Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Huge Gargantuan "Hypocritical Bubble"

Here’s a mail we found in our inbox. It says the biggest stock market crash in history is still coming. Now, that’s really, really news to us. The whole financial-industrial-software-retailing matrix created an immense bubble over the earth, something, um, er, like a giant balloon, in which many became millionaires or paupers based on who were crafty enough to benefit from this gargantuan bubble. It isn’t a small thing, it’s huge. So huge and involves some of the biggest financial, what shall I call it, sub-bubbles – Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.

We call this a huge “hypocritical bubble” made of filthy lucre accumulated by unscrupulous means. The sensex plunged and around four lakh crores of their hard earned money to the big bubble. It was as if their money, the sweat of their brows just evaporated into the thin air.

Think of it thus:

You plant a seed and water it every day thinking it will grow big and give you fruit. But it doesn’t. Instead it twines itself around you and tries to choke you. The songs of people’s deprivation will not be sung in air-conditioned financial centres, but they will be sung in the poor villages where terrorism, extremism, neo-maoism are taking root because of the deprivations that they are feeling. We think there are quick solutions like adjusting interest rates and devaluing currencies. But prices are galloping as if on a charger bound for apocalypse.

Quote from the email that landed up in our inbox:

“Robert Kiyosaki, the New York Times Best Selling author of the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and "Rich Dad's Prophecy: Why The Biggest Stock Market Crash In History Is STILL Coming and How You Can Prepare Yourself and Profit From It!", has always had an uncanny ability to predict future financial events!”


Horn baja re...

At last a bollywood song that reflects the attitide of indian drivers
towards the horn:

horn baja re,
.horn baja re
baap ka razsta hai
baja, baja

For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for
all else: http://johnwriter.com

Sunday, September 28, 2008

IK Shukla Is No More, May IK Shukla's Soul Rest in Peace!

IK Shukla author of Hindutva and Hindutva, Treason and Terrorism and a fearless voice against communalism and religious atrocities passed away in the US, he was eighty. Here's an article he had written about the veiled fascism that goes on for democracy in India.

We didn't know IK Shukla, we only know that he and us were members of a literary message board called SASIALIT (The full form beats us). The board is quite lively discussion on everything related to South Asian literature and we participate in the pow-wows more often than not.

Seeing as to how communalism is progressing in India, here's a rehash of something we had read long ago:

When they came for the Muslims, we said nothing because we weren't Muslim;
When they came for the Christians, we said nothing because we weren't Christian;
When they came for the Sikhs, we said nothing because we weren't Sikh;
When they came for the Jains, we said nothing because we weren't Jain;
When they came for the Buddhists, we said nothing because we weren't Buddhist;
When they came for the Zorastrians, we said nothing because we weren't Zorastrian;
When they came for the Bahai's, we said nothing because we weren't Bahai;
When they came for the Confucians, we said nothing because we weren't Confucian;
Finally, when they came for us, there were nobody left to say anything for us!

May the soul of IK Shukla rest in peace!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ganga's Trysts With Wild Animals, in His Own Words!

Here's friend Gangadharan Menon's account of his tryst with wild animals specially the one above which, to be frank, almost killed him. Ganga, hope you don't mind. I am reproducing it here because there's a message to the whole thing, which is so vital to our forests and wildlife.

The wild side of wildlife

By Gangadharan Menon

In the last 36 years, I have encountered wildlife at extremely close quarters just four times.

When I say close quarters I mean face-to-face encounters outside the safe confines of a forest jeep.

The very first time was during my very first trip into the forests. We were filming a documentary called Silent Valley. During the 3-week shoot we had run out of provisions, and I was trekking to a village 24 kms away, along with my tribal guide.

As we were trekking, we heard sounds that could send a chill down your spine, especially when you are on foot. A lone tusker in 'mast' about 150 feet away, breaking every single branch within his reach and smashing it on the forest floor. The whole forest was trembling with fear. We had to lie low in the forest for almost an hour, and it seemed like a year, to allow the rampaging elephant to pass.

In this situation, we were pre-warned and thus we escaped.

