Quote

From the book 'Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity' by Debjani Ganguly.

Chapter 3: The Anamalous Insider, p. 69-70.

--Quote--

Here I cite two instances to illustrate Ghurye's version of what constitutes 'true' India. In the first case, we see him agonizing over the attempt made by Annadurai, (the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) to translate the national motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ into Tamil. Such translation, Ghurye claims, is nothing short of sacrilege to Indian nationhood. How dare a lower-caste Tamilian upstart trifle with the sacrosanct Sanskrit of the Upanishads, and in the process deprive the 'true' Indian of a glimpse of his glorious nationalist past?

The national motto, 'Satyameva Jayate', a sentence taken from an old Upanishad, is in Sanskrit language and is written in the Devanagari script. The associations of the motto thus transport, or are expected to transport Indians to their glorious past of two thousand five hundred years ago. Annadurai's action has destroyed the national motto as a national symbol which it has been such [sic] for the last seventeen years.

Note how Annadurai and his Tamil ilk are excluded from this special journey to India's ‘glorious' past. The non-Brahman, non-Aryan claim to nationhood cannot but be counterfeit, and in some senses a betrayal of the 'genuine' claimants. A similar rhetoric informs Ghurye's critique of the DMK government's success in transforming parts of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 by granting legitimacy to 'Self-Respect' or ‘Reform' marriages. As is well known in dalit studies, the Self-Respect Movement initiated by Periyar in Tamil Nadu has been among the most politically charged dalit liberation movements of modern India. Ghurye interprets the DMK government's action as inimical not only to Hindu morality but also to Indian nationhood:

Such conditions as of [sic] avoidance of certain relationship between the spouses considered to be part and parcel of the moral code of a people would evidently be difficult of being observed [sic]. Restriction of bigamy, an advance in morals and marital happiness, is of course non-existent. The sentiment of Hindu India as a whole is flouted and the right of any successful political party to change the Indian law of marriage for its own State of domination is asserted.

Ghurye's writing, in its critique of lower-caste militancy and its assumption of the Hindu Brahmanic essence of the Indian nation, can be situated in the cusp of two dominant narratives of Indian nationalism that are hegemonic to this day. They are:

  • the secular, liberal democratic 'modern' discourse that attempts to focus on India's Unity and Oneness by seeing its cultural diversity in the image of many small streams that would eventually converge to form an awesome yet harmonious national torrent:
  • the discourse of Hindutva that categorically traces the genealogy of the new nation to its hoary Hindu past and that, in its more benign form, expects non-Hindus to 'fit in' and not claim any special benevolence from the State.
--End quote--

Disclaimer: some spelling mistakes may exist.

Body


I haven't seen Saawariya yet, don't think I will. But I have seen parts of the 'towel dropping song'. It's been described as the most 'homo-erotic' song of 'Bollywood,' by a few people in the media. Sure, the guy shows a lot of skin, but is "homo-erotic" the best way to describe it?
It can only come out of one of the following assumptions: women don't watch movies anymore; or women who scream "Hrithik, I love you" are impressed by his "acting skills"(!) and don't care for his curves, I mean, cuts; or women shaking their "stuff" isn't homo-erotic because there are no lesbians watching it.

adheppudi!


Was watching Nayagan to clip out a scene or two. Just realized: this kid goes to Bombay when he's around 10. He spends the rest of his life there. But he still cannot speak Hindi. It's not that he does not speak Hindi, he cannot. He actually has someone to translate stuff for him. ennangada dei?

Request


I'm looking for certain clips from certain movies. I was hoping to get it from friends and others who have the movies either in Divx or DVD formats (or high quality WMV etc). I'll be specific if you're interested in helping me. It basically involves editing some clips from the movies you have and uploading it to a public server like rapidshare. Each clip will be no longer than 10 seconds, so uploading should be relatively easy (unless you want to splice different ~10 second clips together before uploading). Of course, if you want to upload the entire scene (say 3-5 minutes), that's fine too. Finding the 'appropriate' clips themselves is probably the most time consuming part of the process.

Ex: I don't have Nayagan or Guna with me, I would very much like to have some scenes from those movies. If you have either, you can help me.

I need clips from half-decent to really good movies (you be the judge). I hope the scenes to be somewhat visually compelling even if it's for a very brief time. Either that or scenes that are popular in general.

No Smoking


The movie was alright. Probably a bit pretentious in that Kashyap even chose to do such a film, except for that there's little in the movie that is self-indulgent (or, again, pretentious) as claimed by Rajiv Masand and a few other "critics". He even went so far to call the movie "one of the worst of the year." Some "critic" he is. Interestingly, the scenes which seemed to impress him the most were the ones I found hackneyed. (Well, he is, after all, the one who gave 4/5 for 'Black Friday.' It showed how much he loves manipulative BS.)

Given the kind of dreams I have myself I have had little trouble 'enjoying' movies like this. I just love the screenplay. But again there is a scene that was self-indulgent: the last part where Kashyap is probably trying to say "huh, you thought you figured it out?" and you feel like going "well, I don't give a damn, really!"

Swivelling Layers (of condescension)


Part 1 - mp3

3': life's decisions
8': 'interactions' affect 'conviction'
10'-21': random narratives from school and college
24': facing your enemies (or friends?)
28': what's important?; 'micro' vs. 'macro' perspectives

Part 2 - mp3

2': the call center conflict
5': shifting positions; "proud to work in McDonald's"
9': choosing what makes you "happy"
13': the software pride
18': vacuous questions and stupid logic
22': the 'sexploiting' woman
26': personal goal
32': need of the hour: a hot cup of shut-the-fuck-up

The Moderate Hindu


The controversy surrounding the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project has finally brought the “Dravidian rationality” out of the closet. For decades MK’s views on Hinduism were confined to a largely apathetic population – the Tamil Hindus. But today’s coalition politics and power struggle in the centre has ensured that the core “Hindu-Nation” is exposed to his rhetoric. From a general observation one may come across some of the following being discussed in the mainstream media: profit/loss estimates of the project, ecological concerns, “Hindu sentiments” and, of course, Ram.

The BJP, who I once sympathised with, was looking exactly for this kind of an opportunity on account of a possible midterm election. It masqueraded itself, as usual, as the "moderate Hindu" whose sentiments were hurt by comments made by Karunanidhi. But there are, somewhat to my surprise, some "moderate Tamil-Hindus" who were enraged by his comments, or so they try to pretend. This crowd comprises mostly of young men in their early 20s who are on their way to joining the elite pack of half-baked, self-proclaimed critics of Tamil politics - mostly belonging to the upper castes. They have, for years, tried to sound clever and witty simply by pointing to the hypocrisy of Dravidian parties, especially MK and his minority politics.
One of the questions that appear regularly is "would he have the guts to say the same about prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ?" For many the question is a panacea for all anti-Hindu rhetoric and criticisms alike. But the question can only mean one of the two: either they have a problem with accepting them all as fictional characters -- at least to the extent their supernatural abilities are concerned -- or they agree that Ram is a creation of fiction and they want MK to take the next step (which he can clearly choose not to). To criticise him for not being so forthright about Islam or the Bible is only a deviation.

Note: in order to disengage the polemics around 'what Hinduism actually is', I shall propose that the word Hinduism used henceforth be understood as 'social Hinduism' -- one that exists as more than an abstract entity and provides a systemic structure that is identified as culture, tradition, ethos and even "Indian sentiment." One that is at the core of the caste system.

It doesn't take a sharp mind to see through the "rationality" propaganda of the Dravidian parties. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that underneath all the hypocrisy and sleazy politics there is some rationale in their criticisms. To question just the hypocrisy is to lose focus, quite deliberately, of the larger, critical issue: are you batting for casteist, sexist, oppressive mythical figures just because you're sick of minority politics?

