The code of Omerta…by Pritish Nandy

Does the media protect its own, even its blackest sheep? Do big movie stars create their own gangs so that they can manipulate the film industry and keep it under their absolute control? Do politicians have an unwritten rule that whatever they may say against each other in public, no one will ever cross the line and they can plunder the nation together? Do builders work together, even as they compete in the marketplace, to create an artificial pricing mechanism that ensures huge profits for them? Do gangsters carve out their own territories and ensure that no one enters another’s area to commit a crime or claim a share of the loot? Do pharma companies form secret cartels to further their business interests often at the cost of endangering public health and shamelessly profiteering? Do sporting heroes decide ahead of a match, in deals struck with bookmakers, who will win and who will lose?

These and many such questions keep coming my way these days, particularly on twitter where anyone can ask anything of anyone. There was a time when I confidently said no, such things don’t happen as a rule but yes, there are occasional aberrations. Then came a time when I said yes, some people do it, others don’t. You can’t tar everyone with the same brush since the world is made up of both decent folk and crooks. Now I say I don’t really know but it looks probable and there’s enough evidence to suggest so. The laws of randomness, whatever Nassim Nicholas Taleb may say, don’t appear to be working that well, certainly not in India, where the bad seems to be outwitting good pretty consistently.

That’s possibly why foreign investors love India. If they make a right choice when buying into a company, they stand a good chance of buying into an entire business. Investing bottom up is much tougher unless you are lucky enough to find a great pro. Everywhere you look, the gangs are at work, digging their heels in and discouraging new entrants. It’s the old culture of the Licence Raj still at work. Why do you think star kids break in so easily into movies? Why do you think the kin of politicians get tickets to fight elections while far better candidates are just ignored? When was the last time a new newspaper was launched successfully by a new entrepreneur?

Knowing the ropes means everything today. If you don’t know the ropes you won’t get past the first bouncer. That’s why those who succeed in one business quickly use their contacts and experience to grow into others. But the biggest business of all, as the charming Niira Radia has shown so succinctly, is the business of bringing people together. Call it what you will, it seems to be the only way to get things done. Every third person you meet in Delhi is an Asif Zardari, a Mr 10%. Or a Ms 10%. There’s no gender distinction any more. They all promise you the earth. A licence. A permit. An introduction. A lucrative deal. A big story in the media. Even a seat in Parliament. They make it seem like the easiest thing in the world.

Most of them even get away with it. Radia has been admired for years for her reach and influence, her ability to get things done. Even rival business groups sought her out without worrying about conflict of interest. It’s not just telecom. Rumour has it she can deliver on any front if the price is right. There was another guy who claimed he could fix any deal anywhere. And, sometimes, he did. He shared his time between Parliament and Bollywood parties and claimed proximity to the biggest stars, the most influential leaders, the richest industrialists. He loved picking up fights with anyone who refused to pamper his outsized ego. And yes, he could be very nasty and so decent people usually sidestepped him. Then he picked up a fight he couldn’t handle, with his own political boss, a master strategist in his own right. In less than a month he was on the street, forlorn, forgotten, ignored by the very people who once fawned on him. Now no one wants him any more.

That’s what happens when you break ranks. Retribution is swift, punishing. Remember how the very people who created and lionised Harshad Mehta threw him to the wolves? Remember the long years Azharuddin and Kapil Dev spent in the wilderness? Did you see the isolation of Vivek Oberoi? Do you think the CBI will ever get Niira Radia to spill the beans? Her survival depends on her keeping her lips sealed. Like Raju of Satyam has done. Like Raja who has quietly slipped into anonymity. Or Lalit Mody who has vanished overseas. Or Kalmadi, who is so desperately seeking to be forgotten amidst the melee of new scams breaking every day. And whatever happened to Ashok Chavan? Nothing. Nothing ever will.

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135 Responses to “The code of Omerta…by Pritish Nandy”

  1. To the above I would like to add possibly one of the better takes on the Radiagate issue. An article that came out in the Hindu by Sidharth Vardarajan,

    Welcome to the Matrix of the Indian state –

    As squeamish schoolchildren know only too well, dissection is a messy business. Some instinctively turn away, others become nauseous or scared. Not everyone can stomach first hand the inner workings of an organic system. Ten days ago, a scalpel — in the form of a set of 104 intercepted telephone conversations — cut through the tiniest cross-section of a rotting cadaver known as the Indian Establishment. What got exposed is so unpleasant that several major newspapers and television channels that normally scramble to bring “breaking” and “exclusive” stories have chosen to look the other way. Their silence, though understandable, is unfortunate. Even unforgivable.

    After all, the tape recordings of Niira Radia’s phone conversations have come to light against the backdrop of the recent Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on the allocation of 2G spectrum, which demonstrated how the rules were arbitrarily bent by the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, in order to favour a handful of private companies at government expense. Among the beneficiaries of Mr. Raja’s raj were Anil Ambani. And also Ratan Tata. In one of the tapes, an unidentified interlocutor asks Ms Radia, whose clients include both Mr. Tata and Mukesh Ambani, why “you people [i.e. the Mukesh Ambani group] are supporting [Raja] like anything … when the younger brother [Anil Ambani] is the biggest beneficiary of the so called spectrum allocation”. “Issue bahut complex hai,” Ms Radia replies. “Mere client Tatas bhi beneficiary rahein hain (my client, the Tatas, have also been a beneficiary).”

    Apart from telecom, the tapes also provide valuable insight into the gas dispute between the two Ambani brothers. This was a dispute in which Mukesh Ambani made skillful use of the “gas is a national resource” argument with a pliant media even as he used his influence with individual MPs to try and orchestrate a massive tax concession for his company from the same national resource, Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin natural gas.

