.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} <$BlogRSDURL$>

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


So, after an exegetical narration of the Sports Quiz, we turn to the shenanigans of the General Quiz. After an eternity sorting out teams, realizing painfully that we were well short of chairs/seats, the Elims began for those brave enough to still hold out. This was at about 11 PM, remember ! Four member teams invariably engender incontrovertible bedlam and enjoin upon a participant to consult not one, but three worthies—which can be a problem if the propinquity of a member of a rival team is higher than your own partners’. ( Which reminds me of a family member asking me famously during a football match if the players knew whom they were passing to ) .

Again, the usual ad-libbing from the QM in lieu of question papers, and maintained a commedable width. We sleepwalked our way into a Finals spot, again missing out on some gettable ones but not paying for ’em. Grabbed a sandwich and a hot cuppa during the break, which could anyway be insufficient for a heavy diner. Settled in to what would be a mammoth affair as there were eight teams on stage and twelve rounds meant a whopping 108 questions. (Ed-That's 96!)We were assured that dawn would break before we were through, as indeed it did !

The pace of the questions and the vibrancy ensured that there would be no birds who turned in early for the night. We drew Spot 7, and eventually ended up fourth –Teams 1, 6 & 8 garnering the medals, so perhaps another bout of subdued caviling against the D & P. I only wish we could blame that for the mess that we got ourselves into !

A mixed sprinkling of finalists—Delhi & Bombay, ensured that there was ability on offer to match the nip-and-tuck of the QM’s arsenal. There was more than an element of attainability in most topics as questions were composed, framed and recited in a blaze of what is called “emotional memory” in the Method school of acting ( Ed:-I see, the association with Vibhendu is noticeable !).. Although we fluffed a few and hence were perhaps never in the reckoning for Top Dog honours, we more than redeemed ourselves with a few decent gets.

Now to two aspects which stand out—One was that although we were familiar with the overdose of cooked “kitchen” questions, their arrival during the Finals came on with the suddenness and intensity of a summer downpour. Our hitherto steady radars careened over the sails, as we got sucked into the annoying and unfruitful vocation of poking fun at the questions, and their specious origins and applications. What could have tipped us over could be that very early on, we got questions on subjects that we felt rather passionately about—athletics and Shyam Benegal, that were patently wrong. What made matters worse was that one of the winning teams managed to get the answer which the QM had. I let myself down too as in my obduracy, I refused to heed my partners’ invocations to simply focus on the next question.

The second is that for once, we aimed higher rather than lower , and lamented. Let me explain—Throughout my quizzing stint, I have encountered situations when I’ve said Malivai Washingron, and the answer has been, say Krajicek. Or said Ravi where it has been RDB. So consciously, we had programmed ourselves to give more popular, more known, more feted answers. For once, the shoe was on the other foot as time after time, we erred answering Marquez when it was Llosa, and Alex Haley when it was Alice Walker (an example). Another technical adjustment which we only realized towards the third quarter, a tad too late. Anyway, held on gamely for third till we were pipped to the post.

Now, for the Day of Disillusionment at JBIMS—a whetting quadruple event melee with Literature, Sports, General & Business quizzes on display. Again the whom-to-partner conundrum, for Sports, as Saif made himself available against odds.

Even as I was my physical worst—stoned beyond recognition, the Lit event began and the excruciating agony of having to look up at the screen to read the questions. Material was primarily a biographical litany, as we put ourselves under considerable pressure as we groped and grasped. Could have made it to the Finals with greater ease. As stated earlier, this was one event that we had wanted to win, as both our collective interests, proclivities and inclinations lay in related areas, and we thought ourselves equipped to handle most facets of the field. Not to be , as questions intransigently focused on literary biography, and stayed there. Just the odd India question, as a cursory analysis of the questions would reveal a marked bias for the years 1850 to 1925 with a preponderance of The Continent- Russia, and France vying for top honours. We found material on libidinous nocturnal habits, trigger-happy tyros, parsimonious writers as Literature was jettisoned casually, and Literary Biography took its place.. The Connections questions were all repeats as our collective ignorance of the classics cost us dear. Although, we admittedly muffed some sitters, this was easily our worst performance as we had a Dracula day. Nothing went right—we didn’t find our range, didn’t combine at all, and we didn’t even get what we knew. Terrible show on a loved topic !
Kunal and Nikhil won deservedly.

The Sports Elims began ( Finals held back to back) with Sameer taking over from Vibhendu, again leaving the latter to Saif’s wiles. Some passably decent questions as personally, I had never doubted our qualifying. Made the cutoff by a long way as our analysis revealed, we got a grand 1.5 out of the first 10 on our first page—F-1 and other excrescences engendering three majestic half-pointers, and raked in 12 of the next 15—tennis, football and cricket. Strange set up for the finals as two IR rounds were divided by a (needless) AV Buzzer Round. Did okay in both IR rounds but were walloped by a resurgent SVCE team(the Univ Challenge champs, I'm told!) on the buzzer, our aging reflexes shown as they creamed all teams effortlessly. And the Buzzer was the difference as they won in a canter, facile win. On our part, I can say that I did not like the questions, as they veered between the commonly trivial, or the forcedly arcane. The width was depleted, seldom moving beyond the obvious sports and hence the overall quality palled.

The General quiz post both finals was soporific, skewed and a yawn-fest as the questions took our breath away with the imbecility and warped logic. Our adamance in not moving closer to the screen ensured we drew a blank in the Visuals, a sanitised Zero on eight. Some heinous factual errors in the Elims ensured a complete apathy to the results, and we assured ourselves that even if we had done our best, that would have not been enough. The Finals, as we watched from the tramlines, were framed thus—These are four pictures, , three connections, ten points ,two connections, five points, and so on..
Revolting !

The Business quiz was a rehash of the pinkies, most who qualified were students.. Didn’t last till the finals as we packed in an unhurried tiffin and scooted.
( For best results, concatenate with post dated March 15, 2005 )

For those still here, this will be followed by a post on various statistics of the past Elims quizzes--so if Graphs, Charts, MS Excel sheet is your thing, then hold on.
So Help me God !


Thursday, April 21, 2005


As promised, I will endeavour to put a lid on the quizzing memories before they scatter leaving only Hope behind…

Some caveats— I will try to be as less opinionated and as objective as possible, can only carp on what we attended, could quibble on a few areas that I feel strongly about ( Ed—which means your above resolution will last about twenty words), and will maintain plurality of thought, purity of expression and poise of the writ word…

Wokay, Heave Ho….

—For starters, let me confess that I had forgotten what this was called. (Quiz-o-Mania-) We arrived late, walked into the middle of a hall that had clearly been a happy and prosperous laboratory once. Chairs that understandably groaned with my girth. Missed too many sitters to have any hope of qualifying, but thanks to the outstation quota , made the cut. Of course, watching simian capers on a wide projector during the break was a novel experience and we must thank Salil and Team for that. The elims were a decent mix of trivia and detail, and can remember a few well-crafted ones too-a more than healthy guessability factor.

The finals began with my pet hate—having to look up at the screen to read the question which took an average of twelve and a half slides per question.
Also, the first time we encountered the famed kissa kursi ka drivel—have never thought that seating in a mattered, as long as one was comfortable ( I was not ). Still, we felt right at home—it’d been well over four years that I had been to a regular quiz. It didn’t show as questions were to our liking—a preponderance of India and we cruised through the first few questions. I even remember feeling ashamed at answering the Chariots of Fire thing—waves of nostalgia etc. Felt the Duke and Kookaburra difference right away in the second half as we choked for breath, and saw others catch up. A tremendous surge by the other teams culminated in a mad scamper, as Gaurav & Sarika triumphed. I still aver that on the basis of parameters that I value, Meghashyam & Kunal should have won.

In hindsight, this quiz was definitely imbalanced because on the way home, we counted quite a few questions that all teams could have nailed, and hence that skewed the balance. I felt the sheer quantum of data churned up on a few questions would have done biographers proud. Increased the probability of being answered but detracted from the competitiveness, perhaps but I am painfully aware of my minority status in this regard. (Also, felt that there are some chestnuts which each generation perhaps discovers on its own and provides its own spin to them without realizing that what they have stumbled upon is as old as the hills- so the younger teams may miss them but anybody with a decent quizzing vintage can get it. Case in point- Onida Devil. .The second half was littered with more such questions as against the first half which had a larger share of original questions More Examples- Kafka, Potboiler, Pu-La. )

Overall, all teams performed to their potential and that was winsome in itself.

COEP—A return to the mansion where the Engineering saga had begun a decade ago—those mosquito-infested fronds still hum with human blood. A nice campus, though foisted on unworthy cribbers.

Again, we traipsed in late and none the worse for wear. Found the elims extremely tough , struggled through and were pleasantly surprised to find that we had qualified..Was even more intrigued to find N S Sreekant, a classmate of my sister in KV Southern Command , and whose father had once been classmates with mine in Medical college., on stage.

We were sandwiched between Ramanand & Harish, and Amit and Sudarshan. The latter were in some cracking form, and not since Akshaya Kamath days have I been as awe-struck—the nonchalance, wonderful powers of comprehension and recollection, the masterful ability to link, deconstruct, absorb and reveal, that sweep and range—Wow ! We scrapped our way through an endless list of being granted half points, and were lucky to edge Shivaji and Vivek into third. I can state that that was a brave performance as we could have wilted much earlier, the questions not being in our league at all.

The effort that had gone into questions was palpable, most subjects were referred to ,and the trivia-lising of most topics was complete. I felt a distinct lack of India-oriented questions towards the end of the quiz, and that jarred. Quite reminiscent of days of yore.

I am not sure of some video questions which went —the pictures are in order 1, 2 ,3 , 4 …. But the question is Connect—picture 2 to picture 7, then 3 etc—very frustrating sometimes.

Overall, a good effort which somehow everyone kept comparing favourably to that of last year—cannot say !

A silhouette of an analytical framework of Elims will be proffered soon.

NMIMS—Possibly, the defining night of this season.
Had grafted in all my buddies when we heard that there was a Sports quiz. The inculpable Vibhendu was unceremoniously dumped in favour of Sameer and Saif. This was before we were told by a glib lass at Reception that the eliminations would happen before the finals ( Ed—These clever blondes !) , which in itself was a contrast to what she’d said earlier—That the quiz would happen, on stage without even knowing about the existence of the Elims concept.

The most important thing that she said was we would have two-member teams for Sports, which meant that I had to choose. And sadly, I had to leave Saif with Vibhendu.

Now, if you’d asked me at the beginning of the season about quizzes that I’d be happy winning, I’d have unequivocally picked the Parnab Sports quiz and the Literature Quiz at JBIMS . Did not win either, with mixed feelings.

So after a dizzying Hindi Song competition watched by youngsters who made me feel my age, wistfully, the Elims began. 81 teams battled in pathetic writing conditions as Parnab first stormed in, silenced the Smart Alecs, exhorted them to the rules of his quizzes and began. The more I think about it, the more I realize the stupendous width he purveyed, the depths that he probed and of course, his startling mise-en-scene, a man without a cue card.

We missed a few as we managed an 8 on 29 to qualify, the highest was a 9, so we were fine. We realized, as we were to come to grips with the ineluctable fact, that both Sameer and I were severely handicapped unidimensional parochial quizzers. I mean, both of us do not follow F-1, Basketball, Baseball, NHL, NFL, Golf, Billiards, any form of Rugby, Motocross, X-Games among others. So I can only marvel at the grandeur of our ambition that we actually thought we could win with this very thin tapestry.

What Sameer has is an unsullied love for what he does, and of course that he knows me better than almost all.

I loved the range—a love for the unfamiliar as we were swept aside and for one brief compelling hour, perhaps all of us on stage did an ET-like romp in the sky, far away from the cliché-ridden records, person-based trivia that enjoins most sports questions. Parnab also drifted well past the TV-based nonsense that pass off as sports questions these days.

I remember feeling ecstatic that for once, lesser known footballers, athletes, golfers and the ilk finally got their seasons in the sun. I even remember remarking that we managed smooth sailing keeping just ahead of stiff competition till the last round, inspite of hardly anything really our ken coming our way.

Of course, my petulance, irascible temper and acerbic tongue were all on display as a prosaic Sameer archly told me that I had not really changed over the last two decades—I fly off the handle, and he brings me back to terra firma. A human interest story in the middle of a hotly contested affair !

The contest was fought on a Direct and Pass method, and perhaps that, and a factually incorrect question on the back of a quirkily worded question ensured our not winning. Like the mythical Karna, I faltered on women’s tennis, of all things, but in mind I stand exonerated already.

