War of the words
Vikram Chandra certainly has a lot to celebrate this festive season ? his third novel has earned him advances of $1.3 million in the West after a six-publisher bidding war, though it’s not yet clear who’s publishing the book in India. The novel is set in the Mumbai underworld, clearly a favourite topic with contemporary Indian-origin writers who have Mumbai connections. It is supposed to be a combination of The Godfather and a Gothic novel ? a page-turner and a major work of literary fiction as well. It also features Sartaj Singh, a policeman from Love and Longing in Bombay. It took Chandra eight years to write and is over 800 pages long, so try and organise a fair bit of spare time next year, when it comes out.
It’s in the genes
Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren won this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology for discovering the bacterium Heliobacter pylori, which causes ulcers, cancer and other diseases. They found that the bacterium not only infects half the global population, but is so adaptable that it evolves into a distinctive strain for every ethnic group of humans it infects ? its evolutionary tree reveals remarkable parallels with the history of human migration over the last 50,000 years. Scientists used this data to find various fascinating facts about ethnic groups and communities in various parts of the world. For example, in Ladakh, Muslims and Buddhists have coexisted for a 1,000 years but clearly don’t mix much, because they carry different strains of the bacterium. Sociologists, economists and historians beware ? there’s a new way to discover how societies evolve, and it's likely to cause you ulcers.
|The new wallace and gromit movie, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, features an Indian character! With typical resourcefulness, he sets up a stall to sell pitchforks to an angry mob towards the end of the movie.|
Blogging vs dogging
The blogging community worldwide has been both saddened and amused by the news that in the UK, more people have heard of dogging than blogging. What is dogging? It’s the popular pastime of watching couples get intimate in semi-public areas like parks and sharing the fun via websites and phone cameras. Fairly popular here too, on MMS.
Poem in space
Human Beings, a poem by Adrian Mitchell, has been voted the poem people would like to see going up into orbit for people to read a century later. The poem starts, “Look at your hands/ your beautiful useful hands / you’re not an ape / you’re not a parrot / you’re not a slow loris /or a smart missile/you’re human” and ends, “dance!”. It should definitely cause major confusion out there in deep space if aliens find it. “But we thought we were aliens,” they’ll say, “what’s going on?” And then they’ll cancel the invasion, proving once and for all that the pen is mightier than the space defence programme.
AWARD OF THE WEEK
Goes to blogger Gaurav Sabnis, who chose to quit a lucrative job at IBM rather than bow to pressure from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management to remove links to an IIPM expos? on his blog.