Sunday, 31 December 2006

Bachelor's Soup Noodles, Versions 1 and 2

A couple of recipes I perfected years ago. :)

Version 1

• Make up some instant soup. Any soup. Doesn't matter. Follow instructions on pack.
• As the soup cooks, throw in a packet of Maggi noodles (making sure to remove them from the packet first), and a chopped up tomato.
• Simmer for two minutes. Don't let the noodles absorb all of the soup.
• Serve in soup dish. Or eat out of the pan.

Version 2
A later refinement, for when you have more time on your hands.

• Pick up some cooked kababs from the nearest roaside stall. Keep aside.
• Chop up a tomato or three.
• Pour yourself a drink. This is hard work, and you've earned it.
• Perhaps two onions too. And maybe a few pods or garlic.
• Dump the onions and garlic into a frying pan with a little oil. Add a salt to taste and BP levels. If you like your food spicey, you may want to chop in a chilly or sprinkle on some of that red masala powder, or whatever else comes to hand.
• Fry on a low flame till the onions begin to turn translucent. Remove from flame and take out most of the mix. Put the rest back on the flame and fry till the onions turn crisp. Set aside.
• Sip your drink. Go on, pour another.
• Take the lightly fried onion add the diced tomato, fry for a bit, stirring now and then.
• Throw in the kababs. It really doesn't matter what kind you've bought, but if it's a sheekh, you should cut it into smaller pieces. Cover the pan.
• Pour another drink. Sip slowly.
• When your finely-tuned instincts (honed by past sad experiences) and bubbly noises tell you you've cooked all the germs to death, remove from flame.
• Put a few cups of water into a saucepan. Nope, not that. That's your drink.
• Boil water. Get packet of instant soup powder. Tomato for choice, but anything else will do. Follow the instructions on the pack for cooking time.
• If you have any dried herbs or stuff like that, toss some in.
• Break in packet(s) of Maggi Noodles.
• Let the noodle-soup mixture simmer for a couple of minutes.
• Dump the onion-tomato-kabab mix in. Stir for another minute.
• Let cool.
• Have another drink while you're waiting.
• Oops. One drink too many. The food's gone cold.
• Remember the crispy brown chopped onions and garlic you set aside? Sprinkle that over the noodles just before you eat. It will make you feel very professional. Garnish and all.
• Eat. Deeyamn! It tastes great cold too! You're good, Griffin. You deserve a drink!

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Sihuañu’u Ejaërepa aide’ose’ere

It’s Christmas, so it’s mandatory
To send out greetings old and hoary.
So before them church bells stop chiming
I shall attempt some cheery rhyming.
(Sure, free verse could do as well;
But we are, um, well, traditional
In some matters. Though we retain the
Right to go back on that position.)

As per Petrarch, we start the sextet
With a volta.But he’d be vexed at
Our scorning a-b-b-a rhyme so
We defect to Shakespeare! Ho ho ho!

Which leaves us just enough time to say
Merry Christmas! (Darn, shoulda sent this yesterday.)

*

Sunday, 10 December 2006

It's not a Nanny State. It's a desperately greedy one.

Bala just pointed me to a TOI article that tells us about our noble Govt moves to cut off phoneys in Net telephony. Apparently they think they need to make more money of us net users.
After blogs and websites, the government is planning a clampdown on BPOs and KPOs over, what it feels is, illegal use of internet telephony.

It is giving final touches to a proposal under which ITeS companies must furnish the names of authorised service providers from whom bandwidth and internet telephony minutes have been taken. The companies will also have to give an undertaking that they will not use the services of unlicensed foreign service providers such as Net2Phone, Vonage, Dialpad, Impetus, Novanet, Euros, Skype and Yahoo.


As per Department of Telecommunications' (DOT) estimates, these unlicensed service companies provide 30 million minutes of internet telephony per month to corporates, call centres and BPOs in the country.

According to official sources, foreign players such as Skype, in addition to disturbing the level-playing field for bonafide licensees, were also causing great revenue loss to the government as they did not pay the 12% service tax and 6% revenue share on internet telephony.
Now, tell us, since we're already paying taxes via the rates we pay our ISPs to use their services? The government is already making its kick on it. And how would they do this, we wonder?

Bala says 'It'd be interesting to see how they can "block" or even "detect" Skype." So we said to him, 'They seem to be talking about comp-to-phone type stuff. Wonder if they will—or can—target comp-to-comp?' To which Bala said 'They can block voip traffic en masse at ISPs. But it'd be difficult to identify pc-to-phone calls."

Oh yes. They've added the perfect little thingy to get the attention of our nannys in Parliament.
Sources said DoT was keen to implement this move on security grounds too. Foreign service providers could be a "serious security threat as they did not come under any Indian regulator and policy framework," they added.

[..]

Once this proposal is implemented, the government, in case of an emergency, would be able to trace details of all internet telephony minutes. This is because, when minutes are purchased from authorised players, the company is mandated to provide any data pertaining to the use of internet telephony like call detail record, if required by the security agencies.
Oh look, it's the ISP's posteriors that are on fire:
The government move, when implemented, will fulfil a long-pending demand of internet service providers (ISPs). Internet Service Providers Association of India president Rajesh Chharia said: "It is essential that the government seeks this undertaking from call centres as these foreign service providers do not possess the requisite licences as mandated by the Government of India for Indian ISPs."


Well, what's your take?

Northward ho!

We shall be away for a bit. Y'all be good now. Irregular blogging resumes.. oh, when we feel like it.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Global Voices Summit, Delhi '06

Had this in Drafts for ages, but didn't get around to posting. Stoopid us. Anyway. Here you are:

I'm attending the Global Voices Summit in Delhi!
How can we use the Internet to build a more democratic, participatory global discourse? How can we create a more inclusive conversation about what is happening on our planet, and how human beings in different parts of the world are impacting each other in countless ways we don’t realize every day?

This year we also hope to address two further questions:
• How do we bring more unheard, ignored, or disadvantaged voices into the global online conversation?
• How do we help people speak and be heard - even when powerful people try to stop them from doing so?

WHO: Global Voices editors, contributors, community members, interested bloggers and journalists. Basically, anybody who is interested in what it means for media, geopolitics, and global society when the whole world starts talking online.

WHEN: 9am-5:30pm IST, Saturday December 16th, 2006

(A smaller private planning meeting will be held for GV editors and authors only on Sunday the 17th.)

HOW: If you’d like to join us, please add your name to the sign-up wiki here. UPDATE: Sign-up is now full, but you can add your name to our waiting list or participate remotely.

WHERE: At the Indian Habitat Centre

ONLINE: If you can’t make it in person, please join us online via webcast and live chat. We will be posting more information on this page about how to do so as the time approaches

SATURDAY SCHEDULE:

9-10am: Overview: what Global Voices has accomplished to date

10:00-10:10 - QUICK COFFEE!!

10:10-12:00 - Outreach, starting with the case of India: how do we expand blogging and online/mobile citizens’ media from being an activity of the elites to include the voices of the less privileged and rural communities?


12:00-1:30 - LUNCH on site with “breakout groups” (details TBA)

1:30-3:00 - Language and translation: This flows nicely from outreach: what are the best way to translate back and forth so that people writing/speaking in one language can be read and heard by speakers of other languages? This session would provide specific examples about what has worked so far, what hasn’t, and some ideas for what might be done in the future to promote more communication across language groups.

3:00-4:30 - Technology tactics: What technologies and tools are most suited for bringing a more diverse range of people - ethnically, linguistically, economically, geographically - into the citizens’ media community? Also, what tools are needed for people who want to speak but whose governments try to prevent them from doing so?

4:30-5:30 - wrap-up

The GV post.

T-Tag:

Thursday, 7 December 2006

But aren't them emissions flammable?

An American Airlines plane made an emergency landing in Nashville after passengers reported the smell of sulphur from burning matches.

The matches were found on the seat of a woman who had attempted to conceal the odour of flatulence with the matches, Nashville airport authorities said.
The rest, on the Beeb.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Pico, Pico, Pico

Pico Iyer: On Travel and Travel Writing
Two decades after boarding a plane for the trip that would yield "Video Night in Kathmandu," Pico Iyer talks to Matthew Davis about fact and fiction, books he wishes he hadn't written and his humble beginnings as a travel writer.
[more]


Pico Iyer on Travel Writing
A while back I was in Larry Habegger's Master Class for Travel Writers, and Pico Iyer came to talk with us about travel writing. I recorded the conversation, and am publishing a small part of it here, with Larry's and Pico's permission.
[more]


The Nowhere Man
The transcontinental tribe of wanderers is growing, global souls for whom home is everywhere and nowhere. Pico Iyer, one of the privileged homeless, considers the new kind of person being created by a new kind of life.
[more]

You know you're spending way too much time online when..



..seeing this at 4.43 a.m. makes you feel like you have no one to talk to.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Community is the new blog, anyone?

Everyone's bulding communities online these days. Including, it must be confessed, a blogger not unconnected with this blog, who is ambitiously building several of the little tykes.

So, all ye communitists, here are a few insights from Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr.
The interesting thing about acquisitions of this kind is that you can't just suddenly build a community. You can't just go out and replicate all of the features and functionality of something you've seen, it doesn't really work that way.

The most difficult part is not the technology but actually getting the people to behave well. When first starting the community the Flickr team were spending nearly 24 hours online greeting each individual user, introducing them to each other and cultivating the community. After a certain point you can let go and the community will start to maintain itself, explains Caterina. People will greet each other and introduce their own practices into the social software. It's always underestimated, but early on you need someone in there everyday who is kind of like the host of the party, who introduces everybody and takes their coat.
The rest of the interview on .net magazine is here.

