Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Adventures in Semantics

The other day, I asked my son if he would like to attend a theatre workshop.

“What’s that?” he asked me.

“Well, you do a lot of fun things, and you get to act in a play,” I replied, feeling slightly guilty about neglecting his extra-curricular activities in the interests of free play.

“I’m already a good actor,” he boasted.

“Really? How come?”

“I can make acting rockets and acting pizzas.”

Right. This is all my fault. In his earliest years, I remember saying something was ‘acting this’ or ‘acting that’, to indicate that which is pretend, or not-real. I thought that sliding from that into ‘acting’ as ‘mimesis’ would be natural and painless. Wrong.

“You remember those ads you see on TV?” I asked him.

He looked blank. Joy and sorrow battled in my bosom. I was glad he didn’t watch enough TV to know almost by instinct, which ads I was talking about; at the same time, I wondered if I was putting him at a disadvantage; which kid these days doesn't knwo what acting is?!

“Like, when you see the ads for biscuits or chewing gum, after Tom and Jerry.”

Ah. Light shines.

“You know the kids in those ads? They’re your age, pretty much, and they’re acting. Someone tells them, eat this and look very happy, and they do it, even though they might not actually be feeling very happy.

“Or someone asks a boy to run and act as if he trips and falls. And even though there was nothing to make him trip, he acted as if something made him trip. You understand?”

He lay silent while digesting this significant difference between what was just pretend play (using an empty pichkari as an ‘acting-rocket’) and what was a pretence that was no different from ‘real’. In his mind, the play he indulged in was clearly make-believe. The word ‘acting’ stood in for something without any blurring of categories (unlike an acting Prime Minister, who stands in for the real thing, in very real ways!).
On the other hand, ‘acting’ in a play, or being a part of a theatre workshop, was fraught with much danger. If someone was supposed to ‘act’ sad, and managed to look like they were about to cry, how could he not be sad? How come the feeling in the one who watches this ‘acting’ is also so real?

I don't know when or how he will figure this out, but for now, he is very clear that theatre is not for him.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Morning

Quick notes from the tv room:

Didn't realise it was Oscar morning! Was all ready to do yoga when I realised the papers ere unusually full of Oscar news. You know what they say about blinding light.

Talking about which, this year, the Oscars are supposedly all 'green'. No, not Al Gore (though they're that too) but all green. What does that mean, really? That the stage is ill lit? Or that they use recycled bulbs? Whatever.

Ennio Morricone has just won the Lifetime Achievement Award. I loved the look of concentration on the audience's face, as it strained to understand what he was saying. As if a frown would somehow make Italian more comprehensible.

Gwynneth Paltrow's hair. What was with the one strand that kept swishing scross her face? And why is it called static electricity when, clearly, things don't stay static under its influence?

This is the first year that I haven't seen a single major nominated film. Not even Water. No, wait! I've seen Pirates of the Carribean and it won best sound editing and visual effects. Ha!

More later in the form of updates.

Friday, February 23, 2007

And the winner is...

...all sorts of people, some of whom I voted for, others for whom I didn't.

But faith in humanity restored by wins for 2x3x7 and no -- I can't actually say any other win restored any tissues. But I do wish there was some way this young man had won.

All results here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

written on the body

Something that I've been thinking about for a while now, is the ways in which a viewer studies a still image, and how s/he understands what is viewed. A title is often a handle a viewer can grasp to decode the image; but more usually the image lies somewhere beyond the realm of easily verbalised 'meanings'.

Which is why I found these images fascinating, because the use of the written word is central to the image itself. That both these images use languages I don't personally read or understand, does not make their use less powerful.

"Family Tree" (2001) © Zhang Huan.

Lalla Essaydi from "Converging Territories"No. 10

Just checked and saw that the Zhang Huan pictures were in the wrong order! No idea how that happened; apologies. Since I was restructuring that, I thought I may as well change the size of the Essaydi image.

