Yearly Archives: 2007

2007, like never before, has been a year with friends It started with Lindsey who decided to fly in on a New Year day to get a discount. I spent two wonderful weeks in company of this charmingly vivacious girl. There have been trips to Delhi to catch up with many a friend and colleague. The cream of it has been my time with friends at Syracuse and at Madras. The partner of a friend’s “driving teacher” at Syracuse (of all places in the world) turned out to be a guy who had worked with Colin Gonsalves in India (I […]

2007: An year with friends

This public intellectual makes his integrity history Just before the first phase of elections in Gujarat the current Chief Minister made a controversial remark referring to the “fake encounter” of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. His own government has gone on record stating that it’s a fake encounter – but Modi has justified it stating that Sohrabuddin has been involved in extortions and other criminal activities. The Supreme Court of India is examining this extra-judicial murder currently. With just days to go before the election he decided to invoke Sohrabuddin’s murder. In a rhetorical fashion he asked the crowd what could be done […]

Cho Ramaswamy’s disappointing editorial

As big budget movies with huge marketing costs become popular and movie halls change, will the big drive out the small? Diwali is a time for new movies in India.  Two big budget movies this time decided to go for huge spending on marketing.  OSO and Sawariya together spent over Rs. 10 crores on marketing, swamping the media.  Money was clearly spent on public relations rather than overt advertisements.  “King Khan” was all over the place: watching cricket, dancing with cricket stars, doing shows, and being in any place that attracts public attention.  Even if OSO were not mentioned overtly […]

Developments in Hindi cinema: Will the big kill the good?

The disastrous ‘India Shining’ campaign of the NDA government now has a sequel in ‘India Building’ campaign planned by the UPA government It looks like the UPA government is planning an ad blitz in a campaign named “India Building” with a budget of 100 crores. The lack of imagination in the campaign is stunning – specially after the disaster that its predecessor turned out to be. A grotesque amount was spent by the previous NDA government on an ad campaign named “India Shining” in early 2004. Like any advertisement campaign is supposed to, India Shining campaign caught people’s attention. Everywhere […]

‘India Building’ advertisement campaign: 100 crore rupees for nothing?

Stark naked, next to a pool of urine, in the background of Chennai’s smelliest river, on the pedestrian walk in a noisy smoke-filled road was this child of three.  He was completely engaged, almost oblivious to the world around.  He held in his hand a slate and was practicing the letter “aa” in Tamil.  Someone, possibly his mother, must have made neat squares in the slate for the child to practice writing.  The family was homeless or were living by the shores of the unbearably smelly covam river.  Amidst this harsh life she was teaching the child to learn. Since […]

The will to learn

Frustration is all about small things Frustration 4444i4s a4l444l44 4a4bou4t 44small thin4gs444 44 444444444444444444 444444444444444444444444444444444444444444. For example your key board going bonkers and typing 4 as and when it pleases. Perhaps from a stress of travel, my 4 wireless keyboard started automatically inserting number 4 now and then driving me absolutely nuts. I got mad in a way that 4i normally do not, even 44444in44 fa4i4rl4y 4adverse4 circumstances such as loosing my passport. 44it’s then I landed on the brilli4a4n4t 44p44lan 444444444o4f 44w4ri4ti4ng 4th44i4s bl44og4 4p44o4st444444444444444444444 just to share with you what it’s like writing with the keyboard going totally […]


Brutal and grotesque punishments deter crime better than an inefficient and corrupt legal system argue many Brutal punishments are back into public debate in India with the airing of the video below. A boy who had snatched a chain from a woman was caught and brutally punished by a mob – relentlessly. A Policeman joined in meting out this “justice” by finishing the act by tying the boy to his bike and dragging him in the road. Even before this furore has died from public debate there has been another mob action today emulating the infamous Bhagalpur blindings epitomised by […]

Bhagalpur blindings, Gangajal & brutality in Bihar today

A little note on how Hariprasad Chaurasia’s concert left me between agony and ecstasy Hariprasad Chaurasia is a man who never disappoints. I have been mesmerised for a while in every performance of his and always.  Typically I walk out in a semi-trance with a feeling of ecstasy that only a great live music performance can give. I was thrilled to bits when I heard that Chaurasia is coming to Madras for a concert – and that too free. I took a seat by the aisle that was furthest away from humanity in that auditorium. He started with a slow […]

Dis-concert in Madras

Finally found the perfect voice recorder with great clarity, space, battery life and other great features I have tried my hands on four to five voice recorders so far. When I left to India for my fieldwork I was determined to get a good one that matches all my requirements. I will be doing long interviews and attending conferences – so I needed one that has a powerful mic and could record for long durations. When I read or when I work on some topic, I like to record my thoughts as they come. I needed a voice recorder that […]

