My first novel, My Friend Sancho, is now on the stands across India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.
There’s apparently even a video of the incident, which I’m sure must qualify as porn for some species or the other. Damn these biological imperatives. How much better life would be if we were programmed to just cuddle. No?
Genesia Alves writes in to point me to a compendium of Hindi swear words. Such an effort was long overdue, but I wish it had been done better. The translation aims to capture the sense of the abuse rather than the literal meaning, and I’m not sure, in this case, that that’s a good idea.
For example, ‘sala kuttaa’ is translated as ‘stupid bastard’. This is inaccurate. ‘Sala kutta’ (as I would spell it; the extra ‘a’ is redundant) should be translated to ‘brother-in-law dog’. This translation is not merely literally accurate, but possesses immense charm.
You might argue, of course, that if a literal translation adds charm to an abuse, then it loses its sense. But ‘stupid bastard’ captures the sense of almost any abuse, and thus doesn’t do justice to any of them. Indeed, the term ‘bastard’ is used on that page as a translation for ‘chutiya’, ‘haraam zaada’ [sic] and ‘haraami’. It does an injustice to the nuances of all those terms.
Also, ‘chutiya’ is translated twice, as ‘bastard’ and ‘fucker’, and ‘chutiya choo-tia’ is translated as ‘fucker’. Eh?
And in case you think I’m being anal about this, well, my gaandugiri is surely no surpise to those who know me well.
This seems to be a particular problem with Korean politicians - there was the foreign minister who everyone was careful to spell Lee Beom Seok to hide the fact that it was pronounced Lee Bum Suk.
I wonder if there are other nationalities particularly prone in this way. A friend in Bangalore had an Estonian boss called Mr Penes which I was told is a common Estonian name. The good TamBrahms in the office were too embarrassed to use the name until they hit on the excellent tactic of calling him Mr Mahalingam!
[D]econstruction ... has the consequence, said Roger Scruton, that no text really says anything, including the text which says so; deconstruction deconstructs itself and disappears up its own behind, leaving only a disembodied smile and a faint small of sulphur.
Who does The Atlantic support in the 2008 US Presidential Elections? If this story is anything to go by, it’s whoever stands against John McCain. Nothing in the text indicates that, but the filename of the photograph on top does. At the time of blogging this, the URL of that picture is:
Nick Paumgarten has a superb story in the New Yorker about elevators, constructed around the story of one Nicholas White, who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours, and whose life fell apart as a result. It’s stunning—both White’s story and Paumgarten’s story.
The only comparable trauma I have been through is when I went to a nearby multiplex and watched Shootout at Lokhandwala. I suppose it could be said that I emerged a stronger human being at the end of it.
The quote of the day comes from a lady named Ramulamma:
Its actions are worse than a human being.
Ramulamma, a resident of Cherukulapadu village in Kurnool district, is talking about a langur that “saw a couple indulging in sex in the fields recently and since then it is pouncing on women and trying to replicate the act.”
Ah, April 1! It’s that day of the year again when one is wary of taking others seriously, so there is no better time for me to resume blogging. I’m going to be a little tight on time for the next couple of days as well, so here are some links to keep you going.
A couple of readers asked me for my reaction to the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, as it’s my money being spent (not that anyone cares). I shall be lazy and point to Bibek Debroy’s excellent comment in India Today, in which he points out that the proposed hikes will effectively be “a transfer from 375 million who work outside the government to 45 million who work for government and quasi-government bodies.” Aroon Purie also has something to say about the “Rs 66,000 crore gorilla” that runs our country.
A recent example of government dysfunction was the Goa government’s handling of the Scarlett Keeling case: when ministers and top cops come on TV and blame a young girl’s rape on her mother because she left the kid alone, it makes the skin crawl. Devangshu Datta puts it in context of another “WTF moment” he once had on a ship.
Speaking of WTF moments, check out this Shashi Tharoor piece in which he argues that a study that shows “correlation between engineering and terrorism” (with no hint of causation, mind you) constitutes an “argument in favour of studying the humanities.” Lest engineer readers of this blog do something rash in dismay, let me point out that Tharoor does say: “I know a few engineers who wouldn’t harm a fly.” Isn’t that kind of him?
A few days ago I’d blogged about the great Tantra Challenge. Reader Ajit Joshi informs me that he has persuaded Rationalist International to put the videos on YouTube—so here you go.
Speaking of rationalists, Christopher Hitchens writes about Hillary Clinton’s “flagrant, hysterical, repetitive, pathological lying,” and points out how she is guilty of both suggestio falsi and suppressio veri. Read the full piece.
Mr Rushdie ought to bear in mind that a novelist is at heart a storyteller, not a serial creator of self-delighting sentences.
What baffles me is that there are actually many people who love those self-delighting sentences, such as the good friend who sent me the above link, Manish Vij. I assure all pretty desi women in Boston and thereabouts—Manish was available last I heard—that he has no other bad qualities.
Don’t be silly. Kids tend to be smarter than their parents think they are. If you put spyware on your children’s computers, two things will happen. One, they will detect it—and perhaps put malware on your machine. Two, they will resent your intrusion for the rest of their lives.
Sure, I understand your desire to protect them. But before thinking of the damage the rest of the world might do to them, think of the damage you would cause by betraying their trust.
Last year the Sunday Times carried a letter written by Andre Gorz, a French philosopher, to his terminally ill wife. Here’s an excerpt:
You’ve just turned 82. You are still beautiful, graceful and desirable. We’ve lived together now for 58 years and I love you more than ever. Lately I’ve fallen in love with you all over again and I once more carry inside me a gnawing emptiness that can only be filled by your body snuggled up against mine.
