Thursday, August 09, 2007

Me, Mint, me and me

This Saturday I happen to have a full-page piece in Mint on the art and practice of oratory in India, as exemplified by two worthy new collections of modern Indian speeches edited by Rudrangshu Mukerjee and Rakesh Batabyal.

So if you happen to be in Bombay or Delhi, you might want to actually buy the paper, not because of any remarkable quality in the work, but because for the first time Mint has requested a picture of my mug to prop up the piece. As I don't have my photo in the newpapers very often, and as I get excited easily, unsurprisingly I got excited about this, as anyone would in my place. And why shouldn't I, after all I've been through? I quickly sent them a photograph from an angle which, if not exactly flattering, at least didn't further damage the case of what Nature had already treated so unkindly, and when earlier this week I happened to pass by the office on my extensive travels around the city (from restaurant to restaurant, bar to bar, popping by sometimes at the place of a friend to eat and drink for free) I thought I'd pop in there too and have a preview of myself on the page.

Imagine my shock then (at least try) when I found that they'd decided to use not my actual photograph - a representation of me at one remove, as indeed all representation is by definition, but you won't get my precise point without this recourse to tautology - but an artist's reconstruction of my photograph, or Chandrahas Choudhury twice removed from himself, and looking mighty upset about it too.

As you already can tell if you've been paying attention, I was not pleased to see this reconstruction. To be fair, it did bear a striking resemblance to me. But the resemblance was not to the me of today, which I might have accepted, but instead to the probable me of ten years from now - old, haggard, wearied by continuous book reviewing on the one hand and by being ignored by pretty girls everywhere on the other and the carping of critics on the third - or have I scrambled my metaphor? This was transparently unfair: let down, and by my very own paper! I protested and protested, and even offered to re-do the page myself on QuarkExpress, but they said it was already closed, and no, I couldn't meet the artist. I had a black coffee, and left in a mood the same colour.

Anyway, as the wise Macbeth truly did say, what's done is done. This post is too, and I'm off now.


Space Bar said...'s Lady Macbeth, actually. 'things without all remedy should be without regard; what's done is done'. Act 3 sc ii.

But how tragic all this is! You should insist on being sketched by some luminary as compensation.

Sundeep said...

The sapient Dandin concurs with the wise Macbeth.

"Thus it is that success glitters like a bubble of water; like a flash of lightning it is born and then destroyed all in an instant. Therefore, we must accept that every venture is entirely in the conrol of destiny….
Reconcile yourself to your destiny. Do not worry, but simply bide your time a while."

With time, who knows? Maybe pretty girls will actually find the artist's representation fetching. Maybe the artist will seek you and beg forgiveness, for he knew he had slipped, but just could not see the justice in your being a man of letters and looks. Maybe you will sprout more hands to count your blessings and/or misfortunes on.

equivocal said...

Aw, suck it up brother. Look on the bright side: at least your soul is still intact, if not your ego ;)

Paresh Palicha said...

CC, I'll surely buy the paper however I can, and get it autographed by you whenever I get an opportunity to meet you. For me how you look doesn't matter, I'm fan of your intellect.

Chandrahas said...

Space Bar - Well spotted! It should have struck me that that remark had a feminine practicality about it, even as ol' Macbeth wrung his hands and moaned to no end whatsoever as I myself ended up doing even if for a matter slightly less serious. The memory has a way of playing tricks, so it is sharp-eyed readers like you who keep a man honest.

Which luminary would agree to sketch me? He or she/ will demand a fee/and I would rather not pay/ If it's not for free/ I'll let it be/ And spend my money another way.

Chandrahas said...

Equivocal - While Space Bar and Sundeep belong to the "What's Done Is Done" point of view, you clearly come from the "Count Your Blessings Even In Misfortune" school. What a wealth of complex philosophical predispositions we have here in India!

You're right, my soul is still intact, at least when spelt that way. The two on my boots are wearing out rapidly, and once they're gone the bodies will too.

And it's strange that you should write about this particular post after your extended maun vrat, for don'twe all know the plot of Macbeth turns upon the equivocations of the witches? It's the reference to the play that must have got you all warmed up. "Fair is foul/ And foul is fair/ Let me post a/ Comment there."

Chandrahas said...

Sundeep - Sapient. Now there's an excellent word I'd forgotten. Thank you as usual for the continued excellence of your comments, which are too few and far between, to continue with monosyllabic words beginning with the letter "f".

I could certainly use an extra hand - it'd come in very useful while playing PlayStation football with my filmmaker friend Rustom Irani or my writer friend Rahul Bhatia. The first always manages to beat me, and while the second is no great shakes I can at least sip my drink (his house is plentifully stocked with excellent spirits) concurrently with playing.

Chandrahas said...

Paresh - It is very generous of you to take that approach, especially in our look-ist world. If only more people did the same.

And once I sign right over my nose, which by all accounts is my weakest feature, even my picture will look better. Great idea! See you Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dear Mr. Choudhury,

Artists are often famous for enhancing the character of what nature may have treated unkindly. And frankly if you look ten years down the line, I assume you will only appear wiser and better and the wisdom shall make the pretty girls buzz like bee’s. May be the artist has a foresight you seem to be lacking; it might help if you remove those recently acquired sunglasses and look deeply. And Ah! For the nose, only had you not dipped it out of curiosity into that cauldron full of narcissism, bits of which still hang on to the tip of your sweet nose and drip occasionally if not often, you would have done just fine. And I must admit you scramble your metaphors better than your eggs!!

The Artist

Nitin said...


And I always thought that the picture on the left sidebar of this blog actually bore a striking resemblence to you (thrice removed) or Macbeth (unremoved) ;-)

But well, you are not taking fame in the right spirit. Being caricatured is a better claim to fame than being merely photographed.

Chandrahas said...

Nitin - There is much wisdom and truth in what you say. I see now I may have interpreted my troubles far too seriously.

After all, when I myself scarcely provide an accurate picture of who I am on this blog - I seem serious, bespectacled, introspective and introverted, reading books upon books while breakfast, lunch, dinner and the world go by - then can I accuse other people of misrepresenting me? The answer is I can't. Having begun that work of mispresentation myself, I must let other people take their turn, and take heart from the fact that any publicity is good publicity.

You are a good influence on my life; there is Pragati in whatever you turn your attention to. Next time I have any problems I shall write direct to you instead of encroaching unnecessarily upon the valuable time of all my other readers, who then feel obliged to leave comments so as to persuade themselves they've not been wasting their time.

And you're right: the picture on the sidebar of this blog does indeed bear a striking resemblance to me thrice removed. Different people remove different things though.