Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2333 : Tai singing Adana Malhar

I have changed my lifestyle and am slowly introducing music back into my work life. And today as I listening Tai (Kishori Amonkar) sing Adana Malhar (one of my favorite renditions), I am reminded of the humility that I need to recognize everyday greatness, and am also observing how much peace comes in by just listening.

Also as I was listening to this - it occured to me that "Jhanak Jhanak Payal"from the V shantaram classic should be based on this, and yes indeed it is.  (though wiki says it is adana asavari and I am sure that is correct).

Take a bow dear Tai. You make me want to believe in a higher power.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2332 : Es fallt mir ein

On a day like today, it just occurred to me...:-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

2331 : RIP : Tai, finally, take the silence you always wanted....

I am fond of classical music, but in a non-classical way. I cannot distinguish the 3000 odd ragas, except for the more popular ones. But someone say, Todi, and to me it has to be only Kishori Tai.

Yes, Kishori Amonkar passed away yesterday. A silent prayer for peace. She was not just blessed, she made sure the world around her was blessed with her music.

In parts, I loved her, also because she was never afraid of her solitude. She made it her mark to wear her silence on her sleeve, except while singing of course.

In my humble desolation - I can relate to that feeling, my eternal need for a little more silence. Kishori Tai/Didi/Devi whatever - rest in peace. The world is a little less beautiful today. I as a human being will miss ya. Take a heartfelt bow.

A good read. http://www.firstpost.com/living/meeting-kishori-amonkar-conversing-with-tai-was-just-like-listening-to-her-music-exhilarating-3366704.html

Another fascinating read : The silence of Kishori Amonkar.

This image from Youtube will remain one of my fondest pictures. The photographer in me loves it.

From Wikipedia I loved these two quotes

She credits her mother with using this approach to teach her, noting, "You have to walk and run on your own. The guru gives you strength to be able to do that. If you don’t, then you remain ordinary. My mother made sure I wasn’t ordinary.”[5] She noted that training is an ongoing process, and stated in an interview that she often listened to her own recorded performances to analyse and improve her technique.[5]
Amonkar has emphasized emotion and spirituality as essential parts of her singing, stating that "To me it (music) is a dialogue with the divine, this intense focused communication with the ultimate other."[10] She has often spoken of music as an act of sublimation, noting that it is the sadhana (medium) to attain the sadhya(destination).[11]


Responding to these comments, Amonkar has stated that this reputation perhaps derives from her insistence that performers be treated respectfully, and to the fact that she chooses to spend time before her concerts in solitude and preparation instead of socializing with fellow musicians. Amonkar has stated, "I never play to the gallery. The audience cannot disturb the loneliness of an artiste."[5]

Friday, March 31, 2017

2330 : Dalai Lama is my leader of choice

Spiritual or otherwise. And if you need a good reason....see this image. He is rubbing nose with the Australian Cricket Captain (Steve Smith) so that Steve can overcome his sleep issues.

Now tell me one other leader in this world who would be so much fun.

HH Dalai Lama the 14th - take a bow. Heartfelt.

Photo comes the article....here

2329 : Had a heart stopping moment

Picture this.
Two weeks ago, I am driving on my little bikey near Mulund, and I reach a cross-junction (the fortis junction) where all traffic is paused.

I wait for 60 seconds. Its 11 in the morning and sweltering within the helmet. I then switch off the engine and then remove the helmet (and balaclava) and do the Saif Ali hair swagger :-) (you know the rapid swagger which gets rid of sweat drops)...

I look around. Its matrix like, and all traffic from all roads into the junction is dead. There are cops all over. They are shooing away even pedestrians...so essentially all stop dead.

And the fking mumbaiker in me goes "Is this Delhi?", "which politico is it now?".

Then Zen awareness kicks in...and I say...nevermind. Breathe. I begin looking around and enjoying the pause. Another 3 odd minutes pass.

Then the driver from the neighboring rickshaw (which is a goods rickshaw) gets down...walks around and then comes back.

My roving eyes see him get into the driver's seat. Another minute, and then my eyes meet his. He too is looking my direction and he is smiling. I am polite. I smile back and shake my head almost saying " life is what it is"....and he finds my attention on him and speaks....and this is what he says in Hindi....

"Sir, Heart hain...." (Sir, its a heart!!).

I look him strangely. I honestly don't get the context. He can see I am perplexed. He says again..."Sir, heart hain, heart hain....", and he is smiling as he is talking.

And believe me, I am so thoroughly confused. So I politely tell him, "bhaisaheb, nahin samjha" (Dear brother, I did not get you at all!!).

And he smiles even broader and he says with excitement, "Sir, Heart....Heart....Dil...Dil....Dil ko transport kar rahein hain hospital mein." (Sir, they are getting a heart into the hospital).

I finally get it - this blockade is to get a heart into fortis for a transplant - some kind of human emergency - and I beam into a giant smile too, and tell him spontaneously "Phir tho yeh banta hain....:-)" (Then bloody all this is all so worth it :-)).

And in that moment, my stress (if any) is all gone. I look up to the Sun (and thank him as a proxy to the universe).

This is what life was always supposed to be. The world stops for a beating heart. The world should stop for another's life. The buzz should pause and let it all soak in.

Mumbai (or Bombay) take a bow. Dear Cops, take a bow. Fortis, take a bow. And the person who died for the heart to be available, you are the Buddha. The Buddha who paused all traffic and life for a few minutes at a busy city.

In that moment, I knew I had witnessed the seas parting. A miracle had occurred in my presence. I am blessed.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

2328 : Read 2/2017 Stefan Zweig' Chess

Finished my 9th book of 2017, but just posting the second of those. More coming along.
Read Stefan Zweig's Chess - its a haunting novella - written in the unhurried build up style of the pre-current generation.

