A Musical Schizophrenia

There’s always one song — a crass, inelegant one. The genre doesn’t matter, the period does. Almost always this will be a song from when you were young. Perhaps in your early college days; a little more than three decades ago. (Needless to say, if you are still in college, or if you are just out; this won’t make sense to you.)

It is your favourite song. Still.

30 years ago, people around you, agreed with you. It was the best, they echoed. 30 years later, you dare not say it loud: I love this song. Most of us mature in our taste of music; some of us do not. It’s not something to apologise for. It is however, something not worth advertising.

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I may have said this before. I lost my iPod Classic during travel, a few years ago; it’s been a while. Since then, the music experience has never been the same. Music, movies, books, have to be possessed – the cloud does not cut it. Imagine painstakingly tagging over seven thousand songs in your own way, and not being able to access your music in the way that you want to.

Discontinuing the iPod Classic is the worst thing that Apple did. Not that they care, but I will never forgive them for that.

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I’ve lost my religion. I have to get back to Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. True salvation lies in their words and their strings. For me. I do not know about you.

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Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

~ Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

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My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

 

How Blue Should Be: #Anthem 17

If you have missed earlier Anthem posts, see all of them here.

~

51-SPMEH7fLThere may be people in this world who aren’t particularly fond of blue. I have, however, yet to come across someone who despises blue. It is pretty much an inescapable colour.

But how should blue really be?

There is no one answer to that question. Blue is different for all of us – whether we love blue or not. But there’s on shade that Paul Simon talks of, and it is a beautiful shade.

It’s Dazzling Blue.

I’ve always loved Paul Simon’s work, right from Tom & Jerry, Simon & Garfunkel, and later, when he was just Paul Simon. Name an emotion and there’s an S&G or a PS song for it. But Dazzling blue is different. Very different.

It’s a song of culmination, rediscovery, and existence itself. It’s love at its best.

And we wondered why, and imagined it was someday
And that is how the future came to be

There’s a timelessness to the words in this song; it is perhaps more relatable to me due to the use of the tabla. And not just the lyrics, the music is as visual as it can be.

For all the times that all of us have felt it, but never had a song, here it is.

PS: I must say, with some sadness, that the person who started this meme is not blogging anymore. But A’s A, if you are reading this, thank you!

 

Sparrow: #Anthem 14

Some of us find shelter. Some of us find it easily, for the rest it is difficult. For the rest, why it is difficult, varies. Some of us just can never find shelter.

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
“Not I,” said the Oak Tree,
“I won’t share my branches with
no sparrow’s nest,
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm
her cold breast.”

We’ve heard of the excuses. Go away, I have nothing to offer and what I may have to offer, will not work for you. A predetermined manner of avoidance.

Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
“Not I,” said the Swan,
“The entire idea is utterly absurd,
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the
other Swans heard.”

The haughty ones. The snobs. The less said, the better.

Who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving sparrow?
“Not I,” said the Golden Wheat,
“I would if I could but I cannot I know,
I need all my grain to prosper and grow.”

The apologists. Aren’t they the worst ones?

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
“I will,” said the Earth,
“For all I’ve created returns unto me,
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

The last truth. It is not the end, however. Our knowledge of a potential end guides us. But unless we knock on the doors that reject us, we will never find the place where we belong.

*

I’ve known this song for a long time. I’ve always loved it. In recent times, it has started making sense. I hope you enjoy it, as much as I have.

[Text that is right-aligned in italics, is © of one of the greatest song-writers, ever. If you would like to read about a philosophical take on this song, read this.]

The Book and I

The same wise man I referred to in my previous post is the reason I love reading. I have many books, and may I say — just like him. As I have said before, I haven’t read all the books I own. I’ve seen books go out of print, in my lifetime, so buying them while they are available makes good sense. It’s, what has been called an anti-library.

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As I have grown, I have toned down my belief in books that are life-changing. There was a time I believed that. Apart from God himself (or herself, as the case may be), I believed Richard Bach and Paul Simon to be Gods. Perhaps, I still do, but I don’t pay as much attention to them. Amit recently shared a trailer of a documentary on Richard Bach. I liked it, but I am not sure I want to see it. God may, indeed, be a human.

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Our Prime Minister, in a recent public address, exhorted us citizens to read biographies of great people. I took it up with some seriousness. And I am glad, I did. I am more than half-way reading a biography of a great person, and it is inspirational, to say the least. It is changing how I think. In a nice way.

113508: Kalilah-wa-Dimnah (Panchatantra in Arabic)

Kalilah-wa-Dimnah (Panchatantra in Arabic)

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I have recently developed a phobia of publicly claiming books that I am currently reading. I discovered, I end up not finishing that book. And this is backed up by personal empirical evidence. So, this particular book that I am reading, will show up after I have read it. I am more than half-way through it. A little over 600 pages.

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Superstitions, and all.

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Books aren’t life-changing by themselves. We are influenced by what we read, learn, and assimilate. There may be an impressively life-changing book and we may ignore all that it has to offer us. Or we may find meaning in the trashiest of all books. And while Amit (yup, same guy as above) said this in a different context, I think its pertinent to this post:

It’s a sorry state of affair, two misdirected iconoclasts going after each other when they have a lot of common foes to go against, and common ground to build on. Good literature is beyond language. So is shitty literature. And thank [G]od for that! We’re richer because of the vernaculars, and because of IWEs. [Indian Writing in English] Give me more, not less … [Emphasis, and [Edits], Mine]

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And while I have not been able to do justice being a member of a library, I am glad that they are doing a wonderful job of spreading the love of the written word. In an inimitable way.

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Grudge not the unread book. Each one of them has something to say. It’s just foreplay for now. Those inanimate pages will express themselves, when the time is right.

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Meanwhile, embrace what you are reading. May there be a union of what you seek and what is on offer.

True Love: #Anthem 6

A couple of years, and this song will be fifty years old.

C. 2007, when I was living in London, an unsocial person I know, was working somewhere in Eastern Europe. I call him a person, because he is more than a friend, more than a brother. I do not have a word for what our relationship is. Something like this song from Khamoshi.

It’s just a feeling, experience it with your soul, let love be love, do not give it any other name. (YouTube: This is not the #Anthem Song of this post)

I have traditionally been a Mukesh and a KL Saigal fan. In the last few years, I have tended to become choice-less, and perhaps, this Anthem is at fault. There was a party at my place, I remember. He was supposed to attend the party. Unfortunately this person took a flight into Gatwick and (obviously) reached when the party was over. He came home, when I was cleaning up. However, for me, and for him, a new party started at 1AM.
Alone Again

Paul Simon is one of our many glues.

After he had been fed and hydrated, he asked me to play a song. I said, I didn’t have it. YouTube to the rescue. I had, obviously heard the song before. I rediscovered it that night, around 3AM.

An entire night was spent talking about this song. Of the views that this song has on YouTube, we have contributed the most. It was playing in a loop till the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere, in that late-night and early-morning, in the dense conversation about this one song, we discovered ourselves, while we rediscovered this song.

It’s a love song, needless to say. But it’s a love song with a twist. For those of you do not understand Hindi/Urdu, I highly recommend this translation.

As I move towards finishing the Anthem Challenge that Paul proposed, I am not sure if I am doing justice. But these songs do work like an Anthem for me. And I’ll go by the comment that Paul left, on one of the anthems—the songs are my anthems. This song is one of them. I play it rarely. When I do, it is an orchestra of emotions.

The Layered Love Song: #Anthem 4

There’s no such thing as a romantic.

Wait. Scratch that.

There’s no one way to say if someone is romantic or not. Like so many other things in this world, there’s no single, commonly accepted characteristic of a romantic. Every romantic is different. I think you get the idea.

*

I was introduced to Paul Simon, way back in school, by a friend who isn’t a friend anymore. If we start delving into the purpose of someone’s life in our life, I guess he fulfilled his purpose. But, thankfully, this post is not about that, or him!

