Thursday, October 28, 2004

Friedman is struck because ...

"I have been struck by how many foreign dignitaries have begged me lately for news that Bush will lose." (Tom Friedman)

Foreign dignitaries are eager to get news that Bush will lose. Of course they asked about Bush to Friedman. Friedman is struck because he did not consider himself to be so important a person that dignitaries would beg him for any news.

Foreign dignitaries are eager to get news that Bush will lose. Of course they asked about Bush to Friedman. Friedman is struck because he did not think so many dignitaries would be eager to get news that Bush will lose.

Foreign dignitaries are eager to get news that Bush will lose. But nobody asked anything about Bush to Friedman. Friedman is struck because he was so full of himself that he expected dignitaries to beg him for news.

Foreign dignitaries do not bother about what'll happen to Bush. Nobody asked anything about Bush to Friedman. Friedman is struck because he thought dignitaries should be eager to get news about Bush.

Foreign dignitaries do not bother about what'll happen to Bush. Nobody asked anything about Bush to Friedman. Friedman is struck because he expected the dignitaries to talk to him about what interests him.

Foreign dignitaries do not bother about what'll happen to Bush. Still they asked about Bush's chances to Friedman. Friedman is struck because dignitaries were kind to talk to Friedman about what interests him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Guardian poetry workshop

Cute little poems 'with long titles' @ Guardian poetry workshop. While Ayesha Chatterjee writes about "an echo of a word, spoken just so, just then", Rosie Blagg thinks about "the echo of words unspoken".

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Veerappan and Rajkumar

Then Rajkumar favoured amnesty for Veerappan. He had also said Veerappan took great care of him. Now he says "the beast is gone", and expresses happiness in Veerappan's death. ( BBC reports that a leading human rights group has asked for an inquiry into the killing. )

Jivha - the Tongue

It's three months since Jivha -- arguably the most successful Indian blogger -- stopped blogging. I noticed this post about Veerappan, while glancing through the Jivha archives.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Achebe dumps national honour

It's nice to see Chinua Achebe doing this. I remember an Achebe aphorism that immensely struck me the very first time that I read it: "charity is the opium of the privileged". I feel I can see the conviction with which Achebe wrote this sentence in his rejecting the national honour too. Indeed reassuring that some of our literary heavyweights do stand for what they say.

The Hindu on Kher

"At a different level, Mr. Kher's exit raises two issues. The first relates to the need for those who decide what films the public should see to adopt a more liberal and progressive attitude. ... The second issue relates to the need to ensure that appointments to Censor Boards are apolitical and that their functional autonomy is not impaired in any way. A bumbling but autonomous Censor Board is better than a system where the Government decides which films can be screened in cinemas and which will remain in the cans."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

CBFC chief fired

Amardeep Singh's post.

Midnight's child

    Midnight has many children; the offspring of Independence were not all human. Violence, corruption, poverty, generals, chaos, greed and pepperpots. [Rushdie, Midnight's children.]
Growing consumerism, amassing of wealth by a few, involvement of those in the government and law enforcing authorities in unlawful activities, surge in alcoholism, and flourishing sex rackets. All seem to be interconnected, at least in Kerala. So many sex scandals in the last decade, each has its share of politicians, police superintendents, businessmen, and top movie stars.

The latest "sensational" (as the media call it) scandal is from Kumarakom, the now famous tourist resort in Kerala. A teenager from Kumarakom, who aspired to become a movie star, was raped over several months by many "important" people. She also delivered a baby two months back on the 15th of August. Another offspring of Independence. Another midnight's child.

Kumarakom was made internationally famous by Arundhati Roy's "The God of small things". Kumarakom is also famous for "Kumarakom musings", the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's new year thoughts in the year 2000, when he was vacationing in Kumarakom. Vajpayee wrote:

    Guided by the light of the eternal and universal values of our civilisation, inspired by a modernising vision of national development, and powered by the youthful energy of one billion children of Bharat Mata, we can certainly make the 21st Century India's Century.
I wonder whether this teenager's child will ever read Vajpayee's musings from her/his birthplace, and if so how she/he will react to it. Perhaps the mother and child will find Arundhati Roy closer to reality:
    It's odd, when the Prime Minister goes vacationing in the setting of your worst, most private, childhood terrors. It's funny how my terrors have become a tourist paradise ... but it's okay. I'm a big girl now.
Update (November 14): In a sad development, the teenager who was at the center of the Kumarakom sex scandal, passed away today morning [PTI].

