Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Smoke Ring fraternity

I went for a party last night and was faced with empty chairs at periodic intervals. Where were all these people going?

Jugular Vein helped me get to the bottom of it.
I went outside and spent a very pleasant evening with people i'd never met before. I never did get their names, but one was an India Kings Extra Mild, two were Marlboro Lights and another was a Habanos Monte Cristo No 4 Classy.
Read more here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How many calories does it take to win 8 Olympic golds?

Remember all those news items about Michael Phelps taking in 12,000 calories every day.

Turns out they weren't entirely true.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yuvvraaj: Brilliant score let down by lacklustre script


Unfortunately for Subhash Ghai, the era of formula films has long gone and even the most ambitious project can't afford to take it easy in the writing department.

And that's where "Yuvvraaj", the 18th film by a director known as Bollywood's Showman, fails despite liberal doses of Ghai's trademark opulence and grandeur.

Essentially the story of three brothers, "Yuvvraaj" revolves around the free-for-all that ensues when a London-based billionaire dies, leaving behind his fortune to autistic son Gyanesh Yuvvraaj (Anil Kapoor).

To read more, click here

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dostana: A spectacular first half but nothing great overall

The opening shot of John Abraham emerging from the sea sets the tone for the film, with the camera lens lingering a tad too long on his bright yellow trunks.

The latest offering from filmmaker Karan Johar features the usual mélange of romance, snazzy designer wear, exotic locales and foot-tapping numbers.

But writer-director Tarun Mansukhani plays a masterstroke with the 'gay' plot, setting the stage for a hitherto unused treasure trove of witty one-liners and bawdy humour. To read more, click here.

Dasvidaniya: Bittersweet slice of middle-class life

If you were expecting Vinay Pathak's latest film to be a comic caper, you are in for a surprise.

"Dasvidaniya" is a bittersweet comedy about a man diagnosed with cancer and how he spends the last three months of his life.

Heard that one before? It's a subject Bollywood has dealt with in films like "Anand" and "Kal Ho Naa Ho". The 2007 Hollywood film "The Bucket List" also had a similar storyline.

But Shashant Shah’s "Dasvidaniya" gives the plot some original twists. To read more, click here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Help a virgin

Once upon a time there was a 25-year-old guy. Unfortunately, he was still a virgin. Desperate, he went to his only friend -- a pretty girl -- for help.

V: Can you help me, Pretty
P: On one condition
V: Name it, Pretty
P: Set up a website asking people to help you
V: Help me to do what?
P: Get more people to visit your website
V: So?
P: If you get five million hits by New Year's Eve
V: Yes
P: Then I will help you
V: Help me with my problem?
P: Yes
V: You mean it
P: Yes, but
V: But?
P: If you fail, you'll have to do anything
V: Anything?
P: Anything I want for a month
V: Done

Okay, okay so this conversation is a figment of my imagination.

But such a website does exist and the 25-year-old virgin is a long, long way from achieving his goal.

Do help him out before he becomes a slave to his pretty friend.

For Twitter feed, click here

It can't get more sexist than this


(Link via Reddit)

Ganguly takes off his shirt one last time

It wasn't the way Saurav Ganguly wanted to walk off into the sunset. A century in Nagpur, the final test of India's most successful test skipper, would have made it memorable.

But he did make it memorable and how. Read more here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Can't mention Obama's name at school

U.S. television channel WLBT reports that that a school in Mississippi is not allowing students to mention president-elect Barack Obama's name.

"Melissa Hayes says teachers at Puckett Attendance Center told her daughters they could not talk about Obama in class or in the hallways."
I am not sure how reliable WLBT channel is and the parent quoted by it does not point to "racism" being behind the ban on mentioning Obama's name.

But I still think it's too soon to expect everybody in the world's most powerful country to accept a black president. Change can happen but it's going to take time.

I wish Obama all the best.

Start your day with a smile

I usually get irritated by forwarded emails but this pic just made my day.

The name is Bond. Black Bond

Now that Barack Obama has gone right ahead and broken the black barrier at the White House, I think it's time we have someone black playing James Bond.

