Look, this whole metrosexual vs. retrosexual thing is getting boring. Most women do not give a damn what men look like as long as they know what to do with what they have.

Now there was another survey by the British Yorkshire Building Society. Some nuggets from the report in italics:

The fairer sex may have all but abandoned the struggle for equality, for a new survey suggests that most men want a traditional wife and women are often only too happy to oblige.

One moment. Why does a woman playing the traditional role cease to be equal to men who also play their traditional roles? If women prefer these so-called retro men, then aren’t these guys too happy to play that role?

The survey suggested that most women desire “retrosexual” men, who are more hunter gatherer than a “metrosexual” stay-at-home father.

Hunter-gatherer? Someone is going Barbara Cartland on us. I wish these surveys examined the reasons.

“A lot of women used to think they wanted a metrosexual man. But then they realised they were fed up with a man who spent longer in the bathroom than they did,” Tanya Jackson, corporate affairs manager at the building society said. “Many women now feel they actually want a huntergatherer and they will look after their man in return.”

Why is it so difficult to understand that what glossies and ad agencies tell us is manufactured? A man is not a machine (well, working on auto-pilot does not make you a machine). Nor a fad. Men are human (ahem). And women make those choices based on the kind of people they themselves are.

This is not like going to a showroom and picking out retro or metro. And whoever gave these people the idea that the guy who spends a lot of time in the bathroom does not expect to be looked after? And isn’t the job of the hunter-gatherer to hunt, get the stuff and then go grrr…hrrmph? Why would he want to be pampered? Would that not turn him into a metro then?

And isn’t the ‘tweeze my eyebrows and do my facial’ guy getting ready to face the world and go hunting anyway?

We all have our little yes-yes, no-no list…This is mine…

Hawaiian shirts only at the beach.

Clean feet, hands and other things in between.

Not pretty to watch you licking on ice-cream cones.

A stubble only if you have smooth hair.

A beard that does not look like a bush.

Polite in public and private.

Rough when the occasion arises.

White shirt, not white shoes.

Don’t try to work on a sense of humour; men are meant to be funny as a species.

Cook, but don’t make it sound like a Cecil B de Mille production.

Do not assume all women like getting the lingerie you like. Try wearing a G-string and then you’ll know.

Don’t challenge a woman with, “Hah, you don’t have the balls”. She’ll show you what you don’t have.

Just because you read somewhere that women look at butts don’t walk ahead of her. Unless you have something to hide by facing her.

Even if she has initiated something don’t keep mentioning it; it is so déclassé and it also reveals how slow you are.

Flattering her in public might work only if she is insecure, or you are about her.

And finally, don’t ask for directions to her erogenous zones. You aren’t stuck on some highway, are you?

Dis n dat

Making fresh efforts to win back the estranged ally, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari requested PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to rejoin Pakistan's ruling coalition, but the former premier said it is not possible in the “near future”.

Zardari had apologised to Sharif on Monday itself for hurting his feelings and hinted that certain powers within and outside Pakistan, which had played a role in the ouster of Musharraf, were opposed to the restoration of the deposed judges.

The puppetry continues. And do note that Zardari is accusing the powers that were responsible for Musharraf’s removal for not restoring the judges. Wasn’t it Musharraf who threw out the judges?

I suspect that Nawaz Sharif is going all lawyer love because he knows this will be his trump card, not to be in power but to create problems for Zardari. He joined forces only to get Musharraf out. An effective Opposition is always good, but this will most likely be a disruptive one.

- - -

Barack Hussein Obama, a freshman senator who defeated the first family of Democratic Party politics with a call for a fundamentally new course in politics, was nominated by his party on Wednesday to be the 44th president of the United States.

Huh? I thought it was all decided. These Americans have a really long foreplay. Hillary was out of the running, so what was left? And “first family”? And these fools dance and do high-fives as though they are hearing this for the first time? And why is the Hussein name being reported so prominently? And does not the United States of America feel one bit of shame when it is announced that Obama is the “first African-American to become a major party nominee for president”?

And on what grounds does Bill Clinton declare, “I say to you: Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world”? You fight your elections, run your country. Do NOT try to lead the world. Whether your candidate is Black, White, Yellow or Green.

- - -

End note:

I was wrong.

When I wrote supporting the use of Marathi for McDonald’s outlet in Mumbai, it had a narrow and limited reason.

I realise now that it comes with a package that is reprehensible. Raj Thackeray and the rest have been forcing this down people's throats and it does not stop at signboards. They are trying to bulldoze immigrants by targeting hawkers, cable operators and even educational institutions.

This is not on at all.

However, this sign board law exists in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

The BMC has the power to prosecute shopowners who do not display their shops’ names in Marathi also; they can be hauled to a magistrate’s court and can be fined between Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000.

Ironically, one of the restaurants targeted by the MNS was Cross Café. Some of you will recall how it had to be renamed. Here is part of what I had written then:

“Have you been to Hitler’s Cross?”

This text message flashed on my cellphone. What surprised me is that it came from Pakistan. What the heck was the big deal? The restaurant was tucked away in Navi Mumbai but it was making waves all across the globe.

I had not thought it important enough till I got that SMS. I would not patronise the eatery only because it is too darned way out for me to travel to. The name, the symbol of the swastika (which incidentally is almost identical to the Hindu symbol, Om – it is reversed) or a poster of Adolf would not have any bearing on my decision.

Fine, the restaurant owners wanted to be gimmicky…so what? Only some half-wit would imagine that people would go there for their Italian muttar-paneer or Punjabi hakka noodles because they were hungry Indian Nazis. Oh come on, we need to get a life.

I understand political correctness, but there are a few real political undercurrents going on here. Browbeating seems to have become the order of the day and our so-called tolerance is showing chinks, more obviously now. The eatery was not a hotspot and yet it resulted in international protests with the Mumbai-based consulates of both Israel and Germany joining in. The owners have now been forced to change the name of the restaurant.

This is ludicrous because no one had protested when Bal Thackeray and Narendra Modi openly expressed their admiration for the Fuhrer’s ideology, which is far more dangerous coming as it does from our leaders.

If this name-changing has to set a precedent, then perhaps the Jewish community might like to approach the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s son Stalin, named after the Russian dictator who too was responsible for the persecution of Jews.

Some of us might like to change the names of places commemorating our own leaders for excesses like the Emergency, riots and complete disregard for law and order.

Different angles - 5


The Marathi Big Mac

The caption states:
AAMCHI BURGER: The McDonald’s outlet at CST sports a Marathi signboard in keeping with the MNS diktat.

Aware of how the Marathi maanus parties have been beh
aving towards immigrants, one ought to be put off.

But I also feel that we s
hould be proud of where we belong - and I know that Biharis, UPites, people from the North East and the South who have made Mumbai their home are contributing a great deal. Therefore, I am all for the Marathi signboard.

After all, the Indian version of the
Big Mac is different and caters to local tastes, so why not the name in the local language too?

Incidentally, I believe some
countries do use the logo keeping their culture and heritage in mind. I clearly recall the one in Salzburg:

Ask the vexpert - 9

Question: My husband insists on using tooth paste for lubrication while having sex. Can this prove to be harmful?

Sexpert: If it can clean your teeth, it could help your vagina as well. Why not present him with a tube of KY Jelly for better lubrication? Also, ask him to prolong the foreplay so that you are better lubricated.

Me: If he is a dentist, then he probably thinks anything that can be held is a toothbrush. Do check if he has added bristles for effect. Or he has taken courses in time management and thinks he can brush with pleasure. It is not harmful just as yet; if he starts getting into dental floss and mouth wash and toothpicks, then you might have to deal with him differently.

