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Jun 292012

Tell me your longitude and I’ll know what latitude to allow you.

– Sir Lulworth in The Blind Spot by Saki
Source: The Complete Works of Saki, P.295

Here’s the context for the above brilliant quote.

In The Blind Spot by Saki, Sir Lulworth is telling his nephew Egbert that people’s behavior can be explained by their geographical origins.

Saki, a British writer who died in World War I, is a remarkable storyteller.

For the bibliophile, The Complete Works of Saki is a feast upon which you can keep gorging without ever feeling sated.

My favorite Saki story remains Sredni Vashtar, a brilliant story with a chilling end.

Just in case you were unaware, Saki is the nom de plume of H.H.Munro.

Jun 292012

Chirag Paswan, without doubt..

Chirag who, I can hear all ye schmucks exclaim.

Chirag Paswan - Blog

Miley Naa Miley Hum – Whip Me, Whip Me

Last night, I was in a terribly masochistic frame of mind.

Instead of taking the riding crop on the wall and flinging it against myself like those crazy Shia Muslims do during Muharram, l switched on my TV and headed to the Bollywood movie streaming service Mela via Roku.

And then, I pointed my remote at Miley Naa Miley Hum and clicked.

For the next two hours or so, it was misery.

Abject misery of a crappy movie amplified by Kangna Ranaut’s doped out appearance, no makeup, weird outfits and hopeless acting.

What, however, stood out amidst the endless drivel of Miley Naa Miley Hum was Chirag Paswan’s spark.

Of course, Chirag is no Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah or Irrfan Khan. Continue reading »

Jun 272012

Men in the U.S. who have sex with men are the most vulnerable group, most at risk, when it comes to getting HIV infections.

According to AIDS statistics put out by the U.S. government, men who have sex with men accounted for 61% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2009.

HIV Statistics for American Men Having Sex with Men - Blog


Injection drug users accounted for a mere 9% of new HIV infections and heterosexual sex was responsible for 27%.

But male with male sex looms over all other HIV transmission categories, responsible for a whopping 61%.

High Risk Categories

Of course, being a savant it was no surprise to me that homosexuals, intravenous drug users sharing needles and people getting transfusions of untested blood run a higher risk of getting HIV.

But what knocked me off off my perch was the severe risk that men who have sex with men in the U.S. have of getting a HIV infection.

As a transmission category for new HIV infections, men having sex with men is alarmingly higher compared to other methods of getting a HIV infection like sharing needles or heterosexual sex.

Does this mean that the chances of a man getting HIV from screwing a woman hooker is less compared to a man coupling with another man? A good research subject, in my opinion.

Sex between men accounted for nearly half (49%) of people living with HIV in 2008 (the most recent year national prevalence data is available).

Also, what stumps me is the failure of so many men here to practice safe sex through the use of condoms.

Just in case you didn’t know, HIV ultimately can lead to AIDS. And a meeting with Yamaraj, the Hindu God of Death.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that men having sex with men account for just 2% of the U.S. male population aged 13 and older, but accounted for more than 50% of all new HIV infections annually from 2006 to 2009.

Any way you slice it, men having sex with men run a very high risk.

The men with men sex category includes gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men.

Alert for Indian Men in U.S.

It’s true that Indian men having sex with men in Amreeka has not reached high levels yet (although I’m suspicious when I see Indian men embracing for more than 1.5 seconds to the loud exclamation of Bhaiyya).

It’s a truism that what the American does today, the Indian-American copies tomorrow in his lifestyle.

I’m not joking.

Mudaliar families in Maryland are fleeing to beach resorts in summer, Gujju divorces are no longer uncommon and Tamil boys in New Jersey are turning into peeping-toms.

Men with men sex has already lost its taboo among a lot of Americans and it won’t be long before Indian men in Amreeka start replacing Bhaiyya with Bulbul in their encounters with other men.

All great sociological insights start with astute observations on individual behavior from observant souls like yours truly. These are often extrapolated to a community or society level to understand cultures.

If the anthropologist M.N.Srinivas were alive, he’d acknowledge me as a fine acolyte of the research technique of participant observation that he pioneered.

If the village of Rampura was Srinivas’s petridish in 1942, my lab is the Indian America community in 21st century Amreeka.

So the next time all ye Patels, Shahs, Mudaliars, Shettys, Gowdas, Guptas and Banerjis have an urge to play Bulbul with your male buddy, think twice, even thrice before you bugger or get buggered?

Is getting HIV worth the 60-seconds of aah-ooh-aah?

By the way, 20% of those with HIV in the U.S. are unaware of their infection.

Take a mental snap of the below graphic and play it in your mind the next time you get the urge to make your Bhaiyya your Bulbul:

HIV  and Gays  - Blog

Related Content:
AIDS – The U.S. Situation
AIDS – The Global Picture

Jun 272012

Don’t laugh, George. That’s the future.
– Film producer Al Zimmer to silent film star George Valentin on how the talkies will soon eclipse silent movies, in The Artist

In the autumn of my life, my mind zig-zags into blunderland more often than I’d like.

I watch countless insufferable Indian movies but sometimes bizarrely skip the ones that have given me good vibes.

For instance, when I went to see the South Korean film Yellow Sea they showed the preview of the French production The Artist.

I had a nice feeling about the preview and was sure the movie would do well.

The few times yours truly had such hunches (as with Slumdog Millionaire and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Winter’s Bone), they were proved right.

Yet I skipped The Artist when it released in theatres. Don’t ask why, for I know not myself.

And when The Artist went on to win five Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony, I made a quick call to my shrink to ask her what’s wrong with moi! :(

So when the DVD of The Artist landed at Red Box kiosks yesterday in the U.S. I jumped out of bed early to ensure that I snagged a copy.

