Zoroastrianism

on September 28, 2006 with 0 comments » | ,

Although I hail from Bombay (now Mumbai), home of > 50% of the world's Parsees, I did not have any Parsee friends growing up and other than the fact that they had come to India fleeing persecution in Iran many many centuries back, there was little I knew about the history of Zorastrians, exposure to silly stereotypes in movies and familiarity with legendary names in Indian history, aside . My 2c on this is that I have always thought of them as a very anachronistic sect of people, albeit very talented, honest, hard-working and great human beings, who are doomed to dwindle to extinction sooner rather than later... thanks to their strict narrow-minded ways!

Today, I happened to read on Parsi Khabar (new blog I just found through my daily reading of India Uncut!) about a recent controversy in the Parsee community, that stems from their rather 'bizarre and morbid' custom of disposing the dead*...

The controversy stems from the fact that there is a growing pile of bodies in Bombay's Towers of Silence’... and this was highlighted to the Parsee community by pictures taken by a 65-year-old Parsee, Dhan Baria, of the Tower of Silence. Another Parsikhabar post has a video from CNN-IBN on the Towers of Silence Controversy - some disturbing imagery and therefore caution is needed when viewing the video.




Though the problem of undisposed bodies in the ‘Towers of Silence’ has been known, the matter came to limelight last fortnight after a community member clandestinely took photographs of the pile up in the Mumbai’s ‘Tower of Silence.’ “Vultures are supposed to eat away the bodies. But they have become virtually extinct because they consume diclofenic while feeding on cattle carcasses and disappearance of their habitat,” said an analyst. Sources in the Parsi community say that not only in Mumbai but even in Hyderabad there could be a pile up of bodies in the two ‘Towers of Silence’ (or dakhmas) located in Bhoiguda and Parsigutta. Vultures were last seen in Hyderabad two decades ago.



The problem has been recognized by the Parsee community and some solutions have been sought
In Bombay, the Parsi council has installed giant solar reflectors to hasten the process of decomposition of corpses because there are just not enough vultures around to consume all the bodies. It is also starting a vulture aviary on the premises with help from an overseas expert. Currently in Bombay there is an average of three Parsees dying every day and the handful of vultures at the towers are overfed. Experts say about 100-120 birds would be needed to deal with the daily intake of bodies.



A related news item that I recall reading at the BBC website some time back reported the virtual disappearence of vultures in India, with the population declining from 45 million only a few years ago to the verge of extinction.

Wildlife experts in India have been urging the Indian government to ban a widely used veterinary drug in order to save vultures from extinction after New Scientist reported studies that proved that the catastrophic decline of griffon vultures in south Asia was caused not by a mysterious disease, as had been thought, but a common painkiller given to sick cattle. 


Anyways, reading this led me to think that it is a shame that I do not know much of the history of the Parsee people or the reasons for the customs of the Parsees. So, I set upon an expedition through Wikipedia (Not to add fuel to the fire, but in today's world where information is only a mouse-click away, subscriptions to Britannica do not make sense when you have the power of wiki and the collective wisdom of experts from around the world at hand!), to learn more about Parsees, their culture, and their history.


Here is a short snippet from the wiki article on Zoroastrianism

The Avesta is the collection of the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. The contents of the Avesta are generally divided into five categories. The divisions are topical and are by no means fixed or
canonical. Some scholars prefer to place the five categories in two groups, the one liturgical, and the other general.

  • The Yasna, the primary liturgical collection; includes the Gathas, which are thought to have
    been composed by
    Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) himself.
  • The Visparad, a collection of supplements to the Yasna.
  • The Yashts, hymns in honor of the divinities of Zoroastrian angelology.
  • The Vendidād, describes the various forms of evil spirits and ways to confound them.
  • Shorter texts and prayers, the five nyaishes "worship, praise", the siroze "thirty days" (see Zoroastrian calendar) and the afringans "blessings".

Ahura Mazda is the beginning and the end, the creator of everything which can and cannot be seen, the Eternal, the Pure and the only Truth.

