मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

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.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

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);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

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 29, 2013

It's a Great Loss...Not for S D Phadnis, For The New Yorker!

Today July 29 2013 is 88th Birthday of  S D Phadnis (शि द फडणीस). He and I went to the same school- Miraj High School, Miraj!

(Mr. Phadnis has appeared on this blog a few times before. Please search the blog to reach there. I created his Wikipedia page in December 2008. If you have relevant expertise, please help me expand it.) 

Sometime this month I saw this beautiful cover of The New Yoker in my FB feed and it reminded me of S D Phadnis.

Artist: Christoph Niemann, The New Yorker

The lady has dropped the phone and is really setting herself up for real vacation by cutting off from the reality.

Now, haven't I seen many similar wonderful pictures by Shi Da?

 Artist: S D Phadnis, 1954

Courtesy and more such pictures: Official Website of S D Phadnis

And then I wondered, is New Yorker even aware of existence of Phadnis, who has been drawing some great pictures for more than 60 years?

It's a great loss, I feel. For the New Yorker!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Coppersmith Barbet, Green Rose & Books- A M T Jackson & Durga Bhagwat-... तांबट पक्षी, हिरवा गुलाब आणि ढीगभर पुस्तके

William Faulkner: “The past is not dead; it is not even past.”
The late Pandit A M T Jackson 1866-1909, a member of Indian Civil Service and Indologist,  has appeared on this blog before in December 2009  here.

After reading the post, Mr. Murli Khairnar (मुरली खैरनार), a Nashik resident, -  recipient of the first fellowship for creative writing given by Kusumagraj Pratishthan  (कुसुमाग्रज प्रतिष्ठान) in 2013- asked me in July 2013 about the accuracy of a claim made there

(Mr. Khairnar is engaged in writing a Marathi thriller that involves the incident of Jackson assassination. He and I spoke about his astounding research on July 25 2013 and I have never been more looking forward  to a Marathi novel.)

My claim was that the late Durga Bhagwat (दुर्गा भागवत) 1910-2002 , borne a year after Jackson's death, had told the author Pratibha Ranade (प्रतिभा रानडे) of "Ais Pais Gappa Durgabainshee" (ऐसपैस गप्पा  दुर्गाबाईंशी) that the chase of Jackson's valuable library was entrusted to the Asiatic Society, Mumbai. Mr. Khairanr had gone through the multiple editions of the book but couldn't find it.

He couldn't have!

My claim was wrong (since then corrected). It wasn't in the book I mentioned thereBut I was sure that Durgabai did say it. So I went looking for it in all the books of Durgabai I have (around ten) and also the 'Lalit' (ललित) magazine's special issue dated August 2002 dedicated to her after her death.

                      courtesy: Lalit

Finally,  I found it and I was so delighted to re-read it.

The information comes from Ms. Bhagwat' essay "Tok...tok...tok" (टोक…टोक…टोक), first published Diwali 1957. The essay, a deeply moving tribute to the late Mr. Jackson,  is now part of her book "Bhavmudra" (भावमुद्रा), 1960/ 1998.

 Coppersmith Barbet (तांबट पक्षी), Picture courtesy: Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia Marathi 

"Tok...tok...tok",  a sound made by the bird  pictured above,  is imagined by Durgabai being made by Jackson.

She writes addressing Jackson in first person: "...'Tok, tok, tok' a nonhuman sound, distant sound, does not now belong to  Coppersmith Barbet. It's certainly your sound! For all these years remaining smothered inside the bookcase, rows of books, pages it's only your sound!..." ("...'टोक, टोक, टोक' हा अमानवी, दूरचा आवाज, पण तो आता तांबट पक्ष्याचाही राहिलेला नाही. खास तो तुझाच आवाज! इतकी वर्षे त्या कपाटांच्या गाभ्यात, पुस्तकांच्या रांगात, पानापानात गुदमरून पडलेला तुझाच तो आवाज!..."

Now, I give three small passages from Durgabai's essay.

Ms. Bhagwat was raised in Nashik for a few years. In the passage above she talks about her first visit to the garden named after Mr. Jackson. She also expresses her ambivalence towards his memory. Should she associate with him for his collection of books or hate him for being a representative of the foreign ruling empire?... But for the collection of his books, she would forget his name.

Here she finds what brings Jackson and her together. She regrets that there is no picture of him. Nor there has been a biography. How does she understand his personality? But somehow she 'gets it' looking at a green rose in Jackson garden. Later in the essay, she says whenever she heard or read Jackson's name or stood still next to Jackson's library in Asiatic society of Mumbai, she thought of green roses, first seen in Jackson garden.

