Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The evil that men do..

..when guided by religion is pretty limited. Well, at least as compared to a host of other reasons like economics, pride, race and nationalism. No? Think of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Taimur, Alexander, Hitler, Caeser, Tughlaq, Akbar, Babur, Stalin, Kim Jong Il, Napoleon and countless others. They were open. They were contented.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ismail Merchant R.I.P

Apart from being a fabulous producer, he was also a reasonably good director (Muhafiz, Mystic Massseur) and a self-confessed gourmet cook. Not many folks know about his efforts in getting Satyajit Ray a lifetime Oscar. This is from Merchant's autobiography:

At about this time I learned that Ray, who suffered from a heart condition, was declining in health. I felt it was time for him to be recognized for his important contribution to cinema by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which had never honoured him. I got in touch with Martin Scorcese, who I knew shared my admiration for Ray, and suggested should lobby the Academy. Scorcese and I drafted a letter that was sent to Academy members petitioning their support. The response was overwhelming and extraordinary. Fellini, Kubrick, Lucas, Coppola, Zeffirelli, Kurosawa, Paul Newman, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen were just a few of the movie luminaries who unreservedly endorsed our proposal. Among the many hundreds of those letters and testimonials written to the Academy's board of governors,
that of Gregory Peck made a significant point:

"With the current U.S. preoccupation with weekly box office figures, projected to the press and the TV audience like football scores, the image of our industry is that box office figures are our sole measure of success.

By honouring Satyajit Ray, the Academy would not only honour a true artist in film, it would remind the public and the media once more that Academy Awards are given for artists' excellence."

Ray was elected as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992.

Monday, May 23, 2005


John Doerr gave an outstanding speech at our commencement yesterday.

I was quite embarrassed when the dean singled me out for my work here.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Abhimaan, the kitchen question?

An old quiz question went thus: "Which real-life couple's story inspired the film 'Abhimaan' starring Amitabh Bacchan and Jaya Bhaduri? Ans: Pt. Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi (d/o of his Ustad Allaudin Khan). But a review of a biography tries to de-mythify that legend.

S. Kalidas writes a review of Swapan Bondopadhyay's book "Annapurna Devi: An unheard melody" in the latest edition of India-Today:

[...] he sought to stop her from playing in public. And Annapurna, ever the paragon of unseen, unheard purity, magnanimously obliged. Sample a couple of salacious slices: "Many say that her father had directed her not to play in public so that Ravi Shankar's playing does not sound lacklustre to the audience... After that evening's recital (at Delhi's Constitution Club, March 30, 1955) there was humming among the audience. Then the judgement of the listeners placed the crown on Annapurna. I do not know if Annapurna ever performed in public after this." (Author's italics.) And further: "She felt that Ravi was suffering from an inferiority complex because she got rave reviews. The jugalbandis, in their five or six concerts together, were enough to establish her superiority over Ravi Shankar as a performer... Ravi Shankar was justifiably jealous. And so he elicited a vow from his wife that she would no longer play in public.

There are many versions of this anecdote afloat, mostly apocryphal. Annapurna, however, told me that something worse had happened than Ravi attempting to make her take this oath. But she added that she would divulge it to none. 'That will go with me when I go.'"

Imran Khan and a riot

Newsweek reports:
The spark was apparently lit at a press conference held on Friday, May 6, by Imran Khan, a Pakistani cricket legend and strident critic of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Brandishing a copy of that week's NEWSWEEK (dated May 9), Khan read a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantánamo prison had placed the Qur'an on toilet seats and even flushed one. "This is what the U.S. is doing," exclaimed Khan, "desecrating the Qur'an." His remarks, as well as the outraged comments of Muslim clerics and Pakistani government officials, were picked up on local radio and played throughout neighboring Afghanistan. Radical Islamic foes of the U.S.-friendly regime of Hamid Karzai quickly exploited local discontent with a poor economy and the continued presence of U.S. forces, and riots began breaking out last week.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Feminism in India

This is with reference to a post in India Uncut. So I retrieved this old post of mine

This is from "Women Writing In India" Edited by Susie Tharu and K. Lalita.

Pg 69

Sumangalamata (Pali - 6th Century (600) B.C)
[A Woman well set free! How free I am]

A woman well set free! How free I am,
How wonderfully free, from kitchen drudgery.
Free from the harsh grip of hunger,
And from empty cooking pots,
Free to of that unscrupulous man,
The weaver of sunshades.
Calm now, and serene I am,
All lust and hatred purged.
To the shade of the spreading trees I go
And contemplate my happiness.

(Translated by Uma Chakravarti and Kumkum Roy)

Pg 83
Janabai (1298-1350), Marathi

[Cast of All Shame]

Cast of all shame,
and sell yourself
in the marketplace;
then alone
can you hope
to reach the Lord.

Cymbals in hand,
a *veena* upon my shoulder,
I go about;
who dares to stop me?

The *pallav* of my sari
falls away (A Scandal!);
yet will I enter
the crowded marketplace
without a thought.

Jani says, My Lord,
I have become a slut
to reach Your home.

(Translated by Vilas Sarang)

Pg 116

Sanciya Honnamma (late 17th century) -Kannada
From Garathiya Haadu
(Song of a married woman)

[Wasn't it woman who bore them]

Wasn't it woman who bore them,
Wasn't it woman who raised them,
Then why do they always blame woman,
These boors, these blind ones.

In the womb they're the same
When they're growing they're the same
Later the girl will take, with love, what's giveb
The boy will take his share by force.

For money's sake, for trust
And friendship's sake
Don't give a girl to a walking corpse
Bereft of virtue, youth and looks.

Don't say, "We're poor people, where
Can we get jewels from?"
Instead on spending on yourself
Provide your daughters with clothes and ornaments.

(Translated by Tejaswani Niranjana)


Friday, May 06, 2005

U.C. Berkeley..I'll miss you

The graduation ceremony is on May 22nd. Bottom Line: It was well worth it.