Ferris Wheel II

Ferris Wheel II

This was shot in Vienna in a museum dedicated to (apparently) the oldest or oldest functioning Ferris Wheel in the world. This was one of the many exhibits, housed inside old tram cars and depicting, through these displays, Vienna during different time periods in her history.

I had posted a (nosiy) photo of the Ferris Wheel before on this blog here . You can see another photo of a different display (Vienna after WWII) from the above museum here.

Shanghai Nights

First Sleep – Cliff Martinez


A phone rang in the background. People trying to reach others on the edge. I observed her from the other side of the room. Her polite smile. Her naughty laugh. The way she drank a shot, so elegant and sexy. It was raining outside. The whispers of so many strangers mingled with the drumming of the raindrops on the roof. I wandered through the crowd to get a better look at her. The seat next to her was empty. She turned and glanced at me with a half smile around her lips. I slid my shot across and ordered a fresh one. We drank.

“Can you resist an impulse?”

“I don’t know. It depends.”

“On what?”

“On what I’ll gain out of the impulse. Will it give instant gratification or do I need to persevere? What about you?”

“Oh yes! I always give in to my every impulse. You know that is why I’m talking to you, based on such an impulse.”

We went out to sit on the porch and watch the rain. In the distance, landing lights flashed. Planes took off and landed at regular intervals. The warning lights on the airport radar blinked cryptic messages. There was that special smell of wet earth.

She went in to get some food. It was a Chinese dinner. She came back with two bowls filled with lightly spiced egg noodles and two pairs of metal chopsticks.

“I do not know how to eat with chopsticks.”

“Neither do I but I like the way chopsticks feel in my hands, especially these metal ones. Let’s keep them as souvenirs.”

She smiled and started picking up noodles with her fingers. She was quite good at it. It was not messy at all. I tried to emulate her as best as I could.

“You know, I lived in Shanghai with my parents when I was a child. It was a different city back then. No high rises. No glitz. No sleek highways. I remember this old fisherman in the fish market from whom we always bought our fish. He taught me how to eat noodles without chopsticks. It was funny how I ended up talking to him. He spoke very good English…”

The Corporation

The Corporation

This is the age of mega-corporations. Corporations richer than some countries, wielding enormous influence over our world. With their power they can and do shape policies that affect our environment and in the end the way our societies function. How did these corporations become so powerful? Why are so many people protesting their rising clout if, as many often claim, they create jobs, increase transparency, efficiency and generate more wealth for a region? Why are corporations caught in the middle of so many scandals, especially in recent years?

These are some of the questions the documentary, ‘The Corporation’ directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, seeks to look at and answer. It is a huge task to subject as amorphous an entity as a corporation to such close scrutiny and succeed. They do it with style and depth but without sacrificing entertainment values. One innovative tool they use is to treat the corporation as a living entity/person and subject it to basic psychological testing. They look at the myriad ways corporations have tried to take over our environment without giving a damn for the consequences. They look at the lack of ethical values at the core of corporate functioning. They look at the way a corporation is only bothered with the bottom line and not how its actions affect the world around it. And they come to a not so surprising conclusion in hindsight. That the corporation exhibits almost all the classic symptoms of a psychopath.

Sharmila’s courage

Courage comes in many sizes. Sharmila Irom Chanu is a diminutive woman from Manipur, frail and meek looking. Looking at her one wouldn’t imagine that this woman has embarked upon a courageous mission to save her land and people. But what she has done over the last six years is nothing short of a display of courage of the rarest kind, a courage born out of empathy for the rape of her land.

Sharmila has been on a total hunger strike for the last six years for the cause of withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Provision Act (AFSPA) that has been clamped in Manipur and much of the north-east of India. This draconian act gives the Indian army power to detain and shoot people upon a mere suspicion. Further, army personnel cannot be prosecuted without prior permission from the ministry of home affairs.

The turning point for Sharmila was in November 2000 when a convoy of Assam Rifles was ambushed in a village outside Imphal. The enraged troops shot dead 10 people at a bus stop. That was when Sharmila decided to embark on her extraordinary measure. After all you have to fight fire with fire. In this case she decided to use a Gandhian form of non-violent protest and refused to eat or drink anything till AFSPA was repealed from Manipur.