Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Saddam is Alive and Running along a Beach... for Elections in India

From today's Hindustan Times dated 31 March, 2009.
The caption for this PTI photo reads:
A poster of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein pasted on a campaign vehicle of Saddam Hussain* - CPI(M) candidate from Malapuram in north Kerala, a Muslim-dominated seat.
Interestingly, Malappuram district also has a Saddam beach which got its name during the Gulf War.

The story of the Saddam beach according to The Hindu (31/12/2008):
When the beach got its name (Saddam) during the first Gulf War, there were hardly three-dozen families there. The name of the beach has got into official records.
“It was a clash between two Sunni factions on the beach that earned the beach its name,” said V. Abdul Khader, another resident. “Initially, it had a negative tone. It later transformed into a positive image of resistance against U.S. aggression.” 
The name of the candidate is actually T.K. Hamsa. He was "mistakenly" captioned as Saddam Hussain by the leading Newspapers of the country. (check the comment made by Nikhil )


Previously on Saddam: Saddam Brand Fireworks

Aayega Aanewala from Mahal. Rare, Redux.

"The record of the song was originally released with the name of the narrative character, Kamini, credited as the singer, but it became so popular that "thousands of requests for the song used to pour in at the radio station along with a request to mention the name of the singer while playing the record. The officials approached HMV to find out who the singer of this runaway hit was. As a result of this, Lata's name began to be announced over the radio. It was only with the film Barsaat that names of the playback artistes began appearing on the records and on screen"

- In Search of Lata Mangeshkar, Harish Bhimani (Harper Collins, 1995), page 154

A rare version of song Aayega Aanewala, composed by music director Khemchand Prakash, for Kamal Amrohi’s strange thriller film "Mahal" (1949).

You might notice the music on this particular version of the popular song sounds more clear, you can hear lot more of the instruments, and the real genius of Khemchand Prakash shrines through in all its glory. The version of the song "Aayega Aanewala" used in this video is from the LP When Melody Was Queen (Regal Records, 1969 ). A great collection of 12 classic tracks from the 1950's and the 60's.

Found the album here at Eastern Eye blog.

Related post on this song:  A wonderful remix of Aayega Aanewaala by Paul Riordan

Funky Political Headgears, Mad Hatters down the years and elections

Although the name 'Mad Hatter' was undoubtedly inspired by the phrase "as mad as a hatter," there is some uncertainty as to the origins of this phrase. As mercury was used in the process of curing felt used in some hats, it was impossible for hatters to avoid inhaling the mercury fumes given off during the hat making process. Hatters and mill workers often suffered mercury poisoning as residual mercury vapor caused neurological damage including confused speech and distorted vision. It was not unusual then for hatters to appear disturbed or mentally confused, many died early as a result of mercury poisoning. Principal symptoms of mercury poisoning are excessive timidity, diffidence, increasing shyness, loss of self-confidence, anxiety, and a desire to remain unobserved and unobtrusive. However, the Mad Hatter does not exhibit the symptoms of mercury poisoning.
[Wiki article on The Mad Hatter]

 About the photographs and their source(clockwise):

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru, 1st and longest serving Prime Minister of Independent India, serving from 1947 to 1964, in a Tribal headgear. Press Information Bureau(GOI).
  2.  Indira Gandhi, 5th Prime Minister of  India who won three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, sports  in a Jat headgear from Haryana. Captured by veteran PTI lensman Subhash Chander Malhotra.
  3. Chandra Shekhar, 11th Prime Minister of  India in a Rajasthani turban. By Subhash Chander Malhotra.
  4.  V.P. Singh, 10th Prime Minister of  India, tries to put on the head of a giant "gudia", doll, as a headgear. By  Subhash Chander Malhotra. Indira Gandhi at one time was known as goonghi gudia. And in the 80s and early 90s, gudia - the pink Sleeping Doll with her big beady blue plastic eyes that would sleep shut on movement, was the Indian answer to the costly Barbie which eventually came to India in 1986-87 and a toy of the affluent urban population.
  5. One more head. P. V. Narasimha Rao, 12th Prime Minister of India. Picture by PTI lensman Vijay Joshi.
  6.  Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the thirteenth (a stint that lasted exactly 13 days) and sixteenth Prime Minister of India, in a Sikh Turban. By Vijay Joshi. By Subhash Chander Malhotra.

Credit: Found these amazing photographs in a Catalogue for a Photo Exhibition organized in year1999 by Press Trust of India in celebration of 50 years of its existence.  So, Thank you PTI!

And here are some more gems collected mostly from The Hindu and The Tribune. Most of them again by PTI photographers.

About the Images(clockwise):
  • A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in a traditional Mysore Peta (headgear) presented to him on his 75th birthday.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a Keffiyeh presented to him by a delegation of the Haj Committee.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a traditional tribal headgear of Chhattisgarh.
  • Laloo Prasad Yadav wearing a traditional Assamese headgear appeals for calm and amity between Assamese and Biharis.
  • Sushma Swarajat a rally in Hydrabad.
  • Sonia Gandhi in a Himachali cap.
  • Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi in a colourful headgear at a campaign rally in Allahabad.
  • Sonia Gandhi tries out a traditional Assamese headgear

Happy New Year. Vishnu in Space.

March 27, 2009

Today is the first day of the new year according to the Kashmiri lunar calender. Kashmiri Pandits celebrate this day as Navreh. 

