Interesting Phrases - 1

Without any undue story-buildup, let me present some interesting phrases which are easily encountered in day-to-day conversation and which make a person, not so gifted in the mental faculties like me, think about their meaning and even relevance to the present situation:

1. "Like whatever dude" : I hereby contest that mankind in all its humble ingenuity has never ever come up with a vaguer concoction of words. To even think that a set of just 3 words could convey so much vagueness is overwhelming. Look at the sentence. 'Whatever' in itself is probably the single most confused and vague word ever invented by man. It points to no one in particular. It references no particular direction of thought. And worse, it simultaneously tries to point to and reference every possible subject under the sun. If I were given the authority of replacing 'whatever' with something else, I would rather have decreed that whenever someone needs to use 'whatever', he would rather just maintain silence for 2.3 seconds (written as "Like -------- dude"). See, it communicates as much meaning with a negligible waste of energy. Nevertheless, then the speaker is trying to equate some situation with 'whatever'. Now, I would not have gone nuts if 'like' was a normal word. 'Like', in modern societies is spoken not as a verb or a preposition but as a conjunction (for eg. 'and') and is just used to join sentences so different from each other that every such usage of 'like' is disturbing the sleep of dead victorians all across the world. Nevertheless, even if we take this usage of like in the prepositional spirit, what is the speaker trying to convey ? I might have asked him, so how was the food ? Pat came the answer, 'Like whatever dude', and I with an obviously stunted social comprehension factor is left in the lurch to ruminate over the multitude of possibilities that the food could have tasted like.

Crap!, I thought academia was difficult and art was difficult and a million other elaborately planned human pastimes were difficult. I never thought that I would be so stumped by just 3 words. To the proponents of modern language, I present to thee, my head on a platter :).

P.S: I thought that I would include a few more phrases but this one turned out to have a lot more potential than I expected. So others will have to wait.



"LOL :)!!!. I m a gr8 frnd LOL :)!!!. Smart, senzitiv nd kool LOL :)!!!.........."

Minus some exaggeration, this is how the profile of one of my friends went during my Orkut days. The moment I saw this, I thought, well, he goes into the quarantined list from this moment onwards. The problem with this statement is that it is too concealed beneath layers of borrowed style and substance to establish any kind of credibility or individuality for the author. Not to mention that the sentence is full of loads of over-the-top lies. I mean, for a second I thought that I had just witnessed the profile of someone who truly embodied the perfection of the human specie like, God or Chuck Norris or Karan Johar. And even if it was the all too great Karan Johar saying these words, even he, in all his immeasurable idiocy would not have been able to carry the burden of the heavy dose of self-aggrandization which permeates the sentence.

Nevertheless, the fact that I came across some kids in the local grocery store today wearing some kind of in-your-face, extreme T-Shirt made me remember the stereotype which underlines such people. They are the same kind of people who would be forced to listen to Britney Spears or for that matter even rock just because their friends do it, use crazy language to express themselves just because its supposed to be cool, drink at parties not because they like it but because everyone else is doing so and they are being forced etc. They buy into the latest fashion trends and happily pay a fortune big enough to provide for the food of an average family for days just so that they could fit in the upcoming social event. They are the same ones who speak english rather than their native language even if it does not serve any advantage just because its supposed to be such an 'in' thing to do. And they are the same ones who, for lack of an individuality, wear forced mannerisms, phony morals and affected beliefs in social gatherings.

I am not saying that people should not listen to Britney Spears or not drink or not use crazy language. But only if they really find it good or useful or advantageous. If such is the case, all the self-righteous snobbish blabbering about how Beethoven is more desirable than Britney Spears is just a load of nothing. And I am not saying that I am any better, but I am trying hard to improve.

The fact of the matter is that those who would only accept an individual if he conforms to some norms expected by that group do not even deserve the friendship or acquaintance of that individual. True friendship does not have a price tag on it and neither does it have rules and clauses. And it is futile to think that someone can fool the world by not being himself. The truth is only thinly hidden and when it becomes evident, its dirty and disgusting. And moreover, everyone gets just one chance to live. What a way to spend that chance if it is spent pleasing everyone else except oneself ?

Finally, for all those incredible jerks who would rather have you do something forcefully against your own wish, I am sure, their stupidity is not something which a quick jab on the jaws and a roundhouse kick on the backside cannot cure :). Just kidding...

P.S: Have been cribbing a lot these days, isn't it ? Hoping that the next post will be a bit more sane.


Federer plays Cricket (Federer plays cricket)

Man!!! If ever there was a news snippet which ruled like crazy, this is it.

Most of my friends, even after being Indians, somehow inexplicably are woefully ignorant of the glory of the best game on the planet. They say that the game is suited only for lazy people like me. Well, now you wouldn't call a tiger lying low, in wait for his prey, lazy, would you ? He is just silently waiting for that one moment of weakness on the part of his prey when he can explode with a debilitating burst of energy. My friends don't see the similarity between the tiger and a cricket fielder which I see. Cautious, silent, shrewdly calculating, ever attentive, he grabs on to the ball with fearsom energy when the situation demands.
Alas, they would rather see the glass half empty :).

Nevertheless, well ? Who has the last laugh now ? I am sure, watching the alpha male of human species himself adorn the beautiful game might have raised some doubts about some of your most fundamental beliefs. If you have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel and come face to face with one of the axiomatic truths of the world i.e. cricket is probably the greatest atheletic activity ever undertaken by man after maybe Pheidippides' legendary run from Marathon to Athens giving birth to Olympics, then welcome to my side. If you are still unsure (read wrong, I like to be politically correct) and would like to believe that you still need a bit more time to accept what is only inevitable, be my guest. In either case, if I may just remind you of the fact that there are only two absolute truths in the world. The first is that Federer rules and the second is that cricket rules. And no scale has thus far been invented which could measure how much the spectacle of Federer playing cricket RULES. The only thing that could have beaten this scenario on this scale of fantabuluousness was maybe Federer playing cricket with Audrey Hepburn on the runner's end :).


What is all this hoopla for ?

First of all, let me clarify that this post is not the result of the weary imaginations of a disgruntled soul harbouring jealous feelings against IITs and IITians. If it serves to strengthen my point of view by giving it a more impartial tinge and if I may mention it without seeming to be a snobbish brat, I too am an alumni of one of these institutes.

I have been following for a long time now but have lately seen an exponential increase in the number of IIT and IITian related articles on the portal. As an example, from december 1 to december 18, there have been 25 different articles on the subject which pegs the daily average of journalists, who would rather concoct a crowd-pleasing, easy to assemble article on a subject as beaten to death as the glowing exploits of IITians than doing some real research on a real topic at a healthy figure of 1.388888889 (and my calculator gave up here).

Agreed that the interest in the subject has been revived due to the scheduled Pan-IIT conference, is it just me or do others also think that all this hoopla is turning out to be another cheap example of climbing onto the bandwagon of mediocre journalism, the likes of which seem to permeate every aspect of today's society. Dear God!, the situation is bad enough with all those sensationalistic news channels bombarding us with a new breaking news every other minute. A society which manages to throw up on an average of 400 breaking news per day must surely be incredibly high on pheromones. But I am aware that this is not the case because I know that I have not seen a few accidents, some bank robberies, a dozen celebrity scandals, 2-3 government upheavels, and atleast 5 terrorist bombings on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, the point of all this rambling is that the renewed interest in IITs just seems to be an extension of the general trait of journalism which encourages reporters to write socially pleasing articles. And I thought, I had heard somewhere that news is supposed to shape social outlook rather than reflect it.

The underlying point of the matter is, 4000 IITians do not represent India. The 10% growth which the Indian economy is so hopefully looking forward to, is not one of the miracles at the hands of the IITians who comprise less than .01% of the national population. Agreed that it might be spearheaded by some of them, but the fuel that has kept burning it for last several years are the 23% of the Indian work force employed in the service industry and the 50% employed in the agriculture industry. So while it sounds nice to occasionally hear how an IITian killed a bear with his naked hands or doused a fire with his spit or ran faster then light (with light travelling in vacuum and the IITian in water), I think we have had enough. I am sure that rediff is catering well to all those parents who have a kid in 12th and would so much want to see him/her enter one of those hallowed portals and all those kids who have the misfortune of having such parents, why not start doing some real reporting for change? You know, something that meaningfully affects atleast 5% of the population and doesn't look down upon 99.99%.



सहमी सी इक नज़्म के सहमे हुये अल्फ़ाज़
कतरों में सिमटती हुई, मन की इक आवाज़
आँखों में सर्द रोशनी की आख़री किरन
दम तोड़ते हुये दिल की आख़री धड़कन
बस एक इनायत की नज़र कर तो दो सरकार
जीना तो था बेकार यहाँ, मौत तो हो साकार !

ज़ालिम तेरे ज़ुल्मों कि ये अब इंतहा तो है
इन रंजिशी नसों में दर्द ही बहा तो है
बस एक मुलाकात ही को, मैं होता बेकरार
इस आख़री एहसान से भी है तुझे इनकार ?
माना भी चलो तुमको ना था मुझसे कभी प्यार
पर झूठ ही कह दो चलो मरने तो दो इक बार


Addled Ads

There are few things in this world which irk me more than those supposedly made-for-the-masses American advertisements which seem to insult my intelligence by being extraordinarily dumb.

They are not the kind of dumb that you see permeating the portals of the world in the guise of under the age of 15 boys who wholeheartedly believe that all that stupid WWF stuff happens for real, all the while managing to convince their dumb parents that they possess a 'serious' opinion about 'real' things. They are not the kind of dumb that expresses itself so proficiently in those teenage girls who regularily manage to shoot beyond 1000 minutes of talk time every month even though they rarely have anything substantial to say and who cannot complete a single sentence consisting of a total of 11 words without using atleast 8 'like's in it. And they are not the kind of dumb which gets personified in those adult men who think that brawn and brashness are the true denominations of manhood and those adult women for whom incessant, almost maniacal self indulgence is the normal way of life. Sir no sir. These ads are bad. They are so bad, you would want to put your head into the working end of the barrel of a 150 mm heavy artillery gun and hope that the soldier operating it is considerate enough to give you the sweet respite of death. These ads are so cheap and mindless, they make even the worst creations of Ed Wood and Karan Johar seem like Operatic masterpieces. Some examples :

Time Warner Cable : 3 guys. 1 dressed as a telephone, 1 as a laptop, 1 as a TV. Trying to hammer in the point that I could get all the three for one low price if I go for TWC. (Ho Ho Ho. That was subtle. Why not just tie those 3 guys in a red ribbon. Then you would be SURE that us fools would REALLY get the point that the 3 come together. You are giving way too much weightage to our pea sized brains here dudes.)

