Saturday, September 30, 2006

Can you write such things?

I read The Economic Times more out of 'having to' rather than 'wanting to'. Occasionally during the daily story scan I come across prime examples of language abuse. But these words in Thursday's edition scared me, and I quote...

"LIBERALS , who display flippant approach towards internal security , and pusillanimous social workers on Wednesday came out in defence of Mohamamd Afzal."

Afzal is a terrorist, and he has been punished. However, Nandita Haskar has saved one innocent man (SAR Geelani) from going to the gallows before. This time, I don't think she is pleading for Afzal's release she is just protesting against the death penalty. I've mixed thoughts on the death penalty. Just because Mehbooba Mufti is saying that he should be spared doesn't mean we do a IC-814 again. I do not usually agree with the death penalty, even though I do have problems when it comes to child rapists. However, keeping Afzal alive can lead to another Azhar mahmood type of situation, and I agree with Greatbong here, Afzal's being alive is more dangerous to India than Afzal dying.
However, that does not stop the right of anyone to protest the death penalty. And more importantly it does not give a paper as mainstream as ET the right to write words like these because some misguided RSS-nik writes there. I'm no leftist in capatilist garb, I'm fairly liberal but for gods sake, that doesn't mean I'm not nationalistic or that I don't support our troops fighting a proxy-war against Pakistan, this line makes it seem that just because I have liberal social values, I'm anti-national. How could they let such a line pass! Even more proof in my eyes of ET's nose-dive to mediocrity and beyond. By the way, I guess most of the younger readership that Rahul and his team are targeting at ET is also 'liberal'.
I know people in Times House both in Delhi and Bombay read this blog. If someone could explain to me what such a writer is doing in a BCCL publication and is allowed to give copy unedited, it would help.
EDIT : It seems that now ToI is also entitling other people to silly, animated opinions opinions, and not just their advertisers. But, as I pointed out above, its not that Indian newspapers have a through editorial process running, Honey! I mean other than one or two places. This bloggers are bad will get you so much publicity its not funny and thank god you used a byline, because now I know who to send that letterbomb to. (Hey, she does say the blogosphere is being by half-wits and sociopaths.. how did she ever figure out?)

Friday, September 29, 2006

gaming, India, et al.

Now, for a second I will remove my "Oh my god" expression I had while playing the XBox360 for the past seven-odd weeks and do a slightly serious post about gaming in India.
Microsoft told me they were launching the XBox360 here almost six months ago and told me they would fire a console over to my place almost three months ago, since I knew I was coming back to Delhi by then, it made sense to wait till I got back as well as time any review closer to launch date. Anyway, I've had a console lying around for a while now and it feels nice to be gaming aggressively again, something I stopped once I joined EchTee which coincided with my driving my Dreamcast to the ground.
Now, the XBox360 is the latest in a long string of attempts to sell consoles in India, there was the Atari 2600 which was imported, the Nintendo Game System brought here and branded the 'Samurai' (I had one of those) and then 'Media', some local company reworked the NES with different catridges which were cheaply avilable in Palika. Then Stracon, a company headed by Siddhartha Ray, a discredited former businessman (He ran a company which defrauded the government telcos, some claim it was a front company for a recently murdered politician) launched the Dreamcast. There was next to no support for the console, and even controllers had to be bought from the bustling grey market in Palika Bazaar. Then last year, a company called Milestone entertainment finally 'legally' released the Playstation2 in India. Again, there is almost no support, and if you want the latest games, you should just go to Palika.
Now, stories on gaming in the Indian media talk mostly of shady Java-based games, which are not very cool at all. In fact, most of them suck and are only good for time-pass, not serious, involved gaming. You really can't do that on a Nokia 3220 can you? And the games are awfully 2-D, I'm sorry but the tripe (even written by former colleagues) hyping up these companies is mostly cock and bull. Come out with a serious title, even for the PC with good graphicsand then we're talking. Until then, stop trying to fool idiotic peers of mine. The Indian gaming industry does not exist, it is just a bunch of silly companies making stupid games for phones.
That brings us to the XBox360, which is rather unique in many ways. Firstly, this is the first time that the company making the console is actually marketing it in India. If you ignore the Samurai-Nintendo business, which was virtually that, but anyway. Secondly, replicating (ie: pirating) games on the console will be near impossible, please note the word 'near', but I wouldn't put anything past the guys at Palika. But, MS is desperately trying to keep the prices of the games down, and that would be crucial, but even then (and even with region locking, which the PS3 will not have) how low is low? Would you pay Rs 2000 for a game?
More importantly would you pay the price of a low-end computer for a console. I would, but would you? See, even if the market for the console crosses 50000 in six months, and I hope I'm wrong, is that a sustainable market? I mean, gaming moves in the millions scale globally and it is worth over $50 billion according to some studies, which usually other idiotic peers of mine, who think gaming is for bachchas don't realise. Gaming is not for kids, a significant, actually surprisingly large amount of gamers are not kids, they are adults in their second or third console. How many PS2's would have been sold in India, quite a few I assume, but not more than 150000, maybe 250000 if you stretch it and that isn't because it wasn't available through official channels, but because even at Rs 12000 and Rs 100 games (pirated), it was seen to be a bit steep.
So at Rs 20000 and Rs 24000 and with shitloads of money in the Indian economy will the XBox360 rock. I really hope so, it is a really good console and I hope that the online gaming through XBox Live also takes off, I would really want to bash up buddies in Bombay and Bangalore, virtually of course. But, there are a couple of issues here too. One, while the XBox360 is a console targeting 'young adults', parimarily 'working young adults' elsewhere, in India, MS will have to go after rich kids and that is still a limited target group. Many kids might be able to afforda XBox360 but would rather still go to a cybercafe to play games because they would want upsupervised access to games (that is important, how many kids have a big TV and a broadband connection at home, ignoring big overgrown kids like me).
This is a great console, and since BillyG started giving money to cure AIDS, the guilt that some folks might have buying a MS product would diminish a bit. But still, I do have my doubts. Not that it would stop me from playing the one in my house though!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Photographer angst...

