Sunday, November 15, 2009

Random, eclectic thoughts and links: September-November, 2009

Latest offering: The Cortland Review features my poem, with audio: (My father retired on 31 October, and the poem is a tribute to him; )

"India put all her emphasis on the harmony that exists between the individual ad the universal." // "Man must realize the wholeness of his existence, his place in the infinite... Deprived of the background of the whole, his poverty loses its one great quality, which is simplicity, and it becomes squalid and shamefaced.... His wealth is no longer magnanimous; it grows merely extravagant." Tagore in Sadhana

My Sunday morning thoughts (Nov 6): Damn this politics, religion, East, West, ignorance :) Life is beautiful when कवि (the poet) wakes up and remembers that the essential thing is

(मैंने तुझे माँगा तुझे पाया है / आगे हमें, जो भी मिले, या न मिले, गिला नहीं... I prayed for y...ou, received you/ You prayed for me, received you / Whatever future brings us, or does not bring, No discontent) (As an aside, Deewar is one of the finest movies of 70s, Salim-Javed weave memorable dialogues into excellent performances by Amitabh and Co, directed by Yash Chopra)

Myths are myths, why seek a historical, archaelogical or scientific proof, to say that fiction, even religious fiction is factual? I always read things about Ramayana, where people question why we have no archaeological evidence for it. Campbell's Occidental Mythology tells me Bible myths are no different from Eastern ...myths. Here is an interesting article discussing how the archaeological evidence defies some of the most important beliefs of Israelites about their history:

I went to dinner with Andrew Parker, an evolutionary biologist from Oxford, who has written a book titled: "The Genesis Enigma: Why the Bible is Scientifically Accurate" (see fro example)... (Needless to add that I had a very intriguing conversation with him; intriguing as it ventures into a possibility that even creationists cannot reconcile with. See here:

To complete cycle of myths:

Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell (A Hero with a thousand faces)

This excellent video from 1932 contains rare footage about Bombay (now renamed Mumbai)

'insaano ki izzat jab na jhoote sikko mein toli jaayegi / wo subah kabhi to aayegi' - Sahir (When the reputation of men won't be weighed in terms of fake coins / that dawn might arrive someday) The power of this line, the song is lost in translation. It is said that the movie, Phir Subah Hogi, is based on Crime and Pu...nishment, and our lyricist-poet, Sahir urged the director to find a music director who had read Dostoevsky & the book. Hence Khayyam got the coveted movie. Later Khayyam was to make as famous songs as Kabhie Kabhie mere dil mein (another Sahir song, his most popular song, but maybe not his best lyric) . The socialist in Sahir, in Phir Subah Hogi:

If we were to judge epics by impact they have had on human existence, Illiad fades in comparison to both Mahabharata and Ramayana. In rewriting Tulsidas, he created a work that helped us to reunderstand humanity (as one third of it lived in India then)... Here is a famous verse, in Lata's voice, with a tepid translation

Friday evening & beer

Beer was invented by a God! :) Soma must have been great... & we know wine is divine... we know Punjab & Scotland was riased on whiskey, and many praise rum.. Russians love vodka, Japanese Sake, Indians Tharra .. but beer, ah, is universal, is full of bubbles, evanescent like human life, intoxicating like whatever is b...est and worst in humanity.. Read Bachchan, read Omar Khayyam or drink a good, old glass of beer!

The most unexpected (and detailed) feature of the MIT newsletter... Sex @ MIT (Viewer discretion advised; adult content)

Thoughts of a Saturday morning, (14 Nov)

Rain, बारिश, हजारों ख्वाइशें ऐसी, A Thousand desires such as these, Farida Khanum singing: (सारी दुनिया के रंज-ओ-गम दे कर/ मुस्कुराने की बात करते हो; After giving the sorrows and pain of the whole world/ you talk of smiling; हमको अपनी खबर नहीं यारो/ तुम ज़माने की बात करते हो; We have no news of our own self/ you talk of the world), और मैं, एक अधूरी कविता, and me, an unfinished poem...

'ek nahin do do matra / nar se bhaari hai naari' -- Maithalisharan Gupt in 'Dwapar' ('Not one, but two vowels / Woman has more substance than Man')

A pretty good open letter about faculty hiring in IITs:
(Loved the quote: If you pay peanuts, you can get only monkeys')

'The curator smiled at the mixture of old-world piety and modern progress that is the note of India today'. Kim (1901), by Rudyard Kipling (Did he mean progress can be identified with lack of piety in the new world?)

Finished reading or close to finishing: Black Swan (Taleb), Diaries of a Young Poet (Rilke), Guerrillas (Naipaul), A Tree Within (Octavio Paz), Representative Men (Emerson), Kim (Kipling), Occidental Mythology (Campbell), Illiad (Homer, trans. by Fawles),  Tao Te Ching by Lao Tze, Dwapar (Maithalisharan Gupt), Meri Priya Kahaniyan (Yashpal), Germinal by Zola, & King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan (A. Chopra).

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