Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Allama Iqbal writing about Sri Krishna

Allama Iqbal in his preface to his monumental work Asrar-i-Khudi, (Secrets of the Self), has expressed eloquently his admiration for Sri Krishna:

“The heart and mind of the Hindu community has been nourished by the penetrating discussion that its learned thinkers have concluded that the struggle of life which makes a man go through trials and tribulations, is directly linked with action; or, in other words, his existing human self is the result of his past deeds. And so long as this law of action operates, the result will be the same. When Goethe, the well-known German poet of the 19th century , makes his hero Faust read in the Bible the word ‘action’ instead of’ speech’, Goethe’s visionary eye detects the same point, which the Hindu pundits and Rishis had observed hundreds of years ago. In this strange way they had resolved the conflict between authority and freedom or, in other words, between coercion and responsibility. Undoubtedly, their creative ability is worth admiration, in particular the very courageous manner in which they accepted the various philosophical conclusions, which this confrontation led to. They said that when the self is determined by action then there is only one way of getting out of it and that is by renunciation of action. This was dangerous from both individual and communal points of view and required some ingenious mind to clarify the contradiction. In the intellectual history of mankind, the name of Sri Krishna will always be taken with great regard and reverence because it was the magnificent man who attacked the philosophical renditions of his country and his people and placed before them the truth that renunciation does not mean total inaction. Action is the demand of nature, which reinforces existence; renunciation means non-attachment or indifference to the results of the action.”

Also, read about:
Allama Iqbal and his Kashmiri Origin

Plastic Kashmir and general apathy of Indians

Plastic polluting the beauty of KashmirA man who cannot endure dirt, dust, stench, noise, ugliness, disorder, heat and cold has no right to live in India...
The Continent of Circe by Nirad C. Chaudhuri

A friend of mine took this photograph while on a visit to Kashmir. Kashmir is supposed to be the heaven on earth and the fact is that it is beautiful. But, are the doors and roads of heaven made of plastic. Can’t we humans leave anything beautiful? Do we have to perform plastic surgery on everything? We tend to close our eyes to all things ugly. It is in front of us and yet we don’t see it. We move around, enjoy the beauty, praise the splendor of nature and yet we litter away.
Our roads and railway tracks are like arteries spreading this disease of ugliness. Everywhere we go, we take our ugliness with us and yet we refuse to see it. May be one day we would wake up and realize that we all are living in a big garbage dump of our own making.

Many years ago an American professor, faced with asphyxiation after paying a visit to Sabzi Mandi of Delh on his first visit to India, said to Nirad C Chaudhuri:
“Mr. Chaudhuri, in the west we conceive of cities as the material bases for organized human communities and as the centers from which cultural influences spread over the whole country. But I saw something today which I cannot understand. It was all disorganization and confusion, and squalor.”
Nirad C Chaudhuri, who at that time was a resident of Mori Darwaza (which he translated to Gate of the Sewers), replied:
“ I am not surprised Dr. X. You are, because you do not know what Indian cities are, especially in northern India. They do not contain organized societies. They are formed only by the falling detritus of the stratified rocks in the villages, which are not only quarried and dynamited but are also breaking up of themselves through an economic and social weathering to which the geological furnishes no parallel.”
Read about a foreigner who on a visit to Kashmir valley got appalled enough to do something about the floating plastic filth of the Dal Lake. He hired a Shikara and went around picking the trash. The locals soon joined in, albeit took cash payment for their services, which the foreigner paid from his own pocket. Can’t blame them for taking the money, it's the general apathy of the Indian people. At least in this case Kashmiris becomes Indians, no argument.