'Vishnu in Space' Image: Cover of almanac of Kashmiri Pandit community.

As part of the tradition, on the morning of this day. the very first thing that one gets to see is the new year's nachipatir or  almanac. So every year, in the wee hours of this particular day, a decided by the movement of moon, I get to see Vishnu in Space.


A page from history:

"The 2nd of the month Caitra is a festival to the people of kashmir, called Agdus(?)*, and celebrated on account of a victory gained by their king, Muttai**, over the Turks."

- India by Al-Biruni, page 258

Abridged Edition of Dr. Edward C. Sachau's English Translation

Edited with Introduction and Notes by Qeyamuddin Ahmad,

Second Edition

Third Reprint 1995

Abu Raihan Muhammad ibn Ahmad, a Muslim of Iranian origin, popularly now known as Al-Beruni, was born in A.D. 973 at the outskirts of Khawarizm (modern day Khiva in Uzbekistan) and wrote Kitabu'l Hind in around 1030 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud.

* Ougdoh in Kashmiri language. It literally means 1st day.

** Lalitaditya Muktapida, emperor of Kashmir from 724 AD to 760 AD whose military might captured areas as far and as wide as Central Asia, Bengal and Karnataka.

Alberuni further wrote:
"According to their account he rules over the whole world. But this is exactly what they say of most of their kings. However, they are incautious enough to assign him to a time not much anterior to our time, which leads to their lie being found out. It is, of course, not impossible that a Hindu should rule (over a huge empire. as Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, and Persians have done, but all the times not much anterior to out own are well known.(If, therefore, such had been the case, we should know it.) perhaps the here mentioned king ruled over the whole of India, and they know of no other country but India and of no other nations but themselves.)"


they kid you not

Papa Mummy Rinku
Pinky Free
Pay for One Child Get Second Child Absolutely Free 
and if that doesn't reel you in, they also offer: "Wife 50% Off"

Sharmila and Pataudi in Gold Cafe Ad

Introducing a golden era in coffee...
Savour the exclusive taste
of premium 100% pure
instant coffee.
Rich with the real flavour
and satisfying aroma
of the choicest coffee beans.
Try it and you will agree,
it's the ultimate
in coffee luxury!
Gold Cafe
Premium 100% Pure coffee
Instant Coffee
The ultimate in coffee luxury
(Agency: Clarion)

Sharmila Tagore and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi in Gold Cafe Coffee Ad from 1980s. Together they helped create this coffee brand that successfully tried to compete against Nescafe.

Imran Khan-Gavaskar Thums Up Ad

The refreshing cola
 - The famous Thums Up advertisement  from early 1980s featuring the legendary Pakistani fast bowler Imran Khan and legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar.

This is from an era when Imran Khan didn't have to plead the case of good Talibs, he was just busy chasing movie starlets and selling cold drinks.


Operation Topaz

In around 1983, General Zia ul-Haq was thinking about "a thousand cuts", "Blood"  and "India". In around 1989, Operation Topaz to destabilize India was set in motion even as Zia had everyone trust  the merits of cricket diplomacy.

Zia could well have been thinking of a shaving blade when he thought up that name - Operation Topaz.

Image courtesy: . 75 year old C.K Devassy has been collecting blades for last 55 years and his awsome collection  includes more than 60 blade brands from around 10 countries incuding India, USA, England and even China.


Topaz presents T.M. Bihari's Professor Pyarelal
Image courtesy: Eatern Eye

Zeenat Aman is looking for the 1 rupee coin that fell from her hand while Dharmendra was driving crazy to keep the bad guys at bay.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

  "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream"
        by  Waring's Pennsylvanians, released 1929

The song was used to some great effect in 1986 film by Jim Jarmusch "Down by Law"starring Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni.

Here's the hilarious scene that Roberto Benigni rolls out:


The Emperor of Ice-Cream (1923) by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Maruti Omni 'Car' and not a Van

The Maruti Omni
An in-depth study of the most spacious car on the road.
It's surprising that most cars don't have the fifth door. Sure, you might call it the boot-latch or the dicky, but in this car it's definietly a point of entry - especially for a whole gang of excited kids, or the Mrs.' shopping bonanza!
in other words, it opens wide into wide inner space. And when you combine so much space with the superb Maruti features of styling, performance, fuel-efficiency and driving pleasure, you'll admit it's a total car. no wonder it's called the omni. With such an impressive introduction, let's step in for an in-depth study. [...]

Maruti Omni. Travel in Space.
(Agency: HTA ) A Maruti Omni ad from 1980s.

When Maruti Van was launched in 1984 (with a Maruti 800 3 cylinder 4 stroke 800cc engine that had been launced a year earlier), it was meant to be a micro-van competing against Bajaj vans and Standard vans. A year later, Maruti Van, under the name 'Omni', was being sold as the most spacious car on the Indian roads.

Nehru, family time

Family Photo: Kamala Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru and their daughter Indira.

-  Letters From a Father to His Daughter: Being the Brief Account of the Early Days of the World Written for Children.

I picked this book from Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum during my first trip to Delhi in the summer of 1999.

