Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Renaissance man

(Must be careful never to misspell the word. Also 'connoisseur'. And 'subtle'. Can't think of anything funnier than a person who tries to use 'fancy' words and misspells them.)

I feel sorry for people who never fritter away their time (and to some extent money). I fritter away entire days sometimes. But I have yet to learn to do it without guilt. That will come with practice, I guess.

First of May. Holiday. I had promised myself that I would get a lot of work done that day. That had been the excuse for putting off some of the previous day's work.

The day began slowly with the maid not arriving at her right time and then not arriving at all. I guess she deserved the holiday more than I did. While I waited, I read Garcia Marquez's 'Love in the time of cholera' ('Elamur en los tiempos del colera' - how musical!). As I kept reading, and it became 8.30, and the maid had still not turned up, I had some sort of a premonition that I would be doing no work that day.

It was 9.00, still no maid. It was time to go for breakfast. But before that I must do what I usually do after the maid has come and gone. Practise some singing. I lost myself in the komal swaras of Raag Jaunpuri - the komal gandhar, the komal daivat and the komal nishadh. The komal swaras have quite a distinct personality compared to the shuddh and teevr swaras. I am yet to figure out why. You might think that the reason was obvious. But how is it that the komal ga sounds komal-er than than the shuddh Re, even though the shuddh Re has the lower frequency?

Anyway. Owing to not being able to sing the swaras just right, and also due to the fact that I did not yet want to start my day, I practised till 10.00. Then I went for breakfast. If I delayed further I would not be able to enjoy my lunch. Uttam Saagar was crowded as usual and I indulged myself and went to the service section. Singing gives you quite an appetite and I relished every morsel of the Masala Dosa.

By time I returned around 10.45, I was thinking - how good life is. I could identify with one of Wodehouse's characters who felt the milk of human kindness sloshing against his back teeth. Except in my case it was not the milk of human kindness. More like the thrill of human achievement. The sheer joy of being part of that superb species, Homo sapiens sapiens. That perfectly aged wine!

I don't think I had seriously thought before that Man was superiour to Nature. But he is. Perhaps in creating sheer physical beauty, Nature has the advantage - having played around with proabilistic colours over millions of years. But consider thought and ideas and poetry and literature. And the sheer genius of the invention of music (the komal swaras) and cooking and language. Man has left nature far behind in these areas. What a lot man has achieved in so relatively little time.

I returned to the Marquez. A book quite different from 'One Hundred Years...' (I had expected, somehow, more of the same thing, and so was pleasantly surprised) yet similarly full of joy. Comics and funny books are prescribed for mood elevation. They should try prescribing poetry too. Even sad poetry would do I think.

At 12.00 or so I called up Prasenjit and asked him if he was going to keep his promise and cook mutton. But he said no, but I still invited myself over to his house for beer. And took the Marquez along, only later realizing that there was a copy in Prasenjit's house too. It was quite hot outside. All the better for the beer.

I drank the beer faster than usual. The beer and the Marquez made a heady combination. The word 'love' appears hundreds of times in the books without once sounding repetitive. A definite must read.

For lunch we went to the Hyderabadi Biryani House. First tandoori chicken and then spicy mutton biryani. Followed by fresh mango juice.

I am often happy, but I admit it rarely. Cribbing is my style. But that afternoon, after a great morning, when we were about to drive to M.G.Road in the sun, I could not help saying out aloud, 'I feel so great today'.