Rushdie Talk: Authors@Google

Authors@Google has some interesting collection of talks. I enjoy watching on of those once in a while. This video where Rushdie’s talks chiefly about The Enchantress of Florence, is another charming exhibition by the man, who has a way with the words, love him or hate him.

Noteworthy is the long Q&A session at the end.

While talking about ambiguious characters in The Satanic Verses (which I haven’t read yet), he says (quick transcription by me, so not verbatim):

“… you have devilish angles, and angelic demons. I’m sounding like Dan Brown now … which i guess would be good for my bank balance but bad for me in every other way … but anyway, i did it first”

Watch it unless you hate him blindly (it’s an hour long video).


KandaBatata Update (Jun 10)

The most ardent fan of my writing, parikrama, commented that my KandaBatata blogs need more visibility than it currently has. Well, here it is, my friend: a sticky post on my main blog.

It’s another matter that it’s hardly read itself. But what the hell, I gave my best shot!

Here then are the latest KandaBatata (TM) posts:

Prominent Atheist Kills Himself after God’s Existence is Disproved


Taliban to bid for Pamela swimsuit

Hopefully, parikrama, your judgment is better than mine.

A Futile Outrage?

Ek vo din jab ek zara si baat pe nadiyaan bahti theen
Ek ye din jab laakhon gham, aur kaal padha hai aansoo ka

(Then, rivers flooded with blood, on flimsy issues
Now, as the apocalypse looms,
we watch with a resigned silence)

Yes, it’s a lousy translation (not even a translation, actually). The usual suspects might come and tell me it’s not, but come on! And yet, the last thing on my mind is the veracity of the translation. I found that sher, on Spaniard in the works blog. It was Husain’s parting shot, as he concluded his one-piece-turned-into-three outrage exchange about the recent financial crisis.

Here are the three pieces for your perusal, if you already haven’t checked them out: 1, 2, 3.

There is lot in the comments too. And all of it combined gives us a snapshot of the “interesting times” we live in.

Thanks spaniard… for sharing this.

Narcissist Tag Now!

Scarlett is the celebrity in the making among my blog friends, or friends in general (sure others have a chance, but if I have to bet, I’ll bet on her). She’s a very gifted writer, and a ghati too, a fact that in these days of the great ghati resurgence, obliges me to take cognizance of (so what if you are not supposed to end sentences with a proposition?). So given that it is Scarlett’s tag, it is obligatory to complete it (I know at least one other blog friend who’s going to give my supari, after this post, however sorry I am. Red, you’ve forgiven me, haven’t you?). There is another angle to it: the tag is utterly narcissist — it wants me to link my own blogs, so that people who read this post will click links on my own blog! What more do I need?

The tag simply wants me to link five posts from past that deal with: family, friends, my love, myself, and anything I like.

Here goes then, without further ado:

Family: Okay, so I started enthusiastically assuming this has to be the easiest tag around, but then I realized there is hardly anything in my blog about my family. The only reference I could find, was of my grandmother, which was in this diwali related blog (which, let’s face it, is about me – yes, again!).

Friends: I’m a conceited person! I’ve hardly written on this blog about anyone but myself. However, the saving grace is that I’ve talked about my friends’ writings here. That’s too less. And thanks to Scarlett, who’s a dear friend too, I’ve realized this now. I know, my friends will be scared shit right now! I think the greatest thing I’ve done for them is not to write about them: Atul and Yosso haven’t been that lucky .

Myself: Surely, surely, surely, it cannot get easier than this. I mean this whole blog, except for the creative part, is about me, me. Who else?

My love: I guess love cannot be hidden. It will surface here and there (although, I insist it’s nothing but fiction ;-)), and of course, the Valentine Day special from the past. Yes, it’s that time of the year again.

