Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Status Quo — A very short story

It was the squeal of a car stopping that woke him up. The sun was already high in the sky. Surprised that his grandmother had not come to wake him up as usual, he slowly got out of his bed and walked into the living room, unprepared for the sight that greeted him.

His grandmother was crying. His grandfather just stood there next to her, trying to console her as they looked out at the bright yellow taxi parked outside their door. The boot of the taxi was open and his father was putting his grandparents’ old trunk and their suitcases in it. Something was not right. His father and mother had a serious look on their faces. No one was speaking a word. His father opened the door for his grandparents to get into the taxi. They just stood there like they didn’t want to leave, his grandmother sobbing, his grandfather stoic.

He ran to his father, “Appa, where are ajja and ajji going?” he asked. His father just held the door open, said nothing. “Appa, appa, please ask then not to go?” His father still said nothing. The taxi stood idling. He ran to this mother as fast as his little feet could carry him, “Amma, where are they going? When will ajja and ajji come back?” She scooped him up in her arms. “Never, Rahul. They are going to a new home. Where they will be happy.” The little boy looked confused. “There is no room for them here. And now that they are really old, we cannot take care of them. Your appa and I don’t have the time. The place they are going to is called an Old Age Home. They will be happier there than here, with old people just like themselves.” his mother continued. The little boy was on the verge of tears. “But we can go visit them once in a way.” his mother said to soften the blow. Realisation dawned on the little one that he would probably never see his beloved grandparents again. He already missed his grandmother’s calloused hands on his cheeks as she woke him up everyday.

He pushed himself away from mother and ran to the taxi just as his grandparents silently got inside the taxi. “Appa, appa, please don’t send ajja and ajji away. Please. I will take care of them. Please appa, don’t send them away. I know they are happy here.” he pleaded. “Don’t create a scene Rahul!” his father said sternly. Hurt, the little boy went and stood next to the taxi’s rear window where his grandmother was waving him goodbye.

He stood there for a while and slowly walked to the driver’s window. “Driver uncle, driver uncle” he called out to the driver, “Please remember where you are taking my ajja and ajji ok? And come here again in thirty years please?”. His father walked up to him, “Thirty years? Why Rahul?”. The little boy sniffed and wiped his tears, “In thirty years, you will also be old. I will also not have time to care of you and amma. You too will be happier with old people than with me. Since driver uncle knows where the Old Age Home is, he can take you there straight.” A crow cawed somewhere in the distance.

The quivering lips slowly formed a smile as the little boy saw his father quietly take out a few notes from his wallet, pay the driver, and open the door of the taxi asking his grandparents to come out. They weren’t going anywhere after all.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fly, You Fools!

I know. Well...it's been a while since The Bekku was updated. Here. From blogging to micro-blogging, from writing to jotting and musing, blogger to twit....has been the scene. Click here for lotsa latest thoughts The Bekku has been thinking recently.

Lots of posts have died at the synaptic link due to sheer laziness, uber-procrastination and mostly the unwillingness to spend more time than is required online. Contrary to popular perception most of my reading is reading pages of dead-tree paper not pixels on the screen. They would anyways have been rants with no worth whatsoever. And a stray post or two about Megan Fox. And science fiction. And Indian politics. Megan Fox. Traditions. The Bekku on The Bekku. Cooking. Thought on Copenhagen the quantum-mechanics talkathon play not the Danish capital. About how you needn’t be funny yourself, but if you forward enough jokes everyday, you will be considered funny. You get the drift. But hopefully there’s a nice one coming soon about Jaron Lanier’s book and why it is a lost cause if at all.

Anyways, in other newses, stumbled on this today: an Indian webcomic!! See how les I know the online world. Saw it today wonly. Some good laughs here. For starters. The ephemeral quintessentially Indian ethos is nicely captured. Have a look at one on The Bekku, selected specially for your viewing pleasure:
doctor, medical help, sex, small penis, dick size, over compensating, car, speaker, traffic, Freud
For more great Fly, You Fools! comics, click on the Savita Bhabhi Obit pic below. Each click will be considered a silent prayer to bringing our favourite fictional Babhi back.
All pix courtesy Fly, you fools.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The global financial crisis in an analogy we can understand

In which The Bekku unashamedly cuts-and-pastes something found on the net, but not without trying to find out its provenance or the original author so it can be attributed but nopes, and in no mood to be dogged. But still, You, yes You! – who thought it and wrote it first – The Bekku thanks you. Now on with the analogy….

Linda is the proprietor of a bar in Cork. In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers - most of whom are unemployed alcoholics - to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around and as a result increasing numbers of customers flood into Linda's bar. Taking advantage of her customers' freedom from immediate payment constraints, Linda increases her prices for wine and beer, the most-consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Linda's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these customer assets into DRINKBONDS, ALKBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then traded on markets worldwide. No one really understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are guaranteed. Nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items. One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager (subsequently of course fired due to his negativity) of the bank decides that slowly the time has come to demand payment of the debts incurred by the drinkers at Linda's bar. However they cannot pay back the debts.

Linda can not fulfill her loan obligations and claims bankruptcy. DRINKBOND and ALKBOND drop in price by 95 %. PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80 %. The suppliers of Linda's bar, having granted her generous payment due dates and having invested in the securities are faced with a new situation. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor. The bank is saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the governing political parties (and vested interests). The funds required for this purpose are obtained by a tax levied on the non-drinkers.

The Bekku concedes that it does not pay to be a teetotaler. Drink up!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What the Bekku has been thinking of for the past few hours

Wordle. Do with it what you will. Click below maadi to see this one and to create your own Wordle....
Wordle: Things running through my mind

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

More Bale

Christian Bale is amongst the last of humankind fighting against a stronger enemy who is hell bent on wiping all vestiges of humanity from the face of the planet. Having always lived and grown up under the shadow of this enemy, he knows a thing or two about the adversary that the other people in the resistance don’t. Christian Bale then meets another man of his own kind who he is suspicious at first and later comes to trust. Many action sequences and CGIs later, this person ends up helping Christian Bale win a decisive battle.

