Vantage point

Thursday, May 30, 2002


I have always been a keen comic-keeda and this current hype regarding Spiderman, the movie, has set the analy-wheels rolling in my head. So here's a critique of various superheroes encountered by Gaurav Sabnis.

In all fairness, let's start with Spiderman. One of my all time favourites. The whole concept of those gadgets around his wrists is really amazing. I hear they don't have those wrist thing in the movie. That's real sad. I loved the way he would crawl on walls and especially the way he jumped from building to building in that strange pose. Sort of the pose you have when you play leapfrog or something. That is a real cool pose. And what is even more fantastic is the mask. Only eyes. No nose, no mouth, nothing. Just those white patches that go for the eyes. Anotehr thing that makes Spiderman amazing is the fact that he is a pariah. Everyone is suspicious of him, he doesn't get the credit he deserves, he is just like one of those vigilantes who, even if they do a good thing, get only flak. He is not in that goody-goody popular Superman mould.

Speaking of Superman, well, who doesn't like Superman. He's a classic character. The whole story idea, the characterisation, everything is so unique. The kryptonite funda is so cool, sort of like an Achilles heel analogy, or Samson's hair. The invincible man with a fatal weakness. It can be and has been used as a very fitting metaphor in day to day life. And the love triangle!! I think that was probably the first time I came across a love triangle. Archie cam much later. The superman movies added to that magic.

One guy I have never been impressed with is Batman. What is the deal with this guy? He can't fly, can't shoot webs, can't do anything. Just has a wierd car and a puny sidekick and a stupid butler. I mean come on, Gotham City, you can do better than that !! He should atleast be able to do some magic like Mandrake or ride horses and rule the jungle like the Phantom. Nahh, just that silly grey-black outfit and away he goes. I think Batman's popularity is an example of the success of marketing.

There have been others. More recently The Mask on Cartoon Network used to be funny until they dubbed it into Hindi. Captain Planet is something only someone with a single digit age can enjoy.

So anyway, what is it about superheroes that fascinates us? Do we try to live through the character a life which we may never be capable of? Is there a deeper significance to the success of Superheroes? Or is it just fun and entertainment? I think a bit of both

Saturday, May 25, 2002

A typhoid shot is supposed to cause drowsiness and fever, goes a popular misconception. Well, my Doctor assured me that isn't so and I, having been injected with it, can stand by his claim. I also have to get a chest X ray and have myself checked by a Civil Surgeon. No, no, don't worry, nothing's wrong. These are the requisites of the IIM Lucknow. I have to send these reports by 6th June. So on monday, I'll be wasting a whole day the Sassoon Hospital hunting for a civil surgeon, which is very ironic, since people in Sassoon are even more uncivil than the ones in our college Accounts Section.

The sickeningly castrated version of the Sunday Times of India informs me that India has given Pakistan a two week deadline to stop infiltration. The last few days have raised my estimation of the wit of the Ministry of External Affairs. When Pakistan announced its intentions of conducting missile tests, Nirupama Rao, the unflappable MEA spokesperson first said "We are not impressed", the next day she says "It betrays Pakistan's nervousness over the current situation". The second comemnt had the Pakis frothing in anger. As if this wasn't acerbic enough, she made my favourite MEA comment of all time.

Tongue firmly in cheek she said "One fails to understand why Pakistan has chosen this moment to deplete one of the readymade missiles in its stock". OUCH!!

Today Jitesh and Shree are getting married. the Rotaract Club of Pune Karvenagar has been a marriage club of sorts and this is the second merger between ex-members. The cute couple staretd off 4 years ago when he was the Finance Director and she was the Treasurer. The following year, he was the President and she was the Secretary. Very few couples look as MFEO as these two. Here's wishing them a long long and blissful married life.

Naseeruddin Shah's "Jeena Isika Naam Hai" (an hour long show on Zee TV in which a celebrity's old friends, family etc come and talk about him/her) has been the best I have seen so far. He laughed, he cried, he totally enjoyed the whole thing. The most touching moment was when an old teacher who he thought was dead, came all the way from Australia to meet him. Great show, totally opposite of the Laloo Yadav episode.

Laloo's episode was as irritating as Kareena Kapoor in the latest Pepsi commercial. Watching her gives me the same sickening feeling I get when I hear someone dragging their fingernails over a blackboard. Someone please shut off the Kareena supply tap.

Monaco boo-ed Schumy at the qualifiers for the Grand Prix yesterday. Montoya finally took the pole in a stunning last minute drive. I get a feeling it's not Michael's weekend. Perhaps this is where we see some real competition coming into play.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Life seems a shade of blue today. The whole morning and a bit of the afternoon spent (that's spelt w-a-s-t-e-d) at the Commissioner Office submitting the passport form (YES YES YES I DON'T HAVE A PASSPORT YET, ENOUGH ALREADY!!) and then all these reports about wars and tough times ahead and of course India's Jamaican Farewell.

Go read T V R Shenoy's article which starts off with Spiderman and ends on a very poignant note.

I very formally take this opp to welcome Ramanand to the blogworld. As soon as I learn some rudimentary HTML I'll put ur link on my site.

Well, Seinfeld beckons.

Sunday, May 19, 2002


This is a broad classification I have made of the candidates who turn up at the IIM or any other GD/PI stage. I being one of them, might not be able to provide a completely neutral analysis, but still, here goes-


These are the people who have been told at CF or IMS to "forge alliances" before the GD's. They set about it with more alacrity than Powell after 9-11 and indulge in a flurry of handshaking and "Hi I am so-and-so, and you are?"-ing. They take pointers from Diana Hayden, Yukta Mookhey et al about artificial smile-plastering and practise it very sincerely. They want everyone to love 'em so that no one will interrupt when they rattle off the carefully rehearsed Shiv-Khera-chhaap quotes during the GD. Such an extra-nice attitude betrays a slight inferiority complex which gets accentuated during the later stages of the GD when it becomes a fish market.


These guys have been gifted with a titanium larynx and they make the utmost use of it during the GD. If they sense that the GD is drifting away from the point they have finally understood, they will yell out "BUT LET'S NOT FORGET THE BASIC ISSUE HERE". If there are 2 or more yellers in the same GD, the moderator applies for an ear-drum transplant. These yellers end up making enemies very soon in the GD and even when they don't yell, they get interrupted by all.


These are the people who go for the high-risk-high-gain strategy of starting the GD. They don't have the slightest idea of anything sensible to say, so a formidable quote always slips out. Sometimes they go off on a tangent ensuring that they get atleast 30 seconds of free airtime. But once into the GD, they lose steam and are nowhere on the scene during the closing stages.


They are sure of their superiority. The don't mingle before the GD, they don't mingle after the GD. They say a few terse things during the GD which no one really cares about, least of all the moderator. Their interveiws are the shortest and they leave the venue immediately afterwards, to apply for a GMAT date.


When the candidate steps out from a gruelling interview session, these guys pounce on him to make matters worse. Regardless of the fact that no questions are ever repeated in an IIM interview, they quiz him about the tedious details. This third degree makes one wish eh was abck in the interview room.


Generally there are only one or two girls in a GD group. They don't have to do much for mingling. The guys flock to them. When these girls raise their voice during the GD, everyone else listens. Their interviews go fairly well and after the interview, there is no dearth of offers to "drop you home?".

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Got the COEP College magazine today, which has been christened "Syamantak" this year. I think that's one of Lord Krishna's names. Seems like the Magazine committee has never heard of a thing called "proof reading" because there are many typos and spelling mistakes, that the magazine is more like a Pune University Question paper or textbook.

The 5th and final test between India and West Indies starts today. Holding writes that there is more grass on the Sabina Park pitch than he has ever seen in his life. Not an encouraging sign for our players, should we have to bat first. The test will be over within three days or less? I dunno, but I get this feeling that Sachin is gonna do something big this time. I feel that the Kingston test of 2002 will be a historic one. My bones say it, that's all.

