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Saturday, December 31, 2005

SMS is Person of the Year - Sardar Manmohan Singh

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Even critics admit he brings grace, efficiency and integrity to high office. In 2005 he filled the shoes he was given," says Tehelka. And I agree. The man in the blue turban deserves some applause.


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Fill up the Empty Bottles

Old Bottle, New Wine. Happy 2006
December 31, the last puff, the last sip, the one that you don't want to miss. The one everyone wants. Like chain smokers filling up that umpteenth glass this end is a new beginning, of yet another round. To the forthcoming and many more, cheers!

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Friday, December 30, 2005

If Rhinos Could Fly

The Flying Rhino
A couple of bookworms down south should be held responsible for this post. Their fancy for bound volumes of the printed word put my time machine on the reverse. I read but not a lot, atleast not nowadays. Traversing back in time, the earliest book that I could recollect reading apart from the ones in my kindergarten reading list was The Flying Rhino. A gift from my parents on one of my initial single digit birthdays. I loved the artwork. The story went something like this:

The Flying Rhino
In India
In the thick Jungle of Assam
With his parents
And his friends
Happy and cheerful
A little rhino
Lived by a pond.

One day
While he was enjoying
His breakfast of leaves
A pretty yellow butterfly
Flew past in the breeze
The rhino looked up and began to wonder

The Flying Rhino
"The butterfly has wings
The fly has wings
All birds have wings
I'm a rhino
So what?
I must also have wings."

The little happy rhino
Soon became sad
Tears rolled down his cheeks
That indeed was very bad.

Mummy papa and all his friends
Asked him
What the matter was
But the little rhino
Could not tell the cause
He did not laugh
Nor did he eat
He didn't go to the water
Despite the terrible heat.

Then one summer night
When no one was awake
He quietly left
And walked away.

After quite some time
The little sad rhino
Stood under a tree
And cried bitterly.

The Flying Rhino
A mother sparrow
Whose nest was just above
Looked down from her perch
"Who are you?
And what's wrong with you?"
Now the little rhino
Sobbed more bitterly.

The sparrow
Left her nest
She saw tears
In rhino's eyes
Her heart melted
With her feathers
Softly and lovingly
She wiped
His flowing tears
"Open your heart to me
I shall help you
Oh, my dear."

The Flying Rhino
The rhino coughed twice
Kind words had touched him
His voice was choked
He managed somehow
"Please help me get two wings"
And he couldn't say more.

The sparrow first laughed
Then became serious
"A funny
I must say, a funny wish
Let me see dear
I may be able to help you
But my dear
Till I'm back
You have to be here."

The Flying Rhino
In the dark summer night
The sparrow flew up
High in the sky
The sun rose up
It went overhead
The rhino waited eagerly
And of course very anxiously

After full four hours
His alert ears
Heard the flutter
Of the sparrow's wings
The sparrow was in sight
She cried out happily
"Good news my dear!
In the ruins near Tezpur
There is a wishing goddess
Just walk to her
To pray and to wish.

Walk to the North
Then to the East
Walk again North
And you'd be there."

The Flying Rhino
The helpful sparrow
The sat on the rhino's nose
And wished him all the best.

Now the little rhino
Walked two days
And two nights
Without rest
He reached the ruins of Tezpur
Just before sunset.

The Flying Rhino
He plucked plenty of leaves
And also some fruits
Offered the wishing goddess
Then with a great effort
Sat down cross-legged
Closed his eyes
And prayed hard
For twenty days
And twenty nights.

The Flying Rhino
One fine morning
The birds were chattering
Before the sun was up
He felt tickled
In his sides
He opened his eyes
He found two wings
To his surprise.

The rhino was thrilled
He jumped with joy
Then he went round and round
Around the wishing goddess
And thanked her many times.

Then he flapped his wings
Like the fly
And yellow butterfly
He was in the air.

He floated above the clouds
He tried to dive
For some time
He tried many feats.

The Flying Rhino
The he thought of the sparrow
And flew to her tree
In just one hour
He called her loud
"My firend, oh my friend
Here I am
The big rhino
Your old old friend."

His voice was horse
And it was scaring
The birds
The squirells
The rabbits,
Even the sparrow,
Hid themselves.

The Flying Rhino
Since the rhino
Didn't see
The sparrow
He landed on the tree
The tree fell down
With a thud

With the tree
The rhino fell
Hard on the ground
The birds and the sparrow
The squirrel
And the rabbits
Pecked and bit heard
On his nose
On his ears
And everywhere
With great difficulty
The rhino flapped his wings
Flew up in the air.

