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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Grandma Stories Will Always Go Strong

Business Line reports on September 24, 2007: Grandma stories still going strong:

“In the age of hi-tech movies with brilliant sound effects, constant television, multimedia games and blockbuster book series of the likes of Harry Potter, the 'Ek tha raja, ek thi rani' type of stories of the yore narrated by grandmothers still remain uniformly popular among children across the world.
Fairytales, and tales of adventure of swashbuckling pirates and sailors, legends, myths and folklores predominantly form the substance of tales traditionally used to regale children over centuries remain an eternal favourite among children according to a large number of bards and authors who had gathered in the capital recently.

Hailing from across 18 countries they had come to participate in a storytelling conference organised by the Indian chapter of the International Board of Books for Young People, the Association of Writers and Illustrators for children.”

My son had a rare distinction. Until my mother passed away, he was one of the few in his class whose all four grand parents were alive! Since we stay very close to where my in-laws live, my son gets to spend lots of quality time with his maternal grandparents. How lucky!

We weren’t that lucky. We were estranged from my father’s family until I was 26. I never met my father’s mother, met very briefly my father’s father. My mother’s father passed away when I was only 5. I spent some quality time with my mother’s mother though.

I don’t think I heard too many stories from my grandparents. However, my mother filled the role of all our grandparents when it came to stories. Each dinnertime, for number of years, was a storytime. Panchtantra, Ramayan, Mahabharat, Shivaji (Hirkani was a favourite) dominated prime time.

Her father, for whom fact and fiction were often interchangeable, was a great raconteur! So too was my mother’s elder sister. Listening to Tai-mavashi’s narration of stories of Hindi films like Mehmood’s Sadhu Aur Shaitan (1968) and Bombay to Goa (1972) was a funnier experience than watching those films on big screen.

Listening to mother’s stories was like returning to her womb and falling asleep there.

The experience has been summed up very well by author Shrinivas Vinayak Kulkarni in his story: आम्ही वानरांच्या फौजा (We Monkey Armies, डोह,Mauj Prakashan, 1965).

Author’s grandma is telling him a story as he falls asleep:

तुम्ही अवतरले गोकुळी आम्ही गोपाळांच्या मेळी
तुम्ही होते रामराजा आम्ही वानरांच्या फौजा...

(You incarnated at Gokul, we in cowherd gathering
You were King Ram, we monkey armies)

Not everyone is of course impressed with being a grandma!


Artist: Peter Arno The New Yorker January 30 1960