Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Way I'd like to end this year

Where it all ends...

We shall meet again next year, till then, ponder over this:

Beyond the point where the rivers
End and the mountains vanish
You have kept on walking
Originally the treasure lies
Just under one's feet
You made the mistake of thinking
That now you would be able
To retire in peace
Look: in your own hut the
Meditation mat has never been warm.


- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The annual meet

Let's Meet
I didn't do this last year, but I will be celebrating 6 years of blogging with 600 published posts at 6:00 p.m. on the 26th of Dec 2010. I used to celebrate thus except in 2008 and 2009. I hope to get back to what I used to do. Anyone who is in Bangalore and would care to meet, is welcome to drop by at the Cafe Coffee Day on 100 feet Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore at the said hour. Beverages on me!

What the devil!

It will be 6 years since I first wrote on this blog. 600 posts on this blog and still many to come. 6 beautiful, and some original, themes have come up on this blog (God-Devil post, Zen Koans, Translations interwoven with a story, Alvibest, 18 verses and Conscious Living).

6 6 6

That is exactly the devil that is going on here! :-)

This year too I will pick posts that I enjoy reading. I thank you all for stopping by to read.

I take this opportunity to specially thank Parvati-ji for her deep, loving and often insightful comments which many have found better than the posts with which they were associated. Thank you, Parvati-ji. Without waxing gratitude I can safely say that this blog is as much as yours as it might be mine.

I am also grateful to Loveena for her comments whenever she dropped by. She invariably raised some beautiful points.

Though I thank every commenter on this blog for participating in a discussion, I would like to thank a few (in no particular order) :

Meera: for getting me started and participating initially while this blog grew

Uma: Whom I don't know and seem to have lost, but whose comments were always welcome. I hope you return to this blog.

Vaidehi/Pingu: For her sensitivity to the poetry on this blog

Shivani and Manan: Whose depth reflected in the comments s/he made

Agni: For the sheer energy and creativity he brought and for also introducing Parvati-ji to this blog.

Anupama V: Who was very dear and commented sincerely on nearly every post. I seem to have lost her too.

Amrita: Anu's friend and sweet commenter whom I have lost too.

Wookie: Dear dear Wooks. I still remember your Liger post and how we met. Thanks for commenting on this blog.

Renuka: Who has nearly fought with me on this blog but remains a dear friend till today.

Ammani: Who was and still is the super-engine of activity and short stories!

Munmun: For her sweet comments and for what she said to me about her relationship with this blog! :-)

Sookie: For the intelligence she brought to her comments and the wonderful times we had.

JCU/Name of the Rose: For the sheer beauty she was and is. Her mind is one place I would love to invade.

Xena: Who was very dear to me

and recently,

Paramita: For there is something sweet I find in her comments. Thank you.

This doesn't mean that other commenters do not hold a place on this blog. Surely San, Ricercar, DreamVendor, Musings.., Biju, Rangakrishnan, Swarnakrishnan, Sapna, Abhilash Warrier (who embarrassed me so many times with his generous compliments), TAAMommy, Lavanya, Shubha Prasad, Raja and Kartik and many many others (I see Ardra has returned too) are not forgotten nor do they go unthanked! :-)

I am grateful to the friends I have made in this blogging world. I am sorry to all the old timers for not being as active as I once was in commenting on your blogs. So here are the ones I enjoyed reading from the near 100 I wrote this year:

  1. Eighteen Verses - Prequel
  2. Tour through the Himalayas
  3. Belle-Lettres
  4. Perhaps
  5. A Poem Revisited
  6. Hands Tied
  7. Fallacy of Patriotism
  8. Unbearable World (I enjoyed reading this)
  9. New Face of Tolerance
  10. Silhouettes
  11. Soul's Architecture
  12. Toe Tagged (for the sheer fun I must have had writing it)
  13. Truth Re-recognised
  14. Generation V
Poor output this year both in terms of quantity and quality. Still I enjoyed going through them. Hope you did too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Fall

Fall, but slowly, beautifully

Nope! It is not about the season. At least not while I am in India. It is about the experience of falling down. Choose your style - tripping, down the stairs, out of the window, off your bike, from the train, off the bed when you were excitedly ... you know! I am not sure whether you have noticed, but there is a brilliant state of the mind which realises that it is falling but can do very little but watch its container simply fall. Thud!

I have had several falls though I am not prone to falling. Usually I have a leech's grip but sometimes, just sometimes, I fall. Cumulate over several years and that becomes several falls. A recent fall (off my bike) brought back fond memories which you know you had but the details are lost. It is like a feeling of knowing that someone did ruffle your hair in love and affection but never being able to answer who it was. I remember telling myself after every such fall to remember the experience and I have always forgotten. This time, I am writing about it.

The fall is life's gift of slow motion cinema. Everyone who has fallen might remember having felt something like this but not yet. Allow me to describe it to you.

You are walking along this floor shrouded in thick carpets. You see this girl across the floor and you continue looking at her. She smiles. You feel that that was expected. She turns to leave. You think you should go up to her. You walk a little faster and then your right toe gets caught in a carpet's mouth.

Now observe.

You know it was the carpet that caused you to fall. You realise that no amount of trying to balance will help you. You feel the muscles of your back and thighs tighten. You see the chandelier being raised to the ceiling. You notice your aunt wince as you are falling. You see the floor coming towards you and you probably already know how it is going to feel. You suddenly feel an immense lightness in your being as if you are strung to an end of a kite and all you will do is rise and fall. Your hands are swiftly moving to cushion your fall but to you they seem like slowly floating to the remaining space between you and the floor. The carpet is all that you see now and somehow the redness overwhelms and calms you simultaneously. Your mind is already aware of the impact, thereby reducing the impact for you already. You let the body complete its course and take the shock. The noise that surrounds you will wipe out any music playing in the background. The crunch of bone and tissue will feel like it is happening elsewhere but all around you. Nothing else will be felt, but this.

You might think that this is just my imagination, but it is not. I don't know if there is a medical term for it or whether this is even being studied (I don't think it can be as the mind cannot expect the fall and all participants in the study would typically know what they are expected to do unless the study is well designed to make the subjects expect something entirely different, like the fall of a tile from the ceiling and while they are waiting for it, make them trip and fall) but the nature of the mind in fall is beautiful and is an experience I wish for everyone.

The mind is the most focused and most unconditioned during that phase. Osho and tantrics thought that the orgasm was the only state where there is no ego and all images of the self are dropped. I think they were highly unimaginative. Thought I don't question their conjecture, I feel the free fall of a body with an alert mind (not an expecting mind) is beautiful in what it provides the mind, albeit for just a second or less. The mind cannot be instructed in that phase. All attempts at maintaining a persona are lost. The mind is probably in a highly meditative state watching your fall without condemning, judging, intellectualising, documenting, comparing or recalling. It is pure fall and the mind is nearly at its purest form. If one could just observe the mind when in that state, one would understand nearly all that there is to the mind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Riverdance

Once in a while I come across something superbly brilliant and am immediately amazed at just how much there is to see and know about the world around me. I think the greatest contribution from the Internet is in essentially that respect where every single day when I read something new (or simply unbelievable) or see something new and I sit back wondering just how much more is possible.

I think what differentiates us humans from the animals is just this - the ability to be amazed and imagine possibilities. I doubt whether animals would ever find the Cirque de Soleil amazing beyond curious or startling. Even if they did see it all, I doubt whether they would mull over it and wonder what else is possible. Maybe it is their blessing.

