Sunday, October 29, 2006


# I watched Sholay. Finally. Yeah, all you people who gaped in disbelief when I said I haven’t yet seen it, and all of you who said my life so far was a waste because I hadn’t watched it – I have finally seen Sholay.

# How can a plywood company advertise itself with the slogan “Powered by nature”? Cutting down trees is being powered by nature? Saw that ad on an auto.

# How many lifetimes will I take to visit every city, every town, every village in the world? See all the great rivers, see all of India, the rain forests, the European countryside, the beaches of the Caribbean. Oh and, who will sponsor me for this world tour?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


In your school days, were you told that you should make it a practice to read the newspaper editorial everyday in order to improve your language? I was. But I hardly read any. First, because they were immensely boring; and second, because I hardly understood what they were getting at. I still don’t, and for pretty much the same reasons :)

Anyway, now I have more reason not to read them. This is from Jyoti Sanyal’s Indlish – The Book for Every English-Speaking Indian. Sanyal was with The Statesman for 30 years, and was later the dean of Asian College of Journalism when it was in Bangalore. Anyway, after pointing out some really badly written editorials – one from “Bangalore’s leading daily” and the other from “a Karnataka daily” (not difficult guesses which these are) – he laments how the Victorian model of writing seen in these edits trickles down to children. He says:

And the moral of all this: teachers, please stop crippling children with crude didactic essays of the Victorian model; parents, never encourage your children to read those repulsive Victorian-vintage editorials in English-language newspapers.


Monday, October 16, 2006


When I was a child, a lot of our not-so-long-distance travelling was done by the state transport buses. And later when the rail lines came, some of it by train too. One’s only pass time in a bus was to either sleep or watch in a daze as the landscape whooshed by.

It was utter joy, to press my cheek to the thin iron railings across the window of the bus and feel the wind try to rip my head off. The strong metallic smell of the railings would stick on to me for a few hours. The feel of the wind on my face would stay on for a few minutes. Though the route would be the same each time, the places we rushed through always looked different. There would be something new to gape at each time. The black tarmac, fringed by white sand or red gravel depending on where we were, followed by dense green, followed by sun flecked sky. That is the lasting memory of those journeys along the highway, though blurred because that was how I would see them through the window.

Distances have shrunk. Earlier, a one-and-a-half-hour journey to the neighbouring district was a long one – one packed clothes and tooth brush into an overnight bag, one looked up bus timings, the journey would be tiring. Now, you wake up in the morning, decide to go make a visit, hop into the car, think nothing of the one hour because it is probably as much time as you would take on your daily commute between office and home, and are back home by evening.

The whole reason I started on this when-I-was-a-child trip is because it seems incredulous to me that children these days seem to have no interest in looking out the window and just looking at things. The minute the engine wakes up and the vehicle moves, they are bored. “Let’s play a game, I am bored, give me something to eat, I am bored, are we there yet, I am bored.” Look out, look at all the pretty sights, look at the people! I can still gape out for hours, I still stick my head out to feel the wind, I still love to watch the road fly away beneath the wheels.

Last day, stuck in a traffic jam, we watched the people in the car next to us watch videos on the LCD screen hanging in the car in place of the rear-view mirror. I watched in disgust – bad enough that people go on holidays to exotic locations only to get there and watch TV, now they need to be staring at a screen even when travelling around city. But S watched with much interest, and said, We should also have a DVD player in our next car, that way our kids won’t get bored when we are going somewhere. I let out a silent scream, but S didn’t even notice the look on my face, he concentrated on the traffic. Wonder how many arguments lie ahead!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Punctured spellings

You know these small puncture fixing shops that one finds on roadsides? If anyone ever sees puncture spelt right on the boards of such shops anywhere, please send me a picture. I am yet to see one with the correct spelling. I have seen everything from "panjar", which was in Chennai, to a slightly better "puncher" in Bangalore.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Karnataka shut down today. State-wide bandh. It's been a long time since there's been a bandh. Probably because back home, there was at least one bandh every month at one point. When there were too many bandhs, the court banned bandhs in the state. How can a concept be banned? It is not like banning smoking, is it? So people assumed that it was only the word that was banned and introduced hartals, which at some long-ago point had meant that shops supporting the cause would remain closed while vehicles would ply and offices would function as usual. But once bandh was "banned", hartal became the new bandh. So the court went ahead and banned the hartal. But the same bandh continues under various different names. I am not keeping track, don't know what its latest name is.

Anyway, there was a bandh here today. From last night, the roads have been dotted with police vans and bus-loads of the rapid action force. And today, deserted roads, closed shops and offices. All by force, isn't it? If given a choice, how many of us would have stayed indoors? How many shops and offices would have remained closed if they were given a choice? But in a bandh, there is nothing called a choice, at least not anymore. If you are not a hospital or a newspaper office and yet you are open, we will shatter your glass facade. If you are not an ambulance or a press vehicle, we will stone you. If you as much as dare touch the shutter of your shop, we'll beat you up.

How can a handful of people and their decision to paralyse life affect the collective psyche so much? How can they put fear into minds so that we would much rather sympathise with the cause (by force, let me add) and stay at home rather than go out and carry on with life?

I want to protest against bandhs. Someone tell me how.

Oh by the way, one good thing came out of the day's shut-down in the city -- the traffic police got the road markings re-painted!