Thursday, March 24, 2005

Everyday's an endless stream...

...of cigarettes and lemon teas...

Done with another night of the graveyard...almost done with this particular cycle, and - in a sense - it's time for a bit of stock-taking.

I've been torn between trying to decide whether I like it or not. I mean, obviously I like it. I always have. Right from the time when I was with tehelka, and spent more time in office than anywhere else. When there wasn't much work, I was more than eager to just spend the night in office - soaking in the free a/c and surfing the net. That's not changed, though the work in a 24-hour news channel is significantly different from an update-once-a-day website.

But the deal is - and you won't find me admitting to this readily - that the bones are creaking a bit more than they used to, I need to spend more time in the loo than I have ever had to ('s a lot of gas these days instead of the usual), and I need to sleep more to shake off the night than I have ever had to. And I drink far too much tea and coffee than I should. And most people choose the night to not work and that means far too many people spend far too much time trying to make unnecessary conversation with you.

But on the other hand, I love the fact that the office is so quiet. The net's there. I have a TV - practically - to myself. I get a lot more work done than any of us do on a normal work-day. I can't report much while on night - obviously - but that's not so bad, because there are at least four-five cycles between a night cycle (two weeks) to report much as I want.

So there it is. The debit side and the credit side. It's evidently heavier on the 'cons' side, but I am not willing to make a judgment with the creaking bones + time in the loo + tea-coffee factor in mind. That, surely, can be gotten around.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Have been meaning to write on both the Narendra Modi story and the Shakti Kapoor story for some time now...but just haven't been able to find the time.

The Shakti Kapoor story is far too dated now, so I'll put in my two-paise's worth on the Modi story. And what a story it is! It's the classic clash of evils, with nothing between the two for me to figure out the lesser evil. My hatred of Narendra Modi comes a close second only to that of my hatred of the US. And while the US has various things going for it, admittedly, Modi doesn't. But then, Modi's just an individual.

Jabberwock beat me to this one, because I also thought Vir Sangvi's edit on the story (as with his edit on the Shakti Kapoor issue) was remarkable. And wanted to comment on it. The bit I wanted to pick out was about Modi being OUR mass murderer (this being more about the issue than Sanghvi's point of view; Jabs has been a long-standing lioniser of Mr Sanghvi, which may or may not be incidental here). Which was always my take on the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. Admittedly, the Taliban issue deserved and got less sympathy from across the world than the Saddam issue. But as far as I am concerned, neither of the cases were the US' to try. Saddam might have been a bastard, but he was the Iraqis' bastard. The Taliban was Afghanistan's problem. It wasn't for the US to reason why. Similarly, it is not for the US to try Modi. He is a murderer, a terrorist, but he is my terrorist. He is our terrorist. He is our murderer. Not the US'.

It's an altogether different matter that George Bush is no less a murderer and terrorist than Modi. Oh, well, I am not going to go into the whole Bush-bashing thing here, but surely we all agree with the 'terrorist' tag on Bush. And unlike Modi, Bush is an international terrorist.

Therefore, it's not too difficult to figure out where Sanghvi is coming from. Sanghvi (like Jabs says) is torn between the logic and patriotism divide. Fair enough. So are we. Always. Whenever it's a Bad Indian In Trouble With A Foreign Country. It's as simple as that. We prefer trying our criminals ourselves. Anybody would.

PS: Sanghvi's Shakti Kapoor edit was even better. It was easily the best thought out edit I have read in a long, long time.


Bad. The only thing going for this Majid Majidi film is that it's Iranian. You know, the whole charm of the set up and the characters.

Otherwise, zilch. Bad story with repetitive screenplay. Bad acting. Bad direction. Sloppy camera.
And no songs.

Glory be Pt. II

Right, then. Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have also been let off. Which brings us back to the sequence of: they didn't miss any of those dope tests, they did have a serious motorcycle accident, and then, they did run at Athens...a heroic effort, considering it was less than a week after their accident.

Citius, Altius, Fortius...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Glory be...

The two Kanishka Bombing accuseds who were being tried in Canada have been let off. Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri are both free. And innocent. The bombing never happened. The Air India flight still flies back and forth between Ireland and India.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Okay, so where's the issue?

Just caught stuff on Awfully Scary Paper's (thanks, Kitabkhana) shootout against little Mediaah! Thanks, Jabs, for letting me know.

Read what Jabs wrote...was routed to Kitabkhana and Little Media. Was outraged to start with. Again? Fuck!

But then, after the initial outrage, I wondered whether it was worth being outraged. And also wondered whether the hundreds of people who have signed in the petition are actually outraged. It's really the flavour of the season, isn't it? I think so.

I started work with Tehelka from around the time they started out. Right from the match-fixing expose. I was there for two years...the last six months wihout getting a salary because the company didn't have money to pay me or anyone else. [They do now, and still haven't paid, but that's another story] I remember all the encouraging words so many of us puked out at the time. There were so many petitions being signed day in and day out. If my memory serves me right, there was also a protest march organised at some stage.

