Archive for July, 2006

For your children

31 July 2006


PDCS writes: Science book recommendations for your Children. Enjoy.

When Dubya had a heart attack…

31 July 2006

SWAROOP DEV forwards this joke from Dubai: George Bush has a heart attack and dies. Obviously, he goes to Hell,where the Devil is waiting for him. “I’m not sure what to do,” says the Devil. “you’re on my list, but I have no room for you. But since you definitely have to stay here, I am going to have to let someone else go.

“I’ve got three folks here who weren’t quite as bad as you. I’ll let one of them go, but you’ll have to take their place. I’ll even let you decide who leaves.”

Dubya thought that sounded pretty good, so he agreed. The Devil opened the first room. In it was Richard Nixon and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and climbing out, over and over. Such was his fate in Hell. “No!” protests Bush. “I don’t think so. I am not a good swimmer, And I don’t think I could do that all day long”.

The Devil led him to the next room. In it was Tony Blair with a sledge hammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing the hammer, over and over, time after time. “No! I’ve got this problem with my shoulder, I would be in constant agony if all I could do was breaks rocks all day,” says George.

The Devil opened the third door. In it, George saw Bill Clinton lying on the floor with his arms staked over his head, and his legs staked in a spread-eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky doing what she does best. George Bush looked at this in disbelief for a while and finally said, “Yeah, I can handle this.”

The Devil smiled and said “Ok, Monica, you’re free to go!”

In defense of a bad review

30 July 2006

PDCS writes: Writing a bad review isn’t a bad thing.

But Aditya Sinha’s review of OMKARA in the Hindustan Times left me wondering about the trash that gets published in newspapers and spoken on TV. The review isn’t online. So be happy with the following animuttugalu:  

So if the violence sucks, how is the sex? Given that Othello revolves around Iago poisoning Othello’s mind with suspicions of Desdemona’s adultery there ought to be a fair amount of it. … This means Kareena’s bare back against Devgan’s bare chest, and some kissing here and there (all in blue tint). At this rate, Indians should be able to see proper sex scene by the year 2050.

So if this passes as analysis, I have no idea how these sentences could ever grace any publication:

Not only is she (Bipasha Basu) a pure animal, but also she is an underrated actor: she is so naughty, you want to get back to HT gym, get a toned body, beat the hell out of John Abraham, and then …. spank her. 

And this final sentence:

Oberoi is so bad that he can’t even mouth the songs properly, and you are left wondering how anyne would suspect this ch****a of sleeping with their girlfriend. What a waste.

Indeed, Mr. Sinha. What a waste. We would prefer if you keep your private fantasies where they belong.

A story a day

30 July 2006

PDCS writes: Jhumpa Lahiri writes on the Malgudi Days in the Boston Review. Read it. It’s good.

Once upon a time, a Mysorean in Tanzania

29 July 2006

BAPU SATYANARAYANA writes: I went to Tanzania on foreign assignment in 1975. When I reported for duty at Dar-es-Salaam, I asked for a while sheet so that I could give my joining report. The man in front of me looked quizzically at me and said there was no need and that he had recorded it in his register. That was my first surprise.

I was given a hotel accommodation and I shifted to it. I was one of the hundreds of expatriate Indians literally swarming the place. We would gather at the clean beach nearby and sit in the evenings to gaze across the eastern horizon to the noise and buzzle of Indian voices and chatting away merrily.

In this scenerio there was no question of homesickness. In fact Gujaratis, who numbered 80,000, formed a sizeable population of the city and held a stranglehold of the commerce and trade sporting all manner of imported cars.

In contrast the local people were very poor though in the offices it was headed by young well educated Tanzanians most of them graduates of well known Makarere University in Uganda.

Food was no problem because the Gujarati families would supply vegetarian food at reasonable prices. I gradually fell into the pattern of living which was unhurried and far removed from the tensions and travails of working in India with an eye on Confidential Reports.

In the office I was to report to an American on lent services from the World Bank. I met him and he was happy I came and was waiting to hand over the charge of a WB aided project. While he was talking to me he received a telephone call and he answered saying that he was in a conference. That was my second surprise for I never thought that two people could make up a conference.

Indian expatriates would put in their bill to claim money for travel from the prepaid port of emplanement of Bombay to a remote place claiming it as their native place since the road travel rate was generous on the plea that it was not connected by rail. The unsuspecting Tanzanians would pay.

It is only later when south Indian auditors pointed out that the place is connected with rail the local people got hold of the railway time-table to check the fraud. That is how they came to know the character of Indians. They would appreciate south Indians and call them ‘those clever black people’ That experience was the other surprise.

In the office there were several expatriates from many countries, so called experts. I was a little diffident, something to do with their colour, a hangover from our colonial experience. Gradually I realized I knew much more and I would wax eloquent about many technical issues of their special expertise and earned their appreciation.

It was then I really had admiration about how good our technical education back home was since the education in India equipped me to speak on any related technical subject with fair amount of command.

My office was in fourth floor and there was a lift. I had a woman Minister heading the Ministry. Sometimes when I entered the lift there would be the Minister inside who would enquire which floor and would press the button. That was my third surprise. Contrast this to what happens in India.

In the ministry where I was working, when I would enter the lift, if the lift attendant perchance sighted the car ferrying the Secretary, he would say ‘secretary sab is coming’ with all solemnity as though to signify that I should leave or wait for another adjacent lift to come down!

That’s how servile we have become. Even now when I go to Delhi to the National Highway Austhority office as a presiding arbitrator the same syndrome persists.

In Tanzania when traveling in a taxi, one sits besides the driver a tribute to spirit of socialism practiced in true sense. When I went to Nairobi, Kenya I realized the contrast when I took a taxi and sat besides the driver. He smiled at me and said ‘Oh you must be from Tanzania’. Our Gujarati brothers staying there follow the local custom of only sitting in the back of the taxi, a purely capitalistic tendency.

