मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

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.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

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);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

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."

Friday, October 30, 2009

You are Not-out, David Shepherd

Watching a good cricket test match is like reading a good novel. Many actors and situations.

One such actor was the late David Shepherd.

I enjoyed watching David Shepherd as much I did watching players.

I remember a test match in Melbourne, Australia in December 1999.

It was Brett Lee's debut test.

Peter Roebuck wrote: "This was a day to remember, a day on which Brett Lee made a startling first appearance in his country's colors and Sachin Tendulkar stood alone at the crease defying formidable odds with courage and skill.

It was a glorious confrontation between old and new, mighty and promising, an expression of the great gifts of the game, the brilliance of batsmanship, the excitement of pace and the powers needed to reach the gods. Meanwhile, a superb leg-spinner (Shane Warne) also bowled with artistry and cunning as he pursued his own landmark. It wasn't a day to have stayed in bed. There haven't been many better...

...When Tendulkar reached his 100, the entire crowd rose in acclamation. His dismissal, caught on the boundary, brought the crowd to its feet a second time.
It had been the perfect day. The visiting champion had scored a century. And a new fast bowler had arrived on the scene."

That was India's first innings.

In second innings, his back against the wall, Tendulkar was playing Shane Warne beautifully but a touch nervously.

In the end Warne prevailed by getting him out LBW.

David Shepherd was the umpire. He had watched the confrontation of the two masters from the close and probably made the correct decision in the end.

While Shepherd enjoyed two masters at work, I enjoyed three!

picture courtesy: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is 'Positive Thinking Talk' in Marathi TV Serials a Cheap Import from USA?

Joseph Conrad: “The fact is you want more scepticism at the very foundation of your work. Scepticism the tonic of minds, the tonic of life, the agent of truth- the way of art and salvation.”

While surfing cable TV, I often pause on Marathi channels, showing sitcoms, to find out what they are upto.

Every now and then, I meet a character that says: "Everything will be OK/ it will all get sorted out/ All will work out in the end."...In fact, these must be the most spoken statements in a Marathi soap.

Almost every character- hero/villain, old/young, male/female, rich/poor, being borne/dying, healthy/sick, Brahmin/Dalit, Hindu/Muslim- ends up saying it a few times during his/her life time in the drama.

Is this behaviour part of Marathi / Indian culture? I am not sure because I have not heard this with so much frequency in real life?

When I read Marathi books or watch Marathi cinema of previous eras, these smiley-faced talkers, bleating sentimental cant and wishful thinking, are hard to find.

From where do they come? USA?


"GREED — and its crafty sibling, speculation — are the designated culprits for the financial crisis. But another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking...

...Positive thinking is endemic to American culture — from weight loss programs to cancer support groups — and in the last two decades it has put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a “positive person,” and no one becomes a chief executive by issuing warnings of possible disaster...

...Americans did not start out as deluded optimists. The original ethos, at least of white Protestant settlers and their descendants, was a grim Calvinism that offered wealth only through hard work and savings, and even then made no promises at all. You might work hard and still fail; you certainly wouldn’t get anywhere by adjusting your attitude or dreamily “visualizing” success...

...When it comes to how we think, “negative” is not the only alternative to “positive.” As the case histories of depressives show, consistent pessimism can be just as baseless and deluded as its opposite. The alternative to both is realism — seeing the risks, having the courage to bear bad news and being prepared for famine as well as plenty. We ought to give it a try."

(NYT, September 24, 2008)


"...As Ms. Ehrenreich disapprovingly explains, positive thinking has saturated not just American religion but also corporate life and popular culture, and it is rapidly soaking into modern psychology. The problem for her is that people who are insistently reciting inspirational phrases won't hear the siren's wail in time to save themselves. Ms. Ehrenreich cranks her indignation up highest when aiming at the bankers, economists, bureaucrats and business honchos whose near-hallucinatory positive thinking, she believes, has pushed us all to the brink of economic collapse..."

(WSJ, OCTOBER 11, 2009)

Another example of the kind of Marathi that gets spoken in Marathi soaps:

तू कसा आहेस? (how are you?)
मी बरा आहे. (I am OK.)
तू कशी आहेस? (How are you?)
मी बरी आहे. (I am OK.)