Who are the most abused people in a news-organisation in India and you will invariably find that it is the people who take the picture or shoot the video. As a reporter I don't think its fair. While many older generation photographers and camerapersons were guys with literally nothing better to do in life with a few very notable exceptions who today run about carrying some of the most pointlessly expensive equipment in the world - I met this clown the other day from some local neighbourhood thingjammy with a D200 and was amazed, many of the younger kids, guys my age, in the profession are trained to do this job and trained to do it well. And they do it very, very well.
My problems with photographers is not that, even with many of the younger and better photographers, especially those who work on feature stories and not news stories should do more boot work. My job as a writer is to write, I can visualise some of the images that might look good in my story and I can also help in organising photoshoots, but like what has happened to me this week, I spend too much of my time organising photoshoots. Especially when you are stuck doing a story which covers a rather large sector and you have to shoot lots of people in various parts of the country, this becomes a energy-sapping chore.
And I don't get it! I speak to my peers from international publications who do much stories and their photographers never travel with them on such a feature. They operate independently, however the writer/anchor tells the photographer that these are the people and these are the sort of pictures that need to be taken. The photographers are usually good enough and have brains enough to take and even create some unique shots.
However, in my publication where we pride ourselves and rightly so on our visuals, sometimes just doing the shots and conceptualising the shots that really you should not, takes time away from my reportage. A photo-journalists job is not just to click, it is more and I don't understand why so many of them don't think, and I'm lucky that I have worked with one colleague who is very good. I still believe that they sometimes get derided by reporters who think of themselves as superstuds and divas, "we suffer so much." I know for a fact that in one national newsweekly after the blasts in Mumbai on July 7, the reporters didn't move their asses, while ths phtographers ran to the scene. However, it was the 'reporters' who were praised. Bullcrap, because I saw what happened, and that wasn't the only example.
But, I'm scared sometimes of sending photographers alone on big shoots, because my editor will end up screaming at me, "Its YOUR byline." I'm paranoid of letting photographers completely loose, because I get screamed at if something goes wrong, and this applies particularly to some guys I've worked with. You suddenly see what they shot and you're flabbergasted because I can shoot better pictures on better settings. There was one guy I worked with who had set his DigiSLR to Auto-ISO and the ISO readings on the photos were all over the place, and the best part was that the guy didn't know. This is your livelihood, you should know what every button, switch and knob can or cannot do, you are not an amatuer, buddy. Another guy didn't even land up for a shoot because he was busy somewhere else and never bothered to inform me. I had told a colleague long ago, written down, "This is the story I am doing, this is who you have to shoot." He forgot.
And thats why you need photo editors here. Someone I can call and brief and help him out organising stuff, but not someone I need to micromanage. Its just that I'm a bit angry right now because I'm pooped getting things done. Things that are really way beyond my job profile. But then again, I guess it comes with the territory.
Someone has entered a Wikipedia entry about me, I cannot edit it because I remember meeting Jimmy Wales, the 'benevolent dictator' of Wikipedia back in early 2005, in fact, I was the first Indian journalist to interview him and he himself that no-one should edit their own profiles. It is ethically incorrect. Little wonder that half of India's corporates get their PR firms to edit their Wikipedia profiles.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The grass is pretty green still

