Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Street Brawl.

(C), SHAMIT BAGCHI, Dec 2007.

A DESCRIPTION:
More from the realm of the absurd, the sketch depicts two people involved in a brawl in the middle of a street. And it seems like one person has succeeded in giving the other a fatal blow. But which one ? Or have both succeeded ..........
Are they different people? Or is it man fighting with himself? As always.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sun, Sky - Clouds, Colours



The soul is never born nor does it die ...


The soul is never born nor does it die at any time. It has neither past nor future. It is unborn, ever existing, permanent and ancient.

Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones.

It is a fact that that which is born is certain to die and that the one which has died is bound to take birth. There is no need to worry for the unavoidable.

All created beings were unmanifest in the beginning, manifest themselves in the middle and become unmanifest again when they die in the end. If this is so then where is the need for lamentation?



Sunday, December 02, 2007

eyeBod.


They keep an eye on every part of you!

(C) SHAMIT BAGCHI, 2007.
Sketched, photographed and edited using Picasa.



Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Raavan and Yamraaj



'Mad Ads', third event I took part in (read previous blog post for continuity) - 1st spot again. Roles played: Raavan and Yamraaj - 5 scenes enacted in less than the max of 7 minutes ...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Of Rock and Debates …

Every year we have the Annual Day celebrations at the workplace, a welcome thing in parallel with work as usual. Actually for the events the whole organization is split up into 8 different teams; this year on account of 60 years of India’s Independence, the teams were named Chak De, Khakee, Border, Sarfarosh, Lakshya, Lagaan, Nayak etc. This time it is spaced out over a period of two months, with an event or two every week, including those from the categories mind sport, physical sports, performing arts, fitness and personality etc. I had taken part in the events in 2005, but last year due to various reasons and preoccupations I did not take part in a single event. This year I was determined to reverse the trend and I did. And in what a manner!

The first event I took part in was called ‘The Debate’ - a very innovative event that was split up into 3 sections, comprising 4 members from each team. In the first section the team picks a topic, 2 members from the team go and speak for and against the topic – quite extempore. In the second round ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ on lines of the famous TV show of the same name, separate topics are given about an hour before, to each team and we need to enact out the scene, more like a skit. In the third and final round three members from each team need to tell interconnected stories based on the three words they have chosen – and I felt it was the toughest to coordinate. Our second round went really well where the topic we had got was ‘It was a dark and stormy night and lightning flashed outside the window’ and we ended getting scores like 9, 10, 9 out of a max of 10 from the three judges, all four of us participated here. For the first round we got a topic ‘Cricket in India is all about money and politics and sportsmanship does not count’, several other good topics where also doled out. I spoke against the argument statement. The last round we got words Bangalore, Snow and Contemporary and had to weave a story which we did but it wasn’t highly coherent. And before the final scores could be announced we found ourselves tied for the second spot, an additional tie-breaker round was done, we had to speak against the topic ‘Money without women has no value’. And after a few tense moments the results were announced - we had come in second!

Next, just yesterday there was this event ‘Mock Rock’ which I had absolutely no idea about. For the debate event I had myself volunteered. But the several members of the team were such an enthusiastic group, they would not leave me for this too and I was literally pulled in and it paid off. They are a bunch of highly creative guys and gals. This Mock Rock is where you need to lip synch to music playing in the background. The key things are costumes, synchronization, dance, and the mock paraphernalia including fake guitars, drums etc. The two rounds were called ‘Videshi’ and ‘Swadeshi’. In the first round we took up a song called ‘Wicker Man’ by Iron Maiden. With masks, claws and all the back end work by a dedicated group, this round made the crowds go berserk. And in the second round we did the retro cult hit: ‘I am a Disco Dancer’, with the lead dancer giving an amazing performance along with the team-girls dancing in synchrony behind. It was for this second round that I was roped in and I dressed up in such a way as to somewhat resemble Bappi Lahiri. This time an introduction and a Nomoshkar and some words of intro in Bengali and English before the dance performance started, sent the already excited crowd into a tizzy and then they just loved the rest of it too, and during the show I had to enact the role of a drummer over card board and thermocol drums. Most other teams did equally well. But we were destined to win and as the results were announced in the order 8,7,6,5,4,3,2 our house name was left out to indicate that we had top scored, and what a grand celebration it was after that, with the open house and the crowd clapping and dancing. Not only was the whole thing enjoyable but a learning too for me, as I was able to cut out some bit of uncomfortable feelings on dancing etc and take my word – dancing is no small feat, it is highly energy sapping and the most involving form of physical exercise and artistic it is - I don’t have to confirm that, absolutely so in each of its several forms.