F.Scott Fitzgerald's advice to daughter Scottie

Worry about courage.
Worry about cleanliness.
Worry about efficiency.
Worry about horsemanship.
Don't worry about popular opinion.
Don't worry about doll.
Don't worry about the past.
Don't worry about the future.
Don't worry about growing up.
Don't worry about anyone getting ahead of you.
Don't worry about triumph.
Don't worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault.
Don't worry about mosquitoes.
Don't worry about flies.
Don't worry about insects in general.
Don't worry about parents.
Don't worry about boys.
Don't worry about disappointments.
Don't worry about pleasures.
Don't worry about satisfactions.
Think about: What am I really aiming at?

- F.Scott Fitzgerald, Letters to His Daughter, ed. Andrew Turnbull (New York: Scribner, 1965).

These lines of advice are listed in a letter dated August 8, 1933. In the introduction to this book, Frances Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald concludes that had she followed his advice and had he not been his father, she could have been an extraordinary woman.

Image of Fitzgerald with daughter Scottie from the book The People's Almanac presents The Book of Lists (Bantam  Edition, 1978) by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace

Sea Monkeys that were not Monkeys at all

Image courtesy: (a site having great collection of similar items from the 80s)

How many folks in India remember this mesmerizing for amazing pet creatures?

This ad could be found in comic books like Superman, Archie and almost every other comic.

The amazing Sea Monkeys were actually shrimps. And I used to fight with my elder cousin telling him these were real beings, why else would the comic have the amazing family portrait of these cute little sea monkeys.

Here's a  blog dedicated to sea monkeys called 'Sea Monkey Geek'

Tarzan in Pink Loin Cloth

According to the story line: A crazy forest princess is holding some lady friends of Tarzan as prisoners and she is forcing Tarzan to do house chores wearing a loin cloth made from the skin of a pink panther.
Or maybe the coloring artist was using the pink color to symbolize subjugation of Tarzan. Why else would Tarzan wear a pink underwear!

Image: Curiously colored version of Tarzan from Times of India.Sunday,  March 22, 2009. Edgar Rice Burroughs must be disappointed.

Remembrance Gemini Ganesan

Gemini Ganesan (17.11.120 - 22.03.2005)
Times of India dated March 22, 2009

Great Power Shoes

Bata Shoe Company Limited was incorporated in India on December 23, 1931. On April 6, 1956, it became a private company and changed name to "Bata Shoe Company Private Limited". Then on becoming a public company it became "Bata Shoe Company Limited" on April 18, 1973, but then only days later on April 23, it was renamed "Bata India Limited", the name by which we know it today.

Three ads from the 80s for the famous athletic shoe brand 'Power' from Bata. These shoes were first launched in the year 1972.

Birth of the fitness cult
Power Jogger


However strenuous workouts
your feet never had it so good.
Body by Workout


The future of tennis rests on this pair
Power Ultimo

(Agency: Clarion)

If shoes be the criteria (and it's a good criteria) to denote periods in personal or non- personal history, then this history can be traversed easily by dividing it into two eras: BATA era and the Post-BATA era. According to this fine classification, in case of personal histories, all your adolescence years can go into BATA era and the rest goes in post-BATA era. And since BATA came to India in 1931, everything since then, right until liberalization of economy, can be filed in BATA era and the post-liberalization can simply be called post-BATA era.

The first thing one noticed about the post-liberalization 'sports' shoes was that they were lighter (which was good), cooler (it was a new word), costlier (definitely bad but didn't pinch much now), its sole wasn't covered under any warranty(?) and these shoes never lasted very long. And still people bought them.

Image(right): Young Sachin Tendulkar from BATA era with his Power logo bat. Post-BATA era Sachin played with his famous MRF bat. That MRF logo apparently earned him 1.5 crore.

Stop for Cheaking

press Durgam Khabar
Stop for Cheaking
Noidea Police

Historic Caricatures by R.K. Laxman

Caricatures of (clockwise) Mahatma Gandhi, Jinnah, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (this one really stands out), Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Nehru.

Found these in wonderful book called Faces, Through the Eyes of R.K. Laxman (Bennett Coleman & Co, 2000) ("Presented by BPL Mobile.")
The 155 page book has a collection of great R.K.Laxman's caricatures of not only those leaders and personalities who shaped recent Indian history but also of some famous international personalities ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Mao and to Bernard Russells.

Palace of Electricity

"The Palace of Electricity glows nightly with dazzling lights and there written, as it were, in letter of fire, will be found the history of electricity from its most primitive manifestations to its latest application: the telephone, bearer of winged words and herald of the television which will transmit over long distances the living image of the person speaking...the fairy goddess of electricity has become a mighty sovereign, endowed thanks to the genius of man, with infinite powers."
- lines in praise of electricity from the official guide to the World fair of 1900 held in Paris. Among many other wonders, talking films and escalators were also first publicized at this fair.

After visiting this Exposition Universelle, Oscar Wilde wrote this line to his friend Robert Ross in a letter dated June 1900: "The only ugly thing at the Exposition is the public."

Dostoyevsky on World Fair of 1862 in London

In London, Dostoyevsky visited the Crystal Palace which housed the World Fair of 1862. "The fair is truly magnificent," he wrote. "You feel the tremendous power which has attracted here this mass of people from all over the world into one herd...And no matter how free and independent you might have felt before, here you are seized with an unknown fear...There is something biblical about the scene, something Babylonian, as if the prophecy from the Apocalypse has come true. You become suddenly aware that it would take much spiritual resistance and denial over centuries to withstand the pressure and not to succumb completely to the awesome impression, not to bow to the fact and not to worship Mammon, in other words, not to accept the existing for the ideal..."
- Re-reading Dostoyevsky, by Y. Karyakin, Novositi Press Agency Publishing House Moscow, 1971. pp 18.
Crystal Palace was a pavilion of glass and steel built by the famous architect Sir Joseph Paxton to house the main exhibit of the London World Fair of 1851. It was again used as the venue for World Fair in 1862.

