Happy Birthday, Mr. President

That’s what I like about life. The unplanned. I just came upon this clip. Reminded me of what someone had once written to me…

I don’t know you, but I just found you, just like that. Not that I was looking, you know how it is, you aren’t really looking, but then you find something. You don’t know what it is, but you like what you just found…

What I found is a precious piece of memorabilia because one has heard so much about it – the breathless tone, the beginning of something…beginnings are nice.

Yes, it is fraught with so many risks, but as JFK once said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”

We get stuck in grooves. To which I again quote him, “The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is unchangeable or certain.”

So, here is Marilyn Monroe singing for John F Kennedy…"Happy Birthday, Mr. President”

Quote uncoat - 12

“…and you are a frustrated fart as well”

Much as I’d like to accept the compliment (this comment has been posted in response to my views on someone going all sugar and marshmallow on Amitabh Bachchan), I do have a problem with the inherent dispute between the two terms.

To fart is to break wind, which conveys release; by that token, it is a successful attempt. Frustration is to hold back or be denied; whatever has been attempted is thwarted. Therefore, technically, you cannot be both.

Even metaphorically the image it conjures up does not work. Like a still windmill, it is pretty harmless.

However, since somebody has taken the trouble to pen his thoughts in a flush, I shall happily send across this:

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Regarding Mr. Bachchan, I have already said I do not agree with Raj Thackeray’s point of view about immigrants. But on the MNS assertion that he has done little for Mumbai, Mr. B comes up with a ridiculous one:

“I do not hold any public office, I am not a minister, not a government servant. You cannot question me...I am not answerable to anybody.”

What does this mean? A minister or a government servant has equal right to stay in another city. And as a celebrity who uses public space, who is the ambassador of Uttar Pradesh, whose wife is a Rajya Sabha member, he is answerable.

As a public figure, he is being asked why he is doing more for the place of his origin rather than the city that gave him so much. It is a fair query. Just being a legend is not enough.


The Deceivers

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!

Sir Walter Scott
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Image of top panel of my montage is a portion of Gustav Klimt's The Kiss.


Why open Antony & Cleopatra’s tomb?

Rome:Archaeologists are set to test the theory about whether or not Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony are buried together by opening their 2,000-year-old tomb later this year. The remains of Cleopatra and Antony are said to be inside a temple called Tabusiris Magna, which lies 30km from the port city of Alexandria in northern Egypt.

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I would prefer they did not conduct any such tests. I like my fiction. I like the story of power, of love, of destruction, of defeat, of deceit…and then a greater love…

Cleopatra: If it be love indeed, tell me how much.

Mark Antony: There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.

Cleopatra: I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

Mark Antony: Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

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Quotes: From Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.

Image: From the film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar.


Master Madan...Ji mein aata hai yaheen mar jaaiye

He recorded eight songs of which only two are available. He died at 14.

Such power and ease. Listen to him intone, “Tum ne bana diya hai kya mohabbat mein mujhe…”. Such longing, the tadap and complete control over loss, if I may say so, has rarely been expressed so effectively.

I get gooseflesh everytime I hear these and yet they uplift the soul…the way sharing one’s innermost turmoils with someone close can.

Yun Na Reh Reh Kar

Hairat Se Tak Raha Hai Zamana


Should Amitabh Bachchan retire?

...Who cares? But it is fun watching the slaves...

Okay, so Anurag Basu (Life in a Metro) a film director says it is time for Amitabh Bachchan to retire. I get to read a hilarious rejoinder by another film director, R. Balki (Cheeni Kum).

For his views in full and my comments look here.

Dis n dat

Sarabjit may not be hanged – and we all knew it.

If indications given by Pakistan’s ex-human rights minister Ansar Burney are anything to go by, there is a strong possibility that Pakistan would commute the convicts’ capital punishment into life term.

“I have come to know from top political sources of Pakistan that the death sentences of all convicts could be commuted to life imprisonment,’’ said Burney, while talking to TOI over phone from Karachi on Friday. However, he refused to disclose his sources.

