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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yesterday, Once more

One minute there was appreciative laughter in the room -  Karan Johar , in his inimitable style, had just uttered a witticism, which had us, if not exactly rolling in the aisles,  certainly grinning from ear to ear. A popular awards function was being telecast and we were sitting in a relaxed mode, ready to be entertained. There was laughter and movement and plenty of inconsequential talk and banter.

The next minute there was  complete silence. And stillness. SRK was just coming to the end of a sentence, " and so ,to celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema  , today we will honor those who have made it so special...". The cameras  had by now zoomed in relentlessly  on those who had to be honored - on Dilip Saab and Saira Banu; on   Waheeda Rehman ;  Rajesh Khanna; Zeenat Aman; Vyjayantimala; Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi;  Manoj Kumar; Asha Parekh; Jaya Bachchan and   Hema Malini.  Their  faces were all sombre , ( barring maybe Shabana , Hema Malini and a giggly Jaya Bachchan )    the  impassiveness on the faces of the thespians - actors  famous for giving Indian Cinema a rich repertoire of emotions , saying more than any words could have.. And they all looked so sombre !  I think this was when  I started praying silently-  ,'please God, don't let them be called on stage ; please don't let the world see them struggling to walk and  grappling with words ."  But this is exactly what happened.  We looked on unbelievingly as , one by one, the actors were called on stage - with their most famous songs playing in the background. And so  a matronly Zeenat Aman, sorry Zeenie baby, who had been an iconic figure for the disenfranchised youth of her generation , walked on stage with '  Dum Maro Dum and Laila O laila...' playing ;  Waheeda Rehman  came onstage with  'Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai, aaj phir marne ka irada hai...'  ; Manoj Kumar came, supported on both sides , to the tune of ' Mere Desh Ki Dharti Sona ugle...  '  The parade continued till the stage was crowded - till no one was left to be called , and even Dilip Kumar - lost in a world of his own- had been brought up- so that the world could see him , and all of them, and remember them - not as we would have liked to remember them : young and dynamic but old and helpless.  And so now when Dum Maro Dum  plays anywhere  images of  a slim  and sexy Zeenat Aman will come but they will be pushed firmly into the never never land by newer , recent ,images.

And then the tears came - not because we had decided to honor Indian Cinemas rare stars at a stage in their  life when , for most of them, it had stopped mattering, but because of the remarkable spunk and courage they showed.  And so when Manoj  'Bharat' Kumar was asked to speak  he  said  ," hai preet jahan ki reet sadaBharat ka rahne waala hoon ....' showing why his movies had run to packed houses in an India gripped by post Independence fervour ; Rajesh Khanna, playing to the galleries still , bespoke one of life's greatest truths when he said ,' koi bhi cheez duniya main rahti nahi,  aaj main hoon jahan kal koi aur tha .. aaj main hoon jahan kal koi aur tha. Ye bhi ek daur hai woh bhi ek  daur tha...'

I had forgotten that I was not alone. I think we all had.  It was left to the daughter to bring levity back into the room.  Looking accusingly at her father she said  with loving tenderness to me ," I didn't know you had a serious crush on Rajesh Khanna. Trust dad to spoil your love life". And  then the husband came to me and said, '' Pushpa, I hate tears".

It was just another award show that ended.  The original showmen and women will always remain.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Phrase of the day - Cock a Snook

    Cock a Snook

  ( British old fashioned)

Part of Speech : Noun
Origin :  mainly unknown (There’s an example known from 1791, but the phrase did not become widely recorded until the last years of the nineteenth century).
Meaning : 1) A gesture of derision or defiance.
2 ) to show that you do not respect something or someone by doing something that insults them / it.
Trivia :The gesture of derision it encapsulates is that of putting one’s thumb to one’s nose and extending the fingers. . .As a gesture, it doesn’t really mean anything, but it does convey utter contempt .

Usage : That all the accused in the CWG  scam and the 2G scam are out , whether on bail or unconditionally , is a perfect example of cocking a snook at the ideal of Justice as enshrined in our constitution. .

