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  • Writer's pictureKuzhali Manickavel

These Are The Daves I Know I Know- Rakesh Khanna

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Today’s Dave is Rakesh Khanna, the lone male and the lone Rakesh in the Blaft Publications trinity. I asked him to send picture for blog post and this is what he sent. It is an eyefoot.

It reminded me of some art I had done myself, which I call The Happy Dolphin.

But let us get back to the eyefoot.

If you are a good person, you will think that little anklet thing is a little anklet thing representative and celebratory of Indian ethnicity and culture. If you are not a good person, you will think it is a kind of footcuff made of string and used in extremely soft forms of bondage. The eye looks a lot like the eye found in drawings of murderous gigantic squid, like it’s saying ‘You want to start something, son? You want a piece of me, motherfucker? You want some Milk Bikis?’ Ok maybe the eye wouldn’t ask if you wanted Milk Bikis. If it did though, I’d say no because I remember that Biscuit Gang that haunted Indian trains many years ago. Don’t Take Milk Bikis From Eyes! What is a Biki? Anyway, the eyefoot is Rakesh Khanna who is Dave. And this is the interview.

km- So I know for a fact that at one point you were totally into Nigerian movies and editing math text books at the same time. Now watch how I connect this with your strange reading habits. Ready? Ok, here goes. Because you watched Nigerian movies and edited math text books at the same time, I am curious to know what attracts you to writing that might be called left-of-center, stuff people don’t always hear about or dismiss as being too something or another. You are one of the very few people I know who actually seeks out/reads non-mainstream stuff. What do you look for when you look for something to read or will you read anything?

rk- I think I’m just the sort of person who gets a really big kick out of saying “Oooh! Look at this cool weird shiny thing I found!” If you only go to see the highest-grossing movies, and you only listen to music that gets a lot of radio play, and you only read books that have won the Booker prize or something, then you are basically killing your chances of ever getting to excitedly tell all your friends about a brand new discovery.

On the other hand, if the only movies you watch are ones that do really badly at the box office, and the only books you read are ones that get bad reviews or whatever, then you’re going to end up watching and reading a lot of lousy crap. A good way around this problem is to find things that are very popular in cultures that are really different than yours. Like, say, Nollywood movies. Nobody in India or in the U.S. knows about them. But they’re massively popular in Nigeria, so you can safely bet that there’s some good stuff there worth checking out while you’re cleaning up a mess of multistep trigonometry solutions where the authors have incorrectly used significant figures and ended up with massive rounding errors.

(km- ‘A good way around this problem is to find things that are very popular in cultures that are really different than yours.’ word that.)

km- One of your posts on the blaft blog was about weird English writing on children’s clothing. What are some of the things that have struck you about English in India, in the literature and how it is used on things like clothing, song lyrics, etc?

rk- Actually I kind of want to skip this one because I’ve started to worry that we’re obsessing a little too much about the English language on each others’ blogs. I wouldn’t mind talking about it so much if it wasn’t called “English” — it seems like we’re talking about England, and we’re not. (km- word that too. And yes, this is so not about England.)

km- Five of the strangest books/short stories you’ve read. Go.

* “Or All the Seas with Oysters” by Avram Davidson.

* “Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron” by Daniel Clowes, and pretty much everything else from Eightball comics. There was a short piece about a furry rodent-thing and some ear buds that kind of won for weird.

* Liner Notes for Composition 165 (for 18 instruments) by Anthony Braxton.

* “The Epileptic Bicycle” by Edward Gorey.

(km- niiiiice title)

* “Ghost of Hoppers” by Jaime Hernandez. Grown-up Margarita Luisa Perlita Chascarillo is hands-down the hottest illustrated woman of all time. Like, in every frame. Ok yeah I know the question was about weirdness and not about hot illustrated women but still.

(km- I just realized that I don’t know who the hands-down hottest illustrated man of all time is. I must remedy this immediately.)

I wanted to include a couple of things Blaft has published in the list but then I thought I’d keep ’em separate.

* “Zero Degree” by Charu Nivedita.

* “Some Singular Event” by you.