According to wiki:
Exhibition included such large pieces of machinery as parts of Charles Babbage's analytical engine, cotton mills, and maritime engines by the firm of Henry Maudslay, as well as a range of smaller goods including fabrics, rugs, sculptures, furniture, plates, silver and glass wares, and wallpaper. The exposition also introduced the use of caoutchouc for rubber production and the Bessemer process for steel manufacture.

  1. An electricity tower at Qazigund, Kashmir. June 2008
  2. The Great International Exhibition of 1862. from -  Life Magazine

Old Ad: "Maggi, I'm hungry"

"Mummy, I'm hungry..."

How often have you said this! Each time with 
delightfully mouth-watering results. Because mummy 
knows you love to eat Maggi Noodles, at any time of 
the day. be it after school, or after play.
Maggi 2 minute noodles come in four delicious
flavours - Chicken, Masala, Capsika, and Sweet Sour.
Try a different one each time.
Maggi times are fun times...always!
Maggi 2-minute noodles. Fast to cook! Good to eat!

Maggi Noodles was first launched in India in Delhi in January 1983 by Food Specialties Ltd (associated with Nestle). It was an instant hit thanks to ever overworked mothers and ever hungry kids. Maggi became a phenomena. The following year, only people in the world eating more Maggi than Indians, were the Malaysians. Some tried to imitate Maggi's Masala for success and its instant formula, some like a brand called Favvy instant noodles, but none succeeded and now no one even remembers them. (But yes, a decade later, on board Indian trains, cup-a-noodles were a rage)

Maggi's Magic Masala

It seemed, Maggi's Masala flavor, looking at its success, had a taste unlike anything else that Indian taste buds had ever known and yet it tasted completely Indian. If you opened up the masala sachet - the Tastemaker, inside, along with the spicy red stuff, there were sugar grains too. Strange, it seemed. And the reverse side of a Maggi pack offered recipies like: "How to make Maggi Pakoras?", "How to stuff samosas with Maggi?", "Maggi ki chatni " and similar fetish.

In the late 90s, probably because of the quick rise (thanks to some media blitz) of Nissin's Top Ramen noodles (I thought, it was good because of its flat noodles and because of it veggy taste), Maggi tried to reinvent it self. Maggi noodles became flatter and the flavour changed. Flatter was fine bit for flavour it went the dhaniya (coriander) way probably thinking why not completely Indianize the noodle. Terrible idea, weren't the Indian's already eating enough of green dhaniya. Now, no matter which flavor of Maggi you bought ( the popular Masala flavour seemed to have vanished from the market), Maggi tasted of dhaniya. They had recently launched Maggi Macaroni, and even that tasted of dhaniya. Yuck. That was probably the first time when I completely stopped eating Maggi. I didn't eat it for months at a stretch. Soon the wise guys  realized their mistake and the Masala was back. Farewell dhaniya. Nissin's Top Ramen was forgotten. Beloved Masala Maggi was back.

Maggi remains the staple diet of hostel dweller and college goers. I don't eat it much anymore. I ate so much Maggi - the kind with two double boiled eggs thrown on top) during college days that I don't have much taste left for it.


My little way of preparing Maggi: How not to make Maggi in 2 minutes or how to make Maggi in 20 minutes:

  • Take the noodle, do not break, put it in the container or pot or whatever, add water (more than normal amount) and boil. Don't add masala yet.
  • Once the noodle look ready, seperate the broth and the noodles. Pour out the noodle broth (only the broth) into another container.
  • Run cold tap water on the sides of the container or pot having the hot bland noodles. The point is to drastically reduce the temperature of the noodles so that they sort of solidify. Sort of look like chowmin. But do not make the noodles too solidified. You don't want it to look like 'School tiffin box Maggi' - cold solid maggi noodles that look and feel like yesterday's rice but just taste better. 
  • Wait for a few minutes. Now, start boiling the broth again, add the masala. Stir. Add the cold noodles, some butter, and Tomato puree. Put a lid. Boil for two minutes and done. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.
I used to make it with non-atta variety of Maggi - there was no healthy atta variety then. I don't know if it would work with the atta one. I remember, I got banned from kitchen for making it often, the reason: ' How can you stretch a simple 2 minute process of Maggi to a 20 minute culinary experiment.'

'Two-Minute' was the idea that really sold Maggi.

Bhartrihari's Satakas as an Advertising copy

Found this ad for a local Pan Masala brand in a socio-cultural-religious magazine of Kashmiri Pandit community.

Shringar [Adornment]
Flirtatiously moving eye brows and casting side glances,
Are the adornment and weapons of a young woman
- Bhartrihari’s Shringar Shatkam

Vairag [Asceticism]
We do not enjoy worldly pleasures,
But we ourselves are devoured
Desire is not reduced in intensity
but we ourselves are reduced to senility
- Bhartrihari’s Vairagyashatakam

Bhartrihari(? d.651 A.D.) was a Sanskrit grammarian and poet who lived around 6th or 7th century.  According to one legend he was the King of Ujjain and the (elder) brother of legendary King Vikramaditya, according to this legend Bhartrihari renounced the world and became a poet. because of a woman (according to one version it was his wife and her tragic death because of him, and according to another, it was a girl who rejected his love).

