Monday, February 23, 2009

Jai Ho!

"Ella pughalum iraivanuke (All glory and fame is to God)" was how music maestro A R Rahman reacted to his double-Oscar feat. Besides God, the 'Mozart of Madras' also dedicated his Oscars to his "loving" mother Kareema Begum, who was seated among the audience at the Kodak Theatre.

Rahman has always dedicated his awards to them. "I always had a choice between love and hate in my life. And I chose love and I am here," a beaming Rahman said at the Awards Ceremony.

Having shouldered the responsibilities of his family at the tender age of 9, Rahman never had an opportunity to get proper education in his life. Begum had in an interview to a Tamil weekly had said she will feel bad forever for not giving her son an opportunity to enjoy his childhood days.

Before coming, I was excited and terrified. The last time I felt like that was during my marriage. There's a dialogue from a Hindi film called "Mere paas ma hai," which means "I have nothing but I have a mother," so mother's here, her blessings are there with me. I am grateful for her to have come all the way. And I want to thank the Academy for being so kind, all the jury members. I want to thank Sam Schwartz, I/D PR, all the crew of Slumdog, Mr Gulzar , Raqueeb Alam, Blaaze, my musicians in Chennai and Mumbai. And I want to tell something in Tamil, which says, which I normally say after every award which is... "God is great." Thank you.

After four Golden Globes, seven BAFTAs and seven Oscars, India still held her collective breath. There was that one final award, that one final nod of appreciation that the country so desperately wanted to see. And when it came, it was glorious! The film bagged its eight and last award for Best Film, where most of the cast and crew joined the producers on stage.

The gorgeous Freida Pinto, the energetic Anil Kapoor, the seasoned Irrfan, Mumbai's child actors, director Danny Boyle and co-director Loveleen Tandan went on-stage to celebrate!

Seeing the whole cast and crew up on the dais, sending off the television audience in true Bollywood fashion, was a moment that no true Indian will forget any time soon.

From a remote village in Kerala that had no electricity to the bright lights of Hollywood, what a journey it has been for 36-year-old Resul Pookutty, India's most feted sound technician.

Pookutty shared the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke for their work in Slumdog Millionaire.

Do you speak English?

At a bus stop 2 Italian men get on. They sit down and engage in an animated conversation.
The lady sitting next to them ignores them at first, but her attention is galvanized when she hears one of them say the following:
"Emma comes first. Den I come. Den two asses come together.. I come once-a-more. Two asses, they come together again. I come again and pee twice. Then I come one last time."
"You foul-mouthed sex obsessed swine," retorted the lady indignantly, "In this country ....... we don't speak aloud in public places about our sex lives."
"Hey, cool down lady," said the man. "Who talkin' about sex? I'm a justa tellin' my frienda how to spella 'Mississippi'.."


We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;

But the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;

Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,

And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,

Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,

And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,

But though we say mother we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,

But imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

Some reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English (instead of having to learn it as an adult!)

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Screwy pronunciations can mess up your mind! For example...

If you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going through the bough on a tree!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. For example:

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England.

But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that:

quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends, but not one amend?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught,

Why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,

While a wise man and a wiseguy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language... in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

If Dad is Pop, how come Mom isn't Mop?


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Living it up with soup, sex & stories

22 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghv

Siddharth Shanghvi's new novel, 'The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay', was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008

This is taken from:,prtpage-1.cms

When asked to write about this wonderfully dubious idea, the New Austerity, I was out shopping for vegetables in the bazaar. I promptly turned to the vendor and asked her to bring down the price on the tomatoes. After all, if the markets were crashing the least I could do was go home and make soup from cut-rate tomatoes. Perhaps that also sums up my relationship with the changing face of India's economy: buy local bhaji, bargain, get by on lots of soup. My response is neither profound nor strident, but perhaps it's practical. The depression that has struck the US like fever has now registered in India only as a cold: not because our economy is more resilient but because, quite frankly, no one ever really factored in The Poors (a tag made famous by the website Gawker, which blogs about the economically challenged) when we drafted India's sexed-up GDP (which, now, suffers an embarrassing case of erectile dysfunction). Not only are we as bad as we've always been, we no longer get the press release from the India Shining publicity campaign. So while India's worryingly optimistic 7.1% growth forecast could buoy up folks like us, a report released by the International Labour Organization last month said the world's unemployment rate would pause at 7.1% (and the worst hit could be the 'working poor', those subsisting on less than $2 a day).

However, the slump has turned around the marketplace: the public sector, gathering dust, has suddenly acquired its old patina again. Working for the Indian government is a little like my MTNL broadband internet: the rival service providers might have fancier brochures but MTNL just has bigger bandwidth. It might even flag a return to the Seventies, when government jobs were viewed through rose-tinted glasses not just for consistently honouring inefficiency but also because of an insultingly measly but reliable pension plan.

But what distinguishes the Seventies' generation from my own is youth: two out of three Indians are under 35. And youth is defined by recklessness. We're prepared to explore options in spite of the looming threat of joblessness. When my friend Rishi, an investment banker, was laid off, he decided to go back to his first love: writing. We met for a drink last week when he told me he was working on a script. Jokingly I asked him if he intended to write about a banker with a moral conscience, the sort of pinstripe saint who hands back his obscene bonus. Rishi laughed and told me that he wasn't into the magic realism crapola that gave my own fiction a bad name. Then, he let me pay for drinks.

But after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last year, I noticed a new fire in our youth, visibly rattled by the political incompetence in dealing with the calamity and unwilling to put up with government infrastructure that allowed terrorists to dock out at Colaba. I remember standing on Marine Drive two days after the November attacks, and underneath the pointless dignity of a candlelight vigil, I noticed the stirring of a political consciousness in a generation that had plugged into their iPods and plugged out of India. But that deadly message from the terrorists really woke them up. No wonder then than that Jaago Re, a campaign to drive up voting in the urban youth, marked a 30% jump right after the attacks. And now a new survey claims that Young India wants a leader who delivers on development and can handle homeland security (alarmingly, Narendra Modi tops this survey). Perhaps this generation doesn't care if the guy at the steering wheel might burn down a few thousand people as long as he gets the car company to set up shop down the road. The nascent political conscience I noticed last year is tempered by the downturn, which means: Do the rally that gets you the job.

But, there are flashes of some good news.

Since losing her job, my college buddy 'D' told me she's been spending her days sending out resumes and the nights getting laid. Apparently, the best thing to do with your free time is to give freely. When plays are out of question and going to the cinema wallops the wallet, getting laid could take the edge off being laid off. In light of the downturn, I predict picnics will make a comeback (in a hamper pack six Jain egg salad sandwiches, a flask of chai, sulli wafers, a handful of Cadbury ├ęclairs, two napkins and a few apples. Take Bus No. 231 to Juhu Beach. Enjoy).

And perhaps now that The Crunch has shown us what we have always known — conspicuous consumption is the triumph of symbol over experience — books, that curmudgeonly idea, that charming anachronism, will find readers. Within pages we will form imaginative sympathies with people we have never met, weep for heroines, rage against villains, we will read long into the night in the hope that the characters will be safe. When we turn to the last page we will smile with relief in the belief that the people we had been reading about, after all, were only us, and that we too will be safe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Myraid Mumbai Moments

Does take your breath away, doesn't it?

The Great Maratha.

Ganapti Bappa Moriya!

Hussain on wall? ... Remnants of the Kala Ghoda festival 2008

Purple Rain

Piracy is bad...? Even when it spreads the "good word"?
Merry Pachyderm Promenade

Rainbow on the road

Main Aisa Kyon Hoon - Part 1
...Kyon ki,
We are like that only, bhaiyya!

The Candlemaker at Bandstand

A view of God's Own Country in amchi Mumbai
Maximum City

The Sea Gull that followed our boat back from Elephanta Caves

Three is company

Mumbai Staple

And finally... Main aisa kyon hoon - part 2 ...
Incredible Indi-yeah!

Please click on this link to see some amazing photographs clicked by my friend Elroy Serrao:

Clicking away on my N72

Golden hues of the sinking sun...

The unknown footprint

Juhu Beach - Time for the sun to take a dip...

Chapped  Earth

Vanilla Sky

Smoky Morning en route to the Elephanta Caves