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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Qualities of a Nice Girl

Nice Girl - clothing tagSaid yes to a friend for bargain shopping company. She wanted to drag me all the way to the southern fringe of the city to Mahipalpur - Delhi's famous factory outlet and second shop area. "It's too far off," thought I. Google told me about North India's first (and only) 'factory outlet mall' at Vaishali, Ghaziabad. Much nearer. Naturally, I dragged her to Ansal Plaza, Vaishali. What she had in mind was a pair of five-pocket corduroy trousers. Her office doesn't allow jeans; cords with the same cut are fine. Only no denim allowed.

We tried every store at the mall (which even on a holiday looked quite deserted, the top floor was still waiting for shopkeepers, most stores didn't have much of decent stock but discounts there were many, ranging from 20 to 70 per cent), but with little luck. Disillusioned we gave Vishal Mega Mart a try and she found the stuff she wanted and that too for a decent price.

"Okay," you say, "where's the story?"

I'm coming to that. One thing that I unfailingly do when someone purchases an article of clothing is to read the attached tags. It is usually the usual blabber. The wash instructions and lots of self praise. But on reading the text attached to the pair that my friend purchased, I couldn't comprehend much. Maybe someone can help. It read (I've removed the original all-caps for readability, the rest is verbatim):

Nice Girl
The spirit of style

This style choose to design with meticulous care from the excellent material but. Show the view of nature, generous and elegant!

The brand high class exquisite article dress, it deep to get the essence of the westernand traditional graft. With its cultured stitch the craft consummately, assist with the design that ages feels, make tasty obvious special, combine to make a point of the character make open, try hard for to make your every time worn to experience personally all can be relaxed in proper form, belong to the dress on article it is deep to suffer the high personal status the perso-nage of welcome

The bits that I could make out are:

"Show the view of nature, generous and elegant!" - for feminine clothing. Hmmm... Anyway, I double checked the zipper and the stitches.

"traditional graft" - well, we are champions in that.

"consummately, assist" - where exactly is it heading to?

"to suffer the high personal status" - the reader was already suffering.

Anyway, a consumer shouldn't complain much, as long as the price is right and the quality satisfactory. If it hadn't been for the language (I wonder who wrote this piece and how), it would have gone to that place where most of the kind go - the dustbin (I occasionally save a few good-looking ones to serve as bookmarks).

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Thousand Pictures in One

Learnt about this via Amit's post. Always envied the collage/mosaic artists and wanted to do something similar. Never did. The closest I came to making a collage of sorts was when I was asked to design the template for a blog called - The Collage.

Had seen quite a few of photomosiacs, but didn't know that they could also be so easy to create. Pre, a member of has created an image mosaic generator. It doesn't get easier than this, even if it is not creatively stimulating. All you have to do is to upload a JPEG, GIF or PNG image, wait for a few minutes (the resultant image is usually in megs) and view the image. You also have options to directly print or download the image.

Tried these two:
(Click on the images to see a larger detailed picture)

Cutting the Chai logo

(The Cutting the Chai logo)

Soumyadip - profile pic
(My profile image)

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It's Raining Radio

On the first look this morning's Hindustan Times and Hindustan looked like they had some fonts missing on their front pages. A closer look brought a resemblance to musical notes. It was an ad for the launch of HT Media and Virgin Radio's Fever 104 FM, taking the count of the channel's on the capital's frequency modulation to a dozen.

A friend asked me to set the FM channels on her mobile handset. It is quite difficult to remember the precise frequencies of so many channels. Therefore I searched and drew up a list of frequencies of FM radio stations in Delhi (might be of some help to FM hooked readers of this blog residing within the periphery of the National Capital Region - NCR).

List of FM Radio Channels in Delhi (NCR)
(List sorted in ascending frequency of stations)


* Radio City - 91.1 MHz
* Big 92.7 FM - 92.7 MHz
* Red FM - 93.5 MHz
* Radio One - 94.3 MHz
* HIT 95 FM - 95.0 MHz
* Radio Mirchi - 98.3 MHz
* Fever 104 FM - 104.0 MHz
* AIR FM Rainbow - 102.6 MHz
* Meow - 104.8 MHz
* AIR FM Gold - 106.4 MHz


* Radio Jamia - 90.4 MHZ
* IIMC Radio - 96.9 MHz
* Gyan Vani - 105.6 MHz

In a post about FM radio the award winning FM Mansoorpur deserves a mention even if it didn't have anything to do with Delhi and it was declared illegal and subsequently closed down.

And it is going to be more paisa wasool for my Rs 440 Philips RL241 Digital Clock Radio.


City-wise list of allocated FM Phase II channels [PDF]
Company-wise list of Cities allocated [PDF]

Tip: To view PDF files try FoxIt Reader. I tried it, it's lighter and faster than Adobe Reader.

[Last updated July 4, 2007]

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Original Superhero - Supremo

Supremo - Amitabh BachchanKkrish had been touted as the first Indian superhero and Hrithik Roshan donned the mask (I'm yet to watch the movie, but am in no hurry). On the silver screen, maybe. On television there was the crappy Shaktiman (looked more like a parody of Superman) played by a visibly aging Mukesh Khanna. But in the real world of superheroes, in the pages of comic books, it is the asli angry young man - Amitabh Bachchan (he is no longer young nor angry) who first donned the undies (rather a lungi) over the bodysuit. The Big B might be better remembered as the chain-haunted Inspector Vijay Khanna, but he also possessed an alter ego (like most superheroes) - Supremo. There was the original Little Master Sunil Gavaskar as Sunny (but I'm not sure who came in first).

