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Volume 1 | Issue 15 | November 22, 2012 | Rs 10

the intelligent bangalorean’s must-read weekly


WINNER Anisha Sridhar now lives in New York

A story about the dark, desperate world of a Bangalore junkie wins ANISHA SRIDHAR the first prize in the Talk short fiction contest 16-17

CRIME What the Raksha Urs scam says about Mysore 6

SELF-IMMOLATIONS Bangalore Tibetans on the new wave of protests in Lhasa 9

MOVIES Interviews with KM Chaitanya and Wilbur Sargunaraj 13,18

ADVENTURE Bandit Veerappan in the eyes of hostages Krupakar and Senani 20

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talk|22 nov 2012|

team talk


Not every day that we come across a gentle soul like Bhanu Prakash E S Very sad to read about the sudden demise of Talk Senior Reporter E S Bhanu Prakash (Goodbye Bhanu, Issue 14). Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and his dear friends. Bharathi and Prathap Bangalore Saddened Sad to hear about the demise of Bhanu Prakash. And what a nice smile in the photo! Never knew him, but it feels true that the good die young, reading this. Rosamma Thomas via Facebook Touching tribute Your tribute to Bhanu Prakash was touching. It is not everyday that we come across such a gentle soul. K R Balasubramanyam Srinagar

Sharp mind Rest in peace, Bhanu Prakash. I didn’t know him personally, but going by his work, he seemed to have a very sharp pen and mind. It is sad to lose such a brilliant and smart journalist. Mohira Sulaymanova via Facebook (Read Bhanu Prakash’s interview with film director K M Chaitanya on page 13. —Ed) Naipaul debate Talk covered the Girish KarnadNaipaul debate well. At a time when critical analysis is rare in the media, the coverage was welcome. N Manu Chakravarthy was rightly critical of Naipaul. His article was well-informed, easy to read and insightful. Typically, Naipaul’s views are taken as the truth because he is a Nobel laureate, and people would not want to argue with him. It is heartening that Karnad differed,

and Talk published an articulate piece on the controversy. Sumathi N Bangalore Needs more bulk While Talk is lively and breezy, it needs to acquire a bulkier presence. Try and bring in more content into the magazine. There is also scope for the magazine’s variety to be improved. You could even consider enhancing the size and look of the magazine. In my view, these factors put together would lend more seriousness to the publication. Vasudev V Banashankari Write on food As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Talk’s food-related writing that appeared in the early issues, I must remind you to publish more along those lines. Meera N Whitefield What do you think of this edition? Write to



S R Ramakrishna Editor Sridhar Chari Consulting Editor Prashanth G N Senior Editor Sajai Jose Chief Copy Editor Savie Karnel Principal Correspondent Basu Megalkeri Principal Correspondent Bhanu Prakash E S Senior Reporter Prachi Sibal Senior Features Writer Sandra Fernandes and Maria Laveena Reporters and Copy Editors Anand Kumar K Chief of Design Shridhar G Kulkarni Graphic Designer Ramesh Hunsur Senior Photographer Vivek Arun Graphics Artist

Sumith Kombra Founder, CEO and Publisher Ralph Fernandez Manager - Marketing Aaron Jones Asst Manager - Marketing Abhay Sebastian Asst Manager - Sales Aman Preet Singh Asst Manager - Sales Mithun Sudhakar Asst Manager - Sales Kishore Kumar N Head - Circulation Vinayadathan K V Area Manager - Trade Yadhu Kalyani Sr Executive - Corporate Sales Lokesh K N Sr Executive - Subscriptions Prabhavathi Executive - Circulation Sowmya Kombra Asst Process Manager

Printed and published by Sumith Kombra on behalf of Shakthi Media Ventures India Pvt Ltd - FF70, Gold Towers, Residency Road, Bangalore -560025 and printed at Lavanya Mudranalaya, Chamarajpet, Bangalore-560018. Editor: SR Ramakrishna. Editorial Office: FF70, Gold Towers, Residency Road, Bangalore -560025 Email: Phone: 08049332100, 08040926658. © All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited.


first person

talk|22 nov 2012| RAMESH HUNSUR

Chothmal Goenka, the 96-year-old Burmese Marwari now settled in Bangalore, recalls the Burma that existed before the militarycommunist junta destroyed it. He hopes Aung San Suu Kyi will realise her father’s dream of democracy

‘Just like her father, perhaps a little tougher’ PRASHANTH GN

Andhra Pradesh.) Born in Mandalay, the original capital of Burma, Chothmal Goenka has lived through much of ung San Suu Kyi, the icon- modern Burmese history. “It would ic Burmese pro-democra- be wonderful to meet Suu Kyi. We cy leader and Chairman of don’t know if security will permit the National League for that. But I do know she will recogDemocracy (NLD) in Burma, has an nise the social work that Marwaris, particularly the Goenka family, unusual well-wisher in Bangalore. Chothmal Goenka (96), who have undertaken in Burma,” has had the privilege of seeing her Goenka said. Goenka’s father Aung Sang, family, like many was born in Burma ‘May God give other Marwari in 1918, and moved families, made it to Bangalore in her the strength to Burma in the 1974. Here, he is to free the 1880s. “My great known to many as people of Burma’ grandfather, Ram the founder of a Niranjan Das, was ‘Vipassana meditathe first from our family to go to tion’ centre. On the eve of Suu Kyi’s visit to Burma. He walked from Rajasthan Bangalore, Goenka told Talk: “Aung and took a bullock cart ride, a long San initiated the democracy move- way to Kanpur, from where he took ment, it’s for Suu Kyi now to com- a train to Calcutta. He boarded a plete it. Aung San was noble, highly steamer and made his way to learned and committed. Suu Kyi is Mandalay in Burma. That was 125 also like that. Perhaps she’s a little years ago.” But why would a businessman go so far to earn and live tougher.” (As we go to print, Suu Kyi, when India offered enough opporalready in India, is set to visit Indian tunities? “Business prospects were very Institute of Science and Infosys in Bangalore, and parts of rural good in Burma when compared to


FAMILY LEGACY Aung San Suu Kyi next to a portrait of her father, Burmese freedom fighter Aung San

even places in north India. Burma was rich in resources, which attracted people. Burma was part of British-administered India. My great grandfather saw opportunities to trade in textiles and set up factories and retail and wholesale shops, as cotton was in abundance. The trade went off well as he imported textile material directly from England. As he became successful, he had his family go to Burma. This was how the entire Goenka family took roots in Burma,” says Goenka. Chothmal Goenka studied up to class six in a Marwari school near Mandalay. At 14, in 1932, he discontinued studies, got into business, and eventually got married. The time from 1880s to 1942 was good for Burma. “There was nothing you could not find in Burma. It was so rich,” he recalls. But in 1942, 10 years after Goenka got into business, disaster struck the region in the form of World War II. Japan invaded Burma and aerially bombed it from end to end. Japan was approaching northeastern India and had already taken parts of southern China. “We ran for our lives, literally.

editor talk Talk is now 15 weeks old. Before we launched, we sat around wondering what should go into the weekly, and what shouldn’t. Collective wisdom suggests Bollywood and cricket can garner a quick readership. But then, we asked ourselves, why would a reader want to read Bollywood and cricket in every newspaper and magazine? Weren’t readers bored of formula fare? What about people out there whose interests were wider? What had happened to the philosophy that good writing, above all else, delights the reader? It was in the course of these conversations that we decided to run a short fiction contest. Savie Karnel, our principal correspondent, took upon herself the responsibility of promoting the contest on social media and interacting with the authors. She didn’t know then that she would have to deal with a big avalanche of entries! We received over a hundred stories, in a day and age when English-language magazines and newspapers have given up on fiction. We were overjoyed at the response, not just because there were so many fiction writers around, but also because it confirmed our hunch that magazine readers were creative and discerning, and wouldn’t grumble about Talk not doing the routine stuff. We had asked for stories set in Bangalore. Once the entries were in, we took them to novelist C K Meena. She writes with insight and passion about Bangalore, both in her fiction and her column in The Hindu. She has picked the stories of Anisha Sridhar, Manisha Lakhe and Siddhartha Lal as the best among several well-crafted entries. I congratulate the winners, and thank Meena and all the authors who responded to our invitation. SR Ramakrishna


first person We packed whatever we could and with our staff started off for the Indian border, part of a lakh-plus exodus. I remember we dumped 10 silver bars and many silver coins into a well before we left. We shut the shops and factories. We lost all that we had built over 50 years,” he recalls. The Goenka family took nearly two months to reach India after the Japanese invasion. He recalls the adventurous and harrowing journey: “Nearly 100 of us left in one group. This is a journey I’ve remembered all my life. We took a train from Mandalay to Manewa, and then a bus from Manewa to Kalewa. We crossed a river by boat and took bullock carts. We also walked through the jungles. We would walk between 4.30 am and 8.30 am, and 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm, to beat the sun. We slept in wooden houses along the way. Our food was rice and aloo pieces with salt and chilli sprinklings. There were no other vegetables. At some places, we had to halt several days before proceeding. By the time we reached what is today’s Indian border, it was running a month and more. Then came the arduous journey through Nagaland and Assam to reach West Bengal. From there we eventually made it to Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, from where we originally come. It was two months by the time we reached home.”

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BURMA VETERAN Goenka’s family of traders first reached Burma in the 1880s

For the next four years, till 1946, the Goenkas and other Indian-origin people from Burma stayed in India. The Japanese held Burma between 1942 and 1945. But towards the end of 1945, the Japanese began to withdraw, after allied forces made a strong headway. The Goenkas returned to Burma to start the textile business all over again. It was around 1946-47 that Goenka got a taste of Aung San’s rule. Suu Kyi’s father had already built the Burma Independence Army seeking self-rule, and by start of 1947 was in government. “I had seen him. He was a very learned and committed man,” says Goenka. Aung San was

the man who crafted the first agreement with British rulers over formation of an independent union of Burma. “The time between 1946 and 1962 was Burma’s golden period,” says Goenka. “Burma was so rich it would export 40 lakh tonnes of rice to India. India was so poor that in Calcutta I would see children running after leftovers. Rice would go waste in Burmese hotels. Cotton blossomed. What wasn’t available?” In January 1948, Burma secured independence and ran its economy vibrantly for 14 years. But between 1962 and 1974, it plunged into depression and poverty. “The military took over and socialist rule was


imposed. All establishments were nationalised. The military rulers also fixed a tax for farmers well above their cost of production. They reasoned it was time for farmers to pay, as they had earned a good deal so far. Agriculture and farming crashed. Paddy went to zero. Vegetables disappeared. Starvation reared its head. I am witness to Burma’s richness and plenty, and poverty and starvation. Communism destroyed the creative spirit,” says Goenka. Goenka’s two sons meanwhile had come to India to study. Communist rule barred people from returning, and dashed their hopes of joining their parents. “My wife missed her children. Naturally, we had to come back to India. I came to Bangalore as that’s where my children were, and more importantly, I had heard Karnataka people were very warm and welcoming. I decided to shift base to Bangalore in 1974,” says Goenka. His most important take away from Burma was the Vipassana meditation technique. “I learnt it while in Burma. I would meditate morning and evening. I continue that meditation even today,” says Goenka. What is his message for Suu Kyi? “May God and nature give her the strength and resolve to free the people of Burma. I already see she has come far, it’s only some distance away now.”

political diary

talk|22 nov 2012|


Dumbstruck Parameshwar SM Krishna has returned to state politics. Fellow Congressmen Siddaramaiah, Mallikarjuna Kharge and Shamanur Shivashankarappa aren’t exactly jumping with joy. Everyone knows that. But KPCC G Parameshwar President G Parameshwar, who was thrilled with Krishna's return, is now struggling with developments he hadn’t bargained for.

Bharatiya Jagala Party There's so much cloak and dagger among the MLAs and ministers that everyone is keeping an eye on everyone else BASU MEGALKERI Just as Talk had predicted, BS Yeddyurappa’s party, the Karnataka Janata Party, is coming into existence (on December 9) and is busy appointing office-bearers. Arun Jaitley has returned to Delhi, unable to convince Yeddyurappa to stay in the party. The BJP is now so divided and shaky that leaders suspect each other, and they are showing it openly. Take this example: Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani is said to be close to Yeddyurappa. Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje, a member of Yeddyurappa's A team, was cut up with Nirani because he did not receive her call the other day. She cut him short when he tried to explain. “Remember who trusted you

and gave you the industries portfolio,” she said, sharply. Nirani hasn’t ditched Yeddyurappa, but his act of not picking up Shobha’s call was enough for her to suspect him of treachery. Yeddyurappa is silent, and that has given Shobha licence to pull up her senior colleagues. Second incident: Co-operation Minister BJ Puttaswamy ran into Housing Minister V Somanna in the Vidhana Soudha lobby. “Have you forgotten Yeddyurappa's house?” Puttaswamy taunted him. This was enough for Somanna. He screamed at Puttaswamy to mind his business. Law Minister Suresh Kumar, seated between the two, pacified them, saying, “Shhh…. the TV guys are around.” Somanna switched to the Yeddyurappa camp by playing the Lingayat card. To get into the good books of his new leader, he introduced to him Puttaswamy, a bitter critic of the Deve Gowda family. Now Puttaswamy has become a minister and one of Yeddyurappa’s chief lieutenants. To show his loyalty, he went to the extreme

of chiding his friend Somanna. When Somanna hit back, Puttaswamy had no choice but to shut up. The very next day, two ministers came to blows in the Vidhana Soudha lobby. A third minister intervened and calmed them down.

Anita Kumaraswamy

Pooja Gandhi, for those who came in late, is the leading

Left with no choice, Parameshwar is trying to show he is a leader to reckon with: he jumps at even the smallest opportunity to lead a protest or rally. Is the Dalit leader now scared Vokkaliga leaders will leave him with no foothold in the party?

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has given additional portfolios to Balachandra Jarkiholi, who, though in the BJP, acts at the behest of JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy. Excise Minister Renukacharya, who knows all about it, abused Jarkiholi just before a cabinet meeting. Jarkiholi didn't stay quiet. Renukacharya, also known as Nurse Renuka after an infamous romp with a nurse, is also going around saying nasty things about Higher Education Minister CT Ravi and former chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda. In Mysore, Dhananjaya Kumar took on Medical Education Minister Ramadas. “You had once fallen at the feet of Yeddyurappa to become a minister, but are now going against him,” Dhananjaya Kumar said. The party with a difference is now truly a party with differences.

Man proposes, wife disposes What’s this mystery? The gossip is that Kumaraswamy brought movie star Pooja Gandhi to the JD(S), but he has been careful not to be associated with her in any way. He has not turned up on the same platform as her at party events.