This is a good move, simply because I am not for capital punishment. But think about it: It means that Sarabjit has not proved to be innocent. Then, what happens to his family that got the visa to appeal for clemency? He is still a criminal, and Pakistan has virtually sponsored and pampered the family of a criminal. What does this mean?

I have already shown the loopholes in the Sarabjit case and am not moving an inch on it. I am glad though to see his daughters and wife; his sister was hogging (and continues to do so) the limelight, including that huge suicide drama after all these years.

The problem is that everyone, including the ‘humane’ Mr. Burney is caught in the drama after Kashmir Singh admitted to being an Indian spy. Both the countries are looking foolish. I hope Kashmir Singh does twist a few more tails.

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I wanted to watch Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? It does not matter that it is a rip-off of the American reality game show. Nothing could keep me riveted. The contestant seemed to have been told to behave like an airhead and she kept making faces like a schoolgirl. She was a PhD, incidentally, who took several minutes to give the answer for the largest planet.

The kids are smart, and smarmy. I wanted to smack them across the cheek. What is being proved here? That children are intelligent and we cannot take knowledge for granted?

Fine. If the kids are so bright then they should refuse to become little lambs and follow their parents’ advice and participate in game shows, to begin with. This is all about money and these children too are learning that knowledge can get you big bucks. It isn’t knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

And the Help segment is called ‘cheats’. What does this mean? Again it is legitimate. Oh sure, the adult participant has to tell us that they are cheating. This is so very juvenile.

As regards, the anchor, Shahrukh Khan, I must say he is not going over-the-top, just yet. But, but…one day he will.

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When I wrote about the IPL, I did not anticipate that there would be protests about the cheer leaders. Mine was and is not a moral position. Anyway, it is fun to watch the TV channels. The usual suspects. Ad man Alyque Padamsee drawling like he is going to stretch a vowel forever holding forth on how this is all about entertainment; Mandira Bedi behaving like she is the only woman in the country who understands cricket; she makes it a point to wear low-cut clothes to show empathy with the cheer-leaders. I saw this hilarious picture of cheer-leaders practising on the pitch!

The cricketers are truly feeling left out. I had posted an update on how they are being treated. No wonder Harbhajan tries some tame dishum-dishum with Sreesanth, who should really hurry and get the hell out of the game and start shooting for that Telugu film in which he is to play the hero opposite four women. (I even read a report that says Bollywood’s loss is their gain!) He was always a good one for playing to the gallery with his impromptu dancing on the field; now there are tears too…

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Wear your bum-wiper!

A model displays a creation made of toilet paper and paper towels during a fashion show organized by a paper company in Lima


Media stunts: IPL, Marriage, Bachchans...

...all commodities!

A few days ago there was a story about Malaika and Arbaaz’s marriage going ‘kaput’ and Arbaaz wanting to remarry. Who they? Okay, Arbaaz is Salman Khan’s brother and has done some forgettable films; Malaika’s contribution to urban Indian society is that she is hot. She works at it. Next day Mumbai Mirror was all martyr:

Turns out we’ve been had. Go to page 2 to read how the two celebs lied through their teeth for money and publicity.

These two are featuring in some skin-care product launch where they will play the Greek characters of Aphrodite and Eros who get married. That was what the whole “remarrying” thing was about.

Now here is what the paper said:

There were many reasons why we thought the story deserved front-page treatment: Malaika Arora is a huge pin-up star and Arbaaz is a celebrity in his own right, and comes from one of film industry's most respected families. In an environment where celebrity unions crumble faster than cookies the two, who have been married for 10 years and are parents of a five-year-old boy, offered a great example of a happy family unit in the face of relentless public scrutiny.

What message do we get from this?

  1. Pin-up stars are news?
  2. Being the son of a well-respected family makes you newsworthy?
  3. Being married for 10 years is an achievement?
  4. Being parents is news?
  5. Public scrutiny for the above reasons is news?

