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?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Buy One, Get One Free

Which is about a jugalbandi

Just got back from Sunday evening concert at the Ravindra Bharati. "Bombay" Jayashri Ramnath in the South corner, and Shubha Mudgal (who even has what seems to be a very up to date blog) in the North.

Now pretty much everyone knows that we have issues with frequencies in general. Cannot tell some in the visual spectrum apart, ditto also with audio frequencies. We have a very eclectic music taste, dipping into this, that and the other. Another way of saying the same thing is that we're tone deaf.

Be that as it may, Ms. Jayashri has long been on the "want to attend live performance" list, and so also Ms. Mudgal (perhaps just a little less, not having heard much beyond ab ke saawan). Tonight was a chance to remedy this, and it really was worth it. Both the ladies seem to have a base octave (or whatever) that is nicely lower than many of their higher pitched contemporaries, which is definitely one reason why we like them.

The whole Jayashri thing started off (perhaps like for most people) with that vaseegara song. This was to Jayashri what ennavale was to Unnikrishnan, and random sampling of more of her stuff resulted in much joy. Then we read Baradwaj Rangan's interview with her. She makes a point which possibly sets her apart from the rest of them.

Because down the ages, we’ve had it drummed into our heads that the essence of Hindustani music is shringara, love, while Carnatic compositions are capsules of bhakti, or devotion. And here’s Jayashri, implying otherwise. Or is she, really? "This is bhakti, but to the music – not to Krishna," she says. "We're not in an era where we're into that kind of bhakti. Because if it's just bhakti, and if it's just about Krishna or Rama, why would I – someone who doesn't come from a very religious or ritualistic background – revel in it? I don't think I love God more than I love music. Why would a European sitting there, who doesn't know the difference between Krishna and Rama, listen to this music for two hours? Why are instrumental concerts so popular? Do we know if the performer is playing a kriti in Kannada or Telugu, or if that kriti is talking about this lord or that deity? Our music is not about religion."

More power to you, lady. Mudgal's blog seems to be very interesting, isn't it great when someone like her has a post called Eeks! Look what I found! with a bare midriff picture of Rakhi Sawant?

Back to the concert: It was 90% good (there was one Hindi song that didn't quite fit too well). Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla and Embar S. Kannan (whom we've heard so often on Worldspace) on the violin, the mridangist and the haromniumist were all very nicely in sync, and seemed to sincerely enjoy the evening, which really helps. The percussion (oxymoron alert) jugalbandi tanniavartanam was a big hit with the audience, these things usually are.

They started off with saraswati namostute in saraswati raagam, did a kamaas/khamaaj thingy and so on. The bestest piece we thought was something called pAyum oLi nI enakku pArkkum/papiihara mat bol, very soulful and tragic. We can find the lyrics to the Tamizh song, but need the meaning. Can't find the Hindustani one anywhere. Help!!

A splendid time was had by all.

pAyum oLi nI enakku pArkkum vizhi nAn unakku tOyum madu nI enakku tumbiyaDi nAnunakku
vAyuraikka varugudillai vAzhi ninran mEnmaiyellAm tUya shuDar vAnoLiyE shUraiyamudE kaNNammA
2: vINaiyaDi nI enakku mEvum viral nAnunakku pUNum vaDam nI enakku pudu vayiram nAnunakku
kANumindOru ninran kaNNin oLi vIshudaDi mANuDaiya pErarashE vAzhvu nilaiyE kaNNammA
3: vAna mazhai nI enakku vaNNa mayil nAnunakku pAnamaDi nI enakku bhANDamaDi nAnunakku
jnAna oLI vIshudaDi nangai ninran jyOti mukham Unamaru nallazhagE Uru shuvaiyE kaNNammA
4: veNNIlavu nI enakku mEvu kaDal nAnunakku paNNU gati nI enakku pATTinimai nAnunakku
eNNi eNNI pArtiDilOr eNNamilai nin shuvaikkE kaNNin maNi pOnravaLE kaTTi amudE kaNNammA
5: vIshu kamazh nI enakku viriyu malar nAnunakku pEshu poruL nI enakku pENu mozhi nAnunakku
nEshamuLLa vAn shuDarE ninnazhagai EduraippEn Ashai madhuvE kaniyE aLLu shuvaiyE kaNNammA
6: kAdalaDi nI enakku kAntamaDi nAnunakku vEdamaDi nI enakku viddaiyaDi nAnunakku
bOdhamuTra pOdinilE pongi varum tIn-shuvaiyE nAda vaDivAnavaLE nalla uyirE kaNNammA
7: nalla uyir nI enakku nADiyaDi nAnunakku shelvamaDi nI enakku kSEma nidhi nAnunakku
ellaiyaTra pErazhagE engum nirai pork-kaDarE mullai nigar punnakaiyAi pOdum inbamE kaNNammA
8: tAraiyaDi nI enakku taNmatiyam nAnunakku vIramaDi nI enakku veTriyaDi nAnunakku
dAraNiyil vAnulagil shArndirukkum inbamellAm oruvarumAi samaindAi uLLamudE kaNNammA

