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."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Has IPL Pune Team's Logo Captured Poetry?

Economic & Political Weekly: The gladiatorial spectacle of IPL has brought the worst of our economic and cultural life to the open. (April 17-23, 2010)

The new IPL team 'Sahara Pune Warriors' unveiled the name and logo of its franchise at a grand ceremony in Pune on Saturday April 24 2010.

As expected, the logo- embedded below- is gladiatorial. But does it look good?

Historian T S Shejwalkar becomes lyrical describing a member of Maratha cavalry:

"...a coloured fluttering flag used to be attached to the spear; because of that the sight of shining tip of the spear in daylight along with fluttering flag looked graceful from a distance..." Panipat 1761, 1961.

(त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर:"...भाल्याला फडफडणारे रंगीत निशाणही अडकविलेले असे; त्यामुळे उन्हांत चमकणार्या भाल्याचे टोंक व त्याखाली धावताना फडफडणारे निशाण यांची दुरून मोठी शोभा वाटे..." पानिपत १७६१, 1961)

When I first read this description, I closed the book and tried to imagine that spectacle. The process was exhilarating.

Has the logo captured even a tiny fraction of Shejwalkar's poetic description?

What would have an artist like D G Godse (द ग गोडसे)- who once worked for an advertising agency- done with the idea?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yes, Hitler was talking about Namby-Pambies of Today's Cricket

‘Tiger’ Bill O’Reilly after his leg was amputated: They can’t no-ball me any more.

It was reported widely in many Indian newspapers that Hitler wanted to use cricket to train troops for war but found it “insufficiently violent” for German Fascists.

If he had watched Bodyline series of 1932–33, he would have certainly not said so.

But when it comes to today's cricket, Hitler was right.

Mike Selvey:"The great Sir Viv (no surname needed) has been sounding off. Modern batsmen, he feels, are namby-pambies, donning their armour as if preparing for the tilting yard, human frailties cocooned and camouflaged behind all the padding and helmet. How can you test a man's mettle if it doesn't at least smart a bit when he gets hit?"

Kevin Mitchell: "There are individuals out there who use the body protection as a form of staying power," he (Viv Richards) said, "to go on as long as possible. That's the worst way anybody can be thinking, that you should cover yourself in a suit of armour, to make yourself brave, or to enable you to hook – when you never hooked in your life – just because you've got a helmet on. That's rubbish. Even though they say cricket is a gentleman's game, it's a man's game."

Also read this story told by Viv Richards:

"...I think I was pretty tough as a youngster. But (Brain) Closey was tougher still. He reinforced the message that you yield to no one...

...Man, he was brave. I remember playing against Gloucestershire and Closey was fielding at silly point. Mike Procter leant back and cracked a square cut. The ball hit Closey on the head and ballooned towards Dennis Breakwell. But Dennis watched the man rather than the ball and joined the rush to see if the captain was OK. When he came to Close's first words were "Did we get him?" He was none too pleased to hear that Dennis had failed to complete the catch...

...Anyway, at Old Trafford, Close got hit in the chest by Wayne Daniel and sank to the floor. OK, I was playing for my country, but this was my skipper on the ground and in pain. So I went up to him. "Are you OK, skipper?" Closey eventually gathered himself together and bellowed "Fuck off." What a man..."

Mike Atherton:

"...The advent of protection for batsmen from the late 1970s has been the biggest change to the game since the introduction of overarm bowling. It has altered profoundly the balance between bat and ball and changed batting techniques, to the point at which modern batsmen (Matthew Hayden and Kevin Pietersen, for example) can walk down the pitch to 90 mph balls and where some (Justin Langer, say) can play on despite numerous blows to the head.

That is before we even start talking about the strokes, such as the overhead “Dilscoop” that are routinely played in limited-overs matches, which would be a non-starter without helmets..."

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Times of India: Parental Guidance Suggested

When my 15-year old son is at home, he is often the first one to pick up the newspaper - The Times of India.

On February 11 2010, Pune edition's headline, on the front page columns 7 & 8, read:

"Babus can no longer ban porn sites" and gave 35 mm x 54 mm colour photo of Savita Bhabhi, a part of the picture is shown here- below left.

