G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hesitant Fragile Grace of Two Girls Conversing with God: Louis Malle

Today November 23 2015 is 20th Death Anniversary of Louis Malle.

I have been taken in by the art of Mr. Malle only in recent times.  I have been fortunate to see his Elevator to the Gallows (1958), Atlantic City (1981) etc. but above all I have been charmed by his short documentary films on India: Phantom India (1969).

I have no words to describe his take on 'Kalakshetra'. Watch a part of the film featuring young Indira PP Bora (b 1943) and Jayashree Narayanan here

Listen to the French commentary that is subtitled in English:

"This is India: A worldview we don’t understand, a social heirarchy that puzzles us, an economic reality that shocks us but also the hesitant fragile grace of two girls conversing with God."

                                          Indira PP Bora  and Jayashree Narayanan, c 1968

Friday, November 20, 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today November 20 2015 is Transgender Day of Remembrance

BBC, November 7 2015: "The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is to hire the country's first transgender police officer after a court cleared hurdles that faced one applicant."

"K Prithika Yashini, who was born male but underwent gender reassignment surgery, applied to become a police sub-inspector in the southern state.
But the state police board did not recognise a third gender, leading her to pursue a legal case against it.
A court in Chennai (Madras) has now ruled in her favour..."

Artist: Joan Cornellà 

courtesy: Dangerous Minds

Friday, November 13, 2015

गोविंद बल्लाळ देवल G B Deval@160

Today November 13 2015 is 160th Birth Anniversary of  G B Deval (गोविंद बल्लाळ देवल), the author of 'Sangit Sharda' (संगीत शारदा), 1899.

"...श्रीमंत : तर मग माझं वय किती असावं बरं ?

शाम : श्रीमंतांचं वय जवळ जवळ तिशीच्या पुढें आणि बत्तिशीच्या आंत; फारच झालं तर बत्तिशी पार पडली असेल !

श्रीमंत : इतकंच, इतकंच, बरं जा, जोडी आणि पाक आणून दे. ( शाम जातो. ) हा म्हणतो बत्तीस, मी म्हणतों चाळीस ! तरी कांहीं म्हातारा नव्हे, बत्तिशी पडली असं ऐकून आलं, तेव्हां म्हटलं या शाम्याला आमचं वर्म कळलं ! पण नाही, चला आतां थोडा व्यायाम करूं. ( उठूं लागतो ) ओय ! ओय ! ओय ! पण ही कमरेची वळ कधीं राहणार ? चोरून शेकतों, तेल चोळतों, तरी कमी होत नाहीं..."

“Darling, what—kachoo—difference does age—kachoo—make anyway?”

Artist: George Petty, Esquire, 1933

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

पंडितराव खाडीलकर...My Toy Soldier Day is Today...Diwali

Diwali is my Toy Soldier day.

Panditrao Khadilkar (पंडितराव खाडीलकर), a lifelong bachelor, was our family friend at Miraj (मिरज). He used to stay in a single room in my friend's wada (वाडा) about a hundred meter from our house.

He had free access to any part of our small house and even when father wasn't around he used to joke and chat with our mother as she worked in the kitchen. She and we kids always used to pull his legs but he took it gamely or so we always thought.

Panditrao, that's what we all called him,  worked at chemistry lab of Willingdon College, Sangli. I could read lots of Marathi books because of him as he borrowed them from the college library.

He used to visit his brothers in Mumbai and Pune for Diwali. In 1980 (I think), he was traveling to Mumbai by train to be with his brother for Diwali. As the train stopped after Thane for some reason, he got down from it and started walking towards Mulund. We heard the same train knocked him to death as he was crossing the rail tracks. He was apparently carrying ghee from Miraj which was famous for all its milk products. They said the same ghee was poured on his funeral pyre.

For many years, Panditrao used to give us kids small gifts. One such gift was a toy soldier of clay. I don't remember the year but he bought it during urus of Samsuddin Mira Saheb. That toy soldier, 'huge' in stature, was my prized possession for many years. I still remember his face, his built, his weapon, his green fatigues. Every year I used to mount him on Diwali fort we used to build at home. He was a complete misfit standing next to Shivaji-maharaj (शिवाजी महाराज) and his saber/spear holding lieutenants.

  courtesy: Toy Story page on Facebook

Sunday, November 08, 2015

आमचे डुमडुमातून पलायन...Was It Fear or Relief 25 Years Ago in Assam?

Ignoring the wisdom of the crowd, I went to Assam to work for a transnational FMCG giant in July 1989. I have referred to my stay in the east from time to time on this blog.

Today November 8 2015 is 25th anniversary of the event that shook middle class foundations of our lives.

Apparently under the death threat  by The United Liberation Front of Assam, we were evacuated from Upper Assam, with the help of India's defense forces, on the morning of November 8 1990

My wife who was not keeping well and I remember almost every minute of that day.  

The Indian Airlines flight that was supposed to take us from Sookerating airport to Kolkata developed a snag. A spare part for it was carried by another commercial plane and by the time we reached Kolkata, it was dark.

Media had gathered outside the airport. We were told not to open our mouths. We were whisked away to a city five star hotel.  Then there was a rumor that the ULFA gunman had reached the hotel and so were taken to the company guest house not too far from the hotel. 

