Friday, September 30, 2005

Tagged, and the story of the PM's letter

...what to say when I first saw it, but as one friend nicely pointed out, "Yet...
That was the fifth line from the 23rd post (that I made on this blog, skipping Snake's posts) - which was back on April 5th. Now this was me bitching about the then latest Pepsi ad - 'Be my Lover, Bubbly' - talking bellybuttons and all - copied as I later discovered shamelessly from a Michel Gondry advery for Levi's. The less said about the latest Pepsi advert (which was planned as a web viral) where SRK is a sapera, the better. There have been 230-odd posts since then, which is rather crazy. Anyway this was all about Rums tagging me - which involved me counting past posts - man, I should go to the archives section more often you get to see some rather wild comments. Anyway, since the name of the game is having to tag five people - let me tag the few regular readers of my blog. Which would be - Bonatellis, Rahul, Swati, Shivangi and Shivam. These are the rules.
1. delve into your blog archive.
2. find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. tag five people to do the same.
Heck, because half the people who come here don't leave comments I don't know who they are.
Anyway, on to more important things - I got a lot of feedback for my last post where I discussed the incestutous nature of the desi media where everybody screws everybody - just look at NDTV which is like a communal sex farm - a la Hippie farm commune from the 60's. Don't ask why I know such useless bits of information.
Now, lets proceed onto more important matters - like how the PMO's Media advisor tried to be too clever by half and got screwed in the process. This gentleman a former editor of pink paper planetde stories in the papers about how worried the PMO was getting all hyper about the stockmarkets. To cut a long story short, the PM then castigated all the pink papers and CNBC for carrying such stories and the Media advisor sent out a letter to all the papers saying 'very bad!' essentially. The problem is while the inconsequential pink papers said, 'sorry sir!', the the only pink paper that matters wrote back and told this gentleman to shove it up where the sun don't shine. Which put the man in a quandry - after all he had played a role in planting the stories. Though that said, the pinkest paper never carried the story involved.
Since the person involved is such a pompous dickweed, like most media advisors to the PM generally are, I don't have much sympathy for the man. However, the PMO is right when saying that the pinkest paper also played a role in the market comedown - Terrible Thursday they call it. Even though the information printed in that paper and its sister publication were true, the spin put onto that was highly suspect - playing with a doctored ball one could argue. Anyway, I always suspect the pinkest papers credibility because they did say that the PM would quit two months ago, didn't they? Anyway, the markets are see-sawing now and have reached a altogether higher plane and really no matter what you write or say - it is unlikely that the will go below the 8000 mark in the foreseeable future.
Chalo, I have a ton of work to do.
EDIT : The second-last item on this gossip post on Rediff has me a bit befuddled. I know that God is on his way out and he might do a straight swap with the suave newspaper editor who was mentioned - because that suave newspaper editor already does shows for the group in question and has failed somewhat in Bombay. However, there are reports also that a certain editor of a business publication (also within the group) might also be in the running as god-replacement. God only knows.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ganguly wins and the incestuous media.

Chappell might have fired the first salvo, and like the German WWII Battleship, the Bismarck he tasted early success, but sunk in his final quest. But Ganguly regrouped, played the media in a manner that made the Stephen's imbroglio seem innocuous (Heck, what is one stupid snobbish Delhi college compared to the de facto national sport of a billion-odd people). But now the BCCI has decided to act and gagged the lot of them. And told Ganguly and Chappell to kiss and make up. I don't think that the two of them will be having rocking make-up sex somehow! However, I do still believe while Chappell is good for Indian cricket, Ganguly has to perform. Because Bengali parochialism can only protect you so far (Ganguly was seen coming out of the BCCI meeting clucthing a copy of the Ananda Bazaar Patrika). Final Score Ganguly : 1, Chappell : 0.5, Indian Cricket : -2.
Though that said, when my mother, step-Dad and brother were rushing down to Calcutta for my grandfathers funeral, they were also stuck with Ganguly when their Air Sahara flight got canned (I was already in Cal). So the four of them spent a lot of time in the airport, yakking in Bangla about life and parents waiting for their Jet Airways flight. And they all told me what a sweet person the guy was. As a result of which I have a Ganguly autograph (and a proper one at that, not just a crooked line) on the back of a boarding card. Wonder if it'll fetch any moolah on eBay?
Swati left a comment on a previous post mentioning the incestuous nature of the Indian Media. Sorry, but I was in splits reading that. This is by far and away the most incestuous profession in the country. Of course, there is Vir Sanghvi and his ex, Malavika (who spells her name with a double 'g' for vaastu reasons I assume). Vir spent the last year planning the launch of HT Bombay and Malavika along with Gautam Adhikari planned the launch of DNA Bombay. While Vir might have the telly shows, and is the more high-profile journo, despite the hoardings of Malavika all over the city, DNA seems to have won the battle of the new papers in Bombay. Which again proves that marketing is all important. Anyway, Vir has gone on to other women journalists since then and I am unclear on his ex-wife's status.
But that is only possibly one of the more high-profile ones. Not quite, because the biggest drama which was of Shakespearean tragediesque levels was the implosion at one of India's largest news magazines. Here, the two top journalists were in love with the same woman, who incidentally was also a journalist (of the wine and cheese variety) in another high-profile publication. This one not only devastated the publication concerned, where the number two had to leave (with his marriage intact it must be said) and so did many of his friends who were all brilliant writers. But, this tragedy also got caught up with the security agencies, the owner of one of India's largest mobile operators (who it is said disclosed cellphone records under duress) and the CEO of one of India's most admired companies (a Bangalore based IT firm) who was alledged to be also having an affair with the same woman. To make things funnier, it also reached the highest echelons of government - with the then Deputy PM being forced to intercede in the matter. This is top-notch gossip in Delhi (actually all of India) for the rich and powerful for weeks on end, with twists, turns and couple of stalkers thrown in for good measure. It made Bollywood stories of sex and sleaze seem childish in comparison.
Then there are cases of husbands and wives working in the same media organisation, though sleeping with different people. How some journalists, married and claiming to be powerful are dumped by their wives for other journalists making them into perverse intern snatchers. I can write a novella on all this and it will make Sidney Sheldon seem tame. Seriously.
But then again, I shouldn't be the one doing much of the talking. Closer to home things are equally funny - my Mom seperated from one senior journalist (and thank god for that) only to marry another. And my Dad ended up marrying a journalist too. In a way, I guess it was in my fate to become a journalist too. God knows what'll happen to me, I don't want to marry a journalist. Maybe, its a good idea not to get married at all (for some time). But then again, it is worth being a journalist for gossip factor alone.
I should really not be writing all this on the blog!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

With due apologies to the Indian media.

You know when something dramatic is happening inside your own country, particularly in a sport which 600 million men (accounting for the skewed sex ratio) and a few million women have taken to their heart as their own (Just what is our national sport, don't tell me Kabaddi or something?), when the local media completely loses the plot. Not to say that the Indian media, of which I am a full-time member, ever knew the plot but for really objective analysis you end up reading the foregn press. So I turned to Lawrence Booth's weekly column, titled 'The Spin' which appears in The Guardian. Here I do the wonderful miracle of Control-C, Control-V for those of you too lazy to click the link.
Then we come to India. Political tensions are never far from the surface in the Indian cricket hierarchy, and, typically, it has needed an outsider to bring them to the boil. To sum up briefly: the new coach Greg Chappell suggested to Sourav Ganguly that it might be in the best interests of the team if he stepped down as captain. Ganguly reacted like a man unaware he has recently averaged 26 against sides other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, and the upshot has been a row that has dragged everyone along for the ride and at times strayed from the matter in hand: last week the former president of the Indian board called Harbhajan Singh a chucker. Just don't ask.

But the really fascinating part of the Chappell-Ganguly stand-off has been the culture clash. Ganguly is used to getting his own way, possibly - many suspect - because he has a close relationship with Jagmohan Dalmiya, the power behind the Indian throne and a fellow-Calcuttan. But Chappell comes from a country which is naturally suspicious of deference. Here's his brother Ian on the Chappell mentality: "If you don't want to hear the truth, then don't ask him for a frank opinion. Greg Chappell grew up in a household where frank opinions were served up at the breakfast table more often than cereal and fruit juice."

Now, the thought of Greg and Ian devouring anything other than a whole piglet every morning comes as something of a disappointment for those of us brought up to believe in the innate toughness of 1970s Australian cricketers. But the Spin suspects that Greg might have to temper the spade-is-a-spade attitude just a little if he is going to see out the week in his new job.
On another note, thanks to Soumyadip, this is something I should also link to. Today is the seventh anniversary of the founding of Google. A website without which modern journalism would really not be possible. Every day, I make at least 30-40 searches through Google, and there are journalists across India who plagarise whole articles they find on Google. No Google would have meant a lot of hard work, Google has made lazy and incompetent people into star reporters. Of course, I'm not saying that Google is bad, the technology is amazing and the mathematics behind it would make a stock analyst go mad, Google is a tremendous technology and has changed the way we access information. Seven years to the day since Larry Page and Sergey Brin opened up at Menlo Park, Calif.
And then there is the Google blog!