Verizon Wireless : A family of 4 in a shopping mall deciding how to communicate with each other as each one of them is supposedly going to shop at a different place. After deciding that A calls B, B calls C, C....... they finally realize that none of them has a phone. . . . . . Yes!!! its over. Can you believe that ? Not only does it stand for the sheer stupidity which these ads makers have managed to amass, it also manages to shoot off few more working neurons from my already moronized brain, everytime I watch it.

Casino Pauma : A middle age lady: " I won 10000$ ", A balding man : "I won a hummer", An overecstatic asian : "I won 5000$" followed by the directions to Casino Pauma so that I could at once pick up my cell, my keys and a wad of 100$ notes and straightaway rush to the place. Wow! that was easier than I thought. People around the world spend the better parts of their lives trying to figure out how the hell could they increase the sale of their trashbags by 5%. All they had to do really was to get an entirely unconvincing 50 year old and make him blurt out on TV that he likes the trashbags. And ofcourse, the rest of human population forgot to develop beyond the neanderthals, right?

I have too many examples to list here. Rather than boring you, I would sulk in this misery alone :).


Hell currified

Remember the last time when you were at a friend's place for dinner and were served with so bad a dish that you almost wished to have rather taken birth as the chicken on your plate rather than the one who had to eat that chicken. Think of that dish which made you envy the luck of all those 6 billion living people which were not in that room with you and those 100 million dead ones who never had to come face to face with the cruel reality of how bad things could really get. Now multiply the putridness of that dish by the avogadro's number and you will start to get a rough estimate of how screwed-up we managed to make our last culinary experiment.

Yes, I have to say. The world has finally witnessed the nadir of human creativity. Note this day down in your history books for there shall be a day when you or one of your descendents will be asked in an interview, "So what would you consider the most incredibly stupid act of all of humanity". And if, driven by a lack of knowledge, the answer which is blurted out is one of the following : 'Holocaust', or 'Nuclear bomb on Japan' or 'Friends', or 'Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor', I am afraid, but it will be met with a cold, incredulous, almost sympathetic stare. You shall be corrected as: 'Why? don't you remember the 13th of November, 2006 A.D. when Ankit and K2 managed to show the world that everytime anyone had ever thought that things could not go any worse, they had underestimated the genius of the two aforementioned people by a factor of 10'.

To cut a long story short, from a perfectly harmless assortment of Onions, tomatoes, chicken and a few other peripherals, we managed to concoct something so grosely disgusting that its occurance probably lies at minus inifnity on a normally distributed probability curve. The only constructive result that we could boast off from the experiment was probably the fact that the world was freed of two burnt cooking utensils.

It was really an eye opener. One of the few occassions wherein you just have to give in to the force of nature and your sheer helplessness against it.


Thus spoke Bill

"You will find your own ethical dilemmas in all parts of your lives, both personal and professional. We all have different desires and needs, but if we don't discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled. Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about. We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success...

...But having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another.

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you're doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you'll hear about them.

To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble."

- Bill Watterson,
May 20, 1990, Kenyon College Commencement


Intellectual Inertia of the Indian Intelligentsia

It is 9:00 in the night and you are going to have a nice little dinner with your family. You sit down in a comfortable chair and press the red button that sends the television blaring its cacophony at 73 decibles of ear-shredding noise. You hope to be entertained but what you find on the screen is one of the now infamous genre of family conspiracy serials, dished out with ample amounts of glitter and phoney morals and sweet yammering, crying bahus and vixenesque saases and mutely submissive, disgustingly foolish males and plots contrived and impossible enough to send those 5 working neurons in your head into a state of shock induced coma. From then onwards, you assume the role of one of those sub-18 year olds during election times. Nobody cares what you think of the serial. Your family is too disgustingly engrossed in the trash to see that one of their close relatives is about to choke on suffocating mediocrity. And you begin to think, what is wrong with Indian television or more importantly with Indian cultural and artistic expression in general ?

The fact of the matter is that television and movies today constitute a herculean chunk of the artistic facade of any society. Their immense reach far outweighs any other vehicle of cultural expression. Therefore, their content can safely be taken to principally represent the creative quotient of the entire society in general. If this is the case, I am afraid to say, but the country has seldom found itself so devoid of originality of ideas, and the will of creation.

Whereas on one hand the small screen is content at providing airtime to the convoluted, disfigured fantasies of the likes of Ekta kapoor, the silver screen meekly bends down to the whims and fancies of cry-baby directors like Karan Johar and Chopra family. Whereas the small screen blatantly copies every american success story (yes, KBC, Indian laughter challenge and all those reality competitions are shameless copies), imagination and creativity seem to be giving way to obscene vulgarity and violence on the big screen. I am not saying that vulgarity and violence should be wholly abhorred. I am just saying that they should not act as veils to hide the sheer ineptitude of directors at using whatever little grey matter they have been blessed with. I fondly remember the days when a Sunday morning on Doordarshan used to be a worthwhile waiting experience. And I miss the brilliance of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee at weaving a complex interplay of human emotions.

I hardly hate anything more than creations which have to take the support of cheap populist gimmicks to get accepted by the society. Art is a sacred profession. It is so much more personal than technology. Its creation should not be governed by something as vulgar as societal acceptance and money. Sadly, this is what seems to be happening to the entertainment industry in India. Movies and serials try to play into the hands of the college going, big city student populace most of whom think that their last breakup was the worst thing to have hit the society in the last 50 years and who are blessed with stupid enough parents with deep enough pockets to have any kind of discriminatory power anyways. Or they go to the other extreme and try to gain the acceptance of those over-the-middle age parents, who somehow have forgotten what good entertainment used to taste like and have now become numb enough not to raise an eyebrow when an Ekta Kapoor sends any army of intermarried, conniving, glossy and fake actors to throw them into what can only be described as a state of mental anesthesia.

Hats off to those who claim to be the spearheads of Indian imagination. I can only imagine, if the bayonet is so blunt, how ineffective the rifle has become.



ज़िंदगी आज नाउम्मीद थोड़ी कम होती
गर तेरी आँखें उस दिन कुछ नम होतीं

ये सोच के कि तू भी कभी याद करती होगी
मैं तो जीने को तय्यार था
लेकिन उस दिन तेरी मुस्कुराहट में
न संवेदना थी न प्यार था
कुछ कहते कहते ही रुक गया मैं
वरना ज़िंदगी मेरी भी खुश सनम होती
गर तेरी आँखें उस दिन कुछ नम होतीं

इस लिये खड़ा रहा कि
मुड़ के देखोगी एक बार
लिये दिल में एक अनसुनी आह
आँखों में धूल का गुबार
सूखे होठों पे सहमी सी चाह में
झलकती मौत की ज़िंदगी कुछ कम होती
गर तेरी आँखें उस दिन कुछ नम होतीं

Some Thought Experiments

Its an utterly beautiful concept. And it provides so much insight into the nature of knowledge.

Suppose you are sitting in a car and the car is accelerating forward. What do you feel ? Well, a push backwards. Suppose the car is accelerating up. Now what do you feel ? A push downward. Now suppose that you cannot look out of the window of the car. Can you tell whether you are accelerating ? Yes, ofcourse by the push. But suppose you are out in the space with no gravity and you are accelerating at precisely 9.8 m/s^2 (the acceleration with which you fall on Earth). Now the big question. Can you differentiate between two possible situations ? Are you in an accelerating spaceship or are you just sitting on the surface of the Earth ? Well, the answer is no ! So how do you really differentiate between gravity and any other acceleration ?

Consider another situation. Suppose you are in a lift in a very tall building and the lift rope snaps. You start falling down. Will you be able to differentiate this situation compared to one where you are out in the gravity free space ? Well the answer is, to a high experimental degree, no. But everything is not lost and it is this small thing which is left, that defines gravity. Consider the lift example again and also consider that as soon as the rope snaps, you let go of two rocks which you were holding in each of your hands. What happens to the rocks as they fall down along with you and the lift. First of all, they will be stationary to your eyes since you are also falling down as fast as them. But wait ! Everything is falling towards a common center i.e. the center of the earth. So the rocks are not exactly following a parallel path but their paths are going to intersect if the lift somehow reaches the center of the Earth. Hence, if you could measure closely enough, you would notice the rocks coming towards each other extremely slowly. And herein lies the clue which gives the secret presence of gravity away ! Its funny in a certain way. To put it down in a fancy way, Gravity does not manifest itself uniquely by the act of the falling down of an object but by the act of apparent mutual attraction between two objects ! Would the situation be any different, if instead of rocks you had used gold blocks or wood or even electrons? Absolutely not. So in essence, everything irrespective of its material will follow the same curved path which is being followed by the rocks. Here is where Einstein took a big leap in imagination. Is the path of the rocks a property of space itself ? Is there no gravity ? Is it just the curved space which decides the path of the rocks and not some mysterious gravitation force ? In essence, is it just GEOMETRY ! And sure it was. The thought experiment which upstaged more than 200 years of the notion of Gravity.

So I am led to ask. All the knowledge is surely out there. Is it just begging a more insightful eye and a more daring imagination ?


A Suspended Animation ?

Now that I think of it, I have spent the last couple of years of my life in a sort of suspended animation, some kind of a make-believe, beautiful, intellectual world.

I have invented excuses for being transported into this other-world. I have more or less shunned the realization that a 'normal' life outside of my ideal world exists.

First it was chess. My obsession with the game although failed to see me grow into a better player, certainly made me scour its history and strategies and tactics and previous matches and players and their playing styles. During the 6 months of my wholehearted devotion towards the game, I read about half a dozen biographies notably those of Kasparov, Morphy (American player in the 1800s and considered to be the best ever), Capablanca (Cuban player famous for his aggresiveness). I read books about the various openings and attack styles employed in the game. I went through and replayed the moves of the famous games of the past. I ventured into an understanding of the way a machine plays the game differently than a human. In short, I must have 'wasted' almost 6 hours from my daily schedule for atleast 6 months straight.

