Thursday 29 June 2006

Gone Travelling

Insofar as anyone actually asks us for advice on anything at all, we get asked this pretty often. "How do I get into travel writing?" We realise that this is more because travel writing is considered to be quite a cushy thing to do and not because of the wisdom we project, but hey, we're flattered.
Anyway, after our head returns to something approaching its normal size (we, by the way, have a hat size slightly above the normal to start with, but that's irrelevant here), we wind up saying pretty much the same thing. So, being a lazy sod, we decided to put this up here for future reference. Of course this means that now no one will ever ask us for any advice whatsoever, but laziness wins over need-for-ego-stroking any day.

Several caveats first (and we'll abandon the royal pronoun for the rest of this post).0

a. I write only for one travel magazine, Outlook Traveller. This is not because they're the only ones who have asked me to write for them.1 I happen to think it's pretty much a no contest as to which is the best travel mag in the Indian market. So I haven't the foggiest idea how to really work the circuit. I don't even know who all the other players are.

b. I am by no means a professional "travel writer." I'm sure it's possible to be one, but I haven't made the contacts that would permit me to do it full time, and even if I did have the ear of every travel editor worth the name, I'm not sure I could make enough cash doing it. I do it because I enjoy it, because OT is a good place to have one's byline appear, because it means a little paid holiday every now and then. My main income, however, is from other stuff.

c. That I first got a look in involved a generous slice of luck: someone who had read
some of my writing elsewhere recommended me to Outlook Traveller. (This wasn't even travel writing, by the way, it was just general mood stuff in a newspaper.2) I had pitched an idea to the magazine before that, but got no reply. I haven't actually used the methods I'm suggesting to you, so, pretty please, take my oracular motherhoods with a large shovelful of salt.

On with the show, then.

Waitaminute. Before we start. You're a good writer, right? Sorry, but I have to ask. You'd be amazed at the number of people who want writing jobs when they can't spell for toffee, have atrocious grammar, wouldn't know a metaphor if it bit them in the arse—and demonstrate these facts in their CVs. Editors (and for the purposes of this little ramble, I also mean people who may not have that title on their visiting cards but who do commission writers) of any degree of competence will not look kindly at wannabe-writers who can't write.

Travel editors, perhaps more than any other kind, are inundated with offers to write for them. Not surprising, because travel writing is perceived as being very attractive, very cushy. I'm not saying it's not, mind you - just that that supply exceeds demand. An email out of the blue is not guaranteed to get you a reply, even from the most courteous of editors. If you're submitting an article on paper or photographs, include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want them back.

The essence of good travel writing, IMAO, is not just the documentation of your travels. You must bring the place alive to someone who's never been there. Some people read travel writing as a form of vicarious entertainment—they'll never actually visit the places they read about. Others (a smaller section, when you're talking print magazines, but a large and growing percentage online) read up on stuff with the intention of actually going to those places. A travel writer must cater to both those kinds of people.

How do you get better at it? Read a lot of travel writing. Seems self-evident, but quite a few people don't bother with it. As with any field, it pays to study the pros.

Do some homework. Find all the publications that publish travel writing.3 Short-list the ones that you would like to see your writing in. Factors to consider: the kind of readership they have; the circulation; the quality of the articles, the kind of remuneration they offer. Be warned: quite a few publications that happen to carry travel writing among other special interest areas do not pay your travel expenses.

Figure out also which ones are closest to your natural writing style. Figure out the balance they maintain between hard information and intangible stuff like mood and style (and the best ones have all of those) and whether you can deliver that balance, whether you're comfortable with it.

Practise. On your next trip, write about the place you're visiting. Or think back to your last trip and do likewise. Even tougher: write about your home town, or the place you're living in now, but do so as if you were writing for a travel magazine. Put these travelogues on to a blog, or a personal website (if you have a photographer's eye, even better: put up your pictures as well4), or mail them to your friends. Ask for feedback. Take serious note of what people like, what they're ambivalent about.

