G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

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

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ravi Baswani, an eternal Sancho Panza

One of the joys of reading Marathi written in 20th century is G A Kulkarni's (जी. ए. कुलकर्णी) 'Yatrik' (यात्रिक) from the collection of his short stories 'Pinglavel' (पिंगळावेळ) 1977, an allegory of Cervantes's 'Don Quixote' and D V Deshpande's (धों वि देशपांडे ) commentary on it from 'jeeenchya katha: ek anwayarth'(जीएंच्या कथा: एक अन्वयार्थ).

Who moves me most, from the story, is not Don but Sancho.

('Pinglavel' appears on this blog quite a few times.)

Kundan Shah said after hearing Mr. Baswani's death:"...He helped Naseeruddin Shah flesh out his character and that was the reason behind the on-screen chemistry..."

That has always been the role of Sancho. He helps Don Quixote flesh out his character and that is the reason behind their eternal chemistry.

In Marathi literature the most famous example of Don and Sancho is the pair of Chimanrao (चिमणराव) and Gundyabhau (गुंड्याभाऊ) of C V Joshi (चिं वि जोशी). Gundyabhau helps Chimanrao flesh our his character.

No Gundyabhau, no Chimanrao. No Dr. Watson, no Sherlock Holmes. No Sancho, no Don. No Ravi Baswani, no Naseeruddin Shah and no JBDY.


Artist: Pablo Picasso

Artist: Roc Riera Rojas

brainpickings.org:

"There must be something in the air about remarkable Spanish illustrations of literary classics. In 1968, Spanish graphic design pioneer Roc Riera Rojas illustrated a special edition of Miguel de Cervantes’ cult 1605-1615 novel Don Quixote, which has since become a prized collector’s item."

S D Phadnis Turns 85 today

Artist S D Phadnis (शि. द. फडणीस) turns 85 today.

I have very little to add to what his close friend Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) says on Phadnis's art in a masterly essay included in Sarwate's book Sahapravasi (सहप्रवासी). ( A couple of years ago I was fortunate to spend 2-3 hours with both of them at Phadnis's house.)

On this blog, in the static information on the right side, there is a quote of W H Auden:

“…though one cannot always
Remember exactly why one has been happy,
There is no forgetting that one was”

(Good-Bye to the Mezzogiorno )

Well, I sometimes exactly remember why I have been happy.

It's because I just saw Shi Da's sunlight -or moonlight as in the picture below- filled cartoon where even today a lady looks like my mother of 1970's, where there is no evil, where life is uncomplicated, where people pay attention to their surroundings instead of burying their face in mobile phone...


courtesy: Official website of S D Phadnis

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Use Jaane Na Do Yaaro- Ravi Baswani

उसे जाने ना दो यारों

Susan Sontag on the iconoclastic spirit of the 1960's: "...How one wishes that some of its boldness, its optimism, its disdain for commerce had survived……”

They must be kidding when they say Ravi Baswani at death was 64. When did he turn even 40?

I have given up any hope of seeing another Hindi film as good as Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (JBDY), 1983 where he was one of the main reasons to make it so good.

He was equally good in Chashme Buddoor (1981).

It's a pity that I saw so little of him on Hindi silver screen.

In 1980's, for me, it was much easier to identify with him rather than with Naseeruddin Shah or Farooq Sheikh who romanced pretty girls on screen while he on screen and I in real life weren't.

David Remnick recently said: If God had a plan, God was a fantastic comedian. There's a scene in The Human Stain by Philip Roth where Nathan Zuckerman is listening to an orchestra rehearse. People are having a good time and all he can think of is that, in 40 years, every single one of them will be dead.

JBDY is an orchestra. Sure, every single one of them will be dead. But I would dread to think that it would start with Mr. Baswani in 2010.

(after I published this post, I realised Bhakti Barve too was dead but then for me Ms. Barve- a good actor herself- didn't belong to the core of JBDY.)

Maurti Mane; Perhaps Mahabharat's Bheem looked like him

Read my earlier post on the late Mr. Mane here.

courtesy: Pudhari पुढारी July 28 2010

To see more pictures and read more on Mr. Mane, please visit ePudhari's website, choose Kolhapur edition of July 28 and go to page 8.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hemant Morparia is a Gadfly Constantly Annoying Our Holy Cows

Alexander Waugh: “Beware of seriousness: it is a form of stupidity.”