A recent friend of mine introduced me to Riverdance (though not Irish tap-dancing). She is probably the only person I have met who could match or even surpass me in the sheer breadth of experience and excitement. Nearly everything interests her and she explores nearly everything be it food (and she is one of the 2 people who have recommended new restaurants to me and discussed a variety of cuisines), photography, travel, arts, etc. An honour to know her.

So, D, recently sent me some videos to keep me cheerful while I nursed my wounds from a recent accident (and people who know me ask: WHICH recent accident?). I was touched and a lot more excited by the variety and content of what she had sent me. Thank you, D. I share below a video of Riverdance. Riverdance is a show (I can't call it a group because they have different troupes or companies) which has mostly Irish dancers perform the tap-dance. It is amazingly well choreographed and I am glad that they have some variety (instead of performing the same piece of dance).

Since it is mostly only step-dancing, the traditional Indian elements of bhava and laya are nearly all but absent. Nevertheless, the sheer rhythm and beat of this dance form is energising! Please do watch esp. the piece at 3:36.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wikileaks and what it augurs

Wikileaks

Fear is the basis of all oppression. I wouldn't be far from truth if I went on to say that fear is the cause for all that is ugly in this world of human beings - fear of being found out, fear of losing what one has, fear of disrepute and much more.

Such is the fear that has gripped the governments and institutions of the world. And the one who has most to lose is most delirious. The American government recently has shown its inability to uphold what it supposedly guards the most and invades every other country in order to establish the same - democracy and freedom. While I have loved the people I have gotten to meet in that country, my disrespect for the government grows every single day. Here is a government and institution which is the ugliest and most hypocritical. While other governments can be blatantly corrupt and murderous, US of A is insidious in its ways and sickens me in the pit of my stomach.

So I take a reality check. I approach an eight year old and ask him things. Here is how the conversation goes:

Me: If I took money from you, should I have to tell you what I spend it on?

Boy: Yes

Me: If I break your cycle, should I confess to you?

Boy: Why did you break it?

Me: Because I thought I was protecting you from getting hurt.

Boy: But you could tell me first, right?

Me: I suppose I could. What if I go and break your neighbour's cycle?

Boy: Why are you breaking cycles?

Me: Because I think your neighbour is bad and by breaking his cycle I am ensuring that he won't be bad.

Boy: But you could talk to his mommy and daddy?

Me: I could, but I don't have time and I am afraid they might not listen.

Boy: You shouldn't break things which are not yours.

and it goes on thus. At the end I realised that the ethics and clarity an eight year old has is nearly entirely lost as they grow up to create governments. I spared him the questions that highlight actions resulting from fear as I didn't want to inorganically corrupt his mind.

Such is the numbing fear of the US of A that they have passed the Kill Switch bill. This gives the American president the power to turn off networks (private and public sector) for 120 days or so. This means nearly all DNS routing would be lost. Anything hosted on American servers (which is a significant portion of the Internet), would be lost. Your mail service would be lost. Your ability to search is largely lost. I hope you get the picture. One skewed government's sense of threat and security can deprive the entire world of what was once called the borderless world. Other countries (China, Russia) are following suit.

When I spoke to people and asked them about the WikiLeaks, I got answers ranging from "Something happening in the US" to "Some government documents were leaked and the government of the US of A doesn't like it". To me that is a secondary concern. I think the WikiLeaks issue reveals 3 primary issues which, if not dealt with immediately, would destroy all vestiges of freedom and decency that we all cherish.

Dishonesty:

The American government is extremely ashamed that the truth about their conduct over the past several decades, including war crimes, economic strategies, political moves, foreign affairs etc. has been brought out into the open. Their complaint that the cables were leaked is as stupid as saying that the store is at fault for having recorded my theft. That I stole is not to be discussed. That I killed the storekeeper's daughter is not to be discussed. And anyone who knows it should never disclose it. I will, in the meantime, proclaim myself to be the most ethical man who never takes from others and who considers murder and even violence as something utterly horrible. Now that I have proclaimed all that, you will dare not talk about the store incident.

Somehow, people are not interested in addressing the elephant in the room and are talking about other matters. I think the people of every country are entitled to know the doings of their government as it was elected by them. People instead are talking about freedom and democracy. I think people should first talk about necessity for every government to disclose each and everything that they do. Every citizen must be given free access to all government information, else who is the government protecting? If the government is indeed protecting its citizens, then why hide from them? If they aren't sure whether to trust the citizens or not, then whom are they protecting? Some fictitious image of a country by alienating and indecently oppressing the very people who are citizens of the country?

I think the government should be nothing more than a bunch of people who represent our views and carry out the necessary things for the entire country. They take input from the people, identify needs and goals, prioritise them (based on values that the citizens adopt) and implement them. I doubt there exists even one government which does this without exploiting their own people or superseding their wants and creating an image of the country which they care more about than the people themselves.

The minute we start dealing with images, we run into problems of the ego (individual or collective) and with that comes the fear of being alienated or being proven wrong or being seen as weak, etc. America is going through exactly that. They wish to protect their image of being the greatest country on earth (which they clearly aren't). The very capitalism they think they represent is clearly politicised and corrupt with the government intervening to protect the moochers (so clearly out of Ayn Rand's books).

When the core is flawed, as is the case with the US of A, then being honest and facing the lacuna is far more frightening than covering it up with washed linen and acting as if they represent all that is good. Hence, their fear that China and earlier, USSR might supersede them drove them to pick on them and make life difficult for them, because when a person with a different view succeeds then the people in my club will doubt the greatness of all that I claimed is true. Hence, religions fight, political parties fight, generations fight, heterosexuals and homosexuals fights, Jews and anti-Semites fight, rich and poor fight and countries fight.

When the cables revealed the ulterior motives and sheer barbarianism of the US, the government feared that their own people will lose faith in them and decided to censor the cables. This is the same behaviour that is condemned in China or Russia. But when USA does it, it is national security.

This dishonesty and hypocrisy is the primary concern of mine. If the US of A has its way, then dishonesty and hypocrisy will become the norm. Maybe we will adapt to it and continue to eat our breakfast cereals, but I don't think I will be able to sleep peacefully or speak about truth anymore.


Big Brother Re-Lived:

When the US recognised the threat that the WikiLeaks posed, they decided to twist the arm of Amazon.com, PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and now Bank of America (well, the govt. didn't spend all those hundreds of billions of dollars rescuing them from the financial crash for nothing). Amazon.com which was hosting the WikiLeaks has taken them off, buckling under pressure from the govt. Visa and Mastercard have blocked donations to WikiLeaks and not of their own accord. Julian Assange (editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks) has been arrested on lame charges and held up in the UK. He might be extradited, again, under a lame pretext to the US. A secret grand jury has been suspected to have convened to discuss charges to be levied against Assange.

The US of A will mow down anyone who stands up in favour of the WikiLeaks and will take down any site which hosts the content. If any company does that on their private servers, then that company will be shutdown for sure. Please read about the Kill Switch bill that I mentioned at the outset (and the commenters on Schneier's blog are quick to point out how stupid the US govt. is in assuming that they actually have a switch). If any country hosts these WikiLeaks on their local network, then the US might surely find some weapons of mass destruction and charge! Unfortunately, most countries are slaves of the US and will hand over all those servers and their citizens to the US soldiers to be kicked around and whipped.

