John Updike, RIP
Time to dust off that second-hand copy of “In the Beauty of the Lilies”.
Bought because one ought to have read an Updike. Ought to.
Bought also because the cover looked pretty.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Dasvidanya is very good.
(No, I’m not saying goodbye. In Russian or any other language.)
The movie, yes?
Vinay Pathak is brilliant. As the man with maybe two months to live.
To finish up all the loose odds. To tie up the ends.
I cried tons. Laughed uproarious. Heckled. Sobbed tears I didn’t know I had. Laughed.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. Gibran.
(I don’t care if it is a copy of some Angreji film. I don’t watch Angreji)
The humor, the subtleties, the nuances, the digs and verbal nonverbal hints were very much Indian.
It stuns you. Leaves you blank.
Reminds you of your own “use by” date.
Leaves you at the crossroads.
“ and they have their exits and entrances...”.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
You want me to translate.
Words of joy, words of sorrow, words dewdrop fragile, words of hope that dance on the breeze.
I refuse. No, I wont.
Shan’t. Tweedle-dee. No. Nada.
But you’re good. Very good.
Sam, dam, dand, bhed- you try it all, so lightly, that gracious touch.
(No- I can’t translate that. Somewhat means- by all means fair or foul.)
I’m stubborn. Not an inch.
No, its not particularly tough.
No, not a scab issue; this little birdie long became a filthy hawk.
I dunno- but won’t.
Then you use that golden allure. Your contacts.
What a lovely tantalizing thread.
A shortcut to “apply apply, no reply”.
Quid pro quo. No free lunch.
You know I’m hungry for that one chance.
But I won’t budge.
I’m stubborn that way.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
And in the five minutes waiting to check in, I meet you, so far away from distant Oregon; you ask if the air is as hazy, a brown fog, all over India, but see-I don’t even notice the haze. You tell me you’ve come to find your calling, your life purpose, to meet your spiritual leader. God speed and good times be with you, I say; as I wonder if I’d ever have the courage to go halfway around the world to seek, drawn purely on whimsy chance. You tell me your new name, I’ve never heard it before- it’s a name you created for your new life, a name you’ve legally taken. I stare and wonder- at stories past, at profiles in courage.
From the plane window the river twists and turns, a lazy serpent with a shiny glitzy skin as the sunshine shimmers in tiny waves, the canal cuts straight and narrow past the tiny brown and green patches in shapes not rectangular that I don’t know what they’d be called.
Now I'm back. For now.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Utraan today. I scour the sky for kites, but its an empty pale blue. I turn the corner and see a notice board with kites in ten different colors, kites that kids from the colony have decorated. Suddenly sunshine.
The platform was unending, stretched way into the suburb, but the train halted there for all of two min., way better than going all the way to the other suburb with its platform chock a block with people and all that running about. This one was quiet, eerie, or serene- depending on your point of view. Not a single soul on the platform when I reached, not too many when the train left. But yes, it did give you a balcony view of the homes lining the station, complete with banana trees, tulsi chowk and the constant sound of running water.
The home town was chill, but one was prepared. After glaring at the autofella for not going by the meter it was but natural to walk home, yes to that brief moment of fear, the steps echoing too loudly at the underbridge, yes to that trickle of water dripping somewhere and that weird sound of the grate and that moment of relief when one stepped out. Striding on RC Dutt Rd when even the strays were asleep, past the two bungalows that stand stately proud the way good and propah regal homes should. Got home all charged, and was asleep in a few.
The kites! Spilling over footpaths. Decked across impromptu shops. Every nook and corner and inch of the city. Too bad I can’t stay. But the colors- I take them back, all the hues.
Reading Paulo Coelho on the flight back. Thinking abt the way the right words reach you at the right time. Thinking abt how grief recovery is a process, a language with its own syntax and grammar and no matter what I’ll tell her, she has to resolve this. Live through this. Alone. About how the terrain from a plane window is so much like the big picture we see when we pull back from a situation. The terrain all browns, curving and folding upon itself, that line sweeping to the far distance -so much like a human brain.
Race course is a velvet carpet interrupted by a whirly bird. The surprise of it all, finding it plonked behind the auto garages, and then that stupendous shortcut up the bridge, ah life!
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Monday, January 05, 2009
Whenever there has been total chaos I have been drawn there. As if led on a string that’s been pulled in. The last time was right after 9/11, I remember. Something leading one to the worn stone, the serenity, the “removed from this world” pace at the Prince of Wales (POWales) Museum.
I take the local train, second class. The girl sitting by has a letter from the Economic Offences Wing, someone has taken away their power of attorney and taken a loan on their flat. The girl sitting opposite commutes for an hour and half all 365 days, or something close to it- she’s a cook at four homes. Nothing like a train trip to shake me out of my ivory tower existence in a hurry.
Yes, you can take photos at the POWales but that’s 200 bucks. Steep. No, you can’t step on the lawn or take a closer look at the handsome man chiseled in black granite, Prince George V- not after the 1993 bombings.
Security’s been tightened, there are CCTVs, but later I see that the “backside” as we so comfortably call it, is open.
I loiter. I am drawn, as I knew I’d be, to the Indian sculpture gallery, the displays from Taxila and Mirpur-khas in particular, mostly 2-5 C AD. I spend an hour there, easily. I find what I’m looking for.
The rest of the time there passes in a blur, I do look at some fine art, paintings on India through the centuries, durbars and common man alike, work that’s been loaned from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; as also a display of maps on India starting from the 1490’s. I’m amused to see I look for the home town in all the maps, see that tiny dot on that map from 1740? Yes, we’re there, thank you.
And I gape at the coin collection, chunky in gold and silver with perfectly proportioned motifs, apparently Emperor Akbar had appointed his chief calligrapher the head of his mint…
After all this, the mad melee at Westend where I dutifully stop by to pick up a purse, that passes like a breeze. No streetside bargaining this once.