Sunday, 9 December, 2007

Happy Birthday Jim: Indian Ishtyle


Today (8th Dec) is Jim Morrison's birthday. You may ask why a headbanging teenager instead of being at Souls paying tribute to "the poet" is seated among fossils. It is a small price to pay for hearing Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Vijay Ghate  live on a cold December night. Savai Gandharva is a good place to do some people watching. I keep my eyes open for the pony tail , khadi-kurta  types, the cute light eyed Maharashtrian Brahmans and the generous scattering of firangs.

But I am by and large surrounded by a sea of white. White hair,white sarees, white kurtas and shirts sitting on white chairs with white plastic bags full of white tupperware boxes of white puffed rice. So many things about old people are white. A stage of peace and serenity or just a drab colourless existence? A little bit of both I guess.

One would think that my black tee and jeans, metal bangles, bright orange sneakers and messy hair with shakily applied kajal would stick out like a sore thumb. Not. That's the great thing about this festival, actually about this city as well. They give a lot of space to all kinds. Under the frosty night sky are seated a multitude of colourful, warmly- wrapped people. It looks like a refugee camp or a gathering of starry eyed music lovers, depending on your mood. Some have been here since 12 in the afternoon to bag a place for a show that starts at 4 p.m to listen to a musician who will arrive anytime between 7 p.m to 12 a.m !

Then suddenly the maestro arrives and I stop flipping through Theroux, looking at people and flicking spicy chana into my mouth .

The melody escapes out of the flute much like smoke and curls around your head, pulling you closer and closer. You close your eyes, drugged, spinning softly , each new note bursting on the blank screen in your mind.

Ghate's tabla keeps up a heady tempo and I am reminded of the Shamans that inspired Morrison.

To trip without intoxicants,
a fitting tribute I think.

Better than hanging with a bunch of idealistic wannabes in the dark, pretending to be lost in some local band's sad covers of The Doors. Once the trance was over I walked out silently, awaiting the next night to relive it again with Rahul Sharma's santoor!

Realms of bliss

Realms of light

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to the endless night

Friday, 7 December, 2007

Saturday, 24 November, 2007

Who’s that girl!!!???



Now Death/Thrash metal is not really my thing and NO Marilyn Manson is NOT thrash. He covers a range of genre from Hard Rock to Industrial and Glam. Nemesis is a track performed by Archenemy, a Swedish Death Metal band formed in 1996. Their lead vocalist Johan Liiva was replaced by Angela Gossow in 2001….. and phew … is she a replacement! We have a WOMAN here who could put Tom Araya and Dave Mustaine to shame when it comes to growling! Im not an Archenemy fan really she rules man !

Check it out!

The first one is Enemy Within and the second We Will Rise, her growls are killer! Better still hear the songs without the videos first, there is noway to say its a female vocalist. After you've seen the videos .. err...

Q -How freakish her orgasms must sound !!!?

