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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

At Ease in the Twilight Zone

At Ease in the Twilight Zone

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

'Pony Tales' Running Successfully All Over

The Ponytail is back to business and bloggers continue with their mindless musings. The Bloggers vs. IIPM scuffle gave IIPM the publicity which it did not welcome and bloggers some recognition which they hadn't really expected.

The mainstream media though a bit reluctantly took the concept of blogging to the average Joe. Bloggers need the mainstream media - it is their favorite punching bag and mainstream media needs blogs - it is THE source for news as it happens.

During my recent vacation, I attempted to enlighten my blogging skills a bit and therefore browsed through the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents on the seemingly unending journeys on the evidently neglected trains of the Northeast Frontier Railway. The B word on the cover incited many a curious passenger. They had read about/seen/heard the recent developments but couldn't exactly comprehend what this blog thing was all about? I on my part disseminated some gyan to the best of my ability. Some even promised to initiate their own.

I think Mr. Chaudhuri deserves another round of expression of gratitude. Thank you, yet again - Mr. Chaudhuri.

Even the Press Information Bureau is contemplating giving bloggers accreditation.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

The Tinkle of Silver

Shikari Shambu, Tantri the Mantri and Suppandi
It was the wee years of the nineteen hundred and eighties. Television didn't air Cartoon Network, cyber space was still confined within the peripheries of laboratories and MMS was a distant dream. Kids played real games requiring physical exertion. And also read a lot of comics. During those days of idyllic endeavours it was usually the American fare, which captivated minds of a generation just out of their diapers (now reading and writing blogs). The desi stuff wasn't much to boast about (of course, as always there were exceptions). A scientist by education, but an entertainer by vocation - Anant Pai, aka Uncle Pai - initiated a comic magazine called Tinkle. A place where learning meets fun.

Tinkle 25th AnniversaryThis was 25 years ago. In this quarter of a century Tinkle has added a lot of sparkle to a lot of lives. Shikari Shambu, Suppandi, Tantri the Mantri, Kalia the Crow, Pyarelal, Nasruddin Hodja, Raghu, Anwar and many more who I cannot presently recall became nicknames of kids in school. A dedicated team of cartoonists and able story tellers (most often readers themselves) led by Uncle Pai made their way into the hearts of millions. Ram Waeerkar was my favourite. I loved the way he drew the eyes, especially of animals. Notable mentions include Sanjiv Waeerkar (a relation of Ram's?), VB Halbe, Prasad Iyer, Pradeep Sathe and Archana Amberkar.

Published by India Book House, who also have another institution to their credit - Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle hasn't really got it's due. It has stubbornly withstood the onslaught from beyond the borders as well as the cheap and tasteless Indian fare - which ranged from the gross to the utterly disgusting. In this cacophony of blood, gore, cleavages, dumb humour and now television and the internet, Tinkle stood its ground and dutifully continues to educate and entertain the generations.

But Tinkle's 25th anniversary special edition didn't live upto my expectations. There wasn't much 'special' about it. A trip down the nostalgic lane would have perhaps contented veteran Tinkle fans like me. I genuinely feel that that they can do much better with their existing resources.

It's a sad fact that the characters like Nagraj and those created by Pran - Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki etc., are far more recognised and read. Does someone remember Bahadur?

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Good Morning, Good Day

Just the kind of the beginning of the day you never want. Through with the morning habit of brushing the teeth and the early morning cup of tea on the Guwahati-Delhi Rajdhani Express - nature calls. After pushing numerous bolted toilet doors, I was relieved to finally find one unbolted one. Only to discover that some uncle or aunt (couldn't decipher the sex in the split second) hadn't bothered to properly bolt the door, while on their early morning downloading.

This invariably happens to me once in every train journey that I undertake (Seen a lot of bare bottoms). I on my part always take that extra caution in keeping the doors secured before going down to do my job.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

The 2nd Shillong Wine Festival

Shillong is said to be famous for its three Ws – Wine, Weather and Women. For a taste of the first of the fabled Ws, I went for some sips at the 2nd Shillong Wine Festival. On reaching the venue we discovered that they were charging a relatively exorbitant head price. Already down on cash from the lunching and dining at some of the city’s reputedly reputed eating joints, we thought of giving the display of the locally brewed wines a skip.