German engineering in da house, ja!

The VW—sorry, Vee Dub—Unpimp Your Ride commercials.






[Via email from Sujoy Mukherjee]

Friday, 24 November 2006

Trading Places - an open writing exercise

Silly us. We forgot to cross-post this here.

As writers, we frequently use our passion for—and skill with—words in support of the causes and values we believe in strongly. We write strongly-worded essays, earnest poems, emotional protest songs, petitions to governments, sermonising emails, vituperative blog posts..

But how often do we take the time to really understand the other side of the debate? To get into the skins of those misguided souls who hold views diametrically opposed to ours?

This exercise seeks to get you to do just that. You may find that there are valid points on both sides of the line in the sand. You may find flaws in your own logic. Insh'allah, you will find a middle ground, a space where conversations can happen, not shouting matches and exchanging insults.

But that's not the only reason why you should try this exercise. It could also help you with your craft. When you write about a negative character (-: one evidently very unlike the rational, kind, sweetness-and-light-spreading person you are :-) this could help you give that character depth, it could get your reader to see that world view as valid, it could make your writing more convincing.

So here are the guidelines.

Pick a topic on which you have very strong views. Write about it. From the other side of the fence. No restictions on genre or style. It could be a poem extolling child labour. A monologue from a necrophiliac. An essay in favour of stronger government controls if you're a libertarian (or a paean to free markets of you're not). A short story where the protagonist is a violent sociopath. And so on.

If you are a Caferati member, do come and leave your piece in the exercise thread, and come back here to leave a link to the post (that's the one you get when you click on the "#" symbol next to your post title) in the comments.

For those of you who are not part of Caferati (hmph): if you have your own web space, post it there, with a link to this post, and come leave a link and a small introduction to the piece here, in the comments.

And if you do not own online real estate, please feel free to post your entire contribution here in the comments.

I'll update this post with direct links as well.

Added on 20th November

The idea is to write postively about something you'd normally write negatively about.

To stretch your imagination to encompass a world view that you despise, ridicule or just don't believe in.

To write convincingly from the perspective of a person who is very unlike you.

Some examples.

Are you anti-terrorism? Then you could try writing something that glorifies it. Perhaps a story about how terrorists are created, from the point of view of a young adult who has just become one. Maybe it's a poem that invites participation in a violent revolution.

If you're in favour of a government banning XYZ television channel, then your piece could make the case against government control. It could be an essay. It could be a piece of flash fiction that dramatises the point.

Are you homophobic? Write a letter to the Prime Minister asking for legislation to legalise gay marriage.

Do you think the moderators of this forum are power-mad despots? Then your piece could be a hymn sung by a fictional - yet entirely believable - person who lights agarbattis in front of our photographs every day, thrice a day.

No, don't write both sides of the story. Write only the side that is, in your opinion, diametrically opposite to the one you'd support normally write in favour of. We will take it on trust that the point of view you espouse in this exercise is something you genuinely don't believe in, subscribe to, or endorse.

Here's an example, a love story by Pawan Sony that I'm (-: reasonably :-) sure is not a fictionalisation of his real life preferences.

Clearer now, I hope?

P.S. I'd particularly welcome feedback from those who choose to participate in this exercise. It would be interesting to hear how easy or difficult it was for you. And whether this altered your thinking in any way.

Please go to the original post to participate. Comments welcome here, though.

NewTailBlog

A lovely idea, worthy of being passed around, from Confused of Calcutta.

Excerpt (but read the rest of the post too, as well as the previous one, which prompted this):
Every now and then, choose a blog that, in your opinion, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Introduce it to your community. Keep the intro short. Tag it NewTailBlog.

How often should you do it? Up to you. No rules.

Which blogs should you pick? Up to you. No rules.

Let the tags do their work. Let the blogosphere do its work.

And see what happens.
Here's the tag
<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/NewTailBlog" rel="tag">NewTailBlog</a>
Go forth and get some NewTail.

And check out the tag on Technorati to see who other people are recommending.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

More on Esha..

..who we blogged about a week-and-a-bit ago.

Nidhi has been busy, and has begun putting together a site: Esha - The Braille Place. Please go see. It's a work in progress, so we're sure suggestions would be welcome.

P.S. Nidhi and Esha have also been in the TOI this past Sunday.

Saturday, 18 November 2006

The World Game

Can the world meet on one web page?

Is it possible that at least one person from every country in the world will visit a specific web page?

You can make it possible by using your internet ingenuity and personal connections.

Find people who live in countries that are still on the list down below.

Send them the link to this page using email, instant messaging, blogs, forums and smoke signals.