Bhartrihari is famous for his sequence of three Satakas (centaines), each one having hundred Quatrains: Niti Shatakam (A Hundred Quatrains on Ethics), Shringar Shatakam (A Hundred Erotic Quatrains) and Vairagya Shatakam (A Hundred Quatrains on Renunciation).

Sita Sings The Blues, Opening Credit Track, Hindu Cosmology and Sita in Space

A lesson in Hindu Cosmology from the opening credit track of Nina Paley's wonderful film "Sita Sings the Blues"

Song and artist: Sita in Space by Todd Michaelsen (most of the original music for the film is by him)

The stuck gramophone song is Moanin’ Low in the voice of  1920's Jazz legend Annette Hanshaw. [original song at youtube]

Also, in that credit track, the people who know their Bollywood would surely recognize 'jaadoo signature tune for E.T. ' by Rajesh Roshan for Hindi film of year 2000 'Koi...Mil Gaya'. [check it out the tune at youtube]

'Sita Sings The Blues' beautifully re-tells the story of Sita from the ancient Hindu epic(s) of Ramayan and, in a parallel narrative, tells a personal story from the life of this film's creator. Of couse the story from Ramayan is the same: Sita is kidnapped by demon king Ravan. Sita sings (in the lovable microphone voice of Annette Hanshaw) for her husband Ram. Ram fights Ravan and (with some local monkey help) rescues Sita. But on returning to the Kingdom of Ayodhaya, Sita is asked to give proof of her love, piety and devotion for her husband Lord Ram. Sita has to prove to everyone that she is still pure. [In the end she goes down into earth, Mother Earth]

'Sita Sings The Blues' tells this story in the most magnificent and quirky animated way.

And to think that this miracle of a film would not have been available to all for viewing because of copyright issues.

The News as of 2008-12-03 was:
After pouring three years of her life into making the film, and having great success with audiences at festival screenings, she now can't distribute it, because of music licensing issues: the film uses songs recorded in the late 1920's by singer Annette Hanshaw, and although the recordings are out of copyright, the compositions themselves are still restricted. That means if you want to make a film using these songs from the 1920s, you have to pay money — a lot of money (around $50,000.00).
Read more about the films struggle with copyright at

And now after much efforts on part of its maker and supporters, Sita Sings The Blues is available for free

Download or Watch the entire film at or better still (in more formats and sizes) at Cutting The Chai


Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at


Colourful history of Holi. O yea!

Afternoon of Holi day is the best time to be driving down roads of Delhi and the roads of its many satellite towns. The roads look deserted, there are fewer cars, there's almost no traffic, these roads are almost unrecognizable. Occasionally you see groups of people, migrant workers, painted pink, little drunk, walking or cycling back home.

In Kashmir, the Holi celebrations of security men used to quite a spectacle for both the local Muslims and the Hindus. By the time the celebrations used to end, which usually meant afternoon, these men could be seen lying inebriated on the road sides and in the ditches.

Holi has been celebrated like this for quite sometime now.

During the Huli, when all business is laid aside, and the Hindus of Northern India are sometimes inebriated for weeks, and give themselves up to all kinds of revelry in their Zenanas, Ranjit Singh had as little scruple as any other Sirdar of the Panjab, to appear openly mast or drunk, and exhibited himself in the streets of Lahor with several females riding on an elephant; while the people thought none the worse of him for this, and set it down as his manner of celebrating the Huli.
- Travels in Kashmir And The Panjab, from German of Baron Charles Hugel with notes and translation by Major T.B. Jervis, F.R.S. Published 1945 (page 383)

Baron Charles (Carl, Karl) Alexander Anselm von Hügel  wrote this while visiting Punjab in around 1835. In in the same book he gives a wonderful description (although he got the origin of Holi a bit wrong, the bit about Krishna and Sita - it should be Krishna and Radha) of how holi celebration were conducted in Northern India of that era.
Page 311 of the book reads:

This Hindu festival, as I have said, is in honour of Krishna, and represents the manner in which he and his beloved Sita, with their companions amused themselves. A quantity of Singhara meal dyed yellow, green, red, and blue, is put into large baskets, and mixed up with little pieces of gold and silver tinsel, a number of large pots of water dyed with the same colours, and little water-engines being set near. Every one appears in white garments, and the festival commences, by the dancing girls sitting down, and breaking forth into a song in honour of the feast. The baskets of coloured meal are then introduced, and thin glass balls full of Singhara powder, are distributed to the assembly, which they throw at each other, and being broken with the slightest force discharge their contents on the white dresses, and stain them. Like all games of this description, these begin gently, but soon assume a rougher aspect, each player seizing as many balls as he can, and flinging them at one another. When the glass balls are exhausted, they take the coloured meal, first, as much as the fingers can hold, then by handfuls, and at last they empty the baskets over each other's heads, covering the whole person. The dirtiest part of the entertainment consists in the sprinkling with the coloured waters. In great houses the Hull is often held in the Zenana, and on those occasions the women are allowed to be present. Spirits are drank, and the amusements are then carried far beyond our European ideas of propriety, but the Hindu thinks no harm of them. 