On a scale of linguistic genius its probably a 5/10 given its a translation.
On the scale of haunting, it rates right up with Kafka' metamorphosis. Gregor Samsa all over again.

Read it, overall a 8/10 read in my reco list. I will defi read it again many times over in my life.
Smallish read about 85 pages. So you should finish this in one sitting.

PS : 7 more reads already done...updates coming soon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

2327 : One for these times....

Philip K. Dick, The Divine Invasion, 1981

“What a tragic realm this is, he reflected. Those down here are prisoners, and the ultimate tragedy is that they don’t know it; they think they are free because they have never been free, and do not understand what it means.”

Sunday, February 05, 2017

2326 : Read 1/2017 : Amusing ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

This is my second read of the book. The primary premise of this book being Postman argues that if we don't understand television and social technologies well, they will eventually become tools of amusement and entertainment - and less and less focussed on "value".

Fascinating read. I must admit this book has always had a deep influence in my life. Being away from Facebook, Television, Twitter and the social dance for over 7 years now - I think I have internalized the being of Postman.

On a scale of 10 - I would rate it 10.

On a scale of insight I would rate it 10 on 10 again. Completely changed my way of being.

My second read was just as enjoyable as the first (which was many years ago).

Grab it. Read it. A definite must read.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

2325 : How have I been?

I have not written in recent times.
You ask me, how have I been?

I have realized that there is a lot of truth in Rushide's words. I have posted this twice already, but today I have seen more truth in this - than I ever saw.

Older Post http://spinningawheel.blogspot.in/2011/06/1510-all-writers-must-die-and-are.html

For the record, today I am the whore. I am the antiquated peddler of dreams and lust, and the bloody realization that the market has moved just passed me by in the stream.

The fire in the kitchen burns, but the oven is not hot. Pray Bullah, tell me - what is wrong?

Baal said, "I've finished. Do what you want."
So he was sentenced to be beheaded, within the hour, and as soldiers manhandled him out of the tent towards the killing ground, he shouted over his shoulder: "Whores and writers, Mahound. We are the people you can't forgive."
Mahound replied, "Writers and whores. I see no difference here."

2324 : Anginat Sapney from Humorously Yours (Vaibhav Bundhoo)

The more I listen to this song, the more I seem to like this.
It's happily melancholic (if there is such a term), and the lyrics just ring so true. You, I and Us  - all of us can relate to it.

Life is just a journey. It's our dreams that make it lovelier.

Listen and be charmed.

2323 : Where have you been?

She asked, "Where the fish have you been?"...."Idiot,  I was not even sure whether you were still alive?"...."Write, sometimes. Just once to let me know you still exist."

I looked at her and mumbled a half-meant apology. Then I went silent again.

A good 20 seconds later she said "Won't talk? Don't talk? Can't talk?".

I was numb, unable to answer, and yet, a few seconds later (swear this happened), the bars of the rhyme of the jukebox switch to the next song and play Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence.

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me

Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable

In her exasperation, she does not listen to the words, till I pantomime the jukebox to her....finally a good many seconds later, she smiles a tired "give up" look.

The universe is strange, but its timing is rarely wrong.

Friday, December 16, 2016

2322 : Its been long...

...and its so far off, that my own blog does not exist in my browser history.
I am making feeble attempts at coming back. 

I do wish I could be Jimmy Cliff for today and for the next few days. ...and...but...then there is hope :-)

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I've been praying for
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

Sunday, September 11, 2016

2321 : The blood that moves the body

He met her the other day, and she was clearly in grief, in mourning of a loss which was difficult for him to fully experience, vicariously or otherwise.

Giving her a full-bodied deep warm hug, he helped her sit down on the coffee stool. As she settled into the seat, he measured her top to bottom.

"Isn't the choice of dress a little unusual?", he asked. She was wearing a bright red shirt, paired with a brown sequined skirt.

She looked up, her eyes in askance. "I mean, you are going to meet your brother and family soon. Would it not be more appropriate to wear black, white or grey?". He was referring to two things here - the traditionally colors of mourning, and the fact that he implicitly believed that her family was conservative.

She continued staring at him, and then at the coffee which had been placed on the table. She smelt in the beans and took a small delicate sip. Looking away, as if she had never heard that question, she loudly exhaled, almost sighing.

A few moments later, when even he had forgotten that he had asked a question, she said, "It's the color of my silent warning. It's the color of my anger. It's the color of my tears. It's the color of my bleeding heart."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

2320 : Radhika aaj aanand mein dole....(Acharya Gokulstav Maharaj)

As I sit and listen to this song today in this arid afternoon, the song takes on a new metaphysical twist.

If you have not heard Acharyaji, I request you to do. He is a hindustani doyen.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

2319 : #10 lines

She spoke to me the other day and said, "remember once upon a time you would write me 10 lines in jiffy. 10 intensely personal lines, almost like a poem. Wonder where that ritual died?”, she asked wistfully.

I looked at her with a vacuous gaze and left it there. That night, as I was readying for sleep, my mind was wanting to hack away at a piece of paper. Here is what I wrote.

“Dearest C, there is a lot of things that I want to tell you, but here are the top 10 things on my mind. Here goes the #10 lines for today.

Ten. Yes, there are 10 fingers on me. On each of these fingers, I can count the number of things I have loved in this life. I started and stopped at 4. Could not proceed, What does that say about the unidimensional person that is me?

Nine. There are nine parts to desire. I have felt all nine of those, but I have experienced a lot lesser. Before this body could deal with the overload, it began winding down. In each of those 9 parts, there is a story of you and me that is decaying steadily  I am not sorry for my half life. The beauty of a radioactive isotope is that it lives forever. 

Eight. I was born on the 8th of the month, and my mom tells me, that Saturn governs my life. The angry Saturn, whose rings are light and fluffy, but causes mood swings that can unleash tornados. You were Jupiter. With my rings, and your size, we were like peacocks who are more involved in the ritual than the mating.