The ToI discovers Google Earth. Yipee!

But first...
Jain and Jain Company Limited is in some sort of hot soup, following the articles that they printed on the morning of the 22nd of January which in no uncertain way contributed to the market crash (mainly in the pinker paper) they were castigated by the PM himself. You know the man which the pinker paper had written would quit about a month and a half ago. Now, the conspiracy theory behind this is that an investment company (related/close to J&J) was holding bearish positions on the market. What is surprising about all this is - the day these articles were printed almost all the editors of J&J papers were in Udaipur. Secondly, the pinker paper which has some of the biggest Finance Ministry acolytes in their employ managed to say lots of things without corroborating it. This, unfortunately is very typical of the pinker paper, lets not get into that. What is even more surprising is that the pinker is usually the most bullish of all of India's business publications, not just that they're sometimes even more bullish than the folks at CNBC-TV18 (quite strange to see Udayan acting holier than thou on this matter though, in fact it is positively ironic). You've seen what they do to their front pages on the days the market crosses any major landmark and lament the day the market crashes. Not this time. Weirdly enough, they have even managed to defend themselves today, or mount some semblance of a defence - saying in no uncertain terms (or well, with as little uncertainty as possible) that the government doesn't know its head from its ass. Which, true the government of India never has, but for gods sake, the PM said that the pinker paper, and the whiter one were responsible for Terrible Thursday. Which also proves that J&J papers still have the power to move the market whichever way they want. Of course, I would bat for DNA here (maybe), but seeing Gautam Adhikari and Malavika Sangghvi's pictures stare at me at Bandra has kinda traumatised me. Maybe the SC was right in banning hoardings in the capital.
Now back to the point. I noticed the ToI today morning and Charles Assissi has done a huge piece on Google Earth and how it poses a security risk (thanks to the ToI's pathetic Delhi-centric internet team, I can't find the story). Of course, its not as if the ToI didn't have any really good stories today. Now ToI Bombay has been using Google Earth for some time, something for which they should actually be paying Google (which I frankly doubt they do). Now, obviously it was only yesterday that they discovered that Google Earth has only high-resolution images of one Indian city, which is Delhi. While Bombay is a blurry mess, and Bangalore can hardly be recognised, southern Delhi is beautifully resolved, I can even see the cars parked outside my house, my school, almost all my friends homes, the vast farmhouses of Chattarpur, Delhi Airport, Gurgaon (though only a two year old picture, so its slightly inaccurate, but the Maruti factory can be seen) though because northern Delhi is blurred out you can't see Delhi University. Now, what is even more surprising is that I wrote about this potential risk (and the fact that you can see the NDMC area clearly) in a Tech column that I occasionally write for a publication. So, there!
Now, the Ganguly-Chappell crisis gets worse - rather more fun. Again, lets throw some light on the matter. Almost all the cricketers supporting Ganguly (which don't include an explosive opening batsman and the two of the world's best middle order players as well as a kick-ass swinging leftie pace bowler) are signed up by one particular image management firm. A firm where a certain individual at the haert of the matter supposedly holds a benami interest. I have no parochial loyalties and I believe that our cricketers should work for their money, and the way that Ganguly has used the media is disgusting and he reminds of a petulant child or Wayne Rooney or maybe both. Chappell's dignified stand on the issue is something I admire. Why are we doing this to our team! If we have to have any chance of pulling the 2007 WC out of the bag, we have to work our asses off, otherwise Freddie 'Humble' Flintoff will kill us.

Monday, September 26, 2005


And the Americans want to know why on earth they aren't winning hearts and minds in Iraq? While in the beginning on the insurgency I also believed that possibly the war had some sort of a positive outcome because it removed Saddam from power, US soldiers don't seem to be any better. Today, we are paying close to Rs 50 for a litre of petrol, thanks in no small measure to the fact that half of Iraq's oil production is still out of commission, and prices are only being kept down thanks to the intransigence of the Oil Minister (and thus bleeding our Oil Companies dry). Now I see pictures of dead Iraqi's posted on a this forum. I can easily bet that half these people if not more were innocent civilians trying to go about their job and what do you have stupid rednecks standing on top of them and laughing!
And guess why these guys post these images? because they get free access to the same forums rather more explicit areas. Shit man, I know many guys like their daily dose of jerk material, but for gods sake, there has to be some dignity and respect for dead people. Not to say that there aren't enough websites which have pictures of dead people who die in accidents like Ogrish and Rotten. But this is absolutely sick! (OK guys, unless you have really strong stomachs don't click)
I do not know the legality of the pictures, but I do know that the Geneva Convention prevents the pictures of dead enemy combatants being displayed. Again, because I believe that half these people were civilians shot by trigger happy idiots, what are the legal issues involved. Of course, this is the US we are talking about and there is Gitmo, which is a blatent violation of international rights. Innocent civilians die in crossfire all the time, and while I am not condoning that, it is fact of life even in gang shootouts, or for that matter in Kashmir. No pictures come out. I have once been shown some rather horrible pictures of the carnage at Kargil, but those were part of a private collection and thankfully the person removed them from his computer.
I know that almost 3000 people died in New York on 9/11 and I am not saying that the people behind this incident should not be punished. But Bush went in for an illegal war and now this!
Iraq was no paradise before the US Invasion, that I agree with. Saddam was a sadistic ruler who for years was aided by the US. But post-US, Iraq is Hell on Earth.
I had written this post earlier, but decided against posting it, so I am bunging it in below some of the higher posts.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ganguly, Chappell, BCCI and the media.

Its cool to say that, "Oh I don't like cricket", however, it is quite difficult not to follow cricket in India and if you hear a guy saying such a statement you either want to give him a jhaap for being a liar or... give him a jhaap anyway. I admit, that like most dunderheaded Indian males above the age of five, I love cricket too. But what I don't understand is why we, a country of a billion souls, and a diaspora which would possibly account for a fifth of the world's population only follows one sport, and worse still, one team of eleven extremely overpaid and overhyped players. But then again, our cricketers aren't half as bad as the 18-20 year olds in the NBA. Oh, and if you think the media in this country is screwed up, I would love to see the day we start delving into the private lives of our cricketers - like how one of the country's God's has a mistress in Dubai (Portuguese babe I believe) and how another up and coming player is up and coming at every nightclub in town. And of course, there is that story about group sex during a tour. Some of the stuff you get to hear from the guys who write about the sport would make a British tabloid editor blush.
Back to the point, and I guess half the Indian blogosphere has commented about this by now - the Ganguly vs Chappell controversy. Chappell thinks Ganguly is a lazy SOB basically and has said so in so many words to the Board. However, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI - yes it is world's richest Board but doesn't have a website) which is controlled by a bunch of fat politicians is now in the middle of high-drama. Its worse than the standard histrionics in Parliament (unless that is Mamta Banerjee and Lalu Yadav get into a fight - which is funnier) Something like X was backstabbed by Y and Y voted for Z but Z decided to magnanimously support X, however Y cried foul and said money was involved. All of this in front of the nation's sports media - keep in mind Sania had managed to lose in the second round of the Sunfeast Open - so there wasn't even anything to keep the sports media preoccupied (Narain will qualify somewhere towards the lower half of the Brazilian GP and then there will be standard 'Aw, Shucks' stories). Anyway, I think the entire BCCI Board should be fired and we should get a bunch of professional managers and not politicians to run the show. Plus, whatever happened to a proper audit of the BCCI's finances? Has anyone wondered why India has possibly the worst cricket stadiums in the world (save Eden Gardens and Mohali) despite India only ONE sport!
(EDIT : Hahaha! They adjourned it by two months - just to save their asses and negotiate more. You have to admire Jagmohan Dalmiya. The man would have been PM by now if he was a regular politician)
Back to the Captain vs Coach controversy. Everybody in the country assumes that because of my ethnicity I 'heart' Ganguly, but actually I don't. I think Ganguly is being a cry-baby and should be fired for that reason only - and also because of his stupid and arrogant behaviour he is giving Bengali's as a community a worse reputation than they really deserve - heck, I've been told told that Ganguly fits the Bong stereotype of a 'Lazy Bastard' at least three times today. Ganguly is India's winningest captain and yes we have finally won a series abroad - pity it had to have taken place in a country ruled by a despotic madman.
What is even funnier is how all the parties involved use the media. Ganguly oviously knows that he is under pressure, but in the garb of exclusives to certain TV channels and vernacular Bong papers he is trying to get public support for his atnds. The Dalmiya vs Pawar fight is being played out through several journalists in the media. Some sports editors have even claimed to have a say in team selection. There is no objective sports journalism, the only way to get access to the team is become the 'agent' of one player or another. So you have your Ganguly-supporters who are paranoid that if Ganguly goes, so will their celebrated access to the dressing room and then there are Ganguly baiters who have been told off by the Bong once or twice in their careers. And then there is the dressing room fissure between the Bong and Bangalorean Tamil - it is rather serious I believe - almost as bad as the the Dev-Gavaskar thingie! However, India is very bad at getting rid of captains - Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Azhar, Tendulkar were all fired in very weird ways.
Indian cricket still basks in the warm afterglow of the 1983 World Cup victory - despite the fact that a third of India's population wasn't even born then. I was a four-year old in Oxford on that day and my god - the amount of people who came around giving sweets made me believe that Oxford was an Indian town. We live in that warm afterglow because Indians believe it can happen again (we believe a lot of things out here - like marble statues drinking milk), and thats why we forgive our cricketers a lot. However, with the strength of the English team right now, and the Ozzies bound to rebuild for 2007, India has no hope in hell of doing well in the West Indies unless we also start afresh. And I think Greg Chappell is a serious Coach who can fix this team. Ganguly should quit, because a century and series win against Zimbabwe counts for nothing. If those politicians stop fighting and realise that cricket might have a few other sports join in the Sports pantheon, things might improve. But this is my humble opinion on the matter!
On another note - Google's Blogsearch is amazingly powerful - a lot of blogs that should be in the private domain are also indexed - got some gems of blogs!
Shekhar Kapur's blog has some fantastic poetry and some amazing articles as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Of diamonds and car dealers...

