Sunday, 3 February 2008

Mousetrap - 135

Digital Alexandria
Universal Digital Library: Million Book Collection
This column may have pointed briefly to this project once before, but it bears a revisit. The goals of the project are noble: preserving human knowledge for the future. We had stories first, word of mouth. Then writing came in, and then books became the best way to pass information around, and down the years. But books can deteriorate. This project believes that ‘digital technology can make the works of man permanently accessible to the billions of people all over the world. .. A universal digital library, widely available through free access on the Internet, will improve the global society in ways beyond measurement. The Internet can house a Universal Library that is free to the people.’ Well, here you are. A million books to choose from. And more coming in as we read. There’s an India connection here, by the way. The project’s founder is of desi extraction, and a large chunk of the digitisation has been done in this country.

Speaking ill
Sick Words
Do you think you’re an animal? You zoanthrope, you. Are you perhaps displaying a regrettable tendency to swear at this column for it’s sheer silly waste of your time? Well, your alochezia is showing. Never mind our witzelsucht. You go look at this page full of terms that have something to do with illnesses of some that your average family doctor may not be able to cure. [Link via Amit Varma.]

The A-lists
The List Universe
Cool place for the trivia-obsessed, this. The name gives it away: this is a site devoted to lists. Its slant is fun, with a nice weirdness quotient and plenty of bias. Want to check out who the top ten alcoholic writers were? Or 7 ways to get the best of a zombie? Perhaps you’re more, um, normal, and you’d like to see the top ten unsolved murders? Or the most expensive foods? It’s all here, with regular updates, and neatly categorised. There’s even a forum, where you can go shmooze with other list addicts.

Party time
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
Once, there stood a statue here, in black stone, of a man on a horse. The statue has been dumped somewhere in the zoo, and no one remembers the name of the horseman (it was King Edward VIII, incidentally), but the area in Bombay continues to be referred to by the locals’ affectionate name for his horse, ‘kala ghoda.’ Since 1999, this heritage quarter has hosted an arts festival. And for nine days in February, the stone fronts of the elderly buildings are lit up with carnival lights and echo the happy sounds of Mumbaikars having a good time. There is a street festival, food stalls, music, films, theatre, installation art on the pavements, literary events, workshops, all for free. Go check out the schedule. Can’t be there? Never mind. Go visit the festival’s official blog, the Kala Ghoda Gazette, where a bunch of local bloggers are ready to bring you all the highlights. And there are some contests you can join in on wherever you are.
[Disclosure: Your columnist helped organise parts of the Festival, and is one of the editors of the Gazette.]

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 3rd February, 2008.

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