Many therapeutic and pranic ways of looking at what was an unmistakably cathartic experience—we could have won, should have won—in three different ways on the last question, we could have polished it off much earlier. Had it been IR, we would have won as we answered more anyway and so on…

Heartening-- our final tally showed a larger percentage of answers from sports that we don’t like, or follow. Most importantly, being able to actually team up with Sameer, on a sports quiz, in Mumbai—all added to frissons of excitement that I had reckoned was past or beyond me. And yes, our performance wasn’t all bad either.

A painful realization was that we had never shown any proclivity to answer quickly a la Ganguly. We found ourselves harried and hustled , unsettled by the frenetic pace of the questions Parnab asked, but to our credit , did not make one false move. Eventually, we ended with a handful pointless “Good Guess” proclamations from the QM ( pun intended)

Interesting that I should have felt enthralled and elated after the Sports Finals, when we should have been livid with ourselves for not winning Gold ( we won Bronze !). Perhaps the searing flames of ambition have fizzled out….(Ed—Did they ever exist, After all. Indolence is your middle name)

( To be continued…with Vibhendu’s inputs)


Friday, April 15, 2005


Long and happy years spent on the shore of a studied avoidance of most authors Indian, and of that dreadful expat material churned out by folks who have frittered away their their lives somewhere between St.Stephens, Oxbridge and the States/Europe. It’s time to bite the bullet (Ed- itself a decent book by Ajit Haksar) , and wade into untested waters

Of course, I had cut my teeth on his tepid prose on the tsunami—a troika on his experiences with the survivors, terribly banal and steeped in mediocrity. At the some time, I had some glowing tributes on his other fictional stuff. Yet I glowered !

Decided to crossword this book, was intrigued by his use of a singular incident to build what was yet another non-fictional read for me.

“Dancing in Cambodia” is based on an account of the Royals of the land –King Sisowath visiting Paris along with a posse of dancers. and his cortege. After a hurried recapitulation of the event itself, the ease with which Parisians were bewitched by Royalty ( Ed—and you thought after Marie Antoinette… ) Ghosh then moves the narrative to link to what perhaps should have been his theme, survivors and their tales. He speaks to and of a number of persons, who in some way embody the intertwining of the stories. His character study of Chea, a famous dancer and more importantly, Pol Pot’s close relative, who was taken to the Palace is revealing. Significantly, Ghosh spends a great del of time mulling over the ideological and intellectual metamorphosis of Pol Pot from an inconsequential nerd to a chilling mass-murderer. Much of this appears to stem from influences during his studies in Paris, under the tutelage of one of Sisowath’s Ministers in Paris.
Ghosh is also evocative in his dealing with survivors in a land clinically devastated by Saloth Sar ( the relatives that Ghosh meets allude to Pol Pot by this name and have no inkling of the diabolical vengeance against the middle class that he has wreaked ), referring to them as “rag-pickers, piecing their families together…”

“Stories in Stones” is about the symbolism of Angkor Wat in the collective consciousness of Cambodia, and how it is omnipresent in its unremitting imagery in all walks of public life, except religion. Also that although most associate the monument with hoary splendour, it is actually its modern allusions that the natives adore.

“At Large in Burma” uses Aung San Suu Kyi who is personally known to the author ( that wretched Oxford connection) as a focal point of the narrative that touches upon the enigmatic Asian country’s insularity and it s consequences on subaltern experiences. Ghosh intimately examines the essence of the armed struggle, against a truculent SLORC ( the military-led junta) and its personifiers. He also elaborates on the Indians whose lives have been touched by living in Burma, his own ancestors had roots there, and their levels of integration and amity with the natives. The most interesting part was about the Karennis, a minority near the Thai border, their futility in inveighing for a separate nation state, and lived as such, against feared opposition. Their definition of putative freedom also touches a chord. Also, his averring that Suu Kyi was more dynamic , more lively under house arrest than when she was freed,and that her optimism is increasingly stoppered by a more realistic resignation, is a departure from my understanding so far.

Ghosh thus tries to proffer an understanding into the terribly intricate webs of South Asian polity and populace, by holding up lives of everyday denizens as a beacon of enlightenment and hope. He also hence surfaces some views on the psychology of violence, and almost ironically, a pointer to the emergence and sustenance of a united nation. It seems to carry the ungainly and unwieldy baggage of a writer striving to be politically-correct

A 6 on 10 !