Then it was poetry. As my interest began to grow in this utterly beautiful medium of human expression by my introduction to Ghalib's urdu poetry, I realized the silken genius with which the most eloquent minds spoke. After reading the works of Mir Taqi Mir, Ghalib, Afghani etc. I thought of giving Hindi poetry a try. I instantly became a fan of Harivanshrai Bachchan's prose and poetry and then went on to read many more brilliant writers like Dinkar, Neeraj, Mahadevi Verma, Gulzar etc. I started contributing to the hindi parts of wikipedia and also devoted a blog to writings especially in Hindi and Urdu. This passion has withstood the test of time and I am as engrossed in the field now as I ever was.

My latest craze is Audrey Hepburn, the beautiful actress and humanitarian who died in 1993! Without going into the details, I should just suffice to say that I have done little in the last 1 month apart from researching on her and watching her movies.

Is it wrong ? The way I tend ignore the real world ? I guess, to a rational eye, it is, but the fact remains that the real world is a drab place to live in. It lacks the melancholy beauty of poetry, the intellectual stimulation of chess and the intoxicating allure of those eyes. It does not appeal to the heart and for me, happiness does not lie in it. Nature is beautiful, physics is beautiful, artistic expression is beautiful but the daily chores of life are woefully insipid. They are just an inconvenience I have to live through.


The Ferry Rides

While discussing with a friend today about things unimportant and trivial, we happened to come across some old memories. Old college memories. He, of IIT Bombay with its panthers and crocodiles and snakes and crappy food and dingy hostels and fun life in general. I, of IIT Guwahati with its snakes and crocodiles and crappy food and fun life and those ferry rides across the Brahmaputra.

For the uninitiated, Brahmaputra is one of the most important and mighty rivers of the Indian subcontinent. Originating near Mount Kailash in Northern Himalayas, it traverses the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in North East India before joining the Bay of Bengal. Although to the general public, the river is known more for its depth, its flow, its width etc., for the students of IIT Guwahati first year, the river is known more for the notoriety which it showed when it so mercilessly separated the college from human civilization on the North.

The bus, which plied between our college and the city, although the prudent option, nevertheless, lacked the excitement of a ferry ride across the Brahmaputra. So more often than not, we used to cross the river on a boat. My old memories are especially vivid and dear of those days when the weather used to be overcast. I used to cycle my way from the college to the ferry ghat on the mud path which traversed through a thicket of coconut trees and adjoining straw huts like a snake in a forest. Especially during those rainy days, I relished the touch of the cold moisture laden air, the view of the distant cloud covered mountain tops, the smell of the slightly moistened earth indicating an impending downpour and the sound of chirping birds in the adjoining undergrowth.

The ticket for the ride used to cost about 1.5 rupees (about 3 cents!). The boat had wooden benches to sit and those were covered with a thick tin sheet on the top. I always used to sit on the top where it was open to fresh, cold air and vast, uninterrupted sights. It generally took about 20 minutes for the motorboat to cross the width of Brahmaputra. With the distant sights of shops and houses dotting the North Guwahati shore, the ferry ghat and miles and miles of green forests on the other shore, a faraway, lonely, majestic bridge, an isolated, slightly confused island in the middle of the river, birds trying to compete with the speed of the motorboat just above the water surface, the smell of rain hanging in the air, the taste of wet and dripping, subdued and afraid sunlight, the all pervading noise of complete silence, only broken incidently by the soft touch of cold air on my ears, I could not think of anything non-consequential like the struggles, sorrows and rewards life. I just used to curl up my legs and hold on to my jacket a bit more tightly to counter that ever penetrating cold. But my eyes were always looking into the distance, trying to absorb as much as possible.

A photographer's dilemma

Its not the latest news that the world is a cruel and a partial place to live but nowhere does this cruelity and this partiality manifests itself with more force than in the field of photography.

Consider an amateaur photographer, serenely proud of the latest Nikon digital SLR which shot a thousand dollars out of his bank account, a bit overwhelmed by the monstrous contraption that is his new gadget, but nevertheless, deriving hope from the impeccable scenery in front of him and from the confidence which he gained by reading all those reviews which told him that his newly bought camera takes the most amazingest of all photos.

He looks almost patronisingly at the helpless orange sun, the soon to be captured in a 3/2, infinity of the ocean, and those myriad colours which will soon be mercilessly decomposed into RGB. He cannot help but allow himself that smirk of pity which is the natural outcome on the face of a sadist professor when he recieves the answer sheet of the most hopeless student of the class. Confidently, he aims his camera towards the spectacle in the same way as the first German Panzer would have done against the helpless Polish army and prepares to shoot. And then it hits him. Is the focus right? What should I do with the exposure? The Aperture? The filters? The colour balance?

As he is ruminating over these technical sounding words, mother nature, in one of her infinite wisdoms, decides to give the proud snob a piece of her mind and starts pushing the sun down into the ocean at an ever accelerating pace. The photographer, now nervous, discovers the wisdom in the saying that "something is better than nothing" and arrives at the conclusion that "It is now or never". He selects some settings which he thinks will do justice to both the spectacle and his prodigious talent and clicks.

Back in his home, he shows his day's accomplishment to some of his friend's with the enthusiasm of a 5 year old showing off his new toys. He expects some "Ah so beautiful"s, some "How the hell"s and some jealous shuffles. An uneasy silence ensues. Is it approval? I am sure that they cannot find words to describe the beauty that I managed to capture in these photos. Or is it...? And then someone speaks up. "Its fine.".

Now I do not need to explain that "fine" is the cruelest of all human inventions. It never really intends what it means. You use it when you do not want to be rude. It is, on most occasions, the embodiment of total disapproval, just a nice way of saying "you do not have much future here son!". And our amateaur photographer, howsoever hopeless in photography, understands this innuendo perfectly, if not by his ability at detecting hidden meanings but surely by the utter hopeless despair with which the following words were spoken - "Its fine".



And I moved my face closer, the rose petal, shimmering in the redness of health, bent near the edges like a child streching his arms after having woken up from a deep sleep, smelling of diving fragrance, filled most of my view. A lone dew-drop, lying confused on its silky skin, reflected my captivated presence on its silvery, transparent surface. As I moved my head a little sideways, the surface of the drop of liquid shone in the brilliance of a dazzling array of colours as it captured the might and the heat of sun in her humble existence. Queer, isn't it? The fact that something as small and insignificant as a drop of water is sufficient to express the complete beauty of something as harsh as the Sun. You can never realize that beauty by looking directly at it. It does not reflect from the surfaces of rivers and oceans. No amount of power can extract that miniscule colourful beauty from its severe heat and light. And yet. Give it the soft touch of the curves of a dew drop and it melts into a beautiful play of colours. As the wind picked up speed, the rose petal started quivering. The dew drop, now helpless and confused, tried to hold her spot against the inevitable but finally gave up and fell off on the ground below. And all that remained on the surface was a faint and intermittent streak of water.

I waited for some more time and when that streak also vanished into thin air, I decided to move on.



Before writing anything I would like to mention that by writing this post, I am pretty much defeating the whole purpose of writing this post. I shall explain this statement at the end.

Recently, I abruptly deleted my Orkut account. People asked me the reason behind this sudden decision to which I replied that I just felt like it so I deleted the account. It was more an attempt to avoid further questions than anything else. In reality, the main reason behind this decision of mine was a growing sense of frustration on my part regarding how blatantly I wasted my time on Orkut. At this point I should make it clear that I never consider anything that I do, a timewaste, till it brings me some kind of pure, unadulterated pleasure. As an example, I have been spending atleast 6 hours daily, browsing for news, pictures, trivia etc. about Audrey Hepburn for the last 1 week but I do not think that it is a timewaste. I do not really care what others think as long as this activity makes me happy.

On the other hand, the problem with Orkut was that I was never able to devote any time to it without a sense of guilt. This guilt emanated from my subconscious realization that most of the things that I did on Orkut or that others do, conceal a veiled sense of vanity. The whole purpose of the site is to cash in on the most evil and most prevalent of all human shortcomings i.e. vanity. And this was precisely the argument which embarrased me, scolded me, jerked me and finally woke me up. I almost despised myself for falling into the trap. So I simply withdrew my account.

This brings me to my all important questions. Where does this vanity begin and where does it end ? How much of it should be acceptable before it gets vulgar and blatant ? In what forms does it reveal itself and finally, is it necessary for the existence of society ?

These are big philosophical questions and I would not dare go into their answers with my limited knowledge and understanding. The one thing I can say is that the fact that I want people to read this itself is a form of vanity which in effect defeats whatever I have been talking about. Maybe I will have to stop someday.


Audrey Hepburn

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" said John Keats, and seldom has man spoken with such precision of observation and such truthful words. Audrey Hepburn certainly represents that beauty.

That joy manifests itself through those big, wide, innocent, endearing eyes. It hugs to the exquisitely carved features of her face and the perfection of her eyebrows. It drips through the urchinesque, naughty contours of her smile and the intoxicated curves of her hair. It breathes in the slenderness of her figure, in the fragility of her fingers, in the ivory perfection of her complexion and the graceness of her movements.

This admiration is not akin to that of a Julia Roberts, or Zeta Jones, or for that matter any other contemprory heroine. This admiration is akin to the admiration which arises when I see the myriad colours of the rainbow on the frail surface of a soap bubble. This admiration is mixed with the fear that, 'go too close' and the spectacle will vanish. Such a beauty can only survive in the safety of aloofness. It should not realise that I am watching. Like a butterfly on a flower. Like the quantum uncertainities.

And I keep watching, hoping that such works of perfect art should last forever even when I am aware that it is not possible. I hope against hope that those eyes will somehow, always retain their liquid brilliance. That that smile will never get polluted by those wretched wrinkles. That those plaits will keep shining in their silken luminiscence till eternity. I hope, but in vain as reality rears its ugly head. And then I look at her photograph again and for that one second, reality is thrown into oblivion. As they say: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever".


Train Journey

बीते हुये महीने में जब देश वापस गया था तो दिल्ली से देहरादून का सफर मैंने ट्रेन से किया था । फ्लाईट से जा सकता था लेकिन मैंने सोचा कि इतने दिन बीत गये हैं, उत्तर प्रदेश की गरमी का अनुभव ट्रेन से नहीं किया । इसी कारणवश स्लीपर का एक टिकट बुक कराया और बड़ी आशाओं के साथ सफर शुरू किया । स्लीपर में जाने का भी एक विशेष उद्देश्य था । आप तो जानते ही होंगे कि जो आनंद चलती हुई ट्रेन की खिड़की के पास बैठकर, खेतों, पेड़ों और मैदानों से छन कर आने वाली हवा की खुशबू और शीतलता महसूस करने में है, वो ए.सी के बंद डिब्बे की क्रत्रिम ठण्ड में नहीं है । जो संतोष स्लीपर की खिड़की के जंग लगे लाल लोहे की छड़ों पर सिर रखकर, एकटक आँखों से बाहर का नज़ारा ताकने में है, वो ए.सी के काँच के पीछे से बाहर कि मिथ्या रंगो से रंगी दुनिया देखने में नहीं है । जो खुशी बारिश के मौसम में खिड़की से हाथ बाहर निकाल कर पानी की गीली स्वच्छता अनुभव करने में है, वो ए.सी के शीशे पे बाहर की ओर पानी की बूंदों द्वारा बनाये, मिटाये जा रहे चित्रों को अंदर से छूने के प्रयत्न में नहीं है ।

लेकिन मेरा मन स्लीपर की खिड़की के संकीर्ण सुख से नहीं भरता है कभी । मुझे तो ट्रेन के खुले दरवाजे की स्वतंत्रता चाहिये । मुझे तो अपने सामने अथाह, अनंत, असीमित मैदान, अपने पैरों के नीचे भागती हुई ट्रेन का तीव्र कंपन, अपने कानों में पहियों के नीचे चीखती पटरियों का क्रंदन और इस मंज़र में स्थिरता बनाये रखने के लिये अपने दोनो हाथों में दरवाजे के दोनो तरफ लगी हुई लोहे की छड़ों का स्वाद चाहिये । इसीलिये मैं अपना आधे से ज्यादा सफ़र हमेशा दरवाज़े पे खड़े रहकर करता हूं ! ऐसे में बाहर शून्य निगाहों से देखते हुये ये मन ना जाने कितनी दुनियां घूम आता है । कितने सारे सवाल पूछता है । कितने सवालों का उत्तर देता है । लेकिन सब चुपचाप, आहिस्ता से क्योंकि जानता है कि कानो में गूंज रहे शोर ने जिस शांती को जन्म दिया है, आँखों के आगे से गुज़र रहे नजारों ने जिस अंधेरे को जन्म दिया है, उसकी क्षणभंगुरता केवल एक आवाज़ के इंतज़ार में है ।

ऐसे ही खड़े खड़े ना जाने कितने घण्टे निकाल दिये होंगे मैने । होश तब आया जब गाड़ी धीमे होने लगी । अभी तो कोई स्टेशन नहीं दिख रहा है फिर गाड़ी कैसे रुकने लगी ? तभी दूर सामने एक छोटा सा स्टेशन दिखाई पड़ा । पूर्वनियोजित स्टाप नहीं था तो मैने सोचा कि शायद कुछ खराबी आ गयी हो । करीब ५०० मीटर खिसकने के बाद गाड़ी मानो ऐसे रुकी जैसे सोमवार की सुबह पांचवी क्लास का कोई बच्चा स्कूल जाने के लिये उठता है । वही आलस, वही हतोत्साह, वही दर्द और उसी तरह रोना । मैने भी सोचा की क्यों ना बाहर उतरके कुछ खाने का प्रबंध किया जाये । स्टेशन पर कोई नहीं था । बल्कि स्टेशन खुद केवल १०० गज का होगा । उस समय ३ बज रहे थे तो मेरे खयाल से बाकी सहयात्री दोपहर की नींद पूरी कर रहे थे । मैं वहां लगी एक बेंच पे जाकर बैठ गया और इधर उधर नज़रें घुमाने लग गया । उस दिन गर्मी इतनी नहीं थी लेकिन धूल बहुत उड़ रही थी । हवा के इस वेग ने खेतों पर फैली हरितिमा में एक बहता स्थायित्ब पैदा कर दिया था । दूर दूर तक फैले सन्नाटे का शोर असहनीय था और इस कर्णभेदी चुप्पी को यदा कदा चीरती कुछ पंछियों की आवाज़ें । जहां तक नज़र दौड़ा रहा था, बस पेड़ों और फसलों की पत्तियों पर हसता हुआ सूरज दिख रहा था। धूल, हवा के साथ उड़ उड़ कर बालों में घुस रही थी और अकेले खड़े उदासीन पीपल के व्रक्ष को परेशान कर रही थी । दूर पीने के पानी के नल से टपक रही रसधार हवा के वेग के कारण अपना रास्ता छोड़ टेढ़ी हो चली थी और प्यासी धरती की त्रष्णा बुझा रही थी । रेल की पटरी इस तरफ भी असीमित, अकेले शून्य की ओर भागती दिख रही थी और उस तरफ़ भी, और इन दो अनंन्तताओं को विभाजित कर रही थी मेरी ट्रेन और यह छोटा सा स्टेशन । सीटी बजने पर मैं वापस अपनी सीट पे चला गया । आधा सफ़र लगभग हो गया था और बाकी आधा मुझे सोते हुये बिताना था ।


Snakes on a Plane

Well I admit it. Moved by my baser instincts, I WATCHED IT. I watched Snakes on a Plane. Not as a part of someone's birthday party but at a cost of 9 freaking dollars. And how do I feel? I have my head held high and am beaming with the smile of self-satisfaction. YES I DID IT AND I WILL DO IT AGAIN.

No matter how foolish the movie seems by its title, one thing is for sure. You have no idea HOW FOOLISH it is unless you have seen it. The only thing more foolish than the movie's premise could be two snakes, dressed in whites and replete with a hat, driving the plane with 10 more snakes serving as air hostesses. But I am not complaining. The movie promised ridiculousness and it broke all barriers of logic. The movie promised cheap thrills and frills and it will take another Ed Wood and the rest of his next life to beat the cheapness of the thrills in this movie. Quiet simply, the movie is so crappy, it has transcended its critics. Their collective expertise is overshadowed by the monstrous ridiculity of the movie. In fact, after the initial jolt, I began enjoying it. For someone like me who is a fan of bad (so bad its good type) cinema, this movie is the pinnacle of human achievement. As someone rightly said, "this movie is quiet simply, the best movie ever made about snakes on a plane!"



आज जब जुदा होने की बात आई,

यह समां इतना रंगीन क्यों हो गया,
मेरा महबूब कुछ ज़्यादा हसीन क्यों हो गया है ।

पानी पे चाँद इतना खुश क्यों लग रहा है,
बीता हुआ वक़्त आज इतना क्यों सुलग रहा है ।

हवाओं की ठण्डी थपकी में आज यह नरमी कैसी ?
रात की कोमल रोशनी में भला यह गरमी कैसी?

और तुम्हारे बारे में क्या कहूं ?

"रंगो, छंदों में समायेगी, किस तरह से इतनी सुंदरता ?"

आज इन आँखों में चांद की शरारत चमक रही है
जैसे कि कितने सारे राज़ इनकी गहराईयों से बाहर आने को बेताब हों
कितने सारे सवाल, कितने सारे किस्से इसकी गर्त में दफ़्न
दिल को कितना ज़्यादा भेद रहीं हैं यह आज
जैसे ना चाहते हुये भी बीते हुये खुशगवांर वक्त की दुहाई दे रहीं हों

और इन होठों पे एक अनसुनी, अनकही दास्ताँ है
मुस्कुराहट इनकी कैद से रहरहकर बाहर झाँक रही है,
जैसे एक डगमगाते हुये, भरे हुये पैमाने से मै की दो बूंदे गिरने को बेताब हों

इन अधखुले होठों पर इतना निमंत्रण क्यों है ?
इस दिल में बेवजह ही इतना कंपन क्यों है ?
इन आँखों के तीर मेरे दिल के पार हो रहे
मेरे सारे हौसले तेरे सामने बेकार हो रहे !

लेकिन ना जानते हुये भी कितनी स्वार्थी हो गयी हो तुम
तुम्हारे इस रूप ने इस कातिलाना मंज़र के साथ मिलके मेरे मन में हज़ार सवाल पैदा कर दिये हैं
इस जुदाई की सार्थकता के बारे में सोचने लग गया हूं।
तुम्हारे बगैर इस सफर की असहनीयता के बारे में सोचने लगा हूं
मैं कितना कमज़ोर, कितना बेचारा और तुम कितनी निष्ठुर, कितनी दूर ।

"इस पार प्रिये, मधु है तुम हो, उस पार न जाने क्या होगा

द्रग देख जहाँ तक पाते हैं, तम का सागर लहराता है
फिर भी उस पार खड़ा कोई, हम सबको खींच बुलाता है
मैं आज चला तुम आओगी, कल, परसों, सब संगी साथी
दुनिया रोती धोती रहती, जिसको जाना है जाता है
मेरा तो होता मन डगमग, तट पर ही के हलकोरों से
जब मैं एकाकी पहुंचूंगा, मझधार न जाने क्या होगा
इस पार प्रिये, मधु है तुम हो, उस पार न जाने क्या होगा"


Hindi or English

Some people recently asked me, "Why have you started posting so many of your posts in Hindi" ? And I kept quiet. Not because of a lack of reasons but because I had too many of them.

The first and foremost reason that came to my mind was an unsaid, subdued sense of revolt on my part against the shimmering facade of a continuously rotting Indian society. Now I could go on and on till eternity without breaking a sweat in reviling and blasting those moms who would rather say "betcha (polluted form of बेटा) corn खाने से stomach में ache हो जायेगा" in the hope that even if her "yet being anglicised" toddler catches a stomach ache on account of the comprehensive impenetrability of her recent gibberish, will atleast move in the right direction away from the poor and pathetic India which is hopelessly polluted by her mothertongue. I could give a million examples without saying an Ah! of those youngsters who try to mercilessly maul language and convert a "my" to "ma" and then to "moi" and finally to "mie" in the hope of forging their unique identity and sounding "khool (polluted form of cool) and who never for a second realize that all achievements both superficial and otherwise, rest on the strength of character and self belief and not on the crutches of a handicapped and bleeding language. I could laugh my ass off at those celebrities who do not anymore possess the talent of entirely speaking in their own language and have to resort to the familiarity of English every now and then. I could laugh surely but I won't as my heart cries out for the apathy which our regional languages have to face in our mass hypnotized nation.

