Saturday, December 24, 2005

And a year shall pass...

Her eyes hid behind a wall of tears when he said what he did, and he saw her heart beat with every shimmer of that film. And with each quiver of the watery veil, he felt a harpoon cleave his heart over and over... but each smidgen of his palpitating heart was either coloured red with his love for her or white with his earnest will to know the depth of their love; and the slivers of white were speckled with human sanguineness and the reds with divine brushes of pure white.
"Does it have to be this way?"
He looked away and spoke to the setting sun, for no human face could help him hold what his being wished to outpour.
"This is how it is meant to be."
"One year? One whole year?"
"If our love is true, it can bear any temporal shudder."
"But what will come of this?"
"I do not know."
"Will you miss me? Will you think of me?"
"I can't do otherwise."
She drew in a deep breath with the hope of taking all of his scent, all of him into her palpitating being and holding it within; a breath that should hold her up for a year.
"Then a year shall pass, dearest."
And she walked away, and it seemed that he followed her too, while standing on the cliff watching the sun set. Neither sun nor she turned back to look at him...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A year rolled by...

I was a very reluctant writer then. I never understood why I should publish my writings in a public forum, or anywhere. Like most of my indulgence in most art forms, I considered writing to be an expression which I would like to share only with people I knew. And then, where is the ink and paper? I had created and destroyed about 5 blogs/online-journals and then on the 25th of Dec. 2004 I created another one. I chose the URL Under the reins of an unknown conspiracy, the URL turned out to be available. There has never been a site where my first choice of username (while signing on) was accepted. I raised an eyebrow at the screen and wondered why was I being invited so eagerly. Why were the doors of blogging being thrown open so widely? I still do not know the entire purport of that day's sequence of events and screens...

I wrote my first post with nearly no hope of ever finding a reader for this blog. Come on, think about it. Several thousands of blogs with wonderful content and then mine, with its own genre... what were my chances? I figured none. And I didn't believe in asking people to come over to read my blog. My first post actually reflected that mindset; I even disabled comments on it!! :-D
My first commenter and friend on this blog is Meera. An amazing writer and a very good friend! :-) Thereafter, I assumed it would only be her comments that I would receive. Time proved me wrong again.

My take on writing is similar to my take on any expressed form of art: It is not done by the person. I do not believe that art can belong to a person. A writer but holds the pen and lets it move of its own will. A song is best when it leaves the sweet tip of a singer's tongue. Dance is best when the person is forgotten. A painting is beautiful when the image picks her own palette. This blog, as I have often held, is not mine. It contains several pieces of written work but that is it...

What I never expected to happen (due to this blog) were the wonderful relationships that I have made/found. I wouldn't like to name them as I value their privacy. This blog has given me some of the finest, deepest, truest relationships that I could have ever imagined. Thank you!

In short, in one year (which is really not that short) this blog has given me a lot more than I could have ever asked for. I would like to celebrate this day on the 24th of Dec. 2005 (16:00 hrs on till it still appears sensible to be there!). I would be more than happy to have you around, so feel free to drop by and we could get to chat and talk about all the fantastic things in this world (beverages and "solids" on me). I thought that the Cafe Coffee Day in Ispahani Centre (Nungambakkam, opposite Landmark) would be just right. 25th also happens to be the day when one of my schools (Vidya Mandir, Mylapore) celebrate their Golden Jubilee. A weekend of celebrating, indeed. :-)

I take this opportunity to thank all of you who have shared this one year (to varying extents and varying impacts) with me. It wouldn't have been so enjoyable without you. I mean it.

I would like to share with you a few of my posts which interested many people and/or interested me and/or are special to me for a personal reason. Each link opens in a new page.

First Post

I learnt how to insert an image

The first full-fledged poem on this blog

First post after my dear friend changed the look of this blog to what it is now...

New blog created

What is poetry?... To me!

At a bus-stop in Bombay

Something I strongly believe in...

My first post with double digit comments! :-)

A post which a lot of people said they liked...

A thought provoking one

Stream of consciousness

Something I still dream of...

This post got a mention on some site...

Eternal experience and 2 dear new friends found

ha ha ha ha ha I enjoyed writing this one!

The time I was on steroids!

An only-pictures post

What I truly felt about the blogging experience

A different kind of post

An interesting poem

The seed for a big step called Alvibest

A crazy post

A special one...

Another thought provoking one

An interesting post and a dear friend found...

A post just one sentence long

Alvibest created!!

Dedicated to the efforts of my mother and the grace of god...

My take on painting and the coloured art

A ghazal translated

A post I liked

Alvibest's first release

A miracle I cherish

For the child in my life...

Another one for the same child

Oh! How I whined!?

Close to my heart

Another post which people said they liked

A post which changed a few people's way of looking at life.

A truly Eroteme post ;-)

A time to celebrate

An interesting tale

A post which took a life of its own...

A Prayer

Friday, December 16, 2005


And today my most favourite month is born. Amongst Tamilians, Marghazi is the month of auspicious activities. It is supposed to be the favourite month of Lord Krishna and his famous devotee Andal. This month bears a lot of beauty and it is the singular set of human activities (driven by the divine will of bliss) that makes this month very special to me. For a billion dollar prize I couldn't get to recite the thiruppaavai and the like.
The beauty of this month (which straddles the Gregorian months of December and January) is best felt in the southern parts of India, more so in Tamil Nadu. To me it was always the crispness of winter that made it a tingling month, but Madras made me see more. I was exposed to the sheer ringing bliss of this month when I was 12 yearsold. We had moved to Madras then and were living in the "old" part of Madras which contains Mylapore, Alwarpet, Abhiramapuram and other localities. From the terrace of our house we could see the Santhome Church to the east, the Kabaleeshwarar temple to the west and the Kutcheri road mosque to the north. My best friend lived to the south of my house! The setting is vital to realise how well trapped I was. There was no escaping this onslaught of tremendous overwhelming other-worldliness.
A typical marghazi day starts at 4:00 hrs. Mom would wake up as stealthily as she could and shake her head when she would see me lift my head from my pillow as soon as her feet touched the floor beside her bed.
"Poi thoongu paa!" (Go sleep, dear)
But I wasn't interested in sleeping. I had 11 months to do that! I would rush to brush my teeth. The world that blanketed my home was still dark, but that was well planned too. Mom would complete her preparations for the day and draw the kolam (and example of that can be found here). I would watch from the stairs. Dad and my sis loved sleeping any time of the year and more so through the chilly mornings of winter! Mom would hum one of the typical songs that are sung during these months. I know the tunes by heart, but can never get the words in my mouth. It was sheer pleasure to watch the white rice-flour design glistening in the light of some distant street-light with all those dots and curves dancing to the humming tunes which filled the darkness... borne by the darkness. I would hug my knees tightly and hope that the beauty was caught as completely as my shin and thigh.
Then mom would return to the prayer room and go about preparing pongal (a rice, legume, pepper, ginger, cashewnut preparation. Not sweet.) and singing the paasuram of the day. She would often sing offbeat (as I later got to know) but it was better than all the correctly sung songs by others. Her hair would still be drying in those thin towels which we called Malayala Thundu (for reasons unknown) and then the incense would be lit. Lamps, music, fresh flowers, incense, birds, slowly increasing glow of the morning... what more could I ask for?
I would then take a walk down the streets which lead to the Kabaleeshwarar temple. All the houses dotting the lane were prepared with rice-flour designs and a quaint decoration of a yellow flower in a small mound of cow-dung (which served as a holder for the flower). A yellow flower rising out of the brownish-olive green mound was very beautiful especially when surrounded by the rice-flour designs. All the houses smelled of warm hearths. Married women with a bright red pottu (mark on the forehead) were so beautiful. I would smile at all of them as I continued my morning trip down an otherwise plain lane.
The music in the temple (Srinivasa Perumaal temple) mingled with the beautifully metered hymns and periodical ringing of brass bells rang sharp in my chest and softened my nerves. There is very little that compares to that feeling. Then I would walk back to my home. What follows is what I loved the most.
The streets bloomed with chirpy young girls fresh out of their blessed ritual of decorating themselves with the bright colours of their paavaadai-dhaavani (also called a half-saree: basically a long flowing skirt, a short blouse and a long stole) and their tresses rising from between long strands of jasmines and roses -- a black that held many braids, flowers and my heart. I walked through the lane which jingled with fresh giggles like the dew that trembles at the tip of a leaf. The rice-flour designs giggled and the rapid run of anklets and fragrance left me walking in an intoxicated dizzy.
I would reach home to find pongal ready. I liked it without any salt in it, the way mom used to make it for Uppiliappan Perumal. The ghee (clarified butter) would glide down the scoop and quench the sizzling thirst of the hot fried cashews. This usually was breakfast too.
What everyone gets to see of Marghazi are the numerous concerts and temple festivals. What endeared me was more than that. This month is for the gods and everything is offered to the gods. People do not buy anything special for themselves nor do they occupy new houses or conduct weddings. This month is dedicated to the sheer bliss of remembering the gods and in the many man-made wonders of realising the beauty that we all think resides only in the Heavens... please do walk into Madras at this time of the year -- it is not often that the heavens descend beneath our feet and fill our being.