I don't know how I end up getting into situations, but the price you have to pay for being the junior-most in your organisation (I wasn't the junior-most, but then the girl who was quit, a victime of the current Mumbai media madness) and thus I end up getting buggered from behind. Anyway, I ended up going to Prasad Chambers off Charni Road Station where in a dilapidated old building a Rs 20,000 crore industry has made its headquarters - the Indian Diamond trading industry. Travelling inside a pan-stained lift (and I have now come to the conclusion that until Indian men stop painting half the country with pan stains, the country will remain dommed to mediocrity) you really have little idea that you might be waling into the office of a man who can probably afford a diamond studded crapper. Of course, the person I met has his brands endorsed by some stunning women, and somehow sitting across the table you keep on thinking, "Man this fat guy must get a lot more sex in a week than I will ever get in my life!" Seriously, that was the only thing running across my mind during the entire conversation, that and the fact that there quite a few stones on his table. Well, but then again the guy was rather sweet and he did give me a lot of gyaan about diamonds. And also indirectly let me know that I will never be able to afford one in the near future! Sigh!
But its weird, you do sometimes end up meeting some rather strange people and while I thought I would some fat, pan-chewing Sethji, I got to meet a fat but well-educated young chap. Not as upsetting as my meeting with a particular Skoda dealer in Delhi. Not only was the man an obnoxious fart (our meeting was rather acrimonious - the man used to import Toyota cars take out the stylised 'T' Toyota logo and replace it with a stylised 'L' signifying Lexus - however the SatNav display was a giveaway), but I subsequently saw him or rather avoided him at all sorts of nightclubs around Delhi. Fat, ugly, son of a bitch used to cruise clubs to pick up women, with a big fat cigar in his mouth. Well, the reason I started hating him even more was when at one such 'club' encounter - Athena at the Park Royale I think, he said, "You journalists have a lot of money to go clubbing at places like this." I said something to the effect that we don't have money (well, it was a friends birthday and I wasn't paying jackshit) but we have "Class", even though I said that through clenched teeth, because it was a blatent lie. Journalist+Nightclub+Delhi=impossible. Also Journalist never equals to class, that would really be the day! Well, unless it was a lifestyle reporter or me.
However, I did have the last laugh. Said dealer found out parentage, and how I had advised one particular parent to advise friends (in big circular building in central Delhi) that Skoda's are a awfully downmarket brand in the West. You know how things spread among people who frequent that big, circular building! Heh, heh! However, on the same note I should get Hyundai to pay me a commission because I must've indirectly sold six Terracan's for them again to people who frequent big circular building (lets call it BCB for easy reference). Must broach the subject sometime.
Google and horny Indian men are really giving traffic stats at my site a huge bump. Leave some comments yo!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bollywood greats from the seventies and more!

I spent the better half of the day at an Entertainment summit, wher I heard Yash Chopra, Pratim Mukherjea, Sameer Nair and others yap and yap and yap. Well, there was a lot of stuff that I will spin off into a story over here, but lets not bother discussing all of that right now, because my take on the Indian television industry will bore most people to death. And really what can a person whose favourite programme on TV is The Thirsty Traveller (broadcast every Tuesday and Saturday on Discovery Travel and Living) and watching assorted TNA (Tits 'N Ass) programming on AXN say about the Indian Telly industry. Other than the fact that most programs that dominate the top 30 in India are either copies of foreign shows or conservative family oriented product placement vehicles. Ergo, the question is why the hell am I taking up valuable server space online with stupid strings of words. Server space that can be better utilised hosting pictures of Playboy Playmates (Like this blog hosting pics of August 2005 Playboy Germany Playmate Kristinn Lehmann). Talking about good uasge of server space if you have the time, please download the trailer of Japanese cult director Takao Nakano's latest film - 'Sexual Parasite : Killer Pussy'.
Seriously, viewer discretion is warranted here - and I stand my my previous assertions that the Japanese are all a mentally disturbed race. Just read Manga comics and you'll understand why I am talking about the Japanese being crazy! But you should still watch the trailer. It's a Porno slasher horror flick meets sci-fi. Good fun!
Anyway, back to the point, I'm writing because after a long time the hit rate on the blog took off. Not just because of cross-linking by other blogs but because the blog (and this post in particular) features on the first page of results on Google for this and this and some perverted bastard searched for this. Mumbai Mirror did an interesting article on the girl that the forward claimed to be Tarannum, Tammana Bhatia. I feel sorry for the girl, the pics were watermarked and the website they are from actually stated that they were of the afore mentioned actress not the bar-dancer who literally made a 'famous Sri Lankan spinner' (is there a second one?), 'an explosive Indian opening batsman' (Do you know of two?) and several B-grade Bollywood actors (this species numbers in the thousands) dance at her feet.
Anyway, while I don't care that much about grossly overinflated views, I'm amazed that I made to the first page of obviously a rather popular search on Google. And what the heck, if I can cross 8000-odd blog views in the three months since I enabled Statcounter, I'll be kicked.
On another note, if you are a old Bollywood movie affecinado, then this is the site for you. You can get reprints of classic Bollywood movie posters. I am still debating whether I should send this link to my father, because I dread what he might do to his house after that. Anyway, it will be a lot better than some of the rather silly contemporary B-grade (maybe even C-grade) Bollywood movie posters he hangs around the house right now. Five dollars a pop, not too bad, I'll try buying one sometime. But right now I continue to be too broke.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Toosday speech bubble.

Someone asked me why I keep links from my blog. The answer really is quite simple, it gives a record of my own to some of the sites I visited. Which is great, because rather than filing them in favorites on one computer links from the blog become a sort of mobile repository. And anyway, there are a lot of unfortunate souls who come across this blog, including it seems some journalists (other thn myself) who were seen taking notes from this blog. Who they be? I can also say that they work in BSZ Marg and my spy/friend at same organisation told me of said event. Will this un-famous little blog now get featured in some two-bit story about blogging, lets wait and see. Or maybe just a cut-and-paste awaits the blog, god knows, but given the publication involved I doubt I'll read anything in Mumbai.
Anyway, I won't be near a computertronic machine with access to the wide world of the antarjaal tomorrow, so please to forgive me in advance. Here are some funny/un-funny sort of stuff that I have been reading on the interweb of late!
Ji Lee printed 50,000 of these speech bubbles. He then put them on advertising hoardings all over NYC and proceeded to photograph what people wrote inside them. Makes for rather funny reading.
High speed photgraphy can sometimes capture that our 24-frames per minutes eyes can't. Like the images of water hitting water and creating a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Check out the shots at Liquid Sculpture.
Another great FlickR photoset of areas affected by Hurrican Katrina. This particular shot is particulary telling.
Well, since the SC has banned Outdoor billboards in Delhi, you'll never get to something like this back home. But maybe in Bombay!
Anyway, me gottas go to the home now, deposit some cheques in the bank and all and generally buy some home products. This living by myself thing is not as easy as it seems. Damn!

Auto shoto...

