Friday, June 30, 2006


There have been too many Dang! moments in my life of late. Just as a note, this term has no reference to the famous Dr Dang in the 1986 movie Karma, even though I think that was Anupam Kher's most diabolical role ever - even though the most diabolical villian will always be Mugambo. But, thats another topic altogether. I picked up Dang! from Jughead, because I have an Archie comics addiction. Not as bad an addiction as my father though!
I'm looking out of the office window and it doesn't look too good, there is a wall of water smashing into the high-rises on all sides and I suddenly remembered I left my umbrella at home. The rain is ferocious, and in the distance the waves are crashing onto the seawall. And even though you want to go stand on Marine Drive, its just too wet!
Anyway, I heading off to Delhi for a few days to visit home, attend the serpentine wedding (and meet more friends) and generally pick up the pieces of my life from all over the floor (long story!). As well as attend mommy's birthday, and thanks to the kindly folks over at Air Deccan who have made super-cheap travel possible (I got return tickets for Rs 4700) but I'm pretty sure that I'll swear off the airline again after their pilot will put me through the wringer.
I guess I'll also drop by office, I'm sure people there are dreading to have to see my face again. But, there are so many things to do and lots to eat, but the World Cup comes first. And like an idiot I'll miss the first game - the price you gotta pay for cheap tickets.
Dang! Dang! Dang!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