Yes, "Hinduism is not even a religion"; "Hinduism has some of the most ancient, liberal, intellectual doctrines"; "Hinduism does not force anyone to do anything" and a list of other things that I myself had said several times before to cut it some, no, a lot of slack. But who was I bullshitting? Why should I turn a blind eye to all the social inequities that it has been directly responsible for? Whose face was I trying to save?
Majority of Hindus in India, I presume, are just as racist, just as homophobic, just as patriarchal, just as moralistic and just as reactionary as the Christian right wing of America and far worse in some cases. Only that "moderate Hindu's" attitudes don't emerge as often in mainstream media.

Rediff through Orkut, there's no scarcity of "moderate Hindus" who proclaim that the Ramayana happened a hundred thousand years ago and the Mahabharata a few thousand years later. Do they know how old the wheel is? The "moderate Hindu" appears to be more creationist than Christians and Muslims. For he/she believes that humans were not only "created" but with a divine, innate social, hierarchical position (how one attains the rank being immaterial at this juncture).
Even if you leave these issues aside, the ever prominent inhuman subjugation of "lower caste" people stares at you right in the face. The "moderate Hindu" is so oblivious to the atrocities committed in the name of caste, past and present, that his/her only defence is "Hindus never tried to convert non-Hindus." (Assumption: is it just a coincidence that most of these "moderate Hindus" either belong to the "upper castes" or never experienced casteism?)

The contemporary "moderate Hindu" is a right wing nationalist who has inundated himself/herself with essentialist notions. His/her shelter against minority/caste politics is not rationality but pseudo-intellectual jingoism.

It is unfortunate that the Indian voter has to choose between Italian bootlickers and "cultural" fascists. But it's even more unfortunate that this dilemma clouds his/her judgment on more socially relevant issues that are clearly disconnected from electoral politics.
----------------------------

Personal statement: My loathing for Islam and Christianity have come across several times, quite conspicuously, in my posts and podcasts -- it remains the same. However, the same cannot be said about my views on Hinduism: it's been more apologetic than I would have liked. It was probably due to the "clouding" in my judgment or simply a residual effect -- the fact that I shared the 'Hindu' identity till a year ago. At this point, I think, the distinction between 'social Hinduism' and "actual Hinduism" is more than irrelevant, for the former is what forms the social reality of the present (except, may be, in elite metaphysical and theological discussions). Keeping that in mind, I would like to state that I now loathe Hinduism just as much as, if not more than, the other religions.
It goes without saying that I have been, in the past, what I have censured in this post in several instances. One can see this either as a transition informed by literature and reflexivity or simply a recent systemic bias.

Toon Teaser 6: self destruction

The Flow


Sept 8, 8.05 PM EST: I tune into the channel that telecasts US Open Tennis - TSN - to watch my favourite woman tennis player Henin hit it for the title. There's Carole King singing "God bless America." I get a little irritated and switch to the Discovery Channel. I see the twin towers collapsing - it's the documentary 'What really happened inside the twin towers.' I switch back to TSN; she's still singing "God bless America." Yeah, sure!

I remember

It's been a year since Steve Irwin died.

NRI

Peopal who is leaved motherland is no under standed what CHAK DE INDIA movie is it is. Only peopal who is has DESHPREM and DESHABHIMAN can surestly and sincirestly preys doesing this movie it is. THANK YOU .JAI HIND.
INDIANS OUTSIDE INDIA IS NO INDIANS. PEOPALS WHO IS LEAVED INDIA FOR PARSONAL BENEFIT IS NO INDIAN.
N...........NOT
R...........REQUIRED
I...........INDIANS.
Source

V-three: Streets of Coimbatore

Comments


I had once said that the comments section in youtube is what made it so popular in its initial days. There's something that makes people say some of the stupidest things (a lot of my comments included). It wouldn't just be stupid, it would be totally uncalled for. I'll probably say more about it later.
Anyway, the following is one of the typical exchanges you'll find.

Comment: Wow this is awesome!!! what programm do you need 2 make flash animation videos??

Reply: you need flash to make flash animation, noob

Vetti Post - 7


About 'Unnale Unnale:' I stopped watching the movie after some of 'those' scenes in the first 20 minutes. But one of my friends strongly recommended that I watch the whole movie, and I did. It wasn't too bad. The movie got very light towards the end. They stepped back from preaching sitcom clichés for sometime. And the ending is quite light and "new" to Tamil mainstream movies. So while I'm not surprised that this movie did well, I don't feel all that bad either. Actually, I would place it above Mozhi. This junk food's got way less calories and fat than Mozhi.
Even though the direct translation of 'American situations' is irritating on its own, it's a good cultural virus. While it lacks originality as an art form and reinforces age old gender stereotypes (and some new ones for TN) it slowly moulds the collective consciousness of scores of young people--albeit with a good dose of pretentiousness--into normalizing dating, boyfriend-girlfriend relationships and probably sex. It's the kind of movie that Ramadoss cannot protest against yet does exactly what he's supposedly opposed to. It slowly usurps "traditional" values(?) and puts in place a corporatized version of "love and affection." It is unrealistic for most of our social classes, but it will eventually percolate there as well.
If it's unclear as to what I prefer, I would always choose, as much as I hate it, the latter. Given our societal make up, I think the old stereotypes are far too dangerous in comparison with the ones highlighted in the movie.

PS. I know, it's another post based on a movie. This time it got worse: it's extension of a comment.

Discovery

You know why you suck it when you cut your finger and you're bleeding? Because if you don't, the blood drips all over your favourite white shirt and ruins it for good.

V-two: Police in Palani

idhellam eppudi mudiyudhu?


About my 'Roast of Sivaji', someone has the following to say.
Why don't you look at some of their talents, thoughts, creativity and so. At least they have the talent to fool you, destroy your expectation, your dream... And you publically admit saying that you are a fool and you have been fooled, cheated. Don't you feel ashamed to share them in your podcast. They know how to make you fool but what do you know? Your podcasts show that you can be a fool, joker?
Source

V-one

Vetti post - 6


For all the hype that surrounded the movie 'Puthiya Vaarpugal' it turned out to be a typical Bharathiraja's pseudo-revolutionary crap. I would have watched about an hour of the movie in all. Gave me a bad headache already. But it does seem like a trend-setter of sorts. The movie themes that dominated most part of the 80s may well have been inspired by this one. The movie hints a rape right from the beginning by building a lecherous 'oor periyavar's character(?). That in itself put me in a very uncomfortable position, because I guessed that a good part of the movie will then be spent on framing someone for the rape. Then it finally happens -- rape, murder and the protagonist is wrongly accused too. But it doesn't end there. It cannot. There is another attempt to rape in the climax. But this time the murder is redemptive (It better be, it's the climax). In between, there's juvenile 'rural romance' and sprinkling of sequences that assert "village mores". Of course, there's also a moral statement made in the end of the movie. I bought the DVD hoping that it will be worthwhile for others apart from if I released it as a torrent. But no. Well, at least now I know what the movie is. Rs. 30 for the DVD is worth that.

Songs: The songs were so bloody popular that I wondered how I missed the movie. May be I saw it in TV when I was too young and slept half way or something.

Aside: There's a long cross-dressed 'karakaatam' sequence which plays for roughly 8 minutes. The way it was played out and the apparent intention were both reminiscent of the one in 'Paruthi Veeran'.

