Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, or “Pu La” as he is affectionately called, has been a source of entertainment, inspiration, new ideas for as long as I can remember. What I find really special about him is that his humor is a reflection of life. There is no escape into another world, it is humor you can recognize about the world around you. Characters you can visualize, because you have met them in people you know.
Pu La as he is lovingly referred to is also a mirror of society and its failings, without making a paralyzing and depressing monument out of it. He looks at all our follies and calls them out and leads a new way of thinking.
One thing I admire about him is that his view of the world is life affirming. He sees the laugh in everything, without ignoring troubles. He is able to criticize actions without attacking the people committing them, in fact, embracing their being as it is. I see it as one of the purest forms of love for mankind.
Another aspect of him is his keen sense of social dynamics. What is happening in society, and the implications it has. His barbed descriptions of the educational system, irritating behaviors and other less than ideal realities provoke thought.
His humility. The unique ability to be down to earth, honest, respectful without needing to self-endorse. A celebrity who is less like a celebrity and more a personal guide. Very personal, because his words touch deeply, even as we laugh.
His timelessness. There are many who say he was ahead of his time. With due respect to them, he is ahead of our time too. He is the lighthouse of humane civilization we are trying to head toward. [If you are a regular here, you know I am not given to hyperbole]
His birthday today. One of the few people whom I believe in so much, that if I disagreed with something he said, it would call for introspection rather than questioning his credibility.
Wish he were still alive, but he is not. Can’t call him dead, because he isn’t. He lives in me, and in countless fans, not to mention inanimate objects like books and tapes… and pirated torrents on computer hard drives. *cough* What? He would have said it!
On his birthday, what gift could I give him, but the gift of him to myself – reading his books, allowing his thoughts to send out new shoots again and again.
And I am going to try and share this gift with my readers by translating some of his works to English. With his mastery over language, I am under no delusions of being able to offer accurate translations. In his own words, humor and poetry are so enmeshed in their language, that translating cannot convey the original. To use the word he coined for his adaptations of English Classics to Marathi, I am going to attempt a “Bhavanuvad” – a translation of the essence rather than words.
This is strictly about what Pu La means to me. For information about his work, go to his Wikipedia page, and watch a brief section of biography followed by a loooooong list of accomplishments. Or visit the website about him or this blog dedicated to him, to get snowed under by the magnitude of what he was.