He is back! With as much fanfare. This year with even more relevance for me. The lord of start-ups. Wishing you all his choicest blessings all year round.
There is an introspective quality to this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi, for me. The call to look through the year that went by. All the events that occurred, since his last visit. These events that I speak of have formed a crescendo of intensity of experience, that have culminated to this year’s Chaturthi. The final one — the most intense — a day before his arrival.
His arrival is usually one of huge fanfare and festivity; for me however, the call is to seek the silence in this din, where I can listen. Listen, very attentively.
I wish you all a very Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Festival. May you grant yourself all the wishes you seek.
And I continue to look for words. (Scroll, to see the length of the post – long one!)
A quest that will forever be unfulfilled, not because I don’t have words, but because I have no idea which one makes sense, when it is most demanded.
owe |əʊ|verb [ trans. ] have an obligation to pay or repay (something, esp. money) in return for something received : they have denied they owe money to the company | [with two objs. ] I owe you 25 cents.
• owe something, esp. money, to (someone) : I owe you for the taxi.
• be under a moral obligation to give someone (gratitude, respect, etc.) : I owe it to him to explain what’s happened | [with two objs. ] I owe you an apology.
• ( owe something to) have something because of (someone or something) : he owed his success not to chance but to insight.
• be indebted to someone or something for (something) : I owe my life to you.
And I have Jack Johnson singing Belle/Banana Pancakes on my left. And a while ago I just finished watching Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho (SAG, hereafter). The first thing that pierced my head was that children, students, should not watch this film. This should have an A certificate. This is one Adult film, if I have seen one. Mahesh Manjrekar has a great capacity to touch you where it matters with most of his movies. The one thing that, I feel, he cannot control, is the Dus Kahaniayan syndrome. Somehow he feels compelled to tell a detailed story of every peripheral factor in the movie. Except for this fetish of his, I think he makes good movies. SAG, is one of them. I will not be reviewing that movie here, but will be talking about it. Obviously, I will talk about it, so risk the rest of the post at the cost of spoilers. But, be also aware, this post isn’t about the movie as such. Yet it will talk of SAG.
owing money : heavily indebted countries.
• owing gratitude for a service or favor : I am indebted to her for her help in indexing my book.
I was looking for words. Before I saw the movie. After, I was exasperatedly looking for words. Because, as much as less you have them, they are the only ones capable of saying what you exactly want to say. I am a slave of words in that sense – because I prefer expressing as close as I can get to what I mean, think, and feel. I had no words. They refused to join my party. I offered them an Indian wine that’s winning awards, to no avail. I wondered why. Then I realised, I can be a slave to words, but words are slave to no one. They are open, free and available, but you have to deserve them; unless you deserve them, they don’t come to you.
something, typically money, that is owed or due : I paid off my debts | a way to reduce Third World debt.
• the state of owing money : the firm is heavily in debt.
• [usu. in sing. ] a feeling of gratitude for a service or favor : we owe them a debt of thanks.
be in someone’s debt owe gratitude to someone for a service or favor.
SAG is a good film – that could have been 30mins shorter than the editor imagined it to be worth. What’s it about? Good Q. I can’t really say. It comes across as a criticism of the (apparently harsh) education system that prevails in India. That (apparently) shouldn’t have been in parentheses. It does prevail; the education system. Yes, we have problems. Yes students commit suicides because they are under immense pressures. There must be however, something good about this education system. There must be some reason that the IITians and the IIMians (are they called that?) are successful in a walk of life that you can put a finger on. Three years ago I talked of a dance that wasn’t hugely entertaining. In my personal opinion, we have an education system that is unparalleled; the only thing we are missing is acknowledgement of aptitude.There are careers apart from engineering, medical and accounting & finance. And people can excel in fields other than these three contrived ones. Sports – Sachin Tendulkar. Social Services – Medha Patkar. Fashion – Manish Malhotra. Politics (Pick your name, or leave it blank, who cares?). Point is, if we choose to be successful, we can be.
gratitude |ˈgratɪtjuːd| noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness : she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, or from medieval Latin gratitudo, from Latin gratus ‘pleasing, thankful.’
But coming back to SAG, to my mind, it has got nothing to do with the problems of education system that is prevalent in this country. We aren’t missing the content – we are missing the context. There is a repetitive dialogue in the movie about the multiplication of 17×7. It’s 119, by the way. Why is 17×7 important or not? What’s the context of the date of the first fort that C. Shivaji captured? Nothing really, if you are anyways going to leave the country and work for an Enron-like-company in the US. You would be better off knowing facts about the Civil War, if at all.
appreciation |əpriːʃɪˈeɪʃ(ə)n| |-sɪ-|
1 the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something : I smiled in appreciation | she shows a fine appreciation of obscure thinkers.
• gratitude for something : they would be the first to show their appreciation.
• a piece of writing in which the qualities of a person or the person’s work are discussed and assessed.
• sensitive understanding of the aesthetic value of something : courses in music appreciation.
2 a full understanding of a situation : they have an appreciation of the needs of users | the bank’s lack of appreciation of their problems.
3 increase in monetary value : the appreciation of the franc against the dollar.
It’s always about context. Content, you see, is a eunuch, if not in context. Context gives content balls. So what’s the problem of knowing the ATP cycle by heart? I didn’t know why. Let us say I had a choice in choosing what I learnt. Here’s what I would choose: Process of making an FIR at a police station and the fact that an FIR is made in the local language, always; that when my car is dead and people are pushing it, I need to move it in the second gear; co-operative society laws; how to apply for a passport; content law, so that I wouldn’t buy a PS3 that discriminates against Indian buyers; and a million more things that make sense.
acknowledgment |əkˈnɒlɪdʒm(ə)nt| (also acknowledgement)
1 acceptance of the truth or existence of something : there was no acknowledgment of the family’s trauma.