Not that Daniel Craig is doing such a bad job. It's just that Ian Fleming's master spy needs to evolve with the times and be shaken, not stirred in more ways than one.

My choice -- Denzel Washington. If he declines, then Will Smith.

You might be laughing now but if Obama can be voted U.S. president, a black Bond is not that big a deal.

Or is it?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Barack Obama - seems he's India's choice too

You would have thought so too -- if you were present at Delhi's American Center on Wednesday morning.

And by the way, I voted for Obama. Click here for more.

Slideshow

Partition: A not so epic love story

Watched Partition (2007) on television. This Canadian production revolves around the love story of a Sikh man and a Muslim woman drawn together by the partition of India in 1947.

The storyline is familiar -- the Bollywood hit Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) had an uncannily similar plot. But despite a host of accomplished actors, this Vic Sarin film is never as impressive.

Illiterate villagers mouthing dialogues in English is okay but an Indian actor in the role of Naseem (Kristin Kreuk) would have been more believable. And although Jimi Mistry as the protagonist Gian is first-class, Irrfan Khan and Vinay Pathak are wasted in their two-bit roles.

Neve Campbell plays with aplomb the role of an English lady who helps Gian search for Naseem's missing family after the riots.

This is certainly not one of those 'Pakistan is bad' propaganda movies -- director Sarin ensures there are good and bad characters on both sides of the border. But Naseem's brother Akbar (Arya Babbar) remains a stereotype.

Partition loses its bearings after a placid first half, hurtling towards a predictable and unimpressive climax. Still, it's worth a watch for its lovely cinematography.

I wasn't so sure about the trains depicted in the film -- they seemed too modern to be around 60 years ago. And the idea of a devout Sikh converting to Islam just to get across the border seemed a bit far-fetched.

RATING: **

(For other reviews of this film, click here and here )

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Moving house to Dwarka

After 20 years of living in a not-so-posh area of south Delhi, we have shifted to the subcity of Dwarka.

Yes, there have been teething troubles. It was tough living without broadband internet for a fortnight and Tata Sky's less than exemplary service did give me a headache or two.

But I can assure you all the horror stories of water scarcity and Dwarka residents bathing once a week are not true.

Even if you need five buckets of water for a single bath (Water conservation, anyone?), you should be okay.

It's nice to live in an apartment complex with intercom facility, educated neighbours, a park, a fixed parking space and generator.

Yes, for those of you who have grown up in any of Delhi's apartment complexes, it's nothing new.

But I spent two decades in a place with not-so-nice neighbours (the kind that have fights and spew abuse past midnight), teeming with cows and buffaloes (usually harmless but my mom was once an unwilling combatant in a bovine tussle) and long, frequent power cuts.

It's nice to finally live in an area where Nirula's, Pizza Hut and Domino's deliver food. Not that we eat out often. But it's good to know a Hot Chocolate Fudge is merely a phone call away.

It's nice to finally have a bustling market nearby, with a choice of department stores where I can use Sodexho coupons.

It's nice to finally have a Delhi Metro station only a mile or two away.

I have found paradise in the concrete environs of Dwarka. And hope it stays that way.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

September-October 2008 Blog Mela

If you thought Toe Knee Unplugged was all plugged up and gone, you are in for a surprise.

I am very much alive and well, though yet to recover from a bout of blogger's block.

The monthly Blog Mela resumes with the November blog mela early next month, but for now here's the best of Indian blogs in September and October 2008. Enjoy.

Anand Ramachandran is smitten by Apple's iThing

Great Bong reveals more about Drona and soiled pots

Twisted DNA is not a big fan of kids on the phone

Krish Ashok authors the Dummies' Guide to the US elections

Coconut Chutney is compelled to write about CAs

Neelakantan dreams up a ban on eating out

Sidin Vadukat is using a questionnaire to trace a 'Singur' personality

Jaideep Varma is disappointed by the reviews of 'Hulla'

IndieQuill is waxing

Jammy is making love, not sex

That's all for now. The November 2008 Blog Mela returns early next month. But before leaving, do please vote for the best post in the September-October 2008 Blog Mela.

