Monthly Archives: October 2005

Palindromic Haiku

I chanced on this recently. I wonder what kind of thought process would go into making a palindromic haiku.

back pain swallows fear
while waiting, lonely, waiting while
fear swallows pain back

It is easier to appreciate forms of poetry that are founded in some sort of literary discipline. I have always preferred poetry in rhyme and meter as opposed to free verse. Free verse always seems like prose that has been chopped off into small pieces, for no apparent reason other than to convert regular sentences into verse. A potato in the form of a chip and a french fry is still a potato! Poetry in rhyme and meter is more musical to the ear and easy to remember, apart from the fact that it also requires the poet to be more meticulous in his choice of words.
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Vikram Seth

With the renewed interest in Vikram Seth, thought I’d post a link to one of my earlier posts on my favorite writers. This was a rather long article I wrote for one of my projects during my MBA.

Yet to grab a copy of Two Lives, but will definitely do that once my current reading backlog is done with!

The Golden Gate is my favorite Seth book – one of the few books that I have found fascinating enough to read it twice entirely.

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Remembering 2/7ths of my School Days

Saturday always reminds me of school. The school I went to had one good thing about it – all Saturdays were off. I cannot quite recollect what exactly I did on Saturdays but I did spend a small part of Saturday studying. I think human beings are inherently interested in doing the right thing but never really get down to doing it until it’s too late. Anyway, Saturday was a day of catching up. It was also a day spent in catching up on my reading (whatever modest stuff I read those days). I remember picking up ‘The Mill on the Floss’ from the library and spending weeks over it without getting past the first couple of chapters.

Occasionally, we had ‘special classes’ on Saturday. This was a cruel invention that my school came up with thanks to teachers who never managed to keep up with their scheduled lessons for each class. Every minute spent in school on Saturday was painful since every minute spent in class meant your holiday was being cut short by a minute. Somewhere in the 11th Standard, this concept of special classes mutated into and even more tragic phenomena called the ‘vacation classes’. This was when a portion of our vacations was spent in class doing Math (you see the syllabus was too vast to be covered in the scheduled academic year). In real life, I have never found any use for Integration and Differentiation but for some reason it was a concept that was important enough to waste precious vacations on.

I think these experiences have somehow resulted in my current obsession with protecting the sanctity of my weekends from weekday issues. That brings us to Sunday, another crucial day in the week for me. Childhood (and indeed, adulthood) Sundays were spent in luxuriously spending time that was not structured. The morning ritual was to fight over the Sunday newspaper (in those days, The Deccan Herald) and its many colourful supplements. This was followed by the regular dose of The Mahabharat on TV and the subsequent early heavy lunch. Afternoons were unusually quiet with everyone choosing to have a siesta except me. I found this to be an excellent opportunity to spend what pop self-help gurus call ‘quality time’ with … myself! The things I recollect doing during these afternoons include:

  • Scientific experiments involving electromagnets where I realized that one shouldn’t plug two ends of a bare copper wire wound on an iron nail into a 220 volt electric socket and then switch it on hoping to have created the world’s strongest electromagnet.
  • Attempts at reading books from my dad’s book shelf that were way ahead of my understanding in those days.
  • Worrying about that stupid day called Monday and the horrors of homework and ‘unit tests’ that were to follow in that quest for education.
  • Cycling really fast on my small embarrassment of a bicycle (BSA Champ) to impress that cute classmate who lived down the street. Yes, girls do fall for speed in a ‘man’ when they are 10. That, and also a good sense of humour.
  • Watching those tiring ‘award winning’ regional language films with subtitles on Doordarshan in those cable-TV-less days. One wondered why all these ‘award winning’ films were shot in such darkness. One reason could be that the makers of such films do not want us to know who the actors are, lest the already diminished commercial prospects of the film be any worsened.

    Well, as they say, those were the days. Looking back at school and those precious weekends I only hope that kids these days don’t have special classes … at least, not ‘vacation classes’. And as we adults know, learning about Laplace’s transformation never came of use to us at anytime after the final exams.

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Katha Collage II – [Directed by Naseeruddin Shah]

The Naseeruddin Shah directed ‘Katha Collage II’ is playing in Mumbai these days. The play is essentially a collection of stories (or rather social commentaries) by Harishankar Parsai that are weaved together with the only underlying similarity being the satirical view on human behavior and the observational humour. The biggest strength of the production is the extremely talented cast of actors who make the occasionally hard to follow ‘pure’ Hindi dialogues come alive. Like another Naseeruddin Shah production that I had seen last year, The Prophet, the director (in this case Shah himself) chooses to stick to the original script with no attempt to simplify the language to suit the modern audience. It was a pleasure to listen to the rich Hindi of the dialogues. I was transported back to those CBSE Hindi textbooks that I had read through school.

Two of the ‘stories’ really stand out – one on the merits and demerits of having bath regularly and the other on the practice that some people have of keeping others waiting for them. Both these stories manage to stand out thanks to the passionate performance by an actor whose name I do not know. Another interesting piece is the one about the ‘girl’s father’, this unusual species who comes in the way of most budding relationships. The show had the audience in splits and by the end of it all, the cast got a sincere standing ovation from all us. One thing that was going in favour of the play was the uniquely Indian nature of all the situations presented in it. The audience really identified with most of what was happening on stage.

The satire and sharp observational humour in Katha Collage is nothing new, but the rendition in Hindi is something that makes it a novelty. I think the play should be on in Prithvi till the weekend. Don’t miss it if you are in Mumbai!

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Convergence

A tear quietly travels down her slightly wrinkled cheek as she reads the last page of a tragic short story. She closes the book and looks up. After 17 years, its Stephen. Again. In that same corner book store. A new tear prepares for its journey. Stories are never short.
——-
My attempt at nano-fiction.

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