Saturday, September 30, 2006

Gandhigiri update

In Bangalore this time. A teacher and her students are flooding a difficult tenant with flowers and cards. Good days for the florists. :)

This car is backing up

When will it occur to someone that these backing-up music of cars/lorries/vans/bullock carts must be banned?

I wake up everyday to a medley of this irritatingly high-pitched noise. A truck in the neighbouring compound trying ot get itself out. See, it is a large empty ground. I have not yet discovered why the truck's driver needs to shift to reverse gear so many times to get it out of there. And each time, the Airtel jingle is flung out into the world. Why isn't AR Rehman protesting? Doesn't he realise how bad his tune sounds when it comes at as a sad string of beeps through loud and jarring speakers? Anyway, if that doesn't wake me up, there is plenty of choice. As in, I can choose what music irritates me the most and wake up to that. Because shortly will follow a version of Neele neele ambar par. Which will be followed by two other versions of the Airtel jingle. And then will come the Happy birthday song. Which will be followed by Raghupati raghava raja ram and Vandemataram. Why bother about anniversaries of songs and Gandhi Jayantis and so on? We can sing it everyday as many times as we want to reverse! So anyway, all these songs play in the morning, in this sequence, everyday. And in reverse order at night. What joy.

Oh, at 4 this morning I was treated to a Tamil song. I hope that car doesn't decide to stay on in this area.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A close shave

Logic is a powerful tool; it can be used to discern and to discover truth. Sometimes though, this tool falls into the hands of those who would abuse it. I would not abuse it as my logic is nothing to write home about. Or may be due to a lack of logic I might be abusing it unknowingly!

I read this paradox of the Barber recently which incidentally is attributed to the British philosopher Bertrand Russell.

The barber paradox asks us to consider the following situation:

In a village, the barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself, but no one else.
The question that prompts the paradox is this:

Who shaves the barber?

No matter how we try to answer this question, we get into trouble.

If we say that the barber shaves himself, then we get into trouble. The barber shaves only those who do not shave themselves, so if he shaves himself then he doesn’t shave himself, which is self-contradictory.

If we say that the barber does not shave himself, then problems also arise. The barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself, so if he doesn’t shave himself then he shaves himself, which is again absurd.

Both cases, then, are impossible; the question ‘Who shaves the barber?’ is unanswerable.

Perplexed and confused?

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Who ever thought that Gandhian principles would get such a peppy new avtaar in the 21st century?! When watching Lage Raho Munnabhai, I wondered if the film would make a difference to people, whether they would leave the theatre and actually think of putting into practice the lovable Bhai’s style of protest. There’s this bit where one of the characters is talking about how Munnabhai’s radio show is catching on, and how people are voluntarily washing off walls when someone spits. And I thought, yeah it’s a film, they can say these things will happen, but off the silver screen it is never going to happen.

But now, look at all the buzz around Gandhigiri. People are protesting with roses. It has lead to discussions among youngsters and is apparently inspiring them. The word has taken over the headlines – ‘PM pleads for Gandhigiri at NAM’, ‘After Munnabhai, America takes to Gandhigiri’, and so on. No, they are not talking about the film, only about maintaining and promoting peace. And if you want to read all articles on Gandhigiri, there is even a dedicated website. And of course, when something is this popular, someone has to protest.

That apart, I met someone last week who thought that the entire film was a long Congress campaign. The minute Gandhi appeared on the screen, the idea fixed itself in his head, and he couldn't even sit through the film. He left during interval. That was a new perspective for me, though now I am wondering why I didn't think of it that way!

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's in the way you play it

When one listens to great guitarists and drummers, the one thing that strikes you most is the originality of the sound. I've grown up listening to artists who made it big just by their sheer individual brilliance - Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis and later also went solo as a drummer), Stanley Clarke (Bass Guitar), Al De Meola (awesome jazz guitarist) to name a few. Also bands like Grateful Dead have influenced my tastes in music a lot. Jerry Garcia of Dead is an amazing songwriter and a fabulous guitarist in his own right.

