Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Short Story Listed in Final List of Grey Oaks Short Story Competition

I can breathe easy now. At last, I made it. The past few days had been
fraught with one tension or the other. The rain looks like it wouldn't
subside. It it does it comes back roaring again (as it has done just
now). And commuting in a city is hell. The sweepers, taxi-and-auto
drivers, the police (the most vital civic services) men go on leave
and leave the city to fend for itself. I heard there were plans to
sweep Bombay thrice every day. However, from the quantity of garbage
everywhere I think they mean they would sweep the city once in three
days, or, four, or, five.... Oh, forget it what's the use.

I forgot what I was going to report to you here. Ah, yes, about the
Grey Oaks Short Story Competition. I made it to the final list and my
short story "PK Koshy's Daily Routine" will be published. Hope it is
soon. It was such a thrilling victory the run up to which was an
experience full of nail-biting moments and anxious emails to the
organisers. I am like that only. Thank you guys at Grey Oaks. The
short list link is
http://www.greyoak.in/landmark.competition_results.htm. That's since I
am posting from a non-html page.

Now that I am perky, having won a competition and all, let me tell you
this. I hate when it rains in Bombay. This is in spite of all the vows
I have made not to rubbish my favourite city with which I have a
more-hate than love relationship. But I don't know if I will survive
anywhere else. Kerala is out of the questions: there are maurauders,
contact killers (quotation gangs), thieves and even relations
ever-ready to rip you off any time. Delhi's cold is too disconcerting,
so Delhi is out. Where else can I live. Bombay is filthy but it is
tolerable in a grit my teeth and bear it sort of way. Yesterday at
V.T. a man carrying a big bundle held in front of him pushed me twice
and when I protested he said he had only pushed me twice. So what? He
added. The insolent ba*tard.

Now the rain is falling and the streets are filthy with mud, plastic
wrappers, dog poop, human poop, pools of water which could hide an
open manhole, sand and aggregate left by road repair teams, fruit
peels, the spirit of Bombay still goes on. Now I will come to the
spirit of Bombay which has been lauded so much by our
page-3-sardonic-smiling-celebrities. Well, I am going to rubbish it
here. The Spirit of Bombay is knowing in your heart that nothing will
improve, so grin and bear it. Look how the celebrity smiles while
saying this. Notice the upward twitch of her upper lip, the
blood-congealing sneer? Look how the businessman who speaks about the
Spirit of Bombay fills the sidewalk with the display of his goods. He
says, after all, that's the spirit of Bombay, dumping his goods on the
sidewalk.

Has anyone seen an uncluttered sidewalk in Bombay? I have. It's
outside the Bombay Gymkhana and they use it to park rich people's
cars. Either sidewalks are full of vendors, people living in plastic
shacks, sand and stones abandoned in the road repairing process, or,
covered in so much poop you will want to throw up. They say that's the
Spirit of Bombay. I saw a documentary about Uganda on Fox History and
noticed that sidewalks are utterly uncluttered there. Spirit-of-Bombay
people just think, just think, how can Uganda do it and you can't?
Even the roads are better there.

I suspect something is wrong with people saying "Spirit of Bombay" all
the time. Either they are too naive or they are the sort who can be
termed as myopic, mean-spirited citizens of this great city.

Anyway, all this tumbled out as I am in a good mood. Three cheers!

Friday, July 29, 2011

John Lennon's "Imagine"

Here are the lyrics of John Lennon's "Imagine" which has been running through my mind of late. Quite a lot, after the recent attack.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Walk in the Rain

It's the usual scene outside Belapur station. There aren't any rickshaws available. It's 10 p.m. The rickety contraptions have gone into hibernation, which they usually do when it pours. Not one in sight. The rain is falling in sheets wetting my shirt, my bag, my back, my trousers. In Bombay rain feels like stab wounds, smarting, little pricks with knives. I stand in a queue which is half a kilometre long. My turn would come only towards midnight at the rate at which the queue is moving forward. There's an inch of water in my shoes sloshing about as I move. Another day has filed past lethargically, another day of work is finished, but the commute isn't. I wonder where all the people came from to my valley which was the greenest and nicest till ten years ago. Urbanisation. My house is around 30-minutes walk from the station, not much, but one must consider that I am tired after a day's tiresome work. The shoes is new and it's biting terribly and I forgot my raincoat.

