Thursday, May 31, 2018

2409 : Reading list of 2018 #6 & #7 : Sense of an ending by Julian Barnes

Very few books have left me with a such a strong sense of unease (as the Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes). It’s eerie (not evil), and it hits you hard. Especially in the last 25% of the book.

I do make it a point to read books that I like again. This is one of the few times when I have read the book twice in successive months (March and April).

This has to hands down one of the best books of my life. Haunting is the only way to describe it. A bit like Samantha Harvey’s The Wilderness....just that “Sense of an Ending” is written by a master and it shows.

On a scale of 10 I would rate this book 11. Goes straight into my top 10 book list, maybe even at the top, only if Rushdie and Kundera did not crowd it out so much.

Pp 163 pages of pure literary magic. It’s like reading poetry.

I am going to so far as to say, that if I am dying...I want someone to read this book slowly to me. Thre is a truth here, that is more perverse than the lie.

Overall 11/10 (ha ha !!)

Brings my 2018 reading total to ~ 2610 pages

“I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not,except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is the question on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it,and how this affects our dealings with others.Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it;some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.” 
― Julian BarnesThe Sense of an Ending

“I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory.” 
― Julian BarnesThe Sense of an Ending

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

2408 : When genius failed (Amy Winehouse @ North Sea Jazz festival)

Amy Winehouse singing “What is it about men” @ the North Sea Jazz festival is so divine, its almost evil !!

I am truly obsessed with this song in the past couple of weeks. The vocal are sublime, they are melluflous; the jazz is so melancholic...and the lyrics are simply great poetry.

I can never get over the fated fact that Amy would rhyme words using the tongue and its twirls. If there are days, when I feel depressed about “death”, its only during times like this - when I have glimpsed what it is be floating in God’s own dream.

Amy is dead, long live Amy....


Understand, once he was a family man
So surely I would never, ever go through it first hand
Emulate all the shit my mother hated
I can't help but demonstrate my Freudian fate
My alibi for taking your guy
History repeats itself, it fails to die
And animal aggression is my downfall
I don't care 'bout what you got, I want it all
It's bricked up in my head, it's shoved under my bed
And I question myself again, "What is it about men?"
My destructive side has grown a mile wide
And I question myself again, "What is it about men? What is it about men?"
I'm nurturing, I just wanna do my thing
And I'll take the wrong man as naturally as I sing
And I'll save my tears for uncovering my fears
Our behavioral patters that stick over the years
'Cause it's bricked up in my head, it's shoved under my bed
And I question myself again, "What is it about men?"
Now my destructive side has grown a mile wide
And I question myself again, "What is it about men?"
Ooh, it's bricked up in my head and it's shoved under my bed
And I question myself again, "Now what is it about men?"
My destructive side has grown a mile wide
And I question myself again, "What is it about men? What is it about men?"

Sunday, April 29, 2018

2407 : Back to Black with Amy

I recently watched "Amy" the documentary about our lady Winehouse. Not once but twice. And its rekindled my love with her music, so much so that I have been listening to her on repeat. And I must admit, that I am so overwhelmed by her music.

She is genius, she is lost, she is bloody hurtful. Of course I am old, so there are so many places the lyrics appear naive, but at other places, the poetry is just so conveniently divine.

I can listen to her till I die :-).

Dear Amy, take a bow :-).

As I write this, the rhymes and bars of "you know I am no good" play in the background. I want to say "we are ten men down like roger Moore"....

A silent prayer for the candle that outshone the sun and then just went kaput :-).

The jazz riffs on "you know I am no good" are divine :-)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

2406 : Neurosis

In a Gaurdian Article on Facebook, read this quote on Neurosis. Quite liked it.

A neurosis is a secret that you don't know you are keeping.
- By Kenneth Tynan

Monday, April 02, 2018

2405 : Wanderer Nightsong II by Goethe

I discovered this poem by Goethe from Milan Kundera’s Immortality. He states every German worth his salt must know this poem (or song if you can recite it to the difficult meter).

Above all summits
it is calm.
In all the tree-tops
you feel
scarcely a breath;
the birds in the forest are silent.
Just wait, soon
you will rest as well.