This is scary because this means that if the US govt. doesn't like something then we can't like it. If they don't like chocolate mousse tomorrow, I can't legally have it!

Freedom of Speech and Human Rights:

I am reminded of the verse from Tao Te Ching (chapter 18):

When the great Tao is forgotten,
benevolence and moral codes arise.
When shrewdness and cleverness appear,
great hypocrisy follows.
When there is no harmony in the family,
filial manners are developed
When the country is in disorder,
ministers appear as loyal servants.

We are in a world where we need to demand/ask/request/beg for the freedom to speak and human rights. Had the Way been observed, this would never have been the case. Alas, we are left with just this and now, even that will be snatched out of our hands because a power mightier than us, than decency throbs in the valley. I find it vulgar that we even need to ask for the freedom to speak. WikiLeaks assumed that they had it only to be rudely shocked into reality that no one has it till the government that rules allows one to. Had these WikiLeaks been about Britney Spears and Ricky Martin then there is nothing to worry and the petty race can revel in their base entertainment but when the rulers themselves are threatened to be the point of ridicule, all laughter is considered treacherous.


What this augurs is the end of an ethical world to live in. I don't think we can do anything (no matter how much we speak, how much we rant about it, how much we raise slogans). Assange might be tried and found a traitor. We can boycott Amazon.com and stop using our Visa and Mastercards and nothing will change. The only thing that will save the human race is ending the tyranny of governments like in the US. That will never happen. More governments, the world over, will follow the example set by them. Honest ethical living will be given the corner alcove on the first floor of the museum of history.


If you are less cynical than I am, please connect with the likes of Ola Bini and several others who feel strongly about what is happening. Each person has their pet spot to focus on. You can take your pick. I will just spend my time in that alcove in the museum.



More at The Real News

The Visual Poetry Project

Since it does seem to be happening, I will post details about it. Recently, Madness Mandali decided to organise a visual poetry project. 33 poets were chosen from around 150 and the artists were assigned to each poet. The artists and poets worked closely to come up with a poem-art combination. I would love to post the final piece my artist developed for my poem which was chosen but I will have to wait for a green signal from Madness Mandali. It seems that the book might be available for ordering sometime next week. Let's wait and see.

I think the selection of poems is pretty good (since I got to read everyone's). I would recommend this book because the combination of art and poetry is something I wanted to do a while ago but couldn't. Maybe I will eventually do it. :-)

Here is the project flyer that was put up a while ago:

Here is the poster I made for the publicity!




Here is the cover of the book:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Partitions

Artificial partitions

As I go to sleep

The noon sky is divided

By my eyelashes.

A beautiful quote

Mathi MathiTrying to find a buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It's not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can't grab it. Beyond this mind you'll never see a buddha. The buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a buddha beyond this mind?

- Bodhidharma (d. 533)


(bow down to DailyZen)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Letting Go

So here it is, in front of me, glaring at me with all its vulgarity and perceived ugliness. I detest it with all of my being and have found means to achieve that seeming heaven. Please note, gentle reader, I have the means to rid myself of this sore, I hold in my hand the key to the door through which I can send this wolf running out of my life and I am simply holding that key and staring at it. There is an immense pain that fills me at the thought of letting go of this miserable thorn embedded deep into my flanks. The thought that I might no longer have this, with which I have spent a long time, makes me disappointed and my heart grows heavy with the weight of that realisation.

Nevertheless, I open the door and watch this witch walk away through that door and in her wake I feel pain. I feel a deep longing for what might have been possible had this headache not become thus. An urge rushes to my throat to call out and ask it to stop and undo all that made it sickening and gross.

But I don't. I let the snake slither away and watch with amazement at the sheer volume of remorse that shrouds my heart and mind. How could I, who hated this city or woman or job or bike or some such disposable entity (and what isn't!), yearn for it to remain with me after having suffered untold pain in my association with it? It amazes me.

Recently, a friend of mine too went through something like this as she quit her job with a company which hardly gave her anything and treated her poorly. I had also gone through similar pain when I left a company that I so eagerly wanted to quit. But on the day I quit, I felt innumerous misgivings and sadness and I kept turning around to see the building fade behind others as I drove away.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Unheard Whimper

As you take the bus on an overnight journey to some far away place, you stop where everyone must get down to stretch their legs or relieve themselves or grab a bite of the oily produce of the roadside vendor. While you get down wondering about what you have left behind and what you have waiting for you at the end of the journey - as if journeys end - you catch a glimpse of this extraordinary beauty haunching over a pile of vessels pushing her lovely hair behind her ear as she scrubs a wok. You stare at her wondering whether it is merely an illusion or her loveliness is real. How could someone so lovely be planted in the middle of nowhere scrubbing stained vessels?

The fate of the grand and remarkable placed in oblivion is a rude tragedy which reminds me of wonderful sunrises through which people sleep. How crude a joke when the finest nightingale sings her finest song only to be heard by none! So be it with Shakespeare composing sonnets while mopping the floor of Chittagong railway station or Da Vinci painting remarkable outlines along walls where people aren't supposed to urinate. Beauty stands insulted and neglected when confined to the amnesia of time. When the nightingale's song might never have been, what is one to speak of dulcet notes? When a lovely woman is not worshiped by many and stone doesn't chip itself into a monument for her, what shall we ever know of such beauty? The finest thoughts are so when they come out into the open. The cloaked phenomenon might never have happened. So be it with that sage who spoke to God but died before he could tell anyone about it. He was found on NH73, dogs tugging at his carcass.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Old memories





A torn prayer flag

Rises, limp, in the wind to

Be what it once was.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Well Said

I read this somewhere and I totally loved it:


Of all the riches that we hug, of all the pleasures we enjoy, we can carry no more out of this world than out of a dream



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Louder, please

How instinctive it is for one to raise their voice the minute one suspects one's own folly! Haven't you observed that? I mean in yourself not in others. I write this because the past few weeks had me gleefully expose this base instinct in many people (ex-employers, friends, colleagues, et al) and I immediately turned the spotlight on myself to see how different am I. Beyond the consciousness I bring to most of my actions so that I can continuously understand myself, I cannot deny that I am occasionally a criminal myself. So this is no longer about you or me. It is verily about the common human fabric that forms nearly most of us.

I start a discussion and the minute I notice the veneer of my self-attested brilliance peeling, I get annoyed, I get exasperated, I try mocking at the other person who clearly possesses sound logic and clarity, I simply disagree with him and aver that "I don't think you are right" and side-step the vital responsibility in the wake of that statement, that of explaining why I think so. 

It burns my skin to be caught wrong in public, as if I have been walking around naked only to realise that in the quadrangle of a forum and all that gaiety and confidence about my threads and demeanour are laid bare, literally and figuratively, not in the seclusion of my bedroom where none shall know other than the tales I carry out of the door, but in an agora where people rarely wait for me to explain for what is seen and heard is all that sells in the marketplace of human interaction. And then I raise my voice and rail about the atrocities of world in which we live, how morals have fallen, how the king is cruel and, the minute I find a few heads nodding, continue to dig into that one topic which seems to distract people from my nakedness.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (no less a victim of this phenomenon) calls this a relationship between images. We have an image of the other person and we have an image of ourselves. We wish to prove repeatedly establish our image to be worthy of the other image's consideration. Ponder over that. What if I strip myself of any image and personas everyday as soon as I rise and before I even recognise the world around me?