Some major Zoroastrian precepts:
  • Equalism: Equality of all, irrespective of gender, race, or religion
  • Respect and kindness towards all living things. Condemnation of the oppression of human beings, cruelty against animals and sacrifice of animals.
  • Environmentalism: Nature is central to the practice of Zoroastrianism and many important Zoroastrian annual festivals are in celebration of nature: new year on the first day of spring, the water festival in summer, the autumn festival at the end of the season, and the mid-winter fire festival.
  • Hard work and charity: Laziness and sloth are frowned upon. Zoroastrians are encouraged to part with a little of what would otherwise be their own.
  • Loyalty and faithfulness to "family, settlement, tribe, and country."

Central to Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on moral choice, to choose between the responsibility and duty for which one is in the mortal world, or to abjure this duty and so facilitate the work of druj. Similarly, predestination is rejected in Zoroastrian teaching. Humans bear responsibility for all situations they are in, and in the way they act to one another. Reward, punishment, happiness and grief all depend on how individuals live their life. Good transpires for those who do righteous deeds. Those who do evil have themselves to blame for their ruin. Zoroastrian morality is then be summed up in the simple phrase, "good thoughts, good words, good deeds" (Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta in Avestan), for it is through these that asha is maintained and druj is kept in check.

It was Achaemenid era (648–330 BCE) Zoroastrianism that later developed the abstract concepts of heaven, hell, personal and final judgement, all of which are only alluded to in the Gathas.

And this insight into their belief system and customs followed to date..
Inter-faith marriages: As in many other faiths, Zoroastrians are strongly encouraged to marry others of the same faith, but this is not a requirement of the religion itself. Some members of the Indian Zoroastrian community (the Parsis) contend that a child must have a Parsi father to be eligible for introduction into the faith, but this assertion is considered by most to be a violation of the Zoroastrian tenets of gender equality, and may be a remnant of an old legal definition (since overruled) of Parsi. However, to this day, some priests will not perform the Navjote ceremony - i.e. the rites of admission into the religion - for children of mixed-marriages, irrespective of which parent is a non-Parsi. This issue is a matter of great debate within the Parsi community, but with the increasingly global nature of modern society and the dwindling number of Zoroastrians, such opinions are less vociferous than they previously were.




Death and burial: Religious rituals related to death are all concerned with the person's soul and not the body. Zoroastrians believe that on the fourth day after death, the human soul leaves the body and the body remains as an empty shell. Traditionally, Zoroastrians disposed of their dead by leaving them atop open-topped enclosures, called Towers of Silence, or Dokhmas. Vultures and the weather would clean the flesh off the bones, which were then placed into an ossuary at the center of the Tower. Fire and Earth were considered too sacred for the dead to be placed in them. While this practice is continued in India by some Parsis, it had ended by the beginning of the twentieth century in Iran. In India, burial and cremation are becoming increasingly popular alternatives.


Also via Parsi khabar - A very interesting slide show on Zoroastrianism from the New York Times, as an interactive accompaniment to the article - Zoroastrians Keep the Faith, and Keep Dwindling
And this article provides a brief account of the Parsis after the downfall of the Sasanian Empire at the hands of the Arabs and gives possible reasons as to why only those migrants to the West Coast of India have managed to survive while others have disappeared without trace

* Per the Dakhma-nashini is the only method of corpse-destruction: this is the destruction of the dead body in the stone-enclosed Dakhma, by the flesh-eating bird or the rays of the Sun, the most spiritually powerful method as commanded by Ahura Mazda to Zarathushtra. Dakhma-nashini is believed to be hygienic and ecologically-sound, because it prevents the world from being spiritually or materially polluted by decaying dead matter


Related quote but I do not think of it as being reflective in any way of the character of the Parsee community or their customs!



"There is perhaps nothing else so distinctive of the condition and character of a people as the method in which they treat their dead." - William Tegg 1876 (Quote via.)

Hilarious Indian Movie Clips

on September 27, 2006 with 0 comments » | ,

Watch this hilarious video via India Uncut, featuring Dr Rajkumar, the famous Kannada movie star (who died recently, with his fans rioting to mourn his passing!!).

Love me or hate me
Kiss me or kill me
Oh darling, please do something to me
Do roo roo roo roo roo roo roo
Do roo roo roo roo roo roo roo
Do roo roo roo roo roo roo roo

And watch this 2nd video also featuring Rajkumar..equally hilarious.
Eeef you come today
...its too early

Eeef you come tomorrow
... its too late....