Roast of Sivaji


I saw the movie in a theatre. Was one of the worst 3 hours of my life. (Yes, it was worse than the time I felt like my eyes were gouged and buried in sand--because I had looked directly in welding sparks for too long--and I could feel the sand in my gouged eyes.)
download

Note 1: The author of this podcast claims to know everything and is a 'periya vengayam' who does not respect anyone who liked this movie. He's also scared of getting beaten by wimps who leave anonymous comments. So his address will not be revealed here.

Note 2: If you think this podcast is done to attract comments, do yourself a favour and don't leave any. Comments: If I don't like it or feel the need to reply but don't feel like because it's too immature or too smart for me to handle, I'll delete it.

Let me, please


I'm going to Madras after quite sometime, and I can imagine how much I'm going to hate it when I have to sit at home. The only time Madras doesn't suck is when you are out in the streets -- being too busy to notice the hot, moist, sticky thing that's supposed to be air. And it's always been like this. There have been times when I would get off the train in Kaatpadi and turn back to Bangalore because it would get stickier as the train got closer and closer to Madras. It's not "vellakara aatam" or "veli naatu mogam."
So please, let me whine and complain. Let me act it out. Don't call me pretentious for feeling uncomfortable in this damn place.

Sivaji vaayila mannangatti

Download
Sivaji's trailer gave out everything the movie makers were trying to keep in secret for a long time. Of course, it doesn't include the fact that 'Shankar + Rajini = masala trash' was always known - not many would have guessed otherwise. It's just that more people feel shameless enough to openly admit that they are looking forward to watching Rajini's masala than Vijay or Ajith's.

Rajini is almost like religion: anything goes if he does it. Because he's been doing it for a long time, with people's apparent approval. But I, for what it's worth, will say what I feel: It's disgusting, it's irritating and it's high time idiots stopped pretending like he's got an aura. My interest in this movie is just like my interest in religion -- they both follow an inexplicable pattern of idiotic following, almost unquestioned.

Anyway, I saw the trailer and I thought of predicting how the plot is going to unravel. That's what I've done in this podcast (partly). Then there's some Rajini bashing in the end (how about that for a "commercial" podcast?).

Rajini Says


"Ritch is getting ritcher, poovar is getting poovarur"

Same side goal


Anchor: We have the CBSE exams topper Divya who scored 493 out of 500 with us. Congratulations Divya, you've got 98.6 percent just 7 short of maxing it up. Not to undermine your stupendous achievement, Divya, but do you think that academic performance is the best way to measure one's intelligence?

Divya: Yeah!

Source

Jingle

TV ads are almost nothing without music - most of them are. But sometimes the jingle is so catchy that it completely blinds the images.

Tamil Media: a reality check


The podcast is quite long (36 minutes), so I'll give a rough outline of what I've spoken about.



3': How we address celebrities in TV (Kamal sir, Rajini sir etc.)
5': Lollu Sabha. A historical moment - Pokkiri's parody - Bakery.
12': "Experts" in TV
15': Nayyandi durbar, Ari Giri assembly
17': Standup comedy in Tamil TV channels (Kalakka povadhu yaaru etc.)
23': Internet's influence on mainstream media
26': Lack of Tamil social commentary in audio-visual formats in the internet.
30': Mainstream hangover in non-mainstream mediums.
34': Interviews in Kumudam.com

Aside: Lollu Sabha issued an apology the week after 'Bakery' was aired. But the sentences were structured in a way that it was obvious that they were being sarcastic about the apology. It's good to see that these people not only have the guts do such parodies but the wit to deal with potentially serious repurcussions.

Caller ID

I: hi, this is suresh. I just got call from this number
other side (OS): oh yeah, I had got a call from your number
I: oh really? this is weird. I never called this number
OS: I know, but it's ok, not a problem
I: there must have been some kind of confusion, I just got home
OS: not a problem, take care
I: you too, bye

Alternative Lifestyles


The BBC has been running a Climate Watch series the past month. It’s been one of the few channels that have taken climate change as an apolitical issue that needs to be covered comprehensively at this point of time. For the most part, it has shown a sincere concern in what it is trying to convey. There is a bit of the colonial condescension here and there, but it is honest journalism – academic, in-depth and detailed.

It has had a report or more from all the most important corners of the world--the ones who are at both ends of climate change. In each report you can hear phrases like “at least a few million people will be left homeless”, “several thousands of people have been displaced”, “famines of this kind are likely to be responsible for at least a million people’s death every year.” People, people and more people.

Without having to go into details, it’s safe to say that increase in population is not helping any of the problems we are facing; climate change not being the least of them. But hardly do you come across anyone making a suggestion about that. Sure, people talk about birth control just like they have been for over fifty years, but not in the context of climate change. At least, it’s not a popular discussion point yet.

I really wonder what they have in their mind when right-wing intellectuals in India patronize ‘developed’ countries like Norway and Sweden for having low fertility rates. That their liberal, rather individualistic, lifestyle has landed them in such misery that we should feel ‘blessed’ to have our culture? A culture that makes procreation—obviously within marriage—and bearing children the prime responsibilities, or duties if you will, of every human being? “Do your share, have at least one child” is the subliminal message that is not so subliminally spread in everything that constructs social reality, in India and most of ‘less industrialized’ world. Then there’s the economically charged version of the same kind of flaunting--“we are one billion consumers”, “we are one billion strong labour force”, “it’s a billion people market”--subverting a very obviously worrisome number into something that we ought to feel excited about. Some are actually happy that we’ll surpass the Chinese in the next decade.

Coming back to the BBC Climate Watch series, they had an interesting documentary last week titled ‘Ethical Man.’ It’s basically about an average white, white collar Englishman with a wife and two children trying to adapt his life for changing times, for a better, lesser carbon emitting life. It’s a documentary meant to suggest an alternative lifestyle. One that is out of the current norm – without a car, without centralized heating, and reduced air travel. The concept is not so unique though. It’s something that many of the ‘environmentally conscious’ people have been campaigning for. Of course there are those who take the side simply because it makes better economic sense.

Here’s the connect: isn’t it high time that documentaries, soap operas, movies and other popular media start suggesting more alternative lifestyles? If they did I would probably not have to face a fellow Indian who thinks that I’m being selfish because I said I’m never going to have any children. I’m selfish for not having children? Really, what kind of a world is he envisioning? Whatever it is, I’m sure these 'reality constructors' had a big role in it.

Let’s bring in the philosophical side of the debate, just to the extent that it’s relevant to the main discussion. Most people who don’t plan to have kids don’t need a special recognition or claim that they are sacrificing their lives in order to save the world. They’ll be happy, I suppose, as long as they are not be pitied, ridiculed or patronized. There are several reasons ranging from conventional 'selfishness' that guides them to avoid the bullshit that children can bring, to having infertile spermatozoa. Given that there’s no macro goal or purpose for our existence in this world, at least to the rational mind, there’s no particular reason to believe that one of them is better than the other. Or worse than the other lifestyle altogether--one with children and 'stable family'.

I was evangelizing the ‘alternative lifestyle’ to one of my cousins and he had an interesting point. He said that he knows only two old unmarried men from the entire community and both of them had to resort to some ‘ashram’ type life before they could be left undisturbed. He said it would be practically impossible to live the regular life--going to work every day, hanging out with friends and relatives, watching TV and movies (let’s leave the sex part aside for now)--in our society without getting married. Not after you’ve crossed thirty.
He’s right. In India, every TV channel, every magazine column offers advice on managing your family or your relationships. There’s hardly any mention of the desirability of having a family without any children or being single for that matter. Mornings in Sun TV start with Sugi Sivam offering advice on doing random things citing random stories. All that with unwavering authority; doing his part to perpetuate the same lifestyle whose only uncontested merit (if you can call it that) is that it’s been around for a very long time. But these are strong forces. Omnipresent and overbearing. They build yardsticks for you to measure yourself--your 'progress', your status etc. So it takes quite a bit of training, reflexive deconstruction if I may, for a 40 year old Indian bachelor to not envy a 'happy family' with children. Or simply, disconnect from one's cohort in this regard.

