• Crossborder Punjabism

    Pakistan is constantly on the international info radar with a  terrible troika focus. Terrorism, fundamentalism and floods. But is that all there is?

    Should we be relying on an international media that focuses on what their governments focus on alone? What are the other voices, the other challenges and shifts occurring in a burdened but alive Pakistan? Here is Umair Javed, a Pakistani writer bringing us one such dynamic journey.

    Talagang town is the headquarter of Talagang Tehsil, district Chakwal in Pakistan. Surrounded by barren, limestone hills of the Salt Range, this town of around 70,000 odd residents is located roughly half an hour off Balkasar interchange on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway. Two months ago, during a trip to Mianwali, I had the chance to pass through the town, which like most others in Punjab, was populated on either side of a major road. There were shops, and banks, and Katrina Kaif billboards. There were schools, colleges, and, eerily enough, a gaudily decorated

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  • The former Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, now reported to be dead (see video) gave news editors a lifetime of nightmares with the stubbornly variable spellings of his last name. Variously spelled Qaddafi, Ghadafi, Gadafy and Kadafi, the confusion has not been cleared by the fact that his official website (link broken) spells it "Al Gathafi".

    But don't let such trifles stop you from being a Gaddafi expert. Here are ten cool facts about the late dictator. Flaunt them at will and power your way through a water-cooler conversation.

    Too bad we can't promise you a free return ticket to Tripoli — they aren't exactly in the mood to receive guests there right now.

    Gadhafi captured, possibly killedOfficials in Libya's transitional government say Moammar Gadhafi has been captured and possibly killed in the fall of his hometown but there is no confirmation from the country's most senior leaders. (Oct. 20)

    1. The dictator took his last name from Qadhadhfa, the name

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  • Life is ours, we live it our way… and nothing else matters…

    There would never be truer words than these that emanate from James Hetfield's lips in his oh-so-heavenly baritone. For any teenager this was, and will continue to be, gospel.

    My affair with Metallica began in my early teens, with my then college sweetheart. Of course, that relation didn't last for long but my love for Metallica grew deeper and dearer with every passing replay. Metallica had the very essence that every hot-blooded teen would connect with -- rebellion, despair, betrayal, love, hate, accompanied by legendary guitar solos, timely drumming and perfect lyrics.

    I wouldn't go out on a limb to say Metallica is the best band ever, but it definitely is the founder of thrash metal.

    For all those who've never heard of Metallica, the heavy metal band was formed in October 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield (vocals, rhythm guitar). The band also includes Kirk Hammet, ranked 11th among Rolling Stone's '100

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  • Is Team Anna breaking up? Why are its members getting attacked? Many questions are being asked as their anti-corruption campaign moves into a second, more confrontational phase.

    Two core members have resigned from the anti-corruption think tank, protesting against the partisan political colour that they fear the agitation is taking. They are upset that Anna called for an anti-Congress vote in Haryana, thereby changing the apolitical nature of the agitation.

    Prashant Bhushan was attacked last week, and it was Aravind Kejriwal's turn on Tuesday. If members of a fringe group with Bhagat Singh's name slapped and roughed up Bhushan in Delhi, a stray member of the audience threw a slipper at Kejriwal in Lucknow.

    First Post believes the attacks are coming now because the team has turned political, and once party politics sets in, all its ugliness comes to the surface. So was Anna more respected when he remained an apolitical crusader? And if he continues to remain apolitical, are his

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  • Don't be thrown when Julian Barnes pops into cafeteria conversation. This handy guide will instantly upgrade your Barnes quotient and show off your newly acquired wisdom. Just remember to thank us when you shine. And maybe read a Barnes novel or three when you find the time.

    1. Julian Barnes is an English writer. He is 65 years of age.

    2. He won the Man Booker Prize for 2011 for his novel The Sense of an Ending, which The Guardian described as a "highly wrought meditation on ageing, memory and regret."

    3. He has been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times previously for Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998) and Arthur and George (2005).

    4. On finally winning the Booker, Barnes remarked, "I didn't want to go to my grave and get a Beryl," he said. He was referring to Beryl Bainbridge, the English novelist who was shortlisted five times for the Booker but never won. She received a posthumous Best of Beryl Booker prize. Ironically, Bainbridge had been named among the "50Read More »from Ten things you should know about Julian Barnes
  • Results of four assembly by-polls were announced on Monday, and not one went in favour of the Congress.

