Colour of skin, hair and eyes

Colour of a passport and a flag

Colour of prejudice

Colour of perception

Colour of superiority and snobbery

Colour of money, of a credit card

Colour of gold, platinum, diamonds, gems

Colour that determines who you are

Colour that gets you privileges, importance

Colour that can kill you

Colour finally of blood that flows out

Colour that is RED, sapping, seeping into the earth

Colourless ashes that we turn into!


One of the top selling beauty products in India is


This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic..suggested by Sanjanah. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Prof.Natarajan.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.






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Xenophobia…Prof. N Natarajan

Xenophobia means a native’s dislike of or hatred for people from another country or region. Normally if you encounter a stranger when you are alone, it arouses in you a feeling of curiosity or insecurity. You tend to be cautious, suspicious and defensive. Yet you wish to appear confident and reassured. If you are an introvert you would wait for the other guy to say hello first. If you are the outgoing type you seize the initiative and try to reach up to him. Confrontation is unlikely. Group dynamics are altogether another cup of tea. If a group runs into a stranger, they like to strike an aggressive or intimidating posture, expecting the other chap to be on the defensive. They try to be bossy. In colleges this is called ragging by seniors. Rowdy Ragging can be traumatic and even lead to commitment of suicide by the freshman. It is banned and yet clandestine ragging is quite common. One excuse is that it is meant to remove shyness and to unearth talent. Perhaps I am digressing from the prescribed topic.
I believe that the origin of Xenophobia is the attitude of a large group to one or a small number of strangers among them. The group tends to view a stranger with suspicion especially if he cannot speak the local language fluently or displays superior or inferior skills or wears another kind of attire or has other strange habits which the group is not familiar with. This generates hostility in the group. The differences are seen as an invasion on their tradition and norms of culture, that could eventually translate into prejudice and hatred. Describing their attitude as intolerance is the easy way of dismissing their behaviour. The US is seeing the ugly side of hatred by the privileged group who think that the country only belongs to them, although history shows they they cannot claim that legitimacy. They are an example of what is described below.

Very often in history, foreigners have entered countries in very small numbers (accidentally or intentionally) and then gone on to commit genocide, drive away the locals or enslave them, destroying their culture, imposition of a new language, resorting to religious conversion by deceit, bribe and denigration of the local customs and plundering their wealth to become their masters. The final aim was plunder of local resources. In the execution of these atrocities they struck alliances with a few locals to get under the skin of the general public.

The civilised name for this was colonisation. Thankfully that chapter of world history is over, but a new chapter called neo-colonisation has now begun. That would be a topic for another blog.

Xenophobia is not necessarily towards a person from another country. It could also be towards a person from another region of the same country. It is not necessarily open hatred. It has many nuances. In many Hindi and regional films a character is portrayed as a crude character hailing from another region and his language, and habits are made fun of, in the name of humour. His mannerism is exaggerated to poke fun. Nasty comments are made on the colour of his skin. The watching crowd giggles in appreciation. Could this be be dismissed as innocent antics to provoke laughter or is there a xenophobia here? The jury is out on that one.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic..suggested by Sanjanah. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Padmini.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.


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Print mediaOnce upon a time, newspapers were tame animals. They only doled out news items that were fed to them by news agencies. Newspapers from different business houses published identical news items sourced from PTI for domestic news and Reuters for international news. Sarkari news was distributed by the Press Information Bureau run by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Most big ads, especially Tender notices came from the Government which also controlled newsprint allotment. The government control was complete. News conferences were very rare. There were very few reporters. There was little investigative journalism and even less sensational scoops. Some exceptions were the Bofors deal that was assiduously pursued by the Hindu. Another spicy scandal was the Reliance one that was dished out by the Indian Express. 

News Scoops were the specialty of weekly tabloids like Blitz and Current. The two had positioned themselves with diametrically opposite political stances. These tabloids did not command the same respect or credibility. Blitz’s marketing gimmick was to publish the pin up of a starlet or model on the last page. Occasionally there were rumours that their owners now and then planted imaginary scandals and were used by the government to target and tarnish uncooperative or inconvenient bureaucrats and politicians.

