Random Photograph: Blurry Treetop

… except, the photograph isn’t really blurred. It just looks that way. I like the effect.

This is more from Lalbagh, and in passing, the same tree as in this one.

I learnt from Amod that Aayush Joshi, Ash, passed away last evening. I didn't know Aayush very well, but I know many people who did. Commiserations.
I learnt from Amod that Aayush Joshi, Aish, passed away last evening after being in a coma for about a week. I didn't know Aayush very well, but I know many people who did. Commiserations.

The Intelligent Gestation Theory

Have you become sick and tired with those ‘scientists’ claiming with absolute certainty that sperms and eggs ‘fuse’, make one cell, and that that cell goes on to ‘develop’ into a human being? Have you known in your heart that this cannot be the answer, but not how to show that this isn’t the answer?

Well, the good people at The Intelligent Gestation Institute have the scientific answer to your theological/philosophical anxiety. Drawing a page out of the Intelligent Design movement, that gives an answer that people can agree with emotionally, and not just ‘intellectually’, The Intelligent Gestation Institute argues for an answer to the miracle of life from Biblical principles, and not just ‘science’ or ‘reason’.

I have only one problem with the Institute and their efforts. I happen to think that this is intellectual property theft. I believe Messrs. Fry and Laurie came up with this a long time ago:

Hat Tip: PZ Myers.

The Spirit of Cricket?

The talking heads on TV were all talking about this, yesterday, as is every newspaper in circulation. A London-based football-club owner has been arrested on charges of ‘spot-fixing’ (that’s the bastard step-sibling of ‘match-fixing’, if you didn’t know). I’ll let you read the story for yourself (watch the story, more like… the whole thing’s been caught on camera), and only say the following.

I’m not particularly into patriotism, or nationalism, or sports for that matter. But when there are millions (about 1.2 million families and 17 million people, is the current estimate) of people in your country who’ve been displaced by natural disaster, your government is fighting to keep the Taliban out of the North-West, and in spite of the average income in your country being worth less than dog food, you are put up in the Marriot at London, and asked to do your best on the playing field…

… And you go ahead and take money to throw matches, you deserve to be, dare I say it, beaten up. If these allegations are proven even remotely true, of course (and I don’t see how they could not be), I’m afraid this isn’t too hard to imagine at all. Cricketers’ houses have been ransacked in Pakistan, and people beaten up, for much smaller offences.

Of the prissily prudish and the exquisitely sensual

Took he all the flowers of the world, and grouped them in two,
Thus it was that he created her womanhood.
The air that enters her lungs only ever comes out as music,
And drops of rain that brush her bosom become pearls.
He sighed after creating this one,
knowing he could never imagine something better.

No, I haven’t gone mad, thanks for asking. The lines are from a Tamil movie (called Shahjahan; the song’s called Minnalai Pidithu – out of lightning, roughly). I must say that my translation might be dodgy, and that the song is better enjoyed in the original Tamil.

The point I want to make is this: Indian writing and poetry have some wonderfully sensual imagery. Of course, this is nothing specific to Tamil* poetry (lyrics, more technically; these are movie tracks, after all). The most well-known example I know from Sanskrit poetry is that of the contest between Bharavi, Bana, and Bhasa.

The following story may be apocryphal. I don’t know that these people were contemporaries. But that’s hardly the point. The king (presumably) who is holding a contest to decide who the best among these legends of poetry is, points to a girl (let’s assume that this girl isn’t really a girl so much as a young woman) who is playing with a ball. He asks the poets to describe the scene. Bana says something descriptive (the fair maiden is playing with the red ball, which bounces between the blue sky and the green earth). Bharavi says something about how the girl is annoyed with the impudence of the ball that keeps bouncing back up, and hits it down with anger each time. The winner, and better poet, is Bhasa, who describes the scene as follows (again, the original is much better. Ask your Sanskrit teacher for it):

The ball, which resembles the breasts of the girl,
is smitten by her nether lip,
and bounces once and again,
so that it may reach it.

You’d think that a people who are capable of producing poetry like this would be less prudish than to crucify an actress for saying that premarital sex is all right, and only relent when she’s moved the highest court in the country. Or hear cases against another actress who outraged the modesty of the Indian woman by kissing a man on screen. Or censor pornography nationwide. Or screen for words like ‘erotica’ or ‘sex’ in urls, even in the most advanced research institutions. (‘Sensual’ is all right, though. Mostly because the fellows who made up the filter don’t know the word. But I digress.)

Or require that every English channel on cable TV broadcast their programmes with subtitles which are NOT optional and can’t be removed, ever. And then blank the subtitles out every time somebody on  screen says ‘sex’. And replace ‘bitch’ with ‘witch’. And ‘shit’ with ‘crap’. The last one is especially puzzling to me. I mean, what on Earth is the point of saying ‘bullcrap’ instead of ‘bullshit’?

I’ve lamented quite often that we seem to be stuck in the past, in the nineteenth century, when it comes to our social values. In this one instance, though, we seem to have moved on from the poetry of Bhasa, and on to become  archetypes for George Lucas’ C3PO, only worse.

* In the ‘defence‘ of Tam junta, though, there’s also a poem that says The joy of poetry only lasts while the poem is as yet unexplained. Maybe they just didn’t bother thinking about what the poem meant.

The Creator Has A Mastertape. Damn!

I don’t usually write about music, mostly because I know next to nothing about it. Not Indian music. Not Western classical music. Not rock. Zilch.

But I do listen to music. I have this track by Porcupine Tree, from an album called In Absentia on my player. It must have been one of the last things I bootlegged* onto my computer before I left Madras. It’s called The Creator has a Mastertape. Oh. god. Damn. If you thought The Sound of Muzak had some radical drums**, you have to listen to this!

Eet ees eensane I tells ya.

* Yes. I have bootlegged music on my computer. <A la Martin Sheen from Two Cathedrals> It’s a sin. I’ve committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug? </Martin Sheen>

** On the other hand, if TSoM‘s drums aren’t considered radical, go ahead and write this down as being more evidence that I know nothing of music.