Monday, July 04, 2005

Fade out

Companies do this regularly, they chop off side businesses and focus on core competencies. Even I'd done it once before, but I suppose I didn't learn from the experience. It was back in college when I was a in a band, heavily involved in cultural activities and had a hectic social life too. I had to cut something out - and after a lot of thought, I quit the band, as I did not have the drive to become a really good guitarist.
Now, 6 years on, it's happened again. Straddling too many worlds, I find I cannot devote a 100 percent to everything I've taken on. Cannot be good at work, read books, watch movies, work out, and devote time to the three blogs that I currently run. So I've decided to stay off blogging for a while. I will continue to discuss issues in the Indian tv news industry in jumpcutindia, because that's close to what I do for a living and is linked to my future plans. And the third blog? Well, I'm an anonymous voice there.

See you again in the future though! Those wishing to contact me, can simply leave a comment.

Monday, June 27, 2005


A couple of months back, I bought Ashok Banker's Prince of Ayodhya - and not because I especially love the Ramayana (yes, Banker's writing it all over again!). It's because I remember his Bombay novel Vertigo, as a particularly enjoyable read. Shortly after buying it though, a friend told me Banker's not a highly-rated writer. And that thought must have clouded my mind (being of the impressionable kind), because I still haven't started Prince...

Not anymore! Thanks to Amit Verma of Indian Uncut I got to read Banker's interview. It's on Sonia Faleiro's blog (these links, I say!). Even if you don't want to read Banker, read the interview. Here's an excerpt to get you going (again thanks to Verma):

"I don't think I'm a very talented writer, but I have passion. What I lack in stylistic or linguistic dexterity, and sheer artistry, I make up for with fecundity, fire and feel."

If you have the time after that, try Banker's blog.

Friday, June 24, 2005

From sport to playin’ the game

It’s been 2 ½ years and great fun. But I’ve decided to move away from sports journalism, for a while atleast. I now get to do politics and ‘general’ news, and that could mean getting down and getting my nose dirty. For, political journalism means that I will have to really hunt for stories, or soundbites whatever the case may be.

Obviously sports is really something else – as a sports journo you easily get to see people stretching their limits beyond belief. You see athletes pick themselves up after defeat and moving on. You see what goes behind their preparation. It has, and can be an unbelievably uplifting experience. And it is pure. That is what I will miss most.

So even you’re not really interested, I leave you with my top 5 moments:

Agassi beats Roddick at the Cincinnati Masters (2004)
Tennis has now got to be my favourite game. And there was nothing better than seeing an old and rusty master handing out a beating to the young turk. Andy Roddick swore and served raspingly, but Agassi pulled off searing returns and made the young ‘un run till he lost steam.

Portugal beat England (Euro 2004)
It was the height of football fever at work. And we slaved by day, and cheered ourselves hoarse during the nights. It all sort of coalesced into this one match, where England took on Portugal in the quarterfinals of the tournament. There were goals, and more goals and finally a penalty shootout. And there were about 20 of us, packed in one small room. A few of us were staunch supporters, and a few like me, shifted sides. Rip-roaring fun.

Athens 2004 Olympics
If Euro 2004 was hard work Athens 2004 was insanely gruelling. It was really my first time as Anchor (though I’d been doing our daily sports bulletin by then). What I remember most – apart from the Olympics that is, is the camaraderie our team shared. We were without two key members but gawd, did we turn on the heat.

ICC Champions trophy, England 2004
Well this was special, because it was my first time OUT of the country and the first ODI tournament I covered. What I felt during those 18-odd days is contained in an older post.

Australia beat the crap out of India at home (2004)
This series was an education. I learnt how to really read the game just by watching, while traveling with the team. We trawled through Bangalore, Chennai, Nagpur and Mumbai looking for interviews and watching sessions of play. And interviewing Shane Warne repeatedly (and when he broke the world record) was special.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

These taggers I tell you...

They’re swarming all over the place, and Sayoni has now inflicted it upon me. So here goes -

Number of books I own: Anywhere between 150 - 600. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I can’t get more specific, as they are spread between Bangalore, Bombay and Delhi.

Last book I bought/read: The Golden Compass (more famously known as Northern Lights). This novel by Philip Pullman is Part 1 of the “His dark materials” trilogy. Am currently reading the second part (borrowed) called The Subtle Knife. It’s fantasy, and exciting stuff.

5 books that mean a lot to me:

Education of a wandering man by Louis L’amour – the great granddaddy of western novels. In the course of his life he was a prizefighter, elephant handler, lumberjack, miner, soldier, seaman and of course, a writer.

