Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Group Hug Finito

In which we blog from the Hyderabad Express, somewhere between Sullurpeta and Nellore

The revels are now ended. 3 days of hobnobbing and meeting lots of old faces, though not all the ones we would've loved to. Highlights
  • 2 runs, one on campus and one off, in the company of Kenny, her friend (now nationalized), and the Nitwit. Much fun, and very high speed. The flesh is capable of more than we had suspected.
  • Visited hostel room, used several unprintable words on cowering occupant, and hung out in general
  • Quote of the weekend comes (not surprisingly) from someone who is not an alum or even an engineer. Prof. Sen, (Abi has more), when asked, "Oh sir, what can we do to make India the next superpower, please tell us." says, "I don't know about you, but I don't have the least bit of interest in India becoming a superpower." Surprised quite a few people, I daresay. The loud and lonely clapping you heard from the extreme back row of SAC was yours truly.
  • One of the Women in Science and Technology sessions which we quietly slunk into to meet her who first forwarded us the WTF link was quite absorbing. Indeed, the WTF was mentioned, we're very proud of our baby
  • Dinner at Benjarong and breakfast with Siva, Gaseous Beyondus, and other respected elders
  • Sign on shop in Mylapore: "We do all kinds of grill work, welding and gollasible gates!" Gollasible gates! Mommee, we wants!!
Apparently such worthies as Abi and Choxbox were around, and were not met so that's a bit of a bummer. And no kili josier, which was devastating. More will be shared later. Typing with T9 is quite painful beyond a point...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick Bangalore Thoughts

Got in this morning. Getting out tomorrow evening. Salient points:

1. Freezing.

2. It's unbelievable, but Malleswaram does not seem to have a single darshini style eatery. Was ravishing when stepping off the train, full of anticipation of pongal and suchlike poisons but, to quote J. Krishnamurthi once said, "Malleswaram is an idliless land." Positively reeks of business opportunity.

3. Bought milk. Which is not unusual. Sibling who normally takes care of these womanly chores with alacrity, is not in town. So bought milk, some Nandini thing. Immensely gratifying tag line, "Quality excellence, from cow to consumer." Immediate ideas of extending said line up and down the dairy supply chain spring to mind. "Quality excellence, from grass to gastrointestinal tract." "Quality excellence, from topsoil to toilet." "Quality excellence..." Really, one could go on. The remaining possibilities are left as an exercise for the reader.

The packet also has said slogan in Kannada. It says, "Qualitydalli excellencu, aavimda giraakivarege." Or something.

4. Running suggestions in/around Malleswaram will be appreciated. 12 km. needed.

5. You can smell sampangi poovus on Sampige Road!

6. Soon, our minds will be read.

7. Australopithecus is hereby nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. For unearthing this. Not safe for work.

8. Finally a few concerned citizens are starting to something practical about terrorism. See 1, 2.

9. So is this pig.

10. Apparently, the porker is critical. This is what you get if you do too many laps without hydration, carbs and a warm-up routine. Or if you're a pig circumambulating a pillar endlessly with uniform angular velocity and no nutrition. And while we're on the subject, this video of Christopher Walken reading "Three Little Pigs" is highly watchable.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sampoorna Webpage Rewrite

Everyone knows WTF this is about, no?

A revisit to the group hug homepage reveals that the page in question has disappeared! Voila! Instead, we now have For the Family.
The theme for the Family track for this year's Global Conference is "Sampoorna – For the Whole Family".
In a reasonably clever move that prevents the raising of further blogical fingers, it says:
(All delegates to the conference, and any of their family members, are free to attend not only the sessions at Sampoorna, but any of the sessions making up the 6 thematic tracks, and the plenary sessions.)
Everyone can go everywhere, snail is on thorn and lark is deeply engrossed in an energetic rendition of Kumbaya.

There's still an undercurrent of mumbo jumbo, mind you.
The event explores through music and dance the impact of the five elements of the world, how it is being abused, and remedial measures that can be taken to stop the ecological disaster staring us in the face.
But we are going to strictly implement the advice Paul's mother Mary proffered.

The Mystic Trail has disappeared completely, instead you can play chess with Vishwanathan Anand (or Vandy, as he will be called on campus). All said and done a reasonably satisfactory conclusion, even if Shilpa Shetty is giving it a miss.

On campus investigations revealed the following.

1. The Mystic Trail was supposed to be more of a "gag" like thing all along, apparently. Of course, that wasn't entirely clear from the website. Anyway, good riddance. Hopefully the heartbroken josier is not lurking on Sardar Patel Road threatening to release his kili on unsuspecting visitors.

2. So, it turns out that the powers that be initially received lots of email and feedback about the WTF. This was given the same treatment that Dravid gives balls outside the off stump in Test matches. However (and here's the rub), the delicate stink from this whole affair had percolated through the blog world (thanks to A-list academic blogger types) and in mainstream media in a small way.

This caused a certain very very very important sponsor to apparently gently hint that changes in the programme would be "appreciated", and hey presto. Paisa bolta hai.

At the Choultry we're all extremely thrilled that the whole thing started off here. In the past, we've hinted at the duties of conscientious bloggers and so on, and apparently we were right. Anyway, that's that. Next, we are composing a rant on global poverty and we are sure there will be a similar speedy resolution to the same.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

On Living

Which we post mainly so that we don't lose this poem

On Living
         - Nazim Hikmet

Living is no laughing matter:
You must live with great seriousness
Like a squirrel, for example -
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter…
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy for example, you’ll plant olive trees -
and not just for your children either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier... .

Let’s say we’re at the front -
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
We might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
But we’ll still worry ourselves to death
About the outcome of the war, which could last years.

Let’s say we’re in prison
And close to fifty,
And we have eighteen more years, say,
Before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
With its people and animals, struggle and wind - I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
We must live as if we will never die.

This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars, and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet -
I mean this, our great earth.
This great earth will grow cold one day...
Like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space...
You must grieve for this right now
- you have to feel this sorrow now -
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say, "I lived"...

Translated by Randy Basing and Mutlu Konuk
Found over at Kafila at the end of a very readable piece by Nivedita Menon.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

One Possible Reason For The Economic Downturn

Seen today in the Q&A section of a prominent Indian portal:
Iam loss more than one lakhs in intraday trading, in 5 months there is possible for refund that money?
So these are the sorts of people who invest in the stock market.

Ans: "Dear Sir, of course it's possible to get a refund and I can help with the same. There will be a small downpayment of Rs. 50, 000 for which you can pay me in cash. Also, if you're interested, I am the owner of a large plot of land in western UP that I can offer you for a nominal rate. It is riverfront property with landscaped gardens and a semi-residential marble building constructed in the 17th century in the centre. Rs. 3 lakhs only."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Exhibit A

The book is (thankfully) back. Phew. Excerpt:
I'm often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I'm running? I don't have a clue.

