Cutting the Chai has moved to a new domain: cuttingthechai.com.
You can get in touch with Soumyadip at www.soumyadip.com.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bollywood Badmashes

Bollywood Badmashes
The bad men of Bollywood had all the fun until the hero realised that he too can get a little naughty. Always on the losing side at the climax, but their meanness won the hearts of the audiences. Hindi film villains usually came in only one size - larger than life. Some of them even overshadowed the otherwise lead characters. Most of you Hindi-filmi keedas would recognise all the villainous voices on the following audio track.












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Monday, January 30, 2006

Gandhi Died 30/1/1948

Gandhi's Signature
Who killed the Mahatma? History tells us that three bullets from a Beretta M1934 semi-automatic pistol silenced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Nathuram Vinayak Godse had pulled the trigger and killed the person. But the thought, principles, ideas have all passed away – peacefully and unnoticed. In private conversations Gandhi bashing is a favourite pastime, in public functions Gandhi provides the preferred quotable quote. In the institutions founded or inspired by him, he exists - in the hanging portraits on the wall and the statues amidst the grass.

The ideological death was not caused by hot lead or senile decay - it was apathy. A well-maintained Rajghat and a national holiday on every October 2 - our duty is done. 56 years later Jhanu Barua's Prof. Uttam Chaudhary pleads "Maine Gandhi ko nahin mara (I didn't kill Gandhi)." Nor did I? How could I? Gandhi to me (and so many others) was only a synonym of two words - truth and non-violence. I didn't kill any word. Words whose meanings I cannot comprehend. Words that exist in the dictionary, but not in a vocabulary. Did Gandhi imply anything else? I as a schoolboy never knew, until Richard Attenborough told me. But that was Ben Kinsley not Gandhi. I didn't kill Ben Kinsley. Nobody took me along to meet the real Father of the Nation. I never knew he existed somewhere beyond the inscriptions of Hey Ram, images on currency notes and photos on the wall in courtroom dramas. How could I kill someone about whose being I was unsure of?

I stand acquitted of any conspiracy to kill Gandhi. Everything about him was long dead long before I was even born. Gandhi died on January 30, 1948. So did his legacy. Long live the Mahatma.

Listen to the Mahatma:












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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Deathly Diversions

The once-a-river-now-a-drain which divides east Delhi from the rest of it, mythologically has a brother. The sister now maybe an embodiment of death and decay, but Hindus regard the brother - Yama - as the harbinger of the final farewell. Astride a buffalo, a mace in one hand and a rope in the other - he rules over the afterworld and strikes terror in the hearts of mortals. A vision not meant to entertain. But it does.

Of the 330 million gods and goddesses, it is he - the death god - who features in more non-mythological films and television serials. In his CRT, LCD or silver screen avatar Yama's arrival doesn't signify the end - it lightens the mood. Death is the comedian here.

Death is not funny, but black comedy makes us laugh. We know not what lies beyond, we only assume according to our beliefs. Some glorify death - the glorification is a necessity. Governments do it, militant groups do it. But while we are still breathing, why should we let something with a certain conclusion but uncertain timing come in the way?

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

~ John Donne

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Friday, January 27, 2006

With You for You Always

On my thank you list there are two names. First, the Delhi Police. Their security measures ensured that I got an early reprive from work on the eve of Republic Day as they wanted to seal off our floor for security reasons. You really get to see (and also aim) far from there. That also meant that I got to spend Republic Day in the comfort of my two-room pad.

Second, my digicam. I had typed down a post on my home PC (I don't have internet at home). But this morning before leaving for work, when I attempted to boot that thing up, I felt like giving it the boot. 'Corrupt or missing files' it said. No time to fix it up. To compensate for the post I clicked a few photographs on the way. Here's one.

Bus With a View

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A New Tag, an Age-old Story

It has been raining tags in this winter/summer of the blog (depending on which hemisphere you are in). Though not many came my way, I was somewhat taken aback with their frequency and the things that they wanted me to do. This one by Abaniko had a certain appeal about it (Dwaipayan also happened to double tag me on this). Hence there was no getting away.

The post:

Sometimes I wonder what is it about the Indian political system that seems to breed sycophants at a rate surpassing our alarming rate of population growth. Though prevalent across the party lines it is particularly visible in a particular political party, which still prefers to bask in its illustrious past. A surname alone ensures total servility. Whether that person is deserving or not, the vast army of bootlickers ensure that the one with the 'blue' blood is enthroned. Some of them might even offer a free blowjob to every Tom Dick and Harry if that act of theirs could remotely appease one from 'the family'.

Many might feel that there is a problem with me - the sour grapes principle. Since this blogger's surname doesn't have the appeal to make those in power bow in meek submission and follow commands like a pre-programmed robot, therefore he complains. But is that so? Whenever they had a leadership crisis, someone with the appropriate lineage was brought out from his/her loneliness to act as a rudder in the political water. Pick at random any one apart from 'the family' who has led the party, their following political longevity will answer all the questions.

