Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good Old Radio

I have been listening to radio right from my young age. Belonging to a generation in which television entered into the drawing rooms slowly, I was fortunate enough to enjoy listening to radio before satellite TV spread its tentacles far and wide and almost pushed radio to the brink. Thanks to FM, radio is once again finding favor with many sections of the population.

The song featured "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles exemplified the takeover of video generation. "Koi yahaan naache naache" from Disco Dancer is a dead lift from "Video Killed the Radio Star" - Bappi Lahiri blatantly lifted everything from the robotically sung verse melody to the unmistakable "oh-wa-oh"s.

I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you.
If I was young it didn't stop you coming through.

Oh-a oh

They took the credit for your second symphony.
Rewritten by machine and new technology,
and now I understand the problems you can see.

Oh-a oh

I met your children
Oh-a oh

What did you tell them?
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.

Pictures came and broke your heart.
Oh-a-a-a oh

And now we meet in an abandoned studio.
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago.
And you remember the jingles used to go.

Oh-a oh

You were the first one.
Oh-a oh

You were the last one.

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone to far
Oh-a-aho oh,
Oh-a-aho oh

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.

In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone to far.
Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VTR.

You are a radio star.
You are a radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.

Video killed the radio star. (You are a radio star.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

To Blog or Not To Blog !

Just the other day, I came across a piece in The Hindu supplement NXG about ubiquitous blogs. The article went on to talk about a book titled The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen. In the book, he says there are more than 53 million blogs on the Net, and the number doubles every six months ! If this trend continues (I am not sure why it should not), he says there will be over five hundred million blogs by 2010 ! He goes on to say that we are blogging with "monkey-like shamelessness about our private lives, our sex lives, our dream lives, and our lack of lives." His point is mediocrity thrives in cyberspace. Though I think he has a point there, I think it is one's own prerogative to blog or not. Blogs are just tools, it is up to you to exercise it properly. Personally I have gained quite a few friends from blogging and I am not to going to stop blogging too soon. Just like there are people who meticulously jot down their thoughts in their diaries, today's generation makes use of tools like blogs, Facebook, Orkut for communication and networking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

MetroNation Chennai

I am pretty excited to learn that NDTV will be launching English TV channel in Chennai soon. I have always been an admirer of NDTV's professionalism right from the 1990s of The World This Week masterfully hosted by Mr. Prannoy Roy and his election special analysis. It is interesting to learn that they are entering into joint venture with a venerable media institution in South India, The Hindu. Hope their synergy works magic and be an antidote to daily droll aired by umpteen number of regional channels.

I am reproducing below the report:

After launching MetroNation in Delhi last September, NDTV Group plans to launch the city-specific channel in Chennai by October-end.

Prannoy Roy-promoted NDTV Ltd is floating a joint venture company with The Hindu Group to launch a Chennai city-centric channel.

NDTV will hold 51 per cent in the JV while the Hindu Group will have the balance 49 per cent. The JV will launch MetroNation Chennai, marking Hindu's foray into television news broadcasting.

"We are setting up a joint venture company with The Hindu Group where we will hold 51 per cent. Hindu is a reputed brand at the regional and national level. It was a natural gravitation towards each other," NDTV Group CEO KVL Narayan Rao tells

The relationship will also extend to content-sharing with the most popular English newspaper in Tamil Nadu. "We aim to launch MetroNation Chennai in the next 3-4 months," Rao says.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Chennai

It has been 369 years since the founding of our dear old Chennai. On August 22, 1639, Francis Day of East India Company received a piece of land from a local chieftain and that's how Madras came into being. A sleepy fishing hamlet is now a sprawling metropolis - IT hub, medical capital of India and so on. Bit conservative yes, but nowadays a happening city. Born and brought up in Chennai, I am very proud of my city. On this occasion, I have to commend Mr. S. Muthiah who through his books and columns has brought out graphically the various facets of Chennai in all its glory.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cybernetic H(e)aven !