The must-visit blog for any genuine Indian comic lover - The Comic Project - has posted a Supremo comic (the reason behind this post). It is second in the series of The Adventures of Amitabh Bachchan scripted by Gulzar and published by India Book House, the force behind Amar Chitra Katha, the institution from where we all learned our epics, biographies and fables.

If anyone has copies of Supremo or Sunny comics please do let TCP (or me) know. And do keep Supremo's real identity a secret.

Image courtesy: Book House

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Isspecial Cutting Chai - October 2006

Shivam happens to be the first regular blogger that I met in flesh and blood (other than the people that I already knew from my pre-blogging days), that too after more than a year of blogging. The activism within him is evident in what he blogs. Nowadays he is writing less and linking more. Usually referred in many blogs as 'young' Shivam, I believe he is on the wrong side of the legal system when he sips that beer. So am offering him tea instead.

The seventh Isspecial Cutting Chai (October 2006) is for Shivam at National Highway, in appreciation of his arguments and counter arguments to my arguments. The occasional threat. And his zealous blog networking. Have a sip, rather half-a-cup (rather gilas).

Shivam Vij - National Highway

Previous sipper: Hackosphere (September 2006)

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The Cat Loves Milk with Cream

The elected representatives have repeatedly disgraced our democracy; the occasional dignity which the judiciary attempts to inculcate is looked upon as an infringement on the terrain of the legislature and there is a flutter of political activity to put things back in their populist state. Appeasement and populism have a long history in our not-so-old democracy. We have seen free electricity lowering the water tables and driving boards bankrupt; a law promulgated to wrong a right which the court had ordered; free colour televisions and rice for Rs. 2. We have seen more of such shameless vote garnering gestures and our gullible hoi polloi manages to fall for such cheap poll tricks which have grave long run implications.

Thank the Constitution for a body like the Supreme Court, which from time to time ensures that all's not wrong with the Indian state. And it angers a common man like me when those shameless conscienceless wretches (would have used a more vile term, but this is a public blog) attempt to again wrong a right. Our issue hungry 'intelligentsia' will go out of their way to support the ideas of the very people they would otherwise despise. Long arguments will take place on live television and newspaper columns. Similarities would be drawn between dissimilar systems and practices to prove an invalid point. Unverified and inauthentic statistics will be cited. Because expressing support for the 'underprivileged' is the in-thing, even though the very ideas might end up doing more harm than good to the very people whose causes they are supposedly voicing.

The same is happening with the Supreme Court's directive on the creamy layer of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which states that they shouldn't be getting the benefits of reservation. The counter argument is that the Constitution speaks about only social and educational backwardness and does not mention economic backwardness and also alleges that the judiciary is encroaching on parliamentary functions. Some have even pointed fingers at the 'upper caste composition' of the courts.

My argument is simple, I will not again delve into the rights and wrongs of reservation, will just quote someone I heard on television, "If reservation has worked in the last five decades, then we should no longer need it; if it hasn't, what's the need?"

The issue of mixing or separating the cream and/from the milk. One question, "What's exactly wrong in excluding the creamy layer of the backward classes?" Expecting some convincing answers in the comments (convincing on the part of commenter, not necessarily this blogger).

Now to what is right. The purpose of reservation was to uplift the people who have been historically discriminated against (who fits into the definition depends on politics not socio-economics). The creamy layer that the Supreme Court is talking about are the ones who have reaped the benefits of the practice of reservation and should therefore now make way for others. If this is not done, then it will be the creamy layer of the SCs, STs and OBCs who will continue to make the most of the practice, unfairly. The remainder of the backward classes will remain where they were or would go further deeper in the vicious cycle which six decades of lofty promises and multiple-amended constitution have failed to get them out of. And they said reservations will usher in social justice.

Then our lawmakers would come up with another brilliant idea (translates to 7.5 per cent more votes), further raise the reservation levels, so that the remainder can be easily accommodated and the cream doesn't feel any discomfort. Milk to many, tastes better with cream in it. The scum, previously referred to as the General Category, will remain.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rediscovering the Fox

Firefox updatedFirefox 2 is here and so was Internet Explorer 7. Need I say who is going to emerge the winner in this battle of the browsers?

Microsoft implicitly accepts that the previous versions of IE were neither easy nor secure. And IE 7 plays copycat by including the popular features in the existing Firefox like tabbed browsing and inbuilt search. Well, IE 7's feed reading abilities look to be better. But this post isn't about Firefox vs IE. Though the stranglehold of the latter remains and it is fast loosening. This post is to further loosen the hold. No, I'm not anti-IE, just pro-Fox (unless Gates, Ballmer and Ozzie think the Bush way - "You're either with us or against us"). I still use Windows, but might one fine night move over to Ubuntu.

But it is hard to steer away from the comparisons. Only highlighting Firefox's benefits wouldn't do any good unless they are put side-by-side with IE. I wouldn't go into the details but only a few basic pointers.

* Firefox 2 weighs only 5.6MB (for the Windows version and 9.2MB for the Linux one), while IE 7 weighs an obese 14.8MB.
* Firefox is also available in Gujarati, Punjabi and 40 other languages (Belarusian is yet to come); IE is available in only five languages.
* Firefox's minimum requirements are Windows 98 and 64 MB of RAM. IE needs Windows XP and a minimum of 87 MB of RAM.

Now onwards I'll speak strictly Firefox. Visually speaking there is not much of an overhaul in Firefox 2. The refresh and the home button icons have changed. So has the go button on the address bar. The search bar has an additional search button (for those who hate to hit enter) and a few more changes here and there.

The major improvement seems to be in enhanced tabbed browsing. Previously there was only one close tab button at the far right, which often confusingly closed unintended tabs. Now each tab has its own and exclusive close tab button. To the far right (where the close tab button existed) there's now a tab strip that lets the user scroll through open tabs.

