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."

Monday, July 18, 2011

मुंबई नगरी बडी बांका, जशी रावणाची दुसरी लंका

CNN July 14 2011:

"Mumbai returned quickly to a strange sense of normality on Thursday, less than 12 hours after triple blasts hit the city late Wednesday, leaving dozens dead and many more injured.

Heavy monsoonal rain overnight and all day Thursday posed the only practical impediment to residents.


At a live press conference in Mumbai early Thursday, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Mumbai and Mumbaikars “responded splendidly” in evacuating the injured and assisting police.

“Children are going to school, people are going back to work … this is the resolute response that one expects from Mumbai.” 


“Mumbai has always lived up to that high expectation,” the minister added.

"


Indian Rebellion of 1857 which happened from May 10 1857 to June 20 1858 was one of the most important events of world history that year.

Almost as much as India's independence in year 1947.

A scene from that:

The British retaliated with horrific violence against the native population. (Charles Ball, `History of the Indian Mutiny', Vol. 1.)


Irfan Habib :

"Therefore, when our statesmen (as our Prime Minister did, the other day, at Oxford) speak of the good things that happened under British rule, like the establishment of the Indian Civil Service, they should think sometimes of 1857, not only of the rebels but also of the ordinary citizens - men, women and children - who were shot or hacked to death or killed by various means, under the aegis of our great praiseworthy benefactors."

"While the death toll is often debated by historians with figures ranging between one hundred thousand and one million, it is usually agreed that several hundred thousands were killed (in Indian Rebellion of 1857)." (Wikipedia)

0.05% to 0.50% of estimated Indian population of 200 million died. It easily is the second most violent chapter in the history of modern India, next only to her partition. Far ahead of any of her wars or terrorist attacks on her.

How was Mumbai impacted by this in 19th century?

"१८५७ सालच्या बंडाची धामधूम जेव्हा चालली होती तेव्हा मुंबईतला व्यापार आणि तिथले व्यवहार पुष्कळसे नेहमीसारखेच चालू होते. "

(गंगाधर गाडगीळ, 'प्रारंभ', 2002)
.

["When rebellion of year 1857 had caused tumult then trading and other activities in Mumbai were going on almost normally."
(Gangadhar Gadgil, 'Prarambh')]

Gadgil's book- part history, part fiction- on 19th century Mumbai is very good but not great. (To start with it lacks index.) The book is also a slap in the face of those people who say that Marathi speaking population of Mumbai has not contributed significantly towards making the city financial capital of India.

When I read it, I realise the kind of problems the ordinary people of Mumbai have faced since the city's founding.

And who were (and are) those people?

People of multiple races, religions, languages, castes, skin colours, nationalities, class.

Of course, they were fortunate to get leaders like Jaganath Shunkerseth (जगन्नाथ शंकरशेट) and Balshastri Jambhekar (बाळशास्त्री जांभेकर)- both visionary giants who happen to be very liberal and Marathi speaking- in 19th century.

(There was a Hindu-Muslim flare-up in Bhiwandi, Thane in c 1830's.

Mr. Shunkerseth, a devout Hindu, gave exemplary leardership to help quell it. As long as Mr. Shunkerseth was on the Governor'c Council, Muslims never asked for their own representative to be included in it.

Gandhiji and others would play such roles in 20th century.)

They have helped make the city what it is today, described aptly by inimitable poet Paththe Bapurao (पठ्ठे बापूराव):

"Mumbai Nagari badi banka, jashee Ravanachee dusari Lanka" (मुंबई नगरी बडी बांका, जशी रावणाची दुसरी लंका)

The Times of India, July 15 2011:

"A rough estimate shows that diamonds worth Rs. 25 crore flew into the air at the time of the blast."


Bombay Stock Exchange c 1864