The best of Sept-Oct 2008 blog mela
Anand Ramachandran
Great Bong
Twisted DNA
Krish Ashok
Coconut Chutney
Neelakantan
Sidin Vadukat
Jaideep Varma
IndieQuill
Jammy
None of them were that good
  
pollcode.com free polls





Did you just come across a quirky, interesting or something-that-tugs-at-your-heartstrings blog? If yes, feel free to nominate it for the November Blog Mela being hosted here on December 2
To nominate, leave a comment on this post OR better still - Mail me at toeknee (at) gmail (dot) com





- Posts must have been written by Indians or have an Indian angle
- Only posts published between 1-30 November, 2008 would be accepted

- If possible, please nominate individual posts, not the whole blog
- Feel free to nominate something you have written. Immodesty appreciated
- You can nominate as many blog posts as you like - provided you really like them
- Only nominations received before midnight on December 1 stand a chance to be featured on the Top 10 list
- No, you don't get any moolah for nominating or getting featured in the Blog Mela. That could change once I am a millionaire but for now you'll just have to bear with me
- Yours truly reserves the right to nominate good posts which you ignore

Check out previous Blog Melas
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How many men does it take to hold a water pipe?


Eight. Especially when the office next door is getting spruced up for some pre-Diwali fanfare. They connected the pipe to the fire hydrant thingy and let loose a volley of water. The trees surely appreciated it, although the cars parked nearby didn't like getting their wheels wet.

Let sleeping dogs lie


During a recent trip to Delhi's Qutab Minar (mandatory whenever relatives drop in), I saw these stray dogs sleeping next to three tombs.

Waiting for their masters' call, eh?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Taking the red bus home: a joyride in New Delhi

Riding home in the air-conditioned comfort of a gleaming red bus, I find it hard to believe I am travelling in New Delhi.

Squeaky-clean seats, no crowds jostling for room, automatic doors and huge windows offering panoramic views of the bustling streets — it's a far cry from the torture I have endured in the past.

Click here to read more.


(Photo by Vijay Mathur)

RELATED POSTS
Surviving Delhi's Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Part 1, 2, 3

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dog Wars: The Poop Strikes Back

Heard of the "dog poop DNA reward & fine scheme" yet?

Okay, it's not called that but believe me -- this is exactly what a program launched in a Tel Aviv suburb is doing.

Using a DNA database to match faeces to a dog and identify its owner. Ensuring that people clean up after their pets.

Isn't technology wonderful? Stock markets are in a turmoil, people are dying in floods, bombings, shootings (you-name-it and they are dying of it) and what do the people of Petah Tikva do? Worry about the origins of canine poop.

I wonder who came up with the idea. P Diddy?

Last week, hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs stepped in a dog's leftovers - literally.

Or was it someone who hates Britney Spears? Remember how the pop star let her puppy poop on a $6,700 Zac Posen gown during a photo shoot last year.

Anyway, the scheme is doomed to fail in India -- where millions of stray dogs rule the streets. Imagine the time and effort it will take to test their collective poop.

Of course, there's no one to pay the fines. Unless you consider these dogs property of the state. And make the municipal authority cough up the money.

On second thoughts, that's not a bad idea.

By the way, did you hear some crap about Indian stray dogs being voted the world's sexiest?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

August 2008 Blog Mela

I know, I know it's a bit too late to be talking about the best of Indian blogs in August 2008 when we are already midway through September. Hope readers will bear with me and continue to send in nominations for the Blog Mela. I promise the next one will be on time.

For now, here's the best of the Indian blogosphere in August -

Asal Tamil Penn ponders on the quality of obituary writing

Lucifer House Inc is part of the great Indian bride hunt

Twisted DNA believes women suffer from physical disability

Toddyshop on being an HR professional

IndieQuill is on the lookout for Indian bras

Anjali is very bad

Jabberwock is watching Ekta Kapoor's Mahabharat

Great Bong is busy explicating the expletive

Mudra Mehta demands privileges for non-celeb bloggers

Gawker needs a man servant

That's all for now. The September 2008 Blog Mela returns early next month. But before leaving, do please vote for the best post in the August 2008 Blog Mela.