On cold days I guess I think a little about how cold it is. And about the heat on hot days. When I'm sad I think a little about sadness. When I'm happy I think a little about happiness. As I mentioned before, random memories come to me too. And occasionally, hardly ever, really, I get an idea to use in a novel. But really as I run, I don't think much of anything worth mentioning.

I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way. I run in order to acquire a void. But as you might expect, an occasional thought will slip into this mind. People's minds can't be a complete blank. Human beings' emotions are not strong or consistent enough to sustain a vacuum. What I mean is, the kinds of thoughts and ideas that invade my emotions as I run remain subordinate to that void. Lacking content, they are just random thoughts that gather around that central void.

The thoughts that occur to me while I'm running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky as always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky. The sky both exists and doesn't exist. It has substance and at the same time it doesn't. And we merely accept that vast expanse and drink it in.
Almost Ruskin Bond-esque in its simplicity, but touches several chords.

Exhibit B

From the last scene:
So where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jenny, I believe that God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.

Exhibit C

All of which is a timely cue to revisit Sex Without Love.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Famous Last Words Dept (# 1)

Pre-requisite: Knowledge of Dravidian tongue, preferably Tamizh

King Pandu: Oru maadiri feeling..."


Friday, November 07, 2008

Songs I Would've Loved To Dance To (And A Dark Secret)

Of course, a whole other gigantic post is waiting. Long time, no post. Long to post, no time. In lieu, and mourning the demise of Worldspace in advance, we present 5 a few Indian film songs which we would've loved to dance to if we had the talent, necessity, insobriety, etc. In no particular order.

Song 1

Almost any Shammi song, of course. This one is merely one of the genre.

Song 2

For a movie of such overwhelming obscurity, Gumnaam is remarkable in that it has another eminently danceable song.

Song 3

Yes. Seriously. Ah woood, if ah coood.

Song 4

Ditto. Good ol' Madras in the mid-90s.

Song 5

Is actually marginally ahead of #4 in the list, but only remembered it now.

Song 6

An old favourite and a classic, even if there isn't much by way of dancing happening. Mmm. Amala.

Song 7

Oh, the 80s. Those trousers, that rhythm, those "steps", Maruti 800s and Premier Padminis, that tinny voice, ta-ta-ta-tatiyaow, ta-ta-ta-tatiyaow.

Song 8

We were looking for the Telugu version, which appears to not be available online.

Song 9

The latest and greatest. KK Menon is in fact the best dancer in Indian cinema. Ever.

Song 10

A deep, dark secret. Used to be utterly obsessed with this song for a period of about 6 months in 2001-2002. Not that we would want to actually dance to this song. Would we?

Would we?

Your turn(s).

Friday, September 26, 2008

WTF Of The Century

We are are very busy but interrupting normal programming to bring you this news flash. This has got to get enough eyeballs before they change/remove the page. Just got to know about this via email.

--- Begin Rant ---

The good 'ol alma mater is hosting this year's love fest/group hug/what you will. So while all the boys are hanging out comparing each others' dicks and portfolios and dislocating their arms patting themselves and each other on the back, hey the "spouses" need not worry. It's all taken care of, you won't be bored and sidelined. See what the page says:
While the IITian chooses to inspire, innovate and transform, here is an exclusive track designed to keep Spouses and Families completely informed and entertained.

The theme for the spouses' track in this year's PANIIT is "Sampoorna" - programs meant for the complete woman, who is able to perfectly balance her personal, professional and public personality. With this in mind we have a galaxy of presenters and performers who are bound to enlighten the IIT spouses.
Here's a little bit of mind-boggling deductive reasoning:

1. All the spouses of IIT alums are women.
2. Some IIT alums are married women.
3. Ergo all married women alumnae are married to women.

Someone needs to tell Kenny, Choxbox and who knows how many more of them to wake up and smell the coffee. There's a duties-of-a-wife poster that someone (SB, BM, Veena?) posted a link to once and we can't find. This is taking that to a new level. 21st century version.

If all this wasn't so thrilling in of itself, there is more later in the page.
Mystic Trail
In the afternoon our Mystic Trail will take you through some of India's most well known practices such as Astrology, Palmistry, Gemology, Nadi and Kili Josiyam.
WTF? WTF? WTF? WTF? WTF? factorial(WTF)factorial(WTF). This is a gigantic WTF, believe you me. In WTFland, it's called the WTGoogolplexF. And WTF doesn't HTML support the raising of WTF!s to powers of powers of powers of WTF!s?

Please excuse while we go off and burst some blood vessels.


And the sting in the tail.
Prepare yourselves for a close encounter with spirituality, fitness and food.

Shilpa Shetty
Start your day with an interactive session...
This is really the only session that seems worth attending at the whole conference at this point, but ah, read the fine print.
(awaiting confirmation)
Nonsense fellows.

--- EndRant ---

OK, back to the grind. Regular programming will resume after the saarangi vaadan is done with. Anon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best Hindi Movie Song Ever

We've believed this to be true for a long time, and have seen no reason to change. Yet.

Caveat: By "best" we mean the best "overall" performance, there are admittedly more soulful lyrics, more dulcet voices, superior music, possibly better cinematography (Really? Where?), better actors, better movies etc. but as a complete package, not many things come close.

Cinematographer talks about shooting the scene:

A long 3 part audio interview with him is available.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Photos, Nerdy Things, Pictures, And Sundry Items Which Are The Staple Here

-1. Ho Ho

0. Nerd Joke Alert
One for the nerds, let's get it outta the way pronto.

"There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who think in base 2, and those who don't."

1. How You Just Missed Making A Potload Of Money (But It Involved Mathematics)

A Mersenne Prime is a prime number that may be expressed in the form 2n - 1. Only 46 Mersenne primes are known, but it is possible that there is an infinitude of them lurking.

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search project has discovered the last 12, each of which except for the latest one was the largest known prime at the time of discovery. GIMPS works by distributing the computational work between volunteers' PCs. The GIMPS program runs when the PC is idle, quietly churning away.

GIMPS announced that prime nos. 45 and 46 were discovered in a space of 3 weeks on August 23 and September 6, which is pretty amazing. The person on whose computer #45 was discovered (Edson Smith who maintains computers for UCLA) gets $100,000 for discovering the first prime number with > 10 million digits. $100,000! And all you had to do was lend your computer. Suckers.

2. Oracellae And Such

The Marine Mammals Conservation Network of India has a new website. We have written about our encounters with marine mammals before, including this one. Nowadays, when we go running, we actually feel like a stranded marine mammal, that's what the cardio-vascular-respiratory system has become.

Be that as it may, do check out the website. Lots and lots of information, including much of Kumaran Sathasivam's excellent book on the Marine Mammals of India. Sekk it out, I say.

