Thursday, January 15, 2009

Satyam, Oh! Satyam!

Satyam! Oh, Satyam! The word means truth, but what a pack of lies it has dealt to investors, the people who sunk the sweat of their brows, harvest of their fallow fields. I don’t have to say much about it, it’s already no brainers by now, I guess. It’s shocking how a company that had ranked with Infosys and Wipro in the IT space has fallen so low and its chairman is now in jail. Investors used to boast they are buying Satyam, Infosys and Wipro at one time. Why did this goliath of the stock market, so full of hope for the future, so fattened by profits fall from grace all of a sudden. It focuses on the muddle that the Indian financial system is reeling under. I guess there are more skeletons in the closet that would tumble out soon. I got this in a joke forwarded to me this morning “PROFIT -- An archaic word no longer in use.” Yes, only if corporations concentrated on making profits for themselves instead of using people’s money to make losses and manipulate figures to drive up market capitalisation. Tall order? Not exactly!

Some days back I attended a reading of poetry organised by P.E.N. at the Theosophy Hall, near where I work. All the known names in poetry from the city were there and Jeet had come from Bangalore, and Ravi Shankar had come from the US (He is founding editor of the international online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat ( Wonder why poetry readings attract a sparse audience of the city’s ageing, greying population. One greying gentleman wore his wrist watch, not on his wrist, but on his belt. The occasion was the reading of Ravi’s anthology “Language for a New Century,” a weighty tome costing Rs 1350, available at a discount for Rs 1250. Can’t afford it at that price! Was poetry being ignored because books of poetry were so expensive? I saw Jeet Thayil read for the first time and I think he is a good performer. Nodded at Annie, Jane left early, Adil, Sampurna, Priya were the people I could identify from photographs.

On the way home a thought struck me and I wrote it down. There’s a passage in the “White Tiger” (Guess I am too much in awe of Balram Halwai and his character) that I will use to illustrate this. Adiga compares lives of people who live in flats and cars to eggs with a hard shell on the exterior and all mush inside. He talks of how the hard shell breaks and exposes the tender inside to the tough, inhospitable outside and how this involves trauma and dithering. Adiga ably captures how Ashok goes into depression and dither after his wife runs her car over an urchin on the road and then leaves him – meaning Ashok. The egg had broken and the yolk was all out and exposed.

When the terror attack occurred something similar happened in Bombay. Rich men (builders, businessmen, leading luminaries) found that their money couldn’t buy them security and that they were equally vulnerable to the twenty-first century’s biggest bane – terrorism. Most of these people have been living in their own air-conditioned egg shells safely cocooned by their servants and security officers so far and didn’t know their lives could be in danger. What a big shock it must have been for them to see their egg shells smashed!

In Passing...
A few days back I saw the movie “Idiocracy.” A must watch for all those spelling challenged morons who are growing up writing and thinking in SMSese. Could be the dystopia we all fear could happen if SMSese is given much tenure in this world. And now they have SMS poetry, too!

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