Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Bend in the Road, Taking Stock

There are a lot of small things that disturb a writer's mind and concentration, now that I have decided to retire from active working life. God has provided enough and I hope will keep providing in future too. Corporate life wasn't too good for me. I regret why I didn't do an MBA instead of Industrial Engineering which I preferred. These days having an MBA is a passport to promotions and a better life. It seems all they want is an MBA from whichever institute, no matter. I lost out in the corporate stakes because of this particular reason. I feel jealous of people drawing a salary of Rs hundred thousand or more. Ironically, these same people complain that they are broke by the end of the month. But now that it is past I can look towards doing more meaningful things, e.g., writing. No, I don't mean the "hack" kind of writing that most publications feature. I mean literature in all its beauty and resplendence, I want to capture nature and its myriad moods, and write about men women and their mean ways. 

This has relevance to the novel I am writing because in it I satirise an MBA. Bandookwala is a person who is highly qualified, however his qualification doesn't allow his talents to be properly utilised in the organisation in which he is thrown. He feels besieged by those around him, trapped. Though this would have forced a man to quit, he fights valiantly, believing in himself and his principles. 

The book draws inspiration from my corporate life of working in realty companies, doing their marketing writings. There is a sad lack of understanding of an employees needs for security and a steady life. He can be called to meeting in minutes, asked to go anywhere, and is generally treated as a servant. I don't know when Indian companies will learn (if at all) to treat an employee with respect. 

All this occurred to me when I see those executive types walking to board a bus/train to work in the morning slinging their back packs. I feel sad and sorry for them. But they want to make a career, and its their life, so I won't say much. Bye for now.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why Not a Thiruvananthapuram Malayalam Literary Festival? It's about Time.

Ah, while on the subject of literary festivals, fellow Twitterer Ratna Jajaiah who has a devastatingly funny point of view on everything came with the quip "Why not a Jumritalaiya Literary Festival?" 

Yes, I asked why not?

In Bombay there are the following:

Tata Literary Festival
Times Literary Festival

Jaipur has, of course, Jaipur Literary Festival

Delhi has a Delhi Poetry Festival

and Hyderabad has Hyderabad Literary Festival

And, yes, there's a Kovalam Literary Festival too. (Don't ask me where Kovalam is? Because I am going to tell you it's in God's Own Country. If you ask me where it is, I am going to lose my temper, ketto chetta (hear big brother?)

With all these literary festivals I wonder if enough books are being published and read in India. And what about language writing? One needs to go to Kerala to learn about the hyperactivity of the publishing business there. There is a deluge of good books (with good writing) being published there. Ergo, nobody is interested in a Thiruvananthapuram Malayalam Literary Festival? What? My great, great, great uncle George Mathan would approve. Yes, he would. For hadn't he written Malayalam's first book of grammar and some of the finest essays in the language?

Anyone in God's Own Country listening? Oommen Chandy are you listening?

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Salam Namaste! Australians, You Are Actually Indian!

This article in The Daily Mail is all about the ancestry of the people we call aboriginals of Australia.

Yes, they are of Indian descent and migrated there 141 generations ago through the Malaysian peninsula and directly by boat. This happened 4,000 years ago. 

Salam Namaste, Australians, you are actually Indian.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Death of the Reporter. Is This the End?

In this article in The Hindu Sandeep Bhushan states that the reporter is a diminishing tribe, overlooked, except when reporting on calamities and acts of God. 

Yes. We have seen this happening often in television journalism. When a gang rape occurs they invite celebrities, film stars who give inane views about the incident without being able to analyse it in depth as a journalist can. 

For example in the "Nirbhaya" case the whole discussion centred around chemical castration and death penalty for rape without touching upon the issue of atrocities against women and gender equality and women empowerment. So we are back to our own narrow view of the incident having lost the opportunity for a wider exchange of views on the abovementioned subjects.