In German

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh,
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

2404 : Reading list of 2018 : #5 : Julian Barnes' Noise of Time

Just finished my 2nd read of Julian Barnes “Noise of Time”. It’s easy to wonder why anyone would want to read a fictionalised account of Shastokovich’s biography.


I would read this book any number of times. I just love the way Barnes weaves his literary prose.

There is magic in going back to the Russia of the 50s and 60s.

A great read - overall 9/10.

A 201 page read. Brings my 2018 reading total to ~2290 pages :-)

Worth every minute of your time.

2403 : My dark fantasy

There is a new poison in town. Ice Cold coffee with a little bit of sweetener, or even plain natural bitter. If there is sweetener I prefer Milkmaid.

The resultant drink is plain manna. In the last 2 years I have substantially increased my coffee intake. My intestines seem to be loving it.

2402 : The classist Holi

Picture this.

Over two weekend(s) ago, that just went by, it was Holi - the festival of colors. I now live in a fairly large apartment complex in Mumbai.

There is something complicity classist about celebrating Holi in kind of place I live in.

The whole complex is singing and dancing in the “rain” party that is usually organised. This includes women, men and children. All dressed up in white or skimpy pieces or whatever rocks their fashion boat.

Everyone is swigging large moats of “bhang” (datura) or beer or some having Johnny Walking with them.


The maids and the security gaurds have to be excluded. Of course, how else will the complex continue to function. In fact this year I had the pleasure of seeing some inebriated urban rainbow colored hooligan scream at the gaurd for “being lazy” and not opening the door (parking gate) fast enough.

I keep telling myself, that there is bad blood on my hand. The amount of bad karma I accumulate everyday, I am sure the Devil thinks I am responsible for the run on “his” bank.

2401 : House of cards S5

It was eerie watching House of Cards S5 and realising that Frank considers "Double Endemnity" as one of his favorite movies. Its nice to see Claire and him play along with the movie.

Funny that just a month ago, I read the book. Now thats a universe's version of deja vu.

2400 : David Warner + Schadenfreude

I remember just a couple of months, I saw David Warner in the elevator @ Taj Krishna @ Hyderabad.

He walked out with me onto the ground floor. He was confidence and achievement personified. I could not help but be in awe of both the Vivre-de-Joie and what human beings are capable of achieving in a short run.

And then the last 2 weeks played out. And today David is saying he is completely broken.

Like the Buddhists say, everytime you see a living being, also see his/her dead self. As in logically - every living person will one day die. Similarly, who could have seen David in the elevator on that day and said "this too shall pass".

I am fascinated by the circle of life. I see it all around me. I have personally seen it very closely in my own life in the past 4 years. Its been a journey.

This too shall pass :-). As for schadenfreude - hold that day you will get to be the star too !!

My heart beats for David for will be one my favorite players.....he deserves forgiveness. He has all of mine. I would be proud of his life. Take a bow David and remember, this too shall pass :-). I speak from deeply entrenched experience.

Friday, March 02, 2018

2399 : Reading list of 2018 : #4 : Double Indemnity by James Cain

Picked this up on a whim. A very old book from the 30s I think or around. Was also converted into a movie.

The book is great for its plots, turns, twists....but most importantly it gives a sense of how life was in the 30s. I like the book, though I would still overall rate is around 7/10.

Its a small quick read 144 pages only.

Go for it, but dont expect the world to be like the sopho thrillers which we have seen in recent years.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

2398 : Khamma ghani

Someone at work has taken to wishing people by a pronouncedly exaggerated gesticulation and then loudly proclaiming "Ghani khamma".

Quora helped me understand this.

Marwaris wish others as "Khamma Ghani sa" (means colloquially lots of good wishes and blessings). Response is supposed to "Ghani Ghani Khamma Sa".

Of course there is also Ghani Kumbha sa - which refers to Rana Kumbha and bestows tons of "sons" on the person you wish to...and each son as brave as "Rana Kumbha".

Me is massively amused and tickled. Funny hain. I am going to make this my default wishing on my lighter days :-)

On a related note - Take a bow lady for the lightness you bring to work :-)

2397 : Durga Chew Bose on Sharon Stone's shoulders

From Durga Chew's book "Too much and not the mood"....she is easily one of the best writers I have ever read. Ever.

