Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Smiles and Cries

The title above has been shamelessly stolen from a film. OK, new game. The first person to guess correctly (the title's context) wins a day's supply of Ravalgaon toffees...


I know, I know, I know. I'd promised myself to stop posting... to even stop thinking about posting... But that was many-days-ago, and this is... many-days-later. But why post? Because I feel like. Because, amongst the arcane things I read today, were the following: 1) how western philosophy is an 'onto-theo-erotology', and 2) absolutizing relativization (as "a way beyond the dialectical double of the relativization of absolutes and absolutization of the relative" -- still haven't figured this out completely :-( )

Hunh? My reactions exactly (more so to the second, actually.) I spent a few minutes trying to explain these two phrases, but the result was an unending digression. Hence, edited them out.

Why this post, then? Because in this seemingly never-ending bleakness, two events/experiences reminded me that amongst the phenomena I like the most, the smile probably occupies the top spot. Others in that list are: the smell of a wet earth after rain, being able to cozy up and read on cold winter afternoons, and receiving sms's at midnight :-) Thankfully, this is a list that doesn't remain static.

This was
maybe some time last year, during one of those extremely relaxing and memorable conversations that can be had only with some friends. The type of meeting/encounter when people are at ease not just with each other, but about themselves. Catching up, enjoying the time shared; voicing worries, confiding insights, discoveries and joys.

She told me that no matter how unhappy or disoriented or weary she was, seeing the faces and smiles of children would immediately, magically, almost necessarily feel better. When it was mentioned sometime last year, the words really struck me. It was one of those things about friends that makes me feel more-than-happy to (continue) know(ing) them, to be confided in/with. Incredibly (because we very rarely get to do what we feel deeply about), her work now concerns child labour and education :-D

As importantly, this was (in) an atmosphere incredibly different from some of the noisy hustle bustle I've been exposed to recently... Empty (club) conversations - the type that revolve around repetitively exclaiming "Hi! Haven't seen you in a long time! Really crowded here tonight, na?" The pointlessness of these phrases is reinscribed each time these exchanges occur. Somehow, they're always conducted with people who formulaic responses can't be heard over the jarring music/noise. :-(


It was this expression and feeling of joy that I remembered, on seeing these photos/posts at BoingBoing a few days ago:

The story detailed a takeover of earth by invading robots. Human resistance, organized by the not-yet-youth, was fighting 'forcible assimilations into robot consciousness.' (sic.)

Notice again, the toll this heroism is exacting on the young 'un. See other images and accounts here, here, and here.

Caught Memoirs of a Geisha a few weekends ago. Before anyone points out the many differences between the way the film is implemented and how the book moves, here's something interesting. My experience of the concept/narrative was of first seeing the film, then reading the book (thank you undernet!) , and finally, seeing the film again. What's happened now is that I'm able to visualize, in terms of, with and because of the film, those sections that are missing in it...

The film's visuals and aesthetics were incredible. Later while wondering about what would constitute, for me, a "representative" screen grab, I realized it could be none other than a moment from one of the film's turning points, the encounter on the bridge.


  • An essay I discovered, titled "The Death of Conversation."

  • "0wnz0red", about a future in which people hack the mechanisms and code that runs their own bodies. Contains subtle clues about why, in my opinion, the West will fall over the edge, in a generation and a half's time.

  • After spending a year and a half dressed as and pretending to be a man, a woman plans to write about it.

  • "O Saint, we can see..." - an analysis of the most recent suck-rifice...

Monday, March 20, 2006


As was once said, "So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it."

I'll be back later. In august, most probably. Until then, the Calvin and Hobbes graphic in the previous post pretty much sums up my state of affairs.

You are of course welcome to browse the archives... puraani yaadein taaza karne ke liye and all that..

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bheja Fry

Currently/recently, and in no particular order...

