Wednesday, November 30, 2005

piss off if you're here to raise the dead, bono!

Do you really not care? Did you start the day out thinking you would try and be more interested and accepting of the world in all its vagaries? Did you see the NYTimes quote of the day and, in outrage, begin an eloquent blog on how Mr. Bush makes the mothers of Sparta sound like divinely inspired poets, only to leave it all unsaid because there really are so many sides to the issue and you can't disrespect human life (even if you can human intelligence)? Have you and romance - the honest-to-goodness sort - been on unspeaking terms for the last several years because you can't be bothered to invest in yet another human being who, from the very outset, is not anything like the person you expected to get special with in your maiden dreams and doesn't particularly promise to shape up like one? Is Bono's earnest pomposity getting on your nerves even though you love U2 with every particle of your soul? Are you listening to Tan Dun and Yo-yo Ma prostituting themselves on the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack instead? Have you left unread a book all the people you respect raved about because you couldn't get past the tedium of the first two pages? Are you apathetic, agnostic, disgruntled, dispassionate or just bone-tired today?

Party on my blog. Bring food of choice, rum's on me.

Endnote to amuse me anyway: I love rum even though I don't drink alcohol except in a medical way - and I've done a fair bit of that this past month. First, it tastes great. Second, it reminds me of Johnny Depp in his finest hour in that work of inspired genius, Pirates of the Caribbean: "BUT WHERE HAS ALL THE RUM GONE?"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

pretty boys! no, really, look!

They come just a bit further down but this is totally about them, although I am once again resisting impulses to whine because hello, did I or did I not just suffer a malaria relapse? It was like the ghost of Cathy coming back to tap on the windows of that wretched house on the moor!

Pretty Boys #1: But then I spent all of today listening to rowr macho-boy American blues of old, mostly Elvis Presley (incidentally, isn't Lilo and Stitch such a cool film?) and Ray Charles and B.B. King. No crackwhore Beatles or masochistic, repressed Dylans or Cohens for me! I want a hunk'a hunk'a burnin' love!

Ignore that if it gave you ideas. Now, two positively ravishing links for the perusal of dear readers.

Pretty Boys #2: America asks; cute, or British? The Guardian reprints from an American newspaper, funnily enough (I think it must amuse them to do that sometimes too) about how the British accent holds such appeal for women that they, unwilling to so much as look at men of their own nations, suddenly turn to simpering totty upon hearing it. I held my stomach laughing as I read this. "Decades of BBC and English lit classes have genetically programmed the American female to believe the British are culturally superior beings, skipping around Oxford making puns with their Byron under one arm and a pot of marmalade under the other. This isn't always true, of course - at least according to The Full Monty. Apparently England is also full of working-class people who watch telly and prevail against overwhelming odds."

For every one of my friends who have been reduced to jelly by accents ranging from that of Colin Firth to that, regrettably, of Robbie Williams. Your name is legion.

On a personal note, I much prefer Jeremy Northam to Mr. Firth. Here he is with Jennifer Ehle in Possession, an utter travesty of cinema, the art of adapatation and the very fine novel by A S Byatt. He's gorgeous. And so, of course, is Rufus Sewell. And James Purefoy. But I'm not going to post pictures of them. I'm not that shallow.

Actually I totally am. But interested people can just go Google or something, I'm too lazy.

~Ugly Boy Interlude~

On a slightly different note, but still on the British page (not the one Oscar Wilde was getting to the bottom of, naturlich), is Prisoner of Narnia, in the New Yorker, pointed out by the ever-bright Furius today. A long, fantastic exploration of Lewis' motivations, his imagination, his sex life (*everyone spontaneously leaves post unread and clicks on link!*) and the way he's perceived on both sides of the pond. I think this is a must-read even for people who've never read Lewis and/or are firmly ensconced in the Philip Pullman camp. Lewis didn't suffer from many of the problems that Tolkien did. Quote: "[JRRT was someone] whose views on teaching English were even more severe than Lewis’s: Tolkien thought that literature ended at 1100."

He can appreciate Milton, but he falls into the same Puritan trap of, as Pullman puts it, "Death is better than life; boys are better than girls; light-coloured people are better than dark-coloured people; and so on." Now, I had problems with His Dark Materials too, especially the middle bits of The Amber Spyglass where PP becomes positively Rowlingesque in his harping on motherly virtue and whatnot - although he more than makes up for it with the ending - but it's obvious that anyone working on the basic principles of logic will concur with this.