Sad and sorry
He crossed the clouds
Flew for many hours
But his little eyes
Had betrayed him this time -
He landed on the ground
On ant hills without sound

The Flying RhinoThe ants didn't spare him
Bit him hard everywhere
Swollen face rhino
Soon took to his wings.

He flew high
Up in the sky
The sun was overhead
He flew for many miles.

Crossed the clouds
Dived down again
And saw a pond
He was overjoyed
He landed down there
Splish and splash
And he turned around

The Flying Rhino
A huge crocodile
Was ready to swallow him up
The rhino wasted no time
He flapped his wings
And he was in the sky.

The Flying Rhino
He was sad again
"No place in the air
No place on the tree
No place on the land
No place in the water
But why?
Because of my wings?"
So tired
So thirsty
So hungry
So lonely.

The Flying RhinoHe flew up again
Two days and two nights
To the same ruins of Tezpur
To the same wishing goddess
Fell down at her feet
Washed them with tears
Sat down cross-legged
For full one year.

Then one fine morning
He heard a tiny vo9ice
"You silly rhino
No more foolishness
No more."

Now the big rhino
When he opened his eyes
His two heavy wings
Were not there any more

He felt light and nice
Then thanked the wishing goddess
One thousand times.

The Flying RhinoHe walked many days
And of course many nights
Reached his home
That cool and nice pond
His mummy
And all his friends
Gave him a warm welcome
On his happy return.

By Manorama Jafa
Illustrations: BG Verma

© Children's Book Trust, 1977

Got the moral?

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Meri Desh Ki Dharti

Leaf of the Earth
Two Wheel Connect to the Outside World
No Bark, No Bite
Silent Waters
Shade in the Bamboo Grove
Stretch of Green
The land of my land

Wherever you are, whatever you do, there's always something that roots you in. A place, a people that lend a sense of belonging. Sometimes it's a place that you've only heard of or somewhere you only briefly resided in. The place you'd love to call home, but it actually isn't. Such is my native village for me.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Blogging a 'Bloggerminator'

Outlook's 'inhouse sceptic' TR Vivek fancies himself as a bloggerminator. Last time his pen spewed this venom:

The Indian blogging community (or blogosphere, as it likes to call itself) is essentially a bitchy, selfindulgent and an almost incestuous network comprising journalists, wannabe-writers and a massive army of geeks who give vent to their creative ambitions on the internet. Given that the average blogger-age is 25 years, it's clear bloggers love to indulge in hearty name calling and taking college-style potshots at others. This is probably why some of them get into trouble.

In their latest 'New Year Double Issue' Outlook spares a couple of pages for the weirdos on the web, where Vivek shares the dias with Jai Arjun Singh and Amit Verma (blog celebrities?) but ensures that his is the last word, but virtue of the other two preceding him.

"Most posts were on the lines of Mid-Day said this, TOI didn't report that, Outlook put Rani Mukherjee on the covers rather than the floods, and so on ... Astronomical web-page hits and searches apart, what citizen reportage are we talking about?"

Well, he has got a point here. The problem with the blog as a citizen media is that individual bloggers with their limited resources can only concentrate on the news analyses and opinions, the news gathering part will have to be catered by the ad-funded mainstream media. After all blogging is a passion, not a profession and Outlook did put Rani Mukherjee on the covers.

"Thankfully, some of the saner bloggers agree that it is impossible to prove that blogs save lives or make a difference."

When did blogs take out the tom-toms to announce that they are the Kalki avatar? If any such impressions were created it was by the news-starved mainstream media. And who by the way form that exclusive category of 'saner bloggers?' Atleast the few I know don't, because 'proving' that 'blogs can save lives and make a difference' is no big deal.

"For the urban twenty-somethings with intellectual pretensions and the hope of being spotted by the commissioning editor of a publishing house, it's the new P3, or rather the virtual world's own India International Centre."

Now I feel a little better/worse (I can't understand). We are the new virtual P3P? Are blogs showrooms to showcase and sell? Whatever it may be, Sir Arthur C. Clarke doesn't seem to agree with the sceptic. In Outlook's 'Tenth Anniversary Mega Issue' the great guru of science fiction says, " thing is clear: the age of passive media consumption is coming to an end. There will be no turning back on the road from Citizen Kane to citizen journalist."

