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Sunday, November 20, 2016


If systems are religious and become ritualistic and limnal, do not benefit the parish of learners, such systems must die; contributions and associations to such schools must stop; system must be deemployed if a complete cold reboot is not possible because the architecture resists such reboot designs. Church is but a metaphor in this post for any establishment. I have been witness to one such and was given a cold bath yesterday...

I've always known one cannot fly with turkeys; but, the moment of epiphany is when the realisation dawns that those around you are turkeys. At least, those ruling the roost are turkeys, Orwellian pigs and dogs that would piss on the blueprint when it is not conducive to their egoistic parasitism and predatorial social climbing instincts. You take a decision then: DO NOT fly with turkeys anymore.!

A system that is non-inclusive either at ideological or at practical level is what fuels factions, divisions, partitions; especially when that system harbours cheap ideas of reparations of perceived harms of the past, now that those ruling the roost for the day come to believe they have the power to abuse, however temporarily, to score a pyrrhic victory.

A system that does not want to encourage a pan-systemic fabric in the interests of all stakeholders, but only attempts to foster one in order to protect its interest is myopic. It only wants to include others at their own terms. Such a system is not interested in the long term development of a culture, but works to ensure that the power centre stays with the founders. Such a system is controlled periodically or cyclically by short-sighted minds that wants to ensure their relevance and is its own cancer.

We are living in such times under such systems from local to global, national to universal, notional to empirical. We are living in such matrices as need to be either overthrown or shirked. I was witness to one such very recently and one such that I WAS glad to be a part of and contribute to in the past; a system that is no more open to improvements but is mired in its own bog of physiological growth into bureaucracy that does not anymore aim to foster the growth of its ultimate, purported recipients: learners!

The founding fathers and mothers have long deserted in foresight, surrogate suppliants cyclically lord over ensuring the inorganic degeneration. The gods of rationale and wisdom too would soon desert them. Newer parallel systems would perhaps overtake. Pity to what could have been!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Challenge Before Us Today...

What we need to teach the children today is the difference between reality and the ideal.

The ideal is to be sought after, striven for, even worked towards; however, it is also essential to show the children the need and importance of accepting reality (at its face value) and learn to live with it, in it.

There is nothing wrong in wanting everything and desiring to do that which only appeals to us. Though, the reality does not pan out that way; to accept their unwillingness to come to terms with the needs of reality and not wanting to do what they do not like to do, in the short or longer run, would eventually lead to delusions; to become unable to live life as it is and at its own terms; to be left behind; to become escapist and ultimately, as failures.

Failure in what sense: in a practical sense. Sometimes, thus, the visionaries of a system must accept that we need to thrust upon children what they may not like, but must learn to do, precisely because they do not know the need to be reality-compliant. To do is more important than to dislike. Else, the future is fragile!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Jose, his Posse and the £600 Million Derby

Jose, his Posse and the £600 Million Derby

“.…. Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy forever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,
Infernal world! And thou profoundest Hell,
Receive thy new possessor - one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time,
The mind in its own place and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven,
What matters where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder had made greater?”

These iconic lines from John Milton’s Paradise Lost resounded in my mind as I watched the GW4 mother-of-them-Derby-of-all… There was one moment… Goal # 2 for the once noisy neighbours… from the 19 year old Iheanacho, when all eyes were hopefully poised on another teenager, in Red: Marcus Rashford… It is a very fascinating study for the future how we are going to be witnessing these two blooming legends of Manchester. More interesting for me is how Rashford is so eulogised for those not too infrequent goals that do not very justify the whole 90 minutes he gets to play while Kelechi is always always subbed in the second half for a while and always always scores and assists or scorest/assists. But that is a stuff of discussion elsewhere. Back to the Derby, back to the moment! That very moment of Goal #2, the camera panned not to the Red side of touchline to show the managerial reaction, but to a wincing Sir Fergie in the stands, who knowingly and helplessly nodded his head. Epiphanic moment!

In football, as in life, there are three types of managers: the Fergie type - God. Rules. Omnipotent. They hold the system by its proverbial balls; the Wenger type - Suave. Honest. Tireless like Boxer in Animal Farm. Convinced about his ideals, confused about priorities. They are the eternal romantics. They are the Dantons who could have changed the course of the French Revolution! And then there are the Archangels… after they fell. Made a demi-god by those on whose side they are, these are the managers everybody who is not a papparazzi and who is on the other side of the mystical lake of silverware love to hate because they are not on the right side.

As a little digression, these other-siders also at times consider the greener grass on the banks of the lake as a result of septic tank fertility. Losers! But digressions aside, these Archangels before and after Fall… they sooner than later move from being The God’s Chosen Ones, from The Special One to the Falling One! You get the picture what or who this post is about!

Back in the early Noughties of this Millennium, Paradise Beckoned. Silverwares won. Soon after, Paradise Lost. Then again Paradise Regained. And then… Paradise Replicated. It is an eternal Work in Progress, this Paradise business! And tiresome it can be… moving from the Theatre of ‘realised’ Dreams, getting from being burnt on The Bridge, to the Theatre of ‘high pressure’ Dreams. In doing so, you are entering a land of indolent race that is privileged to think of itself as a special race thanks to a glorious past.

At the beginning was Porto. 2002. Then came The Bridge. Now the Theatre. It’s show time.

One of the most charismatic trouble-magnets, ‘the choice and master spirit of (his) age,’ how will Jose Mourinho cope? At The Bridge, if Terry was the Captain Leader Legend, Mourinho was the Hero Villain Entertainer. His touchline rants and shunts with Pep and Wenger are stuff of saleable soundbytes. The special, not-so-perfect Ariel he was, his tantrums, grumbling, whining, moaning interviews, bullying and blame-games post-matches did not befit the role. More the Caliban! Most people came to think of Jose Mourinho as more of a Ruffian on the Stair who kept throwing stones at other’s windows than a Prospero of magic and miracles: every time, towards the end of his exit. Yes, one could see the pattern, the cycle, the mosaic. First the ascend. Then the glory. Soon it all went gory.

If ever there was a concoction of heady Shakespearean enfant terrible, Jose it was. Iago in his unflinching beliefs, Macbeth in unrelenting ambition, Tubal in his taunts… but never a Hamlet. What a fall there was, gentlemen! His last days at The Bridge in 2014-15 made him a prattling Lear!!

One wondered: what next! What awaits? Away from The Bridge, he wandered around like Kaspar, the lost child of Europe, with the Albatross round his neck, like a mad-eyed Mariner. He was even being hazardously accused of spoiling the Eden. And then came the rumours. Who will be his Professor Daumer? Pep was headed to the noisy neighbourhood, Klopp was at the Kop, whither Jose? Haunting the streets of London, he was sighted by The Sun and the Daily Mail sparing saucy soundbytes.

Finally, the Glazers showed up. The Spoilt Ones, desperate to regain the Championship seat and lost glory, saw in him the Saviour. And thus… Manchester United Ho! Between him and the Castle stand several Bowzers: Guardiola, Klopp, Conte, Poch, Koeman… and some keen and lesser mortals with hidden spanners! And that man, who like Count Vlad, now that he’s tasted blood, would want another shy - the Professorial Ranieri. What ho, Claudio!

At the time of getting minted, the Derby has already been lost. We wonder what the post-conference wine would taste like!!

Will Jose? Will he not? He has the arms, ammunitions and the tanks this time. Would there be fighting or just grumbling, whining, moaning, bullying touchline skirmishes, blaming umpires and linesmen… and some more grumbling, whining, moaning etc? The Special One has the Talented but ageing Wayne, the Tireless Juan, the self-proclaimed Legend Zlat, the Emerging Marcus and some more. It can’t be that difficult, with the sensible Armenian too!!! Let’s wait and watch, the game is on. Will it be all talks R.I.P or another W.I.P? Would he say…

“What matters where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder had made greater?”

Would he? After all…

The mind in its own place and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

The signs are encouraging. The start looks promising. It’s up to him and his posse. C’mon, Jose!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our strange democracy

A lot of razzmatazz is being thrown into the JNU issue. It is plain and clear that the minority Opposition has once again managed to upstage the actual issue. Umar Khalid has quietly gone off the radar, Kanhaiya Kumar has been pushed to the center of the storm conveniently for the anti-BJP Inc. to mount an assault on the Parliament precinct with the next election in mind. The actual issue of Afzal Guru, the Kashmir separation agenda, separatist propaganda on Indian soil by Kashmiris (who in this case did not come from JNU and consider themselves Kashmiris not Indians and hence any expression by them in Delhi or any other part of India that is not Kashmir is anti-national activity, since they aim it so!) have all been quietly consigned to non-issue. As usual a lot of importance to the (secondary) messenger is being given and everyone is aiming their guns at the messengers and the recipients, rather than the sender of this missive. 