This is not a mental exercise (as isn't most of deep realisation). To shed our image, our preferred persona, is not something we can get up in the morning and say "Ok, today I have decided to not consider myself brilliant". It is not that simple. It requires going into our mind and understanding why we are wounded when someone critiques us. Why are we hurt when we don't win a game of table tennis? Why are we uncomfortable when another brings a more intelligent idea? A more beautiful illustration? A more creative plan? A more wise approach to a problem? A vital insight into a matter being discussed? Without that understanding (which isn't mental or intellectual), without the clarity into why we feel what we feel and respond the way we do, there is no hope in our attempt at shedding this image. If we refuse to see what is, all attempts at transformation are abortive at best and ridiculous as a norm.

Interfering With The Natural

I was appalled when I read about the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510). Coming from a country which considers itself rational and prides itself in its "freedom" and "liberty" to do just about anything, the articles I read (here and here) only reminded me of 1984 and Atlas Shrugged. An excerpt:

Practices such as saving seeds for use the next year would be prohibited and
doing so could result in a federal offense, punishable by fines and prison
time. Some speculate that the practice of saving seeds is being banned in
order to give seed companies, such as Monsanto, a monopoly over the seed
industry.

Similar stuff seems to be happening in India too. Read this

Friday, November 26, 2010

Quizzing

While I have been busy in so many things, I have also been called to organise a quiz. Master stroke of irony! I who have no clue about what is happening in the world am asked to organise a quiz! I was laughing for a day and a half till I realised that the folks were serious. So here is the first flier created for this. Feel free to let me know your answer! :-) Please click on the image below.


Quiz 1

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mixed Worlds

Alas! I must be what others can see





From many-hued dreams,
A dew drop wakes the lily
To be a flower.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Eighteen Verses - Prequel

Some readers might be aware of a bygone effort of mine in capturing my thoughts and meditations into 18 verses. On my recent trip I felt the need to understand when philosophical enquiry and spiritual pursuits seem appealing or even relevant to an individual. I also wished to understand what are the characteristics of a realised soul and what is available to him which infinite intellectual efforts (medha) cannot rein in. It is this very subject in its foggy constitution that leaves several amateur seekers (like myself) confused with the words of the wise and irritated by the chanting populace which resembles the mass incarnation of parrots. 

Vaakdevi

This post is an offering to the Divine Goddess Saraswati who effortlessly milks Truth from the bovine world in which we live. Were it not for Her, my life would be sadly meaningless, as it happily is now. In Her there is a union of mind and mindlessness. In Her there is a union of beauty and the banal. In Her there is peace. Om Shanti, shanti, shanti-hi.

This prequel discusses 3 matters vital to the reader before s/he even feels inclined to read the 18 verses. These verses (also numbering 18) are not questions but statements. They have been composed as verses adhering to the 5-7-5 count of a haiku though resembling the haiku in no other manner. Some might but most wouldn't as the subject is heavy and I am presently incompetent to douse such raging fires in a light linen handkerchief. 

The first few verses cover the characteristics of individuals who would be inclined to philosophical enquiry. The next few verses detail the characteristics and circumstances which discourage one from spiritual development. The last few verses detail the traits a seeker must develop in order to effectively be able to meditate on the 18 verses. The post closes with 2 verses which apply to all philosophical schools of thought.

I will not elaborate on each of them as they are as delicate as the 36 questions raised in the original post. Poetry, unlike prose and laws, allow the fecundity of the mind to dictate the import.


1.

All jump to pluck the

Blossoms from the laden tree -

The roots go deeper.


2.

The monk wonders as

The fish gasp in the basket -

Which sutra they chant?


3.

The merchant's nine locks

And three guards at his vault - Still

A charm hangs on his neck.


4.

As he falls asleep

The buzzing bee near his ear

Begins or ends his sleep?


5.

A little orchid

Eddies past the praying monk

He smiles, bows once more.


6.

The tree in a seed

In a soft fruit's belly -

He slowly nods his head.


7.

The Yang-tze flood razes -

He floats on a bamboo mat

Eating from debris.


8.

He sows seeds; it rains

Hundred sacks of golden wheat

He dusts his bed and sleeps.


9.

When the nightingale

Departs, the li'l pup climbs the

Branch and barks. Confused.


10.

Ten fingers count sheep

Till one jumps over the other

Count all over again.


11.

The Spring breeze through

The orchards of apple blooms

Smells of apples.


12.

As I step into

The cold Ganges, I admire

My halcyon shadow.


13.

Come cruel Autumn

All tree obey and shed - Even

One which bore just a leaf.


14.

The mighty river

Too follows the plough's command

To water a rice field.


15.

Oh! Puissant hunter

Myriad arrows that left your bow

Rust on the wet grass.


16.

The lion mauls the deer;

Cruel? So necessary?

Manjushri's sabre.


17.

Sweet waters flow swift

Brine stands still gathering all - 

One becoming another.


18.

A vagabond strolls

Through forest, marsh and towns - Paths

Beckoning his feet.


Yadakshara padh brashtam maathra heenantu yad bhaveth
Tat sarvam kshamyathaam deva, Narayana namostute
Visarga bindu maathraanee, padh paadhaaksharaanee cha
Nyoonaani cha atirikthaanee, kshamsva Purushottama.


Green leaves against the white sun

A Tour Through The Himalayas

Well, I was away traveling through the mountains. It was beautiful. More on that later. Here are some pictures shot during the trip. Hope you like them.




In case you do not like the display format above, then feel free to click on the link below (you can control speed of refresh depending on your connection):

http://s593.photobucket.com/albums/tt19/eroteme-thinks/Rishikesh2010/?albumview=slideshow

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Belles-Lettres

It was Thursday and hence, he would walk in in another two minutes. She would reach her desk within a minute, having powdered her nose and cradled her bodice into position (where it already was, but never seemed thus at 8:55 a.m. on Thursday). She had arranged the letters neatly on the top right corner of her table, with the hard wooden grip of the rubber stamp leaning slightly against them. Once it had rolled awkwardly and landed on her lap marking her skirt with concentric blue circles containing Saint-Valéry-en-Caux.
"Aah! Mlle, were you planning to be parceled somewhere?"
She blushed and laughed and nearly cried before he offered her his handkerchief. She took it from him but didn't know what to do with it and kept alternatingly staring at her stained skirt and the stainless kerchief. She mumbled a thanks and made several attempts to at least wipe the mark on her skirt but the distance between one hand holding her skirt and the other holding his kerchief never closed. He waited for a while before wishing her well and leaving the post-office.
As she was smiling at the smoothened grip of the stamp, he walked in. She watched him enter, but quickly looked at other customers, before stealing a glance at him and back to the old lady who also caught her eye. Goodness, I hope she doesn't walk over here, she thought to herself while her heart beat to the rhythm of his steps as they grew louder, both beat and step.
"Bon jour, Mademoiselle!"
She gave him a surprised look before returning the greeting.
"Bon jour, Monsieur Perrot!"
"I hope I am not disturbing you?"
"Not as much as it would be had you come after the post-office shuts."
He smiled using them as reins to hold back his praise for such a smart parry.
"Letter to your wife, Monsieur?"

