Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Met the Walrus and he spoke. Neat.

In 1969,  14-year-old Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape recorder, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto for a chat. And convinced him to do an interview.
In 2007, we got 'I Met The Walrus', an animated short film by Josh Raskin and illustrator James Braithwaite, that used the interview to tell a story in brilliant visuals.

Official Website: I met the Walrus

Baby Guddu in Colgate Ad

'Iconic' Colgate Ad from 1980s featuring child actor Baby Guddu
Baby Guddu, one of the most popular child actor of Hindi films made in later half of 1980s, Samundar (1986) being one of her most famous film.

Helen, Hazel Eyed-Chic-Sleek

  1. Helen in 'Cha Cha Cha' (1964), song "Meethi Meethi Madhur Madhur".[Youtube link] At the end, she actually slaps the guy singing the Bhajan.
  2. Helen in 'Mayurpankh' (1954), song "Mohabbat Ki Dastan". She was about 15 at the time. One of her first credited appearances. [Youtube link]

"Hazel Eyed-Chic-Sleek-gorgeously glamorous twinkled Toed Charmer of the Silver Screen"
-  a part of 'publicity' caption for Helen from Ismail Merchant's 'Helen: Queen of the Nautch Girls' (1973) [Youtube link]

Jinnah-Gandhi, Birathers in Arm. Hysteria of Blather.

-Jaswant 'eyebrow' Singh, in his baritone voice:
Mera jaanam mera saajan mera saajan mera baalam
Mera baalam mera majnu mera majnu mera raanjha.
Tu mera jaanu hai, tu mera dilbar hai
Meri taareeqi kitaab ka tu hero hai

-His 'Hey Bhagwan! they are in fact KKK in saffron bedsheets' friends, keeping up with the tempo (they knew the song) and the lingo (they won't say it but they hate it) :

Par Bharti taareeq ke panno par
uski taqdeer toh zero hai, hoOhoooo

He would have been fine, even though he is no singing canary, still he would have been fine, but then he followed that song with an unusual little number with lines unkind even to 'Sangh Friendly' Sardar 'Iron' Patel.
They together took the whole Indian nation
Locked us on this reservation
Though I wear a shirt and tie
I'm still part redman deep inside

Indian people, Indian tribe
So proud to live, so proud to die

But maybe someday when they learn
Indian nation will return, will return, will return, will return, will return
He got booed off  the stage. Great chiefs did some chintan. Let it be said, much to their credit, there was not (and never is) any smoking involved in 'think gatherings' of these Indians. Yet, it was agreed that the 'Brow' was singing in the wrong song, he shouldn't even be in the pub. We hear the album is a bestseller.


Image: M.A. Jinnah and M.K. Gandhi after talk failure in Bombay, September 1944. Actual image comes from Patrick French's Liberty or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division. (HarperCollins, 1997)

The book offers following extract from Jinnah's famous 'secular' speech of 11 August 1947, given extempore (which in this part of the world is often considered synonymous to dilsay or direct from the heart), to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly:

"You are free, you are free to go to your temple, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State... We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed or another. We are starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State... Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State."
Sounds good. It's delicious, in the sense that only speeches and peaches are. (Only in speeches are you find such horrible wordplay). One should read that particular speech of Jinnah in all its glory.  [Read it here] Re-sample this:
You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England, conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.

Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.
Isn't that last line the actual 'working' definition of 'Secular' in India? And so, he implies, this perfect 'secular state' could not have been achieved, 'in course of time', under undivided India but could be achieved, 'in course of time', under Muslim and Hindu dominated separate lands. Guess they had discussions like these prior to agreeing on partition. It didn't get them far.

Going through Jinnah words, after all these years since partition, can certainly be confusing, at least for an Indian citizen. Here is a man who had demanded a separate nation for "100 million" Muslims, but now, in one of his finest hour in life, standing before the new rulers of his new nation, he talked  about "400 million souls" of undivided India. As his 'second point', earlier in speech, he cursed the curse of bribery and corruption put upon India. At times, it seems he was talking, in some parallel dimension, to the Indian Constituent Assembly. Change the word 'Pakistan' with 'India' and the speech is fit for Indian assembly.

About partitions, he quips, 'future history will record is verdict in favour of it.' That's the beauty of these verdicts, they never arrives till you are well gone. And then it doesn't matter all.

If anybody is to be blamed for partition, it's the good people of England. By living peacefully with their erstwhile enemies and foes, they established an extraordinarily good precedent according to this Indian leader (Can we now call Jinnah that?). He saw the problems facing India, understood them and he knew the solution:  Aadhe idhar jao, aadhe udhar jao, baki Kashmir jao. Jaswant 'eyebrow' Singh ji recognizes the genius of the old idea and simplifies it for modern times, 'Tamasha Bandh Karo, Sab apnay apnay Ghar Jao.'
Title is definitely unfair to Gandhi.

PTI pretend Ad Sense

August 27, 2009
Noticed the strangest thing at the website of India's largest News agency: Press trust of India, instead of using actual ads they are using static image captures of Google Ad. Google can't be too happy about it.

But why have those images at all?
A couple of months ago, a website developer, an acquaintance of mine, shared (inadvertently, I must say) a secret about a curious belief prevalent among some Indian website developers - Ads lend credibility to the website. So a lot of small time website owners, who can't get Adsense right away, just put up 'pretend' ads (images, even flash files) to make a website 'look good'. But why is PTI doing it? Fails me. Funny never the less!

Are you not weary of ardent ways? Women’s Song.

Are you not weary of ardent ways,
lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Your eyes have set man's heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim,
Tell no more of enchanted days.

