Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Indian Premier League - Fools Attired as Harlequins

Thackeray has asked Pawar if the IPL would solve the problem of the farmers of Maharashtra. I have a sneaking admiration for Thackeray in that respect. Trust him to come out with inconvenient questions such as this, while everyone is in a frenzy of feasting on cricket, cricket, and more cricket on television. One must remember that he is an artist, and a thinking person too. Some speeches of his I have listened to have a very satiric quality about them, which he no doubt uses effectively.

It's a shame I could't watch the mathch played in New Bombay last sunday. I could see the bright lights from my house, and the teams were living in The Park which is a short walk away. Still, somehow, I couldn't bring myself to be part of the sham, because, I think it is a shame that cricket is deified so much when our hockey, football, badminton, table tennis, et al, players are living in poverty and ignominy.

On second thought, I couldn't afford it. I couldn't afford the money (Rs 500), nor the time (10 hours, including queueing for tickets), both big investments for me. After all, what is a sham worth, especially for a cynic like me?

The money? Many thousand crores will go into the pockets of players such as Shaun Pollock, and Sanath Jayasurya (I've nothing against you, Shaun, Sanath, I am just quoting an example) while farmers are bearing the brunt of a hard summer in Vidharba and elsewhere. Pawarji, have you ever thought of organising water wagons for these parts, I am asking since you are the agriculture minister, in addition to the BCCI chairman. And one more thing: you were also publicly humiliated by Ricky Pointing, if my hazy memory serves me right. If you wanted you could have stopped this 'tamasha' in your own backyard, which is turning cricket in to something like, like, World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Sporting glory? Is the Shreesanth episode any glorious? National good, NYAAH! Shaun and the like will make the most money. Then what? The flannelled fools have become logo-touting, obscenity shouting gladiators whose only aim is to show their prowess on the field and scoot back home with the money. I can also see that some players are taking it easy. What loyalty would Jayausrya have for Bombay, a city he doesn't even know? How come Ajit Agarkar is playing for Calcutta against Bombay? Where are his loyalties?

We have a way of dismisssing such tamashas as 'encouraging sports'. But as a country where some areas are facing twelve hours of electricity cuts, can we afford it? Can we afford the tamasha of imported cheergirls and fools attired as harlequin? Can we?

For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com/, for all else: http://johnwriter.com/

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Picture Blogging, Any Ideas, Anyone?

My last few mobile posts haven't appeared and my picture posting on Shozu isn't functioning either. Oh! I don't know if mobile blogging is worth all the money and time I invest in it. It's expensive, blogging in general, you have to have the latest mobile phone, and they charge me Rs 14 per day for net access.

To get mobile blogging activated I had to run to the Airtel office a few times, until fed up, the zombie there told me to shoo off. They only activate Mobile Office and don't know how to activate Gmail. So I had to figure it out myself. I guess with Shozu, the same will happen. In the end I will figure out how to upload pictures and videos.

Ah, well, that's risk I knew I was taking when I took to blogging in August 2003. Once picture blogging is in place, I can shoot a picture or video and blog it almost immediately.

Only thing left is to figure out how Shozu work. Anyone has any idea?

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For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for all else: http://johnwriter.com

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mindless Bollywood; Mindless Television

I think Indian television is going the Bollywood way. I mean, it’s becoming more and more meaningless. Ho hum, by meaningless I mean, staid crappy entertainment, which is not funny or entertaining at all. Bollywood has gone so far away from meaningful entertainment that one is utterly flabbergasted by films such as “Rang De Basanti” and “Munnabhai” being hailed as new wave of film making. Come on, the supposedly new wave of Bollywood film makers such as Hrishikesh Mukherji and Basu Bhattacharya are dead or phased out.

I speak from a hazy memory here, but I know some of these are facts. And so are Guru Dutt, Ritwik Ghatak, Aravindan, John Abraham (not this lover boy John Abraham, but the director John Abraham [yes, there used to be one director by the name John Abraham who served journalists attending the premiere of his movie with Arrack, that too in plastic mugs!]), Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

I should say it reflects the corruption of the cinematic medium and today the darling of the media, the television is full of laughter, fun, songs, blood and gore (they have an new wrestling hero called Khalli), and NO NEWS. News channels these days sound and look more like a David Dhavan caper with Govinda doing a slapstick gag every second.

SCENARIO ONE

Here’s a rough study I carried out yesterday. One of our leading news channels had the following programmes in its prime time (a time when I was expecting some earthshaking news scoops):

The Bajji-Shrishant slapping controversy: with repeated pans of a seemingly unrepentant Bajji and a crying Shrishant. Okay, but this has zero news value in a country that is beset by a heat wave (in the North) and torrential rain (in Kerala), the Maoist risings, and farmers committing suicide.

