Bachi Karkaria (for Info only, not official)

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Bachi Karkaria

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    ...Adonis and the embodiment of swag. Yes, yes, he was everything that the obits have gushed over. But for me Shashi first of all was the gawky actor we sniggered at when Shakespearana came calling at Calcutta Girls’ High School. ‘All that glisters is not gold’ had triggered our ignorant derision – we thought that, being Indian, he didn’t know that the correct word was ‘glitters’. And that, being Indian, he had to play the swarthy Prince of Morocco, merely one of the suitors in The Merchant of Venice. Supporting our bigotry was fair Portia’s relieved comment on his departure: ‘a gentle riddance’. Poor Shashi? No, it was actually pathetic, racist us. But then, the raj though officially gone 13 years ago, hadn’t left its once-capital of Calcutta, and wouldn’t for another decade, its coffin finally nailed by the Left’s hammer and sickle. Stripling girls, could we be blamed when the colonial hangover hiccupped all around us – in the sterling companies, string quartets at Firpo’s, yes even Highland Fling classes at St Andrew’s kirk on Dalhousie Square? ...

    TOI on Dec. 7, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...The royals of the ‘sceptr’d isle’ alone have a hold on the world’s TRPs – to a degree quite out of proportion to the relevance of either Britain or its monarchy. The latter keeps the former together when Britannia is not even a biscuit, and the waves she once ruled have been pirated by her former colonies. Lonesome in Brexit, threatened by random terrorism, unsure if Ms May will survive December, but Ole Royalty has once again rallied to the rescue, engaging everyone with the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. His Mum was the fairy-tale princess, though she got locked up in the tower, while her prince galloped away to his horse-loving mistress. Diana had the uncommon touch, but her No 2 son’s fiancee bucks the Buckingham Palace tradition in more ways than it has rooms. ...

    TOI on Nov. 30, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Closer to home, the shape is associated with the ‘anda’ cell of high-security prisons such as Mumbai’s Arthur road jail which housed Sanjay Dutt and Kasab. The nutritious ovoid faces a similar notoriety because today, kg for kg, it costs 25% more than a broiler. Rs 7-7.50 per piece is not a poultry sum; in fact it’s eggsorbitant. Experts have advanced many theories for this steep rise. The greater demand to stave off the winter chill. The shorter supply because egg producers (humans, not hens) scaled down output because of last year’s non-remunerative prices. Some units had shut down completely fearing animal rights activists who threatened to raid poultry farms which did not lay on five-star luxury for the laying hens. Btw, Arthur road’s ‘anda’ cell is also in the luxe category. ...

    TOI on Nov. 23, 2017, 2:09 a.m.

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    ...Several environmental culprits have been shamed. But, in fact, Delhi is India’s worst sufferer precisely because it is the capital — burdened with the densest concentration of political pollutants. These netas don’t have the foggiest notion of the impact of their actions on ordinary citizens. And said fog combined with the smokescreen emitted to cover up their failings results in Delhi’s infamous SMOG: So Many Official Gasbags. These ‘politants’ vary in size from very large to minuscule microns, but their HQ, hazard quotient, is not always proportionate to their measurements. Eg: depending on your pride and prejudice, you’d consider the trim RaGa to be more undesirable than an Amit Shah of greater avoirdupois. There has been marked — some say ‘ devastating’ — political climate change since 2014 thanks to the phenomenon called the El NaMo Effect. ...

    TOI on Nov. 16, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Modevotees crowed that, despite a few burps, demonetisation was nationally digested, and helped soothe the economic intestine which had been laid low by an endemic bug called blackmoney. Modetractors as smugly said that the government had made a khichdi of demonetisation; that the hardship was dished out nationally; and it was so gargantuan that this too should have set a Guinness record. As tadka, the congenital critics would splutter: ‘Khichdi mein kuchh kala tha’, referring not to the unhusked dal but the unrecovered stash. Every media gorged on versions of khichdi and the photo-op of Harsimrat Kaur and Baba Ramdev stirring the giant wok; his head was correctly capped while his salt and pepper beard-hair easily floated into the stew. Eeuw! All this stirred up memories, and the aroma of Kantaben’s kitchen wafted into my brain. Every Friday, i would go over to play with her daughter Bhanu who lived in the building opposite. ...

    TOI on Nov. 9, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...From Tuesday, Jaipur’s corporators must start and end work with force-fed patriotism. But a day earlier, Delhi High Court dismissed a PIL demanding that Vande Mataram be given the same official status as Jana Gana Mana. Last week, the Supreme Court said there was no need to rise to our feet in cinema halls; now the HC has declared that Vande needs no ‘crutches’. So, all this kneeling to ‘notionalism’ doesn’t have a leg to stand on. At the risk of being hanged, drawn and trolled for sedition, may i ask why, at this late stage, are we banging on about nationalism? Surely, by now we should have matured into ‘post nationalism’, with enough confidence not to get our langots in a twist over every ‘slight’ to its totems? What did we have for the past 70 years if nationalism now needs to be cast in the image of every bigot? All the wars and elections fought, policies made, institutions built did nothing to shape a nation? ...

    TOI on Nov. 2, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Divas don’t wear sleeves at all (and pretty much little else either), but they still manage to fling their hearts to the highest bidder. Last Monday, Justice DY Chandrachud firmly told the Centre that, whatever else we choose to wear on our sleeve, it shouldn’t be patriotism. His father was the longest-serving CJI; YV Chandrachud was called ‘Iron Hands’ because he let go of nothing. The son declared that we can put our hand on our hearts while the national anthem is played in a cinema hall but we don’t have to rise to our feet. He tartly added, “Tomorrow someone may say people should not come in shorts and T-shirts” as that would be as disrespectful. “Where then do we draw the line?” The three-judge bench, which included the CJI Dipak Misra, turned down the Centre’s ‘plea’ to retain the SC’s earlier directive that not standing up was ‘anti-national’. Instead, it correctly threw the ball back into the executive court. More admirably, it was big enough to reverse its own stand. ...

    TOI on Oct. 26, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Or the ‘doctrine of coverture’ which ordains that as she utters her marriage vows, a woman is thrust into the religious, ethnic and cultural persona of her husband — like a butterfly turning into a caterpillar forced to crawl into another skin. On October 6, the Supreme Court referred the conundrum to a Constitution bench. On its decision will depend the rights of women married under the Special Marriage Act of 1954. It all started with the 2008 case filed by Goolrukh Gupta, a Parsi Zoroastrian married to a Hindu, against the Valsad Parsi Anjuman. It had refused to allow her to pray at its fire temple, and, when the need arose, perform the traditional funeral ceremonies of her octogenarian parents at the Tower of Silence. In 2012, the Gujarat HC ruled that once a Parsi woman married a non-Parsi, her religious identity would merge with that of her husband and that she would be deemed converted to his religion. Thereby, Goolrukh had ceased to be a Parsi, and so had no locus standi even to make such a demand of the Valsad Anjuman. ...

    TOI on Oct. 22, 2017, 2 a.m.