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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

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.