Monday, April 30, 2012

The Patrick French Pankaj Mishra Literary Spat: Who Won?

In this article the prolific Patrick French argues that foreigners like him have a right to comment about India. Al Baruni has done it, so has Ibn Batuta. Also, a seventh century Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang and, of course, our own Sir Vidya, Salman Rushdie and  Suketu Mehta. (It is apparent from the article that he is a foreigner married to an Indian and therefore a Person of Indian Origin (PIO).) He says there are the following categories of writers about India:

1. The language writers (to whom, apparently, according to him, lip service is provided)
2. Indians who write about India (the pits)
3. Expatriate Indians who write about India (slightly higher than the pits, the hill, maybe)
4. Foreigners who condescend from their ivory towers to dip feather in vitriol and write about India (the peak).

I would classify Patrick French among the fourth lot though I haven't read him, not yet. But I do follow him on Twitter where he is PatrickFrench2.

Pankaj Mishra in a scathing criticism of Patrick French's book India: a Portrait calls him a Curzon without an Empire and, sort of, implies that he hasn't the credentials to write about India in this article in Outlook. I don't know if that qualifies for a literary spat in the rarefied atmosphere of non-fiction writing but of one thing I am sure French sure has a point, since he is in the rarefied atmosphere of No. 4 (the peak) above and Mishra is in position 3 (slightly higher than the pits).

Drum roll! Now my own humble opinion which I flaunt here because this is my blog and this is my own territory. The best commentators on India have been foreigners: Huen Tsang, Fa Hien, probably the above mentioned Xuanzang (possible Huen Tsang I mentioned), and Ibn Batuta. And then comes writers such as Rushdie, Naipaul and Mehta. We, Indian Writers in English (IWE) who live and work in Indian have lost our sense of proportion and objectivity when writing about India. Is there a decent travel book written about India by an IWE? I know Samanth Subramaniam wrote Following Fish, which I am yet to read.

That's why I was prompted to write To God's Own Country, an account of my travels in my native state of Kerala, which when I peddled around to publishers met with a cold reception. "Books on India by Indians don't sell," is what I was told. I said, "This is incendiary stuff, this is a anthropological treatise, it's an eye-opener, etc. etc." It didn't cut any ice and the reception remained at sub-zero level. Gah!

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Blurb for My Novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard

See, I want to make my publisher's life easy. I am like that. I have written a small book blurb about what my novel "Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard is all about. It brought a bit of satisfaction, as if the project will propel itself to completion and publication. Feels good.

Freshly equipped with an M.B.A. from Harvard, Mr. Bandookwala (meaning man of guns) doesn't understand why his management theories consistently fail to work in his home country. He had the brilliance to conceive the social network Facespook, he worked in Google, yet, in the city of his birth – Bombai, the urbs prima Indiae he loves and hates by turns – he is rejected, ostracized, discriminated, frustrated and broken by powerful people, maybe, because he is the colour of monsoon clouds.

And, as if to add to Mr. Bandookwala's problems, though he has never held a gun in his life, guns are pointed at him wherever he goes: in the slums of Charavi by Bombai's underworld don, in the verdant Azad Maidan by a private detective, and in a five-star hotel by an extremist who has come to kill indiscriminately. He escapes from all these encounters by his wits and, providentially, from the extremist because he is a Parisi. In an apocalyptic moment he loses his job, gives up on his marriage, and fights to get his divorce annulled, in the process trying to take custody of his daughter Priyanka, whom he loves dearly.

Through his debut novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard, the author gives us glimpses of a modern Indian city, warts, profanities, and all, as it is, unapologetic about the city’s stinking slums, encroached streets, musty bordellos of Colaba Causeway, conceited rich who live on hills, and corrupt politicians.   

How's that? Let me know what you think. 

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Three Indian Novels Shortlisted in Commonwealth Prize

This article in Hindustan Times says "Five Indians on Commonwealth Prize" short list. But when I look closer, two out of the five are not Indians: Jamil Ahmad is Pakistani and Shehan Karunatilaka is Sri Lankan. Nevertheless, here are the contenders for the prestigious Commonwealth prize:

"The Wandering Falcon" by Jamil Ahmad 
"Rebirth: A Novel" by Jahnavi Barua
"The Sly Company of People Who Care" by Rahul Bhattacharya
"The Book of Answers" by C.Y. Gopinath 
"Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew" by Shehan Karunatilaka.

