Monday, October 30, 2006

Post 175 : Innocent Drinks (I just learnt Innocent also means being honest)

I have been drinking out here @ London. Yes, in the past 2 months I have been consuming on an average of 3-5 litres of liquids a day. (Mind you quite a bit of those 2 months was in Mumbai as well).

UK seems to be a drinker’s heaven. You can booze and you can re-hydrate (drink water) with the same ease here. A beer is always around the corner.

One drink that I have always liked is smoothies coming from a company called ‘Innocent’, especially the one where they have lemon, honey and yoghurt. Feels very healthy.

On a normal day, I usually pick up re-hydrating drinks from the Juice doctor ( another company), but today I think our pantry was out of stock.

I picked up ‘Innocent’ Juice Water, (made of lemon, lime and spring water).

The jacket sleeve on the bottle reads:

We had a bit to-do here the other day, jackets off, outside now, in the car park. Everyone out there, getting a bit over excited. All because of the juice and water thing. Which is better? Juice or water? The juice camp hold firm in their beliefs – juice has got all of the vitamins to keep you healthy and street tough. But the water people wont give an inch. They counter the talk of rehydration and healthy looking skin. Who’s right? Probably both of them to be honest. Hence this drink. Now pack it in and kiss and make up. That’s better.

Someplace else it also reads

An Innocent Promise:
We promise that anything innocent will always taste good and do you good. We promise that we will never use concentrates, preservatives, stabilizers or any other weird stuff in our drinks. And we promise to never cheat at cards.

It makes me wonder, what our marketing schmoozes keep ranting about mindspace, shelfspace, mediaspace. Did anyone tell them about connectspace?

I love this brand. If this was listed, I would buy all I could afford, and yes sir, (because you don’t cheat at cards), I will be a loyal customer for life.

Kotler and his ilk are dead, long live marketing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Post 174: Music – 7 – ‘I believe’ by Savage Garden

The last post on music was

I was recently listening to I believe by Savage Garden, its not something I have heard for the first time, but the song has a very unusual pace, and is very soothing. I think its more of Darren Hayes’ vocal which has the calming tempo, it’s a very Australian voice.

The lyrics of ‘I believe’, though very simple force you to think, nice intense song. If you have never heard it before go for it.

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem
I believe I'm loved when I'm completely by myself alone

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye
I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Post 173: Twins 1 – Mallika Sherawat and Beyonce

I recently saw a snap of Beyonce, and SNAP!! in my head, I could not help but think how here facial features remind me of Mallika Sherawat. I know some of you would be loathe to agree, but its what I think is what I see, I am just uploading the two photos.

Ignore the color, size, just concentrate on the dimples and facial features.....(eyes probably).

Post 172 : That look in your eyes

I have come down to London for a short visit. Bars are ubiquitous here. As I was walking home yesterday, saw a desi couple (its just a co-incidence that they were desi, they could have been anyone) – the couple was neither in an embrace nor were smooching. They were on the chairs outside a popular bar. Two glasses of beer lying around. Their arms were around their neck, and they were deeply engrossed in each other’s eyes and muttering some sweetnothings.

I must have seen all this in less than a second. (Nope, I am civilized enough not to stand and stare).

That one second was enough to give me goose pimples. Why ? Nah, I am no romantic, neither am I poet.

I know my love for over 11 years now, and our relationship never stagnated, infact I never think it has been any stronger than today. Yet, I can’t imagine doing that. I can’t stare into her eyes, don’t remember the last time I did it.

And today, I saw a couple (again a desi….maybe the desis run promiscus in english land), cuddling each other, sitting on a park bench and happily talking, and they did that for over 4 hours. ( I am sure of that because I left for office at 2, and they were still around by 6) when I had gone down to get a few items of food.

As I often say, they say, a poet is someone who can look at a normal incident and be moved. I was indeed moved, though I am neither a romantic, nor is my love being sacrified at the altar, but still, it did for a moment, give me a small stab a place which still beats like that of a poet.

Post 171: Locked in Syndrome

I was watching discovery the other night, and they had featured a patient with ‘Locked in Syndrome’ a case where a person’s all senses including pain is completely on, but his motor movement is restricted or absent.

These patients typically tend to communicate via eyes of via tapping (if they can).

