• Why Paint on Rocks?

    Friends,

    At work since 2009 now with the Rock Art of Mirzapur. Yet, the most interesting question which emerges is Why Paint on Rocks? Here are a few examples of rock paintings from Mukkha Dari at Ghorawal. This site is located in the old channel of the river Belan and is only slightly far away from the Sone and its attendant rivers like Chopan.

    Approach to Mukkha Dari Rock Art Site

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    Paintings at Mukkha Dari Rock Shelter

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    Wide-angle View

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    Is it because good surfaces for painting with the use of mineral colours were available?

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    Did the landscape around this site provide any ideas? Any reveries? Enough has been said about a psychoanalysis of fire. How about one of the landscape?

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    With landscape all around, did the prehistoric reverie turn only to things on it and within it?

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    What value accrued to human society after these paintings were put in place?

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    Bibliography

    Bachelard, G. Psychoanalysis of Fire.

    Tilley, C. Phenomenology of The Landscape.

    (Cont'd.)

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • The Ancestor

    The Ancestor

    A

    Short Story

    By

    Ajay Pratap

    ...

    There was once a man named Bhikkhu. Bhikkhu lived in a forested village and thus had plenty of space in which to roam, play his flute, graze and tend his goats, or to lie idle on the wet grass, gazing at a setting sun, followed by the rising moon, and then the stars. This he did for some twenty-five years of his life. Then one day, as he was lazing on his wet grassy-bed, gazing at a distant star, he was reminded of a story his old grandmother had told him long ago about one of the constellations that were very visible to him right now.

    She had said that all good men of his tribe who died had become stars of that constellation. That leads, Bhikkhu thought, to the simple conclusion, that other groups of stars were then also ancestors and friends who had of other tribes, who had either died separately or together. She had said further that on some nights of the year, these star-men descended to the earth to ask after their respective clan's welfare and brought for them gifts.

    However, she did add that these star men looked a little different from their tribe. And that depended on which clans they belonged to when they were alive. If their totem was the Kusum flower, or the palm tree, or the tiger, or the leopard, or the lion, or the jackal, or the deer, or the Mahua flower, or the Jamun tree, then their bodies were altered suitably after their death and before they became stars. However, dead or alive, they remained kinsmen and attached to their respective clans and therefore posed no threat at all to the people they met on their infrequent visits.

    Bhikhu's mind then turned again to looking at the stars. He suddenly saw a very bright shooting star, and what is that he wondered as he heard a heavy object thud, with a loud splash, in a nearby pond that he knew so well. On this moonlit night the water of the pond looked very inviting for a quick dip and a bath, however, Bhikkhu, naturally, had other questions on his mind, as he did hear that thud and splash, such sounds as he had, never before, in twenty-five years of his living memory, he had ever heard. So he proceeded a little closer to the pond to investigate the source of that sound.

    The waters of the pond had a slight ripple, but no more was indicated, as to what might have fallen in it all so suddenly. Then he gradually leant forward and took some of the pond-water and drank it out of impulse, perhaps a sudden thirst generated by this sudden event. Gradually as his eyes focused enough to be able to see the pond water more clearly in the bright moonlight he saw an amazing thing.

    A number of very strange fish were swimming in the pond water as it was visible to him at that point. Thus without further thought and out of plain curiosity and without remembering anything of his grandmother's tale Bhikkhu reached forward and literally took one of these fish in his hand. it came easily and without any struggle whatsoever and neither was it huffing and puffing like fish usually do if they leave water.

    The first curious thing Bhikkhu noted was that the fish had very fishy whiskers. Next that it lacked gills. What sort of a fish is this, thought Bhikkhu? And I wonder if I can eat this one. He continued looking at it for some further spell of time. No fishy stench emanated from it, like it does from any other fish. And the fish as he soon noticed was not quite dead either. Next he looked more closely at the pond water in the bright moonlight.

    There were approximately three types of fish, according to colour - the pink ones, the blue ones and the red ones. A thought suddenly came to his mind that the pink ones were good fish, the blue ones, he would have to be careful with, and, the red ones, as their colour suggested, were best left far and well alone. Presently he had a pink fish in his hand and he continued to look at its visage in the moon light.

    It was certainly very large, as fishes go, and must weigh at least a few kilograms. Aside of its whiskers it sported two feelers, like those of snails, at the very front of its head. Its eyes, Bhikkhu thought, were by far, the most interesting part. They were glowing a little greenish, in the dark, and seemed to look right into his and through his eyes right into his mind. And then, again, was Bhikkhu reminded of his grandmother's story about clan ancestors descending from the stars. Was this fish one of them? The thought arose.

    If so, thought Bhikkhu, what am I now supposed to do? Grandmother had died a long time ago. Could it be her, right here, looking into his eyes? How am I to deal with this ancestor? Shall I take it back to the village? Such questions flooded his mind so that Bhikkhu stepped back from the pond and looked to his restive goats, the stars above, and then began a mid-night trek back to his village, with this strange fish in-hand. It was now nearly midnight and Bhikkhu was greeted only by the raucous barking of the dogs of his village.

    Hedi, Hedi! He said to quieten the dogs, and then slowly found his way around the narrow footpaths, herded his goats into the goats’ enclosure in his compound, and then rattled the latch on his door to wake up his wife. His wife, also a village-woman called Dhenki, woke-up, and opened the door complaining at once of his late coming and as to what was the potential reason. Bhikkhu said nothing at all and lowered his head, fish in hand, and entered the very large hut. Inside the dying embers of the cooking-hearth illuminated his forty square foot hut.

    His wife said that his dinner was ready. He laid down his wooden staff and his hatchet, flute and some fruits and roots he had collected during the day, on a mud-shelf by the fireside and then turned to speak with Dhenki. However, before that he accepted a glass of very sweet and cold water which his wife had proffered him, seeing him sweating and panting from his daylong exertions.

    She did not, even as Bhikkhu began drinking that glass, notice what he held in his hand, owing to the fact that the dying embers of the hearth did not generate enough luminosity for the purpose. After Bhikkhu had drunk his fill, he started to talk.

    "It is strange what happened today."

    "What indeed, did happen".

    Bhikkhu extended his hand and proffered the very large pink fish he had picked up and carried from the pond to his wife.

    "Why, that's just a fish. Do you want me to cut it and cook it up?"

    "Oh, No! Not, at all!"

    "Why, on earth?"

    "Precisely", said Bhikkhu, "This fish is not from the earth at all"

    "I see! Then, where, kindly, can it possibly be from?"

    "Well, you see. It is a long story..."

    "As it usually is…", said Dhenki, released a yawn, and started putting together the dinner, warming it, squatting near the hearth, lighting a kerosene lamp, and waiting for Bhikhu's latest story, to roll on.

    "You see dear Dhenki", continued Bhikkhu, "as usual I was lying next to the pond where we graze our goats every day. And then suddenly there was a loud noise like something falling into the pond. And then when I went to the pond to investigate what it was that fell into it, I saw a number of differently coloured fish swimming in it. You know very well that our mountain fish do not grow to this size", here he paused to let his story thus far sink in.