I’d heard talk of Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in that infamous interrogation scene, but when I finally saw Basic Instinct, it was her shoulders pushed back on the chair that totally stunned me. I’d never experienced shoulders accelerating my pulse. I’d never seen a pair of shoulders communicate point of view. Liquidate a room of all its men and their presumption. Sharon Stone’s shoulders pushed back were like Whoa.

2396 : 1Q84 (Shadows and light)

“Where there is light, there must be shadow, where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light and no light without shadow.... We do not know if the so-called Little People are good or evil. This is, in a sense, something that surpasses our understanding and our definitions. We have lived with them since long, long ago-- from a time before good and evil even existed, when people's minds were still benighted.”
Haruki Murakami

2395 : Narcos

I am now a avowed Netflix fan.

Add that to my dichotomy list. I am atheist who believes in Buddha. I am a peace loving person who eats eggs. I am Buddhist who kills. And now.....for someone who detests visual stimulation, I adore Netflix :-). Now counter that :-).

Production values, taut script, immaculate actors, brilliant Hollywood and Bollywood by a long mile.

I loved the dialogue "The purpose of war is peace".....its immensely philosophical.

I also loved the existential question - "Plato o Plomo ?" (Silver or Lead)

Or at somepoint someone says "Give him lead" (shoot him).

Take a bow Netflix :-). You have in me someone who is not even a cord cutter. I never had a TV, but now I am a Netflix fan. Of course it helps that I now hit the gym everyday, because thats where I catch this new crack :-).

2394 : (Art and the) Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

"Art belongs to everybody and nobody. Art belongs to all time and no time. Art belongs to those who create it and those who savour it. Art no more belongs to the People and the Party than it once belonged to the aristocracy and the patron. Art is the whisper of history, heard above the noise of time."

Friday, February 02, 2018

2393 : Faith will always point you to your true north

At a recent visit to a religious shrine, a certain vision struck me.

Picture this.
So I am meditating near the shrine's sanctum....and thats when I see this man who is blind (clearly so)....walking with the aid of a walking stick.

He is old, slightly decrepit (signs of poverty), slightly portly and his trousers are distraught. He slowly is walking towards the sanctum where the main body of consecration lies. He is walking across the ocean of people near him. Both oblivious and yet aware. One of the other devotees, notices him and holds his hands and guides him for the next 50 steps till the altar.

Here the blind man, silently prays for a few minutes, then he removes some money and drops it into the offering box. And then he slowly (laboriously) bends down. Very slowly infact.....he is trying to prostrate to the divine.

Thats when you realise that he cant seem to bend his right set of limbs. He seems to either have a stiff set of bones or a broken set of bones.

But over a good 30-90 seconds, bend he does. He touches his head onto the feet of the altar. He shudders as if he is weeping or as if this is a very profound moment for him.

A good minute or two later, he extricates himself off the floor. Again a slow process of getting up. And then once he has stood up, adjusted himself, regained his composure, he walks slowly backwards with his face to the shrine.

In this tiny sliver of my life, I have felt more divine than a million Vedic chants and a zillion tyrannical evangelists.......

This, to me, is what the human greatness is about. This is about what human beings are truly capable of. Being heroes and devotees at the same time. Being respectful and humble-nothings at the same time. Being blind and still seeing visions at the same time. Being able bodied (like me) and yet malformed at the same time.

Blind man who taught me how to see :-). Take a bow.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

2392 : Reading list of 2018 : Book 3 : 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

By now I have become a completely avowed Murakami fan. I just finished 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and its immersive, magical, surreal and yet very deep. Its like the Wind up bird chronicle, leaves you with very deep images - you almost get immersed into the story as if you were living it.

You form mental images of the characters - you see, hear and learn to understand them.

This book is in three parts spanning 1328 pages.

Completely worth a read. On a scale of 10, I would rate this 9 for its magic and its depth.

Total reads for 2018 now total around 1950 pages :-).

Good start to a year what say ? :-)

(Images courtesy google images)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2391 : Existential question - "Abhi bata tu raat mein kya karegi?"

So I am at CP (Delhi), post a meeting at around 940pm at night. I book a cab ride back to the hotel. As I wait in the pick up area, I hear this totally existential torrent, that is both bizarre and fruity-nuts at the same time.