Eklavya Goes to Oscar

The film chosen this year as India’s entry to Oscar is Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Eklavya. The movie didn’t make any mark at the box office. It was thumbed down by people here and barely managing to pass the critic’s verdict that too thanks to Chopra’s technical capabilities. At least it didn’t lose its thumb at the game where Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag managed to lose its whole body and people who saw it lost their mind and blamed Ramu of trying to kill the soul of Sholay (which in fact was breathed to life by Spaghetti western movies about wild wild west of America but in fact made by Italians).
Eklavya didn’t have as much of a plot or story as my last sentence, instead what it had was: Chopra’s extensive attempt to create patches of well thought out shots and planned scenes, camels and train in whirling sand storms, extensive screen time to the Royal Guard’s mastery at throwing daggers blind folded at flying white pigeons and an even more extensive screen time to plain blank screen.
The people who decide these entries excel at the same art of throwing daggers in the dark at white pigeons, hoping one day it would hit the target and an award would drop from the sky, right into their wanting hands. It’s a brilliant strategy. One day, it has to work. I can see the foreign selectors, who would be previewing the entries of various countries, sleep through the song ‘Chanda re Chanda re’ while watching Eklavya, meanwhile the fifty men team that would accompany the film would do target practicing on them, pricking them with daggers just to keep them awake.
Yeah! I know it is claimed to be ‘the lost Lear’ but may be there is a reason why David Lear lost it! Someone at some paper calls it a lost Lear and the Director grows an extra thumb and taunts every one with it. The issue of selection of Eklavya has already become a big sore thumb. Quite frankly, it happens every time in India around these selection/election times. Eklavya may not be the best of what India had to offer this year; we also know that Oscar is not all about the best (remember how many years it took Martin Scorsese to win as a director…although in Foreign films category good cinema has usually been appreciated, it’s a curious phenomena). Eklavya is what passed through the “democratic” process at the FII. In case this blindly thrown dagger does hit the pigeons (it’s a statistical possibility, according to the film’s selectors, chances are propotional to the number of people going to America to represent the movie) then it would again be “Chak diya India, India the Global Phenomena” celebration time. In case it doesn’t win, sharpen your daggers for the next year and for a change take those blindfolds and pirate eye-patches off.

Also read:
Indian Films and Foreign Film Festivals: A List

India's Oscar Mania Starts

Mother India made by Mehboob Khan lost to Federico Fellini’s Night of Cabiria by (it is said) only one vote for the Best Foreign Language film award at the Oscars (1958). Now, we may go on and on discussing about the un/importance of Oscars Awards but the facts is that Oscar does stand for something. If not for brilliance in Cinematic effort, at least it is given for diplomatic prowess at selling the film. Frankly, I don’t think either Mehboob Khan or Fellini had sent their cronies to warm up to various Media agents and Movers and Shakers of Hollywood…the studios.The fact that Mother India went to Oscars does mean something. It’s like a holy orb around the movie. It’s after this orb that Indian film makers pretend to be running after but actually they are after the silverware to be found in the house of Hollywood studios. The holy orb for them translates into unholy better economic prospect for the movie…newer bigger movie deals.
I think sending a movie like Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday makes perfect sense or for a change any well made regional language film(by that I don’t mean ill fitted Jeans). But, they would probably won’t send any film instead they would send Aishwarya, she has been to the other mela why miss this one.
The people on the selection panel of FFI( for people like me who don't know-Film Federation of India) are smart; Trust them and they would get us the Oscar this year thanks to an insider deal between the Indian and the Us government. Give India an Oscar is a sub-clause in the 123 agreements. Why do you think the Left is peeved? The clause is killing the spirit of Ray, the true voice of Indian Cinema (forget his later year films with western sensibilities). The discussion sessions between the three governments i.e India, U.S and the Left, include the topic: Are Oscars  un/important?
Also read:
Indian Films and Foreign Film Festivals: A List
A comprehensive list of Indian Films that made their mark at Foreign Film Festivals.

Indian Films and Foreign Film Festivals: A List

A list of Indian Films that made their mark at Foreign Film Festivals.

Amar Jyoti by V. Shantaram becomes the first Indian film to be screened at the Venice Film Festival. Sant Tukaram by Vishnupant Govind Damle wins the Special Recommendation Award at the Venice Film Festival of 1937.

Neecha Nagar by great Chetan Anand(1915-1997) wins the prestigious Cannes Film Festival ‘Grand Prix’. The inspiration for ‘Neecha Nagar’ was the Russian literary giant Maxim Gorky’s ‘Lower Depths’. While being influenced by Russian literature in its content, the maker’s film craft and technique bore the stamp of socially-conscious Hollywood moviemakers such as Frank Capra, King Vidor and John Huston. A highlight of the film was Pt. Ravi Shankar's debut as a film composer.

Ram Rajya by Vijay Bhatt made in 1943, is premiered in U.S.A. in 1947 at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Cecil B Demelle, makers of historicals and mythologicals movies like Ten Commandments, Sampson and Delilah, writes a personal note to Bhatt, after the screening that says:
"Greetings from one director who is still trying to make good pictures to another director
who will make great ones long after I am gone." The film also has the distinction of probably being the only film seen by Mahatma Gandhi during his lifetime. Vijay Bhatt went on to make the classic movie Baiju Bawra (1952), Meena Kumari's first big break and blockbuster.

Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zameen wins a Special Mention at Cannes.

