One hand clapping

We return, briefly, to my favorite person, Rajan Zed — who seems afflicted these days by a combination of verbal diarrhea and chronic insomnia, judging by the velocity of his press statements. This morning, I got:

Hindu and Jewish leaders have urged Oscar winner Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman) and makers of movie “Eat, Pray, Love” to immediately provide unconditional access to area devotees to the Hindu temple in Pataudi (India), which had been reportedly closed for shooting.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a joint statement in Nevada today, said that it was very insensitive to keep the devotees away from their deities and worship place, which they had been reportedly visiting since 1948.

Moreover, due to Navaratri, a major ten-day Hindu holy festival connected with the autumnal equinox, which was currently underway, it was cruel to keep the worshippers away from their sacred temple. Various celebrations, like Durga-puja, Sri-panchami (Saraswati-puja), Lalita-panchami, Maha-navami, Amba-puja, Dussehra, formed part of this, during which Goddess Durga restored dharma (righteousness), and included mantra chanting and various other rituals, Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed.

According to reports, access to Hindu temple inside the Ashram Harimandir hermitage, about 60 kilometers from India’s capital Delhi, was reportedly denied and then conditions were put for area villagers who regularly came there to pray to give way to movie shooting of Roberts and others, thus upsetting the devotees. Women of the village, when they went to the usual darshan (view) of their deities and offer prayers on Sunday morning, were refused entry. The shooting, which began Sunday, is expected to last about 2-3 weeks. This hermitage has its own consecrated temple and gaushala (cowshed) and offers “spiritual development” and runs a Sanskrit learning center.

Roberts started shooting at this Ashram on Sunday along with Richard Jenkins (The Visitor). Directed by Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) and aimed at a release in 2011, “Eat, Pray, Love” also stars Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Viola Davis (Doubt), Billy Crudup (Almost Famous), James Franco (Pineapple Express), Luca Argentero (Lezioni di cioccolato).

A day earlier, the acclaimed statesman had for the nth time welcomed Roberts to India, from his base in Arizona. And now, some ten hours later, this:

Julia Roberts is “sadhavi” now and her children Mahalaxmi, Ganesh, & Krishna

Names of Oscar winner Julia Roberts’ (Pretty Woman) three children are Mahalaxmi, Ganesh, and Krishna Balram now, according to reports.

Before she landed in India on September 17, their names were reportedly Hazel Patricia (4.5 years), Phinnaeus Walter (4.5 years), and Henry Daniel Moder (two years) respectively.

Roberts is currently shooting at Ashram Harimandir hermitage, spread over 28 acres in Pataudi,  about 60 kilometers from India’s capital Delhi, for “Eat, Pray, Love” based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s spirituality/travel memoir of the same name. Founded by ascetic Swami Amardev in 1920, this Ashram is currently headed by Swami Dharam Dev, and it has its own consecrated temple and gaushala (cowshed) and offers “spiritual development” and runs a Sanskrit learning center. Gilbert reportedly spent four months in an India ashram few years back, trying to find her spirituality.

Welcoming Roberts to India, acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed urged her to explore Hinduism further. Deeper study of Hinduism would complement her interest in yoga and other things Indian, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, added. In January last, Roberts sported a “bindi” (vermillion mark on forehead) during her trip to India. She has a production company called “Red Om Films”, and “Om” in Hinduism is the mystical syllable containing the universe.

In published pictures, Roberts is seen sitting at Swami Dharam Dev’s feet looking like a “sadhavi” (virtuous woman).  When she reportedly went to seek his blessings, Swami was quoted as telling her to step into sadhvi’s role in her real life whenever she was in self doubt. Swami also reportedly suggested her to adopt prayers, meditation, sadhana (spiritual endeavor), and yoga in her real life and take all good things she learnt at Ashram back to USA. She reportedly introduced her children to Swami with the names of Mahalaxmi, Ganesh, and Krishna Balram, who said that Roberts was very impressed with Indian culture. Swami reportedly tied raksha-sutra (sacred protective thread) on their wrists.

For the success of the shooting and the film, Roberts reportedly launched the India leg of the shooting with a hawan (a fire sacrifice), which Rajan Zed says is central to Hinduism. She reportedly did puja (worship), cooked dal-roti (pulse-Indian thin bread) at langar (community lunch), performed kirtan (religious chanting), visited Hindu temple, offered prayers along with her children, learnt to say “namaskar” and “Hari-Om”,  was seen wearing ruddraksh (seeds of the tree Eleocarpus ganitrus) mala (rosary), ate with her bare hands, found Gulab-Jamun (an Indian sweetmeat) to be her favorite. She is said to have transliterated the 182-verse Sanskrit chant in English, which she has to recite as part of the script, and is said to be rehearsing it. Her living area in the nearby hotel has reportedly been furnished with a unique yoga center per her wishes. Roberts reportedly commented: “India is really amazing.”

