Sunday, July 31, 2022

Book Review: Bhaas ke Natak

 Just finished reading this. #bookreview

My first issue with the book is that it is not presented in the natak format of dialogues and structure etc. Instead, a synopsis of the story is given.
The stories are mostly from the classics - Ramayana and Mahabharata, and Vasavadutta is included.
But, maybe it was for the best.
For reasons one cannot explain, the book was gripping. The Vasavadutta story had some dialogues that made one crack up and I realised that perhaps the format of "Naatak" or "Manchan" has remained unchanged in India over centuries - some wit, some humour, a lot of fast-paced story telling.
The other thought while reading this book was - these plays must have been fantastic to watch. They must necessarily have gorgeous sets, great witty dialogues, and a long-ish run time. I missed something, not having watched them. And am grateful for the traditional theater performances that we still get to watch in India. Maybe will try to watch them even more now.
The book is a short read - about 6 hours in total even if u read slowly. The plays are not too long (perhaps this is the reason why they were presented as stories and not in the play format - to keep them brief) and the narrative is definitely gripping.
I would recommend this book for sure.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Review of Rocketry and the dead nuclear scientists of India


Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein made Madhavan my favourite actor. Rocketry made him my hero. 

Unlike most people who are watching the movie (and Kashmir Files before this), I was not completely unaware of the injustice meted out to Dr. Nambi. I was also aware of the tragic and sudden deaths of more than 12 nuclear scientists of India, and had read the paper that explained the American connection behind these deaths. Nor was I unmindful of the question that Nambi sir asked at the end - If I am innocent, someone is guilty. Who is that? 

But about Dr. Nambi, did not have the details presented in the film. 

Like with all biographical films, the viewing of the movie was followed by a rigorous fact check. (Wikipedia is not opened during that fact check). It is sad that very little of Dr. Nambi's achievements and academic background is available in the public domain. 

Most institutions have a link to the resumes of all its scientists. I could not find such a link on the ISRO website. 

But I was surprised to find that the story, as told, is largely authentic - no embellishment, no exaggeration, no 'creative freedom'. 

The job of a story teller is to tell a story so no one wants to get up. 

With Rocketry, that is exactly what Madhavan has done. He could have made it a biography story - starting at the beginning and going towards the end. But he chose to start with the climax, and weave the past and the future around that. What is extremely interesting is the format - an interview with the scientist, conducted by an actor, playing himself. 

The story of his life and family integrates into the story of his professional success as it can only for an Indian. Watching this movie helped me realise a beautiful aspect of Indian society yet again - the work is not separate from the individual. Our entire Varna system is based on the chosen profession. Our social identity is based on our profession. Unlike the choice that Dr. Crocco had to make, in India, the interdependence of the workplace and the family is implicit. 

If I have to give full marks to one person, it is the locations and set director. The locations are so well chosen, particularly where the team is shown in France and Princeton. (except, perhaps, the scene where they strategise how to get into a department - in the middle of the street, that, if it really did happen that way, is illustration of truth is stranger than fiction). 

The art direction comes next. But every single technical department truly excels. Costumes, hair, cars, and the volume of traffic on the road - they got all of that right. In all the street scenes, I was only wondering with dropped jaw - How did you find so many working cars of these vintage models? How did you do this? 

Even sound deserves a mention - esp. in the shots related to rocket testing - the sound effects, subtle, but well designed, made the experience of watching the rocket testing that much real for us. 

The background music was subtle and hit all the right chords without intruding upon the storytelling process. 

To summarise: 

It is a well directed film. It has an excellent technical team, and a small, but good cast. 

The story is well told and well edited. 

An actor would have ended the film with the spotlight on himself. A director put the spotlight on the real hero - Dr. Nambi Narayanan. And that, is what makes Madhavan a star. I have never before seen a director do this - bring the real person to close the narrative in his own words. (Dr. Nambi is an articulate person. His interviews in the promotions of Rocketry are quite impressive). 