Here she speculates how once Jackson must have been a ruthless, diplomatic, shopkeeping British but must have transformed after reading about India in thousands of books. She thinks only because of Jackson's affection for India he was able to put together such a majestic and all encompassing library in such a short time.

(passages courtesy: the legal owners of copyrights to the book)

Durgabai also writes that Jackson's widow had no money to return to England.  She had to request Royal Asiatic Society to purchase her husband's library.  The Society then bought it for Rs. 4 - 5,000 and that is where it is today.

(Mr. Kairnar informed on July 25 2013: "Jackson Chase is there in Asiatic Library. R E Enthoven, who edited Jackson's folklore books has mentioned in the foreword that He along with a few friends raised a fund to buy all Jackson books and papers to donate them to Asiatic Society, Mumbai.")

After re-reading the essay, I have got little curious. 

Did Durgabai tone down her affection for Jackson in latter years of her life? Other than this essay, whatever I have read, she seldom mentions Jackson or any other English officer - such as Mountstuart Elphinstone or Alexander Cunningham, founder of the Archaeological Survey of India. 

Did she feel her patriotism would be questioned by some if she did? Being Thoreau's follower and a fan of Tagore, could she have embraced Tagore's views on nationalism?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why the Statures of Setu Madhavrao Pagdi and Narhar Kurundkar Stand Reduced

George Orwell, in a letter dated 1944:

"Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, ie. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history."

Dr B R Ambedkar:

" The ideal which a historian should place before himself has been well defined by Goethe who said : "The historian's duty is to separate the true from the false, the certain from the uncertain, and the doubtful from that which cannot be accepted ... ... Every investigator must before all things look upon himself as one who is summoned to serve on a jury. He has only to consider how far the statement of the case is complete and clearly set forth by the evidence. Then he draws his conclusion and gives his vote, whether it be that his opinion coincides with that of the foreman or not."
There can be no difficulty in giving effect to Goethe's direction when the relevant and necessary facts are forthcoming. All this advice is of course very valuable and very necessary. But Goethe does not tell what the historian is to do when he comes across a missing link, when no direct evidence of connected relations between important events is available."

William Dalrymple:

"The report, entitled 'On the Post-Operation Polo Massacres, Rape and Destruction or Seizure of Property in Hyderabad State', makes grim reading. In village after village across the state, it meticulously and unemotionally catalogues incidents of murder and mass rape, sometimes committed by troops, in other cases by local Hindu hooligans after the troops had disarmed the Muslim population...In all, the report estimates that as many as two hundred thousand Hyderabadi Muslims were slaughtered, which, if true, would make the aftermath of the 'Police Action' a bloodbath comparable to parts of the Punjab during Partition. Even if one chooses to regard the figure of two hundred thousand dead as an impossible exaggeration, it is still clear that
the scale of the killing was horrific...."

('The Age of Kali', 1998)

Anthony Pagden:

"...Not only has the Oxford school of history squandered its pre-eminence: history in general has retreated into the ivory tower, or lies rolling in the gutter..."

 ('Decline and Fall of the History Men', Standpoint, July/August 2013)

A G Noorani, Frontline, March 16 2001:

"...The Sundarlal Report is of more than historical importance; it is of current relevance, for the massacres, coupled with the national indifference to them, have left scars in the minds of Muslims in the State, Hyderabad city in particular. And some Muslim communal parties have not been slow to exploit these scars."

Faiz Ahmad Faiz, 'Subh-e-Azadi':

 “Yeh daghdar ujala yeh shab gazida sahr, woh intizar tha jiska woh yeh sahr to nahin”

(This stain-covered daybreak, this night-bitten dawn. This dawn is not that dawn we craved for)

Saadat Hasan Manto:

"...literature gives news about the nation, the community to which it belongs, its health, its illness. Stretch your hand and pick up any dustladen book from an old shelf – the pulse of a bygone era will begin to beat under your finger-tips."

I have been harsh on Nizams of Hyderabad on this blog.

It has been largely because of historian, scholar, polyglot and senior civil servant the late Setu Madhavrao Pagdi’s,  27/8/1910- 14/10/1994 (सेतु माधवराव पगडी) autobiography- Jeevansetu (जीवनसेतु), 1969 where he describes the last days of the Nizam regime as he watched them being posted in Hyderabad as a civil servant.

It is also because of what I heard about the regime in the speeches of  the late Narhar Kurundkar,  15/7/32-10/2/82  (नरहर कुरुंदकर) in the late 1970's and T S Shejwalkar's (त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर) radio-talk mentioned here.

In January 2013, I heard from my wife's aunt- borne in c1932 in Gulbarga district, (now) Karnataka- the kind of terror Razakars, a private militia of Nizam, unleashed upon the Hindus in 1947-48. Her own family went through 'hell' in those months.

There is no doubt in my mind that Nizam's was a bad and cruel regime. Some horrific things were done to the Hindus during its rule and many more would have been done,  had it stayed in the office. 

But did I know the whole truth about the Hyderabad Police Action (HPA) of September 1948 aka 'Operation Polo' and its aftermath?

No, I did not.

I continue with my wife's aunt's account. 

Her Brahmin family had to leave their native and migrate to a Hindu refugee camp near Solapur (सोलापूर)  in 1948. When they returned after HPA, they had lost a lot including cattle, crop, some valuables etc. This was the story of the most of the Hindu families from her village. 

But once they returned they themselves unleashed a reign of terror on the Muslims they could locate. 

According to her, her own father killed a Muslim, they knew well, with a sword. Apparently, he was seated in a chair, garlanded, given a cup of tea and then executed as he was crying for mercy all along. 

For all such acts, all the Hindu able-bodied men from the village were summoned so that no single one of them could later be identified for this. She also said that even Muslim women and children were not spared. 

 I asked the old lady if her father ever regretted what he did until his death. Her answer: Never.

This account is corroborated by  Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar's article in The Times of India, November 25 2012. You may read it here and I quote:

"The Gujarat election will revive charges that Narendra Modi killed a thousand Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots, with the BJP accusing Rajiv Gandhi of killing 3000 Sikhs in the 1984 Delhi riots. To get a sense of perspective, I did some research on communal riots in past decades. I was astounded to find that the greatest communal slaughter occurred under neither Modi nor Rajiv but Nehru. His takeover of Hyderabad in 1948 caused maybe 50,000-200,000 deaths...

...Civil rights activist AG Noorani has cited Prof Cantwell Smith, a critic of Jinnah, in The Middle Eastern Journal, 1950. “The only careful report on what happened in this period was made a few months later by investigators – including a Congress Muslim and a sympathetic and admired Hindu (Professor Sunderlal) – commissioned by the Indian government. The report was submitted but has not been published; presumably it makes unpleasant reading. It is widely held that the figure mentioned therein for the number of Muslims massacred is 50,000. Other estimates by responsible observers run as high as 200,000.”...

....This was the largest single massacre in the history of the Indian Union, dwarfing the killings by the Pathan raiders en route to Srinagar which India has ever since used as the casus belli for its annexation of Kashmir...

...Our textbooks and TV programmes show Sardar Patel and Nehru as demi-gods who created a unified India. The truth is more sordid. You will not find any mention of the Hyderabad massacre in our standard history books (just as Pakistani textbooks have deleted reference to the East Pakistan massacre of 1971). The air-brushing of Patel and Nehru is complete...."

After reading this, I revisited Pagdi's book to find out if he mentions any of this in its intensity and extent.

There are two aspects of this event of September 1948.

1.  What would have happened to the Hindus like Pagdi living in Hyderabad if the military operation had failed?

2. What DID happen to Muslims of the then Hyderabad state in real life?

The late S M Pagdi spends considerable time on the first.

On pages 434-435 (edition 2000) he talks about the bet he took with his friend on how long the Nizam's administration would be able to fight India's military. He wins the bet because he proposes the figure of just four days against his friend's guess of six months. Pagdi then expresses his pleasure that because of such a quick result, the Hindus of Hyderabad were not slaughtered by the Razakars.

No bet was taken by the friends on the fate of Muslims of Andhra Pradesh if Indian military operation did succeed!

On that point, on page 454 of the book, Pagdi briefly mentions:

 "युनियन अधिकार्यांच्या दक्षतेमुळे हैदराबाद शहर सुरक्षित राहिले. तेथे मुसलमानांच्या केसालाही धक्का लागला नाही. सप्टेम्बर आणि त्यापुढील दोन तीन महिने हैदराबाद राज्याच्या मध्यवर्ती आणि पश्चिम भागातील जिल्ह्यांत अनेक मुसलमानांना प्रचंड जनक्षोभाची झळ लागली ...पोलीस एक्शननंतरच्या हिंदूंच्या प्रतिक्रियेची झळ बऱ्याच जिल्ह्यातील मुसलमानांना लागली होती..." 

