Monday, July 31, 2006

Yes, I really needed a day off

And there is no better way to clear your head than to go to the Sarojini Nagar market. Sarojini trades in export seconds, and is probably better known to people outside Delhi as "that place where there was a bombing last year."

But to me, it's just one of those little endearing corners of the city that keep me sane. I find it particularly awesome on Mondays -- the day when traditional stores in the market are closed.

"Bhai saab, Sarojini market," I said to the rickshaw wallah. After asking me to pay double the meter price, I stopped argued for a bit with him in my broken Hindi, and he came down. Then, as we puttered out of Defence Colony, he caught my eye in his mirror.

"Madam? Sarojini Monday bandh."

I wobbled my head, yes yes, fine, I know, crazy white girl. Apparently my friend was unaware that Monday is, in fact, the optimal day to visit Sarojini, because that's the day when the sellers offer the best deals -- men and women spread tarps on the ground and unload masses of garments, each going for no more than Rs 30, most either priced Rs 10 or Rs 20. I suspect that this is because they have perhaps pilfered their goods, but that doesn't matter much to me; someone is getting paid, and I am getting something in return. The world works.

The sun was shining but not blazing, the sky was blue, and I frivolously bought things I fancied, though I likely won't wear most of them. I took myself out for a vegetarian thali and bought some yogurt, stocked up on some fabulous looking mangoes, and treated a little coolie boy to a kulfi. A great day indeed.

(In the picture: a cool circle skirt, a funky blue corduroy pleated skirt, and, the piece de resistance, a summery Kashmiri-embroidered jacket for a fetching Rs 10.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The re-emergence of my crappy artistry!

A series: Matrimonials. From left to right, or top to bottom, or however these end up being arrayed, they are 1) Very handsome enterprising, 2) Well-placed match, 3) Wanted, 4) Beautiful intelligent educated, and 5) Proposals invited.

Loopy for Lawrence

It's the path of least resistance: I like D.H. Lawrence. Sure, the writing is a bit ornamental, but for his time, it was risky. It said something. And despite more than eight decades since the book was published, Women in Love is still interesting, provocative, and readable.

I suppose I like this book in particular because the main characters are women, and they're rather well depicted. They're sassy and they're unconvention -- not to mention daring. Here's to books that have female protagonists.


"If one jumps over the edge, one is bound to land somewhere."

"He lay sick and unmoved, in pure opposition to everything. He knew how near to breaking was the vessel that held his life. He knew also how strong and durable it was. And he did not care. Better a thousand times take one's chance with death, than accept a life one did not want. But best of all to persist and persist, and persist for ever, till one were satisfied in life."

"And at last he came to high road. It had distracted him to struggle blindly through the maze of darkness. But now, he must take a direction. And he did not even know where he was. But he must take a direction now. Nothing would be resolved by merely walking, walking away. He had to take a direction."

"'...I think that a new world is a development from this world, and that to isolate oneself with one other person isn't to find a new world at all, but only to secure oneself in one's illusions.'
Ursula looked out of the window. In her soul she began to wrestle, and she was frightened. She was alsway frightened of words, because she knew that mere word-force could always make her believe what she did not believe."

"He turned away. Either the heart would break or cease to care. Best cease to care. Whatever the mystery which has brought forth man and the universe, it is a non-human mystery, it has its own great ends, man is not the criterion. Best leave it all to the vast, creative, non-human mystery. Best strive with oneself only, not with the universe."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Just say no!

Seen in the parking lot of Khan Market, an upscale locale in south/central Delhi popular among the expatriate crowd:

"Say No To Crackers"

I sincerely hope they mean fireworks, and not my fine firang friends.

You down with OTC? (Yeah, you know me)

Chalk another one up for the harried urban Indian -- according to today's Times of India, cough syrups and other over-the-counter medicines may soon be sold at grocery stores. Which means that those crusty old men nursing treacly bottles of grape Benadryl can rejoice, as they'll save an extra trip in their daily routine (but seriously, who do these guys think they're fooling? Isn't it more efficient just to buy a sipper of whisky and be done with it? You can't have had the sniffles or a cough for ten months!).