Seven. You and I were supposed to be bound for seven. I think someone forget to mention the time count. Was it seven births ? Seven eons? Seven millennia? Seven years? Seven months? Seven weeks? Seven days? Seven minutes? Or a simple poem told to the cadence of seven beats?

Six. There are six rivers in our land. In each of those six rivers, I see our story flowing in and merging into the larger continuum. When I partake a sip of the water, what I am gurgling is the shards of our own story. A part of us, that will live forever, flowing back and forth into these rivers.

Five. The five senses of mine, have numbed and died years ago. And yet, I can feel you in my soul. What do you call this, but the poetry of life. I rustle you through my hands, and smell your familiar whiff, peek into your soul, hear your echo in the corridor, and eat your spirit dripping through my cereals….all of this long after I am dead. Is this what Brahma prophesied as eternal damnation?

Four. Four times in my life you accused me of being a cheat. In each of those times, you killed a limb of mine. By the end of it, I was utterly paralyzed. I was a vegetable. How should I serve myself today? Sautéed? Grilled?  Vindaloo curry? Raw with thousand island drip? Paleo style?

Three. Friends told me three times a charm. Third time lucky!! But you were not the third. You were the second. And you in your wisdom, assumed the third is the perceived interference. Thats where you missed the charm and the plot. There was no third one. My luck has run out. Inhaling Godot, I wait for the coming of the third apocalypse. 

Two. It was supposed to take two to tango. But the two of us were far too heavy to tango. Weight control did not help. We carried the burden of unknown and imagined ghosts. There was always the heavy presence of someone else who intruded on our privacy. We were never a twosome. We were always too(two) much.

One. You had once asked me what would I miss the most if I could watch from the nether world. I would miss One. Which One? I would miss the One night of happiness that we always killed by the presence of what was absent. I would miss the One song that you promised to sing to me on my deathbed, but you completely forget about the deal. I would miss the One daughter that I never really had. I would miss the One slice of bread with my favorite marmalade. But most of all…I would miss happily miss this One life, and what could not have been possible, had you and I decided to stick as One.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

2318 : Dying is indeed an art...

Dying for me is the process of living. We die every single day, one bit at a time. One cell at a time. One love at a time. One kiss at a time.

Its truly an art. Sylvia Plath who did the unthinkable with her own life, wrote these words, which haunt me often....from her poem Lady Lazarus

Is an art, like everything else.   
I do it exceptionally well. 

I do it so it feels like hell.   
I do it so it feels real. 
I guess you could say I’ve a call. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2317 : Why I dont lie, and yet sometimes I do

"So what? Why are you being truthful all of a sudden? Wasn't it a lie when you told the little man that they don't think much of you at Visual Arts? And wasn't it a lie when you told the little man that he had tried to seduce me? And wasn't it a lie when you invented Helena? When you've told so many lies, what does it matter if you tell one more and praise him in the review? That's the only way you can smooth things out."

       "You see, Klara," I said, "you think that a lie is a lie, and it would seem that you're right. But you aren't. I can invent anything, make a fool of someone, carry out hoaxes and practical jokes—and I don't feel like a liar and I don't have a bad conscience. These lies, if you want to call them that, represent me as I really am. With such lies I'm not simulating anything, with such lies I'm in fact speaking the truth. But there are things I can't lie about. There are things I've penetrated, whose meaning I've grasped, that I love and take seriously. I can't joke about these things. If I did I'd humiliate myself. It's impossible, don't ask me to do it, I can't."

This one is from Milan Kundera's "Lovable Loves". I am head over heels in love with Kundera, and its passages like these that make me adore him both as a writer and a philosopher.

This passage could be me talking to my love, telling her, why I sometimes lie. Not all lies are equal. All truths are not equal too. In the end, what matters is our values, our sins and our poems. Now who will explain that to the world I co-habit.

Sir Milan, take a bow.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

2316 : Of crime and punishment

I read with interest and alternating horror the story about the 3 Milwaukee teenagers. Read it here.

Why horror you say?

We are definitely turning out to be a strange society....at least in my eyes. We have little or no tolerance for reform in our personal lives. So let me explain....3 random teenagers post their sex acts...now I agree that is deplorable in a context...but....
.....is that enough of a crime for them to be admonished in mainstream media?
.....is that enough of a crime for them to rusticated from their schools?
.....is that enough of a crime to get the police involved?
.....is that enough of a crime for us to implicitly judge their parents and teachers as failures? Or even to judge the kids themselves as failures?

Reminds of me a true story in my life. When I was in the last year of my graduate engineering school. Our college topper and arguably one of our brightest minds back then was forced to leave the school - in a publicly disgraceful motion - where his parents were called to the school and he was almost maligned......his crime? He was petting his then girlfriend within the school premises.

Was that a crime? Yes in school terms? Did it show discipline issues in him or her? Absolutely.

Did he deserve what he got? You bloody tell me. I can tell you how I feel....I think we are the most inane and fked up social structure in the world. How can a 20 year old boy petting his 20 year old girlfriend be a crime in any real sense? Its the natural wirings of our dna. Agreed its inappropriate within school, but how inappropriate is inappropriate?

Slap him and her in private. Admonish them. Coach them. But, instead what did we do? We pushed our best brains and one of the finest human beings I had known then outside the school.

Finally at work. Most work places would fire you if they find you watching porn at work. So does mine. I don't necessarily disagree with the "no porn at work" policy. But....fire folks? Really?

Is "watching porn" a crime that hurts the firm or "is stealing intellectual or commercial property"? For the latter its a no-brainer. Fire, create a police case. For the former, isn't there a scope for reform...to help...to understand the person and help him or her become better at dealing with their own inadequacies.