Putting this writing online has other advantages, by the way.
For one, it could lead to random web traffic via search engines, which means that your work can, potentially, find readers beyond the 57 close friends you have spammed with the URL.
Related point. Most travel writers I know research a place before they visit. Research has the word "search" in it, remember? Going quickly, but unblushingly, past the corny word-play, search in this day and age has a simple definition, and it starts with G ends with e and frequently has many, many os in it. Travel writers include the folk at publications who commission work. 'Nuff said?
And yes, it gives you a simple way to actively showcase your writing. Instead of sending many attachments, you could, at the drop of a hat, email a URL that's engraved on your heart. (: Even the genuine space cadets remember their own URLs :)

Once you've developed some confidence in your travel writing, then send the permalinks of your best work to the editors you've targetted.

All the best.

0. Footnotes and introductory notes! We're getting posh, we are!

1. I have been asked to write travel-related stuff elsewhere, but when OT commissions me, they pay my expenses, which many other publications seem to think is needlessly pampering writers.

2. This, this, this and this, if you're vaguely interested.

3. I'll try and add some names of publications to this post later. In fact I'll try and add to this piece a bit. Right now, I need to sleep. If you have experiences with specific publications to share, please add them in the comments. Or mail me.

4. Good writer/photographers are rare. Publications love 'em. It cuts the travel bills in half. :).


Today, we discovered that a quotation we had always seen ascribed to Voltaire isn't actually something he said or wrote.

We refer, of course, to "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." ("Je désapprouve ce que vous dites, mais je défendrais à la mort votre droit à le dire.")

According to Wikipedia, and several other sites we forgot to copy links to, that line appears in Friends of Voltaire (1907) by Beatrice Hall.

Something Voltaire did say, and which we saw for the first time today (yeah, we're borderline illiterate; sue us), and promptly fell in love with was: "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too." from Voltaire's Essay on Tolerance.

Wednesday 28 June 2006

More from the Feng Sastra design agency

Question: What is the correct direction to face when presenting your vastu-compliant web design to the client?

Answer: Turn around, bend over.

Time Out

We learn from the editor that Time Out Mumbai is now online. Go see.

Tuesday 27 June 2006

A day in a Feng Sastra design agency

Re this, a scenario comes to mind:

You're slogging away creating your vastu-compliant site. You're hard at work creating the graphics and the images for headers because the fonts you want to use aren't web-ubiquitous. The client calls and wants to know what status is.

"I'll be done in an hour or two," you say, "I'm just making water."

TheScian Science Fiction Short Story Contest 2006

From The Scientific Indian, "Science as a way of life."

Are you an aspiring writer?
Do you like to blend fiction with science?

Enter The Scian Science Fiction Short Story Contest 2006!

First Rs.10,000/-
Second Rs.5,000/-
Third Rs.2,500/-

Closing Date: 30 September 2006
Download details (pdf)
Questions? Discuss here.

and now, the Vastu Shui school of web design

Once more, with a straight face, and no comment:
"Just as the world comprises of the five basic elements, each Web site has five elements and these need to be in balance with one another," says Dr. Smita Narang, author of Web Vaastu, a new book that marries vaastu laws with the Internet.

The book has proved popular with businesses.

"Earth is the layout, fire is the colour, air is the HTML, space is name of the Web site, and water is the font and graphics," says Narang, adding that each must be chosen carefully and strike a balance with the other.
Read on.

[via an email from Hanisha]

Saturday 24 June 2006

In which the word "PHAT" appears on this blog for the first time

FYI, with a straight face, and absolutely no comment:
Pretty, Hot and Tempting (PHAT) Chicks is all set to be the world's first interactive, multi-media enabled chatisode. Think of it like Sex & the City on the Web.

I am searching for 3 insanely bright, irreverent, high-on-attitude female writers to be a part of this hugely ambitious project. This is a full-time job based out of our swank office in Gurgaon. If interested, do send me your responses with a 100 word note on your thoughts regarding PHAT Chicks.

By the way, they are not just Pretty, Hot and Tempting...:)
If you find this interesting, mail sanjay[dot]trehan[at]indiatimes[dot]co[dot]in.

