Babies, Bigotry and 9/11

on March 30, 2006 with 0 comments »

hmm...

The ugly wave of anti-Arab feelings immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, may have been responsible for a sharp increase in the incidence of premature and low-birth-weight babies born to women of Arab descent in the United States in the months that followed the terrorist attacks. The evidence is circumstantial but compelling, epidemiologist Diane S. Lauderdale of the University of Chicago says in the latest issue of Demography.

Read more at this WaPo article

Over the past 10 years, I have noticed that journalism standards in India have gone down the drain. Few would argue that mainstream Media in India is more and more becoming tabloid-ish... especially online versions of Timesofindia but even the others stoop to covering 'Celebrity marriages, lost dogs, drunken brawls'

And even Aamir Khan thinks so :) In an unprecedented and outspoken interview, iconic actor Aamir Khan speaks out about the media to Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka.com (subscription may be required to read entire article). If you arean Aamir fan, you'll also enjoy this article.

P.S. On a related note, do read the great watchdog blog which discusses issues related to Indian media at WeTheMedia



I am reproducing the entire interview here for your perusal...

(Remember all copyrights lie with Tehelka.com)

'Mainstream media has become like film media 15 years ago'

Celebrity marriages, lost dogs, drunken brawls. Trivial headline news and the sellout of mainstream journalism. In an unprecedented and outspoken interview, iconic actor Aamir Khan speaks out about the media to Shoma Chaudhury


'I was taken aback by the vengeance with which a section of the media went after Mangal Pandey. It’s as if they had almost pre-decided to kill the film. I felt like setting the record straight, but for me to say the film was doing well is absurd. So I just fell silent'
Aamir, you did saturation press for Mangal Pandey. But for Rang De Basanti you've kept totally away from the media. Why is that?

Well, there are a number of reasons, and I’ll go into it at various levels. First reason, I was extremely surprised by the vengeance with which a fair section of the media went for Mangal Pandey. It seemed to me as if they had pre-decided to kill the film. A lot of articles came out on the day of the release regarding how badly the film was doing at the box-office. On the day of release it is impossible to tell. The fact of the matter is that the collections in the first week were record-breaking by leaps and bounds, not just by small margins. So if at all the stories in that first week had been “honest news”, they should have said the collections are breaking records. Instead, there were articles about how badly it’s doing. I must emphasise I’m not talking about reviews here because that’s personal opinion — people and critics’ personal opinion — which is fair enough. I’m talking about the reporting on how the film was doing. That really took me aback. I didn’t know how to react. I felt like correcting what the reports were saying and putting on record what the actual collections were. But somehow it didn’t feel right to do that because I’m an interested party and for me to say the film is doing very well is absurd. I felt the collections should speak for themselves; instead they were being altered. So I was taken aback by the vengeance. I was also disappointed in a majority of the media, be it television or print; reason being that while a section was attacking the film, the other section should have stood up and said, let’s talk hardcore numbers and be factual instead of imagining things and making up. That didn’t happen. So I just fell silent for a bit. I just didn’t know how to react. Why was all this happening? I was confused, quite frankly. So at the time I maintained silence.

Is your media embargo a product of this?

No, as I said, there are various reasons. Along with this, in the last one year or so, I’ve been amazed at the kind of reporting that’s happening in national news — whether it’s television or print. It’s extremely disturbing, I find. Strange and unimportant stories are constantly making headlines. Only things which are sensational or cater to very base emotions of people are headline news. I realise TV channels are sprouting every day and there’s a lot of competition to grab viewership. Similarly with newspapers. As a result they are stooping to the lowest levels to try and get readership or viewership which actually translates into money. So at the end of the day because they want more ads they are destroying what is a very important part of society and that is news reporting. The nation and society at large have a right to know what is happening in the country and in the right manner and right perspective. The kind of news making headlines today — earlier they used to be tidbits or one page which was meant to be entertaining, or half a page — not even one page. But now that’s the main news and stories of farmers dying or something equally important that affects our lives or affects the lives of a lot of people are being pushed to small, unimportant sections of the paper. I find this very damaging and alarming.

