New books

I buy books with my ‘contact class’ money. And all other such extras that the college pays me. So I was off spending it yesterday even before they’d paid me.

Bought Samit Basu’s Simoqin Prophecies. Have been wanting to be buying (hey, reminds me of sweet old prof I used to know) for some time now, so there it is! Finished it yesterday. Guilty pleasures.


Upset schedules

Seem to be this term’s ‘in thing’. A mysterious stomach flu (I’m calling it that coz it’s not been diagnosed yet) has flown across campus, making life miserable for a large number of students. Panic and hysteria have spread even more rapidly over the weekend, and the result is that college is closing down for 10 days.

There goes my schedule. (Yeah, I know you’re thinking “how mean and self-centred, what about all those poor kids who’re ill?” Well, they’re going to get better, but my schedule’s not going to get back to normal again!) Anyway, no more hope of doing anything straight the rest of this semester.

If it were only work, I wouldn’t complain so much. But we had this 4-day holiday coming up (also not in the original schedule, resulting from a few compensatory hols and some other kinds of good fortune) and I’d just finished planning my life around it! It took long enough, what with Dips saying she was going to make that long-awaited trip down, but then some uncertainty about her having to travel (on work) at the time, and finally, me having to choose between various options as to what I’d do!

Now that the 4-day break’s turned into 10 days with virtually no notice, I suppose extending my holiday is out of the question – I shall be forced to spend the time correcting those long-overdue mid-sem papers and the not-yet-due projects.

Such is life.

A film screening…

… and some random thoughts.

Saw Hazaar Chaurasi ki Maa yesterday. Special Screening at Prasad’s. Women’s month, apparently, whatever that was. Movie, however, was good. Jaya Bachchan – performance of a lifetime. I’d read the play, and the script pretty much sticks to it, so not too may surprises there. Some scenes are more powerful in the play than in the movie (the ones with Nandita Das in them. Never knew she was so bad)

But more on the random thoughts. First on changes. So many cultural events in Hyderabad are becoming ‘see and be seen’. Don’t get me wrong – there’s always a particular crowd in any city which’ll land up at stuff like this – the ‘culture vultures’. A long time ago, when I was a little girl, (rewind that – even five years ago), this crowd consisted of middle class men and women dragging their children along, post-work, fresh and spiffy after having gone home early and washed up before they came. Now it’s a bunch of women in chiffons/FabIndia sarees, lipsticked and high-heeled, with a few men in kurtas and jeans accompanying them. I really don’t know what to make of the change.

Then on superficiality. When ‘Jaya’ finally landed up yesterday, she fielded two separate questions on what Amitabh thought of the movie. With her customary grace, of course, but that doesn’t take away from the irony of it. An extremely powerful three-hour movie on how a bhadralok mahila discovers herself while searching for her son, and at the end of it, that’s all people want to know? And don’t really want to know – it’s just meant as a prelude to a gushing “Please convey our love to him, we think he’s the BEST”?! Yeeeecccchhhhhh!!!

And on what the movie was about. Someone in the audience said it right – we all have our own ideas on what the movie is about. That’s the beauty of a work of art – each of us read a different meaning into it. And for once, a movie that is a work of art. Maybe crafting that kind of ambiguity into the movie becomes easier because it’s based on a literary work? That’s where most dramatisations fail, though – see the Lord of the Rings movies. Even Narnia.

Look, Momma gave me new clothes!!

All her young life, she’d been the poor cousin. Her mother was not rich, she had very little of the currency that mattered.*

So she wore the clothes they handed out at the home, though she didn’t like them very much. They made her look old and haggard sometimes, dark and broody at best. But what choice did she have?

Till her grandmother saw her. Her mother had taken her, reluctantly enough, to visit. Grandma peered at her through her glasses and asked, “So do you take after your mather, dear? I can hardly see you in the dark!”. That was it. Her mother knew she had to do something.

There was the weekend. The weekend mother’d kept aside for herself, to relax and sleep and recuperate from the past month. But this was far more important. Grandma had touched a raw nerve.

So mother collected scraps of cloth, as best as she could. Not too many different ones, she wasn’t making a patchwork quilt, she said. She borrowed tools – even ones she didn’t know how to use. She might have cut her finger a couple of times. She cut and pruned, pasted and sewed, till she was happy with what she saw.

This is the result.

Well, if my ‘happy clothes‘ can make me feel good, why not get some for my blog? I’m rather proud of myself, actually…

* techie-ness, it was called. alternately, bits, or in larger denominations, bytes. i told you she didn’t have any – obviously she wasn’t very familiar even with the language

Today’s element

The air carries a rumble as of thunder. Here the electricity is not magic but a tool in the quarry.

The air shimmers in the heat. Is it trembling in empathy with a still-quivering earth?

The air moves. A hot breeze carrying dry dust. Ages old or newly powdered?

Dominance, difference, and all that

I’ve been wondering whether to blog this… but my blog is where I clear things up in my mind. So here goes.

My FemJur class has finally begun to discuss cultural feminism. When we started off with a short, easy reading on difference feminism by a linguistics prof, not much trouble. In fact, lots of experience, leg-pulling, and of course, “not only women are like this” finally starts becoming a catchphrase (is that the word I want?).

Then we moved into slightly more dangerous territory, I thought, discussing whether women’s hedonistic lives are different from men’s. Strange silences. But the refrain of “why is this experience exclusively female” has become more insistent. While that’s a problem with the reading we did yesterday (West insists that the experience she describes is exclusively female), I think we need to draw out the point that the exclusivity of experience is not focal, the excludedness of it is. Did that make sense?

I need to bring this up. Tomorrow.

Dominance, difference and stuff , because cultural feminism. If you didn’t get it, read about cultural feminism here

People who come to ‘contact classes’

No, they aren’t learning to feel people up. They just take correspondence courses and end up having to attend classes for 3 days in a year.

So, from my vast experience of taking sessions at these contact classes (yes, I took a session last year too), I’ve discovered that there are certain definitive types – they’ll be there, you just have to look for them.

The I-know-more-than-yous: These ones who think they know more than the session moderator (SM). And are looking for a chance to demonstrate. In full force when SM is young and female, these tend to be male, and whatever their actual age, appear to be at least twice the age of SM.

The supportive nodders: These believe in the power of a smile to convince the moderator that their nods convey understanding and not a tendency to drop off. They will inevitably accost SM at the end of the session and loudly state their appreciation of SM’s skill in keeping so many people interested in a post-lunch session on taxation.

The panga types: Fondly known as have-heard-that-word-before-so-will-argue-with-you-till-you-shut-me-up-so-I-can-make-martyred-face. These will seize on something mentioned in passing about which they don’t know very much but have a very definite opinion and go on to do their thing.

The notetakers: The fact that these have been supplied with 300 pages of material on the topic that’s being dealt with in a one-hour session makes no difference. What the SM has stated is The Word, and must be recorded for posterity (or at least, till the exam).

The ones I don’t have a name for: To these, the words “Taxation issues in Cyberspace” mean “free advice on how to minimise tax when you take your textile sweatshop online”. These wait for the words “Any questions or clarifications?” so that they can launch into detailed descriptions of their business, their plans for their business, and then ask, “So what tax do I have to pay?” (It’s not that I don’t have a name for these, just that all the names I have are too bloody rude)