Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Theories !!

Theory I : "The ambition opportunity paradox"

Written in response to a friend's question on "Who are these new TMC voters? Can't they see what's happened over last 3 years in WB?". 

As context, in WB, TMC has increased their votes by 17.65 lacs in 2014 LS elections vis-a-vis 2011 Assembly elections, while LF's vote has decreased by 36.18 lacs and BJP's vote has increased by 67.57 lacs. !!!

WB economy is still largely dependent on agriculture. It remains biggest producer of rice and vegetables in the country. Industrialisation is primarily a mirage. The basic issue there is, WB is so densely populated its not possible to build large scale industry without displacing rural population from their multi-crop land.

The burgeoning population and corresponding increase in young voters need an economic outlet. They are not per se interested in agriculture and they are heavily exposed to media which sells them dollar dreams and reality shows. So what can they aspire to be? Most of them invariably leave the State to find jobs outside (notice how many restaurants employ bong waiters?). The ones who are left are invariably caught in the vicious circle of land deals, brokerage, middlemen, promotership, real estate, low level govt jobs including teaching and get rich quick schemes like Sharada. For all these you need political patronage. Left had successfully made this a base of their political cadre-ship through what I call "paiye deoar rajneeti". So if you are seen as a active party worker you would gain an unfair advantage in all these areas. In effect, party politics had become your primary occupation without any sort of ideological attachment. Same thing is continuing in a bigger scale with TMC. Only the colour has changed. And the veneer of ideology is also gone as TMC is a party run by people who have risen only through vicious manipulation of the system and voter psyche and they do not care about ideology at all. Their only job is to hold on to power and to manipulate it to gain more power. And this work only through populism and more populism (grant to Sharada affected, bribes to mullahs, pandering to matuas etc.) without any long-term development.

You can say Left has got cleansed as a result. The people who were there only to get economic mileage are now all with TMC. The question is how long they can hold on to even their existing cadre without a prospect of any economic gain. And how to get WB out of this self-defeating political quagmire?

The most telling comment on above amateurish analysis came from another friend. According to him, our current CM has successfully imported the rest of India's caste / community / glamour based politics to WB in order to upstage and uproot Left's "outdated and increasingly irrelevant thought processes" (at least perception wise). BJP is a better player in the same game as the national result shows and this is going to hurt her in future.

Theory II : "I want it NOW"

We have all started suffering from attention deficit disorder to some extent. Call it the curse of the mobile generation / continuous social media immersion. instant gratification is the name of the game. For example, just notice how long you can stick to one channel on TV or how many pages you can read in a book at one stretch. I would think both of these have drastically reduced from our past.

Well, the politicians will suffer big-time as a result of our reduced attention spans. We as voters / citizens want something (most of the time not knowing what that something is) and we want it NOW.

I predict non-fanatic Modi supporters getting bored with his perceived inaction in less than a month. 

Achhe din ka to pata nahi, bahut hi interesting din aane wale hai !!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bandra : Unplugged

