Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble

The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble
By Julian Gough

"Ibrahim Bihi," he said, extending his right hand. "Dr. Ibrahim Bihi. I am Somali. Oh, it is a long story."
"Jude O'Reilly," I said, extending mine. We shook. "Please, tell the story. I like stories."
"Very well, if you are sure... "
He cleared his throat, and began.
"I eked a meagre living, exploiting a fundamental structural discrepancy in the price of Goats." He looked me in the eye.
I nodded. "You've lost me," I said.
"I must apologise," he said. "My degree is in economics, and it has had an unfortunate effect on my conversational English. Allow me to begin again..." He composed himself. "My story is a sorry tale, of the Dismal Science, in the heart of the Dark Continent..."
"Lost me," I said, nodding.
"A story. Of Economics. In Africa."
"Ah, grand. I have you now," I said, entirely gratified by this excellent clarification. I'd known he had it in him, if he simply made the effort. "Now we're sucking diesel! Sound man. On you go."
He recomposed himself and, after a pause, continued.
"After the final collapse of the Somali state, the confiscation of my property, the destruction of my possessions and my repeated relocation due to the toing and froing of multiple overlapping civil wars, I eventually found myself in Hargeisa, owning only a goat."
"What was she called?"
"The Goat."
"She was a goat. She didn't have a name."
"I find it hard to follow a story without a name," I said. "It is a weakness in me."
"Call her anything you like."
"Can I call her Ethel?" I said, for I had a fondness for the name, it being the name of the unmarried sister of the Orphanage Cook. Ethel gave us all a bag of Emerald sweets to share every Christmas. Thus, every third year I got one and, by rationing my consumption of it to a judicious lick at bedtime, could usually make it last till the taking down of the decorations on January 6th, or a little later. The sweet wrapper itself, stored under my pillow, often maintained a trace of coconutty, chocolatey fragrance till March.
"Feel free to think of the goat as Ethel."
"Thank you." I closed my eyes. Ethel the Goat shimmered and came into hard focus, replacing the faint, nebulous, nameless goat Ibrahim Bihi had originally introduced. Ethel chewed meditatively, and tilted her head to one side, looking at me unblinking.
Opening my eyes again, I urged him to continue.
He continued. "The forced sale of a goat in wartime is unlikely to realise the full value of the goat."
I mentally substituted the word "Ethel" for the terms "a goat" and "the goat", and the meaning became entirely clear. I closed my eyes and smiled fondly at Ethel, as he continued.
"Alternatively, the slaughter and personal consumption of the goat, while keeping one alive in the short term, would lead in the medium term to having no goat, and no money. In the long term, with neither assets nor capital nor cashflow, death would inevitably ensue. Luckily, my PhD had been devoted to aspects of arbitrage; the exploitation of price discrepancies in imperfect markets. I thus resolved to apply my knowledge of temporary market inefficiencies to my Goat."
He thus resolved to apply his knowledge of temporary market inefficiencies to Ethel, I said under my breath.
"This final, or ultimate, goat, on which all my hopes rested, had only three legs, due to shrapnel from a mine stepped on some weeks previously by my second-last, or penultimate, goat, on the trek to Hargeisa."
Hastily naming the penultimate goat Charles, I exploded it immediately before I could bond with it, and removed Ethel's rear left leg.
"Thus the surviving goat's movements were slow, and my search for arbitrage opportunities was limited to the immediate vicinity of Hargeisa airport, where I was sleeping at the side of the runway, for the UN presence at the airport made it a safer place for the homeless, friendless wanderer than in the lawless town proper."
I remembered seeing a postcard of Knock airport sent to Brother Patrocles by Monsignor James Horan to congratulate the orphanage on winning the Harty Cup. I imagined Knock airport, removed the drizzle, clouds and fog, drained the bog, covered it in sand, and increased the temperature by 20 degrees. As an afterthought, I mentally located, just over the horizon, all the stories I had heard the older orphans tell of Limerick City, including the one about the lad getting stabbed in the head with a screwdriver, the one about the 10-year-old in the bus station toilets, and how Aengus McMahon smuggled the bar stool out of Driscoll's after the Microdisney gig.
"I thought long," he continued. "I thought hard. I ate the final remnants of my penultimate goat, which I had cured in salt and carried on the frail back of my ultimate goat to Hargeisa. I came up with a plan. The next day, I ate the mutilated fourth leg of my ultimate goat, as I refined the plan. I wiped my mouth as I finished, and drew a deep breath. It was now, or never. I had neither friend, nor relative, nor roof, nor occupation: I had, in all this world, one solitary three-legged goat. This poor goat, which I had come to love: its hazel eyes: its trim beard: its dry dugs: this poor beast comprised all the Surplus Value I possessed. It was the Rock of Capital on which I stood, raised above the perilous sea in which so many of my countrymen around me desperately swam or, ceasing their struggles, drowned."
In life, in front of me, Dr. Ibrahim Bihi closed his eyes and drew a deep breath, perhaps in unconscious echo, or memory. His voice began again, filled with a strengthening passion.
"That poor goat was my stepping-stone to a safer world, a better world, some greater island raised higher above the perilous waves of Life. My first stepping-stone to the Capitals of Capital: to London, Tokyo, New York, thrusting so far above the sea of subsistence that the people there think the world dry land, so that their inhabitants till recently flew from great Island to great Island far above the sea of suffering, never looking down. Some glanced perhaps out the windows of their planes: but if they saw us they must have thought us waving, not drowning, for they did not come to save us. They did not come. I believe some troops arrived in Mogadishu. Eighteen died: they went home. A million of us not worth 18 of them. A million, not worth 18. America, who built her wealth upon the surplus labour of 20m African slaves. There was no Marshall Plan for Africa."
"What happened to Ethel the goat?" I said, somewhat appalled that he appeared to have forgotten her plight. In my mind's eye, she teetered bravely on her three legs, yet still stood proudly erect, the hint of a tear in her hazel eye.
"Hmm? Oh." Dr. Bihi opened his eyes. "I waited until the daily UN food plane was committed to its final approach: as its wheels touched down at the far end of the dusty runway and I saw the puffs of dust, I drove my goat out of the long grass and into the middle of the runway and, leaving her standing bewildered and blindfold where the tyre-tracks were thickest, I ran back into the long grass. The plane was laden, the suspension heavy, the engines slung low: the propeller took her head off and the headless corpse went under the wheels."
"Oh no," I said, wishing now that I had not visualised Ethel quite so intensely.
"Oh yes," he said. "I went straight to the control tower and demanded to see the airport manager. In Somalia, it is the custom to pay a man double the market price if you accidentally kill his beast. I had the price of two goats in my hand before the plane had finished taxiing back to the terminal."
"What luck!" I cried. "What did you do with the money?"
"I went to the market, of course, and bought two goats."
"They could be friends to each other," I said, pleased.
"The next day I drove the two goats into the path of a Gulfstream jet from Riadah."
"Ah!" First upon my fingers and then in the quiet caverns of my mind I extrapolated from one to two: from two to four: from four to eight: and so on for some time. "And thus," I said after a while, "You quickly became infinitely wealthy."
"Sadly, no," he sighed. "It is the tragedy of arbitrage opportunities: they are killed by those who love them. The Market abhors a price discrepancy... But oh, it is beautiful to watch the market corrected by the invisible hand! The success of my scheme was noted by others: by the third day, rivals were driving goats on to the runway ahead of me. Our competition in the market that afternoon drove up the price of goats. Thus, the market price of two goats, pjaid to us that morning at the airport for each one of our slaughtered goats, was by that afternoon unable to buy us two goats in the market. Goat hyperinflation had set in, for at the airport the next morning we demanded double the new market price for the goats we drove into the path of an old Aeroflot Tu-144. The airport manager agreed the new rate of compensation. Thus, the compensation now being indexed to the market price of the goat, where the price of the goat is n and the compensation is 2n, capital was in effect free: no matter how high the goat price soared, the fresh capital for the next round of goat finance soared along with it. The tap was held artificially open, and a speculative bubble made inevitable.

