Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Thursday, May 28, 2009

bollywood expert on the expressway

a certain Mr. S Khan plies his taxi up and down the mumbai-pune route.
this is his drive for basic sustenance.

i had the good fortune of using his services on both legs of my pune trip yesterday.
we got warmed up on the way to pune when he played some very nice classic songs.

on the return, since he had run out of cassettes (yes there are people who still use them), i created a playlist of around 30 songs and played them from my laptop.

this got his juices flowing and for the next 2.5 hours, i was amazed by his bollywood bhakti:
1. for almost every song, he knew the movie, the producer, the director, the lyricist, the story writer and for some even the year of release!
2. i even tested him with a very old song from shehnai (aana meri jaan sunday ke sunday). he guessed from the tune and rhythm that it was by C Ramachandra. on which, i said, gotcha! the singer was a certain chitalkar as recorded in my playlist. turns out that they are the same :-)

some exciting tidbits from the exchange:
1. dil hai ki maanta nahin is a remake of chori chori. raja hindustani is a remake of jab jab phool khile. these 2 are well known facts. but he also insisted that lagaan is fully inspired by naya daur.
2. his four most respected bollywood people/families are: naushad, majrooh sultanpuri, rafi and pran. his criteria were simpicity, how they treated others (including rivals) and how they raised their kids. here is a great piece on naushad and rafi combo.
3. zeenat aman's father was a co-writer of mughal-e-azam.
4. kishore kumar and lata mangeshkar almost formed a coterie/monopoly in the late 70s and early 80s not allowing new singers to breakthrough.
5. hrishikesh mukherjee could not afford kishore kumar for rajesh khanna in anand and hence plumped for manna dey to come up with the classic - zindagi kaisi hai paheli.

2.5 hours which made my month.

Monday, May 25, 2009

who is smarter?

asks an aunt to her niece, "chintu or the bed?".
this is after an exuberant chintu miscalculates the distance between her head and the bed and bumps into the bed. she launches her vocal exercise regime at rarely used sound frequencies.
she continues, "the bed has no eyes and head, and chintu is such a clever girl. if chintu was careful, she could have avoided bumping the bed."

what an intelligent observation, i thought. the child will start to think about its action and be able to start judging distances better henceforth.

at a commencement speech i attended today, the speaker mentioned the adult habit of hitting the bed/floor when any kid bumps into them as a dangerous practice. this approach gives a completely wrong sense of right and wrong to the child, which has to be undone at a later stage in life.

common sense, the speaker said, is needed in large doses.

hope chintu's aunt is not in the minority.

Friday, May 22, 2009


some of the good stuff i read recently:

1. dilip's simple but pointed analysis of the election results.
2. what we need to know about sleep, but dont ask.
3. aseem shrivastava on 'development without corporate globalisation'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

33.33% hit rate

that is my success on the mumbai LS results.
only priya dutt and eknath gaikwad hit my jackpot.
i had anticipated the low turnout and the "angry muslim voters" to hurt the congress - NCP.
but it turns out that the MNS has run riot through the saffron combine and split the 'marathi manoos'.
net net, it is a better result for the nation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

come summer, come neera

while travelling to pune by road (and in general travelling in maharashtra) during the summer, one will not fail to notice the thousands of नीरा केंद्र that magically appear on the roadsides.
नीरा is a wonderful summer thirst quencher on par with नारियल पानी and निम्बू पानी.
the palm tree, just like its coconut counterpart, is just awesome.

Monday, May 11, 2009

the corporate approach to education

treats children and education...
based on management, input, measurement, and manipulation.
courtesy - schoolsmatter
this is the core mindset with which corporate philanthropies approach education reform.
bill gates and the gates foundation are at the forefront of this approach.
considering the influence of the man and the sheer amount of money that is being pumped in, it is sad that there is a sore lack of thought and intellect.

in telling critiques of the plans of the gates foundation (as evidenced from a recent Washington Post enclave on education), deborah meier and jim horn bring out the obvious and misplaced thinking towards improving education.
What is intriguing is that neither Gates nor Hiatt stop to wonder if the absence of correlation might indict the tool for measuring the impact of teaching: standardized test scores.
while this is, of course, all happening in the US, india is not immune to such thinking.
already the dell foundation is an active player in the indian education space and clearly with the forecast that india will be the labour force of the world in the coming generation, we shall see more misplaced reform.
in this mess, i think azim premji is likely to be the saving grace.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

the cost of private tuitions

i have written on the cost of education and the invasive and cancerous role of private tuitions.
rediff reports on an assocham survey - "Middle-class spends a third of income on kids' tuition".
as most of these students are inevitably in private schools, is it not a serious indictment of the private schooling system? i think it is.

maybe that is perhaps a bit narrow, the blame will have to be taken by all the concerned stakeholders, the apathetic schools, the harassed and anxious parents and the greedy shylockian coaching classes. and in this triple smorgasbord, the poor child gets whisked.

Friday, May 08, 2009

waiting for the captain

i first wrote an open letter to vijaykanth - almost exactly 3 years ago.

since then, i have grown to like and appreciate DMDK and his style of politics. he seems to be willing to guts it out.
i share the same hope for telugu superstar chiranjeevi and his praja rajyam.

one of corporate india's success stories, pandiarajan (who started Ma Foi - the HR consulting firm), has joined DMDK.
pandiarajan is an family friend.

people are waiting for the captain to upturn the mess of the DMK and AIADMK.
i am also one of them.

media hyperventilates over mumbai low voter turnout

as initiated here, the low urban voting percentages has most people (in the media space) flummoxed.
especially the media went ballistic with their campaigns.
here is an analysis of why mumbai caused much anxiety.
Subsequent to 26/11, an illusion was created by the media that people in general and Mumbaikars in particular were so angry with the political class that they may vote with a vengeance. Since it did not happen in the first two phases, Mumbai being crucial because of 26/11 coupled with the high stakes of the channel in showing a higher percentage of polling, there was a scramble to get hold of Bollywood stars as they were coming out of the booths for a "vote you must" message. Anyone with an identifiable face was asked to show his or her left middle finger so as to "inspire" others to come out and vote. If you were watching the channels on April 30, it would seem that the elections were for some Film Chamber of Commerce and not for the 15th Lok Sabha. Despite such an exercise to shore up credibility, the result was shocking. There was a drop of 6% in polling in Mumbai.
these campaigns will have to last another 2 more election for it to start yielding results.
will our impatient media friends be ready to guts it out?

Friday, May 01, 2009

if pigs could fly

will it be called swine flu!!