On the same day last page, they informed us how Brooklyn Decker, wife of Andy Roddick, "showed off her cover photo from a magazine in New York on Tuesday" by featuring a color photo of 75 mm x 95 mm size. See below right.

Newspapers in India are fighting TV and internet to grab 'urban young' readers. Many of them seem to think 'soft porn' is a way to go.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar be as Lucky as Mark Twain?

Today is Mark Twain's 100th death anniversary.

Twain knew that he was dead because like Alfred Nobel and Ernest Hemingway, he had the chance to read about it in the newspapers!

He of course was not afraid of it: "I do not fear death, in view of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

What kind of childhood he had?

Ferdinand Mount: “Decayed gentility and a feckless father. These make the springiest springboard for the angry artist. Dickens, Picasso, Joyce, Shaw, Francis Bacon all enjoyed these unsung advantages in life. So did Samuel Langhorne Clemens who called himself Mark Twain”

Twain never received the Nobel. So much for the importance of the prize! He probably was the author of the first typewritten manuscript ever submitted to a publisher.

Abut Indians, Mark Twain says: "It is a curious people. With them, all life seems to be sacred except human life."

('Following the Equator; a Journey Around the World', 1897)

Twain saw humanity's future very clearly when he said: "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”

He took very dim view of our civilization: “We are nothing but echoes, we have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own, we are but a compost heap made up of decayed heredities, moral and physical.”

In one of the funniest passages I have read, reminding me where I am heading, Twain describes how fickle human memory could be:

"I used to remember my brother Henry walking into a fire outdoors when he was a week old. It was remarkable in me to remember a thing like that and it was still more remarkable that I should cling to the delusion for thirty years that I did remember it -- for of course it never happened; he would not have been able to walk at that age. . . . For many years I remembered helping my grandfather drinking his whiskey when I was six weeks old but I do not tell about that any more now; I am grown old and my memory is not as active as it used to be. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened."

100 years on , what is happening to Twain's US of A?

Lucy Ellmann says:

“What the hell is going on? The country that produced Melville, Twain and James now venerates King, Crichton, Grisham, Sebold and Palahniuk. Their subjects? Porn, crime, pop culture and an endless parade of out-of-body experiences. Their methods? Cliché, caricature and proto-Christian morality. Props? Corn chips, corpses, crucifixes. The agenda? Deceit: a dishonest throwing of the reader to the wolves. And the result? Readymade Hollywood scripts..."

Jonah Raskin says: "...The anniversary of his death provides an occasion to reappraise his work and rethink his life. Fortunately, critics and biographers have been sifting through Twain's published writings and rummaging through his archives. A half dozen new books delve deeply and from nearly every possible angle into perhaps our most profoundly divided writer..."

Two of the greatest Marathi writers, Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar 1871-1934 (श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर) and C V Joshi (चि वि जोशी ) were deeply influenced by Twain and Kolhatkar surely was as talented as him.

I just finished reading 'eka snehabandhachi gosht' (एका स्नेहबंधाची गोष्ट) edited by Dr. Anjali Soman (संपादक डॉ अंजली सोमण), 2005. The book is based on postal correspondence between Kolhatkar and Anandibai Shirke (आनंदीबाई शिर्के) from Dec 17 1913 to April 21 1934.

By some strange coincidence, like Twain but not on that scale, as per the book, Kolhatkar too had financial problems. He became a farmer to overcome them. From a few of his distressed letters to Ms. Shirke, you begin to understand what it meant to be a small farmer in Vidarbha. (I plan to return to this book a few more times. BTW- The photo of Ms. Shirke in the book alone is worth the price of the book!)

The Times of India reported on Mar 28, 2010:
"Nine more farmers in Vidarbha region of Maharshtra committed suicide in the last 24 hours. This takes the toll of farmers’ suicides to 19 in the last one week and 194 this year, claimed Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti — an NGO keeping track on farmers’ suicides since 1997..."

Looks like, in some important aspects, little seems to have changed since 1934!

Will Kolhatkar's 100th death anniversary celebrate his work as much as Twain's? Even one new critical book on his art, reissue of all of Kolhatkar's books and G D Khanolkar's (गं दे खानोलकर) biography of him will do.

