Thursday, October 29, 2009
At their heart, most pseudonymous identities are collaborations between the author, who provides the outline of a persona, and the audience, which fills in the blanks. The result is a sort of virtual superhero, an oracle more accurate than any mortal could hope to be. Compared to the elusive mastermind of the collective imagination, the real author inevitably disappoints.
From this month’s Wired.
Back to regular programming now. Which over here usually means clearing up masses of spam comments placed by guys who run Search Engine Optimisation firms. Other than that what news? Well, some Undies have been left out to dry as Undie is getting rid of Imagine – which should actually be known as the Sameer Nair family show (with Rakhi Sawant on the side). With Turner exiting Real, effectively the second flop channel after Peter and Indrani Mukerjea’s INX whatever, they’ve decided to get into used Undies. Not that I watch much of what are termed as General Entertainment Channels, though I must admit I did see a bit of Rakhi’s show and I will watch bits and pieces of ‘Who wants to be beaten up by an abusive husband?’ where Rahul Mahajan fritters away whatever little is left of his father’s legacy.
But good for him, everybody has the right to make money. And abuse substances. Even Andre Agassi. Listen the guy did drugs at a low-ebb of his life and I don’t know why the entire contrite moral brigade – hypocrites that they are – are condemning him. I actually found myself agreeing with Rick Reilly’s assessment of Agassi on his blog and I will buy the book. I liked Andre Agassi as a kid, his was a player with heart and not like a robot – both the one Agassi played against and the other one today. The robots are good but dull. And Agassi is the one that married Steffi Graf!
In other news, well it seems that the media’s horrible tradition of personal life destruction continues. And we stick with the same network, I’m not surprised at marriages breaking up and the fascination for older people, but the cast involved sometimes baffles me. To take a guess, there is a reason why some people call the evening prime time talking-head shows on NDTV (other than the 9PM news itself) the ‘boyfriend’ shows. I won’t be a hypocrite and pass comments on the lack of stability in people’s lives, but the sooner that both media bosses and HR inside the companies realize that, particularly their ace reporters/anchors, in both print and television do not have healthy and/or steady personal lives, that is a problem. This is worse than alcohol, well and in many cases it is pretty much responsible for alcohol abuse.
People can call journalists names, accuse us of biases and you know what, we all have biases. I try my utmost to not let my opinion of something affect something I’m working on, but any journalist, even the dumbest ones would be lying if they said that their biases did not impact them. The fact that some of us have been brought up the way we have comes through in the way we write or present. The fact remains that this is a job, and if you are good at what you do, and this is the sad part, you are usually asked to do more than you can handle simply because you are good.
The fact is that most journalists in most organizations would be what club football calls squad players, average for lack of a better word. If you are ‘an International’, and sorry for the football analogies here, you life is destined to be a horrible one. Yes, you will enjoy great professional success, meeting some really important people and your phone-book will bulge, or in some cases your mobile is so full of numbers that it pretty much stops functioning properly. It is a great feeling believe me, but man that completely screws up your sense of priorities and in many cases your life, because above all else it gives you a tremendously inflated opinion of yourself and sometimes you just can’t see clearly of who does matter. This is not about cracking a sale or becoming a General Manager, you really have access to power.
I should know, believe me. Thankfully, most of those closest to me in this profession, other than one notorious hold-out have managed to piece together their lives. Somewhat. But, honestly unless some action is taken, and taken soon things will only get worse. And the action should start from an organisation that needs it more than any other. The one in a disused cinema hall.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Enough cricket, and for that matter enough sport for now. Some people would gleefully be looking at yesterday’s election results and feeling rather pleased with themselves. Other than ordinary Maharashtrians (and Bhupinder Hooda) I’m sure. The Maharashtrian voter might have rejected the Shiv Sena, but the fact remains that one of the most inept state governments in India outside the Communist ruled states has been re-elected.
