Saturday, 23 January 2010

Burns, Fast food, Lit Fest

Fast food is taking over the old favourite cafes in my birth city of Chennai. I googled the menu in McDonalds. I was curious to see the words in Tamil. They are offering veggie options like Paneer Wraps along with non-veggie ones like the Maharajah Mc Chicken. Can't imagine a Maharajah Chicken McNugget though! LOL. KFC not to be outdone has also opened nearly fifty outlets in India though I did hear anecdotally that a pregnant lady was advised not to eat their chicken as it might be 'dangerous' for someone in her condition!

Jaipur Lit Fest grows stronger. Couple of photos showing the colourful Fest with a fantastic line up of authors. Despite fog delaying some authors arriving on time, it appears to have been a resounding success. I loved the report on the English language and the arguments that the Queens English was replaced by President's English or the Call Centre speak. Mark Tully commented that all children should be taught their mother-tongue till sixth standard.

The most interesting feature of this year's fest is the focus on Dalit Literature. P.Sivakami a Chennai writer and political activist has said and I paraphrase 'upper caste Hindus have only a caste conscience and not a public or a human conscience.' At least the first step has been taken in redressing this issue at last. Affirmative action in all aspects of Dalit's lives is slowly being taken in India.It is also heartening to see that the fest has not been hijacked by the Bollywood or the politician brigade looking for publicity. The Fest continues till Jan 25th when the world celebrates our own Burn's supper with haggis and a wee dram for our National Bard.SLAINTE.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Childhood tales

A dream about a woman selling anklets brought a tale told to me as a child to mind. Cilapathigagram,one of the five ancient and great pieces of Tamil literature had the story of Kannagi famed for her chastity and seeker of justice.Written in 1stCentury AD/CE it was recounted to me when I was a tiny girl.The passion and drama of the story line appealed to me then. I reread the translated work. The striking fact hit me now.In the 1stCentury AD/CE a woman had the audacity to take on a king and demand justice. Check out the fascinating story by googling.

"Tamil creative genius to the world's cultural treasure and should be familiar to the whole world and admired and beloved by all in the same way as the poems of Homer, the dramas of Shakespeare, the pictures of Rembrandt, the cathedrals of France and the sculptures of Greece..... the epical poem Cilappathikaram, which by its 'baroque splendour', and by the charm and magic of its lyrical parts belongs to the epic masterpieces of the world....." (Tamil Contribution to World Civilisation - Czech Professor Dr. Kamil Zvelebil in Tamil Culture - Vol. V, No. 4. October, 1956)"

The statue of Kannagi on Marina Beach in Madras has a fascinating story too.The last Chief Minister hastily removed the statue at night as she was taken to court for corruption on an incredible scale and did not want the idea of justice being demanded by a woman in 1stC A.D to remind people of their right to demand a fair government. It has been reinstated by the present CM.

Tales told to you as a child always remains in the subconscious and resurfaces when you least expect it. I wonder how many young children are exposed to the sheer joy of listening to tales from parents, grandparents or family friends? With little time between school, ipods, TV, computer games and the ubiquitous mobile phone they have scant time to while away an afternoon relishing old stories from the older generation.

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