Well by now you would’ve guessed which movie I am talking about. The enjoyable dragon flick Reign of Fire. Imagine how much more fun the movie would’ve been if he had a meltdown or go ranting at the DP during the shooting of RoF.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thank you (also) for the music

Is it purely for the music or is it because of how intrinsically entwined it is with my childhood that I feel so a special connection with the man? I think it is because of the latter closely followed by the former.

Growing up, it was easy to dismiss ‘western music’ as this inexplicable noise and gibberish that as someone with absolutely no knowledge of English or exposure to the outside world I could afford to do. But somewhere between Mukesh and MS there was Michael, this one person who came to epitomize western music for us all – Michael Jackson – be it in gulbarga or karwar or udupi and other such places I spent my childhood in. Exposed to nothing more than Doordarshan and later The World This Week. It is a testimony then to MJ’s influence and worldwide accessibility. For the longest time, he was the only western music I ever knew, as I am sure he was for many of my generation. Those days if anyone said he listened a lot to western music, you could be rest assured he meant that he had one Michael Jackson tape. And that is why his death is that much more saddening. A part of our collective childhood died today, reminding us again of those days gone by when we would listen to Michael Jackson on thrice-recorded audio cassettes. In fact the first english music album I ever owned, a gift from my older cousin, was a copy of MJ’s Dangerous.

He was good. He made us love the unfamiliar. And how. But….Who was he? What was he? We knew nothing but his name. And all songs (the few rather that we knew) were known more by their description of what happened in that particular song than by its name. The attempts to hum the tune to tell the other guy what song you were referring to were as much as the songs themselves. Lyrics were irrelevant, as we didn’t know or speak english. Track names, what’s that? All that mattered was that we were listening to “foreign music”. And having a ball of a time crowded around an old tape recorder, each trying to outdo another in his “understanding” of this weird and unfamiliar yet strangely alluring music. With their fast pace, their dancy tunes, their strange instrumentation and above all, that great voice.

I remember those futile but insanely funny attempts when a few of us school boys tried moonwalking and dancing after seeing MJ do it like only he can. With lots of loose flailing limbs and crotch grabbing in a manner only awkward adolescents can. There was no cable then, no youtube, no DVDs, but a rental Video Cassette (at 10 rupees per day) that we all pooled in with a rupee or two in to see what it was all about. I remember that video cassette also had “that song where the Michael walks on the footpath and the tiles become bright bright as he walks over them”. I clearly remember that day after we watched the video mostly because of all the bruised knuckles and painful fingers we inflicted on ourselves during PT class in a bad, misguided and pale (no-knife) imitation of the Bad video. Total fun. Lots of Iodex was used in many a classmate’s household that night.

In effect that I think is what this is about – it wasn’t just Michael Jackson who died today, but a small, if very significant part of me as well. A part of a childhood lived in a bygone era, unrecognizable today. So selfishly I mourn today as much for that part of me as much as for Michael Jackson. All the artifacts, the little cultural reference points, the shared experiences slowly eroded by death, and fading with the march of time leaving behind the detritus of nostalgia and echoes of the past.

All I can say is I’m glad I lived when I did. And given a choice to redo things, I would still choose to have Michael Jackson as my first tentative step into the world of foreign, western music.

You, me and our friends brought up in that time – we are all those blocks that lit up when Michael Jackson stepped into the days of our lives. Back when.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson and do the moves again on the great dance floor in the sky.

Le roi est mort. Vive le roi.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Half a Manifesto. Full Satisfaction.

Late to the party you may be, but it’s never too late to read Half A Manifesto by the one-and-only Jaron Lanier. He gets it.

And yes, make sure you read the Reality Club comments on the .5 Manifesto and Lanier’s responses to them (links to these are in the page linked above). From people like Bruce Sterling and Lee Smolin to the Dysons.

One of the people who responded to the .5 Manifesto as you will see is a guy called Daniel Dennet. If the name sounds familiar, it is because he is one the lapdogs of none other than Darwin’s Rottweiler, the delusional Dawkins himself. Bleh!

The adaptionists. Sigh. No one's denying it happens, adaption that is, but to call everything an adaption and to say that natural selection is the only agent (even if you call it a filter) of evolution isn't a good or tenable standpoint. And also because the adaptionist programme leads to the invention of not just theories but a whole new (pseudo) science called Sociobiology or Evolutionary Psychology if you prefer. Because Sociobiology is such a bad word. And so is the 'science'. A bunch of just-so stories that make for good cocktail conversation and nothing more. But you can push it and be counted as amongst the world's leading intellectuals you happen to dress well, have a scholarly clique of lapdogs and are good at PR & media management and know how to write literately. You got to give it to these guys. Take a bow Richard Dawkins!

Now would be a good time to re-read Gould and Lewontin's 1979 paper critiquing the adaptationists.

Idiots in a global village

I remember an ad that came out slightly after the Columbine High School shootings. About the myopic measures that it led to with regard to gun control laws. It said something to the effect of “Kid in trench coat comes in to his school, uses semi-automatics and shotguns and kills children. What did we do? Ban trench coats.”