Read Wikipedia ( for an interesting take on a French Author who dictated an entire book using his eyes.

I am terrified of such a state, how will I communicate, how will I write this blog?

Can you imagine, being unable to do nothing, being wanting to everything (including wanking ;-), and guess what you still have to live.

It must be a strange life to live, almost like being forced to be a Buddha.

It sounds perverse yet romantic...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Post 170 : Stock Update – 6 (Still betting on htmt)

Refer to

My portfolio reads only one stock and that is Hinduja TMT (HTMT). I believe there is immense value unlocking yet to go.

It’s a time to sit back and relax, in these matters I am very patient. My study tells me each stock shall open upto 1000-1500 from the current levels of 500 odd.

Even if that takes another 2 years, it sure and easy money, and its my life’s savings. I shall stick on.

I re-iterate my previous stocks with a new one added to it

Satnam Overseas – CMP 81 (target 180 June 07) – originally recommded at 55 – 22nd Oct update, looks like I shall miss this target

Apollo Hosp – CMP 459 (target 650 June 07) – originally recommended at 410 approx – 22nd Oct update , seems on target

Asahi India –CMP 126 (target 140 June 07) – originally reco at 82 – seems on target

Indraprastha Apollo Hosp – CMP 34 (target 48 June 07) – originally reco at 28 – seems on target

Mahindra Finance – CMP 240 (target 380 June 07) – originally reco at 290 – seems on target

Hinduja TMT (which I recommended for the best part of the past 1 year starting at 290, and as recently as of July at 490 with a target of 1000 by June 07) – CMP 490 – seems on target

NEW ------ Enterainment Network – (owners of Radio Mirchi) new reco starting today …… CMP around 250, should make it to 400 by Dec 07

Happy investing.

Post 169 : Weightwatcher -2 (Weight Loss )

Refer to

My target was to sub-100 by Dec 06, after weighing almost 106 in Aug 06. I tipped 99 yesterday.

Is it time to rejoice. I don’t think so. I am still fat……Its just that 99 looks so much more managable than 106.

As a child I used to chubby, a good 84 kgs by the time I was 14.....Its almost as if, my cells like to be fat, its an habit.

Post 168 : Quality of life

I live for the most part of my life in Mumbai, and when I do get out, like being in London for now….what strikes me the difference in quality of life.

And hell, no, I am not cribbing that Mumbai sucks, in-fact I don’t want to speak about external dependencies or systems, but just quality of life from a ‘personal’ viewpoint.

I see mid-aged folks jogging for 1 hour as if their lives depended on it. * People make a genuine attempt to formally connect to families and friends. * Kids have a more active and wholesome lifestyle. * Each person learns to play at least one music instrument * Literature and music are integrated into most familites * Food vacillates between decadent and healthy, but for most part is healthy * Families tend to value personal time and plan for every weekend.

The list can go on like this. None of the points mentioned above requires any initiative from the system around you, instead it is simply related to our own perspective in life. Wonder why, we as Indians don’t invest enough into our life.

Post 167 : Signs of (my) body talking to me

For two days in a row, have had very scary dreams of me losing my memory….a la Alzheimer.

One day, I am in a conversation with someone over a Pooja bhatt movie, and can see her in my inner eye, but frustratingly enough can’t give her a name, leading to my stumbling in the conversation…..

On the second day, have a conversation again with someone and struggle with the same feeling around a writer’s name.

The two dreams were so overpowering, woke up on Sunday morning and had a feeling that these incidents had actually occurred. As soon as I realized, they had only been dreams, a whole wave of relaxation swarmed over me.
I am phobic of Alzheimer, my family history has it, hope I never have it…..On the other hand, I think it is the best way to die ….you die pristine like a baby, no memories, no fears, no ties with the world.

Metaphorically, I think maybe the disease is an aberration in the world, a process of liberation from Maya, which starts on its own volition, leaving a person in a fairly incongruent state with the world, yet ironically connecting him with his real self.

Post 166 : Movie 2 - Jet Set Go….Tube on the air

Had a long flight out to London on the 18th. Flew JetAirways. Had initially planned on reading up Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, ended up watching 4 movies instead.