MagazinesThen came the new era of glossy news magazines, led by India Today and others like Frontline and Outlook. Since routine news reporting was done by the dailies, such magazines had to do something more original. Their format was designed by copying or emulating Time or Newsweek. They vigorously introduced sensational investigative stories about corruption, moral turpitude, film news etc.

It is astonishing how much transformation the media has undergone today. Newspapers have become more dynamic and are now and then exposing scandals and digging out news items from the farthest corners of the country and even overseas. They have a large number of stringers doing the rounds of courts and government offices. Together with the visual media, they have exposed several mega scandals. The vociferous print media, ably backed by the TV news channels, exposed the corruption ridden Manmohan Government in the last few years leading to the election of the BJP Government in 2014.

Lately, news reporting has become a rat race. TV channels are constantly vying with each other flashing ‘Breaking News’ and are engaged in a dog fight for TRPs. Every evening their moderators hold durbars at which political parties are pitted against each other and tried through no holds barred slanging matches mildly called debates. Even simple issues are sensationalised. Every channel declares that it is the most watched channel. Every paper claims that it is the most preferred paper. In the good old days, oil Companies shared common storage facilities and sold the same oil. Yet constantly they ran high pitched sales campaign   bragging ‘My oil is better than yours’. Media is now following the same gimmick.

Media has extended its active presence even in court rooms thanks to its power of publicity. Formerly court proceedings were aptly called hearings. Judges would only attentively listen to arguments advanced by the counsels and observe the demeanour and body language of witnesses to assess their veracity. Occasionally they would seek clarifications or pose questions to help their understanding. None attending the proceedings could easily hazard a guess which way the judgement would go. Judges always kept a guarded neutral stance.

To a layman it appears that nowadays, even the judiciary seems to have caught the same infection that afflicts the print and news media. Judges are no more silent listeners. Court hearings are interspersed with acidic comments by judges that reach TV media even as the proceedings continue in the court room. Judges at the highest level are making dramatic observations in open court castigating the accused  or the government. Lawyers explain that these are only simple observations not to be confused with findings or interpreted as judgement.

At the Coalgate case hearing, a learned judge called CBI a ‘caged bird’. It was a very apt observation. It found a prominent place in the TV and newspapers immediately and CBI virtually became an object of public ridicule. The Apex court also received a lot of publicity and kudos. Since then the court has been making frequent observations in various cases, not amounting to judgement. Obviously their lordships are exercising their fundamental right of expression.

Media’s influence is growing day by day. Its business model too has changed beyond recognition. Perhaps not all of it is positive. Like it or not, the belligerent and raucous paparazzi media is here to stay.

Prof N Natarajan

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This word came into my personal space when my son Jai Natarajan introduced me to Unplugged by Eric Clapton. Tears in Heaven was the song and it had a huge impact on my appreciation of music. In fact it rejigged my critical listening of songs that were in my favourite playlist.


There was one song especially sung by a favourite singer of us siblings, Mukesh…not entirely unplugged but the first bits are like that.

The importance of lyrics is primary in Indian pop music and Carnatic music. The lyrics are poetry and if you can understand the language, often beautiful verses are penned and set to music. Of course, the joke is that a list of the words suitable to the situation are provided to the songwriter who then strings them together in permutation combinations…So you will have love, heartbreak, pain, society, sky, flowers, deserts, seas, society as words to be set to tune for a sad song!!

Modern film music is so much sound and the words are mumbled and therefore I cannot relate a great deal to it. I am quite intrigued to see youngsters using an app on their Ipads to play drums and percussion instruments with the touch of a finger. Notice the English words…the percussion click is quite prominent

Not having percussion is actually going against the grain. For, it is the pulse in your body that responds to the rhythms of life and the external world and makes the heart sing with joy! Yet, the overuse of percussion in Heavy Metal is not my cup of tea!

However, in unplugged music, the beat may be missing, but the timing is kept! One of the songs that has made a great impact on our pop music world is “Breathless” and here are two proponents of this genre!!

S P Balasubramanian


Lullabies are beautiful pieces of music…and necessarily, I think, they sound divine without beats and drums. To make a child sleep is a difficult task and soft music helps to lull them. Drums would have them jumping around like flies!!

