Sunday 27 June 2010

Tell me about your period?

It has long been in my mind to write a brief guide to etiquette for Oriental sojourners in London, the Capital City of the British Empire.

Perhaps, the social custom which occasions the visitor most discomfort is that whereby, at dinner, a gentleman is seated between two ladies with whom, strictly in turn, it is obligatory to converse.

Bear in mind, it is considered unseemly to turn the conversation to abstruse metaphysical or nakedly erotic themes. Nor does it do to be very pertinacious in inquiry, or overly solicitous, with reference to such matters as fall within the ken of the female mind. A happy medium is struck by asking, in a tone of well bred indifference, the question- 'tell me about your period?'- especially given that Oriental guests are invariably seated between ladies of great antiquity who may well be flattered by the suggestion that they remain subject to that form of abject uncleanness.

My illustrious student, the late Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, improved upon my suggested opening by deploying a whole repertoire of conversational gambits such as- "Cor! that must make your eyes water!", or 'Nice weather for ducks!" and of course "Shame about that hat!" which tended to keep things humming along nicely and gained him an enviable reputation as a modern Rouchefoucauld.

In less able hands, however,- here, I am regretfully obliged to speak of a scion of the cadet branch of the distinguished Bengali family which glories in the hereditary right to hold the 'Chattri' over, H.E, the Governor General at the Calcutta Durbar- even the most rigorous repetition of the question "tell me about your period?" does not always prevent the conversation from flagging and, in consequence, young Rabindranath was obliged to cover his head in ashes and consent to rustication on his family's country estates.

In my next post I will write about the disastrous impact, on the conduct of the second Round Table Conference, of Barrister Mohandas's (not, it must be said, unprecedented) gaffe in addressing the question 'tell me about your period?' to, not the Dowager Queen Alexandra, as he supposed, but His Serene Highness, the Aga Khan.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Since Structure not Language can

Since Structure not Language can, nor its Stems to rose suppose
For paws muddy & couch, Lacan, smacked's a doggy nose
Or nuzzles forth my muzzle to but puzzle at her ear
She'd shoo me away, being drear & near to tear

E'er to growling and prowling & bitter yelping too prone
Silent I now sit as she texts him on her phone
Summer's scents still invite to its dappled delights explore
Till, diffident, a new knock on her old Daddy's door.

Friday 25 June 2010

To hymn her whom to husband Love

To hymn her whom, to husband Love, I mend my lyric lame
Fret metal yet, Hephaestus, thy helpmeet, to but tame!
Cage none can Beauty, no, nor, high wrought, Art exult
With Ares, nay, say Eris! Aphrodite's caught in rut!

Night taught her Civic daughter, Hesiods strive for a hand
Cold to hold the krater or whose wooes to understand
Empedoclean traitor! to wive words what you paid
Derides Confucian brides- a blemish on white jade!

Kumara- Ki koun hai Raam aur koun hai bandha
Who torture will the Uttara kanda?
Can Canetti's ant-hill, Valmik erupt?
Or Words' General Will, Love abrupt?

Listening to a Hindi film song (from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Devdas') with the refrain - 'Maar dala' - I was suddenly reminded that The simple Hindustani word maarna (to kill) is cognate with the Latin Mars and the Greek Ares- Aryan War Gods how different- or the same?- as my Kuladevam- Ku-maara...

Question- which poem about the poet's wife (I think it was by Tao Chien) was called ' a blemish on white jade' - a phrase otherwise associated with the guy who kept on repeating these lines from the Odes
A blemish on white jade
Can perfect be made
But Words twistable at all
Cause Heaven to fall.
Confucius immediately married his elder brother's daughter to the gentleman in question.

BTW- does anyone have a link to a video of Aziz Mian Qawwal's 'Main kya jaanoon Ram tera gorakh dhanda?'

Thursday 24 June 2010

Tat tvam asi

Gods are in the moment and must madden
As doth Sodomy, shit tipped, but sadden
Immortality musing on Morality's twat
Philosophy so fucked, that it shat.

Monday 14 June 2010

Aziz Nazan Qawwal


That Purity is a flower, the thought makes me hard.

A Tavern grue.

Life is a Tavern, grue, in whose toilet, new,  no poet, true, defecates
(Like the bloating Boer at the banquet who, gloating, waits
Till, at leisure, his own fields, he might entreasure with a dump)
Tho' Art's light freehold lunch, its own Agents gazump

Sodomising pygmies- Obama's Afpak strategy

    Last year, soldiers off the 85th brigade of the Congolese Army ( that is the Democratic Republic of Congo's Army rather than any other sort of Congolese Republic's Army) were accused by Human Rights Organization of sodomizing pygmies to gain supernatural powers & ward off evil spirits.
   As usual, the Liberal Indglish Media, in its coverage of the atrocity, focused entirely on the culpability of Narendra Modi for what might turn out to be a major cause célèbre for 20/20 Cricket or some Bollywood shite or whatever the fuck it is Indglish speakers actually give a damn about.
   By contrast, the Neo-Con blogosphere-  or, at least, its bilious underbelly- has  incessantly sodomized the pygmy of the trope of Obama's Health Care Plan being a similar quest for super-powers.