Pretty Boys #3: And speaking of Rowling, I went to see HP and the Goblet of Fire in spite of the m-thing and it was IMAX (iMax?) and popcorn yey, but I stopped pretending to pay attention to anything and just concetrated on the pretty, pretty boys (that Harry does NOT call friends. Why are the best-looking men always the Slytherins in the HP films?). Jason Isaacs and Alan Rickman and the ever-eyeable Draco boybandb0i, and Yum Krum! Although I must allow that they were almost balanced out by Cedric 'if-he-can't-do-it-Harry-can' Diggory on the side of Good. Dumbledore was just fugly.

AND RALPHIEMORT. OMGWTFMWMFPH. *grooves to the 'guess who's back, back again, voldie's back' evil white rap thang* Owning the souls of discerning filmgoers everywhere - even without a nose.

current musix and pretty boy #4: rufus wainwright - 14th street.

Ha. I am totally back with mah sissy love.

Monday, November 21, 2005

slings, arrows, outrageous fortune lalala.

I could say many things today. I could inform the passing reader that I possess a "stayin' alive" tee-shirt especially for Mondays; I could snark about how it does not significantly improve the quality of said days; I could moan about how the already limited market for foreign languages in Hyderabad, even the Indo-European sort with Latin scripts seems, to add insult to unparalleled injury, to be chronologically inflexible. How can I take Spanish at six in the morning when autorickshaw drivers at large are out to cheat me of my money and/or my virtue? How can I take German at six in the evening when I'm working at the time? How can there be no weekend classes? I mean, it's enough of a compromise to eschew long-cherished desires to study Ancient Greek (imagine Homer in the original!) or Hebrew (much of the Old Testament in the original!) or Sanksrit (cultural oppression in its purest form!) because they aren't practical enough. How much more practical can you get than German?

(Naturally no attempt to combine desire and compromise in the convenient form of Yiddish study exists in this city - one person so far claims to have detected a synagogue somewhere about - and apparently there is a Parsi community here too, but of course Avesta is out of the question.)

Goal to gain working knowledge of Telugu by the end of the year remains rock-steady, although as December approaches I see I will have to be more proactive than provoking my stroppy maidservant (sneakily trying to teach her Hindi all the while).

I could of course complain about all of this. But I won't. Instead I reproduce in this blog a poem introduced to me long ago by Lindsey, that I forgot about and stumbled upon again today, standing still (figuratively) with thumping heart and thrilling pulses, face framed against the rail, longing to get between the lines.

Come. And Be My Baby
by Maya Angelou

The highway is full of big cars
going nowhere fast
And folks is smoking anything that’ll burn
Some people wrap their lives around a cocktail
And you sit wondering
where you’re going to turn
I got it.
Come. And be my baby.

Some prophets say the world is gonna end
But others say we've got a week or two
The paper is full of every kind of blooming horror
And you sit wondering
what you’re gonna do.
I got it.
Come. And be my baby.

If sixteen year olds were introduced to poetry instead of grunge they would all have this poem on their tee-shirts instead of despairing suicidal grunge! (Not that there is no appropriate time and place for such things. Except for Pearl Jam, ick.)

Congratulations to you, L, on the close of some tough but very successful exams, to say nothing of the rear-admiral iPod and the vacation in Paris you are currently on. (item: I have already studied French so there is no point in me taking weekend classes at the local Alliance.) And congratulations to Kaushik, on surviving one of the world's toughest exams. Joy! To the world.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

spoiler? i think not!


From today's edition of the New York Times:

As good as these actors are, nothing prepares you for the malevolent force that is Lord Voldemort and the brilliance of the actor playing him, Ralph Fiennes. Dressed in a flowing black robe that seems to float off his body rather than hang, Mr. Fiennes moves with lissome grace, his smooth white head bobbing like a cork on a sea, his fluttery hands and feet as pale and bright as beacons. For years, the movies have tried to transform this delicate beauty into a heartthrob, but as "Schindler's List" proved, Mr. Fiennes is an actor for whom a walk on the darker side is not just a pleasure, but liberation. His Voldemort may be the greatest screen performance ever delivered without the benefit of a nose; certainly it's a performance of sublime villainy.

He's just - cool.

current musix - ost harry potter - hedwig's theme

oh, endnote: Apparently Business World manufactured a quote by me. I do not remember giving them any remarks! But then, how did they know me and what I was doing last year?

Things are strange.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

wednesday afternoon 3 p.m.

I spent the morning listening to Pandit Jasraj – music sharing is one of the great advantages of the corporate workplace – and was completely transported back to the morning concert at Janfest four years ago that I attended with Bob. She had to wrap me up in a silk saree at six a.m., after we had spent a sleepless night out on Marine Drive, since I was some kind of PR minion in the great St. Xaviers’ tradition for Janfest (which for those not in the know is Xaviers’ annual classical music festival and totally rocks the socks off other festivals. In some ways.) And he was absolutely insufferable, of course, but he sang that song, the one Times Music always advertises on its Jasraj CDs, and I’ve totally forgotten the name, but it was a kirtan and not a raag proper, and I’m dying to recall which one it was. Does anyone remember? Kate, Kausha, you were there – anyone else?

