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."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Thoughts on Turning 50

Joseph Conrad: "...In this world — as I have known it — we are made to suffer without the shadow of a reason, of a cause or of guilt.... There is no morality, no knowledge and no hope; there is only the consciousness of ourselves which drives us about a world that... is always but a vain and floating appearance....
A moment, a twinkling of an eye and nothing remains — but a clot of mud, of cold mud, of dead mud cast into black space, rolling around an extinguished sun. Nothing. Neither thought, nor sound, nor soul. Nothing.

. . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream—alone. . . .”

Recently I turned 50.

And so once one clown.

His life was aptly described by a poet.

B S Mardhekar (बा. सी. मर्ढेकर):

पंक्चरली जरि रात्र दिव्यांनीं,
तरी पंपतो कुणी काळोख;
हसण्याचें जरि वेड लागलें,
भुंकतात तरि अश्रू चोख.

("Punctured though night is by lightbulbs,
Someone keeps pumping darkness;
Though laughter crazed,
tears bark alright.")

He then fell ill.

He knew the saying: laughter is the best medicine.

But one day that medicine stopped working.

Artist: Charles Barsotti, The New Yorker http://www.barsotti.com/

Some more days passed and then one day...

Artist: Oliver Gaspirtz http://www.gaspirtz.com/

He was often heard quoting a borrowed line: life is habit – that it is all just a series of motions devoid of meaning.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Man Who Tried - G P Pradhan

I hardly knew the late Mr. Pradhan although I first heard his name during the Emergency. I once saw him at the book release function described here.

I have a couple of his books but nothing noteworthy about them.

However, I have always been impressed by his dedication to the causes he believed in. And his philanthropy- he gave away his only house.

He was one of the last of a generation that produced many men and women like him. For them selfishness and greed were sins.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Did Shri GuruCharitra give them Alternate Miracle, Mystery and Authority?

"Shri GuruCharitra" c 1500 CE by Saraswati Gangadhar (श्रीगुरुचरित्र, सरस्वती गंगाधर) is one of the most popular books in Marathi. It's a biography of Narasimha Saraswati c 1378−1458 CE (नरसिंह सरस्वती).

I have never read it because I was told that it contained a lot of 'reactionary nonsense'.

Currently, I am planning to read it in not-so-distant future.

What is the importance of the book, if any, and why did it do so well?

Setu Madhavrao Pagdi (सेतु माधवराव पगडी) has written on it for his book "Bhartiya Musalman: Shodh ani Bodh" (भारतीय मुसलमानः शोध आणि बोध).

Pagdi argues the book helped preserve and revive the Hindu religion and the culture.

According to Pagdi, the most important message of the book was:

when you decide to serve your Guru, you needn't serve any one else, you needn't even be loyal to your ruler, who were happened to be mostly Muslims.

This caught my attention.

Why do most of the people need an authority to be loyal to? Why do they need miracle and mystery to put their faith into?

John Gray explains:

"...The Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus that humanity is too weak to bear the gift of freedom. It does not seek freedom but bread – not the divine bread promised by Jesus, but ordinary earthly bread. People will worship whomever gives them bread, for they need their rulers to be gods. The Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus that his teaching has been amended to deal with humanity as it really is: ‘We have corrected Thy work and have founded it on miracle, mystery and authority. And men rejoiced that they were again led like sheep, and that the terrible gift that brought them such suffering was, at last, lifted from their hearts.’

...D H Lawrence: Surely it is true. Today, man gets his sense of the miraculous from science and machinery, radio, airplanes, vast ships, zeppelins, poison gas, artificial silk: these things nourish man’s sense of the miraculous as magic did in the past.... Dostoevsky’s diagnosis of human nature is simple and unanswerable. We have to submit, and agree that men are like that.

Lawrence was right. Today, for the mass of humanity, science and technology embody ‘miracle, mystery and authority’. Science promises that the most ancient human fantasies will at last be realised. Sickness and ageing will be abolished; scarcity and poverty will be no more; the species will become immortal. Like Christianity in the past, the modern cult of science lives on the hope of miracles. But to think that science can transform the human lot is to believe in magic. Time retorts to the illusions of humanism with the reality: frail, deranged, undelivered humanity. Even as it enables poverty to be diminished and sickness to be alleviated, science will be used to refine tyranny and perfect the art of war.