2 the action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something : he received an award in acknowledgment of his work.
• the action of showing that one has noticed someone or something : he touched his hat in acknowledgment of the salute.
• a letter confirming receipt of something : I received an acknowledgment of my application.
3 (usu. acknowledgments) an author’s or publisher’s statement of indebtedness to others, typically one printed at the beginning of a book.
But, really, lets come back to SAG. Mahesh Manjrekar wanted this to be a movie bout the ills of the education system that permeate and allegedly threaten our future. While he may have wanted to to also talk of the implications that these have on our society; he probably succeeded with an audience like me.
As people who learn – whatever – we have only one [insert the word that I am yet to find; which is close to but not "obligation"] to the system.
To the parent.
Not to teachers or to the system; but to the parent; if you haven’t realised it as yet; the tallest pillar of the education system in India, at least, is the parent. It doesn’t matter if you have become what your parent(s) wished you to be.
What matters is that they thought that you were the one who would change the world. It doesn’t quite matter if you aren’t the Einstein that they imagined. What matters is the height of their belief. What matters is that we have to achieve only a few inches of the height that they imagined. You see, I have come to believe that they only thought of the ultimate success that we could achieve. Unfortunately they could only think in the limited context that was available to them. It was our problem – that we were pulled into that narrow context. We may not be the doctor or the engineer or the IFS officer that they saw in us. But the day we forget and become blind to the star that they saw in us; we have committed injustice to the purest of dreams and sacrifices.
Have you reached here (in the post)? I commend you. This is the kind of post that never is read. Just like the dream of a parent. Never mind the profession your parent wanted to be in; deep down; only because your parent did not know better, all he (or she) wanted you to be is happy an successful.
1 a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements : the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor.
• the state of being admired in such a way : his first chance in over fifteen years to regain respect in the business.
• due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others : respect for human rights.
• ( respects) a person’s polite greetings : give my respects to your parents.
2 a particular aspect, point, or detail : the government’s record in this respect is a mixed one.
Talk to them if they are alive or pay homage, if they aren’t. Tell them, that their dreams and yours have become one, and they are on their way. Tell them that their dreams and yours – have understood each other. The content of the dream isn’t important, the context is – and given that they were a generation before you; they will understand.
Some messages travel at the speed of light; and they traverse universes. Say it, today.
The good thing about wandering is that you never know what you pick up on the way. Especially when you wander without agenda.
On one such wandering I picked up a prayer.
Our default prayers are those that our parents taught us, to acquire all the goodness in this world. It took most of us quite a while to edit that prayer and add our own specifics, clauses and caveats to it. Some of us let go of the prayer altogether.
One word, it’s meaning, has eluded me for a while: intention.
I have used it many times in life; I now feel, I used it loosely. This possibly stems from the lack of proof, in some way. When you intend (for, or to do) something, that is all you do. It is, as it appears to me, an orphan word. Though it is born of a desire or a wish and it dies with the action that makes the intention a reality, it truly belongs nowhere, and to no one when it exists.
Like raw, unharnessed power, perhaps?
This one prayer, I picked up recently caused a mental feud of what an intention is, really and at the same time asking me, if I have ever really wondered what a prayer really is – and what I do when I pray. Enough has been proven about the science of the power of suggestion, and perhaps all prayers are just that. Some prayers, like the one I discovered are elaborate and elegant; some are crude while being beautiful. And whatever their form and quality maybe, they serve the same purpose: statement of an intention.
However, whatever the nature of their composition and presentation, a prayer cannot be a transaction. A transaction has a shelf-life, which ends when the transaction is complete. And a single prayer cannot be reused for another transaction, because then the specifics would change.
So, is a prayer just a statement of intention of a continuous purpose? Compare, “I need to touch an average of 500 page views on my blog in the next three months”, with, “Let there be a continuous abundance of readers on my blog.” This is obviously a bad example, for it sounds frivolous. But, I suppose it serves the purpose of explaining one defining characteristic of a prayer.
But then who is to fulfil the prayer, be it the one about the page views or of the abundance of visitors. Because the prayer is only a message, and without an addressor or an addressee the message is an unmarked envelope gathering dust somewhere.
But there is no addressee.
There isn’t “someone out there” who actually takes up the job of fulfilling your prayers. And it makes sense that no one entity is taking that responsibility, else it would be a conflict management issue — attempting to fulfill prayers from around the world. Our prayers are addressed to ourselves — only a reinforcement of intention then, of dedicating to the action that fulfills the intention.
दरारें-दरारें है माथे पे मौला
मरम्मत मुकद्दर की कर दो मौला।
A friend who doubles as my Urdu consultant and dictionary was not very pleased with the word for “repair” in this song. I was asking a question that wasn’t relevant to this line, yet she had to make known, her displeasure (which, of course did sound more like disapproval, then).
Why, I asked?
The word repair is so incongruent with the word destiny, she said. I ran far and wide in the dark corridors of my mind to find a response. She is very strong in her language and I didn’t want to sound Urdu-illiterate (though I am). Unable to find any argument worth deploying at that time, I let go.
Only to get back to her later, i.e today afternoon.
I asked her the proper meanings of the words मरम्मत (marammat) and मुकद्दर (muqaddar). Confirmed, that they meant repair and destiny, respectively. She added, vividly remembering our conversation from two weeks ago, that the choice of words came across as unsophisticated; it wasn’t incorrect and neither did it damage the context of the message.