And, in case you are interested, here are the details of the Indian scientists who have died mysteriously, and whose stories still remain untold. If we look at this list, Dr. Narayanan must have been really special, to avoid this fate. 

BARC has reported 680 employee deaths during the last 15 years. \

92 persons employed with the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research Kalapakkam have died. 

Within a 15 year period, 684 deaths have occured at ISRO. 

Here is a list: 

1. October 2013: K K Josh and Abhish Shivam

2. 1966 - Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha

3. 2009 - Lokanathan Mahalingam

4. 2011 - Dr Uma Rao

5. Feb 2010 - Mahadevan Padmanabhan Iyer

6. June 2009 - Umang Singh and Partha Pratim Bag

7. 2012 - Mohammad Mustafa

9. 1971 - Vikram Sarabhai 

And here are interesting takes on the NN case itself:

Nambi Narayanan speaks on conspiracy against him & India over ISRO's cryogenic program ( - This link has been removed.

And Indians are not alone:

Friday, July 29, 2022

Item Girl

हम, जो चीजें हैं 

हमें चीजें नहीं होना था। 



We, the things 

Did not want to be things. 


Context: Item songs are a special kind of Hindi film song. The idea is to create a "bold" dance sequence. The lead dancer to such a song (always a lady) is called an item girl. Item is also Mumbai slang for a good looking girl. 

PS: I am actually writing this definition of item songs in the hope that some day, there are no more item songs in films and children wonder what the words item girl or item song mean. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Review: Dr. Arora on Sony Liv

Dr. Vishesh Arora is the world's cutest stalker, but he is a stalker.

Given that the trailer set high expectations, and one was actually waiting for this to release on the 22nd of July, the letdown hurt twice as much. But the review is being written after a cooling off period, so the emotions are subdued, and I have tried to write a regular review. (yes, my regular reviews are this detailed)

What was this?
I am a little confused about the genre of this series.
This is not an awareness series (unless you count the name of the condition mentioned briefly on the screen).
This is not a love story.
It is not a mystery series of why his wife left him in the first place. Because that mystery never gets solved.
This is not a story of relationships, because all characters are so poorly sketched and even more shallowly presented.
If the idea was to showcase that Indians are not as open to their problems in bed as our woke metro brethren, that also flops, because, as the director already knows, sexologists are found only in small town India. And they make enough moneys to put large scale full wall ads from where the makers have shamelessly picked the name of the series. (I hope they sent a small royalty cheque to the original Dr. Arora, whose name also they have blatantly just picked up).
I am not sure, honestly, what this is. The short answer is, it really isn't anything. Its just that random mishmash that amounts to absolutely nothing.

Why this series should not have seen the light of day/night/OTT
I don't know any baba that gives private meetings of a certain kind to all female devotees.

I also don't know any SP who walks as comically as the character of SP Tomar.

I don't know any three time MLA who gets so publicly humiliated by his bedridden father at all times.

Women do not randomly invite male neighbours home, nor scream to them at night. That is not how colonies in small town India operate.

But most offensive of all, was the stalking of his ex-wife by Dr. Vishesh Arora. By the fourth episode, it is perfectly easy to start despising the character and wondering why he is stalking someone who so completely rejected him more than 17 years ago. What kind of content is being sold with the background music of a romantic song? A random romantic song playing in the background, a middle aged man looking wistfully into the distance, does not make stalking ok. I can't remember when I was that angry about the way women are projected on screen. (hence, the cooling off period before the review) .
There is no storyline.

The characters, like I mentioned already, are shallow and poorly sketched. Make that not sketched at all. Its like a series of random caricatures that one forcibly fits into a room and then tries to build something around them.

The dialogues are so forgettable that i can't remember a single representative one, and I usually write a couple of representative dialogues in the review.

The art direction is as cliched as it gets. Neither authentic nor intriguing.

The other technical aspects - lighting, sound, cinematography, research, well, lets just say they are being omitted for a reason. The director omitted them from his work too.