The Indian automotive industry is booming, heck we have some ten magazines tageting car and bike enthusiasts, not bad for a country with about an installed base of 20 million cars and some 100 million two-wheelers. Incidentally, and many of you would have read the reports, some 1 million passenger vehicles and some 6.2 million two-wheelers were sold last year. India's auto industry by domestic sales alone is worth some Rs 60,000 crore and directly and indirectly is possibly India's largest employer, so why are excise duties on cars so high? Until Jaswant Singh's sole budget, duties on cars was stuck at 32%, after Singh reduced them to 24%, he also promised that they would go down to 16% in a few years. The industry was cock-a-hoop, but the government changed and now Mrs G (Redux) wants to implement the country's largest ever 'get-rich-quick' scheme for bureaucrats - the Employment Gurantee program. Which dear friends, I assume all of you over here are nice middle-class tax-paying folk is being funded by you! In the form of expensive cars among other things. While we hear stories of the one-lakh car and all that, there is one rather clear fact, which is that if you were to remove all duties on the Maruti 800 you'll virtually get a one-lakh car, which would be a lot safer than anything the others will produce.
Let me explain my main argument againt the one-lakh car other than congestion, its safety. Auto safety has an ignored issue in India, because auto-makers all say that "The Indian consumer isn't prepared to pay for safety." Which could alternatively read, "Well, no-one has sued our pants off for making unsafe cars." But I read with a certain amount of dismay that certain parties are interested in removing clauses ofn safety in the upcoming Motor Vehicles admendments. These will mandate head-on and side-impact crash testing for cars and a safe car would cost money, because crumple zones cost a lot to manufacture. And would you want to be in a car where your chances of survival are close to nil. I guess not.
Yet, many of us in the media think that the one-lakh car is manna for the masses - it will help the masses who own two-wheelers move on to cars. Yeah right, chances are that you would be safer in a two-wheeler than a one-lakh car. Call me a cynic, but I think the one-lakh is not only a pipe dream (inflation anyone?) but by the time any one-lakh car comes out Indians, or at least middle-class Indians will be moving up the value chain onto cars with Traction Control and Airbags and cars which will not be coffins on wheels. True, there will still be a lot of poor Indians for whom by 2007-08 one-lakh may not be a lot of money, but putting them in an unsafe vehicle could be construed as mass genocide by other means.
And where on earth will people park these cars? On their heads?
Anyway, if the government has to really promote car sales, they should cut the excise on sub-1000cc or sub-1200cc cars to 8% and see the market for Alto's and 800's boom (they should also then hold on to their residual holding in MUL, because such a decision would invariably send MUL's scrip into the outer reaches of the solar system). This would also benefit other car makers, and people would get proper cars instead of glorified golf-carts. And instead of utilising the revenue collection in fattening DM's and MLA's across the country, the government could begin to improve road infrastructure. Of course, the communists who have problems with the fact that roads will be used by the 'rich middle classes' will protest (why aren't the 20 odd districts in West Bengal getting their Employment Gurantee money, why roads, why airports?) , but like with the airports, the government should tell the commies to f-off.
And maybe then, there might be a point in eight or ten auto magazines.
But then again, petrol may cost Rs 100 a litre by then and everybody will be using the train here. And of course, the 1960's railway infrastructure in Mumbai could do with a spot of replacing here or there and maybe even a few hundred new coachs instead of three we have right now.
Anyway, talking of car companies, what is with Tata Motors and failing European auto companies, first MG Rover and now Fiat. Supposedly, Tata will use Fiat's network to market their cars in Europe, but with Fiat sales declining across Europe (with Renault-Nissan, Citroen, Toyota and Honda picking up sales) I doubt the benefits of such a tie-up. And what if it goes sour like the Fiat-GM relationship, will the Tata's also have to buy their way out of Fiat. I guess instead of a one-lakh car and all, Tata Motors would really be better off developing better cars for the Indian market. Auto sales have been sluggish in 2005-06 growing under five percent, but Tata Motors has actually been losing sales. maybe because people have finally begun to realise that the Indica/Indigo is a really sad little car with a pathetic engine. I really worry what will happen to Tata Motors once someone gets in credible Diesel engine competition to the Indica which Maruti plans to do in late-2006 with the Diesel Swift.
Thanks to Desipundit for highlighting my haste and ignorance for thw world to see! Shouldn't be too fast or furious next time!

Monday, September 19, 2005

One more week, one more chance to crib about life.

"Advani to resign in December" screamed the single column headline, full story on page 345 or something like that. Yep, the fact that Bombay media like the city lives on an island became even more apparent. While Gaan-Party visarjhans took place all over the city, and many of my friends also disappeared to attend the 'Trance' Gaan-Party at Mahim (3000 people supposedly, which would make it one of the larger Gaan-Party, and non Shiv-Sainiks here I was told) I picked up another magazine to read.
This one called itself 'Car', and well it was about, you guessed it, cars. They have amazing print quality and great content from Car magazine in the UK, the Indian content on the other hand seemed excrutiatingly dull and boring. Maybe that is because we consider the Ford Ikon an exciting car, which it is, but in the UK someone with a similar PPP income would drive an Audi TT (which in India would cost close to Rs 40 lakhs), so I put the magazine away and went over to friends house to continue my renewed passion for old Bond flicks. This time I saw the Timothy Dalton starrer The Living Daylights. OK, it was fun to see half a billion dollars worth of pure Afghan opium deposited over the badlands, but Art Mullick as an Afghan warlord, puh-leeze! However I do think that Timothy Dalton was a better 007 than Pierce Brosnan is.
Anyway, after that ended we just happened to sweitch to HBO and caught a great Romantic Comedy, with the emphasis on Comedy called Tomcats. It was actually a good watch on a day when all the booze shops and thus bars were shut on account of a dry day. Not a drop of booze in Bombay, on a Saturday of all days. I have still to work out this concept of a 'dry day'. Why, why, why?
Anyway, now I'm at work and I have many stories to write. None of them involve a bar-dancer called Tarannum Khan or Gillette's new FIVE bladed razor. Listen, I think two blades is a blade too many, so five blades is overkill. But I'm sure it will make the list of several guys I know, after all, many blades on a razor might be a Ferrari to the twin-bladed 'Presto' sort of Volkswagen. But at $11.99 for the powered razor, it won't be too expensive. Maybe, I'll get one too.
But talking about Tarannum Khan, she wasn't the ugly Bargirl that the papers made her out to be. She was quite a hottie, and as they say the proof of the pudding lies in the eating, in this case the proof lies in the seeing.

EDIT : I stand corrected, these pics are not of Tarannum but of Tamanna. Damn! I should have realised because they came from a person who does PR for a large corporate, and while the media is dubious enough, PR is in a different league of rumour-mongering. These pictures are of Telegu film actress Tamanna, and while I agree that she is hot (check out the photoshoot), I should have known better than to forward the mail to 5000 people clogging up the interweb in India. You know who to blame if your server is slow today. Blame PR.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Last night got rather late because I was watching the one Bond film I had never seen - From Russia with Love - now I'm not the type of person to trash a fantastical 1970's movie rendition of an unrealistic spy movie. No way. Because such unrealistic spy movies always had very attractive women. There is something about movie actresses of the 60's and 70's and I know that many of them are now older than my mother, but still they had a sort of charm, a sexuality you don't see in today's actresses. Even the vamps were , dare I say it, hot. Not silicon breasted or hyper-skinny things you see nowadays. And thats in Hollywood, don't even get me started about Bollywood.
And of course, there is Sean Connery. Scotland's second most famous export after Scotch. Actually, talking about Scotch I discovered that all Scotch Whiskey is actually matured in second-hand oak barrels. Anyway, I'm beginning to develop a taste for Jack Daniels, I have really begun to like JD. And Absolut Vanilla and Jose Cuervo and Resiling's. Damn, I drink too much.
So on a Friday night, I had a couple of beers, ordered some Chinese and sat at Rodu's place and watched a Bond flick. OK, so I did have a drink with a friend at Firangipani at the Hilton, and it was a very nice Vanilla Ice Tea, but that really doesn't count as going out does it? Especially if the friends was a guy. Anyway, there is always today, and after all I do have to sit at home and read the Outlook Sex survey as well - which says that Women buy sex from Men. Evidently an Outlook correspondent recently visited a pre-school and got propositioned. Or so I think.
A couple of the comments to yesterday's post were talking about the Outlook Group and their future plans of expanding into new magazine categories. From what I have heard and have been informed (through the "Are you looking for a change?" grapevine) there is certainly a Business magazine on the cards. Not something that will replace Outlook Money, which is a personal finance magazine (and I believe that the India Today Group is looking at launching a Pfin magazine also) but be a full-fledged corporate and economic affairs magazine. Again, from what I have heard they are looking at either an end-2005 or early-2006 launch. The women's magazine is still in the realms of the rumour-mills, but from what not-so-reliable sources tell me, if they do launch something to take on Jain&Jain's bastion Femina it should be out in mid-2006.
And then there is what Sandipan Deb and his crew will launch along with the Express Group. Again a personal finance magazine is planned along with a lifestyle magazine for men and a corporate affairs magazine by 2007. This news is all gleaned from the media rumour-mill, so don't trust the veracity of these plans or launch dates. The only thing I know is that I cannot trust a bunch of journalists who have no idea of investing money writing on personal finance. All I do know is that Citibank India runs the most inane credit-card service on the planet, because they constantly refuse to send me a statement. I am seriously contemplating moving the consumer court against these guys. Never make the mistake of taking a Citibank credit card Since they are owned by a bunch a oil-price manipulating Arab Sheikhs you can't trust them much anyways. Actually, Citicorp might be as American a company as say McDonalds, but the largest shareholders in this money-grubbing company are Arab oil shiekhs. And they are only interested in sending oil prices higher, so you charge your credit cards more and pay more interest. Conspiracy theory angle, and most probably implausible, but who knows?
OK, I've had a heavy lunch an until all the chowpatty Gaan-Party's are done.
Anyway, if you're equally bored, try watching He-Man sing 4 Non-Blondes. Hilarious, this is really really funny!
Have a great Sunday!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sex, slease and the magazines...