I have come to love the song since I first heard it, on a promo on TV. This song, if you haven’t guessed (or do not read Devanagari or the font hasn’t rendered well on your browser) is the song “Arziyaan”, from Delhi 6 [IMDB] [Official]. Since the incongruent comment from my consultant, I have been thinking a lot about this song; the love for it, however, growing and the interest strong as ever, if not more.
Today morning, I thought about the song, and this line in particular. Whilst allowing myself broad and loosely worded poetic license, I thought:
Fissures, fissures deep, etched on my forehead,
Fill them, fix them; repair my destiny, oh Lord!
I was wondering of the person who approaches God with a damaged, broken destiny. I wondered of myself in places of worship. How I have prayed, other than the prayers and the chants I have been taught, when I really wanted to reach out. I remember, when younger, I wasn’t thinking straight, I once prayed in English. It was a request-prayer of sorts. All the way back from the temple, I was gripped by a cold doubt; would my prayers be answered? What if He doesn’t accept prayers in English? What if He gives preference to prayers in the local dialect? I have been to temples where I saw folks engaged in vigourous and involved rituals. The environment and the perceptive belief system that I grew up in, caused some sense of insecurity — till such time I stopped going to temples and places of organised worship for the sake of prayer (I now visit them as a student of architecture and a tourist).
I (think I) understand my friend’s mild annoyance at the choice of the words. This is a poem and in the language employed, there is infinite scope to make things beautiful – effortlessly. Part of the annoyance probably comes from what we are accustomed to listening. Asking the Lord to “repair your destiny”, I agree, is unconventional prayer. However, there is a raw, unconstrained honesty in the request. That, to me encompasses all the beauty possible in a prayer. Devoid of convention, bereft of formulations, empty of sycophancy. I also imagine the state of the devotee — the pain and numb helplessness, where only restoration of destiny will help. Imagine the state, also, when there is only one who is capable of the repair. In many ways, it makes you experience the same that the singer is expressing.
There aren’t many songs I pay attention to, but my good friend, caused me to dwell on this for a long while and forced me to find and make meaning of what I hear with such joy. That is, perhaps, God’s way of answering prayers, through friends. When reduced to their minimalist state, all prayers are questions and all blessings are answers.
There is much beauty in this song; made delicate and pure, because of the unsophisticated presentation.
On a regular day, armed with a list of things-to-do, you don’t carry your camera. Not because you don’t expect anything worthwhile to capture, but because you think you will not find the time to capture. In and out of shops and such, where will you find the time to take photos?
And because you aren’t a tourist, it doesn’t occur to you naturally so, that you are going to a place where there may be something worthwhile capturing.
A big mistake. BIG.
A rainbow, comes unannounced and can come anywhere. And you will hate yourself if you miss capturing it. Well, doubly so, if you saw two rainbows at the same time.
PS: always useful to have her camera phone handy.
Good things come out of sacrifice. Toil. Perspiration and hard work. What use; an easy life, what use; lack of struggle. In fact they even insist that a good artist is born only out of pain. Only those that have seen pain, experienced it — become good artists.
Endure, you must, else there is no glory.
Then someone finds out — there is nobody to fight against; nothing to fight against. No one disagrees, nothing is a hindrance. What we are doing is right and everything seems to be in order.
“This is your mind playing games; this is the invisible enemy!”, they cry! Your mind is your own enemy. You have to bring the enemy to the fore. You have to fight. For nothing is gained in an easy life. Doctrine.
So we fight. We toil, we believe we are fighting something, what it is, we may see if and when we kill it; overcome it. We make things difficult and pat each other for every difficult step we take, recognising the hard work we do, against ourselves, the invisible enemy.
I sacrificed too. Sixteen drafts before I wrote this one. Sixteen posts of possible expression were converted to a state of nothingness by this cruel index finger of mine that clicked the “yes” without as much a second thought.
This was a difficult post. And I am getting there.
I willed the bus to go faster.
I wasn’t in a hurry, the couple, standing in the space for the buggies and the wheelchair, really needed to be elsewhere. Eventually, they got down. I was happy. For them and for me. I wouldn’t need to count tile-flakes on the bus floor, avoiding eye-contact.
I was reminded of “Duncan”, by Paul Simon:
Couple in the next room
bound to win a prize:
they’ve been going at it all night long!
Well, I’m tryin’ to get some sleep
but these motel walls are cheap:
Lincoln Duncan is my name,
and here’s my song, here’s my song.
It was an interesting day, I had had. One thing led to another and all that we were led to, was proof of life; tomorrow was worth all the troubles of today.
One exciting and animated conversation was aborted when we arrived at Victoria. People must have been watching me, my mate was probably relieved at seeing the doors open (for me) at Victoria. Thirty-six free newspapers lay on the floor on the connecting tube on my way home. News isn’t the purpose anymore – when most people don’t pay for news. The problem with free, is the problem of choice – the lack of it. Paper is environmentally friendly, waste it as you please. Waste anything that’s bio-degradable.
A fellow blogger and I have had arguments about translations. Which reminded me, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Mahalaxmi Iyer’s song, “Bol Na Halke Halke” is in-translatable. Yet there was this question of how I would tell you the experience of that moment.
I wouldn’t dare translate it in English. Watch it.
If you don’t know the language, just think of the moon, its light, how you would steal it; light threads on a beautiful night, of being shy, in your lover’s arms, speaking softly, kissing softly. Trading all night with the currency of dreams, how two-three words took ages to be uttered, their simplicity not withstanding. Perhaps, asking her why I took so long to say the most simplest of the phrases – I love you. She saying, I always knew.
