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."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

परी तू जागा चुकलासी You Are Looking in the Wrong Place...Two Examples


There is this beautiful line in Marathi: 'तुझे आहे तुजपाशी, परी तू जागा चुकलासी' ...You have what is yours, but you are (looking) in the wrong place...Now can there be any better visual expression of the words above than the following picture of Mr. Kaplan? 

For me such pictures  make the art of cartooning great.After seeing this picture, I just stopped doing what I was at my PC and stared away from the screen.

As a kid I really used to enjoy this myth of Hindu god Ganpati told by my mother:

"...Parvati declares a race around the universe between the ponderous Ganesha and his younger brother, Skanda or Kartikeya  or Murugan. The younger boy takes off on his swift peacock vehicle swift as lightning, leaving the slow Ganesha with his pitiful rat vehicle far behind. Thinking a moment, Ganesha realizes that his mother and father themselves constitute the entire universe. He simply walks around his mother and father (प्रदक्षिणा) and wins the race. "

 ('Encyclopedia of Hinduism', 2007 by Constance A. Jones and James D. Ryan)

Artist: B E Kaplan, The New Yorker

On the subject of 'one has what is his but one is (looking) in the wrong place', I think of another brilliant cartoon.

  



Artist: Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे), 1959

[ from: "Sarvottam  Sarwate" editor: Avadhoot Paralkar, Lokvangmay Gruh, 2008 ("सरवोत्तम सरवटे" संपादक: अवधूत परळकर, लोकवाङ्मय गृह)]

Caption in Marathi reads: 

"गोप्याʃ ʃ ʃ ʃ गधड्या ʃ खळीचा कागद कुठाय..."

 ("Gopya ʃ ʃ ʃ ʃ idiot ʃ where is the paper containing glue...")

Now, I don't know how many young people can appreciate this great cartoon because the technology has changed decisively. In the age of Fevi-stick one may not appreciate what once was a very popular glue in middle-class Maharashtra: 'Khal' (खळ). 

'Khal' used to be made using rice paste. As a kid I have used it to make kites. 'Khal' used to be stuck to a paper to be passed around and could cause minor accidents and misunderstandings as in the picture above.
  Another example of 'तुज आहे तुजपाशी । परी तु जागा चुकलासी'?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nizam STILL has the Last Laugh

Dominic Sandbrook:

"Despite all the patriotic American nonsense about the "greatest generation", (Antony) Beevor shows that there were remarkably few heroes. There were rarely "more than a handful of men prepared to take risks and attack," he says; most men just wanted to get home in one piece and "somebody else to play the role of hero". Surveys showed that if a few broke ranks and fled, the rest would follow; in most engagements, as many as half never fired a shot."


So who is more successful? Those who sacrifice or  those who survive?

Most Maratha chieftains who fled from the battlefield and allowed somebody else to play the role of hero on the evening of January 14 1761 at Panipat did well for themselves and their future generations.

As I read Maratha history as a schoolboy,  I often thought the one party Maratha's thrashed almost every single time- like Obelix treating Romans in Asterix comics- was Nizam.

Later as I read Vasudevshastri Khare's (वासुदेवशास्त्री खरे) biography of Nana Fadnavis, "nana phadanvees yanche charitra" (नाना फडनवीस यांचे चरित्र), first published July 1892, I realised that, as always, reality was very complex.

The Economic Times/PTI, October 16 2012:

"When you think of India's all-time richest people, what are the names that cross your mind?
No, it's not the Tatas, Birlas or Ambanis, it's Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam (or ruler) of Hyderabad. According to a new inflation-adjusted list of the world's richest people of all time, the Nizam, who ruled Hyderabad between 1886-1967, was ranked sixth with $ 236 billion."



Andy Bull writes of  the MCC's cricket tour to India, Pakistan and Ceylon in 1951 and 52.in The Guardian November 14 2012:

"The first three Tests were drawn, but England won the fourth, at Kanpur....After that win, the team paid a visit to the Nizam of Hyderabad, then the richest man in the world. Ridgway has a picture of the team with the Nizam, sitting on a sofa alongside Carr and the two Howards, with the professionals arrayed behind them. "He had so many wives we called him His Exhausted Highness," Howard wrote. "Everything I said to him, he replied, 'I see.' It became a great saying at home. 'I see, said the Nizam.'""

the Nizam of Hyderabad" His Exhausted Highness" but worth $ 236 billion

Photo courtesy: Popperfoto/Getty Images and Guardian
   
After reading this, I am recycling my earlier post dated Feb 19 2008.