Salman Rushdie visited Nicaragua for three weeks in 1986, and his recollections and observations form the bulwark of this work. Avowedly non-fiction, the book reads like a travelogue sans the jaw-dropping disbelief at meaningless grandeur and instead divides itself into smug, self-contained chapters or essays, which themselves have an element of fulsomeness and completeness.

He briefly dips into the past informing the reader of the decadence and subsequent overthrow of the despotic rule under Anastasio Samoza, and the murky past that buried the nationalist Augusto Sandino.

Rushdie’s purported lack of objectivity—he is an invitee of the Sandinista government, is annulled by his own sensibilities, interpretations and nay-saying on most issues. He is excessively concerned with the lack of press freedom, which considers the imprint of a true state. He meets several political bigwigs and enlivens their motives, fears and plans. All this in the wake of the onstreperous hegemony meted out by an unrelenting Big Brother, that most evil of nations, Uncle Sam. Under Reagan who blissfully disregards the Hague ruling against him and views the annihilation of the tiny nation as a personal mission, Contras—an Army that is “ imagined, created and armed” by the USA keeps up military incursions against a hapless land. Against such mighty forces, President Ortega, Foreign Minister d’ Escoto and others muster up forces and populist support against the aggressors.

His visiting and living with actual Sandinistas, who are busy trying to live up to the lofty ideals of the Revolution give the narrative an unmistakable appeal and allure. His surprise at finding poets at every turn ( but no novelists ), admiration at the fortitude of the persevering, bewilderment at the cant used publicly are evocatively described. He visits the Miskito, Sumo, and Rama indigenes in another part of the country whose alienation has not abated and sympathizes with them.

One of his more open works, his concessions to health, sentiment and emotions find an unwilling path to the reader, and he is balanced in his steady critique of the US Government His engaging the reader is masterful and wit more than a dash of wry humour, barbed sarcasm and oblique references.

Found this a decent read and Rushdie tolerable. Just wonder what would have been my opinion if his view had been pro-US, though.!

A 7 on 10 !


Thursday, April 14, 2005


OK, thanks for all the good wishes and queries about my health.

Just got back last night after a frenetic three days in Madras, which of course meant that I had to endure two flights against medical advice.

The scalpel-wielder has given his verdict, which is that I require surgery followed by seven days of rest. At any time of my choosing, but sooner rather than later. Incessant pre-operation protocols too—so some suffering involved.

Remember thinking of two things as the doc spoke—that for all my brouhaha, I have never really gone under the knife so far, or even been hospitalized.
In all my working days, I have taken a grand total of four days annual leave. And now I need seven !!

Gham aur khushi mein farq na mahsoos ho jahan
Main dil ko us muqaam pe laata chala gaya


An untrammeled existence devoid of the pestilential pieces of putrid plastic that answer to the name of credit cards, spare a brief but torrid affair for just over five months, is in grave danger of coming to a jarring end. An officious and importunate salesman, bless ‘em, they are the salt of this planet, wormed his way in past my stolid defenses and got me to sign somewhere. Following which the mandatory Courier lad showed up at my office today-all spry and ready to reel the unsuspecting fish in.

He quickly and efficiently recited his list of which I was peremptorily asked to supply any one and hostilities would cease.

Not so fast.

Company ID ?
I don’t bring it to office. Why should I ?

Ration ID ?
Hmmm !

Driving License?
Can drive….people nuts.
Can’t drive, hence no license.

Voter Identity Card ?
I’m devoted, but have never voted.

PAN Number ?
I am a pan-Indian, and that’s it.

May I check at your home?
Please help yourself, nobody but me lives there.

This is going nowhere—you have to show something !
How about my visiting card.?
No, that will not do.

We hit a diplomatic impasse.

Ok, can you please please bring your company ID tomorrow ?
Yes, just for you, I will.

After all , Tomorrow is another day.


Monday, April 11, 2005


Two paths diverged on a dingy building,
I wept cos’ I couldn’t take both, one dull and one spellbinding
I stood there, craning my neck this way and that
Till the bumbling masses on my shoulder said Scat’!

One led to the Talwalkars’ arcadia
The signage said “Ladies buxom and shapely are made here”
A thought started to spring but I niftily nipped it in the bud
That I was already overweight from chewing too much cud
Although I am off beef, broth and beer.

