Friday, February 17, 2006

What’s Writing Got To Do With It?

Writing is about spending time with myself. I discovered this only recently. When I sit back to do some creative writing, I actually tend to ponder and take time off to think about the subject. Somehow, I realised that I had the lost the knack of doing so, since I joined the papers. Reporting or even feature writing is about putting down facts. The way you place these facts, the priority in which you position them reveals your style, which then becomes comparable to other ‘writers.’ But personally they aren’t writers; they are just the compilers of facts who have a flair for the English language.

The other day when a friend told me to contribute to a review page, I was quite enthusiastic about doing the book review. So I sat back and spent some time wondering which book I should review - whether it would be the Atlas Shrugged that had left a profound impact on me, or Shantaram which unfolded a brilliant story or then should it be a novel of Ruskin Bond, whose narration always leaves me envious of his ‘style’, where he manages to say so much in such simple language. But I realised that though I had read all these books in the recent past and remembered their storylines and characters, I couldn’t find an angle to review.

Each book brought alive the time that would have otherwise remained a stagnant part of my life. It gave me a thought to browse upon, the validity of actions to question and a new style of writing to learn from. But in spite of all these facts, I couldn’t review the book, because I had never looked back upon any of these books as a complete whole - the story, the style, the meaning and the message - all as one single package. I allowed my mind to wander, sometimes inspecting the moral and sometimes the literature and that too at different times during the reading. This is exactly what I realised when I sat down to review the Kite Runner, a book that I had praised and recommended highly, unfortunately without being truly capable of comprehending the book, except in the light of the narration of the story.

Today I decided to start writing again. It was a good habit, sometimes it helped me vent my frustration, sometimes it allowed me a liberal platform to opine and there were even those times when I would introspect my relationships, my surroundings and my self. In the flow of writing for the newspapers, I thought I was doing my creativity a good deal of justice, but actually I wasn’t… in fact it wasn’t even being used. An efficient combination of good vocabulary, sensible punctuations and politically correct thought isn’t called ‘creativity’; it is merely termed as ‘good reporting skills.’ And that I must remind myself isn’t the best compliment for a writer.

I happened to read another friend’s blog the other day - mind you he is a software engineer by profession - and I found myself appreciating his articles, not for the subjects he chose, but for the fluent flow of his thoughts. He still remains a computer geek who spends all his waking hours before the screen typing a bizarre combinations of mere characters on the keyboard, probably they make no sense to anybody but him and those of a like profession; but when he gets down to writing, his ideas, imagination, language, all seem to be in their right place. Well, logically speaking I should be better at the latter than him…but it hits me that I am ‘not’.

Of course, it doesn’t bother me - as regards competition or an inferiority complex - it just reminds me that I need to take some time off and write. Write, not to meet a deadline or ensure the limitation of words and thought; but write to feel good about myself, to remind myself that I am a writer first and a journalist later…’cause writers aren’t born everyday, but journalists might be.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Kalaghoda Experience

So finally I discovered what the Kalaghoda Festival was and I grant all the people who go completely gung-ho about it, their complete worth. Right in the centre of this maddening, yet appealing city - Mumbai, on a road that probably hundreds of people cross to and fro sprawls the Kalaghoda Art festival.
A melange of music, dance, paintings, digital videos, portraits, fortune tellers and a hustle bustle of several men, women and teenagers impressed upon me as I walked into the swarm of installations, sculptures, paintings and people. As I screened the exhibits with a footnote of the author’s profile, the only thing that seemed to bind them all was passion.
While at one end people strolled through a maze of paintings and sketches, at the other end several crowded at the food-stalls. In the centre of all this, the sound of ghungroos gave rhythm to the moves of a kathak dancer, who had enthralled a chunk of the crowd with her graceful swirls and their precise explanation in a diction of Hindi, that seemed more pure only because of her style.
I was amazed that this was India. Though the presentation of the festival might have been just about ok, what appealed to me most was the vibrant combination of people. Elite artists mingled with portrait experts who were caught selling their skill at a mere Rs 100 - the end product guaranteed so long as you could sit still for a while. A tarot man sat amidst the crowd, claiming to tell you your future in the uncertain and erratic world of art. There were men who sold sequenced chappals that glistened in the nightlight and young artists who sold cards with paintings on a dry peepal leaf.
Creativity seemed to ooze from every direction and it practically pulled you into the flow. I don’t understand shit about art, though both my parents are architects; I couldn’t even wait a while to observe some paintings, like some others I met over there; in fact I finally realised that it wasn’t the art or the works that overwhelmed me, but a just the oorja of enthusiasm, undying passion, creativity and liveliness that gave me a high that evening.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Voice of a Woman

Rape is not just an assault, an abuse and an insult of the skin and flesh, but it seeps way beyond and much deeper into the woman’s soul. This brutal act of “pleasure” shatters the woman’s confidence and tramples upon her identity and ego - a state that she must live with all her life, while the man can escape repenting all of this because he is ‘to be hanged unto death.’

