The Water Cooler
  • For three years we observed the anniversary of 26/11 with tears and rage. This year, strangely, the wails are muted. The remembrances are scant. If anything, the saddest murmurs doing the rounds in Mumbai have come from cricket jingoists mourning India's defeat to England in the Wankhede Test.

    For three years our rage simmered from the fact that we kept in our custody an unwelcome guest who fuelled our vengeful hate by the very news of his presence. As we fed, clothed, medicated and kept Ajmal Kasab alive in his high-security prison cell, we wished him dead with all our hearts. For three years we dangled justice before the world and then, in one swift surprising move, resolved it before further questions could be raised. Those who had expected more prudence from this great democracy were distraught.

    Was it all a travesty, then?

    It mattered not that Kasab was a mere puppet on a string, a souvenir, a prisoner from a war we can never mourn enough. He was ours for the killing, anyway. We

    Read More »from Have we closed the book on 26/11?
  • Do we instinctively enjoy a game more if we are not the players? What is it about cheering from the ringside that eggs us on so much and sets our blood afire? Or is it our natural instinct to turn any public event into a carnival, and in turn, an answer to all our daily problems?

    'Religion is the opium of the people.' It's the most hackneyed quotation of Karl Marx. Sports, movies, and more than anything, politics, are also opiates for mass consumption. The basic requirement is opium. Something to numb the brain so we can black out something; may be everything.

    To forget an empty stomach and the failure to fill it, one can drink cheap country liquor and puke. But even that bottle would cost a few rupees, and the effect would last barely a night. On the other hand, hollering with a mob at a game is free if you climb over the fence, and the effect can linger for weeks.The players can be hero worshipped, gossip about corrupt organizers circulated and enjoyed, replays watched, newspapers

    Read More »from IPL, Presidential Elections and Other Public Festivals
  • Doctor, Soldier, Patriot: Celebrating the life of Dr Lakshmi Sahgal

    By Vinutha Mallya

    Dr Lakshmi Sahgal in her youthThe queue of women, most of them pregnant, kept growing at the clinic in the corner of a narrow street in Aryanagar, Kanpur. It was a day in January 2006, and the morning held a mild chill despite the bright winter sun. I sat at a distance on one of the wooden benches in the veranda. The old house located in a labour colony, which served as a clinic and maternity home, belonged to a bygone era. The veranda was not an ideal waiting room, but the anxious women did not seem to care. I was struck by the obscurity of the setting, where we were all waiting to meet the same woman: the legendary Col (Dr) Lakshmi Sahgal.

    I had to wait until the women, who had come from all over Kanpur and some from nearby Lucknow, had finished their turn. Unlike them, I was there to interview the doctor. Although her staff received me politely, I knew better than to expect to receive any preference in her schedule.

    Then 91, Lakshmi Sahgal had been attending to patients at this clinic since

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  • State of Waste Bengal

    Who said Bengalis love fish and sweets over everything else? Neither Sourav the tragic hero nor SRK the new poster boy tops the list. The one thing that all Bengalis adore, sometimes subconsciously, is self-criticism.

    Let's check out some pet peeves:

    • It's true that Rabindranath Tagore had won the Nobel prize, but it has been stolen.
    •  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was a great patriot, but no one knows exactly how he died.
    • Presidency College has lost its glory, though it's now a University.
    • Young Bengalis — that's anyone between 2 to 45 — don't know enough about Ram Mohan Roy or Swami Vivekananda or Vidyasagar or just about any illustrious Bengali, except, of course, Sourav again.
    • Jyoti Basu and the CPI(M) had made the state a shamsaan, and now Mamata is adding bits of wood to the pyre. 
    • Basically, it's Kaliyug, and the best thing to do is talk about it over tea and a generous helping of oily snacks.

    When one proves conclusively that all Indian states and everyone else in the world too has

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  • The phone rang and it was my mother. "The SMS isn't going through. I don't know what is wrong. You try sending the SMS a couple times and go to their website also", she ordered me across the phone while at her home a thousand kilometres away.

    Mother dearest was talking about 'Satyamev Jayate' and the SMS that Aamir Khan, the show's host, had asked all viewers to send. The text messages will apparently help back his request to the Rajasthan government to set up a fast track court, so that doctors who were caught practicing female foeticide are brought to justice.

    With the first episode of 'Satymev Jayate' telecast, the verdict is out and it's divided. The nation was waiting with bated breath for Aamir Khan's foray into television.  You couldn't miss the show even if you wanted to; such was the promotional blitz before its debut. Aamir's carefully cleared up face looked down at you dauntingly from virtually every billboard and the show's musical jingle never lost an opportunity to ring Read More »from Satyamev Jayate = India's Oprah
  • IRCTC Bookings : The Daily Circus

    On 28th March, I reached Mumbai from New Delhi (via Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata and Jaipur). I was supposed to reach Bangalore from Bhubaneshwar around March 15. The reason for my cross-country railway marathon? Trying to, or rather having the vast courage to, book my railway tickets online from IRCTC. If you are an agent making a living from overcharging tourists, stop reading NOW. And if you don't want to read this long, heart-rending post, a few quick bites before you go away:

    • 6,111 agents have been blacklisted by IRCTC
    • Of them, 4,310 were using multiple user IDs
    • 1,005 have been claiming fraudulent TDRs
    • 2 super-thug agents from Mumbai have been banned by the Railway Ministry
    • Problems related to IRCTC are discussed daily on Consumer Forum sites, Grahak Seva, Cleartrip Forum, National Consumer Complaint Forum, apart from loads of blogs
    • A friend Tweeted, 'Rajnikanth is faster than Intel Processors, but IRCTC can hang Rajnikanth'

    I had gone to Orissa on

    Read More »from IRCTC Bookings : The Daily Circus


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