Naaz by S.K. Ojha becomes the first Hindi film to have location work done abroad, in London and Cairo. Boot Polish made under R. K. Films production by Prakash Arora ,wins Special Mention at Cannes Film Festival (1955) and its director is nominated for Golden Palm.

Pather Panchali by Satyajit Ray wins numerous international awards including Best Human Document at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at Kinema Junpo Award (Japan), Best Foreign Film at National Board of Review Award (USA). Best Picture and Best Director at San Francisco International Film Festival. Besides these it gets nominated and wins at various film festivals.

Aparajito (1956) by Satyajit Ray wins Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival (1957)
It also wins Golden Gate Award for Best Director at San Francisco International Film Festival (1958). Satyajit Ray remains the best-known face of the Indian Cinema and his Award trolley would require a separate mention.

Pardesi by K.A. Abbas becomes the first Indo-Soviet co-production . Do Aankhen Barah Haath made by great V. Shantaram wins Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (1958) and Samuel Goldwyn Award at the Golden Globes, USA (1959). Mother India made by Mehboob Khan lost to Federico Fellini’s Night of Cabiria by one vote for the Best Foreign Language film award at the Oscars(1958).

Sujata made by great Bimal Roy is nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1960).

Teesri Kasam by Basu Bhattacharya is nomination for Grand Prix at the Moscow Film Festival (1967).

Garam Hawa by M. S. Sathyu is nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1974).

Ankur by Shyam Benegal is nominated for Golden Beear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival (1974).

Nishant by Shyam Benegal is nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1976).

Mrigaya by Mrinal Sen is nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival (1977).

An Encounter with Faces by Vidhu Vidhu Chopra is nominated for an Academy Award (1979) in Documentary Short Subject category.

Bhanu Athaiya wins an Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work in the film Gandhi (1982). The award is shared with John Mollo. In addition, Ravi Shankar is nominated for Best Original Score category.

Salaam Bombay directed by Mira Nair wins the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival. It  is also nominated at the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film (1988) but loses to Danish film Pelle the Conqueror.

Ek Din Achanak by Mrinal Sen based on the story Ek Din Achanak by Rampada Chowdhury, gets a special mention at the Venice International Film Festival (1989), where Mrinal Sen wins the OCIC Award for the film.

The Terrorist by Santosh Sivan wins Poznan Goat at Ale Kino! - International Young Audience Film Festival and Panorama Jury Prize - Honorable Mention at Sarajevo Film Festival

At Oscars Lagaan lost out to the Bosnian film No Man’s Land for the award of the best foreign film of the year. Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding wins Golden Lion and Laterna Magica Prize at Venice Film Festival. It also wins the British Independent Film Award for the Best Foreign Film.

Ashvin Kumar’s short film Little Terroist is nominated for the Academy Award(2005) for Live Action Short Film.

Three songs by A. R. Rehman are among the fifty-six songs short-listed for the Original Song category at the Oscars. Songs are: “Chan Chan” (Water), “Khalbali” (Rang De Basanti), and “Lukka Chuppi” (Rang De Basanti). The Oscar for Best Original Song went to "I Need To Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth".

Meena Kumari: Story of a Poetess and an Actress

cover of biography of Meena kumari by Vinod Mehta The book Meena Kumari was written by Vinod Mehta in the year 1972. Vinod Mehta was 31. He went on to be the editor of Debonair Magazine, India first real girlie magazine that also used to have a section about current affairs. Many years later Vinod Mehta became the founding editor-in-chief of the The Outlook Magazine.

Vinod Mehta’s previous book, Bombay: A Private View, was a success. But the book Meena Kumari was ill received. However, I don’t think it was ill-conceived. For some one like me, born ten years after the book was written, it means a lot. When I was a little boy, I knew Meena Kumari thanks to the ditty, which had the line, quite memorable actually:

Meena Kumari ka laal dupatta,
us-se nikala ullu ka paththa...
Occasionally, I might have watched some old movie of hers on Doordarshan. Never must have I given much thought to her. But, then a few years later, I saw the book Meena Kumari on the book shelf of an elder cousins of mine whose books I often ‘borrow’. The cover of the book had a photograph of Meena Kumari with her head draped in a laal duppata.

The book talks about an era that I would not have known otherwise and the great thing is that it wasn’t written with a pre-planned motive of providing my generation with an insight into the era of Meena Kumari-the actress. It was supposed to be read in the year 1972 itself. And it talked about Meena Kumari-the person. And that’s where the beauty of the book lies.

The chapter five titled Pakeezah starts with a sound byte from a taxiwalla :

"First Meena Kumari made this film with her money. Then with her death."

