Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shobha De Enjoys Blogging, Welcome to Blogosphere, Shobha-tai!

The latest Shobha De Blog has this item about how Vijay Mallya (he of the failed Royal Challenger team in Indian Premier League, if you don’t know what this is, it’s the latest in cricketing follies being played by 22 fools and watched by 2.2 billion fools) is taking defeat and being blasé about it too. He is exhorting all and sundry (and beer guzzlers) to have Kingfisher beer and enjoy the finals on Sunday. Nice guy, always positive, always smiling, always so, so forward-looking I might add.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Look Who's Blogging! Chuck Palahniuk!

Yesterday I stumbled on thee blog of the cult writer Chuck Palahniuk, he of the “Fight Club” fame, with thousands of young writers, just craving, yeah, just crrraaavvving to write like him. Know what I mean?

Here’s him crowing, rather, going gaga over 10 awesome movie monologues. Considering Brad Pitt was all incoherent monologue in “Fight Club” I wonder why he got hooked to monologues. Hmm, talk of subliminal influences.

"You see, I think I'm addicted to lists. Lists-making that is. 90 % of the time, these lists are on a post-it, and have such important tasks on them as, "Call Mom.." or "Need quarters for laundry..." or "Don't forget to bury the body!". So you can see that spread the gamut actually.

"But the other day at my film internship, while bored, I came up with this list!"

10 awesome movie monologues.

Considering his awesome talent, I cogitate, it is something worth looking at.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Harry Potter Actor Stabbed in London!

This piece of information will worry all parents of teenagers. It says the UK there were 14 teenage killings this year. Really? What’s the figure for Mumbai, nobody knows. (I did a search and didn’t get any results.) Ho, hum.

“On Tuesday Robert Knox, 18, completed his part in the forthcoming Harry Potter film, and was signed up for the next instalment. By Saturday morning he was dead, killed in a fight outside a bar in Sidcup, south-east London, after apparently trying to protect his younger brother.”

What’s to blame? Is it the violence and mayhem they see in movies, or something else bothering them? And, believe me Harry Potter movies aren’t saintly, peace-preaching movies either. It too is full of violence and malevolence.

A number of issues, thoughts about this crops up. The media is crying that the police should be vigilant about youths carrying knives. Delving into some personal reminiscence some personal experiences jump at me. A boy who grew up with me and who kept a knife at all times, has become the country’s leading crime boss, and he was inspired by the movie – Don.

And they say movies don’t inspire crime. That’s like Clinton saying, “I smoked but didn’t inhale.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mozzam Sheikh's Short Story Collection "The Idol Lover"

This came via Moazzam Sheikh who is plugging his short story collection The Idol Lover in the US.

The following is the break-up of share of writing genres in the US.

Mystery/Detective: 17%
Romance: 11%
Science Fiction: 5.5%
Religion: 5%
Bio/Autobio: 4%
General Fiction: 3%
Espionage/Thriller: 3%
Cooking: 3%
History: 3%
Fantasy: 3%
Graphic Novels: 2%
Health & Fitness: 2%
Business/Econ: 2%
Horror/Occult: 2%
Computers: 2%

Wonder what the share in India would be. Not much different I guess.

Friday, May 23, 2008

After Sports, Now It's the Turn of Politics

The latest issue of Outlook has this story about how business is the prime mover in politics and how business lobbies help win elections. It also listed the business lobbies siding with the Congress: Information Technology, Infrastructure, Liquor, and Higher Education. This is with specific reference to Karnataka, but I think it has a point of reference in other states too, IMHO. Excerpt:

“Elections 2008 in Karnataka are all about powerful business lobbies and the influence they wield over key political parties. They have apparently had their way in the distribution of tickets, and now, the manner in which campaigns are run and votes are sought. So whichever party or coalition comes to power after results are out on May 25, it will have to pander to the lobbies which have backed it.”

After Indian Premier League this is bad news. That the gentleman’s game has been taken over was bad news, but now even politics has been made a tool in the hands of the powerful businessman. I mean, the bad news is that business and money power is taking over another hallowed precinct while we can only stand and stare. What happened to sports has happened to politics and what happened between Vijay Mallya and Rahul Dravid can also happen in politics, i.e., the businessman can ask, “What happened to your promises to me?”

There’s a by-election in New Bombay, where I live. A policeman who comes for a walk with me in the mornings confesses that at the place where he was posted there were hardly seven per cent polling. Why? Because they knew who will win even before the election was held, so people stayed away. How? Because the man who was ultimately going to win had the support of the local business, and was himself a businessman.

