Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!


from 1970

Happy Birthday, Mr. Prime Minister

Pandit Nehru on his Birthday in U.S.A. , 1961
At a children's gathering in Bombay, 1954
Showing his skill with cane at a performance by traditional swordsmen
Carrying a Samurai Sword. Visit to a Japanese Film Studio, 1957 

Squatting on the threshold to the Banteay Srei temple in Indo-China, 1954

Dancing Gandhi

I design games for social networks. The statement basically means I spend an indecent amount of time on Facebook. To be able to work I haven't added too many people as friend and as a precaution I have blocked a lot of incoming distractions that are often likely to appear on one's Wall in form of timepass like this :

Mahatama Steps Out of character of Gandhi
This supposed image of Gandhi dancing with some white woman travelled from hate groups (Anti-Gandhi to Anti-India) with comments about 'Mastikhor Ayyash Gandhi' to liberal groups with 'O! he could dance!' remarks. The basically ended up going viral. If it managed to reach my high wall, it must be really viral, that's my rule.
It took me one google image search query to find that the image is actually of an Australian artist impersonating Gandhi for some charity event held in Sydney for India back in those days.


mufat may toh koi gaali bhi nahi deta!

This is not a post about how my content recently got leeched by The Man, instead this is about various ways in which my content, collected from various sources, recently got served and re-used, for various purposes, by other people. It is also about how I came to know about these usages and why I think Indian webspace is just too small and flat and almost too uncultivated.

Instance 1: ludicrous

A friend and a former colleague of mine who works for Hindustan Times Media group owned DesiMartini walks into his office one day and finds these giant hoardings of a collage of Hindi movie posters laying around. Something about the image strikes him as familiar. He thinks he has seen it somewhere. So after watching it for a couple of days, one fine evening he calls me up to tell me, 'This might interest you...'

We had a good laugh when he told me the issue.

The original collage is based on the song  'mere jeevan saathi' from the movie Ek Duje Ke Liye. I made that collage just for fun way back in 2007 collecting the posters using simple google image search and putting them together using Picasa (I originally intended to sequence the posters in the order in which they appear in the song, but back then Picasa offered limited capability). It must have taken me a day to put it together.

I have no idea what the HT guys used it for but in its giant printed avatar it certainly looks impressive. I just wish I could see the complete hoarding.

Instance 2: brazen

Kashmir was probably one of the most photographed 'exotic' places in the world in 18th and 19th century (probably still is). and yet until a few years ago most people hadn't seen these old images of Kashmir. The few that were circulating online were mostly available thanks to British Library. I got tired of them and curious.

For last three years I have been collecting vintage photographs of Kashmir and posting them to my Kashmir Blog. I have been adding notes about the places, people, photographers, years in which they were taken and also about how they were used in various books. I have been collecting them from various sources but primarily from various rare books available for free on I have also been posting rare documents and photographs of various artifacts from private collection of a couple of generous readers. At the start of this year I finally started seeing those images appear on wall posts of Facebook people and I saw people discussing them with a deep sense of nostalgia. People offered more information about the images and updated the posts accordingly. All the night spend in the exercise: worth it. I think I will keep on going.

A couple of months back thanks to Facebook I realized that most of these photographs (including the stuff from private collections) have been recently used by an online Kashmiri News portal called Kashmir Dispatch to create a 'one-top' gallery [ ] for vintage Kashmir images  which they claim to have gathered from 'various sources'. Not a word of thank, not a single descriptive note about the photographs. Pointless.

My pointed response: a pointless late night post titled 'Politics of Information'.

Instance 3: subtle

A couple of weeks back I got an email from Gulshan Books [], a publisher based in Srinagar, Kashmir. They wanted to send me their catalogue. I told them I would be more than happy to share it around with my readers. In the next mail they ask me for my address and praising my Kashmir blog promise to send me two books as a token of appreciation. I was more than happy.

This week, in office, I received a package addressed to 'Chairman Search Kashmir'. People in office had a good laugh about it. 'What's the Deal Bhai! Bum hai Kya! Kaha ka chief hai bhai!'Later at my place as I go through their catalogue I am pleasantly surprised to see the pages embellished with photographs of Kashmir (at least one of them, my own click) that I have been posting to my blog. Worth it.

from my review of First Kashmiri Film Mainz Raat (1964).
The actress is Krishna Wali. 

The catalogue now offers me names of some more rare and interesting books on Kashmir to hunt for. Also the two books (having a combined hefty price of $50 that had me wondering how would a common man afford them) that they sent me - 'Kashmiriyat through the ages' Edited by Prof. Fida Mohammad Hassanain and 'Srinagar: My City My Dream' by Zahid G. Muhammad - are turning out to be engrossing reads that are going to provide ideas for my blog. Certainly worth it.

I wrote back to thank them and to tell them that I am no chairman of anything. I told them that I am just a log keeper and that I was eight years old when my family had to move out of Kashmir.


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