After stuffing myself with the most delectable sushi and sashami for lunch, I came back to office to find two very strange things screaming at me. The covers of India Today and Outlook which were screaming SEX. Well, they were screaming 'SEX and the woman', both trying to prove through rather limited surveys of under 2000 women in metros. Now, while I love demolishing surveys, I remember a survey that some PR agency had handed a former colleague of mine which drew conclusions on mobile users on a 100 respondent base. But, lets see the India Today survey, according to it 24% of all its respondents claim to have been in a sexual relationship, and these are all single women between the ages of 18-29 or something like that. Now, while I know many girls and guys don't have sex till after college, either this survey was done in parts of the city which are 'prude central', or I have gotten a very strange idea of the sexuality of Indian women. I'm no expert on the ladies, let me assure you of that, but for gods sake, young girls (I mean girls my age) are far more aggro than before, even in bed.
Anyway, now to go on. So only a quarter of the women surveyed admitted to having sex, eh? Which means that all the foreplay related questions, after-sex questions and 'adventure' sex questions were answered by 450 women. Now, lets see of these girls , four percent were kinky enough to have sex on a train, three percent claimed they were regular lesbians, 15 percent did it in a car (Piece of advice : Don't try to do it in a small car unless you're a dwarf, because your back will get screwed, spend the dough and go somewhere). And here is the shocker - Will you marry a man who admits to having sex with another woman (and I guess all 1800 were eligible here) - Noes took this 71 to 18. I'll be honest over here, I don't think there are too many men (unless they're nerds) who haven't done it by the time they get married. Now, that said, I would be genuinely surprised if I end up marrying a girl who is a virgin. And really nor do I want to. Its useful to have someone with past luggage as well, because that makes all your sinning more acceptable. I don't think I'ld like to hear that, "I wasn't the one doing it in restrooms in Paris" during a fight. So marry someone with a past, preferably a kinky one. But of course I'm not getting married anytime soon.
Now, India Today also did a survey of 450 men. While men are generally more open about their sexual preferences, "I'ld hit her anyday" is standard fare at any bar, this weird result really got me thinking. According to this survey, only 69 percent of men mastrubate (as against of 18 per cent of women). Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Who the hell are these great 31 percent of men who have never spanked the monkey. I really want to know if there are actually even 150 men in this country between the ages of 18-29 who have not jacked off. I'm amazed. These guys either have extremely low testosterone levels or amazing self control.
And this is just one of the magazines, I am yet to even read the Outlook story carefully. I assume it will be as funny, they had a pic of a gigolo on the cover. Should be good comedy reading over the weekend. Anyway, if you doubt the underlying sexual perverseness in this nation, check out this forum.
On another note, the evil communists (not Buddha, who is a good communist) who should all be packed off to Pyongyang and live in a mad Marxist state. maybe they'll feel happy. Why are they trying to stop airport privatisation, what the hell will they achieve, why do they want us to live in Communist-manna which is poverty? Fucking idiots. And to make matters worse, half of them are Bengalis. Thank god that Manmohan Singh, Mrs G:Redux and PeePee have the balls to take them on on this (but not on Retail FDI, which is bad for consumers) and have decided to privatise the airports anyway. Now if they could only do something about the approach road to Mumbai's international terminal.
Tomorrow is the last day of Gaan-Party, so I expect total chaos in this city. Its raining, the trains are crowded and I still have to buy a mirror. Not missing the telly news channels much though. Other than that Ganguly bit.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Legalise betting, please!

In the insular media world of Mumbai where everything revolves Gaan-Party, plastic bans and the power of Bollywood, where Bollywood stars and starlets who sell their asses for two lakhs a night or a few grams of cocaine are feted the current flava' is a bar girl who goes by the name Tarannum. Now, Tarannum was a dancer at the Deepa Bar in Vile Parle and was supposedly loved by the patrons, I have no clue how she looks because ironically the only picture of her printed by the papers showed her in - wait for this - a burkha.
Great, she had no qualms about selling her ass at a dance bar every night, but put a case against her and she rediscovers religion. Kinda like Sallu Khan putting on a skullcap when he went to the lock-up after killing those guys sleeping on the pavement in Bandra, wonder where that religion went when he got drunk and called up Ms Ash.
Anyway, this Tarannum had a lot of fans, therefore I assume she must have been damn hot (and also a Bangladeshi, as I now learn) and was very close to lot of Cricket bookies, including some guy called Digjam (after the suitings brand?) who not only introduced her to a top-flight Sri Lankan spinner (I thought Sri Lanka only has ONE top-flight spinner) and other pals of his. Digjam used to hang around B and C grade Bollywood actresses a lot and obviously made a lot of money to buy them the good life (and bang them every night). Hmmm, the plot thickens.
Now, Digjam promised Tarannum huge returns in her investments if she invested in Cricket betting. So since she started betting in 1997, she made a lot of money, a lot. When the IT department raided her house they found - a lot of cars, a lot of cash (30 lakhs or something), a lot of jewellery (another 50 lakhs worth), a lot of property deeds, etc etc. Now, crime reporters are having a field day - they are spouting numbers that they make up in their heads -a recent Aaj Tak (I think) report said the market is worth some Rs 5000 crore, another channel had the number of Rs 10000 crore. And thats in Greater Bombay alone.
Whatever the number, it will be huge. I won't hazard a guess, OK, lets see, I would say, since we are virtually a one sport country, the number is between to Rs 25,000 - 50,000 crore annually all over India. I've made money on stupid bets with friends, but I know of people who bet hardcore - tens of thousands of rupees on whether Sachin scores a century or if Pathan takes three wickets. The same stuff ESPNStar runs as silly SMS contests, people bet big money on.
And even if there is the occasional raid here or there, one in Delhi, one in Mumbai, one in obscure UP town etc, it won't stop the betting. Because Indians love betting, they love the lottery, they love it. If you've spent a Diwali in Delhi gambling away all your money on teen-patti you know what I mean. By the way, last year, I actually made money on Diwali gambling - Rs 2500 - I only play Rs 5/10 chaal. And despite my strong middle-class Bengali upbringing, I still love gambling, not so much for the money, but its part and parcel of the South Delhi environment I've been brought up in. And it isn't just the guys, the most intense gamblers during the festive season are the girls and because the guys can't keep a straight face when they good cards the girls usually end up winning a lot - you can abuse them, you can make fun of them and you'll surely outdrink them boys - but the girls just keep on taking your moolah.
The point being - we all desis - OK, I won't stereotye us, (South Indians, or at least the ones I know aren't usually the betting types, most of them get roasted during Diwali) but on the whole we like all this stuff.
So why is it illegal?
Just like its absurd that we don't celebrate Independence Day with a bout of heavy drinking, its mad that we have not legalised gambling. Talk to the Government, or anyone in the government about this over an evening drink and you'll get the following response, "Then we should also legalise prostitution according to you, young man." Well, actually I think that legalising the sex trade would go miles in stopping the trade in young girls and controlling the bubbling AIDS volcano that we are sitting on, legalising gambling could have the following effects :-
Getting in a lot of revenue
Curbing the flow of money into the black economy
Controlling the mafia - as a lot of this money goes into anti-India activities by Dawood and his ilk
Stopping match-fixing
Making the public less cynical ("this match was fixed") whenever we do lose a match and actually blame the players
And promoting a lot of new sports
Um, I don't know if all this makes sense, but I think it does. But, I doubt anything will happen anytime soon after all the government is more concerned about Tarannum, as are the Bombay papers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

DNA launches website - Me like

I am gradually beginniong to like DNA more and more, and after they launched their website today - - I have become even more impressed. This is a surprising clean website, DNA has obviously hired people who know the value of good layout, not just in the newspaper but also on the web. For bad layout, all you need to see are the websites of The Economic Times, The Times of India and The Hindustan Times. The Bennett and Coleman sites might be awful, but then again they're run by the people at Indiatimes, who are doing the Enron-esque thing of reporting the value of the purchases on their website as revenues, not commissions and whose design philosophy basically consists of making font sizes as small of humanly possible. I wonder what their actual profits are, or did that get eaten up by the CEO's humoongous salary. The HT site is firstly paid for premium content (whatever that is) and secondly extremely heavy, I mean so heavy that even if you have broadband the homepage takes five minutes to load and then they are full of shady 'Party Poker' and 'Cheap India Calls' ads all over. The DNA website is not as classy as those of The New York Times which uses javascript brilliantly or that of The Guardian, which might also go in for an update after the broadsheet paper became a Mumbai Mirror sized thing. Talking of which, I wonder whatever became of DNA's plan of also having a 'compact' format paper? I am beginning to slowly vacillate towards DNA, I like the layout, I like the emphasis on national news, and now I like the website. If only their stories were a bit better, other than the entertainment section that is where they kick Bombay Times' ass.
BTW, on another note, I have been facing a slightly complicated issue. How do you tell a woman that she has a BO problem? I mean, someone you might work with or a friend. Say, if a guy friend had issues you could buy him an AXE deo if you were feeling nice or just ignore him or if you can't do that tell the guy, but with women what do you do? I mean buying a deo is a bit direct and can be deemed 'insulting' but not saying anything could be life-threatening (or nose-theatening at the very least). Advice?
And on the spat at SSC which consumed thousands of bytes of server space at Blogspot, there is a blog, ostensibly written by a person claiming to be Samuel Scott Allnutt. Which is fine and dandy until you realise that Rev. Allnutt died over a century ago and is buried behind the chapel. So it might be by someone in college, but not me for sure. This blog has a lot of the stories that papers came out with during and after the crisis, but it missed this gem by Swapan Dasgupta in DNA. For the time being at least!
Here are some interesting snippets from all over the interweb...
European beauty products made from the skin of dead Chinese prisoners. What the....
Microsoft launches 'Max' their new photo organiser, Flickr's got competition.
Mithunda - the man, the legend, the religion!
There is this really cool fashion photographer called Napoleon Habeica, and he does the photoshoots for American Apparel, a all-American brand to combat evil Chinese and Indian textile exports (aka banking on old fashioned US xenophobia - but can you really compete withb Wal*Mart's super-duper low prices). Anyway, the point is, American Apparel opened its first store outside the US in Mexico City and these are some of the outtakes from the shoot for the Mexico store. All I can say is whoa!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


