Jam jam Jam-K

For a few days now, Youtube has been pushing a lot of TEDx videos at me, one of which is Beatbox Brilliance: TEDxSydney.

I haven’t watched it yet, but Youtube has been doing such a fine job of pushing this, that I had to go and dig out two of my favorite uses of beatboxing for, I guess, comedy.

From Samurai Champaloo:

And from Bombay to Bangkok:

Vijay Maurya (from the Bombay to Bangkok scene) is one of those actors that appear in too few hindi movies given how awesome they are.

This is what I remember

Satya had messaged: “Terry Pratchett is gone.”

It is difficult to explain by what margin Terry Pratchett is my favourite author. On good nights I dream of a world where the dominant religion is based on Terry Pratchett’s books. That feels so wrong — and right, that I hope TP would have found it funny.

By way of starting to explain how obsessed I have been with TP, this is something I had stubbed for a blog post a long time ago, but had made zero progress with.


This story begins with Satya, who once was the rahmaniac who once asked me if I knew what the word beatzophreniac meant.[1]

When we were in college, ever so often, we would ritually take the train to Hyderabad on weekends, and spend hours trying to find, among the tons of old books being offered for sale on the pavement and at second-hand bookstores a few for which we could justify, to ourselves, spending a few tens of rupees on.

In the heat of the Hyderabad day, we would plant ourselves in front of the book seller, eye the books on offer, silently sample the books, silently sample the books, silently sample the books, hide our excitement if we spot a great prize, and eventually shortlist a pile of books to haggle for.

And I swear I remember the heat of the Hyderbad day when I first read Terry Pratchett. We were in front of a seller on the pavement, when Satya passed me a hardcover missing the dust jacket. He might have said something, but I went in unprimed, read to pass my unbiased judgement on the book I had been passed. I opened it to where I figured the story began[2] and read the first page:

They say the world is flat and supported on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle.
They say that the elephants, being such huge beasts, have bones of rock and iron, and nerves of gold for better conductivity over long distances.*
They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains.
No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical question: when millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, and there is no one to hear it, does it ‐ philosophically speaking ‐ make a noise?
And if there was no one to see it hit, did it actually hit?
In other words, wasn’t it just a story for children, to explain away some interesting natural occurrences?
As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of truth in it.
*Not rock and iron in their dead form, as they are now, but living rock and iron. The dwarfs have quite an inventive mythology about minerals.

“Buy it, definitely buy it!”

Though Satya would probably have bought it anyway.

There are a lot of things that I want to talk about. I want to talk about the first page I read, about Nation, about women, about Stephen King and Neil Gaiman and DNA, about my crushing addiction to any fantasy work that even promises to be funny, about god(s)3, about the willingness to discuss sewers and nightsoil and snot, about technology, about the characters mentioned in only a couple of passages that I thought deserved a book, about everything.

But, the thing I can talk about now is how for years since, this, the first encounter, has been the proof of magic for me. That you can find pearls on the pavement. That a chance encounter could trap you in forever.

This is, of course, a true and accurate account of things that happened. However, as it happens, a few weeks ago, Satya and I happened to be in the same city after a few years. And, so we met. At that time, I was under some amount of strain, and essentially keeping myself sane by read a TP book every night.

So, I mentioned the first encounter story to him. Except that he was certain that it had happened at the famous Best Book Stall at Lakdi ka Pool. He remembers Ahmed sir, the human recommender algorithm, telling him, “There is this author, Terry Pratchett, you should try reading him.”

  1. As unwilling then, as I am now, to admit ignorance, I said that I had heard the word used somewhere, but I didn’t quite remember the exact meaning at the moment.
  2. I used to think that the title, the author’s name, the introduction, the preface, the acknowledgement, the table of content, the dramatis personæ, everything other than the story were a waste of good story carrying pages. You know how booksellers used to claim refund for unsold (and about to be destroyed) copies by send back the cover page of paperbacks to the publisher, and how in truly Indian style, new but cover pageless paperbacks were available at a discount from the pavement book sellers: I thought those were brilliant! All the story, and less of the unimportant bits. Plus, it was like a mystery gift hamper.
  3. Lack there of, and the games these non-existent entities play.



I thought I had mentioned my love for Zeb and Haniya’s Laili Jaan during my earlier note on Coke Studio. But I hadn’t.

Anyway, today while watching the Behind the Scene video for the song, I decided to check the original by Ahmad Zahir, the Afghan Elvis. Quite liked it, even though it occasionally feels like an marriage orchestra band is playing the music.

BTW, this is the other song, that I love: the Baloch song, Laila O Laila by Rostam Mirlashari

I could have shared the Youtube link, but there are people arguing whether Sindhis are an ethenic group or not, bringing all the confusing that Indian and Pakistani commentators can bring. And no one needs to read that.

The Coke Studio site had the translation, but one of the really random things that they do when a new season starts is make it impossible to find stuff from the previous seasons.


BTW, IIRC Rohail Hyatt is leaving Coke Studio. Hope it doesn’t implode after he leaves.