The chapter nine of the book tilted THE WOMAN opens with these lines attributed to Meena Kumari herself:

Badi Bechari Hai

Meena Kumari

Jisko Lagi Hai

Dil Ki Bimari

Here is what Vinod Mehta wrote about her poetry :

Her poetry is sad, joyless, pessimistic, morbid-but then what do you expect from a women of the temperament of Meena Kumari? Her verses were entirely in character with her life, or at least her comprehension of her life. My heroine (throughout the book, the author calls her ‘my heroine’) was not an outstanding poet, nor a detached poet, nor a penetrating poet, nor a classical poet. She was a learning poet who translated her life into verse.

All right, she was a third-rate poet. But does Raakhee write poetry? Does Hema Malini write poetry? Does Sharmila Tagore write poetry? Did Vyjayantimala write poetry? Meena Kumari was not only the greatest actress in the last 20 years she was also the most literate.

The dominant strain in Meena Kumari’s poetry is love, or rather the impossibility of finding love. And it would be true to say that my heroine looked and searched, wept and cried in its pursuit. "In fact,” she said,” love is my biggest weakness-and greatest strength too. I am in love with love. I am craving for love. I have been craving for it since my childhood.” We all know she was unsuccessful.

The book finally got re-published in August 2013.

Buy Vinod Mehta's Meena Kumari from

'Kashmir: A tragedy of errors' by Tavleen Singh

'Kashmir: A tragedy of errors' by Tavleen Singh.The author of the book, Tavleen Singh blames the Congress and NC for failing to recognize the discontent in the local Kashmiri Muslim population of the valley. Although the writer has given a seemingly accurate description of what went wrong with Kashmir, the thing that bothered me is the color in which it seems to paint the pandits.
It talks about Muslims being discriminated at jobs and pundits having all the top jobs. This is a very common misconception, a reasoning that seems natural but in fact flawed nevertheless.

The book also talks about how Indian newspapers hired pandit scribes who were blindly loyal to the Indian establishment and how they were planting false news in the media. Sadly, the writer has not given their names. About how Jagmohan although an honest administrator, was not the best choice as the governor and he was to be blamed for most of the turmoil that followed.
Now when you read the book you would realize that the writer is not biased or anything in fact at times the book is brutal in its analysis of the Kashmiri Muslim psyche. It talks of things, which we as a Kashmiri always knew and it did give the accurate description of conditions in and around the Srinagar city, I can tell you that from personal recollections. I do not know how bad the conditions were in the other towns.
In one of the chapters, the writer gives an account of visiting a small village where the Indian army had allegedly committed a massacre. A youth among the crowd kept on insisting that there were Kashmiri pandits among the men who had committed the act. The writer brushes it aside it as the usual rumor and deliberate propaganda that blinds the actual tragedy of Kashmir.

Buy Kashmir: A tragedy of errors' by Tavleen Singh

Truly Madly Deeply: Pakistan and Rahmat Ali

It was in the upper deck of a London bus that the name ‘Pakistan’ or ‘Pakastan’ first flashed before the eyes of Choudhry Rahmat Ali. He finally settled for ‘Pakistan’, which meant ‘land of the pure’ and doubled as an acronym of Punjab, Afghan(meaning the people of the North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan. These were the areas of north-west India where Muslims were in a majority; Bengal,in the east,did not come into the equation at this point. In 1933 Rahmat Ali published a pamphlet under the title ‘Now or Never’. Although its proposals grew out of Iqbal’s speech,it was the first conception of total national separation. The new nation, he wrote, symbolized ‘the proclamation of our freedom from British-Bania domination; the release of our nation from the bonds of Minorityism’
Little is known about Rahmat Ali, who vigorously pursued his ‘Pakistanian’ campaign from a bessit in Cambridge, bombarding politicians and dignitaries with pamphlets. Some reports say he was a Bengali, others that he came from the North-West frontier. In fact he was a Punjabi, from a poor background, born in 1897 and educated at Islamia College, Lahore. He became tutor to the Nawab of Bahawalpur( who at the age of five had saluted King George V at his Delhi durbar), and securd a place at Cambridge in 1931 owing to the recommendations of his teachers. The uncertainity about his life even extends to the question of his facial hair: when he was in his twenties living in Lahore,’some say he was clean shaven, and some report that he had big moustaches which curled at the extremities, some adding that he sported a short, elegant beard’.
Rahmat Ali was intense and deeply religious, a confirmed bachelor, and, according to his biographer, ‘a Cambridge man par excellence’, with gravitas and a strong sense of ‘mission’. Like Jinnah he smoked Craven A cigarette and was immensely fastidious, even making his landlady in Cambridge leave his dishes to drip dry, as he thought tea towels were unclean. This devotion to hygiene was not enough to secure a meeting with Jinnah: in 1934 he made efforts to see him for discussions, but the great man was too busy. In later years, as their aims diverged, Rahmat Ali launched aggressive attacks on Jinnah. His own ideas became progressively more eccentric, and by the time of his death from a chill in 1951, he was proposing a total of ten Muslim ‘stans’ across ‘Pakasia’, ranging from ‘Maplistan’ in southern India, through ‘Siddiqistan’ and ‘Haideristan’, to a union of Bengal and Assam with the wondrous name of ‘Bang-i-Islam’. They would form part of a series of homelands for the world’s Muslim community, or millat.
It is clear from contemporary documents that Rahmat Ali’s scheme for a Muslim homeland gave form and a name to an existing sentiment. His ‘Pakistan National Movement’ is even mentioned in a German book on Islam, published in 1933 in Berlin. In 1940 he was to return to Karachi, but his apparent extremism led to hounding by the authorities. Rejected, as prophets are meant to be in their own lands, he was later refused a Pakistan passport, and he began to suspect he was being poisoned. Desperate, rejected, and slightly deranged, he disappeared into exile in October 1948 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Cambridge, leaving substantial debts.
-Liberty or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division,
Patrick French