3. 'I'm going to die on Monday at 6.15pm'

Points to ponder. Reader discretion advised.

"When Marc Weide's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she chose euthanasia. Here, we publish his shockingly frank diary of her final days."

4. Love Theme

The Love Theme in RitiGowla is poised on a knife edge. Chapter V came out some time back, and faithful readers are clamouring for more and threatening homicide. If you go now, you can read all 5 and be all up to date, otherwise too many episodes will have passed, and this is not some 'Shanti' or 'Swabhiman' or 'The Pearl' that you can open the page anywhere and start yensoying. What do you think this is, book cricket?

5. Photoos

Begumpet, Onam eve (it-is-a-camel.com)

Alwal, Onammmm...

Early morning, 15th August, Madras Central station. We kid you not, this fellow was hanging out aaraam se in the middle of that gigantic concourse.

And that's that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Science Videos

Over at Wired Science, they've put up a list of the Top 10 Amazing Physics Videos. #1 is the recently famous "LHC Rap" thing.

And via Abi, we come to a video by something called Marie Curie Actions For Teens. How to explain chemical reactions to teens, is what it deals with. And so funny.

You must've been living in a hole if you haven't heard that approximately now, the people in white coats at CERN are going to fire up their latest toy and see what happens. Note that hadrons aren't colliding yet, this is just a dry run to send a beam of protons in one direction around the supercollider.

The good people over at Cosmic Variance are "live blogging" the event. The last entry as of this writing says, "Reporting now from the High Energy Physics conference room here at Caltech. In an hour and a half we’ll open a live feed to our colleagues at CERN, who will be updating us on what happens." And CERN has a webcast, if that's what you're looking for.

Are you wondering if the Large Hadron Collider has destroyed the world yet?

And finally, a medieval helpdesk video:

In Norwegian, with English subtitles.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Books, Award, Railway Wagons, Optimal Kerchief Management, God, Pigeons, Outlook Traveller, Graphic Novels, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Disease (With Pics)

Where we regurgitate everything

0. Books

Lots and lots of people are borrowing our books nowadays. We've resorted to using reminders on the trusty E51.

So far we know that Emma has Sea of Poppies; the Nitwit has What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; Mango Indian has A Short History of Nearly Everything, The God Delusion, India: A History, and a couple of Eddie Izzard DVDs; the girl upstairs has Santorini, The Five Dollar Smile: And Other Stories (yes, a moment of weakness); and the neighbour uncle has The Unquiet Woods and Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600-1800. So all of you beware.

Someone, but someone has our copy of Norwegian Wood. If you're reading this, holler. The other Murakamis on the shelf are beginning to miss this one.

Speaking of which, the running book is unmissable, especially if you've had running and/or writing ambitions and lived in Cambridge, MA or Japan. One of the good things is that it de-mystifies Murakami quite a bit, and suddenly he is this ordinary runner guy (well, sort of, he runs one marathon every year) with ordinary running troubles. Lots of little things resonate for anyone who has engaged in long distance running. For example, that mysterious question that non-runners will pose, "What do you think about when you're running?" It's a bit of a baffling question for someone who's past the 10 mile mark. What are we thinking about? Nothing, really. To put it in a different way, who the fuck knows? It's a strange state, quasi-meditative, self-transcending and what have you. The book results in repeated mental revisits of Sharon Olds poem.

1. Awards

The good Imam has done the unthinkable and nominated us for some pink coloured award. Thank you, thank you. Curiously enough, Pragya (who through a complicated and unfathomable chain of links has been lurking here) also nominated us for said pinkie. Thank you, thank you. Now we needst pass it on. So here goes. Pretty much the only rule we're following in this is that the blog has to be a personal blog we read regularly and is not already on the blogroll.

1. Australopithecus - Sample: "Another thing that worries me about these Americans is the use of the word momentarily. I almost shat in my trousers when the pilot announced 'we shall take off momentarily'."

2. Barmy in Wonderland - For kaaryakshetra adhyayan and suchlike. Also for contributing some mufat ka gyaan.

3. Wisecandyman - Who will surely one day shuffle off the mortal coil during the video question at a quiz shortly after he has consumed industrial quantities of esoteric cuisine, thus neatly bundling all his passions into one compact event.

4. The River's Wing - Who really ought to write more often.

OK, that's it, have lost enthu. There's still a boatload of stuff to write in this post. Sue us. And we set all these worthies free of the obligation to continue the tag. So there. Muhaha.

Speaking of awards, we made a little bit of money at the Landmark Quiz on Aug 15 in Madras. This has duly been spent in Landmark on such things as The Watchmen; Common Sense and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine; The Open Society and Its Enemies; I, Claudius etc. One of these days we'll write the definitive What Rs. x,000 Buys You At Landmark post, but till then what Rs. 3,000 can get you at Landmark is diddly squat.

3. Railway Wagons

A lot of time has lately been spent on trains, as readers will doubtless be aware. It's been very pretty too, what with all the rain and lushness. Behold, somewhere in northern Andhra Pradesh, dusk, Howrah-Madras Mail.

And there's the Godavari, all pregnant and ominous. Is there such a thing of joy as a bowstring girder in the middle distance?

But on these journeys, such of us who are wont to worry about such things, are plagued with unanswered questions of the following nature. Ever so often, you will pass a railway siding or a freight marshaling yard where there invariably are forlorn looking goods wagons lying about. This is a heartbreaking sight, especially at dusk, when there is a slight drizzle, especially. They look orphaned in a way that your average passenger coach never does.

The worst ones are from the far off railways. Nothing is more tragic than a rusting North East Frontier Railway wagon on an Erode siding, catching the last rays of the sun refracting through a light shower, silently watching the Salem and Coimbatore bound traffic thunder by with nary a care... Makes you cry. Oh, once in a while you'll find an engine that's as far removed from home as our wagon. A Tughlakabad WAG-5 in Thootukudi is nowadays not an unusual sight, but it's different for locomotives isn't it? The key word being locomotive. The thing could find its way to Delhi or Dehradun if it wanted to, innit?

Not so for the poor goods wagon. It's in our mind's eye, lying there silently in the gloaming, at the foothills of the Nilgiris. Meanwhile a clerk in Bongaigaon or Dibrugarh scratches out its serial number from a long list in a smudge-ridden, dog-eared, ledger in a dusty office in the Brahmaputra valley. Sigh. Think about it, the next time you see one of these.

4. Optimal Kerchief Management

Is this even possible? Are we to resign ourselves to the sad truth that there is a black hole or other such spacetime anomaly in the cupboard, into which kerchiefs disappear? We've bought 20 kerchiefs in the last year, and can barely find one when we need it. In pensive moments, we break into song. With Bong accent. "Bhere do you go, my lobhely? I bhant to no..." Where do they go? (That song, by the way, is one of those instantly evocative take-me-back-to-the-90s-when-STAR-TV-had-just-been-invented specimens.)