Some ig somewhere has become Radha and that is national news, some actress has lost her dog, somebody’s affair has broken up, somebody’s in hospital — all personal stuff — and that’s national news. Certainly people would be interested in the film industry or entertainment world but that should not get the kind of prominence it is getting, I feel. It’s wasting important national space that should be used in a more productive manner.


'My marriage was like a money-making opportunity for the media. I do feel as a public person I should voice my opinion for whatever it’s worth. News reporting is a matter of national concern. I can see why all this is happening in the media but I don’t condone it'
Why did you decide ..

Sorry, to complete what I was saying, this was immediately followed by a very personal event in my life which was my marriage and in which I again felt the press had gone completely nuts (laughing) — in the way they were trying to exploit that occasion for their financial benefit. Trying to get pictures, going to lengths where they were making up what we were supposed to be wearing or what my children were supposed to have reacted to or said… All kinds of things. Absolute imagination.

The thing is, I feel before being a star I am a human being and I have the right to conduct my life the way I want to, especially my personal life. If I’m getting married and I want to share it with a few close people, I feel I should be left alone to do that. Yes, report that I’m getting married, but that just makes one news item. I don’t think it deserves the kind of space it got in national news. I felt very violated by the attitude of the media at that time. Supposedly dignified newspapers and dignified news channels were indulging in the same things. Bit shocking for me. And at the end of the day I realise they were doing this to make money. They wanted viewership and they were selling time on their channels to get ads. So it’s very sad what news reporting has become in India today. That was another reason for me becoming silent and quiet. I had no idea how I was supposed to deal with this. I really don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with this. (laughing with exasperation) Do I take legal recourse? Do I file a pil? It was all so extremely intrusive. Even when we were away on a three-day stint to Panchgani with my family, they were all over there. When they couldn’t get close to me because fortunately I’m in a position where I could use security guards — other people may not have even that and it’s unfair that anyone can walk into your house and shoot what’s happening in your house — if someone tries to do that, I want to stop them; so I did my best to stop it and to a large degree I succeeded which obviously annoyed them even more. They started writing rubbish — stuff like my agency had used violence.

There were reports of that?

Yes, when they weren’t allowed in, reporters tried to push their way. Obviously they were stopped, so they started shouting, how dare you use violence? (laughing with exasperation) There was no violence. They were just being stopped from entering a space that was private. All kinds of stunts were tried. It left me amazed and upset and surprised at the way things are. Soon after that Rang De Basanti was releasing. I realised I wasn’t mentally or emotionally in a state to deal with these kind of people, this monster that the media had become. Who am I supposed to speak to and what am I supposed to say? It’s much better that I just keep silent. If the film has to suffer as a result of that, it will, but I feel the film has a strength of its own and we can use paid alternatives for publicising -- take out ads that are paid for. And that’s what the producers did. They were of course alarmed that I was not going to give any interviews, but I was not in a state, quite frankly, to give any.

We’ll come back to some of this later, but why did you decide to speak out now?

I thought more about it and I do feel as a public person I should voice my opinion for whatever it is worth. News reporting is a matter of national concern. I can see why all this is happening but I still don’t condone that kind of behaviour. I really feel that the Press Council or some authorities in a position to do something about this must look at it very seriously. In fact I’d even go so far as to say I think there is a need for some kind of law or legislation regarding various aspects of the press.

Newspapers like The Times of India were printing false news about me during the marriage. This is supposed to be one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country. None of the others are far behind. All the leading newspapers today are only interested in printing photographs of naked women in at least five pages of the publication -- that’s what it’s come down to as far as I can see -- on a daily basis (laughing) -- not a one-off, on a daily basis.

But to get back, I am of course against censorship or the press being curtailed in any way but at the same time I feel every individual in India has a right to privacy and that certainly should be protected. Unless I’m doing something illegal, in which case, please, make sure you intrude my space, but otherwise you can’t just walk into my house for titillation and to sell your magazines and channels.

Apr 01 , 2006

Hurrah!

with 0 comments »

An Indian court sentenced a doctor to two years in prison for using ultrasound tests to determine the sex of fetuses, the first physician convicted for flouting a law designed to end an epidemic of parents aborting female fetuses!

