31 Aug 2006

Death comes easy

Earlier this year, pro-whaling nations won a vote by the narrowest margin (33-32, with 1 abstention) to implement a “sustainable consumptive use of whale stocks". 
Japan has declared its intention to double its catch of minke whales for “scientific research”. This annual catch will also include - for the first time since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 - at least 50 each of humpback and fin whales for research. There is, of course, no independent verification of the number of whales actually taken. Catch sizes are voluntary declarations, the real number of whales killed could be substantially higher.

Japan maintains that hunting whales is a part of its cultural heritage, which other nations have no right to condemn. Commercial interests dictate the warped logic that an increased whale populations have led to the depletion of global fisheries stocks. But there are contradictory claims that a glut in the Japanese markets have led to whale meat being sold as pet food.

On another note, researchers are now developing a “scooping” technique to accurately measure the age of whales, without having to kill them. “If the technique works, it would put a large nail in the coffin of Japan's argument for a scientific whaling programme," says Phil Clapham, a whale biologist at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, Washington.

Nature, it appears, is easily flogged.

26 Aug 2006

plunder, plunder everywhere...

Let it bleed - The depraved logic driving the continual plunder of our natural resources

24 Aug 2006

sanity, revisited

Fluttering shimmer
Scarves in the wind
Toiling handlooms
High designs
Of calloused hands
Smothering mountains

Milking cows
Drinking elephants
Green cards
Java codes
Monkey willing
The Superpower shall emerge
Resplendent in ochre
From glowing embers
Of our pristine Sati.
Bow low, ye all
At the lotus feet
Of the spaghetti-topped diva

Mumblings of the Sane

Change Manager

Poverty alleviator and a quiet contributor to social change - an interesting reading at TCSDaily, on Wal-Mart's impact on global economics

22 Aug 2006


Milking cows, drinking elephants.

The Monkey willing, The Superpower shall emerge glowing from this darkness.

...and i`m to be liking it !

Bismillah and his shehnai...

Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916-2006) passed away yesterday.

Ever since i (and whole generations) began to appreciate music, the name Bismillah was synonymous with the shehnai. i have persisting childhood memories of cool winter evenings, marriage receptions, the delicate fragrance of attar sprayed in the air and the sweet strains of the shehnai over the music system. The Ustad’s name slowly rotating on the red label on the LP record.

The last time i watched him perform with his entourage (his accompanists were all his family - sons, grandsons and cousins) was at the Music Academy in Chennai, Oct 2002. 

What magical melody and power from the lungs of the frail master ! The ragas leapt melodious heights the moment the rakish baritone of his shehnai joined in. i sat there awestruck, listening to his playful jugalbandi with the tabla.

He was already old and professed his inability to play continuously for very long. But even then, he serenaded us over a couple of hours. Sitting on the dais cross-legged and erect, his hallmark cap perched on his grey hairs, he belied his advanced age. He was 87.

He spoke to the mesmerized audience in earnest – and a child-like frankness - of his years of taalim and the time he spent in rewaaz everyday. How he wished there would be schools where pupils would learn music in the guru-shishya tradition. He lamented the young generation forsaking the country’s rich musical tradition and musicians eager for early commercial success without committing to the rigours of achievement. As always, he minced no words, he spoke straight from his heart.

The audience hosted two stalwarts of Indian music that evening - the Ustad and A R Rahman. Rahman could only speak Tamil and English, while Ustadji spoke Urdu and Hindi. As he wrapped a shawl around Rahman, the Ustad remarked that even though he did not remember listening to his music, he knew that AR was a famous and successful musician. Far more successful than he was himself ! An observation loaded with irony. The two maestros, from far ends of the Indian music spectrum, briefly exchanged pleasantries, with the compere for the evening doubling up as their interpreter.
That was not so long ago.

But writing these lines today, it is a sad realization that curtains have come down on another great act. Another pantheon of Indian classical music has succumbed to time - leaving behind memories and sweet music to the ears.

19 Aug 2006

Docs from China

This is college admission season and am pleasantly surprised by the absence of the multitudes of MBBS in China (with pagoda and all) advertisements which adorned the classifieds section of the Times Of India, till last year.

The one advertisement that still appears with regularity in the TOI, Pune reads :
MBBS in China
Choice of 8 Top Rank Uni.
English Medium
Eligibility min 50%in 12th
MCI Curriculum
WHO & GOVT. Recognized
300 Students already studying
GATEWAY Overseas Education
24275037 / 9890799993

i thank the Management of The Times of India for their sense of responsibility to the aam janta by not printing those pagoda advertisements any more. Would appreciate if the above could also go off print.

The novel menace is the regular (TOI, Pune 7 / 8 / 9 Aug 2006 and many more) Study in Russis - MBBS - BDS - MD - MS advertisement inserted with the contact details of Dr. Suhas Mane MD (Russia) #020-25510118 / 56024111 / 94224 10508 / 93701 60708 and a website.

Ergo, the good Dr. Mane probably makes more rokra as enrolment consultancy fees, than from his medical practice.
btw, the only other MD (Russia) i have seen in print was a doctor’s signage in a small village, during my bus journey from Chennai to Kodikarai (earlier called Point Calimere), on a bird-watching trip a few years ago.

5 Aug 2006

Charmed Quirk

i have this white T-shirt in which i laze around at home. Worn and soft with the years, it sports a multicolour “Charmed” across the chest. Complete with 3 squirts of pastel paint - one each of green, blue and red.

Those were the days when i would slouch around town in a pair of blue jeans and the T-shirt. Never so much of a Casanova, i could only hazarded wild guesses reading the minds of female (and male) readers !

To all friends and acquaintances who cared to ask (and dared to display their ignorance) what it stood for, i just pointed to the back.
Quirky matter that ! i had “Quark” painted on the back.

3 Aug 2006


PERFETTI does it again - i have a Protex Happydent chewing gum packet in my hand.
This one boasts the disclaimer – CONTAINS ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER AND FOR CALORIE CONSCIOUS. Pray, what is this supposed to mean ?

Many Perfetti product wrappers carry these pearls of English. Someone must have been hard at work, transliterating !

Beware of the rights you surrender to the hosting site you use - interesting thoughts here

1 Aug 2006

Mining the Story

The channels covered the haematite mafia a few days ago, i lent my weeny bit to the freakonimics and now, the Businessworld runs a cover story on the plunder (?) of our iron mines.

Interesting, how different media trigger each other and run the smae (or similar) lead stories... i no longer have to hunt for a story, i just keep my eyes open !