And still you hold our longing gaze
With languorous look and lavish limb!
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
- A villanelle, a pastoral poem by James Joyce that can be found in his semi-autobiographical novel Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, first published in book form in 1916. 

(Image: Something I did to a publicity still featuring Rekha.)
(Image: An illustration by Pierre Sonnerat (1748-1814), a French naturalist and explorer. It is actually captioned 'Danse des Bayaderes' or 'Dance of Dancing girls') Found it in his book 'Journey to the East Indies and China, Undertaken at the King's Command, from 1774 until 1781: In Which the Religious Mores, Sciences, and Arts of the Indians, the Chinese, the Pegouins, and the Madegasse are Discussed.' More about the book and illustrations in a previous 'Hindu Gods' post)

Women’s Song

Our mother Nerbudda is very kind; blow, wind, we are hot with labour.

He said to the Maina: Go, carry my message to my love.

The red ants climb up the mango-tree; and the daughter follows her mother’s way.

I have no money to give her even lime and tobacco; I am poor, so how can I tell her of my love.

The boat has gone down on the flood of the Nerbudda; the fisherwoman is weeping for her husband.

She has no bangles on her arm nor necklace on her neck; she has no beauty, but seeks her lovers throughout the village.

Bread from the girdle, curry from the lota; let us go, beloved, the moon is shining.

The leaves of gram have been plucked from the plants; I think much on Dadaria, but she does not come.

The love of a stranger is as a dream; think not of him, beloved, he cannot be yours.

Twelve has struck and it is thirteen time (past the time of labour); oh, overseer, let your poor labourers go.

The betel-leaf is pressed in the mouth (and gives pleasure); attractive eyes delight the heart.

Catechu, areca and black cloves; my heart’s secret troubles me in my dreams.

The Nerbudda came and swept away the rubbish (from the works); fly away, bees, do not perch on my cloth.

The colour does not come on the wheat; her youth is passing, but she cannot yet drape her cloth on her body.

Like the sight of rain-drops splashing on the ground; so beautiful is she to look upon.

It rains and the hidden streams in the woodland are filled (and come to view); hide as long as you may, some day you must be seen.

The mahua flowers are falling from the trees on the hill; leave me your cloth so that I may know you will return.

He went to the bazār and brought back a cocoanut; it is green without, but insects are eating the core.

He went to the hill and cut strings of bamboo; you cannot drape your cloth, you have wound it round your body.

The coral necklace hangs on the peg; if you become the second wife of my husband I shall give you clothes.

She put on her clothes and went to the forest; she met her lover and said you are welcome to me.

He went to the bazār and bought potatoes; but if he had loved me he would have brought me liquor.

The fish in the river are on the look-out; the Brāhman’s daughter is bathing with her hair down.

The arhar-stumps stand in the field; I loved one of another caste, but must give him up.

He ate betel and coloured his teeth; his beloved came from without and knew him.

The ploughmen are gone to the field; my clever writer is gone to the court-house.

The Nerbudda flows like a bent bow; a beautiful youth is standing in court.

The broken areca-nuts lie in the forest; when a man comes to misfortune no one will help him.

The broken areca-nuts cannot be mended; and two hearts which are sundered cannot be joined.

Ask me for five rupees and I will give you twenty-five; but I will not give my lover for the whole world.

I will put bangles on my arm; when the other wife sees me she will die of jealousy.

Break the bangles which your husband gave you; and put others on your wrists in my name.

O my lover, give me bangles; make me armlets, for I am content with you.

My lover went to the bazār at Lakhanpur; but he has not brought me even a choli that I liked.

I had gone to the bazār and bought fish; she is so ugly that the flies would not settle on her.

-  found the song in 'The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India - Volume IV' (1916) by R.V. Russell.( Find it Here And Previously from this book, Thugs and Kali )
It's a folk song of 'Murha people (Khare Bind Kewat and Lunia or Nunia)  — a Dravidian caste of navvies and labourers' found in Jabalpur, which the 'women sing as they are carrying the basketfuls of earth or stones at their work; in the original each line consists of two parts, the last words of which sometimes rhyme with each other.'

Garage Rock in 70s to Simla Beat

Jee Haan Bhaiyo aur Behno. Beat, man, beat ...

The young at heart and the alive are in India, too. But they are their own, wild ways.In sporadic burst of enthusiasm all over the country...till 1968 when the oldest cigarette company with a young heart came along. India Tobacco Company Limited with their annual 'All-India Simla Beat Contest.'
-  'Does that make sense' words printed on the album sleeve of 'Simla Beat 70', an album that promised  a song each by The Confusions from Madras and The Dinosaurs from Bangalore.
For two years, 1970 and 1971, a cigarette company in India sponsored some kind of battle-of-the-bands competition, with the winners going to Calcutta to record for compilations called Simla Beat. Each year an lp was released with no info about the bands other than their hometown.
Discovered Simla Beat at . Do check it out to read the story of this first of its kind Indian Rock contest and to listen the awesome sounds (especially the cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Sinister Purpose by The Dinosaurs).

Thug-Feringhea and Kali-Fatima

And I thought I would never see them all covered. But here she is all dressed up and ready to kill.

