Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It Happens Only in India: Part II

Ever heard of high voltage transformers being desecrated by public transport vehicles? Neither had I! At least not untill I witnessed such a spectacle.

It happened yesterday. I had a test at 9 in the morning, so I was at my wits end, desperately trying to preserve every last bit of my carefully crafted calm and placid facade. I tried not to look at the watch every five seconds, and I tried even harder not to grimmace when the driver of that fatal bus decided to take a detour from the regular route. The bus entered a narrow street somewhere in the middle of the highway. There were tiny houses lining either side of the claustrophobic lane that appeared to take a sharp bend at the drop of a hat. To make matters worse, there were parked vehicles lining the street. Nevertheless, the driver (probably thinking it was the Grand Prix circuit of Monte Carlo) manouvered almost effortlessly past each swerve and bend. There were fifteen minutes left, I was sure I would make it on time, at least till we reached a level crossing and had to wait for a goods train to trudge along.

I noticed that the bus was in a precarious position. To the right there were other vehicles and pedestrians and to the left was the wretched high voltage transformer. The bus was at an angle, its rear end alarmingly close to the transformer. Seconds later there was an enormous thud that confirmed my worst nightmare. The bus had collided with the insulation rod of the transformer. (Almost instantly my mind conjured up stories of how thousands of people die of electrocution in India.) The flimsy rod swayed to and fro, the passengers stared in horror and several passers by just stared ! In his futile attempts to extricate the bus, the driver reversed, only to hit the damn rod again. People had started muttering about how they were already late for work and how the dangerous the whole thing was.

To make matters worse, there was an accumulation of traffic at the junction. A few other bus drivers stopped to give the bus driver some kind of advice. Our driver was standing outside, fidgeting bemusedly with his hair, while I nearly haemorraged with despair. Some of my classmates who were on the same bus, decided they had enough. We took an autorickshaw, a form of public transport more vile than the bus. The driver proclaimed (like Marie Antoinette) that he wouldn't go for anything less than double the cost. We grudgingly obliged and reached college a good five minutes before the test.

So tell me children does the story have a moral?
Sure does! Always get your priorities straight. Choose life over punctuality, its the fashionable thing to do.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Separation Anxiety

After two days devoid of blogging and after much consideration and reflection, I have come to the following conclusions:

I am not really a diva, but I want to be remembered as one.

I thought I would make a tongue in cheek entry about the Electra complex, after having read about it in Wiki. I thought I would joke about the obsession of early psychologists with things of a particularly explicit nature. My Achilles heel turns out to be my obsession with the hidden 'artistic' value of things thus leading to the inability to make tongue in cheek jokes.

I am amazed by Hieronymus Bosch. A diletantte might mistake the cursed medival obsession with sin for 20th century Surrealism. Yet, despite what I may think rationally, I have a morbid fear of this piece by Bosch.



The Hell Part from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'

According to one of the laws of thermodynamics (I barely remember high school physics, so how am I supposed to remember the exact numbering of the laws?), a system does no work if it returns to its initial state. If religious scripture is to be believed, we come into the world from one source and leave at the other end into the same source. Therefore, existence is futile! (This is why I chose to be agnostic. At least I can enjoy living in denial.)

I think the previous statement is the aftermath of too much Hieronymus Bosch.

When I have nothing to blog about, I put pictures of works of art in my blog.

If this attack of veracity persists, I will put an end to the self-proclaimed theory that 'Lying is a habit and no longer an art'.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It Happens Only in India

I was outside this supermarket, the kind that give all kinds of stuff for free. Interestingly, humans aren't the only ones getting stuff for free. There was a troupe of rhesus monkeys (our blessed ancestors at the nicer end of the evolution chain) crossing the road. For a moment I was afraid that one of the little ones would be turned to pulp by the speeding traffic. Fortunately for the monkeys and bored spectators alike, there were no accidents. Like most supermarket chains this store sells fruit and vegetables; all the stuff that is too old to be stocked is dumped outside the shop in cartons. The troupe of apes wasted no time in rummaging through the contents of the cartons, there were a couple of minor spats but moments later, each monkey was gnawing on his/her favourite fruit/vegetable. They scaled the neighbouring walls, walking nimbly between the pieces of glass strewn on the walls (the pieces of glass are intended as a deterrent to monkeys, cats and thievs). Some of them climbed onto a high voltage transformer and a few of the bolder ones made their way into the store. The bewildered store employees stood seemingly oblivious to the impending danger. Some of the employees made half hearted attempts to chase them away; the monkeys obliged (they seemed a little tired of their descendants, the ones that snatch their habitat from them).

