My Romance With Literature

It started when I was kid in class 3rd or 4th. My grandfather was a lecturer of English and he had some course books of class 10th and 12th with him for the students that came to study tuitions from him. Sometime I sat there listening to him teach and the ideas, the stories, the situations excited me. I got hold of some stories and I read them. Not a lot of those I remember today but one which I remember is the “Gif of Magi” by OHenry. It was a tearing story and it stayed with me. I think Babaji spotted that and he encouraged me to read more. He gave me some more stories to read. And then one day, he recited to me the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by S.T. Coleridge.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

This was the paragraph which sat with me. That was the day, the time that I subconsciously decided that I will love literature. I had made my tryst with it. Water, water everywhere…there was something magical, something which touched an inner chord of a 10 year old.  Thenceforth, we moved to some place else and was not able to read so much in the company of my babaji but I read with love the English and Hindi coursebooks. The love for Hindi was confirmed when a story by Premchand called “Panch Parmeshwar” came across. I fell at another altar, that of Hindi literature. First thing I used to do when new books came was to devour the stories of Hindi and English. Other than that, there were the occasional comic books and magazines and books I could lay my hands on in my home or of others. I liked it. Then came the days of choosing a stream. Surprisingly enough, for all the love I had, choosing to do graduation in English/Hindi was not even a thought on my mind. It was the challenge that I wanted to take or the parents’ dream or whatever it was I do not know but Engineering was there, standing in front of me. I embraced it. Got it. Now in these years, although I was a lover, I did not express it much. I was satisfied by pouirng love whenever a chance encounter occured with a book. Let’s say I did not pursue my paramour. I was happy when it came through. Then, I came to college. I went to English and Hindi literary societies. They scared me off. I found that my lover had suitors who were much better read and ardent and had fervently pursued it. I stood almost nowhere and I feld sad and bad and it pinched me. I thought I was so far back that any effort would be fruitless. S, I turned my attentions and had flings with public speaking, dance, painting, leading, joking around and such college stuff. But, when I was in third year, I felt I was tired of these flings. My true love stood calling me. I understood that it had the capacity to entertain millions of people at the same time and it would give them equal attention and pour them all with same nectar of joy. I felt delighted. I got on board again. Another phase of Romance started. This time I pursued. I looked for books, I asked for them, I devoured them. I was getting hold of it. Our relationship began to steady now. I was in joy. Of course, keeping a lover takes time and energy and it hampered othere things. So, I spent a little less time. But this love does not die or subside so easily. This one was showing me new qualities each day, each day I heard about a new fantastic book, a brilliant author, a different style. I was being tenpted in every possible way. Come fourth year, I surrendered to the temptation. I gave myself up completely. We had a torrid affair then. No holds barred. Feverish. Hot. Mad Mad Love. I would not sleep, eat but devour one page of creation after another. Yellow crumbling pages, new minted pages. Big fonts, small fonts..everything. I would not see anyone. I would not talk to anyone. It was insane. But boy!! The experince. It was almost like….. I gushed, I beamed. I felt myself, my heart, my mind expand beyond boundaries I had imagined.

It was then that I graduated into the ranks of permanent lovers. Yes, I became one of them. Well read or worse read does not matter. Now all that matters is that I have shown enough love, given enough proof and I have become one of the permanent, faithful companions of my lover. It will now give me support whenever I ask. It still tempts me but now the realtion is not that of chased and pursued. It is a mature relationship. It is now based on mutual respect. Earlier I would praise every quality to woo him. But now, I can pint out the shortcomings, the not so lovable qualities. I can now speak to it.

I had seen no drawbacks before. I had worshipped blindly. But now I see, I suspect, I doubt but that does not make my love any lesser. If anything it has grown, much more that before. I now appreciate things I did not know how to appreciate before. I am sort of, lets say, happily married. Talking in terms of matrimony, I will go on and say, that someday I will like to have a child too- a book. But that is on the horizon.

For now, my romance with literature continues, as solidly as ever, beautiful than ever before and forever.


Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee

Just finished this book. It is the first time I have read Coetzee and I suspect that this is not a book for a first timer. While I got a peek into the brilliance of his mind and writing, I am afraid I was not able to appreciate it fully because I did not understand it completely.