All these guys had one thing in common, they developed thier own style and worked on their trademark sound. The "feel" with which these guys play their instruments is the major difference between a great musician and a wannabe one.

Talking of individual sound and style of play, check this video out.
Allow the video to buffer fully before it plays out entirely- As soon as the link opens, click the Play/Pause button and allow it to buffer fully. Then click the same button to play. Don't let it buffer in between, you will only kill the magic that is Music.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Yeah, its taken a long time to start. Better late than never.
I was on leave today and my assignments for the day were to get the car ready for our weekend jaunt and also to get done with the road tax for Sav's bike.

I get to the RTO and am immediately swamped by agents who sensed a deal looking at the TN registered scooter. Saar!, DL aah?, Tax aah, kannada gottha?( do you know kannada?). I cut short their aahs and oohs and quickly run upto the 3rd floor where the Road Tax section is.

Can you believe that all the Forms that you are supposed to fill up are in Kannada? I flip the page hoping for a English version.None. Ive learnt to read and write kannada ever since ive been in school and have been comfortable with it but just imagine the plight of a non kannaidga in that RTO?
I look around and immediatley spot numerous (at least 15 of them ) non-kannidagas holding the same Form, with confused looks on their faces. Not to mention, the agents were milling around them offering their service to interpret the form. Of course you can fill it up in English only if you know what the form demands in the first place.

I decided to fill up the form in Kannada to the last "Camma" and "Full Staap" including the Insurance Policy Number which incidentally was a 15 digit number!!. After a job well done, i submit my form to the officer in charge. He glances through the form, muttering under his breath, doodling something on the form with a red ink pen,lowers his glasses down the ridge of his nose, frowns and hissed at me: "YAAKRI, NUMBER KANNADA DALLI BARDIDEERA??" (Why have you written the number in kannada, i say?). The poor soul probably didnt have a clue about kannada numerals!

Ah! Bliss, i was waiting for this moment. I calmly replied :"Form Kannada Dalli idey Saar!" ( The Form is in kannada). I think he lost it, more so because i was wearing a Che Guevara Tee and hadnt taken my shades off!. He made me write the whole form in English and resubmit. I didnt have a problem with that.

Tax paid. Sav khush. Me too Khush ( having gotten back at them - quite"literally")

What is the point in having the form in Kannada? Is it to help the agents make a quick buck? Is it the "Namma Kannada" cam"pain"? Is it an apathy towards Non kannadigas? ...i dont get the drift.

i promise to write soon again .....Until then...Cheers!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The network follows

There is this new ad by Airtel. You must've seen it. Three girls sitting in a tent and arguing over what they want to see on the phone -- news, songs or movie clips. And then one of the girls walks out before the phone starts ringing. We see that the tent is perched on a hill top, overlooking a river and a green bank, with a blue sky above.

I suppose they are trying to say that wherever you are the network is there, blah blah. But the message I got was that even in such a beautiful setting, on what seemed a bright, sunny and beautiful day, the tech savvy young generation would rather stay indoors and watch film songs on their phones.

Now my problem is, is that only the warped imagination of the advertisers or is that how things are? Why, why, why in the world would you take the trouble of going on a trek, or on a vacation, only to watch TV (Or in this case, film clippings on the phone)?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Railway station

There is this railway station I keep visiting in my dreams. It is a strange station, and I have never really seen one like that. A road runs through its centre. So if you need to get from Platform No.3 to Platform No.4, you have to cross a road, a narrow but busy one.

The contexts have always been different, but the station is always the same. Sometimes it's me missing the train. Sometimes it is me trying to catch a connecting train at that station. Once it was me running after a goods train. Once I was looking for my family in different trains. Once I was getting out of the train to buy tea. But it is always the same station, with the cacophony of blaring horns replacing the usual sounds of a railway station. And almost always, I would have to tackle the road traffic too.