Pause dear reader, and while the air and breath in the post-office is held, return to what you have now forgotten. It wasn't too long ago when you had heard the same question asked albeit in a different tone. Recall that Thursday, a couple of months ago. It was when M. Perrot had met with an unreported accident on the highway leaving him with a tender right arm in a cast, and a more tender urge to write to his wife in Versailles, telling her lies about his well-being, lies which are always pardoned by the romantic people of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. You do recall, don't you? You probably thought he was a hen-pecked husband as he walked up to our lovely Mlle. Audrey Henri, sitting prettily behind her desk and stamping letters to their fated destination, and requested her to don the role of a scribe for a poor (though not financially) maimed man. She was startled at this unusual request and had asked the same thing:
"Letter to your wife, Monsieur?"
"Yes, if it is not a severe pain and distraction from your duties."
"Certainly it isn't, Monsieur. But..."
"But? I shall surely pay for stamp and your service. Rest assured."
And he quickly poured several francs from his breast pocket on to the desk. She rapidly rose and prevented them from rolling to the ground and under some sack of letters to Paris. She pushed them back the honest man with a cast and said, "That I am certain you will Monsieur..."
"Perrot. Phillipe Perrot. I am a surveyor commissioned by the French government."
"Aah! You are here to survey?"
He smiled. So did she and for a second there, I thought they forgot that a letter had to be written. After explaining his job to her, he tilted his head towards the sheets of paper fluttering impatiently on her desk.
"Oh yes! Sorry. Please let me know what you wish to write to your wife."
"Dear Gloria, How are you? I have reached here safely and find the place beautiful. The people are beautiful but all this beauty reminds me of you. I wish you were here. My little drop of honey! I have bought you some wonderful handmade soaps and some lacy..."
He paused long enough for her to look up.
"Perhaps you should just write lacy personals?"
"As you wish M. Perrot"
And with great tenderness, he had continued to dictate to her his letter. She was thrilled to play Cupid of a rather mundane sorts, but every bit of woman in her was moved. You saw her eyes glaze that day, didn't you? And ever since, every week he begged her to write amourous, love-drenched letters to his wife. Mlle Henri eagerly cooperated.

All this you know. What you didn't know was that those letters were never sent Versailles. Not one of them. Even the one in which he described his weekend covering the coast and marking several rock formations there. He did end it with a "My apologies to my sugar-dipped plum. I got carried away. See what your absence does to me?" and paused long enough to wait for Mlle Henri to look into his anxious eyes.
"Never mind, M. Perrot. I am sure she will enjoy learning about your work day as much as I did."
He smiled and continued about the stalactites in the cave near the gulf. None of those letter ever reached Versailles. She also kept a vigil for any letters for M. Perrot arriving from Versailles. Even the one that contained some magazine for sepulchral aficionados was repacked after a thorough investigation revealed no letter from Gloria.
Today, M. Perrot has an arm healed two weeks ago, but Mlle Henri still collects his letters and keeps them to herself. She reads each and every one of them while wearing nothing but her favourite cherry blossoms patterned négligée. She reads them aloud to herself - "Dear Audrey, ... my honey lipped Audrey... I have bought you nice brooches to pin on your blushing bossom ...." Oooh la la! How I wish! And she'd plunge into a deep gloom about not having ever found a lover like him. She'd scold Mme. Perrot for not writing even once and concluding that that woman in Versailles surely didn't deserve this lovely man, her lovely M. Perrot.

Several such weeks of echoless love passed before unimaginable guilt overwhelmed our pretty Mlle Henri. She decided that the only way she could make up for this immense crime of separating lovers was to play imposter and deliver an equally lovely letter to M. Perrot from Mme. Perrot. Since he never did receive letters from her, he, perhaps, might not recognise her handwriting anyway. She who played scribe to one could certainly play the same for the other. She wrote several drafts and even consulted some of the finest (although dead) writers of the French tongue, before settling for a seventeen page treatise on longing addressed to M. Perrot by Mme. Perrot.

When M. Perrot walked in at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, pretty Mlle. Henri extended the slight bundle to him as he opened his mouth to start saying something.
"For me?"
"Oui"
"From where?"
"Versailles"
A puzzled look turned to quivering joy when he heard that. He kissed the envelope several times before gripping the edge of the desk in confused excitement. He kissed the envelope again and then the air and then clasped it to his breast while Mlle. Henri laughed and cried into her (actually his) handkerchief.
"What a delight! What a delight! I am the happiest man today in Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, why! in the whole of France."
She nodded, holding back tears with the pink of her nose and cheeks.
He abruptly stopped his tizzy and placed the bundle on her desk. She gulped in the fear that he may have noticed something amiss and quickly looked around hoping no one would hear his accusations when they did come. He simply shook his head.
"Such irony!"
"Why? What happened M. Perrot? Surely you are happy to get this letter from your wife?"
"Indeed, but such irony it is."
"What is?"
"I broke my spectacles today at the basin."
"Oh dear!"
"And I shant expect one to be delivered before the weekend."
"Oh dear!"
"Perhaps all I could do is smell these pages till I can read what she wrote to me."
"Oh dear!"
He kept rubbing his nose against the envelope while she thought her efforts wasted.
"Not unless if you can help me."
"How M. Perrot?"
"By reading it to me."
"I? Certainly there must be several things private that a woman might want to share with her husband. How could I read them out aloud?"
"But it is to me that you will read?"
"But others will hear too."
He placed the bundle on her desk.
"None will if you be kind enough to read this to me over a cup of tea. The address is on the envelope."
So saying, he bowed and walked away before she could protest. She held her letter in her hands and wondered how she would ever manage to read what she had written a million times.

But as you expected, she did reach his place at 6:00 p.m. He was humming an old folk song while preparing tea.
"Aah! Mlle. Henri. I am delighted."
"M. Perrot."
"First, let's have some tea."
And they sat down to have some tea. He chatted about various things and she simply nodded where appropriate and shook her head when more so.
"And now, for the letter."
She slowly extracted it from her bag and handed it to him.
"Surely you jest!"
"Sorry."
She looked up at him one more time.
"Please.. please do open it."
And she did. She cleared her throat and began -
"Dear Philippe, How..."
"She always called me sugar-buns."
"Oh! Perhaps... perhaps she was in a different mood when she commenced writing"
"I prefer Phillipe. Please go on."
Mlle. Henri slowly read the long treatise, her mind flooded with images of sweet love with the man in front of her. She kept reading while he sipped his tea. She blushed where the words grew amorous and lowered her voice when her need for him sailed as paragraphs of yearning.
"Do return soon, my love. Your choco-lips, Gloria"
"Audrey"
"I beg your pardon!"
"Nothing. I was just about to thank you."
"Oh! You are welcome."
"I hope the tea was good."
"Splendid."
"Thank you for taking the pains to come here, Mlle. Henri"
"I couldn't let you suffer the lack of spectacles or the love of your wife."
"You are kind."
She rose to leave.
"Mlle. Henri?"
"Yes?"
"Certainly you know this place well enough."
"Yes."
"I think I have nothing more to survey here."
"Oh! Then would you be leaving?"
"I might if there is nothing left to survey for the government."
"There surely would be something."
"I shall list them out tonight."
"I wish your list grows long."
As she was descending the stairs, he said, "Isn't it funny that my spectacles which didn't break during my accident had to break today?"
"Yes"
"Mlle. Henri?"
"Yes?"
"I won't be writing letters anymore."
She hurried up a couple of stairs and burst out.
"Why? What happened?"
"Because there is no need to write anymore when my love and labour has created a beautiful Mme. Perrot out of thin air."
"I beg your..."
And then she realised. The weight of recollection left her unsteady on her feet and M. Perrot rushed to help her.
"But... but you could have said so."
"I would never have received such a coronation of love had I been vulgar to disclose my heart's tell."
He slowly helped her back into the house where they had another cup of tea.

