This blog has supported me for a very long time. It has known my mood swings. It has made me come into contact with a lot of good people. It has been a nice place to vent my feelings and express my heart’s true desires. So it is with great regret that I announce the retirement of this blog. It will cease to exist soon as I will no longer be writing.
I’m truly grateful to all the good friends I made in WordPress; good souls who have supported my writing all along. Amazing writers, all of them. Some of them like Neeraj, Soumya and Rahul write wonderful poetry. Erica’s writing is witty and thoughtful. Soma Di, although she doesn’t write very often and I don’t read her write-ups very frequent, has the power to take the reader to a colourful, magical land. Aparna’s Haikus are brilliant (the only Haikus I read repeatedly!). Rick writes about the American ‘Local’ and History and his travels. Asha writes really thought-provoking personal deliberations. Doris’ artistic expressions are a delight for truly imaginative minds. Andy writes for his grandchildren, stories and experiences. I think he is a wonderful grandfather with a wonderful idea; blogging for the future, making them understand about the past. Utham posts everlasting images; the man is clearly in love with his camera and vice versa. His photographs make me understand I have a lot to learn. Esther is a great supporter. Skye, although I haven’t been frequent to her blog, is a sweetheart whose writings bring a great deal of joy. Her poems have always made me smile. Sarah’s writings are the most straightforward, and as her blog title says, ‘Nobody puts Sarah in the Corner.’ Madhu’s travel blogs make me resolve to travel more in the future…
There are so many more writers and I am too overwhelmed to name many. All I have in mind right now is THANKS.
Write more, guys. And, write and write and write…. The world needs more writing… more photographs and more thoughts.
I wish good luck to all.
P.S: May the Force be With You, to Erica, Rahul and Neeraj.
Shammi Kapoor and I go way back. Our friendship was a secret. It was not based on a super star versus fan-kid thing. By the time I was born Shammi Kapoor had gone out of business, appearing mostly in films such as Ajooba and all. But Doordarshan, the national television channel of India made sure that Hindi cinema’s ultimate Rock star reached the people through different programmes. As a child of four, I got an immense liking to Shammi Kapoor. Sunday mornings had a programme on Doordarshan called Rangoli. It featured Bollywood songs from all eras.
Obviously, Shammi Kapoor featured in those songs. There are many reasons why a boy of mere four (in the beginnings of the 90’s) would love a star from the 50s and 60s. 1960s were the golden age of Bollywood. There were stars like Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. While Dilip Kumar did serious roles that earned him the title ‘King of Tragedy’, Raj Kapoor donned the ‘eternal vagabond’ role, a Chaplinisque figure, escaping the realities of contemporary India, but showing us what we would otherwise not see. There was Dev Anand; the perennial romantic, who could just walk right into the hearts of people, even though he walked funny! To tell you the truth, they all were heroes for the grown-ups! It didn’t elicit any emotion in me when the songs featuring these heroes played on TV.
On the other hand, Shammi Kapoor was a phenomenon; electrifyingly energetic… What attracted me at first was his body language. It was of not a grown up man. It was of an over enthusiastic boy, ready to do anything to get what he wanted. He looked hungry. He wanted to do something. Anything. He would dance and dance and dance. For that he did not need music. It could all be in his head. Shammi Kapoor had got me. His magical aura had captured a dyslexic four year old boy who would never be the same again.
I sat wide eyed, watching TV, waiting patiently for Shammi Kapoor to appear. The song Yun to Hamein Laakh Haseen Dekhe Hain brought Shammi Kapoor in a Horse-Cart. Before that song started playing in my lips through improper tunes (Hindi isn’t my Mother Tongue and I’m still uncomfortable speaking it!), there was Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe; a song that featured Shammi Kapoor dancing wildly in a valley of snow, trying to woo his heroine. This was the famous ‘Yaaaaaahoooooo’ song; a word that was associated to Shammi Kapoor for a very long time until a search engine claimed it with somewhat success. Aasman se Aaay Farishta, another song had him hanging down from a helicopter, in attempt to woo a group of girls water-gliding! Then comes the quirky performance in my favourite ‘Ye Chand sa Roshan Chehra’, a song that puts him on a boat. Actually, two of my favourite Shammi Kapoor songs have him put on boats, another one being ‘Deewana Hua Baadal’.
