Friday, April 27, 2007

The Airport Crescendo

The 'tony' people who say that the Shiv Sena holds no threat have not seen them when they are celebrating a victory. If you see a Sena victory celebration, you will never ever make the mistake of doubting their volatility.

For an accurate description of the Sena, no book, not even Maximum City will suffice. You need to experience one of their assaults on your senses: either they make you perform sit-ups on Valentine's Day if they catch you with your GF; or make you tie a rakhi on your BF's arm; or be a victim of their celebrations or violence. Thats when the brute strength of the Sena hits you; its not a sucker punch that you will feel; but a full fisted IMPACT on your solar plexus!!!

I experienced one such assault on my auditory and visual nerves on the night of 12th April 2007. I had just returned from Nagpur; and on the same flight was a prominent Saffron leader . It was the same day, the saffron alliance had won the Ramtek Lok Sabha by-election. As one entered the baggage collection area to pick up one's baggage, the roars of the joyous Sainiks rang out in the clear humid night. The public address system of the airport cut a sorry figure in front of these enthused masses.

One exit gate was sealed off for the dignitary, with a police chain desperately trying to prevent frenzied Sainiks from entering the terminal. Bouquets flew like missiles and slogans; which, in an imperfectly co-ordinated manner obeyed the laws of destructive interference at the point where I stood to collect my baggage; were liberally let loose by the party workers.

It was only when I ventured outside that I could feel the full blast. A frenzied drum beating was in motion; transporting me to a 16th or 17th century Pratapgarh or any other garh where the Marathas would return after a victorious campaign. The battle drums were reverberating to the frenzied pounding; women party workers were trying to make their presence felt from the background and there was a vulgar firecracker display right outside the airport; believe me from the spot where you are allowed just 90 seconds to alight from your vehicle (not that this rule is enforced very strictly)

I was shaken out of my reverie by the arrival of my auto; soon another din was to welcome me --> that of the heavy traffic on the Western Express Highway. The transition from "Mumbai" to "the city that never sleeps" was swiftly complete.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thackerayan Logic

Suketu Mehta, in his book Maximum City describes that humans think in two ways to decide who they are -

1. The type of people who are able to answer the question 'Who am I?' and then arrive at the answer to 'Who is not I?'


2. Those who answer 'Who is not I?'; eliminate answers and then arrive at 'Who am I?'

Supposedly Thackeray and the Shiv Sena fall into this category.

Now, my problem is simple: I for certain cannot answer 'Who am I?'. Have lost my mental peace trying to do that. And, answering 'Who is not I?' has resulted in so many eliminations that the very essence of me is blown away!! Hell, something/someone in me is dying everyday; but yet the entity called ME remains seemingly intact. Does Bombay do this to everyone?

Only one solution remains. DEEPAK, STOP LIVING THE BOOKS THAT YOU READ !!!

Friday, April 20, 2007


Will India ever see such a versatile person like Girish Karnad?

I had written earlier about his play called Bimba... The Magazine of The Hindu carries an article on his first play in English called 'Flowers' staged at the Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, Bombay. A pity that Juhu is so far away from home!!! Might have considered going if there was good company; nay, make that SOME company!!!

Loved this extract from the report:

It is significant that the priest in "Flowers" worships with the same flowers,
the Shiva Lingam in the day and the body of Chandravati at night. In the end, in
a dramatic resolution of conflict, the two merge. Physical passion and spiritual
devotion become one as do notions of the male and female. When the king asks the
priest, "Does God have long hair?" Karnad breaks down gender assumptions and
what we have is a poignant soliloquy that questions and debates relentlessly
even as it shares with the audience, the character's anguish in conflict.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The great game

This is a term made popular by Rudyard Kipling in that wonderful book of his, which every teenager should read; Kim.

Now read Atul Aneja commenting upon the great game along the Silk Route.

The part I liked most was the deduction made by Lord Curzon, which I reproduce here....

Alarmed by the Russian advance, George Nathaniel Curzon, 29, who would one
day become the Viceroy of India, began a visit to Central Asia to study the
Tsarist intentions first hand. The first stop was Baku on the western Caspian
coast. From there, he crossed the sea by steamer and soon reached Krasnovodsk.
Curzon's travels took him to Merv, by then firmly under Russian control. The
last leg of his rail journey took him to Bokhara and Samarkand. After halting at
both places, he took the horse drawn tarantass, a typical Russian contraption,
to Tashkent.

Curzon recorded his observations on Central Asia in a voluminous book,
Russia in Central Asia and the Anglo-Russian question. His conclusion: Russia
was not building the trans-Caspian railway for the conquest of India. Instead,
its moves were directed at keeping its imperial adversaries preoccupied in Asia.
In doing so, it sought to protect its interests in Europe, starting from
Constantinople (modern Istanbul) in Turkey. Curzon's findings strongly shaped
British policy towards Afghanistan and Russia.

Read it here!!!