Becoming unplugged was something I decided to do on Mondays…I put away my Ipad, laptop et all. I however had to keep the mobile going. I managed for 4 Mondays and then life happened! I keep the mobile near my bed…never mind everybody telling me not to do so. I keep it on silent, but the vibration does prod me awake…have I told you that my hearing is very sharp! With kids away in different Time Zones, I feel the need to be on call! I tend to have wakeful periods in the night nad many friends chuckle at the time shown in my posts….they mutter…”Ah! PN is Sleepless in Bengaluru”!!

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic..suggested by me after received a meme from Ramana Rajgopaul…my brother.


The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Prof.Natarajan.

Please drop in to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.



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The Virtues And Toxicities Of Popularity–PN’s Take

The minute this topic was suggested names and faces that flashed across my mind’s eye were Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana from the world’s optics and  Jayalalitha, Hemamalini, Sridevi and many other Indian film stars…all women who have been hugely popular and paid a heavy price for this.

In India, for our film stars there have been two major influences on their careers…mothers and family and the casting couch. Ambitious mothers who had not made the mark in the film world or left destitute by families turned to their pretty nubile daughters to save their sinking boat. The heroines made it big alright with adulation, fame, even fortune but there was a gaping hole in their personal space.

This vacuum where they lacked a confidante, a partner or just somebody to depend upon was filled in by co-stars, men with an important presence in the film world and in the case of Jayalalitha, the political arena as well. Most of them became second wives and in India bigamy is only punishable if the first wife takes umbrage and files a case. Their insecurity about men being after their money, after their bodies and the exploitation of families, the lack of grooms in the traditional arranged marriage scenario, the slur attached to their profession drove them to becoming second wives.

So in Tamilnadu, we have this concept of ‘chinna veedu’ or small/second home where the paramour is housed. We had a political giant who spent the day with his official wife and home and the evening to next morning in his second home. Both wives…in some cases 3 to 4 extra homes were very productive in terms of kids and they in turn took to films as well.

We also have a media that promotes an affair between stars when a film is being shot and about to release. It used to be conjecture, but now it is paid news and PR practices. The paparazzi is famous in the West and the biggest victim of it was Princess Diana. However, I think that her media blitz was also part of her being glorified into a victimised, solitary idol, a symbol of the ‘wronged, abused’ woman who was being spotlighted at that time. This was the era when women were coming out to protest against chauvinism and patriarchal norms that had an iron grip on society. Diana was a glamorous Pygmalion who became the mascot of this rebellion.

Are there virtues to popularity? Well, let me share an amusing account from my own life. There was a famous film star called Padmini..a friend of the family in fact! I had also briefly forayed into acting in films based on my years on the stage. The star was awarded a Regional Award called Kalaimamani…meaning a jewel in the garland of arts. My name was printed just before hers in trade directories. The phone bells rang that day incessantly to wish me on receiving the reward. I got a couple of bouquets as well that I had to return sadly!! Well…that could be the virtue of having a famous name in the same field, isn’t it?

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Prof.Natarajan.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.




Posted in Current Events, Friday Three On One blog, Life skills, Society, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


By N.Natarajan

Unplugged means a lot of things to to a lot of people. To me It means cutting out the noise around my thoughts. Eliminating distractions. Avoiding unnecessary frills. Suppressing the surround sound. Keeping functionality in focus.What was originally a term meant for electricians has gained currency among lesser humans.

There was a time in India (perhaps in other countries too) when appliances didn’t have their own switches. Once they were plugged into the electric socket they started singing, speaking, rotating, heating, cooling, grinding etc. To stop them from performing you simply pulled out the plug and they stopped immediately. Then manufacturers started placing a switch in the appliance, as a safety precaution in addition to the switch in the socket. This became a necessity when more than one device was connected to the same socket. Then came the era of built in batteries. The device could perform without being plugged in. The umbilical cord between the device and the power socket was cut. The baby gained the right to move about, cry and be heard. When the battery life was lost, we inserted another set of batteries.

Then there was an era of duality, when the appliance could be made to work on the mains or on ever-ready battery. Neither was a must. Finally we are in an age of rechargeable batteries and have the best of both the worlds. This is here to stay, COVID 19 permitting. It is worth noting that local repair electricians with short circuiting skills have not heard of plugs. They simply insert the wires of the device in the socket. Not for them, the safety prescriptions. They will be outraged by what we are talking about.