Now for the rules:

(Just in case you were wondering what this crazy sounding post was all about)

1. Write a 100-to-200-word entry using the following words: I, me, blow job, grapes, random, power, loneliness, water, robot and blue;

2. Use these words once and only once; and of course

3. The entry should make sense.

A few observations:

I'm not tagging anyone for the simple reason that most have already been tagged.

Using the word, which most males fantasize about, was the toughest.

And the word count says an exact 200.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

The Morning Marchers and Curious Onlookers

India Rising
The trailer was there in the last post, now for the full version. Of the 170 photos clicked only 15 (including the one in the last post) made it to this blog.

The morning of January 21 was exceptionally cold. Two amateur shutterbugs armed with a tiny digicam jostled for the perfect frame with a dozen professionals brandishing their SLRs. Every January 26, India showcases on the wide roads of New Delhi its military might and the cultural cauldron that it is. The rehearsals for this grand annual event start long before. Men in uniform, school kids, cultural troupes, brave little kids - everyone rehearses that one extra time to get it right for the big day. As for us commuters, we have become somewhat used to the regular traffic diversions and snarls whenever there is something on in the capital.

The Portly Policeman. Actually he's trying to hide his potbelly with the file in his hand
Crossing the White Line
Waiting for Green?
Aye Aye Cap'n
In Order
Waiting for the Indians
Smileys
Salute India
Left Right
In Tune With the Times

And a few for the photographers:

Their efforts are splashed across the dailies and credited (not always) with a name in a tiny font. Eyes glued to the viewfinder they too make a pretty picture.

Shoot at Sight
Fastest Finger First
Guns Lowered

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rejoicing the Republic and a Little Recognition

Pine Cone, Pinus Khasia
The last few days have been erratic, as reflected by my recent blogging behaviour. I expect things to settle down to normal in a week or so. Also expecting some changes for the better. Have a lot of things to say, share, discuss and also one (actually two) meme to take care of.

Thanks to Aquamarine for pointing it out that this blog was the Blog of the Day on the World Seek Project website for January 19. The other honourees (known to me) are The City of Joy (18 January), Coffee Tea or Me and The World is Your Cave (17 January). I would like to thank Aklanta who referred my blog to them. Interestingly I'm listed under Shillong though I blog from Delhi. But I like it that way, Shillong being the place I most identify with. The accompanying photograph (above left)is of a pinus khasia cone, native of the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.

Shutterbags at India Gate
Aklanta cajoled me into waking up at an unearthly hour of 5:30 AM (tough when you go to sleep at 1:30 AM) for a visit to Rajpath. The purpose was to click some photographs of the ongoing Republic Day celebration rehearsals (and we were not the only ones as the pic above reveals). The results of this early morning endeavour will soon be visible on our respective blogs.


Categories: , ,

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sting in the Tag?

Some days you are too busy and preoccupied to sit at leisure and write something for your blog. Then a tag comes along. You want to take it along immediately but the forces of work and pressure makes you procrastinate.

This tag by Rita made me wonder that whether this is a sting operation perpetrated by my aunts who are desperate in seeing me 'settled' (in Indian parlance this implies married with kids). They have tried all the tricks in the book to know of my preference so that they could shortlist some prospective brides for me. But thankfully their unrelenting efforts have only met with with various degrees of failure. Sting or no sting the unwritten rules of the blogosphere requires me to take this along. Here I am.

The rules:

1. The tagged victim has to come up with 8 different points of their perfect lover.
2. Need to mention the sex of the target.
3. Tag 8 victims to join this game and leave a comment on their comments saying they’ve been tagged.
4. If tagged the 2nd time, there’s no need to post again.

It might be difficult to find someone with the following qualities that I seek, but in case you do find someone who fits the bill please do let my aunts know. They will shower you with blessings to counter the curses that I heap upon you.

Target: Female

My perfect lover should:

1. Have eyes that I can gaze into for hours
2. Have an understanding of my eccentricities
3. Possess a sharp memory to balance my absentmindedness
4. Be a good cook
5. Be a cleanliness freak
6. Be talkative to break the silence that usually envelops my abode
7. Have the X appeal
8. Be good at her 'job'

The victims:

1. Atul
2. Anthony
3. Varsha
4. Avik
5. Shivangi
6. Dwaipayan
7. Shyam
8. Rohit

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Monday, January 16, 2006

When There Is Light

When There Is Light

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Breathtaking Shwaas

Shwaas (A Breath)
Some weeks are easy and then there are those which refuse to budge away. The last one was one of the in-between types. Weekend for me is Sunday - solitary Sunday. So many things to do, so much sleep to catch and only one day! It's so unfair.