On the right side of 30 that is. Two more years to go before I hit the dreaded three-zero. Damn, I feel old! Oh well.
The gambling season has started with a bang! I lost money on Saturday, quite a bit of it and made it all back yesterday. Heck, I even got a dealt trail yesterday. It was past twelve, I so I discount that to birthday luck. My disaffection towards alcohol is surprising me, on Saturday there was a bottle of nice Islay Malt doing the rounds and I only had one drink from it. This growing old and the associated responsibility around it is getting me down. No parties planned for now, maybe will take the folks out for dinner and buy a cake for office. Lets see.

Friday, September 22, 2006

There is so much happening...

I didn't say it first!
But I had heard about it, I'm not so sure about the Delhi Mirror part though, because that might actually be the brand they use to launch the baby. So is this like that stupid 'No Poaching Agreement' that they signed - the story goes that good ol' Sammy paid Shobhana so many compliments that she got bowled over and then he pulled out a sheet of paper and got her to sign it. Of course, it wasn't HT, because sammy didn't want a bunch of deadwood, but the fantastic 'no-poaching' agreement, after of course decimating the City Reporting and Sports bureaus as well as the Desk (thankfully, they didn't touch the Business Bureau, ToI does have more akal than you think). Therefore, HT has been forced to hire people 'removed' from Times or people at fantastically huge salaries from videsh.
Plus, the Indian Express has launched blogs!
And I had even more debates on the internet and media coming ahead, but before that I'll try and remove the gawky 'Oh-my-Gawd' talk from the XBox360 coverage, given that me and Snakeman are the only two desi journos to have been given the consoles to review and not played them at some random event. I'll do a low-down bit on gaming and India. And no, I will not make the cardinal error of treating shady mobile games as full-fledged games that everybody else seems to do.
But since that will take time, this will have to do for now.
By the way, the girls you see below are the new faces of Lakme India Fashion Week. I'm really surprised Anurita made it though, given well.... forget it! Hey, and anything for cheap hits! No really, this was lying in my inbox, even though I have never covered fashion, and well, since half the Google searches are for silly 'sexy' things, I might as well put it up.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

100,000 visitors, 450 posts!

This is the 450th post on the blog and the other day, the blog steamrolled past 100,000 visitors since I installed the Statcounter code back at the end of June 2005. That is an average of 222 page hits a day, which is quite a lot even if you exclude my own visits. Not bad, if I say so myself!
Adjusting back to Delhi has been a bit weird, I've been bored more than anything else. After all how much can you possibly play videogames, even if it is on the new XBox 360. Since my self-declared semi-sabbatical from drinking, rather a sabbatical from out and out 'lets see what drinking fifteen whiskeys does to the human body' experiments every second night, life feels strangely empty. I don't know what that actually means, if that really means that my life had degenerated to the point that I was on the verge of alcoholism, or maybe even was an alcoholic. Well, I am reading a lot more all over again, and really should start watching more movies.
Office on the other hand has been strange. One of my editors and a man who despite the fact he constantly took my trip, I genuinely enjoyed working and writing for, is leaving. I've been in this organisation for three years and had become really fond of the guy, I mean as a journalist you like working for some people and I enjoyed working for him. He is taking up a big new job, and I'll miss him, anyway there are another two weeks - basically for me to think up what I should give him as a farewell gift. And these words are not being written because I know that he reads this blogs, I genuinely mean them. Well, even though when he does go, office seating will be juggled and I will be brought back from the Kuiper belt seat that I currently have and I hate.
Other colleagues - office has changed a lot since I was in Delhi last and despite the unexpected churn at the top, things are more or less same there, but colleagues on a more equal footing. Well, I don't know if they read this blog but I really want to use this service on one of them. I'm fairly thick skinned, but badly timed jokes are really not appreciated. And when you have the hairstyle he does (like the Manager character in Dilbert, seriously) I would refrain from making jokes. Anyway, I don't want to get started on everyone else, including psychotic young female colleagues, which is enough said.
Chalo, I have to work now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What next?

