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Within / Without

Ravings. Rantings. Arbitrary Obsessions. Cities. Bricks. History. Music. Feminism. Words. Maami-isms. Patterns. Identities. Culture. Free Verse. Punctuation...

Kadai - Or Kavya's Letter to Anant

Note - Kadai Take 6. In continuation from Take 5 here.---Doyou remember the time we had stuffed ourselves with Paranthas" As withall weekend winter mornings, Old Delhi lay yawning in front of us.Waking up in bits and pieces, as our feet made way through thenarrowest of galis. Hopping over urine trails and red paan[1] stains.You yanked me into an old Haveli[2].Like most havelis, its entrace betrayed the possible space inside. Thehaveli belonged to some friend's grandfather. He sat quiet in thecorner while you quickly gave him a salute and indicated you wanted totake me upstairs. In a house with no women, the insides of the zenanahad been covered with leftover pieces of bedsheets and old curtains. Wewent near the jaali[3] of a window that was half broken. You asked meto stand in front of the jaali. And let the light fall in its shadowypatterns on my face and burn through the eyelids. I closed my eyes. Youhad just taught me to kiss sunlight.I could never understandyour love for Delhi then. You were a khanabadosh[4]. I thought thatnomads were capable of indifference for every city that theytrespassed. It was later - as I drew the hand of Fahtima on thelistless sky by the Arabian sea, that it occured to me that akhanabadosh is equally capable of love for every city that he steppedinto.Every monument in Delhi carries the scent of your laugh.Like that time when we sat in a corner by Isa Khan's tomb[5], and Iattempted to weave grass into your hair. The octagon of Isa Khan's tombwould reflect our love lives later. Triangles do not even feature inour lives. Triangles are simplistic. Instead, the criss-crossingaffairs of our lives would shape themselves into octagons. A Mullahfrowned at your cigarette that was unleashing curly streams ofnicotine. You put it out. We went back to laughing.Theoctagon meant that the notion of 360 degrees of separation didn't holdmuch water for us. 1080 degrees in eight internal angles. But despitethat seeming orgy of mathematics, geometry and "other loves", wecarried on from monument to monument. Laughter, like pellets of pigeonshit was everywhere.I remember you with much fondness, becausewhen I think of my last winter in Delhi, I think of you. You and kites.They both remind me of Delhi. You said once that your first born wouldbe Parvaaz. Parvaaz means 'flight' in Urdu. I instantly felt sad forthe unborn and possibly sleeping child within you. Names put suchpressure on children. Parvaaz is a name that would take a lot of livingupto. Parvaaz. The unstrung flight of the final kite we flew together.WhenI finally did decide to leave Delhi to its fate, I went one last timeto Humayun's tomb alone. Where the empty tomb reached out to theheavens, my eyes sought only the jaali. I remembered how you taught meto kiss sunlight, and indulged in it again. Except this time, no onewas here to watch me. I was free of the world of octagons. This kisswas very personal.I love you like one loves a city. With greatawe and an easy familiarity - with fondness growing over distance andtime. For your history, and cold nights. The lights that called torefugees from all over Asia. The lights that called to the khanabadoshin me. Then, I decided to leave.[1] Beetel Leaf[2] Wikipedia reference for Haveli[3] Jaali - Screen with Lattice work[4] Khanabadoshcan be loosely translated as 'Nomad'. However, this word has itsorigins in the notion of carrying own's home with one's self. This isnot just in terms of physical belongings, but also in terms of anidentity.[5] The tomb of Isa Khan sits by the Bu Halima Garden inHumayun's Tomb complex. Built in 1547, it is a cacaphony ofarchitectural styles. Isa Khan was an important sidekick to Sher ShahSuri (the Afghan ruler who managed to scare Humayun). A beautiful article on Isa Khan's tomb by RV Smith - the veteran Delhi lover can be read here.[Image Credit - TravelBlog and Monuments of India]

43 Comments: Rajesh J Advani said...

Amazingly written.(btw, the link takes you to Take 5 instead of Take 6)

19:12 Taran said...

Khanabadosh. Cool. Another useful word that embodies a concept... thanks.

