Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Death shall have no dominion

This is the most stirring experience. Check it out. It’s long, four videos, but it should make a difference to your life. Dr. Pausch, you're an awesome person.

(Off ABC News.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Very desultory

After two mornings spent vegetating, I’m just about going out of my mind with boredom-compounded-by-lassitude. There’s a heap of things I should get done, but I don’t have the gumption to get up and DO them. For further irritation, rediffblogs is down again and my other blog with it. Garn.

But … do any of you know that feeling of finding again a favourite piece of writing you thought you would never retrace? The Rupa Laughter Omnibus, edited by Ruskin Bond, has its flaws (including too much Bond, f’rexample). But it also has Richard Middleton’s The Ghost Ship, a little gem of a tale I remember from a childhood book of sea stories. There was a time I used to hum Sodden Fairfield, sodden Fairfield to myself when I was feeling down. And the daft boy’s little story of the parrots-whose-language-was-awful is one of the best short-shorts I know. I’ve linked to it. Enjoy.

And will some kind soul direct me to some regularly updated site for good time-pass reading? Bloglines, Cricinfo, the NYT, I’m getting a little sick of all of them.


Good night and good luck

Unbelievable. They did it. These kids did it!

I was wary even after Yuvraj’s blitz. Even when that Moy-Danab Matt Hayden was carving air, ball after ball from Sree. Then that over from Joginder Sharma when Matt and Symonds started connecting, I thought it was the beginning of the end and started the drive home. When I switched on the telly at home, surprise! Oz needed 22 to win from 5 balls!

That catch by Yuvraj (and his caveman roar). Two wickets in the over for Joginder Sharma. Beating Australia in a semi-final. After Pakistan, England and South Africa. When do we wake up?

Even before we won, this match was a special experience. Yuvraj batted like .. well, for me, only one man is The King. Isaac Vivian Alexander, Smokin’ Joe, the Ultimate Blastah. Tonight Yuvraj laid a finger on his throne. It wasn’t about the sixes, not the pull with which he opened his account, not the one he flicked off Brett Lee. It was the attitude, the utter confidence. I don’t know what he’s on, but he should try more of it.

India’s fielding. Even the return catch that Bhajji dropped in his second over. That would normally have been a four against an Indian fielding side. Harbhajan nearly made it a wicket.

And Sreeshanth’s bowling. Beating Hayden for pace at least 3 out of 6 balls, bowling 4 overs for 12 runs and 2 wickets. Go, Mallu, go go!

Just for the record, the match was sweetened by pastis. On ice, with a squeeze of lemon. Very very good. Superb food cooked in-house by the people who run Eu Chu. For those who don’t know this place on Ganesh Avenue, please don’t bother. We’re more than happy to keep it to ourselves. Good Cockburn’s port after dinner, with a pipe of MacBarren, drawing well. And friends of three decades singing Tull, S&G and the Beatles while T* played the guitar. Life is good.

Good luck for Monday, boys.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Bombay - bloggers, blues

The far wall is a palette of greys. Picture window, framing clouds sky sea rain air road. All grey. Shades. Crows like scraps in the wind, trying to land in a tree with clumps of large vivid green leaves. Rain in the air, glimmering on the ground, on the newly paved sea-walk along Marine Drive. Across the bay, the jagged-teeth skyline of Malabar Hill rises from a tumulus of green. Three dogs strut along the sea-wall in single file. Three men in singlets run the other way. Two men, standing in a tiny red and white boat, do mysterious things among the waves. A couple under one of those bright seven-panelled school umbrellas, bright amid the grey. And a horizon where the pensive sky sighs into the sea.


The previous night, in the Sports Bar at Phoenix Mills, was a stark contrast. Well, perhaps not stark. Mellow, more like. In the room people came and went, but I didn't hear anybody discussing Michelangelo. Demands centred round beer and sixes. I sat in a corner with sundry Bright Young People whose numbers ebbed and flowed.

Before one Mr. Y. Singh obtruded on our collective conscious, the conversation was wide-ranging.