I, for one, am excited. As an American, I first thought it was such a novelty to go to a fruit stand, then to a local grocery for staples, and make an occasional run to the chemist; but when you're working 10 hours a day, it doesn't leave much time for myriad menial tasks. Hoo ha!

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Our global world

DHL has launched a new service targeting Indian consumers -- the Rakhi Express. Raksha Bandhan (which this year is on August 9, I believe) is a holiday where sisters give little gifts, such as sweets, to their brothers, and wrap the rakhi (something akin to a string bracelet, though that doesn't really capture the meaning of the object) ceremonially around his wrist.

I'm always interested to see the ways global companies attempt to cater to "unfamiliar" markets. DHL seems to have learned from McDonald's, which has excelled by tailoring their menu to Indian tastes -- no beef, but innovations such as the "McAloo Patty" and the "Shahi Chicken McCurry Pan."

This is the second interesting service that I've seen from DHL -- earlier, I posted on a offer for corporate clients to send Alphonso mangoes abroad.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

About to throw my computer out the window

Because today is one of those days when expaticon is painful. It's tax filing time here in India, and despite my appeals for eight months for, you know, a little guidance on what I need to do, I am being given the run around.

See, it wouldn't be so bad if this didn't happen any time I try and accomplish any task that must be routed through the office bureaucracy. The manager here wants to impress the people in New York, so when they make noise he becomes solicitous and assures me that he'll do anything to make my time here easier, but as soon as their protests fade, it's e-mails being ignored, calls not being picked up, questions delegated to a lesser power who doesn't understand my case, thus causing endless iterations of beggery until I, ripping my hair out, call New York on the verge of tears and ask them to stop the insanity.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

New and interesting

Just downloaded Qumana, as suggested by Lifehacker, and of course, it's made my computer have a rather massive conniption. Poor ole girl; I bought her for $200 about a year and a half ago and have since trucked her around the world with me. She's tired, her memory is fading, but mommy just can't put her out to pasture.

Aaaaanyway, Qumana: free downloadable software that allows you to post to Blogspot from your desktop. Can also embed Technorati tags, etc. This is a test post; the jury's still out on whether this is a) awesome or b) gnarly.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Not the week to read this book

So, the unfortunate combination of death and Norman Mailer has made me quite depressed, but alack, I must review the latest Modern Library book I read.

Or, because I am numb, I must cut the crap and telegraph a few select quotations. It took a while to get into the writing, but I don't think I'll soon forget the tension and despair in Mailer's narration.

Political application to the Iraq war?
Fondness for a country is all very lovely, it even is a morale factor at the beginning of a war. But fighting emotions are very undependable, and the longer a war lasts the less value they have. After a couple of years of war, there are only two considerations that make a good army: a superior material force and a poor standard of living.

All the frenetic schemings, the cigar smoke, the coke smoke, the carbolic and retch of the el, the frightened passion for movement of ant nest suddenly jarred, the hurried grabbing plans of thousands of men whose importance is confined to a street, a cafe, and there is no other sense than one of the present. History is remembered with a shrug; its superlatives do not match ours.

...every time I start an affair, I know how it's going to end. The end of everything is in the beginnings for me. It's going through the motions.

An aside: Did this inspire Go Fug Yourself, or is the recent pop culture adoption of Mailer's WWII argot mere coincidence?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Shock and awe

A new collage; an advertisement for Kerala, a consumer goods advertisement, and an editorial shot. Guess which element is which?

Forget not that I ALSO majored in gender studies

Surfing around, and found a great site/blog/historical compendium about India. It's just an honest, lovely little site that represents more than 100 years of work, culled by (presumably) the latest generation of a middle-class Indian family.

My favorite part is the portraits; one section offers glimpses of women from different parts of the country, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and so forth. Another features pictures of people who have never before been captured on film. It isn't glitzy, it isn't high tech, the portraits don't highlight tremendous technical skill. But they are genuine, and they show an India that is unknown by people who haven't lived in the country. And, lest I get all teary eyed liberal on you, they even have a rocking section on unusual vegetables!