To quote Shakespeare 'All's well that ends well', at least the monkeys got a treat! As for the folks that work at the store; they don't have to worry about karma points for a long time.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ad Sense

I've been toying with the idea of allowing advertisements on this blog. Blogger claims that I might be able to make a few extra bucks(Pieces of paper with pictures of dead heads of state. In India they come with a picture of Mahatma Gandhi.) if I upgrade to adsense. I read blogger's minimized thesis on ad-sense. The navigational glitches are turning out to be a serious deterrent to making this blog spam-full (as opposed to spam-free). I am also disturbed at the prospect of receiving 'sponsor communication' in my gmail account (an alias for internet snail mail). Blogger has gone to great lengths to woo skeptics such as 'Yours Truly'. Apparently, they're not as autocratic as I had imagined. I can blend the ads with my template, I can make them appear in the sidebar(with the help of my new friend HTML version 4.01). Still,as a diva I'm a tad offended by the conjunction of the words 'Ad' and 'Sense' into one word 'Ad-Sense'. Are they trying to hint that a blog devoid of ads is simultaneously devoid of sense? I can't help but wonder....

ps: I'm still reeling from the aftermath of having added the 'Creative Commons License'(I guess it's like having a GPL for one's blog) and the 'Hits Counter' to my sidebar.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Forget the Code and Skip to the End

I was browsing through my bookshelf and my eyes fell on a copy of 'The Da Vinci Code'. The only Dan Brown endorsed piece of 'words and sentences' that I own. I don't intend to extend my collection of material written by Dan Brown any further. I write this entry almost grudgingly, with a copy of the thesaurus so that I may not appear tongue-tied in my blog.

I am always skeptical of books that are overly hyped and get a little more than the average 15 minutes of fame. The skepticism turns to caution when I come to know that it is endorsed by page-3 celebrities and members of the British parliament. Still,I read this one as it was given to me. I am always appreciative and overwhelmed when people give me books. I am a puzzle junkie; so I devoured every word of the beginning. The ciphers, the codes, the morbid innuendos and the plot that had neither strength nor character. The book flies from one scene to the next like an endless chase in a Hollywood blockbuster. The car chases, the swiss bank account, the streets of Paris , and cryptography are all rolled into one;interspaced with historical references, a discourse on the the magic number phi (anyone into algorithms will know this), recollections of past events by the protagonists and a fanatical albino from the Opus Dei.

Somewhere in the middle, Brown decides to bring in the catholic church, Mary Magdelene and a conspiracy theory by the Vatican. I assume that the reader is already familiar with the controversy surrounding this book, along with the charges of plagarism pressed against the author. According to a documentary on the National Geographic Channel and another one on the History Channel: Brown's source of information is local myth and word of mouth. Personally, I have no issues with courting controversy and absurd theories involving organized religious groups. My sole bone of contention is the blatant way in which the book lacks structure and depth. The ending is reminiscent of a Bollywood tear-jerker( for the benefit of folks who don't watch Bollywood films, it is a lot like your average day time soap opera). Did Brown really think that he could fill in the blanks with the use of technical details as a substitute for creativity?

I will not deny that the book had potential. As a woman, I find it comforting to know that Jesus may have had female apostles. I was personally flattered by all the talk of the sacred feminine and I found all the rituals quite fascinating. Unfortunately, despite whatever effort Brown may have made, the book falls flat. No amount of controversy can redeem its position.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Observations Gone Haywire!