But, suffice it, for now, that even a tomb is a possible sign of love. A signature. The final expression of a love that has been and will remain forever. I have seen many benches in parks in the UK that I have treated with respect. So small in structure, so heavy in expression.
So, while, “Bol Na Halke Halke” (Say it, softly, softly) rings in my ears, I pick on of the thirty-six newspapers on the floor. The newspaper is an instant flashing view of the world around me. Personally, I have been too disappointed with newspapers to give them any credit. Yet, out of habit, I pick this one newspaper that survives on advertisements – and sells for nought.
The world in your two hands for nought.
“Britney must survive on GBP 745 a week”
“LA gangs come to London”
Then an advertisement at the bottom of the newspaper: “YOU could be the next Mayor of London!”
I am immune. Another fellow blogger wonders why I never comment on her posts. She writes about things that are socially relevant – to you and me. To the world that we live in. She makes sense. Perhaps she may understand, now. 2 billion pounds is the amount that, “Churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith communities” contribute to the economy. (We are talking only UK here)
I am 22 pages past, “The God Delusion.” I have to stop. The book questions my ‘acquired beliefs” and those that I held as true.
Just below the above excerpt, a model admits she is “addicted to cheeseburgers – and that’s the real reason she quit Los Angeles to return home.”
Why does Britney have to survive on $1500 a week? Father now controls her spending, but they did allow her to have a credit card, “so she can have her freedom and make choices about how to enjoy her life.” Right. She earns the money, you get to control it. And only because her behaviour is unacceptable. When you buy your next CD – you know who is getting the money. Be aware, small changes around us. Like Britney? Pay her father. She doesn’t deserve it, the immoral calf. A moral code. Your moral code. Her father’s moral code. The social code.
It is 31 degrees C in Goa, India. The heat is on. Scarlett Keeling’s murder. They covered it, we covered, they were negligent, we screwed up, they screwed up, let’s have intellectual fog in 31 degrees. Fog. Any fog is nice.
Responsibility. Rather assignment of responsibility. What is responsibility? Who is?
Brian Paddick promises not to have high rises in London. Ken promises more. Ken promises cycles for free (first 30mins only) in London. Green. Whatever happened to the phrase – paint the town red. We will soon see a different colour. Let’s borrow two bikes for 30 mins. Let’s paint the town green. Cities yearning to be a village.
I am now a believer. I wasn’t, before. I believe: global warming is a serious problem. It is a problem of extreme magnitude. The amount of attention we give to this problem obscures the real problems. Poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, disparity, urban crowding, cultural misunderstanding, and such. Global warming affects us all. It blinds us to the real problems that truly affect us all.
Budget is due – the highlight – it is a green budget. “Despite fears that voters are losing interest in eco-friendly issues, he [Alistair Darling] will target high-street chains such as John Lewis in the greenest ever budget.” Oh, and of course, “Above-inflation rises on cigarettes and alcohol.”
The new open-source toy that we discovered. Open and indifferent to abuse. “3m – the amount of plastic waste (in tonnes) generated annually in the UK.”
But enough about the newspaper. Your newspaper doesn’t look any different. And you know so, yet we fight about issues.
The mood is discordant. The music in my ears, “Bol Na Halke Halke” (now on repeat) is incongruent with the world I live in. I see movies like “Love, Actually” and the next morning I step into a different world. I have been to Heathrow more times than I have ever taken a flight. (here is some trivia for you – I have never been received at Heathrow) I have my own scenes of people meeting their loved ones (think: last scene of Love, Actually) and that has been far better than the ‘voice-overed’ scenes of the film as true as they may be. Yet, the constant “will destroy your unattended luggage; don’t smoke here; report suspicious items” announcements are as real as the tears of the grandmother seeing her grandchild for the first time. Believe me, 99% of people I receive at the airport turn up 45 minutes later than they are supposed to. I get to see many scenes. So many scenes of people meeting people as they cross boundaries.
We know all is real. All is important. Why this dissonance? How do we survive this simultaneous irony? Did we miss something? Something important?
In an effort to set the world right, we are living in a world that is terribly going wrong.
PS: Earlier bouts occurred here
Of being friends: One of my best friend is a friend for twenty-two years. In the last decade or so, we have hardly met, geography has had its toll on us, relegating our keeping in touch to the odd email and the even rare phone call. In fact, there’s five of them, since twenty-two years. Another friend, for nineteen years, and another for ten years this December. Hell, we don’t see each other for a few years in between. Only one of them is on my Facebook. We never celebrated x years of knowing each other.
Of celebrations: More often than not, they are silent; inside. You may notice an odd closed fist punched in the air with the accompanying “yesss!”, but that is a fraction of the number of times I celebrate on the inside. I am not a sucker for festivities – however I love being in the midst of festivals for all the grandeur and sense of belonging they bring (the food is an added bonus). There always seems to be a compulsion to celebrate events, more to make a statement than anything else.
Of social standards: It has been a while, but I am now able to ignore social conventions and impositions – to an extent. Difficult, but I manage. If it doesn’t agree with my sense of being, I don’t do it. It obviously creates conflicts and I guess, over time I have learnt to deal with those too. To live in an acceptable way became difficult for me a long time ago. The training since those days has served me well.
What happened in ten years? A lot, obviously, but nothing that is spectacularly notable. But for all that did happen (and not), I am grateful. I feel good inside. A long celebration; an almost never ending carnival of happiness happily makes its way through me.