The truth that Dostoevsky puts in the mouth of the Grand Inquisitor it that humankind has never sought freedom, and never will. The secular religions of modern times tell us that humans yearn to be free; and it is true that they find restraint of any kind irksome. Yet it is rare mat individuals value their freedom more than the comfort that comes with servility, and rarer still for whole peoples to do so. As Joseph dc Maistre commented on Rousseau’s dictum that men are born free but are everywhere in chains: to think that, because a few people sometimes seek freedom, all human beings want it is like thinking that, because there are flying fish, it is in the nature of fish to fly..." (Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, 2003)

Shri GuruCharitra perhaps gave our ancestors alternate 'miracle, mystery and authority' to that given by their Muslim rulers.

Was it for the better or the worse?

I don't know.

Today science and technology have given us alternate 'miracle, mystery and authority'.

Is it for the better or the worse?

Don't know again.

Artist: Dana Fradon, The New Yorker, 19 July 1993

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Never Throw a Stone at Chameleon because She could be Lonely

One barbaric practice I often witnessed in my childhood at Miraj was: Boys throwing stones at chameleons and dogs.

Unlucky dogs were often injured but chameleons were usually killed in those murderous chases.

I seldom use the word 'proud' in my connection but I am very proud that I never threw stones at chameleons and dogs.

If one wants one more reason for not committing this barbarity, it is provided by Emily Gravett who has written a picture book: "Blue Chameleon".

I was captivated by following illustration. Can I ever throw a stone at that beauty?

(India's very own) Mansur's watercolor painting of a chameleon, from around 1595.

Credit: Royal Collection, Royal Library, Windsor Castle

courtesy: Roberta Smith and The New York Times September 29, 2011

Saturday, May 22, 2010

No Guts to Join a Circus? At least Fly a Kite

Once I was of an age when I liked whatever V P Kale (व पु काळे) wrote. Once I also attended his short-stories telling session at Miraj Medical College.

Although now I haven't read him for almost two decades, I still remember a few of his short stories.

The best one was about an office-goer who chooses to fly a kite on the terrace of his office in his spare time instead of indulging in office politics and backbiting.

It's a moving story and I remembered it when I attended Steven Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' workshop.

I wish more people flew kites in their spare time instead of watching TV.


"...The kite makers dance through the camps with rubbery exuberance, trailed by younger children, all lost in the moment, the most important in the world. Kites battle kites, their makers yanking their lines to cut each other’s, as the kites whirl and spin. When one kite wins, the jubilation is explosive. It’s one of the few signs of joy you see in Haiti, entirely handmade..."

(The New York Times, March 7, 2010)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why I like 'The Untouchables'

I really like Brian De Palma's 'The Untouchables', 1987.

I like it for its excellent cinematic values but more importantly because it shows, in the end, it's income tax evasion, and not guns or trial-by-media, that pins down Al Capone.

How does this work in independent India?


"...According to the Direct Taxes Enquiry Committee of 1958-59, not a single Indian was convicted of tax evasion in the decade after Independence. The situation has not improved since. ”

(The Times of India, AUGUST 20, 2003)

I have often felt that America is much fairer place than India for punishing the guilty of economic crimes.

Anand Teltumbde

"...It is unbelievable that our institutions like the income tax department or the banking system are not able to trace the source of these high value currency notes or for that matter, this “gift business”. Can corruption be pervasive without institutions winking at it? When more than half of the gross domestic product is stolen every year in the broad gaze of these institutions, one has to see corruption itself as completely institutionalised..." (EPW, April 10 2010)

'more than half of the gross domestic product is stolen every year'? Whatever IPL inquiry eventually(?) throws up will be a side-show!

FBI Accountant Oscar Wallace played by Charles Martin Smith

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Europe and euro are immortal. Really?

As Euro's worth against INR falls, some of Europe based NRI's seem to be getting confused. Here is an example.