I am a bit surprised that the first post of the Anthem series was not about Paul Simon. He is my favourite musician, singer, and songwriter of all times. When I take time and think why his song didn’t feature earlier in this series, it is actually easy. Almost all of his songs would end up featuring as an anthem, by the nature of this series.

This one’s a love song.

In the sense that it is a song of love. It is not a love song in the sense that it expresses love for someone. It does not glorify love. It does not venerate a loved one. If you ask someone else, they may say it is a sad song. Perhaps. Quite a few fans may say, it autobiographical. Perhaps. I’ve been listening to his songs since the mid-eighties and I long gave up trying to find the exact meaning of his songs.

But then, Paul Simon is a stellar songwriter.

There’s never a single layer in anything he creates. I always think of him a weaver of emotions and leaves it to you to feel whatever you feel. He is a true artist in that sense — the kind I like — who allows the audience their own meaning: meanings, actually. In terms of the number of times I have played this song, it may not amount to much. When I think of the number of times I have felt this song, however, this song for me is an anthem, in every sense. This song has been with me more than thirty years and it is the most evocative song of love — it’s full of love and bereft of lovers, if that makes any sense. To me, it makes perfect sense.

Here’s the aptly titled song, which I carry in my heart and feel it in my bones.

 

The Same Frame

The one on the left is due for new glasses (or lenses, if you prefer; given that they are synthetic, perhaps lens is better word), so off it goes today for refitting. The one on the right is an old one, which will be my frame for a couple of days.

IMG 4384

I’ve been using the left one for a while now, so this thick heavy frame is causing all sorts of trouble. It’s heavier and bulkier. I did use this one for over a year, but now I am not sure how I did. It’s quite irritating, especially the thick rims, which obstruct my view. Or, perhaps, I am now just too used to the rimless one. And of course, I have no idea of what’s fashionable. Are thick frames still cool?

The new glasses are just not replacements, they have an added feature of being reading glasses. No more trying to squint and read an SMSs and other fine print through the gap. I’ve never had reading glasses before, so when the frame returns with new glasses, it will quite an experience. I’ve seen through my father’s reading glasses a while ago, and didn’t think much of it. Now, when I will have my own, perhaps I’ll know what Paul Simon meant when he said:

It’s true, the tools of love wear down
Time passes
A mind wanders
It seems mindless, but it does
Sometimes I see your face
As if through reading glasses
And your smile, it seems softer than it was.

~ Proof, by Paul Simon

Different things in life, calling for a different focus

Hearts & Bones

IMG 9154

National Park, Borivali, Mumbai, MH, India. 29 May 2012

You take two bodies and you twirl them into one
Their hearts and their bones
And they won’t come undone.

~ Paul Simon, Hearts & Bones, Hearts & Bones

Old Friends

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends

There’s a space between them, between these Old Friends, if they are sitting like bookends. That space must be all the years and experiences they have had – together and apart. I’ve always been intrigued by old friends (not the song, but actual old friends). In the movies and such, they will have you believe that old friends talk mostly of days gone by and the troubles that hover over white hair or bald patches. I have no idea what old friends talk about or what their silence is about. Catching up seems to be a very young-friends thing. There’s excitement that exceeds the time we seem to have. We are desperate to create memories, rather than be with our friends. I have often wondered what I would do, when I am sitting on a bench like this, with an old friend.

A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends
Old friends

But this post is not an analysis of the song. If you every have wondered about what Paul Simon’s songs really mean, or how to get to know them better, I strongly urge you to visit Every Single Paul Simon Song* – a blog I recently discovered and fell in love with instantly. Without doubt, for me, this has been the best discovery in recent times. I can say that without any hesitation. No, no analysis here, just a couple of scattered thoughts and one story, about old friends.