I doubt it.

Artist: Joseph Keppler, Puck magazine, 1885

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Artists should Celebrate Other Artists...

BBC reported on March 4 2010:

"...The survey, commissioned to mark World Book Day, asked which best-selling book of the past decade people would give to young people...

...More than 1,000 people aged 16 to 64 were surveyed across Britain..."

At number nine came, 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins, 2006.

Recently Ian Mcewan's 'Solar' was published.

I mention them because I was impressed the way cartoonists of Spectator celebrated both these books.

I am always touched seeing the way artists are loved by other artists.

In recent years, I have not seen such an example in Marathi cartoons. I will be happy to be proven wrong.

Cat doesn't know (care?) about god but is absorbed in reading 'The Dog Delusion'!

Artist: Geoff Thompson, The Spectator

If Mcewan's book is not sold, it surely can be put to good use!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Love You, Ms. Roy

Sunil Khilnani:

"Our great private institutions - above all, the media - have made themselves unable to engage in fundamental debates (What kind of society do we wish to be Who should we reward, and why) . Private wealth is unwilling to direct its energies and resources to trying to bring about such a desired society (philanthropy is a good deed - but it is not a step towards changing the world: whatever it makes up for in reflecting well on the giver, it loses in its lack of social ambition - however big the gift in monetary terms). And as a citizenry, we are marked by an underwhelming sense of intellectual ambition in trying to understand the generational and planetary consequences of our present ways of life - of the collective, long-term consequences of our individual, short-term choices. So, even as we can celebrate a greater flourishing of the ambitions of individual Indians, we face the collapse of a collective Indian ambition. Our task and our challenge now is to renew and reinvigorate that complex will to power and goodness that brought modern India into being: the ambition to find a political form that combines freedom with a just social order - and that can so realise one of the most remarkable - and ambitious - national moral imaginations of modern times."

Michael Crichton

"A lot of people complain that television lacks focus. But that's the nature of the medium. Television's not about information at all. Information is active, engaging. Television is passive. Information is disinterested, objective. Television is emotional. It's entertainment. Whatever he says, however he acts, in truth Martin has absolutely no interest in you, or your company, or your airplanes. He's paid to exercise his one reliable talent: provoking people, getting them to make an emotional outburst, to lose their temper, to say something outrageous. He doesn't really want to know about airplanes. He wants a media moment. If you understand that, you can deal with him."

On April 18 2010 afternoon, CNN-IBN anchor preposterously asked Arundhati Roy: "Why does India love to hate you?".

Ms. Roy should have said: Next question, please.

In any case, Ms. Anchor did not get media moment from Ms. Roy.

I have still not read any of her books but I loved Ms. Roy when I first saw her "In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones", 1989. And I love her today.

In fact, she now looks even more beautiful than ever.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mr. Aamir Khan, We ALL are a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies

Kundan Shah when asked by Hindustan Times if a script like 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro' would find a financier: "...Maybe if a star backs a project, it may be possible but my experience is that all of them without exception are highly illiterate." (February 7 2010)

Naseeruddin Shah: "I've lost the hope of seeing a truly great film being made in this country, at least in my lifetime." (March 20, 2010)

Susan Sontag: "...To be sure, there was always a conflict between cinema as an industry and cinema as an art, cinema as routine and cinema as experiment. But the conflict was not such as to make impossible the making of wonderful films, sometimes within and sometimes outside of mainstream cinema. Now the balance has tipped decisively in favor of cinema as an industry. The great cinema of the 1960's and 1970's has been thoroughly repudiated..."

They say "3 idiots" is the biggest hit in the history of Hindi films. Maybe it is.

Aamir Khan, a star, aggressively promoted it using 'innovative' methods.

In December 2009, in temple town of Mahabalipuram, a tour guide took Mr. Khan by surprise when he admitted to never even having heard of the actor.

I have always found Mr. Khan, a narcissist, an average actor who happens to be very successful.

He never mentions luck while talking about his success.

It's always his hard work, his body, his scalp, his dedication, his patriotism, his intelligence, his creativity, his wife, his family, his vision...

