Saturday, February 26, 2011

Of beautiful magazines and ugly people

I should probably create a label called 'magazines' now.

Continuing my love for Lounge a bit further, I loved this week's edition of the magazine. Firstly, it had some nice articles about gaming, of both the online and the board type, by Krish Raghav, whom I ran into at IIT Kanpur recently. The meeting inspired me to read up on European board games like The Settlers of Catan, and a whole new fantastic world opened up for me. It's been a Narnia moment for me, the one where you open a door and discover a whole new unexplored world that you didn't even know existed.

I also liked the article by Aakar Patel. He must be the man whose articles generate the most hate mails for Lounge. He seems to enjoy doing something that I can't describe in English - 'ungli karna', and there can't be a better phrase for it (I think). He loves bursting the bubbles that we Indians of the present time seem to live in and it's always great to find someone who shares my lack of faith in the 'India story'.

There's a lot going great for our country. But Indians are also the most uncultured, crass group of people I can think of. And Patel captures it phenomenally well. Great credit to Lounge for keeping him a part of its even otherwise great portfolio of columnists, including the Mint editor who writes about graphic novels.

The article by Patel this week was about how we Indians are not city builders. In fact, we bring our cities criminally down, including the great ones like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. The name changes are not the worst of it.

This lack of civic sense continues into our daily lives too. I was reading the article after my trip to the local mall. People waiting right in front of the elevator door, breaking queues, not letting the people inside to get out, as if it were a vertical motion version of our Mumbai's local trains. A woman just walking away casually after her child took out several DVDs from the shelf and threw them on the ground at the Crossword store without bothering to place them back or even apologizing to the staff. Just two instances of how uncouth we are.

And the daily assault on my senses as people spit casually and honk madly on the roads is agonizing. I am increasingly beginning to hate being an Indian, or at least appreciate the merits of living within perpetually air-conditioned environs, where one does not have to encounter the real India.

This is a feeling similar to what I have had in relation to Bihar for a long time. I love the state, and feel very comfortable when I am in Bihar (even though I haven't been there since 2004), and it is an integral part of me. But, I can't identify with a lot of the typical cultural elements of the state. I can see what is wrong with the state, even though most of my fellow Biharis can't seem to, and they even revel in perpetuating these problems.

The same is happening with India on a larger scale now. We might be one of the fastest developing economies, but our mindsets are not developing at even a quarter of that rate. We might be the largest democracy, but we are unimaginably inconsiderate of other people's opinions. We might be the land that gave birth to non-violent protest, but we are easily one of the most violent people, looking forward to getting offended for the smallest of things.


As might be clear by now, I am a sucker for great magazines. Am reading this other fantastic entrant into my pantheon. Forbes India has recently come out with their quarterly called Forbes Life India. It must be the most beautiful thing I have held in my hands in the last few months (without any sexual connotations). And the articles match up to the layout. I had been seeing it at bookstores for some time, but the (sterile) cover did not appeal to me at all (even though it has a naked person's picture). Then while waiting for the movie today (I saw Tanu weds Manu, which is really really good), I decided to spend some time at the Crossword store at the mall, flipped a few pages and fell in love. Really looking forward to seeing how the Network 18 guys follow up this class act.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More meat in Brunch now

No one does weeklies quite like the good fellows at HT Media. I have been a big fan of HT's weekend supplement Brunch and Mint's weekend supplement Lounge for a long time.

In fact, I had begun subscribing to HT on moving to Mumbai only because of Brunch, but then discontinued it because it felt wasteful as I wasn't reading the main paper at all.
The column in Brunch I used to look forward to reading the most was Rude Food or its derivative columns by Vir Sanghvi. I get to read that now anyway through the link to the online version he shares every Sunday on his twitter account.

I still do read Mint, which in itself is a brilliant newspaper, and so Lounge finds itself placed on my doormat every Saturday morning, all smiling for me when I open the front-door almost the first thing after waking up.

I was in Kanpur this weekend to conduct a sci-fi quiz at IIT as part of their tech-fest TechKriti, and had resigned myself to the fact that someone would have removed my newspaper by the time I got back Sunday afternoon. And was immensely relieved on reaching my flat and finding that it was still there. There are few things more relaxing than retiring on your couch on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, after a few very hectic days, after a hot shower, with, yes, you guessed it, a mug of chilled Kingfisher beside you.

There was a short trip to Hypercity to do the grocery shopping between that return from Kanpur and retiring on the couch bits. One of the reasons I look forward to going to Hypercity every weekend is the shelves of magazines that greet you on entry into the store. I normally buy the latest edition of Tehelka, which I need to write about some time soon, and a couple of other magazines if anything else looks interesting. It usually doesn't.

But this time around a familiar name stood out from all the other India Todays and Newsweeks and Peoples on the shelves. I was surprised to see a thick edition of Brunch being sold there. Turns out the Brunch team has decided to come out with a glossier and meatier version of Brunch as a quarterly.

The inaugural edition has Karan Johar and Katrina Kaif on the cover, in case you plan to go out looking for it.

I haven't got beyond the first few pages, but the remaining content does look promising. I was slightly disappointed with the printing in the part that I have gone through - there are several words where the letters have been printed one on the other. But, hopefully just teething issues.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ki Ab Kar ja re Bandhu...

A friend's GTalk status inspired me to (talk to him and) go back to the Udaan soundtrack.

Under the effect of some fine wine had earlier in the evening and the rising effect of some Kingfisher Strong had just now, I can't help but wonder if we will have music like this again.

2010's gone, and no film or its music has been more worth experiencing than Udaan.

I would ideally like to end with a nice line from the soundtrack. But one feels so blessed when one can't decide which line to pick.

Mr Motwane and Mr Trivedi, you have a hard act to follow.

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