It was the early winter of 2005. I was to attend a wedding in Kolhapur. The rest of my family were unable to attend. It was up to me to represent the family. I decided to go. A cousin joined me. And later, an old friend (from school) joined us. We started two days earlier, and instead of taking the shortest route, we drove along the coast of Maharashtra. We drove at will, stopped at will. While we were on the road seeking an unplanned adventure, Vijaypat Singhania was on his way up in a hot air balloon to become the first man to soar 69,852 feet above sea level. We took a couple of photographs of the balloon and set off on our own possible adventures. A few mini-adventures across Kashedi Ghat, Mirya, we reached Sakhartar.

A picture-postcard-village is how you’d describe it. There is no other way to describe it. We stopped for a while to take in what we were seeing. And for a few photos. Here’s one of them:

IMG_0742 - Version 4

Winter companions
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends

I’ve been in love with this photo since that pleasant November day. I posted it to my Flickr account a few days later. It was a wonderful mystery all the while. Who were these people, what was their story, how long and ho many times have they walked like this. It was a great portrait to keep looking at, without knowing anything about these two friends.

Until September 2007; when another Flickr user, from Sakhartar, commented on this photo.

Mohd. Anwar Sakharkar and Fakir Mohammad , best friends Sakhartar

I never saw their faces when I took the photograph. Now I knew their names. I knew that they were best friends. I knew that someone else knew it, besides me. Everything I had ever thought of this photograph became real.

Can you imagine us
Years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy
Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

It would be nice to go out for a walk with an old friend.

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PS: Right-aligned, italicised text are the lyrics of the wonderful song, Old Friends, by Paul Simon.

Imagining Smoky Burgundy

You have to think of black-and-white photographs in a special way.

Man saw colour from the day he learnt to stand upright, there can be no doubt of that. Pre-historic cave art attests that. It may be monochromatic, but it is not black-and-white. Colour has been available to us right from the start. Not so, for photography. It started out as black-and-white; colour technology developed much later. So, in a way when we convert our now colourful photographs to black-and-white, it is a form of nostalgia. No doubt that black-and-white photographs look beautiful, but it’s definitely not for the lack of our ability to capture colour.

There’s a song about a colour-film brand; you can’t imagine not having colours in it. And there’s even black-and-white in that song. Which are both colours, if you think about it, but we tend to think otherwise. So most of us think of black-and-white photos as devoid of colour. [Links against quotes are to the lyrics of the songs]

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers

[..]

Everything looks worse
In black and white [Link]

This post is a bit confused. It starts with what would be a treatise of black-and-white photography, but easily slides into imagining colour through music, as we shall see. There’s much to be seen, when you listen to a Paul Simon or a Simon & Garfunkel song. Many of the songs are a visual treat, and you can imagine it right in front of you.

What a dream I had
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline of smoky burgundy [Link]

IMG_5202 - Version 2

I try to imagine smoky burgundy, but it’s not smoky enough, as you can see. Imagination always works better than a camera and a post-processing tool. That’s a moment in time, because you see it at once in full colour, static and surrounded. Not all mention of colour is static though. There’s movement too, time that passes in moments, when, in real life it may take days or weeks:

Time hurries on
And the leaves that are green turn to brown [Link]

And you can travel with the song, watch it all like a tourist – the mega-visual of a landscape of a hill or the close-up of a bird or a soldier; your choice.

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown

[…]

On the side of a hill in the sprinkling of leaves
Washes the grave with silvery tears

[…]

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions
Generals order their soldiers to kill
And to fight for a cause they have long ago forgotten [Link]

In everyday chores, there’s a palette too:

Found a rug
In an old junk shop
I brought it home to you
Along the way the colors ran
The orange bled the blue [Link]

Or you can imagine how:

He flies a silver airplane
He wears a golden cross [Link]

But these are only words. One adjective before a rainbow or an airplane or a rug, don’t mean much, if we are unable to travel with it. These are special places. The song becomes the vehicle for us, but it has to be fuelled by imagination.

And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack [Link]

PS: All block-quoted text, extracted from the songs of Paul Simon. Copyright and such, as applicable.

PPS: This post becomes special. It is the 786th post

Late in the Evening

There was a title and a thought that came to mind when I thought about this post. The title eludes me now; it may come somewhere, as I write this post. I hope.

