Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Staying At The Crossroads

Some photographs affect us for reasons we may never fully understand.

This picture of a poor little mongrel outside the Taj Mahal hotel had me thinking of another time. (Link to's fantastic and sometimes gruesome slideshow.)

Like so many others, I've hung around the Taj at hours when the city appears to be bathed in that beautiful sepia tone. (An attack of synesthesia: that sepia color "sounds" like fuzzy tube amplifiers and old guitars.) No doubt, the color comes from street lamps, but to me, it is the color of the feeling one gets when one is "in town" - in South Bombay.

It's hard to explain that feeling to someone who has never lived in Bombay's suburbs and does not know the significance of the words "I'm going to town". Those four words used to (and still do, I am sure) hold the promise of a very long night filled with music, friends, bars, noisy train rides, films and the sight of Bombay's rich and famous. In other words, to us suburban dwellers, downtown Bombay was an adult Disneyland.

The illusion of the theme park would start wearing off in the late, late hours. The reality of the hour-long train ride would be the first to appear on the horizon. Then the dread of the coming week at work. A mental picture of the damp apartments, cockroaches on the kitchen floor and the stifling claustrophobia. Of wet, squeaky rubber boots that smelled and the taste of too many cigarettes.

And so we would walk back to our train stations - some to Churchgate, some to VT. The street-side vendors would be asleep, confident that no one at this hour could possibly need belts, shoes, socks, self-help books, porn and plastic toys. We would walk through fine, old buildings and sometimes find ourselves at empty intersections, completely exposed under the warm glare of the sodium vapor lamps, just like that dog in the picture.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And You, Of Tender Years...

A picture of a child, probably at Cama Hospital(?). (link to

This Is Not Just About "Posh India"

A picture from to remind us all that this tragedy is not just about people who patronize luxury hotels. (Also see's coverage of the attacks.)

And a big, BIG fuck-you to NDTV for writing headlines like: "When posh India was held hostage".

Who Are The National Security Guards?

India's National Security Guards have been at it for more than 24 hours now. Boggles the mind. If you are interested, here's a little background information on them.

Mumbai Coverage

The Guardian's coverage is quite good and comprehensive. This one story in particular doesn't seem to be showing up on NDTV or ToI.

Also, if you are curious about what Pakistani bloggers are talking about, here's a site that aggregates several Pakistani blogs. (I don't see many blog-posts about this terrible event - just a couple.)

Update: Courtesy Neha, a post on Global Voices about Pakistani bloggers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai Attacks - Some Web Links has a page for today's attacks in Mumbai (via.)

Alltop's India page is another helpful resource if you want to scan headlines.

Update: A real-time grid of related Tweets (Via MumbaiHelp)


Thai Fishing Trawler Does Not Know How To Give Thanks

The International Maritime Bureau has claimed that the suspected pirate vessel sunk by the Indian Navy on November 18 in the Gulf of Aden was a Thai fishing trawler.
And did a captain ever sound so sad? "The sunken ship, which the Indian navy claimed was a mothership of pirates, was not the mothership at all," he said." (Link)

Wait, wait, don't shoot!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Man In Black + Unwashed Phenomenon = One Fine Session

How about some GREAT American music?

On Aquarium Drunkard, mp3s of a Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan session from 1969. Dylan sings in his "Nashville Skyline" voice and Cash sings in, well, his incomparable voice. (Just listen to him sing on "Girl from the North Country". Wow. Thanks to Wildflower Seed for the tip about the video!)

Several classics are covered: a swinging, rocking version of "Matchbox", "That's all right, mama", "I walk the line" (sounding more like a cool, pleasant stroll through a park), "Ring of Fire", "You are my sunshine" etc.

This recording settles all past, present and future debates about whether Dylan can sing harmony.

Now I am going to try hard to keep my mind from getting blown completely just thinking about Dylan and Cash occupying the same room.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Carnival of Light" - I Got Blisters On My Eardrums!

"McCartney says he wants to release "Carnival of Light," a 14-minute experimental track the Fab Four recorded in 1967 but never released.

The band played the recording for an audience just once, at an electronic music festival in London. It reportedly includes distorted guitar, organ sounds, gargling and shouts of "Barcelona!" and "Are you all right?" from McCartney and John Lennon."
I could not find a copy of this fabled recording online (there are mostly a couple of irrelevant YT videos and I am too lazy to look around). But honestly, the idea of another "Revolution 9" fills me with...meh. Unless they release the single with free hallucinogens. In which case, this could be the greatest song *ever*.