At night I sometimes see the figure of a man, on an empty road in a deserted landscape, walking behind a hearse. I am that man. It’s you the hearse is carrying away. I don’t want to be there for your cremation; I don’t want to be given an urn with your ashes in it. I hear the voice of Kathleen Ferrier singing, ‘Die Welt ist leer, Ich will nicht leben mehr’ and I wake up. I check your breathing, my hand brushes over you.
Each of us would like not to survive the other’s death. We’ve often said to ourselves that if, by some miracle, we were to have a second life, we’d like to spend it together.
They committed suicide together.
(Link via email from Peter. Pictures courtesy the Times.)
Think again. In a story about a whale that exploded “on a busy street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs,” MSNBC reports:
Once moved to a nearby nature preserve, the male specimen—the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan—drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported.
“More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to ‘experience’ the size of its penis,” the newspaper reported.
A five foot penis? I’m beginning to wonder if tides are really caused by the moon. If enough whales masturbate together…
My conceit is that it would place somewhere between The Logic of Life and the lost subway cat, Georgia, but I’m sure many readers believe that it deserves to go off the bottom left corner, perhaps between Bai Ling’s legs. I can live with that.
The Vatican has brought up to date the traditional seven deadly sins by adding seven modern mortal sins it claims are becoming prevalent in what it calls an era of “unstoppable globalisation”.
Those newly risking eternal punishment include drug pushers, the obscenely wealthy, and scientists who manipulate human genes. So “thou shalt not carry out morally dubious scientific experiments” or “thou shalt not pollute the earth” might one day be added to the Ten Commandments.
The seven new deadly sins are:
1. Environmental pollution
2. Genetic manipulation
3. Accumulating excessive wealth
4. Inflicting poverty
5. Drug trafficking and consumption
6. Morally debatable experiments
7. Violation of fundamental rights of human nature
So if you drive a car, you’re sinning. If you’re a medical researcher experimenting with gene therapy to find cures for diseases like muscular dystrophy , you’re sinning. If you provide a service or create a product that millions of people buy from you because they benefit from that transaction, and you become very rich as a result, you’re sinning.
What’s more, Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the source of this new list, has been quoted as saying that abortion is one of the “greatest sins of our times.”
If I was sanctimonious enough to start listing sins, one of the first I’d name is lusting to have others live their lives according to your values. Organised religion is the biggest sinner in this regard. Still, in this case it’s voluntary, and that’s more than you can say for some governments.
No, no, not in America, where greater evil is at work. Cthulhu apparently appeared on the ballot in Russia, no doubt to little avail, for the tentacles of Vladimir Putin are not to be underestimated. Dread evils stalk these eldritch nights of unspeakable horror.
David Chartier reports that Jeremy Jaynes, a resident of North Carolina, has just been sentenced to nine years for spamming—in particular, for “sending what authorities believe to be millions of messages over a two-month period in 2003.” Jaynes’s lawyers argued that spamming was free speech, which the courts correctly threw out because the spam he sent broke “the US CAN SPAM law’s condition of giving recipients a means of contacting the sender.”
If Jaynes really wanted to exercise his free speech—Hey there, is your nose big enough?—he could simply have sent those mails to himself, or put them on a blog where they wouldn’t be invasive in any way. But a person’s email account is his private property, and by invading that, Jaynes went beyond the bounds of free speech. Sure, it is evident that we can’t possibly take prior permission to email people before emailing them, which would be delightfully surreal, but when I get an unwanted email, I should have the option to tell its sender not to write to me again. If that opt-out option isn’t there, it amounts to theft, as it encroaches upon my storage space, bandwidth and time.
Reporters covering President Bush’s trip to Africa are dropping like flies. The latest victim was Jon Ward of the Washington Times, who somehow ran through a plate-glass window at the Liberian executive mansion yesterday while trying to keep up with the president. Colleagues say he has cuts on his right hand but is in surprisingly good shape, our colleague Peter Baker reports.
Somehow, I wish that had happened to Dick Cheney. After all, Bush chose him as his running mate, didn’t he? And anyway, what’s Bush doing in Liberia?
“Australia’s postal service,” reports Reuters, “has increased the maximum weight for mailmen and women by 15 kg (33 pounds) in an attempt to attract more ‘posties’.”
Australia Post had a weight limit of 90 kgs (198 pounds) for “posties” because its 110cc motorcycles had a safe working limit of 130kg (286 pounds)—that’s 40kg (88 pounds) for letters and up to 90 kgs for mailmen and women fully clothed.
But after talks with motorcycle manufacturer Honda it was agreed the bikes could safely carry a “postie” weighing 105 kgs (231 pounds), said Sydney’s the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
But the “posties” will only carry 25 kgs of mail.
I suggest they increase the weight limit to 130kg, and make their postmen carry email.
Some story, this. Someone should write a version of it with a dead baby that comes to life when the Chinese woman does the smashing trick. “This ain’t a dead baby any more,” she could say to the driver, “but somewhere a life has gone so this child could breathe. Call home.”
Dogs are thought unclean by Arabs not for western influence, but because of an utterance of the prophet, I think recorded by Sahih al-Bukhari. This continues from the Semitic tradition of labeling some animals unclean—shellfish and swine etc—and is no more remarkable than bestowing divinity on animals.
I agree with that last bit, but will not elaborate, lest cow worshippers attack me with 295(a).