Had never heard of the guy, considered a giant of mid-20th-century science fiction, 'in a league with Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick', who 'addressed many of the themes they did: the meaning of human life among superintelligent machines, the frustrations of communicating with aliens, the likelihood that mankind could understand a universe in which it was but a speck.', until today when I read that he died on March 27, 2006

Despite (or maybe because of) my deep interest in astronomy and science , I have never really gotten into sci-fi. And so, while I have heard of the Clooney starrer movie, Solaris, once I knew it was a sci-fi movie, I never considered seeing it or even reading reviews of the movie to learn more about what it is about. But the reason I write about it today is this hilarious quote I found today by Stanislaw Lem, author of the sci-fi novel, Solaris, who

"America was exporting Stinger missiles to Afghanistan, where they were used to shoot Soviet helicopters. Now the Stingers spread all over the world and Americans are scared, that they will shoot their civilian airplanes. The law of free market rules everywhere. Beate Uhse, queen of German sex-industry, sells yearly six millions of various sexual gadgets. That is technology, too. They say, that the copulation dolls will be soon equipped in artificial intelligence. I don't believe that, because it takes no intelligence to copulate' - Stanislaw Lem, in an interview. (Another interview here.)

Another quote I found is also interesting..
'Oh, I read good books, too, but only Earthside. Why that is, I don't really know. Never stopped to analyze it. Good books tell the truth, even when they're about things that never have been and never will be. They're truthful in a different way. When they talk about outer space, they make you feel the silence, so unlike the Earthly kind - and the lifelessness. Whatever the adventures, the message is always the same: humans will never feel at home out there.' - from 'Pirx's Tale' in More Tales of Pirx The Pilot, 1983

late night snark

on March 29, 2006 with 0 comments » |

Gleaned from this Dailykos post.

'Here now a list of requirements for Dick Cheney's 'downtime suite'...Cheney wants bottled water, decaffeinated coffee. He wants his lights on. He wants the temperature at 68 degrees, the TV's must be tuned to Fox news. I was thinking, 'My God, I wish they would have put this much preparation into the Iraq War.' - David Letterman

'We're now down to the final four. Not college basketball. The number of people who still think President Bush is doing a good job.' -Jay Leno

'The President's mother, Barbara Bush, donated tax-deductible money to the Katrina Relief after the flood. And now we find out that it was with specific instructions that the money be spent for educational software owned by her son Neil. Because who can forget those tragic images of the poor black people on rooftops in New Orleans holding up signs that said, 'Send Educational Software'?' --Bill Maher

"Ummm...well, uh...I wasn't prepared for that one." -- Cobra II co-author Michael Gordon, responding to Jon Stewart's question, "After the fall of Baghdad, what did [Bush and the neocons] get right?" on The Daily Show

Gleaned from Plastic.com, ____, and other resources online.. - March 29, 2006

Congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian (R) thinks things are going great in Iraq. Just look at this photo he took of a Bagdad street. It's just the media who focus on problems, like the fact that the photo was taken in Turkey. (Dailykos has a post on this also.)

Your tax-money at work...
The Alaska town of Dillingham has used a $202,000 Homeland Security grant meant primarily to defend against a terrorist attack to purchase and install 80 security cameras. That comes to about 1 camera for every 30 people in this small, remote town.

I don't think this is what Chevrolet had in mind when they put up a website that would allow you to design your own commercial for the Chevy Tahoe.

Cricinfo has an interesting discussion between ex-cricketers and umpires involved in what were a few shameful un-gentlemanly contested tests in an acrimonous series between New Zealand and West Indies in early 1980...read the details! Had never heard of this incident!

Aggravation at repeated umpiring errors is understandable but Colin Croft's behavior and Clive Lloyd, as the West indies captain not trying to control his side, is despicable (and even Lloyd agrees, in hindsight). Even Croft's Cricinfo profile talks about this run-in with the umpire,
Fred Goodall.

