Monday, May 30, 2011
Copying to a CD:
Printing a file:
Send to print
Copy to print
Take out print.
Thinking something along these lines, are you? Then comment. You know that thing about great minds thinking alike.
Here's a picture I clicked of my brother-in-law's house in Kerala, which is a beautiful one, surrounded by abundant greenery, sort of a trade mark of Kerala. (Twitterers must have already seen this, in which case, sorry!) Though rains hadn't come the greenery is omnipresent. I am still in a daze after my visit, which is usual. The things I heard, experienced there overshadow me and my mind goes blank when I am back to Bombay. Will take some more time to get into the groove of the big bad city. So, be patient, till I get this out of my system.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
I remember about twenty years back an anthropologist had come to live in Artist Village where I live. One day after work I shared an autorickshaw with her (since autorickshaws were rare in those days). She said living here was "very rough". She didn't say "tough" she said "rough." It was a rough place to live in those days: there were no proper internal roads (I wrote letters and got this done), for mail we had to go to the post office and sift through the entire village's mail (I wrote to the Postmaster General and got mail delivery started), electricity and water supply played truant for days and once, for a week (I couldn't do much in this regard).
Such was life in Artist Village in those days. Nowadays life is - hopefully - better, but, still, I can't be a dispassionate judge. I live too much near it to judge. Architects have admired the design by Charles Correa, but people living there have had to face hardships because of the poor execution. The result: we all broke down the old structures and built our houses anew with multiple floors. They may look like concrete monstrosities compared to the graceful old ones. One learns to adapt and go along.
I have digressed. I have waffled.
I have often wondered why people in Bombay haven't integrated, a good anthropological question. Why Bombay, why haven't people of India integrated. In Artist Village the Malayalis were the first to start a local Malayali association. This association has had its share of fights, coups, coup d'etat, and stayed together, managed to, rather. The Bengalis started their own association, the Punjabis their own. Though we all lived in Belapur we were a diverse and compartmentalised lot, with very little interaction with other people. A good anthropological question that begs an answer.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
"I had a speech prepared and it was curse you McDonald," she said. South Africa, is an "an incredible place to live ... and write about", she added. "It's really where science fiction is. It's in the developing world, it's first world, it's third world – the way we use technology is different to the way it's used elsewhere. This book is about magic and technology and it's very special to be here."
Hm. First world and third world in one. Sounds familiar? Applies to India, too, I guess.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I don't know how they - the hustlers - came to know I am back. There are these endless calls that make me want to bash my mobile device against the nearest wall. Since I work in the marketing department there are advertising agencies looking for a client, publication looking for advertisements, outdoor advertising contractors looking for new business. I think they all have dedicated call centres to disturb me throughout the day. I swear. I receive so many calls that I don't have time to work. I get behind on my schedule. Bosses get mad at me.
Business is done this way, my friend Dhansukhbhai Jethalal Shah assures me. They need to promote aggressively to survive, otherwise they will fail. Either grow or die. Every new business fails in the first five years of operation.
The New Kind of Ad-hoc-ism
I see a peculiar kind of ad-hoc-ism here. Businesses these days don't have the patience to document like they used to. Nobody files papers. The idea of these hotshot-management-types-who-quit-at-the-drop-of-a-hat is to quit before records are asked for from people who care about documentation. They are aggressive in pursuing marketing and sales targets and depart leaving a mess in their wake. The whole organisation suffers and a whole lot of effort goes down the drain. This is the new kind of ad-hoc-ism.
There are endless hustling on email too. They fall into the following categories (I like to categorise things, you know).
The Nigerian Scam
These scams operate from close by (mostly by Nigerian illegal immigrants), though they claim to have accounts in Nigeria. The emails are badly written (which is your cue to ignore them), badly punctuated, giving off whiffs of scams. But some people fall for the millions offered if you just send your address and your bank account number. They just need a few thousand dollars as a processing fee before they transfer the millions to your account. If you agree, you can say goodbye to this processing fee. Your processing fee is their revenue. Like a dog that has been kicked, you sit and nurse your wounds and are reluctant to tell anyone about the trauma you went through.