"However, soon the doubled and redoubled prices paid out by the airport manager had reached such giddy heights that the merchant class grew greedy and joined in. No other asset could offer so high a rate of return as the goat, so capital was now diverted into goats and out of every other asset class, and all but the goat traders were starved of investment. Men sold their very houses to raise the price of a single goat.
"Word had spread, and men drove goats in any condition to Hargeisa from all over Somaliland, and even the other statelets of the fragmented Somalia: from Puntland, from Middle Shabelle and Lower Jubba in the chaotic southern rump state, even from Ethiopia. The market was soon flooded with goats, many of them sick or lame. However, this did not matter, for the demand for goats had become infinite. The runway, being entirely unprotected around its perimeter on either side, was the Platonic ideal of a free market: there were no barriers to entry.
"However, planes were by now reluctant to land in Hargeisa."
Wishing to pull my weight in the conversation, I ventured, "Too many goats on the runway?"

Ibrahim Bihi shook his head. "The goats were not the problem. Certain economic firebrands, frozen out of the goat market, had attempted to introduce the cow as an element of trade at the airport's morning meetings."
"Ah," I said.
"The goat cartel fought this fiercely, as it endangered their near monopoly, and threatened an uncontrolled, overnight devaluation of the goat which could badly shake confidence in the market. Also, the pilots were very unhappy. More importantly, the UN, as issuers of fresh capital and guarantors of the liquidity of the market, opposed the introduction of the cow. Any decent sized aircraft could plough through almost unlimited numbers of the lightweight native Somali goat without risking much more than a puncture from a shattered pelvis or horn, but a couple of cows could take the undercarriage off a passenger plane. The replacement cost of an aircraft dwarfed even the inflated cost of the goats, and the UN made an informal deal that if we kept the cows off the runway, they would continue to pay out for the goats.
"That was good?" I ventured.
Dr Ibrahim Bihi nodded. "Of course, some fiscal conservatives within the UN wished unilaterally to halt the goat payments entirely. It was, however, too late to do this, as an enormous re-allocation of capital had already occurred, and the personal wealth of the entire Hargeisa middle class, and indeed that of many enterprising UN employees and most of the pilots and crews flying the route, was by now tied up in goats. To abolish the payments would have led to a collapse in market confidence, the panicked sale of goats, a flooded goat market and subsequent price collapses that would have ruined most.
"As you can see, we had entered a classic momentum market, where the price of the goat had decoupled from the fundamental value of the goat: the cost of a goat now vastly exceeded the capital returns which were possible over its lifetime from sale of milk, cheese, and, ultimately, meat and skin. However, vast fortunes can still be made in strong momentum markets, regardless of fundamental values, as long as you are not the one left holding the goat when the reversion to fundamental value occurs. And so I stayed in the market, fully invested in goats.
"By this time the goat craze had become a mania. A severe shortage of goats, and infinite demand, led to excesses. The price of goats became ludicrous, and many animals were led to the town market which were loudly proclaimed to be goats but which on closer inspection proved to be dogs, dressed up. They were purchased anyway, the frightful animals, at grotesque prices.
"The sheer length of the boom was now leading to increased confidence. There was a loosening in credit. It seemed madness not to lend to a man who could pay you back handsomely the next day. And as a creditor, once you'd borrowed and repaid with interest a couple of times, the banks began to persuade you to borrow more.
"Soon the shortage of actual goats led to a booming market in goat futures, goat options and increasingly arcane goat derivative products. This trade in young, unborn, and even theoretical goats allowed yet more money into a market whose only bottleneck or brake up to this time had been the physical shortage of actual goats.
"So crucial to the economy were goats now, and so fatal to our people any collapse in the goat market, that the UN appointed a Unicef Official with Special Responsibility For Goats. Around him swiftly sprung up a bureaucracy. A well-meaning man, his attempts to stabilise the goat market were well-intentioned. However, this intervention by the authorities was, as ever, late and ineffectual, indeed, counterproductive. Reassured that the UN wouldn't let the market collapse, prices soared higher. It had become a one-way bet.
"The Airport Manager had by now begun to fly in goats, to sell at market for nearly twice what he was paying out, thus financing further imports. This meant both more goats and more planes arriving to run them over. Now that everybody was benefiting there seemed no need for the boom ever to end. True, the Unicef budget for Somalia was paying out increasingly large compensation fees to the owners of dead goats, but one of the first moves by the Unicef Official with Special Responsibility For Goats was to make the goat compensation fund self-funding by hedging much of it in goat futures. Now, every time Unicef pushed up the price of goats by paying out double the market price, it regained the money fourfold, as its goat futures contracts soared in value.
"The only drawback was that the slaughter on the runways each day was by now so great that it was becoming a hazard to land, and it could take till nightfall to execute the day's quota of goats, with planes forced to slaughter animals all the way down the runway, then often all the way back again, to hit the ones they'd missed and to finish off the wounded, and then again all along the taxi-route back to the terminal. Takeoffs were being delayed while the bodies were removed from the runways, which lowered the number of flights and thus the potential revenues generated for all. This was solved by bringing in an electronic Goat Accident and Compensatory System to replace the cumbersome physical system. Now, instead of herding your one, then two, then four, then eight, then 16 goats on to the runway each afternoon, each of which then needed to go through the labourious process of being hit by a landing aircraft's undercarriage, wingtip or propeller, you simply input your goat numbers into the GACS. The airport manager input all the flights due in that day, each flight was allocated its goats, and the compensation due each trader came up on the Big Screen.
"Some missed the blood-soaked runway of the old system, the shouts of the traders, the roar of the engines and the shriek of the goats, but all acknowledged the increased efficiency of the new system. Often two full trade cycles could be executed in a day, doubling turnover. By the end of the year, Hargeisa contained 14,000 millionaires and Unicef were running a paper profit of over a trillion dollars." He sighed.
"Then what happened?" I said.
A curious sorrow seemed to fill him. "Now that we were trading virtual goats, a peculiar lassitude began to sweep through the trading classes. Oh, certainly, paupers were becoming millionaires, and millionaires were soon billionaires by merely getting out of bed and showing their faces at the beautiful new Goat Exchange, but the heady joy of the early days had gone. Of course, by now, the volume of theoretical goats being traded was so vast that they outstripped the world's population of actual goats. Should too many traders simultaneously seek to see their actual goats, there would not be enough: and a run on goats at the Central Goat Market could cause panic, and disaster.
It was reluctantly decided to take our currency off the Goat Standard, so that however rich we grew, we had no automatic right to exchange our wealth at the Central Goat Market for a physical Goat. The Goat was made mere Flesh, as Gold had been reduced to mere metal after the fall of Bretton Woods."
"Ah," I said non-committally. The name Bretton Woods rang a vague bell. American name. A golfer? I nodded my understanding. Dr. Ibrahim Bihi continued.
"A physical goat was now a mere historical curiosity: the vast new electronic Goat Exchange had replaced the old, dung-stinking Central Goat Market, from which the few surviving obsolete goats were released to wander where they would. Trade grew lethargic. It was no longer necessary to get out of bed. Billionaires became trillionaires by merely phoning in their figures to GACS. Yet the millionaires envied the Billionaires: While the Trillionaires feared the millionaires. Trade became vicious yet meaningless. Everyone was growing richer, yet somehow more anxious. Without a solid goat to give value to the figure, one's wealth only had meaning in relation to another's wealth, and was thus never enough. Someone, somewhere, always had another zero. On the day I became a billionaire, I felt poorer than when I had owned but a single goat. What could you do but trade more, trade harder? The social anxiety and sense of failure felt by the millionaires and billionaires in a city of trillionaires caused despair, self-harm, even suicide.
"Trade went on all night now: men hardly slept, or saw their wives or families. They spoke of nothing but goats, yet had soon forgotten what the word goat had once referred to: many younger traders had never seen a goat.
"Yet the new wealth was meritocratic: old money, in property or cocoa, or oil, was easily overtaken by that of young, brash goat traders who better understood these new rules.
"Confused by all I had wrought, and by now so rich that there was no word in common use that could describe my wealth, I returned one day to the old Hargeisa airport runway, the site of my glorious notion. It was disused now, of course, for our wealthy nation had outgrown the source of its wealth. The transport of goats was no longer necessary, and we no longer needed aid. Our luxury goods arrived through the new, modern airport and electronic Goat Exchange on the far side of Hargeisa.
"The long grass had spread from both edges to reclaim the old runway. And there I found, munching quietly, disregarded in the long grass of the abandoned airfield, two goats."
Nell and Mick, I thought to myself, and saw them clear as day before me. Though grumpy (I thought), they love each other. Mick nuzzled Nell. Nell kicked him.
"And what happened then?" I asked, as Mick mounted Nell in my mind.
Dr. Ibrahim Bihi sighed. "While I stared at the two goats I received a frantic call from my office: the bottom had fallen out of it, and we had all lost everything. But who could have predicted that?"
"Who, indeed?" I said.
"The dream had ended, and it all went away. The luxuries, the money, the gleaming towers of steel and glass. The people lost faith in the system: good companies followed bad into ruin, for it turned out that those not trading goats had yet been corrupted by them. Envious of our billions, they had fiddled the figures and diddled the books. Now all that had seemed sane behaviour in the long dream of the bubble looked criminal madness in the cold light of day. Heroes of the goat market were fired, divorced, jailed for the very ambition and creativity that had made them heroes. All fell apart. The delicate fabric of society unravelled. Somaliland lay again in ruins. I again had nothing. It was as though it had never been... I cut a stout stick from the bushes, and slept at the edge of the runway to escape my hostile creditors, investigators, prosecutors."
"What did you do then?" I asked. "Poor, alone, and friendless, again, in poor Somaliland?"
"I had learned my lesson. I had heard that the US were conducting tank exercises, across the border in Djibouti. In Djibouti," said Dr. Ibrahim Bihi, "it is the custom to pay a man triple the market price if you accidentally kill his beast. I raised my stout stick, and drove my two goats North, before me, through the minefields. But that is another story."
Unregarded, it had begun to snow.
"Please," I said. "Tell me the story. I like stories."
In my mind, Mick got off Nell. Yes, in spring, there would be a little kid goat.
"Very well," said Dr. Ibrahim Bihi, and cleared his throat.
I closed my eyes, as the first flakes fell. Yes. I would call her Ethel.
Julian Gough grew up in London, Tipperary and Galway. He sings and writes lyrics for the obscure underground band, Toasted Heretic, and has a degree in philosophy and English. He is executive producer of the feature-length documentary "The Life And Crimes Of Citizen Ming", to be released in early 2003. His first novel, Juno & Juliet is published by Flamingo/HarperCollins in the UK and Anchor/Random House in the US. "The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble" is taken from his second novel.

