Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Tryst with Philosophy

I have been a deep thinker since childhood, as my biographers would readily vouch. Where ordinary children would bicker over the sharing of a few chocolates, I would think deeply and THEN bicker over the sharing of those chocolates. Naturally, I became a philosopher.

Somehow, I could never get going in the morning. Used to have one hell of a time responding to the alarm clock. I asked my friend, a well read man and an existentialist, for advice. He thought deeply and told me I had better get my sartre fixed. He was right, of course. Even my wife has noticed this lately, and threatened extreme steps. Putting Descartes before divorce, she said. But she is a kind soul. And she Kant do without me.

In my early years, I fancied myself as a philosopher in the mold of Wittgenstein. I made the mistake of telling my colleagues and classmates about it. Ah, the folly and innocence of youth! They called me Half-Witt Genstein for the rest of the course, a blow from which I never recovered.

I even read Kafka, on the recommendation of a cute young thing, who said he kept her up all night. Well, I kept falling asleep over the dreary prose, truth to tell. She thought I might have been reading the Decaf-ka. Perhaps I was. Who is to know? And I never got the chance to keep her up all night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When banks won't lend to banks

This entire business of sub-prime mortgages is sad. Many touching images have emerged.

That of the investment banker having to let the second S-class go because his stock options are no longer valuable enough to pay for both the sea-front condo and the Merc.

The real-estate developer having to hock his Rolex collection to pay the installments on his Learjet.

The finance whiz Wharton MBA having to stand in line for the economy class check-in to Ibiza.

But none so poignant as the recent news story that banks were refusing to lend money to other banks in the US. I brushed the tear from my eye. Let them call me unmanly, but I have a heart.

I could just picture JP Morgan shuffling across to BankAm and sidling up in an ingratiating manner, asking if he could borrow a billion or two for the weekend - returnable as soon as dad's cheque arrives on Monday morning.

BankAm, I could just imagine stiffening ever so slightly and telling JP in a patently fake manner that he would have loved to do just that but mom's insulin has been eating up all the family spare cash. He'd let JP know, BankAm would promise, but don't call me, I'll call you.

And JP would shuffle off, shoulders drooping, wandering hopelessly into the sunset.

If that doesn't make you cry, I don't think anything will.

Monday, September 22, 2008

On asserting Parental Authority

I've been living it up a bit over the last week, flitting in and out of dinners and consuming calories far in excess of licensed capacity. Several of those calories were in the form of beverages from Scotland, which always wakes up the beast in the missus. Consequently, I have been hauled by the scruff of my neck to the gym, from which I was merrily playing hookey on the grounds of too much work. "You shouldn't drink" said the missus at a typical Shenoy breakfast conference. "You tend to talk nonsense". I looked at my sons. They reviewed this comment and posted dissenting judgments. Vyaas, the elder one, usually sides with the ruling junta, unless bribed.

"Yes, Annie. The other day you told everyone that John Abraham joke thrice."

"They laughed all three times", I protested.

"That's because all of you were sloshed" said Sheela, keenly observant as ever.

"Hey, give us a break. We're meeting after like ten years. "

"You have so many old friends you're always meeting someone after like ten years at any given point of time."

I was rapidly losing ground and needed support. I looked at Gautham hopefully.

"Mom, that's not true". The lad was standing by me!

"What's not true?" asked Sheela.

"That Annie talks nonsense when he's had drinks."

" Yeah?" said Sheela, with a hint of menance in her voice. She doesn't appreciate my dragging in the progeny into these conferences. Something about losing parental authority. I care two hoots, frankly. All sensible boys know that their father is a doofus.

"Annie talks nonsense even when he's not had drinks", Gautham completed his sentence.

And scooted before I could clout him a richly deserved one. These kids, I tell you! Maybe it's time to do something about that parental authority bit. But what?......

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mommy, I'm a guest poster

Since most of my readers are deep thinkers it is difficult to guess what they're thinking about at any given moment. But I'm willing to hazard a guess. Upon reading the title to this post, the deep thought uppermost in their minds would be "Huh?".

Time therefore to enlighten the puzzled millions. I have written a guest post on Rads' page.
She invited me to write a post on her page, a move which most prudent people would readily describe as reckless. Luckily, it was one of my more lucid days and I have actually written a deeply researched and sensitive post on a major issue confronting the world, namely the health of the Chief of the Meteorological Office in Mumbai. Future historians will probably rank it with Gilgamesh and the Illiad as an epic. People tell me that Padmalakshmi has been looking for my address, evidently having recognized Salman Rushdie for the dweeb that he is and decided to find herself a better writer.