Let me unplug the noises and come to the point. What is noise for some ears is music for others. For me amplifiers are like loud politicians seeking forced entry into my ears uninvited. Thankfully we can increase or decrease the volume or put the device in the silent mode when the control is in our hands.

I hear not too loudly that AI can sensitise devices based on the tolerance level of our ear drums. Some of us are the beneficiaries of divine intervention in this noisy world especially in our advancing years and we can hear very little, be it good or evil.

When I go to the cinema to watch a movie (which is seldom) I carry cotton plugs as I can’t tolerate the output decibels. After I revealed this secret to a few friends, the cotton plug news caught fire. I now understand cinema houses are offering them for free if you need them. I for one won’t be tempted even if they offer tickets free.

This unplugging business has to gain a huge momentum if we are under compulsion to maintain social distancing. Nowadays my neighbour is complaining that even standing next to his soul mate, his pleas can’t seem to get a hearing and that this in direct violation of the principle of natural justice enshrined in the constitution.The reason is that she is absorbed in listening to music in her smart phone and her earphone is tightly plugged in. Parents have the same complaint about their kids. Whatever they say falls into plugged in ears.

Padmini says she suggested this topic.

My finding: Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Please do go over to see the respective blogs to see what my fellow bloggers write on this topic.







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The virtues and toxicities of popularity–I

By Prof N Natarajan

There are popular sayings too much of anything is harmful. Perhaps popularity falls under the category. Even nectar turns poisonous beyond a certain point.
 Our daily experience shows that this applies to most good things of life. When a child badly wants a toy, he is in ecstasy when he gets it. But after playing with it for a while very he loses interest in it and throws it away. A person with a sweet tooth relishes a delicacy only up to a certain point. I call it the Limit Theory (there is actually such a theory based on which Engineering Structures are designed), or in business parlance, what the traffic will bear. Of course, there are exceptions. My daughter never lost her interest in her family of dolls. She had a name for each of them and never discarded a single doll when a new one was bought. Now and then her dolls received some corporal punishment. Sometimes a limb or ear went missing, and occasionally it was beheaded, but the doll never left the family. At some point in time the missing part was restored and the torn dress was repaired or renewed.

Popularity is something we all seek secretly or publicly. It is not a dirty word. We all need a dose of it for motivation. It feels good. To that extent it is certainly a virtue. A good weapon in our armour. It can be acquired by working on it, bought or cultivated. Very rarely have I come across a person who does not love popularity. Many of us also mistake plain flattery for popularity. Some of us of course try to impress others by declaring that we don’t care for popularity. Some bosses specially do. It may not show on their faces but secretly they enjoy it. Junior colleagues compete to lay it thick on the face of the boss and have a good laugh when he leaves the scene. This behaviour is cultivated at school. In the continual rating system, a teacher has tremendous discretion. The students do not waste a moment in humouring him for a few extra marks. I had a Professor who was known for being soft and good-natured. He never chided us. We thought that he would be an easy prey to flattery. When we tried to try our skill on him, he simply removed his hearing aid to deliver us a lesson in good behaviour. We gave up.

Popularity should be the result of our genuine behaviour or action. To act for the sake of cheap popularity would be a mistake. That is a temptation one must avoid. We need to be bold enough to call a spade a shovel. Never mind if someone thinks you are not being polite. A foul language must be avoided, but there are ways of making your mind known in a subtle way.

Seeking popularity for its own sake ignoring the ground realities is a behaviour we exhibit now and then. I must confess that I have been occasionally guilty of such conduct. I simply get carried away, and make promises beyond my competence only to repent at leisure. I suppose it is just a heady behaviour in excitement on the spur of the moment blinded by an illusion of omnipotence. Very soon the monumental folly is exposed with loss of face and retraction. Why does this happen? It is toxicity. Such behaviour can be explained away when one has imbibed an overdose of the hard stuff. However, it is difficult to imagine that a tea-totaller like me can exhibit the same behaviour, unless toxicity of popularity has induced him to act in that manner.

Conclusion: Popularity is a virtue, but don’t go on an overdrive.


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