Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Is that

an accusing finger
pointed at the skies
for the inequities of
the world

a craning neck
scanning the horizon
for the beloved

a raised arm 



a tall being
to shed light
on a 
dark world

just a symbol

stand up
and be counted

of foolish

of elitist aloofness

to stay upright
in a sea of temptations

to stand
up to


- just a reliable ol'
light house

to warn against
the rocks?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ramesh Jhawar and his Art

I have been travelling for the last couple of weeks and more. I have been to or passed through Delhi, Dubai, Amsterdam, Maastricht, Tongeren (Belgium), Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kharagpur and Manipal. Ufff...

All I wanted to do the first free weekend after many was rest - basically do nothing.

But, Ramesh Jhawar's solo exhibition of watercolours is on at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (usually referred to as CKP). Visiting that would be sheer pleasure and hence I went. Nor was I disappointed.

He is an artist I admire a lot.

Ramesh hails from a business family in Erode, TN. He has been interested in drawing from his childhood triggered by the comics - Phantom and Tarzan to name only two. He was introduced to oils in his college days. Milind Mulick's (whom he always refers to as Milind Sir) book on watercolours changed it all and he has never looked back!

I love his works for various reasons. Unlike many watercolour works, his works are full of details that never appear contrived or painstakingly executed. His eye for colour and composition are very highly developed. Works that appear to be full of details when viewed from a distance reveal the abstraction and reduction to essential shapes that are used to achieve it,  viewed close up.

Here is a picture of Ramesh with some of his paintings.

The exhibition is on till 26th Jan 2014 - one day left as I write this. 

Please do visit!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

About Time

Recently, I came across a Youtube video of Javed Akhtar reciting one of his poems called Waqt which means time. Beautiful. On the video, his face reflects his wonder about this transient thing called time, which he has distilled in his poem.

One poetic thought made an impact on me. He asks, is time standing still and we are moving along and it only appears to move, like the stationary trees that appear to move when I travel on a train.

Wah wah!

And then today I read an article titled "Saving time: Physics killed it. Do we need it back?"  It describes a scientific theory very similar to the poetic thought I just described; that time is an illusion. The past, the present and the future coexist if we view the universe from a vantage point outside the universe.

That is uncannily close to what scientists are theorising. (Let me temporarily discount the possibility that Javed Akhtar read about this somewhere and developed it poetically. Even then, no mean achievement, really) Is this why G.P. Rajaratnam said, "ravvi kANad kavvi kaMDa"? ರವ್ವಿ ಕಾಣದ್‍ಕವ್ವಿ ಕಂಡ - A poet sees what the sun cannot see, based on a poetic idea that the sun sees everything.

A quirky idea popped up. There are some who jump in to the ring to claim that Indians knew "all this, long ago, "western" science is finding this only now". Would they claim something similar now? Or, does the language of the poem, Urdu, come in the way?

We need not say TIME will tell, do we?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Humour with Strangers

Recently, I was in the queue at the cash counter. There was this guy with a fairly neat beard, holding a Philips trimmer. 

I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "you have done well" and pointed to his purchase. His eyes lit up and he said, "Oh! Is it good? Do you use it too?" before he had seen my practically bald head and clean shaven chin.

I smiled and pointed to my t-shirt that carried the Philips logo and said, "I work for Philips". 

We both had a good laugh.


Last Sunday, my son M wanted to eat chaat. When we were at the self-service counter a gentleman came to the counter and ordered a bhel puri. But the way he said it was bel. (ಬೇಲ್ ಕೊಡಿ)

I told him, "If you want bail, you should go to the court, not a chaat shop!"

Fortunately he had a good sense of humour. He guffawed and told his wife too and we all had a good laugh.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You are the Buddha

Here is a translation of a kannaDa poem I wrote. (Here)

If hirsute growth is the measure,
you are a dullard for sure

If saffron robes and religious marks are,
you are uneducated for sure

If you can't fool with eyes half open, weaving meaningless words
you are an idiot for sure

If you can't fleece and give nothing in return
you are poor for sure

Don't worry, if you look at all such charlatans
with skepticism, you are the Buddha, said Omar

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sir MV, Amartya Sen and Bharat Ratna

The cabinet decided to award the title Bharat Ratna to Sir M VIshweshwaraiah. Knowing his character, none in the cabinet wanted to write to him and seek his acceptance of the award. Nehru was up to the challenge and wrote.

True to his nature - straightforward, upright - Sir MV replied that he is ready to accept the award only if it did not rob him of the freedom to criticize his (Nehru's) government if the need arose. Nehru wrote back that it was precisely for this that he was being awarded the Bharat Ratna.

This is a long story in short.

Nehru did not place the condition that Sir MV could comment only when his opinion was solicited. He did not stipulate: "Don't foist your UNSOLICITED opinion on the nation".

Sen's opinion, right or wrong, needs to be foisted on the country. This is the "job" (unpaid) of an intellectual. If the nation has any Sen_se, it will listen. And think.

I can anticipate a retort that Sen is no Sir MV. Perhaps. If so, the government should have had enough sense not to anoint him the Bharat Ratna.

Merrily go on Bharat Ratna Sen. Even if you get senile and speak nonsense there is a distinct possibility that you make more sense then than others who are supposed to be sound of mind.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ravi Shankar – A Tribute

It was in the early seventies. I was in Mysore – studying Engineering. Ravishankar was billed to perform in Bangalore. The cheapest ticket was a whopping ten rupees. I asked my father if I could go to Bangalore and attend the concert. The answer was a no, we could not afford it. It was also a matter of principle – we should not spend that kind of money on entertainment.
I was crestfallen but there ended the matter.

In 1980 I was working in Bombay and there was this all night concert at the St Xavier’s college with N Rajam and Sangeetha concert followed by Ravishankar. I bought a ticket, weeks ahead, and went and listened to him. When he came on the stage the organisers announced that he was to receive the Padmabhushan. An electric moment. The audience cheered and clapped and whistled for minutes. He was very gracious and he had this magical quality that created excitement wherever he went.

The story that I want to remember is what I heard from someone. He was there when this happened. All my facts may be wrong but the story is true or accurate.

There was this all night concert in the race course in Calcutta. Ravishankar’s was the second concert and the first one was by a great artist but, with a drinking problem. He was half an hour or more late coming to the stage. The audience was getting restive. Finally when he was escorted to the stage, he was weaving and staggering. He could hardly sit and play his instrument. There were loud protests and there were signs of things turning violent. Ravishankar came on stage with his accompanists and the first artist was taken off the stage. He was at the venue far earlier than his time – he wanted to listen to the first concert. His tastes were eclectic.

Ravishankar was all grace. He requested the audience to quieten and they did. He said something like, “The man who has just gone off the stage is a real genius with prodigious talent and accomplishment. Such geniuses sometimes have problems and we should ignore that. When they do play, they play like no one else can. We should take that and leave the rest. I know that you have come here to listen to good music. In his place, I will play for you and hope I can compensate in some measure.”

He went on to play through the previous artist’s time and his own too.

A tribute to Ravishankar by my friend Anwar - a brilliant artist.

That defines Ravishankar like nothing else can. He was a lover of music and musicians and a phenomenal, almost unparalleled, man and musician himself.

There is another incident that gives one a glimpse of the man. He was playing in Dharwar and the venue was close to the railway track. As he was playing, a train approached and blew the whistle. The listeners were disturbed by this harsh intrusion. Not so, Ravishankar. He just pulled the string hard and reached the note of the whistle and thereby included that into the raga he was playing. What could have been, actually was, a harsh intrusion was converted into something the audience cheered!

Now my own pigment liner line drawing of the man.