Saif and Kareena’s latest capers. Um oh, who’s interested? (क्या सैफ करीना को शादी करेंगे?) I mean well for Saif (whom I have met in person), who I think is a decent human being. Again zero news value.

A poisonous snake found in New Zealand. Oh really? What does it do for us in India? Should we stock anti-venom shots? Again zero news value.

And then Raju Shrivastava (my favourite comedian): he comes on, wearing something like a steward’s dress (the sort I see waiters wearing in the Deccan Odyssey), puts on an act, and he is left clapping his hands and laughing at his own jokes. Oh God, how can my favourite comedian fall so low? Guess overexposure is not good for him.

Mindless entertainment to increase TRPs? You guessed right.

SCENARIO TWO

At the same time I switched to BBC and they had the following programmes:

The violence in the Gaza strip (live coverage, lots of news value)

The Hillary Barack tussle for Democratic nomination.

A documentary about Zambia, and how the Chinese are investing there and why Zambians don’t like working for Chinese companies. (Great news value)

Zimbabwean elections (live coverage, lots of news value).

Now when was the last time you saw a documentary about a state of India (forget a country like Zambia) on Indian news channels. Here are a few documentaries that are crying to be made and shown on Indian televisions:

  1. The growing menace of plastic in Indian cities
  2. The Sulabh-Shauchalay experiment that failed (this may be of interest)
  3. What is frustrating marginal farmers in Vidharbha
  4. An in-depth report on Special Economic Zones
  5. A documentary on how migration is killing Indian urban infrastructure
  6. A detail report on the politics of appeasement (free houses, free loans, etc)
  7. How many this or that Yojana schemes have reached the poor
  8. etc. etc.

Why don’t we see such coverage and instead of laughter, wrestling, cricketing, star affairs, even poisonous snakes of New Zealand is what beats me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two Recent Poems

Here are two poems I wrote recently:

Vision from My Office Window

Where Are Those Days?

If you like the play of words, the richness of rhyme, the beauty of thoughts, then go read and enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

On Thane Creek Bridge

When I used to travel by the old Thane Creek bridge I used to look at the rail bridge that I am traveling now and used to wonder when it will be finished so that I can travel by it. It was then in a lot of flurried construction activity, with cranes, girders, barges and tugs everywhere. Now I travel on it everyday and don't feel a thing though it is a wonderful saving in time, offers a great view of he creek, and mesmerises me everyday the way the sea shimmers below it. When I near the area, away from the awful shitty smell of the city, I draw in a long breath. At least, New Bombay (where I live) doesn't smell as bad as the city.

Makes me wonder the way old gives way to the new, my old impatience to see the bridge completed has now given way to new aspirations, and I take the old longing to ride on the bridge as old stuff, to be cast away, like the small boat I can see now bobbing in the creek.

Seems we are ungrateful for God's small mercies!

--
For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for all else: http://johnwriter.com

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Of the diasporean tail wagging the dog....

Reference to this article in this blog, some where in the nether world below, I have been thinking (not unusual, no?). Dalrymple called the phenomenon of the diasporean Indian trying to out-wit and out-write the real Indian as 'the tail wagging the dog'.

Agreed, we are the dog, and they are the smart tail, powdered, made-up and sanitised. But they are smarter, the are able to communicate better, to be able to wag the dog (us) they have to be. We poor unfed, undernourished denizens who call ourself Indian Writers in English (IWE) have to hold on to underpaying jobs, work overtime, listen to peeves such as this - flowery language, too poetic, too verbose, too wordy - and still have to make a living for ourselves. It's actually very sad, I think as I look at the morning sun outside the speeding train, we are a generation of writers trapped in our own history of dissent and protests without any role models to follow.

Dalrymple says Arundhati Roy was (rather, still is) the only discovery that the Western world made and that all other writers who claimed they have been paid three million as advance (and still stuck to their desk jobs) have not even got the publishers their advances. Tut tut! Well a lot of would-be Arundhatis did send in their manuscripts, only to be told they weren't as original as the lady herself.

So when Pablo offered to bring in celebrity writers and give us a chance to interact with them, we should have actually jumped at the chance.

Instead, what did we do? We stayed away. A noble and sensitive writer like Indra Sinha came and spoke to a smattering of the usual 'poetry reading' audience, other luminaries like the editor of Spectator (Matthew something) came and the hall was half empty.

And who was masterminding the boycott? Couple of writers from England, yes the very own that Dalrymple calls the tail. No media came because they were giving the glad ear to the 'dog who was being wagged' by the tail in England.