Marathi people never greeted like this as long as I remember! Maybe they do now.

Bambooque of Avadh Punch would confirm our status as America-returned, newly-made gentleman & noisy Jee-Huzoors pretending to have forgotten our native tongue during our brief stay in America. He would describe us as "the personification of false hopes, the embodiment of extravagant expectations and the incarnation of utterly vain delusions."

I don't mind conversations about Marathi TV serials but I wish there were no conversations in them!

The Spectator

Monday, October 26, 2009

A New Adjective in Marathi: Ambedkar

James Fallows writes on The Atlantic:

"..."to Obama" -- has gained currency among some Japanese youths.


"obamu: (v.) To ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think "Yes we can, Yes we can," and proceed with optimism using those facts as an inspiration (literally, as fuel). It is used to elicit success in a personal endeavor. One explanation holds that it is the opposite of kobamu. (拒む, which means to refuse, reject, or oppose)...

...The absorptive-and-transforming power of the Japanese language is indeed one of its charms..."

When I read it, I thought:

why couldn't we be creative with the name- Ambedkar?

If Japanese care to lean about the achievements of B R Ambedkar- and they are no less than their favourite Gautam Buddha- what meaning will they assign to it?

Here is an attempt in Marathi.

The legend of Bhageeratha says because of his tireless efforts, the river Ganga descended to earth from heaven. It was considered an impossible task. To honour this, in Marathi, such efforts are called: Bhageeratha efforts भगीरथ प्रयत्न.

I have never forgot following lines of poet Namdev Dhasal since I read them in class X, thirty four year ago.

सूर्यफुले हाती ठेवणारा फकीर हजारो वर्षानंतर लाभला
आत्ता सूर्यफुलासाराखे सूर्योंमुख झालेच पाहिजे
('आत्ता', नामदेव लक्ष्मण ढसाळ, गोलपिठा, १९७१ )

[After thousands of years, we met a fakir who handed to us sunflowers
now we must become sun-facing like sunflowers

('Aatta', Namdev Lakshman Dhasal, Golpitha, 1971)]

Ambedkar's task was harder than that of Bhageeratha because in 1891- the year he was borne- growing, plucking and handing over the sunflowers, in the total darkness that engulfed the Dalits of India, was possible only in the dreams.

And yet, he did it. Therefore, let us call such efforts: Ambedkar efforts आंबेडकर प्रयत्न.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Who is the Greatest Indian Bilingual Intellectual?

Matthew Arnold:

"We are often told that an era is opening in which we are to see multitudes of a common sort of readers, and masses of a common sort of literature; that such readers do not want and could not relish anything better than such literature, and that to provide it is becoming a vast and profitable industry. Even if good literature entirely lost currency with the world, it would still be abundantly worth while to continue to enjoy it by oneself. But it never will lose currency with the world, in spite of momentary appearances; it never will lose supremacy. Currency and supremacy are insured to it, not indeed by the world's deliberate and conscious choice, but by something far deeper, -- by the instinct of self- preservation in humanity."

Damodar Mauzo:

"The first traces of the Konkani language were written by Sant Namdev..."

Ramachandra Guha has written an essay that

"interprets the rise and fall of the bilingual intellectual in modern India. Making a distinction between functional and emotional bilingualism, it argues that Indian thinkers, writers and activists of earlier generations were often intellectually active in more than one language.

Now, however, there is an increasing separation of discourses – between those who operate exclusively in English and those who operate in the language of the state alone.

The decline of the bilingual intellectual is a product of many factors, among them public policy, elite preference, new patterns of marriage, and economic change."

(Economic & Political Weekly, August 15 2009)

While reading Guha' essay, my thoughts strayed to arguably the greatest bilingual intellectual of India: Sant Nāmdev (c.1270-c.1350 CE)

He wrote in Marathi, Konkani, Hindi and Punjabi. Sixty-one of his compositions are included in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Oh my word! He knew how to write!

One of his Hindi abhangas:

एकै पाथ र धरिए भावो। दुजै पाथर धरिए पावो।
जे एहु देवा तो ओहु भी देवा ॥

(a stone makes a step on which we plant our foot, another stone makes an image of god in which we put our faith and worship it. Both are really stones. The difference is in belief.)

