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Desi Satire

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August 2007
Desi Satire

ASPIRING SCREENWRITERS ATTEND INSPIRATON CONFERENCE

Hundreds of aspiring Bollywood screenwriters recently attended the 17th annual Screenwriters Inspiration Conference in Mumbai, where they learned that genius is "1% perspiration, 99% inspiration."

"You cannot avoid perspiration completely," said keynote speaker Siddharth Anand. "After all, we live in a hot country. You must perspire a little, but everything else is inspiration."

Anand, who co-wrote the screenplay for Hum Tum after being inspired by When Harry Met Sally, urged the writers not to waste time being original. "Originality is overrated," he said. "Everything has been done before. But the important thing is, if you are going to be inspired by another movie, pick a good one. Don't pick a movie with Nicolas Cage in it."

He urged them not to get discouraged if inspiration doesn't come to them right away. "As you develop as a screenwriter, you will find yourself being inspired all the time," he said. "You will be inspired by several movies, which is good because the critics will have trouble identifying the exact source of your inspiration."

After listening to the keynote speaker, conference attendees were offered a choice of several classes, including "Introduction to Inspiration," "Intermediate Inspiration," and "Advanced Inspiration."

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director of the blockbuster Munnabhai movies, taught the introductory class and explained the difference between inspiration and plagiarism. "Plagiarism is what you do when you're a student," he said. "Inspiration is what you do when you're a professional."

He noted that while Munnabhai M.B.B.S. was inspired by Patch Adams, he made enough changes that Hollywood thought it was original and bought the rights to it. Mira Nair is producing the Hollywood version, Gangsta M.D., to be released in 2008. Munnabhai has also been produced in regional languages, such as Tamil and Telugu. "The more you're inspired," Chopra said, "the more you inspire."

LYING BABIES

Babies may look innocent, but British psychologist Dr. Vasudevi Reddy has found that they begin to deceive their parents from as young as six months. Reddy's research, involving 50 children aged six months to three years, allowed her to identify seven categories of deception.

"Fake crying is one of the earliest forms of deception to emerge, and infants use it to get attention even though nothing is wrong," Dr. Reddy told The Daily Telegraph. "You can tell, as they will then pause while they wait to hear if their mother is responding, before crying again. It demonstrates they're clearly able to distinguish that what they are doing will have an effect. This is essentially all adults do when they tell lies, except in adults it becomes more morally loaded."

Expectant parents may soon feel compelled to buy not just cribs, strollers and changing tables, but also lie detectors.

ONLY IN INDIA

A doctor in Tamil Nadu allowed his 15-year-old son to perform a caesarean section in an apparent attempt to get into the Guinness World Records. Dr. K. Murugesan showed a video of his son's achievement to the Tamil Nadu chapter of the Indian Medical Association. (AP)

A battery-powered vibrating condom has caused a stir in India, where sex toys are banned. The outcry is especially strong in Madhya Pradesh, because a government-owned company is involved in marketing it. (BBC News)

A woman in Rajkot, Gujarat, paraded in public in her underwear in an effort to embarrass her husband and in-laws, who had allegedly been abusing her for not paying enough dowry. (BBC News)

The Tamil Nadu government has announced a pension scheme for retired police dogs, allowing them to continue receiving food and care. Old dogs had previously been auctioned off to pet lovers or farmers, but the government had received petitions against this practice. (CNN-IBN)

LEARN A NEW WORD IN A FEMTOSECOND

Every now and then, I come across a word I wish I had

learned in college, because I would have used it many times.

"Callipygian" is one such word. It means "having shapely

buttocks" and if you've never been called "callipygian,"

trust me, it's only because you refused to go on that date

with the former Spelling Bee champion. You missed out on a

chance to receive the compliment of your life. It's

something you'd want to put on your tombstone. "Here lies

Fatima Khan: She was as callipygian as J. Lo and Beyonc�."

"Callipygian" is one of many great words in the dictionary

that only a few people use. Such words are doomed to

obscurity and perhaps extinction, partly because the younger

generation, communicating through email and text messaging,

tend to prefer short words like "u" and "r." Those may not

seem like real words to you and I, but that's probably

because, well, "u n I r old."

That's why I had mixed feelings when a reader named Robert

J. Baumann of New York City introduced me to an important

word. Robert and I, incidentally, have something in common.

On his website, he lists his favorite vacation as "anywhere

my wife is." That's my favorite vacation too -- anywhere his

wife is.

I just got into trouble with both Robert and my wife and it

happened in a femtosecond. "Femtosecond" is the word Robert

wrote to me about, hoping I would expose it to my readers,

so they can start using it in their daily conversations,

perhaps as often as they use other F-words.

A femtosecond is one billionth of one millionth of a second.

Ahmed Hassan Zewail, the Egyptian American chemist, used

femtoseconds to measure certain chemical reactions. For his

great pioneering work, Zewail won the Nobel Prize in

Chemistry in 1999, as well as the right to go through

airport security one femtosecond faster than other people

named Ahmed.

A femtosecond may seem like an inconceivably short time, but

it does have applications outside science. If you're a

married man, you know all about femtoseconds. You experience

them every day. A femtosecond is the amount of time it takes

your wife to:

---glare at you when you look at another woman at the beach.

---start giving you a lecture when you make a wrong turn.

---switch channels after accidentally landing on ESPN.

---figure out if anyone at a party is wearing the same

dress.

---decide what to buy when she receives a new credit card.

If you're a married woman, you don't need Dr. Zewail to

explain femtoseconds to you. You've already got them down

pat. A femtosecond is the amount of time it takes your

husband to:

---glance at the instructions that came with the furniture

assembly kit.

---figure out where the beer is kept at a party.

---switch channels after accidentally landing on Oprah.

---jump off the couch when you say, "I'm in the mood

tonight ..."

---groan when you add, "... for chocolate ice cream."

Femtoseconds are not just for married people, of course.

Almost everyone encounters them now and then. It takes only

a femtosecond for:

---The short line at the post office to turn into a long

line.

---Bill Gates to make a buck.

---George Foreman to eat a pizza.

---The New York cabdriver to honk when the light turns

green.

---The drunk at the bar to notice that you're definitely,

most certainly, callipygian.


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