I guess the Indian writers who stayed away were making common cause with the tail who actually are our worst enemies. They call themselves the smart tail but refuse to acknowlwdge the body they belong to. Hari Kunzru says he is not the smart tail at all, he disown being the tail! I think he should name himself Harry Kensigton or some thing!

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For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for all else: http://johnwriter.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

'Me' in Today's Mumbai Newsline

I have been quoted in Indian Express' Mumbai Newsline of today. Go see on page 7 of today's Mumbai Newsline. Will post a scanned picture here tomorrow. Go here to read online in Expreess Mumbai Newsline.

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For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com/, for all else: http://johnwriter.com/

Baggage tags, Bong talk and the like....

I look around desperate for something to write today. Nothing? I saw an Indian laburnum in bloom outside my house this morning, its flowers had carpeted the floor so that it looked as if there was a thick yellow carpet on the floor.

There is tentative conversation from a gang of Bongs sitting next to me. The subject is a favorite of Bombayites: the price of flats and how he was smart enough to invest in time, how much Kharghar has developed, and how much Panvel will develop. Much is 'I am smarter than you' 'Keeping up with the Joneses' kind of talk, and each one is trying to prove that he is more successful and has made the wisest decisions. Then they talk of tonnages and how many ships are landing with its cargoes at which ports and I lose interest. I see that I can understand a bit of Bong from being with Bongs during my college days. One Saswata Deb initiated me to Bong culture, but we are hardly in touch these days.

Then I see the luggage rack above. Three of the bags have cabin baggage tags hanging from them. One is Kingfisher Airlines, and two are Deccan Airlines. I think: What does this indicate? That they want to show the world that they are somebody big who travel by air? That they have arrived in this rat racing, meme spouting, influence peddling, purgatory of a city that smells of shit everywhere? Come on, give me a break, remove those baggage tags and stop being hypocritical about two hours you spent in space in a claustrophobic tube!

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For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com/, for all else: http://johnwriter.com/

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Indian Premier League, What the Heck?

Saw ipl match between Bangalore and Calcutta on tv. If this is the future of cricket, then, sorry, you have lost a fan. Not only is it boringly commented on ('fantastic wicket' 'fantastic player' 'fantastic shot', how come every thing is so fantastic?). Where are the delirious fans? Where is the jingoism that an India Pak match used to command.

I saw a guy waving the Indian flag. Poor critter, probably thought this was an India-Pak edge of the seat entertainer.

Its pure commercialism. For example doesn't Royal Challengers conjure images of whisky, which is forbidden from being advertised? Has the Advertising Standards Council been caught napping?

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For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com/, for
all else: http://johnwriter.com/

Monday, April 21, 2008

William Dalrymple on the Indian Literary Dream that Wasn't

William Dalrymple on the Indian Literary Dream that Wasn't:

'The truth is, however, that since 1997 there has been no new galaxy of stars emerging to match the stature of those of the 1980s and 90s. Many of the Indian novelists who were signed up with such excitement 10 years ago failed to repay even a fraction of their advances. The only Indian-themed book to win the Booker - The Life of Pi - was written by Yann Martel, a white Canadian. In India itself, there is no new internationally acclaimed masterpiece, no new Roy.'

And then I read this and I weep tears of bitterness:

'Writers such as Kunzru, born in Hounslow or Edgware or Brooklyn or New Jersey, have a clear and built-in advantage over their cousins brought up in Jhansi or Patna. They have far more confidence in English, and their ethnicity and geography makes them natural bridges between cultures, able automatically to translate an Indian sensibility for the west - if that is what they want to do. Certainly, their background effortlessly puts them in a position to draw together a range of different influences, to work with ease in India and Britain and the US, and to produce art that is readily comprehensible at both ends of the globe.'

Seems my dream of being published is going farther and farther. Oh, great publishers, why haven't you replied to my emails, replied to me within a few weeks (as promised), when it is already one year and a half. The mind grows numb, hope dims, the distance seems blurred. Ah, well!

Love birds find no place to roost

There is this couple sitting opposite me talking in Malayalam. They don't know I am a Malayali (most people mistake me for a Marathi or a Bengali, something to do with my looks, I guess).

So I can evesdrop into what they are saying, and it is highly flirtatious stuff, the sort love birds twitter, the sort love releases with a lot of hormones and other secretions of the soul.

then, as I am watching them some thing happens, something that would happen only in a state like Kerala, which has its own morality brigade.

