Sunday, May 30, 2010

Only One Can Know the Extent of One’s Pain

The weekend was hell. I had bad chicken biryani and together with it a recurrence of my back problem. Only One Can Know the Extent of One’s Pain.

So I was writhing in pain and every few hours rushing to the loo. I have had back pain before; it has gone away by lying supine and still on the floor, looking at the ceiling, reading being impossible. So imagine me having nothing to do but look at the white ceiling and a pie of the cloud-scudding sky through the window. Never had this sort of double trouble, err, triple trouble, because the heat was trouble enough.

What with EMIs and all, can’t afford the air-conditioner. I am a firm believer that people should be one with natural climate. So, if I protect myself with an air-conditioner in Mumbai what would happen if I go to Kerala? There aren’t air-conditioners there. Besides power fails many times in my native land during the day.

Today is the third day. I am much better. This experience taught me how to suffer pain. And pray with faith. All these days I never did access the net, never red twitter updates, never answered the mobile phone except once. All I can say is: I didn’t miss much.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

“I Worked as a Beggar”

I met an extraordinary rickshaw driver yesterday. We got talking on the way back home late in the night after a busy schedule consisting of writing and co-ordinating work in a marketing department.

He has a weather-beaten face, is quite heavy of physique, is simple in speech and mien. I like talking to rickshaw drivers because they come up with unique stories, the substance of everyday living. This man has an interesting background. He was an asphalt layer, a shop salesman, a peon in an office, and, what else?

"I have worked as a beggar, too."

"A beggar?" I ask incredulously. I am stunned. Is being a beggar a form of "work" then it is an interesting definition.

"Yes, on the road."

"How did it happen?"

"Many years ago when I was studying, father was jobless, no money at home, so I used to go to the nearby busy area and beg."

That's quite extraordinary. He is not ashamed to admit a fact we all would be ashamed to vouch for. Not that we don't beg. I was a salesman once and my job was to beg, irrespective of smart terms like "deal making", "negotiating", "marketing" etc, that they use these days, a salesman's job those days was to beg.


"And how much did you earn each day from begging?"

"Around ten rupees. On a good day even fifteen and twenty."

That wasn't bad. It could, sort of, supplement a family's income in those days.

"But did people give you money, since you are okay looking and have no disabilities."

"I used to stand on the road with one hand outstretched, some people would drop coins, may be out of habit."

"Weren't you ashamed?" I needed to get to basics.

"No. No. Why should I be? I was helping my family. Only my mother was working as a household help then. I was studying. We didn't have any other source of income. Some people teased me, but I wasn't ashamed. No."

I didn't exactly say it is a noble profession. But his words made me think somewhat along those lines.

"What do feel about the fact that you were a beggar?"

"Everybody begs, someday or the other. A man when he is about to die, begs God to save him. That also is begging."

Interesting. What a philosopher. I guess to be a Bhiku or a Sanyasi, (a saintly beggar) you also have to be a philosopher. I don't know if the generous tip I gave him was any indication of the way I felt.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Whatever Happened to Good Manners?

Sometimes small things upset me. Sometimes when I am all goody-good intentions and the other person turns out to be full of malice, I get even more upset.

Then I think we are an unrepentant generation, courtesy has been unknown to us, we have been train to give twit (twerp: someone who is regarded as contemptible)-for-tat (cheapness: tastelessness by virtue of being cheap and vulgar).

One such occasion manifested yesterday. I was at my wit's end, kept fuming (smoke, steam, etc. issuing from my ears), uncomfortable beyond words. There's this man sprawled on the seat as if he owned it on one side of the train seat, and at the other side another man deliberately spreading his legs, for comfort, obviously. In the middle is poor me, hedged in, accommodating, uncomfortable, sweating in the sweltering heat of the hotter-than-ever summer evening.

Imagine my predicament. Just imagine! Whatever happened to good old good manners?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lennon, Cobain, Marley and Morrison Meet in Heaven

Just say a tee-shirt, avid reader of tee-shirt art that I am, which says, "John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley and Jim Morrison, they met in heaven."

What a beautiful thought! And what did they sing together, maybe, just maybe, Lennon's classic, "Give peace a chance." Wonder why these great musicians had to die in their youth. Apparently, they couldn't handle their success. Actually who can? I mean, handle success, when it comes like a storm after the calm? Just imagining things, really. Forgive me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tishani Doshi Interview in Guardian

Here's the Tishani Doshi's interview about her novel 'The Pleasure Seekers' in The Guardian.

Today being Sunday went for a walk in the wilds in the foothills of the mighty Parsik Hills, near home. The hills end in a valley bordered on three sides by tropical rain forests. The bird sounds were awesome, coming as it did in the early morning silence, and the wind was blowing cool and fresh as I climbed a low outgrowth. I could see a wide vista spread below me of modern flats and bungalows, coming alive with life, then came the muted sound of traffic on the Bombay-Pune highway, a mere murmur. Made me want to write a poem on the experience. So watch this space.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The List of Those on the Ill-fated Air-India Flight to Mangalore

The list of passengers on the flight received from S.A. Prabhakar Sharma, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mangalore District, through this article in Hindu. One of them matches with the name of a friend, so am waiting with bated breath for his confirmation that he is safe and sound.