The Australian Government is up to something similar. Indians, students in particular, get beaten, mugged, attacked, victimised. Instead of doing something about the crime, and cracking down on the criminals and admitting that it’s as racist as anything goes, Oz is instead implementing laws that make it tougher for Indian students to get into Australia. By asking for higher IELTS scores and planning on making prospective students showing/having sufficient funds to see them through their study time without having to work. Instead of taking action and ensuring that Indians are protected, they’re preventing them from coming. And our government isn’t helping the cause either. By pussyfooting around the issue and just about grumbling enough to count as a ‘reaction’. What can one really expect from a government that has twits like our esteemed Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor who publicly declares that the attacks on Indian students is purely a domestic issue and there’s nothing India can do about it. When I say twit here I mean it in the sense of someone thoroughly contemptible, not one who twitters (with his foot in his mouth, like the twit mentioned above). Idiots I tell you.

In other news, France wants to ban the burqa. On purely secular grounds. ‘secular’ as it is understood in France, not India. Else it might be taken that Sarkozy is anti-hindu. That’s the thing that should be with ‘secularism’. Not anti anybody or pro anything. Anyways, Sarkozy makes the claim and suddenly the world is up in arms against it. The way a woman dresses and what she chooses to wear should not be dictated by the state. Or anything personal for that matter. I spotted one of the useful idiots of the great Indian intellectual landscape, a lady on not one but two different channels. From being a ‘media person’ on one channel she morphed into a ‘social activist’ on the other. Now this lady is supposedly the face of modern “liberal” Islam. Bleh! Amidst all her railings I can only wonder why no one asks these people why they take such a vocal stand when France does it, but don’t say anything when the whole middle east is telling a woman (and a man) what she should war and not wear. Where the ‘human rights’ that they so trumpet around and uphold on television channels is missing entirely. Like in the case of Roxanne Hillier for example. And this is but the latest of many, and only those that became public. I’m not saying whether Sarkozy is right or not, but how come all this righteous indignation and protests and human rights goobledock and individual freedom of expression speeches are not targeted towards countries that run on Islamic law? Not that running a country by Islamic is wrong per se, but it’s just that everyone knows how liberal or uplifting or free these Islamic laws can be. Idiots I tell you.

Speaking of Islam, spotted hoardings around the city with Obama’s smiling mug on them for some organization handing out free copies of the Koran should you be interested. The ostensible reason is that you might be interested in knowing why Obama is quoting from the Koran. And Obama himself is playing to the field, putting the ‘Hussein’ back in Barack Hussein Obama. Wonder how many people still cling to the illusion that Obama becoming President of the US of A is a step forward for negro, I mean black, I mean African-american emancipation/equality, end of racism etc. Black skin white masks I tell you. Each day and article I read just reaffirms (to me at least) that the very fact that Obama got elected means that racism is well and alive and kicking. And kicking is what the racist Australians are doing to our people down under. Idiots I tell you.

And just for the sake of symmetry, let me end with a story I remember hearing an american theater actor whose name escapes me. On his first visit to Australia he was apparently stopped at the Immigration Counter and after a while an Oz officer came up to him, checked his papers, etc. and sternly asked him, “Any criminal records?” And the actor replied, “Oh! That’s still the essential requirement to be an Australian, is it?”

Monday, June 15, 2009


All it’s lacking is Bones McCoy kneeling beside a Redshirt and saying, “He’s dead Jim.” And maybe Mudd's women. Ok. That’s asking for too much. But when you get a movie that manages to so deeply satisfy the Trekkie in you, isn’t it but natural to wish for more? We’re human after all, not Vulcans. I am of course referring to the new Star Trek movie ‘Star Trek’.

The whole movie was a flat-out rollercoaster ride from one ‘set-phasers-to-stun’ moment to the next. Hats, topis and turbans off to J. J. Abrams, and the writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman for finally laying to rest the curse that afflicted all odd-numbered instalments of the franchise. And boy oh boy, how?!!

It’s got all the characters from the original 3-season run of Star Trek, the only true Star Trek if you ask me, coming together ‘for the first time’. And each (new) crew member of the USS Enterprise seems so familiar. Yet another round of applause to the makers of the movie is in order here. I almost fell off my chair when Bones went, “I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” and grinned with glee when Scotty screams that ‘he's giving it all she’s got’. Beeeutiful. The casting is just about perfect. Chris Pine’s Kirk again is familiar yet fresh. It was nice to see ye new Kirk do the olde shatner swagger of ye olde Kirk. The Romulans as the villains was a masterstroke. There was absolutely no way anyone, even the Klingons would’ve done a better job in this role.

And ah yessss.....that pointy-eared hobgoblin. Spock. Zachary Quinto looks like he was born for this role, but no more than Leonard Nimoy who was, is, and shall remain THE Spock. To see Nimoy reprise the role and to play it with such aplomb (again) was so deeply gratifying. Leonard Nimoy rulz! Spock worshippers who say that this movie was really about Spock and to a slightly smaller extent Kirk, with everyone and everything else – including NCC 1701 –being a sub-plot will not be too off the mark.
But let not mine Trekkie sensibilities not put thee off. Because the question you might be asking is....does this movie work by itself, for someone who has absolutely no idea of Star Trek? Absolutely. You can enjoy this film even if you don’t know who or what Pon Farr is. As this news report from ONN will attest to. Watch it to see why this movie is ‘a real slap in the face for Trek fans’.

If pushed into a corner and asked – with a gun to my head – to point out one thing that jarred, it would be that they replaced ‘no man’ with ‘no one’ in ‘where no man has gone before on the big screen, and with Nimoy narrating it, especially when everyhting was going so well. C’mon. Politically correct, gender-neutral language can go and suck on a dozen centaurian slug for all I care. But don’t bother. That’s just my anachronistic tendencies and belief in not tampering with canon coming to the fore.

