Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Munnabhai M.P. ?? No ‘Luck now’ this time..!













Not wanting to set a precedent, the Supreme Court ruled that convicted Actor Sanjay Dutt cannot contest the upcoming polls. Everywhere I see people referring him to as ‘Actor – Politician’. Hell no, he is a convicted actor!!

          The decision of the Supreme Court almost restored my faith in the Judiciary. I, for one, was very happy when Sanjay Dutt was acquitted under the TADA act. But he was convicted under the Arms Act, and as a convicted individual, he could not contest elections. He did paint a very sorry picture during the trial and the whole nation rooted for him, but he seems to have taken the affection in the wrong sense. Mr. Dutt, we didn’t want you to be jailed because we wanted to see you act in films, not to see you try and rule us.

     Criminalisation of politics is the bane of the Indian political system. This is a landmark judgement and I hope it sets a precedent towards de-criminalisation of politics. In all probability, now Manyata will get the ticket from Lucknow and she will contest in his place. Knowing India and our people, she might very easily win as well.  Still, the judgement sets out a strong message to all aspiring candidates with criminal records that they cannot contest with the same impunity as they did before.

However, what is of prime importance for me is that Sanjay Dutt, as a convicted person, was not allowed to contest.

Kudos everyone!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Holocaust Literature



“The story of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is difficult to describe. Usually we give you some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important to read without knowing what it is about.”

                       So goes the description on the back of cover of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.’ My choice for the title of the post doesn't leave much to your imagination about the story of the book.

 It is, by far the most subtle book on the Holocaust I have ever read. Everything is suggestive and you have to draw your own conclusions. The story is told from the eyes of a 9 year old Bruno, whose father is a high ranking Nazi Officer. Their life changes with a visit from The Fury (Obviously mispronounced, I think we all know who he is.) Bruno is suddenly moved from his home in Berlin to the countryside. 'Out-With' (Mispronounced again!)is his new home and Bruno dislikes it a lot. It is smaller, full of soldiers and no one to play with.

            From the window of his new house, he could see a large number of people in ‘Striped Pyjamas’. Upon asking his 12 year old sister about them, She replies that they are Jews.

Bruno asks, “If they are Jews, then what are we?”

Unsure, the Sister replies, “Err.. the opposite.”

                                  The innocence of Bruno kills you as much as the horror of the Holocaust disgusts you. Slowly, Bruno realises the cruelty and the horror of ‘Out-With’ and a twist of fate brings him face to face with the ogre of the Holocaust.

                The story breaks your heart. Makes you despise our capability for cruelty. While the book is primarily for children, I think that children might not relate to the book given it’s timeframe and the fact that the events mentioned are older than even the kid’s parents. I am going to get a 15 year old to read it for me and I will ask his reaction. For  adults, I recommend this book very strongly. A must read for experience of a long lost innocence..!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Of Bombay and Mumbai...


  I don’t remember what I was talking about, but somewhere I said, “It’s common in Bombay and the same cannot be said about the rest of India.”

“Mumbai, not Bombay.” He corrected me.

“What?” I said.

“It’s Mumbai, not Bombay.”

I winced, chose to ignore the correction and proceeded with my argument.

I don’t know why but I’ll always call it Bombay.

No one can tell for sure where Bombay got it’s name from. Whether it was from the Koli deity “Mumba Aai” or if it was Portuguese for a good bay, Bom Bahia. For me though, it was Bombay in English, Bambai in Hindi and Mumbai in Marathi. It went smoothly with the languages.

I religiously avoid Mumbai, it’s always Bombay in my CVs, on Orkut, Facebook or any other form of correspondence. The Central Govt. in Feb 1997 realised that trade was getting affected adversely due to the name change and declared that both the forms of the name would be acceptable.By renaming the city forcefully, they (you know who, right? Or I’ll have to face libel charges!) wanted to exert their monopoly on the city. It was a taunt to the non-natives and a betrayal of the city’s cosmopolitan soul

While Bombay was  cosmopolitan, all absorbing, multi ethnic, modern, free and it revelled in it’s linguistic pluralism; ‘Mumbai’ is supposed to be a closed, xenophobic,  spite filled, regionalist Hindu-Marathi hub.


I read some where that Germans call their country Germany in English, Deutschland in German (Well, they call the German language Deutsch in German too!) and Alleland in French. Apparently, they never felt the need to rename the country as Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

What they lacked is that one visionary leader who chose to save his city from terrorists by renaming it. Pity indeed!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


What have I become

My Sweetest friend

Everyone I know, goes away

In the end..!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All for a Gandhian cause??

I don’t think many of us would have heard about James Otis before..! For the uninitiated, James Otis is the person who auctioned MK Gandhi’s memorabilia earlier this month. The Indian Government wanted it back and the Indian High Court passed a stay order on the auction. The New York’s auction house didn’t read too much into the order and proceeded with the auction. The new channels across India were wailing that we have lost Gandhi’s belongings forever.