I can’t believe I’m mentioning the Times more than once in a single blog in a non-disparaging sense, but I miss the Mumbai edition more than ever. It used to make me feel clever in the mornings. Furthermore, every Mumbai newspaper is covering the Abu Salem trial in morbid detail, and The Hindu won’t say much more on the subject than ‘Oh, hey, Monica Bedi’s in Hyderabad! She likes biryani and the Volkswagen fraudster. Oh, and her dude’s still being grilled by the CBI.’ On page eight in a single column. (Although the biryani story made it to page one. Yes, in The Hindu. I kid no one.) It’s strange but it’s true: I want to hold the Mumbai ToI (and of course the Mumbai Mirror) in my hands once again.

The area in Worli where my father grew up was pretty badly affected by the ’92 riots. When we went to the passport office this July he insisted on walking me across the street from Century Bazaar and the shops from which he’d bought school stationery and groceries for his mum and ice-cream, and while you’d only expect any place in this city to change face completely in two and a half decades, it wasn’t really with equanimity that we met places and people he didn’t recognize because the familiar things had been bombed or burnt away.

I don’t know what it means to have Abu Salem in the clink. There’s no meeting ground between what will happen to him and what happened to, say, the people in Honesty CafĂ© in my dad’s neighbourhood. Who that lost anything in the riots is going to think they’ll be repaid by this trial? But the law must take its course. Well, if there’s so much as one member of the populace to whom this guy getting in trouble makes a difference.

current musix: pandit jasraj - raag marwa

Monday, November 14, 2005

a scheme is not a vision/you never have been tempted

So I'm back inland and back at work - although the amounts I've been able to complete on day 1 seem so far to have been so negligible as to be non-existent. Really. I might as well have stayed back in Bombay.

< / monday snark >

Now, because I notice blogs with much higher readership than this uploading music for the taking, I decided to be rash and offer one of my favourites, The Song Of Isaac. (Read lyrics here.) Originally by – who else – Leonard Cohen, it comes from one of my favourite albums - a multilingual, cross-genre record of protest song covers by Mirah and the Black Cat Orchestra. (Buying info here). I love good covers. I like Leonard Cohen too, a whole whole lot. Although Rufus Wainwright beats him out in the affection stakes because of his unutterably gorgeous voice and ‘I’m-just-one-of-the-girls’ approach. And he can be so silly in a magnificent, baroque way. Where beauty is existence, to sing about Greece completely innocent of irony when even in their golden age of democracy and theatre Athenians were allowed to take twelve-year old boys as sex slaves! Then he goes and redeems himself with one way is Rome and the other way is Mecca/on either side, on either side/of our motorbike, which is just marvellously self-indulgent and in such a different way from Cohen.

current musix: rufus wainwright – go or go ahead.

but oh medusa/kiss me and crucify/this unholy notion of/the mythic powers of love/look in her eyes … forget about/the ones that are crying.

Sigh. Popera at its very pinnacle.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

all answers are a form of death

John Fowles, the novelist who died on Saturday aged 79, combined a rare narrative instinct with a scholar's interest in literary form; as a result he enjoyed the unusual distinction of both professorial attention and enormous sales.

The Telegraph's obituary.

Who is Sarah? From what shadows does she come?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

"i AM malaria."

Alack-a-day. In spite of a week in a hospital run by kindly Bengali monks the mysterious 'evening fever' persists - although I am now back in the far more cheerful and considerably better-smelling environs of home. Oh, my vibrant, bouncy, postmodern American employers! I fear you shall have to book me into Haworth Parsonage if this state of affairs continues. For the Ring, it cooleth, and seemeth to shrink even as I hold it on mine palm! (Come on - you know Emily would have written that if she'd thought of it. The First and Second Ages of Middle Earth are more Brontesque than - than - Bramwell.)

But for those concerned I am much improved from this time last week, when I was recovering from what my parents failed to identify as a visitation from Sauron (a la P. Jackson, naturellement) in the form of an evil drug reaction. I suspect the fever may just be a side effect of prolonged exposure to bloody Natwar Singh on every bloody news channel on bloody TV. Thug. (Heh. That's the way people look at me and say 'switt girl'.) Wish Vikram Seth was in place of Shashi Tharoor in the UN. Scratch, actually, wish he was head of everything ever anywhere. The world would be beautiful!

Anyway, I return to my long trudge on the road to recovery. I think I'm in Mumbai for forseeable (read next few days) future. Belated Eid and Diwali greetings to everyone.

Important endnote: I absolutely love my girlfriends. They're the best in the whole world and I will fight anyone on that.

My boyfriends are lovely too. :)