- - -

Question: I am 26 years old and my girlfriend is 18. She wants us to have anal sex since she doesn’t want her hymen to split till she gets married. Even when we tried anal sex, I couldn’t enter as the anal opening was too small. Also, she experienced a lot of pain. My girlfriend says that she will leave me if I am unable to enter her the next time. Please help.

Sexpert: I cannot advise you on anal sex since it is illegal. Tell her that it may cause side effects to both of you. Is it only for sex that you both are together?

Me: Ask her to go and first shit a watermelon and then you’ll get back to her. Seriously, when you get married you will have to sign a pre-nuptial agreement stating that you are an upfront fellow and have not got anywhere in life through backdoor entry. Use the high moral ground. And after all these demands why is she coy about her hymen splitting? I assume she will also go horse-riding only after marriage.


Cats and dogs

It is just a cartoon. But in a dog-eat-cat world, it really does not matter how big the cat is.

Taking it further, it can mean so many things…

The dog rides on the cat and shoots from its ‘shoulders’.

The dog wants to just assert itself.

The dog is just playing games.

The cat looks confused but why? Isn’t the dog so light?

If cats have nine lives, and the dog knows it, why worry?

- - -

Okay, on to other non four-legged matters. If interested, do go to the book blog for reader feedback and to hear my podcast...


Ab ke hum bichchde tau shaayad kabhi khwaabon mein mile: Faraz Lives

There are some things you cannot pack in during interviews. (Read the full version here.) The same happened with Ahmed Faraz. Little things: I called and said, “I am Farzana” as though he was supposed to know. He did not ask “Kaun?” He gave me the directions to where he was. When? “Ab…” Now. I liked the sense of nowness, the urgency. 

He flattered, he cajoled, he looked amused as my tape-recorder went quiet and laughed aloud as I kept banging it on his table to get it started. There was curiosity. I began to see the blue of my kameez differently. It became not just an electric blue; it became something that he called luminescent. 

He got several calls. All from women. I can tell these things. His voice dropped, not as in a secret, but a whisper. Then a group of government types came in. The interview was done and I thought I should leave. He said, “I thought you will join me for lunch.”

I had to miss it, but I know what he meant when he told me, “Sometimes new people too give you the feeling that you have met them before, which makes you wonder about reincarnation.”

Some people are just reborn again and again because they never leave. He was what I have called the conscience of Pakistan. He loved it enough to criticise it and question it. His words in his own voice keep challenging…the heavens can wait…


Urban India is going to decide Kashmir’s fate?

The Times of India conducted a survey by Synovate India, a market research agency, among men and women in the 18 to 35 age group in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Jammu.

Here are some ‘findings’:

Should India let go of Kashmir?

No: 68%

Has Kashmir been pampered by the Centre?

Neglected: 41%

Can it ever be integrated into the mainstream?

Yes: 77%

Should India hold on to it whatever the cost?

Yes: 59%

If Kashmir secedes, it would it be…

Under greater threat: 50%

Do you see how disjointed it is?

Or just a case of “Dil ko behlaane ke liye khayal achcha hai”?



There are people who just love piping hot food. I don’t. Sizzlers I anyway do not like, but on occasion have fanned it with whatever was handy and even gone delicately psoo-psoo as the smoke hurt the eyes.

This Japanese invention would be great.


Shabana Azmi ...and the drama goes on...

I have loads to say, but for now...yawn...

She is just talking because ... (more later, IF someone publishes it). The 'liberal' media is not so liberal...

And why is everyone making a noise about it and making tut-tut sounds?

Meanwhile, read about it written two years ago and reproduced right here in Ghettoes Reserved for Muslims.

And before there is the silly query, "Oh she is just jealous of her, isn't it?" let me answer.

Yes. I wish I were as good an actress as her... she is a great actress...great on screen and even better off-screen....


Jammu and Kashmir - celebrate freedom separately

Update: There is a note of appeal on the humanitarian crisis in J&K. Please read it my other blog. It gives a detailed picture.

