Wednesday, August 26, 2015

When the cuckoo sings

It’s been a Japan kind of month. Months after I travelled there, I was called upon to file the story, and the days of August went in remembering, reading, dwelling... and it seemed fitting to have a haiku by the master himself on my header. Matsuo Basho was the man who created the three-lined haiku as we know it today. With the country so much on my mind, I picked up to read Jane Hirshfield’s The Heart of Haiku, and then a long piece on Basho in the National Geographic... it was poignant.

Even in Kyoto,
how I long for Kyoto
when the cuckoo sings
–Matsuo Basho (trans. Sam Hamill)

This haiku, however, has haunted me for a while. What is to be done with this nameless angst? Even in Kyoto the poet longs for Kyoto... what then is Kyoto? Is it an amalgam of every single sight, smell, taste experienced here? Is it an idea, a memory? How does one merge with Kyoto, how to slake this longing? How to hug all of Kyoto?

It happened to me once in Sikkim. We were winding down the hill with the river Teesta flowing by. We wanted pictures and the driver was obliged to drive on for a few kilometres before we came to a suitable vantage point. One spot that gave us a decent glimpse of the hills, the forests and the winding river. I was suddenly so impatient with it. I wanted to soar over the landscape, merge with every blade and drop... I wanted to become the valley and here I was, frustrated, limited to one little fenced off spot, straining to absorb it all.

This, I imagine, is the limitation of our sense perceptions. We can see the tree, but only one side of it, not what’s behind it. We cannot know it, we cannot become it – with this apparatus. We cannot know the tree, even if we have every cell of it under a microscope; we cannot know it in this way.

And so, although content with our little pockets of life, once in a while, when the cuckoo sings, we long for Kyoto.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Just back from Srimanthudu. It got good reviews and P decided this was the last chance she was going to give Mahesh Babu. As it turned out, ‘Prince’ redeems himself with an earnest, genuinely heroic role after that string of hero-valiant, seeti-maar, misogynist rubbish.

A nice story with a conscience, I was happy with most things about Srimanthudu, including the time they took to establish the hero’s dissatisfaction with the wealth his family urges him to enjoy. Like Siddhartha Gautama, a whiff of the outside world is enough to lure Harsha into trying to ease other people’s troubles. They’re family, he tells his father repeatedly, and he means it. A man with a capacity to adopt – truly adopt – an entire village. I found him inspirational.

I was less than enthralled with the numerous fight sequences and thoroughly disgruntled with the last one, a final confrontation with a barrage of menacing villains which should exhibited more brains than it did. Also a bit shocked that the resolution to the problem involved murder and arson!

Also, I wish I could have brought myself to like Shruti Hassan, because for once, here was a female lead with a story, a purpose and a mission. However, I found the actor’s puckered-lips reactions to every situation extremely distracting. (Why, why do they mess with the faces creation gave them?) Plus, I’m not a big fan of Tollywood’s female dubbing artistes, who can manage to ruin any talking part at all.

The Telugu industry is having a good run, isn’t it! 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

So it is

Broadband internet has been maddeningly erratic for the past three weeks. We have registered our complaint on at least four occasions with innumerable follow-up calls. They came again today and tinkered with a variety of options.
It seems to have worked. I've had uninterrupted connectivity for more than three hours now. The World of the Internet is open to me and, as it happens, I've nowhere to go.