A few days ago, I was reflecting on Freud's theories and I coudn't help thinking about the 'Oedipus Complex'; the one where boys have an unnatural craving for their mothers and as a result are hostile and resentful towards their fathers. (The corresponding complex for girls is the Electra complex.)

The 'Oedipus Complex' was named after Oedipus Rex, the ill-fated mythical lad who was prophesised to kill his biological father and marry his biological mother. He eventually did so, unknowingly and unintentionally(there is a long story on how he was to be killed but ended up getting adopted and how it all lead to the catastropic sequence of events).In all fairness, he was nothing like the little(and grown up) boys who are condescendingly labelled 'Oedipus' by the supposedly well-intentioned shrink.

I generally appreciate Freud's efforts as the forerunner of modern psychlogy. I find his theories interesting, even though I genuinely think some are obsolete. Unfortunately, I am a tad distressed by the fact that he would name a complex after a mythical figure. It just makes the rest of us, non-mythical non-entities, treacherously prone to having complexes named after us! Imagine ending up like this : a statistical case study in a woebegone psychology journal, with all your maladies spelled out explicitly, much to your embarrasment and to the damning shame of your descendants. It doesn't end there; Oedipus was the subject of several plays, musicals and other forms of entertainment alike. Ever since then,the world of entertainment seems to have taken a rather keen and disturbing interest in incest...

Call me neurotic, but don't tell me I didn't warn you!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Art Findings : Part I

As I promised in a previous post, I would find art that speaks for itself, and needs very little elucidation from the artist. My search for art, although redundant, was not futile. These pieces may have been discovered by others before me, but to me they make a first.

I saw the first piece when I read 'The Prophet' by Khalil Gibran. The book is a petite reminder of how spiritual literature can be concise,poetic and enthralling at the same time. The many illustrations by Gibran only add to its mystical quality, and make it a masterpiece nearly as profound as any sacred text. I was deeply moved by its content, despite my stubborn agnosticism. The picture here is from the illustration on the last page. If one carefully observes the outer margins, one can see figures intertwined with each other, sort of as a reminder that we come from and are cast into the same mould.



I set out in search of the abstract and found the mediveal instead! Hieronymus Bosch was a mediveal artist whose subject matter centered around hell, sin and other aspects of morality (the kind that I generally find tedious). The piece here, 'The Creation of the World',appears to have a lighter sense of damnation and a greater sense of possibility. It conforms to the Biblical interpretation of creation.I had to put it up here as Bosch, although strictly late Gothic, is regarded as one of the forerunners of surrealism. I intend to explore Bosch further,despite my abysmal leaning towards anything even remotely religious.



In all certainty, there will be a sequel to this entry sometime in the near or distant future. If anything, all fascinating art comes from the least fascinating source.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Diva Returns

After a small hiatus away from this blog and my regular state of mind in general, I'm back. My apologies to the subset of readers who felt offended by the antics of my unfortunate twin. I bring back tidings of beauty and culture that have been lacking in the entries made by my twin. (She had the nerve to misconstrue that she and I are actaully different.)
I have been searching for new forms of art; surreal, regular and irregular. I still haven't found a piece that speaks for itself without unnecessary elucidation from the artist. I am still to find art, both literary and graphic, that speaks of its own possibilites without further human intervention. As for culture; I don't think it is possible for human beings to swear allegiance to one single culture. It never was, but statements like the previous one would be regarded as blasphemous apostacy in the past.(I'm not as regressive as I make myself out to be.)
I will try to add a couple of lines here and there about bizzare cultural practices that I wish to experiment with. Along with new art movements that don't seem to gain any impetus in this century.
Instant gratification, hence instant art? Who knows! A movement exists in thought, it merely needs fruition. Hold on to that thought till the next entry. Au Revoir!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Muse for the Unemployed