It's pathetic to hear a Bollywood star say, "I am in favour of chemical castration" when she doesn't know what it means and there's nobody to demonstrate what the term means and who is authorised to administer it if it is decided as the punishment for rape. I am sure she wouldn't know what castration means in the first place. ("Is it something to do with Castro?" Yes, a starlet can get as stupid as that, occasionally. He he.) The next questions to be asked "Will the man lose his virility?" "Will he lose his urge to rape?" aren't asked nor answered. So, say what's convenient and be satisfied that you have been seen on the television screen. Hooray! Big achievement!

In my days of journalism the reporter was admired, revered and cultivated. Even business barons had respect for the beat journalist. Nowadays journalists are the age of interns and there's no internship to speak about. Time was when I would try and try to be selected for the Times' journalist training program and fail. 

Well, those were the days!

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Trying This New Function from Google

Just trying this out for my friends +Abhishek Tiwari+Vasudev Murthy+James Joyce+Shankari Murali+Suniti Joshi+Raamesh Gowri Raghavan : just trying out this new factum factoid on Blogger. What I do is type a "+" and your name and blogger suggests names, I scroll down, select your name and click "Enter" and hey presto your name is highlighted. I guess the links show in Google +, in which case please let me know how it appears there. This is just to try this out from your friend: +John Mathew.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two Indias beneath the Rising and Shining Superpower

For the RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat to say that rapes don't happen in Bharat but in India would have been, I think, putting things too mildly. (Sorry for harping on this issue for too long but some basics need to be understood.)

I have suspected for long that there are two Indias beneath the surface. On the surface we are a rising, shining, superpower. And beneath it is the spectre of casteism, poverty and divisiveness. It is a division that exists in the mind, of course. Though we claim to be one we take the first opportunity available to express our displeasure for a certain community. We all do that with utmost ease. We even deride our own communities to express solidarity with our friends. 

Why this schizophrenia, why this utter lack of confidence in ourselves as a nation, a people, a country? I have wondered about this for long and arrived at a few generalisations.

Though a syncretic people, we are xenophobic, we don't acknowledge anything beyond our immediate family, which is what our people have encouraged us to do. When we are in a group, any other group seems alien, forbidding and fearsome. Why hasn't the government encouraged this syncretism by helping cross-cultural marriages with free accommodation and jobs?

We have a fear of cultural pollution which is why in a foreign city we establish our own Malayali Samajam and Bengal Culture Club. The concept of secular hasn't taken root into our minds the way it has in the U.S.A. There the Irish, Italian, German, British, and Africans, all have integrated many years ago into what they call communities based on the place they live. Here we live in alien communities to make an exodus every summer to our community in our native place, usually a village in the back of beyond.

So the question of why these two Indias (or many Indias) exist may be partially explained. As friend and futureologist pointed out India may divide within itself till the urban areas become something like city states. That's because migration to cities are taking place at an alarming rate and it might seem inevitable that cities may explode and take steps to preserve themselves in future. Outside these city states would be vast swathes of land owned by corporate companies, townships and gated communities. If you are not part of these pockets of affluence, tough luck, you will have to live with poverty, atrocity, rape, and mayhem. 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What Was Pakistan's Intention Behind Kargil War?

What was the purpose behind the Kargil invasion by Pakistan? Though the Indian media had much tom-tomed the achievement behind the Kargil war, they hadn't delineated the purpose of the war. Why was there an incursion? What was the purpose of the Pakistani commandos who moved into Indian territory?

It emerges from Lt. General Shahid Aziz's (he worked for the Inter-service Intelligence [ISI] then) blog that the Kargil war had a sinister plot behind it which would have resulted in India losing a huge chunk of Kashmir and Siachen. As the General writes on his blog:

"Our clearly expressed intent was to cut the supply line to Siachen and force the Indians to pull out. This was not a small result we sought and cannot be classified as a tactical manoeuvre, where no one other than the local commander needed to be aware. General Musharraf himself writes, "800 sq kms of area was captured.... and it created strategic effects"."

Ergo, that was the purpose: to cut off supply lines to Siachen so that India would lose this vital link to this area, an integral part of its territory. Capturing Indian outposts in Siachen would have been child's play once the supply lines were cut. Pakistan would then have gifted this territory to China, it's friend. The General also states that General Musharraf clearly knew the intention of this military adventure and supported it, nay, even engendered it. I don't think he would have thought of the international ramifications and of India's stinging response. 

