Saturday, March 25, 2006

It's time to buy a yellow TV.

It'll match the colour of what's being shown on it.

No, really. It seems there was a 30 minute Rani Mukherjee piece on primetime news, celebrating her birthday. 30 minutes for her birthday. On a news channel. Reality check time. news channels: This is NOT news. This is bullshit. And very yellow, at that.

You want more? Check out the The Shakti Kapoor Sting, and reactions here. And then they did it on Aman Verma as well. In both cases, these "stings" seemed to be soo over the top that the girls practically requested for sex before the hormones of the "stung" kicked in. Overzealous sting operators are bigger arseholes than the stung.

And the best is this article. TV channels showing a man who saw Yama and know, it's kinda weird that such an article comes from TOI.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Intro to blogging

In response to the Intro to Blogging Content Competition, I have decided to post the most authoritative post on blogging, ever. Sit back, relax, and stay away from any sharp objects for the duration of this post.

So the questions are:

1) What's a Blog?
A Blog is a shortened form of Web Log, which comes from Web, which is what spiders weave, and Log, which is a piece of wood. So a blog is simply a piece of wood that is covered with spider spit. The spider, having done this after trying, trying and trying again, decided to write about it and found no publisher worth his or her salt (who the hell is worth salt? publishers perhaps) was willing to publish this extremely boring piece of writing. Therefore, the spider chose to use the internet instead, which is why you call it the world wide web. Which also explains why the majority of blogs are about extremely boring topics like libertarianism and its effect on mutated frog embryos in Baluchistan.

In the internet you can't have a six letter word. I mean using weblog is not happening. You get four letters, they said. So we got blog , because webl sounds plain silly. So does eblo, if you were planning get democratic with the words.

2) Start Blogging now. How?
First, you get a spider.

Then you kill it, because your wife is standing on the table and screaming. You open your computer and write a nice article in Microsoft Word about how your wife is leaving you in peace because she's still on the table not yet convinced that the spider is dead. Now you figure your good friends want to read this also, because it does not occur to your brain cells that this act will eliminate the adjective "good" from their description.

But you also want the whole world to read it and not have to email the whole world, because let's face it, the world is stupid and will simply email it back to you and say "FYI" in the subject and then you will spend the rest of your life deleting emails and your wife will starve to death standing on the table.

So you decide you will publish your own BLOG! So you go to From there on, you enter all sorts of details like Name, last name, any other given names, any names not given but could be used in times of peril, shade of lipstick, make of underwear, and small technical details like if you want to "ping" "" or "enable float alignment" which sound important but the spiders in the background are laughing when you click "Yes" and thinking how stupid humans have become that they actually want to align floats or float aligns or whatever the hell it is that option does, and frankly the spiders couldn't care less because they're bloody spiders and they're only good for eating flies and scaring women though with all the women's liberation movement and all it is more likely a woman will squish the spider and tell you to do the dishes or she'll shove the wooden log up where it doesn't belong, but we have to warn you because we have now reached the end of this sentence.

So you publish this blog and tell your friends that you are now a blogger and they look at you with awe and wonder and ask you if it hurts.

But you have to face such hurtful remarks when you have just become a writer and publisher, so don't give up just yet. Give up when they actually read your blog and threaten to kill you.

3) Tools for Blog Nirvana
The last time someone achieved Nirvana was under a tree, which presumably consisted of lots of spiders.

So that really is your only hope. Write whatever you will, and post it in your blog. Then go sit under the biggest tree you can find, and I'm really sorry for you folks that live in bonsai territory. Recite the following mantra, over and over again:

Om Technorati linkaaye namaha.
Om Flickr asya picturaaya namaha
Om Shree Google adsense inastu
Om Stat Counter badh jaaye namaha.

Repeat until your head bursts or your wife voluntarily gets off the table, and hits you on the knocker with a kadai.

4) State of the Indian Blogosphere... Karnataka. Tomorrow it may be Maharashtra. We don't know yet.