The Beautiful Young Girl Scam
This scam could have been effective when I was a youth and still unmarried. What can it do when I am getting on in age and experience? So how do I respond to a girl who is beautiful, simple, god-fearing, fun-loving, etc. She sends her picture also. But everything is so suspect that you wonder how people fall for these scams. Soon as they know your bank balance and financial position, they go after your money. Don't believe the siren who sends pictures and say they love your wrinkled mug shots. Hm.
The Au Pair Scam
Of this scam I have written before here.
The Multi-level Marketing Scam
I have expounded, waffled about this here. (Same link as above.)
Just mentioning it here so that you are aware.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
How many books do we have on our shelves waiting to be read? Many I suppose. Me too. Mea culpa. I have a shelf full of the most desirable books I would like to read, if I have the time.
"And yet I've a fairly accurate notion of what I haven't read. I have to admit that I only read War and Peace when I was 40. But I knew the basics before then. The Mahabharata – I've never read that, despite owning three editions in different languages. Who has actually read the Kama Sutra? And yet everyone talks about it, and some practise it too. So we can see that the world is full of books that we haven't read, but that we know pretty well."
Monday, May 23, 2011
Mundu held at both ends parted in the middle
It's (sheesh!) the husband's invitation to the wife to... you know what. Since the man wears colourful lungis (the casual version of Mundu) at home the mood is already set.
Mundu's hem held from behind while walking
This is a relaxed Malayali, taking it easy and enjoying the verdant scenery as he walks around his naturally-bless state of Kerala. There's nothing like a relaxed Malayali (I am one!), there's humour in every word, slapstick in every action (see Malayalam movies), laughter in every second (as I am now, I hope!).
Mundu worn with nothing above it.
This is the Kerala version of the Varanasi one where naked sadhus dive into the Ganga with only a loin cloth. A Malayali looks imposing with his rippling muscles, his dark well-oiled hair, and dark complexion. His skin virtually shines. Look how he just coruscates in the shine of freshly-applied coconut oil.
This is the best expression I can think of in this collection of trivia. Do comment, please!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I don't know what to think the sweeping verdict of the electorate in the recent state elections on Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam. I am in Kerala now and the mood is upbeat. The chief minister who lost - V.S.Achuthanandan - says that the UDF's is a marginal victory with a marginal majority. That sounds like sour grapes. The fox is cunning too. He will come back as the wily politician in V.S. knows. Oommen Chandy looks to be the next chief minister. So, Kerala is going to have the second Christian chief minister after A.K.Antony. Good. They worked hard. The BJP didn't get any seat. Bad for them.
I am at my brother's home in Kochi. On the way here as the hills dipped into valleys and waterlogged plains converted into rice fields I thought of the changes brought about since my childhood. They tell me rice cultivation is at a standstill because labour rates have gone up to Rs 400 (around $ 10) a day (high by Indian standards). So the common farmer can't afford to cultivate his land. Therefore fertile land is wasting away, encroached by water hyacinth and wild tubers. Labourers, besides, get rice at Rs 2 from a populist government, so why bother to work for food? I see development turned on its head and laziness being rewarded, people being driven to drinks and dissolution.
"I'd be more frightened by not using whatever abilities I'd been given. I'd be more frightened by procrastination and laziness."
Said by Denzel Washington. He is an actor I admire. He has shown his mettle in "Fallen" and "Courage under Fire." Yes, I am frightened by not using whatever abilities I have been given. The labourers of Kerala who work so hard when they are in the Persian Gulf and in Bombay are lazy bums when it comes to working in their own state. (I am scared these comments would be takens as anti left. No I am not anti- or pro-left. I have taken political sanyas log ago.)
