Friday, October 31, 2008


first the predictably awful karzz in which himesh lives up to my expectations and urmila puts on a husky voice to be evil. some of the songs i liked- if only he didn’t sing them. the other predictable bollywood dud ‘fashion’ was not as sleazy as i thought it would be. pulpy like a jackie collins novel and enjoyable in the same way except for the tedious second half with priyanka chopra pouting her way back to the top. kangana ranaut is the real show stopper though- even with that terrible voice she really believes in that character. the film was surprisingly not as offensive as i thought it could have been. even the marriage of convenience to the gay designer was not as cringe inducing as i expected.
and on tv ‘the great dictator’ chaplin’s double role as tailor and tyrant with a sentimental inspirational ‘why cant we all love one another end’ but on its way there hilarious, brilliant and moving. that ballet with the inflated globe, or the barbers chairs… fantastic. cute killer machines from outer space save planet earth from something called the ‘cube’ in transformers. the special effects were supposed to be amazing but on the small screen the villains transformed into the heroes who transformed into planes, tanks, huge robots and confused my poor brain.
in ‘bari thekey paliye’ kanchon runs away from home to a post independence calcutta reeling under the impact of the partition. beautiful film.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


even before that horrific morning we had been talking about the stench of death in the air of benares- the thick heavy air of futility that surrounds everything. in the city nothing stays new for more than a minute. its as if as soon as the hand of the maker is removed the object begins to disintegrate. the city is a make shift assemblage to house those who live today and as they inch towards their eventual death the city crumbles with them. nothing physical has any meaning- any aura of mystique. the only things that stay are the rituals and stories that transcend all corporality. the city exhausts you. the sun beating down hard on the ghats, the muddy vast river. at night the light go out and the generators come on making everything else inaudible except for their loud rattle that fills the air. in the forecourt of the hotel opposite our lodge- the brand new hotel ok international- all glad clad and ceramic tiles- a uniformed guard stood at the door trying unsuccessfully to keep the carpet of grasshoppers on the front court out from coming into the lobby. we walked on them and they crunched below our feet.

and in the city on the other side of sanity we have to suspend all notions of right and wrong. if there is a logic to benares it lies within its own sense of order. i have never been to a city this entangled in itself- perpetually aware of its own uniquness. rickshaw drivers, pan wallahs, sadhus, all wax eloquent at the drop of a hat about the inverted logic of benares. white skinned tourists seeking spiritual enlightenment sit cross legged at the german bakery and gawk from a launch wearing khadi kurtas and garlands at the burning ghats at manikarnika ghat. a tourist guide over the loudspeaker warns them to be prepared for the shock of what they are about to see. later in the evening an australian girl plays a didgeridoo to the ganga in the darkness.

nearby in a temple compound a photo studio is set up decorated with photographs of corpses. at daseshwamedha the aarti is spectacle with no ritual. halogen lights flashing cameras and a blaring loudspeaker. and we walked all the 84 ghats at different times of the day. to the north the river’s edge is domestic- cattle and dhobis while to the south more religious. boat men tell well rehearsed stories about gods and film stars. at raja chet singh ghat, in the palace perched on top urmila matondkar shot ‘banares’ and the king dove directly into the water when the british surrounded the city. he was watching a mujra at the time and sometimes you can hear the sound of the ghungroo at night. a secret passage leads from here to ramnagar on the other side of the river. ramnagar is where the king of benares lives- in a fort that is assembled out of pieces each signifying some desire to be royal. parts of a colonial palace with pieces cut and pasted from rajasthan. while we were there celebrations were on for the 030 day ramlila. its all very hand made homegrown spectacle as the performance moves around the city named after different parts of the ramayan. the palace museum has dusty cars, palanquins. no one bothers with maintenance. these relics have no meaning here. i wonder what conservationists will preserve in this city where history finds no place in objects and the residue of generations lies layered one over the other making the city. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

goodbye toxic

i have tried to write something for over a week now. every two sentences i give up and backspace the words off the screen. such a beautiful brilliant boy. such a harrowing experience. the ‘incident’ the only way i can describe it to myself- trying to protect myself and those around me from the horror of that day. as if it is possible to soften such a hard blow. watching it happen, feeling helpless, angry and incredibly sad.

i was flattered when some students told me they saw me in him. i felt it too- a connection. now we are forever linked. i can never forget. it haunts my dreams- sharan, me and taksheel standing on the edge of the country with a lake lapping at our feet looking across the water to tibet; or last night when i walk up to the second floor of the college and all the students are hanging off the ceiling like bats.

we are going to miss him- mad boy. what an incredible child. what a loss.

Friday, October 10, 2008

study trip tomorrow

it has been years since i have been on a second year study trip. the last time was way before my bloglife in 2001(maybe?) with ateya's class to bhubaneshwar. what a disaster that one was!
this time it is benares / kashi / varanasi and we intend to draw a panorama of everyday life along the ghats and then play a game of tarot. myth and reality all twisted up. lets see how it goes.

some cyborgs

diane ivy pot edward theater

reema cotton pod zipper bora bazaar

meghashree feather wallet sandhurst road railway station

radhika jaw umbrella bhaucha dhakka

anuj grass rubberband jogeshwari caves

payal locust lightbulb dindoshi sra

lavina ginger icecube tray mandapeshwar caves

ashish centipede knife juhu market

namita tree stem ballpoint pen zoo


taksheel bat wheel juhu temple