That's what makes blogging so dynamic.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Aadisht's post brought me to the video of a song I absolutely love: Maaeri.

The song, when it plays in my car, plays at an extremely high volume. Because I love it. Because I will scream, Maaeri aap hi hansdi, Maaeri aap hi rondi, maaeri yaad vo yaad vo aayeri. And I will stop and listen when it slows down. Euphoria's Palash Sen has a fundoo voice, but it's not the voice that gets me. It's the music. It's so ephemerally hindustani. And so bloody powerful it makes stop and ask myself why I am where I am.

But I'd never seen the video. So I did.

And I loved it. See it before you read further. I loved it more for it's context than the story line which is the standard ole lovers forced to get separated, woman gets the arranged marriage, man gets the song, and then walks in next woman. Somewhat like the song in Munna Bhai MBBS. Not much of an ishstory.

But the context of the video is brilliant. It's like going home. The trains. The fields and mud roads. The sitting on bags in a railway station and singing - heck I'm not much of a singer but I can do that clapping thing quite well. The woman carrying flowers or something on her head. The one rupee coin run over by a train. The sound of the train chugging along, and the smell of the air when you wake up in the morning and stick your head out the door.

And the background - right through the video, there's faded action in the background. Man fights with TT. Vociferous hand raising on the platform. People walking, leaving tractors behind. A man warming his hands on a makeshift fire. The sugarcane laden cart, the girls running around a tree, TT colliding with sleeping man, the punjabi dad getting miffed about man's hand on daughters shoulder (that scene is crafted brilliantly), and the casual juxtaposition of a woman with a Shiva photo. And the hariyali all around.

You can just about smell it.

Or I've been a city boy too long.

Either ways, I miss the country. I miss walking on empty streets. I ache for the sugarcane - standing in the courtyard and ripping cane with your teeth while the juices spill all over your face and you get poked by the strands of cane.
Watching while a train whizzes past the fields.
The thrill of standing in the doorway with your hands on the iron rails outside...and stretching forward.

I miss it all. And it took a music video to show me that. Grr.

Friday, March 10, 2006

10 years after a cricket match.

I just read Michael's cricket match review, of the India-Pakistan match in the '96 world cup. (cricinfo Link). It was in Bangalore - at the Chinnaswamy Stadium - and I was in Surathkal. (Add in "bahut naa-insaafi hai" somewhere here)

So I decided to hop over, a nights bus journey away, and Dad had got us four tickets - he was a member of KSCA which got him a few tickets in those days. The stadium's walking distance from my house, and this was a day-night fixture, so we left home at around 11, figuring we'll get there early. And we had to do the "packing".

You weren't allowed to take anything in there. I mean no cigarettes, or matches, or anything that could be used as a weapon. So we had to "pack" - cigarettes went into socks, matches into other locations that were unfriskable. When we got in, it was the most inefficient frisking ever. We could've smuggled in anything short of a nuclear missile. The guard would run his hands over your back and stop just before the derriere, and let you go. What kind of idiot would smuggle anything on his BACK?

Anyhow, getting in was ok, and getting to seats was fine. The stadium has rickety plastic chairs but we intended to be standing most of the time, mostly on the chairs. So after a long time of running around to get pepsi (which at the time was the choice of a new generation) and watching Prasad and Srinath practice a bit of bowling, we were itching for the real game.

And one helluva game it was. India won the toss, and decided to bat. Tendulkar and Sidhu came out to open, and got on with it. Not at a pace we were expecting but they were doggedly moving along, around 5 an over. Now that's a good pace, but not enough for a crowd to go ballistic, so what we did was choose to entertain ourselves with Javed Miandad.

