Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Smiley Brackets and Grumpy Brackets

Peter Griffinis the inventor of the smiley bracket.

(-:A smiley brackets something you can say with a smile:-)

What about a grumpy bracket? :-(

I take pride to announce my invention the grumpy bracket.

:-(A grumpy bracket is something you are gritting your teeth while you are keying in)-:

Anyone can use my grumpy bracket for free. Only give me some credit, won't you?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Something I posted on Caferati
Do we need to be better than the originals?

A well reasoned article that is long overdue. Max you expounded on the theme well enough. We Indians want to be one better than the originals. Marxism maybe dead in the world but we can still find the last vestiges of hardcore Marxism in Bengal and Kerala. No, these are not just some old and faltering diehards but hatta katta people who elect Marxist governments.

Nirad C Chaudhari wrote and lived like a pucca Englishman in England. But he was sneered upon by the Britons. Our own Rushdie with his Indianisms like "killofy" found a lot of supporters among Britons. That he wrote,"to be born again, first you have to die. 'ho ji! ho ji! to land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. tat-taa! taka-thun!" (I don't know the exact origin of these words, so please explain) and was accepted is proof that Britons love it when we are ourselves and do not speak in a hoity-toity stiff upperlip fashion when we speak or write to them.

I write in English though my mother tongue is Malayalam and I speak Hindi with my friends. I studied in an English medium school which had Malayalam and Marathi as optional languages. So I read and write English, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi.

But I am drawn to the English language as a magnet because of the immense literature available in it. I am reasonably well read in English but not in Malayalam, Hindi or Marathi. English no longer belongs to England, it is a universal language. We may say, "Come here na," the Chinese may say, "Come here, la," and many international speakers may pepper their English with their own ethnicisms.

I was bewildered when I heard Afrikaans (the mixture of English and, I think, Dutch) spoken in South Africa. I could understand a few words but most was greek to me. But, given the chance to speak to a Africaans-speaking PYT I can make myself understood;-)

Max, in the article on "Good Writing" I had reasoned that we being Indian Writers in English should evolve a language that can evolve and enrich the English language as we know it now. That's what I thought would happen after the huge success of Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. But sadly it is not happening. We seem to be regressing back to old days when we were content with being mere clerks of the British Empire.

Note: I am using an invention patented by our own Peter Griffin here. (-:We are still doing that with our call centers and business process outsourcing companies which train our youth to be just that — clerks. Why even one company is named "e-clerk.":-) (-: Peter I hope you won't sue me for infringing your patent. Go to his page to see what a "smiley bracket" means:-)

In this context also read a posting on my blog.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


This William Dalrymple's historical book "White Mughals."
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This is William Dalrymple author of "The White Mughals."
visit my website: http://www.johnwriter.com

Monday, August 22, 2005

From this article in the Scotsman it is obvious that our own Englishman in residence William Dalrymple (link to whose site is given alongside) has Indian blood in him!

Having worked in the Persian Gulf in a British multinational I know for a fact that Britons have an attraction for Asian women. Most of the white men there were married to Indian, Philipino, or, Bangladeshi women.

Wonder if the British Raj was actually more democratic than we imagine as far genetic and racial exclusivity was concerned. In that case many of our distant cousins are stiff-upperlip residents of the Blighty.

Talk of racial intergration :-)
After the deluge

This flood is not unique to Bombay. Every year there is one or two days on which there is flooding and disruption of services. But the authorities never learn.

The city planners were talking about converting Bombay into another Shanghai. The problem is people who have been to Shanghai tell me that Shanghai has worse problems. So why Shanghai?

Pictures of the deplorable conditions in Bombay have been flashed throughout the world and people are laughing at us. Most of all the Chinese.

"Shanghai you said? Hahahahha" I can hear their laughter.

We should have modeled on Tokyo instead. Tokyo has similar problems according to a Discovery documentary I saw. They have constructed viaducts and storage areas deep inside the city that drains away water when there is a deluge or high tide.

The whole city of Tokyo is built over these viaducts and water drains into them at the first occurrence of a flood. Why do those jokers want to model on a city that itself has problems? I don't know the answer.

Thanks for your feedback. In times of a crisis like this it is the common people who suffer not the politicians or bureaucrats.

Some more feedback at this link on Caferati for those who are interested.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The deluge and after....

The deluge is behind me, us rather. Some time ago, the tsunami struck the eastern coast of India. We, in Bombay even made jokes. Said, the tsunami can never strike Bombay, because it is a protected harbor.

That was a tsunami from above. Yes, the water fell like a wall from above. The memory remains. The mind is filled with horror at the slightest rain, the body shudders at the touch of water, the mind numbs when the skies look dark.

It was horrendous. People trapped in their cars and dying a cruel death from suffocation. Many thought they were safe in the upper storey of a double-decker bus. No, they died too. Many waded through neck-deep water for miles. A woman collapsed immediately as she reached home after walking the whole night and died. The epidemic claimed a thousand more lives. So many sorrowful stories.

