Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 8/9, 2013 Sun/Mon 3 : 19 am
the Sunday greetings to those that come out on numbers ..
with the lovely Deepika ath the ‘conversation’ with Anupama Chopra
More Sunday meeting and the lone cop in the middle of everything ..
with the ever present Aamir Khan who came on to the show to just see and meet … they came on next with the promotion of ‘Dhoom 3’ .. Abhishek came in later …
and that is the trio .. Aamir, Ranveer and this guy with the fancy shoes and watch ..
with Deepika in greeting … and the envy of many I am sure !!
That is all I am permitted to say … my contractual constraints do not permit me to be awake beyond 3 am ! I am already under liabilities of a personal nature … but what the hell … when ever shall I get an opportunity to be before the media, in informing to the world an the 20 million + that are with me on social media - Blog, Twitter, FB, Vog …
20 million + ….. YES !!!
Good night … still reeling under the grave loss in cricket at Saf, yet excited about the many follow up activities to occur ..
Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 8/9, 2013 Sat/Sun 2 : 39 am
Rajkamal Studio shoot after ages .. established and built by the great V Shantaram .. now most of the floor space and the area given up to high rise buildings … the main floor is where the shooting is for an d., film on real estate .. ironical … it is the same floor where I did most of my important scenes for ‘Deewar’ - the death scene, the ‘khush toh bahut hoge tum ..’ and of course just outside the studio floor the ‘mere paas Ma hai’ scene …
The scene of the fight .. still fresh in memory and I go to the spot where that picture was and sit in similar position and remember … that is all we can do ..
Those were the days my friend …
I told this tv journalist I
would print his picture on my Blog .. mister ! I did it … yaaahhh …
Rakesh Omprakash Mehra visits me on set, and we compare notes on various subjects … some which we dare not disclose !!!
shaking a leg with the ladies …
no no no …. that is not the real … its the fake ones … after me stepping of a plane ..
Stepping into the portals of the floor where it all happened ..
And so … to bed … for today at least …. working early again tomorrow … there is dubbing to do, there is an interaction moment with Ranbir Deepika, Farhan, moi, Ranveer … or so I am informed .. and then the well wishers of Sunday ..
Keep well dear ones …
Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 6, 2013 Fri 11 : 21 pm
Nelson Mandela , Madiba as he was fondly called, passes away and a historic chapter of the universe concludes ..
I am so privileged and honoured to have spent time with him on two occasions during my visits to South Africa, to have been in the company of his aura, his majestic eminence and his utmost humility ..
I have stories of those associations, I have visited his cell on Robben Island his place of captivity, I have walked into those galleries through which he spent his 27 years of imprisonment, sat in that courtyard in the jail where the prisoners were allowed to spend limited time and have picked up the stones where he was made to work in the blistering heat … and have come back shaken at the misery he went through ..
Equally then have I admired his spirit, his will and his determination to fight for the rights of humanity, in a world stricken so obtusely by the horrors of apartheid.
The first ever Concert to have been given permission to perform in South Africa was the one I took in 1990, just moments after his release from jail. It was him and his ANC that agreed that the concert could be held - the boycott from all countries that did not believe and opposed apartheid, had prevented and rightly so, the entry of any such events from nations that were anti apartheid.
But all of that in greater detail and the two meetings … later ..
Bhopal and the ceremony of the wedding came to a conclusion this morning. The bride came ‘home’, the rituals followed, the ‘bau-bhaat’, a ceremony of the first meal to be cooked by the daughter in law, the fun and intimate games played by the bride and groom as the family looks on in song and dance … always such a lovely moment to see the bonding of not just the two just marrieds but the camaraderie of two entire families joining hands and coming together as one.
Suddenly … the little girl brought into this world, grows up in her home and among her parents, gets shifted to another home and another family which she now calls hers. Her priorities and her attentions now shifting to her new home.
What a huge sacrifice for the woman. Yet a social necessity in the world we live in.
Some traditions still ail our lives and become the cause for unethical strands of behaviour in marriages … the practices of ‘dahej’ … dowry ! This abhorred practice, that has been the reason for such pain and discomfort for the girls’ parents.
Many are the cases of massive loans and credits being taken just so the girl can be accepted in marriage. The extreme irony of the Father of the bride, who goes through so much personal humiliation at times, just so he can send off his own daughter to her husband.