Friday, December 16, 2005

ganguly issue to be taken up in Lok Sabha!

I am surprised! I am shocked! Does not the LS have more work to do?

this is just a game. why is everyone so agitated about a sportsperson? he may be out of the team fairly/unfairly...that is a debate for the sports pages...not for the LS. cricketers are unnecessarily glamourised.

Is the LS short of work? Let me ask them about the 100s of pending legislations that they need to work on. Are we going to waste precious tax-payer rupees on discussing inane, stupid and worthless pursuits? I am sure the honourable MPs have more than worry about a rich, underworked and overpaid cricketer.
If they really want to discuss, discuss Arjuna awardees of Archery selling chaat on Delhi streets to sustain their livelihood.

In my point, so much debate about ganguly is worthless. let's put an end to this nonsense. Let the BCCI take it up with the selectors. Let the cricketers and cricket lovers discuss this. Not the LS. The media is going crazy over such small things, by devoting reams of newsprint to this blown-out-of-proportion story.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cadbury's Dairy Milk - Asli Swad Zindagi Ka Video

So, how many of you remember Cadbury's Dairy Milk - Asli Swad Zindagi Ka? This fantastic ad was launched in the mid-90s to reposition Chocolates from a kid product to a pleasure that could be enjoyed by grownups too. Cadbury's realised that people who grew up wanted to eat chocolates as they were hooked onto the taste, but did not do so openly as they faces the embarrasment of eating chocolates, a kid product! So they launched this memorable ad, which shows the free abandon of a girl!

A must see ad! And it is available here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

CAT and the after shocks

Ek aur CAT aaya aur aakar chala gaya. Peeche apne dhul bhara samaa chhodh gaya.

Massacre for anyone with a mindset! I have always believed that CAT is a paper of mental aptitude more than it is a paper of QA, DI or English. In my opinion, CAT tests a student's ability to take pressure, face tough situations, not lose control over one's senses, not suffer from mindsets and pre-conceived notions, not going into any situation with a preset thought, not worrying about huge problems on all areas. It also tests a candidate's ability to allocate limited and precious resources (time) over a large number of opportunities (questions) so as to achieve the maximum profit (marks).

DI out of the window. Reasoning in dollops. (This was one scenario we had predicted in workshops and counselings this year and I believe a lot of guys studied reasoning because of this!!)
QA was damn tough, especially the two markers.
RC considerably lesser, but murderous! Grammar was very tough. Critical reasoning was tough. Other VA was still easier, but not easy.

Other institutes are predicting unrealistic cutoffs. Paper karke dekho to pata chale, how difficult it is to get marks in the paper during that time. Sitting in a/c offices later and solving without time pressure, I can also get all the marks. Point is what can one do in limited time. T.I.M.E. has given vey realistic cutoffs, which will bring hope to students. I really detest institutes that are predicting cutoffs of 60 for a single call. They are the ones that are driving students to the brink of committing suicide. Oh, how I wish, IIMs would do something about releasing the keys/solutions along with or just after the paper and releasing the cutoffs openly ASAP. That will at least drive the pressure down.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Things I Hate or Hated

  1. Dangling hoods behind jackets - I can't begin to recall the horrible looking dangling hoods. Jackets were a rage when I was growing up, but I always hated that begging bowl dangling behind people's necks. It was as if you had a permanent begging appendage, open for donations, whether u were walking or sitting or standing. It collected dirt, dust, leaves and of course, people's comments. People could not care less, but to me it looked like an extra head, just that it was scooped out. And the strings looked like matted hair dangling from the skull.

    Today's detachable hoods are more graceful. They are useful, and not a fashion faux pas.

  2. Baggy pants/jeans - Baggies were in fashion around 1988-1995. I have been guilty of buying at least one jeans that was a baggy (baggy? it was a bag!). Thankfully, I was not guilty of wearing it too often, so I can live in peace with the knowledge that I did not torture the world with a clownish appearance. Baggies came in fashion from Salman Khan (I think) or Govinda (more likely). I remember people wearing baggies that hung in front of their bodies like huge shaadi tents. What were people thinking making those clothes? I think it was engineered by the cloth manufacturers to encourage sale of more cloth. Each pant required 30-50 percent extra cloth to be made. Horrible, that is the word! The clothes, not the marketing strategy. That was wonderful ;-)

Pragati Maidan and Traffic

Pragati Maidan is a major bottleneck for traffic. If one lives in Noida (where I live) and wants to goto Central or West Delhi then Pragati Maidan is invariably part of your way and you live to regret the day this road was made; The Roadtrip to Hell. The situation is so bad sometimes that people have renamed it from Pragati Maidan to Durgati Maidan!!

The situation worsens considerably every year from 14th Nov to 28th Nov. when Pragati Maidan hosts the India International Trade Fair (IITF). Miles long traffic jams are a common sight, and that is not a pretty sight. The situation worsened so much last to last year that it was virtually impossible to cross the area during peak hours.