The following piece won a prize and has appeared in the Celebrate Bandra Souvenir for the Bandra Festival in Nov'09. Some would surely find echoes of a past post, but in these days of Pritam-da's music, everything is "inspired".
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Some find their Bandra in the rarefied, testosterone rich air of swank Gold’s Gym, where personal trainer sculpted bodies of celebrities rub shoulders with overweight wives of diamond merchants, huffing and puffing on the spinning machines. Where fitness is more of a fashion statement, liberally spiced with giggles, whispers and some overt attempt at catching the target’s eye, rather than just a boring work-out. Where every casual hello between strangers is laden with the unspoken promise for at least a coffee at Gloria Jeans, maybe a drink at Firangi Paani and a definite attempt at something more. After all, Bandra is as close to NY as we can get, right?
For some, Bandra is in the salwar kameez-ed, t-shirt-ed drove which descends on Almeida Park every Sunday afternoon. The small shy groups which turn bolder as time passes. Where the lucky maid always finds the romantic driver to run away with over a shared plate of sev puri. Where street sharp slum children always find some new rich kid to bully near the broken swings and slides. Where tired horses keep going around in circles to feed their owners. Where the street lights coming on in the evening leads to a collective sigh as participants in this strange courtship ritual resign themselves to another week of back-breaking work.
Some find their Bandra in the quaint little one-story bungalow sandwiched between glitzy glass facades of brand-new buildings on Turner Road. The one with the crumbling side wall, lingering smell of Goa sausages, the overgrown hedge and the scrupulously clean wooden cross at the corner. Where the old lady of the house wearing her faded burgundy dress walks haltingly, while the shaggy brown dog pulls at the frayed leash out of habit. Where the perpetually out-of-work son dozes on the front porch to cure last night’s hangover right next to the overflowing ashtray, his dreams rich with surreal promise of the next high.
For some, Bandra is as simple as finding the next place to park their car as they negotiate the small bye-lanes full of Honda Civics and Skoda Lauras. The monsoons bring their own flavour to this game, ensuring a slushy pitch where daily battles can be fought between paani-puri vendors, unconcerned cows, the neighbourhood druggie looking for a dry place and countless four wheel drives, breeding like cockroaches. The result is as always, a tense stalemate.
Some find their Bandra in that short stretch where the paved Carter Road promenade suddenly descends into the squalor of the koli fishing village. Where the stink of drying fish and unwashed bodies replaces the aroma of coffee and expensive anti-perspirants in an instant. Where similar groups of well-dressed teenagers hang out, mindlessly puffing their Davidoffs while wearing the same vacant expressions as the world walks past them. Where the weekend jogger juggling the IPod, IPhone and the Blackberry stops abruptly and hurriedly turns around maybe in fear of crossing that unseen line into the unknown.
For some, Bandra is the multitude crossing the Lucky signal, always running for the next Borivili or Virar local as they unconsciously try to flee the queen of the suburbs. Some glance at the kababs on display with barely concealed hunger. Others wonder at the utter futility of the spanking new Skywalk supposedly being built for their benefit. Most concentrate on simply avoiding getting run-over by irate drivers, desperate to reach home as the maximum city runs its daily instalment of the north-south marathon. Maybe some of them run after having glimpsed the rotting core underneath the flashy wrapper of Bandra. Or maybe they have other dreams to chase while nightmares chase them in turn.
Some rebel at Bandra in their own way, when their screeching bike tyres meet the burning road on a Friday night. The tattoos, the studs, the leather jackets all tell their own story. The story of the unaccountable rage, the steadfast refusal to be pigeon-holed, the failure to comprehend and to be understood. Maybe their only solace is writing “Knights Rulz” and “Kings Sux” in big bold red letters on school buildings as they create their own version of Harlem in their minds. Or maybe its just too boring to write “Bean Bags 2640 7383” over and over again.
So where is your Bandra tonight?
Is there any other place you would rather be?
I know … not really, dude.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri revisits familiar territory in her latest. The haunted land of bengali immigrants.

By now, you almost know each of the characters inside out, the pining for home first generation, the angsty rootless second and their sometimes confused, sometimes empathic partners. They meet, they talk, they think of home, they brood, they keep rediscovering each other and sometimes they take a step too far.

As always, the things to watch out for, the folk-talesque simplicity of the narrative and the curious way of presenting the case without any value judgement. So much so, that you forget all about the author and her stand. This in my opinion, is what makes Madame Lahiri so poignant as a writer. Like, come on, she's definitely no Rushdie or Amitav Ghosh. Rather, her strength is to present characters with all their typical bong educated middle-class vulnerabilities and make readers wonder what would they be doing faced with such situations.

All in all, its more of the same. In case you have liked Interpreter of Maladies or The Namesake, there's no way you are not going to like this one, even if the dish is a bit stale. But then, we all like panta-bhat, don't we?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tag team

Tagged by him.

Let me gush about my new-found circulating library, first. Its a wet dream come true.

Tucked in a corner between the Bombay's lousiest lounge bar called P.U.L.S.E. and the HDFC Bank ATM on Hill Road, N/books, Sales & Library should immediately be declared a national treasure.

Charges are 150 per month, 1 book at a time and 250 bucks refundable deposit. You can change as may times as you wish. To a somewhat energetic reader like me, that works out to about 25 bucks per book.

And here is the list of the books I've borrowed so far :
  • Artemis Fowl, The Eternity Code - Eoin Colfer
  • The Alchemy of Desire - Tarun Tejpal
  • Franny & Zooey - JD Salinger
  • Portrait of an artist as an old man - Joseph Heller
  • The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
  • Children of Hurin - JRR Tolkien
  • Love in a Blue Time - Hanif Kurieshi
  • Half Moon Investigations - Eoin Colfer
  • Needful Things - Stephen King
  • Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Maximum City - Suketu Mehta

Not your run-of-the-mill street corner kabadiwala cum circulating library, eh? In addition the books are in pristine, virtually new condition.

I was actually thinking about not letting out this secret to anybody, but you know, what-the-hell ...

The book I am reading now is obviously the last one in that list. Hasn't quite made up my mind up on this one. Definitely better than Shantaram, definitely worse than Sacred Games. But overall, not very defining to a forced resident, like me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Post-mortem

I write therefore I am. Easy to preach, hard to practise.

At least that's all I can say after looking at the meagre output of this blog over last 6 months.

What started off as a cool sort of diary, did evolve to a window into my own mind and its peculiar hang-ups amongst other things. But like all self exploration trips it soon got bored with itself. What was left was a simple act of entertainment, a self-indulgent expression of my cynical world view. The absurdities of this joke called life, if you please.