    In an interview to NDTV and the Indian Express on Saturday — two media houses that have so far avoided covering the tapes — Ratan Tata has called the recordings a “smokescreen” designed to hide the real truth. He is wrong. Utterly wrong. No doubt we know very little about who leaked the recordings and why these were cherry-picked from a wider set of 5,000 recordings the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities made as part of their surveillance of Ms Radia. But even if the story they tell is partial and designed to expose only a fraction of the corporate lobbying which has been going on, we would be naive to ignore the contents of the tapes or be dismissive about their significance.

    In the science fiction film, “The Matrix”, Morpheus tells Neo, “You’re here because you know there’s something wrong with the world.” The Matrix, he says, is the world that has been pulled over everyone’s eyes to blind them from the truth that they are slaves. He offers Neo the choice of a blue or red pill. “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill … and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

    The Niira Radia audio archive loaded on to the Internet by Open and Outlook magazines last week is the red pill of our time. It reveals the source codes, networks, routers, viruses and malware that make up the matrix of the Indian State. The transmission of information, also known as “news”, between different nodes is vital for the system to work efficiently. The news is also the medium for reconciling conflicts between different sectors of the establishment. If you hear the recordings, you begin to understand the truth about the Wonderland that is India. No wonder there are many amongst us who would rather swallow the blue pill. For once you go in, the only way out is to keep digging. And yes, the rabbit-hole runs deep.

    So deep, for example, that we hear a Member of Parliament, N.K. Singh, who is meant to represent the people and the state who voted for him, brazenly batting for a single-man corporate constituency, Mukesh Ambani.

    In one recording, Mr. Singh tells Ms Radia of the firefighting he is doing on behalf of Mr. Ambani to ensure a tax concession the finance minister had announced in the 2009 budget for gas production is made applicable retrospectively. Ms Radia says she has killed news stories about the Rs.81,000 crore super profit Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) would make were that to happen but Mr. Singh is more concerned about what happens in Parliament during the debate on the Finance Bill. His fear is that if Opposition MPs make a noise about a largesse being given to one company, the finance minister would be on the defensive and the prospect of extending the concession retrospectively would not even arise. Mr. Singh accuses BJP leader Arun Shourie of being on Anil Ambani’s side and reveals how he has managed to get Mr. Shourie replaced as the BJP’s lead speaker by Venkaiah Naidu. How well does Mukesh know Venkaiah, asks Mr. Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar on a Janata Dal (United) – JD(U) ticket. Ms Radia replies that a senior RIL executive, P.M.S. Prasad, knows Mr. Naidu well. “Then I am going to get him flown in today to talk to Venkaiah,” Mr. Singh says, “because if he is the first speaker, and he already takes a party line, then it will be very difficult for Shourie in his second intervention, to take a different line. Then we have to orchestrate who will speak, you know, this is the immediate problem right now. Because, frankly, if this doesn’t go through, this tax thing, then it’s a major initiative taken that then fails to materialise.”

    We don’t know if Mr. Prasad flew down and met Mr. Naidu as N.K. Singh wanted him to do. But the BJP leader’s speech in Parliament two days later has this telltale suggestion: “The Bay of Bengal has become the new North Sea of India. Government departments should not be seen quarrelling whether mineral oil is a natural gas or not. Whatever concessions [are] needed for infrastructure, exploration … are connected with the energy security of the country.” This was a veiled reference to the Petroleum Ministry’s letter to the Finance Ministry asking for natural gas to be given the same tax concessions available to oil retrospectively and not just from the New Exploration Licensing Round (NELP) VIII round which would exclude RIL’s KG basin output. A request the revenue secretary had turned down.

    In other recordings, we see journalists and editors, who are meant to report and analyse what is going on objectively, offering to become couriers and stenographers and foot soldiers in the war one set of corporate fat cats is waging against another. We also see a political fixer, Ranjan Bhattacharya, whose USP once was his familial proximity to the Bharatiya Janata Party, seamlessly open a line to the Congress and go about his business as if election results don’t matter. He boasts about his proximity to Ghulam Nabi Azad and his ability to send a message to “SG, boss”, a reference to the Congress president. He then quotes Mukesh Ambani telling him the Congress party is now “apni dukan”. Mr. Bhattacharya may have been lying about his influence but then the formidable Ms Radia is anything but a dupe.

    We also hear in the tapes an iconic businessman, Ratan Tata, who today makes sanctimonious statements about crony capitalism and the danger of India becoming a banana republic, lobbying through his PR agent, Ms Radia, for A. Raja to be given the Telecom portfolio.

    If the allocation of spectrum by the Manmohan Singh government in 2008 and 2009 is one of the biggest scams in independent India, then the involvement of businessmen like Ratan Tata, Sunil Mittal and Mukesh Ambani in lobbying for their choice of telecom minister when the UPA government returned to power in May 2009 is surely a very important part of the back-story. But it is a story none of the journalists who liaised with Ms Radia during this time chose to report. More than the squabble within the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) or between the DMK and the Congress, the involvement of India’s biggest companies in the process of cabinet formation was the story that should have been headlined. Ms Radia talks of Sunil Mittal and AT&T using Times Now to push out stories about Dayanidhi Maran being the frontrunner for telecom and Mr. Raja being in disfavour. Her own strategy appears to have been to use her relationship with Barkha Dutt and Shankar Aiyar to get the opposite message out onto news channels like NDTV and Headlines Today.