It wasn’t difficult for me to erupt into a dance when Shammi Kapoor songs came on TV. I was a very observant child. I could mimic people and animals and very soon I was mimicking Shammi Kapoor. Once my father took me to a haircutting saloon. When it was my turn to get a haircut, I insisted on making my hair look like Shammi Kapoor’s. Little did I know then that my curly hairs could never be made to look like the Rock Star’s. Nevertheless, I gave my father and the hairstylist a hard time. I also used to give my mother a hard time when any of the above mentioned songs played on TV. I would go into a frenzy and start whirring like a demon infested child, throwing myself upon the floor or bouncing up the dining table… I would start screaming along the lines of the song (of course, in an unintelligent form of Hindi) and start dancing (or, my form of dance!) like Shammi Kapoor. Nothing in the world could stop me from demolishing anything that came in my way of dancing.
Finally, my parents figured a way out. Typical Fascist methods that all parents use against their kids. My parents banned Shammi Kapoor. The ban was so effective that soon Shammi Kapoor faded out of my memory. But not for long, though. I re-discovered him during my teens, after almost a decade. Once I found the Rock Star of Bollywood again, there was no forgetting him again. Posters, music CDs and cable TV made sure Shammi Kapoor lives in my heart.
Shammi Kapoor passed away in 2011, after making a cameo appearance in a Ranbir Kapoor film, ‘Rock Star’, in which the young Kapoor dons the role of a Rock Star, slowly burning in the fire of unattainable love. The story must have appealed to the old actor and may indeed have reminded him of the golden 60s. Hell, he may even have thought that such a story would have been nice for him when he was in his thirties. I don’t know. I sure as hell, would have liked to watch a ‘Rock Star’ made in 1960 with Shammi Kapoor in the lead.
I was never fond of Meaning.
Whenever I did seek them,
They escaped me, Yelling
that I never meant to love’em.
Why was it important to know
where Gods came from?
They just did. They came.
So did us.
When I realized that the Nights
did not come with the flowery smell,
I decided to find out what actually
smelled like a flower at Night?
When the moist clouds thickened
over my head,
I stepped out to look where
the flower bloomed.
I was happy to find Death
Oozing into me, from the sharpest
pain of Nature.
I was the flower.
Arguments are not for me.
They tire me out. My head throb.
But, I can have them in my head,
for as long as anyone wants.
It’s just that I can’t speak out my
My arguments are mine and mine only.
I can’t have it with anyone else.
When you have watched yourself
from every corner of this room,
It is hard to leave the room.
A strange possessiveness will
grow inside you.
Imagine yourself as the most
as long as you haven’t stepped out
from this room.
Then it doesn’t matter.
When you have walked through the same paths,
a thousand times before, in search so many stars,
It doesn’t matter if you remember them anymore
because, you’ve done it. You’ve done it and you’ve done it.
That was your life. That was your destiny.
That was your path and they were your stars.
Enjoy the cold breeze and enjoy the first rays.
Close your eyes and think about tomorrow.
It doesn’t matter if it didn’t end,
when you saw the rocks before you
let yourself go.
It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t
see the bottom of the Sea.
You were meant for something else.
You were meant for
a more serious experiment.
You were meant to be squeezed
through an iron pipe,
Only to be crapped through
an end that did not justify the beginning.
I’m at the End.
Amitav Ghosh is a writer that I never really cared about. His book The Shadow Lines (1988) was part of my Post Graduation course in the University. So, I read it, a very passive reading at that. I didn’t really like it. But then, I didn’t really like many things that came along with the tag ‘Syllabus’. It was easy to dissuade me from reading a book; put it on a syllabus. My roomie at that time was a Bengali and a fan of Amitav Ghosh. I borrowed his copy of The Calcutta Chromosome and was kind of happy with it. But then, The Glass Palace (2000) and The Hungry Tide (2004) did not make any impact in me. Please don’t get me wrong. These are all books that have won many awards and are widely read. It’s just that I, as a reader, have not really enjoyed Ghosh as a novelist. It is some strange and unexplainable reason. I just can’t say what it is about Ghosh’s writing style that I do not enjoy. May be the historical setting that he usually resorts to does not match my sensibility. But then, I’m someone who reads anything that comes with a stamp of ‘History’. It is possible that I’m stuck in some bygone era’s fiction writing technique that I find it a great discomfort to move on and gel myself with a newbie like Amitav Ghosh.
