A stunningly original (re)interpretation of Kharaharapriya:
A stunningly original (re)interpretation of Kharaharapriya:
One of the most beautiful, poignant and haunting short stories that one can find, so moving, so tender. Tagore packs so much into this short story than people would in bulky, obtuse novels. The spareness is so Zen like.
At times he tried his hand at writing a verse or two. That the movement of the leaves and the clouds of the sky were enough to fill life with joy—such were the sentiments to which he sought to give expression. But God knows that the poor fellow would have felt it as the gift of a new life, if some genie of the Arabian Nights had in one night swept away the trees, leaves and all, and replaced them with a macadamised road, hiding the clouds from view with rows of tall houses.
In the loneliness of his exile, and in the gloom of the rains, his ailing body needed a little tender nursing. He longed to remember the touch on the forehead of soft hands with tinkling bracelets, to imagine the presence of loving womanhood, the nearness of mother and sister.
So the traveller, borne on the breast of the swift-flowing river, consoled himself with philosophical reflections on the numberless meetings and partings going on in the world—on death, the great parting, from which none returns.
But Ratan had no philosophy. She was wandering about the post office in a flood of tears. It may be that she had still a lurking hope in some corner of her heart that her Dada would return, and that is why she could not tear herself away. Alas for our foolish human nature! Its fond mistakes are persistent. The dictates of reason take a long time to assert their own sway. The surest proofs meanwhile are disbelieved. False hope is clung to with all one’s might and main, till a day comes when it has sucked the heart dry and it forcibly breaks through its bonds and departs. After that comes the misery of awakening, and then once again the longing to get back into the maze of the same mistakes.
One of the best descriptions of India by Matthew Belmonte.
I’ve lived in England, the United States, and India. Of all these countries India has been the best, and I would very much like to go back. People ask me why, and I tell them the many reasons to love India — its wealth of peoples, languages and cultures, the sincerity of its many devotees of many faiths, the omnipresence of its mythic narratives and their instantiations in daily life, its ethos of kindness to visitors, the industry of its small businesspeople, the freedom (in some contexts) to bend rules as one bends metal, the jugaad of all the jagged pieces and the all the jagged people into a thing that works. There are the dances, the songs, the colours, the clothes. There are the kebabs and curries and daal and sobji and ilish and misti doi and rasgulla. There are the biryanis and the dosas and the sambar and the fish fry. And there is the land itself: the fog-draped ghostliness of the North on a winter morning, the musty scent of damp leaves and rustling ferns in the cool air of Uttarakhand, the icy warmth of the still-faced Ganga at dawn, the black walls of cloud and the drenching massage of Kolkata’s kalboishakhi rains, the forests, the pebbly streambeds and the crystal-clear glacier melt of North Bengal, the waterfalls of the Western Ghats, the rocky moonscape of the Deccan plateau, the dusty red sunrises and sunsets, the long, sandy beaches of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
And of course there are the frustrations: the on-again off-again electricity, the missed water deliveries, the monsoon waterlogging laced with sewage and typhoid, the corrupt officials, the diffusion of responsibility, the intransigent bureaucrats, the inflexible peons, the confusion of equanimity with inaction, the confusion of story with fact, the lack of environmental awareness, the judicial paralyses, the parliamentary paralyses, the traffic paralyses, the hastily announced bandhs, the demagogic politics and politicians, the sexism, the racism, the compulsion to place one’s wealth on display, the practised lack of compassion for those outside one’s own community.
I know about all of that. And you know what? On balance — on balance, mind you — I love it.
Call me whatever you will, I don’t really like the IPL. I prefer watching Ranji, Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophies ( India’s regional first class, 50 overs and T20 competitions). Arundhati Sridhar travels around the country watching the IPL and blogs about it. She does write very beautifully.
On eating Telugu food at a restaurant in Hyderabad:
As I dug into the pulusu (the Telugu version of sambhar) in the thali, its bold coconut flavour painted a hundred memories of afternoons at my grandmother’s house, her wrinkled eyes watching as I took one helping after another with the deep steel ladle. The tamarind danced about my palette, instantly bringing back the low dining table that sprawled across into our drawing room, the prickliness of its jute-woven chairs. The Indian Railways may be all manners of wonderful, but they couldn’t have competed with the speed of a single morsel of anything on that plate in taking me home.
On travelling sleeper class to Uttar Pradesh:
As the train rolled through the simmering UP summer the next afternoon, gusts of suffocating loo filled the compartment, stifling every attempt at life and movement. As the afternoon got more pronounced, the heat seemed to come in uniform swathes, slowly mummifying every single person into the posture they held, lending the whole compartment an air of eeriness, as if it was occupied by the living dead. I too sat rooted to my berth, too afraid to move on what had become the equivalent of a hot tin roof, too afraid that any movement would unlock some new part of the surface that had not been made bearable by my body temperature working to tame it. Every few seconds I would feel a new droplet of sweat forming in a region I wasn’t even aware was capable of producing sweat. The question had, very conclusively, turned on its head : why would I ever consider a non-a/c sleeper in the middle of the Indian summer?
V Ramnarayan writes this beautiful essay on the tragic death of Ranjani Hebbar at age 31, who passed away just as she was ripening into a mature Carnatic musician.
Her lovely voice, her nuanced rendering of a complex art through uncluttered expression, her firm views on tradition and creativity which she found no need to publicly articulate — all these qualities made Ranjani Hebbar a very special musician, a very special person. Rarely has Carnatic music lost such a brilliant talent so young.
Mike Marqusee has a brilliant blog here.
The latest post on it is a review of Dave Zirin’s book: Brazil’s Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy.
Zirin identifies a clear pattern in World Cups and Olympic games of recent years. Again and again, these events witness mass evictions, social cleansing (in which the poor, the homeless, drug addicts, and others are removed from sight), gentrification, the corporatization of public space, the erosion of civil liberties, and a massive increase in surveillance and “security.” Vast public subsidies pour into private hands as host cities are reshaped to the advantage of the rich. It’s always a boon for construction, real estate, security, and media interests, but often a tragedy for the communities left behind. As Zirin observes, these mega-events provide elites with “something that couldn’t be found at the end of a military-grade truncheon: the consent of the masses to neoliberal policy goals.”
A classic from the 2010 World cup:
They also serve who only stand and wait. –John Milton
Amol Muzumdar, was one of the finest Ranji batsmen for Mumbai with the singular misfortune of his cricket career coinciding with SR Tendulkar and VG Kambli. He spent an entire cricketing career “waiting”.
He had been at Shardashram Vidyamandir School in Dadar with the two and was the batsman waiting to come in when the pair amassed a record stand of 664 in a Harris Shield game in 1988, and it wouldn’t be too long before he made his name for Bombay by scoring 260 on debut in 1993-94, against the side he had seen beat his own in that final three years earlier.
Once again, in the epic Ranji finals of 1992, he was a ball boy, patiently waiting for his turn. It would turn out that he would never play test cricket for India. In a different era, he might have walked into the Indian team. And so it goes.
A humorous aside to this word is this: Street cricketers in Chennai grow up following and imitating Australian and other Western cricketers who usually use the word, “Wait in” as a communication during running between the wickets. This gets beautifully morphed, in the streets and gullies of Chennai to “Waiting, Waiting”.