For once the thought of using my press privileges for a free entry entered my greedy mind. But thankfully good sense prevailed and I proved once again that I’m at best - a pseudo-journalist. We quietly drove back home with parched throats.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Lonely Lonely Monday Morning

Lonely Lonely Monday Morning

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Railway Regulations

Sparrows on the Rail
Travelling on Indian Railways is an experience one should not deprive oneself of. You get to know the nation, its culture, its people from the confines of your bogie. The general class is often too crowded to let anyone enjoy the experience, the upper classes are too restricted to let the variety in. The best is the sleeper class. Railway rules say that unreserved passengers cannot board the sleeper boogies. But in a democracy like ours, it is the people of the place who make the rules and we aliens travelling through them have to unwillingly adhere.

During my student days I logged thousands of kilometres on the upper berths of the sleeper class. Now, when I can afford a little luxury I have graduated myself to the three tiered air-conditioned class. But sometimes seeing the peacefully asleep co-passengers from my (again) upper berth, I miss the chaos and the cacophony of the sleeper class. But the past experiences of travelling through the badlands of Bihar makes me comfortable in the existing state of things.

One thing I always wondered about is that why can't most of us travel light. For a holiday of a week we seem to pack our entire wardrobe. I am of the opinion that the Indian Railways should strictly enforce the weight regulations for the passengers. There was this lady in my compartment who spent half of her time anxiously counting the number of items in her luggage and the remainder half in arranging and rearranging them - arguing and occasionally pleading with the other passengers. Then there was this expatriate Indian returning from the gulf with a suitcase the size of a cupboard - which occupied 3/4 of the leg space between the opposing berths.

One word which keeps our diverse nation chugging on its wheels - be it politics or passengers abroad a train. ADJUST. This adjustment or the expectation thereof makes us move forward. The unreserved passenger expects the legal seat occupants to adjust a bit so that he can reach his destination. The overloaded aunt expects her excess baggage to be adjusted. Families travelling together but with distant seats expect us solitary bachelors to adjust in seat adjustment/exchange. Which made me realise the importance of the independent MLA or MP in government formation.

If you are finding this post too lengthy for your reading - this one time please adjust.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Live from Shillong

Reached here late last night. Just took some time out from the mandatory meetings with friends and relatives to post something. But the grey cells become dormant in the environment of a cyber café. Will try to recollect my thoughts and feelings at leisure and post here later.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound
The sun plays hide and seek with the nimbus clouds, the moss between the toes is cold, damp. The acidic smell of pine leaves lends freshness to the air. It's getting colder. The winds of November whistle through the bamboo groves. Winter is almost here. She reminded the British of their Scottish highlands. 1496 metres tall, she's beautiful, she's Shillong.

Simon and Garfunkel wished to be home. Here I am with a wish come true - suitcase minus the guitar in hand - homeward bound. Leave sanctioned, suitcase packed, tickets confirmed, I should be home tomorrow. The blog posts will be a little irregular, but when I'm back I'll have a lot of stories to tell. Shillong here I come...

Homeward Bound

I’m sittin’ in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Everyday’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see
Reminds me that I long to be

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again
I’ll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptyness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me
Silently for me
Silently for me

~Simon and Garfunkel

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Friday, November 11, 2005 Now On

NEW DELHI, November 10: Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications & Information Technology, today launched the National Portal of India which will act as a gateway to online government services. He said "" has been developed with a citizen's perspective to ensure easy and efficient access to all Indian Government Information and Services at one common point. It is an integral part of national e-governance plan being implemented by the Department of Information Technology, Maran said. The portal can be customised on the basis of visitors' areas of interest and profile. Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, presided over the function.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that the Government has been according high priority in establishing communication infrastructure in the country. The establishment of National Portal fills the important communication gap and would expand further in accordance to the National E-Governance Plan. He further added that the efforts should be made to make this portal self-sufficient.

Developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), with latest technology features and hosted in a state-of-the-art Internet Data Centre, the National Portal of India, provides a unified interface to all Indian Government Websites. The Portal further provides a plethora of comprehensive and authentic information in well categorised sections on citizens, business, overseas, government, Know India, sectors, etc. The portal is a useful web resource to all - right from the common citizen/government departments etc., to NRIs, national and international media and general public across the world. The portal also allows the content to be personalised/customised on the basis of the visitors' areas of interest and profile.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Helpline for Hombres

Dowry harassment doesn't shock our insensitive psyches much, unless the in-laws resort to something heinous as bride-burning. We have accepted the unlawful practice of dowry as a way of life. Bureaucrats to business badshahs - everyone demands or delivers the pound of flesh.

On some Delhi road-dividers you will find small dangling boards which state the other side of the story.

The text in Hindi translates into:

Under the guise of dowry laws
If the wife troubles, let us know

(Only write - Don't Meet)

B.H.-712, (East) Shalimar Bagh, Delhi-88
9810170681, 27491446

Tormented men of the world unite. Direct your woes to Man Cell. Only write, don't meet.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Stirred Not Shaken

Misty Misty Delhi Morning
7:00 AM, Delhi Metro's Kashmere Gate station. A disheveled youth in his mid 20s with reddish eyes wearing a jacket and a suspicious looking satchel hung across walks in. The solitary policeman at the security check looks at him suspiciously, feels for the contents of his bag from the outside and lets him in. On the platform, other early morning passengers eye him with similar suspicion, but no one enquires anything. Aboard the train they just keep a vigilant eye on him.

He reaches his destination, Rajiv Chowk in Connaught Place. The station is almost deserted except for security personnel. No one stops him now, because he is exiting the metro network. He takes a long stroll to his office and types down this post on his blog.

After the serial blasts, Delhi is cautious but not overzealously so. Possible suspects haven't been shot. I continue to post yet another post.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The New Delhi Leather Haunt

This post does not imply endorsement of any product or brand by this blog. It is only to inform fellow bloggers who happen to reside in the national capital region or are on a visit here and are not aware of the news (in fact it's five months old) that the famous Sreeleathers of Calcutta/Jamshedpur have opened shop right at the heart of New Delhi - 16 A, Regal Building, Connaught Place.

I made this discovery yesterday (the big banners which they had hung all over the Durga Puja pandals in CR Park lent no clue to my limited intelligence) and had a shopaholic fit. Their full stock is not yet on display and the decor still half done, but their legendary quality compounded with wallet friendly pricing will only add more to your leather collection.

The featured leather waist pouch (above) cost me Rs. 189.00.

But the sandals, which I really liked, didn't have a pair in my size.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

9:00 PM 'Justice'

One of the woes that plague the Indian judicial system is its chronic inability to keep pace with the cases that keep on piling up. But our other court - the 'oncamera' one is not retarded by any such incapability. Here decisions (not justice) are dispensed before the prime time deadlines. Sabse tez (the fastest) - is the promise. And it is delivered, irrespective of the consequences.

Journalism books till today preach the long forgotten professional trait of objectiveness. My professor used to tell me, let opinions remain within the confines of the edit page. But dry facts, devoid of the moisture of prejudice do not attract viewers/readers.

The basic tenet of justice - 'Innocent unless proven guilty,' has gone contrary. The courts will take years to evaluate the arguments of the prosecution and defence to come to a decision. News doesn't have any patience value. All accused are guilty. There isn't much time for unearthing the truth. This aspect is better left to discussion shows with lower TRPs.

Once proclaimed guilty by the kangaroo courts run by the fourth pillar of democracy, there is very little scope for a retrial. Unless your uncle's company is the one which fills in the spaces between news stories on a rival news channel. And if the courts in the distant future proclaim the 'guilty,' honourably innocent, there will hardly be a murmur.

