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."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What is in the address?...A lot

Pune and a few other parts of Maharashtra, where Marathi is still spoken to conduct daily business, have some weird practices. One of them is address a person you are speaking to as a relation who would normally be very senior to you in age.

For example, a woman younger than me by say five years would address me as “Kaka” (father’s brother/male cousin) or worse “Ajoba” (grand-father)! My current neighbour- who is almost my father’s age- calls me “Kaka”! At Nashik, where my mother moved to in late 1980’s, a vegetable vendor (of age 30-35) would routinely address her as “Aajji” (grand mother) when she was only 50 years old and none of her children was even married! My wife gets very irritated when a woman not much younger calls her “Kaku” (wife of Kaka). It is not just because of implied age difference but also because “Kakubai” in Marathi means slovenly woman.

I think this practice is typical Puneite’s way of snubbing people or just a sloppy habit that needs correction. If indeed you want to make the other person happy, which is likely the case in services dominated world, you should address her such that she feels younger and not older!

In South India (Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh) this is not so. At most places, they address you as “Sir” or “Madam” (or Uncle/Aunty). That causes no irritation and all parties involved can concentrate on business on hand.


The Artist: Peter Arno The New Yorker Jan 30 1960

How to solve any problem…American way?

Elite (or is it just nouveau rich?) Indians looked towards UK for approval until about 1970’s and since then US has replaced UK.

Many (if not most) children of our top civil servants, judges, industry captains, media moguls, established artists, military top brass, doctors, lawyers, thought-leaders and builders are now settled in US or plan to do so.

No wonder US rules over minds of India’s effective policy makers or indirect rulers.

Indian society’s acceptance of personal wealth as the only criterion of success is a further proof of how American way has prevailed.

And what else is the American way?

While I was working at a major IT transnational company, on seeing a presentation foil titled “Operating System Wars”, my South Korean colleague exclaimed that war was the only way Americans knew how to conceptualise or solve a problem!

No surprises therefore to read a survey in Newsweek June 4, 2007 that says world trusts China (46%) to act more responsibly than US (43%).

Global warming? Bomb the damn thing with water! (Haven't seen funnier and sadder picture than this for a long time)

Artist: R K Laxman Times of India June 8 2007