Parameshwar had been dreaming of leading the Congress with no big leader to contest his authority. But with the entry of Krishna, DK Shivakumar, RV Deshpande, RV Devaraj and BL Shankar have started asserting themselves, pushing him to a corner.

lady of the super-duper Kannada hit Mungaaru Male. She recently essayed the role of a ruthless killer in the film Dandupalya.

from her. He said the party wasn’t so desperate that it would field Pooja to draw people. “I’m the crowdpuller,”" he said, proudly.

When a political rival called her the ‘queen of Dandupalya’, and the JD(S) a party of thugs, Kumaraswamy was again quick to distance himself

But the movie star continues in the party. How? They say Kumaraswamy’s wife Anita stands behind Pooja like a rock. Now, can anyone explain this to us, please?

A huge family party Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda has once again proclaimed this is his last election. As if to cash in on this goodbye sentiment, the JD(S) is all set to field many members of his family. The names of HD Kumaraswamy (Ramanagara), Anita Kumaraswamy (Channapatna), DC Tammanna (Maddur), HD Revanna (Holenarsipura), Bhavani Revanna (Belur), Deve Gowda’s son-in-law DR Manjunath’s brother Balakrishna (Channarayapatna) have already been finalised. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Gowda and Revanna's son Prajwal Gowda, besides Deve Gowda's last son Dr Ramesh, might also make a debut this season, say sources. So, if all goes well for the party, at least 10 MLAs from the same family will sit in the Vidhana Soudha, and that is sure be a record of sorts. This is going to be one hell of a family party!

changing times

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The ‘culture city’ syndrome Raksha Urs, jailed earlier this week for her involvement in a Rs 500-crore investment scandal, hails from Mysore. Her life mirrors the frustrations of a generation that would rather be in Bangalore

ysore is famous as a city of culture. Outsiders say it is ‘beautiful’, and pray it remain that way. But separated from hyperactive Bangalore by just a three-hour drive, Mysore, for its younger generation, is a city of the dead. On weekends, young Mysoreans head for Bangalore to enjoy the good Hangal University for Music and life, while affluent Bangaloreans drive Performing Arts, JSS University, and a down to Mysore, looking for serenity, host of engineering and medical coland a good place to drink. The ele- leges that produce professionals year phants and the forests aren’t too far, after year. Infosys founder N R in case the Bangaloreans are up to Narayana Murthy hails from this city, and still has a house here. more excitement. The Mall of Mysore near the As news broke of Mysorean girl Raksha Urs being involved in a Rs Race Course is huge, but the other 500-crore scandal, a prominent Urs malls can’t just match up to the conasked, “Really? Was she from Mysore? sumerist dreams of young Mysoreans. Never heard of her!” The Urs commu- Bangalore and beyond is where their nity is related to the princely heart is. Those educated in good Wadiyars, and thereby to the Mysore schools and colleges leave Mysore for palace. Congress leader Devaraj Urs, good. They come back occasionally, who served as chief minister in the wearing Bermudas, sporting ‘I Love 1970s, remains the community’s most NY’ T-shirts, and wondering if Shamala Bakery, near the district famous son in recent memory. court, still sells the With her same bread, butter Maharastrian husHer supporters and jam. To their band Ullas Khaire, surprise, it does. Raksha started many admire her for The prices surprise companies, includ‘exposing’ the them ever more. It’s ing one called Stock system as though time has Guru India, and stood still in this swindled investors across several Indian cities. The cou- city. Those unable to leave Mysore ple travelled from city to city, changsuffer silently. Ask a boy, any boy, if ing their names. The well-knit Urs community is he knows any property up for sale, spread across Bangalore and Mysore, and chances are you won’t be disapwith its numbers not exceeding pointed. Real estate has turned into 20,000. The ‘Urs’ title comes with its the lifeline for this city’s youth. People from other cities are putting own weight (or baggage). In fact, you could see Mysore as money into flats, with a view of the an extended university campus. The palace, or Chamundi Hills, or someWadiyars started the University of times, incredibly, the KRS Dam (It’s Mysore nearly a hundred years ago. not within sight from Mysore, but The city also houses the Karnataka marketers will be marketers). Mysore slows down the desires State Open University, Gangubai


EYE SORE Despite ‘attractions’ like the Mall of Mysore, young people visit Bangalore during weekends

Preethi Nagaraj Freelance journalist and theatre person based in Mysore

of young people. So, suddenly, when a Raksha Urs happens, it can’t stop talking. She has supporters who marvel at her skills in ‘exposing’ the system. A 30-year-old asked: “What wrong did she do? She just used the greed of people to make a quick buck!” Mysore was the capital of a large princely state, but today, it offers nirvana only to foreigners. They book cheap homestays, learn yoga, and hire local boys to run errands. The boys know where they can get the cheapest ganja! What is happening in Mysore is happening in a slightly different way in Hampi. The erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagara empire is now in ruins, but reminds visitors of the most glorious days of Karnataka, and India. Children here speak at least five languages: English, Kannada, Hindi, French, and Lambani. Schools are empty during the tourist season, with the children bustling about at the tourist hotspots. I once met a boy called Sidda who didn’t know how to read or write, but could speak fluent French and Italian, thanks to foreigners who have made Hampi their home. School didn’t hold much attraction for him, but he knew his math well. At 14 years, he was convinced he shouldn’t ‘waste’ his time at school, especially on days when tourists flocked Hampi Bazaar, the main street in the northern Karnataka city. “I make about Rs 2,000 a day

Who’s Raksha?

Raksha Urs (30) was born in Mysore. Her mother ran a college canteen. Raksha wasn’t good at academics, and a bit of whiner. She took up photography at the well-known Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA). She worked at an event management company for some time, and then found a job with a private insurance firm. Around this time, she met Ullas Khaire, son of a liquor shop owner in Nagpur. They were married in 2005. They got into the business of promising big returns and luring customers to invest money. They had opened 94 accounts in 20 banks, using 13 fake names. during the season. Why waste time learning something that makes no difference to my life?” he asked. Sidda’s aim is to grow up, marry a beautiful foreigner, and settle in Hampi, as his uncles and aunts have done. His future, he told me grandly, is “inscribed on the rocks” of this once beautiful city.

reading india

talk|22 nov 2012|


A regressive journey VS Naipaul started out as a rationalist but later began to see value in the Hindutva ideology. Here’s another perspective on the Karnad-Naipaul controversy, highlighted in Talk last week t a literary festival organised recently by the Tata Group in Mumbai, Girish Karnad, the theatre celebrity and secular activist, attacked the festival’s organisers for giving a Lifetime Achievement Award to the writer VS Naipaul. He said Naipaul had a communal attitude and did not deserve the award. Some people objected to Karnad attacking Naipaul on this occasion, saying he could have spared his remarks for some other occasion. Karnad defended himself saying his conscience could not accept it and there could not have been a better occasion than one that awarded Naipaul. Being a Nobel laureate, Naipaul does have celebrity status, but that does not mean he is beyond criticism, literary or otherwise. As a secular activist myself, I agree with Girish that the iron must be struck when it is hot; he chose the right moment to attack Naipaul’s views. Though Naipaul grew up with Muslims around him in Trinidad, and was rationalist to start with, he has a very distorted view of Islam on one hand, and of medieval Indian history on the other. It seems he has swallowed the RSS version of Islam and Indian history uncritically, so a journey that began with rationalism has ended with a Hindutva ideology. In the early 1970s, Naipual had written a book on India called An Area of Darkness which severely criticised superstitious beliefs and practices in India. This book was burnt by members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (which later became the BJP) at Flora Fountain in Mumbai. They must have burnt it in other parts of India. I remember reading about it in the Mumbai newspapers. However, I was surprised when I later read his full page interview in


Asghar Ali Engineer Reformist-writer on Islam and activist against communalism

RIGHT TURN Karnad (top right) accuses Naipaul of ‘virulence against Indian Islam’

The Times of India justifying the Ram Upanishads, and its vulgarisation by Janmabhoomi movement on the Hindutva forces to serve their politigrounds that it was a question of cal ambitions. Soon, Naipaul began to national pride and that Muslim rulers display what Girish Karnad called had demolished many temples and so “virulence against Indian Islam.” Now, the question arises. Can it was a symbolic redressal of the grievances Hindus have against we call Naipaul—who has such a Muslims in this country. If I remem- jaundiced view of Indian Islam and ber correctly, the interview was con- Muslims—a great thinker and writer? ducted by another icon of Hindutva, Of course, there cannot be a simple answer. I think it is a grey area when Arun Shourie. it comes to a writer As a young litlike Naipaul. No térateur, Naipaul Sir Vidia’s doubt, he is gifted was critical of the with literary talent. superstitions in ambition Karnad himself Indian society. But overrides his recognises this when he acquired greatness when he says, “He is status as a writer and certainly among the began to get prizes, he craved recognition from those great English writers of our generawho projected themselves as champi- tion.” But such gifted and talented ons of the Hindu religion, and hence writers can and do go astray when began to take pride in Hindutva. He dealing with subjects that involve failed to distinguish between Hindu other religions, races and ethnicities, religion and philosophy as found in especially when there is a sense of the high tradition of Hinduism repre- rivalry between two of them. And Naipaul is not above such sented by Vedanta and the

prejudices. That is why it is important to distinguish between a good and talented writer and a great writer. It is only a great writer who rises above all prejudices and assesses even his or her opponent fairly and does not write merely to fulfill his ambition. And Naipaul’s ambition overrides his greatness, if any. He reveals himself to be a man with feet of clay. His understanding of Indian history, particularly of the period when Muslim dynasties ruled, is highly distorted and stigmatised. Of course, he is not a historian. But one does not have to be a qualified historian—particularly when it’s a writer like Naipaul—to represent certain historical events, provided one is fair and unprejudiced. A great writer has to rise even above ideological prejudices and take a critical view of his or her own inclinations; Naipaul certainly fails in this aspect. In Urdu literature, poets and writers like Ghalib, Iqbal and Manto came to be accepted as great poets and writers precisely because they boldly took a very critical view of their own religious, social and historical traditions, and rose above all prejudices. Similarly Raja Rammohan Roy, Tagore, Gandhi and others were unhesitatingly accepted as great thinkers and writers. Their inherited prejudices did not sweep them off their feet. Sometimes, people evolve and correct themselves if they have gone wrong in an earlier phase of their life. But in the case of Naipaul, his journey as a writer and thinker has been one more of regression than evolution. He began to write as a rationalist and, like Raja Rammohan Roy or Tagore, was highly critical of inherited traditions. But after having established himself, he began to aspire for status and recognition as a conservative Hindu and displayed his prejudices in

reading india his book India: A Wounded Civilisation. The very title of the book suggests that Hindu civilisation was hurt and insulted and destroyed by Muslims. Naipaul takes great pride in the Vijayanagar kingdom as a bastion of Hindu culture which was destroyed by marauding Muslims, as Girish puts it. But then he gets this interpretation of Vijayanagar history, in the words of Karnad, “readymade from a book by Robert Sewell called A Forgotten Empire, published in 1900.” Girish further comments and rightly so, “Naipaul, as always in awe of his colonial sources, simply accepts this picture as the unadorned truth and recycles it as his own.” I once visited the Vijayanagar ruins with a Brahmin friend (who was committed to secularism). We came across a guide who was taking around some tourists. The guide pointed out to them some broken idols (with missing hands, noses, and eyes) and told them that all this was done by Muslims who destroyed the Vijayanagar empire. When my friend heard this, he gave the guide a piece of his mind for misguiding tourists and explained to them why the idols were damaged. Our British masters had distorted our history to divide us, and if Naipaul accepts their version as truth, one can see the poverty of his thought. Any communal ide-

talk|22 nov 2012|

ACCLAIM? The Nobel Prize is a doubtful marker of greatness: Tagore got one, but Gandhi didn’t

ology not only lacks depth, but also lacks truth. It is based more on falsehood and distortion of facts. A creative writer, and much more a great writer, engages in the quest for truth. Naipaul not only fails to engage in the quest for truth, but also accepts falsehood because of his Hindu communal ideology. Moreover, a great writer has a vision of the future. He portrays society not only as it exists, but also as it ought to exist: more humane and causing no suffering to humanity. Whereas, a communal ideology is based on distorted values and hatred of others. While a creative writer’s main spir-

itual asset is love, a communalist dispenses nothing but hatred. Sir Vidia sought personal greatness, whereas a great thinker seeks society’s greatness, even at his own cost. Great thinkers and visionaries are much ahead of their time—they value the future more than the past, though they accept from the past what is great. Greatness is not sought through a false notion of history; rather, it is history which confers greatness on a real thinker and writer. Surprisingly, some people argue, Naipaul married a Pakistani Muslim woman, so how can he be a Hindu com-


munalist? This is a strange argument indeed. In our patriarchal society, even a common man without any achievements dominates his wife. So, how is it possible that a writer with many achievements like Naipaul, including knighthood and the Nobel Prize, be in awe of his wife? There is also the fact that there are many Muslim women in Pakistan—and I know some of them—who are oppressed by Muslim society, and begin to curse Islam and everything Islamic. So, Naipaul’s wife being a Pakistani Muslim hardly proves anything. One has to judge his arguments or the contents of his writings on their own merit, not on the basis of the religion of his wife. How unfortunate that Sir Vidya went to the BJP office to seek blessings from LK Advani after he was conferred the Nobel! Whether Naipaul deserved the Nobel or not, it was for the Nobel committee to decide. However, a mere conferment of the Nobel cannot guarantee a person’s greatness. At best, it may indicate his talent for creative writing. In any case, the Nobel is given for many reasons, including political ones. For instance, Tagore was given the Nobel, whereas Mahatma Gandhi was ignored. Does the Mahatma become a lesser person because of that? He was greater than Tagore for his contribution to India in its anti-imperialist struggle.

tibet echoes

talk|22 nov 2012|


Why Lhasa is burning Since the beginning of this year, 69 Tibetan teenagers have set themselves on fire to demand freedom from the Chinese. In Bangalore, Tibetans are distressed by the details trickling in from their homeland


ver the last two weeks, five teenage Tibetan monks have set themselves on fire in their homeland, protesting against Chinese rule. Since the beginning of this year, 69 monks have similarly immolated themselves. That is cause for much worry and concern in Bangalore, capital of a state with India’s largest number of Tibetan refugees. The cry for a free Tibet, as

O YEARNING FOR FREEDOM Young Tibetans hold a memorial for monks who immolated themselves

opposed to mere autonomy under Chinese rule, is getting louder among young Tibetans. The Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual head of the Tibetan community, is inclined to autonomy, but younger Tibetans, both in Tibet and elsewhere, are returning to their demand for freedom. Says Lobsang Tseten, a young Tibetan student of mass communication in Bangalore: “The Tibetan government in exile in Dharmshala believes autonomy is what is realistic. Younger Tibetans don’t disagree with this vision, but want to move one step forward — from autonomy to freedom.” Thousands of Tibetans escaped to India in the late 1950s, following murderous attacks from the communist Chinese on their monasteries. The Indian government gave them refugee status, and allowed them to settle in designated areas within India. Karnataka, with four settlements, has the largest Tibetan population in India — about 50,000 of a total 1 to 1.2 lakh. The Tibet ‘govern-

ment in exile’ is headquartered at Lobsang says the Dalai Lama understands the concerns of younger Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. Saurabh Kumar, retired ambas- Tibetans even though he takes a sador, foreign policy analyst and visit- slightly different view for the coming professor at the National Institute munity. “The Dalai Lama is aware of the of Advanced Studies in Bangalore (NIAS), says India has to reassess the activities of organisations like Students for Free Tibet and their Tibet situation. “It is time to sit up and take note demand for a free Tibet, and takes much effort to disof the Tibetans’ descuss what is possible. peration. China has ‘We are with While we can have to be told what the Dalai Lama, ideological differexactly Tibetans feel. ences, we still conThere has to be a though we sider him our frank assessment by desire to move supreme spiritual India in the context from autonomy leader. We are with of improving Indiato freedom’ the Dalai Lama, China relations,” he though we desire to told Talk. For Tibetans in Bangalore, the move from autonomy to freedom,” self-immolations — which China Lobsang says. Tenzin Tsundue, Tibetan alleges are abetted by the Dalai Lama and other monks living in India — are activist and poet in his late thirties, is among those who isn’t satisfied with a sign of the desperation there. How does the Dalai Lama view autonomy. Well known for his 2005 this growing feeling among younger protest at the Indian Institute of Tibetans? The spiritual leader could Science, against the then visiting not be contacted by Talk for this Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, story, as he was away in Japan. Tsundue tells Talk he is aware he has

tibet echoes to balance his personal vision with that of the community. “I am for a free Tibet, but I understand the approach of the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama. The self-immolations have brought urgency to the Tibetan movement and everybody is anxious. There is now a firmness among younger Tibetans about what they want,” says Tsundue. Tsundue attributes the new ‘firmness’ to the self-immolations. “Monks aged just 14, Tenzin Tsundue Dr Jampa Yonten 15, 16 are dying. It can only mean conditions Achoe has seen fleets of trucks transin Tibet are getting desperate, that everyday life is more restricted than ever before. We porting wood from Tibet to China, and sushere in India enjoy freedom, but the youth in pects that Beijing will begin mining and then control water supply. Tibet are agitated.” The hospitals are expensive. Parents Achoe N N (24), president of the Regional Tibet Youth Congress, came to need influence to get their children into the India in 2002 and is now doing a course in new schools, which have more Han Chinese nursing. She sees a picture of oppression in than Tibetans. Everything is loaded in favour of the Han Chinese migrating to Tibet from her homeland. Chinese, and not Tibetan, is taught in other regions of China. Independent analysts like Saurabh schools. Tibetan monks are not allowed to stay in monasteries. Earlier, more than 200 Kumar, the NIAS professor quoted earlier, monks would stay at a time, now the number was also concerned that the Tibetans are not allowed to practise their trais restricted by the Chinese ditions. “The self-immolaauthorities. Tibetans are tions speak of China’s “Many monks are now attempt to crush Tibetan being forced to return to essentially culture and absorb it into the their families and homes. fighting an dominant Han Chinese culThe Chinese authorities are enveloping ture,” he says. forcing Tibetans to buy tickChinese culture In 1951, China ets to enter monasteries. promised autonomy to Entry to the Lhasa monastery is ticketed, and that is unprece- Tibetans under an agreement, which it has dented in Tibetan history. And they treat the not honoured. “China is not being humane. monastery like an office, negating the aura of Tibetans are essentially fighting an enveloping Chinese culture that does not guarantee a temple,” he explains. The presence of the army and the police survival of Tibetan society and culture,” on the streets of Tibet creates fear. They deal observes Kumar. Dr Jampa Yonten, well-known Tibetan harshly with any action they don’t like. “It is true that China has built good medical practitioner in Bangalore, believes roads, hospitals and schools in certain pock- the situation is bordering on hopelessness: ets of Tibet. The roads are meant primarily to “The Dalai Lama has said violence is not the transport resources from Tibet to China. means to any goal. Left with no option, young Tibetans are sacrificing their own Tibet is rich in ore and wood,” he says.

talk|22 nov 2012|


Tsundue’s daring protest at IISc On April 10, 2005, when Chinese premier Wen Jiabao was interacting with top scientists on the ground floor of the Indian Institute of Science, Tenzin Tsundue, then a 30-year-old Tibetan activist, waved a ‘Free Tibet’ banner from the tower of the same building. Braving security, he had climbed a storm water pipe to reach the top of the imposing building the previous night. “I slept on the slanting roof till 2.30 am and started climbing the tower, a hollow structure with wrought iron spiral stairs. By 3.30 am, I had reached a narrow balcony at the top, where I lay for the next 11 hours,” he recalls. “I thought I would be arrested in a few moments, but I got a full 15 minutes to deliver speeches in both English and Hindi, before policemen came up

and bashed me up. Seeing that I was unarmed, the Commissioner asked the policemen to stop beating me. I was not there to harm anyone. I just had to stand up for the freedom of my country. My job was done,” he says.

India and the Tibet question Although India has been supportive of the Tibet cause, it is guided by geopolitical compulsions, and often accepts the Chinese point of view. A 2003 joint declaration signed by then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart stated: “The Indian side recognizes that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of the territory of the People's Republic of China and reiterates that it does not allow Tibetans to engage in antiChina political activities in India.” It looked like India had finally sold Tibet down the river. But the Indian government maintains its policy towards Tibet has not

LITTLE TIBET The Golden Temple inside the Namdroling Monastery at the Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement near Mysore. The monastery is home to nearly 3,000 monks

changed substantively. This is true enough in the letter, if not in spirit (see box on Vajpayee). The 2003 statement goes on to say, “The Chinese side expresses its appreciation for the Indian position and reiterates that it is firmly opposed to any attempt and action aimed at splitting China and bringing about independence of Tibet.” Tibetans in India understand India wouldn't want to antagonise its giant neighbour China. The Dalai Lama, in recent years, says autonomy is what he is looking for, and not complete independence from China.

tibet echoes lives for freedom.” Tibetans in India are worried about what is going on in their homeland, but also understand that the situation may be worse than they can imagine. “We are free here in India, so we can’t judge,” says Yonten. Talking about the immolations, the Dalai Lama told NBC News: “Whether they are right or wrong is very difficult to judge. The people are expressing in a non-violent way regarding Chinese policy. I consider myself a free spokesman of the Tibetan people, not their boss. My boss is the six million people living in Tibet. I am in a free country, quite comfortable. They must be passing through desperate situations. It is they who take these decisions. So it’s very difficult to judge. But yes, it’s very sad.” Tibetans in Bangalore are sending out messages to their people not to give up. Says Lobsang, “Most of those killing themselves are from the rural areas, which constitute nearly 70 per cent of Tibet. The Tibetan cities mostly have Han Chinese now.”

Tibetan refugees in Karnataka want to go home some day, but their world has changed. One of them who has lived here for a decade, says: “We have our livelihoods here, and don’t know what lies in store there.” Technically, Tibetans here have neither Chinese nor Indian citizenship. In 1960, the then Government of Mysore allotted 3200 acres of land at Bylakuppe in Mysore district and the first ever Tibetan exile settlement came into existence in 1961. This was followed by three more— near Hunsur (Hassan district), Kollegal (Chamarajanagar district), and in Mundgod in Uttara Kannada district. Tibetan refugees also live in Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kolkata and Delhi. Tibetans who live in Bylakuppe earn a living from farming, and run carpet, furniture and gift stores. “We don’t know whether in our lifetime we will see freedom, but the youngsters believe their goal is freedom. Probably it’ll happen in their lifetime,” said an elderly Tibetan settled in Bylakuppe.

talk|22 nov 2012|


A friend of Tibet, and a reluctant ally of China When Atal Behari Vajpayee expressed India's support for an autonomous (not independent) Tibet in a joint declaration with China in 2003, it looked like a contradiction of his earlier sentiments. In a broad sense, the 2003 statement,which accepts and reiterates almost all of China’s positions, indicated India's drift towards China, away from Tibet: His speech in the Lok Sabha on May 8, 1959: “My submission is that when we accepted the sovereignty of China on Tibet we made a big mistake. That day was a very unfortunate day. But the mistake has been made… Not only did China break the agreement with Tibet, but they also violated the agreement with India which was in the background of this agreement. (Vajpayee was referring to the Chinese suppression of Tibetan religious rights). …We don’t want to interfere in the internal affairs of Tibet. But Tibet is not an internal affair of China. China is bound to respect the autonomy of Tibet, to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Tibet. But this agreement was broken and I believe that now India, the Indian government, should revise

COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP The Dalai Lama with former PM Vajpayee

its position. Agreements have two sides, they are to be respected by both sides. If China violated the agreement, we have the right to reconsider our situation. What is the reason for the people of Tibet to be deprived of their freedom?”


talk|22 nov 2012|


Deal with post-festival woes Weight gain, loan pile-up… let the experts help you deal with troubles that follow binging


ow that a whole month of festivities has gone by, it’s time for you to deal with the many post-celebration woes that follow. Another round of merrymaking awaits you in December. Talk spoke to experts from various fields to help you get your life back in control in time for the next festive overload. Easily the most worrisome of all such troubles is health, thanks to the many forms of festive food, pollution and noise that can have an adverse effect on it, especially for higher risk individuals like heart patients. Dr Sudarshan, associate consultant and cardiac surgeon at Fortis, tells us that heart attacks are more common around


festivals like Diwali. “The heavy noise step towards improved health is to is a risk factor. It is important to go make an active effort to try and ‘detox into a de-stress zone immediately your mind’ from visions of all the after a festival has passed. Cutting sweets and goodies that you’ve had down on calories and getting back to during the festive season,” she says. Next in line after diet control is an exercise regime is of utmost importance,” he says. Besides a com- the task of getting back to your fitplete relaxation period, he advises ness regimen. Days of fun and gorghealth check-ups right after the festi- ing on rich food can let the lethargy val. “We advice meditation and yoga creep in even on those who otherwise stick to their exercise regimen. for patients, too,” he adds. Fitness expert Wanitha Ashok During the festive season, for complains, “People most people there’s haven’t turned up for hardly a day that It is important some of my classes goes by without the even today. They lose unintentional binge to ‘detox your track of days and or the midnight mind’ from dates. Festivals bring sweet or oily snack. visions of festive a lot of mismanageWhile the temporary goodies ment of calories with results may quite them, so detoxing is border around euphoria, getting your body back in essential.” She believes the easiest way to good shape is no easy thing. Dietician Shweta Uchil-Purohit leave the festival after-effects behind says while there is no magic potion to is to hit the gym earnestly. “Working reverse the ill-effects of festive bing- out will take care of the calories. ing, eating a healthy balanced diet When you sweat it out, toxins are along with regular exercise will defi- removed. Cardio is a great way to get nitely help. “The idea is to initially back in shape. For those who are give a well-deserved rest to the body’s more lethargic, walking is good too as digestive system by eating foods that long as you don’t skip it,” she told Talk. are easy to digest,” she says. For her, the other big fitness In her view, there’s greater mental effort required than physical, concern besides diet is disruption of when it comes to making up for the the body rhythm that results from festival binges. “Festive food late night gambling sessions. “Alarms tends to be high not need to be set back and you should just in terms of fat head to bed early. Plenty of fruits and and sugar but vegetables will help flush toxins out. also in terms of Green tea and lots of water, warm c h o l e s t e r o l and flavoured with mint, ginger or and salt. But jeera, helps too,” she says. Once the health worries are the first addressed, there is the spectre of money management to deal with, thanks to gifting sprees and noholds-barred shopping binges. Many people often find themselves forced to push purchase or nonfestive shopping plans pushed by a few months, if not more, because their usual

Post-festive diet

Here is what dietician Shweta Uchil-Purohit recommends: On rising: Green/herbal tea with lime Breakfast: Idlis with sambar/ Muesli with skimmed milk Mid-m morning: Fruit or sprouts salad Lunch: Phulkas, semi-polished rice with sabzi, dal, curd and salad Evening: Tea with a fruit bowl Dinner: Tomato soup, cucumber chutney sandwich (Whole wheat bread with no butter or cheese), curd Bedtime: Fresh fruit Be sure to stick to small portion sizes, get your eight hours of sleep and exercise regularly! reserves have been depleted. We approached Shyam Sunder, Managing Director, Peak Alpha Investment Services and independent financial advisor, to simplify it for us. “Post-festival, people fall in to three different categories—those who don’t get affected, those who have exhausted all cushion money and those who have loans and credit card debts. For the second category, renewing cushion money should be the priority. For those in the third and the most difficult category, debts should be systematically paid back, starting with the ones that have the highest interest rate,” he says. Credit card debts, he adds, are the worst and should be avoided by everyone, regardless of financial capacity.


talk|22 nov 2012|


Comic break

After crime (Aa Dinagalu) and action (Suryakanti), director KM Chaitanya is now exploring slapstick with Paraari


M Chaitanya, director of the hit gangster drama Aa Dinagalu, is now making Paraari, a romantic comedy. He hails from a family of academics and holds a master’s degree in English literature from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. His father K Marulasiddappa taught drama at Bangalore University, and his grandfather G S Shivarudrappa, who has received some of India’s highest literary honours, is a poet. His mother Jayanthi designs clothes and costumes for theatre productions. On a drive back from a hectic day of shooting, he chatted with Talk about his directorial journey:

K FUN TAKE Chaitanya (top right) on location for his third film, a romantic comedy titled Paraari. The film features mostly fresh talent

You are attempting a comedy for the first time. What genres fascinate you? I grew up watching classics in all languages. I have always loved slapstick comedies. My debut film Aa Dinagalu

dealt with the mafia, and Suryakanti was an action romance. Paraari can be classified as a slapstick comedy. I’d love to take the next step with a psychological thriller. Which directors inspire you? I have always loved Italian film makers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Quentin Tarantino. Among Indian film makers I love Ram Gopal Verma, Mani Ratnam and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. In Kannada, Girish Karnad and Girish Kasaravalli are my all-time favourites. The creativity in their movies will live for centuries.

ing a beautiful film with no expiry go for Vicky Donor, directed by Shoojit Sircar. I just loved it. Kannada date. films have cost and subject constraints. Bangalore shows films in many languages. Can Kannada films be proHow is Paraari progressing? moted in neighbouring states? In my first two Why not? My debut films, I concentratmovie Aa Dinagalu ‘Every director ed on minute details was screened in Delhi should know the while shooting and two theatres in action. But in Mumbai. Cinema also secret of making Paraari, the whole involves business a beautiful film unit is busy playing strategies. If all things that has no pranks on debutant come together, who expiry date’ Shrunga and his cocan stop Kannada actor Shravanth. movies? If you think local halls are showing too many The team is young, but we have expemovies in other languages, it is time rienced technicians. Producer Sumith our producers spoke to the script Kombra couldn’t stop laughing when he came to the sets. writers there.

