September 29, 2007

Life and Laugh in a Metro

The Cal metro started running from Tollygunge to Dum Dum in twenty five minutes, when I was in middle school.We would show it off to our out-of-town cousins, taking them on back-n-forth ride from Tollygunge.

The well-spaced-out recorded messages in a charming feminine voice in Hindi, English and Bangla and the approaching hint of a flickering light down the tracks, to assure the approach of a train- were the same when I first took the Delhi metro. With a friend. To get down at Chauri Bazaar.

And later to Janakpuri, down the western route, in a crowded metro. This was novel though.The intersecting routes. The touch your coupon to open the gates funda. And recently to Dwarka, Sector 9. A forty-five minute metro ride. Partly spent leaning over a diminutive-I-don't-fuck-obviously-migrant woman. With glazed glass bangles. And rib-bones peeping out from in between safety-pins guarding her cleavage. Next to her, chattering, were Banya women in fluorescent pink/green/sequiny synthetic-cotton saris. And mehendi hands. And pallus pulled over their heads. The lone man on the Ladies Seats, with a gaze frozen at an indeterminate point on the X-axis of the door.

Something about Ladies Seats. I thought. Giggling women personalising bits and chunks of public spaces. Maybe Jat constables and auto-drivers personalise an overwhelmed-in-sugar-chai-joint the same way. Creating a minute comfort zone. Maybe public spaces are just that. A jumble of personalised comfort-zones enmeshed together. The way the giggling women and the Jat constable and the Call-centre couple live different lives and laughs everyday. In the same geography.

September 24, 2007

U and I

I have a profound theory about paradigmatic bubbles of Men and Women- but this captures it much more aptly than my attempts at profundity.

In other news, I am speaking to an old friend, Universe these days. Conversations are something like this:

U: So you must have it all figured out eh?
A: Of course, I have foresight. And I have been known to have taken sensible decisions in the past. My friends and family have known me to be independent, un-eccentric, head-screwed-onto-shoulders types. So surely...
U: Surely surely...

U: So sometimes you strongly want to scream out loud and run like a madcap eh?
A: Not sometimes. Rarely. It's like 10-second sensation and then it goes. And I am back to being rational and head-screwed-onto-shoulders (RHSOS) again.
U: Of course, of course.

A: U, you knew I would do this, didn't you? Why didn't you tell me?! U, you moron!
U: Then you wouldn't have done it, he he.
A: Of course, your job is to keep me RHSOS every time I waiver! Did you not know that, U?
U: My job is to keep you RHSOS. Relax, Her Sensibility is Often Surreal. My job is soo much fun, he he.
A: WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 22, 2007

Art and Idiocy

Hardam Mareez-an adaptation of Molliere's Imaginary Invalid- produced by Theatre Spirits (a Bombay group) made an unpromising Friday evening, mesmerised. By the sheer energy of the production. And I can think of no other word than 'energy' to describe the production. A refreshing change from years of mediocre 'tech-school-enthu-kids' efforts, and pretentious arty-thespian-guru productions, that I've watched in the recent years.

The first thing that catches one's attention about the play is a minimal stage, with a riot of colours thrown in by way of costumes. Halogen yellows, greens, pinks, reds creating a sense of absurdity. Of mesmerising ludicrous. With hoop-skirts and kaftans. And all footwear being coloured keds. A stylised dialogue-delivery in shudhh Hindi further consolidated the feel of absurd fantasy. More so, by exaggerated props (a cardboard lollipop, cardboard injection syringe, cardboard rose,empty wine bottles).

A hypochondriac man, a conniving stepmother, the damsel-in-distress daughter contemplating suicide (but never really...) out of unfulfilled love, her dreamy lover, a scoundrel of a stepmother's lover, eager-to-please suitor. And the star-of-the-show, the cunning maid-servant. Played with inconceivable artistry and stage-energy, by Shipra Singh, she is the cunning, sexual, assertive, foul-mouthed, garrulous, well-meaning woman. Whose every movement, every expression, every flirtation strikes the audience, with an injection of energy.

Art for art's sake. Epitomised. Two resplendent dance sequences.To what end, am not very sure. But mesmerising nevertheless. One by a cross-dressed, male dancer- an exotic, gypsy performance. Art of energy and madness. Unfettered idiocy. And sexuality. Spells out this production. No pretentious black boxes, and red scarves. No political, feminist, development, war, ethnicity, world bank angst. Refreshingly mad. Somewhat reminded me of a Nandikar fable-production I watched years back, in Cal, of course, with a higher skill-set of musical artistry (the Bong snob speaks). But, similar madness, energy, sort of a meaningless artistic journey.

If you're free this weekend shows are running today and tomorrow, at Shri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg at 7 p.m. I am still reeling under the impact of Hardam Mareez.