Mohan Murti
who has lived in Europe for over two decades:

"...Europe and euro are immortal..." (Business Line, May 17 2010)

This claim is absolutely ludicrous. What is he trying to do? Blame all the woes of Europe on currency speculators?

First, when mighty dinosaurs and Ozymandiases have vanished, I would be rather be skeptical about this immortality claim.

And secondly, when the claim is about a civilization that was responsible for the death of 50 million humans just 65 years ago, I would be doubly so. (Andrew Roberts: “WWII lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion and claimed the lives of over 50 million people.”)

Niall Ferguson
says in Newsweek May 17 2010: "...Europe now faces a much bigger decision than whether to bail out Greece. The real choice is between becoming a fully fledged United States of Europe, or remaining little more than a modern-day Holy Roman Empire, a gimcrack hodgepodge of "variable geometry" that will sooner or later fall apart."

On Europe’s destiny, I only trust Arthur Schopenhauer:

“We like to believe that all history is a halting and imperfect preparation for the magnificent era of which we are the salt and summit; but this notion of progress is mere conceit and folly. 'In general, the wise in all ages have always said the same things, and the fools, who at all times form the immense majority, have in their way too acted alike, and done the opposite; and so it will continue. For, as Voltaire says, we shall leave the world as foolish and wicked as we found it.”

(Will Durant, 'The Story of Philosophy')

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Opium Dens of Tatas only!

Opium dens have been here earlier.

I did not know what Mr. Vithal Rajan of Hyderabad has to say:

"A Case for Opium Dens:

Indian industry got its first tranche of capital accumulation in the 19th century when the Tatas joined hands with the Sassoons and the British to force opium onto the Chinese. The addicts in China in that period took to opium to drown their unpleasant reality in momentary dreams, while knowing in moments of cold assessment that pipe dreams could never be realised in real life. It was only when Mao Zedong came to power in 1949 that the Chinese government banned opium dens, and people accepted their closure in the expectation that they might have a chance of achieving some of their hopes..."

(EPW, May 1-7 2010)

I didn't know Tatas' and Sassoons' 'opium' past!

Now that I know it and also that Tata brand now stands for purity as in "Tata Swach", I wish to reword the caption of the cartoon below.

"Could you point out any opium dens- preferably run by Tatas as I am very fussy about the quality of my opium?"

Artist: Leonard Dove, The New Yorker, 26 Feb 1949

Friday, May 14, 2010

In Chess-IPL, No Chinese Competitor for Viswanathan Anand please!

If you go by the results produced at the highest level, Dhyan Chand and Viswanathan Anand are the two greatest sportsmen India produced. (Read previous posts on the subject here and here.)

No one else comes even close to them.

Playing out Anand's last game on my PC was such a thrill. Although even a chess-toddler like me could make out that it certainly was not one of the best chess games ever played.

K Viswanathan, Anand's father says:"...I doubt if whether there is another sportsperson in India who has achieved so much and made the nation so proud. But it's a pity to see cricket eating up all other sports...." (The Times of India, May 13, 2010)

Sir, if only, we could organise Chess-IPL to "promote" chess.

"...Worse than that, the IPL’s behaviour implies that if discrimination is profitable, discrimination is legitimate. If bigotry pays, then bigotry prevails. The whole affair undermined the IPL’s globalising claims and compromised India’s status as the epicentre and champion of the modern game. You might be able to watch IPL matches in real time in Japan but you could not watch Shahid Afridi or Umar Gul. The BCCI was able to distance itself from this embarrassment by pointing to the autonomous powers of the franchise owners.

cricket historian Gideon Haigh, a persistent and acute critic of the IPL, observed that part of its appeal was that it was a tournament which the home nation was guaranteed to win. Whatever the final score, India triumphed. Apparently, the IPL franchise owners concluded that the presence of Pakistani players would pollute that triumph..."

(MIKE MARQUSEE, Frontline, May 08 - 21, 2010)

Therefore, in Chess-IPL, we have to make sure Anand doesn't lose to a Pakistani or Chinese.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Little They Know India...And perhaps care

As Brits elected hung parliament and the prospect of coalition government loomed, I thought there would be many references from the British punditry to India's experience in this field.