I know that you must be waiting eagerly to find out what this post is about. I would love to find out too, because I had been sampling a bit of wine for research purposes at the time of writing it. Thus the memory registers are blank so far as the details are concerned.

Well, I guess we'll have to wait for Madam Rads to unleash the beast on us. She has promised to do this on Friday, so till then we will wish her good health (her knee is being operated upon) and continue biting our nails.

Update: Here's the link

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thoughts over tea

Presenting - a blog by Dr. Mahesh Rao,
Mahesh is a polymath who is a qualified doctor, a successful restaurateur, a connoisseur of wine, coffee and tea, pens, watches and muchh more, an accomplished singer and music afficionado and absolutely superb photographer. He tends to be a bit more serious, intense and deep than I can ever hope to be. Which causes me no end of problems because he is married to my wife's twin sister and thus compared to me, to my disadvantage, in every respect. Even when tasting wine, he tends to stick to half a glass while I prefer to taste it by the bottle. In short, he is every thing I could have been, should have been, would have been, except that I'm not.

His only redeeming feature is that he's a totally sweet guy. He goes totally overboard with the hospitality whenever I visit Mysore and is responsible for more of my waistline inches than any other person, including my mom.

So read that blog and tell him that while he might be more talented, Naren is better looking.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rock music - Its part in my downfall

We saw the movie "Rock On" last night. Not the royal "we" as in "we wish to we we" (Queen Victoria to the Keeper of the Royal Chamberpot, 1885) but the "we" as in "we, the missus and I", two jisams but one opinion (the missus's).

But I digress. The movie was nice. Not a classic or anything, though the Times of India critic gave it such a great review that I suspect he wet his pants during the process of writing it. In fact, we (still not the royal "we") watched the movie "A Wednesday" the night before which we (now the royal "we") thought it ("A Wednesday", that is) was the greatest movie we had ever watched in any language including Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam.

What made "Rock On" a good movie for us (the royal "us") was, and this is heresy in Bollywood, that it happens to have a story line and the songs are completely relevant to the story. I know what you're thinking. You are thinking hai ram what is the world coming to and that this is the thin end of the wedge. You echo our (the royal "our") sentiments. But again I digress. Sometimes I get the feeling that I write simply to fill up the page.

Anyway, my point was that the music left me limp. The lads, on the other hand were grooving away to the numbers, imaginary guitar and mike alternately in hand and moving the pelvis in what one strongly suspects is the mating ritual of the orang utan. I thought oh my god, what rot this rock music is. Only sthaayi, no antara. And only one taal, eight beats. And the "virtuoso" guitaring was so elementary any eight year old sitar player would have done it in his sleep. I told this to my sons. They looked at me like I was a minor Biblical prophet and they a couple of Philistines. "Annie!" the elder one reprimanded me. (A foot note is in order here. For obscure reasons, the boys call me "Annie", much to my mortification, and no inducement will make them do otherwise. Add to this the fact that for some obscure reason Victoria's Secret has got it into its head that I am a major potential customer and keep mailing me all the details of its latest designs, strangers rather tend to draw away from me sharply, their worst suspicions having been aroused).

And thus my rock music appreciation classes have started. Today I was initiated into the celestial music of a band named Linkin Park who seem to make most of their music by clanging steel utensils in a close space. My tympani are close to handing in their dinner pail. I plan to slip in a bade ghulam cd into the player at night, but the sentries are too watchful.

Watch this space. Dementia is imminent.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

StokeMarket is going up!

Apologies and Explanation.
1. No, he does not get it from me
2. They held a gun to my head

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Secret World of the Secret Service

(Author's Caveat: The complexity of the following story and the intricacy of its plot might lead the reader to suspect that the author has had one too many. The reader would be right, of course, but still...)

His powers of deduction were extraordinary, which is why the CIA would trust no one else with such assignments. Even his reading of data was legendary. Langley still used it in its "Eavesdropping 101". For instance his interpretation of a lady's "Yes! Yes! Oh, God, Yes!" emanating from the Oval Office one evening in 1995 as evidence of the soundness of the President's draft Economic Proposal is still spoken of in awe.

But the problems facing the government had become a lot more sinister. Just yesterday had come news of a terrible tragedy at a nudist camp in Florida where in a relay race there was some confusion over the exchange of batons and one of the participants was dragged halfway around the track. Surely, the work of the Al Quaida!

And a senior theoretical physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center had been arrested on charges of trying to molest a female graduate student because, as he put it "her bosons gave me a hadron". Could it be a Russian plot?

