Archive for September, 2009


A Porous Crate

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Wrote when I recently had a viral.

For the last five days: coughing in spasms, dry and then wet, aching head, running temperature, snoozing, waking up to wet sheets and pillows, sitting up, unable to sit up because lower back is weak, trying to walk, unable to walk because feel dizzy, do not feel like eating … doctor says it is common flu, not swine.

When I breathe I feel I am standing atop a mountain with gusts of wind passing through me. When I lie down I feel my ribs cracking and lungs hitting the floor. When the fan starts and the movement of air pains my nerves. I feel I no longer have my skin on. On phone calls others tell me I sound like I am inside a deep well. I feel I have become a porous crate, my insides spilling out. Only slightly tied down. Nebulously. Ready to give away.

It is a heightened sense of touch. It is a sensitivity one aspires to feel for one’s environment, in one’s body. Yet, one does not want to have it without one’s skin on. One does not want to have it in this raw state where one has no control over how much one can take and where one can stop the experience. This is like a free fall from a waterfall where one has no means to preserve oneself.

Still, I wonder how it would be to keep this heightened sense of touch and not be as blown by it as I feel when I am ill. Guess that is why people like to heighten their experiences in various ways: music, drugs, travel, and so on.

Recovered now, but know what I am looking for – the same experience without the viral :)

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Hazrat Nizamuddin

   Posted by: aman    in Other

It was the summer of 1990. I had just completed school and was at Faridabad with Rohit Shorey when we decided to come to Delhi for a quick visit. We hopped on to the Parikarma Express, the green local trains which connected suburbs to Delhi. Seeing the seats taken we decided to sit in the door.

Parikarma Express has wide doors, to ease the movement of passengers. They stop often and passengers embark and disembark at a quick pace between the numerous stations such a train touches. We sat down holding the firm bar between us, our legs, knee downwards, dangling from the train. We were chatting animatedly. There are so many things adolescents talk about. Hazrat Nizamuddin Station was approaching. We could see it at a distance. The train was slowing down.

Suddenly, we felt a hand on our necks. I could see the fingers on Rohit’s neck. I felt one gripping my collar too. We tried to turn, but could not. The grip was strong. Then it tugged, pulled us so hard that we both fell into the train. We brushed ourselves, checked our purses, and stood up to confront who had humiliated us. It was one man who had pulled both of us. He was tall and very well built. Guess a pehelwan, wrestler.

The train was stopping. When we confronted him, he only said, ‘Look.’ We wanted to punch him on his face but we looked. The platform was not more than four inches from where we were sitting. The Railways had started raising the heights of platforms on its stations. While we recovered the man got down and walked away. He had saved our legs. They would have been crushed that day.

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Jhini Chadariya

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Standing on Varkala beach in Kerala, which is a couple of meters above sea level, one can see far into the sea. A couple of kilometres that are normally not visible from a beach which is at the level of the sea’s surface. When I stood there I felt I was seeing huge pages of a grand book, nature’s, and the waves were the inscriptions written on it. As the water changed form with the winds and the sun and moon’s gravitational forces, I felt words were changing form on the pages of the sea.

The more I work with words, the more I feel how they are like wrinkles on a fine sheet of cloth. Words are the beginning and end of the tools a writer or a novelist has at his disposal. The writer can make the words stand up, swirl, form myriad patterns, or dissolve. Unlike film-makers who can use visuals and sound, all a writer can use is words. Those words too are at the mercy of the reader. It can be argued that if a piece of writing is good the reader will continue reading. Still it is not the equivalent of sitting in a dark hall with a big screen in front, all your attention on it.

Yes, the best movies are based on well written scripts but here we are talking about the way a work of art works on our senses. One can make bold and underline words, use exclamation marks, but that is of little use. Someone once reviewing a technical manual for me said, ‘If everything is a note, then nothing is important any longer.’ We have a tendency to put notes and tips and important in such manuals. Like we put space, and drop letters, and embellish dialogue, and give second or third level titles to regular prose.

The basics remain: it is words, only words that make up writing. It is within these words that one has to create effect.

For instance, take Jose Saramago’s Seeing. He does not even put quotation marks for dialogue. Yet, when you read about the rain on polling day, you cannot escape feeling the overwhelming sense of water everywhere. Insidious.

A section of words is like a fabric. Like a painting. Like a piece of music. Like a sea, or a desert. They are all flat, two dimensional. In them the undulations come from making the elements respond to what you want to say, cover and expose, show, and make heard. That is how you develop the third dimension, through the variations you create through what lies in between the two dimensions.

Take the reader deep into the waters or sand-scapes and then jolt them through the structures you lay for them. Never too much that they lose interest, never too little that they are not affected. It is a thin fabric – Jhini Chadariya. Tie it up such that it wards off the cold and keeps the reader warm through a experience of their own sensitivity.

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