Friday, 23 November, 2007

Belly and I

Belly walked into my life 28 days back. In 28 days she clawed and scratched away a permanent place in my jeans, sweaters, jackets, t shirts and life. A frightened weak little thing at first , it took me ten days to get to know her true colours. On the tenth day, knowing that the only threat i posed was withholding her food, she meta morphed into a fearless madcap and marked me as her private scratching post/ ball of wool/waitress/cushion/jungle gym and friend. Slowly she started following me around like a dog,answered to my whistles,greeted me when i came home, ate from my hand only and slept for hours in the most comfortable spot she could find.My belly. Although its been only 28 days, life with her became a routine of sorts. Mornings were given to sunning ourselves, with me reading the newspaper, and she interested in tearing it to bits.Afternoons before work, she was not content unless she nudged till i raised my arms and allowed her to cuddle near my chin. The best times were at the end of the day. Belly gave me an excuse to get out of the house late at night and sit in the cold silence, unwinding after mad hectic days. Id sit outdoors and be perfectly content to watch her sleep on my lap.Her tiny eyes, exquisitely shaped head, and pink nose, and let my mind wander in the stillness. And for once, i never had to worry about bumping into rats in the garden and garage. Over the years, realizing that my closest friends were the ones i enjoyed talking to the most, verbal finesse meant a great deal to me. I got to know Belly better than i know anyone else today.I could anticipate her every move, knew every inch of her , noticed every time she imitated a tigress and pretended to be cunning, every time she wanted to just play, sleep, be fed or pampered. She was at complete ease around me, never scared of any sudden moves i made, capering like a goat over my ankles, knees and even sitting on my shoulders.I shared the closest unspoken bond with her, one that i can never hope to share with any human. I lost her. I go over the sequence of things endless times seeing how i could have handled it better, been more careful, quicker. Thinking where she is now in the 7 degree cold, shivering, hungry, lost, wondering where my sweater and hands are? If i have one more chance, i wouldnt give a damn about correcting her bedraggled appearance, funny ears or dangerous claws. I wouldnt give a damn about anything but having the tiny bundle of fur near me right now. This may seem a strangely out of proportion reaction and I always wondered at crazed pet lovers myself. But then you have never had a kitten have you?

Thursday, 20 September, 2007

R.J and the N-Deal

Since 6Th Aug 2007, all we have been hearing about is the Nuclear Deal between India and U.S.A. Every newspaper, T.V channel,discusses, debates and airs ever changing opinions on it.What amazes me is that in spite of constantly being in the limelight, how little information has been actually conveyed about it by the media to the layperson, and how little the public have understood about something that will have a huge impact on the future development and security of India. Which just goes to show how free and fair our press really is. One TOI poll showed that 64% of the population did not even know what it was all about. An inter city, college level, quiz competition held in Pune had the contestants blank about the N deal too. Most people i try to talk to look bewildered or give their opinion for or against it without any reason to back their claim. So this weekend when i heard that Mr. Ram Jethmalani himself was going to be in Pune to give a lecture on the N Deal, i made it a point to be there and hopefully get some answers. I returned not only sorely disappointed but nearing a rage.A bigger sell-out, i have yet to see. R.J. thinks the Ndeal is the best thing to have happened to India in the past 60 years.Apart from that one statement, the talk was not so much about the Ndeal as about R.J trying to promote his image as Gandhian principle follower (hah! anyone remember Jessica Lal?) and being particularly crass and rude about his ongoing feud with Mr.Karat.The compere who introduced him and the NDEAL issue in brief was more informative than R.J. The first part of the lecture was a rambling useless history of the nuclear countries and the NPT, liberally peppered with his ideologies, (which have no name), and outpouring of his wrath against communism.Then followed his reasons as to why the NDEAL was so important to India.According to him, "because of growing energy requirements and scarcity of resources." Yes WE KNOW that much, what about Statistics? Figures? Proof? Examples? Alternatives? Maybe an elaboration of what exactly the terms of the 123 Agreement and the Hyde Act are now? Like every other media outlet, R.J managed to remain brilliantly ambiguous,strongly opinionated and eager to sell an idea. Other than exhorting how deplorable communists, communists states are, abusing Indian scientists, journalist and nuclear achievements, he had nothing to offer as enlightenment on the NDEAL, as verified by me, when i talked to 12 students , one journalist and a photographer, who were as ignorant about the issue, after the lecture as before. It makes me wonder what sort of a democracy we are. Uninformed and unaware, these are the sort of people we look up to, to get answers and information. I'm not talking about R.J only , but people in his capacity and stature, who have the power and influence to form opinions for thousands. When they set an example of this sort,what do the masses do other than blindly ape? I do not say this because some one has a different view on an issue than mine, but because i feel the people have not been given enough of a fair opportunity to form a view of their own.Whatever little knowledge i acquired was not through newspapers and news channels, but through different Internet sites, and fortunately for me, some well informed people.( I will elaborate in the next post.) What I'm basically trying to say in a much rambled way is that after the lecture the only thing i felt was that if you cannot trust the media and leaders of your own country anymore to give you unbiased information, who the hell do you trust?

Monday, 3 September, 2007

Globe across the Globe

"Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble..."

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

Its taken 4 yrs travel over two continents,4 cities and changed hands many a time.. but Genius kept her promise and i collected THE SNOW GLOBE this morning from an apartment just five min away from my house. Funny, considering the 6000 odd miles its travelled.

For those who did not understand what a snow globe is... its a round glass with glitter or white flakes which rise and then fall like snow when you shake the globe. Its generally got beautiful tiny models inside, house, dancing figures, lovers, whole cities. And the special ones have tinkling music that plays when you wind the globe up.

My snow globe is B-E-A-U tiful.

Shiny silver base,glittering golden moon

next to which, is a shiny silver witch( hehehe)

on a tiny silver broom.

She has bright green hands and a face. Everything is a metallic shade.When you shake the globe, thousands of sparkles, of every hue, between violet and green in the rainbow, flutter around like butterflies, and then remain suspended in space for a flurry of a second, like an illusion, and disappear like ghosts , as if the witch had clapped her hands. The best part is the music!!!It pours out a silvery, haunting sound. When you press your nose against the glass, it seems to disappear and you can see eye to eye with the witch, who is suprisingly all smiley and twinkling!

And why am i so excited this seemingly simple object? The memories it brings... Our favourite pastime in school days was winding the globe, shaking it and hanging upside down on a big couch, the blood rushing to our head, bringing along with it a torrent of thoughts and ideas,questioning and curious. As the music faded and the sparkles disappeared, so did the tumult in our brain. Setting ourselves the right side up, swaying like drunken sailors we'd rush up to her room to put into practise our newest brainwave.

Like the time we broke household implements and wooden boxes and she almost cut of my fingers with an old screwdriver and hammer to create a telephone. The time we had an Algebra test the next day and fed up of trying to teach me we just hung upside down, silent, for hours till it was time for me to go home.Flunked as usual. Or the time we started developing a language of our own, based on olde englishe, with symbols, inspired by Tolkien. For that matter all the times we rushed up to decipher the Tolkien runes and wrote out family trees for Hobbits, and traced ancestors for the rest of Middle Earth inhabitants.

The time we tried eating tomatoes with a concoction made of salt , mustard, ten thousand islands dressing, ketchup, mayonaise, and lots of other sauces we stole from a huge shelf holding cool looking American style packaged bottles with exotic sauces and stuff id never heard the names of.It was DISGUSTING,immunized me to the first taste of alcohol, to follow soon after. Like the time when, at 3 a.m in winter, we climbed to the terrace, then climbed on the water tank and she walked around a narrow parapet, without a railing, five storeys above, with me egging her on, balancing on a metal ladder.

The times we'd tell our fortune with Tarrot cards. The time we rushed out of the house and scoured the city for test tubes, petri dishes, U tubes, sheeps bladder and parchment paper... bio experiment. The times we got books on Wicca and Paganism,built shrines and practised rituals, thinking we were witches. The time we got obsessed with the Black hole theory, covinced that it was the answer to how stuff in our rooms ended up missing, by falling into black holes.

The globe contributed to the most productive part of my life !It was also an unlikely enhancer to set us tripping, with its eerie music while we viewed it upside down,although since then we have found other substances to replace it! We tried to find a globe for me, but none came close to the magical quality of that one. When Genius left, as i always knew she would one day, she took the globe with her, promising to send me another. And today, on just one of those few blue days, by Witchy Coincidence the globe was there, to see me through those couple of hours. I just lay there again, upside down, with the witch cooing in my ear.

Friday, 31 August, 2007

Tryst With Destiny

A few school friends and i come up with topics to write on and email to each other, a nice way to keep a common interest and friendship spanning 3 corners of this country alive i think. This was the first..... Tryst with destiny, one cannot help but recall Jawaharlal's famous speech on the day India gained her Independence. "Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially" I have a problem with this. The very concept of making a tryst with destiny and leaving everything upto destiny is probably what kept us in servitude for 200 years in the first place.These words, impressive and inspiring at first, i wonder , if they are apt for the rebirth of a nation already plauged with blind belief, baseless faith and a sub tropical climate that induces laziness. The word destiny has become the crutch , for all those who endure, and do not attempt to cure! For me it conjures up images of apathy, resignation, and hopelessness, also of people's weird satisfaction at feeling that they are not able to do anything about that which is destined. It conjures up images of Ques, for railway tickets, ration shops, bureaucrat offices with heaps of unattended papers, court cases, where people say," kya jaldi hai? jo hona hai hoga." ( what is the hurry, what is to happen will happen) it reminds me of all the hopeless situations, farmers in Vidharba committing suicide because the rain is not destined? Pratibha Patil becoming the president because a good democracy is not destined?Or resrvations in every social system because merit is not destined? I do not say that we have made no progress at all, there have and hopefully will always be rebels, against what most people think is destiny, whether its Aryabhatta, Mangal Pandey, or Infosys and Ambani's. Destiny means a predetermind course of events, the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the universe. Look around at the events that changed the natural order of the world. Whether it was the French Revolution, the rocket to the moon or the telecommunication boom. Which just goes to show that destiny is as we make it,and not as it manifests itself into. A popular english song goes like this" que sera sera, whatever will be will be." Now while that may be soothing coming from a mother to her anxious adolescent daughter, it basically means , if she turns out to be a poor hag with a wife beating husband, so be it. Why not teach her to dream big instead and go for those dreams instead of being content with whatever life throws in her way? In the same way we can be a Nation that makes destiny and not waits for its tryst with it.

Saturday, 7 July, 2007

Oh...Ive been flyin....

And if you listen very hard
he tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.
I once again  had the pleasure of watching Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt perform live. The creator of the Mohan Veena, a modified guitar of kinds, has won a Grammy for the incredible music he pours out. I will be eternally grateful to Banyan Tree for bringing truly unique, simply elegant, non pseudo and well managed musical shows together.
Monsoons and Malhar …aaah. Panditji set the stage on fire in the stormy weather. In a shimmering kurta that flashed  with every move, he started with a light pattering on his Venna that gradually build up to a hair raising and heady tempo. The whole effect of diamonds sparkling off his entire form in rhythm to the reverberating music brought visions of fire and brimstone.
On and On, Faster and Faster……
till one could hear the very clouds thunder and  rumble as a dazed audience stepped out into a soft shower of rain.
Yesterday I was treated to double the magic, Pandit Vijay Ghate accompanied him on the Tabla. Now I would be content just looking at him ! Tall , fair, with light brown curls, his whole body dances to the rhythm of his Tabla.
What is  it about  classical musicians that is so aristocratic?  Amjad Ali Khan, Zakir Hussain,  Vijay Ghate, Ayan and Amaan Ali Bangash, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Rahul Sharma  ….. the classy kurtas, the impeccable grooming,  the soft speech and that regal mien…sigh!
Panditji played the Aalap soloband then in one fluid motion Pt. Vijay Ghate joined in middle part( Vilambitghat). The duo complemented each other perfectly, increasing the tempo till the audience could no longer even clap, just remain silently mesmerized by the the waves of music crashing into us, again and again soaring to a dizzying crescendo. Now THAT'S what i call a fucking trip!
They ended with the classic "Sawaal Jawaab" session, teasing and testing but never out doing the other's expertise. To top it all Panditji also rendered a hypnotic vocal composition. What a night! Ever noticed how rock ( i mean pure rock like Led Zep, Pink Floyd and Doors) and classical music are essentially similar in composition, anyone who truly likes rock , has to appreciate this music. Jim Morrison did !

Wednesday, 20 June, 2007

Watch on Ventilator.