This particular story hit me hard, and made me pause and wonder about the fact that in the three-odd months since I visited a couple of villages in Wardha and Yavatmal districts in Vidrabha trying to figure out why cotton farmers were killing themselves. I was terribly disturbed by what I saw and I wondered if India was seeing a wedge being driven through it - dividing it into the haves and have-nots. But because of the fact that I had gone of official work, I did not write about the cotton aspect - after all the blog doesn't pay me.
But since it has been three months, I just thought that I would write about what I feel is going wrong with India's cotton policy, a bit about Vidarbha and if there is any way we can salvage the situation. Almost 600 people have killed themselves and it seems that more and more farmers will continue to consume pesticide, if something is not not. Either that, or the government might as well admit that the life of a petty farmer in Vidarbha or Telengana really doesn't matter to them. And the mainstream English media should admit that the drug habits of the rich and famous make for better stories (and discuss hair straighteners at Press Conferences).
And I'm not bunging this line in to please my bosses, but one reason that I will stick with my current job is that they give me an opportunity to go visit parts of India that I would never have seen otherwise (for stories that most people would assume a publication such as ours would not do) and everytime I travel, this sickening feeling of helplessless hits me, and you realise that 60 years after independence our politicians haven't really done that much other than move to cities. OK, that was a very long sentence and would never get into print!
So what is happening in Vidarbha? The easy answer as the loony-lefties and environmentalists would say is that it is all Bt-Cotton's fault. Now, I won't get drawn into a discussion on Bt-Cotton and the fact that an American multinational is despoiling our environmental heritage by introducing genetically altered seeds. The fact of the matter is that in a time of immense population pressures - genetically modifying crops might be the only way forward. Loony environmentalists in Europe can argue otherwise, but they do not face the pressures that the land in India has to. I'm not advocating a free-for-all over here, no, thats just wrong! But, and no insult to anybody, basically its either genetically modified foods or forced sterilisation. Otherwise we'll hear of far more cases of malnutrition. And if you want your food prices to stay in check that is really a choice you have to make.
But that said - Monsanto in collaboration with a Maharashtra government PSU - Mahyco - sells Bt-Cotton in India. Now, one thing that did go disasterously wrong - as usual - was the rampant corruption in the organisation. Mansanto-Mahyco did not check the sale of illegitimate seeds across Vidarbha. Why did this happen? Two reasons. One, it is quite obvious that Monsanto charges a hand and a leg for its seeds - Rs 1300 per 450gram packet - they justified the price saying that it needs to be rewarded for its research yada, yada, but the fact is that they charge less for these seeds almost everywhere else in the world. Maybe what the company was trying to tell us is that it had to pay out a lot of money to politicians to get the seeds approved, so they need to make their money back - by the way the Union Agriculture Ministry did clear sales of the seeds. You need two-three packets of seeds per acre. Now to control rampant abuse, Monsanto sprayed Bt-Cotton seeds blue.
But really, what does to take to paint seeds blue. I can do that. So that is what unscrupulous characters in Vidarbha did (this did not happen across the border in Telengana - because seed right holders protected their investment). These folks obviously were local political leaders, or so I was told. Now the 'fake' un-altered seeds were sold for Rs 900 a pack, halfway between the price of altered seeds and actual Bt seeds. Farmers, who really didn't know better, and who though they could save a few bucks bought into it, but even 900 bucks is a lot of money. Especially when you consider that Bollworms went ahead and ate up their crop anyway!
Problem two comes from Monsanto-Mahyco. You see, while we sit here and complain about the misleading adverts placed by a certain dubious B-School, even the Ponytail would be put to shame by some of the advertising at district level newspapers. They promise the moon, and unlike cynicals f***** like some us, village people are rather trusting. Sadly. The promises included the fact that farmers would not need to use pesticide at all (and pesticide at Rs 5000 plus a litre is very expensive) and would get much increased yields of between 8-10 quinatls per acre instead of the 2-3 quintals they got from regular seeds. But the fine print, and there was fine print, said that they 'might' need to spray their crops and the increased yield yields would only happen if certain conditions were fulfilled - such as more intense watering.
Then, in Vidarbha, nature dealt a cruel blow, and this is important. There is a disease that afflicts cotton called lalya, which is a reddening of the leaves. This happens during unseasonal rain, which is what happened in late 2005. Now, since the fine print was in font-size one (a trick Monsanto-Mahyco picked up from Ponytail it seems) and warned famers to take special care of the crops in the event of unseasonal rain, our farmers who thought that Bt-Cotton was a superseed, it didn't need any special care. And the plants literally withered away and died.
So instead of getting double their yield, they got they got a similar yield if they actually used Bt-Cotton and worse if they used the fake seeds. Bt-Cotton actually did deliver increased yields in Telengana (where it must be pointed out the farmers were more literate) but then came another cruel blow. Cotton is priced according to the staple length, which the length of the raw cotton fibre. Bt-Cotton delivered a very poor length fibre (and we're talking a difference of millimeters, but it does count) which got a very poor price. So at the end of the day, farmers in Vidarbha actually lost money on the crop.
Of course, cloth procuders in India couldn't quite live with poor staple length cotton. So they imported bales and more bales of cotton. From the US. Where the US government pays their farmers nice subsidies (over and above everything else). Now, one can't force Indian cloth producers to buy inferior cotton, and the cloth industry is a major export revenue gererator so some farmers demand of increasing excise becomes a "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" exercise - even though good ol' Chiddu is a master of that art.
So what is the solution? I don't know really. The land in Vidarbha is too poor to support too many other crops - not even maize grows here - but with a little more emphasis on irrigation that might be possible (as has happened in Telengana). Secondly, seed development by indigenous organisations should be encouraged, also there should be an organisaed crackdown on illegal seeds. And the third part - financing.
Now, this is tricky, while everybody blames money-lenders for being the worst part of the problem, not a single farmer actually cursed them. Why? Because banks don't give them any money. Once a farmer, or any member of a farming family defaults, no bank will give them loans, what do these guys do, they go to money-lenders. They also told me that money-lenders don't charge really usurious rates - because it is in their interest that the farmers stay afloat (barely). In fact the number I heard was bees-pachess takka (20-25%), that is better than those thieves running credit-card operations in India.
Also banks are not flexible with repayments - what do I mean here - farmers unlike salaried professionals do not have steady income, a point farmers told me, money-lenders understand. This means that some years they earn massive amounts of money, some years the monsoons fail and they get rogered. Now, I don't want to condone money-lenders, but when people say that they're nicer than the State Bank of India, there obviously is a problem. This can easily be addressed, the problem is that a lot of the red-tape around government-owned banks will need to go and I really feel that it will be a private bank that will address the issue first.
Solution, you can have flexi-payments (at higher interest rates) for middle-class people, why not for farmers? If you do that, they will not default in case the crops fail one year, banks should keep metereologists in their staff who should warn farmers of weather conditions (and keep the bank upto speed also) thus altering their lending and collection plans accordingly. If a bad monsoon is predicted, banks should go easy on loans and not start distributing motorcycle loans to every farmer who walks in with a '816' (the land record document - I think that is the number correct me if I'm wrong).
The solution is not to give one lakh rupees to farmers who kill themselves. The Indian Penal Code does not condone suicide, so why does the government of Maharashtra. The one lakh rupees that is given to the widow (and while I think it is charitable), give the money to the people who are living, not the people who die. Because if you give people a financial motive to kill themselves, after a few drinks, what are a couple of pegs of pesticide (and from what I saw, highly poisonous pesticides are just lying around in some of the huts). What you will create is a self-perpetuating culture of suicide. No wait, they already have.
Now, this is just the mad-cap suggestion of a 27-year old journalist, but one who has seen the utter devastation of the area. One who has seen how suicides of the primary earner can crush a family. Not much, just a few thousand bucks (ten thousand in some cases - sums that were petty cash for Rahul Mahajan), less than most of our monthly salaries, but enough for people to kill themselves.
Anyway, this has been a long rant, I'm not saying we can solve the problem overnight, but there has been no political will at all to resolve the problem (and I do feel that dividing Maharashtra will not work, it will create more bureaucracy). Our politicians are addicted to cities and their constituents illiteracy and lack of access to information. All they want is their white powder and their nice cars.
The picture is of a village called Bhadumri in Yavatmal district. Three farmers had committed suicide in this village to cover their losses (the biggest loss being Rs 35,000 - this while industrialists get away with hundreds of crores) and so that their families could get the one lakh compensation. The village had no primary health centre, but did have a primary school and it was around 150km south of Nagpur about 30km off NH-7. But, let me assure you of one thing it was desperately poor - not as bad as village in eastern UP or Bihar, but comparted to western Maharashtra (where Sharad Pawar, incidentally Union Agriculture Minister diverts his sugar money and Mumbai's taxes) this was pathetic. Oh, and those electricity lines barely carry any power, they only have power at best for six hours a day.