And life's also not fair. Finding some time out from preparing presentations and keeping the washing machine whirring, watched Sandeep Sawant's directorial debut Shwaas (A Breath) on the PC.

Based on a true story, Shwaas essays the journey of a seven-year-old boy, Parashuram (Ashwin Chitale), with retinal cancer, whose only chance of survival is an operation that will leave him permanently blind. With only a letter of reference from the local doctor, Parashuram and his grandfather (Arun Nalavade) try to grapple with the challenges of a big city hospital and the turmoil of the seemingly detached doctor who is left with the huge responsibility of explaining the situation to the young boy. A series of events makes the grandfather take some peculiar decisions highlighting the importance of living life gracefully and finally the young boy coming into terms with the inevitable tragedy.

(From the jacket)

Even though it had to wait exactly six months since its purchase for me to be able to watch the movie, the VCD of India's official entry to the 77th Academy Awards was worth more than the Rs. 125 I paid. The missing Oscar doesn't make any difference.

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Makar Sun

Sunset 14 January 2006 New Delhi
The sun transits from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and India celebrates Makar Sankranti.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

How Stupid Can Stupid Get?

Dwaipayan
Definitely not stupider than me. Bogged with helping coordinate and conduct over 700 interviews in three days, I didn't even get the opportunity to read my favourite blogs, nor the time to go through the emails that came my way before replying.

Dwaipayan put this seemingly innocent question my way, "What was your first love?" I in my moronic greatness provided him the innocent answer. The next thing I knew was that he posts my password as a comment on this blog. I didn't realise what was going on. I changed my passwords and played ignorant. This morning I find my new passwords in my inbox, forwarded by Dwaipayan. And as a favour he reveals my stupidity. That question was the clue leading to the revelation of the passwords.

I have learnt my lesson. But it does not guarantee any similar foolishness on my part in the near future.

P.S. The accompanying photo is Dwaipayan's. The girls at my workplace find him 'cute.'

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cracking the Laundry Code

Recognise these signs? Can comprehend them?

Road Signs

Maybe you do. After all you had memorised them for the driving test.

How about these?

Laundry Symbols

Seems familiar? Look in the tag inside your jacket.

Laundry care symbols flummox me. What do these modern incarnations of cave drawings say? Here's a guide to let you know more: HTML PDF [131 KB]

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Wellness of Wiretapping

Phoney Connections
Many years ago - when getting a telephone connection from the never so reliable Department of Telecommunications (DoT) took months, if not years, a dead phone implied an infinitely extended coma and a call meant one call irrespective of the time talked - we got our first telephone. And almost immediately followed the first cross connection, in fact a multi cross connection. It was always entertaining to pick up the phone and listen to a girl complaining to her boyfriend about his lack of interest in her, housewives on with their desperate gossip and the best part was that I had the option of intervening into their discussions with my point of view. This went on for sometime until someone pissed with my juvenile suggestions on how to improve their love life used his connections in the DoT, the phone went dead and didn't resurrect for long.

Hearing what others speak incites the eavesdropper in us. Even the most inanimate of discussions will hold the listener's attention for some time, if he/she happens to overhear that. The chances of someone else overhearing seems to be great, therefore you often get to hear in films and outside, "We shouldn't be discussing these things over the phone," "Deewaron ke bhi kaan hote hain" (even the walls have ears). If someone is bugging a politician chatting with an actress, the politician should be worried. His worry has brought out of the closet many other suspected victims of phone tapping. "My phone is being tapped," is the next status symbol after Z-category security.

Their phones being tapped, stingers lurking with their hidden cameras, their online activity possibly monitored - it sometimes feels good being an unknown Indian. In gratitude of this realisation I will not grumble the next time when I get late for work because a VIP is taking his granddaughter to the zoo to look at the monkeys.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Crossing the Brahmaputra

Rivers have always left me in awe. And when it is the he-river - the Brahmaputra, the vast expanse of liquid makes me do nothing but stare. Whenever the train traverses the Saraighat Bridge over the river, I'm at the door. So many times I have done this, but it doesn't seem enough. Whenever I think Brahmaputra, one adjective comes to my mind. Mighty.



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Monday, January 09, 2006

There Was a Cold Day

Delhi, 9 January 2006 7:40 AM

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Blast from the Past

Shillong City Bus
Shillong City Bus
Shillong City Bus
Chassis and engine from a Tata or Ashok Leyland truck (some vintage ones with Mercedes and Bedford engines still exist), body locally made of wood and tin. Their popularity declining but classic Shillong city buses still continue doing what they are the best at - ferrying passengers at the slowest possible pace.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Stimulation Maximised

Magazines that Men Read
"What's so manly about men's magazines?" asked a female colleague, flipping through my copy of Man's World (Ever since Gentleman shut shop, I seek my pleasures here). I was a bit perplexed. Had it been a Debonair, Fantasy or the like I would have had an appropriate answer. "Well they discuss men, their problems (girls), gizmos and stuff" I cooked up an answer. "But women's magazines are also on the same lines, what is then so exclusively male about men's magazines," the argument continued...