(km- aw tanks)

km- You guys were at the Frankfurt Book fair a while back. What were some of the things about the book fair that really surprised you?

rk- How big it was. The number of hip Euro book-chicks with hip designer lime green specs and sassy business attitudes. The legions of German manga fans in outrageous homemade costumes.

(km- what’s the difference between lime green and green apple green and green tea green?)

km- What’s with you and poetry?

rk- Not into it. I’ll admit that I have actually liked a poem once in a rare while. I went through an e e cummings phase in high school and “Salamandra” by Octavio Paz is super deadly and Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” is pretty great. Old poetry and epic poetry I’m ok with, Homer and Chaucer and the Icelandic Edda and all that. But most modern English poetry just rubs me the wrong way, all that wasted white space on the page bugs me and whenever I have to sit through readings I get really badly squirmy and uncomfortable.

(km- I’m going to write you a poem using the bad rhyme generator. Here goes.

rakesh khanna does not dig poetry for the living outnumber the dead tonight but that which has the most poetry. Donkeys are always right

I bet this could get published if you sent it to the right place. I bet you it could)

km- One thing we have in common is we have very…oh, what’s the word…‘unconventional’ crushes. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve had an on-again, off-again crush on John Goodman and there was a time when I crushed on Jerry Springer. Now I don’t think your fascination with Chinnaponnu qualifies as an ‘unconventional’ crush because I sort of understand the attraction. But I would like to know what you like about her and how you first heard about her.

rk- I picked up a copy of her album Marikkozhunthe in Landmark several years ago mostly because she looked so hot on the album cover holding that goat in her arms. I was hooked from the first track, which is the super-rocking “Aadukku Thaara Vachcha”, and then there is the slow and heartbreaking “Anbulam Konden Ammavukku Magal Ezhutham Kadidham” later on… that whole album is just so awesome. And then her Sivapaththikaram song was really good, and then there is “Nakku Mukku” of course… I dunno, she’s just great. I really really really hope she comes for Sangamam cuz I missed her last year.

(km- ‘Anbulam Konden Ammavukku Magal Ezhutham Kadidham’, totally agree, great song)

km- I love many, many things about the show Torchwood (yay Ianto Jones!!). Like in one episode, this guy ends up going insane and screaming (like I-think-my-spine-just-decalcified-itself screaming) for 20 hours a day because he looked into the heart of a Dark Star (he had also been sucked into The Rift and been on a burning planet so maybe the whole Dark Star thing was just the last straw). What do you think he saw in the heart of the Dark Star? What would make you go so insane you would scream for 20 hours a day?

rk- Actually I have mostly managed to avoid American TV for many years, except on rare occasions when family members become obsessed with something and start buying DVDs of entire seasons. So I have never seen Torchwood and don’t know really what you’re talking about. There was an old John Carpenter movie they used to play on TV called Dark Star, which was a goofy low-budg comedy about a bunch of guys on an incredibly boring decades-long space journey, and they’ve got an alien pet who’s very obviously made out of a beach ball, and then they’ve got to teach phenomenology to a computerized explosive device that’s gone off its rocker. I enjoyed that movie. Here are a couple of things that would make me go insane and scream for 20 hours a day: Over-exposure to Hotel California by the Eagles or Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams; being forced to eat mayonnaise. (km- Torchwood is British so avoid no longer! According to Wikipedia, which is always completely right and true, “A dark star is a theoretical type of star that may have existed early in the history of the universe before conventional stars were able to form. They would be composed mostly of normal matter, like modern stars, but a high concentration of neutralino dark matter within them would generate heat via annihilation reactions between the dark matter particles.” This dark matter could very well be the songs Hotel California and Summer of 69 played on indefinite loop on a planet where it is always your birthday and everyone is so happy and giving you lots of presents which are bottles and bottles of mayonnaise and your cake is made of mayonnaise and they force you to eat the cake and you’re like NO! but they don’t listen and you get so sick you pass out and when you get up it’s your birthday all over again. Although I kinda like mayonnaise. But I’m with you on the Hotel California and Summer of '69.)


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