Image: Some reader (researcher) at Oxford  really enjoyed these lines. A page from this book available at Google Books

Jai Bolo

Recorded live at Kheer Bhawani, Kashmir in June 2008.

Voice of a Security man of CRPF leading the ritual of final "Jai Bolo" chant after the bhajan and prayers at the spring shrine.

Black Goddess

And then the discussion quickly veered to the subject of black goddess on the wall. "Isn't it inauspicious that the goddess depicted here - fair Vaishno Devi - is colored black."

Black, Gold Glitter and Red Glitter


What the hell was Y2K bug?

A recall: Since the early days of computing systems, computer programs stored year data only using two digits, for example, 1990 was stored as 90. Why was it a problem? Well, consequently, these computer programs could not distinguish between the year 2000 and the year 1900 because in the system both of them would have been represented as 00. And according to still some other programming conventions, year 2000 could be represented as 19100. Why such an oversight? Well, probably, during those not so heedy early days of computers, no programmer believed that human race would be using the same computer systems when we reach the start of the new millennium(did that mean the start of year2000 or the end of 2000?). Surely flying cars couldn't be managed using such primitive computer systems and logic. And some other people hopefully believed that the world would end well before the start of year 2000, so why worry about a silly thing like date convention. But we never got those promised flying cars, and the world didn't end, and the computer systems just kept inheriting old legacy conventions of programing. Years passed by and when we were about to reach the new millennium, the world suddenly realized, come 2000 and the applications and embedded systems, the world, built around these buggy programs would fail completely, produce incorrect results and cause total chaos. The End.

So the IT industry and the world went into double gear trying to fix the bug and solve the problem. 
According to one report, the total cost of the work done in preparation for Y2K was about 300 billion US dollars. Y2K came and went. There were some problems (in US, Japan, France and some other parts of developed world) but no major disruption of world system and not even a false nuclear alarm. Naturally, it made some people wonder if the bug (that they first created and then they fixed) was worth so much money.

[More about Y2K at wiki ]

Information Technology Industry old timers in India still remember that year as a time of great business, great opportunities, great experience and of great learning. Y2K meant work. In 1999, India setup a Corpus fund of Rs.700 crores to address the problem of Y2K bug. The Amount spent on Information technology in the year 2000 was more than 1 trillion.

Here are some of the Y2K bug ads from year 1999:

Advertising solution and awareness:

 "The Y2K Bug can destroy your company's asset. And I don't mean computers."
- Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group of Companies

"The greatest asset of any company is its reputation - the confidence of its customers and shareholders. Nothing is more difficult, or easier to lose. The Y2K Bug can affect all your systems, from inventory to production billing. It can seriously hamper your ability to deliver to your customers' satisfaction. And if you are a listed company, it can undermine your share value. You will be vulnerable to lawsuits, and SEBI strictures. You can lose business - but more importantly, you will lose the faith of your customers. That's why none of us, whatever the size of our company, can afford to miss the Y2K deadline."

Good morning 2000,
Department of Electronics
Govt. of India
Let's make India Y2K OK

Y2k at a Glance
  • The Y2K bug can cause serious disruption 
  • Even if you don't use computer or microchip-based system, Y2K problems in your suppliers, customers or utilities can affect you
  • The bug isn't hard to fix - all it takes is time and senior management commitment
  • Failure to get Y2K OK can lead to loss of data, cash-flow problems, loss of investor confidence and legal action
  • the tests for the bug are simple, but must be carried out at all levels of date-dependent computer and microchip-based operations
  • Inventorise; Assess; repair-replace or Retain; Test and Install; and have a Contingency Plan
  • You can use Y2K to revamp your business &build new business 
  • There are several reliable sources of help.
(Agency: Lintas)

Advertising backup plan:

Y2K's coming. Don't just sit there.

It'll be the end of the world if you lose your data. And that could come with the new millennium, or computer crashes, or accidental deletion, or even a virus. In short, if you haven't backed up your computer data, you could lose it. That's everything from tax files to office inventory and payroll, even family photos. But there is a solution. Store your life's work in a safe place: Iomega's range of portable storage media. We have solutions for all types of data. Zip is the world's most popular, high-performance SuperFloppy for the home and office. Jaz is the ultimate choice for hard disk capacity and performance. And for mobile PCs and digital cameras, Click! 40 MB disk is the benchmark.

Iomega's innovative software solutions make protecting data even easier and more convenient: QuickSync automatically backs up your files whenever you save data on your hard disk; Norton Zip Rescue recovers your data when your hard disk crashes and Password Protection prevents unauthorized access to your data. So save yourself and relax.
Jaz 2GB
The superfast, extremely vast professional storage.
Zip 100MB or 250 MB
The SuperFloppy preferred by Millions
Clicl 40MB
Mobile storage solution for digital cameras & mobile PCs.
Your life is safe here 

Opportunity created:

To help bring faster growth in the IT and IT enabled Services in The State
Successful venture can avial the dedicated
IT Venture Capital Fund

- A year 2000 ad by Webel (West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Limited) and i-winm ICICI- West Bengal Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited


Unrelated post: Information Overload

Old Advertisments for Money Matters

The bear and the Bull
the game all big currencies play

Corporation Bank
The soundest foreign exchange advice you can get

- An old ad for Corporation Bank. The look of that computer tells that the ad is from 1980s.

