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.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

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, June 29, 2009

Delayed Monsoon to affect Sowing and Throwing!


Artist: P.C. Vey, The New Yorker, June 29 2009, Cartoon Caption Contest #198

My caption:

“Our boss, Ajit-the-Lion, told us to throw this baby out with the bathwater at a place where he can sleep with the fishes. Damn monsoon! Even dams have dried up.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stench and Scent of a Woman

Neil Young:

"A Man Needs A Maid"
...
I was thinking that
maybe I'd get a maid
Find a place nearby
for her to stay.
Just someone
to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.
..."

Only for "to keep my house clean, Fix my meals and go away."? Not necessarily.

Recently a high profile Hindi film actor has been accused of a brutal rape of his maid.

I am reminded of a scene from Marathi film "Simhasan सिंहासन" (1980):
An elderly man douses his maid (played by Sushma Tendulkar सुषमा तेंडुलकर ) with perfume before sleeping with her. At the end of the act, he calls her a prostitute and 'pays' her with a used saree of his wife.

Dousing with perfume!

On the other hand, Napoleon sent word from the thick of battle to Josephine that she should abstain from washing now that his return was nigh.

R K Narayan:

"I smelt my wife's letter before opening it. It carried with it the fragrance of her trunk, in which she always kept her stationery- a mild jasmine smell surrounded her and all her possessions ever since I had known her."

("The English Teacher", 1946)

In "The Simpsons" episode (Production code: CABF05 Original Airdate on FOX: 14-Jan-2001), a prisoner asks Marge Simpson: "Can I smell your dress?"

बा. सी. मर्ढेकर (B S Mardhekar):

दवांत आलिस भल्या पहाटीं
अभ्रांच्या शोभेंत एकदां;
जवळुनि गेलिस पेरित अपुल्या
मंद पावलांमधल्या गंधा.

(# 25, "मर्ढेकरांची कविता", "Mardhekar's Poetry", 1959)

Forgive my translation:

"You came in early morning dew
decked up like clouds once;
went past me planting
fragrance of your tender steps."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vijay Mallya’s Next Generation Flight



Artist: Drew Dernavich, The New Yorker, June 22 2009, Cartoon Caption Contest 197


My caption:

“This year she is on the ramp. Next year she will also be in Kingfisher Calendar.”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Did Alexander the Great exult like Shahid Afridi?

Indian media- to drive up ratings- inform us every little useless detail about Indian cricketers and their WAGS but thankfully they don’t bother about Shahid Afridi. Therefore, I don't know if he is married or not. When he spoke to Nasser Hussain after the match, he did not bring in his family either. He just spoke about the god, the country, the captain and the team.

Regardless of his marital status, if I were a girl or a gay, I would be falling head over hills in love with Afridi!

When he stood exulting after taking a wicket, see picture below, running his fingers through thick black hair, it looked almost surreal.

In that setting, Bollywood's Big Khans would have looked like sideshows.

This was cricket for the sheer joy of it.

“……It said a great deal for Smith that he did not allow the misfortune to throw him off balance. Bowling more carefully, he delivered the rest of the over to the order. Five balls went down, each of them swinging into the batsman. Three of them Troughton was able to leave alone, as they swung across his body and down the leg side, making Deacon leap and stretch to stop them from going for byes. True, Troughton played carefully, once going right up on his toes to bring the ball down on to the pitch in front of him with the straightest of the bats, dropping his wrists and slackening the fingers round the bat handle.

The seventh, aimed straight at the middle stump had Troughton driving across the line trying to work it away to mid-wicket. It moved off the pitch again, but this time in the other direction, touching the outside edge of the bat as it went and winging its way chest high to Gauvinier at first slip- a straightforward, finger-tingling slip catch.

He flung the ball high in delight- for himself, for Norman, for the ball, for the catch, for the score and for the sheer joy of cricket

(John Parker “The Village Cricket Match”(1977) from cricket anthology “The Joy of Cricket” Selected and Edited by John Bright-Holmes)

Afridi reminded me of Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath of 1983, another carefree cricketer. And not a slave to big money.

David Hopps (Guardian) says: “…To term Pakistan cricket indomitable is not to deny its essentially unstable nature. It is unconquerable only in its passion for the game, but the flames of that passion burn fiercely, bringing delight and recriminations, success and failure. The one constant factor is the fervour…”

When will Indian cricket get back its fervour?


Photograph courtesy: Anthony Devlin/PA

Did Alexander the Great exult like this on the bank of Indus/Sindhu River?

June 21, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kings: Larry and Yayati

On May 21 2009, Jon Stewart of ‘The Daily Show’ asked 'degenerate' Larry King if he was sucking life out of the child he is shown kissing on the back cover of his latest book!

75 year old Mr. King has been married eight times to seven different women.

Mythical king Yayati, according to Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, was a man of amorous disposition, and his infidelity to Devayani brought upon him the curse of old age and infirmity from her father, Sukra.

(Yayati has appeared on this blog before.)

