Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Language Love

Call it all bilge, but every language has its own personal delight of usage. Each one of them brings its own signature set of ideas, expressions, locutions and a constitutional curiosity while spoken out. It's difficult to see any foreign language in the same light as you would do to your mother tongue, and that's where the beauty lies. You develop a singularly new inner voice with each language you learn, for many of the expressional experiences and subtle nuances of one language can't be translated to another.

In childhood, I used to love Hindi, knowingly or unknowingly. Not that I was found of Hindi Literature or was a high-scorer, but because Hindi would often surprise me by furnishing words that could easily dissolve and evoke certain complex feeling of mine, hitherto inaccessible--like the way hot winds carve out sharp sand dunes over the desert. For example, the word 'dampati' means a married couple, but it is often used in comic, tongue-in-cheek manner, such as when you have to crack a joke on a couple's slapstick antics, or on the mundaneness of their internal life. I learnt this word and I "tagged" many couples around my family, and giggled inside. Then the words 'dampati' and 'jhagraa' (fight) would often appear together, and I would consider them under a single cluster-thought. Why should both of them so near to each other? They need not be, it was just so because that's how it was used around me. I raised no questions either. Those who do, tend to become highly creative, lateral thinkers. Creativity is just about connecting disparate disciplines/subjects which conservatively don't mix well.
Nevertheless, that's how with time you learn to form an association of words together, which later ferments your language-sensibility and overall thinking mindset and world-view. An idea cloud grows as your vocabulary grows. And your thought process flows only to the peripheral confinement of these self-made word-nodes that you've "learnt" in life hitherto--true to their core. That is, you are essentially confined to think, reason and perceive the world based on the limits of your vocabulary. 

Every word represents and encompasses a strictly irreplacable idea on its own.
Please dump the fucking Thesaurus.


I learnt the word 'budhiya' (old woman) way earlier when I was still sucking thumb in my mouth, but I was then also told not to use it for my own grandma or the elderly aunties. It always used to be either for that "other" person, some old lady on the roadside--that I won't be knowing of personally--or for the story-writing that I would have to do in school. Hindi surprised me again. This is the other sort of discovery of childhood everyone makes somewhere along the way--that most things and people have referential duality meant to deceive the words they are labelled by. And no way saying 'old woman' in English could substitute the figurative pleasure of imagining a 'budhiya' in Hindi, until unless you know specific words such as: 'termagant', 'harridan', 'crone', 'hag'... whatever closest it could be. But that's not the common colloquial English. That's the multiplicity you have to bear with while  practicing two languages in abundance--one the mother tongue and the other that everyone else says that its everyone else's tongue and you are supposed to master it [English].

Nonetheless there used to be many savouring discoveries like the ones mentioned earlier in the growing years. The just way of learning the language as an art; in its pristine form. But I didn't use and pursue the Hindi words much, didn't pursue my 'inner-voice' and interest of learning new terms (ideas) and giggling while using them, and that's why my Hindi is rickety weak now.

Early years you would also have learnt phrases such as 'gusse se tilmilana' (extreme rage) in your list of difficult words in the Hindi textbook, but those times you can't use it upfront to describe your dad's violent rage. Or hardly did. The word was always meant for your school study book. Always to be written as-is during make-sentences-of-the-following-phrases assignments. The study of language and literature in early years suffers from this duality. Just see how much of words from the lyrics of beautiful Bollywood Songs people actually use in their conversations. Not all of them are too lyrical to be of daily use.

And then Sanskrit shook my life. Sanskrit came and it appeared what Hindi would look just before committing suicide. It was forceful and aggressive, demanding extra effort in all of its verbs and nouns and phonology and what else. It was a loose baggage of crawling, pointy characters that aberrated the admirable compactness of Hindi. In writing as well as speech. Ask anyone the perils of studying Sanskrit in higher classes and s/he would've story to tell. S/he would be either a hit or miss. 

I missed the beauty of the language. 

After bungling with Sanskrit for few years, and realizing the future inevitability of looming English, my solidarity for Hindi grew a million times.

There's one thing Hindi has given to people that's too subtle to realize. You've the word 'Jantaa' in Hindi for 'public', and 'Jaagruk' for 'enlightened'.  Note that both start with the same letter 'j'. Needless to say, words starting with same consonant occasionally club together as distant lovers. It gives a lyrical swing to the sentence or the idea. The commenest of the Common Sense of a language. Look at the these phrases: Lady Luck, Tinkered Thought, Memento Mori, Perilous Plight, Part n Parcel etc. These coupling phrases have a greater impact than what would it have been without the ryhming first letter. 


