July 2006

India 's latest long-range missile, the Agni-III, fell, tragically, into the Gulf of Arabia yesterday and was immediately hailed "another feather in the already bulging cap of India's space agency" (by the high octane NDTV News channel). Today's The Hindu newspaper was more circumspect, calling the launch "unsuccessful, due to a design failure" but went on to add that the Agni-III was designed to strike places " far away, like Northern China."
 (I really hope that one day India will win the battle against China, or poetry, and passion and humour as we know it today will surely die a slow death).
 Meanwhile Hindu extremists rage in the streets, burning cars and causing chaos, just as the flood waters part, for a brief respite, in this city of 20,000,000 souls.
 Someone desecrated the bust of the late wife of the leader of the dreaded Shiva Sen, Maharastra's answer to AL-Qaeda. The party's vice-president was on the news last night, inciting the mob, saying things like "Look what the Moslems did when some-one desecrated their prophet".
Only the extremists appear mild-mannered and soft-spoken on Indian T.V.!!! Everyone else is positively barking. Even revered Star Sports commentator Vijay Amitraj, a distant relative of mine, got going when Sania Mirza started spraying forehands wide in the first round of Wimbledon.!!

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 Writer Khushwant Singh has an excellent column in the Deccan Chronicle called "With Malice Towards one and All" (A nice Hindu Dharma -style by line!!)
 In yesterday's column, entitled “The Mahajan Saga", he opened a  can of worms about the Mahajan families ill-gained (??) wealth ("for their offspring to spurge on Champagne and monster lines of coke"). 
 Indian journalistic hyperbole is rather like retirement village medical talk, where people only have "massive strokes."
 The political party of the murdered leader came in for a serving too:

 "The BJP assumes the role of defender of  Hindu Dharma," he wrote. "Its leaders are up in arms about anyone they perceive as denigrating their faith. Party  heavyweight Sushma Swaraj periodically flies off the handle and threatens to cut off her long hair, dashes to Tamil Nadu to defend a top Brahmin priest without bothering to find out that he had been charged with murder and improper behaviour towards women."
"As for young Rahul Mahajan," he continues, "carrying his father's ashes for immersion in the Brahmaputra, then celebrating the occasion with champagne and cocaine....the less said the better!!!!
 You tell 'em Khushwant!!!!

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Last night I was chatting  poolside with the G.M. of a smart Mumbai hotel – as the staff were energetically setting up the outdoor screen so we could watch the start of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles  final 15 minutes into the first set – when the restaurant manager came over. The manager noticed that the TV monitor under the projector tables wine – coloured velvet valance was bleeding white noise – a cricket match – onto the pool deck itself bathed in gorgeous late afternoon light.
 It was getting hard to continue kvetching with the G M about the rusting of the Mogul-a-go-go bell lamp collars on the pergola.

 Summing up the situation with one glance, the restaurant manager strode over to the projector table, pushed his head under the valance, and turned up the volume on the cricket match, to the relief of seven very drunk Bangalore based I.T. groovers with goatees, across the pool. The groovers had been screaming expletives, homeboy style, all afternoon, as they steadily filled their mini pot-bellies and ashtrays around the family dining zone. To my horror one  computer whizz  suddenly did a pike dive into the 4' deep pool and came up with a broken nose.

"THAT’S SUICIDAL," I SCREAMED TO HIS FRIENDS.

 "In life you take your chances," they replied, in chorus, echoing some Dell computer training manual.


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