Monthly Archives: May 2004

No rhyme or reason

I don’t usually write poetry, and anyone who reads my ‘poems’ (and I use the word loosely) will easily understand why. But after four days of thunderstorms and dark gloomy skies, I was ‘naturally’ inspired. So here goes —

The Rain

Pounding against my window pane
My yard looks like the town drain
Squelchy shoes on the subway train
I lost my umbrella, what a pain.

This poem rhymes, but in vain
In meaningfulness, there is no gain
Further poetry, I should refrain
A sad excuse of a poet, I remain.

What does Google think of you?

Ever tried Googlism? This is what the Googlism.com website has to say on what its about —

Googlism was created as a fun tool to see what Google “thinks” of certain topics and people. Of course, the results are not really Google’s opinion, they’re yours, the web site owners of the world. Within the Google results are thousands of your thoughts and opinions about thousands of different topics, people, names, things and places, we simply search Google and let you know what website owners think about the name or topic you suggested.

Running it on your own name is a sure sign of vanity, but what the heck! Its so much fun! :) Here’s what Google thinks of me (and what I think of what it thinks)

  • Megha is also thinking about other women who wish to pursue studies in this field
    (I am?)
  • Megha is featured in the yoga audiotape grace in motion
    (Yes yes, that’s me. Total ‘grace in motion’ I am. *ahem*)
  • Megha is blue
    (Yes, when I am sad. But blue clouds? *blues playing in the background*)
  • Megha is a total nervous wreck
    (Shhh, not so loud!)
  • Megha is also an accomplished mehndi artist
    (Backup career plan A)
  • Megha is my “brainy” roomie from freshman year
    (If only my actual roommates had such positive things to say!)
  • Megha is very proud that one of her cubs is an albino or white in colour with black stripes
    (*motherly purr* But I do love all my kids equally..)
  • Megha is a one
    (A one, a two.. a one two three four.. )
  • Megha is the environmental business group of the Stockholm
    (Ja!? Men jag är från Índien!)
  • Megha is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania where she is majoring in political science and english — Jane Lee of northridge
    (Who is this Jane Lee and how does she know my alter ego? Also, backup career plans B and C)
  • Megha is the sister of the labourer Shanker of the same mill
    (Shanker bhaiyyaaaaaaa!)
  • Megha is majoring in biology and economics at Penn
    (Backup for my backup? Now i’m confused :| )
  • Megha is proud of Gujarat’s record in labour welfare
    (Yeah sure, why not. Yay for Gujarat! *pat pat*)
  • Megha is concerned
    (Totally.. *solemn look*)
  • Megha is four years old
  • Megha is eleven years old and Deva is ten
  • Megha is fourteen years old and Deva is thirteen
    (The many stages of my evolution? Deva, my long lost kumbh-mela separated brother! Where were you when I was four!?)
  • Megha is one tough cookie
    (Raspberry shortbread, to be more specific. My favorite kind!)
  • Megha is definitely not an easy opponent
    (You bet ;))
  • Megha is also a human being
    (Glad we got that cleared up. Had me worried for a bit)
  • Megha is
    (I think, therefore I am)
  • Megha is ahead of her time
    (Helps to wear a watch that is perpetually fast)
  • Megha is going
    (Going, going, gone..)
  • Megha is the original sanskrit word for cloud
    (Ah finally, they got one right for real!)

All losses are restor’d..

Before I begin this ramble of mine, a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth comes to mind in which he describes life —

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more..
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Chances are, this blog post will go the same way. You have been warned.

One of the nicer outcomes of an overpriced ICSE education in India was the love for Shakespeare’s writings that it developed in me. Revisited some of the bard’s sonnets in the last few days. Here I reproduce, what is arguably my favorite, along with my interpretation of it. But first, a li’l background on sonnets —

The genre of sonnets became popular under the guiding influence of the Italian poet Petrarch. The basic form of the Petrarchan sonnet had 14 lines divided into two distinct parts, an opening octet (8 lines) and a closing sestet (6 lines). The octet often presented a dilemma that the sestet addressed in resolving. Also, the Petrarchan sonnets usually were a sequence of poems written by a besotted lover about an unapproachable or unattainable love, someone the poet pined excessively for.

In style, sonnets were often used by a poet to show off his skill. Excessive use of flowery language, metaphors, extended metaphors (also called ‘conceits’) and hyperbole was common. This resulted in the poem being an obvious testament to a poet’s talent as much as a tribute to his love. Shakespeare however, brought a certain sincerity and directness to this otherwise rather superficial treatment of the feeling of love.

Sonnet 30

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.

A rather pensive sonnet, the poet ruminates on his life and the sorrows that have come with it. There is a tone of discontentment, a sentiment carried over from the previous sonnet (29). However just like the joyful sentiment that ends the previous one .. (For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings) .. this too ends on a positive upbeat note. The poet dwells in the sorrow of his dead friends and his friend/love’s absence only worsens it. Yet, it is the thought of the same friend/love that relieves him of his sadness and gives him emotional strength.