   And in true filmy manner, liquor baron Vijay Mallaya stepped in and saved the day. What an irony it was! A liquor baron spending $1.8 Million to bring back the belongings of the Great Prohibitionist of India. Vijay Mallaya did not do it for the first time. He brought the Sword of Tipu Sultan back to India. And he intended to gift Gandhi’s belongings to the Government of India. Millions across India rejoiced. Bapu’s belongings were back to the place where it belonged.

Now, ‘Who is this James Otis?’ was the question on everybody’s mind. Well, apparently James Otis is a self proclaimed peace keeper. He said that he was an ardent follower of Gandhian principles and that he was auctioning Gandhi's belongings because he wanted to use the money raised through the auction for noble causes.

I saw James Otis’ interview on TV the other day. Apparently, he wanted that the auctioned items to be returned to him. James Otis, with his lawyer Ravi Batra were giving an interview to an Indian News channel.

The News reporter asked Otis, “Mr. Otis, isn’t it appropriate that Gandhi’s items should be back in the country where he belonged?”

Otis said, “Yes, I’d love to do that. It is my earnest wish that the items should be back in India.”

“Then why are you objecting now that the items are back in India?”

Otis replied that he was unhappy with the way things were turning out to be and that it had become “too political” and that it “doesn’t seem very Gandhian.”

“Still, now that the items are back to the place where it originally belonged to, why don’t you just let it go?” The News reporter asked.

Otis replied, “I am feeling very unhappy about this whole thing... I would have been able to raise a million dollars for non-violent causes…” He also went to add that he had offered to withdraw just hours before the auction but the auction house did not agree.

He added that he was following the Gandhian principles in auctioning off the memorabilia.

The reporter, visibly embarrassed by her lack of knowledge asked him to explain the Gandhian principle behind the auction.

“Gandhi believed in auctioning off his belongings and use the money generated for good causes.”

The reporter nodded intelligently. All through the interview, Otis’ lawyer was smiling into the camera like a a 10yr old.

Well, it is true that Gandhi used to auction his autographs, letters and belongings to raise funds for good causes. In fact, as a shrewd marketing technique, Gandhi had learned to sign his name in many Indian languages so that it could appeal en masse.

What Indians forgot was that Gandhi himself never attached himself to materialistic things and that if he were alive today, he would have chided Vijay Mallaya like no one else. Alas, he isn’t and would be squirming in his grave...

Monday, March 2, 2009

You know you’re in Bombay when...

mumbai VT
1. When words like ‘Jaaneka’, ‘Aaneka’ , ‘Rukneka’ , ‘Maarneka’ are considered to be grammatically correct.
2. When it takes longer to get off from your house to the station than from one end of Mumbai to another by train.
3. When every cab and rickshaw driver makes small talk with you.
4. When 1BHK flats qualify as ancestral houses.
5. When your life revolves around bizarre numbers like 8:13 and 6:08.
6. A kitchen garden is usually 3 pots hung in a window.
7. When you can curse in three languages in the same sentence.
8. When you pay 6000 bucks as rent for a room the size of a walk-in closet and think it’s a steal.
9. When you know what day it is looking at the traffic. And if you are smarter, plan your route according to the day of the week.
10. When you call a stranger ‘boss’
"Boss, zara sambhalke, niche saman rakhela hai!"
11. When you have NO idea who your mayor is but know exactly where Amitabh lives.
12. You ask your friend to meet at 9:13 under indicator of platform number 4.
train station
13. When you ask for directions and everybody around you also tries to help you out.
14. When you can go into an Udupi restaurant and order Jain American Chopsuey Dosa.
15. When your friend/relative whom you have just dropped off at the Sahar Airport reaches Dubai before you return home.
16. When the rickshaw driver plays songs that you've never ever heard before!
17. When your train is approaching station and the person behind asks "Utarega kya??"
18. When you ask somebody for a place and he tells you the bus number to get there.
19. When you find people staring at you with a disgusting look if you are not running to catch the train.
20. When you are happy to spy a sliver of the beautiful sunset/sunrise outside your window, between two grey multi storied apartment complexes.
rainy day
21. When renting an apartment you find out that the 'building is vegetarian' and you can't bring non-vegetarian food.
22. When mama and mausi are male and female 4th class workers respectively.
23. Where the happiness on the faces of slum kids by the roadside never fails to astonish you and you thought your life was a struggle?
24. When you are travelling and yelling on your cellphone, "Abhi mein Dadar pahunch raha hoon!" and actually you haven’t yet crossed Byculla!
And the speaker in the train says, "Agla Station.... Byculla..... Next Station....... Byculla..... Pudheel Station.... Bhaikhala!!"
25. When you hate the guy/girl in front is walking slowly and mutter under your breath, “Garden main aayela hai kya?!”
26. When automatic vending machines have a sales person sitting next to it just to help you.
27. When you know what a ‘Baba’ suit and a ‘Baby’ suit are.