Monsoon; 5 year old kids looking intently at small puddles.
यहां एक earthworm, और यहां दो है.
आरव, यहां देखो, यहां दो, और शर्विन के पास तो बहोत है.
अरे हां. कितने सारे earthworms.
बारीश में घुमने जा रहें है वो सब.
मैं बोलूं? ये पापा earthworm है, ये ममा earthworm है, और ये उनके बेबीज हैं.
मैं बोलूं? ये पापा earthworm है और ये ममा earthworm है. क्यूँ बोलूं? पापा हमेशा ममा से लंबे होतें हैं.

Silly 5 year olds. Everyone knows that earthworms are hermaphrodites.


Echoing footsteps of years

Echoing footsteps of years From A Tale Of Two Cities

I was going to add this to the post Some Phrases I Like. But then decided otherwise.

Charles Dickens’ book is a great classic. It features the years of the French revolution. Somewhat slow in pace and very easy to abandon. May appear somewhat boring; or a lot if you are not fond of classics. At the same time it is chilling.

The heroine of the book, Lucie, is a lovely girl. She is close to her governess, her father and a couple of people. A small happy family and friend circle. She gets married to a gentleman and Dickens describes her happy married life at the beginning of a chapter like this:

A wonderful corner for echoes, it has been remarked, that corner where the Doctor lived. Ever busily winding the golden thread which bound her husband, and her father, and herself, and her old directress and companion, in a life of quiet bliss, Lucie sat in the still house in the tranquilly resounding corner, listening to the echoing footsteps of years.

I was reading the book and when I read this paragraph at the start of that chapter, I had to stop reading. For a brief period I just couldn’t go on. It is such a beautiful expression. I reread it. And thought that it was something great. This happens many times. Like for example, when travelling, you visit a spot which just leaves you speechless. The moment has to be enjoyed. It cannot be rushed. It is a quiet blissful moment. And most of the time it is very personal. Thousands of people may enjoy the same tourist spot with same intensity. But it is still special for you. And (at least for me) it is very inward.

It is not limited to reading, travel or songs. There are many such things. What are such things for you when you experience non-sexual ecstasy, so to say? Sometimes there is a pattern I guess. (And some other times there isn’t.) For example, I am very likely to be – to use an expression from The Godfather – ‘struck by a thunderbolt’ when reading books than, say, when I am discussing some politics related topic. Lata’s songs are more likely to resonate with me than some famous paintings. But for someone else paintings could be more striking than songs, etc. Are you aware of the things that resonate easily with you? Does being aware of these things or patterns lessen the intensity of the moment?

I stopped when I read the expression and when after a couple of minutes I resumed reading, I noticed that the name of the chapter was also the same. I felt happy.

Jean De Florette And Manon des Spring

Recently saw a good movie series

Jean De Florette and Manon des sources (AKA Manon of the Spring) which is Part 2 of Jean De Florette.

Part 2 requires part 1 references. So part 1 should be seen before part 2

Some phrases I like

Every now and then I’ll list some phrases, constructs, quotes I like in this post.


प्रत्यक्षाहुनी प्रतिमा उत्कट… After a long while I listened to the Geet Ramayan. Not the whole set; but just a few select songs. And while listening to ‘सेतू बांधारे सागरी’ I stumbled upon a line ‘प्रारंभास्तव अधीर पूर्तता’. I liked that phrase. And while playing it in mind, I suddenly remembered this प्रत्यक्षाहुनी प्रतिमा उत्कट and then I stopped, rewound my playlist and played the starting song ‘स्वये श्रीरामप्रभू ऐकती, कुशलव रामायण गाती’. गदिमा म्हणतात, कुशलव रामचरित्र गाताना निर्माण झालेली रामांची प्रतिमा ही प्रत्यक्ष रामांपेक्षाही उत्कट आहे. Wow.

गीतरामायणामध्ये अशा ब-याच रचना आहेत. उदा. ‘या दानासी या दानाहून अन्य नसे उपमान’

Let me know which Geet Ramayan songs you like.


