Vantage point

Monday, May 06, 2002

I got an admit from the Indian Institute of
Management Lucknow
in some way signalling the
beginning of a new phase of my life. So I thought why
not start keeping a weblog? The idea was basically set
rolling by George, my friend's exhaustive weblog .
So here goes.

5th May 2002

It is rarely that my days begin as late as
10 a.m. Today though was one of those days, owing to
the test match in Barbados which I watched well into
the wee hours on TV. But more on it later.

Thought of going through some new PU La mp3's
I got from a friend a few days back. Pu La Deshpande
was the greatest Marathi writer of all time, and was
called "Maharashtracha Laadka Vyaktimatva", meaning
Maharashtra's dearest personality. His forte was
humour and can me called a desi Wodehouse of sorts.
Among the new mp3's, 'Pravaas' is the first chapter
of his "Apoorvai' which describes his travels to the
UK. It gives an idea about what a big deal it used to
be (or is) to go abroad, right from getting injections
to buying shoes. One poignant fact that struck me was
his reference to the Middle East as the biggest threat
to his plans, owing to the frequent flight
cancellations due to any tension there. Be it the
1960's when the piece was written, or 2002, the middle
east continues to be the hottest spot. Even my
grandchildren will be reading about "Trouble in West
Bank", I assume. 'Bigri te matric' is a hilarious
account of a student's life from pre school till high
school in the older days.

Hardly any of that is applicable now,
especially the corporal punishment etc, especially in
the urban environs. But I suspect that it might still
fit the bill in rural areas of India.

Recently, some organisation protested against
a comedy marathi play called 'Maza Pati Chhatrapti',
(MY Husband the Chhatrapati), because it apparently is
demeaning to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the greatest
hero in Marathi history. They managed to stop the play
in Bombay. This is an alarming incident and adds to my
fears of the 'talibanisation' of the Indian society.
We have had Valentine's Day and Fashion Shows banned,
but now the tentacles of brainless fundamentalism are
slowly spreading to Indian culture too. Ther play has
no demeaning reference to Shivaji Maharaj and is
called so because the main character sells umbrellas
(chhatris in marathi). However, bigots brought up
merely on the philosophy of hating something or the
other will never see reason.

I bring this up because in 'Bigri te Matric',
there is an amusing anecdote. I reproduce a
translation here-

" I once played the role of Shivaji in a school
play. Next day, the history teacher said to me

'O Shivaji, Get up. Tell me what did Henry VII

' Gave birth to Henry VIII' I said with the
sombreness of Shivaji on my face.

'Is that so? Patil, Give Maharaj a slap' the
teacher said "

Now, if the protesting organisations learn to
read sometime in the future and come across this
piece, will they proceed to have this book of Pu La's

Tomorrow we will have some other group of idiots
protesting because Pu la says jokingly "I thought
Arjun cheated on Karna. Karna told him to wait till he
got the wheel out. Even Sri Krishna was a cheat'."
Enough for riots?

Then there will be a ban on 'Jaane Bhi Do
Yaaron', one of the finest movies to come out of
Bombay, because it has a funny scene parodying the

Yesterday, Vir Sanghvi's 'Star Talk' featured
Bal Thackeray, the spearhead of this irrational
jingoism. In the middle of the interview when Vir
Sanghvi referred to 'Bombay', Thackeray interrupted
him saying 'Dont say Bombay, say Mumbai'. Who the hell
is Thackeray to tell anyone what to say? Thackeray
struggled through the whole interview like a camel in
a quicksand, mainly because it was conducted in
english, and not marathi. One of Thackeray's standard
defences to any issue on which he can be found wrong
is to bring up a bigger offender.

Sanghvi asked him about why his nephew and son
are getting royal treatment in his party the Shivsena,
and he says 'Look at the Gandhi-Nehru family'. He
asked him about how the underworld grew stronger in
his reign and he says "Look at Bihar". He always has a
bigger crook to point fingers at. No accountability
whatsoever. The limit of crass was crossed when he
said "No riots happened during our tenure" to which
Sanghvi said "That's because the rioters were
ministers", and Thackeray says "So Keep us in power
and there will be no riots". Does anyone smell a
threat to the people here? Vote us out and we will

Anyway, the point is, these people are taking us
towards Taliban, the difference being that there
colour is saffron, not green.

Moving to cricket, India lost to West Indies by
10 wickets and allowed them to level the series 1-1.
The tail wagged though, with Zaheer scoring 46, and
Ratra getting 13. Ganguly is back in form and this
could spell doom for the Windies in the remaining two
tests. Jaffer looks in good nick and hope his 50 wasnt
a flash in the cliched pan.

Saw the weekly wrap-up of the "ESPN School
Sports Quiz" at night. One of the few enjoyable
quizzes on Indian TV, ever since "KBC" dragged the
standard down by miles. There are always a couple of
trivia bits one learns. Harsha Bhogle conducts the
quiz with elan. Last week was a reason to cheer as my
alma mater Abhinav Vidyalay, Pune kicked ass, scoring
102 points to win the episode as the next team scored
a platry 23. Hope they make it big in the next round.

My sister is now officially addicted to Radio
Mirchi 93.9, the Times Group's FM station. They have a
show called 'Retro' every night at 10 when they play
old Western songs. Heard '"ove Me Do" the other day.
What sets this radio station apart from the Akashwani
is no tips for farmers and no ads about the local sari
shops. Quite 'hep' to say the least.The RJ's are
passably OK, no real talent there and the real stuff
is the music.I'll be able to learn more when I can
wrest the radio away from sis.

Will have to spend Monday hunting for a textbook
of "Electronics Measurement" to xerox, since the
copies have disappeared from the shops. A slight
miscalculation by Nirali Prakashans I suppose. The two
Bakshi's who wrote the book will be choked with tears
when they learn that someone is actually xeroxing
their tripe, an honour usually reserved for foreign
authors only.

S.S. Copiers, here I come.