From PNR (Passsenger Name Record) list:

1. Harshini Poonja

2. Aaron Joel Fernandes

3. Niha Imthiaz

4. Bhaskaran T.V.

5. Komalavally Alinkeel

6. Narayana Kanthav Rao

7. Vani Narayana Rao

8. Vaishnavi Narayana Rao

9. Mohammad Ishaque Rafique Ahmed

10 Hasanabba Abubakkar

11. Hiba Azeena (child)

12. Mushina (child)

13. Haifa Hasha (infant)

14. Joyanrichard Saldanha

15. Ummer Farook Mohammed

16. Shahida Nushrathar

17 Zeshan Abdul Rehman (child)

18. Kannur Zulekha Banu

19. Nazeema Muhammad Ashraf

20.Satyanarayana Ballakuraya

21. Sujatha Rao

22. Fathimamehzan Shafqat

23.Rashaad Shafqatmahmood (infant)

24. Khader Ammangod Mohammed Shafy

25. Suhaib Mohammed Naseer (child)

26. Bibi Sara (child)

27. Nabeeha Mohammed Nasir (child)

28. Mohammad Asraf

29. Maimoona Asraf

30. Ashaz Abdulla (child)

31. Ayesha Afsheen (child)

32.Plaviashakunthala Lobo

33. Venishanikola Lobo

34. Vishalfloid Lobo (child)

35. Abdullah K.M.

36. Merwyn D' Souza (No Show)

37. Rosly Shibu

38. Godwina Thomas (child)

39. Gloria Thomas (child)

40. Bhagali Prabhakar

41. Kammadam Kunhabdulla

42. Shashikanth Punja

43. Manirekha Punja

44. Abdulbarr Damudi (child)

45. Mahesh Shetty

46. Mohamed Naser

47. Anwar Sadiq

48. Hassan Kutty

49. JoelPratap DSouza

50. Arunkumar Shetty

51. Vasantha Shetty (No Show)

52. Abdul Samad

53. Prasadand Manjrekar

54. Krishnan Koolikunnu

55. Mullachery Balakrishnan

56. Shanthi Olivera

57. Chethana Mukeshkumar

58. Thresiamma Philip (No Show)

59. Mohamed Ashfaq (No Show)

60. Husna Farheen (No Show)

61. Ahmednaushad Abbu

62. Rajan Pulikodan

63. Jayaprakasha Devadiga

64. Jayaram Kotian

65. Chitra Jayaram

66. Rahul Jayaram (child)

67. Prabhavati Karkera

68. Ashitha Bolar

69. Akshay Bolar

70. Suresh Kunder

71. Sanjeeva BabannaHegde (No Show)

72. Soman Narayani

73. Pradeep GK

74. Kallingalabullah

75. Thalangara Ebrahimkhaleel

76. Louiscarlo Vincent Geraro (No Show)

77. Naziya Afarin

78. Mohammed Abaanruknuddin (child)

79. MohammedRafi Beliyapura

80. Abdullah Mohammed

81. Ibrahim Saheb

82. Sameena Saheb

83. Issam Ibrahim

84. Rida Ibrahim (child)

85. Perumbalamohammed

86. Shivakumar Nagaraj

87. Meenu Gupta

88. Shetty KK

89. Gangadharan Nair

90. Prabathkumar Attavar

91.Sathisha Shetty

92. Irshad Ahmed

93. Neha Parveen

94. Affan Ahmed (infant)

95. Sameerbeerran Moideen

96. Abdunnazir Avinja

97. Riju John

98. Sabrina Nasrinhuq

99. Steven Rego (No Show)

100. Mahammooda Abdulla Kanyana

101. Althafahmed Moolana

102. Lokeshasadananda Belchada

103. Hameed Pookayam

104. Mayankutty KP

105. Vipin Kattoor

106. Kishorekumar Kudpapoojary

107. Chandukutty Nair K

108. NM Bharatham

109. Abdulazeez Anchikatta

110. Umashan Vijayan

111. Cavin Sequuiera

112. Reshmasanthosh Rai

113. Nalandshaunsantosh Rai (child)

114. Vihasantosh Rai (infant)

115. Vamana Prabhu

116. Ganesh Prabhu

117. Qazi Abdulsalam

118. Qazizulekah Khuddus

119. Jackson Periera

120. Mahammed Ismail

121. Naveen Kumar

122. Sanjaykumar Mahabal

123. Mahendra Kodkany

124. Indumathi Nayak

125. Vijesh Kovval

126. Ramakrishna Nayak

127. Ajesh Mottathil

128. Navid Ibrahim

129. Ignatius DSouza

130. Sukumara Kuzhiyamkottuchal

131. Abdul Basheer KM

132. Mohiddin Farasusman

133. Mahim Mohammedpalli

134. Mohammedashraf KA

135. Mohamed Usman

136. Kunhikannan Chandu (No Show)

137. Naveenwalter Fernandes

138. Saritaphilomena Dsouza

139. Ullas Dsilva

140. Mannapadupuashraf Abdul

141. Safdharali Sheik

142. Mahesh Shetty

143. Abdulharish Koppalamhouse

144. Abdul Jebran

145. Parambathkunhi Krishnan

146. Prabhakaran Pachikaran

147. Nekkareibrahim Ismail

148. Melwynkiran Menezes

149. Siddeeque Choorisulaiman

150. Putturismail Abdulla

151. Somashekhar Potyalsrinivasa

152. Lokesh Narayanan

153. Lolitta Dias

154. Lilly Dias

155. Praveena Sundar

156. Hilda Douza

157. Pradeep Deepanivas

158. Denis Saldanha

159. Ashton Saldanha (child)

160. Manthur Hassainar

161. Rama Satish

162. Mohammed Basheer

163. Aboobacker Siddeeq

164. Mohammed Usman

165. Shaileshrao Brahmavara

166. Mohammed Ziad

167. Sameena Abdul Karim

168. Zainab Mohammedziad (child)

169. Mohammed Subairzaid (child)

“Educated People in India Live in Cities” Hm?

Here's a gem from Harini Calamur's blog. Harini is correcting Mumbai University examination papers these days and here is a sample of what she has to sit through:

"Educated people in India live in the cities and speak and read English. We (as in these) watch English channels. The rest of India that is illiterate speak their mother tongue or vernacular languages. They watch regional language channels because they don't understand English because they are illiterate."

Harini blames it to on the teachers because too many students write these stereotypical and somehow mentally malformed statements. How could anyone be so naively biased and ignorant? I would have broken into a fit if I was made to sit through such drivel, or, perhaps gone bonkers. Atta girl for thine bravery, thou deservest an award!

Air-India Flight Crashes in Mangalore

Heard about the Air-India aircraft that crashed on its flight to Mangalore from here. First reports have come in. My thought go out to the affected families.

Helpline numbers:

Mangalore: 082-42220422

Mumbai: 011-25656196, 011-25603101

More updates follow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Predicting the End of Facebook? Not Yet!

This article is a bit premature, me thinks. They are backing some brat-brigade to overturn the empire set up by Facebook. What those pimply youths can accomplish, let's wait and watch. Oh, I forgot that Mark Zuckerberger himself was a pimply youth when he founded Facebook as a way of keeping in touch in his university campus at Harvard.

While I am mighty skeptical that this might come to fruition, I am also a bit biased bout my love and addiction for Facebook (or, FB as it is lovingly called).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blogging the Internet to Death about a Certain Reply to BCCI

In copywriter’s parlance, there’s a term called “flogging the copy horse to death.” With a slight alteration it can read “Blogging the internet to death.”

Hm. What? No subject to write about. Those that suggest itself as whiffs of smoke, die soon, unsubstantiated, mitigated by the heat. The warm weather makes one want to retreat into a shell, isn’t it? Some cold igloo somewhere would be ideal.

I search for subjects. Nothing registers in the heat, whatever I think about turns to heat and dust. Absolutely nothing to write tonight. Except, maybe a certain gentleman’s reply to the BCCI. (Why do they call it Board of Control, when they don’t seem to have any control. But that’s beside the point. I am meandering.) Narendra Modi’s reply to the BCCI went in four, or is it six boxes. Hm. In this country we have a fetish for long replies and reports. I think it is deliberate so that the other party has no time to read. I have drafted beautiful agreements and work orders, real masterpieces of art, and no one, absolutely no one reads them. “What’s a piece of paper?” they ask, “the longer it is the more will the opposition be intimidated.” Sort of inundating them with words, with the longest and rarest words thrown in for added effect.  

No jokes. On a serious note. I guess Narendra Modi and the other Modi have one thing in common. Can’t guess? Okay here goes, a penchant for showing off.

Says my friend Dhansukhbhai Jethalal Shah, owner of a yacht and a private jet, “Soo, soo, che ha gadbad. (What’s this commotion?) I know for a fact that next they will have a T10 and then believe it or not a T1 where the batsman will be declared out if he hits something less than a four or six.”

“Agreed, what do we call this,” I ask.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

“Figure of Speech” Doesn’t Mean “Shapely Lips,” No Sir!

Heard about the guy who went and actually threw a stone to check whether the home he purchased was a “stone’s throw away” from a shopping complex as claimed by an advert? Yeah, it really happened. So much for our understanding of the Queen’s language. Sigh!

There are people who think that "poetic licence" mean the licence to put a few random words together and call it poetry. Things like this happen around us. We forgive and then move on.

Wish I could convince them that “figure of speech” doesn’t mean “shapely lips” but a figurative way of expressing thoughts. Then I baulk at the thought of all the explaining I will have to do and keep quiet. I have heard people boasting of their ignorance and then insisting that they were right. It pain to realise that what they claim is good language is actually so bad that they would flunk a first standard test in a reasonably good school. It also saps the confidence of someone who is trying his/her best to stick to his/her belief in what is right. Such as yours truly. Sort of happens in situations when the person such as this blogger is disadvantaged in the power equation.

