How I became a “pure non-vegetarian”


My earliest memory of food is eating roshogollas at our neighbour, the portly Mrs. Sen’s flat in Bokaro. Other memories from that age—three—and later, mostly include things I did not like— milk, brinjals, karela, spinach and yogurt. Over the years I’ve made peace with and even begun to like all these, except yogurt, for which I retain a strong revulsion.

Read the complete post at Antiserious.


Why the BJP is proud of Varun Gandhi

…because,according to Dr Murli Manohar Joshi,who too now has a blog,

In our traditions…(t)here is a universal cosmic connectivity and through that connectivity, the mind boggling diversity becomes a unity. Therefore the approach to life, non-life, the void or anything else we come across was holistic one.The void is not ignored as an empty space or a lumpen matter as something lowly.

Budget Bonanza for the Indian Farmer!

The Rs. 60,000 crores loans waiver to the small and marginal farmer is little more than the corporate taxes foregone by the government in a year. Yet, we have IBNLive pose a rhetorical question in a most dramatic manner.

On the day when Finance Minister P Chidambaram unveiled his seventh budget – and his fifth for the UPA government – he left everybody stunned with a Rs 60,000 crores waiver of loans for small and marginal farmers.This has left open two huge questions – where is the money coming from, and if this year’s Budget is an attempt to get re-elected. (source)

No one, however, seems to be “stunned” at the thought of who bears the brunt of the taxes not paid by the corporates.

If you ask me, we should have elections every two years…

Update: See Madhukar’s excellent post on the topic

Delhi Pollution Buoys Indian Industry

Reacting to a recent report by the Centre for Science and Environment, Mr Jewel ByeBye, Chairman of the Indian conglomerate ByeBye Sons has expressed happiness that his company’s strategy for growth by investing in the car market has been vindicated.

“For the first time since 2000, Delhi’s pollution will increase, causing more smog this winter than the last few years since CNG buses and auto- rickshaws were introduced”, he claimed at a Press Meet in New Delhi, triumphantly waving a copy of the report with his right hand and demurely adjusting the mask on his face with the left. He attributed the rise in pollution levels to the increasing number of cars on the road today.

“The number of private vehicles added daily to the city has increased to 963, of which 308 are cars, while only 31 commercial vehicles are added each day. The city continues to be short of 4000 buses, which again indicates that we made the right decision to stay away from investing in the manufacture of buses and public transport. Thank God we have said bye bye to the old days of socialism when people were forced to travel together in buses and trains. To each Indian, a car, that is the mantra of the new economy, and we are fully geared towards that.”

Mr ByeBye decried attempts by those who are intent to take the country back to the days when his fortunes were a fraction of what they are today. “The continued increase in the demand for cars has a trickle down impact on my fortunes… er…the industry. For example, the increased air pollution opens up a huge market for quality, latex free masks to protect people from pollution. This also contributes to the country’s rising GDP”, he added patriotically. Experts see his statements as an indication that his company is determined to protect Delhi’s residents from pollution caused by the cars manufactured by his ByeBye Cars with latex free face masks manufactured by a group company.

Reacting to the rumours that his company plans to churn a venture called ByeBye Poverty, Mr ByeBye smiled and cryptically said “No… not yet. We, however, do not reject the idea altogether.”

He declined to set specific time line for the other venture that his company recently has been in the news for- Byebye Toilets. “Yes, we have taken serious note of the fact that the number of toilets in the country are shockingly low. 700m people in the country defecate in the open. More than half the population of the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai does not have access to toilets. There is certainly a great opportunity for privatization in this field. We  smell a gold mine in shit.”

(For retrogressive views on related issues, see this post.)

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Pakistan is on the Road to Democracy

via the Emergency imposed by a military dictator. A sad day for the country, and the sub- continent.

Addressing Pakistan’s ‘friends in the West, especially the European and the United States,’ Musharraf said Pakistan needs time to achieve the level of democracy and civil liberties that the Western nations today enjoy. “We too are moving towards your level of democracy and civil liberties, which you have achieved in centuries. We are doing it well. Please give us time,” he said.