    Instead of using Ms Radia as a “source” for covering the DMK, her role, and the role of her principal clients, in trying to push for a minister who was seen even then as tainted ought to have been exposed. But then Delhi is a hothouse of power, and proximity to power deadens one’s reflexes and weakens one’s nerves. What Indian journalism needs more than anything else today is distance. From both politicians and industrialists. It is never too late to swallow that red pill.

  2. Sharmila,

    Can you find another picture of Pritish Nandy? I mean something that looks like Shilpa Shetty or Deepika Padukone?

    This one is so bright on the top! 😦

    • I quite like this picture:)

    • This guy…Mr. Nandi must be a heavy(chain) smoker…

      Reader,
      Cover his Top if too bright….send him a wig, a hair piece or something… 🙂

      • Sharmila does not agree with me. I think he looks like a smiley with a beard like this one 🙂

        If I was the ruler of India, I would decree a law against such public exhibition. No man or woman shall be permitted to display a moony top.

        But what to do. If Sharmila feels it’s okay swell.. so be it… I still think she is too kind…

      • I agree with MonaLisa. No woman goes the mooney way.

      • Women don’t go bald like men with shiny Mooney top over their shoulders…
        Those Ifs and Buts are the magic words… yet only problem we face….fulfilling our desires….. 🙂

  3. “Everything and Everybody has and comes with a Price Tag attached.”….. What better example does anyone need other than this..to prove it..!?
    In previous post Mr. Nandi claimed that only 10% elite mass is corrupt which creates havoc in Indian Economy…now that number seems quite doubtful…he needs to do more research. May be he should swallow The Red Pill and take a dip into that endless… deep black hole…

  4. Sharmila,

    I like the political acumen of Raja. He has achieved what all the politicians across the country had failed so far – caused a vertical divide among the print and TV media, and triggered a real-time media war.

    The print media published un-authenticated, un-corroborated and selective transcripts of the tapes, safe-guarding their own journalists in the process.

    Practically every politician in the country is smiling with glee at the embarrasment of Burkha Butt and the media barons.

    The first mole that Raja let go was that Radia knows about his deeds. Secondly, being the telecom minister, he had easy access to all the telephone conversations anywhere in the country and outside. The tapes were released the moment corruption began to be discussed by the media.

    The tapes and the media lobbyists are the smoke-screen that Tata was referring to. One part of the media is having a field day at the cost of another. The real corruption issue is camouflaged by the media war.

    Now, here is something that is completely off the news networks:

    I am told by a Chennai based Chettiyar that the DMK families have purchased islands off the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia. This needs more investigation. I was hoping that Raja would use the money in his constituency, the Nilgiris.

    Actually I am all in favor of corruption if the money benefits me or my town. After all 90% of the money in the market is cash and unaccounted.

    • Money acquired through corruption is more useful than the taxes paid to the government.

      • Well, agree the smoke screen and corruption seems to be taking a back seat. Looks like a gag pulled by the dmk.. Of course they own properties all over s e asia.. In chennai the Marans own the largest chunk in the most expensive are of boat club.

      • Corruption money serves none besides the corrupt..

      • And money paid as tax serves no one.

        At least, if Raja’s kith buy property in the Nilgiris they’ll make roads, bring power and employ people who’ll spend the money in the market. That is some real cash-flow instead of the tax money that is spent in subsidizing lives in Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal…

        BTW, a massive multi-plex and mal is coming up in place of the Liberty Cinema. A front company is established in Jaipur for the purpose.

      • Mr. Nandy is being unfair. I refuse to believe that corruption is bad for the country. It may be bad for the government in the center. But whose center is the government? So, why care?

        If corrupt people are punished by the law then what’s the difference between India and other countries? What’s the use of democracy?

        I have not seen a happier person than a corrupt politician. He glows like an angel with wings. I come home feeling heavenly after meeting a corrupt politician. His assurances are guaranteed, he delivers on his promises for the right amount, and he can be trusted with your family and children’s future.

        Do you remember Rajiv Gandhi when VP Singh and Goenka’s Indian Express were painting the town red with the Bofors leaks? Rajiv was glowing with peace and divine grace. He even called an opposition leader “Mr. Groucho” in the parliament.

        Corruption spreads joy and peace. (Ask R.K Laxman – no one has been more inspired by corruption, and he made us laugh everyday for 30 years.)

        Those who earn money by hard work are never happy because they have to pay taxes and feel patriotic. Bad Karma, I’d say…

      • Example of how a corrupt politician delivers on his promise:

        Pay a politician INR 1,25,000 and get admission to any public school for your child. Also, get a ration card free.

        On the other side, no institution in the world accepts the Income Tax Certificate or TDS to admit children in schools!

        So, now you know… Spread the Good Word… Call me if you need unregistered GSM numbers… 🙂

    • Reader,
      🙂 Corruption sounds like an art and every corrupt an Artist….the way it is described in here…!
      Lol…every country should learn it from India and follow that norm for their flourishment….at least of a particular class of ppl….if not all…or The Nation in particular…
      Glad you are supporting and encouraging corruption and showing The Path to ignorants… 🙂 There are all kinds of ‘ Guru ‘ like ‘Love Guru’, ‘Sex Guru ‘ etc etc….now we got one more Guru….A “Corruption Guru”…… 🙂

  5. My aunt and uncle, who owned a Krishna Temple in Belgaum, never read a newspaper or saw a TV in all their 90 years of life.

    I am yet to see a happier couple!

  6. Aishwarya Says:

    The media surely didnt see this coming! They just got ripped and sent through a shredder, squirming on a hot grill, and for the first time realizing how it must feel to be on the defensive.