No, not the same as mushy-peas-like movie but a small corner eatery in Southall in West London. I am intrigued that a movie title can inspire a restaurant’s name. Especially a movie like this one. Yes, the banner imitates the colours and all.
It’s Friday evening, and a friend who we haven’t seen for nearly a year calls, “What are you up to tomorrow?” I’d have liked to say I was busy making millions, but then I believe in work-life balance, so I said, “Not much, why?”
“You want to have Indian Chinese tomorrow?”
“Sounds good.” I hate Chinese. The food, I mean. Better half loves it, which works for me, because I can always make her eat half of whatever I eat. So she eats one and a half and I eat half. Better. Better half.
“Southall, Salaam Namaste, how about lunch there, tomorrow?”
“Will be there.”
I realised after I had put down the phone that, other than the fact that I knew that I was to go to place in Southall tomorrow, called Salaam Namaste, which was a ten-minute walk from Southall station, I had no idea what I had agreed too. But nowadays, I don’t hyper-tense myself with such things. As long as my Internet connection is working, i.e. Google. “Salaam Namste Southall”
God comes before Google. Even in a dictionary.
The place we are supposed to go to is a Hyderabadi joint! I reaffirm my faith and tell him that I do believe, when I said I didn’t, those were the usual tiffs, you know… No hard feelings, believe me.
Armed with the knowledge that I don’t necessarily have to eat Indian Chinese or British Chinese or any Chinese for that matter, we happily changed two buses and got there in good time, thanks to Google Maps UK. (The post code system used in the UK is one legacy, I wish they had left behind in our districts)
I haven’t had pesarettu for about 15-odd years.
Imagine my eyes were salivating (oh, come on you get the idea) when I see the laminated menu, like a typical Udipi in Mumbai:
And then the next Section:
A Vision of India!
And while my friends are going though the Chilly Chicken section, I spot Pesaretu. God exists in Southall, apart from Hyderabad, i.e.. I’ll leave it to your fertile imagination, our orders for the day. Lest, you have runaway imagination, suffice it to say I did eat Egg Fried Rice with Chicken Schezwan.
Small place, but Salaam | Namaste is full of love and good food, appealing to the salt and spice sensitive tastes that most of us have.
If you aren’t a snob for the ambience and décor of a place, this is true-blue Indian food! Even, Indian Chinese, just like the Chinese-impersonating-Nepali-cooking-Indian-Chinese-food-on-a-“thela” in Mumbai.
The Idli is fab and the Pesarettu was blessed by Himself.
A few years ago, I attended a Pujo, which was being organised by a friend. He is a quintessential Bong, with one exception, that is perhaps his defining character – he doesn’t eat fish. In fact he quite hates seafood and I don’t believe it has anything to do with the delicacy of his constitution.
The idol was in it’s grand splendour and I was spellbound by the vision of the Devi. By itself, such imagery can evoke some strong feelings of contemplation. I had a chance to get closer to the idol, my friend being the organiser and all, and he introduced me to his uncle. An old person, with a twinkle in his eye. More friends joined in, in an attempt to get closer to God. I stood away, the spell of the vision and the environment, lurking heavy on my head. My organiser-friend walked up to me and asked me what the matter was. I said I didn’t know, just that I seemed to be overwhelmed. It was, perhaps, I said that this is the first time I ever attended a ‘true’ Pujo. I also mentioned, in a muttering manner, that I was overwhelmed. He smiled, he has this uncanny way of smiling, a unique one when he thinks he knows what you are thinking about. It isn’t rocket science, but I have seen him smiling proudly in such instances. He pointed to his twinkly-eyed uncle, and said:
“I was speaking with him a while ago, before all of you came. I think I know why you are overwhelmed.”
“There is an amazing metaphor in what you see, you are experiencing that, yet the ability to decipher it, is what overwhelms you.”
“You see the demon being slain at the feet of the Goddess? That’s our ego. When we pray to the Goddess, in effect we praying to her to help us slay our demons – one of them just happens to be our ego.”
“So all the imagery here is a metaphor? Of sorts?”
I smiled back at him. He did the same. He seemed to be glad that I approved. The rest of the friends came to wish him and our conversation never went any further.
Since that day, I have yet to attend a Pujo. No reason.
A couple of months ago, I happened to see India’s latest entry for the Academy Awards. Eklavya. A large section of the film hinges on a dilemma in interpretation of the philosophical premise taken from the Mahabharat, which is Bhishma‘s, about the interpretation of something as complex as Dharm. Basically, Bhishma says that Dharm is that which appeals and feels right to the mind (the intellect or the conscious mind). (Read this article by A. V. Srinivasan, especially the fifth and sixth paragraph). For those of you who have studied Vedic Philosophy more than I have (or know Sanskrit more than I do), you know that I am over-simplifying it. I know I am. There is a much larger context to the dialogue, which I am not presenting.
Hopefully it won’t dilute the thought I am wrestling with.
Making meaning is difficult – a common meaning, especially. A standard meaning that most of us can take as a premise and argue about. What, for example, did the bleeding demon under the feet of the Goddess really represent? Was it ego? Was it weakness? Was it fear? Was it a single representation of all that I wish to conquer? Was Ramayan a story of morality or obedience? Or, deep down, was it a love story? A tragic one at that. In your mind, who would you qualify the real villain of the story? Was it Ravan, who caused such distress and war or was it that dhobi (laundry-man) who made a arbitrary statement about the character of Ram and Sita. In pop-culture, you notice many references to Ravan; hardly any references to moral laundry-man.
