Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I love Garfield!
...Even more so since I've had Xena. Cats are all so like Garfield! :D

This is the first Garfield strip that Jim Davies made. It was published on the 19th of June 1978.

This one here was when Odie appeared for the first time - on the 9th of August 1978.

This, here, was the first time that Pooky made an appearance. The 23rd of October 1978.

And, this is today's Garfield strip:

Monday, August 22, 2005


"Our relationship was the greatest achievement of my life"

But did Simone de Beauvoir's scandalous open 'marriage' to Sartre make her happy, asks Lisa Appignanesi

Friday June 10, 2005
The Guardian

The Bogart and Bacall of existentialism ... De Beauvoir and Sartre in 1946. Posted by Picasa

'Women, you owe her everything!" So read the headline announcing Simone de Beauvoir's death in April 1986. It was a phrase repeated over and over at her funeral, where some 5,000 mourners gathered to pay tribute to the writer many consider the greatest French woman of the 20th century, author of The Second Sex, mother of the modern women's movement. De Beauvoir's ashes duly found their place next to those of Jean-Paul Sartre, her partner in life, though never in marriage. He had died six years almost to the hour before her, and her last book, Farewell to Sartre, was the only one he had never read prior to publication.

De Beauvoir had declared that whatever her many books and literary prizes, whatever her role in the women's movement or as an intellectual ambassador championing causes such as Algerian independence, her greatest achievement in life was her relationship with Sartre - philosopher, playwright, philanderer, born 100 years ago this month.

There is something mysterious in De Beauvoir's insistence. Given Sartre's other liaisons, and that this was the height of the women's movement, it seems to fly in the face of common sense. Yet the Simone who had flouted convention in the 20s by entering into an open liaison with an ugly, charismatic young unknown was not about to conform to expectations.

Whether we agree with her own startling assessment or not, it's clear that De Beauvoir was neither lying nor, as some misogynist commentators have argued, simply writing herself into a life more important than her own. After all, for 51 years, whether they were living close to one another or apart, she edited and, as Sartre himself put it, "filtered" his work, which he dedicated to her (some have ventured that, on occasion, she wrote it too). For 51 years, the conversations between them created ideas, books, and a bond which other passions enraged or enriched, but never altogether ruptured. It was, for De Beauvoir, an experiment in loving of which "existentialism" was the child.

When I was growing up in the 60s, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were a model couple, already legendary creatures, rebels with a great many causes, and leaders of what could be called the first postwar youth movement: existentialism - a philosophy that rejected all absolutes and talked of freedom, authenticity, and difficult choices. It had its own music and garb of sophisticated black which looked wonderful against a cafe backdrop. Sartre and De Beauvoir were its Bogart and Bacall, partners in a gloriously modern love affair lived out between jazz club, cafe and writing desk, with forays on to the platforms and streets of protest. Despite being indissolubly united and bound by ideas, they remained unmarried and free to engage openly in any number of relationships. This radical departure from convention seemed breathtaking at the time.

De Beauvoir wrote about this in the autobiography she began to publish in the late 50s, after the scandalous success of her exposé of being female, The Second Sex, and her Goncourt prize-winning novel, The Mandarins, where she chronicles, among much else, her postwar affair with the American novelist Nelson Algren, whom she left in order to return to Sartre, abandoning passion for public responsibility.

De Beauvoir and Sartre met in 1929 when they were both studying for the aggregation in philosophy, the elite French graduate degree. De Beauvoir came second to Sartre's first, though the examiners agreed she was strictly the better philosopher and at the age of 21 the youngest person ever to have sat the exam. But Sartre, the future author of Being and Nothingness, was bold, ingenious, exuberant in his youthful excess, the satirical rebel who shouted, "Thus pissed Zarathustra" as he hurled water bombs out of classroom windows.

Sartre was the pampered son of a widowed mother. Educated in French and German by his pedagogue grandfather, the young Sartre, diminutive, wall-eyed, was corresponding in alexandrines by the age of 10 and something of an outcast at his provincial school. By the time he returned to Paris, he had learned to make up for his physical lacks by the sheer force of his personality. De Beauvoir was captivated by the intensity with which he also listened.

The young Sartre already saw himself as a Don Juan, a seducer who ruptured outworn convention, and whose presence revealed things in their fundamental light. Seduction and writing, he believed, had their source in the same intellectual process.

Late in life, he admitted that he had fantasised a succession of women for himself, each one meaning everything for a given moment. De Beauvoir had astonished him by agreeing to the experiment he had outlined. She accepted the freedom he insisted on and became its custodian.

