Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

be glamouress

1983
but don't think of visiting Kashmir wearing that.

previously

Calcutta built partly on lottery funds

1984
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Dinkar's private war on China

A note on one of the most violent modern Hindi poems.One more reason to hate wars. It makes old people blood thirsty.

"From 22nd December 1962, the composition of the poem called Parshuram ki Pratiksha started and it was completed on 7th January 1963. Stirred by the Chinese invasion, he wrote several poems, but in this poem the anger of the whole country was articulated. By 25th December, 1962 most of the passages had been written. When his friend Manoranjan Prasad Sinha heard them, he thought that the poet was showing arrogance. But Dinkar was not at all receptive to such a comment. He wrote in his diary,

Sivaji Ganesan in Ratha Thilagam, 1963.
The Tamil China War movie.
The poem has burst out from the abstruse part of the situation; it has emerged from its basic centre. If one is face to face with the centre, it becomes clear that a grave mistake has been committed.

Those days he sat on the third floor of his house on Arya Samaj road at Patna, shed tears and kept writing. his limbs trembled, every pore of his body stood on end. On 28th December, some portions of the poem were broadcast from Aakashwani, Patna. When the Director of Bhartiya Jnanpith, Lakshmi Chand Jain, heard this poem, he told the poet, if he expurged the line, Chhagiyon karo ab abhyas rakt peene ko (Lambs, cultivate the habit of drinking blood), it would be better. You may have to repent later for this.' Dinkar replied, 'This line is wonderful. It will in future spread the news that once India was in such a rage that one of its poets was not ashamed of writing a monstrous line like this."

~ from 'Ramdhari Singh Dinkar: Makers of Indian Literature', Sahitya Akademi.

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Also, as an experiment in hypertextuality, let me introduce an old Dinkar to present Kashmir just for the fun of it.

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Jala Do Isey, Phoonk Dalo


Above: A Dussehra ad supposedly for TOI.  I don't know if it was published on not, if it was just something that some ad maker came up with and the paper never used.  But it somehow reached my Facebook wall.
Below: Ravan I shot at Ghaziabad. 2010.

I feel like collecting TOI issues from my neighbors, make a little Ravan out of them and set it on fire. Only the thought of global warming is keeping me from doing it. Why can't they just ask before using? And why can't they just use some photograph from their own collection? Are they like 12 year old school kids relying on Google to compete their summer holiday projects?

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Khyber Pass

From title credits of Carry On film, released in 1968


Life Magazine 12 May, 1941

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Google Play blues of Indian Developer. Are Over!


[Update: Oct 19, 2012
India is now included in the Google Play Developer merchants list. Which means you can now sell app on Google Play's vast android market while developing the app in India. So the blues are hopefully over! This post is now a log of milestones in the development cycle of the game that I am working on. Hopefully, it will be of help to someone in future.]


[This a rant. And only meant for tech geeks, And maybe for people who wonder if my job isn't making me mad. Well it is. And it is making me hell mad! And yet I blog...]

I have spent last three years developing/designing MMORPG games for social networks. And right here in India. It was a small game development company. One of the games I worked on had millions of installs on two different social network portals (targeting two different demographics, US and Netherlands). It was a simple mafia based game. This was a time when Myspace was in. Then Facebook became the in-thing. So I worked on two city building games for Facebook.  Not a great success in term of numbers but good enough to get a favorable industry review and first of its kind made entirely in India. But maybe not enough to take on big developers outside of India. After a long cycle that involved talks with various investors about acquisition, the studio closed operations with all apps on auto-run mode. Most of the investors seemed more into e-commerce which seems to be the in-thing right now for them. And investors who would be looking to invest in games, actually knew very little about games.