    The worst defeat was in Haryana, where the Congress came third, and its candidate lost his deposit. Things couldn't get more humiliating in a state once considered a stronghold of the Congress.

    Team Anna had urged people in Hisar to vote against the Congress to protest against the party not passing the Jan Lokpal Bill. Arvind Kejriwal, a prominent member of the anti-corruption alliance, had described the Hisar election as a referendum on the bill.

    BJP leader LK Advani was quick enough to conclude the results were a warning to the UPA. (His Jan Chetna Yatra, now on, hopes to cash in on the anti-corruption wave across the country, but it is hobbled by Karnataka BJP leaders like BS Yeddyurappa, Katta Subramanya Naidu, and Janardhana Reddy, all of whom are languishing in jail on serious criminal charges. On Tuesday, Advani for the first time distanced himself from Yeddyurappa,

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  • Publications in the West are reporting widely on the indictment of Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri Lankan origin American, for insider trading, but a magazine is talking about what actually did him in: his alleged support for violent Sri Lankan separatists.

    Rajaratnam has just been awarded a 11-year-prison sentence for bribing his way to wealth in stock trading.

    The New York Times says this is the longest term in the US for a crime of this sort.  Vanity Fair describes Rajaratnam as a "formidably mustachioed finance villain."  It writes: "Rajaratnam, one of the few recent public figures whose phones have been legally tapped, was the overlord of a hedge fund called the Galleon Group. He pocketed about $70 million through illegal means. Most of that now belongs to the government."

    In an extensively researched profile (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Raj) of the white collar criminal, Vanity Fair says the FBI spied on him for over a decade before nailing him. The American investigators' interest in

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  • A 127-year-old troupe from Pune put up two shows of a Marathi musical at Ranga Shankara on Sunday. Bharat Natya Mandir's Sangeet Katyar Kalajat Ghusali played to a full house, and drew an audience that loved Marathi and Hindustani music. There were some who could follow neither; they took home an unusual, if lengthy, theatre experience.

    The play is about a long-drawn rivalry between two gharanas, led by Khan Saheb Aftab Husein and Pandit Bhanushankarji. Sadashiv (played by an inspired Hrishikesh Badve) tries desperately to learn from Aftab Husein (maestro-class Charudatta Aphale), who stubbornly refuses to accept him as a disciple.

    Aftab Husein believes his music must remain within his family. Much to his dismay, his nephews aren't passionate about the art, and are always looking for excuses to skip their practice. The naturally gifted Sadashiv uses subterfuge to listen to the ustad's music and absorb its nuances. He is helped by Uma (Swarpriya Behere) and Zarina (Kavita Tikekar), both

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  • The game is up for the Marans. On Monday, as the CBI was raiding their homes and offices, their party, the DMK, was in no mood to rush to their rescue.

    They will now have to fight their battles alone, with no support either from the Karunanidhi family, to which it is closely related, or from the larger political alliance in Delhi that had protected them all these years.

    After the DMK lost power in Tamil Nadu, the Marans' business began feeling the heat from the new dispensation. Soon after assuming power, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa made sure their cable business wouldn't thrive as it used to under a government run by their uncle and cousins.

    The DMK's top leaders remained quiet about the raids in Chennai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Neither Karunanidhi nor his influential sons Stalin and Azhagiri were reacting to the crisis in the Maran family, which owns the Sun TV empire.

    T R Baalu, the former union minister, mumbled something about how the raids were about 'business transactions' and

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  • (Thank you for your order — Flipkart.com)

    Recently, I fulfilled a promise I made to myself when I was a college student — that one day, I would start buying original music CDs. And through the next decade, I kept saying that one day, when I had money, I would actually pay back the artists that I'd stolen borrowed from.

    It was then, with some sense of excitement, that I finally decided to start going legal in October 2011. Truth be told, I could have done it long back — I started earning my own money almost 5 years ago — but like the old saying goes, better late than never. Close to three quarters of a terabyte and torrents of torrents (heh) of FLACs and MP3s later, I finally hit the 'confirm order' button for two CDs that I'd heard in and out on my Cowon.

    I can guarantee you one thing. The respective artists wouldn't have benefited from that 'confirm order' click if it weren't for those illegal downloads in the first place. Oh, no. If a friend of mine hadn't discovered that Australian

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