Monday, May 7, 2012 By
Sunday, May 6, 2012 By
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 By
A tsunami watch was issued for countries across the Indian Ocean on Wednesday after a large earthquake hit waters off Indonesia, sending residents pouring from their homes in panic.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 8.7-magnitude quake was centered 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor around 269 miles (434 kilometers) from Aceh’s provincial capital.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.
A tsunami watch means there is the potential for a tsunami, not that one is imminent.
The tremor was felt in Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and India. High-rise apartments and offices on Malaysia’s west coast shook for at least a minute. (From Huffington Post)
8.9 Quake in Sumatra. Indonesia issues tsunami warning after quake. Alert in 28 countries. Tremor felt in kolkata, b’lore, chennai and patna
— Suniti Damani (@SunitiDamani) April 11, 2012
— Titash Ghosh (@imtitash) April 11, 2012
Singaporeans across the island report feeling tremors from 8.7-magnitude Aceh quake bit.ly/HzRscU
— The Straits Times(@STcom) April 11, 2012
8.9 magnitude quake rocks Indonesia, tsunami warning issued …. My chair was rocking in Kolkata !!!
— Parth Sanyal (@pathsanyal) April 11, 2012
Tremor in Kolkata, buildings develop cracks bit.ly/IjOB6Q
— Kolkata Rockz (@KolkataBhalo) April 11, 2012
Emergency evacuation in office due to earthquake. Only mild tremor in Kolkata.
— Dipankar Saha (@buddydip) April 11, 2012
— Amrita (@immortalbee) April 11, 2012
— Sreemoy Talukdar (@sreemoytalukdar) April 11, 2012
Kolkata Metro services resume after being suspended for 45 mins.The tsunami warning has been scaled down for… fb.me/1OsJGZyTy
— Anindya Bhaumik (@SEO_Expert_Andy) April 11, 2012
Several hotline callers have reported feeling tremors in various parts of Singapore, including Bukit Panjang, Bendemeer Road, Farrer…
— Channel NewsAsia (@cnalatest) April 11, 2012
A friend’s wife here in Singapore called that she just felt another tremor (about 5 minutes ago), and it’s bigger than the earlier one.
— Indra Pramana (@IndraPr) April 11, 2012
People living in the eastern side of singapore already felt a little bit of tremor. Wow, that’s pretty scary.
— Marcus Chan (@MCsucram) April 11, 2012
Gosh, that was a strong tremor in Singapore. The building shook for at least 15 seconds #in
— Arun Chandrasekaran (@AnalystArun) April 11, 2012
Tremor (due to earthquake somewhere) in Singapore O.O Was swaying like crazy. All’s well now! Phew.
— Meradine Wan way~! (@ChariceSing) April 11, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 By
Kolkata is “the city that got left behind”, according to The Economist, which asks: “Can India’s original powerhouse get its act together again?” It blames the Marxists who ruled the state of West Bengal – whose capital is Kolkata – for more than three decades. And it wonders if a “populist with a rural base” like the new chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, can turn around the economy.
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is not as rich as Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore by some measures. None of the 57 Indian billionaires on the Forbes 2011 list is based in Kolkata. The richest man in Kolkata is Sanjiv Goenka, with an estimated net worth of $725 million, according to Forbes. He heads a $1.8 billion (in revenues) empire, the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, whose flagship is CESC, a power utility that has been providing electricity to Kolkata since 1899.Continue Reading
Saturday, December 10, 2011 By
Hospitals are expected to save lives, and yet when a fire broke at a hospital in Kolkata (Calcutta) on Friday, firefighters were not called until an hour later.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 By
Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is compared to Indira Gandhi by the Indian journalist, Sunanda Datta-Ray, who once worked for The Straits Times.
In his book, Looking East to Look West, exploring India-Singapore relations, based on his interviews with MM Lee, he writes:
Lee and Indira Gandhi shared a brutal commitment to power, an almost brutal pragmatism and a fascination with mystic predictions of the future. Both dominated the scene around them. So much so that though lacking the alliterative resonance of the loyalist chant during the Emergency, 'Indira is India, India is Indira', it might be more accurate to recite 'Kuan Yew is Singapore, Singapore is Kuan Yew'. He is probably the world's only democratically elected leader who can boast, as France's Louis XIV is believed to have done, 'L'etat c'est moi' (I am the state). That, too, has an Indian parallel. It was only half in jest that British newspapers bestowed on Indira Gandhi the 'Empress of India' title invented for Queen Victoria.