Mediocrities abound. No, not only in our products but in our teaching-learning process. I feel this most dearly at times. But somehow we have failed our next generation by not giving them a good educational upbringing. We haven't taught them subtlety, we haven't taught them how to write poetry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shobhaa De Reporting from Turin Book Fair

Shobhaa De was at the Turin Book Festival. This is her report. Must say she lives it up wherever she goes and had a great time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Start Television or World's Amazing Videos

I was like, “what?” The news had ended. Start TV was showing some mindless videos which should have gone into the slot of “World’s Amazing Videos” of some plane crash in the US. How a plane entered a house and how the shaken man had a narrow escape. Then they show simulations of the crash, the aircraft descending, the details. The presenter is ill-at-ease having to narrate things like, “Dekhiye kaise hawai jahaj gir raha hai,” in an absolutely deadpan voice, with a face as serious as that of men who have had too many. Poor chap. Must be on punishment for being a bad boy, mouthing this bad television lines. I felt like telling him, “Smile, you are on television.”


A few minutes ago the channel reported that Maoists had killed 40 people travelling on a bus. What a come down after that! I thought they would hunt down some specialists, some experts and have a discussion. No, nothing of that sort happened on our teevee.

Hm. Our television needs, very much needs stock footage bought from foreign channels to sustain it. Our programming guys must be a moronic lot, to have to do that when there are thousands of experts, former army men, politicians in the making, all just waiting, waiting, for (an opportunity like) this.

What is wrong? Eh? Is our electronic media that followed every action of Kasab for television, so absolutely lost for ideas? 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Perverse Interest of the Thirst (Cola) Industry

If this year is hotter than last year, I hate to think what it would be next year. Already people are giving murderous looks inside trains. What would happen in our overcrowded trains? Fist fights? Knifings? deaths? I am too dazed to think. What will happen to our beautiful world? Will we survive?

Stop, stop, stop, being unnecessarily skittish.

And some people think global warming is not such a serious issue. They should see BBC serial “Walking with Dinosaurs” now showing on Fox History and Entertainment which is all about extinct dinosaurs and how they were wiped out. Extreme heat or cold, I am too hot and bothered to think, alle (isn’t it in Malayalam)?

Went to check out prices of air conditioners. A split air conditioner costs around 25 thousand. I don’t have that kind of money after paying my housing loan. So the best I can do is sit in my sleeve-less tee shirt and boxer shorts (as I am doing now.).

I think the thirst and cooling industry has perverse interest in global warming. Its good times for them as the money flows. Their profits go up when the temperature edges up on the dusty barometer of the met department.

Kuriachen Kuriakose, my god-fearing Marxist friend has an interesting take on this, he says, “Edo, haven’t you heard of the saying, ‘making hay while the sun shine?’. This is the same only. Multinational corporations have a perverse interest in spreading their hegemony over us by making us drink their colas. As for me I never touch them.”

“You don’t drink those burgundy liquids?”

“No. After all its this thirst industry that caused global warming in the first place with the gases they fill inside their fridges and cooling machines. They are all chloro-fluoro carbons (CFCs).”

He has a point, I must admit.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What If G**gle Winds Up?

I gave a quote to a query from a "friend" on Twitter, "What If G**gle Winds Up," or, something to that effect.

I don't remember the exact quote but what I wrote was "I would hugely disappointed." Not the exact words, I must say.

For the following reasons:

Whatever infinitesimal mark I have made is as a blogger and my blog is on a Google platform ""

All my poems are stored on my poetry blog (I have some old poems printed for a round of editing).

All my short stories are stored on my short story blog.

All my book reviews are stored on my book review blog.

All my communications are on

Most of my pictures are on

So on and so forth. All these are the property of G**gle. The last comment because I once saw a long list of websites (pages upon pages) on which I was absolutely dependent and I don't know which site or application G**gle has recently devoured.

So I really can't say. Can I?

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Truth Is Out: Men Are More Licentious

So it is out. I mean what we had known all along is out, as appears here on Technorati.

"I know, because I have been collecting empirical data for years now and if I have come to one conclusion, it's this: men desire, no wait, REQUIRE sex, more than women. This is in general true, however, results may vary."


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shekhar Kapoor on “Paani”

Shekhar Kapur talks about a realistic-sounding water situation in this post on his Facebook page. But all over the news I scanned today, there’s no mention of water riots. How come? I work in South Bombai and there too there wasn’t any mention of any riots. But, the way high-rises have been mushrooming there could be a crisis soon. May be this post would act as a well-timed warning. 


Could also be that Shekhar is expressing a fictional dystopian situation arising out of his soon to come movie "Paani" about which he wrote here.In which case, "kudos," what a realistic setting imagined by one of our best creative minds.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Scene inside Train

Short take today. Am indisposed. Felt woozy yesterday after the usual walk to the office. A nauseous feeling combined with lethargy. So spending time at home, writing, reading. No, not watching television. Television is addictive.