Anything I Like: Although there is so much here… a Marathi couplet expresses it nicely: “deNAryAche haat hazaaro, dubaLi maazI zhoLI”. There is so much life (or the giver in the poem – could be anyone, including God, although that doesn’t work for me) has given (that I fall short). Yet a touch of divinity that remains oh so illusive (of course, no one to blame but myself). So I manage with glimpses: like this, or this, or this

And with so much said about myself, I’ll give a skip to the custom of passing on the tag, and embrace the newly emerging custom of inviting anyone to pick it up. Feel free guys. This one, surely, is fun :D.

Blog Potpourri

Yes, the name says it all. It’s a mix of some interesting blogs that I stumbled upon recently, and thought worth sharing:

I’ll start with Syeda Semim Zahan, whose blog Memoirs of an Assamese Muslim has some really nice monologues like this and this. Syeda writes intelligently and coherently, and makes you think. She’s at her lucid best when she ruminates over questions of identity.

Those who have frequented my blog will know that I consider myself a male-feminist of sorts (if you didn’t you know it now). And I’ll not define what I mean by feminism, because this isn’t the place and time. But a group blog, Ultra Violet is one blog that has a slice of Indian feminism, that I tend to empathize with, if not agree many a times. Dilnavaz Bamboat’s this post got me interested in this blog, and since then the feed is in my google reader. And how can I miss this one?

Although I haven’t followed his blog much otherwise, Neville’s this post took me down the memory-lanes of Indian Advertising.

Another group blog that I have been following lately, off and on, is Indian Muslims. Those who keep complaining that the moderate Muslim voice is not heard enough, should read this excellent group blog. A few sample posts to get a flavor: this, this and this.

And now to repeat the most banal phrase, last but not the least, here I present the final blog of this potpourri. Atul, who has been my default tag bunny, wrote one post which made me really really jealous — because he stole my words. No, I’m not being frivolous! Atul, of course shouldn’t be introduced this way, for his writing is much deeper, and sublime (and his photography even more so), but what the hell. I’ve already introduced him in another blog-potpourri, so I can take liberties here. I’ll not forgive him for stealing my words, but I promised him his blog will go places, and a promise is a promise!

That’s it for this installment of potpourri.

Blog Hopping 2

Take two of blog hopping…

I’ll start with Dan Husain, because he doesn’t fit in otherwise. I have been following Dan’s poetry blog every once in a while, and I think he’s a pro. Without using complex, obfuscating imagery, he manages to create amazing poetry, like this one: Coffee in Time of War.

It starts playfully, and even ends playfully, but not before knocking you down, leaving you speechless.

War, I said, I haven’t seen one.
I was only born in seventy-one.

Dan reminds me of Charles Bukowski.

But no, I have never seen a war.
I don’t know what it means
to sit through blackouts, power outages,
to hold my breath and wait
for a bomb to detonate.

There are more poems of his that I’d like to include, but then this one is as good as any.

Moving on, Mukta‘s Save Indian (Male) Child is one of those blogs that captures a slice of (urban) Indian reality, and asks questions that are very very relevant, IMO. Any writing that asks questions of a group, men, women, Indian men, Indian women, and so on, is bound to overgeneralize, but that apart, I find this one of the best articulated blogs on this subject that I’ve come across. I’d ask all my bachelor and newly married male friends to read this and think over it, not necessarily respond to it, but just think, and keep it in mind. Why I say that is, for intelligent, liberal Indian men, the learning curve is steep, and there is this dilemma of wanting an intelligent, independent partner but not having instincts to handle them. Stepping into the shoes of the other sex is not really an easy thing to do, and that is why I say think and think over it. Yes, debate helps but not always.

I, Zak ” on whose blog I first stumbled upon in the middle of the cartoon controversy (and I see now he has removed that post — rather a repost of a cartoon on the controversy), and have been following erratically since, posted this poem by Farid ud-din Attar : One about pride. Curiously, Zak’s blog name has an I in it ;-). Thanks Zak for introducing me to this interesting poet!

