Friday, September 29, 2006

How To Be Man's Best Friend

Yes, there exists a self-help article that will help you be like your dog. (Link fixed, Thanks, Salil!)

There's so much more on WikiHow, but it's a Friday, so I will let you explore its embarrassment of riches all by yourself.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Buddha Vanishes; Inspector Clouseau Is On The Job

India has alerted Interpol after 18 priceless antique Buddha statues were stolen from a Bihar museum, police say.
The museum, btw, is right next to a police station. And how about this paragraph from the article:
Forensic experts are examining fingerprints at the gallery and police say they suspect the involvement of a major international criminal gang.
How did Bihar's Finest figure that out? Did the thieves leave a monogrammed glove?

Well, the police better start rubbing Maitreya's belly if they want good luck for this pursuit. (Above image taken from an page)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Watch Me Watch You

A PERSON'S GAZE has weight, resistance, muscularity. Clearly, there are people who use their eyes well. You know them: the sales rep, the fundraiser, the tyrannical supervisor. Their eyes force the question. These people may be as dumb as streetlamps, but they are an undeniable presence in the room. They know they must be dealt with. You know it, too.
Establishing and maintaining eye contact is hard for most people. Nervous foot tapping can be ceased, nail-biting stopped, tightly folded arms can be loosened, but eye contact? It's either there or not there. And when it's not there, it usually points to a "problem".

More here. Read it to get rich, get laid or even just to avoid work. (Link to SmartMoney)

Monday, September 25, 2006

How The Gods Kill

Kamat's Potpourri has an interesting post titled "Rama's Mistake" about Rama killing the King of the Monkeys, Vali. (The full story. Kamat's site has a more "reader-friendly" version of the legend.)

Moral of the story: If you monkey around with your brother's wife, be prepared for some fatal ass-kicking.

Ever wonder if Rama attracted these violent situations into his life by virtue of being so moral and upright?

During my Ramlila-watching days, the Vali episode would always leave me just a little cold. Why couldn't a God distinguish between Sugreeva and Vali? Why did he shoot that arrow at Vali's back?

But this, and a couple of Rama's other equally disturbing choices, make the epic more "real". And maybe Ramayan is not about a "fully actualized God" but about a man on his way to "Godhood".

Bela Believes

This week's "I Believe" on NPR featured the guru of the Banjo, Bela Fleck. Ever the unusual interpreter of things, he talks about music, Gershwin and his grandfather's plumbing and about figuring things out his own way.

I Believe. (Link to NPR)

(According to Bela's website, he's working on a new album with his new friend)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

When A Fondle Becomes A Squeeze

"Based on general life experience alone, it is indisputably clear that a 25,500 euro charge is disproportionate to the compensation in question," Judge Hasse Hakki, who heard the case, told Reuters Friday.
Your Honor, we would love to hear more about your general life experiences. (SFW. Link to Yahoo)

A Glistening Drop Of Dew

Bohu din dhore, bohu krosh dure,
bohu byay kori, bohu desh ghure,
Dekhite giyachhi parbotmala, dekhite giyachhi sindhu,
Dekha hoy nai chokkhu meliya,
Ghar hote shudhu dui pa feliya,
Ekti dhaner shisher upore ekti shishir bindu.

(Trans: I traveled miles, for many a year,
I spent a lot in lands afar,
I’ve gone to see the mountains, the oceans I’ve been to view.
But I haven’t seen with these eyes
Just two steps from my home lies
On a sheaf of paddy grain, a glistening drop of dew.)
Joyful arrives at a very Zen-like conclusion about the city of Hyderabad, and on the way, quotes a beautiful Tagore poem. He also has a little gem of information in his commentspace about this poem and Satyajit Ray.

Doesn't that poem remind you of the atmosphere from Led Zeppelin III?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ring My Friend I Said You'd Call Dr. Riley

Uh-oh. Another Beatles' mystery solved. How long before someone tells us Paul is not really dead?

