Friday, December 29, 2006

To a Reluctant Writer

I wrote this poem about reluctant writers, who desperately want to write but can't. A friend was having problems with writing, though she wanted desperately to write, so I wrote her this poem.

To a Reluctant Writer

You can pick meaning off words,
You can paint pictures;
You can laugh at them,
Who laugh at you;
You can mourn,
The follies of the unwise.


To write is power,
Of words, thoughts,
Limitless, boundless,
As the sky above and earth below;
You will never be alone,
When words churn in your mind.


You can be heartbroken,
And cry and cry;
But a poem would wipe tears,
Puts a smile on your face,
Erase the pain,
Of loneliness and love.


So won’t you write?
A letter, a poem, an essay;
We would wallow in its depths,
Smile at its humor,
Relish what pains it took you,
And forgive friendly trespasses.

Today I received this beautiful note from a total stranger, saying she has written a poem after nine years, inspired by my poem.

All I can say is "Yipeeeeeeee...."

"I wrote a poem after 9 yrs. I posted the english one on caferatti and hindi one on AKN...

"Txs for the inspirational poem on hesitant writers."

This is reward enough, thanks dear friend. Who says poems have lost their relevance? Who says literature has no meaning? Sorry, I will stop ranting now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shutting Themselves In - New York Times

This came via Zigzackly. The "hikimomori" are young people who shut themselves to the world, play computer games, surf the net, listen to music and generally cut themselves away from the world. Though the word is Japanese it has world-wide connotations, an off shoot of the competitive world we live in. Read Shutting Themselves In - New York Times the article that describes the phenomenon that has grave implications, yes, to the youth of today.

Not moralizing but I guess one way of bringing up children is not to put too much pressure on them to perform. I was particular that I won't force my son Ronnie into activities that he doesn't like.

Modern gizmos, computer games , musicians, cult movies, internet networks, message boards and chat rooms all have a negative sides to it if indulged in too much. The warning signs are out, better beeeewwwwaaaarrrreeeee!

My Latest Short Story

 Here's the link to my latest short story, on Christmas, this time (Link to "Christmas with Cheriachen" page). Please read and comment here or on the Caferati board.

The story is about a lonely couple who spend Christmas away from their daughters, who are in ersatz heavens (according to protagonist Cheriachen) - US and Ireland - where there is much joy and everything is free, free, free. They are in for a rude shock.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Don't Mess with Me, I Am Too Smart!

Oh, no! Blogger hasn't come out of beta, at least, for me. My blog is too big. Being claimant to the title of the "Longest Running Blogger" in the Limca Book of Indian Records, I have almost 450 posting over the past three years - that is more than some collablogs - starting from August 2003.

That makes my blog too big to be transformed in the Blogger scheme of things. So they have deferred it. Waaaaah! Instead of making my face droop, I should make my New Year resolutions.

******

There is a lot of staring in the train on the way to work. I don't like the way they stare in trains. I guess people hate each other and tempers are at the boiling over point. A man objected to another man leaning against him.

"I am only taking the support of this seat here."

"Why can't you stand straight like everyone else," this with a Telugu accent.

"If I lean on you, you would be like a football," this with a thick Malayali accent.

"I am saying why don't you stand straight and read your paper? Your paper is tickling my nose."

"Why don't you take your book away from my face. This is not your train, if you want to be comfortable take a taxi, understand this before opening your mouth."

The other man is quite and they glare some more at each other and resume their journey. A man is listening to music on a mobile phone and talking into another. A man is fiddling with his laptop. Another is chanting some mantra from a small pocket-sized book, another is koochie-kooing with his beloved. That's my daily commute.

"Hell is the other man," said Jean Paul Sartre. Yes in the first class compartment to work, it really is. It never was this way before the bombs went off. We were a nice bunch of friends, casual acquaintances who would say hello when we met outside. No more. We are rivals, enemies, staring at each other, murdering each other with our eyes, hating the man who pushes us even a little, and woe to the one who step on our toes, we go all out and demolish him.