If the electronic media then were to be anything like today's, I would be famous for more than 15 minutes.


 courtesy: Frontline, December 8-21 1990

p.s. Despite so much of turmoil in Assam and our lives, the cover of the Frontline has heart-rending images of Punjab and there is no mention of Assam!

There is a message in it: It's perspective and proportion, stupid!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Shit Happens: History, Science, Mythology...

Mr. Chtan Bhagat tweeted on October 30 2015:

"What do historians do? I am genuinely curious. This happened. Then this happened. Then this. Ok work done for the day."

This made a lot of people angry.

If you too have a view on the above, you may find following interesting.

John Horgan is writing about the late Stephen Jay Gould, November 2 2015:

"....Gould noted during our interview that many scientists do not consider history—which resists reduction to general principles, such as evolution by natural selection--to be a science. "I think that's a false taxonomy. History is a different type of science." Gould found the fuzziness and contingency of history exhilarating. "I love it! That's because I'm an historian at heart."
By transforming evolutionary biology into history--an intrinsically subjective, interpretive discipline, like literary criticism--Gould makes it uniquely suited for someone with his vast rhetorical skills. If the history of life is a bottomless quarry of largely random events, he can keep mining it, verbally cherishing one odd fact after another, without ever fearing that his efforts have become trivial or redundant.
Whereas most scientists seek to discern the signal underlying nature, Gould keeps drawing attention to the noise. After all, punctuated equilibrium is not really a theory; it is a description of noise. Gould’s view of life can be summed up by the old bumper-sticker slogan: Shit happens."

Mr. Horgan calls history  "an intrinsically subjective, interpretive discipline, like literary criticism".

And what about science?

Freud to Einstein: “...Does not every natural science lead ultimately to this—a sort of mythology? Is it otherwise today with your physical sciences?...”

Artist: Warren Miller,  The New Yorker, March 9 1963

Sunday, November 01, 2015

काय डेंजर वारा सुटलाय...Not For Mount Fuji ...Arun Kolatkar @ 83, Katsushika Hokusai @255

Today November 1 2015 is 83rd Birth Anniversary of Arun Kolatkar (अरुण कोलटकर)...and
Katsushika Hokusai's 255th Birth Anniversary was yesterday!

When I saw Katsushika Hokusai's (c October 31 1760- May 10 1849) following picture and Jonathan Jones' commentary as part of 'Art Weekly' of The Guardian, I remembered Kolatkar's:

"अरे तुझी टोपी
तुझी टोपी गेली खड्ड्यात
कपाळ पहिलं सांभाळ
काय डेंजर वारा सुटलाय

डोसक्यात कचरा
धूळ धूळ डोक्यात

साहेबाची खिडकी फुटली
गादीवर काचा काचा
आपोआप गुंडाळतोय
पंजाब्याचा गालिचा
पार्शिणीचा फ्लावरपाट
गडाबडा लोळतोय

सिंधीणीच्या दांडीवरली
म्हागडी नायलॉन साडी
चालली वार्‍यावर हवाई झाज
नवव्या मजल्यावरल्या
बंगाल्याचा लेंगा लगेच
लागला तिच्या पाठी

"Katsushika Hokusai: Ejiri in Suruga Province. Colour woodblock, 1830-33. Photograph: British Museum
Hokusai – Ejiri in Suruga Province (1830-33), from the series 36 Views of Mount Fuji
People are caught in a gust of wind on the open road, holding on to their hats, bending into the gale as sheets of paper fly up in the air. Mount Fuji sits motionless behind them, untroubled by anything so small as a breath of wind. Hokusai contrasts its permanence with the flux and comedy of our lives, blown this way and that."

p.s. I realized that there is no equivalent of Mount Fuji in Kolatkar's poem....Kolatkar  just shows
the flux and comedy of our lives, blown this way and that.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

तो सूर्य पाहिलेला माणूस नव्हताच!.....Was he Socrates at all?

On this blog, I have let known my great displeasure about overrated Marathi play: "सूर्य पाहिलेला माणूस" here and here.

The Death of Socrates (French: La Mort de Socrate) , 1787

 Artist: Jacques-Louis David, 1748-1825

Artist: Paul Noth, The New Yorker, June 2015

Saturday, October 24, 2015

81 Years Aaprt, Solutions for the Parking Problem: R K Laxman, Alfred Fruch

Today October 24 2015 is 94th Birth Anniversary of R K Laxman. His first since his death in January 2015.

लोकसत्ता, ऑक्टोबर 23, 2015: "दसऱ्याच्या मुहूर्तावर अडीच हजार दुचाकी, अकराशे नव्या मोटारी शहराच्या रस्त्यावर...दसऱ्याच्या मुहूर्तावर यंदा शहरात वैयक्तिक वापराच्या वाहनांच्या खरेदीत लक्षणीय वाढ झाली आहे."

As has been pointed out earlier, apart from making them laugh, cartoonists often generate innovative ideas that might be useful to mankind.

Here is an example.

Artist: R K Laxman, The Times of India, 1 September 2007

And here is another.

Artist: Alfred Fruch, The New Yorker, 8 May 1926

Mr. Fruch and Mr. Laxman are so close to the 'aching nerve' and to each other.