Benazir Bhutto has rightly called this ’emergency’ a euphemism for martial law:

“This is martial law and not Emergency,” she told Dawn News. “The President has declared Emergency to avoid averse ruling from the Supreme Court. We want the martial law to end and constitution to be revived,” she said.

Dictators, tin pot or not, BTW, make good topic for satire. There is no dearth of parodies on Mush at youtube. Sample one below (in biting, earthly Punjabi). And if you understand Punjabi, you would note the religious right wing overtones in the song. Nonetheless, it is enjoyable.

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Gulzar as a Poet and Lyricist

“Tum shayar nahin hotey, toh bahut hi ordinary aadmi hotey”(Had you not been a poet, you would have been a very ordinary man”

These are the words of Aarti Devi, the ambitious, Indira Gandhi- like character in the movie Aandhi, directed towards her husband. The dialogues for this movie were written by Gulzar, and apparently this dialogue is inspired from the actual words that his wife once made in real life to him.

I personally do not have a very high opinion of Gulzar as a poet. In my opinion, Gulzar is far better as a dialogue writer than as a poet. As a poet, he is awkward, plays around with words that sound very well but have little or no poetic embellishment, sometimes making simple things sound more complex.

It still makes him a very fine lyricist, though, because music works as a distraction from the words, and then there are those flashes of brilliance. Take for example, one of the otherwise very fine songs: Humne dekhi hain in aankhon se mehakti khushboo”- eyes that smell like flowers? I find this one difficult to swallow. One can pull out many other examples, and probably this will be the subject of another post.

This post, however, brings out some discussions on his lyrics from deep down the internet archives- I first read them in the mid- 1990s, and this thread pertained to comparisons between Sahir Ludhianvi and Gulzar. The internet browsing community then was dominated by the fans of Sahir, I have a feeling that the tables have now turned and Sahir is less popular than Gulzar. A whole generation has grown up without listening to Sahir as much as it has  listened to Gulzar. The fact that Sahir died nearly three decades ago, and his best work was in the 1950s and 60s, makes sound him far less contemporary than Gulzar.

Sami Mohammad satirized Gulzar’s style in this interesting re- write of some of Sahir’s popular lyrics in the style of Gulzar. The thread was called “Gulzar becomes Sahir”. The style that Sami has chosen is more like the Gulzar of the 1970s and 1980s, I’d wager that the Gulzar post 1990s is more mature as a lyricist.


PART I: Gulzar’s extraordinary vocabulary! (Words such as bartan, chappal, taxi,
bus, train, etc)

S. Sahir
G. Gulzar

1S. Haseen champaee pairon ko jabse dekha hai
Nadi ki mast sadaen bula rahi hain tumhe

1G. Haseen champaee pairon ko jabse dekha hai
Bata ki Hawaai chappal bula rahi hai tumhe

2S. Dil ki bechaen umangon pe karam farmaao
Itna ruk ruk ke chalogi to quayaamat hogi

2G. Tum aaoge to noor aa jaega
Itna ruk ruk ke chalogi to local train chooT jaegi

4S. Aap jo phool bichae unhe hum THukraaen
Humko Dar hai ke ye tauheen-e-mohabbat hogi

4G. Tumne to aakaash bichaaya
Mere nange paaon me zamin ki gard hai
Mohabbat maili ho jaegi

5S. Pyaar par bas to nahin hai mera lekin phir bhi
Tu bataade main tujhe pyaar karun ya na karun

5G. In pyaar ki lambi sadkon par, public bus to chalti nahin phir bhi
Jo ghoomti phirti rehti hain, main woh taxi hire karun ya na karun

PART II: The complex Gulzar. Simple things expressed in an unnecessarily
complex manner. “Ghoomake dena” !