BluffMaster : Starring Abhishek Bachan and Priyanka Chopra. It’s a decent passable movie, with a unique twists thrown in. The end reminded me so much of ‘The Game’ (Michael Douglas, Sean Penn). One point though, I have heard numerous comparisons between Priyanka and Zeenat Aman, but I differ (and bear with me this is the first Priyanka movie I saw), she reminded me spookily of Parveen Babi (esp. note carefully when she gives a side view to the camera). Rated 3/5

Tax No.9211 : Nana Patekar all the way. I liked the movie only because of him, has done a brilliant job. Rated 3/5

Vertigo : Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Had never seen it so far, nice fun. I thought had a kind of lame ending, but still a masterpiece. Rated 3/5

Nayak : Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece on a ‘in-the-prime’ actor being jilted out of his make believe world, both by his own instrospection and some external stimuli. I loved this movie. Rated 4/5

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Post 165 : Book 4 (SV)

Awesome, go read it. Its probably the best $14 you shall ever spend in your life. God, Prophet, Devil, the world...give me the skill to write like this. Just once, only once, before I die....If I ever write something like this, the next moment, khattam shud....I am ready to die. This book will get 10/10 Am I biased? Maybe, yes, I never had 20/20 eyesight.

Post 164 : Passages 38 (The end)

SV, SR, Pg. 547 "I told you a long time back," Gibreel Farishta quietly said, "that if I thought the sickness would never leave me, that it would always return, I would not be able to bear up to it." Then, very quickly, before Salahuddin could move a finger, Gibreel put the barrel of the gun into his own mouth; and pulled the trigger; and was free. He stood at the window of his childhood and looked out at the Arabian Sea. The moon was almost full; moonlight, stretching from the rocks of Scandal Point out to the far horizon, created the illusion of a silver pathway, like a parting in the water's shining hair, like a road to miraculous lands. He shook his head; could no longer believe in fairy-tales. Childhood was over, and the view from this window was no more than an old and sentimental echo. To the devil with it! Let the bulldozers come. If the old refused to die, the new could not be born. "Come along," Zeenat Vakil's voice said at his shoulder. It seemed that in spite of all his wrong-doing, weakness, guilt -- in spite of his humanity -- he was getting another chance. There was no accounting for one's good fortune, that was plain. There it simply was, taking his elbow in its hand. "My place," Zeeny offered. "Let's get the hell out of here." "I'm coming," he answered her, and turned away from the view.

Post 163 : Passages 37 (What happens when you rub the lamp)

SV, SR, Pg. 546 The revolver jumped up, into his other hand. A fearsome jinnee of monstrous stature appeared, Salahuddin remembered. "What is your wish? I am the slave of him who holds the lamp." What a limiting thing is a weapon, Salahuddin thought, feeling oddly detached from events. -- Like Gibreel when the sickness came. -- Yes, indeed; a most confining manner of thing. -- For how few the choices were, now that Gibreel was the _armed man and he, the unarmed; how the universe had shrunk! The true djinns of old had the power to open the gates of the Infinite, to make all things possible, to render all wonders capable of being attained; how banal, in comparison, was this modern spook, this degraded descendant of mighty ancestors, this feeble slave of a twentieth--century lamp.

Post 162 : Passages 36 (What is a ghost?)

SV, SR, Pg. 540 Two days later, Salahuddin Chamchawala read in his Sunday papers that an international team of mountaineers, on their way to attempt an ascent of the Hidden Peak, had arrived in Bombay; and when he saw that among the team was the famed "Queen of Everest", Miss Alleluia Cone, he had a strange sense of being haunted, a feeling that the shades of his imagination were stepping out into the real world, that destiny was acquiring the slow, fatal logic of a dream. "Now I know what a ghost is," he thought. "Unfinished business, that's what."

Post 161 : Passages 35 (Rediscovering your father)