The girl has reached out and, with one finger has touched the boy on his upper arm, and, you won't believe this, reaches his index finger and touches the girl. Guess this is all they are allowed to do by our philistinic society.

I feel sorry for them as I watch them, and they don't know that, right now I am recording it for posterity.

--
For a mobile blogging experience: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, for
all else: http://johnwriter.com

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jhumpa Shines with Second Book of Short Stories

Believe it or not, thou untrusting soul, our own cultural ambassador of Bong culture, the interpreter of Bong angst and articulation Jhumpa Lahiri is making waves with her second collection of short stories: 'Unaccustomed Earth'. This is what Times Book Review has to say (TBR - New York Times):

'There are not a lot of surprises, week in and week out, at the upper reaches of the Times fiction bestseller list. But occasionally a comet lands and flattens the forest, sending the usual critters running. That happens this week as Jhumpa Lahiri’s second story collection, 'Unaccustomed Earth,' makes its debut at No. 1. It’s hard to remember the last serious, well-written work of fiction, particularly a book of stories, that leapt straight to No. 1; it’s a powerful demonstration of Lahiri’s newfound commercial clout. The critics, of course, have been with her since the beginning. (Lahiri’s first collection, 'Interpreter of Maladies,' won a Pulitzer in 2000.) 'Unaccustomed Earth' was reviewed on our cover a few weeks ago, though it’s possible Lahiri never saw it. She recently told an online interviewer for The Atlantic Monthly that whenever she has a new book out, her husband secretly throws away the Times Book Review section lest she stumble upon the review. When her first book was published, she said, 'I read everything. It was like the first baby — you take a million pictures and each moment is so special.' These days, she said, 'I feel more vulnerable. With this book I decided not to look at anything at all.''

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shit everywhere…

Nothing much to write about today, except this piece, which details the daily gauntlet I run to get to the office. It’s a mad scramble, as you know. Today is a typical day in my life, full of the irritating uncertainty of living in a big city. There aren’t any rickshaws to take me to the railway station at Belapur, and I wring my hands, and then call my son and ask him to drop me to the station on his Hero Honda CBZ, which he does. As I ride I wonder how nice it would be to be dropped everyday, but sonny is sleeping when I leave and I don’t want to disturb him.

At the station, as I enter it huffing, the train is just slithering away, the last few compartments still temptingly on the platform. A vain thought, I run after it, knowing fully well that it’s no use, and the train just slides away smooth as an eel, unattainable. Damn! Then there’s the wait for the next train, which arrives, and I jump in even before it stops. It’s dangerous, I know, but I need to sit down in that damn thing, or I will be standing till Andheri. And, lo and behold, the seats are all taken. Like a damn fool I stand while my poker-faced audience (yes they all look so, so blank) look at me and sneer at my discomfort. Drat!

Then a guy gets up and offers another guy a seat. What the heck? What did I do not to deserve that seat? Then I fish out Indra Sinha’s “Animal’s People" and begin to read. It’s a good book and I am lost in its beautiful prose, the cynical argot of Animal, the boy-man who is full of erotic love for Nisha, and I chuckle, I smile, and I read on. (Do buy this book and read, I assure you, word of honour, etc. you will never regret it). But then my smile turns to grimace.

The reason is, I feel a terrible urge to urinate. It’s terrible and it’s because of some medication that I am taking. I squirm in my seat. Andheri is half an hour away, and I try to read deeply, with a lot of involvement to avoid my bladders bursting.

Finally the train arrives at Andheri, I make a beeline for the toilet on platform one and see that a queue has already formed, and it isn’t moving forward. The toilet stinks, there’s water on the floor, the cobwebs hang from the ceiling, there are shabbily stuck posters everywhere (learn fast, fast English in one month, Rs 1000 only et al), and still the line isn’t moving.

I hold some more, shifting uncomfortably. And then, I am inside and I see one of the receptacles (what else do you call them?) empty. I rush to it. The man beside me stops me. Reason? Ahhhhh! There’s a pile of shit lying on it. I shout to the red-shirted attendant, a tall, gangling guy who is joking about it.

“कोई रात को किया होगा. कण्ट्रोल कर नही पाया, लिघ्त भी नही थे, थो बस कर दीया.”

Somebody must have done it in the night. Couldn’t control, and there were no lights. I think of Annie Zaidi’s post:

“My foot squelched and sank into something soft. It took a couple of seconds to register what the mess was - it was about two inches of shit. Human shit all over the floor.”

Truly a very disconcerting, and humiliating experience. Then I think of VS Naipaul who wrote:

“Indians shit everywhere.”