"What we have," he said early on to De Beauvoir, "is an essential love; but it is a good idea for us also to experience contingent love affairs." Recording Sartre's proposal, De Beauvoir writes: "We were two of a kind, and our relationship would endure as long as we did: but it could not make up entirely for the fleeting riches to be had from encounters with different people."

It is difficult to underestimate the sheer adventurousness of this pact forged in 1929. Particularly on De Beauvoir's side, the break from accepted norms was monumental, as was the social stigma. For De Beauvoir, Sartre seemed only to be repeating what, from her father's example and bourgeois practice, she understood as a male prerogative. What was different about their relationships was that she, the woman, would be equally free to engage in other affairs. Then, too, there was Sartre's important dictum of "transparency" - the vow that they would never lie to each other the way married couples did. They would tell each other everything, share feelings, work, projects.

Yet in this lifelong relationship of supposed equals, he, it turned out, was far more equal than she was. It was he who engaged in countless affairs, to which she responded on only a few occasions with longer-lasting passions of her own. Between the lines of her fiction and what are in effect six volumes of autobiography, it is also evident that De Beauvoir suffered deeply from jealousy. She wanted to keep the image of a model life intact. There were no children. They never shared a house and their sexual relations were more or less over by the end of the war, though for much of their life and certainly at the last, they saw each other daily.

With the posthumous publication in 1988 of her letters to Sartre, a good proportion of them written during the war years when he was at the front and then a prisoner, gaps that were left out of the autobiography are filled in. What the letters express is not only De Beauvoir's overarching love for a man who is never sexually faithful to her, a man she addresses as her "dear little being" and whose work she loyally edits. They also underline the mundanity of De Beauvoir's early accommodation to his wishes, her acceptance of what many women would reject as demeaning, her dependence.

But this dependence is hardly simple or passive. It is a shared attachment from which power also comes - as De Beauvoir, in The Second Sex, shows it does for all women. From early on, Notre-Dame-de-Sartre, as the wits dubbed her, organises the comings and goings of Sartre's "contingent" women; she encourages, consoles, manipulates, and continues to do so until the very end for that loose grouping of friends and exes they called their "family". With a few exceptions, she performs whatever Sartre at the Front asks of her, including finding money for him, or having an affair.

The voyeuristic narration of the details of sexual passion for the other's entertainment, the ups and downs and seamy manoeuvres of these relationships give Sartre and De Beauvoir the aura of a latter-day Valmont and Merteuil, planning and reporting on their dangerous liaisons, analysing assaults and retreats, and deliberating over the propaganda which is to surround them. On top of all this are De Beauvoir's lesbian pursuits and her sharing of Sartre's partners. Bluestocking she might have been, but De Beauvoir was never averse to taking hers off, and then letting Sartre know.

It would be easy to condemn Sartre and De Beauvoir, to dismiss their sex lives as squalid and find therein reason to undermine their intellectual or political projects. This would be to miss the great edifice that De Beauvoir constructed out of their mutual experiment in living; the often gruelling honesty they both brought to bear on each other; and the ways in which the living and changing organism that was their partnership shaped both their philosophical writings and their fiction. It was clear to De Beauvoir that Sartre was a great thinker: thought needed tending. Happiness, that state she claimed she had a talent for, was not the point.

Then, too, there may be another very good reason why De Beauvoir thought her relationship was her greatest achievement. The Second Sex is her encyclopaedic and shocking account of woman's condition as "other" in a world where the norm, with all its overarching and defining power, was male. The book analyses how women have been made over in a world of male descriptions, the contortions performed in order to draw something from the secondary role, the mutilation, the pain. In the experiment of her relationship with Sartre, De Beauvoir took over the power of description. She writes him in and through her life. Maybe that was partly what she meant by her greatest achievement - alongside a generous love, respect and abiding loyalty.

· Lisa Appignanesi's biographical portrait of Simone de Beauvoir is published by Haus on June 21, price £9.99. To order a copy with free UK p&p, call the Guardian Book Service on 0870 836 0875, or go to www.guardian.co.uk/bookshop.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Ma and the two brats - my grandmother with my cousins - Siya and Ketaki Posted by Picasa

Nicole and Rachel - On their last day in India Posted by Picasa

(Not-so-)Little Candy Posted by Picasa
"Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands - and all you can do is scratch it."
- Sir Thomas Beecham
(to a cellist - attributed)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

:) Happy Birthday, Naani! :)

...wish I could go to D'dun and surprise her!
And this...so true... :)

"People who are sensible about love are incapable of it." - Douglas Yates
This way too...