It has always pained me and made me shed immense amount of tears whenever I have been confronted with moments such as this in reality or story or in example.
Yet there are some examples of great fortitude too …
The refusal of the ‘dahej’ from the girls side … and the refusal of any kind of gifts from them. At this mornings ceremony the most heart warming language that was heard when gifts were being given by the girls parents and refused by the boys side :
'aap ne apni beti hame de di hai … isse badi bheit hamare liye aur kya ho sakti hai' ..
"you have given your daughter to us … there can be no greater gift for us than this"
And at the time of the ‘kanyadaan’ … the ceremonial moment in the giving away of the daughter - an offering of the daughter - has always given all of us with wet eyes …
So much a Father goes through - expenses for a grand wedding, efforts in pleasing the ‘baraatis’ - the guests from the groom - for what … to give away his daughter !! It must come in the category of the biggest irony of life !!
And as I sit by myself in the quiet of the journey back, I think and recollect those moments of my own - the giving away of Shweta, and the welcome of Aishwarya …
There is much too much to think about in this world, and there is much too much agony that pervades you, as you do so … not just the plight of the women in society, but of need and want, of inequality, of the poor and the hapless, of the uncalled mastery and the sublimity of servility !
The right as a human to be what we are, instead of being what others desire us to be is a travesty, a grotesque misrepresentation, a parody ..
Many great souls have fought for what they felt was right, and succeeded .. today we lost one such !!
Noor-e-Sabah, Bhopal Dec 6, 2013 Fri 11 : 11 am
There is much to be written and said and shared … but for the moment my speech at the Annual Penguin Lecture in Delhi :
Penguin Annual Lecture November 2013
On Artifice: flicks, chicks, scripts, quotes and darkness in the stomach of a dog
Yes, 'Never trust anyone who doesn't have a book under their arm' someone said… 'It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it' (that's Oscar Wilde of course)
'Think before you speak; read before you think'. Fran Leibowitz.
'There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them'. Joseph Brodsky.
And I like this: 'Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.’ Anne Herbert.
Call me old-fashioned but I’m in fine company here: 'Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators'. Stephen Fry
We’re all too familiar with that pet-culture doggerel, canine comparisons to books when it comes to friendship; how besides a dog, a book is a man’s best friend…
Well this one’s my all-time favourite: 'Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read’. Groucho Marx.
But that’s enough now…
Too many quotes spoil a broth…
You can’t make an omelette… without breaking a few metaphors.
Namaskar, aadaab, satsriakaal. Greetings to all of you, Puffins, Pelicans, Ptarmigans, Petrels…. and all other ornithological persuasions.
My platform today is raised by one of the greatest publishing Leviathans of the post-war era, an animal renowned for brave innovation, the fearless pursuit of free speech, independent political critique, elitist populism - or is that populist elitism…The great Penguin itself.
I couldn’t be more honoured to come here before you: I thank you mighty Penguin; and I thank you all.
Great luminaries have delivered the Penguin Annual Lecture before me, but clearly this year is a novel departure (no pun intended). I stand before you famous for being a foil - not for what I have done of my own authorship or been according to my own conscience. I am famous for characters, not the character; not for having my own words, but bringing someone else’s script to life. ‘A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.’
That given, many of my characters have indeed been epic, and that’s India for you, our grand narrative of big leaders, big movements, big argument, big drama, big passion, big suffering, big overcoming. The only big the media insist that I have contributed to this great nation is a rather overly persistent B. Much to my dismay.
So please forgive me if I seem quite - speechless.
Nevertheless, I very much wish to meet this extraordinary honour bestowed upon me here with the effort it deserves. To bring something before you, worthy of the generosity of your attendance here tonight…
Obviously I can talk about the Indian film industry ad infinitum. But so can one billion other Indians - I might as well talk about cricket -
So I’ve been wondering what I have of my own to offer, that might entertain. And more ambitiously, entertain your thought, rather than merely amuse.
The 15th official census in India was calculated in the year 2011.
To ‘entertain’… to entertain… it is a rich and complex act. To amuse, divert, distract. To consider, to contemplate, to hold in mind, to receive, to harbour others in generosity of spirit. ‘Inter’ – ‘among’; ‘tenere’ – ‘to hold’.