I turned a surly eye to my left
Where a score awaited, some with a cleft
I had been diag-nosed with undecipherable complications
That needed rest, rupture and even hallucinations
So I nixed the Talwalkar idea and sat bereft.

Someday, I know I’ll say this with a sigh
Because even as I write this, poetry does die
Two paths diverged, and I took the one more dreary
That did very little to make me cheery
That’s still better than my getting leery.

(Ed—Thanks Pablo,that should make it to the TOI Book page ! )


Thursday, April 07, 2005


This supposedly scintillating debut by Monica Ali had been eluding me for some time. The story is simple and stark-a Bangladeshi girl of eighteen is shepherded to marry a middle-aged gent living in England. The girl keeps in epistolary touch with her sister who contrived to move from one catastrophe to another . The protagonist then falls in idyllic love with a renegade immigrant in London. The husband decides he’s had enough of prejudice and class differences and he wants to go back with his family-wife and two teenaged daughters to England. His family reviles his intent , they stay back and he is last heard off from Bangladesh.

No vacillating about the certitude and the mastery of the author over her subject—an emigrant’s gaze on how life passes by in an alien setting and the haunting inaction as one attempts to contend and surmount what are essentially irreconcilable differences.
She manages to get into the skin of the lead character, who mercifully is not an angst-ridden monster, but a warm, caring and sensitive individual. Her averageness, her plain Jane-ness is her strength and hence that is a steady frame of reference for the plot, without delving into unseemly crests and troughs across the years. It is also this strength that suffuses others around her, sometimes without thei realization.

Now, the faraway sister is the more adventurous, at least in amorous terms and is hence always getting taken advantage of in Bangladesh, and this itself can come as no surprise in a repressed land. Her missives to her sister explaining as her life unfolds is all that we know of her, and for some reason these are written in halting pidgin English. My hunch is that these were meant to be in Bengali but Ali had no choice but present these as English. Consequently, these are the most contrived and affected of all the prose.

Her daughters are fashionably fussy, modern and pert—although Ali maintains a fine balance by having one lass politically correct.

Her friends range between the Johnny-come-lately and the austere, again some social commentary at play here.

Her husband was by far the best characterization achieved—his innate inferiority is masked and shrouded by a militant zeal for knowledge as he rails against a system not built for him. His gentleness and perspective keep the family afloat, and although (because ??) he is a:”loser”, he appealed to me.

Much more could have been done with the younger lover, his gasconade, heroic predilections and manliness are prized, but fade away as things become murkier for him and his sensibilities.

The plot is steady, unpretentious, subdued and seasoned. She does never quite get going though, so the lack of originality gnaws and is yet unrequited at the end of the novel.

A 7 on 10 ! (Just so she doesn’t go the Amit Chaudhari way )


My first serious book ( read-non-fiction ) in some time, and it showed. My ignoble and appalling lack of even the author’s name, Sham Lal ( because apparently I don’t read the TOI !) sobered me and that slight diffidence stayed throughout my read.

Since it is a collection of articles and reviews which have appeared as columns in various publications, it is futile to dwell upon the variety of topics covered and elaborated upon. He speaks intelligibly and volubly on Indian art, sculpture, cinema, literature , politics, and nationalist streams of consciousness. There are more specific essays that typically stretch on to about a thousand words.

He chooses a subject and its intent, analyses it and threshes it out at great length and then finally moves unhurriedly and firmly towards a conclusion of some sort. The writing Is expansive, explanatory and exhaustive. It does not read like a treasure trove of information as it verily presupposes that the reader is already aware of the subject under scrutiny. With my understanding of the superior intellects of those TOI readers, I imagine that on an average about 6 people in all India would have read it.

Liked the oeuvre, width and tone—disliked the artistic depths plumbed


Picked up “Stallion of the Sun” by the renowned U R Ananthamurthy, an avant garde exponent of the Modernist school, in a febrile endeavour to mitigate historical excesses (read go Indian ).He writes in Kannada.

It intrigues and pains me that I may actually be closer to Western mores than I imagine, albeit repulsive and dismissive. As always, I am inured to the big bad ways of urban ways, and immune to the welcoming rural rhapsodies.

These stories span across about four decades and that alone surfaces the metamorphosis in URS’s take on events and affairs. This can be deprecatingly referred to as the purging of an embittered soul towards a conservative “humanist” approach sardonically referred to as slowing down, too.

