Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time , not so very long ago , News was News covering the proverbial “Man Bites Dog” happenings of universal interest from North East West & South . Debate on the other hand , was debate & never did the twain meet .

News was serious business with Juthika Ratnam , or Devki Nanandan Pandey ( depending upon whether one was a Desi Firang or a Desi Desi in one’s close encounters with air-waves : short medium or long !! ) .

Debate then was debate , with astutely made points & counter-points in civilised seriousness  interspersed with immensely witty , often  scathingly euphemistic jibes traded between adversorial participants within narrow confines of time alloted by , & in language repetitively respectful to , the Presiding official.

Once upon a time , investigative journalism was the oligopolistic domain of the likes of “Indian Express” under Arun Shourie’s scathing Editorial Pen at the seriously sublime  level , & of “Blitz” under Karanjia’s salacious demeanour , content-titillation embellished by the back page treat for lecherous boys & men : latter unmatched by anything I in my innocent years had seen barring  3-D  images cleverly printed on Blotting Paper freely distributed by a certain  trader called Earl Fuller who often brought the good stuff from Singapore on his business trips to meet Dad & his colleagues deep in the jungles of Assam . But that, as I often say , is another story for another day. For the moment , suffice it to say that while family elders had qualified by virtue of age to use the great invention of those times in writing instruments called the biro ( ball pen in modern parlance ) , I was still on a quill & an ink pot ( Parker Quink ) & had the first rights always on Earl Fuller’s naughty blotters .

And, once upon a time , Candid Camera was an outrageously funny ( ha ha- type & not the funny- peculiar variant ) & MTV Bakra was a must-watch flag bearer for a while.

Once upon a time , Governments used to fall at the electoral hustings on allegations of kick backs in mere 9- digits of the Indian Rupee , 21 of which would fetch a US Dollar & 32 a British Pound ( remember a certain INR 64 Cr story !! )

Having officially qualified as a senior citizen for additional 25 basis points on my hard-earned Fixed Deposits , I have often been ridiculed on the flip side for harking back to the old times with boring narratives of how things were once upon a time . That notwithstanding , I should like to hold my ground & hark back to how different things were once upon a time.

At the macro level  candid camera , investigative journalism , titillation , & debate ( more appropriately slanging matches ) appear to have got mixed up in the electronic media’s 24 X 7 blitzkrieg , into an entangled mass of mediocrity  comparable to Hangers in a disused wardrobe or Cut Springs in a hardware store . Parliamentary debates in the world’s largest democracy are few & far between . Presidential debates in the world’s oldest democracy  have also been reflective of a degenerative regression to uncontrolled aggression. Have not watched ( on the box ; where else !! ) Parliamentary debates in the mother of all parliaments : may be what transpires in the HOC is no longer news-worthy or relevent to the boorish times we live in.  Back home, there is thankfully a semblance of sanity in the OUTSIDER debates on Bloomberg with Tim Sebastian ( of Hard Talk fame ) moderating the proceedings with panache .

Thankfully , however , times change not always for the worse , as appears to have happened at the macro level : they do sometimes change for the better too , & have thankfully done so at the micro level of yours aye in recent times . How so !! my well-wishers might wonder . Is it his long term US visa that even NAMO has not been able to obtain , or is it his long term Schengen visa accorded in the Orange Carpet category ( those familiar with Dutch colours will understand ) . Is it a bird , or is it an aeroplane they might wonder in well meaning bewilderment.  Such turn arounds & make overs are beyond words . The feeling of a rainbow wrapped around one’s shoulders is great . Specially when one is sitting atop a hill which , though dwarfed by mountain tops conquered by many,  is nevertheless an improvement  over the erstwhile plateau .

Detailing steals the charm of mystery surrounded by enigma shrouded in the unexplained . The unexplained shall therefore remain a mystery . May the good times last at the micro level : the macros can go to an unheavenly state  & stay there for all I care !!

Cheers for now & atb


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Expectations Reduce Joy !! Ergo The Joy of the Unexpected

  • Started Blogging 4 months back : mid-June 2012 , to be precise
  • Posted a modest score of 27 : the initial two posts a week has petered down to a weekly average of 1.5
  • Crossed the 1500 views threshold : nearly but not quite 100 views a week : highest daily score of 176 views on 5th August
  • Viewership from 14 countries : India , Singapore , Qatar , Kuwait , Russia, USA , UK ,  Canada ,  Germany , France , Ireland , Italy , Denmark & the Chech Republic .
  • Wake up : Australia , Newzealand , China , Malaysia , Indonesia , The Netherlands ,  Africa & South America : you guys do noot know what you are missing !!

