Monday, May 11, 2009

Last Saturday

Last Saturday was one of the most pleasant day-offs I've had in a long time. Usually, in my eagerness to make the most of my off-day, since they are well-deserved these days, I plan ambitious things but end up going to the same malls and indulging in retail therapy. This Saturday, by default, I did things I that like but had not done in a long time. Soon after I woke up, at 11 in the morning, two parcels arrived. They contained the four books I had ordered from a few weeks ago.

Lying in bed, I had finished, by lunchtime, Portrait of Hemingway by Lillian Ross. A slim book, it's an account of the two days that Ross, a New Yorker writer, had spent with Hemingway in New York. A quote from Hemingway that I shall always return to for inspiration when I (or other people) feel my writing is crap:

"I started out very quiet and I beat Mr Turgenev. Then I trained hard and I beat Mr de Maupassant. I've fought two draws with Mr Stendhal, and I think I had an edge in the last one. But nobody's going to get me in any ring with Mr Tolstoy unless I'm crazy or I keep getting better."

Since Hemingway made this remark while he was drinking champagne, it is possible that it was alcohol that made him pat his own back. But it is also true that only when you are drunk you actually gather the courage to boast about the hard work you put in into your passion. When you are sober, you usually try to be modest.

While having lunch, I skimmed through A Literate Passion, a voluminous compilation of letters exchanged between Anais Nin and Henry Miller, the two writers who freed the subject of sex from cage of taboo in the early 20th century. The letters, I realised to my great gratification, only validated my long-standing belief, which I would try to articulate as simply as possible: a curvaceous or a chiselled body can only make you lust, momentarily, for a member of the opposite sex. Whereas, it is the mind of the person that actually makes you crave for him or her. It does not matter how she looks or how big or small her breasts are: once you are in love with the mind of that woman, her physical attributes automatically become so perfect that you can't wait to watch her taking her clothes off. And when you eventually do it, it is the minds that have the sex, even though the genitals take the credit. But then, just as you need a pen to express your thoughts, you need the genitals to express and satiate the cravings of the mind. They are just the medium.

In most such unions of minds, there is always a villain, usually in the form of a spouse. In the case of Miller and Nin, the roadblock was Hugh, Nin's husband. Let me quote from two letters:

Oh, Henry. I don't know what is the matter with me. I am so exulted. I am almost mad, working, loving you, writing, and thinking of you, playing your records, dancing in the room when my eyes are tired. You have given me such joys that it does not matter what happens now -- I am ready to die -- and ready to love you all my life!

How are you? I have been anxious about your cold. Hugh is leaving Sunday night for London for two nights. I'll write you again about it. I would love it if you would put your typewriter in a taxi and ride over -- or if you are tired after Renaud's visit just come over for a rest. I will need one too...


And then, this letter written by Henry Miller in sheer panic:

Anais --

A horrible blunder has been made. You mailed me the letter to Hugo, the day you arrived, and you sent mine to him. Hugo has been trying frantically to get in touch with me. Sent Amelia here who left the enclosed note under the door. She was here in the morning and again this evening. I thought in the morning it was Hugo himself and that he was here to "get" me -- so I didn't answer the door...I may have to leave town until Hugo goes. That depends on his behaviour. For the present I am staying here, behind locked doors...But don't meet Hugo alone for the first time -- if you must meet him. Take care!!

Love, Henry


After lunch I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and took a short nap. In the evening I was expecting a friend-cum-colleague, one of the very few people in Chennai I've met to love and understand Kishore Kumar. A 'musical night' was long overdue between the two of us.

After I poured the drinks, I dug into my playlists and the various music folders in the laptop. And that's when I realised that there were songs, which once upon a time constituted by daily routine, lying unheard for months and months. What a relief it was to listen to them again: it was like meeting up with old, loyal friends. I don't want to bore you with the list of songs which, once upon a time, played on my speakers every single day and which were lying neglected all these months till I found them again last Saturday.

But there is one song I must mention. It is a simple, lovely song, whose lyrics and music have been composed by Ravindra Jain and which is sung by Kishore Kumar. It is from the film Pati, Patni Aur Woh, in which the inimitable Sanjeev Kumar portrays the Indian version of Henry Miller, albeit a non-literary one -- a married man who finds stimulation in his bright, young stenographers and tries to woo them by spinning an imaginary tale that his wife is terminally ill. The song blames Sanjeev Kumar's behaviour on the apple -- the fruit which Adam and Eve were forbidden from having while they lived in paradise. How beautifully it tells the story of Adam and Eve in a few lines. Here goes:

Naa aaj thhaa, naa kaal thhaa
koi mushkil thhi, naa hal thhaa
Lekin kya thhaa, bus ek phal thha
Yeh phal khaana manaa hai, sub unse kehte thhey
yeh phal khaana manaa hai, sub unse kehte thhey
Adam aur Hawwa donon jannat mein rehte thhey
Adam aur Hawwa donon jannat mein rehte thhey...

Dono ka dil lalchaya, us phal to tod ke khaya
dono ka dil lalchaya, us phal to tod ke khaya
Ek shola sa lehraya, unmey shaitan samaya
ek shola sa lehraya, unmey shaitan samaya
unko jo hargiz na karna, kar baithe thhey
unko jo hargiz na karna, kar baithe thhey
Adam aur Hawwa donon jannat mein rehte thhey
Adam aur Hawwa donon jannat mein rehte thhey...

Kudrat ko gussa aaya, donon pe jurm lagaya
Jannat mein rehne waale, jannat se gaye nikaale
Oopar se girey woh nichey
oopar se girey woh nichey
Phal aaya pechhey peechey
yun sadiyon ne dum toda
phal ne peechha na chhoda
yun sadiyon ne dum toda
phal ne peechha na chhoda

Kehnewaale yun unka afsana kehte hai
kehnewaale yun unka afsana kehte hai
Adam aur Hawaa ab is duniya mein rehte hain
Adam aur Hawaa ab is duniya mein rehte hain


There was no today, there was no tomorrow
there were no problems, there was no need for solutions
But there was only one thing -- a fruit
"Never eat this fruit," they would all tell them
Adam and Eve, who used to live in paradise

But they were greedy, and they plucked the fruit and ate it
Fire of passion leaped, and the devil got inside them
They had done what they were not supposed to do
Adam and Eve, who used to live in paradise

Nature got angry, it penalised both
Those who lived in paradise were now thrown out of paradise
They fell from the skies, and the fruit followed them
Centuries passed, but the fruit did not stop chasing them
And now, we are told that Adam and Eve live in this world, amidst us.


It is 3.30 in the morning now and I am a bit hungry. Guess what I am going to eat before I hit the sack? An apple.


African Queen said...

I agree with each line of this post. Only you could link Hemingway, Adam and Eve and Sanjeev Kumar in the most nonchalant manner. Enjoyed reading it.

Sabarmati View said...

Hi BG,

Time to move over BT cotton seeds. It's time to patent sentences in your blog... loved this one particular..."In most such unions of minds, there is always a villain, usually in the form of a spouse.."
Keep writing. And keep having that rare thing called passion

love is fragile said...

Great BG, loved it, only you can bring things together without any relations..keep writing..

Sandhya said...

! Your best! :)

Anonymous said...

Move on darling, it's 9 days since last saturday.

Anonymous said...

This is the blog police. C'mon the world cannot wait forever! Next one, please.....

Anonymous said...

choked?? wonder what happened on Sunday!! :-)

ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿ.ಡಿ.ಎಸ್ said...


where have u gone ? i am a silent follower of ur blog, i have read ur most of the posts.

got bored of seeing the same post from last few days!

C'mn man..

Anonymous said...

whr r u. gone on hibernation. feel dejected and in a few days may not look into it. bored to c last saturday. comeon rise and shine

Soumya said...

After a very, very busy May, I finally opened your blog today, expecting to read for at least an hour and looks like you have had a busy May too!

Jesa Christ said...

I now crave an apple:( I'll never learn.