Is there some way of ensuring that all times 3-6 clean handkerchiefs are available for consumption in some easily accessible place? Please help.

5. God

See 6.

6. Pigeons

Assumption: There is no god. Therefore, species evolve according Darwinian principles of natural selection and genetic mutation.

(i) Pigeons exist.
(ii) They are unquestionably the dumbest creatures on the planet. Staring deeply into a pigeon's eyes for about 3 milliseconds will make this truth instantly self-evident. If you aren't convinced, send us an application in triplicate and we will put a post on such topics as "pigeons; IQ of", "pigeons; cranial cubic capacity of", "pigeons; taste of" and so on which will doubtless convince you.
(iii) And yet they flourish. By the gazillion. If natural selection and all those fairy tales were true, they would at least have to have gone the way of the Kakapo or the Jerdon's Courser. But, nahiin. They darken the skies with their pestilential coochiings and cooings, and dive-bomb terrified, helpless Grand Slam winners. Did they go off in some distant past and engage in some ghoulish coupling with Stuka (Junkers Ju 87)?

Anyway, they exist, and seem to thrive.
(iv) Assumption must be wrong. Ergo, god exists.

Corollary: Given this sort of blatant bias towards an unfit species, the only logical explanation is that the biased One is Itself one of the beneficiaries. Ergo god is a Pigeon.

Jai Guttur Dev.

6. Outlook Traveler

Hah. Thanks are due again to Lesley because the Konaseema piece is finally out in print. Outlook Traveller recently released their 45 Weekend Getaways from Hyderabad book. It's not in the stores yet, but we have an author copy ("author copy", "author copy", oh delicious sound) and find that we're rubbing shoulders with the likes of William Dalrymple and Sheetal and are very kicked. Please buy in industrial quantities.

7. Graphic Novels

Who would've thought that there's something new to discover once you're 30+? As Jamesh Bond put it, "Never Shay Never Again" or whatever. Lately we have been lapping up these ones. That Man Keynes With His Execrable Urdu started us off by gifting us Maus and Persepolis. Then along came El Spaniardo with Amruta Patil's Kari, and the alea was well and truly iacta est. Latest couple of bouts of bookbuying have resulted in Tezuka's Buddha and the aforementioned Watchmen joining the ranks. Are we done? Do we need to do more? Sin City and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen beckon, but not much else.

It is so important to have all the volumes just so in the shelf, don't you think?

Popper, Calvino, Moore, Window, Balcony, Laundry (A Juxtaposition)

8. Happy Pillayar Day

Today it is. We spent some quiet time in the evening on the terrace and thought we'll share some of the pictures with our hapless breathless readers.

The view from the balcony

Sunset - I

Sunset - II

Close observation will reveal a sliver of moon that has been causing hullaballoo in certain parts.

Sunset - III

Sunset - IV

Silhouette - Self Portrait

Jalebi vendor - Begumpet

puja pandal, apni galli mein

9. Disease

We have mumps.

10. Bonus

Does anybody remember this?

Zing Thing

Found in a 1980s copy of a magazine/Indrajal comic on the CFL premises. Brought back some memories. Was it good for you too?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Of Walt Whitman, Thread Deadlock And Suchlike Pandaemonium

Substitute all the dining philosophers with blog posts waiting to be aired, and this more or less describes the situation.

Song of Myself

Do I not blogpost often myself?
Very well then I do not blogpost myself,
(I am large (you bet!), I contain many blogposts.)

Among the posts jostling inside are the following

  • Random travelogue with pictures and so on of trip to parts south

  • Long-ish thing continuing where we left off on the neural Buddhism thing, with brief detours into why religions suck, why it's not reasonable for well off middle-and-higher class types to run off to people like Sri Sri Sri (how many nowadays?) Ravi Shankar expecting peace and happiness, why there is no god, why there is a god and She is probably a Pigeon and so on

  • Why we've taken to graphic novels in our dotage, and how it has completely flabbergasted and flummoxed us that we'd actually get interested in a new art form at this late stage in life

  • A little something on Murakami's latest which being a combination of Murakami, writing, running, and Boston/Cambridge is utterly irresistible

  • A review of A Sea of Poppies which we volunteered in a moment of insanity for well known Peruvian junkie but didn't do and instead got beaten to it by el Spaniardo

  • Lots more Large Hadron Collider stuff, including the LHC rap thing which is hilarious and en passant I Will Derive which is also funny (but very nerdy)

And so on. It'll all have to wait.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ghazal Du Jour

Why write something when someone has already said it and you can copy-paste?

itanii muddat baad mile ho
kin socho.n me.n gum rahate ho

tez havaa ne mujh se puuchhaa
ret pe kyaa likhate rahate ho
kin socho.n me.n gum rahate ho

kaun sii baat hai tum me.n aisii
itane achchhe kyo.n lagate ho
kin socho.n me.n gum rahate ho

ham se na puuchho hijr ke qisse
apanii kaho ab tum kaise ho
kin socho.n me.n gum rahate ho

-- Mohsin Naqvi

Ghulam Ali sings.

The most famous Mohsin-Ghulam Ali combo offer is of course ye dil ye paagal dil mera, kyon bujh gayaa avaargii. Video.

But itanii muddat has more kashish for us, what to say?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How Do They Heat The Tea?

The facts.

1. 2786 Bangalore City-Kacheguda Express leaves Bangalore at 1820 every evening.

2. Because it's an overnight train, there is no pantry car.

3. There is however an IRCTC crew on the train. They will take dinner orders and between 7:30 and 8:30 deposit some comestible wrapped in silver foil at your seat.

Presumably they load this stuff when the train leaves Bangalore, and dish it out when the the omens are right.

4. Now (and listen closely, this is the interesting bit), this train is supposed reach Kacheguda at 0540. 0515ish, selfsame IRCTC check-shirt wallas will circulate through the sleeping vestibules, hawking garamaa garam coffee and tea.

So the question naturally arises: At something past 4 in the morning, with nary a stop/station in sight, where/how are these fellows able to concoct hot tea/coffee?

The only (scary and painful in light of recent events) explanation we have at the moment is that somewhere on the sleeping car express, they are lighting a stove or other such and heating/brewing the beverages.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Neural Buddhists

A friend sends us a link to The Neural Buddhists (free subscription may be needed) on the New York Times website. Read the whole thing, it's not very long. Here's a couple of paragraphs from near the end:
First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships. Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. Third, people are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is.
In unexpected ways, science and mysticism are joining hands and reinforcing each other. That’s bound to lead to new movements that emphasize self-transcendence but put little stock in divine law or revelation. Orthodox believers are going to have to defend particular doctrines and particular biblical teachings. They’re going to have to defend the idea of a personal God, and explain why specific theologies are true guides for behavior day to day. I’m not qualified to take sides, believe me. I’m just trying to anticipate which way the debate is headed. We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution. It’s going to have big cultural effects.
We expect we were supposed to comment on the whole piece, and so we did.