In train I observe people. However I try not to stare, I do. Some people might find this disconcerting, may even stare back. I am trying to imagine their life. Their families, their passions, their failures, their successes.

Mostly I find people in the depth of despair. There is this man boasting about how smart he is because he closed so many pending accounting problems, collected so much money. Bullshit, I say, you are nothing but a slave, doing routine stuff. But for him he is a hero and is doing a good job.

Another plump man his waist hanging out of his trousers like an over-ripe jackfruit is jabbering something. All I can hear is “jabber, jabber, jabber....” He is repeating some mantra as if he is losing touch. With life.

Another young man struggles to the straps of his knapsack around his shoulder. I know the problem. Stiff shoulders after so much time surfing the net. A sedentary life spent around a computer, doing nothing but tapping keys and moving the mouse. Mouse-and-key, mouse-and-key, mouse-and-key, so on....

Then I see him. He must be around seventy, wears glasses with a dark brown tint, looks a bit like Balraj Sahni and is a picture of old worldliness that I admire so much. He is trim, no inch of extra fat, a well composed face (though a few lines add to its gravity), he looks around with an amused expression, non-judgementally. When he alights from the train I notice his bag. It’s leather and neatly polished, as is his shoes.

I smile. I have seen perfection in the middle of imperfection.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Theeyu Kudikano?

It's sad how nobody is willing to acknowledge the heat that we are so stoically enduring, eyes squinting, mouth set, our faces dripping, our brains like fire. This morning as I was hurrying to entrain, my head on fire, naturally, a woman said:

"Theeyu kudikano?" meaning, "Do you want to drink the fire?"

What a fine expression! Yes it is fire in Bombai, the city I live in. No sooner I am outside than I sweat all over, inside my clothes sweat forms a second layer, almost like a surrogate skin. I guess it is a furnace in Delhi, which is alternatively very hot and very cold in summer and winter respectively. Yet no study has been undertaken how the climate has turned hostile. We ignore what is not convenient, we sweep it under the carpet and think things will right itself. What are the meteorologists doing? What's the media doing except the routine reporting of the temperature? Such a big story opportunity is lost.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meet at Copenhagen, despite its bombastic and pretentious sounding name (isn't everything international thusly gassy?) achieved nothing. It spent a lot of money, generated a lot of debate and achieved nothing.

Nyet. Nada. Poda. (The last word means, "Go away, you" in Malayalam, which was what happened in the conference.)

All talk remained only talk. We seem to be on the forefront of sending carbon particles into the air. Everywhere we are burning garbage instead of disposing them off, we are burning the dry tindery mountains to inhabit them and we are de-foresting like hell. I doubt if any trees will be left for the next generation.

We have become selfish and self-centred in short. We think owning an ipod and an iphone and if possible an ipad is the meaning of life. This self-centricism is destroying us.

Okay, okay I am being too pessimistic. I am a bit skittish, things being as they are.

Monday, May 10, 2010

“But Novelists Are Stubborn… They Refuse to Give Up”

Liked this quote from Amitav Ghosh's acceptance speech while accepting the Dan David Prize:

"But novelists are stubborn: when young, they refused to give up novel-writing, despite the worried advice of their families. The more we were told to turn our backs, the more we wanted to see – and to speak – for ourselves."

I for one know this to be true. I will keep writing novels irrespective of whether anyone publishes it or not. I could be the world's most prolific unpublished novelist. Hehe. Even ignominy has its charm, doesn't it?

What Is “Public Pillory”?

Interesting things I discover in the online version of the Maharashtra Gazeteer. It seems the area around what is now Victoria Terminus was used as a dhoby ghat and an area of "public pillory" where offenders were subjected to humiliation of being teased, denigrated and pelted with "rotten eggs, old shoes, mud and brickbats." Queen Victoria abolished this practice. Excerpt:

"The Victoria Terminus has taken place of ' a miserable wooden structure' which prior to 1878 served as the terminal station. The area in front of this building was occupied by a Dhobi's ghat where the town's washing was performed until the new ghat at Mahalakshmi was provided while a portion of the site of the present booking office and the open space leading to Frere road were occupied by the famous Phansi talao or Gibbet pond. The pond derived its name from the fact that murderers used to be hanged there and the gallows stood there in full view of the public until roughly a century ago when the tank was filled in and the melancholy structure was removed. Close by in olden times stood also the public pillory, where offenders were subjected to the raillery of the populace and had to submit to being pelted with rotten eggs, old shoes, mud and brick bats. The abolition of this mode of punishment was one of the first acts of Queen Victoria after her assumption of the Crown."

Times were when a great debate was let loose among captains of industry about the meaning of the world "pillory" when I was in charge of the ASCI. Now, at least, the meaning is clear. I didn't know (hehe!) that it was so mean and colonial.

The Ignored Legacy of Raja Rao

Times of India reports through the pen of Leitizia Alterno the sad unwillingness of any individual or institution to volunteer to housing the writer Raja Rao's literary papers. The article appears under an ad for "delivering mangoes to your home by Fedex." Took me completely by surprise, I must say. What has mangoes to do with literature? Was it the penchant for Indo-Anglian writers to write about "mango pickle", "blue mangoes", oh, never mind?! Guess it's the heat getting to me.