I remember another incident which throws light on the Indian character. Once a Minister was traveling with a few Indian expatriates. The car met with an accident. The Minister was interested to wait for the police to come to record the manner of accident. Our Indian friends advised the Minister not to wait at the accident site and they would sort out the issue with the police that he should leave in another car. But the Minister would have none of it and said he would wait for the police and only left after completing the formalities.

In the office I was in charge of allotting building sites and there were quite a number of people waiting patiently for their turn. Some time later another Tazanian who was the secretary in another ministry whom I knew well came for the purpose and stood in the line. I made a sign asking him to come forward (old Indian habits die hard) He came and said he would wait his turn in the line. Naturally it was a chastening experience and I felt contrite.

In Tanzania when a person suffers a term of imprisonment for an offence he would be free to resume duty at his old job after expiry of the term. There was no stigma attached.

On the other hand there is another character that amazed me. They subscribe to the concept of extended family. Whenever a Tanzanian gets or call his relatives from their native place, they meet their expenses of travel and looking after them in their home.

I once asked a Tazanian friend when he came on a visit to his relative’s place how he was enjoying. He said he was well fed and naturally I said that he must be grateful for his relative. He said ‘The food I eat goes away as excreta and why should I be grateful’? It stumped me.

I had a lady stenographer and after I dictated she would bring back the material which I would go through once again and correct minor mistakes in pen and sign and ask her to issue. Instead she would retype the whole thing however big it may be and bring it for signature. Her reasoning was that this would be a black mark in her report! To my Indian mind it was economy of effort and money but she would not hear of such argument.

I learnt to my cost that the concept of urgent, immediate, out today did not impress them. I got out of that habit for I realized they did their work without any pressure better.

Another cardinal principle that every expatriate learns. Whatever be the pressure or urgency one should not forget to greet every one in the office as you enter or elsewhere you meet with to enquire in their language:’ How are you?’ ‘ How is your home’? ‘How are your children?’ etc.

The office business only starts afterwards. It used to happen sometimes whenever I had to immediately dispose of a case I would call my steno and start dictating. She would be resentful and show in her attitude and when I asked her why, she would say, “Bapu you did not greet me.” By the way this use of Sir is confined to India.

The ICC is doing what Kolte Seena ordered

28 July 2006

R.S. KRISHNASWAMY writes: Forty years ago in the cricket playing fields of Mysore there was a giant of a batsman called ‘Kolte’ Seena. He appeared on the scene very briefly and used to bat at number 6. He swung at everything and connected 60 per cent of everything. His theory of cricket was that all deliveries there were meant to be hit, and when Seena hit them, they stayed hit.

I had fancied myself as a meaningful offspinner but, in one match I was clouted into the Crawford Hall steps (from the Oval ground), the corridor of the Attara Kacheris and the tennis courts of the Cosmpolitan Club tennis court by Kolte Seena.

This man, our Kolte Seena, would have been a made-to-rder batter for this “BCCI blessed” Twenty20 fiasco.

Cricket is a way of life and is not a carnival. The BCCI had very thoughtfully and decently rejected this version of the game just recently but changed its mind, or rather was rail-roaded to changing its mind, by the ICC who are rather desperate to fill up spectator stands all over the world.

Bowlers win cricket matches and Twenty20 is a death knell for the fine art of bowling which is already under annihilation by the 50 overs business.

Twenty20 is a 75-minute game of 20 slog overs without a breather. A bowler should find his line and length off the first ball. He also has to bowl a quickly decided bouncer, but only four of them in four overs. The bowler, poor fellow, should hurry through his four overs—if he delays even one bit, six runs are added even if the batsman is a rank idiot. A no-ball gets a free hit for the batsman, whatever it may mean.

Thus, the end result will be a batsman running to the middle, swinging at everything and running back. This kind of ridiculous nonsense could bring tears into E.A.S. Prasanna‘s eyes. The great Indian spin quartet of the 1960s and ’70s should collectively advise the BCCI president to drop the whole idea and simply concentrate on his “crops”!

Two people would have loved this form of the cricket. One an American pal of mine, who watched a Test match at my behest and remarked, “Hey, Krish, you mean to say that you need to run when you hit the ball, that’s easy?”

And, of course, Kolte Seena.

Admit it, the future of India is with her women

28 July 2006

BAPU SATYANARAYANA writes: The former Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice N. Venkatachala, while speaking in Bangalore earlier this week, has stated that women make better administrators and has exhorted them to use their collective strength to throw out corrupt men.

Let me lend strength to his views by citing one example. I live near the Saraswathipuram main post office. I have been dealing with the post office for the last 15 years. I have great admiration to the staff for their courtesy and efficiency. I attribute this to the simple fact that majority of them are women.

The total strength of the post office is 40. This includes 11 postmen doing the leg work. Of the remaining staff of 29, 25 of them are women—nearly 80%. I have keenly watched them at work. I find them very committed, efficient, courteous and always sporting a pleasant smile, patiently explaining to difficult customers.

Whether it is in the IT sector, banks or most offices, women are more than a match to men. It is this fear that men that has prevented our male Lok Sabha MPs from pressing ahead with the move to reserve 33% seats in Parliament to women.

It is also time that women should be considered for being the President which has been the male preserve. In fact, women Prime Ministers and Presidents have exhibited the streak of toughness for taking firm decisions  and ruling with ruthless. Come to think of it, there are more women gurus than men. And the women Maoists match men in their ruthless cruelty!

It only implies that they excel in every job they take. Certainly, if women take over the affairs of the state they can bring in a wholesome change with a new work culture and put a stop to the rampaging corruption and put men in their place.

Esterday Arthmetik teacher ask me 15 into 10. I tell, I will ask C.M. for answre

27 July 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: In a historic move to make exams headache-free for students and easier for answer paper evaluators, the CBSE is planning to ignore wrong and incorrect spelling by students henceforth. Gradually, one can expect grammar will be added to this list. In course of time, we can imagine following scenario in the entire academic spectrum.


