Pather Pachali : Our Song of the Little RoadOur pride aside, it is not really surprising that sections of the West reacted the way they did to "Pather Pachali" (or "Song of the Little Road"). The poverty stricken, dreary lifescape of rural India - must have been an unpleasant shock to many Western viewers/critics.If one watches the movie today, 50 odd years since its release, the characters embroiled in a life or death battle (literally) for shelter, a square meal - does come as a jolt. In fact when I re-watched the movie a few months ago, to be honest, I sometimes cringed. The world of ipod's, high speed broadband and square mile malls, begs disbelief of lives steeped in penury, of the oppression of existence and of aspiration blunted by destitution.However, having said that, Francois Truffaut's comment, "I don't want to see a movie of peasants eating with their hands" is a reflection more of his insensible insularity than of the movie.Pather Pachali - The Song of the Little Road is a metaphor for man's rite of passage. The way the world you know starts to give away. Roots begin to stealthily putrefy life. Life incarcerated by inertia. One has to give it all up and move. Leave in order to live. To abandon all you know and to clutch at the unaccustomed.Its the story of all our lives, the family who left the village for the city. The son who went to America, and the one who came back. The migrant who crossed the border. The peasant who gave up the till. The man who donned the workers uniform, and the one who relinquished it for ever. The family who moved to the leafy suburb, and the one which moved to the loft conversion down town.Some Journeys are aspirational while others are escapes. Often there is only an one way ticket available. Journey's heralds new beginnings, but they also often... shut the book.
Labels: Cinema, Free Form, Moments and Memories, World and us
In the morning I thought of money. Money & money matters. Mutual fund NAV’s. Bloody fund managers. The sensex. Clinical depression. Sting. [Tina adds - Sting had Clinical depression]. In the afternoon I thought of Wild Strawberries. Trois couleurs: Bleu. Juliette Binoche. The pristine sugar cube in the black coffee. The Apprentice. Advertising. Satyajit Ray. The whistling train. Summer Holidays. BOAC and BAA. Qantas. Rain man. Hence QED.
Labels: Free Form, Moments and Memories
The world is far more incestuous than we think it is. I get to know of her, through friends. Information which is... unsolicited most of the time, but gratefully accepted all of the time. I saw her in the car park a few weeks ago, she and her partner were waiting for the valet to fetch the car. I waited awhile to see her. She is still terminally pretty, but there are no pretenses anymore - the world now knows how old she is, and she has a very strong hunch.It's always the skin; young skin has an oneness of color. Age is like a time veneered artwork, evident in promise but compromised in vigor. I looked at her; the stunning smile on a face which I knew had once been more beautiful. The poignancy I think lay in the realization of time and age - mine foremost. What my mirror routinely concealed - manifested itself in a dimly lit hotel car park. I have always admired snakes, the way they shed their skin. Definitive departures and shiny new beginnings. Simple and almost evolutionary. We humans, make heavy weather of it – dry skin, scabs, warts, wrinkles and falling hair. Dross and decaying, dead habit almost.On the way back home that evening, I pulled out of pigeon holes - all those hurriedly aggrandized memories. The caramelized laughter and the fiery piquant fights.
Stephen Stills, had once said in an interview to 'Rolling Stones' magazine - "There are three things men can do with women : love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature".To you, I have done all three. Unfortunately, none too successfully.
Labels: Fiction, Moments and Memories
Blood Alcohol Labels.He felt like having a drink. Strong stiff ones. Like pretty maids all in a row.He wanted the buzz. The heightened sense of everything. The live band, cranks up the drum microphone.Weaving traffic like colored ribbons in the breeze.All roads lead gently downhill. Cars lurk like ghosts at every bend.Every turn takes you home. To share your bed with sleep.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Like a fly in a whirlpool.Like a sticky traffic signal he thinks of her. Weak. Amative. Green. He pushes hard, fast and faster. The night breeze like hornets in a tunnel.Floyd on the stereo. A melee of then, now and never.He squares up for a fist cuff. I am the champion of the world he says.The gambler frowns on the odds. He cusses and he waits. Calls them out, one by one. He digs his heels into the night.No footsteps. No silhouettes. He spits into the cloud of dust.The bells toll. "Last drinks! Last drinks!" The Abbot and the black heart."Its time" they say. Time for a hand brake turn.