    IMHO neither approach to the sodomizing pygmies portent is half as productive as the application of this trope to Obama's Afpak strategy. For, as in the story of Mahmud and Ayaz, which inspired much Sufi poetry, the question immediately arises- yes, Ayaz is a pygmy compared to the great Sultan, but who gains the supernatural power? Is it the bugger or the buggered or the poet who buggers up this pygmy theme?

   Is not all Literature but sodomizing pygmies? Is not the Truth of Art but the Super Power thereby gained?
As Emerson said- 'WTF dude? I never once mentioned sodomizing pygmies. You must be thinking of Thoreau. That boy aint right.'

Thursday 10 June 2010

Tagore in China-

Did lyric's latifundia lords hunt Tagore's heart
Who'd clamor to cut off their heads?
Were word weaving their whole Art
Read, his Poems now were Reds

Urdu and 'Islam in danger!"

  The notion that  'Islam is in danger!' is the foundation of Mujadidi ideology. The theological question it must answer is why, every century, the Muslims backslide or lose the favour of God- thus requiring a Mujaddid to turn up and found a dynasty. The answer really has to do with the manner in which what is spoken and believed ceases to be connected to God's  'kun' ('Be!)- it becomes empty, it loses its vital force. 
In a sense, this was good news for Urdu, as a literary language,  but a huge loss was being simultaneously incurred viz. the notion that literature opened the gate to a truly languageless noesis outside of Time. The result is a hypertrophy of literary activity without a corresponding widening of its range of signification. Ghalib's solution was to permit the pullulation of incompossible ontologies on the same literary topos, but his- like Solomon's- was a treasure that could never befall another. Why? Well, something happened to Time in the Nineteenth Century. For Ibn Arabi and Nund Reshi and Sachal and so on there was no problem with embracing a type of 'kshanika vada' (doctrine of momentariness) but for the post Mutiny Mujadidi milieu, Time had acquired a special ontological value it had not had since the Zurvan heresy. There is a story about Iqbal quoting the hadith 'do not vilify Time' to the great delight of Bergson. But Iqbal was spatializing Time- turning it into a battleground where a resurgent Islam would reassert itself- with results tragic and hilarious in equal measure.
It is no wonder that the Iranian Supreme Guide loves Iqbal. I wonder if he is aware that Iqbal grants the Babi heoine Qurratul Ayn (Tahira)  a place with Ghalib and Mansoor al Hallj at the station of Jupiter?
It is curious company for Ghalib. Okay, maybe Hallaj displayed what he should have veiled and Tahira's unveiling at  Badasht caused one of those present to cut his own throat and run gibbering from the garden- but, for Ghalib, I think the real pay-off would have been the fact that Tahira was strangled with her own veil and dropped down a well- a circumstance that would have provided many conversational openings and prompted much warm reflection.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

My interview with Narendra Modi- Chief Minister of Gujarat

Some years ago, I was having dinner at La Porte des Indes with an old classmate of mine whose family hail from Gujarat. Like many Ugandan Asians who settled in England in the early '70's, my friend, though, by his own admission, an expert investor in various high value projects mushrooming in the State, displayed a lamentable ignorance of Chief Minister Narendra Modi's complicity in the anti-Muslim riots of 2002.
Trying to shake him out of his complacency, I mentioned some of the atrocities that had been uncovered by N.G.O's and Citizen Rights groups which I'd read about in respected National newspapers and, on my visits to India, also seen discussed on the highly rated N.D.T.V channel.
My friend remained skeptical, not to say cynical, about my sources. To speak plainly, he simply couldn't believe that the incidents I recounted- all too gory to be set down here- had really happened- especially as he had been visiting his ancestral town, in Saurashtra, at the time and witnessed nothing untoward. I explained that I too had been unaware of the terrible atrocities being committed against the Sikhs in 1984, though I was living in New Delhi.

Heedless of my arguments, he dismissed me as a credulous fool- duped by the Leftists in the Media.
Quite naturally, I took umbrage, and, heated words having been exchanged, our relationship cooled, so much so that I no longer felt able, in India that winter, to take advantage of his generous offer to let his own broker manage my portfolio there.

Sometime later, he contacted me in a much mollified mood- I think it was the Visa ban on Modi that finally convinced him that, perhaps, Modi had a case to answer- thus conceding that it was he rather than I who had 'swallowed the party line'. By way of reparation, he arranged an interview for me with the Chief Minister.

Since I am not a journalist but a poet (that too of a cerebral, hermetic type) it crossed my mind that the intention was to pull the wool over my eyes and get me to put my name to what would in effect be a whitewash.