And yes green Orion slave girls. That’s pure unadulterated fan service.
Hubba hubba.
That in effect is my summation of the movie after the first viewing.
Repeat viewings are in order. More when that happens.
Till then, as always, live long and prosper.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine flew then too

The cover to the album Flying Pigs by Floyd the Pink. Look carefully. Swine flew then too. And if that wasn’t enough, this album – with track names mentioning swine and livestock – also inspired George Orwell to write the immortal allegorical novel called Animal Farm.

Yep. You read right. For more information, why not read ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Pink Floyd: theBekku exclusive’?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oversimplifying a flaw

Revisiting Plato’s criticisms of democracy just reaffirms my stand that more ‘educated’ people (and not just literate) should vote. Democracy is built around equality, and no where is it more apparent than at the elections. Extreme equality. That’s what it is. And that is precisely one of the many reasons that democracy as a system is flawed. Not to mention its severe susceptibility to be deeply corruptible. No matter what your level of education (or lack of it thereof), your experience (or lack of it thereof), your opinions (or lack of it thereof), you just get one vote. I’m not trying to be elitist, but in the light of the critique that Plato made against democracy , the more-informed, the more-educated person’s vote should carry more weight than one without them. But equality is equality, and when it comes to voting, ain’t no one more equal than the other. It is at this point that the numbers come into play. Imagine there are 100 voters and three candidates. Candidate 1 and Candidate 2 belong to national parties with a clear agenda and vision, or at least some direction. Candidate 3 belongs to some local party fraught with corruption, with no vision but lots of notes. 48 people turn out to vote. Fifteen people vote for candidate 1. Fifteen for Candidate 2, making Candidate 3 a winner with 18 votes. So Candidate 3 is now declared the winner, gets to represent 100 people for 5 years and all because of empty rhetoric and votes for notes. Assuming that the great ‘educated’ masses will not put a price on their votes, and so even if 10 more ‘educated’ people had come out to vote, the result would have been different, and hopefully for the better.
Unfortunately, it is these great educated (and apathetic masses) who don’t come out to vote. And they are the ones who claim the greatest share in the benefits that democracy offers and the loudest to scream and shout and rail at the system given a fraction of a chance. Sad. Where’s that punishment clause for not voting when you need one?

Vote karo, khush raho?

Another weekend gone, but that of a week that saw this city go to the polls. Days later, we’re still looking at each other’s left index fingers to see if the person voted or not. For all the brouhaha about the ‘politically aware youth’, ‘educated and aware first-time voters’, the turn out was on the wrong side of the halfway mark. Pathetic. What this meant is that the people who voted automatically got the right to gloat. Who gave them this right? Democracy baby! I must thinks i should stop scoffing at and scorning those who didn’t vote when they could’ve.

It’s one’s right to vote, irrespective of whether you care about this country or what happens once the results are out. One cannot sit back and say ‘not voting is my form of protest’. It’s a duty that must needs be done like any other. There’s a limit how much you can flog the ‘freedom of expression’ horse. And that’s just the point. People sit around, going about their lives, enjoying all the various freedoms that being a citizen of this country bestow, but won’t lift a finger (no pun intended) when it comes to doing their duty. Voting is one of them. In a country of almost 70 crore voters, it’s mighty difficult, but there should be some form of penalty for those that don’t vote. But first let the machinery be put in place that ensures that no voter’s name gets dropped off the list. And while we cannot blame the dutiful voter for that, we cannot totally fault the system either. It’s still got its flaws, and till they’re ironed out we need to follow up and to ensure that one’s name is on that list. Most would think it not worth their time. But that didn’t stop me from trying to ensure that I did not fall prey to a flaw in the system.

Will one vote make a difference? Maybe not. But stranger things have happened. And anyways, each vote gets pooled into the majority, so you can’t have an ocean without a drop. Even if the party i voted for doesn’t come to power, at least i know i made i didn’t vote for the other party and countered one vote for that other party with a vote for mine. Nincompoops get elected to power because those that can prevent it didn’t vote. If you voted, no can at least accuse you of not doing your bit.

The system is corrupt and inefficient. True. And to vote is to be a part of that system. So i will not. What hogwash! I am the first to agree to the proposition that democracy is a flawed system, and the strain of democracy seen here in these parts by far the worst. It’s done more damage than could any other system (or so i would like to think). But that’s what we are saddled with and till we have it, might as well do our bit to ensure that at least the people we want in power get there. But unfortunately thousands of people didn’t. I would like to think that this does not mean they don’t have an opinion, and the great apathetic masses are perfectly fine living by the policies and under the rule of the government voted into power by the people who did vote. I VOTED! And i think it’s cool that the mark of democracy is the newest status symbol around. Sad but true. What should be the norm is now a lifestyle statement. Sad but true. I am loving it. I VOTED! And i’m not going to give some sad excuse for why i voted. I voted because i wanted to, i’m proud of it. Hmmm....me thinks i will still go around gloating for some more time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Return to the Sun

A split second after the awe and splendour hits you like a ton of red sandstone bricks, two blinks after your jaw hits the walkway at the splendour of it all, it is replaced by a sense of regret. That you were not there to see it in all its glory. Regret that slowly turns to anger at all the invaders and conquerors who’ve swept this land demolishing structures (read temples) in their wake and in their territory. The ‘eminent historians’ will tell you it was all political expediency. Nothing personal. But we all know what their motivations were. The anger and the regret never really goes away as you walk through whatever that remains – in awe, wondering about the artisans of a bygone era and marvel at the heights of their achievements, in architecture and engineering. Poetry in stone. The echoes of a lost art and culture.

One such is the Sun Temple at Konark. The mythical magnet of legends may no longer be there, but there is something about the place that makes you want to go back. So i did. And the regret i felt the first time around was still there, amplified even.