To me, even more interesting than the news of the release was the phrase Paul uses to describe the recording: "I like it because it’s The Beatles free, going off piste".

What the hell is "off piste"? It's a skiing term: Existing or taking place on snow that has not been compacted into tracks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Of Wolf And Man

"..big feet, big-boned legs and a big head. His eyes were very dark yellow, bordering on honey - and that is something that never changed. I wouldn't say he was 'friendly' - at least not in the way puppies are friendly."
A philosophy professor brings home a wolf cub. Hilarity (and an education in living) ensues.

Full story here (link to the Telegraph, via Metafilter.)

And this is the story of another well-known wolf.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mitch Mitchell

And so the Experience now jams in heaven. (Set list please, dear God.)

He was one of my most favorite rock drummers. Drummerworld pays tribute to the man.

A delightful piece of trivia at the very end of the tribute: "On the night that Jimi died, they had picked up Sly Stone from London airport and were looking for Jimi to participate in a jam." (The "they" in question are: Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker.)

A blog on the Telegraph remembers Mitch.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Long day at work. On the way back, you get cut off by an impatient driver.

But the traffic's real slow and he doesn't get too far. Soon you are driving right next to him.

"Free education" being your motto, you roll down your window and get ready to flex the middle finger.

That's when you notice the little blue "handicapped driver" sign hanging on his rear-view mirror.

Major Thambi To Ground Control

This is a day late, but never mind.

Chandrayaan-1 is there.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Here Comes The Light"

"Wow. What a day! I am taking in every moment of it. This summer, I did the Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodle-oo, and crossed the "mighty" Rio Grande (it is only a stream in Albuquerque); I drove through Cherokee nation, with a Truckin'-type situation outside Oklahoma City .... on July 4, and watched the sun go down over the mountains in Yuma, AZ. I saw the America of lyric and song and I never felt more alive. Today, I am brimming with hope. Yes, I get it. The more things change etc. etc. But revolution begins with a re-valuation. I'll take my chances with this one.

Ah Mother American Night, here comes the light"
Wildflower Seed commenting on a post on TR's blog.

Thanks, Wildflower Seed. Your words summed up my sentiments perfectly.

I have been listening to Delaney and Bonnie all last week. Here's one of their best songs, a stirring soul tune called "When this battle is over". YT has a rare video of the band performing this killer track.

There's a time for cynicism and now isn't that time. Right now, I hope you turn up the volume and rest easy knowing just who's wearing the crown.

Update: Falstaff breaks into verse. The result is quite lovely.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

270 Came At 11PM Eastern

Brian Williams just reported that Senator McCain called on President Obama to congratulate him.

McCain's conceding from his Phoenix HQ and suddenly he looks and sounds like the McCain of 2000, not the McCain of 2008.

What Time 270?

The situation here: eight Firefox tabs, Twitter, television, interactive maps, polls, what-if scenarios, emails, phone calls. And the "f5" button, of course.


The voting station was crammed with FIVE people. Three of them were volunteers and us two voters. There were no celebrities voting, no ballot-box capturing, no voter intimidation. Very disappointing.

I had barely come out of the booth when one of the volunteers, an old, soft-spoken woman, asked me if I had pressed the "red button". I said I did, mentally congratulated myself on making history and then panicked. Did I press the red button? Was there only one red button? I immediately retraced my step and a half to take another look at the machine.

The ugly yellow-green LCD readout at the bottom of the machine said "your vote has been recorded - thank you". There was no evil smiley face after that sentence, so I am assuming it's all good.

Exit Polling At The Gym?

As I was walking out of the gym this morning, another man who was also leaving (white, middle-aged and mustachioed - for demographic purposes) smiled at me and said "Phew! Such a relief to be done with it, you know? I really feel hopeful and so much less disillusioned now."

In my experience, people in gyms do not use words like "disillusioned".

I should have asked him if he had voted earlier in the morning (voting opened at 6AM) or if it was the workout that made him feel so positive.

Can a workout leave you feeling "less disillusioned"? No idea, but I am going to find out about voting and its side-effects in a couple of hours.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Weerr On Ourr Wayy Haem

An outtake of John and Paul singing "Two of us" in a Scottish accent. Delightful results, particularly in the middle of the song.

The video to the song is not original. It is a footage of the band rehearsing "Two of us" from another session (in which Paul breaks into an Elvis impersonation..)