(Because of alertness of Union officers, city of Hyderabad remained safe. Not an hair of Muslims was touched there. During September and following two three months, Muslims from central and western districts of Hyderabad state were struck by people's fury....Muslims from a number of districts were affected by the reaction of the Hindus after the police action.)

Now, I know what that 'reaction', 'fury' was-  "50,000-200,000 deaths", " the largest single massacre in the history of the Indian Union", "mass rapes"!

What about 'alertness of Union officers'?

"'How did the Indian Army behave when it got to Hyderabad?' I asked.

'When an army invades any country - whether it's Alexander the Great, Timur, Hitler or Mussolini - when it gets into a town, you know what the soldiery does. It's very difficult for the officers to control them. I can't tell you how many were raped or killed, but I saw the bodies of many. Old scores were paid off across the state.'"

(William Dalrymple in conversation with Mr. Mir Moazam, 'The Age of Kali')

Finally, I turned to internationally celebrated, best selling author/ historian, one of world's leading intellectual Ramachandra Guha's much praised tome 'India After Gandhi: The History Of The World's Largest Democracy', 2007.  (It has been translated into Marathi and the translation's second edition has been  released recently.) Mr. Guha's book is a version of India's history after Mahatma Gandhi's death on January 30 1948.

Had Gandhi lived, he would have once again been on the forefront trying to prevent the bloodshed. In that sense, it was the first major event since the Mahatma's death when he was sorely missed by the minorities.

I thought the book must surely cover the HPA and its aftermath at some length.

The book (my copy) covers it on pages 55-56:

"...But, with (Lord) Mountbatten gone, it became easier for (Sardar) Patel to take decisive action. On 13 September a contingent of Indian troops was sent into Hyderabad. In less than four days they had full control of the state. Those killed in the fighting included forty-two Indian soldiers and two thousand-odd Razakars...."

Not a word  on the carnage, 'the largest single massacre in the history of the Indian Union',  that followed in the rest of the state!

Instead he writes this:

"...Whether by accident or design, the Indian action against Hyderabad took place two days after the death of Pakistan’s governor general. Jinnah had predicted that a hundred million Muslims would rise if the Nizam’s state was threatened. That didn’t happen, but in parts of Pakistan feelings ran high. In Karachi a crowd of 5,000 marched in protest to the Indian High Commission. The high commissioner, an old Gandhi an, came out on the street to try to pacify them. ‘You cowards,’ they shouted back, ‘you have attacked us just when our Father has died.’..."

I wonder what has been achieved in giving this information.  Jinnah's boastfulness? Indian  high commissioner in Karachi was an old Gandhian?

[disclaimer- I went though every single 'Hyderabad' entry listed in the index of the book and did not find what I was looking for. There is a mention of Hindu-Muslim riot of September 1983 in Hyderabad on page 564. My apologies if that information is lurking somewhere else in the book.]

Arundhati Roy has said: "Ramachandra Guha, liberal historian and founding member of the New India Foundation, a corporate-funded trust, advises us in his book—as well as in a series of highly publicised interviews—that the Gujarat government is not really fascist, and the genocide was just an aberration that has corrected itself after elections." (read Mr. Guha's rejoinder to Ms. Roy's 'charge' at the end of the same article.)

('Listening To Grasshoppers', February 4 2008)

If so, maybe even Hyderabad massacre was an aberration. Maybe even following lynching was an aberration.

Artist: Reginald Marsh, The New Yorker,  September 8 1934 

 I did not hear even Kurundkar talk about the aftermath of HPA. As I have said elsewhere on the blog, Kurundkar spoke fearlessly about the issues. For instance, he justified India's partition. But then again, he never spoke in detail about its aftermath.

[Disclaimer: I have read a lot but not all of  Kurundkar. For instance, I have not read his 'Hyderabad: Vimochan aani Visarjan' (हैद्राबाद : विमोचन आणि विसर्जन). Therefore, I don't know if he has written candidly about HPA's aftermath. If he has, I stand corrected and apologise to his memory.]

I still have huge respect for Pagdi's and Kurundkar's scholarships and their achievements but in my eyes their statures stand reduced by a few inches after listening to my wife's aunt and reading Mr. Aiyar's article and a part of  WD's book.

Mr. S S A Aiyar is critical of our  textbooks.

But when are they completely truthful about any topic when it comes to history?

I did not  know almost a thing about India's partition when I came out of secondary school although I knew a lot about India's freedom struggle.

That was in the last century.