So good luck to the nominees, and may the best novel win.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto's Novel Launch in Bombay

Last night it was a book launch to cherish because the cream of literati forsook their little, little differences and came together to launch Jerry Pinto's novel Em and the Big Hoom, which has been 20 years in the writing. The chairs were all taken and there was only standing room. The murmur of the chatterati rose steadily until it became a roar at the back of the hall in CCI. I was relieved when David Davidar started the proceedings. I don't know what would have happened otherwise. I would have gone deaf probably. The excited chatter of voices, the laughter, the hugging, the kissing, all part of the rather intimate literary goings on of Bombay. It seemed everyone knew everyone. I recognized a few faces, considering I am not a ferocious social animal, in a manner of speaking.

David Davidar and Ravi Singh from Aleph, the publishers, were there. Kiran Nagarkar was there (No, I am not writing anything, I am too lazy!), Dilip D'souza was there (he liked a short blog post I wrote on an expose he did of the Kota IIT coaching classes, "let's keep in touch" he said), some friends from Caferati including bossman Peter Griffin were there. Peter Griffin who goes by the nickname "Zigzackly" is seeking nomination to be president and I have endorsed him and he has promised me a Padma Shree in return! Hm. I would like to see someone like him presiding over the Rajya Sabha with his ascerbic wit and sense of propriety. Once when I was carrying on a conversation with a friend when a Caferati event was on, he said, "John, will you take the conversation elsewhere?" Hm. Hm. Huh? I can't figure this guy, he is always such an enigma! I would like an enigmatic president than the blank-staring faces we have so far had had.
Be that as it may. I digress. Of course, Jerry is a known face in literary circles most people know him for his non-fiction writing and his poetry. However, to write a novel for 20 years is really something I guess. I was itching to ask him one question, which unfortunately got lost in the intellectual mêlée, which was whether he thought about ditching the project at any time. That's because I am at that stage myself. Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard, my novel, is undergoing birth pangs and I have thought often, why suffer the birth pains when you can stop the delivery itself. That means to forget about being a writer, which means to abandon one thing I held on to, that means to lose hope and regret it all my life. How would it feel to terminate a journey when one is within sight of the destination? Dream on!

But go at his writing steadily, as Jerry did, is what seems the only way out. Though progress is slow the child has to develop hands and feet and as a parent one can't just jettison a baby altogether. That would be throwing the baby with the bathwater (or, something such), as Parameshwaran Iyer, our English teacher would say. Erudite poet Parameshwaran Iyer where are you? We had some very good English teachers in my school Adarsha Vidyalaya who were Malayali Brahmins (MalBrahms, my own invention): Parameshwaran Iyer, Ganapati Iyer. There were more but only two names come to mind. You know you aren't going to make a big difference, you know you will have to depend on activism or some such bullshit to stay in the reckoning, you know your novel will sink without a trace, you know you may be derided and reviled for it. Still you persist, despite prognosis of doom from the doctor, whose sole aim is to scare you and collect money.

For the second time I digress. Sorry! Em and the Big Hoom is about a family in which the mother is mentally disturbed. From what I have read until now, the mother is the narrator, and the story unwinds slowly from her disturbed speech and the journal she has maintained. I like it and it carries Jerry's signature tone, his poetic takes are nothing short of brilliant. The design and cover are laudable and congrats Aleph for the production values, though the price of Rs 450 pinched a bit. But on the whole I have a feeling I am going to love the book.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Whispering Death" Michael Holding's Bowling

Those who have seen Michael Holding bowl will surely acknowledge that he is the greatest fast bowler of all time. So when I came across this article in The Economist and saw the action of "whispering death (as he was called)" I could remember the days of the West Indies tour of India in the seventies, when television also made its appearance in India. Not forgetting to mention the fact that I travelled around a kilometre from home to watch it kneeling, skinning my tender knees in the process. The torture was worth it!

