Monday, January 31, 2005
A note on my take on a few matters that have purportedly affected me lately
Obscurantism appears the leitmotif of the origins of the PHL—a shot in the dark mired in the recesses of stale commerce rather than a bud blooming under open skies for the sheer joy of sport. I have never believed that holding up examples of success will go too far without pumping in commitment and investment at the levels that produce talent—true for hockey as much for say, sculpture.
Commercial success is not an indicator of anything, is not a function of anything, does not predict anything, does not guarantee anything, and Ayn Rand can go take a walk.
I wish I liked hockey, though.. but I will be the last one to watch it just because my blithering nation has decided to proceed with a harebrained heist.
I am ashamed that we should gauge our prowess in any field by the recognition that the fatally flawed West deigns to bestow drowning in indulgence and condescension. I am even more ashamed when somebody from outside has to point out the hope, optimism, glory and grandeur of my land. ( Ed—Jingoism drips from every word, mon cher !)
I have not attempted to watch Shwaas—am sure that it would well worth the aura that it has garnered, and will encourage similar projects. But to yield to panegyrics of the film, and berate all and sundry for their lack of public support was foolhardy and meaningless, besides a good way to lose money.
Why must an Indian film compete on vastly unequal ground for any reason whatsoever ?
Maddening and frustrating, more so that not winning does not detract one wee bit from the artistic excellence that the director achieved.
Nor vice versa.
I mean , Titanic won so many ( Ed—Watch it, watch it, don’t go overboard !)
Now for the most knotty case. Rohan Pinto ko gussa kyon aata hai, or rather, Rohan Pinto ko dekhkar hame gussa kyon aata hai.
Righteous indignation is but natural, especially when the scrambled outpouring of a human brain is concerned. More so, when the public front is that my opinion is as inviolable, as inextricable a reflection of my cognitive muttering as can be.
Something that one I admire unabashedly said to me—How can you presume that your opinion and outlook, which you cling on so fervently is your own ? When I replied that I did not know what was meant, I was told that my “self-concept” is defined by so many directions and shaped by so many personas that I am left with and acquainted with the addled mess, and very little else.
Anyway, I find it unfathomable that a reader of a blog is dissociated greatly from the quintessence of the writer’s raison d’etre, his/her mental models or reference points. Henceforth, I see no merit , artistic, literary or otherwise in plagiarizing in a forum as intricate and diverse as this. So I would really question the intelligence of any reader who strings along RP’s specious claims about his originality. And that to my mind, is the end of the matter.
( Ed—You crave plurality from an insular and singular point of view, but I will let that pass )
Sunday, January 30, 2005
I take this opportunity to launch a neologism.
Crossword--(noun) "They also sell books"- laa dee dah.
Crossword (verb)--completing a book in one sitting in a public place without borrowing it, or paying for it in any way. Can be done in parts too. May entail backache, headache.
The Brirish Council in most cities ( depending on the affluence levels attempted and scaled)has atleast spotless table festooned with some exotic stuff which speak volubly of the 18th century Chair designs, advances in tropical gardening and the nuances of baroque among others. Needless to say, I tilt the other way.
On the odd occasion, I have even been importuned by an old fossil on whether I need any such book. Horrified, I pretend that I have not heard and furtively peek if anyone else has caught this exchange.
Spotted a hitherto unchallenged copy of The Return--a tastefully done up cover with Conrad as the author. Weasled my way carefully into a decent attacking position--after all think of the public outcry if I am caught persuing through one of the above tomes !
An interesting if unspectacular foreword which bespoke an entire cast of two characters-an added attraction was the demure innunendo thrown in that the lady did not think or speak much.(Ed--Like most ladies should, I imagine !) A read was warranted and I chugged on.
The introduction by Colm Toibin mentions that Conrad was fascinated by the literary style( before he went into oblivion) of Henry James and this be the closest resemblance that JC could have to HJ.. ( Ed--That reminds me--you were to read The Master by Colm Toibin, but in your brazen way, finished off The Line of Beauty and Cloud Atlas ahead !)
The story is of a successful businessman , endowed with looks, brains and a socially attractive wife who comes in home on evening to find that his absent spousewife has left him an epistle , begging for forgiveness as she says she's leaving for another man. This causes Alvan Hervey to go into paroxysms of shock and awe, anguish and turmoil, bewilderment and disillusionment in that order..
Very descriptive writing as his emotional gears are set against his looking out into the evening streets below his home through his metaphoric window.