What impressed me the most (and also disturbed a little) is the session restore feature.

The Session Restore feature restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last user session. It will be activated automatically when installing an application update or extension, and users will be asked if they want to resume their previous session after a system crash.

It lets you pick up where you left before things went wrong. A great feature for people like me who have unstable OS and PCs at their workplaces (or homes). It will also resume interrupted in-progress downloads. But the worry comes in multi-user machines. If there is an improper closure of active windows/tabs and someone else and not you accesses the system next (unless you're using different password protected user logins as in 2000 or XP), he/she can access whatever you were doing last, including your email which you hadn't signed off).

Otherwise Firefox 2 comes security packed with phishing and spyware protection. And yes, the old favourite, for all you surreptitious web-browsers, clear private data (Ctrl+Shift+Del) tool is fully functional. You don't have to rub the shit on the doormat; Firefox will do that for you.

Another good news is for us poor spellers. Firefox 2 has built-in spell checking. A red underline to tell you where you mixed up the 'i' and the 'e' and a right click to show you the possible correct options. In case you don't know what you are looking for, the search bar would provide you with suggestions.

You can also easily customise your browser with add-ons which can change the look, feel and functionality to satisfy your tastes. You can incorporate extensions, themes, search engines and plugins. Moreover, new windows would open by default in new tabs, instead of adding to the clutter of additional windows (this was a suggestion that I originally had in mind).

If that is not enough you have web feeds (aka RSS), live bookmarks, and live titles for sites using microsummaries (another word to my tech lexicon).

If this isn't enough for you. Stick to whatever you're using and watch this space for something new. Others can go here to download and install the software I'm talking about.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Sparkling Mickey

Mickey Mouse through a sparkler

Photo: Varsha

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Lamp and Sparkle

A lamp on the terrace - Diwali
Burning bright on a windless, moonless night

Lighting a sparkler with a lamp - Diwali
Lamp lighting a sparkler

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Friday, October 20, 2006

A Diwali Desire

"Kitney aadmi the (How many men where they)?" asked the newborn Gabbar. And PHATACK! came a slap from his mother (the reason behind the stubble, to hide the afterbirth mark). Not this joke, but the most famous sequence in Hindi film history, where Gabbar Singh asks his men to do a simple count and goes on to play his version of the Russian Roulette, infixed the want in my heart for a six-chamber revolver. Before any arms trafficker tries to get in touch with me, let me make it clear that the six-chamber that I have in mind is of the cap pistol type.

I might have 'grown up' for that sort of stuff, but still want to possess one and Diwali is perhaps the best time to procure one. Had been hunting the markets near my place for the last few Diwalis but no one seems to stock any, the kids nowadays don't seem to like the one-shot-at-a-time six-guns.

If anyone knows where I can get one in Delhi (or maybe Noida) please do let me know. As a mark of gesture, I'll let you have a shot less when we play the toy gun version of the game which stops on the first losing round.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why am I doing this?

If someone asks me the question, why do I blog? Atul framed the question in a different way. My answer would be a one liner (the best answers are) - accha lagta hain, it feels good. This 'feel good factor' is unlike the ad agency fabricated campaign generalising the feel of five percent of the nation for the entire populace.

This blog thing has been around for quite some time and I was a late starter (May 2005). Had earlier experimented with personal webpages, but found the experience quite unsatisfactory. One they were quite cumbersome to build and the free hosts never supported the features that I wanted to incorporate. Then I discovered blogging and felt that this was my kind of thing.

I read a lot of magazines, rather purchase a lot. Every morning the newspaper boy shoves in a sizeable bundle through the gap in my door. On reaching work there's another pile waiting on my desk. But I never wrote a single letter to the editor. Well, there was one, again that was just a cross posting of a blog post exemplifying my stand on what the editor of the magazine had written about on an issue that was (and is) a boiling one. The thing that I liked about blogging was that it is an impersonal sharing of thoughts extendable by personal threads.

I was never the chatroom types, even social networking couldn't (yet) suck me in. I liked the evening addas over cups of tea, samosas and sweets (many people find it amusing that Bengalis relish sweets with tea). The blog isn't exactly an adda, chatrooms are thought to be closer. For me the blog is my adda (somewhat reflected by its title). The people I talk to, know me (through what I write or shoot) and the ones I speak too seem familiar, just like college buddies of different sensibilities, ideologies and abilities. The blog gave me to space to speak out and the time to listen.

When I began, I was choked. The flow started coming much later and am still waiting for the full spout. There are still a few hiccups, but that is reminiscent of what we were told as kids - a hiccup is indicative of someone thinking of you. Have written a lot on this blog (this is the 374th post) and the topics fill up my category/label list. Some posts are a big hit, while most stay ignored. Some get me feedback, others leave the reader speechless (uninterested might be more appropriate). That only encourages. Blogging for me is first about what I have to say and then about what others listen.

Friends, initially, couldn't be more discouraging. What's there in the blog? They asked. Later a few started their own, only to give up midway. Today, they provide me with the ideas to blog about. "You should write something about this," they say. "It's only a little blog," I retort. "It's at least something," they reason. Some even ask me to start a guest column and like a snobbish editor, "I'll think about that," I reply.

Sometimes I get the feeling akin to the frog in the well. The blog is my well, but then it has a lot of windows. The blog is my well with windows. I can open or close them whenever I feel like. Sometimes a stale wind might force them open or bang them close. But that cannot make me leave my well. For that I have a full-time job which also pays for the activities in the well.

I don't get paid in dollars to do this (yes, I have Adsense, but do you think that I'll ever make money out of that?). I get paid in satisfaction, that I have done something, however worthless it might seem to someone else. I talk of war and peace, I rave and others rant about the clothes I wear. I justify the things that I (and my kind) do. I let my opinion known. I fulfill unrealised desires. I do a lot more. I blog.