The first thing I remember, I was lying in my bed
I couldn’t’ve been no more than one or two
And I remember there was a radio, coming from the room next door
My mother laughed the way some ladies’ do

Well it’s late in the evening, and the music’s seeping through.

It had to do something with posturing: the title. It was a nice word, that now escapes through the fine recesses of the mind.

But it had to do with a wonderful evening I had yesterday night, so let’s talk about that. The evening wasn’t a grand event. It wasn’t planned days in advance and there were no preparations around this evening. It was planned for the three of us and two showed up. Then we called up three others who were potentially perfect companions for the evening, but for various valid reasons, they didnt come, either.

The next thing I remember, I am walking down a street
I’m feeling alright I’m with my boys and with my troops, yeah
Down along the avenue some guys were shootin’ pool
And I heard the sound of acapella groups, yeah

Singin’ late in the evening, and all the girls out on the stoops, yeah.

It was left to the two of us to what we could make of the late evening. With withered thoughts of not having the people we would have liked to have around us, we began a slow start. There was the usual drudgery of daily dole that we could gossip about; we have learnt the heard way, that it quite doesn’t serve any purpose. After dispensing with formal gossip, we were ourselves again.

Friends.

What has become of us, we both wondered, if you allow me the guessing of his mind as I remember mine? One problem that friends face is the lack of topics. When you know everything, what’s the need to talk about anything?

Then I learned to play some lead guitar, I was underage in this funky bar
And I stepped outside to smoke myself a J
When I come back to the room, everybody just seemed to move
And I turned my amp up loud and I began to play

It was late in the evening, and I blew that room away.

We talked of how we have been interacting in the virtual worlds. What would be a good way to interact? What would be a better way to interact? What was the next gadget that would make us believe that our life was worthwhile? One thing led to another and gadgets gave way to the goodness of our lives. It took us a while. Perhaps it was the warm-up.

First thing I remember when you came into my life
I said I wanna get that girl, no matter what I do
Well I guess I’ve been in love before and once or twice have been on the floor
But I’ve never loved no-one the way that I love you

…and I love you

It took us six hours and a whole load of chit-chat to say just that — I love you, without ever uttering those words. Between friends, only three words matter; only three make sense. All the other million words that we use to converse, are pure foreplay or a tease. And a foreplay without the need for the final act. Twitter and Facebook. Email and SMS. Chat and phone-calls. When you reduce them all, all you want to say is — I love you. The Foreplay is the Act.

Richard Bach was perhaps right in saying that after God, Love is the most mangled word in the English language. I say — perhaps — only because, we haven’t stopped saying the word. Our choice of words has changed. The number of words that we use has increased. We now believe that a straight expression of emotion is uncouth; untoward. It has to be tempered. In our heads, love has narrowed in meaning.

Tilak Road

The original title I had in mind still eludes me. So I shall title this post the title of the song that Paul Simon sung for me: Late in the Evening. For various reason, which, my dear reader, you are now aware of.

And it was late in the evening, and all the music’s seeping through.

PS: Right-aligned content in italics is a song by Paul Simon. Copyright and such belong to whoever has claimed it and owns it.

Music Divine

It was a lazy Saturday evening, a few years ago, when my father said, “God entered his being and made him write this, this is not a human act.” He was his usual relaxed Saturday-self, pacing slowly around the house listening to Geet Ramayan, written by G. D. Madgulkar, and composed and rendered by Sudhir Phadke.

I was old enough to understand that this was an exaggeration of sorts and I told him so. (Not that I was old enough, but that I understand he meant that this is a divine composition). He did not relent, he insisted that he meant it literally. I relented — the sceptic that I was. The message was important to take note of, I said to myself. Very soon, I was to be a convert to that sort thinking.

Years passed, and my love for Simon & Garfunkel and Paul Simon compositions grew and assumed a near-fanatico-religious status. My musical journey meandered through many valleys.

Yesterday, a smallish Twitter conversation ensued about the concept of divinity in music.