It's at circumstances such as this that I want to withdraw into a shell and end the day with a bitter prayer on my lips. A prayer, bitter nevertheless. I pray daily. I find it to keep in communion with God, whom I really do believe in. It's ingrained in my psyche, my being, my whole existence depends on this unwavering faith. I pray to God. I want a solution to my problem. 10.30 p.m. A friend suggests we walk. I find his enthusiasm and can-do attitude one of the best in the world. Thank God! We have been friends on our daily commute for over 20 years now, before the invasion of people began into New Bombay. I know his story. He has been sold a flat that was sold simultaneously to two other people by the man who sold it to him. Such treachery prevails in this city of gold. Still he is a cheerful and uppity gentleman, going about his work with the best of optimism. He suggests that we walk.

We walk singing, "Rim Jhim Gire Sawan," and other rain songs. (Aside: as I am writing this I am watching the video of the song and I find there are two versions of it - one sung by Kishore Kumar and the other by Lata Mangeshkar.) Needless to say the walk was a pleasant one though we got thoroughly drenched. The singing and the company helped.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roddy Doyle's Short Story Book

I am a big fan of Roddy Doyle whose "Paddy Clark, ha, ha, ha!" I loved very much. The book was a revelation when I read it, making me reminisce about my own childhood. In that delicate but engaging novel he dealt with the world of children. Now, after many years, he writes about middle-aged men in a collection of short stories title "Stories." Read this review by Scott Eyman for the details.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

River of Smoke - Salil Tripathi's Review

Salil Tripathi has this review of Amitav Ghosh's River of Smoke in Sunday Guardian.

Having read "Sea of Poppies" I would like to lay my hands on this one.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway and Right-wing Extremism

Just another lazy sunday sitting on the terrace as I write this.
There's been disappointing news from Norway. Guess even the Christian
extremist groups are adopting terror tactics. Just how much of the
Bible do they know? It's as if they were trained to be ignorant of the
teachings contained in the holy books and to depend on their own
self-appointed teachers to spread violence and terror.

The problem is one of greed and sexual satiation. Greed and sexual
hunger leads man into a cul-de-sac where nothing matters except its
satiation. What happens in other religions also happens in
Christanity. People are promised riches in heaven if they kill people
in this world. It's a seemingly easy trade off, not very difficult to
enforce because of our own fraility. Churches are filled with people
who advocate mayhem and malevolence while Christ preached peace and
love. They said "right-wing extremism," which is what it is.

An American student who came to do a course in Pondicherry was
molested twice in a day. One by a guard in the hostel she was staying
at. What you taking? Right? Yes, a guard who was supposed to protect
tried to molest her. When she decided to leave the country because of
this incident she was molested on the way to the airport by the
rickshaw driver. Are we insane? Is this the way to treat a visitor to
our country? What image might she take to her country after the
incident. Oh God, I cover my face in shame.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Am at Rank 920 on Pinstorm's India Influencers. Humour Me with Re-tweets

Tried out Pinstorm's India Influencers ranking to find out where I stand in rankings. Way down after the Dalai Lama, the filmy dregs, Sidin Vadakut, Shashi Tharoor and Gul Panag I stand at number 920.

Surely, not among the top hundred (I mean influencers who are the stars on Twitter and Facebook whose Tweets and Statuses are avidly lapped up) but it is nice to be among the top thousand. Mean to keep improving this as I go along.

Also if you are on Twitter search my trending topic #johnism. I have some witticisms (droll) and philosophies (stale) for your reading pleasure. Do humour me with your re-tweets and replies.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Google Plus Took Only 16 Days to Reach Where FB Took 852 Days

Facebook took 852 days to reach 10 million members

Twitter took 780 days to reach 10 million members

Google + took just 16 days to reach 10 million members.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vancouver Is Going to Be Greenest City

It says on Lisa Lubin's blog that Vancouver is going to be the greenest city on earth. She says Vancouver has lots of tree cover and a maze of bicycle lanes. Makes one wonder, what about Bombay? Our green spaces are littered with plastic and other waste I need not mention here.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Polarised Social Milieu and the Rise of Stray Violence

We live in a world splintered into special interest groups and secret cabals of interested people. We don't know what's happening in the neighbour's house but we know what our friend had for dinner and what he/she is wearing (courtesy: Facebook, Twitter). "Had dinner," "slept a little," "am having coffee," aren't these the sort of things our friends tweet and facebook? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I am not an expert on social impact of social media so I wouldn't hazard a guess.