[This is a part of an unstructured tag/meme. If you want to be a part of this, please feel to shed some light on your blogexperience. Details are available here.]

Other blogexperiences

* Letting the Light Through
* Why I Blog
* Still On Blogging
* Dexterous Doings: A story

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hair Here, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Here, Gone Tomorrow"Door se dekha to ande ubal rahe the,
Paas aake dekha to ganje uchal rahe the"

(From afar it looked like eggs boiling,
A closer look revealed it was just baldies leaping)

Hair, rather the lack of it, has been an ageless concern and the butt of jokes (the latest being Zidane butting his bald head). A receding or missing hairline is something school kids find funny and adults find alarming. A friend of a friend was about to get married to the girl of his choice. In a good job, from a respectable family and also good to look at. But the girl's dad said 'No.' The only reason, the prospective groom doesn't have enough hair on his head. Using this as an excuse many of my friends urge me to tie the knot at the earliest. In tapori lingo, "Baal nahi to maal nahin" (doesn't translate very well into English, but means 'no hair, no girl'). I prefer to remain unconcerned by such concerns, even though genetics urges me to. And the evidence on my pillow seems to substantiate that.

People like Einstein and our dear prez Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam don't support my cause too well. Characters like Shakaal, Dr Dang, the ones played by Amrish Puri, Shetty (remember him?) and the dear Lucifer just made things worse. And so did Salman Khan (Down South, they say, you can't even be bald below your nose) Even our mythology doesn't feature anyone naturally bald (all the baldies that I know of are the voluntary ones). From the Creator through the Preserver and to the Destroyer, all sport long manes. From the yesteryears only Socrates was of some solace and now this news item:

King of the jungle? Only if you're bald

The lion’s mane, that magnificent ruff associated with vigour and virility, is a turn-off for lionesses, scientists have found.

Zoologists have discovered that the more impressive the mane the more likely lionesses are to turn away in favour of a balder mate.

Far from being a guarantee of feline virility and strength, an impressive mane indicates to the females that the lion is past his prime.

But who would dare make a pass at a lioness?

Getting bald is like getting a little plump. Left to yourself you wouldn't feel much uncomfortable about it. But like most things superficial, it is the peer pressure that gets you into a complex. Many jokes just revolve around weight and hair. "Ujre chaman (ravaged garden)," is a common salutation. But there are brighter things about going bald. The brightest is that you head gets brighter. Others are as follows:

1. America's national bird is the Bald Eagle; therefore it is less likely that Uncle Bush would aim his missiles at you.
2. Persis Khambatta, Sarika, Protima Bedi, Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi have all sported a bald look and also looked good in it. This translates into the fact that if women look good being bald, they would also like bald men.
3. You wouldn't have a bad hair day.
4. You'll save a lot on hair cream and gels. It might mean that you spend more on soap, but soap is anyday cheaper then hair gel. You save money anyway.
5. You'll also save on shampoo.
6. And combs.
7. You can now do away with the backpocket comb that your girlfriend always found very tapori type.
8. You'll spend less time before the mirror and have more time for life.
9. The barber might charge you the same (though the joke says that he'll charge more) for cutting lesser hair, but the visit to the barber's shop will be shorter.
10. Your kids or nephews and nieces can't pull your hair out (nor can you when frustrated).
11. Your partner can't play with your hair; she'll now have to play with something else.
12. You can do a Zidane (for money, of course).
13. Zidane gave the baldies new weapon, now your adversaries will be wary of you.
14. It's goodbye to oily pillows and stains on the wall.
15. You don't have to worry about grey (applicable only for the all bald).
16. You don't have to worry whether middle or side parting looks better on you.
17. Your Gillette Mach III will now give you more value for money.
18. Statistics suggest that most bosses are bald. Therefore you also have a high probability of becoming a boss, or at least getting a raise, as your boss can relate to you.
19. Dengue mosquitoes can bite you through the gaps in the hair, but you cannot apply mosquito repellant there. The hairless don't have any such worries.
20. You can now write 'none' against the colour of hair column in forms.
21. You'll have one less area to scratch during the hot and sweaty summers.
22. Bald plates are like finger prints, you can also be recognised from behind.
23. You can now stop calling your beloved 'moon' it's her turn now (I'm not very sure if the 'moon calling' phenomenon is restricted to films only or is also replicated in real life romances).
24. You can play the villain in Hindi films. It is the villain who gets the most fun in films; the fights are anyway fake (with the exception of I-don't-have-any-talent-but-the-producer-is-my-uncle and I-don't-know-how-to-act-but-am-a-model-and-films-is-the-only-place-where-I-can-earn-more-than-my-girlfriend).
25. Bald men look more mature.
26. And intelligent.
27. And also prosperous (a pot belly adds to the effect).
28. You don't have to worry about washing your hair after Holi.
29. You can give the shoe polish boy an idea of how much you want your shoes to shine.
30. If your girlfriend doesn't leave you along with your hair, she's the right one for you. Now you don't have to wait years before you find out.
31. No lice and also no dandruff.

If the above reasons are not convincing enough (readers' help in expanding the list is sought), there are expensive alternatives available to make your top look blacker (or whatever colour you want it to be). Go for allopathy, homeopathy, ayruved, unani, transplanting or weaving. Just don't go for a wig or a toupee and also don't grow your hair longer on one side, so that you can comb it to the other to cover the bald spot in between.

Bald is best bold.