    Raja might now be relaxing on an isolated beach, being fed grapes by a gaggle of giggly chicks, sipping cocktail off a frosted glass with a little umbrella on top, and having the last laugh. If he gets bored, he’ll check the barbecue and flip the steaks. When it comes to the media, he likes his meat well done. And if its Barkha, burnt to a crisp.

    What a politics-media circus this is!

    Insane!

    • I loved imagining Raja this way Aish..

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Lol…I loved imagining it too, Sharmila… Was thinking of what these people would possibly do on their private islands with all the swindled money…there’s just SO much! They could make a little mountain on the island with all the currency notes or they could throw notes into the barbecue pit if they run out of coal…endless possibilities… 🙂

    • Aishwarya ji, and Sharmila,

      Do you both really think Raja is so ‘Vain’?

      I don’t know. I am new to Tamil Nadu.

      But I think, he may buy a textile mill or leather factory, not 15000 sarees and 500 shoes!

      But you know better… let’s wait and see…

      🙂

      • My imagination know no bounds! A tax payer is being taken for a ride, might as well enjoy it!

        😦 🙂

      • Aish,

        I am not very clear about the economics of taxation. Sharmila can say better.

        I have never paid any direct taxes in India. Never earned enough when I was in India before 1991.

        All the same, so far as I know, less than 10% of the population come under direct income tax. Rest is collected from VAT.

        In other words, the common man has to decide how much money is required to meet his needs plus the taxes. Keep what he needs and pay the rest for taxes.

        The tricky part is the 90% cash required for real estate deals and other permanent assets like wife, children etc.

        One way is to buy depreciating consumer durables (about 35% pa) and convert that value to cash. Stuff like cars are used in India for 20 years and more so this can be easily achieved.

      • Wife? An asset? (Or a depreciating durable?) You surprise me, R… Kidding. 🙂

        My taxes are handled by a CA and all I know is its a substantial amount. Finding out where that % of my hard-earned money went is like asking a teenager what he did with his/her pocket money…

        TDS, property tax, house tax, road tax, VAT,…drat!

      • Well, I am not good at financial jargon. I was going to say ‘Fixed Asset’ but I thought fixed was not very apt…

        You need to change your CA if you are paying all the taxes. Do you know if Sharmila is moving to India in the near future?

      • Why is this question asked ?

      • You are right. It is time for a change. Mr. Vijayan is sixtyish, balding, and grunts…when he is not snoring…

        🙂

      • Have you considered someone a little younger? And female? Sharmila may fit the bill, give or take a few months…

      • Aishwarya Says:

        The question is…if her bill will fit me…:)

        Just kidding.

        Sharmila is a dear friend and thats all I always want it to be…

      • Thank you dear Aish.

      • Actually this the best sort of friendship to have. A doctor, an Engineer and a CA. It’ll be a good team till a lawyer joins the club.

      • What would a lawyer do?

      • The lawyer is the cat among the pigeons…

      • I knew they were chatty…not catty…:)

      • Chatty or catty, to me, they are very English…

      • I know how much you love the Queen!

        We’ll get a dog…like those 6 at Ooty…keep the cats away!:)

      • The Queen who rules a Kingdom in the name of democracy. Yes, I love hypocrites.

        Where can we get a good breed of dogs? German Shepherds?

      • I thought the pups at Ooty are German Shepherds. They only need to be trained to snap and chew at black robes…:)

      • Hang on! I am losing the plot.

        I said we must have a club of professionals (excluding lawyers)… Ooty is not on the map… The club shall be based out in the forests of Nagarhole.

        Since Sharmila loves wild tigers, we can leave a few of polite ones outside her tent at night. Hope she doesn’t use Axe perfumes.

        The rest of us need to find German Shepherds or equivalent.

        A great dane would be good, but I doubt there are any original wild ones left on this planet. Most are bred in-house by humans.

        How about wolves? Indian wolves are exceptionally talented like Indian bureaucrats. They do not hunt like African or American types. They form a committee and outsource the job to monkeys.

        I think that is fine. Lets find wolves.

      • Ok, I need to go back and read the previous comments and then figure out what am I doing in a tent, using AXE ( of all things, I would not touch it…prefer Armani, Mania ) and having a Tiger outside the tent on the prowl…

      • We’ll wait for the full moon…

  7. Sharmila,

    Note that there will be no more media outrage against Raja anymore. No one knows how many more tapes he has made during his tenure as telecom minister. One quack from anyone and he’ll leak them starting on his own channel the Sun TV.

    Besides, those tapes are hot property. Poilticians across party lines will pay anything to get even with the unbridled run of blackmailers in the media who call themselves the conscience / opinion makers of the nation.

    Kalmadi, for instance, would give anything to Raja if he can pull down Arnab Goswami’s sneakers! 🙂

    These are probably the dying moments of yellow journalism. Raja has shown the way to all the politicians.

  8. And I believe the opposition’s call for a JPC is aimed at the PM, not Raja. Raja is safe.

  9. MonaLisa, (and Sharmila)

    Please read between the lines of all that I have said earlier.

    Every community and nation is run by the jurispudence that prevails in the citizenry. The judiciary in India is a mockery of social justice.

    A scandal like this in the UK, US or Japan would lead to a series of bureaucrats getting sacked and high level politicians resiging. It has occured there many times, specially in Japan.

    But those happen because the electorate and the nations as a whole have an efficient and transparent judiciary.

    In my country, justice by the government for the people does not exist. Justice is doled out by the local mafia of Panchayats, police constables, goons and politicians who are paid by the land owners and industrialists. Schools, colleges, cinema halls and all infrastructure are built by local corporations, not the central government.

    I am not going to pretend that that is not the state of affairs. The rich man rules.

    The central government is a myth. Their jobs is to provide defense, social justice, equal opportunities. They have never succeeded in any of it.