The titular “Ghattashraddha” chronicles village matters where a young widow finds herself pregnant and is ostracized by her own kin, seen from the viewpoint of a ten year old relative to whom she is a friend and confidante. Interesting narrative although URA does not go really overboard a la Caulfield/Christopher (circa Haddon) . Almost as if he resiles and quails.

The story that made me most reflective was one called “Clip Joint” which wrestles with the turgid dissonance of an Indian student and his classmate who has successfully entrenched himself in the West. Are things what they appear to be ? Nice theme.

Stallion of the Sun” by itself was wan and withdrawn-not a gripping or incisive read. Very clearly the hallmark of a mellowed writer who has toned down some of the acerbic barbs, appearing less truculent and more tranquil.

The stories were on the discursive needs for co-existence between rationality and a simple faith. Again, URA’s wisdom in not appearing apostate or rescinding shine through. Those tales are more statements, not yarns.

It piques me that the publisher, Penguin, or the translator, Narayan Hegde should choose this as the title of the book where there were clearly more worthy contenders.

I am told that there are other works by URA, most notably, Samskara that bear notice. All it needs is overcoming inertia and force of (bad) habit.


Saturday, April 02, 2005


Returned to the terminal after having listened to a pressure cooker whistle, painfully counted to five and then turned the stove off, acting faithfully to my mother’s instructions. That’s what a calm mind, a fine intellect and a discerning perspective can accomplish—if we set our minds to it.

Also hopped off to the doctor’s place today, who stated what I’ve suspected all along, I need sorcery, I mean surgery. The trouble is, until then, I have to live off colourful capsules, and variety of other drugs which will addle my clogged brain still further. I’m waiting—might get a Kubla Khan recited to me. ( I know I’ll have to wake up then ).

Have waited for a long time to adduce what could change the face of the Earth as we know it.

It’s a known occurrence,at least in India, that people shove, jostle, shoulder-push ( which is just as ungainly and unsettling as a regular push, but because it is demonstrated on heavenly lands where the Great Game of Football is played, it acquires a holy halo ) , smooth-talk and slime their way for everything, it can be disconcerting to view this rather plebian visual spectacle when a flight lands, despite the earnest entreaties of the attendants. I am not able to place a finger on why this should worry me so much, where I am perfectly accustomed to this elsewhere.

Will let this other nuisance of “Hello—yes, yes, the plane has just arrived, I have landed in ####, I am at the airport” confabulation in all the 832 dialects of India , ignoring the attendant’s warning to keep that infernal phones off rest for the moment. After all, where else could the caller be after taking a flight—in Shivaji Park, atop a local train, or Madh Island ? Beats me, anyway…

Returning to the thesis findings and conclusions.
The assumptions are that—it is a heterogeneous flight with no handicapped passengers, the entire load can be accommodated in a single batch, and passengers have no more than the ordinary dosages of chicanery, and Huganay-esque predilections.
( Assumptions are for mathematical elegance and classical simplicity )

Perhaps those who shove, j., s-p., s-t. & s. their way, fitfully forget ( or ignore, I know not) that merely getting to be the first off the craft is not enough, cos’ there is invariably a bus that halts peacefully to carry the heathen to the nearest orifice for a process called “ disembarkation” –I’m sure that this hideous word is not in the OED. Right, so passengers get off the flight into the waiting bus. Now observe carefully, since this is not the meritocratic of places, unlike a ST bus, local train, or a six-seater, those who get in have to waddle with their wares into the interiors of this stated bus. And those flagrant ones who enter later will balefully stare at those who get seats on the vehicle and stand next to the battery-operated door.

Now, after taking about two hours to traverse a distance of a hundred metres, this vehicle comes to a screeching halt at the above-mentioned orifice, where, Now Look Here, the person who got into the bus last, “ disembarks” first. Which means the careless swagger and indifference of the last boarder was rewarded, where the ill-intentioned shenanigans of those who s., j. s-p., s-t. and s. were not. Which means those lose actually win. Which means, the plaintive edicts of a million mothers to unwilling children, is defied openly. Which means, the world as we know it, changes, nay, transforms.

The answer to the Life, Universe and Everything Else remains 42 .
(Ed- What is the question ?)

Yeh manzilein hain kaun si, na who samajh sake na hum


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?