PS: The close cropped profile pic isn't for hiding a receding hairline. The crop atop is still dense.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Bant Singh Standing Tall

My ideas on the process of empowering the people who have been historically discriminated against may differ from some. But that does not take me away from the truth that the Dalit is facing in this country every day. Today's news says Kanshi Ram is dead. Post Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram was perhaps the most potent of the Dalit leaders whose model of social reengineering brought about a significant positive change. How his legacy is and will be carried forward is a different tale.

Even in these times of awakening and assertiveness it takes a lot of courage to stand up; Bant Singh did precisely that and lost his arms and a leg in the process.

On January 7, Bant Singh, a resident of Jhabbar in the southern Punjab district of Mansa, was surrounded by a group of Jat youths from the same village. The upper-caste men brutally beat him with iron rods. Three days later, after gangrene set in, doctors amputated his limbs.

But that didn't make him sit down.

It is not the sheer violence of the attack that makes Bant Singh's story an exception; it is his extraordinarily courageous refusal to be a victim. Back in 2002, Bant Singh's eldest daughter Baljeet Kaur was raped. In rural Punjab, as in India, Dalit women who are raped by men from the dominant castes have little chance of securing justice; their families are pressured to accept cash as compensation and threatened with violence if they refuse to do so. Exactly these pressures were brought to bear on Baljeet Kaur's family.

However, Bant Singh, who had been helping organise landless labourers for the left-wing mazdoor Mukti Morcha, was not one to be cowed down...

On Sunday October 15, 2006 the Forum for Democratic Initiatives is organising an evening of cultural performances in honour of Bant Singh’s courage and defiance and to raise funds for his rehabilitation. The time is 4:00 PM and the venue, JNU City Centre, Near Mandi House, 35, Feroze Shah Road, New Delhi.

Details about the programme is available here.

More info about Bant Singh is available at Frontline, Tehelka, and Himal Southasian.

Information courtesy Shivam

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Sunday, October 08, 2006


Faces at Sanskriti Kendra

Faces at Sanskriti Kendra

Faces at Sanskriti Kendra

Faces at Sanskriti Kendra

Photographed at Sanskriti Kendra, Anandagram, Ayanagar, Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, New Delhi on October 3, 2006.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Archived Title Image No. 8

This archived title image is of Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi idols at a Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi, Durga Puja. Photographed on October 1, 2006.

Durga Puja
The description of the present title image will be made available on its retirement.

<< Previous Title Image

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Professor Rintu Has Left the Building

"What is your good name?" A question which many of us would have answered innumerable times during our growing years. The emphasis was on the 'good.' It gave us the impression that our other name(s) - nicknames, pet names - fell in the 'bad name' category. Therefore we took extra precautions against the revelation of our not-so-good names to our classmates. With those who stayed close enough to know us by our pet names, it was a fair trade. You don't utter mine and I too will keep yours a secret.

The deal usually worked only with those who spoke in Bangla at home. Others usually gave a damn about our deals and naturally turned into blackmailers. They without any alternative names, or with 'fancy' ones like Vicky, Rocky, Munna (Anil Kapoor's character in Tezaab came to their aid) or Jackie, didn't have anything to hide. About the girls we didn't care much; it was still a couple more years to go to know their worth.

Long ago, more than a year to be precise, my brother had forwarded me a mail. Many of you would have it in your inboxes. It is also there at a couple of places online. But it makes for a wonderful read, therefore couldn't resist posting it here. Hope you will sympathise with our kind.

To all the Choton, Gul-Gul, Khoka, Laltu, Gogol, Tutu, Bubu, Khokon, Bhonda... et al

This post is part of an ongoing series. In these pages, I will attempt to alert people to a great injustice that is being perpetrated upon the sons of Bengal. So you thought they were wimpy to begin with. Far from it, my friend. Their current state is a result of years of conditioning by the oppressors - namely the women. By using a variety of psychological weapons, they have reduced these fine men to what you see today.

Today we focus on the first weapon in their hands - the NICK-NAME.

When a son is born into a Bengali household, he is gifted with a resonant, sonorous name. Bengali names are wonderful things. They convey majesty and power. A man with a name like Prasenjit, Arunabha or Sukanta is a man who will walk with his head held high, knowing that the world expects great deeds from him, which was why they bestowed the title that is his name upon him.

But it simply will not do for these men to get ahead of themselves. Their swelling confidence needs to be shattered. How can one go about it? This task is left to the mothers of these lads and is accomplished by the simple act of referring to the boy, not by his fine-sounding real name, but by a nickname which Shakti Kapoor would be ashamed to answer to.

Their are some rules for creating nicknames, which need to be followed. They are -nicknames must have no connection to the real name. "Arunabha" cannot be called "Arun". No, for that would be logical, and such things are anathema in the world of women. Instead he shall be called "Bhombol". If possible, the nickname and real name must have no letters in common, but an ancient alphabet proves to be the constraining factor there.

Nicknames must be humiliating. If you are a tall strapping boy, with a flair for soccer, an easy charm and an endearing personality, then you shall be nicknamed - "Bhondu". And every time, you have set your sights on a girl, and are on the verge of having the aforementioned lass eat out of your hand - your mother will arrive & pronounce loudly - "Bhondu" - Bari eso (come home). The ensuing sea of giggles will drown out whatever confidence you had earned from that last winning free-kick.

A nickname must refer in some way to a suitably embarrassing incident in your childhood that you would give your arm and leg to forget. If it took you a little too long to shed your baby fat, then years of gymming will not rid you of the nomenclature - "Motka". If your face turned crimson when you cried as a toddler, you will be called "Laltu". When you turn 40, your friends' children will call you "Laltu Uncle". Even age will not earn you the right to be taken seriously thereafter.

Different members of the family will make up different nicknames - each more embarrassing than the preceding one. If one member of the family calls you Piklu, then another will call you Mitul, and another will call you Jumbo. The humiliation multiplies.