And just how does a dentist go from "Mr. Lennon, you must brush your teeth every night" to "would you like some LSD in your Listerine"?

Think about it for a second - were it not for a bold dentist, there would be no acid rock. The antiestablishment needs the establishment.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now They Tell Us

It's official. Homework is "at best a waste of time and at worst a source of tedious vexation." That sound you hear is the sound of a billion parents sobbing guiltily. (Link to

I am proud to say that I had figured this one out all by myself at the age of six.

I'm Thinkin' 'Bout The Lions

What do you get when you cross an Asiatic lion with an African circus lion?

A sickly, dying, immuno-deficient cat.

Story at Uma's.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Filling All Fruit With Ripeness To The Core

Fall is almost here and with it come friends and relatives. Colors! We want to see Fall colors! Why doesn't that tree have more colors! They want nothing less than a kaleidoscope-on-acid experience.

The Independent Traveler has a short but very handy guide to foliage viewing in the Northeastern USA. (link via Yahoo)

The best Fall colors I've ever seen are on my television - in the opening shots of Douglas Sirk's masterpiece melodrama, "All That Heaven Allows".

Just kidding. I prefer the mid-Atlantic/NJ area to the more popular New England sites because this area has a greater variety of trees, and therefore, a greater variety of colors on display.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cinema Cinema

Anyone noticed a curious bit of dialogue in "Lage Raho Munnabhai"? The DJ character asks Munnabhai if he has ever lied in his life. The character responds, "only once, in 1992".


But no, I was not all that impressed by the film. The first film was *way* superior.

I was, however, more than "all that impressed" by Mike Nichols' "Wit", which I also saw over the weekend. Emma Thompson takes the (cliched) cancer patient role and turns it into something sublime and painfully funny. She co-wrote the screenplay. Harold Pinter appears in the film too. Much rock and roll.

After I've watched a good film, and my senses are still buzzing, I start hankering for another fix. So, post-"Wit", I felt like re-visiting the little town of Rimini. The film was "I Vitelloni". I didn't know De Sica was initially offered the role of the aging (gay) thespian in this lovely film.

Naturally, after such a terrific film, I wanted to watch another film, and pulled out Louis Malle's "Au Revoir Les Enfants". The Wife being all-too familiar with the symptoms of my terrible addiction, suggested we go for a drive, and we did.
Have you noticed how watching a Fellini film changes the outside world?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thus Spake Woody

Schopenhauer railed against the aimless nibbling of peanuts and potato chips while one engaged in other activities. Once munching has begun, Schopenhauer held, the human will cannot resist further munching, and the result is a universe with crumbs over everything.
Classic, classic Woody Allen riffing wildly on all his favorite topics. It doesn't get much better than this. (Link to New Yorker)

Also posted on Blogolepsy.

Redefining Poverty

My 13-year old nephew goes to this village (somewhere near Nasik, I think) for "2 days of social work". The kid's weltanschauung (thanks, Alok!) is completely altered when he learns the villagers make do WITHOUT "Ruffles potato chips" and "Pepsi".

His feeling of shock is soon washed over by a warm wave of relief when he spots a little shop in this village selling "Mirinda". So, next day, these parched city slickers line up outside the shop to drink up their Mirinda. At the break of dawn.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Zappa The Conductor

My previous post on the conductor's job.

Cosmic Elevator, aka Ventilator Blues, pointed me to this delightful piece of video featuring Frank Zappa in which he talks about his method of conducting. As with all things Zappa, you are never sure if he is being serious or just pulling off a musical prank. Or both.

So laugh and learn. Why isn't there a cultural figure like Frank Zappa anymore?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cronenberg on the Andy Warhol Exhibition

The images of people jumping out of the buildings - he had already done paintings like that. It was a bizarre prophecy. He was very prophetic and accurate in his understanding of America, of commercialism, of capitalism, of its flaws and strengths.
Director David Cronenberg is curating an Andy Warhol exhibition in Toronto. (link to the Guardian, via the excellent 3QuarksDaily blog)

What Does A Conductor Do (And How Does He Do It?)

