A Matter of Faith

In almost every Indian temple, you aren’t allowed to take a photo of the main deity of the temple. Some temples allow it, but without a flash. If you have been to an Indian temple, you will have noticed that the space where the main deity resides, is dimly lit, usually by oil lamps. Taking a photograph of a the deity, in such light conditions, is usually difficult, without a flash. In my experience, this rule applies only to Indian temples. I have not sensed this, severely enforced in mosques or churches.

Why this is so, is not something I can explain. There are a couple of scientific theories about why the deities should not be photographed, but they are based on faith and belief, not hard science, as we know it. Three of my best friends are atheists. My best friend believes in Jesus, though she is not a Christian. Given my engagement with these four people, my personal (inherited; would be more proper) sense of faith is often questioned. I welcome the questions, even, if at times I have no answers. But the questions do not shake my faith. They make me seek a deeper understanding of my faith. And the faith, and its understanding, is personal.

In a recent visit to a temple I saw a couple of my friends, who were faithful take pictures of a the main deity in a temple. One of my atheist friend was accompanying us. I did not see him take photos of the main deity, but if he had, I would not be surprised. Needless to say, I offered my worship in the way I do, and moved on, to take photos of some of the wonderful sculpture that adorned that temple.

I was, I confess, slightly disturbed by the act of my believer friends taking photos of the deity. After a while we left the temple and made our way home.

Stones, layer,

*

It was one of the most beautiful drives I have had in my life. We were circumferencing a large lake, in a valley surrounded by my favourite mountain range — the Sahyadri. Small village roads, meandering along the folds of one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, a mountain road, cut across the Deccan Traps. My three companions in the car, juggling the role of the DJ; good music played. We sang along, we laughed: at each other and with each other. I was a bit preoccupied; my passengers thought it was because I had a flight later that evening; and was looking to back as soon as possible.

I was thinking of the meaning of faith. I was thinking of how I was disturbed because someone else did not follow the general belief and custom. Somewhere, in that question, I was asking myself why I was disturbed. It was not a good feeling, and I wanted to understand why I felt that.

*

All of this happened a week ago. And I cannot say that I now have a proper answer; the answer will evolve. I know this much, though: my faith, my sense of my faith is mine. It is personal. I need not seek justification for what I believe. I do not need others to practice what I believe. (For even if I could make them follow, it would be coerced; devoid of belonging) There is no science to it. In the same way that I seek answers, I have to understand that other people do too. They make their own meaning. And how we sense our answers varies from friend to friend. And it changes with time.

Faith matters. But there is no matter in faith.

Courage is no Guarantee of Victory

 

Imagine a broad street.

Got it?

Now imagine a protest of sorts. Done? Now, un-imagine the crowd that you already saw, when I said protest. Just one person, walking through the middle of the street; a flag, of no denomination; at least not the kind that would offend, fluttering, the way a flag should.

That one person will always lose, will be defeated: sheerly by her lonely presence against a mindless force. But she has options. All she has to do is not run away. Her heart beating fast of the hurting horrors to come. Of the profuse sweat that is warning her to take flight. The guarantee that she will be defeated – staring at her – menacing faces, who have no sense of sense; no feeling. And she will be defeated for sure.

Courage doesn’t guarantee victory.

Warrior Art - 13

*

Why do people with courage fight? Courage is no guarantee of victory. Why do they fight a fight that’s already lost? And what of the people who have lost courage? I see them standing, along with the courageous. Fearful, but willing to fight. Their eyes are different. They aren’t looking at the senseless soldiers waiting to annihilate them.

Those eyes tell me of a fight within. The soldiers they stand against are just a placeholder.

They’ll charge. With such shrill battle-cries that the forest begins to tremble. With nothing to lose. With battle-axes and broad-swords. They’ll crush and slash all that comes their way. Blind warriors. With each enemy soldier that they slash, mercilessly, a battle within, is being won.

Or lost.

Courage is no guarantee of victory.

Courage is a device of not giving up. Till death do me and my courage apart.

Writing Rigour

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. – Agatha Christie

That’s the headline of a blog that I have followed for a while. For a few years now, the blog has been defunct; not the blogger. I met the blogger today; very much alive. Said blogger stopped blogging a few years ago. What’s the point, she said. When she stopped blogging, she did not explicitly ask this question. I know another blogger who did the same. She perhaps was asking different questions. I actually know of a third blogger. He stopped blogging too. His question — I have no idea. He went to the extent of deleting his blog. It must have been serious.

I have, I will confess, considered not blogging. But for the life of me, I could never consider deleting my blog. Good or bad, I cannot deny that this has been an integral part of my life. That, some of the followers of my blog bring up posts from several years ago in a conversation, is reason enough. (I tried doing an April Fool gag; fell flat on my face). There was a time when I wrote words that everyone most people liked. That’s not the case, now.

Not that words are foreign. They are still mine. I recognise them just like before. Just that the way they want to be together is unlike how they’d gather like obedient children; earlier. Perhaps, I am not a shepherd of words. Perhaps words shepherd me. Perhaps, that is why some of my recent posts are shite. Or, I have lost the ability to shepherd. The shepherding, notwithstanding — the words are mine and I am of words.

We have just lost the rhythm.

All I need, is to go to the dance floor that isn’t patronized by any one any more and do my silly dance. Where no one will see me. Where neither my words, nor I will care.  Salsa with adjectives and Samba with verbs. The apocalyptic dance. One writer in the world; no reader left. Is a writer made of readers or is a writer made of writing? Will a writer write if there is no one left to read? What defines a writer? The writing, or the readers?

*

I told her today, my writing, in recent times, has achieved heights of mediocrity, not knowing, if that is a sense of achievement. But I have to write. Not because you will read. Not because you will like it. I have to write, because I have to write. Scribble.