But then, what happened? I am not saying it was up to all these outraged people to solve the problem. But where did they go once the shit really hit the roof and the clampdown assumed proportions bigger then the problem we started out against? Where did the petitions go? Heck, the issue was actually against the BJP, so the outrage should surely have been a few degrees hotter.

Anyway, to cut my rambling short (it's been another long day, I'm sorry)...I don't see what we stand to gain from protesting against the ASP in question. Also, what our protest will add up to. Zilch. Close enough?

The Solution Then: Pradyuman Maheshwari is out. There's no comeback as far as he or his Mediaah is concerned. (Sorry, mate) And that's what will happen each time we take this Free Speech shit too far out for the AS Media's comfort. And there is no way around it. Big Media will always win, Small Media will always lose (not just to Big Media, but everything bigger than Small Media). But there could be a trick in using numbers. A series of Awfully Small Set-ups, that can go about Free Speeching all they want, and shut their traps the moment ASPs count up to 19.

Does it make sense? I think it does. Simply because this farcical outrage shit we are talking about is far too pointless. It doesn't work. It's not meant to work.

The Mediaah issue is over...but there can be more within the broader framework Mediaah worked under.

Think about it.

PS: Sorry, but I'm not signing the petition, whether it matters to anyone or not.

A little more on The Unconsoled

Forgot to mention my take on what Unconsoled really was about. I recall Jabberwock, Ajitha and me having a discussion on it sometime back. They had read it and I was starting on it. I don't remember clearly what their thoughts were...but this is what I thought:

Kind of daft writing about it, but I have started now...

I basically felt that Ryder didn't exist in reality. His presence in the scheme of things was in the capacity of a bouncing board. I think his arrival was expected, and like with most people, when they are expecting someone important - professionally or personaally - you tend to go over what might be and what the time spent with them is going to be about and stuff. And then the train of thought takes different, often tangential tracks.

Therefore, it was - in its surrealistic setting - a set of long-winded thoughts on their exchanges with Ryder. Yes, that's my take on the story.

Makes sense? Dunno.

Friday, March 11, 2005


So...Tendulkar's double record chase wasn't to be.... And I had to scan around for a reason to feel happy about it. This time, I think I will go with the way he batted. The opposition was worthy, despite missing a few teeth, and the venues was respectable enough. But it wouldn't have been a good enough 35th century if Tendulkar were to reach it in that Dravid-ish style. Heck, Tendu probably felt the same way. And that's probably why he messed up when there was no logical reason for him to.

If that's the case, there's good news for us. Because it means Tendu knows (or feels, at the very least) that he might be able to get back to some vintage form sometime in the near future.

My fan-like attitude towards Tendu has been on the wane for a long time now. Ummm...well, it had actually dipped some distance further in between, but I have come to like Tendu a bit more of late. Now, he is just a record man for me. Along with being a bit of a selfish joker, what with him travelling with the team unnecessarily when he knew he wouldn't be able to play.

And, on a more positive note, I think he is doing well contributing to the team total, evidently pulled down because of the elbow fuck-up. It's probably impractical to believe he can stir up a Desert Storm or whatever anymore. That's obviously beyond him now. So is, say, a really exciting 50. What he's good for now are longish, responsible innings. Nothing more.

But to go back to the reason for being happy that the century didn't come in Mohali, the sad part is that he will probably have to do it in a similar way as and when he does do it. It will be off 200-odd deliveries...won't have a proper pull, a couple of on-the-up cover drives if we are lucky, sixes are out of the question. 60 per cent of the runs are sure to come off singles too. So that's about 10 boundaries.

It's focus Kolkata then...because though he might have time to hit up the 10,000 in Mohali, the century will have to wait. Wish Tendu can put in one last BIG effort, hit it with a strike rate of about 80, and retire. Or die.

Monday, March 07, 2005

About Bhopal...

It's totally out of context, but I felt this need to blog a bit on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Well, if a context is really necessary: Ajitha and I were in the middle of yet another freelance project, and it dealt with a series of women who have made major contributions in the area of social work. And there was the story of Champa Devi Shukla and Rashidabee, two women - rather well known, and widely covered in the media down the years - who have contributed immensely in the campaign against Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals.

Now, while their story is one do I put it...well, it's the sort that, if nominated for an Oscar, will be good enough to convince the other four nominees not to even appear for the ceremony.

But that said, I am not blogging on either of them. If I had to, it would be about Medha Patkar. Who, incidentally, I had the good fortune of spending many delightful hours with once upon a time. It was when I was with tehelka, and I was sent to report around the Narmada Valley. I struck up a good enough rapport for her to get in touch with me whenever there was a story worth reporting, or when she was in Delhi and had time for a meet-up.

Anyway, to get back to the Bhopal Gas Leak... it was last year, wasn't it, in December, that the twentieth anniversary of the Disaster was 'celebrated'? Yeah.

