Gauri, don’t rest in peace… till

A sad day in the history of independent India. A black day. A democracy kills its own children. Just like Gujarat 2002. Hunting down people for their self-constructed fears. For the hate they harbour. For the way they despise the little Indians. For the sheer helplessness of seeing women, dalits, tribals, minorities, and people with different opinions shining. An envy that refuses to accept differences.

Guari Lankesh was a bold daughter of India. The late daughter of the rebel writer, dramatist, poet, and journalist P. Lankesh started her journalistic career in English print media. After working a while in the erstwhile Sunday magazine of the Anand Bazar Patrika group, after the death of her father, she took over the reigns of Lankesh  Patrike.

Like her father, she did not forget to fight for justice, for women’s emancipation, for dalits, for tribals, and for minorities. In doing so, she had to take head on some of the rabid orthodoxy, fundamental forces who were shaken up. They could not digest the fact that in India, a woman could sow fear in their hearts!

She was threatened for her courageous journalism and activism. But she pooh-poohed it. But the Indian right wing meant serious threat – to eliminate her.

On 05 September at around 8.00pm, as she returned home in her car, opened the gate, and then walked the gate to close it, a helmet-wearing coward fired at her mercilessly. Initially she missed the shots, and ran inside the gate to hide herself; but the helmet-covered coward had a gun; in all, he fired seven rounds, which took Gauri’s life.

The insecure fundamentalist succeeded in silencing one voice of dissent; but in doing so, his gang has opened a can of worms: it has strengthened the debate over democracy and violence – louder than in Guari’s lifetime. It has focused the world’s attention on the incompetent, hate-mongering government which came to power in 2014 in the name of development, but has failed miserably to fulfil even a single promise. Tragic events like cold-blooded murders of thinkers, writers, journalists serve to distract people’s attention from the government’s failures. But, a thousand Gauri’s will be born, a thousand M.M. Kalburgis will be awakened. We shall overcome… someday!

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When it rains, it simply pours down

This year has been very good for rains in India. Initially things looked bright, and then suddenly a pall of gloom spread over the Indian skies with rain gods refusing to “liquidate” their “gaseous” promises! I am not sure whom to talk about – the rain gods or the weather predicting gods of India. 

Then again, the skies started rejoicing, shedding thick tears of joy – most parts of the country have had plenty of rains – in access over the annual average. The surplus started in August. 

But a few parts of the country experienced dry days all the same! Especially Karnataka, which has regular tussles over water with Tamil Nadu and Goa and Kerala and Maharashtra.  

While places like Bangalore- which otherwise don’t receive too much of rains, this year it was the opposite – plenty of rains. In fact -may be highest rains ever in Bangalore. If it rains another centimeter or two (10-20mm) in Bangalore in the next two days, we would have set new records for all eternity! So much of rains. No less devastation, either.

 And Mumbai didn’t learn its lessons! Normal life has come to a stand still. The otherwise dry Mumbai is under water. And more rains in the offing. So far, the rains are said to be only second highest after 2005!  

And our administration -neither Mumbai nor Bangalore nor Chennai- learn any lessons from their omissions and commission Poor rain management by our city councils. No rain water harvesting. No drainage. Hardly any preparedness!

Sad for a country which suffers so much of loss due to lack of water, and now allowed to suffer due to excess rains! I only pray God to give our civil servants and politicians some sense of their duty and imaginative ways of managing resources. And some good civil sense to all of us – civilians.

When you don’t want to go to hospital to get treated for dengue, you do whatever you can – eat dragonfruits! I loved its mild taste, and liked it looks, warm and attractive colours, texture and the cute feel.

It is small enough to eat and big enough to fill your stomach! Two dragon fruits made a k.g.! Two fruits in two days, and all was well. No doubt, they charge about Rs. 300 per k.g. in a near by shop in Bangalore, and along roadsides in K.R. Market, ten rupees less!

When you don’t take care of your system

What happens? It’s obvious. Your system doesn’t take care you, it fails you. It forces you down to take care of it!

It’s no secret Thai I have been overwriting my system – my only, irreplaceable body. And it has served me right for a number of years. But, poor thing, how long can it pull on?

This time I had a scared of dengue too. Dengue is too prevalent in Karnataka this yeas. Hundreds have lost their lives to dengue this year alone.

For days ago I felt I couldn’t go on. Then on Friday I had a blood test done. Test revealed my platelet count was down to 150,000. That’s not the best thing to happen.

Then I started consuming pomegranate juices, fruits, and papaya leaf juice. Things are better. But not not the best. Feel giddy, phlegm in the chest, cough, and feverish.

Only I wish I had learned my lesson a. Wee bit early.

Heat in Rainy Season

There may not be much rain in Bangalore (why, even in India!) in the rainy season.

All the same we keep facing the heat – come academic year.

Our Academic Year began in the first week of June, with students pouring in in the second week. And since then, there has been no respite. YOu can very well imagine given that an ardent blogger like me finds hardly  a minute to upload his blog!

But we don’t give up!