Leter form Stoodent to his  Klass Teascher:

Dear Saar,

Lunch peeriod  lost weak, a peeg bite me and take mine Alpenleebe from my mouth. Blood oose my baayi. I dvelop hed eak in my stomak, I not attend skool. My ckkippaji also asked me to do chutti as he tooke mee to Mysore Ecsibsion. We see mpty stalls and eat Bhajjis and drink sugarcane rasa.

Esterday Arthmetik teacher ask me 15 tables. 15 into 10. I tell, I will ask C.M. for answre, teachser beat me.

If my doddappaji not take me chinnari mela nex tweak, I vill attend to your next klasses.

Yours obdent klassboy

Anuma–VI A


Leter from the Hedmaster to Skool InspeKtor.


The Bord Inspktor,

Dear Saars ,

Most obedeent Respectsu.

Evrything not kushala here. Only Sankata. No Dasoha here as no riceu. We give only Dosa and no chutney.

All Mysore skools children danjer of geting pigs and moskitos fever-Encflltis because of VI A Hanuma. My Teechers are skared of getting enciflits and ‘chickengunna’ from haiklu and thret to strike. Thanks to Mysore Korportion, Mysore peegs eat more and more in roads, parks and skools!  Teechers are terrriffied of muskitos ,peegs and Hanuma and want him suspensionu from skoolu.

Hanuma gives same answer for 15 Tabels as 150!  Matter urjentu. Beyand control me. If you not come, me go on leeve. Pleese advice.

Yours turly ,

Skool Headmastru


Letter from Skool Inspector to MCC


The Kommissionre ,
Mysore Korperasion

Dear Kommissionre  Avare,

Your pigs byte our skool Hanuma and fear spread to all my Hed Masters and teachres catching Encephalittis and chicken Guniya. Shamefull matteru!  In U.P. , lost year, lots of skool children die due to moskitos and pigs and madum Sonya Gandhi and future P.M., Rahul Gandhi very very angry. I will complayen to them.

Our Hanuma turning mad after pigbyte. Gives poltical answer for 15 Tabels. 15 into 10 answre says ‘ Bella Ree !’ All pigs roam our skools because no strings attached. Tie them in korporation to your chairs so no pigs come to skool and byte other Hanumas. If no place in Korporasion, build another MCC and keep your peegs there! Enuff of peeg menase and nonsense to stoodents, teaschers and jeneral publics!

Yours sinserely,

Fed up Broad Inspektor and still feeding

Right people, wrong place, wrong time, right ho

27 July 2006

T.S. NAGARAJAN writes: Delhi in the early sixties. My wife Meenakshi, a convent-educated matriculate, had just joined me after our wedding in the temple town of Madurai. I took much pride in taking my pretty wife along with me whenever we were invited to receptions, cocktails and dinners in the Capital. Invitations from close friends just couldn’t be missed.

Once there were two in this category from my friends, Shankar Pillai, the famed cartoonist, and J.P. Chaturvedi, a senior journalist. Shankar had invited us to his daughter’s wedding reception at the Hyderabad House on a Sunday evening, while JP’s was for celebrating his son’s wedding on the lawns of his house in Kaka Nagar, also on a Sunday. We looked forward to these evenings with much interest.

The first of the two Sundays arrived. Accompanied by Meenakshi, I drove straight to the reception. It was a red carpet welcome at the Hyderabad House. The place looked bright with immaculately dressed guests, which included a number of foreigners. The hall reverberated with the chatter of the crowd as liveried waiters scurried around with snacks and drinks.

Time ticked away but there was no sign of the married couple. “This happens always. The bride dashes off to a beauty parlour in the last minute and arrives late”, commented my wife.

Wondering what might have happened to Shankar Pillai, I got busy with some eats and a drink. To my surprise, I found no familiar face in the crowd. Everything appeared strange with no evidence of any sights and sounds normally associated with a wedding reception.

But, luckily, I found Frank Moraes, the doyen of journalists in the Capital, talking to someone. It was like finding an oasis in a desert. I joined him. Within minutes, I realised the dreadful truth that we were at the wrong place.

The cocktail was by the Ministry of External Affairs to welcome a new ambassador from a friendly country. Those present were from the Capital’s diplomatic corps and officials of the ministry. Coaxed by Moraes, I decided to hang on for a while. But this appeared impossible.

I found my wife at a distance in a bit of a mess. Ambushed by a knot of elegantly turned-out ladies, she was struggling to find answers to their probing queries:

“I feel I have met you somewhere. Paris?”

“Where were you posted earlier?”

I found my wife totally perplexed. But, the women just couldn’t leave her alone.  It appeared that they had only one objective – to find out where both of us fitted in.

I walked fast towards the group holding my young wife hostage, excused myself, and nearly pulled her out. “Come on, you must meet Frank Moraes”, I said and managed to whisper to her that we were at the wrong reception and managed to disappear  quickly from the scene.

The ultimate finis to the evening’s slip-up was at the exit.  A towering Sikh in a black ‘bundhgalla’ with a mike in hand accosted me and asked politely: “Your car number, Sir?” I mumbled something for an answer, shot straight to the parking lot, started my faithful lambretta scooter and drove past the bewildered Sikh, with my confused better-half sitting behind me on the pillion.

Just because you are literate, you are not wise

27 July 2006

T.S. SATYAN writes: It happened long ago.I had gone with a friend to the telegraph office near Banumiah‘s high school in Mysore when a coolie working at the nearby Santhepet came to us with a request.

“Swami, I want to send a telegram. Will you please write it for me?”

“Certainly. What’s the matter?”

“Someone in my neighbourhood is dead. I want to inform his relative who is living far away. I have his name and address.”

We drafted the message and gave it to him.

He returned it and asked: “Swami, Will you please read what you have written?”

We read out: “Your relative is dead. Start immediately.”

On hearing us the coolie seemed upset, looked at us with folded hands and asked: “Swami, Will you kindly remove the last sentence?”