I wonder why this was not the anchor story in the papers today? It did get a mention inside, but it really boggles the mind doesn't it? Not enough people donate eyes, kidneys, livers or hearts, and I'm fairly sure despite my new and improved 'drink less, east out less' lifestyle, I might need some of those. But really, hats off to the Chinese docs who pulled this off.
And what is with the TV channels all focussing on the occult - I just saw a story on Headlines Today (of all channels!) where farmers in the village of Mainpuri where a small plane carrying former Union Minister Madhavrao Scindia went down claiming that the fields are haunted with the spirits of the eight people who died in that crash. One farmer even claimed to be beaten up by all eight ghosts for having the temerity to have tilled the fields.
Methinks too much country alcohol is being consumed by people.
On another note, me acquired a new Che t-shirt (I would wonder what Mr Guevara would think at his visage being used to make lots of money) all the way from Cuba. Nice. But I prefered the Havana Club Rum more.
EDIT : Swati sent this picture of Che and Fidel playing Golf. Nice. Plus, when we are talking about the leftist icon whose image must have visited most upper middle class kids wardrobes at least once (even if they were not psuedo commies) you must read and watch The Motorcycle Diaries - Che's diary of his travels through South America initially on a Triumph motorcycle and then just hitching it. Fascinating.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Civic sense!

You can argue that in India today, the most attractive car available in India right now (without going through the duress of importing it) is the Mercedes CLS, ideally a CLS 55 AMG (Isaw one at Phoenix Mills a while ago). And of course, the Murcielago is also avaialble in India. But lets be practical, I can't and I doubt I ever will be able to afford those two cars, or even I could, by the time I've scammed my way to so much money, I would not have the time to enjoy them. Therefore, the most sensible and technologically most advanced car for a 'nice price' is.. the Honda Civic.
I spent quite a lot of time inside one just falling in love with its blue glow and the digital speedo. For someone who has grown up on a steady diet of car racing video games - notably the Need For Speed series and doesn't have an European sneer towards Japanese cars, the new Civic with its Katana inspired headlights and its cabin is the first car built for the Playstation generation. And it costs a bit over ten lakhs, too much for me just now, but hopefully in a few years time, I know what I want!
This post was also an excuse for me to show some brilliant adverts from Honda which we never see India. Honda does some of the best creative work of any of the car companies.
Impossible Dream

The advert for the Civic in the UK

And there was 'that ad' for the old Civic

Brilliant no!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Musically speaking!

It's no secret that a conscience can sometimes be a pest
It's no secret ambition bites the nails of success
Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief

Over love...
U2, The Fly

I have U2's Best of 1990-2000 DVD and I was watching it yesterday after I got back from Vikram's place. You know when you listen to songs after a long time they do sound very different. This song from Achtung Baby was not the song from this album that I remember or listen to the most, but it does sound different now. I wonder why?
I went to the Garden of Five Senses yesterday where Bombay based new-age rock band Zero was playing. Good performance, the guys played well even though the audience was filled for some strange reason with gawky school kids. No problem with that other than that on the verge of turning 28, it made me one of the distinguished older members of the audience.
Another point one has to make is that music writing in India is awful. I mean Indi Hazra over at HT is a nice guy and all that, but musically like most bars and clubs in India he is stuck in a 60-70's time warp, as is Vir who literally litters his copy with ancient references. This entire 'youth' business is very nice and all, but please man, do you guys even have any clue what 'youth' are listening to? I was terrified to discover that there is a Goth revival happening in Delhi and Bombay, and thats scary. But even though I might not like what Indi and Vir write, at least they do mention their music no matter how geriatric. For most other papers - or well, the other paper - its all about Him-mess!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