This post proves Sir Clarke's point. In the past I would have at best written a letter to Outlook (which I like for being open to criticism). If it pleased/displeased the editor enough and survived the following 'right-sizing,' it might have filled up a couple of column centimetres.

But here I'm with a 500 word observation. The blog's here to stay. Yes, it needs to evolve - but it's headed the right way. Right up those snobbish noses.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Misty Misty Delhi Morning

New Delhi, 27 December 2005 7:57 AM

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Buttons on the Left

Remember those horror stories which granny used to tell you. The ones where the soul of one enters another and does all mischievous things. Many kilometres of celluloid also told similar tales. I always half-dreaded that something like that might just happen to me. Thankfully it never did, until now. Dwaipayan passed on this tag to me, which requires that I imagine myself in someone else's shoes. But mine is an odd size, I didn't feel very comfortable in all the shoes that I tried stepping into. Therefore am performing the rites in an imaginary realm. This infact violates the spirit of the tag, but I as the presiding spirit of this blog can veto out some undesirable spirits.

Since my last few posts focussed on the other half of the species, which we on the darker half cannot comprehend. I will for the purpose of this post defect to the other and possibly more 'interesting' side. But here too I find myself spoilt for options. Women say "All men are the same," but this doesn't stand true vice versa. After some serious segmentation and amalgamation in the age group that interests me, I come to the controversial conclusion that give or take something women can be broadly classified into two broad (but not necessarily all encompassing) categories - the behenji and the babe (I'm already bracing for those hate comments).

Babes are too boring, you know all about them. They are all over the newspapers, magazines and their ultimate home - the idiot box. Whereas, the behenji is an enigma. There exists a lot of untapped potential in there.

If you all aren't wondering what I plan to do as a behenji, I already am. First things first - I'll have a proper look and feel (first hand) of the stuff that men lust after and evaluate whether all that effort is worthwhile? Anyway my observations and understanding will serve no historical purpose, because men will continue to be men.

Second, I'll size up men as Thalassa_Mikra explained (hopefully my preferences will restore to their original self on return). Then I'll go on about the most important mission - putting the babes in their right place. I haven't yet decided on the qualities of the 'rightful' place and the 'how' associated with the act.

I'll also walk into a mall and try to figure out why the women who accompany me to such places waste so much time in choosing a stuff which they didn't want in the first place and also try out the bikinis the King of Good Times likes to see his women in. Walk out of the trial room to get a second, a third (and keep counting) opinion. 'Behenji in a Bikini' would scream an imaginary headline in a city supplement.

I have a lot of other ideas cramping my head but wouldn't like this blog turn out be a Letters from Penthouse replica. I'm after all a bhalo chele (good boy) and I also have to live up to the behenji image. I'll go home and sleep - alone. Not taking any chances. Would want to wake up as an un-pregnant male with no missed periods. Period.

Psst... The untiring always on the walk blogger living in a 4D world has stepped into another new year of his existence on planet earth today.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Where Have All the Young Girls Gone?

Where Have All the Young Girls Gone?
Yesterday was Christmas – a festival to mark the arrival of the son of god on earth; today is December 26: the first anniversary of the arrival of the big wave from the deep blue sea - the one which washed away millions of dreams. Yesterday, I saw a movie. A movie which spoke about 35 million pairs of innocent eyes which didn’t ever get the opportunity to dream. 35 million cries of the girl child – muffled. Inside and outside the womb.

Manish Jha portrays a nation without women – a Matrubhoomi (motherland). It seems to be a story well told. But what's more disturbing than the incidents in the film, is that this is no story. Such 'motherlands' exist for real. Not only in remote villages, but more so in the urban jungles where modern technology meant to save lives is collaborating in the selective massacre of the female foetus.

The rawness and the violence in the movie made me think, but what touched my heart (and also moistened my eyes) was the cry of the baby girl - one of the most beautiful of sounds.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's a Beautiful Day

Sinrise in Maizgram, a village in south Assam

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Policewaalen Pyar Ke Dushman Hai! Hai!

Love makes the world go round. Astronomers may not subscribe to this view. Multiplex managers, M&B novelists, greeting card manufacturers and cyber café owners will all ring their cash registers in agreement.

We celebrate love in retrospection. The failed lovers of yesteryears find recurring mentions in the songs of linguistically challenged lyricists and adolescent love notes. A hit love story is usually an unsuccessful one - their bodies couldn't meet but their souls did types (Did someone say DDLJ?).

