it gets easier..
the pain fades
the nicks and cuts disappear
as time flows .. the sharp edges smoothen..
but that’s just the surface, isn’t it?
All grimy cities have pretty facades..
is what Leo Tolstoy calls music..
The portraits are of one of the greatest musicians India has known, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. He is the master of the Sarod which is also known as ‘Shardiya Veena’ which basically implies that it is an ancient instrument. I recently had the good fortune of attending his concert and this was the first time I had the opportunity to photograph an event like this. Magical is all I can say.
Music is not something I’m qualified to talk about but I’m passionate about it. Indian classical music more so..because of its complexity and simplicity.. I’m not at liberty due to copyright to post video or audio files from the concert itself but attaching a clip of the Maestro playing the sarod in case you have not heard him play before..
also, the ISO was purposefully high to get the grainy romantic feel…and also because it was too dark :p
Two of my colleagues and now friends in the organization I work with, have year and 3 year old kids. And I was completely bowled over when they shared how they celebrate their kids’ birthdays. The one year old tot had his very first birthday in life a couple of weeks ago and his parents took him to an orphanage, where he gave the kids all sorts of gifts useful for them to go to school and a little party so that they could have one evening of indulgence. Since these kids live on charity and are more often than not starved even for the basics. The joy on the mom’s face as she described the day to us the next morning was unbelievable.
But what I envy most is the legacy her little kid is going to carry with him as he grows up…
After all my grumpiness at the intellectual progress and increasing shallowness of people around me and all that jazz, it was a heartening story that fell in my lap..
it brings a smile, doesn’t it?
PS: tiny little adorable feet, courtesy of my two year old niece Gargi.
When you are reading a book and you are aware that you are reading a book then the book has failed you. That’s my logic of deciding whether or not those printed pages receive special heart space or not. Boring preface aside, excited doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I laid my hands on this book. It’s no secret that I am a geek but a peek into history turns me into a super geek. To say the least, I LOVED it.
Now onto serious matters. The Best of Quest is an anthology of essays, fiction and poetry published in the quarterly magazine Quest which was in circulation in India during the 60s and 70s. Quest was an offspring of the Cultural Congress movement that took birth in Europe and the rest of the world post the cold war with many siblings in US, Africa and Europe. A Jewish Bombayite Nissim Ezekiel being at the helm with editorial responsibilities, the magazine gave the first opportunity to many well known Indian authors of today. With the emergency being declared, Mrs. Gandhi wanted control over what was being printed in the magazine and the stalwarts who wrote for it preferred going out of publication rather than accepting to lose their freedom to write. This tidbit about Quest’s history sets the tone of the book.
The book is an ice-cream sundae experience. It is the optimistic philosophy of a teenager along with the acerbic wittiness of a 30 year old just realizing the realities of life. And no wonder. The Indian democracy was barely in her twenties during the 60s. The entire world was going through a change (That particular decade holds endless fascination for me. From the ideologies to the movies and music and even fashion. If I have a time machine that’s the time I would choose to visit) and the future of a new country lay ahead.
And not every essay may be something you would be interested in. But considered as an entity its a treasure trove. Some of the memorable essays for me were those which dealt with contemporary issues of the time but are as relevant today as then. The dichotomy of Hindu life talks about how Hindus through their ancient history have developed antithetic personality traits like megalomania and insecurity at the same time. Throughout I found myself nodding at the accurately made observations. Use of personality assessment of some of the great political leaders to determine their impact on policies and politics is an immensely interesting read even though the name sounds boring. Comparing popular leaders like Nehru and FDR with the likes of Shastri and Nixon and describing their personalities against the political environment they created was unexpected. And yet educational. Not everything is heavy duty though. Dilip Chitre’s ‘D’ is a tongue-in-cheek brat who has lots to say on Bollywood movies. He discusses the charisma of one Rajesh Khanna and mass hysteria when it comes to good looking movie stars. D makes you laugh by saying things like ‘Dilip Kumar’s screen deaths brought no shock to the audience since he moved and spoke, from the start, as if he were his own pall bearer’. And he is equally nonchalant in discussing sex, equating it to ‘samadhi’. I can only imagine how my grand parents’ faces would have been had they read this at the time. That is the appeal of the writing. Even though written some 40 odd years ago, it’s still relevant and yet not. Plus the English is impeccable. And if you are a sucker for the language you will appreciate the perfect grammar, punctuation and use of words.
Apart from the essays, there is a poetry as well as fiction section. There are some gems there as well. And finally a very unique addition is that of retro looking product adverts of the time to give you the magazine feel.
All in all a five star read and highly recommended as long as you are open for some serious thinking.
there’s a Marathi (my mother tongue) song which goes ‘rakat desha, kankhar desha, dagdanchya desha’..
hard to translate in English but it’s a love song for the land we live in describing it as bold, strong and rocky ..as in literally full of rocks. It takes a special kind of love to describe something as rocky and yet mean it as a compliment.
This image is from the backwaters of a little mud dam located in a village some 100 kms from Pune. The landscape of India is what keeps me rooted here.. Because every time I spend 45 minutes in traffic for a 10 minute distance, get rudely called off by people on the road, face immense amount of resistance to good ideas just because of cultural attitudes or never get work done in public offices, when life is so busy that work days become 12 hour stretches with no time to spare for things I love.. I have to keep reminding myself that there is beauty here. It needs to be unearthed… Under the callous exterior there is tenderness somewhere. The scruffiness is brought upon by circumstance and not by choice. No matter how I hate the everyday life..I still love being here.. It seems to be a hard comparison to make. But how do you decide if you are happy even when days are spent in misery? Probably because at the end of the day, sleep comes with a satisfaction of being at home…
I don’t know.
not sure I’d like to explain why I had disappeared. But now I’m back..hopefully still accepted as before
..but something about this composition attracted me. It’s quite run of the mill so to speak. but not everything can be explained now, can it?
also here’s an interesting e-book of motivational essays on photography by Scott Bourne. Maybe you’d enjoy it as much as I did. The free download is here
sorry folks. things have been terrible..and trust me I have been checking out everyone’s posts every day..but commenting requires a kind of energy and positive belief which I’m lacking currently. But I get daily inspiration from everyone’s posts and ideas. I never knew the blogosphere could feel like a place I belong to..
don’t have much to say..
am i back to regular posting and commenting?
I don’t know yet..
but I’m forcing myself to remember that this is something I love..
and that is hard to find..