    "So what if they usually don't. Maybe the gods are kind to us this year?"

    "Gods? Kind? This Year?"

    "Yes. I mean this strange looking fish could have grown to this size and colour purely from natural reasons. Remember what huge mushrooms we had for dinner a few years ago. Our mountain mushrooms, usually, do not grow to that size."

    "Yes dear, I see your point. But for the life of me, I cannot help imagining that this fish is something else. Here, take it in your hand and see."

    Presently, Dhenki takes the fish in her hands and examines it by the dying embers of the hearth and beside the kerosene lamp.

    "Yes, this pink colour is a little funny...and why has it got the feelers of a snail? I would, most certainly, refuse to eat anything like this, cooked or uncooked."

    Patiently, Bhikkhu, added, "No, dear...nobody is suggesting, at all, that you eat it...indeed it is one of our ancestors, in the sky, come back."

    "You are not here referring to your Grandmother's tale???"

    "Yes, indeed, I am."

    "But that is what your Grandmother said, not mine."

    "Yes, but that does not discredit what my Grandmother also said!"

    "Fine, then...Let me have your theory in a more comprehensible form."

    "It is like this, Dhenki Dear. My grandmother believed very firmly that our totemic ancestors come to visit us once in awhile and bring gifts for us. However, they do not look like us. Now study this fish. It has no gills, it does, however, have feelers, it is hours since I took it out of the water and yet it is alive and breathing in some way that we do not understand. Also, I shall here mention, that, and using my grand-mother's parameters, if this is a totemic ancestor of ours, that is my tribe, then it would communicate only with me.

    Now, when, I first held this fish, in my hand, a great serenity descended upon me. Not a trace of any fear at all remained, which I felt, at once, as I heard a very-loud splash of something falling into the pond; that even you have heard of by now. Then I stepped closer to the pool of water, and by the even insufficient moonlight at this time of the year, I could see these luminous fish swimming in the water. They were this pink, red and blue in colour.

    I left the blue and red ones alone, as they looked dangerous, and took this pink one in my hand, which now lies before you. At once the universe swirled in my mind. I was reminded that we are not alone in this forest abode of ours, and, that, it is not our tribe alone that inhabits it, nor, indeed our neighboring tribes, but also spirits of this world and the next. Very soon I felt a gentle presence next to me..." said Bhikkhu.

    "And, who do you think that was?" prodded Dhenki

    Bhikkhu said, "That smelt just like my Grand-uncle! His sweat, his peculiar dirt and his very identifiable grime."

    Dhenki, yawned, and looked at him, not one bit convinced, “You wouldn’t have meant that Sheku Chacha of yours who was so well known for his slothful behaviour?"

    "Yes, Yes", cried Bhikkhu, "It is that selfsame Chacha. Oh, how I loved him, when I was but a little boy. It is true he did not achieve much as a shifting cultivator, nor hunter. However, he and I, spent much time together sitting next to that same pond and throwing stones into it. He used to regale me with such fantastic stories as would make your mind spin"

    Dhenki, bored at this point, with mention of the spirit world, and a no good relative of her husband's, thought giving a turn to the conversation, a good idea, and thus, prodded Bhikhu's, at this point emotional narrative, towards the phantasmagorical.

    Dhenki, “So. Do go on and tell me one of your Sheku Chacha's stories which you thought were so fantastic."

    "Oh. You would like to hear, would you, now?"

    "Yes, yes! Please go on. Do tell me", pleaded Dhenki.

    "O.K."

    The hearth fire sputtered a bit and some of the logs in it cracked-open, with a thunderous noise, sending up a shower of sparks, which is quite common in tribal hilly locales and on such a cold night as our Dhenki and Bhikkhu were engaged in this very historic of conversations, according to the tribal calendar.

    "Oh, there were once two huge snakes...”, started Bhikkhu, " All the Jungle was in absolute terror of them. But that was for no one particular reason, as every bird and bee, even a mosquito, lowly as it may seem, is our ancestor, re-born, this way or that. But that was at the very beginning of this Earth"

    The hearth fire sputtered a bit again.

    Dhenki asked, "And then what?"

    Bhikkhu, "And so the terror of these two brother snakes spread far and wide even as they depleted steadily the living and non-living creatures of that forest. They spared none, men, Women, Children, trees, plants, the grass...they ate them all-up...they destroyed all crops...ate up all the fruits and vegetables...drank-up all the water from the streams...and at the very last...they reached for the skies.. to eat up the stars...!"

    Dhenki, "And then?"

    Bhikkhu, "And then, I think I shall have a drink of water, before proceeding any further". So saying Bhikkhu reached for the earthenware pot and scooped him a cup after cup of cold water until he quenched his thirst. Having done that he restarted the tale.

    "And when the snake brothers reached up to the stars they quite forgot that the stars are but our ancestors, even theirs, and it is not simply possible to gobble-up dead ancestors!"

    "Aha", said Dhenki, a little perked-up by the silver lining in Bhikhu's until now very sorrowful narrative.

    "Phir kya hua", said Dhenki.

    "Phir, Kya. Un dono ki phat gayee."

    "Phat gayee?'.

    "Hahn. Tycho Brahe se pucho naa! ki exploding star to swallow karne se kaya hota hai?"

    "Ye, Tyco Brahe Kon Hai?"

    "Are hai na ek, Behn. tum kai ko tension leta?"

    "Tension..kai ka tension..bol na bhai?"

    "Dekh behn..abhi apun ko shaan-patti nai dene ka, kya...batta na handi main kya tha?"

    "Sach bolti re...panee tha.."

    "Aisa pani...wah..bhai aisa pani...bhai, aisa pani to bohot ddeen se nahi piya that...thoda sa aur de na...!"

    "Pani naheen...handiya tha re...aur apnee tribal society hai hee egalitarian....tho apun bhi thoda sa lagaleyala hai, kya...?"

    "Handiya..sach boli tu...akhi...akhi...!"

    "Han...akhi Bhandup."

    "Han akhi bhandup main apun ko koirala ke naam se jante"

    "Just as I am Mulibai Sarraf", said Dhenki.

    Here the forest fires finally sputter and die down altogether until the morning.

    The night has been filled with dogs barking whining and what not. Forest noises. Toads mating calls, Jhingur Chik-Mik,. An uneasy night. a good one for ancestors to descend. however - the sun shines slowly, coming up slow almost as if it is afraid to get a parking ticket, mist all around, the goats paw the ground restless-ly inside tribal huts, stinking with their urine and faeces, waiting to have a go at the soft-grass of the morning-dew, where only midnight hares and hogs roam, which makes a good-chew.

    The morning, unlike Alaska, is never white in the Indies. Slowly Bhikkhu gathers himself reaches for his Lota and heads for the forest, with his Lungi upturned, for his morning ablutions. A slow half-hour later, when he has glanced at all the familiar plants around him, as most villagers of his hamlet have favoured locations, and has studied the dung-beetles at their best, he decides to wind-up his freshening process and heads back to his village for his many daily responsibilities.

