Tuesday, November 09, 2004

disclaimer dept.

Udayan Shinde may have been accused of being a nihilist. The allegations are flying thick and fast but the reports have not received official confirmation.

This in spite of my last blog entry about him.

Until then I can only preemptively put out this in his defense -- in his own words:

There is a mind-boggling array of belief systems in the market, out there. Try any one of them. If one works for you, fine, great, wonderful. But do not at any point have the temerity to think that what you subscribe to is the absolute truth. There are no absolutes. Only approximations to the truth. We accept them because they satisfy certain aesthetical constraints hard-wired into our brains (or deep-programmed by our environment).

Ideally, one should accept the belief system which can do most to better one's lot in the human social hierarchy, and of course, feels good in the bargain.
life-in-the-truck-lane dept.

Those were simpler times. The trucks were Tata or Ashok Leyland, the cars were Premier Padminis or Ambassadors (in about '84, also Marutis -- for a brief period Dolphins and Standard 2000's) or Mahindra Jeeps.

The roads were rough and two-laned, Television was only one channel (two if you lived in one of the four metros) -- evenings were black and white on the regional broadcast, colour on the national service (which began at 9:00pm).

The news was a brief capsule of Ministers cutting red-ribbons on dams, hydel power stations and sahitya sammelans (here they only lighted lamps, and got some footage on the podium, babbling continuously with the sound turned off). When they went off, on came Rajiv Gandhi, reading from a script, "Humein Dekhna Hai...".

Friday nights meant NDTV's The World This Week hosted by Prannoy Roy. And after hearing about Ronald Reagan being shot, and Israel decimating Lebanon, the family would collectively sigh, "Thank God we're Indian".

Election nights meant analysis by Prannoy Roy and Vinod Dua with an old classic thrown in for good measure. V.P. Singh won once (I wanted him to win, he looked like such a righteous old chap), and prattled on about Mandal this, Mandal that.

Ice cream meant a choice between Kwality and Jumbo or Joy (Later on, Dinshaw's added itself to the list), eventually all succumbing to Vadilal. Soft drinks meant ThumsUp or GoldSpot (with the occasional horror experience of RimZim and Campa Cola).

Playing Pakistan meant being whipped by Imran or Javed or both.

The monotony of school and play was punctuated once a year by the local jatra, where we would buy dumroos, tin motor-boats fueled by miniature oil-lamps, a wooden talwaar-dhaal set, and feathered paper caps that smelt really bad (like a chicken coop to be precise).

Indira Gandhi was shot by her bodyguards. I was at home, at the dining table, eating dahi-bhaat when I heard the news.

The only things worth holding on to from those times were the comics.

Vishal Patel writes about this and more here. 'Uproariously funny', is the verdict.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

lounge-lizards dept.

Udayan Shinde has already found a mention on this blog. Publishing here, some very cryptic paragraphs I found in a text-file on his computer.
There is something subtly intoxicating about five-star hotel lounges. Yet when I find myself in one of them, being there sends me into an endless reverie. Maybe its the shiny gloss on the furniture, the people (important-looking, always) huddled in clusters talking in low, hushed tones. Or the pithy words on the coaster: "Culture is the attainment of perfection", and the like. Or the persistently floating, understated, yet inescapable aroma wafting around the hallways (in spite of all the cigarette smoke).

Maybe its a state of mind induced in a person of humble economic origins on confronting the ritualized life of those higher up in the economic pyramid. I think such an environment foists introspection on the thinking mind, while on others, it enforces a sense of general well-being, akin to an endless free-fall. Perhaps, using phrases like 'humble' and 'thinking mind' is only conceit -- after all, we are all sentient beings, and the environment into which we are born or led into is, arguably, predestined. It is, of course, quite possible that beneath the frothy layers of projected well-being, there is foment -- each pair of eyes, constantly scanning, evaluating, planning, understanding (or trying to understand).