“Why? What’s wrong with it?” We asked in surprise.

“Swami, the decision to come here or not is something that he has to take. Who are we to ask him what he should do?”

We were dumbfounded at the common sense and values of someone who could neither read or write.

Modern Bakasura

27 July 2006

PDCS writes: BBC reports on this incredible eater Rappai, from Trissur, known more fondly (though not by the ‘eat all you can buffet’ restauranteers) as Theeta. Seventy five idlis for breakfast. Three buckets of rice, one bucket fish and ten kilogams of meat in all you can eat buffet. There are more legendary stories, as 64-year old Rappai has become world famous in Kerala. But now he has reportedly decided to slow down, after some run ins with hoteliers and as per the advice of his doctors and police friends.

Share stories of incredible eaters of your acquaintance. Rappai needs company.

Tippu Sultanu, rocket technologiyu and Biryani Politiciansu

25 July 2006

PDCS writes: Under the very popular ‘Blame the Damn Politician‘ scheme, Chikkarange Gowda recently asked a very pertinent question:

Why don’t politicians, who spend a fortune on Biryani and Chilli chicken, sponsor and publish in Urdu his book on Tippu Sultan?

Shri Gowda, who is the honorary chairman of two fine Bangalore based organizations Tippu Sultan publicity committee and Kuvempu publicity committee, was addressing a special meeting of (the appropriately named) ‘Tippu self-help societies‘ in Mysore. He apparently has researched Tippu extensively and written a Kannada manuscript, which he would like his Muslim brethern to read. That’s where politicians enter the picture. They aren’t willing to support his project, since all their money is being spent on Biryani and Chilli Chicken.

Gowdre, may I let you in on a secret? Politicians got some change to spare after buying Biryani and that’s usually spent on Scotch. But as you say, they are all idiots and won’t give you a dime.

But, gentle Churumuri reader, the impressive thing about Gowda isn’t just his book manuscript. He also has enough stuff to give a hundred hour long speech on Tippu and he is willing to give that speech if someone were to sponsor the event.Yesterday, as Andolana reports, Chikkarange Gowda found an enthusiastic audience among gentle and generous Mysoreans, who offered to host his hundred hour lecture.

But I ask: what would our world be without obsessively committed people like Shri Gowda. It takes one to recognize another of his tribe.

Also what’s up with hundred hour speeches? I got problems with 45 minute ones! Does this have anything to do with that favorite Indian obsession: Guinness records?

In the meanwhile, an absurdly serious search continues for the Missiles of Mysore. Is this a missing piece of military history or a delusional quest? You tell me.

A senior technocrat and a confidant of President Abdul Kalam, Shivathanu Pillai visited Srirangapattana earlier this week. Newspaper reports referred to many historical truths that Indian scientists have apparently uncovered. According to them, Tippu’s Mysore Kingdom was the first to apply scientific principles to test and perfect rocket and missile technology. Tippu also apparently had a rocket brigade, which was instrumental in defeating the British in 1792. I have nothing against asserting Srirangapattana as the birthplace of modern rocket science and technology. I like Tippu too. He was a good guy. But on the missile thing, show me some credible evidence. That’s all I ask. A lame assertion masquerading as discovery doesn’t cut it as evidence.

But what’s up with trying to prove Tippu and Indians are the pioneers in rocket science. For all our innovation and early start, our rockets still tend to fall into Arabian sea, too frequently for anyone’s comfort.

Coming to an airport near you

25 July 2006

PDCS writes: Speculative investment in Mysore real estate is nothing new.

Still, have you heard of a Heritage Golf Course being built near Mysore Airport? Most Mysoreans haven’t.

Well informed sources from the Middle East have told us about the new rage in the Gulf: investing in this mythical Heritage Golf Course.

A google search unearthed this link to Harradine Golf promoters (scroll down for Mysore details and photos) and this information about their plans:

Design a master plan to include an 18 hole tournament course, a 9 hole executive course, practice facilities, location and footprints of real estate, club house, hotel, convention center etc. The final plan was approved in December 2005 and tender documents are being prepared for Phase 1 and Phase 2. Construction has been delayed due to issues related to land ownership but is expected to start by November.

After multiple inquiries, we have had to conclude that Mysoreans know nothing about this golf course, whereas Gulf-NRIs seem to have already booked their tickets to land in Mysore Airport and walk over to the Golf Course. No wonder, they are willing to invest millions in the project too. But as usual, oursiders seem to know more and act purposefuly about Mysore and its potential.

What’s up with that?

Has that favorite activity of Mysoreans, the afternoon siesta, got anything to do with it?



Sachin Tendulkar as seen by our TV channels

22 July 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: That Sachin Tendulkar is arguably, one of the greatest batsmen has been acknowledged by a wide spectrum of population from the masala chaiwala in Surat to the bungee jumper in Auckland and why, even the late Sir Don Bradman himself.

With such exalted status, it is no small wonder how he manages to keep his sanity within the allowable limits, amidst some of the craziest things that happens to him in his daily life… As Tendulkar looked in the mirror, he saw a few strands of grey hair around his left temple. As he was surveying the scene, his eyes caught his friend Rajdeep Sardesai walking towards him. Before Sachin could turn and greet him, Sardesai dashed out, no doubt, very much disturbed, and, whipped out his mobile and gave quick instructions to the anchor Sagarika Ghose in Delhi. He immediately hopped in to the car and drove towards the Airport.Ten minutes after the event, as a puzzled Sachin sat for dinner with his family, Sagarika came with ‘Breaking News’ on CNN-IBN in a voice somewhere between a shriek and a scream.