As someone who trusts positivist knowledge for several things, I have little hope that the ‘alternative lifestyle’ will be embraced even by a tiny minority, in this century. Because, I don’t think the ‘forces’ are going to change their ways anytime soon. We may have more “ethical men” who cut down on their carbon emissions. We may develop better technologies that bring down green house gases. But the climate is going to worsen. Wars are going to be fought over water. Population growth is going to go on as predicted.
At least the ‘alternative lifestyle’ will ensure that there will be fewer, however marginal, people to witness all that.

Disclaimer: I have left a few points out because of the post’s length. I hope they would find a mention in the comments. Some of the references are specific to the South-Asian context.



















Either stand straight or fall flat

Left hand: WTF?


I've been proctoring exams the past few days (I know, some irony!). I just noticed that at least 10-15% of the students in each exam were left-handed. It reminded me of an incident that happened in Dindigul when I was 11.
We would go to 'tuition' classes every evening and one of those times my eyes landed on the dough that was being prepared for 'brottas' (adhan pa, parotta). The 'master' was working the dough with both his hands, flavoring it with his sweat and other bodily fluids (hopefully just sweat). Yeah, this is one of those little hotels where they do everything out in the open -- mostly under a 'puilya maram' -- proudly putting their hygiene for public display. That scene triggered a craving in me and I couldn't wait for the tuition get over. When we were returning I stopped by the hotel and approached the master right in front,
Master: ennapa venum? (with a stern tone)
I: annei parotta sooda irukka?
Master: ellam ippo potadhu dhan
I look at the basin in which they're piled up--all wet and dead. I touch one of them just to make sure if it's even moderately hot. Suddenly I hear a loud voice that throws me off balance. It's the master.
He yells, "adhan sooda irukku'nu solren illa, appuram enna mayithukku nottangaila notti paakra? ippo adha ungoppana dhinban?"
I: !!!! --- ****?

Note: For "tube lights" who didn't get it - 'nottangai' is the offensive expression for idadhukai, oranttangai, peechangai etc. He was angry that I polluted that parotta by touching it with my left hand and now no one else would eat it.

Tamil TV

This one was a decent show.

Try parts 2 and 3 as well. It's pretty good.

The missing ‘rush': the narrative


It’s been close to 2 years since I left India – the same time it has been since I experienced genuine adrenaline rush. You know, the one that gets your heart so hot that you can feel it outside (no, I’m not being metaphorical). I’ve been addicted to that ‘rush’ as far as I could remember. As with most Indian children, there were very few means that I could exploit when I was very young. The most common was to ride your cycle fast down a slope with your hands in the air. Sometimes make turns too. Of course, the occasional accidents do scare you enough to stop doing it for a while. That’s the point though – the looming sense of danger is what gives you that rush.

As I grew up, more avenues were exposed. I lived in a relatively untamed environment. Fish was a major part of our lives then. And I imagine this craze with “kalar meen” was shared by children from other parts of TN as well (and probably, all of India). Some were so crazy that they wouldn’t care if it was a tadpole. But people like me, who wouldn’t settle unless it’s the real-2 inch long-thing, would stretch our permitted limits. Each class had its share of renegades who didn’t bother their teacher’s warning about what might happen if anyone is caught “fishing” in the “kenaru” near the school. Dindigul had several little pools and wells where you could “fish.” They were the unforgiving, ‘taken several lives’ kind of water sources – the ideal spots for us little wannabe ‘heroes’ to test our nerves. Some wells were so treacherous that you wouldn’t know difference between day and night once you’re in it. The neatly wound snake skins wouldn’t make the place any less scary. Not to mention, that’s where we usually learn swimming; with some ‘adult’ supervision, of course.

Then we moved to Madras. For a kid from Dindigul--not even Ooty, Mettupalayam or some exotic place like that--Madras seemed so lame. Only thing you can do is play underarm cricket in your street or pedal all the way to IDPL to have the ball lost in some bush. Oh yeah, you can also get on the terrace and spend all your money in some ‘kaathadi’ and watch it bite the dust because of a “deal.” But I can’t think of anything that could have replaced the things I had mentioned I did when I was in Dindigul. The times I almost drowned in the beach come somewhat close.

But it all changed when I got my hands on my father’s 100cc motorbike – I was 15 then. It provided a much needed upgrade to the stale TVS 50 I was riding around once in a while. For once I could hit speeds as high as 100 Km/h. As many teenagers, I didn’t care about holding a license. I didn’t till I was 21. But I took his bike to almost every corner of the city. The fact that I didn’t have a license made those rides a little more adventurous – helped that rush a bit more.

It got better during my college days. It was the time when we had group rides to Pondicherry, New Year nights to Besant Nagar and all the clichéd “adventures” most young men in Madras are known to go through. These occasions usually give you the opportunity to experiment with other bikes. But I always had a big fetish for Yamaha RX 100. I think all bike enthusiasts would agree that it’s the ultimate thrill machine for Indian cities.

I got my lessons directly from my cousins who had mastered the art of crowd control to crazy stunts with the bike. I got to own one myself when I was 21 – just when I got my license. The next two years during which I got to ride it, mostly in Bangalore, had some of the best moments of my life. I haven’t taken any drugs so far, but I think that’s how it feels to be high. When you are rushing through fellow motorists – like you’re travelling in a Star Trek space cruiser with the rocks and other objects disappearing in nanoseconds – your mind operates in a subliminal level. Only then would you be able to not worry about all the lives you put in danger. The top speed of my Yamaha was 120 Km/h 1.

In all my years of bike-riding I’ve had quite a few accidents. Most of the damage done to myself and to my bike(s). Nothing fatal though. To be honest, each accident would slow me down quite considerably. It will take at least a few weeks before I can go above 80 Km/h without getting all shaky and anxious. As if there’s a dog or a bitch waiting just to jump in (pun intended). This is what differentiates bike riding from most other forms of adventure – you can never get used to getting hurt, at least not thoroughly. You get methodical and systematic about how you fall, how you roll and even how you heal. But nothing that will quite make you feel like it’s ‘routine.’ Of course, I’m talking about myself here. I’m sure there are several people who can do exactly that – get used to getting hurt with no residual effects.

Driving, I think, is slightly different. When you’re driving, the whole “I might die” effect isn’t as obvious as it is when you’re on a bike. It’s mostly the ‘got to get home without any scratches or dents’ urge that gives you that rush. And driving is slightly more comprehensive in its experience. Good music, good company, reasonable comfort plus the rush - they are mutually elevating.

Ever since I got here, I’ve driven a few times. That’s about all the “rush” I’ve gotten. Even the fairy ‘ride’ in Niagara sucked. I’ve missed the daily dose for a very long time and it’s taking its toll on me. I’ll write about it from a pseudo sociological perspective in the next post. As of now, I’m just looking forward to my trip to Madras and hopefully get a half-decent second hand car when I return.
_____________
1The bike was tuned for high speed. It usually doesn’t exceed 115 Km/h, but it was a long sloping road and I weighed just 54 kilos (still do).

adappavigala

Amar Singh is an Indian politician from the state of Uttar Pradesh.
...
He is infamous for his weakness for women, especially top bollywood actresses. He has affairs with Jaya Bachchan, Jayaprada, Hema Malini, Jayalalitha, etc.
Source

I hate these people, kind of


Although I don't have the luxury (ability) to sit and write fresh posts as of now, I do while away doing other random things. But this post is not only an empty filler - my last few posts - it's also meant to give a brief idea about where I stand about certain movies and movie makers that I may not be able to discuss in detail anytime in the future. This is another casual conversation with a very good friend. It wasn't supposed to be intellectually stimulating or inquisitive or whatever. I think we were in the mood to bash a few people and that's we did. Nevertheless, a lot of it is academically grounded and I stand by all of what I've said. Only that I may not engage in a detailed discussion in the comments section to defend everything - mostly because it's time consuming (and yeah, "subjective"). Rest is self-explanatory.