Perfect voice recorder for fieldwork, interviews, conferences

I was sauntering around in Toys R Us at Time Square in the Christmas season. Anyone who has been there around this time knows of the incredible amount of crowds that come there. Most people sport a wonderful festive attitude – even New Yorkers. I was there just to enjoy this atmosphere and was happy to look around and talk to anyone who cared to.  I sustained myself with some wonderful small talk. I started having a conversation with a latino family from the mid-west. They had come to the ground floor so that their 17 year old son can […]

Child care – American style

The best task manager online now goes offline! I have been excited with the prospect of Google Gears that will allow many online applications to be used when we are offline.  After the announcement there was a little lull and I was waiting for the products to be rolled out – and the first of them that I have seen is my favourite Task Manager – Remember the milk.  With this the task manager can now be used when we are offline as well. Google gears is a product that allows developers to create applications for us to use online […]

Remember the milk available offline with Google Gears

Comparisons are often drawn between the New Deal in USA and the Employment Guarantee Act in India (NREGA). One programme of new deal comes close to NREGA – Civilian Conservation Corps The Government of India passed the all-important National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005 (for an intro click here). Whenever I mention it to my friends in USA the first question they ask me is, “is this like the new-deal”. The new deal has many similarities with NREGA, but is a much wider concept. NREGA is a programme dealing exclusively with labour-intensive, unskilled work. Employment programmes under new […]

America’s New Deal & India’s Employment Guarantee Act

Sindhu Bhairavi Year: 1985 Writer: K. Balachander Director: K. Balachander Length: 2 H 50 M Category: Drama Rating: 5 out of 5 A classic Tamil movie that’s almost perfect Sindhu Bhairavi is a rare love story where the relationship between the man and the woman is based on an intellectual craving. JKB, an acclaimed Carnatic singer (played by Sivakumar), has a beautiful wife (played by Sulokshana) who has no knowledge of music or interest in it. He discovers a fan of his – Suhashini – a keenly intelligent woman who thrives on music. Her knowledge of music, willingness to confront […]

Sindhu Bhairavi by Balachander: A treat for every sense

A friend of mine believes that tigers are rational and calculating. If he were a philosopher or an academic of some other brand I would have acquiesced to his argument. But Vinayan and I were in a jungle and we were waging a life and death argument. “Tigers know that if they kill people, people will kill them in turn”, argued Vinayan, “and being rational they will not kill people”. Saying this he urged me to walk into the Jungle as far as we were permitted with the hope of meeting a tiger. Having a rather limited faith in rationality […]

Snakes, Tigers and Crazy Friends

Many good movies have come out of Indians living abroad in the last decade. Monsoon Wedding is highly known, but there is a lot more to look at. Here are five such movies. Most of my American and European friends have seen Monsoon Wedding by Meera Nair. This is by far the most popular movie till today by an Indian director based abroad. But there are many more good movies that are worth watching that are much lesser known. Here’s a quick introduction. The acclaimed Meera Nair has taken quite a few movies. Among these, I am fond of Salaam […]

Lively ‘Desi Movies’: Going beyond Monsoon Wedding

Pertinent questions are being asked about the sustainability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the US…but the causes and options are not articulated fully Since there is a lot of hullaboo about the “crisis” in social security I tried to find what it’s all about. To my considerable surprise, I found that if the current trends continue, the system will go insolvent in early 2040’s. This kind of foresight in fiscal planning came as a surprise to me – but it is welcome. The crisis is attributed to a demographic shift towards the aged that is going to sharply […]

Are we asking the right questions on Social Security & ...

Online news is more than just reading the same stuff online…it’s a great way of comparing how news is presented across different news papers Given that newspapers are our sole source of information on a variety of issues, news bias is a serious issue. In the days of reading on paper, I would subscribe to one, or at most two newspapers and read through them cursorily. But thanks to Google News (and other such news search engines), I now compare the presentation of news across newspapers. Google news puts together articles on a topic from newspapers across the world, and […]

Google News: Advantage of using news readers

Page 3 IMDB Year: 2005 Director: Madhur Bhandarkar Category: Drama Rating: 5 out of 5 A fantastic out of the box movie from India ‘Page 3’ by Madhur Bhandarkar is one of the nicest Indian movies I have seen in the last five years or so. The plot of page 3 is available in many sites, and I will not write about it here. I shall concentrate instead on some aspects that liked most in the movie. Unique story line The story, to begin with, is refreshingly different, and is a drastic shift from the typical formula-based movies. This does […]

Page 3: Madhur Bandarkar & Konkona Sen scintillate