Interesting, too, is the way in which the site is produced. According to the FAQ, "Krishna and Jyotsna do not have a computer and instead prepare the contents manually in a extremely laborious method and mail it to Vikas by postal mail. The pictures are then scanned, articles retyped, and uploaded to the website. "

(Photo courtesy

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Potty humor

If I don't visit this museum soon, I think I will die.

I heard about the Sulabh Toilet Museum a few years back, but every time I've ever mentioned it to a Delhiite, they've looked at me like I had three or four heads. I know, it sounds crazy -- even the NGO that runs it admits it! (e.g., "Ever wondered what a museum dedicated entirely to the history of toilets would be like? If that peculiar question ever crossed your mind -- seek professional help! But if you really want to know, you can visit Sulabh in New Delhi, India") -- but then again, this is India. Chalte hai.

If you're not near the subconty, the Web site itself is pretty good. Don't miss the section on Aryan codes for using the loo, including these edicts from the Manusmriti:

  • Before going to the toilet the scripture prescribes elaborate drill
  • Before going for defecation one was to chant the following mantra from Narad Puran: Gachhantu Rishio Deva/Pishacha ye cha grihya ka/Pitrbhutagana survey/Karishye Malamochanam
  • Before going for defecation it was prescribed that the sacred thread should be rolled to a smaller size and be put on the right ear
  • The head was to be covered with a cloth. In the absence of cloth, the sacred thread was to be brought over the head and was to be hung on the left ear
  • Then while observing silence and facing north in the day and south in the night one could defecate
  • While defecating one was not to touch water
  • After defecation the water pot was to be held in the right hand, left hand was to be used for cleaning
Thank you, Dr. Bindeswar Pathak, for all your work related to my most puerile interests!

Feeling fartsy!

O.K., so this was my Sunday morning attempt at visual splendor. Sorry for the poor reproduction -- my digi cam can only do so much -- and my poor pasting skills. Made from magazine clippings and my own creative faculties!

Scum free, you say?

Now, I know I live in a developing country, and that there is some tension between "the way things have always been done" and "progress toward the standards ensconced in nations such as the U.S. and U.K." But sometimes, when companies make the discrepancy completely transparent, it's, well, kinda gross.

Yesterday, I remembered that we were running out of sugar, and thus grabbed the sack nearest to me while I was buying medicine at the chemist. This sack happened to be Dhampure brand, a relatively new entrant to the packaged sugar market in North India. Little did I know what I score I made -- the packaging is pure genius.

Not only does my sugar have "no added sulphur!," it also meets "EUROPEAN UNION STANDARDS," is "ultrapure," has no acid, and is "eco friendly." Their key tagline, though? "Dhampure: Scum free and non acidic."

There are even directions so I can test the sugar's relative scumminess (two tests, one of which involves making a sugar syrup, the other which involves BTB paper and a handy beaker). Well, am I going to sleep soundly tonight. Only...I've been eating scummy sugar for more than a year? What is in this scum? Am I going to get scurvy?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The myth of the fattening banana

I've been on a health binge recently, trying to make my fatties go away, and apparently I've been rather successful -- I'm now below 60 kg -- about 130 pounds! (When I started working for MNC, my co-workers and I first visited the company gym and weighed ourselves, and I was 66 kg). And this excites me very much, because it's been gradual and has come from working out five days a week, 30 minutes a day, and eating fewer sweets/fried street foods/outside food.

I feel really proud and happy when the office girls congratulate me instead of playfully slapping my ass and mocking my callipygian wonder (I have no idea why any of them thought this was a way to make their bumbling, quiet firang friend come out of her shell, but so be it). But sometimes, letting people know that you're trying to "reduce" is more a hazard than anything else.