The second instance was also in the Western Ghats, north of Olavakkod, near Palakkad. I was trekking with my brother, Manu. At one point, we had to cross a river that was in spate. My brother stepped into the gushing river first, and I followed.

Just before I stepped in, I was holding on to the last rock on the ledge. My brother casually turned to look at my progress, and to his horror he saw a viper inches away from my hand. Without letting me know of the gravity of the situation, he calmly told me, "Chetta, don't look back. Just take away your hand very, very slowly, and come towards me!" I did exactly that, as slowly as I could, and then turned to look back. There was a viper on the rock, and I had escaped death by the moulted skin of my teeth!

Here, I had a narrow escape as I had not threatened the viper, and it allowed me to retreat gracefully.

The third instance was in Tadoba, near Nagpur. My son Akash, who was barely ten years old then, and I, had gone into the jungles with a guide. It was 6 in the morning, and the forest was coming alive with the chirping of birds. As the mission was to look for tigers, we headed straight to a waterhole about a kilometre from the forest bungalow.

At the waterhole that was nestling among the rocks, there were no tigers. But the wet pugmarks on the rocks were tell-tale signs that a tiger was there a few minutes ago. We looked around but couldn't see it; maybe at that very moment it was watching us from the dense jungle around! Disappointed, we started trekking back. Suddenly a full grown tiger emerged from the foliage and stood there majestically, staring at us from about 100 feet away!

The guide asked us to 'freeze' and we did just that. So much so that I didn't even attempt to click a photograph, though my camera was limply hanging around my neck.

After staring at us for a full minute, the tiger disappeared into the mystery of the forest.

Dazed out of our wits, we started our journey back, marvelling at how small and insignificant you feel in front of the raw, unbridled power of a wild animal!

Here, we escaped because we were absolutely still – the tiger was neither threatened, nor provoked.

The last of the encounters of the wild kind happened on the 15th of June, this year. It was at Masinagudi, the last village before Mudumalai Sanctuary, on the Ooty-Mysore road.

There were three of us: The guide Ombalan, my brother Manu and me. Ombalan had been a guide in Mudumalai for over 15 years and he knew the forest like the palm of his hand.

But little did he know that very soon the lifeline on his palm would cross the path of a wild tusker.

Spurred on by the sound of an elephant, we set out into the dense jungle. Within minutes we saw a tusker moving into the distant foliage. Ombalan asked us to double up as the elephant was downwind and could easily sense our presence.

Then we saw two trunks towering above the bamboo grove, pulling down bamboo shoots, at a distance of some 150 feet.

As we moved ahead, we came across a strange forestscape which had a mix of ancient trees, bamboo groves and gigantic bushes of lantana. It was the first time that I saw such massive bushes of lantana in a forest, that too in circular shapes, as if pruned by Mother Nature.

The first uncanny sight we saw was a freshly killed wild hare lying on the forest floor. We looked around for the predator, which could have been a tiger or a leopard or a jackal. There was an eerie silence and we cocked our ears for the gentlest rustle; there was none.

A little ahead we saw the skeleton of a prey hanging from a tree, about 30 feet above the ground. Ombalan told us that a leopard had carried his kill up that tree about a month ago, and left the carcass behind. It was the last photograph I took, and little did I know then that it could well have been my very last!

Shaken and stirred, we moved on.

As we were trekking along a forest path created by elephants, Ombalan heard a sound which none of us had picked up. He asked my brother and me to wait, right in our tracks. And as he went around the dense bamboo bush, he walked straight into the waiting tusker.

Inadvertently he had entered the elephant's discomfort zone, which it construed as an act of blatant aggression.

I have been close to elephants, may be about 5 or 6 times, but was always in a jeep. And every time they would warn by taking a few steps towards me, and then making a short, mock charge.

But in this instance there was no time and not enough distance for such wild niceties.

It made a charge at Ombalan, and he took to his heels shouting, 'Sir, odungo!' Which in plain English meant run! Without knowing whether it was a tiger, an elephant, or a leopard lying in ambush, we ran straight ahead, trying to catch up with the guide who was in full steam.

By the time we caught up with him, I was the last in the group.