I had no Expectations to start with  & am therefore able to savour the joy of the Unexpected  today .  Having now gotten into realms of Expectations ( 3000 views from 25 countries ?? ) , I will probably not experience Joy of similar proportion , going forward .

Expectations do indeed Reduce Joy

Cheers & atb

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People Protest and Politics

   “—-The lady doth protest too much, methinks ” 

                                           William  Shakespeare                                                      

This post is NOT about Ms Mamta Banerjee , even though I did , at one stage ,  contemplate using her ” Maa/ Maatee / Manush” ( roughly translated : Mother / Earth / & People ) slogan as the title ,  till better sense prevailed . This post is NOT about  machiavellian antics of the lady who has , in the past few days , rocked the UPA II governmental boat , & hastened  processes of realignment across  political spectrum in New Delhi . NOR is this post about  decline & fall of the once frontline state of West Bengal in the Union of India . This post is most definitely NOT about her ragtag agglomeration of sycophants , ranging from a former leading light in a front- line Industry body to an erstwhile quiz master well past his best-by date . This post , I daresay with all sincerity & conviction at my command , is NOT about a nation-wide suspicion about a chemical disequilibrium in the collective wisdom  of a certain regional political party with aspirational delusions . In short , this post is NOT about anything that can get me into trouble when I visit Kolkata next . With adequately protective disclaimers in place , let me get on with what this post is about , contrary to what the opening lines & photo might inaccurately denote .

Key word in this post is  “Protest” as an interface  between People & Politics .  Argumentative that we are as a nation , we have had more than our fair share of protests in the past 12 to 18 months , culminating in an inelegent shirt-strip  brouhaha at Vigyan Bhavan New Delhi  the other day , causing visible discomfort to the Honourable PM even before he could start his inaugural address , as his security detail looked on in paralytic  inertia.




We had , in recent times, witnessed Shoe-Gate with a torn shoe ( ahh !! the prudent Indian protestor !! ) hurled at then Honourable Union Home Minister Chidambaram at a press conference ( the journo missed Chidambaram by a mile even though the latter did not duck  , unlike his predessesor in this format of protest ,  George W Bush during his final visit to Iraq as American President ) . Shoe-Gate was followed closely by what one might call Slap-Gate with Sharad Pawar , then Honourable Union Minister for Agriculture at the recieving end .  And now Shirt- Gate aimed directly at the Honourable Prime Minister . I hasten to clarify that the prefix “then” to Honourable does not denote that the aforesaid gentlemen are no longer honourable ; the connotation is with reference to ministerial portfolios held when the aforesaid protests occured. The ‘S’ centricity of these protests is quite uncanny & could , going forward , inspire a post called ” Shoe Slap & Shirt ” to displace the hitherto “S3” space- domination by late Raj Kapoor’s magnum-opus .  There I go again with my customary digression !! Getting back quickly on track , suffice it to say that these individual formats of protest carried out by deranged persons in isolation  reflect meaningless antics  underserving of more than a passing & bemused attention. That BJP , the principal opposition in Parliament , attempted to legitimise  Shirt-Gate as reflective of middle- class angst against UPA merely reflects their bankruptcy of political finesse .

Protests have been in human DNA since pre-historic times . Lord Rama , so Ramayana tells us , was banished for 14 years by his polygamous father Dashratha , following a rather unique form of protest by his step- mother Kaikayee to get her biological son Bharat designated heir-apparent in preference to her step-son & rightful next-in-line Rama. There was no counter protest by Rama nor by his biological mother , probably because they understood the futility thereof  given  Kaikayee’s bewitching control over Dashratha’s decision-making dubiousness . In Mahabharata too , crown price Bhishma was forced , in the face of an unusual protest by his prospective step-mother , into a vow of life- long celibacy to ensure not only that his in-the-womb step-brother got designated heir apparent but also that his step brother’s progeny , yet unconcieved , would be the undisputed heir-presumptive .

Oliver Cromwell’s campaign culminating in Magna Carta , after a lot of blood had been shed to nurture the foundations of the British parliamentary democracy , is an example of protests turning ugly & violent but leading eventually to a sustainable model of justice & equity.  American Civil war  &  Boston Tea Party  come in the same genre of bloodletting protests in larger long term interests .