Let's take lunchtime -- I try and stick to some a chappati or rice, a bowl of dal, and perhaps some juice for dessert. Once or twice a week I'll throw in paneer, because...paneer! Delish! To me, it seems sensible, small portions, protein, not too much fat. But Haha and Tata's eyes boggle when I meander over to a table of fruit and return triumphant, banana in hand.

"Oh, that is so fattening! Why do you even work out if you're going to eat this?" Tata remonstrates. Usually I let this fly, but earlier this week I lost it.

"Who told you this? Even if a banana has a high proportion of fat in it, the banana in and of itself has so few calories that for it to be a true threat to my waistline, I'd have to eat 10 or so," I spit, citing the wisdom of my stepbrother, a health nut who even majored in exercise science.

She looks a little confused, maybe even hurt. "Well, my fitness trainer, first thing, told me I couldn't eat bananas. Or rice. I haven't had the bananas or the rice for about three months. This" (pointing at Haha's plate of malpua, a deadly combination of sugar, milk, ghee, and fried goodness) "is just the same as eating a banana, he was saying."

"Bakwas!" I nearly shout, slamming my hands down on the table, disgusted that anyone would take the advice of a iron-pumping bohunk hired to oil his biceps and look down his nose at the mere mortals with, you know, body fat and curves and lusciousness.

At this point I'm feverishly rubbing the banana, dreaming of the months in Kerala when I would walk home, stopping at the corner shop to have a man hack three different kinds of bananas off the vine (or whatever you would call the...umm...banana stalk) and I would sip kaapi with the girls of Unity and shove them, two at a time, down my gullet.

Even if they are fattening -- which I don't buy (and many folks on the Internets agree with me) -- you can have SOME fat in your diet so long as you're also excercising and generally eating balanced meals. Where do these food myths come from? And why do we perpetrate them?

I suppose I should take Tata's reaction with a grain of salt; she was dishing out the critique over a duo of veg burgers (deep fried cutlets of potato slathered in mayonnaise and wrapped in a thick bun of refined white flour) and "franch fries" at during our power lunch. Sigh...

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Interesting: I can post to my Blogspot blog, but I can't read it (at least from my home computer).

Yes, I'm suffering under the Great Indian Blogging Block, and it's driving me insane. Want to read celebrity gossip (Pink is the New Blog)? Fuck you. Want to laugh at horrible fashionistas (Go Fug Yourself)? Off with your head. Just want to catch up with some friends? You're SOL, in the parlance of my sage auntie.

People are reporting that the ban will be lifted in the next 24-48 hours, but Krishna only knows. I feel like I'm in China, or something. World's largest democracy? Sometimes still subject to the whims of a despotic few.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Post-James bliss!

Now, after reading The Golden Bowl, I am naturally predisposed to think that just about anything is more readable than James' voluminous prose. Nonetheless, I am convinced that Iris Murdoch's Under the Net is a true gem -- and one that I had never heard of before beginning my Modern Library quest.

The plot is simple, but the ordinary events capture the fantastic. The writing is witty and sparkling, subtle but hilarious. The end is poignant and understated. And there's love between a man and a dog. What more could this girl ask for?


"Anna is one of those women who cannot bear to reject any offer of love...To anyone who will take the trouble to become attached to her she will immediately give a devoted, generous, imaginative and completely uncapricious attention, which is still a calculated avoidance of self-surrender."

"Oh, love, love!" said Anna. "How tired I am of that word. What has love ever meant to me but creaking stairs in other people's houses? What use has all this love ever been that men forced on me? Love is persecution. All I want is to be left alone to do some loving on my own account. ... This talk of love means very little. Love is not a feeling. It can be tested. Love is action, it is silence."

"When does one ever know a human being? Perhaps only after one has realized the impossibility of knowledge and renounced the desire for it and finally ceased to feel the need for it. But then what one achieves is no longer knowledge, it is simply a kind of co-existence; and this too is one of the guises of love."


"Some situations can't be unravelled...they just have to be dropped. The trouble with you is that you want to understand everything sympathetically. It can't be done. One must just blunder on. Truth lies in blundering on."