Namdev's resume is still not finished!

M V Dhond म वा धोंड argues that it was Namdev who created one of the most enduring 'myths' of India- Lord Vitthal.

Namdev animated Vitthal. Vitthal started walking and talking.

Namdev dragged Vitthal to the homes of his devotees and made him do menial work for them.

[ऐसा विटेवर देव कोठें! ("Aisa Vitevar Dev Kothe!") 2001]

Namya's poetry will never lose currency with the world, in spite of momentary appearances; it never will lose supremacy. Currency and supremacy are insured to it, not indeed by the world's deliberate and conscious choice, but by something far deeper, -- by the instinct of self- preservation in humanity.

This is how I saw the following picture: the artist (say Namdev) creates the myth (say Lord Vitthal) and the myth in turn places a laurel wreath on the artist's head. (Vasant Sarwate is a big fan of Steinberg. I should ask him.)

Artist: Saul Steinberg, The New Yorker, Jan 6 1962

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can one remove the picture of Jew and put in the picture of Muslim?

The Times of India October 21 2009: 'Maharashtra fast turning into a right-wing terror hub'

In March 2009, it was reported: The Tokyo publisher East Press is launching a series of 28 manga versions of important European and Japanese literature. Dostoyevsky is among the bestsellers, along with Dante, Kafka and Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

From time to time, many prominent people in Maharashtra espouse the cause of dictatorship. They want a blank slate once again.

Therefore, it's no surprise that Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' sells well in Maharashtra. In most book exhibitions at Pune, I find it displayed.

My father's maternal uncle was a big fan of the Führer. Apparently he had a large picture of Hitler hung in his room at his Sadashiv Peth, Pune home during the World War II.

The Times of India reported on February 1 2009:

"...The Fuhrer's political manifesto, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is a well-thumbed book in India even though it is banned in many European countries...

...It's well-documented that early Hindu nationalists such as Vinayak Savarkar and Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar were deeply impressed by Nazi ideology.

Their political descendants, including the BJP's L K Advani and the Shiv Sena's Bal Thackeray, have publicly referred to Hitler's ideas and strategy...

'If they grow stronger they can play the part of Sudeten Germans, alright. But if we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslim friends of the league type will have to play the part of German-Jews instead. We Hindus have taught the Shakas and the Huns already to play that part pretty well. So, it is no use bandying words till the test comes. The taste of the pudding is in its eating.': V D Savarkar, Hindutva ideologue, in Hindu Rashtra Darshan, 1949

'If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.': Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena leader, quoted by Mumbai newspapers before the 1992 riots

L K Advani's prison diary, based on his days of confinement during the Emergency, has frequent references to Hitler's Mein Kampf. He compares fascism with the 'draconian laws' that Indira Gandhi had imposed on the nation during the Emergency in 1975. Advani's book has a specific section titled 'Anatomy of Fascism'. The book also has references to other fascists like Mussolini of Italy and Franco of Spain."

The Times of India reported on October 2, 2009:

"...a comic version of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's notorious political manifesto has become a hit in Japan - with sales of 45,000 copies since last November.

The manga book describes both Hitler's autobiography and his infamous Nazi manifesto in the unlikely form of easy-to-read comic pictures and captions..."

Bal Thackeray was a cartoonist first before he became a politician. Therefore, he may appreciate Manga Mein Kampf even more.

For an accomplished graphic artist like him, it may be even easy to substitute the pictures of Jews with Muslims!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Little Man You only Hope to Know!

Like last few years, I was looking forward to Madhukar Dharmapurikar's मधुकर धर्मापुरीकर Diwali greeting.

I wasn't disappointed.

For me calendar 2009's theme has been John N Gray's "Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals" (2002).

One of the quotes I liked from the book is by Joseph Brodsky: "...should the truth about the world exist, it's bound to be nonhuman."

Therefore, I was delighted to see that the greeting was consistent with the theme.

See the picture below. (To view 2008 card, click here)

The picture made me nostalgic. At a public garden in Miraj, a few decades ago, on a mild sunny morning, three of us and our parents had a photo session. There was no one else other than us and the photographer.