Orange colored periwinkle: An embarrassing moment

I was not and still am not so good at drawing, sketching or painting. I was a good student – topper in the school, very good in sports, etc. But drawing and some other art forms were a strict no-no.
By a very odd coincidence at the start of our school term, there was a shortage of drawing teachers (probably some teacher retired) and for that whole semester, we got a teacher who used to teach maths and geometry at junior college that was associated with my school. He was good at drawing.
Once he noticed or heard that I was good at maths and all other subjects, but was not so good in drawing, he ignored my drawing almost completely. At the start of class, he would explain some concept of drawing and then ask the class to draw and paint something. And immediately afterwards would ask me to come forward to his desk and then would give me some difficult mathematical problem to solve.
In the next class, he would want the answer to the problem and would want to know how I had come up with the answer. My ways of solving those mathematical problems were not very elegant obviously and then he would explain me some aspects where my logic would fail and teach me some advanced mathematical concepts. And then he would give me another problem to solve. He would say you can complete your drawing at home and let us see if you can work out this math problem during this class today. If not we would look at it in the next lecture. And it continued to the next class.
There was no getting away from it. He ignored my drawing assignments completely and focused on developing my math skills. He liked to give me math problems and I became his favorite. (I encountered those math concepts again at college level.) I enjoyed learning those things then but my friends would make fun of me. Still I enjoyed it. And I almost never bothered about the drawing assignments. I completed those but just because I had to. But there was no heart in it.
Once the teacher asked me to come forward and out of habit, I went to him with my ‘math notebook’ in hand. He then sent me back and asked me to bring my drawing book to show him. Wow. I can recall the situation almost completely. When I was going back to my desk to fetch my drawing book, all my friends were surreptitiously laughing, mocking, winking at me.
In the previous class he had asked us to draw a Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus). At home, I had managed to get the plant in correct form, shape and proportions. But somehow I had messed it up. And I had not been able to see what exactly I had messed up. Something was not right. But what it was, I couldn’t say. He examined the painting for a long time and then said, ‘Oh, you have painted it in orange color, is it? That’s new! We, in our locality, broadly speaking in India, have pink colored periwinkles. I can say with confidence, that I have never in my life seen an orange periwinkle. So, I agree that it is an innovative idea, but we will let the rest of the class paint it pink, if that is ok with you. Is it?’
I still enjoy that sarcasm but in that moment I did not know where to look.


कबुतराचे पिल्लू

**या पोस्ट मध्ये खूप general knowledge, trivia, biology वगैरे गोष्टी सांगता आल्या असत्या. पण स्वतःच्या विश्वाबाहेर जाऊन आलेला एक लहानसा experience एवढाच एक focus ठेवलाय इथे.

माझ्या घराच्या drying balcony मध्ये कबुतरांनी घरटे बनवून अंडी घातली आहेत.

पहिल्यांदा दोन कबुतरे आली आणि तिथे ठेवलेल्या कुंडीत बसली तेव्हा मी त्यांना हाकलून दिले. कबुतर हा पुण्यासारख्या ठिकाणी एवढा नेहमीचा पक्षी झाला आहे, की त्याचे काही कौतुक नाही राहिलेले. दुसरे म्हणजे कबुतरे खूप घाण करतात. म्हणून कबुतरांच्या त्या जोडीला हुसकावून लावणे यात काही चुकीचे नाही वाटले मला.

दुस-या दिवशी संध्याकाळी बघतो तर तिथे काड्यांचा लहानसा बिछाना (त्यालाच आता घरटं म्हणायचं) बनवून एक कबुतर बसले आहे आणि एक अंडेही घातले आहे. (इथे लिंगभेद लक्षात विसरूया – म्हणजे ती किंवा तो कबुतर असे नको म्हणायला.) मधूनच दुसरे कबुतर यायचे. त्या बाल्कनी मध्ये एक कायच्या काय वाढलेला वेल आहे. त्यामूळे बाहेरून थोडासा आडोसा वगैरे आहे. पण दरवज्याचा अगदी समोर असल्याने आम्हाला बरेच गैरसोयीचे आहे. पण कबुतरांना मात्र ती जागाच योग्य वाटली असावी अंडी घालण्यासाठी.

मग मात्र त्यांना हाकलावेसे वाटेना. कीव आली म्हणता येईल. अगदीच desperate झाल्याशिवाय माणसे किंवा इतर प्राणीपक्षी असे desperate measures घेत नसावेत. अंडे आजच घालायला पाहिजे अशी त्या बिचा‑या पाखरांवर वेळ आली नसती तर त्यांनी एवढा धोका पत्करलाच नसता.