"...I felt neither happy nor sad, only rather unreal, like a man shut in a glass. Events stream past us like these crowds and the face of each is seen only for a minute. What is urgent is not urgent forever but only ephemerally. All work and all love, the search for wealth and fame, the search for truth, life itself, are made up of moments which pass and become nothing. Yet through this shaft of nothings we drive onward with that miraculous vitality that creates our precarious habitations in the past and the future. So we live; a spirit that broods and hovers over the continual death of time, the lost meaning, the unrecaptured moment, the unremembered face, until the final chop chop that ends all our moments and plunges that spirit back into the void from which it came."

Word on the streets is...

That Indian ISPs have shut down Blogspot, Typepad, and Geocities blogging sites, but miraculously, I am still posting this from my Delhi flat. The war against global terror continues...and it all goes back to the Interwebs.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Happy birthday, dearest S!

So today, in honor of S's 27th, we went to Qutab Minar, which neither of us had ever been to (I know, I excuse). Just beautiful; great architecture, intricate carving, peaceful day.

I still hate that, while entry for Indian citizens (or anyone who is brown, really) is Rs 10, entry for firangs is Rs 250. It's just ludicrous; imagine the hubbub that would be raised if the discriminatory pricing were in place in, say, MoMA.

Also, poor S is always confronted by friendly locals who assume he is American by association. Today a vivacious Bengali greeted us, and S desperately tried to explain that he is from Punjab and has never been outside the subconti, but to no avail. Hindi doesn't work, retelling one's life story doesn't milky skin confounds all!

Oh, Henry James...

Well, it's a first: I finally read, from start to finish, a book by Henry James, The Golden Bowl.

I feel conflicted. I don't want to dismiss him (as most everyone I discuss literature with has), because he clearly has talent. But I think he shows off far too much; sentences are needlessly ornate, similes are forced (e.g., "Fanny was wrapped in her thoughts still more closely than in the lemon-coloured mantle that protected her bare shoulders...").

Anyhow, on with the quotes. After a certain point, I stopped being able to process much of what was going on, so they may not be too insightful. The real highlight for me, in all honesty, was that one of the characters was named "Fanny Assingham," which will now be my pen name, I think.

"What was this so important step he had just taken but the desire for some new history that should, so far as possible, contradict, and even if need be flatly dishonour, the old? If what had come to him wouldn't do he would make something different."

"What was at all events not permanently hidden from him was a truth much less invidious about his years of darkness. It was the strange scheme of things again: the years of darkness had been needed to render possible the years of light."

"He had these several days groped and groped for an object that lay at his feet and as to which his blindness came from his stupidly looking beyond. It had sat all the while at his hearth-stone, whence it now gazed up in his face."

"That was what she was learning to do, to fill out as a matter of course her appointed, her expected, her imposed character."

Bling on my cat!

This is smooth E-rizzle, coming out you from the New Dizzle, that's right, Delhizzle. Word to my bitches at India Tomorrow for hooking me up with this fly merch, man.

I had a few too many drinks and maybe I shouldn't have done that last line...but it's not everyday a magizzle has 1,000 covers. Gizzy good lot they threw in these glares.

Oh yeah...if you see my baby momma, tell her I'm sleeping one off.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Raindrops keep falling on my head

Psst: The monsoon is here.

I have let you down, dear readers!

Yesterday I neglected to relay a helpful hint, so today, steel yourself for a double dose.

Tip numero uno, the monsoon special:

At times you might find saline water instead of the usual grains of salt in your salt cellar during the monsoons as salt is extremely hygroscopic. One way to avoid this is to buy table salt although this is more expensive than the ordinary cooking salt, as it is specially treated, refined and is less hygroscopic. Another way is to buy a covered salt cellar, so the salt is not exposed to moisture.

And, for those playing at home, courtesy MW -- "Hygroscopic (adj.): readily taking up and retaining moisture."

Und zwei:

To get dirt off wall-paper, rub with a day-old slice of bread.

I'll have to try that one...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Helpful hint 'o the day!