IPC, Sec 377

The Hindustan Times today carried a couple of articles questioning the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The piece by Vir even though it was a bit idhar-udhar at times was the best written of the lot. Even the NYT picked up the thread. While, I whole-heartedly support gay rights, and I'm pleasantly surprised at HT's articles, I'm not at all confident that anything will change. The only reason being middle class hipocrisy in India. Face it, I'm sure I'm get some slamming comments saying that because I support gay rights I'm a 'gay lover', and even though some people never elucidate their thoughts on the subject, if you talk to them about homosexuality, its a no-no.
But first lets read Section 377 shall we?

377. Unnatural offences
Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life (changed to : 'transportation for life' in 1956) , or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

This quite clearly means that anal sex of any form, and even oral sex, rather when it is performed on a man can be seen to be violating the act. Now, this has not stopped some very high-profile people from being quite openly gay in this country. There is a rather large gay subculture in India, we all know homosexual people, live around them, work with them and are perfectly fine. Yet, when you go home and bang its legal but they can't 'do it' legally. Which frankly is quite silly.

But legalising gay sex by scrapping Section 377, well, maybe the animal bit should stay there would need to be a fair amount of public debate and you would need to involve a lot of rather closed minded government officials and polticians in the debate. And they will all claim how people will not accept it. Its just like 'journalists' in the pocket of one famous film director tried to talk down
Omkara because of its language. The argument being that the liberal use of the word 'chutiya' would offend people, even though by the time most Delhi kids, boys at least, are in Class 6, they use the word as a term of endearment. Yet, there were always enough people who despite that didn't want to subject their wives to the abuse.
I'm not arguing for gay marriage, we are not that evolved a country as yet, and there will despite what Vir has written be almost no public acceptance of openly gay politicians or even moviestars by mainstream India at least right now. There is mad middle-class hipocrisy - Videshi log karte hain theek hai, India mein culture nahin hai. That is the sort of attitude I'm talking about.
When we are on this subject, I read a very disturbing story in ToI. Hmm, even though Nishit died in a tragic car crash on Lodi Road, his movie "Summer in my Veins" explores the same issue. Anyway, there is a gig by the Bombay-based band called Zero at Garden of Five Senses at eight, so I'll be off in a bit.

EDIT : HT started off, now everybody has joined the bandwagon. - ToI, DNA and UndieTV

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sit back and say... Hah!

There are people who are just made for the internet, and Bossman is one of them. Though he has discontinued blogging (or so he claims) he still surfs some of the weirdest sites, and twice or thrice a day he sends me links. Here are some of them. OK, some of them might be old, but what the heck!
Searching for sex - the world over!
Blufr - whats the 'r' thing all about anyway!
Japanese commercials - or least the best of them. Don't blame me for brain disintegration!
Helping you discover music!
101 versions of Stairway to Heaven!
Online TV - channels from everywhere.
Have fun, courtesy Bossman.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Isn't this a media blog?
Have you noticed something about the business media lately - they're all trying to become more tech heavy, by carrying more personal tech stories and reviews. Here is the fun part - its all cheating. The other day I read a Mumbai bylined story in ET, I'll skip my opinions of all the pink papers, but the story was essentially how Nokia is trying to copy Motorola and start using phone brand names instead of numbers. Wow, good story you might say!
But I distinctly recall reading the same story on either Gizmodo or Engadget. So I did a search and voila - the story was on Engadget. I read it in ET Chennai yesterday. And here it is. Granted, its not plagarism - its inspiration, but people do subscribe to feeds and stories like this don't exactly skip my attention. I'm just saying credit where it is due or rejig the story. I'm pretty sure the Nokia India spokeswomen must have been awfully confused when they got the call about this. They usually tend to be about such things. But, just because you wait a week and hope no-one remembers... Hmmm...
I'm not saying the story doesn't hold - it just looks awfully 'inspired'. The story could have sufficiently rejigged to look at how names work better - the headline itself made my brain make the connection - 'Haven't I read this somewhere?' Badly written story, and for gods sake, if you have to get idea off the net, ummm, work on them.