A soul of one such immortal in death loverboy would have shed many a tear. After all the Meerut Police have given him a bad name.

Codenamed 'Operation Majnu' policemen and women with nothing better to do (the crime scene had already deteriorated beyond their control) descended upon unsuspecting couples (not necessarily cupid struck) in a city park. How much may we curse television news - the footage beamed across the nation left all sane minded citizens disturbed. Not because of any high expectations from the police force, but their crude behaviour - which we witness daily on city streets - looked even more despicable on national television. The powers that be also took note. The khaki clad 'upholders of the law' have since been brought to book.

Love is a dangerous practice. Since the heart knows no logic, love birds are easy prey to the hawks of the moralistic society.

With cities cramped for space, restrictive parents at home, restaurants demanding their pound of flesh - where do lovelorn couples meet? In places public but yet a little secluded to allow a little intimate comfort. Bombay's Bandstand, Victoria Memorial in Calcutta or Safdarjung's Tomb in Delhi.

Lovers are an innocent lot, whatever they do is to each other and do not otherwise disturb the well-being of the society. On the other hand, our religious zealots have sworn to make every occasion an extravagent affair. Temples supposedly provide peace to the soul, but the ones surrounding my humble abode is slowly but surely turning me into a vengeful freak.

Give lovers a little space, that's all that they need. Some respect and a little understanding. We don't need no Romeo-Juliet, Heer-Ranjha, Shereen-Farhad or Laila-Majnu. We need DDLJ. Who doesn't like happy endings. Even the pyar ke dushman policewale do.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Of Boys and Buxom Babes

Of late I have been observing a debate on the blog arena regarding the enabling/disabling of comments on one's blog. Some even find the comment moderation thing a little out of tune with the melody of the World Wide Web. They have their reasons and I mine.

What makes a weblog different from your dear diary is that it is your 'personal' space but in public view. You've put up a blog because you want people to read and reread it. If not, your hard disk should suffice. And when people will read it, they will form some impressions and also have questions. The comments give us the opportunity to evaluate our impressionability and ponder over the points raised.

I look at it that way. Appreciation lifts up the sagging spirits and the occasional disparagement lets me know if I'm going wrong somewhere. Both help in making the entire experience more enriching.

An unknown girl had an observation on the last post. What's this thing about boys and buxom babes? She asked.

We always take it for granted that men will be attracted to women, well-endowed ones - more so (ignoring alternative sexualities of course). I'd like to put the entire blame on the hormone called testosterone and conclude with the adage 'Men will be men.' The great father of psychoanalysis, the reverend Sigmund Freud had some observations on this, but always not entirely agreeable.

The practice of men 'sizing up' women superficially, does not seem to please all. In this split-second world, there's little scope to venture any deeper (no pun here, you dirty minds). Porn is a big industry and city supplements of leading dailies are splashed with glossy pictures of alluring women in various stages of undress. Lets face the fact - Sex Sells and sells big. But it cannot substitute substance. Else the sleaze-shows would have a field day and a Microsoft like monopoly.

Sigmund FreudBut this is not an exclusive masculine phenomenon; women do it big time and easily outdo men. Hence the problem (if you'd like to term it that) lies not with the males alone, but the entire human species. In fact even the birds and the bees behave in a similar fashion. Then nature is to be blamed. But Mother Nature - the all giving and all loving - couldn't have possibly got it that wrong. Nature follows no man-made morals, and it's natural for boys to peer at buxom babes and the babes to focus their optics on the handsome hunks. Clothes are also manmade and hence hamper the natural scheme of things, the relative absence of them make things a little better. But their presence raises curiosity and man is a curious mammal. Hence, whenever and wherever the hidden wonders of the world are revealed, there is always a crowd of curious onlookers.

I'm after all a humble human being, can't possibly go against the inviolable laws of nature. I toe the line; I follow my instincts.

The comment behind this post:

>>No diary and no buxom babe

chi. what is it with guys and them reading/checking out women and stuff.

i mean, its almost like its a sign of their masculinity when you hear/read of how men found a certain pic "fit" or whatnot.

The Sun - has anyone heard of it? Its a uk based newspaper which has a topless page 3 model. i believe its the best selling paper there is.

i how/why?!?! does it show how little theyre getting it in person or whatever? what do you get out of looking at anothers private parts. can anyone explain this to me? (i understand its open ended, and if there are replies deemed too rude for my liking, i guess i shall ignore and not return!)

sorry about..erm..that soumadip. if its offensive, please delete, otherwise im genuinely curious with no disrespect intended to anyone.

