Monday, February 26, 2007

Unfair baggage for a white man

And since your competition is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, mainly, do you think it's unfair baggage that you're a white man?

Welcome back Bill Maher. In the first part of the new season of Real Time, he asks that question to Presidential Candidate and former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), who replies
I'm not touching that


And if its Real Time, then its also New Rules. Here's Bill Maher on Joe Biden calling Barack Obama clean and articulate -

And finally, New Rule: There's more to being smart than just not misspeaking. A couple of weeks ago, Senator Joe Biden's presidential campaign hit the ground flopping when he described Barack Obama as "articulate and clean." But if you think he's a racist, you're just playing "gotcha." Yes, the remark was cringe-worthy. It always is when someone old and out of touch says something creepy. Even a Chinaman knows that!

However, when it comes to the most important issue of the day, it was this same Joe Biden who recognized first that Iraq was going to end up three countries, and that that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And I agree. So what if Iraq gets broken up. It's a made-up country anyway. There's only been an Iraq since 1932. It's seven years younger than Paul Newman.

So, the guy who gets it on the big issue of the day, he can't run because he said a black man was "clean." And we care more about a one-second verbal brain fart than we do about who has the right answers.

Howard Dean has been a virtual Nostradamus on predicting what would happen in Iraq from the beginning, but he can't be president because he once shouted, "Yee-haw!"-- two decibels above what we, as Americans, know to be the appropriate level for "Yee-haw!" He's out. He screamed louder than the crowd screaming at him. And the media acted like grandpa just yelled out the "n" word at a ballgame.


Indeed, where is the now vindicated Howard Dean?

Mid-day introduces Mid-day Mate

No, I didn't say that. But guess who did here in this para below

Competition is forcing once-staid publications to spice up their content. Mumbai's Midday tabloid has introduced a bikini-clad version of Britain's topless “page-three girls”, called the “Midday mate”. Most broadsheets offer similar enticements in colourful “entertainment” sections full of Bollywood stars.

Yes, focus on the second sentence if you will.

Mumbai's Midday tabloid has introduced a bikini-clad version of Britain's topless “page-three girls”, called the “Midday mate”.

Introduced ? What does introduce mean ? Merriam Webster defines it as
1 : to lead or bring in especially for the first time

The Economist stands guilty as charged. Guilty of not getting its facts right in this article (paid registration required) which appeared in a recent issue (15th Feb 2007).

I've been seeing the Mid-day Mate since 1989 (i.e. about 20 years back). Any self-respecting Mumbaikar knows that the Mid-day mate is nothing short of an institution. And its been around for ages and ages. I don't have the exact number. Do a google search if you want, you might find something. In an old post, Rashmi Bansal even ascribes Mid-day's growth in the past to this institution.

I mean, people have grown up on that one box on page 3. Carefully cut-out collections have been made, traded, envied, pursued by despots. And now, you're telling me that Mid-day has just introduced it ? I say ghanta.

The only thing that disappoints me more than the Economist's carelessness, is that the blogosphere seems to have largely ignored (save for the good Sans Serif who has correctly fisked the article for even more factual errors) this blasphemy. Sheesh.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Personal ads, part 2

[Part 1 here]

More on personal ads. This time some delightful ones like this -

"My finger on the pulse of culture, my ear to the ground of philosophy, my hip in the medical waste bin of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. 14% plastic and counting -- geriatric brainiac and compulsive NHS malingering fool (M, 81), looking for richer, older sex-starved woman on the brink of death to exploit and ruin every replacement operation I've had since 1974. Box 7648 (quickly, the clock's ticking, and so is this pacemaker)."

That ad is from this book titled "They call me Naughty Lola: Personal ads from the London Review of Books". Read this Salon.com piece on the book which compares the LRB personal ads with those from the New York Review of Books - such as this

"LITHE, LOVELY. Vivacious, passionate, successful concert singer (Lincoln Center, Carnegie) ... Cool (but not cold) blonde with an enviably high metabolism -- witty, classy, quick to smile -- a mix of Angelica Huston/Cameron Diaz. Argentina-born, Paris (Sorbonne) educated and fluent in six languages (including Catalan -- ¡j'estim Barcelona!). Graceful, athletic, and encouraging. Laughs often and much. Can't live without: Martinique, lobster rolls, squash (the sport), and the miso black cod at Nobu. HabituĂ© of Telluride, Napa, and The Vineyard. Well-fixed financially, looking for same. Inspired by Mozart, Stravinsky, Ray Charles, and gamelan music. Seeks intellectual, nonsmoking, fit, successful, sophisticated, not fully retired, man, 47–67."