Contrarily , India , both pre & post-independence , has  had some highly impactful defining moments in Protests , mostly peaceful & sometimes metaphorically violent (such as the innocuous shoe polish blackened face at the sublime level , or laying siege for varying lengths of time, to restrict & confine the besieged person  ( Gherao  )  at a slightly elevated level of sublimity. Laying siege through Gherao or a variant thereof in a peaceful Dharna ( literally meaning squatting ) was seldom violent & was mostly embellished with a smattering of singing “old-fasioned, foot-tapping ,hand-clapping , knee-slapping ” songs with  ‘nary-a-note-in-tune’ . Instances such as the ChaddiGherao ( stripped down to underwear ) siege  at movie star Dilip Kumar’s villa on Pali Hill , Mumbai to urge him to return the Nishan-e-Pakistan , Pakistan’s highest civilian honour , conferred upon him by the “enemy”  have been few , far between , & at worst amusing .

“Protest” per se is not a bad thing .  To quote Abraham Lincoln ” To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” 

However , contemporary politicians appear to lack the art of  protest with symbolism , elegance , & innovative freshness . Ironic !! Given that Mahatma Gandhi , Father of the Nation, inspired innovative forms of peaceful , non violent & impactful protest across the world but was apparently not able to pass the legacy on at home : at least not to political dispensations of our times . Ironically ,  politicians across party affiliations do invoke Gandhi’s  name perfunctorily before launching shrill , cacophonous , & boring campaigns of protest .

The 240 mile Dandi march of Gandhi in 1930 , culminated in his lifting a lump of salty mud at the sea shore to symbolise a nation’s defiance of the British Raj & with this symbolism , Gandhi ushered-in his renewed “battle of Right against Might” to “shake the foundations of the British Empire” ( quotes in Gandhi’s own words ) . Who can deny the Salt protest ( Namak Satyagraha ) its rightful place as one of most impactful mass protests in history of our nation. And, who can ever forget the emotion-charged Martin Sheen as  American journalist  Miller  in Richard Attenborough’s GANDHI , filing his report on phone of the incident at Dharasana Salt Works in dramatic telegraphic syntax : the only staccato reportage to have ever been read into official records of United States Senate 

Anna Hazare did show some early signs of reinventing Gandhian art of protest & though not in the same league as Gandhi , could have offered a meaningful platform for popular protest , but for eventual & inevitable derailment of his movement from within.

“It’s funny how social activists usually protest against the only things that  have a credible chance of achieving the activists’ goals.”
Craig Bruce ( Australian TV Comedian )

Anna Hazare’s campaign for a strong legislation to curb corruption , in retrospect , suffered from its inherent weakness of piggy-backing on successful formats of protest without correspondingly nuanced focus on finesse . Hunger Strke was a direct lift from Gandhian strategy . However , Gandhi never directed his extremely potent Hunger Strikes against the British Raj nor as a tool for emotional blackmail . Most , if not all , his Hunger Strikes were directed at introspective atonement for personal failures & collective failures of his misguided followers . Gandhi’s  inherent moral authority over those he led brought them around to his ways. Neither Anna nor his key aides command the moral authority of Gandhi to carry a Hunger Strike to realms of mass remorse & course-corrections. ” I am Anna” emblazoned Gandhi Caps worn by his supporters were obviously inspired by ” We are all Khaled said”  campaign to bring to book cops responsible for killing in custody  of  Egyptian activist Khaled Mohammed Saeed as a precursor to Fgyptian Spring of 2011.  ” I am Anna” caps did for a while catch the imagination of masses in galvanising protests against institutionalised corruption . The mutation , post the split in Team Anna , to Gandhi Caps emblazoned with ” I am Arvind ” is laughable & contemptible ( no protective disclaimers needed when it comes to Arvind Kejriwal , the joker who thought he could be the King of Spades )  .

And yet , all is not lost . Whilst Political formations across party lines in Gandhi’s land appear to have forgotten the art of  peaceful yet impactful protest , the proletariat have displayed remarkable courage of conviction in recent times to protest as no one has & created impact leading up to their stated goals. Khandwa farmers’ JAL SATYAGRAHA ( Protest in Water ) in August 2012 illustrates this. Fifty-one farmers , not led by any politician , spent 17 days immersed neck -deep in the reservoir of the Omkareshwar dam till an otherwise indifferent State Government of Madhya Pradesh was forced by power of their truthful courage to address their rehabilitation concerns ( till then neglected despite a Supreme Court direction ) .