The usual drama that follows any terrorist attack has begun. Vajpayee and pals are syaing "This shall not go unanswered" and blah blah blah. Get over it, guys, and admit that you are chicken. Remember 13th december when the parliament was attacked? You people said the same things, yet here we are six months later, with the army probably playing tiddlywinks at the border out of boredom. Do you think they are the RSS or Shiv Sena cadre that they will mindlessly follow what you are saying? Don't play with the army, you assholes. If you mean to go to war, do so, otherwise shut up.

Our plans of watching 'Deham', based on Manjula Padmanabhan's 'Harvest' have gone awry. First Chaitanya had to stay home for some guests, then Sharwari had to go out, then Madhura had some problem or the other and finally Sharwari had a headache. The movie has finally moved to screen 4 with a flat rate of Rs 100 per ticket and is hence out of bounds.

Now we have started planning to watch "Monsters Inc." at INOX on Monday and heaven knows how many obstacles we'll have to surmount before that finally happens.

It is very rare to find a textbook that is amusing. That is why Andrew Tanenbaum's "Computer Networks" comes as a pleasant change. Written with a persistent dry wit, it manages to captivate your attention and explains difficult thigns very easily. He also tells a few jokes midway, like this one when he was lambasting ISO.

question- What do you get when you cross a mobster with an international standard?
answer - A guy making you "an offer you can't understand".

Wish there were more textbooks like these.

Maybe I'll write one sometime.......

Wednesday, May 15, 2002


I want to talk about my friend, let's call him XY. XY comes from a well to do family with an excellent educational backroung. Father from IIT, mother a college professor. He himself has always been good at studies and has recently got an admit to one of the top 10 universities in USA. He prefers F1 to cricket, english movies to Bollywood stuff, rock bands to ghazals, in short more Westernised in his likes than Indianised.

The reason I mention him is a conversation I had with him a few days ago. We were talking about the Gujarat issue and I was shocked out of my wits when he said - "You know, I feel happy that these muslims are dying. They are getting what they deserve." This really shocked me. I asked him what was the fault of those innocent families of Ahmedabad and Vadodara in the Godhra carnage. Shouldn't the guilty be punished? He didn't see much weight in that argument and seemed to be of the opinion that it the community which has committed that Godhra massacre and not individuals. He seems to have developed that "us-and-them" mental boundary that seems to be on the rise.

Touchwood, Pune has never been witness to any communal frenzy. The two communities live here in perfect harmony. XY was born and brought up in Pune and never known the real meaning of the words 'curfew', '144', 'lathi charge' etc. For many years, his neighbours were muslims and so was his best friend. They are still his friends. So there is no animosity between them to account for his communal outlook. Where did it come from then?

What makes an otherwise gentle and benign guy like XY speak so callously and cruelly of 950 deaths ? Infact he seems to be glad that they happened. Mind you, he does not support the temple movement either. he is not a devout Rambhakt who insists "mandir wahi banayenge". Then why?

I think the people who are attempting to balkanise India are succeeding. They are rapidly demarcating mental boundaries. Today it is hindu-muslim. Tomorrow it will be brahmin-dalit. Later it will be marathi-gujarati. Where will this end? And everyone is at fault. The RSS, SIMI, Bajrang Dal, AIMPLB, VHP, everyone. Not a single orgnaisation speaks of one-ness. The SP and BSP speak of secularism, but they also thrive on the hatred against upper castes. No one wants the Indians to think of themselves as Indians. We are busy constructing boundaries. The people inside, my people, are my Indians. Those outside, even if they burn for no fault of there's "had it coming", simply because they are not inside the boundaries.

I hope I never go the XY way. I hope people like XY see the light. They should realise that secularism is different from muslim-pampering. Real secularism has nothing to do with politics, it is a state of mind. And if you can't feel grief for inhuman atrocities on someone simply because he/she is of a specific community, you should probably leave this country and settle in the cosy US. Cos there, you will be a minority and hopefully learn the values of equality and secularism.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Punjabi songs, or Bhangra Pop is getting so so irritating now. It looks like there are more Bhangra Pop artistes than farmers in Punjab nowadays. Anyone with a little more than a few thousand bucks seems to be rushing off to the corner-da-music-label and coming up with an album. And my, do those songs suck bigtime!!!

