Putu the Cat

Fear me, if you dare. Meow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Empire Strikes Back

With some vengeance that too. Ram Guha in this week's Outlook savages Dalrymple's claim that Pankaj Mishra is more of an 'authentic' Indian voice given his mofussil background than those educated at 'Doon School' or 'St. Stephen's College'. I'm not sure where Guha was educated- I know he went to Stephen's but I'm not sure if he went to Doon, but that partly accounts for the savagery of his response. Part of his argument is valid- that there is no singular Indian voice that can be truly representative, that the urban voice is as authentically Indian as the rural one. But I wish he'd left out the personal digs at the end- by his own argument, Dalrymple is no less an 'authentic' voice than Ram Guha himself, and by arguing thus, methinks Guha hits well below the belt.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Putu was wondering...

...if anyone knows who published the debate between Ram Guha and Boria on charges of plagiarism or how and where Putu could access it, or even what the basic gist of the debate was. Putu is delving rather seriously into the social history of Indian cricket (all the while perched rather comfortably on an armchair) and would be rather grateful for this information. Anyone who can help Putu will be rewarded with a sufficiently large tin of Whiskas-tuna in jelly and maybe even some gourmet food.

Cat novel

Putu should have blogged about this a while ago- a serious omission. One of Putu's close friends, Adrita Mukherjee won the Penguin e-author contest a while ago writing about....well....cats.
If you want to read the first chapter of Jacaranda Blooms, go take a look. It's also one of the rare campus novels set in India. To be honest, Putu can't think of any others. AM has sadly moved to NZ and the book never got published. But if anyone is interested in entering the penguin e-author contest, check the Oxford Bookstore homepage. The 2004 winner incidentally was Smitha Parigi, a journalist.

Reviews so far- v.v. bad

In the words of Peter Bradshaw: "Britain's best-known twittering hamster is back, doing her trademark blonde pout on every billboard in the land: one part Marilyn to three parts Kenneth Williams. " The new Bridget Jones' movie, by common consensus isn't a patch on the old one. However, Putu must confess here, that Putu wasn't all that enamoured of movie 1- it was your usual Hollywood romantic comedies. And while Putu loves curling up on a cold winter day with a mushy movie and some warm milk, Putu has certainly seen better. While Renee Zellwegger (who's actually now that I think about it, the perfect choice for Bridget) was sort of relucant to put on all that weight, Hugh Grant is ready to call it quits, and the Independent has a few kind words for him.

By the way, as for those reviews, here are some bad ones, some not so good ones, some not so bad ones, and surprise surprise, a good one.

Iris Chang (1968-2004)

Chang died of 'self inflicted gunshot wounds'- and the cause of her suicide is said to be severe depression. The author of the fantastic The Rape of Nanking, which Putu highly recommends was working on a new book which looked at American POWs tortured in Japan. Her book outraged many Japanese, both ordinary people as well as academics, but remains the most readable, if harrowing account of the Japanese occupation. Do read this fascinating 2003 interview with Chang. One of the interesting things she says is that the rape of Nanking was not the worst massacre of a people in history, and points to the Bangladesh war. Also she makes the point that 19-35 million Chinese died in WWII- that's a huge huge number of people...and yet when we hear about WWII we remember the concentration camps and maybe St. Petersburg...it's curious and frightening how some people can get 'written out' of histories.

Criss-crossing the World

From the New York review of books, Dalrymple tries to uncover the truth about the Islamic world. Incidentally, if you haven't read it, go and also read Dalrymple's review of two books about the murder of Daniel Pearl and the exchange with Bernard-Henri Levy that followed. Putu has read the first of the two books that Dalrymple reviews and found it just as "unbearably moving". Pearl was really the first Westerner to be beheaded in the way that so many have been since in Iraq and his wife's attempts to stop the video of his death from proliferating on the internet and so on, are both shocking (in terms of how voyeuristic people can be) and provide an insight into why terrorists do what they do.

Travelling a little eastwards, one of Putu's favourite men, Amartya Sen, with whom incidentally Putu shares a birthday, writes about India and China, and the intellectual links the two countries share. Inclined more for the academic, but given it's Amartya-da after all, Putu would certainly recommend it.