Unlike Bengali’s who had a clear death-wish for their state (and still do, by backing the Whacky Mammy!), Maharashtrians I guess had to choose between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea, pardon the cliché. Some voters struck Faustian deals and gave Raj Thackeray quite a few seats, but I sincerely hope that one of India’s great states finally gets good government with good policies. And not suffer five more years of suicides and power-blackouts and what not. I’m not saying that the SS-BJP combine should have come to power in Maharashtra, they had no clear policies in place and did not deserve power. But, Maharashtrians just had to look at the other end of NH-6 to see what years of constant power does! Change if it must happen, has to start now and not a few months before the election and to give credit to Raj Thackeray, he did (aided by the Hindi channels in particular – who demonized him to the extent that he became the victim) build an organization.
OK, another weekend has come about and I’ve had a rather fruitful week I must admit. I’m feeling hungry right now, so I am leaving with a little-wittle link to a rather interesting blog. I have no idea who runs it, too much detail for a journalist, I think it is a money man of some sort. But extremely interesting nonetheless. Do read it.
Or you could read this. Only if you want. Don’t blame me, I warned you.
Have a great weekend.
Monday, October 19, 2009
This is a country where a large percentage of the population scrapes by at under a dollar a day, but the gossip pages see fit to show pictures of Delhi’s money-swirling card parties – ‘Ohhh! look at my black money’. OK, I won't be too much of a hipocrite, I also played some cards but I lost money. For the cause of entertainment. So there! Before angry commentors pour scorn on my stupidity/hipocrisy/ass-licking whatever. generally, for me personally this was a arather subdued Diwali as my brother wasn't around, being in a phoren-land. And after my adventures with an old girlfriend, whom we shall call Gin and Tonic on Friday, I really couldn't drink that much the rest of the weekend without feeling sick. Or possibly that was from eating the expired foods that get packed up into Diwali gift-packs. Or breathing the fumes from poisonous Chinese firecrackers.
The only thing that was good this weekend was the Trinidad and Tobago T20 team. Man, they rock!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
That said, the first point is possibly the biggest reason for the large drop in circulation for most papers - notice teh sudden absence of schemes like free shoes or what not along with papers. So the drop in circulation must also have led to a decline in the sale of cheap Reebok shoes - must check on that one. And in a weird sort of way, a decline in circulation is a good thing for everyone - prices of raddi paper completely diverged from each other as more and more newspapers flooded the market. The loss of pages also meant fewer crap stories got printed, not that crap stories have stopped in any which way but they're fewer of them. The downside is that the ads that promise clean male-to-male massages have become more prominent - sometimes I wonder if HT and ToI will survive without those ads? eriously, even the sex sites don't have such brazen adverts. Talk about 'family' newspapers.
Anyway, back to the point, even though things are picking up and there are signs of people movement all over again, I think the high-water mark was reached last year and subsequent floods will never be the same.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Since I'm not exactly Mr Human Rights, may I suggest a quick-fire solution to Delhi's driving woes. Humiliate the city's worst drivers. People caught doing the stupidest things - such as driving on the wrong side of the road to save a 100 meter drive, not using indicators, generally driving like a complete moron and all Bajaj Chetak owners should be given a large 20-point sticker that simply says Main Chu*iya Hoon. No need for fines or anything like that. That might not stop blueline and RTV drivers driving like complete dicks but it will be start.
And while I understand that Sasha Baron Cohen's new movie Bruno is an amazing social satire and makes people face their prejudices, it did mentally scar me. The guy has some balls (literally - no seriously, there is a lot of cock and balls in this movie) but I'm going to have nightmares for a few months and will willingly run into the arms of Mr Wand Mr Chivas, old friends of mine I had forgotten for a while.
Monday, October 12, 2009
So, I watched this to cheer up.
Does anyone else have my peculiar Wikipedia fascination? Not that I'm fascinated by Wikipedia, but where I can spend hours just randomly surfing Wikipedia finding out bizarre things - yesterday I spent hours reading how whales evolved (and related articles, some having nothing to do with anything in general). Don't ask me why or even how I got there. Maybe the copious amounts of Kingfisher Blue I had drunk while Veeru and Dinesh Kartik were batting had something to do with it. But, despite the fact that I support Delhi - no I am not going to fall prey to parochialism and support KR - methinks they're missing AB deVilliers. But it is always good to get in a few games at Feroze Shah Kotla.