Lord of the Rings trilogy – my cousin gifted it to me in 9th standard (age 13) but it took me two attempts to proceed beyond a 100 pages. I managed it in 11th standard and from then on, was hooked. It still remains a powerful influence.

Dirk Gently series – they said the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series was ultimate, but for me the real magic of Douglas Adams’ writing is in the two-part misadventures of Dirk Gently.

The adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Tom Sawyer was a role model, need I say more?

Psmith series by P G Wodehouse – I love all Wodehouses, but the ultimate favourite is neither Bertie nor Uncle Fred – it’s our gentle comrade!

And the relay goes on…now I nominate these two:

Black Muddy River

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Back in Bangalore

 Posted by Hello

The flight attendant speaks in Kannada as well, and I begin to enjoy my flight to Bangalore in this low-cost airline. Even some of the people in the airplane seem to be speaking in my language. That's nice, because Kannada is a fast-fading tongue in my city. Okay, it isn't exactly fading, but people from other states are fast overwhelming the original 'local' population. But that's a different story...for now I've already reached Bangalore airport and I see for the first time, ads on the conveyer belt. Looks like every inch of this city is sold.

This time I resolve not to take a taxi home, but I let the friendly auto driver con me. I agree to pay 170 rupees, although I know the going rate is more like 85 bucks. I'm a fool, but he is - you guessed it - speaking Kannada, and my heart melts. Typically, he's Tamilian, but speaks Telugu as well.

The words come slowly at first: after all my Kannada has atrophied from disuse, but soon they begin to tumble out. In a day or two, the same old inflections will be back, I know. On the way home, I see people working on half-completed bridges raising clouds of dust and vehicles belching out smoke. And yet, through all this a pleasant wind is blowing.
Those bastards! How long can the city take this?

I call my mom, and tell her I'll be home in 20 minutes. I also lay down my bet: the new colour of our house is gray and white, I wager. But upon reaching, I find out it is more a tone of yellow. Ah well, it looks nicer than before.

I'm home I suppose.

Monday, June 06, 2005

And now, for A-Rod

So Rafael Nadal did win the French Open, and by doing so, won me a bet as well. And now my money's on Andy Roddick for Wimbledon. Just a hunch - not many give him a chance anyway. Read this.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Love for Tokyo

Isn't it a bit eerie that three of my favourite films have Tokyo in it? Lost in Translation and Kill Bill Vol 1, I'd already seen. But what really blew my mind was Tokyo Story.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


It's been two extremes for me in the world of sport recently. Liverpool did the impossible by snatching victory from certain defeat in last night's thriller - the stage being the Champions League final (Europe's top club football tournament) against A C Milan in Istanbul. It was quite easily the best football match I've even seen. Liverpool three goals down in the first half, quickly found their feet to equalise with three stunning goals. That led to the penalty shootout, which the English club won.
Simon Barnes, Chief Sports Writer of The Times writes about it evocatively here.

And the other extreme was watching Andre Agassi sink further into inevitable retirement. His painful exit from the French Open thanks to an inflammed sciatic nerve reminded me of World Class, which is a must-read for any tennis fan. Agassi has been a favourite and it's getting difficult for me to face the fact that he doesn't have the speed, stamina, and now the body to compete professionally. I suppose Agassi is beginning to swallow the pill himself.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Quite Keane

We all buy the music we do for different reasons. Traditionally, I buy only on recommendation. But I do understand there are brave people who buy music off the shelves on impulse or thanks to curiousity. My latest acquisition falls in this category. Keane's Hopes and Fears sounded like a boy band with an inane album title to boot, but I still went ahead and bought it, because I read somewhere that it was doing brisk business (not the best of reasons to buy music), and that is was well, quite good. (Ah, so it WAS a recommendation that spurred me on!)

One thing which struck me as interesting is that Keane is a 3-member band, with NO guitar. The last and only time, I've listened to a band without possibly the most popular instrument in the world was way back in Bangalore, when Criminalenglish introduced me to Morphine, a band with drums, bass guitar and a saxophone. Keane is not quite so exotic or dark, but their simple three chord progressions (or what passes for it, in a band with no guitar) makes it easy to listen to, and I suspect the music isn't that easy to replicate. Hopes and Fears though is very much for a particular mood - in turns, I felt nostalgic for no reason, wistful without cause and sweetly alienated. Such can be the power of a band. The songs did blur into one another, without any number standing out. But what I did appreciate a lot are the stretches of silence between songs, which is an underrated courtesy to the listener, and not to be found in many albums.