See the episode at Mahabalipuram here.

I was quite amused by it and thought it was very ironic.

Mahabalipuram, that appears on this blog here, dwarfs every one. Occasionally even the neighbouring Bay of Bengal!

Reviewing "The Earth After Us : What legacy will humans leave in the rocks?" by Jan Zalasiewicz, Robin McKie says:

“… the planet's constantly shifting geology will, inevitably, crush and bury every one of our greatest creations, our skyscrapers, motorways, bridges, churches and temples. Tectonic trashing, then, is to be the fate of most of humanity's handiwork.

Not all will be lost, however. Odd clues will emerge when seismic activity will push up a slice of petrified city. "Here there will be metres-thick layers of rubble, of outlines of tunnels and pipes, of giant middens of rubble and waste." That, then, will be our legacy. It is not much of a memorial. Indeed, by contrast, Ozymandias did well with a couple of headless trunks of stone.”

“…we still dig up plenty of 100-million-year-old dinosaur bones today. However, those ancient animals thrived for tens of millions of years. By contrast, Homo sapiens has lasted around 100,000. By that reckoning, we are a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies.” (The Observer, Sunday 27 September 2009)

Sadly even Mahabalipuram may do only as well as Ozymandias.

('Ozymandias', 1818 is an example of how a great work of art persists.

In last few years, I have seen it being quoted by scientists like Jared Diamond in 'Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed', 2005 and Richard Dawkins in 'The Ancestor's Tale', 2004.)

‘Own up, Narcissus, you’re responsible for this graffiti, aren’t you?’
Artist: Richard Jolley (rgj), Spectator

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Renuka Shahane & Archana Joglekar, Try Mirabai Not Positivity on Your Patients

Renuka Shahane (रेणुका शहाणे) is (was?) hosting a reality TV program in Marathi 'Yala Jeevan Aise Nav' (याला जीवन ऐसे नाव).

I saw its promos.

Ms. Shahane is famous for her smile. She in fact is the pioneer of its Indian-TV version. Remember 'Surabhi', the program she co-hosted on Doordarshan?

Today Ms. Shahane promotes positive thinking. She feels it is panacea. Whatever is your problem, she has the answer: "Be Positive".

The other day I briefly saw Archana Joglekar (अर्चना जोगळेकर) on Marathi TV. She too was talking about the power of positive thinking. She asked viewers to embrace 'positivity'.

I bet if you watch Marathi TV everyday, you will get a large dose of positive thinking, kind of Jamalgota for your mental constipation.

(See an earlier post on the subject here.)

I wish both the fine ladies read either 'Bright-sided /How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America' by Barbara Ehrenreich or Lucy Ellmann's review of it:

"...Positive types aren't just misled, they're mean...

...The pitiless message to the powerless from all these motivational speakers, megachurch preachers, self-help gurus and other assorted selfishness-sellers is that sad sacks get what they deserve.

Promoting the idea that happiness is within your grasp is in the interests of corporations trying to bamboozle an overworked and underpaid workforce...

...Informing the uneducated and unmedicated that their plight is all their own fault is followed up by instructions for making anything you desire – from a new TV screen to a trip to Mexico – "materialise" through mind control. The censorship of negative opinion combines perfectly with the American policy of each man for himself in the best of all possible worlds.

This is the philosophy that gave us the smart bomb, the space programme, sub-prime mortgages, plenty of psychopaths and Sarah Palin. Every dumb American idea we've all had to stomach and die for can be attributed to this devotion to fantasy and self-satisfaction...

...Americans aren't happy, they're just trained to look as if they are. It's fake orgasm on a grand scale, and we're almost deafened by the din..." (The Guardian, Saturday 9 January 2010)

During the interview in February 2010, Ms. Joglekar talked about how her mother- Asha Joglekar, a classical dancer herself,- once completely ignored whatever Archana and her students were doing in class and instead immersed herself in a book on/by Mirabai.

Wise choice. I am sure junior Ms. Joglekar didn't mind the snub because of her 'positivity'.

But the message I got from senior Ms. Joglekar: Mirabai helps even in dance.