What place do you see for Kannada cinema in a multicultural city like Bangalore? Deliver quality and good taste. And then see why our films can’t take on Yours is a literary family. How do films in other languages. Every direc- your father (K Marulasiddappa) and tor should know the secret of produc- grandfather (G S Shivarudrappa) react to your movie life? I haven’t attempted writing stuff you could call literature. Occasionally, I scribbled some stuff to amuse myself. The writings of my father and grandfather have influenced me since my childhood. They would hand over classic books to me and I often got hooked to them. You can definitely see their influence in the scripting of my movies. My family has been a great support.

You shot Suryakanti in exotic locations: Uzbekistan, Goa and Belgaum, and you had a maestro like Ilaiyaraja scoring the music. Why do you think the film failed at the box office? I have thought about it. Maybe if I had replaced Chetan, who plays the lead, with Puneeth Rajkumar, the box office response might have been different. We gave it our best. I think the story called for a super hero.

So what is different about Paraari? It is a youth entertainer written by Mohan. At college, he and I used to do plays and vie for prizes. It has many elements, including suspense. I Which recent film made you think would say it is a complete package you wish you had done it? That’s a tough one. Let me choose. I’d that caters to every taste.

fiction contest Most submissions to the Talk Short Fiction Contest managed to capture the flavour of life in the city, and that’s what made them a pleasure to read, writes CK Meena, who judged the competition

talk|22 nov 2012|


Sumptuous slices of Bangalore life RAMESH HUNSUR

t is always a pleasure to read fiction in a familiar setting and this is why, as a Bangalorean, I got a peculiar satisfaction from reading a whole sheaf of short stories set in my favourite city and adoptive home. Even where the writing was below par, I enjoyed how the writers had captured the flavour of Bangalore’s people and spaces: familiar localities and characteristic manners of speech and behaviour. Stray dogs, tech parks, barbershops, parking problems, call centres, Iyengar bakeries, old cafes (pronounced to rhyme with ‘safe’, as many of you would know!), Lal Bagh, Bull Temple, Malleswaram, Shivajinagar—they leapt off the page and into my mind’s eye. When I shortlisted the entries I wasn’t looking only for local colour. I naturally gave most weight to language and style. I also discarded those with predictable endings or poorly drawn characters. The Pigeon Rescue by Varsha Pillai did not make it to the podium because it does not qualify as a short story; it is a closely observed uneven social relationships, changing and humorous slice of life that is more aspirations, and a general sense of journalistic than literary. The pigeon urban disconnect. Although Manisha trapped under a truck that causes a Lakhe’s To Bangalore (second prize) traffic jam on Bannerghatta Main contained almost no overt mention of Road, the attempts by sundry people Bangalore, I was struck by the author’s to lure it out, the arrival of the offi- portrayal of the mother-daughter relacious policeman: all this makes for tionship marked by conflicting emosuch a typical Bangalore scene! tions and a role-reversal. The relationship between the Similarly, Srikant mother and her guru Narayan’s The Bridge is I discarded those is also described a well-plotted story of stories that had quite convincingly. a call-centre employee The writing is concoming to the aid of an predictable trolled, particularly anonymous caller, but endings or when describing the it needs polishing. Also poorly drawn protagonist’s inner in need of more drafts characters emotions, although is Sudeep Chandran’s the last few paraFear, a suspenseful account of dread building up into a graphs appear to have been written in some haste! I was amazed by the humorous twist. The Cigarettewalla by Siddhartha degree of insider’s knowledge disLal (which has earned a special men- played by Anisha Sridhar, the author tion) made the grade for two reasons: of Pocketful of Buttons (first prize winAside from a few mixed tenses and ner) who captures the dark world of language errors, it was written in a the junkie in this smoothly and tautly direct style. Most of all, it conveyed a written story. The narrator’s voice is great deal through what was left self-assured, and the shadowy side of unsaid. Many aspects were hinted at: Shivajinagar comes alive.


The journalist who became a novelist C K Meena, the well-known Bangalore writer who judged the Talk Short Fiction Contest, is the author of three novels, Dreams of the Dying, Black Lentil Doughnuts and Seven Days to Somewhere (all three published by Dronequill). She has also coauthored with Padma Subbaiah a primer for parents titled Adoption. Meena first came to Bangalore from Kozhikode, in 1978 and decided to stay back, having fallen in love with the city. Her stints as a journalist with City Tab (a weekly, now defunct) and Deccan Herald helped her know the city and its people intimately. She then became a teacher of journalism and helped set up the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in the late 1990s. She likes to read the works of

Charles Dickens, PG Wodehouse, Alistair Maclean, Graham Greene, John Steinbeck and John Irving, to name just a few. Her writings are set against an urban background and her characters are an amalgamation of her imagination and her real life experiences. For Meena, the best part of Bangalore is its weather. What she loves is to visit old-style Udupi restaurants, which are few in number now, watch movies in old theatres, or simply walk around on the streets, never mind the traffic. Her other big passion is music; she loves listening to rock, jazz, Hindustani and old Hindi film songs. Since 2002, she has been writing a fortnightly column called City Lights for The Hindu’s Metro Plus.

talk|22 nov 2012|


From truth to untruth, and to truth again


nce upon a time, there was no such word as story. Well, stories did exist. Stories have been told and heard for a long, long time. They were just not called stories, but had other names. The term story was first used sometime in the early 13th century. It was simply a shorter form of history, and W had the same meaning. Story stood for real events or for a narrative about the life of an important person. When someone said, “I’m telling you a story,” he narrated an The Talk actual hapcolumn on word origins pening. For


instance, if this connotation was used now, one could talk about the Quit India movement and call it a story. That meaning of story changed in the 15th century. Many times, histories or stories are laced with fictitious details to make them interesting. These details often make stories more interesting and lead to the creation of legends and myths. The word story began to be used for narratives laced with fiction, history was reserved for narratives that were not fictionally coloured. For instance, if a king is so strong that he moves a mountain with his bare hands, he would be a story. If the same king conquered kingdoms with strategic planning, he would be history. In the later part of the 15th century, story was used for any fictitious narrative meant to entertain. It was then that tales began



to be called stories. A grandmother’s narration about a demon that scared children was called a story; and a court jester’s description of a cunning trader being outwitted by the king was also a story. In the 1690s, we have the first recorded example of the term story being used as a euphemism for a lie. Then, there were sentences like, “I do not want to hear stories.” It actually meant that the person saying it didn’t want to hear lies. This meaning is still in use. We often use it in our daily conversations. In the 17th century, the phrase story-teller was formed. It was used for someone like a writer who created stories and narrated them. The same word was also used for a liar. Another meaning of the term story is a floor of a building. This meaning has been in use since the 14th century. It has its origin from history. Buildings in medieval Europe were decorated with paintings of historical events, which used to hung on windows of the various floors. These paintings told a story. This

AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED... A contemporary performance of Dastangoi, a traditional Urdu story-telling art form that is now being revived

eventually led to a floors itself to be called story, also spelt storey. It was in the 1890s that newspaper articles began to be called stories. Even today, journalistic pieces are called stories. This usage perhaps brings the term story closest to its original meaning, when it meant something which is true. Even in common parlance,

we sometimes use story to describe something that is true. For instance, after narrating the actual happenings in your life, you’d say, “This is the story of my life.” In other words, story has come full circle. And as partisans to the idea that stories tell the truth more often than not, we hope it stays that way, happily ever after.

talk short fiction

Pocketful of buttons

She needs a fix badly. Her regular dealer is playing truant. The others will only supply her second-rate stuff. What then is a girl to do?

face was pockmarked from an early battle with the pox and his body was twisted from polio. I shivered and it was not only from the ice of withdrawal. I rapped on the door and waited but no one came. A deep silence emanated from within and outside my heart pounded, my blood rushed. “”Kareem,” I called out. Still, there stood outside Cauvery Emporium was no answer. I stood there, as if in purfor three hours waiting for my gatory, wondering if I had hallucinated his dealer. I was frustrated, cold, and presence. I knocked again and then again, alone. Inside, shop assistants with but only the neighbour opened her winneatly oiled hair sold overpriced dow and yelled at me to stop disturbing brass elephants to foreigners. Outside, the neighbourhood. I had to give up and beggars swarmed vehicles stopped at the walk away. It was ten o’ clock and far too signal. Outside, I sat raw with ache from late for any score anyway. empty opiate receptors inside my skin, I lit a cigarette and let the smoke inside my muscles, inside my head. crawl through my throat as I walked Outside, men stared at me, leered and towards Shivajinagar bus stop. That living someone asked me how much I charge for centre where class, caste and religion the night. I felt fingers crawl across my blend superbly into hope. It’s where the body, grabbing at my breasts, my ass, my mosque faces the church along a road back and I knew it was time to move. with the city’s most famous Meenakshi Each step I took made me acutely temple, where the high-class aunties rub aware of a sharp pull in shoulders with bus the calf area, a queasy conductors and maids I owed it to myself stomach and a cold, in search of the best to smoke some of runny nose. I dreaded bargains, where dealthe good shit in the prospect of spending ers shake hands with another night awake young, moneyed the bathroom of a with the aches and pains junkies and the starvfive-star hotel of withdrawal. I had no ing addicts alike. choice but to go to I was half way to Mosque Road- the epicenter of the smack my bus when I noticed a light flash out syndicate in Bangalore run by the crippled from under a blanket. The blanket lay Kareem. draped over two bodies that were sitting Even though I had been warned that: cross-legged on the pavement. I’d seen “He won’t sell to you if he doesn’t this scene too many times not to know know you.” what they were doing under that blanket. “He doesn’t like girls.” I tapped a shoulder and said, “If you call and his wife picks up, “Bhaiyya?” she’ll kill you,” I heard a grunt. It was a grunt of But junk-lust knows no fear and I someone awakening from a stupor. found myself standing outside his hovel The light went out from under the anyway. I was about to walk up to the door blanket and after a brief rustling noise, the when I saw him peering through the win- blanket came off to reveal Raju and Ismail. dow furtively. In the brief patch of street- They were both short, bony men; one light, I saw his twisted arm with its claw- bearded, the other bald. like hand resting on the window grills. His “I’ll give you twenty rupees if you


give me that button you were smoking,” I said. Raju lifted his head to look at me properly. I lit a cigarette and gave it to him. He wrapped his shaking fingers around it and rested his eyes upon my breasts before he said, “But you’re a girl.” “I still have the money,” I said. “And I’ll give it to you if you give me that button you were smoking.” He rubbed his nose with the back of his hand and glanced at Ismail. “Give me fifty.” In a public bathroom that smelled of shit and phenoyl, I examined the button. It was not substantial but it was better than starvation. It was an oblong dark brown blob and hard, like cold caramel. I lit a match and teased the foil under the button with a flame. The blob melted, sizzling and hissing as it flowed reluctantly down, leaving a dark, almost black, stain on the foil. It was not the best stash but for fifty bucks, I wasn’t complaining. For now, the night was bright again and as I rode the bus, I had no fear of sleep. Only a nagging worry about tomorrow that would grow into a panic if my dealer remained absent. Luckily for me, the next day brought better luck. My dealer, Imran resurfaced and with him, hope. He arrived at our meeting spot, late (as usual) dressed in his trademark black coat and cap. I bought half a gram off him “What happened yesterday,” I asked. “Kareem has gone mad,” Imran said. Following his mother’s death a week ago, Kareem had allegedly shut himself up in his hovel smoking up a mountain of smack. He was in no state to make deals and they were running out of stash to sell. Worse, he’d stopped paying off the cops. “Did you see the papers?” Imran asked me. I shrugged. “They got Babu day before yesterday. It was in the papers. Crime section,” he said. “And Kareem saala, he’s so doped up he hasn’t gone to bail him out and it doesn’t look like he will. So, from now on, my

phone will be on from three p.m. p.m. Fridays it will be off.” It always amused me that would take the time off on Frid attend jumah. I’d always had an unh awe for him. Everything about appealed to me; from his movie sta looks to his gangster like attitude. H in a dangerous profession and I ad his courage for it. But that day, as I at this pious man, Imran, I realise his true bravery lay in the ability to mosque Friday after Friday cleansin self over and over again, until the death caught up with him. I was in good spirits despite I sombre news about Kareem and th ness. I caught an autorickshaw an

. to six to the Taj. I owed it to myself, I thought, to smoke some of the good shit in the plush Imran bathroom of a five-star heritage hotel. days to And I was right because over the course of healthy the next two weeks, good stash was as Imran hard to come by as an ex-addict. ar good Frequently, I’d buy half a gram only He was to find that it had been hastily cut with dmired unknown crystals, sugar, pharmaceuticals looked and, according to rumour, even mosquito ed that coil ash. There was an ever-revolving door go that of dealers who came to meet me with this ng him- questionable stash. They all gave me the Law or same story, “Kareem’s gone mad.” A scramble for power ensued and, if Imran’s rumours are to be believed, Kareem was he busi- thrown out of his own hovel. Where he d went went crawling to was anybody’s guess.