Here is the news for you – different takes...

“Tricolour at 8 am, flags of separatists at 4 pm,” shouted the front page headline in The Times of India.

At exactly 8 am on Independence Day,the CRPF hoisted the tricolour at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar.At 3.45 pm, Lal Chowk wore a totally different look. Hundreds of sloganshouting protesters swarmed the area and at 4 pm they planted flags of the Jamaat-e-Islami (which looks like the Pakistani flag) and those of terrorist outfit Hizb-ul Mujahideen on top of the same tower where the Indian flag had been hoisted.

If one were to go by the symbolism of the spectacle at Lal Chowk, the Valley’s alienation from the Indian Union seemed complete. One of the slogans of the protesters—“Jiyo, jiyo Pakistan, hum hain Pakistani’’—drove home the message. Among other slogans that rent the air were “Islam zindabad’’, “Lad ke lenge azadi’’ and “Allah-u-Akbar’’.

The report went on to state:

“They were aggressive in their gestures, but did not resort to violence.”

What do you expect protesters to do? Smile?

So, what happened to the Indian national flag at Lal Chowk? CRPF PRO Prabhakar Tripathi said the tricolour was taken down at about 10 am to protect it from rain.

Do flags at various building get removed during the monsoons to protect them? Did or did not the CRPF and intelligence sources expect some such thing to happen?

Now let us see what happened in Jammu. I had to look at another paper for that.

“Tens of thousands attend parallel I-Day celebrations in Jammu,” said the Hindustan Times.

Mubarak Mandi, the seat of the government during Dogra rule in Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday became the centre of India's 62nd Independence Day celebrations in Jammu, with tens of thousands converging there to mark the occassion.

Amid cheers and chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Bamb Bamb Bhole, thousands of Jammuities gathered with the national tricolour, waving the flags as the celebrations began.

Right. Please note the location and the religious sloganeering.

The moment the tricolour was hoisted by Sangarsh Samiti convenor Leela Karan Sharma, the masses jostled to get closer to the podium. Some saluted while others stood at attention. The atmosphere turned emotional when the national anthem "Jana Gana Mana" was recited.

Sharma exhorted the people to remain peaceful and maintained that the government should take note of the "sea of humanity" and accept the group's demand.

Obviously, there were no aggressive gestures here.

Now let us look a little further…

“Unique Protest: SIMITI boycott Independence Day celebrations in Jammu,” said News Agency of Kashmir.

In a unique protest of pressing demands members of SASS today boycotted all the official functions organized on eve of I-Day celebrations and hoisted Tri-Colour at various places in Jammu Division.

Addressing the gathering SIMITI convener, Leela Karan Sharma, Brig (Retd) Suchet Singh and others in their speeches expressed their anguish that while the government is not giving any punishment to Afzal Guru who masterminded the attack on parliament and those who burn the national flag publically, there is a suppression of the nationalistic people who are raising their genuine grievances.

The Samiti also informed that the Samiti will organize a jail bharo andolan from 18th to 20th August 2008 The Samiti also informed that the Samiti will organize a jail bharo andolan from 18th to 20th August 2008, in which people thousands of people will court arrest in the various police stations in support of their demands of restoration of land, in the entire Jammu region.

So, it is all right for these people to boycott. Why? Only by hoisting the national flag they become patriots? Are they too not seeking ‘azadi’?

At least in Srinagar they chose the same venue as the official one.

As for the rest, let the pictures speak. And the reality.


What is your good name?

A friend is writing a novel. She is stuck. Not with the plot, not with the characters, not with finding a publisher. She does not know what to name them.

“You are lucky, you wrote non-fiction,” she told me.

Although mine is non-fiction, due to the sensitive nature of some political aspects, I could not disclose the identities of some people...so it was finding names. Fortunately, there weren’t many such ‘characters’. But it was really a task...someone’s real face would stare at me and I had no idea what to do about it.