Amit links to his post about “Touch of Divinity” based on this couplet:

दिव्यत्वाची जेथे प्रचिती
तेथे कर माझे जुळती… [YouTube]

He has a different take than the intended meaning of this couplet and is a recommended read (actually, his entire blog is a recommended read, if you don’t already). For me, however, in context of our Twitter talk, this took on a different meaning. I accessed my Marathi encyclopaedia (also known as Mom), about the song and it’s meaning.

Music that make a direct connection to God (and where I use the word God in this post, I do not mean a religious connotation, to what I say here, I mean it as a divine entity – something beyond the known self) is always beautiful. It is beyond human composition. As Paul Simon says in an interview, echoing, what my father said a few years ago, you make a direct connection and you get it. It is your expression, but someone is helping you form it. Does that reduce an artist to just a medium of communication for God? I doubt. If that be true, then any one of could be the divine cellphone. There is more to being the divine cellphone — and I suspect it has to do with your need to express and an inherent skill to communicate.

I have been struggling with my own meaning of art and it’s relationship with artists, trying to understand what role does an artist play in the creation itself.

C. G. Jung defines two modes of artistic creation: psychological and visionary. For the visionary mode he says:

“The experience that furnishes the material for artistic expression is no longer familiar. It is something strange that derives its existence from the hinterland of man’s mind, as it it had emerged from the abyss of prehuman ages, or from a super-human world of contrasting light and darkness. It is a primordial experience which surpasses man’s understanding and to which in his weakness he may easily succumb.”

Is this how beauty comes to being?

Consider:

संधीकाली या अशा, धुंदल्या दिशा दिशा, चांद येई अंबरी
चांद राती रम्य या, संगती सखी प्रिया, प्रीत होई बावरी.

For me, there can be never a better way to express love than this song. My apologies, I dare not translate it. This is a very refined song, an epitome of romantic expression. But refinement is not the characteristic of divine intervention — it can be crude — but it has to be heartfelt and pure, like A Beautiful Prayer.

Oddly enough, where divinity interferes, social morality isn’t a determining factor and even alcohol becomes the metaphor for expressing passion, as in Madhushala. Grossly misinterpreted, though, how does a human compose such a beautiful statement of passion drawing only available experiences from reality?

It may seem that the divine intervention takes away everything from the artist. It is not so. Divine intervention is not like lightening and does not strike randomly. It waits for the right person and the right time.

And if I am wrong, why is beauty and divine art so uncommon?

Update: This Twitter conversation was extended to blogs, with Amit’s post about The Musical Language and Mahendra’s post about What the Hell is Divinity?

Notes & Links:

  • [The interview with Paul Simon is a 56 minute video, and worth a watch — especially if you are Paul Simon fan. If not, skip to the 39th minute, to see his comment about being plugged into a force and being a conduit.]
  • The excerpt from C. G. Jung is taken from the book, “The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature, Carl Gustav Jung, Routledge, ISBN: 9780415304399

Notes for the Future

I believe in the future
I may live in my car
My radio tuned to
The voice of a star
Song dogs barking at the break of dawn
Lightning pushes the edge of a thunderstorm
And these old hopes and fears
Still at my side

~ The Cool, Cool River, Rhythm of the Saints, Paul Smon

More GIMP Experiments

Some friends aren’t supposed to be friends. They start off as someone else in your lives. Over a period of time they become friends — without ceasing to be who they are. The continue being both. And even if they do not remain, they always remain faithful to who they are in your life.

Even if you are Toyota, you can never be perfect. Everyone has a long way to go. Mostly because humans have a long way to go. An attempt to be perfect will always be incomplete because of man’s limitation and flaws.

Fear of failure can singularly break you backbone at every step. Life is uni-directionally planer and not multi-directionally spherical as most of us make it to be. They taught us just half of it. It’s not enough to face up to your fears — you need to vanquish them — if you ever want to go ahead.

The larger the superstores become, the quicker your checkout. Slowly but surely you will shop for ten items or less and pay in cash.