    He has to hack wood and hew water. Wash his clothes. Fill up a few earthenware pots with water, bring them back to the hut, and then and only then, and after his breakfast has been served, would he depart for the hills again in the company of his goats, and so to look into the matter of the ancestor-fish, in the daylight glare. Thus on this appointed day in February, Bhikkhu counts his goats, which number twenty in all, and then waves his stick to goad them to move on. The herd of goats then bleats their cognizance and move into the general directions of the forest.

    Today, Bhikkhu was determined to visit Chando Pahar, where he had been the previous night, near the pond, and from where he had picked-up the ancestor-fish. It is indeed a long, but pleasant walk, as the morning sun is coming up, and the goats chew a little grass but generally cooperate with Bhikkhu so that he is able to reach Chando Pahar and the pond before too long. Along the way he has thought variously that his people have always believed in spirits like the one that is the keeper of all the tigers. He is usually a man who has been killed by a tiger and has then turned into a spirit. he roams about the forest, very fierce in countenance, and all tigers owe him allegiance.

    Thus was the fish that breathes out of the water a spirit incarnate. If so then what indeed was it an embodiment of? What are her properties? These all were very perplexing but to Bhikkhu, very urgent questions as he arrives by the pond. Here is surprise is doubled. The colour of the water, which until yesterday had been very clean, and whereas the pond-water had been potable, today is had become mucky, green, filled with algae and all sorts of sloshing and squirming type of pond-life. The red, blue and other fish he had seen yesterday were to be seen nowhere. They couldn’t possibly have walked away in the span of a night? So what indeed had happened, Bhikkhu wondered. His chain of thoughts ran something like this.

    I have seen plants grow. They start from the smallest of pollen then turn into seeds, slowly the infant sapling burgeons, and then after a very long time indeed the plant takes shape, much later it becomes the size of tree it should be. All trees do not grow to the same colour, shape, size, nor, indeed, do their flowers look or smell the same. Take the difference between the Mahua Tree and the Jamun Tree. Thus if the fish were to grow into something, what indeed, would that be? Logic suggested that they would grow into something resembling fish.

    However, as he, and Dhenki, had already seen, this fish was anatomically similar but qualitatively very different as it could breathe on land as well. Then he remembered his grandmothers tale and come to a conclusion in a flash - Star Men. The immediate question that then arose, to Bhikhu's mind, was - what on earth would they look like? How would or how could a fish transform into a human for them to be called Star-Men? How would he at all recognize them? His mind drifts this way and that.

    Clay figurines. He had seen his Grandmother making many of these when he was a child. Some of these had human forms but not entirely so. Some of these he could not even recognize as properly human. Which of these? Which of these indeed, could he possibly, recollect, in totality, or, at least in part, as far as their features are concerned? How would such a recollection be significant at all to his present enterprise? And, then, from where does derive the images of the gods of his people, Bhikkhu thought. Surely, there is, another story, there, Bhikkhu thought.

    Imagination, his grandmother had told him, is at the source of all human creative expressions like agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting, fishing, laying the flute, drawing pictures with Atta (or flour), wall-paintings with vegetable colours and dyes, and ultimately fashioning figures out of clay. Bhikkhu was skilled in other matters too. He could fashion a lowland plough in a jiffy, make bows and arrows with metal heads etc. Clay figures however were not in his area of expertise. Yet, seeing is believing, and knowing. Thus, the question, that rankles his mind stays where it is - what would be the shape of the humanoids that would emerge from the fish, he had seen the previous night? Like a flash of light, the answer emerges, from his mind, too - like humans!

    So that answers it, he thought. His next thought, very logically, turned to his hearth, house and housewife Dhenki, in the context of the fish-ancestor he had brought home the previous night, and in keeping with the pond-fishoids, he must also, by now, have transformed into a lost and previously forgotten human relative. And With that thought, and as it was still mid-morning, Bhikkhu shouted a command to his goats to wander not-too-far, and bolted back homewards.

    As he approached the village, yet afar, he could detect a strange, almost fishy-smell in the air. He thought, but then all creatures carry one sort of body odour or another. Thus, arriving home, he found a very aged and very bearded old man sitting on one of his charpoys, smoking a Bidi. Bhikkhu had suspected that he would be a star-man and hence hastened to touch his feet and offer his profuse Salaam, for starters. Then he shouted to Dhenki to prepare some tea and serves some sweetmeats to boot. It is then that the bearded old man took cognizance of Bhikhu's presence and shifted his eyes from gazing at the landscape around the village to Bhikkhu.

    Thus spake the old man: The old man said, "My name is Bhringaraj. I come from the very distant star Pradyot and I am your great-great-great-grandfather."

    Bhikhu's life, until then, went by like a flash through his mind's eye. At last my suspicions are proved correct. The truth-value of my grandmother's tale at last is also vindicated, he thought. More such thoughts came and went and at last Bhikkhu regained his senses enough to be looking at his ancestor, thus appeared, and began to formulate some elements of a potential conversation with him.

    "Dear Bhringaraj Ji. We are indeed honoured that you should have thought of coming down to our humble abode from such a distant place. Do tell us what brings you here?" said Bhikkhu.

    Bhringaraj took a long, humoured and kind look at his descendant and quite without laughing at all said, "Dear Great-great-great Grandson. What has your Grandmother or Mother named you?"

    "Uduchi. Bhikhandas Uduchi", said Bhikkhu.

    "Oh, Good.", said the old man, “Then we are still sticking with our totems.", and continued, "Do you have any brothers and sisters?"

    "Yes, seventeen", said Bhikkhu, "Ten brothers, and six sisters."

    "Pray, tell me their names.", said the old man.

    Said Bhikkhu, "Well there is Asvagandha, she is a sister, Isabgol, he is a brother, Khair, he is a brother, Neem, She is a sister, Jayaphal, She is a sister, Chiraita, also a sister, Harra and Behera, both no good brothers, Dalchini, a sister, Lavang, a brother, Mirchi, a very good sister, Sonth, a very nice-smelling brother, Hing, also a very nice smelling-brother; Dhaniya, Pudina, Jamun, Mahua, Bel, Barhar, Katahal and Amaltas, all very good brothers. So dear ancestor, come from the distant planet Pradyot, these are the names."

    "Ah. But their number exceeds."

    "Yes. We use the Sexigesimal system of counting, or didn't you know? it is the latest and quite a craze. What numbering system, Dear great-great-great-grandfather, did you all use in your time?”

    "Oh, the quinquennial or some such system, see with this confounded constantly expanding universe of ours our space-time experience is tending towards an orange like structure and we are currently occupied with the mathematics of this problem and have had to conjure quite an another number system. You see, even on the distant planet Pradyot where all your ancestors now live, we still follow the totemic system and have hence this underdevelopment number system named as the Alphalpha system.

    The archivist of our quite another sort of archive, which if you are interested, I shall seek to explain later-on, insists that it is the ancient Greeleeks, rather than the ancient Indians who formulated the first concepts of the cosmos. the debate between him, and he is ancestor to another tribe of the Nilgiris, the Bda, and us from Bemba, rages-on, even as we work in this fantastic library of ours, on this Alphalpha system of numbers. at one level, dear great-great-great-grandson, I feel the utter futility of this debate since if our ultimate human ancestors all descended upon the earth at the same time, then who is to say who was first and who was last in defining the behaviour of the universe as behaving this way or that? Rather childish, then, this proposition, of who came first and who last?