One day this century, I read Prof. Indivar Kamtekar's,  seminal, kick-in-the-gut essay,  'The Fables of Nationalism'.

"...On 26 November 1947, introducing the first budget of independent India, the Finance Minister, Shanmukham Chetty, said: `...we have secured freedom from foreign yoke, mainly through the operation of world events, and partly through a unique act of enlightened self-abnegation on behalf of the erstwhile rulers of the country...'   His tone was totally different from that of later generations of politicians...

...As memories faded, and messages about 1947 were addressed more to children and less to adults, the story became more pliable.  Versions of the past became more tractable with time, when the past was more distant, because they were addressed to a constituency without any dissonant memories to challenge them.  The data needed to dispute an official version were less readily available.  Imagination was less fettered by fact. 

As the official version of 1947 travelled through the firm channel of formal education, its current gained speed and strength.  Hitherto carried mainly through conversation, the 1947 story found its new medium in the more structured hectoring of the classroom.  The most vivid anecdote must fail before the most vapid syllabus.  Moreover, the school teacher's cane is an effective weapon in the armoury of nationalism..."

Do our books and school teachers some times show us the reality like in the picture below?

Artist: Unknown. The New Yorker,  February 19, 1927

(A word on this wonderfully moving cartoon. I keep smiling looking at it. The artist is anonymous. Look at the way the con-artist is pushing the lady down so that she looks through the telescope instead of over it at his hand!)


A review of A G Noorani's 'The Destruction of Hyderabad' from EPW dated May 31 2014:

"...How then can the Sunderlal Report serve as a starting point for rethinking the events of 1947-48? How did such a massive event of violence materialise? How has it remained hidden or denied? For one, it urges us to rethink events on the ground that provided the context for the elite negotiations. Specifically, the Sunderlal Report claims that the “perpetrators” included “individuals and bands of people, with and without arms, from across the border, who had infiltrated through in the wake of the Indian Army”, as well as the members of the Hyderabad State Congress. Who were these armed men and what were they doing in and around Hyderabad?

Mobilisation of Violence

Many of them were members of the State Congress, who established around 79 camps with at least 1,600 men in Indian union territory along the circumference of Hyderabad. They created “border incidents” by acts of sabotage, disrupting rail and telegraph lines, and demolishing customs and police outposts, among other things. This violent campaign was supported by top Congress leaders such as Patel, who ordered the Andhra, Karnataka and Bombay Provincial Congress Committees to aid the militants and drum up propaganda. Perhaps the most important leader to emerge from this movement was the future prime minister, P V Narasimha Rao.."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why It's Hard to Compare Dnyaneshwar With Socrates... तो गुण म्हणजे त्यांचे मार्दव

Today July 19 2013 is Aashadhi Ekadashi (आषाढी एकादशी)

विनोबा भावे:

"...पण ज्ञानदेवाच्या या सगळ्या गुणापेक्षा त्यांच्या ज्या गुणावर मी मोहित आहे,  तो गुण म्हणजे त्यांचे मार्दव, त्यांची विनयशीलता, त्यांची अहिंसा होय. या बाबतीत त्यांची तुलना कोणाशी करावी हेच मला समजत नाही. सॉक्रेटीसाची क्षमा, शांती, अहिंसा प्रसिद्ध आहे. पण दुसर्यांना बोचणारा विनोद तो करू शकत होता...."

('विनोबा सारस्वत', संपादक : राम शेवाळकर, 1993)

{Vinoba Bhave:

"...but the virtue of Dnyandev by which I am more fascinated than the rest of his virtues is his leniency, his humility, his non-violence. In this regard, I don't quite understand who to compare him to. Socrates's compassion, peace, non-violence are well-known but he could  humour that could hurt other people..."

('Vinoba Saraswat', Editor: Ram Shewalkar)]

How true!

The Economist, December 17 2009, "Socrates in America/ Arguing to death" says:

"...The trouble was that, although his students, including Plato and Xenophon, who passed on Socrates’s conversations for posterity, saw him as noble, much of Athens did not. Instead, many Athenians detected an underlying arrogance in Socratic irony. Socrates thus resembled, say, the wiser-than-thou and often manipulative comedian-commentators Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in today’s America. Those who agreed with him found him funny and enlightening. The rest found him merely condescending."