Images via (Notes on) Politics, Theory and Photography, a blog that I follow with great interest.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year

Even if you are not Chinese.

See, the way I see it is, you've got to wish other people a Happy New Year on the following occassions: 1) 1st January 2) Chinese New Year 3) Onam 4) Baisakhi/Tamil New Year/Gudi Padwa and 5) one other random day in the year to signify one's understanding that every day is a bright new day which also coincidentally happens to be the beginning of the rest of one's life. This is so that one can sink into characteristic moroseness for the rest of the year, having done one's duty with stoicism and selflessness.

So, to all Pigs and other animals, in celebration...

...a story!


In one of the lesser-known legends, it once happened that the animals of the Chinese Zodiac had had enough of the adjectival abuse they were subject to. Snake was particularly bitter about being referred to as Treacherous Snake.

Dragon’s protest was a matter of form because there was something grand about being addressed as Fire-breathing Dragon.

Black Sheep, Greedy Pig, Mangy Dog and Snivelly Rat (along with Treacherous Snake) were the leaders, though there was no one to whom they could complain. Dark Horse and Mighty Ox were aristocratically aloof which annoyed the others.

Animals like Rabbit didn’t have any adjectives they wanted to lose. In fact, they’d have gladly exchanged their anonymity for notoriety.

That New Year, the animals decided to go to an old woman who, naturally, lived in a cave on an island in the middle of a misty lake way up North. After many arduous adventures they arrived at last at the old woman’s door—if a cave can be said to have a door.

The woman, annoyed at having been woken up, came out brandishing a lethal weapon unknown to man or beast, which she instantly flung at them. The Animals retreated, cowering. When they turned around, the woman had gone.

But their burdensome adjectives, golden, red and emerald, lay like prize pelts and the Animals slowly came back and started picking them up.

That is how Dark Horse became Black Horse, and Greedy Pig was now Fire-breathing Pig. Snivelly and Treacherous exchanged titles, and Rabbit became Mighty. No one was really happy, of course, except perhaps Horse, who, though he missed the mystery of being a Dark Horse, was quite content with being a neutral Black.

(this was written for the Kala Ghoda thingy last year).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

'What but tall tales'

Auden's centenary coming up on the 21st, and celebrations have begun at various places. Reading 'The Truest Poetry Is The Most Feigning' on Poitre, I was struck by the closing lines of the poem:

What but tall tales, the luck of verbal playing,
Can trick his lying nature into saying
That love, or truth in any serious sense,
Like orthodoxy, is a reticence?

I'm amazed by the ease with which the four lines flow, and the complexity they contain within the deceptive simplicity. The craft is not so much in the rhymes, but in the leaps it induces in the imagination to make the connections between a 'lying nature', the telling of 'tall tales, the luck of verbal playing' that leads to a statement whose truth is so seductive and layered: 'that love, or truth in any serious sense, like orthodoxy, is a reticence'.

It would appear that love, or truth can only be revealed by the elaborate embellishment of the things that surround it; that the thing itself can only be indicated but never said, expect with reticence.

And celebrating the centenary with a poem, is Todd Swift. This is how it begins. It is, as Todd says in his post, an early draft:

Auden In Snow

I’d love you until the snow turned black and white,
And history melted into a photograph. You come

Towards me, now no bigger than a thumb, coated
As shabbily as Delmore Schwartz, down some

Nameless New York street, from dive to blizzard,
Your face that familiar map of crumpled age,

As if your face was a torn out page manhandled
By a child with a distaste for verse circa 1930-1960;

The rest of the poem here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Impressions: Baby Haldar

“Don’t you find it tiring being asked the same questions again and again?” I asked Baby Haldar. We were sitting in the lobby of our hotel. This was the day after her conversation with Urvashi Butalia, presumably similar to the one they had in Jaipur and in countless other places.

“No,” Baby said. “I get asked the same questions, but for the people who ask, it is the first time. I always try and find something to say that I have not said before.”