6S. Lo aaj humne toR diya rishta-e-ummeed
Lo ab gila karenge na kisi se hum

6G. Neele aakaash ke ghoonsle par jo ummeed ke boodhe baba thhe unhe humne
alvida keh diya
Duniya ke samandar ko gile-shikwon ki boondh se na chheRenge hum

7S. Tum mujhe bhool bhi jaao to ye haq hai tumko
Meri baat aur hai maine to mohabbat ki hai

7G. Sust raste aur tez quadam raahen tumhe meri yaad nahin dilaae to kya
Pathhar ki haweli se sheeshe ke gharondon tak meri rooh tumhaare ehsaas ko
mehsoos karegi

8S. GHam aur KHushi me farq na mehsoos ho jahan
Main dil ko us muquaam pe laata chala gaya

8G. GHam ka kinara jahan KHushi ke kinare se bachkar kinare se milta hai
Usi kinare par maine apne dil ke kinare ko kinare laga diya

9S. Tum agar mujhko na chaaho to koi baat nahin
Tum kisi aur ko chahogi to mushkil hogi

9G. Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa to nahin lekin
Barfili sardion me kisi bhi pahaad par
Bhool bhulayyan galion me kisi ajnabi ke saath
Tumhe uRte hue dekhunga to mushkil hogi

10S. M: Hum aapko KHwaabon me la la ke sataenge
F: Hum aapki aankhon se neenden hi uRaden to ?

10G. M: Hum aapko KHwaabon me la la ke sataenge

F: Aankhon me neend na hogi, aansu hi tairte honge
Aansu ke samandar me neend ki naaov (boat) nahin aa paaegi

PART III: The ultra-complex Gulzar. Jab kuchh samajhme na aae, then use
contradictory lines to make things look profound.

11S. Hum intezaar karenge tera quayamat tak
KHuda kare ke quayamat ho aur tu aae

11G. Koi waada nahin kiya lekin, kyun tera intezaar rehta hai
Tere aa jaane ke baad bhi, hume tera intezaar rehta hai

12S. Main pal do pal ka shaer hun
Pal do pal meri kahani hai
Pal do pal meri hasti hai
Pal do pal meri jawani hai

13G. Main pal do pal ka shaer hun
Woh pal, jo aanewaala thha, lekin jaanewaala bhi hai
Jab main isme zindagi bitane ki sonchta hun
To duniya mujhpe hansti hai

More on the Sahir vs Gulzar discussions.

Related posts

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Ramar Sethu and the Lessons for the Narmada Bachao Andolan

Now we all know why the Narmada Bachao Andolan failed. Despite numerous marches, despite the indefatigable Medha Patkar’s serial hunger strikes, despite the efforts of many grass- roots workers and despite Arundhati Roy’s eloquence.They all failed to find a connection between the site of the Sardar Sarovar Dam and Lord Rama.

They could not even find an association with Shabari, the Bhil woman who offered the gods ‘bers’ and that apparently were left half- eaten. It was left to the RSS parivar to discover the exact spot where the encounter took place, and it started the Shabari Kumbh Mela to commemorate the event. Too bad the spot did not lie exactly where the Sardar Sarovar dam stands.

But the NBA has itself to blame for not having done a one up and discovered the place sooner, since the RSS discovered the site only in October 2004. Had the NBA done its due diligence it certainly would have located that place to be exactly where the Sardar Sarovar Dam stands today. And the RSS brigade would have stepped in to lend the NBA a helping hand.

The NBA could then have outsourced the entire opposition to dam to the Hindutva brigade that certainly needs no further inspiration to get going for a cause than its association with Lord Rama. It would have deepened fissures within the Hindutva family and even have dislodged the pride of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, wrecking the family from within.

The NBA’s fault lay in that it tried to oppose the dam in the name of the poor, in the name of the adivasis who would be displaced. Worse, it tried to base its case on data and “scientific evidence”, which was easily countered by equally authentic statistics and real scientific evidence from the state governments led by both the BJP and the Congress.

Contrast this with the case for the Ramar Sethu also called the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project. All it needed to build opposition to the project was not the question of its ecological and environmental impact, not speeches in the name of the poor or its RoI but to invoke an association with Lord Rama. So much so that it woke up the sleeping Dravidian in M. Karunanidhi, who went asking for Lord Rama’s engineering qualifications.

