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."

Thursday, December 31, 2015

जो आला तो रमला...भरपूर दुधी हलवा....Cartoonist Gavankar

Silenus

"That the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible."

ग. दि. माडगूळकर:

"...सुटकेलागी मन घाबरते, जो आला तो रमला."
 
 Look at the following cartoon of the late Gavankar (गवाणकर)...I find it so funny and rather deep...


I don't like curry of bottle gourd (दुधी भोपळा) but I like the sweet made out of it called: 'Dudhi Halwa' (दुधी हलवा).

In the picture above, in the top frame, the man is looking at the sign board that says: "फक्त २५ पैशात भरपूर दुधी हलवा" (In only 25 paise, plenty of  'Dudhi Halwa').

Marathi word 'halwa' can mean a sweetmeat- pictured immediately below- or a form of the verb: to shake.

courtesy: Anjali A. Kulkarni, August 2015

As the man walks in (look how happy and excited he looks),  he discovers- as shown in the lower frame- that a bottle gourd is hung.  Next to it is a signboard that says "Please shake the gourd carefully" and tough looking guy is standing there to ensure its compliance.

Now you expect the man to leave disappointed or to argue with the establishment. Instead he is shown shaking the gourd gently!

Isn't life like a "gourd" trap? Once we enter it, we are reluctant to exit it even after discovering  that this is not what we sought.

Happy New Year 2016...

Friday, December 25, 2015

गोठा बाळ जन्मलें....The Star of Bethlehem or Star Wars?

Today December 25 2015 is Christmas

One of the best writing on Jesus I have read is Durga Bhagwat's (दुर्गा भागवत) Marathi essay "christ-sangat" (ख्रिस्त-संगत)- first written for 'Abhiruchi' (अभिरुची), June 1967- now part of her book: 'Paisa' ('पैस', 1970/1988).

She quotes the following poem/ folk song in it.



 This month I saw a brilliant cartoon to coincide with the release of the film 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'


Artist: Mike Lukovich

It's a popular (mis?) conception that the three wise men visited Jesus at the stable on the night of his birth. But here they are shown lining for the blockbuster movie!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oh He's Not a Whale, He's the Devil Himself!...Or Is He?

Herman Melville, 'Moby-Dick', 1851:

"BOOK II. (Octavo), CHAPTER IV. (Killer).—Of this whale little is precisely known to the Nantucketer, and nothing at all to the professed naturalist. From what I have seen of him at a distance, I should say that he was about the bigness of a grampus. He is very savage—a sort of Feegee fish. He sometimes takes the great Folio whales by the lip, and hangs there like a leech, till the mighty brute is worried to death. The Killer is never hunted. I never heard what sort of oil he has. Exception might be taken to the name bestowed upon this whale, on the ground of its indistinctness. For we are all killers, on land and on sea; Bonapartes and Sharks included."


"Io!  Paean!  Io! sing.

     To the finny people's king.

     Not a mightier whale than this

     In the vast Atlantic is;

     Not a fatter fish than he,

     Flounders round the Polar Sea."

     —Charles Lamb's Triumph of the Whale.
 


Captain Ahab: "Oh he's not a whale, he's the devil himself!"

Artist: Zachary Kanin, The New Yorker, October 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

हजार पाचशेतून निवडून काढली आहे...Natyachhatakar Diwakar's GM Bat

Enclosed is a dramatic monologue (DM) on cricket by Natyachhatakar Diwakar (नाट्यछटाकार दिवाकर) dated August 8 1913....so interesting and funny...



It is more than 100 year old but a few of today's issues are touched upon...Decision Review System (did ball touch the bat or not?), quality of bats.....

Bat brand/ manufacturer Gunn & Moore , referred by Diwakar, survives...He calls the bat: दिलजान....what a beautiful word...had not seen it being used in Marathi....he also says bat has the autograph of 'Gunn & Moore'....did he mean logo?

