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Controversy’s children

From my TOI blog : Freeze Frame

She has done it again; she has adopted a child again. Who? Who else, but Controversy. This time it is  the reclusive author Rohinton Mistry and his Booker nominated novel, ‘Such a Long Journey’ and Controversy has taken them under her wings , thereby adding them to her already burgeoning brood. And there sits her impish little sister, Curiosity, in a dark corner of the human heart, craftily stoking the fire of inquiry. Once again the sisters, Controversy and Curiosity, are back to their crafty conspiracies.

source : http://bit.ly/bokrFt

Thanks to them, the book that had perhaps done brisk business in its hey-day, in 1991, is back into circulation again.  Those who had already read the book long ago are re-reading it; some who had given it a pass then, are picking it up to read the relevant passages ; and a few who have woken up to the book now, thanks to Controversy and Curiosity, want to read the book to get ahead of others ; while others covet it with the sole intent of adding ‘value’ to their bookshelves or their social conversations.Thus, by the end of the week that just went by, the bookstore in my suburban neighbourhood had run out of their stock of the book, as had most bookshops across Maximum City, and now they have a long list of book-lovers to keep informed as they wait patiently for their copies.

Others in the urge to know more about Mistry and to quieten Curiosity’s voice, have bookmarked relevant pages of news , ‘Google’-ed him and are lapping up all that is new about him and Controversy. From here on, it will be difficult for Mr. Mistry to remain a recluse  anymore. In other words, we have him under the scanner and  are keeping a close watch on each of his moves and counter moves.  Why? Because Curiosity softly whispers in our ears, ‘What do you think will happen next?’

And, this is how Controversy and Curiosity, the two crafty sisters, make us behave in times like this. Let’s accept it, we all love a healthy dose of Controvesy in our lives. How else do you expect to us to react to Controversy’s brood?  How else does one justify the urge to look up every detail of Sunanda Pushkar’s life the first time her name came up alongside the dapper Mr Tharoor? And did we stop after Mr Tharoor relinquished his position thanks to the ‘sweaty’ IPL encounter or chase them all the way to the proverbial alter? Didn’t our very own Controversy’s child, Rahul Mahajan, become the nation’s Ladla, as he appeared on national television, week after week, to select a bride for himself? And when he beat up his newly-wedded wife, only to apologize in front of a live media audience, didn’t he make it to the front page of national dailies, day after day?

There is a pattern that we need to notice here: Why are we, as social animals, so interested in Lalit Modi and want to know every minute detail about his private life, his assets, the wild IPL parties (that most of us couldn’t attend, but may have liked to!) and his private jet?  Why otherwise would Controversy’s ‘wilder children’ the world over hog the limelight thus? Why would we find the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Kate Moss, George Michael, Amy Winehouse, Charlie Sheen crowding the pages of our national dailies day after day? Why is it that Tiger Woods, Wayne Rooney and Jeffery Archer have their private life open to scrutiny? Or closer to our very own shores M F Hussein, Taslima Nasreen or Salman Rushdie or for that matter Adnan Sami, Vijay Mallya or Salmaan Dabaang Khan?  Because Controversy has adopted them and follows them around. Also because Curiosity keeps Controversy alive. And because we are by nature slaves to Curiosity, we love to love them, hate them, follow every story about them, all those who become Controversy’s children, wild or otherwise.

(Tiger Woods http://bit.ly/bFBEah)  (MF Hussain  http://bit.ly/d3WNOz)  (Paris Hilton http://bit.ly/b3cvZh)

Which brings me back to Controversy’s latest child, Rohinton Mistry,  a recluse is far from his siblings, Controversy’s  other wild children. But with Rohinton Mistry’s statement today, it seems Controversy has clearly picked her favourite well and is not going to give up so soon. Curiosity smiles, draws us closer and whispers in our ears, ‘I want to know more’. So, we are not giving up on him either, not so soon. We are going to keep a close watch, Curiosity & us, on Controversy and her new child.


(Rohinton Mistry http://bit.ly/a5YAq1)

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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Books, Calcutta, humor, Mumbai

 

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My Kind of Girl

I remember starting to read a book a long time ago, Moner moto Meye by Buddhadab Bose. I also remember abandoning it midway. Pining about unrequited love, hopelessly brooding about “love is somewhere else, in the distance, even if maybe it’s only a wish for love, only imagination – not real” – all that had not made any sense then, when I was all of 19.

Recently I read the same book in English, My Kind of Girl, translated into English by Arunava Sinha. I picked it up from where I had left it at 19. Now I discovered the picture painted in those pages, the poetry hidden in the prose. Buddhadeb Bose’s “moner moto meye” (loosely meaning a girl to my heart) remained “moner moto” – a beautiful picture, most often out of reach, a memory of youth, a memory of the brush with love for the first time, rekindled in the minds of four Benagali babus spending a wintry night together in a railway waiting room, suddenly stirred  out of the abyss of their middle aged mind by a newly wed couple who “stood there for just a few moments, said something softly before they turned and left”.  And “that seemed to blow a breath of warm air through the wintry waiting room” and they embarked on a journey of sharing their stories. The stories shared over steaming cups of coffee revolved around  each of their “Kind of Girl”  and why they  all “wanted to see her for one time as a real person”.

The language was simple, only at rare occasions with a small twist or a quick turn of phrase which made the experience real, the image real, making the book un-putdownable. I could almost read the Bengali phrase hidden in the English words. I visited Paltan in 1927, I sat and watched Makhanlal’s father clean out a big platter of food accompanied by several bowls of delicacies and then “embracing … bolsters in readiness for … sleep” – images that are typically Bengali but sincerely rendered in English.

“Is the memory of happiness that has passed, happy or sad?”

It spoke to me, I felt the thrill of love, and I felt the pain, the hopeless hope, the fear to accept love and then regretting it, rejection in love and the bravado in the face of it. It was alive with  images of middle class Bengali life in the middle of the 20th century, the restrictive norms of rights and wrongs passed on to  the younger generations so that they too stuck to their middle ground and chose the easy over the right.

The book also had it’s light, breezy moments when the fickle female heart found respite in the obvious, the regular, the ordinary – or whimsically soared, being the object of affection of three not so urban males only to be swept off her feet by someone “Fair of skin, dressed in a dhoti and kurta made with a fine material, he turned your heart into a flying bird with a subtle fragrance if you went near him.”

I do not regret not reading the book back then, when I was 19. It may not have spoken to me the way it did now and I may not have listened to it with rapt attention as I did now.

Moner moto meye

 

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