Friday, December 09, 2005

It's the memories that keep one alive...

What else do we have? A soft brush of her opisthenar against yours... The shop where you bought your first lunch... The mud path which has now been replaced with a wide two-way road... The priests at the temple nodding their acknowledgement and putting aside a coconut half for you... New employees who stop to say hi... Old peons who give you a quick bow... The stray dog which stops barking and wags his tail hoping you would relive his memories of a morsel that you fed him... memories.... memories... memories! Is that all a soul can have after a three and a half year relationship? Painful memories! Pleasurable memories that hurt by virtue of being mere memories. And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

She is one of the softest women I have known. She is soft in so many ways. In what she says, in how she laughs, in how she relates, in how she says so many things without saying a word. I knew her for 2 years and I really enjoyed her company every minute. We were a default pair. People would ask me her whereabouts and conversely. People would assume that I know why she wasn't in that day. Her husband would call me to tell me if she wasn't coming to work. People would wonder if they saw me having my lunch alone some day. She was a significant reason for my staying on with my job. She was a significant reason for cracking silly jokes. How she would laugh? So softly... so sweetly... and I would want more of it. She never refused me her laughter except when she had an operation in her mouth. I didn't joke that week. I still recall the look on her face when I told her that I had decided to leave... She was aghast and said, "Not fair." We couldn't really get to say bye to each other. Lovers of a different kind... and I am told that such friends do not say bye, not when you know that you aren't going away. On our last lunch together, she laughed a lot and towards the end she looked at me and said, "E, I am laughing on the outside." And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

We built our house with a lot of ideas and plans. Mom wanted her garden where she would plant all kinds of vegetables. I wanted a nice old fashioned Rajasthani interior for the main hall and a large space for a room to create sufficient clutter! We got them all. A house that was always cool even in the height of Hyderabad's heat. A nice sunrise greeted us every morning. Winter mornings greeted us with shlokas from the temple around 5:00 hrs. Our house is a long one with rooms placed along their sides rather than in a square enclosure with corners rubbing shoulders. I realised how big my bath was when it was emptied by the packers. The hall had these corner showcases with large Kerala lamps which were never lit. Glass shelves which let light pass through and flowers and vines which seemed to outgrow their synthetic origins and take a life of their own... much like the house did. Before I left the place, I walked down the length of the house and shrugged my shoulders as I entered every room. I didn't know what to say to the wardrobe doors which stayed ajar. I didn't know what to say to the space which once held my computer. I didn't know what to say to the corner which fought with all my books. I just waved out to them and quickly turned around to check that no one saw me do that. I walked past the main wash-basin and ran my hand under the tap which refused to stop dripping that day. A brief pause to the note of water falling in a ceramic basin... a sniff... and the dripping continued. I stepped out of the house and walked on, not wanting to look back lest I have to answer my door's: When will you return? I didn't know what to say. And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

There was so much created. It was in its startup mode and I had had a free hand. People had come down from all over the world to create the office. I was one of the first employees here in India. I was allowed to do anything I felt right for the company. People trusted me. People encouraged me. People joined in. People were hired. People connected. People resonated with the spirit. People laughed together. People frowned at the new joinees who brought in a different flavour. People soon let them in and created a new flavour. The recognition was intoxicating. The accolades mounted. Even the dull greys and yellows seemed good enough. And then things changed... I couldn't stop it. As I descended 5 floors I saw what had happened in 2 years and how much I had lost myself in it. When I got into my car to go back home on the last day, few friends waved out; the building seemed to sway or was it something in my eyes? And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

"E, I feel like Chinese today. Where do you recommend I go? I want something tangy out there."
"E, I really have to impress her. I have no clue what she likes. Yeah she likes that... hmmm that too. Kinda... how do you know? Ok. So where should I take her? What should I order?"
"Parents are coming down today. Pure veg place. Any good ideas?"
Fusion 9, Koyla, Eat Street, Urban Tadka, Utsav, Tex-Mex, Ohris, Mainland China, Golden Dragon, Taj Krishna, Touch, Gokul, ... name it.
I drove past all the hotels and restaurants that I had frequented. Few days before I visited some of them for the last time and the waiters came over to say bye and the manager of one even gave me contacts in restaurants in Madras. I seem to have lost my appetite of late... And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

Hyderabad gave me a lot, like a true lover. I never asked her for anything. I never expected that she would give me something different, something new, something that I would love. And she gave me all. Great friends. Great experiences. Warmth. Love. Laughter. And I still couldn't ask her for anything. But I left her. Walked away without turning back even once. Walked away when she promised me a cool winter where she would let me cuddle under a thick quilt. She raised a lot of traffic hoping to buy time. She was warm that night and then cold. Understandably. And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

Its not that the heart is hard, my friends. The heart is soft, my dear, fairly soft. It is only a softened heart that can contain the tears -- tears that threaten to betray the truth.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

And I roam thus...

It's been a hard couple of weeks that separate my posts. Lots of work and lots of planning and lots of time spent realising that no amount of planning will help you remember to pack your toothbrush... you just have to remember it. In order to re-establish the validity of my earlier post, Providence has moved me out of my current place of physical residence into a city I never thought I liked. It was a tough time packing and planning and moving. Mom did a lot of the work (more about her later) while I managed the high-level details (yeah right!). I have been traveling like a mad man in a period of 5-7 days!!

I am undecided about whether I should be happy or sad or indifferent about what has happened. I am not too attached with Hyderabad, so I am not sure whether I miss her. I am not too fond of Madras so I am not sure whether I should jump in joy. I didn't like the fat man on the train, so I am not sure whether I can still hold traveling by train as a nice experience!

I am glad that I get to be with my best pal but I miss the people of Hydi. I am glad that I am far away from the hard-water of Hydi but I miss the winters there. I am glad to be here before Marghayyi/~zhi starts, but I also get the rest of the year to live here and that appears scary!!

So many pairs of yanking opposites and contrary impulses... That's life here, folks!
Will be back with more later...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Understanding "A Prayer"

Rarely, if ever, would a writer explain the forces behind his work. Rarer still are those times when the forces are unknown. So be it with the earlier post, titled "A Prayer". A dear friend asked me what inspired my idle hands and idler mind, to pen such a prayer. I started out telling her that the inspiration was absent and went on to explain the inspiration!! :-o

A dear blogger, brought out the connection between the picture and the prayer. I am glad that I fail hard at being perenially abstruse! :-)

I am told it is dangerous to lay bare the mechanics of the writer's mind. I understand some of the causes of such fear, but I feel that people, and at a much later date, I, would benefit from such an exploration into the innards. Those who aren't interested or wish to leave it as something "intangible" or "magical" would do well to realise that such an exploration doesn't do away with the spirit and purpose of the Muse or the Charites. It doesn't strive at disrespecting their role or present to the reader a mechanical way of creating something which, based on the comments, is considered profound.