Only one thing they did well - the casting. A script so laughable, so wrong at so many levels, needed superb acting. And the cast - lead and ensemble, does just that. Each actor is well chosen.

What their writer forgot to do in the script, the casting director has done in the auditions - and that is doubly laudable because s/he had so little to go on.

One line review:
This is the work of a woke director sitting in some metro who does not know his/her characters, their stories, their life beliefs, even their mannerisms, but insists on telling a story about them.

Friday, July 22, 2022

A tiny miracle and a guardian angel

This happened 2 days ago, but the need to record it has not diminished. 

So, recording. 

Usually, after sending the child to school, I nap for 2-3 hours. Being a late night sleeper, this is good. 

2 days ago, when I retired to my room as usual to take the morning nap, there was a sharp pain in the left jaw. Since this happens very often, I didn't worry about it at first. Then, the pain grew. Quite a bit. 

Some power literally did not allow me to lie down with that pain. (Lying down with the head raised usually helps in this pain). 

Slowly, I put the reiki hand to the heart, and within 3-4 minutes, the pain subsided. Then, of course, one had the nap as usual. 

This is probably the third time in life that I have actually felt a guardian presence stopping one action and almost commanding another. And each time, it has been a helpful gesture. 

This time, I was asked to record the incident. So, recording. :) 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Second Triveni

सूखे पेड़ों पे चटक सा धब्बा 

सब पर अपना रंग चढ़ा देता है 

जीवन, पलाश का फूल हो जैसे 

Palash is a tree that flowers after shedding all its leaves. Its the only thing that remains on the tree. 

At Holi, this flower is used to make colour.

My first Triveni

बरबस भर भी आए, छलक भी गए नैन 

गला रूँधा, कुछ कहते न बना 

"कैसी हो?" बस इतना ही तो पूछा था.. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

नट जमूरा / Nat Jamoora

 वो रो रहा था 

हम हंस रहे थे 

"देखो, कैसा अच्छा खेल दिखाता है!"

वो रो रहा था 

हम हंस रहे थे 

"देखो, कितना अच्छा रो के दिखाता है!" 

जो उस दिन हम न हँसते 

कितने अच्छे इंसान बनते! 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

पितरों  के मोक्ष के अभिप्राय से 

भगीरथ ने की थी 

कठिन साधना 

गंगा के अवतरण के लिए  

गंगा ने समझा 

भगीरथ को उस से आसक्ति है 

पितरों के मोक्ष के बाद 

भगीरथ ने गंगा को प्रणाम किया 

और विदा ली। 

मेरी स्मृतियों के अवशेष

तुम उसी गंगा में विसर्जित करना 

जिसे भगीरथ ने

बिसार दिया था। 


अपने पित्तरां नू तारण जोग, 

भागीरथ ने तप कित्ता 

गंगा लई:

गंगा निमाणी सोचे 

भगीरथ नू खौरे 

मेरा मोह 

पित्रां दे तरण तो बाद 

भगीरथ ने गंगा नु 

कित्ता परणाम 

ते विदा हो गया 

न सेवा 

न शरीका 

मेरे फुल वी काका जा के 

ऑसे गंगा विच तारीं 

जिणु विसर गया सी 

आप भगीरथ 



मैंने शून्य को लिखना चाहा 

वह ब्रह्मांड बन गया 


I tried to write nothingness 

It became the Universe. 


Sunday, July 10, 2022


मैं वक़्त के जैसी हूँ, 

कदर न करो तो 

दोबारा नहीं मिलती 

- पंक्तियाँ किसी और की हैं । मुझे बस बहुत अच्छी लगीं।  


If you know who wrote these lines, pls let me know for the appropriate credit. 


So, this post is actually inspired by kj, who did the random 13 post using images and then the more recent post. I also got brave enough to post pictures. 

Random ones. 