"In Rao's case, both the publishing industry and the academic world contributed to Rao's literary, and material, demise. While Raja Rao's profound spirituality has certainly hindered his active engagement in securing high profile and profitable publishing deals, as a Rao critic and editor-in-chief of the Raja Rao Publication Project, I am always struggling to campaign for the literary recognition he deserves as one of the leading anti-colonial literary voices coming from India, way ahead of Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy. Rao's writing remains a conveniently unacknowledged, yet almost palpable presence in some of their works."

I wonder why Raja Rao has gone into virtual anonymity while his coevals have been elevated to the literary hall of fame. The fact that he was considered for the Nobel Prize also indicates his prominence as a strong voice of the post-colonial Indian diasporas' writing. We have short memories and when it comes to literature our memory is even more limited. Nissim Ezekiel, Arun Kolhatkar, Santan Rodrigues are some poets who have been totally ignored after their deaths. (By the way, I picked out Kolhatkar's "Jejuri" from Strand Book Stall on Saturday. Luckily for me Shenoy [who took over from Shanbhag] recognized me and gave me some good discounts.)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Yogasanas for Spondilytis

These are some yogasanas which will help you if you are suffering from Spondilytis. Sitting hunched on a computer for long hours can be the cause, as I am realizing now. Oh, why didn't I know this earlier?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Comment on Why Indian Girls Wear Self-imposed Purdah

Commenting on my post on why girls go for self-imposed purdah. Ms, a constant follower of this blog (thank you, muchly, ms) comments:

"I think it is to protect their skin from dust and sun. Mostly see pillion riders covered up, female drivers even have gloves that go up way past their elbows - very audreyhepburn-ish in My Fair Lady. Some of them do brave the elements! But will begin my observation and report, sir! I was always amazed when I saw veiled women in Aus[tralia] and NZ - couldn't understand why they would still follow oppressive practices when they were living in progressive countries. the men said it was for their own protection. Believe me; they were in no danger from locals who had their own scantily clad women to ogle at! Maybe it was to protect them from their own males who were overwhelmed at the display of exposed skin."

Ms, I beg to differ on this. It could also be that we men get a complex when we see the progress women are making. There are stalkers, rapists, molesters, in our midst and every girl has some experience of dealing with such incident in her life. This country has seen the worst sort of atrocities committed against women. The purdah gives her anonymity and freedom to pursue her future. Today, though every organization has a powerful woman at the top (they may be in the shadows of their male scarecrows, but they wield considerable power) calling the shots (Indira Nooyi, Chanda Kochar, Lynn deSouza, Vinita Bali [the latter two because I have met them]) men haven't come to terms with their success.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Why are girls everywhere wearing veils?

A masked form zips by on a scooter. I look, I stare. It’s a girl. A scarf is tied around her head, hiding her forehead and face, leaving only a small visor-like gap for the eyes. Is it the pollution? I doubt it. Is it? By any chance? Bunkum, says an inside voice.

Why are girls everywhere wearing masks or veils? Why are they making a self-imposed purdah for themselves? I see this happening in small towns and large metropolitan cities, with their supposedly liberated social values and modern God-alone-knows-what. Actually I am zero in all matters concerning girls. So help me out, poor, doubt-obsessed, blogger uncle-ji.

Is it to escape something unsavoury episode they went through, may be, when still innocent of the ways of the bad world? Let say small town girls wear it to get some privacy for themselves, so that they can do what they please (like going to the movies) without being identified and witch hunted.

But girls in a city like Bombai? The girls here are all bold and “apunko-marega-tho-hum-bhi-do-jhapad-marege-types.” Or is it a propaganda aimed at stating our girls are not protected, not allowed the freedom to discover their own world? What then of the strident rhetoric, issuing out of beautiful, lip-stick-and-mascara-ed parvenus of gender freedom and equality? Have they achieved anything?

Or are they still an oppressed lot, made to sacrifice on food, education and a meaningful life. If true, this is sad.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Cost of Multi-tasking, Are We Losing Credibility?

Friend and moderator of Shakespeare and Co. Pragya Mishra Thakur has this excellent piece of wisdom in Shakespeare and Co. discussion board. Titled "No more multi-tasking, please" it struck a chord with what most of us are doing these days. We are surrounded by an information overload. We are inundated by information, most of it unfiltered for quality, reliability and credibility. The old system of editors filtering information is gone. These days articles are written by public relations agencies and the editor just proofreads what's given him, "Hey you, publish that or else…." It is said that the old filters of having a book read and recommended by a critic no longer applies. In fact the world has done away with critics and editors and replaced them with someone with a vested interest – like a rival writer – who can put forward his/her own opinion and even generate interest in his/her own book. Most publishing companies are staffed by masters in arts literature writing their own deathless novels. Guess that's why I can't bring them to read my manuscript.