    Nevertheless, our latest researches show that the human that is the earthly human-brain compartmentalizes categorizes and hierarchizes every bit of data we take in through our sensory organs. This, as we are only now discovering, in this unusual library of ours, run by Mikkhu, the librarian of the Bda Tribe of the Nilgiris, may not be the best way to store sensory-data.

    There must be another system whereby we may bypass these futile categories and singularity may be introduced into human memory. Which is to say that we ought to be able to remember everything and all at once so as to confront the multivariate problems facing your planet all at once. Look at where the categorized-thinking data is leading us. While we mend one component another runs astray, and so on!"

    "Well, then, dear great-great-great grandfather, what is so distant as your planet Pradyot may not necessarily have the answer to this problem all by itself as the saying goes all that glitters is not necessarily a star! Please try to use our latest sexigesimal system and see how the mathematics of the space-time curvature or singularity problem is affected by our system?"

    "What an absurd idea, this system of yours. It is not even precise to what we are trying to count, namely your brothers and sisters, how on Pradyot will it solve the space-time singularity problem? And what about the multivariated-ness of a given problem. Only if the variables may be numbered and quantified may we measure their variability from the standard? Isn't it?"

    Bhikkhu, " Look here great-great-great-Grandfather. Let us agree to disagree until Lunch."

    Bhikkhu calls to his wife, Dhenki, and asks her politely, to bring lunch for the three of them. Dhenki is shy of the descended and absolutely very senior Father-in-law, declines to lunch with them, and suggests that she would instead lunch in her kitchen, brings to the duo, two Thalees filled with hot steaming rice, some hot steaming Dal, some spicy mixed vegetables and two largish cups of very spicy mutton that she has been preparing as the ancestor and her husband have been discussing the nature and state of knowledge-processing in this planet and that.

    Bhikkhu, "Dear great-great-great-grandfather. Let us lunch and then, first, I would like to hear how this library of yours on Pradyot works."

    "Ya. That's O.K.", says great-great-great Grandfather Bhringaraj as he digs into what has been served without further ado. Gradually the lunch is over and they both decide to take a brief siesta on the many cots which are available in Bhikkhu's homestead. As sleep takes over Grandfather and Grandson, the nearby hills and valleys, his wife Dhenki, and his goats are regaled with a bewildering variety and intensity of snores, which presented as it is in duo is no less than a modern-day sonata of sorts, perhaps even an Opera, such as Don Pasquale. At about four in the evening the slumbers of grandfather and grandson are broken rudely by two he-goats quarreling and they are thus awoken to their incomplete narratives of libraries of other sorts on the planet Pradyot.

    Bhringaraj, "You see, grandson, on Pradyot, we have gone beyond the print and the electronic versions of libraries. It is all oral for the reader to catch exactly what is being said in a work. thus we have archived all the works ever written on this planet and many others and Mikkhu's greatness lies in the fact that he has had these very large number of works converted into their verbal or auditory form. Thus it is that in our library we sit and listen to works rather than read them sensu stricto."

    Bhikhandas Uduchi, "Aha. So along with totem here, there is oral tradition there!"

    Bhringaraj, "Yes, yes, My Boy! Totem here and Oral Tradition There! That is how the universe moves. How long would you be reading books for I ask you? What would you do when your eyes are no good for that purpose? Would you then chose illiteracy?"

    Bhikkhu, "No. Most certainly not. OK. Then tell me Grandpa, what other features does this interplanetary library of yours have?"

    Bhringaraj, "For instance, grandson, we have an infinite number of books, standard and as I just explained the entirely phonetic ones."

    Bhikkhu, "And all the ancestors of Indian Tribes are on your Planet Pradyot?"

    Bhringaraj, "That is Right?"

    Bhikkhu, "So how many ancestors in all, eh Grandpa?"

    Bhringaraj, "36, 000000000 at a moderate estimate"

    Bhikkhu, "My goodness me! 36, 000000000. That by far outnumbers the total population of our whole planet"

    Bhringaraj, "So what of it? Consider that modern humans have been on the Indian Subcontinent only 60000 years, give each generation a life-span of about a hundred years, divide 60000 by 100 to give you the number of generations, and multiply it by 60,000000, which is the current tribal population of India."

    Bhikkhu, "That is right. About thirty-Six Trillion"

    Bhringaraj, "Yes. That is thirty-six trillions of ancestors and not anything else, so how many books do you think our interplanetary library needs to have?"

    Bhikkhu, "Well if an average ancestor would read about 100 books a year, for starters, we would have to multiply 36 trillion by a hundred to give us a basic library."

    Bhringaraj, "Ok. So now we are getting somewhere. But how much is 36 trillion multiplied by a hundred? Cor Blimey mate, in our simple day to day tribal life in India we have never had to deal with such astronomical figures before!!! When did you say dinner would be served, and what indeed are we having for dinner, may we have some tea right now? Do call the good woman of your house?"

    Bhikkhu, "Hold it. Grandad." And then he calls-out to Dhenki who acknowledges it demurely from the kitchen and let's him know that dinner is ready and is on its way.

    Bhikkhu then asks Bhringaraj, "Tell me Granddad. Do you have Handiya on Pradyot?"

    Bhringaraj's eyes light-up at the mention of Handiya like a starry-starry-night.

    Bhringaraj, "No, no, Dear Grandson. We are not allowed Handiya at all on Pradyot. They say, you have had enough of it on Earth, so please spend all your time here reading and writing."

    "Are you suggesting that some of that may be available with you?"

    Bhringaraj here looks at his Grandson with a very benevolent and pleading look.

    "Sure thing, Granddad, Plenty of it. Just give me a minute."

    Presently, night has already fallen and thus Bhikhandas Uduchi removes himself from the cot where he has been sitting in front of his ancestral paternal grandfather, and moves into another dark or rather dimly-lit part of his hut, and rummages. Finally, he removes a heap of clothes and finds an earthen-pitcher full of about five liters of Handiya and lugs it back to where his grandfather is still seated and drawing on a freshly lit Bidi. His eyes light-up as he sees his most worthy grandson bringing a more than generous helping of Handiya. Bhikkhu also places on the ground a small cloth carpet, sets down two small glasses, some chutney and fried grams, chillies, salt, and invites his grandparent to come sit with him on the floor. Presently, Bhringaraj moves his limbs and sits down cross-legged with great difficulty, Oohs and Aahs a lot, and says that on a cold night like this Handiya is the only cure for such aches and pains which he has due to his advanced age. Happy he is, though, and nevertheless. Slowly, the duo, sip away, or rather knock back, the Handiya poured gently from the pitcher into the two glasses, and soon enough their tongues loosen, and Dhenki's latest culinary marvel sends its pleasant tidings through the aromas wafting forth from the kitchen.

    Bhikkhu, "So Grandpa. Tell me."