Cutglass chandeliers. One doesnt get them any more and i love them 

This looks like a grandfather clock at first, but look closely and you will notice something special. From the Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysuru 

Wall paper in our room at a recent holiday. Yeah, i love simple things like that. 

Details of a shield from Rajasthan 

Tiny marble statue of Devi Saraswati at a Jain temple in Rajasthan 

Random, Arbit

This work is done on voile at Patiala. I quite love it. 

Indian miniature art 

Sunset in the mountains

Indian crafts always take my breath away. So, this. 

That is the mighty Kanchenjunga 

Covid helped me

Most people complain about the effects of long Covid. 

Well, I had Covid in Jan 2022. 

It lasted just 48 hours or so. 

But shortly after that, I lost all memory. 

I'd anyway had issues with both short and long term memory for a while but that got better with Vit D and glucose. 

This, however, was different. I realised that I could not remember a SINGLE thing, except the birth of the child, from 2003 to date. Like, nothing. Not even one incident from the entire year. 

Well, at first, one panicked, of course. So,  I sat and wrote one incident from each year, forcing the brain to remember. In a few days, that list was compiled. I also tried to do Sudoku to try and kick start other cognitive processes that were severely hampered since Covid. 

Within a week of compiling the list, fights at home increased. 

And then, I realised - Covid had truly worked a miracle in my life! 

All 19 years were obliterated - gone - as if by magic. 

God had given a magic pill that I would have done anything for! 

Since then, I count my blessings for this every single day. Thank you, to whoever did this. 

The other faculties of the brain - my speed maths, quick analytical ability, etc. are slowly coming back. So are the memories - sometimes they come. But I don't encourage the memories. If the memory is pre 2003, it is very welcome. One spends a minute with it and smiles or feels sad. All post 2003 memories are encouraged to go back to the place they came from. 

I also forget things that happened maybe last month or so pretty quickly. It works very very well. 

Thursday, July 07, 2022

So, why did the Congress lose the 1936 and 1945 Provincial elections in Bengal, Punjab, and Sindh?

As we know, the partition of India and the states that were given away to Pakistan was determined, neither by the population of Muslims, nor by any administrative control. It was decided on the basis of whether Congress would win these provinces or not. ki-jaana-main-kaun: Why rioting happens in India?

So, then, I got to thinking - why did Congress lose these elections? 

What happened here. 

And here is the hypothesis: 

Coincidentally, the radical movement - the Krantikari movement, which believed in violent and direct resistance to the British rule, found the highest support in exactly 2 provinces - Punjab and Bengal. 

While Subramaniam Bharathi was a proud poet from Tamil Nadu, the action and mass support mobilisation was in the provinces of Punjab and Bengal. 

The Congress worked actively to convict the Krantikaris and even for Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru, did not work to get their death sentence revoked - it would have been a minor thing for the mighty Congress. But it let them die because of "ideological differences" 

I believe that this is the reason that the Congress did not win popular votes in Punjab and Bengal. 

And also the reason that these provinces saw NO proactive planning for human movement. 

Even if people losing their homeland was inevitable, it was perfectly possible to structure and administer a safe passage for everyone. But Nehru and his accomplices ensured that no police arrangement was made and people were left to die at the hands of bloodthirsty mobs especially created by them through decades of hard work. 

That blood is on Nehru's hands. But how much blood on Nehru's hands? A thousand times more than his body weight. As i have explained in the post above. 

Monday, July 04, 2022

On seeing the world

 A banyan tree turned a 1000 years old. The king went to congratulate the tree. 

King: "Wow! A thousand years you've been at the same spot. Did you never feel that you wanted to see the world?" 

Tree: Respectfully, Sir, The world comes to see me. 

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Why are there no checks and balances on the judiciary?

The Legal Review Power of the Supreme Court allows it to strike down any law passed by the democratically elected Legislature if it goes "against the Constitution." 

This power rests with both the Indian and US Supreme Courts. 

However, the converse is not true. 

If the Court gives a ruling that goes against the constitution, neither the Legislature nor the Executive have the power to overturn such a judgement. 