Gaah. Now I know why I continue to love British humor.

So, before I leave, sample another ad from the Lola book - this time, woman seeking man.

"This column reads like a list of X-file character rejects. Woman, 34, able to bi-locate and start fires with the power of her pre-menstrual tension. Seeks human/Jovian hybrid with whom to start genetic processing plant (Bicester). Must have own car. Box no. 5258."

Personal ads, part 1

I found this finally after searching for the blog where I first saw it. That blogger J.A.P. had posted it here, calling it scary because it was mostly true. I can see why. Here's why.

DICTIONARY FOR WOMEN'S PERSONAL ADS

40-ish..............................49
Adventurous......................Slept with everyone
Athletic............................No tits
Average looking.................Ugly
Beautiful..........................Pathological liar
Contagious Smile...............Does a lot of pills
Emotionally Secure.............On medication
Feminist...........................Fat
Free spirit.........................Junkie
Friendship first ...................Former sl*t
Fun.................................Annoying
New-Age...........................Body hair in the wrong places
Old-fashioned....................No BJs
Open-minded.....................Desperate
Outgoing...........................Loud and Embarrassing
Passionate........................Sloppy drunk
Professional.......................B*tch
Voluptuous........................Very Fat
Large frame.......................Hugely Fat
Wants Soul mate................Stalker

Part 2 to follow

PS - J.A.P. - my apologies..I should have linked your post earlier. Argh.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mishti's musings

After being gracious enough to guest on my blog here and here, the kind Mishti has - finally - started his own blog.

Ladies and gents, head over to Mishti Musings and do read his wonderful post on how a Bombayite changed to a Mumbaikar.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Don't you articulate me

What does the word "articulate" mean to you ?

To me, it's an adjective used to describe someone who talks clearly and gets the message across. Of course it sometimes also depends on what the message is.

For example, check out Akon below singing the chart-busting, hip-thrusting number "Smack that"

I see the one, because she be that lady! Hey!
I feel you creeping, I can see it from my shadow
Wanna jump up in my Lamborghini Gallardo
Maybe go to my place and just kick it like TaeBo
And possibly bend you over look back and watch me

Smack that all on the floor
Smack that give me some more
Smack that 'till you get sore
Smack that oh-oooh!

That's articulate man. I get the message without any doubts. Unequivocally, without a shadow of doubt, shake your booty, shake that thing, shake your moneymaker, smack that.

Much before Akon, there was Vanilla Ice with - oh come on, you know the song don't you ?. Sample this (also note recurrence of "Lamborghini")

Yo -- so I continued to a1a beachfront ave.
Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis
Rockman lovers driving lamborghinis
Jealous cause I'm out geting mine
Shay with a gauge and vanilla with a nine
Reading for the chumps on the wall
The chumps acting ill because theyre so full of eight balls
Gunshots ranged out like a bell
I grabbed my nine -- all I heard were shells

Rockman ? Shay ? grabbed my what ? I have no idea what he was talking about. Vanilla Ice is not articulate. No way Jose, he ain't got no good English.

I can go on and on about this, but you get my point. I mean think about it. Think of a person you know, who you can call articulate. Ever thought about what he looks like ? I didn't.

But it seems that this is a matter of raging debate in the USA. In fact, its been that way for quite some time, only I never knew it. It seems that you do not go around calling a black brother "articulate". Uh-huh. Don't you go around calling me articulate or I'll kick that white ass of yours.

Ok, so maybe that's not how Lynette Clemeston words it in this NY Times article where she writes

It is amazing that this still requires clarification, but here it is. Black people get a little testy when white people call them “articulate.”

and there's more - like this
When whites use the word in reference to blacks, it often carries a subtext of amazement, even bewilderment. It is similar to praising a female executive or politician by calling her “tough” or “a rational decision-maker.”

And this one last part (just because it quotes a show I enjoy - Real time with Bill Maher)
The comedian and actor D. L. Hughley, a frequent guest on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” says that every time he appears on the show, where he riffs on the political and social issues of the day, people walk up to him afterward and tell him how “smart and articulate” his comments were.

“Everyone was up in arms about Michael Richards using the N-word, but subtle words like this are more insidious,” Mr. Hughley said. “It’s like weight loss. The last few pounds are the hardest to get rid of. It’s the last vestiges of racism that are hard to get rid of.”

I've never been to the USA and I have no idea what the politically correct way is to describe a black person who talks with clarity and gets his message across to his listeners. Think Denzel Washington in his closing speech in Philadelphia. Impassioned and articulate. Message across loud and clear. Think Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction. clever, cool and articulate ? I think so.

So now what ? Hang on, let me check the synonyms for articulate..

