"Pillay's Perspective" began as a leader page column in theSaturdayPaper in Durban. The paper was then known as Natal on Saturday and editor George Parker offered me the spot in a moment of lunacy for which I am eternally indebted to him. George coined the name, "Pillay's Perspective". "Editor's prerogative," he said.

It appeared every week after July 15, 1995 through October 29, 1999 with two exceptions. (In December of 1995, George took early retirement to live on the beach and contemplate the nature of the universe and I gave up the slot for him to write a farewell piece. On October 22, 1999, I decided -- on deadline -- that the quality was not up to its usual chaotic standard.) From October of 1997, the column also began to appear in the Cape Times in Cape Town where I was Managing Editor for the following two years.

theSaturday Paper closed in April of 1998. For a several months after that, I published reprints of earlier columns that Cape Times readers had not seen, hence the gap in publication dates. (That in itself was an interesting exercise showing that some subjects, if appropriately written, never go stale.)

I'm at a loss to describe these pieces. They are a jigsaw puzzle of things that I find interesting (which is just about everything). The writing wanders between agony and ecstasy, between brilliance and idiocy, and is sometimes just plain tedious. I am almost never completely satisfied with the way they turn out. But they provide a diary of my life over that period -- stepping stones to thought processes over the past years.

Planning for the next generation of readers

23 September 1995

Plunging newspaper circulation figures are a warning of changes to come in our society...

THE SUNDAY TIMES fired the first shot two weeks ago with a headline "Citizen eclipses The Star". This prompted Gauteng Newspapers' MD Deon du Plessis to fire back that the Sunday Times had itself lost 115 000 readers while The Star continues to dominate the greater Johannesburg area market.

It's knowing what's inside that counts

30 September 1995

California's problems with OJ are nowhere near as bad as ours...

When I left Durban in 1986 nearly everyone sold these little or large plastic bottles of orange juice with an inoffensive seal stamped onto the bottletop or label: "Approved by the Citrus Exchange for purity".

I was fond of that seal. It was my anchor amid the dark and stormy waters of seedy corner cafes and drooling bartenders who might have otherwise sold me Kool-Aid with cyanide.

Too powerful an icon to be put behind bars

7 October 1995

For those who stand astonished at the OJ Simpson verdict, let's refresh our memories...

There was a time when giants were known to walk the earth. They went by such names as Zeus, Jupiter, Woden, King David, Lord Rama, and Lord Krishna. They personified power. They revelled in it. They dispensed justice, distributed largess, and smote mightily, left, right and centre.

These giants laid down rules by which lesser beings were expected to live. Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not cheat, thou shalt not covet thy

You need never bark at the moon alone

14 October 1995

Remembering that you are not the only lunatic in the world can really brighten your day...

My last job was as a research scientist at the Centre for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia, that Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean. I'm in Amsterdam right now, but since Europe is today smaller than Gauteng, I've arranged to meet a group of colleagues for a whistle-stop reunion.

Around the last time I saw them, we were awaiting the pasta course at the restaurant Piccolo Mondo Antico. But let me first introduce the others.