Thus Spake KJ

Composed of binaries and never ending contradictions, intensely moody, stubborn, firefighter, genius manque, identity hunter on the prowl for stimuli, occasionally given to verbal diarrhoea

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Questions, questions

I have drunk the cup of hemlock and I have traversed the sands of time.
I have caressed the depths of the sea with my feet and felt the warmth of the sky behind my ears.
I have been to places light years away. I have been to places eons inside.
I am the past, the present and the future.
I am everybody and nobody.
And I ponder the eternal question.

Do contact lens wearers go to heaven?

Uh, Post?

We have the same conversations over and over again. Both of us still pretend to not know any of the words.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Memory grips me by the throat
As I look upon that tree that never
Made for a perfect photograph.

Bouquets, brickbats all welcome. On second thoughts, who am I kidding? Who reads this blog?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Guten Tag

In another attempt to shake me out of my inertia and get me to update my blog, Ms Simi Hegde has tagged me (ho, hum). So here goes nothing

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4
“Some words are not given etymologies. These include trademarks, interjections, words derived from geographic entries, or from names of persons mentioned in the definition, and ethnic names that are the English equivalents of a group's own name for itself.” - Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.
I did. And since I sit next to the frequently used kitchen door, I am now typing with only one hand

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
'Timon and Pumbaa' last night

4. Without looking, guess what time it is?
Lunchtime, as my tummy tells me.

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?
1.01 p.m.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Someone yelling at someone else in the office, the sound of me thinking, the drone of the AC, my heartbeat, my tummy rumbling, the sound of the keyboard and the door closing

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Stepped out two minutes ago to take a call.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
The fan, while slouching in my seat

9. What are you wearing?
Someone wants to talk dirty, eh? I know where this question leads. Blue kurta, white salwar, kolhapuri chappals, watch, wristband, some jewellery, glasses

10. Did you dream last night?
Yup. Dreamt that ma was trying to wake me up. Turns out, I wasn't dreaming

11. When did you last laugh?
Thirty seconds ago, while editing my own story

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Display boards with past issues of the magazine

13. Seen anything weird lately?
Apart from my face in the convex mirror of the auto, nope.

14. What do you think of this quiz?
Its not distracting me from the rumbles in my tummy

15. What is the last film you saw?
Requiem for a Dream

16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?
A long long trip around the world

17. Tell me something about you that i dunno.
I do actually have a spot on my right shoulder

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
I have a Miss Universe answer to this. I would want everyone to be a little more understanding

19. Do you like to dance?
Like hell

20. George bush.
Someone who is where he shouldn't be

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
Urja. Or maybe, Noor. One of the two for sure.

22. Imagine yout first child is a boy, what do you call him?
Can't decide on one

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?

24. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
Don't believe in God. Don't believe in an afterlife.

25. 4 people who must also do this meme in their journal.
I don't even know 4 people who blog. Much less those who will wanna do this

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ok this is what Abhijit Bhattacharya, journalist, CNN-IBN had to say in his blog, about women. Me thinks he shld have been an social anthropologist instead of being a journalist, since he understands women so well.

Thursday , April 20, 2006

We all must have heard of the saying "Behind every successful man, there is a
woman.". And there is tag to it too - "Behind every unsuccessful man, there are
two women.". So, if we go for statistical correlation - success has nothing to
do with women being there with men but failure surely has a strong correlation
to women.

Though often referred to as the "fairer sex" (note the pun),
women have not done much credible in the past centuries, as is usually potrayed.
And it is utter nonsense to believe that men have degraded the status of women
in the society. On the contrary, men, in fact, have toiled hard for the
emancipation of the "woman-kind".

Nature has been cruel (or just) on women too. God, at some
point of HIS creation-spree must have decided to act as a Capitalist and endow
men with power and women with things which have no distant relations,
whatsoever, with power. No wonder, Bill Gates was not born a woman. Neither were
Michael Schumacher or Mahatma Gandhi. (It is a serious nightmare even to
contemplate about them being born as women.).