Historian WILLIAM DALRYMPLE has written at length about the Nizam’s legacy. (The Guardian and Outlook February 18, 2008).

I couldn’t help chuckle.

Here was the regime about which I have rarely read anything good.

Historian Setu Madhavrao Pagdi’s (सेतु माधवराव पगडी) first hand account of the last days of the Nizam regime from his autobiography-Jeevansetu (जीवनसेतु) 1969- describes how rotten it was.

I have also attended speeches delivered by the late Narhar Kurundkar (नरहर कुरुंदकर)- a staunch Gandhian and one of the most liberal thinkers Maharashtra produced- at 'Vasant Vyakhyan Mala' (वसंत व्याख्यान माला),  Miraj (मिरज) wherein  he described how bad and cruel Nizam regime in 20th century was.

On March 11, 1795, Marathas vanquished Nizam in the battle of Kharda. For a change all Maratha chieftains fought together.

Nizam’s army had played havoc before the battle. Among other things, they had slaughtered cows in the temple complex at Ambejogai (आंबेजोगाई).

[Please note during 1770-1791, a few chieftains of Maratha army indulged in looting of Hindu shrines including mutts of Shankaracharya and Ramanujacharya. Source- Marhati Lavani by M V Dhond 1956 ('मर्हाटी लावणी' म वा धोंड)]

Historian T S Shejwalkar त्र्यंबक शंकर शेजवलकर gave a radio-speech on this battle 'Khardyachi Ladhai' (खर्ड्याची लढाई).

Shejwalkar rued how Marathas wasted the opportunity to eliminate Nizam. He argued how this blunder of Marathas costed Indian union dearly in 1947.

Even today, Nizam and his legacy continue to grab attention and resources.

His Chowmahalla palace complex is being restored to its former glory while Maratha’s Shaniwar Wada (शनिवार वाडा) continues to languish, remains ghostly.


Princess Esra at the Chowmahalla palace complex (pic courtesy: Outlook Magazine)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jaspal Bhatti, Have You Conned Even Wikipedia?



Mel Brook:

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."



Homer Simpson:

“Aw, being a clown sucks.  You get kicked by kids, bit by dogs, and admired by the elderly.  Who am I clowning?  I have no business being a clown!  I've leaving the clowning business to all the other clowns in the clowning business.”

When I read about Mr. Bhatti's death in a road accident a few minutes ago I thought he was satirising traffic woes of India. So I went to Wikipedia to verify it...

Outside cinema, he was one of the best Indian comedians I saw. Sometimes Doordarshan was worth watching only for his program 'Ulta-Pulta'.

I should have written about his art on this blog when he was alive. He has made so much fun of corruption in India. He of course couldn't have imagined the monstrous proportions the evil has now reached.The joke is truly on us.


Mr. Bhatti exhibiting 'Corruption Devta' in April 2011

Photograph courtesy: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar, The Hindu


I always feel that Sikhs as a community get more than fair share of Indian society's affection. For me, the reason is they produce people like the late Mr. Bhatti and Mr. Khushwant Singh



Food Gets Z Category Security in India

Jaspal Bhatti’s wife Savita Bhatti, guarded by members of the Nonsense Club dressed as commandos, goes to deposit vegetables in a bank locker in Chandigarh on Tuesday April 1, 2008. (PTI)

Ok...ok...Mr. Bhatti...we get it...You have now read a lot of obituaries...Now please get up...The Flop-show must go on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

BJP & Congress have played the Ace of Spades simultaneously: An Illustrator Suggested

Today October 23 2012 is second death anniversary of Leo Cullum, the guy who keeps amusing

George Orwell:

"Many children begin to know his characters by sight before they can even read, for on the whole Dickens was lucky in his illustrators."

Alison Lurie:

"A brilliant illustrator can transform any story, revealing its possible meanings and sometimes changing them. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass would be less scary without John Tenniel’s drawings (especially those of the Duchess and the Jabberwocky), and Winnie-the-Pooh less lovable without the help of Ernest Shepard. Maurice Sendak brought his artistic talents to over seventy works by other writers, always making them more interesting."

Orwell, I feel, was never indifferent to illustrations in a book. He has sketched many small pictures himself.

But I haven't still seen Orwell's novels or reportage illustrated.

Now 'Animal Farm' can be a great book to illustrate and I know illustrated editions exist. But if I have to suggest one artist for the job, it would be the late Mr. Cullum.


