Skip to main content

Incredible Wonderland

“Have I gone mad?” Alice wonders in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.  And the answer she gets is: “I’m afraid so; but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”  If she were not mad, she wouldn’t have travelled in Wonderland, in the first place.  That’s another argument Alice gets in the classical novel.

The world of literature is a world of madness.  A world of dreams, let us make it more acceptable.  All good literature is the author’s way of dealing with the demons within him/her.  Imagine Shakespeare were alive today’s India.  How would he dramatise what is happening in the country?  One young man who fought for getting certain benefits for his caste or community was thrown in prison labelled as “antinational”.  Another young man who rather unimaginatively questioned the hanging of a person whose crime was not proved conclusively even by the Supreme Court’s own implicit admission is now facing the charge of sedition.  It is happening in a country which is boasting of one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world though more than half of its population live in slums and quasi-slums unable to eat proper food, let alone get education or healthcare.  Would these poor people become antinational if they start demanding certain basic human rights?  How would Shakespeare dramatise the conflict?

Where will the lawyers who let loose physical assault on those whom they condemned as guilty without waiting for the trial and judgement and then went on to cock a snook at the Supreme Court itself be in Shakespeare’s moral vision?  On the side of the hero or that of the villain?

Who will be sane in the contemporary Shakespearean drama?  Will it be comedy or tragedy?  Or simply a dark play as complex as our ancient Mahabharata itself?

I’m reminded of a classical joke from Albert Camus, one of my all-time favourites.  A mad man is sitting near a bath tub in a lunatic asylum.  He has a fishing rod complete with the hook and the line and he is trying to catch fish from the tub.  The psychiatrist, happy to see his patient looking so calm, asks him, “Hey, Fred, got any fish?”  Fred, the mad man, looks at the psychiatrist contemptuously and asks, “Are you mad?  This is only a bathtub.”

I think Shakespeare would find ample such scenes in contemporary India.  Who is a patriot here and who is antinational?  Who is a statesman (if there’s any) and who is a criminal?  Who is sane and who is mad?

Alice wants to leave the wonderland.  “Which is the way?” she enquires. 

“Where do you want to go?”  The King asks her.

“Back among my people.  The normal world, you know.”

The King stared at her.  Then he summoned his knights.  “Arrest her for sedition.”


  1. Hi, if I read correctly between the lines... its about your questions to the present state of nation,right?

    1. You did read it correctly - between the lines is the only way to read it :)

  2. In ancient India people used to give lot of value to Tarka or debate. With intellectual sterility being promoted and celebrated over generations,progressively dumbing down the nation, debate is a tough task. Fistfights are easier. God save us!

  3. This is the sad truth today. Fantasies and wonderlands are more appealing than reality. There's madness everywhere and you get to hear a dozen weird things thrown at us from the so called 'politics' everyday!!

    Alice should totally be arrested. It's far better than going back to the normal world!
    Stiletto Maniac

    1. Alices are being arrested, aren't they? And that too with a serious charge of sedition! We have become a weird nation.

  4. Incredible wonderland indeed our nation is becoming!

    1. Please read the following link for further proof:


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Advani and Modi

Cartoon from Deepika This morning's Malayalam newspaper, Deepika, delighted readers with the above cartoon on the front page. Modi is portrayed as Bhima in quest of the Sougandhika flower.  He encounters Hanuman on the way and is unable to meet the challenge posed by Hanuman.  Finally Bhima will understand the real power of his interceptor and seek his blessings. Fabulous cartoon, I mused.  It depicts the present situation tersely.  And there's a deep irony too in it. Neither Modi nor Advani is worthy of any comparison with the epic characters.  Both have acted from selfish motives thus far and continue to do so. But the nature of the Kurukshetra has changed too today.  Today our heroes are no better than these characters.   

The Ugly Duckling

Source: Acting Company A. A. Milne’s one-act play, The Ugly Duckling , acquired a classical status because of the hearty humour used to present a profound theme. The King and the Queen are worried because their daughter Camilla is too ugly to get a suitor. In spite of all the devious strategies employed by the King and his Chancellor, the princess remained unmarried. Camilla was blessed with a unique beauty by her two godmothers but no one could see any beauty in her physical appearance. She has an exquisitely beautiful character. What use is character? The King asks. The play is an answer to that question. Character plays the most crucial role in our moral science books and traditional rhetoric, religious scriptures and homilies. When it comes to practical life, we look for other things such as wealth, social rank, physical looks, and so on. As the King says in this play, “If a girl is beautiful, it is easy to assume that she has, tucked away inside her, an equally beauti

Reading Comprehension for Senior Students

 Let me present the reading comprehension test I gave to my 12th graders recently.  1.        Read the passage and answer the questions that follow .                      1x10 = 10 1.     On 1 Oct, India launched 5G services. It was a low-key affair even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was launching it. Natural, perhaps, since it came after 70-odd countries had deployed it in close to 2000 cities since 2019 when South Korea kicked off the new era of connectivity. 2.     Attempts to get 5G going in India have been botched by muddled policies. The biggest bottleneck was the high reserve prices for airwave sales. The 700-megahertz band, which is needed for 5G technology, was priced so high that it did not receive any bids in the March auction and even in the recent auction, only one company, market leader Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, has been able to cough up the asking price despite a scaling down of rates by the government. Telecom companies are bleeding after the cutthroat tar

To a friend

Vincent van Gogh - self-portrait of a man who suffered much This post is dedicated to a person who was very dear to me for quite some time. We were good friends. But certain situations affected that friendship adversely. Years later, he contacted me recently. There is a lot of frustration, anger, sadness and rebellion in his psyche, as I sense it. Dear Friend, Your present situation grieves me as much as it worries me. I knew you as a benevolent individual who went out of his way to help friends. I received much help from you for many years. You were an inspiration for me in more ways than you might have ever imagined. What happened to our friendship was inevitable to some extent because I was passing through a painful phase of personality deterioration and your efforts to assist turned out to be counterproductive. It was not your fault at all. You meant well, I know. I knew it at that time too but my psychological condition made it impossible for me to continue our friendship. I n