Overall reaction: It's like the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy's description of the earth. Mostly harmless.

Nevertheless mildly annoying for its slightly supercilious tone, especially when referring to "militant atheists" and "hardcore materialists". A sort of, "Look, there are human experiences that are 'transcendental', that can't be explained by science, and are best described as having to do with the 'spirit' or 'soul' and maybe there's something to this whole spirit/god thing after all."


Here's what we had to say (excerpts from email, edited for anonymity etc.):
Kind of bogus op ed, no? Construct straw men, light match, dance in glee around the flames types.

This guy misrepresents a number of things knowingly or unwittingly and is trying to find a conflict where none possibly exists. Some comments:

The first paragraphs are possibly trying to be neutral in tone, but taken together seem to be disapproving of materialism. See such phrases as "militant materialism", "free will is an illusion", "human beings are 'hard-wired'.."

Then he has stuff like, "Over the past several years, the momentum has shifted away from hard-core materialism. The brain seems less like a cold machine. It does not operate like a computer. Instead, meaning, belief and consciousness seem to emerge mysteriously from idiosyncratic networks of neural firings. Those squishy things called emotions play a gigantic role in all forms of thinking. Love is vital to brain development."

I don't think any of the "hard-core materialists" claims that the brain is a cold machine, or that they know how meaning/belief/consciousness emerge from neural firings. They will gladly admit that it's a mystery, it's interesting, it's a great scientific problem to study. Their biggest objection is to people taking the weird option of calling these mysteries "god" or "soul" or whatever. What's the problem with just leaving it a mystery?

"Genes are not merely selfish, it appears. Instead, people seem to have deep instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment. "

This is a bit of a fake move. Disclaimer: I've not read "The Selfish Gene" in full myself, but I've heard this argument advanced here and there, that instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment are somehow incompatible with "the selfish gene". I think Dawkins' rebuttal to this is that "selfish" is almost a bad choice of adjective, the gene isn't "selfish" in the sense of people being selfish. It's not sentient and thinking it's way through existence. There's no reason why selfish genes are incompatible with fairness/empathy/attachment and all the touchy-feely stuff, in fact they probably explain the touchy-feely stuff. Fair, empathetic, emotional beings are probably in the interest of the "selfish gene", which is only concerned about spreading itself far and wide. Anyway...

"Scientists have more respect for elevated spiritual states."

Again, a bit of a naming issue. What "spiritual state"? What "spirit"? Wouldn't the same sentence be equally true if he'd said, "Scientists have more respect for the physiological effects of meditation (or opium or sex or chocolate)."

Why is he trying to work in something called a "spiritual state" as though "spirit" exists and it has states? If it's just a euphemism for a physiological condition, shouldn't he use the language of science to describe it?

The other thing is that he carefully avoids mentioning what the so called "militant atheists" and "hard-core materialists" think about these "spiritual states", transcendence etc. Paul Harris (one of the militants), for example, is into meditation and so on because he finds value in it. I don't think any of them denies that there are such things as transcendent experiences, it's just that they refuse to ascribe a "god" or "spirit" as the reason for them. In the worst case, all we can say is, "Well, these things exist, and we don't know yet how they work."

"The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real."

Again BS, no? What "larger presence"? Just because someone's mind seems to think that it has merged with a "larger presence", suddenly this "larger presence" exists?

"This new wave of research will not seep into the public realm in the form of militant atheism. Instead it will lead to what you might call neural Buddhism."

This is almost funny, if it weren't so sad. Isn't Buddhism itself as it's core atheistic? So what's this guy saying, that he's just changed names and is calling "atheism" "neural Buddhism" from now on?


"Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. "

Ha ha. That's probably because they're all fundamentally the same creature, same genes, same physiology! If anything, it actually buttresses the case for the selfish gene.

"Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is."

So basically he's saying, "Hey there's all this stuff we don't know about and don't have explanations for. Let's call it 'God'." I say, "Hey there's all this stuff we don't know about and don't have explanations for. Let's call it 'Tingripoo'." Same difference.

Bugger isn't saying anything fundu at all.

You may have a different take on this. We can talk :PP Let's put some chai sometime!
We've agreed to have chai next week. Watch this space. Meanwhile, we're off to contemplate the Great Mysteries of Tingripoo for a bit...

Friday, August 01, 2008


Morning coffee - check
Bath - check
Pongal vada - check
First day, first show - check

Monday, July 28, 2008

Google Est Mort


Soothingly black.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


1. Back in biryani land after extensive and hectic perambulations in parts west and south. Should be around for a few weeks, at least.

2. Flu-like throw-uppy symptoms are manifesting. Consider yourself warned. This is all a cosmic indication that haircut is in order.

3. Chief achievements from last week involved getting on evening rush hour local at Dadar and off at Vikhroli, via 1 nos. oily slime from port side of machli dibba to starboard, during a temporal and spatial lull in the continuum as a gigantic sack was bunged into said dibba. Don't ask.

Also, industrial quantities of beer with Kenny, CSM and others.

4. Tip of the week: If you find yourself jobless between meetings in Colaba, a highly economical way of staying unmelted and passing time is to slip into the National Gallery of Modern Art. For Rs. 10, you will get (i) free locker to keep your bags (ii) loos (passable) (iii) air conditioning and (iv) 4 floors of Raghu Rai. Some pictures a bit contrived, some very good, the best we thought were the ones of musicians. Kishori Amonkar, Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kumar Gandharva - all lost in some quest which we can only barely begin to comprehend. And one very ominous one of Mrs. G.

5. Kenny, in a somewhat inexplicable and insane move, donated a copy of Sea of Poppies. Just finished it and duly handed over to Emma. And the verdict is...drumroll...

It's not as good as (we thought) "The Hungry Tide", "In An Antique Land" and "The Calcutta Chromosome", but better than "The Glass Palace". It's somewhat stilted because (the thing being an historical novel) the man has to convince us that people spoke and behaved the way he has shown in the 19th century, and the man sometimes falls short. Still an easy "unputdownable" read, lots of good "fundas" on history and biology and sailing and music. High point: When he describes the Ibis preparing to set sail - the preparations on deck, the river, the heightened expectation, the taut sails... V. well done. Low point: Having to wait for 2 more volumes. Bleddy J.K.Rowling...

6. Spent some time inside the Kapaleeshwarar Koil in Mylapore on Friday. Spic and span place, maaamas and maamis doing a visitor pattern on all the little shrines inside. High point: naadaswaram guy and accompanists going from little shrine to little shrine and doing one kutti musical offering at each. Higher point: Same dudes doing long pause outside the Rama (must've been) shrine and spending extra time on brochevaaru evarura? Quite delightful.

