Tuesday, November 5, 2019

planned cities and poetry

We loved Canberra. Well, it was a great holiday- the drive was pleasant, we took a guided tour of the Parliament, stayed and took long walks in the beautiful suburb of Narrabundah, accidentally stumbled into the delightful, archaic National Film & Sound Archive, visited the National Museum and the War Memorial. More than that, I loved Canberra because of it's design, because of the township feel that I so adore, because of the wide roads and low-rise buildings. Until I saw the place, I couldn't imagine that a city could be built like that. Infact my only mental images of townships came from having spent a little time in Srirampur and the ITC Guest House in Sarapaka. I started reading about the design and construction of Canberra, came upon the Garden City Movement, Howard Ebenezer and incidentally stumbled across the same name again in Rana Dasgupta's astonishingly poetic Capital. There seems to be a part of me, and I'm conjecturing many people have similar feelings being slightly wary of my own exceptionalism, that craves for order, discipline, planning, geometric figures, that claims that continuous progress is essential and is possible only after we map the co-ordinates and set the direction. Ofcourse, contrary to that is the other part that abhors finality, which I'm sure you'll find multiple instances of in this blog, and seeks the momentary flips of the soul when it comes in contact with something transcendental and that craves for surprise, and since that cannot be designed, tries to give it a little more chance by keeping discipline at bay. The reason for this slight excursion, and Swageetam, is that these feelings seem to be universal. Dasgupta writes about how Delhi has been repeatedly razed down and years later is again the site for a new set of grandiose ambitions. He writes about how Delhi's story is less a continuous cycle of deaths and rebirths, and more of a low burning flame into which lives are almost fatalistically tempted to enter and be destroyed, creating a fabulous show while the burning happens until only ashes remain, hiding beneath them the fires refusing to die, waiting patiently until more dreamers and poets pass by.

Speaking of poets, I've had the pleasure of reading excellent poetry since the last few days. The catalyst has been Dr. Mrunalini gari interviews with writers and poets called Akshara Yatra, especially the one with K. Siva Reddy garu. I loved the way he read his poems, at the end of the interview, and that led me to reading out loud some his poems from పక్కకి ఒత్తిగిలితే- Of the ones I've read till now, my favourites are- పక్కకి ఒత్తిగిలితే, ఒక కొత్త ఊహ, పొద్దున్నే, సాయంత్రానికి, మూసీనది ఒడ్డున, వీడు, రోడ్డున పడ్డాడతను, వీధులే, అతని కల. ఏం కళాకారుడండి. ఆయనెదురు పడితే కాళ్ళమీదడిపోతా. ఆ ఊహ, ఆ శిల్పం, ఆ తత్వం. Which also lead me to start reading aloud other, for some reason Hindi and Urdu poems, I've always liked- Piyush Mishra's Husna, Aarambh, Duniya, Gulzar saab's Hindi translations of Tagore, Amitabh Bhattacharya's poems in Udaan, Irshad Kamil's poetry in Rockstar and Tamasha, and Javed Akhtar saab's poems in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Life's been a song. I can't recommend Dr. Mrunalini gari interviews enough; There are so many accomplished Telugu writers and scholars who's work I'd been absolutely unaware of. I particularly enjoyed Janaki Bala gari and Prof. Velcheru Narayana Rao gari interviews. 

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