Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's in a meeting!

as i write this a general body (GB) meeting is in progress downstairs at our mess (which is the basheer hostel mess at EFLU). the girls have called the meeting to discuss the recent whim of the administration to impose strange norms on them. well they have been protesting for a while but the administration has been rude and silent as ever. today at the GB they questioned the efficacy of an admin that was failing to keep its promise of providing better infrastructure. 
well things have gone really wiry now. 
few days ago the provost in charge of the girl's hostel decided to turn all the single sitter rooms into double sitter which meant that the research scholars were to give up their privilege of living alone quietly and share the room with others. the research scholars naturally protested. the men panicked in men's hostel thinking that their turn would come next. GBs happened nothing came out. protests happened, the media came. 
the provost was unrelenting. the m.a. kids arrived after vacation but were handed their room keys only when they signed an undertaking to abide by the rules. more protests followed. 
the acting VC behaved rudely with the students. 
and now this GB to mull how to go ahead with our demands. 
what are our demands?
1. why is the hostel infrastructure so bad?
2. why don't we've a proper VC in place?
3. why is the admin being so insensitive to our demands?
as i write my good friends mir and binayak have barged in with the proceedings of the meeting. it has been decided that there would be mass protest from tomorrow. protests would be innovative: posters, large painting canvas, media mobilization, signature campaign etc.

hope to see some action soon!!!!

my good friend mir says write eloquently about woman leadership. well it's true, the women have been leading this agitation. they organised rallies, sit in protests and negotiated terms with the authorities. binayak says it's quite unprecedented and he is so proud of the whole thing. i guess he is not being over enthusiastic.  i guess we're not disappointed in the end. 

shawarma at hyderabad

i first had shawarma at hyderabad almost a year ago. the mayonnaise and the roasted meat put inside the softly baked bread rattled the virginity of my tongue. i realized that the shawarma had the perfect combination of food experience i was looking for: the soft bread, concentrated garlic mayonnaise, followed by meat roasted crummily. i got addicted to shawarma.
later i realized the shawarma joint i was frequenting was not known in hyderabad for serving good shawarma. this was a humble shop beside the sitaphalmandi station, just few paces from the university where i still live. the joint's owner had perpetual trouble getting a shawarma cook. the days i frequented it were probably the days when it did the best business. he had procured a cook from jharkhand. his name was azhar.
Azhar was the eldest son in a family of about five children. he had worked at several places before abandoning himself at the shawarma shop beside the sitaphalmandi station. frustration was written all over him. i guess the shawarma he cooked smelled of his frustration a lot. azhar became a friend as my frequency of visits to the joint increased . he said he wanted to learn english and for that he needed a nice book. i bought him a book -  a cheap hindi to english edition. i don't think that did him any good.
he left few days later never to appear as a cook again. the shop was closed.
i tried other options. banjara hills, koti, tolichowki. tolichowki was the best. but somehow i still missed the flavor. i asked my arab friends about shawarma and they were poetic in praise of their shawarma back home. but hyderabad, they felt, was not at all good for shawarma. be it majid the palestinian, horaibi the yemeni or bakhit from Uzbekistan, nobody liked hyderabadi shawarma.
meanwhile the shop at sitaphalmandi opened again. this time the cook was a muslim boy from my city kolkata . he said he disliked his work. he said " are dada, hum to mohabbat se chale aaaye". i was happy inside of me, thinking i might get the flavor of depression back in my shawarma. i was wrong. this guy was mechanical and had no love for what he cooked.

well how could he?

the shop was surrounded by squalor. there was a slum nearby, prostitutes hung around, beggars looked for alms. the setting was just like a regular fallen corner in any indian city. earlier i used to like the meanness of eating an exotic food in a squalid locality. but i guess my ideas changed. i stopped going to the shop.
the joint down shuttered some months ago and as of now remains closed. the cook has left i guess.

yesterday i had shawarma at himayatnagar. it was too happy a place. moreover the meat was little stale. i will try befriending the cook sometime, maybe he can put some amount of his depression into what he cooks.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

lucian freud's, o lucian freud

frankly i had never heard of this freud. he was the grandson of sigmund freud until july, 2011, when he passed away. lonely to the core of his bones, lucian freud was a portrait painter. and what a painter was he! the first time i stumbled upon his works i was blown off by the gothic sadness of his paintings.
he painted the queen in 2001 and england was furious. In the portrait Elizabeth II wasn't a happy grand dame smiling at children but a scraggly vulnerable face as if summoned by devil for the final judgement.
he painted a number of obese women naked, grisly lards of flesh hanging form their skeleton, too depressed to carry on their lives, or as if they just lost it.
and then the anger in his self portraits hits me with  a melancholy foreboding of peter starsdedt's mulberry dawn. it's the artist's sense of inability and wrath and angst.
i guess he was too much an insider, i guess he was trying to look at humanity at the moment it affected its worst pose. and that pose is the moment when your recognise your hubris and you die for a moment. looking at his portraits, i think, they are stills that freeze anagnorisis. it's a kurtzian feeling i guess, conrad would,ve been happy.
check out some of his paintings here: