Summary of the next three days at the workshop
Kiran did a study on livejournal and the features it has which enable and strengthen community formation. One thing which struck me - for a group to form encourage the formation of a sub-group. Vishnu did a presentation on the mythologicals in Telegu cinema. He said, mythologicals cannot take the burden of star-systems.
I learnt about the work of a lot of researchers. Research is thought - how do others think, what is making them tick - the room was constantly charged with passion. I felt comfortable!
Carrrying on my earlier loop - discussion on the creative process. It is the process which I need to focus more on, I have been obsessed with the creative act, the product of this... It is not that product is not important, it is that the product needs to be qualified - by process, by stories, by narrative. I need to talk about / think about the process more - the process is a committment.
I was wondering why working on the internet is often such a hyper, breathless and anxious process - pages take time to load, the process bar gives a realistic indication of how much time it will take, and I hold my breath?
Khaled made an interesting presentation on the working culture in fast food chains. He focussed on McDonalds. As a fact - when there are too many customers and serving isn't happpening fast enough - they stop serving! They stop serving and they dance. To distract the customers and then when there enough pizzas are cooked again - they stop dancing and start serving.
Kiran posed an interesting question to Khaled - does dancing in a pizza-shop make Mcdonald's a dance-bar - the definition of dance being, "swaying the body"? Technically yes. So down with McDonalds!!?
Kuldeep Kaur had a very intense presentation - unheard voices from the birthing room in hospitals. She is a nurse, the intensity in her presentation was in the statistics, the demonstration of the scale and nature of the problem. Many seemed to need her perspective, her personal knowledge and experience of being present there in that space... she related some poetry. It was strong.
Bodhi's presntation on the Mess rooms in Kolkatta was fabulous. It was presented very passionately and eloquently. I could conjure images of the messes as he spoke. He said that in the Bhadralok Theatre the messes were like a perpetual green room. Another interesting thing he said was that the generations which have grown up in the messes have been accepted in society but the institution hasn't been accepted.
In a question, Karen asked Bodhi how was "hetrosexuality exercised" in the mess-houses, being all-male? I liked that term, and the way she put it. The day ended with a rich, immersing performance by Mohammed Farooqui, "Dastan E Amir Humza."
Across dinner I had a discussion with Soudhamini. She asked a very pertinent question to me, "Why the images?" - in context of my presentation. She felt my poems were quite strong and telling and the images were not needed at all. She was saying that inter-disciplinary discourse/approach was all fine - but maybe a purist eye would enable a healthy marriage of mediums. She said good poetry can and should stand on its own.
Next day started with a presentation by Sudeshna Chatterjee... about child-friendly cities. It seemed to be quite classical in terms of approach and form, good academic research? Presented quite crsiply. Kaiwan introduced ways of reading architechture like novels. Very interesting. In Meera's presentation about children who lived at Vijaywada railway station. She said children can be hurt very easily. She presented the confusion which was quite prevelant - "being able to write is a pre-requisite to being able to draw."
Now more strewn and unorganized notes - In Vasudha and Soudhamin's presentaion - the actuality of research for creative projects was presented. Both presented ruses of films very much in progress. Soudhamini seemed to be very much a process person - she said to rush with the work to be able to present it could short-circuit it. Vasudha talked about interactive video, video with choices.
Videndra's presentation was really good. It had a mood and a sense of space. He chose to disassociate sound and picture. The video played in the background and he performed the audio. Every time he needed to, he just paused the video!! The demonstration/lecture was on songs of protest / motivational songs in the tradition of the left, and mostly in Bengal. Some great histroical recordings were played out. Sumangala commented on a singer's seemingly deriving perverse pleasure from singing a hindi song in a karnatak fashion.
Shruddha commented on some researchers' anxiety about proving the truth of what they were talking about. He suggested - that this anxiety could be dealt with awareness.
Because keeping up is difficult
Breath has an inherent rhythm. Why do I sit at the window and suffer the anxiety of having nothing to say. Invented conversations. Today again, my weakness and my lost frontiers featured together on my lips in the span of a few hours. Why can't I just be dealing with stories, following traces, following paths, not trying to re-read, re-appreciate, remember everything that I like at the same time. These stories would have mornings, noons and nights - discussions would be the altars to which I could bow down to, be humble and listen. You could say something today - so meaningful for me that I listened agog. Everything is equally difficult, equally simple. Do what you do, its all about committment - but the train leaves the station at half-fast midnight and fantasies are slowly filling up the prime real-estate of my mind.
