National Gallery of Modern Art-Jaipur House, Delhi
“There were worse husbands”
Grace, James Joyce
* * *
Around the time of our Republic day (India) we spent some time reviewing works discussed in our Reading Group.
Our walking-reading book club spends many lovely hours in Abositta Ferasiya. The memoirs of the former Bishop of Scotland- Richard Holloway “Leaving Alexandria” tells his journey and how he became a bishop whom he would have hated when he was twenty years younger.
” There has been a terrible beating up of some Indian camp workers.
What do you make of it?”
We will discuss when we meet, I replied.
“There were worse husbands”
Grace, James Joyce
The story of the drunken fall of Tom Kernan in a bar, his rescue by his friend Mr.Power, bringing Kernan back to his wife- an active practical women of middle age and the subsequent planned retreat in Grace by James Joyce formed the back drop of our discussions this Republic Day.
In previous years, we have discussed around our Republic Day –the Prophet and the Proletariat and the attitude towards women in Islamic society, and Ronald Barthes famous essay on Chaplin Man. Chaplin man is fascinating due to the possibilities he represents. He is still out of the consciousness of the Revolution. Still tied down to bread-winning rather than being a conscious party worker.
Around our Independence day-2013 we went through some major works of fiction which have helped shape Indian identity over the past 65 years-through Partition, Corrupt layers, Emergency, Diaspora experiences.
(the links of these blogs are posted below for interested readers)
“Have a friend with whom you can discuss things,” one veteran, an Anatomy teacher had given this sage advice many years ago. “Life can be very lonely in a foreign country,” he said, gifting me a book from his collection.
Deepak Chopra’s “Seven Steps of God” made me take a journey into knowing the different phases of intelligence. We will discuss the concept of “Devata” as told in Hindu civilization in coming blogs.
The story “Grace” by Joyce starts with a drunken fall. Three friends plan to salvage the life of their friend through a religious retreat. The Protestant origins of Kernan, the Catholic retreat, make an interesting discourse. Where is the Grace in this story? It is definitely not in the drunken fall. Nor is it in the domestic quarrels alluded to by Joyce. Was it in the way the priest was trying to market his sect of belief? Or was it in the sharing of friends.
Kernan, he said, we worship at different altars, he said, but our belief is the same.
On reading the story one finds the grace in the camaraderie of friends.
Grace catches nuances of urban life. These are relevant in any modern city. Life looked back through the lens of experience. The different shades of faith and practice.
As we had arrived a bit early, we sat on the corner facing the Mediterranean and revised Joyce’s story “Grace”. Mr.Suresh, an old-timer at the embassy, originally from Najafgarh area of Outer Delhi was guiding the guests to the hall. He speaks Hindi in an accent which reminds one of route 578 from Safdarjung to Najafgarh, an intimate memory.
The Chaplin-Man, still outside the revolution, tied down in the daily struggles of bread-winning got beaten up in the camp on the outskirts of Tripoli. The positive aspect was that there was some type of security force available after around two hours. They surrounded the camp and brought an end to the incident.
For those interested-also see blog-Notes from an Indian Camp-
The story of the once-Protestant Kernan and his jibes at Catholicism and the comment- We all worship at different altars ..but our belief is the same reminded one of the many debates between socialists of different hues back home in India.
Mumbai, the home to the oldest working class in India, has socialists of many callings and there is a tendency of each group to try and present themselves as the true bearers.
A democrat from UK wished us Happy National day and started talking about “New Libya”.
We heard him out. The code was Silence. However, one of us could not resist asking him his opinion about the recent statements of the Grand Mufti.
It was an interesting evening. ..I became the Bishop I would have hated 20 years ago…The words of Richard Holloway came back to us in many ways.
Other related blogs
On our Republic Day
On our Independence Day-2013
ORIENTALISM -PARTITION NOVELS
DIASPORA AND ASSIMILATION
WHY READ FANON
Around May Day
MUTUAL IMPROVEMENT SOCIETIES
LANGUAGES AND VOICES
HOW I REACHED HERE-MUSINGS IN A LIBYAN CAMP