Kids & Wild Flowers.



Once upon a time * Inky Pinky Ponky * Wall Walk



Wild Yellow * Wild Colours.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eucalyptus - Thy Name.

EUCALYPTUS

A walk in the woods,
At about the time,
when the sun was setting.
Camera in hand, a plan in mind;
I stray afar to find,
Along with you, Eucalyptus;
Colours galore, oranges,
Violets, greens, blues and browns.
No dearth of colours,
But for how long ?
Soon they would be, gone;
By an embrace of the night.
And you'd sway gently in the wind
Standing firm and tall, Eucalyptus.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Nikon Coolpix S10



Got my Nikon Coolpix S10 (6MP, 10X Optical zoom). Produces very good images and the best part is it's compact mainly due to its unique swivel design.

And below is a test of the optical zoom (I am not doing an ad for Maruti Alto here ... ;)). The second one below is at half the full zoom, and in the third one a scooter appears; and do you notice the registration plate? Where do you think that scooter is from ?




NO ZOOM - HALF ZOOM - FULL ZOOM

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tata Indicom - Plug 2 Surf Whiz

Installed the SXC-1080 CDMA 1x USB MODEM - Pretty cool and easy wireless internet from Tata. The UIM/SIM card needs to be inserted into the USB device and then an installer needs to be run on Windows XP professional on my laptop (Dell Dimension D630) and on Linux - Ubuntu 7.04, the Feisty Fawn on my desktop the HP Pavilion that I have it's as simple as wvdialconf and wvdial. Speeds are decent I think about 10-20 Kbps as of now; need to look for some mechanism to jack that up as the claimed speed is upto 153 kbps.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Searching for MP3s on Google

Here is a sample (for reference):

intitle:index.of + "rihanna" -html -htm -php -asp + shut up

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chess Pawns

[ Gimp on Ubuntu Feisty Fawn ]

Those hapless pawns, manipulated at will, sacrificed for gains, mere pieces in the hands of the players, the masterminds, successive grandmasters ... Do they possess a mind of their own, or are they mere static, lazy, black and white pieces, pushed around, without any willpower, or the passion of survival? But so is the case with the kings, the queens, the bishops and knights, isn't it?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

NIRVANA – A NEAT WHITE NOTHINGNESS

A seamless white, with no ends, no corners; a spotlessly clean, featureless white expanse. This soft white, hit him as a very peaceful sight as soon as he had opened his eyes. His eyes registered his own hands and legs, but nothing apart from himself. As he moved a little forward, on a surface that neither felt cold nor hot, he felt he was in a daze. Then for a moment he closed his eyes and he was thrown into another world - one full of colours, riotous colours, chaotic, noisy with sounds from the familiar world; there was the black spiralling smoke and dumps of filth everywhere, blood, gore and sorrow - all this enveloped him. Without another thought he opened his eyes and was back in the peace of that featureless expanse again.

He enjoyed the clear vision for a while; however after a while a strange nagging feeling started to creep in. What felt quite strange to him was having opened his eyes he was in this neat, white yet monotonously boring world, in a sense almost blind. He felt all over his body wondering whether he was in some kind of a simulation, but no, he had no connections anywhere - neither on his head or his neck. Then a panic overcame him, he wanted to get out from this extremely lonely space, he ran, screaming, waving his hands. The faster he ran or the slower it was always the same white, neat, soft and clear world and no physical exits from it, anywhere in sight, no doors or windows; except that easy way out; closing his eyes. He now, voluntarily closed his eyes, tightly shut. It all appeared back again, people, buildings, cars and scars; everything.

It was indeed an irony, that he had craved for this very neat world, wanting to experience the simplicity of the squeaky clean universe, restricted to just himself – no hassles, no problems. But now it was nightmarish, nothing in sight, whenever he opened his eyes it was this nothingness, the great void – brightly blind. No sounds, peaceful yet suffocating, as if he were deaf; no one to share anything with, nothing to see, touch, or modify. Yet when he closed his eyes he was back in that chaotic world that he had wanted to avoid at all costs. This was driving him crazy. He was imagining what he wanted to get away from and what he wanted to experience was now getting on his nerves.

Does this nothingness sometimes allure you and at the same time scare you too; or is the chaotic, colourful world what you enjoy, since there isn't any escape actually? There is an escape into darkness – inevitable death, but like our protagonist, getting trapped in a white expanse, lacking any human touch, would be unbearable, isnt it? Is that what Nirvana would be like or is the guy just hallucinating? And yet the extremes in this world of ours can be scarier still ...

Which is the wiser world?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

THE ART OF GOSSIP

You know what?

An almost inaudible whirr of the desktop fans pervades all around; a new day has just begun at the workplace. On very similar lines another, this time a rather audible whirr of those well-oiled engines of gossip, rumour, trivial talk and the like has also been set into action, determined to change the very landscape of the day. Then at some point the orchestra of gossip begins, along with master strokes on canvas over canvas these artists, some could be great script-writers too if given a chance, set the stage on fire! With absolutely all other faculties put to rust these gossip artists have the keenest faculty for idle talk activated - yak, yak, yak, and more yak!
Maligning anyone or anything with a touch of their imaginative brush, their repertoire consisting of subtle hints, complete rumours and sometimes things indescribable, all coming at no cost. That evil grin, or the rolling of eyes in immense pleasure at being able to kill another person's or group's reputation without the use of any weapon, how spontaneous, almost effortless ... ! A surreptitious comment to seed clouds of doubt can be compared to minimalist design. A volley of 'Do you know...' are like, well non-sense poetry? A detailed analysis of why something may fail, or is no good are like those detailed sculptures 'nakkashi' in famous temples. Gossip can be elevated to nothing less than high art.
Why do people indulge in such gossip artistry or shall we call it sorcery when there are so many other things to dabble in? May be a grudge to overcome or frustration to drain out, a release mechanism. Some use it as a therapy technique, as music for their souls, just as some people have a pastime sketching, on similar lines, you get it don’t you? Some may say it has a positive side to it - building a cohesive group, or team, making members feel good as part of a group. Some become communities of practice, discussing ideas, rejecting those of others. But when you know it is bordering on some malicious intent, you know that you have entered the realm of gossip! It has even become popular on television these days and in those mindlessly glossy serials. And so deft are these gossip artists that they can apply shades of gossip, sometimes light shades, just a touch, sometimes doing permanent damage like tattoos – an art of the dark!
The gossip-artists can be extremely versatile, modulating their 'stories' like classical music; at their will, wish and based on the state they would like to see their victim in. They can themselves act like victims, as if wallowing in a quagmire of emotions, or they can act out as all-knowing maestros, as if positing a theory of why things are the way they are, often with investigative vigour, showing off their mastery of the art of deduction. They are best described as mental criminals or artists if you consider crime as art. Some of these criminals possess the impunity of boisterous, chest thumping hoodlums, some are more like the scheming masterminds, and some like insane sociopaths in an asylum; almost any of their talk is an unqualified rumour, they exist just to gossip!
Talking of artists, I consider myself an artist (mind you, here I mean the actual meaning of that word), as I sometimes do pencil sketches. And you know what ? I met this lady yesterday at the Gallery Sumukha, who paints like a goddess, is like absolutely good looking and all, but she has some dubious history, you know. Why? Let me tell you why, actually I hear ... Oh! Have I been drawn into that art-world of gossip too, unwittingly? My apologies.

DISCLAIMER: If the opinions of the author have hurt 'anyone', then the author is curious to get initiated as an apprentice under that 'anyone' (who would most likely be a master-gossip-artist) in learning up the art of 'you know what' ...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Just News? Or More?

'NEWS IS NOT NEWS ANYMORE'

or

'MUCH MORE THAN JUST NEWS'


News is assumed to be an objective reportage of facts and events. Is that ever the case? Ideally, never. In every case, views, opinions and thoughts do always get mixed up with news. Of course, that in itself is not a very wrong thing, as long as the news agency keeps in mind that the overall perspective it is taking is truthful, unbiased and for the general good. However, there are many touchy issues that cannot go fully unnoticed; at least in the current method of news coverage in the Indian media. Excessive preoccupation with celebrity life and marriage news, outrageous sting operations breaching all norms of privacy, 24x7 news shows, endlessly repeating the same thing. Do these some how present a distorted picture of what news is, or do they give us a wide palette, letting us choose what we want to see? SMS campaigns and public opinion do get featured on the media, but do they serve any purpose apart from the curiosity quotient they generate; even statisticians would be wary of these purely unscientific forms of sampling. How can we distinguish between the facts and the apparent facts? How are we to detect what is information and what is indoctrination? How are we to know what the public really wants to see, which the media, rather smugly, claims it does.