If you go by the massive structure that stands today, one can only imagine what the complete temple would’ve looked like. A colossal temple to Arka, the Sun God constructed like a massive chariot on twelve pairs of exquisitely carved wheels pulled by seven pairs of horses. Thankfully many of the wheels still remain with their details intact. But almost all the horses are gone. Just about two broken horses remain of the seven pairs. One pair of each for each side. So when you look at the temple in profile, you see the seven horses pulling a twelve-wheeled chariot. Here’s an image composited from two photos i took this time around that i hope will give a general idea.

Each of the wheels is study in itself. Each an exquisite clock byitself. Each of the spokes carved with intricate details and twelve stages in the wheel of time and life. Take a look at these wheels. Take a close look and you will see that the pictures were taken a shade after twelve noon. The first pic is a personal favourite, the most enduring image that it is of Konark. The main tower, the sanctum – or the Deul as it is known – is gone. Fallen because the archstone was taken away. Or destroyed most likely. Only the Jagamohana remains. And that is what one sees dominating the skyline as you enter. But that’s not all there is to the Sun Temple. Hundreds of carvings, big and small, worldly and spiritual. And of course the highly instructive erotic carvings that ring the Deul’s second level. One could on and on writing about the Sun Temple and the majesty of it all. The stories and legends. The myths and the harsh reality. But seeing is believing, so here are a few random pics that but, hint at what awaits the traveller who makes his way to Konark. As i did. I could go on, but i’d rather speak about in person.

Three visits to the temple in two days. Noon, night and dawn. On my second visit to Konark. I have a feeling my tryst with Konark has still a few chapters more to go. And then will the final word be written. Till then, here a few thousand words in low-res pictures. In the language of stone, spoken by the magnificent men and artisans who make me proud just being born in the land they once trod upon.

There's even a 'tourist toilet' there in case you were looking for more reason to go there.

One the statues of Surya, the Sun God. One of the few still in relatively good shape. Not the idol. Nobody knows for sure where it is or what happened to it. What's an idol without a sanctum. Anyways, to the left is the statue in granite of Arka in his chariot . Top left is a detail from the lower portion of the statue depicting Garuda's brother, Aruna, Surya's charioteer with three of the seven horses whose reins he holds (in the main statue exactly between Surya's feet). Bottom left is a detail from the waistband of Surya. To the right is a detail of one of the attendant dieties you can see at Surya's feet.

Above: The entrance to the jagamohana. Unfortunately, there is nothing to enter into. The inside has been filled up completely to prevent the structure from collapsing in on itself. Many many grateful thanks to The Hon’ble J.A. Bourdillon, C.S.I. Wondering who I’m thanking? Well. The granite plaque you see in the doorway reads, ‘To preserve this superb specimen of old Indian architecture the interior was filled in by order of The Hon’ble J.A. Bourdillon, C.S.I., Lieutenant Governor of Bengal A.D. 1903." Thank you sir.

Above: Another statue of Surya, facing westwards.

Above: The jagamohana, which is the only major structure left. With day trippers in front and at the entrance. Look at the scale and marvel. The deul, or the main tower which would've been behind this was a lot more bigger. But sadly. Below: The Jagamohana just after dawn. The photo above was at about 1pm.
Above: Jubin 'waiting for a class-less state-less world' George, partner in crime this time around in front of one of the wheels. Lest you think that the wheels are small and man-size, here is some scale for perspective. Below: A composite of three images, look closely and you will see Jubin closely studying some detail on the walls to the left of the steps. Can't see him? No matter. Take a look at the composite below this one. That should give you the scale of man to wheel.
Above: The stones seem to change colour depending on what time of the day you are there. Remember that photo above (the personal favourite one). The one on the left. The photo was taken noon-ish. The same wheel a little while later. Below: Another illustration of the same point, this time with two different wheels on the same side of the temple.
Oh. There are many more. Like the words i could write, the visages that the Sun Temple presents you with – multiplied by the number of times you visit it, and what time of day you visit it in – are many. The 'erotic' sculptures. The small details and dieties. The natya mantap. But why overdo it? Go there to really experience it. But before i bid adieu for now, one last view of the the Sun Temple. One last look through the massive lions, across the natyamantap to the jagamohana. Once as the sun just makes his presence felt, the other when he is elsewhere than at Konark.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Catchy but not quite

Everyone seems to be saying One Billion Votes this and One Billion votes that. I get it. It’s catchier than saying 71.5 crore votes. But what’s most irritating is when that Anal Orifice of Indian Journalism, Rajdeep Sardesai, says it (he gets his channel though to insist that he is the Face). Just the way he says it riles me. I must confess, everything he says riles me. But that’s a topic for another day.

So coming to the 70-odd crore voters, in the end how many will really come out on the day and vote? The cool dudes, the hot babes, the party folk, the bleeding heart liberals, and the ‘educated’ youth will take election day as a well deserved holiday, sleep late, most likely hung over from last night’s party. They will take time out, go out of their way to protest petitioning for pubs to be kept open for longer, but won’t come and vote. I might be tarring everyone with the same brush, but sadly that’s the picture i see. I saw it during the assembly elections, and i don’t think things have changed much. I would love to be proved wrong. Or to expect much from these great cool and apathetic masses. There should be some sort of penalty for people who don’t vote.

Speaking of catchy and this time with meaning, here’s Thermal and a Quarter telling you to ‘Shut up and Vote!’ Which is what I think we all should do.

Captain Gopi. Not!

I respect the man. Am sure he means well. Noble, honourable intentions and all. I’m not going to listen to the cynics and their theories, you know them as well as i do. And he is contesting from my constituency!!