Monday, March 8, 2010 By
In A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta, Paul Theroux describes an animal sacrifice at the Kali temple in Kalighat. A goat, garlanded with flowers, is led bleating into a walled enclosure to the beat of drums. Once inside, the terrified creature is thrust between two upright stakes and caressed by a barefoot priest, who then hacks off its head to screeches of delight from the crowd.
The narrator, Jerry Delfont, an American travel writer invited to give talks in Calcutta (Kolkata) by the US consulate, is horrified by the spectacle. He is then led inside the temple, which is also frightening:
We shuffled past an inside window where the image of the goddess Kali, gleaming black and brightly marked, stared with orange lozenge eyes from a stack of blossoms and offerings. I was briefly frightened, jostled by the mob in this stifling place of incense and flowers and dishes of money and frantic pilgrims, who were twitching with gestures of devotion and gasping, seeming to eat the air, all of them staring wildly at the furious image.
Theroux is clearly writing as an outsider, who doesn't share the religious sentiments of the Hindus. The scene is nightmarish. Even Hindus may recoil from the animal sacrifice. And was it necessary to give such a lurid description of the image of the goddess?
Sunday, January 17, 2010 By
Jyoti Basu died today after prolonged illness in his hometown, Calcutta (now Kolkata). His death is being reported by not just by Indian newspapers but also by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the BBC.
An Associated Press report published in the Journal says:
Veteran communist leader Jyoti Basu, who in 1996 came close to becoming India's prime minister, died Sunday after a prolonged illness, a party spokesman said. He was 96.
Mr. Basu became chief minister of West Bengal state in 1977 and served for 23 years, making him the longest-serving chief minister in India's political history. In 1996, a group of parties asked Mr. Basu to lead a coalition government in New Delhi. However, the communist party declined, saying it didn't want to be part of a government in which it didn't have a majority. Mr. Basu later described that decision as a "historic blunder."
The New York Times looks back on his political career :
Jyoti Basu, a powerful leftist leader who dominated politics in the state of West Bengal for more than two decades and nearly became India’s first Communist prime minister, died in Calcutta on Sunday. He was 95.
Friday, January 30, 2009 By
I am surprised the BBC didn’t mention the Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith is in Calcutta (Kolkata) for the Kolkata Book Fair. Maybe the BBC presenter and the Indian correspondent Subir Bhowmik ran out of time discussing the size and scale and the city’s passion for books that has made it the world’s largest retail book fair. Yes, that’s what the BBC said, the Kolkata Book Fair is the world’s largest retail book fair. Attended by millions of people.
The queue to enter the fair could be kilometres long, said the BBC correspondent. That’s why it was moved away from the Maidan. Environmentalists worried the vast crowd was polluting the Maidan, the green belt in the heart of the city.
I felt so proud when the BBC described my old hometown Calcutta’s love for books. Book sales in Calcutta are not likely to be hit even by the global downturn, said Subir Bhowmik. Bengalis – that’s people like him and me – can’t do without books and travel, he said.
He has been attending the fair since it started in 1976. I was there too. That’s where I could pick up the Larousse encyclopedias and the Thames and Hudson art books on the cheap. They used to be sold at discounts by booksellers from New Delhi, where apparently there were few buyers for those books.
Here in Singapore I like Borders and Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookshop which is even better and has a larger collection than Borders.
But I enjoyed nothing better than visiting Rupa’s, the old bookshop on College Street. It used to be thick with Penguins – PG Wodehouse, AJP Taylor, John Updike, Gerald Durrell, Alistair Cooke, Graham Greene, Kingsley Amis, Michael Innes, Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, every author neatly arranged.
And it was at Oxford Bookshop on Park Street that I first saw the USA Today.
I also remember the bookshops in New Market, which used to keep neatly pressed copies of The Times and other British newspapers for delivery to the clubs in Calcutta.