So there you have the word 'Jaagruk', which is often used in Hindi to mention some sense of awakening of a being. The vernacular is ripe with its usage and cliche. However ask any native about this and the picture s/he gets of word is that of collectiveness and bordering out of the periphery of the self. That's because it is more too often used alongwith 'Jantaa' , or any other bloated rhetorical construction. Pardon my expertise in this, but I've rarely heard 'Jaagurk' in use for another construction in the common parlance. 
Just to test, start talking in Hindi --about a topic themed around 'Jantaa' for one minute long, and someway or the other you would jump to the idea of 'Jaagrukta' (enlightenment) in your line of thought after a while...like an ant eventually finding its way to food after several iterative paths. Such realizations take time to settle inside your head. You are "wired" to think a certain way, based on all the words that you have only learnt/known, and the language leaps you into the word web you've woven for yourself --if you are not conscious enough to break through.
Similarly, think of the term aadmi (Man/Individual). The cloud of image that pops up in your head when you would start thinking around this term would invariably subsume the phrase aam aadmi (Common Man), because you are used (wired) to view it that way.

Hindi has given us that elegance in expression which allows us to float above the central idea of fact being stated, and savour in its longitudinal craft, rounded vowels and tense phonetics (credit also goes to the import of grace of Urdu). Hindi has given us the structural closeness of 'Bura' with 'Bhala'--a folksy illusion--which 'good' and 'bad' lack in English. Hindi has so much of a romantic word as 'Lamhaa' (a moment's time), without meaning romantic; Hindi has given us 'Jaagruk Jantaa'.

:)

Image: Flickr

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sparks. Committed To.

A spark flew from there to there*
Unbecoming, unfinished and undone
It coasted and it sought no direction
Nor did it find some cement to adhere
As we sat and we watched it together, 
Watched it shedding its own dominion.

Perhaps it strayed off on this shore
From some rabid wind-buffetted flame
And she said 'Go douse it before...'
'Before it can become a fire a fiend'
But I thought, 'Why to? What For?'

For some Sparks outlive themselves
And it wasn't one of those for sure.

A Spark flew from there to there; And it lay 
Like those inconspicuous Sparks instead
Which shoots up within us every other day.

The Spark within us
Of an obvious but ever-renewed prosaic idea 
Of cageless passion and the hint of a rainbow
Of a romantic intuition and unfathomed areas
Of sincere reproach and disowned choked ego
Of all imaginative love and wellspring-ed will
Of fresh energies and flashes of clairvoyance,
The Spark within us
Of the dawn of a slightly different tomorrow.

'I should try this, I should visit there'
'I should explore more, I must ask her'
'I should quit here, I should start anew'
'I must learn lots, I should be more hued'
But none of these or suchlike, we ever do.

And which all Sparks wither more too often
Less for the need for daily bread,
And more for the need for greed
Oh this Lazy Ass! Oh this Dickless Snobbery!
It leaves us grim and gormless, 
And it leaves us criminally bare
But Hey wait! I've grown out of this snare
Which is what I try telling her.

The Spark that flew from there to there
This she said not I...
I just sat there close to it, close to her
But for me, both -- She and the Spark,
Seem to be unattainable...
Both of whom I wish to be committed to,
Forever...


*This line is not mine.

Image: Flickr

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book: Known Turf



Few days back I had my turn with an eclectic read --'Known Turf' by Annie Zaidi.

The book on the whole had a mooring effect on me. In parts, I found it as one of those rare reads which manages to connect with the confused middle-class twenty-something youths (like me). Confused between the liberal upbringing we've received, and the larger hard-lined realities which, if ever had touched us --it was only intermittently, like reaching in waves.

Dalits in Punjab, Value system in Dacoits' lives and families, Exploring Sufism, Displacement, Identity-crisis, Weavers of Benaras and many more --Annie has covered a wide gamut of subjects in her book --and shuffling through each section unfolded a separate shimmy world in itself for me; petal by petal to a bloom. 

I liked the way she talks about the life and times of Dacoits using Bollywood's Sholay, Dushman etc as point of reference, and especially parts which come out as personal memoirs...such as the place where she felt queasy while calling the 'legendary' dacoits such as Raghuveer Singh Gussi or Lokman Dixit (Lakku Daaku) --the ruthless murderers in their hey days --as 'Baba', while meeting them in person. This was amusing and unique. Through the reportage I got to learn about Bandits and Dacoits sans their comic aroma, that is in a way I or most of the current growing generation hadn't read before.

I loved reading about Sufism and Sufi shrines, especially at places where Annie gets Sufi defined as "anyone who stood against caste, and stood for humanity, could be called Sufi", or where someone tells her: "Sufism offered us an alternative reality of Punjab, one which is not talked about..."

I also loved the tender descriptions Annie presents of cities like Allahabad and Patna. There's an unindulgent delight that comes while reading miniature details of life at places you've yourself grown up. And one advantage of having grown up in a small town is that you remain aware how impersonal a larger monster of a city would always be. 

