Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Historical Fiction - Kaveri Stories

Posted on September 21, 2004 17:9 PM EST

I love reading historical fiction. The kind of books I have read are the ones that cover several decades/centuries narrating events of historical importance through the observing/participating eyes of fictional characters who span several generations. Often the main characters belong to a handful of families, and there is a continuity of these families through history.

Caribbean (about the Caribbean islands) and Texas (about the TX state, of course) are two books by James Michener which I really enjoyed, especially Caribbean. I have read several other such books by Michener and plan to read 'em all. I also thoroughly enjoyed Wilbur Smith's Ballantyne Series of books set in Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe.

I dream of reading such historical fiction set in India. They would be so rich and entertaining and enjoyable. More importantly, they would feel so close to heart and soul. Alas! My dream seems to be destined to remain a dream in the absence of any great literary movement in India. Literature in local languages seem to be all but dying away. Moreover, people in India seem to be so bloody insecure. There will invariably be controversies and problems over conflicts and differences that authentic historical research will bring up. This will discourage many authors from being brave and truthful.

I myself want to write a historical book, a series of short stories spread across history and located along the Kaveri river. The introduction to the book will contain the mythological story (or stories) of the birth of the river. My actual first story will be set in Kodagu, the birthplace of Kaveri, and at the oldest point in time. Perhaps it will be the story of a brave Kodava warrior. Then, there will be the popular story set in Talakad, of course. May be I will write the story of Sir M Vishveshwaraiah and the construction of Krishnaraja Sagar dam. There will be a tragic-suicidal story of lovers at Hoganekal falls. May be the heroine of that particular story will be named Kaveri. There has to be a story of violence between Kannnidagas and Tamizhs over Kaveri water. Perhaps a story of spiritual upliftment set in Srirangam. I will follow the river through geography and time, setting each subsequent story at places downriver, at different points of time, until the rivers joins the Bay of Bengal. I would love to write the stories in the local language and dialects. The readers should get a total immersion experience of the river Kaveri by the time they finish the book. With my training (or lack of it) in research and writing, it will be an arduous task.

May be I could make this a project for my (imaginary for now) literature class. Send promising students of my class to different places along the Kaveri, ask them to research the local history and language, come up with stories. At the end of the year, we shall collect the stories together and the class shall go on a long trip visiting places where the stories are set. In each of these places we shall have story narrations, plays, etc. We will make a documentary of our project. We will also make a TV series of the stories, in the authentic local dialects. Nice dream.

Friday, September 17, 2004

These traditions and systems of "elders"!

Posted on September 17, 2004 19:51 PM EST

The traditions and systems of elders are supposed to guide, support and protect us. What right do they have to make us compromise on our principles and break our hearts?


PS: I am no god!

Mood of the hour :(

Posted on September 17, 2004 12:51 PM EST

Wanted me to miss you more than usual?

Or is your desire to talk to me much less than mine to talk to you?

In either case: :(

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Greater Hurt

Posted on September 12, 2004 14:25 PM EST

Discovered what the greater hurt is today. It is not when someone hurts me. The greater hurt is when I hurt someone, and then I find myself hurting because that someone is hurting. Painful!

Philosophy and Mathematics

Posted on September 12, 2004 8:38 AM EST

"That is just too idealistic", "Enough of the philosophy", "Easy to say in theory, can't implement in practice". We have all said something like this at one time or another. Often, this is our reaction when we are faced with problems, crises, dilemmas, hurt, failure or some such uncomfortable life situation, and some wise guy opens his mouth to give a philosophical explanation or an idealistic solution.

Perhaps, that is not the right time for philosophy or ideals. It would be analogous to being adrift in a boat on the ocean, with no navigational aids and someone giving us a mouthful of some advanced theorem in analytical geometry. At that time, we can't listen to the theory, the philosophy, the ideals. Our energy and attention is too focussed on the issue of survival and protecting ourselves from more danger/discomfort. So, we turn away from the philosophy and the philosopher. We might even resent them. And this resentment might be carried over to our later life, when the crisis has passed. If we are wiser, on reaching safer shores, we recall the theory/philosophy, understand it and learn how to use it, so that next time we are faced with a similar situation, we are better equipped. That is called learning from experience.

We learn more easily and readily the theories that help us solve physical problems. What's more, these theories can be engineered into packaged solutions that are easily usable without the user having to understand the underlying theory. For example, if we are adrift on the ocean, and someone were to give us a handheld GPS system, our navigational problems are solved. We don't have to understand all the scientific and technological mumbo-jumbo that went into creating that GPS system. All we need to know is to use it. That easy.

But it is not so easy when it comes to the subtler realms of mind, emotions and spirituality. There is almost never an engineered, package solution in this realm. We have to do the hard work of understanding the philosophy, the wisdom and making it our own. We have to learn ways to apply it to our life and our world to help us reach the shores of happiness and peace which we desire and deserve. It takes discipline, courage, honesty and other evolved faculties as well as evolved attitudes to acquire wisdom from books or lectures or even hindsight after the difficult circumstance has passed. It takes even more courage and evolved faculties to learn and earn this wisdom while being in the middle of the crisis.

It is for this reason, a philosopher should be respected. I am no philosopher, but I don't think true blue philosophers thought up their philosophies while being comfortably - symbolically or physically - fed, drunk and loved. Wisdom is earned from some compulsion or drive, from discomfort or pain, by going through trying circumstances. Wisdom is earned by opening the eyes and ears and mind and heart and soul, by incorporating a certain resilience and acceptance into our spirits and being - during and/or after the pain and the crisis. Philosophers deserve respect for going through those difficulties and coming out with open eyes and hearts and resilient spirits.

But the more important thing to remember is not respecting philosophers or their philosophies. The more important thing is to accept that philosophy is not just some theory or idea which is too idealistic or too out there or too mumbo jumbo. The most important thing is to realize that just as theorems in advanced mathematics help give us commonplace comforts like our cooking range, our houses, our cars, our computers - countless other tangible things of practical use, philosophical ideas and ideals do have practical uses in our life, to help us achieve the love, happiness and peace we seek. Ideals and philosophy certainly demand more work and discipline and courage from us, but that is the price to pay when the prize is all that we desire and deserve.