"Crofty," a West Indian team-mate once said, "would bounce his grandmother if he thought there was a wicket in it." In a relatively brief career lasting just five years, he established a reputation as one of the most chilling of fast men, with no compunction whatsoever about inflicting pain. There was little of the orthodox about him. The prancing run was straight but the batsman saw only his head bobbing behind the umpire until he veered out wide of the crease just prior to delivery, leaning back and slanting the ball awkwardly in to the right-hander. Often, as with Courtney Walsh later, it would hold up off the seam and move away.

Occasionally his volatility and enthusiasm for the bouncer got him into trouble, most notably when he kept the local infirmary busy while bowling for Guyana against the Australians in 1977-78, and again two winters later during an acrimonious tour of New Zealand, when he failed to veer out in his run and flattened the umpire Fred Goodall who had annoyed him.

Apparently, Imran Khan had this to say about Croft, deemed as one of cricket's XI meanest bowlers... "Genuinely nasty. He didn't seem to enjoy playing cricket very much."


Blog on

on March 28, 2006 with 0 comments »

An anonymous blog by a young woman in war-torn Iraq has been longlisted for BBC Four's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. Baghdad Burning, a first-hand account written under the pseudonym Riverbend, is one of 19 books in contention.

Interestingly,
the best books based on blogs are being recognized with their own literary prize - the Blookers!

Sonia Gandhi

on March 24, 2006 with 0 comments »

..steps down from Parliament..

Gandhi steps down from parliament - BBC

Sonia’s stunner - Financial Express
'Sonia must quit all offices of profit' - Chennai Online
Sonia Gandhi gives up post to hang on to "halo" - Reuters India
Gandhi acts to put out political fire in India - Chicago Tribune
Sonia becomes an ordinary citizen - Rediff
One master stroke takes the sting out of BJP attack - CNN-IBN
Sonia Gandhi quits Lok Sabha - Hindu

Text of Sonia Gandhi's statement
- Hindustan Times, India
The Sonia Gandhi statement - Daily News & Analysis

Who is Sonia Gandhi, asks aam-aadmi
Times of India, India - If you expect a political storm after Sonia Gandhi's resignation then you may need to rethink as aam-aadmi is unconcerned and unmoved.

It’s rare commitment to moral values: PM Navhind Times
Should Sonia Gandhi have resigned? Rediff
Sonia tried to make virtue out of necessity: Jaya Sify
'Another drama on nation' News Today
News Analysis: By leaving, Gandhi might gain - IHT
Masterstroke or a Congress-party Mess - Soutik Biswas, BBC News


======================================================
Unrelated news from India..
Famed tortoise dies in Calcutta zoo at age of 250

The Internet Revolution

on March 23, 2006 with 0 comments »

No Velvet Revolution or Rose Revolution or Orange Revolution or Tulip Revolution or even Cedar Revolution
...
but this should be called the true Internet Revolution following Elections in Belarus.

Belarussians are using weblogs, online communities, and text messaging to organize, share newsnumerous photos, and oppose their corrupt government's fraudulent election. Patriotism, flags, and dark blue is in fashion, whether the government likes it or not. - via Metafilter

Cleanliness is Godliness

on March 22, 2006 with 2 comments »

First it was the turn of foreigners visiting Rajasthan to be educated about culturally inappropriate behaviour. Now the government of the northern Indian state has banned street habits often considered typically Indian. Graffiti and spitting and urinating in public have been outlawed across the state - although critics of the new law say more urinals should be built first.

Read more here.

My 2c (2 anna? 2 paisa? 2 Rupee?) worth:
Like other Gandhi-isms, truisms and aphorisms like 'Cleanliness is Godliness' have become meaningless cliches in today's India - mere words that people may bandy about in middle school but as a country, India is a dirty sloppy messy country. I agree that it can be a big challenge to 'teach' cleanliness to 1 billion Indians now.. but the filth is disgusting and uncomprehensible to Westerners visiting India. Like my Westerner boss said to me during a recent visit to India, 'Poverty doesn't mean they cannot put trash in trash bins - it is no excuse for being sloppy'... Thank God he didn't see that people do more than throw trash on the roads..know of a place near my grandparents' place in Mumbai where they have built 20 public loos.. but the kids (even adults maybe!) from the zopadpatti nearby all defecate on the roads despite the facilities made available..

