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."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fate, Destiny or Luck of Girish Wagh and Vasudev Deshpande

Indians tend to use the word "fate" very often. They seldom use "destiny" or simple "luck". Marathi author G A Kulkarni जी ए कुलकर्णी, deeply influenced by Greek culture preferred "destiny" नियती.

I am more comfortable with the word "luck", toss of coin.

In January 2008, media and the world at large hailed the launch of Tata's Nano. Ratan Tata very generously gave large credit of this success to Girish Wagh.

I am sure Wagh deserves all his success but does he know that he also is very lucky?

41 years ago in 1967, in the middle of what Surjit Bhalla calls India's "rotten age period (1960 to 1980) of declining growth and increasing poverty", a young man Vasudev Deshpande helped design "Meera Mini Car" for now defunct "Meera Automobile & Engineering Industries Pvt Ltd" based in small town of Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district. See few relevant pictures below.

India's automobile industry history has almost forgot Deshpande.

History is replete with such examples. When we hail new heroes and their achievements, it also is time to reflect on who all went before them.

Nicholas Taleb:

“Heroes won and lost battles in a manner that was totally independent of their own valor; their fate depended upon totally external forces, generally the explicit agency of scheming gods (not devoid of nepotism). Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.”

Vasudev Deshpande will remain a hero to me.



Please note Numberplate




Vasudev Deshpande explaining features to a minister

Phantom महाबली वेताळ in My Classroom. Speaking Marathi.

NYT editorial of January 3, 2008- “Comic Books in the Classroom”- said:

“Generations of children grew up reading comic books on the sly, hiding out from parents and teachers who saw them as a waste of time and a hazard to young minds. Comics are now gaining a new respectability at school. That is thanks to an increasingly popular and creative program, often aimed at struggling readers, that encourages children to plot, write and draw comic books, in many cases using themes from their own lives…

…Teachers are finding it easier to teach writing, grammar and punctuation with material that students are fully invested in. And it turns out that comic books have other built-in advantages. The pairing of visual and written plotlines that they rely on appear to be especially helpful to struggling readers. No one is suggesting that comic books should substitute for traditional books or for standard reading and composition lessons. Teachers who would once have dismissed comics out of hand are learning to exploit a genre that clearly has a powerful hold on young minds. They are using what works.”

I know the power of comic books.

When I grew up, no one (yes, including Shivaji) captivated me more than Phantom, Mahabali Vetal महाबली वेताळ in Marathi. I read and re-read exploits of Phantom and Mandrake, published as part of Indrajal Comics series by Bennett, Coleman & Co

Those heroes’ families became mine.

Bheem of Mahabharat was strong as Lothar, Mandrake as clever as Shivaji. When Princess Diana died I felt sad because she had the same name of Phantom’s wife!

Kolhapur had many attractions for me. One of them was my cousin’s collection of Phantom and Mandrake books. I knew by heart all those books. They were translated in Marathi with some chutzpah.

I have never understood why Phantom comics books were not published in Marathi later.

I wish I had the help of Phantom to learn Newton’s laws and Diana’s help to understand working of the United Nations!

Marathi newspaper Sakal सकाळ on January 18, 2007 reported: “अल्लाद्दिन, टारझन, मोगली आता मराठीतून 'बोलणार'!” (“Aladdin, Tarzan, Moguli now to ‘speak’ in Marathi”)

Poor Sakal. It doesn’t even mention the rich world of Phantom in Marathi that came to pass.