Now, the deal about the whole story that continues to baffle me is how despite the massive international support to the campaign, the powers-that-be (the judiciary in the US and in India, the United Nations, etc) continue to pass the buck and treat the entire issue as one that will gradually go away. It will pass, and one day everyone will wake up and realise that none of it ever happened, Union Carbide is still doing good work in India, all children in Bhopal are born in perfect health, flowers bloom in the Union Carbide factory compound, and the water in Bhopal is pure as mountain streams. It's been 20 goddamn years now, for heaven's sake! And till date, UC first and then DC, have done nothing. Nothing at all. It's been one court case after another, with decisions that get pushed back...American univeristy students continue to protest with people from India and many other parts of the world, but at the end of it, nothing at all happens.

The Bhopal incident is widely acknowledged as the greatest, biggest industrial disaster to have ever happened. I found out from reading about Champa Devi and Rashidabee that their protests in the US - significantly, during a DC Board meeting - actually resulted in DC's share prices dropping substantially (Forbes acknowledged it as being so). But DC (or/and UC) are yet to pay even a fraction of the compensation due to the survivors (or victims) of the Disaster.

The government of India has never pushed too hard to earn justice for the victims, and they continue to play indifferent. The Indian Communist Party has also been shockingly lax in doing anything, and they continue to stay away.

And, as I reach this stage, I realise that I have nothing more to say. I mean, I do. But it would be a lot of repetition of things said and done to death with down the years...

Meanwhile, this is an interesting site with a few facts about the Disaster that will help put things in perspective.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Have been published again

A bit of good news on the professional front also needs to be crowed about.

The second of my articles for the International Journal of the History of Sport is out. It was about Indian origin footballers plying their trade in the European football fields. Was rather appreciated, even if I say so myself, and at the cost of sounding like Shilpa Shetty after making some inane film.

They have called it 'Indian or Otherwise: PIO Footballers are Just a Couple of Strikes Away'. Not bad. Not great. I didn't send it in with a heading in a typical case of under-confidence. But, as usual, hardly a word of the 15-page (9000-word) article has been changed.

The first, for those who came in late, was about the history and evolution of Bengal boxing, which was published by Frank Cass last year. Routledge (of the Taylor and Francis Group) has since taken over Frank Cass and the Journal, and this one has been published by them.

No blog for the Oscars

Just realised that I haven't even blogged about the Oscars...and going 'I told you so' over Jamie Foxx winning Best Actor. Dying helps, people. Dying helps. It gets you truckloads of Grammys and Oscars!

If I had to leave notes on a couple of other things, they would be:

1. Good Matrin Scorcese missed out again. Now he can safely go down as one of those tragic sort of figures in American history. They DO value the Oscars and so on...

2. Ol' Ditry Clint won Best Director again. Blimey! Haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, but he can direct. I did see The Unforgiven and it was awesome. Has to be at par with some of the best Westerns ever made. So that was good. I liked Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, so I am happy she won.

That's it.

Done with The Unconsoled

Haven't blogged for while again. Heck, blogging's not for TV journalists. It just isn't. I come to office in auto thinking of a host of things to blog on...but after reaching office, I'm lucky to even check my mail properly. being a Sunday, the heat's down. And there's time to fool around with.

Time, by the way, brings me to the book I just finished reading: The Unconsoled. Phew! It's some read. Honestly. It has to be one of the best as well as worst books I have ever read. Well, obviously the worst bit is not meant to be read as 'worst' at all...that was just go with 'best'. But it has to be the most exhausting and disturbing and, in a sense, irritating books I have ever read. I haven't checked any of the reviews for the book, so I can say whatever I want here with complete honesty.

I am, by and large, a punctual man. I do value time above most other things, am responsible about time, and touchy about the dynamics of time. The Unconsoled, primarily, is about a man's time that is constantly, constantly, unfailingly, tampered with. It's all about a man's mind - his body clock and his physiology - being beaten to pulp with a hammer.

It's about a man in a place with time appearing to be the most crucial aspect of existence, and at the same time, being discarded as the most unimportant thing in the world. It's about time being raised to a high pedestal - everyone knows they must value time, show time respect - and at the same time flushing it down with all the crap.

And then, it has to be as masterly a work of fiction as can be. It's brilliant in the way it pits a galaxy of human beings into a common, claustrophobic set-up...a galaxy of people with an inordinately large number of words in their minds...of far too many strings of thought that run along single, predictable lines. It places the outsider right in the middle of the set-up, not as a (dis) interested onlooker, but as the prime subject of the galaxy's interest (or is that incorrect and Ryder was just around to fuck with?). And that knocks the wind out of the chief protagonist, and the bleedin' reader.

And, before I forget, the obsession with inanities. Inane statements and thoughts and discussions and pieces of advice and questions that make up such a massive portion of our lives (or should it be 'existence'?).

I am not qualified enough to review literature - and certainly not Ishiguro - but I'll say this for The Unconsoled: No book has never made me put it down so many times. Not because I didn't like it, but simply because it hit me again and again in the solar plexus; so hard, so bloody hard, that I couldn't take it.

And strangely, I don't remember half of the non-prime characters anymore. Strange, because all of them had so, so much to say.

And at the end of the whole exercise, after I put the finished book away for a bit, it took me less than two seconds to appreciate The Unconsoled as easily one of the best books I have had the god fortune of reading.