My Oxford Experience 1!

The following is not a blog, but it is a story written by me.  

Oxford1

I am currently attending an online course offered by Oxford University, and I thought why not share my first attempt at storytelling during the course, with friends. It is a course about creative writing. I am learning a lot. I have never learnt literature, formally, so I took this opportunity to join the course though I claim to have learned engineering formally! 🙂🙂 

The exercise was about picking up a story from the list of five stories given. I chose Romeo and Juliet. In case you are unaware, “Romeo and Juliet” is a classic tragic romance written by William Shakespeare. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet 

The idea was that we had to keep the main characters the same, and change the genre (a style or category of art, music, or literature.) of the story as per our choice. There were many more things in this exercise. I chose to change the genre to thriller. I wrote the story accordingly. I thought you might like it.  Hence, I am sharing it with you. 

I request those of you who are interested in giving me a score can give it on a scale of zero to ten! 10 for Excellent and Zero for horrible. It will encourage me either way because a score of zero will force me to improve drastically; higher scores will naturally make me happy and push me to write more. You may send the score on individually on WhatsApp or by email.  

It’s the image of the status of my mind before I wrote the small story!

Oxford2

The story was to be written and explained in the format Act 1 and TP 1 (TP means turning point) 

Romeo and Juliet 

 ACT1  

Juliet is lying on a beach in the Bahamas, with the skimpiest of the bikinis. The shades and the chilled beer crate invited stares. While applying her sunscreen lotion, she saw Romeo walking towards her. 

Romeo, with his wellmuscled and toned body, was lazily walking on the beach in his sandals, with no care in this world. He spread his towel close to Juliet, not even looking at her. He asked Juliet, “May I borrow a beer bottle from you?” She pouts and says, “Why not?” 

 TP1 

Juliet had been instructed by her KGB bosses to eliminate Romeo! Romeo had his plan cleared from his MI 6 bosses to woo and dump Juliet in the steep ravine on his way back to his resort. After a few beers, Juliet suggested, “Shall we move to my airconditioned room?” Romeo simply picked her up and said, “No, my room, and let’s go fast!” 

ACT2 

Juliet coos, “Let me take quick shower and wear some clothes!” She wanted to take her syringe to be used at the right moment to finish her job! Romeo also needed to have his tools of the trade to reach the goal.  

Romeo and Juliet kiss deeply, and  Romeo walked to his Ferrari! Romeo’s thoughts veered a bit, and he thought that he must, unfortunately, “waste” a stunning woman.  

Juliet had her shower and came to the car. She was stunned to see how dapper Romeo looked. She was momentarily sad that Romeo would be no more after some time! 

TP2 

Juliet suggested that they have coconut water on the way, to begin her act; she had arrangements with coconut vendor for her “mischief”. Romeo suggested that they stopover at the wine shop instead, on the way, where he had arranged for the doctored wine. 

Juliet said, outsmarting Romeo, “Romeo, I hate wines! We can have Champagne at the resort!” 

ACT3 

They reached the resort and went to Romeo’s room, both planning their next act. Both slowly undressed and embraced each other. Both were planning their next move.  

As a final alternative, Juliet decided to use the syringe in her purse for the job. Romeo decided to use his raw power to complete his assignment.  

TP3 

They were halfway through the love act and were looking for the final opportunity to move stealthily. The moment was reached as Juliet went to the washroom and got her syringe from the purse; Romeo waited near the door for her to come out and choke her.  

 At that moment, the movie director shouted, “Cut”, great shot!  Let’s pack up for the day! 

 Romeo and Juliet embrace each other. They are, after all, reallife lovers!  

 

 

 

Should Hindi be imposed?

My friend Shrikant wrote on Facebook a very sensible note about an alleged imposition of Hindi all over India. He is a മരുമകൻ– son in law of Kerala. So, I presume that he is in a better position than me to comment. This led me to read the original statement made by Amit Shah, our home minister on the subject. The gist of what he said is in the statement below. 

Mr Shah said, Hindi is spoken by most of the people and can unite the whole country. He said efforts would be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country but not at the cost of other languages. Shah later also said that the foreign language English is predominant in India, so instead why not Hindi?  

I have not understood the controversy in the statement. Shah has not said that it should be promoted at the cost of the regional languages, anywhere in the statement.  

Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.  

Even 200 years back, India was not known as India as it is recognised today. Till then there were Rajahs, Badshahs who used to run their own kingdom. In those times, travel and communication facilities were inferior. Going from place A to place B would take hours if not days. With these limitationsthe bouquet of knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals would remain disconnected with other cultures. The possibility of the merging of cultures must have been within a distance of about 50  to 75 km if the terrain was not steepWith rough terrain, that also would be difficult.  