When I started writing the prayer, there wasn't anything on my mind beyond the idea of an ironic prayer. While writing it I could only see Albrecht Durer's "Study of Hands" in my mind. The fable surrounding the Hands is considered a fiction and the records show a less romantic version behind the making of those hands. But, once the Hands stayed in my mind, thereafter, the words sprang from those very beautiful hands... To answer a blogger's query: The post is as much mine as the sweet scented air belongs to a garden.

While I was convincing my friend and myself, that there wasn't any inspiration, I realised that there really wasn't. Undertones and floaters in the mind do not count as inspiration although they might feed the mind long enough to have many uninspired pieces. Thus, it was with the post titled, "A Prayer".

I had heard several prayers (in various languages) where the suppliant entreats his God as if he was not quite in the wrong. Often the devotee feels that all the fault is in the world around him. Often the prayer is to change the world, while the individual does little towards it. There are other kinds of people of course. People pray out of fear or with the hope of reward and other such contrived reasons, but the core is still puny and imploding.

In such a thought was I caught when I looked at my life one day (nearly every one day that dawned) and looked at all my wonderful constructed ideas and theories, and I realised that they are brilliant on paper; living them needs a lot of guts and conviction in their truth. So where was I? What is life? What is one doing? Is one being, in the least, honest to oneself? Where, from here?

These and many other undercurrents of past incidents and constantly recurring thoughts braided themselves into a post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Prayer

In a world which wants,
Wants success over bliss,
Wants money over satiation,
Wants love over caring
And possession over love,
Wants food for a stuffed belly,
Wants someone else to feed the sunken gut,
Wants innocence because its cute
But finds it stupid in oneself,
Wants to be revered,
But knows nothing about respect,
Wants freedom
Even at the cost of lives,
Wants prosperity
Especially more than their neighbours,
Wants everyone else to pay for their crime,
Wants forgiveness for what they did,
Wants a God
Better than yours,
Wants adherence to customs
Even in the lapse of humanity,
Wants the least blame unto themselves
But all the curses unto a sinner,
Wants the finest jewels for the naked breast
Which hides the most squalid heart;
From this world of hatred
And constrained love,
From this world of friendship
Living in the fear of societal approval,
From this world of status devoid of benevolence,
Deliver me!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Zen Koan

It was the weight of his reputation that carried him so lightly that he forgot to press his gratitude on the earth. His saffron was sparkling clean and many disciples followed as well as walked ahead of him ensuring that no pebble trip his confident gait. He held his gaze straight ahead and refused to turn his attention towards any of those who sought his blessing and grace; sometimes to gather sufficient protection for a new born and sometimes as a semblance of divine approval.
The stretch was long and the sun was harsh. Some disciples carried the head monk and some fanned him. Some kept a flask of the freshest water for him while a few wondered how the sun could be so disrespectful.
The glow from under the tree was unusual and caught even the strict attention of the head monk.
"What lies under the tree?"
"Let me go check out, master. If it is dangerous, then let it harm me rather than your exalted being", cried a disciple.
The head monk gave him half a nod.
Off ran the disciple and reached the tree. He returned in a few moments.
"Master, it is a mad man who holds a flame in his hand. He doesn't deserve your grace. Shall we proceed on our way?"
The head monk kept looking at the blaze under the tree and asked his disciples to lead him there. When he reached the tree he saw a young man in tattered garb seated quietly under the tree with a wild fire hissing and crackling on his palm.
"Who are you? Why do you carry a flame on your palm?"
"My name is Kasei and I love this flame on my hand."
"You are verily a fool who doesn't realise that it will take but a few blinks of an eye before that fire will consume you."
The mad man smiled.
The head monk ordered his disciples to take him away from the spot. Later in the evening when the troupe was returning to the monastery, the head monk was curious about the fate of the mad man and decided to pay him a visit.
He spotted the blaze, now wilder. They reached the spot to watch the madman burning in that fire, with an arm outstretched.
The head monk shook his head and covered his mouth.
"See? Didn't I tell you that it will consume you?"
"It's a pity you will never know the delight in being consumed."
The head monk stepped down from his car and bowed low.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The colour of the wind...

Adrian Torney. That's what people called him when he stood silhouetted against the sanguine streaks and gashes of the setting sky. He never knew the sun, but he knew the sky. And against this incarnadine canvas he stood like a crucifix - leptodactylous hands spread out and a smile on his face. From such a world he had to be extracted with the words "Adrian Torney".

He tried to catch the silk of noisy evening sea breeze between his thumb and ring finger. He smiled as it escaped once more. What was it like? He laughed as it pushed his long hair into his mouth. He blew it back into the face of the breeze and they played a game of reversed tug-o-war. The sky warmed his frivolous mouth and he drank in the warmth and felt it spread down his throat and out of it into his arms and mid-riff. It pushed against his skin as the breeze pushed it back in. And suddenly he wasn't there... a vortex of parry and thrust between breeze and warmth and joy and excitement... He felt his hair stand on end and the breeze tickled itself against the soft down of his arms. And he laughed. And it laughed. And the warm laughter in him rang out. He tried to catch it again. This time it let him hold on for a little while longer before it slipped out.
What was it like?
The memory of a butterfly wing against his cheek?
Still waters gurgling against his finger tips?
Palpable song of the lark?
Like petrichor?
Or was it more like how Jasmine asked, "Will you wait for me?"

"Adrian Torney!"
He laughed as the breeze hid behind his arms and peeped at the plump, stern lady rolling down the lawn to where he stood.
"Ms. Winslower. Do join me in my merriment! Shall I assure them that you are a friend?"
"You mock at me, Adrian. There isn't anyone around."
"Tell me, Ms. Winslower, what colour is it today?"
She rolled her eyes and replied, "Why do you play such games with me?"
"I am told white is peaceful and pure and ever absorbing... Is today white?" and before she could reply, he continued, "And I am told that pink is given to wanton abandon... much like Jasmine... so is today white with a generous helping of pink?"
"Jasmine? You still think of her? You do know Adrian..."
"That she is the help's daughter, and it doesn't befit the master's son to mollycoddle the help's daughter."
"Urmmm... yes" though she had no idea what mollycoddle was.
"Ms. Winslower you are so much of this world."
"Your mother would disapprove of such conduct!"
"My mother has a longer list of things she disapproves of than she would nod her head to. Why she doesn't like you wearing your hair loose in the house."
"And I do it up in a bun now."
"Well, your hair is up for the highest bidder."
Silence lay between them like night does between day and the nightingale's early morning song.
"I am sorry. I didn't..."
"It is fine for you to say that Master Torney" she said in a voice which revealed the tone of arrived humiliation.
"I miss the smell of your hair perfume, Ms. Winslower."
"Everyone has to do something which we don't like in a life we try to like."
"Jasmine? No, Ms. Winslower, let's spare her. Now, let us drop this matter and tell me the colour of today. Please Erica!"
"Adrian, the colour is mostly orange and red, and then there is a touch..."
"You are so much of this world, Ms. Winslower. It must be white and pink and some ruddy shouts and purple punches."
"Hmmm. I think you are right. It does seem to be those colours. Now can we get back in before you catch a chill?"
"I think we can, once I kiss the world."
Ms. Winslower laughed a little and said, "You really aren't made for this world, Adrian."
"And you are definitely of this world."
He shut his eyes and let the wind and the dying warmth play with him, before he stepped down from the rock and trudged towards Erica.
"Urmmm... You forgot your cane, Adrian."
Adrian stopped in his tracks and stared vacantly through her.
"Thank you, I would need it in this world, at least till I return to mine."
And as they walked slowly towards the mansion the breeze skipped and danced to the taps of his cane ahead.
"Will you wait for me?"
"Did you hear that Erica?" Adrian shouted and spun around and around trying to find something he held deep in his heart.
"Hear what, Adrian? Just the breeze..."
Adrian smiled and ran his hand through the trustworthy red and guiding white of his cane.
"You surely are of this world."

