Who stole my Nephelococcygia days?

ITs a Big Day today.  The might of the Indian Armed Forces- Army, Navy and Air Force will be on display. We shall know once again ,  how safe are our skies. and who keeps them so. There will be Saare Jahan  SE Achcha……. Ye Mere Watan Ke Logon………. and the National Anthem . There will be a billion lumpy throats and two billion misty eyes, most of them glued to the telly,  as Doordarshan belts out its staid commentary on the wonders  wrought by our rockets,  missiles, fighter jets, missile- launchers, and  finale of the tri-colour clouds that trail  artistic strokes in the skyline with great flourish as fighter jets fly past in salute to  the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. This being the first Republic Day I am going senti over  away from the Motherland, I am not sure the voice-overs are by Komal G.B.Singh, Rini Simon, and/or Suneet Tandon.

This awesome show is interspersed with vignettes of  what ordinary Indians do under the safe sky of the Republic of India,  during the rest of the year- they dance the Bhangra, swing a lavani,  beat the dollu,  they celebrate Hampi, Konarak and Taj Mahal. They  show of their wildlife, the folk culture and celebrate the glory of unity in diversity that is India.

Everything though, is  very reassuring. Even when the bravehearts of our Armed Forces are posthumously decorated, and we are  briefly misty-eyed and grieve with the families of the martyrs, knowing they’ve passed into the realm of legend. Perhaps the Why? What for? quotient of these sacrifices will never be settled one way or other until war goes away altogether.

We are 60 now.  And each of these 60 years,  We The People Of India, have  remembered on this day the Preamble to Our Constitution, and believed that as soldiers protect our borders with their lives, because they CHOSE TO,  those who were CHOSEN by us to secure for us the Justice, Liberty Equality and Fraternity have done so, and continue to do so.

As in :

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the Nation;



I wonder………..

What Republic Day and this Preamble to The Constitution means to some people, and Why:

Raj Thackeray who wants everybody to go home except Marathi Manoos.

The BJP Government In Karnataka that wants to reward law-breakers and punish law-abiding citizens with its Akrama-Sakrama scheme.

Karunanidhi who was more worried about the fate of Tamils across the sea in anotehr country, than the ones under his nose who “CHOSE”  him to be their Chief Minister.

The parent-body of a Leftist youth wing in Kerala which appropirated to itself the powers to moral/culture police a pair of adult (one male and one female of the species) in private terrain, and threatened a prominent citizen with dire consequences for protesting.

I also wonder……….

Who  stole my NEPHELOCOCCYGIA days?

Cloud-watching.  I don’t remember ever voting to lose my nephelococcygia rights. Lying on the grass ,  in our own garden, staring up at the azure sky puncuated with mountainous quantities of  cotton fluff that moved and changed shapes.  A world where cauliflower met cow, and cotton fluff turned into mashed potatoes, a dragon swooped breathing fire out of  the castle as  pigs morphed into Noddy’s car and Big Ears  floated past nodding sagely, or the Beast turned REALLY LIVID and went quite grey with suppressed rage, when suddenly a halo of sun rays backlit a wicked witch poised on a rhinoceros…………. No one saw the same thing. My rhino was ridiculous to your dolphin, and angels don’t do obvious no-brainer things like hide among the clouds.

Cloud watching  always happened unplanned. It didn’t happen often. It rarely happens now, and there are  plenty of parents out there who have not  introduced  children to the joys of  nephelococcygia. There is no time, and besides which kid believes there’s a Universe out there, beyond the iPhone?

But the awful truth that struck home on Republic Day is that the people We Chose have stolen our cloud-watching rights. I can no longer look out of my window to watch the sky and the clouds.  My neighbour just traded his (and mine) right to my bit of the sky by allowing the BBMP to eat into his (and mine) plot of land ( ostensibly so we could have a wider road) and let him build a couple of storeys that ate my bit of sky, and forever darkened the view from  window. No one asked me.

A mother-and-child , or buddies can no longer stroll down the MG Road Promenade, or even the footpath hoping to catch a bit of the sun and sky and clouds because soon all we’ll see is the underbelly of NAmma Metro as it hurtles across what once used to be a face of Bangalore.