We could do with people like him in the great Indian political morass. But really, what is he going to achieve? Will he win? No. Will be making a statement? Yes. But statements never changed anything. All he will end up doing is splitting the votes of certain demographics thus letting and enabling those that should not have won, to win. Knowingly or otherwise. Maybe there is some credence to those theories then.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

“Who will watch the Watchmen?” Well now i can answer my friends and me were one amongst the thousands that did. Only to come out less than happy and more than disappointed. This after going in with no expectations or fanboy attitudes.
Oh ok, so your counter will be that this is a film and it should be judged on its own merit....well, in that case whatever merit it had would disappear – because for some one who hasn’t read Watchmen the graphic novel, this movie would makes less than sense. Technically it is sound, a brilliant title sequence, the CGs nice, (almost) everything thought of, but if it ever was true that the whole is less than the sum of its parts, it is with this movie And i’m not even complaining about a certain missing cephalopod!! Full points for trying, Zack ‘visionary director’ Snyder, close but no cigarette even. For a book that was written intentionally in a way as to be un-filmable, it still is. Ha!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No help at all

There once lived a boy. The cat was red. And the river overflowed. The disco lights lit up the dawn while the dope peddlers went after stray dogs and unicorns. The water tasted sweet he said. Let there be lightness, and war. The green unripe apple stayed suspended in mid air just below the bowler hat. The arrows sped toward each other. Illumination comes so hard. Rock on. Emotionally dyslexic nurses not welcome. Making small talking about dwarves and midgets. Once upon a time was how it began. He stayed in school till the last terminal stage in the green room. And the bionic automata started bleeding. The drums sang their tune. Itinerant insects were splattered all over. The temperature kept rising. Fighting the urge to go out killing leopards. And road signs were abused.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aches old enough to be our own...

We've seen the past best times, and these
Will ne'er return ; we see the seas,
And moons to wane,
But they fill up their ebbs again;
But vanish'd man,
Like to a lily lost, ne'er can,
Ne'er can repullulate, or bring
His days to see a second spring.

But on we must,
and thither tend,
Where Anchus and rich Tullus
Their sacred seed:
Thus has infernal Jove decreed
We must be made,
Ere long a song, ere long a shade.
Why then, since life to us is short,
Let's make it full up by our sport......

In all its glory it is known as HIS AGE, DEDICATED TO HIS PECULIAR FRIEND,M. JOHN WICKES, UNDER THE NAME OF POSTHUMUS by Robert Herrick So gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Monday, March 02, 2009

speak to me

At last count i can speak gibberish, hindi, roughly about two dialects of kannada, ditto for konkani, tulu, nonsense, a smattering of tamil and jargon, and one foreign language, english. Now pray tell me, how does this make you insecure and inferior and feed your combative impulses?

Unusual Suspect(s)

All sorts of Holmes-ian deductions have been fruitless. Poirot-style moustache twirling even more so. Discrete calls and otherwise Sam Spade-style to possible suspects have been to no avail. It’s going to be almost a month now and i still have yet to figure out who sent me these:

Two great books.
Alan Moore’s Hypothetical Lizard limited edition hardcover
The Thakeray T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases.

Why in the world would anyone want to keep this great gift a secret????
Some day i will know, and on that day, Anonymous Books-Gifter, you will now too that i know, if you didn’t already know i knew or made it b known to me that you were the one....umm....who be you by the way?

what is Real?

Who do we (really) mourn for? Why do we (really) mourn?
He chose not to be God. He was just about adjusting to his new role as a god, but God? No! He was clear about that. Let others fight over it. It had taken a lot to convince him to join the pantheon and to be one of the beneficiaries of countless sacrifices, but to be God? That wasn’t as much beyond him as it was beneath. Leave me to myself, he told the bothersome deities. You’ve already set my name on the path of abuse and of obligations and prayers I cannot always meet. I will have nothing more to do. Whatever i have earned till now you can take and do whatever you want in my name, and to my name. And politely retreated into solitude next to the nearest pyre he could find. But pyres have a way of cooling down.

Spring Thunder

This man makes me want to learn Malayalam just so i can read him in the original. Agreed, he himself has translated most of his work into English, but knowing as i do the ‘lost in translation’ business that has happened with some of the books in Kannada that i have read in English also, it would be fair to assume that the same has happened with OV Vijayan’s books. As OV (do i dare call them this?) himself said, “...translation is an act of shifting eggs from one nest to another. In the process the yolk and white are separated, and what you have left with is broken shells.” And this from a man who translated his own work into some fabulous English. Who better then?

The reason for this post? After The Hanging and Other Stories by OV Vijayan. Finished it over the course of a packed weekend. From the surreal to the heartbreaking, from allegories to little seeds of thoughts, it was more than just a good read. A good read ensures you enjoy the good while you are reading it. Not after the last page has been turned. A classic like this sticks with you, much after you have finished reading it. It happened with me with Khasakkinte Itihasam, then with Dharmapuranam, and now with After the Hanging...the search is on now for Gurusagaram. If any of you reading this blog regularly (five at the last count) happen to chance upon it, let me know ASAP!

OV Vijayan. This man now firmly occupies the #2 spot in my personal list of ‘Best Indian Writers in English’. If only by virtue of having translated his books himself, and even with that he is leagues ahead of those just out to prove that their vocabulary is as good, if not better than the whites themselves (or that they have a good dictionary/thesaurus). Most are just writing about things we all know and are part of us – making the banal and the commonplace – seem exotic for the white man’s consumption, and the confused rootless generation of today. Not so Vijayan. He wrote, yes, about things here and now and of what could be....but ever in a way so as to give us from here a new perspective, a new way of looking and of thought. Not just through his novels and stories. As an acerbic and unforgiving cartoonist, OV also occupies the #2 spot in my ‘Best Indian Cartoonists’ list.

PS: The #1 spot in the list of ‘Best Indian Writers in English’ was, is and will always be RK Narayan with his ‘Common Man’ brother the #1Indian cartoonist.