Watch any news cast these days. A few days ago, I found myself watching a prime time news channel and, you won't believe this, it was showing "amazing videos" with a bored-looking presenter standing before the screen and explaining what's going on. "Dekhiye ab kya hota hai, blah, blah, blah." (See what's going on, yack, yack, yack….) Come on, give me that much-needed break. Is this some mindless program like "The World's Most Amazing Videos?" This was going on on prime time and I guess they didn't have anything better to show.

Times were when, well, forget it….

In a comment on the same article Mahendra Rathod says, "I see around me the zealous pursuit of excellence has often come at a dehumanizing cost."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mid-day Changes Hands

According to this article in bestmediainfo Mid-day's print business has been taken over by Jagran Prakashan Ltd.

"The print business, run by MML through its wholly owned subsidiary Mid-Day Infomedia Ltd (MIL), comprises publication brands – viz., Mid-Day (published from Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi), Sunday Mid-Day, Gujarati Mid-day and The Inquilab, the largest read Urdu newspaper in the country and all publication related Internet properties."

"As per the Scheme of Arrangement the print business of MML would be demerged and transferred to JPL with effect from April 1, 2010. The Scheme of Arrangement is subject to necessary approvals and consents."

This blogger remembers the day Mid-day was launched. It was one of the best launches of a newspaper in Bombai and even in India. Am a bit wistful to see it change hands.

Have We Goofed Up on Bombai’s Congestion and Redevelopment

When the train drivers went on strike I saw what the city was like travelling in a bus. The bus was crawling and the five hours I spent inside the slow-moving vehicle gave me a perspective of what is really happening in my city. I mean how it had changed over the years. I could make out the changes that had happened over the past few years, slowly, incrementally, insidiously.

First of all I noticed the high rises in Parel mill district. I don't see any development here. I had hoped to see a lot of modern office complexes, neat streets, progressive urban development, "new urbanism" as the much touted areas were made out to be. Travelling on the train network I had missed all these sights. What I saw shocked me. I was a sort of a nasty surprise, of a Kafkaesque and Camus-ian kind. I had expected neatly constructed apartment-cum-office blocks laid out in gardens and freshly watered lawns. Mostly, children playing on these lawns and an aura of residential bliss.

Alas, alack! None of these. Disappointed, I hang my head. I see the usual rubble on the streets, the bricks stacked brazenly in front of buildings, sand dumped on the roads, and encroachments, encroachments, encroachments. I see people, some of them very old, sleeping on the streets, dogs, sidewalks encroached greedily by shops, unauthorised vendors and hawkers brazenly doing business.

Things have changed but not for the better. The congestion has increased. There are more cars on the roads because people living in these sky-kissing monoliths all have cars, there are more people because the high-rises are full of people. There's more pollution and the carbon emission from these areas is sickening even to look at. I guess this has raised the temperatures, I think as I sit and sweat in the bus.

The sweat and the heat, both unbearable and the thick emission from cars forming a kind of bluish haze, I feel sick, but then can I help it? We have goofed. We have. Real big time.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Minor War on the Day the Train Drivers Went on Strike

Yesterday, being the day on which the pampered train drivers of Bombai went on strike, this weird and funny thing happened at VT station. Ho hum. Some background here as my international readers won't understand what a train drivers' strike is.

In India any interested group can decide what to do, whenever they fee like it. So when you get up in the morning and see garbage accumulated on all roads, you know the sweepers are on strike, when the yellow taxis aren't visible and people with heavy luggage are looking like fishes out of water you know the taxis are on strike, likewise with rickshaws also, when the whole city is deserted and nobody is on the street you know some big brother has called a "bandh" which is the father of all strikes.

So the train drivers were on strike, except a few souls who took pity on the likes of me and decided that enough was enough and at 8.30 p.m. decided to drive one train to Panvel. So I get into this one train to Panvel and am able to fit a toe on an inch of space in this train. I find that the adjacent ladies compartment is also full.

As expected a man jumps into the ladies compartment, complaining the gentlemen's compartment was too full, and, besides, he enjoyed the company of women.

Will the women let him "enjoy" their company?

Poor chap he got such a tongue lashing he will never forget in his miserable life. The women just gave him "left and right". The poor chap tried all he could with his limited lung power to explain that since the crowd was so huge (imagine around 100 thousand people in a train) could they please adjust him?

  • No, you get down just now. Or we will pull the chain and stop the train.

The man is like a sheep among jackals except that the men in the adjacent compartment are encouraging him thusly:

  • Come on, man, show them your mardangi (manhood).
  • Come on, if they come into our compartment we will throw them out.
  • Kya admi, can't you give a proper reply to those women?
  • What a coward, afraid of women?

The compartment turns into a battleground with the women on one side, the men on the other, and the man, sort of ping pong ball between them. I didn't know the sexes were at war. I always thought the male and female of the species were in love of the Bollywood kind. Snort!

What happened next is as expected. The man was expelled by the sheer lung power of the women, that too, not a honorable exit through the door, but he had to climb over the metal divider and step into the gentlemen's compartment.

Men are from Mars and Women from Venus, you say? Then I guess these planets are at war. Yes, it was a minor war in the compartment.

