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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.

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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  (MF Hussain  (Paris Hilton

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

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


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Kites, actually.

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If you step into the older alleys of Calcutta, just when the sun has tilted beyond the horizon in the western sky, on any given summer day, you will  find the light, paper creatures taking over the sky, one kite at a time, filling up each corner of the sky. Restless boys have waited this long, for the sun to mellow and the wind to turn. Now is when they should be out there, taking to the wind, spreading their wings. Out come the ‘latai‘, a reel load of ‘manja‘ , the sharp,thick thread, sharpened further with a layer of powdered glass (the finer the powder the better) and a bunch of coloured paper stretched over arched frames of reed-thin sticks, shaped into diamonds.

Then there is no stopping them, the coloured beings. Little boys breath life into them and let them loose on the southern wind. They take to the sky, soar, swim with the rising currents, soar further and then the game begins. There, from the yellow house roof top, a black and white diamond has turned inwards and is almost at the tail of the green, red and white diamond ‘mukhpora‘. Another pink  ‘bogga‘, let loose from the tall building with broad parapets, has already cornered a ‘mombati‘ into surrendering. The riot of colours in the sky is not just feast to the eye anymore, it is a battle field, each battle well strategised and each kite-flier a deft warrior. A big sweep down, a loop and a sudden, strong pull ends a well fought battle. A kite soars up to announce its triumph and the other floats away, suddenly cut loose from its rein.

Down below, in street corners, on unassuming roof tops, from the parks, urchins keep an eye out for a loose thread with a wingless wonder tied at the other end flying away aimlessly, having slipped from its possessor’s grip, all ears to catch a call of ‘bho-katta‘ filling the air. Kite runners ahoy!

I have forever stared at the open sky and admired its winged wonders, on breezy afternoons and on a few occasion,  held on to the rein of the wingless being, have felt the tug and soared with it over the dusty gray old city. It is an awesome feeling indeed, the feeling of a gentle tug, a sudden pull and the urge to take to the winds again. I love them, those papery thin winged beings, the kites, actually.


Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Uncategorized


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