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."

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