Artist: Colin Wheeler, Spectator

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Damayanti, Of Ravi Varma and Paul Delvaux

Raja Ravi Varma's Damayanti (featuring below left) always brings memories of Datta Mandir of Miraj. The temple displayed many images of his paintings based on the themes from Indian mythology.

"Damayanti was a princess of Vidarbha Kingdom. She was of such beauty and grace that even gods could not stop from admiring her. She fell in love with Nala simply from hearing about his virtues and accomplishments from a golden swan..." (Wikipedia)

To be honest, Varma's this painting doesn't do justice to the beauty of Damayanti. (In fact, I was never infatuated by his portraits of women. Diminutive, they all look slightly old in their nine-yard, pallu-covering-their-entire-bosom sarees.)

This is what swan said to Damayanti:"...Among men there no one like him. O Fair-faced One, if yon were only his wife! We have seen gods, Gandharvas,! snakes, und demons, but never a creature which was Nala's equal. You are the jewel of women; Nala is the most excellent of men. If you were to marry each other, your union would be the most distinguished in all the earth."

I came to know of Paul Delvaux while reading about J G Ballard. I find Delvaux's images of nude women most haunting, disturbing but attractive at the same time.

"...The young Delvaux took music lessons, studied Greek and Latin, and absorbed the fiction of Jules Verne and the poetry of Homer. All of his work was to be influenced by these readings, starting with his earliest drawings showing mythological scenes..." (Wikipedia)

Look at the picture below on the right. It's called "Leda" (1948). She's not Damayanti.

Or is she?

Where is Delvaux's Damayanti looking? What did the swan tell her?

World is a small place.

<-Artist: Ravi Varma
->Artist: Paul Delvaux

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Because We all are similar in our Vulgar and Prurient and Dumb Interests

David Foster Wallace (1962–2008):

"TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests."

I hope the late Mr. Wallace is correct in that middle-class Indians like me still have "refined and aesthetic and noble interests".

Artist: Sudhir Tailang, The Asian Age, April 6 2010

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Bloody Trail: Building Railway through the Western Ghats

Andrew Odlyzko:

"The British Railway Mania of the 1840s was by many measures the greatest technology mania in history, and its collapse was one of the greatest financial crashes..."

I really like following Marathi song describing a train journey through Khandala ghat between Mumbai and Pune:

Hirvya hirvya rangachi jhadi ghanadaat, sango chedva dista kaso khandalyacho ghat...

हिरव्या हिरव्या रंगाची, झाडि घनदाट
सांग्‌ गो चेड्‌वा दिस्तां कसो, खंडळ्याचो घाट

हिरव्याहिरव्या झाडीत हिरवीहिरवी पानां,
हिरव्याहिरव्या पानांत वारो गाता गानां
पुना-बाँबे हीच गो तुझ्या, सासरची वाट

खंडाळ्याच्या घाटात हवा थंडगार,
थंडिमधे लालि चढे गालि गुलजार
तोऱ्यामध्ये होऊ नको, उगी अशी ताठ

बोगद्यात गाडी जाता होई अंधार,
अंधारात प्रीत घेता प्रीतिचो आधार
इंजिनाच्या मागे जाती, डबे मागोमाग

[गीत - रमेश अणावकर, संगीत - सूरज, स्वर - शारदा, जयवंत कुलकर्णी व इतर चित्रपट - ती मी नव्हेच , १९७०]

Train has featured on these pages many times before. And why not? They were some of the brightest spots in my childhood.

Although I saw Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali” (1955) much later, we lived the famous scene of the film- children coming face to face with the train- many times.

Our favourite place to while away time was Miraj junction’s shunting yard. I still smell the rich cocktail of steam and coal fire.

I never knew that Miraj station once used to have a liquor bar. I learnt about its existence from Vishram Bedekar's (विश्राम बेडेकर) autobiography "Ek Jhad Ani Don Pakshi", 1987 (एक झाड आणि दोन पक्षी). These Englishmen sure knew how to live in style!

And even today I think like Paul Theroux: "Ever since childhood, when I lived within earshot of the Boston and Maine, I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it." (The Great Railway Bazaar, 1975)

I have still not pardoned George Fernandes for organising 1974 railway strike in India that lasted for twenty days (May 8- May 27).