मग त्यांनी घाईत बनवलेल्या घरट्याला हातभार म्हणून मी तिथे थोडासा कापूस वगैरे टाकला. त्याकडे त्यांनी आजपर्यंत बघितले पण नाही. मग त्यांना थोडेसे गहू टाकणे वगैरे चालू केले. तांदूळ, डाळ वगैरे polish केलेले धान्य कबुतरे खात नाहीत हे मला आधीपासूनच माहीत आहे.

मिसेस कबुतर डवखु‑या असाव्यात. कारण एकदोनदा त्या अंडं उबवत बसलेल्या असताना जवळ गेलो तर त्यांनी मला डाव्या पंखाने फटकारले.

दोन दिवस मध्ये गेले. आणि त्यांनी दुसरे अंडे घातले. पुण्यात कडाक्याची थंडी पडली दोन आठवडे तेव्हाची ही गोष्ट. मग ते कबुतर दिवसभर तिथेच बसून असायचे. मी अगदी जवळ गेलो की ते घाबरत असावे असे नजरेवरून वाटते पण तरी उडून दुसरीकडे जावे, अशी त्याची ईच्छा नसायची. एकदोनदा पंख मारले. (अंग्रेज के ज़माने का जेलर आणि त्याचा ‘यहॉं हमारे इजाज़त के बिना परिंदा भी पर नही मार सकता’, हा डायलॉग आठवला.) मग मीही जरा दुरूनच त्याला खायला टाकायचो.

नंतर एक अंड्यातून पिटूकलं पिलू बाहेर आले. ते कबुतर त्या पिलालाही उब देण्यासाठी त्याच्यावर बसायचे. पिल्लूही पूर्ण अंगावर पिवळसर पांढरे केस असलेले. पंख, ग्रे कलर, गुटर्गु वगैरे काही नाही. (Grey color चा उल्लेख आला म्हणून एक trivia/ trivium: grey rock pigeon is actually a dove.) मग दिवरभर ते कबुतर् तिथेच बसून.

आता ते पिलू जरा मोठं झालंय.

मधल्या काळातल्या एकदोन विचित्र गोष्टी:

१.  दुसरे अंडे तसेच पडून आहे. त्यातून काही पिलू बाहेर नाही आले. त्या कबूतरानेदेखील आता ते अंडे ignore केले आहे. माझ्या लक्षात आले कधी? तर एक पिलू झाल्यावर एका आठवड्याने ते न उबलेले अंडे ढकलून घरट्यातून बाहेर असे थोडेसे दूर केलेले दिसले तेव्हा. Nature is so raw.

२.  पिलू झाल्यावर कावळ्यांना कुठूनतरी खबर गेली असावी. दोन दिवस एक कावळा येऊन त्या कबुतरांना भरपूर त्रास देत होता. (दोन्ही दिवस एकच कावळा नसेल कदाचित. दोन वेगवेगळे कावळेही असतील. पण दोन कावळ्यांमधला फरक सांगणे हे दोन सरदारजींमधला फरक सांगण्यासारखे अवघड आहे.) अशा वेळी तो कावळा दुरून कावकाव करत असताना इतर वेळी गायब असलेले दुसरे कबूतर ते पिल्लू आणि त्याच्या आईजवळून हलत नव्हते. यात विचित्र काय? तर कावळा.

हल्ली कावळा यायचा बंद झालाय.

