Let’s hear me talk about the second day of The Hindu Lit For Life. This time, I brought my classmate along with me for extra comfort and companionship. And it helped — I believe — to some extent — surely — it really helped, I am not kidding!
So, anyway, I grew smarter and wore a long sleeve shirt just to prevent myself shivering through most part of the event. And I am going to imagine that helped me
fall asleep pay careful attention to the sessions.
I am going to make this reflection short and sweet because, well, I feel exhausted after two long days of intellectual exercise and I am missing out on some helpful sleep. And, Kamal Haasan is making his presence tomorrow!
History of the ancient India
Romila Thapar, quite evidently a veteran in the field, wasn’t in agreement with the colonial scholars’ opinion that ancient India (especially Indus civilization) was ahistorical and Indian past was oriental despotism. She said the question of whether there were any historical records is irrelevant and I am going to agree with that.
She also commented that Mahabharatha was an Ithikasa and was believed to have happened (with layers added onto it over time) whereas Ramayana was a Kavya and has had more literary aspects to it. She being an expert in this field should very well know about this more than I do but that particular comment was quite surprising to me. I imagined both these Indian epics have a grounded real version and I am only partially correct.
Adding onto that, she remarked epics are ‘repository of recording consciousness’ and not historical text. However, I do think epics give a general idea of the way of life in the ancient India. For example, the practice of polyandry by Drowpadi and the clan system in Mahabarath and importantly kingship politics that existed several thousand years ago — the current day politics don’t even match to that.
Despair for mega cities?
There was an unison agreement that the cities ought to be crucibles of democracy yet they are turning out to be crucibles of inequality. The advent of xenophobic vibe in Mumbai was a genuine cause of concern.
I however am not sure which camp I would find myself in if there was a similar movement going on in Chennai. The lack of effort from the urban migrants to culturally merge into their destination cities irks me occasionally. I am glad these irks are temporary — but only at the moment. I also find myself in a dilemma — because everything I hate about the migrants of my city was what I was doing in my four-year stint in Singapore.
Travelling in Tibet
Colin Thubron did well to tingle my senses for travelling. I feel I am missing out on a huge part of life and what it has to offer to me simply because I am not travelling.
Colin reminded me something I had known before – Tibetans leave the dead bodies out in the open to be consumed by the vultures. It is very much a unique exercise in the entirety of the human race, where people prefer and wish to be buried, cremated or even martyred. But not Tibetans, who manage to stay not larger than life and continue to show modesty and dignity, in their true ways.
Aswin Sanghi defined mythology as ‘a touch of truth with several layers on it’. He also touched on a point that I have been labouring for quite some time. That divinity are things that are yet to be explained; that it is an element of unknown.
Samantha Shannon seemed uninterested in censoring books, especially to children. She makes it a point that books are a safe place to experience what the children would experience later in their life. In a world that makes a ‘spectacle out of violence’, she thinks there is thrill from danger without needing to experience it first-hand.
Revisiting the history books
William Dalrymple made me re-realize what it feels to get back to the history books. Everything of value comes right from it and it is almost surprising how we manage to get away from it despite having it right under our eyesight. I am going to begin by grabbing the nearest copy of ‘Freedom by Midnight’ and hopefully finish it within the next month (February).
The great lie that is fiction
“Fiction is the great lie that tells the truth” claimed Dorothy Allison. Or so claimed Abraham Varghese that Dorothy claimed so. Whatever. The point was, Abraham showed what true passion can do — make you really mad that is.
He also left this gem about finding one’s voice when writing:
When you’ve written something that your spouse finds deeply disturbing, you have found your voice.
And I took his little advice for wannabe writers to the heart: Read, read and read. I hope to update my little reading wish-list and keep to it at once.