He is more upset by the fact that his wife has shown her wont in a bout of unseemly demonstration even as he has gone through his five year marriage with her thinking that he has been a caring and affectionate husband who has traded his love and status for his wife's quest for stability and acceptability. That she has walked out on him is itself not distasteful to him , but her obeying what best is a raw emotional chord unsettles him terribly.
Of course, he is consumed with thoughts of her undisclosed lover and her antics behind his back etc.
Into this labyrinth of incomplete thought walks back the wife, and archly announces that she has changed her mind. This happens after both seethe silently with their respective furies--he with his feeling of being let down by her display of lack of reserve and restraint, she with his inability to understand her action in that light.
She glibly speaks of her intent and speaks of returning to him and forgetting the act in entirety.He clings by his articlukation of his beliefs that Self Restraint is everything in Life, the Noblest beliefs demand adherence, rectitude, morality and duty.
He is still flabbergasted that she has not risen above what he sees as preternatural sentiments. He stalls her idea of continuing with their lives and a short while later, walks out his house himself, never to return.
The passages brim with colour and vibrancy. The sounds on the streets below capture and match his thoughts throughout the tale. In that sense, it could lend itself for a theatre adaptation with felicity.
I have an axe to grind with the language. Can say with certitude that English was not his linguistic choice. Conrad uses some words ad nauseam and in a short novel, hardly a hundred pages, that may seem culpable. I can remember decorous, annihilation offhand and they detract markedly from the wan plot.
Not a smooth read, can hardly say that words segued into each other and all that quasi-poetical embellishments.
A 6.5 on 10 !
Saturday, January 29, 2005
A very good series of matches with the fact that the Top Four Men's Seeds making it to the Last Four getting much lesser credit than it deserves. A far cry indeed from the day when Lendl, Sanchez, Krajicek and even Cash got away with insensitive remarks about the fairer s with nigh a worry.
Sure that this will be Davenport's swansong. Backed her to win today. Am ashamed at my lack of emotion at this being almost certainly her last year. A very balanced tennis player, a game that had its flaws early on and how well she's overcome those. A diffident volley corrected by hours of doubles. Wore a podgy sullen look for much of her formative years, still retains that but smiles a wee bit more after matches. Weighed down quite literally but that 6'2'' frame is compact and wiry now. Mobility no more a question mark. What a monumental feat !( Ed-Yeah, you should know, you haven't managed to shed one kilo in the last four years !) Solid allround game that on its day has been bested by athleticism, court acumen, explosive power and cunning--not perhaps vested in any person at once.
Not a popular player--strange!
Has been married for the last two seasons and that could offer her solace and consolation as the curtains draw on an ever-so-slightly underachieving career.
To the other great hero of this Open, Corina Morariu . Has battled and beaten cancer, am sure that she will not mind the Finals loss ( partnering LD) to Kuznetsova and the monstrously hyped Molik much. Have seen the tennis world rallying around only once before-Rosenbaum I think in the mid-80's. After having looked at Death at close quarters, I would not have minded losing almost my matches ( Ed-That is because you would have lost all matches anyway !).
My favourite doubles team has sadly not teamed up this time-Ruano Pascual with another veteran, Martinez-lost in the 2nd . Come on, Paula, you know I miss you.
I have yet to detect a patently human trait called consistency of any kind in Safin, and I feel that will prevent his winning the Open in his third final in four years. One has to admire the guttural gutter-like instincts of Hewitt who is endeavouring to prove that Cjlisters is behind him. May turn out to be the Davis Cup player of his generation yet.
Federer lost, Thank God for small mercies.
Monday, January 24, 2005
The self-congratulatory paeans that are being sold by the kilo on all forms of media reestablishes the notion that Indians are starved for success-- any form or shape of a whiff is welcome. While we must revel in whatever we do achieve, on and off the courtside, perhaps it is also educational to reflect on some facets of what underpin this elusive end.
I will try and restrict my diatribe only to tennis, being possibly other than pillow-fighting, marbles and gulli danda , the only sport that I truly like/have any pretense of knowledge about. ( Ed: But Lacrosse on horseback or Norse golf must come a close second !)
For one, the lass entered on a wild card. That itself has been the precursor to exalted feats, circa Ivanisevic, Denmark and dare I say it some Hon. PMs .
In the sporting arena, it only forebodes the ineluctable fact that our lass is not in the Top 96 as detailed by the WTA. The reasons for this are manifold, but on the whole, the Ranking enjoyed is a good indicator of a player’s current playing ability. The only caviling that we have accepted is when Rios became World No. 1 without winning a Grand Slam, or when Cjlisters managed something similar.