Those who support the media and media-persons themselves would argue, that they are bringing out hidden issues into the public purview, reaching places where media has never dared go before and rightly so, exposing corruption in high places, even within the judiciary through active participation, innovative means and the adoption of technology. The state of remote villages, news of crime, exploitation from far corners of the country, instant clips from unknown, ignored and largely forgotten social groupings, stories of wildlife on the verge of extinction and debates on burning issues of national and international concern – just a few things that the media activism effectively highlights. Doesn't the television news bring all of this into your living room, forcing you to ponder, maybe even propel you into action? If you prefer to switch channels and tune into a familiar soap opera, is the media to blame? Well- researched articles, exposes in newspapers and worthy, educative news programs are what can be attributed as a commendable job that the media does, ever so often. Information and expert opinions on the latest trends in technology, travel, food, health, lifestyle, and much more comprise yet another beneficial face of the media, that is often mis-annotated as frivolous forms of light entertainment.

The flip side that those who are opposed to the current stance media takes, would claim is also quite apparent. Remote-controlled state television channels operated by political parties (Sun, Moon and Star TV networks), news programs with a partisan, opinionated flavor, without an iota of credibility or objective news coverage, always wanting to show their side of the picture, censoring out all else. To keep patrons happy, presenting a biased news coverage in their favor, is the most unethical behavior a news channel can exhibit – however this happens more often than not. Certain language channels also tend to 'sell' sleazy, cheap, tasteless, untrue stories and programs with the tag, news; insisting that, that is somehow what the public 'wants'. The only thing going against such channels is the misnomer 'news' they use, let them drop the garb of news and that would leave them equivalent to any other entertainment channel, also less misleading. One can argue that freedom of expression with respect to news is acceptable, however crossing all limits of acceptability and not adhering to any code of conduct is certainly not. What newspapers and news channels cover and then propagate needs to be done in a responsible manner; for example avoiding generating communal frenzy or mass hysteria at all costs. There are ethics in place that are often bypassed or forgotten to sensationalize news, where the need is exactly the opposite - to sensitize.

Now something that can be done is to bring in archaic legislation, such as the new Broadcast Bill which was supposed to be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament. This bill proposes a content code and has specific clauses for news channels too. For example, an auditor would be assigned to each channel in order to decide which programs can be aired; agencies doing sting operations need to inform the person on whom the sting is being carried out etc. All this was seen as a curb on the media and a ploy to curtail the freedom of the press and was met with vocal criticism from all media quarters. As a result the information and broadcasting ministry has decided not to introduce it for now.

Like most issues, the news that media covers or concocts has both positives and negatives, which endless arguments cannot fully uncover and taking a stand is not always possible. So should the government regulate news or should the news agencies self-regulate? What's your take on the issue?


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rants & Opinions

1] Indian Idol is as entertaining as Harry Potter is; as much for the judges' fights as for the extremely talented singers' performances.
2] Soha Ali Khan is absolutely gorgeous looking - I am her fan. (Ahista Ahista - a simple, slow movie).
3] 'Khosla ka Ghosla' is one of the most humorous movies, I have watched in the recent past, watched it a second time few days back.
4] Equally humorous is The Pink Panther (new version starring Steve Martin) - hilarious.

1] Monitoring of employees' personal blogs, prevalent these days across the world, is quite obnoxious in my opinion.
2] Office politics and nasty jerks at work are a source of loss of productivity and attrition (McKinsey Quarterly Article).
3] Just the reverse is also possible - as per Pareto principles 20% of the people can make work greatly interesting and pleasurable.
4] Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a great tool for effectively communicating with people and understanding their behaviours (Currently reading).
5] Mutual trust and respect are essential for maintaining and building any human relationship.

1] The Govt of India Income Tax Returns submission is getting pretty high tech online and efficient (e-filing - neat process).

1] Windows XP can become an albatross around your neck, a pain. Some reasons necessitated my installing that OS, and I had no anti-virus; unwittingly I was doomed to facing severe consequences. Viruses, trojans, malware, spyware and what not got in, once I connected to the WWW - and my BSNL connection started to crawl and then altogether stopped, dead. I was forced to install Mandrake Linux and now I am back to bliss on the net, with everything working fine. Linux in that sense is undoubtedly the best ! No hassles, no paraphernalia like anti-virus etc required and with all the open source goodies (OSS for sound, MPlayer, XMMS, Aamarok, Kaffeine for video/audio, Open Office for productivity software, XPDF for PDF viewing, Firefox, Opera, Mozilla for the browser packs, Gaim and Kopete for IM, GIMP for graphics, gcc for programming, and of course the 'terminal' too). Windows has its advantage though - otherwise I wouldn't have installed it in the first place! Dell has started bundling Linux so it is going to thrive a bit more in the future. However, Windows XP and now Vista maintains its domination, come what may including MacOS, Linux, etc etc.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Biblio Trail

The last few books that I have read:

'The High-Performance Entrepreneur' (Subroto Bagchi) - detailed, well developed and valuable inputs and examples on every step for starting up a new venture.