Baby was waiting for some relatives to come and meet her, before she left for the University to meet a group of domestic workers. We were all about to leave for the morning session. Baby would follow later. “Will you be all right,” Urvashi asked, but it didn’t need asking. Baby sat on the sofa in the lobby and waited, not getting impatient or restless (as I would undoubtedly have been) or even slightly worried. She was totally calm.

The most fascinating thing about Baby is her self-confidence. I found her way of answering questions, sitting amongst a crowd of people she did not know, who were talking in a language she did not understand, utterly magnificent. Which is not to say she was indifferent; far from it. During her talk, there were moments of clear emotion: when she spoke about her mother, for instance. Or when someone said to her, “I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear about your book; to which she asked, eyes sparkling, “Pease tell me how happy. I also want to know!”

Urvashi, while talking about one aspect of the book, A Life Less Ordinary, said that one of the things that struck her about Baby’s writing was the matter-of-fact way she talked about violence or abuse: this happened, we went there, he broke my arm. As a feminist and a publisher, Urvashi said, she was struck anew by the ways in which violence was so much a part of Baby’s daily life that it was no longer a question of becoming inured to it; violence was undifferentiated from other aspects of her life.

I haven’t read the book as yet, but in light of the conversation and from what I saw of her, I’m wondering how such a contrast is possible. Someone else asked her if she didn’t feel any anger. To which she replied that had she been angry, she would probably not have been able to write. And I can believe it, though one has got used to the contrary view: that anger impels creativity, or ignites ideas; is, in some way, activity-generating.

Philosophically, I can understand the view that anger is to be let go of, that it is fundamentally destructive. But I also always believed that it is something one understood intellectually, something one never actually practised. The sense I got of Baby was that she really did have no anger in her. I wondered what the cost to herself was, to arrive at this position. Urvashi said that one of the narrative devices Baby often uses is to start speaking of herself in the third person, in times of acute emotional stress. This was, of course, not said in answer to my unvoiced wondering, so it really explains nothing.

Is Baby merely lucky? Is it happy chance that her employer encouraged her to write and passed on the results to people who might have been able to help in getting it noticed? Are other domestic workers’ lives any different? Probably not. But Baby is writing, and they aren’t. And I find that extraordinary.

Yesterday, I spoke to someone who had read the book, and she said that what was really interesting about Baby’s book was the way in which she told her story, as a story. “We know how to tell stories because we are used to hearing them,” she said, implying that even autobiographies can be artfully told, because we are used to hearing narratives structured in particular ways.

But I haven’t read the book. So I can’t be impressed by her writing abilities. I’m still trying to find out what I found amazing about the girl.

Watch That Space

Amit has moved here and taken with him (as contributors to one section of the site) Jai, Chandrahas, Falstaff, Prufrock Two, Nilanjana, Sonia and KM, among others.

Mock Turtle wonders how Falstaff will fight the urge to write 'negative things about stuff we don’t like' - one of the caveats on Amit's new blog, all in the interests of joyousness, upliftment and sexiness. Falstaff has vowed to disagree on Momus.

Neela, in the meanwhile, is bitterly convinced that all she will get in Raveout is 'an overdose of Sartre, Kafka, some unknown Israeli author and a few suicidal Eastern European filmmakers in there'.

Awaiting further developments with great interest, enthu and eagerness.

Watch that space.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Old Deuteronomy

Or more likely, one of his numerous progeny!

I was prowling around looking for a cyber cafe (which I never found) and found this fellow sunning himself. He was too lazy to move and I suppose because I was not standing in the way of the sun, he tolerated me.

On the same road, to the left of the frame, was a gate with a sign saying:

Mrs. Patwardhan, M.A. Tum-te-tum (Gold Medalist)

Tuitions for


Class X, XII

I love gold medalists. Wish I'd taken a photograph of that sign. But it's now on the list of opportunities lost.