Julian Gough: '"Why so sad, people?" as Zadie Smith asks.
Well, it's just a habit by now. It's so ingrained in our culture that it has become an unexamined default position. What makes it much worse is that it is now being coached, reinforced. All of the writers on the Granta list attended university creative writing programmes. All, in other words, have submitted to authority. This is a catastrophe for them as novelists...'


Vijay Tendulkar was fond of Hemant Morparia's art. I can see why:

Morparia is a fearless gadfly, ever ready to pester our holy cows, not submitting to any authority.

I have seen many brilliant cartoons borne out of his brush. Here is the latest example.

A luxury book publisher is bringing out a special edition biography of Sachin Tendulkar with pages made from his blood.

This should have been fodder for many jesters. Instead all we see in our media are noisy Jee-Huzoors of Tendulkar.

Thankfully for me Morparia is antithesis of them and gives us this. Sure, it raises some stink because it is supposed to.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I told you this new Indian car Obop was really cool!



My caption: "I told you this new Indian car Obop was really cool!"

Artist: Matt Diffee, New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest# 248, last date July 25 2010

To see more fun around Nano, click here and here.

p.s key IBM-> HAL, Nano->Obop

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What did a Woman in the Kitchen have in common with its Floor?

Anton Chekhov: "My holy of holies is the human body..."

Indian religious code: "If a woman was menstruating, she was prohibited from Suttee, the act of a Hindu widow willingly cremating herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband."

ROBIN MARANTZ HENIG: "The worst thing you could do when my mother was in one of her moods was to point out that she got cranky when she had her period. “I am not just a bunch of chemicals!” she’d yell. My brother, who even at 12 believed in the sanctity of data, decided to keep a written record of when Mom was irritable and see whether it correlated with what he could deduce about her menstrual cycle. It was hard to contradict the circumstantial evidence: when our mother had her period, she was harder to live with..."


Annie Hall,1977: "Alvy: Hey, you are in a bad mood. You must be getting your period.
Annie: I'm not getting my period. Jesus, every time anything out of the ordinary happens, you think that I'm getting my period."

Not too long ago, menstruation was NOT a taboo subject in Maharashtra.

For instance, historians like T S Shejwalkar (त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर), D G Godse (द ग गोडसे), have quoted a number of instances in their work when women’s monthly period was mentioned without any hesitation, even in official communication.

(After reading "no Suttee if menstruating" quoted earlier, I asked my wife if some widows could have faked it....I would. She said it would have been very difficult to do so in a joint family setup of medieval India).

But it all changed since the Victorian era began in England.

I wonder if a book like the one mentioned below will ever get written in Marathi. I am sure when it does, it will be one of the most interesting one.

Elissa Stein and Susan Kim have written a book "Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation".

Eryn Loeb reviews it:

"...apparently, plenty of girls still think they pee and bleed out of the same orifice, and menstruation is still understood with a retro blend of embarrassment, fear and superstition...

...Kotex pads burst onto the market the same year women got the right to vote, which was also the same year that saw the first Miss America pageant (that would be 1920)...

...And we learn that as late as 1985, a pre-Friends, pre-Cougar Town, pre-Arquette, Courteney Cox was the first person to use the word "period" in a TV commercial...

Flow revels in the awesome mysteriousness of women's bodies even as its authors try to counter it. It's hard to maintain both positions, though there's something appealing about being normal and mystifying at the same time. That's a central tension of how people have viewed women -- and how women have viewed themselves -- throughout history. Not surprisingly, the ambivalence about the role and significance of menstruation is equally entrenched.

Still, why talk about it? Stein and Kim are tuned in enough to pose that question directly, and their book stands as a pretty clear answer. Certainly, we don't have to talk about everything, but Flow shows that menstruation -- and women's many experiences of it -- are fodder for a host of worthwhile and often important conversations."

Q: What was common to a woman working in a kitchen and the kitchen floor?
A: Both were disinfected with Lysol, a household cleaner!

(For more, check out 'Related Media' by visiting this site.)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

How Narayan Dharap scared the bejesus out of my childhood heart

On Sunday July 18 2010, I read on Guardian blog about Edgar Allan Poe and I thought of Narayan Dharap (नारायण धारप).