Thursday, March 09, 2006


<> Recently, been experimenting with a shift from Google to A9. The former has been described somewhere as going from "do no evil" to "do know evil." But what about A9? [... calls] it 'a trojan horse.' Disturbing :-(

<> Some really great writing I stumbled across, on the relentless pain of street harassment. The excerpt is in hope of compelling you to read the essay:
"Some things, you learn to expect, growing up a girl.
You expect to confront harrassment as surely as the sun in May and the fog in a Delhi December.
When you leave the house, an invisible snake of alert suspicion will wind down from your shoulders down your back and become a clenched fist in all public spaces, through all journeys.
You didn't always expect to do this, of course. One learns these things, by and by.
Some things, you learn to expect (relief is always unexpected).
Therefore, you will be very pleasantly surprised when a man takes the seat next to you, and actually leaves two inches breathing space between you, instead of pushing so close that the windowpane leaves marks on your forearm.... All the same, old habits die hard, and you will spend the journey with a clenched fist balled up somewhere in your shoulderblades, because, you never know when he'll start acting up, do you?
You will also feel miserable when the well-behaved one gets down two stops before yours - it's too much to expect two well-behaved men sitting next to you on a single trip.
But no matter how much you steel yourself to it, sometimes, you will still get reduced to tears."
[go to the essay]
<> (via SM) China's Strategy of Containing India

<> (via wgaf) The Dark Side of China’s Rise

<> Woot, combining the sale of (questionable?) electronics with incredible humour, daily.

<> Anyone know a place where there's weather like this year-round? Tell me, and I'll start planning a move.

In celebration of the kind of truly bizarre and exhilarating weather, I'm Singin' in the Rain, as Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head regardless of Kubrick's butal and incredible 'use' of the song in A Clockwork Orange.

(Added later) and exulting on reading this :-)
When your chin turns out, and up, to meet the gulpworthy crisp air...
toh samajh lo, dilli mein raat baarish hui hai.
<> From RSJ's list of gigs,
"EXODUS... is coming to Calicut... will be playing at Cherootty Memorial...Time: 7PM onwards // Entry: Rs.100 per head... You can carry in your own booze. The event will be produced by..."
'Carry your own booze' ? Hmm/Wow.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do

[I have a feeling I've used this blog title before...]

Last week, weary, overthunk, and generally suffering from neuron-activity overload (not really - 'wait till the work really kicks in', I'm telling myself), I tuned into the most recent feeding-frenzy generated by the media.

1. No, not the Budget or its saturated aftermath.
Nothing's much worse than a smirking ' I'm smarter than all of you (combined)' Chidambaran ('Chidu' to his admirers.). Actually, there is. Him being convinced that a potent cocktail of liberalism and good ol' mai-baap-sarkaar'ism will take the economy down the path of 10% growth. "Now the poor can participate in the benefits of liberalization and globalization," the minions can be heard chiming.

Sure they can - but there's always the Haanth. Promise me one thing: not to ever be fooled by it. Oh, I (wish I) could go on about the Haanth (in post-independence Indian politics) and the hand (in 20th century western philosophy) forever.

2. No, not 'Jessica'.
Seeing photos of the march/ers (it/they were quite telling...) at India Gate made many things very clear.

About indignation - "how can this happen in a democratic country?" About the loss of sense - "how can this happen when there is the rule of law?" (Or, is there?) About helplessness - "how can this happen to someone like her?" (By extension, that becomes 'us' and 'me'.) About rage - which sometimes, in this country, is of the manufactured sort. Let me let you in, on a dirty little secret: its symptom is an empty, and deeply mocking trend, most visible with TV: "SMS us now at [catchy four digit number], to express your sentiments."

SMS. To news channels that cater/pander to Sec-A. Think about it. Citizenry is so frail, so far-removed, and so non-consequential, that hope is all that's left. Hope, in the possibility of the powers-that-be bending to and changing at the sound of a cascade of SMS's being received.

[I read an essay about this phenomenon once. Too bad I don't remember when, where, or what the larger argument was. Now, how's that for feeling helpless?]

Ever seen a film called 'Training Day'? Here's a sequence in it that flashed back to me:
Jake: What happened was murder... and armed robbery. Wait, we had badges, so it's different?
Alonzo: Open your eyes, son. Can't you see?
Jake: That man was your friend, and you killed him like a fly.
Alonzo: Why is he my friend, because he knows my first name?
3. No, not.... [Damn, can't remember a third example. Media feeding frenzies seem like three day spells of bad weather. They happen, and then, all of a sudden, they're not there. And when they're over, you're only left with a faint memory of it all...]