The photo I published below really happened. Only a friend morphed the face on the actual face. A man carrying his child on his shoulder. They could fall into a drain and die, the water is rising. The people in the background have horror in their eyes. That speaks the condition they were in.

Now there are intermittent showers. The roads are still covered by a black slush, and cratered with a thousand pits, wide enough for a car to sink in. Many cars have been damaged.

What does all this teach us? The backlash of man's rapacity against nature is manifesting itself at last. First the tsunami then the floods, water, the prime force of life, the life-saving liquid. Now it has made a deathly tomb for many in Bombay.

Many houses were submerged. Their valuable certificates, shares, photographs, furniture, food articles lost for ever. The villages along Raigad have been hit the worst. Many villages have lost their crops, their granaries were flooded. Many died. These are simple folks. They live on what they get from the fields and the skies. Now the skies have turned mercenary marauder. They didn't have wood to cremate their dear ones. They sprinkled kerosene and lighted the pyre instead.

Many, many, such stories tumble out. Would man learn? Would he amend his ways? Will the rapacious rape of nature stop?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A girl in the bus

A girl beside me in the crowded state transport bus did the unimaginable. Yes, shocking. She looked the traditional, untouched by modernity types wearing a discolored sari and not even a touch of anything I might call women's "vanity" thingammies.

First she took a plastic bag, took a pinch of fennel seeds, put it in her mouth, closed the bag, and returned it to a torn and shredded bag.

Then she thrust her hand again into her bag again and came out with a small book of sorts. It was probably a prayer book. Yes, it was. But the picture on the cover of the book was what shocked me. It was that of a criminal gangster wanted by the police. I looked again. It was he, the same moustache, the same eyes.

She touched it to her temple, kissed it and then touched it to her heart and then opened it. Inside was another photo of the gangster. This time he was posing with his wife. Can you believe this? I went, "Whoa, what is this?"

Then she opened it further. It was a prayer book. Only the gangster had printed it, subsidized it, and conveniently inserted his photograph on the cover.

But what a mixed message it sent to me the first time? Were these simple folk worshipping gangsters thus? What if the gangster also inveigled into this book his philosophy of "kill somebody ruthlessly for supari"?

How sacrilegious it would have seemed? Is there a blurring of the lines somewhere? Or, is it just me?

Open to discussion, all ye lurkers on my blog!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Are typos inevitable?

(Something I posted on Caferati)

The consensus seems to be that a few typos may occur. I typed “ocur” here but my word-processing program promptly changed it to “occur.” So much for small mercies. We have word processors powerful enough to correct even before we notice the mistake.

Caferati was conceived as a forum to learn and to grow. I guess that purpose wouldn’t be served if someone says that if there is one typo in the contribution he/she was put off and didn’t read the entire contribution. That is not serving any purpose here. I have read many contributions though they were replete with typos and were full of muddled thinking.

I had to literally wade through the prose to find out what the writer wanted to say. But then I got all of what was being expressed and have commented, if, and, when I had the time, or, when I felt that my comment would make a difference.Let us not be “holier than thou” here. Get this straight and let it remain in your heads always: TYPOS ARE BOUND TO HAPPEN IN ALL WRITING. Nobody can write a first draft without typos. But as we go along we should try to reduce the number of typos at least as a gesture of “courtesy” to our esteemed members, as somebody mentioned on this thread.

That said, in a literary forum like Caferati we can declare at the beginning of the contribution that this is a “work in progress” and therefore there is bound to be typos and grammatical inconsistencies. In this case the writer is merely “workshopping” his work for the views of the members. He is not presenting it to Caferati members for publication and as the moderators repeatedly point out, they don’t edit anyone’s contribution.

None other than Geoffrey Chaucer, considered the father of English poetry was a bad speller. Consider the following extract from his poem Troilus and Criseyde:

But, you lovers, that bathen in gladness,
If any drop of pity in you be,
Remembereth you on passd heaviness (Remember past sorrow)
That you have felt, and on the adversity
Of other folk; and thinketh how that ye
Have felt that Lov durst you displease, (made you suffer)
Or you have won him with too great an ease.

He writes “passd” for “past” and “Lov” for “love.”

These notes were not made by me but were gleaned from a scholarly study of Chaucer by Michael Murphy (so, do not assume that I am being “holier than you”). Editing was so bad then that even bad spelling escaped the editors’ attention. With technology came word processors and this sanctimonious obsession with, “give us flawless prose, or we won’t even look at it.”

To be fair to those who come on board to write and learn how to write, let us be generous and tolerate the typos and grammatical inconsistencies if it is mentioned at the beginning of the work that it is a “work in progress.” At least we must make that much allowance, in the common interest, as none of us here (I may be wrong!) claim to be above board as far as typos and grammar are concerned.

Monday, August 15, 2005


The Tsunami! This is the tsunami, the huge wall of water that struck the eastern coast of India and killed thousands.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


This is me reading my poems at a readmeet organized by Caferati. I read my poems "White" and "Bombay Train Song."
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Monday, August 08, 2005


This picture is doctored. The guy in the pic is a colleague but posted this just to show the desperation on the faces of those in the background.
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Friday, August 05, 2005