A reader might be interested in this earlier post which contains surplus typos!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A fantastic Magazine

The Hindu presents the Magazine on every Sunday. Some article are interesting and some are plain boring to me. Today's magazine was very interesting. I happened to read it just now and found a few articles to be noteworthy:

Perils of Comparison
The Art of the Matter and
Swiss Bliss in Zermatt

The first article discusses a matter raised in the recent issue of Alvibest. The 2nd article talks about an effort similar to that mentioned in an earlier post of mine and is related to a conversation I had with a blogger today!! The last article is beautiful in itself. Would love to visit that place. An article in an earlier issue of the Magazine might be of interest to those who read AgniBharathi's piece in the current issue of Alvibest. Suddenly, a lot of things get braided together!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blogger the game-master

There is something interesting in those word verification ... well, words. I just filled in a "ubsjwi" and now I see a "ihxkt". There is a good game in there.... Try forming sentences out of these. Maybe Blogger is trying to give us story ideas...

ubsjwi: Ursula's Busy Since James Walked In.
ihxkt: (this is a toughie) I hate eX-king Tut.

Try it out! :-D

Morning Raga

The beauty of Life is not in what we plan for, but in what we get...

Morning Raga wasn't recommended to me by anyone and I had caught a trailer on TV one desultory evening. It showed Perizad and Prakash Rao happily riding a bicycle amongst rural cyclists carrying several hands of bananas. The photography was noteworthy and I stopped to hear "Marugalera" in the background. Ummm-hmmmm. That is interesting. Modern movie featuring carnatic music without an antebellum storyline? This snared my attention like very few movies can ever do.
It's been several months since the movie was released. I haven't watched it. A friend of mine wanted to watch it and I might buy the DVD/VCD for her sake. But I love the songs in the movie and I cannot but help to get excited the minute they start playing. Two of my all time favourites are Thaaye Yashoda and Maatey (you can listen to them on this page).

Thaaye Yashoda was composed by one of my favourite composers, Oothukaadu Venkatasubbiyer. He is one of the lesser recognised amongst Carnatic (Bhakti) composers (unlike Thiagaraja or Dikshitar). There is so much love in the lyrics that I find it difficult not to let myself get carried away when he describes the various antics of Sri Krishna. Some of the finest poetry has been composed in describing the playful young Krishna as well as the romantic Krishna (well, poets don't seem to have been interested in his ever famous Gitopadesha!). Sudha Ragunathan has rendered this song very skillfully and the music is simply brilliant. I love the capriccio of violins at the outset of the song. She completes her swarams and the violins start out with gusto. When the string piece reaches its fervid heights, Sudha starts out singing Thaaye Yashoda very beautifully. The introduction of English lyrics (as a translation of "undan paiyannai pOlavE inda vayyagattil oru piLLai ammamma nAn kaNDadillai" which means "I haven't seen any other child in this entire world, like your (Yashoda's) son Krishna") can be ignored as they do not add much appeal. The song is not sung in its entirety but it is remarkably beautiful. Most of the song is filled with swaras and I find that so enrapturing.

Maatey composed by Muttayyah Bhagavathar, is most sweetly presented, again, by Sudha Ragunathan. The song starts in an alapana (I suppose that is what it is called. Corrections welcome) which is very sweet and makes one relax and cosily fit into a cushiony seat. A smile spreads as she continues with a "Maatey, Malayadvaja ...". The subtle elongation she introduces to the word "Maatey", is remarkable and its effect cannot go unnoticed. It feels like when one dearly implores the attention of the Goddess. Beautiful. I love the swaras that have been introduced in between (I spent a good 2 hours trying to figure them out) and the laughter of young girls in the background is like the fall of silver pebbles on a crystal floor. This song as such would be the perfect background score for a Bharatanatyam performance.

I would recommend the songs of this movie at least for the sake of these 2 songs. Do find time to listen to them...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oooooooooooooooh Weeeeeeeeeh!

Finally, the 2nd issue of Alvibest is out. Phew! I would like to thank all my friends who tolerated the nuisance I had become over the past few weeks! :-) I sure need a break and I am off to go and hide somewhere! Anyone ready to house a quintal of tired mass? :-|

(Cover page of current issue is included in this post after obtaining permission from Alvibest's Editorial Board)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thank you...

It's been a while since I wrote a post and I was too tire to do so. I have been wanting to write a couple of posts, which I will over time, but I wanted to use this space to thank the people in my life.

Firstly, I would like to thank those of you who wrote in asking me whether things were ok. Very sweet of you. Thank you. My cousin wrote in too and asked me whether I was doing a Sylvia Plath by writing such deeply dark posts. A comment enquired about the same. I really never thought about it. I went back to the blog and saw that a few posts in sequence, did sound melancholic. I shall call it coincidence. Another friend wrote to me saying that "You have been awfully cheerful since the release of Alvibest (1st issue)." This is so like in life when one person says "Shut up E, you talk too much" and another person says, "E? I have hardly heard him talk." Well, I am touched to find a few people who cared enough to ask. I was actually in high spirits during those days and even remember writing one of the "dark" pieces while on the phone with someone, busy teasing her. My writing (as of today) is not related to the state of my mind.

A recent post of mine had a double impact. A friend confided in me that it helped her revisit her life and set things in order. Now she tells me that she gets sufficient time to take care of herself as well as what really matters to her. I am glad that a post had such a good effect. The second impact was on me! For a variety of personal reasons I was caught up in a flood (figuratively) and lost track of calendar dates. A very dear friend got engaged on the 24th of Oct. Actually 2 friends got engaged separately on the same date and in the same city. One of them is a childhood friend. After she returned, she came to me on the 27th and asked me "Do you remember something?" and I replied, "What?".
"My engagement?"
"Yeah! It's on the 24th. Why?"
"What's the date today?"
And then I smacked my forehead. I had lost track of everything in those 10 days. I called up my dear friend to apologise to her and she was very kind to forgive me instantaneously. Really an angel. Though my state wasn't the same as being busy (I still had time for those who wanted it), I had lost track of things that matter which is akin to what people, who say they are busy, do. I really thank all those who cursed me after reading that post with a "Wait till you get busy and then let's hear what you have to say." I spent some time tracking back to the point when I lost my bearings. I am sorry. There are periods when we do get caught up in some things and do not spend time with other things not because they aren't important.

The past few weeks have given me some more reasons to be grateful to the world. I won't go into them.

Happy Diwali to all of you. Hope all of you had a swell time and I wish you the best in the coming year...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ta-da, ta-da, ta-da :-)

And the next issue of Alvibest is warming up to be served with your beverages and biscuits one fine morning in the 1st week of November (and its nice that a week, nowadays, has 20 days ;-)

Some excerpts (and more shall arrive later) have been put up on Alvibest's official blog
Subscribers have been notified and some addresses have turned out to be invalid. We would request all those subscribers who haven't received a mail from the Editor to provide a valid email address to

Looking forward to an interesting issue... :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


They stared at him as he walked towards the private ward with a familiar mantelpiece clock in his hands. Her mother rose to her feet and shook her head as she held back tears behind a strained and convoluted visage. He kept walking towards them.
"Vijay, don't go in there. You know..."
He knocked on the door and walked in. She was lying there on the bed with the only coloured garment on her body being the bandages around her wrist. She seemed to be sleeping but he wasn't sure. She was often lost to this world while her eyes watched nothing and was in its midst with them shut. He placed the clock on the metal trolley and the slight clanging of metal against metal and the pendulum against the inner walls, bounced off all the hard surfaces,which now seemed to include her heart, in the room. She slowly opened her eyes and saw him. He gave her a brief smile before turning to key the clock. She pursed her lips and let it stretch into the most helpless smile she could ever conjure. He checked his watch and moved the hands on the clock. 5 minutes to 12.
He sat down beside her and breathed in deeply before letting his reluctant eyes slide down her arm. He had coined the word Marblesque for her skin.... and now it was stained, and so was her skin. He shuddered visibly before reaching out to touch her scars. Before he could touch them she let out an "Aaaaaah" and he recoiled, only to find her laughing softly before crystallising them into coughs and spasms. When he shot up to get her water,
she shook her head vigorously throwing coughs on either side.
"Why the clock, Vijay? You want to show me some new act in your play?"
He shook his head and said, "I can't write plays till you are back on stage."
Her face darkened under the clouds of untold memories, looming and rolling all around her, threatening to strike with the searing white streaks of passion best forgotten and drummed to the deafening beats of soft whispers that faceless mouths shout down hesitant, defeated hearts.
"Vijay, I cannot return to the stage. Never..."
And as the clock went BING---BANG for each hour that had passed, the conversed without moving their lips...
Why? ............................................................... Love
Why this? ............................................................... Hurts less
Than what? ............................................................... Life without him
But Life... ............................................................... Is him
Life is more ............................................................... Painful without him
Why hurt yourself? ............................................................... I can't feel it
Not worth it ............................................................... Nothing is
Living is ............................................................... Not anymore
People are ............................................................... Not anymore
Family is ............................................................... Not anymore
He isn't ............................................................... Always will be
Why? ............................................................... Love

tick-tock... tick-tock... tick-tock... tick-tock

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Journey Begins...