I know Ghosh isn’t a newbie. Someone who published his first novel in 1986, the year I was born, shouldn’t be called a newbie writer. It is just that my sensibilities were formed by reading O.V Vijayan, M. Mukundan and Anand. I had to read this trio in order to be a part of my parents’ dinner table conversations. My Dad used to teach the novels of these writers and my Mom’s opinions on them were widely acknowledged by Dad. And I used to sit at the head of the table, my head going from Left to Right and Vice Versa, trying to decide whose side I would join, in case an argument erupts. I also remember the first time I raised an opinion on Anand’s novel, ‘Marubhoomikal Undaakunnathu.’ My dad just stared at me. I, on the other hand, felt like I insulted him (or Anand) and went silently back to whatever was left on my plate. But, next morning, when I was taking my bicycle out, to go to school, Dad stopped me and asked if I believed in what I said the previous night, about the novel. I nodded. He told me that it was a very valid point.
Coming back to Ghosh and his writing, I enjoy his essays more than his fiction. His essays look more convincing to me, than his fiction. It is like he is on a whole new level of comfort when he is writing those brilliant pieces. For example, let’s take a look at this wonderful book that I am currently reading, ‘Dancing in Cambodia and at Large in Burma’ (1998). I realize that I am a little late to pick this book up since it was published when I was in the eighth grade but I’m sure it is never TOO late to pick a book up. This collection of essays make a great read as the writer goes through the civil and cultural spaces of the people of Cambodia and Burma, two countries that are so close to India but never make it to our imagination much.
We Indians have a bad tendency to ignore whatever doesn’t give us much of a benefit. We think/talk about whatever happens to the gulf countries because we have a large population over there, sending us back money in bulk. We think about the U.S.A, the U.K because that is where half of our dumbos want to migrate to, thinking that they’re migrating to some sort of human-made heaven. We don’t really think about countries that are right in our neighbourhood, people that have ethnic connections with us, because they don’t give us anything. India shares a border with Burma (Myanmar, according to the Military Junta that rules it) but we hardly give a damn about them. We think about Bhutan more. We raise flags at the Sri Lankan President and we hate the guts of the Chinese Army and we closely keep an eye on news related to Pakistan. How many of us actually care to talk about Aung San Suu Kyi and her struggle against the Junta? How many of us actually think about Cambodia? Many of us might associate it with Angkor Wat but what do we know about them more than that?
I have to assume here that we, Indians, as a people, have lost our ability to sympathise. We live in a safe country. We seldom open our eyes and look around. We just sit and whine about how much the Gandhi family robbed us… we sit and brood over what would happen if Modi comes to power… in all these meaningless, simple worries, we forget to see the everyday reality of the rest of the world.
We do not see the constant confusion that Pakistanis live in. Anybody could just blow up any place in Pakistan because some Mullah had a constipation.
Look East. You’ll see China. Nothing comes out from there other than their President and cheap products! Nothing gets in.
Look further East; Burma and Cambodia. Read Ghosh’s book to understand the struggle of the ‘peoples’ there.
Afghanistan in the North West and Bangladesh in the South East. Sri Lanka in the South. Any comments?
We don’t even live in the constant cloud of terror attacks like the Americans and the British. ‘Bomb’ is not ‘Bomb’; it is the ‘B’ word. I have seen so many Americans and Brits getting paranoid if you mention some of these things; Bomb, terrorist, plane, gun… the list goes on.
In the middle of all this, there’s us. A country that still broods over its 220 years of foreign rule. For fuck’s sake, we fucked the Brits more than they fucked us. They’re yet to realize it. We got English, the Railways and all the states got kicked right in to the place in this grand Indian Jigsaw Puzzle. What did they get? Don’t tell me ‘The Great Economic Drain’. It was like giving a blank cheque to a teenager. Whatever the Brits drained from India, they destroyed it playing ‘The First World War’ and ‘The Second World War’. What did we get? We got the tiny monarchs here kicked out and the great Indian ‘Democracy’. Imagine Americans coming over here to give us ‘Democracy’. If you can imagine that, then you know that we got a better deal already in place. We were stupid. A portion of our population went nuts over religions. They clashed with each other and killed each other. Some innocents died too. There is poverty. But that is hardly an Indian problem. Every nation has poverty. Ours is actually one of those countries that has a decreasing rate of poverty. How about that, huh? We did not get invaded by anyone after Babur (although the British did a very systematic invasion!) nor did we suffer any direct damage from ‘the Wars’. All the other countries in the South East Asia had the ruthless Japanese Army marched all over them. When the Japanese retreated, they burned everything on their way back. Ghosh mentions how countries like Cambodia never really overcame that shock.