Test your Intellect. Really?

Google Custom Search Engine of this blog is working fine ( the one not at the top in the header but the one below this section). I typed in the word Intellectual in it. One of the result I got was an interesting debate between Noam Chomsky and George Steiner about:

What Shall the Responsible Intellectual Do?

This dates back to The New York Review of Books, March 23, 1967

In October 2005, people voted Chomsky as the world’s top public intellectual (Umberto Eco came second in the voting). Guardian covered the story.

Then in November, the professor of Linguistics was involved in a minor controversy with the Guardian. Funny thing is that the controversy was triggered in part, by a problem of linguistic nature.
The problem arose over an interview he gave to Emma Brockes and published in G2, the second section of the Guardian, on October 31.

Here is what happened:

Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?

A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly

Then we get a long explanation of these two lines.

Yep, it’s a funny world.

Anyway, found this little quiz on the Guardian. It tells you whether you are an intellectual or not.Ya, it is that simple.

The verdict about me is out; I am an Intellectual.

The verdict reads like this:
Well done. You are an intellectual who is clearly at ease with big questions and strong coffee. Your know your Sartre from your Schopenhauer. But remember: the line between an intellectual and a pretentious bore is at best thin.

Let, me not blurry the already thin line and just shut up.

"Black Poem" by Jack Kerouac

Self be your lantern,
Self be your guide -
Thus spake Tathagata
Warning of radios
That would come
Some day
And make people
Listen to automatic
Words of others

and the general flash of noises,
forgetting self, not-self. -
Forgetting the secret. . . .

Up on high in the mountains so high
the high magic priest are
swabbing in the deck
of broken rib torsos
cracked in the rack
tryin to figure yr way
outa the calamity of dust and
eternity, buz, you better
get on back to your kind
b o a t

~Jack Kerouac:
Heaven and Other Poems

‘Prologue’ and ‘Inscription on a Book’ by Anna Akhmatova

‘Prologue’ by Anna Akhmatova

That was when the ones who smiled
Were the dead, glad to be at rest.
And like a useless appendage, Leningrad
Swung from its prisons.
And when, senseless from torment,
Regiments of convicts marched,
And the short songs of farewell
Were sung by locomotive whistles.
The stars of death stood above us
And innocent Ruissia writhed
Under bloody boots
And under the tires of the Black Marias.

-From the collection Requiem (published in 1963 in Munich)


‘Inscription on a Book’ by Anna Akhmatova

From beneath such ruins I speak,
From beneath such an avalanche I cry,
As if under the vault of a fetid celler
I were burning in quicklime.
I will pretend to ne soundless this winter
And I will slam the eternal doors forever,
And even so, they will recognize my voice,
And even so they will believe in it once more.

-Written by Anna Akhmatova in Leningrad in 1959.

Also read,
'In Memoriam, July 19, 1914' by Anna Akhmatova

‘And when we had cursed each other’ by Anna Akhmatova

‘And when we had cursed each other’ by Anna Akhmatova

And when we had cursed each other,
Passionate, white hot,
We still didn’t understand
How small the earth can be for two people,
And that memory can torment savagely.
The anguish of the strong — a wasting disease!
And in the endless night the heart learns
To ask: Oh, where is my departed lover?
And when, through waves of incense,
The choir thunders, exulting and threatening,
Those same eyes, inescapable,
Stare sternly and stubbornly into the soul.