As I was driven here I saw a lot of victory buntings along the way. Then in the night I saw Cochin Tuskers lose to Punjab XI in the Indian Premier League. Bad for Cochin Tuskers. They didn't have any good bowlers and the Punjab XI batsmen had to so easy.
Friday, May 13, 2011
being a farmer's house, is somewhat basic in facilities and amenities.
There is no water. So water has to be drawn from a well at a lower
level and carried up a steep incline. I like to draw water from the
well, the clang of the pulley, the gush of water as it falls into a
bucket, and then the steep climb. I feel my muscles flex and the
tendons straining, good to keep the body flexible and in shape (though
I have the inherent Mallu paunch.).
I shave in the open, watch the cow being taken to graze in the field,
the playfulness of the hens and rooster. The rooster in our house is a
debonair guy. He has under his sway the hens of the neighbour, and he
rules his roost with a stern uprightness manifested by his red cap and
the red growth under his lowerjaw. He looks manly, sorry roosterly,
and he emphasises the fact by bullying the hens. He has to be forcibly
brought back home from the neighbour's brood.
The courtyard, where I spend most of my time, is filled with activity.
Insect - both deadly and harmless - abound, a gekko runs tentatively
towards me and backs away. There's the smell of ripe jackfruit under
the tree where I sit. Light and shade play on me as I write this. The
dog house is being used as the chicken coop as there is no dog. Sound
travels from the opposite bank across the rice fields, fallow lands
now leached and left uncultivated. A new house is being built since
the old one is crumbling and the smell of freshly sawed wood hangs
about the place.
There is imperfection (as far as I am concerned, but I make do with
some adroit adjustments) and still perfection as only a local can
bring about. For a city dweller all this is fun and for the local it
is sort of routine.
Today I am going to my house which is in Kidangannoor (now rented
out), a remote area which is looking up with the announcement of the
Aranmula International Airport. Land cost is shooting up, the rice
fields are being converted into the longest runway in the country. A
sleepy village will transform in a few years into a bustling airport.
Modernity will touch the countryside. Already the rural areas resound
(no, not with the panchavadyam of temples) but by the noise of cricket
scores and Malayalam movies, broadcast 24-hour.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
catch up so soon.
There was this need to define territories and borders, a lot of
perambulation around the
compartment, a lot of opening and closing of large bags. A man had a
tought time managing his five children. I felt sorry for him. Managing
one is such an ordeal, imagine having to cope with five. Some ordeal
this! We are bad travellers and don't plan our journeys, as was
obvious. Women with children were the most miserable. one had
odd-shaped underwears slung on the lever that holds the seat in place.
An assortment of bottles and tissues were resorted to, to keep the
young calf in good humour. She screamed all the while, a
disconcertingly piercing scream. Reminds me my son didn't scream when
he was small and we took him on holidays. But not children are also
differently enabled. I must remember.
People were finding their territories and defining them. Territories
that existed only in the mind. One was keen on using up all the space
available for his huge suitcases and a hundred small packets all of
which - I found later - contained snacks. My ticket was still under
reservation against cancellation (RAC) and therefore I didn't have a
seat to myself. All I had was a seat - no 39 - I shared with another
man. He had the right sleep on the seat at night, while I only could
sit on the seat. That was the arrangement. It's summer holidays and
these type of adjustments were quite common.
A man with a huge suitcase came and told me to vacate the seat I was
occupying since it was his confirmed seat. The way he asked for it was
quite rude as if he was willing to fight for it. I said he can sit
beside me and that at night I will let him sleep. "No," he says, "you
vacate the seat now." I become quite angry at this, being already
disturbed by the heat. I shout back, "I have a right to sit here. What
do you think?" Though I am a pacifist, I was willing to fight for my
rights for this piddling instance. I also didn't like the tone and
tenor of his voice. I dislike bullies. I have stood up to a lot of
them though it has made me unpopular. I don't mind being unpopular at
Then wifey interferes. She has a similar shared seat with a friend's
wife who is travelling with us. I share their seat for a while.