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." - Franklin P. Jones
"Oh, I just wish someone would try to hurt you, so I could kill them for you." - Frank Sinatra

...Love makes me feel this way.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Of festivals...and the thought behind them

Went home after 2 months this time. And, it was wonderful...and, dare I say, (at the risk of sounding like one of those Gucci-bag-toting aunties) "therapeutic". :)

Today's Rakhi a.k.a. Raksha Bandhan. Traditionally, a festival where sisters tie a thread on their brother('s/s') wrist, the idea being that she will always stand by him, and he will always protect her. Nice thought. But, why do people (other than my family...and possibly a few other families...hopefully a lot of other families) not think of this the other way around as well? Saahil has always tied a rakhi on my wrist, like I have on his. Well, why not? I'm older anyway. How in the world would it've worked if I'd needed protecting when he was just a year old?! I could protect him better for sure. And, why's this still interpreted as big-strong-brother protecting small-weak-sister?! I mean...hellooo! Why can't any festival...every festival...be understood and interpreted in a nicer, more progressive way? I've always loved Diwali for the lights and the dressing up, Christmas for the well...the Christmassy feeling, the red and green, the holly, the mistletoe, the Christmas trees, Santa, the stockings, the reindeers and the elves...the works...Eid for the luverly food...Easter for the nice chocolate Easter eggs...Dusshera for going to Ram Lila Maidan and seeing Ravan burn, and buying a Hanuman mask...and actually wearing it, and embarassing my brother...Holi...well, not one that I like..havent' played in years...Rakhi for the tradition...for the thought behind it...you tie it to everyone you love...Papa, Mom, Saahil...the dogs (well, they protect you, don't they?!)...everyone who you'd want rallying around you when you needed protecting...
All this makes the whole year so wonderful. It does. There's always some nice holiday coming up. Of course, they're all just leading up to the biggest holiday of the year...my birthday!!! :D (Another 4 months, 2 days to go!)

Festivals aren't about religion. They're about having fun, being together, dressing up, eating good food, drinking lots...and they're about the thought behind them.
"All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." - Lucy Van Pelt

...An ode to my new-found sweet tooth.

"Sammy" - A word that broke an empire

Watched an excellent play today. Called Sammy.

Written by: Pratap Sharma
Original Music Score: Mahesh Tinaikar
Lighting Designer: Inaayat Ali Khan
Directed by: Lillete Dubey
The Cast:
Joy Sengupta – Mohan Gandhi
Ravi Dubey – Mahatma
Neha Dubey – Kasturba Gandhi
Anu Menon – Sarojini Naidu
Zafar Karachiwala – Jawaharlal Nehru
Vikrant Chatturvedi – Jinnah

That's Joy Sengupta as Gandhi and Neha Dubey as Kastoorba

Yes...so...after a break of 2 days...as I was saying...

Excellent play! I'd gone for a shoot, and everyone can see the story on Subah Savere tomorrow morning. True, that this was yet another play on Gandhi, but what was wonderful was that it wasn't like "yet another play on Gandhi"! What I liked best about it was that neither were any of the characters black or white, nor was the play. It had everyone's points of view - Gandhi, Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Kastoorba Gandhi, Gandhi's eldest son (through a scene with Joy and Gandhi's inner voice), Jinnah, and even Nathuram Godse. I just loved that each character had the opportunity to give her/his reasons or explanations to what happened.

Another thing was that the play was so realistic. For once, like Lillete said, Gandhi was not a larger-than-life character who we are only meant to look up to. Instead, he was just an ordinary man, and the play traces the journey of a man who goes from being Mohandas to becoming the Mahatma. I just adored the scenes with Gandhi and Kastoorba. They were...so...personal maybe...intimate...real perhaps. And, Kastoorba's character was given as much emphasis as was Gandhi's. And, it was played wonderfully by Neha. I mean, this character had its own motivations, its own thought process that it goes through. As was Nehru's character, which was done by Zafar Karachiwala. There was this whole growing up in Nehru from being an Oxford returned "dandy" (?!), to being someone who didn't necesarily always agree with Gandhi, but was still inspired by him. Sarojini Naidu's dialogues were just so intelligently written. Anu's character uses words just like a poet like Sarojini would've.

And, in the whole play...there were...5-7 maybe...actors, with some of them playing multiple roles. And, it was so smooth. Full points to the lighting designer too! Also, I loved Zafar's accent as the South African officer! :)

Attn: Anvita
Now, these guys have had about 10 shows in Bombay already, and whenever they have the next one, you HAVE to watch it, woman! Seriously.

Friday, August 12, 2005

"Yes" and "No"

This is something I'd heard on FM many, many years ago. In the days when it used to be "Times FM...yeahhh" :p (I wonder if anyone else remembers the "you're listening to Times FM...yeahhh" thing...it was HILARIOUS!)

I think it's very quaint and a little silly...and also kinda sweet in a way...
Found it written in an o-o-old diary of mine.