On another note - it will be one year (tomorrow) since I installed Statcounter - almost 77,000 pageloads and over 45,000 unique hits to this blog in under a year. I'm rather impressed with those numbers. Anyway, have a great weekend, and be sure to pray for the families of those farmers who killed themselves.
And best of luck to the last 16 teams in the WC Finals.

Technorati Tags : India Maharashtra Vidarbha Farmer Agriculture Suicide Cotton Bt-Cotton

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Online goodness

Originally uploaded by konaboy.
After spending a good 18 hours on the job yesterday, today half my body is hurting and I think those push-ups in the morning were not a great idea, I think I pulled a muscle on my left arm. Shucks! Anyway, the interweb is always there to improve the mood. So, I didn't make it to the last three on the travel show I'm adveryising up there - but you should go check out the site to check the last three. Anyway, office wouldn't have given me leave for two weeks - again!
However, where I go for my next holiday has been decided. Just look at that picture from Zicatela beach near Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I saw big waves in Kerala, but nothing even comes close to these. OK, so it is going to cost a bomb to get to the land of Tequila and Sol beer (which I love, much better than Corona), but damn I'm going to save like hell (even though honestly my next trip should really be to Angkor Vat in Cambodia, much cheaper and very doable). Wonderful picture by Konaboy, absolutely brilliant. Check out some of his other other pictures, superb stuff.
Anyway, I leave you folks with some of the best sites I've seen on the big, bad internets in the last week or so. And if you have to know, I type really fast, so I get a lot of work done (also!) I mean I do work also in office. All of these links are more or less safe to open at work, don't blame me if you get offended by risque language!

20 of the strangest guitars ever made!
Everyone against everyone | The art of Cire
The most memorable cricket sledges - as collated by Vivek!
One of a kind Dolls
Balloon art!
Liquid Nitrogen meets a swimming pool
Some great CG animation from France's top animation school!
JWT is running some great promo adverts on the Huffington Post
YouTube Stars... Future Idols, or will they make it without Cowell?

Magar kyon!

I don't know what is more pointless, people sending SMS-es which can only construed as deregatory while the person whose name is being invoked (as in the person who will do disgusting things) is being dined by Pervez and his lackeys in the badlands of the subcontinent or people then taking your name in vain. Sample a conversation I had with three different people at UndieTV.

"You also have a blog?"
"Who, me?"
"No because you're being suspected too."
"Of what?"
"I don't know, but your name is doing the rounds."
"Sigh! I hope it makes the ladies sit up and take notice though!"
"What'll you do?"
"What'll the people taking my name do? B****C*** mein Dilli sabko pitunga, people need a good old fashioned dose of Dilli. Vela C******. Kaam karo aur yeh bakwaas band karo."

OK, so I was pissed off at some people already that day (which accounts for the nice language) and I hadn't slept well in three nights thanks to the accursed World Cup and the fact that I'm sent to the back of beyond to fetch great stories. Trust me flying to funny parts of India can be an extremely rewarding thing, even though it is also extremely tiring. You also get to see very beautiful things out of plane windows as well.

However, in the interests of everybody, I think I'll issue a small clarification.

Listen people, my life doesn't revolve around this blog, it never will at least for the time being. I have been seriously contemplating totally revamping the blog - taking out some 'contentious' posts and killing off 'K' and coming out as who I am. However, some people have advised me against killing 'K' because 'K' has a more interesting personality than I (the entity behind 'K') do. People have seriously told me this - I'm flabbergasted and horrified at the same time.
Anyway, thats all I have to say, and as a small addition I'll post a email forward I just got. Hopefully it will cut the needless tension that has been generated over something inconsequential - people really have boring lives!