Were there birds? I don't remember but surely no albatrosses or seagulls!

Although the family in the picture seems to be enjoying their presence, what are birds there doing?

Do they want to fit in the frame? Are they swooping down on the junk strewn at the beach? Are they enjoying irritation of family dog? Is this a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963)?

R K Laxman once described how dozens of crows sat without a sound on overhead cables during the entire reception of Prince Charles in Mumbai.

Does a poet have an answer?

Walter de la Mare?:

"Over these unremembered marble columns,

birds glide their old remembered way.

Dive in red gold setting tide and write dark alphabets on evening sky

whether an epitaph, chorus or strange augury

little man you only hope to know!"

Here is hoping for happy Diwali 2009!

Artist: Norman Thelwell (1923 - 2004)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lucky me. I didn't send a letter to Har Gobind Khorana

Dr. Jayant Narlikar replies in long hand to every letter he receives.

My childhood was spent taking pride in Har Gobind Khorana, an Indian American molecular biologist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1968.

Luckily I never sent an e-mail or a letter to him.

The Times of India reported on October 14 2009:

"...Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has expressed disenchantment with people from India "bothering" him "clogging" up his email box and dubbed as "strange" their sudden urge to reach out to him.

"All sorts of people from India have been writing to me, clogging up my email box. It takes me an hour or two to just remove their mails," he said...

..."There are also people who have never bothered to be in touch with me for decades who suddenly feel the urge to connect...

...He expressed anguish over "all sorts of lies" published about him in a section of the media..."

Maybe he could have used technology to filter out the messages he did not wish to see, the way commoners like me do. Instead, he chose to attack the well-wishers in public.

Why do educated Indians have this overwhelming urge to take pride in Indianness found anywhere in the universe, from knowledge of Sanskrit to Obama administration to NASA to Slumdog to Chicken Tikka?

Does Nobel prize matter? (Henry James, W H Auden, J L Borges, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Nabokov, M Proust, L Tolstoy, M Twain, and E Zola among many others never won literature Nobel!)

Does a person of Indian origin winning it matter?

I will never understand.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pune is lucky to have Pigs, Cows, Donkeys, Crows, Dogs & Goats

G. C. Lichtenberg: "That man is the noblest creature may be inferred from the fact that no other creature has contested this claim."

Every morning I walk past two big stinking garbage heaps located on the main street of a Pune suburban where I live.

They are less of garbage dumps and more of zoos in early morning hours.

Crows, dogs, cows, pigs, donkeys, goats and, I am sure, rodents, roaches and other forms of life feast there.

The other day I saw the donkey herdsman driving away cows saying to himself how his donkeys deserved to eat there more than the 'bloody' cows.

Poor cows- who are never accompanied by their herdsman- stood there confused, not knowing what to do next!


"...It is unlikely anyone has ever come to this city and commented on how clean the streets are. But this litter-strewn metropolis is now wrestling with a garbage problem so severe it has managed to incite its weary residents and command the attention of the president...

...But the crisis should not have come as a surprise.

When the government killed all the pigs in Egypt this spring — in what public health experts said was a misguided attempt to combat swine flu — it was warned the city would be overwhelmed with trash.

The pigs used to eat tons of organic waste. Now the pigs are gone and the rotting food piles up on the streets of middle-class neighborhoods...

...“They killed the pigs, let them clean the city,” said Moussa Rateb, a former garbage collector and pig owner who lives in the community of the zabaleen. “Everything used to go to the pigs, now there are no pigs, so it goes to the administration.”..."

(NYT, September 20, 2009)

Artist: Sudhir Tailang, The Asian Age, August 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I just looked towards Beautiful Boy- Rajan Bala

I have read and liked many Indian cricket writers.

N S Phadke ना सी फडके, V V Karmarkar वि वि करमरकर, K N Prabhu, Raju Bharatan, Mihir Bose, Sunil Gavaskar, M A K Pataudi, Ramachandra Guha...but no one came close to Rajan Bala- who passed away on October 9 2009- in appreciating the game, which perhaps is a proxy for life.