I still wonder………………….

What is the point of  our soldiers dying, and keeping our skies safe.  If we can’t catch a glimpse of our  imaginary worlds forming and changing on the BIG BLUE SCREEN without any interference?


India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.

I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage

I shall strive to be worthy of it

I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders, respect, and treat everyone with courtesy

To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion

In their wellbeing and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.


Swami Vivekanada  gave us this gem. But does it mean anything to some of those honorables mentioned above?

The Butterfly Effect of Bawdy Language

It is the lull after the storm. Having rained profanity on camera,  the Ex-PM has speedily put it all behind him, said sorry, and moved on.  From bawdy language to blustering apology to laughing his way out, it was a breeze for the Ex-PM.

For the hacks, it is dead news, probably to be dusted and brought down from the attic at the end of the year,  to figure in  the list of  2010’s WORST, or BEST,  MEMORABLE, OR FORGETTABLE….. Its use-by date just fluttered by, but not before many went back to their rookie days, and wrote columns or blogs revisiting the Deve Gowda of their wet-behind-the-ears days. After falling out with Hegde, he was the same rustic, earthy politician wallowing in the glory of his days as a minister, given to mouthing the same profanity at press conferences in his trademark droll, mumblesome manner.

Only, that was also the time when pretty young things  strayed into journalism, (it wasn’t  politically incorrect to call them PYT in those years, and press conferences were not the melee’ that it has become today,  and everyone knew which reporter was coming from which paper, and it was all bonhomie and family-like, and print journalists didn’t have to end up staring at  the backsides of camera crew, wondering if  they were at the right PC. Of course, now print journalism is much more easier- lift irrigation from Sanjevani, and watching the Kannada 24/7 news channels and some creative writing can result in a reasonably good report that will cheat the Editor for some time )  and inevitably, started to cover his press conferences which meant he had to mind his language, and bite his tongue sheepishly very often, until he learnt to be more kosher,  and took to administering a paternal gaze at the PYTs who became regulars. It was “brother…..” for the guys and ”  adu sistaire……..” for the girls.

Hegde   was a charmer, and many journalists (male and female) clamoured to  attend his press conferences even if  it meant poaching on a colleague’s beat, for the sheer delight of watching him focus the famous glad eye on the best looking (female) reporter in the hall, as he adroitly fielded questions from another corner.  The “object” of Hegde’s attention always had to suffer a great deal of teasing, while everyone trundled out with the story of the day, usually ruing that the “real” copy was  just an occupational hazard, never to be printed, unless someone thought to write their memoirs.

Not that Deve Gowda’s  press meets were all dull . You could’nt nod off, or  play tick-tack-toe with your neighbour, or look out the window wondering when the glucose biscuit, 4 fried cashew nuts and the coffee would come, for fear of missing the news in the monotone.

It was all kosher, however. Which is more than can be said for  the toxic language that is now enshrined in the air-waves for eternity.

And there is the BUTTERFLY EFFECT.

The Butterfly Effect was an idea that MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz came up with, to illustrate the concept that small events CAN have  consequences of great magnitude– a devastating storm might have its roots in  the flapping of a tiny butterfly in another continent half-way across the world.

In his June 8,2008  article in The Boston Globe, Peter Dizikes, writes,  “translated into mass culture, the butterfly effect has become a metaphor for the existence of seemingly insignificant moments that alter history and shape destinies. Typically unrecognized at first, they create threads of cause and effect that appear obvious in retrospect, changing the course of a human life or rippling through the global economy.”

The article also talks of how “THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT” leapt out of Lorenz’s lab to become a catch-phrase and even a title of a movie. In its avatar as a catch-phrase, according to Dizikes, its meaning has become much distorted from the original. The larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we CAN’T.  To claim a butterfly’s wings can cause a storm, after all, is to raise the question: How can we definitively say what caused any storm, if it could be something as slight as a butterfly? Lorenz’s work gives us a fresh way to think about cause and effect, but does not offer easy answers.

But the popular meaning of the catch-phrase suits us just now.