You know what bothers me the most? When folks like you and me judge in a similar way. When we look down at sex and porn as sleazy. When we decide to punish instead of reform. When we decide to rap on the knuckles of the fingers that typed iamporny.com

You and I will sit in our living rooms and lament that "Tihar does not reform". The "government does not invest in reform". Countries in war dont invest in reform.

And yet, when it comes to our crunch points....we are just like the world. We start the day or night by watching porn, fking our spouses, having EMAs and then we happily go out and chastise the 3 14 year olds who decided to stream their sexual fun. We dont just chastise them, which is probably the right thing to do....but we kill their future...which is what is worrisome.....we shame them publicly, involve the police and get them off the school roster.

So much for a sense of indignation against 3 horny teenagers. So much for our sense of code and moral compass.

I truly believe the world needs to take a step back and understand the deep inherent power of forgiveness. Dalai Lama has his job cut out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2315 : The old man at (the) sea

(This one is from my archives. Written on 22nd Jul 2001).

Once she went so far as to try and transcribe the Indian part of her name, "Mira" into her Filofax, her hand moving in unfamiliar directions stopping and turning and picking up her pen when she least expected to. Following the arrows in the book, she drew a bar from left to right from which the letters hung; one looked more like a number than a letter, another looked like a triangle on its side. It had taken several tries to get the letter in the book, and even then she wasn't sure if she'd written Mira or Mara. It was a scribble to her, but somewhere in the world, she realized with a shock, it meant something. 
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies, Sexy

To call this man old would be an understatement. He had this extremely wrinkled face, and his health was emaciated to put it mildly. I first caught sight of him some months ago. The building structure in which I live was undergoing a complex  reconstruction job, involving the addition of extra floors and all the associated functions that come along such as plastering, painting and so on.

The construction business is quite a labor intensive job, yet labor is possibly the cheapest component, due to its abundance. Workers are like (and are) nomads who travel from site to site, as the construction flows from structure to structure. Most of the time, you shall find these workers exist in a make shift adobe, where they stretch from one construction day to another, and this make shift adobe is actually the construction site itself. The story I am recounting happened in the same structure where I live, and the old man in question was a construction worker living on my premises. (I can't help feel flirtatious about the 'my', somehow sounds hollow isn't it.)

The man was old, must have been around 70 years old. Wrinkled face and emaciated, he was a frail short structure no more than four and half feet. Pitch black, in all probability he was from Hyderabad, since I have often heard him speak Telegu. 

I remember the first time I saw him. I was returning home from work, and it must have been around 10.30 at night, and as I entered my building, I saw this man in our compound. Did not shock me to see him, since I guessed that he was a construction worker. He was sitting in a slightly elevated bed made of bamboo and jute wires. He was playing with a small kid, who was in fact a girl. The girl must have been no more than 4 years of age. As I walked towards the entrance of my home, my eyes lingered on this sight, and for a brief moment, I found that our eyes met. Even he must have general inquisitiveness as regards a stranger (thats me).

In that moment, I detected a sense of fear in his eyes, the fear of the society. Possibly, for him, I represented that section of the society which he resented and had learnt to treat with respect and sacrosanct, a section he was afraid. There was some acquiescence about the whole look, yet there was no malice. 

As I thought hard, I realized with a shiver and shake that it must be so claustrophobic for the life embedded within that man. He knows that he is towards the last days of his life. At the age of 60-70 he still needs to toil hard for 12 hours a day to earn Rs. 100. (My dad is about the same age too.). At night, he eats roti's (wheat cakes) made without oil or grease on plain hot coal, with a few pieces of onion and green chilies (sounds filmy, but very true, I have seen that myself). This life which I am assuming is so similar to mine, does not crave for a Mercedes, does not want to have a rendezvous with J Lo, does not want to wear gold rings and chains, even to dream of these things would be perfidy for him. 

What is that which distinguishes two similarly capable lives. Birth and environment maybe....I don't know, but thats such an unfair brownie to be held by one life against another. 

What is it that I felt at moment. I could not help imagine what must be going through the old man's head. And I knew if I were him, I would have hated life, and run to death. Don't I do that already? The old man does not have a life, and is not allowed weapons using which he can fight for one. He is a slave, not to life, but to the society around him. I hate being a slave. 

What forced me to write this. Guilt. Nope. A man without a set of values and conscience cannot experience guilt, guilt as a concept in itself is alien to me. Philanthropy. I never believed too much in that, think in its common form, its more of evil than good. Anguish, a response to the pain around, like the Buddha maybe. Nope. I am surprised at the pain around, but nothing even close to the Buddha. What is it then. Despise...maybe. 

BTW, I spend Rs.100 daily on my food and travel expenses without a second thought, and Rs.100 is exactly the same amount the man fights to make after 12 hrs of grueling work. . For a person(me, that is) who does not believe in God, after life or any of that bull crap, its hard for me to reconcile with the fact that most of us are completely servile, puppets in the hands of circumstances, victims of some cruel experiment gone completely awry. 

Do I love life?

22 July 2001 

2314 : Kate Nahin Raat by Ustaad Sultan Khan

(I am sure I have posted of this sometime before...but worth a repost.)

I don't remember the other songs from the album, but in 1999 came an album named Bhoomi, in a brown colored sleeve of other forgettable numbers, in an assorted melange, there came an Ustaad Sultan Khan single named "Kate Nahin Raat"...

While the accompaniments and arrangements are by the Merchant brothers...Salim and Sulieman...

It has both, Sarangi and vocals by the Sultan :-)

Folks who know me, know that the Sarangi has to be my fav instrument, and Ustaad has to be the king :-). And this is how it has been for the past 25 years at least.

So when I heard this song, with the sound of rain splashing mixed up into the sound....I was hooked.

It did help that it has the gorgeous, truly gorgeous looking Smriti Mishra in the video. Infact, it has Smriti Mishra in white :-)

Last week, I was updating my daughter's playlist. I am getting her to listen to the songs that impacted me as I grew up. And....as I was browsing, I chanced on this song....I immediately knew it had to be on her playlist.

So on it goes....and yesterday in that giant "shuffle" jostling with another 984 songs, this song blares itself through the house.

And I .....and I....am mesmerized just like I was 18 years ago when I first heard this song.

The Sultan's vocals almost make you feel melancholic for a time and age (in your own life) which might never ever return. At least it evoked that for me.

And in that little emotion, lies the secret to Ustaad's greatness....lies the roots of the song's immense seduction.

Take a bow, Ustaad bhai :-)

Song from youtube below. Sigh for the music. Sigh for Smriti Mishra. Sigh for the genius of such a song.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2313 : The falling tree

As kids, we used to play a game. It was a little strange, but here goes.

Each of us would scan the room, and collect 10 things (could be anything - toys, broken remnants, combs, books etc….anything as long we could lift it and accumulate it in a pile. 

So lets say 3 of us are playing, each of us would pick up about 10 items and pile it near (each of) us. Then taking turns, each one would place one item at the center, and announce what it was. It did not have to be what it was. As an example, I would keep a balloon, and announce this was my momma. If someone asked, why and how - I would explain that my momma was fat and round, so was this balloon. Then I would lovingly air hug the balloon. All would laugh and guffaw, because sometimes these analogies were really funny.

The next person would take one of this 10 objects and try and place it on the balloon. So the center pile is now rising, like the Bhuj Khalifa. Get the drift so far?

At one point usually around the 4th turn (10,11, or 12th ), the tower (pile at the center) would lose its center of gravity and would topple. Lets say I had kept the 10th object, it was an old wrinkled newspaper and I call it “my dad’s shirt.”. When asked I explained, “my dad’s shirt(s) are rarely ironed…”

As I placed my dad’s shirt on the pile, the whole pile giveaway and collapsed. Then all the kids would run around the house, guffawing and screaming, “Chintoo placed Raju uncle’s shirt on grandma’s car, and the whole thing came crashing down.”

There would be guffaws, louder screams and then the game would continue from start again…ad nauseum.  

Get the drift? There was no winning and losing. The whole idea was to guffaw.

Today, I did something strange. I picked up 10 items from my room. Then I decided to play this game alone. Listed in the order I finally used them. 

1) A huge book of poetry that you had once gifted me.
2) An empty bottle of domex toilet cleaner
3) A toy bike (Triumph Bonneville)
4) An unused diaper 
5) A battery pack lying around
6) An usb stick
7) A 12.5 kg dumb-bell.
8) A book of photographs (magnum 2015 collection)
9) A empty steel tea cup.
10)An old Nike running shoe (single leg)

Then I start placing them. Lets see how it went.

I place the book at the center to start the pile. This is a huge A4 sized, 300 page book on some of the world’s favorite poems. You had given them to me, knowing that I was absolutely in love with the way these words danced. If asked what this was, I would have retorted “This represents our foundation. The core of both of us, always talking, always sharing, always meaning, and always engaging.” 

Next the empty domex cleaner bottle. Used to clean toilets. If asked, this would be “The periodic house-keeping both of us did to our friendship. Unfortunately today, we have run out of liquid. We could still squeeze the bottle, but its empty.”

The toy Triumph. “It was our gateway to escape this world. To go away, to run into curiosity, to gallop into freedom. To flick the wrist, and believe you can leave this world behind.”

Things still stood. So far the tower was alive (and standing). No guffawing yet !!

The unused diaper. “It was our weapon against dirt. It was our weapon against other weapons, unfortunately, most of the 'other weapons' were of our own making. Hence the diaper was apt, it would have protected us against our own shit.”

The battery pack. “It was meant to symbolize our ability to recharge offline. Our ability to not need power from an external source to remain alive and loving in the kindred.”

Five objects and the tower stood tall. Grinning, menacing and almost invincible. The poetry book at the bottom helped.

The usb stick. “A host of unsorted interactions and memory. Some easily found, some hard to comprehend, some angry, some lovely. All of them retractable - as in we could delete them off easily. All of them in this conflagration of a mash up.”

The dumb-bell. It is heavy and loud. “It added a huge stress on the tower. The weight of the world. The weight of our world. Overwhelming and yet not fatal. Trite but not trivial. Dis-orienting, but not lethal.”

The Magnum book of photographs. “Our attempt to freeze ourselves. Our attempt to photo-touch an image and make it perfect. Our attempt at telling our story in the way we want it to be heard. Out attempt at being ideal, and unfortunately, admired. Our attempt to make others see, but only the one sliver of the story, that we wanted them to see.”

As I placed the book, the tower unfortunately, began to slide and in a couple of seconds fell off.

This time I did not guffaw.

What did we miss. Two items. The tower did not last till their turn came.

The empty tea cup. “Old traditional, and yet resilient cup. One over which we both could have traded our realities. Poured hot tea over the scratched, dented cup into its crevice. The hot tea would re-invigorate you, me, the cup and the universe.”

The nike running shoe. “Allowed us to run away, when we could. Run away from our own madnesses, from our own demons, from the grief we carry inside, from the terror we know the end holds for us, from the chasm that is inevitable.”

I will repeat, I did not guffaw. I swear I did not. But I did ponder and allow myself a wry smile. A game stitched together in complete real-time, which means no preparation and no planning; played on a simple whim; not with the purpose of winning and losing; was played; and how eerily it mirrored the reality of our lives; the sign of times.

Friday, April 22, 2016

2312 : Black is the new black (to the meter of a ghazal)

I remember you in this and that, in parts, like the summer of your 19,
That languish of a year, that June was indeed a 
                                                                               long poem in black.