Tuesday 20 June 2006

Oh to be in Boston

But if you can't, go see the latest of Megha's rare-but-worth-the-wait photoposts.

We shall be with our home boys, Mohandas, Tenzin and Nelson

We took the Political Compass™ test, and found that we're Left Libertarian, in the same quadrant as Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela (though a tad closer to centre) and on the diametrically opposite side from Dubya, Blair, Berlusconi and Chirac.

We checked back to a similar but shorter quiz we took a year or so ago, and yeah, we're consistent. Well, actually not. We took the second test again, and find that we're further from the centre now.

Anyway, that wasn't why we decided to post when we should be meeting deadlines.

Political Compass also has a wrap-up quiz for when you're done with your test, a quiz that..
..offers some important facts that were barely, if ever, reported. It may raise your eyebrows and adjust the pedestals on which you placed some of your favourite icons. The chasm may be greater than you'd imagined.
Here are a few sample questions:
Who presented Chairman Mao Tse Tung with a bouquet of poems that lavishly praised the Chinese leader as the timely rain to nourish the land?

Who said : I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed?

Which politician travelled to Indonesia and received a $10 million donation from dictator Suharto to help party funds, while avoiding criticism of Indonesia's repressive policies, including political imprisonment?
Hint: They're all mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.

Go then, and take the Iconochasms quiz.

Sunday 18 June 2006

Fishy smells

Pratik is pretty pissed off with this Washington Post piece by Marc Fisher, a reproduction of an interview he gave to Stuttgarter Nachrichten and other German papers.

We read the piece, and we find it difficult to understand how Fisher, who seems a reasonable and intelligent person going by his other writing, could put such utterly uninformed bilge up. It's so much a caricature of the Ugly American stereotype, has so many gaping holes and plain knuckle-headed bias in it that we assumed it was a joke, but since no Gotcha post from him follows (his post is dated June 12th), we are forced to assume he meant it.

Read Pratik's fisk, and for even more ire, the comments on Raw Fisher (300+ and counting).

We must hasten to inform you, by the way, that we are not football crazy, though, like Chance the Gardener, we like to watch.

cloud nine

We meant to post about Kingfisher Air when we first flew with them last year, not long after they started up and were maha-impressed. But then, we told ourself, hey, everyone launches with their best foot forward (to mangle a few metaphors), let's see what they're like next year.

Well, we flew the airline again a little while ago, and we're happy to report that they still rock.

Before we go on to tell you why, let's tackle the hot flight attendants bit. People—well, okay, male people—like to say that all Kingfisher flight crew look like models.

Not true.

Some of them look like supermodels.

Right, now that we've got that out of the way..

We're not a frequent flier by any stretch, and we're pretty nervous about flying in the first place, but we've flown quite a few of the domestic airlines: IA, an Air India connector, Jet, Sahara, Deccan, even Vayudoot (and there lies a tale—and it also shows our age), and Kingfisher kicks butt big time when it comes to service.

It starts before you get to the airport. Their site isn't fabulous, but it's easier to get around in than the other airline sites. When you actually get out of your car / rickshaw / cab and walk in to the terminal, there are alert chaps on the lookout for people clutching KA tickets. They offer to help you with your bags, haul up a trolley, lift your bags onto the X-ray machine for you, get to the other end before the bag does, usher you to the check-in counter.

The check-in is prompt and polite, and their counter is spic-and-span (and yes, that does make an impression when, as in Delhi, it adjoins the peeling Air Dakkan—as we refer to it—counter). While you're looking for a tag for your hand baggage, a polite chap standing by with a full supply is already slipping one on for you.

Inside, you get a little goodie bag—no biggie, a pen, earphones, and the wee bag itself—but none of the others give you more than your boarding pass. Crib here: we like the damp towels that some airlines give you as you sit down—there's something very refreshing about them, and you're able to cover much more skin than you can with the wee packed tissue in the goodie bag.