“Sachin is getting old. He appears to worry a lot. Do you think the patch of gray strands he is getting of late on his left temple, is due to:

1. The long absence from cricket because of ‘tennis elbow’?

2. Even longer absence of the head chef at the ‘Tendulkar’s’?

3. Some more ominous predictions from the priests at Udupi Temple due to Sarpa Dosh?

For ‘yes’ to 1, please’ SMS 8868 Y’

For ‘No’ to 1, please ‘SMS 8868 N’

If it is ‘2’ and ‘3’, please don’t answer, and please, please don’t go to bed until we resolve this. Our Managing Editor Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai is expected by midnight with details of any incremental growth during the period. Mr. Sardesai, is also in touch with members connected with ‘2’ and ‘3’ even as we speak to you. Don’t go away! Stay with us.

Next morning, on his way to MIG Club at Bandra, when Sachin coughed twice, Arnab Goswami who was within the earshot, turned blue all over, ran outside to send an SMS to Mini Menon. Before Sachin could get his hand kerchief for the third cough which was on its way, Mini was on the air at ‘Times- Here & Now’ channel ‘Breaking the News’ and asking the viewers to get cracking and SMS ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for the following:

“Is Sachin likely to be down with ‘Fishgunya’ which one gets normally after eating ‘Hilsa’ fish marinated with wine after deep frying in butter? This results in sore throat, which manifests with a forerunner of a triple-cough. If it is indeed so,

Since Sachin is not yet a triple- centurian, is a triple cough a reminder?

If ‘yes’, please SMS COUGH 3 ‘yes’.

Could this affect his batting if he opens or, would coming lower down in the batting order would send Siddu’s BP racing towards a double century and turn his light pink turban to deep scarlet? If you don’t agree to this, forget it. We are wasting our time!

Much later, as Sachin, turned on the TV before going to bed, heard the singsong voice of news reader at DDI in its 11P.M. News:

“The BCCI had setup a high Pawar Committee to ‘study the effect of using heavy bat on the Right Elbow of Shri. S.R. Tendulkar. Later, upon the recommendation of the sitting judge of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the scope of the study was widened to include Shri. Sachin Tendulkar’s arm, hand, wrist, palm, fingers and nails. The UPA chairperson, P.M. and F.M. wanted the Study to cover his left-hand too and increased the Grant-in–Aid.

“The committee has found Shri. Tendulkar’s right hand on the road to recovery, but the Committee on Left-hand has advised him to exercise utmost caution so that it does not recur in his left hand. The Subcommittee of Doctors appointed by Health Minister Hon. Ramadoss has also cleared him for the tour, provided he does not endorse any soft drink which could create cavities in his bones.”

If Masti bugs our activists, so should Huchch Masti

22 July 2006

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: What’s in a name? What’s the problem with making a film entitled Masti?

Sure, the film isn’t a biopic on the life of Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, Jnanapith award winner, who is known as Kannadada Asti. Rather, it is on the life of a notorious underworld figure from the 1970s, widely known as Mastiyappa. There ought to be no question with regard to whom should Kannadigas remember fondly and respectfully.

From all reports, it appears as if producer Ramu, director Shivamani and hero Upendra didn’t know about Masti, the writer. Nor could they appreciate the intensity of protest against using this title by Kannada writers and activists of Kannada Rakshana Vedike, who in fact, attacked Ramu’s office aggressively and somewhat violently, manhandling Ramu and Upendra among others. Shivrajkumar apparently intervened, pacified the protesters and brokered a deal, forcing the filmmakers to withdraw the name.

All the Kannada dailies have reported this controversy at some length but we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.

Have we, Kannadigas, become too sensitive? If we begin to protest against using names such as Masti (or Hubli, Tirupati, Mandya or Shiva) as director Shivamani pointed out, where and when will this end?

Will a film on the life of a criminal (even if it celebrates such a life) make a community forget one of its most important writers? If that is the case, shouldn’t we be more worried since such amnesia is a symptom of a deeper malaise in our culture?

What about the methods of Kannada activists? Will the cause of Kannada be protected by violent and aggressive posturing against perceived slights and alleged transgressions? Is “mettu tagandu hoditivi” (we will beat you with chappal) the appropriate response, even after factoring the injured sentiments? 

Masti himself was a man of graceful conduct, cultured behavior and refinement. Doesn’t beating up people to protect his name go against the Masti spirit?

Shouldn’t our sensitivity and love for language, literature and culture lead us to read writers like Masti instead of merely celebrating whatever we celebrate? How do we choose to remember such writers? Only through beating up other people in their name or further our political interests on occasions such as this?

Ravi Belagere offers a reasonable argument in a brief intervention. He suggested: “Masti isn’t merely the name of a village. It is the popular form of the term Mahasati (great wife). When a warrior dies in the battlefield, his wife would commit suicide and thereby comes to be known as a brave woman. She is a mahasati. In her name, there is an agrahara, village, which has now become Masti.” Such subtleties are beyond cinema people.

I agree with Belagere. But I also expect more of us, as Kannadigas. A community should be able to distinguish between a gentle writer and a violent criminal, even if they share the same name. If it doesn’t, if it can not, then no activism can save that culture. Surely, if we want to emulate Masti, the writer, then deploying the criminal’s methods to save the writer’s name is an offense that we should be cognizant of and try to avoid at all costs.

Is this the most happening paper in the world?

22 July 2006

One of India’s two best editors—keep guessing!—says The Independent, London, the paper started by a journalists’ co-operative, may probably the most buzzing publication in the world. This frontpage, forwarded to us by the venerable Dr Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, on the bombing of Lebanon by Israel shows us why.

It’s tempting to bomb our neighbours, but…

21 July 2006

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: A few days have passed since the Bombay and Srinagar blasts. We all have weighed in on how India should respond to the spectre of terrorist violence, with Israel’s strongarm tactics being the preferred option for most.

For nearly a week now, Israel is trying to blast Hizbullah from the face of the earth. Gideon Levy who covered Middle
East for nearly forty years for The Guardian writes a sobering piece on the folly of trying to be the neighborhood bully. Can nation states behave in such a fashion?