A certain obsessed lady wrote to me lately saying how
attractive women are and that women are God's most beautiful creation. With due
respect to all Kournikovas and the Bipashas of the world, I think that most of
us would rather prefer to watch the first raindrops of the season disappear in
the sand or the dolphins dancing to symphony than watching malnourished and
"malfunctioned"(wardrobically!!!) women. Methinks, the word 'beautiful' loses
its meaning and essence the moment the word 'women' is pronounced after it. They
are just so oxymoronic.
Women have always been the reason for major fights
and disasters. If we regress the story of Mahabharta and analyze why the epic
fight was fought - we would easily find the reason to be Draupadi (a woman). Ram
fought Ravana for Sita (again, a woman). And we all know what Cleopatra, Helen
and Mata Hari have in common - they were all the reasons behind major historical
fights and wars. Taking a peek into literature - Catherine was the reason why
Heathcliff turned vengeful, Devdas became a deadman because of two women and how Humbert got wiped off because of Lolita. Moving on to films - Caprio dies to
save Winslet from drowning and Raj gets creamed up by Simran's father and his
goons only because he loves her. The examples are innumerable.I need not say

Liberalization. A mantra which women today chant every morning even before waking up. But liberalization from what or who? If women were emotionally and physically strong enough, then am sure they would not have been subjugated in the first place. And subjugation from whom? Men? And to help them out of their subjugation they seek men. That, people, is their game plan - make men fight amongst themselves and get ruined.

Some people love to name achievers. But just to refresh their memories - for every Aang Sang Soo Kyi there are tens of Subhash Boses; for every hundreds of JK Rowling there are hundreds of Paulo Coelhos; for every Marie Curie there are thousands of John Nashes; for every Chris Evert there are millions of Tiger Woods. And I presume that women are intelligent enough to comprehend the difference between one and a million.

If there is anything, which is more complex and complicated than a toad's anatomy - it is the mind of the woman. One moment they plant a peck on your cheek and the very next moment, you feel their knees crashing into your belly. I wrote this blog with a little fear in my mind. I wrote this without my girlfriend's knowledge (I do not need her; she needs me). No, I am not scared of her. Maybe after reading this article, she might kiss me on my cheek. It is the next moment that I fear!!

Ok this one is a comment i posted on his blog in response to the above trash.

I, like, totally agree with you dude, on this one. Things were so much better in the Neanderthal times, when cavemen could just lug their women on their backs and carry them wherever. If she didn't like it, you could, grunt and express your displeasure. If she still didn't like it, you always had the club.

And I don't even understand all their tirades about emancipation and
all that. I mean who cares? They can't even handle power. I mean look at Indira
Gandhi? What was all that nonsense about the emergency? She should have just
behaved like a proper woman of the house and let the men do all the talking. And
I am with you bro, when you silently thank Mr. G that Bill Gates weren't born
women. I mean look at Carly Fiorina of HP. She didn't even have the guts to take
on the all male board members of HP who decided to sack her. I mean how can
anyone stand a wimp like her? Glad even Mahatma Gandhi possessed the double X
chromosome. I mean who cares about the contributions of Sarojini Naidu, or
Kasturba Gandhi or Durga Bhabhi? They were like so marginal and expendable.

And what about all those epic battles that were fought for them? I mean, who cares if history considers the Pandavas and Menelaus (just for the record, Helen's jilted husband) foolish for having fought those battles? Who cares if everyone knows the
reason they fought those battles was to fight for their own 'honour' and not
their wives? Surely you can't take away a man's property and not expect him
to do anything about it? That would be so like a woman! For a man's gotta
do, what a man's gotta do.

And now for the gem! "That, people, is their game plan - make men fight amongst themselves and get ruined". You couldn't be more right. I mean look at all those Ekta Kapoor serials. Aint that proof enough of the ruthless machinations of these women? I think they should just stick to what they do best – kitchen politics, making babies, being sexual objects, gossiping and what have you.

I think you should, like, go back to the Neanderthal times. Because that's where you, truly belong. And be sure to do it before someone realises you are a worm. And that its time to make some wormicelli.