· The intricacies of marital and extra-marital fidelity, with special attention to shameless flirting. ('Shameless', apparently, applies only when the flirting is Directed at Men because the only fidelity worth the name exists between females. Don't ask. I didn't.)

· The natural orbits of B-school graduates. With and without lungis.

· How weird is jute? (This was repeated at intervals despite a Ban on Talking Shop.)

· How exactly does a vada cut? (By the time we left, there was a common consensus among the girl-children that the vada did cut it, thank you very much.)

· Marxism crept in, from echoes of his opening line to T.S. Eliot – 'Tom, I had no idea you were so handsome!' - to 'I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have ME as a member.' (We refer, of course, to Groucho, not Karl.)

· The Most Formidable Girl-Child was very silent. One feared the Lull before the Storm, but apparently it was just exhaustion. (On three wheels, presumably)

· Whether Rama’s (yes, the famous bridge-builder’s) first name was Aiyyo. And whether he had an unknown brother named Aiyyiyyo. (We have no claims to serious research. Well, research perhaps, but serious?)

· The Ubiquity of Udupi. And thayeer sadam as comfort food, also why it is not available in Lower Parel.

· Ambitions (or the reality) of World Domination, since e-Bay AND Google were represented at the table.

· How men are like blogs, insofar as they can be put up (or put up with) and shut down.

· India as the world's richest source of ethnic jokes (or adhnik jauks, aythneek jokes, uthnuk joks etc.)

· Having to produce ‘virginal certificates’ for vaarrfikayishun at Anna Univaaiirrsitee.

· Who had the raspberry vodka? Umm OK, that wasn't really a TOPIC, more like a revelation. The other realisations were that A Man is as funny in person as on his blog. And that one should not comment on people who stop at nothing e.g. throw truck-loads of popcorn.


My first meeting was at 11. We reached early, went through Trial by Negativism, packed up and were out by quarter past. Back in my room, I should have sorted my papers and packed my bag. Instead, I sat by the window with more coffee and watched a wan sun soak into the sea-scape. Then checked out with a wistful backward look and joined the rush towards the airport. Onwards and upwards, so to speak, but with a pit-stop at the site of the previous night's carouse to make the acquaintance of a tender cow (cf: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe). Bombay gets better each time I visit.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Three weeks or thereabouts. Hectic travel, sudden summons, day-long meetings. An evening in Delhi that stretched into the wee hours, ending with the retrieval of a cell-phone. A spiral staircase up a 60-ft tower, leading to a honeymoon suite - children not permitted because the railing on the staircase has large gaps. A winding evening highway at 100, the road lined and outlined with bright reflectors that put me firmly back in 1979, thrilled by the first arcade 3D car games. A would-be MP in Business Class, pulling up page after page on his laptop to explain why the Hyde Act is pernicious.

Walking down from the 8th floor of the Chennai Secretariat, each landing is a sudden flowering of women in bright saris, flowers in their hair, seated in circles upon sheets of newspaper in front of the lifts as they eat their lunch from round steel dabbas. It seems such an orderly and bonhomous arrangement that nobody grudges the lifts being shut down.

The Hotel Dupleix in Pondicherry, stone floors and period furniture, louvred windows framing bougainvilleas and tiled roofs. The meal was superb – fresh seafood platter, fried fish crumbed in ground curry leaves, duck in a local variation of brown sauce, a risotto and lasagna (there were four of us!). The duck, in particular, was a revelation – tender, almost flaky, succulent, complemented by and not drowned in the spicy sauce. Dessert, alas, was cold, dry and crumbling. And contrary to what I had heard, there are no local wines.

Then the summons that put paid to my plans - of an evening on a roof-top in the sea-breeze, sipping from my nip of Smirnoff green apple flavour. A hurried return, three bleary high-pressure days handling a workshop and Visitors from On High, the satisfaction of not having allowed any grounds for criticism, a sense of unfairness at an unjustified rebuke but stifled in the interests of long-term peace. And preparing to party as soon as their flight took off.

This weekend is particularly sweet.

(We may return to our scheduled programming over the next few days.)