Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Old generals don’t die, they just fade away. That is originally from an early 191xs’ parody by British troops. The phrase was famously used by General MacArthur on his recall from Korea. Rings true- how many of us know whether Gen. KV Krishna Rao or Gen. JN Chaudhari or Air Marshall IH Latif are around or not? Well- old articles received back with rejection slips don’t fade away, they become blogs and return to haunt captive readers.

Yours faithfully, right from the moment he pronounced cogito ergo sum, counted himself as a writer. Basically it came from our urge to communicate, and we cut our journalistic teeth with scandal-mongering. In childhood, not noww, maiinndyoo haan!. We would write here and there, loos included. Our paper contributions, we would send to, and only to The Great Indian Daily. On occasions that can be counted on fingers of one hand, thumb excluded, we got paid, and on most occasions, we got paid back in our own coin. Those neat little slips. “The Editor of the Editor’s page of the Great Indian Daily regrets that he is unable to make use of your article”. Modesty (and Willy) forbids us from commenting on the quality of our articles. The world is truly deprived of enlightenment.

Out of sheer curiosity we once enrolled for the Diploma in Creative English Writing with the IGNOU around 1998, and were invited for an audience with the course Admin Prof. Shiv Kumar, an appointment we did not seek out of shyness and/or lethargy. One of our short stories had been called ‘exciting’ and ‘effervescent’ by our examiner. Sorry readers, you’ll have to read that one sooner or later, unless you bury your heads in sand or forget the path to this blog. One comment by our guide was-‘ try to put more visual content into your writings’. We are trying.

On a few occasions our compositions penned solely for the GID found refuge in the Letters column, which, alas has shrunk now, Honey. Here is a nice little sample we found recently in the attic when engaged in spring cleaning. The ‘last word’ letterette in the GID dated 25th October, 1991:
        Shrewd Move
Sir,-It should be obvious why Maulana Azad’s Bharat Ratna was dispatched to his heirs by post (October 11). As you state, the award has been criticized as a delayedhonour. Clearly, the government wants posterity to blame it on the post.
The GID of that era would be unrecognizable to today’s reader. The Editor’s Page was supposed to be important. Editors were big names like Giri and Sham, and writers, people like Inder, Chopra, Jha, Abraham etc. Giri would in fact boast of having influenced the PM’s mind, if any, and changed the course of Indian History. The Ed page had one whole column reserved for Letters, and mind you, the columns were of a fixed width, 8 to a page. There would be a riveting third edit, mostly written by VDTrivadi (not TrivEdi) or Suraiya. The ‘Middle’ was an institution, which died a premature death. The late VDT was the spirit behind the Middle and we were obliged by VDT on a few occasions. The lead article was on a serious topical issue and among the first steps towards trivialization of the Ed Page was a rave review by Dileep Padgaonkar and Amita Malik, of the emergency film Kissa Kursi Ka, published, to the utter disbelief of readers, in the space reserved for the lead article. ‘Indian film industry will never be the same after the movie’, or something like that. Soon enough, the ‘principled’ producer Amrit Nahata did a flip-flop, ditching Janata Party for the Congress. Slowly and surely, the control levers were captured by the market-savvy sons of the seth, sons who had only contempt for serious writing. Anyway serious readers can always be appeased with syndicated articles from NYT, among others. The writing part was taken over basically by profouundd word players like Bachi. Readers get the paper they deserve.

Well, the writer is now condemned to a lifetime of writing official notes, negotiating between silly officialese on the one hand, and sensible prose on the other, which, alas, is anathema to seniors, and could hurt their feelings, insolence, coming from a junior. But be sure, we’ll NEVER start with those sheepish words, “We have to advise you that….” which appears to us to be a most absurd construction, a lazy babu’s refuge. Writing the matter mince you are advising them only yaaar….Shades of Basanti in ‘Sholay’ saying…yun ki hamen …par dekhna ye hai ki… The final filter to our official compositions is Dr. Samuel Johnson’s advice to writers:

"Read over your compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."

Where were we?

Sometime in 1996, we had typed an article which was sent to the Great Indian Daily. The title was THREE UNLIKELY OBITUARIES and the starting point was that newspapers retained readymade obits, just in case someone happens to just conk off unexpectedly. Then of course, no paper in the country has the spirit of adventure to sport such unconventional tangential pieces. That is one thing left best to America. In fact we had taken care to send a self addressed envelope to the venerable lady of DN Street-height of pessimism, ha, ha, ha! The article was treated with due respect and sent back by return mail. BUT- it carried some unexpected, prophetic prescience. It boldly predicted the ascension of Dr. Manmohan Singh to the Premiership of the country, something that appeared absurd wayyy back in 1996. But then yours truly is a respecter, a patron, an enthusiast, and a theatre, of the absurd, an attribute shared with him by Real-life. So kindly taike the trouble of going through the 3 imaginary obits.


Three Obituaries written sometime in the Future


If Western Classical Music were to be likened to the wild tresses of Apollo, Indian Classical Music would compare well with the neatly combed balding pate of an elderly man. In spite of the advent of Pop and Rock, Western Music survives in secluded groves, but Indian Classical could not withstand the onslaught of the hoi polloi, and is today no more.