Separate post on that coming up.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spaniard hates nostalgia

For the two days that I was in Pune, I was five minutes away from the Film Institute. Every day as all of us (about which more later) stuffed ourselves into a cab, I'd pick out landmarks and marvel at how little had changed at least on Prabhat Road. There was the National Film Archives building at the corner of the road, the old building grey and indistinguishable from the dust-covered trees; there was Vaastu Parichay, a firm of architects who'd just set up shop while I was at the Institute. Every so often, I'd get the feeling that I could just walk into someone's house and knock to say hello, just because their houses felt so familiar. It seemed impossible that they would not recognise, in return, someone who knew their place so well.

Of course, the Baristas and Cafe Coffee Days were clamouring to stand up and be counted - all places are now McCity, and Pune was just another dot on that map.

If we happened to be on Law College Road, we never made our way as far as the Institute. We usually turned off into a narrow gali a hundred yards away. I'd crane my neck to look past the banyan tree on the road, to see how things might have changed beyond where I couldn't see. Rajesh, the chaiwala, wasn't there. That much I could see. Neither was the son of one of the people in the camera dept., who would come every evening around six to sell hot, hot vada-pao with fried green chilis. Instead, there was one stall selling neera jal, but no one seemed to want any.

Yesterday, I finally had time to visit the Institute. I paid of the rick (see how I slip into Pune-ese?) and walked past the gates. No one stopped me, though I half expected they would. There were forbidding signs that asked you to report to the guard, and there was a kind of map of the campus. All new additions.

The first thing I looked out for was the tree that we had been told had died. It was one of two banyan trees that flanked the road and cupped it from above, as if it was one gigantic door we had to walk through. The top of one tree was certainly lopped of; obviously news of its death was premature. That was the good news.

What can I say? Perhaps it is never wise to look forward to something too much. In the ten years that I had not been to the Institute, it had not just become smaller (though god knws, I wasn't a child when I was there. Surely this truism ought not to apply to places you lived in when you were an adult?) it had simply mouldered.

The whole palce was unreal. Rana Saab's house, which was just to the left of the road that leads to the Girl's Hostel, had been converted into a post office. While was still fifty yards away, I was assailed by that long-unfelt feeling of unreality: had the post office near the gate shifted? No, obviously not; I remembered seeing a couple of people at the post office as I came in. Then this must have been a set. But so well done! And where was Rana Saab?

The Girls' Hostel still had the coin phone, which must be the most redundant piece of technology on campus. Someone was sitting on the bench outside, sending the inevitable sms. The irony was not only heavy-handed, it was wearying. The old entrance was locked. Gloria, the warden and life blood of the girl's hostel, was behind a desk that never used to be there. Tai was in the kitchen, making rotis like she always had.

That should have been reassuring. It was merely sad. I left my bag on Gloria's desk and walked up to the Editing Department, to see if there was anybody I still knew. Walking past the wisdom tree, a strange feeling came over me. I wanted to turn tail and run. I had nothing to do with this place anymore, or what it did. Who would I meet, and what would I say to them? Above all, I hate explaining what I do for a living and where I am and what has happened in my life in the last decade. Why would I put myself in a position where such explanations were inevitable?

Before I could make any decisions, I saw Lawrence - Assistant Prof then, and HOD now. I'm sure there are people who like to be told they were mistaken for a first year student, especially when they have left that stage of their lives behind a long time ago, but I am not one of them. It only made me feel that I'd narrowly escaped being ragged by those people I saw hanging out under the wisdom tree.

Reading over what Ive written so far, I've realised one of the things that threw me off centre about being at the institute: do you get the feeling that I'm not communicating very well, except perhaps to other film institute people? What's this with widome trees and referring to a film school that has a name, as just 'the institute' as if everyone else ought to recognise its worth just by the casual gravitas with which one throws out the phrase?

The whole place was like that: like a dinosaur assured of it's continued existence, certain about itself and unable to see itself for the dying moster it has become. Perhaps I'm being harsh. But the sense of decay and stagnation I got from being there was enormous and claustrophobic.