The traffic police woke up last year with a new metallic overhead bridge, better traffic management and better pedestrian management. And this year they have excelled beyond themselves. The traffic this year is much better. So much better that it is a pleasure to drive from there! There are various reasons to this;

1. Far better traffic management - Policemen every 10 meters to push forward any stationery vehicle. No stoppage means better movement
2. Heavy barricading so that pedestrians do not spill on to the roads
3. Overbridge to help pedestrians cross peacefully
4. Lots of parking areas that are located around the area than being concentrated in a single area.
5. Good shuttle services from parking areas.
6. No U-turn anywhere
7. Large ads in all newspapers to show all these arrangements.

But the biggest reason is that there is so much hullabaloo about the trade fair traffic situation that people voluntarily keep away from the area for the fear of traffic jams. I personally avoided the area on the first day of the IITF. But the other roads were so jam packed, it took me 45 minutes to cross 1.5 kms. But because everyone is keeping away from Pragati Maidan, that is actually a better place to go from!!! No traffic jams and no problems.

So in peak season, Pragati Maidan is my favourite route!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Mentioned in a student's blog. Have a look at Nitika's blog.

Madan Prahar

Madan Prahar - interesting name, isn't it?

Madan is a name for Kamdeva, the God of love in Hindu Mythology. Prahar is a strike, a blow. So technically Madan Prahar means a blow by Kamdeva, in other words, Cupid's arrow strikes!

I use it for someone I know, who thinks he is a gift to women, whereas the case is actually the opposite.

So, it is a derogatory reference to someone who thinks highly of his charms ;-)

What happened here?

A chance look through my blog's stats showed something interesting - I checked out a referring link and it turned out that I was being linked to by another blog!

Have a look at India Daily which is a roundup of Indian blogs.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Should India hang Abu Salem or not?

Everyone in India is excited about the extradition of Abu Salem and wants to hang him for his involvement in the Bombay Bomb Blasts.


Before I go further, let me say that I fully support hanging him for his involvement in the crimes.

But, let's do a bit of future gazing, also called scenario analysis.

If we hang him, how likely is Portugal (or for that matter European Union(EU)), to hand over any more terrorists to us? They will refuse to hand over any more terrorists and thus become safe haven for terrorists who will committ crimes and run to Europe, knowing fully well that even if they are caught, EU will not hand over them to India.

So the choice is clear. We can hang one Abu Salem and be done with it. Or we can sentence him to 25 years in prison and make some strong friends in the EU to help us in the war against terrorism.

And with 25 years in prison, hard labour and India's poor record on Human Rights in prisons, who knows what can happen to him!

The official website of India

Have a look at the Government of India's website here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Songs uploaded by me

Have a look at some songs that I have uploaded.

Any requests for old or new songs may be sent to mail2ankur AT gmail DOT com - I specialise in Hindi film music (right from 1930s to 2005)

Monday, October 31, 2005

New Car

A neighbour near my house has recently bought a new car. A black Alto. And it is a treat to watch him handle it!

He is very careful with the car. Everytime he parks it he has to make sure that the distance between the front bumper of his car and the rear bumber of the car in front is the identical to the nearest millimeter to the distance between the rear bumper of his car and the front bumper of the car that is behind his car. The car is parked satisfactorily after many twists and turns and careful scrutiny of the distances!

He is a fair novice so when he parallal parks, or is reversing, his daughter is there to help him park it. His mother stands in the balcony to supervise the whole spectacle. His father gives instructions from the balcony, and makes sure the mother is supervising properly. His wife is somewhere hovering in the background trying to make sure that the daughter is not getting mowed down by his maniac-of-a-husband.

He has got the loudest "backing up" notification. When he reverses, the whole street comes to know that something is happening to the car.

After every drive (lasting 300 meters and 3 minutes) the car is inspected from all angles, the oil level, battery water level, water level, coolant level are checked to make sure that things are all right and no one has tampered with the settings of the various solids and liquids that make up the car.

The car is carefully washed twice a day, once early morning and once early evening. It shines more than a solitaire diamond! Every speck of dust is carefully shooed away, lest it disturb "Her Royal and Serene Highness"!

The manual is read everytime the owner wants to start the car to understand and memorise the sequence properly. Gear-Clutch-Key-Steering - no! no! - Key-Steering-Clutch-Gear - that is right!

Ah! The joys of a new car - may you be blessed with one too!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Joys of reading Dan Brown

Just reading Digital Fortress and came across this line: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" It is a Latin phrase, which means "Who will guard the guards?" - A common problem in Indian society, where the police seems to be committing more crimes than preventing.
Anyhow, the point is one can count on Dan Brown to bring in something like this, insightful, incisive and poignant!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Medical researchers have discovered a new disease that has no symptoms. It is impossible to detect, and there is no known cure. Fortunately, no cases have been reported thus far.
- George Carlin

A knight and his men return to their castle after a long hard day of fighting. "How are we faring?" asks the king.
"Sire," replies the knight, "I have been robbing and pillaging on your behalf all day, burning the towns of your enemies in the west."
"What?!" shrieks the king. "I don't have any enemies to the west!"
"Oh," says the knight. "Well, you do now."
I think, this sums up what I said earlier about TV shows that never seem to end!

The whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I wanted a long, boring story with no point to it, I've got my life.
- Jerry Seinfeld

Random Quotes

Some random quotes I recently picked up:

Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.
- Samuel Butler

Happiness does not ignore problems and handicaps, but enjoys provocative points of view about them. A problem is a goal that has manifested in your life, except you don't remember asking for it. A handicap is simply an asset you haven't figured out how to use yet.
- Roberta Jean Bryant

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
- Alexander Graham Bell

Any new venture goes through the following stages: enthusiasm, complication, disillusionment, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent, and decoration of those who did nothing.
- Anonymous

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
- Theodore Roosevelt

While goals are chosen, a purpose is discovered. Our purpose is something we have been doing all along, and will continue to do, regardless of circumstances, until the day we die.
- Peter McWilliams

When a panel of doctors was asked to vote on adding a new wing to their hospital,
the Allergists voted to scratch it;
the Dermatologists advised no rash moves;
the Gastroenterologists had a gut feeling about it;
the Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve;
the Obstetricians stated they were all laboring under a misconception.
the Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted;
the Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!";
the Pediatricians said, "Grow up!;
the Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness.
the Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing;
the Radiologists could see right through it!;
the Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow;
the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter".
the Podiatrists thought it was a step forward;
the Urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water;
the Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas;
and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, however, it was the Proctologists who were chosen to decide. And wouldn't you know it? They left the decision up to some a**!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Congressman was once asked about his attitude toward whiskey. "If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I'm against it."
"But if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I'm for it."
"This is my position, and I will not compromise!"

People Types You are Likely to Run in at a Party

Went to a party recently, a muhurat, a religious ceremony for a new house plus a house warming party. Once the religious ceremonies were over, the party mood took over. I saw a few people at the party, the types you are likely to run into at an Indian party. I will attempt to describe some of the common species of party animals.

The Middle Aged Uncleji - Around 40-50 years of age and fails to recognise that life has caught up with him. Knows everyone at the party, and if he doesn't, shows that he knows by talking in a boisterous manner to the person in question, trying to show off all his contacts and trying to find some common link, so that everyone around is impressed by his range of contacts and the deep relationships he has with everyone he names. Of course, fails to impress anyone. Has a fresh stain of sauce on his shirt, but fails to see it, as he is too busy impressing others. Hails all waiters that are passing by with the refreshments and snacks, and makes sure that he enjoys more than the value of the gift he has given, with the snacks alone; let alone the food. As a result, has the largest pot-belly around. Thus, occupies more than 66.66% of the dance floor, and is least bothered that other people's bodies are getting crushed. Dances with bad steps and a sort of epileptic fit combined with mosquito-swatting action. Requests all the bad numbers to be played again and again. When his favorite song is stopped suddenly, is the largest to groan with an abuse or two thrown in towards the DJ for good measure. Favorite dance numbers include Nagin dance, with a handkerchief as the been, and any gyrations on any Punjabi song, especially those sung by by Gurdas Mann or Hansraj Hans. Thinks he is Amitabh Bacchan and loves to dance with a borrowed dupatta.