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

This was written by American writer Richard Brautigan in late 1960s. He envisages a future where computers, humans and animals will co-exist in a peaceful manner. This poem exudes rosy optimism in stark contrast to dark futures foretold by many a book in which computers take over the world and even supplant us human beings.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Khudiram Bose

Today an advertisement issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in The Hindu caught my eye. It carried a photo of a young lad, Khudiram Bose, with the words "The Youngest Revolutionary who laid his life in the Service of mother India". He has lived hardly 19 years ! I vaguely recall reading about him long back in NCERT history book alongside the names of well known revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad. I set about to research about him on the net. Wikipedia had an entry on him about how he planned to assassinate Kingsford, the Calcutta Presidency Magistrate, but inadvertently killed two British ladies instead. He was arrested and sentenced to death. Wikipedia says "he was hanged on August 11, 1908. But the one thing that surprised everyone was that as he was hanged he was still smiling. And to this the Bengali poet Kaji Najrul Islam wrote a poem to honor him."
As our 61st Independent Day is fast approaching, let us pause a moment and think about the immense sacrifice of people like Khudiram Bose and do our bit towards making our motherland proud.

Red Letter Day

Today is a red letter day in history of Indian sports. Abhinav Bindra did all of us Indians proud by winning the Olympic gold medal in shooting. Let us hope that this 25-year-old lad's grand accomplishment will inspire many of our sportsmen to go for the gold.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Red Earth and Pouring Rain

Tamil Sangam literature is cherished for its richness. Though I have just nibbled at the edges of its vast richness, the following sample will suffice, I think, for its greatness. See the usage of the metaphor of red earth and pouring rain for lover's longing. I have given the poem in its Tamizh original and its English translation by inimitable A K Ramanujan.

Incidentally I remember reading elsewhere that this vintage Tamil verse became the first (also the only Asian and Indian) poem in a set of six, displayed on the London subway through June-July 2001.

குறிஞ்சி - தலைவன் கூற்று

யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே.

-செம்புலப் பெயனீரார்.

Red earth and pouring rain

What could my mother be
to yours? What kin is my father
to yours anyway? And how
Did you and I meet ever?
But in love
our hearts have mingled
as red earth and pouring rain

Translated by AK Ramanujan (Kuruntokai - 40)

A poem from the Eight Anthologies Collection.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Today NDTV 24x7 featured blogger Mayank Austen Soofi in their breakfast news with the news that he could be the youngest India to be featured in Pakistani textbooks aimed at 11th standard students. This piqued by interest and I did research on him on net and came across his blogs and also a write-up on him in The Hindustan Times (July24, 2008). Let me reproduce it below:

He has broken new ground on the blogosphere. Twenty-eight-year-old journalist-blogger Mayank Austen Soofi, 28, could become the youngest Indian to be published in a Pakistani textbook.

Soofi’s blog Pakistan Paindabad aims to shatter stereotyped Indian perceptions about its neighbour. “People treat Pakistan as a country of terrorist camps, but there are swanky cafes, pretty girls, galleries, writers… a very Khan Market crowd. I wanted people to see that it’s as normal as India,” he says.

Samuel Ray, editor, Oxford University Press, Pakistan, recently wrote to Soofi showing interest in using material from his blog for an English textbook for class XI students. “It’s great. Nothing’s finalised yet, but if I’m published it will be a slap to all those people who think Pakistani publishing is all about India haters,” says Soofi.

The excerpts being sought are from a series called ‘Five Best Things About Pakistan’, wherein Soofi got writers, activists and common people from Pakistan or of Pakistani origin to pick their top five.

On his first visit to Pakistan in 2006 for the World Social Forum, Soofi fell in love with the country. His travelogue on Heera Mandi, Lahore’s red light district, has garnered interested from Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “But he doesn’t want me to talk about it yet,” he shrugs.

The assistant editor with Hindustan Times has five blogs that he updates regularly. And if you are wondering how the nomenclature came about, he is officially Mayank Singh but his passion for Jane Austen and Sufism made him denounce a sectarian identity.

It is indeed heartening to know that he is doing his bit towards friendship with our neighbor. We , Indians, should realize that not all Pakistanis are terrorists hellbent on destroying us. An average Pakistani is as much peace loving as we Indians are.

"88888" Campaign

I have been reading in newspapers for the last few days about the plan to voluntarily switch off power at 8 p.m. to 8:08 p.m. for eight minutes on August 8th in symbolic support of Exnora's campaign to create awareness about global warming . It is indeed a laudable initiative. It is heartening to read that many school students have taken a pledge to implement the plan. It is high time young school kids are sensitized to environmental concerns at an early age. I will do my bit too and switch off power on 8th August at 8 p.m. and sensitize my son Nikhil towards saving our fragile ecosystem.