'The McKinsey Mind' (Ethan Rasiel and Paul Friga)- excellent book on the methods used by 'the firm', has loads of insight from ex-alumni.

'Identity and Violence - The Illusion of Destiny' (Amartya Sen) - superlative writing; with the central theme rejecting the definition of a person by a singular identity, for example that of religion only. Amartya Sen, I reiterate, is my favourite non-fiction author.

'Five Point Someone' (Chetan Bhagat) - everyone would have read this by now, I got this using the Citibank loyalty points; never wanted to buy it, but pretty decent first book and quite funny at times (burst out laughing when reading the 'Family Planning advertisement in the cinema hall' part).

I am currently reading the following:
'The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid' (C K Prahalad) - on how profits and poverty eradication can go together, very logical and filled with case-studies from across the world.

'The Lost Hero', A biography of Subhas Bose (Mihir Bose) - brings alive a vivid, 'no hero-worship' type version of Netaji's life.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why Sonia Gandhi should be the coach of the Indian Cricket team.


Inspired by the SMS, a viewer sent to an English news TV channel:
'If Sharad Pawar can be the BCCI chief why not Sonia the coach of the Indian team?'

Brilliant idea, actually. First thing, it would set a new precedent: a woman becoming the coach of a men's team; a history of sorts for the most adored sport in India: Cricket (apart from Milk Abhishekam, the new sport that fans of a certain BOSS, love to play out on the streets these days). Also the nature of selection would be intact like when Ford refused, Watmore was not acceptable (what more could Watmore do, he tried literally everything) and our Indian coaches have much more important media assignments. Just as heavyweights like Shivraj Patil, Pranab Mukherjee, Karan Singh ... Of course you see the analogy, don't you ? Shivraj Patil was a classic candidate for the 'other selection', who when asked a question on security ended up saying 'we are looking into it', by 'it' he meant his suit and then started to dust some minute invisible speck of dust off his suit.

However, now that I think of it, players do endorsements, so why not the coach? Ravi Shastri could have signed a contract with Times Now or CNN-IBN (both recovering from the NDTV BMW case expose) to do a sting operation from within the team sessions or the dressing room; perhaps some insider talk or juicy clips, fights and feuds etc. – thus doubling up as a journalist, a commentator and a coach!

There's more evidence to cite. Sonia is possibly the best Googly expert so that's a big plus for our inept and hapless bowlers, they'd end up getting some much needed advice on skills. Also she'd guide them on 'Left' swing, lethal yorkers (the way she got master blaster, Kalam clean bowled on one, with the whole nation wanting his second term in office except her, possibly something to do with her plans for PMship being thwarted), mastering spin (Rahul's 'we broke up Pakistan' comment !!) and much much more, albeit not all techniques work (remember UP Elections 2007, makes Mayawati the second best choice for coach).

And in batting, Madam Gandhi is an undoubted expert, hitting six after six (to protect her friend, the holy soul Quattrochi) and batting unbeaten since 2004. Manmohan only seems to be running around not running the government, the proverbial 'runner', transferring his government's responsibility by admonishing India Inc, taking head-on the left's abuse and claiming the three years of madam's indirect rule have been a great show. Though it might be another issue that India's entrepreneurs – urban and rural are forging ahead; all that according to the ruling party is false – it is the government that has fueled the economic engine, even though data might be saying the exact opposite. Government seems to echo the public sentiments: sky high inflation, more farmer suicides; what? Let's discuss Shilpa Shetty or even better, Paris something; I knew only about the Louvre museum and Eiffel Tower; but this one's in some prison I hear.