7. Random links for your viewing and other pleasures

* The quiz is on.

* You really should be reading the Hackszine. Seriously. Ultra cool stuff there. Like LEGO robots that (i) solve Rubik's cube (ii) play records (iii) and also something sort of Minority Reportish called Direct Video Manipulation.

* The Evil Empire could really do this. They're a hairsbreadth away.

8. So long, then. We'll see how often posting will happen.

Friday, July 11, 2008

अर्ज़ किया है

Which PJ came to us between the pongal vadaand the filter coffee

Update: The font size sucked on the text display, ergo image.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Greenko Hyderabad Open Quiz

It's turned into a bloody quiz announcement blog, hasn't it?

The Hyderabad Quiz Club is happy to present, in association with the Greenko Group, the Greenko Hyderabad Open Quiz.

Follow links for details.


A splendid time is guaranteed for all, apparently.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

We're Back?

For a bit, anyway.

1. Know all sentient beings by these presents that our cell phone was stolen/lost on an overnight train the night of June 26th-27th. If you've tried to call/SMS between that time and about 30 minutes back (1900, 3-Jul-2008, IST) and wondered why no replies where forthcoming, well, now you know.

This also means that we've lost all your numbers and stuff. So you'll have to email us that stuff.

2. This also means that Phone Selection Agony (Re dux) is in full swing. Current frontrunner is the Nokia E51.

3. They've written a song about us. It's called Pappu Can't Dance, Saala. Go listen.

Most of the lines don't apply to us ("muscular", "popular", "blue eyes", "Rado", "gaadi tez", "diktha angrez" and so on). But bang on target about the "can't dance, saala."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Phase Forward ACE Corporate Quiz 2008

Gentle reminder - II, mit poster

Thanks to everyone who helped with Mahaquizzer. Another quiz is on the cards. It has a blog.

The Hyderabad chapter of Asha, in association with Phase Forward and the Indian School of Business present their annual summer fund-raising even, the Phase Forward ACE 2008 Corporate Quiz.

Date: 14th June, 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Venue: Khemka Auditorium, ISB, Gachi Bowli, Hyderabad

Quizmasters: Quizerati

Prizes: A total of Rs. 50,000 +

Entry: Rs. 5000 per team of 2, Rs. 4000 per team if more than one team from the same organization, Rs. 4500 for the Early Birds (before May 31st)

More details, entry forms, FAQ etc. on the website.

Do help Asha by being a sponsor or participant, and with publicity etc.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tag Tag

Orey kallile rendu maangaa

Tag, the First

Space Bar asks whoever wants to to take up Swar's tag.


1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.


1. No Fuss Cooking - 100 recipes you can't go wrong with by Sheema & Jhampan Mookerjee.

This book seriously rocks. Sort of like a hard copy version of Cooking for Engineers. We've mastered the Ratnagiri fish curry, and the jhal sprouts thing. Very easy.

2. Right. Done. Thank god I picked a book that has a 123 pages. [Where have we heard this line before?]

3 & 4.

"Fry over high heat for 5-6 minutes till mutton turns brown. Add ginger and spice powders, and sauté for a minute. Stir in 2 tbsp curd."

In case you're wondering, this is from a rogan josh recipe.

5. Whoever wants to take this up. [Where have we heard this line before?]

Tag, the Second

Emma has got one and names us by name, so how to not respond?


The following is apparently a list of books, "most of them sitting unread in people's bookshelves to make them look smarter". The rules are: bold the ones that you have read, underline the ones you have read in school, italicize the ones you have started but didn't finish.

One doubt. School = high school and earlier, or in the American sense, college? We will assume former.

Our list is going to suck ass. But what the hell.

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
2. Anna Karenina
3. Crime and Punishment
4. Catch-22
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude (I think!)
6. Wuthering Heights
7. The Silmarillion
8. Life of Pi: a novel
9. The Name of the Rose
10. Don Quixote
11. Moby Dick
12. Ulysses
13. Madame Bovary
14. The Odyssey
15. Pride and Prejudice
16. Jane Eyre
17. The Tale of Two Cities
18. The Brothers Karamazov
19. Guns, Germs and Steel
20. War and Peace
21. Vanity Fair
22. The Time Traveler's Wife
23. The Iliad
24. Emma
25. The Blind Assasin
26. The Kite Runner
27. Mrs. Dalloway
28. Great Expectations
29. American Gods
30. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
31. Atlas Shrugged
32. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
33. Memoirs of a Geisha
34. Middlesex
35. Quicksilver
36. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
37. The Canterbury Tales
38. The Historian: A Novel
39. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
40. Love in the Time of Cholera
41. Brave New World
42. The Fountainhead
43. Foucault's Pendulum
44. Middlemarch
45. Frankenstein
46. The Count of Monte Cristo
47. Dracula
48. A Clockwork Orange
49. Anansi Boys
50. The Once and Future King
51. The Grapes of Wrath
52. The Poisonwood Bible
53. 1984
54. Angels and Demons
55. Inferno
56. The Satanic Verses
57. Sense and Sensibility
58. The Picture of Dorian Gray
59. Mansfield Park
60. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
61. To the Lighthouse
62. Tess of the D'Urbervilles
63. Oliver Twist
64. Gulliver's Travels
65. Les Miserables
66. The Correction
67. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
68. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
69. Dune
70. The Prince
71. The Sound and the Fury
72. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
73. The God of Small Things
74. A People's History of the United States: 1492-present
75. Cryptonomicon
76. Neverwhere
77. A Confederacy of Dunces
78. A Short History of Nearly Everything
79. Dubliners
80. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
81. Beloved
82. Slaughter House- five
83. The Scarlett Letter
84. Eats, Shoots and Leaves
85. The Mists of Avalon
86. Oryx and Crake
87. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
88. Cloud Atlas
89. The Confusion
90. Lolita
91. Persuasion
92. Northanger Abbey
93. The Catcher in the Rye
94. On the Road
95. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
96. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
97. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Enquiry into Values
98. The Aeneid
99. Watership Down
100. Gravity's Rainbow
101. The Hobbit
102. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences
103. White Teeth
104. Treasure Island
105. David Copperfield
106. The Three Musketeers

Also, abridged stuff read in school didn't count.

There's an obscene amount of Jane Austen in the list, also Thomas Hardy, Dumas, no Richard Dawkins/Daniel Dennett. It's a very odd list. Please don't judge me by it.

We pass this on to "Whoever wants to take this up." [Where have we heard this line before?]