Imagine if you were writing about a bald character and named him Samson? As the familiar faces came to haunt me, I tried to fit in what would sound right. I had to also keep the Sunni-Shia-Mohajir thing in mind. Whoever said non-fiction does not require creativity?

One of these hidden people got a copy of the book. Now, quite naturally, he wanted to know if he was a certain person. I said, no…but I had forgotten what I had named him. Off I rushed to my Press copy, clicked on ‘find’ and typed out one item of his clothing (yes, I like these details) and found him. Needless to say he has only read his portions! Another person did not like the name I gave her: “It is the name of one of my relatives and she is quite ugly.” Oh, well…

Strangely enough, I suspect that if I were to write fiction I’d use names of people I know. And make them into real ghoulish characters…that would be fun. (Incidentally, that is just a needling strategy, with the hope that someone somewhere names someone somewhere Farzana, with little horns, knotted hair, frothing at the mouth…here is an idea for free.)

PS: Okay, so one has written non-fiction. Now you know what the problem is? Some people who should be doing things have said, “Yeah, it is, but it is so personal.”

People want realistic characters even in novels and here when they get the real, and some really weird, they call this personal. Arre, eik-eik museum piece hai…so why do you want museums and stuff?

Yappy Yeiyindependence Day

No time for cynicism today. Just this (in pictures at Ibaadat India) and this...

Bharat humko jaan se pyaara hai


Rushdie and Bush in a squeeze?

Salman Rushdie with another Lakshmi...the hijra he interviewed.

Salman Rushdie has written an essay for the anthology titled AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories From India. Never mind that these stories have been recounted a number of times. Bring in AIDS, get writers to hold forth on some aspect.

I avoided bringing up the story of Rushdie’s bodyguard claiming that the writer demanded money from them to protect him…I felt that he needed some rest. His extra-curricular activities are taking up too much time. But this one passage from the essay The Half-Woman God (a literal translation of ardhanarishwara, which he uses to refer to the eunuchs…where are the magical metaphors?). Anyway, here is the portion:

Aastha gut makes and disseminates paan-flavoured condoms, and hijras are trained (with the help of attractive wooden penises) to hold the popularly flavoured condoms in their mouths, and then apply them quickly to the client’s member. (I was given a couple of impressively swift and skilful demonstrations of the technique, on, I hasten to add, the wooden members only.)

This so juvenile. What purpose does the last bit serve in a serious essay? It is in poor taste and not even slightly amusing. Honestly, grow up Sir Salman.

- - -

George Bush scores at the Olympics

Bush starts flanked by two players of the women’s beach volleyball team at the Olympics. Beginning with the threesome clockwise, here is my short running commentary for the rest of the pictures:

1. “Kya sab kuchch theek hai, mere aaka?”

“Thoda bukhaar hai, shaayad,”Bush ne kaha.

2. “Achcha, tau kya muamla garam hai?”

“Hmm…mujhe nahin lagta…”

3. Silence. He goes to the other woman. The “Let’s do it” Nike logo stares at us as the Hindi song “Lag ja gale ke phir yeh haseen raat ho na ho” plays in the background.

4. Later… The Prez’s shirt is sweaty and his hands relaxing where they should not be… “Duniya ki parwaah kare kyon sab ne hamara kiya kya…”


A Chinese official quickly approaches Bush and says urgently, “Mistal Pleseedun, you coming flom backside?”



"I would have finished the food that she had cooked for me if I had time."

So said Iqbal Saifee, the killer of his wife Mariam (although there are reports that say he has not been able to produce a marriage certificate). He saw her with some Deepak Rao in a 'compromising position' and hacked both of them, changed his clothes and was planning to walk out when the cops landed up there after being alerted by the neighbours.

His picture just makes you realise how life is of no consequence to people. Look at him, so cocky, as though he has just won a trophy.