....Tick..tick..tick
..a tick..tick..tick
..Tick..tick..tick
..a tick..tick..tick..

If you thought Dr Rajkumar rocked, well, you'll love Balayya (the son of NT Rama Rao.)
- also via Amit Varma's blog, India Uncut.

And more Balayya videos: 1, 2 and Mission Impossible - also via India Uncut

And before you go - see this hilarious video... another Raj Kumar in the making :)

Look who has weaseled his way onto the New York's Post's famous gossip column Page 6 today (hmm...gossip-time... he and RM dont get along, huh!) .... - via

Crime Beat - 1

with 0 comments »

Unbelievable... A Belgian embassy official in Delhi allegedly got involved in an affair with her driver - who later killed her!! Even a Bollywood movie director couldn’t have thought of this... Life is stranger than art!

A Belgian embassy official was brutally murdered on Saturday night at Vasant Vihar, part of Delhi's posh diplomatic enclave. The police have now arrested the suspect, the murdered woman's driver – and are hinting that it was a crime of passion. The Belgian embassy already seems to be distancing itself from the incident. Belgian Embassy Spokesperson Jean Lee Villet says, “She had nothing to do with the embassy. She came here on an official passport and not on a diplomatic one."


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And an old fashioned sex scandal from the UK :)

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Chess World Championship

on September 21, 2006 with 0 comments » |

The World Chess Championship is upon us and

Kramnik vs Topalov are ready to checkmate

After a 13-year split in the game, Vladamir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov will settle the World Championship battle over the chessboard in a 12-game match in Elista, between September 21 and October 13. The rift in the chess world occurred after Garry Kasparov played a title match against Nigel Short in 1993 outside the auspices of FIDE, and the world chess federation organised a separate World championship, which soon became a knock-out event. The Classical chess world champions were Kasparov, first, and then Kramnik; Kasparov beat Short in 1993 and Viswanathan Anand in 1995, but lost to Kramnik in 2000. Kramnik went on to retain his title after a draw against Peter Leko in 2004. The FIDE knock-out World champions were Anatoly Karpov, Alexander Khalifman, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov, in that order.

Apparently this match-up is in the Russian republic of KALMYKIA! I've never heard of the place!! Read more about this country* & its president! (The article also has more details on the split-up mentioned above.)

Chess governing body, FIDE's president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is president of the Republic of Kalmykia. Ilyumzhinov's election platform for the presidency of Kalmykia included a promise of a mobile phone for every shepherd and the affirmation of his belief that he had previously been abducted by aliens.

* KALMYKIA FACTS

  • Republic of Russia
  • Descended from Mongol hordes
  • Mass deportations to Siberia by Stalin
  • Main industry livestock rearing
  • Europe's only Buddhist nation

West African Music

on September 17, 2006 with 0 comments » |

Today, I heard a song called Amy (hear a 1 minute excerpt here from a previous release) by Kante Manfila, a Guinean born guitarist from Mali, on Andy Kershaw's program on BBC Radio (song was on the Sep 10th playlist.. the link is updated every week and so after next week, you will not see the list I heard today.)

The reason to highlight the song is not because I love music from Africa (read my post about Farka Toure's guitar playing) but because the song is part of a new release, 'Various: West Africa Unwired', which is part of the Think Global label from the World Music Network ..

..that combines the ideals of reducing poverty, defending human rights and protecting the environment with superb collections of cutting edge music from around the world. In partnership with Amnesty International and Oxfam, all Think Global releases will use a novel type of packaging – using only 100% recycled card with no plastic tray or plastic jewel case.

For information on music from West Africa, see the following wikipedia links for music from Benin - Burkina Faso - Chad - Côte d'Ivoire - Gambia - Ghana - Guinea - Guinea-BissauLiberia - Mali - Mauritania - Niger - Nigeria - Senegal - Sierra Leone - Togo and Western Sahara.


You can also read, "West Africa's Musical Powerhouse" by Lucy Duran, in Rough Guide to World Music Volume One (Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, James McConnachie, James and Orla Duane (Ed.), pp 539-562, 2000.)