I don’t blame him, he is right, I mean, Naipaul. There is a toilet a few feet away from the urinal, and all that the miscreant had to do was hold on a little longer, walk those two steps, and sit inside the toilet. He was a few feet away from the toilet (and decency, I suppose) and still he shat on the steps of the urinal. Could you believe that? We still haven’t made the switch from village to the city, from crudeness to decency and for some people the rationale is even one of prestige:

“तुम्हारा बाप का क्या जाता है?”

What goes of your father?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Writing for lonely planet

If you are one of those with tongues hanging out to write for Lonely Planet, you better read this.

“DO TRAVEL Writers Go To Hell?” is Thomas Kohnstamm’s book bout his experiences writing for Lonely Planet. The answer is unclear, but Mr Kohnstamm is certainly making enemies for himself on Earth. Having given up a job on Wall Street, he went to work for the guidebook company in South America, where his research took an unusual form. He reveals that he failed to visit a number of the places he wrote about, as his allowance was insufficient, and that he bartered drugs to supplement his income.Read more in Economist, here.

Morning raaga in grey

The grey morning outside stretches into the horizon. Spring has receded and the summer Raaga is here. I had breakfast and glass of Tang, but still I am thirsty as I sit in the train and blog.

I have not been reading the news lately and that is dangerous, methinks. Evenings after the long commute I am so tired I say the family prayer and fall asleep. There are thousands of things to be done, all undone, and I have to concentrate.

Hmm, the sun is a grey orb over Thane creek bridge, another day lies ahead as I brace myself and say a word of prayer for the day.

--
Now, I blog from my mobile phone at: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com,
Visit my website: http://johnwriter.com

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drunk gets beaten up, coupla' other things

I wait eagerly, Imust say, to blog on the train everyday, time passes fast, I am not still comfortable with the qwerty keyboard. But anyway I am making progress, I use my thumbs to enter text, and it isn't very comfortable doing that, try it. The sunlight is like a painful reminder of the heat, the sunrays are hurtful (I had cut myself while shaving), brilliant it is, the sunlight I mean.

Worked late yesterday, came to Wadala and see big, big fist cuffs between two commuters. A drunk gets in somewhere and starts abusing commuters and they all gang up and beat him, and push him out of the train at the next station.

C'on guys, relax, I am saying, he is a drunk, maybe he is having problems with his wife, maybe he is losing his job. Isn't compassion a virtue any more?

The trains are getting uglier and hotter. Sometimes the fans fail, people lose confidence and fight like beasts. Lalloo Prasad and his children are vacationing somewhere, guess he can take the liberty.

I am commuting to the city after a long time. One thing that strikes me like a flying bat hitting my face is the smell, no, the stench. The whole of Bombay is a ike an open toilet, shit, shit and more shit, and I dislike the acrid smell of shit so much. I hold a hanky to my mouth but the stench permeates, how long can I hold on. I have seen girls wrapping their scarves across their entire face like a veil, a muslim burkha, hiding themselves from ex-lovers, eve teasers and blackmailers.

Oh, God, oh, God what has your world come to? This is not the way I saw it ten years ago. It's worse!

--
Now, I blog from my mobile phone at: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com,
Visit my website: http://johnwriter.com

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A mad, mad, mad, day....

I had a dahi batata puri at Elco, Bandra

Yesterday, was a mad, mad, bad day. First had to sort out my medical papers as the Mediclaim people threatened not to pay for my recent hospitalisation. That done, I had to get papers in order for the loan for my house re-construction, and meet the bank manager, who gave me a few more papers to be organised. Guess, nothing will ever be complete and this will go on like that for another month.

Joanna, a former colleagues with whom I am in contact by email and cell phone, lives near the bank and I drop in to visit after a long break of fifteen years. She is married and has a son aged seven years. She works from home and is happy to watch her son grow. I learn that her dad had passed away, I offer condolences. None of our other friends keep in touch, she says ruefully. Guess they have passed on in life, and people who pass on are like wanderers in the journey of life, and never look back, except me and her, I supposed. She gives me a glass of sherbet (was it Tang?) with ice cubes in them and I gulp it down because it's so hot outside. Her son comes in and I make conversation. Do you have a lot of friends? Who's your favorite author? Enid Blyton? I like to treat children as adults and ask them adult questions, and not the 'Tikku, beta, whath ish your name, sweetheart?' type of questions. He answers all my questions and is not shy in the least. Guess he likes to be treated as an adult. I say goodbye to Joanna promising to meet often.