Need I say more?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Commuting Blues and Greys, and PYT Speaking into Cellphone

I wasn’t prepared for it. I was caught unawares. These things happen; well they do, only in morning rush hour in Bombay. I have travelled in public transport in Delhi, Bangalore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jeddah, Colombo, but have never been made to feel so humiliated and angry.

The train pulls up at Andheri station. I am standing at the door, holding the ------ about to get down. Now it’s the international norm that people disembark and and then people embark. Instead, a horde of hooligans dressed in the most decent business clothes buffet me from all sides, pushing me, shoving me, treating me like a twig caught in a raging stream. Imagine my plight as I got trod on, kicked, pushed, yes; they even spoke ugly words, so full of venom, which I can’t repeat here.

Mercy be, when I caught my breath, all I could say was mo********ing bas*****. Yes, that’s what they were, undisciplined, uncouth, uncivilised, in fact, un-everything. It’s surprising how brutish people can be, especially in Bombay’s public transport. I have travelled a few countries in the world, and even travelled in the Delhi metro, but I have never seen such barbarity being displayed to get a seat inside the train. If this was what was beneath the veneer of civility they put up, I have grave doubts about the much-taunted epithets of “resilient”, “friendly”, “welcoming” city of Bombay.

Ahem! Ever been caught behind a PYT talking into her cellphone headset with a mike to her lips. It can, oh God, be so very disconcerting to be behind this female specimen chattering about which train she boarded, what she ate, what she did to that guy, what she intends to do to that guy, what makes her sooo very angry, etc.

Monday, May 19, 2008

US Wastes 27 Per Cent of Food Available for Consumption

While I was carping here about Bush alleging that Indians were eating up all the world's food, this blog item in Boing Boing wove into vision. It says that the US wastes 27 per cent of food available for consumption.

"This NYT article on global food wastage is timely -- just as the food riots have begun to break out around the world -- and shocking. Makes me want to become a freegan.

"You’d never know it if you saw what was ending up in your landfill. As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.
Grocery stores discard products because of spoilage or minor cosmetic blemishes. Restaurants throw away what they don’t use. And consumers toss out everything from bananas that have turned brown to last week’s Chinese leftovers. In 1997, in one of the few studies of food waste, the Department of Agriculture estimated that two years before, 96.4 billion pounds of the 356 billion pounds of edible food in the United States was never eaten. Fresh produce, milk, grain products and sweeteners made up two-thirds of the waste."

Blogger Amitabh Bachchan on the Need to Talk Straight to His Fans!

To a question by Subhash K Jha "You seem to have become far more frank and forthright, far less diplomatic than you used to be."

Id est, after starting blogging on the Bachchan patriarch has become more forthright, here comes the frank reply, which I guess comes straight from that shapely mouth and exquisite articulation:

"Maybe. But I think it comes from the knowledge that what you write or express has the ability to go across to the reader without dilution or moderation. The absence of the ‘middleman’ in this business, as an eminent colleague from your fraternity described the situation, helps in the purity of my output. This is not to challenge the purity of the middlemen or their intention, but it is sometimes more desirable to deal directly. I try to be as honest as I can in my out pouring and yes they may seem to you to be more frank and forthright and less diplomatic, but I wonder too at times whether that has been judicious of me. As I spoke in my last blog of DAY 28(i), words and expressions can get twisted and misinterpreted and can cause unwanted hurt or a misunderstanding. These are some of the misgivings that all in the public domain have to be careful about. A twisted or misinterpreted thought could create an avalanche of negativity, which in turn could fructify into harsh and ugly acts. I would hate for that to happen and whenever it has, I have not hesitated to tender an apology or to correct myself if I have done wrong. I am human and I will make mistakes."

To read more go to Amitabh Bachchan Blog here.

I love this guy, always have after having seen him in Anand, Namak Haram (I saw it yesterday, again), Zanjeer, Sholay, Coolie, Mili, Majboor, Dostana, etc. etc. His words are so genuine and he is so soft spokenly harsh with his critics. Must master that technique when I become faymbous and all that... if ever....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Peter Griffin Needs Your Prayers

Fellow blogger, writer and well wisher Peter Griffin who writes a popular column on the internet in the Times of India, and who is known for his acerbic comments both on his blog and the literary forum Caferati has suffered a heart attack and is in the ICU of a hospital in New Bombay. He is something of a writer and activist having actively supported the cause of the Tsunami victims and the hurricane victims of Myanmar recently through the World Wide Help Blog.

