Monday, May 28, 2012

The rhapsody of doing it..'My way.."

There s a creeper outside my window..twisted and stuck in the barb of a fence..why does it look familiar I wonder..I look at my life indoors..stuck somewhere in between the morning papers..a host of scattered expressionless face ..I feel guilty I haven't seen the latest shows on television or bid the husband a decent good bye in a chirpy voice that is the birthright of every woman staying in the house..I am instead thousands of miles away..without inhibitions in some beautiful of dimensions and all that covers the modest and mediocracy...If I could, I'd pull out the bundles of energy that my body reflects and go do something that the world thinks is more worthy, like make PPTs and give a sermon..but I'm stuck in my awesome world..where there's gentle music banging and rolling down someone's dirty hair..singing the blues in their non-meticulous articulation of what society and it's dammed mess is all about..I want it to be the 1960 s..when I knew not what it was to be born and yet adored those beautiful women in sheer caftans..swinging to their music..their Beats, their rhapsody..I waft through my manicured rooms and potted plants, with heady fragrances by Jasmine and some cultured bottle..when all I want are the smells of the tiny nooks of Istanbul to reflect in me and me in them..I want to smell the dew of the hills I've left and watch the fireflies emerge when the dew settles on the grasshoppers tilted eyes..I want to run down some hill..with khol in my eyes..a smudge of some orange lipstick of passion forgotten into the warmth of lands where the Sinatra sings..' I did it my way.."

( Video courtesy Youtube)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

An old photograph..worth a thousand thoughts

Yesterday while flipping through an old book I came across a really old photograph. I'm always fascinated by old photographs. If you smell them, mostly there's a waft to them too. An old photograph can be so telling in some ways and yet again so mysterious too. Though it gives me plenty of time for idle speculation on what the occasion for the picture would have been, how their live styles were. Its great fun to find out about the ancestry and the lineage of the family from the photograph too.

An occasion for a photograph in those days would have been something grand, and everyone would pose in their best and yet there s always that stray look, or smile that is telling about a person :) A peek into some family from somewhere. I wonder if those in the photograph had had a good life & whether things had turned out the way they had expected them to be. Whether the relations or the friends with whom, the photo had been clicked had finally stuck or if life had taken them in different ways. The lady of the house, before clicking posing for the picture, had she preened at herself in the mirror..had she smiled a shy smile? had the small children been terribly bored as they were dragged around to face the camera...And also I smile as I think whether any one of them had even remotely thought that their picture from whenever would land in the hands of a complete stranger who would speculate about them.

Old photographs from your own family of course are a different story altogether. You know what their stories have been like. You know the path they have trodden. And yet even in these known stories, one cannot but muse whether their lives were same or different from what they tried to make it to be.

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The lesson of the wild

Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of “Elephant Whisperer” | Delight Makers

Reading a recent incident about a herd of wild elephants, visiting author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony ( popularly known as “Elephant Whisperer” ) on his death reminded of my own experiences with the wild.

Growing up in the lap of the wild teaches you more about human behavior than that of an animal & the contrast is very plain to see and invariably it also teaches you the necessity of going back to the wild, adapting their ways of adjusting with each other and living in tandem with other creatures. The North East of India is home to plenty of jungles and many areas declared as Natural wild life reserves.

The Britishers were meticulous about planting a lot of fruit trees, throughout Assam, in fact they planted many even among st the wild forests. As a result, plenty of birds, squirrels and other such small animals were regular visitors in homes there in and around the forest. Growing up in the lap of nature, the first principle that we were taught was, the animals always have the first right, since it is their territory. This includes the right to the land, and food too. We learnt soon enough that animals leave you to yourself if you can respect their territory too!

It was 1.30 at night (And that is very late in small towns) when the phone suddenly rang in our house. The small oil town of Digboi sleeps pretty early. Each house rests on a small hillock and is thus separated by a valley of bushes and trees, which is usually the grazing ground of many animals. Our neighbor from the next hill warned us that an elephant herd was marching its way up our house, having trampled much fauna on their way.

In the dead of the night, we sat trembling inside the huge Bungalow, watching as nearly 20 adult and few baby elephants ravaged our backyard, which comprised the vegetable patch. The surrounding Banana plans were uprooted and devoured. But all this in so much silence that had we not been warned of their coming none of us would have ever known that there was a herd of 20 elephants making merry in the backyard! Their eating and fun over, they left in an hour’s time, having devoured most fruits and vegetables and leafy plants, but without the slightest destruction to anything else man made.

Had they wanted they could have played football with the car or tossed around the hen coop. But they left as silently, as if nothing had happened. I remember sitting in awe all night, looking at those huge creatures in the dark, silently ravaging what they thought was part of the wild. Anger was not a natural outcome, in such a scene because we were guests in what was their area. The minute each animal understands the respect of another’s territory, everything is somehow quite easy.

I remembered the case of a farmhouse( Acres Wild) built on a mountain in Coonoor by ace film maker Mansoor Khan. There are no fences in the farm that is situated practically in the middle of two mountains. The man lives with his man Friday and his wife and had told me that when he first built home on the mountain to start with the farm, the wild elephants had ravaged it. His friend in the next mountain, a planter had told him that he must have an electric fence and a gun if he were to live in the territory. The erstwhile film maker refused, saying, “ It is their territory, I leave it to them to decide whether we are welcome or not” It has been almost  years since then, the elephants still come and yet they have learnt that this man is part of the locale and means no harm. They leave him to himself too. The farm still does not have any fences and there have been no incidents that strike fear in the hearts of those who stay there.