SV, SR, Pg. 523 To fall in love with one's father after the long angry decades was a serene and beautiful feeling; a renewing, life-giving thing, Saladin wanted to say, but did not, because it sounded vampirish; as if by sucking this new life out of his father he was making room, in Changez's body, for death. Although he kept it quiet, however, Saladin felt hourly closer to many old, rejected selves, many alternative Saladins -- or rather Salahuddins -- which had split off from himself as he made his various life choices, but which had apparently continued to exist, perhaps in the parallel universes of quantum theory. Cancer had stripped Changez Chamchawala literally to the bone; his cheeks had collapsed into the hollows of the skull, and he had to place a foam-rubber pillow under his buttocks because of the atrophying of his flesh. But it had also stripped him of his faults, of all that had been domineering, tyrannical and cruel in him, so that the mischievous, loving and brilliant man beneath lay exposed, once again, for all to see. _If only he could have been this person all his life_, Saladin (who had begun to find the sound of his full, unEnglished name pleasing for the first time in twenty years) found himself wishing. How hard it was to find one's father just when one had no choice but to say goodbye. On Page 529 "I want you to know," he said to his son, "that I have no problem about this thing at all. A man must die of something, and it is not as though I were dying young. I have no illusions; I know I am not going anywhere after this. It's the end. That's okay. The only thing I'm afraid of is pain, because when there is pain a man loses his dignity. I don't want that to happen." Salahuddin was awestruck. _First one falls in love with one's father all over again, and then one learns to look up to him, too_. "The doctors say you're a case in a million," he replied truthfully. "It looks like you have been spared the pain." Something in Changez relaxed at that, and Salahuddin realized how afraid the old man had been, how much he'd needed to be told... "Bas," Changez Chamchawala said gruffly. "Then I'm ready. And by the way: you get the lamp, after all." On Page 531 Then all of a sudden Changez Chamchawala left his face; he was still alive, but he had gone somewhere else, had turned inwards to look at whatever there was to see. _He is teaching me how to die_, Salahuddin thought. _He does not avert his eyes, but looks death right in the face_. At no point in his dying did Changez Chamchawala speak the name of God. Again on Page 531 The last thing he had seen in his father's face, just before the medical staff's final, useless effort, was the dawning of a terror so profound that it chilled Salahuddin to the bone. What had he seen? What was it that waited for him, for all of us, that brought such fear to a brave man's eyes? -- Now, when it was over, he returned to Changez's bedside; and saw his father's mouth curved upwards, in a smile. He caressed those sweet cheeks. _I didn't shave him today. He died with stubble on his chin_. How cold his face was already; but the brain, the brain retained a little warmth. They had stuffed cottonwool into his nostrils. _But suppose there's been a mistake? What if he wants to breathe?_ Nasreen Chamchawala was beside him. "Let's take your father home," she said. On Page 533 And: The bier, strewn with flowers, like an outsize baby's cot. The body, wrapped in white, with sandalwood shavings, for fragrance, scattered all about it. More flowers, and a green silken covering with Quranic verses embroidered upon it in gold. The ambulance, with the bier resting in it, awaiting the widows' permission to depart. The last farewells of women. The graveyard. Male mourners rushing to lift the bier on their shoulders trample Salahuddin's foot, ripping off a segment of the nail on his big toe. Among the mourners, an estranged old friend of Changez's, here in spite of double pneumonia; -- and another old gentleman, weeping copiously, who will die himself the very next day; -- and all sorts, the walking records of a dead man's life. The grave. Salahuddin climbs down into it, stands at the head end, the gravedigger at the foot. Changez Chamchawala is lowered down. _The weight of my father's head, lying in my hand. I laid it down; to rest. The world, somebody wrote, is the place we prove real by dying in it.

Post 160 : Passages 34 ( Death @ Mecca)

SV, SR, Pg. 507 On the last night of his life he heard a noise like a giant crushing a forest beneath his feet, and smelled a stench like the giant's fart, and he realized that the tree was burning. He got out of his chair and staggered dizzily down to the garden to watch the fire, whose flames were consuming histories, memories, genealogies, purifying the earth, and coming towards him to set him free; -- because the wind was blowing the fire towards the grounds of the mansion, so soon enough, soon enough, it would be his turn. He saw the tree explode into a thousand fragments, and the trunk crack, like a heart; then he turned away and reeled towards the place in the garden where Ayesha had first caught his eye; -- and now he felt a slowness come upon him, a great heaviness, and he lay down on the withered dust. Before his eyes closed he felt something brushing at his lips, and saw the little cluster of butterflies struggling to enter his mouth. Then the sea poured over him, and he was in the water beside Ayesha, who had stepped miraculously out of his wife's body . .. "Open," she was crying. "Open wide!" Tentacles of light were flowing from her navel and he chopped at them, chopped, using the side of his hand. "Open," she screamed. "You've come this far, now do the rest." -- How could he hear her voice? -- They were under water, lost in the roaring of the sea, but he could hear her clearly, they could all hear her, that voice like a bell. "Open," she said. He closed. He was a fortress with clanging gates. -- He was drowning. -- She was drowning, too. He saw the water fill her mouth, heard it begin to gurgle into her lungs. Then something within him refused that, made a different choice, and at the instant that his heart broke, he opened. His body split apart from his adam"s-apple to his groin, so that she could reach deep within him, and now she was open, they all were, and at the moment of their opening the waters parted, and they walked to Mecca across the bed of the Arabian Sea.