I met Peter in the ICU of Sterling Wockhardt Hospital, Vashi. He is feeling much better and we had a long chat. (Among the topics discussed were: his cooking style, food preferences, Anglican faith, work, biryanis, how Indian food over-uses spices [we like to dump our spice don't we?], the Mallu factor in hospitals, etc.) He seemed in the mood to talk and I didn't dissuade him. His humour and irony is as strong as ever and he seemed in good spirits. Luckily when the attack occurred a cardiologist was at home attending to his brother. So everything went off smoothly.

Seeing me in my Sunday best, he asked if I was coming straight from church. I said yes, and only then did I know how he had found out. He is as sharp as ever. He needs your prayers and I ask all his friends to pray for him. I was in hospital recently and it's through prayers of both people and mine that I recovered. Life seemed bleak, transitory and threatened lying back on the hospital bed, attended by inefficient nurses, but I was able to pull through because of the thing called prayer and faith, a tranqulity I found in the scriptures and in a novel (The Kite Runner), a medicine most people and doctors tend to ignore.

We (Vivin, Albert, Joan, self, Prakash, Manisha, Suniti, and a few other friends) are taking turns to keep vigil outside the ICU.

Peter needs your prayers and soon he will be transferred to the general ward. Anyway, if you feel you can help, you can contact him through his cell phone, which is being monitored by the people who would be attending to him at that particular time.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How Relationships Grow Cold

Reference this post of Pragya Thakur, moderator of Shakespeare and Company, I have posted the following piece about how sibling relationships grow cold and drift away into estrangement, coldness, and alienation. Do read and either comment here or on Shakespeare and Company.

A wonderful, thoughtful and delightful piece. So evocating that I thought of my relationships with my sisters and my brother who have drifted apart after our parents' death. The chasms have got so wide after this that I gave up whatever efforts I did earlier to phone, write and catch up. I remember, I was the one who was making all the effort and yet they were so unappreciative of it. I guess somethings will never change in sibling relationships. It's that way in all cultures. We grow up and we grow apart.

Sad isn't it? However, its with my childhood school friends that I have forged great friendships. As children we sat in the same classroom and as adults of fifty odd years of age, we still meet and remember those days. There is teasing, ribbing, remembering old teachers who passed away, but never any rivalry though we were rivals when we were small.

To each their own, is all I can say. With your brother the distance is coverable given that you were so fond of each other. Only the cobwebs need to be removed and a fresh new start made. But will we bother to do that? That's the big question.

A Bombay Local Commuter's Nightmare

Yesterday’s commuting was bad. A man next to me was shouting into his phone and that was irritating me, already at my tether’s end after a hard day at the office. Feeling cooped and oppressed like a hen in a chicken coop, sitting beside this fat slithering slob of a man who had difficulty keeping his mouth shut, I went to stand near the entrance to get a bit of air. Big mistake. Another man came and stood in front of me as if I didn’t exist.

I could see the pores on his face; big round holes through which sweat was oozing and his armpit was giving the peculiar smell armpits give in summer. Instantly I felt murderous. I wanted to kill him, the animal. The way he stood, the way he breathed, the way he smelled all seemed repugnant to me. How could people be such animals? Suddenly it all came to me, a country that couldn’t give its citizens a mode of comfortable travel, an education system that didn’t prepare them for their roles in society, much less their roles in a corporate organisation, a muddled system through which we all blundered not knowing where we are headed. Whoever elbowed their way into a train first had the right to a seat, not the old, the infirm, the sick, or (god forbid if they were compelled to travel in peak rush hour) women.

I felt murderous and foul. I was virtually shaking with indignation at the man in front of me, who seemed unaware of my ire, or didn’t care. Animal he is, sweating so freely, no thought of me as I cowered away from the smelly area around the joint of his hand, his gaping pores like craters on his face.

Murder is foul, murder is a crime, but in Bombay trains it seemed like the only alternative. On most days murder is obviated by the fact that it is only for a short while that we are commuting and the feeling will pass. I felt like a martyr, sacrificing my freedom, my right to inhaling and exhaling freely in a free country, so that by the end of the year I can pay my taxes and the government can do what they want with it.

Thinking that the uncouth shouting guy was better this smelly armpit, I went and stood near the seat I had just vacated. As I type this into my mobile phone, the obnoxious man is shouting into his phone, “the easy bit has been done, sir, and only the strategic hard part remains.” Come on, give me a break, its always the easy part that gets done first. And what’s “strategic hard part”? Next he says, “kya ho gaya aachanak?” at the top of his lungs. If you sit next to a man such as this specimen you would be wondering what this “achanak” meant for the entire day. He is gesturing too as he talks, making sweeping motions with his hands. The animal.