Even more searches

Strangest Google search string to hit the blog to date, and it is a bit troubling. But why would somebody use Google to do this I don't know. And why am I on the first page of these results? Anyone, there is someone is Autralia looking for a contract killer. Cops if you're reading this, this blog is not written by a contract killer but a badly contracted journalist.
Let see, what are the other interesting searches...
More illegal stuff... (I'm #1 here!!!)
Another #1 - but why?
What the....
Google PageRank surprises me everyday!
EDIT : Pimpin'

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Life, or something like that...

Seven suicides in the last 24 hours, thats a lot by any measurement even if you concede that Delhi is a megapolis. But then again, these were people who killed themselves in areas under the jurisdiction of the Delhi police, god knows the statistics from other parts of the NCR. And pill-popping has reached endemic levels in Bangalore.
There have been enough times I've been depressed, I mean very low down, thinking I haqve no self-worth. Usually, its been a bottle that has given me companionship, I've drunk myself silly, passed out, woken up with a hangover and felt shitty for putting myself through the mother of all headaches. Despite everything, and that includes the degeneration of my personal life over three years ago, I've never wanted to kill myself.
And yet, according to some people, I'm pretty much a prime candidate for being a wrist-slitter or a pill popper, coming from a broken home and all that. Yes, but my tormented life history drove me in another direction altogether - do things that shut out the past from your head and don't think about it. This does not mitigate the fact that for years I've been running away from my past never reconciling myself to what happened, and the inability to do so has made me a complete jackass when it comes to relationships. But then again, I guess I'm not much different than most other men between the ages of 25-30. But that is another story.
I've never worked out why people jump off buildings, shoot themselves or just consume poison. Sometimes, I believe, as in the case with the farmers in Vidarbha, it is the very simple fact that of the ease with which you can kill yourself. I'm sure if I had a freely available Beretta lying around, I would be more edgier, maybe more inclined to kill myself after a bad day at work or after heartbreak. Instead, I just punish my liver and nowadays I'm even going easy on that because after all, what has my poor liver done to deserve such madness.
I've sadly known people who have killed themselves, for whatever reasons. I've known (and know) people who almost killed themselves but either conscience (that of breaking their parents) or fate (being found by a friend before they succeeded) saved them. I've asked them why they decided to end it all, and somehow they can't give me a clear answer. With the benefit of hindsight sometimes the decisions you made look insanely stupid. I can say that about certain things that I have done as well, things that I've never been proud of later and still irritate me today, sometimes to the point of becoming obsessive.
We all have inner demons that we have to face up to. I know I've got 'issues', some of them rather serious. But tackling the demons that are playing with your cerebrum does not involve blowing your brain out. The demons will always exist and you'll never be able to get rid of them, but the key is to make peace with them. Otherwise, we'll all be condemned to become another statistic that we read about in the morning papers.
I'm off to the deep south today, any suggestions where I can catch dinner at Chennai? A reasonably priced dinner.
On the musical front, I've been listening to a lot of new music and for some strange reason I really like the All-American Rejects. Musically they might sound a bit pop-rock-ish, but dang, their lyrics are good.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five years on...