These essays are not to be considered as mere records of the different ethnic groups and their conflict with each other. They are to be treated also as a means to look upon ourselves and where we stand in this planet. Why are we what we are? What shaped our common destiny? What can we do as one people? These are the questions that should be asked at the end of this self-realization.
You the Serpent of Love hath.
I climb the Forest
to find your Lustrous Skin,
Shed in a Hurry,
Evading the Clutches of
I capture the Rays of the
to Calm my mind,
to Make a Weapon
to Slay your Endless Pact
With the Evil.
It is very rare that I talk about my Post Graduation days in the University. There are several reasons. If I have to be brutally honest, I’d say the main reason was that it didn’t go according to my plans. No! That was too gentle; it was a major fuck up. Well, I enjoyed a lot and grabbed a few things and learned a few lessons that shaped me into what(ever) I am today.
This post is specifically about how it all began. 2006. 1st semester. I was pushed on a topic to talk about, for an English Language course. Now, before I talk about the course instructor, I want to admit that I was not up to mark too. In fact, I was too confused with the new surroundings as I wanted to go for something else. Anyway, the topic was Early Theories on the Origins of Language. It was funny. They’re these: The Bow Wow Theory, The Pooh Pooh Theory, The Ding-Dong Theory, The Yo-He-Ho Theory, The Ta-Ta Theory and the La-La Theory. Before you think “Seriously???” let me tell you that these theories are discussed in Language classes all around the galaxy. Or so say expert Linguists. Remember that these are early theories from the time the Catholic Church refused to accept that the Earth was round. And, these were put into place just to stop people from making fantastic stories about the Origin of Language. It is said that in 1866, when the Paris Linguistic Society was founded, their bylaws included a ban on any discussions/speculations over the topic ‘How Languages Originated?’.
So, there I was, with a funny topic that had stuff like ‘Pooh-Pooh’ and ‘Ding-Dong’. I went to the library and collected some information. I had read about these during my Bachelors. Still I felt weird about looking at the sweet female classmates on their faces and say things like ‘Ding-Dong!’ I mean, I have done some weird things in my life but this was a whole new level. It was too late to learn some yoga technique to control myself from bursting out laughing.
That is when my roommate appeared with a solution. ‘Let’s have a drink.’ He said. I readily agreed. I have the notes in my hand. I just had to read it out. What’s the harm in having a beer or two? We went out and had some beer. One. Two. Three. Haywards. Haywards, again. After that it ran out, so Kingfisher. Kingfisher, again. While coming back, we met the Pork. Pork (nickname given by me and my roommate to a guy who gave us our first weed!) was delighted to see us walking like two drunken walruses. He gave us weed. So, we decided to go to the hostel terrace and tried it out. That night had two moons and countless meteors. By the time roosters started announcing the morning, we were capable of creating meteors by a simple swish of our forefingers.
My phone alarm rang and went dead. Then, the reminder came; ‘Seminar at 9.00 AM.’
I got up and panicked. Or that’s what I thought. T, my roommate, says that I just stayed where I was and howled. Anyway, he and the Philosopher (another character, who used to philosophize and spiritualize everything and personally cherished a good porn anytime of the day!) carried me back to the room. I was put on some new clothes of T’s selection. His fashion sense matched that of the most stylish Neanderthal. I was kept behind a bicycle and door-delivered at my class. I struggled and wriggled inside and then in no time, I found myself at the Podium, facing a class full of girls with some male faces sticking out here and there. At this point, it’d be nice of me to say that I did my Bachelors in a men’s college; one of those Catholic anomalies still existing in Kerala. My father, taking into consideration my exploits in Politics, decided to get me admission in St. Berchman’s College as it was the only college where student organizations were banned. That it did not have girls were just an add-on! So, suddenly, I was doing something that I hadn’t done in almost half a decade; being the centre of attention of a bunch of girls! The fact that I was pissed and stoned suddenly did not matter at all.
I even did not realize that I was standing there with only two pages out of the nine pages of information I had written down the previous day. But, there was no time to worry about that. I was beginning to worry about the fact that I could read only the headlines. So, I began, like Ron Burgundy stoned, to read out stuff like ‘Pooh-Pooh’ and ‘Ding-Dong’ and TA-TA’ with no connection or whatsoever. It seems I even attempted to write on the green board but I could barely move away from the podium. Anyway, it was a disaster and started me off on a bad relationship with our course instructor, who got very bad ideas about me. I cannot blame her for that. She was prejudiced about me. We never got along well.