In that summer, courtesy our neighbour Sharakka Joshi's daughter Shobha Kulkarni, we had planned to travel to many parts of North Karnataka serviced by South Central Railway.

Instead we got stuck in Almatti, a dam town, where Shobha's husband Suresh of Indian Railways was posted. (We still managed to visit beautiful pink Badami Cave Temples though.)

There hasn't been a railway strike of that kind in India since!

The Times of India reported on January 17 2010: "The razor-sharp mind feared by successive governments since the 60's lies in disarray, hobbled by a debilitating illness. An unconventional defence minister during a career largely spent on Opposition benches, George Fernandes presents a frail and defenceless picture, perhaps quite unaware of the family battle raging around him..."

Maybe I should condone Mr. Fernandes now.

Matthew Engel has reviewed "Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World" by Christian Wolmar for Guardian November 29 2009.

He says:

"...It is easy to forget just what the train did to and for the planet. No invention – forget the internet, not even a contender – has ever transformed the way the world travelled, worked, thought, fought, ate, drank, made love – you name it – the way this one did...

...The narrative takes on its most epic quality in the United States; its most stupid in Australia (where the different states set about building a charming variety of gauges without a thought about what would happen when you tried to link them up); and its most brutal in India, where maybe 25,000 workers died building the line through the Western Ghats alone..."

Lest we forget. Disaster struck not just British investors.

courtesy : Bettmann/CORBIS, WSJ Feb 27 2010

An illustration of the race on Aug. 25, 1830, between a horse-drawn mill car and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's Tom Thumb steam engine—the first used on a commercial track in America. Horse power won when the engine broke down.

Remember 'Naya Daur' (1957)?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Where Cricket Bowlers Gallop through their own Intestines

The Free Dictionary: "match: One that is able to compete equally with another"

The Times of India, March 29 2010:

"...India's Sports Minister M S Gill said the rules of cricket had been changed by the IPL, and acquiesced by the BCCI, by way of giving batsman advantage over bowlers to promote entertainment, allowing mongoose bat and shortening boundaries, all to earn profit."What the IPL is doing, the bowler is only the victim and the bat -- now you have a mongoose bat (and) I look forward to a cobra bat. The boundaries have been shortened ... the whole thing is to entertain the masses. And the bowler is just an instrument for this promotion. IPL is fundamentally business..."

This reminded me of Ernest Hemingway's book “Death in the Afternoon”, 1932 which was about the ceremony and traditions of Spanish bullfighting.

Cricket bowlers today in limited-overs cricket are like horses from the book.

They were not expected to leave the bull-ring alive. The bull’s horns usually gored the horses’ sides and stomachs and they were often tossed in the air or flipped over. Hemingway describes as ‘comic’ the occasions where horses galloped through their own intestines. (They say this practice in bullfight has changed since then.)

So Mr. Gill this is comic and not trajic and, in any case, can you really argue with popular tastes of the day?

Following happened in US of A less than 111 years ago:

"...On Sunday afternoon, 23 April 1899, more than two thousand white Georgians, some of then arriving on a special excursion train, assembled near the town of Newman to witness the execution of Sam Hose, a black Georgian. Whole families turned up to watch. Parents sent notes to school asking teachers to excuse their children. Postcards were sent to those who could not attend the spectacle, and photographs were taken to preserve it in memory.

After learning of the death of her husband at one such occasion, Mary Turner – a black woman in her eighth month of pregnancy – swore to find those responsible and have them punished. A mob assembled and determined to teach her a lesson. After tying her ankles together they hung her from a tree upside down. While she was still alive her abdomen was cut open with a knife. The infant fell from her womb and its head was crushed by a member of the crowd. Then, as hundreds of bullets were fired into her body, Mary Turner was killed.

Were the smiling children who were photographed watching such events gnawed by remorse for the rest of their days? Or did they recall them with nostalgia and quiet satisfaction?..." (John Gray, 'Straw Dogs', 2002)

Artist: Reginald Marsh, The New Yorker, 8 Sept 1934