The Goddess Kāli
-  found it in 'The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India' by R.V. Russell,  Vol. IV. 1916. [ at Project Gutenberg]. The accompanying passage dealing with infamous 'Thugs of India and Kali Worship' and offered an interesting 'India: A Religious Assimilation Story':
Kāli or Bhawāni was the principal deity of the Thugs, as of most of the criminal and lower castes; and those who were Muhammadans got over the difficulty of her being a Hindu goddess by pretending that Fātima, the daughter of the Prophet, was an incarnation of her. In former times they held that the goddess was accustomed to relieve them of the trouble of destroying the dead bodies by devouring them herself; but in order that they might not see her doing this she had strictly enjoined on them never to look back on leaving the site of a murder. On one occasion a novice of the fraternity disobeyed this rule and, unguardedly looking behind him, saw the goddess in the act of feasting upon a body with the half of it hanging out of her mouth. Upon this she declared that she would no longer devour those whom the Thugs slaughtered; but she agreed to present them with one of her teeth for a pickaxe, a rib for a knife and the hem of her lower garment for a noose, and ordered them for the future to cut about and bury the bodies of those whom they destroyed. As there seems reason to suppose that the goddess Kāli represents the deified tiger, on which she rides, she was eminently appropriate as the patroness of the Thugs and in the capacity of the devourer of corpses.
Bahrūpia impersonating the goddess Kāli (found in Vol. I of the book )

'Fātima, the daughter of the Prophet, as an incarnation of Kali' - that certainly caught my attention.

A couple of book searches later, I came a across an interesting conversation in book called 'Historic Incidents And Life in India' by Caleb Wright, J. A. Brainerd (1867) [Google Books].

A certain (later Colonel Sir) Captain William Sleeman, Agent of British East India Company for the Suppression of Thuggee, had this talk with some Mohammedan Thugs:

Capt. S. Has Bhowanee been any where named in the Koran?

Sahib. Nowhere.

" Here," (says Capt. Sleeman,) "a Mussulman Thug interposed, and said he thought Bhowanee, and Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed, were one and the same person; and that it was Fatima who invented the use of the roomal, to strangle the great demon Rukut- beejdana. This led to a discussion between him and some of my Mussulman native officers, who did not like to find the amiable Fatima made a goddess of Thuggee."

Capt. S.  Then has Bhowanee any thing to do with your Paradise ?

Sahib. Nothing.

Capt. S. She has no influence upon your future state?

Sahib. None.

Capt. S. Does Mohammed, your prophet, any where sanction crimes like yours; — the murder in cold blood of your fellow-creatures, for the sake of their money ?

Sahib. No.

Capt. S. Does he not say that such crimes will be punished by God in the next world ?

Sahib. Yes.

Capt. S. Then do you never feel any dread of punishment hereafter ?

Sahib. Never. We never murder unless the omens are favorable ; and we consider favorable omens as the mandates of the deity.

Capt. S. What deity ?

Sahib. Bhowanee.

Capt. S. But Bhowanee, you say, has no influence upon the welfare, or otherwise, of your soul hereafter.

Sahib. None, we believe; but she influences our fates in this world; and what she orders, in this world, we believe that God will not punish in the next.
Cornish-born William Henry Sleeman  was the magistrate in the district of Nursingpur in Central India from 1822-24. In 1828,  William Sleeman became of of the first persons to find a found dinosaur fossils in India when he dug up some at  Bara Simla Hills Jabalpur cantonment, Madhya Pradesh. He was one of the first British officer to enforce a ban on Sati pratha, in 1828, and that too without a warrant from the Supreme Government of India which later decreed the Sati practice illegal some month later. But all this did not bring him wide acclaim -  an account of his great achievement being mentioned by Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain for most) in his travel book 'More Tramps Abroad' (1880), inspiration for a character named  William Savage of Merchant Ivory film The Deceivers based on the novel of name written in 1952 by John Masters, a mention in 1984 novel adaptation of  film 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' in which the great Indiana Jones admires this man's 'courage', a village named Sleemanabad after him still exists in Madhya Pradesh. Acclaim came because he was the man who effectively put an end to the menace of Thugs, which in turn is an interesting story*:

Thug:  Whoever, at any time after the passing of this Act, shall have been habitually associated with any other or others for the purpose of committing robbery or child- stealing by means of or accompanied with murder, is a thug. 
- Section 310 in The Indian Penal Code, 1860

As late as 1810, the British had almost no idea about the extend of Thug menace and no major systematic measures were taken against them. But then that same year, some British Indian soldiers failed to return from leave, when an enquiry revealed murder by Thugs, the British woke up to the problems posed by Thugs.

In 1830, a Thagi and Dakaiti Department was set up by Lord Bentink, Governer-General in years 1828-33, with Captain William Sleeman, who in 1920s had discovered pit graves of strangled travellers, as its General Superintendent. It was an effectively run organization given the fact that even at its peak, with operations covering the wide expanse of entire British India and some princely States, it only had 18 officers. The crackdown on Thugs and a study of their secretive cult was initiated.

It's first success, capture of a infamous Thug known as 'Feringhea', 'the Thuggee chief, King of the stranglers'. He got the odd name 'Feringhea', meaning 'Foreigner', because his mother gave him birth in flight from their village as it was being burnt down by British forces.

William Sleeman achieved the almost impossible task by imprisoning the families of  thugs indefinitely.**

Feringhea could not bare to see his family suffer and gave in to Sleeman's pressure tactic. He was sent to Saugor Jail around 300 Kilometers away from Gwalior, a Jail which was to become the final resting place of many other Thugs and his companions. They all were now talking to protect their families.  But Feringhea didn't talk much. Until. Until Feringhea was told about the hanging of Thug Phoolsa's brother Jharhu at Jabalpur Jail. Jharhu was Feringhea's young nephew. Feringhea broke down. As tears rolled down Feringhea's  face, he said to Sleeman, " You ought not to have hung him; He never strangled or assisted in strangling any man!!" ***