From the "Party" section:

Do not serve heavy snacks along with cocktails, serve kabab or small pieces of bread topped with cheese and ketchup.

Because nothing says classy like a martini, Heinz, and a slice of Kraft.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

"THE Oxford novel..."

Well, despite my previous delight with Scoop, I never could dig into Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. Perhaps it was the tattered copy I borrowed from the library, its inner reserve betrayed by a lime-green-and-racy-red cover...or perhaps I enjoyed Scoop for it's subject matter rather than its execution. Anyhow, I give it a mixed bag of five thumbs up.


"'I have left behind illusion,' I said to myself. 'Henceforth I live in a world of three dimensions -- with the aid of my five senses.'
I have since learned that there is no such world, but then, as the car turned out of sight of the house, I thought it took no finding, but lay all about me at the end of the avenue."

"My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time.
These memories, which are my life -- for we possess nothing certainly except the past -- were always with me. Like the pigeons of St Mark's, they were everywhere, under my feet, insgly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl."

"'Sometimes,' said Julia, 'I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all.'"

"'A lifetime between the rising of the moon and its setting. Then the dark.'"
I am book mad; however, although I prefer D.H. Lawrence to Dan Brown, sometimes I can't help but indulge in pulp/populist literature. And yesterday, when I saw Helpful Hints by Jyoti Shenoy just glistening on the store's rack, I knew that I had to have it.

The grammar is atrocious, the spelling worse, and the tips? Some are useful, some are little more than wive's tales committed to print.
So, to serve you, dear readers, I will begin presenting one lesson daily. Today's hint comes from the section of "slimming":

To enable you to eat less, place the picture of your favorite model before you or a big mirror to watch yourself eating. This will certainly prevent you from overeating.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

True crime

An ongoing series to highlight the different reportorial styles of American and Indian media. Today's topic? The seedy underworld.

For Americans, reporting crime is hard boiled. You have to watch your words, watch what they imply, and know the law. Do you know the difference between "assault" and "battery"? If you don't, that's a lawsuit. Know how to hedge yourself against libel?

But it's not all a nightmare -- at least you have access to a blotter (usually), and can rely on the police to give you (relatively) unbiased information. In India, it's a bit tougher -- you have to know the police, or find out the story from the source; the processes of law and justice are a bit more obscured. Inevitably, there is less hand wringing over condemning a man in a headline, etc., and often, the crime stories sound like something from a pulp novel.

Which leads me to an excellent piece in the Indian Express by Rajeev P.I., "Doctors, this is cyanide ... the tongue burns, it tastes acrid." For the lazy -- and so I never lose track of the true genius that is this piece -- the text (I've bolded the parts that would be instantly deleted were this in America):

This could be another first of sorts from India’s suicides capital — Kerala. A bankrupt jeweller in Palakkad has demolished the legend about people tasting cyanide dying before they could pick up a pen and write down what it really tastes like. This man tasted the poison, addressed a note in some detail to doctors on it, then died.

State Health Secretary Vishwas Mehta says he is contacting experts to see if this note could be of some use to science. Forensic department sources say there is plenty of scientific literature theoretically deducing cyanide’s taste from analysing its known chemical properties — but they have yet to see any that says someone had actually tasted the deadly stuff, and then documented it.

Police say 32-year-old Prasad, said to be a reader of crime thrillers, had checked into a seedy lodge in Palakkad last week, deciding to die. A small time gold jewellery trader, Prasad had gone bankrupt after a couple of north Indian conmen sold him spurious ornaments passed off as gold. He carried the cyanide with him — it is commonly used in gold extraction work everywhere.

Prasad mixed the cyanide in a tumbler, stirred it with the bottom of his pen, then sat down to write the suicide note to his kin. The police presume that by the time he was nearly done with it, he would have been absently chewing on the pen’s bottom with the cyanide on it. His suicide note abruptly goes off course to address doctors:

‘‘Doctors, (this is) potassium cyanide. I have tasted it. It comes through slowly at the beginning, and then it burns, the whole tongue burns and feels hard. The taste is very acrid...I had read in some novel about killing a man discreetly with cyanide. It was smeared on the pages of a book that he was reading, and when he touched his tongue with his finger to turn the book’s pages, he died and no one suspected... I am now convinced how easily someone can kill another using this...’’