We hold among ourselves best with a story, and here, Hannah Arendt comes to mind: ‘Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it’. True entertainers aren’t denotative or didactic. We don’t do answers (that’s up to you out there); and we certainly don’t do lectures. Storytelling is the genius of a people.
So how might I entertain you…
And what comes to mind again and again is an image of my father. I suppose it is to be expected, for only two days ago his birthday passed and now I am a decade without him, revered and beloved to me still.
The late Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan, literary giant: in his last days, in those evenings before he retired, he would ask to be shown a Hindi film - often one with me in it. Was it just the natural indulgence of a father’s affection? Well he had playfully written on occasion that his greatest poetry was ME!
‘So now you’re all in on the secret: my biggest problem in life is that I don’t know whether I’m free verse, a couplet, chaupai or a shloka.’
Or was there something deeper that I was missing each evening within the confines of my home – a still point in the turning image?
What did it mean? I should have asked him at the time, but one is often incurious of the seeming randomness of detail when overwhelmed by the imminent demise of a loved one.
I wish I had asked, but then, there was so much I regret that I did not enquire of him, and now it is too late.
As the darkness of both the day and his life closed in, why did he not turn to his greatest companions, his familiars, his books, instead? What did he see in the flickering darkness?
It had to be more than the film industry’s excessive ‘poetic justice in three hours’ – Shakespeare did it in less. But Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan was no longer in a hurry.
Did he see reflected in the flickerings a flame that burns itself up, lighting up the fire of the written word within?
Or perhaps cinema is just inside dogs.
To the Penguin Random House multinational conglomerate of a Leviathan, Indian cinema, older than Hollywood, now in its centenary year, the world’s biggest on production and viewership, we are our own monster. We are a veritable Makara, the Ganga’s vahana - an altogether different kind of animal. An animal of many animal parts, of crocodile and stag, fish and seal, an elephant with a peacock’s tale.
And there again, that’s India for you. And Indianness – that layered, multiple and syncretic thing, Nehru’s ‘palimpsest’.
In India, a dog is just a dog. There’s another dog that is symbolic of pollution, because in Hinduism, you are what you eat and dogs are impure omnivores. Vedic long-tongued dogs are the lowest of the low, karmic descendants of caste miscegenation. Another Indian dog is associated with unclean woman. A different kind of dog is honoured companion of the god Mallanna; one dog gives the claw-mark of Shiva and another is friend of the unfashionable old Vedic gods Yama and Rudra. In the West, dogs are just pets… well so they are now for us too. That’s India for you.
In a country like India, literacy is the main foundation for social and economic growth.
Well it certainly is for book publishers.
Now where was I…
Yes, the Makara, Indian cinema and I, we three have a lot in common. None of us are the sum of our parts. But the similarity stops there: our nation has somehow - before our very post-Independence eyes – invented the most successful form of entertainment ever devised by humanity. By sheer numbers of viewers, that is.
Feature films are the great popular passion of India, cutting across all social divides of caste, class, region, religion, gender and language. They absorbed all other performing arts from here and abroad and churned… Urdu and Tamil poet-script-writers, classical Carnatic ragas, Blues and jazz and folk and churned ….The Indian film industry absorbed Parsis, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and churned… It absorbed Tamil, Malayam, Bengali, Kannadan, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Marathi, Odiya .. and on and on, there are so many others…and churned… Pageants for peasants and art for aesthetes and it churns and churns…
And all our gods and demons out of the sea have made an extraordinary masala thing by all their churning. This filmi ambrosia of theirs is a nectar so intoxicating that it has achieved what no Indian politician has ever done and could ever dream of.
In our cinema the bad guys always come to no good. What about in India itself?
Large crowds of disparate passers-by, Brahmin, Dalit, Kshyatria, , Marwari, Jat, Muslim, Parsi, they burst into a unity of choreographed dance and song at remarkably regular intervals. Ever seen that where you buy your pyaaz and tamaatar?
Errr .. I think better not to go into that sphere these days … they are choreographing themselves into a spin .. !!
There is neither Pakistan in the music on the silver screen, nor Bangladesh in the punch line. Lord Curzon isn’t even in the costume department.