The earphones plug you into the inflight entertainment system. The video (which you watch on LCD screens built into the seat-back in front of you) isn't much to write home about; recorded stuff, of course, some unfunny comedy show, Walk the Talk, and old cricket footage is all we remember. We much preferred the graphic that showed the plane's position, speed and altitude. But the audio is much better. There's pop and bollymix for those who like it, but also some seriously good jazz and lots more.

The down-side: everthing on audio and video gets overridden by Mr Mallya's booming welcome address. We think the bit about instructing his staff to treat us all as guests in his own home was a bit over the top, but that's because we've heard about his parties. The safety lecture comes to you on the screen instead of live. Mixed feelings on that one: no legit excuse to stare attentively at the lady doing the demo, but then the lass on your screen is a super model.

Food: we've heard complaints, but we actually like the food.

Oh yes. And despite *ahem* hot competition from the cabin crew, the thing that really made converts of us? We first took a KA flight to Delhi. We do not have happy thoughts about Delhi's airport, as a rule. But here, in pushy, rude, inefficent Delhi airport, as we got off the flight and looked for our flight number in the baggage conveyor section, we saw KA staffers (listen carefully now), lining up trollies around the right conveyor before the passengers even got there!

And the experience continued even outside, in the taxi line. More staffers, ushering passengers into cabs.

Irritants: the lousy stuff on video. And the announcements that said things like "hum land karne ko aa rahe hain (or something like that). And the inflight mag sucks. Basically an extended Page Three on glossy paper and bound. Mr M, we're passengers, not, despite your welcome, the kind of guests you have at your parties.

Wish-list: How about a power outlet for laptops? Our battered machine runs out of juice very fast, so we're always on the lookout for electricity. Even the Rajdhani gives you plug points these days.

Oh yes. As we were scribbling this in our note pad, we asked for another coffee. We were asked how we'd like it, and it arrived shortly, as per specs, and accompanied by a large chocolate biscuit.

Mr Mallya, your airline has class.

Wednesday 14 June 2006

Neologisms (nope, not blog-related)

These came out of typos on Caferati ages ago. Spot of wickedness we had, where we "defined" words that were spelled wrong.

Transrelate = To put into perspective for those who just don't get it.

Polygoat = Someone who can butt into conversations in several different languages.

Diaspuri = allegedly desi food available abroad that is not quite the real thing.

If we remember right, someone else came up with "polygloat." Don't remember the definition but here's ours:

Polygloat = someone who is very snooty and superior about being able to speak several languages.

Add more?

p.s. Check out the worthy Word Mint, where a team of dedicated neologists (if that's not a word, now it is) churn 'em out on a daily basis. Our Mousetrap review here or here.

The Sea of Eloquence - An Evening of Dastan-e-Amir Hamza

These are friends of mine, from Delhi. Do come, and pass the word too, please.

They also have a couple of paid shows, courtesy Motley, at Prithvi on the 1st and 2nd July.
The Sea of Eloquence - An Evening of Dastan-e-Amir Hamza

Dastangoi: A Presentation of the Lost Form of Storytelling

Fri. 23rd June – 6:30 pm

Little Theatre
National Centre for the Performing Arts
NCPA Marg, Nariman Point

This is a CHAURAHA presentation.

The oral narration of Dastan-e-Amir Hamza was a popular medieval pastime in most parts of Central, Western and South Asia and North Africa. Originally composed in Persian, the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza describes the battles of Amir Hamza, the Prophet Muhammad's Uncle, against infidels, sorcerers and other pretenders to divinity. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza was singularly successful in entertaining a whole range of people, from the commoners at chauks and nukkads to the elites in their palaces; it was performed at the steps of the Jama Masjid where Dastangos gathered. Although almost entirely obliterated from the performing arts canon today, it is clear that these performances required an exceptional command over rhetoric, delivery, mimicry, ventriloquism and spontaneous composition.

The present performance of Dastangoi consists of portions of the best-known daftar, or chapter, of the 46-volume Dastan-e-Amir Hamza,the Tilism Hoshruba, the 'Enchantment that Steals away the Senses'. The performances are the result of collaboration between S. R. Faruqi (the foremost living authority on these Dastans) and the performers. Faced with neglect and systematic devaluation, there is now very scanty evidence for the way in which these Dastans were compiled and performed. The current performance is therefore merely an exploration of an art which was considered by some to be of a higher order than poetry itself.