The one surprising thing about the entire Bishop Masih vs. Anil Wilson episode was that it brought out the stark insularity of the Mumbai newspapers. The very fact that this incident made the front pages of DNA was surprising, because the papers over here would rather carry stories of rotting carcasses than national news, because there is this extremely weird belief that national news means nothing. Only when I noticed the Stephen's story in ToI Mumbai did I think, "Oh, fuck, this must be damn serious." A house collapses and eleven people die and the papers here blast it all over the first three pages, but a train crashes and kills fifty people down south barely gets a column. I know the papers have to be local, but for gods sake, the grotesque focus on Mumbai/Mumbai/Mumbai is maddening. I want to read the national news, I want to know the machinations inside the BJP on Page 1, not on Page 14. And there are one hell of a lot of readers like me, and this is why I am gradually beginning to like DNA, because national matters there. The nation wanted to know what happened in Mumbai on 26/7, but Mumbai it seems, or rather Mumbai's editors it seems don't give a rats ass about the rest of the country. I know that you can argue that all the major telly news channels have a obscene focus on Delhi and politics and miss out on Mumbai, but I'm not an editor so I can't do jackshit about that, yet, I would really like more national, or even for that matter more news from Maharashtra in the english newspapers in Mumbai. There is actually more international news in all the dailies than national news, and strangely enough the paper with the least developed national news-gathering network is seeming to do a great job.
On the newspaper front, met a couple of media planners last evening and this is what I heard...
ToI - Claims 575k, Actual 525k
DNA - Claims 295k, Actual 180k
HT - Claims 140k, Actual 80k
Mid-Day - Claims 150k, Actual 130k
I don't know the veracity of these numbers, but these guys seemed rather sure, or maybe it was the beer. But really, despite the fact that DNA has some strange by-line policies and their Markets Editor just quit, they are seeming more and more readable every day. And the drone of the women across the corridor will give me a brilliant excuse to quit very soon. Its driving me batty.
I don't know how many of you have noticed The Guardian's redesign, it looks, well, older and classier. Maybe the new, big-bold look (which has overcome many editors in India) didn't work for them, I wonder how India's large tribe of Guardian copycats will react.

Monday, September 12, 2005


The devastation to New Orleans has been well-documented, I mean CNN hasn't stopped for the last two weeks, and even 9/11 mourning, a time when the US media sucks up to the Bushes was accorded little coverage. Iraq is a long way away from America, but when the devastation finally hit home with dead bodies on the streets, the US media seems to have gotten its backbone back, Bush apologists seem to have nowhere to run, even FOX News is killing the Republicans. The work Joel Johnson, the erstwhile editor of Gizmodo (he is still posting on Gizmodo) is doing in NOLA is phenomenal and his blog is a great way of finding out information. I have been following Joel's blog for some time, but some of the pictures, like the dead body he posted makes the tragedy hit home.
Dubya is famous for sitting around a stool when 9-11 happened (reading My Pet Goat), this time he was chillin' at his Ranch at Crawford, Texas when Katrina came. And now the rebuilding contracts are going to Haliburton. However, the US media is question all this, why is aid so late, why are Americans dying and why does racism still exist? And then Mommy Bush goes and says that the poor displaced people of New Orleans are getting a better life than before. Yeah right - I would really like to see Michael Moore's take on this! Here are 25 of the stupidest quotes about Hurricane katrina made by US politicos, some of them would make Lalu blush! I am a person cynical of the way Indian government's handle tragedies - where politicians try and jump over each other in promising ex-gratia payments (which never come) but for gods sake, we are hardly this incompetent at handling tragedies. The Tsunami was something that few people could have predicted and while Bombay gets rains, few people expected a cloudburst of the magnitude that hit the northern suburbs of the city (even though I still doubt the numbers). Katrina was coming, the radar screens showed it, NatGeo wrote about it in October 2004, this was predicted and yet no-one did anything. The US President might be the most powerful man on earth, but by god he is also one of the most idiotic. That said, several of the comparisons floating around Indian blogs about how great Mumbai is and how this city coped up to the rains better, well guys, Mumbai is used to heavy rain and this time because the deluge was bigger doesn't mean common citizenry isn't used to it, people have questioned the Western concept of poverty comparing it to India, I don't understand how you can compare life in a slum beside the train line in Dadar to an urban ghetto, countries and societies are different, and I still think if Mumbai's rich were given a weeks warning of an impending disaster they would have all flown away (I'ld bet that VT-TAT or VT-AMA would be the first planes out) as well like NOLA's rich (and white) population, but thankfully the Indian Railways is around, but evacuating Mumbai would be a nightmare. It doesn't make NOLA less great than Mumbai, Mumbai is Mumbai and NOLA is still the city with Bourbon Street. Have a JD for NOLA and the French Quarter. However, if you are in the US, please do go have a drink for New Orleans, at 'Save New Orleans Cocktail Hour' at any of these bars. Cheers, NOLA will come back.... And it would help if the US Administration allowed aid to flow in faster!
Some links....
But then again, we hardly live in an Utopian world do we? This is an interesting article on the ten most unrealistic Utopia's in Literature. Of course, it doesn't include the world inside Prakash Kamat's head.
I'm sure that this site is a dirty little secret among Art History students, but the Web Gallery of Art has one heck of a lot of paintings.
This weekend I was seeing a Backstreet Boys video on VH1, now I know that is rather pathetic of me to listen to pop music, but I have to give it to the guys, they have ripped apart 80's metal culture totally in their new video, "Just Want you to Know". Don't watch it from a musical POV, just watch it!
Somebody has gone and implemented the original Super Mario Brothers in Javascript, some people are even more vella than me!
These are two interesting collections - Cigarette Packs from across the world (strange, I wonder how some of them smoke?) and WWII Art by Roy Huxley on Matchbox snap-on kits, I even had two or three of these.

Nice weekend!

While I must've been one of the only persons in town to skip the Bohemia launch party (on both Friday and Saturday) because I didn't quite feel so good (and I was doing something else on Saturday), I did get a lot of 'We're missing you' SMSes from friends who were all trying to beat the world record for the most number of Tequila shots consumed inside an hour. Thanks, I missed all of you too. That said, I did manage to get sufficiently drunk, met up with old friends, met strange bartenders (bhang Martini's anyone?), watched a nice play and saw Bollywood's new-age version of the 'boy-meets-girl' story. Plus, I also managed to get settled into my new house. Phew, it was a packed weekend.
But while the other stories are not worth recalling for the general public, Salaam Namaste is. I caught the movie and while the first half was rather entertaining, the last scene (which among several others is also ripped off from Nine Months) kills the movie. In the Hollywood flick, there is already a build-up for the Robin Williams character, here we suddenly see Abhishek Bachchan walk-in out of thin air. Anyway, it was an entertaining movie nonetheless, yet I will ask how Saif's character plans getting a family around in his dinky car?
Plus, if you're really bored at home and have some good vodka lying around try this - Aam Panna, Khus, Cream and Vodka. It tastes terribly nice. And so does vodka and Nariyal Paani. Yum, yum.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gotta love the media...