But this is not the reason I have started posting so many of my posts in Hindi. The sole reason behind this is the dawn of my understanding of the subtle possibilities, the creative horizons and succint, inherent power of the Hindi language. The reading of Harivansh Rai Bachchan's नीड़ का निर्माण फिर, Mahadevi Verma's अतीत के चलचित्र, मधुशाला etc. has awakenden me to the immense facets of the language. I can safely say that whereas on one hand English seems to be better at expressing formality and logic, it can hardly match the silken fluidity of Hindi and Urdu at expressing emotions. It seems to me that this effect is do to the overexposure of English and some of its inherent weaknesses. Whereas we all have grown up studying English literature and are cognizant of its twists and turns, a simple verse in Hindi (Urdu) is enough to knock us off our sleep, sit up and take notice. Ironically, this is because of the unfamiliarity with the language which the Indian culture has introduced in us. Second reason is the simple fact that Hindi is better suited to rhymes and verses than English. One of my previous posts (Plight of an English poet) dwells on this. As an example, read these lines which describe the utter hopelssness and cynicism of a poet:

क्या करूं संवेदना लेकर तुम्हारी?
एक भी उच्छवास मेरा
हो सका किस दिन तुम्हारा?
उस नयन में बह सकी कब
इस नयन की अश्रुधारा?
सत्य को मूंदे रहेगी
शब्द की कब तक पिटारी ?
क्या करूं संवेदना लेकर तुम्हारी?

I would be more than happy to explain them if someone has any problems, but my point is that it is impossible to express something so subtle, so beautifully in English. Its just impossible. Atleast I haven't seen anything comparable till now.

Finally, I would end by urging that please give your languages the attention they deserve. Not because you owe anything to them or because it is your unsaid duty but because you would deprive yourselves of the immense treasures, those languages might be holding within. I will end by saying that I have nothing against English but I simply hate it when it becomes a status symbol in the hands of some non-discerning fools and ends up trampling and stomping our already tottering national language.


15 August

आज पूरे ६ साल बाद अपने पुराने स्कूल के स्वतंत्रता दिवस समारोह पे गया था। इतने दिनो बाद पहली बार यह अवसर आया था जब १५ अगस्त के दिन मैं लखनऊ में ही था। इसलिये मैने सोचा कि क्यों ना कुछ पुरानी यादें ताज़ा कर ली जायें। बड़ी मुशकिल से सुबह सात बजे उठकर, तय्यार होकर साढ़े सात बजे तक स्कूल पहुच गया।

दरवाज़े पर गार्ड ने एक अपरिचित चेहरा देखने पर कुछ सवाल पूछे और सन्तुष्ट होने पर गाड़ी अन्दर ले जाने दी। मुझे ध्यान है कि मेरे समय में गार्ड केवल नाम-मात्र होता था। उसको एक अमरूद दे दो तो खुद ओसामा-बिन-लादेन को अन्दर जाने की अनुमती दे देता। क्योंकि ध्वजारोहण में अभी भी आधा घण्टा बचा था तो मैने स्कूल का एक चक्कर लगाने का निर्णय लिया। जिस स्टाफ रूम में पहले जाने में पसीना आता था और अन्दर पहुचते ही अनायास ही हाथ पीछे और चाल सीधी हो जाती थी, वो थोड़ा निर्जीव सा लगा। ऐसा नहीं है कि अन्दर घुसते ही कुछ नज़रे मुझ पर नहीं गड़ गयी थीं लेकिन आज वो नज़रे मुझे टटोल नहीं रही थीं। आज उनमे वो सवाल नहीं था कि 'बेटा आज क्या घपला किया'। अगर उनमे कुछ था तो बस एक रुचिहीन कौतूहल। प्रिन्सिपल का कमरा वैसे का वैसा ही था और स्पोर्टस फील्ड में भी अधिक बदलाव नहीं था अलबत्ता उसके चारो ओर की दीवारें ऊँची हो गयी थी (हमारे क्लास के बच्चे उसको फाँद फाँद के मूवी देखने खूब जाते थे)। फिज़िक्स लैब वगैरह में L.C.D प्रोजेक्टर लग गये हैं लेकिन वही ३० साल पुरानी काँच की शीशियां जिनके लेबल आज से ६ साल पहले ही धुधले पड़ गये थे, वही पुराने चार्ट जिनको शायद ही कोई बच्चा पढ़ता हो कभी, वही आरामतलबी टीचर्स और खड़ूस लैब-असिस्टैंट।

आठ बजने में १० मिनट पर मौरनिंग असेम्बली की तय्यारियां शुरू हुईं तो मुझे वो दिन याद आ गये जब एक साल बीतने का अनुभव सिर्फ प्राईमरी के बच्चों से हर साल बढ़ती दूरी के रूप में होता था। बारहवी क्लास और हममे और उन नादानों में १० लाईनों का फासला! प्रिंसिपल के हाथों ध्वजारोहण हुआ और साथ में राष्ट्र गान। मैं ये कभी नहीं समझ पाया कि मेरे लिये राष्ट्र गान का महत्व पहले की बनिस्पत अब इतना ज़्यादा क्यों हो गया है। पहले जिसे मैं सिर्फ एक गीत और ज़िम्मेदारी समझता था, अब उसके मायने कहीं दिल से जुड़ गये हैं। और आज जब मौका स्वतंत्रता का था और सामने तिरंगा लहरा रहा था, मैं अपने हाथों पर खड़े हो रहे रोओं की सरसराहट साफ महसूस कर रहा था। हवाओं मे गूंजते 'ऐ मेरे वतन के लोगों' के स्वर मेरे कानों में प्रतिध्वनित हो हो कर दिल की धड़कनों को उकसा रहे थे। मुझे नहीं पता की और लोग भी ऐसा महसूस करते हैं कि नहीं लेकिन मैं साफ समझ रहा था कि उस दिन क्यों पण्डित नेहरू अपने आँसू नही रोक पाये थे।

कार्यक्रम के अन्त में प्रिन्सिपल साहब की एक उबाऊ स्पीच (कुछ चीज़ें कभी नहीं बदलतीं!) और फिर मिष्ठान वितरण (२ लड्डू!)। वापस आते समय सोच रहा था कि उन दो लड्डूओं वाले समय के लिये आज मैं क्या नहीं दे सकता।


A cricketing slugfest

आँखों मे जलती धूप और मुह पे लू के थपेड़े,
पसीने से भीगी शर्ट और धूल धूसरित उज्जड़ बाल ।
रहरहकर नंगे पैरों में चुभते वो कंकड़ हजार,
अगली गेंद से नज़र हटने का लेकिन ना कोई सवाल ।

मुनियों की सी एकाग्रता और गेंदबाज पे पैनी नज़र,
गदा समान बल्ला मुठ्ठी में कसकर पकड़ खड़े तय्यार ।
फील्डर और सीमा का, अवचेतन मन में चित्र खिंचा,
तन गई भुकुटी लो शुरू हुआ अब अगली बाल का इंतजार ।

अपना पूरा ज़ोर लगाकर, गेंदबाज ने फेकी गेंद,
सन्नाटे को चीरती बढ़ती, ध्वनि-सीमा को कर गई पार ।
एक कदम कर पीछे लेग पे, बल्लेबाज ने बल्ला भांजा,
दम टूटा फील्डर का पीछे, आगे देखो हो गये चार ।

उल्लासोन्मादित हर्षित दर्शकगण, चहक उठे और उछल पड़े,
तालियों और नारों कि गूंजों से, होता जीत का अभिवादन ।
बल्लेबाज कंधों पे चढ़कर, प्रशंसा का करता रसपान,
हार कठिन है सहनी लेकिन, उससे भी दुष्कर यह क्रंदन !


I remember

न जाने क्यों, अचानक आज वो दिन याद आ गये जो अभी तक बीते हुये सावन में मिट्टी की सोंधी महक की तरह दिल के किसी कोने में, धूल कि कई परतों के नीचे दबे हुये थे।

मुझे याद हैं वो लम्हे जब वो आँखें धड़कने तेज़ कर देती थीं।
मुझे याद है कैसे उसके सामने आवाज़ मेरा साथ छोड़ देती थी।
मुझे याद हैं वो पल जब वो एक नज़र एक नयी उमंग जगा देती थी, और कैसे मैं उन पलों को बार बार ज़हन में उलटता पलटता रहता था।
वो कुछ बार जब दो शब्द निकले हों मेरे मुह से।
वो कुछ बार जब दो शब्द निकले हों उसके मुह से।
वो शर्म से उसका उंगलियाँ चटकाना और रह रहकर बिना वजह किसी और ओर देखना।
वो बेबाकी से नज़रों का मिलाना।
वो मीठा सा तसव्वुर और बेसब्र इंतज़ार।
वो किताबों के पन्नो में उस सूरत की ख्वाहिश।
वो आँखों के आगे धुधलके की परत िजसपे वो चेहरा खिंचता था।

वो दिन जब आखिरी बार उसे देखा।
वो शब्द जो ज़ुबँा पे आ न सके।
वो अरमान जो इन आँखों के साथ ही पथरा गये।
कितना कुछ कहना था, कितना कुछ सुनना था,
शायद दोनो ओर से पहल का इंतज़ार रह गया।

और आज इन हाथो में फिसलती जा रही धूल बची है।
वो धुधलाता हुआ चेहरा जिसको अब पहचानना मुश्किल हो चला है।
गये सावन की वो महक जो अब एक याद बनकर रह गयी है।
डूबते हुये दिन की वो आखिरी किरणें।



Brave New World

Recently, a friend of mine asked me : "So what differences do you find between Indian and American culture ?"
I bluntly replied : "What culture ?"

Huxley's 'Brave New World' depicts a fictional dystopian society where everyone is happy. This happiness is not a result of personal milestones or successes but stems from the complete removal of every social aspect which might some day become a reason of unrest in the society. In this society, individuals are 'created' artificially based upon the demands of 'economic consumption' and 'labour'. Every individual, from birth, is conditioned to do a particular type of work and has the sole purpose of serving as yet another consuming unit. 'Distractions' like love, art, solitude, literature etc. have been conveniently removed from the system so that every individual may serve its purpose of consumption without any undue interruptions. 'Everyone is meant to be for everyone else' so that the pain associated with love and refusals is uprooted from the society. In short, everyone is happy.