‘Woh tho jindagi me challenge nahi tho kya,’ he says next. God, this insufferable man, if only I had something sharp, a Mauser pistol would do fine, thank you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Indian Consumption Driving Up Food Prices? Joking, right?

I read this article in Tehelka with some consternation. Increased consumption in India? People how much have you been eating, and at what cost?

"It is not clear what got into US President George W. Bush to make him say that a reason for global food prices to be ruling at haunting levels — some countries have recorded food riots and several are showing considerable nervousness — is that India (and China) were consuming more food on account of improved incomes and cutting supplies to the international market, causing an acute world-wide shortage of food and a consequent rise in prices."

Are you joking Georgy? I know we are a billion and all that, but how can you make such a statement when your country is known to burn surplus wheat to maintain its price in the international market? No, you won't share your wheat with the starving masses in India because you think that lower prices of wheat in the world would mean American farmers would be bankrupt. Here farmers are starving and committing suicide and you add this insult to injury?

"The US president’s observation was preceded a day earlier by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing the same sentiment. That makes the whole affair look like considered orchestration, possibly to head off international criticism of the US for being a prime cause of the unconscionable price rise, especially of cereals that the poorest so desperately rely on."

Are you joking Condy? Both of you guys, you Georgy and you Condi (has your name being Rice got anything to do with it?) No, we aren't yet near the stage where they have food riots but that's because Indians are such good distributors of food, and seldom waste food. Could you please withdraw that statement, please Ms. Candy [sic], sorry, Ms. Rice?

Come to think of it, I was told by my Sikh friend that two meals are a part of every Gurudwara's langar program, and every beggar who comes and stands with his hands motioning to his mouth gets a morsel or something or the other from the well off seth, with the big peth (stomach, if you don't already know). When I was living in Chembur there used to be a group of people from the slums who came regularly crying "Mayeeeeee" in the night, and they used to be fed excess food from our kitchens.

So is India consuming more food? No, I don't think so. May be you are wasting more food than needed. Right?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights is organising a Bloggers Unite campaign on May 15, 2008. Do sign up. This time the subject is “Human Rights.” Knowing as to how much Human Rights is abused in our country (encounter killings, custodial deaths, police atrocities), I can only lend my weak monotonous blogging voice to the effort. Would be much obliged if you pass this on. Meanwhile watch this blog's contribution on May 15, 2008.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Facebook Facing Job Cuts? Sounds Familiar?

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobbs warns thusly about ex-Google honcho Sheryl Sandberg's job cuts at Facebook:

"Regular readers will remember that I recently warned Facebook kiddies to "be very afraid" because their new boss, ex-Google honcho Sheryl Sandberg, would soon begin thinning the ranks at Facebook: "Slowly, one by one, she will start picking you off. Like a predator in one of those sci-fi movies where people keep going missing."

"Perhaps you were wondering why ZuckerBorg has embarked on a one-month "Vision Quest" to India and other locales for "pleasure and contemplation"? Well now we know. The poor kid can't bear to be around when his pals start getting SandBorged. What a sweetie."

So they are facing job cuts even there in the US of A, and that too in Facebook. The scenario seems all to familiar for techies here back in India, what with job cuts in the .com bust companies, which are crumbling like a pack of cards.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Google's Translation of My Blog: Right or Wrong?

पर Cochin कोचीन ’s ' s Nedumbassery Nedumbassery Airport हवाई अड्डा. मुझे मेरे धोतियों बहुउद्देशीय स्विस चाकू . Baah, it’s sad day for me. Baah , यह मेरे लिए दुखद दिन है . मैं प्रेम है कि चाकू , एक विश्वसनीय साथी यात्रा है , और आज केवल एक सेब खाया था और कटौती के साथ है . इस महिला की सुरक्षा में इतनी कुशल , ' सर There'sa स्विस चाकू , ' वे कहती हैं अहंकार के साथ विश्वास है . फिर मेरे बैग में स्कैनर जाता है . ' There'sa के पैकेट में पत्ती , ' मैं और वह भी उपज है , बल्कि आखून , मैं जोड़ सकता है . मैं अपने आप को मिस स्विस मीठी छुरी .