Mahmood Farooqui is a self-trained actor and performer who recently acted in Mahesh Dattani's English film, Mango Soufflé. Earlier this year, he was given a Fellowship by Sarai, CSDS to work on the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza.

Danish Husain has done theatre with several theatre stalwarts in the country, including Habib Tanvir, M. S. Sathyu, Barry John, Rajinder Nath, Sabina Mehta Jaitley, Aziz Quraishi, among others, in a wide variety of roles.

Admission free on a first-come-first-served basis.
See also: The Dastangoi blog.

Two (bad) pictures from a Dastangoi performance near Turkman Gate, in Delhi, in April 2006.

100_1990 100_1985

Tuesday 13 June 2006

Talk about tasteless journalism

this blog has the New York Post front page on the 9th June. It's about the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Sunday 11 June 2006

We highly recommend that you go buy

..Outlook Traveller's Fifth Anniversary Special issue.

Special articles by Pankaj Mishra, William Dalrymple, Nayantara Sahgal, Siddhartha Deb and Mishi Saran. Special photographs by Steve McCurry, Pablo Bartholomew, Raghu Rai, Rajesh Bedi, John Stanmeyer. Also in the issue, a "Best of" selection of photographs and several interesting lists of five.

And, ahem, the first appearance in print ever of this combination of words: "Photographs Peter Griffin." It's only a little review of a hotel we visited in April (which is why we suspect, they used our shots and didn't send a pro along), but we're very pleased with ourself.

These are the shots you'll see:
100_1829 100_1826 100_1799

Random thought on quizzing

Is quizzing a very guy thing? Almost all the enthu quizzers (quizzards? quizzerati?) we know and know of are male.

Is it just us and the people we know, or is this a gender thing?

Class, discuss.

World Cup fever

US residents who love football and may not be getting their fix, read gHacks on How to view the football worldcup online, Endgadget's take on how HD, mobile, and web TV makes Cup hard to miss, and Wired's Soccer, anyone?.

And of course you know about mibazaar's World Cup Soccer 2006 News on Google Maps, the World Cup Blog , this listing of all matches results scorers and statistics of the FIFA World Cup , and have downloaded this printable schedule from the BBC .

No? Well, we have just the thing for you. Please go crack this World Cup quiz quiz that has nothing to do with football.

Probably the only film we'll go out of our way to see for a bit

We've been wanting to see The An Inconvenient Truth. Caught the trailer on YouTube the other day, which only makes us want to see it even more. Meanwhile, Amardeep has a great post up. Go read. Much thoughtfodder.

We don't know why we love this, but we do

thumb drive
Dynamism's 128mb Thumb drive. Heh.

Saturday 10 June 2006

Non-desi residents of the USA, please see

The Ignorant American's Guide to the World Cup

So with the games set to begin on Friday, I journeyed on down the path to soccer enlightenment. Generous guy that I am, I figured I'd share my accumulated wisdom with similarly situated dolts. I thusly present The Ignorant American's Guide to the World Cup.

While having an ignorant American write this guide may well defeat its underlying purpose, rest assured that I've done my homework, interviewing several people with funny accents. Since labeling non-midwestern accents "funny" is one of the bona fide calling cards of American ignorance, I knew I was on the right path from the get-go. Let's dive right into it.

Friday 9 June 2006

Unfortunately, magicians never tell

This news item from last week puzzles us greatly.
Copperfield To Impregnate Woman Onstage
. The piece goes on to say that he will do the deed without even touching the volunteer. "Naturally there will be no sex."

Huh? Now if he were to do the dirty (on stage or off) with the touching but without the pregnancy, we'd say the man was on to something. Is this, we can't help wondering, why Claudia Schiffer left him?

Tuesday 6 June 2006

Whoopdidoo. We have been internalised too.