A couple of answers to the last post, I have no idea where my friends mom is, I don't even know if she is alive. Sure, it won't be that difficult to find out, I'll have reactivate some contacts, maybe even some I would rather not, but it can be done I guess. Dealing with death is never easy, no matter what age you you have to stare it in the face. I guess I had to deal with it so up close and personal when I was young that I lost a bit of my, I won't call it innocence, but, I lost something.
Both those times I never attended the funerals, the first one I attended was a few weeks after I finished my Class XII boards when another school friend died in Uphaar fire. I won't forget the chaos and the horror of a mass funeral. It isn't as if I had not seen death close up otherwise, as a kid on a drive back from Chittorgarh to Udaipur we saw an accident scene, which let me assure you wasn't pretty. But then again, that wasn't someone close to me. Maybe, all these things helped me acquire that crazy detatched demeanour they say journalists need, call it cynical or whatever, it has to come from experience. Which is why I could pull off assignments like this without getting caught up in the human tragedy of it all, and avoid, for better or for worse, bleeding heart syndrome.
Which is why I cannot become a Naxal apologist like Arundhati Roy. That said, seeing how the sugar lobby has bled Maharashtra dry and the immense poverty in some parts of the state. Weirdly enough, in my 16-odd months as a reporter in Bombay I saw more of interior Maharashtra than I should have - and that is where my antipathy towards Indica's comes from. Yes, there is a dichotomy in India (two India's, maybe not), the rich, even some of the apologists have never seen how poor the dispossed actually are and what the problems really are.
But the fact remains, violence doesn't solve anything - as the Communists have shown in West Bengal - the oppressed can become the oppresser within a generation. And one worse than the previous oppressor ever was. There are solutions to these problems - it is not as if the Naxals are 'anti-development' as some insane NGO's would have you believe. I've seen how ham-handed rehabilitation programs for the dispossed have been in Orissa. Heck, a majority of the Naxal's are nothing more than sexually-depraved extortion racketeers! Some more equal than others.
There are no attempts at trust building by successive governments in the state and centre. As well-meaning the 'Holy Calf' really is, and I won't be a cynic and say that he is a hipocritical bastard whose brother-in-law spends tens of thousands on drinks for him at Delhi's better bars. Because that leads to the rhetorical question - how many 'cuddles' could a bottle of Chivas buy?
OK, I take this post as a nother example of my tremendous ability of 'flow of consciousness' writing with no real aim in sight. But it is so much more fun that structured pieces about fat and balding farts! And then again, it is just the start of 'Swag' week. Yay!
Friday, October 09, 2009
Last night I went to a cocktail reception somewhere in Central Delhi. Not bizarre in itself, other than the fact that I’ve severely cut down my alcohol intake. But big deal, the occasional ‘low-sugar’ Mojito never hurt anyone. Anyway, when I drove down I noticed something peculiar, I knew the lane where the party was happening very well.
A long, long time ago I had a friend who we’ll call A, who used to stay on that lane. Me and another friend of mine, we’ll re-introduce Doc here, used to go over to A’s house quite often. To do what kids did back then. Play video games – Double Dragon, Super Mario; watch cartoons on VHS – classic Transformers and Thundercats is what I can remember right now. Actually quite too many cartoons. These in the days before mobile phones which used to make my paranoid mother even more paranoid than usual when I didn’t land up home with the school bus.
Long story short, during the Class VIII summer holidays when I was summarily packed off to Calcutta to twiddle my thumbs and experiment with cigarettes, A died. I didn’t even know until I came back and called Doc. When A’s mom, who was an extremely sweet lady came to school on the first day, I remember crying and running away and then I never bothered to keep in touch. I don’t know why. I guess I tried to rationalize it – I was 13 at the time. I had barely experienced death, let alone death of someone close to you, someone your age and not some fogey.
Death is a funny thing at any age but when you face the concept in your face when you’re thirteen it does change your thinking in a way I guess. I never thought about it until someone accused me of having a casual attitude towards death. Firstly, I could not get what having a ‘serious’ attitude to death is, but I am horribly bad at comforting people. Because, while A died in the summer holidays, four months later just before the last exam of the second-term exams, Maths I think it was, the class heard that we had lost N, another classmate. Two deaths of guys who sat close to you when you’re 13 or 14? That screws your mind up rather bad.