Then followed some more shocking confessions (part of the conversation already quoted above) and the nature of their crime. They told stories about 'Evil Ghur', Jaggery that once ingested could make any man a criminal for life; they told stories about three step initiation in the world of Thugs - Going along to watch something interesting with their father, thinking it just a robbery, witnessing the actual murder; they told stories about  how some newly 'initiated' kid couldn't bear the scene and died overnight of shock, they stories of how one of the 'initiated' instead became jogee at some temple, they gruesome murder stories - murder by strangulation of entire group of travellers and murder of their wives and children; they told the story of murder of  a beautiful, rich, young Muslim maiden simply referred as 'Moghulanee' who took a fancy for young Feringhea; they told how Feringhea assisted in her murder; he claimed he didn't witness the actual act; they told stories of various Hindu and Muslim castes of Thugs and how they worked together; they occasionally did differ with each other on the subject and nature of their religion and caste; the Thugs listed the classes that they never dare target, you were safe if you were a: Dhobie or Washerman, Bhart or Bard, Sikh in Bengal (although there were not many Sikhs thus, but the investigation did throw up the name of one 'shrewd' Sikh Thug named Ram Sing Siek ), Nanuksahee or a follower of Nanak, Mudaree Fukeer , Dancing man or a boy, Musician by profession, Bhungie or sweeper, Teylie or oil vendor, Lohar (blacksmith) traveling together with with a Burha (carpenter) or Burha traveling with Lohar but no chance if you are just a Burha or Lohar traveling with fellow class people, Maimed and leprous person, a man with a cow, Brahmachari or Celibate, Kawruttie (present day Kanwaria) or Ganges water carrier, but only if your pot is not empty of Ganga water; and each one of the Thug, irrespective or their caste or religion, told them about the goddess that guided and drove them on remorselessly. Some of them did show something resembling remorse for killing women, all of them were convinced that they were in trouble with British (and the goddess) because their generation had ignored the ancient rules of their profession. And Feringhea believed their ruin started with the murder of a Muslim woman named Kalee Bebee during the time of Thug father Purusram. They talked till most of the Thugs were captured or hanged.

Their confessions lead to operations.

In five years since inception, the Department led to the conviction of over 3,000 Thugs. By 1837, some 483 Thugs had become government informers. Fearful of retribution from their former partners in crime, a special jail was built for these informers at Jabalpur in the Central Provinces.

By the end of 1863, the Thagi and Dakaiti Department had almost completely (but for some princely states) extirpated the Thugs from British India. It was later proved that around 40-50 gangs of Thugs had been at work murdering about 20-30000 people a year. One Thug even admitted to have been 'directly concerned in the murder of seven hundred and nineteen person' and claimed he would have killed more had he not been in jail for twelve years. 

Their confessions lead to books.

British in India began to suspect that they were all surrounded by thugs in India. After all Feringhea once did serve as a Jamdaar to one Sir David Ochterlony of British Army for many years. It set tongues wagging and men scurrying for pen. When the 'Thug conversations' reached British shore, the nature of  'confessions' sent shock waves of  revulsion and guilty thrill through the heart of Victorian England.

In 1839, came 'Confessions of a Thug', by Captain Philip Meadows Taylor, the first best-selling Anglo-Indian novel that formally introduced the word 'Thug' to English language. It created such a buzz (not unlike the present day Taliban buzz) that young Queen Victoria, who must have badly wanted to read it, got her privileged hands on the proof pages of the first Chapter of the book.

Liverpool born Mr. Taylor, in fact had not been greatly involved with the Thagi and Dakaiti Department and had spent most of his 'India Time' at Hyderabad in service of Nizam, but he had heard the Thug stories that were doing the round at the time and must have noticed how it thrilled the British. Once back in London, working on the novel, he based the story in Hyderabad, he fictionalized and came up with a thriller. 'Family man' Brahmin Thug Feringhea (he claimed to be a Brahmin) became cruel, lustful Muslim Thug Ameer Ali.

In the years that followed Feringhea, or parts of him, kept getting re-born in every literary Thug ever created. He was there as Farighea in Eugene Sue's Le Juif Errant ( The Wandering Jew, 1844), poisoning Indian prince Djalm, a suspected Thug (in the novel Thugs were christened  “Etrangleurs”) who thought of him as a friend. In Jules Verne's 'Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours' (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873.) dreaded Feringhea was "le chef Thugs, le rois des Etrangleurs," 'the Thuggee chief, King of the stranglers'.

Even as the world of thugs crumpled and vanished, Feringhea continued with his 'adventures' - killing unsuspecting travelers, setting up intrigues, ravaging white women, in the end getting killed by mighty law - all in the literal world, and in the process satisfying the eager curiosity of western world, a curiosity that may well have been driven by the gory image of that strange, fierce, destructive, blood drinking, dead devouring goddess - Kali. 

Again remembered at the time of Indian Partition.
TIME Magazine cover October 27 1947

Contemporary popular image of Kali

Popular face of thug in West.
Heart Clincher Head Thug Molaram played by Amrish Puri in 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' (1984)


*  Rewording the story as told in 'Intelligence and Imperial Defence: British Intelligence and the Defence of Indian Empire (1904-1924)' by Richard James Popplewell (1995), Mark Twain's 'More Tramps Abroad' (1880) and an aricle ''Imperial deceivers' by Kevin Rushby [Guardian link] writer of the book 'Children of Kali'.

**According to the 'scientific' reasoning of the time, 'Son of a thief was a thief, it's a hereditary thing'. British came up with Criminal Tribes Act,1871 and entire families belonging to 'criminal castes' and 'hijras' ( often accused of stealing and castrating children) were at time sent to prison. Some of these 'criminal caste' people, living a poor roving life in India, moving from city to city, are still seen as suspects in India every time there is a 'Kacha Banyan Gang' type incident ('Underwear-Undershirt' gang of robbers/burglars notorious for their 'Killer Streak').

*** from - "The Thugs or Phansigars of India: Comprising a History of the Rise and Progress of that Extraordinary Fraternity of Assassins And a description if the system which it pursues, and of the measures which have been adopted by the Supreme Government of India for its Suppression. Compiled from original and Authentic Documents, published by Captain W.H. Sleeman, Superintendent of Thug Police. (1839)" [Google Books Link]. The chapter about Feringhea is titled "Adventures of Feringhea".

Chairs and Legs of Perception

I was back where I had been when I was looking at the flowers-back in a world where everything shone with the Inner Light, and was infinite in its significance. The legs, for example, of that chair -- how miraculous their tubularity, how supernatural their polished smoothness! I spent several minutes -- or was it several centuries? -- not merely gazing at those bamboo legs, but actually being them -- -or rather being myself in them; or, to be still more accurate (for "I" was not involved in the case, nor in a certain sense were "they") being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the chair.
- Aldous Huxley thought this up after ingesting psychedelic Mescaline and these words found their way to his 'The Doors of Perception' (1954) whose title comes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: 

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern."

'Legs, Cards and Gun' image: Created from promotional material for "Nehle Pe Dehla" (1976) featuring Saira Banu.

Google gave me $100 Adword Coupon. Here's what I did...

Today morning, I found following surprising little message in my Google Webmaster message box:

What did I do to deserve a free coupon?
I don't know. Maybe they realized how seriously I took their product surveys. So a freebie. Interestingly, I also got my first $100 Adsense check, a check two years in the making, at the start of this month. So maybe the algo thought I was ready for the next level.

In any case, "$100 in free advertising" seemed too good to be true, I did have a 'nothing is completely free' feeling but then I now had a good reason to play around with Adword. I read in the message that there is a one time activation fee (depending on country, but usually around $ 5-10) for using the Adword services. But then the message seemed to imply that the fee is covered by the coupon money.

So I followed the instruction. Set up an Adword account. Filled in Billing details. Prepay. Entered the coupon no. Save and Done.
This was the easy bit. Next comes setting up an Ad Campaign.
The Interface of Adword actually makes setting up a campaign quite easy.It's simple, great and effective. I saw some message about billing and payment. Confusing. Ignored and went ahead.
Choose URL of targeted site (I created the campaign for my Kashmir Blog.) Picked up some (auto-generated) Keywords and selected some manually. (Because of the nature of blog, also excluded some keywords. And then chose the option that in-validates clicks from kids, actually there are many more option that you can try out based on your need). Bidding set at automated. Set maximum CPC (I set it at modest Rs. 10). Set up the daily budget (I set it to modest Rs.200). I had something over Rs.4800 to spend. These limits can be changed later based on performance. Saved. Everything done.
But the campaign went into 'suspended' mode and the interface showed a message about some billing problem. I looked in their help and support forum. But the procedure and message didn't seem clear enough. The thought of 'nothing is completely free' popped up again. This time with a greater, compelling 'I told you so' thought.

So the basic question should have been - "Does Adword Coupon cover activation charge?"

And the simple answer should have been no. Here's how it works. After you set up the account, to show your good intent, you are supposed to make a minimum payment (of Rs500 for India), an actual payment with money going to Google, even if you have the free coupon.the one time activation fee is not covered by the coupon.So until you make that payment, your Ad Campaign does not go live.

The good thing is that the procedure for payment is quite simple (in India, you can even use your Debit card if you remember the IPIN). No point in backing out now. So, I made the payment. The transaction (simple enough) took about 3-5 hours to competently reflect in the billing section. After the transaction got completely reflected in billing section,the Billing Summary showed

In credit: Rs. 4,878.50 and Rs.500.00
Activation fee: Rs. 250.00

Service tax (out of 500.00): Rs. 46.69

Balance just over Rs. 5000

and going down slowly with 'clicks' as the Ad Campaign is now on.[check cap below]

And the image ad [cap below]

I may later do a post on effectiveness of such Online Ad campaign for small community targeted blogs that just want to increase their readers base using Adwords.

Tajik Jimmy, back in the U.S.S.R. they loved India

"Goro Ki Na Kalo Ki Duniya Hain Dilwalo Ki" 
Not Whites, Not Blacks, the World belongs to those with a mighty heart.

You just witnessed a performance by Baimurat Allaberiyev, a 37-year old Tajik worker, an ex-Soviet Army man and a singing sensation in Russia, who hauls cardboard boxes in a Moscow shopping store and sometimes works at construction sites.

His performances first surfaced on Youtube in 2008 ( 4 June 2008, to be exact), most of these had him performing Bappi Lahiri's (now re-discovered) hit number “Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja” from “Disco Dancer” (1983), but always the version which starts with song "Goro Ki Na Kalo Ki". The video, probably, first captured by someone who found his entertaining and amusing, became a Youtube hit in Russia and adjoining region. Soon, people began to seek him to make more videos. He didn't seem to mind.

More videos followed. Baimurat "Tajik Jimmy" Allaberiyev, became a viral phenomena.

In April 2009, journalist Roman Gruzov, tracked him down and after witnessing a performance, flew him to St. Petersburg to open a concert by famous British electronica band, Asian Dub Foundation. [The Story in Russian Paper Bolshoi gorod (Big City) ( Google translateded link ) , Gruzov notes that in 2008, related videos for Tajik Jimmy were about attacks on Tajiks in Russia.]

Tajik Jimmy performed on stage. All he needed was a steel bucket and a live audience.