I've a feeling Keane will grow on me, but it's more for the lyrics than anything else. I leave you with words from a song you just might have heard - Somewhere Only We Know.

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete
Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

The rest of the lyrics for the album can be accessed here. My favourite news site's reviewer however, thinks the "radio-friendly simplicity of the lyrics grates". Maybe I just liked singer Tom Chaplin's style!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wickets and the Windies

It's eerie. I've only watched the West Indies playing at home twice in the last year. The last time was during England's tour. And a short while after I tuned in, Steve Harmison ran through the batsmen, getting four wickets in two overs.

And yesterday when I thought I'd catch the Windies hopefully win, it was Charles Langeveldt who smoked the Windies batsman out - this time with a last over hattrick.

And to think the West Indies were once my favourite team. I even used to proudly support them over India.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Beeb

BBC World's coverage of the UK elections was truly stunning, from a tv professional's point of view, that is. Their use of gfx, especially when counting began, had me lusting for more. After the exit polls were released, all the arithmetic was done with the help of a large virtual 3D studio. That meant the presenter could 'walk' from one bar graph to another, 'move down' corridors in the Parliament and so on. It connected with me immediately, and didn't even have the decency to look gaudy! It's a pity that our channels don't have the budgets to mount something as good. Doordarshan could do it, I'm sure, but it will probably take it 10 years, if ever.

For long, the BBC has been the world's best tv news network, and that's because it's funded by the government, and because it's been headed by a succession of true-blue journalists. Alas, even 'aunty' as the BBC has been called before, is cutting costs. Read this.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

World Wide Weblogs

Like the proverbial frog in the well, I'm now discovering a brand new world. In January 2004, when I started blogging, I thought I was a frontiersman, like a Sackett in the wild west or something. And now, thanks to Chandrasutra, who pointed me there, I've discovered that there was a weblog at about the same time I was boasting of being one of the 'first' to get an email id! (late 1998-early '99) Read Rebecca's Pocket's article on weblogs: a history and perspective. It's an eye-opener. Apparently were just 23 blogs sometime in 1999. The article goes on to explain the blog's evolution from a basic device to link, to a personal journal. It also reminded me why I took to blogging in the first place - to polish my writing skills, to ventilate my thoughts and of course to be part of this cool online community!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sting Operations

Yet another sting operation. There's something vaguely disquieting about the way tv journalism in India is headed. Why so? After all, footage of cops accepting bribes on hidden camera cannot be a bad thing; we're only exposing the rot in our society. I suppose the danger is in letting the whole thing go too far when such stories are used to further the channels own interests, like for example the -Shakti Kapoor episode.

Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Want to blog but don't know where to begin? Of course, there is a bewildering array of jargon that you will encounter on the way to establishing your own corner on the web, but here's a link that will tell what the Ten Commandments (?!!) of blogging are. Instapundit, a blogging sage pointed me there. Incidentally, it was India Uncut, who pointed me to Instapundit in the first place! So if you have the time, just check his blog out as well, it's cooo.

Needless to say, I will be tinkering with the templates of cosmicdebris now. There's a fair bit for slightly advanced bloggers as well.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Breathless Godard

A lot of you who love cinema would have heard of Jean-Luc Godard. About 4 years back I too was taken up by the magic in his groundbreaking film A Bout de Souffle (or Breathless). Since then, I've just caught one other film of his (don't know the name), and I can't say I understood much of what I saw. Still, Godard remains a gem to me, much like the filmmakers of the 1960s.

The reason I bring this up, is that Godard recently gave a rare interview, in which he says Cinema is over. I believe that as well - the 21st century is more about technology and interactive entertainment than the good old 2-D world of celluloid (and well, digital cameras) that we're used to.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I've been drinking a lot of water these days. But that apart, nothing seems to have changed much. Yes I don't feel like writing much, but that's just a phase like any other. I've also been travelling a fair bit, and tonight me and the other inhabitants of z 22 head off to the hills of Uttaranchal to find some peace and quiet.
Full update when I get back.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Discovering Delhi II

India and Pakistan are still slugging it out on the cricket field, but I'm back in Delhi. Took three days off before getting back onto the desk, but there was no R & R for me. Rest Day 1 saw me and flatmate bike down to Gurgaon amidst chaotic Delhi traffic on some of the best roads I've been on. On Rest Day 2 I trekked all across Connaught Place till heavy breathing interfered with my general feeling of well-being. And yesterday, me and another flatmate went off on another of those Discover Delhi jaunts. We loped along to the Safdarjung Tomb, and spent a couple of hours walking in Lodhi Gardens. It was pleasant enough although we did stumble over the odd couple making out here and there.