The Middle Aged Auntieji - Typically is the wife of the Uncleji mentioned above. Garish makeup and equally garish jewellery makes sure that she along with her massive frame, is the star attraction of the party; the centerpiece of the party, so to speak. Loves to gossip (who doesn't) but her speciality is gossip of the moment, e.g. which woman is eating the most snacks and who had a tiff with the hostess, just now. Keeps sitting on a large chair near the DJ floor, and has a large group of boys, men, girls and women coming to her and "Pairi Pauna" her at regular intervals, before they go up to dance on the floor. Seems like she is the Guru Hanuman and they are the Shishyas and Shishyaas who are about to enter the Akhara. Is the fastest match-maker in the room, with a world-record time of 4 minutes and 39 seconds. It is another matter that the matches she makes last even lesser! Typically frowns at her husband, the aforementioned species, for dancing badly, borrowing dupattas and generally making an ass of himself in front of everyone.

The Prodigal Son a.k.a. Puttarji - Progeny of Uncleji and Auntieji. Belongs to 15-25 age group (of course) and his life is a mess. He knows it, his parents know it, trouble is they are unwilling to admit it. Of course, they want to improve it, but as I said, they are unwilling to openly admit it. So, when uncleji and auntieji find time from their busy schedule, they will discuss the problems of their son loudly with anyone and everyone within earshot. Depending on the age of the son, the problems change and so does the conversation.

a. 16-17 - Admission in some good college - "Hum to foreign bhejne ki soch rahe hain, yahan to padhai bilkul bekar hai" - Ends up in some seedy college in Guatemala (political science), Checheya (medicine), Guangzhong (medicine again), Nigeria (economics and business management) or best of all Siberia (human rights).

b. 20-22 - Job - "Main to kal hee minister sahab se baat kar ke lagwaa doon, par favour nahin lena chahta. Phir election ke time yehi log bahut dukhi karte hain." "Aap ke bade bhaisahab ka toh apna kaam hai, dekh lein jara, waise mere ladke ko koi kami nahin hai. Aaj business shuru karwa doon import-export ka, lekin soch raha tha thoda experience gain kar le pehle!" Import-export! The guy doesn't know Pakistan from Bangladesh!

c. 23-24 - Job Change - "Waise to teen managers isse report kar rahein hain, lekin yeh chaah raha tha ki office thoda ghar ke paas ho, travelling mein bahut time waste hota hai". It is of course another matter that the boy doesn't know the difference between a quotation and price list!

c. 25 - Marriage - "Aajkal achhi ladkiyan milti kahan hain. Shaadi se pehle 5 boyfriend aur shaadi ke baad 10. Na baba!" "Aap ke pados main to koi ho to mujhe jaroor batana." "Mera ladka laakhon mein ek hai!" Yes, absolutely right, it is difficult to find a more stupid guy in at least one million (dus lakh).

The "Sophisticated" - Generally a group of women, somewhat younger than the Auntieji mentioned above. Typical numbers range from 2-5. You will never find one alone, they always manage to make a group. Love to criticise; the ambience - "such middle class arrangements!"; the host/hostess - "when i give a party, lunch is never late!"; the snacks - "pakore garam nahin hain!", "sauce teekhi nahin hai!"; music - "yeh DJ bilkul bekar hai!"; uncleji - "he is such a boor!"; auntieji - "she is such a showoff!"; other not-so-sophisticated types - "did you see her saree? did u see her purse? how boring!" "behenjee lagti hai, nahin?" etc. Their only saving grace are their perfumes, but most turn this into a negative by bathing in them and managing to leave a stink. Secretly discuss low-fat recipies, latest TV soaps and bargain hunting in Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar.

The Downtrodden - The anti-thesis to "The Sophisticated Group". Not well-to-do and therefore feels out of place in the party. Tries to hide behind other people. Looks with wonder at the small joys of like like Air-Conditioning. Hopes no one opens the Shagun envelope in their presence.

The TV/Movie Lover - Can be a man or a woman, depending on your luck, but the widest geographical distribution is of the former. Will corner anyone and discuss all that he has seen, not seen, planning to see, planning not to see, what to avoid, what not to avoid etc. Is least bothered whether the other person is listening or not, has a TV or not, has money to watch movies or not, or is alive or has dropped dead. Provides critical comments and detailed comparison and contrasts between SRK and AB. Rarely do they not add, "I can do it better than them." Trouble erupts when his favourite movie star is not from your mother tounge, like discussing Rajnikanth movies in North Indian parties, since he insists on mouthing all the dialogues from his latest hit, e.g. Baba.

Cricket Lover - Close cousin of the "The TV/Movie Lover". Shares all characteristics with him, but this one is generally equally distributed between boys and men. If he is a boy then you can easily shake him off by sending him on an errand and then vanishing from the scene. If he is a man, then it is difficult to shake him off. You can try your luck by asking him to show the runup of Akram, McGrath, Pathan or any other fast bowler. That ensures that he goes away a considerable distance. You SHOULD seize this opportunity to leave the scene immediately.
Trouble has increased on this front recently. With Sourav's ouster as the captain, he is likely to either vehemently oppose or support the decision. Neutrality is passé and you are in trouble. If you oppose Sourav's ouster you will be immediately branded as a disloyal Indian who doesn't want to win the world cup 2007; and if you perchance support his ouster then you are a disloyal Indian who stabs an old-hand in the back. As someone said "Damned if you do and damned if you don't." Or as we might say in Hindi "Chit main jeeta pat tu haara, aur sikka to hai hee mere baap ka" (Heads I win, tails you lose and in any case the coin belongs to my father.)

Silent and Brooding - Definitely male. Stands in a corner, with a drink in hand. Watches with uninterest everything around. Used to dress in grey, black or other dark colours. Now can be found in these and earthen colors like olive green, mustard etc. Has tried to committ suicide at least once or has definite plans for the same in the next 24 hours. Shakes his head at least once every five minutes and with a disgusted look on his face mutters to himself something like "these people". BĂȘte noires include children, happy people, couples, anyone indulging in any conversation and chirpy girls. Hates parties, but hangs around for the free booze.

Dipsomaniac a.k.a. Bewdaa - The name speaks for itself. Stands really close to the bar. Mostly gets a chair and places it there to remove the hassle of getting up and getting a refill. Knows the barman from previous parties (same or other places) and gets special treatment since he remembers the barman's name. Does not favour any soda or water with his favourite poison; only on the rocks. That way alcohol consumption per minute is higher. Generally an ex-"silent and brooding", but then discovered the joys of drinking. Favours old tastes like VAT69 Rum and Whisky. Does not go for fancy stuff like beer. Occasionally seen to drink Tequilla and Vodka, especially when trying to impress anyone from "The "Sophisticated" Group".

Busy - Almost always a man. Businessman or a bigshot in the corporate sector. Carries a cell-phone, a PDA, a laptop and other assorted gizmos in his various pockets. When enters a room, first looks for the nearest power source to charge his various gadgets, then searches for someone to talk to and something to eat/drink. Has something or the other beeping every nanosecond or so and manages to run his office from the party. If he talks loudly on his cellphone, then he is on his way to becoming "uncleji". If walks out of the room to talk on the phone, then there is still hope! Loves to talk about his latest car, latest girlfriend (whether he is married or not, does not matter), latest takeover, latest promotion and latest everything. Therefore, also known as a bore.