PPS: A quick flash back to this, a previous post concerning OV

Friday, February 13, 2009

We all need a Love Day

Reproducing here a quick and hurried response written by yours truly to a mail about Love Day, briefly explaining the history of Love Day. Here you go.

The fin de si├Ęcle ideas of the 19th century were a harbinger of what was to come in the 20th. In the late 1890s, Hallmark decided that after ‘holidays’ like Second Cousin’s Day, Third Ex-Wife’s Day, the ever-popular Secretary’s Day, Celebrate Stepping on Dog Poo Day and other such, they decided they didn’t still have what developers would call ‘a killer app’. The International Consortium of Florists also were thinking along the same lines. And chocolate manufacturers, who wanted to expand beyond their kiddies & sweet tooth market. They decided to join forces and on the suggestion of a certain Mrs.Gaskell - who had read a lot of Geoffrey Chaucer – decided to have a Love Day.

Love Day was promoted hither and thither, helter and skelter. Love Day was everywhere. And soon Love Day was a runaway success, and an established holiday of sorts. It was to hit a slight road block in the second decade of the 20th century when this ‘tradition’ hit Indian shores and it was also during this time that enterprising Indians were spreading across the world, bangalore-ing people even before the term was invented.

It first came to light when Edward Frederick Lindley Wood – more popularly known as Lord Halifax, the then Viceroy Of India – announced to a large gathering of eminent people (the page 3 crowd of that time) from across the country – in a rare exception when Indians and dogs were allowed in.

In his broken hindi, Lord Halifax declared to the assemblage, “Kaal ham log saab milekar Love Day ka Ball karengey. Full India hamara Love Day ka Ball dekhega, sunega.” He of course meant a Ball Dance, as in dancing/gathering. But the remark, understandably created a furore when the Indians objected to such shameless exhibitionism. They had to be calmed down as they were under the (mis)understanding that there would be an orgy – especially since the Viceroy had said that everybody had to karo-fy the grand Love Day ka Ball. Incidents like this were reported from across the Raj. Once the language issues were sorted out and the truth about Love Day the term came to light, people started cogitating on a solution for Love Day (the nomenclature of the ‘tradition’, not the anatomical part).

At the same time on the other end(s) of the world, the diaspora indians also were perplexed by Love Day wondering why somebody would celebrate their privates. A pubic holiday if you will. They were more so horrified when the firangs around them asked them to do the Love Day. ??

So all across the world there was a major confusion. Hallmark realised that the suckers in the Third World would not easily take to it. Luckily for them Times of India had started publication (or should i say pubication?) by that time, and TOI was roped in to repair the damage. Many alternate names were rejected. Those that did not make it included St. Nimmajjiloafer Day and Loose Emotion Day.

At this point there occurred an incident that would change the face of Love Day forever. Al Capone (the world-famous tax evader) and his gang were involved in a shootout that came to be known across America as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. The date was February 14th – Love Day. Since the name was getting famous already, Hallmark and company decided to rename Love Day as St. Valentines Day (and in ‘social interest’ to spread the message of love, not hate...copulation not killing....making out, not massacring).

And thus with the greeting card companies, florists, page 3 crowds, and other interested parties, love came o exist on that day. The other 364 days (365 on leap years) were not the days to show love, but only on Valentines Day (formerly known as Love Day). The rest of the year you would anyway e busy with Bullock Cart Day, Drink Beer Mixed With Sugar Day, Third Month Anniversary Day and other such. There you go.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Naaviruva taanave gandhada gudi

Art. Architecture. Temples. Wildlife. Hills. Treks & Trails. Rafting. Beaches. Sand (if you count Talakadu). Forests. Rivers and Falls. History. You want it? You got it!Am glad I was born in this particular part of this great land.
Idu yaara tapasina phalavo? Ee kannugalu maadida punyavo?

Monday, February 09, 2009

There is nothing more disappointing than when you make a Grade A pun or a joke, and no one around gets it. Well fine. Ok. There are a few more things more disappointing than when you make a Grade A pun or a joke, and no one around gets it.

That scream you just heard was Sir Arthur’s

Meet Sherlock Holmes. A chaser, shooter and pummeler of criminals. A bare-knuckle boxer, a crack shot and an expert swordsman. Yeah. And a ‘man of action’ like James Bond in 1891. Bah!
“It wasn’t my idea of Sherlock Holmes”, the bugger says. Wasn’t his idea. Bah!
And i always thought Doyle worked alone in creating this immortal character.
Funny how hollywood mandarins think they own something just because they have the rights to make a movie.
So what now? Wigram’s Holmes? How about some underwear outside the pants and a cape? And a big ‘S’ on his exquisitely tailored shirt? Wait. One of the USP’s of this travesty is we see Holmes shirtless. Yippe!!! So how about a big ‘S’ tattoo on his chest? How’s that for ‘imagining’? eh? Wait! How about Madonna as Dr. Watson? That’ll get the people flocking in! Bah.

Friday, February 06, 2009

It must’ve been the soup. They hadn’t progressed to the main course yet. It couldn’t have been the appetisers because she’d personally tasted the appetisers before serving the. Had to be the soup. A room full of dead people can’t be wrong. Damn. That too on a Friday. But looking on the brighter side, she’d watered the lawn in the evening. At least the earth would still be wet. Thank god for small mercies.

Cursing Christian

Christian Bale. Who don’t like the guy?
And if you thought all he does is act awesomely, wait till you hear him curse. Berating some poor DP on the sets of Terminator Salvation. Finally we heard the famous Christian cursing born from the temper he has. But then, that’s old news. It’s been on the net for some time now. What is new though, is that the tirade has been mixed up and mashed up to the sounds of a nice beat. No pun intended. Watch it.

And. Um. Ah. Just in case you haven’t heard the original tirade as it was recorded, here’s the mp3.

