Education / 16.05.2009

The first part of this thought experiment was intended to test if my perception of the ‘Other’ was a reflection of nothing more than my own prejudices. It had me revisit repeatedly the same set of objects arranged in different ways to see how my reactions varied in response to the arrangements. In the second part of the experiment I want to see the picture from the other end. This time I imagine myself to be a member of the set of objects and try to sense how I would feel in the various scenarios. The setting is still the same – a classroom of children being visited by an outsider.
Ghalib / 10.01.2009

One would expect Ghalib to have a unique way of welcoming the New Year: dekhiiye paate haiN ushshaaq buton se kya faiz ik barahman ne kahaa hai kih yih saal achchhaa hai let’s see what favors lovers find from idols a Brahman has said that this year is good  This is indeed a very clever and witty she’r, as the interpretation at Mehr-e-Niimroz will make clear. The play is on the word but which in Urdu, in the context of the lover, signifies an extremely beautiful woman. But but also means ‘idol’, and that pairing with Brahmin is perfect in the second line. Who would be a better authority on the behavior of ‘idols’ than a Brahmin (who is an ‘idol-worshipper’ in the eye of a Muslim)? [A digression. Here is Marco Polo on his stop in India on the way back from China in 1292 AD describing the people:...

Ghalib / 14.09.2008

This week we have just the right she’r to address the issue of the ‘Other.’ I was about to say it hits the nail on the head when my head made me re-think the sentiment from the perspective of the nail. I wonder how the corn feels about the corny joke? In any case – Onwards, Christian soldiers  (for a clue to the allusion, see Ghalib and Jesus on stone throwing on Mehr-e-Niimroz). maiN ne majnuuN pe laRakpan meN ‘asad’ sang uThaayaa thaa ke sar yaad aayaa Against Majnun, in boyhood/childishness, Asad I had picked up a stone – when the head came to mind Majnun is the archetypal mad lover at whom children pelt stones. The poet is about to join this torment, either as a child or in a state of childishness, when he puts himself in the shoes of the ‘Other’ – his head makes him realize...