I only hope the investigations do not veer towards the “he is a mentally unstable guy” lines. He knew what he was doing. If he was so upset, then he should have hacked himself to death.


They are no match for Musharraf

A short note on this for now.

They are planning to impeach Pervez Musharraf. So what? Bill Clinton was impeached. Did anything change? He still rocks (and rolls), mucks up his wife's chances like he always did, and gets himself a tan. Musharraf needs no tan. I am just so amused by some statements:
Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the coalition's biggest party, expressed confidence it will succeed. He called the move to seek impeachment "good news for democracy" in Pakistan.

The idiot should know that he is the biggest slap in the face of democracy. And what is he doing making such statements? The leader of a political party should just see that everyone is well fed and drunk...is he really taking his role as the "Sonia Gandhi of Pakistan" too seriously? Does he forget that he got where he is because of Benazir Bhutto's arrangement with Musharraf? Does he realise if the judiciary was truly fair it should be going after him? But no, no, Pakistanis are told they have to uphold this democracy thing... Then we hear this:
With his (Musharraf's) popularity at rock bottom and civilian political forces arrayed against him, the outlook is gloomy for the leader who pushed Pakistan into the U.S.-led war on extremist groups after the Sept. 11 attack on America.

Chuckle moment ...is his popularity low because he led the war on extremism? Then what democracy are these people talking about? And if his popularity is so low, then what are they afraid of? Oh, how can we forget, this is upholding of democracy. Even if he is impeached, he will have it good...like any officer and a gentleman would. I know people think this amounts to supporting a dictator, but I don't compare chalk with cheese. Get me a better Cheddar, then we will talk de-mockery-cy.


Reaching out...

Well, well...I know you don't make a big deal of it...but today I just felt like saying something:

I know that I make more people angry, but if there has ever been a moment when I have done this for you then I can purr a little...Here is a wicked quote:

"A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway."
- Jerome Cummings

It’s a cakewalk for the criminal

Maverick: It’s a cakewalk for the criminal
By Farzana Versey
Covert, August 1-15

Charles Sobhraj’s new girlfriend gets interviewed on TV. The media tells us about what T-shirt another criminal wears when he goes for court hearings. The diet and exercise routine constitute prime space. And, yes, the patois of the underworld makes front page news. Even kids in a general knowledge game show talk in the bhai lingo. All this is cool. Your dinner companion is often a murderer, a rapist or a scamster.

Crime is so happening.

Historically, cinema was on the ball internationally – in the Germany of the 20s during the Weimar Republic, the early 30s America where people were seeking order after the Depression, France in the 50s due to colonial unrest. With the advent of the Mafia in Italy and its percolation into most of Europe and the United States, the movies began to follow crime reports. That is the reason that films in this genre avoided a moral position and preferred to convey just a hint of retribution. The blacks and whites gave way to a uniform grey.

The psychopathic villain has arrived to be joined soon by the psychopathic hero, wrote Phillip French in Violence in Cinema. It has happened in our backyard with a slight spin. The bad guy is also a hero, perhaps not in the classical mould, because he sets his own standards of behaviour. Even if the idiosyncrasies include merely getting two people to kill each other, today’s films and the media at large are doing it with finesse because today’s criminal does the same. His spit is his polish.

And to think there used to be endless debates about how Bollywood glorified the criminal. The debates stopped ever since crime began to be realistically portrayed; instead of Ajit and his Mona darling, we got Bhiku Mhatre and his matronly wife.

In a sardonic twist Phoolan Devi, who had killed 22 people and had 55 registered criminal cases against her, transformed after surrender, parliament and, most importantly, Bandit Queen, the movie. She was completely appropriated by men, usurped by their fantasies and power lust – whether it was as consort to Vikram Mallah who taught her to “laugh, swear and speak her mind without inhibitions”, or as the simpering wife to the opportunist Umed Singh, or the pawn for the leaders of the backward class segments. These politicians, incidentally, have no sympathy for the rape or travails of village women who in the year 2008 are still won in a game of dice.