Artist: Leo Cullum, The New Yorker

This is how the great book ends:

“The pigs and farmers return to their amiable card game, and the other animals creep away from the window. Soon the sounds of a quarrel draw them back to listen. Napoleon and Pilkington have played the ace of spades simultaneously, and each accuses the other of cheating. The animals, watching through the window, realize with a start that, as they look around the room of the farmhouse, they can no longer distinguish which of the cardplayers are pigs and which are human beings.”

Now, imagine how Mr. Cullum would have illustrated it...the way Napoleon and Pilkington, or BJP and Congress, are looking at each other, saying things and Mr. Cullum helping as interpreter for us like in the picture above...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gajendra Moksha by Mohiuddin Khan मौजुद्दीनखां...हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन ।।

Greetings of Dasara (Oct 24)  and Bakr-Id (Oct 26) !

One of the best  ever sung bhajans 'man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj'-  from Hindi film 'Baiju Bawra', 1952- is written by Shakeel Badayuni, composed by Naushad and sung by Mohammed Rafi.

 "सोऽन्तःसरस्युरुबलेन गृहीत आर्तो
दृष्ट्वा गरुत्मति हरिं ख उपात्तचक्रम
उत्क्षिप्य साम्बुजकरं गिरमाह कृच्छ्रान
नारायणाखिलगुरो भगवन्नमस्ते ||"

[ He (Gajendra) in the water with great force who was captured (by the crocodile) severely suffering on seeing Lord Vishnu on the back of Garuda with his discus ready  raising  his trunk along with a lotus flower  uttered the words with great difficulty  O Lord Narayana  O Universal Lord O Supreme person salutations to you.]



'Gajendra Moksha' by Artist: Unknown, Period: mid 18th century,

Medium: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Courtesy: Collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins and Wikimedia Commons

As a kid when I first read the story of Gajendra Moksha from  Bhagavata Purana in Marathi, I  felt very anxious and then relieved...for me elephant then was 'good' and crocodile was 'bad'. I kept seeing its occasional depiction in Ganesh Chaturthi pandals. Probably I also saw the story in 'Chandoba' (चांदोबा).

Later in life, I would watch on TV channels crocodiles catching many hapless animals at watering holes of Africa. No Lord Vishnu came to their rescue!

I came to admire both caught animals and crocs.

For a long time, I did not know that the story of Gajendra Moksha was a metaphor. And even when I came to know little more about it, its spiritual beauty eluded me until I read Govindrao Tembe's (गोविंदराव टेंबे) book "माझा संगीत व्यासंग" (Majha Sangeet Vyasang), first published in 1939.

Tembe describes how Hindustani classical singer  Mohiuddin Khan (मौजुद्दीनखां)  (c1870- 1921) treated Gajendra Moksha. 

Mohiuddin Khan  once sang this Hindi Bhajan (by Surdas)  when Tembe was in the audience:

"अब तो जीवन हारे, हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन  ।। ध्रु।।
नीर भरन हेत गए सिन्धुके किनारे ।
सिन्धु बीच बसत नक्र चरण धर पसारे ।। हे गोविन्द ! राखो शरन ।।"



(This is a not-so-good scan of a portion of the page from Tembe's book. I am not going to attempt translation of it.)

Tembe says how  poignantly Mohiuddin Khan expressed prayer, grief, frustration and helpless anger of the elephant in repeatedly singing 'हे गोविन्द !'. He sang the bhajan for 45 minutes. 

Surdas's written bhajan is great but that day, my guess is, it became even greater! And how lucky we are that because of Tembe we can partly receive it even today.
 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

प्रभाते मलदर्शनम...Was Vinoba Bhave being Funny but Blasphemous?

"कराग्रे वसते लक्ष्मी:
करमूले सरस्वती ।
करमध्ये तु गोविंद:
प्रभाते करदर्शनम्।।"

[At the tip of the hand resides (goddess) Laxmi, 
At the root (goddess) Saraswati,
At the centre (god) Govinda, 
In the morning, catch sight of hand.]

The Hindu:

"Census 2011 threw up a malodorous statistic: people in 49.8 per cent of households have no toilet facilities and defecate in the open. In contrast, 63.2 per cent of households have a telephone connection, of which 52.3 per cent have cell phones; as for televisions, almost half of the country’s households possess one."

Jairam Ramesh: 

"toilets are more important than temples. No matter how many temples we go to, we are not going to get salvation. We need to give priority to the toilets and cleanliness" 

Economic & Political Weekly, October 20, 2012:

"But things will change only when Indians decide sanitation is not a dirty word; that
no one group of people is destined to clean up after other people; that toilets can be the temples of a modern, just and democratic country."