All words I have heard all my life about the interpretation and meaning of Godliness whiz past me like sub-atomic particles in the quest of anti-matter. The question, however, isn’t about God.
All stories have been relegated to just that – stories. The premise, the dilemma, the philosophy, the context, the essence – the meaning of stories has been pushed hard, back into deeper recesses where we may not touch them, where we may never experience them.
And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
And I dreamed I was flying
It has happened many times before, but, then I only sensed the immense physical experience of it all. Felt the body, not the soul. That one evening was different wasn’t it?
I saw her briefly on the first day, I felt her near me. In her usual glory, she smelt of her untiring belief in tomorrow, her today, busier than she yesterday did. It was nice touching down at New York. That small fling, that long moment of yearning and the longer one that will be, of nostalgia.
Globalisation, the way the pundits speak about – has nothing to with countries, civilizations or people. It is a one big world in your head. The search is all inside. Violate the laws of anatomy and physics – twist and twirl your eyes inward and see inside – if your eyes strain to make meaning – then you haven’t seen anything.
Tom & Jerry are ubiquitous. It is not a cartoon show – it is the raw philosophy of communication and its misdoings. I saw, I didn’t need a TV to see Tom & Jerry. Sex & the City is a different version in the US.
I saw a country in untainted colour – without the tarnished colour of propaganda. I saw the colour as nature intended it to be. I saw humans without them being necessarily tagged by a country.
When the face of poverty becomes an intellectual discussion in an art gallery, the intellectuals miss the point. Poverty is pure and non-aligned in all respects; its misgivings are its own – they aren’t the shameful asset of any country or people. Poverty is as artistic as the ugly child who isn’t allowed to meet the guests.
I missed her more than ever before. More than I realised and even more than I could tell her.
Hospitality is now able to make a clear statement that you are unwelcome. That was a new one for me. Guests are coloured now. What happened to “cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests?”
Insecurity expresses itself in a seating pattern. Think about it.
There was a Celestine conspiracy to ensure that we got to where we were supposed to get. When you have only 15 minutes to board your connecting flight, it intervenes and the flight now leaves at 4PM instead of the scheduled 2:45PM. I love the game that devil and the divine play – the human is the bacon strip between the wholemeal and the white bread. I hate being that human.
Eventually, money doesn’t matter.
I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Yet, every evening it comes to bed with you in the hope that you will nurture it, make love and make it feel alive again. Such a passionate love that is, it lingers every minute of the day.
Boston. I love it, what can I say.
In one corner in the heartland I saw hope. There is still a small space for the new minorities in an otherwise monotonous world of imposed beliefs. That I got to get to this corner because of a non-believer was a small triumph.
I saw death too. A slow, incomplete death of fear. I left it to rot on the side of Mass Pike.
Food is only as good or as bad as you imagine it to be. Taste is not an attribute of the tongue, it is an attribute hidden in your mind. Open your mental taste buds and you can experience a different world.
I’ll be back home the day after. That sounds really funny now. Even more than it did before.
Every moment was bloggable, yet I shall let it be. All’s well in the land of Gaizabonts.
The first time I was meaningfully exposed to tolerance was in an electronic manner. I was learning to put together radios and stuff and had to learn a lot about resistors, capacitors and transistors. Funny, these components, even devoid of the electronics context, are so meaningful.
I learnt putting together radios too early, so I can’t put radios together anymore, all is forgotten. I can however, still turn on a radio and choose a station I like. And I am content with that. But I remember what tolerance meant, as a concept. Wiki now tells me it is permissible limit of variation. I agree – that’s close to what I remember.
I saw the NEFA post this morning, even before I saw the news feeds. I read the other linked posts.
Somehow, I thought of Set Theory, they teach it at a very early age nowadays – my six-year old niece knows that apples are not oranges but both are fruits. They use baskets and real things, instead of Venn Diagrams. But I digress.
In my own mind tolerance is mute acceptance of a thingy without experiencing high levels of disgust. Silence, you see has myriad meanings. Something snaps when that disgust level is achieved. My teacher could tolerate the lack of attention in my class, but she could not tolerate my argument with my friend about Batman’s superiority over Superman. I remember it like yesterday, “I will not tolerate this behaviour in class.” Out I went of the class! In that, was my first exposure to the T-word, but a meaningful exposure came much later. Electronics: trying to get some signal out of a radio. Then in college, we had a Professor, who oh-so-well explained tolerance, and said “OK” in a reassuring manner, every other fifth word. This time, there were numbers and Greek symbols surrounding the resistors, capacitors and transistors. We needed calculators because from being a concept, it was now real. If that dull diode didn’t light up or lethargic needle on the ammeter didn’t move, someone in the chain was being intolerant, or obtuse, I thought. Rather than calculate and get the right number, we adjusted the current or the voltage or something so that the dim diode could redeem this world of darkness. You see, we tolerated the damned diode. Don’t be getting all technical on me – I don’t remember a thing we did in the lab. I just know that we did something and that darned diode did light up. Sixteen years on I still have nightmares about getting that drowsy diode to light up or the potassium permanganate to pipette out colour in that insipid beaker.
But the concepts stuck. They stuck hard.
Like Set Theory. And set theory is probably another way to describe intolerance (or tolerance). There aren’t just those few faiths any more, you know? X tolerates Y, but doesn’t tolerate Z. There is a plethora of variables now. A single person has multiple faiths. Faith is no more limited only to religion; it is also about lifestyle choices; it is also about standards and values.