For instance, the new British PM and Deputy PM were asked on May 12 2010, in a press conference, whether they would both field candidates in a future by-election.

Now this happens in Indian democrarcy almost every day and yet one BBC commentator was amused by the prospect of coalition partners fighting it out in an election.

All 'experts' kept referring to either Europe or USA.

And our TV channels want us to know that the Indian PM called the new British PM to congratulate him.

They say Britain is USA's poodle. Is India a poodle of both Britain and USA?

Have Marathas been Generous Enough towards their Bhimthadi Ponies?

Sir F. W. Fitzwygram:

"It is impossible for a man of average sensibility to observe closely and to note the painful expression and the intelligence of these creatures … to witness their sufferings [and] the brutal treatment which they too often meet from ignorant and cruel men; it is impossible for him to see these things without sorrow, without endeavouring to alleviate their agony …"

('Horses and Stables', 1901)

Many Marathi speaking people feel proud about the military success of Marathas across the subcontinent in 18th century.

Many legends, heroes and myths are borne out of that pride.

A good part of that success was surely due to their mount- a pony aka Bhimthadi-Tatta(भीमथडी तट्टं).

"Maharashtra has Krishna, Nira, Ghodnadi, Bhima, Pravara, Godavari as main rivers. Out of these, more than Krishna, since the water from Bhima, Pravara, Nira, Ghodnadi, Godavari suited the horses better, horses brought up on their water were strong, smart, loyal..."

['Peshwekalin Maharashtra' (पेशवेकालीन महाराष्ट्र) by Vasudev Krushna Bhave (वासुदेव कृष्ण भावे), 1936]

("महाराष्ट्रात कृष्णा, निरा, घोडनदी, भिमा, प्रवरा, गोदावरी या प्रमुख नद्या होत. यांपैकी कृष्णानदीपेक्षांही भिमा, प्रवरा, निरा, घोडनदी, गोदावरी या नद्यांचे पाणी घोड्यांना चांगले मानवणारे असल्यामुळे त्या पाण्यावर पोसलेली घोडी बळकट, चलाख, इमानी व पाणीदार असत.")

I have read a few books describing that period but have never come across the praise for their horses as much as following.

Reviewing "Russia Against Napoleon" by Dominic Lieven that analyses one of the greatest military triumph in history, JENNIFER SIEGEL says:

"...Russia's triumph is also a story of logistics, supplies and, above all, the horse.

The country's leaders mobilized what Mr. Lieven calls "the sinews of Russian power": its vast population (although much smaller than the combined numbers at Napoleon's disposal); its outstanding and plentiful horse stock; its arms manufacturing; and even the sometimes unstable Russian economy.

Of these, it is the horse, and Russia's ability to mobilize its light cavalry to harass Napoleon's rearguard as it retreated across the great European plain, that receives the greatest attention in "Russia Against Napoleon." Coming in a close second to the horse in significance were the victuallers who managed to feed and supply more than a half-million troops during the two-year campaign..." (WSJ, APRIL 14, 2010)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mr. Goenka, May I suggest Animal Spirits?

George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller:

"TO UNDERSTAND HOW economies work and how we can manage them and prosper, we must pay attention to the thought patterns that animate people’s ideas and feelings, their animal spirits. We will never really understand important economic events unless we confront the fact that their causes are largely mental in nature. \

It is unfortunate that most economists and business writers apparently do not seem to appreciate this and thus often fall back on the most tortured and artificial interpretations of economic events. They assume that variations in individual feelings, impressions, and passions do not matter in the aggregate and that economic events are driven by inscrutable technical factors or erratic government action. In fact, as we shall discover in this book, the origins of these events are quite familiar and are found in our own everyday thinking..." ('Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism')

Harsh Goenka, the chairman, RPG Group, writes in The Times of India April 29 2010:

"IPL Franchise: High on hype, low on returns...As the dotcom bust has shown us in the past, a manic obsession with valuation is dangerous. IPL is an innovation that deserves every bit of the applause it’s getting from the people of India. It is indeed a product of New India. But greed, and short-term profit motives are hazardous in any business. And cricket is no exception."