-From her first collection Evening (1912)

Also, read her poem 'In Memoriam, July 19, 1914' from her third collection, White Flock(1917)

Information Overload: Meta Data and Data to Email and Spam.

According to David Shenk’s book Data Smog (1998), The amount of words a typical business manager reads in a week: 1000,000.

Number of words in the Bible: approximately 770,000.

Number of words in the United States IRS code: approximately 2.8 million or more.

Number of pages in United States IRS code: 17,000 pages. War and Peace: 1,444 pages and the Bible: 1,291 pages.

Paper consumption in the US per person at the close of the last century: 2000 pounds.

Amount spent on information technology in the year 2000: more than 1 trillion.
In 1999, a Corpus fund of Rs.700 crores is step up to address the Year 2000(Y2K) Problem in India.

The world’s total yearly production of print, film, optical, and magnetic content in 2000: 1.5 billion gigabytes.

The estimated capacity of the human brain: 1 billion megabytes.

The amount of Information in the New York Times on Sunday: 1 MB.

Amount of Information a 19th century human was exposed to in a lifetime: 2MB.

Information per person for each man, woman, and child on earth, in the same year: 250 megabytes.

Production of information per person at the end of last century: 250 MB.

Number of emails sent everyday in the year 2000: 10 billion.

International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that in 2005 it would be about 35 billion.

In 2003, IDC reports that daily 31 billion emails were being sent and predict that it would double in 2006. One report states that 6 trillion emails were sent and received in the year 2006.

In 1978, an e-mail Spam sent to 600 addresses becomes the first widely circulated spam.
In 1994, First large-scale Spam sent to 6000 newsgroups, reaching millions of people.

Volume of Spam in June 2006 reaches 55 billion; previous year it was 30 billion. MAAWG estimated that 80-85% of incoming mail is "abusive email", as of the last quarter of 2005. The sample size for the MAAWG's study was over 100 million mailboxes.

In 2007, one in every 28 emails in India contained virus.

Number of e-mails an average white-collar worker received per day in year 2000: 30. And spent two hours reading, forwarding and replying to them, according to a research report published by David Ferris of Ferris Research in San Francisco. He predicted that by the year 2002, corporate staff would use over four hours each day just on e-mails.

Estimated Number of e-mails an office worker received in the year 2005: 250 per day.

Estimated Percentage of Knowledge-Workers in the year 2010: 85%.

Average revenue per search for Google in the year 2005: 12 cents. In the year 2004, it was around a dime.

In 2006, 1 million is the number of children aged under 10 in Britain i.e. one in three, who own a phone. And 8 is the average age at which a child gets a mobile phone in Britain.

September 2007 Indian state of Karnataka, of which the fabled IT city Bangalore (Bengalūru) is the capital, contemplates banning mobile phones based on a health department report which states that mobile usage by children below 16 could lead to memory and hearing loss.

(Source: Various including United Nations’ Sustainable Development Programme Report, August 5, 2000)

A brief history of Role Playing Games

Role playing games, warcraftThe first strategy game that attempted to realistically model conflict was the Kriegspiel, developed by a Prussian staff officer, von Reisswitz, in 1824. Kriegspiel, from the German for wargame, was a system used for training officers in the Prussian army. The first set of rules was Instructions for the Representation of Tactical Maneuvers under the Guise of a Wargame, produced in 1824 by von Reisswitz, a lieutenant in the Prussian army, based on earlier work by his father. Today it is considered the grandfather of modern wargames.

In 1913, Little Wars, a slim set of miniature rules written by H G Wells published. Little Wars is recognized today as the first recreational wargame and gamers and hobbyists regard Wells as "the Father of Miniature War gaming."

In the 1930s, Fletcher Pratt, a Civil War historian and fantasy author, developed a set of rules for naval engagements, known by the title Fletcher Pratt’s Naval Wargame.

In 1938, children’s book The Hobbits written by J. R. R Tolkien published in Great Britain. In 1954, the Lord of the Rings saw only modest critical interest, at least initially. But the elements to be found init, including the conflict between good and evil in a fantastic world populated by elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, men and other were to become an integral part of fantasy role-playing gaming that we see today.

In 1953, Civilian wargaming began in the US when Charles S. Roberts, developed a game called Tactics. It posited two hypothetical countries, with typical post-World War II armies, going to war with each other. This was the first of the modern commercial wargames (as we know them).