Oh, tell that to some stupid ad jingle walla. The newspaper cannot be so naïve as to believe anything someone tells them. The couple sent out feelers, and then they spoke. What was the hurry to publish it? And if at all, this goes in the entertainment pages, not the front page. Do you understand? And, yes, we will wait and see if you carry ads of that product or not and whether you give this couple any space in your paper or not. Then tell us that you have been had.

Having said this, and quite certain people will talk about why this is so darn terrible, today’s paper gave us another bit of pathbreaking news: Aishwariya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Yes, the same couple that had a “simple marriage” where the whole media and suicide missions landed up. Now the two of them are in Miami, so Papa B had this brilliant idea. He called his friends and the media for a bash at a five-star hotel and set up this huge screen for a video conference. The couple spoke a bit. Do you know what the real deal was? To promote their film (of which Papa B is also a part) directed by Ram Gopal Verma.

And what happened to the media that was boycotted during the wedding? They get breathless:

Family plot from Mumbai to Miami
Bachchans celebrate Abhiash anniversary, and how!

If you ask me, this is a cheaper stunt than the former.

In the first, the media did not cross-check and went along with what was a parody, however disgusting.

In the latter, you have superstars using their marriage (Jaya Bachchan did her saas act with a tearful moment too…she is missing her beta and bahu).

Was there any need to make a public display of this? Who foot the bill – the producer? Then this too is the buying of anniversary rights. Accept it. Let me see how many will run this grand affair down.


Ask the vexpert - 4

Question: Whenever my husband gets up in morning, his penis is hard. Is it normal? Once, I sat on my boyfriend's penis in office. Is there any chance of getting pregnant if I sit on a penis even when both of us were fully clothed? His penis was very hard. Hence I am very scared.

Sexpert: Your extra office activity will not get you pregnant but it is possible that it may fracture his penis. Trust is an important part of marriage. Think about it.

Me: You are truly leading a hard life. Your husband’s state in the morning has been programmed. See, you check it as soon as you wake up, he wakes up, and therefore there is no need for an alarm clock. The only abnormal thing about it is that he seems reluctant to invest in a clock.

Regarding sitting on your boyfriend’s penis in the office, I assume you are leading a harder life than one thought. There must be a shortage of furniture. Chances of getting pregnant are slim depending on how you choose to sit; most people require the use of their rear and no reports have come in about births occurring in hind-site. However, if you are sitting in an unusual manner, even though both of you were fully clothed, you could get pregnant because sperms are known to get excited by activities not considered commonplace. Given your fears you may make an advance complaint with the employees’ union regarding your colleague not being considerate enough and soft at the given time. This might qualify as harassment at the workplace.

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Question: I masturbate once a week and I feel OK. But the problem is that my hairstyle changes whenever I masturbate. Will it affect my health if I masturbate too often? Or will there be any problem in the future?

Sexpert: Hairstyles are weird in any case. Masturbation will not contribute or in any way be responsible for your health, lifestyle and how you look.

Me: There is a reason why your hairstyle changes. It has been rightly said that the male brain cells lie in the penis, therefore the action results in a reaction and the hair on your head stands on edge. When you are in a relaxed position after the activity, the hair flops to different sides and angles depending on the level of satiation reached. Please make a note of the variations. Each points to the nature of the stimulus used or the role you played in your fantasy. Middle-parting – Devdas-type lover; side parting – investment banker; puff – aging dandy; bangs – boy-next-door; dishevelled – rock star; gelled-back look – Mafioso or a pernickety guy.

Why don’t you try doing it with a condom on? That way you will find different caps on your head. It is likely that you might end up with a feather in one, too.

Muaah Mushy?

Miss Pakistan thinks Musharraf is a ‘hunk’

I think this Mahleej Sarkari woman has been set up. It is no secret that I like Pervez Musharraf, but the reigning Miss Pakistan World is sounding a bit batty when she says, “Musharraf is a hunk. He has enough charisma to have young girls going nuts.”