A Visit to Indian Institute of Science

On Friday, Dr Divakar, Frs Melwyn D’Cunha, and Jimmy (with me, of course) visited the famous Indian Institute of Science. The Institute is known for C. V. Raman, the Nobel laureate.
IISc Rhidhi2
Besides our interest to know about IISc, and witness its excellence, we have another reason: our famous Taxonomist Fr Cecil Saldanha was closely associated with it during his life-time. Towards the end of his life, he donated his entire collection of herbarium to IISc. We wanted to see that too.
IISc Rhidhi
The 420-acre campus is absolutely marvelous.  Such a beautiful campus in the heart of Bangalore. It is lush green. It is well-maintained.
IISc Plane
There is a particular tree – I forget the exact name. Such a lovely tree!
And then we found India’s first indigenously designed plane – probably in the late 1950s – the description there does not give the exact date. It simply says the plane was in operation from the 1950s to the mid-1980s.
IISc Plance Expl

de-Constructing Meaning of L’immortelle

It’s a French film. Directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet in 1963. The 100-minutes-long Black & White L’immortelle is pure visuals. The film stars Jacques Doniol-Valcroze as a French college professor (we don’t know what his expertise is) who moves to Istanbul in Turkey and Fracnoise Brion as the young woman, his lure.
The film breaks the regular linear narrative and it breaks the many other human constructions. When we go visiting historic places and places of importance, we read tour guides or listen to our guides and acclaim, ‘Wahhhh!’ Where does this meaning and significance come from? Isn’t it our or someone else’ construction? The beautiful, old city of Istanbul is not old, built just the other day. All lovely things/ locales exist and don’t. She knows and doesn’t. She is there and she is not. The constructed binaries.
You could look at the film from another angle, as Margo puts it, – lure of the exotic. That which goes beyond, never attainable. You go chasing it. And it may posit two things: the real and the not real. The fascination chases us or has us in a bind.  What are we chasing?Limmortelle
[picture courtsey: filmmonthly.com]
I liked a few of those pure shots  – haptic visuals! The woman is a haunting beauty not just to the professor, but to the viewer as well. And when the two are together, the eyeline hardly matches. Probably, she is not real. They are not in the same plane. Once the professor encounters her for the first time in real time and place, she is no more in the real; she becomes his imagination. And then she can jump in and out of the frame, in out of the real and the unreal, and live in his imagination. The extreme close-ups and zooms-outs are a feast to the eye. But the finest is when the tourist rows his boat under the bridge from one water to the another, and then enters the mosque whose pillars are rooted in waters, and he rows through the landscape of a myriad of them…. that’s perfect! Beautiful!
In the quest for deconstructing the meaning-making, his construction and her deconstruction, Istanbul could be anywhere; it could be replaced by Banares in India or Beluru-Halebeedu in Karnataka. The film works as well.
Alain Robbe-Grillet wrote the script for Alain Resnais’ famous film Last Year at Marienbad. And this  his film got clouded in the shadow of the master Resnais’ brilliance. You can see the influence in L’immortelle -call it indebtedness- to the better known French master – the long tracking shots of the “historic” mosque
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New Academic Year 2017

It’s back to formal academics at St Joseph’s College Bangalore

The College reopens, and we begin with student orientation today.

Monday onwards regular classes begin.

For an already hectic schedule, these formal academics are only going to add – fuel to fire.

That reminds me that first I am an academic – Indian and our system does not honour its researchers. So, focus on academics. The best I could give. So, that is a reminder I must temper my research ambitions, and go to classroom.

Here is looking forward to a fruitful academic year 2017-18.

Bahubali-2 and Sophiya

I had the opportunity of watching two very different films in Mangalore, recently. S.S. Rajamouli’s much acclaimed Hindi version of the original Telugu ‘Bahubali-2 Conclusion‘ and Harry Fernandes’ Konkani film Sophiya.

While Bahubali is brilliant for its special effects, graphics, and animation, the same thing can’t be said of its structure. I haven’t watched its first part – The Beginning. But those who have watched both the films tell me it is not necessary to watch the first. And they are absolutely right. There is  no reference to the “I”.

Bahubali

I must say the entire film stands on its graphics, special effects, and sound design. But the film is worth the 168 minutes you spend on.

The Konkani is an orphan child. Sad for the little Coastal language. The little spoken minority, endangered coastal language has been struggling to make films in the last few decades. In a fragmented yet highly competitive cut-throat commercial world, a minority language like Konkani can’t afford to create pieces of mass produced, massed consum-able arts. But that in spite of the lack of a collective history or talent pool or an avalanche of resources, it still has dared make a film is great news.

From a critical perspective, the film is a bore – though the hundred plus audiences in the second week of its release in a  multiplex screen seemed to enjoyed the film thoroughly! You hear your fellow viewers hum the lines of the songs happily!

From the story point, it is a very poor script and a plot. Nothing solid to hold on to. The same priest – the church – Catholic community environs. Konkani culture has not yet severed its priestly umbilical cords.Sophiya

And then there is bad casting of almost all the characters – especially the child (Annie), her dad Alwyn, the physician and everybody else. The child has been badly handled. The director’s inexperience (in spite of the claims of having worked with many filmmakers) stands out. Sophiya’s final song on the beauty of the land is a absolute out-of-place in its tune as well as relevance. The best I can say about it is it is a childish venture, gone fully out of control, with the absolute ignorance of watching some post-independence era films.