 

But, yes, we are a splintered and multi-layered group of people. The train is full of people engrossed in their gadgets to even look at neighbours. What happened to train friendships? I am good friends with my train friends of the nineties when we used to meet every morning on a fixed train schedule and spend the time chatting and exchanging information. Now they have gravitated into different orbits and at the most are nodding acquaintances. These days the boys don't chat, they are either listening to pirated music or engrossed in some movie or game on their mobile phone. Sometimes I wonder where these people come from.

 

Another alarming trend. We socialise with our work colleagues than our friends. A friend once remarked that our schoolmates made bad friends because we don't have much in common with them. What he covertly meant was that we should be friends with the people we work with, or, with people we do business with. I was taught that this is a wrong thing. At work we should be professionals working with other professionals, not friends. A company can make an enemy of a friend with consummate ease. How does one avoid a sense of betrayal at the workplace? Doesn't socialising in the workplace lead to rumour mongering and gossip? 


Are we turning apathetic and violent?


Is it any wonder that when a man was killed in Coimbatore in full view of public, no one came to his rescue. This one's a video showing the gruesome incident. In Bombay a man stabbed his girlfriend in full view of the public but no one bothered to intervene. The man was given a life sentence recently. Yes, they took pictures, but nobody did anything to help. Both died without any help. 

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spent a Quiet Sunday Listening to John Lennon and Jim Morrison

Spent a quiet Sunday listening to music. Some Jim Morrison and some John Lennon. I like their music. In those days it was music that was supposed to change lives, bring about a revolution with its fantastic lyrics. I don't know if it so today. Today's music seems so hedonistic. Okay, okay, dismiss me as some old codger, or something, reminiscing of the sixties and seventies. But, I must say, that was the golden age of English music, Indian music as well. So how was it living through the golden age of Western and Indian music? I can't say. I was too busy planning my future then.

I must say youtube.com is a great site for music. I can watch music of my choice and videos too. Didn't go to church as it was raining heavily. Sat on the terrace and watched the rain. Mesmerised by the sight and I kept watching it for a long time. Didn't know how time passed. Then came down and worked on the novel. 

Things are pretty much staid. The newness of being longlisted for the Grey Oaks Short Story Competition wore away. I am now waiting for the short list. Hope I am there. So keeping my fingers crossed. It means a lot to me as nothing has been forthcoming for a long time. No good news, I mean. Wish me luck!

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Longlisted in Grey Oaks Short Story Competition, Work on the Novel Continues

Heartening news. I have been long listed in the Grey Oaks Short Story Competition. Publication in US Bright Lights will be for the short listed stories. Anyway, it's some good news after a drought of good news in my writing career. So, I am sharing it with readers of my blog here.

The work on the novel continues. I am in the last stretch of line editing and still I am changing a lot though not the plot. I have mentioned before - in a forum - that I had the plot written in Excel and pasted on a cardboard in front of me when I was writing and revising. This is because I don't want to meander. Some writers find this useful. There are also writers who say that they don't plan anything ahead of what they write. As does Stephen King. But I find Stephen King tedious. There are sections where he goes on and on, on what can be termed pretty much as a tangent.

I read somewhere recently that you cannot divest words from the culture of its people. The study of words, the writing of words is one of the world's best and biggest human enterprises. Now news is rife in channels and newspapers The News of the World (NOTW) has been closed by Rupert Murdoch. This is not good news for the printed word. Isn't the printed word the transmitter of thought, ideas, incipient literature? A newspaper article is literature in a hurry. Much of the veracity of this statement has been tested in recent times. Newspapers these days contain gory aftermath of terror attacks with scant regard for reader's sentiments (see the latest coverage of the terror attack in Bombay in the press and television). There should be some restriction on showing of blood and gore. Foreign media blanks out such news, or, has a rider, "the following program may be unsuitable for certain audiences." Then it becomes a choice of the viewer.

Well I am rambling. Will stop now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Once Again Bombay Is in the News for the Wrong Reasons

It happened again. Bombay was named after a ship loaded with ammunition blew up in its harbour (this was when Bombay was a minor port used by the British to trade with India.). Disclaimer: this is apocryphal; not real. Many claim the city was named after Mumbadevi, the goddess of the seas. However, this Wikipedia article has a good summary of the bombs that have gone off in Bombay in the past nearly twenty years causing much anxiety to people who are residents of this megalopolis. Dilip D'souza has an interesting report of yesterday's blast here.