Effectively I am without territory in the compartment. The sultry
afternoon is passing by in a scene filled with nostalgic green. I gaze
at brick and mortar houses, cattle sheds, bullock carts, winding
roads, the brilliant summer sun caught in the opalescence of
chlorophyll-filled leaves. A sense of liberation overcomes me as I
stand at the door of the train enjoying the passing luxuriance, the
essence of rural life which is fast becoming extinct in preference for
Then I talk to the man who had evicted me from my seat. I realise his
misadventure of the morning. He had taken a rickshaw from Bandra to
Kurla and in between the rickshaw broke down. By the time it was back
on the road and they reached Kurla the train had left. They then
engaged a taxi to Panvel. The taxi driver brought them on time to
entrain from Panvel but charged them Rs 400 more. He was in quite a
dither, so he had shouted at me. I shake his hand and assure him that
I didn't mind.
Then I become quite liberal and let him take my seat and he, his wife
and his young daughter take the side seat while I loiter near the
door. I usually travel by air-conditioned but I wanted to test the
sleeper class as my friend's wife was also travelling with us. The
romance of travel can only be experienced in an open compartment where
you can actually see the passing scenery through the open windows. I
had travelled thus in my childhood from Bombay and I realised it
brought back to me the long-lost romance of travel.
Travelling in my childhood was by steam engines. The steam was
generated by feeding coal into a furnace. So actually it was a coal
furnace engine and when it came near it resembled a beast with the
hiss of steam and the hot crackling of coal in the furnace. Some of
the coal escaped from the furnace and if I put my hand outside the
window there was a steady rain-like spattering of hot coals on the
hand. I became darker than I am after the two nights and three days I
spent in the train and my friends in Kerala would have difficulty
recognising me when I arrived.
Those were the halcyon days! These are the troubled times. Computers
are used to book tickets (we used to stand in queue for three days to
buy a ticket in those days), however there still is a shortage of
seats. There are a hundred trains and all of them go full to brimming.
(To be continued...)
Monday, May 09, 2011
Sunday, May 08, 2011
What really distinguishes an ordinarily bad marriage from a truly terribly one is the lengths to which those involved are willing to go in their unhappiness. Madame Bovary is an early archetype of the genre for this reason. Emma Bovary's response to a loveless union is the opposite of settling down with some needlework and making the best of things; there is a laudable extravagance to the way in which she sets about causing her own destruction, fitting in two failed affairs, bankruptcy and a lingering suicide before the marriage is over. Of course, being married to Charles Bovary might tempt anyone to knock back the arsenic – he is one of literature's great boring husbands, and Flaubert excels in anatomising his dullness. This is a man who never aspires to anything beyond eating a lovely piece of cheese and falling asleep. The contempt bred by familiarity is perfectly articulated in a passage in which Emma has grown so sick of Charles that she's angered just by seeing his back as he snoozes: "even his back, his tranquil back, was irritating to behold, and in the very look ... she found all the banality of the man."
"The only girl I care about is gone away
Lookin' for a brand new start
But little did she know that when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart..."
Saturday, May 07, 2011
The result? My page ranking went down on google despite my best efforts.
Not to worry though. I have a good ranking on Technorati (a trusted site for measuring blog effectiveness) which is as follows:
Overall world ranking: 16743
Entertainment world ranking: 2280
Books world ranking: 591
The last is what I am concentrating on, being a writer and all.
Meanwhile here's Ramon Ray's article on what to do if you have been slapped by Google's Panda.
Friday, May 06, 2011
Fellowship holders (who are paid Rs 70, 000 a month) are expected to write original books that contribute to the fuller understanding of independent India.I would like to say that my book is politics, economics and culture combined. But the "thickly footnoted" part jars. Is that part of the foot-in-the-mouth, something, something? One wonders.