So, why does this reciprocal check and balance not exist? 

The immediate thought that came to mind was - Because the Constitution was made by lawyers! 

So, I checked who the members of our Drafting Committee were. 

And turns out, I was right! 

The members of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution were overwhelmingly from the legal profession. Here they are: 

A. BR Ambedkar 

As we know, he was a lawyer and the Chairman of the Drafting Committee. 

B. Dewan Bahadur Sir Alladi Krishnaswani Ayyar

Advocate General of Madras State from 1929 to 1944. 

C. Dewan Bahadur Sir Narasimba Ayyangar Gopalaswami Ayyangar

Studied Law at the Law College, Madras 

D. Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi or his pen name, Ghanshyam Vyas

Lawyer by profession 

E. Mohammad Saadulla 

To check 

F. BL Mitter

Was the Diwan of Baroda. Was later replaced by  Madhav Rao, a Legal Advisor of the Maharaja of Vadodara.

G. Debi Prasad Khaitan

Owner of Khaitan and Co - among the oldest working law firms of India. 

H. Govind Ballabh Pant 

Lawyer by education with a short stint as a lawyer. 

More funny original quotes

Height of Sarcasm:  Your Honour 

Height of Truth: Your Lordship 


Why I don't follow entertainment websites: 

What they spell binge, I read cringe . 


The trouble with hanging out with people who don't read the same books is that they don't get half my jokes. Like, how do you explain "Don't be Ravi Subramaniam." to someone?? 


The trouble with our world is that when a product is encountered by an idiot, we try to fix the product, not the idiot. 


If men wore bras, the front open zipper would have appeared a century ago. 


What did Joe Biden do right after taking over as President of the US? 

Started World War 3 (Also NATO resignations, but World War 3) 


What is Bill Gates' next multimillion dollar idea? 



I'm in that stage in life where a 100 ml bottle of perfume is too much commitment. 

Explanation: 5 ml is all I can commit to. After that, I might get bored or something. 


Saturday, July 02, 2022

Checks and Balances for the judiciary?

On May 24th, an 18-year-old man opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, USA, killing 19 students and two teachers. That is a primary school. Young children. 

This was not an isolated incident. In addition to supplying arms to the world, the US guns lobby also ensures that its citizens are able to use firearms freely, irrespective of the use to which they are put. Whether it is the Dick Cheney hunting accident, or the mass shooting, nothing has been able to convince US lawmakers to control the easy access to firearms and ammunition. 

But the Texas shooting was the straw that broke the camel's back. There was a national outcry and the citizens made it clear that status quo cannot continue. Something would have to change at the policy level. 

And it did. On June 23rd, the US Supreme Court ruled that teachers can henceforth carry guns. 

Then, on June 24th, the American Supreme Court overturned Row vs Wade. This basically means that in most states in the US,  a woman can no longer get an abortion. For Any Reason. 

Abortion is banned in Christianity, but the US is a secular state - legally. 



April: Rapist and Murderer of a 4 year old is a sinner with a future. 

On 23rd April, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned (reversed) a death sentence given to a man who had raped and murdered a 4 year old. Their words in the judgement: 

Supreme Court Bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhatt, and Bela Trivedi mention - every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. 

On 20th May, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Hima Kohli and including Justice L Nageswara Rao, decided on the Disha encounter case. What was the Disha encounter case? 

May: The Disha Encounter Case 

On Nov 27th, 2019, a 23 year old vet was returning home. On the way, her bike gave her trouble and she called her sister to inform her. She asked the sister to reach her soon because she was scared. When the sister reached, there was no trace of the doctor. 

The doctor had been raped, murdered, and then her body had been burnt. 

Her burnt body was subsequently recovered on November 28 morning from an underpass on National Highway 44. 

4 people were arrested by the police the very next day. By burning the body, the accused had basically obliterated all physical evidence like DNA, injury marks, post mortem, etc. 