Result: countless innocent lives were sacrificed on  both sides of the border. All for nothing, it might seem.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Woman Can Feel Romantic Love, Sexual Love and Attachment to Multiple Partners At Once! Good Read!

I watched this video by anthropologist Helen Fisher "Helen Fisher: Why we love, why we cheat" with a lot of interest. 

She says what we feel as romantic love consist of romantic love, sexual love and attachment. And, amazingly (men won't believe this!) women are capable of feeling romantic love towards a person, sexual love towards another and attachment to another. Which mean at the same time a woman can feel all these towards one person or to many other persons. Of course, being the good actors they are, they can mask these emotions and hide it from their possessive men.


Problem with men is that they want women (their women) to feel all these to them all their life. This is true love. However, this is only the stuff of literature and poetry. I admit, it may have existed between Shah Jehan and Mumtaz, Heer and Ranjha, and Soni and Mahiwal. This sort of love that focuses closely on one person and none other, liking all he/she likes, hating all he/she hates is ideal but rare. It may exist for some time and then fade away giving rise to fights and possessive arguments.

Watch and make your own deductions. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Fwd: Urvashi Butalia on Publishing - Forbes Interview

I have been reading this interview of Urvashi Butalia by Peter Griffin for Forbes India.

That Butalia and Zubaan stuck to its knitting through the ups and downs of the publishing industry is remarkable indeed. I was one of the casualties of small publishers folding up when the publisher of a scientific journal where I worked (Chemical Age) stopped its operations. The reason was that big publishers were strangling the small ones and we didn't get the requisite number of ads or subscriptions to be profitable. We struggled hard but couldn't make ends meet.

Among the significant things she mentions in the interview are: Digital Rights Management (DRM) will be a big thing in future, but how to manage it will be a challenge. As she says, anyone can hack into a DRM and have the book for free. If DRM becomes big in India - with required safeguards, of course - it would be a good thing for authors and Aleph is already releasing digital versions (e-books) of its titles with the paper ones.

Also, like the music industry, she would like to have smaller stories put up online for sale at Rs 5 and Rs 10. Yippee! That means my short stories will have a market. Want try it out with a collection of my stories? Joking!

She is of the opinion that literary festivals are a good way of bringing authors and readers together. In addition, she would like to see more language books displayed in such festivals. I agree.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Back from Trip to Kerala - Some Good, Some Bad

I am back. A happy new year to all my readers, fans, word-worshippers, blogaholics, etc.

This trip to Kerala was an eclectic mix of travel and discovery. I met my long-lost cousins in a family meeting, attended a wedding where the live band belted out "Heal the world" (which had me fighting back tears), visited Fort Kochi where Vasco da Gama, a revered figure in my annals, died during his third visit to Kerala. He was a disillusioned man, broken in spirit and faith. 

Most of all, the main reason for the visit was the housewarming of my wife's house in Chenneerkara, Kerala. It went off well, and there was lots and lots to eat. Left me a bit tired though.

I had a fight with a rickshaw driver who promised to take us to our destination for Rs 60 and then revised it to Rs 70. I got down and was taking pictures of his registration number when a kind soul said go and complain to the sub-inspector, who was lolling nearby. So went there and complained and the driver got a black mark in his book and had to drive us to our destination. And, whence, he wanted to offload us half way because the traffic was thick. Traffic jam? I told him this is nothing. In Bombay we wait for hours for traffic to clear and we even carry pails to pee in just in case our bladders didn't hold out.


Then there were the trains. On the journey to Kerala I spotted a rat in the compartment. On the way back there were plenty of small roaches that crawled around. Some of them inside my pants. Yech. Do they ever do some pest controlling? And there was no water. Imagine walking into the toilet at night and finding there's no water. This was the Garib Rath, after all, and the children made sure their "'Garib" status was well publicised with displays of the rudest of behaviours. 

I am back. Yes, I am. Meanwhile here are some pictures I clicked.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.