This has made front page news. It is a little-known pageant. The reason is that the newspapers can flash pictures of Ms Sarkari and tell the world that Pakistanis too can lay claims to half-naked women.

Also, to get back to my original point, now that Asif Zardari is being lauded for his ‘statesmanship’ (which means he could be the reign man anytime), this is one more way to ensure that the mullahs run after Musharraf.

The democrats can then talk about how they are in fact the real clean bins and even more qualified to be the Islamic republic’s caretakers.

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On a different note...

Ah... “happy day 15-4-2008” said the subject line…I got this yesterday, the 16th, in the mail by someone I do not know or one who has used a fictitious ID. It had an attachment: My picture that is here on the blog!

Haven’t replied.

What do I say?

Well, a happy day to you, too, but I really do not get it…why would I be happy seeing my own photograph, that too one I end up seeing everyday when I post and everyone else is subjected to?


Dis n Dat

Oprah no more queen of talk shows

The talk show queen’s popularity has diminished after she declared her support for Barack Obama, even though she knew it could destroy her career. She has publicly backed Obama as her choice to replace George W. Bush.

She is reported to have said, "What is the cost to me for doing it? Am I going to lose viewers? I made the decision that I have the right to do it as an American citizen. But I will not use my platform. I can use my own personal voice. I know him well enough to believe in his moral authority. And that is the number one reason why I am supporting him."

Big deal. Lots of people in Hollywood and media icons in the West openly support candidates of their choice. This ‘right to do this and that as an American citizen’ is getting tiring. And why will she not use her platform? It is her show. She can do what she wants. If she can promote books, she can do this. And what is this about moral authority? These Americans keep talking about moral authority which they carry on their zippers.

Besides, I am amazed that no one feels any pangs of shame when donations are solicited. And then they have the gall to throw corruption statistics in the face of Third Worlders. These are people who are being sponsored and their campaigns financed by sundry film stars and hoteliers. That NRI Sant Chatwal guy is irritating me, the way he keeps popping up each time Hillary is around, especially Hillary with that big smile and dazed eyes trying to second guess when Bill will open his mouth and she will have to ask him to shut up.

Aw, get on with it, you Yankees.

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I like Mayawati. I like it even more that she went ahead and commissioned her own statue and unveiled it herself. Because no one else would. At least she did not get some chamchas to do it. Great going. Okay, she is saying that Kanshi Ram made her his sole heir, which rings a bit sharply considering she has been rubbishing Rahul Gandhi of late for doing his time out with Dalits.

But I still like her insouciance. She did not care about what people said and thought about her relationship with Kanshi Ram and has truly stood up to the fascist forces. Did she use strong-arm tactics? Of course. Isn’t it better than batting her eyelids?

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“Did Priyanka Vadra recently meet Nalini Sriharan, one of those involved in the assassination of her father Rajiv Gandhi?”

Here is a portion of the front page report in The Times of India:

According to what Nalini told her lawyers, a visibly emotional Priyanka made Nalini sit next to her and asked several short questions related to the assassination. Why had it happened? For what purpose? What was Nalini's involvement? Nalini replied, “I didn't know anything till the end. But it is true that I went to the spot.” Nalini is the sole survivor of the five-member assassination squad.

Priyanka is quoted by the lawyers as saying, “My father was a good person. It could have been resolved through talks. Had you known about my father’s good nature, you would not have done this.” Nalini apparently kept quiet. Then Priyanka asked, “When did you see my father last?” Nalini said, “When he got out of his car.”

Initially I did not know what to make of it. Now I suspect it is this election year thingie. Sonia Gandhi had reduced Nalini's sentence from death to life imprisonment because of her little daughter. Now Priyanka might get Mommy to do something more.

