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."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Opium Dens of Delhi, Aundh, New York and Vietnam

Times of India on November 3, 2007 reported: “Jaswant in opium controversy”
“A brew served by BJP leader Jaswant Singh to welcome Rajasthan party dissident leaders at a much publicised at-home at his native village of Jasol in Barmer district is threatening to leave the host with a nasty after-taste.

A Jodhpur special court dealing with drug-related offences has agreed to hear a petition against Singh on Saturday which wants directions to be issued to the police under the harsh Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act — better known as NDPS Act — which prescribes a minimum 10-year jail term for offenders…”

The paper had reported in 2006: “Indians among highest opium users…According to the report, India has 25 million drug users, which makes the country account for 1/10th

A great leveller opium,like alcohol and tobacco, has always been with us.

I am told opium is eaten, drunk and smoked.

My father’s father- D G Kulkarni- was a political secretary to the ruler of princely state of Aundh- BHAVAN RAO SHRINIVAS, Pant Pratinidhi - until its accession to Indian union in 1948.

My grandpa's family hailed from Atpadi. His younger brother once came from Atpadi to visit him at Aundh and asked for something. Brothers had an argument. Younger brother wasn’t happy with the outcome. He felt so depressed that he bought opium from multiple vendors at Aundh-one could buy only a limited quantity from a vendor- and walked all the way from Aundh to Atpadi consuming opium all along. He died at the end of the journey.
(I have never known if my grandfather felt any guilt for this involuntary manslaughter and if he did, how he dealt with it.)

No artist has described as well as Graham Greene what it must feel while smoking opium pipes in the company of a Vietnamese girl. Read his “The Quiet American”. It’s very tempting!

William Dalrymple says in “The Last Mughal”:

“In northern India opium was drunk rather than smoked, and judging by the frequency with which opium shops appear in miniatures of the period, opium addiction seems to have been a major problem. Since the Company had the monopoly on the growing and trade in the substance, which by the 1890s provided an astonishing 40 percent of their exports from India, it of course made no attempt to control the problem.”


Artist: Leonard Dove The New Yorker 26 Feb 1949


Unlike New York of The New Yorker above in Delhi of following miniature you didn’t have to ask for opium dens, off the record!



A Delhi opium den with recumbent addicts, from James Sinner’s Tazkirat al-umara