You will always be introduced by your nickname, until people forget you had a Real Name. Ranajoy might have taken on a gang of armed men single-handedly, but Toton really didn't have a chance. After a point Toton will completely take over the beaten body of Ranajoy, weighed down by the pressure of a thousand taunts.

This strategy is surprisingly effective. Ask yourself - would you take Professor 'Rintu' seriously? Or put much weight by the opinion of Dr. 'Bubai'? Or march into battle under the command of General 'Thobla'?

The power of the nickname has scarred the psyche of Bengali men everywhere. It follows them like a monkey on their backs. That too, a monkey with a flair for slapstick, that was gifted to them by their own mothers.

That, dear Bong friends, is Step No.1 of their grand plan. I must leave now before they realise I am telling you all this. Now let me make my escape. But wait! There's no way we can let you go now - you've seen too much. Not before you answer the question...

"Tomar daak naam ki, Khoka?" (What's your pet name, kiddo?)

Google search tells me that at least one Professor Rintu exists.

If anyone knows who the original author of the piece is, please let me know.

[Translations in brackets are my additions]

Update [October 8, 2006]

The original post is here (Thanks TM).

And my mail didn't have the concluding paragraph:

But wait! There's no way we can let you go now - you've seen too much. Not before you answer the question... "Tomar daaknaam ki, khoka? (What's your pet name, kiddo?)"

The crowd waits with bated breath in anticipation of the great warrior being hoisted by his own petard. They lick their chops hungrily. But tonight is not their night. He stands tall and straight and a smug smile plays on his lips. From his lips come the words -

"Mazhi aai Bangali nahee" (I'm not a Bong - in Marathi). And he survives to fight another day.

And this was TM's comment on the original piece:

What about the man whose mother said to a leading Bengali newspaper- "Babloo phone kore bollo: Ma, Aami Nobel peyechhi". Even a Nobel prize won't help you live that down!

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Glimpses of Delhi History

The Mehrauli Archaeological Park doesn't feel or look like Delhi. Located besides the busy Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, the place feels centuries and hundreds of kilometres away from the bustling metropolis. Tired legs prevented the complete exploration of the park (had been elsewhere earlier in the day).

Metcalf's Canopy

Metcalf's Canopy

This canopy was built by Charles Metcalf as a 'folly' - a new building meant to look like old to be viewed in the landscape. The semi circular arches in relief give-away the time period of the building meant to be seen from the southern opening of Quli Khan's Tomb, which Metcalf used as a retreat. The canopy provides excellent views of the surrounding areas.

Jamali Kamali
Mosque and Tomb
1528 AD

[Qutub Minar in the distance, as seen from Jamali Kamali Mosque]

Jamali was a traveller and a great poet, known to have served the court of Sikander Lodi. The grand mosque is five bay wide with the central opening is flanked by turrets. Within the enclosure is the small square tomb with a profusely decorated interior which includes verses penned by Jamali on the cornice.

Ruins: Balban's Tomb
16th-17th Century

This was obviously a flourishing settlement in the 16th-17th Century, with a central courtyard and residential wings.

[Descriptions are from the Archeological Survey of India plaques]

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Father, Son and Holy War

Sagnik Chakravartty mailed me the following:

Finally! DD-1 to telecast Anand Patwardhan's Father, Son and Holy War on this Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 10 am. An 11 year old battle will finally come to an end. Anand Patwardhan's 1995 documentary Father, Son and Holy War on the connection between communal violence and the male psyche had won two National and several international awards. Patwardhan thanked his lawyers PA Sebastian, Prashant Bhushan and Nitya Ramakrishnan for consistently taking up the cause of civil liberties and human rights and expressed the hope that Prasar Bharati would no longer force people like him to go to court. Father, Son and Holy War is a two hour documentary that was shot from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s and covers a wide spectrum of events, from the Sati in Deorala in 1987 to the Bombay riots and subsequent bomb blasts in 1992-1993. It is a critique of the male bias that permeates the dominant religions of the world, with specific reference to Hinduism and Islam in India, and a critique of ruthless politicians who use the communal divide to further their own ends. In 2004 the film was included by Dox Magazine (Europe) amongst the 50 memorable documentaries in world cinema. Information on this film and other works by Anand is available from the website

About Father, Son and Holy War

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Vintage Indian Advertisements 2.16

There has been a long break between 2.15 and 2.16 of Vintage Indian Advertisements. Will try to keep the breaks short (not a promise though).

[Click on images for a bigger view]

Iodex pain balm
Iodex pain balm

Farex baby food
Farex baby food

Scandinavian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines

Hindustan Sanitaryware bathroom fittings
Hindustan Sanitaryware bathroom fittings
Those were the days when topless men modelled for bathroom stuff ads

Siemens India
Siemens India

Ads from January 1981

<< Previous

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A Half-Witted Failed Writer's Hysterics

Times of India article on Indian blogsThere are usually two ways to earn publicity. The first is a little more tedious; it requires a lot of perspiration and the mandatory one per cent inspiration, with a little (the more the better) talent thrown in. The other is relatively easy, in fact quite easy. All you need to do is to write or say something maligning someone or something. And pronto, the limelight's on you. This doesn't apply only to the celebrities, but also the celebrity-thirsty journalists. As K from Press Talk aka Don't Trust the Indian Media puts it, "the Indian media loves taking the moral high ground." We (bloggers) have seen such journalists before and seemingly walked right into their trap, giving them an identity that they so desperately wanted. 8-point by-lines do not translate to exposure.