    Bhringaraj, "Heh heh heh."

    Bhikkhu, "No. No. Don’t be shy."

    Bhringaraj, "Can't you wait a few more minutes. The cold is just about leaving my body, grandson."

    (Cont'd.)

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • The Lob

    The Lob

    A Short Story

    By

    Ajay Pratap

    ...

    Author's note:

    Friends, in Stephenian Slang, a Lob, is entirely a joke. However, this is entirely also a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any persons, places or things, is a matter of pure coincidence, and is not meant to be taken seriously.

    ...............

    The Island republic of Mayonnaise was on fire.

    Their demagogue, dictator, Michael DeFranco Moraes, with his wife Esmeralda DeFranco Moraes seated next to him, was busy adding further fuel to the fires he himself had had created.

    "Hah. these western countries, including China, Taiwan, and Formosa, and dey tell us that "the days of the innumerate are indeed numbered". So far so good. But, I will tell you, and am doing so, that if indeed these western countries were such good at numbers demselves, den why in the heaven did they have dis recesshon?

    I do naat buy it. How may you be good at de number-game, dey caal dis da number-crunchin, for which dem using de supercomputor, and yet de demselves loose de trak of dare dem numbers, so daat de dare own economies come a down craashing.

    Friends, Romans, and countrymen, I say, da proof of da puddin lies in da eatin.

    a tumultuous and a very thunderous applause here follows from the citizens of the island republic of Mayonnaise.

    "llang live Michael. Laan Libe Esmeralda. Laang Libe Mayonnaise."

    And then very suddenly, the assembled crowd broke into an very sudden and very explosive laughter, like ha ha ha ha, for DeFranco Moraes was indeed a son of the soil, and, quite one of dem.

    ................

    As this meeting was taking place in the one and only football-stadium owned by the Island of Mayonnaise, which is to say by DeFranco Moraes, who is the leader, as well as by the audience, dey den adjourned, but remained seated in in their seats; for the next item on the agenda, for that lovely December morning - was a football match between the National Team and DeFranco Team.

    The national team were dressed in all deep navy blue attire: boots, stockings, shorts and vests; whereas, the DeFranco Team in all reds. The national team grouped themselves up put their hands around each others shoulders then linked their heads cropped clean of tousled hair and such things and gave a spine chilling and blood-curdling roar as black panthers of the forest are wont to do before they go in for a kill.

    And then the commentator Johannes Rumbles took to the mike, "Michael DeFranco's team, the Reds, quite predictably are attired all in red. Dem all are standin quite still, jus lookin an lookin...as de national team are flex dere, muscles huff an puff on this December mornin....De krowd dem aal jus cheerin an cheerin an cheerin...and that is just very well as we are abowt to see the final match of this years Mayonnaise Memorial Match for which we have been waiting this full-year. Both the teams present here have slagged their way up a very difficult and very competitive ladder...hello, hello..one, two, three, four, testing testing...what de problem with dis Mike, I say...One two three four testing, testing...Can you aal here me?"

    The crowd on that December morning are all in a very jovial mood and hence clap, shout and wave their answer in the positive.

    "Right. then we are baak in da game...as I was sayin...The Match Referee Peter Dimbleby has given the whistle and aal da players are now gathering at the frontline...aal stretching dere limbs...excited...nervous...the white and black, football, has been placed at the center of the field...the referee has caaled the two captains of the two sides for the toss....hey maan cecil...dis fruitkake is really cool...pass me some more cofee...the captains are shivering...a little...no doubt due to this December cold...and a little bit of de excitement...Peter, da great, tosses the coin...random chance, game theory, some western experts say...let's see who gets the kick-off. Peter shows the card...and it is indeed the Reds dat get the kick-off."

    Den dis one and only stadiam of the Island of Da Mayonnaise erupts...into a mega-maad explosion of da cheers. hooting and whatchamacaalit..the dem strange flute-music..from da Hill of da flutes....penpe, penpe, penpe. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Da Yung and Da Old, The Shy and Da Bold...Da Footbaal Game is On. Hip, Hip, Hurray.""

    The people of the Island of Mayonnaise rose up in support of their favourite commentator Johannes Rumbles, and began again to clamour and cheer thus:

    "Laang Libe Franco. Laang Libe Moraes. Laang Libe Mayonnaise."

    And then, very suddenly Clifton Hendricks, Captain, of the Red Team, the center-forward, used his right leg to slice the football laterally, to his left-side, to another forward player, Tim Silverspoon.

    Here the commentator Johannes Rumbles takes over the stadium again using the loudspeaker over there.

    "De baal is off its mark Hendricks has passed it to Silver. Silver has stopped it with his left. He moves forward, dribbles past John Hacmeyer, and passes it to to the right-out Peter Richards. Richards has the baal now and he is moving towards the D. Will he take a kick from this distance or will he? Yes, indeed, he does do dat. Peter has slammed his right into the baal and awaaaaaaaaaay she goes curving in the air right over the mid-field players, the backs, the D, and from above the goalee's outstretched and flailing hands right into the goal-post, What a superb goal..."

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering and booing from the fans of the respective sides. For a goal to be scored so early-on in the game was indeed a welcome surprise and the spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    The National Team goalee Mac Dermot was already on the grass writhing and rolling and clutching at his head with both his hands not at all hiding his gross disappointment at his own performance of letting that goal go.

    ........

    Johannes Rumbles takes the mike again.

    "Da krowd is some what quieter now. The black and white checked ball has been returned to da match referee Peter Dimbleby. He puts it down onto the center of da field. The center and other forwards of the two teams now move forward and take their position next to the ball, wiping away the memory of just a few minutes ago.

    Peter takes just a few minutes to look arownd and ascertain that all players are in their playing positions. And then again, he blows the whistle for the kick-off. Dis time the Reds flounder with the very first pass, the ball is intercepted rapidly by the Nationals center forward Jack Aguilar, a very seasoned player, and he passes it very rapidly to his left-out Joni Mitchel. Joni is the fastest runner on the national side, and he is surely very fleet-footed. He races swiftly and takes the ball parallel to the D on the left-flank, and with a slicing kick, he shoots the ball to the National right winger Billy Potomak. My word. What a move. I've never seen such Foot Ball... Billy Potomak stops the ball nicely with his right-foot...moves aggressively into the D area, dribbles past aal the defenders, the full and half-backs; he shifts the ball from his right to the left foot. Oh he has a clear line into the goal post! Will he shoot? yes, Indeed. He has shot the ball straight into the goal post. No chance there for the goalee at all, as the ball remains lowish, bounces-off the right goal post, and straight into the nets.

    The goalee of the Reds, Mobotu Gunsaleh, is down on the ground, now groaning in pain. He is holding his stomach, pumping his legs. He must have hurt himself as he dived-down to save that goal."

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering and booing from the fans of the respective sides. For a goal to be scored so early-on in the game was indeed a welcome surprise and the spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    Then Johannes Rumbles take to the Mike again.