Post 159 : Passages 33 (Partition on land and sea)

SV, SR, Pg. 507 She climbed up, with the villagers' help, on to an unused thela lying next to a soft--drink stall, and didn't answer Saeed until she could look down at him from her new perch. "Gibreel says the sea is like our souls. When we open them, we can move through into wisdom. If we can open our hearts, we can open the sea." "Partition was quite a disaster here on land," he taunted her. "Quite a few guys died, you might remember. You think it will be different in the water?" "Shh," said Ayesha suddenly. "The angel's almost here."

Post 158 : Passages 32 (Devil and the deep blue sea)

SV, SR, Pg. 484 "Those who listen to the Devil's verses, spoken in the Devil's tongue," she cried, "will go to the Devil in the end." "It's a choice, then," Mirza Saeed answered her, "between the devil and the deep blue sea."

Post 157 : Passages 31 (Compromise a win)

SV, SR, Pg. 467 What happens when you win? When your enemies are at your mercy: how will you act then? Compromise is the temptation of the weak; this is the test for the strong.

Post 156 : Passages 30 (What does a poet write?)

SV, SR, Pg. 459 What does a poet write? Verses. What jingle-jangles in Gibreel's brain? Verses. What broke his heart? Verses and again verses.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Post 155 : Passages 29 (What Cameras see?)

SV, SR, Pg. 455 Television cameras arrive just in time for the raid on Club Hot Wax. This is what a television camera sees: less gifted than the human eye, its night vision is limited to what klieg lights will show. A helicopter hovers over the nightclub, urinating light in long golden streams; the camera understands this image. The machine of state bearing down upon its enemies. -- And now there's a camera in the sky; a news editor somewhere has sanctioned the cost of aerial photography, and from another helicopter a news team is _shooting down_. No attempt is made to chase this helicopter away. The noise of rotor blades drowns the noise of the crowd. In this respect, again, video recording equipment is less sensitive than, in this case, the human ear. -- Cut. -- A man lit by a sun-gun speaks rapidly into a microphone. Behind him there is a disorderment of shadows. But between the reporter and the disordered shadow--lands there stands a wall: men in riot helmets, carrying shields. The reporter speaks gravely; petrolbombs plasticbullets policeinjuries water-- cannon looting, confining himself, of course, to facts. But the camera sees what he does not say. A camera is a thing easily broken or purloined; its fragility makes it fastidious. A camera requires law, order, the thin blue line. Seeking to preserve itself, it remains behind the shielding wall, observing the shadow-lands from afar, and of course from above: that is, it chooses sides. On the same page Behind him, the camera sees stretchers, ambulances, pain. -- It sees strange humanoid shapes being hauled up from the bowels of the Club Hot Wax, and recognizes the effigies of the mighty. Inspector Kinch explains. They cook them in an oven down there, they call it fun, I wouldn't call it that myself. -- The camera observes the wax models with distaste. -- Is there not something _witchy_ about them, something cannibalistic, an unwholesome smell? Have _black arts_ been practised here? -- The camera sees broken windows. It sees something burning in the middle distance: a car, a shop. It cannot understand, or demonstrate, what any of this achieves. These people are burning their own streets.