This one says "eloquent, facund, silver-tongued, smooth-spoken"

Facund ? as in "Yo Akon, you one facund brother" ?

And silver-tongued ? like "Mr. Washington, I believe you were quite silver-tongued in that closing speech you gave before the jury" ?

And that would be better than calling a black person articulate ?

Anyone out there from the USofA who can add some colour, articulate this matter further, throw some light on this issue ?

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Please blog, please please blog"

Grabs of conversation from last Saturday's bloggers meet held at Soul Fry in Bandra

Bombay Addict (BA): Hi I'm Bombay Addict
Melody: You don't read my blog
BA: Yes I do, I commented on the time you bought a new PC
Melody: Oh, well why haven't you put me on your blogroll?
BA: Ah, er, um.

Amit: You know Sakshi is related to looks like Sanjay Dutt
BA: She's related to She looks like Sanjay Dutt* ?
Sakshi: You know I actually got a comment once which went "Yeh aapki Nargisi aankhen...you know as in "Nargis"?"
BA: Oh

BA: Why "Twisted Indifference" ? I mean indifference is like, well, you know, just plain indifferent, right ?
Sumit: My earlier blog was called "Indifferent boredom" (or something like that)
BA: Oh.

Vivek (Sumit's non-blogger but techie friend): I'm a SysAdmin
Someone: A what ?
Vivek: System Administrator
BA: You're the guy who decides what an organisation's employee can surf or not
Vivek: (blushes) Yeah
Someone: Oh ya, kinda like that pointed hair dude in Dilbert
BA: No, no man, that's the boss

BA: Heck you're one of those evil !@#$% who's blocked like so many pages at my org
Vivek: Oh, I'll show you to how get around that
BA: (excitedly) whoa ! cool ! how ?
Vivek: Do you have a piece of paper and a pen ? I'll write down a piece of code
BA: (even more excitedly) wow, wait, wait, I'll get you something
Vivek: No, no its ok, give me your cell, I'll type it there
BA: (handing over his cell) what's it man ?
Vivek: Its an anonymiser site
BA: (a dhat-tere-ki moment): Abbe saala, they've blocked all proxy avoidance sites at my org man ! Don't you have anthing besides that ?
Vivek: No man, can't beat the system then.

Vulturo: Ubuntu, OSX, HTML, RSS, CSS, Fzzz, Pthhrrr, Httrrr
Vivek: No, no ways no ways man. Hell no. Essdww, Ryyssx, Htthrr, kkxx
Sumit: No, don't even think about. They're techies man
BA: Ah.

BA: So, you were in Bombay during the riots?
Pragni: Yes, in Andheri.
BA: Good post. Don't get to read much of that kinda stuff in the sphere
Pragni: Why don't people write about it ?
Silence

BA: Nandan - man, that HT radio ad, it did really suck
Vulturo: What radio ad dude?
Nandan: (goes to explain the entire ad he posted about here, voices the whole thing)
BA: Psst, there's someone here who works with HT.
Silence

BA: So you still scared of flying ? Nice post though
Vijayendra: Yes
(Later)
BA: Kashyap and the crab !
Vijayendra: Why do you keep repeating what I wrote ?
BA: Because I like it man
Vijayendra: Ah.

Nandan: Oh God ! Blog, please blog, please - please blog !
BA: Eh ? what happened
Nandan: Man - check her out !
(hot chick - obviously a non-blogger - walks by)
BA: Oh God ! Blog, please blog, please - please blog !

There were loads of other conversations and loads of other bloggers like Akshay, Abhishek, Ideasmithy... sorry - I can't remember them all, but it was a pleasure meeting with you and a pleasure talking to you. A blast of a time.

Thanks Sakshi and Melody (their posts with photos linked) for organising it. Lovely job.

* For the record, and I quote from Sakshi's post, "For the freaking last time, I am NOT related to Sanjay Dutt."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tales of rum, milk and honey

The ever-reluctant but sometimes-indulgent Mishti guests here once again. Here he is with some tales rum, milk and honey.

*****
Tales of rum, milk and honey
Last night I had to meet for dinner a friend at a suburban five star hotel in Mumbai. I was early and thirsty (as usual my wife may like to add), and asked for a "bar menu". I was politely informed that it was a "dry" day and the next few days were also "dry" days, which meant NO ALCOHOL. Disappointed I ordered a fresh lime soda (sweet) and buried my head into "Saturday" (a novel by Ian McEwan), as I waited for my friend to turn up (he was arriving from Chennai).