The artistic Romantic Lady Killer Man finds the perfect solution

From being just laid to being laid low. Things had changed for him for a while. Irene – The One That Got Away. Almost. Sigh. Such beauty. The kind of immortal beauty that will never fade. The epitome of art. She truly walked in beauty like the night. He had thought that he had found his one true love, only to have his heart broken. She’d accused him of being a philanderer. That cut deep. He’d truly loved her. Bought her gifts, wined, dined and serenaded her. Bought her stuffed toys and pink cards. Helped her baby sit her nephew. Cared for her cat when she was away. He’d put his life on hold for her. No. Not on hold. She had been his entire life when they were together. And he would not have it any other way. Yes, she was demanding. But she had been worth it. It was meant to be – him and her. Together. All was going smoothly till the day she found the keys to the closet where he’d kept all his skeletons, metaphorically speaking of course. The skeletons were all either dissolved in acid and poured down drains or buried in various graves across the city, and if they weren’t skeletons going out, they sure would be skeletons now. But he’d given it all up for Irene. But she wouldn’t understand. She had found his previous relationships too ‘freaked out’ to handle. She’d walked out on him. Like Frank Zappa, he believed that broken hearts are for assholes. He wasn’t one. He’d moved on. It was tough. Her pretty eyes stared at him from the faces of the many women around town. He’d thrown himself into whirlwind affairs just to get over her. But he just couldn’t. He’d gone to sleep only to be awakened by the scent of her perfume wafting in on the first rays of the dawning sun. Her voice kept him awake at night. He’d decided that the only truth was that they should be together. For as long as he was alive. He’d gone back to her. To have her for himself. Things have a way of working out. And now they were together. They would be together. Oh! How he loved her. She was a lot less demanding now. She even didn’t mind the little affairs he would have every so often when that crazy little thing called love got the better of him. She didn’t mind when he brought women over. His perfect woman. Irene. His perfect love. Hers now was truly the beauty that would never fade. The solution was in the solution. Who could now see the physical impossibility of love in the heart of someone obdurate. He could drop in on her whenever he wanted to. Well, I think I will he thought. He could visit her now whenever he wished. And as he started walking to go down and see Irene, he thought he heard the far-off strains of David Byrne’s ‘My fair lady’...
♪♪ But forever you'll remain
And you have time because you will live forever
Never age and never tire
In my sleep and in my dreams at night
Nice song he thought, as he flicked on the switch in the basement and gazed on as the light sparkled off the crystal on and around her and illuminated the radiant beauty of his immortal Irene.
Calls to me a strange attraction
With your beauty and your passion
You are art and art will never change.....
He went close to her and through the looking glass said, “You know Irene, Damien Hirst would be proud of me.”

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bharat ki aakhri Chai ki Dukaan

Make your way to Badrinath. Walk three kilometres to the last inhabited Indian village, Mana. If there are no panchayat elections happening on the day, you might just be lucky enough to hop on a local bus or jeep. I wasn’t.

Beyond this village there is nothing but snow-capped mountains. No habitation, just no-man’s land and then the china border. Walk through the village, up towards Vyas Gufa (the cave where Vyasa is supposed to have dictated the Mahabharata to Ganesha). And there, at the edge of Mana you will see one of the most memorable places I visited – and one of the more interesting people I met – during my month-and-a-half sojourn.

Meet Chandra Singh Barhwal. Proud owner of India’s Last Tea Shop, and a brewer of one mean cup of chai.
Cricket. Films. Serials. Opeth concert. Just a few things have been keeping me nicely occupied. Too lazy to type too much. Or tell too much. So here are a just a few thousand words worth in pictures me has been up to....why tell.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nomad out of nowhere

Not the best, but amongst the better photographs I have taken during my various travels.
Somewhere amidst the barren beauty of the Tibetan plateau, between Saga and Paryang. Date: Late September, 2008. Camera: Canon EOS300 Analog SLR.

Quote. Misqoute.

No Van Vogt. No Adam Roberts or Robert J. Sawyer. And where's the Amar Chithra Katha?!!! Contractual obligation page filler it looks like this is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pattern Recognition

Somehow, patterns have their own way of forming. Three weekends ago, it was classic Film Noir (Sunset Blvd, Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, etc.), two weekends ago courtroom dramas (Anatomy of a Murder, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Verdict….), last weekend was coming-of-age films (Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire), and this weekend too a pattern developed all on its own.

American Throwback
The pattern this weekend was ‘America as it used to be’. Lots of smoking. A peek into the social mores of ye olde Land of Dreams. In Revolutionary Road, that dream is still-born. In Changeling, dreams crash and burn amidst crime and corruption. And false dreams are created, in Mad Men season 1. As is advertising’s wont. And lots of smoking.

I recommend all three. Because beneath the veneer of Americana, all three have so much in common with us, and mutatis mutandis, something we all can relate to, in the here and now. Be it the couple in Revolutionary Road with its theme of settling for what is, in the ‘comfort of the familiar’. The truth that man always convinces that ‘there is always hope’ in everything, a Changeling would have us believe. Good stories, well told.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Bored of Evam

I know, I know. Silly forced pun. But gets the point across.
Was in the audience yesterday for Evam’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. And through it all was wondering if these guys are paying any royalty to the Pythons, considering the whole act was a total repeat performance of classic Python sketches, slightly diluted versions minus the classy acting, and sometimes the timing. All points for effort and ripping off Python, all in the name of ‘tribute’. Evam is lucky that Monty Python isn’t really part of popular culture here, or easily accessible/available in these parts.
The only time the ‘play’ held any interest was when the three dancing girls were on stage groovin’ and gyrating. But the ‘actors’ kept interrupting them regularly!!! Guess that’s my main grouse….