1947 created India and Pakistan. British had started the railways; road transport had become better than before. Travel had become a bit easier. So some mixing of culture started automatically. If we consider only the state of Maharashtra, people spoke different Marathi in Bombay, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, JalgaonThe spoken languages were distinctly differentLocal dialects also merged with spoken wordsSo when we speak of Marathi, nobody is really sure Marathi of which region we are talking about.  

HIndi1

So why then the emotional reactions about Shah’s statement. In the year 1978, I remember that in Bangalore we had shared a taxi for a tour with two couples, one Tamil and the other Kannada. We communicated with each other in English. What Shah has suggested, instead of English, why not Hindi? It is just a suggestion; does it amount to imposition? Central Government has offices in all the states and Hindi day is celebrated in each office, irrespective of which state it is. What is the point in looking at every statement from a political angle? Are elections the only important aspect in life? Kashmir had even more serious issues due to decisions taken by Britishers. But the government has resolved it in one stroke. Rules and regulations must be enforced but culture? No way, but who is forcing the culture? A statement made at a function was not a policy declaration. 

Culture seeps on its own. Let us look at the airports. A large number of people travel by air these days. For some reason, almost all CISF personnel are Hindi speaking individuals. You got to any airport from Chennai, Kochi, Vizag to Guwahati. They communicate many times in Hindi, but nobody objects to that. Idli-Dosa is the South Indian staple food, but it is almost becoming national food. You are out and want to have some food quickly. You go to Idli-Dosa joint in any city, and you are out in 20 minutes. Even Mcdonalds has not been able to penetrate their market. Has anyone made it compulsory to eat Idli-Dosa? Hindi films is another medium which merges cultures beautifully! When Shah Rukh dances to the tune of Lungi Dance, Lungi Dance, the whole of India likes it, not only Tamils or Malayalis 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lungi+dance+video+youtube&view=detail&mid=4AAD8BE78B35602C090E4AAD8BE78B35602C090E&FORM=VIRE 

The so-called resistance to Hindi is in the Sothern States of India. Script for these languages is quite different compared to Hindi. But the alleged differences are historical as India became India for the first time in 1947! For reasons already discussed, these differenopinions were natural, and people thought that Hindi was being imposed on them. I will share one example which indicates the complexity due to the technological changes that have taken place in the last seventy years. The regional languages naturally could not keep pace with technological changes. The onslaught of technology was felt by German, French, Spanish and Chinese too! English has come back strongly and has now almost become a global language, thanks to Computerisation!  

The way languages world over are facing the issue,  our regional languages also faced the same problem. These languages cannot cope up with the technological changes. But WhatsApp and Facebook have facilitated all local languages to be used for communication. Thereby the feared obscurity of the languages is gone. Now people chat in Tamil, Marathi and Telugu; and many other languages. Those who are English educated but know the mother tongue, use the Roman script to communicate in their language! “Barobar ahe na?” (Am I right?) I wrote Marathi in the roman script. So, nobody is going to kill local languages.  

How rich the regional languages will remain, depends on people using itAfter all most people “think” in the mother tongueDon’t worry too much. Tyre repair guy will be mostly Anna from Kerala! Idli-Dosa guy will be from Udupi! Recently I have observed that in the construction business, Bihari workers in Pune are being replaced by those from Bengal. In the hospitality industry, we see many ladies from North-East states working in large cities and even in distant hill stations like Mahabaleshwar. But mind you, most of them are conversant with the local language when their stay is long enough, but they also know Hindi!  

One thing we should never forget that language richness, quality and type changes with era. What was considered classic when I was in school, does not appear so today. The same thing is true with songs and movies too! Yesteryears classics seem a bit naïve today! Today’s generation loves today’s classics better than classics of my school daysThere is nothing wrong in that; tastes changevalue system changes! 

So friends, don’t get excited and start slanging matches; don’t begin your protests. Go and see a Hindi movie or a Tamil movie! You will love it! Nation’s unity is more important, not the regional language! 

Chalo Ek Bar Phir Se अजनबी बन जाये हम दोनो!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE5q9kst-Zc&w=521&h=391

This song is the best song rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, who was known as Mohammad Rafi clone, till then. (I had met him when I was in 9th or 10th grade, he used to play badminton in our club in Mumbai. (silk shorts and all!) The song is from 1963 movie Gumrah directed by legendary B R Chopra.