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T S FPrIizR e Winner

Unfortunately, these small-time dealers possessed neither Kareem’s business sense nor his charisma when it came to dealing with the Law. Dealers started to disappear only to re-appear as four lines of a story in the crime section of newspapers: “Man caught with 1.5 kg of heroin at Michaelpalya”—that sort of stuff. The business of being a junkie was becoming extremely hard. Whenever I’d find my dealers missing or see their guilty mug shots peering out at me from a newspaper, I’d take a trip down to Shivajinagar. In the beginning, the stash I procured from Ismail and Raju was uniformly terrible, useful only to stave off the crippling onset of withdrawal. I considered quitting, going cold turkey. Going some-


Anisha Sridhar is a writer who writes all day and sometimes, gets paid for it. Her short stories have appeared in Everyday Fiction, Reading Hour, Out! Stories from Queer India and Outcast: An Anthology of Stories from Asia and Africa. She is also at work on the graphic novel The Kuru Chronicles in collaboration with Ari Jayaprakash, founder of the Indian Underground art movement. She currently lives in New York and blogs at

place far away, where I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t find anything. I considered telling my parents or going to rehab. But every time I tried, I’d find myself back at Shivajinagar bargaining for a button or two. One afternoon, I took the usual bus to Shivajinagar and made my usual score. In the bathroom of the nearby juice and fast food joint, I prepared for normalcy. What struck me about this stash was how well it flowed. It didn’t sizzle or hiss or leave black stains on the foil indicating impurities. This was good shit and I wanted more than a measly ten lines off a borrowed button. I wanted to know their source. I went back over to Ismail and Raju. They were both in deep heroin induced trance. It took me a while to shake them out of their reverie and when they finally awakened enough to comprehend my presence, I asked them if they had any more stash to sell. Ismail shook his head. “Ask the guy you score from,” I tried. “Who do you get it from anyway?” Ismail shook his head. Raju snorted. “Listen,” I said. “I’ll give you five hundred if you just show me where he is, okay?” “Five hundred?” Ismail was interested. A calculating silence set in. They were, no doubt, absorbed in the long division of grams. After a beat, Ismail stood up. I had never seen either of these men standing before. Ismail looked like a twig broken off a decaying tree. A pair of oversized navy blue pants was fastened to his waist by means of a coarse jute rope. We walked down the road, past a traffic cop was sweating it out on his leopard printed bike waiting to catch some young kid without a license. We crossed the street and walked far enough down to disappear from the policeman’s view. Ismail stopped suddenly and pointed at a blanketed heap lying outside a closed jewellery store. “Is he alive?” I asked and in response

Ismail walked over and tugged at the blanket. A claw like hand, twisted and tortured, emerged and grabbed the five hundred from Ismail. After a brief rustle, the hand emerged again, handing Ismail a packet. “He’s alive,” Ismail said and with that, he turned his back on me. I walked over to the man tentatively, nervously. I knelt down beside him and tapped his shoulder, “Bhaiyya?” There was no response. Underneath the blanket, his jacket was visible. A thin plastic bag filled with paper baggies of smack lay exposed. The twisted claw rested protectively upon the plastic bag. The five hundred rupee note from Ismail was only partially stuffed down his torn pants pocket. The man smelled of death and urine. Something about him seemed familiar. I pushed his hair away from his face with my fingernail and the face I saw astonished me. It was Kareem, in all his pock marked glory with his mouth cavernously open and not a single breath of life left in him. I fell back in shock, my hand shaking from contact. I had never seen a dead person before and the sight of Kareem made death seem even more grotesque. I felt the bile rising in my throat. I clamped my hand over my mouth, but it was no use. I crawled over to the gutter and retched till my insides felt raw. People on the street slowed down as they passed me, their faces reflecting curiosity, concern and disgust. An old lady offered me a sip of water from a bottle. I drained it and thanked her. When she was gone, I concentrated on getting my breath back again. It was only death, I told myself. Only death. When I felt sufficiently better, I stood up. I looked down at the poor, dead Kareem and instead of walking away from him, I reached into his jacket and pulled out the plastic bag of dope. Then, I grabbed the five hundred rupee note sticking out of his pocket and bolted down the street after a passing rickshaw that I hoped fervently was empty. As I ran, I thanked God that I’d worn sneakers instead of slippers.

kitsch sensation

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‘Simple is the new cool’ That’s the message Wilbur Sargunaraj wants to send out to the world in his first film. An exclusive interview with the YouTube star who famously teaches Westerners how to use the Indian toilet


erhaps history will mark Wilbur Sargunaraj as India’s precursor of PSY, the Korean sensation who sang the wildly popular Gangnam style. Sargunaraj is no longer the caricature in white shirt, black trousers and black tie that only YouTube aficionados would recognise. One of the most popular Indian entertainment acts in the website’s history, with nearly 3.1 million views for his music and ‘instructional’ videos, he is now all set to reach out to the larger world with the launch of his first film, SSS (Simple SuperStar), funded entirely by his fan community, Wilbur World Wide. His screen persona is that of a man from Madurai, complete with small-town mannerisms and a Tamil accent when he speaks English. Sargunaraj maintains the same persona on TV and for telephone interviews, besides in person. Is it just a persona or is it the person? Sargunaraj vehemently denies he uses that image to market himself, although I could hear a more neutral accent when I met him, after a year, for this interview. In this chat (only minimally edited) with Talk to mark the launch of his film, Sargunaraj’s comic talent is very much on display. And typically, he leaves no clue about what to take seriously and what not to.

SIMPLE STAR Wilbur Sargunaraj says that he’s a new kind of superstar, one that common people can relate to

What is behind your on-screen persona, namely the accent and the strict black-and-white attire?



journey of crawling down the ladder of worldly success and really understanding what is most important in life! It’s what our Wilbur World Wide community is all about. I will always remain a simple superstar! One of my mottos has always been ‘Live simply so others can simply live’… This platform was given to me to be part of a vibrant community and serve, not to be selfish and pursue my own fleeting fame! We have enough ‘super’ stars and not enough people cheering for the common person. Simple is the new cool! In this world we live in we are told by our society that having lots of money is what makes you wealthy. This is an illusion and many people are deceived by this. What makes a person rich is his family and relationships! I feel so rich to have so many friends from around the world who have taught me so much. My message to the world is to focus on quality, not quantity!

This is not a persona. In this day and age, people are out to complicate things when they are actually very simple. Being a star automatically means you need to spend on designer socks. The easiest thing to do, at such a time in my case, is to wear the same thing every day.

accent, you don’t lose your accent just like that. All that happens only when you are a teenager in a new country. It is a non-issue for me. I love accents and cultures. I consider myself a global citizen and I think it is time for everybody to stop categorising and begin embracing.

Do you face trouble with people understanding your accent in Canada where you live? How come the accent there did not rub off on you? People with normal intelligence understand what I say. They are used to different cultural backgrounds and I have never faced a time when somebody has had trouble understanding my accent. Sometimes people speak fast, the way I do, and that becomes a problem. I deliberately slow down in that case. I haven’t used subtitles for my videos so far but may be doing so in the film when dealing with different languages. As for gaining an

Is it becoming essential for performers to build an image? I get told often that my image is a great marketing strategy. I have never stopped to realise that. The truth is, I have never studied marketing or branding. I think there should be originality. People are doing cover after cover just to jump on the popular bandwagon. I have never wanted to be a viral sensation. I just want to be an artist who connects with the community. More than an image, there has to be creativity that stands out. I love people who are not a sellout and use their creativity for more than fame. I love music and have simply documented everything I create. Will the film use any of your popular YouTube videos? Yes, I believe there are some popular Tell us a bit about your film in your videos referenced but I must keep this own words? Most people long to be ‘superstars’ or a secret! Well, maybe I can share that ‘mega superstars’ but this movie is a you will see our friend “Disobedient

kitsch sensation Beast” (see Wilbur in Jaipur) in it.

costume changes!

Was making a film a natural progression or did you always dream of it? I have always wanted to be in a movie but never in the wildest of dreams did I imagine that I would be writing and directing my own story. It is humbling to be at a point where I can launch a feature film after making videos on YouTube. One thing I love about this film and the process is that it retains the charm of the YouTube videos so it retains the ‘Wilbur Sargunaraj’ feel. Yaay for Wilburwood!

What are you favourite films? Where does your inspiration come from? I used to love Bloodsport (Jean Claude Van Damme) until I became a pacifist! Aaahhhhh! What a lovely question! I have three inspirations currently: Jean Vanier: Mr Vanier is a French philosopher who I met in Paris just this past May. He has deeply influenced my life. His book Becoming Human has impacted me deeply and he remains one of the inspirations behind the movie. I promised him I would share his message with the world with the platform I have been given! In fact, one of the videos we will show at the Bangalore concert is a message from him on what it means to climb down the ladder of worldly success. Mr Jeyapal: He is a hardworking brother and close friend from rural Tamil Nadu. He worked so hard to put his wife through school on a small salary and has a beautiful story! I trust him with my life and he will be our guest of honour to launch the audio for the SSS movie in Bangalore. On another note, to get to Bangalore, he will be flying for the first time in his life. Fans: I am inspired by the fans who take the time out of their day to write to me or appreciate my creative endeavours.

Where is the film set? And what were the challenges of making a film in more than one language? The film is set in Dubai, Mumbai, Chennai, and rural south India. This is an English language film, peppered with Tamil, subtitled in English. There were no challenges per se, as many of the cast and crew were multilingual…It’s a shame that my Japanese didn’t come in handy one bit for the movie!

The show is going to include performances of classics such as Love Marriage—a dedication with a couple who will join me up on stage as they just got a Love Marriage! (Madam Shruti Rao) There will be new songs from the Simple Superstar movie soundtrack. Also, nearly a dozen members from the cast and crew will be part of the evening, including Naveen Richard, who will deliver a Who would you say is this film aimed stand-up comedy sequence. at? Tamilians, Tamilian NRIs or anyInterspersed throughout the evening body? will be featured videos, the official E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E! It’s a movie for the trailer for the movie, as well as a brand world. new and yet unreleased album, Supercall Solution. We have a special Do we see you making costume screening of an interview with my changes in the film or have you mentor Jean Vanier. This show is decided to stick to your black-andWhat should we expect at the promo going to be about celebrating with the white look? fans, whose love and support has Finally people get to see me in a lungi release show? and banian! That’s about the extent of Ayyyaayyyoooo.....Where do I start? made the movie possible.

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Wilbur’s videos

How to tie the lungi, How to dance like Michael Johnson, First class meat (chicken 65), How to use the European toilet, Love Marriage (music video)

Sargunaraj Super Call Solutions A transcript from How to Use Eastern Latrine: Hello, everybody. I am Wilbur Sargunaraj. Today, I want to show very very important thing about the India… Many many foreigners who come to the country, they want to know how to use the toilet in India... Western style a little bit comfortable for people to sit down. Eastern is a little bit difficult but that is the way we operate in India. Please come follow me. Idu vandu typical eastern style toilet. Tamil-le vandu solluvom kakkoos annu solluvom. You must not sit like this. It is incorrect. When you go to the kakkoos, you must lock the door. You must sit like this, the hole facing back like this… You squat like this. Finish the business. After you are finish… In India there is no toilet paper. There is only water, and the dipper. We use the left hand to do the cleaning. I will show you how to. It is very, very important for foreigners to know. We take a left hand, and pour. Some people go from the front, some people from the back, but we clean like this. Do not just use the hand without the water. That is inappropriate. Use the water. If you do the toilet paper it is not very clean. In the water everything is clean. People sometimes think it is not very very clean method. That’s why we have some soap. Is this Mysore Sandal? Yes, sandalwood soap. You should take the soap and wash your hand very very clean. After that you have a first class experience. That’s why in the India, when you do the greeting, you do not touch a person with the left hand. I hope this has been a very very informational experience for you. (As seen on YouTube)

book excerpt

Days and nights with Veerappan ying down with a bag for a pillow and with his legs crossed, Veerappan was staring at a book. Curious, I peeked to see what he was reading. What I saw was truly astonishing. I shuffled quickly to Senani and said, ‘Look there!’ Dr Maithi, the scientist kindnapped with us, abruptly stopped speaking. ‘Krupa, what a sight! If only we’d had a camera, this would have made a great visual,’ Senani exclaimed. Veerappan was ‘reading’ a copy of the National Geographic. He was mesmerised by a spectacular cover picture of two African leopards. We hadn’t realised his boys had picked up such things amidst the confusion that night. Veerappan walked up to us after 15-20 minutes. He opened a page, and like a student with a doubt, asked, ‘Seni, what have they written here? Can you read this and tell me?’ Perhaps because his father had been a professor, Senani has a flair for teaching. He


t was about seven. I strolled out of the house to gaze at the stars I loved so much, but they had vanished behind the clouds. It was eery and silent. The swallows usually returned to their nest on our sunshade around this hour, but there was no sign of them. Even the evening breeze was playing truant. Absent-mindedly, I took a couple of steps. Through the corner of my eye, I spied a shadow moving in the darkness. ‘Hey, who’s that?’ I exclaimed. All of a sudden a man jumped out of the shadow, yelling, ‘Deyyy!’ The next moment, the muzzle of his rifle was pointed at my chest. ‘Veerappan!’ A shout escaped me. His huge moustache had assumed a demon-like menace. The single word I cried out startled Veerappan. ‘How do you know?’ he asked in Tamil, half in curiosity and half in pride. ‘The entire world knows about you … come in, come in,’ I replied in the same language. Even before I had finished speaking, several gunwielding men had entered the house. Two other guns had pushed me to a corner. *****



explained in detail each picture that Veerappan pointed to. The gang sat around Senani listening to his lecture. They looked like obedient students, absorbing every word. ***** eerappan came to us sipping tea and said, ‘Seni, how many tuskers would Bandipur have?’ ‘As far as we know, only six or seven big male elephants exist. Things are so bad because poaching for ivory is rampant. It is difficult to sight even young males these days,’ Senani said. Veerappan responded in a soft voice: ‘It has


been many years since I killed any elephant. But no one believes me if I say so. I know. I have just two pairs of tusks with me now. They are very old. I have vowed to have ivory elephants made for two temples if I get clemency.’ He continued: ‘Whatever happens in the forest, they hold me responsible. The moment they know I’m somewhere around, poachers in the vicinity take advantage: they start killing elephants and smuggling out the ivory. Once forest officials know I’m around, they don’t even bother to question the others. The poachers keep the tusks, I get the blame. What justice is this? As far as I


With Attahaasa, a biopic of slain forest brigand Veerappan scheduled for release in three languages, Talk presents a real-life tale of Krupakar and Senani, wildlife photographers, who spent 14 days as hostages of Veerappan and his gang