Today it ridiculously has come to the state that a lot of Indian citizens want to question and debate on the notion of What is India? At a time when we must be, like China and Japan, South Korea and other progressive nations, be discussing the one-point of agenda of how to make our nation strong, these politicians with nothing else but political divisiveness on their minds are opportunistically manipulating this freedom of expression thingie. Is this required? Have we become so reactionary, emotionally susceptible to being brainwashed by the political forces who really do not care for the existing national identity purely because it is not convenient that they are not in the seat of power? Do we even have the spine to call ourselves rational beings, falling for these cheap-tricks by phoney cardsharps who claim themselves the good samaritans of the country? Is this democracy?

A democracy, by definition, is that where there is opportunity and scope for peoples of all genders, faiths and classes to participate in the majority. Now the situation we have is this: one group that has been in the majority is afraid that another group MAY become equal if not insidiously dominant; their case is vindicated by the example of Kashmir; then there is another group that has so long been on the minority because, at some point, their founding fathers wanted to shy away from forming the core of nation-building when they had the opportunity and reinvented the wheel aka Pakistan. A majority of this minority that did not fit their vehicle with the reinvented wheel, lives in the rest of the country besides Kashmir, wants to have equal if not dominant status. However, their heart is rent between fighting for the majority status quo of the majority minority, viz their Kashmiri brethren, than changing their own minority minority status quo into equal majority. Inside this scenario we have the majority and the minority fighting on religious preferences than economic. Looking at this conundrum from the periphery, there is a third group, who has no ideals, credo or canons but a vote-bank sense of ruler ship and manipulates the sentiments of the minority, the which the periphery successfully divided into two different minority. Now it is altogether a different matter that the second minority, that has been made to live with delusions as the real minority, is the majority in some states. So how do we get out of this state? 

Get the third party out. This sounds like the story of the cat that helped the two monkey come to a conclusion on how best to share their food, right? Of course, the third party had given us a sense of themselves as the center of gravity. But 'things fall apart, the center cannot hold... the beast turned towards (proverbial Bethlehem and had) its Second Coming.' As a result, sanity and sense of order was restored and the periphery was dumped back to the margins. With it trying to claw back to center, it is time for the original two to come together and stay together. A start has been made. All reconciliations are difficult to start with, but if persisted with, will settle down given time and patience. Hope similar starts can happen in Assam and elsewhere in North-East too!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Musing about random ideas

Everyone says, when they are slighted or appalled by anything they think is wrong with society, 'What? In this day and age? In 21st Century...!'

I ask: What is this forced mystique about 21st century? Is it just a number in the mind? Isn't everything in the mind?  If it's not 21st century, is it OK to have those whatever-malaises the people, the press asks the so-called oppressed or denied or marginalised about?

We used to say, how can evils persist. This is 20th Century. Now it is 21st Century? Does the passage of time automatically mean progressive minds?

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Henrietta Horn - Contemporary Tanztheater Artist

The second person I am featuring here is Ms. Henrietta Horn - the famed Tanztheater artist from Germany. She was the co-artistic director at the Folkwang Tanzschule Essen of Pina Bausch alongside Pina Bausch from 1999 - 2008 as biography would show.

I do not know her personally. I was once introduced to her at the lawns of Max Mueller Bhavan at KNK by Prasanna Ramaswamy very briefly when she was in Madras and presented three of her solo pieces at a very casual evening in front of a few select audience. I do not remember the year a-tall...

Then in 2004, I had the fortune of being at Duesseldorf for 4 months, visiting and associating with theatre artists and artists in general all round NRW area. On Dec 8th or 10th I do not remember exactly, I was at Essen to watch Ms. Horn's Artichokes in Silver Sea - one of her lighter works, she being a quite intense artiste - as part of the Essen-Werden Tanzfest. It was a pure delight later after the show when I went backstage and met her briefly and got her autograph at the back of this little showbill.