Netaji - Local politician of little or no importance. Highly self-important. Has an entourage of a driver and a hired private security guard, all of which fit in an old beat-up Ambassador/Maruti 800/Omni Van. The guard is hired since the police does not share the threat perception as understood by Netaji and therefore does not provide any police protection to him. The guard looks margilla (weakling) and does not look capable of defending himself against a strong gust of wind, let alone protect Netaji from terrorists. Netaji can be found wearing Khadi, but there is a new trend these days. Silk. In that case, Netaji is rich businessman with political ambitions, has a Honda City, Lancer Accent, or any of the SUVs and talks in the best of the mobiles. In both cases, he is a wannabe but never a guy with true potential.

Yours Truly - Has no job except type out long and purposeless lists of people who can be found at a party.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nice ad in Hindi by Mastercard
"Natkhat Saiyan, Dusman Duniya"
really catchy music!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Have been thinking of more serials/ads etc from the DD of yore.

1. Udaan was amazing - compared to the current crop of women-career theme, Udaan was actually a career serial. These days we have "Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin" and "Yeh Meri Life Hai" which start out promisingly, but fizzle out after 3-4 months and we are left with the same old scheming mother-in-law, the machinations of evil relatives, muhawaawaa villains and a degenerate story line. How I wish there were more serials like Udaan. Kavita Singh suited the role to the hilt.

Probably the best thing about the serials of those days was the fact that they had a fixed time-span. Thus, the directors made them with a taut story line, tight direction, minimal wasted-time in elaborate religious festivals, family functions, social melodrama and rona-dhona. Todays serials have a carte blanche, make-it-as-long-as-you-can, so they end up being more as ads for the latest fashion than a real stroy line.

I think the best comparison can be with a not-so-recent Star Plus hit - "Star Bestseller". A serial with the mandate to show the story in a single hour. So, no superfluous dialogues, no long triple-shots-of-the-same scene-from-the-same-angle. Just a good story, isn't that what we want!

2. It wasn't that DD was all good only. There was a bad serial with poor characterisation and poor direction called "PC 1008" - Kanwaljit played a Police Constable with a penchant for a line "Main Har Baar Sahi Wakt Pe Sahi Jagah Pahunch Jaata Hoon". A really bad detective serial, if there was ever made one. I fail to understand what was the need to add 1008 in the end of the PC?

3. Talking about good detective serials, one of the better ones was called "Tehkikat" which had Vijay Anand (hero from the movie Kora Kaagaz) as the detective and Saurabh Shukla (Kallu Mama from Satya) as his sidekick. Very nice direction and a fairly lovable serial.

4. There was an excellent real life crime series called "Police File Se" - That had a bit of narration of the crime, a fairly subdued re-enactment of the crime and an overall aura of a serious and not-loud serial. Unlike today's crime series which are too sensationalistic for my liking, this was good. A better serial today of a similar genre is "CID" on Sony.

5. A lovable serial called "Mriganayani" with Pallavi Joshi in lead. A good opening credit songs which has a line "Mahachatur Mrignanayani". It had some nice dialogues! I still remember one "Char Din Baad, Puno Ki Raat, Panchayat Baithigi, ???? Ahir or ????? ???? Ka Faisla Hoga". The ???? represent words that I have forgotten.

6. A good serial called Maila Anchal. Based on a story by Phanishwarnath "Renu". Forgotten most of it, except that it was good! Another good one was "Raag Darbari".

7. There was Nutan in a serial called "Mujrim Hazir" - "Kaliganj Ki Bahu" and the haunting sounds of the Kahaars "Hun Huna Re Hun Huna, Hun Huna Re Hun Huna"

8. You might enjoy this link about Mangal Dhillon. An old actor from those days, with a permanently constipated look :-D

9. A great serial was Chunauti - a favourite when we were growing up. Another great serial was Neev. Am I confusing these two with each other?

10. I really liked Tamas. Om Puri with his intense acting was great. Deepa Sahi, Bheeshm Sahni, Deena Pathak, Devkinandan Pandey were amazing. Hats off to Govind Nihlani for that amazing social docu-drama!

11. There was quiz time with Siddartha Basu. And Alpha Plus - a nice quiz plus running on a track to prove your physical worth! Then there was another Sunday morning which I never understood - Money Matters. Fairly boring.

12. There was a nice morning comedy called "Dhamaal" featuring film stars like Satish Shah, Anil Kapoor and Sudesh Bhonsle. A particular episode that I remember was about "Eeto" :) I used to go late to school so that I could catch on my Dhamaal dose!

13. Another cool one was "Mr. Mrs." with Jayant Kriplani. The plot was really nice with a couple who come to Bombay. They decide that the one who gets a job first would work and the other would take care of the home. As events turn out, it is the wife that gets the job and Jayant Kriplani has to look after the home, which leads to all sorts of interesting incidents like his attending kittie parties etc.

14. Ados-Pados was another nice serial. I particularly remember an episode where Ashok Kumar, a doctor tells some people about "Chromosomes" and the people who can't understand it, think it is some "mausam" :)
Then there was a nice episode about a family having some money and their buying a lot of the same cloth for everything, right from the children's shirts, shorts, to sofa covers, curtains, papa's clothes, mummy's clothes everything was made from the same cloth. I still remember it was a kind of floral print with straight lines!!
In that episode, the children go on a hunger-strike against this frugality policy of their parents. In the end, the children can no longer control their hunger when the mother cooks up something really good. So they break their strike and come to eat. On being quizzed by their parents as to the status of the strike, they tell them about a representative (pratinidhi), I think a newspaper, that is now on strike on their behalf. This started a trend of "pratinidhi" in our house, with my brother and I, both keeping such representatives on our prime seats in front of the TV, to save them, when we got up during the TV watching sessions ! A trend that continued for nearly 10 years before we stopped doing it. How much influence a serial can have :)

15. Wagle Ki Duniya was good. A nice serial. A better one was "Aa Bail Mujhe Maar". The title line was "Yeh Sach Hai Mere Yaar, Satrangi Sab Sansaar, Ho Samajhdar to Bach Bach Nikle, Nadan Kahe Pukaar, Aa Bail Mujhe Maar"!

16. There was a serial that was about superstitions like cat crossing your path, not strewing cut nails in the house etc. It had Bablu Mukherjee, Sulbha Deshpande and Arvind Deshpande. A fairly good one.

17. A great laugh riot was Ghar Jamai. Satish Shah and Anant Mahadevan had some great moments in that serial. It was later revived with Satish Shah and Madhav.

18. Kakkaji Kehin was amazing! Om Puri mesmerised with his great comic timing.

19. Another great with Om Puri with Yatra, where he travels in a train. A great travelouge.

20. Show Theme - Just remember the name. What it was, difficult to say!

21. Raj Se Swaraj.

22. Who can forget "Bharat Ek Khoj" with Roshan Seth as the anchor and some amazing work by all the actors. One of my all time favourites.

You can download the title song here

Here are the lyrics for the title song, and its English Version for anyone who can't read Hindi.

*****Hindi Version**********
Srishtee se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhi nahin
Antariksh bhi nahin, akash bhin nahin thaa
chhipaa thaa kyaa kahaan, kisne dhakaa thaa
us pal to agam, atal jal bhi kahaan thaa

Srishtee kaa kaun hai kartaa
Kartaa hai vaa akartaa
Oonche aakash mein rahtaa
Sada adhyaksh banaa rahtaa
Wahin sachmuch mein jaantaa..Yaa nahin bhi jaanataa
Hai kisi ko nahin pataa, nahin pataa,
Nahin hai pataa, nahin hai pataa

Weh tha hiranyagarbh srishti se pehle vidyamaan
Wahi to saare bhoot jaat ka swami mahaan
jo hai astitvamaana dharti aasmaan dhaaran kar
Aise kis devta ki upasana karein hum avi dekar

Jis ke bal par tejomay hai ambar
Prithvi hari bhari sthapit sthir
Swarg aur sooraj bhi sthir
Aise kis devta ki upasana karein hum avi dekar

Garbh mein apne agni dhaaran kar paida kar
Vyapa tha jal idhar udhar neeche upar
Jagaa chuke vo ka ekameva pran bankar
Aise kis devta ki upasana karein hum avi dekar

Om ! Srishti nirmata swarg rachiyata purvaj raksha kar
Satya dharma palak atul jal niyamak raksha kar
Phaili hain dishayen bahu jaisi uski sab mein sab par
Aise hi devta ki upasana kare hum avi dekar
Aise hi devta ki upasana kare hum avi dekar
****English Version*********
In the beginning was the Divinity in his splendour,
manifested as the sole Lord of land, skies, water, space and that beneath
and he upheld the earth and the heavens.
Who is the Deity we shall worship with our offerings?

It is he who bestows soul-fource and vigour, whose guidence all men invoke,
the Devas invoke whose shadow is immortal life-and death.
Who is the Deity we shall worship with our offerings?

It is he who by his greatness became the one King of the breathing and the seeing,
who is the Lord of man and bird and beast.
Who is the Deity we shall worship with our offerings?

It is the through whose glory the snow-clad mountains rose,
and the ocean spread with the rivery, they say.
His arms are the quarters of the sky.
Who is the Deity we shall worship with our offerings?

It is he through whom the heaven is strong and the earth firm,
who has steadied the light and the sky's vault,
and measured out the sphere of clouds in the mid-region.
Who is the Deity we shall worship with our offerings?

It is he to whom heaven and earth, placed in the light by his grace, look up,
radiant with the mind while over them the sum, rising, brightly shines.
Who is the Deity we shall worship our offerings?

When the mighty waters came, carrying the universal germ, producing the flame of life,
then dwelt there in harmony the One Spirit of the Devas.
Who is the Diety we shall worship with our offerings?

It is he who in his might surveyed the waters, conferring skill and creating worhip
he, the God of Gods, the One and only One.
Who is the Deity we shall worship with our offerings?

Father of the world - may he not destoy us who with Truth as his Law made the
heavens and produced waters, vast and beautiful
Who is the Diety we shall worship with our offerings?

Lord of creation ! no one other than thee pervades all these that have come into being.
May that be ours, for which our prayers rise, may we be masters of many treasures!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My favourite programs from Doordarshan

A post after lots of rememberances and thoughts!

1. Didi's Comedy Show - "Dieter Hallervorden" was great - I wish someone were to rerun those great episodes of nonstop nonsense which were a great gift from German TV. He didn't speak any language in many parts of the the show and it was easy to see the universal language of humour. Other parts, the dubbing was so nice, that we as children could understand every part of the dialogue. My favorite ones include wallpaper episode, thievery in the next apartment, and a small skit called "Bamberga" etc :) . And to think, that it was shown on TV nearly 15-20 years ago.

2. Telematch - Another German serial that showed ludicrous costumes on ridiculous people. I loved it and would miss my studies to see it. Picked up some elementary German from it, something that sounded like "eich, diech, triech" (One, two, three). In retrospective, that was cool propoganda, showing how happy people were under communist rule. Something like the Soviet Magazines (Misha) and books (Raduga publications, Mir Publications) that made life in USSR look like heaven. From the time when I was 4-5, till about 1989, when I was 14, and the Berlin wall fell (The World This Week showed close coverage), I wanted nothing more than to goto the lovely Soviet land with dreamy-eyed visions of the great land which I saw in books.

3. I enjoyed the economics capsules that were made by Transtel (German Television). They taught me a lot about how cartoons can help me understand a topic that I had not studied in school till that time!

4. Kacchi Dhoop - nice serial with a beautiful storyline. I believe I was sufficiently sophisticated to appreciate good work by Amol Palekar, as far back as 1986! Of course, Bhagyashree made her debut in that serial and later on went on to star in the all-time hit "Maine Pyar Kiya"

5. Johnny Sokko and the Giant Robot - Who can forget those fingers that had missile firing systems in place of nails! Oh how I fell in love with that! Have a look at this website. If you want to download the opening song, click here

6. He-Man, Spiderman were good :) - You can download the spiderman opening song here

7. Derrick - A late favourite that I enjoyed in the early-mid nineties. Another German serial, it had an old detective and a younger assistant. Very tight direction. It was a very surprising serial, since nothing much seemed be happening at a given moment, but if one missed any consecutive 5 minutes (beginning, middle, end), then one lost all track and the story could not be understood at all. I think that is why my brother and I sat glued to the TV and watched it with our complete and undivided attention (10-11 PM daily)

8. British comedies - Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister were great and proably the best comedies that I ever saw in my life (barring Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Golmaal and Chupke Chupke). There was another serial that was about a departmental store and some whacky comedy, which sometime went over my head. British humour was and still is, subtler than American humour, which tends to be crass and loud. The only notable exception I have seen is Seinfeld, which has become my daily fix these days.

9. I Love Lucy - My initiation with American humour at the age of 6-8 was through this lovable piece. I did not know the great history behind those episodes and still enjoyed it thoroughly. What we were shown was probably fairly old, probably from the 1950s, since I recollect Lucille Ball as quite young. The favourite of us kids was a certain character called Mr. Moony, probably Lucy's brother. We used to call him "Mr. Mooli" (Mr. Radish) in our childish humour!

10. Vikram - Betal - No questions for guessing why we loved it. I had a fair amount of fascination with the question in the end and how the king would solve it since I did not have the brain to solve those great questions of morality and right conduct. But, I think my fascination was higher with the Betal - his fairly stupid makeup that made him more a source of laughter than fear! And I loved "Singhasan Battisi".

11. Of course, we had the staple favourites of Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Hum Log, Nukkad, Buniyad.

12. Does anyone remember Phatichar, Guniram, Bhim-Bhawani (Ashok Kumar-Anoop Kumar respectively), Mamaji (played by Deven Varma. the serial had the duo of Induji-Binduji with the pet dialogue "Indu to main hoon, yeh to Bindu hai!).

13. I enjoyed Rajni ("Ladki hai ek, naam Rajni hai, Rajni, Rajni, Rajni). I enjoyed "Idhar Udhar" with Rathna Pathak and Lilliput (forgot who else was there).

14. I vaguely remember watching Khandaan (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo and Neena Gupta as Ketki). I watched, but could not understand Trishna (Remember names like Sangeeta Handa and Kittu Gidwani).

15. Who remembers Mashoor Mahal with someone called, i think, Raman? And Baaton-Baaton Main with Vipin Handa?

16. Saptahiki!! Chitrahaar - I think it still comes on Wednesday (old songs) and Friday (new songs)!

17. Aap aur Hum? Krishi Darshan with Dr. Jawahar Jain and his "Pusa 407" and "Pachheti Buayee"? Andhi Galiyan (Program about deaddition from drugs)?

18. Ek Kahani was great. So was another program that was made by Cinevista and showed short stories. I think it was called "Katha Sagar".

19. DD made great plays. I loved watching one play about an old man who loves to eat freshly-dug, small potatoes that have been roasted on a fire and lets his wife die so that he can eat those potatoes in peace. Who can forget Ghasiram Kotwal, Agra Bazaar (Habib Tanweer, the director, as the Kakri-seller).

20. There was a serial called "Phir Wohi Talaash" in the early-mid nineties about a boy (played by Dr. Ashwini Kumar, a Delhi based doctor), who comes to the city to study and falls in love with a rich and beautiful girl. The boy's father was played by the guy who plays Jassi's father in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin and my favourite scenes include one where he instructs someone to look after the shop with a stern warning "Kuch Khaiyo Mat" and the other one where he shouts at his son, who wants to study but the father wants him to sit at the shop; so he says "Ek toh Chori Chhupe Padhai Kar Lee, Aur Ab Himmat Dekho, Jaake Imtihaan Bhee De Aaya"! The girl has a friend who was played by Neelima Azeem and her romantic interest, an inspector was played by the guy who can be seen as Parvat Singh in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. There was another scene about "Hum Yahaan Se Sab Ko Kaadh Rahe Hain" to be mistaken as "Gaad Rahen Hain" - very hilarious.
The serial was very nice.