He thought it would be an ordinary journey. Standing behind the pillar he watched the train snort arrogantly into the station. With each snort he was reminded of his grandfather's words "You will fail in the city and return penniless"; with every heavenward whistle, he heard his cousin, "Don't worry. Come here and I will get you a job at the construction site." Now he had a 34-hour journey to prove one of them wrong, and he expected the excitement at the end of the journey. He looked at his ticket once again: compartment S9 berth 23.
(Everything below the dashed line above should be copied and pasted with every accepted tag)

This is a Story Tree and is best nurtured as follows:
1. A blogger can add only 90-100 words (not more or less) at a time
2. All previous snippets of 90-100 words need to be copied before the new set of 90-100 words are appended.
3. Each entire snippet should be linked to the respective author (and not just the first sentence or so)
4. Characters, scenes, etc. can be introduced by an author
5. Bizarre twists, sci-fi, fantasy sequences are best avoided.
6. A tag must be accepted within 7 days else the branch is a dead branch
7. After appending 90-100, the Story Tree can be passed on to at most 3 bloggers.
8. If more than 1 branch leads to a blogger, s/he is free to choose any one of them but cannot mix the snippets of the individual branches.
9. The Story Tree is best left to grow than concluded
10. Please attach the image of the Story Tree below with each accepted tag (the link address can be copied and used).


I would like to pass on the Story Tree to Meera, Anupama and Prabha.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Now they tell me....

Ever since kids made me realise it, I have been saying this for years and now they come up with this piece of information.
If you really want to learn something vital, go back to the early days!! :-D
Or better still spend a good amount of time with kids. They have so much to teach us... so much!

A verse: Lost and found

Another day of cleaning gave me a sly sheet of paper slipping out of my notebook. In the bottom right corner of the sheet I found this:

As unfortunate as it may seem,
As unfortunate as it may be.
I think of days of yester,
Of days with you and me.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why doubt?

               Why do we
doubt so much? So much
that what remains of a relationship
is nothing more than discordant threads
of suspicion and remote possibilities heard
or read in a book. Of people with many hidden
motives, shrewd designs and cunning wants.
But is that it? Is the world full of
only cunning motives and devious
people? Is every strange
smile on the road, every
purposeless act of reaching
out to someone, filled with
ulterior motives? If I wish
to help someone, must I have
something to want in return
of that service? Is it silly
to do something without much
to want in return? Is it so
that flirting is the only
reason for a girl to say
"Hi" to a guy or smile at
him? Or for a guy to call
upon a plan of a
casual meeting with
a girl? Whatever
happened to
Is it a
Or is
it now

to be innocent?
To reach out

Thursday, October 06, 2005


It is amazing how one can be so busy. No really. I have the great privilege of knowing so many busy people. They are always in a hurry, always rushing towards something, always working, always achieving, always running, always seeking, always faced with deadlines and rush hour traffic.... and I wonder whether I am doing something wrong. Whether I am the one who is doing something funny and missing the bigger picture, and I really ought to be busy when I am not. One tends to feel like one is talking to the passengers in a speeding train rushing through the station.

How long does it take to reply to an email?
How long does it take to stop by someone's desk and ask about their root canal surgery?
How long does it take to simply call someone and ask whether the honeymoon was great? (and then embarrass them with a hundred questions ;-)
How long does it take to call home and ask your family whether they had lunch/dinner?
How long does it take to make all that money again?
How long does it take to help your wife/mom clean after meals?
How long does it take to smile when you pass by?

I really don't know. It amazes me to watch people rushing through life and then complain that the end is too near. It is sad to watch people buy gifts and stuff but hardly have time to watch their loved ones wear/use those gifts. It makes me draw a deep breath when people talk such great things like empathy and compassion and all that bull-crap, but hardly seem to live it.
Things are invented to take the stress off people remembering things. Automated e-greetings, birthday reminders, alerts, Outlook scheduler... and we don't have time. I really think I am stupid. If everyone around me is so busy, then I am definitely stupid not to be busy, even when I am truly busy. Well, my busy-ness is surely my business... :-)
And you know what really gets me? When people around me try to convince me about how they are really packed and how that deadline is so vital and how pushing an elephant through the needle's eye is easier than squeezing an extra minute.
I wish someone would simply bend over and turn off the machine... a large scale power failure, a kid playing Lego in the middle of the road, a puppy sitting right in your line of view of the TV, credit cards not working, all business deals charged doubly to the parties who get it (now lets see who wants to clinch that one!), a straight 50 no-petrol days.... Hmmm. :-|

I am reminded of this song called Vienna...

Slow down you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart tell me why
You are still so afraid?

Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You got so much to do and only
so many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you

Slow down you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight
Too bad but it's the life you lead
You're so ahead of yourself
That you forfeit what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong
But you know you can't always see when you're right

You got your passion you got your pride
But don't you know only fools are satisfied?
Dream on but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you

Slow down you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook
And disappear for a while
It's alright you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize...
Vienna waits for you.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A little Urdu poetry...

This was a post I had put up a long time ago. Suddenly its relevance struck me and I decided to post it afresh. I am still looking for the rest of the ghazal! This is the problem with writing on grocery bills and Pizza Hut paper napkins!! :-(
Autumn was recently in the discussion I had with a friend, and love is always in the air!! ;-)

Yoon hi hasta rahta hoon,
Is dard ki koi dava na mili.
Fitrat ko pat-jhar jaise,
Dil ko woh aashiqui mili.

I laugh away my days, now,
No salve to assuage the pain.
Like Nature begot Autumn,
This heart bore a lover's name.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Madman

He was running wildly and faster than the Ram's dog. The dog gave up after some time. He tripped over the milkman's cycle and limped for a while giving the dog some hope, but Raghav picked up his pace and ran.
"She wrote to me! She wrote to me!", he shrieked in an abrading voice.
"What's this new madness?" asked Shalini raising her head from her evening sweeping chores.
"The same thing, I think. But why is he running? He usually stays put outside the post office, right?" asked her neighbour.
Raghav kept running oblivious to his undone dhoti wafting towards his past which barked, albeit unheard, at him.
"So that girl finally wrote to him!", Rajayya said, while cleaning his blades for the next hirsute customer, and shook his now balding head with a smile.
"Who did?" asked the well lathered face sitting beside him.
Rajayya turned to look at the fleeting feet chasing the virgin letter which the related hand held.
"Someone he loves", he said and turned to continue the story, for a story eases the most disgusting task of shaving a pimpled face, but his voice was drowned in the sharp screeching hoot of an approaching train. He instinctively turned around and cut his thumb.
The village madman ran no more...

My Princess

It has been but few weeks since she last visited me. This is uncommon; her visits were well spaced and well timed to raise least suspicion. I would rather she stay with me, but he would have issues with that. I don't know why she should follow his word so dearly. She is an independent soul too. But this visit makes me wonder. I hope all is well, and then again, maybe it is not. Now is my chance to replant myself in her life. How she neglected my worth, how I felt useless like a tree after spring!
I always wanted her to be happy, but not always. A little trouble was the only way she would come back to me, back to the one man who truly knows her, who truly loves her. I still don't know what she saw in him; she said he was like me. Hah! I am not so unctuous. But I am glad that something is troubling her now. I can pull her towards...
"Who's it?"
"Its me, Angie!"
He rushed to open the door.
"Sweetheart, I am so happy to see you. Been quite a while."
They kissed as dearly as a soul split by time and space.
"How are you? Hmmm. Something tells me things aren't right? What happened? He's bothering you?"
"Relax, nothing of that stuff. I just wanted to come over and surprise you."
"Surprise me? With what? Why?"
She looked at him with all the love she held for him and shook her head. With a deep sigh she said, "Happy birthday dad!"

Saturday, September 24, 2005


This post owes its existence to Janani.
I am required to compose a Love Story (ewww) in 55 words. 55 words? :-o When have you ever seen me write a short post and 55 words is not short, its ephemeral!! I read her tag last night and thought why not!! ;-) Here goes:

"Love? You can't be serious. I am a happy man. Love is not for people who are happy"
Aaah, she thought, just the right sport. Charm, seduce, lead, discard.
Aaah, he thought, baited milady. Now all I need is to keep her intrigued and on her toes.
Love followed them everyday for 50 more years.

He wasn't religious till now, ever since the priest assured him about reincarnation. It can't be true, he thought, God! it can't be true.
"Please pour the ashes into the water", the priest said.
That means my father can return? No. I will do all that you want me to, dear God.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tagged... Untagged -1

Seven things you plan to do before you die

1. Live

2. Settle in Italy/Japan

3. Win an Oscar

4. Build a school

5. Build an artist's centre

6. Build a personal library with a study attached (yeah yeah yeah, fireplace and the works too )

7. Stop planning

Seven things you can do (I dont get this)

1. Live

2. Settle in Italy/Japan

3. Win an Oscar

4. Build a school

5. Build an artist's centre

6. Build a personal library with a study attached

7. Write

Seven things you say most

1. Yeah right!

2. Okeee

3. Lunchtime

4. Crystal

5. Perfect

6. What the hell is this?

7. Your belfry ain't for bats!! Think man, think.

Seven things you can't do

1. Fit into a keyhole (any size key)

2. Yawn and sing at the same time

3. Break a kid's heart

4. Figure what the hell is the big deal with falling in love

5. Leave dog ears in a book (leave them on the dog!)

6. Wear my trouser using one hand while typing with the other and doing a Polka while singing Yankee Doodle!! (I got till the part with the Polka, but the zipper was stuck)

7. Eat a fish that just burped!

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex (I suppose these have to be stuff that you can put up on a blog!)

1. Beautiful eyes

2. Simplicity

3. Intelligence

4. Grace

5. Poise

6. A wonderful sense of humour

7. A love for the arts

(Anyone who checked all of the above, please leave your name and contact number!! ;-)

Seven celebrity crushes (Not good at this one... Let's try)

1. Natalie Portman

2. Rachel Weisz

3. Padmini

4. Saira Banu (before she got all drunk and crazy)

5. Ashley Judd

6. Diane Kruger

7. Zhang Ziyi

Now I need to tag someone... Drat!

Prabha, Krish, Renuka, Amrita and Nurhan. Go for it guys!! :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Though travels
take me to
a different stopping place each night
the dream I dream is always
that same one of home
- Ryokan

Let the smallest lust for fame and fortune enter the mind,
and all the waters of the ocean will not wash it away.
- Ryokan

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The GEFS Game

I was recently reminded of the possibility of instant karma in which I don't believe, although I would wonder how to wriggle my way out of questioning the instant-ness of insights of Karmic nature! More recent than that incident was a simple reflection upon the most destructive elements of the human mind and life. After due pondering I realised that the following are by far most destructive to nurture a free and happy mind and life. I shant go to explaining them, as that would be wasted effort.

1. Guilt
2. Ego
3. Fear
4. Security

Writing them on a card, I placed it in front of me and let life run though my mind as I knew it. At random points I stopped the spinwheel of the cinema reel and asked myself, "So what made me do that?" or "Why did I think/react thus?" I am glad to note that the card was soon covered with tick marks!! :-)
I thought you might be interested in a similar game.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Anthropomorphic Numbers

Its been a while, I told myself, so long that I have forgotten her number. Damn, you don't forget numbers.
21st May 1990 -- First time I met her
13th Sept 1991 -- First time I spoke to her. I had told her "Shut up"
5th April 1992 -- She came back for summer as a very different girl
15th May 1993 -- She skipped her lunch in order to play a game of carrom with me
20th June 1993 -- She came with me to the temple
2nd July 1993 -- First time I didn't want to hear her say bye
13th April 1994 -- I spotted her getting out of the taxi and ran down
17th April 1994 -- She let me put my head on her lap. So soft a thigh...

25th April 1994 -- All that she wants from my trip is for me to return safely
29th June 1994 -- I make my first promise to her. Promised to wait for her return the next year
15th April 1995 -- Held hands for the first time only for 10 seconds or so... her mom was around
27th June 1995 -- I tell her I love her; she simply smiles...
29th June 1995 -- I tell her I am moving to another city. She tells me she loves me...
17th Sept 1995 -- I get her first letter
23rd Dec 1996 -- We decide to get married
17th Sept. 1998 -- We realise we cannot get married right away
4th June 2001 -- First time I kissed her; we both goofed up!
7th Sept 2004 -- She decides to forget about this
8th Sept 2004 -- I tell her I can't, she tells me she can't too...
5th Aug 2005 -- It was her birthday

I remember all of this... and today I don't remember her mobile number? Damn. What has changed? Don't I ... damn no! How could you forget it, and she is getting married tomorrow... I should start writing down numbers. Never thought that they would let me down... You can't love simply anymore.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I am in a rush, so please don't expect a long post (the kinds you simply love ;-)
I think we should consider donating something to the Katrina victims. Gosh! I loved New Orleans without ever being there. I used to tell myself, "If a city could produce such brilliant stuff (and I was talking about Jazz) then this city must be really fine." Well... Its in a bad shape now. Problem with countries with such an exchange rate is that a contribution of sizeable portion in our own country might not be/seem significant on the scene. Still, I think its worth giving it a shot. I gave what I could to Oxfam and am in the process of making my contribution to Brett Lott (Editor of Southern Review). I received a mail from AGNI with the following letter from Brett.

September 10, 2005

To the Community of Writers, Readers, Teachers, Students, Editors and Anyone Else Within the Sound of This Email--

Bret Lott here, editor of The Southern Review on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am writing to you and to everyone you can forward this email to with an opportunity to help victims of the hurricane. Forgive this rather long email, but it is important to the welfare of many hurricane evacuees in our area -- please read this all the way through.

No doubt you know the sorrow and hardship that has been visited on residents of our state because of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding caused by the breach of the levee in New Orleans. No doubt you know as well of the thousands of displaced persons who have lost everything because of the evacuation of that city.

As a result of so many New Orleans area universities and colleges closing down for who knows how long, LSU has taken on almost 2800 new students who were displaced by losing their homes and their schools; in addition, many students who were already enrolled at LSU have also suffered great losses.
These students have experienced hardships that few of us will ever know: they have lost their homes, their personal belongings, their books, their food -- everything, including, for many, the college or university at which they were enrolled. To help meet their needs -- and these are IMMEDIATE and GENUINE needs -- the LSU Foundation has set up Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

Strangely and beautifully and sadly enough, the latest issue of The Southern Review -- mailed to subscribers just week before last, right as the hurricane was making way for the Gulf Coast -- has turned out to be a very special issue for the artwork on the cover and that featured inside.
The artist, Billy Solitario, lives near GULFPORT (and I trust you have seen the pictures of the devastation there); as of this writing, we have not been able to contact him. The paintings themselves are of the Gulf Coast -- one of them is even titled "Spiral Cloud over Levee," another one titled "Storm Over the Mississippi"; still others in the portfolio are of barrier islands on the Gulf Coast -- places that don't even exist anymore. The artwork was selected about a year ago, and the synchronicity of this is a little too much to think about -- the issue, which went out just two weeks ago, celebrates a coastland that is, suddenly, gone. Also, and again the synchronicity of this is too much to behold, the lead poems in this issue are by Peter Cooley, poet at now-closed Tulane University; we have heard that he is safe in Houston at the time of this writing.