As I turned back to look at what we were running away from, I saw a wild tusker aged about 16, barely 20 feet away from me, in full charge. I ran for my life, as fast as my trembling feet could carry me. Five steps later when I turned again, it was just about eight feet behind me, now in full flow.

My survival instinct told me that I have to get out of his way before it knocks me down and tramples me, or impales me on its tusks. So I dived to the left and landed on my shoulder like a good goalkeeper, which I was in my school days.

I could hear four legs coming to a screeching halt behind me, as it was surprised by this unexpected move. Then the tusker went down on its front legs and attacked me with its right tusk, right on my lower back.

Just as it was preparing to attack me the second time, Ombalan let out a wild, nomadic scream which unsettled the tusker.

It lost its concentration and the tusk went through my shirt near my shoulder, and I fell on the ground again. If the shirt hadn't torn, I would have been impaled on its tusk. Once you are impaled, the natural instinct of the elephant is to take you in its trunk and smash you to the ground.

Ombalan's scream continued to reverberate in the forest, and the tusker left me bleeding, and disappeared among the lantana bushes.

Ombalan later told me that the attack was so vicious that he didn't expect me to get up.

Digging into the reserves of my will power, I slowly tried to get up. And surprise, surprise, I could! Then I made an attempt to take the first few tentative steps after my rebirth, and I could!

Slowly, in deathly silence, we all started walking back.

Suddenly, a group of spotted deer ran across our path, and for the first time in my life, the sight didn't stir my soul! I just wanted to get back. And the jungle we had to walk through had four elephants at the last count, including the one that attacked me.

Those 30 minutes were like a lifetime.

When I reached the resort, my wife Anita was startled by the news of the attack and the sight of the 8-inch gash that was bleeding profusely.

We got into the jeep and drove to a primary health centre in Masinagudi village. The doctor there bandaged the wound; but he said the bleeding will not stop till the wound was sutured.

The attack happened at 2.30 in the afternoon, and we reached Coonoor at 5. All along, for 2½ hours, I was bleeding. By the time I reached the hospital, I was drained and exhausted. I held on till I met the surgeon and explained to him all that happened, and then blanked out.

I came to at 9 pm. By then the suturing was over and I was on the hospital bed.

I discovered there was a TV in my room; and over the next 7 days in the hospital, the channel of choice continued to be Animal Planet! I realized that my love affair with wildlife would continue, even in my second life, and that even a vicious attack by a tusker could not dent my faith in them.

This was, truly, an accident. And it could happen to anyone. A jungle trek is not a walk in the park, and every time you walk into the jungle, you are entering the territory of wild animals whose sole purpose of existence is survival. Any threat to that, even a perceived one as in this case, and you risk your life.

All that remains today of that attack is an 8-inch scar, and 3 hairline fractures in my lower vertebrae, which are now healing.

Two weeks after this incident, a young elephant was poached and killed in the same jungles. His young tusks were brutally chopped off and he was left to die there. As I heard the news from my brother Manu, the first thing I did was pray that it is not 'my tusker'. And I called up Ombalan, and discovered to my relief that it wasn't.

'My tusker' is still roaming the forests, and Ombalan tells me that they have named him 'Gangadharan' after me!

On the 13th of August, I read an article on the front page of DNA. It was titled 'Are animals getting mad at human beings?'

The article noted that across Asia, Africa, Australia and America, there has been a spike in unprovoked attacks by elephants, leopards, bears, and many other species.

According to Dr. Gay Bradshaw, a world renowned Animal Psychologist, traditional explanations like encroachment and loss of habitat isn't sufficient to explain the manifold increase in the attacks. She and her colleagues believe that entire generations of traumatized wild animals are seething with revenge. They have grown up witnessing the systematic slaughter of their families by humans, and are getting back.

These observations should be taken seriously by wildlife enthusiasts who venture into the forests. But rather than allow this new reality to dampen our exploratory spirit, it should strengthen our resolve to be extremely cautious.

Every time we enter the hallowed precincts of these beautiful people, let's pause for a moment. And then tread on those forest paths with a primordial awe and a primeval respect that we have been secretly carrying for millions of years. Until yesterday.

Feverish, as I type this....