Edit: The exchange has been removed. I didn't ask my friend before I published the conversation and I think that was a terrible mistake on my part. To an extent makes me an untrustworthy person and an asshole. For that and just that, I sincerely apologize to my friend and to my 'better side' that I didn't care to respect when I published it. Thanks.

Note: An academic critique of a movie is quite different from conventional ones, try this one to get a rough idea. From the article,
Roja is not Mani Ratnam’s best film. It is not his only film that deals with politics, it is not the only one that won many state and national awards and is not the only one that is controversial. It is as flawed and fulfilling as many of Ratnam’s other, greater, better films. It is as ambiguous and paradoxical and as simplistic and superficial as his other classics. Yet, it is his most successful film till date and his only true all- India success...It can take on many forms, champion many causes, some more sinister than the others and can still be over-analysed in many an essay, this one included.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to draw comments or to show what's supposedly a characteristic of this blog - put down "popular figures" just for the heck of it. But you're welcome to reject this disclaimer. The exchange has been edited spatially to fit the margins better

adhu seri


















Source: Thuglak - 09/04/07 cover page

Sexual innuendos: WTF?


This is one of those excited/good natured wtf moments. I was watching 'Aan Paavam' after a long time. I couldn't believe the sexual innuendos I had missed earlier. Here's one for sample (conversation between a woman and her husband in hurry to leave for a "big function")

Man: enna pannikittu irukka? seekram kelambu
Woman: kolandhaikku paal kudukkanumnga
Man: adha dhan naan kudichtanla!
Woman: adhilleenga, naan butti paala sonnen

Don't believe me? Here's the movie - the link will take you the exact scene. I think this movie will easily qualify for one of the top 30 comedies of Tamil cinema*. It can be called the Tamil village version of the Clerks series. Pandya Rajan's 'Oora Therinjukitten' also attained a cult status among certain sections of the audience - late 70s and early 80s born - but the movie had a weird mix of tracks. Cheesy sentiments, slapstick styles lifted from 'Project A' etc., and some genuine sequences. They didn't gel together all that well. It had some memorable dialogues though - "rendaayiram, naalayiram...bimbilikkibilikki(?)" was the most catchy. That's what makes 'Aan Paavam' more special. It has its share of tragic moments and cheap sentiments, but nothing that will derail the comedic flow of the movie. One of the first few movies to bring the comedic sense of the rustics.
I've enjoyed almost all his movies in the 80s, especially 'Kadhaa Nayagan', 'Vaai Koluppu' and 'Nethi Adi'. He is someone who's definitely worth doing a podcast on (just saying, it's quite unlikely I'll do it anytime soon).

Watch out: Rajini be damned

* - If I put that list together.

adhu matter!

Narcissist alert


I'm so unlucky. I'm so weird. I'm so blessed. It was all my fault. This kind of shit happens to me all the time. It was my destiny. I'm so lucky. It was my fate. I'm such a freak. It was like I was meant to do this. I must have been the happiest person ever. There is not an idiot worse than me. I'm such a masochist. This should not happen to anyone else. For some reason I always endup having the worst job. I'm totally jobless. I hate myself.

PS. I don't use all of the above, but I do use some. I don't know if that irritates others, but when others say any of it they practically peel my skin. I won't reveal it when you do, but just know. How do I feel when I use one of the 'some'? Well, I hate myself.

Mozhi - meh!


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An Orkut scrap: now that india has lost, the presence of "god" has come under heavy doubt

Reply: now that india has lost, the effect of money has come under heavy doubt

Toon Teaser 5: Life

Toon Teaser 4: It's not my problem

Bangladesh beat India. naan appove sonnen!

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi - one of the best Indian movies that I've seen in the last 12 months

People, products, whatever man.

This is a conversation that a very good friend and I had. It was based on another conversation and the exchange below is quite self-explanatory.*

I didn't ask my friend before I published the conversation and I think that was a terrible mistake on my part. To an extent makes me an untrustworthy person and an asshole. For that and just that, I sincerely apologize to my friend and to my 'better side' that I didn't care to respect when I published it. Thanks.

The topics, argumental points rather, in the exchange above have been discussed extensively in feminist literature. In fact, it's been the topic for several daytime talk shows in the US. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to ponder over it once in a while with new and "absurd" perspectives. Run through the follwing pages to have a rough idea - ref 1; ref 2; ref 3; ref 4.

* - The exchange has been edited spatially to fit the margins better

Random quote

The cultural guardians would sleep unconcerned if people perished in tsunami, if floods hit the State, even if news of rape and torture occupied the front page every day. They would watch Tamil films with songs full of double entendre, they would gush if a top is rolled on the heroine's stomach or an omelette fried on it. But the moment a woman mentions the body, all hell would break loose and the sleeping Kumbakarnas would wake up with a roar to save culture from getting corrupted by women. And that is what women are seen as — as those, who, if not guided properly, would ruin the great Tamil culture. Tamil men have to constantly pull women back from going astray and whatever women do is seen as a gesture of going astray, whether it is writing poetry or giving interviews.
Source

Cricket: ennavo ponga


Before you think, "hmm, Indian bowling seems to have improved," please see the wickets that fell this morning. How many do you think are wicket-taking balls? 1? 2?

Paruthi Veeran varuthi eduthan!


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Random quote

While Tabu was a big hit with the cameras, Zuleikha Robinson got even bigger attention with her cleavage-friendly dress.
Source

Random quote

Anger is not hostility, aggression nor violence. It is a human emotion. For centuries anger was considered a sin, a weakness and a madness to be avoided or contained. But anger is a signal that something is wrong. Several common themes emerged. These include injustices, denied rights, societal devaluation, abuse, harassment and dismissal
...
A group of lesbian and bisexual women, van Daalen-Smith's study found, coped with a double challenge – hiding their sexual orientation and conforming to feminine ideals. In displacing their anger, many were found to over-eat, overachieve academically, or use humour and wisecracks instead of confronting their feelings. Depression was a significant finding. Another group of visible minorities from South Asia, Korea, Tibet and the West Indies felt unable to overtly express frustration at cultural limits placed on them.
Source

Only two?


Why is it always Hindi vs. Tamil, where are the rest of the idiots?
Hey dude, at least people in Bollywood movies dont look like fucking idiots. People in tamil movies where the gayest ass clothes you could posibly think of. Tamil nadu makes india look bad.
...
The only language [Tamil] in india that doesn't sound gay. less gay than i.e. hindi, punjabi, bengali, gujarati and other north indian language which are know to be extremely gay, and those speakers tend to speak like women.
...
It is a beautiful language [Tamil], and does sound delightfully gay in an artistic silk and chiffon way!
karumam da sami! But I'm so proud.

Fashion in Iran: WTF?