Labels: Free Form, Revolving Doors
Beyond the Middle PlaceHotel rooms, amidst the measured queen size bed, the table lamp and the basket of fruit, have their own passive life.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
When I first arrived in Somerset, for months I was at this hotel, unremarkable in every regard except one. It had a large framed print of "Lament for Icarus", the print itself was of average quality. Uneven colors, and not particularly well framed either.It's a Victorian Nude of course; Icarus lies dead by the sea after his flight to freedom ends in disaster. He is tended by nymphs who hold him and lament his unfortunate death.Daedalus, imprisoned by King Minos, devises wings built out of feathers and held together by wax, as a means of escape. His son Icarus follows him in flight. Once in the skies, Icarus, apparently convinced of his abilities of flight, gains altitude and the sun melts his wax bonded wings. The young man falls to his death in the sea. The months I stayed in that hotel room, at times I stared intently at the print, at most other times was oblivious of its existence. On sleepless nights, with a village in slumber beyond the window, Icarus and the lamenting Nymphs often came to life. No magic realism, no emerging characters, no talking nymphs.
Like a ghost beyond the horizon. After sleep, after blinding light.
After the fear of heights and the depths of the sea.A place to rest your head.
The afterglow of life. Beyond the middle place.
Labels: Art, Travel
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
A fantasy calendar girl, with backlit hair.A Colored morning on the church pews. On a shallow sun afternoon, I built a fort. Familiar strangers and unaccustomed silhouettes. Beer on the beach, at the high tide bar.Two rupee boat rides on the lazy blue.Sunshine happiness, I knew you one winter.
Labels: Moments and Memories, Travel
From Coast to Coast
They say if you have seen one beach you have seen them all. On the 31st of December 2005, I was by the Arabian Sea at Daman, the southern tip of Gujarat. Exactly a year later I was at delightful Pondicherry on the Coromandel Coast by the Bay of Bengal. A journey of 1200 kilometers in 12 months, almost diagonally across peninsular India.There were stopovers of course - the confused and cosmopolitan Geneva, officious and idyllic Bern, the icy winds up the Matterhorn, opulent St.Moritz and the quaint stamp sized Liechtenstein.And as I stood at the Pondicherry Promenade, the warm sea breeze crawled through the fabric of my clothes. The sea smothered the rocks and rose like salt crusted sprays in short-lived revelry.It doesn't matter where you were, in doesn't matter where you are coming from. You just pause, see the sea, feel the rain, goggle at mountains and keep walking down that winding road towards the bend around the corner.
Labels: Moments and Memories, Travel
Friday, December 15, 2006
"We had to cozzy up in the old gymnasium...dusting off the mandolins and checking on the gear.She was helping out at the back-stage...stopping hearts and chilling beer.
Yes, and her legs went on for ever.Like staring up at infinitythrough a wisp of cotton pantyalong a skin of satin sea.Hot night in Budapest. "
Tull, Crest of a Knave, 1987
I dont know where I have been, but I am coming back.
If you stare at the sky long enough, the lights will go out.
The fist & the pacifist is closed till further notice.
Labels: Revolving Doors
I met her today. Glenary is not what it used to be. The mall is crowded and chaotic. But yet in November, Darjeeling is sharp and pleasant.
At midday the muted sun and the wispy white clouds, mists over the cerulean. The world it seems has a renaissance master manning the lights. The Kanchandzonga makes an appearance at its own whim. The interplay of - light and the passing clouds, on the canvas of pristine snow. At once - a tinted penumbra and then suddenly a mellow incandescence. Gray shadows and off the palette shades.
Almost, natures own son-et-lumiere.I never thought I would say this - she finally looks her age. The smile though, is still full of zest, and her hair, dark and intriguing. The only thing which has changed - for the first time I think, she needs me. It isn't a happy feeling. It makes me queasy and sad.
Labels: Moments and Memories
The world is painted in water color. Our lives are in Oil.The sky, the blue bleeds into the light gray, the light gray coalesces into the deep. And then there is the citrine sun, which spreads itself into everything and nothing. No lines, only swathes. No colors, only hues. No finalities, only Intermediates. No satiety, only permeations. No endings, only transitions. Lives are in Oil. Births and Deaths. Friends and Enemies. Marriages and Divorces. First Dates and Last farewells. Blinding light and dark tunnels. Stark colors. Disparate ironies. Love and Hurt. Flamingo red and burnt sienna. David and Goliath. Truth and Lies. Yours and mine.
