Showing posts from July, 2012

Stop Slum Tourism

There is much anguish over Oprah’s episodes on India shot during her Jaipur Lit fest visit. Here is a caustic review of the episode. Before I went all ballistic, I checked if the videos are available in order to get a personal perspective. Because more often than not, while no malice is intended, ignorance comes across as arrogance, and before you know it, everyone is yelling about insult to our culture. Unfortunately, the videos are not available where I reside. So I read the review a couple of times to distil the reviewer’s anger from the details of the show itself.
I was mildly irritated with Oprah’s ‘eating with your hands’ query – at best it was daft, at worst it was pathetic. Most westerners I know perfectly understand that eating styles are dependent on the food, and using forks, knives and spoons is not an indication of ‘advanced civilization’ or economic prowess.
I was not so angered by her ‘you still live with your parents’ questions. I’ve been asked this question many ti…

Growing Up With Rajesh Khanna

There was some excitement in the air. I saw Amma and Savitha aunty talk in gasps and giggles. Some plan was made for Sunday evening.
Ennango!” Amma called out to Appa, and said something about some aradhana on Sunday. I thought it would be some boring pooje and decided to plot with my friends to boycott. But I was in for a surprise.
Doordarshan was airing Aradhana on Sunday evening. All the houses in our vatara kept dosa batter ready. No one would waste time cooking when such an iconic movie was on T.V. By that time, the excitement had got to us kids too. Parents getting excited about a movie was a new sensation. We finished homework really early, and were on our best behaviour for the entire day. Yes, even the mandatory glass of milk was gulped without climbing windows and attics.
Evening saw us in my neighbour’s house. Vidya was my beshtesht friend. They had a colour T.V. – Dyanora – with shutters, mind you. Straw mats were spread on the floor as seating arrangements. A couple …



I’ve always been a bit wary about foreign authors writing about India. I know it is a hopeless prejudice – but I kind of believe they have nothing new to say; apart from spirituality, yoga, gurus, Himalayas, curry, and yes, slums, poverty, corruption.    I’d heard about Shantaram but never got a chance to pick it up. A couple of weeks ago, during a regular pilgrimage to the library, I found a copy. I grinned. At 900 odd pages, the book looked sumptuous. Hell, if the book turned out to be a bore, I could always do a couple of bicep curls instead!
A part-autobiographical account written by Gregory David Roberts, the book left me breathless. The protagonist – Lin- grabbed me by the collar right in the first page when he said, “So it begins, this story, like everything else – with a woman, and a city, and a little bit of luck.” I clung to him as he dragged me into the very belly of Mumbai – made me take in the sweat, the smell, the blood and the love of Mumbai streets – and …

Boson and Brahman for the Bored

There’s a thrill in reading pure science books IF there is no exam looming over your head! Indeed, all my quantum physics and cellular biology PLEASURE reading was done after I graduated.
Needless to say, I followed with avid interest the developments in Cern lab. A quest to understand how our universe was formed has been an eternal one. Perhaps we have taken a step closer towards the Truth. And this is where science and spirituality close in.
It is also a fascinating journey to compare notes between modern physics and Vedic physics. It is a strange feeling – to catch the explanation for a second; to experience that split second level of clarity – only for that clarity to be clouded by yet another question! And that is how we have marched on – question by question.
Since I am free, I can’t see any reason why I should not inflict physics upon you, you poor, hapless reader! But I’ll try and keep it as non-technical as possible. Let’s start off!
Before we understand the hoopla around…