So..in that context, it is a good initiative taken by the government of Rajastan, which sees its fare share of Western tourists. We should aim to be cleaner for our own good..not for tourists only.. but if tourism is the means to the end, so be it. However, I do fervently hope they can implement these rules... the best of plans of men and mice go awry and especially in India - because having these rules has no meaning unless there is some measure of accountability with regard to its implementation. Ofcourse, what does one do...start arresting people for littering? One surely does not need a police state! Maybe fining is an option for this is a minor infraction - not a murder or rape or even burglary? But then how does one ensure the perpetrators do not get away with paying a small bribe! How does one enforce this over millions of people... How does one then make sure people, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, follow this new rule... all of India is not quite Bihar..but still ..

Questions ...Questions... No answers... any interesting comments from readers here on how to make sure this can be implemented successfully...or even the broader question of how to we get India to be a cleaner nicer easier place for all of us.. Indians & tourists.

Read the NY Times Book Review of 'American Theocracy' by Kevin Phillips.

Kevin Phillips, who as a young political strategist for the Republican Party, wrote in his 1969 book,
The Emerging Republican Majority, that a stronger Republican Party would restore stability and order to a society experiencing disorienting and at times violent change, in his new book, American Theocracy : The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury', presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness.

He identifies three broad and related trends - none of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration's policies - that together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debt- current and prospective - that both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country's immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future.

The American press in the first days of the Iraq war reported extensively on the Pentagon's failure to post American troops in front of the National Museum in Baghdad, which, as a result, was looted of many of its great archaeological treasures. Less widely reported, but to Phillips far more meaningful, was the immediate posting of troops around the Iraqi Oil Ministry, which held the maps and charts that were the key to effective oil production. Phillips fully supports an explanation of the Iraq war that the Bush administration dismisses as conspiracy theory - that its principal purpose was to secure vast oil reserves that would enable the United States to control production and to lower prices. ('Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath,' an oil analyst said a couple of years ago. 'You can't ask for better than that.') Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, tyranny, democracy and other public rationales were, Phillips says, simply ruses to disguise the real motivation for the invasion.

Also read NY Times Review of Kevin Phillips' earlier book, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush

Book Review - House on the Edge of Tears

on March 18, 2006 with 0 comments »

The same wind that comes from the sea has run down the same streets for forty years. The rain that used to drench the buildings crossed a field of ruins. At the two extremities of this field: a house where my father conducted a reign of terror and a grave where he found a place not meant for him. He was buried there by chance. War had scrambled the country’s geography: the dead were given up to the closest cemetery. …

… I exhume two of my dead and one living-dead: my brother who concentrated within himself all of his father’s ambitions and fury; I want to question them, open their mouths sealed in silence, to rout out by force the cause of those rages, as brutal and brief as resin-fires.

In a northern village, the tomb of a Maronite saint has been sweating blood for a century. My father’s grave oozes threats from its stony pores. My mother’s, modest and moss-covered, seeps tears.
My mother had only tears to defend her son. “God, let him be dead!” I would repeat until I was near fainting when my father was late coming home. I dreamed about being an orphan. Only his death would stop my mother’s tears, my brother’s cries of terror, and we three girls from trembling.

…So begins Venus Khoury-Ghata’s book,

A House at the Edge of Tears – published by Greywolf Press, 2005. After reading the first four pages, I was left feeling as if my very being had been churned, tossed, and spit out – not so much horrified by the brutality but disturbed and at the same time in awe of the immense effect mere words, conjoined into haunting sentences, had effected – bringing home images of a brutality and a grief that one couldn’t imagine, let alone empathize with.

Joyce Carol Oates wrote in her introduction to
The Best American Essays of the Century – ‘My belief is that art should not be comforting. For comfort, we have mass entertainment and one another. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish.’