21:08 Pareshaan said...

Man,youcan write. For some reason I had never felt the urge to read any of youKadais before. I read through tem all today, and am all shook up. Verynicely written, and needless to say I loved the last one the best.Parts of these episodes are so damned good, that I feel as though youare channeling a great writer, long dead. Spooky and fantastic, theatmosphere you create is just too good. Though I must say that some ofyour repetitions made me wonder why you do that - for continuity, tomake a point that you will later build on. Why" But I guess then thatis the charm of your piece. Great Stuff.

23:09 Motley Fool said...

:) I shouldnt have (re)read this on a Monday morning. No way I will get any work done now. And the subtle visuals to make your usual heady mix of world play even more potent. Aaarrgh - addiction setting in!

01:08 Motley Fool said...

Err...word play not world. Though it could be a Freudian slip :)

01:10 Primalsoup said...

Wonderful imagery. And my favourite city too! :)

02:00 Sanket said...

Neha, I haven't read the previous Kadais.Will read. But this one is very good. The language is fresh. Whatexactly is this series" Is it a loosely knit series of reflections, oris it a (not too keen) attempt to a novel" It's good either way.And btw, do you read a lot of Michael Ondaatje" ;)

07:16 MumbaiGirl said...

lovely

14:35 MumbaiGirl said...

A valentine letter to a city"

14:40 MumbaiGirl said...

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14:40 Anonymous said...

Kadai is shop. Kadhai/Kathai is story.Remindsme of this dude who wanted to host his short stories on kahani.com, butfound it was already purchased - so he called it kahany.com ! So hisevery "kahany" ends up on this kahany.com.

16:08 neha vish said...

Rajesh, Taran, Pareshaan, Motley Fool, Primal Soup: Thank you all.. So much!Sanket:I will never make a novelist. I am too lazy. This is a bunch of storieswhich will hopefully be tied together one day. Yes have read MO - butin all honesty - very little.MumbaiGirl: Don't really celebrate Valentine's Day. But this letter is more of a break-up letter isn't it" :)Anonymous:I toyed with Kadhai for a second. However, growing up with more thanone language meant that the word Kadhai brought to my mind the image ofa large saucepan. (kadhai - Hindi for vessel).The D kadai is a softer consonant than dh. :)

16:36 Anonymous said...

HelloNeha, I believe what you have in mind with the saucepan is the kadaai -google for it, you will find kadaai paneer, kadaai kurma etc. Ialso grew up with multiple languages. In the end nomenclature is aboutestablished conventions eg. kadhai for story, kadai for shop &kadaai for saucepan. It is not about trailblazing where kadhai becomessaucepan in your specific perverted mind.btw have you read thestory or I should say kadhai where one retired GoI employee decides tomake life interesting by changing nomenclature. So he calls a tablechair, a chair food, food bicycle and so on...so instead of sitting onchair and eating food placed on table, he convinces himself he issitting on food and eating bicycle placed on chair...so very soon hisgharwale and doodhwali and dukandaar are unable to relate to him, andthey deem him senile and put him in NGO funded by the misery dollars ofUma/Dileep/ShivamVij gang.So, have you heard that heartbreaking kadhai " Or should I call it kahany " :))Takeheed, little Neha. Otherwise I will chop you up into little littlepieces and fry you in kadaai and sell it in a kadai - and that will bemy kadhai for the recent short-story contest - about a chopped bloggerending up in a polyster cover in kadai for sale @ 3 rupees 25 paisa.Ok Adios now you go back to your kadhai.

19:15 neha vish said...

Anonymous: Correction. That is not kadaai. It is kadhai. With emphasis on the consonant and not vowel. If you understand language at all - you'd find that it's a rather dynamic understanding. Life doesn't run by Wren and Martins.How desperate are you for Rs 3.25 really" LOL!

19:34 Anonymous said...