Yesterday when I flipped through the first issue of Maxim's India edition, I found an end to the argument. It's definitely not 'the best thing to happen to men since women' but I won't mind inflating my periodicals bill by Rs. 60 a month. The female focussed market so long failed to comprehend that the Indian male has needs beyond politics, business, sports and topless models. The other men mags (of the non-topless model variety) which my constrained memory recalls reading is the bimonthly GT (another extinct species?) from the Times of India stable.

With news floating around about Playboy going desi (sans the bunnies of course), this summer should be sizzling. Didn't read much of Maxim, but a quick flip tells me that if not intellectually stimulating, it sure is visually appealing.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Poor Fishermen Used as Human Shield in Manipur

This shouldn't come as a surprise to those of us who are aware of what's going on in Manipur in the name of counter-insurgency. But it is shocking. Do read Anthony's post on this.

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Delhi After Dark

Delhi After Dark

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

And Filthy Flows the Yamuna

The river Yamuna near Kanpur

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nostalgic Stuff Redux

Apart from my good ol' blog buddies, search engines help in generating a sizeable (by my standards) page hits on this blog. From politics to pornography, a variety of keywords guide them here. But it is one particular post of July 24, 2005 that attracts them the most. Those who missed it the first time, here's an encore:


Remember the good (?) ol' days when our air space (now cable space) was monopolised by Doordarshan and a hundred and one (I know there are more) channels were not jostling for TRP (eyeball) ratings? Remember the mesmerising Bharat Ek Khoj /Discovery of India? Recall the Ek Chidiya, Anek Chidiya... animated film? I know you do and so do I.

Surfing through the net, I stumbled across them. The soundtrack of Bharat Ek Khoj and the Ek Chidiya, Anek Chidiya video. Some good souls had posted them on their blogs and I'm simply passing it on.

Bharat Ek Khoj

Title Song: http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~ramv/Khoj/Bharat_Ek_Khoj.mp3
Lyrics: http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~ramv/Khoj/Titles.txt

Ending Titles: http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~ramv/Khoj/Bharat_Ek_Khoj_Ending.mp3
Lyrics: http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~ramv/Khoj/Ending_Titles.txt

(Courtesy: http://resonant-cavity.blogspot.com)

Ek aur Anek Ekta

Video: http://kalyanvarma.net/stuff/ek_anek_aur_ekta.wmv

(Courtesy: http://kalyanvarma.net)


And also check out IBN Blogs.

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I Missed the Fire




It snowed in Kashmir and rained in Delhi. I was on the way to office, the phone buzzed. It was my reliable jurno friend on the other end. "There's a fire at Barakhamba Road," she warned. I checked my bag and the camera was there. "Something for the blog," I smiled to myself. By the time I reached there, the firemen had done their job. "Damn!" I said. "No blazing flames, no good photograph." Doesn't the news industry also behave like me? Waiting for a disaster to happen, things to go wrong, in a big and 'newsworthy' way. So that they can bask in professional glory. No glory for me here, only a few unphotogenic photographs.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Tracks to Nowhere

Tracks to Nowhere

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Where do Persons of Paramount Prominence Pee?

The respected Prime Minister (accompanied by a bevy of other VVIPs) inaugurated the latest addition to Delhi's Metro Rail. VVIPs are an endangered species, or so it seems by the security cover around them and the trouble which common citizen has to undergo because some VVIP coincidentally chose to take the same route as him. When such a person of paramount importance is invited to inaugurate something or the other like the Barakhamba-Dwarka metro line, the police cordon off the area, close the shops down. The roadside tea-stall owner loses on his early morning earning because some non Z-category entity couldn't have possibly inaugurated something like this.

The coffers are filled with the tax-payers' hard-earned money, so spending a little on avoidable functions and the associated security is no big deal. The tea-stall guy can manage without half-a-day's earning. Our big projects will perhaps not function to the optimum if someone high up in the order of precedence doesn't cut the red ribbon. While our chaiwallah and his customers can continue to relieve themselves on the walls of the metro-station and fill the milieu with pee-perfume.

VVIP security and inauguration ceremonies are definitely more important than avoidable expenditure on proper bladder relieving zones. The ones that exist are too few and filthy; those which aren't demand a price which the common man doesn't or cannot spare. People smoke publicly with impunity and there exists a law prohibiting smoking in public places; the 'Do Not Pass Urine Here' board is not deterrent enough for watering the trees - for free.

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