Feeling feverish, so called in sick today. Whole body aches, eyes
watery, mouth furry, no, not that again, I mean malaria. This monsoon
was bad, had tazken care so far to not fall sick, but here I am with
the sniffles once again. Can't help it.

Yesterday, on way back from work at VT station, as I was ascending the
steps leading to the platforms from the subway, a man, a sick man,
passing diagonally, sneezed full on my face. I felt violated, unclean,
could feel his spit on my face, the violating wetness....

Still retch thinking of it, the poverty of it all, perhaps he didn't
have a hanky to cover his mouth when he sneezed, he could have used
his hands, but he didn't have the sensitivity to appreciate another
man's space, not to violate it thusly. The twerp!

Now look what you have given me you uncouth, uneducated twit, but is
he only to blame, I see people sneezing on other peoples' faces and
not even apologising in that bastion of middle class morality called,
'First Class Local ompartment.' No wonder we are a nation of
communicable diseases....

Sniff, sniff....

For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for
all else: http://johnwriter.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pliers Anyone?

We are too ashamed to write this. It’s absolutely the nadir of our belief of India as a people of some, at least, a bit of, ethical and moral values, of which there’s a lot of talk, and no substance, absolute pfaff, as usual.

It happened today. We go to the loo (which isn’t very clean, so we hold our breath and try and finish it as soon as possible and breeze out), do the needful, as a gormint babu would say, and when we come to the wash basin to clean our hands, that’s when shock and awe strikes us. We aren’t used to such shocking things. See for yourself what we saw in the picture below shot with our Nokia E61i! Guess we would need pliers to open the tap and wash our hands.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One Boo and a Boom!

At the last Caferati meet on last Saturday the 20th of September 2008 at Oxford Book Store, we were booed. Yes, booed and snubbed. Good and proper, and we deserved it. Well, we went prepared but not prepared enough. We tried singing a poem we had written, and being the choral singer that we were, till not long ago, we were confident that we could perform it. And, we rehearsed it at home and it went all right, the pitch was right, the beginning which were a bit queasy about, was also right. But when we rose and walked to perform it, all music left us, stage fright possessed us and we started shaking. Oh, misery!

The women in the audience immediately started bitching, as they are wont to. “You were supposed to sing it,” “we are disappointed,” “this word and this word don’t rhyme,” etc.

The next day we had two events to attend. One was the traditional “Onasadya” at the nearby Kairali cultural association, and after that was the confirmation of the children of our church in Sanpada. The Onasadya had the usual Malayalis of CBD Belapur congregating to eat Avial, Sambhar, Thoran, Upperi, Pappadam, Sharkarapuratti, Erisseri, Pulisseri, Payasam in the traditional Kerala cuisine at the Kairali building in our locality. There were rangolis prepared from flower petals, for which we were the judge. Ah, being a judge gives us such pleasure.

At the confirmation function we were given the responsibility of saying the intercessionary prayers, quite a big responsibility. Around 200 people had turned up with our Bishop doing the honors; and the galleries were full of parishioners and their relatives. It was after a long time that we were facing such a large audience and with a large audience a lot of things can go wrong, a lot.

We were a bit apprehensive, what with the memory of the booing fresh in our minds. Anxious moments were spent fidgeting as worshipping service progressed. But all went well; we were able to throw our voice, pace ourselves, and “boom” it clicked with the audience.

So it was “boo” on Saturday and “boom” on Sunday, in quick succession, in quick juxtaposition-ing of events, and confidence was restored in us, and our ability to perform before an audience, well, sort of, hmm.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stunning Nun in the Rain

We (Note the “we”. We like Jahanpanah Akbar in Rushdie’s “Enchantress of Florence” shall speak in the first person plural from here on. We meaning I and some alter ego, I fancy as a more talented clone of mine.) don’t know what happens to cab drivers when it rains. We were going home the day before yesterday, and was dripping wet in the rain that fell without mercy or respite. We asked about 25 cab drivers if they would take us to VT station. Don’t know what happens to them when it rains, they consider their property something like some sacred Arc of the Covenant, or holy of holies where nobody should tread and do not want us poor besmirched, befuddled selves to be inside their sanctum. So they all, nose in the air, say no with the utmost ease that comes with some juvenile retribution for some wrong we may have done them in some itinerant other life.