By that measure, Venus Khoury-Ghata has written a veritable piece of art. Most novels, in my opinion, lose a lot in translation but if that is the case here, the talent of Khoury-Ghata can only then amaze one even more. Marilyn Hacker, herself a
poet and author of some repute, has brought us English readers a genuinely amazing read – so much so, I am tempted to go and immediately read Khoury-Ghata’s award winning book of poems, She Says, also translated by Hacker.

Without giving away too much of the story here or having to reproduce the entire four pages or the entire book, for that matter, suffice it is to say that the book takes us along on a relentless, brutal, and hauntingly poignant journey, without ever stooping to self-pity or self-indulgent sensationalism.

The author, a Lebanese poet and novelist, resident in France since 1973, narrates the story of her childhood in Beirut forty years ago – throwing ‘sentences on the page in great shovelfuls, with a noise of falling earth,’ digging into her shame like a grave’ – and takes us on a unsettling journey of her family’s angst, set against the backdrop of the interminable descent of Lebanese society into the chaos of war.

Other than
Without, a book of poems by Donald Hall, which I had read in one sitting deep into the night some years ago, and which had me bawling, commiserating with the loss felt by the poet over the loss of his wife, the poet, Jane Kenyon, I cannot remember any book that I have read - and there have been many over the years - which has evoked such a powerful emotional response from me. The story of this book, while sad and difficult, is not something which readers may never have encountered elsewhere. The grief and injustices suffered by the victims of war, the Holocaust, and other similar singular and not-so-uncommon travesties sometimes have a tendency to numb the spirit and have, in the past, prompted me to stay away from the mundane common fare of umpteen novels, fictional and memoirs, written each year about the tragedies that befall families and how they either fight through it or succumb to it. However, this is not one of those books… the reasons that make this book special and different is that the story was not what moved me but it was the words, the sentences, and the powerful images and their symbolism that conveyed…

Only in reading the Afterward at the end of the book, which the author signs off as herself and not as the narrator of the novel, did I realize that the power and potency of the words comes through a real familiar experience of the author. While the artistic liberties taken by the author in narrating the story of her brother are unclear, (the book not being indicated anywhere as being a memoir), clearly the novel is a journey of catharsis (’to each his own tomb: mine is in these pages’), guilt, fear, grief, shame (‘shame nailed me to the ground’, and finally, redemption (with the novel ending with ‘You (the brother) are the only survivor’).

--
Personal Note: At 110 pages, the novel is a short read but for all the reasons outlined above, can be a moving and difficult one. In fact, I found it very difficult to go past the first four pages the first couple of times. Interjected by the mundane routine of life and work, I moved to some ‘lighter’ reading, but came back to this book after a two-week hiatus on a flight from Boston to Cleveland. But re-reading the first few pages, I once again struggled to continue –not because the language is difficult, which has happened to me before with David Mitchell’s
Cloud Atlas and to a certain extent with Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam), but because the words affronted me with their brutal honesty - like the pomegranate tree in the courtyard of the narrator’s childhood home, ‘spattering the landing with bloody juice when its fruit burst open in the sun’. I stopped but restarted again at page 75 the next time and succeeded in reading the last 30 pages – and found that after that I was able to somehow making the necessary emotional leap to start again at the beginning. Reading the end prematurely may have taken away some of the ‘suspense’ from the reading but the writing is what kept me hooked, not the story and so I finished reading the entire book in one sitting (being stuck on a plane for 2 hours helped!) – starting again at the beginning and re-reading the last 30 pages again for a final complete reading of the book.

Oscars 2006

on March 6, 2006 with 0 comments »

List of all the award nominees, with winners

'Crash' walks away with the top prize at the Oscars - Nice comprehensive article, as always..from the NYT (via IHT)


Personal comments coming later...time permitting!

Last weekend I saw Downfall, the German movie about the last days of Hitler which got ravereviews Oscar time last year..

Undoubtedly a heavy movie..esp. at the end but a great must-watch movie! Not to give away much (I recommend you see it, though be ready to get into a heavy depressing mood at the end when the Nazis accept the inevitable, with the Russians closing in on them in central Berlin, in a very disturbing end... but heck...they deserved every bit of it. Movies like Schindler's List have really brought the horrors to film very well.. and there are still innumerable stories, documentaries, and books still coming out about the horrors the Nazis perpetrated in the 30s and early 40s. In fact, here is one from today at cnn.com too ..evil incarnate!!