Kilos of flesh, there are kilos of flesh, fat, overfed, tumbling from belts, packing the jaws and necklines, the stomach and the backside, flopping, flipping, in this very Indian ethos of the middle-class, wage-earning, degree-holding, software-MBA-BPO-ized humanity travelling to work and back. And they are smart and competitive as hell. "Understand this before opening your mouth," that is like a Malayali, sharp-tongued and not to be taken for granted.

It clearly says this, "Don't mess with me, I am too smart."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blogger is out of Beta, hurray!

So finally Blogger is out of Beta. Hurray! But I don't know until I click on the publish button after I write this post. Have patience, have patience! Gone is the longlish apostrophe going round and round that used to drive me crazy, I hope. Sometimes the screen would freeze in the middle of this and I would be at the end of my short wit.

I have tested the beta version and it had great functionalities. Much better than the pre-paleolithic monstrosity that compelled me to try various blogging softwares like Quamana and Live Writer. The thing with these softwares is that sometimes they too clam up without the usual by your leave.

Wife is away in Kerala and I am alone here, stranded during the Christmas season. For that matter I have never had a happy Christmas season, though the platitude is to have happiness and joy thrust on one measuring in oodles and oodles. Boiled my first pitcher of milk without the usual white froth spilling all over the kitchen platform, good work!

Now to testing that Beta-less Blogger!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What I Saw At Babri Masjid By Jeff Penberthy

I stumbled accross Jeff Penberthy, Time magazine Bureau Chief's account of the felling of the Babri Masjid quite by accident (click here: What I Saw At Babri Masjid By Jeff Penberthy).

Seems the mob at Ayodhya chanted "Patrakar Murdabad" or "Death to Journalists." Innocent journalists might ask, "What wrong did we do? What role did we play?"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cultural Awards? It's All a Cultural Thing, Isn't It?

Cultural awards? makes me think. A post I had made on a literary network made me gloat a bit. What isn't cultural these days. We are swamped by cultural shows, dance shows, award shows, all these have the same set of beautiful culture-vulture people smiling for the crowds, that's us, the receipients of culture.

A newspapers (I think the Guardian) called the Booker Award as a cultural award. If a certain author wins the award several times over the years, it mean the award is cultural. It's so natural. When the judges sit to confer an award, they say, "Oh, so and so is excellent in this novel. The also rans lack the touch of this genius, besides it is safe and politically correct." The publishing industry minders, the leeches who live sucking blood from the system are also happy as it helps with sales. The many deserving writers, who should have won an award, or been given a break in writing, don't get a foot in the door. The ones who are queueing after them, well, forget them.

Likewise if an actor, say Shahrukh Khan win the Filmfare Best Actor award five times, then it is more a cultural award. It shows the "industry" is in awe of him, his dimples, his acting prowess, his promotional skills. Those four awards out of five could have gone to more deserving debutants. But, no, it's a cultural thing, isn't it? We have a lot of talented actors who aren't recognized. Arjun Ramphal for one. I have admired his skills for long, and he manages to hold on, but never wins an, erm, cultural award. Is it that he is a bit reluctant to cultivate the culture vultures?

This fame business, methinks, works like a conveyor belt. If the top ones don't fall from the belt the smaller ones do. If the top ones don't gracefull exit the small ones don't make an entry. So the ones on the top make every effort to stay on top, or, sort of jam the movement of the belt, and that's a cultural thing. Merit gets side tracked for popularity and visibility.

The same thing happens I guess in matters literary. Poor writers (such as the humble me) have been trying in vain to get established writers to recommend their (our) work. This is established practice. Where would RK Narayan be without Graham Greene? Where would Arundhati Roy be without Pankaj Mishra? But, no, how could they? What would people think? How can they recommend a writer who may be a dud or a future competitor when they themselves are so desperately sucking up to the system? Make it a leeetle difficult for them, or, better ignore them, they would naturally fall off the conveyor belt soon.

Ranjit Bolt, a translator of classical European theatre who lives in the UK gives another jolt to the Booker as culture discussion by the statement that being brown helps to win the Booker. More the reason to believe that the Booker is indeed a culture award. Political correctness would have it that the awards go to the previously oppressed classes, incarcerated in their color, wanting desperately to come out. But Bolt forgets that one must be brown and female to win culture awards. Aw, look at Arundhati, Jhumpa and, now, Kiran. What flawless skin, what smiles, what teeth. But that is the cribbing of an unpublished, grumpy author.