This book is supposed to be about an acclaimed Australian author : Elizabeth Costello who is now in her last days. She makes her life by now giving lectures in the academic circles. It is through these lectures that first 6 chapters of the book are covered and though they are disconnected, we do get a glimpse into the mind of a writer. How she thinks, what she thinks about certain topics etc. Three thoughts are very strongly debated. Vegitarianism, African novel, Christianity and Hellinistic religion and lastly, exploration of evil by an author. She tries to make sense of the world but she is often presented with stark examples of both contrasts and thus she is flummoxed about what the reality is and what really matters. Then, there is a chapter about how she is waiting outside a door and is judged by a panel upon her beliefs. She is unable to point out a single thing that she believes in.

This is also the point where the book becomes a complete bouncer. No clue about what the author is actually trying to say. The last chapter which is actually a letter from Lady Chandos to some Francis Bacon, is almost as good as unread to me.

However, the parts that I understood impressed me a lot. There was a lot of analysis in the debates and almost all points that one can imagine were put on the table. One learns that the writer is a man of great thinking. The life of Elizabeth Costello is also very similar to Coetzee’s own life. It is I think an autobiographical portrait of himself as an author. I think that the experience of J.M. Coetzee, the writer, is what we have been offered. Being such an intelligent and complex man that he is, it is not surprising the book has turned out to be such. I will have to read it a few times more to really grasp it all.

It is amazing that how it is easy for people to accept a lie they expect than to accept the truth they do not expect. It just throws me overboard. We are terribly fortified in our minds. We need to come to the beaches, go to mountaintops and take a dive ..all in the mind, just to get out of that fortress of already formed opinions and expectations.

I messed up somethings. I told people that I did not do a certain thing ( which had really serious implications) because I did not want to do it. No one believes me. Okay! But that is the truth. I did not want to do it and so I did not, even though it had some un-pretty consequences.
Then I experimented. I started telling them that such and such happened because I was really troubled and was not well and kinda depressed and etc etc etc , and well guess what? Everyone took it so well, they lapped it up. They totally accepted it. But that is not true, at all.

Mind plays huge games.

Gulaal !

I have to say this – Bhaisaab!! Kya picture banayi hai.

It is exquisite and exceptional. Quality reeks out of every scene of this movie. Each frame is filled with brilliance except maybe one or two. Gulaal is a a story of a Rajput senapati who wants to take his own state out of Indian Union and how he uses the student politics for the creation of Rajputana. Kay Kay Menon is this said leader named Dukey Bana. Let me just pointwise mention the things that blew me away so much so that since yesterday evening when I saw it, I am just full of Gulaal in my mind and that does not happen with me that often. Last it happened was when I saw Omkara. Like Omkara depicted the true UP hinterlands, this created the true Rajasthan. But let me save that for the appropriate point. So , here goes.

1. Music, Lyrics: Ladies and Gentlemen, Piyush Mishra has arrived and what an arrival it is. Bang!! Bingo. The songs are spot on. The words are so powerful that they alone can transport you into the movie and in its world. It is top notch. It is not a Bollywood song with him, it is a piece of beautiful and extremely powerful poetry. It is a fine piece of Hindi poetry. It is something which Bollywood has been wiating for. Ironically, it is being hailed as something new when in reality what he recreates is the Veer Ras poems we used to hear and the freedom time compositions. I suppose, everyone has forgotten that. I am just overwhelmed with his music. What hooks up as best with me is “Aarambh hai Prachand” – the true and pure Hindi revolutionary song. The rendition by Mishra himself is mind numbingly impressive. It is injustice to name one song when in fact, all the songs are “ek se badhkar ek”. It is just that this one appeals most to me.Well, that and the parody of “Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna”. Other than that, the two renditions by Rekha Bharadwaj “Ranaji” and “Beedo” just floor me. I discovered Rekha and her earthy voice in Omkara and here again she strikes with the same rusticness. There is something so rooted about her voice that I just go flat. I am stopping now from gushing more about music.