However, self-expectation is such a lousy bitch.

For instance, what if you don't like what you write, won't want to read it yourself? What if, indeed.

That brings us to the moot point of this post, What's next in the life of our intrepid adventurer, i.e. this blog?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Desperation

No, this is not about the average (by his standards) Stephen King thriller.

This is about the desperation of writing something. Anything that can remotely resemble a post.

This is also about drunken nights and groggy mornings ... and numerous tuneless renditions of "Mauja hi Mauja" ... and some bizzare hand / feet / paunch movements passed off as daringly different dance moves.

Yes, the party season is here. The time to feel older than you are and act younger.

Like a lot of things, it starts with the alcohol. After about half a lifetime of consuming the amber stuff, your liver just shrugs indifferently at any fresh influx and simply gets on with its job muttering mild profanities. Sadly, your brain does not behave the same way. For some obscure reason it wants to drop all pretensions of sobriety by addling your logic, fuzzing your memory and slurring your speech.

So when you next catch yourself in the middle of an embarrassingly vulgar depiction of male bonding on the tunes of "Beedi Jalaile" while your wife is watching with increasing shock / horror, do not contemplate the Agra asylum. It happens to the best of us. And it really does not matter if the label is Black and not (mother have mercy) Green.

The other problem is of the expanding middle. The only thing worse than cavorting with a room full of fat friends is noticing the fact that you have the biggest paunch of them all. And the fact that you don't even have the heart to think of New Year resolutions.

No wonder, some people spend this time of the year avoiding people like plague, staring at their Goa photos from 99-00 and sighing a lot.

Well, life goes on as well-meaning people never stop reminding us. Now if only I can figure out, where mine went.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Three movies and a funeral

Laaga Chunari Me Daag
After the competent "Parineeta" (never mind the hilarious 'tod Shekhar, tod" last scene), Pradeep Sarkar delivers an absolute turkey. Actually, some Star Plus serials are little better. Rani Mukherji doing an eerily perfect Sukhen Das imitation, is stuff nightmares are made of. In hindsight, we know what Badki should have done instead of selling herself to anonymous amorous strangers in big bad Bombay. She should have gone to Cal and joined Nottyo Company, instead. And am I the only one who does not like Jaya Bachhan's (perpetually pinched eyebrows) second innings? And don't even start me on Anupam Kher. Fresh cow-dung is what I would call his performance. The only one coming through with any semblence of reputation intact is Konkona. One ends up feeling sorry for her being in such a mess. Abhishek & Kunal were better off having an affair between themselves rather than going for the girls.
Jab We Met
Just when you think, Socha Na Tha cannot happen again, boy-meets-girl is too formulaic and done to death, Imtiaz Ali surprises you again. The first half of the flick waltzes along with a breezy freshness that has little to do with the lead pair. Its the bloody script, stupid. The dialogues are extremely funny in parts, pedestrian in bits and above average for most. You expect the film to fail miserably with the second half, and for about 25-30 minutes it does hover quite close to the precipice. I mean, a screeching Kareena and deadpan Shahid is far better than a deadpan Kareena and screeching Shahid. Thankfully, normal service is resumed soon after with an unintentionally hilarious performance from Tarun Arora, who is forced to bathe and visit sugarcane fields while Kareena is being stolen from him. Overall, worth a watch. Aap itne se convince ho gaye, ke aur kuchh bolu?
Saawariyaa
Unadulterated overrated overhyped pathetic self-indulgent crap. In case Mr. Bansali wanted to pleasure himself with his hands, he should have had the decency to do it in the privacy of his bedroom (presumably having bedspreads, curtains, blankets and carpets in various shades of blue). The kids, Ranveer & Sonam, look comprehensively lost in the middle of an utterly bewildering set. And one can't help but sympathize with them. At least they make an honest attempt, never mind their limited expressions. The person solely responsible for this dodo, is one with the initials of SLB. But then again, maybe I don't understand Russian literature. Actually after watching this ridiculous excuse of a masturbation, I don't want to.
Om Shanti Om
Tired of reading my stuff? Read this one instead. And yes, I loved this mindless montage too. Maybe more so, because I saw it right after "Saawariyaa", but frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. Yes, the in-jokes rock and so does Farah Khan. The most innovative end credits I have seen. The spot boys in a Merc and the executive producer on a cycle was cool, no? And I counted 31 + SRK = 32, did you?
Afterthought : Just because the movie is so deliberately over-the-top, nobody detected how bad SRK was in the movie. All his mannerisms /terrible hamming etc. can be passed off as "fitting into the character / movie". But then, we always knew he was somewhat histrionically challenged, didn't we? They still go to watch him, don't they?