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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Samit Basu

Get a life or two

Vikram Seth’s new book, Two Lives, is out in the UK and speeding its way towards Indian bookshelves. It’s ‘history writ little’ a family story that touches on larger stories; the tale of his great-uncle Shantih, who lost an arm in World War II and then set up practice as a dentist in London, and his great-aunt Henny, whose family died in the Holocaust. Two Lives is a story of love, endurance, hope and courage, of two insignificant people trapped in a turbulent time. So far, UK critics aren’t very sure what to make of it ' they’re all huge fans of Seth’s writing, but somewhat confused by his very non-gimmicky choice of subject. We hereby advise them to get a life. Or two.

March of the penguins

A spine-chilling, heart-warming, high-budget saga of romance, action, intrigue, truth, suspense and family ties ' perfect for Bollywood, yes' It’s unlikely this French film will ever make it to Indian theatres, though it’s as suitable for India as for anywhere else, since the characters are talking in Penguinese. March of the Penguins, a documentary about Emperor Penguins has just become the most successful French film ever in terms of US box-office earnings. Luc Jacquet’s documentary follows Emperor Penguins on an epic journey across the Antarctic ice as they march through blizzards, bleak lands and hordes of predators to their breeding grounds, conduct elaborate song-and-dance courtship rituals before choosing their partners (for life) and then nurse their eggs through great danger until they hatch. In the French version, actors speak for the penguins; the US version features commentary from Morgan Freeman. Wanted: a Hindi version, starring our own Emperor Penguin, the Big B.

Band of techies

The band currently rocking the US uses a mixture of Eastern and Western beats to chronicle ' believe this ' the hi-tech immigrant’s experience in the US. The H1Bees, a band of IT professionals all in America on H1B visas, are using their keyboard skills to maximum effect, belting out songs in English, Hindi and Tamil.

Cell shocked

The idea of students with cellphones always makes me feel terribly old, but it turns out that the ones who should really be worried about carrying mobiles to college are teachers. Gazi Saiful Islam, an economics lecturer at Pioneer College, Dhaka, recently got an SMS which told him, very sweetly, ‘The governing body of the college has decided to suspend you. Don’t come to the college premises anymore.’ The message was from the college principal, who later explained his somewhat original staff-management methods by saying he needed to fire the lecturer very quickly because of accusations of womanising, and an official letter would have taken too long.

AWARD OF THE WEEK

Award

To Budhia Singh, three-and-half-years old, featured in the BBC recently for his incredible ability to run seven hours at a stretch. Future marathon champ' Maybe. Normal, happy childhood' No chance.

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