Miandad was fielding where we were - which was third man and mid-on in alternate overs. He'd field quite close to the rope, and consequently, our stand. And we would incessantly niggle him, loudly and clearly, about his fielding quality, his growing too old, and that he should run faster, but how can he because he's so old. Lots of name calling happened, including references to female members of immediate family, and Miandad did turn and give us all menacing looks - yeah, we were mean little bastards, all of us. (See Segue)

At 40 overs we were 200 or so and then something happened. I don't know what but there was a flash of light and the earth caved in and Sita disappeared. Or it seemed like that because suddenly our batsmen showed major jigar. We hit around 70 runs in the last eight overs I think, pretty standard nowadays, but only getting known then with the likes of Jayasuriya. Jadeja hit some 22 runs in one Waqar Younis over, and that was so-ooo--ooo cool to watch. We ended up making 287 and I was one happy bloke. We were hungry but too busy celebrating to step out of the stand to the food area. I would later regret that.

You know when they call them fast bowlers? They *are* fast. I'm not saying relatively fast like Prasad vs. Younis. I'm saying fast in general, so fast that if you're in a frikking stadium you're not going to see the ball. You hear something when the batsman hits the ball and then you look at the entire 360 degree area around him hoping to see some fielder move - that is approximately where the ball has gone. In TV, you see it crystal clear, a round white very visible object. From a stand it's about as visible as a mosquito. Now imagine that mosquito moving at 130 kms per hour.

So when the Pak bowlers came on, Latif (Pak's wicketkeeper) was so far back we were going "What's he going to do, wait for the ball to stop and then pick it up?". And Younis's first delivery kinda answered that. If I was the wicketkeeper I would choose to stand in the adjacent parking lot instead.

But I digress.

The Indian team was now on the field, and then first 10 overs were a bloody nightmare. Sohail and Anwar just thulped us all over the place and the crowd was silent. We were silent. We, the tormentors of Miandad, the ever-enthu, effervescent bubbly stand were wondering what serial was on TV tonight.

Anwar got out, but Sohail carried on the (bad) work. Then it happened - Sohail hits Prasad for a four, and points to the boundary - as if to say, "watch that, the ball belongs there". This pissed us off. Because a) Prasad is a local lad, and b) Sohail is a pakistani (bad word). So kannada gaalis were flying all over the place, and people were so angry they could have killed Javed Miandad. Don't ask why.

The very next ball, Prasad did two things.
a) He bowled out Sohail with a neat incutting delivery, knocking out off stump.
b) He pointed Sohail to the player's stand, as if to say "Watch that, YOU belong there.".
The crowd went wild.

Then Pakistan never recovered. They kept trying, kept losing wickets, and even a partial cameo by Latif couldn't get 'em close. We were ecstatic. And when we won, the only bad thing in our mind was that we hadn't bowled them all out. They made 248 in 49 (an over cut for bowling too slow) and we took the spoils. What a match.

Walking back was amazing too - it was around 11 PM I think, but people were everywhere. Running, jumping, flag-waving, car-honking, "India Zindabad" screaming people. And there was this poor set of muslim cap wearing people in a car that were forced to stop, and say "India Zindabad" three times before they were let go. They were visibly scared, but did repeat it, and went on their way. They could've been Pakistani visitors and we gave 'em shabby treatment. We should reserve that only for Miandad.

But great match overall. The intensity, the crowd, the feeling of a good win: I'll cherish that forever.

(Segue) I think I have hated Miandad since he hit that last ball six off Chetan Sharma. I was 12 at the time and it deeply influenced me to hate Miandad for the rest of my life. The fact that his son is now married to a Dawood daughter just puts that hatred in stone.

I think all of us in that stand felt that we were responsible, in some way, for Miandad's pathetic performance in that match, and his subsequent retirement. If we hadn't heckled him, he would have been in better mental shape to beat the crap out of our bowlers. I'm sure he looked at mid-on and cringed during his batting, and then got hopelessly run out. My little part in a very very big victory. (End Segue)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Of Berlin, Walls and Frozen

Berlin. That's where I was over the last week or so. To meet my wife, who's doing a course in German there. There are really only five things I brought back with me.