This Just In: This is turning out to be one superbly popular pair of tags for some reason. So far, the following unfortunates have succumbed to the charm:

Srinivasan Balasubramaniam Thirugnanasambandamoorthi
Kenny has promises to keep, and miles to go before she sleeps
Imam Waspsoro has finished with the saga of Subtle Subramanian and spread the tag

Watch zis ispace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mahaquizzer 2008

The 2008 edition of the Karnataka Quiz Association's annual individual written quiz Mahaquizzer will be held this weekend. This is an open quiz.

There are prizes for best overall quizzer, best woman participant, and best student participant. Please carry valid identification if you are competing as a school/college student.

Write to kqaquizzes [AT] gmail [DOT] com or mahaquizzer [AT] gmail [DOT] com to register, mentioning which city you would like to appear from in the subject line.

Date: 18 May, 2008 (Sunday)

Reporting Time: 0930 (Please be in your seats by this time. No one will be allowed in after 0945.)

Innobox Systems Pvt Ltd
#G19, Ground Floor,
Swarnajayanthi Complex,
SR Nagar, Hyderabad - 73


Directions: From Punjagutta, take the road that goes towards Ameerpet. Cross the Fantoosh-greenlands road junction. Keep going on the road till you see HUDA Complex- Maitrivanam on the RIGHT. Swarnajayanti Complex is the complex immediately after the HUDA complex on the RIGHT.

Hyderabad Coordinator: Satyajit Chetri (91-99591-89943)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Help! Classroom Needed!!

The 4th edition of the Karnataka Quiz Association's annual summer written individual Mahaquizzer quiz is scheduled to be held at 9:30 a.m., on Sunday, 18 May.

The powers that be (1, 2) are finding it hard to get a venue for the Hyderabad edition. Previous versions were held in college classrooms (St. Francis, Begumpet and this other college in Marredpally).

Help is needed.

A classroom (school, college) or other room (preferably with desks) that can seat 50-70 people and is available between 9:00 a.m. and 01:00 p.m. on May 18, 2008 is being sought. If you know someone who can arrange this, please email quizhyd [AT] gmail [DOT] com and mark a copy to choultry [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Or if you know Ludwig, you can call Ludwig.

Please to help.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

2 Ways Of Looking At A Cycle With A Basket

Which are random thoughts inspired by morning bike rides

Eos rhododactylos (this be new favourite expression) had barely shrugged off the stifling embrace of a very warm night and started to do her dance in the sky when we dittoed off the dittoed ditto of a very ditto ditto ourselves and careened about the silent (except for 3 million trucks and 17.74 million call center cabs) roads of Hyderabad.

We were on our way to a 5:30 a.m. at rendezvous for a run around/near KBR Park in Banjara Hills. It struck us that

(a) We hadn't showed people the cycle before
(b) We hadn't ever taken the bugger out this far before

Those who know will tell you that the road from Nagarjuna Circle to KBR Parks is a long and relentless climb, with a pause at the mosque near Q Mart where the load revels out a bit and lets you catch your breath. All the months of wondering why the thing had 15 gears came to an end when we hit this stretch. They are necessary, friends, necessary. Age doth wither and custom stales the dainty feet and legs and they need the help of mechanical advantage...

Parked at KBR, drank half of water supply (bad move), duly put one horrendously exhausting wheezifying perambulation of the thing, and then wheeeeee.... Slipped into top gear and screamed down the hill at a terrifying clip.

Now a salient feature of this hill is that while coming down, right near the bottom, there stands a superior eatery that rejoices in the name of Chutney's. Curiously, we'd somehow managed to slip in a Rs. 100 note into the shorts pocket, so we were able to stop off at said establishment and order a steamed dosa parcel thing. This we slipped into basket, and furiously pedaled home because eos rhododactylos had hurried away with alacrity, and was replaced by solaris iwillgiveyousunstrokus which wasn't very pleasant.

dosa was had, coffee was drunk, Sunday papers, etc. etc. A parallel thread of thought was running all this while, prompted partly by an incident a couple of weeks back where a bunch of young boys advised the Nitwit (who owns the same bike) to get rid of the basket, and the carrier and hey presto, "masth poriilu ostaaru anna, impress aitaaru!" (trans: "hot chicks will come and fall for you!").

So what's to be done about the basket? Thesis and antithesis:

A grown man cycles by,
Puffing and panting,
With basket attached.

Cycle with basket attached.
Steamed dosa. MLA pesarattu.

The possibilities.

So far we're leaning towards letting the basket stay. Apart from this unexpected bonus of being able to carry tiffin home, it helps with groceries, Xeroxing and so on.


This was from a few days back, breakfast at chez Ludwig, mit pesarattu, dosa podi, allam pacchadi und filter coffee.

Note (12-May-2008): Certain person has been going around acting all snooty in the comments section that we don't make pesarattu from f'(x) = lim Δx -> 0 [f(x + Δx) - f(x)]/Δx type principles. Let all be notified by these presents that the pesarattu was indeed made via standard operating procedures (soaking overnight, grinding etc.) So was the podi (but by the maternal unit). The coffee is filter coffee (Mr. Bean brand from Tata) percolated by yours truly, with water fetched in earthen pots from the village well by yours truly (yes, it's quite a sight), and the milk was from our own pet bovine Kamu (short for Ms. Kamadhenu Gomaata) freshly extracted that very morning (by yours truly). The ginger pickle is out of a bottle. So there.

Bad pictures courtesy of phone. Camera ist kaput.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dearest One

In which we write a letter

This was in the inbox today. Normally don't pay attention, but aaj mood aa gaya. From Mike:

Dearest One (WTF)

My name is Mike Dennis Keita from Cote D'Ivoire. I am 19 years old and a student. Please I would like you to assist me as urgent as you can,before they kill me.My father is a wealthy cocoa merchant.Trouble began early last two year when my father's associates began suspecting that my father is not givingn proper accounts of all the tonnes of cocoa being cultivated by local farmersn in some villages.

This mistrust deepens between Oct-Sept, 2005 when they discovered avery large some of money my father deposited with a Bank here in ABIDJAN-COTE D'IVOIRE (FORMALLY (WTF) IVORY COAST in West Africa. As a result of this discovery and the envy on the money he was poisioned by his associates.At his hospital bed ,he revealed to me the reasons of his sickness and directed me where to get the documents of the said deposit which he made on my name as the next of kin,being the only child.

He dvised me that in case he die, that I should not stay in this country Cote D'Ivoire because his associates will equally kill me hence (WTF) my mother had died five years ago of breast cancer.

He also instructed that if he dies, I should look for a foreign partner who will help me to transfer the money out of this place (Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire), to his account and the person will help me to invest the money in that country. Based on this, I had to contact you bearing in mind that you will be humane enough to protect my life. My father finally died on the 5th of june,2006 and since then, I was out of school and went into hiding because of my father's asociates. All the relevant documents of the ($8.2 Million United States Dollars) that was deposited in a Commercial Bank by my late father, are with me now.