On Saturday, addressing a public meeting at Erode in Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi, while opposing the stalling of Ram Sethu project, had said “who is this Ram? From which engineering college he graduated?” (link)

This would be amusing were it not just so silly. Not so much the question of Lord Rama’s engineering degree but that of Karunanidhi remembering that there was once upon a time a movement called the self respect movement that he belonged to and that had posed questions like these in circa 1967. The era of Rip Van Winkles is not yet over! Soon he may also remember that Periyar garlanded Lord Rama’s statues with slippers.

From the point of view of those who oppose the project from environment and displacement concerns and who seem to be getting only the space in the “Letters to the Editor” page, like this one, the good news is that everyone from Lal Krishan Advani to Ram Vilas Vedanti is now on the job.

Free of cost.

Having been out of work (and media attention) since Advani’s Jinnah fiasco and Vedanti’s appearance in a TV ‘sting operation’ few months back, they now have a serious task at hand. Advaniji is already planning yet another Rath Yatra.

Those with a Marxist inclination need not feel out of place either- Karunanidhi thanking the VHP for issuing the call for his beheading illustrates one of the central dictum of Marxist dialectics- the unity and struggle of opposites.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi reacted curtly to the threat, saying “the head is not just something that is on your shoulder, but it’s also an address.” Talking to CNN-IBN, he said: “Even if someone takes off my head my address will remain in TN.”

With that much needed reassurance for the inhabitants of Tamil Nadu, the stage is now set for a win- win deal for everyone. Environmentalism in India is now in safe hands. The fishermen whose livelihood is directly impacted by the project and who have had no one to listen to them now have hordes of Ram Bhaktas battling for them. Amen!

(For anyone interested in a non- Hindutva opposition perspective to the project, based on outmoded ‘scientific’ studies, see this paper in that quaint journal called the Economic and Political Weekly. Link via Pankaj’s blog. Also check out the Wikipedia entry)

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Karl Marx on Socialist Magic

Ian Saville and Sally O’Reilly indulge in some socialist humour… at the old man’s expense.

IAN: Hello, Karl Marx.
MARX: Hello.
IAN: How are you?
MARX: Not too bad.
IAN: Are you enjoying the show?
MARX: I’m enjoying it immensely.
IAN: Actually, Karl, I was just wondering …
MARX: Yes?
IAN: If in your day …
MARX: In my day, yes?
IAN: . ..whether you ever had anything like this.
MARX: In what way?
IAN: Well, I wondered if you ever had this sort of socialist culture—socialist songs, music, humor, or even socialist conjuring tricks?
MARX: We had socialist culture, of course.
IAN: You did?
MARX: Oh yes. We had socialist songs, music, humor. All that sort of thing. But we didn’t have socialist conjuring tricks.
IAN: You didn’t?
MARX: No, although it’s a little-known fact that originally I wanted my theories done as conjuring tricks.
IAN: Did you really?
MARX: Oh, yes.
IAN: What was it that stopped you from doing your theories as conjuring tricks, then?
MARX: Engels

read on…

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Here is the latest Woody Allen quip, when asked about his debut as the director of an opera in LA.

“I have no idea what I am doing,” Allen said in a statement Thursday.
“But incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with

Allen is scheduled to direct “Gianni Schicchi,” part of Puccini’s “Il Trittico,” a trio of one-act operas.


“Barfi Hindu Hai?”

A reader of the Diwan-e-Ghalib can hardly discern the humor that Ghalib was known for. These excerpts from the television serial Mirza Ghalib that introduced the master to a new generation bring out some of his quips.

There is also a great selection of Mirza Ghalib’s Letters: Mirza ke khutoot.

Related Post

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New Twist to Dera Controversy

In a dramatic twist to the controversy surrounding the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh dressing up like Guru Gobind Singh, a Dera spokesman, Mr Makhaul Kumar Hansmukh has clarified that the Dera head was merely participating in a fancy dress competition organized by the Dera as part of celebrations.

“This trivial issue is being seen out of context and has been blown up out of proportions”, the giggling Mr. Hansmukh explained to the press outside the Dera headquarters. “We have not violated any religion since no religion is explicitly against fancy dress competitions. We respect every religion equally, the theme of this competition was ‘Sikhism’ and hence the dressing up like Guru Gobind Singh”, he explained.

When asked how the other participants were dressed, Mr Hansmukh seemed to stutter even as those near him heard him say something to the effect that of course, there was no one else- who would compete with the head of the Dera, especially when suitable action is known to be taken against dissenters? Experts infer this to be a barely couched reference to the alleged killing of the journalist Ram Chander Chhaterpati by the Dera chief.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, Mr Ashok Doubble, however, fumed. “Does the Baba think that that the defender of the Hindu faith who fought against Aurangzeb is to be ridiculed in a fancy dress competition? Why not as the Pope or the Prophet Mohammad?”, and after a pregnant pause, he observed, “This clearly shows the pseudo- secularism of the Dera and the Italian Congress Party that it supports.”

Our Patiala correspondent spoke to the well- known Sikh ideologue, Dr. Phalsafa Singh ‘Phalsafa’ who observed that “whatever be the immediate teleological import, the hermeneutical aspect of the Guru Granth Sahib clearly stands against a fancy dress competitions. There is no justification at all”, he remarked pensively while taking off his spectacles in his left hand, and running the fingers of his right hand through his long gray beard.

Asked to explain in simpler terms for the lay reader, he happily translated, “My reference is to the semiotics, of course.” The beneficent smile following the explanation, our correspondent states, discouraged him from any further probing questions.

The Akal Takht chief could not be reached for comments. However, sources close to the SGPC leadership said that it has taken the explanation in the right spirit. “We could have been asked to participate in the fancy dress competition, though”, one of them is said to have rued, “anyone of us could have given the Baba a run for his money without involving the Guru.”

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The Sancho Panza of Hindi Cinema: Johnny Walker

One of the actors whom one has not ceased to admire since childhood is Johnny Walker.

What I admire about him is his natural impishness, and despite not so handsome looks, a felicity to bring a certain effusiveness on the screen whenever he made an appearance. In an age when the hero of the film was more often than not a tragic one like Dilip Kumar, or the disillusioned one like Guru Dutt, generally wallowing in unrequited love or unrequited idealism, if not not both, he provided the more earthly, and sometimes hedonistic, perspective on life, and an always disarming laughter.

If the heroes bore the mantle, as they did in my view, of Don Quixote, Johnny Walker was the eternal plebian, the Sancho Panza- helping out the hero when he was in trouble because of some damsel, the one who managed to hoodwink the villain (generally Pran) and bring in police or reinforcements, not caring about principles when trying to help his friend, the hero- and always playing the archetypal true friend who more often than not managed to find his own love of life in the end, in case he was already not a hen- pecked husband to Tun Tun.

It is not out of place either when his biting sense of humour could provide an insightful look into contemporary society. Balraj Sahni quotes Johnny Walker in this 1972 speech addressed to the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and re- printed recently:

“They should not announce ‘Ab Hindi main samachar suniye’, the announcers on the radio should say ‘Ab samachar main Hindi suniye'”

This one comment on the news bulletins on government of India owned radio of those days says a lot on the language politics in India.

Incidentally, Johnny Walker’s whose real name was Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi had been discovered by Balraj Sahni.

I was reminded of Johnny Walker after reading Rama’s post on Pyaasa.

A few clips of some of the well known songs, in the very mellifluous voice of Mohammad Rafi.

Update: I just found this one. Were it not for Johnny Walker, this would be a very sad song indeed. Just his presence turns the mood of the song upside down.