Julian Gough  says in his masterly essay 'Divine comedy' ('Prospect', May 2007):

"...Ah well, this praising of comedy at the expense of tragedy has gone on forever. Let us go back to Greece, before Muhammad, before Christ, and let someone else have the last word. In Plato's Symposium, Aristodemus, a bit pissed, has just woken up to find "… there remained awake only Aristophanes, Agathon and Socrates, who were drinking out of a large goblet that was passed around, while Socrates was discoursing to them. Aristodemus did not hear all the discourse, for he was only half awake; but he remembered Socrates insisting to the other two that the genius of comedy was the same as that of tragedy, and that the writer of the one should also be a writer of the other. To this they were compelled to assent, being sleepy, and not quite understanding what he meant. And first Aristophanes fell asleep, and then, when the day was dawning, Agathon."..."

The scene would have looked something like this:

Artist:  David Borchart, The New Yorker, February 2013

Now there must be four of them- Aristodemus, Aristophanes, Agathon and Socrates. We see only three (Socrates sitting extreme right with an empty chalice in hand). Spot the fourth!

After seeing the picture, it's even harder to compare Dnyaneshwar with Socrates!

Monday, July 15, 2013

If Thought Corrupts Language, Language Can Also Corrupt Thought

 George Orwell:

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better"

Noam Chomsky

"With language, for example, we have very good evidence that for the last 50,000 years there has been no evolution. That is a reflection of the fact that our basic capacities have not evolved."


"(Edward) Snowden explained his actions saying: "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things [surveillance on its citizens]... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded."

Artist: Unknown to me , Source: Facebook

Saturday, July 13, 2013

मोती गळाले...Villains Often Soften...

Alfred Hitchcock:

"The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture."
Michael Levenson:

"So many of Dickens’ fictions start by dividing the world in two, with separate zones of goodness and badness. Then the engine of generosity starts to whirr. Villains often soften; hypocrites relent; misers melt. The more Dickens dwells on any character, the more likely it is to turn toward the light. The deepest urge in his imagination was to invite everyone to the feast of life (“you come too, Mr. Scrooge”), which is why the books conjure an immensity of food: so that there will always be more than enough of everything for everyone, especially enough laughter and ham and happy tears."

Luke Johnson:

" Of course moving pictures are mostly fantasy. Real life is more mundane – even in the executive suite. And it is never as clear-cut as the narrative of a 90-minute screen story. Few of the pictures mentioned are morality tales, and several of the best, such as Citizen Kane or There Will Be Blood, leave questions unanswered. Arguably, the villains are often the most dynamic characters – like Williamson (Kevin Spacey) in Glengarry Glen Ross"

जी ए कुलकर्णी:
"झाडावरूनच ऊबदार, गुळगुळीत कैरी काढावी, ती मुठीनेच फोडून तिच्यावर मीठ- हां , लाल तिखट, हिरवे नव्हे- घालून ती खावी. ते तर अगदीच राहून गेले. आता हे मात्र कधी होणारही  नाही.

कारण तानीमावशी गेली, व जाताना माझी मीठ तिखटाची कैरीच ती आपल्याबरोबर घेऊन गेली."

("कैरी", "पिंगळावेळ", 1977)

[G A Kulkarni:

"One should pluck the warm, smooth raw-mango from the tree itself, it should be broken with  fist only and stuffed with salt- mind you, red chilli, not green- and then be eaten. It remained completely undone. Now, it can never happen again.

Because aunt-Tani went away, and while going, she took along with her my salty-chilli raw-mango."]

Who is the hero of my-childhood-defining Hindi film Vijay Anand's  'Johny Mera Naam', 1970- the film I still keep watching?

Answer: Pran, who plays character called Moti (मोती)/ Mohan in the film. I still know by heart all of Pran's dialogues in the film.

for me, Moti wins hands down!

courtesy: Trimurti Films

Is there a film I didn't like Pran? 

Almost none. For instance:

Azaad (1955), Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960), Dil Hi To Hai (1963), Ram Aur Shyam (1967),  Brahmchari (1968), Sadhu Aur Shaitaan (1968), Sharaabi (1984)...

Upkar (1967), Nannha Farishta (1969), Parichay (1972), Victoria No. 203 (1972), Zanjeer (1973), Bobby (1973), Dharma (1973), Majboor (1974), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)  ...

When Pran became a 'good guy' from a 'bad guy', it was so reassuring. It became easy to be hopeful and optimistic. And when it happened, the good guy on the silver screen looked stronger and more realistic.

Fist my aunt-Taimavashi, then my mother, then Shammi Kapoor and now Pran...my childhood tree of raw-mangoes is almost bare!

But lucky me, I could eat a lot of mangoes- with red chilli stuffing alright- before it happened.