It was in near the end of 1973, that Dungeons & Dragons was published by Tactical Studies Rules (TSR)

Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker, a professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies, at the University of Minnesota, writing under the pen name M. A. R. Barker, was the originator of an entire world-Tekumel. It became the setting for a role-playing game called Empire of the Petal Throne, published in 1975 by TSR, Inc. Born Philip Barker, he converted to Islam in 1951 on his first trip to India. Tékumel, is a fantasy world based on from ancient India, the Middle East, the Aztecs and Maya, and other non-European sources. Besides being published by TSR, Tékumel has spawned three other professionally-published roleplaying games over the course of the years:

  • Swords & Glory, published in 1983 by Gamescience.
  • Gardasiyal: Adventures in Tékumel, published in 1994 by Theater of the Mind.
  • Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne, published in 2005 by Guardians of Order.
While drawing heavy influence from fantast literature and world histories and myths, games like WarCraft from Blizzard, a multiplayer online network game, have become global phenomena.

Lines from the final scene in Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night"

I promise! Just let go of my ears!

Promise first!

I promise!

Swear by everything you hold sacred!

I swear by my manhood!

Then we can consider ourselves engaged.

May Frid rest in peace. He’s on his way to hell now!

Up you get, fatty. Time to groom the horses.

There is no better life then this!

And the summer night Smiled for the third time!

Oh, yes, my little sugar plum. For the sad and dejected, for the sleepless and lost souls, for the frightened and the lonely.

But the clowns will have a cup of coffee in the kitchen!


Click here to watch the final scene of Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night"

Final scene in Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night"

Collage from India of the 80s

Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi released and Gandhi became an International star. Later the movie would be shown on Doordarshan every Independence Day from many many years to come. Doordarshan went national in the early 80s. Salma Sultan was reading News. Sitting in front of T.V sets, people used to reply back to her Namaskars. Ustad Bismillah Khan was on the shehnai every Independence day. Along with national broadcast came: the Antennas on the T.V set and on the rooftops. Color T.V came to India in 1982 with the Asian Games held in Delhi. Then we had serials like Hum Log of 1984 and some years later we got the megadrama: Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan ran from 1987 to 1988. Soon came Mahabharat that ran from 1988 to 89 - the story of 23 day war was told the entire year and people developed an interest in history. A serial named Kille ka Rahasya made me a claustrophobic that I am. However, that is another story. Surf and Lalitaji were names that glued themselves to consumer's brain. Yet consumer's brain had space for more names, names like Amul, Nirma, Dabur, Favicol and Dalda. Polymer science gave us Lakhani chappal or maybe it gave us Relaxo chapal - only Salman Khan or Dara Singh would known. Bata was a biggest footwear name, Action, Force, Liberty came later. People drank Campa Cola or maybe GoldSpot using straws, straws that later littered the floor of Halls hosting marriage receptions. Vicks ki goli lo…People were popping in Vicks lozenges after smoking a Cavanders. If that didn’t get rid of the smoky smell, they considered brushing the teeth using Ajanta tooth ‘burush’ and white Colgate toothpaste, or may be just chew on some toothpowder sold in red headed white tin containers. Mouthwash! sellers and buyers had no need for it yet. Raju was content with Dabur Lal Dant Manjan that guaranteed pearly white motiyo jaisay daant.

Deodorant! Who needed them when we had Vaseline hair oil, the smell didn't offend anyone yet. Vaseline the perfumed hair oil, may be they were competing against Bengali Cantharidine.
Deodorant! Who needed them when we had Nycil ‘powder’. However, Nycil had no perfume to talk of, it was unperfumed, but it worked magic on scratchy Indian backs. For shoulder to shoulder good smell we had Shower to Shower.

Khaitan gave common man something that only the White man of pre-Independence days could easily afford: Cool air without manual labor - Air Power. Hand Crafted Hand-held fans retired to some corner of the house, but were retrieved everytime electricity went dead, and that happened just as often as it happens now. Kerosene lamp was still kept in some corner of the house, a back up. When electricity was on, most houses were lit yellow by incandescent Surya light bulbs. Bulbs controlled by big black Knobs. However Tubelight with its pure white light had arrived illuminating the freshly Nerolac painted walls.