This post is dedicated to Parvati-ji who always felt that I couldn't write happy love stories. I still don't think I am good at it for the psychological play that posts-noir offer is usually hard to conjure in such happy tales. Nevertheless, here is to Parvati-ji.

A friend's words

How ironic it is sometimes when beautiful thinkers and writers remain largely unknown. A very dear friend of mine said the following things but this friend is relatively unknown to the world. Does the world deserve the likes of who write nowadays or these silent gems?

since i learnt french, my dog barks only in french

in the flowing rivers of eternal perfection is unending silence...

and the most beautiful of all:

Innocence is Truth's nascent light.

Life's Bricks


How beautiful the
Moon looks tonight. The horse moves -
Change in scenery.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stupid Me

As I observe laconic people around me, I wonder what let's them stay silent even when they have something to say. One thing I have never mastered is to stay silent when I know what is right. Knowledge is poor shackle for the tongue. I recently came across the quote below and loved it.

When I think over what I have said, I envy dumb people. ~ Seneca

And for all of you who feel that it is politically incorrect to call dumb people dumb, wait for the next post.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Perhaps



How often I hear

Promises of her return

In a good-bye's wake.

Winter's fool





Piles of wood well trussed

But you cry over what's burnt

And seek warmth from ash.



Monday, October 11, 2010

How many Horaces I've been

Fernando Pessoa is one of my favourite writers for this year. He was probably the father blogging way before terse personal writing on different topics became fashionable and long before electronic computers were invented (let along the Internet).
In one of his "posts" he writes wonderfully about an experience that is common in my life. There has hardly been a day when I would be seated at a lunch table, watch someone poke at their food with a fork and wonder "how beautifully those steely legs glide through ..." before someone calls me to check about something mundane. But I can speak later. This post has Pessoa as the cynosure. This is an excerpt from his delightful book called Book of Disquiet. Read on.

Book of Disquiet

If you liked this, then you might also like this: http://inagardencalledlife.blogspot.com/2007/04/idle-writers-apology.html

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How the world changed due to computers!


A lot of people think that software engineers are boring. I think that would be true to a great extent. There are exceptions and I think most of the exceptions created new stuff (languages, frameworks, tools, etc.) which made normal conversation difficult.

My greatest gripe against the software industry is what they did to English as a language. Perhaps we should have picked Aramaic and coined all terms from that vocabulary. At least most of conversation would seem normal then. Consider walking up to a geek, pointing to the bed bug on his sleeve and saying, "Hey Bar! There is a bug there!" and he retorting "My watch runs the latest Android and is bug free!" I often insist on using words for what they were originally intended. Sadly, this leaves people confused or rolling their eyes (when the confusion is resolved). Most of the time it is just to pull a leg, but often it is to make a point that we can still talk like non-software engineers.

How annoying it is look at that loud, pushy software engineer who thinks every woman is his, and tell your colleague sipping diet coke, "Foo is such an alpha-male" only to have your buddy look at you and then at Foo and say, "If that is the alpha version I don't want to see the final release"!?

Consider the chubby boy's cries of anguish when he finds out that we hid his snack box. "Where are my cookies? Where are they!? Waaah!" and someone sneaks up to him and meaningfully says, "If you click on Tools then preferences, you can set the directory where the browser stores your cookies. That way you won't forget!"

Speaking of tools, no office conversation goes without a giggle when some frustrated engineer screams in the middle of his debugging "My tool is simply not showing up." Viagra, anyone!?

And with tools and cookies comes the really abused word "Menu". Wasn't it something we flipped through at the restaurant? The menus software engineers talk about is so boring.

I really wonder what stupid frustrated brainwave those engineers must have had when they named peripheral devices as mouse and bus. Mice ran, not clicked (or double clicked). Buses carried people in them and not tripped people who weren't familiar with the layout of your room. Keys!? You either forgot them and locked yourself out or gave your girlfriend a copy before you regretted it. Since when did people hit keys and have keystrokes!? And you connect everything to a port which was once the domain of sailors and pirates. In England port is also a kind of wine. Try going to a tavern in England and telling the barman that you think his ports have a problem.

If the outside is confusing, come on in. You get data in bytes (12 bites make a Mac, I mean McDonalds burger) and bytes in nibbles and nibbles in bits. Why is this not on the software engineer's menu? Perhaps his tool is in the wrong place? Caches were secure and concealed places of storage before they got attached to the CPU to increase your performance (does that make sense? To most software engineers it doesn't though you will always hear them say "Increase the cache"). Oh! by the way, when any software engineer says he doubts your performance, he isn't speaking for your wife but he probably is speaking about your application development. A true software engineer will get offended only when you suspect the performance of his application.

There is a lot of memory in there but it remembers things only when turned on (much unlike the male of the human specie, who remembers nothing when turned on, not even that he is already married). This kind of memory is called RAM. Hindus will bow down to that name, and invaders used it as the receiving end of their long log which they used to break down fort doors. And then the motherboard (no, not an abusive term) has many chips on them which contain registers. No one other than a computer geek will understand that motherboard is something legal to sell. And what on earth are chips doing in a computer? Johnny! come here at once and clean the poor motherboard. 

The kind of memory that remembers for a longer time is called a hard disk. I had a friend from Orissa who for some strange reason could never pronounce hard disks properly. He always interchanged the S and the K and we always would wonder whether his presentations had sexual underpinnings. Most other north Indian friends of mine find it difficult to say desktop. They too get the K and S exchanged but to boring effects. 

The disks are called devices (as if one name wasn't enough) and devices have drivers but you can't call them chauffeured devices. It doesn't make sense and offends the devices (which give out sad beeps or crash your data) much like in the Intel advt. You will hear some hardcore hardware engineer or storage expert say "The spindle slipped and the disk crashed" making you think that someone had a back problem. 

The world of Unix geeks will be familiar with a kernel though they aren't the ones you pop in the cinemas to get your bagful of popcorn. These terminal based systems required you to login (and no, it is not the same as throwing the log into the fireplace) and work in a shell. Later on, there was a shell called Bash and where you typed was called a bash prompt. If someone bashed me, I would be prompted to do more than type. Still these systems were solid and good in spite of all their terminologies. System designers avow that if only Windows had a kernel (not your OS kernel but the English kernel) of good design in them, there would fewer crashes. Army officers still shake their head and avoid places where software engineers frequent.

"Lad, meet Colonel Foo Bar."

"Gee! cool. So you were written in C or assembly?"

Speaking of crashes, jars crash to the floor, your favourite China would be crashed to the floor by your boss's kid, stock markets crash, cars crash, lovers have a crash (oh! sorry, that was a crush) but since when did my computer do anything that resembled a crash? No noise, no plummeting of indices but still you will hear, more often than not, that someone's system crashed and actually hear nothing on the floor. Some would describe it as a blue screen, but that's only if you are running Windows. 

Windows followed the trail of companies naming themselves and their products funnily. Bell Labs, Apple, Mac (or Macintosh, either way it is silly), BASIC, LISP (isn't that how the dork spoke and we teased her?), Oracle and many more made these words difficult to use without people wondering about the computer configuration.