While reading the book, I could not help but compare the nightmarish scenario depicted in the book with the present American society in general and the modern Indian society in particular. Having taken the blue pill of mindless capitalism, the dwellers of these societies have now been reduced to mere consuming units. Their lives are dictated by those idiotic TV commercials. Their needs, magnified by the giant corporations which try to sell them everything from nutritious and great tasting 'dog food' to credit cards to cars and what not. The notion that all these material amenities are necessary for emotional fulfillment and happiness is darkly etched in the collective psyche of these societies. Love in these societies, is conveniently compartmentalized into manageable, separate 'relationship' slots so that every 'break up' has the silver lining of being an indication of a new 'relationship'. Sitcoms like 'Sex and the city' expect us to identify with the emotions of the protagonist as she tries to overcome her 50th break-up. What crap!. In such societies, art, literature and happiness which results from solitude and silent contemplation die a cruel death as no one has time for such things. And this behaviour is entirely in accordance with the capitalist views. Its sad that in a place where events like valentine's day, mother's day, father's day and a zillion other days are marked by 10 advanced days of special advertisements of sales and discounts, a 4th of July passes off without even a single mention on the T.V. Sure, it is accompanied by fireworks but they are the prerogative of the Government not the people. Sure, it is accompanied by a host of parties, but I feel that people out here just need an excuse for getting wasted. This is not the sad part. The sad part is that the modern Indian society is frighteningly similar to its American counterpart.


A borrowed experience

It may be attributed to my own lack of creativity lately but this piece is encouraged by one of my friend's experiences.

The whole point in question is to pause for a second and analyze the hell out of the latest embarassing situation which your ingenuity has pushed you into. The situation does not need to be described in detail to you as it should be as familiar as your right hand and as unpleasently yellow as the stinking piece of vegetable which finds itself drenched in the light of the day after 3 months of neglected solitude in the lower most part of your refrigerator basket.

The situation rears its ugly head when you innocently remark over your hatred towards fatty foods in front of an especially portly person, when you ask a disabled subject, why the hell is he hobbling like that or when you start sermonizing over the utter futility of a particular academic field to your uncle whose dear toddler happens to have just started his career in the very same field.

The point of this post is not to summarize the various situations pertinent to the present discussion, for there are infinite, but to analyze the exact emotions which rush through the already cluttered mind during such circumstances.

The first thought which comes to mind in these cases is an unconscious realization that einstien's special relativity is flawed as without any apparent relative velocity between me and the subject of my comments (which by the way has become the most appealing aspect of all of physics at this moment) my clock has somehow become unbearably slow. The expressions on his face, which till now were as innocuous as the next person's, now stand out distinct, deprecating and deploring. He is trying hard to camouflage his embarassment with that forced and laborious streching of the left corner of his lip but reality is frustatingly being bombarded upon me by those wretched eyes which have blinked twice the normal number of times in the last 10 seconds. As I realize that probably history had just been witness to the longest period of speechlesness, my faculties go into an overdrive with the aim of salvaging whatever is possible in this hopelessly lost situation. What should I say next?

1. Well, I am sorry but somehow, inexplicably, inscrutably, I happened to overlook your enormous East-West expanse (a reply, sure to make the situation worse).
2. (matter of factly): by the way, did you happen to watch the finals of the french open? (how will I ever face myself in the mirror)
3. Shit!!! (most honest but honesty doesn't always make a digestible meal to everyone)

As I am ruminating over these possibilities, I again realize that 46 more seconds have been spent and now the probability of saving my face is lesser than my being hit by a lightning right at this very moment (a much pleasanter state) and I, in a rare display of callousness and daredevilry turn my face away as if nothing ever happened.


Sporty Nerves

Its 5:31 in the morning and I am sitting in front of the TV having just woken up after an extremely intermittent sleep waiting for the french open final between federer and nadal which is slated to begin in another 30 minutes.

I don't remember the last time when I woke up at 5:00 in the morning. Neither do I remember the last time I experienced such jittery nerves regarding a sport match. What I do remember is the fact that it used to be sometime about 8 years ago when a cricket match between India and Pakistan used to trespass my dreams in the night often culminating in my getting up just on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Those were the days when taking the next breath often took a lesser priority than the next ball and when the departure of Tendulkar often meant a fresh hole in the emotional fabric of my life. It is sad that I have not felt like this since a long time now. That is till now.

For the last few years, I have gotten so ennamoured by the genius of Federer that his victories have become my own and his losses, sad heart wrenching experiences. Since it is foolish to dissect emotion with something as crass as logic, I won't go into the reasons of my feeling this. I would only go as far as saying that I love this. It makes my life complete. To feel that gut wrenching nervousness, that rush of adrenaline over a brilliant passing shot, an almost unannounced shriek accompanied with that raised fist at another victory, is as innocent and raw as emotions get.

If only I could feel like this for another India-Pakistan slugfest.


The Reservation Impasse

For about a month now, I have been following the quota controversy as closely as is humanely possible by a person residing in the U.S. My opinion over the issue, thereby, has undergone several cuts and chips over this period of time. Begining from an intense emotional backlash and ending in a much more rational interpretation of the situation, I think I am in a good enough position to comment over the issue now.

The spark

A few months back, the Justify Fullcoalition Government of India headed by the Congress party introduced 27% reservations for OBCs (Other Backward Classes) in all the institutes of "national importance" (later extended to all institutes of higher education). This decision was promulgated by the HRD (Human Resource and Development) minister, Arjun Singh. Summing with the already existing 22.5% reservation for SC/ST, this decision took the total reserved seats to 49.5% (just .5% shy of the upper limit of 50% reservation set by the Supreme Court of India). This decision came just before the assembly elections which are supposed to be held in 5 states. Caste politics which has always been the most important vote garnering means in India seemed to be the reason behind this sudden decision. When enquired (and to some degree reprimanded) by the Election commission over an alleged breach of the model code of conduct (which prohibits parties from promulgating populist measures just before an election is due), Arjun Singh took refuge in the argument that the present decision was just a natural succession of the 93rd constitutional amendment passed in the winter of 2005 (which was unanimously passed in the Parliament). Although sound, the argument failed to explain the fact that the constitutional amendment was just an enabling act and unlike many other such acts which are languishing and begging for attention, what was the reason that this particular act had to be implemented at such a crucial time.

The Mandal Controversy

There is a very important reason behind the nationwide political support to the reservation issue. The Mandal Commission, constituted in 1980s to assess the composition of India's caste fiber among other factors, came up with a figure of 52% OBC. The commission in an effort for suggesting ways by which the oppressed majority of the Indian population could be brought in par with the upwardly mobile middle class supported the implementation of limited reservations. The commission however went on to suggest other steps like improving primary education, land reforms etc also. It was not until 1990 that the suggestions of the Mandal commission were given a thought. The then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh decided to incorporate 22.5% SC/ST (the most oppressed classes) reservations in higher institutes neglecting all the other suggestions owing to their low political visibility. By doing so, he opened the pandora's box. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which has traditionally ridden on the upper caste votes vehemently opposed the move then. They were made to bite the dust as caste emerged as the latest dividing and polarizing factor in Indian politics. The move created huge uproar among the general public and culminated in the self immolation of several youths. Following this, V.P.Singh resigned as P.M and was succeded by P.V.Narasimha Rao. The caste division of politics got wider and uglier as national politics came to be dictated by caste leaders like Lalu, Mulayam, Mayawati and many more. Due to this BJP lost power in one of her stronghold states, Uttar Pradesh. Now that caste is very much the deciding factor in most of the constituencies across India and SC/ST+OBC votes range from a pessimistic estimate of 50% to an optimistic estimate of 80%, no political party dares to raise her head against the increase in reservations this time around.

The present agitations

The latest move angered the influential minority which comprises basically of the middle and the upper classes. Begining with strikes from the medical students of AIIMS in delhi, the protest as of today has engulfed the IMA (Indian Medical Association which has purview over other medical facilities across the country), the IITs along with many other engineering institutes, the chamber of commerce, the knowledge industry in general, the lawyers' association, trade unions, shops etc. Despite repeated pleas by the Govt. and the president (and once by the Supreme Court), the strike continues today, thus hampering critical services like medical etc. The quota move triggered the resignation of 2 of the 6 members of the knowledge commission (especially comprised by the Prime Minister to assess the education scenario of the country). The matter has now been taken up by the Supreme Court which has asked the central government about the rationale behind this decision in addition to asking the strikers to stop their protest.

My Views

Rationally speaking, I feel that in a highly heterogeneous society like India, reservations, if used judiciously, can serve as a strong means of achieving social equality. The fact that after 50 years, the need of reservation has only increased goes on to indicate that its implementation has been done from behind politically coloured glasses. The fact of the matter is that no political party (especially today's Congress) wants a rationally developed vote bank. The reason behind the widespread poverty and illiteracy in India is not any physical constraint but an underlying politican gain which stems from an impoverished majority. In such a scenario, political parties can garner votes over baser issues like caste and religion rather than more important topics like development and education. In this context, the present move is more the case of breaking the leg of a patient and providing him with walking sticks than striving to improve his condition and enabling him to stand on his feet. The whole issue stinks of political murkiness and I pretty much support the ensuing protests.

On the other hand, one has to keep in mind that SC/ST/OBC comprise atleast 50% (possibly much more) of the 1 billion Indians. These classes have traditionally been discriminated against and there is a genuine need to provide them with help and assistance. The help might come in the form of reservations but it should be based more on economic backwardness than the now abstract notion of caste backwardness. Moreover, any such move, which threatens to change the face of the country should be backed by more concrete numbers rather than the whims and fancies of one HRD minister.

Finally, over the apparently cold governmental response over the present strikes, I can only say that the middle class deserves such a treatment. The reason is the utter apathy which the middle class (sadly including me) displays over other issues of national importance (like the Coffin scam, Gujarat riots etc.). Now when it has suddenly woken up and started protesting, everything seems so selfish. How many of us really go and vote? If we are too busy to voice our opinions, the political parties would be more than happy to ignore our presence because as I already said, the oppurtunists called politicians thrive on an illiterate and divided India.



If you have been a veteran at the numerous screenings of those mind-numbingly dumb hollywood disaster flicks, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you are presented with a 360 degree span view of a garangutan ocean liner, the inners of which are ornately decorated with elaborate doses of blindingly affluent profligation. How and when the hell is all this going to be turned into a confused and lethal mass of mangled wires, upturned furniture and strewen dead bodies?