Then I noticed that some people were being served drinks and it dawned on me that foreigners are served liquors even on dry days. They are not forced to pay respect to Gandhiji. On enquiring I learnt that even NRIs will be served liquor on producing proof of their being NRIs. That cheered me up a bit since my friend was a NRI and I promptly SMSed him to get proof of his non-resident status, which will buy us a couple to quench the thirst.

Once my friend came in he ordered two drinks - a W&S for himself and a R&C for me. And this is the fun part of it and how the law is sometimes an ass, as someone more eloquent than me had once said. The person who took our order took my friend's identification, gave it a good look up and down and noted down some numbers. He said that these details have to be sent to the Excise Department.

Imagine there is someone in that government department who is supposed to check that the hotel has genuinely sold liquor to only the ones who are permitted to drink (or who need not show their respect to Gandhiji).

I started wondering how will the hotel respond if the Excise Officer asked how and why one person was mixing his drinks by ordering R and W simultaneously and will the government ban such degenerate NRIs from coming into the country? Is mixing drinks allowed or is it against the law? Should there not be a restriction then on how much alcohol one foreigner or NRI can consume on a given day/ night?

I remember two incidents (1) once before breaking the law sitting in the environs of a five star hotel with a foreigner (gora) and quaffing a pitcher of the chilled golden brew. Then my friend's passport had ensured that we were not denied the elixir. (2) The second was related to me by a journalist friend of mine. After an awards ceremony (where else but a five star hotel), there was a dinner party. Some leader of some country had passed away and India had declare a five day mourning. The minister's and government officials were apparently under strict instructions not to partake in alcoholic revelries - that is a Government of India rule when it is declares mourning although many people drink when they are sad. So the chief guest, instead of attending the dinner, quietly slinked away to his room to have a couple. Before leaving he told my friend that if any newspaper the next day publishes his photograph with a glass in hand, then his political career could be jeopardized and therefore, he preferred to drink in the solitude of his room. I am happy to report the minister's career continues to flourish.

That brings me to why I was "inspired" to write this piece. Very early on I was once told that you command respect and you earn it, you do not demand it. So why do these state government's demand that we respect the memory of our leaders in this way? Does it really help or honor anybody, least of all the memory of a dear departed leader?

The liquor shops start telling their customers way ahead of the D-day to stock up. People who want to have a drink any way do. In fact I am told by an ex-student of IIM Ahmedabad that bottles were delivered to their dorms - this is indeed unique and must be thanks to prohibition in Gujarat because in other institutes (at least in the two I have studied), we always had to go out to buy. Their was no friendly neighborhood brewer or seller who did a door to door service. For hooch in Kharagpur, - that was all we could afford - you had to go to the den of the local madam brewer.

To respect the memory of Gandhiji, the government can take one more step. On his birthday and death anniversary, having sex in India can be banned, in respect to Gandhiji's celibacy vows and experiments. On those days condoms will not be sold and only foreigners and NRIs should be allowed to have sex (and only with their likes and not with resident Indians) in India and then report the same to the Ministry of Human Resources .

Better still, they should report beforehand their intention to engage in you-know-what so that an official of the Ministry can verify that they indeed are foreigners and NRIs. Hopefully Arjun Singh will be gainfully employed and have no time for looking at reservations and other pet issues of his. Gandhiji, by his own account, had alcohol and sex in his youth and gave up for his own reasons. How does his memory get respected by forcing his countrymen by banning alcohol in certain states and by banning alcohol sales and serving of liquor on certain days I fail to understand. I wonder how we should honor Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru's memory?

I will end this piece with the story of a lunch that I had partaken more than a decade back.

I was visiting a factory under construction in central India in the early 90s. This town in Maharashtra also practices prohibition. The first thing the PRO of the company had done was to procure a medical certificate, which said that for health reasons he is allowed to drink and buy alcohol. A group of ten people had a boozy beery afternoon and then toddled of to pay respect to the late Mahatma in his Ashram in the city. India must be the only country where people want to get themselves certified as alcoholics and that does not carry a stigma! It is high time such silly rules and laws are dismantled. The citizens will anyway pay respect to the Mahatma if they are aware of his teachings and believe in the same. A film like "Lage raho Munnabhai" does it far better than all the Congressmen (and women), the self proclaimed upholders of Gandhiji's legacy, put together.

I am reminded of a Hindi verse learnt in school (it was by Sant Kabir or Surdas) - "kar ka man ka dari de, man ka manka pher" (drop the rosaries in your hand, and try and reform the rosary in your heart.) And meanwhile lets say three cheers for "sura".

(The intention of the author is not to hurt anyone's sentiments. My apologies in advance to anyone whose sentiments may have been hurt by some of my comments above.)