Kerosene stove
slowly made way for the LPG stove. Food cooked in a Hawkins pressure cooker ‘looked’ good. MDH masala was used in cooking. Kayam churan, Hajmola or Sawad ki goli was to be poped in after eating at the in-laws. For some of certain age, Isabgol was the laxative husk to be mixed in milk and to be drunk just before going to bed at night. Beds in cold areas warmed by hot water bottles. Tin cans like the one of P mark oil, Lipton tea etc. were used to store sugar, salt, garam masala, pepper, tea, nuclear waste and other useful things. In homes, a Singer sewing machine was the ruler of women's gadget world. Girl’s wanted Lacto Calamine to get that rosy tone. Boroline was the antiseptic creamy answer to skin problem under the shirt. For under the pants problems of men, we had B-Tex lotion. Lifebuoy made life a lot less messy for pure-impure-unpure conscious, right-handed middle class Indians. Rosy pink Lux for aging beauty queens had competition from Lemony green Liril for girls who enjoyed frolicking under waterfalls. Waterfall…Mandakini showered under a waterfall wearing just a transparent white sari. Men still watch her bathe...keep googling her ram maili image up. Some smart people liked Smita Patil, but she too had to dance in the rain. Some people were kept busy by Bo Derek. While some were kept busy by Rambo…everyone waned to workout and get those muscles.
The other thing that kept men busy was the newest gadget. Hamara Bajaj was the national pride and ride- model was Chetak. Besides it we had LML Vespa. Casio calculator with LED display was Pure technology. Also, Wrist watch that could do mathematical calculation was the in gadget. It was again a marvel from the house of Casio. I you had a VCP in 80s- you were rich, if you had VCR you were Super Rich. Radios in leather bound covers became a dying breed but they were still around with old men who clung to them. Vinyl Cassettes were the revolution. Portable cassette players along with a stereo speaker set were pure indulgence for music fanatics who swore by Boney M. What did people hear ?

Gurdas Maan
was a singing star with a dafli in hand. Runa Laila of Bangladesh found an audience in India and Lal meri was the song. Nazia Hasan of Pakistan was the new fresh sound. People were listening to comic lines of Moin Akhtar, the Pakistani comedian. Ghulam Ali, The Ghazal Maestro of Pakistan became a star in India. Everybody was listening to him chupke chupke raat din. Besides people bought music cassettes. Sports...India found Cricket in a new sense, but that a whole different story. In addition, we can name P.T. Usha. One more name I would like to name is that of Sergey Bubka. When Sergey Bubka pole-vaulted to a record in 1983, we in India celebrated. Remember, India was still friends with Russia. That again is another story.
Movie, another Indian passion. Sunday movies on Doordarshan were a big draw. One day the Doordarshan people decided to show 'art' movie for some weeks. It didn't last. People hated the idea.
' Uski Roti! What!...just telecast Rajesh Khanna ki Roti. We would rather watch black and white screaming electron bugs fight it out on the signal down blue screen. We would rather watch the multi- colored bars and listen to the single longest electronic beep. What the hell is Uski Roti! The slow churning of Doordarshan logo to the sound of some dying instrument, tuu-uuuu-tuu-uu-tu, during the first early morning telecast is more interesting than Uski Roti. Uski Roti! Kiski Roti! '

Ramsay Brothers were making Horror movies like Purana Mandir by the dozen and these films were, let’s use the bollywood term - Super Duper Hit. Besides Horror movies we had numerous celluloid versions of soap operas and these were called family dramas. Amitabh Bachchan
was the Shahenshah and so he remains to this day. Serious people and Cinema had a movie like Ardh Satya to catch. Times they seemed like changing. But that’s another story. Nothing changed.
Mr. India had everything…a super watch, a super invisible power, more than a dozen kids, a girlfriend that could sing-dance and look sexy in the rain wearing a synthetic sari, and he also had a super villain, a Mogambo to be blamed for all the troubles in life. It was the culmination of every male Indian fantasy.
Children, little children had other things on mind.
Owning a Hot Wheel Car or a Barbie was a dream for young boys and girls respectively, just as owing a Maruti 800 was for adults universally . Indrajal Comics brought with them syndicated comic books like The Phantom , Mandrake, Flash Gordon, and Buz Sawyer. Besides these it also had original graphic stories. Chandamama and Amar Citra Katha introduced Indian Mythologies and tales from other cultures to the growing children of the 80s. Target Magazine was the all time Best English Magazine for Children. It had the best feature stories and the best original content. Gardhab Das is what an idiot could aspire to be and yet be proud of himself. He could have stood an election and won on children vote, only if they could vote. Children had syndicated cartoon shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Also, we had one cartoon show about flying magical ponies. Children had trouble understanding what the hell Nirodh was…why all the rain and the singing and the pink umbrella. Grown up had trouble understanding it too, the population kept growing in spite of all the talk and wall painting by the Family welfare departmentJacha Bacha Bachoo ka Baap sab khush, all happy under the one big palm. That, again, is another story.

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