"...When the likes of Mukesh Ambani and Vijay Mallya forked out in excess of $111 million (Rs 500 crore) for the Mumbai and Bangalore teams, respectively, what were they getting in return? At the time, IPL was an untested model. Franchisees were essentially buying the branding and participation licences for teams based in their city, with a promise of profitability sometime in the future...But whichever way you look at it, apart from UB group no other corporate owner is extracting significant branding. Reliance is not the face of Mumbai Indians..."

Like a business school case study, Mr. Goenka gives us tables and worksheets to work with. Even a dreaded DCF makes an appearance.

I wonder if TOI's website carries Mr. Goenka's worksheet for us to download!

But has Mr. Goenka slotted in his worksheet the joy of Ms.Ambani captured in the picture below?

Nita Ambani celebrates as she is lifted by Harbhajan Singh of the Mumbai Indians after defeating the Challengers during the 2010 DLF Indian Premier League T20 semi final match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore played at DY Patil Stadium on April 21, 2010 in Navi Mumbai, India.

courtesy: Getty Images

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kumar Ketkar has seen the Future and there is no LokSatta in it!

Joker: I¡­ I've seen the future and it will be
I've seen the future and it works
And if there's life after, we will see
So U can't go like a jerk - no, no (by Prince, Batman)

Business Standard: "Indian language print is the new growth story in the $17-billion Indian media and entertainment industry." (May 11 2010)

From his interview done by Frontline May 21 2010 here, I agree with Kumar Ketkar (कुमार केतकर) on more issues than I disagree with.

But as his wont, he occasionally becomes sloppy and verbose.

Ketkar claims: "...The de-communitisation of Marathi-speaking population gives them a complete feeling of disconnect..."

This may be true of people like him and me but not necessarily of many thousands of others.

He continues: "...So what remains as their identity? ‘I speak Marathi. I’m proud of being a Marathi [-speaking person]. What is my connectivity with Mumbai or Maharashtra? It’s my language. I may be disconnected socially but I’m connected by language.’..."

Now this is not true of people like me, including even those living in Mumbai, because a large part of our identity is not based on our native tongue.

Ketkar says: "...I remember when I used to go to college in the local trains, they were crowded but there was some kind of bonding between the people inside the compartment and outside, on the platforms. Now there is no bonding, everybody is there by himself...What I am saying is that Marathi community life has been disrupted. Mumbai began to be populated by new groups of people… people who are yet to form communities… people who are still individuals..."

What has this to do with Mumbai or Maharashtra or Marathi community alone? Isn't this universal?

Reviewing David Kynaston's four-volume City of London
, John Lanchester says:

"...…The modern City is a less interesting place, from the human point of view: in the fourth volume of Kyanston's work, the systems are more important than the people. "The modern City is in many ways a cruel, heartless place," Kynaston observes, "and its occupants work such cripplingly long hours that inevitably they lack much of the roundedness of earlier generations." It's a sad observation, but it feels true, and in a sense adds even more importance to Kynaston's work of telling the stories of these buried lives. "This continuing history of the City is, among other things, a memorial to all those who spent too much of their lives sitting at desks, trading on market floors, keeping the wheels of finance and commerce turning. Who are we to disparage their illusions of gold?"..."

Or as Jeremy Paxman says:

"If someone asked you to identify the great human characteristic of our age, what would you say? Gender equality? Wealth? Social mobility? Sexual freedom? It seems to me the answer could just as easily be solitariness. This, surely, is one of the oddities of the present: at a time when there have never been more of us crowded onto a small island, it has never been easier to be isolated." (The Observer, Sunday 9 May 2010)

Ketkar speculates: "...Twenty years from now there will be no Lok Satta – it will not be economically viable. In fact there will be no Marathi paper. There may be pamphlets or something. People will speak Marathi but the newspaper will not be viable..."

This is absolute nonsense.

I don't like almost all of Marathi newspapers but- for good or for bad- many of them will be around in year 2030. What they will publish is a matter of conjecture.

