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Showing posts from February, 2016

Alone in the marketplace

The overpopulated Kerala is discovering new tourist potential.  Aqua Tourism is a promise given at Palaikari in the outskirts of Kochi.  The place has already built up a website though the actual spot is still being developed.  Virtual reality strides far ahead of real reality. Right now, before the virtual reality becomes real reality, if you are in search of some solitude in the marketplace, the place has much to offer. Some pictures from the place: Welcome Alone in a small boat with a plastic sail Neither company nor development is far off You can choose to be alone  There are people who make both ends meet even there A closer look at one such person (for whom neo-nationalism has no meaning) Solitude is still available, if you want Even solitude has to be paid for, however You are in one of the many boats, after all The bridge is not far  Even the bulldozer is not far! That bulldozer bit is a little personal exaggeration beca


Here is a little story from the novel, The Palace of Illusions, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.             Once a boy came running in from play and asked, Mother, what is milk?  My friends say it is creamy and white and has the sweetest taste... Please, mother, I want milk to drink.             The mother, who was too poor to buy milk, mixed some flour in water, added jaggery, and gave it to the boy.             The boy drank it and danced in joy, saying, Now I, too, know what milk tastes like!             And the mother, who through all the years of her hardship had never shed a tear, wept at his trust and her deception. I am amazed by both the jejune credulousness seen in the country today and also the amount of deception being perpetrated because of that credulousness.  There is a lot of false propaganda going on among bloggers, social network users, the mass media, and even in the Parliament.  A lot of falsehood is dished out as gospel truths.  Many of our

The Challenge for Mr Modi

No great leader emerges unless there is a crisis.  Mohandas Gandhi would have remained a mediocre lawyer had not the freedom struggle discovered the leadership qualities in him.  Abraham Lincoln would not have secured his present place in history without the crisis that challenged his potential in the form of the Civil War. Mr Narendra Modi has his historical opportunity now to prove his station in history.  India is faced with a crisis called nationalism. Nationalism, by definition, is excessive devotion to the interests of a particular nation-state.  It is valid when there is a threat to the autonomy of the nation-state.  India is not facing any such threat now.  Yet nationalism has become a craze among a sizeable section of the population.   When there is no threat to the nation, the only other reason for nationalist sentiments to breed and spread is a desire to dominate.  It is an urge to impose a certain culture or religion or some such thing over the others.  What

Mumbai: Maximum City

Book Review Title: Maximum City: Bombay Lost & Found Author: Suketu Mehta Publisher: Penguin Books, 2004 Every city has a fascinating history that lies beneath its imposing concrete edifices.  It is the history written on invisible pages by people who will never appear in the actual history books, people like gangsters and prostitutes.  And the person on the street too.  Suketu Mehta’s magnum opus unravels that invisible history of Mumbai in a gripping narrative that reads almost like a novel. The book is divided into three parts.  Part 1, titled ‘Power’, constitutes almost half of the book and is about the people who actually wield the power in the city.  The book speaks about the Mumbai of 1990s and hence this part begins with the riots that assailed the city soon after the Babri Masjid demolition in Dec 1992.  The Muslims in Mumbai reacted against the Babri Kasjid demolition and Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena was quick to exploit the situation for political gain

Incredible Wonderland

“Have I gone mad?” Alice wonders in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.  And the answer she gets is: “I’m afraid so; but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”  If she were not mad, she wouldn’t have travelled in Wonderland, in the first place.  That’s another argument Alice gets in the classical novel. The world of literature is a world of madness.  A world of dreams, let us make it more acceptable.  All good literature is the author’s way of dealing with the demons within him/her.  Imagine Shakespeare were alive today’s India.  How would he dramatise what is happening in the country?  One young man who fought for getting certain benefits for his caste or community was thrown in prison labelled as “antinational”.  Another young man who rather unimaginatively questioned the hanging of a person whose crime was not proved conclusively even by the Supreme Court’s own implicit admission is now facing the charge of sedition.  It is happening in a country which is boasting