The best of August 2008 blog mela
Asal Tamil Penn
Lucifer House Inc
Twisted DNA
Toddyshop
IndieQuill
Anjali
Jabberwock
Great Bong
Mudra Mehta
Gawker
None of them were that good
pollcode.com free polls


Check out previous Blog Melas
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008

Did you just come across a quirky, interesting or something-that-tugs-at-your-heartstrings blog? If yes, feel free to nominate it for the September Blog Mela being hosted here on October 2
To nominate, leave a comment on this post OR better still - Mail me at toeknee (at) gmail (dot) com

- Posts must have been written by Indians or have an Indian angle - Only posts published between 1-30 September, 2008 would be accepted
- If possible, please nominate individual posts, not the whole blog
- Feel free to nominate something you have written. Immodesty appreciated
- You can nominate as many blog posts as you like - provided you really like them
- Only nominations received before midnight on October 1 stand a chance to be featured on the Top 10 list
- No, you don't get any moolah for nominating or getting featured in the Blog Mela. That could change once I am a millionaire but for now you'll just have to bear with me
- Yours truly reserves the right to nominate good posts which you ignore

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Losing sleep over Apple's iPhone 3G

I am not crazy about cellphones. So when I was asked to cover the midnight launch of the Apple iPhone 3G in India, it didn’t really seem worth sacrificing my sleep.

I walked half-heartedly to the Vodafone store in nearby Connaught Place, hoping to see frenzied youngsters jostling for vantage position outside its shutters.

I had read horror stories of people abroad queuing up 60 hours ahead of schedule for a chance to buy the iPhone first.

For more, click here

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jesus played cricket? It's an Olympic campaign

No, I really don't think Jesus Christ played cricket as a child as some media reports would have us believe.

That seems more like a conspiracy, to establish cricket as the game played by the saviour of the world -- and then use it to squeeze cricket into the next Olympics.

I am not complaining though coz India has a good chance of winning a medal in cricket.

But if you ask me, Jesus would have been a sure winner in the walking on water category, if that ever becomes an Olympic sport.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Surviving Delhi Bus Rapid Transit Corridor III

Want to irritate me? You can show me the Delhi government ad on television that lists the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor project as one of its achievements.

Just because it's disappeared from the front pages of newspapers doesn't mean commuters are now in some sort of heaven. They are just resigned to the fact that there's no getting away with the bottlenecks at Chirag Dilli and Archana crossings.

The time taken is the same but the hot May sun is no longer beating down on motorcyclists and cars.

When you are waiting in the BRT line in August, the rain splashes down, dribbling down the car's windscreen and you can sit back and relax, armed with the knowledge that the car in front won't move another inch anytime soon.

Yes, the rain gods had pity on Delhi's hapless BRT commuters -- making that interminable wait at least tolerable.

But that doesn't make the corridor project a success. Hindustan Times claims people are adjusting to BRT, that Delhi has learnt to live with it. They should have asked me, I guess. Or anybody who goes through the BRT corridor day after day, month after month.

What worries me is this Times of India article, which says the Delhi government is planning more BRT stretches. It seems Sheila Dikshit hasn't learnt her lesson yet. Does she really want to lose the next election?

If only she had spent a few extra crores and extended the Delhi Metro till Khanpur. People would have been singing her praises. Alas! Each commuter on the corridor has only curses to offer.

My colleagues don't believe me. They feel I use BRT as an excuse.

"How bad could it be?" they ask.

"Travel down the corridor and you will see," I reply.

Unfortunately, they don't live anywhere near the BRT. And they will never experience the torture. After all, the rains will go away soon, the sun will come out and the commuters will sweat again -- and their murmurs would grow louder and louder still.