This  post itself is a consequence of the “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” of  Gowda’s foul language.  As are dozens of others, and the editorials, and the Letters To The Editor in scores of newspapers and magazines.

While on the topic, most people , you’d expect, would focus on the man and his bawdy language . But the Butterfly Effect comes into play willy nilly, and someone objects to Deve Gowda being called Animated Ragi Mudde. It is not clear whether offense has been taken on behalf of the ragi mudde, or the man who globalised  it. Though it’s obvious  the offense-taker could use a funny bone.

Millions of Indians must be wanting to learn Kannada now,  especially the toxic words, and a smart publisher could make a killing.  Mind Your Language may not have to resort to it, but naughty words are great ice-breakers.

Deve Gowda’s rivals, in particular the target of his invectives, must be animatedly exploring possibilities of exploiting the “flutter” that Gowda created, before he claims copyright and proprietary rights over the video clip . As a consequence of such exploration by said rivals,  Gowda may not have to beg that the offending video be removed, since the   target of his invectives will do it himself., for fear that Gowda turn the whole episode round to his advantage entirely, using any means.

So we come to  Lorenz’s question in his 1972 paper “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” He was talking about climate and weather forecasting, and demonstrating that the “innumerable interconnections of nature  exist between a butterfly’s  flapping of the wings and a tornado.

Just like Deve Gowda’s  Bawdy Language and  the offense quotient of Animated Ragi Mudde.

The Profanities of An Animated Ragi Mudde

By Belur Chennakeshava!

We are copycats, but we are also honest. And we have no hesitation in admitting , By Toutatis! that we have taken a leaf out of the Gauls’ book.  And Belur IS ex-PM  country.

Sundays never cease to surprise.   It’s the day our Humble Former declares  Open Season for Profanity. The Humble Former who looks more like an Animated Ragi Mudde (it’s true, you are what you eat)  every day,  has a head start.  But is there a contest on?  The target of his profane outing apparently called him “a desperate man” and had a good day at the movies watching 3 Idiots. As Chief Minister, he doesn’t  care to stoop to the level of an  ex-PM, and everything has its place and time.

ARM’s profanities have prompted a little research into the subject of swearing and  X-rated oaths.  Many great men have extolled the virtues of swearing. The most famous advocate of swearing as a tonic, is of course, Mark Twain.

My favourite Twain  is Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.

On Sunday, our Homa-loving Desperately Drastic Gnarlatron ( I started to make that  one up, got as far as Gnark, but these days Googling is the mother of invention, and that’s how I found  in  Urban Dictionary. Gnarlatron –Any person or thing that exceeds awesome or sick. Often referred to as uber gnarly or “gnarlatron.” Eg. “Dude, that trick was so gnarlatron!”) Gnark is a word too, but I digress.

HDDG, aka ARM, is not dogged by  morning-after pangs of regret. He has already winged it to Delhi, and is brazening it out with the media, claiming the “excesses of Yeddyurappa ” chiefly being in the chair where he’d rather see his own son sitting, are too provocative for anyone as tolerant as him.  His sons are gamely holding out against attacks from foes-turned-friends-turned-foes,  with threats of retaliation if said f-turned-f-turned-fs didn’t call their protesting pack to heel.  Urgent, desperate circumstances that only profanity can mitigate!

The target of his inglorious epithets,  who went  from numb-with-shock to awestruck ( I mean, it takes guts to swear on camera, even if you have little to lose) to probably-gleeful-in-his sleeve,  couldn’t have asked for more. His shoulders are suddenly lighter by a messy party (of his own making),  an uneasy chair, and enemies within. Amazing what profanity can do.  You get to be the lesser of all evils for free,  though there’s an outside chance that all that name-calling might actually be close to the truth. And he can sue.

Back to our little thesis on profanities and what wise men  say.

Mark Twain had plenty to say on profanity, and knew how to swear without the fear of  punishment. He seems to have applied a couple of them in his life too.  He wrote in  Roughin’  It – I was…blaspheming my luck in a way that made my breath smell of brimstone.