I don't want any interpretations on this one, just let me know if you come across a station like that. :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Being a journalist

What is this thing about being a journalist that makes you want to remain one? Four years into the profession and I can think of a hundred reasons why one shouldn't follow this path. Indefinite working hours, no fixed weekly day-off, daily deadlines, and poor pay for starters. (All this of course, assuming we are talking about a daily general newspaper. So stop pointing out that I have Sundays off. And by the way, TV is worse)

There are so many other jobs around if you are into the business of words. You could be a content developer or a technical writer for an IT firm and get paid a bomb. You could be into public relations. You could get into corporate communications. What do these bring? Definitely more pay. Five-day weeks. And your evenings are free! Err... Or rather I like to believe that evenings will be free. Even in the worst case, you would get at least a couple of evening free, won't you? You know, there have been times when I've felt lost in my neighbourhood simply because it had been ages since I saw the area in the golden light of evening. Oh to not have to take special permission so I can attend an evening wedding, or a concert...

But yet, journalism has so grown on me. My eyes twinkle when I hear about a job opening as a content developer. And I toy with the idea, I think of the many things I could do if I had a two-day weekend. But all that will last till the next press conference, where I sit and contemplate if I really want to give this up, and the twinkle dies. I sigh and say, oh darn, I love my profession too much to give it up. I wouldn't have a press card anymore. I wouldn't be able talk possessively about the press club anymore. I would have to rip off the "press" sticker that's on my scooter. I wouldn't be able to save San from policemen who nag him for double parking simply by waving my ID card. I wouldn't be able to watch with amusement the different ways in which people react when they ask me what I do and I say "I am a journalist" (Especially the kind who think they are important enough to be quoted and say "Hey, all that I said to you was off the record").

Oh darn. I am never going to have a five-day week, am I?

An open letter

Abhipraya has written an open letter to mothers who have sons. You too may have points to add.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Onam alone

Through the fever-induced fog in my mind, I could hear a far-away voice saying "Happy Onam", and all I could think of was "Is it time to wake up?" That was pretty much the flavour of the day. A numbness to all the celebration happening around.

All the Malayalis seemed to have converged on MG Road today, the women dressed in the lovely cream-and-golden sarees, but all with too many accessories killing the entire essence of simplicity and quiet grandeur that the saree is supposed to represent. The men in dhotis struggling to ride bikes. Abhipraya's comment on it was "Now they know how difficult it is to wear a skirt and ride a bike". Heh!

Anyway, there was such a crowd outside the neighbourhood Malayali restaurant that even at 4 pm, people were waiting outside. A whole lot of people celebrating the festival the best way they could, in a land that doesn't know what the festival is all about, where one doesn't get a holiday for Onam, where one needs to buy plantain leaf for the sadya rather than gathering it from the backyard.

And me? I felt disconnected from the entire thing. I wasn't upset that I wasn't getting a feast. Wasn't motivated into cooking anything nice. Wasn't even motivated into wearing something new and nice.

Someone in office said "She's the modern Mallu -- no cooking, just go out to eat." No that's not it. Who do I cook for? For the husband who left home early morning for a day-long conference anticipating lunch at Leela Palace and dinner at Grand Ashok? I'm not going to do elaborate cooking for just myself.

Someone else in office said "It is Onam, you should be sitting at home. All the better if you are alone, just relax on your own." No, not on Onam. I want people around me. Lots of them. I need to run around, talk loudly, laugh a lot, run in and out of the kitchen to taste various things. So that I can sit down in the evening and put away the memories for a day like today. Because tonight, I sit here alone after a lonely dinner, with the TV on in the background for company, wondering what the day was like back home where the entire extended family got together for Onam. For me, that is what Onam is about -- about being with family, being surrounded by people -- and not the pookkalam or the paayasam or the sadya. That is how it has always been.