Friday, January 21, 2011

A short history of lyrical eloquence in modern Kannada music

Inspired by A short history of modern African-american music[Image]

Shanubhogara MagaLu - K.S.Narasimhaswamy, 1942

An extraordinarily perceptive, sympathetic and gently humorous description of the joys, unsaid wishes, constraints, little white lies and wisdom of lovable characters in a harsh social mileu.


Amma Loosa - V. Nagendra Prasad, 2011

"Pappa pyaanv..bum bum bumbum...Amma loosa? Appa loosa? ... Baa baa black sheep ..."


I debated for a long time whether to choose Shanubhogara MagaLu or Rayaru Bandaru for the gold standard. While the latter is much lighter, the lyrics are no less brilliant.

The nadir also had stiff competition: I had been intending to write this post for years now, and the prize contender till this clear champion came along was the hitherto apodictic Taliban Alla Alla.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A parable

"It is a tragedy that our youngsters are deserting scientific and technical fields and rushing headlong towards more lucrative careers in management. Why? Don't our youngsters have any passion towards technology? Why?"

I'll tell you why, cupcake.


We zoom in to the haggard engineer in an MNC, as usual completely disillusioned in life about his job. Though his salary isn't anything remarkable, he's paid far more than the value he thinks he is adding and so has the consequent guilt complex built on everything from him feeling underused, to feeling like he's cheating someone, to a sinking feeling of becoming more and more worthless and chained to his present sinecure every passing day. It's also been two days since he took a bath, because the commute every day to the industrial ghetto at the other end of the city is so fucking long that all life is sucked out of him by the time he's back.

He's listening to his auntie or mom - always an elderly female authority figure in all versions - going on about her neighbour's boy, who went to IIM, getting married. The engineer, of course, is not married even after about 400 'unofficial' attempts by himself and about 3 and counting official ones by his parents (the latest one turned him down because he didn't give a concrete enough reason for not going to/staying in the US, and the one before that because his company hadn't given him a laptop; the piteous checking of company email on weekends on his desktop, over a VPN on a net connection he paid for, obviously meant that the company did not believe him to be executive material).

The auntie continues - The IIM chap is "well-settled" in Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York or some such world center of trade, and earning about 5 lakhs per month - note, it is always helpfully presented in INR per month. The wifey is earning an appropriately smaller but still respectable 3 lakhs per month, usually (actually, preferably. "these days the woRRRld is so flat no?") in a different world center of trade.

Cut to flashback scene where the Engineer had actually Facebook-stalked the IIM chap many days before the auntie's narration. Fish eye to show we're in the engineer's memories. The marriage is one perfectly made for Facebook, and all manner of ABCD and DCBA cousins carrying DSLRs ensure there are 3000 high-quality pics of every ritual. Each album and Charcoal-filter photoshopped picture receives an appropriate number of 300 Likes and 250 comments, most of them (rather accurately, to the Engineer's dismay) say 'oh u 2 r so cuuuuteeeee!!!!'. Just clicking on the commenters' profiles provides more opportunities for bird-watching than what an entire month of his regular life does.

He remembers their marriage web page - it had a cool AJAX form for the RSVP that didn't work with his 750 a month BSNL connection, and it didn't automatically start playing corny music like the other marriage pages did. There was even a live Twitter feed by an uncle of the bride who is a web 2.0 evangelist. His uncles, in contrast, did little more at marriages than complain about the ever-declining quality of the nadaswaram. He remembers making a mental note to expect a joint blogging 'experiment' to begin anytime, starting with an oh-so-hilarious attempt at making chocolate cake (with pictures), which will have 120 Likes; next of course would be the intolerably poignant notes from their eco-friendly honeymoon to the Seychelles, where the wifey would be impressed by what a softie the hubby is when he gives a dime to a beggar boy, and ...

Both the bride and the groom are around 26-27, and judging by their career growth so far, are all set to jointly start the next biggest Africa philanthropy foundation in 20 years. The biggest worry plaguing the young family right now though, is that the boy has bought a 2000 sqft house in Singapore, girl has bought a 1800 sqft one in Hong Kong, how to manage?

The auntie then leaves. The Engineer then thinks back to his fate - that salary he draws looks very measly now. Also, it's made up of about 3.6 bazillion allowances of which he claims only 2 - who the fuck cares to keep their petrol bunk receipts or commute bus tickets or telephone bill (non-internet only) component receipt? His company tells him it's all to save tax, but he suspects it's a regular CTC-whore tactic to fuck him out of his allowances and essentially pay him only his Basic, which by the way is below the Nation's taxable limit, praise the DTC.

He once again imagines the shitty, smelly lab he has to go to every morning, and all the beakers he has to wash because his boss believes that doing low-quality work builds character. The wedding invitation from a few days ago is still at his desk, and the paper used is of a gauge that even his highest degree's certificate can't match. The Engineer in a fit of impotent rage then takes the acetylene cylinder lying there, and turns the knob anti-clockwise. It tightens. Arrggh you won't even let me die in peace you bitch. He turns it clockwise.

The end.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Golden days

Whenever I whine about how awesome the olden days were and how dull and boring and debauched the present is, one or the other righteous smart-ass starts spouting statistics about technology, healthcare, social freedom and whatnot.