"The Indian media is full of vested interests, idiots who pontificate knowledge (people can accuse this writer of that as well) and predators preying on the infirm and intellectually challenged," K goes on. If the likes of Ranjan Yumnam and TR Vivek and now Shobhan Saxena, in The Times of India, want us to vent it out against them, let it be their way. After all it is the best that we 'half-witted failed writers' can muster best. Now on to the job.

Everyone has a right to be stupid, but some people abuse the privilege.

Right, there is no arguing the fact that the blogosphere has a fair share of its morons, but so does the mainstream media (and increasingly so). The intention was not to compare the world of blog with the world of the paycheque media. But the motive behind the article was one of a comparative analysis. SO am just taking the argument forward.

They want to be read and heard and seen. But their aspiration is blocked by the obnoxious monster called the Editor and their high-voltage facts mixed with slam-dunk fiction, with a lot of typos and commas and semi-colons in wrong places, go down a drain called the Editorial Process.

A blog is essentially a one man show put together in a few hours (often it's only minutes). Whereas the drain called the 'Editorial Process' goes for an entire shift. The reporter comes in with his story, the sub-editor makes the necessary changes and corrections (poor sub-editors), then the chief sub voices his opinions ... it is a long process before a reader reads it with his morning cuppa. Even the story ideas come from elsewhere and are often pre-decided by other people. The comparison isn't entirely on equal terms, but the better bloggers (there are quite a number of them) have very readable posts where high-voltage facts are in fact facts, and all the commas and semi-colons are in their rightfully right places.

The bloggers love to attack those they hate: from McDonald’s to Starbucks to Karl Marx to Mandal to Germaine Greer to the colleague at the next work station.

Yes, that is what expression is all about. From what they write (or have been asked to write) the dislike of the likes of Vivek, Saxena & Co. is obvious. Everyone does it. That is precisely why newspapers had editorial columns in the first place.

Blogs are an online stream of consciousness written by people who believe that they are under orders from someone to change the world.

That 'someone' is their own conscience unpaid by the fat advertiser.

But the pace at which the blogosphere is getting cramped with half-wits, religious maniacs, failed writers, sociopaths and cold-blooded killers, is scary. They all scream so loudly that those talking sense have to drop their decibel levels.

"Half-wits, religious maniacs, failed writers, sociopaths and cold-blooded killers," don't get read much. The most popular blogs belong to the saner voices.

Every 10 minutes, some three million new bloggers invade the WWW with a vengeance

Now where did he get the figure from? I believe someone mentioned facts somewhere. Now if I total that up I get - 18 million an hour, 432 million in a day and 157.68 billion a year! That is more than 26 blogs for every inhabitant on planet earth.

It looks like the revenge of the amateur who dreams of becoming a reporter.

Is reporting the most sought after profession? 157.68 billion aspiring reporters! The newspapers and news channels can never complain about manpower shortage. The next from Ram Gopal Verma's stable, "Mein Barkha Dutt Banna Chahti Hoon."

... in Canada, an "angel of death" wrote a blog before shooting at 20 people. Forget wrong grammar and bad spellings, bloggers are now writing murders on the web.

So, does that mean that the entire blogging community doesn't have anything else to do. At least the blog will give an insight into the mind of the murderer. If he had instead written a letter to the editor, it would have been flushed down the drain called the 'Editorial Process.'

Bloggers claim in their hifalutin tones that they want to give a voice to the voiceless and replace the newspapers with their journalism.

Giving a voice to the voiceless part is right, but replacing newspapers? Isn't that falling for a joke?

It’s good fun, but this is no journalism. Learning and mastering good journalism is tough. You learn it in libraries, on flooded streets, in front of a rioting mob, in the middle of crossfire between a militia and a military, in war trenches, in the corridors of power and in the hamlets of deprivation. Sometimes, a reporter walks for miles in an area ravaged by a tsunami to get one quote from the man hanging on to a tree for a week. Bloggers don’t have to worry about such inane things. They can learn history and politics from Google. They can get their facts from newspapers and then slam them with their halfbaked opinions.

Good journalism is tough; therefore we have so less of it. The less said about Indian war-trench-journalism the better. The corridor-of-power-journalism is what everyone wants to do, but sleazy sensational crime (and passion) is also fast catching up.

Yes, a reporter walks for miles to get one quote from that person hanging from a tree, and what does he ask him. "How do you feel?" Bloggers didn't worry much about the tsunami nor about the Mumbai floods. Tsunami Help India and Cloudburst Mumbai were setup just to earn some cents from online advertising.

We all have slept our way through school and college and also kept our eyes and ears closed for so many years. Now it is all up to Miss Google to teach us our politics and history. "When did India become independent?" "Just a minute, let me check with Google." And moreover Google is of no help for ones who are clueless. It takes brains to use Google. Haven't we heard of terms like desktop journalism and Google journalism? It doesn't say blogging, it says journalism. Newspapers have been a staple source for facts (before Google) and is there anything wrong with getting facts (if you can call them that) from the newspapers? Half-baked opinions or not, the readers know better. It shouldn't be forgotten that blogging isn't the only thing that bloggers do, ther have professions too and many of them are experts in their respective fields and their opinion on a blog matter more than what a fresh J-school pass out has to say.

Going through the visitor statistics of this blog (a very insignificant one in the blogosphere) I am pleasently surprised to find IP addresses from major media houses looking for information in this lowly blog.

And no one can beat Indian bloggers when it comes to self-obsessed preaching, gossiping and bitching. The Indian blog which has made the most news, carries nothing but office gossip of the two leading TV channels. Called warfornews, it leaves nothing to imagination, not even the office memos which are also posted on the blog. They are like a lynch mob who will not spare you if you dare to cross them. If this is a new form of journalism then it’ll make sense only to those who live in a post-modern bubble.