I know that mediapersons often write some line awfully innocently, but they sound awfully hilarious. And honestly nothing is funnier than an article on drugs written by people whose idea of drugs is .... well they have no idea what it is!
Just read this pearl of wisdom from the 'amazingly fast to react to social phenomena' magazine, India Today.
"Cocaine and ecstasy are not available over the counter like prescription cough syrups Corex, Phensydyle and downers like Calmpose and Valium..."
No shit Sherlock!
And further on...
"...hashish from Manali which is considered a delicacy the world over"
What the.... OK I know people who don't smoke hash anymore but eat it, but I thought the term delicacy is only used to describe things you eat. Hash might be considered a 'rarity' or a 'speciality' but 'delicacy'???? And I know what 'cooked cocaine' is, but man, calling 'cooked cocaine' the caviar of drugs? Evidently people haven't heard of Morphine.
Not that IT have any persons on their staff who can elucidate writers about the finer points of high-end drugs. While the occasional pothead does work in Hamilton House, I seriously doubt the higher-ups in the magazine have done any drug. Of course, ulnlike Viru dada they won't write an article about how left out they felt at missing out. Weirdly enough, I thought that pot was big in Cambridge in the late-seventies, so if a person went through Cambridge without smoking up, that meant that he was *shudder* (insert your own nerdy term here).
The higher-ups in the place I work at have recently decided to make me a technology guru (again) and I have come up with some new gadgets/software every so often to make sure my readers jump for joy all over the place. While I love tinkering with all toys electronics and like flashy devices - heck my phone has disco lights all over it - finding something new and unique every so often is not easy, because a criterion for the column will be that the product be 'legally sold in India', so because its available at Heera-Panna or Palika won't make it acceptable! So, I now have to start working again, and this means calling PR people - "Hi, can you please give your latest thingjammy that costs some seven figure sum to test out for two weeks, I'll try and ensure that all the buttons that only a two-day old baby can operate remain in place when I return it. And I promise not to all your device a load of crap. Even if it is, because the cute girl in advertising that I have been eyeing will start hating me if I do."
But, on a another media note. It rained rather heavily in Bombay today, even though down in town there were hardly a few drops, around Dadar and Bandra water started jamming up the roads and drove all the Ganpati revellers inside (which is a good thing), the news channels all went hyperactive - shutting down the western line then the airport and warning everyone to get out of their offices, when nothing had actually happened. It seems while train services did slow down, they never really shut down and flights all operated like normal. But, all the channels had done more than their fair bit to spread paranoia before poranoia actually happened.
Anyway, I will be moving most of my luggage from one house to the other this week and if HDFC Bank feels fit I will have some money to spend as well. And I even have a date tomorrow night. Things are looking a bit better than they did yesterday!
Have a great weekend.

The Walrus lives!

Matyr, no matyr, five cars and a Black Honda Accord! The drama at St Stephen's has resolved itself after Willie and Masih, the fighting twosome decided to pray together and solved everything. Well, that was the 'Official Press Conference Version' bit. Now, lets see what really happened according to me. Willie and Masih meet up, and obviously no Black Label is poured. Willie apologises to Maih for the contents of letter, but tells Masih that he shouldn't be pushing him out. Now, (this is the part which people will have problems with) Willie tells Masih that if he is pushed out everybody will lose. What this obviously means, is that Masih will get no more Black Honda Accords and the ways in which the Honda Accords came into the Archbishops hands (obviously they are not manna from heaven, and I doubt this diocese is particularly rich) might 'accidentally' find their way onto NDTV. Now, that wouldn't be too nice would it. Masih, who is a smart man, despite being a fundamentalist, obviously understands the import of what Willie says. They compromise. Chandni Chowk jewellers daughter does not get admission. Or so I understand. And wasn't admission season over back in July?
Simply put, Willie played the media brilliantly. But it helps if you have in your career given admission to the sons and daughters of assorted editors of the ToI, HT, Express, Pioneer, Asian Age, NDTV, Aaj Tak etc., and those editors are thankful for that. Well played, Sir and for a media blitz like that, the man deserves all the accolades he gets. Hats off, because I am really very impressed. But now can we please see some improvement in the admission procedure?
EDIT : I haven't been posting links for sometime, so I just thought I'ld post some stuff here.
Though I'm still using 1.0.6, you can download Firefox 1.5 Beta now!
Godzilla eggs for sale, huh?
The iPod goes nano, gets even sexier!
Gizmodo, on the other hand profiles Sony's new uber-cool Walkman!
Giant Octopus versus a Shark! Awesome video

Thursday, September 08, 2005

8000 and counting and the Google killer!

52 weeks ago, the Indian stock markets stood at 5250 points (or thereabouts), a year later the Markets closed the day today at a absolutely stunning 8052 points. In the last one year alone, the Indian stock markets have appreciated by a stunning 53.3 per cent. In a year. And while corporate results in 2004-05 were great, results in 2005-06 are not showing the same signs of prosperity. Oil is also flirting with new highs, the oil companies in India are bleeding while the government is trying to implement one of the most disasterous employment programs in its history (while spending $100 million buying new Boeing Business Jets - imagine that!) and the markets don't care. Bombay collapses, ONGC oil platforms blow up, an American city is wiped off the map, yet the markets keep on climbing. While I work for an organisation which embraces capitalism, the current trends are a bit disturbing. The problem is that such exurberance is not sustainable and when things start going wrong, as they might do soon, shit will fly all over.
In the course of my job I have met and interviewed all sorts of people, some of them are very important/influental people too. For example, the man who redefined direct marketing - Lester Wunderman. I have also intervied Scott Bedbury - the man who along with Phil Knight coined Let's Do It. But, in November last year I interviewed a man who once went jumping around stage at a company function saying 'I love this company'. He was in the news recently for wanting to 'F***ing kill Google'. When I met Steve Ballmer for a very controlled interview, MSN had just recently relaunched its search, which is still bringing on average of 50 people a day to this site who typed in this term. I still have no clue why.
Anyway, we did talk about Google and Microsoft, and I just thought I'ld post excerpts of that interview on the blog!

Do you think the media is wrong to give you a bad rap when it constantly talks about business practices and security flaws?
No, I don't think anybody is wrong, I am just saying that the bar is higher for us. You can never tell your customers, 'No you're wrong. You are wrong to expect more, better, more, better, more, better...'.

The search service that you have launched to take on Google is a major part of your future strategy. But, honestly, don't you think it's a bit late?
Google was late. Google is what, the third big search phenomenon. Yahoo was once big. Now Google is hot and Google can get cold too. Google didn't invent search.

Now, while we are giving them the respect, it does not mean that we cannot change the game again, just like they changed the game on the guys who came before them.

Valson Thampu vs. Anil Wilson. OMG!

When things start moving at the speed of internal politics, in a place that is ruled by politics, things become too hot to handle. For everybody. Now, in the last few days it has become clear that Reverend Valson Thampu, a nice soul and a Christian Fundamentalist if there ever was one has come out all guns blazing in the 'Get Rid of Anil Wilson' camp. Again, being an student of Literature both Thampu and Wilson taught me and I remember the tutorials we had in first (or was that second?) year in Thampu's corner room in the extension block. Now, it also a matter of receord that Thampu and Wilson hated each others guts, Thampu thought that Wilson had steered the college too far away from its Christian heritage and Wilson thought that Thampu was a Religious crackpot. While I don't disagree with either man over here, having both these individuals in the same institution and worse still in the same faculty could not last. And then people ask why the Literature faculty in SSC was so god-awful. Now, Thampu retired to a life of generally writing columns attacking those who thought minorities were being given too much. Wilson carried on with his agenda of change for SSC.
But now with Thampu, no great fan of the Supreme Council has come out saying that ol' Willie should apologise for insulting the Archbishop. And in a sensitive time like this, Thampu's arrival on the scene has upset Willie's 'Matyr Applecart'. Thampu, radical as he might be, also cultivated the media and has several friends among senior editors and was quite effective in getting his message across. Plus, it is true that ol' Willie's letter was a bit on the hmmm, defamatory side, dare I say it. (Of course, for a sample of Willie's best, I'll have to dig through my stuff for the hilarious exchange of letters between him and Dr. Tellis way back in early 2000)
So now, with Willie's gandly planned media circus around his 'Matyrdom' falling apart and Willie now looking like a defeated man, who will the new Principal of SSC. Now, this year I understand that a woman became President of the Students Council. But, and I'll go out on a limb here, if SSC is to change while retaining its attitude I would want a name that is not exactly a favourite among many people, and a person who well, chucked me out of her tutes for two terms and whose classes I barely attended - other than the great Yeats classes - Crystel Devdawson. My vote, and I know it doesn't count is for her. She is a person who understands college, is rfrom college and knows how to take it into the future.
Better than an IAS officer for sure.
On other notes - I have come to understand that Hindustan Lever Limited will be signing up a big-time Bollywood star as their new brand ambassador for Lux tomorrow. And instead of thinking Ayesha Takia or Tanushree 'spaced out' Dutta, think male star. Yes, the brand endorsed by Gisele Bundchen in the West, and always endorsed by some of the most beutiful women in the world is going to be endorsed by a guy. So this could mean one of two things - Lux is targeting the gay (metrosexual?) market or they're changing their focus altogether. While I know who the endorser is, I can't quite let you know can I? But you can guess.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anil Wilson = Matyr, Me = Huh?