It also taught me a couple of lessons, the first is to respect electricity and the second was never to want to kill myself. I’ve done plenty of stupid things, and inadvertently tried to kill myself more than once, coming very close to doing so in a car. But, inadvertently mind you. No matter how high I’ve been, or how sad, and believe me I’ve felt horribly sorry for myself every so often, I’ve never tried to slash my wrists or fill myself with Phenyl. If anything, as much as I have screwed up my life, at a level I have to live a full life, to the best of my ability because someone else could not.
And I have to go meet A’s mother sometime. I don’t know what I’ll do or say, but I can’t keep running away for ever. Even from something you would rather forget. Heck, I tell people all the time to suck it on and deal with it. Maybe I should do that too.
I'm not so sure this is a collective, 'What were you thinking?' moment but a 'What were you smoking?' moment. I mean seriously? The Big O? The Nobel Peace Prize? I mean, I can say this funnily, but by that twisted logic, the 'Holy Calf' has more rights on an award that they never gave the world's most famous pacifist. A man, whose visage featured on lots of pieces of paper I lost night. Maybe they just wanted to resurrect the prise after they awarded it to a guy who made a great powerpoint and some other bearded guy. But anyway, who are we to question the Nobel Prize Committee. I mean, I'm a guy who bleeds cash while playing cards. Oh well...
I've been working on some pretty interesting stuff and the last few days I've been forced to do a lot of number crunching - probably explains why my card game has gone down the tube, my brain is math-ed out. Playing with numbers always opens your mind to some really interesting facts and figures. You know, sometimes you miss out on that when you start paying too much attention to the gory details of media and political gossip, such as 'Whose Gay?' (the gossip, if it were to be made public might surprise some of you).
In other news, EchTee has something called a 'Leadership Summit'. And this year they've decided to bring over the Dumb and Dumber act - George W.Bush (who will speak about non-alcoholic beer) and Nawaz Sharif (who will speak on why Mush and Zardari are evil). And you thought bringing Mush was bad, this is going to be a security disaster. It is bad enough that the capital is swarming with Naxal apoplogists (you can read all about it in the Naxal's paper - 'Jihad and Maoism Today'), but this might bring out the mad-fringe-leftie firepower. Just thinking.
Hoping to play a bit of cards in the next couple of days as I thrown myself wontonly into the hands of money-fuelled excess. I need a drink. But first, I'm hungry.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
PS: Is it legal to want to kill someone because their ring-tone bugs you? Just asking. should go home and frag some aliens on the console, I'm building up dangerous levels of mad rage. And now I should get back to work.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
I guess we in the media feel a misplaced sense of patriotism and nationalism when it comes to anything 'Indian' or someone with even an iota of 'Indian-ness' (as long as they're not white, if you believe the desi media, all white people want to do, especially in Australia, is to beat Indians up*), it sometimes feels like "OMG, OMG, OMG" reporting. I'm not saying don't and the last thing I am is a hater, I just fail to make sense of of the brouhaha that follows. More so, because most of the people perpetuating the brouhaha seem to think exactly like me and wear their national pride on their sleeve, but exactly thump their breasts about it. But then again, sometimes I wonder if journalists really think while they're on the job...
In another piece of news, and this was just waiting to happen, the quaitting part at least. ST has quit Soiled Undie Profit and joined SR. I don't get the logic of the what and why, but this has happened. And another popular one doing the rounds nowadays is that Undie spoke to a couple of guys who sold an illusion to some Japanese company (the story is actually horribly old but has been recently discovered by some bloggers). That is old news, because as some of us know (yes, yes, I don't write everything nowadays I'm too lazy and this isn't really 'profitable' y'know) there was some issues regarding valuations. Now the guys who were being spoken to understood that the valuation demanded was an illusory one, since they're masters of the game, laughed at the demands and left. Not that the company isn't for sale (or so we har), but honestly, it would be cheaper to start a new TV channel nowadays instead of inheriting a crazy high-cost structure.