To my dear watch,

When I first saw you, you were in a glass case, underwater! I thought you were the coolest, most sporty looking, practical watch ever! My friends said you looked like a grotesque, grey, deformed, fish. Never mind them. Within moments you were on my left wrist, and have rarely been off since. You were waterproof remember? For once the manufacturers claim was true, i could swim, shower, wash dishes, paint, even play holi with you. In fact getting colour off you was never a problem, considering you have lost most of your own over the years!

You lasted longer than all the others, the temporary, unreliable flings that broke off when I most needed them. YOU were meant for rough use. You never slipped away when i kept banging into desks and tables, sharp corners and walls, or even in overwhelming crowds pulling and pushing us in a thousand different directions. You never hid beneath the books and clothes, under bed sheets, behind cupboards, and the general mess that follows me around. You knew me well, always moulding yourself around my moods. On hot, irritating, sticky days, you never cut into me, needling and annoying. In cold, far of places, you warm pressure and familiarity on my wrist was comforting. (And you never left that horrid looking suntan band around my wrist!)

I remember the day a rappelling adventure went wrong, we hung together upside down, about four storeys high, by a single rope, clutching onto the rock with my feet for dear life. I scraped you hard, against the rough rocky wall,and burning rope, and you did not look any worse for the wear. I remember the salt deserts of Kutch, where the sun was beating over head, and dust and grit and mud flew into us in the strong winds. We walked on the rock, sorry, salt hard white ground. With the eerie feeling of being on snow. The whiteness blinding us. My hands were submerged in the frothy water, with sharp, cutting, salt crystals. You took it all in your stride, the froth sweetly dripping away from you, leaving you as untouched as before. I remember you in the verdant forests of Kerela, the rain pouring on us, brushing away twigs and branches, parting thick leaves. You survived the deluge and the onslaught of insects, beetles and other creepy crawlies.

The worst conditions were the discotheques/clubs. A million sweaty bodies, grinding against you to obnoxious music, drinks being spilled, cigarettes singeing, drunken friends clinging at you for support, you withstood it all. You held your own in the more quiet, sophisticated places we went to. Formal dinners, evening social do's, where the cool chicks, wannabe chicklets, and the sophisticated mother hens, with cruella expressions, looked at you in disdain. A big grey sports watch amongst slinky satin dresses and clickity, clackity shoes. You survived the incongruity, the roughest times you think? The nicest times were in the dark. In movie theatres, cabs and ricks. The black nights, the long, lonely, unlit roads. All I had to do was press a button, and you would glow a comforting green, the black digits winking up at me.

All this and more you saw me through. Looking fat and complacent, even when the grey turned to mouldy green and the date display mechanism went haywire. I stopped setting alarms on you when the 12 hour cycle messed up , and you started waking me up at 5 in the morning. But i could never stop using you, because your time keeping was, and still is impeachable, set two min ahead, you never wavered. Even now, you blink away merrily, 4:13 p.m and 15 sec, Wednesday. (if i take the trouble to press another button, it will tell me the month/date too!! ;) ) Inaccurate though. But yesterday, in a boring lecture, one of your clasps broke, just like that, without warning. And now you are strapped delicately, a little shaky. A watch that lived up to its rough use badge, in the roughest of times, is now under Intensive Care even while i turn in my sleep. I'll watch over your last days, maybe a new metal clasp will save you. But I just had to take out the time to write you this, while you were still alive, even if barely so.

Love me.

Monday, 18 June, 2007


Forget replying to comments, i dont have any of those! i cant even figure out how to add anyone to this goddamn thing! My blog is lost in cyber world, no one knows of its existance , and i do not know how to do cool stuff like link and add team members and GOODNESS KNOWS WHAT ELSE. So till i can figure out how to get in touch with other people through my blog, (sigh) i will continue writing and publishing posts to the ghosts that read this, while waiting to be rescued from oblivion!