Yesterday was no different. As I set out to work, I never imagined there would be another bomb attack on the city. It was raining heavily in the morning and the trains were late. I watched men scurrying like rats to get inside a train. Then I knew what the "rat race" was all about. The blasts occurred in crowded areas, the more the better. We were packed as wet rats in a compartment, doing the usual lazy things before we reached our place of work. We did our work as many of those killed out have, then we left for home. Hearing that a bomb had gone off in "Khau Galli" I was surprised because I had left it only a few minutes ago. That added to my confusion.

However, son does phone and tells me of the blast when I am in V.T. He says to get home as soon as possible as more bombs may go off. So I rush to my train and catch the first one I can board comfortably. I think of the day of this attack when I had passed around a hour ago before it took place. In the train the talk is about the carelessness of the authorities. How nothing changes and it's greed that drives the city.

It's sad. I have been in the city for around 46 years and I am saddened to see that my city is becoming popular for its bomb blasts.

As usual actors were called to comment. Priyanka Chopra said, "A request please do not cause panic by tweeting and spreading rumours." Guess people depend on tweets to know the truth these days. I was wondering why my tweets stopped coming. Have you noticed? When you need your mobile phone it stops working. It's jammed to let not any messages pass at times when we need communication like the last straw we can hang on to.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pulitzer Award Winning Journalist Admits to Being an Undocumented Immigrant

In what should be of use to media watchers and scribes alike, a Pulitzer Award winning journalist has admitted that he is an undocumented immigrant (meaning illegal, I presume). This raises issues about journalists upholding high ethical standards for themselves which they so readily apply to others. Something to mull over for the journalist community.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Blogger and Some Retail Therapy

A visit to a mall is therapeutic. No wonder they call it retail therapy. The noise, the music (it seems as if they play the music to drive people into a frenzy of spending), the eating, the displaying of clothes, the soft lights, the dressed up mannequins (some of them so life-like), the well-fed round bodies putting the thinner ones to shame, the display of nonchalance as those gorgeous beauties with straightened hair and made-up faces sashay towards you. Oh, it's such a different world, as if paradise has been re-created in this country. Nobody even thinks there's a recession on. Everyone is happy laughing, smiling, joking, flirting, fooling around.

 

I go to Raghuleela Mall in Vashi to buy a pair of shoes as the old one is falling to pieces and no amount of repairing by the cobbler is making a difference. This time I would like to buy a Woodland as the tough brand seems to understand Indian roads and walking conditions. There's a discount. I buy something I fancy. Rs 1370 gone. Inside the store a woman stares at me. Have we met? I don't know if I am famous or something, or I am out of place, but she stares as if she has seen a ghost. I know I am a bit unusual-looking, however, I don't think I am so unusual as to be stared at. I would like to ask her if she knows me from somewhere, or, if she knows I am a writer, poet and blogger. But I am not so confident in public, I am diffident, so I don't.

 

I buy my shoes and then I see them. They are sitting facing a chair, three of them, waiting to massage customers. The chubby boys and girls don't look around, they seem to be meditating, looking steadily at the chair in front of them, concentrating, as if their lives were in peril if a customer didn't come to them. One thing about recession is that you can get people like them to work for you.

 

I buy corn at Rs 45, a lot of masala added to it. I buy a kurta. I like kurtas. I am wearing one. Is that why people are staring? I don't know. As I exit, a youth stares at me. His face is oddly familiar. I don't know if we have met. Is he my son's friend? He has a tiny beard on his chin as has my son. Again, I wonder if I am famous, or something. Should I start wearing dark glasses to escape attention? Not likely, because bloggers can't be famous. They don't make much money, you see.

 

Out on the street there are imitations of famous brands of shoes on sale selling for Rs 75 each. Corn on cob sells for Rs 10, lime and masala rubbed on it for taste. Inside burgers sell for Rs 50 and outside vada-pavs sell for Rs 8. There's no music except the plaintive cries of the vendors. The night is dark and it's raining.

 

Retail therapy! Nobody cares there's a recession on in the world. Even I don't. There's plenty of money to splurge. We all fall into the deep chasms of our own making.


I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Google Translate

Google translate is a good tool for translation, now that it has Hindi, Tamil and Telugu in it. Oh, when will Malayalam be in it?