Sing along to the beat of The Eagles 'Hotel California'


On the road to Trivandrum
Coconut oil in my hair
Warm smell of avial
Rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance
I saw a bright pink tube-light
My tummy rumbled, I felt weak and thin
I had to stop for a bite
There he stood in the doorway
Flicked his mundu in style
And I was thinking to myself
I don't like the look of his sinister smile
Then he lit up a petromax
Muttering "No power today"
More Mallus down the corridor
I thought I heard them say

Welcome to the Hotel Kerala-fonia

Such a lousy place,
Such a lousy place (background)
Such a sad disgrace,
Plenty of bugs at the Hotel Kerala-fonia
Any time of year
Any time of year (background)
It's infested here
It's infested here

His finger's stuck up his nostril
He's got a big, thick mustache
He makes an ugly, ugly noise
But that's just his laugh
Buxom girls clad in pavada
Eating banana chips
Some roll their eyes, and
Some roll their hips
I said to the manager
My room's full of mice
He said,
Don't worry, saar,I sending you
meen karri, brandy and ice
And still those voices were crying from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them pray

Save us from the Hotel Kerala-fonia
Such a lousy place,

Such a lousy place (background)
Such a sad disgrace
Trying to live at the Hotel Kerala-fonia
It is no surprise
It is no surprise (background)
That it swarms with flies

The blind man was pouring
Stale sambar on rice
And he said
We are all just actors here
In Silk Smitha-disguise
And in the dining chamber
We gathered for the feast
We stab it with our
steely knives
But we just can't cut that beef
Last thing I remember
I was writhing on the floor
That cockroach in my appam-stew was the culprit,
I am sure
Relax, said the watchman
This enema will make you well
And his friends laughed as they held me down
God's Own Country? Oh, Hell!

Copyright The Yeagles

Seriously, I'm not this good to come up with something so brilliant!

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Stephanian heading the UN! Shudder....

St Stephen's College's class of 1975 is possibly one of the most accomplised batches that institution ever sent out into the world. Along with the standard diet of bureaucrats who went on to redefine corruption, the occasional politician - inevitably Trotsky-ites turned Mandir-ites types - some very good educationalists yada, yada. The College Student's Union President that year was a certain Shashi Tharoor. Now Mr Tharoor, and this was the year that Loha Lady v1.0, upset at insinuations that she was allowing her younger son to sow his wild oats everywhere decided to impose a state of emergency, is an unabshed Indian National Congress lover.
Now, by that time Mr Tharoor had already disappeared to Massachusetts and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Of course, the fact that several of his college mates spent some time being 'pleasantly met' by Loha Lady's 'nice' friends, didn't ever make him lose his great fondness for the Grand Old Party (of India). Though that said, Stephen's in the mid-1970's wasn't quite the revolutionary hotbed it was in the late-1960's, and while advocating Naxalism or worse, many of them seemed to prefer doing that from their room in Residence rather than ever taking up arms. And because of the fact that Student's Union was and is disassociated from the Delhi University Student's Union (DUSU), few people ever did much to protest against the Loha Lady - it fact it was SRCC (where DUSU President Arun Jaitley studied) which was the hotbed of protests against the madness of that time.
The few times I have met Mr Tharoor in my life (even though my parents were fairly close to him - but distance does tend to weaken bonds and my mother did have issues with the fact that he walked out on his wife - another nice hallmark of that particular batch from SSC) when he came to India (including a rather 'over' familar ecvening talk in college) its all been "Congress this and Congress that". Strange rhetoric.
To be fair, the NDA was in power and while you have to give the devil its due and appreciate the NDA for sowing the seeds of economic progress, their utter lack of knowldge, I would say of international tact and diplomacy might have been a factor - though our last foreign minister appointed by the Congress was no better - in fact, Natwar Singh was possibly the worst foreign minister we've had. That said, Natwar would also have backed Tharoor - Stephanian connection y'see.
Yet, can I see Shashi Tharoor heading the United Nations? No. Not because he is a Stephanian, and I hold no grudges because of that - it is just that the collective ego of all Stephanians will inflate to gargantuan proportions - and that is scary (Stephen's has always had an issue that Lady Shriram boasts a Nobel Laureate as does the Eco department at D-School, none however from the self-declared 'Best Liberal Arts College in India'). Anyway, I'll at least have something much more in common that most (other than the fact that Dad was in that batch) Tharoor is also from Mukarji East which was also my block in Residence (Tharoor was in room S-17). Yay Muk East! Plus, can Tharoor being the connsummate insider really change the UN, because it is an organisation that requires a lot of change - I personally doubt it? (Plus will the Chinese support him? I doubt it!). Nor do I hold his political views against him, I mean who doesn't want to kiss Loha Lady v2.0's feet? Therefore do I find our nomination of him surprising? No. But the #1 reason Tharoor should not become UN Secretary General is that the man is an outrageously bad author - have you ever even read 'The Great Indian Novel'. Take a small bit of advice - Don't. I've been told that 'Show Business' is possibly worse, I never got around to reading it, but I'll probably agree with that conjecture. Thankfully, he doesn't write so much anymore, unlike some other Stephanians who still believe that they are novelists. It must be something in the water.
NOTE : Before you ask, what gives me the immense authority to write on all this, my father was in that batch too! Yet another clue to my identity. I'm not taking this anonymoty thing seriously anymore am I? And anyone who has spent any extended length of time at 'College' (ie : finished an undergraduate degree course there and stayed in residence can talk of the ideosyncracies of that place, heck you don't even need to finish a degree there to talk about how ideosyncratic the place is!).
It is not as if Stephen's can't produce good writers - the best contemporary Indian novelist in English (in my opinion) is a product of SSC - Amitava Ghosh. He was a couple of batches junior to the class of 1975, maybe that is what made him more sane. No wait, didn't one of those junior batches produce Sagarika Ghose? Sigh!
On another note, what do you people think is going on in Germany? Its all getting rather confusing right now with Ghana beat the Czechs, the French somehow managing to concede a goal against the Koreans and looking terribly old. The smart money would be on the Argentines right now, because by god, they're looking sweet.
The things we hear about our glorious profession.