That night when we walked hand in hand, the Asian moon out on a blot,
Up until today, when I do recall, I can only think of 
                                                                               Hong Kong in black.

And that bloody inebriated day, when we drank and swam in the Australian,
You had cussed and screamed in your native tongue, “I can smell red all
                                                                               along the black.”

On the day we had danced and waltzed to the tune of the stars,
At the altar, you looked stunning, the white all around you was as 
                                                                               strong as the black.

At Spain, in that blasted shopping mall, living dangerously, you had chosen an unlike you lbd,
You had looked at me in askance, and I had nodded in annoyance, it was a 
                                                                              wrong shade of black. 

As I had lain dying in your arms, you offered to hum a sweet lullaby,
A rhyme here, a tune there, a note here, a pitch there, my own epitaph -my
                                                                              swan song in black.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2311 : On the letting go...

I remember walking with my spouse the other day, and she paused and wanted to pluck off a few leaves from a lemon tree. She likes the smell the lemon oil leaves on her hands.

She could not reach the leaves, and she asked me to pluck a few leaves. I willingly leaned ahead and did the act. As I finished plucking about 4-5 leaves, an old man (taatha as the keralities call these folks....respectful like a grandfather) jumped from behind the trees and shouted at us in his weak age weary voice. He was a Tamilian who chose to speak in English. He said "We had planted this tree, you cannot pluck leaves from here.", he said in a weak but angry voice.

I politely told him sorry (almost a mutter), but as we walked ahead, could not but think and ponder on this. The taatha must have been around 80 (my guess) and is probably at best going to be around for another 20 years.

And as he prepares for the last lap, he is still married to the tree which he probably planted 40 years ago. I understand love, belonging and a sense of emotional caring...what I struggle with is the sense of ownership and indignation.

Can you imagine this taatha at his moment of dying? Buddha would say, he is still so attached to this world, that he shall have to come back. I am beginning to see the wisdom of Buddha.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2310 : Baba bulle shah's wisdom

Dharamsal dhardwaye rehnde, Thakar daware thug, 
Wich maseet kosete rehnde, ashiq rehan alag
Partisans live in Dharamsalas, cheats in temples, 
Butchers reside in mosques; while lovers live apart. 

2309 : What is life?

Again came in a fwd from the same friend. I like the quote.

The object of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘Holy Shit, What a Ride!'”—Mavis Leyrer

2309 : Osho on solitude

A friend of mine sent me this quote on Osho. I think its phenomenally apt for our time and generation.

“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person--without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.”

2308 : Gandhari's silence

The war was all but over now. What prevailed was a sense of a deep loss and the accompanying melancholy. Krishna had come around to meet Gandhari and  offer his condolences. She has been understandably upset. She had seen him with the eyes and outlook, the kind one only reserves for our enemies.

After his initial words, which she listened to patiently, she had chided him for being biased and taking the side of the Pandavas in the only battle that had ever mattered to her. The battle of Kurukshetra. He had tried to defend and remind her of the many times in the interim when he had tried to play the role of a reconciling friend. He admitted to not having been able to make any progress with both Duroyodhana and Shakuni.

In the due course she had muttered the infamous curses, the ones that consigned Krishna, Balaram and the Yadav clan to terrible endings. Krishna had accepted the curse and then proceeded back to his kingdom.

Dritharashtra had also heard the words. Like Gandhari - he too had not seen, but he had definitely heard, both about and of the war, and yes, he had also heard of the curses as they were pronounced.

In the days post the Krishna visit, Gandhari had become immensely silent - self absorbed to a point of almost disappearing. The only way Dritharashtra knew she was still around was by the footsteps and the odd hiccup he would hear from within his proximity.

After what could have been weeks, he finally one day decided to have a chat. He announced his intention with a loud almost self inflicted cough. In her blindness, she glanced in the direction of the sound with anticipation. A few minutes later, he eventually started to talk.

“Dear, are you still angry?”

“What makes you think so, my Lord?”, she asked with a polite wasp.

“You were angry with Krishna the other day, and since then, you have not spoken again.”

“My anger is not the one without the words. In all fairness, my anger is my tongue.”

“Then why the silence my dear?”

“My silence is a form of diatribe. A lazy form of debate.”

“So your anger is your tongue. And your silence is a debate.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Then why curse Krishna. You know this, I never had a corner for Krishna in my heart, but Balaram, my dear, he was always the nephew I adored. He was the one who wanted Duroyodhan to marry Panchali. He was always on our side. Your curse included him too in its intricate violence.”

“I have been confined all my life. With this marriage, and then with my blindfolds. With my curse, I hope to set myself free.”

She then added, “My sorrow at losing my children is immense. This exile which I find myself in, cannot be wiped out in this lifetime. I adopted your faultlines and made them mine. I locked myself in your shadow, and shut off the light from my eyes. I have always been broken and rotting. This curse, this anger, this silence - all of them are my weapons of redemption. A thousand years later, I don’t want to be remembered as a blind princess or a blindfolded queen, but instead as the Goddess who shattered the beauty of this dream by just the fire of her breath.”

2307 : Vice Versa

She met him the other day and the conversation started on a complaining note, “I think you are terrible habit for me.” 

“What does that mean?”, he asked.

He added, “Am I terrible, or are my habits terrible, or am I terrible for you?”, he fawned in a fake accent as he asked this.

She scorned and icily said, “Arrey baba, your English is tho completely terrible. We shall sponsor Rapidex for you. If it helped Kapil, it should help you too. You are tho definitely worse off than him.”

He nattily laughed and after a pause asked again, “Ok tell me what is terrible.”

“I don’t like that your silly jokes and stories are addictive. So are your completely stupid poems.”

“So its my jokes and poems that are terrible. You don’t have to tell me that, I already know.”

