use the cliche after all, been beefed up.

"Security was reinforced--"massively," as fair management informed visitors," reads the article, though what threats terrorists can pose to a book fair, foxes me. But, wait a minute, books are about ideologies and, yes, in that case. Wasn't Rushdie given a fatwa because of a book?

One wonders why Frankfurt is such a big draw for exhibitions and fairs? The reason is that after the Second World War, Germany was devastated and they needed something to rebuild their economy. So they positioned themselves as the exhibition capital of the world, a position that Singapore occupies as the exhibition capital of Asia.

Sad to say, a similar effort was made by an exhibition company to project Bombay as the trade fair center of Asia, which failed due to various apathies that need not be mentioned here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why Writing is Harder than Programming (Paul Graham)

To those who think writing, is, or rather, has always been easy, here's an article that will shake you out of that misconception, or, mindset, - Why Writing is Harder than Programming (Paul Graham).

That said, I was approached recently to write the documentation of a software that was already into implementation. I asked, "Why didn't you have a writer doing the documentation as you were writing the code?" Okay, okay, coding is tough, coding is specialized, coding is nerve wracking. But, gentlemen, writing, too, is all this! So, you assumed you could save some money. Great, now, suffer.

Heard the Malayalam saying, "Utharathile edukkukayum venam, kashathile pokukayum aruthu," meaning wanting to take what is kept on the lintel while not losing what is in the armpit.

Now when it come to software projects why are there twenty-five programmers and only one writer, if at all? People, whatever the misconceptions you are harboring, writing isn't easy. Ask Paul Graham.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

We are like this only! Pushing, pushing, chalo, chalo!

The man at the back of me says, "Chalo, Chalo, Chalo," while prodding me gently somewhere in my dorsal region, around where my kidneys would normally be. Normally, because now I am tightly wedged between the man at the back, whose face I can't see, and a man with sweaty armpits in front.

"What's the hurry," I say, "the train ends its journey here, in CBD Belapur. It will be here for another ten minutes."

"But I won't get a window seat, na? I want that particular seat. My friends from other stations look at that seat. Besides, I have to read the holy book, and throw flowers into the sea when it crosses the Vashi Bridge."

So I let the man pass ahead of me. Minutes later, he and I are getting down at Kurla station and he is again prodding me, this time around the solar plexus, and, "Chalo, chalo, chalo," he says.

I have seen this in stations, municipal offices, banks, in fact, anywhere a bunch of Indian could possibly be, even airports. No sooner the aircraft comes to a stop than there is pushing and jostling, swearing, and "Chalo, Chalo, Chalo," this time a bit more subtly considering that "firangi [foreign] madams and hawai sundaris [flying beauties]" are around.

But go anywhere, we will be pushing, dhakafying, shoving, cursing, women molesting, because, "We are like this only, no?"
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Monday, October 02, 2006

Mark Foley, What Folly? Sharukh on CNN-IBN!

Well, well, read this article about Republican congressman Mark Foley who is in the thick of allegations that he exchanged sexually explicit emails with house pages (a page is a a boy who is employed to run errands for congressmen, and are usually teenagers).


"Foley, a well-liked Florida Republican who cochaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, resigned abruptly Friday afternoon after ABC News confronted him with graphic, sexual computer messages between Foley and a page. The e-mails refer explicitly to sexual acts, with Foley expressing his desire to remove the teen's shorts."

What's so unlikely and shocking is that Foley is a person responsible for "Missing and Exploited Children," and in this case of the fence eating the crop, or the treasurer appropriating the treasure, was expected to be responsible in his conduct. Makes one wonder why people in children-related positions aren't screened before being appointed. From this story it seems that even an Indian NGO was involved in trafficking children, to be then put up for adoption.

Saw today the Sharukh Khan interview on CNN-IBN. Must say he is a very articulate person with a prosaic and, well, intelligent bent of mind. Do take a look.
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Future of Books As We Know It. Sony Reader is here.

Got this from friend, fellow blogger and crime writer John Baker's blog.

The Sony Reader is the future of books as we know it. What's more is that it can hold, not one, but 80 electronic books or hundreds more with a removable memory card. The manufacturer claims that it is easy to carry as a slim paper back. So want to read Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, and Vikram Chandra on your vacation to Goa? Go straight ahead. Download these ebooks from ereader to your Sony Reader and then, as you slowly recline under your beach umbrella, scroll down (don't have to fold the book front to back) and enjoy!
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