This might all seem the domain of computer scientists (but go tell a software engineer that s/he isn't a computer scientist and he will hit you with all the bits and bytes s/he has). The true software engineer (the ones who talk Agile and laugh at Waterfall) finds me stupid when he tells me he is an Agile programmer and struggles to move his French fries aside and even get up from his chair! The software world is filled with proxies and servers (not the restaurant ones) and models (not your ramp ones) and frameworks (which don't work). They are the ones who believe that an extra layer of indirection can solve any problem and then go ahead to name those layers funnily. They speak of inheritance (not the one you didn't get because you were Uncle Bar's favourite nephew) and normalisation (not why you were sent to the asylum) and dirty writes (nope, not porn) and encapsulation (come again!?).

But then all this makes conversations funny in the office and outside and only a few of us laugh at them. Bookmark this one without using a bookmark! :-)

One Day On Earth

One Day on Earth Participant Trailer from One Day On Earth on Vimeo.

Enjoy this trailer and participate in the project. I am going to.

Hug O' War

Shel Silverstein is one of my favourite poets. Contrary to my usual preference for the serious and stoic, SS has the quality of being deep while being light or even funny. I think that is rare and widely unappreciated. Most people fear they might be called amateurish or dilettantes for picking someone like SS. Here, have a lollipop and meditate on that.

This poem I share because it is exactly how I feel everyday morning when I wake up before I go back to bed at night realising that it can never be realised in this world. Nope, not at all... :-(

I am a big fan of hugging, but only kids appreciate it. Men think I am homosexual (I hate using the word gay in this context because gay has a beautiful meaning which has been perverted by the kings of perversion - Westerners) and women think I am hitting on them, hence, neither of them receive hugs till they are good friends with me. Kids, on the other hand, understand hugs for what they really are - bringing hearts together.


Hug O War

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A poem, revisited

I was recently asked to explain a poem featured on this blog. After hunting down the poem, I realised I had no clue about it. Then I read through the comments with Parvati-ji's comments helping me a bit (and making me blush with the generosity of compliments). So I wrote back to this gent with whatever I could make of that poem. In case, any of the then commenters or present ones feel/see something different, please do respond with your thought.

Here is the poem: http://inagardencalledlife.blogspot.com/2007/01/for-love-of-me.html

And here is a snippet of the email I wrote, explaining what I understood from this:

The reason why I sent you the link is two-fold; one you can get some hints and two, I don't have a clue why I wrote that poem. Frankly, I usually do not remember why I write anything. Apart from articles which present a perspective about human life and living (aka nonfiction), I have no clue what made me write any story or poem. It gets worse, sometimes I don't even remember having written them. I have had some embarrassing episodes on the blog too when someone actually quoted my own lines and I complimented the commenter for writing them! :-o
So any expectation about my recalling why I wrote it (or any other poem) is quashed. I am going to re-read it and give you what I think and hope that that doesn't influence your mind's eye.
Ok! Done. Here goes. I think the protagonist is a loner and finds solace in words and penning them. He (has to be a "he" because there is a "she" who speaks about marriage) is not merely an assembler of words but someone who connects to them at various levels. He actually specifies the colour of the ink to use for specific words! Interesting chap! And the reason is perhaps this, when the ink is still wet, turquoise can generate various colours when seen in different coloured lights. This is unlike with black or blue or red ink. He seems to use the image of drying both for the actual ink (and the beauty in that) as well as the entire world and emotion that surrounds a word. What I found amazing is that he seems to simultaneously and individually admire and appreciate the ink as a physical entity and the word as a representation of what he feels. Each is given its due, because he doesn't merely mention the quality of ink or paper and then move on to words. Am I making sense? He is able to simultaneously enjoy both. To simultaneously hold two emotions at two different levels is the quality of mad men and I envy them. It is like being able to hate a woman but still appreciate her form and seductiveness, equally truly. Enough on that!
He picks words like "betrayal", "longing" all of which take long to be created (you can never feel betrayed by someone you met an hour ago) and equally long to subside. Another point to note is that these words only make sense when sufficient time has elapsed before or after the realisation of the feeling (of longing or betrayal). Am I making sense? See, if you didn't feeling the longing for a year or so, it doesn't stoke the emotional cauldron of the audience. Try telling a gathering that you longed for success for the past 2 days. They will just return to their gossip. Both of these need time to be spent marinating these feelings.
But then he picks a word - "trickle" which is always a quick phenomenon. A trickle is always short and quick. Ganga doesn't trickle nor the Yang-tse-qiang. Here you see him return to appreciating the ink and the slow drying for a word in itself and for any grand philosophical meaning it brings. Hence, he also takes the liberty of shaping it like a trickle. Playful, alternating and enjoys beauty, both of the ironic kinds and the mundane kinds.
In the second stanza he describes the entire process of ink drying on paper. You would have surely noted that too. When a blob of ink is observed under a magnifying glass it does seem to slowly settle down and runs its length through the fibres of the paper. He does lend it a touch of melodrama when he says "heave and breathe" as if that ink is dying (which it is, if you consider wetness to be the indicator of life). "Desiccated earth" brings us back to the world of human beings where the wetness of genuine emotions and feeling struggle hard and eventually die only to become patterns that others admire (like a love story but not the love in it).
The 3rd stanza is dizzying. He weaves back and forth from words to real world human emotions and back. He seems to be referring to the import of the word "love" when he tells us how he knows that it lives on - because it got wet again and smudged on the paper when he ran a wet finger (clearly, he has been crying) over it! So we start the stanza thinking that he means that emotions like "love" live on but then he returns to the physical word on the paper which seems to be alive because it got wet. But how did it get wet? Because he was recalling a love interest of his which made him shed tears. So the feeling also lives on and not just the physical word on the paper. Back and forth and back and forth...
In the 4th stanza he introduces the woman - (cherchez la femme). Someone who seems to be practical (and hence, boring to him) and who also seems to have tried to bring him out of his affair with words, but has clearly failed. The first line is quite a philosophical truth. It is also the opening line in the Tao Te Ching. She proceeds to elaborate - half in what they portray and half in what they wish to convey. No word (even when entirely read, written or spoken) is the completeness of what was felt. A cow is sufficient to describe a cow, but never complete in conveying the image of the real cow that was seen. She (or he) gives an example of "joy" which can never ever describe the completeness of what a person feels when they confess to being joyous. The last line there is interesting. Need is not put in quotes. Joy was written as "joy" but need was not written as "need" but as need. Hence, the protagonist seems to be giving a rebuttal ( which might imply that "joy" was her example). He seems to be retorting that her needs are always half in their enumeration. Today there is one, and one thinks that that is it, but tomorrow gives you another. But is that need or want? For the person wanting it, it does seem to be need, and hence, the perfect word for rebuttal to her retort that words are just half good. And he replies, "Well, so is all your practicality which seems to only create needs and wants, which are in half too". Husband wife quarrels!!
She then gets personal in the penultimate stanza. She accuses him of not wanting the real thing but being satisfied with words that represent them (lexical porn!?). And she gives examples, but look at how he ties them together to "a cold Autumn night" which seems to represent the state of his soul in spite of having a physical woman by his side. A strange mind it must have been which had something but still couldn't experience. Like walking away from a burning house looking for a warm place.
The last stanza is eerie. How could he know what people said once he was dead? Either that is a technical error on the part of the poet or the protagonist is again playing with words referring to the loss of "life" and not life. It could very well be that, because he "licked to oblivion" the very words he loved, thus ending what he thought was life - the presence of wet words. Not sure. Makes sense?
This is the best I could think. If you ask me again a year from now (and please re-send me the link so that I know what poem you are talking about) I might give you a different story, but isn't that the fun of all literature - Having many stories in one and then many lives to live them! :-)
Since, this was written back in 2007 I can't imagine what made me write it. I don't think I ever felt like the protagonist (2007 or any other year) so this is surely not candidate for "Oh! you must have gone through something like that and hence, your sub-conscious mind wrote it" or any such Freudian crap. 


