Saturday, September 30, 2006

Divas and Enigmas

I've always admired the enigmatic, no matter how dark or imperfect . To be like the sphinx that speaks in obstruse tongues and belies all semblance of sanity is only a divine gift. The esoteric set of human beings that can safely be labelled 'enigmatic' also include divas. My favourite among them is Garbo(Greta Garbo, the classic actress).
Contrary to popular belief, Garbo never said 'I wont to be alone'. She said, 'I want to be left alone'. The engimatic shield attributed words to the core! Unlike other actresses of the silent era, Garbo's craft was bereft of the histronics that were the norm of the day. She spoke of epic suffering with a single frown and quiet suspicion with the raise of an eyebrow. Ironically, the enigma spilled over to the screen and mingled, almost freely, with the character. The enigma lives on beyond her death. She may have left behind letters, and possibly an unpublished autobiography, but the world still doesn't know who she is.
Another favourite enigma that I cannot get over is the one who said, "When I retire I shall miss the green of the field". I leave it to my readers to figure out whom I'm referring to. I don't think the enigmatic don't choose to be 'mysterious'. The mystery is simply attributed, sometimes in the most mythical sense, by those around them. El Diva here, would love to be an enigma for selfish reasons, but that's another story left to the confines of a future entry.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Reincarnition : New Name, Same Blog

For the lack of activity on this blog ,and keeping with the spirit of cheap publicity gimmicks that seem so popular this century, I decided to change the name of the blog. A blog is like a portrait, as long as it is not political or scientific or scathing with propaganda. Since this one has a wonderful editor ,who doesn't buy popular mass media concepts such as 'embedded journalism' , 'censorship for adults' and other things alike, the readers of the blog risk being subject to dramatic attacks of nomenclature that the blogger/editor deems appropriate at the given period of time.
Hence, the name change. The inconvenience is regretted yet again, but change is inevitable.

ps: If you don't like the name, go ahead and make your point. Also, maybe I should turn this into a propaganda blog.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Life in the 'Developing' World

I live in India, the only place of such paradoxical existence. I do not have the heart to call my existence 'third world' even though for most of the demographic, life in India is 'third world' .

For instance, most Indians don't know the concept of social security. We simply don't have it! At the same time, we have affordable domestic help. Apparently India was ranked 7th in the list of the world's most corrupt nations , yet we take pride in referring to ourselves as 'virtuous human beings living by Gandhian principles'. We claim that racism doesn't exist, but we want our spouses to be 'fair and gorgeous' (there is now a fairness cream for men as well). We are truly democratic; every rule can be twisted, perverted, broken and elongated to suit the peeves of more than a billion individuals. It makes one wonder what such contradiction exacts from the human spirit.

Nothing apparently! It only blesses us with a sense of humour and one hell of an immune system. Where else, on this earth, can one annoy his/her neighbours with his/her sheer presence and still be dead on record? Only in the developing world. It's better than 'the simple life' !

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Happened to Good Writing?

Call me old fashioned if you must, but seriously, what happened to good writing? I'm not talking of Elizabethian verse or Victorian verbosity or political prolixity from the likes of Churchill. I mean elegant prose that flows naturally straight from the writer's mind. The kind reminescent of Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Morrison and Buck. What happened to writers who could paint pictures , more enthralling than a digitally enhanced cinematic masterpiece, with words as commonplace as 'bread and butter' ?
In earlier entries I mentioned something about saying less through words and more through images. Apparently, Steinbeck had no need for anything more tangible than his imagination, memories and a few inputs from historical sources when he wrote 'East of Eden'. The California valley breathes with life , deeper and deeper as the pages turn. Marquez's Macondo in 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' belies the hard hitting fact that it is indeed a fictitious town.
The haunting picture of a ghetto in Toni Morrison's 'Love' and the moving preface are a far cry from the expletive ridden 'masterpieces' of more 'progressive' writers. The more recent event of the plagarism of chick-lit, has brought to light the sheer derth of good writing.
The lack of good writing is, in my opinion, has nothing to do with living in the world of instant noodles. It only reflects the degradation of human beings into machines. If you still think I'm old fashioned chew on this : in probably a decade or two, the most torrid 'Mills and Boon' novel (with and without euphemisms) will be laden with the romanticism of an instructional manual for a home security system. When that happens, call me, we might just get along !