Labels: Moments and Memories
She always said, I was weak. She always said I could never take a stand. I never believed all of that. I took great decisions at work. Under pressure I solution like a man on fire. It just happened a few minutes back, we had a resource utilization issue. My manager was perplexed, lines on his forehead, he was pouring over the figures. I saw the problem, I figured the end, and I had the mean. It's normal. It's so natural. It isn't even an effort. I just "see" the solution. No lengthy deliberations, just a clear clear mind. But now, as far as life goes - I think she was right. I never did take a stand. I followed the straight and narrow. I wallowed in the perplexity. I savored irony. I celebrated inaction. Self deludingly believed the middle path to be the hgh ground.In retrospect, the work days were never twelve hours plus, the clients' demands were never that worrisome. The next role change was never that critical. I realize now, I was never a workaholic. I realize now, I was just a refugee.
Labels: Free Form, Moments and Memories
Objects of Interest (?)The Gandhara Art exhibit at the Indian Museum is a favorite haunt of art college students. With satchels by their side and drawing pads on their laps they sit there sketch the Buddha for hours at a stretch.
I am not much of an artist, but I like watching the artists at work. The way they use their pencils to fix dimensions, the way their hands sweep over the paper, and how rarely they use an eraser. As they sit intently concentrating on their work, the towering Buddha looks on. My personal favorite though, has always been the Egyptology exhibit. The Mummy occupies the center of the room and is surrounded by a host of instruments. Instruments that measure moisture, relative proportions of various gases and the like. One weekend in November, we went to the Museum. I bounded up the stairway to go see the Mummy and the intriguing little instruments, with fancy dials and thick glassed meters. She didn't know what all the fuss was about. The stuffed reptiles across the floor repulsed and intrigued her at once. The dinosaur display was grand - creatures from a lost world filled up a first floor room. We weren't in a hurry, we lost each other in the bigger rooms, fought over going to see the ornaments display - I asked her to make a choice, ornaments or textiles? "Both" she said, and strode into the Ornaments section. After an inordinate time at the Ornaments Section, we walked past another room, which jar lined shelves. Brown orbs suspended in murky water. We walked in.The jars in a row, displayed the evolution of the human fetus. The first one - an elongated sphere no larger than the palm. The shape, "A Prolate Spheroid", that's what they are called. The odd shape and form, did not suggest anything mortal. The murky solution, in which it was suspended, made it look strangely morbid. The subsequent jars had more evolved fetus - the spheres flattened further turning almost cylindrical. The features began to make an appearance. I turned around to show her the appearance of tiny hands and feet - but she wasn't there. I looked around the room, and then into the verandah outside. She was standing there, with her back to the exhibit rooms, looking at the square patch of sky.I stopped. Should I say something? Should I be an extra bit chirpy? Should I say I understand?I walked up behind her, felt like holding her close. A part of me wanted to ask her "Why?" But that was another life. That was their story.
There will always be a part of her I wont know, a part of her I will never touch. Movies in which I won't star."Hey, wanna go and have a beer?""Yeah", she said.
We turned to leave.
Labels: Moments and Memories
Their Story..."Actually doing it is very different". Smoke twirled in an upward spiral."I was young... I had thought about it, I had known men and all of that. But this was the first time... that romance and flirting had a physical meaning. I was in a room with a man - he was around me. It's a new experience - you are feeling things for the first time".I listened. Their coming of age story, perhaps? I knew them both, but now I listened as if I had tuned into the radio. Attentive but not involved.I looked down from the window, cars glided through the rain, following orderly geometric paths. A two way street - friends going partying, a doctor rushing to a patient. Everything seemed to be part of a Perpetual Motion machine. The cars barely stopped for more than a few seconds, even when they paused - the passengers - Closed arguments, arrived at conclusions, shared secrets, confessed to the truth or kept their silence. I turned around. She had stubbed out the cigarette."I felt this with him for the first time. He must have felt it with someone else... for the first time. That someone else, with yet another...maybe it was you?" She looked straight at me, almost expecting an answer.Life is always changing - like a kaleidoscope gone awry. Unpredictable and myriad, yet strangely orderly and ordained. I thought of the two ancient men on the battlefield. One a reluctant warrior and the other an all knowing charioteer. To me - both teachers."Prepare for war... in peace. Be at peace in pleasure and pain, in gain and in loss. Be at peace in defeat and victory".I walked towards the couch where she was sitting, and reached for the pack of smokes. I smiled "No... it wasn't me".
Wednesday, April 26, 2006