On Marks and Board Exams and Life

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agoge

It was called agoge in ancient Sparta, the inhuman education and training regimen that little boys were subject to in order to make them  impervious to hunger, fear and pain, a regimen that included having boys fight boys to death so that the weak may be weeded out.

Or as anyone who went to school in the late 80s and early 90s in Bengal would say, school life.

Suicides were common, and so were heart-attacks and nervous breakdowns. Four successive days of two papers of a hundred each was considered to be perfectly humane because, how else, were children going to handle “the real world”? I came from a school, particularly notorious for what was just known as “The Pressure”, where most of us were made to fail in our maths half-yearly in class eleven, because and this was the stated reason, the class ten scores had given us whippersnappers an inflated idea of our intelligence and we needed to be cut down to size.

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Of Potty and Parenthood and Piku

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AB

 

[Has spoilers]

Piku is a good film. No this is not me trying to damn with faint praise. Piku *is* good. Even more than good, I would say it is courageous. In a world of  cookie-cutter behemoths , to invest in a film that is paced slow, driven by characters, and set in a non-Oye-Oye-Shava-Shava socio-cultural milieu, requires commercial cojones, and props to everyone associated with Piku, from the big B and the Choice P to the director to the guys who actually put money behind it, for providing us with something that I would not hesitate to use the term ‘risky” to characterize.

However it is not great. But it could so very well have been. It comes  very close, several times as a matter of fact, to touching something that is deeper and darker and universal, but almost, whether intentionally or not I cannot say for sure, it draws back into a comforting, crowd-pleasing but ultimately unsatisfying green zone.

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A Travesty

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Bhai is innocent. Bhai roxx.

It’s not sunk in for me yet. A movie that began with a hit and ran for thirteen years has finally come to an end and I can’t believe how that climax played out.

First of all, Bhai was not driving the car.  He said so. He also said he is a virgin. I mean come on.

Second, he was not drunk. His blood just turned into alcohol. Or as it was explained by a forensic expert “Sharaab aur khoon main apni marzi se peeta hoon…dabake” (Wanted, 2009)

Dabake dabangg dabangg dabangg….

Third, his driver was driving his car. He said so himself. I mean isn’t that obvious? Driver…driving…car. And if it wasn’t him, and I am not disputing what the court said because I fully respect the law, it could have been any one else.

Raina’s nephew. Kambli’s friend. Hindu patriarchy. Maoists. Media saazish. Sab mile hue hai. Amit Shah.

I don’t know. But definitely not Bhai.

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About My Writing Habits And Some Other Stuff

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Yesterday, my friend Ritwam Sen, as part of a comment thread on Facebook, asked me about my writing habits. Since I had been asked that question a few times before, in different contexts, I thought of writing a Facebook note. A few of you commented on that note wanting to know more. So here is a full blogpost on the subject, arranged listicle-style.

1. I write all the time. When I am out on a walk, sitting on my potty seat, driving to work, watching a cricket game right after my Fantasy Power Player gets out, utilizing any idle CPU cycles of my brain to think about my story.The biggest part of writing, I have found out, happens when you are not writing.

2. I practice active reading. That is when I am reading a book, I am just not only drinking in the story. I am also taking time to think about its structure, flow, and the way characters develop and speak.  Why do some sections drag? Why do I like this part? How does the author transition between events? Understanding this allows me in turn to write better. Also, based on the genre I am writing in, I do some genre-specific reading before I put finger to keyboard. It gets my brain into the pace and mood of what I am to write. Kind of like net-practice before a game.

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On Net Neutrality And Airtel Zero and Flipkart

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When I first read about Flipkart’s deal with Airtel Zero, I was disappointed as I have always thought of Flipkart as a progressive new-age hep company, and this seemed to be a Net Neutrality violation 101.

[Link]

Airtel on Monday launched a service called Airtel Zero. On the face of it, this looks like just a regular value added service from a telecom operator. It is meant for app developers and web service providers. The plan, as Airtel explains, is to allow app developers or web service providers to pay money to Airtel so that these apps and services can be accessed by Airtel users for free.

This means if an app pays money to Airtel, consumers on Airtel network will be able to use it without paying any data charges. For example, consumers who have Flipkart installed — Flipkart is rumoured to be a company paying Airtel money to be part of the Zero plan — will be able to access the app without paying data charge

Net neutrality, for those of you who don’t know and I am assuming that’s none of you, is the principle by which internet service providers cannot discriminate on the basis of origin or type of traffic when it comes to delivery to end-users (i.e. to you and me who pay for internet access). In other words, a service provider like Airel cannot discriminate, in terms of price or speed, between traffic from website A and website B. By discriminating between traffic to Flipkart/any of the business entities that sign onto their Airtel Zero platform and those that do not, Airtel is most definitely violating the principle of net neutrality.

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Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!—The Review

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bb

[Spoiler-Free]

There was a time when detectives were…I don’t know..detectives. There would be a crime, a murder or perhaps a few, there would be suspects, and there would be a resolution. Now with Moffatt and Ritchie’s reinventions of Holmes, detectives can no longer just recover a missing will or bust through a carefully constructed alibi or solve a particularly intractable conundrum. Now they have to tango with maniacal super-villains with evil designs to alter the course of history just to keep their detective certification active.

It indeed is a tough world.

When I heard that Byomkesh Bakshi was being “rebooted” by Dibakar Banerjee, I was excited. The cinematic adaptations of Byomkesh had, almost all of them, been extremely tepid, and that includes Satyajit Ray’s “Chiriakhana” which, despite the genius of its maker, could only scratch the surface of the darkness of the original source-material, and Rituparno’s last film “Satyaneshi”, which looked like it was not totally the finished material when it was released, thus setting the bar of expectations for a Byomkesh movie extremely low.

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Goodbye Leonard Nimoy

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Spock_performing_Vulcan_salute

Our imagination does not impose mortality. That’s why Sherlock Holmes comes back from Reichenbach Falls,  Superman does not really die at the hands of Doomsday, and Spock, well he overcomes the wrath of Khan.

The real world though is different. No matter how loved you are, you still die. And there is no way for your character to be retconed or brought back, much though the fans might clamor and plead.

That’s just the way of the world.

So goodbye Leonard Nimoy. Goodbye First Officer Spock.

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