P.S. Deleting comments is not my forte. It's only spam and the decidedly delirious ones that come close to my axe.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Outlook of India Today

India Today and Outlook
Selling a magazine to me is easy. Any of the following prefixes: Collector's, Special or Anniversary, assures atleast one eager buyer. I even bought 'specials' of women magazines. It's not that I don't enjoy reading them, but feminine stuff are more fun borrowed than bought.

First came Outlook with its mammoth 330 page 'Tenth Anniversary Mega Issue' (October 17, 2005). I was barely through with it that India Today realised that it has been three decades of its existence on the newsstands. And as if in a show of one-upmanship the otherwise less pompous sounding 'Anniversary Issue' (December 26, 2005) counted 384 pages outdoing its youthful rival by a margin of 54 pages.

Needless to say Vinod Mehta makes for a better read than Aroon Purie, otherwise both anniversary issues demand an equal read. India Today with a treasure trove of historical tidbits and Outlook's contemporary reflections.

Both anniversary issues are a must have. At Rs. 15 (Outlook) and Rs. 20 (India Today) how much better can it get?

I grew up with India Today and Outlook was a conscious choice as an adult. Both are politics crazy, Outlook overzealously cricket crazy and both seasonally sex crazy.

I still remember the first issue of Outlook. My brother visibly proud of his 'discovery,' threw it across to me and said, "Its good." The IPKF fiasco in Sri Lanka is the earliest I can trace back my affair with India Today.

Both magazines I read back forwards. Outlook for its Diaries and India Today for the eye-catching Eyecatchers.

Old habits led me to do the same with the anniversary issues, but it was disappointing. No diary and no buxom babe.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Deja Vu @ the Call Centre

Anthony's post led to the acquisition of this book. Coincidentally purchased when fanatics were bursting bombs elsewhere in Delhi. Chetan Bhagat's second coming - One Night @ the Call Centre (Rupa & Co. Rs. 95) is nothing much to write about, even 50 days post reading. But there were parts, which stayed. Not for any literary brilliance but déjà vu.



Yes, you see it in the movies, you hear it from friends' friends but it never happens to you.When I was younger, I used to look at the reservation chart stuck outside my train bogie to check out all the female passengers near my seat (F-17 to F-25 is what I'd look for most). Yet, it never happened. In most cases I shared my compartment with talkative aunties, snoring men and wailing infants.


When girls call a guy 'teddy bear' they just mean he is a nice guy but they will never be attracted to him. Girls may say they like such guys, but teddy bears never get to sleep with anyone. Unless of course their moms hunt the neighbourhood for them.


'We get paid well, fifteen thousand a month. F**k, that is almost twelve dollars a day. Alas, I make as much a day as a US burger boy makes in two hours. Not bad for my college degree. Not bad at all. F**king nearly double of what I made as a journalist anyway.'


Settled? The words rewound and repeated itself in my head several times. What does it mean anyway? Just someone rich, or someone who gets predictable cash flows at the end of every month. Except parents do not say it that way because it really sounds like they're trading their daughter to the highest bidder. But in some ways they are. They do not give a damn about love or feeling or crap like that. 'Show me the money and keep our daughter for the rest of your life.' That is the arrangement of arranged marriage.


Now this is something women never have to deal with: standing next to your boss in the toilet as he pees is one of the world's most awkward situations. What are you supposed to do? Leave him alone or give him company and entertain him? Is it okay to talk to him while he is doing his business or not?


Not because they are better people. But because their country is rich and ours is poor. That is the only damn reason.


... 'life gets to you. You think you are perfectly happy - you know. good salary, nice friends, life is a party - but all of a sudden, in one little snap, everything can crack, like this stupid pane of the Xerox machine.'


I am constantly amazed at the ability of women to calm down. All they need to do is talk, hug and cry out for ten minutes - and then they can face any of life's crap.


Apart from blonde threesomes, I think hitting your boss is the ultimate male fantasy.


How did women manage before mirrors were invented?


'An air-conditioned sweatshop is still a sweatshop. In fact, it is worse, because nobody sees the sweat. Nobody sees your brain getting rammed,' ...


We passed by several advertising hoardings showing all kinds of people: a couple all smiles because they had just bought a toothbrush ... a young graduate jumping with joy, clutching a credit card ... All the ads had one thing in common. Everyone looked incredibly happy.