Even if strongarm tactics are justified, who does one strike against? In seeking to eliminate Hizbullah terrorists, Israel has to attack Lebanese territories, and even while bombing carefully chosen targets, risk causing large collateral damage to civilians. So airports are destroyed and Lebanese people are killed.

My point is not to blame Israel. It’s a terrible situation to be in, but as Amal Saad-Ghorayeb writes from Beirut in The
 both sides have been playing a terrible and dangerous game, something that doesn’t offer any hopes of a resolution any time soon.

In the meanwhile, can we afford to be neighborhood bullies?

Good night and sweet dreams

21 July 2006

As if they aren’t scary even when viewed through the safe lenses of Animal Planet or National Geographic, subversive Saggere Ramaswamy of Karnataka Photo News sends us pictures of snakes in the mating act.

Two legs forward, two legs afterward

21 July 2006

ROHIT K.G. writes from Dubai: I’m sure you’ve all read the emails on the two-cow economic system, where cows and milk production is managed according to the economic policies of different nations.

Here’s one for the Gulf and other countries in the region.

DUBAI SYSTEM: You have two cows. You create a website for them and advertise them in all magazines. You create a Cow City or Milk Town for them. You sell off their milk before the cows have even been milked to both legit and shady investors who hope to resale the non-existent milk for a 100% profit in two years time. You bring Tiger Woods to milk the cow first to attract attention.

QATAR SYSTEM: You have two cows. They’ve been sitting there for decades and no one realizes that cows can produce milk. You see what Dubai is going; you go crazy and start milking the heck out of the cows’ boobs in the shortest time possible. Then you realize no one wanted the milk in the first place.

SAUDI SYSTEM: Since milking the cow involves nipples the government decides to ban all cows in public. The only method to milk a cow is to have a cow in on one side of the curtain and the guy milking the cow on the other or to hire females and train to milk the cows … the debate is still going on.

BAHRAIN SYSTEM: You have two cows. Some high government official steals one, milks it, sells the milk and pockets the profit. The government tells you there is just one cow and not enough milk for the people. The people riot and scream death to the govt and carry Iranian flags. The Parliament, after thinking for 11 months, decides to employ ten Bahrainis to all milk the cow at the same time so cut back on unemployment.

OMAN SYSTEM: Do we really care ?

KUWAIT SYSTEM: You have two cows, one is gay the other is a fanatic! All the cows in the world hate these two cows, and these two cows hate the world.

LEBANON SYSTEM: You have two cows. One is owned by Syria and the other is controlled by the government.

YEMEN SYSTEM: Both don’t function since they are drugged up on “gat” 24/7.

Once upon a time, in the classroom of Mr Syed Ibrahim

21 July 2006

M.P.V SHENOY writes: Adolescence is a golden period in one’s life. A young awkward individual begins to outgrow parental authority. He attempts to assert his identity, starts relating with the surroundings and begins to think about his own goals in life. He begins to identify role models outside the kinfolk. Some, with whom he comes in contact, evoke awe. He internalizes some impressions they made.

One such person in my life was Mr. Syed Ibrahim (SI), our class teacher from Vth form to VI–th form in Maharaja’s High School, Mysore. A man with stern exterior but soft as cotton inside. Many, like me, who passed through the corridors of that institution when SI was teaching must have also been similarly impressed.

Mr Ibrahim was a tall, well built, fair complexioned, handsome man, perhaps in his midforties. He was not married and stayed alone in a hotel (perhaps Madeena Hotel), which was at the corner opposite the Chamaraja Technical Institute on Sayaji Rao Road. He wore a red fez cap and carried a cane when he was in school. He was unduly reserved, a man of few words but when he smiled which was rare looked charming. He made us go through Wren & Martin as nothing less than holy bible.

When in school, he followed unchanging routine. He left the teacher’s room exactly 5 minutes before time, walked in measured steps, entered the class, climbed the steps of the platform, pulled the chair and the table together, placed his fez cap and cane on the table and sat down.

We did not see him get up from the chair until the class was over, when he again collected the cane, put on the fez, climbed down the steps and exit.

Unmoved from chair he would teach grammar and more grammar. Even prose and poetry classes would turn into lessons in grammar. When ever some teacher was absent, happily he would step in and take our class. Even if it was a Biology class, he wouldn’t care less, he taught us grammar.

“Learn, Learn, you will write well, speak well in future. No one is going to teach you all this in collage. I am killing two birds in one shot. One SSLC, another the intermediate,” he would say raising his hand towards First Grade Collage which was not far away from the school. I am not sure how many of us understood the profundity of the statement but all of us did nod our heads.

In keeping with his simple living he was for putting all his thoughts across in simple sentences. He would read out a lengthy passage from our prose text book and ask one of us “Enadru artha aytha?” He would chuckle.

Then without waiting for an answer, would say “Bombastic”. He would ask from one of us the meaning of the word bombastic. “Bada bada mathu namge beda. Yarige artha aagbeku? Englishu namdu bhashe alla. Navu simple agii helidre ellargu artha agbeku.” He would then cast that passage in to simple sentences and then ask ” Ega samajge buntha?” This proved a boon to me in my later life to put my thoughts across in simple sentences.

Long hours of grammar tend to be boring however interestingly the lessons were taught. But none of us dared to make any sound of dissent. If some one from a back bench yawned, he would make him stand and give him such a dressing down that he would never make that mistake again. He disliked any disturbance in the class and would lose his temper at the slightest noise.

Most of us, except a few, lived in houses of mud and tiles, and suffered from poor nutrition. Illness visited us with regular frequency, especially cold and cough. Cutting his classes was out of question. We would make great effort to suppress a cough. But sometimes the very effort made it burst into loud blast.

He would immediately point his finger towards the hapless boy and shout, “Stop, bombada, gala gala namge beda. Don’t disturb, hogu, horrgehogu.” Through out my stay in the school I do not remember any one having gone out. The son of a rich oil mill owner was an exception.