The first time someone from a country visits this page, the name of the country moves from the left column to the right column.

The first person from a country that visits this page gets a special digital gift (see example) and a chance to sign his/her name with a link.

Even if you are not the first visitor from your country, you can also sign your name and add a link. Your name and link will appear next to your country.

Have fun! This is the only purpose of this game.

This is not a hacking game. Please be polite. Thanks.
And the countries not covered as of this moment (so send the link around if you happen to know folks who live in any of them):

Africa
• Eastern Africa
Burundi Comoros Djibouti Eritrea Ethiopia Kenya Madagascar Malawi Mauritius Mayotte Mozambique Reunion Rwanda Somalia United Republic of Tanzania Zambia
• Middle Africa
Cameroon Central African Republic Chad Congo or Democratic Republic of the Congo Equatorial Guinea Gabon Sao Tome and Principe
• Northern Africa
Algeria Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Sudan
• Southern Africa
Botswana Lesotho Namibia Swaziland
• Western Africa Benin Burkina Faso Cape Verde Cote d'Ivoire Gambia Guinea Guinea-Bissau Liberia Mali Mauritania Niger Senegal Sierra Leone Togo

Americas
• Caribbean
Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda Aruba Bahamas Barbados British Virgin Islands or United States Virgin Islands Cayman Islands Dominica Grenada Guadeloupe Haiti Martinique Montserrat Netherlands Antilles Puerto Rico Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Trinidad and Tobago Turks and Caicos Islands
• Central America
Belize Costa Rica Guatemala Honduras Panama
• South America
Bolivia Chile Colombia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) French Guiana Guyana Paraguay Suriname
• Northern America
Bermuda Greenland

Asia
• Central Asia
Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan
• Eastern Asia
Democratic People's Republic of Korea Macao Special Administrative Region of China Republic of Korea
• Southern Asia
Bangladesh Iran, Islamic Republic of Maldives Nepal Sri Lanka
• South-Eastern Asia
Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Lao People's Democratic Republic Myanmar
• Western Asia
Georgia Lebanon Occupied Palestinian Territory Qatar Syrian Arab Republic Yemen

Europe
• Eastern Europe
Belarus
• Northern Europe
Latvia
• Southern Europe
Albania Andorra Croatia Holy See Malta San Marino The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
• Western Europe
Monaco

Oceania
• Australia and New Zealand
Heard Island and McDonald Islands Norfolk Island
• Melanesia
Fiji New Caledonia Papua New Guinea Solomon Islands Vanuatu
• Micronesia
Guam Kiribati Marshall Islands Micronesia, Federated States of Nauru Northern Mariana Islands Palau
• Polynesia
American Samoa Cook Islands French Polynesia Niue Samoa Tokelau Tonga Tuvalu

[Link via Confused of Calcutta. And Gentle Readers who have read the updated version of this post will find a familiar name nestled next to the entry for India in the left right column.]

Friday, 17 November 2006

..read the credits in a style of my choosing..

Those of you on slow connections.. move along now, nothing to see here. And the folks who are peering at this through feedreaders wondering WTF all that blank space is all about, sorry, but you'll have to come to the blog to see these. Bloglines and such don't seem to show YouTube vids.

Still here? Righty-oh, then.

Where were we? Yes, we chanced to day upon a bunch of clips from what is probably our favourite TV show of all time, Whose Line Is It Anyway. The original Brit version, we hasten to add, with Clive Anderson hosting, which was far superior, IOHO, to the American adapt with Drew Carey. If you have only seen the US version, you will find some familiar faces here—Greg Proups, Colin Mockery, Ryan Styles—but you'll also see Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery, John Sessions, Mike McShane, Jim Sweeny, Steve Steen.

All of these, by the way, are from one YouTube user, Betise, who I have bookmarked, because s/he has, wait for it, 163 clips uploaded. And it looks like we're not gonna get any work done for a bit.

Right then, here we go. A special edition of this blog, featuring wall to wall Whose Line Is It Anyway. Got your popcorn?

The last playing of Authors (season 5, episode 7). One of the games that the US producers dropped. Probably, wethinks, because they imagined the American viewer doesn't read.


Jim, Steve, Tony and Mike doing Scenes From A Hat (season 5, episode 7).


"The World's Worst" Step. Jim, Steve , Tony and Mike giving examples of the worst Hamlet auditions. (season 5, episode 7).


Scene to music - WL UK s5e1


Bartender. Another game the US dropped.


Gospel. Ditto. Or rather, replaced by Hoedown, which wasn't bad, but got monotonous.


Josie, Tony, Mark and Mike do an American musical


Party Quirks


Film and Theatre Styles


Authors again


Helping Hands


"Things that went wrong" Heh.