His "All the Beautiful Boys" (1990) remains one of the best books I have read. I must have read it dozens of times since 1993, the year I bought it.

When he interviewed (chatted with?) people connected to the game, he brought the best out of them.
When I read the quotes attributed to M L Jaisimha, Gundappa Vishwanath, Eknath Solkar, Erapalli Prasanna, Chandu Borde in his book, I thought - my god, they all are as erudite as Ian Chappell or Sunil Gavaskar!

Here are a few examples of his writings:

"...Tauseef the Pakistani on a death trap of a wicket in Bangalore must have realised that Sunil (Gavaskar) was a different class of a player. I remember one ball which was pitched short and changed course- did not turn. It bounced straight on and over Sunil's shoulder. Sunil had read it all the way, It was the mobile front foot which enabled him to avoid the ball. It was incredible..."

Why do you need a TV when you have a description as graphic as that?

"...It was the only time I have seen a fast bowler in a Test match resort to bowling to widish bouncers in order to prevent a batsman getting a single. The West Indians wanted to deprive Vishy of his second century in two Tests and get at Chandrasekhar, the last man. They succeeded. That was Andy's (Roberts) ultimate tribute to Vishy..."

How he evokes the drama in a diminutive man humbling one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time bowling on a helpful wicket.

"...One of my best moments off cricket watching was a defensive stroke in a Test match. This was in Madras. India were playing Pakistan and Imran Khan was bowling to Sunil Gavaskar. Imran dung the particular delivery short. It was not a bouncer but one which forced Sunil to get on his toes and defend. Sunil did just that. He was on his toes, on the back foot, left hand tight on the bat handle, right hand removed, both hands wide apart, and standing absolutely sideways. The ball hit the bat fairly high and then virtually rolled down the length of the blade to drop passively at Sunil's feet. Imran, on his follow-through, applauded the batsman..."

Isn't there so much to cricket than just runs, wickets and catches?

"I remember M L Jaisimha waiting under a big mishit at the edge of the boundary. The ball seemed to be suspended in the air for ever so long. Some one hundred and forty thousand eyes were focused on the ball and the man, in turns. Jaisimha positioned himself and finally, after what seemed an eternity, grasped the ball with both hands and closed his eyes. Seventy thousand hearts heaved a collective sigh of relief. the scoreboard registered unemotionally, G. Sobers caught Jaisimha bowled Chandrasekhar. One more Test dismissal.
For a full and agonizing minute Jaisimha was the loneliest man in the stadium, the mammoth and magnificent Eden Gardens..."

World is a stage!

"All the four spinners, Chandra, Prasanna, Bedi and Venkat, who benefited from Ekky's (Eknath Solkar) catching prowess, have readily sung the man's praises. Chandra said: "He gave me great confidence. Considering the pace I bowled at, and also the fact that the ball could have deviated either way, Ekky must have been genius to even react to some of the deflections." Bishan Bedi said: "If he did not go for one that popped, I was quite convinced that the batsman had not got his bat to the ball. His anticipation was uncanny." Venkat said: "I always believed that I was a capable catcher. But he could really catch." And Prasanna said: "If my delivery had the right loop and the ball turned, I just looked towards Ekky."

To judge if the show put on was worth it, I just looked towards Rajan Bala.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Going Insane with MADhukar!

Indian Psychiatric Society, Western Zonal Branch is organizing their 40th annual conference on October 9th, 10th and 11th 2009 at Nanded, Maharashtra. The theme of the conference is Women’s Mental Health.

A novel feature of the conference is the exhibition of cartoons- on the subject of mental health- by artists around the world.

Creative writer and a renowned critic of the art of cartooning, Madhukar Dharmapurikar मधुकर धर्मापुरीकर, is in-charge of the exhibition.

Dharmapurikar has created a booklet, for private circulation, ‘Delight in Madness’, that contains all the cartoons that will be exhibited…and more.

The booklet says: Insanity destroys reason, but not wit. Dharmapurikar proves it. He has gone in his usual possessed (insane?) ways to create these 66 pages that celebrate insanity on every single page!

It's said Ludwig Wittgenstein's intellectual brilliance and erratic behaviour provided Bertrand Russell with an opportunity to meditate on the link between logic and madness.