Saturday, 16 June, 2007


II HATE my journalism professor. He is a biased , prejudiced, venomous, frustrated ,old, old man. who doesn't like anyone's point of view other than his own narrow minded one.He refuses to listen to facts, he refuses to listen to analysis , his idea of a good journalist is one who is good at poetry n philosophical, spiritual, non sensical, abstract SHIT. does that sound like a good teacher to you? He is always confused , as to what his assignments are, as to what guidelines, timings,, method of evaluation ...Everything. He makes personal remarks all the time, asks students about personal opinions about his other students, uses his advantages of being an OLD fartbag of a teacher to continuously make snide comments with a maddening know it all look on his poisonous toad of a face . He is the King of favoritism and is amazingly open about it. He is basically a failed journalist, who worked for some obscure paper, in some obscure post, and thinks no end of him self. His chest is always so far pushed out with pompous pride , that one day, i feel he will loose his balance and fall backward.He is a mass of contradictions, He keeps praising his daughter to high heavens, hoping we will be inspired , at the same time it would be difficult to find a bigger male chauvinistic pig than him.He says he likes formal presentations, then complains its too boring, he says he like spontaneity, and then complains its too unstructured! In an effort to improve himself, at this late stage , he keeps reading self help books, sometimes i wonder why, because he always seems to know better than the authors. He ALWAYS goes of on looong walks down memory lane. Apparently all his memories have him as some amazing intelligent journalist, who baffles people with his sharp thinking! He might be Deep Throat himself, and he tries to say this with a modest air, but his lips, curled in a yellowing grin as he waddles down the aisle with a smug expression always betray the fact! He tries to brush away his ridiculous comments with a false laugh, which makes him sound wondrously like a beached whale. I could go on for ever, about this pathetic excuse of human kind, who picks on his female students to let out his frustration about his loserly life....... but i shall now end . phew!

Wednesday, 13 June, 2007

Cheeni Kum!!!

I just watched Cheeni Kum last evening, an unplanned and thoroughly enjoyable outing. Initially I had been apprehensive about viewing this particular film , because of the done to death , old man loves younger women story, and the inevitable justifications for love that crosses age barriers.Fortunately , the movie lived up to its name(literally, less sugar!) , to a great extent, and was truly, devoid of sugary sweetness.The fast, witty, filled with innuendos dialogs appealed to my sarcastic side. What was most amazing was that one could almost forget it was The Great Bachchan who was acting and actually enjoy the character, something i have not been able to do ever since directors have insisted on him playing the angry old man!

Amitabh Bachchan( Budhadeb Gupta) is a 64 year old irascible , peppery old bachelor , who is the chef, and owner of London's finest Indian restaurant.He lives a life devoid of any spice or social contacts other than his nervy kitchen staff, his old mother, played by Zohra Seghal, and a nine year old girl, Sexy, his confidant, who is full of worldly wisdom and useful advice.Tabu( Nina Verma) is a 34 year old unmarried women, who comes to London, as a tourist.With her unique, subtle sense of humor, silent, smiling ways, and Hyderabadi saffrani( no idea abt the spelling!) pilau adds that zing to the Amitabh's life. The only obstacle to a sweet ending is Paresh Rawal, Nina's father, who is 6 years younger than Budha, and a Gandhian principles follower!

The movie ladles out a delicious helping of Zohra Seghals flawless performance.A funny, endearing , unconventional mother , who cheerfully copes with her cynical, perfectionist of a son, accompanied by a tangy dollop of Sexy's intelligent childish insights.Though i do think her character was a bit unreal, but what is a story without fantasy!

Parish Rawal was a little let down, its a ok ok performance, and the Gandhi element he brings along, seems to be a forced attempt at silly comedy. This is when the film becomes surfeit with too many ingredients. It must something to do with the land! As long as the film is shot in London, the editing is clean, short and rational.But as soon as the film embarks on Indian soil, it gives way to melodrama, myths, minars and murgi! Unfortunately, a little sweetness seeps in , that even Paresh Rawal's declining sugar levels cannot curb!