What is it about music that it makes you remember things you prefer to forget.


'Search. That is what we can do: Google will be our detective ...'

And one last one from the Acknowledgements

My one particular ex-boss. My life when I worked for him was living hell, and was probably the worst phase of my life. I used to wonder why this was happening to me. Now I know. Without that experience I would not have done this book. Thank you Mr Ex-boss for making me suffer. On the same note, I want to thank all the women who rejected me (too many to name here). Without them, I would not have known the pain of rejection.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Hazy Shade of Winter

A Hazy Shade of Winter (Shillong)Yesterday, after a hard day's night (amongst many other things I also managed to fall into a manhole) I sat before my newly resurrected PC (it went dead again) and thought of compensating for the small fortune I spent on bringing this once-luxury-now-necessity piece of electronics back to life. But everything went blank. I felt so diminutive. The vastness and vivacity of the blogosphere and the realisation that I am but a mere speck in there took away whatever inclination I had to share my views and opinions with the world online. Does anyone even care? Is there anybody listening? I know that a few might but most importantly I do. And therefore I still blog.

I don't know why, but I feel that this song speaks about me.

I am a Rock

A winter's day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don't talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armour,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

~Simon & Garfunkel

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Friday, December 16, 2005

War Has No Winners

Pakistani Tank from the 1971 Indo-Pak War, on display at the State Central Library, Shillong
December 16, 1971: Lt. Gen. AAK Niazi, supreme commander of Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, surrenders to the Allied Forces (Mitro Bahini) represented by Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora of Indian Army. Bangladesh gains independence.

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Counting Feathers of the Opposite Kind

Birds appeal to many of the human species. I too am not unimpressed by their vibrant feathers, graceful flight and melodious calls. A big favourite especially amongst aged politicians, lovebirds and peaceniks is the dove. The doves, rather their larger and stockier cousins - pigeons are out to destroy the very peace of my mind.

One of these afternoons I might just declare war, catch hold of a few of them and seal the very outlets through which they drop evidences of their presence on my laboriously washed white tees. They do it every Sunday. Somebody stop me!

Before I'm hauled up for even imagining to perform any such M-Seal act on the 'innocent' birds, let me move on to birds of a different feather. The watching of whom is a refined art. An art which roadside romeos have reduced to below the levels of calendar kitsch. These eve teasers make the real connoisseurs of the practice a little reluctant.

If it were not for the appreciative eyes, the female kind wouldn't have spent zillions of wow-man hours in preening themselves.

The trick is to look, but not to ogle. I-found-these-on-my-cleavage-are-these-your-eyeballs types give bird watching a bad name.

The attractor should feel that she's being noticed (not watched), but only to an extent where she doesn't feel uncomfortable. An appreciative glance tells her that the effort hasn't gone in vain. But guys (and also girls) keep shifting your focus. Don't concentrate too much on a single specimen. You never know - you might fall in love - and that takes the fun out of bird watching. There is so much beauty out there waiting to be appreciated.

Bird watching is not flirting; it's all about appreciation sans the vocal expression. It's a play of the eyes and the body language. Possessive, abusive and other negative traits have no space in this rewarding vocation. The reward here is that you made someone feel good.

Stalkers keep out! And you droolers put that tongue behind those stained teeth.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

India Inspired

Comedy was and will remain the primary motive (TB6 has been off the coaxial-cable for quite some time now) behind my occasional presence before a box infamous for producing more idiots than the big bad country far away.

Yesterday (my troubles didn't seem far away), I chanced upon yet another inspired indigenous imitation of a money-minting television show. Lo Kal Lo Baat on SAB TV has more than a striking resemblance with the 'stand-up comedy and game show' hybrid Whose Line is it Anyway? Though SAB TV prefers the adjective 'improvisation comedy.'

Saurabh Shukla steps into Drew Carey's shoes, which appear to be a size or two bigger (their waist sizes might match). The show's so-so and the vibrant spontaneous humour of the original couldn't be replicated.

Shekhar Suman tickled late night Indian television with Movers n Shakers in a manner not much deviating from the style of Jay Leno (with a pinch of Conan O'Brien). Anupam Kher's attempted to find out whether Indian kids also say the darndest things as they do in the US of A. His childishly titled show Say Na Something to Anupam Uncle drove both adults and kids away.