Forensic officials say Prasad’s description of its taste tallies with the surmises in scientific journals. A mere 300 mcg of cyanide could kill a man. The police think that though the poison might have begun acting fast while he wrote and chewed on his pen, Prasad would have collapsed and died immediately after he drank up the remaining portion of the deadly brew as well. The autopsy has now confirmed it was potassium cyanide.

Now, if I, as a theoretical American journalist, was to write this story, it might sound something like this:

A bankrupt jeweller from Palakkad committed suicide earlier this week by ingesting cyanide, officials from the Forensic Department released today.

And, despite the myth that cyanide is so lethal that it kills instantly upon ingestion, Prasad, 32, addressed a note to doctors on its taste before he died.

Etc. And, sorry, I am woefully out of practice as a journalistic writer, so I know that those two graphs can be picked apart and likely would never be printed anywhere.

Better? Worse? Comparative merits? Is it fair to compare journalism across cultures, assuming that one's factual literature should mirror the society which it assumes to represent?

Wednesday, July 5, 2006


  • S is gone for the week, and, as I sit here hungry and wishing someone would cook me an omelette, I realize how much he does for me
  • When I am lonely, I start doing really neurotic things, like plucking my underarm hairs one by one
  • If I had to give today a name, I would call it "corporate asshaticon" for all the ludicrous contradictions forced upon me by MNC
  • One of the least glamorous things to do in the world is to wash your cat's butt after he has rolled in the feces of another, rival, cat
  • I still hold that "You're the man now, dog!", spoken by Sean Connery in Finding Forrester, is one of the most important film moments of all time
  • My co-worker HaHa is one funny broad; today she told us the story of how she and her father bought a seat for their labrador retriever on a first-class Indian Airlines flight and refused to listen to the flight attendants' protestations that this was against all protocol

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Social networking, continued

Oh man. So last week, annoyed by all the Fropper commercials on TV, my colleagues and I decided to create profiles for the site (which is much like MySpace, only cleaner, etc.).

And now I present, excellent moments in social networking history, via the messages sent to me by various users of the service:

"I find you very appealing; would you like to share a pizza?" -- roopak1

"THEY say women don't ask men out. If u aren't 1 of THEM, reply!" -- ravidk26

"can v b frnds ??? sms or mail ?? your choice will b my pleasure ........................ " -- akarshan2000

"Hi! I liked your profile and I am interested in you." -- atull1975

"I am a 24yr old guy from New Delhi. Im about 6ft tall and good to look at. I am doin my own Business n pretty well settled in it and previously have also worked in the modelling industry. In my freetime I love playin basketball, pool, big time party animal so go clubin a lot with frnds, also like to go for a Long drive once in a blue moon, love driving big bikes, wildlife, adventure sports and travellin a lot. I am a Genuine, cool down to earth person and have a good sense of humor but my biggest strength is that I never give up. My friends say i talk well too. I am lookin for new friends n love some1 whose talkative with a good sense of humor and an ability to understand other person, someonewho believes in enjoying thier life, go out, n keep a conversation goin. I am open to everything and believe in trying everything atleast once in life. I have a feeling that we can make to be good friends." -- dk_ny

So THIS is Web 2.0?

My lazy Sunday morning has been transformed by my rediscovery of MySpace, perhaps the most sprawling, illogical, and yet illustrious gem on the Interwebs. My aim? Find other expats with whom I can occasionally chill.

I know, it's not exactly grabbing the whole experience of India and living every moment of it, but since M&J moved back to the States, I haven't spent any time with anyone who isn't Indian. And while I dearly love S, puny P, R squared, and the people who have become my home away from home, sometimes you just need to have a huge laugh with someone who understands just how ludicrous it is that the Tacomaker and Papa John's are treated as fine dining establishments (even meriting reviews by India's most discerning gastronomes).