When I saw Michael Holding bowling to the Indian side comprising short people like Gavaskar and Vishwanath I was filled with dread. Will they be injured? Will they be decapitated? Would they survive the ignominy of having their stumps flung away like leaves in a storm? So smooth was Michael Holding's action that it is said umpires couldn't hear him approach, he would whistle past like a breath of air and release the ball at a speed of 90 miles per hour. The batsman would founder, fumble, curse, or worse, get out.

The Economist article says about the match at Kengington Oval in Barabados where Geoffrey Boycott faced Michael Holding as the "greatest over ever bowled," because Boycott (England's best batsman ever!) couldn't play a single ball in the four deliveries and in the fifth his stumps were a rotten mess.

Just wondering where "whispering death" disappeared. I have not seen him since: in interviews, as commentator, whatever that cricketers do after they retire. May be "whispering death" is honing skills of other "whisperers of death" in the sunny Caribbean.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zimbabwe Faces a Change Management Problem

For those who are familiar with behavioral theory, Change Management is something dealt with in the hallowed precinct of glass facades and chrome meeting rooms. It deals with how an organisation can change from traditional dhoti-kurta type accounting to modern accounting. (At least, that's my guess:)

Not so in Zimbabwe because since the African country switched to the US Dollar as its currency (yes, the article claims 5 countries around the world use US Dollar as their currency) it has been facing a number of Change Management problems, yes, of the loose change kind. Reason? US loose change is very heavy and therefore the country finds it expensive to import.

So what's the solution? Since a western neighbour has a reputation of printing fake currency bills, maybe, Zimbabwe can outsource the Change Management problem to them. No malice intended to anyone. Just saying.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jeet's Album STD Launching in Bombay and Delhi. His Novel Launched. Does Jeet Ever Sleep?

What's better than launching a book and one's own music album? Yeah, that's what's happening to Jeet Thayil. His novel Narcopolis has just been launched to rave reviews. (Here's Palash Krishna Mehrotra's review of Narcopolis in The Sunday Guardian.)  I would consider launching of a book, a hectic enough activity. However not so for Jeet. And to top it, obviously, the hyper-kinetic and perambulatory Jeet and his musical partner Suman Sridhar are launching their debut album STD in Delhi and Bombay.

Man, what a schedule. This day and age is all about energy and movement. I know. It's about being clued in all the time and in all the places. No jet lag, is it? You have to show your face in too many events, too many occasions and perform as expected, always. Does Jeet (Jeet meaning victory) every sleep these days? A book tour and an album tour can be exhausting, isn't it?

I am trying my best to be there at Blue Frog when STD launches on Thursday (26/4/2012). Come, bring your friends. I have seen him perform at Kala Ghoda and attended a workshop he conducted on turning poetry into music. I assure you it won't be a disappointed.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

They Are Giving Away 1 Million Books. The 100 Best Books of All TIME

Today the Bard died and today has been christened World Book Day. In a vaguely related but unrelated event today has also been named World Book Night and they are giving away 1 million books in England tonight. The supporters of this event include Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers and J.K. Rowling. 20,000 volunteers would give away 25 chosen titles to 1 million people at random, on streets, pubs, gardens, wherever. Coincidentally, one wonders if the books given belong to the supporters of the program. Smirk!

Meanwhile following are the 100 books of all TIME. The compilation is by TIME magazine and these are what they think are the best books to be published in the span of their existence. Only two Indian origin writers feature: Salman Rushdie and V.S.Naipaul (that is if he can be called an Indian origin). Sadly, I have only read 19 of them, or, 20 per cent to be exact. A lot more reading to do in the coming days. Libraries, here I come.

100 Best Books of All Time (I have only given names of authors of books I know about. For the full list with author names, go here.)

