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, December 03, 2007

Mayawati, Spare Nautch Girls. We Owe a Lot to Them.

Times of India reported on November 29, 2007: “Maya warns MLAs not to watch nautch girls dance.”

LUCKNOW: The 'feminist' in chief minister Mayawati surfaced on Tuesday when she warned her party leaders against hosting or attending events where women are made to dance in an obscene manner or exhibit their bodies.

" Agar tumhari maa aur beheno ko nachaya jaaye toh kaisa lagega (how will you feel if women of your family are made to dance)?" behenji thundered, and added that her party MLAs and MPs would be expelled if they dared to go against her wishes. Mayawati was particularly angry with her party leaders from Hardoi, who were caught on-camera watching dance show by bar girls.

"Didn't you feel ashamed of yourself? What values you will pass on to your children? Learn to respect women... I won't tolerate this anymore," Mayawati told party leaders. Instead, she said, host programmes that enlighten people about the great personalities and bahujan samaj.

"You can also invite BSP's social awakening groups for performance," she said. In her party review meeting, Mayawati spoke for an hour on "respect for women". “

I feel Mayawati is wasting her time and political capital on this because nautch girls have always been with us and will continue to be so.

Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), governor of Bombay, was one of the finest “British official in India who did much to promote education and local administration of laws.”

Philip Mason author of “The Men Who Ruled India” (1953) describes him thus:

“…Breakfast with Elphinstone would have been all pleasure. A companionable silence would be possible; there is wit in his face and in all he wrote or said, but there is no cynicism or spite or self –seeking; he can be detached, humorous, resigned to the inevitable, and yet enthusiastic as a boy…

…The news came that he was to be Governor of Bombay. He was by no means elated; he has been cured of ambition long ago, his brain was too fine, his temper too philosophic, his humour too astringent, to take pleasure in power or success or adulation for their own sake”

This stoic remembered nautch girls on a visit to Calcutta in 1807 thus:”Here there were such lots of women and laughing and philandering that I was in heaven.”

D G Godse in his essay “Centenarian Saubhadra शातायुषी सौभद्र” (नांगी असलेले फुलपाखरू, 1989) says:”...during the period (19th century) most middle-class people went to Tamasha (performed by nautch girls) is obvious from entries in their personal diaries...”

Giants who made Marathi plays and their music strong and enduring, namely Govindrao Tembe, Nanasaheb Joglekar and above all Bhaskarrao Bakhale, owe a lot of their skills to frequent visits to kothas of nautch girls!
(मराठी संगीत नाटक, गोविंदराव टेंबे, नानासाहेब जोगळेकर, भास्करराव बखले) (source- M V Dhond "Moon of the Fourth Day” ,म वा धोंड, चंद्र चवथिचा, 1987)


The Dancing Girl Piari Jan and Malageer c. 1815 (source- The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple, 2006)

I hope in man's cruel world Piari Jan or Malageer never backed into a sizzling Tandoor like poor Valerie did in the picture below!


Artist: Peter Arno The New Yorker 7 May 1949