Back when Metallica played with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, a comedian on TV made a very funny observation: if a bunch of metalheads could play without a scoresheet, why did the orchestra need one?

The other logical question that he did not raise, but people often ask is, if the music is already written down, why does an orchestra need a conductor? Can't a group of 100 musicians just pull out the scoresheet for Beethoven's Ninth and start hammering away?

The Aug 21st issue of The New Yorker has a superb article titled "Measure For Measure" that examines the job of a symphony conductor. The article isn't online, but "Hard Drive" has a 27-minute video featuring clips of great conductors and the article's writer (Justin Davidson) talking about the conductor's work.

When people say they prefer Beethoven as conducted by a Mehta or a Karajan or a Solti, just what do they mean?

If you cannot access older issues of the magazine, watch the video and you will know just why an orchestra needs a conductor. (Link to New Yorker's Hard Drive)

Editor Saab

Who's dressed in green, yellow and purple with a pink, polka-dotted scarf around his neck and makes the most godawful movies?

The guest editor of BBC Hindi website.

I'm telling you, this man's earned so much good karma in his early years...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chicken Chettinad Preceded The Interrogation

Indian waiter, to a friend who was eating lunch with me:

"Sir, are you finished?"

"yeah, you can take that plate away."

"Are you sure you are really finished?"

I half-expected the waiter to switch on two powerful lamps and direct their beams into my friend's eyes.

"If you are really finished, like you say you are, then what are these 2 pieces of semi-chewed chicken bones doing by the side of the plate? ANSWER ME!"

Identifying A Not-So-Rare Bird: Indians Visiting India

Disclaimer: I've carried a bottle of Bisleri ONLY ONCE while visiting India. I had consumed some heavily poisoned chicken curry and before the attending doctor could say "E.Coli", I was squirting fluids out of all orifices at once. Fantastic pressure too. So as soon as I gained a hint verticality, a mineral water bottle was thrust into my hands.

My mother says the clothes are a sure giveaway. Others point to the much-maligned Bisleri bottle, or the alarming habit of saying "howzitgoin" to the milkman, the maidservant and the newspaper boy.

What are we talking about? Identifying an Indian visiting India. Hmph. (link to Churumuri)

Sure, some of it is stereotyping, but it is funny and true. Not so funny is the comment thread (at the end of the linked post), which, predictably, devolves into a dull India Vs. the West debate.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ramana Athreya And The Technicolor Dreambird

Bugun Liocichla is the latest multi-colored, feathered discovery from North-eastern India.

(I like how that story starts: "A professional astronomer has made the most sensational ornithological discovery in India for more than half a century." How does one go from astronomy to ornithology?)

Arunachal Pradesh, you may remember, was also the site of the most recent monkey species' discovery.

High Ate Us

Scout's "bring-me-back" campaign proved to be all too brief but successful. I am back.

Actually, the 5-day blogging break included travel, a wedding and the much-needed post-wedding recovery. For reasons that shall remain entirely private, I do not wish to hear the words "Jagermeister" and "Patron" ever again. Also the phrase "now let's get the golf cart out".

But let me tell you, you haven't lived if you haven't heard a New Orleans band play in a fog-shrouded field on a full moon night.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kashmere Stage Band: Old Funk, New Again

"This ever-changing crew of high schoolers recorded music that funked with the best of the best – forget high school bands, we're talking about sixteen-year-old kids who would give the JBs a run for their money!"
(excerpt from

Read that last bit again, will ya. A bunch of high schoolers could give funk and soul legends, The JBs, a run for their money.

The 2006 re-issue of the band's 2-CD retrospective has got rave reviews. (Links to Austin Chronicle and NPR.)

Do you dig it, man? (Link to free Napster track. Too bad if you live outside the US and get only a 30-second sample. Music this sweet and funky deserves to be heard all around the world.) has an excellent review of the re-release.