If culture is what awards are all about society is also not far behind. Kalimpong has raised the flag of revolt claiming that it has been wrongly represented by Kiran, and likewise Brick Lane. Who says novels are for woolly headed nerds? Shows that people do take novels seriously. But the culture-vultures of the genteel literary world meet in discreet eating houses in New York and New Delhi and exchange notes on who is "cool" and who is not. What styles could likely win culture awards and what styles are most likely not.

These self-appointed guardians of culture can be seen everywhere. At award shows, art shows, movie shows baring their fangs (sorry, teeth). Visibility is what they are after. And the media, ever in awe of the Page 3 culture is only too willing to oblige. Culture rules, long live culture!

Monday, December 18, 2006

More of Ronnie

He has poster boy looks hasn't he? My son, Ronnie Posted by Picasa

Christmas Carols, My Style!

Saturday was the Church's Carol service. See pictures below. The church is rather nicely done and the choir members, too, look well turned out. hmm. I was Santa's escort, but none of what I said could be captured as I was behind the camera most of the time. My fellow choir members ganged up on me and said I didn't fit any of the noises (sorry, voices, i.e., Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano) generated and blackballed me out of the choir. I don't blame them. I am erratic as far as choir practise is concerned, working as I do in Andheri. Not to speak of late appearance at most practise session. Serves me right! So, poor me was relegated to clicking pictures and escorting Santa around. Ho, ho, ho!

Friend Bino Oommen played Santa, and I guess we made a good pair, witty, and boisterous. Nice. I also called out the names of children Santa was to give presents to. "Lisa Tharian, please come forward, thank you, nice, say I love you Santa," and all that stuff that I normally do. It was a good evening to store in the memory and we dispersed into the night after eating cake and drinking cups of hot tea. It wasn't cold, in fact, a bit hot. So I had to take off my sweater and give it to Mercy to hold. A lot more programs, including house-to-house singing, Christmas service are to come in this season to be jolly, tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Joel on Software, and the Kurla Foot Overbridge

See what Joel Spolsky has to say on elegance in software design in this article (Link to Joel on Software). Have always been a great admirer of his. The style is lucid, the witticisms makes my stomach wiggle (so much the better to control the paunch!).

Today,  I have shot a great video of the Kurla railway station foot overbridge (FOB). The act was very risky. I could be beaten up by someone who may have had a bad night because of a drinking problem, or a fight with girlfriend or wife; or I could have lost my expensive (by my standards) Nikon Coolpix L3 camera; I could have been trampled in the crowd in the process; I could have been stared at and abused, with choice Bambaiya invectives.

Mercifully, none of these happened. Thank god!

You will see what commuting in Bombay is all about, and what people such as me go through in the craze to get to their work place. The city is exploding with people, they are everywhere, on top of trains, hanging to windows, balancing in between two bogies. Dangerous, I know, but we lead dangerous lives.

Hope to post it here soon, so watch out people.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Laughing Gas

She is ahead of him in the crowd. She is wearing the shortest of kurtas and a churidar that is so tight the buns of her behind form a perfect round football-ish sphere in red. The skin is so fair it is almost golden ("The golden girls" is the name he has coined for her type. They seem to have stepped right out of a golden chariot driven by Eros himself), the profile of the face is even and so well formed that water would glide from her forehead and touch only her nose and would slither further down and only touch the fronts of her breasts. She is wearing heels and the sleeveless yellow kurta only covers up to her waist. Aaah, he groans.

Adrenaline pumps. Nitrous oxide, or, laughing gas releases into his scrotal region, dilating the blood vessels, so that more blood pumps into his sexual organs. He had read in medical school that the reason for an erection is quite simply, nitrous oxide, or, laughing gas. Ha... ha... ha....

He remembers the texts he had read in physiology. "Mechanically erection can be compared to an electromechanically controlled hydraulic system. The most important roles in the phase of erection are played by nitrous oxide and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)." So the sexual process is nothing but a release of laughing gas, the physician concludes. He as a doctor knows.