Whensouthies go north, they forget their south roots & cannot pick upthe north intonations also. So like hijdas, they end up mouthing someridiculous nonsense like kadhai for saucepan, doodhwallah for milkman,Palakkad for palghat etc. On top of it they are granted visas and endup as NRIs in foreign lands perpetuating their ignorance of all thingsdesi and beating down their ignorance with incorrect stresses onconsonants & vowels. Ofcourse rest of india is not as confused asthese NRIs and it has a hearty laugh buying doodh from doodhwala (doodhwallah! as if doodhwala is a muslim hai allah wallah! ), boilingdoodh in kadaai and drinking the same whether in Palghat or Pollachi.An RI from Usilmpatti with internut coneckshun.

19:58 Pareshaan said...

AKadhai is a Kadhai, and you never boil doodh in a Kadhai.A Kadhai isused for Deep Frying. A milk man is nothing if not a doodhwallah. And amuslim is certainly not a Hai Allah Wallah!!Anonymous dude, its none of my business, but your comment is so stupid, that I could not resist commenting.

21:35 chandni said...

Anon: I agree with Pareshaan...dont know about stupid...but its definitely silly and absolutely uncalled for!!If you want to fight, fight for what u believe in...what is the north-south funda""And Neha, that was great...I actually miss delhi! and that in itself, is an achievement of the Kadhai :o)Keep it going!

02:29 chandni said...

see this http://chalodilli.indiatimes.com/

02:55 Nilu said...

I never thought I would be at this end of the request - can I borrow your anon"

04:35 Premalatha said...

anon, LOL.Ihave been trying what Neha is doing as well. I mean, I have beendeliberately writing la for zha (palam for pazham for fruit), as anon-tamil would read it with real "z" sound which would be "pasham" forfruit. also, have been using aa for nedil and single a for kuril etc..now, you make me think should I go back to zha for la"btw,until I read anon's comment, I didn't get a for a minute, "Kadai" isstory. Kathai would have been more "correct" in my world. suppose itdepends on how much tamil/hindi/english influences you (or how much youhad either of these in your past, that makes you up). thanks anon for helping me get kadai as kathai. :)

10:28 neha vish said...

Pareshaan: :)) Thank you!Chandni:Thanks for the link. Did poke around a bit there. It soundsinteresting. Though Delhites seem less interested in their city - theireyes look Gurgaon-wards now. :)Nilu: Feel free!Premalatha:It's a complicated thing isn't it. I usually end up writing Tamizh,because the "l" seems to weak. To me "th" comes across as the verystrong "th" sound in Hindi, which would be used for words like Thelaetc. Or even the "th" in Kath(h)a - the ingredient in a paan.Isuppose it's also possible that the Tamizh consonants are so differentfrom the Hindi ones. Like when we use the alphabet "k" for k, kh, g, ghetc.Transliteration is always tough. Because languages don'tshare the same intonations. Which is why I routinely translate inbrackets. :)I wouldn't have a problem with anon's observationsif they weren't done with so much pointless rudeness and talk ofchopping me up.

11:08 Premalatha said...

Hi Neha, In Tamil (zh"), one k, depending what prefix or suffix goes, it gets g sound. kh or gh is not used in tamil (zh").tholkaappium gives a very detailed rules couldn't read.havinggone through many languages in my life too, i believe, it is importantto leave the original provounciation in their language, if not intact,atleast close enough. for example, swiss is suise, in their language.lol. it sounds so pattikkaadu, isn't it. when In use la forzha, my interest is to get the close-enough pronounciation from all,including non-tamils. pazham sounding pasham is not as close as palamfor fruit. :-)I actually thougt kadai as kadaai. :-)kathaiis close-enough, as in tamil (thamil) t - for ta as in tom, th is forth as in thambi. (it would be thampi, as m-prefix makes the p to b!):-) actual pronounciation of kathai is soft tha, (as in thambi orthai). you don't get that soft th in hindi. it is either t, th, d, ordh. none of them really equivalent to th in kathai. :-)but, we are writing in English, who have made Thiruvallikaeni to Triplicane and Aazhapuzhai (Aalappulai") to Allepey. so, :(as anon says, it is important for the readers to get what we are saying, rather than what is correct.

