'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Farrago, Murat and the Pride of India

As everybody knows, Shashi Tharoor has been making all kinds of waves for quite a while. His wide-ranging impact can be gauged from this simple fact:

A roofing material manufacturing company based in Kerala has put on the market a product named: 'Farrago Tiles'. I can trace the brand name only to the Tharoor tweet that went "Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and whatever....".

And inspired by this development, a friend of mine who is planning to get into the soft drinks business has given the name ------- to an all new concoction of his. Readers are invited to fill the blank; the answer to this puzzle - a fairly simple one if you have not taken great pains to keep away from Tharoor and his utterances - is at the bottom of this post.


The Wiki article on Tolstoy's novella 'Hadji Murat' has the following passage (slightly edited): "The narrator contemplates a crushed, but still living thistle he finds in a field. The thistle reminds him of the life of Hadji Murat, a successful and famed Tartar guerrilla who falls out with his own commander and eventually sides with the Russians in hope of saving his family...."

From the novella itself:

"The thistle had three branches. One was broken and stuck out like the stump of a mutilated arm. Each of the other two bore a flower, once red but now blackened. One stalk was broken, and half of it hung down with a soiled flower at its tip. The other, though also soiled with black mud, still stood erect. Evidently a cartwheel had passed over the plant but it had risen again, and that was why, though erect, it stood twisted to one side, as if a piece of its body had been torn from it, its bowels drawn out, an arm torn off, and one of its eyes plucked out. Yet it stood firm and did not surrender ...."

Here is how one was reminded of someone being reminded of someone on seeing something:

Last week, while traveling to workplace by bus, I spotted, on the median dividing the Kochi bypass, a burst of glorious flowers radiating from a tree that had been cut down or withered and collapsed to a barely one meter stump (with my rudimentary botany, I could identify the species as the 'Pride of India'). The tree stump had practically no leaves and the stalks of ebullient blooms brought up memories of a classical metaphor - the quiver of Kama, the god of Love.

I wanted to take pictures but the spot was about five kilometers from office - and still farther from home - and inconvenient to get down at; whatever, a few days passed by.

Today morning, the weather was overcast and windy and there was little to do at office so I borrowed somebody's bicycle and pedaled to the stump (*). The last week has been occasionally drizzly and lots of fresh leaves have sprouted all around the flowers. So, these are the pictures I could manage of what has been an amazing feat of defiant regeneration (with some effort, I resisted the temptation to tear off the fresh leaves just to get a picture akin to the much punchier vision I had last week).

And then....: A colleague told me that a "grand picture" of this phenomenon had appeared in the local edition of 'Matrubhumi'. With some help from Mom, I searched and found it. Here is the pic taken by V S Shine. Does it look a helluva lot grander than what I could capture!

The pic had a caption that went: "A generous and solemn floral tribute ('adaranjali' in Malayalam): A sprawling tree that stood proudly on the median collapsed the other day. To prevent traffic deadlocks, the authorities cut away and disposed of its branches. But from the yard-high stump that remained, Nature has brought forth a whole host of bouquets of blossoms"

While full of appreciation for the work done by Shine and Matrubhumi, I have reservations about saying 'solemn tribute', especially when faced with such a joyous affirmation of continuing Life.

Here is another - less glamorous but no less impressive - specimen. The Kochi Metro project recently cut a big tree in Chambakkara down to 'kabandha'-state (we can reuse, with very slight changes, the line from Murat and say: "the tree had three branches. Each one was chopped and stuck out like the stump of a mutilated arm") and now the same tree looks like a perky cheerleader (thanks, Viji Mam!):


A mundu(dhoti) company's ad that appears often on the telly shows actor Mohanlal working a charkha (desi spinning wheel) and declaring: "This is not an ad but a salute to all those craftsmen of yore who weaved India's dreams on the charkha!"

Comment: One knew the Charkha can spin; but never knew it can weave too! So, maybe the yeti can after all, play the bagpipe!

Comment on Comment: Hey, the ad didn't in anyway even indicate that the charkha weaves any kind of cloth - everyone knows it can't! But what prevents it ( or any other device) from weaving (or kneading or scrambling or whatever) dreams?


Answer to the puzzle: 'Rodomontade' after Lemonade and "I choose my words because they are the best ones for the idea i want to convey, not the most obscure or rodomontade ones!" . A sneaking doubt: Did Tharoor get something wrong here - rodomontade shows up in dictionaries as a noun, not an adjective, so....?


(*)Today's biking in challenging traffic - and up and down a lengthy flyover - brought back memories of a monsoon season spent in pre-Millennium Bangalore. There was no work and little money but there were employed folks whose bicycles could be borrowed when they were at work (for those were times when at least some employed people would bike to work) and I would scour the city, occasionally having to work thru Bangalore's already messy traffic but generally enjoying its bracing winds and refreshing showers and once reaching as far as the Bannerghatta forest.


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