What is the tolerance threshold for two people of the same religious faith, one of who smokes and the other doesn’t. Do they tolerate each other because of the same religion or are intolerant because of the lifestyle choice? Add another person and another religion. Permute. Where is the intersection? Add another person; we now have four, add another lifestyle – food choices – organic and non (believe me, this will soon become a faith by itself, if it hasn’t already). Complicate it just a bit by saying that Person A and Person D do the same job but have different standards and values that they attribute to work. Permute and combine. Calculate. How do you depict the Venn Diagram? What are the possibilities and which one of them will hold true? Does the context in which the possibilities occur make a difference?
It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that we now have multiple variables, and the permissible limits are lesser.
Of the splurge three days ago, one book winsomely managed to snuggle in between two other books I am reading (and haven’t finished yet).
It is not often that book comes and shakes you awake from the slumber of everyday usualness. I don’t mean those changes clanging about around you morphing your personality into some future permanence. No I don’t mean books like Atlas Shrugged. I mean the gentle awakening in the morning, where you do choose to take the sheets off your eyes and take the pain to open you eyes to the light that beckons. Perhaps walk over to the balcony, feel and smell the fresh air. This is a book of that genre.
I don’t review books very well. I don’t recommend books even – and for that matter I don’t take recommendations often. Books mean different things to different people, usually that meaning is inscrutable. The last time I recommended a book, my friend thought that Papillon was a general escape story; the last time I bought a book recommended by someone, I am trying hard to dispose Rich Dad Poor Dad (If no one takes it – it’s going out of the window).
Books make their own choices about you, Like AFJ
says used to say, the book chooses you.
And AFJ is the reason I bought South of the Border, West of the Sun (Haruki Murakami). I’ll admit I didn’t know that this was a title of the book until three days ago, never having even taken the pain to read her archives. (She does have a review, I find today)
When I wrote a silent prayer three days ago, I really meant it. More because I wanted to stop buying and read the few that I bought.
We all use the comment form to say what we think of posts that fellow-bloggers write. God, I guess has his own super-methods to comment on posts, with a sense of humour, even. Guess he wanted me to have a nice day – at night. It’s about half-past three in the morning here, west of the world where the sun has started the day for my love, hopefully woken her up. It is nice and bright all over – here, even while the sun is there.
In an hour I’ll see the sun here in the east, west of you, anyway! All’s nice and bright.
I like to believe in coincidences. That way it is easier to deal with happenstance than dissect and analyse the ‘bigger scheme‘ of things that we aren’t privy to.
A couple of days ago I found great food for thought (as much as I was tempted to say food for blog, I shall let the cliché survive) on Lorelle’s recent Blog Challenge post. Just the thought sounded yummy and I said so. But I had no idea what definition I would give. I had shied away from it some time ago, when I had asked the same question to a few bloggers. Blogging means a whole lot of things to me and at the time I put my comment on her post, all those meanings were happily rioting against the floodgates that barricade my otherwise unruly thoughts.
Coincide the above with: The day after I did AFJ’s tag, I thought I would give the ‘answer‘ to the tag. But no, it wasn’t meant to be. I ended up running from here to nowhere via everywhere including
WordPress WordPress Support. (The fine folks I always talk about). The problem was quickly resolved. Now, the response post wasn’t critical. At all. It could have been posted even after this post – it wouldn’t have mattered. But just the thought of not being able to post on my blog…!
Blogging doesn’t define me (and thankfully so; given the fifteen-odd blogs that I presumably “write”, I would be easily diagnosed with multiple-(and somewhat split) personality syndrome). I do, however, define blogging, and yet the definition is elusive. I talk of the kind of definition that we have all grown accustomed to.
x is y with z features.
A few of you who have been long-standing victims of my obsession with words, meanings and contexts will know my dilemma. What meaning do you ascribe to something like blogging? It is always easier, I believe, to derive meaning of multiple contexts, and blogging lends itself just fine to multiple contexts.
Blogging is spaces. It is about the spaces that we inhabit, in the world or the worlds that we create for ourselves. We believe we know our space, we are protective about it, often possessive about it. A blog becomes just that and a bit more. It allows for a meandering exploration along those in-between white spaces in between our worlds; those that we don’t often notice and hardly care for. When we are in the white space, when we see from that vantage, we see a lot of colour. There is a vigorous sense of being alive.
Blogging is fear. It is about two types of fear. One that we are able to overcome, often through anonymous blogging, a way for expressing that the otherwise imposed social rules of engagement do not allow us to. This is not floccinaucinihilipilification. Some of the best bloggers are anonymous and it doesn’t change a thing about the beauty and insight in their writing. At the same time, blogging causes fear. Well, fear is too strong a word, but after a while the material attachment to the post-count, comments, stats and therefore the readers, brings a tense sense of holding on. The blog becomes as human as we are. It has flesh and blood – and it has feelings. The cycle continues.
Blogging is judgement. Of every word that dims a few pixels on your screen. Of every post that was born of a thought that refused to disintegrate and crumble at the feet of your neurons; that insisted on being born. Of every reader who reads your post and says something, or doesn’t. Of the blog round the corner that often times does a tad better than my blog. Of the blog round the corner that often times does a tad worse than my blog. In these hallowed halls, where you become the judge and the accused in half-duplex, all is seen through a discerning eye. All is sliced up and spiced up, and given a permanent place, assigned a value.
Blogging, however, is mostly expression. An otherwise delinquent thought becomes a well-behaved angel and sits smartly in a post. And a million such, together create that wonderful experience that is not the author; the blog is seldom the author – it is the author’s projection of colourful thoughts like a festive London Eye on a moonless night, spinning at its own happy whim and in its own blissful frenzy.