I've messaged a few people with my desperate plea to hang out -- a girl living in Bangalore, a guy in Noida, and lord knows how many hippy dippies drifting through Varanasi, Dharamshala, and McLeodganj. But thus far, no responses -- shocking! I guess we're all here trying to find our own way, trying to leave behind bad memories or simply forge new ones with a clean slate.

But, fear not; you're never alone on the nets. My profile has garnered NUMEROUS come ons from men who appear to have learned English by reading Letters to Hustler. No, I don't want to chill wid you, and although I am quite sexy, I don't want you to take me places I've never been. Because there aren't many.

Also, if you are a fine young chap who just wants to make new friends, let me give you an example of messages that will really put off the adventuresome yet somewhat reserved expat girl:

God is so merciful that it showers all his blessings on his childrens and takes away the pains i bow my knees and pray for the humanity to get his blessings on us
and you also.

God Bless U

ur profile pictures make me think of you the most sweetest face , preety and cool like a face of the year....

So matured, so cool ,calm like a pond of peace and solace....

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Call me a Luddite, but...

No matter how compelling Pizza Corner's ads are, I just don't understand the appeal of "pizza in a cone."

I mean...the sheer physics of it are a bit disgusting. All the cheese at once, then all the crust at the bottom? There's no even distribution of tastes, just a lump of cheese sprinkled with sundry meats and vegetables.

I'm tempted to eat one as a scientific experiment...but I just can't. Ice cream is conducive to the cone -- sugar melting, softening the satisfying crunch just so; greasy "Italian" schmears I cannot do.

Within view

Cross A Room With A View, E.M. Forster, from my Modern Library list.

Again, pleasantly surprised. Who would have thought I would be so delighted with Forster's work? Now I'm itching to read A Passage to India, and I can't believe I was so reticent to approach his tomes. The writing is clear, concise, and yet playful. Definitely lasting, definitely deserving of a spot on the top 100.

Special quotes for travelers/tourists/malcontents (in my mind, I've replaced all references to Italy and Italian cities with India and Indian cities):

"Then Miss Lavish darted under the archway of the white bullocks, and she stopped, and she cried: 'A smell! A true Florentine smell! Every city, let me teach you, has its own smell.'
'Is it a very nice smell?' said Lucy, who had inherited from her mother a distaste to dirt.
'One doesn't come to Italy for niceness,' was the retort; 'one comes for life...'"

"If you will not think me rude, we residents sometimes pity you poor tourists not a little -- handed about like a parcel of goods from Venice to Florence, from Florence to Rome, living herded together in pensions or hotels, quite unconscious of anything that is outside Baedeker, their one anxiety to get "done" or "through" and go on somewhere else."

And, sage life lessons:

"'...You are inclined to get muddled, if I may judge from last night. Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths of those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them....We know that we come from the winds, and that we shall return to them; that all life is perhaps a knot, a tangle, a blemish in the eternal smoothness. But why should this make us unhappy? Let us rather love one another, and work and rejoice. I don't believe in this world-sorrow."

"...she reflected that it is impossible to foretell the future with any degree of accuracy, that it is impossible to rehearse life. A fault in the scenery, a face in the audience, an irruption of the audience onto the stage, and all our carefully planned gestures mean nothing, or mean too much."

"Oh, horrible -- worst of all -- worse than death, when you have made a little clearing in the wilderness, planted your little garden, let in your sunlight, and then the weeds creep in again! A judgment!"

In your dreams

Ah, the return of the eccentric maid extraordinaire.

Usually I'm at work when she comes, so our interaction is limited to a solitary appreciation of my clothes hanging on the line when I get home.

However, on Saturdays, I'm lucky enough to see "Grandma," I nod namaste to her, I skitter about the house nervously so I'm not in her way. I try and follow her Hindi, but her voice is a growl, and I tune in and out.

This morning, she came in with a big grin and began babbling to S, who burst out laughing. As she got on with the work, he turns to me.

"Grandma says she dreamed about you having a baby boy."