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Mrs. Frank Sinatra (Blue Eyes) Writes Her Biography

Blue Eyes, that's Frank Sinatra, has a wife who is known as Lady Blue Eyes, who in turn is Barbara Sinatra. Now, Barbara has written what is termed here as a "nuanced" portrait of her husband whose blue eyes women found irresistible. Don't know if the account is as frank as it is made out to be.
 
The hard-drinking, womanising Frank knocked on her bedroom door (ergo: they slept separately) at 5 a.m. one night and when she asked "who is it?" replied "Your Italian lover." This and other anecdotes form a part of the book referred above.
 
I am not a great fan of Frank Sinatra nor of the yodelling kind of singers of yore including Slim Witman and others. I find them boring. But I like Elvis though. But they were the swingers of an era gone by and a look at their lives is worth mentioning. So this post.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Girl in the Garden - A Novel by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair is a novel set in America but for the most part talks of happenings in Kerala. It's about Rakhee Singh who tries desperately to save her parent's marriage. Her mother Amma is thirteen years junior to Abba and on a visit to Kerala she discovers that Amma has other love interests in God's Own Country as well. What a perfect setting for a love triangle.

Well, all I can say is it promises to be a good read and hope to get my hand on it some time. One thing it reinforces, however, is that Indian Writers in English (IWEs) find better acceptance in the West than in India. Maybe, it's that Indian writers are so involved in the descriptions of their native country because of the general feeling of displacement and yearning they feel. Of the one spell of being an NRI in my life (around a year in Saudi Arabia), I did feel an intense nostalgia about my country.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Slut Walk and Being Trendy

Reading Annie Zaidi on Slut Walk made me change my view on it. Some what. Do not know how much.

For the first time I went into the mind of a pretty/beautiful/modern woman and thought of the dilemma she faces each day: will they criticise/deride this, will men be provoked to extremes, what will other women think, etc., because a woman is very vulnerable in our society. She wants to be a part of the mainstream, but she can't work after 9.30 because of some stupid rule, cannot freely walk because the roads are full of prurient men with their overgrown libidos. She is straining at the leash of being independent, successful and is somewhat cheesed off (-:humbly beg pardon for the term:-) at having to justify even what she wears everyday when a man can wear a track suit pant or shorts to office and still be considered a trendy dresser. (I have seen men dressed even worse. How about a trouser ironed at the sides with a shoes so pointed he has to step around gingerly in the cramped office. He dashed his toes against my chair and when another guy came wearing pointed shoes I had difficulty navigating the very short space which was left after we accommodated the sticky and muddy pieces sticking out like a dirty cow's hoof. Hm. More on this unsavoury subject in another post.)

Clothes is a sign of a woman's emancipation. While I understand a woman's need to express herself through her clothes, there are women in India who are comfortable wearing traditional dress. With great difficulty I persuaded my wife to wear a salvaar-kameez. The reason is though she is from Kerala I want her to be a little more in tune with Bombay and the way women dress here. (All men want women to be trendy. Amitabh once mentioned he likes women to be trendy. Jaya is a very conservative dresser as is my wife.) The reason wifey gave me is that all her friends at school and in church wear saris so she would prefer to wear it than anything more trendy. A majority of Indian women are conservative dressers. So the subject under discussion is "what is trendy?" and what exceeds the limits of being trendy. How do we define this? How do we get across to men that women who want to be trendy should dress thusly and should be allowed to do so without cat calls and wolf whistles.

There are women who would like to dress trendily and those who do not. Wifey is of the latter category. It's her choice. Today I saw a girl covered entirely in a wrap leaving only a small aperture for the eyes. This is a trend I have noticed increasingly in Bombay. In a free country nobody has forced her to do so, but she prefers this to being teased on the streets and stations. There is no dilemma she has faced as Orhan Pamuk mentioned in his novel Snow. Yet she covers herself to make herself unrecognisable for some reason only known to her.

So assuming the way she dresses is a personal thing and nobody's business, a woman would discover what she is comfortable in after a few trials and stick to that kind of dressing. I have seen women who only wear suits, I have seen women who only wear trousers and tops, I have also seen women who only wear skirts. I am a great watcher of women's fashions and my life would be drab if all women wore saris and salwar-kameezes. I like to notice the trend, the variety, the ultimate self-expression that is women's fashion.

Fashion! Why didn't anybody mention that much-maligned word.