  1  The Adventures of Augie March Saul Bellow
2  All the King's Men
3  American Pastoral
4  An American Tragedy
5   Animal Farm George Orwell
6         Appointment in Samarra
7 Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
8 The Assistant
9 At Swim-Two-Birds
10 Atonement
11 Beloved Toni Morrison
12 The Berlin Stories
13 The Big Sleep
14 The Blind Assassin
15 Blood Meridian
16 Brideshead Revisited
17 The Bridge of San Luis Rey
18 Call It Sleep
19 Catch-22
20 The Catcher in the Rye J.D.Salinger
21 A Clockwork Orange
22 The Confessions of Nat Turner
23 The Corrections
24 The Crying of Lot 49
25 A Dance to the Music of Time
26 The Day of the Locust
27 Death Comes for the Archbishop
28 A Death in the Family
29 The Death of the Heart
30 Deliverance
31 Dog Soldiers
32 Falconer
33 The French Lieutenant's Woman
34 The Golden Notebook
35 Go Tell it on the Mountain
36 Gone With the Wind Margaret Michelle
37 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
38 Gravity's Rainbow
39 The Great Gatsby Scott Fitzgerald
40 A Handful of Dust
41 The Heart is A Lonely Hunter
42 The Heart of the Matter
43 Herzog Saul Bellow
44 Housekeeping
45 A House for Mr. Biswas V.S.Naipaul
46 I, Claudius
47 Infinite Jest
48 Invisible Man
49 Light in August
50 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
51 Lolita Vladimir Nabakov
52 Lord of the Flies
53 The Lord of the Rings William Golding
54 The Moviegoer
55 Loving
56 Lucky Jim
57 The Man Who Loved Children
58 Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie
59 Money
60 Mrs. Dalloway
61 Naked Lunch
62 Native Son
63 Neuromancer
64 Never Let Me Go
65 1984 George Orwell
66 On the Road Jack Kerouac
67 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
68 The Painted Bird
69 Pale Fire
70 A Passage to India E.M.Forster
71 Play It As It Lays
72 Portnoy's Complaint
73 Possession
74 The Power and the Glory
75 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
76 Rabbit, Run John Updike
77 Ragtime
78 The Recognitions
79 Red Harvest
80 Revolutionary Road
81 The Sheltering Sky
82 Slaughterhouse Five
83 Snow Crash
84 The Sot-Weed Factor
85 The Sound and the Fury
86 The Sportswriter
87 The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
88 The Sun Also Rises Ernst Hemmingway
89 Their Eyes Were Watching God
90 Things Fall Apart
91 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
92 To the Lighthouse
93 Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller
94 Ubik
95 Under the Net
96 Under the Volcano
97 Watchmen
98 White Noise
99 White Teeth
100 Wide Sargasso Sea

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pulitzer Fiction Award Not to Be Given This Year?

The Pulitzer board has decided not to award the Pulitzer fiction award this year.

The action comes days after the Department of Justice announced that it is suing five big US publishers and Apple for conspiring to increase prices of e-books. It alleges that Amazon which has a monopoly in the e-books market is hogging the space with cheaply e-books priced at around $ 9. The five big publishers wanted to break this monopoly.

The big five publishers along with Apple conspired to increase prices to around $ 14 which would come as a windfall profit for the embattled publishing industry. E-books sell in millions and obviously the profit margins would be huge.

Obviously, the writers whose books were shortlisted are crestfallen. They can't understand why this award should elude them after they have worked so hard over their novels.

Hm. Love's labour lost?

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where's the Beef?

Regarding the story of the Beef Festival in Osmania University which turned into a fiasco with clashes between students what I would like to ask is this: Where's the Beef?

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

The Arab Presence on the Titanic, an Ignored Fact?

This article in The National claims that there were more Arabs on the Titanic than originally thought, even picturised by James Cameroon. The article quotes an Arab named Hanania who had a "Yalla, yalla" moment when he heard the words spoken in the movie Titanic. "Yalla, yalla" in Arabic means "let's go, let's go." Hanania blames the supposedly selective amnesia of Cameroon because the ship's owner Starship never bothered to let the exact number of Arabs be known, afraid that they would have to shell out dough to their families. So, the plot gets thicker, doesn't it? 

Excerpt from the article:

That same year, Judith Geller, the author of the book Titanic: Women and Children First, wrote that "officially there were 154 Syrians on board the Titanic, and 29 were saved: four men, five children and 20 women".
Put another way, that would mean that 125 died. If so, then Arab victims accounted for no less than 23 per cent of the 527 third-class passengers who died - a shocking proportion to have vanished from the story.