Boy! Actually quite a long email. I realised that only after pasting it in here!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Fantastic Illustrator

I am fortunate to be introduced to Sinu C who is an artist (the kinds that first comes to your mind when someone says artist). His works are amazing and beautiful ranging from the voluptuous styles of some artists to the boney large eyed ones of several modern artists to Manga-like works. His sheer range is a delight and I have been spending all morning going through his site. Please do visit his works here: http://sinustash.blogspot.com/ Here are some samples to form basis for what I call "variegated". (All the works below are taken from his site)








Aren't they beautiful!?

Friday, October 01, 2010

What is it to relate?

We are always in a relationship, aren't we? But what does it mean to relate? This post discusses just that. For a change I decided not to type out the post but write and scan it. Been ages since I wrote with my pen (Sheaffer). My handwriting is abysmal. Please be kind and tolerate this idiosyncrasy of mine.

This is way past my bedtime and hence, I haven't proof-read this piece. Without a spell-checker and proof-reading, there are bound to be errors which will embarrass me tomorrow, but I'd rather live with that than not write with my pen. Hopefully future posts will have less opportunities to complain.

I realise that this makes my post less searchable (hence, not available through Google), but it's ok. I have only a handful of readers and myriad viewers who land on this blog by mistake! :-)

You might have to click on each image to read them (another inconvenience). Some readers had asked to know the writing process. I really thought there was something like that. When I read the Original of Laura, I thought perhaps there was something similar that happened with me when I wrote. I thought it would be amusing at least to me when I later visited these posts to see how the writing emerged. I have even numbered the paragraphs so that I could re-order them in case I need to. As you see, there was nothing done to that effect. Perhaps my poetry posts would have something interesting.



What is a relationship?
What is a relationship?
What is a relationship?
What is a relationship?
What is a relationship?
What is a relationship?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Atanu Dey on the CWG

His is a blog worth reading (with a pinch of salt) and he has some very interesting points to make about the ongoing CWG debacle. Yours truly, as always, had some vishesh tippani to offer (useless but supposedly grand). Drop by there: http://www.deeshaa.org/2010/09/22/the-games-built-on-a-cesspool/

Personally, I think we should boycott the games and demand that the government repay all the money spent on this sham (in cash or kind).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hands Tied

I have a problem. I am audience to men who shall die in exactly two and a half days. No, that is not my problem. My problem is that it is always two and a half days. Not two and a half hours, not two and a half minutes or two and a half decades. It is always two and a half days and that tears away from my living self invisible fragments of vital sanity. No, I can't see myself in the mirror at least not till two and a half days before I am supposed to die.

I always meet the fated being at two thirty. No matter where I am, I see him with a red envelope or her with a red parasol or something red which I notice as being red. It is difficult to explain this noticing of things. It is like seeing a dove when it is there and when it is supposed to be there and not at other times. Haven't you felt that way? The sun for instance is not something you would notice all seven days of the weeks of summer. Even then, there would be that Thursday, warm and empty on the park bench, peeling the world of its colours into something bright but not necessarily colourful. That Thursday you would find a penny on the pavement near 21 Rue Saint Augustine and stop, your heels trying to race ahead but pushed back by determined toes in soft suede moccasins. You stop and notice that penny leaning against a raised pebble in the road. It is ordinary, I assure you but you see it and then move your head slightly to the left and bend your knees a little bit while your thighs tremble under your weight till the sun fully reflects off the penny and hurts your eye. You move a little more, lose that beam and catch it with your other eye. You play this game till you are reminded to look at the real source of light and you say, "Aah! What a bright sun it is today!" and walk on blinded seeing pulsating discs of grey on each pedestrians shoulder till you rub your eyes back to normalcy.

I would not have noticed that man or his red socks on any other day or at any other hour of that day. Her red brassiere strap would have always been tucked under the blouse's shoulder except when she turned the corner of the road at two thirty afternoon. Then I know. Then I sigh. And then I rush to the nearest cafe to sip some Irish coffee that my trembling hand allows to remain within the porcelain precincts of the cup. Then the waitress frowns and lets me know that she is doing me a favour for not charging for the stained tablecloth. Then I get up to leave for my room under the paper and board cutting shop of Mssr. Duncan and Phillipe. I rarely reach there without the kind help and curious enquiry of some known soul, but I do.

Road to hell
With half day spent in recovering myself, and two days left to ruin my sanity, I listen to the clanging above my head which mimic the boisterous laugh of Hades.

Do you now see what scrapes at my inner being? Why would I care if someone dies or not? I have neither wife nor son nor large bosomed mother who could cry out the minute I enter - "Frédéric, Où sont les oeufs?" and then cry at her fate for not getting a chance to wash her hands off an invalid son. None, sir. I have but a bed, a writing table whose one leg is slightly rotting and hence I have placed that corner on the shelf, yes, the shelf and some items for a make-shift kitchen. The penny I spoke of earlier is on the shelf.

So what does bother my soul, which is less positioned near the heart and more near my intestines, is that I have 2 days to live with a piece of information that I can't sell, nor trade nor use as a lever to crank Fate into being cheated by the forewarned soul (not the intestinal one but the one carrying the red rose bouquet) nor become a prophetic Guru - yellow turbaned with several long strings of beads and heads bowing down before me - who would be Death's tour operator because that would make thousands throng my little room under Mssr. Duncan and Phillipe asking me when they would die and I wouldn't know because they might not be wearing red or the time wouldn't be two thirty.

I feel like any ordinary man who knows that he will die some day but differing in the vital facet of knowing exactly when. It is true, isn't it, that every man knows what I know? Walk down the road of your choice and I shall point you to someone, maybe that lady with a horrible hairstyle and what can you say about her with certainty? Yes? Yes! That she will die. You can go tell her that and she will spit her chewing gum at you. But tell her that she will die the day after tomorrow and you can see her nostrils quiver and her eyes throb in seismic shudder in a pool of tears as she hoarsely whispers, "How... how... how do you know?"

Tonight is no different. I hold with me the knowledge that that fat lady who kicked the poodle with her red pumps, will die. I followed her before she drove off in her Peugeot. AA-723-DI. Cafe Monet's tablecloth (woven, Jaquard) was ruined and I was charged (€36) for the damages. M. Hermès (who has retired as the postman) was kind enough to bring me home under Mssr. Duncan and Phillipe's shop though they are closed today mourning the demise of M. Phillipe's aunt. M. Hermès tells me stories of strange letters he delivered and how he has seen romances and tragedies lived out behind him as he cycled away after delivering the instruments of untold emotion and drama.

Hades watches me from the corner of his eye and I adjust the table a little more. I found out where Madame Red Pumps lives and quite nonchalantly, quite cunningly, I am writing her a letter. I sign it as Hades and look over the corner of my eye. Tonight, perhaps, is different.