उस ने कहा , मुझे एक महान प्रेमी हवाई अड्डे के लाउंज . मैं नहीं मन उड़ानों में देरी की जा रही है , क्योंकि मैं नहीं चाहता कि इस यात्रा आरंभ करने के लिए , काफी कम है , को समाप्त करने के लिए . आदर्श हवाई यात्रा मेरे लिए एक अंतहीन इंतजार हवाई अड्डे पर लाउंज , सुगमता से दूर ले , और ओह ! मैं पसंद नहीं करते और इस विचार से उतरने के घर या कहीं जा रहा है , समाप्त हो जाएगा कि परमानंद देखने के लिए कई प्रकार के लोग हैं , इसलिए कई तकनीकों पर काम है , इसलिए कई विशाल पक्षी लेने में उड़ान बंद , चिकनी docking , सहायक वाहनों का झोंका , वर्दीधारी सेवकों और stewardesses . ऐसा ही एक आकाशीय सौंदर्य में एक पंत और निष्कलंक लाल रंग के सूट है gallivanting वाचालता से नहीं बल्कि उसके साथ panty लाइनों को प्रदर्शित है . सभी कहते हैं के अनुभव करने के लिए एक हवाई अड्डे के लाउंज में , मैं कहना है कि हो सकता है के लिए यहाँ posterity .

Can you believe it? The above is the translation of the below paragraph into Hindi by Guess there aren't some words in Hindi for the ones we write in English. But then why does Google translation do this, if they can't give an accurate translation? I dread to think what they are doing to my articles when they translate to other languages. French, German, Italian, Arabic, etc. etc. I might be their laughing stock by now.

For example I wrote: "I will miss you sweet Swiss knife."

And the Google translated thusly:

मैं अपने आप को मिस स्विस मीठी छुरी .

Several things here. The order of words is wrong, and what is "मिस" I wrote "miss." Isn't there an equivalent word in Hindi?

And what is "स्विस मीठी"? I wrote "sweet Swiss knife". Oh, I get it, late as usual. I know what मीठी छुरी means. You know it is an expression in Hindi for saying something sweet to the face and stabbing them in the back. Remember the song "मीती चुरी का हुआ अ लाल, चोर गंगा किनारेवाला"? Guess Google Translation has done it to me with this translation.

Oh God! When will nations and tongues understand each other. I think it's still the tower of Babel out there as far as translations on the net is considered.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nedumbassery Airport, Cochin

The expression says it all. I am sitting forlornly in the entrance of the Netravati to Kerala. The landscape is beautiful, but that doesn't cheer me a bit!

Cochin’s Nedumbassery Airport I am divested of my multipurpose Swiss knife. Baah, it’s sad day for me. I love that knife, a reliable travelling companion, and just today had cut and eaten an apple with it. The woman in security is so efficient, ‘There’s a Swiss knife sir,’ she says with confident arrogance. Again my bag goes into the scanner. ‘There’s a packet of blade in it,’ and I produce that too, rather sheepishly, I might add. I will miss you my sweet Swiss knife.

That said; I am a great lover of airport lounges. I don’t mind flights being delayed, as I don’t want the journey to begin, far less, to end. The ideal air journey for me is an unending wait at the airport lounge, a smooth take off, and oh! I don’t like landings and the thought of going home or anywhere else, that would be an end to the bliss of watching so many types of people, so many technologies at work, so many giant birds taking off in flight, the smooth docking, the flurry of ancillary vehicles, the uniformed attendants and stewardesses. One such celestial beauty in a pant and suit of spotless red is gallivanting rather pertly with her panty lines showing. All adds to the experience of an airport lounge, I might say here for posterity.

Nedumbassery Airport is spic compared to the railway stations I have been through. At Panvel, on the way to Kerala, I cringe to find the three-tier air-conditioned coach crowded with children and passengers on reservation against cancellation (RAC), that a haze comes over my eyes. I am not even in RAC, I am in waiting list, and don’t have a right to be there. I cringe some more. My wife has excellent public relations, which comes handy in such situations. (She can remember [teacher, being she] names, faces, names of children, where they are studying, in which standard, etc. etc.) My public relations is non-existent, and I hardly know anyone in the compartment, though I am supposed to be a writer, poet and blogger. Fame has evaded me thus far. Grumble! Grumble!

Two families known to my wife are in the compartment and spring to her help and offer her seats with them. She accepts the offer of a friend from Belapur and adjustments are made. My son becomes friendly with the friend’s son, leaving me friendless, sitting at the door of the train in my Kakadu shorts (the memory of “Animal” of Indra Sinha’s “Animal’s People” still lingers in the memory). Sometimes I stand at the space near the toilet and talk to another guy who, a member of the ultra-religious Pentecostal sect, actually confesses to me that he runs a used-car racket in Kerala. Some confession by a professed believer!