The same 'mad' Wittgenstein has said: 'The way to solve the problem you see in life is to live in a way that makes the problem disappear.'

The participants of the conference (and their patients!) will realise that their problems have disappeared, albeit briefly, when they read this book.

They say: good is the enemy of great. Dharmapurikar is never happy with just ‘good’. He wants perfection not only in his ideas but their execution. His last book, ‘Reshalekhak: Vasant Sarwate’ (a compilation of Vasant Sarwate’s cartoons from the defunct weekly ‘Manoos’ माणूस), is a testimony to that. This book is an encore.

Psychotherapist and essayist Adam Phillips says he hates the 'intrusiveness' of psychoanalysis, that 'most people are essentially private and the demand to articulate oneself is quite often a strain, and, in the process, can be a diminishment.

At the bottom of this post see a picture from the booklet.

Poor peahen already feels so diminished before she even has opened her mouth.

This indeed is the mascot image of the conference whose theme is : Women’s Mental Health!

Adam Phillips also says: “I don't have theories, I have sentences. I don't want people to come away thinking, this is what Phillips thinks about X or Y. My wish is not to inform people, but to evoke things in them by the way the writing works. That, I value. Ideally, I want the books to return you to your own thoughts.”

If so, ‘Delight in Madness’ will not disappoint in your journey of returning to your own thoughts.

Artist: Robert J. Day, The New Yorker, December 22 1962

Monday, October 05, 2009

How Google books can save me from becoming Bibliokleptomania

Daniel Soar:

It’s clearly wrong for all the information in all the world’s books to be in the sole possession of a single company. It’s clearly not ideal that only one company in the world can, with increasing accuracy, translate text between 506 different pairs of languages. On the other hand, if Google doesn’t do these things, who will?

(London Review of Books, 6 October 2011)

I have a confession to make. I have stolen atleast one book from a library in Mumbai where my cousin worked in early 1990's.

The book is 'Ravindranath: Teen Vyakhyane' by P L Deshpande 1980 ('रवींद्रनाथ: तीन व्याख्याने', पु. ल. देशपांडे).


I was in love with the book, it was out-of-print and I thought, like most Marathi books, it would never get reprinted.

(It since has. A few times. But the fear was valid. It took 'ages' for Rutu Chakra ऋतुचक्र by Durga Bhagwat दुर्गा भागवत (1956) to get reprinted. I often pestered the publisher- Popular Prakashan- about it.)

Courtesy Dennis Drabelle, I came to know that "bibliokleptomania is a term for the bad habit of stealing books not for profit but because you love them, take pride in them, must have them". (The Washington Post, September 27, 2009)

On September 7 2009, it was reported:

"...Google today defended its plan to scan and publish millions of books online, telling a European Commission hearing it made access to information on the Web more democratic...

Dan Clancy, architect of the Google program, defended the project on Monday, saying it stemmed in part from the group's ambition to allow Web surfers to find out-of-print books...

..."You can discover information which you did not know was there," Google's engineering director said. "It is important that these (out-of-print) books are not left behind. Google's interest was in helping people to find the books."

An author at the hearing also spoke in favor of Google.

"The settlement mostly only affects out-of-print books," said James Gleick, one of a number of writers who sued Google and later settled the action to let it scan old books and print them online.

"For us who are authors of out-of-print books, it brings our work to a whole new audience."..."


So many dead Marathi authors would be brought to life if Google publishes their out-of-print books.

Majority of Marathi books published are not easily accessible to a commoner like me because they are out of print and most libraries that perhaps stock them are dying.

Just a couple of illustration.

V K Rajwade, Riyasatkar Sardesai and Vasudevshastri Khare were three great historians. They wrote for a lay reader as much as scholars, almost only in Marathi. Once they were middle-class household names. Their work was hotly debated.

(btw- Recently historian Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty wrote to me: "...But I think the American situation influences us...in the US professional historians usually write only to be read by one another and a clear distinction exists between "popular" and "academic" histories...")

Today, other than a few of Rajwade's books, all the books they wrote are out-of-print.