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Moon Woman

Another exhibit for the shrine of the abstract. This one is by Jackson Pollock. I became interested in Pollock's work after I saw the biopic titled 'Pollock' starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Ed Harris held his own throughout the entire film, and he wasn't upstaged by the larger than life character of the artist.

I was quite taken by the lack of convention in Pollock's approach to art. Especially the fact that he rarely kept the canvas upright. He prefered to keep it on the floor. After some time, he stopped using brushes and started pouring paint all over the canvas. He never seemed to start with a particular subject in mind. Towards the end, the work would look like a tormented mess of colour and shapes that seemed to lack meaning. Yet, paradoxically, his work speaks of the silent subconscious and has some kind of pattern that eventually lends it structure.

The picture I've put here, appears less torrential than the other works. It's called 'The Moon Woman'. It is said that Pollock was influenced by native American art and that this piece symbolizes the sacred feminine. I've always wondered if art imitates life or if it's the other way round. For Pollock, art came from within, from the life he wasn't aware of. I'm still amazed! What if all the people of the world painted with their eyes closed? Morbid things would come to life, I suppose.

Monday, September 11, 2006

La La Language Tools

I adore google! It is my shrine, my meditation space and much more. It gave me the fastest search engine, the slowest email software and one quirky social network(orkut). Of late, I've become obsessed with being multilingual. (I suppose the plethora of Portugese posts in Orkut has something to do with it.) I have been picking up bits and pieces of French on the internet. My teacher? The innovative language translation tools created , so aptly, by the ever considerate folks at Google.
I had a vague idea on how French greetings were supposed to sound. I also knew how to count upto 10 in French, and also how to tell people my name. I left the rest to the language tools. However, and I say this with an unrealistic swelling pride, the first 'meaningful' French sentence I learnt was , 'Je pense donc je suis'. ( 'I think therefore I am' - Rene Descartes ) The language tools very diligently interpreted the sentence word by word to 'I think thus I am'. Unfortunately, for folks who don't take software with buckets of salt, language tools may be rather inappropriate.
Let's assume that I want to translate a sentence originally in English to French. I don't anticipate any trouble there, as the user interface is friendly enough. The translated sentence appears in the little box, and the user can read it out loud (assuming that the user has an idea of the phonetics of each language) . Next, let's assume that the user wants to translate the new sentence back to its original form (ie. in the language it was written in to start with). Surprise! The sentence you start with needn't be the one you end with. La La Language tools have goofed (or maybe I should say gaffed, some of the translations are rather embarrassing).
I am glad I didn't make my acquaintance with the shortcomings of language tools the hard way. Some perceptive individuals made it known in orkut. In an attempt to be less critical, the language tools are not meant to replace human interpreters. They are meant to give linguistically challenged folks a broad idea of the possible meaning of words written in an alien language. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Touche? You decide.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Le Apologie

The title may be in French, but the rest of the blog is still in English . I admit that despite being 'well known' for my patience, prudence and a whole lot of other things, I don't have the time to actually edit my blog entries. I make each entry hurriedly, without looking at the keys. I merely watch the screen to check if what I'm thinking is the same as what goes up there. I am only human; therefore I am prone to error. The perceptive reader shall find numerous typos, grammatical flaws and several instances of apostrophe abuse in the blog. The errors are neither intentional nor an outcome of ignorance. English is my first language and I mostly think, write and converse in English. So, if you are a teacher of English grammar, please forgive the minor(and not so minor) bloopers in my blog. The inconvenience is deeply regretted.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The World Outside the Blog