And yet I haven’t done any justice to what blogging means to me. The most important context of it all; the most elusive: a blog’s cajoling nature that urges you to articulate more and articulate better (which has yet to work perfectly for me, what with the high level of abstraction that my discrete words adorn).
Ever had a dream, when you felt that you were in a deep dark abyss, falling and rising at the same time, lit up at both ends? Then you know what I mean.
A long, almost white, beard flowing down to the table. He was looking straight ahead at infinity along the plane of the half empty ale that he had apparently finished. An ornithologist perhaps or a physicist who had that question about quantum physics – a metaphysical question about the sense of existence – possibly questioning his own and of this young man who observed him in a fleeting moment as he walked past him. He is probably a photographer, I imagined – romantically seeing myself a few years from now – as much as I hate to have a bald head.
While my good friend and I were discussing the nature of conflict and delving into the past to find an answer that would somehow make us even more agitated (though that wasn’t the purpose) as the evening came to a close, in the Old Pack Horse, he seemed to be looking at the future.
Old age, we have all come to believe, looks towards the past for answers, even consolation, about the present. In this case, it seemed exactly the opposite – the young were analysing history – forming a context of the present on that basis – and looking towards multiple indeterminate futures. He seemed to be able to look towards the future just like that.
It’s not just experience – which he seemed to have loads of – that enabled looking into the future – neither is it divine intervention – an inexplicable phenomenon that allows visions into the future. It is one thing to look into the future – yet another to determine it.
On the large wooden table, the single figure, the pint glass half-filled, his ragged clothes exuding a confidence that even a Savile Row suit could not. It was some sort of a fishing jacket – the ones with more pockets than you need. From his left, through a stained glass in an ornately decorated frame, the late night sun cast hesitant shadows across his glass, made the smoke from his cigarette seem as fluid as his thoughts – shades of grey that I had never noticed. I didn’t notice his eyes; I often do not – because the face is a more comprehensive expression than just the eyes. Yet his eyes were resolute in looking to whatever he was looking at – no wavering, no blinks, no hesitation.
Is it possible that such an expansive thought can be captured in a passing moment?
There must be some reason that some images speak with you, even, if unfortunately, you don’t ever capture them on camera.
It’s like a dash – the last reserves of your energy to get there – to the ribbon. The exhilarating feel of the ribbon on the chest – in days to come: the invisible cut of the infra-red beam by the first cell of your body that severs it.
The tea-maker told me a hundred posts ago that I had cheated – and I shall indulge in such cheating once again, this time five more times than the last time. Technically, I have possibly crossed the 300th, because WordPress failed to import a few posts from February 2006. But I am neither complaining nor disclaiming. You could say I am getting better at cheating.
It’s almost a burden – when you are just a few steps away from the milestone. Better get it off you chest.
But I want to rest a while. Do things that are equally as close to heart.
I read a lot about blogging – as a phenomenon, as a tool, arguments for and against it. I talked with a few people about the meaning of it all – and their perceptions. I have questioned myself enough about the purpose – because I am a firm believer in purpose.
And I stumbled on posts like this. I found kindred spirits.
In the recent past, most of my posts have abstracted themselves out of the context in which they were conceived. I have been questioned about that. Even blamed of the potential nonsensical-ness of it all. The comments have been waning. If there is pleasure in incidents and gory details of who said what – then there is always the movie gossip magazine. I once began writing a post which now has twelve words of unfinished text after I read this post that referred to this post. I don’t think I make a difference to the world. This blog is too inconsequential to be able to do that. Most blogs are. What my blog does however, is make a difference to who I am and how I see things. It allows me to express what I think, know from others what they think about what I think. It provides me a way to fine tune my thinking. To recalibrate my notions of things. Its one thing to have a thought – a completely different to be able to express it in the right way.
A small digression here: making a difference is often not a conscious choice. It comes out of a context. Imagine Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t thrown out of a train in South Africa. It’s almost destiny; (as much as I hate to admit it) the trigger is what helps make a difference.
Those rare days, when that one spike in a WordPress blog stat graph nearly touches the sky, and yet is pulled down by the day before and the day after. The one day Gaizabonts was featured on Desipundit. It’s as my artist friend tells me – huge canvases – those are the ones that sell.
The mark of how much your blog is your personal diary vs. an expression for others to see is the number of times that you go to your blog and check the stats and your sitemeter and such. What would we be if we just spoke with ourselves – where and what would be the significance of Web 2.0?
Blogging in isolation of the world to see and respond to is a thought. I wonder then, why such blogs aren’t private. All blogging services offer that. I enjoy the adulation I get out of blogging; I won’t deny it.
30-odd years of life and only 300 thoughts in three years (and a bit) is not a call for celebration, what is, however, is that this is a beginning. 4000, perhaps in the next. Wishful thinker.
I’ll see you after a while. Maybe short, maybe long, but a while it will be.
Need, is one of the many words that has been facing ostracism of sorts, not by a faceless social decree, but by pseudo-assertive individuals. The word somehow has been burdened by a negative connotation. It is a sign of weakness. Want, probably has a more assertive (aggressive?) feel to it. I prefer the real meanings and their good use.
To be yourself and to self-express is the basic need, which we often deny in the context of the people around us. This piece here talks of how we live a life in apparent feel-good social structures that accommodate all. A resigned philosopher once told me about the law of averages: all the ups and downs don’t amount to much in life, in the end you live an average life. And I agree with this theory.
It doesn’t mean however, that you should live an average life, just because the law of averages exists.
The Homerism, “Modesty ill suits a man in need,” stands true, then.