A television generation ago there was Zaban Sambhal Ke which translates into 'Mind Your Language'. I don't want this post to turn into a directory of 'Inspired Indian Shows.' But the directory - if there exists one - would be voluminous.

A few are 'authorised' versions exist like KBC and Indian Idol (though not exactly from the comedy genre, the latter does come close) else most remain cheap imitations.

Our movies have been doing this for ages, our television is a mere reflection of the silver screen, research scholars do it, our newspapers are doing it ... getting INSPIRED.

Waiting for a future post titled - 'India Inspires' (not anything to do with spirituality or yoga).

P.S. The term 'plagiarism' is too offensive for our native sensibilities, we prefer the more politically correct terminology - 'inspiration.'

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Golf Links

Golf Links, Shillong
Never played any golf on these famed greens, only a lot of cricket. Wikipedia mentions that it is called the 'Glen Eagle of the East' (I know almost nothing about golf outside the PC games and maybe Tiger Woods, Jyoti Randhawa and others who feature in the sports pages). This wettest 18-holed beauty (no pun intended) is over a century old, established in 1898 (only 9 holes then) and converted to its present 18-hole glory in 1924.

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A Sting Well Stung

Banks and finance companies are after my life offering loans for almost everything. I have so far managed to shoo their offers away. But with the revelation of the ridiculously low amounts for which an elected representative to the highest legislative body of the nation can be bought, makes me think twice. Do they have an MP/MLA scheme?

The Cobrapost-Aaj Tak sting 'exposing' our 'esteemed' Members of Parliament accepting petty bribes to table questions in the Parliament did not shock me. Neither did other citizens of nation India hold their heads in disbelief. Everyone is well aware of the dark dealings in the dungeons of Delhi. What was shocking was that the nincompoops fell for the measly but cleverly disguised bait laid out by Aniruddha Bahal and company.

Good job guys! You deserve that pat on your backs. The Shakti Kapoor saga had put many of us (who assume themselves to be of a higher figure than the lowest common denominator) of the seductions of satellite TV sting.

The modus operandi resembled the famous Tehelka exposé, but this time around Aniruddha showed more acumen. His 'victims' included all the varieties of nangas in the hamam cutting across the circumference of the parliament. This ensures some security from a repeat of the 'Tehelka witch-hunt' and Mr. Bahal will remain on the airier side of the bars.

Many journos will now tell you that they knew about slimy parliamentarians for ages. But it wasn't they, but the Cobrapost guys who took the risk and put out the laundry to public washing. A jouno pal tells me that Aaj Tak has washed off its sins accumulated by the trespassing incident (where a reporter walked into the Big B's ICU) by airing this exposé.

What is most appreciative about this whole operation is that even though it was conducted over a period of eight months they ensured that the word didn't leak out (if you ignore Shivam Vij dropping a vague hint or two. Or was it my imagination?). The team did their homework well and this reflects in the headlines of dailies throughout the nation.

The Indian media, which was for long reluctant to give any recognition to the competition, as a aftermath of Cobrapost-Aaj Tak for a job well done. Another fallout is the surge in the demand for 'sting detectors and jammers' in the market.

One question, which remains in my mind, is why was the operation codenamed 'Duryodhan?' I might have missed the explanation somewhere or forgot my mythology. Can someone throw some light?

Legislators for so long have been traded like horses for attaining that magic majority in the house. But Rs. 10,000 will not get you a decent horse, a mule maybe or atleast a thoroughbred (read elected) ass.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Elephant Falls

Elephant Falls, Shillong
Elephant Falls, Shillong
Elephant Falls, Shillong
"Shillong. But where are the waterfalls?" I was expecting this question, but thankfully am posting these before anyone got the opportunity to do so.

This one is the most popular of them all. Don't ask me why is it called so? Supposedly it resembles an elephant or some part of the giant mammal's anatomy - but honestly I could never figure that out.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Ward's Lake

Ward's Lake, Shillong
Ward's Lake, Shillong
Ward's Lake, Shillong
Ward's Lake, Shillong
For those who came in late...

A bored Khasi prisoner was desperate to go out of his cell. The warden asks him to dig holes and fill them up again. Our prisoner was a happy man. Digging holes and filling them up (our government also functions in a similar fashion). As luck would have it, he hit a natural spring. And a whole lake had to dug and a garden developed around it (though there's no evidence suggesting that he did it all on his own). He got no credit for it and the place was named after Sir William Ward, the Chief Commissioner of Assam (1893-94). (Shillong used to be the capital of Assam from 1874 to 1972. Then Meghalaya became a separate state). This place remains a favorite haunt of lovers, suicidal individuals/couples, tourists and morning walkers alike.