Maharashtra elections

Election results in the second largest state in India is out, and the Congress-NCP combine is going to form the next government. I think many people expected the results to be along these lines as only recently Congress put up a nice performance in the national elections. I'm happy about the results. Happy not because the Congress is coming back to power, but because the voices of Hindutva have lost elections once again. It's such a shame, and indeed very dangerous, to have Thackerays and Modis wielding a lot of power. I'm sure the psephologists and the mainstream media will come up with many explanations for the election outcome. While doing so, most of them will also contradict the positions that they took yesterday. I wish to believe that people are genuinely fed up with communal politics and that's one lesson from these results. As a congress leader put it: "each time Narendra Modi visits Bombay we get more votes".

Monday, October 11, 2004


Eight out of the twelve blogs that I read frequently have a post about Derrida. Here are just two of them: Alex Cumberbatch and Sean Carroll.

I heard about Derrida some fifteen years back when I noticed the Malayalam word "vyatyasTata" spelt differently as "vyatyasTHata" in a newspaper article. "VyatyasTata" means "difference" in Malayalam. The author of that article had coined the word "vyatyasTHata" as a translation for "differance".

I do not even have a nodding acquaintance with "The Theory". But in my school/college days it was very fashionable to drop names like Derrida or Lacan in any kind of conversation. I guess some people genuinely believed that "the theory" encompasses all sorts of knowledge. I wonder how many of them had a more than average familiarity with the actual texts of these theorists. Ph.D. theses had titles of the form "Lacanian influence in Vallathol's poetry". (Vallathol Narayana Menon is one of the most famous Malayalam poets whose major works were in the pre-1947 era.) One otherwise thought Vallathol was only influenced by Indian classics and epics, the freedom struggle, Gandhism etc!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A rose by any other name

Some time back, a senior colleague of mine attributed "What's in a name" to Hemingway over a casual conversation with another colleague. The latter was quick to point out that it's not Hemingway's. To which the former's reply was: "What's in a name?"

This became a local joke, got circulated a bit, also people forgot the original names involved, the story now being about an X outsmarting a Y. The other day somebody was narrating this episode to the one who initiated this thread. But he wanted to get full credit for the apparent smartness involved in that rebuttal, so he stressed that it's he who said this first. The guy who recalled the joke reminded my colleague that the name does not matter much!

I was reminded of this joke while reading this.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

God is a Democrat

Photo courtesy: Jenny and Joe.

Frank Wilczek

From Betsy Devine's blog:

"So this morning the phone woke me up at 5:30 and it was a lady with a beautiful Swedish accent. Frank was already in the shower, but he got out and dripped all over the floor while she informed him that he and his thesis advisor David Gross, and a third physicist named David Politzer, just won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics!"

Kerala nun attacks and Mr. Ahamed

The September 25th attack on nuns in Kerala has been widely reported in the media. Here is the BBC report on the incident.

Mr. E. Ahamed is a minister in the union cabinet. In fact he is the lone representative of Kerala there. When asked about the attack on nuns, this is what he had to say: "Without knowing all the facts of the case, I cannot comment on the incident." He refused to simply condemn the incident then. After ten days, today, he has condemned the incident. He said: "It is disturbing. The matter should be dealt sternly, otherwise such things can foment communal trouble." What he said now is right. But I wonder why he took ten days to make this statement. The height of playing it safe.

Incidentally Ahamed also represents my parliament constituency --the constituency where I have the right to vote.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

LX (libretti xzentrick?)

"Memory inspired by moral assignations pocked marked
Tone dead, deadly, dark light declaration of error."

Good to see Alex continuing the libretto. This time in mandakranta?


Jai Malhar's watercolor sketch of the entrance to the temple courtyard at Jejuri:

Friday, October 01, 2004

A vote for Kerry

Within a few hours of the Kerry-Bush debate, which the media seem to agree that Kerry has won handsomely, I can see a vote going for Kerry. I signed the absentee ballot for a friend of mine this morning, who, I'm sure, is going to vote Kerry. Though I guess he might have made up his mind to vote for Kerry regardless of how the debate went.

Regarding the debate, it is interesting to note that the democrats aggressively played the blog spin game to influence journalists and columnists.

xzentrick libretti

Alex Cumberbatch's blog, xzentrick libretti, is down for more than a week now. Even the archives are not available. Wonder what's up.

In his long poem, Piece in 950 parts, Alex writes:

I spend my days doing what poets do
Weeping and then writing
Cursing and then writing
Writing curses; and incantations
Commanding the world with my voice.

Here's hoping that the blog reappears with his powerful voice very soon.