Innocence is disinteresting (Indians lodged in Pakistani jails are an exception), guilt rules. I hold the media guilty. No appeal, no presidential pardon.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Doc in Druggist Guise

A body ache accompanied the sore throat which the post-Diwali pollution had given me. I went to the neighbourhood chemist and asked for some throat lozenges. Seeing me in a visibly unsound shape, he enquired about my symptoms. And like a trained medicine practitioner, suggested different combination of drugs. I was clueless and left it to his judgement.

On my way home I read the rear of the tablet strips to ensure that none of them were from the restricted prescription-drug category. Thankfully none were.

So many of us, instead for taking the longer route via the intermediary called the doctor, opt for the shortcut and head directly to the drug store. For minor ailments this practice may be a welcome one - saves both time and money. But often overzealous chemists hand over prescription drugs readily over the counter. This might prove dangerous. They usually give you no receipt and therefore are able to shun any responsibility.

But if a poor rickshaw-puller feels that all's not right with him. He forgoes a day's earning by waiting at the government dispensary's unending queue. A place where the medicines prescribed by the doctor on public payroll are usually not available. But surprisingly in full-stock at the adjacent privately-run chemist's shop.

Or he simply walks to the chemist, narrates his woes, pops his pills and goes back to work.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

T-Shirt Tales

Fellow bloggers are under the impression that I'm obsessed with my newly acquired camera. And on some introspection I discovered that they are right. So what does that make me - a fotomaniac? Here comes the latest edition (please bear with me):

I like my tees to spread a message, sometimes meaningful otherwise whacky.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

'Time and Tide Wait for Some' and Associated Tomfoolery

I have collected quite a many VCDs (got no DVD drive on my PC) over the last few months but couldn't get the time to watch but a few. Time and task are always inversely proportional to one another. But that sceptics say is merely an excuse. What needs to be done can be achieved within the prescribed time frame. Give or take the occasional tsunami and hurricane. There is always a way of doing things faster (I discover new ones at work every day), the only problem is that we tend to discover them when their prime utility is long over (or so we believe).

Take fewer coffee and cigarette breaks at work and you can leave for home earlier.

Skip that stupid movie on late night TV and you can reach office on time.

Two lessons learnt for the day. Any more. anyone?

By the way did you get that email where it says that you can't rename a folder in Windows with the name - con. If you haven't, try it.

Another lesson, not attempting to rename folders with shady sounding names also saves some time. Or better still, slow down the clocks.

Disclaimer: The title of the post in whatsoever manner does NOT attempt to convey any idea that it is a sequel to 'Count Your Chickens before They Hatch' or for that matter any other 'bestseller.'

With this I complete a century of posts.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

He Made Mine. Did He Celebrate His?

My Friendly Neighbourhood Paanwallah
Being the Bong that I'm, there should have been more posts regarding the biggest of the Bengali festivities - Durga Puja on my blog. But I find myself posting more on Diwali or Deepawali (the latter sounds better). Perhaps it had to do with the Delhi Durga Puja celebrations not living upto my expectations. I had heard a lot about the Bong-hub CR Park Pujas, but this year on my maiden visit there I felt a trifle let down. Maybe Calcutta might not even content my heart's desires. And they say that Delhiwallahs celebrate the festival of lights the loudest.

Last night after the mandatory round of cards (no money involved), when the rumbling of hunger sounded louder than the bang of crackers, me and a friend went food hunting. The Diwali special stalls selling overpriced but taste-deficient 'delicacies' were the only option that late into the night. To satisfy our gustatory organs - the paan - came to the rescue.

Late into the night the paanwallah, seemingly oblivious of the celebrations around him continued with what he does all through the year - earning his daily bread. When I asked him if I could take a photograph of him, the joy and delight on his face was clearly visible. I showed him the preview of the photographs taken and he was pleased. He only enquired about the price of my camera. And rewarded us with extra-special paan (specially packed in a box borrowed from the neighbouring sweet shop) at no extra cost.

He made my Diwali. What about his and many others who toil 365 days, because they have no other option? The only perceptible difference which festivals bring to their lives is a little more in earnings - the basic need.

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Waiting for the Dusk

Waiting for the Dusk

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