Indian cinema doesn’t have a nuclear bomb. It never suffers a recession. How easily it is dismissed as merely ‘Bollywood’ - degenerate, trivial, trashy, flashy hocus pocus ‘you know the whole country of the system is juxtapositioned by the haemoglobin in the atmosphere because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity’.
Our post-independence cinema played centre-stage creating Nehru’s vision of India, where both film elitism and populism produced distinction and a new sense of collective imaginary.
What it does that nothing else has come near is that it unites an entire people. And it goes beyond that: our cinema respects no national borders: it unites peoples.
Indeed, ‘Nature teaches beasts to know their friends’.
Humankind cannot bear very much reality. (That’s TS Eliot.)
I suspect that it prefers the truth.
There should always be inherent tensions between populism and elitism – what form that truth takes, whether we like a particular form or not. With such a choice, it reminds me of what VK Krishna Menon said in a not-so-different context: “(One) might as well ask a fish if it prefers to be fried in butter or margarine”.
Today, female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% whereas the male literacy rate is over 80%. One in every three women in India is illiterate.
But let’s look at it another way for just a moment, and in my own words…
Everybody can watch an Indian film, yet not everyone can read a book. That’s the simple difference. Even if you don’t know the language, watching a film does not require any training, expertise or erudition. But then neither does sitting listening to the Ramlila in deepest darkest UP, or keeping awake for those kavi sammelans that would go on into the small hours.
Kerala has the highest female literacy rate: 92% according to the 2011 census; whereas Rajasthan’s is 52.7%: it has the lowest female literacy rate in India. States such as Uttar Pradesh (59.3%) and Bihar (53.3%) that are the most populated states in India show particularly low levels of female literacy. This is directly related to health, population stabilisation, family planning and infant mortality, where Kerala has the lowest infant mortality and Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have the highest.
I am trying to find words for something here. Perhaps I too have missed the point in the past when, bored, watching an Indian film, I feel the absurdity of seemingly dislocated elements and you know, suddenly rage, ‘Why?’ ‘What on earth is this song about?!’ ‘What the devil does it have to do with the plot?’ ‘What’s it doing here now?!’
But as I reconsider what I see in wondering what it was that my father saw, I have to ask myself whether, counter-intuitively, it’s about something wiser. Perhaps it is wiser than the director, screen-writer, actors and the audience: wiser than all of us.
We all know how in Indian cinema epic narrative is often interspersed with non-narrative spectacular episodic song.
What about this: that it most extraordinarily mirrors our dyadic tradition in ancient Hindu scripture of ‘Smriti’ (that which is remembered) and ‘Sruti’ (that which is revealed) respectively. ‘Smriti’, the epic narrative tradition of our sacred texts now speaks to us anew in our over-blown film plots; ‘That which is remembered’, re-echoed again from ancient memory into recognisable voices.
And then the sudden bursts of intermission non-narrative song from nowhere! Yes! They are moments of pure ‘Sruti’!
The absence of adequate school infrastructure such as improper facilities is one of the main factors affecting the female literacy in India. 54% of schools in Uttar Pradesh do not have water and 80% do not have latrine facilities.
How similar it is to when Arjuna baulked against fate on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (‘Smriti’), and Krishna interceded in a non-temporal son-et-lumière number of revealing himself as though a hundred thousand suns in the sky and the unlimited expansion of the universe (‘Sruti’).
Another barrier to female education in India is the lack of female teachers, which matters in a gender-segregated society.
Perhaps my speculations are a bit over-tidy. But truth is rarely where we think -
I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant -
Among other things - or one way of putting the same thing:
That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret.
There it is, the marriage of ‘Sruti ‘and ‘Smriti’ right there before my very eyes, but that I’ve been too blind to see it until now. I strongly suspect that is what my father saw near his end; and perhaps, near his end, he no longer needed the light to read.
And perhaps only in the darkness can one really see the everlasting light of truth.
Who knows, perhaps we are cleverer than we think. Perhaps some part of us is clever enough to know, collectively, and so Indian cinema chaotically and imperfectly took the form it did. Cherchez le chien. Truth is rarely where we think.
A successful film director of the ‘70’s once said, ‘I want people to forget their misery. I want to take them in to a dream world where there is no poverty, where there are no beggars, where fate is kind and God is busy looking after his flock’.
But why do we presume that it is only through daily suffering that we come to understand ultimate truths? This IS what most of us really think, isn’t it? Why?
What exactly are we doing when we call ‘Bollywood’ cinema escapist and mere fantasy? I suspect our modern affair with realism is, like any other ‘ism’, just another over-compensation of ideology. Why exactly does ‘the real’, just as confected as any other idea of ours, embody more truth about the human condition than ‘the ideal’ – particularly when these very realistic films are being made by perfectly unfamished middle-class Indians? Why is suffering more real than joy, or pleasure? Isn’t this a rather puritanical, reified, literalist and simplistic position? Isn’t it a bit self-indulgent of us from our position of comfort? Isn’t it ultimately offensive towards those that suffer? Why won’t we more hear them speak for themselves?
Females are pulled out of school to help on the farm as they are increasingly replacing males’ labour requiring no formal education. Fewer than 2% of girls who were engaged in agricultural work attended school.
If you live a life where suffering, physical and emotional, are remorselessly played out from the moment you wake to the moment when you dream asleep at night, perhaps it really becomes obvious that our hold on human truths is more grasped by artifice than the distractions of ‘real’ misery. I think it’s patronising to assume the average Indian cinema-goer in the depths of The Interior, the audience, morally and spiritually cops out by going to see the flicks. Our great sages knew equally that the mundane, phenomenal, profane world can never be the source of spiritual truth, or at least that’s my take on the vale of illusion.
Education is a human right enshrined in our constitution under Article 21A, 86th Amendment, The Constitution Act 2002. ‘The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.’
Lack of education means lack of awareness. Illiterate women are not aware of their rights.
Might it be the case that aestheticising suffering into art is a more genuine endeavour if some measure of artifice is openly – perhaps even joyfully - preserved? Wasn’t that the reason for Hamlet staging a play within the play Hamlet?
What about it: the Ramayana has overly much to do with the reality of suffering transformed: one of the versions of why it was written in the first place comes to mind. The sage Valmiki was walking in the forest where he saw two krauncha birds mating. Suddenly a hunter’s arrow pierced the male so that he fell dead. Monogamous for life, its mate then sang the most mournful of songs in grief. Moved by its tuneful dirge, Valmiki cursed the hunter and as he cursed, so he heard this curse form into a poem. Thus it happened that he came to realise that sorrow (shoka) had been turned into poetry (shloka) - and thus The Ramayana was born.
An art object, by its very nature, is artifice, whether realist or idealist. It is created; it is made.
Ultimately an art object is transcendent, beyond good and evil, beyond suffering, beyond the suffered. It is autonomous, a self-generative act, purely governed by its own criteria, whether that object is a painting, a piece of music, a poem or a film. It should have no utility whatsoever: ‘All art is quite useless.’ Oscar Wilde.
If it isn’t, even if it’s trying to be helpful, then it’s not art. It’s propaganda, advertising or merely an opiate commodity no different from a pair of sunglasses in the darkness - of a dog.
‘Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.’
And to turn Oscar Wilde further to our purpose here,
‘There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral film.
Films are well made, or badly made. That is all.
The dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.
All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.’
Lack of education means lack of awareness. Illiterate women are not aware of their equal worth. More girls have been killed in the last fifty years because they were girls than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century.
What is that place of darkness from where our artists and sages find reflected another kind of light? If outside of a dog we can see to read, then what darshan is illuminated for us only in the depths of its stomach?
‘Those who comprehend that the Cosmic day and the Cosmic night last a thousand cycles of Yugas, they truly know what is Day and what is Night.’
More girls are killed in routine gendercide in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.
Whose blood is this?
‘There are none so blind as those who will not see’.
My father, at the end of his life, I suspect he read in the dark – he didn’t need to see the text anymore: that was both his privilege and suffering, that he could read the writing on the wall whether illuminated or not. But he had a choice – he could flip a switch, he could revert to the script and decipher its markings in the light.