Welcome to a new world!
Thats was the banner headline that the newspapers should have carried on September 12, 2001. Nineteen men changed the way the world was and impacted virtually everybodies lives in some small way or another. Even half a world away, even for us sitting in India.
So what was doing when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. I was sitting in office, EchTee those days when the peon Daya came in and said, "Voh Amrika mein voh building usme aag lag gaya." My bosses cabin had a old 14" TV and we switched over to CNN to see the North tower ablaze. Two-three minutes later the South tower was hit and I watched, mouth agape. My News Editor had by that time also come to where we were along with many other colleagues and we just watched, flabbergasted as CNN began playing various angles of the United plane smashing into the South Tower, I didn't know what to to do or say. I was a mere trainee and had joined the newspaper some two months ago and there was not much that could do, other than say what can the India angle be. But it was almost seven in the evening, half the world would be on their various ways home.
Then just as I was about to leave, the Pentagon was hit...
Some guys had hit America where it hurts, and bloody hard./ Not just America, they had hit New York, the world's greatest city, the Rome of our times. All that I could say was Whoa!
I went to Rohit's place after that and we watched more of the attacks, but by then there was too much information for the mind to process, there were leads and counter-leads and all sorts of things going on. Callous as it might sound, we went out to catch some grub knowing full well that we had tons of friernds in Manhattan who worked Downtown. And we also knew that we couldn't get through to them and wished they were all well. My cousin brother, who those days lived in the Village, somehow managed to sleep through the entire thing and only woke up later, another friend studying in NYU also staying in the village went through ten rolls of film. A third person I knew saw the entire thing from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
Did I know that things would be different even before George Bush climbed onto the rubble. Yup, I did, everybody did. Flying would be different, not that domestic flying in India was ever very easy. The economy might go into a slight state of shock and the price of oil might go up and you knew the Taliban would fall.
Did I think Iraq would have happened, did I think that I would pay 50 bucks for a litre of petrol, did I think that cousins and friends would be stopped and interrogated by the TSA. My cousin Geetanjali, 5-foot nothing, and quite Texan - born and brought up in Dallas gets stopped quite often because of her name - Geetanj-ALI - you don't know how to reconcile that, another Cousin Tichti (thats not his real name) quite rotund, born in London and a UK passport holder was interrogated for four hours at Newark because he happened to have visted India twice in the last one year. (Me, with stubbly beard, a recipe for disaster my father warned me! walked into Atlanta. Makes no sense!) Those are just random stories, and I'm sure everybody who is 'inconviniently' brown has there fair share of stories too.
Five years, lot has changed in my life as well. My personal life went through its own 9/11 - weird isn't it, the way we classify any massively traumatic experience as a 9/11-esque one but like New York, I've recovered somewhat, with a few scars though the nightmares continue sometime, because no matter how much you want to destroy the connection your synapses made, you can't. You can just hope to shove them into some corner, deep, deep inside your brain. Of course, in case you do such a thing psychoactive substances should be avoided, but I didn't know that.

Life does move on, but sometimes it doesn't, sometimes events of the past still dictate your present and maybe even your future. Maybe five years on, it won't matter anymore. I'll be 32 by then heading rapidly towards 33, god knows where the world will be and where I will be be. God knows, I might even be dead by then! But, all I know is that I saw the world change, Live on TV!


On another note, because a colleague went to this school and I want to take her trip (heh heh!), I will link the story about the mad nuns of Loreto Convent, Lucknow (TV follow-up). I guess this is what happens when too much occult stuff starts playing on TV. And then, BJP goons, do what they do best! Though the BJP is trying to clarify that these goons might not be 'BJP' workers at all and instead random unemployed youth with BJP flags.


Yet another note, I've added easy feed subscription links on the right bar, just click and enjoy my inanities - I hate the 0 subscriber count. Blogger Beta has changed all the feed links, so please update them. Thanks!

Two cents...

The recent controversy over the national song was rather needless and silly. Anyway, here are my two cents to the entire deal, YouTube vids of the Bharatbala production of two Sanskrit poems written by two very distinguished ummmm... Bengali poets.
How is that for random parochialism. Heh!
Now press play and stand up!

Vande Mataram

Jan Gan Man

OK, so they're not the way you're supposed to sing them, but did you hear the cacophony of the Vande Mataram 'centenary' where out-of-tune politicians ruined he song. Plus will someone please tell me why Arjun Singh is still in the cabinet?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Print and the internet, more thoughts...

