• Seven Years of Blog-writing and My First Story Published

    Friends,

    And Dear Students. It is not merely uphill, but very very so. This business of writing archaeologically informed fiction and trying to get it published. Here is a sample. Happy Reading.

    33-153-1-PB (1)
    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • Mars Song

    Mars Song

    A

    Poem

    by

    Ajay Pratap

    Moog synthesizer, rocks a guitar,
    Wa wa Pedal, Tremolo arms,
    Make a lovely Sitar
    In the long distance
    A collapsed star
    The Martian sky Black as Tar
    No Snakes, No Lizards No Carnivore birds
    Looking for Gizzards No Bar
    Irony of Ironies This red star
    From our Earth
    A Little-bit Far
    Has no cultivated fields!
    Landscapes which do not yield
    What then is the purpose of this star?

    It is high up and above
    But surely no diamond in the sky
    Samuel Beckett Carly Simon
    Near the Gambuda’s Fulcrum
    Did I hear a Tin Drum?

    Space samosas and Burgers
    Myra Breckenridge
    Near the Ship’s fridge?
    Hindi poetry and Santrasya
    Write to delight not simply Hasya
    Sanskrit Prosody
    After the time of some busybody
    All gaudy Of the times past

    Some hot rotees Maa Kee Daal
    Curry Queen Is such a Bean, or,
    This may just be The Halloween
    Guy Fawkes Night Without some Sprite?
    The Martian Night Has two Moons
    And this mountain and that
    Six hours to Cowpat

    Some notable lines
    As the Martian Moons Shine
    Think about that…!

    When I think about writing a text
    Which considers something of
    The genres of writing
    And here on Mars
    It strikes me,
    That publishing, in its commercial version
    Has, always been a farce!

    Promoted by some
    To the detriment of all
    Two hundred and twenty thousand centuries,
    Of pushing the pen,
    On that planet earth
    Did how many light up their hearth?

    Provide food, fodder and fuel,
    to how many
    Crown with the jewel
    For every time a creative pen has moved
    A Shylock or Shylock-ess
    Of some clime has proved
    That they is stronger
    Than the dust in the eye
    This so called diamond of this sky?

    When common thieves
    consider themselves wise
    This is a time
    Above that earth,
    which I just left
    To rise

    Metaphorically
    you the blind do not mind
    That this Martian literature is always about
    The unwind, unwind, unwind

    Or, set up your own press,
    Said the Governess,
    And thus them your fears
    of not having read at all address…

    Nach na jane aangan tedha
    Is all very well
    says the Desi Bhenda
    But need my writing necessarily
    Be in your aangan always?

    And always be your favourite Peda?
    Dem deese local and global publishers
    Are surely and without
    Any exceptions hopelessly Eda.

    And I, Hic...Mr. Rajesh Chaturvedi…?
    Am commissioned by the TISRO
    For the strangest of outer-space experiments
    To try and write a connected prose or a poem
    Using this rhyme or meter
    Of literary means of measurement
    For the suitability and feasibility of any narrative
    In the Martian clime
    Does some mental bells chime
    The discourse of the millennium
    Is sublime

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • The Word Changers (Cont'd.)

    Miguel Bueno the Director of the European and Pacific Regions of the operations of Casa de Wordes was at last attending to some accounts, of the operations by way of exchange of words, and words collected, from the previous day.

    At a sudden thought, he called out to his associate Sanchez Herera.

    "Herera. Show me the words which came in yesterday. Just a sample, actually."

    Sanchez who sat in a nearby well air-conditioned cabin got to work.

    Sanchez, "Hey Miguel. Sample these.

    bulga
    buruwang
    dyiral
    ganing
    garagula
    garrigarrang
    gumirri
    guru
    marrang
    muru
    nura."

    Miguel, "These are from Europe?"

    Sanchez, "Now you are asking. Do you want a sample of the collections or the locations, Miguel?"

    Miguel, "Aha. Yes, My Friend! Well you may like to run me off a list of words and locations of their collection a little later. Just give me some more words, Herera."

    Sanchez, "As you like it.

    badu
    bamal
    barabung, minyimulung
    baragula
    birrung
    buduwangung
    burra, garrayura
    danagal
    duruga
    garaguru
    giba
    gura
    gurbuny
    guwara
    guwing
    marri yanada
    mungi
    murungal."

    Miguel, "Mama Mia. Por fabor, give me the name of the collection agent."

    Sanchez, "One Claude Nowakowski."

    Miguel, "Now the City, please."

    Sanchez, "Reykjavik."

    Miguel, "Reykjavik?!"

    Sanchez, "Yeah! Reykjavik!"

    Miguel, "Okay, okay! But why is our Reykjavik office buying as many climate and nature-related words is what I am wondering about?"

    Sanchez, "Well. Ummmm. Now, let's see. Ummmm...Da. da. da. De. de. de...Well...Ummm. You see...Heh. Heh. Heh."

    Miguel, "Yes? I see...What, Por Babor?"

    Sanchez, "Well, Miguel. Por Fabor. Try to see it this way. They have a lot of...Snow! Global Warming."

    Miguel, "Ah! You mean the Icelandic people are worrying about snow-melt?"

    Sanchez, "Lots of it, Boss. Lot's of it!!!"

    Miguel, "Well, well. Got to get back to work!"

    Sanchez, "Heh. Heh. Heh!"

    Miguel, "Ya. Now give me the list from Milano!"

    Sanchez, "Tutti? Ah. Buena. The words are like this, Senor.

    ecologia
    ambiente
    di montagna
    prospezione."

    Miguel, "Senor Sanchez, E' Tutto?"

    Sanchez, "Senor Bueno, E' Tutti!"

    Miguel, "Okay, Senor. Now give me the list from Delphi, Greece."

    (Cont'd.)

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • Industrial Archaeology of the Ross Islands, Andamans

    Sarnath2015 115

    Sarnath2015 133

    Industrial Archaeology of the Ross Islands, Andamans

    By

    Ajay Pratap

    Introduction

    Industrial archaeology is the study of the technological past of civilizations. On a recent trip to the Andamans, on a family holiday, even as a Prehistorian, I was both surprised and pleasantly delighted, to see that the subject matter of an Industrial archaeology of India, thrives wonderfully at Port Blair and the nearby Islands of the Andaman group. This brief article would seek to summarise that. Thanks to the wonderful management of Indian authorities, the historical relics of this island, are remarkably well-preserved. However, not perhaps as evocatively as would be a tourist's requirement. For as at the Chatham Saw Mill at Port Blair, while the site itself is in a remarkably good fettle, but a few placards worth of information is provided. Clearly, more research could be done. More information provided. There are two industrial archaeology locations that I have seen which are the Tin Mines in Devon and Cornwall, and the Old P.O. Liner Dockyard at the Merseyside in Liverpool. Therefore, as one who has had the benefit of having seen two well-known industrial archaeology locations, I do tend to feel that the displays, or the way they have been set up at Ross Islands, ought to have been stronger on history, for the visitor, which seems to be the basic purpose of having preserved the ruins here.

    The Industrial heritage

    It bears mentioning that the given state of preservation of historical building, monuments and industrial antiquities, in any civilizational context, is a direct product of attitudes to the past prevailing there (Fawcett, 1986, Olsen, 1986). Clearly, there is much in the history of the Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, and the Nicobarese and those others who inhabit this region of India, which we broadly call the Andaman Islands. The Ross Island is but a small part of this historical palimpsest which relates with the Cellular Jail and the history therefore of mainland India. Yet, and in a direct way, we are even in discussing the Cellular Jail, well within the remit of discussing subalternity and Indian History. Finally, a rounded history of Port Blair, as well as of the other Islands of the Andaman Group, may not be considered complete without necessarily finding a place within it for the history of the original settlers of these Islands, which thus far remains within the subject domains of archaeology and anthropology (Cooper, 2002).

    The Components

    For a start, it would be useful to delineate the principal components of the industrial heritage here. The first are the second world war Japanese bunkers which are most noticeable as one alights on the Ross Island jetty. There seems to be a ring of these around the entire island. The visitors are escorted into these as part of the tour, and low-slung though these may be, the walls of the bunkers are exceptionally thick! This particular bunker on the jetty must come for free, as we are expected to purchase our tickets after this viewing! At this jetty, the Andaman administration has a ticket counter for tourists. The tickets here are actually scanned-cards of sorts which identify each visitor uniquely such that for old world ticket purchasers of the most mufassil kind buying these new-fangled sort of tickets to the tour it a great blast! It sort of affirms our place firmly in the 21st century planet earth! Once, you are in and out of the turnstiles, and well into the island, you walk into a greens of sorts, which extends in all directions, except the one you came from. The sun isn’t exactly scorching during winters but it does carry a nasty sting. Visitors then typically group themselves up and start the walk. There is a photo-exhibition at most touristy locales in this part of the world, and the Ross Island is not exception. There is an exhibition that welcomes the guests in which photographs, really old and historically interesting ones, are used along with some well-researched texts offer explanation as to the purpose of each building and related feature of the island. Informative though this is, gradually it gives way to a historical tour, starting with a very ruined and plant-infested building labelled as the Printing Press.

    No sooner have the visitors, in this case us, have finished with looking basically at this most empty sort of building which is also quite dilapidated, that the billboards placed by the Island Authorities attract one’s gaze toward what is probably the best preserved building or structure (second only to the Second World War Japanese Pill-Boxes or Bunkers, that is!) – the swimming pool! A sign at this location suggests that the swimming-pool is also sometimes visited by sharks and crocodiles! There are, however, some historical photographs which suggest how this pool was used during the time the British Colonists occupied this Island. Next, is the water-refinery or the Water Distillation Plant. There are two prominent boilers on display, both in differing but almost similar sates of disrepair! There is a nice view of the sea both from the pool and the boiler. The walkway from here leads along the sea up to another pill-box after which it turns into a rough weather dirt-track or pugdandi, and it is nearly impossible to go any further. This reminder of the walkway ought to be complete, to allow a full circuit of the islands. A small-diversion here, however, leads the visitor, to the newly made zoo, near the Church House, which was made and used by the Islanders! It is surrounded by a number of decrepit and falling-apart residential complexes. The forest department has released peacocks and spotted-deer which roam wildly and mingle with the visitors. The descent from the hill straddling the center of this island where the zoo is located and also the Church House brings us back to the greens again and the jetty and the waiting boat which ferried us across from Port Blair!

    Industrial Archaeology

    The emerging point is that these here are relics of a small habitation of British Officers connected with the administration of the Cellular Jail prison which housed several revolutionaries of the Indian National Movement, 1857 onward, as perhaps and indeed others. This prison, at Port Blair, now itself a tourist hot spot, was a very draconian and notorious prison of British India and the history of that prison is on display, in a great measure, at the prison itself.

    However, apparently, this is where the Governor of that prison and some of the staff lived. So how does that account for a fantastic sound and light show and a perfectly conserved Cellular Jail Prison complex, and a totally abandoned and decrepit Ross Island? I have failed to understand this! Thus far!

    Conclusion

    It comes to pass then, and in the light of such contributions as that of Fawcett (1986), Olsen (1986) and Cooper (2002), who have recently created a fruitful and meaningful context for a proper discussion of the past of ethnic minorities, necessarily within the matrix of national 'pasts', that as in mainland India, where ethnohistory of small-groups has been glossed-over, so it is in these Islands.

    (Cont'd.)

    Bibliography

    Cooper, Z. 2002. Archaeology and History: Early settlement in the Andaman Islands. Oxford University Press. Delhi.

    Fawcett, C. 1986. The Politics of Assimilation in Japanese Archaeology. Archaeological Review from Cambridge. 5.1: 43-56

    Olsen, B. 1986. Norwegian Archaeology and the People Without Pre-(History): Or How to Create a Myth of a Uniform Past. Archaeological Review from Cambridge. 5.1: 25-42.

    (Cont'd.)

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • Bawan Beegha Jameen

    Bawan Beegha Jameen

    by

    Ajay Pratap

    ...

    Kuddan Singh subaha jaldi uthne valon mein se the. Nitya Karm se farig ho kar ab apne favorite khatiye par let kar ab apne bawan beegha kethon kee taraf mukhatib ho kar dheeme dheeme muskura rahe the. Phir halke se apni choti-choti muchon par halke halke aur chote chote taw de kar achanak voh is khayal mein pahns gaye kee akhir unki ma ne unka naam Kuddan kyon rakha tha.

    Unkee ma ne unhe yeh samjhaya tha ki grameen bharat mein 'Kuddan' shabd kee bahut hi upadeyata evam sarthakta hai. Unki Ma jinka naam Tulsee tha ne unse ek baar kahaa tha "Beta Kuddan, Kuddan use kahate hain jisase Bihar aur Uttar Pradesh ke Kisan aksar awaidh tarike se bijalee churate hain."

    Tab abodh shishoo Kuddan ne apnee ma se yeh pucha

    "Ma. Avaidh kise kahate hain?" Unki Ma ne tab kaha, "Are Beta voh bhi kabhee to ke samjhaye deb, pehele hamaka toke Kuddan ka ha se e Samjhaway Ka Padee!"

    "Acha Mai, Je Tu Kah."