अजूनही ते पिलू तसे लहान आहे. स्वतःच्या पायावर धड (pun intended) उभे राहू शकत नाही. पायात तेवढी ताकद आलेली नसावी. आवाजात अजूनही चिवचिवाटच आहे. उडणे सोडा, स्वतःचे लहानसे पंख व्यवस्थित हलवूही शकत नाही. पण आता जरासा कबुतरासारखा आकार आलाय त्याला. आईच्या पंखांना टोचा मारत असतं. आई त्याचे पंख साफ करते. मी सकाळ संध्याकाळ मूग, मटकी, हरबरे वगैरे धान्य घालतो. चन्यांबद्दल जरा doubtful होतो. पण हे पॉलिश न केलेले धान्य खातात ते. त्याची आई ते धान्य टिपून जरासे भिजवते. मग काही वेळाने ती त्याला भरवू लागली की त्याचा चिवचिवाट ऐकण्यासारखा असतो. जेवण झाल्यावर आई त्याच्या डोक्यावर बसून सक्तीने त्याला झोपायला लावते. (माझ्या लहानपणी ही दुपारची सक्तीची झोप माझ्या डोक्यात जायची.) आईचं त्याच्यावर आणि त्याचंही आईवर प्रेम आहे. वडील असतातच मधूनमधून. पण दरवाजा उघडला की उडून जातात. आईदेखील आता नेहमी थांबत नाही पिलाजवळ. पण असते तेव्हा नजर एकदम alert असते. अंड्यातून पिलू बाहेर आल्यापासून ते आतापर्यंत ती नजर नेहमीच alert आहे. आणि ती नजर alert आहे हे आपल्याला जाणवण्याइतकी ती alert असते. कितीही वेळा त्यांना धान्य टाकले तरी त्यांची खायची तयारी असते. आपणच कमी पडतो की काय असे मला वाटत राहते. पिल्लू एकटे असताना धान्य टाकायला, washing machine मध्ये कपडे टाकायला दरवाजा उघडला, की ते एकदम सावरून बसते. अजून डोळ्याची lenses व्यवस्थित develop झाली नसावीत. (त्यामुळे flash मारून खूपसे photos काढावेसे नाही वाटले.) पण थोडासा अंदाज वाटला की ते पिलू एकदम अंग फुगवून चोच मारायला बघतं – दुसरा फोटो. (अंग फुगवून मोठ्या आकाराचा भ्रम परक्यांच्या मनात निर्माण करणे हा ब‑याच प्राण्यांचा/पक्ष्यांचा defense mechanism चा एक भाग आहे.) बिचा‑याला अजून पायावर उभे राहता येत नाही पण उभे राहायचा प्रयत्न करतं. चोच मारायचा प्रयत्न, पंख हलवण्याचे प्रयत्न, पायावर उभे राहणे या हालचालींमध्ये अजून grace आली नाही. येईल लवकरच.




Stephen Fry’s Washpot

I finished reading Moab Is My Washpot – Stephen Fry’ autobiography – about a month back. To be frank, there are many individuals I really admire. And Stephen Fry (I will call him SF) is just one of them.

I remember clearly when for the first time I came across anything by SF. It was his intro to an edition of a P. G. Wodehouse book. However, this is not about Wodehouse, so I won’t even mention the name of the book. In the introduction to this compilation of Plum (Wodehouse, plum for Pelham) work in various books, SF had said that, ‘no actors are as good as the actors we each of us carry in our head’. That is a great statement. It explains –even if not entirely- why we like books more than the movies based on the books. Hugh Laurie (HL) had written a piece as well. And at that time I found SF’s writing much better and readable that Hugh Laurie’s.

I watched Blackadder, A Bit of Fry And Laurie, etc. Then I watched Jeeves And Wooster. It was then that I felt Hugh Laurie was amazing. There are a very few movie characters I would rate as almost as good as corresponding characters from books. Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone was good for example. You feel that he really understood how Mario Puzo wanted Michael to be. But when sighted Al Pacino’s Michael as a reference, possibly you would be surprised that I consider HL’s interpretation of Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster as good as – if not better than – Al Pcino’s interpretation of Michael. However, it is so. SF’s Jeeves, howver, I did not like as much. I thought maybe SF is not as good an actor as HL. And I still do.

Then I watched House MD where Hugh Laurie is superb. And really, I did not have much space left for SF. So while admiring their comedy and other work, I was not much sold on SF, if you want that expression.

But then BBC QI happened. And I was upset that for so much time I – well kind of – ignored SF. I watched and watched again those QI episodes. Not entirely for SF but the format – interesting pieces of information interspersed with comedy. I have watched SF’s most work since (excluding the plays), I have read his tweets and listened to him reading Harry Potter books. (In fact, but for Stephen Fry, I would not even know Harry Potter’s world. I wanted to read HP of course, as so many of my friends were really hooked on to it. But then I did not pick the books up precisely for the same reason. I am very reluctant to acknowledge anything which gets successful so quickly. I believe in acquired taste – in case of books, movies, friendships, girls, songs and many other things – and sustained one at that. So as I said I was going to read HP some day but when I found audio books in SF voice, I could not wait. I liked HP by the way.)

So all in all, now I am huge Stephen Fry fan.