One of the most important book from 20th century Maharashtra, "Sudamyache Pohe Arthat Sahitya-Battishee" by Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar ('सुदाम्याचे पोहे अर्थात साहित्य-बत्तिशी' श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर), first published in 1902(?), is not available in an unabridged form today.

I can give a hundred such examples.

I like Google's objective: You can discover information which you did not know was there.

If Google doesn’t do these things, who will?

‘An excellent weekend, thank you. We went to a literary festival. I burned many books.’

Spectator, September 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Thank you Miraj for giving us Ordinary, Boring, Eventless Days

140th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

य दि फडके:

"...जाती-जमातींमध्ये सुसंवाद निर्माण करण्यात त्यांना अखेर अपयश आले. जे साध्य गाठण्यात त्यांच्यासारख्या महात्म्याला अपयश आले तेथे त्यांच्यापेक्षा खुज्या माणसांना यश येणे शक्य नाही...भारतीय राष्ट्रवादाला तेव्हा सूडभावनेने पछाडलेले होते तसेच आजही पछाडलेले आहे... "

(नथुरामायण, १९९९ )

Y D Phadke:

"...He in the end failed to establish harmonious dialogue among different communities. Where a Mahatma like him fails to achieve the objective, anyone shorter in stature can never succeed...Then Indian nationalism was infected by vindictiveness the way it is infected today..."

(Nathuramayan, 1999)


"TWO provinces of British India sealed the fate of India’s unity. One was the United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh. The other was Assam. Both were ruled by the Congress. In both, the party rejected partnership with the Muslim League...

...The Congress rejected the very idea of grouping – the only concession to the League which had accepted the Plan – and wrecked it. Partition followed inevitably. That was the stand of the entire Congress. It was Gandhi who gave the lead. Others, Vallabhbhai Patel included, followed. Nehru alone cannot be blamed..."

(Frontline, September 12-25. 2009)

I lived in Miraj मिरज for first twenty one years of my life. Miraj was good to us.

Sure I got bored of it towards the end of my stay there because at the age of 21, I did not appreciate what Arun Shourie has once said: "...So many things in my life-good things, as well as things that could have devastated many-have happened because of accidents. So I do not make long-term plans. In that respect, I have learnt something from the Buddha's teachings, from life, and from Anita, my wife. She has taught me that given the sort of things that can happen, we have to be content with, indeed thankful for, an ordinary, boring, eventless day."

Miraj had considerable Muslim population and although there were a couple of riots of other kinds, I never witnessed a single religious riot there.

We had Muslim teachers, Muslim friends, Muslim fruit and newspaper vendors, Muslim bus conductors, mother's Muslim glass-bangle vendor (कासार)...Urus in front of the dargah of Samsuddin Mira Saheb used to be bigger fun than Navratri and Ganesh Chaturthi. (By the way on Oct 1 2009, Wikipage on Miraj does not mention the dargah in the list of 'Religious places' at Miraj!)

Sure some Muslim Mirajkars supported Pakistan team during India-Pakistan cricket matches and were proud of Zaheer Abbas. Today many Hindu middle-class and wealthy Indian-British support Indian team during India-England cricket matches and are proud of Sachin Tendulkar.

But I never thanked Miraj for giving us many 'ordinary, boring, eventless' days.

In September 2009, Miraj was hit with religious violence that disrupted normal life of ordinary people for more than a week. The violence also spread to neighbouring Kolhapur especially Ichalkaranji.

The Times of India reported on September 14 2009:

"...Meanwhile, the Sangli police have launched a probe into the events that led to the violence which first broke out at Miraj on September 2...

...At the centre of this probe is the video CDs of the violence at Miraj. The CDs found there way on the internet as well as mobile photo clippings..."

Pudhari पुढारी reported on September 27 2009:

"...दरम्यान, दंगलीस कारणीभूत असलेला शिवसेनेचा शहरप्रमुख विकास सूर्यवंशी अद्याप बेपत्ता असून, पोलीस त्याचा कसून शोध घेत आहेत."

"...Meanwhile, the man responsible for rioting, Vikas Suryavanshi, the city-chief of Shiv Sena is missing and police are searching for him."

The Asian Age, September 7 2009