I will now hark to her age, which is a perfectly good age to bloom in all walks of life. But I cannot but point out feebly that Hingis, Serena herself among a host of others had shown enough mettle at a much younger age—in singles and doubles—Hingis won the US Open Doubles with Sukova much before she tasted Singles success. So maybe her best is already past her—horrible thing to say!
Her play is unremarkable—a Ball Toss that is subject to severe vicissitudes of temperament and wind, and is not supportive of any good setting up opportunities. It’s a stand alone in the sense that it is bereft of any sort of consistency and authority. The groundstrokes are the best part of her game –a nice Howitzer forehand that is partly offset by a steady and unspectacular backhand. Again, there will be taller girls .
What I am concerned about is her mobility. In the Ladies game, it is simply not good enough to blaze away from the baseline in the forlorn hope of outright winners. This devil-may-care glint will have to be tempered in the years to come.
Finally, her volley is a work of fiction.
The much-vaunted Doubles win at Wimbledon is at best salutary, at its worst, inconsequential. I mean, ask Gael Monfils what he feels about the doubles game.
The Indian tennis scene ever since I’ve followed the game—from the days of Enrico Piperno, S Narendranath, Nandan Bal , S Vasudevan , Zeeshan Ali , Asif Ismail, Natekar & Paes to the u-18 era of Rohit Reddy, Akash Lamba, Rohit Rajpal , the Kirtanes has been plagued by abominably low standards to aim at. Even in the ladies’, Rushmi C, Aarti Venkatraman, Sai Jailakshmi, and now the likes of the Bhambiri sisters, the Lakhanis, Manisha Malhotra have always been in the quarters of any Indian event without brooking any opposition. The best among them, Peggy Zaman and Divya Merchant did not even bother to stay on in India. The other malaise is that it is only a passport to the wretched US of A, hence my utter contempt for the likes of those who play here with the sole intent of converting this to a Green Card , or whatever scrap their citizenship entails. I am not sure that she is any different.
There is a more than an undercurrent of a “attitude” in her confident gait and her garbled speech. She knows she is important and for her sake, I hope that false fame and transient success don’t go to her head. Yes, she is the ambassador for the Girl Child and what a huge responsibility that engenders. I wish her and her ilk well.
And finally, Mandrula would have lost to a baby giraffe in the second round had the giraffe wielded a tennis racquet.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
THE MURDER OF EDWIN DROOD
Nope, that’s not the name of the title I read recently. Yet that is the name that had long since ensconced itself in the recesses of an adolescent memory—the parting shot of a literateur par excellence. It must have been maybe even two decades since I last his work, and then there was the odd hint of shoulder-pushing in the form of that dreaded accompaniment to the leitmotif, quaintly known as Read for Pleasure. As if there is any other grand purpose to that fine art !
The cast of characters is set against an excessively sombre, bleak , mawkish Victorian landscape. Cloisterham, a thinly disguised Rochester is portrayed with Miss Rosa Bud, the orphan pubescent fiance of a still-gullible eponymous protagonist—having the eerie Bollywood touch of being engaged by the generation that had now passed on. His guardian and Lord Protector, John Jasper is a saturnine creature, brimming with the dark passions lightened by the excesses of opium. His music classes with Rosa are a thinly-veiled cloak for his love/lust. Of course, like most clairvoyant females of her wont, has not a clue. Into this step Helena and Neville Landless, again orphans from Ceylon by a philanthropist, the girl to be housed and tutored at Rosa’s orphanage and he by the Canon.
Neville develops some regard for Rosa and is incensed by Edwin’s insouciance at his professed good fortune. Fisticuffs are a mite away and a drunken brawl could have turned uglier before the Canon intervenes.
In the nick of time, Edwin and Rosa fortuitously conclude that theirs is not the love of the amorous and in true Bolloywood ishtyle swear to be brother and sister ever after.They decide that they will not tell uncle Jasper to obviate the nasty jar he may receive.
Shortly after, E & N saunter to watch a passing tsunami-esque storm one gloomy night after which E is not seen again. N steadfastly maintains that he is not the killer, yet he is incarcerated. J publicly vows to avenge E’s death. One or two surreal personas later, the story abruptly stops.
( The explanation being that the author suffered a stroke midway and did not write again )
I liked the book although some of the thematic props that might have been ingenious in the author’s time may be dated. The story itself is unremarkable and commonplace.
BOY DONE GOOD !
One of the better days of the year so far—that’s not much considering the luck that has plagued me for awhile now.