After lunch with Gloria (whom it is always a joy to see), I left, trying to cover up my unseemly hurry with well-worn excuses. Packing, travel jitters. Hosts keeping an office open just for me.

Outside the gates, walking past all the places I used to know, I allowed for a familiar nostalgia that I'd been feeling the last two days. It felt great. The nostalgia came clear and sweet in the places that had changed. And as for what hadn''s tragic, but it only made me shudder.


Just returned from Pune to discover that not only have I won a prize in the Kala Ghoda-Caferati SMS Poetry Competition (and no, I'm not going to tell you which one), I find I'm nominated in the Humanities category of the Indibloggies.

Thanks and all that, but how to choose, no? SO many great blogs in this category. I've noticed over the last year that it's customary to either wring your hands with Uriah Heep-ish modesty and disclaim all responsibility for the worth of one's blog because, after all, it's all due to the wonderful readers who ought to get the award instead; or to state with refreshing honesty that they would like you, dear reader, to vote for them with no delay.

I shal make no such claims or entreaties. I've shared my surprise with all of you, and now I've much gossip to share from Pune.

Watch this space.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Doors Of Perception Conference, 28 Feb-4 Mar

(Disclosure: I work with CKS on projects from time to time. CKS is the Indian partner and organiser of the Doors of Perception Conference.)

The Doors of Perception Conference is an annual event that has been taking place for the last eight years. Every year, the Doors Conference brings together designers, architects, writers, filmmakers, people working in the NGO sector, and most importantly, tech innovators, to talk to each other and about several other things.

Each year, these ‘other things’ are broadly brought under one thematic umbrella. This year, the theme is Juice. The focus of the conference this year is to find ways to re-design and use technology to discuss solutions to the growing crisis concerning food and energy.

Last year I was supposed to do a workshop on Text and Image and I passed that up for what I thought was going to be a good, huge, amazing, superlatively enormous (ya, well, ok) project. Needless to say, the huge amazing project fell through and all the people who might have signed up for a damned good workshop will never know what they missed.

This year, I wasn't asked to do a workshop, because clearly, though I can put some food on the table - edibility guaranteed - I have no gyan to offer on any of the design, architectural, academic etc. possibilities to make the production of it less wasteful and more sustainable.

So, the least I can do is pass on the word to anybody who might be interested in participating.

From the press release:

When an iceberg lettuce is shipped from its US greenhouse to Harvey Nichols Food Hall in London, 127 calories of energy are used in its shipping and merchandising for every one calorie of nutrition that enters your mouth. There are 52 transport and process stages in one bottle of ketchup. The CO2 emissions attributable to producing, processing, packaging and distributing the food consumed by a family of four is about 8 tonnes a year.

The number of food miles has increased by 15% in the ten years to 2002. 19 million tons of CO2 emitted from foods transport in 2002. Household and individual trips to
grocery stores and other food outlets contribute a significant portion to urban transportation volume. San Franciscans made approximately 4 million trips to shop for food and non-food items in 1990 (23% of all trips) about 86%-in private automobiles. Food waste including food packaging makes up close to a third of the total waste that ends up in many city landfills thereby and deprives households and farmers of a valuable organic fertilizer. City water pollution problems are exacerbated when chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used on farms in the city’s region.

City households spend from 10 to 40% of their income after taxes on food purchases for the home and meals outside the home. Food sector establishments such as restaurants, fast food outlets, supermarkets, specialty food stores, taverns, and food wholesalers are an important part of any city's economy. And yet one fourth to one half of elderly patients in the US suffer from malnutrition rates ranging from 25 to

In reaction to these unsustainable trends, demand is growing for living arrangements involving food co-ops, collective kitchens and dining rooms, community gardens, and other enhancements of community food systems.

Oh, did I say? this is happening in Delhi, 28th Feb to 4th March, ending with one hell of a Holi party. Sigh.