My guess: Pictures of half-naked women, coverage of IPL (or whatever it's called then) and Sachin Tendulkar, Belgaum, scaremongering on account of flu's/plagues/Islamic terrorism/ Monsoon failure, travelogues of visits to sons and daughters based in USA, promotion of favourite politicos/builders/businessmen/Gurus/castes etc will still remain strong contenders.

When Frontline observed: "You sound very pessimistic", Ketkar replied: "I am not pessimistic. I am realistic. And realism is bad."

Now Ketkar's views are clearly pessimistic, especially as they are expressed when Maharashtra completes 50 years as a state.

Sample a few more of them:

"Girgaon has been uprooted.",

"What Maharashtra has done in the past 50 years is total ruin of Mumbai.",

"The virtue, dynamism and vibrancy of life have declined every day. And in my lifetime it will not improve.",

"Poor? There’s no governance.",

"You cannot. There is no chance of resolution. Because the entire Marathi middle class, which is the leader of the culture… not the poor people unfortunately, has given up the language."

"For the last 35 years we have been asking whether the city is dying, but Mumbai is dead. Mumbai doesn’t exist. No body accepts this."

Therefore, I wonder why he goes on defensive with his final answer.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Some Triphala Churna or Pancharishta for Elvis Presley Please

I am eternally grateful to Mr. Presley because he inspired one of the greatest entertainers of India: Shammi Kapoor (शम्मी कपूर).

Therefore, I felt sad reading in The Asian Age May 8 2010: "Chronic constipation killed Elvis."

What a waste?

Being a beneficiary of Triphala Churna, and in recent years, of Pancharishta, I would say the remedy was simple and effective.

Friday, May 07, 2010

How My Son and I Predicted Greek Crisis!

In 2009, my son and I were watching Travel and Living channel.

It was a Samantha Brown hosted program where she had taken us to a Greek coastal town.

It all looked great until she mentioned hotel tariffs in Euros €.

It was an ugly figure when converted into INR.

My son and I immediately looked at each other and started laughing. The reason being who would go to that 'stupid' place when one could go to Goa or any number of Indian beaches, in winter, for fraction of that cost.

The joke sadly has turned out to be on Greece.

When Greek beaches become affordable to touring Indians, I will conclude that they are out of the financial mess.

p.s. On May 7 1945, exactly 65 years ago, Germany signed the first instrument of surrender in WWII.

Today it is back at the helm of Europe. The whole of Europe, indeed the world, is looking towards it to rescue Greece.

History is cyclical!

Did I Ask for My Soul Back?

Phil Hogan: Everything about modern life conditions you for a life of unhappiness, broken dreams and thwarted ambition.

I celebrated 10th anniversary of my leaving a big MNC on April 30 2010.

In last ten years- although occasionally I did miss companionship of a few ex-colleagues- I have seldom regretted my decision.

I just had to move on.

When I left, I collected PF, superannuation, gratuity etc.

But did I collect probably the most important thing?

The New Yorker, April 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Damn Hampi, You are in Karnataka!

A.G. NOORANI:"...Television has simply run amok. It is unaccountable because there is no audit of the media in the media itself..."

Last few days Marathi TV channels were busy bashing Karnataka over Belgaum. It's their way of celebrating 50th anniversary of birth of modern state of Maharashtra.

Today May 4th is 674th anniversary of the foundation of Vijayanagara, one of the greatest empires of India and the world.

One of the most memorable days of my life is the one I spent at Hampi-Vijayanagara in December 1992.

It seems I never left the place.

When I saw the picture of elephant stables, included below, from Frontline April 9 2010 essay 'History in stone', I once again, just like the day when I was there, was transported 500 years back.

I thought the visit was like reading Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'Ozymandias' where one

"...meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place." (Fortunately for us not exactly 'unrecorded race'.)

Year 2010 is 500th anniversary year of the coronation of Krishnadevaraya, one of the greatest rulers India produced.

I don't claim that I read a lot of Marathi publications or follow Marathi news television. But I dare say that this great event is barely being celebrated in Maharashtra.

It was not always like this.

Year 1936 was celebrated in Maharashtra as 600th anniversary year of foundation of Vijayanagara empire.