At another level there is something very crucial: Does Priyanka have the authority to conduct such an enquiry? How the hell does it matter whether her father was a good person or not? We are talking about a hugely serious issue that is still on the boil: the LTTE. The newspaper has implied several things but we want to know how legally valid is it for the meetings to have taken place, for anyone to file a petition on the basis of Right to Information and, most importantly, whether the media ought to carry such stories at all?

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Pottering around

JK Rowling was attending the Galaxy British Book Awards where she was honoured for her outstanding achievement when her purple satin gown slipped off her chest.

Mark Hutchinson, her press aide, was at hand to cover Rowling's modesty, and holding up the front of her dress. It's not the first time Rowling has been left feeling overexposed - on a book tour of the U.S. last year, her dress slipped during a reading, exposing her white bra underneath.

Takes the term ‘press aide’ really far, innit?

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I am not newsworthy, but just thought I’d let you know that there is a bit of fresh excitement in life. My internet cable wires have been robbed. Had it not posed accessibility problems, I might have had a good laugh.


Fashion, my foot

Her skin shone in the bikini she wore, a bright yellow. From the car window her cellophane wrapped body appeared like it was covered with a tantalising sheer garment. She was dark. Very dark. But that is not how you refer to people on the cover of Vogue, even the Indian edition. You say she is dusky. You find new words that convey sex appeal, lusciousness.

I waved my hand to denote that I was not interested. A pair of dark eyes looked at me and pointed fingers at the model. “Madam, le lo, phashun hai.”

Shaking my head, I looked at the girl selling these copies. Her hair was tied carelessly on the top of her head, her eyes were beseeching and she was dark. No one would find words like dusky for her skin, or dark and inviting for her eyes. She was too young for a bikini, but her clothes were torn at the shoulder.

We held each other’s gaze for a long time.

I often wonder about the chasms that exist. What makes one superior to the other? Is it us? Would I have waved my hand had the model stood in front of me trying to market some two-piece at a fashion show?

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Taking of fashion shows, I am just so glad that this ridiculous one currently going on, the Lakme Fashion Week, is finally over. You might wonder why it ought to bother me at all. Because I open the pages of our national newspapers and it is all there. In nauseating detail. Even when an attempt is made to expose how foreign buyers don’t give a shit, it looks ridiculous. For, I watch those so-called authorities on fashion, with their pumped up white porcine faces and their own silly clothes and wonder how they can sit and judge and say things like we need to focus.

We need to shut shop. This fashion parody has been going on for too long and makes no sense. I believe there was one show where all the male models were dressed as Sikhs because it was a sporting line and Sikhs are sporty! What next, a cocktail line should have Malayalis because they drink like crazy, and a lounge line ought to have Bengalis for they are always lounging?

There is this Bong designer, Sabyasachi Mukherjee. I remember his early days when he would smile and do ordinary things with clothes which made them wearable. Now he talks about using leather and jute and all that crap and he invariably gets the models to look deglamourised in a trendy way – they mostly wear large glasses and bindis with any kind of outfit. It just looks terribly stagey and hardly dramatic.

What is the point being made here? That you can be a plain Jane and carry it off? Who the hell is some designer to convey that? These clothes are pricey and lack basic aesthetics. Talking about silhouettes is not going to change the fact that wearing long tunics over short capris will always make you look like you are a behenji who has rolled up her churidar for a little dip in the beach waters because your shauhar said, “Chalo ji, kuchch paaon tau geele kar lo!”

I am really tired of this….then they go on about cuts and lines. We are Indians; we have curves. Real curves. And we like it. As women. We don’t give a damn what some men, and to hell with designers being gay, want. If you care so much for the flat look then just dress your male models as women, like you made them dress like Sikhs. Not too tough. The androgynous look is what you want, and what you will get.

Some of us look like women even when we wear men's kurtas, like I often do. Latest acquisition is one in lime-green, teamed up with brown slacks and a beaded necklace with a bronze pendant that has an elephant motif.

No need for the trumpets, too…