Facebook – Not a Place to Hide Your Face

Mark Zuckerberg of FacebookTime magazine chose Mark Zuckerberg as the 2010 person of the year. A film on the life of Mark Zuckerberg is a strong contender for Oscars next February. He is twenty six years old and is worth 7 billion dollars. He drives an Acura TSX and rents a house. And he is the creator of the phenomenon called “Facebook”.

Yes, Facebook is no longer a website, it is a phenomenon. Social networking sites are nothing new. People on the internet started to commune together since the early days through bulletin boards, news groups etc., long before MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook came into existence.  Newsgroups were there (remember soc.cult.etc.etc?) even before web browsers and web servers were invented. People have always tried to use the internet to connect and to share. Social networking sites like Facebook has given the people the ideal vehicle to connect and share. And of all the social networking sites, Facebook has become the most popular platform primarily because of its ability to evolve continuously.  People have been able to connect with their friends after ages, they share their thoughts, their likes and dislikes, their photos and memories. It allows many to get their moments of fame and recognition from their friends and peers that was never possible before.  It has become such a powerful attraction to many that some psychiatrists are considering Facebook addition as a diagnosable ailment. Continue reading

To Criticize or Not to Criticize, That is a Question!

I often have this dilemma, is it okay to criticize? Often people ask me, how did I like a book, or a play, or a movie – and I find it very difficult to answer. First of all, if it is my opinion they are asking for, I can possibly try to answer quite diplomatically. My answer would also depend on who is asking me, and about what my opinion is sought for. But expressing an opinion and making a criticism of some work are two entirely different ball games. Opinions are personal, but criticism should be based on a solid foundation of theoretical and practical understanding of the craft. We often tend to confuse between the two and sometimes give too much weight to personal opinions as valued commentary of a piece of artistic or literary work. Continue reading

Naga Viper Beats Bhoot Jolokia

The Naga Viper is the latest claimant to the world’s-hottest-pepper title, beating its predecessor, the Bhoot Jolokia by more than 300,000 Scoville units of tongue-scorching chili hotness. Researchers at Warwick University testing the Naga Viper found that it measures 1,359,000 on the Scoville scale, which rates heat by tracking the presence of a chemical compound. In comparison, most varieties of jalapeño peppers measure in the 2,500 to 5,000 range. Bhoot Jolokia scored 1,000,000 Scoville units. But Naga Viper is not a produce of Nagaland. The new pepper is actually a creation of Gerald Fowler, a British chili farmer and pub owner, who crossed three of the hottest peppers known to man, including the Bhoot Jolokia.

Two Plays in Kolkata

Kaachher ManushWhenever I go to Kolkata, I make it a point to see as many theaters as possible within the short breaks that I can manage from the hectic schedule. This summer too I had the opportunity of watching two plays in Kolkata, “Kaachher Manush” by Gandhar and “Srinwantu Comrades” by Nandipat.

“Kaachher Manush” is based on a Marathi play by Dr. Sirish Athwale (translated by Kamal Sanyal) and directed by Gautam Haldar. The play tells the story about how two people from different social backgrounds can come close together through a metaphoric process of healing.  Dadaseheb (a Marathi Brahmin played by Debshankar Haldar) is suffering from a paralysis of his right side resulting from a head injury and needs physiotherapy and occupational therapy to recover. Savitribai, a senior dalit lady (performed by Bijoy Lakshmi Burman), has been appointed as a nurse to provide him with his daily therapy and help him during the day with his household chores. Continue reading

Shabana’s Broken Images

Shabana Azmi in Broken ImagesRecently I had the opportunity to watch the play “Broken Images” written by Girish Karnad, directed by Alyque Padamsee and performed by the famous film and stage actor Ms. Shabana Azmi.  Girish Karnad is one of the foremost playwrights of modern India, hence any play from him raises expectations.  “Broken Images” is certainly not one of his best plays although it did make its point quite strongly. It tells the story of the confessions of a mediocre Hindi writer who has become an internationally acclaimed English language celebrity author through deceit.  It also tells that the image we often create to impress the outer world gets shattered inside when it is not projected in the light of truth. Continue reading

Mothers on Call

by Amitava Sen

My Sales Manager came running to my office. “What’s my Good Name?” he asked urgently. I did not understand his question. Indeed, I liked his name. I did not think it was a bad name and how was I supposed to know whether he had a better name? Honestly I did not care what his name was. Did Shakespeare not write somewhere that a rose smells the same despite the name you call it by? Richard Schwartz, my sales manager explained that there was a call from an Indian company who was interested in our filtration product. Richard was loath to give an incorrect answer and lose the prospect of an order for the product simply because his parents neglected to give him a better name. Suddenly it dawned on me that this man from India was asking for his Subh Naam, which translated, to Good Name. Continue reading