Tamil pride: cherry picking


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How to enter politics in India


It's unfortunate that the frequency of 'vetti posts' has increased in this blog. But given my academic commitments and looming sense of guilt I just don't seem to have anything new and worthwhile to say.
This post is a direct lift of what I posted in a forum a couple of years ago. Someone had asked what's the best and practical method to become an MLA in India. As usual, there were some bland, "man! it's bloody clichéd" responses that said "murder at least 5 people" etc. But the truth is most of the current politicians actually have impressive credentials. No, seriously. So I though I'll post an alternative not-so-popularly-known method. It's bland in its own way, but, whatever.

Here's a practical and decent way to become an MLA or MP (takes reasonably long time and vision).
  • Read extensively on history, political science and few areas of sociology and general economics.
  • It's better if you can improve your language skills (both in English and Tamil or the corresponding regional language).
  • Establish yourself as a scholar in some field (preferably in one of the 4 areas above)
  • Use platforms such as college symposiums, book releases, religious and caste meetings and even weddings. Impress the audience with your intellect or what sounds to be intellectual prima facie (don't take controversial stands even if that's the right thing to do).
  • Occasional jingoism and display of cultural pride won't hurt either (Hindu culture, Tamil culture, your caste's culture, youth culture, student culture, Indian culture - whichever works in that situation)
  • Criticize only those who are potential victims (meaning, many people are likely to criticize him/her along with you - to gather mass consensus)
  • Praise even the tiniest of charities done by local industrialists. Exaggerate it and project it as an inherent quality for whatever caste they belong to.
If you start doing these things when you are around 30 you'll have some recognition by the time you are around 36. Because of your incessant praise, some industrialists will come forward to nominate you for candidacy (in whichever party you're targeting), increasing your chance to contest.

There's another thing to keep in mind: you have to analyse which party has least opposition in your constituency in that term. Ex: There's no point in pleasing an industrialist from DMK or criticising JJ when you know that DMK doesn't stand a chance in your constituency. For even if you get the chance to contest you'll end up losing anyway. So you have to strategize it right from the beginning.

To explain in detail: TN is now voting anti-incumbent like Kerala, regardless of how good/bad the ruling government is. I'm 24 now, by the time I enter politics, ADMK is likely to be the ruling party (Around 2010) - I'll be aiming for candidacy in 2016 assembly election or 2019's legislative election. DMK faces an uncertain future after MK's demise. If BJP can pull itself together before the next election it might become a stronger party on a national level (and hence improve its bargaining worth in TN). So even if I enter the political spectrum (a career meant to influence politics) I'll stay away from any party affiliation until I can judge the arithmetic reasonably well. Once I can do that, affiliation will follow suit. After affiliation you follow the steps that I had mentioned above.

If you have to win in politics you have to either gather overwhelming support of the capitalists (who are willing to invest in you with hopes of reaping it back) or gather mass support (proletariat backing). Only these two things sell in politics.

Only way to create mass support is to pander to their base instincts and idiosyncrasies such as casteist pride, cultural pride, linguistic pride and all sorts of ego boosters (or extra bonus and right to strike like the DMK did). Crowds "cannot handle the truth" unless it comes from a person of power, so you have to let your principles and morals take back-seat till you get to power.

As for pleasing the industrialists/landlords/property-owners, or the rich folk in general, you have to assure monetary benefits. As with people, even money can be tackled easily if you have power. Meaning, you need not get them contracts or push their files exactly as you promised. Now that you’re in power you have some immunity, you don’t need them anymore. Well, you do, but not so much. Just be a good leader, provide the people with visibly good governance and your support base can be shifted smoothly.

Remember, no principle is good if it cannot do good to anybody. As for politics, the only good principle is the principle that assures you victory.

There are simple methods to do the right thing and not take the blame (yes, it’s ironic). For example: You can propose a bill in favour of 69% reservation for OBCs in private companies. Talk about it in length (knowing that it's total nonsense and you're going to lose the case in the court). Once the case is lost blame the judicial system. Now, even though you did nothing for the OBCs you can lure the majority of the electorate into believing that you did something (Sounds familiar? Yes, that's what the Andhra CM did with Muslims).

For me, especially in politics, the ends justify the means and the larger good is what counts.

Of course, all this will only increase the probability of you being elected, nothing’s assured. But it’s still a very practical and adaptable method. Or You can try the unpopular yet working version of becoming a grass roots politician who starts from ‘Panchayat Board President’ and proceed from there. Or get into civil service and take the diplomatic route.

Roast of Pokkiri

Anyway!


This video is from one of my favourite comedies, Chasing Amy. 3'10" of this video reminds me of a guy who made a post recently. Like he pulled it all out of his ass. The conversation is kind of clichéd even for 97. This is 2007, man...anyway!

Marital status: WTF?


I was collecting some data for my work and I ran into a very disturbing and puzzling statistic. Data in this table state that 2,009,502 children, between the ages 10 and 14, are "married."

I don't know if I should put married in quotes. Well, that's the point in question too. When the legal age for marriage is 18, how do these children get a "married" status under the government's census? We are not interested in the criteria set by government in concluding what accounts for a marriage, for the legal age limit makes them all void.

Let's keep aside the questions like, how come pedophilia is almost an organized "business" in cities like Bombay and Calcutta? The government can always pretend like they don't know what we are talking about. We all know child marriages are common in India. There's no surprise there. But this is government authorized data. What are they trying to tell us? That we should be happy that at least there is zero married persons under the age 9?
As if that's not enough, here's another case. It's somewhat old, but the issue is still alive.
Fatima says: "Muslim personal law says you can marry at 12, so I didn't see a problem with it. There are lots of bad things in society these days, so the sooner a girl gets married, the better."
adhu seri! Have a look at this and this.

Microsoft: the same thing?


A lot of us have no qualms in “hating” Microsoft. Even those who never paid a penny for any of their products, like myself, included. Common reasons range from its dubious ‘creative history’ to its product pricing (BSOD in the past). I haven’t had any serious problems with my version of XP for over 19 months – the longest I’ve ever had an OS installation without any anti-virus s/w. It may have to do with the fact that I’ve significantly cut down on the ‘technical tweaks’ that I try since the time I switched fields. Of course, one of my best friends, Badri, would never take this as a reason to accord them with new respect. He started using Linux in 99. So you can imagine his opinion about MS. Technical inadequacies of MS products in contrast with open-source stuff like Linux is worth writing pages and people do it all the time. I neither have the expertise nor the passion to do it here.

In a recent conversation, one of my friends said that her friend quit his job with MS because of some “anti-corporate enlightenment.” I’ve read several articles that have detailed unethical practices of MS, but I still thought his move wasn't well thought out. Yesterday another friend of mine, from political science, shared the image below with me.I usually avoid talking about economic models because I believe they are structures that are beyond individual repair. Any contribution by someone like me would take a significantly long time to have any measurable effect in anyone’s life. And obviously, my knowledge on economic models is fairly limited. When “experts” can’t agree on what’s feasible why should I expose my ignorance? But as always, I am interested on the measurable effects of corporatization. By measurable I mean things that are beyond subjectivities – war, inflation, unemployment etc. I’ve always wondered if MS can be painted along with the other corporations that several leftists have learnt to hate. I’m not sure. I’ll just paste the exchange we had after I saw the image.

Suresh: I don't know if I would have had windows in the same list. I mean, Microsoft
Friend: why not?
Suresh: after all, they have the largest charitable foundation
Suresh: I think he's one of the very few corporates who's actually "giving back"
Suresh: maybe not as much as he can, but he is
Suresh: he doesn't kill chicken or exploit slum dwellers of Bangladesh (well, if you call outsourcing s/w jobs to India as exploitation, then yeah)

Friend: i know all about their "charity"
Friend: see, i have a problem with that framework
Friend: and outsourcing is exploitation
Friend: i mean, it's more complicated than just good corporation, bad corporation
Suresh: well, basically all kinds of profit making is exploitation, isn't it?