His favourite student in the class was T.S. Nagarajan, who later became a world renowned photo-journalist. He wrote good English even in those days as a school boy. But he used to sit in a middle row much to SI’s dislike. SI wanted him in the front row, as near him as possible. He would sometimes summon him to front row which TS would immediately obey. But next day TS would be again in his usual place. TS could not resist the peer pressure of his Saraswatipuram gang.

Collection of school fees in those days was a monthly ritual and was the responsibility of the class teacher. It was a complex job. Some students had full fee exemption. Some had half fee exemption. Even though the monthly fee was only Rupees one and a half, it was a large amount in those days and some failed to bring the amount on the designated day.

SI detested this work but could not escape it. So he had devised an ingenious and effective way so that the duty is performed and he could continue with teaching uninterrupted.

At the beginning of the year it, he would choose two boys who had no love for the subject and hand over the work to them. Both would be from back benches, little older and well built so that the boys would obey their command. Occasionally there would be a complaint that a particular boy is short of the requisite amount. SI would only cast a glance at that boy, hear his explanation and in some cases allow him to deposit the balance amount later and other cases warn the boy to bring the amount next day. It was rumoured that some boys did not fulfill their promise and SI made up the difference from his own pocket.

Exactly when the bell went off, SI would get up from his chair walk through the corridor to the teacher’s room sit in a particular chair in a corner, which no other person dared occupy. He would remove his fez cap and place it on the table, take out a kerchief, wipe his face, hands and pate, call the peon and order a masala dosa or a khara bath form Cosmopolitan Club Canteen. The peon was entitled to one anna tip. Thereafter he would take his forty winks. He had very few friends among the teachers and he rarely spoke with his colleagues.

One passion SI had was watching football match. We could never bring ourselves to ask him whether he played football during his youth. In Mysore those days there were two tournaments held every year, one of them just before Dasara.

Ananda Rao, a migrant from South Kanara and now a flourishing printer located in Srirampet would acquire on lease a piece of field in Dodda kere, erect Bamboo mat enclosure to hold the matches. In that tournament invariably there would be two or three teams from Bangalore and a few from outside the state, Nagpur, Delhi etc. The teams from Bangalore would either be Bangalore Blues, Sullivan police or/and 515 command workshop.

SI would be at the field 15 minutes before, retire to a grassy patch near the goal post and sit down there. After some time he would call the Peanut vendor and ask him to put half a seer of peanuts on the kerchief he had spread. A friend of mine and I also loved to watch football. We would slip through the opening in the mat at one of the corners; slowly move towards the place where the action was. SI would observe us, or we would contrive to be observed, call us and make us sit near him and invite us to share the nuts. He would then give running commentary on the match peppered with his opinion.

“This fool should have passed ball to center forward, that son of widow holds the ball too long and dribbles too much, this Brahmin boy is too frail to play foot ball,” etc. In those days umpiring for the quarter final onwards was invariably done by one Mr S. Iyengar who was a teacher in Hardwicke High School but had a passion for football. He was a good referee but these matches would be drawn once or twice.

SI would say, “this son of a—-, draw madisthane. nodu, noodthairu” After some time he would say, half in murmur, ” avnu enu madthane? Anandaraynige paisa aagbedva? Collekshun agbeku. Loss madthre tournamentoo nadithaitha?” Our response never went beyond monosyllabic grunts. Also as the peanut heap shrunk to nothing our thought would be directed towards how to sulk away. SI would also know about it. He would himself tell, “Innu nanu aata nodbeku, Bhago, oodu, oodu.” It was there that I learnt any match can be fixed.

At the end of the term there would be Sharada Pooja. SI was always keen that pooja performed by our section should be the best. Two months before the event he would choose three boys in whom he would have found leadership and organizing ability, to form a committee. All arrangements, viz., collection of contributions, arranging the function, keeping the accounts would be their responsibility. He would hold a meeting during lunch hour once a week to review the progress. He knew where the best laddus were available, which supplier gave fresh flowers, etc. He would only give lead to the boys but they had to deliver. Both the years B section pooja was adjudged as the best.

Years later, I met SI on a few occasions; once when I passed Intermediate. He would always welcome his old students with open arms, all reserve gone, enquire about their well-being and ask whether what he had taught had helped.

After I graduated from engineering collage, I went far away from the city into the wide world. Once, when I visited Mysore after several years, I felt like seeing my English Teacher. I learnt that SI had retired and passed away shortly afterwards.

What did I learn from him? Of course, I learnt English grammar. But more than that one should put one’s heart to work. The efficacy of effective delegation—one should pick up right person for a job and by delegating responsibility and with few controls one can get the work done better. One can speak less and still can be effective.

10 reasons we won’t win the war on terror

16 July 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I saw The Ace Political Expert (APE) trying to hoist the National Tricolour in honour of the shaheeds of Mumbai and Srinagar who have given their lives again and again. As we saluted the flag, I asked the APE whether we would win the war against terror. ‘A big no’, said the APE, because of the following reasons:

1. We should ask Pak to hand over Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon before we clear our throat even to talk to Pakistan.

2. We have been parading Abu Salem as if he is a state dignitary all over the country showing him the tourist spots, instead of quickly disposing his case and arranging quick retribution.

3. We have been taking Monica Bedi, Salem’s girl friend, around the country as if she is a model giving interviews to TV channels and media.

4. We take pride in photographing ‘Terrorist Training Centres’ in Pak/ POK through our ISRO satellites and show them in Indian newsreels and national networks, instead of shooting them down, because that is the only way of preventing Mumbai / IISC / Nagpur / Parliament attacks.

5. We bring our ‘Sophisticated Weaponry which can reduce enemy to ashes’ according to Borun Haldar and Komal G. B.  Singh every year during Republic Parade and take those weapons to barracks to be kept under moth balls to bring them again the following Republic Day Parade for some more gallantry and commentary.

6. Ours is probably the only nation, which should take pride in the fact that its then external affairs minister actually chaperoned terrorists in his plane and took them to safety. He and the country could get a first of its kind award and enter the Guiness Book Of Records!

