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."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Roads are Walking Again रस्ते चालत आहेत पुन्हा

Paul Theroux:

A lot of the best travel, and the best travel books, are about suffering. They’re about the ordeal. The human element is so strong in that. There’s no dodging it. It’s as though we are creeping along the ledge of a building.


Paul Kingsnorth:

"I am leaving. I am going to go out walking.

I am leaving on a pilgrimage to find what I left behind in the jungles and by the cold campfires and in the parts of my head and my heart that I have been skirting around because I have been busy fragmenting the world in order to save it; busy believing it is mine to save. I am going to listen to the wind and see what it tells me, or whether it tells me anything at all. You see, it turns out that I have more time than I thought. I will follow the songlines and see what they sing to me and maybe, one day, I might even come back. And if I am very lucky I might bring with me a harvest of fresh tales which I can scatter like apple seeds across this tired and angry continent."


Jerry DeNuccio:

Kierkegaard claimed “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” Rousseau asserted “my mind works only with my legs.” Thoreau called walking “a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us,” to reclaim the holy land of deliberation and imagination.


Jesse Miller

A cursory look at the canon of Western literature reveals author after author mining the drama of human locomotion while constantly imbuing the act with new meanings and significances, so much so in fact that the history of literature begins to look like a history of walking.


And isn't the glorious history of Marathi literature a kind of history of walking?

All that walking done by Dnyaneshwar (ज्ञानेश्वर), Namdev (नामदेव), Eknath (एकनाथ), Tukaram (तुकाराम), Ramdas (रामदास)...for almost 400 years...from year 1281 to 1681...even today all of them are best-selling authors!

This year Palkhis (पालखी), Dindis (दिंडी), have started walking towards Pandharpur (पंढरपूर)...as they have always done...

Rain or no rain...

India either Mughal or Maratha or British or Congress or BJP...

Camel or Telegraph or Landline or Mobile...

Bullock-cart or Tonga or Train or Car or Concorde...

Smallpox, Cholera, Plague, Flu or HIV/AIDS, H1N1, Bird Flu, SARS, Obesity, Diabetes, Blood Pressure...

Before Potato (introduced in India in late 16th / early 17th century) or after...before Chilli (introduced in India in late 15th century) or after...

I will meet Palkhis when they reach Pune...No, I will not take any effort...Actually, they will meet me...in my area...around 7 AM on June 15 when they start leaving Pune for Pandharpur...

It will be a cloudy day but it won't be raining much...I will walk either behind them or on the other side of the road...

I will be moved...I will feel special...I don't know why.

I will realise how fast they walk...I can't overtake them...I will notice how little- almost none- sound they make while walking...No Indian procession of so many people, other than the one related to death, can be so quiet...Yet again, I will resolve to go walking along with them all the way...

Then they will take a right turn and disappear...leaving me behind...proving my irrelevance all over again...

Occasionally I will notice an Ektara player along with them. I like Ektara's sound...Why wouldn't I? Listen to it in Sudhir Phadke's (सुधीर फडके) "Pota Purata Pasaa Pahije" (पोटापुरता पसा पाहिजे, नको पिकाया पोळी). No string instrument can get much better than that.

Apparently there is a tradition of honouring Ektara players from each dindi as they leave Dehu (देहू). Here is a recent picture of such an event at Dehu that I really liked.

1512 or 2012? And isn't he my great-great-great...grandfather?

Photo artists: Yashwant Namde and Umesh Ovhal (यशवंत नामदे आणि उमेश ओव्हाळ)
courtesy: Pudhari (पुढारी), June 11 2012

As I kept looking at it, I wondered if this gathering looked much different than the one during the life of Saint Tukaram (1608–1650) (संत तुकाराम).

First, one little thing stuck out.

Eyeglasses on a couple of faces in that picture!

Although the first eyeglasses were made in Italy at about 1286, they certainly did not come to Ektara players of India in 17th century!

Then I started wondering about large number of 'Gandhi' ('Nehru') caps in the picture. But it was reassuring to read on Wikipedia that "caps of similar design and material have been worn throughout history by the people of Maharashtra".

The late D B Mokashi's (दि बा मोकाशी) Marathi book 'Palakhee' ,1964 is one of the finest pieces of existentialist writing I have read.

The book, beautifully illustrated by Ravimukul, is about Mokashi's journey with palkhis, covering more than 200 km on foot, from Pune to Pandharpur, in year 1961, the year Panshet (पानशेत)dam burst.

For me, the book is up there with Camus's 'The Stranger' or Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'.

He ends the book, as he arrives at the destination, with these words:

" पंढरपूरात शिरलो आहे. पण कुठून शिरलो ध्यानात येत नाही. वारकरी दाटीवाटीनं चालले आहेत. वाटतं आहे, ते चालत नाहीत, रस्ते चालत आहेत. रस्त्यावर मी पाऊल टाकलं आहे नि वाहू लागलो आहे.

मला कुठं जायचं आहे हे माहीत आहे. सासुरवाडीस जायचं आहे. तो बोळ, तो भला दरवाजा, चार दगडी पायर्या चढून कडी वाजवायची, संपलं.

पण तिकडे जाण्याचं भान नाही. गर्दीबरोबर मी ढकलला जात आहे. रस्ता वळला की शरीर वळत आहे. पंढरपूर निराळं दिसत आहे. रस्त्याचं भानच गेलं आहे. वारकर्यांच्या दाटीत नि शेकडो दिव्यांच्या प्रकाशात. सदरा उल्टा झालाय नि माझाच मला ओळखू येत नाही.

रात्री एकला सासुरवाडीचा दरवाजा ठोठावला आहे.
मला पाहताच सासुबाई विचारत आहेत,
"का रे, इतका का उशीर? पालखी केव्हाच आली."
पिशवी खाली टाकून काहीतरीच बोलतो,
"चालत आलो"."

When his mom-in-law, who lives in Padharpur, asks him, as he arrives at her house at 1 AM, why he has arrived much later than the palkhi, he answers: I walked.

As if...