Opponents of Kudamkulam Nuclear Power Plant tried to imitate Khandwa Jal Satyagraha by threatening to stand immersed in sea till their demands were met . Their protest however  fizzled out : perhaps because the sea , unlike a reservoir ,  has to contend with tidal ebb & flow .

I have often wondered whether  disruptive protests through  past several sessions of our Parliament could have been better & more effectively choreographed . If BJP, the principal opposition  in Parliament were to wear surgical masks & maintain pin-drop silence during parliamentary sessions , in protest against the UPA Government’s arrogance in power  , instead of disrupting proceedings with shrill , incoherent , & cacophonous sloganeering , they could perhaps have embarassed the Government & shaken its very foundations , rather like Gandhi in Dandi. Instead , they came through not exactly smelling of roses !!





Innovative protests in this day & age of  multi & social media exposure do genrate some interesting Protest banners & signs. An innovative protest sign in this genre is from Arab spring in Egypt 2011 :

Occupy Wall Street ( OWS ) symbolising income inequalities in the “We are 99 %” slogan  has consistently produced meaningless protest signs with little or no impact . That OWS movement has survived despite absence of any focussed agenda  is quite incredible. It probably manifests an underlying frustration at societal inequity without any focussed redressal . NYPD cops continue to earn USD 56,000 per year whereas  Goldman Sach CEO continues with his USD 56,000 per day . Poor who have nothing to eat have not resorted to eating the rich. Signs with such messages  appear to have turned the movement frivolous

Protest , as the dictionary tells us , is etymologically derived from a conjunction of two words in Latin : Pro meaning  Publicly , & Testari meaning Assert . To protest or to publicly assert , one must have a subject of public interest , with larger good of the public at large as the goal post , & a well thought out strategy to reach the same , under leadership that has clarity of vision , mass appeal , & charisma to carry a campaign through .

One looks forward to a Pune-produced stereoscopic 3D animation film in mid October called Delhi Safari A story about a group of animals from the Borivali National Park in Mumbai :  a leopard cub named Yuvi ,  his mother Begum ,  Bajrangi the hot tempered monkey , and his anger management guru , Dr. Bagga the bear , who decide to submit a petition to the Government in Delhi  to restrain builders & developers from encroaching their natural habitat in the National Park. A protest in front of the Parliament in Delhi is the goal. The motley group includes  Alex , the parrot who can speak & understand the language of politicians in Delhi.  The movie records their journey & adventures en-route & in Delhi

  Indeed : “In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.”
   Phil Ochs ( American Protest Singer ) 

Cheers & atb

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IDP Guru Nanak And I

We have done it again : apart from winning the under-19 Cricket World Cup for the third time ( Great !! ) & carrying parliamentary debates to TV studios & street corners ( not so great !! ) , we have made it to the top of yet another global listing of the wrong kind.  This time around we share top honours with Turkey in a study undertaken by a Norwegian agency , of Internally Displaced persons ( IDPs ) , or Domestic Refugees , for ease of understanding, amongst nations which are not torn by war nor any man -made turmoil nor by Mother Nature’s fury . Over 400,000 Indians have been classified by this listing as Internally Displaced Persons . That is a staggering 334 persons in every 1 million Indians !!

The aforesaid news brought back memories of a very nice painting of Guru Nanak that has adorned the walls of my parental home over the past several decades : in fact for as long as I can remember , as a symbol of my late mother’s faith in “being human”. The uniqueness of this painting , apart from the fact that this was amongst her most prized possessions , is that Guru Nanak’s compassion filled eyes appear to follow your movements to every corner of the room . As a kid , I often used to run around the room & test out the accuracy or otherwise of my mother’s faith that one was always in the Guru’s direct & compassionate gaze. The result was always a resounding yup !! The right palm , symbolising “Ek Aunkar ” or “There is only one GOD ” in all five elements , often kept me off mischief as a kid , as though Guru Nanak , with a direct look-see on me , had raised his right palm in a ” You just watch it kid !! ” admonition .

What , one might wonder , is the connection between a Guru Nanak painting & Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs. The connection lies in that the painting with the 360 degree benevolent vision has in fact been an Internally Displaced Painting or IDP , each such displacement being closely associated with Events & Non Events in the Kanuga clan.