    "And now the ball is placed in the mid-field by the match referee again. tremendous excitement in the krowd. We can see people running to kiosks to buy cold drinks or waving to the vendors of knick-knacks. And now de ball is once again placed in its position. Da krowd is still, a hush falls over de stadium. What will happen next..."

    President Michael DeFranco Moraes and his wife Esmeralda DeFranco Moraes are chit-chatting among demselves, and with all the dignitaries seated next to dem. Da sports minister, the minister for youth, culture, and education, The minister for the environment, The Minister for the public works department. And their wives are all laughing and chatting feeling absolutely merry on dis very cool and chilly December morning..."

    .................

    The ball is now returned to the center-forward position. All the players of the two sides return to their positions. A little bit sweaty now, and their adrenalin flowing freely. However, it is the fans who are sweating even more profusely. I have always wondered why the fans get het up more about da game than the players. Some no doubt on account of punting. others for pure loyalty. Yet the game is played by the players and not the fans. I hope that should be abundantly clear. Vicarious thrills provided by the media apart.

    ....................

    A thunderous roar gripped the stadium as Peter Dimbleby blew the whistle for the kick-off and the Nationals center-forward Jack Aguilar passes the ball to his left of center forwards, Jeremy Leach. Leach stops the ball skillfully, moves forward and rapidly shoots the ball to Anthony Goody, Goody moves rapidly towards the D and slams the baal directly into the goal-post. Ah! No effort there at all. The most effortless goal I have ever seen.

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering and booing from the fans of the respective sides. For a goal to be scored so early-on in the game was indeed a welcome surprise and the spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    And now a legend in his own time the great match-referee Peter Dimbleby signals for the mourning in the Red Team to stop and that the baal should be returned to the center of the field. Never saw a bead of sweat on his sizable brows nor him losing his temper in aal his career, that man packs a mean head on his shoulders. The fans also enjoy his firm but joyful even humorous demeanor greatly...the excitement is as great as the game, almost palpable, the reds are down two goals to one.

    The Ball is now in position, all players at full alert, the reds probably more so, as they are the president's own team, and have much more to lose than the national side.

    The krowd they are baying for more blood for it is not even half-time and the tension and excitement has already mounted tremendous pressure upon the players. The kick-off goes to the national side Jack Aguilar again assisted by Jeremy Leach and Anthony Goody. There is silence now in the stadium as Peter blows the whistle and this time Jack has thought of quite another move and he shoots the ball to Leach, Leach overawed by the thrust of the reds forwards shoots it to the half-back David Downwater. Another mean player, he sure is, Downwater...Downwater has de baal now, he moves forward and dribbles past the reds center-forwards, he is moving diagonally left across the field, looking left and now right, dribbles past the half and then the full backs, but always keepin da baal to himself. What on earth has he got in his mind, the way he is moving he would have to bend it like Beckham to get it into the goal, now he swerves with the baal and moving it to his right leg, oh he has just one back to dribble past, the krowd they are cheering, he does do it, and now he is going for the kick, the baal leaves the ground like a bullet, curves in the air and bang into the goal post... My word. Unbelievable. David Downwater is the King for he has bent it like Beckham in every sense of the term. What a champion."

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering and booing from the fans of the respective sides. For a such a fantabulous goal to be scored so early-on in the game was indeed a welcome surprise and the spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    ...............

    Then the match referee Peter Dimbleby blows the whistle at full volume again indicating for the play to resume. On the Isle of Mayonnaise the game of football was learnt from the British Army Officers posted there during the last great war. However, with the difference that the Islanders here did not think it necessary at all that such an exciting game be hindered by such trivialities like the half-time and so on.

    Then Johannes Rumbles take to the Mike again.

    "Now again da krowd is perspiring, a little less than the players, aal of whom are waving arownd like punch-drunk boxers, imagine their lungs going like furious bellows, dem are surely feeling the dull thuds of their quickened heartbeats pounding against their ribcage. Now on the Island of Da Mayonnaise it is this critical point in dis game of da football which decides da men from the boys...The Reds and the National Teams are lined up again near the center line, Peter Dimbleby takes a close look at the forwards and the wingers, a swift three hundred and sixty degree look around the field and then the entire stadium, and then gives his characteristic flag-off for the remainder of this final match..."

    The kick-off takes place and then the Nationals grab the ball and then swiftly pass it to the left-winger who surges ahead and then takes a kick which sends the ball right across this field to the right winger of the nationals. the right winger takes the ball into the D area and then does a slow pass to the Nationals center forward, who takes an easy as hell but a very swift kick which sends the ball sailing past the goalie right into the goal."

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering and booing from the fans of the respective sides. For a such a fantabulous goal to be scored nearly at the end of the game was indeed a welcome surprise and the spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    Then Johannes Rumbles take to the Mike again:

    And now the stadium is heating up again on this cold winter mornin as a hush falls over the crowd the stadium's clock is rapidly ticking away to..."

    And now, suddenly matters take a turn. DeFranco Moraes from where he was sitting in the Dress Circle of this stadium, quickly and quite slyly pulled-out his very posh mobile phone, quickly recalled a number from his directory and paused just for a fraction of a second at the name next to it, The Governor Reserve Bank of the Isle of Mayonnaise, and then pressed the green key to make a swift call, to Mr. Meryl Stanley, who was indeed the current Governor of this most central of all banks on the Isle of the Mayonnaise.

    DeFranco, "Good morning Stanley. And how are we today?"

    Stanley, "Good good, me Lord. Never felt better."

    DeFranco, 'You have not been watching football again in your office, have you?"

    Stanley, "No. For heaven's sake no, Sire. I was..."

    DeFranco, 'Hold it. I have something to tell you, and, listen up good."

    Stanley, 'yes, Sire."

    DeFranco, "I want you to hike the repo rates about 13 times in the forthcoming financial year."

    Stanley, 'Whatever...'

    DeFranco, 'I said listen Stanley. I have heard that another financial meltdown is headed our way, to the Isle of Mayonnaise. Don't query me about my sources. The prices should be hiked before we are hit. Activate the first repo rate increase now. Got it?'

    Stanley, 'yes, Sire. That should take about fifteen minutes and then we shall have it flashed on the television in another fifteen, and that would certainly make the newspaper headlines by this evening."

    DeFranco, 'then i should consider that done? Eh?"

    Stanley, 'As sure as the Christmas Snow, me Lord."

    Thereafter, and quite clandestinely as he had made the call DeFranco Moraes shut his phone down and slipped it into the pocket of his Navy Blue Blazer.

    Esmeralda, his ever patient and forgiving wife, then said:

    "Michael. is everything alright? Shall I ask for some Pop-Corn for you?"

    "Pop-Corn? Pop-Corn. Oh, yes! Pop-corn it should be. How very wise, timely and how very considerate of you, Dear Esmeralda. Yes. Indeed I should love some pop-corn about now."

    "Michael. How about some Soda-Pop to go with it?"

    "Soda-pop? Yes, that would be fine too. Tell me Esmeralda, how is it that everything that you are ordering about now is pop of one sort or another?"

    "You wouldn't want to know, Michael. Would you?" said Esmeralda DeFranco Moraes, even as she beckoned the vendor of the pops in question.

    And that is exactly when Johannes Rumbles took to the Mike again:

    "And now Dear Friends we are pushing into the very last lap...not much left here in dis game, nothing short of a miracle may save the Reds Team from an utterly crushing and a most certain and extremely humiliating defeat at the legs of the National...Ahem, so to speak...Da Crowd....dem dey are very very tense...in a game whose future seems already fore-written..."

    .....................

    Suddenly, the very big television screens fixed all around the stadium in a departure from previous practice suddenly flashed the news about the increase in Repo Rates, for a crowd, that is of this Isle of Mayonnaise, which was as ever, always, as it is said: Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish. The very well known news reader Janice Merle-Ponty as ever gave an all-round and genial evening-news type of grin welcoming the audience.

    "Just in. The Reserve Bank of the Isle of Mayonnaise has just announced a tremendous hike in the Repo Rates from 0.15 per cent to 2.25 per cent...And continuing with this same story...we have Paul Golson on location at the RBIM...Paul, Paul...Can you hear me?...Paul, Paul...are you there. A visibly rattled Paul Golson appeared standing and shivering clutching his mike, his tweed-coat collar turned-up against the enormous cold he was experiencing standing on the broad-walk beside the premier bank of the Isle of Mayonnaise which was also its most central bank...Yes, yes. He said adjusting his earphones...I'm here. Thanks, Janice. The broad-walk is, as you may see, crowded with very anxious investors and non-investors who will both be very badly hit by the increase in the RBIM Repo rates....Paul, interrupted Janice, what about the Reverse Repo rates? Have you the latest on that? "Yes, yes. Just now it may all be hearsay and a figment of my imagination, but I have interviewed all sorts of people in sorts of walks of life and their message is but one and very loud and clear. The same dispatch in which the RBIM has hiked the Repo Rates to 2.25 % it has also suggested that the Reverse Repo Rate may be stabilized at around 4.00%. Janice, Janice. Is that getting through to you? Can you hear me?"

    .................

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering from all the fans of both the respective sides. For a such a fantabulous reverse repo rate meant greater dividends and interest rates from their local banks. This newscast was indeed a welcome surprise and the spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    ................

    Michael DeFranco Moraes signalled Esmeralda by gesticulating at his watch-dial, which she could see clearly, that it was time they were moving to their next engagement.

    ...............

    And this is when Johannes Rumbles took to the Mike again:

    "Now Da Krowd Dey Are really makin a din...so much money in da banks for aal of us...let us now see what end this game comes to...the time is nearly over, save the interruption from the television broadcast, which is most certainly an unprecedented sort of broadcasting intervention, but for which I feel sure that our Honourable Members of the Isle of Mayonnaise Sports Board must have a very good reason, but then that is neither here nor there, so coming back to the game...i see Peter, that is Peter Dimbleby...Hah! Unbelievable. I mean the unbelievable has happened, the match referee has given the game-up whistle, I am certain that there were left a few further minutes of this game...logically, and quite defensibly the Reds Team members have gheraoed Peter...dey are awl shaking and waving dere arms this way and dat...but I think...Peter has a point dere....you can't have your cake and eat it too...if the two teams had played right through the half-time...then despite that the Nationals win dis game, without a shade of doubt...Methinks, Peter should be penalizing both da sides for having played quite a longer while dan dey was supposed to...however, it would be sfae to wait for a final verdict...the three referees are now moving in toward Peter, the Match Referee, they are conferring...and dere goes the final whistle indicating that da game is indeed over...!"

    ..............

    Kaboom. The only football stadium on the Isle of Mayonnaise erupted with thunderous cheering and booing from the fans of the respective sides. For although they were already laughing their way to their respective banks to re-organize their portfolios, for a much nationally-prized, and much-awaited game to have to come to such an end, a few hackles had been raised, Repo rates or no Repo rates. The spectators cut-loose with all their decibels, trumpets, whistles, drums and what have you.

    ...................

    Michael and Esmeralda were escorted to their waiting vehicles by a fleet of security persons shielding them from a crowd gone berserk with joy and disappointment. However, once both of them were shovelled through the crowds into their waiting and very luxurious Limousine, at last they had some time, before the next appointment of theirs, to discuss the just concluded game once again.

    Michael De Franco Morais, “Johnny. Johnny Rumbles, my man! Just rev up the car, and get us out of here as fast as you will, will you?"

    Johnny Rumbles, "Right away, Massa!"

    Esmeralda, "What? Johannes Rumbles...! He's your driver too! I don't believe this! Ha. Ha. Ha. Now then, Michael...!"

    .....

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • Museums of India: A BlogSabha Debate

    Museums of India: A BlogSabha Debate

    By

    Ajay Pratap

    ...

    Dear Students,

    At the very outset of this especial lecture, I wish to point out to you that you must deeply think, and first of all, about the word `Muse', before we even can begin to discuss the Issue of Indian Museums in the 21st century. In this especial lecture, as always as ordered to deliver such lectures to you, Dear Students, I shall try to anatomize the structure of our museum displays, which stress mainly our chief entity the nation, and not necessarily, as one nation of the world, among several other hundreds, which is to say that it was alright for them, say up to the twentieth century, to stress India as a nation, using the museum as a means, and to underline our independent nationhood, however, and certainly in this now increasingly post-Modern world, Dear Students, I shall, where time permits, invite you to think whether our Indian museums should also be stressing not only the diversity of Indian Culture, by necessarily including folk and tribal objects, but displaying, also, and side by side, in some sense a World Culture, for our young to grow up in a museum-space, where they also know about their place in world cultures, and not simply in the menagerie of cultures that constitute the Indian Culture.

    Dear Students, in a sense higher education, as I have been indeed ordered to let you know, and which indeed I am doing, is indeed also about our knowing our place among other cultures of this world, and our similarities and differences with them.

    A simple means to accomplish this most desirable end is for instance to access the HRAF. Now, all things being equal, and using the Occam Razor Principle, if I repeated that acronym three or four times in a row, HRAF HRAF HRAF, like this, then you may assume that I have a case of a bad cough... yet this could not be further from the truth. They say truth is strange stranger than fiction. Isn't it?"

    So the acronym HRAF, Dear Students, stands for the Human Relations Area Files, which is basically a cultural database which aspires to record as much as is possible about all the cultures of the world and is in the ultimate analysis a tool for social sciences research...And so to the conclusion, Dear Students, that at least in India of the 21st century we could have a few museums which display world cultures side by side with our very own Indian Culture. That would be a nice thing? Isn't it?

    On the same note, Dear Students, even though indeed I have been ordered to deliver such a lecture, I can't help but remember my own very much days of student-ship. I do wish to discuss some tenets of post-modernism here within the context of what I am arguing for. However, as post-modern philosophers have all en masse decried the modern constitution and meta-narratives we have to devise alternate smaller narratives.