I happen to know why all this started. In the 1980's Khalistani terrorists killed a lot of Indians and generally made life miserable for us. But then one ISI-trained terrorist had a brainwave. He ordered all terrorists to leave the path of violence forthwith. They had just discovered a much more potent tool to torture the Indian nation. The Bhangra Pop artist. Hence the early 90s saw the violence in Punjab subside and millions of Punjabi singers emerge.

Becoming a Punjabi artist is very easy. You dont even have to be Punjabi for it. Just follow the steps listed below and wait for the 'Grammeen Award', given annually by the Punjab Rural Music Assoc.

Step 1: The lyrics. Throw in a lot of 'kudis', 'mundas', 'dil', 'sadde' , 'twadde', 'billoo', 'akhhaan', and other such words and for good measure have the chorus yell "Punjaaaabi" as if there is any doubt. The lyrics dont have to make any sense syntactically or semantically as long as they are flexible enough to be moulded into a 'phadakti' tune. A liberal helping of onomatopoeias (if thats thw ord i am looking for) is also required- like 'balle balle', 'tote tote', 'lakkha lakkha' etc.

Step 2: The Music. Lots of drums and trumpets is all that one needs. Those 'jhankaar' beats would do as well. Try to flinch off as much folk music as you can.

Step 3: The Video: Now this is the most important aspect of making it big as a bhangra pop artist.
3a. Get a dozen girls with decent figures and dress them in the minimal of clothing. The dance steps should be such that they ensure maximum simple harmonic motion. Energy is preserved and at times, even created.
3b. Get one tall slutty female who will have a frown on her face and whom you (the artist) will lust after even after the shooting of the video is done. To cut on costs, tell her to get the dress she wore at her 4th borthday. Then alter it to make it shorter and give it to her to sashay in.
3c. Get the latest 'Nerolac Colours Manual' and pick out the least ordered colours from it. Give these to the tailor and tell him to make sure you clothes also have gloss.
3d. Borrow a turban from Navjyot Sidhu.
3e. Write an inane storyline for the video which has nothing to do with the song. Remember to emulate the hand actions of Kumble, Murali and Warne when you dance.
3f. Shoot the video.

This having been done, approach some struggling channels like b4u, musicasia, etc. (pun intended) who will take a large amount from you to pollute the airwaves with your drivel. But oh well, it's for a cause isn't it?

And that is how you become a Punjabi artist. Here are some lyrics I have written in case you want to make it big and get a 'Grameen Award'-

Kudi naal tus mus naidi hona dil mera
Kar wange akkhan twaddi dil wich dhak dhak
Munde sang sadde sadde tote tote chal billoo
Changa lage har twadda tuk tuk tuk tuk

I obviously expect royalty.

No One!

To share the crimson sunset with
and send expensive roses to
To enjoy the April showers with
and whisper sweet nothings to

No One!

To argue about ice cream flavours with
and gift gold embossed books to
To laugh over the cartoons with
and recommend the classic movies to

No One!

To roam the autumn forest with
and point out the little squirrels to
To split a chocolate waffle cone with
and forward mushy emails to

No One!

To spend the winter evenings with
and lend the cosy jacket to
To watch the latest chick-flick with
and grumble about it all week to

No One!

To share smiles and tears with
and always give a shoulder to
To dream about the future with
and recount the nightmares of the past to

No One! No One!

Monday, May 13, 2002

13th May 2002

Partial freedom. That is what I experienced yesterday. The last practical exam of my engineering life, a chronogically misplaced subject called "Electronics Measurement". One would have expected this subject to be somewhere in the 6th semester, but anyway, here it is, giving us the last look at fucntion generators.

The Prof in-charge of the practical, Wani, is one of the wierdest people in COEP (College of Engineering Pune) and he displayed that ostentatiously yesterday. He always keeps a few M.E. students handy to help him out with stuff he doesnt know about (which is pretty much everything in the department) and it is these M.E. guys who really teach us about his subjects. He told us about the pract exam- "Half your marks will be given by the ME students, half by myself and half by the external examiner"...shades of Asrani "Jailer" from Sholay? (aadhay idhar jao...).