Hanania states that this shocking ignorance of the Arab presence on the Titanic is a sign of American callousness towards Arabs. I have another theory:

The America of today is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society composing of every nationality and race known to man. We, in India, have long felt that we have been ignored and discriminated against by the Americans. Actually, the most powerful nation in the world has no time to even care if you are Arabic or Indian. They go by their own concept of a free, unfettered, democratic life (albeit one that doesn't tolerate lawlessness) and could care less if you think you are being ignored. It goes with the awareness that they are an affluent society. Also the Germans, English, French and the Danish who have come to America don't clamour to be recognised as their ethnic community at all. They want to be recognised as Americans.

So why are the Indians and Arabs (who are American citizens) clamouring for recognition and weeping crocodile tears over being ignored. I don't know. In America do as the Americans do.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday, Day of Absolute Calm and Renunciation

Sunday is a day of rest for me. I toil all six days, so Sundays come as a welcome break: to laze in bed, read, practise the guitar. (I am into chord progression and it gets very frustrating when I can't get the chords right. However, my teacher is kind and understanding.) It's the time I keep aside for myself. Or, my worry would be that I not had any time for myself. How long can you live for others, including immediate family.

It is said in the Bible that on six days God created earth and sea and all that we see and on the seventh day he rested. Rest the most essential thing in all our lives. Remember even God rested. The Jews honour Sabath and do nothing on that day. No wonder they rule the world. However, I don't know why people run around like headless chicken on this day of rest. I have seen people doing hundred avoidable things on Sundays. Come on people, take your rest, relax, shore up for the coming week. You need to take it easy. Nothing will happen if you take a snooze in the afternoon.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Getting Stuck with a Novel – Just Me Complaining!

It's as if nothing is done, nothing accomplished. You start a novel and get stuck in the middle with indifferent health and…. And what? The novel stops being a part of your life because you feel you have given it too much attention and not attended to your body, your health. By now you feel the novel is part of you and you can't ditch it. But you look at the mirror: you have a stoop, your tummy bulges out, you get warnings and groanings from different parts of your body. Warnings you can't ignore. You wonder if the only time you get to write the novel – the lonely hour after you come home from work and have dinner – should be wasted this way and not talking to your wife and son. Can you afford to waste your life like that? Is it worth it?

What's the point of writing if creative expression is such a herculean task? Yes, it is. Writing good literature is very, very hard work. I mean to write like the masters you read and not the guylit or chicklit that goes as popular literature. You know a certain CB and his ilk. Personally I don't have anything against these writers or their writing if it is confined to its on genre. But to say it is great literature is way beyond my comprehension of what great literature should be.

The problem with bankers, managers, engineers and scientists who write stories is that they write as follows:

Example (1): a + b = c

They or, their brains have been trained to think rationally and scientifically. They can describe facile action on a very transactional level and not go deep. They can't get to the emotional level of the characters. For example they can't write as follows:

Example (2): Charming, witty, and by nature presentable "a" when he met the pretty though high-strung "b" at the software conference in Mumbai, they decided to get married because they thought they could make a life together. The product of their conjugal life was "c" a bright and inquisitive child.

You see the difference between 1 and 2? How the second example contrasts with the first?

Just now I surfed to a site that has novels like "Forever Love," and "Only Love" by seventeen year old kids. It's kind of a game for them, I mean, writing these novels. It's an extension of the pranks they do. It's not serious literature, but the publisher claims he is publishing quality literature. What quality? So what does it say about Indian Writing in English (IWE)?

These days writing is a very simple task. Technology has made it so. You can key in your story in a computer and edit it. The procedure is simple. You aren't expected to write on foolscap lined paper and maintain old versions of corrected copy. This simplicity has added to the list of people with spare time who want to be writers. Of course, they should write. But have they read the masters? If they don't understand them, have they made an attempt? Have they gone through millions of words before they attempted to write?

I don't know. I let it stand at that. But, sure, I am going ahead with the novel, come what may.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Joseph Anton" Is the Name of Rushdie's Memoir

"Joseph Anton" is the name of Salman Rushdie's memmoir which will be out soon. The name is a concatenation of the first names of "Joseph Conrad" and "Anton Chekhov," two writers Rushdie admires. (See this article on Rushdie's gob-smack website.)