Why the BEST strike is crippling Bombay

-The strike has added a large number of private vehicles on the roads. Jams are very common. Half an hour journeys take upto two hours sometimes

-The scarcity of autos has to be seen to be believed. I have never waited upto 15 minutes to flag down an auto

-Long distance travellers are, to put it simply; FUCKED!!! You might say that they can use the train; but a direct bus is anyday welcome than changing a couple of trains.

But, there are some benefits too:

-You get to meet and make friends with many people by way of sharing autos.

-You end up practising the Scout Movement's principle of 'Do one good deed everyday' by way of dropping people at places which lie on your route home

But, at the end of the day, when you are resting your tired limbs and drifting off to sleep, is when you wish for a personal vehicle, least realising that you are going to add to the congestion which is directly gonna eat your time in getting to office!!!

Such is life!!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh Calcutta!!!

Once upon a time, not so long ago, when Bengaluru was still Bangalore; when the only non-Kannadigas to be hated (only during the Kaveri issue) were the Tamils; when IT had not yet reared its head; when it was not yet 2000...... there were only four metros in India namely New Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. It is about one such city that I shall write, the city of joy; the Indian football capital; the left bastion; the land of Satyajit Ray... Calcutta!!!

Come to 2007, Cal was the only former exclusive metro that I had not seen. Hence, it was with great anticipation that I waited for my week long training session to start at Cal from the 26th of March, 2007. I know, some of you may me saying, "Here goes the city crazy wierdo!!" Never-mind, Ich bin Wierdo!!!

25th March 2007

The Kingfisher flight from Bombay to Calcutta was on time and one of the airhostesses was stunning; heart achingly beautiful. Let me confess, there are some women who are so beautiful that your mind refuses to think about them lustfully. You wish that you can enshrine them in your heart, and treat them just like an oyster protects a pearl. And if such a pearl happens to be damn knowledgeable providing you with a wonderful overview of the aviation industry, you feel a strange kind of bliss!!!

But, I digress.

The flight landed on time and I was soon standing at the queue of the Bengal Taxi association to get a pre-paid taxi to Salt Lake. Getting a taxi booked is the easy part. The tough part is finding it in the taxi stand, wherein the onus is upon you to find the taxi. Fun, nevertheless!!

26th March, 2007

Training was done and dispensed with for the day. An evening's date with Cal waited. 6 of us just bundled into the good old Ambassador taxi and asked the driver to take us around the city and drop us off at Park Street. The long drive took us past Park Street, Howrah Bridge, Eden gardens, HQ of East Bengal; Mohun Bagan; Mohameddan Sporting and Writer's building. This was a day to savour and take in as much of the city as possible.

Had dinner at Kwality Restaurant, Park Street. Personal suggestion - the food is kinda OK, but service is poor. Some of my pals call it the communist way of service wherein every customer is treated with the same speed... SLOW!!!

27th March, 2007

Easily the best day of my stay. Went boating on a stretch of the Hooghly called Atramghat. (This is how I have deciphered the pronounciation. Any Bengali reading this may correct me if I am wrong; to be precise, it is the stretch of the river near the restaurant with a glass face through which you can overlook the river; also a railway track upon which the local to Barrackpore runs, lies along the river bank. There is also a ghat called Judges' Ghat). I have to thank my Calcuttan colleagues Soumak and Simran for suggesting this place and coming along with us. It was one of those boat rides where you could literally lie on your back and see the stars. Have to (mis)quote Coldplay, "...I look up I look up at night...and my thoughts move at the speed of light..."

28th March, 2007

This evening was dedicated to THE MALL, City Centre. Its a lovely mall, different from the others that I have seen in that, there is more open green space than shops. Drank tea from Kullads, spilt a lot of mountain dew on the floor of the KFC and bought a CD of Pather Panchali; which I have not yet seen.

29th March, 2007

Nightout time... only break was to have tea at a nearby tea stall. Delirium was the order of the night with pressure and time telling on us. Somehow scraped through.

30th March, 2007

Finished the training and went over to New Market. Located a good book store and purchased Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul and Snow. The owner is very knowledgeable and will help you out with the selection of books. Just look for Mohan's book shop in New Market opposite the Lighthouse Cinema. A short stroll brought us to the Esplanade metro station and at the spur of the moment decided to take the metro upto Tollygunge. One word about the Cal Metro - artistic!! Every station is based on some theme, something that is going to be adopted in the Bombay metro. Kaalighat has pics of Kaali, Rabindra Sarovar has illustrations of Tagore's poems etc

31st March, 2007

Left Cal with a heavy heart and arrived at Bangalore with an open mind ready to enjoy a week's vacation.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Vidharban tug at the heartstrings

Dear God,

I don't know what to say. Nagpur has started occupying that place in my heart which should be normally reserved for a girl!! Either I am a wierdo who falls in love with places or in your 'Great Game' you have identified a girl for me with a Nagpur connection.

I sincerely hope it's the second.