Here's where you go for:

The complete Programme

Registrations (if you're from outside India)

Registrations (India and South Asia)

That's The Doors 9 Conference from the 28th of Feb until the 4th of March.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Words Without Borders goes graphic in Feb

"Our first foray into international graphic writing finds work antic and sober, documentary and fanciful, all combining words and images to singular narrative effect. "

And do please check out this one! It's amazing.


An evening with Lemn Sissay

Midway through his reading, Lemn Sissay stops for a sip of water. “I’m all to pieces today” he says. If he is, it doesn’t affect his performance one whit.
It is dusk. We’re in the open air amphitheatre at Saptaparni, and the lights have just been turned on. The six steps in a half-circle are all full. I’m amazed at this turn out for a poetry session. In Hyderabad, it needs a celebrity, or the sop of some other event (like the opening of an art exhibition) to induce people to come and listen to poetry.
Maybe Lemn’s reputation precedes him, but it is unclear how. Yes, his poetry adorns the buildings of Manchester and the subways in London and people read out 'Invisible Kisses' to each other as a marriage vow; but how would Hyderabad know?

Whatever the reason, the amphitheatre is full and people are waiting. Lemn bounds in, stands on stage for a minute while he is being introduced, but quickly walks off and sits among the audience.
“Can I go out and come back on as if I’ve just arrived?” he asks the audience. The audience, willing to be entertained, as they’re sure they’re going to be, say yes.

Lemn starts and in less than a minute I can see the audience is rapt. Sometimes he reads his poems, but most often, he speaks them. Actually, that’s a pale word; when Lemn recites his poetry, the words leap out with energy and grace as Lemn’s voice moves along an astonishing vocal scale. I can see some people in the audience tapping their feet. Zadie Smith said of Eminem once, that he ‘can rhyme 14 syllables a line’; Lemn can go for pages with a clear, strong beat sounding through the sense of the words, making your heart beat ever so slightly faster.

When he reads ‘Invisible Kisses’, he says, “When I go to conferences where I am to represent the ethnic minority, I always read a love poem. I want the right to read love poetry.” A little later, he says, “I am a black man. But when I say this, people either say they’re colour blind, or they say, ‘no, no, no! You’re a human being.” One lady in the audience suggests that he is being over-sensitive. Lemn says in reply that people should be able to define themselves in any way they like; that to say one is a woman or black does not make them less of a human being.

Lemn goes on with the reading, but perhaps he is right and he is a little to pieces. All his books have sold out in Bangalore. There were no books on sale in Delhi, and there are none here. All he has is a sheaf of printouts of his poems, and one set of books borrowed from the local British Library. Ten minutes into the reading, the sheaf of papers are scattered over the floor. Some poems lie precariously on the edge of the table that’s been provided to house a bottle of water and his bouquet of flowers. When Lemn wants to read another poem, he bends and rummages amongst the poems at his feet. A breeze blows and I’m more concerned that the poems might take flight and we’d all have to give chase.

He demands our participation, but we’re not required to pick up pieces of paper after all. ‘Black is’ is a list poem. Lemn asks us to shout ‘Black is’ while he completes the sentence. A little shy at first, but more vocal as the poem begins, we yell with enthusiasm: ‘Black is…’

How can I explain in what way this makes a difference? It does. When we start his sentences for him, the words send a frisson down our spines as if we had written those words for him. So this is performance poetry.

But Lemn claims that what he does is not performance poetry. There’s no such thing as performance poetry, he says. “When you read, you are what you were when you wrote it.” In India, perhaps those writing poetry in other languages than English know this. But I’d only ever been to readings where poets (writing in English, I hasten to add) either read out their poems from the page in a flat, uninflected voice, or let each word drop deliberately into the silence with the clarity of a stone falling into a pond.

Almost and hour and a quarter later, we come to the end of the reading. Lemn gives away the poems he’s been reading from the printouts and signs them for us. Lakshmi from Akshara says she’s ordered Lemn Sissay’s books. But that’s a wait of at least a few months. It appears that someone cannot wait; when there are five people left around him, Lemn discovers that some lady has walked off with his book, Rebel Without Applause.