Oh, misery thy name is Indian Railways! The small compartment is humming with the talk of so many people, almost like a beehive: young, old, and the little monsters. One such monster, sitting beside me, terrorises his mother and even publicly beats her up, yet she doesn’t scold him. A man says, ‘In our days, we never used to stir in front of our parents.’ Is it a sign of the times? There are a few monsters down the aisle and the monsters are conspiring to take over and spread chaos on the train, but sleep mercifully confines a few to their berths. What a lucky escape!

A woman is talking Mack English in a persistently high-pitched tone. Her words are simple commands to her children like, “I told you so many times to wash your hands, no, you don’t listen only.” The odd thing is: the way it comes out, it seems forced and self-conscious in the extreme. Does she ever shut her mouth for a few minutes? As author Yann Martel once famously asked, “Do they have periods of silence in their lives, periods when they think, introspect, read, and write something? I don’t know. I guess we Indians have sacrificed the art conversation to the urgent need to make ourselves understood.

I had a few glorious days at my wife’s sister’s beautiful house in Keezhvaipur. The stillness of the morning, warmth of the afternoon, and the convectional rainfall in the evening lull me into a soporific feeling when I sprawl on the easy chair in the porch. The rain in the evening makes the thickly populated topography even greener than it was a day before. From where I am comfortably ensconced I can see teak, rubber, coconut palm, arecanut and jackfruit trees. (My online friend Chryselle tells me that Jackfruit is derived from the Malayalam word “Chakka”, which became “Jaca” in Portuguese and was again corrupted to Jackfruit in English.) These are the ones I can identify, there’s a forest-like profusion of trees around me. It is pleasantly cool, even cold in the night. Nights are full of the cheeping, droning sounds of frogs and crickets and morning come alive with the call of the Cuckoo.

Ah, in this paradise, truly god’s country, full of his heavenly munificence, there’s frustration, too. The causes cannot be elaborated in full here, or anywhere. Why is the Malalyali such a demon for drinks and addictions? Why has Kerala become a land of unfulfillment though it is fulfilled by nature? Every Malayali these days are into some kind of addition, no, multiple ones. At Aluva I see a man walk into a shop demanding to be served lemonade. His eyes are bloodshot, popping out like eggs, and below it are bags that can easily hold a pouch of tobacco, which he orders next. Obviously, he is trying to control last night’s excessive consumption of the local potion – arrack.

I have seen men become so disoriented that they consume in excess with a vengeance, as if drinking can exorcise the demons. And there are sad stories plenty for the migrant workers who have returned from the Persian Gulf, Bombay, Delhi and other parts of the world: malignment, persecution and ill treatment. Women are distraught when their men get together for a tipple as the result is over-drinking and over-eating that eventually lands up in a hospital bed.

The truth is Kerala has a big addiction problem that keeps the liquor, medical and local mafias in business. The mafia has its hands in everything. A ‘quotation’ racket is unearthed, the television at Nedumbassery Airport informs me. ‘Quotation’ is the name given to contract killing. It is easy to get somebody killed in Kerala; all it takes is a few thousand rupees and the services of a few goons like the ones I am watching now. Finito! Life is cheap.

At Aluva I spend a night in a roach-infested hotel, which boasts of an air-conditioner, which wheezes but doesn’t reduce the temperature a bit. There aren’t rooms to be had anywhere else. The next day I see the new Kerala at Nedumbassery Airport, from where I am writing this. There are well-dressed people everywhere. Even the Mundus and saris are carefully starched and worn with élan. There are smells of expensive perfumes, and the waiting lounge glitters in the glow of a thousand fluorescent tubes.

At last my flight DN 819 to Mumbai is announced. I am now shutting my Word file on my Nokia E61i with some reluctance. My bird is ready and the journey back to the daily grind has begun.
(Pictures uploaded from my mobile phone using Shozhu's proprietary software.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Off on a Much-needed Break to Kerala; KVK Murthy on Bollywood Films

I am off to Kerala , my native state for a short holiday. (Will keep posting my experiences, thoughts here through my mobile phone, though, so watch this space.) Will be back next week.

Meanwhile, friend KVK Murthy (popularly known as James Joyce on the crusty, discerning and wonderful crafter of words has written a piece on what he thinks about Bollywood films in this piece. Enjoy!