What I believe is that all girls should know,
When to say "yes" and when to say "no".
There are no textbooks and there are no rules,
The subject is neglected in orthodox schools.
"Yes" to flowers, "Yes" to a dance,
"Yes" to a flirt straight from France.
"Yes" to a walk in the beautiful rain,
"Yes" if he wants a chance to explain.
"No" to slacks unless you are thin,
"No" to an impulse to telephone him.
"Yes" to a Saturday, "No" to a Monday,
"Yes" to a salad, "No" to a sundae.
"No" to him if he has a wife,
"Yes" if you want him for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Broken! Broken! Broken! Broken! Broken!

I'm now convinced that there's something wrong with my left leg! Have an almost constant horrible hollow ache. It pains when I walk. It pains when I sit. It pains when I lie down.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Skype me!

Something that EVERYONE should get! Correction: Must get!

Skype rocks! You can make PC-to-PC calls to any Skype user, as well as on normal telephones (...for which you need to buy a calling card though). Talked to Saahil all afternoon, and then to Arvind (...though there, only I talked, since the idiot doesn't have a mic!) :) And, it's so awesomely crystal clear!! YAY!!

My name on Skype is "aanchaltyagi". Add me as soon as you get it.

You can download Skype from here.

Today's mood: Broken!

Got a b-a-a-a-a-d bodyache. Have had it for the last 2 days or so. Gonna have a Cetzine and s-l-e-e-e-e-e-p tonight. Write more tomorrow.

Hope Xena's sleepy too. Otherwise, will have to lock her up somewhere if I want to sleep without having my toes chewed off by morning.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Starry Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and Don Mc Lean

June 1889 (210 Kb); Oil on Canvas, 72 x 92 cm (29 x 36 1/4 in); The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Starry Night was completed near the mental asylum of Saint-Remy, 13 months before Van Gogh's death at the age of 37. Vincent's mental instability is legend. He attempted to take Paul Gaughin's life and later committed himself to several asylums in hopes of an unrealized cure.

Van Gogh painted furiously and The Starry Night vibrates with rockets of burning yellow while planets gyrate like cartwheels. The hills quake and heave, yet the cosmic gold fireworks that swirl against the blue sky are somehow restful.

This painting is probably the most popular of Vincent's works.

Don Mc Lean's lyrics:

starry night
paint your palette blue and grey
look out on a summer's day
with eyes that know the
darkness in my soul.

Shadows on the hills
sketch the trees and the daffodils
catch the breeze and the winter chills
in colors on the snowy linen land.

And now I understand what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.

They would not listen
they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now.

starry night
flaming flo'rs that brightly blaze
swirling clouds in violet haze reflect in
Vincent's eyes of China blue.

Colors changing hue
morning fields of amber grain
weathered faces lined in pain
are soothed beneath the artist's
loving hand.

And now I understand what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.

They did not listen
they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you
but still your love was true
and when no hope was left in sight on that starry
starry night.
You took your life
as lovers often do;
But I could have told you
this world was never
meant for one
as beautiful as you.

starry night
portraits hung in empty halls
frameless heads on nameless walls
with eyes
that watch the world and can't forget.

Like the stranger that you've met
the ragged men in ragged clothes
the silver thorn of bloddy rose
lie crushed and broken
on the virgin snow.

And now I think I know what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen
they're not
list'ning still
perhaps they never will...

The words and imagery of this song represent the life, work and death of Vincent Van Gogh. "A Starry Night" is one of the Dutch impressionist's most famous paintings.

The lyrics "paint your palette blue and gray" reflect the prominent colors of the painting. The "ragged men in ragged clothes" and "how you tried to set them free" refer to Van Gogh's humanitarian activities and love of the socially outcast as also reflected in his paintings and drawings. "They would not listen/They did not know how" refers to Van Gogh's family and some associates who were critical of his kindness to "the wretched." "How you suffered for your sanity" refers to the schizophrenic disorder from which Van Gogh suffered.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Yaad by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Dasht-e-tanhaai mein ae jaan-e-jahaan
larzan hain
teri awaaz ke saa'e, tere honton ke
dasht-e-tanhaai mein doori ke
khas-o khak ta'le
khil rahe hain, tere paihloo ke
saman aur gulab

uth rahi hai kahin qurbat se teri
saans ki aanch
apni khushboo mein sulagti hui
madham madham
door ufaq par, chamakti hui qatrah
gir rahi hai teri dildar nazar ki

is qadar pyaar se, ae jaan-e-jahaan
rakha hai
dil ke rukhsaar pe is waqt teri yaad ne
yoon gumaan hota hai, garche'h hai
abhi subh-e firaq
dhal gaya hij'r ka din, aa hi gayi vas'l
ki raat