I was told this fascinating story by a colleague the other day. Recently, a new recruit, lets call her Madame Fashionista was doing a story on the new constructions happening at Dharavi (which in case you're not from Bombay are the massive slums in the middle of the city). Now, said Madame who is pucca townie and most likely has never been north of Worli (or wouldn't like to admit it) unless she had to get to the airport - how can much a person go to Dharavi.
To protect journalistic integrity however, said madame decided to send photographer to click pictures of the place. Not to make it a photo feature however. She would see the pictures - and as the saying goes - a picture is worth a thousand words - she would construct a story based on what the photographer gave her.
Now if the photographer was deliciously evil, he would have gone to some chawls closer to town and passed them off as Dharavi (and then the said story would have read very 'interesting'). But instead he filed the pictures the same day and shut down. Said madame asked him for the pictures and he said "Sorry, I'm off for the day." Despite the screaming and shouting about how she had to meet her deadline, photog hung up the phone leaving madame to blubber some excuse to her boss, trying to blame the photog, who was beyond care, because he knew he can't be removed.
Now, this is not the first example of such delightful procrastination at this publication (Better still, doing a story on villagers in southern India sitting out in Bombay - how does that happen? But, that can be passed off on a tight-fisted office). Several miracles of journalism - feature stories no less have been done this way. What next? I'll see some picture on Google Earth (if they start frequent updates) and write on that?
Makes you wonder about the future of journalism doesn't it? Apologies to those I have lambasted in Telly journalism, this is the worst I have ever come across. And trust me, this incident is completely true.
Technorati Tags : India St.Stephen's College United Nations UN 1975 Shashi Tharoor World Cup Media Journalism

Friday, June 16, 2006

Anybody but... did I say something!

Originally uploaded by ricardo54br.
Damn, you hate the sure-shot favourites to win anything just because of the fact that they're the sure-shot favourites and despite Argentina and Spain (thank god for that) now proclaiming their intentions (Ing-Er-Lund on the other hand... lets not go there) you have to give credit where credit is due. My freaking god, those Brazilian chiquitas are scorching! And just for that, they deserve a cup of joy!
I've been ususually busy over the last couple of days and actually spent last night in Pune. Now, Pune is in a state of disrepair worse than Bangalore, and that about says it all. Unlike Bangalore's regressive administration however, Pune is at least doing something about it by actually building a flyover where work is actually happening (unlike Bangalore, and come to think of it, most other Indian cities save the capital) but in the process they've made the town into a living hell. Because Pune has a disease - they're called two-wheelers. You can't drive, cross the road or even try and make a phone call because you never know where on earth one of them will pop out from.
Pune is also (by far) India's sex capital. Any city where you put 100,000 students with no parental control in will be a hub of lust. The place is freaking crazy (though admittedly none of the people look very enticing), and unlike Bombay with such a large crowd - incestuous rat-like behaviour doesn't occur (don't ask what my friends have been upto - it seems like everybody is doing everybody and.. well, it is a bit weird alright!). Of course, any pandemic expert would be mortified if they ever got to Pune, but chances are a Bajaj something will kill him or her before any research gets done.
Anyway, I'm sitting in office at ten at night, so I guess it would be a good idfea to get my posterior off my chair and scrape my eyes off the screen and head home.
Man, those girls....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bombay Bridge is falling down, falling down!