The Artist Review - Blog

Artist – Triumph of Imagination

In an age when fancy computer effects and female skin-show are de rigueur for 90% of movies, The Artist daringly strikes out with a Black and White film.

And that too a Silent movie.

Wow, that must require remarkable courage, a quality absent in Indian producers who are more given to the relentless pursuit of thievery, the tawdry and the downright trashy in their movies.

Written and directed by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist is an extraordinary triumph of cinematic imagination.

In the era of Avatar and Avengers, that a director/writer can conjure up such a delightful entertainer without any of the fancy technology gimmicks boggles the mind.

In the movie, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo play the lead roles of two actors George Valentin and Peppy Miller respectively.

Power of Sound

The Artist starts off in 1927, when silent movies were still riding high.

George Valentin is a big star in the twilight of the silent era while Peppy Miller joins movies at the dawn of the talkies.

Before long, the movies within the movie transition into the talkies period, all the while tracking the fortunes of our two movie stars George and Peppy.

At the moment when the old is giving way to the new in the world of movies, the paths of George and Peppy cross.

You see a spark in their first meeting and George shows some kindness to the unknown Peppy, putting her on the path to stardom.

Soon, the talkies take over the movies and the silent films gets the cold shoulder from the public.

A stubborn, miscalculating George is blind to the power of talkies, the pull of sound on the audience.

But Peppy is smarter in recognizing the change.

As George’s fortune ebbs, Peppy’s soars but she never forgets the silent co-star in her first movie.

Artist – Borrow the DVD

Jean Dujardin turns in a remarkable performance as George Valentin.

The good days, the dog days and the terrible days, Dujardin handles everything director Hazanavicius throw at him with great aplomb.

Bérénice Bejo as Peppey Miller is alright but can’t hold a candle to Jean Dujardin in the acting department.

The magnificent soundtrack adds to the allure of The Artist.

Although I’m not partial to quadrupeds of any kind, the dog was great in The Artist.

In an age of $200 million and $300 million, The Artist proves that great artistes can make movie marvels on a relatively shoestring budget of just $15 million.

Oh, I loved the dance and music at the end so much that I’ve been listening to the “Peppy and George” soundtrack nonstop on the free Spotify service. recommends The Artist to all lovers of good cinema. You can get the DVD at Netflix or Red Box in the U.S. If you’re too cheap to spend $1.22 on The Artist at Red Box, look for the film at your local library.

Jun 252012

If you love free, legal music, it’s hard to say ‘No’ to Spotify.

I’d been meaning to try Spotify for quite a while and finally downloaded the app to the PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad the other day to check out its on-demand music streaming service.

Spotify Free Music - Blog

Spotify on the Desktop

On both the Mac and Windows desktop computers, Spotify worked fine.

Download the app, log in with your Facebook account, search for your favorite music, listen and drag to your Playlist to play it at any time.

Spotify is ‘social’ in the sense that you can share your favorite music with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

In a snap, I created Playlists for songs from Shammi Kapoor movies, other Hindi favorites, Tamil Songs, T.M.Soundararajan, Ilayaraja, Ennio Morricone, Vangelis and Godfather and added scores of songs to them.

Two Versions

Spotify comes in two varieties – free and paid.

The free option requires you to be online to listen to the music you’ve saved in your Playlist.

You’ll also have to put up with banner and voice ads in the free version.

The paid version comes in two flavors – Spotify Premium ($9.99/month for offline desktop and offline mobile listening and ad-free service) and Spotify Unlimited ($4.99/month for ad-free service).

I can’t see Indians signing up for a paid subscription.

Not in a million years. ;)

Indian Music on Spotify – Great Collection

Whether it’s Hindi, Tamil or any of the other Indian languages, Spotify sports an extensive collection.

Be they songs from forthcoming films like Billa 2, recent movies such as I Hate Luv Storys (2010) or from six decade-old Barsaat (1949), you can be sure to find ‘em all on Spotify.

As I write this post, Spotify is playing Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar’s timeless melody Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua from Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 in the background on my Windows PC.

Spotify Radio – Not Worth It

Spotify Radio is a new feature that lets you create ‘Radio Stations’ based on your favorite artists.

You can access it even on the free version of the Spotify service, both on desktop computers and on mobile devices.

But in its present incarnation, Spotify Radio is not good for Indian music.

When I created a ‘Radio Station’ for Tamil music director Ilayaraja, the songs offered to me were decades old Telugu numbers like O Chandamama.

This shows the limitations of algorithms for picking songs and the need for some degree of human curation.

Spotify Issues

One of the vexing features of Spotify is that you must log in through Facebook.

There’s no getting away from that.

And that’s where the problem crops up when you try to sign up for Spotify on mobile devices.

I had a hard time signing up for Spotify on both the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2 because of the Facebook App. Other users on the Internet are also complaining about this problem.

I went to the settings tab on both the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 and enabled cookies and Javascript. Finally, I managed to log in to Facebook on the iPad via Safari.

But it was too much of a hassle. And when I later accidentally removed all content on the iPad and had to reinstall Spotify and Facebook, I was locked out again and just couldn’t login to Facebook via the native App.

And without logging into Facebook you can’t get Spotify to work on the iPad or iPhone.

Spotify is currently not available in India or any other part of Asia. It’s currently offered only in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, UK, France, Germany and a few other European countries.

For desis in the U.S. and Europe, Spotify is a decent free, legal desktop music service with some ‘social’ features. It’s definitely worth a deko.

Related Information
Spotify – Different Flavors