1) Berlin is cold. I'm not saying cold as in Bangalore's pathetic winters where people where shawls and sweaters and monkey caps when it's 18 degrees celcius. I'm not even saying Delhi cold where you feel a little chill down your spine and it's like FOUR degrees outside.

I'm saying cold as in -10 degrees with a further wind chill factor. When the air is so cold you take a long deep drag of air and your lungs go *clink*. Where you remove your gloves to take out money from your pocket and by the time you've gotten to that 1 Euro coin your hands are frozen stiff. When you know that you don't have to be dead for rigor mortis.

And we froze. Luckily everything inside anywhere was heated. Which meant that we would rush to the U-Bahns and the S-Bahns, which I will talk about, and even into supermarkets and coffee shops just to get a little happiness watching our fingers thaw.

2) Berlin has history dripping out its nose. Really. You can trip over it on the pavements. Literally. There's a project called Stolpersteine ("Stumbling stones") where people insert brass plated stones into pavements, inscribed with names of jews that lived nearby and who died in the holocaust. The stones are slightly raised above pavement level so you would trip on it and then look. (read an English review)

And that's just on the pavements. Every place in Berlin has a history, and I'll go about it in more detail when I have photos uploaded. There's the wall of course, and at Potsdamer Platz you can see parts of it lying around aimlessly with little placards describing it's gory history. And all around it lies some of the most magnificent icons of capitalism you will ever see. Lexus and the Olive tree indeed.

There's Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish museum, Babylonian reconstructions, Palaces that were broken down by communists, communist palaces that will be broken down...and more. Later.

3) Public Transportation means something. Not "walking" which is what it is in India. Berlin has S-Bahns and U-Bahns - metro train systems that actually work and have timings that have a distinct connection with reality. And trams and metro buses. And you can buy a single ticket that allows you to travel on all of them - or buy just tickets for a certain distance.

Unlike Washington D.C. and some other systems I know, you can just walk into a Bahnof - a train station - and get in on a train. There's no barrier or "insert-ticket-gate-opens" kind of system. What happens is that two guys get on the train. When it gets moving they announce, loudly and in German, that Bush is an idiot. No, wait, wrong story. They announce that they want to see your ticket, and you show it to them or pay a stinking huge fine at the next station. This happened exactly once in my week long stay - which means there aren't enough Indians there, yet. (Yeah, you can mail me your stinkers. It's a bloody joke.)

4) Rascists exist. I've not made that in bold because it'll ruin an otherwise good experience. I was on a U-Bahn with my wife, and suddenly a man in the compartment started muttering somthing in German. My wife, knowing German, realized he was swearing at us and calling us, of all things, pigs. I take offence at that, because pigs are generally way overweight and eat just about anything. Wait. Er. Okay I take offence at that because this guy was smelling like one and trying to pass it off on me.

Anyhow I didn't retaliate - I didn't know how to, not knowing German - and overall, no one else in the compartment did anything to help. That's because of the "German angst" - they don't get involved unless it's their own hand getting chopped off. He muttered things at us, came close to us and suddenly announced that he didn't want to be in the same compartment as us and went somewhere else. That was a sum total of two minutes, and I think he got out in the next station.

I'm a little pissed with myself about not reacting. When the guy came close I did bunch my fists to ensure I was going to get one in, at least. But that's not the same as getting up and saying "Fuck you, you racist bastard." I wish I'd done that...but I didn't. And that pisses me off.

5) I can't end with that point. So I'll just say this: Berlin is beautiful. There's a life and charm to it that somehow makes it alive. Even beggars walk around with nice shoes and sometimes with a dog, and ask for money in a way that would appear they're asking for venture capital. It's a polished business proposal which people listen to patiently, on trains and pavements, and then hand over their change. It's fascinating.

How they survive in that cold without a home is frightening. As much perhaps, as is the thought that the homeless in India face the summer heat. But why compare: it's not the same thing, it'll never be. The biggest beggars in India are of the Sachin Tendulkar type anyhow.