At 1237 hrs, Tuesday June 13 the BSE Sensex is down over 400 points and flirting with breaching the 9000 mark from the wrong side. The market was inherently overvalued - thats what the analysts said. Over at Lower Parel, TV Equity pundits wear glum faces, talk about how there is good value in the market and how the bears are back. Over in Delhi, journalists talk of a scam - blaming FII's and the policies of the government and one even tried to link up a scam between BCCL and the Sensex crash, thankfully her Ed-in-Chief spotted this in time and pulled the copy (Note, this lady was asked to move on from a pink BCCL paper). And our dear Finance Minister acquires yet another frown on his face. Hey, a few months ago, heck six weeks ago people were talking 15,000. Now we're looking at a sub 9,000 Sensex.
Is the India story over? Naah. Not by a long shot. But what is going on in the equities markets? Honestly, they're just bouncing around a bit, like one of those crazy balls. Maybe, the Sensex has been inspired by the Teamgeist. All I can say is that the markets now are beyond comprehension - and I feel for those poor MBA students who are just taking up their jobs in the financial sector. Welcome to the real world baby!
Update 1 : At 1417 hours the market is back climbing again and is down only 338 points (only 338 points, I don't believe I said that!), however at around 1335 hours the market actually dipped below the 9,000 and touched its intra-day low of 8993.58. For a moment, please remember that this market has crossed 12,500 less than a month ago - before the crash on May 15 began a sequence of events that have led to the market shedding a quarter of its value. Ouch!
Update 2 : The markets have closed just above the 9,000 mark, after falling through for a few seconds around 1335 the markets stayed above 9,000 for the rest of the day, but it still closed down over 400 points. It is a bit weird come to think of it, companies really haven't done so badly, and global markets are not on meltdown mood - everybody was bullish and went on a buying binge, think of this as one of those really intense Margarita parties. The only problem was that people were behaving like they were 19 and in college again, eventually you do have to throw up and feel awful. The head hurts for a bit and it does take a while to get back to normalcy. Fundamentals are strong - OK, so Chidu will still try and tax everything he can get his hands on, but other than that this market does look very well priced right now.
Thats it on the market, and I doubt it will fall below 9,000 for any sustained period of time. Invest wisely.
Also, on another note, nine years ago, I lost a friend (the guy used to travel in the same school bus as I did and was a tremendously smart and gifted individual, whose life was callously cut short) in a needless tragedy in a cinema hall in South Delhi (PDF). However, the man whose company was responsible for the building still cavorts freely and is darling of the Page 3 media in this country. Says a lot about us, doesn't it?
My main memory of that disaster was going to the Lodhi Road crematorium the next day, and being greeted by the most horrendous and awful sight of my life. Have you guys ever seen a mass funeral, particularly a mass Hindu funeral? It is a sight which I really don't care to remember, I feel sick thinking about it right now. I can remember breaking down over there - twelve pyres and the overwhelming stench of flesh. I've been paranoid about attending funerals ever since.
I also remember that the current Prime Minister of the country came there that day, yet because the man in question is a old-time Congressi, I doubt any thing will ever happen to him.
I will never forget Uphaar and the lives that were lost there.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Simple question - Why is Rakhi Sawant on the front page of all the papers? I don't need to know who did what to whom. I don't know the chain of events, but for gods sake isn't there something more important happening somewhere else. What on earth are we supposed to do with the daily papers? And they just took their cue from the news channels.
But the one good thing that might happen in the aftermath of the Rahul Mahajan and assorted Rakhi Sawant incidents, is that our media is becoming as vapid as the British media - so the sordid sex lives and drug habits of our 'top' politicians, models, film stars might now be plastered all over the papers. Then to add a bit of spice, they'll start reportting on each others lives. Man, imagine EchTee carrying articles on the noctural activities of Chhotu? And RajdeepTV and UndieTV reporting on ATM romps and what not.
Real news on the other hand - stuff that might impact you and me - like Chiddu's plans to tax you out of house and home (and make you repent the fact that you are middle class thanks to his now thankfully shelved tax form) gets buried in the inside pages. What should be on the inside pages are stories like the women with the 'dubious distinction' (I didn't say that - IT did) of being the first 'Indian' British Page3 topless model. Why was it on P1?
I seriously think that one of the few things that I was taught - and I've done no Mass Comm course or anything was to ask a few basic questions. In fact, just ask one question, "Why are we carrying this story?" I don't think too many people are asking that question anymore, and it reflects in the quality of the stories coming out.
Just on that, there was a story by an individual named EmCee in a certain business magazine (and it won't be appropriate for an 'anaonymous' writer to blow someone elses cover.. again) on drugs. Wow, after reading that I wonder what the guy is on? He certainly knows his stuff (And people who pontificate with such authority on narcotics either work for the CIA or well consume them/did consume them). Which is better than you can say for the other magazines and papers of all hues - standard quote in the other publications - XXXX, a 'recovering' drug addicts (or coke addict) told ABC "I was introduced to the drug by friends, it made me feel more confident, yada, yada." It reads the bloody same.
Anyway, yesterday was a day of glorious inaction. I stayed at Doc's place and we watched in succession - the British GP (a Spainard won), the French Open Mens Final (a Spainard won) and then mingled between Football (Spain didn't play yesterday) and Cricket (Spain can't play, but they do play at Port-of-Spain).
You know something, I might just bet on Spain during the WC Finals on an 'Anybody but Brazil' spread!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Marine Drive