Because weekends mean the same thing to most people — your weekends will stop making sense and you will stop thinking about and looking forward to weekends. Or not. If you are most people.

Discipline won’t get you any further, faster; it will, however, stop you from going back and wasting precious time on things that you shouldn’t be wasting time on.

In the end only a few sentences from time will be the clearest memories. What you will want to hold on and cherish is the complete feeling and sense of belonging to a time. It is pretty useless to try and remember every detail from time.

What people think of you isn’t who you are. That is their perception; it emerges from their own belief systems and insecurities. If you have seen people change, use them as markers for your own: so that you may stay true — as much as possible.

Remains of a Fortnight

Sometimes we do things the other way round. It must have something to do with our training from writing exams. Answer the easy questions first. There’ll be enough time then to answer the difficult ones later, need not necessarily go linearly. It doesn’t work like that for all problems you face, however. Somethings have to be solved in a linear manner. If you skip steps, chances are that you will find a solution that doesn’t work for you. What’s worse, you may never know you have the wrong solution!

I’ve been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored.
I’ve been John O’Hara’d, McNamara’d.
I’ve been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I’m blind.
I’ve been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, ’cause I’m left-handed.
That’s the hand I use, well, never mind!

There are times when you have to allow yourself to be defunct. In whatever function. Nostalgic criticism of how it once was, doesn’t help. When things stop happening as they used to, it either means that it should change or that you have done enough of what you have been doing and you should be doing something else.

I’ve been Phil Spectored, resurrected.
I’ve been Lou Adlered, Barry Sadlered.
Well, I paid all the dues I want to pay.
And I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce,
And all my wealth won’t buy me health,
So I smoke a pint of tea a day.

A process is not an alternative for applying intelligence or even common sense. Processes are glorified check-lists. A guide is not a textbook is not the practical. There will never be a substitute for your own understanding or comprehension or intelligence. No process can include every variable that makes up an interesting life. All possible variables incorporated in a process are retrospective. But by then some damage may have been done; some variables are transient, even.

I knew a man, his brain so small,
He couldn’t think of nothin’ at all.
He’s not the same as you and me.
He doesn’t dig poetry. He’s so unhip that
When you say Dylan, he thinks you’re talkin’ about Dylan Thomas,
Whoever he was.
The man ain’t got no culture,
But its alright, ma,
Everybody must get stoned.

Reputations can be dangerously destructive. They work as blinders on people who seek to have an open mind. When popular reputations crumble, there isn’t enough scope for resurrection. New-formed beliefs will blanket your reputation in darkness. Even the lingering respect of yesterday can’t do much.

I been Mick Jaggered, been silver daggered.
Andy Warhol, won’t you please come home?
I been mothered, fathered, aunt and uncled,
Been Roy Halee’d and Art Garfunkel’d.
I just discovered somebody’s tapped my phone.

Folk Rock
I just lost my harmonica Albert

Text in italics, (c) Paul Simon, A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission) About the Song

A Good Recipe

After six months, a wonderful dish was made.

Ingredients:

A bit of teasing, like in college, sprinkles of being college kids again;
A few words of the plans for the future, yours and mine, and ours;
Exchanging life updates;
Making the world a smaller place;
Shopping for toys for kids, playing with them before they are gifted;
Books;
A very bad and very early dinner in a pub;
All songs of S&G and Paul Simon, perhaps a bit of old Hindi Film music;
A bit of a headache, cured with Nurofen;
Arguments about the world in general;
A long walk scuttled by cold rain in early spring;
Die Hard 4.0 with Bruce Willis;
Spinach Fritters;
300, with Gerard Butler;
Carlsberg;
The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis again;
Veggie Supreme from Pizza Hut;
Prawn Fried Rice;

Method:

Slowly cooked over a simmering fire of being together, over three days. Garnished with hallowed memories. Tastes divine.

Yet Another Bout of Schizophrenia

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.

Full 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.

YouTube video to the rescue.

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.

Control

Parents

Blame

Shift

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.”

Statistics.

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