The more I think of leaving Delhi, the more reasons I find to stick around!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Simple, sublime.

Indian philosophy decrees that one can achieve Moksha, or salvation through 4 ways: Bhakti Yoga (through devotion), Raja Yoga (through control of the body), Gnana Yoga (through knowledge) and Karma Yoga (through perfection in the workplace). Watching Sachin Tendulkar bat, you can't help the feeling that he's already qualified for a business class ticket to heaven in the Karma Yoga quota. If he so desires, that is.

Yes, he missed out on a world-record 35th test century, and fell 27 runs short of reaching the 10,000 run mark in the first Indo-Pak test in Mohali. But his 94 was as impressive a knock I've seen from his blade.

It's been well established by now that though Sachin doesn't carve up bowling sides like he used to, he still accumulates runs as effectively as ever before. The last year-and-a-half may have seen the unveiling of the New Sachin, but it's something that hasn't yet been absorbed by the public. Sachin in Mohali started off pugnaciously, but his run collecting soon dwindled into just poaching the occassional ones and twos. And it was while he was dot-balling deliveries after deliveries that I thought about the salvation bit. His run making isn't austere, but he looks every bit a saint these days, calmly piling up runs after assessing the situation.

It's deeply satisfying to watch him in this phase, just as it was thrilling to see him lay into the bowling during the bulk of his career.

Sachin Tendulkar

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dharamshala cricket

Exactly a year after I came to Dharamshala for the very first time to cover cricket, I've been sent back - for the same reason.
Only this time, the general hysteria has gotten even louder - Pakistan begin their tour of India in this little known hill station/HQ of the Dalai Lama. And though the rain gods haven't been kind so far, the people here will get to see their sometimes hated (and sometimes loved) neighbours from beyond the mountatins in action for some time atleast.

As for me, I'm not exactly the most gruntled person around for two reasons:

1. Covering cricket for a tv channel has got to be the only job in the world that looks as cool as it is bad. You work all day and pester the cricketers for that all important soundbite. And at the end of the day, you feel lousy about the whole deal.

2. What am I doing covering cricket in Dharamshala when I can go to the Tibetean temple, trek through the Dauladhar mountains and generally have a good time?

I'm going to close my eyes and do this on autopilot. The job doesn't need brains anyway!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Discovering Delhi

I've been going off on jaunts along the history-infested bylanes of Delhi with my flatmates. (It's been two years and the only places I've seen here is the Red Fort, Jantar Mantar and Chandni Chowk). Here's what we did last week:

National Rail Museum - it's places like these that really tell you what India could have been like in the 1930's or early 1900's. There's cutlery dating from 75 years back, sofas upholstered in the old style and even the commodes are revelation! There's also a fair bit of information on how the Indian rail network came to be. And of course, there are the trains. India's first steam engine, last steam engine, and personal coaches belonging to various Rajahs. All immaculately preserved - which in India means - lots of dust, cobwebs, rats, a few pepsi cans and some discarded chocolate wrappers.
The toy train was worth it too...

Great Indian Rock - okay this isn't exactly history, and it was more like the Great Indian Ruckus. Most of the bands were either trying to sound like Metallica, Obituary or Limp Bizkit in their own compostions or playing covers. The good bits were John Myung of Dream Theater fame playing his bass and the Norwegian band 'WE' with their heavy grinding groove and a frontman who spoke in heavily accented English.

Mughal Gardens - a part of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, this garden is only open to the public in February and March every year. It was a fairly instructive experience. I actually got to see these actually look like - Damask Rose, Pansy, Daisy, Lily, and Lemon Grass. Found out that the very English sounding herb Basil is actually Tulsi and got to take home a Brahmi plant.

For this week, the plan is to visit Humayun's Tomb, Coronation Park and would you believe it, the Delhi Zoo. Let's see how long we can keep this up.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Just trying some template changes...pray this works.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Chow chow baat

Just like criminalenglish, I've been throwing my all into cooking (including the kitchen sink). But in my case, this new found affliction is just a month old. I've tried my hand at rasam (moderately successful), chapatis (modestly successful), rice and dal. And I've managed not to poison anyone so far.

My last off-day (Friday) saw me measure distances in Connaught Place the kunda way. From KG Marg to M block is just one bag of popcorn away. M block to A block takes one vanilla ice cream cup. McDonalds is just one Chocolate truffle pastry away. And munching on a small bag of french fries takes you all the way to the auto stand.

By a curious coincidence, today's the day I start jogging.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

'Owning' a breaking story

Senior journalists, who've covered just about everything, are often prone to having sudden flashbacks. Whenever that glazed look comes over their eyes, you can almost see that anecdote coming to life..

