Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"Prolixity is not alien to us in India. We are able to talk at some length. Krishna Menon's record of the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations (nine hours not-stop), established half a century ago ( when Menon was leading the Indian delegation), has not been equalled by anyone from anywhere. Other peaks of loquaciousness have been scaled by other Indian. We do like to speak."
So begins the first essay in this stimulating book by Amartya Sen on Indian Culture, History and Identity . Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998 for his work on welfare economics, famine, human development theory , the underlying mechanisms of poverty, and political liberalism. In this collection of essays, he dwells on various aspects on India - it's culture, heterodoxy so much ingrained in it's every aspect and it's impact on the basic texture of Indian society - on science, literature and politics. I specially liked the discussion on Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. One part where Ray talks about what to project as a director particularly struck a cord..its beautiful...read on...
"What should you put in your films? What can you leave out? Would you leave the city behind and go to the village where cows graze in the endless fields and the shepherd plays the flute? You can make a film here that would be pure and fresh and have the delicate rhythm of a boatman's song.
Or would you rather go back in time - way back to the Epics, where the gods and the demons took sides in the great battle where brother killed brother and Lord Krishna revivified a desolate prince with the words of the Gita? One could do exciting things here, using the great mimetic tradition of the Kathakali, as the Japanese use their Noh and Kabuki.
Or would your rather stay where you are, right in the present, in the heart of this monstrous, teeming, bewildering city, and try to orchestrate its dizzying contrasts of sight and sounds and milieu?"
Absolutely beautiful isn't it - a celebration of differences - old and new - the monstrous modern world driven by machines and humane everyday acts which keep us going forward- sights and sounds - of past and present, the urban and rural! As Sen beautifully brings out throughout his various discussions in the book - In our heterogeneity and in our openness lies our pride - A lesson important for us as citizens of whichever part of the world we are in and more importantly - as human beings.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
When it is said,
Begins to live
Sunday, September 09, 2007
For starters, if you think you'd get to know much about the culture and history of landmarks like Machu Pichu in Peru , Ayers Rock in Australia , The Temples at Angkor Cambodia - which are some of the many places the Sparks brothers visit during course of their three week trip - then - well this not the book for you! What you can expect is a touch and go to these places with juvenile antics of Sparks brothers filled with disregard for local cultures of places they visit , their behaviour often edging on being plain crass .
First thing one should know as a traveler is to respect different people and cultures. Second, I believe a sense of curiosity is very important if one is to capitalize on any small or big opportunity to travel to any known or not so known place. What makes me so flabbergasted is the way , on more than one occasion, the Sparks brother mocks at places which have thousands years of history and tradition behind them. One doesn't expect them or any other traveler for that matter to be filled with utmost reverence for each and every place that they visit. But then expecting a little respect won't be asking for too much! Consider this :
On their first stop on the trip, the brothers visit Yaxhá and Tikal in Guatamala. Yaxhá is both the name of a lagoon and the site of a city built more that 1500 years ago. It was once the third largest city in the Mayan empire. Elder brother Sparks makes a heartfelt comment "I never believed I could get so excited about seeing a pile of dirt!" Subsequently, they visit Tikal - the hub of Mayan life - which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As the guide is discussing about the historical context of the site , elder brother Micah whispers " Have someone get a picture of me lying on the ( sacrificial) stone, while you pretend to stab me , wouldn't that be cool?" Younger brother Nicholas , seeing the enraged guide ( who happens to be a Mayan) tries to tell the big bro that the guide looked pretty mad, as did people running the tour." You'r insulting their culture !" to which elder brother replies simply that " Ah, they 'll get over it, They won't even remember it" .
At Ayer's rock in Australia - the largest single unit or monolith stone in the world, the guide is talking about aboriginals and their culture in which brother Micah is least interested. Younger brother Nicholas says " C'mon it's interesting . It's a culture we know nothing about!" to which Micah snaps "The reason we don't know anything about it because it's boring" . What does one say to a statement like that. It leaves me speechless to both sensitivity and sensibility of the speaker!
The conversations ( disheartening as they are to any reasonable person) speak much about brothers attitude towards other places they would soon visit.
These rather bland descriptions of some on the most intriguing places in the world are backdrop to authors biographical account of his growing up years - the hopes, aspirations, ups and downs. For some parts this makes good reading and is filled with insights into struggles he and his family went through over years and how they bonded in the process . I do admire the fact that the author has come a long way from a not so super privileged ( though reasonably middle class) childhood to being a best selling author. He , like almost everybody does, has had personal trials and tribulations and has in turn gained strength from them to become a stronger person.However, many a times the writing moves from excessive self pitying to narcissism. Time and again, the author talks about extreme poverty they grew up in , how they did not have as much as other kids, how their relatives always had more, how they ate all cookies they could eat when they went to somebodies house, how they'd break most of their cousins toys during visit to their house, how they didn't have air conditioning during a trip to Grand Canyon, how the first house they owned was sooo small - it just had 4 rooms, an office, a living room, kitchen and a converted garage ( which would be considered a luxurious living in many third world countries the brothers later travel to!) .
As I said, the book far from justifies Nicholas Sparks' reputation as a great writer. It leaves you wanting for way more by way of quality writing. Hopefully his other novels are better than this one!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
in samajon ke baneye huey bandhan se nikal, chal...
dil ki daulat pe jahan koi lutere na lagey
kab hai badla ye zamana, tu zamane ko badal, chal…
bijliyan arsh se khud rasta dikhlati hai
tu bhi bijli ki tarah gam ke andheron se nikal, chal...
apni chahat pe jahan koi bhi dushman na hanse
chhed de pyar se tu sazey, mohabbat pey ghazal, chal...
samne dekhke, manzil hai teri taaron mein
baat banti hai agar dil mey, iradey ho atal, chal…
2) Read more about Hasrat Jaipuri at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasrat_Jaipuri
( See image information below)
Na tha kuch to Khuda tha, kuch na hota to Khuda hota
Duboya mujhko hone ne, na hota main to kya hota ?
Na hota gar juda tan se to zaanoon par dhara hota
Wo har ek baat pe kehana, ke yoon hota to kya hota ?
Monday, September 03, 2007
About the Poem: Auguries of Innocence, written by William Blake is a poem of paradoxes in life and the beauty in their irony. I have put my favorite lines from the poem in bold. The opening lines are absolutely enchanting and I love them. Priceless wisdom is packed in each line of the poem .Everytime you read it a new layer emerges!
About the Poet: William Blake (1757 - 1827) was an English poet, visionary , painter and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered great and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts. 
In 1782, William Blake married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. Blake taught her to read and to write, and also instructed her in draftsmanship. Later, she helped him print the illuminated poetry for which he is remembered today. Blake believed that his poetry could be read and understood by common people, but he was determined not to sacrifice his vision in order to become popular. 
 Read more about William Blake at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_blake
 Read William Blake's Biography as well his other works at poets.org http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/116
Image information : This image is from http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=174098243&size=o