125659: Wall Grunge

*

No writer, if she can, should give up writing. Because every writer knows one thing (even if she cannot sense it) – she and the words are one. She may walk away from words. (Words are kinda stupid; they have no emotion – they will sit where they were last sat; where words should be – is a writer’s prerogative.) But there is no leaving. Even if she never writes them – she cannot escape them.

If you can help it – do not become a writer. There is no escape. If you become a writer; welcome to the club!

Speaking to a Soul

Buildings have souls.

I have no way to prove this to you; not that I want to prove it to you. It is an experience, a sense. Some of us get it, some do not. I have always sensed a dialogue with buildings. Like, with mountains. Dialogue  is difficult to explain, when you think of it. By default it points to two voices interacting. When I speak with buildings or mountains, there is only one voice; if I choose to speak.

*

In that sense, everything is soulful. Why? One, we have never, ever definitely defined a soul. Two, why deny soulness from something that we otherwise deem soulless?

*

Mahendra, is a person who introduced me to meta. I always understood meta. So, in that sense, Mahendra didn’t do much. Over conversations with him, I discovered a philosophical sense of meta. Unlike the structural meta that I always knew and understood. Meta now meant something new. And interesting.

*

Of all the photographers that I have learnt from and respected, Candida Höfer, stands tallest. I have good reasons for it, but that would be a matter of some of my earlier or later post. She is, perhaps, also the reason, why I have not picked up a camera in a while. Why? That’s yet, another post.

Inset

The very act of picking up a camera is a chore, I told him. He smiled. Seem’s he understood. He agreed, even, over drinks that were not intoxicating. We talked for hours after that.

Couple of days ago, I posted a photo of Dorothea Lange by Elliott Erwitt on Twitter. Here’s the photo. For more, go here. Needless to say, I do not own the photo or the copyright. It’s from Magnum Photos.

USA. Berkeley, California. Photographer Elliott Erwitt 1955

I love this photograph for the use of light. That’s about how technical I will get. Because I cannot speak of photos in technical terms. Dorothea Lange took some of the most interesting photographs of people. She indulged in soul-speaking. Here’s Elliott Erwitt who took a photograph of her. What do we say of Erwitt? Erwitt was able to speak to the soul of the soul-speaker.

Most of us will look at this photograph as one of Dorothea Lange. And that’s fine. Not me. Somehow (and I do not know if it the genius of Lange or Erwitt) I see both of them in the photo. There is clearly, an interaction between Lange and Erwitt. And then, seeing Lange—the person, the soul—behind the camera that made us feel those many deep emotions with her images.

There’s a dialogue here. You could say, a complex one.

There’s speaking to a soul.

There’s No Fooling You!

So, I’ve never posted an April Fool’s gag post on this blog, ever. As far as I can remember. Earlier today I did. It fell flat! All the effort to fool you guys, couldn’t fool any of you.

Sigh. Back to regular blogging!

Gaizabonts is Dead; Long Live Gaizabonts

Is patheticity a word?

Derived from the root, “to be pathetic”?

Frankly, I don’t care. It matters not also, if any of you agree or disagree. My earlier post crossed the limit of patheticity. I asked if it was a word, because i could not find it in any of the traditional dictionaries. But, thank God for Urban Dictionaries: “Patheticity: The pure and utter state of being pathetic.

That’s the state, if you haven’t already guessed, of this blog. See how pathetic it is—I am transferring my state to the blog. That inert, complying, obedient medium which has served for over a decade. Uncharacteristic but expressive. It took anything that I threw at it and let the world know what I was thinking, feeling. It served me well for a dozen years. I am calling it pathetic.

There surely must be some limits to the depths of patheticity. I have crossed them. I am ashamed to admit that I am the one who is pathetic. I have driven words away, mauled sentences, and mocked paragraphs. I have abused these devices of expression in wild stupor; living in the sense of what once was. Every sentence I write here is a string of disconnected words that have been banished. Their absence highlights the hollowness of each letter I type.

Enough, enough now.

Expression is not the prime purpose of our life. Not that we know what the prime purpose of our life is. And when you cannot find expression (given that it is not the prime purpose of our life) – you might as well not express.

2685: Convergence

This is the last post on Gaizabonts.

It wasn’t always like this. I wrote well, once upon a time. Many people liked it, related to what I wrote. Many is relative; in my case, it means: handful. Of those handful, hardly any of the many drive around here. That is why, I am not going to delete this blog. I will just leave.

Lest you think that I am bitter—let me tell you I am not bitter. At all. I am sad, yes. So long an association is not easy to walk away from. I walk away with my feet as heavy as lead. But I have to. I cannot linger for hope in place engulfed by darkness; where light comes to me in lightening-time, and leaves me in lightening-time.

It has been a good ride. Thank you all for joining.

Maybe, we will meet, some other way. Good bye.

Gaizabonts is dead. Long live Gaizabonts.

The New Real

A friend uninstalled Twitter from his phone. He said, he wanted more time. I wish him well; I hope he finds time for the various things he is doing IRL.

1245: The Small Opening

I am, perhaps 20% right of centre. Or maybe I am 30% left of centre. There are times when I am totally centred—not giving a percent here or a percent there. I have sensed being 100% right; and there have been times when I have sensed being 100% left.

Within the 20% and the two extreme 100%s, lies my identity. I have given it a thought; and it is for you to find me. You can converse with me, only if you know where I dwell.

I will not be slave to your black and white. Almost none of you can see the shades of grey. There is a space between the extremes. Change your conversation. Good people will participate. Ask to be challenged. So that you may learn more. Be curious. Open your mind.

There is no left and right, really. It’s a circle.