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book excerpt

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know, 25 gangs are engaged in the ivory tions. Madesha started asking us about business, and they kill elephants. No one knows about this. Everyone says wild dogs. Veerappan was listening in as Veerappan did the killing. On the third Senani answered his questions. ‘Seni, hear this,’ he said, as if someday of my visit to Bandipur, I saw four Malayalis chasing a shrieking, injured thing had occurred to him. He placed two tusker. I don’t know what happened after fingers of his right hand across his mouth, as though he were playing a harmonica, that.’ He fell silent again. and made a strange sound. ‘Know this?’ he ***** enani was chatting with Veerappan. said, smiling wickedly. Senani was stunned the moment he ‘What do we do now? We have no cooking oil since yesterday. heard the call. ‘Yes, yes, we have heard this Rangaswamy now says he has run out of before… at least three times. ‘Fantastic!’ pulses.’ Veerappan responded immediate- he exclaimed, looking at my face. I was incredulous; I just couldn’t ly, ‘Don’t worry about all that, Seni … I’ll go into town and get everything by morn- believe a human could produce such authentic animal sounds. It was the death ing.’ Senani said, sharply, ‘You’re bluffing. cry of a hare caught by a wild dog. Senani said, ‘Very few can underWhat shop is open in the middle of the stand what you just demonstrated. There night?’ Twirling his moustache proudly, must be just a handful in the whole world Veerappan said, ‘Why should any shop be to have witnessed such a killing. Two of open? Whatever the hour, shop doors us are here before you.’ ***** open the moment they see this moustache.’ He smirked under his moustache. t was getting dark. Rangaswamy We assumed he had hidden the probrought in the radio. It was playing a visions somewhere, and was just up to romantic Kannada song by K S playacting. But an idea occurred to Pasha Narasimhaswamy, in the lovely voice of and Krishnappa, who had heard the con- Rathnamala Prakash. Delighted, Senani versation. sat listening to it. They said, ‘Sir, we’ve run out of beedVeerappan observed him and asked, is. Could you ask him to fetch a bundle?’ ‘Do you like dance and music?’ Senani, I understood the importance of the still lost in the song, nodded. request, and said, ‘Veerappan, if you’re Veerappan went back to his bag and going to a shop, could you bring us a bun- pulled out a music cassette. ‘Anbu, go get dle of beedis?’ the tape recorder,’ he said. The cunning The dew had begun to form, and Veerappan said, ‘Beedis Raju was lighting a fire. and cigarettes are not Everyone looked red in Veerappan’s good for health. This is a the light. Veerappan told style of dance good chance to give up Anbu to play the cassette, the habit.’ and started chatting with straddled I didn’t like his us. Bharatnatyam preaching. ‘Deny us a ‘This is the music of and disco meal if you wish, but we my place. It is beautiful. I can’t do without the have two more cassettes beedis,’ I pressed. like this,’ he said. Veerappan smiled and told Senani, As he spoke, he kept his slippers ‘Hear that!’ aside, and took off his shirt and trousers. ***** He stood in his shorts and vest. The enani began discussing the language moment the song came on with its harof the forest with Veerappan, who monium, tabla and pipe melody, he startcame and sat with us. ‘Can you imi- ed dancing in a style that straddled tate the call of a charging elephant?’ Bharatnatyam and disco. Initially, it looked like he was doing his own thing, Senani asked Veerappan. Like a smart boy eager to please his but he soon started responding correctly teacher, Veerappan got ready, and became to the beats, and danced and jumped like an elephant in a flash! He pricked up his a teenager. As the tempo increased, he ears, widened his small eyes, and trumpet- danced accordingly. The dance, in the ed like an elephant about to charge at its golden light of the fire, was impressive. He danced continuously for 15 minenemy. It was so good that our legs, trained to run the moment we heard the utes, and stopped when the song ended. sound, were ready to set off. We gaped at We were stunned. Tired from the danchim, without so much as blinking once. ing, Veerappan said breathlessly he had Encouraged, Veerappan demonstrated done just one beat, and could do eight how elephants vocalise in different situa- more. ‘Not bad. You haven’t forgot-




UNLIKELY HOSTAGES Award-winning wildlife photographers Krupakar and Senani were kidnapped from their Bandipur house by Veerappan, who mistook them for government officials

ten all this despite being in the forest,’ I said. Encouraged, he said, ‘We had 32 beats. No one knows them now. The ones who knew them are dead. This is a lost art.’ He continued, ‘Someone came to me and said they would pay five crore rupees if I gave them these. Bastards. I told them it was priceless, and sent them away.’ I joked, ‘But, Veerappan, five crore is a lot of money. You could have given it to them.’ ‘How can you say that, Krupa? Should I do this for money?’ he said, and went on to reveal something else. ‘You know about Hollywood?’ he began. ‘Who’d imagine he knew so many things!’ we were marvelling, when he continued, ‘I gather they heard my story and came to make a film with my permission. They searched everywhere, and met our MP in Delhi. They asked him if he could arrange for them to meet me. He waved them away, saying two governments, the army, and the police had not been able to track me down, and there was no way he could get to me. I believe the Hollywood folks were ready to given me a hundred crore. Yes, a hundred crore! Now you know, money isn’t that important to me.’ ‘You are right,’ said Senani. He then whispered in my ear, ‘Krupa, we must find out how many zeroes he has to his crore!’ ****** eerappan told Krishnappa to fetch some leaves from a teak tree. ‘You will take some time leaving. Eat again before you set out,’ Veerappan said. Rangaswamy poured the rice and the saaru into the


leaves, folded by Krishnappa into the shape of plates. Veerappan took out a spring balance from his bag. He hooked it to a tree, and stood by its side like an agent at the regulated market. The boys came one by one and hung their bags from it. Veerappan moved the stuff around so that each bag carried not more than 20 kilos. Rangaswamy’s bag was full of cooking vessels, and loomed three or four feet taller than him, looking like it weighed hundreds of kilos. Veerappan put the balance back into it, heaved the gun on to his shoulder, and stood ready to leave. What a moment it was! Inside that butcher’s heart was a little pool of compassion. That was the moment we realised that this man, who strutted about as if he could conquer the universe just by pointing the barrel of his gun at it, could also shed tears. With a heavy heart, I walked up to him, shook his hand, and said, ‘May good things happen. Goodbye.’ He pressed my hand, and became quiet for a moment. His eyes were moist. He jerked back, resumed his proud countenance, and suppressed the pain he was feeling at our departure. He shook his head and said, ‘I will get going.’ He opened his eyes, as if reminded of something, and pleaded, ‘And don’t sell your house ….’ He said he would definitely visit us if he returned to civilisation, and his eyes went moist again. Extracted from Krupakar and Senani’s book Veerappan Jothe 14 Dinagalu, translated into English by Talk Editor SR Ramakrishna and published by Penguin under the title Birds, Beasts and Bandits.

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Rewind The week that was  US scandal: David H Petraeus, the head of United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, steps down after he was revealed to have been involved in an extra-marital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.  Russian clampdown: Russia has adopted a new law that expands the definition of treason to any normal dissident activity, threatening civil rights.  China leadership: China gets a new president, Xi Jinping, and prime minister,Li Keqiang in a smooth transition of power.  Historic visit: Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes historic visit to India after nearly 40 years. She visits New Delhi, Bangalore and rural Andhra Pradesh.  2G auction: Indian government falls well short of revenue target of Rs 14,000 crore from auction of 2G spectrum, no takers for high reserve price.  Fossils unearthed: Tree fossils dating 250 million years have been unearthed in Chhattisgarh. Initial reports indicate that they are the oldest to be discovered in India.  No clean chit: RSS ideologue and chartered accountant S Gurumurthy said he has not given clean chit to BJP president Nitin Gadkari in entirety  Abortion death: Belgaumborn Savita Halappanavar died in Dublin, Ireland after hospital authorities refused to terminate her pregnancy despite a miscarriage; abortion is illegal in Catholicmajority Ireland.  CMs meet: The chief ministers of the four southern states meet in Bangalore to draw plans for development  Diwali injuries: More than 50 children were injured from exploding crackers during Diwali celebrations in Bangalore

Trance explosion When Above & Beyond, the British group considered one of the world's leading trance music acts, came visiting last week, Bangalore did not disappoint. The concert, which was also the last (450th) episode of their weekly radio show Trance Around the World (TATW), saw a 5,000-strong crowd gather at Jayamahal Palace for a night of trance and deep house. It was the first show in India for the trio of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki. There were performances by a whole line-up of DJs before Above & Beyond took the stage, starting with Jody Wisternoff, who played his hit Way out There to a foot-

tapping reception. An hour into the performance, Andrew Bayer took charge of the console and belted out some party numbers from the Distractions EP. Then followed sessions by Norin & Rad and Mat Zo, as well those by local talents Nikhil Chinnappa, Rohit Barker and Pearl. Above & Beyond, the highlight act of the day, played effortlessly for two hours. The show was broadcast live in many countries across the world, which might explain why all the bands stuck strictly to the time given to them. Perhaps you know that’s not something concert-goers are used to in our city.

Backstreet’s back Love them or loathe them, there’s really no ignoring them. Call them Backstreet Boys or BSB, as they were referred to when the fondness was more effusive, they are back with a new single. That’s not all, It’s Christmas Time Again also marks their reunion since 2006, and stockings with each of their names hanging on a single line more than figuratively

remind you of that. ‘Again’ may well be the defining word for everything about the track. Here’s a sample: You and me together

They gleam across the sky

Sleigh Ride in the Park

The chorus is peppy and uses repetitive words just as many of their older tracks did. The sound is the easy listening kind, hardly striking. We aren’t really complaining, though.

Loving kissing Straight from the heart Snowflakes falling gently A smell of chesnuts in the air And Christmas lights

Waste Land: A landfill story Suchitra Film Society is screening Waste Land, a film that documents two years of work of Brazilian contemporary artist Vik Muniz. This is the interesting bit: Muniz creates art with the help of scavengers working at Jardim Gramacho, one of the world’s largest landfills. Given our garbage problems, we in Bangalore should be interested to see how this landfill serves the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz creates from landfill trash largescale mosaic portraits that are then sold at art auctions in London and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo. The film portrays the lives of the garbage pickers, who look for recyclable material, as well as Muniz’s efforts to help them gain recognition and better working conditions.

Directed by Lucy Walker, the 2010 documentary, the 99-minute film with English subtitles will be screened at the Suchitra, 36, 9th Main, BV Karanth Road, Banashankari 2nd stage, at 11 am on Sunday, November 18.

Listening to Nature ‘Some people talk about nature, others listen to it.’ According to its back cover blurb, Whispers From The Wild, a collection of writings by the late naturalist ERC Davidar, belongs to the latter group. This volume brings together many of the unpublished writings of one of South India’s leading figures in wildlife conservation. As the blurb puts it, the book reveals ‘wonders like how to befriend an elephant, how to talk to a tiger, and how to live in the jungle.’ A planter and lawyer in the Nilgiris, Davidar’s initial encounter with the wild was in the role of a hunter. He soon developed a passionate connection with the forests around him, which first drew him to photography, and later to wildlife conservation. The book recounts his experiences in the wild, spliced with photographs taken by him. It also includes a large selection from Davidar’s earlier work, the much acclaimed Cheetal Walk, named after what may be the first ever private elephant corridor in India, which Davidar established around his jungle-cottage near Masinagudi in the Nilgiris.

Fire and water Bangalore-based musician Ricky Kej’s new track, Arabian Sea, has a readymade claim to fame—its music video is the first in India to be ‘properly’ shot under water. According to the producers, the video was shot in Koh Tao, Thailand, over 45 dives. The track is part of Kej’s electronica album, Fiery Drums, released by EMI Virgin internationally. Kej runs an audio production house called Raveolution Studios in Bangalore, and has made music for a number of radio shows and Kannada movies. The video was made by Bhushan Bagadia, who runs Wagtail Productions in Bangalore.

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Forward The week ahead

Your lawyer checklist So you thought movie stars were overpaid? Here’s what India’s top lawyers charge to appear at a court hearing. Writing in Tax issues site ITAT Online (, Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer also describes what makes them such hot shots. Here’s the dope (mostly in Iyer’s words):  Ram Jethmalani Rs 40 lakh an appearance Loud, irascible, never afraid of a fight, given to seeking publicity, he fits the textbook definition of a lawyer as seen in Hindi films. Scheming lawyer Indrajit Chaddha, played by Amrish Puri in the film Damini, is said to be inspired by Ram Jethmalani. At 89 years, he is sociable and affable, except when journalists like Karan Thapar and Sagarika Ghosh rub him the wrong way. Only the Nusli Wadia and Anil Ambani sorts can afford him.  Fali Nariman Rs 5 lakh to 15 lakh an

 Obama’s battle: US president has to work out ways to reach a compromise with Republican law makers to craft a budget that would reduce the fiscal crisis

appearance Called the grand old man of Indian law, he is the antithesis of Ram Jethmalani. Impatient with his juniors, his personality frequently intimidates the judges. They dare not question the propositions of law he formulates for fear that he will lash out and they will appear ignorant. Of course, the foundation to this is the confidence that Nariman will never formulate a proposition that is wrong or can be faulted.  Soli Sorabjee Rs 2 lakh to 3 lakh an appearance When even junior lawyers flaunt their BMWs and Jaguars, Sorabjee is happy driving around in a beat-up Maruti Esteem, and is called ‘the Brahmin without a sacred thread.’ He is opposed to lawyers charging high fees,

 Strikes in Europe: Strikes by workers are expected to intensify in Southern Europe as factories shut down and joblessness mounts Amrish Puri as a scheming lawyer in the film Damini. His character was inspired by Ram Jethmalani, India’s most expensive counsel.

and calls it extortion. He is inspired by HM Seervai, the great constitutional expert, who, when asked what why lawyers shouldn't charge high fees when clients were willing to pay, retorted, “If a man is willing to be robbed, will you be a thief?”  Mukul Rohatgi Rs 3 lakh to 4 lakh an appearance He instinctively knows the one point that will appeal to the judges. When clients go to Rohatgi, he will poke through the papers, ask seemingly random questions in a seemingly disinterested

manner. All the while, Mukul Rohatgi is looking for that one magic” point that can catch the judge's attention. Good at admission, but loses patience in long-drawn cases.  Harish Salve Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh an appearance A role model for all professionals on how to balance work with personal life. He works hard and knows how to enjoy the fruits of his work. Salve also represents the ideal mix between technical perfection and raw aggression in the court room.

Stories from the year of the Bangalore plague Theatre Counteract premieres its ambitious production Pestilences on Friday. The play is set in Bangalore and tells stories about the plague in 1898, but draws from Albert Camus’ The Plague for inspiration. We admit we came back a bit weary after we sat in on a rehearsal, but can’t quite point a finger at the adaptation itself. Funded by Alliance Francaise de Bangalore to mark the 100th birth-anniversary of the French writer, the play is being described as ‘physical theatre’ with the use of scenography through bamboo sticks. The historical relevance of bamboo sticks (given out for free by the government during the

plague) is interesting, but it didn’t work as a prop. Some actors who play multiple roles had no introductions, even by way of character building. The story is monotonous, despite some loud marketplace scenes. The use of dull, monochromatic costumes hardly helped. The humour is neither farcical nor slapstick, making the laughs, if any, rare. Some of the scenes, including one set in a make-believe boxing ring, were chaotic and indicated that the actors had hardly learned to work together smoothly on stage. Pestilences is playing at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore on November 16, 8 pm and November 17 and 18, 6 pm


 BBC trouble: Jimmy Savile, a presenter of children's shows on BBC faces police and court investigations as he is charged with sexually abusing children  Toyota recall: Toyota is recalling millions of its Prius and Corolla models to set right glitches in steering and water pumps. This is the second recall in a month.  Censoring web: The Chinese are bracing themselves for more web censorship as their government is expected to put pressure on web companies since a leadership transition is underway  DMK and FDI: All eyes are on the DMK as the party has not yet articulated its stance on FDI, which is expected to be put to vote in Parliament.  Gadkari stepdown: BJP president Nitin Gadkari could step down this week if the ongoing Income Tax audits of his Purti group of companies fail to clear him.  Thackeray illness: Maharashtra remains tense as Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray’s health has taken a turn for the worse. The police have been put on high alert in the state anticipating trouble from his supporters.  Cricket: All eyes are on the first match in the India vs England test series which began on Thursday, with India seeking revenge for its 0-4 defeat in England in 2011.  Yeddy trouble: Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa continues to stick to his stand of leaving the BJP, and more party leaders are expected to join him in coming days.

