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Apr. 20th, 2008


exit stage right followed by bear

People, I am taking a short walk over to blogger.  Come visit?

 I will be here.

Apr. 9th, 2008

The Internet runs on love


Clay Shirky's Here comes Everybody is one of the best books I have read about the Internet and culture. The last time I was this enthusiastic about an Internet culture book was when I read David Gauntlett's Web Studies, five years ago. When Gauntlett was writing the first edition of Web Studies most media theorists were talking about the internet without talking about the web. Bizarre but true. Most books were still talking about cyberculture and cyborgs and cyber punk which while I am sure was important to some people, bored me entirely to death. Gauntlett's book and his work online was my first source of insights into what the world would look like very, very soon. At that point, the book dazzled me.

Shirky develops on some of the nascent ideas about social change that Gauntlett spotted in sites like imdb and Teacher review and xena fan clubs then and sharpens them. Shirky popularised a phrase that I felt incoherently with my first brushes with the Internet and continue to feel each time I go online: The Internet runs on love. There's something about the altruism of the internet that stuns you afresh each time you go online. This is an elegant book that analyses the ways and means by which the Internet changes social organisations... everything from encyclopedias to Vatican II. The case studies are fresh, the themes are interesting and the insights very, very useful.

The book will be out with Penguin very soon. Buy it if you are even slightly obsessive about the internet.

Apr. 4th, 2008

Internet Confession Queens

Iris Scheiferstein, She thought

I am mostly bored by personal blogs. Very, very rarely do I enjoy sex-and-the-city blogs. It's probably comes from being incredibly old but there's another tiny reason. I have listened to enough stories about other people's love lives (and talked about mine) to last three long-running television shows. It's fascinating only because we get to say "I told you so, you stupid cow" Or some kinder version of that.

And for pure titillation, sex bloggers don't seem to have enough sex to be interesting. Girl with a one-track mind used to be slutty enough with plenty of messy bodily fluid. The sex worker blogs are sometimes just depressing.

Wierder, after being super-girly my entire life I find my favourite sex blog is written by three men.

Tao of Geek has a gorgeous strip explaining why so many people like personal blogs.

One of the few exceptions to my general veto on girls rambling on is One Trick Pony. Her blog I love you Rasna is one of my favourite pick-me-ups. I like reading it between waiting for the water to boil for coffee and the toaster to ring. She is inevitably funny regardless of whatever she is talking about.

This week she has: Classic Bollywood lines that would make hilarious April Fools’ pranks. 

- Tulsi? Tulsi ne to bees saal pehle, un paharon se kood kar apni jaan de di.

- Tumhari maa hamare kabze mein hain

- Apko lymphorsarcoma of the intestine ho gaya hai. ab dava nahi, dua ki zaroorat hai.

- Boss! Maal pakda gaya.

... and so on.

A couple of recent posts had me bursting into tears. One trick pony has no angst, no self-pity and thank god, no coyness. Just spunk and style. javascript hit counter

Khuda Ke Liye

Working on Sundays makes me grumpy and I still haven't got my mojo back but you should go watch Khuda Ke Liye.


Apr. 3rd, 2008


Some odd conversation with Bottle Imp started me thinking. Who is my favourite character in Indian writing in English? I don't know! It should be shocking but it isn't... what characters has IWE thrown up so far that you feel attached to them afterwards... as if they meant anything.

My responses surprised me a bit.

Akilan of No Onions Nor Garlic ranked very high.

YoungUncle from Vandana Singh's series

Toby from one of the short stories in Nalini Jones' What you call Winter

Sartaj Singh from Vikram Chandra's Love and Longing in Bombay

Bharat from Kavery Nambisan's The Truth about Bharat (Almost)

The cook in Kalpana Swaminathan's Page Three Murders

Thin, thin, thin pickings...

Which ones are yours?

Meanwhile: I love Patricia but really! I mean really!!

Via: Patricia of Booklust

Apr. 1st, 2008

The Siren Who Stayed Away

Sometimes I am terribly eager-beaver about an interview and then I screw up the writing. Here is Chitrangada Singh.


Mar. 29th, 2008

Memories of Murder

Bong Joon-ho's Memories of Murder is one of the most satisfying movies I have seen in ages. This movie precedes Joon-Ho's brilliant monster movie Gwoemul and has much of the same cast. Unlike Gwoemul it's set in small-town Korea in the late 80s.

A group of policemen with vastly varying degrees of competence try to track down a serial killer.
Joon-ho has a true gift for the comic but what amazed me is how much of the incongruous seemed completely plausible to me as an Indian. In one sequence, two cops who had been torturing a simpleton to force a confession are seen sitting in front of the television. All three sit side by side watching television, eating vast quantities of food and commenting gleefully about what's on screen.

The tension is beautifully maintained but with the tiniest of touches Joon-Ho shows that its possible to make a movie about sex crimes without being voyeuristic. He also creates the disquieting but compassionate notion that thinking violence is not the same as doing it. Suspect after suspect turns out not to be the killer but several of them do nurture elaborate rape fantasies. In counterpoint, a policeman (one of the few competent ones in the film) is in a high school talking to a pretty young schoolgirl. She is in the school clinic looking for a band-aid to stick on a scratch on her back. When the policeman offers to do it for her, she balks. The policeman tells her, "Feeling shy, why? You are just a child".

 To me this is the moment in which Joon-ho takes this American genre (in which the policeman must have a lecherous moment or two around a precocious piece of jailbait or a sexually active woman thus supposedly creating moral ambiguity about the violence) and returns it to the world with watercress (or possibly kimchi) around it. Take that, you idiots, he seems to be smirking.

It doesn't hurt that it's beautifully shot.

Mar. 26th, 2008

The revolution may not be televised but

There are videos now for the wierdest things. Books! IPL cricket teams. Even NGOs, that last bastion of anti-aesthetics. Some of these NGO videos are surprisingly charming.

A music video by the exec director of International Rivers

Good clean feminist fun from Feminist Majority


These days

If you go to youtube and type 'speech' the first thing that appears is Barack Obama's landmark speech on race. Here is moving, incredible oratory.

Mar. 25th, 2008

this samoa doesnt even have the beach

7 am is a barbaric practice. Paying a 1000 rupees to travel 40 km in a matchbox is barbaric. Journalism is barbaric. Tandoori chicken and its variants are barbaric. This land is meant for___ (insert rude local name for community that your mother looks down upon and you only utter in your most private thoughts)

I want to lie at home and squirm in embarrassment as I watch Manhattan again. If that movie did not have the shaming honest face of Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), would it have worked at all? I suspect not. It would have only been what that man in the Telugu movie said, "You dance, I glance", a formulation Schopenhauer would not have been ashamed of.


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