War for News is bitchy. Right. The worst are the comments made on it. But one fact shouldn't be lost, that blog is run by 'anonymous' journalists and the readership and the commentators are overwhelmingly from the media. Does this reflect the state of the Indian blogosphere or the state of the Indian media? Anyway the way the media is prying into the private lives of people and the state of the underwear-stings; it's just tit for tat.

Eager to make quick bucks, many have already boarded the train of paid bloggers, blowing away their claims of citizen-generated media, free from the restrictions of top-down "old media."

It's a bit hypocritical for the 'old media' to be making disapproving noises about 'paid bloggers.' Blogs might not yet have achieved that credibility, but the 'venerable old media' had for long sold its soul and editorial space to the highest bidder.

How much might sections of the media attempt to rubbish the blog, the impact and importance of this phenomenon is not totally lost on them. The substandard blogs on the media websites bear testimony to the fact.

The article was an insignificant one in the inside pages, why did I spend 1500+ words venting venom on this? What else could a disheartened dimwit do? Give some publicity to someone who is desperately seeking that.

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Archived Title Image No. 7

This archived title image is of a photographer photographing the Republic Day rehearsals at Rajpath, New Delhi on January 21, 2006.

The description of the present title image will be made available on its retirement.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

The Mahatma and Me

Gandhi T-shirtWhen I was first told about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, it was with the emphasis that he never told a lie. My little mind wondered that, he was a prominent freedom fighter and the British could have easily got all the confidential information about the clandestine activities of the revolutionaries just by asking him. My idea of a freedom fighter was someone who fought with guns and bombs. Ahimsa was only about Gautam Buddha. Then in primary class I first read about him in a chapter where he couldn't spell the word 'kettle.' It felt good; the Father of the Nation was also orthographically challenged like me.

Not everyone agreed with his 'offering the other cheek' proposal - the school bullies were more hard-hearted than Lucky Singh (played to the hilt by Boman Irani) in Lage Raho Munna Bhai (LRMB). Now that I have mentioned the film, I would like to mention the one thing that I liked the best about the movie. It attempted to dispel a few superstitions, which deserves applause in the stone obsessed, star possessed and name processed desi film industry.

For me it is difficult to idolise someone. Not everything about them appeals to me. My father, a proponent of good handwriting, compared my handwriting to the Father of the Nation. Not a complimentary comparison, but that was similarity number two. Other similarities might be in the physical structure, a slowly receding hairline and the eyeglasses (though there is a considerable difference in style). That's where the similarities end. Any way I never did sit down with a weighing scale to compare myself with others. You should never undertake such an exercise.

Today is October 2 - a national holiday (and a 'dry day' as Circuit in LRMB puts it) - and also Bijoya Dashami or Vijaya Dashami (depending on the tongue you speak in). A day symbolic of the victory of good over evil. Ravana with his ten heads or Mahisasura masquerading as a buffalo went down on this day ages ago. Today is different, even different from first half of the 1900s in which the Sabarmati ke Sant lived in. History books tell us Hitler was evil (attempt to glorify/defend him at your own peril), so was Mussolini and to some extent Stalin. For Indians the Union Jack didn't exactly symbolise the good. Who is the evil today, Osama with his kamikaze squad or the oil-thirsty occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or the war mongering general in the nearby country who now preaches peace as innocent Indian citizens continue to get blown to pieces? The evil also resides within us. In this world of grey, there are no blacks and whites. Even Ravana wasn't all back or Lord Rama detergent ad white.

Gandhi is long gone. The practicability of his ideas and practice in todays world is merely in the realm of academic discussion. Movies don't impress us much. Decades of senseless cinema has made us numb. All we seek is paisa wasool experience. The coincidence of sharing his surname is still reaped and also venerated. In this currency-less world even his face is fast vanishing. Credit cards have our own photographs instead. He's there today in the newspapers. A few ads in the newspapers show reverence to him on his 137th birth anniversary (Rajiv Gandhi occupies more column-centimetres on his birth and death anniversaries).

For me Gandhi resides on my T-shirt (accompanying pic), which is neither black nor white but olive green - the colour of the military uniform.

Extensive archival material (including different renditions of his favourite prayer songs Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram and Vaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye) is available here.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

In Celebration

Durga Puja

Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi at a Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi, Durga Puja

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Whatever It Takes

CNN-IBN Whatever It Takes

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Hit 'em all. Including the dangling pin.

Photo: Aklanta

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Archived Title Image No. 6

This archived title image is of Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Photographed August 8, 2006.

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
The description of the present title image will be made available on its retirement.

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The About Me Octet

It's been over six months since someone last tagged me. Thanks Appu for the tag.

Here are the rules:

1. Name the person who tagged you.
2. Eight things about you.
3. Tag six people.

The following isn't exactly an original but excerpts from a previous where I was required to list 20.

1. As a kid I was afraid of crocodiles hiding beneath my bed (monsters didn't scare me)
2. In school, I once faked injury in a fight to get my rival punished. I again faked injury during selection for the inter-house cricket match to avoid humiliation of being dropped from the team (no I'm not Saurav Ganguly)
3. Black is my favorite colour (but doesn't black signify the absence of any colour whatsoever?)
4. I had a fetish for weapons and collected quite a many (no guns), but never used them for their intended purpose (maybe it has something to my momentary desire to become a mafia don)
5. I hate chain letters. Nothing good has ever come to me forwarding them and ostensibly nothing ill happened by ignoring them
6. While eating oranges, I swallow the seeds (and no orange tree has sprouted from my tummy yet)
7. I prefer fountain pens over ball pointed ones
8. I like to break rules (this isn't from original list of 20)

The requirements of rule no. 1 and 2 have been fulfilled. For rule no. 3, refer to no. 8 above.

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