Also see this great video - Gobissa and Child, See the Rider by Markus James.
Enlisting the brilliant support of Hassi Sare (njarka violin, vocals), Solo Sidibe (kamele n'goni, vocals), and Hamma Sankare (calabash, vocals), James creates a beautiful music video about the contrast of life in the dessert and life speeding up in the modern world and how life could be over at anytime. The music video was filmed in the sand dunes and villages in and around Timbuktu, Mali.

I was reading a book - The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 (ed. Dave Eggers, review) - first in a new series started by the Best American series) - and just read a short article by someone called Meenakshi Ganguly called Generation Exile about Tibet and Tibetians in exile in Dharamsala.

Anyways, reason I am writing about it is that I did not know about Tibetians who settled in the south of India. Though with Tibetan influences, Dharamsala it seems has become a commercialized town, like any other in India... I think many thanks also to Western sympathizers and hippies. Anyways, here is the relevant excerpt from the story..am actually typing it out from the book..so just a short one!

With the town's resources taxed to the limit, Dharamsala is becoming a kind of exclusive political resort. The refugee reception center still allows children to settle in Dharamsala, since they are the best hope for a Tibetan future. But the only adult refugees who are allowed to remain are religious officials. Others can visit, but they can't stay. Tourism has brought prosperity - and, perhaps, complacency, - to Dharamsala. Afterall, the city is the Tibetan Babylon, filled with bars, Internet cafes, and curio stalls. ......

....Perhaps you have to go still farther south to find the real Tibet. Many of the earliest Tibetan refugees settled in the south of India, where they live in scattered villages seldom visited by Western spiritual pilgrims. The settlers here still speak Tibetan and wear traditional garb. They have recreated monasteries that were destroyed by the Chinese. The illustrious Sera Monastic University, once the main school for Tibetan monks in Lhasa, has opened again in Bylakuppe, a village in the Indian state of Karnataka. Nearly five thousand monbks are enrolled today, many of them young
boys fresh out of Tibet.

More later..


Narayan Days

on September 16, 2006 with 0 comments » | ,

Celebrating R. K. Narayan, on the occasion of his 100th anniversary is Jhumpa Lahiri* through this article, Narayan Days.


* Read this Jhumpa Lahiri short story in New Yorker magazine from May 2006. An overview of her literature is here. I have enjoyed Lahiri's short stories far more than anything I have read from other Indian-origin authors who reside in the US...only because she did not make a big deal of mixed culturual identities (she writes equally well about both Indian and American personas and a good short story is exactly that - a good story about people!)...or so I thought until I just researched (or to use the right verb, googled) and found articles in the WSJ and Newsweek where Lahiri talks about her hyphenated existence and about the "intense pressure to be at once 'loyal to the old world and fluent in the new.'" Blaah...wonder if the media makes a big deal out of the author's mixed identities across two nations, two cultures, and worst still...the immigrant experience, every time they encounter an author of Indian origin or whether they do so only because Indian authors (Many thanks, Bharati Mukherjee & Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni!!) have made multi-culturism and the immigrant experience their only selling point over the years. Its probably a little of both - a chicken and egg problem of sorts ...


Anyways, back to RK or Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami... who was essentially the first Indian writer in English to become famous outside of India* too. Tagore precedes him but I consider him more a poet than a writer and more of his work was in Bengali than in English. Appropriately, RK Narayan is one of the early chapters in a recent book I read (read only about 60% of it) - Modern South Asian Literature in English by Paul Brians, part of the Series Literature as Windows to World Cultures. (Brians is a Professor of English at Washington State University, Pullman. He also maintains a webpage on Common English errors, has a page on Resources for study of World Civilizations, and The Chernobyl Poems of Lyubov Sirota)




* For example, see:
- Tribute from VS Naipual in Time magazine. (wow..he has a good word to say about someone!!)
- Pankaj Mishra discusses his work in the
New York Review of Books.
- The life of RK Narayan in
California Literary Review
- Obituary in
New York Times
- Paul Brian's
World Literature in English list has a study guide to RK's The Guide

but here is someone (Shashi Tharoor) who is not a fan!

Other Links:
-
Vendor of treats - a tribute to RK Narayan
-
A friend remembers RK.
- Another friend reminisces

Amazing Accidental Abundances - 1

on September 13, 2006 with 0 comments » |

The phrase "Amazing Accidental Abundances" is from "The more angles we choose to view it from, the more its amazing accidenal abundance imposes itself." - John Ashbery, in Introduction to The Best American Poetry, 1988. The above sentence was written with poetry in mind but it could be true for anything..and even life itself!

Anyways, here is a compilation of various fascinating things from around the world..

  1. See this.. Fascinating! A starkly beautiful overhead image of shadows cast by a caravan of camels trekking across desert sands is the work of photographer George Steinmetz
  2. Frozen Cherry Trees -(via)

Remembering 9-11 (BBC)
A plethora of events and tv shows and media coverage for the 5th year 'anniversary'... but I do not have the time (right now) to get into details of the various events being coordinated and the view-points & op-ed pieces being voiced leading up to today!

Just one other thing for now - see this
picture of a sand replica of the World Trade Center on a beach in Puri, India, attracts well-wishers.

(picture 6 in the series is interesting one too .. of the Shan-e-Dastar march in Amritsar, India, promotes the pride of Sikhs in wearing their traditional turbans.)




Some links cut-n-pasted from the above BBC article:

KEY STORIES


HAVE YOUR SAY
BACKGROUND

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES

SABC Five years on, Americans mark 9/11 attacks
MSNBC Americans mark 9/11 five years on
Turkish Press US marks fifth anniversary of September 11 with silent tribute
Peoples Daily Online Amid tears and tributes, fears remain
Manila Times Al-Qaeda still haunts US five years since 9/11 attacks

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

ABC: The Path To 9/11



U.S. marks lives lost and hopeful signs of healing
As loved ones recited the names of the dead at ground zero, America paused to remember a calamitous day.

Revisiting the Families - Getting Past the Pain of 9/11 With Steps, Big and Small

How the world remembers 9/11: an IHT/ZDF multimedia feature


Thoughts from
Hendrik Hertzberg, Roger Angell and the Economist, as well as a conversation on the subject involving Seymour Hersh, Jon Lee Anderson and Geirge Packer.



Transcript of Bush's speech
Bush says safety of U.S. hinges on Iraq

Editorial: President Bush’s Reality

Bush gets a reaming on MSM! nice.. welcome change*! :)

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Bush:
Who has left this hole in the ground? We have not forgotten, Mr. President. You have. May this country forgive you

(* Matt Lauer recent going after Bush recently over his admission of the existence of US-run secret prisons and torture was more an exception than the rule in MSM. Signs that MSM and the common layman are both finally getting tired of the Bush administration shenanigans: Read the comments in this link to an op-ed piece on the most-recent* admission & justification of these secret prisons as a "vital tool" in the war against terrorists (* The Bush administration has previously defended, justified, rejected and "refused to comment"on this issue.)




Meanwhile, what do the politicians start after yesterdays canned rhetoric (with a focus on Iraq and not 9-11!!) and public posturing...

Bitter partisan election-year squabbles engulfed Capitol Hill on Tuesday sparked by President Bush's 9/11 speech Monday night. Democrats charged that the president was playing politics with the memories of 9/11, and Republicans questioned whether Democrats are more interested in protecting terrorists than the country.

oh well... expected behavior some would argue.. for eg., read this excerpt from an interesting article from earlier this week, titled: Politics, the Media and 9/11):

Surveying the political landscape, veteran prognosticator Charlie Cook recently noted, "Unless something very dramatic happens" in the coming weeks, Democrats will reclaim control of the House of Representatives this November as part of an electoral "rout." It's that caveat about something "dramatic" that has Democrats worrying--not because they necessarily fear a terrorist attack on American soil but because they fear another signature terror scare from the Bush Administration.



Also read this DAILYKOS post today..Bush's politicizing of 9/11

The most succinct proof of Bush's politicization of his 9-11 speech, from Boston Globe's DC bureau chief:

It was a political speech. There wasn't a direct attack on his political foes. But there was a dwelling on Iraq. It's interesting, you know, he has not spoken about Iraq on a 9/11 anniversary, except in election years, 2004 and now. Last year, by the way, he just did a moment of silence on 9/11.