So anyway, the experiments are very easy and one finishes them within 15 minutes. Then the orals, which were a bit dreary. Wani made a lot of gaffes, which is pretty much the reason for his existence, and entertained us. We are thinking of compiling a top-ten of his "memorable quotes". The funniest two that come to mind-

"You should be dynamic. Being dynamic is very necessary. Only dynamic people succeed in life. Like that Henry Ford. Do you know about Henry Ford?" he asks a shy girl who nods her head. " He saw this meat factory and he was dynamic so he thought i will put a two stroke engine on a chassis (the last 's' pronounced) and he started making Fiat(sic) cars."

I dont think the Italians will be happy with this comment. Another comment during his dynamism trip-

"That fellow (pronounced pphellow) who started Microsoft, what is his name, haaa, Bill Clinton"......the whole class goes "SIIIIIR!!"
" No no, not Clinton, what is his name, Bill Gates, yes Bill Gates is dynamic." then sensing the need for damage control, he proceeds to do exactly the opposite " You see, I said Clinton because since he is the President of USA, he controls Bill Gates and is the real owner of Microsoft."...all this said a few days after 9-11 when George Bush was taking his presidentship seriously and "making no mistakes" about it.

Life in COEP would be so boring without Wani Sir. I hope he isn't into reading blogs, cos if he is, then I'd better cancel my ticket to Lucknow and start filling the ATKT form.

Oh yes, the ticket to Lucknow. One of the things I don't really look forward to is railway reservations. But there comes a time in our life when we have to walk that path. Spoke with this other guy, a senior from COEP who also got thru to IIML this year. His name is Sunil Joshi and he was the cricket captain of COEP (no, he isnt a left arm spinner). After standing in the queue with him for almost an hour (a very short time by Indian Railways standard), perusing the "Trains at a Glance" and being forced into conversation with a guy behind us who was of the view that computers make the whole process slower, we got 2 tickets each!!! Crazy? Not quite. It is Sunil's genius at its best. We wanted to tarvel in AC, but AC for June end had a waiting list of 14 people. So took that and also took a Second Class ticket each for the next day, just in case the waiting list doesnt clear. If it does clear, we cancel that ticket. Brilliant I think. That's what an aspiring MBA should think like.

I havent seen Harry Potter for some reason or the other. And now I am the only one left who hasn't seen it. Trying to convince friends to give it a second dekko, but that's tuff in the PL's. I am thinking of blackmailing Madhura into coming with me. She finished reading the first 2 parts. I could threaten to tell her the ending of "Prisoner of Azkaban" or "Goblet of Fire". Hmmm...

This always happens to me in the PLs (preparation leave). I read everything other than my E&TC textbooks. I finished "The Fellowship of the Ring" and now feel drawn towards Nehru's 'Glimpses of World History', which I bought at Teen Murti during our class "study tour" to North India. History has always fascinated me. I was one of the handful at school who actually looked forward to history periods. Even now, I feel my real calling is "History Teacher". Wow, this can't be a S.O.P for IIM Lucknow for sure. Anyway, with the BJP re-writing history, I am sure any history-loving kid will have a saffron tint in his/her eyes.

So both Tanenbaum and Nehru are in contention for today afternoon's reading time.

Oh ys, had the first Hapoos (alphonso) mango of the season yesterday. I know, it's very late,but the real hapoos tastes best in mid-may. It really does wonders for the taste buds. No other fruit can ever come close to the hapoos. There is absolutely no contest at all. It is like Michael Schumacher and other drivers.

And since Schumi is so better than his fellow drivers, I really fail to understand why Barrichello was made to let him go in the last lap. The Austrian crowd was booing Schumi and Rubinho was almost in tears. Schumacher stood on the 2nd place on the podium however and made Rubens accept the winners trophy and sit at the center in the press conference. However, it is Michael who gets the 10 points, which is the whole point of a Formula 1 race. Kinda reminds me of that story from the Mahabharat about Ashwatthama. Dronacharya was evry poor and couldnt afford milk, but his son Ashwatthama used to ask for milk, since the kids he played with were all princes who were rich. So what Drona used to do was mix some wheat flour in water and give it to Ashwatthama who happily drank it thinking it was milk.