Struggle stories have the potential to destroy us as much as they have for inspiring.  A Shah Rukh Khan may eject himself from Delhi in order to find stardom in Bollywood, having gone through the necessary agonies and sporadic ecstasies on the way.  An Anupam Kher may land in Bombay from Simla possessing little more than two pairs of khadi kurta-pyjamas, walk daily from Bandra to the Prithvi Theatre and survive on vada-pav bought with money obtained through tutoring children... and eventually become a star.  For every SRK and for every Anupam, there are thousands who ruin their lives in the alleys and byways of Bollywood.  Standing in the autumn of life, I look back and pat myself on the back for not harbouring big dreams.  I wanted to be a writer.  That was the only dream I really had.  And I became a blogger.  At least that.  Small dreams, smaller achievements, no disappointments.  It’s only when my laptop went on strike a few days back that I realised writing was not a

Eco is dead

Umberto Eco is no more. My review of his last novel: And my celebration of his first novel:

Antinational Dreams

I am antinational Because I dream I dream about walking without the chains That shackled my forefathers With slogans woven from scriptures Antinational I am Because I dream For azadi In the dark alleys resounding with putrid slogans They killed the Mahatma again and again And erected temples for the killers Rewrote history Fabricated myths Killed rivals in encounters In the moonlight of dreams I clamoured for azadi Azadi from the darkness To which they were dragging me Azadi, I wanted, from darkness. Standing in the moonlight I could see the distant dawn They called me antinational Because I saw the dawn

Nationalism in the time of Globalism

In the verdict that hanged Afzal Guru, the Supreme Court observed that "... the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded..."  The plain truth was known to all that there was only a circumstantial evidence against Guru, nothing that could fetch him the hangman's noose.  But the nation wanted a hanging, and Guru was hanged. We don't want this sort of entertainment any more - that's what some students of JNU said. Going against national pastimes is treason; doesn't JNU know that? Some criminal elements took advantage of the opportunity to shout antinational slogans.  Such elements should be dealt with appropriately.  If they belong to ABVP, they should be taught good manners first. If they are other disgruntled elements, the national conscience may require to be satisfied. Is nationalism justified when we have opened up everything including our self-respect to the global market? We have a Prime Mini

Numero Zero

Book Review “... corruption rife, mafiosi officially in parliament, tax dodgers in government, and the only ones to end up in prison are Albanian chicken thieves.  Decent people will carry on voting for the hoodlums because they won’t believe the BBC, or they don’t watch such programmes because they’re glued to something more trashy...” The bizarre has become the normal.  That’s what Umberto Eco’s latest novel, Numero Zero , from which the above quote is taken, seems to imply.  It is a slim novel (190 pages) with a scanty plot .  Commendatore Vimercate is an entrepreneur who “controls a dozen or so hotels on the Adriatic coast, owns a large number of homes for pensioners and the infirm, has various shady dealings around which there’s much speculation, and controls a number of local TV channels that start at eleven at night and broadcast nothing but auctions, telesales and a few risqué shows...”  He now wants to start a newspaper, or pretend to do so, because he wants to e

Winners and Losers

"Losers ... always know much more than winners." Winners focus on one thing.  Focus.  Specialise.  And win.  That's the secret.  Don't waste time on other things. Blessed are the losers because "the pleasures of erudition are reserved for losers." The quotes are from Umberto Eco's latest novel, Numero Zero . "The more a person a knows, the more things have gone wrong," asserts the irrepressible Eco ( his narrator, rather). One of the pleasures of reading writers like Eco is that they tickle you into thinking.  Think about life. And be a loser? I've accepted my loser's streak with both humility and grace, rather recent entries into my genes.  So I sat down to ponder. If you choose to go on learning endlessly until the Doomsday (of your life, of course), can you be a winner?  No, you can't.  Learners are never winners.  Learners are discontented.  Nothing satisfies them.  Bad luck. Learners dream impossible dreams.  

A symptom called Rohith Vemula

Source “I am happy dead than being alive,” said Rohith Vemula in his suicide note.  He “loved Science, Stars, Nature.”  His country gave him superstitions, communal hatred and hollow slogans.  He died feeling hollow in a country whose Prime Minister keeps mouthing beautiful slogans about development.  The other day, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha compared Mr Modi to Indira Gandhi with respect to the dictatorial style that marked both.  Of course, he had to retract later for obvious reasons. Is Mr Modi converting India into Police Raj as Indira Gandhi did during Emergency?  The way the protesters in Delhi were attacked by Mr Modi’s police indicates that the Prime Minister is trying to re-create Gujarat in Delhi.  He probably hopes to extend it gradually to the entire country.  Or, maybe, it’s just the only way he knows to handle dissension with.  Senior leaders of the party were sidelined long ago by Mr Modi.  Not that those leaders would have worked wonders.  But