Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What do the stars say?

4 stars --> New York Times

3 stars --> Times of India

Going by this trens, NYT should have recommended baghbaan as a must see. Any Americans who can confirm?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Traffic Policemen…

…in Bombay wear coffee coloured trousers, white shirts, angled blue caps and direct traffic very vigorously; one gets the impression that they either care a lot for the city and want to see people get home quickly and thereby keep the arterial roads clear, or they get an absolute high by making vehicles move at their command!!!

…in Bangalore wear coffee coloured trousers, white shirts, a white hat with a strap around their jaw and direct traffic with a lazy wave of their hands or in regal aerobics fashion. One gets the impression that they want people to take it easy and relax in the Garden City!!!

…in Delhi wear blue trousers, white shirts, a blue cap and are generally unseen at traffic junctions. One only gets the impression that they are not traffic policemen, but traffic observers; or worse, a vehicular density counter which feeds information regarding density to the digital traffic signal counter!!!

Orhan Pamuk's Nobel acceptance speech

Prior to this, about six years ago, I had tried to read a re-print of Erwin Schrodinger's Nobel Acceptance speech published in a magazine called Resonance, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences. It contained all his head-spinning equations with lengthy explanations. It really psyched me out and I used to wonder ‘How on earth can anyone tolerate Nobel speeches?’

As I write this, I have just finished reading Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Acceptance Speech and to keep it simple and honest, I am speechless. How beautifully has he weaved through descriptions of his personal and professional personalities; his present and past; his fears and joys and most importantly, himself and his dad!!!

The beauty of this speech is that it is a thanksgiving speech, a memorial speech, a ‘wish you were here’ kind of speech and a journey down memory lane kind of speech all rolled into one. And believe me; it takes enormous talent to do that!!

Orhan tries to trace the defining point of his life which set him on the course of writing and zeroes in on the handing over of a suitcase containing his dad’s notebooks as that defining moment. And yeah, Orhan’s dad redefines the dreamy-introspective-chillax attitude!!!! You rock, Orhan Senior!!!

I loved some of these lines, and its an honour to have it on my blog; so here goes

Selection I: I love this because it describes something I used to do as a kid after my father returned from any trip:

“I was already familiar with this small, black, leather suitcase, and its lock, and its rounded corners. My father would take it with him on short trips and sometimes use it to carry documents to work. I remembered that when I was a child, and my father came home from a trip, I would open this little suitcase and rummage through his things, savouring the scene of cologne and foreign countries. This suitcase was a familiar friend, a powerful reminder of my childhood, my past,”

Selection II: I love this for the way he defines writing:

“A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.”

Selection III: I love this because it breaks away from certain paradigms of ‘possession of literary skills’

“The writer's secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience.”

Selection IV: I love this for the DEADLY FUNDA factor:

“My confidence comes from the belief that all human beings resemble each other, that others carry wounds like mine – that they will therefore understand.”

Selection V: Why does Orhan Pamuk write? This is his reply,

“…….why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can't do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life's beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can't quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.”

Way to go man, and of course, congratulations on your Nobel!!!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Great Debate.... decide the best metro in India must end. Delhi wins hands down. Madras, Calcutta and Bombay, all British legacies can slug it out for second, thrid and fourth spots. The clinching arguments are in this article, in The Frontline and are reproduced below:

"The city's development plan has earmarked lands for gardens and playgrounds
within the city limits. These are being de-reserved at a phenomenal rate. As
Chief Minister, Sharad Pawar de-reserved 285 plots; Manohar Joshi 300 plots; and Narayan Rane, in his eight-month rule, de-reserved about 180 plots, one of which covered 660 acres (264 ha) in Mankhurd (an area that was severely affected by flooding with water rising to 12 feet). Vilasrao Deshmukh continued the trend. Sushilkumar Shinde de-reserved 67 plots. All these put together would perhaps amount to almost 50 per cent of the space for amenities. On paper, the
development plan's amenity spaces ratio is 0.2 acres per 1,000 population. Of
this, 82 per cent is taken over by slums so that the actual ratio is 0.03 acres
per 1,000 population. This is the lowest in the world. By Indian standards it
should be 4 acres per 1,000 population. If you take international standards it
is 12 to 14 acres per 1,000 population. The other metropolitan cities, Delhi,
Chennai and Kolkata, have a ratio of about 4 acres each."......

which means that Bombay gets the wooden spoon, leaving the great east coast cities, Calcutta and Madras to slug it out. My wish is that Madras become the second best city.

I would also recommend you to read this article in The Hindu Businessline about the need for open spaces. The following extract says it all:

Open spaces are therapeutic. All cities and towns need green spaces as much as
other amenities like hospitals, educational institutions, roads, and public
chowks, stated the court. "Health of the residents is directly related to the
ratio of built-up area and open area, inasmuch as in a congested area, the
occurrence of respiratory ailments is much more compared to the places where
there is sufficient balance maintained between the built-up area and the open
spaces. That is the reason these green and open spaces are called lungs of the

Also check out the following statistics from the same article:

The court cited a few global statistics to show where we stand, assuming we have at least standing space! "The ideal ratio recommended for the open spaces for
Mumbai is 4 acres per 1,000 persons. New York has 5.33 acres of open space per
1,000 persons, whereas London has 4.84 acres per 1,000 persons. On the contrary, when the study was conducted in the year 1970 the city of Mumbai had a shocking 0.03 acres of open space per 1,000 persons, whereas, today, the ratio would be 0.015 acres per 1,000 persons which should be approximately 540 times less than the minimum recommended."

I also love the judgement which is being referred to in the Businessline article. There are references to Aldous Huxley and Shakespeare.

So, whats my ideal city? It would be one having the infrastructure of Delhi, the weather of Bangalore and the life of Bombay. Let me just call it Ideal and sign off with my dad's words, "Ideal does not exist in the real world. Ideal is only in your mind."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My state of mind

Is similar to what is written here

In his classic book Normal Accidents: Living With High-Risk Technologies (Basic Books, 1984), the sociologist Charles Perrow describes a day when everything just goes wrong. You lock yourself out of your house, leaving your car keys inside. The spare, normally hidden, house keys have been lent to a friend, and your alternate ride, a neighbor's car, is in the shop. A strike has shut down metropolitan bus services, swamping the taxi fleet. On and on goes the litany, and in the end, you miss an important meeting. Perrow then challenges the reader to name the cause of the foul-up. The answer, of course, is everything and yet no one thing.

This came in an issue of IEEE Spectrum. Well, my state is not exactly the same, but some turmoil of the same type is in my mind. I'm losing the mindgame, and I better do something fast.