And then there was the Caferati readmeet. I rest for a while after reaching home, have lunch, and fall asleep, and before I know it it's 4 p.m. I hurriedly dress, and, no, I don't have time to wear kurta - shalwar as I had originally intended. So drag myself into my trusted jeans from Westside, and I am off. On reaching Santa Cruz station nobody knows a road called "North Avenue" where Pinstorm is located. (It's where the readmeet is being held.) The road outside the station is filled with sluggishly moving cars and autorickshaws, and the driver of the latter contraption in which I am sitting says he knows the place and then he confesses he is not from the locality. Guess the road names have changed, and nobody knows it by its old names except the old gentleman who sells grams and peanuts on a road few blocks away. I abandon the rickshaw and decide to walk, and call Suniti to ask for directions.

When I reach Pinstorm the readmeet is almost half finished. I meet and greet old Caferatii which include Arjun, Mayuri, Jugal, and of course, the regulars including Suniti, Jane, Col. Puri, Raamesh, Laxmi, Jhumur, Shishir, Peter, Netra, and many I don't remember right now. Forgive me, my memory goes blank there.

Then after the meet, we go to Elcom for a bit of socialsing and some chaat, Jhumur insisted she will have nothing but chaat. So I have a dahi batata puri, one of my favorite chat dish.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Prelude to madness

I have been seeing this man in trains, platforms, at Chembur, touching both cheeks, joining both hands and praying to some unknown god. In the first class compartment that he travelled he would attract attention, even stares.

Today I saw him again. He had progressed into the depth of his madness, was in the nadir of his uncontrollable urges, had no thought about his clothes, his haie was matted and his beard had grown.

Some people break under the pressure of life, guess he was one of the people....

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My mobile blog on the go: http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com, My website:
http://johnwriter.com

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another morning... Few more thoughts....

I guess, dear reader, the problem with us is that we are hoarding our money and not spending enough. I am not making excuses for my profligacy, which I am accused by my family, but all I am saying is we don't spend enough.

A friend wears torn shoes, recycles aluminium foils, plastic cups and things, walks half an hour from station to office, does everything to save money.

But recently he lost his wallet with a few thousand rupees in it, and a watch worth five thousand because he travels second class, the sure way to lose your money, and, with Bombay as it is, your life even. I wonder why he is still being so tight fisted and risking his life for a few rupees.

Spend more, let the money circulate is what I would say to him.

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I mobile blog on http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Persistence doesn't pay

There is this software giant that is so keen on employing me that there are persistent calls to me by a sweet sounding lady, at all times of the day. Guess they need my services badly. But this giant has a bad employment record and many are my friends who have given a bad report about their employment practices. Guess a company's reputation spreads fast in the market and talented people avoid them like the plague. Remember, it's the age of knowledge and information, corporate slavery is (rather was) defunct.

the problem with technology companies is that they know nothing about the writing and editing process. They think writing is as easy as 'hey presto' and it is done. But truth is, writing is an iteartive process full of repetitive proofings and corrections (ask this of any lowly editor in a newspaper or publishing house).

No, our hot shot tech guys aren't comfortable with that. They want everything pat at the first proof stage. Chasing dreams, are we? Unreasonable? Yes, of course.

--
I mobile blog on http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com

Boys night out... times that were....

Posting from the train on the way to work. A man just got up and I got a place to park my behind and do some blogging. Recently, a few days back, I passed Night Cravers, a fave joint of my NRI bosses at another job. It brought back memories of those days my bosses used to tke us on a boys' night out to this now-defunct dance bar.

The scenes we witnessed there were nothing short of perversion, excess, and disrespect for the Indian legal tender - the Rupee.

There was a rich man from Bangla desh, that poor suffering country, who had a man beside him carrying a tray stacked with notes, a few lakhs I was told. He was thowing, yes, throwing the money at the ceiling as if it was some sort of confetti, which then got caught in the geegaws of the ceiling or settled on the floor, and were, yes, truth be told, swept away with a broom.

The Maharashtra government started dance bars with a noble purpose, to bring performing arts to the people. The barwallas turned it into pick up joints where even girls with no knowledge of dance twirled and wiggled their ass. Soon instead of performing on a stage there were novitiate girls crudely gyrating to Bollywood beats in the centre of the restaurant. And there were men like my NRI bosses who had their favorites (apparently the available ones), who were the regulars.

What that says about the barwallas, is left to you, sweet, kind reader, who I am sure are frowning about my motives. What it says about me, well it was a boy's night out, and I got to see a bit of decadence played before me? Probably, they aren't bothered that people are dying of hunger in poor countries across the globe. As to what happened to my NRI bosses, again truth be told, a 20-crore company went down the drain four years since inception, and nothing is left of the vestiges.

Isn't compassion a virtue any more?