While reading about the rickshaws in Bihar that the author describes about with good charm and amusement, I was reminded of the scene from the movie Haasil (set in UP, India) --where the gorgeous heroine is riding at a vulnerable place in a rickshaw, a loud goudy rickshaw full of bling and baubles and tassels, and she feels so embarrassed from the shrill and, sort of jolly jingling caused by the decorations, that finally she grows too self-conscious and reprimands the rickshaw-puller:

"Itti saari ghantiya lagaane ki kya jarurat thi, lagtaa hai dashahre ki jhaaki jaa rahi hai..."
(What's the fucking need of putting so much bling around, seems like I'm the  joker of a festive procession)

-To which the rickshaw-puller replies, in a typical crude insouciant (Bihari) style:
"Arre! Rickshaw jawan hai, sajayenge nahi to rooth naahi jaayegi. Aaein..."
(Whoa! My Rickshaw darling is young, if I don't adorn her, won't she be furious? You hear?)
:)

Besides, I also liked the shriveled-up train journey descriptions (having experienced similar fate), and Annie's unselfconscious search for identity, and her quest for defining 'home', as accurately as possible; such a conny little word it is. 
Her stories stand as worthy cultural mouthpieces of the times, with a capital bit of warmth and humor.
And her writing did to me what any sincere piece of writing does; it refreshed my sense of the world around.


Way To Go.

PS: Great that I managed to meet Annie at the book lunch and get a Signed Copy :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Demons Washing Out

Epictetus once said "...that your son is sick, not that he may die of it." I don't think many people (would) get this right. The implied ignorance is deceptive, while the impossibility is a worthy, smug feeling -- like being always sure in mistaking paradise for that Home across the road. And what people end up with is a stewed over mess. They don't realize that in their daily dosage of anxiety and fear and the verisimilitude of uncertainty itself, someone plays the anchoring role to keep them tight. Someone without whom no accomplishment will be worth a penny, let alone the pearl. Demons.

Now I don't hold nothing against the Demons when they come to hurt me; when they deliver to me something as inscrutable and as out-worldly as I'm going to tell you about. It appears that as they come and go; they become a delicate cocktail of your dissolute life - just as your morning floss and evening yawns are, just as your favorite peg and joints and smokes nail you down to your basic instincts. They make you feel like a man. They are the one's who keep you humble and grounded, the one's who shake you up from your amnesia of relentless self-love, the one's who help you to raise high and wave you flag of rebelliousness, if ever you want to.

So it happened that not very long ago my Facewash and my Laptop landed up together and decided to have a feud. As you wonder what has it got to do with Demons, you are mistaken, and you need to be sanitized. See, even demons come in variety now. Great product-mix. Demons inflict your good luck charm and disturb the normal ascent of your libido. Demons churn up your mundane assumptions and keep you on the edge. There was absolutely no fucking reason why my Lappy interfere with my cosmetic indulgences, no fucking explanation why they landed up in the same travelling backpack, and overpower each other. But Demons, here they come. The bag was traveling in high speed with me; the laptop, with its useful weight, pounded over the baby Facewash gruesomely; which in turn, with all its tenacious will --puked. Not at the front cover, not at the back casing, but right inside into the screen. Guess who won then.

The demon did its job well; 9k bucks it got from me for the laptop repair, as I still wonder of Facewash's novel prospects of usage for pouring it over to cause a crash-Laptop (can make up a great Ad, if you include a smiling blonde to do it for you). But in between the Demon also made me realize that I'm so homogeneously promiscuous when it comes to money and my possessions and my love for them. And my love for loved-once. Fuck it.


These deferential Demons -- as I must address them, are the ones who wretch your own glamorized sense of self-importance, ones which make you more than the sum of your parts. It reminds you of your finite existence, and your childish limits of showcasing modesty. "Don't be so modest, you are not that good" -- sometimes I want to scream it aloud to as many as possible. Because earnestness and modesty are like those Mannequins standing in the still and glitter of the shops. Liked for exhibitionism, but not loved. For they can't do anything.

Stoicism pays. Demons are bonafide change-agents of fortune. Because chances of Misfortune is as much of worth as is the Fortune itself. Because it causes sadness to seep within you.
Because sadness in graceful. Because sadness is so fucking real, so less superficial, so much human.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grounded At The Lord's Game

Sometime back I got into a directionless debate with a friend of mine, AG. For the sake of few juvenile friends, me and AG both often have to grind pompous topics together, topics that don't really relate well :-) AG is great guy to be around with, the one with whom you can argue endlessly without bothering who is right or wrong. And that goes in everything.
Here's what we were conspiring:

AG: Yeh icerocket kya hai.... ICeRoCKET mein bhi mujhe sada hua cricket dikhta hai ;) [referring to the lesser known website: icerocket.com; and that hidden in these words is that bogus game of Cricket. He hates Cricket, maybe more than cockroaches, or maybe more than the dirty nose-hairs too]

Me: Cricket sada hua hoga tere liye. Huh [Cricket will be BS for you only.]

AG: Cricket leads to lower productivity for this country... Had people be not as fanatic about cricket as they are...India would have had higher GDP and better per capita income.. And the people would be more competitive with the rest of the world. It also leads to more divide in the country...esp after IPL...as if the country wasn't fragmented enough...It's such a sad sight to see flocking around electronic shops and putting a pause to their work. Ban cricket :) Isliye mein cricket nahi dekhta...(That's why I don't follow Cricket). Maybe we can have this as a debate topic next session ;)

Me: Thou shal be hobbled with chains and inflicted at the Gates of Sepulchura that opens up the dreaded Hell, to let know all the cursed, incarcerated witches of perdition present there -- of what a grave transgression thou had committed once, against humanity and all its followers, against the pantheons of faith -- by denouncing something as gentlemanly and as divine as the Holy Cricket itself...Amen. Truth shal behold.

AG: Don't think I got scared after your mail last evening or that I had a new-found-affinity for cricket ;)

Me: I know I know, you've no dread whatsoever for your reprehensible act of denunciation against that Holy Spirit's Game...May all the world's cricket-lover's cuss afflict you till your last cry of mercy. Amen.

AG: All holy things in this world suck... that's why they exclaim... Holy shit or Holy crap...

Me: Poor boy thou are ill-omened with a sullied eye in this pure virginal Holy world...that's why thou reckon that all of it sucks...Lord bless.

AG: And God said...Let there be light...But poor god didn't realize that people would shut their eyes on seeing the light. Hence the blind refer to the world as "pure virginal Holy world" Then god created hope (a four lettered word)... So that people keep hoping that lord would bless the world some day. Alas! Even the lord knows that he will never bless the world; but its a good ego-massage for him when people exclaim, "Lord bless"...

Me:
And if only could people realize that light deceives as much as it evinces... as much as it blazes shamelessly.
And if only could they sense the stipples and reflections of their mental eye too... eyes that could actually dream. Unparalleled.
And if only could they come out of their fatalist mindset to rediscover most of the things 'taught' to them, which they never quite really explored themselves...
And if only could they learn to etch away the impassioned dogma their mundane routines are moored to... from the hopeless hope to the overflowing ego.
And if only could they leave aside, for a moment, their crusty cynic sense of scrutiny for all that they care enough about...
Then only...the Good Lord proclaimed -- the people shall see -- a "pure virginal Holy world" -- in even the flip of a bee's wings, or in the wisps of smoke, or in the blindness of a thunder-lightnings...Amen.
---

Pretty mindless those statements are. Forget them. So yesterday Pakistan won the T20 World Championship. I'm low I badly wanted it to be Sri Lanka. However, come to think of it. A nation with a tottering democracy, leaving its home soil behind, looking down upon the world's best-of-the-best wholesomely, managed to lift the heavy cup at -- the Lord's. Even the words tend to arrange themselves mystically sometimes.
When the distrusted countrymen get even a single bright day to stand up high, to cheer out loud with a collective smile -- then, in a sweeping flash, it rubs off every little blight of anarchism, of failing nation-leaders. Just like the god's whispering in your dreams at night -- for the more religious among us, whispering a hope for the better tomorrow. Or like your neighbors --
for the less religious among us, suddenly extending before you those hesitant hands of trust, with an unfailing like-mindedness, unbeknownst heretofore. That's the realm of Cricket, for you, dear.

Image: From the book titled same. Note that this post has got no relation to the book.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

When Miss K Outstripped Me...

The first lessons of professionalism I learnt were...not here. Not here in office.

I learnt it from my house-maid. 

It was at home, back in the days when studies meant getting some time off the rigorous play schedules, and schools meant
a place to sit and conspire and hunt for potential crushes. Our maid was, well let me stand up in reverence and say... Miss K was quite like -- a deep-chilled ice-tea, a deceptive hard fried-toast, a Britney rock-star in her tiny frolicking skirts and broom, a starlet for all her fella workers, a Lara croft on her tomb raider mission, a girl with a villainous chuckle, a maid in prime form...well I pass, she was more than the sum of them all.

Never in her fledgling career Miss K would've had her mistress whipping her ass off and she letting it go without a storm, a soap-opera episode. Never there was a day when she hadn't made her yells register in each corners of her workplace -- unfortunately my home. But what would she do, dirt befriended her so much so that she must leave a trail everywhere. She would just dither and wiggle around the rooms, like a mice on an ultimate safari in a refugee camp. For her little age, order in a home was still something precocious to understand. And she made sure, with a steely conviction, that rooms be left beautifully shabby. Yes that's the first work discipline -- thou must make yourself conspicuous wherever you work, even if you aren't doing anything useful (or just anything, for the faint-hearted).  

Miss K was one unfailing prima donna of her art, the soul-love queen of her many workplace kingdoms. She just loved to snivel, fight, run, stomp, snatch, throw, pose, overhear, cry, complain, cajole, croon, curse, care, chill, cringe, cram, cower -- all dutifully in one single visit of an hour or two, with a meticulous regularity of everyday that would even make Forrest Gump shy. Which brought me to my other lessons. Thou must stick to your basic instincts however red-tape your work-processes are. Thou must trust your every little emotion you affect at the workplace, they never lay wasted. Imagine the last time you winked at the receptionist, or the time when you growled unnoticing your boss was behind. My son, they project you as a calm victor, a sentinel of your own liberty. Decency also has a limit, like indecency.