Here is where the community of folks to whom this email is addressed can help (and please read the following instructions CAREFULLY as they are being written this way so as to allow all of us to help each other legally!).







Please note that these two actions -- your donation, our sending you a free copy -- are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE (does anyone out there recognize yet the legal hoops I am having to jump through in order simply to help students in dire need of help? Sheesh!). Please note as well that it just so happens that the cover price for an issue of The Southern Review is $8 (eight dollars), BUT YOU ARE FREE TO DONATE AS MUCH AS YOU WISH.

Order as many as you want -- use them as gifts with the good knowledge that because of your generosity help is going to students in need; use them in your classes as a means to help your students rally to the aid of their comrades here at LSU; give them to anyone and everyone you know. And please forward this email to as many people as you know so that they might also be able to contribute to a worthy fund, and to enjoy the issue itself.


I know that to many out there this may sound like some sort of mercenary effort to advertise our journal and somehow to make money through the loss of others. Indeed, we will in fact be losing money in all this.

But you have my word -- Bret Lott -- that we will in no way profit from these mutually exclusive actions.

I know the outpouring will be a great one, and please know that we here at The Southern Review are prepared to handle the deluge of good will you are already sending our way. Thank you for reading all the way through this email, and thank you as well for what you have already done for the hurricane relief efforts.

Sincerely, and with thanks to all --

Bret Lott
Editor and Director
The Southern Review

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lift Karaadey!!

I hate the algorithm for the lift in our office complex. It is the most stupid thing. Whoever designed should be kicked out of the business of transporting people -- think what s/he would do with our already brilliant trains!! You can wait for your train on Platform 6 while it arrives on Platform 3 which is located before Platform 1. And to make your day creamy, the train doesn't stop at Platform 3, 1, 6 or for the matter at any place you like or expect. I suppose that is why they have a complete concrete contraption to stop the train at the destination!! Oh! well, it would stop at the smelliest of canals, though, button pressed or not!! But I divert, our elevators are simply the most stupidly designed tin boxes. I shall list my pain points systematically (trust a freaked out commuter to be systematic):

1. Shut up: I hate that woman's voice which goes on announcing the floor where the lift stops or fails to! She is so annoying. She wouldn't even shut up if I told her "Yeah, yeah! I know. We are now on the 5th floor!". She just goes on "This is the 5th floor." And she never gets a sore throat too!! We really do not have the choice of what we want to hear. Wherever we go, we are forced to listen to things, even in a tin box and then they look at me with wide eyes when I say I have voices in my head!!

2. Button up: The .... what do you call them? ... keys? buttons? Well, those slightly depressing (physically and not psychologically!! Guys, get over being the understanding humans!) circular metal discs (which disc isn't circular, goofy!?) that we shall call buttons are stupid. You can't press more than 3 of them. Well you can press all of them if you are looney enough after your performance appraisal day, but don't... not here, in the hell of failed elevators. Press more than 3 buttons and they all glow yellow (yuck, yellow. Sick button with an excess bile secretion!!) and as soon as the elevator moves an inch, they all turn off. So where are we going, guys??!! Heaven knows!! Actually I am glad that they have a roof to this building, else, heaven will know.

3. Damn! Button up: The buttons on the wall (beside the elevator and not the cute red ones near the axe and fire hose!!) are equally crazy. You can press them with all your might and you can still watch those dreary metal doors close on the guys inside. Absolute no consideration. What do they want me to do? Tickle those doors into opening up? Geez! Well, I even tried that! :-D Doesn't work. If you have long nails you could get them trapped and then you would only be able to count as multiples of 9 or 8. The bright side is bit manipulation in C is no longer a mystery for you (ensure you lose only 2 fingers!). There is always bright side to the silliest things in the world. All those bright sides make the dullest dodecahedron!

4. Stop, Stop! I, not you go up: Whatever. I had to get something with an up because that the closest I get to feeling upbeat about this damned contraption!! The tin cube doesn't stop. Stupid box rattles past my floor in either direction. I even tried hiding behind a well built woman from my floor but the damn lift still seems to know its me! Newspapers and plants don't help. While we are on that subject, do not hide behind plants which are nose high. Dumb beetles consider your nose to be the natural point of progression!! Blowing them away doesn't help, because they sway back, and now more passionately to your lips!! Chomp, chomp... weyuck!!
If I am on the 4th floor and want to go down, the idle chamber on the 5th floor wouldn't budge (yeah, yeah, its been a tough day for that box!!) but the one which is in the basement (-1 level) decides to save your trouble of walking down 5 flights of stairs. And then, no... it decides to go to the 7th floor and gets itself loaded. It starts descending and you console yourself "Come on, it had to go pick up those guys first. They must have been waiting long." But by Jove!! the tin box passes you by. Why? Maybe some genius pressed too many buttons and the poor tin box got confused and decided to let gravity decide. Or a few well fed specimens of our specie decided to pile into the tin box and it decided to not have any more of people!! BTW, that is digital embarrassment. You could feel happy that morn that you have lost 2.78 kilos and then you try to get into a well packed sardine case which moves around vertically, and a digital voice goes off with an irritating beep "Please step out! Maximum capacity has exceeded" Trust those stupid pot bellied software engineers to paste a smug grin on their bitmap faces with the unsaid words "Its you, the voice called heavy, not us!! We are basically Helium balloons."
The algo is simply outrageously stupid. If I am going down, it makes sense to get an elevator from a floor above (easier, less power consumption, well, we are traveling in the same direction, goof ball!!) than get a box from the underworld! But no, a master lift-God decides to get one that is resting in the nether world and then ... maybe not.... lets get you that one which is scratching its back against the roof.... and then again, maybe it won't match your shirt.... so let's open the doors of the one which is standing idle on your floor!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargggggggggghh!!

5 Fed up: People have to eat in the elevators and leave evidence of a fine meal. What's it like?
"See? I had low fat milk coffee. Here are a few drops to make you feel bad that you didn't get any."
"Well, I don't drink coffee."
"Sour grapes"
"Yeah, I noticed them on that corner of the lift."

Basically I have had enough of them. But till I get to buy backpack rockets, I think I will have to stick to them. Stairs? :-O You're kidding right?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Little things which fly past...

Recently I read this post on my friend's blog. She has a wonderful eye for detail and well... ahem.. other things ;-) It was a very interesting post and took me back to my days when I used to cycle past Universal Bakery (Luz Church Road) with a load of paper boys going about their morning chores. She ended the post with a very smiling statement:

Calvin was right - there is treasure everywhere!

Recently I caught on camera the play of an innocent soul. There is some construction activity going on beside our house and while the men and women were busy doing the important stuff, this girl decided to add her touch to the whole affair. I was so touched to watch this that I had to capture it on camera and share it with you guys too. The girl happened to notice me come out of my house and she shied away. She kept smiling at me but stopped doing what she was. Then I hid behind my door till she was convinced I was gone and she resumed her "work". That was when I caught her. After the scene was shot she looked up and smiled so sweetly. Now she makes it a point to stop by everyday and give me a wonderfully sweet smile...

Friday, September 02, 2005

You may have it... but no!