    "Tab Beta Kuddan, hum kahat rahli ki gaon-dehat mein Beta, ek the bans kee phathee se apan loha k taar sarkari bijlee k line par chadhai k, made in china water-pump k dui-char ghanta chalai k, apne khetwa kee sinchai k ke, phin pumpwa k khol k, apnee cycle ki kareer mein bandh k, phin ohi bans k phatthi se uhai avaidh Kuddanwa k uthar k, Huan Se Phirant!!!"

    "Phirant! Phirant? Phirant ka hoila Mai?", asked a bhola bhala Kuddan Singh again.

    Tulsi, "Are Beta, phirant maine Jaldi Se Huan Se Bhagal."

    Kuddan, "Aur Awaidh?"

    Tulsi, "Awaidh matlab Galat Kaam, Jurm ya Choree-Badmasee aur Ka?"

    Then suddenly he snapped out of this daydream as a really minuscule humming bird started hovering around his very immodestly out-sized nose. He tried swatting it thinking it to be a fly. Gradually, the humming bird decided to go after more worthwhile objects to win its daily bread. It was then that Kuddan Singh's appetite for reading hit him with the force of a diesel engine. He reached for a book which he had carried with him to his charpoi Models and Analogies in the Social Sciences by Martin Dobzhansky and then on the strength of his earlier browsing of this famous work, Kuddan Singh Ji turned the pages till he reached the Chapter entitled Metaphors and the Social Sciences. The text of it ran something like this.

    "What are Metaphors and how do they play an important role in the Social Sciences will be the concern of this Chapter of this work. How are metaphors different from similes as discussed in the previous chapter? Well Similes are really a relation of likeness, and this is true in all cases of the use of Similes. Metaphors, however, are quite another thing and have greater relevance to the Social Sciences as compared with Similes which aid the Humanities and the Arts more than they do the Social Sciences..."

    As one who quite hated lengthy introductions to texts of any sort, Kuddan shifted his gaze a little lower down this page, and then started reading again.

    "Metaphors aid social sciences in as much as they enrich the language we use to communicate. A priori, adjectives like 'big', 'huge', 'commonly' etc. are used ad nauseum in writing of social sciences literature, and this must be qualified as such adjectives a priori make little sense. Metaphors intervene here to make more explicit what exactly is the drift of thoughts in any particular piece of social science writing...Thus 'That Man is a Wolf' for example may communicate more expressively than any single adjective. Thus Metaphors are really a case of an Analogy where there is not a necessary logical connection between the explanans and the explanandum. Similes do this too, however, very much less effectively or explicatively. It is by transgressing the limits of logic, but quite sticking with linguistic conventions since language once originated Metaphors express better. In the Social Sciences, the use of similes is a comparatively a bit of a Cold Fish! Thus since a metaphor is a figure of speech which seeks to explain the properties of a person or an object, it may well have been in use since prehistoric times and may be seen to be reflected in prehistoric languages as indeed in prehistoric art. Carrying on further, since all art is bound within the matrix of the language group or family, of any given region, to which the artiste or the artists belong, whether in the present or the past, art of any kind, if it may be called that, to some extent, is bound to reflect the metaphors in use within that language, of that region...thick reading such as this does satisfy parts of the mind which other sorts of readings do not!

    Hence, Shri Kuddan Singh Ji now turned to his own writing a bit and thus to picking-up a sheaf of his own notes on a research paper he had just started penning: Teachers, Touts and Tradesmen: Bawan Beegha Bazaar in the 19th Century. To avoid the most debilitating heat which was to come with the noonday Sun, Kuddan started to write rapidly.

    "In the circumstance that my forefathers have left me this very rich heritage of no less than Bawan Beeghas of most tractable land, which having been put to use, in a most profitable way, no doubt on account of the pre-existing high fertility alluvium of this area of our estates, I am now moved to add, and in that order of subjects; that the profits accruing to Kuddan & Co., on account of the Bazaar Property, also bequeathed by my notable ancestors of Pergunnah Deorii, are all yielding geometrically increasing rents. We have also started a small museum of unique oriental curiosities, along the Ganges. Most worthwhile an expenditure of our energies and otherwise expenditures has been the subject of the the creation of a local collegiate school and an Intermediate College, for arts and sciences, called the Ripudaman Singh Mahavidyalaya. We have also established the Ripudaman Singh Vishwavidyalaya for Higher Studies. The courses shall be as follows:

    Domestic Science (One Year Diploma)
    Creative Uses of the Internet (Two Years Diploma)
    Creative Uses of Advertising (One Year Diploma)...(Cont'd.)"

    (Contd.)

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

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