Sahir Ludhianvi was a poet who came to Bombay, to earn his bread in Bollywood. I don’t know what compromises he might have been required to make for movies, but I feel that in some of the songs the poet in him, comes out predominantly. A unique trait of Sahir was that he was very forthright in what he wanted to say, sometimes to the point of bluntness. The way he used the Urdu words was unbelievable. Many a time it so happens that for the Urdu words used by him, other languages don’t have the right words, with required lyricism, to explain his real feelings. Sahir Ludhianvi, who was indeed one of the most gifted poets, ever, to have written for Hindi cinema. Known for his cynicism and disillusionment with society, Sahir Ludhianvi wrote lyrics that reflect a great deal of emotional complexity and maturity. In contrast to his contemporaries, Ludhianvi chose to remain unhindered by the constraints set by the Bollywood love songs; many of his songs are refreshing to hear for their expression of biting political satire, heartfelt grief, or outspoken anger.

In this song, the two lovers are caught in the social situation which prevents them from fulfilling their romantic desires and living life together. It is supposedly his real-life situation where he and poet Amrita Pritam could not stay together though they loved each other. This song is an outpouring of their accidental meeting at a party with her new husband, in Bombay. He was never an idealist; hence the first two lines show his pragmatic approach to the situation.

Chalo Ek Baar Phir se, ajnabii ban jaayen ham donon 

Come let us become strangers again!

na main tumse koii ummiid rakhuun dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you

The last four lines are those of a protagonist. He feels that it is counterproductive to pour energy into a relationship that is doomed. His words indicate that sometimes it is good to put an early end to a love story which cannot end in happy circumstances, ever!

taalluq bojh ban jaaye to usko todnaa achhaa 

Should a relationship become a burden, then it is best to stop it.

voh afsaana jise anjaam tak laanaa na ho mumkin 

For that tale which cannot culminate in a conclusion,

use ek khuubsuurat mod de kar chhoDna achhaa

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be.

I am sure that it is a tough call to bring into practice what Sahir has preached. What Sahir has achieved is one of the best songs he has ever written! The lovers during their love phase and later when that love is broken, are highly emotional. It is entirely possible that sanity may be lost in their actions. But Sahir has suggested a very mature way of handling the situation. Let us be strangers again!

The middle stanza of the song is a practical way the poet is suggesting how the love needs to taper off.

na main tumse koii ummiid rakhuun dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you 

The poet is indicating to his love that he no longer would be compassionate in the relationship nor does he expect his beloved to do so.

na tum merii taraf dekho ghalat andaaz nazaron se 

Nor shall you gaze at me with your deceptive glances. 

na mere dil ki dhaDkan laDkhaDaaye merii baaton men 

My heart shall no longer tremble when I speak,  

Poet suggests to his lover that the misleading and furtive glances will not make his heart to flutter. Nor would his words will reflect feelings of the heart.

na zaahir ho tumhaari kashm-kash ka raaz nazaron se 

Nor shall your glances reveal the secret of your torment. 

Over a period, my love, your glances will not display the pain in your eyes!

Friends I am amazed at the way the artists express themselves. Painters’ expressions are seen in the paintings, and the singer will express through the depth of his voice. These days even cricketers say that they want to go and express themselves. By this, they all mean that they want to show their feelings. But in Sahir’s case,  it is simply amazing that he can find apt expressions and perfectly fitting words. The word Ajanabii hits the bull’s eye. From lovers to the other extreme, strangers! Somebody may have said, ”Let me walk away” or “let us forget each other”! But the word Ajnabii hits as if a dagger is plunged inside your heart! How can lovers become strangers in a broken relationship? But that is Sahir for you. Was this song the result of Sahir’s personal experience? Was it the wound to his heart that brought out the word Ajanabii from the depth of his heart?

The last line in the poem (ok it’s a song) is also equally impressive.

use ek khuubsuurat mod de kar chhodna achhaa

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be. 

Sahir says now that our relationship is getting over, why not give the situation a beautiful turn, as if he is driving a car and he wants to take an unexpected turn on the road which will never bring him back to his lover. Is it as simple as making a U-turn? khuubsuurat mod to me is a metaphor where he wants to walk out but expresses it as only Sahir can!

Sahir Ludhianvi is the pen name of Abdul Hayee (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980) who is popularly known as Sahir, was an Indian poet and film lyricist who wrote in the Hindi and Urdu languages. His work influenced Indian cinema, in particular, Bollywood films. Sahir won Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for Taj Mahal (1963). He earned a second Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for his work on Kabhie Kabhie (1976). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971. But lest you forget, his best work was in 1957 Gurudutt film,  Pyaasa!