Miss K also acted with a lot of carte blanche. She never flinched from 'owning' any household material, from the sofa cushions to her TV cartoons to the uninvited lunch and dinners. Don't get me wrong here. A sense of ownership and authority is the first sign of a noisy harmony, of a blinded belonging and of unconstipated relationships -- that can be cherished in no other way. That's something about organisational behaviour for you. That's also something about pride and possessiveness you own for your work, however much you loath it. Miss K also milked her feminist rights to the best of her imagination. If she had known, she would've surely celebrated, in those steamy times as it were, had Bill Clinton not been acquitted in the Monica Lewinsky lawsuit. Or better if she was just aware how to reach court for her own little scourges. Miss K was the easiest one to get in trouble with undoubtedly the most pacifist kind of her gender-counterpart. Oops! ignore this part as any learning, no one is perfect after all.

Everyday Miss K and I would run into some kind of a crusade. A scientific surety it was. Let alone her mom who replaced
her occasionally on duty, Miss K commanded a huge patronage even from my mom -- owing to her tiny age and tinier build, which elevated her to a princess of cuteness persona. Lets take just one example. Having found my books displaced to a new kind of disorder, hitherto unknown to me, I lost no second for a, well -- legitimate (wasn't it) scowl...
"Why the hell do you touch my books" That was like clipping a bomb's fuse. Poor me, I wallowed at my success for the last time.

"Books? Which books? I don't know any books..." She retorted with missiles "How could I move those big things? And
when do you open them really. I touch them more than you do. You don't even carry them to the school. Do you know how heavy they are? It's me who grapples with your burdens each day. And I know what you do at school without books. Teach me at least I'll be better than you." I was reduced to my illiterate alter ego by then.

Without any letting up, she soon reeled into my mom..."Malkini, he doesn't even let me touch the bookshelf, how can I work
here. Ask your kid to go away when I'm in. Ask why is he tearing them away. If I had them I would grace them prim at least..."

So there I was, an educated, more mature of the two -- succumbing to this midget, unschooled, noisy creature...creature with a monumental attitude. Get the picture
right. She mentioned all things genuine and she was just being herself. And here's the last lessons for you. Thou must know how to correct your counterpart, with right kind of resources, before you can afford to engage in all of such a tirade. Thou must show your partner the bright part of yours and of everything around, even in combats.

But a thing troubles me. Miss K might have been happy primming her books, but she would've been little less so if made to rote in the classrooms instead of crafting wizardry with her brooms. Maybe that's why her mom didn't send her school, for a moment if we forget she didn't have money for it. Maybe the likes of Miss K just know how bootless the education system is. Maybe education just becomes too trivial against their universal adeptness in handling people and workplaces. Miss K was not just a maid -- a class of profession we ignore  so easily; instead Miss K was a maven, a model of every worker's desire.

Image: Gutenberg

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Curious Case of S...

"I liked most the role of Amitabh B..."
"What?"

"Kya bhaiyya kitna accha to woh autograph diya tha..." (WTF bro, I liked the way he signed the
Autograph...)

Mocked one of them with a rebellious laugh, and we were not sure whether to probe him further
for a more serious answer. Poor doting hearts of ours.

Drawing their tetchy attention for a post-movie
sitting wasn't easy at the first place. But we were curious. Maybe a little over-thought. As if whatever their reaction be, it must be an unspoken verdict, an imprimatur to our own understanding of the movie-drama-elevating-the-reality. After all they breathe at places of those kinds. After all it's raining Oscars now.

But there were others in the group, who preferred to see something else in the movie. That day...

It has ended. Coming out into the light from the faintly inspired cinema hall that was scrolling the credits by now, I could see the contended it-was-just-a-movie smiles on most of the faces. Smiles with evident forgettable casualness. No feel-goodness. And I thought "Oh, even better, maybe".

An year and more of experience with them was enough Not to surprise me on this. Who says theirs is a lesser world. Them apart, at their age we ourselves would've nicely sunk into a lot of awesomeness that we would've found in the movie - from the animated game-show glitz to the teenage looting adventures in the trains. "It was good, but fir se nahi dekhungi..." (not watch-able again) -- One muted girl among them had muted. But that wasn't all.

The yawning group sat united finally. Sunken, edgy. Fiddling with everything they could sight. Thrown to them were several lines of views -- questionnaire -- to quickly unfurl all that the theatre has dozed them with, before they could peacefully forget it. Dump it, just as they fling away most of the draggy preaching we fill them with.

And we quizzed:


All your three Scenes special...
Any Jamal around you quite real?
The character you would play,
Recall & Imagine & Recall & Say.

Etc etc.

"Salim!"..."Why?"..."Didi he was a good friend, uska dosti dikha nahi, dhoka diya bahut jagah but he was a good friend didi (unappreciated friendship, easy betrayal)"...

"I have a friend bhaiya, hero hai ho"..."Really?"..."Yes bhaiya, he din't have paisa to study. Himself earned some money. Then exam diya and topped...Accha dost bhi hai."

"So only class toppers can be good heroes? See Jamal."..."No bhaiya! Salim bhi hai na."..."But he did so many wrong things too."..."So what didi, brave tha ho, kitna daring tha usmein (Salim dared to live full)..."

And much more. Prior to all this movie-going, most of my team-mates had loved to claim: "It was something they can relate to..." But I was a little sceptical. Wrongly enough. "Just Movie? We need more around." I thought "They need an identity out of it..." Rightly enough.

***

There were few who had objected on screening the movie to our group of slum kids, for the outright graphic and gory content exhibited in it...content we safely consider we shouldn't have seen ourselves while being a kid. But I vouched:

That let's face it. That we are not tipping the kindergarten kids here, instead these young guns are the ones who face realities much murkier than the well-to-do 15-year-olds are consigned to be; and who need to grow more mature than their age allows them to be, unfailingly.

That further to it, consider the likes of Ghajini on one hand and Raaz on the other (which is also an A-rated movie and few kids here have already seen it, to our surprise) - these movies come with loads of good-and-evil confection - from the sumptuous display of rage by a cult perfectionist, to the as-senseless-as-sensual mystery marked with adroit performances (Bipasha).

That not that we should do the least imperative of things by mindlessly promoting any such movies to them; but undoubtedly too, this is their (kids) formative age to learn to sieve out the good virtues from the obvious bad; to see through most of the junk temptations of teenage years; and to rise through their inner poverty of self first than looking around on their street corners. While standing at the periphery, if we can enable these kids to appreciate where any such movie falls out in relation to their own life, then we have substantially met our goal isn't it? (Movie-watching is of course something all of them follow rather keenly).

That as far as Slumdog M...itself is concerned, well the movie isn't just about the fancy escapism cinema. SM is an idea, a concept that conflicts tradition, a lateral view so outreaching that - neither slum dwellers nor the elites, equally, would ever conceive of if left to themselves. SM risks of playing with the clichéd romanticism associated with poor and the poverty, but it does that with some tenderness and lyricism that can only bring novelty in the thoughts of the positive minds of tomorrow.

For the
kids, SM holds a window to the different ways of imagining their own world, to the mere idea that their struggle could bring in a glimmer to the life -- life beyond the-dispirited-self-indulgence many westerners are used to conceive of. Through SM they could watch the downfall of a gainful illusion that outsiders had about them, about India and about its ghettos -- as someone said -- that of gurus or Gandhi; that of cows or cobras; that of wedding or outsourcing... All in a Cinderella like fairy-tale and through the shtick of a film-maker.

Monday, February 16, 2009

When Rajini Isn't Miffed...

Few days back I had to hastily put down around 100-150 words just on a given word. The term was quite amusing in itself to write, if not unthinkable. Interesting it is that almost any single word shouldn't be 'interesting' in itself for someone to write on it. Instead you can make it prosper that way.

Neither should the word represent any pompous concepts like those you and your classmates used to debate in school competitions - with ready made ideas and cookie-cutter arguments:
Westernisation is modernisation without formalisation of govt. regularisation and this realization of true liberation facilitates the ideation of essential democratisation in the grand old civilization of our nation...(And my school judges in this debate will be awarding me marks for pissing off at the westernisation so that I can win the prize money and buy that red floral tube top with matching heels for my cocktail party tonight...)

OK pardon me none of my the girls debated like that in my school and fortune had it that none wore any skimpy red floral tube top with the matching heels ever, till I breathed last there.

So coming back from digression, they gave me the word 'Miffed' - yes, that old verbal cousin of 'Irritated' - and here's an extended version of what I had written down there:

Miffed: Oh! I never knew you had this quirky little thing in you...Wow you can talk to us words too!

Rajinikanth: AHaa! I can burn a fire. I can drown the fish. I can kill two stones with one bird. I can do anything. Mind it! Tell me what you need help for? Tell raja.

M: Sir I'm little worried. No a lot worried. And I am so helpless about it.

R: Aiyyo. What's bothering you?

M: I am being overtly used by some morons in this world. Shamelessly. People...I mean even the most sinless among them...have no control abusing what I mean and what I stand for...I am not the spittoon for all their miseries, and for their mercurial self.

R: I know, that doesn't sup rise me much. But why people use-abuse a little sweet-sounding word like you so much? See, I keep smiling all the time.

M: Sir you are different, there's a charm even in your angst, even when you feel me. And as for me, I am not just a word - I am an idea, an extension. I feel like I am the provocateur, the floodgate of all the evil.

R: Raja, don't torture yourself. You come as a natural thought to me, to everyone - and you are our necessity. Have you felt like this for always, for every being?

M: Not it was so always, nor it is with everyone. Even my playful cousin "Irritated" has a quite life with few minds...less bounden with the daily banalities of their affair. But not everyone.

R: Then?

M: You know, centuries back in the renaissance France, it was vulgar to look busy***. We used to live so effortlessly. No overwork, no sunken faces staying "miffed" all the time, for every penny issue.