Keeping with the spirit of saying more through pictures instead of words, I will give you a peek into what lies outside my window. I sit cooped up in an intimate little room with windows on both sides. When my eyes don't feast on the words that come flying out of minute keystrokes, they look outside to check if the world still looks the same. It all depends on what I choose to see. The window on my right has nothing worth looking at except for the sun caressed leaves of coconut trees. The view on the left is more inviting though. When I'm at my lethargic best, I just have to raise my head for the view of the apartment building up front. It looks like almost any typical apartment building in India, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, with clothes hanging on lines and doors closed. The building is fairly new but almost dilapidated in appearance. Still, there is a charm that comes from wondering what it is like to live someone else's life for a day. I find myself spending precious time looking out and trying to figure out the inhabitants of that building.

If I take a little more trouble to actually walk over to the window and gaze down, I can see my mother's garden. It is in all fairness a labour of love. The plants are an interesting assortment of tropical specimens and hybrids. They were mostly picked up at flower shows, some others at parks and the hybrids came in packets. The hues look richer and more vivid after the rain. It's almost as though they are reincarnated.

The world that maketh the blog is as minscule as the one outside my window. It sits still as a microcosm, unaltered , unflinching and untouched. Somewhere in the distance, I can hear music playing. If I am fortunate I might evesdrop on the strains of a neigbourly spat. The world that is the microcosm of my blog, stands still as it has all this time. I am still waiting for it to move....

Friday, September 08, 2006

Alone All The Way? An Attempt at Reinvention.

I took a couple of pictures and thought that since I don't have enough matter in my brain to fill this space. I will use pictures instead. Feel free to rave about my photography skills!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Rant....

Lie still in the wake of day,
Don't bother to stare.
Your life is like a mound of clay,
Delicate like a thinning strand of hair.
Stop, breathe, feel
Till the lines disappear.
All that is left is surreal
Twisting out of shape in the open clear.
Your life is too distant, too vague..
It needs no words, no deed.
Stop before your thougts plague
The beginning of life's humble need.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What Will Become of This?

Yesterday I came across an 'award winning blog' , apparently it gets 3000 hits each day, the blogger was fired from work and even made a T.V. appearance about it. The blog was impressive. She makes the most trivial and banal issues sound like a page out of a coffee table book titled 'The Good Life'.
I look through my profile on blogger and I see a meagre 154 profile views to date! Forget the numbers for now. A blog that gets a whopping total of 154 profile views since the day of its conception will probably not be sorely missed following its demise. Yes, it is the hard hitting truth. The world won't change if a blog closes down, and I have to accept that truth now. Still there is an undeniable streak of narcissism that won't allow me to delete this blog (it will remain on the server for the CIA to read even if I don't intentionally target bored CIA employees). 'How can you delete your blog?' The words keep ringing in my head each time I contemplate deleting one of them . Maybe I am a young, attention seeking, naivette with a misplaced alter ego but I can't get myself to touch the delete button. I simply can't do it! I can give the blog a slow death and allow blogger to get rid of it without considerable fanfare, but I can't bring myself to exterminate anything right now!
So, what becomes of all this? I think I knew the answer all along, I just wanted to fill up some of that empty space on the blog.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What Maketh A Blog?

What makes a great blog? (I have been thinking about this a great deal irrespective of my mother's remarks on bloggers and their existential needs.) I have been doing a lot of reading. I have been skimming the internet to find what I would call a blog with real class.
I wish I could ignore the aspect of presentation. (Never judge a blog by it's presentation?) Nevertheless, blogs lacking presentation can be painful to read. I look for blogs that have are articulate and witty. On the other hand, a brilliant photographic blog wouldn't need verbosity would it? I love blogs that are either utterly veracious or those that are connivingly deceptive. (I still haven't found one of the latter type.)
To me, a great blog is one that holds the reader in conversation with the person behind the bits and nibbles strewn across the screen, coming together to make sense.It doesn't necessarily have to make it to the list of bloggers 'blogs of note'. All that really matters is intent.