This curse Sukra consented to transfer to any one of his sons who would consent to bear it. All refused except Puru, who undertook to resign his youth in his father's favour.

Did Yayati suck life out of Puru?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is Mukul Shivaputra modern day Diogenes?

गोविंदराव टेंबे (1881-1955): "एकनिष्ठेने दीर्घ काल संगीताराधना करणाऱ्या व्यक्तीच मुळी प्रतिष्ठित पोषाखी समाजात दुर्मिळ असतात." (माझा संगीत व्यासंग, १९३९)

Govindrao Tembe: "In a well-dressed established society, rarely there exists people who loyally worship music over a long period of time." (My Study of Music, 1939)

Tembe hated radio. And then, we had television!!!

There has been hue and cry in media about Mukul Shivaputra, a gifted Hindustani classical singer and the son of Kumar Gandharva, when he was found begging. He has been known to live a reclusive life.

Urban middle-class India's attitude towards poverty and begging is- like most things in their life- identical to that of Anglo-Saxon attitude.

I wonder how we may treat Ashwatthama, Buddha, Gorakh Nath, Kabir, Tukaram... if any of them were to ring our apartment's bell today.

Or Diogenes.

"...Diogenes (412-323 BC), the story goes, was called a “downright dog,” and this so pleased him that the figure of a dog was carved in stone to mark his final resting place. From that epithet, kunikos (“dog-like”), cynicism was born.

Diogenes credited his teacher Antisthenes with introducing him to a life of poverty and happiness — of poverty as happiness. The cynic’s every word and action was dedicated to the belief that the path to individual freedom required absolute honesty and complete material austerity.

So Diogenes threw away his cup when he saw people drinking from their hands. He lived in a barrel, rolling in it over hot sand in the summer. He inured himself to cold by embracing statues blanketed with snow. He ate raw squid to avoid the trouble of cooking..."

(SIMON CRITCHLEY, NYT, April 1 2009)

Is Mukul Shivaputra modern day Diogenes?


Saturday, June 13, 2009

"The Tonight Show" with Raj Thackeray?

Jay Leno is history. At least for now. Long live Leno, especially first 30 minutes of his show.

USA is lucky though. It still has Bill Maher, Jon Stewart.

I have already regretted the absence of Jon Stewart like figure in Indian media. Read it here.

It was not always like this.

India once had Avadh Punch and Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर.

In USA, Leno did not let American leaders, celebrities, sports persons, media, corporates, murderers, lawyers, judges, doctors, devices, technology, food, clothes, dogs, cats get away with their hypocrisy and pompousness. Like Maher, Leno thought America's most important battle cry was not coming from Iran or Afghanistan but from their kitchens.

I particularly liked his dislike of mobile texting and twitting.

In India, the closest we get to Leno, Maher or Stewart is Cho Ramaswamy. But Cho is 75 years old and hosts no TV program in English or Hindi. (Recently on national news, Cho was at his best explaining tongue-in-cheek why M. Karunanidhi must find a suitable role for his daughter Kanimozhi.)

These days I find 40 year old TV-genic Raj Thackeray playing Cho's role in Marathi for people of Maharashtra.

I don't agree with Thackeray's methods but on many everyday-life issues he talks a lot of sense.

Mr. Thackeray is very fond of political cartoons, particularly the art of David Low but finds no time for his passion. I hope some day Raj Thackeray will host a TV show in Marathi. It will entertain me. And who knows, may further his political career.



Cho Ramaswamy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When Food & Violence Combine, The Godfather is Borne

Bijoy Bharathan in Asian Age May 9, 2009:

“When food and sex collide…The new commercial for Hardee’s burger, a hit on YouTube features model Padma Lakshmi suggestively biting off chunks of a burger, that’s dripping with sauce.

Alyque Padamsee, the CEO of AP Advertising Agency says, "The trend of combining food and provocative imagery is not entirely new. The world-renowned Häagen-Dazs ice cream features very risqué situations where the actors sensuously enjoy an ice cream. It’s only a fad that’s seeing a revival right now. But it will soon fade away as food is primarily about gastronomic appeal and not sex appeal as shown in many ads these days."…”

I don’t think this will ever fade away.

The Godfather-I and II had lots of violence but not much sex. In the movie, gangsters eat all the time. They even have time to explain a recipe. Food replaces sex in the well-tried recipe of commercial success: sex and violence.

I have always felt that director Ram Gopal Varma missed a trick in Satya (1998). He could have shown his gangsters eating lots of yummy roadside food in Mumbai before blowing out other people's brains.





"Goli Maar Bheje Mein"(Satya, 1998)...but only after eating yummy roadside Vada-pav or pav-bhaji

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mice Speak: Living is Obligatory; so, too, is Dying.

The NYT editorial on June 5 2009:

"Over the years, scientists have developed many strains of genetically modified mice, many of which incorporate human versions of similar mouse genes. But there is something different in a recent experiment performed at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Scientists there have created a strain of mouse that contains the human variant of a gene, called FOXP2, associated with several critical tasks, including the human capacity for language.