Thanks Prasanna-ma. It was a fantastic 4 months visiting K-20 and K-21 and other places, getting to see the works of masters such as the whole Expressionistic canon, Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian... (the list is very long) in person, at touching distance. Thanks to Frau Rahimi who was the head at MMB then. KNK MMB brings a lot of flooding memories! The reason why I pulled this out is a bit oblique. I received invite from Mr. Sadhanand Menon for the recent exhibition at Spaces. Thinking of the great legend Ms. Chandralekha led me to think of only one other person I know - Prasanna-ma, which inevitably for some reason led me to think of Pina Bausch (I remember fondly doing a lot of odds and bits backstage work during Nelken - Carnations - India tour of Pina Bausch & Co back in 90s) and in turn triggered this memory of meeting Henrietta Horn.

The Portrait of a Photographer as an Artist - Mohan Das Vadakkara

Today, my walk down the past lane takes me to putting in front of a whole new generation of young audience two people. The first person I introduce here. The second one in another separate post. 

One I have very personal acquaintance with and have had the opportunity of laughing, kidding around, fighting, having my works watched, analysed, photographed, videographed.... and whom a whole lot of Madras artists are familiar with. I consciously use the word Madras, even though you could have noticed my posts refer to my beloved city more as Madras and only when talking of contemporary inevitables as Chennai. No artist who has walked the Theatre in specific and Arts scene in the city will be unfamiliar with his work or him in person. A very genial, humble and knowledgeable person, I fondly call him as padakkaaran... Mohan Das Badagara. 

The accompanying photos are from a random album of his I chanced upon to take along with me, when Max Mueller Bhavan cleared up from KNK to its current residence. 



I bought a horde of German books for pittance, was gifted a horde of books - both in German and in English by a lot of Heads there from Herr Augustin, Herr Schindler, Frau Behlke, Frau Wetzkubach, Frau Rahimi.... as and when they left Madras for another pasture. Also, when MMB moved from KNK they were throwing away such a load of things because 1) they were old, anachronistic 2) they couldn't find place for those 3) the new place was getting digitised. So, like many a person, I also became richer with books, posters, media. 

One of those riches in the middle of rags was this album by Mohan Das. It is a simple collection of faces and places. I haven't met him in a while. Am sure he is quietly around at rehearsals, film festivals, art shows, theatre performances clicking away like there is no tomorrow, unassumingly, as he always does. He always tells me the need to buy printed photos, burned DVDs of performances in preservable copy saying "pinnaale venumna kedaikaadhumaaa.... negatives enga pogumnu solla mudiyaadhu, tapes enge pogum, memory card eppo erase aagum..." (later if you need you won't get, negatives and raw data files being erasable!). So I believed him and I BELIEVE HIM because after 25 years of being around, I realise the importance of old materials. I have materials - books, show tickets, fliers, program bills, souvenirs, photographs I myself took, bus tickets on the back of which several artists drew casual sketches and threw away which are documents now, plain paper sheets and tissue papers on which people like Mitran (Devanesen) and others drew stage and set first sketches.... so on and so forth. From 60s (when I hadn't even started taking firmer steps)... till 2006. After that I stopped collecting except those I own from my company. There are too many artists in the business now to keep track of and I lost the excitement of watching many of the theatre shows because they are purely of no aesthetic value to me and commerce never really excites me. 

Anyway, back to Mohan Das. I have some old random pictures. I hope you enjoy these. Some of these have solid history behind them. Notice how his places and facades have the same personality and character as some of the faces he captured. PLEASE FEED ME YOUR THOUGHTS AND VISIT HIS FB PAGE AND GIVE HIM A PAT FOR HIS UNFLINCHING STAND. He's been a very unassuming but steadfast soldier among people of his tribe. Like an artist refusing to budge to the demands of commoditisation making aesthetic works even when there is no cash in the bank or gas in the vehicle tank, he has been plugging away stolidly. As against a lot of photographers I have known started with lofty ambitions and have ended up shooting all kind of things and people for the lure of filthy lucre indiscriminately, Mohan Das is an artist among photographers in the same breath as a lot of documentary film makers, theatre directors who choose their work with a certain politics at heart and mind. Soldier on Badagara...