Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shantiniketan 2008

We went to Shantiniketan on December 21st to Shantiniketan for Poushmela. Baba stayed at the house of a student of Prabal Dasgupta.

However one of the best places to stay, is an artist village "Aaro akash"

coctact no.

Uday - 9830181462

Suchandra - 9830378472 (after 2:30pm)

Rent: Cottage Onek Akash costs Rs. 600/-; cottage Dokka costs Rs. 400/-; cottagae Ekka costs Rs. 300/-

The fair was interesting.

Since there was not enough space in that house , we stayed in a nearby guest house - Prakriti Bunglow @ Rs 1200.

While coming back , we heard this Pala from Ramayan in the train which is very funny! Very enjoyable indeed!!!!

Rabindra sangeet tune


I don’t mean the silly asses of Bollywood who are hired at fancy prices by political parties to draw crowds during elections: they do draw crowds but not votes.

What I am talking about are stars in their galaxies, millions of miles away from us, which, most Indians believe, have mysterious powers over our destinies. No sane person could possibly think it can be so but we Indians stick to our faith in the irrational. I often gnash my teeth and say to myself: “We are a nation of donkeys, forever hee-haw bullshit. I too am an ass but I bray out of tune.”

After denouncing everyone, I turn to see what psephologists, learned analysts of voting pattern, opinion polls, exit polls, etc. say. They contradict each other and leave me no wiser than before. I also turn to astrological forecasts: Venus, Mercury, rahu, ketu, Saturn, Uranus, Sagittarius, sun, moon etc. I don’t know anything about their movements, but our learned jyotishis keep a vigilant eye on them and get messages from them. They have different interpretations of these astral sparklers. They are masters of double-speak and couch their forecasts in a language that can be read in different ways. Our newspapers used to give them wide coverage. Now most of them have stopped making guesses about election results because they have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to know what is in the minds of electors when they go to polling booths.

The recent elections in six of our states were good examples of how hazardous it is to make electoral forecasts. However, a newly launched magazine which claims to be “the only magazine on earth in 14 languages”, in its issue of November 24, had four renowned astrologers make guesses about the elections to be held in six states. (I don’t know why it left out that podgy Parsi, Bejan Daruwala, who begins his prognostications with Sri Ganeshyae Namah and gets everything delightfully wrong, but nevertheless continues unabashedly.)

Let’s start with Laxmandas Madan, the editor ofBabaji, and a book on how to forecaste earthquakes. We have crossed swords before. He is very gussa with me.

He got the ouster of Vasundhara Raje as chief minister of Rajasthan right, but his forecast about Ashok Gehlot (“Gehlot not next Rajasthan CM”) was wrong. Now Gehlot is the Congress chief minister of Rajasthan.

He got the Congress victory in Delhi right, but side by side, he also forecast that if the Congress lost, Sheila Dikshit will be made governor of a state. Sheila won and is chief minister for the third time.

He got Uma Bharati’s becoming chief minister of Madhya Pradesh woefully wrong. Poor Uma even lost her own seat.

Yogesh Aillawadi got every forecast wrong, including Sheila Dikshit. Ajai Bhambhi and Sunita Chabra were marginally closer to the ultimate outcome.

Reading these forecasts after the results were out was great fun. I came to the conclusion that most forecasts are wishful fantasies of forecastors. I had to keep my finger crossed till the morning the results started coming in. I relaxed when I heard of the Congress victories in Delhi and Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are a long way away and Kashmir a case apart. I had an extra celebratory drink in the evening. And slept soundly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


At times, I marvel at my naïveté. I read the morning papers carefully but find nothing very amusing in the news items. But no sooner the same item is reproduced in the Funny Old World column of the Private Eye magazine, coming out of London, I see its funny side. This one was on the prevalence of belief in numerology in India. Numerology is one of those hocus pocus superstitions like astrology, Vastu, Feng Shui, gemology and many others, which have many takers even among the highly educated. They believe that if you change the number of your house, or add an extra letter or two to your name, your fortunes will take an upward swing. I have two names in mind: Jayalalitha added an extra ‘a’ to her name to become Jayalalithaa; so did Shobha De, to become Shobhaa. There is no evidence of their benefiting by the additional a’s. Perhaps it improved their digestion and reduced gas in their bellies; only they can tell. But this news item, which appeared in The Hindustan Times on September 18 this year, is about belief in numerology in Bollywood, which is singularly asinine in its belief in the occult. It reads:

‘“It’s true there is no scientific proof whatsoever that numerology actually works”, film producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah admitted to reporters at a studio in Mumbai. “But it is a vital science here in Bollywood. Every studio now-a-days employs numerologists to add, subtract, or rearrange the letters in film titles, and in the names of actors, so that they are astrologically sound, because this is a high-risk business with millions of dollars at stake. That’s why I support plans for Bollywood to open an official school of numerology to train practitioners, just as we train our directors, actors and film-makers.”.......

Chronological order