“Nah nah….its you and your whole being that is terrible. For me, you are almost like smoking, or pot - just a terribly bad habit. One's that can cause cancer.”

“Ah…that means I am bad for you?”

“Yes. Finally. Thanks for getting it.”

“So in short, I am like a vice?”

She furiously nodded in assent.

He paused, chuckled and then asked, “Very well, dear, then, will you please be my versa?”

Friday, March 25, 2016

2306 : What is a note?

Krishna often came visiting Draupadi at the forest. Today morning, he had come in to check how they were hanging in there.

With the politeness and deference usually reserved for senior family members, she asked him if he would like to have some fruits. He nodded in assent and she offered him the berries she had plucked yesterday evening.

She sat down on a lower perch, not necessarily out of respect, but because the stone ledges meant seats were at differential heights, and Krishna had already taken over the taller pedestal.

Once they had settled in, and after the initial niceties, a pale silence hung over the proceedings. Kunti mother was ill, and was still asleep into the early hours of the morning. The brothers had all gone out hunting at day break.

Just the two of them sitting under the reddish hues of the morning Sun. The blue silence was awkward, but not totally unusual.

After a point, Draupadi started humming a few notes. As she warmed up, she soon seemed to firm up on Raga Charukesi, which in the days begone was often referred to Tarangini.

Krishna, closed his eyes to soak in her tune. At one point she missed the 3rd octave Ga, and Krishna opened his eyes and said “Dear Panchali, you missed a note. I don’t know this Raga well, but I know dissonance when I hear it.”, he smiled as he ended the sentence.

She looked up at him. Her gaze razor sharp, and she said with a slightly icy tone. “Lord, do you need to listen to me singing, to figure out that there is a lot of dissonance in my life?”

Krishna smiled and said, “No….Dearest Panchali, just because your life is in dissonance, you cannot mess with the music of the Gods. You did miss a note.”

She continued to stare at him for a few seconds, before lowering her gaze, staring down at the mud gravel and said “Lord, its only a note.”

“Is it only a note dear?”, he asked in a manner which was both loaded and challenging her.

“Yes its only a note.”, she answered almost wanting to rubbish the conversation down.

Krishna was in no mood to relent, “And what is a note, my dear?”

“A note is a sound from our innards wanting to break free.”

He responded, “….and out of such a single sound, this whole creation was born. You miss a note, and you kill the universe. You will make the world a little more unbalanced.”

“Maybe I did not want to let this particular note run amok. I wanted that single note trapped in the confines of my heart.”

“Why only that note dear?”

“Sometimes a note, can also be a deep rouge desire.”


“I want to suppress that carnal being which thrives in me.”

“In that case dear….it has the opposite effect….If you suppress that one note, you will create a universe of desires that course through your veins. Be careful of how you play this game.”

She continued staring at the gravel, then lifted her eyes and peered deep into his.

In anticipation he said “…and?….”

“This one raga signifies melancholy.”

“I know that very well dear.”

“I skipped a note, because I also have a deep blue sense of missing.”


“Yes the skipped note is representative of the state of my mind.”

She paused, looked up at the morning Sun and with a deep baritone said “Sometimes a note is nothing but an expression of my yearning and the languish of a longing.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2305 : Perspective

Many moons ago, I remember this day clearly.
It was raining, the way it can only rain in Bombay. Roads were flooded, trains were shut down. Folks were locked in their houses - a large part of the city had no electricity.

I had taken the bike out to cross the flooded roads and reach you. I had reached half way and had been stuck. Water flooded into the silencer, and the bike had sputtered shut.

I had been at least 10kms away from where I needed to be. At 5pm in the evening, folks told me its very dangerous to proceed. I had still tried for another 500m, before even I had had to give up.

I remember walking back with the bike pushing it silently on an empty but flooded road.

I had reached home at around 7pm that evening. Soaking wet, shivering with a fever and completely tired and spent.

And yet, the over-arching feeling in my head then was of an immense loss. An gargantuan sense of loss, almost, as if you had died. As if I had never managed to wave you the one last goodbye.

I had this feeling of a reverse endorphin spiking through me. I felt I had really lost.

Years later, I still remember that day vividly, as it happened yesterday, with unbridled nostalgia that only a poet could harbor in this ocean of a world.

And the bloody white as ice moon....it looks like, I was afterall, right, I indeed missed telling you a good-bye. Now its possibly so very late.

2304 : Its the question of you...

Exactly 20 years ago, she had told him more than a score times, "I trust you with my life.". That was then, her constant refrain.

In the last 20 days, she has told him more than a double score, "I don't trust you with your own life.". That is the new sound of the bogey train.

Wonder, what changed?

The yellow faded jute curtains, have been witness to this decay. Unfortunately they sway where the wind blows. The rest of the time, they are murmuring songs in mute.

2303 : The moot question

Dharmaraja and Draupadi were walking in the forest. Into the silence of the golden rays, in the shimmer of the green grace, hand in hand, yet not every step in sync.

He was introspective. He was thinking about her. Often on the nights Draupadi was with Arjun he would hear loud guffaws and the sounds of unrestrained love. There were sighs, laughter and moans.

Without seeing he had a vision of what it could mean. He come to believe in a truth he had never been witness to. And though he was the Nestor when it came to Dharma, he was not immune of human emotions of envy, jealousy and the green eyed monster.

As they walked today, they were silent as they usually would be. No loud shrieks, no giggles, just an occasional conversation here and there to break the poison of silence.

In the hour long walk, Draupadi had spoken about Kunti mother's failing health. She mentioned that taking care of her was turning out to be a burden.

He politely listened, hummed and hawed through this babble.

At one point they had been silent for over ten minutes. Looked like the previous topic had been completed.

As they approached the shed which covered the cave they called home, as in they could see it in their sight, he asked her - almost making it sound as if it were inadvertent - "Panchali, amongst your men, am I your most favorite one?".