[To finally reach the spark this blogpost was begun with, and why it's titled the way it is.]

4. Yes, Bush.

"Will he?"
"Won't he?"
"Will we?"
"Won't we?"

"How will this affect..."
"What are the implications of..."

"What can we expect from..."
"There are apprehensions that..."

Call it the consequences of overload, but being a good social scientist, I've mastered (in this episode) what all good scientists must desire to predict and control: the future.

See, after a while, it got easy to predict what would flow out of Bush's sewer-hole. Some choice phrases, for your esteemed consideration
"Replacing a politics of fear, with a politics of hope."
"Spreading freedom into the darkest corners."
"Democracy and opportunity."
"We will bring these killers to justice."
Some phrases I didn't anticipate
"We must answer the call of history."
"Some people don't want to change."
Suppose Bush went back to school (without buying into the phoniness of that manufactured American neo-spendfest, "Back to School" season!) I can't help thinking he'd be a really good student - not research level, mind you.

In a way, he already is (back to school, and a good student too.) How else can his memorization of so many choice phrases and the tutored ability to recite them in varying circumstances have been possible?

A 'bet', if you're willing to wager: Bush is two thoughts and one uncomfotable press question away from saying, "but that's out-of-course!" 'Motherfucker needs to', in Derrida's words, "think beyond the book" - textbook, King James, or otherwise.

Since you've been getting bombarded with highly polemical reflections for paragraphs on end, some humour, to end our variety show for tonight. The following images were taken while Bush was in Pakistan.

[In small font, BBC's caption; in bold, reaction/s.]

After receiving instructions from the Pakistani captain, the president takes to the crease with a cricket bat.

I can't stop laughing. Maybe his actions are symbolic of being a fish out of water...

The president starts to get the hang of things, hitting the ball high and hard.

"Hai, gayi meri peeth... gayi saali."
In SepiaMutiny's words, "he maintains his trademark tight lipped grin in [this] photo..."

He then tries his hand at bowling.

"Shouldn't have had the chicken for lunch." (Was he there long enough, to fit a meal into the schedule?)

President Bush later admits he still has some way to go before becoming a capable cricketer

The question that confronts the world today... is not "WWJD?" but "what will Bush do?" Conspiracy nuts think he'll revoke a certain section of the American Constitution, and keep the throne for a few more years. Well, he's slipped to 34% in 'popularity' 'polls', so the amendment is a long shot.

Staying with precedents, the same way that Bush claims to have a direct line to God (who told him to invade Iraq), I happen to have a direct line to Bush (as is evident from how I was able to predict his words at the Hyderabad House press conference.)

He seems never to have been much of a student, despite recent performance leaps. Heck, fulfilling one American dream ("any kid can become the President", even a C student <--- Chris Rock reference) doesn't mean having to stop.

And, since I know what he's thinking, I thought I'd share it with you, dear reader. (Provided you keep coming back for these juicy nuggets.)

Acting and showbiz are the way forward. That's why he's practising his version of the Arnold Schwarzenegger grin.

P.S. Posted this as a comment at SepiaMutiny, but here it is again.

"Coomi Kapoor, in her weekly column on the low-down and inside info on politics in Delhi, writes:
"When informed by the Americans that President George Bush would like to participate in a very Indian pastime, the Ministry of External Affairs proposed that he watch a cricket match. Bush liked the suggestion. In fact, when asked by an Indian correspondent in Washington whether he would prefer watching a cricket match or a Bollywood movie, he came up with the pat line ‘‘I am a cricket person’’.

But though the idea came from us, Bush watched a cricket match in Pakistan, not India. The MEA is understandably miffed at the Pakistanis appropriating its brainwave. Still the Indian Government can take heart from the fact that while he was here Bush was too busy with work to have time for relaxation. In Pakistan, on the other hand, he had more leisure time, since he had little business to transact."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A(n Im)possible Inspiration?

Update: The comic strip is too wide (on my system) for the blogger template :-( If you miss out on the last frame too, click here to view the full image.

I noticed a disconnected, bizarre overlap recently. Examine the following image:

Then, play this video. It depicts a man "throw[ing] boiling water into the air in Saskatchewan during a typical mid-winter, -40c day.->