So we plodded on, shoes full of water, squelching, trousers all wet, shirt too, umbrella being too flimsy a thing for a tropical downpour of such intensity. The rain was coming down like water from a freshly opened sluice gate, so full of unrestrained energy and enthusiasm, as if its sole aim was to wet us, give us a cold before it goes away finally, and like Ganpati come again the next year. There are floods in various parts of the country, and on our way we see the roadside dwellers crouching under plastic sheets which are their homes for the night.

Finally, we make it to VT and just before we reach it, we see something riveting, something that keeps amazing us still. We saw a vision: We saw a stunning nun. Yes, we saw a stunning nun through the pouring rain, she was standing with another nun before a roadside food stall, similarly cassocked (or, habit, or whatever they call it), face a reflection of some iridescent inner beauty, a bearing that would put any Miss India to shame, and features just so chiseled, they seemed like God’s own creation. Why would such a beautiful being eschew the world when she would definitely have hundreds of handsome and accomplished men swooning at her every command, we don’t know?

Well, as we said before surprises of life never cease.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Colleague Prateek's Pointy Shoes!


Who Pushed Whom?

This is how I commute to work every day. The train is crowded, there is no space to breathe, there are hands and bodies pinning me from every side, I hold on to the dangling straps for life, if I lean too much to the right side I will get dirty stares from the man on the right, if I lean left, ditto. There are fights about who pushed whom, which is like a chicken and egg conundrum.

You pushed.

You pushed.

You pushed.

You pushed.

And so on it goes back and forth, back and forth, till it’s time to get down, which means another round of fights, which I think should properly be settled with boxing gloves, not with words.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Unique Atrium at Raghuleela Mall, Vashi

Knowing as to how much I love photographing atriums, I captured the atrium of Raghuleela Mall, Vashi, which has a very unique design. The upward spiral almosts seems phallic, or, is it yonic, I don't know. Please enlighten...!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flood in the River Kosi Region

I had thought it to be the ordinary flood during monsoon and gave my usual contribution to flood relief at VT station. One hears of floods in the Gangetic Plain from the great river in spate. I didn’t know the truth was something else until I read World Wide Help blog which is doing exemplary work in this unfortunate calamity.

It seems river Kosi has changed course as the enclosed photograph will show and flown away whole villages. This is unprecedented and a result of the melting glaciers of the Himalayas. In this case what has happened is whole villages and districts have been affected and people are at a loss to understand what happened. So please help whoever is in asking you for donations, because some of it will ultimately reach the people who need it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sorry for Sounding Negetive and All That...

Most people think they are great writers, but can't bring themselves
to make the effort. I mean really. They have great ideas, choice of
vocabulary, vision, but when it comes to putting words on paper or
into pixels, they go blank and give up. Why? Because writing is hard
work, involving, and the worst part, absolutely the worst is going
back and editing your work.

For the past several months i have been trying to edit my poems, and
when I touch them my head starts to nod and eyes droop.

Hehe. The sort of writing I do for a living, interferes, yeah, sort of....

For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for
all else: http://johnwriter.com

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Of Not Forgetting One's Past...

There’s a kind of emptiness. Are there no more subjects to blog? Writing can be tiresome. Have I stopped trying to essay my thoughts, to drag things out by sheer force of will, is the runner tired and stumbling? My rankings aren’t improving, and what has been gained seems fast dissipating, disappearing into nothingness, all my dreams shattered, new goals taking their place, new priorities appearing over the horizon.

I sit for a few minutes and ponder the inevitability of being struck dumb in writing as in daily life. Many times I am struck dumb by people’s words reactions. A guy in the office floored me by some observation he made. Daily occurrences, daily recurrences of the same old thing. How do I come out of it? As some wise guy said, “That too shall pass, as the wind should after eating beans.” Hehe.