I still think this is some cheap CNN-IBN tactic to gauge the responses of people. But i still don't see an explanation on either his blog or the site.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Why the colour of FEMINISM is PURPLE

Reviewing The Color Purple, is a little like interviewing a celebrity. The reputation of the person precedes the person himself, leaving the interviewer nervous with anticipation. A thousand questions rush through your head, you keep second guessing and there is a considerable loss of your cognitive-conative abilities. Reading and reviewing the highly acclaimed and lauded The Color Purple has been an experience akin to the above. My heart is in my mouth as I write this, but I decide to take the plunge anyway.

Ok, what is the book about? At an overt level, the story of Celie, a black American girl in the South (where racism, by the way, is still extant). The introduction plunges you straight into Celie's life and the violence that she goes through, every single living day. Strangely, the violence being spoken about is not perpetrated by another community. Instead, it comes from within the community, indeed from within her home. Thirteen year old Celie, is raped repeatedly, by the man she calls 'father'; she even bears him two children who are cruelly taken away from her. Leading a life of utter drudgery and depravity, her cage is exchanged for another, when she is married off to a man, years older than her, who fancies her younger sister, Nettie. Incidentally, her husband, referred throughout the book as Mr. - (my guess is, this is an authorial stroke to derecognise the man, who derecognises all the women in his life. Or perchance, by not naming him till the very end, the author tries to paint every man with the same brush), agrees to marry Celie, only because a cow would be a part of her dowry. Celie's life seems to be a vicious circle of drudgery, derocgnition and disrespect until she meets her husband's part time mistress, Shug Avery. Shug Avery is representative of all that Celie isn't. Beautiful and talented, Shug Avery, in every sense a liberated woman, lives life by her own rules. After the initial friction, Shug Avery gives Celie the much required push, to take the reins of her life in her own hands. Eventually, Celie discovers the power of her own spirit, which liberates her from the shackles of her past and helps her reunite with her beloved family.

Yet the book is not the story of Celie. It gradually and seamlessly moves from the personal to the political. From the personal tragedy of Celie, the book marks a transition to the state of mankind in general. The book makes several damning statements in one go – against racism, against the status of women in general, against insularity and intense xenophobia and suspicion of one community for the 'other' (real or imagined).

The novel also marks a reclamation of African history. It attempts to, and successfully attempts to, contextualise black history right from the days of slave trade to the abolition of slavery in America. And minus all the glorification. Celie then, becomes a transcriber, a medium as well as a tool to accomplish this.

Where doe the merits of the book lie? In the reconstruction of Celie's world. The style is a first person account, through letters to God. The language, the grammar and the enunciation, is typical of an uneducated black American girl from the South. Yet the sheer simplicity of the directness is heart rending. The act of writing becomes both a revelation and a cathartic experience – for both Alice Walker as well as Celie.

The book also made out into a movie, has been lauded the world over by feminists, and places Walker amongst an illustrious array of black American women authors like Toni Morrisson and bell hooks. Surprisingly, the feminism of the book does not lie in the portrayal of the victimisation and brutalisation of Celie. It lies in the strength and never-say-die spirit of the other female characters in the book. In the power that Shug Avery wields over all the men in the book. In the almost militant individualism of Celie's step daughter-in-law, Sofia. In Nettie's stoic refusal to buckle under the pressure in the wilderness of Africa. It lies in all of this and the lesbian relationship between Shug Avery and Celie – probably the only relationship in the entire novel to have been formed out of love.

On hindsight, it is easy to say that some books are meant to be written. But some books just write themselves. Alice Walker, 'author and medium', of The Color Purple couldn't agree more.


Few books blow your mind away. Many others disappoint thoroughly. And then there are the middle-of-the-road ones that neither shock you out of your seats nor leave you entirely disgusted at having spent precious time on something entirely worthless. Anita Nair's Mistress belongs to the last category. The "searing new novel about art and adultery…" is decidedly impressive. But literary tour de force, it is not.