But since games are all I know, when a friends [coding genius, Jim Jose and designer Ratnesh] suggested that instead of looking for a job would I be interested in helping him make a game, I jumped right in. Smart phones are the in-thing. Right. So after a couple of hard long months, we made a mafia themed MMORPG game that will run on Android, an app that talks with Facebook, will run on Chrome Store, run on a standalone site for mobile browsers and on IOS. We released a Beta on Google Play around a month back, got around a thousand installs, and some nice feedbacks. Fixed bugs and added features. Yesterday, we released a live version it on Google Play. Discussed plans on India themed MMORPG. All nice and good.

Today we realized that in our development frenzy we missed one big hole in our venture. A bloody black hole at that.

After talking to someone from investment tribe, we realized,  if you are in India you can pay to download paid apps, you can certainly pay a developer fee to develop apps in India but you just can't develop paid apps or make apps in which people would be making in-game purchases.

For receiving payments you need a developer account with Google Wallet tied to a bank account. This bank account can be only from specific 31 countries and India is not one of them. Now, as a work around you may tie your Wallet to an off-shore bank, but later you will not be able to change to an Indian Bank if in future Google Wallet for developers starts supporting Indian Banks.

The scale of the joke gets bigger. Recently, people noticed Google had quietly added India to the list of supported nations. Indian developers were virtually dancing with joy. Later, it turned out it was just an error on part of Google. A galti say mistake ho gaya. India is still on hold indefinitely.

So know you know why a lot of Indian coders stick to safety of outsourcing jobs while our government saintly says Bacha apnay paer par khaday ho jao, why Indians remain massively just consumers and not producers, why Indians opening Google Play market in their phones mostly see ad cluttered 'XXX Stories' and 'Bhagwan Bhajans' as top India centric apps even though Indian can be seems massively commenting and rating all kind of games.

Anyway, it's a good thing we aren't focusing on Android alone. We have a long way round around using Facebook credits as our game offers a Unified gaming experience, a single game running on various platforms, which means if a player purchases in-game currency on Facebook version of the game and later open the game in Android version, he will see his currency. It's a Jugaad. But hey, we remain a Jugaadu country.

For people interested in checking out the game, here's the download link for Google Play: http://goo.gl/rzHqS
 QR Code:



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[next post is going to be something I would have normally posted instead of this. And that's the way I have been running my blogs.]
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Update: Oct 5, 2012
Now available on Chrome Store too. Here

and on website

Update: Oct 10, 2012
Now available on Amazon App Store for Android too

Update: Oct 13, 2012
App submitted to Apple for approval. The mail say's we will hear back from them in 24 hrs. But the internet say's it may take weeks to get the approval.

Update: Oct 16, 2012
What a day for Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai! Since morning the game was seeing an abnormally high downloads. But we could also see that the bulk of them were not coming from Google Play as users were downloading an older version apk. And we had no clue where they were coming from (as till now we were only relying on stats provided by Google Play). After scratching our heads for sometime we used old reliable techniques like image based web counters to realize these users were coming from China. After some more hours of searching we entered the vast hidden world of Chinese Game market where they directly send out apks to the users. Some Chinese app listing site had listed our game, sending us lot's of free downloads. That tells us about the tremendous rate at which mobile games are consumed in China. 

Too bad these are Chinese users, as thanks to language barriers the actual conversion rate of these users isn't  very high.

And yes, we did experiment with Google's Mob Ad, running a campaign for a week. Not very good. Although the impression rate and reach is very high at only 0.1 cents but the actual user install costs something like 1.25 Dollars. Also, the first time we submitted the app Ad, it got rejected for using word 'Kill'. That's reminds me the app got an 'Adult' rating on Amazon for reference to smoking  and stuff. But it is now available no Amazon Kindle devices too.

Update: Oct 19, 2012
Think the blues are finally over! India is  now in Google Play Developer merchants list! Think we launched the game at perfect time

Update: Oct 24, 2012
The game went live on IOS. [here]. It took about two weeks for the approval to come through. The rate at which people found the game in apple store was almost double of Google Play. Probably they have some listing of recently released apps. Also, the rating system in Apple Store is different than Google play as here the ratings are country specific.

Update: Oct 31, 2012
Released in-app purchase in Google Play. Got our first paying customer.