Diwakar says about the bat: हजार पाचशेतून निवडून काढली आहे (Chosen from a thousand / five hundred ones)...It's interesting  Gunn & Moore does have bat selector module on its website. It presents some 10+ screens for you to enter data before it picks out a bat for you!

I went through the process and it chose the following bat for me:

Diwakar would be amused by the process.....I wonder if he were to write the DM today, how he would have gone about it....

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Death Plays Dice...Never Ignoble


Shakuni:

“In any sport involving competition,
the effort to defeat one’s adversary
could be called ignoble, though it never is.
In playing dice, the stronger player tries
to defeat the weaker—that is the game.
If you are afraid, refuse the challenge.”

("17. The Dice Game, II • THE BOOK OF THE ASSEMBLY HALL", 'Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling', 2015 by Carole Satyamurti)




The Seventh Seal, 1957


One of the pivotal scene from Ingmar Bergman's great film 'The Seventh Seal' was inspired by
a medieval church painting:

 'Death playing chess' by Albertus Pictor (1440-1507). 

Location: Täby kyrka, Diocese of Stockholm.

 courtesy: Wikipedia





Artist: Paul Noth, The New Yorker, November 2015

I am guessing here that Mr. Noth is commenting on the terrorism caused deaths around the world (look at the world map)....that includes gun-related deaths in USA....

Friday, December 11, 2015

आयुष्यावर पडदा...Death of Don Quixote: Cervantes and G A Kulkarni

Today December 11 2015 is 28th Death Anniversary of G A Kulkarni (जी ए कुलकर्णी)


Simon Leys writes:

"...The death of Don Quixote in the last chapter is the climax of the entire book. I would challenge any reader, however tough and insensitive, to read these pages without shedding a tear..." ('THE HALL OF USELESSNESS', Collected Essays, 2011)

I have still not read  Cervantes's book but I decided to read the last chapter and it did move me.

But I had already shed the tear for dying Don while reading G A Kulkarni's (जी ए कुलकर्णी) 'Yatrik' (यात्रिक).

GA does not use almost a single word of  Cervantes but I dare say he is no less moving than Cervantes there. He imagines the words that could have been exchanged there as Don lay dying.




courtesy: Popular Prakashan (पॉप्युलर प्रकाशन)



'The Death of Don Quixote', 1902

Sancho Panza peers sadly through the half-open door.  

Artist: William Strang

Sunday, December 06, 2015

लीला गान्धी नाचता नाचता...Golden Jubilee of Kela Ishara Jaata Jaata...केला इशारा जाता जाता


Year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary year of a super-hit Marathi film Anant Mane's (अनंत माने) 'Kela Ishara Jaata Jaata' (केला इशारा जाता जाता).

Although I distinctly remember its huge popularity in Miraj c 1966, I saw the film only in November 2015.

I liked many things about the film, but I was most impressed with the dancing skills of Leela Gandhi (लीला गान्धी)....particularly in the song 'Nachato Dombari Ran Nachto Dombari' (नाचतो डोंबारी रं)

Look at the following snapshot from the song....she actually is balancing on the cable.....Not many film dancers can dare even attempt this....all her dances in the film just blew me away... In your face, Vyjayanthimala!




courtesy: the current copyright holders of the film

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Although 80, Woody Allen Can't Die...

Woody Allen Turns 80 today, December 1 2015...it's hard to believe the man is older than my father, who will turn 80 only next June....

God forbid the death comes looking for him now....but even if he does, he has an an excuse to stay back....

Artist: Harry Bliss

Sunday, November 29, 2015

जाम जड लागतंय हो...Shyam Joshi on His Own Death

Tomorrow November 30 2015 is 15th Death Anniversary of Shyam Joshi (श्याम जोशी), one of the best cartoonists Maharashtra produced.

Independent, UK, September 23 2015:

"...London looks set to host a permanent “Death Cafe”, a coffee shop where people can go to talk about one of life’s most awkward subjects - dying.
Since the Death Cafe movement started in 2011 more than 2,000 popup cafes have sprung up across the world, with the majority opening in this country..."
 