And in the course of such reminiscences, some of them talk about 'breaking stories'. Atleast twice in my short career, I've been waylaid by some boss who told me the importance of 'owning' a story. That is, you break it first, and then pull out all stops to ensure every aspect of that issue has been brought out. And of course, it has to be a story your rival channel/newspaper hasn't bothered to highlight.

Today we had a chance to to do something like that - Narain Karthikeyan announced that we would finally be getting to drive a Formula one car this season. A colleague of mine had figured out that something like this was happening and we had our coverage plan ready, right down to hourly breakdown through the day.
But the system had to cock up - an overhead broadcasting van wasn't at the press conference when Narain announced the news, BECAUSE someone higher-up had decided the story wasn't worth it. And of course we missed it, only to see our rival channel splash it all across their channel.
After 24 hours of preparing backgrounders, stings and a whole production/broadcast plan - we'd been pipped to the post.

I was of course furious - we'd been beaten at our own game. We'd missed the chequered flag, were last to breast the tape and so on. But I don't suppose our audiences noticed anything...

Isn't there supposed to be a lesson somewhere in all this?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Horror! The Horror!

In which I get to bellyache a bit...

Workday today was completely messed up. I made the rundown, (the order of news stories strategically placed that is linked to what goes on air) but forgot to fix the Headlines. This was thanks to the epic and very interesting Aus Open quarterfinal Lleyton Hewitt-David Nalbandian match. So that meant my colleagues had to scurry around at the last minute to repair the damage, while I was getting ready to go on air. (They very kindly didn't make noises when I was within earshot). Then, I chewed on a few sentences and spat them out the wrong way while anchoring. Then the teleprompter (that nice little machine that lets you read the news, while you appear clever and intelligent) packed up while I was on air. And since I hadn't bothered to check the scripts before, I had NO idea what the story was all about. That meant I tried to bluster my way through saying something like, "oh, we've lost the script, but don't worry we haven't lost the plot". That's quite cool, isn't it, but apparently I said without the right emphasis or expression on my face.
Finally, while closing the bulletin, I ended by asking them to watch out for a bulletin at 11:30 pm, when we'd changed the timings ourselves two weeks back. I did get a few sympathetic nods, but not many because all of the above was MY FAULT.

Am I losing it or what. I don't even know why this happened. Maybe it's just a temporary blip, but maybe it's more than that...
Watch this space.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bloggers beware!

It was waiting to happen and it did. Joe Gordon, who worked at Waterstone's, a bookstore chain was sacked for saying bad things about his boss - on his blog.

Here's the article that says it all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


What we'd like to be:
journal'istic, adj. (from 'journal', qv)
Possessing the qualities journalists most profess to like. Bright and readable.
Racy, yet reliable. Altogether admirable.

What we actually are:
'Flashy, inclined to cut corners both in terms of work and of strict accuracy.
Lacking in substance. Totally unreliable'

John Simpson's book News From No Man's Land: Reporting the World is turning out to be a delightful read and a learning experience. More to follow...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The blogs I read

Soon it will be 1 year since I first started blogging. And I thought it would be appropriate if I spoke about my favourite places on the web. My daily regimen on the Net these days is - check mail, check blogs. And I've come to realise that the best writing in these blogs doesn't necessarily come from people who can spell words decently.

1. Criminalenglish - Live!

Well this blog belongs to JP, an old friend from Bangalore. He's probably the best wordsmith I personally know, and criminalenglish has loads of stuff on SF, Fantasy and of course random ramblings.

2. Belle de jour pointed me to this one - the writing's great. There's a book deal happening too, and belle seems to be back after a longish break.

3. Scorpy23

Okay this 23 year old DOESN'T write very well. But he sounds a bit like Adrian Mole. It helps that I know him personally too...

4. Psychosis

Psychosis is food for your id. But she's off blogging for now. And she's even deleted her blog because it got a little too controversial.

5. Karmic_Discord and Bellweather Cat

These are two different people on two different blogs. The only reason I clubbed them together is due to their fondness for verse. And my fondness for their musings.

6. Paperpuli

The frontman of Thermal and a Quarter (probably one of India's finest bands) occasionally talks about life and the photographs he takes.

7. Opinionator

Psychosis thinks Opinionator is the cleverest fella she knows. Also known as the Speculator and simply 'Milk' he expounds upon life, when he's not playing agent provocateur. What do you think?

8. Mothball and Just breathe...

These two once-upon a time classmates like to write about life and working in a 24 hour tv channel. One lives in Delhi and the other in Bangalore.