Post 154: Passages 28 (Continuous vs. discontinuous)

SV, SR, Pg. 427 Well, then. -- Are we coming closer to it? Should we even say that these arc two fundamentally" different _types_ of self? Might we not agree that Gibreel, for all his stage--name and performances; and in spite of born-again slogans, new beginnings, rnetamorphoses; -- has wished to remain, to a large degree, continuous -- that is, joined to and arising from his past; -- that he chose neither near--fatal illness nor transmuting fall; that, in point of fact, he fears above all things the altered states in which his dreams leak into, and overwhelm, his waking self, making him that angelic Gibreel he has no desire to be; -- so that his is still a self which, for our present purposes, we may describe as "true" . . . whereas Saladin Chamcha is a creature of selected dis-- continuities, a willing re--invention; his preferred revolt against history being what makes him, in our chosen idiom, "false"? And might we then not go on to say that it is this falsity of self that makes possible in Chamcha a worse and deeper falsity -- call this "evil" -- and that this is the truth, the door, that was opened in him by his fall? -- While Gibreel, to follow the logic of our established terminology, is to be considered "good" by virtue of _wishing to remain_, for all his vicissitudes, at bottom an untranslated man. But, and again but: this sounds, does it not, dangerously like an intentionalist fallacy? -- Such distinctions, resting as they must on an idea of the self as being (ideally) homogeneous, non-hybrid, "pure", -- an utterly fantastic notion! -- cannot, must not, suffice. No! Let's rather say an even harder thing: that evil may not be as far beneath our surfaces as we like to say it is. -- That, in fact, we fall towards it naturally, that is, not against our natures. -- And that Saladin Chamcha set out to destroy Gibreel Farishta because, finally, it proved so easy to do; the true appeal of evil being the seductive ease with which one may embark upon that road. (And, let us add in conclusion, the later impossibility of return.)

Post 153 : Passages 27 (On the left hand of God)

SV, SR, Pg. 419 He seemed to see a road before him, forking to left and right. Closing his eyes, settling back against taxicab upholstery, he chose the left--hand path.

Post 152 : Passages 26 (Who are you?)

SV, SR, Pg. 417 There was an art cinema next to the Friends House, and he was leaning against a movie poster. The film was _Mephisto_, the story of an actor seduced into a collaboration with Nazism. In the poster, the actor -- played by the German star Klaus Maria Brandauer -- was dressed up as Mephistophilis, face white, body cloaked in black, arms upraised. Lines from _Faust_ stood above his head: Who art thou, then?_ Part of that Power, not understood, Which always wills the Bad, and always works the Good.

Post 151 : Passages 25 (TV the buttoned monster)

SV, SR, Pg 405 He watched a good deal of television with half an eye, channel-hopping compulsively, for he was a member of the remote-control culture of the present as much as the piggy boy on the street corner; he, too, could comprehend, or at least enter the illusion of comprehending, the composite video monster his button-pushing brought into being ... what a leveller this remote--control gizmo was, a Procrustean bed for the twentieth century; it chopped down the heavyweight and stretched out the slight until all the set's emissions, commercials, murders, game-- shows, the thousand and one varying joys and terrors of the real and the imagined, acquired an equal weight; -- and whereas the original Procrustes, citizen of what could now be termed a "hands-on" culture, had to exercise both brain and brawn, he, Chamcha, could lounge back in his Parker--Knoll recliner chair and let his fingers do the chopping. It seemed to him, as he idled across the channels, that the box was full of freaks: there were mutants -- "Mutts" -- on _Dr. Who_, bizarre creatures who appeared to have been crossbred with different types of industrial machinery: forage harvesters, grabbers, donkeys, jackhammers, saws, and whose cruel priest-chieftains were called _Mutilasians_; children's television appeared to be exclusively populated by humanoid robots and creatures with metamorphic bodies, while the adult programmes offered a continual parade of the misshapen human by-products of the newest notions in modern medicine, and its accomplices, modern disease and war. A hospital in Guyana had apparently preserved the body of a fully formed merman, complete with gills and scales. Lycanthropy was on the increase in the Scottish Highlands. The genetic possibility of centaurs was being seriously discussed. A sex--change operation was shown. -- He was reminded of an execrable piece of poetry which Jumpy Joshi had hesitantly shown him at the Shaandaar B and B. Its name, "I Sing the Body Eclectic", was fully representative of the whole. -- But the fellow has a whole body, after all, Saladin thought bitterly. He made Pamela's baby with no trouble at all: no broken sticks on his damn chromosomes. . . he caught sight of himself in a rerun of an old _Aliens Show_ "classic". (In the fast--forward culture, classic status could be achieved in as little as six months; sometimes even overnight.) The effect of all this box-watching was to put a severe dent in what remained of his idea of the normal, average quality of the real; but there were also countervailing forces at work.