Update: Nov 6, 2012
Saw a drastic reduction in daily number of people installing the game through Google Play. It turns out that this is common after a game competes one month. Maybe the game stops getting feature in some "new" listing. But the good thing was the actual number of people converting was way better. So the game was now reaching out to more interested players possibly through 'related apps'.

Update: Nov 14, 2012
Saw a sudden drastic spike in number of people of installing the app on Google Play (almost 10 times rise). Turns out most of this traffic is coming in from Brazil. Must have hit some kind of feature list there. Although we are getting some great increase in total install count, but the conversion isn't very good (language problems as most of these player are speaking Portuguese). Also, some of the reviews (from around 150 it went down to about 130) just disappeared, may be google put in a check to see if the reviews are coming from the same device.



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Update : January 19, 2013
Broke into a top grossing list on Google Play Market.
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Update: March 21, 2013

Company got formally registered.

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Update: July 12, 2013

Launched another game using same platform.

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Update: Jan 5, 2014

Launched another game a couple of months ago. That too is in the 'top grossing list' for Android US.
Ranks for the first game are still holding. Did transactions worth about $25000 on a single day around Christmas.

It's almost a year. We have around a million installs in Android + IOS. And we did business (pre-cuts) worth 1 Million Dollars on Android+IOS+Facebook.

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Update: March 21, 2014
Completed 1 year. Did transactions worth about $32000 on a single day around St.patrick's day.

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Mausiji had a little Chomen


Leela Mishra in Sai Paranjape's Chashme Buddoor (1981).

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Not often remembered fact about this film is that the main motif of this more than thirty year old Delhi based funny film made by a woman was violence against women. I believe the reason for that could be that for a certain generation, driven by nostalgia, "the Room" and the life of its occupants defines a certain era, a certain phase in life. While a lot may have changed since then, but if walk on this city's streets now, you can see how the Delhi motif still persists.

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College ka chakkar


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video link
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This is India on Europe

Not from wet dream of ultra-nationalist Indians and indo-pak peaceniks
From 'This is India' by Peter Muir. Maps by Frances Muir.1943. It's a funny little book [read here], sample this from a chapter titled Gandhiana:

"If Gandhi were on trail and under oath, he would unquestionably stick to what he believed to be the truth, but his technique of circumlocution, indirection, and irresponsible self-contradiction gives the impression that evasion, not clarification, is his aim.There is no necessity to interpret the language of Rajagopalachari, whose vocabulary in English is no larger that Gandhi's. But few Indians, even, would volunteer to translate the meaning of Gandhi's utterances, his style is so successfully abstruse."

While in a chapter on Jinnah titled 'Mr.Jinnah rolls up a Rug' Peter Muir say's had Jinnah been head of a Christian organisation, he would have been named Jesus Christ Jones. Actually the chapter is a take on caste politics of Hindus, the title itself alludes to an incident narrated by Jinnah in which a Hindu friend of his, a high ranking Congress man, wouldn't break bread with him as it would 'corrupt' him. To prevent corruption while eating, a solution is reached by rolling the rug so that the Hindu is sitting on the ground while rest of the people eat sitting on the rug. Also, in the same chapter we read Jinnah, being a democratic Muslim much like good Christians had no such inhibitions towards 'untouchables'. In fact, in his palatial house in Bombay he had five untouchables working for him as, in his own words, 'They make first-class servants.'

What was that Chinese curse about living in stupid times. Also, it is true that British thought of dismantling Taj Mahal for its Marble. The only thing that stopped them was that marble market was in a slump at the time and the monument was so colossal that even the cost of dismantling would not have been covered by the sale.

Anyway, here's a map of old Delhi.
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Another one.
Europe inside India

From Our India (1940) by Minoo Masani.