Here is the ultimate rebuttal to such hokum, and why the 70s were awesome:

A few days before the elections, on a Sunday, Jagjivan Ram addressed an Opposition rally at the famous Ram Lila Grounds in Delhi. The national broadcaster Doordarshan allegedly attempted to stop crowds from participating in the demonstration by telecasting the blockbuster movie Bobby. The rally still drew large crowds, and a newspaper headline the next day ran "Babu beats Bobby"

Yes that's right, bitches. When nuances of National Politics involve strategically timing the broadcast of Bobby, that's when you're talking Golden Days.

Monday, January 03, 2011

2010 in out-of-context quotes from various correspondence

Inspired by the Master's version.


"..To ruin Heaven for a person, all you need to do is put two doors at the gate. He'll spend an eternity wondering what would have happened if he'd picked the other door."

"Junta, I landed in Bang yesterday. Chustunnadi gaganamu-ninda egire jhanda rammantu, veestunnadi deshapu gaali jhanda uncha anamantu so only nijam telusuko-ing and rnam teerchuko-ing from now. When do we meet?"


"Meanwhile, in other news, all is lost. I have been shamed so spectacularly by the bird in question that the only honourable recourses left to me are to either commit ritual Seppuku or quickly change companies by night. The first option seemed easier, but alas, my blade consignment was caught up with the customs. Therefore, I am desperately looking for jobs."

"It's already at the # Postdocs = # Grad students singularity, and it's an inch away from an irreversible collapse from there to a black hole of dummy papers."

"...Microsoft Cocksucking Office Motherfucking Comminicator man. Who would think that that fucking piece of shit would have a 'Block' feature? Which son a bitch frustrated sadist bastard software engineer choot remembered to put in a 'Block' feature in fucking Office Communicator? I will narrate the gory story over some brandy."


"..I have some hopes on this, judging at least by a new index I've created: the Company Marital Transform Index. A huge number of people have gotten married right after they got into X, and that can only be because of two reasons: accessible hot max babedom or complete satisfaction in life leading to such ghastly imp-of-the-perverse measures."

"I'm thoroughly enjoying the comforts of home, and even though it's painful to listen to the regular crescendo of "Whaaaaaaaaaaat? You left a STANFORD PEEE HETCHH DEEEE to come back to Bangalore?!!!!!!", life is going well."


"..aaha.. ishtondu prashamse salladu saar! idella odi, higgi kobbi mattebbi, naaLe officealli area figure Santaanalakshmina pataaysoNa anta shuddha-sphatika-sankaasha-sirigannaDadalli romaanchaka romantic dialogue baarisdaaga, avaLa boyfriend GuLi Ramesha nanna kai kaalagasbitre eneno kansitkondiro naanu ellappa hOgli?"

Intense sadness.


"I spend half my time inventing bad analogies about it (my latest: "They fully believe in the philosophy of dumping fresh recruits at the deep end of the pool and seeing who makes it. [pause] But only, there's no water [longer pause] and the alligators are hungry"); the next half I spend putting out fires he lights with his effulgent incompetence; the third half I spend trying to forget all I've learnt, turning myself into a randroid, and fellating the biggest swinging dicks in Finance in the hope of making heap-big-heap of money; In the remaining quarter, I wonder what happened to my quant skills."


"Esteemed sirs, I beg you to kindly bear my pettifogging. I have an all-important, make-or-break, life-or-death ppt today at 3, where the hounds will decide if I must be torn down instantly and fed to the Water team, or if I may be granted my liberty and the honour of their free, PAR-evading patronage till the next fake ppt. My survival entirely depends on your (planted) questions and my perfect answers to those gems of inquisition, those marvellous manifestations of the spirit of inquiry."

"I've realized that the most scarce component in our lives these days is closure. Closure from anything! It is such a comfort to wrap up and categorize an event in the showcase of memory, but such luxury is very rare."


"I am told that if all goes well and things move fast, I can expect a decision by early 2018"


"The sweetest deal I could imagine: great research, lots of freedom, great money, fantastic work-life balance"
"Easily one of the very worst professional experiences in my life, even counting getting a no-dues certificate from CCW"

"Sir, with respect, I still can't get myself to stop mentally cringing at the idea of asking my lady love, an angel of kindness with whom I'd crave to spend many a vulnerable moment, a manifest perfection of the highest ideals I am capable of thinking, an impossibly superior being who is infinitely forgiving, what she thinks of the popular metric that a well-formed female's nipples align with her earlobes. Offering my expert services to check is absolutely off the table. "


"...and so far the only difference seems to be that there are some rumours that some people have heard others say that they have read somewhere that a few have felt that they detected faint hints that perhaps work may be going on someplace. Hope springs eternal."


"..doubtless this esteemed vocation of practicing my signature every day has been entrusted to me to ensure that when I'm a high flying executive on my way out of my penthouse after clinching the deal, the nubile young women from the fawning crowds should not be inconvenienced for too long when they offer their buxom bosoms for an autograph."

"I am also beginning to tire of this tirade of "this is an important lesson in life" that I tell myself. I'm done with the fucking lessons already, give me some peace! All these lessons seem so profoundly pyrrhic and I've had enough with depth."


"..Sach keh raha hai tu Rajju..asal me hum dono ki kismat gadhe ke ling se likhi gayi hai saaLi.."


"We hear a lot of talk of 'compatibility', and certainly economic-, social-status-, materialism level- compatibility are important; but most important is a compatibility of self-doubt levels. "