In “Sea of Poppies” I am reading the section where the girmitiyas are being taken to Mareech as bonded labourers. It’s a depressing section. I am sorry for Neel who has lost everything and is being transported as an ordinary prisoner to Mareech. And the lot of the girmitiyas (“girmit” is a corruption of “agreement” which was the paper these people signed in agreement to be taken to Mareech), isn’t very good either. Most of them are marginal people whose fields have been sold to or appropriated by the greedy Englishmen and the British East India Company that trades in opium. Neel’s entire zemindary has been appropriated by Mr. Burnham since he couldn’t repay his debt, and to add insult to injury he has been arrested for forgery and is being sent to Mareech as a common prisoner. On the way to Mareech he passes his zemindary of Rashkali and remembers his days of glory as the Raja of Rashkali.

Around twenty years ago I and my wife were sitting behind a West Indian couple of Indian origin on a trip to Agra. They were dressed in western clothes and spoke English. What surprised me was the woman’s observation, “This country is ******.” It shocked me that they should speak thusly about the country of their origin from which their forefathers had emigrated with such difficulty. It sounded rather odd that they should talk about denigrate their own ancestors who have given up all hope and went as virtual slaves to an alien country. It shocked me like the occurrence I mentioned in para two.

One should never, ever forget where one came from. I will never forget the small village of Kidangannoor where I was born and spent the first eight years of my life. It’s a beautiful place I visit it once every year – I have to – I have a house there, which I have maintained even through a stage when the need for money was overpowering. Because that’s my roots and I hope to go and live there someday. Now they say an airport is coming up next to it and the approach road will cut through the fields in front of my house. An airport will mean development, business, traffic and a lot things, besides appreciation of the value of my property. But where are the green fields I used to fish in, where I used to stand and watch the labourers plant rice?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Situation in Orissa, Where does That Leave Us?

By far the best commentary on the ongoing atrocities against Christians in Orissa comes from MJ Akbar, the venerable journalist and columnist. Of late I have noticed that all religions have turned fundamentalists. Akbar argues that the term Fundamentalist is a misnomer as these sections of people do not adhere to the fundamental tenets of their religion but distort them to their likings. I know these are dark, depressing thoughts before the 9/11 anniversary which falls this Thursday, but I can’t help it. He points out, rightly, that Prophet Muhammad was tolerant towards Jews and other religious minorities when he was administering Medina.

When I grew up in the sixties and seventies there was a kind of grudging acceptance of one another’s cultural and religious difference. But now priests advocate some extreme measures like avoiding votive offerings given with love and avoiding any overtures of friendship with other communities, who are seen as cheats and dhokebaazs. On this my wealth-enjoying-brother Dhansukhbhai has something to say, “He lokama jara pan sense nathi. Soo fundamentalism karech? Paise kamvani vat karo ni?” These people have no sense, instead of fundamentalism they should be thinking of earning money.

An article in the same newspaper – The Times of India – states that a different slant has been given to the incidents to make it sound like a religious bigotry against Christians. The article “Why We Hate” by Atul Sethi points out that the tribals of Orissa – such as the Kandhs and Panas – have always been at loggerheads and recently issues came to a head.

Akbar argues rather forcefully that only one per cent of the people that too from fundamentalist sects that are needed to spread violence and hate. Lumpenisation will ensure that they will recruit enough mercenaries and hired goondas to see their missions accomplished. He says all this talk of genocide and religious extremism is not addressing the problem that is fueling it, that is, that people who indulge in extremism are poor and marginal.

So where do that leave us? In Rushdie’s words, a country teeming with the quarrels, quarrels about caste and religion, disagreements over colour and looks, a people so divided they can’t stop bitching about each other. Sad, but true.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Forebodings and Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

Today was full of dark forebodings, wading through it; I had the feeling of being tired of the rat race, the feeling of really getting nowhere. Another agent wants to take a look at the novel, and I guess I have done a thousand such submissions. By now most of literary agents and literary establishments know about me and my novel, and maybe having a good laugh. But I keep making submissions as I made to this agent. Who knows someone somewhere may snap it up.

Saw Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan on television (In case you don't know, she is the cute and petite author of "You Are Here"), on Just Books to be exact, presented by Sunil Sethi with his Oxford accent, or is it Doon School? I don’t know. All I know is it is a funny accent. She seemed confident and I am happy to think that she got noticed because of her blog. That’s another published author, and I amn’t yet published. All the very best Meenakshi, hope to see you shine in the firmament of authors, you have the spunk, the verve, the guts needed to tell a story and not hide it where nobody can see it. Yes, writing a story requires guts, courage and the willingness to take scorn, fear, insult, discontent, and deep guilt.

