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...