Update: More from Froomkin:

What's also telling, as usual, is what Bush didn't say yesterday, and doesn't say, period.
He doesn't say we won't allow ourselves to be terrorized, and we won't be afraid. (That would run counter to the central Republican game plan for the mid-term election.) He doesn't say that in our zeal to fight the terrorists, we won't give up the qualities that make America great. He acknowledges no mistakes, he calls for no sacrifice, he refuses to reach out to those who disagree with him.

They want to be afraid. They need to be afraid. Otherwise, they wouldn't need Papa Bush to keep them safe and warm. Otherwise, they might have to come to terms with the failures of conservative ideology.


I saw signs of this kind of i'm-more-patriotic-than-you games to come up soon leading up to the Nov elections when the Democratic party expressed outrage over ABC-TV's "The Path to 9/11" movie (ABC altered the docudrama under pressure)... and of course kooky Rummy-speak earlier this month* where he was back to spewing his usual nonsense about how unpatriotic it is to criticize Bush and his policies..

Meanwhile, if polls are to be believed, strangely more people blame Bush admin for 9-11 and also Keith Olbermann surges past Paula Zahn in the ratings. Nice.. given the spunk he showed to criticize Bush last night.. (see earlier email below)!

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If you missed this Rummy-speak earlier this month..
* In a speech to the American Legion...where he said stuff like - 'America faces an undifferentiated fascist menace. Bush's critics are appeasers who don't understand the lessons of history who blame America first and hate freedom' and also craptalk of 'success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners.'



I must have missed this story some years back.. did not realize that there was some
amateur footage of the first plane hitting the towers too...

Must have missed this in the plethora of information about 9-11 ...was/am so jaded with all the coverage of that day that I do not want to see any of the various movies and documentaries on 9-11 that have come out in the past year (especially the last 2-3 months leading up to the 5th anniversary). In fact, I have not even bothered to read what the brouhaha over the
9-11 Commission findings was... though I probably should read at least the Executive Summary of the Final Report.


However, because of all the many many many many many many A+ 4/5 star raving reviews , I want to someday see the Brit-made movie, United 93 by Paul Greengrass...

I was reminded of the movie as I read this
gloating review by Jai Arjun Singh... (Jai Arjun also refers to a fine review by Falstaff.) I usually enjoy Jai Arjun's various movie & book reviews - so, when he praises the movie, I think it may be good. In his review, he points out that Ebert says that the movie’s success stems from its deliberate refusal to see The Big Picture. Hmm... I usually have been a proponent of seeing the big picture but from an emotional visceral movie-going experience standpoint, maybe getting involved in the story of those on the plane is critical - forgeting and putting aside the big picture for some time!



And last but not least, while we
remember the 2973 victims of 9-11, let us not forget that the count of American soldiers dead in the Iraq misadventure Bush has led the country using the pretext of 'revenge' for that day is eeriely around the same # today...

Total Fatalities: 2984
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 2,654
Operation Enduring Freedom: 330
(Updated September 11, 2006)

And not to forget those dead soldiers from other countries who have died in these two wars. And yes.. you know I cannot finish the mail without mentioning the 50,000 odd people dead in Iraq due to American bombings.. and an unknown high # in Afghanistan too...(most innocent civilians - NOT collateral damage - how I hate that term!!!) .. try reading out all the names of these people in a ceremony!!

And so, while the people of the US remind us that we should "
never forget" 9-11 (agreed!), I also ask people (through the right column at my blog, which has various links ) to Always (also) Remember!




P.S.

1. And what better day to 'celebrate' the 5th anniversary of 9-11 than
shoot doves with Republicans?

2. Or maybe you buy into the conspiracy theory that
there were no planes!! (haha.. have heard a few different conspiracy theories around 9-11 but this one takes the cake... you saw it but it didn't happen ;))

3.
Objectivity is perhaps in the eye of the beholder, some would argue.. anyways, what its worth here is something to read and ponder or dismiss as a conspiracy theory.

9/11: FIVE YEARS LATER, A TIME FOR TRUTH

An objective examination of increasingly popular Sept. 11 conspiracy theories


In this new series, I am going to highlight a few good blogs that I occasionally read...other than Amit Varma's India Uncut, which I catch up on almost daily.