Maybe that’s why the forebodings. But I have strengthened myself through faith, what keeps me going is a few minutes of devotion in the morning and night, the exclusive time I devote to thought of God and my saviour Jesus. Yes, I am a strong believer, and have benefited from my faith, so, no shame in saying it.

I wonder what successful people feel once they have started on their journeys to what they are committed to, what they have a missionary-like zeal for. What do they feel after floating a new party, taking a new and important position? I am all apprehension and loss, but I have to be strong, I know, I am getting there. Writers have always struggled with thoughts of impending doom.

Poet Menka Shivdasani was in the office today. She said most people can’t distinguish what is a mistake any more, and make an effort to correct or learn from it. Being the sensitive poet she is; I know she is right. An advertising agency owner, desperately looking for someone with passable English said trainees said something like this: “young writer whom I have employed said language didn’t matter as long as the ideas and the gist were conveyed. Software programs will correct mistakes.” No, software programs can’t discern a grammatical or syntax error. To illustrate: does the following sentence make sense to you?

Your collecting garbage because you just can’t see it lying their.

The entire sentence is wrong, but my software program just let it pass because it can’t make fine distinctions that a human mind can. If we are so dependent on machines to show us logic then we are in for big trouble. Just one miscommunicated word can trigger a catastrophic misunderstanding. But who cares? Writers like me put in hours of work which a reader casts aside in seconds, after a glance. Writers like me write novels and agents, editors and publishers just tucks it away into their slush pile without a second look at it. The world works thusly, and we can’t do a damn about it. The world is too money minded, crazy after money, with no patience for those who make them lose money – the losers.

Meeankshi I am proud of you, may you be successful in this competitive world of writing. May you beget many more novels and books.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sea of Poppies, Big Boss, and Other Things

Ummm… what should I write about? Usually I have around three subjects running in circles around my brain, all of which are blogging material. Some are good, some are bad, and some are plain ugly. What ultimately emerges is unpredictable, sort of goobagly. Writing itself is unpredictable. I think about something and when it is on the pixellated screen, it is something else altogether.

I am reading “Sea of Poppies” and it occurs to me that the excruciatingly long passages given to Paulette could be the author’s (Amitav Ghosh’s) indulgence, his own way of exposition, his world view, his pettiness, his unique talent and whim as a writer. Many writers do this. I wonder why! Even Rushdie’s endless paragraphs about the inner turmoil of his protagonists are sometimes done to death. Is it a mark of their genius, I am stumped for an answer, or is it just plain indulgence? Who knows, who has answers?

That seemingly endless nonsense they call “Bigg Boss” is dragging on and on. I wonder how they could get a gangster’s girlfriend-cum-mole into a celebrity show like that. And that certain someone who is allegedly a drug addict and divorced his wife isn’t an angel either. I see Ahsan Quershi cracking under the pressure, he doesn’t belong, he is a poet who has been miscast. My heart goes out to him.

My wealth enjoying brother Dhansukhbhai is of the opinion that these days anything would do as long as there’s a name in the market. My other brother Anthonybhai is taking a little break in Goa. “Bas, market ma nam thai gaya che, pachi paisa ni paisa.” He should know. His father Dhansukhbhai (Sr.) scraped together an empire by importing second hand machinery that made oil, how I don’t know, neither did he, and look today where he is.

A few stunners from “Sea of Poppies”: “He (Zachary) took for granted that power made its bearers act in inexplicable ways.”

And another:

Paulette: “If there is anything Bethel has taught me, it is that the kindness of men comes always attached to some prix…”

Now these are deadly observations from none other than the vastly talented Amitav Ghosh. Oh, when, oh, when will I learn to write like that?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

MTV - Reality Check in Order

And on MTV Veejay Cyrus (not that Cyrus who got almost pitofied in MTV Bakra) sloshes coffee over a bewildered employee, pushes a guy who is peeing in the toilet from behind. I found it very objectionable. In this country employees also have rights, and can’t be treated as doormats, competent or not. And most atrocious of all: one of his employees, a girl, says, “He is a bit mad.” A bit, madam? Excuse me?