I will give you 20% of the total money, if you can help me transferring it into your Account, for onward investment in your country. Please contact me immediately with the above E-mail address and include your telephone and Fax numbers to enable me send you all necessary documents asregards the money before they kill me. It is a risk free transaction.(WTF)

I'm waiting for your urgent reply.
Best regards.sincerely,
Mike Dennis Keita.

The following reply was composed extempore. Should we send it?

Respected Sir (or Madam, as the case may be)

I humbly beg to introduce myself Pulusu Cheepurupulla Vengayam Sambar Pappu, from Kankipadu, ye small villaize in East Godavari District., India. I am 31 years old and a loser. Please I would like you to assist me as urgent as you can, before they kill castrate me. One of my close relative, namely my uncle's brother on my
mamaiah's daughter's chittappa's chachehre bhai's side is a coconut farmer. Trouble began late last year when my close relative's goolies began suspecting that he is not giving proper counts of all the shenanigans that their "master" was up to, including but not limited to the local livestock in some villaizes.

This hanky panky deepens between 3:37 and 3:43 p.m. of Oct 23, 2007 when they discovered a very large bum of honey he deposited with a Bank here in RAJAHMUNDHRY (FORMALLY RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM) next door to backside of VIJAYAWADA (FORMALLY BEZWADA) in South South East India. Then shtarted struggle! Why? As a result of this discovery and the envy on the honey he was poisioned castrated by his goolies. At his hospital, he revealed to me the reasons of his high pitchedness and directed me where to get the chastitty belt of the the deposit of the said goolies which he made on my name as the next of kin, being the only other dumbass he knew.

He devised me that in case he reach G#, that I should not stay in this country India because Alka Yagnik is already there for those notes and the people will surely kill me hence my mother is a giraffe from Tristan da Cunha with a side of
ulli chammandi.

He also instructed me that if he dies, I should look for a foreign partner who will help me to transfer the honey out of this place (Rajahmundhry), to his account the person will help me to invest the honey in that country. Based on this, I had to contact you bearing in mind that you will be humane enough to protect my life. He finally (finally!) died yesterday because his face happened to be under a pillow I was sitting on, I was out of the asylum and went into Chilakaluripeta because of his goolies. All the relevant documents of the (4.7 Million Konaseema Coconuts) that was deposited in a Commercial Bank by my late relative, are with me now.

I will give you 20% of the total honey, if you can help me transferring it into your Account, for onward plantation in your country. Please contact me immediately at choultry AT gmail DOT com and include your name, address, date of birth, mother's maiden name, social security number, first pet's name, first school's name, ATM card number, bank account number, ATM PIN code, credit card number, online bank transaction PIN, numbers of any hot chicks you happen to know, and your telephone and fax numbers to enable me send you all necessary coconuts one at a time before they kill me.

It is a risk free transaction.

I'm waiting for your urzent reply,

Best regards,


Your obedient servant,

PCVS Pappu

Connoisseurs will recognize shades of Money (YouTube video).

PS1 No, we don't know what goolies are.
PS2 No, there are no giraffes in Tristan da Cunha.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Richard Stalkey

Which pun whoever deciphers will get a sandwich (see below)

Life has been somewhat hectic, to say the least. First however, lunch. We made lunch. Observe.

Ham, egg and cheese sandwich. Juice. Fruit. Pretty bloody fantastic, even if we say so ourselves. This was a workday lunch. Below, is the weekend game version of lunch.

Not very different at all, no? This "food tableaux" photo business has potential that needs exploring.

Also, we will make sandwiches for anyone who can guess which saliva inducing sandwich making movie scene inspired this bout of sandwich making.

Wall poster in Begumpet, today:

Subhash asks us to tell you that if he doesn't answer the phone, please leave a masaj after the peep.

A poem. No particular reason.



Joy Davis

Which poem lets us segue nicely into the link fest.

Why Modern Poems Don't Rhyme, Etc.: Frequently asked questions about the business of verse, by Robert Pinsky.

Q9: Well, I like poetry that is amusing, that maybe makes me chuckle a little. I'd rather read something reassuring and light than something complicated or gloomy. Is that bad? Does that mean I am a jerk?

A9: Yes.


Via Richard Dawkins, Evolution: 24 Myths and Misconceptions. Evolution cannot be disproved and is therefore not science seems most promising.

Horribly poignant story. Gen Peter van Uhm took command of Dutch forces in Afghanistan on Thursday. His son Lt Dennis van Uhm (23) was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Friday. Friday's attack is not thought to have specifically targeted the new military commander. Is that good? Or bad?

On a related note, Andrew Olmsted, a US soldier in Iraq left a blog post that was to be published in the event of his death. It's up now.

If you haven't, Google up Randy Pausch and see "The Last Lecture".

Physics on women.

Points for identifying the equations.

In other education related news, the Supreme Court of India recently issued a judgment upholding reservations for OBCs in India. In general terms we're quite happy with this, no complaints. Now if only they'd do away with the death penalty, Section 377 of the IPC, and other such monstrosities.

In general, the desi blog world has been pretty solidly against reservations, and you can find as many posts as you feel like. Posts in favour on the other hand, have been far and few in between. As usual, a good starting point is Abi. Of particular interest may be a paper titled "Affirmative Action in Education: Evidence From Engineering College Admissions in India" by Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago), Rema Hanna (New York University), and Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard University). Mullainathan has featured in these pages before for the paper Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? (PDF)

kuffir as usual is very powerful. His latest posts have been about the "creamy layer" (low fat, apparently). This link appears to be broken at the moment, but it leads you to kuffir's quest to find blogs about both sides of the issue.

Speaking of Abi, he has started The Hindu Death Spiral Watch along the lines of Brad DeLong's New York Times Death Spiral Watch. Currently featured in The Hindu watch is their fairly icky news (as opposed to their insane editorial) coverage of the protests in Tibet. Nandigram started it all off, and Ludwig humbly submits this one as another example of faff passing off as news.

A heartening (if old) piece about The Girls of Bihar. Read all of them ('I stole Rs 5 from my home to buy a pen and a note book' for example). Or

We began swimming in the village pond when we were very young and people began telling us we were good. We trained in our village against the wishes of many villagers and try to be our best with whatever resources we have.

We wake up at 3 am every day and go to the pond to swim. We run and swim to build our stamina and swim for two-and-a-half hours every day. Then we come home, eat vegetable and roti and walk to school. It takes us an hour to reach school.

I don't eat anything during lunch because I am not eligible for the mid day meal scheme (the free lunch given to children up to Class V), so I stay hungry till I get back for dinner.

The Delhi Walla follows Sadia Dehlvi around on her new three wheeler!

Apparently Yale has 40,000 and not 4,000 artifacts from Machhu Picchu as previously believed. What are they on? Ayahuasca?