September 18, 2007

version II

A Hinge in the Middle

Something of a spongy sensation.

In age-old teak.

In humid morning shadows.

The edges of the desks worn out.

Of sharpness.

A hinge in the middle,

The lid folds into two.

It is funny-this hinge.

To run your finger along it,

Careful not to let it squeeze between the folding sections.

A lectern to rest your feet, carved like an inverted S,

Sheafs of paper tied together.

Answer booklet.

Please remember to number your answers in an orderly fashion.

A yellow plastic box

Yields a translucent ruler.

Sundrops turn rainbow around its edges.

If you wave it slowly near the window.

Suck candy.

Beneath summer foliage.

Section B- 30 marks.

Please attempt any three questions.

Wipe the dripping orange liquid.

Crumple dripping paper.

Press against palm.

Neatness- 1 mark.

Hinges along the window-pane too,

Along blue wooden panels.

Pindrop silence.

Along Iron-rust railings.

Iron-rust railings are two

f’s facing each other.

Run your finger along them.

Wet with sweat.

September 19, 2007

12.03 p.m.

This is something I first wrote on March 15, 2006. Out of a vivid junior school exam marijuana-induced recollection. The first version has been published. Found it amidst old documents this morning and took off most of the articles, especially the 'the's - they read like ugly decorative buttons on a black halter top. Fucked up the grammar a little here and there. This is version II.

September 16, 2007


Melancholy is a word I learnt in High School, when we were being taught Midsummer Night's Dream. Sophisticated English teachers (who wore big red bindis, starched off-white saris, and were divorced) pointed out that Shakespearean imagery of winds and their sorcery was used, often, to depict moods. One of these moods being melancholy.

I graduated from the stage of cordiality with Melancholy, to that of familiarity in college, as I began to realise that PMS wasn't entirely a concoction of Oprah Winfrey and Agony Aunt columns of rave-n-rant feminists. When all my nonchalance gathered up, scraped- scrounged-piggie-bank-broken, could not put up a good enough fight for the onslaught engineered by Hormone army. And melancholy is the Lovechild of this cruel Hormonal onslaught upon my otherwise, ahem, Footloose and Fancifree self.

I am convinced PMS days can't be described better in any other term, in any other language, than the Shakespeare-favourite word Melancholy. In Hindi, it will probably be called Udaasi, but that fits only Greek Tragedy Queens, or Mala Sinha (from the 1950s) in a white sari. Can't think of an exact Bong word for it, but even if it strikes me, I'm sure it won't match the accuracy of Melancholy.

So last night, I experienced Melancholy (Vista version), where a book and good music and rains seem to gang up on you. Like school-bullies. And every third sentence in the book seems to resonate your Melancholy. And you confide in the spider web at the edges of the ceiling.

September 9, 2007

Dream Theatre

This post brought back ruminations about Vishal Bharadwaj. I am an unapologetic secret lover. Of this budding master's easy dreamweaving around Shakespearean scripts. Creation of the surreal, the eerie, the dreamlike, the ghostly- is this man's brand of cinemagic.

Maqbool wove the edginess of forbidden desire, of an ambitious man of restraint, and a vivacious beauty trapped. Of feminine cunning. Of lovers, bent and broken. Of ambition losing its machismo. Of two quirky sycophants. Of violent intrigues being part of everyday life. Other than some RGV productions (Sarkar immediately comes to mind), I have not seen a filmmaker that creates unrealistic auras, with such elan. My filmwatching canvas, of course, being limited to Bollywood, Bangla Aantel movies, Hollywood purportedly Aantel movies, Oscar winners, and select Europe/Mexico/SE Asia movies.

Omkara is something I am a little obsessive about (as you will figure from my rantings in a fledgling movie blog that we dint ultimately kick off). Here too, Bharadwaj creates an aura of unreal cowbelt patriarchal society and internal power equations, which as urbane metro bubble-gum audience, I believe, every time I watch the movie. The machismo-wars that operate parallel yet entangled in the larger political wars, revealing the vulnerabilities of Boys with the Guns.

Chhatri Chor, similarly, creates an aura around a blue umbrella. A child's zealous possessiveness. A middle-aged man's innocent avarice. All the while spreading cinemagic amidst a sleepy hill-hamlet. Skies of peach and pathways of snow. Meadows of green, and cows of little girls. Musclepower, here too, of the fairytale variety. That one accepts, and does not scream out in outrage. Because it all fits in with Bharadwaj's dreamride.

I hear he is making a short film on HIV AIDS with Mira Nair, hope the dreamweaving will continue. And he will not break into the big scene and lose his taste for the unreal talking to the real. And I hope he will marry me someday. Sigh.

5:09 p.m. Machismo is my word for the week. Pronounced 'makkhismo'.