Bye Bye Wallet
Welcome MahaBank-VISA
Worldwide Travellers Cheques
Bank of Maharastra

- 1980s ad for Travellers Cheque service of VISA provided by Bank of Maharastra.

You can attempt stock market gains in two ways
One: Put in your money.
and watch for ups downs ups downs
Two: Go for Magnum Smooth sailing, with 12%+ every year. Assured.
'a taste of stock market gains, minus the risks'
(Agency: Lintas)
-Year 1989 ad from SBI Mutual fund, Magnum Regular Income Scheme

Are you letting your money be lazy in a saving or current account?
Make it earn higher interest rate with Citibank's UnFixed Deposit. You get a chequebook too - for easy withdrawals!
Consumer Services Group
Come, we'll give you a banker, not just a bank.

Quick, grab a pen and a pair of scissors and...
...make your savings earn an extra Rs 400* (or more) a year
* on a deposit of Rs 10,000
Citibank's Un Fixed Deposit
Earn higher interest and 
the freedom to withdraw
- Two ads from 1980s for Citibank's Un-Fixed Despost scheme.


For effortless access to share market growth
invest in Mastershare
the one share which gets you
so many, so conveniently. 
from Mutual Fund division* of
(A Public Sector Financial Institution)
* To be converted into a subsidiary

The expert solution to all
your share investment problems
Mastershare for effortless access to share market growth
- Two ads for Mastershare scheme of UTI from September-October 1986.

Check out the credits and rest of the vintage ads here

Cigarettes and Songs

A little video created using vintage cigarette ads posted previously and some Hindi film songs about Smoking.

Song sample used:

1. Famous Dev Anand song, "Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya" (Hum Dono, 1961)
    Singer: Mohd. Rafi
    Music Director: Jaidev
    Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi

2. "Zindagi Cigarette Ka Dhuan" (Faasla, 1974) .
     A film by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
     Singer: Bhupinder Singh
     Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
     Music again by Jaidev

3.  "Sutta Lagao Yaaron Piyo Ek Dooje Ka Jootha"  (Goonj, 1989)
     A film by Jalal Agha starring Kumar Gaurav
     Music: Biddu   

4. "itna lamba kash lo yaaron"  (Hu Tu Tu, 1999)
    A film by Gulzar
    Lyrics: Gulzar
    Music: Vishal Baradwaj

5.  "BC Sutta" by zeest, a band from Pakistan. 

6.  "Kash Laga" (No Smoking, 2007)
      A film by Anurag Kashyap 
     Singers: Daler Mehendi,Sukhwinder Singh,Vishal Baradwaj
     Lyrics: Gulzar
     Music: Vishal Baradwaj

And a special smoking appearence by Rajnikant (one is clip from some South Indian movie and another is from the film Giraftaar (1985) )

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.”

Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met…

While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cigarette. His mouth was plugged with a gum called Nicoteen. And he wore circular nicotine patches, from the same product stable, on his left forearm and right bicep. Richard’s blood brownly brewed, like something left overnight in the teapot. He was a cigarette; and he felt like one. And he still felt like a cigarette . . . What he was doing was practicing non-smoking. He knew how Americans treated smokers, people of smoke, people of fire and ash, with their handfuls of dust. He would be asked to do an awful lot of it: non-smoking.
 -The Information by Martin Amis

Curious about the Sound: Checkout this post about Hindi Songs and Cigarettes

The following ads are from Advertising Management: Concepts and Cases by Manendra Mohan
(Tata McGraw-Hill, 1989)
Four Square Kings
Live Life Kingsize

All the taste.all the way

Four Square Cigarette ad featuring Suresh Oberoi from 1970s. I think the woman in the background is Supriya Pathak.Check comments.

All this talk about Kings sounds funny because cigarettes have more to do with beggars in 18th century Europe. It all began when beggars in Spanish town of  Seville began to pick burnt cigar ends, left by rich young men, from the ground and rolled up the tobacco remains in a paper and smoked up.

Next one.
Give a man a pipe he can smoke .

Give me a bike
Give me a highway
Give me my Girl
And give me the taste of toasted tobacco

Charminar Filter cigarette Ad from 1970s.
An Executive Affiar
Regent Cigarette ad from late 70s and early 80s. Regent Filter Tipped was launched in 1958-59, it was one of the first filtered  cigarettes in the market.

Visa Cigarette
from the house of Philip Morris (now part of Altria Group)

Big Update: The following Ads are from the book Brand Positioning: Strategies for competitive Advantage by Subroto Sengupta (Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1994)

New from Philip Morris
Marlboro Filter Cigarette
The new easy-drawing filter cigarette that delivers the goods on flavor. Long size. Popular filter price. Light up a Marlboro and be glad you've changed to a filter.
- famous 'Marlboro cowboy Ad' created in 1955 by Leo Burnett Agency that transformed Marlboro for women (earlier it used to have a red tip to mark lipstick smears and that pack almost had a pink color ) to Marlboro for real men - and a real man couldn't get better than a cowboy.  In this ad the emphasis is also on word 'filter' as during that time filters were regarded as 'sissy'. The book reproduced it from The New Advertising by Robert Glatzer(Citadel Press)

Marlboro bidis!