Friday, April 11, 2008

On The Road - Funda, The Fifth

More RaamaayaNaa, geekiness, no science (haven't had time to trough at the feeds), and so on

One more trip to Madras. Phew. Time to move? Not much this time by way of audio-visual media. Almost duffilled again, this time in Kavali. Completely forgot that the Madras-Tenali line is a double line, was blissfully waiting for the crossing train to cross, and wham, off she went. Made it back on board in one piece, as you can see. Almost slept all the way through to Hyderabad, luckily the pandemonium at Sec'bad was pandemoniacal.

This picture, of a tired Coromandel Express gliding into Central should soothe you.

The RaamaayaNa is suddenly all over the place. We pointed to one source in funda IV. We come back to find (via this Passion for Cinema post) that there's an animated movie called Mahayoddha Rama that's in the making apparently. The trailer shows a glimpse of what RaavaNa is going to look like. Most disappointing.

There seems to be (i.e. some (mostly North Indian) friends and acquaintances have told us) that this whole RaavaNa-as-a-sympathetic character is a figment of the loony Dravidian chauvinist fringe imagination. How then, to explain, that at least some of mainstream pauraNic Telugu cinema is very sympathetic to the dude? See any of the YouTube clips of Bhookailas, for example. RaavaNa is played by NTR, no less!

Or Falstaff's interpretation, more power to him. And also Nina Paley's (via Samanth).

In 2002, Nina Paley got dumped by her husband, over email. But instead of reaching for the nearest bottle of Prozac, Paley began to sketch. The result: Sita Sings the Blues, an animated retelling of the Ramayana and of Paley’s own break-up, set to the 1920s jazz of Annette Hanshaw.
I didn’t understand why my husband had dumped me, or why I still loved him and wanted him back, but apparently Valmiki was writing about such things 3,000 years ago.

The Hackszine has a post on "Relational database using jQuery and HTML tables" i.e. a relational database implementation (joins and all!) that runs inside a web browser thanks to HTML and some voodoo called jQuery! Seems wayy too cool.

There is a somewhat intimidating discussion going on at Space Bar's. Positively terrifying, actually. Wovon mann nicht sprechen kann and all. There's something about writing poetry in a programming language or something that caught the eye, and we beg to drag everyone's attention to Perl Poetry.

Jacob Cass has 2 fantastic posts (1, 2) about "Awe Inspiring Must See Creative Photographs".

Sepia Mutiny has been most interesting, lately. Ennis points us to the "Kenya sings *" series. For example, Kenya sings India, i.e. Jana Gana Mana. Absolutely fantastic to see a bunch of Kenyans give it a go. National anthems don't do much for us, seeing as we're horribly afraid of nationalism and patriotism, but this is somehow different.

Abhi writes about the Washington Post's much talked about Pearls Before Breakfast experiment (wasn't this on NPR some time back?). The idea:

Writer Gene Weingarten helped orchestrate a brilliant “stunt” on commuters passing through L’Enfant Plaza last January in order to take a stab at settling the debate above. He took one of the most gifted violin players in the world, dressed him up as a humble busker in jeans, and asked him to play his 3.5 million dollar violin on the metro platform. Who would recognize brilliance? Who would even stop?

Go on, read the whole thing. All sorts of questions about art and taste will emerge.

Abhi also has a post provocatively titled Don't let your desi mom read this post.

Especially if you are a smart, attractive, single desi woman.
... recently published, The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox, which makes use of game theory to explain why the best women often end up single and alone if they wait "too long" to get married.

Don't shoot the messenger.

We've either lost or lent out our copy of "A Poem at the Right Moment: Remembered Verses from Premodern South India".