Oct 152015

Interesting read on why Twitter is dying 

Here’s my tiny theory, in a word. Abuse. And further, I’m going to suggest in this short essay that abuse — not making money — is the great problem tech and media have. The problem of abuse is the greatest challenge the web faces today. It is greater than censorship, regulation, or (ugh) monetization. It is a problem of staggering magnitude and epic scale, and worse still, it is expensive: it is a problem that can’t be fixed with the cheap, simple fixes beloved by tech: patching up code, pushing out updates.

If twitter were a bar, would you frequent a place with abusers. I have found my interactions on a public timeline going down. Most of my nuanced conversations take place on twitter DM or FB chat. These are with people of different political / religious persuasions. We avoid chatting on a public TL – seriously who wants unpleasantness and unpleasent people  interrupting an interesting conversation?

twitter dying

twitter dying – image courtsey – uptown magazine

Worth reading the entire piece on the Medium.

Oct 152015

Every year, for the media studies programme that I have been teaching for the last decade or so, i try and set assignments that get students thinking. The course, in addition to the syllabus, has documentary viewing, reading of select articles and projects.

This year students had to read one of the following – V for Vendetta, 1984. Fahrenheit 451 – and discuss it’s relevance in the modern world in general, and India in particular.

Many students quoted ISIS propaganda, or Chinese censorship, or censorship in the middle east as examples. Also discussed were the two girls from Palghar who got arrested under the IT act, post their facebook post on mumbai shutting down after Bal Thackeray’s death. But, the majority of them spoke about Facebook and Google being able to track them, know their preferences and monitor what they do.

For them, it is less about government, because government is not a part of their lives. Except once in 5 years. But, google and FB are. The average 22 year spends  increasingly larger chunks of  time and energy online. They are pouring out their lives on these sites. And, now they are worried about what the faceless corporation knows, and can do with that knowledge.

I seriously get spooked out, when i search for a book on google (or a film or anything else) and when i access my gmail, an ad for that product pops up. I know i can disable it (i.e., not see it) but that data is still being collected and collated. Sooner or later, it will be used – most likely against your best interests. And no, going incognito is not going to help.

What was interesting is that this generation (mind you the sample size is small – one class in one college in one city) seems to find the giant, faceless corporation far scarier than the government

the crow
why a crow picture, i couldn’t find anything else :) and, i kind of like crows

Oct 142015

Mumbai’s changing landscape –


On July 12th this year, i moved my family from the wadala place we were renting, to Kherwadi in Bandra East – just off the highway. The rent is steeper than Wadala (but not by much) – but it is a much nicer place. The most important consideration was proximity to hospitals – and there are 4 within a 2 kilometer radius. I didn’t like Wadala (e) too much. there was something completely alienating about the area that we lived in, and it was close to no big medical facility. I wish we had moved a year earlier

The picture below is also mumbai, Bandra to be more precise – in the same axis as the sea link. There is something reassuringly solid about the fisherman, getting ready to go to work.    IMG_20150914_074008.jpg

In the 21 years that I have been back in Mumbai – i have seen the city change in front of my eyes. from the quality of roads, to the nature of architecture. From the flyovers to the metro and the mono rail. Older areas are disappearing, newer ones are coming up. there are those who mourn the passing of the old, but that is the nature of the universe – everything dies. that includes localities, and communities. But, new ones form too. We sometimes ignore that.     mumbai -sealink

Oct 112015

There are men. and men. and men. I can go as far as to say, that each man is a unique specimen, replete with his own set of idiosyncrasies (as is each woman).

However, as far as popular fiction is concerned there are two types of men – the nice men who are your best friends, who are there no matter what; and there are the bad boys – who you, unfortunately, fall for – and that is a long road of tears and battles. And, generally the kind of men we remember in books and screen are the latter. If i asked you to name 5 nice men in fiction – you possibly will be stuck after the first. Who is the guy Scarlett O’ Hara falls for, but never marries – would be your response. And, then there would be a blank. Because, after all, nice guys finish last (atleast in the fictional romantic stakes). In real life, i would guess that nice guys score much higher than the messed up heroes from films, simply because a film gets over in 3 hours, and jhelofying a romantic hero will take the rest of your life.

I am not quite sure when the narrative of a brooding, dark, sullen male became either the gold standard or the mould in which all other romantic heroes were written. Look at Mills and Boons. an entire business built on an obnoxious specimen, who hooks a post teenager (almost young enough to be his daughter). And then reforms because of her love ie., becomes less obnoxious.

Today on Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday, i couldn’t but help look at him as the romantic hero, especially in those films that he was also the angry young man. Do you really want such a man in your life, is the question ? Do women really believe they can transform such men ? Do such men really exist?

I wrote about his best romantic roles in films – the angry young lover


Oct 102015

Currently reading, Gail Omvedt on Ambedkar : Toward’s an enlightened India . Began reading it on the flight, back to Mumbai.

The military then, as now, seems to bea  non-discriminatory haven.

Bhiva and his brothers had never experienced untouchability in their earlier military homes, but in Satara they got their first experience of caste discrimination. Bhiva and one other untouchable student were forced to sit separately; no barber could be found to cut their hair; and when he wanted to study Sanskrit, he learned it was banned to untouchables. He could only choose between English and Persian.

When Ambedkar finally joined college – Elphinstone college, and graduated – he did so in English and Persian.

What is also fascinating is the family and caste (Mahar) tradition :

The Mahars also had religious-cultural traditions that linked them to the wider traditions of rural communities and expressed their equalitarian and liberatory aspirations. Some were Varkaris, followers of the cult of Vithoba, the main bhakti movement of Maharashtra; some were Mahanubhavas, members of an even older equalitarian movement. Out of the community rose wandering mendicants of various kinds, often articulating their own synthesis of the Brahmanic, non-Brahmanic and Muslim traditions found in the country. Ramji was a follower of Kabir and observed the prayers and rituals of the Kabirpanthi sect. He was a vegetarian and teetotaller. Another uncle, a sannyasi of the Gosavi sect, had predicted in a surprise meeting with Ambedkar’s parents in 1879 that their family would produce a great man who would relieve the oppression of their people.


Omvedt, Gail (2008-12-24). Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India (Kindle Locations 123-129). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

If you are interested, you can buy the book here .

I am also reading, the collected speeches of Ambedkar, edited by Narendra Jadhav. Again, quite fascinating.