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I mobile blog on http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Went shopping for fruits yesterday

The post-prandial fruit was out of stock, so wifey suggested I take a walk and buy some fruit. Ah, well, I think, I don't mind a periodic check of prices, since I blogged about stagflation here.

Imagine my shock when an atropied bunch of bananas already black in colour was priced at Rs 20 a dozen, and a water melon at Rs 30!

The vendor, a dour looking fellow with eyes all red from lack of sleep, had a mien that said 'take it or leave it.' I took it. I had no alternative.

So, something like stagflation is already here, and you read it here, right?

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I mobile blog on http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My post on frivolity in the AV media

I am onthe way to work. A few rays of errant sunshine filters through people and fall on me. I have sent my essay on frivolity in the AV media to Tehelka magazine. Hope they publish it.

a few more thoughts that have been flitting through my mind, like butterflies in spring. If newspapers were to take off after AV media (as it is now) it would have been full of jokes. Yeah, men, it would sell newspapers, no? Why not? Because newspapers are the conscience of the nation, and the conscience can't be compromised, can it (though, I know there are black sheep in newspaper-sthan, too)?

so what makes the AV media so special that they can flout the rules and have all these frivolous shows that appeal to the mind of an infantile illiterate?

Food for thought ain't it?

--
I mobile blog on http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com

Monday, April 07, 2008

Feedback on article on frivolity in new media

Receiving good feedback on my article on frivolity in news media which appears here. First to appreciate was Vasudev Murthy and then Ashish Gorde. I am so happy I wrote it. then, I couldn't turn a blind eye, so I am blogging about it on my way home. It's a bit hot, a foretaste of what is to come.

Ashish says a nation is identfied by what it laughs at. We are a nation that laughs at itself. Sardarji's and Malayali's may be the communities being made fun of the most. The latter from a member of their own community called Lola Kutty. It's pathetic seeing her trying so hard to imitate her own accent, and she slips up, the poor sod, every time, all the time. Channel V would be doing her a favour by taking the show off the air, honest.

so back to where i was, it reflects too badly on us when, as Ashish says, we make such bad jokes about ourselves. Right?

--
I mobile blog on http://johnpmathew.blogspot.com/

We Indians dress like this only! And Indra Sinha's Animal's People

Didn't I say here that we Indians don't have a dress sense. A new neighbour moves in, he washes his scooty every day. Nothing wrong with that, but that he is wearing aloudly checked pajama and a loudly checked shirt...

Am reading Indra Sinha's 'Animal's People'. (I had the good fortune of making this wonderful man's and his wife's acquaintance at Kitab 2008) There's a scene (made me laugh) where the newly arrived doctor from Amrica Elli Barber disentangles a traffic jam. It's very hahaha! If you want any more laughs go to khaufpur.com the city created by Indra for his novel. (For all ye, people who came in late, Khaufpur is nothing but Bhopal.) I bet, you will die laughing, in which case you can pay me in heaven.

Very magic realistic, must say Indra's invented plenty of new idioms with this book. Much closer to the way Indians speak than what Rushdie could attempt. Rushdie takes you nearly there, but Indra really takes you to India of obscene speech, the quirky workings of the Indian mind.

Mobile blogged on my Nokia E61i (My mobile blog comes out with horrific line breaks. Anyone know how to solve that?)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Stop This Frivolity, This Decadence in the Media

Any channel I surf these days has a profusion of laugher shows: the great Indian laughter challenge, laughter champion, comedy circus, etc. There’s so much laughter; it isn’t funny anymore. Either it’s a laugher show or its rival in frivolity, a music show, with celebrity judges. I am not saying laughter is bad, but how much can we laugh? How much can a character shouting ‘Wah, guru’ keep laughing his head off, high fiving his glamorous star judges, and even performing the bhangra. ‘Hahahahaha… hehehe…,’ he goes every time an inane jokes are cracked. What makes him so easily tickle-able, I am left wondering most of the time?

And now they have a certain lady, the ‘smile on hire for all occasions’ judging laughter competitions. She’s been on a roll for some time, cricket, TV serials, and now laughter shows. In none of the shows mentioned does she have anything intelligent to contribute. Except Shekhar Suman, who looks sleep deprived, the judges have nothing to say, no intelligent analysis, tips, etc. That would mean it’s laughter for laughter’s sake, empty, without purpose, like canned laughter.