7. Even before investigation is underway we have idiotic politicians ‘jumping’ to save suspect organizations for fear of their ‘Vote Banks’. You won’t find a better traitor in history!

8. The more politicians hail spirit of people to raise from the ashes, you can be sure they are in collusion with terrorists either in abetting the crime or giving them a clean chit.

9. Don’t again ask ‘Big Sam’ to define a ‘terrorist’. Have your own definition. Follow your own instincts. Big Sam has his own agenda and we don’t have to follow the line drawn by him every time.

10. The country should decide ‘Enough is Enough’ and take steps both against ‘Internal’ and ‘External’ agents whoever they might be. It should not be too difficult to identify and hunt them down. Don’t be a sissy.                                                 

Is the end nigh for black and white photography?

16 July 2006

T.S. NAGARAJAN writes: Is it twilight time for black and white photography? Yes. It appears that the days of traditional photography are numbered. Modern technology is driving this art form from flash bulbs to digital imaging, bringing in major changes in its practice and appreciation.

After all, it’s simpler to make digital photos with increasingly automated cameras coming out every day. As digital image processing and inkjet printing take hold as the preferred means of producing photographs, one would tend to ask: Does a century-old technology still have relevance in the digital age?

But there is still an ardent group of diehards, among the senior citizens of black and white photography, who would have nothing to do with digital. At the same time, they do know in a corner of their minds that they would see the demise of photography itself, as they have understood and practiced, well within their own lifetime.

Their fears are not totally misplaced. The complete domination of colour in the snapshot market, which has pushed the black and white version into an area not commercially attractive, is certain to influence the future of photographic technology to sway in favour of the colour image.

Photography is no longer the preserve of the elite. Almost everybody owns a camera. You just point and click; the camera does the rest. Almost everyone wants only colour prints. There is a mini-lab next door to do the job in a jiffy. Most professionals these days work only in colour. Black and white photography is considered by many as old fashioned and professionally not very lucrative.

So, where do the black and white specialists, who produce eye-catching pictures in varying shades of grey, print them arduously in their wet darkrooms, mount them in artistic frames and try to sell them (as painters do) at high prices in art galleries come in, when the age-old question whether a photographic print is an art object still remains undecided.

Then, is it twilight time for black and white photography?

Black and white photography has been around for years. It had its days of glory. When the colour revolution arrived, black and white remained on the back-burner. Lately, there has been a resurgence of interest in black and white photography. Museums have opened their doors to photography throughout the world. It is simply being pushed into the realm of art by critics, gallery owners, dealers and auction houses.

But this good news is only for those professionals who have made a name for themselves internationally and whose work is sought after by leading galleries. There is no doubt that the black and white image has lost its people’s mandate. Today their king is colour.

I thought my black and white days were over when colour photography arrived and mesmerized the world. But, it was not so. I took to photography in the early fifties. I shot my first roll of black and white film as long ago as 1950. I still have those negatives in good shape even though it had been processed in a wayside studio in Mysore city. I produced my wedding album of black and white pictures nearly fifty years ago. Even today the prints in the album remain bright and beautiful while the wedding albums of my daughters, produced wholly in colour, have already begun to fade away!

This is where colour photography, despite all improvements in its chemistry, lags behind its poor cousin the black and white version. The most obvious advantage of the black and white print as an art object is its longevity. The Daguerreotype was essentially a black and white image, which is still there as a vital part of the history of photography. Black and white prints properly processed to archival standards can last a few centuries. Even the badly processed prints have a long life. Though technology is still trying to give colour images some stability, most of them, irrespective of their developing process, can’t go beyond forty or fifty years. Photographic colour chemistry still has a long way to go.

I feel the supremacy of the colour image in visual communication and in advertising remains unchallenged. Black and white is preferred only when one needs to make an image conspicuous in a world full of colour. I am curious about the future of black and white in journalism too, especially because digital journalism has taken root with the help of film-less technology.

What is the future of the black and white image, digital or otherwise? Digital photographs taken today may be or may not be around for a long time. There is no guarantee that you will be able to read a CD after a few decades and print pictures from it. Yes, this may be possible if you find a computer in an antique shop! Everything digital needs constant upgrading. Wet darkrooms have dried out. The digital camera aided by versatile softwares can produce unimaginable pictures. But to me all this is nowhere near the drama and delight of seeing a picture come to life in the darkness of a good old darkroom.

How Zidane saved Materazzi with the head-butt

15 July 2006

Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in the finals of the football World Cup isn’t merely what you saw it to be—a brain explosion in a star player. It depends, as this viral email forwarded by Cactus Dude suggests, on your national perspective. Indeed, if you believe the Japanese version, Zidane may actually have been saving Materazzi’s life!

Italy and India: Separated at birth?

15 July 2006

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: What do India and Italy have in common apart from Sonia Gandhi that is? 

John Foot, author of Calcio: A History of Italian Football, thinks the recent Italian football scandal is quintessentially Italian (or Indian): “Sucking up to the powerful is something that happens naturally in Italian society”. He also thinks the scandal is about vast quantities of money now at stake in the Italian football. He could have said the same about Indian cricket or politics too.

Read this Guardian story by John Hooper on a quintessential Indian (sorry Italian) story:,,1820971,00.html

What Uttam Nakate & Shashi Kumar are telling us

15 July 2006

ALFRED SATISH JONES writes from Washington D.C.: Sorry I’ve been off the radar for this long. I’ve been in a funk for several reasons. One, Syd Barrett kicked the bucket and made me think of my mortality and legacy, which are both subjects with little cheer.

Two, work is crap at the moment and that is a huge mood drag. And finally, three, I’ve put on so much weight that I embarrassed myself in the last game I played, e.g. in my head, I was running towards the ball and was going to make the catch, in reality, I was a good five yards short!

Anyway, I came across a pretty good article about India’s economic story. Written by Gurcharan Das in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. Thought it might be of interest to churumuri readers