11:10 Premalatha said...

sorry, didn't read your last line, Iwouldn't have a problem with anon's observations if they weren't donewith so much pointless rudeness and talk of chopping me up. i thought he was trying to be funny, not rude. sometimes,it happens to me too that I think it was rude and these British tell methey were trying to be funny to make me laugh. I never get their"jokes" and they call me "no humour sense" and again they tell me that"that was trying to be funny too".. lol. I think he was trying to be funny.

11:13 Premalatha said...

hi,just one more thing,you are writing Thamil words in English through Hindi. :-)Hindi could be dropped out. just a thought. :-)

11:24 neha vish said...

Premalatha: Why would you think of it as "aa", when it states a"Actuallyyou do have the soft "th" in Hindi. :) It is used in words like "Tesu","Tevar", "Tejas" etc. I used to study history in undergrad and we had aregular problem with transliterations. The codes for transliterationare usually heavy and do not capture the essence of the word anyway.I have never been able to equate the "l" sound with the "zh" sound. But that's me. :)And zh is definitely not sh. Idon't think Anon was trying to be funny. I found it pitiable that theonly way Anon could counter me was by attacking my SouthIndian/NorthIndian identity and my status as an NRI. I don't thinkchopping up people and offering to sell them qualifies as a joke. Butagain that's me. I don't see violence as a joke.I am glad youagree with Anon about it being important for readers to get what theperson is saying. But perhaps Anon needs to look at the various pointsI transliterate and translate.

11:24 Premalatha said...

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11:34 Premalatha said...

This post has been removed by the author.

11:35 Premalatha said...

don't see violence as a jokeno no Neha, it is not violence. it was just a funny way of putting things. some people have their own style."premalatha"has "pre" nedil and "tha" nedil, but is written with kuril (one a) andpronounced as nedil, so we are confused from the bottom. that is whykadai looks kadaai to me. kadai definitely does not look kathai to me. Thamil is more close to me than Tamizh, to thamil (lol). well,the soft tha is hindi is not defined as a separate letter in the samewas as g and k share common script in Thamil but get differentpronounciation depending on the prefix and suffix. look at Englishitself, they don't even pronounce same spelling similar at alloccasions.as I have mentioned before, Thamil to English throughhindi makes it more complicated. Hindi could be dropped out of theequation. Hindi doesn't have to decide how a Thamil word should bewritten in English. If you look at the equation, (even if theanon intended offense), what we are is basically makes us to understandthings in a certain specific way. There is nothing wrong with iteven if someone uses that to offend, we do not have to give anysignificance to it, which makes their intention die immediately. I amtrying myself. It gives me a better, broader perspective to look at andunderstand things. "yes, I am a NRI, so what" yes, my understanding ofthings because I am a NRI has its influences, that is correct,absolutely nothing wrong with it. thank you very much for reminding me,it helps to see why I understand the way I understand". another thing, everydebate you ("you" is "general", rather than pointed at any person)loose, you gain, as you have learnt a new thing. winning a debate is aloss, as nothing is learnt today.

11:46 neha vish said...

Premalatha: Yeah. Am sure Happy Slapping is also meant to be a funny way of putting things. This is my blog, and I choose to find that comment offensive. Period.Thedefinitive limitation of the Tamizh alphabet is that it hardly has anyconjunct consonant clusters. However, pronounciation of Tamizh wordsuses various consonants that go beyond the mellinam, idayinam andvallinam of each alphabet.Do not make assumptions. I do nottranslate via Hindi. While it does enrich my understanding ofintonations, I do use Hindi to transliterate. However, learning Hindihas helped me understand intonations better. No language is adequatefor another. Which is why we have the notion of "lost in translation" -easily extendable to lost in transliteration.For you it is Thamil. For me it is Tamizh.WhenNRI is used as a tag/ qualifier it's one thing, but it's quite anotherif hurled about as an invective. It is charming that you are relativelyunaffected by it. While I am not offended easily, I do make it a pointto acknowledge attempts to offend.This is not a debate. A civil discussion would have been better. But this ends becoming more and more a war of identities.I am not going to allow any more comments on the subject of t, th, dh, and d. There's only so much time I have.

14:06 Anonymous said...