Friend: because so much of this is about power structures
Friend: the idea of capitalist profit is based on exploitation, yes
Friend: cheap labour and so on
Friend: creating needs
Friend: i mean, that's what capitalism is all about
Suresh: but I think one needs to be nuanced in his/her approach. They cannot equate Coke and McD with MS purely on the basis of their capitalist business model
Friend: no you can't
Friend: but you can talk about complicity

Friend: the idea that these businesses are complicit in a certain kind of nationalist model
Friend: or promoting certain nationalist goals and doing nothing to STOP their militaristic goals
Friend: i mean, their obviously genocidal goals
Friend: where is responsibility
Friend: so it's an issue of complicity
Friend: well, when it comes to that it's every american
Friend: but their tax dollars are significantly smaller than the ones that these people give america/israel

Friend: anyway
Suresh: yeah, never mind

Her comments were centered around the Israel-Palestine conflict the image represents. So I didn't want to point to the obvious shortcomings of her arguments (which I presume she knows too). I just wanted to hear her out. But I'll say it here. What do you expect them to do? Refuse to sell OS to government organizations? Refuse to pay taxes? Provide food and shelter to those who are willing to protest everyday on the street?
I'm not going to give CNN and others the same treatment. Of course not. They are criminals who consciously construct a contrived reality, but MS?

PS. I didn't edit the actual exchange. Just spaced them in a way it's easier to read.

vetti post-4


I tried writing in big letters in plain white paper with a marker pen. When I finished it I realized something: the language teachers were right, I can't write anything intellgible by an average person.

adhu seri!


From an Orkut forum,
Just a few weeks ago, something really bad happened here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A tamil couple, who had recently flown to US, on deputation, was arrested on charges on child-abuse. Looks like the kid was known to be mischievous and had got lot of warnings in school (hearsay). One night, the parents allegedly were trying to discipline him and in the act were threatening to burn him with spoon (soodu podradhu). By accident, he came in contact with the spoon and had a small burn. The next day, when his teacher asked about the wound, he has said something which caused the teacher to call police. The parents were arrested and now the case is in court.
...
The American children are given protection from their own parents, which leaves parents with no strict way to discipline them. Result: the American children grow up indisciplined, not understanding cultures and finally most of them go waste.
ROFL@ the actual incident. enda dei? @ 'waste' comment

Random quote


If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.
Source

Popularity: conflict of interest


Recently I got a mail from one my podcast listeners and we were discussing this article. It's an exchange that happened over a few emails. Since he wasn't too comfortable with I publishing his side of the conversation, I publish parts of mine. I hope it still makes sense.
Whenever I talk to some of my politically active friends here, a question would pop out occassionally: why are almost all political critiques we get to see in mainstream media partisan? The immediate answer would be, “corporation!” “Corporation is the root all existing malice,” we would complain. And it is true to a great extent.

But ironically, it’s worse in India’s case. The mainstream has not been completely corporatized yet - we still have little factions doing their share of damage. But sadly, their damage isn’t constructive either. Of course, I’m referring to the likes of Nakkiran. It’s amazing how all the mainstream and pseudo-mainstream media in India get a chance to paint themselves as “revolutionaries.” “ADMK adakkumurai – aalum katchi araajagamm” said Sun TV; “DMK arasin adhikara dhusprayogam,” says Jaya TV. Needless to say, Nakkiran was built on this mode of publicity. Every six months you’ll see one of its offices ransacked by someone, and that someone will have “strong connections” to a ‘big shot’. (Is this a scenario lifted directly from ‘Oomai Viligal’ or am I just connecting stars in space?)

“Victims” who “survive victimization” without “fear” become “revolutionaries.” The untold rule (thaaraga mandhiram) that the “victims will always say the truth” has become the running platform for everyone. Everybody wants to be “victimized” just so that their “truths” are heard. But when there are too many “victims” and too many “truths” opposing each other – victimization loses sensitivity, truth its value. I think that’s what has happened in TN.

The popular notion that “if you want to know the truth watch both Jaya TV and Sun TV” is completely false. While they do a lot of mudslinging, there is a lot that neither of them would say. There’s a lot of collective connivance on their part (kootu kalavaanithanam).

About my podcasts: my friend once asked if I was not afraid to say things like “Muslims and Christians are idiots” in voice (I said the same thing about Hindus as well, but he didn’t think it was dangerous enough). I said “I am, kind of”.
I have always had mixed feelings about my podcasts. While I often welcome people to be vocally expressive (because I know there are people who are a thousand times more eloquent in Tamil), and urge them to do podcasts, I’ve also feared that I might be in an ugly mess if they get too popular. Seriously, I don’t want my podcasts to become popular beyond a point (whether it has the material-worth is a different issue).
Even though I live in Canada, my parents are in Madras. I have to land in Madras at some point. I’m not as popular or rich as Rushdie. I cannot escape a ‘fatwa.’ Heck, a prank-call will rattle my parents and ruin their sleep (and in turn mine). I can only hope that there aren’t any “Jihadis” listening to what I say.

I often stress the dangers involved in expressing our opinions “freely” in a state (as in the ‘State’) where even the ‘powerful’ are easily targeted – literally, with stones and petrol bombs. To make matters worse you have a judicial system that is astonishingly ‘conservative’ and condescending to those with ‘liberal’ views. I don’t know; sometimes all this seems far-fetched, but then again it’s India – “impossible is nothing.” So it’s no surprise that people don’t want to take chances for what is mostly a thankless effort.

Radical views are just too dangerous for an Indian in India. He/she is safe as long as his/her views are within the academic and ‘intellectual’ circles. One has to increase his/her ‘self-worth’ before his/her views are exposed to the common, belligerent, and often violent, Indian. Periyar is an example for this. His views on feminism and sex came about well after he had established himself on the “paarpaniya aadhikkam” rhetoric. Most of his followers were just tolerating his criticisms on “Tamil culture”, gender equality, marriage etc. So it’s not a surprise that people like Thiruma' don't turn to those views of his, today.
...
Disclaimer: The email(s) has been modified from its original form. Yes, I confess, I am just too lazy to type anything original for a post. I also apologize for saying a few things that seem very pretentious.

Random quote


இந்திய 'நாய்கள்' இன்னும் எப்படியெல்லாம் சிண்டைப் பிய்த்துக்கொள்வார்கள் என்று தெரிந்துகொள்ள ஆர்வமிருந்தால், f... tamil, tamil mentality, tamil idiots போன்ற கூகிள் தேடல்களைக் கொடுக்கவும்! Forumhub Tamilல் சட்டை பனியன் அண்டர்வேர் கிழியுமாறு நாயடி அடித்துக்கொண்டிருப்பார்கள். தமிழன் கன்னடனைத் திட்ட, கன்னடன் தமிழனைக் கறுப்புக் கம்மனாட்டி என்று திட்ட, 'இந்திக்காரன்' தமிழனை குரங்குக்குப் பிறந்தவனே என்று திட்ட, தமிழ்க்காரன் இந்திக்காரனை, பல்விளக்காத வெளிநாட்டு காலாட்படைகளுக்குப் பிறந்த இழிபிறவியே என்று திட்ட, இந்த அனைத்து 'காரர்'களும் சேர்ந்து, யாராவது இலங்கை ஆசாமிகளைத் திட்ட, அவர்கள் பதிலுக்குத் திட்ட....நாலு இந்தியர்கள் சேர்ந்தால், ஐந்தாவது ஆள் ஒருவனைக் கவிழ்ப்பதற்காகத்தான் இருக்கும் என்று சொல்வது இந்த விஷயங்களில் சரிதான்.
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source

A new world record: WTF?