I was going to cover Aria‘s poem Ablution in my last blog hopping blog, but somehow I forgot. For a self-confessed novice poet, Aria writes with a fluency and style:

You are not mine
But I’m still yours
And with me
my love,
Sin is cleansing

Well I end this with another one by Mukta, for it got me chuckling all along. A blog about Crossword! I was reminded of the time when back in my IIT days Planet M opened its first Mumbai outlet at Churchgate (was it?), with all fanfare that’s to be expected of them, the then naive me walked into the trap. An attractive and dumb looking female (yeah, back in those days I used to find even dumb looking females attractive at times) walked up to me (yes, me with my totally out of place clothes and hairstyle) and asked me in sweet voice, what was it that I was looking for. I knew then and their it was useless asking her, but I still asked, mainly because she was attractive ;-). “Shakti with John Mclaughlin”. “Shakti is the album?” she asked helpfully. “No”, I said exasperated. I wanted to say John McLaughlin is the album. But then sarcasm is totally wasted on attractive and dumb females, so I told her that Shakti is a group and I was looking for Natural Elements. She noted it down on some piece of paper and took down my email id and promised to get back to me when they got the album.

Sigh, I never got her email (she was, I tell you, quite attractive), although I did pick up Natural Elements the very same day from Rhythm House. I have rarely stepped into Planet M after that. Anyways, this blog was supposed to be about other bloggers blogs, so I’ll stop here.

Blog Hopping

Every once in a while I go on random blog hopping, and then I realize how hard it is to find interesting blogs, due to the sheer number of blogs that are floating around. There are clusters of bloggers who follow each others blogs and typically you see the same commentors on the blogs. Add to that the problem of people blogrolling others for reciprocal reasons, or just because you gotta have a blogroll. So we gotta go back to recommendations before the so called web 2.0 (or 3.0 or whatever it is) really starts helping us there (in finding content that we might enjoy). So here is my bit, for those who share some of my tastes in the written matter: a few links to blogs that I have come across lately, which caught my attention. I hope to do this activity more often.

I’ll start with (probably) the youngest blogger in this potpourri

Sometime back I read this poem by Merryweather: For Whom the Bell tolls, which grabbed my attention right away…

When the leaves were autumn-gold
But you were too involved to notice
Their sullen dance on a cemented pathway
All you could see were the unwinding, winding forest roads

I wish I could write like that even at my age! Check out her blog. Yes, the themes are kind of commonplace, but the poetic spark is there.

Prat‘s Bookstore totally floored me by its sheer poise (for the lack of better word).

A lot of other what ifs
I asked you
You explained
Destiny and the human mind
You showed me
It is true

And then she ends it beautifully… no I won’t put those lines here. No spoilers here 😉

And before I move away from poetry, this one from ubermensch , an old friend from the virtual world. Ubermensch is Nietzsche in the making; don’t take him lightly, even though this one is light:

Once someone told me
It was beyond his imagination how
such a thing as free verse
came to be called Poetry…

That’s almost a quarter of his small poem:

Okay, away from poetry as promised. Anumita‘s blog, 10 Days Canned Stored and Treasured is one of the most heartfelt pieces of writing I’ve come across in the so called Indian blogosphere. What I like is the sheer honesty that the piece radiates, and the fact that she hasn’t tried to anonymize it through fiction or other devices. No excerpts here, since it’s a prose piece, nevertheless strongly recommended!

And away from words altogether, onto one photoblog: Atul Sabnis has this excellent photoblog: If I Could See Better. He has quite an eye, to want to see better. Definitely worth a dekkho, as the say.

That’s it for now, hopefully I’ll come up with second round soon.

Amitav Ghosh interview (old one)


For me, the value of the novel, as a form, is that it is able to incorporate elements of every aspect of life – history, natural history, rhetoric, politics, beliefs, religion, family, love, sexuality. As I see it the novel is a meta-form that transcends the boundaries that circumscribe other kinds of writing, rendering meaningless the usual workaday distinctions between historian, journalist, anthropologist etc.

Excerpts from a short but interesting Amitav Ghosh interview. Check out the last question and the pithy answer.

I’m currently reading An Antique Land, Ghosh’s work on Egypt, and my admiration for the guy has taken a new high. Will probably review it later, if I get time, but suffice to say that it’s an extremely interesting read.