He... he... he....

But the exquisiteness of the human being in front of him is what he cannot understand though he has closely examined many of them in the hospital. But then there he is a physician, but here? What's wrong with him? Has he forgotten medical ethics?

He feels an urge to talk to her, but she doesn't look at anyone. She is inhabiting a world presided by the deity Eros, lost in some sweet memory of someone. A man? A woman? That someone is very lucky to at least know her. Of course, she would like to meet and talk to a post-graduate physician such as him.

Model? No. Airhostess? No. Office worker? Could be.

He was sure the work in the mundane and drab office in some congested lane in Andheri would grind to a halt today. Everyone would be staring lustily at her buns, her slow lilting walk, her silky black hair. Could he talk to her.

From what he could see from behind, as he slowly inches forward on the Kurla railway bridge is a soft cheek, and a bit of down around the ear. The slow-moving crowd has come to the end of the bridge and is slowly descending the steps to the west of Kurla. He is careful to keep right behind her, and it's easy because on both sides are slowly inching office goers clutch their rexine bags.

May be, at the exit when there is some more space he can walk ahead and introduce himself with a killer pick-up line. Something like, "Hey beautiful, it's a sunny day, can we make it funny?" No, that won't do. It has to be a lot better than that.

The crowd has moved glacially to the end of the stairs and is dispersing now. The slow crawl has come to an end. Now is his chance. he walks ahead. His heart thudding he prepares to turn around, he does.

"Hi! Darling! Goodu Maarrniinnggguu!"

He could have killed that man, the boor! He feels rage. Some men are so crude. This Road Romeo is dressed in cheap jeans, has his cowlick falling over his eyes, and has a hundred bursting pimples on his scarred face.

He walks ahead, glances back at her one last time. He freezes.

She has earplugs on! She is listening to music. There's no way she could have heard either him or the Road Romeo. He heaves a sigh, then groans, and then laughs ha... ha... ha.... After all, it's only laughing gas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Get Well Soon, Felix!

Ganga called today to tell me that Felix is in depression. He has had this problem for a long time, and we friends had been trying to cheer him up.

For the uninitiated Felix, Ganga, yours truly, Sanjeevan, Ajit, Geetha, Sarasa, Chandran, Anil, Murli, Vinod all studied in Adarsha Vidyalaya in Chembur, back in 1973, when most readers of this blog weren't born. I took the initiative to bring my school friends together and organized a meeting, which is taking place regularly now, sort of a support group. When Chandran had to undergo an operation all of us helped with blood donations, and whatever we could.

Felix was one of the stars in school. He was the red house captain, while I was the Green house captain and Ganga was the yellow house captain. We were rivals then and are good friends now. He was good in studies, in sports he was excellent, he had a great marksmanship which he used to win marbles by the hundreds. God, how I envied his talents! He got a great job with a multinational and all was well for some time.

But things started going wrong suddenly and he became depressive and suicidal. The problem is excessive doubting of everone around him, including his wife. I know this is a very troubling malady and there have been books written, movies made (Aap Ki Kasam), studies done about it. But still if doubt enters the mind (as it did in St. Thomas' mind), then a man is slowly consumed by doubt, becomes depressed.

Anyway, we friends are going to Felix's house this evening to see if we can sort things out. He listens to us, especially Ganga, with whom he shares a special relationship.

Queer turns life takes! Felix Thomas, don't worry you will be okay. We friends are there to take care of you.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Children of the Genetic Code

Again on a Saturday a few thoughts as I sit here in my Boxer shorts, having got the Saturdays off I can now have a weekend. See my latest story and the reactions it received from Caferati.

Working in a stream allied to pharmacogenomics is interesting. The other day I was explaining genomics to a friend, who is a programmer.

"See, all human being has genetic codes embedded in their various secretions and they have found that hereditory illnesses, color of hair and eyes, all are related to the absence of presence of certain codes."

"Like in a computer program. There are codes and if I change a code here, the whole appearance of the output changes."

"Well, you can say that. They have also established that if a disease is under control, or, is cured it reflects immediately in the genetic code."

"Fascinating isn't it?"