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vicarious pleasure

This year , again, April had been a particularly busy month and what with starting work early and finishing late my walk/exercise regime had gone for a toss. With May promising to be a lighter month I vowed to myself that the neglected walks would be resumed . And so the morning saw me all prepped up and togged up in my keds and T. The route I normally follow is a circuitous one, literally taking me all around our colony. The newspaper man was on his round and so was the milk man ; moms and ayahs were dropping the lil ones to the bus stops . It was a pleasant morning , belying  the fact that we were in the middle of the famed Indian summer. Turning left , on the last leg of the walk, I stopped in my tracks. The house was a beauty - it was exactly what I had been secretly dreaming of for the last one year or so. Propelled by some invisible hand I entered the park adjoining the house and sat down on a bench . My seat gave me a ring side view of the house. It was in the finishing stages- I could make out that the painting  of walls and polishing of doors and windows was in progress. My gaze settled on a room which was clearly going to be the formal sitting room . It was big, with french windows and Burma teak doors -It was going to be a room meant for entertaining and music. From somewhere I heard the tinkle of glass and laughter. Through a haze I saw the lady of the house  welcoming  her guests. A door opened on the landing of the first floor-a pretty ,young girl came gracefully down the steps. Another door opened further down the landing and a happy teenager came bounding out. He playfully tugged his sister's hair and then ,laughing, ran down the wide staircase. The hors d'oeuvres were being circulated. Such a house had to have a piano, ofcourse. The tune of 'play it again' wafted through the windows. The children's father came out from a room which seemed to be  the library- it had books lined from floor to ceiling.  Truly a house of dreams- a dream house.

Smiling , I got up from the bench. I don't know when my dream house will be mine but yes, that house next to the park had given me a lot of pleasure- even if  I had lived those ten minutes vicarously and derived vicarous pleasure.

But then don't most of us most of the times ?  -live vicariously that is!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Word of the day -schadenfreude


Pronunciation  :SHOD-n-froy-duh\  scha·den·freu·de

Part of speech  : noun: often capitalized 

 Meaning :  A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.  ; enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

Origin of SCHADENFREUDE -German(  from Schaden damage + Freude joy )

First Known Use: 1895
Usage :  Finance Minister, Pranab da,  felt  schadenfreude at  Home Minister, Chidambaran's,  discomfiture in  Parliament.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

An evening of Soul music

It was 'the tree' that held centrestage that evening. Everything else dipped away into the horizon along with  the setting sun. Want me to describe 'the tree'? I have a better idea. Close your eyes for a minute.  Now go back many centuries - infact to the time of the Buddha. Remember, he is the one who attained enlightenment while meditating under a tree. Build a picture of Buddha's tree. Yes, it must have been huge, with a  gnarled  trunk and branches sprawling lazily in all directions ; It must  also have had  magical powers to hypnotize Buddha into choosing it over the other trees. Carrying on, picture lanterns hanging from the low branches  of the tree and marigold flowers linked to one another to form many  chains .All around is darkness. The only light is from the lanterns and from a crescent moon. And then one hears the chant : Buddham saraṇaṃ gacchāmi, Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.(To the Buddha for refuge I go ,To the Dharma for refuge I go, To the Sangha for refuge I go) . The chant is repeated but now it is louder and more insistent . Many other voices join in - 'Buddham sharnam gacchami, sangham sharnam....' .Is that my mouth moving ? my lips forming the words ? Startled I open my eyes . The first thing they fall on is 'the tree' - as beautiful and magical now as it must have been centuries back. But it is not the Buddha sitting under it but a young group of musicians belting out buddhist chants. My eyes wander - open wider. In the stillness of the night, with only the lit lamps and the moon, are sitting hundreds of men and women, listening in rapt attention to the chant, their heads moving in tune with the throbbing drums . There is no other sound . More than five hundred people silently listening to Buddha's words....

And then comes a man in a white kurta pyjama. He is carrying a 'jhola' - just what Kabir may have woven on his loom. Hark!  is that Kabir's  poem he is singing ? 'Nirbhay Nirgun  Re Gaunga...'

Fearlessly I Will Sing the Attributes of the One without Attributes

Using the Base Lotus as the Steady Seat
I Will Make the Wind Rise in Reverse
Steadying the Mind's Attachments
I Will Unify the Five Elements
Ingila, Pingala and Sukhman are the Channels
I Will Bathe at the Confluence of the Three Rivers
The Five and Twenty Five I Will Master by my Wish
And String them Together by One Common Thread
At the Summit of Aloneness the Un-struck Anahad Sound Reverberates
I Will Play the Thirty-Six Different Symphonies
Says Kabir Listen Oh Practicing Aspirant
I Will Wave the Flag of Victory) 

And 'the tree' ? the tree had changed from being Buddha's source of enlightenment  to  being Kabir's expression of angst and cynicism  at the duplicity and guile of the keepers of the world. Had I ever really heard Kabir so raptfully as on that evening of the crescent moon and the lanterns and the light coming from the orange of the marigolds? No . Had I ever understood how Buddha must have felt when he saw the' light' ? No.

But that evening with the sun dipping into the horizon and hundreds of people sitting silently , listening to music for the soul, I sort of began to also feel ...and see....and hear.

It all began with the tree...