In Bungalow 43 in Digboi  it had the pride of place in the Dining room , primarily because the Drawing Room was a circle ( we called it “Gol Kamra” or ” Round room ” ) & had no straight walls to hang any pictures , leave alone the painting of the presiding deity.

The move to Bungalow F-1 in Duliajan ( # 1 denoted my late Dad’s hierarchical position in the fiefdom but I never did figure out what F denoted ) saw the painting occupying a pride of place in the finally straight-walled drawing room ( we continued to refer to this also as the “Gol Kamra ” or the ” Round Room ” primarily because old habits die hard !! ) .

Post Dad’s retirement , we moved from one accomodation to another ( # 303 Mayfair Gardens , # 901 Mayfair Gardens : both in Kolkata , followed by # 6/4 Lajpat Nagar New-Delhi ) & were ourselves Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs in a manner of speaking , living out of suitcases. Throughout this period , the painting was safely crated with other family jewels , awaiting a final resting place in Dad’s retirement home then under construction.

And then , almost a year later , in the fall of 1970 , the Kanuga IDPs moved to their final destination in New Delhi , an address I oft quoted as my Permanent Address till subsequent events decreed otherwise   ( in India it was customary then to have a Current & a Permanent address to qualify for a  Ration Card or LPG cylinder , or a Telephone connection !! ) .

I vividly remember the animated discussion between my late parents about where the Guru Nanak painting should be displayed in the new Kanuga home . The arguments for & against each proposed location can be the subject of a nice long & wholesome post some day. Suffice it to say , for the present, that the decision finally arrived at was to have Guru Nanak’s benevolence on the main wall of the front balcony , keeping a roving eye on the comings & goings about the front entrance & blessing those within,  every time they ventured out, specially to enjoy the winter sun. The benevolent Guru Nanak seemed not in the least perturbed & continued to bless our “permanent” address as He had done over the years during our IDP days .

But then , as the old saying goes , nothing is permanent : everything is transient with a facade of stability !! And we were soon to discover this when the post- Indira Gandhi  assasination civil disorder  of October / November 1984 happened. Guru Nanak’s painting was once again in discussion & prudence warranted not displaying one’s Sikh faith on the front balcony for all to see lest a Sajju or a Jaggu or a Bhaggu should lurk in the wings quietly marking his next game. In the Alibaba & 40 thieves tale , the solution lay in chalk-marking each door so as to neutralise & confuse the marauding gang . The prospect of adorning  each neighbourhood  balcony with a Guru Nanak painting was so bizzare that it never really merited a discussion. Prudence prevailed over bravado & the benevolence of Guru Nanak was quietly shifted from the front balcony to the Drawing Room , which is where, in my late mother’s opinion,  it rightfully belonged from way back in 1970.

And that is where the Guru Nanak painting rested , for several years , watching over the events & non-events of the clan . My mother passed away soon after , her Chautha rites presided over by the benevolence of the Nanak painting , &  years later , my father , in his sunset years , was often seen looking at it , as though engaged in a private tete-a-tete on the years that had rolled by.

On one of my infrequent visits to my once “permanent” address , about a year after my Dad’s demise , I discovered that Guru Nanak had been replaced by Mother Teresa on the drawing room wall : Mother Teresa ,  with compassion in her eyes , I was told & could not but agree ,  & a palm extended in the aft direction , as though symbolising a ” you are free to leave if you do not approve of the change ” gesture : a thought I diplomatically contained within myself !! . I figured out the reason for this change , without ascertaining the cause & made my way to the Pooja Room to pay respects to my old friend , the much displaced IDP , in His final resting place. He seemed pleased to see me ( but then His eyes always denoted utmost compassion for all  ) & had the right palm up , not so much in admonishment as in an embalming gesture , as though to tell me , as a fellow IDP , that a person or a painting can get physically displaced by the force of circumstances , but internal displacement can be neutralised by directing one’s focus away from so called permanence of addresses towards faith in the Five Elements symbolising  Ek Aunkar.

I have been a displaced person all these years , living out of suitcases , but the feeling of being internally displaced is kept at bay very successfully.  As I approach retirement in 4 to 5 years from now  , the search is on for a retirement home ( the apartment in Mumbai was always a stop-gap & given the unplanned chaos that the area has witnessed in the name of development it can not possibly be a peaceful retreat post- retirement ). If I do finally find a good retirement home for myself , I will for sure lay claim to the Guru Nanak painting & take my old pal in as a benevolent companion in my sunset years , with the pride of place in the “Gol Kamra ” .