    They are trying to defend the borders of the country when the enemy is purchasing land in Bengaluru and Madurai. For example, I do not think a country like Pakistan is going to implode. It will not go down without triggering at least some of it’s nuclear arsenal. That may occur on Israel or on India. The central government has no spine to prevent that.

    They are having diplomatic discussion with China when chinese artillery is sold and purchased by Maoists in Bihar.

    They are acquiring and de-notifying land at their own whims and fancy.

    If any one believes that the central government is keeping the nation together, he/she is sadly mistaken.

    I am not going to pretend that my life, property and money are protected by the central government. It is not. It is protected by the local market in my state and its machinations. That is the truth.

    Real economic, political, social and ethical justice at the level of the citizen in India comes at the local level, not from the judiciary or governance. That is the reality. People know enough not to wait for 3 generations to expect a decree from the court.

    At the local levels justice is swift and smart.

    If my MP brings money from Delhi and spends it in my constituency, he is welcome. I don’t want to know how he got it.

    PS: Any one ready to stake on this, 10:1 – Kalmadi will win the next election from Pune if he stands for it in 2014. Ditto A Raja from Nilgiris.

    • Reader,
      I certainly read between the lines and wrote my comment ….
      You need to loosen up and need not take everything in its literary meaning….take things lightly sometime…will ya..!? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • i totally agree with you..our governments of all generations have failed on this front..providing basic amenties to all its citizens..you can imagine the condition of some of parts of india that nitish provided some basic amenties in bihar and mind you bihar is still very backward,poor,progress deprived and in need of wholesale changes..people reelected him as cm with record margins.politics is such a sham in this country..good people are few and even they think everybody is doing it why not me..hope things improve after all we have been hoping for it since independence..

    • So who is to be blamed for re electing these scums over and over? The corrupt in other nations are not given a second chance but we seem to pride in even getting them back to the same job. This is now become a hereditary issue.

  10. There is one chance of my prediction going wrong.

    In the current turmoil, the media and the administration are under enormous pressure to maintain their sanity and balance.

    If this pressure continues for some more time, they will crack.

    That will lead to mid-term polls at the center, somewhere in Q4 of 2012 or Q1 of 2013. No government can survive with a hostile administration and media.

  11. Is the Mr Fixit that Pritiish Nandy refers to in his article (the one with the political and Bollywood cotacts) one Amar Singh?

  12. Okay. Lets lighten up a bit.

    Here is Raja spotted in Hotel Sun and Sand Mumbai…

  13. MonaLisa,

    I am this type of a guru… join the school at your own risk…

  14. The end is usually inspirational… never mind my style…

  15. 🙂 Reader,
    Habitually…or as an obsessive compulsive thing…first you jump the gun at me …no matter how witty my comment is…and then you realise it after a while….omg…! What would have you done to me if we are face to face then…!? Haha…seems…you definitely would chop my head…! Boy…! M I crazy to take such risk to join your cult and make you my Guru…!? 🙂

    • MonaLisa,

      I chop heads first, but I usually say sorry after that…

      • Reader,
        When was the last time you apologized to someone or anyone….at all !?
        Haha…funny…! Always ‘sorry’ to turn you into ‘Dead Meat’….bro….! 🙂

      • I am the Ugly in the trio Good, Bad and Ugly… I shoot first and speak to the corpse.

        The dead stay dumb. So my sorry is not wasted.

  16. Mr. Nandy and Sharmila,

    It has been more than 30 years that I read Mario Puzo. Actually I have never thought the Sicilians could impress anyone older than a teenager in India.

    What is more surprising, I never imagined that they provided a working model for our undergraduates in Arts and Aesthetics!

  17. For those who may not be aware:

    OMERTA is the code of honor in a mafia.

    In India it is officially called, “The Constitution of The Republic of India”

  18. I am so busy criticizing things that I have forgotten what I want!

    • 🙂 What do you want….?!….Reader…!

      • First, I want to remember what I have forgotten what I want. Second, I want what I remembered.
        Third, I want to know how to prevent this from happening again.

        Systematic Reader is… 🙂

  19. Just when I thought that life on earth is a waste of time, here comes a good news…

    National Holidays on 7,8,9,10 in my place of work! Wow! Yessssssss….

    This would never be possible if the world was not divided into countries with different beliefs…

    Thank God for so many religions and so many holidays! Yippeeeee!!!

    I shall go on the yacht for watching sharks and dolphins… there are no tigers in the ocean… so I’ll be the only endgangered species… Yessssssss…..

  20. Forgive me if I am sounding like a Bernard-Shaw-Socialist. I hate to work actually.

    I have to do 40 hours a week in the office to be eligible for printed currency in the bank. Of these, I spend about 20 on your blog, which is a good thing.

    But the other 20 are such a drag… I wish the Indian government would allow me to print currency at home. Life would be so simple. I could employ some IT Engineers to print some for me and keep the rest.

    We need the IT Engineers for this. Don’t object to that. They have the knowledge. I don’t want the knowledge – thats such a pain. I just want some acceptable paper money with Gandhi’d smiling face of apporval.

    Don’t grudge me a little bit of happiness. I have a right to be happy like everyone, na?

  21. Whoa, Reader!!! I am riding a wave of cynicism and affront!

    This is what Mr. Nandy’s post is doing to me.

    First reading kicked an Enid Blyton’s Famous-Five-like curiousity. Second reading graduated me into one of Don Corleone’s sharp shooters and a third reading is making me feel kind toward Osama Bin Laden.

    One more reading would probably turn me into a Maoist!

    • Ofcourse, I know why this is happening to me.

      It’s because I don’t have fixed values. I have to depend on someone to do the honors. I will believe this today. I will believe something else tomorrow. I am so good and amiable and flexible.

      In fact I am so democratic that I am sure not even a mammal.

      The meek shall inherit the world. I am waiting for my turn. My CV fits the bill.

    • wow…! you get an up gradation every time…!
      We can make a movie with Reader in multiple roles… with the title “Reader and his sextuplets”….. 🙂

    • What is a sextuplet? Hmmm? Sounds like gender discrimination.

  22. I am in an awful mood this morning – all due to a sensitive stomach. The guy who cooks my meal toasted the omelete and roasted the bread.

    See, this is the result. One lousy breakfast changes my religion. I have gone so mad that I have decided to vote against Sonia Gandhi in the next election. Unless my cook prepares something better for lunch…

    • Hmmm….. I thought you are a vegetarian….never knew you are an eggetarian…!
      So you have voting rights in India…!! And…you are not in ME and you are not NRI…

      • NRI have voting rights that are exercised through the embassy. It is very well organised too.

        But elections are not a serious event out here. NRI are used for financing elections back home.

        Before the last parliamentry elections, Montek Singh invited the NRI businessmen to the embassy for a chat on the economic liberalisation packages that he would be rolling out if the Congress came to power and either Sonio or Mammo became the PM. He has kept his word.

        In one fortnight, while the country was deciding whether to vote for secularism, religion or development, the NRI were registering holding companies in Noida, Indore, Bhopal, Jamnagar and Gudgaon.

        So NRI enjoy a lot more than voting rights.

  23. Two days of weekend begin from now. (Don’t they know its Friday?)

    From Saturday, three days of biometric attendance in the office and then five days of national holidays after that.

    “O, Lord, my Father in heaven! Do I really need to work for three days?!”

    I say what, I am going to meet His Excellency, The Ambassador of India in our embassy to lodge a complaint.

    I have been cheated.

    20 years ago, in 1991, when I came to the middle east, I had specifically told my sponsors that I am here only for the money and my only other request was a nice sounding designation so that I could keep my hairstyle and wear a T-shirt to the office.

    Note this: Nowhere in the offer letter, appointment order and the contract agreement is it written that I should work. Work? Duh… I never said I am going to work! If I wanted to work there is plenty of it in India. Why would I come here to work? So silly, na?

    Besides, no one in India believes that an NRI works for money. Money just falls into our accounts from the skies. I don’t want to hurt their feelings. They are my countrymen. I love my country and I am proud of it’s rich and varied heritage. So, Your Excellency, please spare me from work.

    I know, I know, I know. This is all my bourgeois karma from the past birth.

    My hypothalamus tells me that I was a Russian Golden Eagle in the last birth…

    Once, in the summer of ’28, while returning from Madagscar to my home-base in Siberia, I stopped by a poultry farm in the middle east and I was seduced by a pretty young chick. My wife found out only after a sneaky lawyer filed a paternity suit against me. The wife was very hurt and annoyed. She cursed me that I shall spend my next life in the desert counting chickens.

    So here I am… 😦

  24. Splendid news on the personal front.

    I am just informed that I have to conduct a management workshop for the executive directors at the Intercon on Saturday and Sunday! So, that takes care of 2 out of the 3 working days.

    I told you my dad in heaven listens to me, though he was never too good at mathematics. I said 3 days and he booked me for just 2. That still leaves one more day to attend the office.

    “Hey, dad! You missed one day! Can you arrange something for Monday? Or should I call on mom?!”

    Well, I guess, I am asking too much. The line is going beep, beep, beep… methinks he has slammed the receiver…

    ===

    That’s it from me, for now. I must catch up with my little afternoon power nap of 6 hours.

    I cannot sleep comfortably in this sofa, I wish I had brought my office chair along.

    See? I suffer such hardships… life is not always bold and beautiful…

    See you soon…

    • Congrats Reader..happy to be sharing your good news .. good luck 🙂

    • 6 hr. power nap…!? wow..! that must turn you into a He-man , Superman , Spider man , Batman, Tarzan or something..!? 🙂

      • You think 6 hours is less, na? I know. But what can we do?

        People in the office want me to stay awake sometimes. I have to oblige.

        In every life, one has to sacrifice something for the good of the people. I am doing my bit – I keep my eyes open when someone is talking to me.

  25. 🙂 🙂 Reader….! You are so….impossible…!

  26. Reader’s Arabian Nights and Other Stories:

    This happened long ago – a really long time ago – I mean even before I was born, between my last death and this birth.

    I was sitting on one of the balconies in Heaven. God was standing next to me. We were watching the general condition of humans on earth and other lives in different galaxies.

    “Egad! ” I said to God, in my perfect Queen’s English.

    “Yes, son?” said God.

    “Can you teach me how to pray?” I asked.

    “Why do you want to learn to pray?” he asked.

    “Just tell me if you’ll teach me or not,” I said, firmly, “Or I’ll learn it when I go down to earth”

    “Is it time to go?”

    “Yes, ” I said, “I was told this morning that I have to pack my soul for a trip to earth. I am due in India sometime in March.”

    “We’ll miss you” said God.

    “Miss you too, ” I said, “But hey! Chill. I’ll be back before you can say asta-la-vista baby!”

    “Asta whaa?”

    “Never mind, ” I said, “That’s a slang from another universe called America”

    “Really?”

    “Don’t you know?”

    “Tell, tell”

    “Never mind boss, let go, ” I said, rather impatiently, “Tell me, are you going to teach me to pray?”

    “But why do you want to pray?”

    “Because, everyone is praying, look there…” I pointed at the earth. There were masses of people in Temples, Churches, Mosques, all praying in unison.

    “I know, ” said God, “But why do you want to pray?”

    “I don’t know, ” I said, “Just thought I’ll learn it in case I need to pray when I am down there….”

    “I am sorry, son” said God, “I can’t teach you how to pray.”

    “Hey!” I said, “Don’t pull that on me!”

    “It’s true son. I don’t know how to pray. I have never prayed. It’s something that my creations do. I don’t know why.”

    “You kidding, right?”

    “Do I look I am kidding?”

    “No ” I said, “I can’t tell. You need to shave more often.”

    “You’ll find your answers when you are down there. Have a nice life.”

    “Thanks and ciao ” I said, and I left the balcony to prepare for my journey.

    And soon, it was time for me to leave God alone.

    I left the place in March 1964. I am not sure anyone missed me up there.

    On the contrary, I am told that, after I left the place, there was a small celebration hosted by some mean corporate managers in white robes…

  27. Reader,
    what were you in your last life..? A Brit…!?Hmm…who tortured ppl of India then..!?
    Hahaha…corporate meano…s prevail everywhere…Hell or Heaven… 🙂

    • Last life? … Hmmm.. I suspect was a Russian Golden Eagle… before that I must have been a bedouin ass… before that I think I was Ghenghis Khan… Before that I could have been a Lotus in bodh-gaya… before that I would have been Shukracharya… Before that I might have been Agasthya… Before that I should have been Zoroaster… Before that I was Gautama…

      I am only sure of two.. Reader and Gautama!

      • Wow…! you ahve surity of too many things .
        If you were not a Brit in your last life…How and why were you talking to God in Your Perfect Queen’s English..!?
        I thought you must be a Brit torturing Indians in last life …so in this life You are born in India….! (Mode of Torture is just jchanged…That’s all ..!) 🙂 🙂

      • I have been practising English ever since I was a bedouin’s ass… No one speaks English better…

        You are right about the torture.. Whenever I speak English, God and all his minnows wrinkle their foreheads and look upward… But I know there is nothing up further.. so I am safe…

  28. Sharmila, MonaLisa, Aishwarya, Saurabh and All EF,

    I am away for most part of today and tomorrow.

    Reader lives here but he is not in at the moment….

    Back soon…

    • Aishwarya Says:

      Reader,

      Have a fun-filled day…see you soon…

      • Thank you. You are a sweet heart. Only one who replied to this… I hate to come on the blog and find the same static condition. I usually log-in at least 3 or 4 times a day!

    • Reader, enjoy.. I am sorry the page was static, was at the movies, khjjs.. More about it later, see you soon

  29. Reader,
    It is “You, Me and Dupree” kind of situation….
    Don’ know who is Dupree here…! hahaha….
    No wonder you feel static…. 🙂

    • MonaLisa,

      There was a Hindi film on the same theme, titled,”Atithi Devo Bhava” starring Ajay Devgan and Paresh Rawal (as Dupree).

      I am Dupree because I always feel like a guest and a visitor, even in my own house of one!

      I don’t make any commitment that requires me to move out of my bedroom.

      My goodwill knows no bounds. I wish joy, peace and prosperity for all, so long as I am not asked to pay taxes or sign a pay order.

      I love people who work, so long as no one asks me to do the same.

      I don’t believe anyone who expects anything from me, not even God.

      • Explanation, line 3: Bedroom because thats where I’ll be found dead by someone finally…

      • Reader,
        Are you sure it is “Atithi Devo Bhava”….?
        I googled it and look what I found…!!!
        ” Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge “…..!! 🙂

      • Yes, thats the one. Atithi kab jaoge… not devo bhava

    • Or perhaps you are suggesting that I am Dupree on Sharmila’s blog too?

      You are probably right about that too. I am like a nightmare that doesn’t go away.

      May be I should restrain myself to one comment in the morning and one in the evening…

      Something to seriously think about… I am a loose canon… and I need to stop firing every which way I can… hold my horses so-to-speak…

      • 🙂 Reader,
        I think I was referring that to myself…this blog belongs to You and Sharmila….She owns the blog and You are the soul of this blog….! Me…just a(…… )who tease you many times picking a point from your posts… 🙂
        Don’t know about your real life role but here you give out more that one can ask for….so nothing more to ask for…
        I believe with birth or before than every body’s destiny more or less decided…and so does the place,time and mode of dismissal too…then how can you say so confidently that someone would find you in your bedroom when you are gone..!? Is it not possible that we come to see you in the Hospital when you are unwell..!? Or are you hoping for Cardiac Arrest in the middle of one night…!? sorry…! if you find it too blunt… usually ppl don’t talk about Death…somehow…!
        In my case somehow I am never afraid of Death and always ready to go since my childhood….age,place,time,mode are not so important…..then…
        Glad…! One doesn’t have to pack the bags and carry any kind of baggage in that journey… 🙂

      • Glad I am around in spirit..lol

      • Okay, peace.

        Who said you are Dupree? Don’t act like a girl! I like the fighting, arguing MonaLisa. One bout everyday keeps me health, wealthy and wise.

        No one is Dupree in Sharmila’s EF.

        Children talk only of life, old people talk only of death. Middle age is able to talk of both and still maintain the balance. Thats what I do.. mostly…

  30. Do sporting heroes decide ahead of a match, in deals struck with bookmakers, who will win and who will lose?

    No 😛 , they just have to decide who wins. Wrong operator = “and” , should have been “OR”

  31. Aishwarya Says:

    Reader,

    Thank you. Sweet.:)

  32. Aishwarya,

    I wouldn’t go that far…

    I am not as complex as it appears in bits and pieces of comments on a blog…

    • Its a song baba…and how far is ‘far’ anyway?:)

      Good Night, Reader… Lovely song…Rafi’s voice is pure magic…

  33. I’ll log off early. Very tired. Uunable to focus. Exhausted teaching the chickens to sing in the workshop all day. Tomorrow is another day.