2. Acting: Superlative!! Better than that. What you expect from KK Menon he gives you, he gives you that and more. He is Dukey Bana. Noone else could be. He was born to play that role. He wants the Rajputana so bad that you can feel it in his whole body. I know what we should do, we should honour him by giving him a standing ovation for a full 24 hrs. But, boy, he is not alone. He is superbly matched by almost everyone else. Piyush Mishra, the genius writer, becomes a genius actor. The role of Prithvi Bana he has portrayed will become immemorial. His breaking into poems and songs, unique style of being the sanest among the said sane, it is brilliant. The other person who has given a cracker of a performnace is Abhimanyu Singh playing Ransa or Rananjay Singh. Attitude pours out of every breath he exhales. Such style, flamboyance and power. Sad, he had to go in the way he did. But he did leave an indelible mark. Next is Deepak Dobriyal, or Bhaati, or Mamdu of Delhi 6. There is a one minute scene in the movie where he just acts with his face without speaking a word and that was one of the best acted scenes in a movie filled with 100 extraordinary frames.The protagonist Dilip Singh, has also acted very well as has Ayesha Mohan as the scheming, plotting power hungry lover. I must mention here that the power of acting of Raja Chaudhary as Dileep Singh is understated and should be appreciated as such. He is supposed to be a weak character and Raja plays it with excellence. We are convinced that he is a weak man to begin with who is caught up in political games and suffers from loss of passionate love. I compliment Raja for understanding this.

3. Camera Work, Lighting etc.- Winner all the way. Play of light for metaphorical depictions. The camera angles. Splendid. Specifically I would like to mention the first and last scenes which were breathtaking. The camera sneaks in from below making Dukey Bana in the first scene and Karan in the last scene look so big. Many other instances were there. I could be more specific when I watch the movie again.

4. Last but not the least: Anurag Kashyap. I don’t want to eulogize him because others have already done that. He has had his deserved share of praise now. I just want to thank him. Yes, thank him, more than anything, with all my heart, and in all the words that I can muster. I want to thank him because he has shown us that there can be transcending Hindi Cinema. Because he has brought together such cast and crew who have created an instance of excellence. Because he has reaffirmed my faith in the future of Bollywood, because he has introduced to us Piyush Mishra and mostly because, he has given and will give us quality cinema.

I stand and give an ovation to this piece of dedicated brilliance. I enjoyed every bit. There may have been flaws in the movie, I do not deny that but they are almost invisible. I ignored them.

There is one thing I want to say here. There are many people who object to the use of expletives and obscenities and in fact, judge the whole movie unseeable based on that. I don’t understand that at all. Plus, I think that is a sign of imbecility. When a person is trying to create a situation, and trying it to do as well as he can, he has to use every possible device. And if a scene is set in a North Indian college and among people who run the Gunda Raj, of expletives were not used aplenty, it would not make the movie as good as it is. The obejction is hypocritical as well. The very same people who object either use it or are surrounded by it. Why then this squeaky clean expectation from a movie which is a creative piece in any case. I am more angry here than I should be and am rather ferociuosly defending the obscentities which is funny but I do so because some of my friends rejected any merit in Omkara because it used many cusswords and I fear that they wil lbecome blind to the awesomeness of Gulaal because it does so too and cusswords are one part of its awesomeness.

Well, anyway, that was one long review. Well, an indication of how the movie has impressed me.

SFM – 93.5

So, I had a little fun today. There was a radio show going on and the RJ was asking questions about the upcoming India NewZealand test series. I don’t know why but suddenly I wanted to call and I did. I called the radio station and gave the answers. But, I cheated :P. I gave the answers with cricinfo page open in front of me ..hehhe..I told him though and he was amused to hear that. Anyway, noone else had net access I guess and so I was the only person to give the answers and became the “woman of the match” apparently. It was great fun. I called a radio station for the first time and knew how it was that they recorded the conversation and played later. Nice experience. I have been cheery all day. The RJ who is incidentally, rather incorrectly, called DJ-Daljit Singh. A sweet guy really.
I enjoy the SFM 93.5 channel. They have some good RJ’s and play generally good music.


It can take nothing and yet a lot to keep busy. Holi this time was not as colourful as it always used to be. Plus, I have now got spectacles. Yeah!!

I am pretty uncomfortable with them right now. Probably it will improve.


Does it ever happen to you that you are suddenly hung up on a word. It is almost like it can not get out of your mind . It happens to me many times. This time it is “frazzled”. Every 5 minutes or so I find myself uttering it. Why does it happen? There should be some neurobiological explanation for this right? I am curious to know.

I just love saying frazzled. I like the way it sounds. The way fra almost starts elegantly, like some sophisticated french word and then suddenly the zzs make it funky and fun and almost playful and then -ed hammers it to a stop. I like its construction. Visually, it reminds me of rough hemline of a dress, of a bad haircut, of cheerleader’s tom tom and most of all my state of being before an exam 🙂

That’s about how frazzled I am right now. Has it frazzled you?? I bet!