Thursday, September 27, 2012

Interpreter of neighborly themes

By: Rajbir Deswal

I am having a post dinner stroll in the front of our Seattle home. The pavement is well lit with yellow light. Life-sized hedge has a couple of silhouettes appear on it from the other slightly lesser bright side. They approach and materialise in front of me flashing a smile. I reciprocate when they stop by to pronounce the clich├ęd reference to the weather being so good.

“Yeah! It’ refreshing and salubrious here!” I add a comment. Finding me interested, they are now firm holding the ground to pull a conversation with me. “You come from India!”—is not a question asked in Redmond, for a sizable number of engineers and management professionals are Indians. I hum in affirmation and ask if they had been to India ever. “No! But would love to!” says the slightly hunch-backed woman who was till now just listening with a quirky smile on her face. I noticed she could hardly babble but spoke in a way that her partner repeated for me. The reported speech turned out to be very good content in English. The couple seemed to be academics.

Before I could tell the woman she had immaculate language to speak and luring content to taste and savour for me, she scored a first in telling me almost the same thing in the same celebrating vein. I felt pampered and tried further to fine-tune my account. I couldn’t resist the temptation of telling the couple about my pretensions of being some kind of a writer and that I also have dared to bring out a small anthology of poems titled “My Own Khajuraho”.

Obviously they found ‘Khajuraho’ to be some foreign word, when more than the appellation, I had to explain the other finer nuances and ‘sexplicit’ references, in a much milder way than starkly stated in the sculptures. Further pampered into a kind of gratification, I offered to loan a copy of “My Own Khajuraho” to them realising little that ‘sexplaining’ the theme would be more demanding than scripting a few more verses, on the wayside scattered stones, than the compromising idols!

A week later I received the book back, with a note neatly written and appropriately tucked between the leaves, saying: “Thank you for the loan of your book. You have a reverence and awe for the daily appearance of God in the scenery of our lives and you share it in a way that doesn’t invite us to gawk at each appearance but only to reflect. Thank you. Yours neighbour Susan Boe”

I got another couple in my own ‘Khajuraho’ besides adding another poem—of human relations. The neighbours’ reference to the Divine and interpretation of Him confirmed Khajuraho being a temple, built in hearts of people even if they belong elsewhere!




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Projecting a movie scenario

UNFORGETTABLE PROJECTIONS BY RAJBIR DESWAL (Hindustan Times) Those were the days when an opportunity to watch a movie, if it came your way, was the greatest thing to happen to you. Not very long ago, going for a movie was never considered to be a socially acceptable thing. People would keep a watch in cinema halls, to locate and report about the boys in their streets or mohallas - of their ‘misdemeanour’ or ‘undesirable indulgence’ - to their families. That nobody questioned the ‘reporters’ themselves being there in the cinema hall was another thing. Perhaps some errant ones were to be excused. The silver lining then was the government PR (public relations) departments which generally showed movies on social themes, and other classics sometimes, using a portable 16-mm projector. The entire scenario is worth a recall, juxtaposed with the modern-day moviegoing experience, which provides the choice of watching any number of movies any number of times. The projection movie was ‘walled’ (rather than ‘screened’) at a building with white paint. The setting up of the projector instantaneously invited large crowds. Some peeping through the vantage windows, others sitting on rooftops, some squatting on the ground and the more daring ones perched on boundary walls. No, there were no chairs. Even the operator sat on a stool. There would be a large box with reel spools. One by one, these spools would be fixed on the projector and the moviewatchers bore with every change of the spool. Another reel was fixed and the projection would initially show a blank luminous rectangular frame, followed by some numerals, still to be followed by a cue from where t he last reel had been shown. Focusing was needed for clarity of the moving images on the wall. These movies were largely in black and white. The projector’s whirring sound did interfere slightly with the sound track played through a single horn-shaped loudspeaker, placed appropriately to cater to the ears of all and sundry. The projection would not be more than a 6x4 sq ft patch on the wall. Sometimes, the flipping and flitting flying creatures would come in the way of the beamed projection, to appear with their size multiplied on the screen. Everyone would first have a laugh, and then wish these were gone the soonest. The reels also got snapped or broken at times. I remember having watched ‘ Amar’, ‘Andaz’ and ‘Insaniyat’, thanks to a projector, in an open, makeshift theatre. The last of this series was Dev Anand’s ‘Ek Ke Baad Ek’, which had a social message of arresting the population growth, beginning to be felt then (early 1960s) as disastrous for the country’s future. These days, we have 3D movies, with all technological inputs of even dissolving and manifesting, on screen, of things too solid. But the projector movie show can’t be forgotten for the extra amount of thrill, excitement and association which it had at that time, when you would feel blessed having seen ‘yet another film’ which added to your account of maybe six or seven. The experience came gratis and cost you just your discomfort of not having a proper seat to sink in. But who the hell cared for it!