Thursday, June 23, 2005

Beyond Imagine

Attended a chilled out recording of Money Mantra on June 7, where Mallika Dutt on behalf of Breakthrough and Anjali Gopalan from the NAZ Foundation were discussing funding for HIV/AIDS programs in India. The NDTV people had also invited a few august troublemakers from AIIMS to be in the audience, who initiated several insightful debates such as how India, as a truly great country, should not need HIV prevention programs: its sprightly, courageous, Swadesi youth can more than handle the tweensy infection on their own. How TB's track record as a killer is more proven and why don't organizations such as ours campaign against TB. How much of the world population is infected with AIIMS [sic].

Well, after the recording was over, Dr. Kapil Yadav from this venerable band gave me his visiting card, which had this, um, song, at the back:

"Imagine all the people living life in good health you may say Im a dreamer, but I am not the only one. I hope some day You'll join us and the world will live as one."
John Lennon
Kapil Yadav


  • Metamorphose into a part-time jobholder.
  • Write your first ghazal.
  • Attend your first writers' group meet.
  • Take your first creative writing (sort of) class.
  • Begin your first radio play.
  • Have several fights with lover.
  • Get engaged.
  • Buy new cushions and cushion-covers and cheer up the living room.
  • Survive Delhi heat by sprinkling liberal doses of water on the floor, mattress, clothes, skin.

That's not too bad post-a marvellous-holiday, is it?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Escape. Delhi. Heat.

Bliss. Cool. Hills.

Yes, I leave for a holiday today and am too worked up to post anything other than, foxily, a note I wrote on the Reader List when gmail first came on the scene:

Agent Gmail

Gmail invites are a bit like Agent Smith, na? Much as you try to eliminate them, hardier varieties spring up.

And what a clever dispersal strategy. Who can humanly resist the exclusivity of an “invitation”? You have to beg/borrow/steal for one, and pass it on, and accept if you get one.

Soon, then, one can foresee a tyrannous reign of gmail accounts – each one spawning a dozen more – and internet human-users helplessly, recklessly opening more and more gmail accounts, sending out more and more SOS invitations, just to keep their inboxes looking non-messy and invite-free…

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Giving Ideas to Copy-leftist Inventors

Books inspire in me a predatory impulse. I crave to usurp them all, to add them to my library, to have them at my beck and call.

In reality, I can xerox only so many books. I can buy only so many shelves. I can’t imagine reading for pleasure on the screen. The thought of reading an e-book makes me quiver with panic.

So, to plant an idea in bravehearts out there who, like me, care for books, feel wolfish about them, and have more tech savoir faire than me:

The world needs a device to zap a book into a chip, and chips back into real books. With a straight spine, pages that can be stroked and patted and thumbed, the smell of words aging better than wine, a shape you can walking, hold comfortingly close to your bosom.

If someone could master this technology, just imagine: I could have thousands of book-chips packed away in a suitcase, all zappable into books whenever I wish to dip into them. Imagine the marketing possibilities!

A device like this could also be part of the government’s literacy drive: in a city like Bombay, where every inch of space goes a long way, the government could in good faith exhort residents to buy and read more books.

Interested, anyone? In funding the research, or becoming a part of the research team, or showing solidarity? Write me.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Baghban: An Incomplete Review

Some films are supremely maddening. I remember watching Baghban on VCD exactly a year ago, and it provoked me enough to begin this invective (and I think it has sufficient bluster and fire to make it enjoyable even in its incompleteness):

The premise is sweet: a nearing sixty couple are so madly in love with each other even forty years of after marriage, that teen-agers find them a bigger inspiration than Laila-Majnu or Heer-Ranjha. Their love story finds a gushing publisher, becomes a blockbuster and bags the “Booker’s Prize”.

So why doesn’t it work as a film? Maybe because it manages to perpetuate, while ostensibly being a movie about two old people, the same stereotypes that almost every successful Bollywood film has flogged till now. A breathtakingly beautiful woman jisne samay ko mutthi mein band kar ke rakha hai, and who is therefore adored by her husband, the patriarch. Saif and Rani, perhaps, forty years hence? What has changed but the wrinkles and the white hair? If the love between a couple married for forty years is shown as still dependent upon her beauty (you may argue that Hema Malini’s good looks are peripheral to the issue, but catch Zohra Sehgal playing the role of Pooja – even a Zohra of thirty years ago), the Hindi film audience would surely lap up the movie, it is so in accord with our candyfloss desires! This, then, is not the reason for the film’s collapse.

Perhaps it is the excessive brand propaganda. Hema with a Tata Tea packet every two minutes in the initial half hour; the “chhoti-moti” company ICICI; the Archies Gallery which is a cafĂ©; the Ford which Amitabh is compelled to test-drive around town. But almost every recent film has done this, and sometimes with less panache, so this is not what gets hackles up either.

It must, then, be the way Amitabh sidelines Hema in conversations: “yeh hamare-tumhare beech mummy kahan se aa gayi?” when their son talks to his mother first about money; removing the receiver from her hands when she is on the phone with another...

This Morning: A Lurid Story

Driving to work. Rush hour traffic. Ring Road. Hundred of cars inching along.

I see a squelched-out rat on the road when it is barely a metre ahead. There's no time, no space to manoeuver, and a second later it is under my wheels.

Doodling an Evening Away

Delhi, May 2005

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Creativity is all Nonsense

Something attributed to John Lennon which so exemplifies the non-rationality of creativity:

"We've learned over the years that if we wanted we could write anything that just felt good or sounded good and it didn't necessarily have to have any particular meaning to us. As odd as it seemed to us, reviewers would take it upon themselves to interject their own meanings on our lyrics. Sometimes we sit and read other people's interpretations of our lyrics and think, 'Hey, that's pretty good.' If we liked it, we would keep our mouths shut and just accept the credit as if it was what we meant all along."

Nivi's Edge

I was startled to see a short story by Nivedita Menon in Lines (“Engagements with ‘At the Water’s Edge’”), and then completely bowled over. This woman is truly amazing. As an academic/activist, no one can match her brilliance and charisma, and when she chooses to fictionalize her “left-secular-democratic” cohorts, an entire incestuous subculture spanning Delhi, Colombo and “abroad” comes to life.