Unemployment isn't a curse, it's my current situation. I don't even get paid to write a blog!(Irrespective of the multitude that don't read it and irrespective of it being susceptible to copyright and copyleft infringement.) For those living in nations a tad more affluent than the third world (diplomatically read as the developing world), the prospect of child labour might seem appaling. The sheer apathy of a nation of a billion to such an abject debaucle must seem unimaginable. Yet for some of us living to see such a spectacle it really isn't.
The Indian constitution has stated very clearly that employment of children below the age of 14 is illegal. The government actually woke up to the tidings of its conscience (I didn't know it had one) and decided to implement it. There are informercials flying all over the news media. People who hire children will be imprisoned for a year. Yes, all this in a country where one-time hitmen walk free and serial killers run for office!
Besides, for many of these children who work, it is their sole livelihood. If they don't take home something of a wage, they risk being mortally wounded by the people they call their parents. Not all of them are lucky enough to have empowerment knocking on their door. Most of them cannot afford an education; education is only fictitous luxury. The kind that one gets to see on TV (the same parents that make them work give higher priority to a flat screen TV than they do to education). Apparently legislators underestimate the logistics when they legislate! Besides, what the government provides in the name of education (and at the cost of the 2% education cess) can be summed up as follows: a crumbling one-room hut with one teacher and 300 kids between the ages of 6 and 15. I believe abysmal isn't the word!
I may be unemployed, but thankfully, I was never one of those kids. (I wonder, does the law make a loophole for child actors, models and reality show stars? Are they less susceptible to exploitation because the make more money?) I never really understood legislation, to me it always seemed like a waste of time.

ps: The diva is still out and the twin is still in.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Diva Knows Her Grammar..And So Does Her Twin!







What is your grammar aptitude?




You are the grammar Fuhrer. All bow to your authority. You will crush all the inferior people under the soles of your jackboots, and any who question your motives will be eliminated. Your punishment is being the bane of every other person's existence, because you're constantly contradicting stupidity. Everyone will be gunning for you. Your dreams of a master race of spellers and grammarians frighten the masses. You must always watch your back. If only your power could be used for good instead of evil.
Take this quiz!








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For the Love of Chaos

Ever felt at peace with the clanging sound throbbing against your head? The music fades away to senseless, monotonous pandemonium. You risk going deaf, but you only live this life once despite having just a single pair of ears. You decide to allow a few more minutes of this mayhem and then you decide to surrender. Inspiration suddenly seems more important than preserving sanctity or sanity. Rationalization flies into dead oblivion as you are born again; in the same body, but with a different mind.

They called rock 'the music of the devil', little realizing that all humans are inherently Satanic as they are divine. The same people that loved wars, manipulation and all that jazz! Maybe they were right; but in being right they neglected their deep yearning for chaos. The kind that appears to be premeditated and synchronized and is still beyond control. The love for chaos is a necessity. Without chaos, we tend to undermine the need for its less-conceited better half - peace. Yet chaos remains the evil twin, the neglected sheep(I have issues with the term 'black sheep'), like Cain, the cursed one. Again, Cain existed so that Able would be favoured.

I don't love chaos. I merely respect it.

ps: The diva is currently on vacation. Whenever that happens the diva's semi-misanthropic twin takes over.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Reading Dostoyevsky

When I mention Dostoyevsky to people who ask me about my taste in books, I sense a feeling of unease coming from them. It's probably due to the almost unpronouncable Russian name, and also because most people haven't heard of him. "What books did he write?" , they ask with trepidation, after I've told them that he's Russian and they start to grapple with how his name is pronounced. I generally mention 'Crime and Punishment' (one that I've read before) and 'The Idiot' (the one I'm reading now). Soon, an expression of familiarity comes across most faces along with early signs of relief. "Have you read any others?", they ask taking some interest. I tell them that I haven't. "So what does he write about?", is the final question, the one that has me reeling with discomfort.

I must honestly admit that Dostoyevsky's books are difficult to define. One doesn't know where to start. A safe way would be to mention that he writes about all classes of pre-revolution Russian society. His books discuss the human condition through the unspoken words and unconscious deeds of their characters.One would like to finish the book in a jiffy and come up with a conclusion almost instantly, but it is impossible. If one were to ignore Dostoyevsky's own torment etched on each page, it would only be cruelty. Paradoxically still, Dostoyevsky's books are not depressing, nor do they promt any thought of self-destruction. It is said that people who read 'Crime and Punishment' often feel cheated when they read 'The Idiot'. Yet the stark disparity that exists between the two only highlights the quiet brilliance of the epilleptic writer, who was a compulsive gambler and was always on the run.

It took me more than a year to finish 'Crime and Punishment'; to absorb it completely and to make it a part of what has become my thought process. I can safely assume the same about 'The Idiot'.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Mototcycle Diaries


I had the immense pleasure of watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries', alone in the room that I call 'my thinking space'. First, I will admit that I am not a communist and don't ever intend to be one. I'm not even remotely political and I intend to remain that way for at least the next 15 years. Yet, in a strange way the film had an effect on me, more powerful than when inspiration flashes in front of one's eyes.

The film lacks the typical fanfare of an epic Hollywood blockbuster. It is unlike 'A Beautiful Mind' and many other biopics that dramatize to get an emotional response from the viewer. 'The Motorcycle Diaries' simply unfolds as a sequence of events on a road trip that could have been as uneventful as this one was profound. The film does not idolize Che Guevera, contrary to what some critics have suggested. The simplicity of the film is moving, the cast fits together brilliantly and the cinematography is simply marvellous. This film offers an unforgettable insight to Latin America, its breathtaking landscape , its history and its people. It is like reading a Marquez novel.

I didn't discuss the plot, the summary and the other details of the film on purpose. I think it is silently effective enough to arouse the viewer's curiosity in its subject. It is a testimony to the fact that low-budget and artistic films can still survive the curse of the blockbuster.

ps: To the friend who gave me the CD of 'The Motorcycle Diaries' : You know who you are, thank you. I'm sorry I didn't blog about this earlier.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Shhhhh...

The diva is tied down, her hands behind her back. Her mouth is gagged so she may not mumble(she never speaks anything of significance, she mumbles it). Her fingers are bound tightly so that she may not flex them rigourously and reach for the keyboard that hangs temptingly over her head. Her feet are taped together so she may not attempt to use the pen and paper that lie on the floor, two inches away from her right toe.(The diva is primarily right handed but likes to think of herself as being ambidextrous.)The diva's thoughts are racing. She then decides to give the excessive use of metaphors a rest and see what best she can do without the use of double meanings, oxymorons and euphemisms.

In this paragraph, the reader finds the diva relaxed after the she has renounced literary abuse for the rest of the entry. The diva is compelled to use 'pictures' instead of words in order to gain sympathy. The anonymity is unfortunate but necessary. The diva does not want to get 'dooecd' on account of her blog. (Divas need money and a job to sustain themselves!) The diva is simply known as 'El-Diva'. She is represented by the unicode characters she types onto the screen. Even if she chooses to have an opinion, she would rather be vain than post it on her blog. However she might write a whimsical set of jumbled words and hope that her readers get all sides of the 'unfair' coin.

Till the next entry, keep it down. You might just miss the point.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another Dumb Quiz for the Diva

You Are Surrealism
Dreamy and idealistic, you've created a world that is all your own.It's very likely that you've either dabbled in drugs or are naturally trippy.You are always trying to push beyond the boundaries of your culture and society.You believe that art, love, and freedom can change the world.


ps: I resent the part that says 'It's very likely that you've either dabbled in drugs or are naturally trippy'.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Le blog de président

El Diva is amused! With my French skills tending abysmally towards zero, I used google's language tools to come up with the French title. I am still amazed at how the French love to blog. I read somewhere that France has the highest number of bloggers. I came across the blog of Jacques Chirac. It's in French and I don't understand a word of it. Still, I find it noteworthy that as an 'elderly' man, he still bothers to maintain (or let someone else maintain) a blog. A far cry from Indian politicians who block blogs after a terror attack has occured( the way they block blogs is far more hilarious than the assumptions they make about blogs).
So here is the link. http://www.jacqueschirac.org

ps: To all the citizens of France, you may or may not think highly of your president but at least he has a blog!!!

Some Divas Just Want to be Alone...

I will spare my readers the redundancy of the previous entry on Garbo, but it is true, some divas just need to be alone. How else would they be divas then?
I am aware of divas that seek the spotlight, the attention, the entourages, the limousine rides and other things. Yet, there are several others (such as yours truly)who would rather be locked away in a cellar in a medevial castle. Let's face it, we divas need time to think so we can be saved the trouble of ending up as misanthropes. If there is one thing divas hate, it is damage control. So as 'El diva' avers, 'why opt for damage control when damage itself can be obviated'.
Of course, when 'El diva' wants to be locked in the cellar, she needs the basic necessities (a good book, art supplies and a computer with wi-fi access) in order to have some semblance of a minimalistic and temporarily-reclusive existence.
The time-out doesn't necessarily contribute to the enigmatic status of the diva, but one can't help but wonder what a diva locked in a cellar is good for....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Brush that Needs no Paint

Keeping with the recurring theme of 'arty' posts that have flooded this blog for the last two months, I thought I'd experiment with this one. A brush with no paint is a lot like an individual who draws pictures in the air. These pictures are only visible to the 'artist', the others can only follow the movement of his/her intangible 'brush'. The same can be attributed to a process of thought. An idea arises out of what seems like nowhere. It only takes shape when put into practise. However, can an abstract idea really take shape? Like the artist who paints in the air given the lack of a suitable medium of expression, the proponent of an abstract idea is also hindered by the lack of resources that he/she might need to give it suitable form. Still, it is unfair to dismiss an idea because it can't take shape given the present set of circumstances. Besides, an idea that seems overwhelming, can be dissected and can be executed without the fragmentation of its purpose. Therefore a great idea is a lot like a brush that needs no paint, it can create art as long as it is understood.

Monday, October 02, 2006

If Looks Could Kill.....

If looks could kill...overpopulation would be history.

If art could predict the future...all of us would be blind.

If bloggers could edit...writers would be unemployed and publishers bankrupt.

Finally, if I had a social life...I wouldn't occupy CIA-scrutinized server space on blogger!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

If Oscar Lived in Our Time


Allow me this one indulgence. It has often been suggested that Oscar Wilde was ahead of his time. His outrageous unconventionality, his homosexuality and other similar exploits made him nothing short of the 19th century equivalent of a gossip column headliner. What if he lived in the 21st century, here's my take.

I brought up this topic on a discussion board in Orkut. The majority said that he would have married 'Bosie' his lover. Yes, I think he would have, and they would have divorced even sooner, given the generation gap. 'All art is quite useless' ,he once said. Since this is the 21st century, he would have said, 'all existence is quite useless'. (Sadly, that's what art is now reduced to, existence!) He would have been a whimsical, chain smoking, 'controversial', and narrowly misanthropic writer ; with a column in a leading newspaper, a public and rather capricious blog and several anonymous ones. He would be quite a regular at places like Studio54 and at the sidelines of the gay pride parade.

I can only imagine him smoking illegally smuggled cuban cigars with the same panache with which he would parody members of the G8. He would sue the compilers of popular dictionaries because he groused their definitions of 'aesthete' and 'renaissance'. He would probably not have a distinct political ideology, and would politely decline the Nobel Prize for literature. He would live in New York city and write scripts for films and plays. A regular at the 'Oscars', he would win after being nominated several times, and commend the voting members of the academy for their astute judgement(all pun intended). He would make it to either one of Mr. Blackwell's lists (I can't tell if it will be the best or the worst dressed, Mr. Blackwell has a tendency to have favourites on both lists except that they keep fluctuating from one list to the other.)

At the end of it all, he would be an entertainer. Not the type that needs a 'Page-3' profile, or the type that makes appearances on 'Oprah' (that would be sheer entertainment though) , but simply the type that observes the paparazzi and writes to incur their wrath. 'We are all in the gutter but some of us our looking at the stars' , he would say, unflinchingly, as he did more than a century ago.