A hoarding for 'Governer Bidis' seen at Madras airport (photo by  Mrs. Mala Mukherjee)

It's the 'made for each other' blend that set the filter trend!

What makes Wills Filter the largest-selling filter in all South Asia?
Unquestioned smoking satisfaction results only when hand picked Virginia tobaccos are perfectly matched with an up-to-date filter...truly made for each other. As in Wills Filter.
 [Rs. 1.80 for 20, 90p for 10]
- (Agency: HTA) Wills Filter was launched in 1963 and this is one of the earliest and historic ad of Wills Filter 'made for each other.
The strategy was to make non-filter smokers  shift to filtered sticks smoothly. 'Made for each other' did and did not stand for man and woman. It's a visual that stayed in all their future ads. I think the man here is actor Raj Kumar. This was a time when half a pack actually came at half a cost. And the filter pack was cheaper than an pack of non-filtered Cigarettes.

Things To be Proud of 

wherever you go they're good.
 - an old ad of Gold Flake plain from 1960

 Gold Flake was launched in India by ITC (then Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd) in 1912.

Quality that has stood the test of time
Wills Gold Flake 
the best plain cigarette you can buy

- an ad for Wills Gold Flake plain from1970

Gold Flake Filter Kings
Worth its length in gold
Gold Flake Filter Kings comes king size length for
a really luxurious smoke. More Virginia tobacco for
more satisfaction. and smoother too. Worth its
length in gold - that's Gold Flake Filter Kings

Wherever you go they're good
[Rs.3.20 for 20. Rs 1.60 for 10]
-  Gold Flake Filter Kings ad from August 1970

The tinkle of crystal,
the sparkle of talk and laughter...
and Gold Flake.
Great quality...
For the gracious people

Gold Flake Filter
Quality that's forever

 - Gold Flake Filter Kings ad from 1984.
(Agency: Clarion)

For gracious people

 - Gold Flake Filter Kings ad, September 1987
 man on the left is actor Vijayendra Ghatge
(Agency: Clarion)

Celebrate the arrival of a great cigarette
Gold Flake Filter

 - ad for Gold Flake Filter, late 1980s
(Agency: Clarion)

Live Life King Size

Four Square Kings
All the taste all the way
 - Ad for Four Square Kings from 1970s.(Agency: O&M) It was the first one to use western imagery of high flying life  filled with sailing, riding and high adventure. Right until 1988, Four Square Kings was the largest selling king-size filter cigarette in India. Then Gold Flake Filter Kings overtook it.

Charminar -dark, strong tobacco in a plain (non-filter) cigarette- was once the largest selling cigarette brand in India.

Manufacture by Vazir Sultan Company (VST Industries Limited, Azamabad Hyderabad)
Right: Range of cigarettes manufactured by VST Industries (Charminar Company). These included: Charminar Special Mild Virginia, Charms Mini King, Charminar (actual non-filtered), Charms Virginia Kings, Charminar Gold Filter, Vijay, Silver Kings, Charminar Filter, Vijay Gold Flake, Charms Virginia Filter, Gold Fine Cut. 

Smoothness has never been so satisfying
Charminar Gold Filter
Such a rare combination: 
smoothness, but with
all the taste, all the satisfaction
Just what you always wanted:
Charminar Gold
[Rs. 1/95 for 20]
-  An old ad of Charminar Gold (Agency: Clarion)

This is the spirit of freedom
This is the age of Charms
The unmistakable taste of fine Virginia tobaccos
And the unmistakable denim pack in a regular size
"It tastes so good"

 (Agency: Enterprise)
-  Charms Virginia filter cigarette ad from late 1980s featuring male model Marc Robinson.
King sized Virginia filter cigarette with the brand name 'Charms' was launched in 1981.
Update: Female model should be Shyamoli Varma. And ad should be from around 1983.


- Vintage ad of Panama non filtered Cigarette, year 1972

Found the following ad on the cover of a local telephone directory of year 1996-97

We Red &White
Smokers are
One of a Kind


- Ad of Red&White cigarette from year 1996 featuring actor Akshay Kumar

 Following ads are from some old issues of Gentleman Magazine

Discover a passion
-  Wills Classic ad from July 1999

Gold Flake 
Honey Dew

It's Honeydew Smooth

 -  Gold Flake ad October 1999. That particular year they concentrated on Dew.

 Body &Soul
Be Gold
Benson &Hedge
Benson &  Hedges Special Filter Cigarette ad, January 1999. They had launched new packet design.

Cool &Calm
Be Gold
Benson &Hedges
Benson & Hedges Lights (BHL) Cigarette ad, July 1999

And then came year 2000 and we only got to see surrogate cigarette ads. And soon even that was put to an end and finally a movement to ban smoking in public took off.

 Seven World Cups. One Winner
Wills Sports Cricket Book

 - January 1999

Wills Indian Open 

Catch Golf in New Light
Brought to you by Wills Sport
- from India Today, March 2000
 Later cigarette companies are stopped from sponsoring sports events.

The Charms Companion

 Sets you free

 - probably advertising a music album. August 2000


Cigarette Smoking Is Injurious To Health!


Rest of the ads in this series here


Check out a great collection of  vintage cigarette ads at Cutting The Chai by Soumyadip


Update: Cavanders ads generously shared by reader Kabir Basu Roy.

Cavanders ad from early 90s

Cavanders ad from late 90s

Arjun Rampal in Cavaders ad

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