The Objective setting exercise that I was to facilitate went off like a dream. I was finally able to wrestle against gravity and wretched tiredness by arising to the cries of the absent rooster before six.
The flip side-Flinders Park is a closed book yet.
Hope for a good stay in Cyberabad .
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Very very early days in the year, but I will wager that two of my recently-read books will more than hold their own against others in line.
Visited the neighbourhood Crossword, chanced upon a few good ones , unflinchingly picked up Franny and Zooey and read right through. Uncomfortable beyond description and redemption—I always have maintained a near-supine recumbence while reading so doing so in a curled-up posture was unbecoming and physically arduous. This addled with the cacophony that usually prevails in this joint–the ubiquitous shrieked “ Hello, Pinky, am at Crosswords ( not true, that’s not the name !), what was the mystery book that you had mentioned –What, the Whimsy Code, no what the Vinci code, OK , Got it , the da Vinci Code , will get it for you “ routine, reading is not quite pleasurable but I perservere these days. So as mentioned, completed the book in one sitting.
Yes, the book itself was absorbing. Was rivetted to the tale most of the way. Only my second Salinger .( I remember that the first was in the mosquito-ridden confines of a poorly-lit, sultry and desiccating railway platform ) . A long time since I listened to a winsome lady purporting to be the author’s mistress on the Beeb. .
Told in two parts, each named after a sibling, intertwined by what could be considered common characters or at least common characteristics.
Was reliably informed that the two halves were separately written works for a magazine in the 1950’s and that makes sense, as there is but a tenuous narrative link between the two.
Franny is a precocious twenty year old with a nervous breakdown when she visits her rather affected and clichéd boyfriend, Lane Coutell. Character mannerisms, shards of thought that rear up to full-blown conversational palaver, sheer intellect of the lead and her utter incomprehensibility with her beau are conveyed with panache. In fact, I’d say a skilled piece of work in itself.
Her inability to suffer pedants gladly and her fervid urge to move away from the spiritually-impoverished and hypocritical were some facets that I could relate to..
The second half features Zooey, her brother and five years her senior, who is a chronic underachiever despite endowed with a perspicuous bent of mind that presents itself as scathing damnation of most things commonplace and banal. His conversation with his mother is marked with his inwardness, his ill-concealed derision and the distance between him and her. The Glass children, which Franny and Zooey are, among seven children were childhood radio artists which imbues them with an uncanny wit and tartness. The eldest brother, Seymour committed suicide and his emptiness pervades the rest of the clan..
The final part deals with Zooey’s faked tele-call with his sister, where he attemts to knock some sense into her, decrying her quest for a universally-problem-resolving Jesus Prayer as something that will yet not accord her that elusive peace and becalmed mind. He points out that her incantation is as conceited and self-engrossed as the blatant egotism against she is battling against.
Finally, fulsome content –East and West, illumination of some tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, a distinctly flippant approach to philosophy and understanding of some psyches made this book quite good.
Overall, an 8.5 on 10.
To top this, my sibling sent me some test on the book—I made 38 on 40 with one answer being contentious, that’s good all round except for poor Croosword—must take care I don’t venture out too soon again !!
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
(with a thousand apologies to E ni B)
Well, the Higher Authorities ( They Who Shall Not Be Named )decided that the time to treat the branch had finally arrived after a cataclysmic year. So everyone got to choose their idea of the organization's most lipsmacking treat/refreshment. The Box of Treasures was passed around.The chic ones had eyes only for FOXS candies, the petite ones wanted eclairs. but the rest rooted for chocolate.
Ever a pleasure to see grown-ups assert their true selves—a delight to see hierarchy taking its rightful place and folks jostle, sledge, swear and sweat to get the lion’s share of the goodies. All terribly unhealthy notions of Genteel behaviour, the arduous lessons learnt at Mom’s knee, that purgatory nonsense about giving better than receiving also carefully get defenestrated and Man in His Element, his Epiphany stands Tall.
Mercifully, one bar that doesn’t sell ( clever pun, that !) was not distributed so all were happy, content, benign—full of Resolutions and Wafer Chocolate. One dastardly soul ( obviously in anguish at the ludicrously short time he’d taken to devour the stuff) looked around the wrapper and informed us that we had just consumed 96 kcal in about 0.1874 seconds. Another tormented being then lugubriously stated that it took him about 12 minutes of non-stop jogging to burn those stated calories. A Pall of Gloom descended on the cheery winter morn. We counted our blessings ( taking care to avoid counting the nourishment ) and got back to work.