Although, I haven't read Dharap for a long time and sadly have no book of his in my possession, and haven's spotted any in numerous book exhibitions, I vividly remember many eerie moments he created.

Only the prospect of my mother's death on an operation table scared me more than his books.

My mother (1937-2006) too was fond of those books and used to say how they were scared of passing by Dharap's house in Pune! She said the Dharap-Vada had a certain mystic aura around it. I am sure it was because of N Dharap's books.

Near disappearance of Narayan Dharap from popular Marathi middle-class culture is another instance of its dire poverty.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Agastya Rishi, Vinoba Bhave and Sean Penn

Sean Penn, a brilliant actor and social activist, recently said: “There is a strength of character in the people who have, by and large, never experienced comfort. That’s exactly the character that our Main Street culture lacks and needs in the United States. In other words, we need Haiti.”

I say we middle-class urbanites in India need to revisit teachings of Agastya to build strength of character.

Vinoba Bhave विनोबा भावे wanted to see Indian society respect both manual and intellectual work equally. He has written a Marathi essay- easily one of the best in genre- on Sage Agastya, who apparently celebrated both brain and brawn.
(I have enclosed part that essay below. I read this essay first time as a part of my school curriculum.)


A part of Marathi essay by Vinoba Bhave




The Maharishi (Great Sage) Agastya, 12th century, courtesy: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You can't arrest dead people!

Sambhaji Brigade wants a number of people arrested because they allegedly helped James Laine. (Pudhari पुढारी, July 11 2010)

Three of the eleven names Pudhari lists are Bhaskar Chandavarkar (भास्कर चंदावरकर) , A R Kulkarni (अ रा कुलकर्णी), Dilip Chitre (दिलीप चित्रे).

There is a slight problem.

All three of them are dead.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nil-nil is STILL the score of life

Although I really love, Adam Gopnik's quote:
"The World Cup is a festival of fate -- man accepting his hard circumstances, the near-certainty of his failure. There is, after all, something familiar about a contest in which nobody wins and nobody pots a goal," he wrote in the New Yorker. "Nil-nil is the score of life. This may be where the difficulty lies for Americans, who still look for Eden out there on the ballfield.", I was happy to see the number of goals Germany were piling on.

I thought, maybe, just maybe, Nil-nil is NOT the score of life.

Alas, the final proved Gopnik right.

Look at Andres Iniesta in the picture below. He sure is feeling on top of the world. After yesterday, he doesn't ever have to touch a football again for fame and fortune. And yet he is hurting over the loss of his departed friend Daniel Jarque.

Nil-nil?



courtesy: AP

Now I have had the misfortune of seeing finals of 1990, 1994, 2006 and now 2010 live.

Richard Williams:"No more all-European finals, thank you very much. The one four years ago that ended with Zinedine Zidane's head-butt and a penalty shoot-out was bad enough. But no one seriously expected a classic in Berlin that day. Last night's match was supposed to be a fascinating contest of stylistic nuances, a collision of rival philosophies featuring some of the finest attacking talents in the modern game. But as we had to wait until deep in extra time for Andrés Iniesta's goal, 84,000 people in the stadium and a reputed 700 million television spectators were left wondering when the football was going to start..." (The Guardian, 12 July 2010)

(For the last night's match, Johan Cruyff, legendary Dutch player, chose to support Spain.
Imagine if Sunil Gavaskar were to support Pakistan against India in next year's cricket worldcup. There will be calls to lynch him!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The First Great Writer in Hindi was a Marathi?

PAUL GOODMAN: "...For most of its history Islam has been the most relaxed of the three faiths. It neither aches for the coming of a Messiah nor announces that outside the Church there is no salvation. It offers monotheism for all — a kind of Judaism for the masses..." (Spectator, 31 MARCH 2010)

Vinoba Bhave (विनोबा भावे) gives a fascinating account of Saint Namdev (1270-1350?)'s (संत नामदेव) life in his book "Namdevanchi Bhajane" (नामदेवांची भजने), 1946.

(p.s. Please see earlier posts on Namdev here and here.

In this post, I am sharing more information that I have learnt since then.)