ALSO READ
Surviving Delhi's Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Part I
Surviving Delhi's Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Part II

Sunday, August 03, 2008

July 2008 Blog Mela

Twisted DNA can now blog for ever

Nomad on Mallu men and beef

Bikerdude goes ga-ga over Bangalore's Commercial Eat


Silverine goes down frustration lane

Mama Says So feels like an impostor at the school gate

Jabberwock takes a flight to Chennai

Idea-smithy goes for a waltz in Matunga

18,000 RPM is in for some software-engineered cooking

Madhusudan Katti wants to catch a neutrino in the tiger's den

YOnEarthNot is the Crazy Biscuit Lady

That's all for now. The August 2008 Blog Mela returns early next month. But before leaving, do please vote for the best post in the July 2008 Blog Mela.

The best of July 2008 blog mela
Twisted DNA
Nomad
Bikerdude
Silverine
Mama Says So
Jabberwock
Idea-smithy
18,000 RPM
Madhusudan Katti
YOnEarthNot
None of them were that good
pollcode.com free polls


Check out previous Blog Melas
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008

Did you just come across a quirky, interesting or something-that-tugs-at-your-heartstrings blog? If yes, feel free to nominate it for the August Blog Mela being hosted here on September 2

Blog Mela Rules
- Posts must have been written by Indians or have an Indian angle
- Only posts published between 1-31 August, 2008 would be accepted
- If possible, please nominate individual posts, not the whole blog
- Feel free to nominate something you have written. Immodesty appreciated
- You can nominate as many blog posts as you like - provided you really like them
- Only nominations received before midnight on September 1 stand a chance to be featured on the Top 10 list
- No, you don't get any moolah for nominating or getting featured in the Blog Mela. That could change once I am a millionaire but for now you'll just have to bear with me
- Yours truly reserves the right to nominate good posts which you ignore

How to Nominate
- Leave a comment on this post OR better still - Mail me at toeknee (at) gmail (dot) com

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Amit Varma in race for Asian Literary Prize

Fellow blogger Amit Varma of India Uncut fame is turning novelist. And possibly a prize-winning one at that.

The Man Asian Literary Prize is an annual award for an "Asian novel unpublished in English". And this year their longlist includes Varma's debut novel "My Friend, Sancho".

The largest single group of submissions for the Man Asian Literary Prize was from India -- accounting for around half of the 21 books in the longlist.

These will be whittled down to a shortlist in October this year while the winner will be crowned at a ceremony in Hong Kong the following month.

"My Friend, Sancho" is set in Mumbai. Abir Ganguly, a young journalist on the crime beat, is asked by his editor to write a profile of Mohammad Iqbal, the victim of a police encounter. In the course of writing about another man’s life, his own is transformed. The reason is Iqbal's daughter, Muneeza – or Sancho, as her father used to call her.

Varma is busy finishing his novel-in-progress (which made the longlist on the basis of its first three chapters) and India's most famous blogger may not get enough time to work on the India Uncut blog, which is usually updated several times a day.

In a post on Tuesday, Varma wrote he needs "to submit my entire manuscript by August 1 to remain in contention for the prize, and I’m not quite done with it yet. Thus, for the next few days, I take a break from India Uncut."

Which is bad news for all those addicted to daily updates from India Uncut on Bollywood, media WTFs, 'where our taxes go' and Indian cows.

But here's hoping for some good news on the famous-blogger-turning-prize-winning-novelist front.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Osian's Cinefan Film Festival 2008 Awards

ASIAN AND ARAB COMPETITION
Best Film - Tokyo Sonata by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Best Director - Nuri Bilge Ceylan for Three Monkeys
Best Actor - Ammor Hakkar in The Yellow House
Best Actress - Hiam Abbas and Rona Laipaz-Michael in Lemon Tree
Special Jury Award - Salt of This Sea by Annamarie Jacir

FIRST FEATURES AWARD
Confessional by Ruel Dahis Antipuesto and Jerrold Viacrucis Tarog

INDIAN COMPETITION
Best Film - Gulabi Talkies by Girish Kasaravalli
Best Director - Remo D'Souza for A Story of the Red Hills
Best Actor - Rajat Kapur for The Prisoner and Govind Namdeo for Kabootar
Best Actress
- Umashree for Gulabi Talkies

IN-TOLERANCE AWARD
Hidden Faces by Handan Ipekci

NETPAC AWARD
Bioscope by K.M. Madhusudhanan

FIPRESCI AWARD
Ramchand Pakistani
by Mehreen Jabbar and Salt Of This Sea by Annemarie Jacir

AUDIENCE AWARD
The Band’s Visit
by Eran Kolirin

(Official website)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Death of a Poet - Palash Kumar

Palash died in a car accident this weekend.