Such incidents confirm my belief every time, that it has been the animal who teaches man that with power comes grace too. Nomads with whom I made friends during many of my jaunts in the coming years in the forest taught me one lesson I never forget- 'It is their space, respect it, let them decide whether they want you to be there or not. They understand peace more than us, and if you can convey that to them, you never need to fear an animal.'

Monday, May 14, 2012

The G K Vale romance

GK Vale is a huge name in photography down South. More than 100 years into business it was the first shop to introduce colour photographs in the South in 1970. Credited with making the maximum of marriages and also breaking some. What is more interesting than the shop's history is the fact that not so long back in history, it was almost mandatory for most prospective bride & bridegrooms to click their pictures in their studios & come back to the same studio, to click a 'happily every after' marriage picture.

Few years back while passing one of GK Vale studio's in Bangalore, an ex-colleague doubled up in laughter. On my asking why, she narrated that every time she and her husband crossed the particular store, her husband would stop their car & in an almost ritualistic prayer offer a few galis( curses) to the store for misleading him into being straddled with a wife who appeared something else on photographs & turning out to be something else when they got married! All this was of course way before photoshop & curiously enough the couple is immensely happy today, but the husband never really stopped cursing GK Vale!

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'Duvidha' of Nira and Chandri

While searching for something on Google, I came across this picture..posted as a part of a blog post on films by Mani kaul. The image is from the film maker's film titled 'Duvidha' made in 1973. Rather aptly titled, I thought. For some reason I could not take my eyes off the woman, her stance or her eyes. The title of the film and her expression reminded me of two literary pieces describing two strong women, both a figment of the imagination and yet both so real.

Chandri, is a low caste woman who is an integral character in the book by U.R Ananth Murthy- 'Samskara'..Chandri, is a beautiful woman, she is described as, 'Chandri was natual in giving pleasure' care. The very act of physical loving to her spelled giving care. A passage where she soothes the very disturbed Acharya goes, " She took off her Sari, spread it on the ground and lay on it hugging Praneshacharya close to her, weeping, flowing in helpless tears."

In a somewhat similar vein is the character of Nira by Sunil Gangopadhyay, who created a woman who was a part of every man's physical and aesthetic sense. Nira is a culmination of every desire both mental and physical and in giving her this form, the poet makes her supreme. Verses from 'For these verses there is no one else, there’s just you, Nira'- By Sunil Gangopadhyay ( translated by Arunava Sinha )

Don’t be afraid. Sleep. I am a long way away
My dreadful hand will not touch you, this midnight
My impossible arousal, heat, sharp desire and
Muffled groan will not terrorise you – my feelings
Like the beam of the candle, civilised, cool
On verses of sounds and words
Will visit your brow – if they kiss you
You will not know it, they will lie with you on the same bed
All night – you will not awake. In the morning
They will droop like dead butterflies near your feet. Their soul
Will merge into every pore of your body, forever.

( Image courtesy Google)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The cat who ate my Masala fish fry..while I FB'd

There's really no need to think of this as airing a personal vendetta against cats..but if you do I don't really care a fig.. Since time immemorial (Ok so I'm not that old) but then again since time immemorial, I have hated cats. I happen to think they are furry balls of deception, ready to claw you at the slightest pretext. Its a different matter that I happened to have a friend some time back who loved cats and I had to construe emotions that I never felt, at her love for them.

But this is not all about cats, my hate for them or crass a piece of literature ( ok whatever) that you might think of. There's more to it, and a story rather peaceful & hilarious somewhere down if you care to listen.

I got some very good fish today ( which is a rarity in Bangalore) and decided to make Masala fish fry, which I did & placed it, just ready to eat in some time. So I'm at my Fb page..doing important stuff ( And I belong to the group named- Just because I'm on FB doesn't meant I don't work) you get the hint..Im replying to mails..when this sneaky little brown cat, leaps up the kitchen counter and in a matter of minutes ( even before I can react to what was the noise all about) vanishes with all the fish..some in the mouth & some in the belly.

I'm of course sweetness personified as I see my lunch going through a cats tum ( I could still bear it if a dog had had it..but never a cat! Those treacherous creatures. Its all about principles you see!) But in the pandemonium I'm reminded of a similar incident that happened way back in childhood in Digboi( Assam).

So this tale from Digboi goes..We had a dog called Brownie ( That we had Blackies and Bhuto's & Baghas too is besides the point..blame it on Bong idiosyncrasies!)..On one fine day, we were alerted by some one we called Nani ( A Coolie tribe woman) to the exciting fact that a deer had been caught in the fence bordering our Bungalow. Everyone was excited, some at the prospect of whether the deer could be sampled for deer meat, some at the prospect of seeing a deer so close & Brownie for reasons very different. Of course in the end, we decided and struggled to release the deer, back into the jungle where it belonged to. But amid st the heart warming sight of the deer jump back in a flash into the forest, we were treated with the sight of Brownie ( who I believe had waited all his life for an opportunity like this) carrying three chapatis in his mouth and wagging his tail at his master's & Nani's voice that screamed at him.. aghast at seeing her breakfast ( which she had forgotten all about & kept on a plate in the ground) gone down his tum..It is a different fact that I managed to find some nobility in the event & as befitted a true dog lover termed it as 'Taking advantage of a situation..& the works'..but that was the animal in question who had the last laugh.

( Image courtesy Google)