21. I loved Mr. Yogi and Space City Sigma along with Star Trek. We made the communicator used by Mr. Spock and his team, using a rubberband and two cardboard matchboxes. That was a cool serial :) - I saw the recent episodes of Star Trek and they do not even match up 1/10th of the original series.

22. Then there was Ek-Do-Teen-Char - amateur detectives who sang "1,2,3,4 - Charo Milkar Saath Chale Toh Kar Deh Chamatkar"

23. FAUJI !!!!! Who can forget Shahrukh Khan as Abhimanyu Rai. "Buddies" and "I say chaps" which became part of the lingo.

24. I enjoyed "Satyajit Ray Presents" with the thrilling episodes, the eerie background music, the aura of mystery around everything, the feeling that something unexpected is about to happen and the feeling that please God, don't let the electricity fail at this moment!
Vyomkesh Bakshi was good too but didn't have enough time for it when it was aired. I watched Srikant and understood it somewhat ! I just remember Farookh Sheikh was called "Tyun Tyun" by a woman and he used to hate it. I remember one of my friends was called "Tyun Tyun" by all of us, since he resembled Farookh Sheikh.

25. Ek aur Anek - Download the original here. Looking for "Swimmy" audio/video, Kanjoos Bania Ballu Malle Shah video/audio. I loved Mile Sur Mera Tumhara ( I have the original mp3 and a new video made by some MIT guys but am looking for the original video). There was "Ek Anna Ka Dana" about saving foodgrain.

26. Deepak Ka Jinn - Modern Genie who wore a suit and entered the room from the door instead of making a grand appearance from a lamp. Carried a briefcase, and whatever one wanted was obtained from opening it!

27. Mungeri Lal Ke Hasin Sapne - I could and still can do an accurate copy of his dream-beginnig sequence!

28. Another with Priya Tendulkar and Karan Razdan which was a comedy. They both were marriage counsellors, as far as I can remember and that was the source of laughter.

29. MALGUDI DAYS - Swameeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! Amazing work by Shankar Nag - I have read all the Malgudi Days Books and the serial is an amazing example of a TV/Movie Adaption that is true to the original, a rare event. Manjunath as Swami was utterly believable. I wonder what is he doing these days. Don't see him on TV/Silver Screen anywhere. Girish Karnad was amazing as the father and every character played their role to the hilt.

Malgudi days is enjoying a rerun these days on DD India - Sunday Nights 10:30 PM. I am enjoying it all over again. I wonder if Shankar Naag can be persuaded to remake Guide (as a movie or a serial) since it was clearly documented by RK Narayan himself that he hated the song-and-dance filled Guide. I tend to agree and disagree with this posture of Narayan. While he has every right to demand sticking to the original, Guide as a movie is not bad compared to the run-of-the-mill bollywood potboiler. I mean come on, the hero and heroine are not married and enjoy a long relationship openly. That in itself was revolutionary for the 1960s. I think that Guide should be preserved as a good movie inspired by the novel. But if we are looking for a true adaption, then we need not look beyond Shankar Naag.

30. Streethawk - How we wanted to ride that fast :)

31. Dekh Bhai Dekh was cool too!

32. Then there was "Aisa Bhi Hota Hai" (like Ripley's Believe it or not) with someone called Monica. She was so beautiful that it was rumoured that she got 19,000 marriage proposals every week. I particularly remember one episode where a man demonstrated boring a hole in soft metals like Alumnium coins by just staring at them with a powerful gaze!

33. Ulta Pulta and every singly episode of Flop Show - kitne yaad karoon!

34. Karam chand - kitty and gazar :)

35. Then there was this nice cartoon called Jamie and the Magic Torch. I think this is one of the earliest television that I can remember. Look at this website on the program and click here for the song. Of course you can always find more references on the net, as this was a popular serial abroad too.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I had a very interesting experience recently....

On my way home, I stopped to buy "chaat" from a local "chaat" vendor. For the uninitiated, "chaat" is an Indian delicacy, freshly prepared and verrry spiccy (oooh - i can feel the tingling on my tounge right now)

He was packing up my order, and I got into small talk with the guy. Anyhow, when I had paid and was leaving, he stopped me and asked me to wait for a moment. I wondered what could have happened to warrant an unusal request. He prepared a very small piece of chat (one mouthful) and offered it to me. I asked the reason for such a strange thing; and he replied "Don't you have to go home? How will you restrain yourself from eating the chaat, till you reach home!"

I was taken aback, since my mouth was virtullly watering at that moment! A ten minute ride home was too long a time interval!!

Such an interesting insight he had, into the workings of the human cravings!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I learnt two new words recently.....

"Samjhawan Lal" and "Dukh Haran Baba" - i.e. "one that makes you understand" and the other is "trouble removal saint"

Both stand for sticks that are used to beat up children in schools......!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

reading "angels and demons" by dan brown - after reading "the da vinci code" - amazing novels....and the only ones where one needs a dictionary when u read them :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Way Over My Head
I manage a large discount bookstore and was amused by a phone
conversation one of my salesclerks had with a new computer user.
The caller asked if we carried "Linux for Dummies."
"No," the clerk replied, "but we do sell "The Complete Idiot's
Guide to Linux."
The man groaned and said, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Linux is
way over my head!"

What does an actor know about politics?
-- President Ronald Reagan (complaining about Screen Actors’
Guild president Ed Asner speaking out on U.S. foreign policy)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Our supervisor recently made a casual comment about my
shaggy mane of hair. He then went on to extol the virtues
of a good haircut, which, he insisted, makes an elderly
man look younger and a younger man seem more mature.
"How would a haircut make a middle-aged man like me appear?"
I asked.
"Still employed," he answered.

In my sociology class, we were instructed to write down
answers to some questions the teacher was asking.
"Next question," announced the instructor. "How would you
like to be seen by the opposite sex?"
I was thinking about my answer when the young woman next
to me turned and asked, "How do you spell 'intellectual?"

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Profound thoughts

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.
I had amnesia once -- or twice.
Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.
All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
If the world was a logical place, men would ride horses sidesaddle.
What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?
They told me I was gullible..... and I believed them.
Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to edge his car onto a freeway.
Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.
Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.
What if there were no hypothetical questions?
One nice thing about egotists: They don't talk about other people.
When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.
A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.
What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?
My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure
The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.
How can there be self-help "groups"?
Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?
The speed of time is one-second per second.
Is it possible to be totally partial?
Is Marx's tomb a communist plot?
If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.
It's not an optical illusion. It just looks like one.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

This killed me :)

Engineering classes at the University of Maryland are tough,
and struggling students sometimes go to extremes in order
to pass. Grading exams one semester, I got to this question:
"What is the relationship between kinetic and potential
One student, obviously stumped, decided to get clever and
wrote, "As far as I know, they're just friends, but there
could be something else going on there."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Does your computer look like this? This is from 1954!

Mathematics for you !

Hmm - A good point - comes very close to my own life's philosophy :D

Have we been missing the real scientific advances made possible by the internet - Antimatter for Sale on Ebay ;-)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Tiger snaps back at hidden camera
A wildlife survey camera hidden in the Sumatran rainforest survives a tiger's rage unscathed, even taking a close-up inside the animal's mouth.

This is cool - New Scientist is one of my favourite websites!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hmm......really long time between this and the last posting - For one, I can leave my blooging software open all the time - 64 MB RAM was not sufficient but the new 128 upgrade to 192 total is good for me now :)

got a new CD writer - all my c&h and tintin and asterix are now safely archived :D

got me a new email address - mail2ankur AT gmail DOT com - the vsnl one is now defunct !!

my latest avatar on the net - - T.I.M.E. NCR's online foray to help our students!