My father told us that  Vinoba Bhave (विनोबा भावे) used to say “प्रभाते मलदर्शनम” (In the morning, catch sight of your own feces). I thought it was very funny and very profound.

For me,  in 20th century, Vinoba was one of the greatest scholars of religion  in the world. His knowledge of all religions practised- yes including Islam and Christianity- in India was formidable. And his Marathi (मराठी) expression is so simple, beautiful and direct. I seldom read or hear such Marathi written in present times.

But by saying “प्रभाते मलदर्शनम”, was he- like Jairam Ramesh-  being blasphemous? Some religious fundamentalists would say so.


By building toilets, you will not have to sight somebody else's  feces!

Was Vinoba greeted by his creator in heaven like this:



Artist: Charles Barsotti, The New Yorker, 15 November 1993

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Damsel in Distress? Well, I Suppose the Solution is Children

Tomorrow October 14 2012 is 59th Death Anniversary of Raghunath Dhondo Karve (रघुनाथ धोंडो कर्वे).

Camille Paglia:

Pharmaceutical companies will never find the holy grail of a female Viagra — not in this culture driven and drained by middle-class values. Inhibitions are stubbornly internal. And lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist.
 
(June 26, 2010, 'No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class', The New York Times)




Artist: Emiliano Ponzi, The New York Times, June 2010

(This graphic that accompanied Prof. Paglia's article)

Stephen Jay Gould:

"Why, in particular, does the existence of clitoral orgasm seem so problematic? Why, for example, did Freud label clitoral orgasm as infantile and define feminine maturity as the shifting to an unattainable vaginal site? Part of the reason, of course, must reside in simple male vanity. We (and I mean those of my sex, not the vague editorial pronoun) simply cannot abide the idea-though it flows from obvious biology-that a woman's sexual pleasure might not arise most reliably as a direct result of our own coital efforts.
" 

("Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples" from 'Bully for Brontosaurus',1991)

. वा. धोंड:

"विवाहसंस्थेची अनावश्यकता, स्वैरसमागमाची इष्टता, अप्राकृतिक संभोगाविषयी उदारता, इत्यादी (र धों )कर्वे यांची मते आजही भारतीयांना मान्य होणे कठीण. मग ४०-५० वर्षांपूर्वी या मतांबद्दल त्यांची कुचेष्टा झाली, तर ते स्वाभाविकच म्हटले पाहिजे. कामशास्त्र, संतातिनियमन गुप्तरोगप्रतिबंध यांविषयीची माहिती कर्वे यांनी तत्कालीन समाजास दिली, हे त्यांचे कार्य मोठेच म्हटले पाहिजे; परंतु संततिनियमनाचा प्रचार त्यांनी ज्या भूमिकेवरून केला, ती कामस्वातंत्र्याची भूमिका त्यांच्या कार्याला मारकच ठरली."


(मार्च, 1982)

Alas no female Viagra yet but The Times of India June 24 2012 greeted us with a full page ad of 'i-sure'.

I wasn't sure what it was until I read the entire copy!



courtesy: The Times of India and Piramal Healthcare

[My first thought. There should be a tagline: "Woh Do Din" (Those 2 days) ].

The ad claims 99% accuracy. What about the anxiety and suffering due to 1%? Will the product encourage not using contraceptives on the other 28 days? Will it end up pressurizing women more?

If a religion believes that sex is only for procreation, will it recommend using "i-sure" to avoid recreational sex?

The lady in the ad is worried about delay in getting pregnant. What about the gentleman? Will he be ready when she is?

Imagine she declaring to him in the morning before they head out to work: "TONIGHT show me you are a man or wait until next month"... Won't he have performance anxiety? Will he too need some assistance?

Artist: Barbara Shermund (1988-1978), The New Yorker, 9 July 1932

(Liza Donnelly on Ms. Shermund: “Barbara Shermund was one of the more prolific cartoonists of the early New Yorker. Her breezy drawing style and humor reflected the new attitudes of urban women in the twenties and thirties, and she can be considered one of the early feminist cartoonists.”)

p.s.

The late R D Karve (र धों कर्वे), one of the greatest 20th century Indians, would have been most happy to see female Viagra being available to the women because he wanted them to have as much sexual freedom (कामस्वातंत्र्य) as men did. Family planning, in the way we understand today, was NOT his ONLY mission.

(Read essay 'Ra Dho Karve Ani Santati Niyaman' from 'Jalyatil Chandra', 1994 by M V Dhond, 'र धों कर्वे आणि संतति नियमन', 'जाळयातील चंद्र', लेखक: म. वा. धोंड)