Johann Hari’s Dubai

April 16, 2009

Man, where did he find this stuff? If you haven’t read Johann Hari’s epic piece on Dubai, do so immediately. It will tell you everything you should know about this city. I love the city (how can I not?), but what it is today feels deeply wrong.

Ps. I now know how Sudhir Mishra felt after watching Anurag Kashyap’s Dev. D.

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Deja Vals

April 16, 2009

I had a feeling I’d seen this before. The New Yorker article on Peter Zumthor took me there. And then, of course, it hit me. All works of art that seem vaguely familiar but can’t be placed must be by Pratt Institute alumni. That’s my school, if you must know.

And yes, I stand in reflected glory.

My debut in Open

April 10, 2009

I write for Open, a current affairs news and features magazine, published weekly. On page 11 of the April 11-17 issue (the Dhoni cover), I have a small comment piece on the Shah Rukh-Aamir Khan rivalry, which ‘ended’ this week. I argue that we needed a more witty confrontation than “my dog’s name is Shah Rukh” and “I’m the number one actor, not him”.

Much enjoyment came. Reads like a blog post, and I get to be snarky.

Ps. I did not write “watch this space”.

Nai Roshni School

April 10, 2009

I’m absolutely chuffed that an old classmate, Samer Shahid, has his own band. His sounds are pretty cool. And damn, I still can’t get over the fact that he sings. Also, the lyrics are his.

This tells me everything I need to know about the absolute uselessness of conventional schooling. The one guy I thought would go on to win a Nobel or something ended up running his dad’s shops in Sharjah.

Anyway, here’s Samer and his band.

Of course. And here I was, thinking most Arab drivers didn’t have a brain. In an otherwise neat story (Saudis race all night, fueled by boredom), an anthropologist tells the writer, “They are mostly young Bedouins who recently moved to the city, and whose lives are marked by suffering and self-destructive behavior”.

Erm, not exactly. I’ll tell ya what’s wrong with these gits. In Arab countries, driving is to a man what shopping is to a woman. You can’t do anything else. So the boredom bit is right. And self-destructive more or less nails it. Here’s how it panned out back in my time: in Dubai, the authorities had to ask people not to steer their car with their feet. Sit back and take it in. Their feet were on the wheel. On the wheel. On the highway. Where the upper limit of 120 kmph is a minor inconvenience. I get the heebie-jeebies just recalling the last time I saw an Arab leaning back with a coke in his hands, a leg on the dash and another on the wheel. He was in my rear view mirror, honking with his heel. Not boredom. Just empty.

Messing with music

February 11, 2009

Writers are picky about their copy. I wonder how Rahman feels when he hears a radio station theme tune added to the start of his songs.

Why honk when you can blind?

February 11, 2009

The Mumbai Police has this advice for drivers: Don’t honk. Using your dipper is more effective.

In theory, this is wonderful advice. Car behind flashes. Car ahead notices, and gently steers to the side.

Here’s how it actually works. Mumbai’s roads aren’t lit well, and the flash from behind resembles a Maglite in a dark room. Car refuses to move. I anticipate road rage and a few accidents before they scrap this useless suggestion.