  34. Ninad- good point and I bet in the spirit of true sportamship, one will never let the other down.

  35. Khelenge Hum… is a commecrial disaster. People are not even waiting for the TV premier.

    Seems to me, it is either a very good movie or a really bad one. Can you put up the story-line here so we can make a guess?

  36. Regarding the first impressions of the movie ‘Khelenge hum…”

    The title is too long for the theme, unlike Lagan, Shaheed, Upkaar, Hakeekat, Kranti etc. which were one word titles for Freedom/Patriotic films.

    Marketing

    Actors make lousy saleman. Rajnikanth was right about that when he said he was not comfortable with it while addressing the press conference on Robot. Actors should not be called for marketing.

    Most part of an actor’s sales-pitch comes from the effort he / she has put into her role unlike a balanced thematic approach of a director or a producer. As a result the target consumer is left guessing whether the theme is more important or the actor.

    Each movie is a new product and the marketing strategy sells the USP. Selling the actors often works for a mindless thriller or a comedy, but it seldom works for a patriotic freedom struggle except if the leads are known for those kind of roles like Manoj Kumar.

    If ‘Khelenge Hum…’ is aimed at the children born after 1947, then it should contain more than how to make bombs and dislodge a government.

    Amitabh and his son are already known for signing films that commercialize political and unethical violence. AB himself became a megastar on the anti-establishment band wagon.

    ‘Khelenge Hum…’ can be a lifetime’s inspiration for the stone-throwing kids in Kashmir, Darjeeling, Naxals and separatists, if a million DVDs are distributed among them. However, it is not the right time to distract the rest of the country that is looking ahead and engaged in building the nation. A consumer cannot be asked to pay hard earned money for feeling grateful. He/she will gladly pay for knowing what to do next.

    Well, that is my first take based on the feedback from some of AB’s die-hard fans.

    • Explanation last line: ‘Die-hard’ as used coloquially by most of his educated fan club. Not the real one who admitted it in the court during his trial and is now awaiting execution for the attack on Taj on 26/11.

    • I believe commercial filmstars do it for money. They are not inspired by themes or social awareness.

      For instance, I doubt if AB would allow his grand-children to call his wife, Jaya, a bum… even in humor, as his character Auro does in the film that got the National Award for creating social awareness… Jaya Bahaduri would kick their butts if they did that…

      • Why Jaya Bachchan only..!? Anybody wouldn’t allow that in one’s family…
        Sad thing they tried to en cash a less known disease/condition and succeeded….unawareness of masses made them successful selling whatever….
        A young child’s awareness about his birth status and trying hard for his parents to acquire marital status for them on his death bed is so absurd…trying to unite them is fine and understandable but this…!!!! so out of way and unheard of a child…
        They could have found a better way to prove and favor social norm and tradition….but I think it works this way for Indian psyche…all melodrama and emotional blackmails….and to win tax rebate and National Award…! Awesome…!

        Just an opinion….

      • These days grand-mothers don’t even like to be called old!

        Todays grandma is wrinkle free and comes in exotic wigs of different colors. Ask Shobha de! 🙂

        Calling her a “Bum” is an abuse by any standards in proper families.

        May be accepted in the US and UK where they are mostly watching TCM or standing in queue for a free hamper with animal rights activists.

    • Thanks for the feedback, just put out my review, I partially echo the same thoughts on marketing and on the sensitivity of kids with guns..

  37. Reader,
    To be abusive or disrespectful to elders is not accepted or encouraged by any culture in the entire world…India is not the Trade Mark for that…and rest of the world is not full of uncultured wimps either…
    Calling names to anyone is very derogatory and distasteful thing to do…friends,family ….or whosoever…
    A woman of any age has rights her own ways…what to ask about it to any one…!? Why to thrive on anyone else’s opinion…unless to think rationally and decision making power is totally hampered….and judgments are completely deluded…

    • India doesn’t have a Social Welfare or protection for the aged, if thats what you are aiming at.

      Aged people – grandfathers in toupe or grand mothers in Sophia Loren type designer wigs – are not a common sight in India.

      So, India is actuallly way too backward and retarded by your american standards.

      Indians still like to have grandparents around, even when there are full time baby sitters in the house.

      Among those who can afford, house keepers, cooks, cleaners and others are given quarters outside the house like ancient aristocratic castles.

      The rights of grand parents, women or men, is slowly coming into public focus because of the cost of living. If they are poor, they are no good.

    • Indian cinema and it’s music world has always lagged behind the US in development (or decay depending on how one looks at it).

      Even back in the ’60s when grandma stories were popular in India with Lalita Pawar and Shashikala playing good and bad grandmas in the family, the US was already dancing to the foot-tapping music of Ma Baker and her gun toting sons. Mexican Americans and hispanic grandmothers were way ahead (!) of the rest of the world.

      • But reader, the genre of music in India is so different to the rest of the world, it would be unfair to compare it to any other country. Can US come even close to our carnatic and Hindustani or for that matter even endless melodies. We have never been good in rap or reggae or even jazz for that matter.

      • True.

        Indian classical music was never designed for sellling in the market as albums. Thankfully it was never a business enterprise.

        That is a good sign in a way and there is a learning point.

        If something has to be preserved for posterity, protect it from the attention of commercial wizards in Jerusalem/ White House. In other words, guard it from money value.

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