I don’t think it is funny, no, not at all. A boss who ill treats his employees has to apologise to him/her and is not fit to be a boss. This sort of behaviour should also not be shown on national television when all age groups are watching. MTV should also apologise. I think MTV and VTV are going over the edge with their risqué styles of programming. What are they grabbing at?

And this reality television is also over the top for me. What reality are they showing, petty girls’ hostel type of bitching and back biting? Show some real stuff, take them to the jungle or a deserted island (something like “Survivors”), and ask them to survive against the capriciousness of nature. That would be more reality in my humble opinion.

Happy Ganeshotsav!

And it’s Ganapati Bappa Morya, all over again. The loud speakers are blaring aartis, Marathi songs, son is watching some cookery program on television, and in the pandemonium and general hubbub I sit and write. Ganeshotsav is being celebrated today, am at home blogging, wearing only my boxer shorts and vest, typing this, it’s mildly hot, not too hot. Don’t know where the rain has disappeared, into the clouds perhaps, the skies are a clear blue, the streets are dry, the sound of cymbals comes filtering in.

Happy Ganeshotsav to all my readers!

This Post Comes to You Via Google Chrome! It's Faster, It's Cleaner!

Am all praises for the Google browser Chrome. I am a bit overwhelmed by the cool scrolling features, the wide area I can view, the tabs, all are so cool, I would freeze here with the “Chrome” in front of me as I type this.

Wait! I have to explore this beauty further. So I will. And watch out for my detailed review in this space. Meanwhile, I am in a sort of frenzy with the lovely browsing experience to be had, oh, all ye, encumbered and fed up with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. It’s Chrome for me all the way.

Wow! Another cool feature I just discovered. You can use the address box as a Google search box too. I typed “Google Chrome” in the address box and got the results like “Phut.”

Mmmmm…. Guess there’s lots of goodies out there in this browser. Ha, ah!

Guess the Google guys are good at simplifying things and the Microsoft guys are good at complicating things. The IE 7 was so confusing I never got de-stressed from using it. Who needs IE now.

You can download Google Chrome here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dispose of Plastic Carefully…though There Aren't Any Bins Nearby....

On the way back from work, I eat a packet of potato chips, spiced lentil, or something to ease the churning acids inside. It’s a fifteen minute walk from the office to the railway station and I like to walk, unwinding for the day, forgetting work, and freeing myself, sort of, oh, yeah, liberating myself. How’s that?

I finish eating and hunt for a waste basket, bin of some sort, even a small kachara dabba, as it is called, would do. But for the entire stretch from office in New Marine Lines to V.T. station, there are no waste disposal systems. Oh, that means all my ranting about our having no civic sense goes for a toss, because the gormint hasn’t installed any waste bins at all. What negligence! It’s really chicken and egg here, don’t know who is more callous the public or the gormint. It goes to show that we get the gormint we deserve – i.e. – a callous and negligent one.

I had decided some years ago that I will never throw a plastic on the street, even when nobody is looking. I guess plastic is dangerous stuff and will remain on earth for something like hundreds of years and should be disposed of carefully. So I took a vow not to throw plastic or any garbage around and regularly stuff plastic wrappers and covers in my bag or my pockets till I can safely throw it into a bin.

I had all but forgotten about the plastic in my bag that day. If the plastic remains in the bag for a few days, I squirrel it into a big enough bucket at home which I use as a dump for all my stuff, plastic and all. But as I got down that day at Belapur I saw a youth – similarly obsessed as me – opening his bag and emptying several plastic wrappers into the plastic garbage bin. This made me smile and I waited patiently till he had finished, gave him a smile and dumped my plastic into the bin after him.

He paused, a thin smile playing on his lips. The connection was made, common agenda identified, brotherhood established, secret acknowledgement passed. I hope more and more people become members of our tribe, so if you find this post inspiring please pass it on.

And do say no to plastic and if you ever use one, dispose of it carefully. Good luck!