We're a member of an interesting online forum called Creativegarh. Sometime in February, a gentleman called Yogesh Goel wrote to the group thusly:
I am back with my latest project. Well this time i am not alone. I have along with me my friends Kuldip & Vivek. We are working on a blog or say a project and we need ur contribution. Its all about WEBSITE REVIEWS. And i hope you all tech savy people will not dissapoint us this time.

Here is the link-
(We're only quoting the first part of that mail, but members of the forum—and yes, it's worth a look-see if you're not—can see the entire text here.)

Mr Goel's post interested us. We're always desperately hunting for interesting sites to cover. So we bookmarked him for a rainy day. Which, coincidentally, came around last week. We'be been thinking that in addition to the regular 'blog of the week' we already do, perhaps we could add a 'community / forum of the week.'

Whaddya know? The chap has lifted entire sections of the column and posted them under his own name. (His signature line, by the way, reads "I AM THE SOURCE - I AM THE 'BAADSHAH'" in bright red all-caps. Heh.)

Here's an example: this, this, this and this are all straight lifts from one column.

We haven't gone through the forum in great detail - these caught the eye because he even used our words as his subject lines - so we really don't know if he's ripped off even more stuff.

Not a word of attribution, of course, though the mail quoted above also says:
- You can send the link and we will review them. The credit of sending the link will be urs.
- You can send a link as well as the review of the website or the
webpage. We will publish with your name.
We're hugely flattered that Mr Goel approves of our selections, and we wouldn't dream of stopping anyone from linking to the sites we review, though if he were to do so, write his own reviews and say upfront that he thought his were better, we'd have some respect for the gentleman.

But wethinks it's a bit much when the chap lifts our entire copy and passes it off as his own, what?

A contest you don't want to win

Heh. A "BMC" page you have to see.

Wicked, contests2win, wicked!

[Thank you, Resham Singh]

a dozen ways to piss off your readers

Just a quick summary from a page we just saw. (We see some of this in the 'sphere, so it seemed relevant here. Our own observations are the stuff in brackets.)

1) Pop-Ups
2) Pop-Under
3) Ban Right Clicks (and it's so damn easy to work around this one. we do it on principle some times.)
4) Music (almost top of our our personal most-hated list)
5) Fixed Screen Widths
6) Slow Loading Tables (: which includes stuff like hit counters and blogrolls. :)
7) Unnecessary Questions
8) Splash Pages (This pisses us off most. So many otherwise intelligent designers just love the darn things.)
9) Grabbing the Browser
10) The Obscure Plug-in
11) The IE only page
12) The Dark Page (which includes fluorescent text on dark backgrounds and bg pictures. Gah.)

Read the entire article. Do see the comments as well. Much fun.

p.s. If you have any pet peeves, and feel up to coming back here, please do add them in the comments. We promise to send on to many many designer friends.

p.p.s. Of course you're welcome to come say nasty things about our our design. We'd do the same for you. :)

Speaking of search engines..

Mozdex "is a search engine seeded from the directory. MozDex uses open source search technologies to create an open and fair index.
"Our goal is to be able to provide a powerful and open search service to the community.
"Please remember that this current system is in BETA.."

Qube v2 "centers around the concept of
browserless search, blending third generation websearch capabilities with user collaboration, progressive advertising & social networking." It's in private beta at the moment. Go to the page and enter your email if you want to check it out.

Another blog search engine

gnoos, from Down Under.

Anyone seen..

..Yahoo video? Reports?

Wonder what took 'em so long?

Sunday 4 June 2006

You are old, father Zig

“You are old, father Zig,” the kid made a moue,
     “Your face is almost all forehead.
Yet you wear your hair long and tied into a queue—
     Is that proper for someone so near-dead?”

“When I was young,” Ziggy said, (after kicking the lout)
     “I visited the barber’s quite often.
But now that my keratin’s rapidly running out—
     Why, I’ll take all that’s left to my coffin.”

“You are old,” said the brat, forgetting respect,
     “Your hormones are a memory, god bless ’em.
But yet at the altar of love you genuflect—
     Why do you persist in writing love poems?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, grinning into his beard,
     “The point of the verse wasn’t futile.
What’s the point now? Why, haven’t you heard
     Of that diamond-shaped blue pill, Sildenafil?”