    A well-stocked library is a scholar's delight. I well remember our University Library at the Cambridge University. Here you would check-in first into a locker room where you could deposit your shoulder-bags into lockers that operated with a ten pence coin (returned when you reopened the locker to collect your belongings). The freshen-up, and then proceed up some steps onto the first floor. The mezzanine of the ground-floor had a huge 10ft x 10ft painting of (presumably) a past British librarian complete with a Napoleonic-hat, and those 18th century boots, and the white-wigs, which the chief-justices of British India once wore, carrying a load of very rare looking manuscripts and books, and a smile to boot.

    Up the steps from the mezzanine you entered the catalog area, where some hundred or so very large bound, and metal-enforced, largish ledgers, alphabet-wise, I think, were kept. This is where you could start your hunt for books or browse as to what was on offer. These bound volumes were all alike, a very deep seaweed green in colour. These held references to such great books as Edward Shils on the Indian education system, B.W. Hodder on the tropics and their future, and books that would even tell you everything you would wish to know about Papua New Guinea.

    Once you had a book of your choice located, you would take down the shelf number etc. and then depending on the state of your fitness, you would either take the steps up to the stack areas (some three floors of them) or most conveniently the very demure and small escalator. If the search for the book had already made you hungry then you would press the G on the escalator and descend to the ground-floor that had an enormous cafeteria (with smoking and non-smoking) areas.

    Up the lifts your were purveyed into a classical dream world of rarest and the most modern Bibliotheca...with small seats by the window-sides in which to sit and read...you did not need necessarily to issue books. I was a goner for the journals of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the (later) Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, and some other weird Journals on the Orient, although, I do remember, that I did spare some time to read Vladimir Illych Lenin on the definition of `Peasant' as recommended by Ennew, Hirst and Keith Tribe in their article on the same issue. Kautsky, Marx, Adorno and Gramsci were too dense for me even as a BA student and the condition persists till date. Lenin was a far better writer for archaeologists wondering about peasants in the archaeological record.

    The dusty volumes of these elite and scholarly societies held many curious articles, mostly written by British Officers in the employ of the British East India Company in the 16th and nineteenth centuries. Needless to say the U.L. held all the volumes which is a complete set of these volumes. Discussions in these journals ranged from origin of Indic languages, descriptions of curious and newly found temples, to Gangetic Fish and other freshwater aquatic creatures (as the East India Company HQ was at Fort William) as well as descriptions of Indian flora and fauna. To be reading curious but mostly accurate accounts pertaining to Indian forests, geology, and such like, we had the work of Francis Hamilton or Buchanan Hamilton and Valentine Ball. However these two sets of journals made a most interesting reading.

    The library of the Philosophy Department was another of my treasured haunts in Cambridge of the 1980s. Mary B. Hesse’s classic work Models and Analogies in Science, Karl Hempel, Karl Popper, Paul K. Feyerabend, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and last but not least Imre Lakatos. The Philosophy Department Library had a night-box system for the return of books for those students either in a hurry to return books or returning them at odd hours. There was a hole in the wall through which you could drop books into the library even in the dead of the night. This was most convenient for people like me.

    The University Library’s Manuscripts Room, held some pretty rare manuscripts in its collection including Charles Darwin’s original handwritten copy of the Origin of the Species which I then did not read busy as I was with my dissertation work, and it was alleged that most of the scholars actually reading these rare works had actually come here all the way from America to be doing so, in a room in which no pens were allowed for the safety of the manuscripts. However, this room, among hundreds of others, did, also contain, some of the 18th century, travelogues of India written by those such as William Hodges (about 1780) which were more than a hundred years old, and were therefore kept in this rare books and manuscripts room. We were allowed to actually issue the book for reading within the room, but looking at the brittleness of its pages nothing more was allowed. The photocopies of any pages of such books if required was done by specialist Library Staff of that room and the photocopies could be collected the following day or thereafter.

    Here I am taking a short break to drinks a few glasses of water, Heh Heh, Dear Students, as you see that indeed as currently as a teacher I feel that we teachers feel very very thirsty in the course of special lectures like this for which I have received as direct an order from above as direct orders from above are as ever likely to be. But and again, Dear Students, leaving you with some food for thought in the interim, after this water-break, I shall be talking to you about Living Museums.

    (Cont'd.)

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

  • Objects and Imagination. Perspectives on Materialization and Meaning. Fuglerud, O., and Wainwright, L. (Eds.). 2015. Berghahn Books. New York: Book Review

    The opening to this book is remarkably clear. The Editors suggest that the focus of this book is on "an interest in the way that the material world comes into being, how its objects are seen and used, and how they acquire and change value and meaning...special place to objects, which are brought to the fore in order to treat them as the locus for understanding and intersections between materiality and the imagination...what is now often called the 'material turn' in the social sciences by offering a range of cases for appreciating how objects precipitate diverse imaginaries and make 'presence' possible." (Pp. 1)

    I first started reading about something called the Thing Theory, around the time the Theoretical Archaeology Group, Columbia University, was being organized. On a first read the subject of things, as explained admirably well by the Editors of the present volume as well, did look appealing. However, as a third-worlder, I now suspect such an enterprize, as one which is a wee bit fetish-ed (Latour, 2010). Yet, as the contributors here and elsewhere, Renfrew and Malafouris (2010), suggest that things also provide an access to the ways of the human mind! Ian Hodder did it, Daniel Miller did it, Bill Brown did it, Arjun Appadurai did it, scores of others did it. However, this book also does it.

    This book is divided into three parts, the first is called Museums, the second Presence and the third Art. The chapters of the first part are: Sylvia S. Kasprycki, Contemporary Iroquois Art between Ethnographic Museum, Art Gallery and Global Market Place: Reflections on the Politics of Identity and Representation; Peter Bjerregaard, Disconnecting Relations: Exhibitions and Objects as Resistance; Saphinaz-Amal Naguib, Materializing Islam and the Imaginary of Sacred Space. The chapters of the second part are: Anders Emil Rasmussen, Visible While Away: Migration, Personhood and the Movement of Money amongst the Mbuke of Papua New Guinea; Stine Bruland; Being There while Being Here: Long-distance Aesthetics and Sensations in Tamil National Rituals; Arne Aleksej Perminow, Food Presentations Moving Overseas: Ritual Aesthetics and Everyday Sociality in Tonga Migrants; Katherine Swancutt, Imaginations at War: The Ephemeral and the Fullness of Life in Southwest China; Birgit Meyer, How Pictures Matter: Religious Objects and the Imagination in Ghana. In part III of this work, entitled as Art, the chapters are as follows: Fiona Magowan, Art as Empathy: Imagining Transfers of Meaning and Emotion in Urban Aboriginal Australia; Amit Desai and Maruska Svasek, Transvisionary Imaginations: Artistic Subjectivity and Creativity in Tamil Nadu; Tereza Kuldova, An Indian Cocktail of Value/s and Desire: On the Artification of Whisky and Fashion.

    (Cont'd.)

    Bibliography

    Latour, B. 2010. On the Modern Cult of Factish Gods. Duke University Press.

    Renfrew, C., Malafouris, L. 2010. Cognitive Life of Things: recasting the boundaries of the mind. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. Cambridge.

    (Cont'd.)

    ...

    Thank you.

    Ajay

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