Cheers & ATB

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Veni Vidi Vici Rishi

I return after 10 days during  which  a lot has happened in the realms of events & non-events . Most significant in this collage has been the arrival of Rishi Kanuga , on 10th August , in London . This one therefore is for you, Rishi : Veni Vidi Vici because I like my blog titles in trios , & tagged to your name because Vici rhymes rather well with Rishi ( except to those who pronounce Vici to rhyme with Ricky !! ) . Most importantly it reflects a hope that having arrived , you will see & conquer ( metaphorically of course ) the world .

First things must  always come first ( that I presume, is why they are called as such ) & let us therefore go through the Welcome address .

Hello there , Rishi Kanuga . Delighted at your arrival . A warm welcome to the Kanuga clan , as its youngest member . I once held that title for decades together & was dislodged by your Dad & others , in quick succession . The incumbent Title holder has had a long reign, also counted in decades . You, my friend , are now the title-holder , with no serious challenge on the horizon .

Let me take you on a tour of some of the Events & Non-Events that marked your arrival , pal , suitably updated now that you are already a little older & wiser .

Big Bazaar hyper markets in India announced a 6-day ” Maha Bachat” festival which closes tomorrow. That notwithstanding, food inflation stayed rock solid at 11 % . Monty , the sirdar at the Planning Commission rushed to Washington to learn new ways & means to challenge inflation. I went on a 3-day training programme at Sun & Sand to learn nuances of new management tools & am busy with a dissertation for the next 30 odd days . Mery Kom won the boxing-bronze & Sushil Kumar a wrestling- silver at the Olympics in your neighbourhood , to take India’s Medal Tally to an all-time high of 6 ( wow !! ) . An incident in Mynamar caused rioting in lower Assam & led to an ugly incident in Mumbai last Saturday. Peace is threatened as a result in Pune , & the Hyderabad police has gone on a preventive high alert . The Government in Delhi meanwhile appealed to all trouble makers to stop doing things unbecoming though commonplace in the country , & went on to announce free mobile handsets for the 400 million officially poor in 12 months & electricity in their homes within 48 months ( handset chargers thereafter ?? ) . A 70-year rope weaver & a 65 -year cobbler reacted on the telly  that they would  prefer food to mobiles : a clear case of ” if they dont have enough at home to eat , let them use a mobile phone ( to order Chinese take- away !! ). Baba Ram Dev ( your grandpa will tell you all about him when you have a moment to spare : right now, quite understandably , you must be kind of busy gurgling your Hi there’s & making new friends ) went on a fast  probably because he is not officially poor ( quite honestly he himself does not appear to know what he is or is not ) &  the Govt , therefore, did not offer him a free mobile . The main Opposition in Parliament went ballistic ( it is not clear whether they too want free mobiles or are genuinely aligned with the Baba or merely want to make an ad-sum noise )  . The Government was accused of having lost its way ( your Dad will read you a story one of these days about a certain Alice in a place called Wonderland who did not know where she wanted to go & was told that she could therefore take any of the several paths in front of her to get to nowhere in particular !! )

To cut a long story short , several seemingly unrelated events & non-events more or less coincided with your arrival. Where’s the connection , you might wonder !! . When you are a little older & read a fascinating subject called Physics , you will come across  an exciting theory apart from the rather dreary phenomenon of falling Apples : the Theory of Chaos . Simply stated , the theory correlates events & non events as non-linear outcomes of seemingly unrelated occurances. For example, India’s Industrial output fell by 1.8 % because mine went up by 18 % .

In the midst of this chaos , one prediction needs to be made. Through your growing up years , back home in India , cobblers will cobble while rope weavers will weave ; Big Bazaars will announce discounts , while Holy men & Yoga teachers will go on fast/s ; Government/s  will  reduce poverty by re-defining its thresholds & by occasional empowering freebies : may be free internet will follow free Ring Ring !! ( to order Chinese take aways on-line ).  And yet, as you gurgle or scream as is your right ( more likely gurgle with joy after gettig featured in my blog )  to demand attention , you could in fact be announcing your arrival to place such disjointed issues & desultory non-issues on notice , so to speak. There is hope yet that our Medals Tally will go up , or our Governments will cease to be directionless , or that poverty will actually get eliminated without re-definitions & so forth. You, pal , have challenges ahead of you : challenges that the preceding two generations  of Indians , including me, chose not to confront .