Train Drivers Strike in Bombai is Unethical

First of all, I think the ongoing strike by train drivers in Bombai is unethical. They struck yesterday and again today. A token strike of one day I can understand, but today is the second day. The city depends on trains. Five million (some say seven million) people travel by trains everyday to work. People – even the well to do – depend on trains as they are more dependable that the anarchy of maneuvering through Bombai's chaotic traffic. If the trains don't work these five million people don't go to work, result is chaos on the roads. Loss of productivity, well, I won't be the prosaic corporate communicator that I am here, on my blog, but that's one of the consequences. The cars come out and the roads become a single, interlocked, river of cars, honking, unable to move.

Today as I sat in traffic in a crowded bus, I could see thousands of cars of all make, uselessly sitting there, not getting anywhere, their drivers fuming. The heat was up, the sun was blazing, the noise levels were deafening. This is nothing but extremism of another type, this sudden calling of a strike. I hope the authorities take action to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.

The train drivers are a pampered lot, at least, in Bombai. I know. My uncle retired as a train driver. He tells me they work on six hours and the rest, if they work, is over time. Their pay is better than average. Plus (there are many pluses), they get to rest between runs. They have a slew of allowances. Yes, their jobs are lonely. Whose job isn't? Work in a workstation can also get lonely, especially when you slog after everyone (including train drivers) has gone home. They have nobody to talk to once inside their cabin. But that's an occupational hazard. Agreed?

Now why should they strike and leave five million people stranded? They are demanding among other things, better pay, which they are already getting. They have good retirement benefits which none of us sloggers from morning till late evenings are getting. Ah, then, we also don't get overtimes. They work lesser hours, which would be a blessing for us overworked people.

Train drivers, if you are reading this (which seems unlikely) please don't hold us to ransom like this. I am one of those who you haul to work and back every day.

Monday, May 03, 2010

“Sushi” to Say “I Do”

According to this article in Mid-day Shashi and Sunanda, the pair known as "Sushi" is to wed in the Golden Palms Hotel and Spa. What's with names like "Brangelina" is that I don't know whether it is a creation of the couple themselves or is it the creative juices of the media flowing in eddying circles around the celebrities. Hm. Or are they the creation of their publicists? Don't know much about the celebrity whirl-gig but sure they look like they are in love in the pictures.

All the best!

Anyways, good for them that they still want to go ahead. As Samuel Johnson once said a second marriage (or, any marriage thereafter) is a triumph of hope over experience, so good luck and much hope.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

My First Podcast - Stilled Voices - a Poem

This is my first podcast, a poem ("Stilled Voices") I recited recently. Hope you like it. It took me three hours to figure things out, but then, the satisfaction is worth it.

Polishing the Novel and “Oh, Mighty Mountain”

Past two days were bliss. I forgot I used to have Saturdays and Sundays off in my earlier jobs in outsourcing. Now two days is heaven sent when I can sit in my eyrie and look at the blue Parsik Hills and see the flights descending toward Santa Cruz and Sahar. Walking in the foothills of this huge outgrowth of granite in the morning, I wanted to write a poem. I might attempt it, something like, “Oh, mighty mountain,” or something like that. The idea is that this mountain has seen this earth develop from millenniums in the past. It has seen rivers form, seas take shape, the hunter gatherers, the farmers, the kings and dynasties, the Mughals, the Chhatrapaties, the British, the modern netas. Yet, it is so unmoved. Yes, yes, yes, now the idea is clear. I will write it now.

I spent most of these two days making changes in the novel. I can never rest assured that the novel is now complete and the editing should begin. I feel I have left back, rather held back, failed to present a lot of what I had expected it to contain. Having read this post on this blog, I feel I have flouted every one of the advices mentioned there. So I need to pare it down, much, much towards the beginning. Keeping my fingers crossed. I also wonder whether it is worth it, when I can take a vacation, go somewhere instead of sitting before a computer all day. Though I have finished writing it, I don’t think it is complete. As I say on the masthead, “No work of art is complete, it is abandoned,” and now it’s time to abandon my work. Goodbye sweet child of my mind.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

View inside Centre One, Vashi

This is a picture taken inside the food court in Vashi's Centre One mall. Don't know why but malls have a soothing effect on me.
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Albert Camus’ Exile and Kingdom, Short Stories

 I am reading a collection of short stories by Albert Camus and it is so wonderful how he describes the world of his era, and how he can still entice people with his descriptions of those days. It's just an amazing book and is titled, "Exile and the Kingdom". Do try and get hold of a copy of this book by one of the world’s most engaging writers who has given us books like “The Stranger” “The Myth of Sisyphus” and others.

I had always thought that Camus was an exponent of existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre and others but realise only now that he himself said he wasn’t. He was independent thinker and philosopher. His espousal and style had to do more with Kafka and Kafkaesque absurdism than existentialism, which is what I learn from reading the wikipedia article. He also believes in surrealism of Andre Breton, all of which were an offshoot of the post-war literary fervour of the forties and fifties.