E: Its not mine, you see.
S: What do you mean?
E: Well, I kinda wrote it, but it is not exactly mine. As in... I can't own it. Its not me, not mine.
S: Then you should be fine with my taking it away from you and taking credit for it.
E: Well, it doesn't belong to me because it belongs to nobody. It can't be yours.
S: Why not? You still wish to own it, right?
E: Its not like that. Hmmm. Let me try it this way. Its like first publishing rights, or at least what I understand about it. I can put it up first but it doesn't belong to me.
S: Huh?
E: See, its like the wind and the clouds. They don't belong to anyone and hence they cannot belong to you! The breeze is not for you to own nor is it mine although I might have turned on the fan...

(a monologue-dialogue on a quiet Friday night)

A creative noble cause

I am sure that her blog doesn't need my advertisement, but its a small way in which I could say "I appreciate what you do". Do take time to visit The ProjectWhy Competition and do participate. Contribute nevertheless...

Saturday, August 27, 2005


If serendipity were a charity organisation, I would bequeath my entire property to it!! :-D

I was running between psychological states like one does between signal lights in a busy city roadway and it was threatening to consume me in a way life does death (no typo). I was busy mentoring people in my organisation and without and it was getting very troubling to watch so many people frustrated with life. Like most human emotions, this rubbed on and a few things ensured that the pseudo-frustration stayed on for a while. With no one around to tackle it with me (or for me) it kept getting worse like a festering wound. After spending sufficient time in meditation (which is not conducted under some fashionable tree with me under it wearing a top-knot and yellow robes! Why yellow? Yuck!) I came out of it but the coals of discontent were smouldering with an ash-cloaked redness. The night gave me a good sleep with interesting dreams (in technicolour) and I woke up to be reminded of my earlier confusion and unrest. I sat back to wonder whether such dissatisfaction ever had a way out (btw, this post and the previous aren't even remotely related. Again serendipity). Is there a solution? I had a few emails come in from people I knew (and didn't) asking me to help them with planning their career move or their domestic problems. Feels nice to be of use, but what remains is the question: Will we always be dissatisfied about something or the other? Is this inevitable?
Today I was surfing for some stuff (no, not THAT) and saw an icon on my desktop. It was a tree (something that Windows supplies) and it was for launching JK's Book of Life. You could download the source from Sourceforge. It generates a snippet of JK's views on a daily basis. I had a book for this earlier but hardly read it. This was something nifty and I had installed it, but, again, rarely launched it.
I told myself: Let's see what JK has to say today. And here is what I found:

What is it that we are discontented with? Surely with what is. The what is may be the social order, the what is may be the relationship, the what is may be what we are, the thing we are essentially- which is, the ugly, the wandering thoughts, the ambitions, the frustrations, the innumerable fears; that is what we are. In going away from that, we think we shall find an answer to our discontent. So we are always seeking a way, a means to change the what is- that is what our mind is concerned with. If I am discontent and if I want to find a way, the means to contentment, my mind is occupied with the means, the way and the practicing of the way in order to arrive at contentment. So I am no longer concerned with discontent, with the embers, the flame that is burning, which we call discontent. We do not find out what is behind that discontent. We are only concerned with going away from that flame, from that burning anxiety. This is enormously difficult because our mind is never satisfied, never content in the examination of what is. It always wants to transform what is into something else- which is the process of condemnation, justification or comparison. If you observe your own mind you will see that when it comes face to face with what is, then it condemns, then it compares it with "what it should be," or it justifies it and so on, and thereby pushes away what is, setting aside the thing which is causing the disturbance, the pain, the anxiety.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Multiple lives...

There is a life we lead and then there is the life we dream of leading; of hilltops and lakes and affluence and birdsongs and a sunrise to hug and a moon to kiss you to sleep of peace that sings in your heart while you bring peace to a dear soul by singing.

Is happiness, then, watching these lives merge and become one or is happiness in dreaming a livable life?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Kids... so adorable

This was the cutest thing I caught on camera. This little kid was trying to open this heavy door and wasn't able to do. She somehow managed to open it a bit and then this man walked through it, so she had to let go and move fast enough to get through. She let go and the door swiveled back and she caught it and was pulled along (notice her feet sliding)!! :-))
They sure are the sweetest specie created by god!!

Then I asked her, "Sweetie, do you want me to open the door for you?"
She gave one look at the door and then at me and nodded her head.
Once I opened it wide enough for a dozen people (no point making them feel small and puny) she entered the cafe and turned around, gave me a toothy grin and said, "Thank you uncle!" with her head tilting to the right as if trying to press the words down and compacting them for me to carry in my pocket... or my heart!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Of miracles and confusion...

Well, I am back from my vacation which only vacated my hope of having a good vacation. Apart from a few incidents I really don't seem to have enjoyed this one. My mom thinks I can never be satisfied. My friends in Bombay think I was very happy and satisfied and I think that I shouldn't be thinking now...

I decided to get some things straightened up, like my room (which is a perennial activity. I wonder who keeps dirtying it! ;-) and my mails and you know... the usual stuff. I realised that I wanted my littlish, longish, smallish book on Mutual Funds. I love reading it once in a while and then doing nothing with my money! As an aside, MFs aren't that bad or scary as I thought them to be. I was always afraid of money and speculation, but I soon realised that they aren't half as evil as I thought them to be. Anyway, I got to searching it here and there and nearly everywhere... which I suppose you know to be everywhere!!

A few months ago I had purchased a Louis Armstrong (no, not related to the guy who went to moon!! Jeeesus!) collection on CD. I love his works. So I came home, and before you lose track of time, it was nearly 4-5 months ago, so feel a little younger when you imagine this piece. So where were we? Yup, 4-5 months ago I bought this CD of some of his love songs and played it on my system (its a 5 CD changer and this detail is relevant). We sat to eat some samosas and I was enjoying Jazz forcing myself to get into a dreamy state which is supposed to accompany all Jazz performances!! After a few songs I decided to go do some reading and my sis said, like a true patron of art, "If you aren't listening to that then please turn it off." I turned it off and went about my work. After a day or two I wanted to listen to it and didn't find it any of the CD chambers (I searched all 5. See? The number is relevant). And like any mature grown-up who has lost his dear possession I shrieked and brought the roof down!
My sis has this trait of coming to my place and ensuring that something goes amiss. I don't know where my walkman is, nor my alarm clock nor my camera. So many things. I am not accusing her of anything, but simply making a point that things vanish when she appears!! :-))
So she decided to search for it and she looked everywhere, which by now you know to be everywhere! and she couldn't find it!!!
After a few days I realised that my Tibetan music CD (for Tai-Chi) was missing. I looked at my sis through squinted eyes and she unpacked everything to prove that she hadn't taken it. We searched everywhere, say it with me, EVERYWHERE, but didn't find that one too. Unfortunately, I hadn't backed up either of those CDs. :-(
This was spooky. How could a CD vanish from a music system? The maid servant didn't know how to operate it. So, who was making them go?
After 3-5 months I still look at Louis Armstrong holding a microphone stand but singing nothing. Why? BECAUSE THE CD IS MISSING... :-(
So, yesterday I was searching for my littlish, longish, smallish book on Mutual Funds and by jove! under a pile of very important papers (which I have hardly read) was my Tibetan music CD. I hadn't written anything on it so I wasn't sure whether it was that or was it some software CD in the wrong case. I rushed to my system and decided to load it in chamber 1 (I prefer progressing numerically). Out came a chamber with some CD in it. I noticed that it was some old CD and pushed the chamber back in. The CD tray got stuck and didn't allow me to open other chambers. I slowly reopened the 1st chamber and then pulled out the stuck CD. Then I decided to open each chamber and check if any other CD was stuck. 2 nothing. 3 nothing. 4 nothing. 5 wait wait wait. What is this????
Say it with me guys: LOUIS ARMSTRONG IN FLESH AND BLOOD (well, not really)
After 5 months I found both my CDs while searching a book on Mutual Funds. They sure are a profitable thing to pursue!!
I called my sister to tell her that I found the CDs. She was happy and lovingly asked me to find a nice spot and kick myself in the rear! And I told her that the irony was that I was searching for something else.
"Naah. Nothing. Just a book."
"Which one?"
"That littlish, longish, smallish book on Mutual Funds. Must be here somewhere."
"Oh! That one. I have it with me."