For a woman what she wears is what is trendy and accepted by her friends as in fashion. She thinks being left out of the fashion race would be amounting to accepting defeat. Being fashionable is akin to losing her identity and hard-won freedom to be be what she is. So what is fashionable and what is not. What is trendy and what is not.

So the Canadian policemen chum who mentioned "Women should stop dressing like sluts," or something to that effect needs a round of strong condemnation. "How would you like to be punched and kicked in the solar plexus with stilettos dear sir?" You have denuded Amazon forests with the sheer verbiage you have unleashed on the poor suffering world. How could you do this to us sir?

But what I wouldn't condone is women wearing revealing dresses in the workplace. It defeat the purpose of business if a woman wear something provocative in the office and the whole office in some sexual frenzy instead of working. I have noticed that some Indian women - don't crucify me for that, I said "some" - do not understand the concept of formal dressing for business occasions. So classes for formal dressing would be in order. Right? Who wants me as tutor?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Gibberish Written in a Somnolent State

Sleep spreads it's silken sheets into a tired brain. But then I lose it. It's been a tiring day and I am wide awake, unable to sleep. "It's been a hard day's night, I been working like a dog," sang the Beatles in one of the best songs I have ever heard. I still love that song. Where are the Beatles, where is Elvis, where is Jim Morrison, where is that guitarist guy who kept audience enthralled with his guitar riffs in Woodstock, where is Woodstock, by the way. Consigned to the pages of history as a revolution that never was, many conscripted, but not many made it to the end, the hippies became entrepreneurs, the nerds became failures, the rebels became conformists, they dreamed the impossible dream, dreams too lost in utopia to achieve. Then they fell by the wayside. Destroyed themselves so that whoever came didn't see their rotten flesh, their ashes.

Some died of fame, some died of lack of it. Some sang themselves into a paranoid world, their songs without end, their songs without rhyme. Everybody wanted to be immortal, but mortality over came their greedy innards, tore into their evil designs and defeated their purpose. You will recognise them from their haggard looks on the avenues and the boulevards, unshaven chins, droopy moustaches, shaggy manes. They are of a different generation, now balding ancient men now, without forgiveness for their own stupid blunders. Cursing the younger generation and remembering how they cursed the old when they were themselves young.

Wrote this gibberish when sleep wouldn't come. I sit up late and key this in, stream of consciousness style (remember stream of consciousness?), to see how it will go, how it will look like. Stream of consciousness is to the mind what sleep is to the tired body. Relaxing! I haven't read all this gibberish, at least, not yet. I will do that tomorrow and see and agonise over the mistakes, the bad syntax and grammar, the anarchy of prose and would wish there was some hidden meaning to this writing as to all life, living or spiritual. I think I will stop. Apologies. Goodbye. 

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Data Card Woes and Is It Rape Extortion?

Short take today. The laptop is behaving funnily. No. The Reliance
data card I mean. I get a good signal on the first floor and a bad one
on the ground floor. I didn't know a floor made all that difference. I
am not much satisfied by the service. And they are sanguine about
collecting their money. If you don't pay your bill they disconnect
pronto!

There are workers doing some pre-monsoon-turned-post-monsoon work on
the house. Fixing things. They talk in a Bengali dialect, which I
listen to intently. But on the little I know of Bengali I don't
recognise much except "aschi". Dang. Meanwhile, they bang, bore holes,
bang with a sledge hammer while I suffer in silence. What else can I
do? I found dampness in the top floor after the first rain. So the
idea is to cover it to give a permanent sort of cover from the forces
of nature.

I saw some gruesome videos of police atrocities on Indian TV. I don't
know how they captured a group of policemen beating up a robbery
suspect, so mercilessly. The man was crying. He was held face down in
the air by the policemen, while their colleagues beat him with a stick
and a whip. It's too gruesome to be on the net, how come it landed on
national television.

It's surprising how people are getting out of murder and rape charges
so easily. Look at the Maria Susiraj and Shiney Ahuja cases. I am sure
both will come out as celebrities and land reality shows after their
acquittal. Also see about Strauss-Kahn affair. Is it that people are
alleging rape to extort money or is it a figment of my imagination? Is
it a failure of the prosecution or is it shameless extortion. I don't
know. I am confused.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Strauss-Kahn Affair Could Be a Good Book

Nothing much is know of IMF chief Strauss-Kahn's accuser, a Chambermaid named Opelia, who works at New York's Manhattan Sofitel. Her brother Blake Diallo who turned out to be her boyfriend had this to say about their relationship in this article:
 
"Le Monde learned soon afterward that Diallo is Senegalese, not Guinean, and that he was her boyfriend, not her brother. Contacted about this, Diallo explained somewhat ingenuously that he had said sister "because in Africa people call each other brother and sister."