What makes this different is how fundamentally human — and unmouse-like — language really is. Something essential to us, something defining in our species, has been implanted in a rodent.

FOXP2 happens to work pretty well in mice...

...And there is another question hovering over this experiment: Just how alien to themselves do these transgenic mice become? To that question, scientists are bound to find no answers, until, perhaps, mice can speak for themselves."

बा. सी. मर्ढेकर, # २१ , "मर्ढेकरांची कविता" (B S Mardhekar, "Mardhekar's Poetry", 1959)

पिपांत मेले ओल्या उंदिर;
माना पडल्या, मुरगळल्याविण;
ओठांवरती ओठ मिळाले;
माना पडल्या, आसक्तीविण.
गरिब बिचारे बिळांत जगले,
पिपांत मेले उचकी देउन;
दिवस सांडला घाऱ्या डोळीं
गात्रलिंग अन् धुवून घेउन.

जगायची पण सक्ती आहे;
मरायची पण सक्ती आहे.

उदासतेला जहरी डोळे,
काचेचे पण;

मधाळ पोळें
ओठांवरती जमलें तेंही
बेकलाइटी, बेकलाइटी!
ओठांवरती ओठ लागले;
पिपांत उंदिर न्हाले ! न्हाले !

Translated from the Marathi by Vilas Sarang विलास सारंग:

Mice Died in the Wet Barrel

Inside the waterlogged drum, the mice are dead,
Their necks hang, wrung by nobody.

The necks hang, and lips meet lips
Without desire.

Poor bastards lived in holes,
And, with a hiccup, died in the drum.

Day spilled into gray eyes,
rinsed their limbs and genitals.

Living is obligatory;
so, too, is dying.

Melancholy has disquieting eyes;
they are glass ones, though.

Even the honeycomb
brimming on their lips
is merely foam rubber!

Lips nuzzling lips:
O the mice are douched in the drum!
the mice are douched!



Artist: Paul Noth, The New Yorker, June 8 2009, Cartoon Caption Contest #196

My caption:

“The poet is right. They are saying: Living is obligatory; so, too, is dying.”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ian Chappell, Isn't this a kinda Tampa?

I always suspected that many Australians were racial. The way many Indians are casteist.

Sure, the official Indian delegation again blocked all mention of caste at the UN conference against racism in Durban in April 2009. But we all know they are the same.

e-Media in India are reporting every single violence against any non-white immigrant in Australia. The Asian Age reports on June 3, 2009: “Crimes against Dalits on the rise across country. A total of 06,942 incidents of murder, rape and other crimes were reported in 2008 in UP.”

Let us leave India out at the moment.

Will Australians stand up against this hate in their country?

I am counting on Ian Chappell, the best cricket commentator by some distance for my taste.

In Ashley Mallett’s book “Chappelli Speaks Out” (2005), there is a chapter titled “Tampa and the 1968 Australians.” It talks about Chappell’s involvement in social causes such as the campaign against refugee detention centres.

IAN CHAPPELL on Tampa:

“Anyhow, I'm living this reasonably quiet life and suddenly the 'Tampa' crisis had blown up. I'm sitting there in front of the television news and watching all those people on the 'Tampa', and I'm thinking, "This is terrible. "No matter what you think about protecting the Australian borders, these are human beings and you can't just treat them like that .I was getting really angry.

The games that I've played in my life are very good tutors in teaching you what is fair and what is unfair. And that was offended by what I saw with the Tampa crisis. I just thought, That's not fair. In cricketing parlance, it was like cheating -that I felt that those people, the refugees, were being cheated out of a fair go. Anyhow, I'm railing at the television set, and my wife, Barbara-Ann, she said, You know, bad things happen when good people do nothing. And that sort of jolted me a little bit. I thought, "I'm not gonna do a lot of good sitting railing at the television set…”



Artist: Sudhir Tailang, The Asian Age, June 2 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009

Journey of Sharad Pawar from May 1999 to May 2009

The letter sent by Sharad Pawar to Sonia Gandhi on May 15, 1999:

“…But our inspiration, our soul, our honour, our pride, our dignity, is rooted in our soil. It has to be of this earth. Soniaji you have became a part of us because you have all along respected this. We therefore find it strange that you should allow yourself to forget it at this crucial juncture. It is not possible that a country of 980 million, with a wealth of education, competence and ability, can have anyone other than an Indian, born of Indian soil, to head its government.

Some of us have tried to initiate and open broader discussions on this issue within the party. It is an issue which. affects not just the security, the economic interest and the international image of India, but hits at the core pride of every Indian. Unfortunately this initiative has been thwarted at every stage…”

p.s. The number 980 million now stands considerably upgraded to 1,130 million!



Artist: Danny Shanahan, The New Yorker, June 1 2009, Cartoon Caption Contest #195

My caption:

Sonia: “Sharad-ji, Have you started using western motifs just to please me? What happened to inspiration, soul, honour, pride, dignity that are rooted in your soil? But I will be happy only when you merge your party with the Congress.”