As you are rubbing your hands in expectation, the director of Poseidon, sympathetic to your 8 bucks, glosses over any unnecassary character development and jumps straight to the action within 15 minutes of the start of the movie. Without any detail being supplied, the hapless audience is told that the Poseidon has been struck by a 150 ft. rogue wave and the ship has turned upside down (as if the passengers, now standing on the cealing are dumb enough to not figure this out). The film is not helped by its irritatingly banal dialogues. At the time when the grand central ball room is looking like the mangled remains of Hiroshima after the bombing, replete with disfigured corpses flying around every which way, one person asks the other, "How bad is it". "Really bad". As this line basically sums up the movie you can only tear apart those last remaining hair.

As the most foolish captain in the history of foolish sea-disaster movies cries to maintain status-quo as he thinks that help will arrive shortly, it is no surprise when a group of dare-doers led by the affectedly unnerved Lucas decide to reach the hull of the ship and get out. From this point you can basically guess whats going to happen in the movie. The group consists of Lucas (the daredevil hero), a former mayor with his daughter and her boyfriend, a mother with her child, a mexican waiter, a latino and a suicidal gay businessman. As far as final survivors are concerned, you make the following conclusions:

1. The mother and the child are not going to die as possession of a child imparts an immortalty to the mother and it is too sickening to kill a child, no matter howsoever irritating and troublesome he might be.

2. Josh Lucas is not going to die as he is ofcourse the "Hero".

3. Either of the girl or his boyfriend might die but if she has an expendable father, both might get saved.

4. Since the mexican waiter and the latino are played by relatively unknown characters, they will be the first to die.

and the movie lives up to all these observations. The only other things which should have been un-guessable are well, guessable. Like the lift falling down when the last guy just makes out of the vent. The sudden movement by an assumed deadbody accompanied by an orchestral bang. The water drowing the hero for just as long as he might survive.

The sole revelation of the movie was that the actors, instead of being homo-sapiens, belonged to some kind of a human-fish breed who could hold their breaths for unimaginably long intervals of time and traverse unimaginably long distances under water.

A final word. You can put your time to better use by counting the number of grass strands in your lawn.


Random Musings

The day has become so cruel now. Its no more the friend which used to conspire in our plans, cheer at those shots, revelle in our victories, lament at losses, confide silently, listen patiently, wait for me. Now, its so much more detached. Like a salesman, always in a hurry, phoney, like life, critical, demanding, too busy to pause for a chat, too short to allow a breath, too long to bear, too hot for a liesurly introspection, too cold to be a friend.

I remember the rising of the annoyed dust as the first rain drops came crashing down. I remember the smell of the partially wet earth. The unusually fresh green of the garden. Those puddles. That warm touch of the cold water. The dripping flocks. The shivering wind. The unusually grey sky. Distant, muffled lightning. Streaks on my window pane. Ripples in the river. Jumping in the puddles. Two worlds, one wild and turbulent, other snug and cozy, separated by a glass window. Now, rain is reduced to an inconvenience. A temporary, unwanted hiatus disturbing normalcy. The window has gone lifeless. Its there just to serve the purpose. The metaphor is gone. And the rain, desolate now, cries quietly on the other side.

I wonder, have the sacrifices been worth the gains? In this rush, innocence has paled and died. Time is fragmented with each fragment already claimed. There is a thick coat of dust on real pleasures. And I shrink and flinch as I try to remove it. Finally I give up and that bundle of joys, now blurred and hidden in the dust which binds my hands, hangs on the wall, sad, lonely, perhaps disillusioned and on its deathbed. And I look on, with nostalgic eyes, weigh reason against emotion, and turn away yet again.


Palomar valley

Our car came to a halt in one of the designated parking lots.

Peeping from inside the car, I managed to appreciate the foggy clarity of the valley outside. It was drenched with sunlight but I knew that sunlight was competing with the effects of high altitude and chilling winds. From the touch of the cold window pane, I could make out the elaborate comouflage of the nature outside. I stepped out onto the clean, black tarmac of the parking lot. Cold breeze, filtering through myriad trees, bushes and flowers on the surrounding mountains sent a shiver down my spine. The calliphany of the songs of the birds, floating in the air with the breeze, exploded through the deafening silence which permeated the atmosphere. In the front lay an amazing sight. Miles and miles of vast empty grassland sparsely dotted with occasional lonely trees punctuated on all sides by enormous mountains. It was quiet. Extremely quiet. So quiet so that even the flow of water far out somewhere in the grassland could be heard clearly. The silence of the vast empty land was broken only by the low chirping of blue mountain birds. The atmosphere was filled with some kind of extreme sloth. Even the strands of grass did not stand erect but chose to sway towards one side as if under somekind of a trance. Sun shone with all its fatherly warmth on the tips of those strands and made their surfaces glisten with a crystally shimmer. The lush green trees which marked the boundary of the immense wasteland stood silently, patiently, with bowed heads, trying to absorb what I was witnessing. Nature in its immense glory.

Believe me, if you could not see what I saw, could not feel what I felt, the flaw is in my limiited ability at being able to describe the undescribable.


Federer Mania

I guess this was expected sooner or later. Considering how big a fan I am of Roger Federer, it was only a matter of time when I wrote a small piece as an ode to his genius.

I heard of the man during the course of Wimbledon '04. Even at that relatively early period, pundits of the game had started hailing Federer as one of the best natural talents ever to grace a tennis court. Remembering the old saying that 'where there is smoke, there is fire', I decided to follow the slam and the man. Needless to say, there was something special in him but the one aspect which really impressed me was the clinical precision of his methods. Like an experienced practitioner, the man never ever gave any indication of his emotions. It seemed to me that he had everything figured out and there was nothing at all, atleast on the tennis court which could surprise him. He ended all his matches with a small smile, a courteous handshake, a ceremonial wristband throw, and a climactic clap of his raised hands. I liked that lazy, confident arrogance which seemed to say, 'I know the result. Its just a formality'.

After that wimbledon, I have followed his matches most diligently and am happy to say that even a die hard believer in his abilities like me has been surprised by the meteoric rise that the man himself has registered in the last 3 years. From a cold killer, he has now become a silent, calculating, winning machine. And with this, he has developed a repertoire of shots, which is unparalleled in history and some of which are really beyond the wildest imaginations of the craziest sport player and fan. His version of the game has now transcended the game itself. Its more like music. A Don Bradman setup such records in cricket which might never be surpassed but his technique could never be termed perfect. A Tiger woods might go on to become the greatest golfer ever, but he sometimes lacks the humility which should accompany success. A Michael Jordan will be remembered as the best basketball player ever but he was also nasty sometimes. Federer is all of these men and more. He combines perfection with humility, a combination extremely rare to find.

For those who are not yet a fan of this man, just a look at some of his records,

Federer won all his matches against the next 10 ranked players from October 2003 to January 2005

He has won 24 straight finals. The second best in history was 12

During 2004,05,06, he lost only 8 matches, winning 180 odd.

He has won all the grand slam finals he has reached which is a record.

He has won 52 straight matches on hard court. The second highest was 35.

He has won 37 straight matches on grass and is eyeing the record of 42 this wimbledons

He is already half way through the tally of 14 grand slams of Pistol Pete and he is only 24

All of the above is quite surprising, but I like him for his rendition of the art that he has made of Tennis. I adore him for the almost spiritual exhilaration which I feel while watching him play.



To a reader blessed with a reasonable amount of Intelligence Quotient, the facts that I have a lot of time in hand and that I am inconsiderate and profligate enough to squander this entity, which to many, represents the most valuable possession possible but which, if endowed in abundance over someone like me can only result in its criminal abuse, should manifest themselves quiet readily upon his glancing over this piece, which has to its credit, neither one of the chains of logical reasoning which made many an illustrious careers, in fields as diverse as mathematics, philosophy, physics, investigative detection and professions of these sorts, most notably that of the victorian sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, nor does it have the emotional punch which might bring that tear at the corner of your eyes, nor does it claim to be comic, but in essence, is written just to test the sole capability of the writer in conveying his ideas in as long a sentence as his ability allows and the limits upto which a reader might go before turning dizzy, insane and possibly extremely hostile, the latter effect which is affected by the simple fact that it is not at all easy, making sense of all the blabbering which went into the last few lines and to deal with the realization finally that it was all, indeed, never intended to make any worldly sense, is very understandable but I hope that the reader will be able to recover from this taruma and shall read my other blogs which surely mmake much more sense.


Plight of an English poet

I was watching this program called dirty jobs on discovery when I started wondering, what could be the most despicable and painful job in the world. It did not take me long to zero-in on the poets who squander their complete lives trying to rhyme those wretched emotions which have this uncanny habit of popping up in any and every line of any and every discussion with words which you will never ever use in a decent, sane discussion but which turn out to be the last straw in this unabashedly rhyme-starved world. These poets lose much of their hair and sanity in the search of this fool's gold. To top it all is the obligation that it all has to make some freaking sense. No, not to everyone for then it will be too easy and mundane. The poem should be screwed-up enough not to be too transparent and logical enough to make sense if a reader having a reasonable I.Q is ready to scratch the bottom of the barrel in search of meanings and interpretations.

The problem is much more acute for an english poet due to some very important factors. For eg. which is the one word that you think represents the most important and recurring emotion in the poetic hyperspace?............ Why, its 'love'. And which are the words which would rhyme with this all pervasive emotion. Now you have started scratching your head. This is the plight I am talking about. The best you can do is probably 'dove' or going to the extreme, 'skies above' and the buck stops there ('shove, glove etc. are termed too dry and it would take a real heartless foolish poet to use them in his poems). Its almost as if the makers of the english language had some personal hatred against the poets of the future. Compare it with the hindi language. The hindi equivalent of love is pyaar which can be conveniently rhymed with zillions of words like ikraar, intezaar, bekaraar, sarkaar etc. (And believe me, all those zillion combination have already been beaten to death in the hindi movies). If you atlast run out of all these combinations, Hindi has provided you with the freedom of making up your own non-sensical words so that even the most talentless poet can rhyme 'pyaar' with 'vyaar' and 'ishq' with 'vishq'. This fact has a very strong impact on the society in general. When a little johnny goes up to his father and says that he wants to be a poet, the father conveniently kills his innocent ambition by the words- "Why johnny. You know how tough a life these poets lead? Even of you are ready to face those hardships, will you ever be able to find rhyming words with love, heart, cry, eyes?" And little johnny reluctantly sees reason in this charade and drops all his plans of becoming a poet and starts concentrating on sports (presumably the easier field). On the other hand when a pappu asks his papa the same question, the papa can only look to pappu's bleak future in dismay as he knows that even pappu, with his limited IQ, can rhyme words in this hopelessly romantic Hindi language. And the Indian sports arena suffers another setback.

I believe that this very important factor has lead to the development of a class of poetry in English which does not have rhyming words as one of its prerequisites. You can basically write a prose on the economic repercussions in socialist russia, punctuate it with a large number of unnecessary commas, colons and semicolons, break it into different lines and submit the final product as a poetry in the International poetry competition and stand a good chance of winning the first prize in this hopelessly rhyme-impaired english world. You cannot do the same in India. Upon doing this, you stand a good chance of being reviled as uncreative, boring and many a times even blasphemous. Why else did you leave the comforts of the discovered territory and venture into the unknown and the wild?


Rang de Basanti

Well I finally saw it. After receiving such good reviews from people about the movie and getting comments like "I" would particularly like the subject and the treatment, I finally saw it tonight. It is 4:24 in the morning and I am writing this blog instead of going to sleep because the movie was based upon a subject which I value very dearly and contrary to expectations, I did find some flaws in the treatment of the movie.

The movie is based upon the transformation which is brought about in the lives of 5 young men after they come to learn about the sacrifices of indian freedom fighters upclose. This transformation then leads them to kill the defence minister as they hold him responsible for the Mig. crashes which have become routine lately.

The first and foremost irony which the movie depicts very successfully is the fact that we as youth of this generation are sadly unconcerned about the idea that India is. Looking at the growth that India has been registering lately (although it effects a small minority), it becomes difficult to decide whether this is not the country which was in the visions of those who died for her independence. On the other hand, the rampant corruption, the disgusting politics along with many other such factors make me believe that surely a Chandrashekhar Azad died for something better. The sad part is that all of this is conveniently ignored for daily chores by all of us today.

The depiction of the lives of Azad, Bhagat Singh, Ram in the movie is more history than innovation and improvisation although its effect on the protagonist is handled pretty efficiently by good direction. The director somehow forgets the fact that India is still a democracy wherein it is just not possible to order a lathi charge on peaceful demonstrators in the glaring presence of today's stifling media. The situation looks more like an autocratic society. Same is the case with the ending of the movie wherein the killing of the young men who had surrendered gives an indication that the director is trying to pull the strings too far in order to get his point through. If not from a moral conscience, the material, and political repercussions alone can dissuade a democratic government from taking such a step.

Finally the most important question. Was the killing of the defence minister justified? I have always believed that such corrupt politicians belong to the social strata which comes way below that of a despicable pig. I have always believed that such people have long lost their right to live and are now only a burden to the society which the societ would do well to throw off. But practicality does not rest on beliefs. Frankly, I don't find anything wrong in the idea of killing those who are guilty of such hienous practices but the justice should be dealt to all and not just one person. The problem with this theory is that even if you identify all those with tainted linens, their number is so huge that killing them may first of all be practically impossible and second may induce a kind of anarchy in the society. Recently I had a very nice discussion with one of my friends on this topic and I was almost led to believe that such a solution although swift and emotionally fulfilling may lead to instability in the society in the long run. I hate to admit the fact but I have come to support this argument in some measure. The solution maybe lies in democratically fighting the disease that is politics. Finally I would like to put forth the following points and conclude this topic:

1. We know that something is terribly screwed up in the Indian society.
2. We know that the most educated section of the society is the one which is most removed from any concerns about the situation.

In such a situation, how practical is the democratic solution? For me the light only comes from the solution potrayed in the movie. As they say: "It sometimes requires a bang to wake up the sleeping"


The only verdict is Vengeance

Remember remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason,
should ever be forgot

Thus starts the movie which belongs to that rare breed which makes you hate it, love it but most importantly brood upon it. Based upon Alan Moore's 1984 graphic novel titled "V for Vendetta", the movie would have been just another visit to the multiplex if it did not have elements, symbolisms and references pertinent to the present world situation.

The million dollar question here is that where do you draw the line between right and wrong. Between moral and immoral. Between nationalism, jingoism and terrorism. Does an end justify the means or do the means have to be moral? What difference would have been made if India, instead of achieving freedom through Mahatma Gandhi's means, achieved it through Subhash Chandra Bose's path. Should terrorism be seen in black and white?

The movie does not attempt to answer any of these questions. It just throws in some shades of grey in the vastly bichromatic vision of the masses. It really makes you wonder, what would you choose - autocracy or anarchy. The movie or rather the comic book is inspired by a real person named Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the British parliament on the 5th of November, 1605. Although his attempt failed, the event became famous by the name, the Gunpowder plot.

In addition to the intelligence that the movie displays, it is resplendent with great sets and some really memorable dialogues and action sequences. Hugo Weaving (agent Smith from Matrix) is brilliant and so is Natalie Portman. The only flaw I could find with the direction was the appaling lack of british accent in a movie which is set in the british society.

All in all. A movie not to miss...


The Lazy Confession

Well, the last nail has finally been dug in the coffin. The debatable question was "How lazy am I"? After 20 something years (I don't like to tell my exact age :-)) of self appeasing, elaborate excuses and fabrications, it was answered today...

You know how you tend to make impressions of people you meet. Like when you say that hey, you are a pretty good TT player when you are really wondering whether a dead wall would prove to be a better opponent. Or when you meet a person and think that now you have finally met a gem of a sucker. Some people leave a great impression, some pretty bad ones and some do not strech your imagination at all. And then all of a sudden, along comes a guy, meeting whom, you think, boy, the only reason he qualifies as a homo sapien and not a tortoise is because of the absence of a hard protective shell on his back. Such people define the term "LAZY" in its truest, extremist, oxfordist sense. And when such a person calls you the laziest human being he ever met, you can only look upto the heavens and wonder whether they changed the dictionary without informing you.

Having enough faith in your IQ, I assume that you must have figured out by now that I met with such a reply from such a person today. It has made me look at my life in a different perspective.

To begin with, the only game I am probably decent at is cricket. For starters, cricket is a game which is tailor made for people who flinch at the name of hardwork. Now when I look at it, you almost stand on the ground doing nothing for about 98.2% of the game. Between all the sweat, which doesn't necessarily result from running around but is a natural residue when sunlight falls on skin, you get sufficient number of drink breaks. Added to all this is the fact that my batting talent could only afford me an extended stay at the runner's wicket in most of my matches. And this is not it. I sometimes wonder what is the reason that 90% of the times I got run out. If only piece by piece, the puzzle is getting unravelled.

But you know what. Sometimes it just happens that winners acheive their goals not by working on their shortcoming but by rashly ignoring them. So when I came to U.S., I took up squash. It was never a first choice. I just wanted something to fill up the empty spot left over by the absence of cricket. And as has been proved so many times in history, compromises are often doomed to failure from the start. The one major problem I find with squash is the fact that the makers of the game forgot to put any coefficient of restitution in the ball and everyone following them made no objection at all. I am extremely convinced now that this act should figure in the top 20 heinous crimes against humanity ever. As far as guys like me are concerned, we only go to a squash court to make others feel good about their talents. Personally, when the other guy plays that drop shot against me, I almost feel like the way Poland must have felt against the advancing German armies. Subconsciously aware of my talent of laziness, I almost immediately know the futility of any attempt I might make at returning the shot, but my ego masked in the guise of this self fooling illusion always makes me spend that energy which I value so dearly.

Nevertheless, life goes on and so does squash. Sometimes, I feel guilty of the fact that maybe I enjoy this laziness. Maybe, I am too lazy to counter this view. So it stays very much part of my life. And so does my latest title "The laziest person whom the laziest person ever met".


The Canine Case

In the great debate of national culturedness, the verdict has been drawn. And the irrefutable evidences lie in the social etiquettes of the American poodle and the desi gali ka kutta.

Without making things any harder than they should be, I should go on to introduce the topic of my musings. That my U.S. visit has been nothing short of a cultural shock should come as no surprise to anyone. Considering the fact that I spent the better part of my life in the especially backward regions of a especially backward state of the country, the immaculate cleanliness and orderliness of the U.S. alone should have been enough to send me into coma. To top it all is the all pervasive, almost forced politeness of the average american population. Whereas in India, I would almost swoon over the character and politeness of a Mysore auto driver just because he did not overcharge me heavily for the ride from the station to my home, I have had to adjust my expectations in this country. Every place I go, I am met with a friendly "How is it going?" accompanied with a smile which would almost have indicated the news of a new born child to my Indian counterpart friend. Initially, not experienced in the U.S. ways of salutation and having being posed with such a question, I felt obligated to provide my inquirer with a detailed description of "How was it going with me". In such situations, as my dreary blabbering reached about a minute of callous indifference to mocking glances and amused smiles, the counter person generally used to end my foolish charade with a forced THANK YOU and NEXT IN LINE PLEASE. And after stumbling for uncountable number of times, it dawned upon me that it might all be just a formality. It might just be possible that politeness is just a compulsory overcoat which these Americans by law have to wear. It might just be possible that a question like "How is it going" does not deserve an answer.

All of this brings me to the all important and seminal observation of mine. It was a beautiful sunny day when I, bored with the monotony of daily existence, stumbled upon this brilliant observation which has now proven to be the last link to my theory of cultural culturedness in India and U.S. I never heard a dog bark in the U.S. Can you believe it. Absolutely never. And to compare it, even my own dog back in India although only a few inches in lateral dimension, packs enough barking ammunition to rival the noise of a supersonic jet at close quarters (approximately 120 decibles!!!). And he is supposed to be a pet! I just don't need to present street examples. In India, any dog, unless it is a close acquaintance of yours or is a friend of your dog, is apt to be seen as a potential donor of Rabies virus and a lot of pain. But here in the U.S. all the dogs are almost oblivious of my presence. While passing by, they just seem to acknowledge, with a slight nod of their head, the painful fact that they happen to live in a world which is infested with humans but that nothing can be done about it. There is absolutely no barking. If anything, maybe, there is that smile and probably that unsaid question "How is it going" which after innumerable and inconsiderate repetitions has become mundane enough not to deserve an answer at all...

About Me

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Like a particularly notorious child's tantrums, a mountaneous river's intemperance, a volcano's reckless carelessness and the dreamy eyes of a caged bird, imagination tries to fly unfettered. Hesitant as she takes those first steps, she sculpts those ambitious yet half baked earthen pots.