Wonder what one’s  breath smells of when one blasphemes an Ungrateful Wretch,  which is what the ARM would like us to call the CM.


…quadrilateral, astronomical, incandescent son-of-a-bitch.
– Letter to W. D. Howells, (attacking an enemy)  Mark Twain did relish swearing!!

When you’re mad, count four; when you’re very mad, swear! But most of us don’t wait to count four! at least I don’t!
– quoted in A Lifetime with Mark Twain: The Memories of Katy Leary.

(Animated Ragi Mudde    counts only when it suits him, and thinks he has something to gain from it. Okay, everybody makes mistakes.)

All through the first ten years of my married life I kept a constant and discreet watch upon my tongue while in the house, and went outside and to a distance when circumstances were too much for me and I was obliged to seek relief. I prized my wife’s respect and approval above all the rest of the human race’s respect and approval. I dreaded the day when she should discover that I was but a whited sepulcher partly freighted with suppressed language. I was so careful, during ten years, that I had not a doubt that my suppressions had been successful. Therefore I was quite as happy in my guilt as I could have been if I had been innocent. – Mark Twain’s Autobiography

ARM doesn’t have the problem of  having to control his profane predilictions in the presence of his long-suffering wife,  and longer-suffering public).

There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that- Twain said it, but I’m guessing ARM doesn’t know that, or doesn’t care if he did.

Twain said: The idea that no gentleman ever swears is all wrong. He can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and benevolent and affectionate way. Of course our Animated Ragi Mudde swore, not in a nice, benevolent and affectionate way, though today he wants  people to be nice, benevolent and affectionate to him and his,  and consider how provocative the circumstances are just now.

The Animated Ragi Mudde may have heard of Mark Twain, or not,  but  Twain’s pearls on profanity seem tailor-made for him-   Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed, Twain wrote in Notebook, 1898.


If I cannot swear in heaven I shall not stay there. – Notebook, 1898

So where the hell are we?

Did the CM swear? Just because he said nothing, or very little, it doesn’t mean he didn’t.  Mark Twain has quotes for that too. He didn’t utter a word, but he exuded mute blasphemy from every pore. – Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Some profanity funda  (for ARM to meditate on, and for others to gloat on)

Profanity is the weapon of the witless.

Profanity is the attempt of the lazy and feeble mind to express itself forcefully.

When a man uses profanity to support an argument, it indicates that either the man or the argument is weak- probably both.

Profanity is the common crutch of the conversational cripple-  David Keuck.

Can  profanity be good for anyone?  Cheering news for newspaper fellows:

My approach to newspapers was based on the idea that when you looked at the front page you said: ‘Good heavens’, when you looked at the middle page you said: ‘Holy smoke’, and by the time you got to the back page, well, I’d have to utter a profanity to show how exciting it was. -British Journalist  Arthur Christiansen, in Headlines all my Life.

Well, I’ll be……….

Five Pointless Someone!

Poor Chetan Bhagat.

Books get made into movies all the time . One famous book-as-movie celebrated its 70th anniversary a few weeks back. And no one even imagines  Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind without  Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler departing with  his devastating “frankly my dear , I don’t  give a damn.” Nor can Scarlett O”Hara’ s vixen-face belong to anyone but Vivien Leigh.

But mostly, Margaret Mitchell didn’t have to be worried sick about rolling credits,or calculate the percentage of adaptation from book to movie.   Authors like to be given due credit, as did Chetan Bhagat for “3 Idiots”, and  in most cases, they do get what they want. Even if you are not  J.K.Rowling, or Stephanie Meyer,  but just Chetan Bhagat,  producers are not going to forget to put “based on” or ” adapted from”, right up in the main titles, in the BEGINNING of the  movie,  when everyone  is glued  to their seats, as a opposed to rolling credits when folks are scrambling to be the first at the parking lot, and couldn’t care if  the writer got his due or not.

Even if they rewrote the script a dozen times, and the movie doesn’t resemble the book one whit, the author got his credits. Like Peter Benchley, whose 1974 book Jaws became Spielberg’s blockbuster movie, bearing no resemblence (as Benchley complained to Spielberg, who didn’t really care) – Jaws is now regarded as a watershed film in motion picture history, the father of the summer blockbuster movie. And it is the first movie to have grossed $100 million for its producers. It is always mentioned in the list of 100 Greatest Films Ever Made.