This is a blog where I bitch about the media, my dearly beloved profession and whil this post explores some of the deepest darkest politics of St Stephen's College, it also highlights how the media - from bleeding heart liberals in NDTV and the Indian Express to the commercially minded sycophants in the Times of India have made Anil Wilson, of all people a Matyr.
Now, before some of you ask who the fuck is Anil Wilson, I'll answer that question. Anil Wilson is the Principal of St Stephen's College, Delhi University. SSC is north India's most renowned college by miles. It is a seat of learning (hah!) and power where thousands of bureaucrats, politicians, diplomats, journalists, academics, businessmen, film-stars have all gone through. I spent three years of my life, which in retrospect seem like a pot-filled haze in that college, the last two years in a place called 'Residence' something which most other people will call a dorm or hostel. But at Stephen's we were different. We lived in this aura of snobbishness, an aura of invincibility - we were Stephanians after all. Not all of us, actually only the sad day-scholars lived like that, as I said I was usually too stoned to notice. When I wasn't stoned I was either - scoring stuff to get stoned, trying my hand in a Shakespeare play (and making an ass of myself in the process), Quizzing (and thus sustaining my stoning and drinking) and maybe attending classes (not too many of those). I had no time to be snobbish. The women came and went and were incidental to the entire plot.
As usual, I have gone off on a tangential digression. Just talking about college connects synapses that have not been fired in six years.
Anyway, on Thursday Anal Willie, as we call the old man, quits. He claims that Bishop Karam Masih, the head of the college's Supreme Council had 'put pressure' on him to admit some jeweller's daughter. Now, in yesterday's post, I mentioned that Willie was a very sweet guy to me as he allowed me to sit my third year exam without me having to crawl and beg him for permission. I will honestly admit that by no logic should I have been allowed to give that exam, because my 'real' attendance was attrocious. I had struck deals with some teachers for attendance and was ready to give a potential Oscar winning performance in Willie's room for permission to sit my exam. However, I never did go to Willie's room, Dr Anil Wilson, for whatever reason allowed me to sit the exam.
Three years ago, in that room with portraits of CF Andrews and Samuel Scott Allnutt looking down, Wilson with his walrus inspired moustache was interviewing me for admission into college. I can safely admit that both my father and my mother had left no stone unturned to ensure that I made it through. But that was only after the cut-off for the interview was declared. I had safely made it through the cut-off and had enough credentials to get through. But, in SSC its not always who you are, its whose you are. Whose son/daughter/sister/brother/niece/nephew you are? That way, I could hardly be faulted. The 'whose' I was, was and remains an extremely influential personality. So admission, like it or not was a cinch. The same day as my interview my mother met many other such 'whose' who she remembered from years ago also getting their tots into college. The interview was always regarded as a joke, a method of weeding out the 'desirables' from the 'undesirables' - in SSC next to Rohtas' Dhaba on any given day you had the sons and daughters of at least one prominent editor, several bureaucrats, even more politicians and the occasional businessman and academic. So what is this controversy all about because the St Stephen's College admission procedure was always fucked and remains fucked, and this is from a person who benefited from such a fucked procedure. Its about politics, high-level politics.
Now, this Bishop Masih seems to be upset that Anil Wilson is not admitting as many Christians as he can. Wilson can admit 50 per cent of the intake as Christian's, but only admits 30-odd percent claims the Bishop. This year, some Christian students denied admission took the matter to court, I don't know what happened to the case but I believe they lost - because the college can enforce this quota on their discretion. And with so many desirable kids to admit, and so few seats wht does the Prinicipal do?
Also, I hear that during the 125th anniversay of college, certain individuals like the Bishop were sidelined. It became a Willie and Willie show. There was also the issue that certain individuals instead of going through the right channels for admission - HoD's, former students, and even Wilson were short-circuiting the process and accessing the Bishop with promises of donations to the Church of North India (CNI). Now, I am not insinuating that anyone involved in the admission procedure is corrupt, but with a non-transparent admission procedure there are extreme risks of people becoming morally or financially corrupt.
Willie was always accused of being a tight-ass. There is the admission issue, there is the sexual harassment committee issue with Nandy Narain and there are several hundred students issues. So how to defend yourself in this sitaution? Pull off a political masterstroke, become a matyr. And Willie has done that to such superb effect that everyone has forgotten the other problems. So what if a couple of ad-hoc teachers will get fired in the process, Wilson was a good operator. He survived 16 years as Principal of SSC he has to be, but I never thought that he could be so brilliant. In the process, you sideline all other issues, everything, make the Bishop look like a conniving jackass and get yourself appointed for life too. Plus, pull in all the favours you can, after all you did get half of NDTV admitted into SSC once upon a time, and because most of them were day-scholars they won't remember incidents involving boxes of turd and that asshole Frank. Nope, becoming a matyr on the altar of conscience is very easy to do.
The Supreme Council will never accpt his resignation. And in a weird sort of way, I hope they don't because if they do they will appoint a fundamentalist Christian in charge of college. And whatever you might say about Dr Anil Wilson, he is a secular man and St Stephen's must remain a secular college. So what we have here is a damn and be damned situation. Wilson is no angel, and nor is he a matyr. He has changed college for better or for worse. But, I would rather have him around than have other wacko's. But, I do believe that the admission must be made more transparent for the future viability of college. Make SSC a meritocracy as it was in the 60's and 70's. Make sure the best get admission, but then again in an era where half the world gets 99 per cent in the CBSE boards how easy will that be? I don't think it will be easy at all, but changes must be made if SSC is to continue producing some of India's best and brightest.
All I can do now is pray that St Stephen's survives this politics of matyrdom. Ironically, this college is named after the first Christian matyr.
Ad Dei Gloriam.

Monday, September 05, 2005

College, good ole college....

I noticed that the Times in Mumbai carried a four-column article on the current Anil Wilson versus Bishop Masih fight today. When the Mumbai edition starts carrying the news, I assumed it must be big, or well it could because good old Dr W has tons of friends among the babalog of NDTV, who have become strident Dr W defenders. Now, while Dr W was a bit of a tight-ass at times - I remember the time I was summoned to his office for failing to attend morning assembly, he was a decent principal.
And despite me referring to him sometimes (again because of his often tight-ass attitude) as 'Anal' for refusing to allow TV crews inside college (unless they were BBC or CNN crews) punishing a couple because the girl was sitting on a guys lap, suspending people for smoking cigarettes and so on and so forth, he was nice to me in 1998 when he gave me a room in Residence. And since 1998 he also was a great guy to talk to when I bumped into him leaving the side entrance of Muk East more often than I would like.
Yes, there are cases of him being a bit over-the-top, for example in my third year I was assumed to a part of a large drug ring. This led to a rather unfortunate series of events which eventually led to the Dean telling my father that I did Smack. Which I did not. OK, so I was a pothead and the era of 1997-2000 when people used to smoke up and drink in Rez at the drop of a hat has passed by and Dr W has done a lot of things that have changed college for better or worse, including getting in women to Rez, the walls around college, all sorts of special after-hours programs etc etc. Many people, especially students from my fathers generation (though, in all honesty both my father and my step-father, both extremely senior journalists and old boys from the class of 1975 have no issues with him) think that Dr W has ruined the charcter of St Stephen's College because he was never a student here himself. Which has even led to a few altercations at the old boys lunch in December, when Wilson tried to stop some drunken old boys from drinking more. I don't know what to make of this issue, I'm quite agnostic about this, but true things in SSC have changed.
I spent three years of my life in St Stephen's College. How I got admission there is a bit of a cloudy issue, as many other people who got into that college know. But, that said, I did meet all crieria - I was two percent above the cut-off even. True, my father was an illustrious old student, but that said, when younger brother never made the cut-off and no attempt was made to try to get him into college. You make the cut-off you might get admission depending on how much pull you bring to bear. I was cocky, and on the night before my interview was very sure that I would get admission (back-up was BA Econ at Kirori Mal) and my interview went like clockwork, I even had a nice conversation about God of Small Things. But, because you miss the cut-off and your father decides to donate a few lakhs to the Church of North India (CNI) should not be a reason for admission. Despite being a benificiary of the cloudy admission procedure, I believe that this problem would never have arisen if SSC made its admission procedure more transparent. Because end of the day at Stephen's almost everybody was someone important's son or daughter and almost everyone came from a top-notch school. No-one came from any shady Delhi school which advertised its toppers in the newspapers, everybody was from the 'good' schools.
The Times story today.
Now, the signature campaign story is another issue. Should some teachers give up their jobs signing a clearly offensive letter to save someone else's job? Plain and simple answer, no. While I support Wilson to an extent (mainly because he allowed me to sit for my third year exam despite 20 per cent attendance in third year, and no I never begged, my name was never on that dreaded list, maybe it was because of the four-column picture I got in ToI for winning a quiz) I would dearly love to see if Dr Tankha or Dr Upinder Singh have anything to say on the matter. Keep in mind, anything these two teachers say, and they are extremely intelligent people and two teachers I still respect immensely, despite not being taught by them, anything they say will be seen as the word of a higher authority.
Anyway, if you are a Stephanian young or old, please do leave your comments on the issue. Oh, and by the way Gaurav Banerjee's 'Vishvast' sources on Star News and Bhaiyyan, Mohan and Khim Singh. The grapevine has been activated, lets get the inside scoop out.
On another note, I had a great chilled out weekend, and it seems that Fernando has already sewn up the drivers title.