L I S T I NGS children’s corner

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food masala, paratha and green salad and more. Urban Solace, 32, Annaswamy Mudaliar Road, Opposite Ulsoor Lake, till November 18 30412940

 A delightful workshop: This weekend learn how to prepare food and easy snacks for your party. Learn how to make canapes, cheesy puffs, crispy croquettes, skewers, dips and more. You can also get your hands on recipes and get some tips on cooking. Cilantro, Kormangala, November 17 9686862500  Kids’ corner: Children can have a day full of fun and frolic this weekend at Atta Galatta. A story session comprising of monkeys, hippos, camels and kings will be conducted for the kids, with some song and dance and puppets. Snacks will be served during the show. The kids can expect a surprise or two to make their day even more special along with interesting stories being read out to them by Aarti Anand.The story telling session is suitable for children above four years. The story telling session will keep the children glued. Entry is free but prior registration is required due to space constraints. Atta Galatta, 75, 2nd main, 1st block, Koramangala, November 17, 4 pm 9632510126

 Thanksgiving special: This Thanksgiving dig into salads, main course and desserts. You can also carve a turkey at the live carving station with potatoes and stuffing. Team up your meal with sangria, beer and mocktails. Toscano, 2nd floor, Whitefield, November 18, 11.30 am to 4 pm 25939224  Asian Bonanza: Treat yourself to dishes like soups and salads, sushi and

music and Karan Joseph on keyboard. bFlat #776, 2nd Floor, 100ft Road Indiranagar, November 16, 8.30 pm 41739250

 Carnatic lovers head

maki rolls, Cantonese dim sums and more. The vegetarians can feast on mixed vegetables in black bean sauce, traditional stir fried vegetables, vegetable Thai curry and more. Shiro, UB City, 2nd Floor, Vittal Mallya Road, November 18 41738864

 Go Italiano: At the Italian Food Festival you can savour dishes like Tartare di Porcini trifolatie, quenelle di ricotta alleerbe, piadinetta, Tonne new age, Nuovo Pizzocchero, Risotto di spinaci, Ceciata con ritagli di pasta fresca, Charlottina di mele alla Vecchia Milano servita con gelato allavaniglia and more. Bene, Sheraton Hotel at Brigade

 Mexicana delight: Enjoy a lazy Sunday brunch this weekend as you gorge on dishes like burritos, soups, tacos, Mexican rice and more. Prices start at Rs 499 onwards. Mangrove, 5th Cross, 9th Main, Kalyan Nagar, HRBR Layout, November 18 9886028118  Add a lil of Punjabi tadka: Enjoy special Diwali platters this weekend. The platter includes paneer achari, Punjabi dal, chicken achari, chicken kali mirch, chicken lahori, dum aloo, sweet lassi, jeera rice, traditional chole

retail therapy Far Out Funk

 Sister love: Watch the Rao sisters, singers Suneeta Rao and Arati Rao perform this weekend. Suneeta Rao, the Paree of Pop music in India, maintains that Bangalore has always been her favourite city to perform in. Her sister, Arati Rao, with her band Kaya, has endeared herself to Bangalore audiences as a jazz singer for many years. Here is a chance to watch both the crooners come together on stage with their respective bands and leave you humming a mix of both genres and styles. bFlat #776, 2nd Floor, 100ft Road Indiranagar, November 17 41739250


here: Watch renowned Carnatic musicians Sri Ganesh and Sri Kumaresh (violin duet), Harikatha exponent Smt Vishaka Hari perform this week followed by a dance ballet by Smt Nirupama and Sri Rajendra at the Flights of Fantasy. Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, 16th Cross, Malleshwaram, November 17 and 18, 6.30 pm 23445810  Get your dose of funk: Catch Far Out Funk live in action this weekend. Their music is an amalgamation of funk, blues, R&B ballads and reworked pop standards. They have performed across cities in the country. Watch Floyd Fernandes on the guitars

 Sikkim’s young talent is here: Watch the young Overtime from Sikkim who will display their musical skills in the city. The band features Nash, Nikhil and Rick on Vocals and guitar. Watch them perform a collection of popular rock music, some of their own compositions and a few local tracks. Urban Solace, 32, Annaswamy Mudaliar Road, Opposite Ulsoor Lake, November 16, 8 pm 30412940  Small wonder in town: Watch Antara Nandi from Sa Re Ga Ma Pa fame perfrom live in the city. She has sung for many Bengali serials and has performed nationally and internationally as well. She was among the top three finalists on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2009. Phoenix Market City, 40/41, K R Puram, Mahadevpura, November 17, 8 pm 9986984878

 Add a little bling: The festive season has barely left and here’s your chance to add a dash of bling to your wardrobe. Choose from embellished necklaces, stone studded kadas, gold bangles and bronze and gold clutches. Prices start at Rs 169. Available at Lifestyle stores and

Indulge in aromatic Assam and Darjeeling teas. Enjoy flavours like Earl Grey, Cardamom, Masala, Lime and Lemon, Ginger, Green tea or enjoy an infusion of Orange Spicer, Black Currant and Lemon & Lime Zest from the house of Typhoo. Available at major super markets

 Sarees with surprise: This festive season buy exquisite designer sarees, Kanjeevaram silks and salwaar suits and avail upto 30 percent cash back on all purchases. You can also pick a scratch card and get lucky. Navrathan Silks, shop #85, MG Road, till November 18 41515162

 Home décor has a new address: Give your house a touch of traditional Rajasthan or a dash of contemporary. Choose from their Bohemian cabinet, mouse pad, sand glass, satchel laptop bag and more. Available at www, Buy

 Indulgent crockery: Gift your friends and relatives sauce jars, casseroles and more made of stone ware. These jars will add a hint of style to your house. Le Creuset Store, Shop No. 25, Lavelle Road, Till November 18 40926824  For all tea lovers:

 For that perfect look: Browse through French Connection’s bag collection that consists of clutches, totes, satchels and cross-body bags. You can choose from jewel tones, patent croc finishes, color blocked pieces and more. Available at all French Connection outlets

Gateway 26/1 Dr Rajkumar Road, Rajajinagar, Malleshwaram, till November 18 42521000  From the sea: Head to this seafood extravaganza and get yourself a coastal meal fix. Chef Prashant Joseph from the hotel will put up dishes like Norwegian salmon, yoghurt and Guilin chili marinated pomfret with spicy southern sauces. You can also relish tiger prawns served with lemon butter sauce, yellow fin tuna and more from the day’s catch. The Raj Pavillion, ITC Windsor Manor, Golf Course Road, till November 18 22264941


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theatre and art  Unselfed: Directed by Sujay Saple, the play is about seeing yourself in different situations and multiple selves. The entire play is based on ideas such as, for instance, what if you met another living, breathing you? Would you have a conversation with her, or run in the opposite direction? What if you found, your body lying in a corner of your house without the breath of life? Drawing from these ideas, the director has tried to create a performance based on experiences of being un-selfed. The cast includes Natasha Singh, Chandana Sarma, Ishwari Bose-Bhattacharya and others. Ranga Shankara, No.36/2, 8th Cross, 2nd Phase RV Dental College , JP Nagar, November 17, 7.30 pm 26493982  Aadhaara Chakra- a dancelogue: Set in a small village, this dancelogue is about the narrow alleyways of old Delhi, calls from vendors, loud music from temples, mosques and cricket commentaries that blend into an urban city. Directed by Jayachandran Palazhy, AadhaaraChakra a Dancelogue is performed by Attakkalari Centre for

talk picks

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Shreen Malani #104 Westminster 13, Cunningham Road, till November 17 22202232

 Group art show: Head to this group show to see the works of artists like Harshita Chaurasia, Sylvia Karpagam. Also some Vietnamese paintings by Nikita & Panchali are on display. Renaissance Gallerie,

 Art for a cause: At this solo exhibition Have Space. Will Grow by Urmila, you can see environmental issues portrayed in her works. Urmila through her work has tried to focus on the need for co-existence and also on how nature has

Newly released DVDs courtesy

become adaptable to humans by finding new and unusual places to grow. Gallery Five Forty Five , 6th Main, 4th Cross, HAL 2nd Stage, Indira Nagar, till November 20, 9886117375  Colours of India: At this art exhibition Rang Barse, you can expect to see multiple colours and hues depicting earthy Indian life, rural landscapes and fields and the incredible folk culture. Magnitude Gallery #

Vicky Donor Directed by: Shoojit Sircar Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam Price: Rs 508

Fire in Babylon Directed by: Stevan Riley Starring: Desmond Haynes, Sir Vivian Richards Price: Rs 300 The Dark Knight Rises Directed by: Christopher Nolan Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy Price: Rs 599

than these there will be B-boy workshops, DJ workshops and a beat boxing convention. This two-day festival is set to make you dance on your feet. The line up of judges includes B-Boy Thesis, DJ Blesone, Beatboxer Julius and more. For registrations log onto

140/13, 27th Cross, 13th Main, 3rd Block, Jayanagar, till November end 9900117201  Move Play Dance: Come and experience a dance movement therapy workshop where you move in the room with baloons, who act like your dancing partners. The workshop will be facilitated by Natasha of Three Left Feet. Atta Galatta, 75, 2nd main, 1st block, Koramangala, November 21 onwards 9632510126


Oh My God! Directed by: Umesh Shukla Starring: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal Price: Rs 269

Eega - Special Edition Directed by: Rajamouli Starring: Devadarshini, Aditya Menon Price: Rs 220

hip-hop festival  Hip-Hop Fans go crazy: Head out this weekend for Freeze, a hip-hop festival where you can see all five elements of hip-hop. There will be events like The Freeze B-Boy championship, Popping Battle, Beatbox battle, Rapping, Battle of the DJ’s, Street art Graffiti and more. Other

Movement Arts. Ravindra Kalakshetra, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Road, November 23, 7.30 pm


 Calling shutter bugs: Is photography your passion? Then head to the Darter Photography workshop this weekend. Explore landscapes, village life and the heritage of the Nandi Hills area. Get tips from experts and interact with fellow photographers too. Register at Nandi Hills, November 17, 6.15 am 9880006460

 Bread making workshop: Want to learn how to make your own breads in loaves, rolls and soup sticks? At this workshop you will be taught bread making techniques and how to roll them into loaves, rolls and soup sticks. The chefs will also share their bread pudding recipe. Priced at Rs 700 plus tax. Toscano, The Collection, 2nd floor, Vittal Mallya Road, November 21, 10 am 41738800

 For the little ones: Time spent at a mall is going to be more fun for children where they can learn painting, drawing, diya decoration, magic tricks, storytelling sessions, car racing, art and craft and more. Phoenix Market city, Whitefield, Mahadevpura, November 17 and 18, 11 am 67266333

 Charcoal painting workshop: At this unique workshop you can learn how to make your own charcoal and use it to make charcoal picture. The fee for the workshop is Rs 1,300. The tutor will take you through each step as to how you can create your original painting. Cubbon Park, November 24, for registrations call Krishna Prasad 9886394195

 Hone your DJing skills: At this mega event you can learn the tricks of the trade from DJs, music producers and sound engineers like DJ Ivan, DJ Vachan, Sreekumar “Poncho” Gopinadhan and more. You can also witness performances from DJ Rohit Kapoor, DJ Ivan, DJ Nik, DJ Vidhyuth and others. Browse through equipment that will be on display while you learn. Pebble, Princess Academy # 3, Ramana Maharishi Road, Bellary Road, Near Palace Grounds, Sadashivnagar, November 17 and 18 9886776967

 Bring out the singer in you: Undergo a proper work-

shop where you will learn how to sing in harmony, learn basic breathing techniques, vocal exercises and rhythm with an introduction to music notation. Fee is Rs 1,000 per month. Bangalore School of Music, November 17 41285017  Swimming Camp: If you love water and want to stay fit, join this swimming camp. There are beginner and intermediate levels to start off. Fees is Rs 4,500. Catholic Club, 22, Museum Road, till November 23 25599189

martial arts

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Festivals to revive the warrior spirit Way of Budo 8 Start training, even if in a small way, advises Sensei Avinash Subramanyam

ow is the season of festivals: Dasara, Rajyotsava, Diwali, Bakrid, Christmas. In the budo path all festivals are one: they represent a time of revival for the warrior spirit. It is the time to harness your strength, ward off evil thoughts, say sorry to those you have hurt, develop will and control as much as the ability to compromise and sacrifice. It is the time to sheath your sword and reflect on the true nature of the warrior. The warrior is not just one who fights but also one who is free: in picking up the sword he accepts life and death, joy and sorrow, success and failure as one. The true warrior recognises that there is no enemy really. He does not hate; he only performs his duty with honour and grace. For us, festivals can be occasions to adapt these values in modernday life. BODY: We usually eat excessively during festivals. Only to regret later. Instead, why not eat moderately: if you eat one


sweet normally, indulge and eat two, but not four. Health rather than binging should be your motto. Isn’t temptation the best time to develop control? We often say, “Let me start fitness once this festival is over.” But those extra kilos pull down rather than lift your spirits. Use the festival to focus on health. The auspicious energy will help you sustain what you have begun. SPIRIT: The true meaning of a festival lies in its spirit of joy. Laughter and joy bring about chemical changes in your body that lead to positivity and wellbeing. They can extend life, even avert bad events. Be forgiving. Become humble, say sorry. Make friends of foes. Festivals are the time to lose inhibitions and negativity. Doesn’t the mistletoe allow the man to kiss a girl during Christmas? In the right spirit, of course! One of the myths around the mistletoe derives from an ancient Scandinavian custom where, if enemies found themselves confronting each

other under the mistletoe plant, they laid down their weapons for a day, or declared peace for ever. Such rituals give you a reason to heal relationships. Often, though, we continue to practise these rituals but forget the spirit. Ancient Indian homas invoke nature as a resource to bring about harmony with the universe. The essence of Japanese tea ceremonies was to bring body, mind, soul together and in tandem with nature. Today, do they hold the same meaning? Can they bring about such harmony? What is the point of appearances not backed by spirit? A teacher once remarked to me, “Avi, the world today is all about ‘gido’ (way of the martial attire) and not ‘qido’ (way of qi, or energy)”. He was commenting on how the martial arts are now about attire and belts rather than attitude to life. So revive the spirit rather than the rituals. SOUL: Festivals have become occasions for consumption. We are lured by discounts, and spend on food, clothing,

parties and holidays. It is a time for excess, not for charity and sacrifice. For a change why not give to the less privileged a share of what you would have spent on yourself? Remember this is one form of training where no one needs to help you. This season, buy sweets and clothes for the poor. Since winter is coming up, give out sweaters and blankets. Think of those for whom the festive day might be no different from any other, and help them the best you can. MIND: Bring about positive changes in yourself. Then use the mind to follow all through the year what you have begun. Put on your desktop or phone a reminder about what you have begun. Don’t revert to your older self. Build discipline to do what is right for body, mind, soul and spirit. Be the warrior: Be alert and remember you have to celebrate many more such festivals. Live each day with joy, magnanimity and honour.