Were the following lines, penned by this poet, to prove prophetic?

And thus ended the cycle of pain and love,
He walked away with a baggage of longings --
--- which refuse to fade
She walked away with a look in her eyes,
And a prayer on her face


Listen to his story, his Guftagu, in a silent place - his world, his blog, a place where Palash lives on, in words etched for eternity. Read on

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June 2008 Blog Mela

Bikerdude listens to an acapella performance

Purple Cow goes to Assam

Zigzackly knows exactly how to quit smoking

India Uncut has a storyline for Savita Bhabhi

Mudra Mehta reveals the difference between girls and guys

Idea-smithy reveals why she hated being a woman

Stupendous Man discovers the source of Ekta Kapoor's inspiration

Jabberwock is waiting for Ekta Kapoor ki Mahabharata

Twisted DNA is a guy who goes to the gynaecologist

Krish Ashok has not written a review of Dasavathaaram

That's all for now. The July 2008 Blog Mela returns early next month. But before leaving, do please vote for the best post in the June 2008 Blog Mela.

The best of June 2008 blog mela
Bikerdude
Purple Cow
Zigzackly
India Uncut
Mudra Mehta
Idea-smithy
Stupendous Man
Jabberwock
Twisted DNA
Krish Ashok
None were that good
  
pollcode.com free polls


Check out previous Blog Melas
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008

Did you just come across a quirky, interesting or something-that-tugs-at-your-heartstrings blog? If yes, feel free to nominate it for the July Blog Mela being hosted here on August 2

Blog Mela Rules
- Posts must have been written by Indians or have an Indian angle
- Only posts published between 1-31 July, 2008 would be accepted
- If possible, please nominate individual posts, not the whole blog
- Feel free to nominate something you have written. Immodesty appreciated
- You can nominate as many blog posts as you like - provided you really like them
- Only nominations received before midnight on August 1 stand a chance to be featured on the Top 10 list
- No, you don't get any moolah for nominating or getting featured in the Blog Mela. That could change once I am a millionaire but for now you'll just have to bear with me
- Yours truly reserves the right to nominate good posts which you ignore

How to Nominate
- Leave a comment on this post OR better still - Mail me at toeknee (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, June 23, 2008

God is not deaf. Even at night.

Tell that to my neighbours. For some weird reason, they persist in holding these all-night jagrans in the apartment complex.

A pundit with a not-so-pleasant voice leads the congregation (my neighbours and their friends and friends of friends) in singing bhajans praising God in all his divine glory.

They start at around 10 pm and go on till dawn. Which means I either have to drown out the cacophony with the television on at full blast or stuff cotton in my ears.

Unfortunately, neither is a solution because the night festivities are held next to my bedroom window. Plus, the microphone the pundit uses is a particularly effective one.

And why, you wonder, I don't complain. Well, I do grumble in the privacy of my home. But I don't say anything to my neighbours -- we have to maintain good relations, you see.

In Delhi, your average middle-class, well-educated Uncleji is quite capable of deflating car tyres or letting loose a volley of unprintables when the occasion calls for it.

God is not deaf. And for all I know, he sleeps at night too. When will my neighbours realise this?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I am the world's 669,642,941th richest person

It doesn't hurt to know I am in the top 11.16% of rich people in the world. But I wish I didn't have to pay so much income tax.

Want to know your rank?

Click here


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Will it rain tonight? Ask the stone


The India Meteorological Department has some serious competition.
(Link via Reddit)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Soap bars in hotels are evil and dangerous

Next time you stay in a hotel, don't fuss over the bar of soap in the bathroom. Otherwise, you might end up with hundreds of little soap bars like this woman in a London hotel.