Many years ago, I watched an interview of, or perhaps a feature on, a couple who had driven around the world in a car, or done some similar thing. The only thing I remember about it is them taking about an incident that happened after they had been on the road for a while. They stopped one morning to have breakfast and found that the things tasted a little weird. Perhaps they suspected the food, moved on and only later did they realize what had happened. Or perhaps they realized what had happened, as they chewed on the weird tasting food.

They had forgotten to brush their teeth.

I always found that story weird. I could never imagine not brushing my teeth, in the morning at least.

Till today. I have been staying out overnight, getting quite a bit less than my usual quota of sleep at night, waking up earlier than I am used to, and then coming home a few hours before noon. At which point in time, I would change, brush my teeth, and then check my mail/newsfeed while having breakfast. Except that today, I had to check something, so, I went ahead and turned to my mail immediately after getting back home. And by the time I was done with my chore, breakfast was ready.

It was only when I woke up in the evening, to shower, that I realized I had forgotten to brush my teeth.

An infestation

I cleared the spam comment folder about four hours ago.

A couple of minutes ago, I got a notification to moderate a comment (and it was a piece of spam) and there were 16 new spam comments.

So, since I am not sure people read this blog, and certainly don’t comment here, I should probably try recaptcha. Except that meh and not sure it would work.

I could just ignore that spam folder, except that the fact that it exists irritates me. I could just turn off the spam filter, so there is no comment tagged as spam, but that’d be nuts.

Fucking spammers, if there is a god, I hope you all get genital herpes, and may be diarrhea and constipation at the same time.

Reflections of monsters

“You guys know about vampires?” Diaz asked. “You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might seem themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

Junot Diaz.

Pointed there by a quote in this article on whether you could still tell the story of Mary Kom by ignoring Manipur.

What Ella Wheeler Wilcox got right?

While I have used a variety of IMs over the ages, I have usually stuck to one at a time. Given my dedication to gmail, the messenger for the better part of the last decade has been gtalk and, now, its replacement – hangout.

So, unlike the rest of India that has been swept by the tsunami of WhatsApp, I have actively resisted it. Till one day when I had to install it to coordinate with a bunch of friends whom I was meeting after ages.

The problem with WhatsApp is that once people find you, they add you to groups. And while it is fun, like a non-character limited closed twitter group, the groups are given to exchanging forwards that I swear I saw in 2003 on yahoo groups.

As it happened, there was an exchange on the group that was funny, and not brought about by a recycled forward. The problem is every minute or so, I would hear a ping for the notification, and then see:

and then hear another ping, and then see:

and then hear another ping, and then see:

Which is a bit like finding that 20 of the people you follow and decided to do a old style retweet of the same tweet.

Anyway, I was inclined to send a slightly snarky reply signaling my deep lack of LOLness, and I couldn’t think of anything appropriate. There was no CMHO (Crying my heart out) to mirror the LMAO. A casual search on self identified Internet slang search portal offered the imperative CMR/CMAR (Cry me a river) and a few knockoffs (COL, CMAO), but no descriptives like the CMHO that I desired.

So, it seems that you truly cry alone.
Edit: 25th of October

From Paromita Vohra’s reflection on Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend:

Surender Mohan Pathak, a beloved Hindi pulp writer who has written over 270 books and sold over 2.5 crore copies complained about his readers in an interview with Nisha Susan, in Tehelka, because they read nothing else but his books when in fact he wished they would revel in the world of reading in general. “People who don’t read are the same as people who can’t read.”

Edit: 12th of March, 2015
The previous edit should have been here

The problem with works by Brown and James

Five minutes ago, I was trying to sleep, and then I arrived at a strong hypothesis about why the wild success of Dan Brown or E.L. James make me mad.

That is beyond the usual petty jealousy of the me who always has had a vague desire to write, or the criticism about the quality of the writing itself – which doesn’t really count because I haven’t read enough by these two.

I think I am mostly angry with the readers, who seem to behave as if the current favourite has had an uniquely novel concept, or has invented a genre, or has actually invented the novel.

I mean, Da Vinci Code might have been a OKish plot, but did it have any other virtue. The big reveal, well, that had been tried elsewhere. Preacher, IIRC, had the Jesus bloodline as a slightly minor plot point.

And as for Fifty Shades, well I find that dysfunctional and abusive relations between professionally independent women and rich man has been, for some reason, always been popular. The structure is the very staple of M&B/ Harlequin books.

Anyway, as I mention, what I really find irritating is the vacuum within which the readers of these works seem to operate. My first instinct on finding a fascinating work in a new genre is to obsessively hunt for similar works. But, I don’t think most of the readers of Brown and James go on, for example, to read ‘The Story of O’.

So, I am just left with this desire to grind the faces of these readers on the library walls while screaming, ‘Read, you stupid mogrel. You liked that book, didn’t you, why the fuck won’t you read more.’

Edit: 12th of March 2015

From Paromita Vohra’s reflection on Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend:

Surender Mohan Pathak, a beloved Hindi pulp writer who has written over 270 books and sold over 2.5 crore copies complained about his readers in an interview with Nisha Susan, in Tehelka, because they read nothing else but his books when in fact he wished they would revel in the world of reading in general. “People who don’t read are the same as people who can’t read.”