Strauss-Kahn walked free because prosecution couldn't establish their case.  The l'affaire Strauss-Kahn could well be the next bestseller. A mystery at that.

Is Bigadda Shutting Down?

I received the following email from Bigadda.com, which is self-explanatory. Does it mean they are shutting down their blogging space, a space dominated by Amitabh Bachchan their star blogger? They clearly mention: blogs, audio files, video files and images, so what's up?
 
We value and appreciate your long standing support for Bigadda.com. In the past few months we explored our potential as an ecommerce portal by providing branded products at profitable deals to you and have found immense success. We are reaching newer heights everyday and hence are planning an expansion in the same arena.

We request you to download all your personal collection of blogs, audio files, video files and images from Bigadda.com as we are scaling down our Social Networking services.

Please note that all your old personal data, uploaded on Bigadda.com, shall not be available after July 15 2011.

Log on to http://www.bigadda.com/frontpage/bigaddaHomepage/ now and download your personal files.

In case you have forgotten your password please click here to retrieve it.

Remains to be seen. As they say on television, "Break ke baad."

Thanks Dr. Mladen Behara for Spamming My Inbox

What do you assume when you receive an email from one MLADEN BEHARA drbehara@open.telekom.rs? .rs is the domain name for Serbia and Dr. Behara is informing that I have been Awarded 750,000.00 BP In the British Premier Oil Plc. The guy is a doctor from the prefix on his name, so do I believe him or not? All he wants to know is the following:

Name...
Resident...
Age...

Just this short email. Short and sweet. See how enigmatic they can be. Pound 750,000 is going waste, I should grab it as fast as I can provided I can give them a processing fee. No, Dr. Behara from Serbia, I don't trust you enough. Why should you be in Serbia when the money offered is from British Premier Oil England? Why should you spam my gmail inbox, the trusted email has the best spam filters? Anyway, contrary to what people think (yes, I have been accused of that), I am not that greedy for money. I am just a poor old writer, hacking a living on corporate tosh (thanks Sir Vidia for the term).

Thanks anyway for your offer. I will think about it. In any case, don't think your chances of fooling me are that good. I have been a victim of such spams before. So I know.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Why We Can't Help Being Corrupt

Today a total stranger in the train told me, "Even if we have a thousand Lok Pals, we will not succeed in rooting out corruption. It has become a part of us, it is an integral part of our thinking." The train is over-crowded and there isn't space for the feet to rest on the floor. I am standing on one leg. The city is overcrowded and growing in every possible direction. There's no space to be the least comfortable.

Standing thus I nod a weak assent.

Before justifying such preposterous thinking let me point to the following weird facts that presented itself in the past few days:

1.  A parents has to pay a donation of Rs 1,00,000 ($ 2,222) to get his child admitted in a school. The teachers in the same school are paid a salary of Rs 4000 ($ 100) a month (yes, you heard right, $ 100 a month). If they complain, they would be thrown out and labelled as incompetent. If they apply for another job and give a reference to this job, they would be passed off as lunatics and trouble makers. End of their career.

2.  By buying a flat (a one bedroom flat costs Rs 50 lakh these days), a man should consider his life as having ended. He will pay around Rs 50,000 every month as installment for the rest of his life. (There are people who subsist on Rs 3,000 a month.) If he becomes unemployed his burden increases. 

3.  An average person from a well-to-do family draws a salary of Rs 50,000 a month which hardly pays for his installments, the children's education and commuting. Then what will he eat? Unless both husband and wife work, the family is doomed.

4.  The aspiration level is high. There are neighbours with fancy cars, women wearing fancy clothes. How will a man get these? How will he keep his wife and children happy? 

5.  To marry off a girl requires a dowry of 10,00,000 (around $ 22,000) and Rs 5,00,000 more for the feast and celebration. Where will a man bring the money? That why people prefer to have boys, not girls.

We have become corrupted because of reason we cannot grasp. We moonlight as life insurance agents, multi-level marketers, part-time creative consultants, writers, artists, etc. to make that extra money to survive. Any wonder we grab for those extra rupees? Any wonder we become corrupt?