T S Shejwalkar
(त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर) wrote two memorable essays on the occasion: 'Debt of Vijayanagara' (विजयनगरचे ऋण) and 'Impact of Viajayanagara Empire on the empire of Marathas' (विजयनगर साम्राज्याचे मराठेशाहीवरील परिणाम).

Shejwalkar wrote:

"...The idea of Maharashtra state came to Shivaji under the shadow of Vijayanagara empire; it was developed further while he conquered parts of that erstwhile empire; it germinated because of its support; prospered; survived many crises, kept going and in the end when that support vanished, it fell apart."

("महाराष्ट्र-राज्याची कल्पना विजयनगरच्या छायेंत शिवाजीच्या मनांत स्फुरली; त्याचं राज्याचा मुलूख जिंकतां जिंकतां वृद्धिंगत पावली; त्याच राज्याच्या आश्रयामुळे मराठेशाही रूजली, वाढली, गंडांतरांतून टिकली, चालू राहिली आणि अखेरीस तो आश्रय सुटला तेंव्हा कोसळून कोलमडून पडली")

Are we ungrateful bastards?

If you pay attention, you will hear elephants trumpet

Saturday, May 01, 2010

In the Battle of Romance, Marathi Lost it to Hindi

Suhas Palshikar: "...MNS or no MNS, preferential treatment to locals is always an easy and attractive policy proposal. What is wrong with it? It is wrong simply because it creates an untenable category of “local”. In administrative parlance it becomes “domicile” – meaning resident for 15 years. This strategy practically abandons diversity. Apart from raising issues of definition of the local, such a policy encourages inbreeding and denies its beneficiaries he advantage of greater exposure and competition. It produces ghettoisation at schools, colleges and at workplaces – resulting in non-diverse social universes –hostels, localities and cities...." (Economic & Political Weekly, Feb 13, 2010)

Does this ghettoisation also affect the culture? I argue it does.

"The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can't Do without it" by Philip Ball has been reviewed by a number of publications in recent days.

Guy Dammann says: "...We do not love music because it exercises our brains or makes us more attractive to members of the opposite sex, but because we have lived with it since we came into being: it is entwined in our common and individual consciousness to the extent that, simply put, we would not be ourselves without it. In contemplating the mysteries of music we are also thereby contemplating the mystery of ourselves..." (The Observer, 21 February 2010)

A majority of good music for most Marathi speakers has been Hindi film music. Hindi may or may not be India's 'national language' but for me it surely is a language of soulful music. In happiness and in sadness.

I have rarely NOT cried at the end of watching 'Na To Karvan Ki Talaash Hai'- a great paean of love- from 'Barsaat Ki Raat'(1960).

In one of his numerous letters, G A Kulkarni (जी. ए. कुलकर्णी) dismisses lyricist Shailendra in comparison with G D Madgulkar (ग. दि. माडगूळकर).

G A got this horribly wrong. Madgulkar was a very good lyricist. But Shailendra, if any, was slightly better.

(GA was wrong on many other counts such as Marathi poet-saints, Mahatma Gandhi, popular Hindi cinema...

He keeps mentioning Ingrid Bergman...Who doesn't like Ms. Bergman? But how did he miss my goddesses with forever looks: Nutan, Madhubala, Geeta Bali? Were they any less?)

N S Phadke (ना सी फडके) rued in his essay "Poverty of Romance in New-Theatre" (नवनाट्यांतलं शृंगाराच दारिद्र्य) ['laharee', (लहरी) 1966] how Marathi theatre did not come out with a single new great romantic play since 1920.

I don't recall a single great romantic movie in Marathi.

Let us face it: In the battle of romance, since 1950's, Marathi theatre and cinema lost it to Hindi cinema.

[Marathi poetry has fared much better. Although, it must be said, it never reached the heights reached by its saint-poets earlier as in 'पीक पिकलें प्रेमाचें । सांठवितां गगन टांचें...' (Eknath एकनाथ) or 'mujhse pahli-si muhabbat mere mehboob na mang...' (Faiz Ahmed Faiz)]

Geeta Bali / Ingrid Bergman->

I don't think there is as much great music associated with Ms. Bergman as Ms. Bali!