All of us deserve the choice, that freedom to choose, and ultimately we can only do so together. For not all of us can read in the light and most of us can’t read in the dark. If you can’t read in the dark on your own then read in the light what the others say about it. All of us here this evening are free to decide for ourselves whether and when we turn the lights off to watch the silver screen, but in a dog’s stomach, it’s so dark in there, cinema is not a bad option. Only a few among us can read ‘Smriti’ in the dark. And then it is a rare human being with strong enough stomach in the stomach of a dog to turn on the light of ‘Sruti’ in there, because there’s blood all over the walls.
'There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them', as Brodsky pointed out at the start.
Worse still is not being given the chance to read them at all.
Cherchez le chien.
It is very likely that a person’s best friend can neither be a dog nor a book.
Dogs and books may well be companions, but friendship is the perfection of parity between equals, incommensurate with non-human animate and inanimate, and has nothing to do with sex or gender or whatever you wish to call any other form of phenomenal difference.
A best friend, by their very definition, is neither male nor female, rich nor poor, of no caste, possessing neither good fortune nor ill.
To enjoy friendship, apparent difference brings the richness of shared experience; but to make friendship, all we need is a human being who also possesses humanity.
And ultimately such true friendship is fraternity in its collective, the third aspect of our brave political trinity, without which liberty and equality wither. But these matters are too serious now for dogs and books and men and their best friends, because (with all due respect to the day’s patron) none of them are enough.
‘Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.’ John Locke. And I’ll just have to paraphrase Einstein, because I should think we’ve all had enough of quotes by now. He makes the point that one can substitute reading for thinking, that people often defer to the authority of others’ words rather than getting on with thinking for themselves.
And not only is it our duty as human beings to think for ourselves, but DO.
Because we all have a very real dog sitting on our very real collective foot. A very big dog. An enormous one. Inside it sits a valuable and significant part of our nation, and largely consists of women who can’t read, who don’t have the choice.
Over two hundred and forty-five million of them.
Whose blood is this?
Everyone here knows what tremendous economic benefits there are to improving female literacy. The World Bank and even Goldman Sachs write about it these days. But economics isn’t the point: we aren’t here on this earth to serve the economy: the economy is here to serve us, and we have to decide what that ‘us’ is, what value and worth is accorded to humankind, to each and every one of us. We are the telos, the end goal, we are civilisation. The economy is simply our means of reaching what we self-define: it is not an end in itself. Money doesn’t breed meaning or value. We do.
Anyway, I’m not here to lecture, remember?! Nevertheless, I must say I’ve found myself so persuasive today that I shall try again to build a girls’ school. Last time I was stopped by a ‘peepal’ tree.
But I would like to leave you today not only with my own entertainments - flicks, chicks, scripts, quotes and the darkness in the stomach of a dog. I humbly dare you to entertain others in sorority. All of you: let us all be ‘Sisters’ now. It’s political. It’s solidarity.
Any male refusniks out there? ‘Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.’ Abraham Lincoln.
I humbly encourage you to do something yourselves, all literates, more than merely teaching your daughters to keep similar erudite paper (and now digital) companions.
For your daughters will never truly be able to read in India - independently, autonomously, equally, with true justice to their talents and intelligence – because true equality for women can only exist when a whole culture embraces it, not merely an elite part, for a culture is the sum of its parts.
It is the same principle with slavery: one cannot truly have freedom in a society if slavery therein exists, for then those seemingly defined as ‘free’ are equally defined by the unfreedom of others, and thus not free at all.
Here’s an example to make the point clearer: no amount of female literate erudition can save you if you somehow happen to end up outnumered on a bus.
Your own daughters cannot truly read until our Sisters in the dark of that dog’s stomach are brought out into the broad day to read for themselves, to write, to trace their own names, and remember of their own accord.
Names like Nirbhaya, Damini, Agruti, Jyoti, Amanat.
Nearly 10 million female foetuses have been aborted in the country over the past two decades in India. Whose blood is this?
Girls in India from one to five years of age are 50% more likely to die than boys the same age. The best estimate is that an Indian girl dies from discrimination every four minutes. Whose blood is this?
The Indian sex industry comprises 80% females below 18 years of age, where a third entered the trade below the age of 16.
Only 6% of sex workers in Kamathipura joined prostitution of their own accord. The rest were coerced, trafficked or forced into prostitution. Whose blood is this?
There are 700 to 800 recorded cases of acid attacks on women across India in the past six years. Whose blood is this?