Today, I bring to you..Jai Arjun Singh's great blog
Jabberwock.

Jai Arjun is from Delhi and, unlike yours truly, writes a blog that lots of people read. The title, Jabberwock, is based on
a poem from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. Just learned that over the years, Jabberwocky has also taken on some other meanings.

I am a great fan of Jai Arjun's reviews, be it of movies or books. For example, only Jai Arjun can come up with something as universal and profound as:

'We feel most self-important in our sadder moments, but step on the outside just briefly and one sees that, viewed from a wider perspective, there’s always something intrinsically funny about the situation.'
in reviewing a movie like Munnabhai MBBS.

I saw the recent Hindi movie,
Omkara - based on Othello after reading Jai Arjun's raving review (others have also reviewed it very favorably too) and I was glad I saw it..

And he
re is a fine example of a review of a book (Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, whom, being a journalist, Jai Arjun actually got the opportunity to interview!)) that I sadly will probably never read despite all the hype* around the book... (I read a lot but do not have the patience for 1200 page tomes!).

* Earlier this year, I had written this in my compilation posts on
Indian subcontinent literature:
The book to look forward to apparently in 2006 is Vikram Chandra's (of Love and Longing in Bombay fame) big (1200 pages - so very big, at least page-wise) epic book Sacred Games. First there was lots of press about the huge advance that Vikram Chandra got for the book, and in January the publicity machine in India was abuzz with interviews and profiles in what seems like every paper. For example, see interviews and profiles in:
The Hindu / The Indian Express / DNA / plus an interview /Economic Times /Mid-Day

And this article listed the book as one of the
36 reasons to wake up to 2006 !!! Wow..now thats hype!! :)
There is a whole lot more of great stuff at his blog... bookmark it and then go read it!

lila azam zanganeh

on September 11, 2006 with 0 comments »




My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes by Lila Azam Zanganeh

http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/lila_azam_zanganeh

http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/iran/zanganla.htm

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/200604/20060414.html

Lila Azam Zanganeh discusses Giorgio Fabre's new book about the relations between Hitler and Mussolini

Lila Azam Zanganeh, in the NYT (Nov. 7, 2004)

- 7 / 22 / 06


War and Peace

on September 7, 2006 with 0 comments » |

or..as Tolstay almost said..."War..what is it good for?" :)

1)
Scorecard for the War on Terror - via BoingBoing

With President Bush today conceding that the CIA ran secret prisons overseas, news that 14 key figures will be transferred from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay, and revised guidelines on detainee torture, now seems a good time to review security expert Bruce Schneier's post, Scorecard from the War on Terror, who writes-
This is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in how the U.S. is prosecuting terrorism. Put aside the rhetoric and the posturing; this is what is actually happening.

2) Slaughter in the Monastery by Jasmina Tesanovic

3)
Arundhati Roy on Peacebuilding - via

The Dropping Knowledge meeting in Germany will be attended by Arundhati Roy, who asks herself what form of resistance is effective and acceptable? The film, available here, is one of many that feed into The Dialog Platform, which is a fascinating look into the management of complex problems, information visualisation, semantic analysis and knowledge harvesting.

(The
wooden table at which participants will sit at is an impressive piece of architecture, while the architectonics of the initiative itself is mind-boggling.)


I heard about the Dropping Knowledge Initiative, on Current TV earlier this week. Sounded like something I'd love to be attending...

dropping knowledge is a global initiative to turn apathy into activity. By hosting an open conversation on the most pressing issues of our times, we will foster a worldwide exchange of viewpoints, ideas and people-powered solutions. However knowledge is defined, by dropping it freely to others, we all gain wisdom
And the
Private Sector Development Blog entry reports on what is supposed to be ..
a global conversation on pressing global issues. The questions are ‘ donated’ and voted on by common laymen from around the world, and answered by ‘visionaries’ who have also been nominated. If interested, go ahead, submit a question today! All the responses will be recorded, translated and made available online. The hope is to challenge conventional thinking and inspire new ideas; and that by “dropping knowledge” all will gain “wisdom.” Will be interesting to see if this works out - at least the site is an neat start. For more see their blog, films, commercials, and ads.