R: Aiyyo. How come there was no evil then? I would've been unemployed there...

M: No! Not that everyone did, but it was just entrenched in their culture, in the masses - that to be composed is the surest sign of nobility and grace. Otherwise people there still hideously fought against their dignity, and fought brutal. Call it a disbelief if you would like to.

R: So remaining laid-back was in their ideology. And not all followed it...Ha ha. Do you mean that?

M: Nope. I mean it's about avoiding me in the most arresting of times, in resisting me when I am most tempting to these beings. Even so many laid-back minds stay quite mature, if you look that way.

R: Aiyyo. If I were a child I would ask you - that why do you flinch from sneaking into our feelings?

M: Because I'm a sparing treasure. I am like a rare tiny green emerald-gem that has been gifted to everyone. Effective as much less used. Ineffective without light.

R: What light?

M: Light of the smart self-knowingness in a person, that I am just a passable state-of-mind. Light of the realisation that I can't rule his/her temper long forever. And if (s)he can't remain sensible while still using me...then I am ruined...and (s)he too.

R: Uff. That was heavy. OK tell me...don't you detest "Calm" - your anti? The word that everyone just forces to love.

M: I don't know. It seems there's a cold war between us. We've never talked. Maybe she'll give all the airs of superiority to me. These citadels of goodness virtues mostly appear in biblical papers and idealism lectures. And...

R: Eh?

M: ...And there she receives a starry red-carpet reception, as if every time she is something new, in all her sumptuous revealing gown of sexy wisdom-ness. As if nobody knew her heretofore. I am the one much more moored to the reality, the one most unsexy.

R: Listen Raja. If I didn't experience you, if I haven't realized you, I would've never known how important 'calm' can be. She relies on you for all her daily bread. Raja she is your protégé in one sense...

M: Is it you who's saying so?

R: You mind it! Even all my villains know this by now. You know their standards have really risen over the time! Now they are so slick bastards with bountiful of temperament. They have this whole halo-effect around them - its their heroism, its deceit.

M: What? Even 'Calm' can be deceitful! Appalling.

R: Yes Raja. It all depends on which soul manifests you people, and your idea. Me or my villains.

M: You and your villains - you all remain different - steeped so far away from the ordinary routines. Sir I'm fearful, I don't want to become another worn-out cliché, stripped of identity in the crowd. What you say allays all my pain. Is it really true?

R: Aiyyo. I am Rajinikanth, I am truth. You worry not. You would never stand alone betrayed. 'Calm' is there for you, even if she doesn't bear it upfront. Like me and my prim moustachio, you both complement each other. Mind It!

M: Who says you are not God, Sir.

---
*** Refer BF's Triumph of Reason

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Assumed So.

"There's no Light."

"Why do you think there should be some?"


"I...I assumed so."


"You assumed did you, or you believed there should be any?"


"Huh! What difference does it make? Light still isn't there."


"Assumption brings in a burden. While belief looks further to the idea. Belief enables. Belief is an opportunity."


"And why on earth do you think I'll believe your this piece of shit. Go sit in the corner."


"See you yourself talking of belief, of believing me..."


"Hmm So?"


"You didn't mention you would assume I am talking shit, instead you would like to believe so."


"That's just a rhetorical entanglement. Wonder what you are up..."


"Trying to assume would've let you break free easily. Break away with the usual nonchalance and think of being normal again which you are Not actually..."


"And?"


"...And while trying to believe showed your concern, your novelty of thoughts."


"So do you mean I should believe everything just to show my concern. To also become conspicuously different? This sounds like a cocktail-party mentality. Ha."


"Yes and No."


"You know you really suck sometimes. You pseudo-intellectual slob."


"NO because you won't naturally be concerned about every little mundane thing around you. And you don't have to. You are no God and you can't be."


"Hmm and so why Yes?"


"YES because it's about believing first-time first-hand, and not assuming and not speculating - is the only way to commit yourself to things you bother about. Only way to consign your thoughts to your uniqueness. And you'll put effort in only those things that you believe in...the last point is quite obvious and clichéd isn't it?"


"Obvious? Be aware you are talking dream-fully abstract. Like asking a lemon for drops without a squeeze."


"It might be abstract. But I am glad you can make that out. And there's some inquisitive squeeze in your words if you can sense that."


"Well well."


"Hmm are you saddened? Are you restrained? Are you..."


"No. Ah wait. Why IS there no light. Where's the switch at the first place? Where's the sun? Are my eyes still shut? What should I do about it?"

"There you are. You first-hand Belief. See you are more new, Now. Congrats! Bye."


"Wait! Light, Still isn't there..."

Image: FilmFanatic

Friday, December 19, 2008

Word-ly Unwise.