The frames and visuals , like the script , are fresh,stylish, and edging towards minimal.The music, forgettable. Amitabh looks cool and dashing in his designer sweats and shades! Tabu although by no means young is beautiful, elegant and graceful, her earthiness is refreshing after the bubbly bright,annoyingly, chirpy actresses that old men repeatedly fall in love with!

All in all, Director R.Balki has dished out a delectable debut.

Page 3

Tuesday,May 22, 2007

The teachers are taking revenge for the 20 day holiday that they threw at us! there is too much vague stuff to accomplish. First I have to figure out what the assignments are!!! Plus im gonna have to get used to doing this in broad daylight with annoying people hanging around my comp screen, rather than in the dead of the night. so i shall just leave you with an assignment of mine. Page 3: Then, Now and Next.......

PAGE 3 is more than just a newspaper sheet. It has become a cult of sorts, defining everything that is rich, cool and urbane. A mania, which virtually leapt out of the printed word, to form a fan following across nations. It has had its share and more, of controversy, criticism and credit, but to understand the influence and importance it has in the lives of the present day generation and the impact it has on the future of journalism we must begin at the beginning.

A hint of what was first to be PAGE 3 news, came in the early 19th century. It was delightfully summarized in the words of the editor of the Two penny Dispatcher, Henry Hetherington: "a repository of all the gems and treasures, fun and frolic and "news and occurrences of the week. It shall abound in Police Intelligence, in Murders, Rapes , Suicides , Burnings , Maiming , Theatricals , Races , Pugilism and all manner of moving 'accidents, floods and field.' In short, it will be stuffed with every sort of devilment that will make it sell!” (Source: cited in Stephan's 1988:204) Although some of the items of news listed may not figure in today's PAGE 3, the essence remains the same. Sensational, attention grabbing gossip.

The term PAGE 3 though first became a catchphrase in 1969, when Rupert Murdoch re-launched a British tabloid, The Sun. In a bid to increase circulation, The Sun began featuring topless models on PAGE 3, with a cheeky headline," NEWS IN BRIEFS" Pictures of semi nude models (in briefs of course) were displayed along with tongue in cheek captions, airing the models views on any issue, current news and politics, to everyday happenings. At the end of it all, the page had you in splits. The ploy worked, the sales of The Sun increased by a dramatic 40%, netting a circulation of 2.1 million in a year! The trend has continued ever since, creating the Tabloid Press in U.K and U.S.A., newspapers that print saucy, scandalous gossip and titillating pictures of the rich, famous and infamous. What's more is that these tabloids comfortably outsell the ‘respectable’ newspapers which focus on news.

This trend oozed out of foreign lands and into India once the Indian government lifted the half - century ban on foreign investments in India's print media to allow foreigners to take up 26% stake in news and current affair publications. Soon the Indian readers craved less of Man Mohan and more of Madonna! Unlike the U.S and U.K tabloids, PAGE 3 in India is a little more conservative, so far! It is a spread of the doings of businessmen, politicians, social workers, cops, publishing moguls, models, fashion designers and actors. The paparazzi cover the perfect hosts and their glamorous guests doing what they do best at lavish, exciting and wild events- partying.

PAGE 3 hit India when our very own, 'Old Lady of Boribunder' the Times Of India, (universally known as the TOI) decided to revamp its entire sedate, old fashioned, respectable image. Along with the Times main paper, came cheesy insertions in nine city editions, named Bombay Times, Pune Times, Delhi Times and so on. These are grab bags of gossip and fashion, vivid colourful shots of cleavage and bikinis, of celebrities and celebrity cross dressers, of wannabes and starlets jostling for a shadow in the spotlight, and of cocaine and ecstasy raves. This supplement is unsurpassed, which is good, because even thinking of what might surpass it, is a disconcerting thought to say the very least!