Right. Now you go read our blogroll in the style of .. a Jhalak Dikhla Ja quarter finalist.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Tenzin Tsundue

Indian Government Gags Tibetan Activist In Lead Up To Hu Visit
Posted by Matt Browner Hamlin
It’s hard for me to capture the absurdity of what follows. Tenzin Tsundue, famed Tibetan activist in India, has been restricted to within the city limits of Dharamsala and is being guarded by eleven police officers around the clock. He has committed no crime and is under no suspicion of any dangerous activities. Yet the Indian government has declared that he will be deported to Tibet - a country that he has never lived in - if he leaves Dharamsala during the period of Chairman Hu Jintao’s visit to India.
More, including a press release, and the letter from the police, at Tibet will be free.

DesiPundit is also tracking the story. And the Acorn has a POV and some links. As does Amardeep Singh .

The weird bit is—as many of the posts we read have observed—that aside from The Telegraph, Indian media does not seem to have picked up on this yet (only four results when we last checked).

Tsundue says, in his prize-winning 2001 essay (reproduced here) that he is technically not an Indian citizen.
"My Registration Certificate (my stay permit in India) states that I'm a foreigner residing in India and my citizenship is Tibetan. But Tibet as a nation does not feature anywhere on the world political map."
He was born in Manali, studied in Himachal Pradesh, Madras, Ladakh and Mumbai, and has lived here all his life. So, while we are not legal experts by any stretch of the imagination, that should give him some rights, hm?

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

And on the drums..



Totally cool drumming. Some fun voice-and-drums at the beginning, and it ends with, erm, a great, ah, drumroll. [Link from Manisha Lakhe.]

And here's another one, via the YoutTube page for the first vid:

Contextual pop-ups

Amit was riffing about contextual advertising in real life today. Wethinks he needs to see this first:

Popups Must Die

Caferati Listings Edition 2 is out

In this issue:

1. BBC World Service Radio Playwriting Competition.
2. Blabberwocky, a student magazine, invites contributions.
3. Breakaway Books Writing Contest
4. DesiLit Magazine's open call for submissions
5. Wanted: Intern for Literature, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2007.
6. The Jaipur Literature Festival, Jaipur
7. The Kala Ghoda Festival, Bombay

To read go here. (You must be a subscriber to the list and logged in to Googlegroups to read. Subscription is free, and does not require moderator approval. Please see this page for more information about Caferati Listings.)

Monday, 13 November 2006

Powered by blogging

Some time early this year, we stumbled on Confused of Calcutta—how, we don't recall. We did remember the URL, though, because it's kinda catchy, and we liked the little homage to old-style sign-offs to Letters to the Editor. Of course it's also a well-written blog, and has some really lucid, insightful thinking aloud happening. We meant to tell DD and Nilanjana about the URL—they have a Cal connection, so we thought they would find it of interest—but it slipped through our collander.

On one of our visits, we see a post about a picture we recognise instantly from the description. We enlist Aunty Google. We find. We leave a URL for JP. We don't mention it here. JP does another post about finding the picture (and another coincidence, which you should go read about).

In connection with another complex discussion, we mention the site to Amit. Amit blogs about it. DD, who I can claim to know before either of us knew Amit, reads about it at India Uncut, finds something familiar about the name, visits, finds dear auld buddy from way back when. Oh. Mark the sequel.

[Pause for reflection.]

Earlier today, Amit posts about a column of DD's in Business Standard (a paper we wind up reading only in office reception areas when waiting for someone). It's about game theory and suchlike high brow stuff, and mentions an Orkut feature. We read, having recently resumed frequenting Orkut, which we'd abandoned quite a while ago after signing up pretty early in the day.

In the course of an insomniac night (and it is pertinent to note that we became pals with DD because we were the only owls working on a project with larks), while chatting with DD on Gtalk, exchanging links and generally shooting the breeze, we mention the BS piece. He says it came off a back-channel chat with the Rangaswamis. Ah, we say, JP? No, says DD, his younger brother, who was in school with me. And sends us the link.

Which, we find, is a jolly good blog about advertising and media, one we hadn't come across before, run by someone right here in Traffic-Jam-by-the-Sea: Whether Pigs Have Wings, by Anant Rangaswami.

Now, there's probably a moral or a learning or summat with all this. Must ask scholarly types like Dina (by the way, we have another story about a set of coincidences regarding Dee, so many that we both considered checking with our parents if they'd been anywhere near the Kumbh Mela or Bandra Fair). Or JP. Or DD. Or Anant. We'll just put it down to this.

What goes around comes around.


Oh yes. Here's the picture we mentioned, that got all these connections going.

new shoes

All the links above, the picture, and this update, added in the wee hours of 18th Nov.