I'm unofficially trying to boost Meghalaya's economy. Don't have the cash to set up industries (or other money minting ventures) there. Atleast I'll try to attract some fat-wallet tourists. The tourism ministry doesn't seem to be doing much.

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What's There in a Name? Lots

The rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but it wouldn't sound the same. Nor will it be able to incite the same memories and sensations that we associate with the particular sound. Try hippopotamus instead of rose.

We found it amusing when Mohan on losing a bet changes his name to 'Chiman Lal Charlie' in that SBI ad (though I disagree with the 'Surprisingly SBI' part). Numerological assurances might have reassured our 'celebrities' of their newfound misspelt names. But our cities are no success-crazy page-three-types or stupid betters.

Bombay became Mumbai; Madras was renamed Chennai and Calcutta, Kolkata. Now the Karnataka government is contemplating calling Bangalore by a new name - Bengaluru (the town of boiled beans).

Most that I interact with still prefer the erstwhile 'colonial' names to the 'indigenous' ones. The Telegraph datelines still read CALCUTTA. Ask someone in Delhi for directions to Indira Chowk - only a few will be able to guide you to Connaught Circus. Connaught Place for all Delhiites (and others) is still CP, notwithstanding the government's directives. The shop signboards and maps reflect this fact. Only the Metro Station says 'Rajiv Chowk.'

How much we may superficially abhor our colonial legacy - the names that the British had coined had a cosmopolitan and all-inclusive feel about them. The renaming suggests - 'for locals only, outsiders beware' - something out of context with the trend of the present world economy.

The name 'Delhi' has thankfully still not ignited any such renaming endeavours. But one can never be sure - New Delhi can morph into 'Nai Dilli' irrespective of linguistic differences. "We the people of Bharat ..." might begin the preamble.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Beyond Religion...

Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, Shillong
All Saints Church, Shillong

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Resurrection of the PC and Excerpts from a Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Hindi and Urdu Phrasebook
The PC had seemingly conked off, the only sign of life it showed was through incessant long beeps. After some speculation we (my roomie and me) interpreted it as an indication of undetected RAM. But multiple reinserting of the RAM bought forth no results. The beeps continued. Frustrated, we gave up. I screwed the cover back and feared for the cost. Then suddenly, without any intervention on our part, the blessed thing sprung back to life. Thank whosoever. But now I forgot what I wanted to write about. Anyway, I'll save that for a later date (in case I recall).

I usually enjoy reading travel guides, especially about the places I know relatively well. It provides a different perspective of the places we reside in. This is a sequel to that. Lonely Planet's Hindi and Urdu Phrasebook (another Daryaganj acquisition. Rs. 10 only) has some little gems. Sample these:


India produces more films than any other country, which suggests watching movies is a popular pastime. A successful film is also described as 'very powerful' while an unpopular film is often described as 'putrid and rotten.'

a successful and very powerful film
bahut zabardast
dhasu pikchar

an unpopular, 'putrid and rotten film
sari gali film


Particularly miserly people are sometimes referred to as:

kanjus makkhi chus

which literally means 'miser, fly sucker!' This means that a person is so miserly that if a fly were to fall into their tea, they would suck the tea from it before tossing it away!


The term 'sacred cow' (an institution, idea, person unreasonably held to be above questioning and criticism) comes from the respect cows receive by Hindus in India. It is not uncommon to see them meandering aimlessly through busy intersections and city streets. However, shopkeepers are not adverse to giving them a sharp whack if they take advantage of their elevated status and audaciously try to consume produce without paying for it.


The extremely useful adjectival suffix -vala is freely used in Hindi and Urdu and has come into English as 'wallah,' In fact there is hardly any word that may not be followed by -vala. It can be roughly translated as 'one who does...' or 'the one which is...'

So bloggers are simply blogwallahs.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Badal Gaya Hain Hindustan

HT's Hindi sibling, Hindustan has undergone a much-hyped makeover. Have a look.

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St. Edmund's College - Since 1923

St. Edmund's College, Shillong

St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong
St. Edmund's College, Shillong

Update: April, 18, 2006

Links to more photographs and a video of St. Edmund's College, Shillong are available here [Goodies for Edmundians]

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