Alexander McCall Smith tribute to RK Narayan
Alexander McCall Smith has been praising Indian writers such as RK Narayan, Vikram Seth and Vikram Chandra. The Hindu reports he said:
“The works of R.K. Narayan have steered my writing to a certain direction… The Man-Eater of Malgudi was the first of Narayan’s books that I read, and the effect was profound.”
Allen Ginsberg and Calcutta
But of all the writers who have visited Calcutta, the one who made the deepest impression was the poet, Allen Ginsberg.
He made friends with famous Bengali writers, poets and journalists when he visited the city in the early 60s. They did things I better not write about in Singapore. But here’s a report.
Calcutta is non-conformist, anti-establishment, said the BBC correspondent Subir Bhowmik. But the younger generation is more career-oriented, he added. Still, there’s hope…
Barack Obama is the biggest sensation this year. The Times of India reports:
Audacity of Hope and Dreams From My Father are out of stock in most bookstores. Distributors have placed huge orders for these two books, expecting a rush for them during the Kolkata Book Fair.
Saturday, December 20, 2008 By
John Steinbeck died on this day in 1968 at the age of 66, six years after he won the Nobel Prize, which even he himself didn’t expect.
When asked by a reporter whether he believed he deserved the prize, he responded, "Frankly, no,” says Robert Gottlieb. In a New York Review of Books article published in April this year, he writes about Steinbeck:
When to everyone's surprise, including his own, he won the 1962 Nobel Prize, the reaction was startlingly hostile. "Without detracting in the least from Mr. Steinbeck's accomplishments," ran a New York Times editorial, "we think it interesting that the laurel was not awarded to a writer …whose significance, influence and sheer body of work had already made a more profound impression on the literature of our age."
Of Mice and Men
But Steinbeck still sells “well over a million copies a year,” says Gottlieb, “with Of Mice and Men accounting for more than half of them. (It's short, it's easy to follow, and it's full of feeling—a perfect assignment for junior high school readers.)”
Note the words Gottlieb puts in brackets. He sounds so dismissive. But he finally has to praise the book.
It begins, as so many Steinbeck novels do, with a loving evocation of its natural setting:
“A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green…. On the valley side the water is lined with trees—willows fresh and green with every spring.”
And he loves his central characters, too, the pair of itinerant ranch hands—"bindlestiffs"—named George and Lennie. George is the smart one, the leader; Lennie is the massive semi-idiot, worshiping George, dreaming of the little bit of land they might one day own, and—his most powerful fantasy—the rabbits he might one day be able to tend and caress.
We know that this isn't going to happen, and on some level George knows it too, but he needs to believe in it as strongly as Lennie does: it's the illusion they live by. And then, catastrophe. Yes, the pathos is laid on thick; yes, everything is foreshadowed and manipulated. (Edmund Wilson called it "contrived with almost too much cleverness.") But Steinbeck's sympathy for these decent, forlorn men is so intense that it carries us along with it. Uninfected by moralizing, ingeniously if stagily constructed, and credibly populated, Of Mice and Men—far from Steinbeck's most ambitious book—is the closest he came to a fully satisfying work of art.
The snapshot here from Google Book Search shows George and Lennie’s first appearance in the book, just after Steinbeck has described the banks of the Salinas River.
I was moved to tears when I read the book a long time ago. Imagine Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid without the wisecracks and the horseplay. Of Mice and Men describes a relationship similar to that except that one man is totally dependent on the other.
Writer for hard times
In my younger days in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Steinbeck was popular with our parents’ generation. The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Cannery Row, they were all popular books. While The Grapes of Wrath was considered a classic – Calcutta has always been a leftist city – East of Eden was apparently a very popular movie, too, though I have not seen it myself.
Steinbeck is relevant again today because of the economic downturn, says the Millions blog:
With Of Mice and Men (1939) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940), John Steinbeck embodied the Great Depression in fiction. It would be a small silver lining if this moment produced an epic on the order of Steinbeck…The world needs an exhaustive look at what happened in 2008 and why.
Steinbeck may suit people who like folk music – songs like This Land is Your Land, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Prison Trilogy…
Maybe I am over-romanticising Steinbeck. I haven’t him read him for a long time.
But I was moved by Of Mice and Men.
And a man has to have his heart in the right place to say, as Steinbeck did:
"Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love."
"All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal."
"I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen."