December 30, 2010

Hyderabadi notions of distance and other things

Note to A: Leave Baudrillard at home only. Also his playmates.

Myth: Bas us gali mein hain (said without accompanying bhava or gesticulation)
Reality: There are many galis. Especially in the Old City, where it is possible to simultaneously insert two fingers of the same hand into two galis.

Myth: Oh, Punjagutta/ Hitech City/ Nampally is five minutes away.
Reality: Oh, I'm talking about helicopter travel. Otherwise it's 24, 4782949 light years away, if you get the MMTS train on time...

Myth: The MMTS train is just outside the station.
Reality: The MMTS train will come to the station in ten minutes.

Myth: Hussain 'sagar'.
Reality: Speedboat covers Sagar in a minute.

Myth: Bas baju mein hain.
Reality: 'Baju' paanch km lamba hain.

Myth: Bas chauraste pe milti.
Reality: A chaurasta, ideally, is a junction where four roads meet. Not an assemblage of four streets in different directions that you will pass on your way to the imagined chaurasta.

Myth: Famous Icecream kahan hain?
Reality: Scopes icecream khaon. Bahut Famous hain.

And my favourite one of the day.
Famous Icecream kahan hain?
Yahan fridge mein hain.

December 11, 2010

My article in The Hindu

Untold stories


Dastangoi performers Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain on the art they are trying to popularise.
Stepping off an empty Bandra by-lane into a chaotic world of flying sorcerers and audacious thieves requires, at the very least, a surreal shift in perception. And that is one illusion of many, a tilism, as a Dastangoi performer would put it. Over four days, ace dastangos Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain, with their brood of storytellers-in-training, presented tales from the Tilism-e-Hoshruba and other texts at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, as part of the first-ever Dastangoi festival.
The dastangos, dressed in white, kept the audience riveted as their voices soared above the persistent sea wind, bringing to life remorseless tricksters who behead everything in sight and spunky empresses who command an army of sorcerers.
Excerpts from a conversation with Farooqui and Husain, who have trained other people in the art for the past year.
How did the festival come about?
Mahmood: I have been working with people in Mumbai and Delhi for a year. Part of the idea behind the festival was to showcase all these new tellers. Also, all the stories have different flavours — we were able to present more stories than we ordinarily perform in a single show.

December 01, 2010

Eleven memories of JNU

On nostalgia trip, suddenly!

1. Staring at a nilgai and being stared at. Wondering if nilgai gore people to death. Tempting fate.
2. Eating rasmalai ka ras with my fingers.
3. Being called 'gudiya'.
4. Singing 'dhagala laagli kala' while standing on the armrest of a bench on the ring road. Later explaining the meaning to a certain bemused spectator.
5. Lying down at KC OAT and staring at the stars. And crying.They were so beautiful.
6. Eating upma and curd with M. Eating curd, yeah! And becoming the local advertisement for Priya Pickle.
7. Stopping to let a peacock cross the road.
8. Bicycling across campus. Cycling down the PSR stretch at high speed. Bike rides too.
9. Watching 6 am bidaais in Saraswatipuram.
10. Dancing in a Tapti room and being asked by concerned downstairs nerd if all was well. When assured that all was indeed well, she told me she thought it was a ghost.
11. Fighting over fans, bonding over fans, switching off fans, switching on fans, indulging in sneak fan speed wars. Fans!