Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why do men express love/ affection in such odd ways? The number of times I've heard women being referred to as a 'child' or a 'doll' or their judgement and intelligence dismissed as if nullified by their cuteness, is alarming and disturbing. It makes me wonder if love only means an intense desire to protect. And protect out of a sense of possessiveness. Personally, I find it simply impossible to like back such nut jobs.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I wonder what would happen to me if I had no access to mirrors. Would I care about a bad haircut if I couldn't even see how it looked. Or threaded eyebrows. Right now I find it hard to walk by a car without staring at my reflection. Its not because I need to reassure myself of my staggering beauty.. Its probably more to do with my inability to accept myself physically just as people around me haven't been able to accept the way I look. Too thin is a curse too, you know. One would imagine that after 23 years of looking at my skinny self, people would get over my appearance. But these 'skinny legs and all' never fail to be a conversation starter in my world. Sigh..

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's amazing how certain words acquire such specific meanings in specific contexts. The words 'struggle' and 'chance' for example, can never mean the same thing to a non film walla as opposed to someone who has spent years in Bombay trying to get one opportunity to do what s/he wants in films. These two words sum up a range of experiences and emotions so specific to any dreamer in the city. Struggle becomes a shared experience, a phase, an obstacle, and also something that defines and makes valuable the possibility of a 'chance'.
So many must have gone through this ordeal for these words to have such fixed alternative meanings.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The History Project 2

The Anglo Arabic School, Ajmeri Gate, Delhi.

A few students of this school have undertaken to explore their own histories over the summer. Sitting under the arched enclosures of this school, whose history itself goes back almost three centuries, these boys come together each week to talk and write about the past from their own perspective, having gone round the narrow streets and lanes of Old Delhi, speaking to strangers and asking questions about the city and life within it. This exploration has already produced a beautiful yellowed map from 1857 showing Delhi as it existed during the Revolt. A kind old gentleman was kind enough to lend this treasured map to the kids for their project. Here's hoping the quest throws up more such wonders...

Monday, May 23, 2011

The History Project

When I was in school, one of my least favorite subjects was history. Text books full of events, dates, figures, narratives; teachers with nothing to offer in addition to the text, their primary function being reading the textbook out loud as a way of explanation- the subject sucked the joy out of life. I couldn't understand the point of it and eventually I came to the conclusion that the only reason why society would expect its children to learn up these details was because it was afraid everything would be forgotten. An apocalyptic scenario presented itself in my head. What if all the books were destroyed? What if all the Elders were killed? What would happen to our past? And so, I thought, everything else in the world must became secondary to collective memory. And a collective memory so perfect, that the same sentences rang in everyone's heads year after year, each having mugged up the same books.

I realize now that it is not simply a fear of forgetting that motivates historical study. And also that the kind of histories we studied in school were biased, simplistic and deeply problematic. We grew up believing in the sanctity of the historical narratives provided to us and the validity of the prejudices that came with them. No one told us histories are subjective and incomplete. No one told us all of us were historians too. The fear of being overwritten necessitated the creation of a hegemonic view of the past.

No teacher ever attempted to question the biases of the text. Or to add stories that might not have been inked. Not until Chitra Maam, in class 11, crossed out, slashed, skipped, scowled over, and over wrote the text book. She never taught from one book. She even refused to teach from the prescribed textbook one year for its blatantly obvious political and religious prejudices. She made us contextualize each other as well as rulers from the distant past. We played characters, sang songs, listened to music from different parts of the world, fought historical and contemporary battles verbally and learnt to see reality as a fuzzy, messed up construction.

I remember becoming aware of history as a personal story in her classes, and not something out there, unapproachable and unconnected to my existence. I became aware of my position as both subject of history as well as its writer. It takes one History Project to change your perspective of the world around you; especially from a teacher who always remained a student of history herself.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I blew golden bubbles
And swallowed a silver cloud

Then let your cold blood flow
And took away your purple shroud

I wept a few frozen tears
And watched the warm sun drown

Then saw a feather fall silently
And drank to your fallen crown

I heard the wind whisper secrets
And lies often told

So I left you to your dusty splendor
And watched, as the ash turned cold.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Here We Still Use an Mp3

When you design your life to maximize procrastination and slowness, the soundtrack nature and the modern urban reality offer, turn out to be largely insufficient and sometimes purely annoying. Isn't it usually when a giant truck throws buckets of hot black smoke into your face while its engine sings the most ravaging tunes that the desire to plug in those earphones is strongest. Then there is also the need to imagine parts of your life as sleek montages set to the perfect score.
Some fun artists who have lent their words, voices, guitars and pianos to the soundtrack of my life the past year...

Angus and Julia Stone

This brother-sister duo from Australia make some really heart warming music. Julia's beautiful, eccentric voice lights up songs like For You and And The Boys that anyway win you over with their gentle, drifting lyrics. Angus works up numbers like the immensely popular and addictive Big Jet Plane and Yellow Brick Road with a delicious guitar solo at the end. With fragile melodies and lyrics, their songs have a wonderful soulfulness. A breezy- folksy feel runs through their songs, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.
Personal Favorite: For You

Regina Spektor

She makes words do things they didn't even know they could. Her music is weird, eccentric, odd. She breaks words up, screams, swears, beatboxes, tells magical or irrelevant stories and sings without a care in the world. Quirky lyrics with extremely hum-able tunes, she brings something new to each song she sings.Her songs are sometimes so poignant and honest. They reflect the way she sees the world and experiences it as somewhat of an outsider. A misfit. Highly refreshing.
Personal Favorite: The entire album- Begin to Hope + One More Time With Feeling

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The year 2011 has been about Faiz and his poetry. And through him discovering the wonderful voices of Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum, Nayyara Noor and Ali Sethi. After Ghalib, this has been my second serious attempt at understanding urdu poetry. Listening to Na Ganwao Navike in Farida Khanum's haunting voice makes the poem even more beautiful. Nayyara Noor similarly sings Tum Mere Paas Raho with so much love and tenderness.
Personal Favorite: Raqeeb Se (Nayyara Noor) and Dasht-e-tanhai (Iqbal Bano)

Fabrizio Paterlini

This man makes the most delicious tunes on the piano. Sometimes haunting and sad, but also deeply inspiring, and hopeful, he can do wonders with his piano. I wonder why no one's picked up his tracks for a film. Gorgeous music.
Personal Favorite: Veloma and Profondo Blu