In India, a new rape case is reported every 22 minutes. Marital rape is not a criminal offence. Whose blood is this?
In India, a bride burning takes place approximately once every two hours. Whose blood is this?
Half our species is subject to misogyny, often lethally so. It is the greatest human rights crime of our century.
'A word after a word after a word is power' Margaret Atwood. She wrote it herself. May all her sisters one day follow her hand, make their own mark, make their own art, script themselves to freedom.
The speech ended with the recitation of one of my Father’s immortal works, a poem called .. ‘Imprints of Blood’
Noor-e-Sabah, Bhopal Dec 5/6, 2013 Thu/Fri 1 : 53 am
For now live with the pictures ..
The moment in life when we make decisions that last us a lifetime .. that not just bring two people together, but entire families and families and families …
If one were to put together all the connected families at the time of a wedding we would not have to invite guests to the reception ..
The finery the tradition, the pundits and the rituals … all gone before us for centuries … yet when we meet a couple and the man says to you in introduction , ‘meet my wife’ .. it is never a correct response to say -
'err … how do you do … but could I see your marriage certificate, pictures some references … any thing .. NOOOOO … its the belief of the 'word' over the other 'word'.
Such a great deal of ritual and tradition and the etiquette of a marriage !! Why cannot we just say to each other, ‘will you marry me’ and retreat to the silence of eternity, because that is how long the response may take.
Just the trust of one word over the other is what binds and confirms marriage .. rituals and ceremony shall forever take place, may be for some divinity .. but in the end it shall always be the confirmed quality of the word given .. or so I shall wish to believe and practice .. !!
Good morning … Dec 6th is the first grandchild birth in my family .. Navya Naveli, daughter of my daughter … happy birthday dearest … you are such a delight to be with .. have a good one … all my love …
Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 4, 2013 Wed 11 : 49 PM
There was a time when talk of the social media was laughed upon. That time has long since passed. What we await really is what after this. What after this invasion of immense proportions on the life of our information penchant. What after the emergency of quick and immediate response. What indeed the answer to that much required calm and balance of thought, so assiduously pursued not so very long ago. What the restlessness of the young and youth of today that need immediate satisfaction of an answer, of a finishing, of ‘fine .. so what next ?’
My own belief and standing on the matter could belie the obvious, for, I do patronise the immensely valid reasoning, that, if given the opportunity, the health of subdued presence would most certainly manifest itself into a bearing the young would be a signature to.
There is far too much distraction to keep away from all that presents itself. There are far too many avenues that pave the way for a diverted attention. There much too much on the plate to devour. And devour they must. The ‘other’ does, so why not me ?
It is more the challenge of possession. They have it why not me. And if I do not have the means now, I shall work to get them. The criteria is to get. The criteria is not to study the reason or its outcome before treading on the path.
Innovation results. Different practices emerge. Ruthless competition erupts. Aggression overtakes passive approaches. And the final results, with some degree of achievement, have not always been to order.
Where there should have been a churning, a burning is gaining prominence. We are burning out excessively - our desires, our needs, ourselves …
Excess is, well, as excessive should be. Its burden often creates a want when factually the excesses are there within you and in possession.
In the battle for those wants, we often forget its futile and utterly undesired need.
Nothing that you shall possess shall ever travel with you within the portal depths of the earth or the burnt elements of the fire.
Better to leave behind a legacy than an unfitting mountain of possessions …
The warmth of a smile can never be portrayed as effective, until the stony eyes melt too … that then is the closest one can get to the difference talked of so greatly in most forums of the human …
Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 3/4, 2013 Tue/Wed 12 : 57 am
As you may observe a busy day …. lots of travel … but the cause and the events most deserving and enjoyable … !!
I must rest .. feeling too sleep deprived ..
Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 2/3, 2013 Mon/Tue 2 : 21 am
An evening with CNNiBN and those senior citizens that have selflessly worked independently for society, for children, for education, for differently abled … and living in the glory of their achievements … inspired by their determination despite all odds working towards the betterment of those that have been deprived of it ..
How fortunate are we that such individuals exist .. exist among us to teach us a lesson that age does not bind them after 60 or 70 … indeed it spurs them on to continue … to continue to serve humanity … to be involved and in a sense involve themselves too, so that the work and the teachings imparted to others brings the ‘others’ joy and happiness, fulfilment and a dream, hope and expectation of the world turning out right for them eventually ..