Rajan Zed has applauded Roberts for launching the shooting with a hawan and actively participating in it with her three children, and showing keen interest in Hinduism.

People of India will be anxious to see how perfectly Roberts does her job of cleaning ashram (hermitage) floors as a part of her devotional duty, trying to recite 182-verse Sanskrit chant, and going through grueling hours of meditation while being feasted on by mosquitoes as mentioned in Gilbert’s memoir. Although Gilbert did not disclose the name of the ashram where she stayed in her book, but it is widely guessed that she stayed at Gurudev Siddha Peeth at Ganeshpuri (Thane district) in Maharashtra (India).

Directed by Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck), “Eat, Pray, Love”, aimed at a release in 2011, also stars Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Viola Davis (Doubt), Billy Crudup (Almost Famous), James Franco (Pineapple Express), Luca Argentero (Lezioni di cioccolato), etc.

Just saying.


Eyes Left!

Eyes Left!

Diana was popular with older men. When she came through New York in the mid-1990s she was placed next to Henry Kissinger at a dinner and a photographer caught a wonderful moment when Dr. K gazed down the cavern of her bosom, like a golfer looking for a lost ball.

From a Forbes piece on Giscard d’Estaing’s supposed roman à clef on the love affair between a princess and a president titled, with rare brilliance, Liberte, Egalite, Carnalite.

The Daily Beast has more.

Weapons of mass distraction

Build a claymore mine. Office life will never be the same again. Courtesy Wired.

The seven deadly sins

Normal girls – more interested in abs than in labs, more interested in pecs than specs, more interested in triceps than tripos – will abjure their lecturers for the company of their peers, but nonetheless, most male lecturers know that, most years, there will be a girl in class who flashes her admiration and who asks for advice on her essays. What to do?

Enjoy her! She’s a perk. She doesn’t yet know that you are only Casaubon to her Dorothea, Howard Kirk to her Felicity Phee, and she will flaunt you her curves. Which you should admire daily to spice up your sex, nightly, with the wife.

Yup, I’m afraid so. As in Stringfellows, you should look but not touch. Be warned by the fates of too many of the protagonists in Middlemarch, The History Man and I Am Charlotte Simmons. And in any case, you should have learnt by now that all cats are grey in the dark.

So, sow your oats while you are young but enjoy the views – and only the views – when you are older.

Well meaning advice in a Times Higher Education Magazine [Not, as the BBC says, Times Education Higher Magazine] article on the seven deadly sins of academia, from vice chancellor of the University of Buckingham Terence Kealey.

Now some well-meaning advice for Kealey: you can think, but you cannot articulate — or much outrage will ensue.

Practice makes perfectly unfit?

Okay, so here’s the latest from the sick bay that is the Indian cricket team: Yuvraj Singh and his injured finger. Just curious: who was the last Indian player injured during match play?

The president and the speechwriter

“Over the past half-century, we’ve split the atom, we’ve spliced the gene, and we’ve roamed Tranquility Base. We’ve reached for the stars, and never have we been closer to having them in our grasp. New science, new technology is making the difference between life and death, and so we need a national commitment equal to this unparalleled moment of possibility. And so, I announce to you tonight, that I will bring the full resources of the federal government and the full reach of my office to this fundamental goal: we will cure cancer by the end of this decade.”

Mention Presidents and speechwriters, and that bit from the 100,000 Airplanes episode of The West Wing comes to mind. Digression: my favorite WW quote involving the character of presidential speechwriter Sam Seaborn is this exchange:

Sam Seaborn: About a week ago I accidentally slept with a prostitute.
Toby Ziegler: [pause] Really?
Sam Seaborn: Yes.
Toby Ziegler: You accidentally slept with a prostitute?
Sam Seaborn: A call girl.
Toby Ziegler: Accidentally?
Sam Seaborn: Yes.
Toby Ziegler: I don’t understand. Did you trip over something?

But such fun, games and occasional soaring flights of oratory are for the Aaron Sorkin-helmed world of fiction. Matt Latimer, a White House speechwriter during the last two years of George Bush’s presidency, introduces us to a whole other, and wholly surreal, world in Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor, the latest tell-all book to emerge from the weird and wonderful world of Dubya [while on which, writing tell-all books on the Bush administration is becoming a cottage industry of sorts; the granddaddy of them all, bearing the Dick Cheney byline, looms out there on the horizon].

Courtesy GQ, here’s an extended extract. And in the Wall Street Journal, the man who hired Latimer for the White House now rubbishes him.

From kiss and tell to throw and tell: Muntazer-al-Zaidi on why he threw his shoe at Bush.

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.