"Yes, that means we are all dependent on codes, aren't we?"

We both laughed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Inimitable Charu Hasan


This is my reply to my friend Charu Hasan's article in Caferati. Sorry, this article was written by a friend of Charu Hasan, which he reproduced in Caferati - The Writer's Network.

Interestingly here is an rare and old picture of Charu Hasan's wife, his daughter Nandhini and Kamal Hasan. Yes, the brooding guy with the handsome face is Kamal Hasan, I guess, he was handsome even as a child. Child handsome? anyone?

"This is awfully good. We all are in search of the elixir, the pill, that would give us the talents to write. In fact, nobody realizes that there is no quick fixes to good writing. In fact, every writer struggles with words even though he may be a published, nobel-winning writer.

"When can I get this into people's minds?

"At the place where I have worked they wanted instant writing done within hours, and didn't want to pay for it too. They think a writer can put fingers to keyboard and come out with stunning copy in seconds. How wrong they are.

"Those women who want to write have ideas, but no skills. But Ideas aren't writing skills. Ideas have to travel from the brain through neurons, down the spine, down the chest where it takes a ninety degree turn, down the forearm, down the wrists to the fingers. It is such a long journey and anything can go wrong in this process.

"Sorry for meandering but this thought occurred to me when I was reading your article, sorry, your friend's article."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Train Crossing

There’s a train,
On the other tracks,
Coming towards me, in rain,
On life’s twin tracks.

A station, shrouded in mist,
I pause, I am uncertain,
If I should stop there, rest,
Before the train passes, in rain.

Look, that train is so heavy,
Lots of baggage, people,
It trundles slowly, ponderously,
Seems its engine has trouble.

Will that train pass me?
Will it slow down, slight?
Or, will it crash into me?
Or, halt at the red light.

I remember similar trains,
In a whirl of memories, tears,
They have passed, it's certain,
This too shall pass, ere mist clears.

As the sun also rises,
So, the moon will also rise,
Trains pass each other in the night,
This train, too, shall pass into daylight.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nigerian Money Scam Claims High-profile Indian

Along comes news that Manubhai Shah of Consumer Education and Research Center (CERC) has been sacked for his invovement in the Nigerian money scam. I feel sad.

When I was Executive Secretary of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) I had depended a lot on CERC to prove the validity of claims made by advertisements. If, for example, a company claims, in their advertisement, that their fairness cream can whiten (actually I haven't tested this on me, dark as I am) skin in a week, and if a complaint was logdged with ASCI, the complaints committee used send the product for verification to CERC.

Now CERC founded by Manubhai Shah was, and I suppose still is, impartial and turns in a dependable verdict from their laboratories after testing the claim. It was trusted by a lot of organizations and in some case even by the government.

Anyone familiar with the Internet knows what the Nigeria money scam is. A rich Nigerian has died without a will and his lawyer or widow needs someone to transfer the money running in millions of dollars. They need you to only pay around Rs 50 lakhs to claim what would be $ 5 million. Greedily, you take out the calculator and calculate, as I am doing now! Whoa! Rs 22 crores for nothing.

My inbox is flooded daily by these emails which I know is a scam from the very language used. The following is such a scam letter from one supposedly Anita Jone-Moktar that I fished out from my deleted files just now:

"I do recognised the surprise this letter will bring to you, most especially as it comes from a stranger. I am Anita Jones-Moktar. We are from Sao Tome. I am married to Dr. Mohammad Moktar who was a wealthy cocoa merchant in Ivory Coast for years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only two weeks. Before his death we were both faithful Muslim. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the holly Quaran is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of  $4.8Million U.S. Dollars) with the securitycompany here in Abidjan Presently, the fund is still with the security company. Recently, my Doctor told me that I have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness."

So since Anita wanted to get married again and suddenly finds that she is dying she wants to give me this $ 4.8 million only if I give her the processing fees of around $ 100,000 which would be around Rs 45 lakhs. Nicely put. Do you believe it? I believed a similar scam sometime ago and landed up in a nicely created mess that has me and a certain other person fuming even now. Leave that unmentionable incident alone. I was too immature and new to the ways of the wired world.

This Anita Jones-Moktar would turn around after receiving the money and disappear. But some people unused to the ways of the Internet are vulnerable, yes, even Manubhai Shah. Why, if I have, you could be the next one, so beware.

Manubhai Shah, the doyen of the consumer movement in India, the once championed icon, fell for this trap and gave the agent Rs 32 lakhs from CERC's money and around Rs 10 lakhs of his own. He even borrowed money from well wishers in the US of A to pay these scamsters. He was soon discovered and had to resign from the chairmanship of the organization he himself founded, and is being investigated for fraud.

Tough luck, Manubhai Shah!

Poison Woman

She's a tease,
She's the queen of trash,
Of baubles and all things tawdry,
She's the talk of cocktail circuits,
Fashion shows, book launches, and art openings.

She is poison,
Beware, her tongue drips lies and poison.

She can't hold her tongue,
Doesn't know what tact is,
She will make you feel,
Wonderfully naive with her words,
And then suddenly drop you!

She is poison,
Beware, her tongue drips lies and poison.

Don't trust her,
Or fall for her charms,
She can suck you dry,
And then leave you a shell
Of your ribs, to rot in your grave.

She is poison,
Beware, her tongue drips lies and poison.

Man, didn't I tell you,
Keep away, safe distance,
She's too smart for you,
Mamma's boy, she can make you,
Dance to her selfish beats.

She is poison,
Beware, her tongue drips lies and poison.

She walks with affected grace,
She wears platform heels,
The make-up she wears is really a mask,
But her eyes are like poison darts,
To shoot you down, boy.

She is poison,
Beware, her tongue drips lies and poison.

(With apologies to Elton John's "Slow Down Georgie (She's Poison)"

My Brown Patented Shoes!

Today lights went off at 7 a.m. Got up did fifteen minutes of yoga, shaved and bathed in the dark, couldn't see what I was going to wear, so, got mismatched clothes on - peach green cotton shirt and blue trousers. But what got me excited was the idea of wearing my new Bata patented leather shoes bought on Friday for Rs 2000, Rs 1999, to be exact.

I guess, they have this Indian aversion for round figures (except of the feminine variety!) and it is always Rs 2001 or Rs 1999. Rs 2000 is like a bad omen. I think I am an eyesore around the office in my mismatched peach green and blue trousers. But I check my shoes, oh, they just shine.

I guess there is no dress code in outsourcing companies. If there is, then it is universally ignored. But I stick to my self-created dress rules. Our software development guys come in crumpled, loud-checked shirts, and dusty and torn loafers. Those guys don't know, and don't even wish to know about power dressing. I can't help them.

I remember the words of Shashi Kapoor which is still emblazoned in my mind after all these years, "Dress well, and doors will open for you." And Shashi Kapoor was the ideal male metrosexual even before the term was coined. Women would faint in theatres showing his movies!

Bata shoes are something I indulge because my last pair of Bata shoes lasted me two years, and was in a bad state. The sole had a hole in it, and the side was beginning to tear. This one is Hush Puppies and is made of patented leather, or, so the salesman told me. "This is specially crafted for people who wear shoes the whole day, and need that extra comfort," the salesman added.

Mmmmmmm (that's her online identity), an online friend, says that women always look at man's shoes. I guess she's right. They do. I always polish my shoes, and as a rule, don't like dirty, dust-caked shoes. It shows a sloppy attitude.

Ahem.

Mmmmmm says, "A man would wear the best of clothes, and give no thought to how bad his shoes look." How very true! Shows man's Male Chauvinism. But are our roads, sidewalks, public places made for patented leather shoes? Most of it is stones, large aggregate, garbage, and spit.  I found myself muttering, "Please don't step on my shoes, for heaven's sake," when I was getting down at Kurla today. I am that paranoid about my new shoes.

But I know they will do it the first time, and the clumsy, bulky guy with a big plastic suitcase did that immediately, as if sensing my thoughts. I gave him the dirtiest look I have ever given anyone in my forty-eight years. And imagine, after this, as I got down from the train at Kurla I stepped into a gob of green, gooey, spit.

Yeeeecccchhh! I wanted to scream. But that isn't very appropriate on a Monday morning on the way to work, spoils the entire day. I rub and rub the soles against the concrete to rid me of the ugly mess sticking to my feet, and feel so sorry for my shoes.

When I narrate this to a friend in the office, he smirks. After all these software developer guys are crude and rough, these geeks, they won't understand. But this one forms complete sentences and is so bookish, he looks like an open book with the pages resembling his unruly, stand-on-end, moppy hair.

"How do you like my shoes?" I ask him hoping for a compliment.

"How much do they cost?"

"Rs. 1999," I feel a bit triumphant.

"Why such expensive shoes? Shoes are meant to be worn on the feet, aren't they?" Typical Hindi-film dialogue, "Jootey kitni bhi mehengi ho, woh pairon par hi pehna jata hai." Sorry, my Hindi isn't perfect.

"Is that why you are wearing those tattered shoes of yours?"

"What else? Why waste money? This pair is five years old. I only change my shoes once in five to six years. Shoes are after all shoes."

Mmmmmm, here's the guy you are looking for, give him a piece of your mind will you? This specimen of Male Chauvinism. I guess he is also the type who would buy cheap quality undergarments and spend the whole day adjusting his crotch.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Face It, Always Face It, That's the Way to Get through. Face It!

"Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it." — Joseph Conrad.

My god, my god, what a quote, what a quote. I read this and something in my head went, "Boom." Just when I was feeling like hanging my head and stepping sideways, and letting life pass on by, comes this quote from the author of Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness. Feeling a bit down and despondent. Guess, it will go away. Somethings do not happen the way we want it to.

A relation happened to be coming from the US and I had asked him to bring a gadget along, thinking it would be cheap, easy to pick up there. I said I would reimburse them. Today they came and went, empty handed, and didn't even mention the gadget in passing. Well, relations are relations, and selfish at that. They probably were embarassed to take money from me, or, as the the young generation is fond of saying, "whatever."

I am going to write this a thousand times if need be. I am going to face it, always face it, that's the way to get through. Face it.

The Riot of Idolators

Mobs go on rampage because a leader's statue was allegedly desecrated, elected parliamentarians go on a destruction spree in the legislature of a state. Familiar? Yes, all too familiar.

But when it happens on the same day as it did when a Babasaheb Ambedkar's statue was abused by vandals in Kanpur and Mamta Banerji's followers ransacked the legislature in West Bengal because she was arrested, I must, um, clean my glasses to see if I am reading right. Perhaps, my news addled mind is imagining things, am I Mamtadidi?

This hold of collective ransom, this destroying of public property in anger,  this disruption of normal life should be taken seriously. The Kerala high court had decreed that Bandhs were illegal and bandh callers could be fined. But in which state was it enforced and the fine collected? I guess, parties not paying the fines shouldn't be allowed to compete in the elections. This retaliatory vandalism because of perceived offense to leaders is taking things too far. Isn't it? For heaven's sake we aren't a tinpot regime, at least not yet.

But I do think inflation and economic disparities are creating frustation among the people. The anger and violence had to be seen to be believed. Even a small group of angry individuals is enough to hijack an entire nation, and cause losses worth ten thousand million rupees.

Who is to blame? The modern glass and chrome call centers and oursourcing companies, the organized but enslaving private companies or the corrupt political class?

Friday, December 01, 2006

There's a Riot Going on in My City of Bombay!

"There's a riot going on in Bombay."

"What? Another? Oh, God! No, Not another! " wife says. I just spoke to her so matter-of-factly that she first thought I was calling up to say I would be late at work.

Hm. Read the gory details here. I think they should rename Bombay as the Riot City, would be nice. This time five compartments of the grand old lady known as the "Deccan Queen" that plies between Pune and Bombay was burnt, shops have been ransacked, 91 buses damaged, and two youths killed.

I shouldn't mention this here, but I guess the militia culture has arrived in India. Our cities, towns and villages are vulnerabe to small gangs of disgrunted men led by a ruthless leader who can hold the majority to ransom.

Well, I got to go home early, or I will get caught in their petty quarrel, so bye, and as our priest says at the end of the church service, "Let's depart in peace."