The bad taste left in my mouth due to this decision was washed away by Ajay Ratra who became the first Indian wicketkeeper to get a century abroad. Good job, man. Anil Kumble has a broken jaw due to a bouncer he ducked into. See, thats what happens when all your exercise is concentrated on your abs, back, legs and arms, and you ignore the jaw workout !!

Time for me to touch a textbook or two. It is the PL after all.
And I'll give Nehru a one-over too.

Friday, May 10, 2002

10th May 2002

So my log wont be a daily affair, so what? It'll just be updated when I feel I have something substantial to write.

The weather in Pune is like that promising young cricketer who starts off very hot in the early stages of his career, matching strokes with the best in business. But then a few innings into it, he loses his fizz and is like one of the has-beens. April end saw Pune vying with the hottest cities in the country, with the mercury routinely in the 40s. The highs of Delhi, Bikaner, Patna, and other hot spots in the country (obviously Ahmedabad too) were at the same level as Pune. Not that it is matter of pride, this sweltering heat, but when relatives from the north mail you about the 'scorching heat', you can say 'I know' to them.

However, like a couple of promising 40s is all a young upstart can take, so too is the case with Pune weather. Clouds start accumulating and then one evening when you are on the Law College Hill, they burst open soaking you to the skin. This literally puts a dampener on the heat and Pune heads back to the 35s, with your northie pals saying 'you puneites are lucky, man'. The shower does little more than wash the bike and water the plants. Next day, blue skies are back, but the temperature is discernably low.

If there is someone who is well and truly overjoyed by these untimely rains, it is the Maharashtra State Electricity Board(MSEB) people. It gives them a reason to switch the power off. Black cloud? they say, let us shed the load a bit. I have never really understood the profound significance of the rain with electricity. Why does one random shower have to make em turn the switch off? Haven't they heard of a little something called the monsoon? It lasts for 4 months. There is no 4 month long power cut then. So rains can't be having a damaging effect on infrastructure. Then why do it? But anyway, there it is!! Clouds gather, lightnings sizzle and PHUTTT you are plunged into darkness. You wait for a few moments, hoping that it is just a temporary whim of the guy at MSEB. They do that sometimes, just cut the supply for 40 seconds. That too when you are operating the computer. You are writing a long long email to a friend after a long time. You finish writing it, and just before you click the 'send' button, PHUTTT. Its OK, you console yourself, it is in the better interest of the state. They need to have these hour long load shedding breaks to keep the electric wolf from the door. An hour later, the power will be back and you can write the mail then. 40 seconds up, 'beep' the computer starts booting. The lights are ON, the power is back. Exactly what did this break achieve?

But what we experienced the other day was not this 'commercial break' but a full fledged rain delay of 3 hours. It is these times when you start getting re-acquainted with the radio. Because face it, all conditions being equal, TV beats radio hollow. No one's gonna listen to the radio, mirchi or non-mirchi if there is a good sitcom on, or if Enrique is making out with Anna Kournikova on the TV (screen I mean). But during a power cut, the radio gets back at the TV. It sits there smugly, with its low power circuits that can be operated on 2 small batteries. "Hey lets listen to the radio" someone says and everyone gathers around the tiny box. Mom and Dad get all nostalgic about Amin Sayani and Radio Ceylon, and how those were the days etc. This is a periodic event which happens during every midsummer-rain-induced power cut. The same old down-the-memory-lane trip(e). You are cursing those MSEB guys for putting you through all this yet again. The radio, happy at being the centre of attention for once, keeps playing some godforsaken tunes.

Two hours pass and even your "brought-up-on-radio-and-religious-movies" parents get bored of the ancient equipment. Mom starts griping about the Ekta Kapoor blunder she is missing. And that is what the MSEB guys with its secret mics in the fuse of every home hear. They gotta have their dose of the K-soaps too. VOILA. The lights are back. The TV can fucntion, the computer can be operated and the fan too is whirring. The weather is cooler thanks to the shower. The radio can be opearted on electricity too. The what? the radio. the what? The radio, yaar. Oh radio, who cares, put it behing the couch. The TV smirks at its aged cousin and starts beaming the stuff.

The evening of the radio is over......

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.