And finally the clincher, Sonia Gandhi was once upon a time the best opening batswoman, who dared to not take up Indian citizenship for not five, not ten, but sixteen years after getting married to hubby dear, Rajiv. Not just that, she kept renewing her Italian citizenship every few years until 1984; when a big tree fell, the earth shook and Rajiv came to power - indirectly her path to power was clear. Doesn't that make her the perfect international coach that we are so desperate about? Indeed. She's better than former guru Greg at the power struggles; before her, Gangulys and Tendulkars would be mere siblings of Rahul and Bianca, sorry Priyanka. She is the tallest leader in India and we need such a person, who can magically manipulate (PC Sorkar Junior's magician daughter would get a scare) by a mere whim or wish, if our near-dying 'Men in Blue' (still smarting from the World Cup blues) are to ever revive. We want Sonia, vote for Sonia ! Start a SMS campaign directed at the BCCI selectors. SMS now !


Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

News Post

The NDTV expose and the Gujjar violence in Rajasthan were the two major items that kept the news channel counters ringing this last week. The NDTV sting operation (which I could not see being shown on any of the other channels except obviously NDTV) was indeed sensational just as the BMW case itself was. The collusion between the defense lawyer and the public prosecutor seems to have put the judicial system under the scanner for having scaled the very heights of corruption with the aim of protecting the guilty. The repercussions were many, as the public prosecutor was dropped from further handling the case and the Bar council created a committee to look into the alleged breach of the legal procedures for the same. Kudos to NDTV, which is, by far the best news channel on Indian airwaves. The other two - CNN-IBN and Times Now try to be aggressive to the extent of becoming frivolous, though CNBC-TV18 is good on the business news coverage. The way Sanjay Agrawal, the prime witness was wired with cameras etc and the videos captured, is absolutely fantastic.

The Gujjar violence is a more serious matter, especially due to the sudden violent turn it all took, and then clashes with another community, the Meenas, who are opposed to the Gujjars being given the demanded ST status. This event goes on to highlight the ominous chaos that caste systems, associated politics and reservations can create even in modern day India, with all the alleged India shimmering and 'India Poised' campaigns.

With the economy galloping, spearheaded by the services sector and a GDP growth rate of 9.4 % such events will often recur, if the trickle down effect is not sufficient, the differences between haves and have-nots widening. Although, as I was reading in an article by economist Bibek Debroy, in which he refutes the claim that growth hasn't penetrated down to the masses and also states that the actual GDP growth might have been closer to 12 percent and the existing calculations are based on certain older measurement parameters, that now stand obsolete.

With the Prime Minister admonishing India Inc. and corporate houses (seems like a ploy to appease the left and transfer the blame to the private sector) for indulging in ostentatiousness, lavish show of their riches, and disbursal of high salaries to top executives, Manmohan Singh, the initiator of economic reforms who was key in letting in open markets in India, seems to have come full circle, buckling under intense communist pressure. The CPM itself, though, is wooing Infosys in West Bengal, projecting its low land rates and touting West Bengal as the next big IT destination in the country.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

To see or not to see, a comedy.

The sun had set and it was getting dark, when on a Friday evening, I stood at the entrance of 'Ranga Shankara' the theatre hub created by Arundhati Nag, wife of the late kannada actor Shankar Nag (also director of 'Malgudi Days'). My good friend (VikramR) had invited me to be an audience to a play that he was part of and I after some deliberation, accepted it, and that turned out to be a very good decision. Apart from the auditorium, Ranga Shankara also has an eatery and a bookshop, where I browsed through the books on the shelves for a while after buying the ticket, as I had some time before the play was underway (7:30 PM). It is a nice spot for theatre lovers from young couples and groups of friends to older and even elderly couples with an avid interest in drama/theatre. The play itself was a rib-tickling comedy named 'When the Python followed the Actor', by the troupe 'Version One dot Oh'. It was in two parts, the first one 'The Actor's Dilemma' of about forty-five minutes depicted the predicament of an actor who has forgotten all about the play he is supposed to enact and also all his lines; goofing up with gaffe after gaffe with co-actors, misleading them, confusing the whole thing up, even quoting other famous plays such as 'Hamlet'. The lead actor did a splendid job along with the cast; and the comedy was well conjured up. It was followed by three short drama sketches - again ranging from the absurd to the hilarious! An evening well spent.