Now let’s come to the autobiography. Moab Is My Washpot. I had picked it up from a county library when I was in the US. However, midway through it I had to come back to India and so I returned the book half read. Then again, at that time, I was more interested to find about SF-HL friendship, etc. Little did I know.

Then I kind of forgot the book- I mean I could not lay my hands on it. Then recently I ordered it online and read it. And I liked it very much.

It is his story from childhood till he becomes seventeen. Of course he is very candid and seems honest. He is also good with words and language. But I knew that already.* The name of the book suggests that he wishes to wash away his sins in as large a washpot as possible.

I was not really interested in play of words. But the book sounds authentic and honest, so much that it is almost cruel. He talks about how he broke school bounds to visit the village sweet shop, how he stole money from people, his friends from public school, how he lied to get out of sports practice as he was not much into sport, how he gullied other boys to get out of school punishment, etc. Then how he got attracted to a boy in the school (He is gay, by the way.)

While his sexuality is a personal choice, compulsion or inclination, I must say there are parts where I sympathized with him. Until now, I considered homosexuality to be an unnatural thing. I still think that it is unnatural. But the way he described it during the period when he was attracted to Mathew, I really wanted to cry for him. Maybe he is very good with language and drama. But those pages really kill you. Another thing I found new was the argument that it is very hard for the rest of the world to acknowledge that gay people are together because they love each other. It is the love that is holding them together just like it holds two heterosexuals together. The others just don’t want to acknowledge that there is love involved. That argument really took me by surprise.** I knew such word like love associated with homosexuality from sources like FRIENDS (Carol and Susan), etc But I never fully grasped the idea of love based homosexual relationship.

Later SF is asked to leave the school because he is found stealing money, misusing permission to visit London to attend Sherlock Holmes society.

He still continues stealing, sometimes from his mother. Later he runs away from his home, is caught by the police while he is using someone else’s credit card, is sent to prison, etc.

He says that his mother – knowing how he liked to solve crosswords – had carefully cut the Times crosswords for all days he was away from home and one day brought those to prison. He tries to stifle the cry/sob when he sees that crossword bundle. While reading his story I did not even try that. I cried. Is there any other love as pure as a mother’s?

After his prison sentence, he says that he was older than other boys appearing for the university exam. The eagerness to start afresh and go to the university is forcefully apparent. He describes how he was to get a post if he was selected at the university (Cambridge, by the way if did not know already or you haven’t still checked wiki entry for SF.). He builds the eagerness, describes how he could not even wait for the postman to arrive in their village, how he goes to a town and how there he later gets a phone call from his mother that the selection telegram has arrived.

Of course SF is a good author and he has built the story of his life dramatically. As a person he may be a pawn of his vices and virtues but as the author he is in complete control. It is like he almost makes you feel for him. I so wanted him to get that university selection telegram. I guess I am not much of a musical person, but it was more like an opera. The music keeps rising, it is almost unbearably loud and still you enjoy it and you feel the drama and climax. And it stops right at the high point (This is mainly my free itunes Mozart and other audio podcasts talking, nothing more.) Or it was like the ending of Gone with the wind.

The first thing I wanted to do after I finished it was to meet the seventeen year boy and hug him. I ended up ordering the next autobiography of his (The Fry Chronicles which describes his university years). Stupid flipkart people delayed it saying that it is an imported edition. Then it arrived when I was midway through R. K. Narayan’s The Guide. And if it were (was?) any other author than Narayan, Wodehouse, PuLa, or even if I was re-reading the book, I would have gladly kept it aside and started with the chronicles. I have started it now. (And The Guide was good too. Narayan is a master story teller.) Guide took so much time because I was reading India-A History by Micheal Kaey – in parallel. I am still reading it.

Hope Chronicles are good. I loved the college days photographs of HL, Ben Elton, SF and Emma Thomson.



*(While I would rate their Tony And Control and some other jokes better here is a sample of play of words as I remember it from A Bit of Fry and Laurie:

SF: And how is everything? How is your wife doing?

HL: We got divorced.

SF: Sad, sad! Also I remember you had a daughter. I don’t remember her name though.

HL: Henrietta.

SF: Did he, did he? My God, did he?)

**My knowledge about what love is is basically from the book ‘The Road Less Traveled’ by M. Scott Peck. He says that real love starts when you fall out of love with a person whom you had fallen in love with. Loving, then, is really a conscious decision. Do read the book, by the way.

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