As an aside, the tables are somewhat turned during a Presentation ( usually uncalled-for, irrelevant and incomprehensible ). The Speaker does his/her best in endeavouring to enthrall a listless audience that is noticeably ill at ease, shifty and unfocussed.
Now as soon, as the hamper of eats is brought into the hallowed room, the aforementioned Epiphany rears its head. All hell breaks loose, a Commotion and a half later, it is found that what was served to last two hours has been disdainfully polished off in about two minutes. The benumbed audience reluctantly retrains its collective senses on the Original Object of Attention.
Now, a minute’s silence for the Doleful Speaker—He has, as has been said, already lost his audience. To round off matters, owing to the overtly munificent tendencies of his watchers, he has not been able to lay his hands on even one piece of the goodies on offer.
They also serve who stand and deliver presentations…
( But they are not served, So There ! )
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Most of my brethren in the software fraternity may not be able to relate to this, but conversely, I must adduce my timorous inability to relate to most of them too. So we are about even.
I have always been curious in trying to fathom how culture at work is affected by the way individuals address each other. My education ( Ed—Watch it, Son—Education is the lighting of a lamp, not the filling of a pail ) impelled me to surmise that in the Big Bad Corporate World, “suits” said “Sir” before, after and in a sentence. ( Ed—Sentence—yeah, that’s the mot juste for a corporate existence )
Not a bit of it.During my first day at work (used in the most liberal sense of the term ) , the General Manager peremptorily halted my inane soliloquy on why I had chosen my career in the way I had by asking him to call him by his initials. I gasped, my colleagues gasped, the AC gasped –what was this bloke drivelling on about? How could we, Teething Tyros, call Him , of colossal field experience and one who was in the field before any of us were even born, address him as an equal ? He cheerily reassured us saying that what he had asked so innocently was no different from the way everyone in the firm had addressed him ever since he began.
We got used to it, gradually and reluctantly.
This World Vision of seeing all laity as belonging to one of two diacritic camps, the “Sirs” and those who “Sir”, had congealed with the long association with the Army where any other form of opening a dialogue is deemed on the Road to Perdition.
Did/does it make a difference ?
Now I would be the last person to aver that this gesture, as glib and perfunctory as it may be, engenders Equality, Unity of Purpose, an esprit d corps and all of Monsieur Fayol’s precepts. Yet, it did appear to make a difference to the levels of intimacy and approachability with a superior in every transaction. Perhaps a .8 on Correlation –unsure on Regression!!
It did leave an unwieldy imprint on my then impressionable mind ( Ed—Impressionable--You ?Have you even heard of Truth ? ) because the next time I heard an acolyte use the dreaded three letters, to someone who was about three years older, I almost gagged trying to suppress my mirth.
Again, I am not wholly convinced whether all the bonhomie and goodwill that the two individuals had enjoyed owing to their Life Stage had been frittered away because of the mere utterance of an unwelcome word.
Another angle to this whole story was covered in my protracted factory stints. There is the Union, which as the name suggests, is a body created and maintained to perpetuate the febrile and frenzied ideology of an era long gone. In most circumstances, the sapient Leaders are seasoned veterans, Harbingers of Insight and hence rather long in the tooth. As both entities play a role, at times, literally, I have encountered most situations overwrought with politeness and gallantry. But when the chips are really down, in other words the business end of proceedings, the veneer lifts and the Dreaded Name of the Individual is used.
So where does that leave us ?
I guess, the Relationship governs the Terms of Endearment.
To purr, with love
To a cur, with hate.
Monday, January 03, 2005
The first working day of the year passed off uneventfully. To my bemusement, it was a great deal better than I had hoped.
To begin with, the power excused itself sometime in the wee hours. So when I stirred and shook myself at about six (Ed—This insidious statement might lead people to believe that is your usual waking time ) , I was engulfed in darkness. Now, nothing particularly unsettling about that—I sleep with no Night Lights, the Sun sleepily enters through the curtain after seven. Nothing at all a premonition of anything remotely disastrous , except that the fan was not whirring. A quick glance was enough to glean that the power as stated, despite the encouraging ramblings of the landlord, had shut shop. Searched high and low for the candles—tough, as I have no clue that I even have candles—gave up, curled up and went back to sleep till there was light. The efficient Baxter-electrician who came in a good two hours after being summoned, diagnosed that the MCB needed replacing.
The credit card company said they were sending down some shirty blokes to ensure that I cough up.( Yeah, the kind that say—We believe in God, the rest—cash please )
And my New Year is off to a propitious start. Hurrah !!!