• Introducing Tomas Tranströmer

    Tomas Tranströmer, Nobel Laureate for literature, 2011. A Swedish poet born to a teacher-journalist couple in 1931, here are ten things you and I may not know about TT. Well known in literary circles to walk the word mile from being deeply alive to nature's hisses and human misses, via the Swedish landscape. Onto a darker void of questioning, a vertigo of 'unsentimental cool'th . Widely traveled, turn of the century man whose first published collection, at the age of 23, was a Swedish hit. He went on to use his academic training as a psychologist, working at a juvenile prison. And write. Meanwhile jugaadu Indians have suitably discovered a connection. (Did you read the one about Steve Job's Apple logo being inspired by an Uttarakhandi baba who gave apples for prasad?) Right.

    Opinions on his body of work and the award vary from private ecstasy of well known contemporary poets writing in English to wait-a-minute-WHO-is-this? Always fun to hear the Nobels go to the Europeans too

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  • A cartoon featuring Sharad Pawar has caught the attention of the world after the police tried to browbeat its creator into taking it off the Net.

    Satish Acharya's cartoon of Pawar satirises the Maharashtra politician's declaration of wealth at just Rs 12 crore.

    Pawar, who heads the Nationalist Congress Party, is believed to be far wealthier than his mandatory official declaration suggests. He is also a cricket administrator. Pawar and his family have been linked to major scandals, including those relating to Adarsh Housing Society, Lavasa, and 2G spectrum allocation.

    Satish depicts Pawar as a pole dancer showing only so much, with lots remaining hidden.

    A senior inspector from the Mumbai cyber branch called up Satish, who now works from Kundapura in coastal Karnataka, to persuade him to take the cartoon off his blog.

    The cartoon remains on the Net. It first appeared in Mid Day, but ran into opposition only after it was shared online.

    Satish has won support from thousands of admirers on

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  • The World Remembers

    Today, the world across, there is shared sorrow in the passing of Steve Jobs. A legend in his own time, Barack Obama ranked him among the greatest of America's innovators, a man who exemplified the spirit of ingenuity, "Brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it." In a round-up of tributes from CEOs, friends and contemporaries, it is inescapably clear that his name will be remembered with the greats, not just as a visionary who instrumented quantum leaps in technology and design, but as a man who lived a life so full, that his legacy will continue long after he is gone.

    As we pay our respects, we bring you some of the best of the web on Steve Jobs:

    In this Playboy interview with a young Steve Jobs, barely 30, he shines through as a true visionary, predicting the depths of possibility, unimaginable at the time. His prophecy for the personal computer is unnervingly accurate, "It can be a writing tool, a communications

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  • Manipur – Where petrol comes in mineral water bottles

    Kishalay Bhattacharjee

    Manipur BlockadeManipur Blockade

    Every time I try to write about Manipur without stereotypes I am confronted by the situation there which denies the narrative of a state that strives for excellence, of Mary Kom, and medals galore.

    My tours to the state over the last decade have recorded a people that have learnt to live with conflict and isolation. A third of the year sees blockades, shutdowns and curfew. Life goes on.

    Last year a marathon sixty-eight-day economic blockade seemed like the threshold. This year, another sixty-days-and-still-running blockade seems just another ritual in black humor.

    Manipur, a state on the Indo-Myanmar border, can be reached by three highways: One through Nagaland, a second by South Assam in Barak Valley, and a third again via South Assam and through Mizoram. The road through Nagaland is fraught with militant threat even when it is open to traffic. The other highway, which cuts through Meghalaya and is landslide-prone, is not safe either. All the highways are now

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  • A kilolitre of tears

    (Or a  dummy guide  on why the Delhi  powers that be cannot hear the common man in Manipur, 2005, 2010, 2011 )

    (Petrol selling in mineral water bottles on the black market)

    (Onions, potatoes being sold straight off the lorries)

    Some 2011 prices may be inconsistent with daily variances in official rate lists in both capital cities . But probably not as inconsistent as  the willful opening of the three highway entry points  that Manipur depends on. Manipur has no state transportation network to speak of, so reliance on private vehicles is heavy and be it petrol, kerosene, etc., it's been a jerrycan life.

    (How people protect themselves on these burning highways)

    A final word from a Manipuri many Indians will be familiar with.