Music shows aren’t any better. The typical reaction of the brainless celebrity judge is mind numbing; ‘Mind blowing’ is the most favourite words on these shows. It’s irritating how they say ‘Mind blowing’ and ‘fantastic’, ‘superb’ in one breath. Or it’s ‘miiiiinnnnnnddd bloooowwiiing’. And minor children aren’t exempted from the vagaries of competing in music awards. Appalling, as it might seem there are shows like ‘little champs’ targeted at the minor segment, and it’s heart rending to hear them trying their best to win awards, prodded by their parents. I think, my own jaundiced view, there should be a ban on minors performing in such shows.

Now who has these music shows discovered? Indian Idol Abjijeet Sawant is still struggling to find his slot, and the others have either dropped out, or been eliminated in the mad stampede towards recording contracts. Laughter stars Raju Shrivastava (my favourite) and Sunil Pal (second in line) have become typecast and are overworked producing the same type of staid stuff. So are the others. The Pakistanis across the border are a really talented lot when it comes to tickling the funny bone. Irfan Malik and Ali Hassan are a riot; I love their act.

However, there’s a lot at fault here. A society that is frivolous enough to value laughter and dance more than hard news, learning and literature is doomed to fail. The news media, the watchdogs, are no longer the bull terriers they used to be, rather tame shoe-licking, tail-wagging Pomeranians. And, no wonder, that’s already happening. Disillusioned, people are using religious faith to prop and leverage their position in society. They are becoming more intolerant than a decade ago. To my horror I found that one of my friends is these days viewing to the discs of a fundamentalist Baba something, I forget the name. Are we going the way of Yugoslavia where the Catholic Croatia, the Eastern Orthdox Serbia and the Muslim Bosnia Herzegovina split into a schizophrenic trinity, while leaving pockets of these communities stranded in enemy territory?

That reminds me of something more disturbing, that I have been ruminating about writing for a long, long time, which I will mention here in passing. The irony is what strikes you dumb: the government is writing off loans given to farmers on the one hand and on the other it is creating special economic zones for the already rich, while the media is full of laughter and music. Who will, at least, speak for the common man and his burdens? Who will hold this candle that has been lighted at both ends? Any guesses?

No, I won’t hazard a guess.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Am wearing shalwar kurta today

I am wearing shalwar kurta today, and there are a few stares and appreciative looks. The Shakespeareans are meeting at their usual haunt of tea centre, and that's why - am sporting the 'writer' look, if there ever was one. That makes me wonder if there would be stares in the office too. But, um, who cares? As such an Indian male is a sloppy dresser, but I do try to be inventive in my dressing.

Makes me think of how women are disadvantaged when it comes to dress. Men have trousers with pockets, dhotis that can create the impromtu pocket (madi, its called in Malayalam). But women aren't supposed to have pockets (sez who?). Poor things (oops!) are left to rummage in the hand bag for loose change that they keep in another purse within the hand bag. Women friends don't go by their fashion dictats, wear what is comfortable, that doesn't mean skin tight jean stoppin just above the crotch. That I don't approve.

saw 'Little Miss Sunshine' yesterday, and, oh, I am so apalled at what lengths mothers would go to make their darlings into stars. We have the same here in 'little champs' and the like. At the mall I see a girl sashaying like a beauty queen and I wonder if this is what their mothers teach them. I say if this isn't ignorance and corruption of youth what is?

Blogged on my Nokia E61i mobile phone.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Gucci Life

This is what Pablo Ganguli writes in an article in Guardian "The Gucci Life."

Most educated, well-to-do and savvy people I know in India cannot afford a holiday in Europe and have absolutely no intention of buying international luxury goods. They say it is an abomination to spend so much money on designer items when they have a hard time as it is paying their children's school fees. And they point out the large starving population sleeping half naked right outside those very western stores. The contrast exasperates them, to say the least.

Hypocrisy has progressed splendidly in a country where religion is considered to be the most powerful tool in people's lives. Even brand-new cash machines are given religious rituals before they are put into use. Politicians are ludicrously corrupt and excellently misleading. It is therefore hilarious that some politicians are treated with almost god-like reverence. The public fall for their false charms again and again because the powers that be use religion in a huge way to build support. They are obeyed and feared. More than 90% of India is dangerously religious.

My second mobile blog

This is my second mobile blog. I didn't get a seat today, though I tried my best, ran from one corner to the other of the compartment, got hit by a fat man with a huge brief case weighing a ton and almost fell down, and was left standing like a fool, while my co-passengers smirked complacently at me. Why do fat men carry briefcases weighing a ton? That too in crowded trains, where there isn't enough room to stand? Why? Darn, grr, mumble, grumble....

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My first mobile blog

Hi, this is my first mobile blog, hopefully. A big thanks goes to my
Nokia E61i and Blogger.com. I am in the train going to my workplace,
hey guys stop pushing me!