God bless you young friend

Cheers & ATB

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Thank you

Having completed 6 weeks of blogging & 23 blogs , I reviewed the Blog statistics this morning & was not disappointed . On the contrary I felt encouraged , elated & perhaps humbled . Many thanks for reading my blogs : it means a lot to me. Must share some key stats till now :

  • Total readership cumulatively : 787
  • Average readership per day : 4 in June ; 18 in July ; & 43 per day so far in August .
  • Highest / Lowest in a day so far : 62 & 4
  • Readership from countries : India , UK , Ireland , Sigapore , Kuwait , Russia , & France
  • Most read post : Three Wise Monkeys

A BIG THANK YOU once again , & cheers for now

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My temporary absence from the scintillating world of blogging has come to an end.

My inspirational “trio” ( remeber Three wise Monkeys & Three Judgemets !!   ) is back to complete a Trilogy .

First the  RIP : dedicated to someone who  famously described himself as a           gentleman bitch .  Gore Vidal is no more. I watched the Hard Talk re-run on BBC of a four-year old  interview with the just deceased , wherein his acerbic witticism visibly made the otherwise unflappable interviewer seem uneasy . I am not well read enough( nor  widely-read to be honest !! )  to write anything meaningful about Gore Vidal’s works . I knew of him as a novelist , a story writer , an essayist , & a political commentator but had read none of his works . What I did know though were some of his outrageously funny quotable quotes , which always come in handy , often as uncredited one-liners . Herewith some of these , aptly applicable to the world’s largest democracy wherein we participate , perform , & produce ( sorry , there I go again with my penchant for digression but this one was irresistable  !!  )  .  I am referring to democratic processes & not to what one-track minds would think !!

Coming back to the RIP dedication, who would imagine that he was referring to America & not to our very own India in his ” Half the people can’t read a newspaper , & half will not vote . One hopes it is the same half “.  Or in his somewhat snooty  ” Public figures can’t write their own speeches. There’s some evidence that they can’t read them either “.  Team Anna , in the euphoria of wanting to enter Electoral Politics , must take note of his warning ”  at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests ” .  Or the daily rant of most tax payers reflected inThe genius of our ruling class is in making a majority of  people —–   drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.”  How , one wonders , could he have known about the NDA – UPA hyperbola in our lives when he ascribed to Democracy the quality of giving us  “the feeling of choice like painkiller X  or   painkiller Y :  both just Aspirin” Cheerio Gore Vidal ; RIP .

The WIP  in this narrative occured when I drove  2 kms to a new Hair-Spa ( in my pre-HNI days I would visit the friendly neighbourhood barber shop when in need of a hair-cut & a vigorous scalp massage called ‘Champi’ orchestrated by the latest Bollywood number blaring full throttle from a precariously old radio ) . The hair therapist  at the Spa ( I thought they were called Barbers ; or Hairdressers in slightly up-market establishments ) spent over 10 minutes helping me through their Menu ( I wasn’t ordering a meal , hungry as I was ) to what he expertly believed to be the most appropriate treatment for my hair. The process started with a trim here & a clip there . Half way through these prelimineries , a certain religious fervour overtook  the therapist , & he excused himself to break his day-long  fast in response to his  ethereal  calling , leaving my hair & me as  work-in-progress so to speak , in no condition to stage a walk out in protest ( one sideburn trimmed & the other in wild disarray might be trendy only if sported  by a celeb ) . I amused myself , instead , through a vivid recollection of  the common sight of half tonsured WIP generated by  accredited barbers at a popular place of worship down south , by accosting unsuspecting pilgrims only to abandon them as half-done  captive demand awaiting completion of the tonsure, to accost more gullibles  : a clear case of two halves being grater than one full in revenue optimisation .

Finally , VIP  here refers not to any VIP but to my favoured brand of vests & boxer shorts  In the madness called the Phoenix mall , all global brands , differently priced , some shockingly so , were on display to the inexplicable exclusion of VIP . And that too , in synthetic fabrics & loud colours : whatever happened to the near-universal preference once upon a time for white ribbed Egyptian cottons.  A long & tiresome search finally produced results , albeit in a brand called MIP . May be there is a message there for one to move up in the hierarchy of needs from  very important to the most important .

Cheers for now

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