Lemn reads for school children on the 8th at 10am at the Grand Kakatiya Sheraton in Begumpet.

And here is a poem he did not read but which he gave to me – ‘Colour Blind’:

If you can see the sepia in the sun
Shades of grey in fading streets
The radiating bloodshot in a child’s eye
The dark stains in her sheets
If you can see oil separate on water
The turquoise of leaves on trees
The reddened flush of your lover’s cheeks
The violet peace of calmed seas

If you can see the bluest eye
The purple in the petals of the rose
The blue anger, the venom, of the volcano
The creeping orange of the lava flows
If you can see the red dust of the famished road
The white air tight strike of Nike’s sign
If you can see the skin tone of a Lucien Freud
The colours of his frozen subject in mime

If you can see the white mist of the oasis
The red, white and blue that you defended
If you can see it all through the blackest pupil
The colours stretching, the rainbow suspended
If you can see the breached blue of the evening
And the caramel curls in the swirls of your tea
Why is it you say you are colour blind
When you see me?

Here is Len Sissay’s website (his blog’s on my blogroll) and here is an interview with the BBC where he talks about his childhood.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Photo post: for Surabhi

Since Surabhi asked, and how can I refuse; since I'm simmering with all kinds of other furies which I will allow to marinate before I serve; and because if I write, I mix metaphors with the crazed abandon of an amateur cook on speed; and since I'm clearly hungry and need to have my breakfast, like, one hour ago... post!

This was taken for an exhibition of my photographs in 2003, called Voices and Data in India (organised by CKS, Bangalore) Much fun was had doing this one. In a lane that leads off to the left of the Charminar, a few hundred feet beyond a garbage dump, is this little, segregationist telephone booth. Another fortuitous moment there.

This is from even longer ago; at theInstitute, in fact. For anyone who wants to know, this is between the old sound dept. and the camera dept. How I love black and white!

More photos once I take them. On account not having scanned old ones, can't put more.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


The British Library in Hyderabad has an annual sale of books they withdraw from circulation. For some reason, I've never managed to go to one of these sales before. This morning, I left in what I thought was good enough time, only to find a snaking queue outside the door to the (as yet unopened) library.

Within five minutes of getting into the room they'd put the books in, I had trouble holding on to all the books I'd selected. Cutting to the chase, this is what I picked (luckily for me, there was no scrum around the poetry table!):

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion (about which book Martin Amis has very nasty things to say, I suspect with good reason.A review here)

High Windows - Philip Larkin

Collected Poems - Les Murray (the one with the elephant on the cover).

New Selected Poems - Edwin Morgan

The Spirit Level - Seamus Heaney

Selected Poetry and Prose - Wilfred Owen (ed Jennifer Breen)

1914 and Other Poems - Rupert Brooke

Moortown Diary - Ted Hughes

Zoo - Tobias Hill

Collected Poems 1956-1994 - Thomas Kinsella

The Dead Sea Poems - Simon Armitage

Transformatrix - Patience Agbabi

The Clever Daughter - Susan Wicks

The Tightrope Wedding - Michael Laskey

The Mechanical Body - John Fuller

The Weather In Japan - Michael Longley

The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You - Paul Farley

Approximately Nowhere - Michael Hofmann

Sixty Women Poets - ed. Linda France

Penguin Modern Poets Vol 2: Carol Ann Duffy, Vicki Feaver, Eavan Boland

Transfigured Night - William Boyd

Ways Of Belonging - Eunice De Souza

The Transfiguring Places - Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Two plays by Beckett; two Martin Amis; two Christopher Isherwood; two Conrad; the Claudius omnibus; two Civil Lines and a couple of other books.

links will happen later, by magic if it were possible. I feel exhausted now.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

and talking about Final Solution... is the two-and-a-half-hour version on Google Video.