He started with "I am a disco Dancer"

and then followed up with Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja

Story of Tajik's Disco Dancer and this concert soon appeared in The St. Petersburg Times

Baimurat Allaberiyev became Jimmy while he was still in school, stuyding at some place in Tajakistan. He took on the name when people often started asking him to sing that 'Jimmy' song at weddings. And he would sing the Indian song for them. The boy voice, drum sound, synthesizer sound, some dancing and the girl voice. And then one day, many years later, entertaining one such request, he sang for someone having a mobile phone with a small camera and a small microphone.


Hanuman's Tail of Fire Vs Wall of Voodoo

This one is dark.

Video: Clippings from tele-serial Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan (1987-88)
Episode: Hanuman burning down Ravan's Lanka
Audio: Wall of Voodoo's version of 'Ring of Fire' (from self-titled EP released in 1980)

'sawan ki aayee bahaar re': Rain Song from Junoon (1978)

Most beautiful part from Shyam Benegal's Junoon (1978) - a film set around revolt of 1857, had women singing. Junoon is a violent film, other memorable scene from the film has Naseeruddin Shah killing pigeons because he is angry. Women sitting in a mango garden, woman enjoying a simple swing, woman singing about rain and love - That is the only thing spelling peace in this film about violence, which it says, has origin in human Junoon, obsession, of one kind or another. In simple words, the film is about obsessed men planning revolutions, conquests and heartbreaks, while women get by and adjust.

Here's the scene:

Composed by Vanraj Bhatia
"sawan ki aayee bahaar re'" Asha Bhosle, Varsha Bhosle
"Come live with me and be my love" sung by Jennifer Kendal

The Hindustan Times dated August 15, 1947

This is what the front page of The Hindustan Times (Delhi Edition) looked like on August 15, 1947. [Click the image to enlarge]

Things to not note:

Newspaper banner has the by line, 'largest Circulation in Northern, North-Western and Central India'

Head line, simple,  'India Independent: British Rule Ends'

Only three ads and two of them carry public message.

Ad on top left corner, 'Help the Refugees Ahuja Swadeshi Stores Chandni Chowk, Delhi.'

Ad on top right corner carries an ad for Quality Publicity Service Office Opp. British Motor Car Co. Connaught Place, New Delhi. Designers and Printers.

Somewhere on the page you will find a line, 'It was the greatest hour for Delhi.'

Cover Photograph: India's Big Three - Earl Mountbatten(new of his Earldom at the bottom), Governor-General of India, Pandit Nehru, Prime Minister, and Dr. Rajendra Prasad, president of the Constituent Assembly. 

Bottom left carries a homage to the Father of the Nation - Mahatma Gandhi.

Middle of the page carries a small Holiday Notice. So no August 16, 1947 issue of the paper.

The Pledge for constituent assembly ends with "the promotion of world peace and welfare of mankind."

The Pledge: "At this solemn moment when the people of India, through suffering and sacrifice have secured freedom, I,.......a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, do dedicate myself in all humility to the service of India and her people to the end that this ancient land attain her rightful and honoured place in the world and make her full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind."

A message from C.K.Sen & Co, Ltd. Jabakusum House, Calcutta, ends with the line "India is soon to occupy a foremost place in the comity of nations."

This front page was re-published by Hindustan Times on August 15, 1997, in the 50th year of Independent India. It was part of special Golden Jubilee celebration issue. I was young, impressionable, thought too much about the country and wanted world peace. So I saved this page.

His name Gulshan Bawra

Gulshan Bawra lyricist of 'phrase' songs like 'Yaari hai imaan mera, yaar meri zindagi' (film: Zanjeer, 1973) and 'Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle, ugle heere moti, mere desh ki dharti' (film: Upkar, 1967), on 7th August 2009, passed away at the age of 72. I called them 'phrase' songs because you can actually take snippets from these popular songs and pass them off as a heavy phrase. Come 15th August and we will again hear his Mere desh ki dharti played on TV and smelly big fish will be quoting the snippets. 
Anyway, here's more about the artist -
Born in present Pakistan, the lyricist moved to India after partition. Bawra's original name was Gulshan Kumar Mehta. There is an interesting story behind his famous name.

It was during the making of Satta Bazar that the film’s distributor Shantibhai Patel christened him ‘Bawra’. He was very impressed by his lyrics but could not reconcile their excellence to the typical young man in his twenties who wore a rather colourful shirt. He said, 'Main iska naam Gulshan Bawra rakhoonga. He looks like a 'bawra' (madman).' When the film was released in Mumbai, the posters carried just three names, those of director Ravindra Dave, composers Kalyanji Anandji, and Gulshan Bawra, though the roster of lyricists included the topmost names of that time, Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra.
from a nice obit at Hindustan Times

Blog-bazi aur Bayan-bazi

Krish Raghav of Mint got in touch with me through email. He said they are doing a feature on the 'Blog in India', critically examine the blogosphere and blogging in India, as its been exactly 10 years since the founding of the popular blogging tools of today (Blogger, Livejournal).

So, he sent me a couple of interesting questions and I tried to be coherent in my answers. It was tough to be coherent , I was facing an erratic Internet connection at the time and and an eternal Power outage, I was high on lead fumes of a buzzing inverter.[ Five minute break. Believe me, Power Outage again.] I think it may have lead me to go into Dilip Kumar of Mashaal (1984) mode, it's that 'never understood in its time' Yashraaj film in which Dilip Kumar delivered the famous heart wrenching line, 'Eh Bhai, Koi Gaadi Roko Bhai, Koi Gaadi Roko Bhai, Gaadi Roko Bhai.'

Here's the Q/A session (I have cleaned up my Answers a bit, grammar and speeling and all, but then the text is still true to the basic idea of Dilip Kumar, 'Gaadi Roko Bhai':

Q. Where do you think the future of the blog is headed in India? Has it reached an impasse, with sites like Twitter, or is it moving to a more audio-visual medium with Youtube and the rest? Or is it still going to see a spurt of growth?

I believe services like Twitter and Facebook are helping blogs too, they are working with the blogs, if you like share it around using these services. It's like that. I have a feeling that twitter in India is going through an 'Early Orkut' phase in which people are just increasing their friend list. Some of my posts have been twitted by people who had more than 500 followers and yet the post received only a dozen or so hits. Blogs will survive and continue to thrive. 'Content is the king' people keep saying it on all those 'better blogging' blogs. And I think it's true. If you have something unique...people will come. But yes, the nature of content will certainly change, maybe more videos and more of podcasts will come out from India. Maybe in half-a-decade or so, finally, we will see Indians in all those Indian News channel shows in which they show bloopers, funny cool stuff that people in west do for camera. Or may be not. A decade ago, did Indians start capturing their bloopers or cool stuff on VHS. It was a phenomenon in the west. Most of those bloopers on News Channel are from the VHS era. The shows are popular in India, but we didn't make those videos. I think there was one Indian TV show on those lines but can't even recall its name. May be it's a culture thing. The people in the west who were earlier making this cool stuff for VHS and for viewing among friends and family, now make cool videos for Youtube. They have partnership and revenue sharing deals with youtube. In India, only big video distributors have actual revenue sharing deals with Youtube. While dinosaurs are dying in west, in India they have got a new lease of life.

These things, creating original videos/podcasts are time consumers and people in India don't have time. Time is money. There has to be money in it. And there is almost none. It's almost a scandal that a popular film blog like PFC with great traffic, great following, a corporate sponsor (ndtv lumiere), revenue from Adsense and a slew of celeb bloggers (Anurag Kashyap, just to name one ) still has to rely on donation from readers to keep it going month after month. And this is a film blog, so I don't know when we will reach a stage where people donate to keep a really noble project like wikipedia running. And there's more to it that reveals an aspect of Indian blogging scene.

Q. how do you think Indian blogs stack up with, say, south east asia or the UK and US, where bloggers are almost mainstream celebrities? Why do you think blog subjects are a bit restricted here in India?
Indian bloggers still have a long way to go. Sure there are a few bloggers who are now sort of celebrities - got book deals and all. But still, in India, celebrity blogging is the big news. And that's a part of the problem and a reflection on our society. Some of the best blogs about India are run by desis, some of the best fun blogs about Bollywood are actually run by non-Indians. Some of the best followed blogs in India are by people who are in some way already writing for a living. Bright people. Where are the amateurs and the common people who have other passions? Well, people would rather spend time reading pieces written by authorities on the subject. About Bollywood, Politics, Cricket, no authority required and so they remain popular subjects in India.

Q. In a way, would you say that the Blog has been a 'success' in India? Has it been the vehicle for activism and for marginalized  voices? Or is it still early days, and therefore too early to tell? 

Concept of Blog has been a success in India in the sense that people in India take written word very seriously. So words written on blogs, as they become more visible, as they keep showing up on search result pages, Blogs too are assumed to be serious. ' People in India worship authority', it is often said and in the online world, this leads to a new kind of scenario. There are still browsers in India who don't know the difference between Websites and blogs, people who see flash based Ads on a blog and think it must be a big reliable website to be running such flashy ads (oddly enough, most people in west would probably testify that they abhor intrusive ads) and more importantly, if these people see a word is on the web, they believe it serious and these readers may applaud or throw brickbats with the same intensity. To them it doesn’t matter that the writer may just be a teenage kid living in Hoshiarpur who has no friends and maybe has read too many magazines. No, the 'analysis' has to be 'critiqued'.

It can be funny at times, I wrote a post on a campaign by Greenpeace which I was sure no one will ever read, but within minutes, it got a slew of comments lambasting Greenpeace. I was later surprised to find out that all the comments had come from a single IP address with the person commenting using different names and profiles. I had to conclude that may be this was a job by 'low cost' IT- labour hired by the big firm to fight its PR war on the web (objective: bore innocent bloggers to death with stupid comments).

Then there are people in India who still think of Wikipedia as a static encyclopedia, the final word. They don't realize that the wiki article that they are quoting may have been edited by that kid from Hoshiarpur. Interestingly, in my personal experience on Wikipedia, I have noticed that the article about even most obscure a topic, like a poet from Kashmir, has a person from west contributing to it...making it better.  on top of this, it is funny that while the neutrality of wiki article about Kashmir Conflict ( and many other India related stuff ) is perpetually in conflict, the article about Arab Israeli conflict is clean and neutral. Again it's not just a cultural thing that keeps those articles in conflict, but it's the way written word is perceived in this part of the world. A wiki article becomes a matter of war, a matter of life and death. fight for truth. And the wiki talk page for these articles end up looking like those Rediff message boards.

Similar is the case with blogs. Activism is certainly there. Too much passion. Join this campaign, join that campaign. Some real actions also. It's true that some good has come out of it, but is it the 'Seventh Estate' - the final guard? I doubt it. Is it an organic out shoot of a culture that's always looking inside and constantly working for betterment? I seriously doubt it. Had it been so, we would have seem more blogs about what real material good they are bringing to the community, and these blogs would have real followers. Is it the voice for the marginalized? Not entirely. Like with the mainstream media, blogs too are actually colored with class interest. But then a person may never say or do things that a corporate, an enterprise, a group say and do. So the ethics are a bit clearer, giving blogs a ring of earnestness. For example: during Advaniji's Adsense blitzkrieg during election, some bloggers did block his ads from displaying on their blogs, even though it was one on the best money making ads at the time. I don't think mainstream media can afford such ideas.

In the end blogs are nothing but a reflection of the neighborhood, society and country. Blogs are people in constant conversation, more often then not, with just themselves.

Image: Dilip Kumar with his Pickaxe in song 'saathi haath badhana' from color version of film 'Naya Daur' (1957).
August 11, 2009
Story is out in The Mint. It's going to be a four part series with each part looking at a different aspect of blogging.
Here's the first part of the brilliant series: Indian blogs remain mostly urban, niche
[I actually managed to have the proverbial last word in the first part :) ]

Amita Malik and Lost Archives

Amita Malik “the first lady of Indian media" was born in Guwahati to Bengali family in 1921, she joined the All India Radio as a casual staff in Lucknow in 1944 and moved to Delhi as a permanent employee in 1946.

She passed away on 22 February, 2009 at the age of 87. It was passing of an era.

For six decades, at one time or another she wrote about Cinema for The Statesman, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express and more recently, Pioneer and Tribune.
And for television: 

She worked with stalwarts like Melville de Mellow and A.S. Bokhari and interviewed people such as Satyajit Ray, Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, John Masters, David Niven and Alfred Hitchcock. Malik’s work in both AIR and Doordarshan comprise important chapters in the history of Indian broadcasting. Sadly, many of these are now missing. Typically, Doordarshan managed to erase the recording of Amita’s joint interview with Satyajit Ray and Marlon Brando and her interview with the ‘father of the documentary’ John Grierson, who founded the National Film Board of Canada. A similar fate met the 1975 roundtable discussion she had with Elia Kazan, Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray and Michelangelo Antonioni. This ‘lost archive’ would have been a treasure anywhere in the world.
[- Hindustan Times Story on Amita Malik ]

Amita Malik brought up the subject of loss these precious archives into public after the death of Marlon Brando in 2004. In a piece for The Tribune (dated July 10, 2004) she wrote:
 When I heard of the death of Marlon Brando, my mind went back to the priceless conversation I had anchored between Satyajit Ray and Marlon Brando in 1967, when Brando came to Delhi as ambassador for UNICEF. Doordarshan was the only TV channel at the time, and after re-telecasting it a few times, it just lost the tape. They could not tell if they had erased or lost it. Appeals to several I &B Ministers and those under them led nowhere. That classic conversation between two giants of the cinema was lost forever. The same is the fate of a panel discussion I anchored with Kurosawa, Ray, Antonioni and Elia Kazan. The BBC had originally asked for it, but being patriotic, I gave preference to DD and paid for it. That classic too is lost forever.

Only if she had been a bit unpatriotic, maybe..what a loss!

  • Amita Malik
Caps from the lost archive -
  • Amita Malik in1975 round table discussion with Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni and Elia Kazan.
  • Satyajit Ray and Marlon Brando with Amita Malik in 1967
 The images are from Amita Malik's autobiography 'Amita, No Holds Barred' [ HarperCollins, Rs 295]. A treasure in itself!
 [An extract from the book at Outlook|: she recalls an incident, during Indira Gandhi times in which she crossed swords on subject of caste with famous Mark Tully of BBC ]


For one thing, things like these may never be lost thanks to the 'free culture' of today.

Anyway, Doordarshan is now trying to make up and is digitalizing its huge archives [HT Story]. Some of these archived programs, mostly on classical music, can now be seen  late night on DD Bharati channel. Or watch those rare NFDC films on Lok Sabha TV channel.


At the Edge of Psychology by Ashis Nandy, Cover

I have already added this cover of 1990 Oxford University Press edition of Ashis Nandy's 'At the Edge of Psychology: Essays in Politics and Culture' to Librarything and posted some extracts from this rare by important book by Ashis Nandy [Nathuram,Sati,Gandhi].

The book first published in 1980 (in the 1990 edition, author acknowledge that some of  ideas may be redundant. But it's for the keen reader to identify those rusty bit ) can be found in Ashis Nandy's 'Exiled At Home' that also includes his works: 'The Intimate Enemy' and 'Creating a Nationality'.

I first read the book a couple of years ago, stole it from a cousin and never gave it back. I had never read something like this till then. I quite liked it.

But the real reason for this post is that I just wanted to share the beautiful cover of this book. It's is by Meera Dyal Deshaprabhu.

A quick search found me another wonderful cover art by the artist:

'Science, hegemony and violence: A Requiem for Modernity', edited by Ashis Nandy


Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Cartoon, 1945

"Weapons are like money; no one knows the meaning of enough."
- Introduction: Thinkability, Einstein's Monsters by Martin Amis

Cartoon by famous Indian cartoonist of the time - Shankar, published in Hindustan Times dated September 11, 1945. [Found in a special issue of HT dated July 11, 2009 with the caption: This cartoon portrays the devastation caused by the bomb and America's bewilderment at Japanese reaction. They perhaps expected the Japanese to be grateful for freeing them of one of the Axis powers.]
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks near the end of World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States at the executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively.
More about at Wikipedia

...heaven look like Zeenat Aman

Will Muhammad look like Amitabh
or will heaven look like Zeenat Aman?

- Last lines from the poem 'Will Heaven look like Zeenat Aman?' by Bushra Rehman. [You can read it at her website]

Image: Something I did to a publicity still from the film 'Pukar' (1983) starring Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman. It's that sea bather's song from the film.

And yes, some Zeenat Aman (and other philum) paintings by Chitra Ganesh.
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. If you choose to use this or any part of this post on your site please link back to this page.


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