The danger in authenticity is that it takes itself too seriously. If there is anyone who makes crime and the characters that people it appear like heroes and idols it is realistic cinema and news channels. It may seem strange, but devoid of the standardised glamour they become something easy enough to aspire to. There is no hoodlum with one patch on the eye. You have got someone who you cannot differentiate from the man in the street. While it is legitimate for the former to be based on the latter, it becomes a tragedy when the roles get reversed. For example, Phoolan’s attempts to emulate Shekhar Kapur’s caricature version of herself in real life made her almost schizophrenic. One moment she would be the canny businesswoman demanding and getting 40,000 pound sterling to stand by a portrayal she had been assiduously denying, and the next minute she would become a bored housewife who found amusement by watching her life unfold before her own eyes.

To call ours an age of cynicism would be giving ideological obfuscation legitimacy. Both crime and its portrayal, through the false movement of the unreal, actually get us in touch with only our basic instincts while giving us the impression that we have our feet on the ground

Vikram Mallah was quoted as saying in the Bandit Queen, “Aadmi ko marne ke liye bohut riyaaz karna padta hai”.

Even death is not spontaneous in this world. It is an exaggerated version of an unreal reality. Today’s criminal can live in a chawl, wear a Gandhi topi and be addressed as daddy.

Talk about being nuts for photos

When I first saw these in the inbox, I could feel myself there…there was such palpable tension.

This is a case of a photographer photographing another photographer. The identity of the subject in the photos is unknown.

The following pictures were taken by Hans van de Vorst from the Netherlands at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Here is the account in his words…

I was simply stunned seeing this guy standing on this solitary rock in the Grand Canyon

The canyon's depth is 900 meters (3,000 " ) here.

The rock on the right is affixed to the edge of the canyon and perfectly safe.

Watching this guy in his rubber thong sandals, burdened with a camera and a tripod

I asked myself 3 questions:

1. How did he climb that rock?

2. Why not take that sunset picture from that rock on the right, which is perfectly safe?

3. How will he get back?

After the sun set behind the canyon's horizon he packed his things and prepared himself for the jump.

This took about 2 minutes.

At that point he definitely had the full attention of the crowd.

This is the point of no return.

After that, he jumped in his thong sandals & only having one hand free . . . The canyon's depth is 900 meters (3,000 feet) here.

You can see that the adjacent rock is quite a bit higher than where he is (and quite steep.)

He hopes to use his one free hand to grab on to the rock.

Look carefully at the photographer.

He is carrying a camera, a tripod and also a plastic bag - all on his shoulder or in his left hand.

He lands low on his flip flops ~ both his right hand and right foot slip away...

And at that moment I take this shot:

He pushes his body tight against the rock - waits for a few seconds, throws his stuff on top of the rock, then climbs up & walks away.

(Presumably to a bathroom to change his shorts!)


They're talkin' 'bout me...phew...

In one of those sessions where they discuss me, someone asked, “Who is Farzana Versey?” (Why are people so blah and blah about her and so forth…)

My take:

She is Nobody. I mean, she does not appear in any tangible form all that often. Therefore, she could be deemed a ghost. How do people react to ghosts? They get spooked out, or they are fascinated, or they create stories.

I shall talk about the last…

The story begins often with a straight narration of the person who was. The words she spoke/wrote…in the course of the retelling, people add their own bits. A mythology is created around stray sentences. Mythologies are not based on context; they need not be. Now, without a context, the ghost can appear really evil.

The advantage when you create such a spook is you can give it several nuances and accuse it of double standards. This is precious. The ‘subject’ has said clearly what she believes in, she has provided her version of facts, she has not gone back on anything. Where are the double standards? And on what grounds do those making the accusations believe that their versions of the facts are right? They assume she has created ‘villains’. It is really adding Bollywood masala to a good ole ghost story.