The Citizen Awards for the ‘Unstoppable’ … truly unstoppable ! And all of them from different walks and regions of the country, humble in their demeanour, honest and committed to their direction of work, and with the spirit of never giving up despite odds … and all of them up in the morning never later than 6 am, to get to work not for themselves but for those that they have chosen to help ..
Not all of them came or are from families of means .. they are the common man, the equally common woman, who have taken it upon themselves that they do not need any provocation or deliberate force to involve themselves in the work they have taken on ..
They have all succeeded … they have all excelled in the nature of the work undertaken, proud of not the fact of their undertaking but the results of the work that they have passed on to the young and impressionable and those who would otherwise have never seen the light of this particular day …
I notice with some amazement that the number of invitations to attend and be a part of many events that are connected with social and moral collective social and endemic titles, are increasing in number ..
It worries me to some extent … and it also pleases me to be given an opportunity to meet and perhaps imbibe some good from them ..
It worries me because the thought of continuously being in the presence of people has never been a welcoming comfort .. not because I do not appreciate their company .. I do … but its just the factor of the burden of self consciousness and fear … fear of the failure of ability to live up to the expectations of them that expect so from me ..
And tomorrow very early … in a few hours really … to Thane, a suburb or an extended city of this great metropolis, for a Police event for the benefit of differently abled children ..
And then to ‘Bhootnath Returns’ ..
Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 1/2, 2013 Sun/Mon 1 : 57 am
The folded hand …the gesture of respect and greeting, must have been developed through time and ages to be one that gives a certain sense of identity ..
Many gestures have since been developed - the ‘aadaab’ with the one hand raised in respect to each other in the Muslims, the hand shake with the other - a western dominated act among the Caucasian white … how did they come about ..?
Many felt that the hand shake was devised such that the other hand be free to pull out a weapon of defence, in case the meeting went hostile. Those were referred to in times of the old .. but worth thinking on ..
The body embrace was the ultimate show of affection acceptance and fraternity ! Until perhaps the great Shivaji, the gallant Maratha, played one of his most outrageous moves when he asked for an audience with the battled Afzal Khan, the envoy of the ruling Moghul Aurangzeb, to accept their superior hostility, and at the time of the embrace seeking peace and friendship, tore open his back with sharp edged nail like metallic equipment that he surreptitiously wore on his hands without it being noticed. Afzal Khan the envoy was killed thus ..
The Moghuls named these occupiers of the region ” mountain rats “, because of the agility they possessed to attack an unsuspecting adversary and quickly disappear into the hills of the Ghats ..
Tomorrow a sudden cancellation and a day off ..
Jalsa, Mumbai Nov 30/1 Dec, 2013 Sat/Sun 1:21 am
It was there till the evening and then this evening it has disappeared - the warmth and the joy and the fulfilment and the shear sense of accomplishment at the Penguin Lecture …
Pictures and visuals and recordings shall remain there for posterity. This generation and the generation that follows shall have such a collossal benefit of documentation. This generation and the coming nexts shall also have the benefit of preservation ..
Some elements that prophesy the death of record and its futility, shall be the first to bend in agreement to what they have missed in the past and what in the coming ..
My own shall best be forgotten, but mine own shall live forever, as is depicted in the second visual - a seriously involved Shweta ..
Hopefully they shall remember the moments spent, just as I have recollected the moments spent with my Father ..
Those moments which carry with them the affection of the elders, the love of the Mother, the discipline of the Father, shall always be the guiding force …
We in general take our liberties with the Mother, the Father though for some reason is feared and distanced from …. not from any cause for dislike but perhaps the respect and the last word order decision from them …
Each time I yawn … objects that fly around without our knowledge and permission, make confused entries into the portals where the tongue resides along with some of the more crunching utensils ; white and hard in color .. the elements perish, but the portal dislikes their presence even after they have been either swallowed or crushed beyond all ..
Dear me it gets morbid all the way .. time to stop and contemplate, think …
For the night shall be long tonight … a rare off day and the desire to sleep in for as long as one wishes ..
Be well and without mischief ..
Its a day of the kids … as you may well observe ..