Originally uploaded by The Big K.
Don't you feel for Poland? They kept on and on going at Ecuador, but just couldn't break them. Eight goals in the first two games, this might just be the best WC for some time in terms of goals - and did you see that Frings goal! But lets not get ahead of yourselves.
Why the picture? Well, in my ten months in Bombay so far, today morning was the first time I got onto the upper deck of a BEST double-decker bus, and had the front seat and I kept clicking out of the window. Gives a rather unique perspective? I wonder whats up with the fabled monsoon, it hasn't rained for a few days, but the again, I guess I should not wish for rain, we might just another 26/7, and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
On a slight tangent now - you should know by now that I can't keep one line of thought going for too long. I had an interesting conversation with a friend about how the internet is bringing out a loss of privacy. She spoke about how before how her current employer hired her , they did a Google for her name and found her blog. Now, this lady hadn't made her blog 'private' but never expected anyone who knew her - or had a 'vested interest' so to speak to read it. She was upset because aspects of her private life were there for everyone to see, lovers, family et al.
I don't know what to write about this, but this another major reason I don't write under my given name nor do I blog about my personal life. The internet is a great tool, but it is also a great way to invade someone's personal life. I can in a few keystrokes and juggling things such as Google, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace (or other social networking websites such as Ryze or Orkut) pretty much find out everything about a person if they use these services (well, everyone might be on Google) - how you look, how you behave, what you like or dislike and what other people think of you.
Fun, isn't it?
And a search for my name on Google really isn't that bad!
Anyway, gotta rush back to check out Ingerland versus Paraguay!

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's here!

The World Cup, or as us Indians have to always remind ourselves, the other World Cup, the one that doesn't involve a bat. Well, everybody is betting on Brazil, and I was until I discovered that Nike is ripping people off charging them Rs 2500 for a genuine jersey, not as bad as Adidas who are charging Rs 2700 for their 'Clima-Cool' jerseys. Of course, you can postulate that if the tops cost this much, the shoes must cost incredible amounts. But if you're really nice you can ask the salesperson where they keep their 'cheap' shoes and like me, you might just find a pair of decent sneakers for under two grand.
Anyway, our President managed to blow up a few lakh rupees of aviation fuel to fulfil his childhood fantasy, but it was the coverage of the event which was mind-blowing. You know, the mind-blowing where you take a 12-gauge shotgun and shoot yourself Kurt Cobain style. It was really that bad!
Anyway, I've been pretty much upto my neck in work, and I'm sinking fast. Can't spend more time time writing here, I've to file real stories.
EDIT : Whose me moolah on? Well, no-one actually, I assume Brasil will win it, Ronaldinho is a genius after all. But, in case they don't I wearing Three Lions right now. Anyway, he drives a Hummer H2. Check out what some of the rest drive! After all a man is what he drives. I wonder what that makes an owner of a Maruti Alto?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by Tripping in India.
People leave me mails asking me what I look like. Now I can't exactly give an answer - 'Ugster' could be a starting point. Anyway, it would compromise whatever little 'anonymity' I still have. But, I found a picture that my friend Rahul had taken on a visit to meet some other friends in Silvassa. We had gone to Jampore Beach near Moti Daman and he clicked this picture as the sun was setting and the tide was going out. I guess you get the general idea of 'Me'.
And no, I don't have a whatever you call it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

India Snorting!

Thanks to Pramod Mahajan we got India Shining.
Now thanks to his son, we can safely say India Snorting!
Actually, thanks to Codey for the headline. So, Indians aren't doing drugs? Where are you living man. It is quite apparent that India is undergoing a massive renaissance in drug usage. Well, its also undergoing a massive renaissance in sex, but that is another story. So, there is entire moral outcry usually, but this time the moral outcry has been a bit muted. In fact, the sense I'm getting from some stories - is the sense the editor involved (if he or she knows their drugs - and many of them do) is having a good laugh.
"The idiot did the wrong drug, hahahahaha"
Well, it is funny, but I've seen another person make the same mistake one New Year's in Goa - thinking a packet of white powder lying at a shack in Calangute was what he wanted it to be - Charlie in this case. He snorted a couple of small lines and went into an awful reaction. Now, the brilliant thing about the entire crisis was that I wasn't around when it started getting hairy and everybody else was tripped out on Acid, and by the time I did get back the guy was nearly in shock - and he had done next to nothing. - and it was rather hairy (High-level pedigree involved here as well). Heck, half the people I saw in Baga or Calangute were fried. And believe me, they were as brown as I was. So this theory that Drug culture in Goa is an alien import by the Israeli's is a myth - it is quite a Delhi/Bombay thing there.
Indians are higher and more fried than ever before. I remember speaking to a dealer once rather recently (Damn, why am I writing this? No wait, Atal Vajpayee is trying to make Drug usage acceptable, I love this country), anyway the guy was a African (any wonder why all of them have suddenly gone underground as one very irritated friend called me up at 3 on Sunday morning to tell me - "Where are all the dealers in this city?") he told me that he sells around 10 grams on a weeknight and over 30-40 on weekends - and this is in summer, and this guy is one of Bombay's smaller dealers. In winter the numbers shoot up incredibly.
And the strange part, is that it is all believable - because in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore (at least these are the three cities I've seen things happening) - people friggin' hopped up every weekend on all sorts of substances. What do you think happens in the loos of all those clubs, why do you think so many people come out sniffling or suddenly knock their heads back? Do you think the clubs have no idea? What are you, naive? The last large wedding I went for was a powder festival.
And it is incredibly easy to get any substance - and not terribly expensive.
And that is just South American powder. The story for Afghan poppy powder is quite different and equally scary at a level. I've never shot myself up, but I know way too many people who do, but far fewer than the guys who snort powder. In fact, it is a rarity to meet someone in Bombay from a similar social circle who has never stuffed his or her nose. And I have no idea what this means for society on the whole. But I guess, free easy money does this.
Not very much longer before we get an Indian Scarface - and by the way, this is the new way for the Indian underworld to make money, and man they're raking it in.
India Shining = India Snorting!