Vinoba argues that Namdev spent almost twenty years in Punjab because Islam there was spreading very fast and Namdev wanted to convey to masses how Hinduism too had the same qualities that were attracting followers to Islam...And he succeeded in his mission big time.

Vinoba also argues that Namdev was the first great classical writer in Hindi ('पहिला अभिजात उत्तम लेखक').

Remember, Nanak (1469–1539) came almost two hundred years after Namdev. Guru Arjan Dev (1563–1606) , who followed another hundred years later, edited and compiled bhajans that went into the Guru Granth Sahib.

It means Namdev's bhajans had already lasted for three hundred years thanks to their popularity among masses of Punjab! Today, 660 years later, they are as popular, if not more.

Think about it. Which Maharashtrian celebrity amongst us will be as popular in 2670CE as he/she is today? And then think again of Marathi Bhakti saints!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Was this Handsome Man Evil? Muhammad Ayub Khan

James Lovegrove:“The search for aliens, then, has turned inward. The Other is no longer up there in the stars. He’s our neighbour with the faith-based dress code. She’s the person with the tinted skin and unfamiliar accent. Modern science fiction is putting out the unexceptionable message that we should gladly embrace him or her, if we are to have any kind of future.
Someone else’s Other, after all, is us.”

Many of us in India have been raised to treat Muhammad Ayub Khan, the first military ruler of Pakistan as evil.

Was he?

Please read "Lessons of Murree" by A.G. NOORANI (Frontline, July 2 2010).

Paul Krugman wrote on July 1 2010: "When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions."

Did Indian leadership in early 1960's- read J L Nehru- "take positions based on careful consideration of the options" vis-à-vis border disputes with China and Pakistan? Or "much of what they believed rested on prejudices, not analysis"?

As for me, I was very moved by this picture (dated August 25, 1959) of Mr. Khan and his wife. They make a handsome couple worthy of a role in contemporary Hindi film. Move over Motilal and Meena Kumari!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Shivajirao Bhosale, Chandgi Ram, Abhijit Marathe...

Adam Philips: 'The world without the people who matter to us is not the same world and so not the world at all. Life becomes progressively stranger as we get older - and we become increasingly frantic to keep it familiar, to keep it in order - because people keep changing the world for us by dying out (mourning is better described as orientation, the painful wondering whether it is worth re-placing oneself).'

In 1970's, I atteneded many public lectures of Shivajirao Bhosale (शिवाजीराव भोसले) at Miraj (मिरज). His voice still rings in my ears.

Although they were informative, I was never hugely impressed by them unlike lectures by Narhar Kurundkar (नरहर कुरुंदकर). In fact, I walked out of one or two of them because of sheer boredom.

However, it's a nice feeling that, not too long ago, thousands in Maharashtra flocked to his lectures on the subjects like Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda among others.

I wonder how many would do so today sacrificing their prime time decadent Marathi TV.

Wrestler Chandgi Ram who passed away on 29 June 2010- like Satpal Singh- became very popular personality in Maharashtra. It was nice to read rich tributes paid to him by his former rival wrestelers of Kolhapur (कोल्हापूर).

Abhijit Marathe (अभिजीत मराठे) my classmate died in Miraj on June 27(?) 2010. I was not in touch with him for a long time but we spent years from June 1969 to March 1975 together at Miraj High School.

His family- easily one of the wealthiest in the region- was 'first family' of Miraj, even ahead of that of family of Miraj's former ruler.

But he wore all this lightly. He was probably the only guy who was addressed using his first name without any corruption. That is always 'Abhijit'. Never 'Abhya' or 'Marathya'. (Unlike me who, to my father's irritation, was always 'Kulkya'.)

He was good in studies and, like many of us, obsessed with cricket. When he joined us playing a Sunday game, putting together a cricket gear was never a problem.

His bunglow had a tennis court and a ping pong table. Marathe's also had a decent book library. I sure read a few books there.

Abhijit could be wickedly funny. I remember he would go to a parrot fortune-teller near our school and enquire if he could tell fortune of Abhijit's penis! (I was with him on one such trip.)

In 1974, when I went back to school after a gap of number of days, our class teacher made me stand up and was enquiring where I was. I was fumbling with an answer because I was lying. Abhijit blurted out: He had plague!

The whole class including me was in splits.

Go well, Abhijit.