But it still is Peter Benchley’s story. Right from the opening credits.

Another movie, another book. Just a year ago. Slumdog Millionaire. The book was a good read,  a page-turner that I started reading on the ride home from Blossom’s on Church Street, and finished two hours later at home. The movie, alas, wasn’t the book. I liked the book better (I always do. Like the goat  in Jokes for All Occasions- that has just feasted on a roll of   negatives of Gone With The Wind,  someone actually threw in the garbage dump, and says on a burp,  “I like the book better”).

If I were Vikas Swarup, I would rather have seen more of  Q&A in  the movie than Slumdog Millionaire featured before meandering away from the storyline. But it was the year of  The White Tiger at the Booker’s and India-as-muck was the flavour of the season, and movies do exaggerate, and you don’t really have to like all the movies that come back with the Oscars. So Vikas Swarup had a great time at Oscar’s, he got his credits, and  Q&A is now called Slumdog Millionaire.

Of course, Slumdog Millionare wasn’t really an Indian movie. I mean, it was about Indian, but it rode to the Oscar’s on English shoulders, and the non-Oscar A.R.Rehman is far more admirable ouvre than what he gave us in Slumdog., I thought. Mind you he is the best, after Ilayaraja,  who is a legend, though without an Oscar. Yet. And we are proud of all the Oscars that Rehman and  Resul Pookutty brought back home.

Many years ago another Oscar did come to India.  Another “Indian movie”   Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi took eight Oscars in 1982, and a solitary one came to the very Indian Bhanu Atthaya for costume-designing.

Can Chetan Bhagat with his average novel,  with very “ordinary Indians as readers”,  dream of  sweet revenge? Or is it too late to connect the dots differently?

I did buy Five Point Someone at Blossom’s on Church Street, but I regret to report I didn’t finish it. It was a page-turner, of a different kind- I skipped pages, and don’t really remember how the book ended. I’ve yet  to watch 3 Idiots, but  I don’t have to watch it to know its a shame he didn’t get his opening credits. But this time, I don’t think I’m going to say I like the book better.

In 2011, 3 Idiots is going to bid for Oscars. I  think I have a “I-told-you-so” moment to look forward to on this one. Will it be third-time lucky for producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who went a-wooing the Oscars with Parinda and more recently, Ekalavya?

Somehow, I  don’t think so, though I’d like NOT to have an “I-told-you-so” moment on this one.  Slumdog and Gandhi were not  India’s entries. At least Mother India, our first foray into Oscars, in 1957, actually made the list. And until Lagaan (2001)  there were no nomination. Neither has there been any since.  Oscars, is not really the goal of Indian cinema. It could be that aspiring to Oscars means some good, memorable cinema comes our way. Taare Zameen Par didn’t make it, but it’s still a good movie, but any guesses on why it didn’t make it?  More Hollywood movies of  TZP’s genre have been flung out on its ears by Oscars’ selectors than anyone cares to remember. And it can’t have been because the translators were dyslexic.  Devdas was opulent, and we love watching it over and over,  mostly for Madhuri Dixit’s   “Maar Dala”.

Ekalavya? It probably got in because  like the original Ekalavya,  someone couldn’t do a thumbs-down on it.

3 Idiots at Oscars seems doable. However. Should Vidhu Vinod Chopra worry about  rolling credits?  May be not. Oscars doesn’t do sympathetic selections, which is  generally the preferred  method of selection in India.

Moral: The books-to-movies story in India will never be the same again. There may not be an “official book-to-movie” story anymore.  Producers may just not think of talking to authors who expect credit where it is due, and simple help themselves to the book.

Trend: People may linger to watch the rolling credits from now on.  Or the question may not arise if the moral of the story  is upheld.

For Chetan Bhagat:  It’s too late, though, to join the party, and   reprint another lot of Five Point Someone as “3 Idiots”, taking a leaf out of Vikas Swarup’s book.