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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

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."

Sunday, March 06, 2011

वसंतराव आगाशे: "पिटातल्या प्रेक्षकांप्रमाणे शिट्या काय मारताय?"

Our teacher at Miraj High School (मिरज हाय स्कूल), Vasantrao Agashe (वसंतराव आगाशे) died at Pune on March 5 2011.

I am eternally grateful to Agashe-sir not for his teaching but for making "Vasant Vyakhyan Mala" (वसंत व्याख्यान माला), spring lecture series, happen every year at Miraj (मिरज). Agashe-sir worked tirelessly and selflessly for its success. He also motivated a number of young volunteers to work with him.

There was no ideological bias in the selection of speakers. Organisation of every evening used to be impeccable. I spent dozens of my evenings in the summers of 1970's there and later discussed the lecture passionately with my parents and willing friends.

Staunch Gandhian Narhar Kurundkar (नरहर कुरुंदकर), who often came calling, once told his majority Brahmin audience that he was now going to praise Mahatma Gandhi knowing fully well that a lot of his audience disliked, if not hated, Gandhi!

I also remember how Vitthalrao Gadgil (विठ्ठलराव गाडगीळ) regaled his audience with anecdotes from Indian and British parliaments.

Sadly, I never attended any of Setu Madhavrao Pagdi's (सेतु माधवराव पगडी) lectures there who too came for a number of years. I now realise the enormity of my loss.

But I did not like Agashe-sir's teaching. He taught us higher English in HSC first year. I did not like his speeches too. Particularly his flowery language. But he was very popular among certain types of students.

I remember those students- many studious girls among them- giving him a 'fishpond': "ज्ञानाच्या सागरातील राजहंस" ('Swan in the sea of knowledge') or something similar at our school social (aka gathering) in 1975. I was amused.

Once there was quite a bit of whistling at the back of our class. I was sitting there. He was not used to so much of commotion in his class. He reprimanded us with these words (he never beat a student):

"पिटातल्या प्रेक्षकांप्रमाणे शिट्या काय मारताय?"

("Why are you whistling like the spectators seated in the theatre pit?")

I liked the pun alright!

By the way, I never whistled at Vasant Vyakhyan Mala. There I behaved the way Agashe-sir wanted a student to behave in his class.

Thank you, Agashe-Sir. For many delightful spring evenings and the pun. And sorry for being a bit(?) of nuisance in the class.