Some how in Maharashtra, we avoid humor around death....I wonder why....Not Shyam Joshi though.

Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) says: "...त्यांच्या व्यंगचित्रातून मृत्यू या विषयावरही पुष्कळ चित्रं आढळतात…" (One finds many pictures on the subject of death among his cartoons.)




Artist: NAF, The Spectator, UK, September 2015


In the following picture, Shyam Joshi imagines his own funeral...wonderfully moving.....

Artist: the late Shyam Joshi  (श्याम जोशी)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Buy Nothing Day

Today November 27 2015 is an international day of protest against consumerism: Buy Nothing Day  BND. Alternatively you may observe it on November 28 2015.


Artist: Steve Cutts

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hesitant Fragile Grace of Two Girls Conversing with God: Louis Malle

Today November 23 2015 is 20th Death Anniversary of Louis Malle.

I have been taken in by the art of Mr. Malle only in recent times.  I have been fortunate to see his Elevator to the Gallows (1958), Atlantic City (1981) etc. but above all I have been charmed by his short documentary films on India: Phantom India (1969).

I have no words to describe his take on 'Kalakshetra'. Watch a part of the film featuring young Indira PP Bora (b 1943) and Jayashree Narayanan here

Listen to the French commentary that is subtitled in English:

"This is India: A worldview we don’t understand, a social heirarchy that puzzles us, an economic reality that shocks us but also the hesitant fragile grace of two girls conversing with God."

                                          Indira PP Bora  and Jayashree Narayanan, c 1968

Friday, November 20, 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today November 20 2015 is Transgender Day of Remembrance

BBC, November 7 2015: "The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is to hire the country's first transgender police officer after a court cleared hurdles that faced one applicant."

"K Prithika Yashini, who was born male but underwent gender reassignment surgery, applied to become a police sub-inspector in the southern state.
But the state police board did not recognise a third gender, leading her to pursue a legal case against it.
A court in Chennai (Madras) has now ruled in her favour..."



Artist: Joan Cornellà 

courtesy: Dangerous Minds

Friday, November 13, 2015

गोविंद बल्लाळ देवल G B Deval@160

Today November 13 2015 is 160th Birth Anniversary of  G B Deval (गोविंद बल्लाळ देवल), the author of 'Sangit Sharda' (संगीत शारदा), 1899.

"...श्रीमंत : तर मग माझं वय किती असावं बरं ?

शाम : श्रीमंतांचं वय जवळ जवळ तिशीच्या पुढें आणि बत्तिशीच्या आंत; फारच झालं तर बत्तिशी पार पडली असेल !

श्रीमंत : इतकंच, इतकंच, बरं जा, जोडी आणि पाक आणून दे. ( शाम जातो. ) हा म्हणतो बत्तीस, मी म्हणतों चाळीस ! तरी कांहीं म्हातारा नव्हे, बत्तिशी पडली असं ऐकून आलं, तेव्हां म्हटलं या शाम्याला आमचं वर्म कळलं ! पण नाही, चला आतां थोडा व्यायाम करूं. ( उठूं लागतो ) ओय ! ओय ! ओय ! पण ही कमरेची वळ कधीं राहणार ? चोरून शेकतों, तेल चोळतों, तरी कमी होत नाहीं..."



“Darling, what—kachoo—difference does age—kachoo—make anyway?”

Artist: George Petty, Esquire, 1933

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

पंडितराव खाडीलकर...My Toy Soldier Day is Today...Diwali

Diwali is my Toy Soldier day.

Panditrao Khadilkar (पंडितराव खाडीलकर), a lifelong bachelor, was our family friend at Miraj (मिरज). He used to stay in a single room in my friend's wada (वाडा) about a hundred meter from our house.

He had free access to any part of our small house and even when father wasn't around he used to joke and chat with our mother as she worked in the kitchen. She and we kids always used to pull his legs but he took it gamely or so we always thought.