PS: In case you goils were wondering why you should not marry a Bong guy. Wonder no more, a bit boring in parts, but none the less.
PPS: This has to be best photograph I have ever seen. Well, OK I'm exaggerating, but anyhoo...
*Unless your name happens to be Brett Lee when all you want to do is act in Bollywood movies
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
We all know how ‘internet’ friendly our government has been of late, you know thanks to Minister de l’Twitter and all. But then you come across this flaming piece of internet junk. And realize to your horror that you’re not on the Wayback Machine. Sometimes I wonder if 'e-governance' has become just another buzzword that management consultants have taught our bereaucrats and politicians. talking about politicians, I vote to start a movement against 'vulgar bribes' and let us start with Desh Ka Jamaai. And then bureaucrats too, and even soft bribes like paying for the rent for a house in Mumbai. Stuff like that.
Anyway have a ton of stuff to work on, but in case you didn't know there are major changes afoot at Undie Profit, which hopefully will mean that they might actually start to reduce their 'paid content' percentage to under two-thirds. Or maybe not. Or they'll get Rakhi Sawant as their new lead anchor. Maybe that will lead to an asset bubble? Who knows, anything (even babies, and Undie TV knows a few things about sourcing babies) that would help Undie Profit will work. But in a weird sort of way, I'm glad they removed the cause of the rot, and it wasn't a guy.
Monday, October 05, 2009
In times of doom and gloom, with newsprint prices headed north again but things looking slightly better on the lay-off front, there should be innovation in print advertising. However most innovation has been for publications to bend over and let advertisers hump their backsides. Alright, even that is, to an extent acceptable, after all, prostituting your bum when you have so many over-paid lazy children to feed might even pass the ‘moral decency’ test as thought up by Messrs Thackerey, Son & Nephew (even though the store front has split into two entrances now). But what really pisses me off are jacket adverts.
You know what I’m talking about, not the full front-page ads that like today in some papers, Yahoo India has taken out – note to yahoo India – If you are going to spend a bomb, spend money on a coked-out bimbette at least. I know ‘You’ means ordinariness, but I don’t wish to be reminded of that first thing in the morning. A half-dressed girl on the other hand, would have really brightened up a Monday morning.
OK, as usual, I digress, my issue is with those painful quarter page adverts. Not to say the full-page ones are by any means acceptable, and for this I will always hate Indya.com (they were the first to make ToI sell out the front page, and before you knew it every second day HT carried a picture of a beaming Ponytail and family) but at least with a full page advert you can hold the paper the way it is meant to be held. With the quarter-page ‘jacket’ advert, you can’t hold jackshit, the paper literally falls apart. You know what I’m talking about. A ‘jacket’ advert is like agreeing to have scat sex.
Seriously. And if you don’t know what scat sex is, please don’t look it up on Google Image Search (with SafeSearch Off) at work (no I won't link it), because as liberal as your office might be to you viewing porn at work, this won’t please anyone. Nor will seeing the fat aunties on India’s top ‘user-generated’ sex video site (no, I won't link to this either), I feel like puking when ‘hot chachis’ like that invade a computer screen (though, the site shows that UGC does work on the Indian web). The popularity of mobile phone video cameras is leading to insanity in Indian bedroom. Bad porn, that is my other problem with the world this Monday morning.
I think I should really see a shrink.
PS: I personally did not exactly fall in love with the first issue of ToI Crest (they have a epaper but not a separate website as yet), but the second issue was a marked improvement (more timely story I guess). My only problem is that the amount of time I have every weekend is finite, and there is far too much to read. I do believe that Crest is going to hammer sales of weekly newsmagazines that have over the years lost the plot (annual sex surveys usually filled with fiction, like that one that claimed that 1 in 3 men ‘did not mastrubate’). It seems that Crest has a pretty high print order right now (estimated at close to 3 lakhs) in only Delhi and Bombay (sorry, Mr.T, Mumbai), and with editions launching in Pune and Bangalore before the end of October, the newsmagazines should be really worried because if this weeks covers are any indication, ToI Crest has already won the battle. That is not to say that ToI Crest might not go wayward very soon.