• 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,

    Read More »from Congress fritters away all by-poll chances
  • 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

    Read More »from What was moustachioed Rajaratnam really up to?
  • 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

    Read More »from Why Piracy is Important to Music
  • Same Difference

    Blessed are those that can make music, for their work falls within the rare combination of two wonderful sets - that which brings joy to the world, and that which cannot be easily produced or replicated except by those with inordinate talent. But even those with copious talent slip-up at times, and there is one transgression in particular that gets my goat. Today, we talk about recycled music.

    I care very little for the morality of the issue itself. Passing off repetition as originality seems to be pretty bad form all around, and that is pretty well established by those who care, for those that don't. No - what bothers me instead is that music is as much a key into one's memory as letters from the past carefully preserved, or photo albums gathering dust suddenly discovered. And when someone comes along and decides to take liberties with that, it all feels rather rude and abrupt.

    At the very least, if liberties are being taken, I'd rather they were fairly generous in nature. And I think

    Read More »from Same Difference
  • There's much rejoicing in Karnataka over the announcement of the Jnanpith for poet and playwright Chandrashekhara Kambara.

    Kambara's work draws on the folk idiom of the Belgaum region, and examines myths, modernity, sexuality, and even contemporary politics in a style rich in music and symbolism. (He is now planning a comedy on the life and times of the bandit Veerappan).

    We bring you a transcript of one of Kambara's lectures, where he talks about how a fear of ghosts and the British provided the inspiration for his early writing.

    My life, my writing
    Chandrashekhara Kambara

    Ghodgeri is our village. The Ghodgeri I came away from still exists. But the village I knew and grew up in does not. Boys of our village now come all the way to Bangalore. We notice many changes in the way they speak and live.

    Belgaum was just a story to me until I actually went there. We were terrified of the place. The British had a camp there. Their army also camped at Gokak, 12 km from our village. The British

    Read More »from The magic of Kambara’s writing
  • 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

    Read More »from Introducing Tomas Tranströmer
  • 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

    Read More »from The Pawar cartoon and netas who can’t laugh


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