Are they going to give her a gold medal or something?
Indian-American astronaut Sunita 'Suni' Williams added another feather to her cap by spending more time spacewalking than any other woman to date.
Interestingly, though, her Wiki-page is full of 'seruppadi'

Her roots go back to Gujarat in India and she has been to India a couple of times to visit her family. She is also of Slovenian descent from her mother's side.
What? Slovenian? ada naaigala!

Boy meets train


An extension of this post


Download. Original Page

adada, sentiment'a koraingada!

What binds Dara's family together is their search for their lost son, his memories captured in a fading photo album, including the last image of Azhar in his school uniform proudly holding the tricolor.

vetti post-3


Gurumurthy's writings have informed me about a lot of things - especially on the 'local' level functioning of small scale industries in India. They are simple case studies embedded in powerful narratives. I've admired him for his ability to stand-up against authority and embarass the Indian-commie 'intellectuals.' He is one of the few India columnists who pay so much attention to factual accuracy of their pointers. Of course, I now have some major disagreements with a lot of what he says (his incessant praise of the "Indian culture" not being least of it) - mostly ideological. I was running through some of this stuff and found this interview. Good wit is always good.

Can't we call some of our big industries also multinational companies?

I prefer an Indian dacoit to a foreign dacoit so long as we cannot avoid having dacoits around. I go that far. He will not bomb India while Dubai-based smugglers do.

...
You said, all industrialists amass wealth. So, what is the difference between an insider and an outsider?

All Indian politicians are corrupt? Then why not elect a foreigner as our prime minister?


Huh, ironically, the hook in his answer isn't all that bent, now, is it?

PS. The webpage reads "Rediff On The Net." Did/does rediff have any business beyond 'net?

The Train and I


My relationship with the train had an unusual start, probably not so unusual for several thousands of students who went to schools like mine. It started right from my kindergarten days: I, along with others in my rickshaw had to cross a railway track to get to school. We would have to get down and push the vehicle over those ‘massive’ tracks. If there weren’t many of us, the rickshaw guy would just leave us before the track and we’ll have to walk the remaining distance (about 200 meters). I don’t know if it’s the annoying walk in the sun or the general feeling that trains can crush almost anything: we would place stones on the track for feet together, when we return, every evening. Just to see them get pulverized (with some hopes to derail the train, perhaps. Who knows?). We would curse the ‘oldies’ who come chasing us to remove the stones, moments before the train passes by. They were sometimes exciting sometimes nervous moments. When we found a crushed dead body beside the tracks one morning, ‘scary’ got added to the list.

I’ve lost so many 10 paise coins in the tracks, trying to ‘magnetize’ them. I wasn’t the worst, though. I know some 8th and 9th grade kids who would regularly flatten 1 rupee coins. I wonder what they learnt in their physics classes.

A train had all these strange meanings, and just that, for several years till I finally got on a train in my 5th grade. It was a long journey - Dindigul to Kakinada. Madras was exotic, Egmore sounded alien. Pallavan buses were, well, red.

A lot of things were new: short, non-stop ads in Sears-Elcot televisions in Central screaming "pon vandu pon vandu, potu paarunga"; shining blue Bisleri bottles that made me ask “thannikku kaasu tharanuma?”; my ‘never seen before’ gluttonous side; vomiting on a fellow passenger’s lap not being able to bear with his cigar smoke; testing my ‘learned from TV’ Hindi to attend nature’s call – “bhai saab mujhe urgent se aaraha hein;” bribing Godavari with a 25 paise coin to get the train across and a lot more.

My first train journey overwhelmed me with all kinds of emotions – joy, anxiety, unease, jealousy, confusion and even ruefulness. It took quite sometime for me to absorb these things and consciously experience what the stereotypical Indian train journey is known for – “meeting with interesting people from all walks of the society.”

By the time I moved to Bangalore I must have traveled in trains for over a hundred times. Marriages, college tours and what have you. There were very few 'stunts' that I hadn't pulled; there were few postures that I hadn't assumed - intentionally and unintentionally. But Madras – Bangalore was always special. It was the first time I started doing everything. I earned, I stood in the queue, I paid, I got to the station – all by myself. The experiences that I've had then, during the journeys, are some of the best, ever. I think I'd rather save them for a podcast.

Train journeys in 'Second Class Sleeper' reflect a very reasonable image about Indian life. Nothing is too bad, but you do to get to see the worst of it occasionally. People, facilities, everything would have a fair mix of what India has to offer. That's what makes 'The Great Indian Railways' such an excellent documentary.

I first saw it in 1998. It had been just a year after India's 50th independence anniversary. Some of the short films from the Bharat Bala's series the previous year, were still aired in DD. The pseudo-patriotism injected in our veins over a period of several months was still alive. So the documentary wasn't all that enchanting. I even felt outraged at times. I thought they were deliberately hiding the 'good stuff' to dampen our spirits (damn whites, I thought). I continued to hold the same impression for a long time.

Even though I would run into the documentary once in a month or so, later, I chose to sit through the whole thing again only in 2004 – six years after the first time I had seen it. This time I was in Bangalore. I was older, and as I had mentioned earlier, I had gained more experiences to compare and contrast (and of course, the jingoism had faded away quite considerably). The documentary, now, seemed extremely sincere, emotionally profound and unimaginably comprehensive. I thought then, and still do, that it was probably the best documentary to portray India as it is.

I was so excited to find it in 'desitorrents'. The short segment below is my favourite. The crowd rushing into the train is so typical of what I've been part of several times. It's the quintessential “kerchief culture” at work. Of course, the babu English, the “cribbing” women, the cold sense of humour, the retired "bank manager" arguing with taxi drivers – it's all very fascinating and real.

Of everything an Indian can miss, the train is what I miss the most.




For an age old clichéd question, this is a bloody smart answer, don't you think? (Again, it's from Orkut.)

He: Suresh answer my question..... who are you?

I: I am who you are asking it to.

hahaha. periya vevaramana vengayam; kekranunga paaru kelvi, velakkena!

enda dei?-2


I, like many of you, get a very bad headache when I can't run through lines - when I have to stop, pause and do some permutations to get the best possible meaning. I usually pretend like the message isn't posted in the thread at all. But when people address you directly you are forced to read it and that's when you complain. And how do they respond?
i dont care to take ur views... ur english seems pathetic and u in no position to kinda comment upon mine...and by da way if iam a teen i wud write dat kind of scraps only(this is with ref to ur other scrap) i aint an oldie like u

dont xpect me to write English as ur High school teachers thought u...spell check is a tool in MS word to chk da spellings as per dictionary here i aint writin no novel for my skool so i dont give a damn bout spellings..mayb u cant understand thats as i said ur prob...
ennada solreenga? enda indha maari ellam irukkeenga? ungalukkellam kai'la kusthama? illa oru varthaya mulusa adikradhu avalo kashtama? saniyan ungala pudichudha illa neenga saniyana pudicheengala? ungalukkellam porandha odane thaduppoosi potaangala illaya?

A 'critical' conversation - 2


'second part' of this podcast.

The white in black


bell hooks is one of the most influential black feminists of our lifetime. Her poetic yet critical narratives - eloquent and articulate - have always amazed me. The video below is one of the best critiques of rap/hip-hop music you'll ever find. Note what she says at around 6 minutes in the video - her observation exemplifies feminist deconstruction.



Edit: I could not resist adding another video from the series (this one's on Spike Lee)



* - I recommend you click on the video and watch the entire series in youtube (split into parts)

 
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