Wrong drug!

Late Friday night seeing CNN-IBN's contrived 'Hidden Camera' story on the 'underbelly' culture - (c'mon it looks badly set-up, how stoned must you be to believe that b*ll?) which I happened to be watching at the Doctor's house, a quick realisation struck both of us. That bugger had made one critical error - he thought he was doing some Bolivian instead he got hit with China White. Poison, my big fat behind. Simple case of doing the wrong drug is quantities even the most hardcore addicts don't touch.
Obviously trace levels of the drug they want to find are so low and barbituates so high. And that is why one person is dead and another almost died. There is a reason most people do a tester.
If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about - read Erowid. In fact, every journalist on this case should do some compulsary reading at Erowid - because don't bloody confuse your drugs - if you do like that bugger did - just because you find a white powder doesn't mean anything or presuppose any effect. Heck, I'ld advise them to do a few lines before they talk through their behinds.
Listen, end of the day, the guy did consume drugs and it isn't surprising that a particular someone defends him from Manali of all places. You think he goes there just for the R&R? Guess again. And we got the standard 'Young people of today' talk. Ya right - no wonder three kids from W-Block GK-1 got caught up in this, and while they might not have done any that night, I find it difficult to believe that they had no idea what was going on.
One of the more grotesque signs of economic development is the creation of 15-30 year olds with money to blow and who choose to blow it on drugs. Sometimes, I worry that the entire city of Bombay is hopped up on something or the other and its not as if Delhi and Bangalore are very far behind. It was only this weekend after all the dealers got scared shitless that something might happen to them that they didn't take phone calls. No wonder people are cursing the bugger all over the place.
But, I'm just wondering why on earth he was doing what he was with his Dad's PA? That is still kinda weird, and makes you think twice about the stories you heard - including of one strange death in Australia. And Apollo's 'discreet' nature has been now blown apart - I wonder if the fact that one former Union Minister died of an 'unmentionable' disease will now come out as well?

Friday, June 02, 2006


One dies because he had a bad habit of dipping his wick in all sorts of candles and another is dying because he did too much of South America's biggest export (after footballers and supermodels). Will anyone write about it? Erm, no.
Too short a post you say!
Well, OK, I'll add some fluff to it, after all I'm supposedly a journalist and should be good at this fluff thing. That said, I'm nowhere near the masters of fluff!
So just like the fact we will never know why civic bodies in India will start work conviniently just before tens of meters of monsoon rain flood their work sites, and why some elbows are more precious than others, certain things are best kept mysterious.
And a small bit of advice if you ever sell any computer - rip out the hard drive and physically destroy it or just use something really good to wipe it clean. Don't leave your data there - like this dimwit did!
And now we know what makes him sing - so can someone call in the Ghostbusters please!
The sky outside is dark grey and the waves are crashing into Marine Drive. No, I don't find it particularly romantic!

Anyway, here is something nice I found at YouTube! to make most of you smile!

EDIT : I just found this amazing bit of literature online...

"Eureka! Eureka! Now is the occasion that Archimedes ought to have reserved those ecstatic exclamations for! (Imagine whooping up on realising that there is spilled a little water on soaking oneself in a bathtub! Which is why I admire Newton more – at least he didn’t go yippee-yayeeii-yo on seeing the apple fall.) Anyway, we don’t feel obligated by the gimmickry of genius to declare our momentous ‘Eureka’ espial of the wellspring of world’s well-being. So, very modestly, if history has ever known a bit of chemistry during its making, you shall have a lot of it hereunder."

What can I say, knowing its source! Why, I ask you, why! IIPM will never lose its ability to amaze! I wonder if the great Ponytail wrote this himself?
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