Dear anon :Thanks for the post I really enjoyed ur analysisIn the words of Shakespeare its the comedy of errors I have a few questions: 1) which roots do you think southies forget when the head north "(also let me know what u understand by roots)2)Doodhwalaah for milkman is perfectly acceptable and idiomatic, whatmakes u judge the gender of southies and label as them neuters" 3)Well ignorance of desi things are u talking about" And for gods sakethere is no such thing as correct stress and for that matter even theperfectly laid down languages like Sanskrit dont specify that(we candiscuss this in its sheer lingual entirety if u so desire).4) India is not confused :o and NRIs are wow !!! I must admit there is some confusion hereAn Indian from everywhere with internet connection AshuPs: we can take this offline and discuss this on email .mail me at ashuimt@yahoo.com

14:10 Anonymous said...

well, for those facing problems with representation of indian languages with english charactersi suggest follow the follwing link http://www.aczoom.com/itrans/the most standard package used for indian langauge is well documented thereits called ITRANS - Indian Language Transliteration Package THIS IS THE MOST COMPLETE PACKAGE FOR REPRESENTATATION OF INDIAN LANGAUGESused by sites in indian govt sanskrit docs site etc...u can either instaall a sanskrit/or any other language package in LaTex from there or u can use the online interface on the above mentioned link HTHregsAshu

14:36 Avan said...

Methinks...Premalatha and Anonymous (...the RI from Usilmpatti...who Ithink is RaajK from the NRI post) are at it again. "At least rest ofIndia is not as confused as these NRIs"...dude get a life. If you wantto rant about how you are more Indian being in India...start your ownblog. You missed the whole experience of Neha's kadai (your kadhai andPremalatha's kathai) by getting stuck on that word. Learn to lookbeyond spellings...at words, and if your intellect permits, at theexpressions that the words convey. Neha, its best to ignore someonewhose sole objective is argument not reasoning. Beatiful imagery...

22:23 Passerby said...

Neha...Beautiful post. agree with Avan above...half the comments seem out of place...but cant help this one: Premalatha,people dont "loose" a debate...they "lose" it. Ref. "Honestly everydebate you ("you" is "general", rather than pointed at any person)loose, you gain,...). So much for leaving words in their original"provounciation".. whatever that means!

22:43 Raajk said...

adappaavidei Avan, Whoever are you, how come you drag my name" becos I arguedwith neha on NRI's" MY GOODNESS. This is GROSS. I never indulge inpersonal attacks. I talk about ideas only.Neha, believe me, sathyamaa adhu naan illeenga. IT's NOT MEEEE. Oh, WTF.

07:41 Raajk said...

Anon, Please identify yourself and save my name. Please.

07:48 neha vish said...

LOL!

09:11 Premalatha said...

Hi Avan and Passerby,Thanks.Typo mistakes. I pity at your pathetic status of mind.

09:53 Premalatha said...

btw,I will not read anything further here. so, if you want me know whateryou are going to say about me, mail me at premalatha_balan at yahoo dotco dot uk.

09:59 neha vish said...

Passerby: Not fair. We all write in a hurry. God knows I end up making a thousand typos in a post.Ashu: Thanks for the itrans link. RaajK: The LOL! was for you.Premalatha: See. Humour comes in many forms. Some things hit us harder. which is what I was trying to communicate

10:26 Passerby said...

Premalatha,How come you didnt see the funny side of my comment! God... talk aboutpitying my pathetic "status" of mind...I assume you meant "state" ofmind. I wont comment anymore and I wont mail you either (Sulk sulk).....

16:19 Premalatha said...

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16:39 Ramesh said...

Twothings. Firstly, the post is superb. You evoke a lot through your useof imagery. There is geometry, and kiteflying! You seem to have drankDelhi through and through.Secondly. I am a Tam. Spent just fouryears in the North studying. Kadai is a very acceptable way to indicatestory. I don't see what the fuss is all about. My guess is people arejust trying to get on your nerves. (Good Literature does that.)

22:46 Saad said...

Very nice piece on Delhi. I think you'll really like the Ruins of india group on Flickr. Also, dont forget the Delhi group.

18:16

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