The Foundation is ecumenical as regards subject and genre. Books could be about politics, economics, or culture, and may take the form of a memoir, a work of reportage, or a thickly footnoted academic study.
Applicants should send a c.v. , a book proposal and a writing sample of at least 5000 words to:
The Managing Trustee,
The New India Foundation,
22 A Brunton Road,
Tell me what I should say. I can't think of anything tongue in cheek for this. This is it. It is stupefying and dumb. This is something that makes me want to puke, want to grab the man by the shirt collar and haul him to a dictionary and read the meaning of "Crazy" assuming he doesn't know.Another tee-shirt reads:
"Nobody's perfect. I am nobody."
Agreed it's a smart thing to say. If you are nobody how can you be perfect?
Haven't they been overstepping the limit, the limit of decency. A girl's tee-shirt reads:
Nothing wrong except that it is written across the breasts. Does she realise that this could lead to problems? In India solicitation is a criminal offense and this could (possibly) be considered as solicitation. Tee-shirt art shouldn't overstep the limits, according to this blogger.
Blogger Loic Le Meur tried this out and the result is as follows:
There is more data that we need to have better body analysis: what you eat (is there an app that I can just take a pic of what I eat and get a calory approx? If yes then it should also open an API and post into runkeeper!) then we need the iToilet to analyze what's coming out of our body. If I wasn't so busy and fascinated with Seesmic and LeWeb I would be working on that exciting new space, it's only a beginning. We should probably measure sex activities too. You guys should read The 4-Hour Body from my friend Tim Ferriss who reports on 10 years of experiment with his body.iToilet is good idea. Why not have sensors in the potty which analyse your... you know what. Sh*t! Why not have one for sex activities too, or, the lack of it. After all all the entertainers in Bollywood think they should have naked girls dancing synchronously and making orgasmic hip thrusts to sell their movies.
Anthonybhai has a different take, "It's actually making the motions of orgasmic hip thrust and all, men, nothing really happens. Just make-believe, everything, yaar!
Thursday, May 05, 2011
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air
The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show
To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream
The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss
And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay
I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right
And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon
Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow
Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears
I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart
Oversimplying the Nabokovian equation, Ms. Zanganeh sees this Russian-American author almost exclusively as "the great writer of happiness." She glances at various kinds of delight and joy in his work, focusing mainly on the theme of love. ("Love—the claire-obscure arabesque of the Nabokovian universe.") In a typical bout of flattery, she holds Vladimir and Vera, his wife, up as a nearly perfect loving couple. Cloyingly she writes: "We know nothing of their private lives. Except that they slept in adjoining rooms. Perhaps he tiptoed to hers. And late into the night, he would look at her, lying naked, supine, gray-blue eyes lifted skyward. Then soundlessly, he would again disappear in the dark haze of his room."Nabakov was a lepidopterist and couldn't drive. He was a polyglot who could write with ease in English, Russian and a few other languages. He depended on his wife to drive him on his butterfly collection expeditions, the result of which is that he has a genus of butterflies named after him. He was also a snob and a curmudgeon belittling other writers in no mean terms. Another writer remembers sending a gift and a book to be autographed and receiving them back - the present unaccepted and the book unautographed.
So that's one who was one of the most talented writers in the world. The strange world of writing is enigmatic, what shall I say?
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Yes. The silence spoke of death as silence does. Mostly. One of my neighbour, it was, that death beckoned. I don't know his name. He may have been around his sixties. I never spoke a few words with him. We used to see each other when we were out walking and I would think of something cheerful to say (in Marathi) and when he came near he would turn his face away.I wondered at this strange behaviour and was a bit offended. Was he a religious bigot. A Matha-brandan (religious-maddened person), as we say in Kerala? I decided not to speak to him at all. (The Englishmen I worked with in Saudi Arabia used to do that, especially Peter W. He was my boss. When I would come face-to-face with me around the office and around the project on which we were working, he would turn his face away. I would think of saying "Good morning" and I would see the head turning, turning in the opposite direction. Something personal? Is it my body language? Is it something else? Some hygiene issues [You know the English know about our back-washing habit forming part of our morning ablution. They are the wiping sort. We both detest the other due to this cultural difference. But that can cancel out each other, can't it?] Be so kind as to elaborate.)
Now I think it was some personal disappointment that would make them do that. They were in some deep mediatative state about some problem. Some block in their minds that wouldn't go away, something not superficial but touching a deep chord. Peter W. became very sick after those episodes (with malaria) and became a white wraith of a man.The above neighbour also had his reasons, I discovered through wifey, which follows:
He had two daughters. Both were married. The elder one's husband abandoned her. The reason was, you won't believe this: he wanted a
Old man, rest in peace! Sorry I couldn't speak to you and understand your problem. I must go sleep some to wake up to another futile day.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.However, Seth Abramovitch, writing in gawker.com has his doubts, which seem valid enough. He feels that the first sentence is completely fabricated, because King Jr. hasn't seen or experienced any deaths totalling the loss of thousands of lives.
The opponents of the above quote have their own quote of dubious origin attributed to Mark Twain (trust the social media to be schizophrenic):
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
Turns out it was actually said by Clarence Darrow, not Mark Twain.
Monday, May 02, 2011
In Zanesville turns out to be a brisk, rewarding journey through adolescence in the American heartland circa 1970 with the unnamed narrator and her best friend Felicia - "Flea" for short - as our guides.
"Being a teenager so far hasn't gotten me anything beyond period cramps and nameless yearning, which I had as kid, too, but this is a new kind of nameless yearning that has boys attached to it,"
The pair of girls navigates teenhood agonising about boys and the pains of growing up in the seventies.
"My mother's own bras are large quilted things that I used to think were funny. Now when I see them on the laundry table, one cup folded into the other, I have a sense of impending doom. It's like being on your way to the Alps and knowing that when you get there you'll have to wear lederhosen."
Understand the author's perspective. He spends days and months and years putting together a novel for a critic to demolish it in a few words. How inconsiderate! As a writer I feel apprehensive. That what makes me defensive about my work. If anyone demolishes my work (on which I am working at present)... well... beware! Don't tell me I didn't warn you.
My novel is in its third edit. I guess writing on a laptop has its disadvantages. You get what I may call "screen circumcision". I mean the precedent and the aftermath is hidden when you are concentrating on 780 by 40 pixels which is what a standard laptop screen is in most cases. You get astigmatism of a digital sort as you can't go back and forth. Your mind is blind to a little wandering and cross checking of events.
All this you realise when you take a print out of your novel. Ah! There are glaring mistakes there and you set out to correct and edit. Which is what I am doing now, with the printed pages of my novel. Writer's need to beware of "screen circumcision" which is a dangerous thing for a short story or a longer version of it.
Vasco Da Gama is considered by many to be a great navigator, a shrewd leader and a diplomat in history books. But was he really that? Did he have a violent streak? If you dig deep into history books, you will find that he indeed had a violent streak and this was exhibited many times, though it was all far away from home and in trading lands, especially those he subdued with the power of the gun. This unlettered though crude and many a time sadistically violent sailor was nevertheless loyal to his king and proved fearless until his death. By today's legal yardsticks and violence that Europe eschews, he would be rotting away in jails for his actions. Then again this was a long time ago, when might was perhaps, right and where it was proven by the power of a bigger gun and dishonest warring techniques. Vasco was after all, to summarize, as a detailed study of events that transpired after 1497 proves, brutal and single-minded, cunning, rash and suspicious. According to Sanjay Subrahmanyam, the "systematic use of violence at sea" was introduced after the arrival of the Portuguese.
Maddy writes an engaging blog about things historical. Especially the history of Kerala.