    "A litre of petrol at Rs.200 in the black market and a cooking gas cylinder for Rs.1,500 or more... After two months of a blockade in Manipur, world boxing champion Mary Kom says she's at her wits end trying to balance training for the Olympics with the slow process

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  • In Manipur we are all Neros, fiddling away

    Debabrata Roy Laifungbam in Imphal

    Manipur BlockadeManipur Blockade

    This unacceptable, inhuman situation has been imposed in Manipur annually for some years now, like a feast to some despairing saint. The blockade, unlike international blockades, is confined to the national highways. While there is the question of the legality of such an action as a form of peaceful democratic action or protest, this remains a tinderbox of a political tool.

    Highway robbery?

    The term "highway robbery" refers to a payment you have no choice but to make there and then (i.e. no bargaining, just a total handover of all that you have).

    The punishment for robbery with violence was by hanging in the Elizabethan era; it was considered a capital crime. The public national highways to Manipur have been, for decades, the focus of targeted robbery in many forms. The highways run through many villages and lands inhabited by peoples of different ethnicity. There have been innumerable incidents of violence and fatalities on these roads. Policing of

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  • Micky Correa and the Big Band in the Sky

    Susheel Kurien

    Micky Correa, the Sultan of Swing, the undisputed leader of Big Band history in India, passed away September 22. On September 26, he would have turned 98 – an incredible journey that eludes most of us. In his case, though, the journey was even more special, having been carried on the wings of music, all his life, with a passion, a dedication and a talent that is fondly remembered.

    “The music has stilled for Micky Correa just two years short of the century he so wanted to celebrate – ‘like Sachin Tendulkar,' he quipped to students he so brilliantly taught to hit just-right chords and riffs,” wrote Meher Marfatia in the Mumbai Mirror.

    Micky's career was almost legendary, with a longevity that is cherished both by his fans in Bombay, indeed from all over India, and by those who got to know him from visits to the Taj Hotel where he was resident for almost 25 years. His musicianship continued well into his life, with loyal students who continued to seek his teaching through the

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  • When I was an adolescent, I spent a disproportionate amount of time lying on my bedroom floor listening to music and reading an album cover/sleeve, which usually had much more on it than just the lyrics and who did what on which tracks. Most bands turned their sleeves into art forms.  CDs and downloads just can't do that. I was in school and I remember what a big deal getting a new cassette was and how excited I was to be able to shop for them. I had a tiny portable player that I went to sleep with listening to one cassette or the other.

    When I was 15, I learnt about Crowded House and Phil Collins. Undeniably unhip, though not at the time, but they were single-handedly responsible for the music enthusiast I am today. The finest time in my life as a music fan was the short-lived period after I'd seen a video of Phil Collins playing "In the Air Tonight" for the first time. I combed through music stores, trying to find all the songs performed by him and his earlier band, Genesis. I didn't

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  • The arrest of Sanjiv Bhatt, Gujarat's top policeman, shows how politics and policing are intertwined in India, and what happens when an officer breaks ranks and speaks out against his bosses.

    No one is in doubt that Chief Minister Narendra Modi wants IPS officer Bhatt cornered. Bhatt is a witness in three critical cases, with Modi being accused No 1 in one of them. Modi allegedly allowed violent mobs to target Muslim families after 58 Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive in Godhra. The riots that followed claimed some 2,000 lives.

    Bhatt is now in judicial custody, and his plight shows how difficult life can be for whistle-blowers. He was in a senior position when the riots broke out, and has been saying Modi told the police the rioters should be allowed to vent their anger. (This he said in an affidavit to the Supreme Court).

    The arrest has upset many, including Anna Hazare. "'What Narendra Modi has done is wrong. It is not good for democracy in the country," the anti-corruption crusader

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  • Thyagaraja gets a pop tweak

    Uday's Fusion Thyagaraja
    Rs 99

    This is an album of six Thyagaraja compositions sung by a chorus directed by Uday (the album doesn't tell us much about him).

    Titled Fusion Thyagaraja, it presents concert standards in a style it calls 'fusion'. Thyagaraja (18th century) is the most widely performed composer in south Indian classical music. With Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri, he constitutes the revered trinity of Carnatic music.

    All listeners of Carnatic music would be familiar with the compositions Uday has chosen for this album. The fusion bit comes in the way the orchestra is arranged, rather than in the way the compositions are sung. In fact, the compositions are, for the most part, sung straight, as any classical musician would. The twist comes with the conventional Carnatic accompaniment of tamboora, mridangam and violin making way for a keyboard-led arrangement, with occasional interludes of the flute (Srinivas), violin (Tyagaraju P), and mridangam, kanjira and

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