The memoir is about how Rushdie lives through the threat of death issued for him by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. Obviously going by Rushdie's style the prose will be dense with imagery and ridden with angst. We must admit he is a writer we fancy reading.

So, waiting anxiously....

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Seven Things Not to Do in an Interview

Here are seven things you shouldn't do in job interviews, written by Donna Fuscaldo, of Glassdoor. We found it useful, and we are sure you would too, if you are the corporate type. Ironed shirt, trousers, ties, big mobile-carrying backpacks, snazzy phones and tablets, and all. Know what I mean? 

Good luck!

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Bells in Cuba Toll to Herald Easter

Bells in Cuba's churches rang for Easter following Pope Benedict's visit to the country, says this article. Good to see communist Cuba keep the faith.

Meanwhile here's an article on Christianity in Cuba

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Aelph Announces Its First List

Aelph (hope I spelt it right!), the publishing company set up by David Davidar and Ravi Singh has announced it's first list of authors. Among them are:

Jerry Pinto's "Em and The Big Hoom"
Nilanjana Roy's "The Wildings"

Some books to look forward to. Interesting reading ahead!

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

"We Got to Make the Morning Last"

Sure you have heard Simon and Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song: "Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last." Or, at least, weak-in-the-bones crusty old-timers such as we have. It used to be a favourite during college days. We hum it these days, at times, not knowing whether the message has gone down.

That's why this article in Harvard Business Review's blog by Tony Schwartz caught our attention.Here's the drift. We (old timers) lived in a slow paced age when the only television was in a house 100 metres away. The owner kindly let us watch Chhayageet (a compilation of songs) and Sunday movie on it, though his house would get crowded and uncomfortable. There were no MTV or reality shows. Then we would discuss the songs, the technology that brought images to a screen, the way the hero and heroine dressed and the running around trees. Then we would go home and study for exams and, maybe, read a novel on the sly (keeping it between a notbook so nobody knew). We used to read books! The next day we would go to college and, maybe, play football or cricket and the routine would continue. Yes, we used to actually play football and cricket, not just watch it on the telly.

Nowadays, we struggle with so many social thingies and watch television that it's scary the way the young is losing the opportunity to introspect, analyse, find depth, understand nuances. As the author says:

"Speed is the enemy of depth, nuance, subtlety, attention to detail, reflection, learning, and rich relationships — the enemy of much, in short, that makes life worth living."

And here's how he ends the article:

Above all, slowly build more strolling, dawdling, moseying, meandering, musing, lingering, relishing, and savoring into your life.

Simon and Garfunkel were right. We got to make the morning last. 

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

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How to Shine in a Seminar/Conference/Conclave (Well, Whatever)!

We all have been to that conference/seminar/gettogether (whatever they call them) and felt awkward, shy, and gawky. There are other seminars/conferences (well, you get the gist) where you have been stars of the show. There have been occasions when you know most of the people in the room and yet you hesitate to go and speak to someone. Shyness. Reticence. Self-effacement. Call it what you will. There are events where you distinctly felt that ache in the tummy that made you sick for the rest of the evening. 

Yes, and more...

What is it that makes you click? Or, what makes you sick? Peter Bregman seems to have the answer, or, so he thinks, writing for the Harvard Business Review Blog. So, um, next time

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

Monday, April 02, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi's Party Wins Myanmar Elections

CNN reports that Aung San Suu Kyi's party The National League for Democracy has won at least 43 out of the 44 parliamentary seats that it contested in the southeast Asian country's parliamentary by-elections. This is a great win for this gutsy lady who had the gumption to defy prison, house arrest, and harassment by the military rulers of Myanmar. 

A consistent theme of Asian countries is how women have been in the front of democratic movements. There are those ladies who shared the Nobel Prize for Peace and at home there are Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Irom Sharmila and the like. Kudos ladies for taking over when the men in your nations have been doing their best to succumb to authority. The Indian phrase is "choodiyan pehen ke ghar bait jao," meaning "wear bangles and sit at home."

This blog congratulates the lady and wish her all the very best.

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