Some days ago, I had made a post questioning the survivability of the print media in the age of the internet. Now, after discussing the issue with some some people a bit higher up than me in the profession, I find myself facing a dilemma.
I still do not doubt that some tradional fo4rms of money-spinning activities for nerwspapers will end - Classifieds are changing and papers which are heavily dependant on Classifieds will have to change their delivery models. Yet, people like Naukri and Shaadi have already taken a huge lead and matching them will not be easy.
Now, the main contentions of the people I spoke with are based on one critical assumption. English is booming, and while readership surveys show how vernacular papers have grown dramatically, they belie the fact that there has been major consolidation in the vernacular newspaper industry. Quite the opposite of what has happened in English. The last 24 months, rather the last twelve months has seen a massive boom in the number of English media in India. Just look at Bombay, from having one massively dominant English paper, it has four newspapers with readership exceeding 2.5 lakh today. English paper readership in that city has more than doubled.
Of course, this is all true if we take the readership surveys seriously, because honestly speaking they are rather sillily conducted - and the extrapolations are very weird. But still, it does give an indicative idea of what is going on. And what makes these surveys fun is when you start drilling down. For example, while absolute numbers might have shown a decline, simply because number of readers 'per issue' tumbles, per issue sales might shoot up. And then there is the 'borrowed copy' concept - in one particular publication, 60 per cent of its readers read 'borrowed copies', which is quite a dubious stat if you ask me. But fair enough, stats can be drilled this way or that. But end of the day, readership has gone up on the whole.
Now, the internet (thanks, Shaym for replying). While people consume news online, many sites see selective viewing by readers, when they visit a site, few readers spend more than say 20 minutes. Stickiness is an issue. And this does not address the main concern of monetizing the web surfer. I could, possibly (actually very easily) know that surfer from IP address XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX is a 20-something male based on the profile of stories he views on the site network. I could even know more if I make a site registration enabled, and to make sure I get accurate data, I throw in a prize or something or a lucky draw once a week for all registered users. Even then, I have cover the costs of the prize (minimal), net servers (cheap) etc. Fair enough, the internjet is cheap, far cheaper to run than the massive distribution costs of the physical world. After all, even with a cover price of Rs 10, the magazine I work for easily makes a loss of Rs 25-30 on the printing and distribution front, advertising more than makes up. Yet, despite some limited targeted adverts, I still don't know how the internet can be truly profitable enough to run as a SBU just now.
Anyway, I shouldn't bother myself with all that right now... readership increases and dot-com and all doesn't hide the fact that journalism standards are falling. And good people are in demand especially in the higher echelons.
I've been listening to a lot of nice new music of late, I'll write about that in the next post. Till then, have a great Saturday!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I find myself having joined the ranks of the thousands of drunks who facing down a toilet bowl full of their half-digested food suddenly decide that enough is enough and finally have the guts to admit that they have a 'slight' drinking problem. On saturday night I was at some WIFW party and well, to put it bluntly, my old friend Johnnie snuck up behind me and whacked across the skull with a bottle. And matters were made worse by dear friend Doc (when the models come to play, others follow...) who discovered that Red Bull and Johnnie Black make for an amazing combination.
I do not know what happened after two at night, its like a blur. I could have slobbered all over someone, and if I did I really apologise. Somehow at four in the morning I found myself hurtling at 180k's down towards Noida and beyond in my car and it took me a second to realise that a friend was driving it. Then I ended up at another friends house, who just heard me on the phone and figured that I might kill myself if I got home and generally that I needed someone to make sure nothing happened. Net-net, on Sunday I woke up with not the mother of all hangovers, because I did throw-up, but I felt like shit. I still feel like shit, and its Tuesday.
I have no idea how much daaru I tanked down, but I'm pretty sure it must have dangerously close to "Let me try and kill myself" levels. I don't know who I'm kidding, I'm not 18 anymore and I can't pull off such stunts without doing serious damage. So I have made the following decisions.
For reasons slightly to do with health and self-preservation, I am not drinking for the next three weeks - that is until I turn Thirty minus two. OK, I will leave myself a little loophole, which is that my only drinking will be white wine, and a maximum of two glasses of that. After my birthday, we will hit the gambling season, and even though I'm sure Johnnie and his dear friend Jack plan to pay me several vists over those days, I will hopefully manage to enjoy their company a bit less.
Plus, I have started walking/jogging again. OK, so it was basically an excuse to buy some nice new shoes, but still.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


It has been raining all day long, well, not Bombay-esque rain just raining. Enough to get me drenched on the short walk down to the Metro station near office. Anyhow, there is this Fashion Week party I might attend tonight, lets see. Don't mind getting pissed drunk, it is a saturday, but I have to watch the weight though!
I don't have any 'serious' topics to write about, maybe I don't wish to write about 'serious' things right now. I've been doing a bit of trolling around YouTube and found some gems from the past. Enjoy!

And one more....