SELF-DEFENCE FOR WOMEN What to do when a man attempts to snatch your chain

Mugger reaches for your chain

Hold on to his hand as he reels in pain

Catch his wrist as you take your pen out

Twist his arm as you take aim

Without letting go, jab below the ear with the blunt end of the pen

Stab him on the arm with the pointed edge

Keep your balance as he collapses


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The shelves have ears Overheard at Blossoms, a collection of ‘funny, silly, ‘senti’ and nostalgic things people say’ in the city’s popular used book store, seems to have struck a chord with readers

PRACHI SIBAL ext time at Blossom’s, one of Bangalore’s most popular used bookstores, if you see a looming 25-year-old scribble hastily on his phone, be afraid, be very afraid. For, therein lurks Supreeth Srinivasamurthy, who has spent improbably large amounts of his time hiding innocently behind the shelves, waiting for some customers to utter that funny, uninformed or plain odd comment that would make his day. The results of his painstaking efforts are now up for viewing on Tumblr, and include some real gems that prove that his ‘research’ has paid off. The web page has since been crowdsourced, and the flurry of contributions shows that Supreeth was on to something, after all. A fourth generation Bangalorean, he started


GOD OF ODD THINGS Supreeth Srinivasamurthy prowling about in Blossoms

Overheard at Blossoms six weeks ago, taking his inspiration initially from the popular American website, Overheard in New York. Supreeth insists that his website is “something completely different. It may seem like people sharing their experiences at Blossoms, but it also about the city’s reading community at large.” Take a closer look, and it becomes clear that it is also about that community responding in its own quiet way to those it feels don’t strictly belong. The idea came to him after he quit his job in January this year to take a sabbatical. “I used to visit Blossoms three or four times a week and couldn’t help but overhear things,” he says. Supreeth isn’t in favour of expanding this to other city bookstores. “Readers here can’t be bracketed easily. And it’s unlikely that such serendipity repeats elsewhere,” he explains. The website takes a few predictable digs at the likes of Chetan Bhagat, and some contributions sound too pat to have actually come out of someone’s mouth, but Overheard at Blossoms does deliver on the laughs it promises. It also gives you a sense of one of Bangalore’s strongest subcultures, nurtured by a large book-loving (and bookstore-loving) reading population.

Overheard at Blossoms: A: Ok, so I’m buying 1984, Angela’s Ashes and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Any other recommendations? B: Prozac. *** Dude, do people really buy books on poetry voluntarily? *** “Do you have Perfect Groom?” (For Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy) *** A: “Really depressing book. The protagonist dies in the end.” B: “Oh, I think I’ve heard of this one. It’s an autobiography, right?” *** Ma: “What is this Fifty Shades of Grey?” N: “Amma, NO!” *** “I just loveddd all the Harry Potter books. Especially Emma Watson” - Slightly confused book lover *** “ Hi, I am looking for a book about cancer. Author’s name is Bejan Daruwalla.” *** “Dude, check it out, there’s a book based on Lord of The Rings movie.” - Cool dude to friend *** “The language and vocabulary in

Lolita is, like, awesome.” *** “Jackass, you tore it! Put it at the bottom of the pile.” *** “Arrey this is the book I was telling you about—How To Kill A Mockingbird” *** “Dei. First buy camera. Then buy photography book.” *** “That useless guy borrowed Shantaram from me last year and half the book came back underlined. Now if I lend it to anyone they’ll think I only highlighted all the deep bits, no?” *** “Ek aur D H Lawrence dijye please.” - Random aunty with groceries in a plastic carrybag *** Girl 1: Dude, like do you know like that the Twilight author does some witch stuff? Girl 2: Oh, yeah? Girl 1: Also, that Tanya bitch is so totally sleeping with Tanmay, man. *** “Show me one Kindle that smells like this store.”


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Chase ends in arrest of boy with his cash loot Sunil Sandeep, grandson of the statesman who built the Vidhana Soudha, returns to India from the US, starts a gunfight at the Delhi airport, steals cars, and then goes on to rob a bank in Bangalore

Last week: Former Karnataka chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah's grandson Sunil is intelligent and talented. He is awed by the lavish lifestyle of a visiting NRI uncle, who promises to help him get to the United States. Sunil leaves for the US against his parents' wishes, but when he fails to find proper employment, his relationship with his uncle's family sours. As his American dream evaporates, he soon takes to stealing cars in the company of George, a petty criminal. eorge found a part time job for Sunil, who turned it down, saying he wanted to return to India. Sunil believed his shooting skills would pay better in India, where both the people and police were more scared of weapons than their counterparts in the


US. George helped him with a little he stole a brand new Fiat parked near the money and Sunil took off from Dallas. Salar Jung Museum, and headed for He managed to smuggle out a pistol. He Bangalore. As he approached Bangalore, he felt was not so lucky when he landed in Delhi. When the police were about to a strange excitement. He assumed his seize his pistol, he fired at them. They father was in Hyderabad, but he was were taken by surprise. He ran out of the actually in Delhi. He wanted to see the Vidhana Soudha, which airport at lightning speed. his grandfather had He reached the car park, When the police built. Memories from his got into a car using a mascollege days crowded his ter key, and sped away. tried to seize mind. He remembered The police fired at him, his pistol, he how he had won a swimbut he escaped. fired at them ming event, prompting The police barricadhis friend Nandita to ed the roads and started checking vehicles. Avoiding the main hail him as ‘the pride of the college’. G roads, Sunil entered the city. He aban- Parameshwar, head of his department, doned the car, and stole another. He and Prof Lingaiah, principal of the colcrossed the Delhi border and drove lege, had lauded him as ‘a multi-faceted towards Hyderabad. Changing his num- talent’. His nostalgia ground to a halt when ber plate, he reached Hyderabad. There,

crime folio


Fabled ranconteur and Bangalore’s top-notch criminal lawyer brings you moving, sensational and bizarre stories from 40 years of his practice


his car stopped near Yelahanka. His tank had run dry. It was past midnight. With help from the watchman of a petrol station, he pushed the car some distance. He filled up 30 litres. Telling the petrol station he had run out of money, he asked the boys working there to go along with him so that he could pay them at his Sadashivanagar home. He also promised them some tips. Two boys sat with him as the car headed towards his house. As they reached Mekhri Circle, he pulled out his pistol, and the boys fled in fear. They registered a police complaint against him.

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Instead of going home, Sunil went to Majestic and took up a room at a lodge. Sipping whiskey, he went to sleep. The next morning, he roamed the bustling streets, listening to music on a Walkman. When he realised he had no money, he decided to rob a bank. He remembered Canara Bank had a branch in Rajmahal Vilas. He used to go there before he went to the US. Wearing a cricket cap and masking his face with a muffler, he entered the bank. Only a few customers were around. He took out his pistol and told them to put their hands up. Disconnecting the phone line, he went to the cashier and grabbed all the money. He then walked out, locking the bank from the outside. A building contractor called Mohan, who had arrived at the bank on a scooter, noticed Sunil fleeing. He noted down the car number and informed the police. Sunil drove fast towards Yeshwanthpur. In his hurry, he jumped a signal, and the traffic police got his car number, too. The bank’s cashier MR Subramanya and officer Srinivas were among those who had lodged a complaint with the police. Meanwhile, Sunil parked his getaway car in a field near Nelamangala. He started dancing to the


music on his Walkman, as bewildered tant than he is, and commit crimes to earn farmers watched him. The police soon wealth and fame. I decided to argue that Sunil was sufcaught up with him. Sunil fired at them and tried to speed away. The police chased fering from a mental disorder, and get him him. As he reached the MES quarters, Sunil to confess before the court. The first priorjumped out of the car and started running ity was to obtain bail for him. Sunil pleadwith the money. The police, joined by citi- ed with me to save him, and promised to reform himself. The court granted him zens, chased him. When they were about to capture bail. After he came out of prison, he comhim, he flung the currency notes in the air. pleted his BE course and started a garage, He thought he could dodge them that way. giving jobs to about 40 people. The sessions court convicted him. I When they saw the notes flying, some citizens and constables ran to catch them. appealed to the High Court. His father didn’t come forward to help, However, the circle inspecbut I filed a petition on my tor shouted at his men to He flung bank own. Prof Lingaiah, Sunil’s go after the robber. Sunil college principal, gave him gave in eventually as he notes in the air a favourable testimony. Dr had no bullets left. to distract his BC Chandre Gowda, The police seized his pursuers forensic and psychiatric pistol and the Rs 45,000 expert, confirmed Sunil booty, and marched him to the Sadashivanagar station. They booked was suffering from a mental disorder. I cited precedents. The High Court was conhim under the Indian Arms Act. I took up Sunil’s case. I met him in jail. vinced and freed Sunil. I recently came to know that Sunil He narrated his story and I concluded he was suffering from a mental disorder. I had died in a road accident. As I write, I read up books on psychology and consult- remember meeting him in prison. My eyes ed psychiatrists. What Sunil was suffering are moist. from was a disorder called grandiose deluSunil’s story concluded. sions, often referred to as GD. It pushes the Translated by BV Shivashankar patient to think of himself as more impor-


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31 Prof Good Sense

 I am fond of this guy but he already has a girlfriend. I have disclosed my feelings to him. Last week, he hugged and kissed me. He later apologised for his ‘impulsive’ act but did say he loves me. The problem is, his girl is still around. He is now telling me she is out of his life. I wonder if I should trust him. Charavi, Madivala. You need to consider seriously: Will he really call it off? Is he worthy of all the attention and love you are showering on him? You seem apprehensive about his earlier relationship. Why don’t you discuss your fears with him and see how best you can understand his mind? No relationship can flourish when there is anxiety and doubt. You still have the time to get out of this one. Think hard, and do what you think is good for you in the long run. Prof M Sreedhara Murthy teaches psychology at NMKRV First Grade College. He is also a well-known photographer. Mail queries to


1st Cross

Talk’s weekly crossword for Bangaloreans who know their way about town in December (9) 20 BS Yeddyurappa's new party (3)


4 6

7 8

DOWN Gowramma ____ : Azadnagar corporator who was the target of a Lokayukta police raid recently (11) Multi-cuisine restaurant at Indiranagar (7) The BBMP recently fined many restaurants in Koramangala for ignoring ____ bans (7) Veteran multi-lingual actor who passed away recently (9) Town on the Bangalore - Mysore expressway in the news recently when a car toppled into a ditch killing four people (6)

Last week’s solution Across: 1 Breast cancer, 3 Venkatappa, 4 Nilam, 5 S M Krishna, 8 Tamil Nadu, 9 Russell, 11 Hint, 14 Toit, 15 Canopy, 16 Cycle, 17 Manpho, 18 Fun world. 1 3

5 9

Across Restaurant famous for it's lobsters on Airport Road (7) The High Court recently warned this Government body of contempt action for permitting mixed use of properties (4) Theatre in Gandhi Nagar (7) One of the roads the BBMP plans

to relay in the next four months (5) The Prime Minister of this country was in the city recently (6) 13 Minister holding the Animal Husbandry portfolio in the Karnataka State Cabinet (1,1,8) 16 Renowned Karnataka playwright in the news these days (6,6) 19 Metal act which will headline NH7 11

Down: 1 Bangladesh, 2 Elephants, 6 Bull, 7 Sean Paul, 8 Tiwary, 10 Sixty four, 12 Manasa, 13 KSPCB.

10 Assistant sub-inspector who was recently suspended for torturing a minor orphan (5,5) 12 Popular dessert in Karnataka and the rest of the country as well (6,3) 14 _____ International Riding School will be the venue for the Bangalore leg of NH7 (7) 15 Middle Eastern restaurant on Coles Road (4) 17 The recent bird-flu scare has costed the poultry industry a loss of Rs ___ crores per day (3) 18 The Karnataka High Court feels that Bureau of Indian Standards certification is a must for drinking ____ (5)

That day, it was my turn to make a presentation to the class, with my lecturer watching. The topic I had chosen for myself was ‘the benefits of caffeine.’ All the points neatly arranged in my head, I proceeded to tell my classmates how caffeine was good for them. I concluded with these words, “Those were the benefits of cocaine. You can have a little but not too much.” It’s only when I noticed the stunned expression of my classmates did I realise that I had said ‘cocaine’ instead of ‘caffeine’! Naveen, student

First and last Being a ‘healthy’ child from birth, I tended to be on the plump side all through my childhood. Added to that was the fact that I thoroughly resented any kind of sporting activity. So it took a lot of will for me to take part in the compulsory running race in the third standard. I finally managed to complete an agonising 200-metre run, but was horrified to find that I was the last to finish. But just when I forced myself to smile as if nothing had happened, I heard the voice of a perplexed teacher, “Child, did you run with batch one or batch two?” Nitya Shree, student Share the humour in your life, multiply the fun! Keep those anecdotes coming to:

talk|22 nov 2012|

A 5-star Apocalypse The United States has always been fertile ground for doomsday prophets and apocalyptic cults, and it was only a matter of time before someone saw that The End of The World was also a great business opportunity. A clutch of ventures is now selling apocalypse-proof shelters to Americans. These are no holes in the ground: the air-tight underground structures put out for sale by companies like Vivos are furnished like any suburban home. Prices start at USD 35,000 (approx Rs 20 lakh) a


Swadeshi UFOs person, and those who are willing to pay more have the option of living in five-star luxury as civilisation crumbles around them. Going by the buzz online, it seems Americans are scared not just of garden variety doomsday scenarios like earthquakes, nuclear war and pandemics, but a whole range of exotic catastrophes like solar flares, pole shifts and the anticipated affects of Planet X/Nibiru (ever heard of it?). Like we always suspected, that country has way too much information.

If, like us you too have been disappointed by the severe lack of UFO sightings in India (or anywhere outside California, for that matter), here's cause for some good cheer. Units of the the IndoTibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) have reported over 100 sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects in Ladakh between August 1 and October 15 this year. They reported sighting ‘Unidentified Luminous

Objects’ by day and at night, some kind of yellowish spheres that appeared to slowly traverse the sky for three to five hours before disappearing. Army officials who studied the hazy photographs say these were not unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), drones or even low earth-orbiting satellites. According to our resident scholar Prof Doddabuddhi, this goes a long way towards correcting the historical disparity between the sightings-rich West and the UFO-impoverished rest.

Slapstick tragedy When Sandalwood director Rishi organised a press meet recently to promote his yet-to-bereleased film Kotlallappo Kai (She ditched me, boss!) a rude shock awaited him. His lead actress Nayana Krishna made a surprise entry with some ‘women's rights activists’ in tow, and proceeded to abuse and slap him in full media glare. The back story supposedly goes thus:

Rishi, Nayana and a few others in the crew had pooled in money to fund the production. The film found few takers among distributors, and an impatient Nayana wanted her share back immediately. The director asked her to wait till the film was released, but to no avail, as it turned out. Wonder what’s Rishi planning to do next. Sanyas?


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