So long as it thrived, in the 16th to the 20th century, it was indeed a great idea. Twelve notes, and the structured ragas. The gharana purist would frown upon any deviation, but in the late 20th century, there grew a tradition of eclecticism too, and even former purists took to experimentation, and then woe on the artiste who had not created a fancy raga with a fancier name. Hindi film music brought Classical closer to the masses. All to the good of the music and the artistes, or so it appeared for a while. No such thing occurred in the case of its Western counterpart. But ultimately, this phenomenon proved to be the undoing of Indian Classical. What took place was the proletarisation of Indian Classical, and the culprit was electronics.

The excellent structuralisation of Indian Classical, once considered its principal virtue, lent the Music to easy computerization. Synthesisers came in handy. The Bankss and the Rehmans churned—belted-- out tune after tune on their computers. Thanks to T-series, the strains of classical pervaded the Universe ad nauseum. Where vocal music was concerned, earlier, much store used to be set by the quality of voice. But in the name of freshness and virginity, the crop of electro-musicians made a virtue out of mediocrity.

Eventually, Indian Classical came to be ‘cribbed and cabined’, or ‘canned and caged’ and, its plight like that of the famed Chinese Cuckoo, pined away to its death.

We bow to this great Music!



If Indian Banks were to be likened to the animals of the forest, this Bank would compare well with the Mammoth, and like the Mammoth, it is alas extinct today. The Bank disappeared, like a collapsing star, under the weight of its own, shall we say, contradictions.

The financial well-being, the profitability, of Indian banks has always been a dicey affair. One year banks show profit, and the other year, staggering losses that wipe out the shareholders’ funds in one swipe, only to stage a spectacular comeback the next year. This bank too was wont to show tremendous profits in one half-year, and a bleak future the next half. Naturally, no one, not even their paid consultants, could predict the shape of things to come. The undoing of the Bank was that the staff, particularly the high ups, lived their official lives for their own personal selves. Sycophancy, especially of the regional/casteist variety, was the order of the day. That, or arrogance. The people at the top got engrossed in the pernicious practice of insider trading at the cost of their duties. Our share is worth a thousand, they would boast to Our Lady of the Scam.

While no one, including their caboodle of DMDs could figure out how the Bank really came by phenomenal profits, there is not a shade of doubt that their human resource was matchless, especially their middle order executives. The Bank’s collapse is no middle-order collapse. All time greats of Indian Banking like RKT and VM decorated the top in its heyday. Granted, the Bank had become top-heavy for some time, but thanks to the advisers of the Bank, and the liberalization brigade, the Bank ejected much of its dead-wood to nascent Private Sector banks. The Bank’s sudden demise has come as a shock to the financial community.

We bow to this great bank!



If the Indian political scene were to be likened to a Cesspool, this man would compare well with the Lotus. It is an oft-repeated tradition in our country, that power goes after he that abjures it. No more poignant example can be cited, other than this great man.

The country was in the throes of a great constitutional crisis in the mid-nineties. In our neighbouring country, the Army is accustomed to stepping in, in such a situation, but in our great democracy, perhaps mercifully, it was only the Supreme Court that stepped in. But it was as if Shiva had himself descended to the Earth to perform his destructive ‘Tandava’. Those were the traumatic days. So much muck was flung by politicians of the day at one another, that they were barely distinguishable, one from the other. This man, like the Mahatma, was no conventional politician. In fact so averse was this ‘simple-minded Sardarji’ to power politics, that he was reluctant to file his nominations for an election, and it was beyond ordinary belief that he would become the country’s PM. It was a dream come true for the people. Even as an ordinary minister earlier, and as Governor, RBI, he had demonstrated being made of stuff sterner than apparent. He would spare no politician or bureaucrat. He would call a spade a spade. He was the only disciplined soldier in the rag-tag army of his ill-fated predecessor. And he would not lose sleep over small matters like stock-market cataclysm.

In election speeches themselves, the good doctor declared that he would, if elected by the countrymen, implement the exit-policy, jettison subsidies, severely punish the guilty of 1984, rebuild the Babri Mosque at the original site, and make the rupee fully convertible on the capital account. And the people of the country elected him to be their PM by a massive vote. The Nehruvian sun shone again for two decades, and this time the country reached the glorious heights that Vivekananda or anyone else aver aspired to. He became the beloved of the masses, and his name is taken in the same breath as Gandhi or Nehru.

We bow to this great man!


Back to hindsight now,

(i) Clearly, Indian Classical has proved more resilient than expected. Marks: 50/100.

(ii) Gradient of downslide of Chabi wala bank (that’s how it is identified in Haryana) is slightly less skewed, because of buoyant treasury profits enabled by currency inflows, post-liberalisation, which lead to falling interest rates and appreciation in bond values. However, the course is as predicted, and one has only to replace the words ‘insider trading’ with ‘cross-selling’, not cross-dressing, Sir. Share price has overtaken 3000, though. Marks: 80/100.

(iii) The last predict- the piece de resistance- was quite close, wooooshhh!!! However, it appears that we were too nice to our protagonist, ignoring the Sonia factor altogether. Or may be….its our secret dream! After all, he is a Khalsa- a Sikh, no ordinary mortal. Marks: 25/50 for the content of the prediction, and 50/50 for the audacity.

Full marks for the construction of the piece.

An explanation for our assumed name ‘Chance’ which appears beside our pic. According to Einstein, ‘Chance’ is the pseudonym He uses, when He wants to conceal His identity. No one has asked us what it meant, though. It seems that either (i) nobody reads this blog and it is a cry in the wilderness, or (ii) blog is really unintelligible as 16-17% readers (our spouse, being one of six readers as explained in the last blog) complain.

1 comment:

Xmonito said...

Hahahaha.. Marvelous...