Said the stripling, “Your playlist is years out of date
     You diss the pop music of this nation.
You tell us how your music was so bloody great—
     But aren’t you the—heh–disco generation?”

Said the fossil, “I was easily influenced as a child,
     I will admit I knew all the lyrics—
But surely you’ll grant this: disco never defiled
     The ear as much as Bollywood remix!”

“You are old,” said the youth, “yet you still write a blog –
     Why waste what’s left of your life?
Your fingers are arthritic, your mind is a fog—
     Wouldn’t you rather spend time with the wife?”

“I have answered three questions, now kindly fuck off,”
     Said the ancient, looking hunted and harried,
“With blogposts to write, trolls to be shook off,
     Who the hell had the time to get married?”

The original poem is well-known enough to not need a reference, but just in case..
This is based on Lewis Carroll's delicious You are old, Father William, which, in turn, was a parody of Robert Southey's rather sanctimonious The Old Man's Comforts and how he gained them.

And your hair has become very white

32 songs Esquire has on its list in this interesting tournament-style match up to select the best song of the 21st Century. And we've only heard 5 of them. One of those we don't like.

You are old, father William.

[Link via Word's don't come easily.]

You remember in Tom Sawyer, where Tom has to whitewash the fence?

If you have a account, there's an easy way to send us links that we can use in our little column, Mousetrap. Just add the tag "for:zigzackly" when you're tagging a site. Add a little descriptive note, if your little heart so desires.

What's in it for you? If we use the link, you get our eternal gratitude and a cuppa franchised coffee anytime we're in the same geography. And we credit you in the print version of the column, plus put a link from your name to your site (leave the URL in the notes) in the online version.

P.S. We have a sort of index up here, so you can see what we have already covered.

Saturday 3 June 2006

Friday 2 June 2006

Do you have a relationship with your books?

This just in from a friend in the TOI. Bookmark is the TOI's books page. Feel free to pass this on.

Please note, if you have questions, contact the email address at the end, not me.
We are starting a new series on Bookmark called BOOKED FOR LIFE.

It will consist of first-person accounts by book lovers on their relationship with their collections, favourite books, unfavourite books, reading habits and so on. Essentially personal, the pieces can be funny, nostalgic, righteous, ironic, and even rants are more than welcome. It could be a piece on building your collection, buying your books from pavements, Wheeler stalls, traffic signals or ordering them on the net; fanatic non-lenders who don't lend their books no matter what; lenders who are always passing on their books; rage at book vandals who scribble in ballpoint pen in the margins and underline lines they are particularly moved by; diarists; fetishes like only buying hard back; memories associated with inscriptions on the first page; the heady smell of old paper pockmarked with pinholes; serendipitious discoveries; the quirks of your local lending library, lifelong quests to source and own a whole series, say Granta or the Time Life series; first-edition fanatics; inheriting grandpa's collections and so on.

The piece should be about 800 words in length. Please do contribute and write in with your ideas.

Mail bombayana[at]indiatimes[dot]com

Thursday 1 June 2006

Here I sit. broken-hearted
Paid my two bucks and only .. um. never mind.

The wonderful folk at Karmayog would like to draw your attention to the BMC Manual on Pay and Use Public Sanitary Conveniences in Mumbai. In it, you will find, among other things:
Fine applicable, if dirty, Rs. 500 / day -- pg 6
Facilities for the disabled are necessary -- pg 7
Monitoring Scorecard - Pg 63
Detailed looscaping & compulsory features and arrangements with photographs
There are many more articles, opinions, copies of policies in other countries in the Public Toilets section of the site.

Karmayog would also like to hear from you if you have info re:
policies in various countries
economics of pay-and-use
private-public partnership models
design parameters
location selection criteria
details for usage by women or disabled or children
technical info such as water & sewer links, city-wide plans, etc.
They are compiling more information to discuss with BMC. Please get in touch with them if you would like to be involved. Mail info[at]karmayog[dot]com.