The movie Downfall is based on two books Inside Hitler's Bunker by Joachim Fest and Until the Final Hour (BIS ZUR LETZTEN STUNDE) by Traudl Junge and Melissa Müller. Junge, who was Hitler's secretary and was with him in the bunker the last few days but made it out of the bunker alive after his death, died recently and in fact features in the movies in short clips both at the beginning and end of the film. (The 2002 documentary, BLIND SPOT, is an extended interview with Traudl, in which she expresses "plausible deniability" for the atrocities perpetuated by her employer.)

Also, if interested, click here for a good summary about the rise of Hitler in Germany... I think from a historical perspective, how he came to power and took sway over the entire nation is far more interesting than how he faced his end over his last few days...

Another rich snazzy Indian wedding..

on March 2, 2006 with 0 comments »

The Vikram Chatwal - Priya Sachdev wedding was all the news in tabloid-ish socialite-following sections of all newspapers in India earlier this month! Now some international coverage too..

Blushing, hip bride - Wedding puts India onto the map of Global Cool, says IHT.

Who the f cares...

Ganguly-Chappell fracas continues

on March 1, 2006 with 1 comments »

I have been a great fan of Chappell and his strategies and policies so far (and not so much a fan of Ganguly, who has not taken the graceful way out despite failing form and has instead become a divisive force within the Indian side)... but...why oh why would Chappell flare the flames of their fracas again with an interview like this..and that too now!

Captaincy was important to Sourav’s finances: Greg

Maybe this interview was given before the team for the first test for the England series was announced (and Ganguly left out). In any case, I would expect stuff like this to come out from Chappell at some later date when he leaves the Indian coaching job... (Will truly be interesting and controversial, to say the least, if/when some day Wright, Dravid, Tendulkar, or even Ganguly writes a book on their perspectives from their coaching/playing days over the last decade ..I'd be especially interesting to hear what Dravid has to say about what has transpired over the last year!)..but it is highly irresponsible for Chappell to come out with statements about captaincy being important to Ganguly's finances etc! I am not sure it is even accurate for I think it is more an ego thing for a hard-fighting aggressive guy like Ganguly and not money. The very reasons we loved Ganguly and drove him to be the most successful Indian captain are the same reasons he has failed to recognize that the end is here and it is time for him to leave gracefully! I had imagined he would have to be dragged out yelling from the field and surely he has proved to do that and more....

Though admittedly, Chappell does honestly state the facts as he sees them and is consistent in his reasoning..'Certainly, there is no way I would have got the job here without his influence. But, we clashed because his needs as a struggling player and captain and those of the team were different.'

He goes on to say, recalling Ganguly approaching him for batting tips during India's tour of Australia in 2003, 'I helped him with his batting then. So maybe he thought I would be his mate and support him now. I am sure he thought he would be able to run me as he did John in the latter part of his time as coach.'

Also: Chappell once again confirmed that he did ask Ganguly to step down from captaincy but the advice was only aimed at helping him revive his career. 'In essence, I told Sourav that if he wanted to save his career he should consider giving up the captaincy. He was just hanging in there. Modest innings were draining him. He had no energy to give to the team, which was helping neither him nor us. It was in his own interest to give himself mind space to work on his batting so that it could be resurrected but he was not prepared to do that,' he added. The Aussie said he had no idea what captaincy meant for Ganguly and why he wanted to cling on to the post despite the fact that he was undergoing the worst phase of his career. 'What I didn’t realise at that stage was how utterly important to his life and finances being captain was.'

And this rings true for sure... 'I am thorough, a realist, a pragmatist and I’m honest'.

This picture says it all - a no-nonsense Clint Eastwood-esque lion-like personality!

Anyways, the last is not over as apparantly, Saurav Ganguly has brought this piece to the attention of the BCCI... 'My attention has been drawn to the article by Sourav and I will take it up with the Board tomorrow' —BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah to DNA on Wednesday.

Update: BCCI has officially warned Greg Chappel.