The denouement of the concluding couplet is striking in its simplicity and directness as opposed to the heavier language used in the first 12 lines to signify the pall of gloom in his life. (But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restor’d and sorrows end). The sharp contrast also helps transfer the feeling of unburdening that the poet feels, onto the reader.

Shakespeare’s use of alliteration within words to add a sense of rhythm to the sonnet is to be particularly noted. An example (of the many in this sonnet) is in the following couplet where the ‘V’ sound is stressed —

Then can I grieVe at grieVances foregone,
And heaVily from Woe to Woe tell o’er

Hmm.. I should remember to thank my 10th grade English teacher..

A farceur extraordinaire

Every once in a while, I come across a tidbit on the web that mentions the name Ramesh Mahadevan, and I cannot help but revisit his writings. Who is Ramesh Mahadevan, you ask? Anyone who trolled Indian USENET newsgroups like soc.culture.indian in the 90s would find his name to be a familiar one. His howlarious insights into the confusion of being a ‘desi’ student in the US, brought to us via the fictional Ajay Palvayanteeswaran, a Kerala brahmin from IIT-Madras, have earned their place in cyber-literature. Here’s a list of all of his works.

It’s tough to pick any one of his writings and call it the best. But here’s one for a sample of his humor. This one covers passport troubles, the unstoppable burgeoning of desi-stores and a visit to the dentist.

Migration, Emigration and Transmigration

I was in Amsterdam a couple of months ago and somebody promptly picked my pocket a few hours after my arrival there and took my Indian passport. Panic-stricken, I located a police station — my first tourist sight in Amsterdam and lodged a complaint to a doughnut-eating policeman.

“Where did you lose it?” was his first dumb question.

Darn! How do I know? If I knew it exactly, I would have taken care not to lose it in the first place! I pointed my finger vaguely in the direction of the large window in the office.

“Red light district,” he wrote down.

By the way, the prostitutes in Amsterdam accept even travelers’ checks, I was told. Oops, I am digressing.  Read more..

‘The greatest story ever told’

(Spoilers ahead)

Watched the extended edition/director’s cut version of Sholay for the first time last night. For those of you who haven’t heard, this is the version in which Gabbar dies. Seen this movie an ungodly number of times, but the extended version was a first for me. Phew, what a movie!

‘Iss shtorii mein emoshun hai, drrrama hai, trrragedii hai!’ laments a drunk Dharmendra about his love life, from atop the water-tank, while he contemplates ‘sosssiiiide’! So true of the movie itself! The many spices of storytelling that come together in perfect unison to create what is now considered the greatest ‘curry’ Western that Bollywood ever made – Sholay!

Sholay

I grew up in a family of Sholay lovers. Methinks that my mom considered naming me Basanti, but better sense prevailed (Ah there is a god after all!). We owned the complete Sholay dialogues on a 3 LP set that got played once every couple of months, just so we kids didn’t forget the movie. I remember huddling around the LP player with my cousins during the summer holidays, eating raw mangoes, listening to the high-pitch screeching Gabbar theme, and being collectively scared (I guess i was about 5 then).

But despite having the dialogues memorized, I hadn’t yet seen the movie. VCRs weren’t common and Sholay wasn’t re-released until the mid-80s. So the sights and sounds of Ramgarh were all in my imagination.. and the movie grew larger than life. And thanks to all the hype I had generated about the movie in my head, I was hesitant to watch the movie. My imagination was a tough yardstick to measure up to, after all! :)

And then finally.. 1987 summer holidays – It happened! *sigh* What can I say about a movie that hasn’t already been said a hundred times before. A deceptively simple storyline that grew to become an inescapable part of the movie-going consciousness of the 70s and generations after!

The characterizations, the dialogues, the camera angles, the framing of seemingly simple shots, the comedic timing, the unspoken emotions, the Thakur’s turmoil, Veeru’s bumbling, Jai’s astuteness, Hema’s chatter, Jaya’s silences, Gabbar’s homicidal glee, the implied off-screen violence that sends chills down your spine .. and above all, the background music! Sholay would be a fraction of the masterpiece it is today had it not been for R D Burman’s magnificent background score! (Separate blogpost dedicated to that)

A story that had shades of the Akira Kurosawa classic The Seven Samurai as well as Sergio Leone‘s western Once Upon A Time In The West (especially the Thakur family massacre scene). However, Ramesh Sippy‘s individualistic treatment gave Sholay its own distinctive flavor and elevated it to cult status for Bollywood watchers.

Sholay became and will remain, close to my heart. Much like Parle-G Glucose biscuits. After all, they were ‘Gabbar ki asli pasand!’ ;)

(Photo courtesy rediff.com)