Attention Definition Disorder

My brain performed somersaults for at least a few seconds when I heard someone say "if the little girl has ADD, why don't the parents give her more attention?"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Sepoy Jihad Of 1857

"..but it is now unambiguously clear that the rebels saw themselves as fighting a war to preserve their religion, and articulated it as such."
BBC has an interview with writer-historian William Dalrymple, in which he talks about the role of religion, "suicide ghazis" and rebellion in the so-called "First war of Indian Independence".

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm Trying To Break Your Heart

My one and only breakup song is The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" (from their "Out Of Our Heads" album - how appropriately titled, I thought to myself, several tears in several beers later.)

The events preceding the breakup are hardly important now, but when I held that heavy wedding invitation in my hand, it's like I had alighted the train at Cliche Central.

I lit a cigarette with trembling hands, wiped fat, salty tears with my shirt-sleeve and having lost the ability to breathe, I stood by the tape deck and flipped through a gazillion tapes till I found "The Last Time". I wanted the perfect song to tell the world - and myself - that we had ended as lovers. When the song started playing - Brian Jones' recurring, circular guitar riff is burned into my memory - I sat down on the edge of the bed and thought about her, and us, over and over again.

There were a lot of tears, snot too, and when I could no longer stand the funk I was in, I decided to work my depression through not liquor or drugs, but through laundry. Nothing like a dash of Surf to dull the pain.

A few dirty shirts later, I grew tired of Jagger's voice. So I stopped the music, walked out of that room and felt tremendous relief - at being able to wear a clean shirt after ages.

Even now when I hear "The Last Time", I remember not the minor tragedy, but the warm suds around my fingers, the snot running down my nose and a stiff, over-soaped cotton shirt on my back.

My breakup ruined a great rock and roll song and I am not happy about it. You can read more stories of ruined breakup music here. (Link via Yahoo Picks)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin, RIP

This is sad news. (via Drudge)

Many of those creatures at the receiving end of his patented "woo hoo, isn't he a beauty" could hardly be called beautiful, but when Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, said it in his inimitable way, they did appear beautiful.

Workingman's Dead

We wake up on a beautiful Labor Day Monday and the first thing the Wife tells me is "I think I'm getting bored with my job".

Raaga Bhatiyar: I Want To Kill You

I have not read a funnier analysis of Raaga Bhatiyar, or any other raaga, for that matter.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Long Night's Journey Into the Day

We were up till 5:30AM. Drinking, naturally. By the end of the party, the Grey Goose vodka tasted like exceptionally sweet spring water. Or maybe I was drinking water. Anyway, thoughts are not very coherent right now.

Why is Bob Dylan ripping his fans by giving them unrippable music? (Link to BoingBoing) It is a shame. If I weren't so badly haungovered right now, I would write a letter and mail it to my local DJ.

On the other hand, the storm has cleared and I can see clearly now.

Friday, September 01, 2006

"We dedicate this one to the soldiers fighting in Milwaukee, and, uh, Chicago"

There's an entire blog dedicated to Jimi Hendrix's banter. It's called, not surprisingly, Jimi Banter.

My favorite Jimi banter is the one before "Machine Gun" on the "Band of Gypsys" album. It's both funny and touching - but after that 10-minute Stratocaster blitzkrieg, that banter sounds so meaningful.

It's sad that I am such a Jimi fanboy I find even his banter profound.

Feelgood Friday? Or A Self-Loathing Long Weekend?

All the world loves an underdog who fights back. And this guy is one heck of a fighter. (Link to Indianwriting.)

Why do I feel guilty after reading a story like this? Aargh. That terrible feeling that I just take my privileges for granted. A soft, rich, spoilt asshole.

Show Me Your Non Sequitur

Warren Buffett got married again. Good for him.

But look how that news story ends.
For her part, Menks has said Buffett is "the most wonderful man to live with," Lowenstein wrote. Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news), is the world's richest person and a Berkshire director.
So, are we to conclude that Gates may be the world's richest person and a Berkshire director but he is not a wonderful man to live with?