May 2008 Blog Mela

Mudra Mehta blows off steam publicly

Anand Ramachandran sees Lalit Modi grow

AB meets the writer of Kane and Abel

India Uncut is angry that NY Times got American Idol wrong

Great Bong gets Noida police to investigate Julius Caesar's murder

Ideasmith believes in the League of Ex-girlfriends

Twisted DNA thanks readers obsessed with saree below navel

Jabberwock watches some old Japanese movies

Falstaff is in London for the match between Man U and Chelsea

Krish Ashok has an unsolicited proposal for Hotel Saravana Bhavan

That's all for now. The June 2008 Blog Mela returns early next month. But before leaving, do please vote for the best post in the May 2008 Blog Mela.

The best of May 2008 Blog Mela
Mudra Mehta
Anand Ramachandran
AB
India Uncut
Great Bong
Ideasmith
Twisted DNA
Jabberwock
Falstaff
Krish Ashok
  
pollcode.com free polls
Check out previous Blog Melas
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008

Did you just come across a quirky, interesting or something-that-tugs-at-your-heartstrings blog? If yes, feel free to nominate it for the June Blog Mela being hosted here on July 2

Blog Mela Rules
- Posts must have been written by Indians or have an Indian angle
- Only posts published between 1-30 June, 2008 would be accepted
- If possible, please nominate individual posts, not the whole blog
- Feel free to nominate something you have written. Immodesty appreciated
- You can nominate as many blog posts as you like - provided you really like them
- Only nominations received before midnight on July 1 stand a chance to be featured on the Top 10 list
- No, you don't get any moolah for nominating or getting featured in the Blog Mela. That could change once I am a millionaire but for now you'll just have to bear with me
- Yours truly reserves the right to nominate good posts which you ignore

How to Nominate
- Leave a comment on this post OR better still - Mail me at toeknee (at) gmail (dot) com

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why blogging is good for you

All you guys who thought I was wasting time updating a stupid blog read by people who didn't have anything else to do - GO EAT DIRT.

I now have proof that blogging is good for you.

Child's Guide To United States Foreign Policy

(Received this via email. It's a bit long but worth it)

It's 9 pm and Daddy is tucking Johnny into bed -

Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?

A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction honey.

Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.

A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.

Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq?

A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?

A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2008 election.

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?

A: To use them in a war, silly.

Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?

A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?

A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.

Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.

A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

Q: And what was that?

A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?

A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?

A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?

A: Right.

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?

A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?

A: I told you, China is different.

Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq?

A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.

Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?

A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?

A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Like in Iraq?

A: Exactly.

Q: And like in China, too?

A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?

A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being communists and started being capitalists like us.

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?

A: Don't be a smart-ass.

Q: I didn't think I was being one.

A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?

A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.

Q: What's a military coup?

A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?

A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?

A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?

A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?

A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?

A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?

A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's heads and hands?

A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?

A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Q: Fighting drugs?

A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

Q: How did they do such a good job?

A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people's heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people's heads and hands off for other reasons?

A: Yes. It's OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people's hands for growing flowers, but it's cruel if they cut off people's hands for stealing bread.

Q: Don't they also cut off people's hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?

A: That's different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Q: Don't Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?

A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

Q: What's the difference?

A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers.

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.

A: Now, don't go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.

A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Q: Who trained them?

A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?

A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.

A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?

A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

Q: So the Soviets ? I mean, the Russians ? are now our friends?

A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.

Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?

A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?

A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?

A: Well, yeah. For a while.

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?

A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.

Q: Why did that make him our friend?

A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?

A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?

A: Most of the time, yes.

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?

A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Q: Why?

A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America Also, since God is on America's side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?

A: Yes.

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?

A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.

Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?

A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On my bookshelf

I often find myself with nothing to blog about. Today happens to be one of those days so I thought I'll just write about the books I have been reading these past few weeks.

Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee

DESCRIPTION
Mukherjee follows the diverging paths taken by three extraordinary Calcutta-born sisters as they come of age in a changing world. Moving effortlessly between generations, she weaves together fascinating stories of the sisters' ancestors, childhood memories, and dramatic scenes from India's history.

WHAT I THINK
I had never read anything by Bharati Mukherjee before so I didn't really know what to expect. The first half just blew me over - it's one of those unputdownable pageturners without being a thriller. The thing is Mukherjee's prose is so amazingingly evocative that I clearly saw this young Bengali bride circling around a tree in the 19th century.

But just when I thought I was going through the best Indian novel ever, the pace slackened. The second half of the novel seemed tedious in comparison to the first and Mukherjee's puppetmaster hands lost control of the characters in America, letting them roam free as the novel draws towards its implausible end -- with an arsonist on the loose.

AND FINALLY
Of course, you should read it. And tell me what you thought of it. Believe me, I would like to read other works by this University of California professor. I just wish the second half of 'Desirable Daughters' had been better.

The Coast of Good Intentions: Stories by Michael Byers

DESCRIPTION
Michael Byers' award-winning collection tells graceful tales of achingly unresolved lives on the Pacific Northwest coast. Byers captures the lives of ferry workers, carpenters, park rangers, and adolescents leaving home, against a backdrop of crab factories, cranberry bogs, the fog-shrouded shore, and the Seattle skyline.

WHAT I THINK
My favourite story was "Shipmates Down Under" in which the daughter of two doctors falls sick with an unrelenting fever and the family is forced to cancel a vacation in Australia. Byers is shockingly mature (he was only 28 when he wrote this) for his age and it's amazing how he chooses to write about sadness, disappointment and loneliness.

Byers writes beautiful prose and it kind of rolls with imagery and metaphors. The characters are mostly people you might meet in the street and not give a second glance.

AND FINALLY
Go give it a read

My Father, Dancing by Bliss Broyard

DESCRIPTION
The daughter of the late author and critic Anatole Broyard has written a collection that is partly about fathers and daughters, partly about the many difficult choices facing young women trying to find their place in life.

WHAT I THINK
Though not as good as Byers' collection, Broyard's stories do have their moments. I have two favourites -- "At the Bottom of the Lake" is about a girl trying to maintain her relationship with her father, a task hindered by her wicked stepmother.

And in "Mr. Sweetly Indecent," a woman confronts her adulterous father. Broyard's men are almost always insensitive and selfish oafs - but I am not sure if the stories are feminist pieces. Because the women are no saints either.

AND FINALLY
Certainly worth a try

Diamond Dust: Stories by Anita Desai

DESCRIPTION
In this richly diverse collection, Desai trains her luminous spotlight on private universes, stretching from India to New England, from Cornwall to Mexico. Skillfully navigating the fault lines between social obligation and personal loyalties, the men and women in these nine tales set out on journeys that suddenly go beyond the pale --or surprisingly lead them back to where they started from.

WHAT I THINK
I don't really like short stories as a genre. I like novels which last for ever, keeping my interest alive in the characters. But what can I say about Desai - everybody knows that she's brilliant. In these stories, I was amazed to find protagonists who are not Indians or non-resident Indians -- there's even one about a Mexican town. But my favourite story was one set in India, about an Indian woman who rents a barsati in New Delhi. "The Rooftop Dwellers" is Desai at her wittiest.

AND FINALLY
Don't be put off by the first story in the collection -- I found it boring and meaningless. But all the other stories are gems.

I am currently engrossed in Vikram Seth's An Equal Music - Seth is another author I have been meaning to read for a long time. This novel -- the tale of an English violinist in love with a pianist he abandoned ten years ago -- is engrossing despite the fact I am tone-deaf and cannot tell a Beethoven from a Bach. If I bypass all the musical references and still find it interesting, then Seth is talented indeed.

I wondered if the film rights to this novel had been snapped up because I keep visualising Hugh Grant rushing out of a bus and running down London streets in pursuit of his beloved.

It turns out there is indeed a movie in the offing but I couldn't find any more details.

Popular Posts