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From India to the Planet Mars



"It is understood, too, that while Hélène's subliminal self can safely give itself up to the creation of a definite language in the freedom which the planet Mars affords, where there is no pre-existing system to be conformed to nor any objective control to fear, it would be very imprudent and absurd to repeat the process in connection with India: the few words of pure Sanscrit which were at its disposal kept it from inventing others, the falseness of which would be evident at the first attempt at a literal and verbatim translation. It, therefore, contented itself with these veridical elements, insufficient in themselves alone for the construction of complete sentences, being a jargon devoid of meaning, but in harmony through their dominant vowels with the authentic fragments."

~ 'From India to the planet Mars; a study of a case of somnambulism with glossolalia' by Th. Flournoy. Tr. by Daniel B. Vermilye, 1901. 

Stages in Life of a Gandhi Photograph


Photograph by great Brian Brake published in 'India, by Joe David Brown and the editors of Life', 1961 [complete book available at Hathi] as a visual aid to the text that deals with relevance of Gandhi in India, The Nation's Unsilenced Conscience. It would have you believe Gandhi was alive, in heart and spirit of Indians.

As I looked at this beautiful picture, something about it made me realize that this can be a case study about  disjointedness of images, context and text. About giant sweeps of history. Of loss of footnotes. Of lost in footnotes. Of seduction by images. About loss.

One may ask why. After all it does look like a perfect picture for an article on Gandhi. Children = innocence = unsilenced Conscience. Children in love with Gandhi = The Nations's un-silenced conscience. Simple and brilliant.

The problem is with the details. The book only tells you that it is by Brian Brake and appears courtesy of Magnum. Place where is was taken in not mentioned. No year is given. Online, the only other place where you will find this image (besides the online version of the book) is an Arabic page dedicated with love to Gandhi, his life and work. This, as often happens, after I post stuff at this blog, will not be the case for long. It will probably end up on Gandhi Love or Gandhi Hate pages on Facebook, adding a new cycle to the life of this image. And will probably be again lost in indifference of text and context.

So what is it that I know about this photograph that makes this entire setup ironic. What is it about this setup that makes me often doubt everything I read and see. Why do I want to try and rescue it from the narrative in which it is wrapped?

The little girl in green at the back is attired as an elderly traditional Kashmiri Pandit woman.

The photograph was shot in 1957 during a 'national' day, an Indian one, with cultural parade and all, organised under Prime Minsiter of Kashmir, Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammed in Srinagar. He was the man who replaced imprisoned Sheikh Abdullah.

Another photograph from the event shot by Brian brake.
Via: Museum of New Zealand
Although I couldn't find the Gandhi photograph there, but the conclusion
that both very shot as the same event is quite easy to make based on the dress that children are wearing in the background.
"The close alignment of the Conference with the politics of the Congress was particularly distasteful to Bazaz. Bazaz had been moving away from Gandhian and eventually Congress politics throughout the 1930s. He had been taken aback by Gandhi's dismissive reply to his letter asking for advice on the path Kashmiri Pandits should follow in the political movement in Kashmir: "Seeing that Kashmir is predominantly Mussalman it is bound one day to become a Mussalman State. A Hindu prince can therefore only rule by non ruling i.e., by allowing the Mussalmans to do as they like and by abdicating when they are manifestly going wrong.""


Lines about strange case of Prem Nath Bazaz From 'Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir' by Chitralekha Zutshi. Prem Nath Bazaz was later exiled from Kashmir (after differences with Sheikh Abdullah) to Delhi and spent his later life advocating Kashmir's merger with Pakistan.

Looking now at the grand narratives of the national myths of India, Pakistan and Kashmir, and looking at the realities as they often dwell on hard ground where these myths crumble into incoherent bits and pieces, one does tend to agree, history is a nightmare. And that there is no waking up from it. For it is a nightmare within a nightmare. It is narratives ingesting narratives, facts ingesting fiction, fiction vomiting facts.  An on top of it, it is always a book with a beautiful cover.
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A panel from an old Indian comic based on story of Rupinika, from Somadeva's Katha Sarit Sagara (The Ocean of Streams of Story)

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Finally cross-posted to my Kashmir blog.
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