The novel brings into play, several themes apart from art and adultery. Issues of rooted ness and rootless ness, the orientalisation of Kerala, the excitement of new found love and the ennui of conventional relationships, the squalor and ugliness of life, abuse, dashed hopes, dark family secrets haunting you later in life…everything an Indian writer in English, worth her/his salt, must talk about. At a superficial level it is one man's (Chris) search for his true paternity, which makes him seek out Koman, illustrious Kathakali dancer and Radha's uncle. Chris comes to Kerala on the pretext of writing a travel book, which will include the life story of Koman, hoping that in the course of his story, Koman will reveal himself to be Chris' father. Radha and Chris are soon besotted with each other and embark on a torrid love affair, much to the grimace of Shyam, Radha's husband. As Chris draws out Uncle's life story, he spins one of his own, with Radha and Shyam in tow. Their lives spin so out of control, that in the end the only way, Radha can bring some semblance of order into her life, is by taking flight, while Shyam is put out to pasture.

Issues of identity and self definition remain uppermost in the novel. For Koman, whose mother's Muslim past is at odds with his father's Hindu present, the only way to define himself is through his art. Not surprisingly, he can be himself only when he is playing someone else. Radha on the other hand, prefers to fashion herself as the wronged one. Her perennial self victimization leads her to constantly wallow in her self pity. She keeps blundering from one thing to the other, sometimes playing the socialist wife-of-the-master for her husband's workers, to the dutiful housewife, in the process failing miserably. Even her affair with Chris, seems less like a "shrugging off of ennui" and more like an attempt to validate her existence. Shyam, though comfortable with his sometimes boorish and unapologetically materialistic behaviour, never quite fits into Radha's upper class hoity toity world. Just the way, Saadiya, Koman's mother, can never fit into Sethu's part Hindu, part Christian world, away from her cloistered Muslim existence. So much so, that death seems to be the only escape from her identity neurosis. Chris too like his mother Angela before him comes to India, to 'discover' himself and his identity.

However, the most important theme that the novel dwells on is the idea of art, and its importance in the contemporary world. Is the value of art, indeed of the artist itself, measurable in terms awards and recognition? Is art an escape from reality and a way to accord one selfhood? The book doesn't stop here. It goes ahead and questions the elitism associated with art. Through the figure of Aashan, Koman's teacher, Nair damns the aura of exclusivity and inscrutability that artists tend to build around themselves. Nair subtly offers a justification for the commercialization of art. It is indeed impossible for an artist to cling to his art's purity on an empty stomach. She also, simultaneously, indicts fake connoisseurs, for whom art is the surest way to get a picture on page three, as well as those who think that art appreciation is the preserve of the intelligentsia, who have nothing to do with the material world.

Nair tells her story wonderfully well. The story begins in medias res. And unfolds slowly. The text has multiple narrators, apart from the omniscient one, each of whom reveal themselves infinitely more than the characters in their story. The technique is reminiscent of Tagore's Ghare Baire where there is interplay of several narratorial voices. Each chapter in the book is preceded by a discursive piece on one of the Rasas, from the Navarasas. Each of the Rasas is indicative of what is to follow in the chapter.

Disappointments? There are a few including the characterization of Chris. The blurb sets your expectations differently and leads you to believe that the narrative is about Chris. It is just we don't see enough of him. And whatever little we do, he reveals himself to be a one-dimensional cardboard figure. Nair's language too falters in places. Phrases like "her flame fanned her fire" makes you wonder if you are reading a two bit Mills and Boon novel. One also wishes Nair had dwelt a little more on her central theme.

Last word about the title. Nair exploits the metaphor of "mistress" very well. At the superficial level, the novel is full of enough illicit relationships to justify the title, yet the real relationship is between Koman and his art. Even though, the narrative says, at one instance, that "art is indeed, a jealous mistress", it validates just the opposite – that the artist in fact, the mistress of her/his art.


Gacela del amore desperado

the night does not wish to come
so that you can not come
and i can not go
but you will come
with your tongue burnt by the salt rain.
the day does not wish to come
so that you can not come
and i can not come
and i can not go
but i will come
thru the muddy waters of darkness.
neither night nor day wishes to come
so that i may die for you
and you
die for me.