Panditrao, that's what we all called him,  worked at chemistry lab of Willingdon College, Sangli. I could read lots of Marathi books because of him as he borrowed them from the college library.

He used to visit his brothers in Mumbai and Pune for Diwali. In 1980 (I think), he was traveling to Mumbai by train to be with his brother for Diwali. As the train stopped after Thane for some reason, he got down from it and started walking towards Mulund. We heard the same train knocked him to death as he was crossing the rail tracks. He was apparently carrying ghee from Miraj which was famous for all its milk products. They said the same ghee was poured on his funeral pyre.

For many years, Panditrao used to give us kids small gifts. One such gift was a toy soldier of clay. I don't remember the year but he bought it during urus of Samsuddin Mira Saheb. That toy soldier, 'huge' in stature, was my prized possession for many years. I still remember his face, his built, his weapon, his green fatigues. Every year I used to mount him on Diwali fort we used to build at home. He was a complete misfit standing next to Shivaji-maharaj (शिवाजी महाराज) and his saber/spear holding lieutenants.


  courtesy: Toy Story page on Facebook

Sunday, November 08, 2015

आमचे डुमडुमातून पलायन...Was It Fear or Relief 25 Years Ago in Assam?


Ignoring the wisdom of the crowd, I went to Assam to work for a transnational FMCG giant in July 1989. I have referred to my stay in the east from time to time on this blog.

Today November 8 2015 is 25th anniversary of the event that shook middle class foundations of our lives.

Apparently under the death threat  by The United Liberation Front of Assam, we were evacuated from Upper Assam, with the help of India's defense forces, on the morning of November 8 1990

My wife who was not keeping well and I remember almost every minute of that day.  

The Indian Airlines flight that was supposed to take us from Sookerating airport to Kolkata developed a snag. A spare part for it was carried by another commercial plane and by the time we reached Kolkata, it was dark.

Media had gathered outside the airport. We were told not to open our mouths. We were whisked away to a city five star hotel.  Then there was a rumor that the ULFA gunman had reached the hotel and so were taken to the company guest house not too far from the hotel. 

If the electronic media then were to be anything like today's, I would be famous for more than 15 minutes.


 


 courtesy: Frontline, December 8-21 1990


p.s. Despite so much of turmoil in Assam and our lives, the cover of the Frontline has heart-rending images of Punjab and there is no mention of Assam!

There is a message in it: It's perspective and proportion, stupid!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Shit Happens: History, Science, Mythology...

Mr. Chtan Bhagat tweeted on October 30 2015:

"What do historians do? I am genuinely curious. This happened. Then this happened. Then this. Ok work done for the day."

This made a lot of people angry.

If you too have a view on the above, you may find following interesting.

John Horgan is writing about the late Stephen Jay Gould, November 2 2015:

"....Gould noted during our interview that many scientists do not consider history—which resists reduction to general principles, such as evolution by natural selection--to be a science. "I think that's a false taxonomy. History is a different type of science." Gould found the fuzziness and contingency of history exhilarating. "I love it! That's because I'm an historian at heart."
By transforming evolutionary biology into history--an intrinsically subjective, interpretive discipline, like literary criticism--Gould makes it uniquely suited for someone with his vast rhetorical skills. If the history of life is a bottomless quarry of largely random events, he can keep mining it, verbally cherishing one odd fact after another, without ever fearing that his efforts have become trivial or redundant.
Whereas most scientists seek to discern the signal underlying nature, Gould keeps drawing attention to the noise. After all, punctuated equilibrium is not really a theory; it is a description of noise. Gould’s view of life can be summed up by the old bumper-sticker slogan: Shit happens."

Mr. Horgan calls history  "an intrinsically subjective, interpretive discipline, like literary criticism".

And what about science?



Freud to Einstein: “...Does not every natural science lead ultimately to this—a sort of mythology? Is it otherwise today with your physical sciences?...”


Artist: Warren Miller,  The New Yorker, March 9 1963