Thursday, January 29, 2009

Purely Random thoughts...

1. I was talking to my driver on route to work. He let on that he was trained on a truck. He was a "cleaner" for 5 years, and the driver normally coaches the cleaner in due time. As we've all seen in Hindi movies, the cleaner (or qhallaasi?) addresses the truck driver (in our thriving on stereotyping movies, usually a Sardarji) with the loving Urdu epithet "Ustad"! I'd of course forgetten this, as they don't make trucking movies any more. So I asked him what was it that the cleaner calls the driver... Master, Guru...? He said, "Ustad". Meaning Teacher or Guru. And this is common across India apparently. Whether it's a Punjabi trucker or a UP-ite or Rajasthani or Maharashtrian, they ALL use Ustad! That is what India used to be before people got extremist about language, culture etc. Glimpses of what India's core was about (& hopefully will remain) gladden the heart.

2. So Simon Beaufoy can see the development from one visit to another in Bombay. Can't find the darn link (please submit if you find it, Wiki style!), but it talks about the new flyovers & skyscrapers that keep coming up in Bombay everytime he visits! A visitor to Pune can gawk at the spanking new, Excellent road from the airport Kalyani Nagar, or at the changed face of Baner in just 12 months!!! The Commonwealth Youth games have indeed given the city, specially the roads & the railway station a facelift! But our media, businessmen & celebrities seem to have a very selective view of development. They can't seem to give vilasrao deshmukh any credit for Bombay & Pune, nor can they talk about this man in their newspapers or interviews. Don't they read good newspapers or good blogs??? That zinta chick I used to like. Thought she was all gracious & forgiving. And definitely not on coke as the idle malacious gossip seemed to suggest, but now I'm unsure man...! I wonder what Ness' granny would think of her...!

3. Pune Times main page feature yesterday: braveheart srk undergoes surgery again! Err... Is afsana ahmed even aware of the number of surgeries that Sachin Tendulkar or other sportspersons have undergone? What is this insistence on featuring one particular person, or one particular field till the reader is sick of him/it? Is this the fair, unbiased, thought provoking journalism they set out to do...?

4. Slap spin specialist Harbhajan Singh gets a Padma Shri!!! Abhinav Bindra does a little better, but remarks that it was strange that fellow Olympic medallists Vijender Singh & Sushil Kumar were left out of the list! I've lamented the lack of a list revision/error correction mechanism, the lack of transparency with respect to the selection process before. Is there a fixed quota or something per discipline/per year? Strange... very strange...

5. Mediocrity: I've been conditioned not the like that term. By writers, leaders, thinkers, philosophers, corporate citizens, share market billionaires, by the media & training firms that survive around the lives of such people... So when I look around me & find mediocrity being celebrated instead of excellence, it bothers me. From our popular film awards to our television shows, to people like ashutosh winning bigg boss, from among almost equally unworthy housemates... mediocrity today is all pervasive. The question I want to ask myself (& hoping you can answer for me) is this:

Is Not Celebrating Mediocrity an (our much maligned in India today) Elitist argument?
Is celebrating the perceived utter mediocrity of guys like srk & ashutosh, a more Pro-Equality, Anti-Perfectionism argument? And thus more worthy?

I think so, but I also like the push for Excellence. Does the winning argument in the Universe centre around Balance? Bloody tightrope man!

If we brand perfectionism or the constant pursuit of excellence as elitist or even ruthlessly capitalist, and correctly ascribe the relentless pressure felt by perceived non-perfect people such as those who are obese, dark or academically or fiscally average, to it; does that make a more moderate, tolerant approach better? One that has place for not just the fittest, but the fattest as well? Can this argument be extended to socialism & much maligned communism as well? What about Seva Cafe's brand of freecycling? (Link needed, kindly provide)

I would like the brains of Annie, NativeIndian, Sagarone, IHM, Trailblazer, Yaamyn, CAT, Animesh, Nimmy, @lankr1ta, PhoenixRitu to try & answer these questions for me please.


  1. Last June, I was asked a similar question by someone much younger and this is what I told him:

  2. Thanks Sagarone.

    Someone much younger than me? Or you?

    I did go thru your post. It does subscribe to my erstwhile stance, but doesn't address my quandry though...

    "What about be the best you can be"? Does "can" denote full potential or does it suggest comfortable achievement?

  3. India is a land of mediocrity and we take pride in celebrating it...How else can you explain Sania Mirza being awarded the Padma Shree and the 2 Olympic Bronze winning boxers not? The reason were are mediocre is because we are satisfied with having little...Also, most of us think that the words 'compromise' and 'perfection' are interchangeable...

  4. I just wrote a longish comment but I dont' know if you will receive it or not. But thanks for writing me via regular e-mail regarding that Acorn post. Now another question occurs to me: are you saying that Ashutosh the film director is mediocred? The guy who made Swades??? Please explain, no need to write at length, I am really interested in hearing why you think his work is mediocre, if that's who you are talking about! and i am not really a fan of srk, the the silent, several minutes long scene in Swades with him in the train approaching he station and buying the glass of water is magnificent. No???

  5. Hey Michael,

    Sending you an email now.

    Have you noticed how people scatter when a point is made that they can't answer...? :-)

    NO!!! Not Ashutosh Gowarikar! He's a favourite with me! I meant that winner of 2 halftrack Indian versions of reality shows!

    (Swades scene brought a lump to my throat yes, but it was the scene not srk. I will admit that this was one of the 4 movies that srk has acted in, but if only he could get rid of his trademark overt mannerisms. Which to be fair, he did try in Swades.)


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