I just finished reading the book Blasphemy, another one of Tehmina Durrani’s works. While in My Feudal Lord, she unveiled the reality of a Muslim politician’s wife’s life, in this book she has thrown open the personal life of a pir - an Islamic religious head. On the face, the man speaks of nobility, humility and the will of Allah, but behind close doors all his acts defeat the essence and purity of the versus in the Quran. Let alone exercising the ‘man superior to woman’ formula, but he indulges in pornography where the most easily accessible woman - his wife - is forced to commit the sins of sleeping with young adolescent boys for the sake of his mental satisfaction. When tired of this he turns towards younger girls, who haven’t even understood the true meaning of their existence, their body and their nature, and forces them to bleed to maturity over a period of few hours. It is in such cases when the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘love’ dawns upon you. Truly animalistic, the former ceases your thought process and you become the victim of your own body.

The worst of these acts is probably the rape of young girls. When a girl touches puberty, she senses a change. As the hormones of the body play havoc, her mind develops a distinct relationship with her body. Her personality begins to identify with her shape, her tenderness and her sensitivity. Well this doesn’t mean that a delicate profile implies an innocent woman, but the identification is on a very personal level. And this is exactly what I would term as ‘on the brink of womanhood.’ Discovering one’s womanhood is one of the most beautiful experiences of a girl - it must be handled gently, lovingly and carefully. And a rape at this stage in a girl’s life can be nothing worse than a living nightmare, one that ensures that her sleepless nights last a lifetime.

I sometimes wonder how the system of devdasi was encouraged. It is quite similar to the mention of the abuse of young girls by the pir in this book. Of course, while in our system it is considered a matter of pride when the girl is given up to the god (read his representatives), in case of the pir, the matter is extremely hushed and is probably in the knowledge of only the victim and perhaps her mother. One exploits so many creations of nature in the name of religion…that sometimes I tend to wonder if being an atheist is in itself a solution to this exploitation. On one hand man respects and fears the superpower, but at the same time defies the core of His very principles.

Man was always considered superior to the woman. But they are interdependent and so why can’t they be treated equally. Why do we fail to understand that one can’t be created without the other. If there were no women there would be no question of man or woman and if there were no men, then too there would be no question of man or woman. An interaction between the two on an equal level is necessary to create and procreate. Unfortunately the whole act has been converted into a power game - a game that weakens one of the creators… it is unfair, yet true. Women need to rise out of this illusion, more a threat and believe that they are equal…because unless we believe, we cannot take a stand and unless we take a stand there can be no consequence.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Farewell fond ones

The board was put up with a twinkle of pride in everyone’s eyes, a smile on everyone’s lips and a sense satisfaction…something like when an event, a place and a feeling are established. But yesterday, we cleared the room, swept out the dust and snapped the wires holding the board. The whole place looked so empty and in less than half the time that we had taken to set it up, Paws and Claws was shut down. A loneliness gripped me as I penned down the notice of closure and I could only stand there a second when A and M looked back at the empty corners of the clinic where the other day only sounds echoed.

And with this clinic came to an end another very precious chapter in my life. It isn’t too long ago that I met A for the first time and the relationship matured so suddenly. The other day he told me that I was the first friend he had out-of-the-circle. I didn’t know whether to take pride in the statement or not, but I was glad nevertheless. I have spent a lot of time with this couple and have allowed myself to grow with the relationship. After a long time I found myself following my heart. I did as it told me; there were times when I realised that some things needed to be shared and other times they understood a lot about me without a single word being uttered. In fact I could see the relationship becoming more intimate. Everything took its time, but then again everything seemed to be happening at the right time.

There are some relationships that are hurried, while there are others that just remain, but very rarely do you sense a relationship growing. It grows with time and with every experience and event in your life. A & M’s relationship with me grew similarly. Every time we met was memorable…sometimes we spoke about their home, sometimes about Cranky, sometimes our friends and sometimes even about the placement of stars in the sky. One of the most beautiful things of this relationship was that we got to know each other as individuals. Over the past year I have realised how much of what I initially perceived was so different from what actually was. Of course, I enjoyed immensely those aspects of their personality that lay in the shadow of what I had glanced at first. A’s matured advice that lay a blanket on his habit of making impromptu thrilling plans and M’s composed self which at times gave way to her innocent stubbornness of wanting to eat an ice-cream.

We have gotten so used to each other … that I actually feel a vacuum now that they are gone. Since Dhanashri left four years ago, I haven’t really spent much time pouring over any of my relationships. Those poems I wrote about our relationship and the ‘better than best friends’ term we braced our bond with…well it began there and probably had ended there as well. But this time, I actually sat back and penned down a lot of stuff for A & M…Whenever I am actually unable to put across everything through conversation, I opt to write; it just makes things simpler and clearer with a neat flow of thought.

So here is wishing you the very best. I hope this opportunity works out excellently for you. I love you tons and I hope you are going to be equipped to compensate for all the weekends I have been without you, when you get back!

Miss you truckloads. Thanks for being always being there and more importantly making a difference by being there. I end … I sit back to watch Jerry Maguire…my favourite movie.