She continued holding his hand, the grip tightening almost like a stiffen, and she continued staring down at the road ahead. Her pace had altered and she almost appeared to hesitate before her next step. After what appeared to be seconds, she was aware he was intently looking at her face. She raised her eyes and looked into his eyes. Her eyes were unblinking, and appeared cornered.

He looked away immediately. He did not need the answer, in her hesitation and the pregnant pause - he had found the answer to the difficult question, an answer he would have definitely been much happier not knowing.

2302 : And the archer finally spoke

Thakshak woke up with a start. He very urgently summoned his bed attendant and asked for a quick and immediate gathering of  the court priests. He specifically mentioned that the old king Vasuki (the very Vasuki whom he has usurped to take over Naga land)come over too.  Thakshak had always respected Vasuki for being wise, though at one level he also felt that the old General was now senile.

Something was definitely out of place. Thakshak was usually seen as someone who was cocksure, and who rarely if ever consulted his priests in any matter - save ritual - which he let them manage. He definitely, rarely if ever wanted to be in audience with the "senile" older king.

And....then there was today.....

And the time, it was still a few hours before the Sun even showed his first strains....The world was still sleeping. Time was still ticking tock and the insects of the night still ruled and were still busily buzzing.

In a matter of minutes, Thakshak had quickly pulled up his crown, and the royal robe. As he was adjusting his crown, the priests walked in. Vasuki was still nowhere to be seen.

As they began taking their respective seats in the makeshift court cum royal bedroom, they could all see their King being tense, pensive and nervous.

He trudged towards his seat and finally installed himself. He looked at the attendant and asked with feigned respect "General Vasuki?".

The attendant bowed and answered, "He is coming along your highness, should be here in a few minutes."

Thakshak shrugged with mock irritation and said to the others, "Ok, then we shall have to wait for the elders."

As promised, in a few minutes Vasuki walked in. Everyone including Thakshak stood up with respect for the now aged once-upon-a-time-their-king.

As they all seated and shifted within the silence of their night, slowly all of them in the room looked at Thakshak with askance. What could be so important that they were all summoned into the middle of this night? Were they being attack? Parikshith's ghost Janmayjey again?

With a solemn voice, Thakshak said "Remember the archer.......Eklavya?"

Vasuki immediately nodded, and the other slowly did too.

Thakshak continued, "Remember a few years ago we tried to enslave him to help our forces, and he escaped because some of us could not keep their bloody traps shut.". As he said that his mouth was vile with anger and he was staring icily at Vasuki. It had never been publicly spoken, but everyone knew that Vauski had in some form or shape helped Eklavya escape. 

Vasuki continued to looking at Thakshak and then into the emptiness of the room. The others looked at their feet, unable to choose between their new king and the old warrior.

Thakshak composed himself and then resumed, "I saw him again."

Others looked at him agape. They were unsure what their King meant. It was over a decade ago that they had last encountered Eklavya. 

Vasuki slowly asked "Where?"

Thakshak said, "In a dream. Tonight. But I know it was not a dream. It seemed real. It felt alive. I knew it was him trying to tell me something. Something seemed amiss."

They all waited for him to continue.

"Remember the last time we kidnapped him and got him here. He hardly spoke through those days. I have never heard more than a few sentences from him. I later heard from my friend Kuber, that Eklavya had become very silent in the years following his act of giving up his thumb (to Drona). He never spoke too much, infact no one seems to remember him speaking at all. Do you all agree?"

They all nodded. Vasuki bravely said "He did speak a few words to me."

Thakshak ignored him and continued, "Legend has it, that Eklavya became a silent coach. He helped other warriors fight, and learn the trade, but he never lifted a sword, or arrow ever."

"....and yet, today, in my dream....I met Eklavya and he was dying. When I met him though, he was still alive. Eventually in the course of minutes, he died, and thats when I woke up with a jolt."

Vasuki asked "Did he say something, young King?"

For a minute Thakshak was glad, Vasuki was around. "No, he did not. He had a arrow stuck into his heart. The bottom part of the arrow was bent. I knew at once, looking at the scene, that he had thrust the arrow into his own heart. A la suicide. And it struck me as very odd. Why would such a dignified person, take his own life? Why would such a legend want to meet me during the time of his death? I assumed he wanted to tell me something. I remember fetching him some water...and he refused."

Vasuki again asked, "...and you say, he did not tell you anything."

Thakshak with a contrite look said "No. Not a word. I asked him about my hunch. Had he tried to kill himself? He looked blankly at me, I thought I detected a sardonic smile, but that is about it."

Thakshak paused for a few moments. Eventually Vasuki spoke, "Its very odd for a warrior like Eklavya to take his life. A true warrior would rather die on the battleground. Its further even more odd that someone like Eklavya would try and kill himself with his own arrow. Usually we have never seen the arrow being a weapon of choice when it comes to taking ones own life. And finally warriors aim for the stomach, and not for the heart....  Though...... it does not surprise me that he did not speak to you at all, young King."

Hearing his name being referenced, Thakshak snapped out from his listening reverie, and asked in an infuriated exasperated tone, "Whats the point you are making? Pray how does all this fit in General?".

Vasuki looked at Thakshak, a sharp but tired gaze - the kind of stare one gives when you are struggling to convince a 3 year old of what is apparently patent to the rest of the onlookers - he said in a slow measured tone, "Dear King, Eklavya never really spoke to you or to most of us. Infact he rarely ever spoke at all. The Eklavya of your dream killed himself with an arrow from his own quiver, which he thrust into his heart. He needed the water, but did not drink it when you offered him some. He gave a faint smile. As I said before, some of this is odd....very odd....but thats beside the point."

Post a pregnant pause he added, "Don't you see, King, Eklavya has finally spoken. He has shot a very important message through his arrow."