The spectre needs that whistling wind sound, flickering candles…it also needs a ‘hook’.

This is where the other issue of elitism comes in. That is really difficult to digest. It makes even a joke attempt ‘humour’. So the ghost appears in her outsize Chanel shades. Anyone with a quarter of a brain will know that if one is to portray someone as posh, then you do not place her standing near a paanwalla asking for tambakoo. But, and this is the crucial BUT, this is the paradigm the individuals concerned are accustomed to. They probably pronounced Chanel as “Channel”, which was earlier enunciated as “Chaa-null” during the times they got excited when some aunt brought home “Chaa-null number paanch” (Chanel No.5), which is where they get to the paanwalla… “arre bhai, jaraa choona-tambakoo maarna paanch sau bees par”.

These people are now settled in the US, have done well, and are lauded for their lifestyle (which means Shaan masala sprinkled over the Brie)…they are investment bankers, software engineers. They first learned to knot their ties like salesmen; then they got to the US where they whistled at anyone with freckles imagining she was a gori.

Can you blame them if they are stuck in the groove?

Dis n dat

Pregnant pause

Haresh and Niketa Mehta have gone to court challenging the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which bars abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. They have to await the verdict, though Niketa is now 24 weeks pregnant. She had been told by doctors that the foetus in her womb has a congenital complete heart block. The unborn child would require a pacemaker immediately after birth, and subsequently another four to five pacemaker replacement surgeries during its life-span. They also warn of intra-uterine death of the foetus.

I am assuming the reason for this Act is both medical and ethical. The mother’s life could be in danger and ethically you are killing a baby. In this instance, since the courts have got the hospital records and the parents have made the decision, they ought to be given the right to abort. Almost every village and small town and even big city has centres where illegal abortions take place; female foetuses are routinely killed and so are female babies. Where are the laws and the courts then?

Niketa and her husband are taking a risk. They will sign a form that says so. No one has the right to meddle here.

Amar Raho!

Amar Singh’s first demand from the Centre when the PM took the first step towards wooing the SP was a better security blanket. Within days of it being raised at the UPA anniversary dinner, he got Z- plus category security. The Congress just cannot thank the Samajwadi Party enough for ridding it of the Left and rescuing it from the nuclear standoff.

Does he need it? That was never the question. It was a power war with chief minister Mayawati. We all know that there is nothing like a free lunch, more so in politics. Now let us see what more demands Amar Singh makes and how much the Congress is willing to play along.

We have effectively sold out to the US in the nuclear deal and now political parties will demand their pound of flesh. Amar Singh has already started talking about what portfolio he would like. Incidentally, I still do not know what he has done in political terms in Uttar Pradesh.

All one has seen of him is accompanying the Bachchans, renaming his bungalow ‘Aishwariya’, trying to get sops for Anil Ambani or getting into brawls with some film stars, when not cozying up to others.

Rahul Mahajan’s Maha news?

“Rahul to be single again”.

This was the headline in the main section of The Times of India. This is of course Rahul Mahajan, who still has cases against him in the courts. His marriage with Shweta has ended in a divorce. This should be in the glossy segment, not the main paper. Unless it is to tell us that the criminal charges against him were back in the court.

How does his being single again matter to anyone except himself and his clique of socialites? Who is he? What has he done in terms of social/political contribution?

Here is what I had written then.

End note:

Since there is so much talk about bomb defusion, here is this bit of news:

A member of the bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) is insured for Rs 1.25 lakh in the eventuality of death. The corresponding amount for his counterpart in the anti-terrorism squad is Rs 10 lakh. In addition, the ATS staffer gets a house rent allowance. There are only 43 BDDS personnel in all of Mumbai. They have to carry equipment like X-ray scanners, hook-and-line sets, bomb blankets and bomb suits (weighing around 36 kg).

My question is this: Are bombers different from terrorists? If not, then why are there two categories and hierarchies for those dealing with them?