Archive for September 15th, 2008

Conversation 2.0?

September 15, 2008


Sometimes my conversations with strangers go on for a while before I realize they’re talking on their phones

🙂 Happens to me also often enough that if only I collected the data, I could have made as smooth a curve as shown in the cartoon!

PS: Reminded me the other classic fortune cookie:

Whaddya mean, it’s a microwave oven? I’ve been watching Channel 4 on the thing for two weeks

Novelists among anthropologists!

September 15, 2008

Lorenz at gives pointers to a couple of anthropologists who think fiction can answer anthropological questions better than anthropology itself:

“Fiction’s more fun. It lets you look inside people’s heads in a way you wouldn’t dare to do if you stuck to anthropology”, anthropologist Nigel Barley says in an interview with the Telegraph:

“As an anthropologist you’re always asking questions such as: How different can different peoples be? Are we all reducible to a common humanity? And if so: what is it? Nobody can answer these questions. But I like to use fiction to try to answer anthropological questions. And fiction, I find, gives better answers.”

And in an interview with the Guardian she says:

After graduating from university I started a PhD in social anthropology, but really I was dreaming of writing a novel. I would sit in my lectures and scribble in the margins of my notebooks. But for a long time, I didn’t tell anyone I wanted to be a writer; it was my undercover identity. It was when I started doing the research that it became more real. I travelled back to Bangladesh and met survivors of the Bangladesh war. After hearing their stories, I felt that I really ought to take the project more seriously, and that’s when I began writing the novel in earnest.

Take a look!

What all bright Tamizh boys want

September 15, 2008

Asal Tamizh Penn at On being Tamizh and a Penn has some pointers:

Then there were several copies of T Anna’s horoscope. Now, that can be thrown. By all accounts, M Manni didn’t look like she was going to divorce T Anna anytime soon, so why keep it. Before throwing them away, I decided to take a look at it, to see what fabulous qualities my brother possessed. Among references to his wheatish complexion, athletic built and gleaming gold medals, was a reference to his multiple hobbies and interests.

T Anna had interests, I thought with a feeling of wonder.

Apparently he does. Or did, at any rate. Among the many that were mentioned, included – Quizzing and Chess.

Quizzing? Quizzing? T Anna wasn’t into any quizzing, I said indignantly.

Appa waved his hands dismissively and said that this particular hobby was a later addition. Apparently, there was too much pressure to add some extra curricular activities as part of the horoscope. A little bit of embellishment you see, Appa said.

But T Anna wasn’t into quizzing. I said sounding like a spoilt record by now.

He wasn’t, but could have been, Paati said with an air of finality.

You must admit, he could have been a quizzer if he wanted to, Appa continued. After all, he went to an IIT, followed obscure European league matches and spent more time reading the newspaper than any sub-editor did.

Correct, he was perfect for quizzing, Thatha said in a tone that said that we ought to close the discussion.

I was horrified at this make believe world that my family had created, attributing a wish-list of personality traits to their children. And if they were doing this to their perfect son, imagine what all embellishments went into mine.

I pulled out Version 2.0 of my horoscope and looked in. I knew most of the contents, but I still checked, and there it was. My hobbies included – Quizzing and Chess.

Chess brought back some humiliating memories. I must have been seven years old or so and on a lazy Sunday afternoon T Anna was teaching me how to play chess. When he was explaining the intricacies involved in moving the horse (knight, if you prefer), he said with exasperation, how difficult is it ATP? It is just 1-2-1. You have to move it in a yeLL shape. I didn’t see the multiple yeLLs that T Anna was seeing. I didn’t understand, why he said, 1-2-1 and not 1-2-3. But, I wanted to impress my brother. So, I tried. And tried some more. Eventually, T Anna walked away in disgust and left me there with tear filled eyes. I never tried playing chess after that. Unless you take into account the occasional game with Thatha, where he suggests moves for me too.

So, I suppose, I might get away with that.

Now on Quizzing, I don’t even have the required Quizzing Personality. Surely this was a bit much. I confronted the family about it. Appa shrugged and said that, all bright Tamizh boys want girls who are into Quizzing.

A nice one!