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Ibn e Insha

A Hamid recalls the time spent with the Jalandhar born poet Ibne Insha when both lived in Lahore in the late forties. Ibne Insha is the writer of that magnificient little book urdu ki aakhri kitaab and numerous nazms, ghazals and geets often written in the easy flowing sing song purabia style. A humourist par excellence.

Of the many battles that have been fought throughout history on the fields of Panipat, Ibne Insha wrote, “Till that time of which we write, only one battle had been fought at Panipat. No second battle had taken place. The people of Panipat waited long but when no second battle looked like taking place, leading citizens of the town went in a delegation to the court of the Emperor Akbar and submitted that a second battle of Panipat must take place so as to ensure that hose who supply fresh produce to the army, sharpen swords and bury the dead remain in business.”

Link via Huma Imtiaz

Listen to Insha’s nazm yeh bachcha kiska bachcha hai

Or better still, watch this touching video

link to Video via All things Pakistan

His well known ghazal sung by Jagjit Singh: kalchaudhvin ki raat thi

Some of his poetry at Urdu Poetry

One of my own favourites, among many others is sab maya hai

sab maya hai , sab dhaltee phirtee chaya hai
iss ishq mein hum nay jo khooya jo paya hai
jo tum nay kaha hai, faiz nay jo farmaya hai
sab maya hai

Some more poems at Ibn-e-Insha blog

Begum Nawazish Ali


The talk show host making waves in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (and  apparently Kashmir) is purportedly a stylish, middle-aged, socialite widow of an army colonel. Her monologues are often laced with sexual innuendo, she flirts openly with her guests, and sometimes embarrasses them with probing questions about their private lives. Her guests include some of Pakistan’s most well-known personalities: the urban elite, film and television stars and even some top politicians. Most are nevertheless thrilled to be invited to appear on a program millions are watching.Viewers are obviously fascinated too. Dinner party conversations here in Karachi are often peppered with anecdotes about her risqué banter and sly digs at Pakistani politics. Women call the television station to inquire about the tailoring of her sequined blouses and where to buy her glamorous saris.

The thing is, Begum Nawazish Ali is actually a man. Ali Saleem, the 28-year-old man who dons lipstick, mascara and a wig to Begum Nawazish Ali, has managed to break many taboos in conservative Pakistan through the character.(more)

More than Begum Nawazish Ali, I found Etiraz Hussain’s responses fascinating. Hussain, a parliamentarian and lawyer, is one the invitees to the show along with the Pakistani actress, Nirma in this episode. Besides the delectable Urdu couplets, his passing remarks on Pakistani politics and society delivered with well tempered flamboyance are matched by those delivered somewhat more gregariously by the ‘Begum’. This comes out more in part II below.

Youtube Link Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Link via 3Quark

Hooray ! Dalits have progressed !

(Click on image to enlarge)
Update: Though this post is labelled under ‘Humour’, let it not distract the very serious issue at hand.

Siddharta Varadrajan remarks in The Hindu:

Based on the data leaked so far, it is evident there are entry barriers Muslims — who account for 17 per cent of India’s population — are unable to cross in virtually all walks of life. From the administration and the police to the judiciary and the private sector, the invisible hands of prejudice, economic and educational inequality seem to have frozen the `quota’ for Muslims at three to five per cent. Thanks to a hysterical campaign run by the Bharatiya Janata Party and some media houses, the Sachar committee was denied data on the presence of Muslims in the armed forces. But even there it is apparent that the three per cent formula applies.

This gross under-presence of Muslims in virtually every sector is presaged by substantial inequalities in education. Muslim enrolment and retention rates at the primary and secondary levels are lower than the national average and this further magnifies existing inequalities at the college level as well as in the labour market. For virtually every socio-economic marker of well being, the Muslim is well below the national norm — not to speak of the level commensurate with her or his share of the national population — and the evidence suggests these inequalities are not decreasing over time.

This bleak statistical picture is rendered drearier still by new trends visible in many cities. Muslims, for example, find it extremely difficult to rent and buy property outside of “Muslim areas” in some metros.

Thanks to Krish for the link to Siddharta Varadrajan’s article.

Image Source: The Tribune