It was not like it was all my fault. She knew shit about Language Teaching. Her classes on ‘Phonetic Transcription’ were the worst torture I had to go through. I WAS good at Transcribing. I was taught that art pretty well by Prof. A.J.T. back in S.B. There were a bunch of us in that class who could transcribe any English word better than an Englishman. This woman’s classes made me ‘undo’ whatever I was taught by one of the best teachers I’ve ever known. I was mercilessly thrown into a pit of confusion when it came to this art I once cherished. I never tried it again.
This is Richard Harris time for me. I have decided to watch and collect the movies of the late legendary Irish actor. Until recently, I never considered giving him or Richard Burton any importance that they deserved. So, I’m in this phase where I’m watching only Richard Harris’ films. Two days ago, I came across this amazing film called Orca (1977). I want my post to be about it.
Richard Harris plays the role of Captain Nolan, who hunts big marine animals to supply to the aquariums and institutes. During one of his exploits he comes across a marine scientist Rachel, played by Charlotte Rampling, who researches on Killer Whales. Captain Nolan gets interested in Orcas (Greek for Killer Whale) and try to catch one. Unfortunately, he tries to harpoon a killer whale in a group and ends up capturing its female mate which delivers a half-grown fetus. Captain Nolan and the crew gets troubled by the sight. The male Orca, which witnesses his mate’s death, attacks the boat on its way back to the harbour, to get the captured Orca back. A crew member dies while trying to release the captured and wounded Orca back into the Ocean. However, the female Orca dies from the wound and male Orca starts attacking the harbour, to take revenge upon Captain Nolan. The rest of the movie is about how Captain Nolan is made to take a decision on whether to go out into the sea and face his challenger, the Killer Whale.
I was reading up on the movie and felt a bit dull to know that it was often being compared to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws(1975). How much ever I try, I simply can’t bring the two movies together. Jaws features a man-eating great White Shark wreaking havoc in a coastal town where a Sheriff decides to hunt it down. What is the similarity between the two movies other than the man-versus-marine animal scenario? I personally think Orca is better because it features an intelligent animal and not a mindless beast like a Shark that doesn’t know (or care) what it eats. A Killer Whale, as it is said in the movie, is a social animal, just like us humans. They are known to have emotions and not entirely dependent on instincts. A shark on the other hand, is just an organic existence with a lot more teeth, that too sharp! There is no myth or legend about a Shark; except that it eats and that it can be eaten, if killed. But, if you start researching on Killer Whales, there’s no end to the number of myths and legends that surround this animal, right from the ancient times. There are American Indian legends to Greco-Roman myths to stories in Indian Languages. Orca, the film, have pretty much summed up the mythical as well biological data of this peculiar animal in the words of Dr. Rachel Bedford,
“You’re planning to capture and sell a fellow creature! He’s like you – he has worm blood, he breathes air, he’s a mammal, but with intelligence!”
The struggle of Roy Scheider to catch a toothy Shark is nowhere near the moral and personal struggle of Captain Nolan, who knows he has committed a sin to that animal by killing its mate and child. Richard Harris grows on you as the film progresses. From a cheeky, careless hunter whose only interest is to pay off the mortgage on his boat to a self-realizing, self-pitying man, filled with remorse, Harris demonstrates how a character should be evolved.
It is said that Richard Harris used to get terribly angry when any comparison was made between Jaws and Orca. He walked out of an interview, abused a film critic and punched a fellow traveller in the face whenever parallels were made between these two movies. I read about these incidents before watching the film. Now that I have watched it, I know why Harris, a legend by himself and at the same time one of the most impulsive and raw humans ever walked on the planet, did all that.
The film also has a beautiful soundtrack, especially in the opening scene where two Orcas are shown swimming around in a serene Ocean habitat. The cinematography is awesome and visual effects, nostalgic, taking you back to the typical 1970s’ favourite techniques of super imposition and colouring. IMDB has given it a rating of 5.5, as if someone like Richard Harris would give a damn. As a movie buff, I don’t.
Richard Harris movie festival will continue until I finish watching all that there’s to watch of his filmography. That means there is more of this type posts coming. Watch the movie if you can.