You listen to a song, you are furtively intoxicated - and it sticks to your ears, endlessly playing within, like a jammed cassette tape on a vengeance spree. You indulge into it further, and as it grows on you - you play it again and again day and night, make it a whistle and a shoutalong phrase (say for your peeing-time in the loo), become obsessed with all the subtleties and crescendos within its riffs and basses, but it still troubles you aplenty, exactly like your servile-obedient girl(boy)-friend wouldn't do.

That nasty little thing is called an Ear-Worm - a sort of phonological loop. But sometimes I also experience these unceremonious Word-worms - Words sticking onto my cerebral lobes like the conspicuous stains on glasses - words that change the momentary perspectives of the world around, and create some sort of tunnel vision for you. Imagine that word falling like snow all over the places around, wherever you try to steal a snap of things around. Imagine feeling like a slave to the mere idea steeped within that word, or it flowing in a stream both from your outward senses and from the conscience within. Imagine being hobbled with a daisy chain of a single-word-rings, as you stomp your feet out of the reclusiveness it has put you into.

One of them, quite a long earlier, used to be that unapologetic entity - 'Ultimate' or 'Ulti...' in short for the deprived ones. Well I strongly refrain from overusing any whimsically-worthy word (any i-know-what-you-didn't-mean-now-shut-up word, any word that appears as your birth-right whenever you utter it with extreme profligacy) - in any sort of parlance, be it's a business-talk, sex-talk, ruthlessly-friendly-talk, friendly tu-tu-mai-mai talk, classroom-talk, sex-talk, downmarket-bargain-talk, jealousy-talk, hopeless-talk, sex-talk, boast-talk, dream-talk, Tendulkar-praising-talk, Lalu-cribbing-talk, sex-talk, scowling-talk, pretending-talk, muted eye-to-eye-talk, self-talk, sex-talk, advice-giving-talk, swear-lying-talk...you just name it. But what could I've done. 'Ultimate' is (was) just so ultimate. You could chirp it in almost all your pranks you did in your college teen years, from your first drink, to your last crush, to your middle years of classroom renaissance (Note-I never had anyone of these). And I felt so helpless when I had to incriminate that sexy word into... say 14-year-banishment. Poor 'Ultimate' must've felt what Lord Laxman had undergone while imagining his predicament. Throwing 'Ultimate' out of my hollow colloquial, ultimately, was the least ultimate thing to do, I tell you.

And how can I slip away from shouting that silk-smooth sounding word - Slick. Oh my god this word seemed always asking for more. More like the newfound fashion in the street, the new-fangled choice of trying to sound impressive by talking something already impressive. Something that is less ordinary, less pale, less bookish. Inadvertently during the conversations it felt like a nicely conspired replacement for the ubiquitous 'Cool' or less-valued 'Awesome' (Cool as in "That's so cool..." followed by lots of exclamations !!!!...) - yes that drooling word from any of your next-door automatic-casual 20 year-olds, gasping in wonderment of his/her newfound obsession with the new high-end celebrity inner-wear making rounds in the market. The slickness in 'Slick' was like the stickiness of the spit. And then I never felt hesitant feeling it, using it. Using it effortlessly in things like "That's such a slick answer", "Wow, see all her shopping's so slick. Still useless", "I like those awfully-artless-noise-in-between-the-slick-beats in those Himesh Reshamiya's number..." For some linguistically-romanticized days slick used to rule everything - from my bathroom soap to the business ppts to my temporary-crushes-of-the-day's tight outfit. And I used to feel liberated in my expressionisms. And then it dawned on me that something's fishy. That why do I resemble the phrase "When all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." so much. I sighed.

The latest of the culprit has been 'Cynical' - Like I see some genuinely natural smiles on faces and wonder: "See...How less cynical this person is...How can (s)he be this much so...!". Like I meet a stranger on the road and would just flinch from asking him/her: "Hi! can you help me become a little less cynical!". Like I feel like in heaven when my tiny (actionable) thoughts actualize a million times less cynical that I could imagine...and wonder it can't be me who did so. Like I talk to most of my friends - close and far - new and old - hip or practical or ideal - and wonder why the F*** they sound so cynical all the time. I get to hear a lot of 'Why's and 'For What?'s in the times. I remain curious about all the deceptive impossibilities infested in everyone's thought and try to question them. I can see the sapped down fervor in any of the passions one follows, watch it passing away like a careless sugarcane being churned out of all its juice, slowly. Sorry. I just hope they were a lot less so. I hope I could sponge up that complacent, (in)toxicating, and blighted drug of cynicism from within them all...And then say "Now try your wishes for yourself." And I know that nobody is actually lazy here in sensibilities. Laziness is just such a gainful illusion that it can even make something like...the First Kiss sound insipidly boring. Thou (and me) must confess.

** Well I wanted to talk about another such fixation - Disillusioned - but don't feel like it now. Don't want to see such a thing overpowering again.

** The larger (sole) purpose of this post was to remind you that everything around couldn't be captured in the
ultimates or the cynics or any other ideation that rules your line of thought. So remain sensitized about those parasitic terms you are fixed up with promiscuously. What r they by the way?? :)

** Image: HNTAC, HJI, BELCH, PM.