All this has shaken the very foundation of journalism ethics, by throwing up questions like "Is a newspaper obliged to give you news? Like any other product does not a newspaper also exist to make money?" Seen from this point of view, my litany sounds bitter and cynical. After all the newspapers are just giving what the readers seem to want, as confirmed by a Delhi housewife, Sonam Seghal who says," I don't care for boring old politicians. I'd rather read Shobha De," referring to one of India's most popular and glamorous columnist. And Shobha De herself seems to approve of the new trend in journalism. When Mid Day on 11th May 2004, printed what amounted to a rate card for the Bombay times, Ms De said that charging for news space like this, is a "courageous and path breaking decision……legitimate and transparent" Also adding that "this is the trend of journalism for the coming years" It all goes to show that people now have started looking at newspapers and journalism differently. When a person like Ms De thinks that charging for news space is a fine, courageous and path breaking, is it we who should reconsider our ideas about the press? After all we anyway get our real news from the T.V news channels, which thankfully are doing a much better job than the newspapers at reporting news, barring the occasional headaches like the Abhi-Ash wedding! And if Bennett, Coleman and Co, the Ramnath Goenka Group and various other publishing houses want to make their profits like any other business houses do, then all this is fair enough right?

Except, the press is not like a business house, in a free and democratic society the press works to inform and protect us , to bring to light those who subvert democracy, and ask the questions it has been given the right to ask to keep a society thriving. When you look around and see the pending court cases, the corrupt politicians in power, criminals on the loose, emblazoning of government relief funds for natural disasters and the very occurrence of famines and natural disasters like the tsunamis in South India and the cyclones in Orissa, you cannot help but think of something that Amartya Sen has repeatedly said, famines do not happen in democracies. That is because a vigilant and free press keeps government machinery working to head of or mitigate disaster. Which is why our constitution like constitutions all over the world guarantees the press their freedom, you will mark, that they do not guarantee a business house their profits.

How do you think that before PAGE 3 the newspapers kept their readership and circulation alive? By hardcore investigative journalism, and I mean investigative journalism, not sleazy sting operations! U.S.A had the famous Watergate, the fall of the most powerful government in the world by just two journalists! India had the blank sheets of the Indian Express during the Emergency, a spectacular display of journalistic integrity that the nation applauded. Now it seems that the newspapers have taken an easier, sleazier way out to raise circulation! TOI after all is the largest selling broadsheet in the world with a circulation of 8.1million (source: ABCJJ04, JD04) and is clearly a market driving force rather than a market driven one, thereby forcing the rest of the nation’s newspapers to follow the trend they set. Coming to the question, which is, what is the future trend that they are trying to set? After all if it were sensational PAGE 3 news, I think it would be a lot more sensational portrayal of Sanjeev Nanda, the Delhi business tycoon at glamorous events with captions of his killing 7 innocent people with his drunk driving, rather than describing his costly suit! But the principles and ethics of PAGE 3 journalism remain elusive, what is it?

A culture of trivial pastimes and idle gossip, which is a temporary stimulant for the stagnant brain? A human zoo where all kinds of wild things hang out in high spirits, under the scrutiny of a flashbulb? Or just a social phenomenon that elevates or condemns the PAGE 3 people, depending on their morality levels? Whatever it is, it is a trend that is hugely evolving, with its successor, reality television.

A world of glitz and glamour

Urban folklore

Of Colgate smiles and Botox galore!

Funerals that turn into fashion hotspots

Everyone trying to prove how much they cost

For us readers it’s a thrill

A glimpse into the fast life

Don’t be fooled it’s a pretty box with nothing inside

Tuesday, 12 June, 2007

A messy transfer......

I posted stuff on another blogsite before, and am going to transfer all those here, hence the discrepencies in dates and god knows what else. Anyone reading this should also know that i am extremely technologically challenged.. dont assume i will know how to read anything you might have left for me or reply immideatly. First posts are supposed to be somewhat special......... HA, this is all for now!