To top it all, the Vice President had recently tried to shoot a bunch of blameless protons because he heard them go "quark quark", and the news channels were making a big issue of it.

And now this. News had come in from Afghanistan that Osama was going to blow up the world. But how was he going to do it? Was he planning to buy a Nuclear Device from the Russian Mafia? Was he going to use biological weapons from the North Koreans? Surely not an army of Suicide Bombers? He knew it could be none of these. They had all been tried before and the Agency had ears everywhere.

Osama was smart. And logical. You had to out-think him. But how? How? HOW?

Reclining with a bourbon in his living room, his finely tuned senses picked up movement behind the door......

He stole into the bedroom with the stealthiness of a cat and caught the spy planting the bug. Twisting her arm in a smooth movement, he held her neck in a vice like grip. "Oooooh! Oooooh! OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!" she moaned, puzzling him. Then he realized he had sprayed Axe deodorant that evening. "Ha! Now she will tell me all!" he thought, and made her sniff his armpit.

Moaning, she collapsed, losing all resistance. "Mercy! I'll tell you anything!" she said.

"Tell me how they're going to do it" he demanded.

"Gasp", she gasped, "They're ..." and told him all.

His brow furrowed, he stared blankly into the distance. Who would believe him that Osama wanted to blow up the world with a giant air compressor?

Friday, September 5, 2008

And now, some devotional music!

Emboldened by the kind reception given to him by hordes of listeners, hordes here being defined as any number larger than 7, Panditji felt moved to sing the devotional songs he learnt in his extensive travels across the country.

The first one, "Bhole Bhole" was picked up in North India, somewhere in the hills. While Panditji realises that his musical abilities may not do justice to the composition, he feels sure that the intensity of the lyrics will carry the poets true meaning to the listener's soul.

The second composition, "Jhoot Bole" is by an old college friend of Panditji who theorized that even common film songs can become sublime if rendered with feeling. Sadly, Panditji's emotions overflowed towards the end of that rendition which might, in the eyes of the purist, detract from sheer musical merit of the composition. The listener is requested to condone this lapse.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pandit Narendra Sings Raaga Bachana

In a rare gem of a recording, discovered by our diligent audiophiles, the famous Pandit Narendra sings the complex Raaga Bachana.

Said to have been composed by Mian Tansen himself, the raaga is sampoorna in both the ascent and the descent. It was recently made famous by Pandit Ranbeer Maharaj, disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj and a well known exponent of the "Raas Leela - Adhunik" style of dancing, who danced to it in chaste classical style.

Now, without further ado, we present the Panditji himself. The listeners are requested to excuse the poor quality of the recording and the absence of accompanying musicians. The former, because Panditji is given to an unfortunate affliction called "the giggles" which makes serious musical renditions difficult for him and the latter because Panditji's son Vyaas, though an accomplished keyboard player, refused point blank to aid him in what he termed "monkey business".

The present generation, we tell you!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little Known Facts #2 - The US Olympic Relay Team and Hu Jintao

In an interesting revelation, Judge Charles Carter Lee, Chef de Mission of the US Olymic contingent to Beijing, told reporters that Hu Jintao, Paramount Leader of The Peoples Republic of China, the country best known for its intellectual freedom and supply of finely crafted products to Messrs. WalMart of Arkansas, can speak fluently in the colloquial "English" spoken in the United States.

Hu, a keen follower of American Sport, especially Track and Field, asked to be briefed regarding the US delegation to Beijing, concerned that simmering discontent over his country's sensitive and democratic handling of Tibet might affect participation in the Olympic Games.

Judge Lee, who speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently, went to the Great Hall Of The People Who Did Not Perish Under Chairman Mao to meet Hu. After the usual diplomatic preliminaries, ("The United States of America respects the Territorial Integrity of China and recognizes its inalienable right over Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, South Korea, The Japanese Kuriles and eastern Alaska. Oops, and Great Britain and Northern Ireland") Hu asked about the sprinters, and requested Judge Lee to speak in "English", though he himself replied in Chinese.

Judge Lee confessed that while the US sprinters were still among the greatest in the world, they were being outclassed by the Jamaicans, especially a young lad named Bolt. Even in the 4x100 relay, things were far from certain.

"The team composition is a bit weakened." Lee said. "The men are running without Dix"

A rattled Hu is reported to have told Lee "You've gotta be shittin me!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Laughed my beast of burden off

I don't know where my brats get all this stuff, but here's something that had me laughing real hard.