Actually things were cut out well enough, clearly enough for me. I chose to be insecure. Insecurity can make you try playing walkie-talkie with a little dead mobile-phone.
So it is very clearly writtien in what I see - straight-on, decide today.
I have taken this decision too many times to be able to take it again.
Sometimes a question can be rendered meaningless by over-contemplation. What is the time?
Egoless, melted, semi-transparent - I sit on his laps and ask to be fed, I ask to be suckled. But the bus we are in has an accident and it topples over. It falls over the cliff and falls into the sea.
As an idea - the ride from karol bagh to mumbai and back seems interesting - combined with some exciting variations in tax and traffic-jammed delhi streets - it becomes cinematic. What all will I do?
Looking at the insignificance, the sorrowful waste, the shallowness of my experience - I seem to be resonating soundly with the other lost, limping the way back to the hotel. In a bus what do they do on the back seats, they get drunk and swear, they curse, they demand attention.
Cows of the hindi belt, we are like cows in the hindi belt - refusing to understand and mooing consistently - for the real discourse listen to the monkeys - tying a rakhi to a monkey, to a dog - the creativity in the bond?
Workshop at Sarai, all the fellows making their presentations. Shruddha started today morning with a presentation on Sarai. "Distributed Public Research Network," public knowledge generation. I was sitting at the far-end of the long table. I haven't had time to get my beard trimmed, I look anarchic, accepting, wild, unstructured?
There are some amazing individuals here, solid as rock, porous as clouds, rain-clouds?
Someone asked - should critique be pre-judging everything, or should it be commentary and negotiating?
B.Mahesh Sharma made an interesting presentation on the adoption of CNG in Delhi. He commented that our tendency to fallback on experts and trust them is dangerous.
Listening to others is rather engaging for me - it reminds me that I cannot invent every reality inside my head, I need to learn, need to know the world around me. Approaching the world with curious, eager-to-learn eyes is the only way to remain young. Karen Cohelo presented a paper on the urban water conflicts in Chennai. I liked the way she started her prestentation with lots of pictures of grids in the city. Grids of hoardings, of construction... of underground water-pipes. Pipes which no one hasa map of, a blue-print of - people know more about the pipes in the areas where they live, than the municipality which supplies water through them!
Science is a brand of logic. Science is about the time between life and death. Nitoo Das in her paper on hypertextual MSN poery communities talked of how a sense of community was developed online - through well-defined rituals and practices.
Do I have power over my work?
Maybe I should have a nickname - a screenname, have too much of a direct online presence. It is liberating to be writing as someone else as a non-self engagement. "strung onto something else". All research, all thought distilled and deliberated on enough is a story. Generalization, over-simplification is a guide to searching, seeking - is a form to fill in the shades, the details.
Archana Jha presented a very interesting histroy of Nautanki (a kind of folk theatre). The story goes this way. Kanpur develops as an industrial city. Labourers migrate to the city for work. They were exploited. They needed some form of entertainment. They started nautanki - which built on earlier forms of music and theatre. The industry fell through, the labourers moved to another city to search for work - nautanki disappeared! The situation of Kanpur which was the catalyst disappeared...
It is not that product is not important - but what is more important is what qualifies the product, the qualities, the story!!! The process which needs be talked about leads to a product which is a sum not a deliberation. Thinking without the pressure of having to decide. Shouldn't intwine my process of searching for my voice very strongly with livelihood issues - it can get very confusing. Both are different things, let it be that way.
Nitoo mentioned (while commenting on someone's presentation) how early performers, singers were reluctant to record their songs, because they said that - successful Indian classical music was the only good Indian singing, it should be performed only LIVE.
Performed only being swayed by "the moment's variance", being swayed by subtle doubts. Prashant Pandey asked an interesting question. Is what we know as the male and female style of singing, basically based on the concept and quality of voice developed by the female voice impersonators.
Shruddha called for "impersonation of impersonation". "Female impersonation of females of an earlier time."
feeling the range of
a song, a dance will be
flowers break themselves
in to fragrances
which can travel,
how far away can you go
and insolvent flavours
nothing will seem real today,
from being barren to writing of children
nothing will seem real today.
cold in the head
and being blown up in bed
the sitar is playing softly -
instead we will put on the radio
put things out
on the patio
let guillable folks believe
we are happily dead.
On Friendship Day
Today is friendship day,
does that mean
someone will call me
Will it mean out of nowhere,
out of the grey clouds which rain
consistently over this city -
someone will come home
and ring the bell...
all that friendship means to me
is loss, remembering, memory.
of all the friends I have had
and I don't have today.
These words, fall
on the screen.
Nothing can cajole these ideas