Monday, April 23, 2007

HANNIBAL RISING

HANNIBAL RISING by Thomas Harris

It starts like an exotic dream, the young Hannibal Lecter; the doctor and psychopath of evil fame from previous books such as 'Red Dragon', 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal'; and his little sister Misha playing beside a pool with swans. It then proceeds as a grim but exquisitely written tale of the refuge the Lecter family takes in a farmhouse in the woods of Lithuania, surviving the Nazis for some years during the World War II. However the silence of the woods is soon broken, when calamity strikes the family, and the children are left to the mercy of a rag-tag pack of brutal Nazi collaborators. And as the winter builds food becomes scarce, and the children become this pack's target.
Hannibal manages to escape and post-war finds himself being taken home by his painter uncle Robert from an orphanage. There are scars from the bygone days and dreams that haunt Hannibal even in the comfort of his uncle's mansion and in the company of his aunt, the beautiful Japanese Lady Murasaki.
However things will not go the right way here too and in a freak moment, a butcher in the market insults his aunt, later his uncle loses his life and Hannibal extracts revenge. From here on, starts Hannibal's quest for revenge, to avenge his sister's disappearance and silence his dreams, nightmares rather. After his uncle's death, he and Lady Murasaki move into Paris, an unsaid affection builds between them, he enrolls in a French medical school as the youngest student and wows everyone by his drawings and intellectual caliber.
In parallel, Inspector Popil from the Paris squad is investigating the butcher's murder and suspects Hannibal and he and a psychologist Dr Fauche interrogate young Hannibal - but find no clues as the boy seems under perfect control and will reveal nothing. Later Hannibal's memory palace reawakens to the fate his sister had met, and he starts to kill that group's individuals one by one in a plot that at best seems make-believe and here the story loses a large portion of its credibility. The author seems to be in some form of a hurry and this last one fifth of the book is not up to Harris's usually taut and brilliant standards.
All said, the book is indeed a relish to read and gives us a glimpse into the origin of one of literature's celebrated evil genius and what the others for the lack of a word, term as 'monster'.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

An empty canvas that itself fills

Read the poem: An empty canvas that itself fills

OPENING THE PORTALS TO OLD MEMORIES ...

On Friday 16th Mar, met up with AmrutK who was back from the US after some fifteen months or so. Along with him, ChandanB and AshvinM we met at The Forum. Was a short meet, with the roads around Bannerghatta Road showing all its might to the poor Amrut (ask him how severely his riding skills were tested).

Next day, Saturday 17th Mar, met up with the Air Force School, Hebbal junta at the Cafe Coffee Day, Cunningham Road. This was after nearly eleven years, I cannot believe myself, ELEVEN years! NitinP, RajeevK, GovindM, ShambhaviR and me. It was one of the most memorable evenings in a long long time. Memories, jokes, incidents and much more came tumbling out in a burst of laughter and animated talk. Most are still the same – Nitin is as sincere and friendly as ever, with an amazingly sharp memory, Rajeev the straightforward, 'speak-your-mind' type guy with flashes of brilliance, Govind the reclusive ever-smiling genius, Shambhavi, the slightly subdued or is it matured lady now; as against the effervescent, enthusiastic person I remember. Sometimes with the mad rush or just out of pure languor, we get disconnected from the past; as if cleaved apart by the machete of time. Or are those barriers created by the mind? It feels so good to reconnect – lights up the long-ignored regions of memory, the portals open up and the light flooding in evokes great pleasure.

A message that was printed on Rajeev's tee-shirt to end this post:
“To have a great friend, you need to be one !” - Very difficult, but a learning indeed ...


Friday, March 09, 2007

Holi Day

Played Holi after a long time. Though I had an aversion to playing it, the first breach was at office when colleagues in the same floor 'attacked', and multiple times. And that was the day before the actual festival (3rd March 2007). Next day four of us RickB, ShaonC, ManiM and me played like crazy - buckets of coloured water, wet colours, and loads of fun ;) May such festivals always bring us together and spread the love and cheer in an otherwise, often monotonous, routine life. Cannot end without philosophy, so here goes: Everything has a significance ...


Sunday, February 18, 2007

'Next' by Michael Crichton

A tale of genetic engineering gone awry, never read a book with a narrative that is so fast paced. It sets your pulse on boosters from the very word 'go'. Human foolishness, greed and malice as always creates a very complex situation with transgenic animals (specifically a parrot and an ape with human properties in the book) becoming victims or perpetrators of violence in a society that is not yet ready for them. Legal battles over who owns the cells which are patented for certain features and the absurd tendency by geneticists to define specific genes to explain any and every human trait from maturity to blond hair, is depicted as becoming the order of the day. Then there are moves for funding and counter-moves by organizations, long chases, legal battles, private investigators and families getting involved in a confusion galore.

A book that has a well annotated 'List of References' however except for a few good insights and the endnote on the legal consequences and issues related to genetic research; does not match up to Crichton's reputation and is immensely forgettable. Bad choice on my end ! Only redeeming feature is the surprising pace that he can still generate. And just like the pace it is more expletive-laden than ever before.

Friday, January 26, 2007

'The Hungry Tide' by Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh is a fabulous writer, who's polished and beautiful prose inspires. His last book 'The Glass Palace' was one great book weaving the history of Burma, India, the World War II with fiction to concoct a very well-researched tale. In 'The Hungry Tide' he gets better. It is the best book of his till date ('The Shadow Lines' for its inter-continental tale and 'Calcutta Chromosome' for its sheer novelty come second and third in my list). 'The Hungry Tide' is set in the tide country of the Sundarbans with its mangrove forests and Royal Bengal tigers, enough to send a thrill of anticipation up your spine. The book is fast-paced and mysterious, as well as mellow and langurous, simultaneously. Starting off with the travails of a lady researcher (Piya) in dolphins and marine mammals (cetologist) from the US, the tale courses through the upheavals in the life of a social worker (Nilima) and her husband (Nirmal), along with their nephew - a translator from Delhi (Kanai) - the typical city-bred. An affection triangle of sorts builds between the translator and the resarcher as well as a local fisherman (Fokir), and as the researcher hires a diesel jetty and heads off to research the gangetic dolphin species - Orcaella; in the mean while human emotions, nature's beauty, social displacement, folklore and unexpected situations spring up, ending in a disturbing yet redeeming conclusion. It brings up certain dichotomies which are not easily resolvable - such as nature conservation vs human displacement; practical vs dreamy, idealistic men; nature's beauty vs its vagaries and unpredictability. A must read for the sheer capacity of language, imagination, descriptive style and all the above. 5 stars !

Currently reading 'NEXT' by Michael Crichton, his fast, expletive-laden tale on genetic engineering is an absolute page turner, completely unstoppable pace.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wah Ustad !

Had been to this concert at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall last Saturday - Zakir Hussain, Taufiq Qureshi, and Niladri Kumar. Superlative performance by each of them. It started with a prelude by manipuri drummers and was followed by a solo performance for about 40 mins by Zakir himself - amazing range - ranging from slowest and low freq to high speed - he played the tabla like a storm. Niladri Kumar then joined him on the sitar - he is an amazing performer for his age - very young guy. Then Taufiq joined in - he plays percussion instruments and other drums etc (like Sivamani). Also he did some amusing things just using his mouth and his hands - aural tones and beats ... Then they were followed by four Manipuri drummers who did synchronized acrobatic dances. Towards the end all of them played out, together. The jokes and humour peppered show (especially quips by Zakir) was my first classical concert proper - thanks to RickB. It ended with auctioning of Shahrukh Khan's jacket which some foreign lady bought for a whopping Rs 1,25,000 for Concern India foundation.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Unconscience

Here is a short story to break my writer's block:
Unconscience (PDF)

Update: Here is some evidence for the medical part of the story from a doctor friend of mine - Dr.Vivek Chail. Though the reason for writing the story was more than just exploring medical possibilities through science fiction.

hi shamit,
thnks for your mail/story link
your flow of thought is great.
comng to your ques..

1.is the medical possibility there, that the ova can be extrated from a human female and injected with sperm and placed in an artificial placenta like chamber and fed with appropriate nutrients.
the ova extracted frm human female and injected with sperm is the same as test tube baby..frst done in 1970s
the second part i would like to clarify that the placenta is a temporary organ that serves as a link between the deloping fetus and the uterus. The fetus develops in the uterus..i suppose you meant that as the "chamber"..still in rare cases the fetus can develop outside the uterus and this is known as an ectopic pregnancy..that is again dangerous to the mother..
as in your question..the "chamber" is still an enigma because you have multiple blood vessels and the blood flowing through those small channels should flow under regulated pressures at the same time performing many other processes to keep the fetus growing..if you can grow the "uterus" in a lab and maintain the othr parametrs under control conditions you story might be a reality..

2.Would it develop into an embryo and if DNA sequences are introduced later on to modify the traits can a 'more perfect' human being be formed.
there are certain cells known as stem cells and these are unique for any individual and can be used as a future reserve to grow organs..it is commercialised in bangalore and they preserve the cord blood and harvest stem cells..
the genetic make up is decided at the time of fertilisation..the maximum intervention is possbl at that time..later on DNA sequences may be modifiable still i have not heard much on that..you cant change DNA after birth still you can match and this helps in prediagnosing medical conditions and nature of future disease leading to preventive treatment..

thnks
vivek