Monday, November 28, 2005

Wreckers!

I love Indian newspapers - I only read the English lanuage ones because my Hindi isn't up to much. However, I am trying to do something about that: I've written an Objective-C app for OS X to test me on the Devanagari (Hindi) alphabet. It displays a Devanagari character, and I have to type in the English phonetic equivalent. I wasn't too bad at the alphabet before, but a few of the less common characters kept catching me out. This simple app has helped me learn the gotchas, and increase my recognition speed for all the characters in general. My next step is to write a simple vocabulary tester... Whether this keeness is an eagerness to learn Hindi, or a fondess for Cocoa coding in OS X is left to the reader.

Back to those newspapers. We get the Times of India - it has a terrific logo consisting of two elephants shoving a shield with their trunks. I'm sure the college of heraldry has a specific name for that: two pachyderms passant opposing a heraldic crest, or some such. But it's the stories rather than mastheads that are the real entertainment. A typical day is not complete without at least a few pages laying into politcians; both local and national. Lalu Prasad, the notorious Chief Minister of Bihar, got ousted the other day which provides a font of stories. Similarly, on a more local level the Maharashtra nationalist party Shiv Sena party are imploding: the leaders nephew has quit, and his mob were most effective at stoning the car of the leader's son. It's all a bit more ribald, not to mention internecine, than the Westminster yah-boo.

In the past couple of weeks though another story has grabbed the headlines from the politicians: the successful extraditition of Abu Salem. He was apparently a player in a Mumbai blast about ten years ago. At the time he had the second lowest price on his head, but now he has been deported from Portugal he is being built up as some sort of kingpin. There seems to be little concept of sub judice over here: the press are full of colourful stories about the crores (10,000,000) of rupees he has amassed. Not only that, plenty of rumoured confessions are printed daily. His companion, Monica Bedi, an erstwhile Bolywood actress was arrested alongside him: great delight was made in describing the rigours of a Hyderabadi women's prison in great detail. They even had a Bollywood vox pop article: possibly uncharitably, everyone who voiced an opinion said that they never really spoke to her, or for that matter knew her at all.

But politics and gangsters aren't the main attraction for me. The other day the Times published just the kind of article that I scour its pages for. The eternal struggle between the Pune-Mumbai-Pune taxi drivers association and their bitter enemies: the Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai taxi drivers association. Apparently they've been at loggerheads since 1974. Admittedly that's less than eternal - but still. It's not even a tale of deep intrigue: just seemingly petty moans about pitches and passenger stealing. I'm sure it's important if you make you're living driving a taxi between these two neighbouring cities, but keeping the feud open for three decades is a supreme achievement by both sides.

3 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Do any of these papers have websites?

12:21 PM

 
Blogger JamesW said...

Link-o-rama:

Times of India: this is what I get delivered.

Deccan Chronicle: this ones Hyderabad based - I read this when I'm with the in-laws.

And a couple of others: The Indian Express and The Hindu

10:12 PM

 
Blogger JamesW said...

Wikipedia has lots more links.

10:18 PM

 

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