The saga continues

Today (well, technically yesterday, but we follow the vampire/owl rule: the night belongs to the day that precedes it), when we were checking the Caferati inbox, out of the erm, ether, we got an email offering to help out with a project that has been in limbo for a while; loss of sponsors and suchlike. After gleefully capering around the room uttering glad cries, we looked at the name. Anant Rangaswami. Could-it-be-could-it-be?, we wondered to ourself, and then, because we are cynical, naah, too many coincidences. Then we dial the number Anant left us, and whaddya know? Not just the same chap, but he happened to be having a drink at a pub near Pinstorm's office. (Now it would have been completely brill to have said that we then popped down to Toto's to join him in a beer, but our tum was misbehaving, so, though we had meant to, we hadn't made the trek into Bandra today. Alas.)

Tomorrow, or soon, at any rate, we shall sip a beverage with Anant. And frankly, even if he tells us that he won't be able to swing a deal our way, we're still pretty sure we're ahead of the game. We have yet to meet a pal of the Datta-Roy household that we haven't liked.

Serendib, can we have our citizenship papers please?

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Once upon a star..

The results of the TheScian Scifi Short Story contest are now officially out on their blog.

See the winners list, with links to the stories, links to the 9 stories that made it to the top of the list, potted biographies of the top 9 authors and
the jury, and the Scian Kitchen topic that invites discussion of the stories (you'll need to register at that forum to post to those discussions, but not to read them).

Special huzzas to our buddies Rohinton Daruvala, who placed second with To Sleep, Perchance To Dream, and Manisha Lakhe, whose Happy Happy Joy Joy placed sixth.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Poetry on Poetry

The PEN All-India Centre

invites you, with your friends, to the eighth session of PEN@Prithvi:

Poetry on Poetry
Practising Bombay poets gather to discuss poems that take poetry for their subject.

11 November, 2006 (Saturday), 6.30 pm.
Prithvi House, 1st floor (Opp. Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu)
Please note change in venue: Tomorrow's event will be held at the Prithvi Cafe, not upstairs at Prithvi House as usual (there's a Prithviraj Memorial event going on there just this Sat).

All are welcome. Enquiries: india dot pen at gmail dot com
A blogger you know is slated to be one of the "Practising Bombay poets." More in need of practise than the others, alas, but there you are.

Do come, if you're in the 'hood.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

For

Writers against Terrorism
Protest against the attack on Lebanon
Petition online against X
March against Y
Please go read our good friend, Caferati Delhi coordinator and generally one of the sweetest, wisest people we've ever met, Anita Vasudeva, who wants to know what happened to For?

When did we stop fighting FOR what we wanted? When did we become a people against War, not a world FOR Peace? While we were pushing FOR healthy workplaces, working FOR good marriages and sustainable relationships, FOR safety and freedom and independence, FOR respect and civil behaviour, FOR love and tolerance; while we thought standing FOR the good stuff would change the world, there was a growing group already in the driver’s seat swinging the AGAINST demolition ball to strike down the entire edifice.
Read on.

Against

It's today, folks.

Reporters without borders urges internet users to join in 24-hour online demo against internet censorship.

[..]

Everyone is invited to support this struggle by connecting to the Reporters Without Borders website (www.rsf.org) between 11 a.m. (Paris time) on Tuesday, 7 November, and 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 November. Each click will help to change the Internet Black Holes map and help to combat censorship. As many people as possible must participate so that this operation can be a success and have an impact on those governments that try to seal off what is meant to be a space where people can express themselves freely.
What time will it be in your time zone when it's 11a.m. in Paris?

The difference between Paris Time and time zones around the world.

Current local time in Paris.

I love Paris in the springtime. *Grin* Sorry.

Bring out the Bolly

Two reviews that almost&mdashalmost—make us consider catching the movies in question.

All style, but who says no substance? - Spacebar on Don.
We, in our low-browness, normally run a mile when we see words like subtext in a review. This one kept us reading to the end.

A gushing yet defensive post about Jaan-e-Mann - Jabberwock on, well, Jaan-e-Mann.
A line that found resonance: I’ve enjoyed his willingness to risk looking ridiculous onscreen. Something we remember from the last Hindi flick we caught in a theatre—which was, like, in the last century—Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. We remember liking the fact that a stud-type superstar was willing to play the affected NRI type to the male lead's cool dude. Right. Enough from us idjuts who know nothing about the movies. Go read Jai and SB.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Shirky v/s Nielsen

For years we have been vaguely uncomfortable with Jakob Nielsen's pronouncements on usability. Not because he doesn't make sense. He does, frequently. And we have used his advice and pass it on. But one area of discomfort has always been that useit.com is one butt-ugly site. And we believe in aesthetics. (And before you say anything about this blog's template, it reflects our abilities with HTML, not our taste.)

And then, well, we recently discovered Clay Shirky's site.

(The man has been writing good sense for years, but we only found him the other day, because we're doing a lot of research on online community, and found this excellent essay, which we've mailed to quite a few of our bakras friends. But we digress.)

Yennyway, Shirky's open letter to Nielsen in, we think, 1999, which pretty much says all we were struggling to get out of our brain and into words. An excerpt:
I believe that the Web is already a market for quality - switching costs are low, word of mouth effects are both large and swift, and redesign is relatively painless compared to most software interfaces. If I design a usable site, I will get more repeat business than if I don't. If my competitor launches a more usable site, it's only a click away.
And also see his Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality, which talks about blogging and the A-list, and how "Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality."

Sunday, 5 November 2006

ho hum

Just for Blaughs

Cell Phone Overkill

To BCC or Not to BCC

Fluckr

Braille-enabled visiting cards





Reader Poonam points us to this Outlook story about a friend of hers, Nidhi Kaila, and the organisation Nidhi has started, called Esha.

Esha works with blind kids, helping them earn money with innovative little schemes, like the one Poonam wrote in about.

Which is simple. You pay a rupee a card to get your visiting cards Braille-embossed. So, your cards can then be read by people who read Braille. And you help visually-impaired people get a little more financial independence.

Esha can't afford to spend money to publicise this, so we'd like you to help pass the word. You can reach Nidhi and Esha at Esha_braille AT yahoo DOT com. They work out of Delhi [update]Esha was founded in Delhi but now works out of Bombay, and the cards are embossed in Bangalore[/update]. Mail (or leave a comment with an email address) if you'd like the phone number as well.

And the Braille letters at the top are taken from the Braille Converter at Humanware, and merely repeat the title of this post.

Update: Jace gets his cards Braille enabled.

Update 2: Esha and Nidhi appeared in Mumbai Mirror on Saturday, 11th November 06.

Anyone else?

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Friday, 3 November 2006

Two old faves..

..jamming with a third



..Tracy Chapman, singing Baby Can I Hold You with Luciano Pavarotti..




..and Liza Minelli, with an amazing rendition of New York, New York, again with Pavarotti (: theez vaagabon' shoes / are longing to straahy :)

Bliss.



Paco De Lucia, John Mclaughlin and Al Di Meola playing Mediterranean. (More here.)

We think we should just abandon all blogging and just become a YouTube filter.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

FF2 v/s IE7

Within the last week, two new browsers have been released -- both of which hope to be your first choice for bringing all of that new web content to your desktop.

Firefox 2, the latest version of Mozilla's open-source browser, was released Tuesday -- less than two years since version 1 and about 11 months behind version 1.5. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7, the first browser from the Redmond giant since IE6 arrived in October 2001, was released for Windows XP users Oct. 18.
Read the Wired story here.

Go Scott!

As regular readers of my blog know, I lost my voice about 18 months ago. Permanently. It’s something exotic called Spasmodic Dysphonia. Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It happens to people in my age bracket.
Read on.

That's Doctor Chiru to you

We saw on TV a short while ago (and we can't find the NDTV link, so here's one from the Hindu) that the one and only megastar now has an honorary doctorate from Andhra University to go with his Padma Bhushan. We know this will please at least one resident of our blogroll. You know who you are.

Two things we thought we'd never see in Wired

: Mike, du-u-ude. That's nuts. You're crazy, man. Nine months' worth of music? You could have a full-term baby without ever playing the same song twice.
and
This is not about denigrating the comic book, or graphic novel, or whatever you want to call it. This is not to say that illustrated stories don't constitute an art form or that you can't get tremendous satisfaction from them. This is simply to say that, as literature, the comic book does not deserve equal status with real novels, or short stories. It's apples and oranges.
Both from the same column by a chap called Tony Long.

Thankfully, before we cancelled our subscription (which, we now realise, would have been difficult, because ever since we quit the agency scene, we have only read the online edition), we found this delicious take on pimping up one's MySpace page. [Required reading for all bloggers, Ryzers, and any others who tart up their pages with bundles of junk. Us? We only have a Sitemeter. And Flickr. And Blogrolling. And a some badges. And .. never mind. We'll shut up.]

Monday, 30 October 2006

Cheersh

Meant to do this an age ago, but didn't get down to it.

Please meet our old pal, former fellow wage slave and drinking buddy, erstwhile resident of Bombay and Dubai, now domicled in the frozen wastelands, Tony. He stands alone amongst our imbibing companions of choice; he's the only one who serves as mean a dish of pork vindaloo as he pours a beer. So, extra-highly recommended: his food posts.

Contrary to popular belief, we do get invited to parties.

We went to our first blogparty type thingy this weekend. We were gonna tell you all about it, but the others have, and we've always been a lazy sod, so here ya go: our generous host, Sakshi, that Varma boy, the faymbus Mistah Vij, Melody of the bunny ears, the back-from-sabbatical-Gaurav, the battler-with-dragons, Saket (Saket 1 - Dragons 0), and IdeaSmith (all in black, with litte red horns). Also present: the Varma's better half, Chronicus Skepticus (who, coincidentally, we had visited for the first time just that morn), that talented photographer Akshay Mahajan, a very quiet Anand Agrawal, and three of Sakshi's pals, who stayed firmy rooted to the other side of the room.

And now I lay me down to sleep.

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Is YouTube worth all that moolah? Well, yes, because it's just a seedy dive.

Way back when we were still earning a regular monthly salary (and PF, and medical, and conveyance, and Diwali bonusses.. sigh), a Very Senior Person in our organisation used to deliver these occasional little mini-speeches about the business world, because we lower mortals needed to be kept informed. And because he was this incredibly brainy sort, he would kinda break things down for us slower types by equating everything with some kind of, um, inter-personal activity. Like "X Group is courting Y Company," and "Q Ltd and R Inc are in bed together, but are not married yet," and, well, you get the drift.

Yennyway. FOnD* memories wafted back to the forebrain when we read this on Slate:
If the Internet were not a bookstore, or tubes, but rather a red-light district, YouTube would best be imagined as the hotel, and Napster, well, the pimp. YouTube, like a hotel, provides space for people to do things, legal or not. It's not doing anything illegal itself, but its visitors may be. But Napster, everyone more or less now admits, was cast as the pimp: It was mainly a means of getting illegal stuff. Right or wrong, we seem to accept the benign vision of YouTube as an entity which, unlike Napster, was basically born as a place to showcase stupid human tricks.


* Yes, there is a reason for the irregular capitalisation.

How many hands do you need to play this thing?



More here. Or go here, and look for Custom Design.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

A word in your ear

Interdoocing: Blogolepsy - http://blogolepsy.blogspot.com/
Reasons

This is not about displaying our own writing. (Though, truth be told, we work hard at stringing words together. And, now and then, we admit to being pleased with the results.)

This blog will search for and promote excellent creative writing on the web, with a wee bias towards the blogosphere.

What we'll link to: poetry, fiction, graphic stories and comics, great criticism, hyperfiction, lyrics, interactive narratives. Occassionally, we may link to essays, rants and opinion pieces unconnected with writing, but only if we think they're extraordinarily good. We'll also point to opportunities for writers, as and when we hear of them.

Tip-offs welcome. Leave a comment, or mail us.
We (Uma, Falstaff, J.A.P., Megha, Krish, Neha and yours truly) haven't exactly been regular with updates there, but p'raps your patronage will prod us into some activity. :)

Do drop by and let us know what you think. And pass on to interested souls.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Give us a ring. Or two.



With the sun behind Saturn.

Clicking on the image will bring up a large (595.77 KB) version of the picture.

This will give you the NASA Planetary Photojournal page, and this, the Cassini-Huygens page from where we found the image, and which also told us:
Cassini scientists discovered two new rings and confirmed the presence of two others.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

In which we piss off the worker ants

Y'know, to reallio trulio appreciate a long weekend, you need a nine-to-five, five-day-a-week job.

We, who earn a large part of our not-large income sitting around in our shorts, at our messy desk, two steps away from our bookshelves, and a quick collapse away from our sleeping mat, we who prospect the net for two of our columns, grok the net for the rest of our work, and wander off to exotic spots to write about them every now and then, we who have been known to spend an entire Monday sleeping.. we kinda envy the folks who have gone tearing off to beaches, hilltops, mum's cooking or what have you.

Yes. We really do. Because we've been bored out of our little skull this weekend. All the buddies are out of town, and our net connection was down. Pity us.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Water Colours

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From NH17, somewhere in South Goa. Taken from car window, at approx 80kmph. The driver was a loon!

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Likewise.

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Kudlai Kudle Beach, Gokarna.

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Ditto, with rather more zoom.

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On Sunday morn, you would have seen a dot in the middle of the second bay. That dot would have been this blog. Om Beach, Gokarna.

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From the inside of the only beach shack already open for business, somewhere around the bit between the middle and the furthest bay, the rocky bit you see in the long shot. Om Beach, Gokarna.

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The rocky bit between bays two and three, up close. Om Beach, Gokarna.

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Lady and little boy fetching water from some unknown point. The backwaters (yes, I didn't know you had them in Karnataka either) are in the background. Taken on the way back, also from car window. Damn good driver this time. Drove very fast, but one never felt that he wasn't in complete control of his vehicle. NH 17, Somewhere between Gokarna and Karwar.

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Random river that NH17 passes over, somewhere between Gokarna and Karwar. Taken from the car.

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And no, this picture doesn't begin to do justice to how beautiful it looked, as one swept down the slope, out from behind trees. Breathtaking. Karwar beach, Karwar.

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Taken from the heights of Estuary View. Island just off the Kali estuary, Karwar.