Rape and murder arrests in India are abysmal and conviction rates are even lower. 

There was significant public anger after this crime. 

On Dec 6th, the 4 accused were encountered by the police. 

They were hailed as heroes by everyone, including the politicians of India. 

However, on 20th May, 2022, these 10 policemen were found guilty and the High Court was directed to take further action. That day, Indian Twitter trended with "We are with the police." 

July: The Nupur Sharma case 

An ASI (Archeological Survey of India) survey was going on to figure out if the Gyanvapi mosque was an erstwhile Hindu temple. A shivling had been found in the mosque complex. The Muslim community had then reached the Supreme Court and indicated that the structure was not a Shivlinga, but a fountain (in a place used to wash one's hands before offering namaaz). 

On a May 27 TV debate on the issue, Nupur Sharma, the spokesperson of the BJP, said to the representatives of Muslims that their religion is represented by the prophet marrying a 9 year old. 

Immediately, there was public uproar. The next day, she was suspended. 

The issue of the Gyanvapi mosque was immediately forgotten completely. 

After this, Nupur Sharma started getting death threats for her utterances. No one said that what she said was incorrect. But they objected to her saying it. "How dare she speak so disrespectfully?" 

On June 28th, a tailor named Kanhaiyalal, from Udaipur, who had received death threats because his son wrote a social media post supporting Nupur Sharma, was beheaded in public.

Nupur Sharma approached the Supreme Court to curb the FIRs being filed against her over remarks on Prophet Mohammed. She also mentioned that she has received threats. To which, on July 2nd,  a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala said - "She faces a security threat or has become a threat to the security of the nation?" 


“This lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country,” commented Justice Surya Kant, who was extremely critical during the 20-minute hearing.

And these incidents make one think: 

What is the system of checks and balances for the judiciary?

Like, where can Indians and Americans go and say, "Wait a minute.. this needs a review.. ?" 

These judgements make me ask a fundamental question - the system of checks and balances exists for every pillar of government, except one. 
Where is the check and balance for this branch of governance? Appointment of judges is done by the judiciary, the recommendation goes from the judiciary, the appeal against the decision of the lower court is to the higher court. And if such a system of checks and balances is not there, maybe its time to create it?

Impeachment of Judges in India 
While there is no procedural control over the judiciary, individual judges can be impeached. 
But the process is the same as the Amendment of the Constitution by a Special Majority of the Parliament, AND an enquiry committee before that parliament session can be convened. In short, it requires a quorum of 100 in the Lok Sabha and 50 in the Rajya Sabha. It must be ratified by 2/3rd of the members present and at least 50% of the total members of BOTH houses. 

This means that, effectively, a political party must have 2/3rd majority in BOTH Houses of the Parliament to proceed with impeachment. 
Therefore, no. of judges that have been impeached in India: 0. 

Can the Supreme Court really trivialise the death threats to a person days after another person was brutally beheaded in the country? 

Can the Supreme Court really decide that she was single-handedly responsible for the violence, when the weapons had been lifted by someone else? Which weapon did she lift? Whom did she threaten? Is it ok to threaten someone on the basis of what they said? Or, Does the Court believe that Freedom of Speech is selectively applied?  

Her lawyer said - She responded to provocation.

If there is a misuse of the debate, the first thing she should have done was to file an FIR against the anchor", the bench commented.

However, the same Bench does not think that the people committing violence and setting the country on fire should have filed FIRs.

They can burn the country and Nupur Sharma is 'single-handedly' responsible for that.

So, in one case, the instigator is blameless, and in the other, the alleged instigator is single handedly responsible.

(I use the term alleged in the loosest possible manner. No one is saying what Nupur said was incorrect. Only that it hurt their sentiments. Even the Bench says - 

"We saw the debate on how she was incited. But the way she said all this and later says she was a lawyer it is shameful. She should apologise to the whole country," 

Ahem.. this is how I see these utterances. And, I am reminded of the classic Hillary Clinton quote - would you ask a man that question?