For this reason, though I did conduct an interview- I made it clear that I would publish nothing in the way of exculpation, but, rather, give the Chief Minister a chance to make a clean breast of things.

Modiji, whatever else you might say about him, is an astute judge of men. I say this because, firstly, he very courteously chose to speak to me in English rather than Hindi- thus appearing to cede me the 'home court' advantage and deflect any 'anti Hindi' animosity I- self-evidently Tamil in accent and complexion- might subconsciously subscribe to.
Secondly, he harped on his humble background and the fact that far from profiting from his office, he hadn't even been able to build a house for himself.
In this way Modiji hoped to elicit my sympathy and escaped a grilling on substantive issues.
I must say Modiji appeared much younger than his age. They say the camera adds 10 kg, and this was certainly the case with him.
However, I felt he overplayed his hand somewhat.
I am aware that people might make the same criticism of Mahatma Gandhi. I suppose there was an element of showmanship in the 'half naked fakir', accompanied by his milch goat and spinning wheel, mounting the stairs of Buckingham Palace for an audience with the King Emperor. However, Gandhiji's showmanship had a basis in reality. Modi, on the other hand, was simply 'milking it' by presenting himself as an illegal immigrant (because of the Visa ban) smuggled into the U.K on a refrigerated lorry and now having to work at less than minimum wage in a Bangladeshi restaurant. Most galling of all, for a member of the R.S.S, was that he was obliged to use a Muslim name- Abdul Haq- and cook meat and serve alcohol.

There was a sort of poetic Justice to his predicament and I'd have been quite justified to let the fellow rot there in that second rate Curry house- but there is a softer side to us old L.S.E alumni and so, sternly admonishing him not to repeat that Godhra thing, I did advance him the balance he needed to buy an air ticket home, in return for one trifling favor.
You see, as a Hindu poet, I have always wanted to recite my sonnet on the Somnath temple within the sacred precinct itself. Modi hummed and hawed but, prodded by my friend, finally gave in. He made one stipulation which showed the theatrical flair and genius for choreographing public spectacle he shared with Adolf Hitler. His notion was that I should costume myself as Mahmud of Ghazni- the Eleventh Century Afghan warlord- and rush upon the holy temple, declaring my intention to raze it to the ground before proceeding to deal similarly with the Narmada dam.
Modi explained that people would be incensed and a large crowd soon assemble. However, before anything untoward could occur, by a prearranged signal, the Purohits of the Temple would issue forth to plead with me to spare the Holy fane. Meanwhile, representatives of the Media would have had a chance to rush to the spot. Once the T.V cameras were properly set up and boom mikes extended, the time would be ripe to throw off my disguise and recite my sublime composition.

I agreed to Modiji's stipulation, not from any desire to bask in the limelight, but because it pointed a way to symbolically heal a thousand year old wound and restore brotherly feeling between Hindus and Muslims not just in Gujarat but throughout India.
The Chief Minister heartily endorsed my sentiment before scuttling back to his waiterly tasks of clearing tables and sweeping up poppadom pieces.
My friend, who had some private business with Modiji- returning from the toilet, I'd glimpsed the Chief Minister slipping him the greater part of the money I'd handed over for the air ticket- was firmly of the opinion that my Somnath poem had already attained that proverbial 'sublimity beyond self-sodomy' (appan ki khud gaand marne se zor intikhabiyat) and urged me to make my pilgrimage without delay.

However, I am a perfectionist. In the intervening years, my poem on Somnath has both expanded both in scope and sphincteral venturesomeness of style. I think my magnum opus is virtually complete. Soon, I shall set off for Gujarat. The one thing about Modi everybody agrees on is that he always keeps his word. There is no red tape. All I need to do is tip off my friend and then, like a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky, appear suddenly at Somnath changing, not literary history merely, but also political history, nay! say rather the history of Spirituality! Man's Destiny on Earth! and, be it but in that moment only, the very destiny of Time...

The moral of this story, for my young readers, is that though you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspapers, still where reportage is based on responsible N.G.O and Academic sources, then great benefits may flow from keeping oneself properly informed.
Jai Hind!

Altruism- what is it and how can we get it to go away?

I think it was W.D. Hamilton- not the equation guy but every other W.D. Hamilton that ever existed- who noticed, as we all do, that the more closely someone is related to you the more they want to freeload off you, talk shite to you and generally fuck with your mind. This is called altruism. The same goes for anyone who works for an organization which insists its drones add Father/Brother or Mother/Sister as a prefix to their names.

The more general question is why big words like altruism squint up at repellent, up their own arse, eggheads with the eyes of an enamored but inexpert blow job delivery system while remaining the dazzling debutante who blanks the doormen and limo drivers and bouncers who, obsequiously securing her privileged status, seed but her rectum.