So picture this.
A young couple are waiting near me. Guy is portly full of himself and the Girl is dressed like any other Delhi girl....leather jackets, knee length leather boots. Very chic (supposedly), but very un me :-).

So the girl books an Ola using her phone. And the guy tells her in goes.

Guy : Ho gaya? Done.
Girl : Yes.
(Then they both peer into the app with deep interest and curiosity....and then something happens...not clear to me,)
Guy screams at her with a totally Delhi level-10 indignation: What the fuck are you doing? (He is literally angry). Meine bola tha tu Ola app nahi upgrade kariyo....aur phir yeh (I had told ya not to upgrade the app...and yet you did this).
Girl sucks up the indignation.
Guy looks at her with rage and disgust. Then with a complete frusto look, adds to his previous tirade.
Guy : Abhi bata tu raat mein kya karegi? (Now what shall you do at night?)

And to me this is as bizarre and weird as the existential gold standard "Toh problem kya hain?". Watch Karan and Biswa above....Both of these phrases are now permanently part of my vocab.

My wife says - she is going to drive to the sea shore.
Me : Abhi bata tu raat mein kya karegi?

Sis says : I think I am going to take up the new job.
Me : Abhi bata tu raat mein kya karegi?

Friend says : I feel guilty, I ate two samoasas.
Me : Abhi bata tu raat mein kya karegi?

Get the drift?

2390 : The oppression of language

I have been besotted by the idea (in recent months), that language is indeed a tool of oppression. Like were the Vedas (in their abstruse greatness, I really do love them!!), intended originally for the sly purpose of "bucketism" by language?

Possible, right?

At least to me yes.

Today I watched this.....

I thought both the slam poetry and the narration were equally terrible. Apologies Diksha, I know you are young, but being authentic is usually ageless....and I am the angry judge, who you don't care and should never care about....but judge I will.

And yet....her central idea is bang on.

Not because I am a vernacular fan. I am in fact exactly like her, tormented by the malaise that is called much so....that English is my only primary language.


Also take a bow for someone like Jhumpa Lahiri, who just decides to permanently think and write in Italian because she likes Elena Ferrante. (On side notes, Jhumpa is gorgeous both as a person and a thinker, and Elena is a Goddess in the way she writes...:-)

In summary....think and look inward.

Friday, January 26, 2018

2389 : Moon face

“The moon had been observing the earth close-up longer than anyone. It must have witnessed all of the phenomena occurring - and all of the acts carried out - on this earth. But the moon remained silent; it told no stories. All it did was embrace the heavy past with a cool, measured detachment. On the moon there was neither air nor wind. Its vacuum was perfect for preserving memories unscathed. No one could unlock the heart of the moon. Aomame raised her glass to the moon and asked, “Have you gone to bed with someone in your arms lately?” 
The moon did not answer. 
“Do you have any friends?” she asked. 
The moon did not answer. 
“Don’t you get tired of always playing it cool?”
The moon did not answer.” 

Haruki Murakami 1Q84

Monday, January 15, 2018

2388 : The dark side of the moon

In the last two weeks - I have heard folks say

"I am the most happy and motivated leader at work."
"I have defended and driven collabration through some very difficult times."
"I drive a sense of peace, calm and purpose across the firm."
"If I give up, I shall take the ship down with me."
"I have saved and salvaged someone, who otherwise would have gone down a spiral."

First of all, big thank you !!. Really mean it.

If you ever saw me in my personal life, as I appear to my wife, mother and sister(s) (ah! the women in my life!!), you might see that the calm ocean soothes a turbulent volcano underneath. They would tell you I am a terror. I am monster of epic proportions. (They actually might use those phrases).

What causes a human to drive so much peace, calm, purpose @ work, but somehow be a sly failure in his personal endeavors.

Its strange, but true, and I have no qualms admitting to the Loch Ness that I sometimes can be.

One day, I hope the women in my life think and say things similar to the positive flowery phrases above. Till then, its my job to admit to all of you - that this moon does have a dark side, and its outlandishly black. In that part of me, black is the new black :-).

2387 : My ego bloats

I recently read that the habit of listening to a song on repeat ad nauseam is a sign of a very fertile creative mind. Supposedly only those who have a still mind can enjoy this ordeal :-)

Ha ha :-).

I do it all the time, and for once, I believed this research. I would like to believe I am the next Frida.

Right now I have heard Naina from my previous post some 20 times since I work on some complex powerpoint.

2386 : The truth that we make believe

Speaking of besottment (from the previous post), I cant even explain how obsessed I am with the song Naina from Omkara.

Essentially a song about how our own eyes can drive us to believe what is not. If you love poetry, this is just madness at another level. A whole song, that drives the point that "dont see what you already believe in:-)".

Metaphorically thats so true - we often see what we already believe in. I have been part of the jury and the judged in this game. The song resonates with a deep blur red in my heart.

Rahat is magical.


Rashid Khan is divine. Its beyond goose pimples.

I dont know at how many levels should I bow to - Gulzar, Vishal, Rahat, Rashid. This is truly sublime.

2385 : Velocity of Thought by Mia Muratori.

I came across this art from

And was immediately besotted by this :-). Just love it.

If I could get a print, I would buy this. Canvas ideal :-)

2384 : Chekhov on guns (Via Murakami's 1Q84)

“According to Chekhov," Tamaru said, rising from his chair, "once a gun appears in a story, it has to be fired."
"Meaning what?"
"Meaning, don't bring unnecessary props into a story. If a pistol appears, it has to be fired at some point. Chekhov liked to write stories that did away with all useless ornamentation.”

Background to this is - Aomame (the protagonist) is asking Tamaru (a bodygaurd) to somehow source her a gun (with just one bullet) so that she can kill herself if she is ever captured (in the process of committing a difficult task).

I found this deep and very insightful. Its simple, but immense in its implications.

(I did not plan on it this way, but coincidentally this post ends with 84 :-))

2383 : Brilliant Disguise

Fabolous song writing @ Brilliant Disguise by Bruce Springsteen. If I could do away, I shall do away with the "baby" but the rest is truly mellow.

Now you play the loving woman
I'll play the faithful man
But just don't look too close
Into the palm of my hand
We stood at the alter
The gypsy swore our future was right
But come the wee wee hours
Well maybe baby the gypsy lied
So when you look at me
You better look hard and look twice
Is that me baby
Or just a brilliant disguise

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2382 : What is Litost?

“Litost is a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.”

 - Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

2381 : Reading List of 2018 : Book 2 : The Book of Laughter and Forgetting : Milan Kundera

Just finished the read of Milan Kundera's masterclass into introspection around both Forgetting and Laughing.

Its immersive and addictive.

I could write pages on the beauty of this prose.

On a rating scale of 10, I would rate this a good 9.5. Milan Kundera will forever remain one of my favourite authors

Total pages : 320

On a related note, I have read the Henry Michael translation and I find the lyrical, poetic and just beautiful. Which also means other than the central idea, pretty much the prose and the lyrical quality of it, should be attributed to Henry Michael.

Does that mean I like Henry Michael more than Kundera? Think :-)

(all images below from tumblr and goodreads)

2380 : The scooter chronicles

Picture this.

In the complex I live, there is a runner's slope with a gradient of about 25 odd degrees. Whenever I can, I try and jog a bit to feel better - both about my weary and weak heart, and about the silences that running can offer. 

At various points, I have run during both mornings and evenings. And now I have noticed that a "lower middle economic" youth (swear don't mean to be classist, just wanted to leave you with an image) drives over in a black Honda Active with two huge bags of steel boxes. These are the small round steel boxes which can possibly feed an adult.

This "person" lets call him Mr. Good - parks it on top of the slope (hill). As he parks, his scooter has an entourage of some 10-15 stray dogs who run behind like a sequenced motorcade. He then opens up some 15 boxes with the precision of a server who has forever been feeding at banquets - which means fast, smooth and still courteous. 

The boxes include rice, some lentils and some veggies/meat. Each dog grabs a bowl (no sharing....) and finishes the meal off in about 40 seconds. With the same mechanical precision that he had opened it up, he closes the boxes and begins his drive down the hill. He parks at the bottom of the hill and another 15 boxes open up - and a different set of 10-15 dogs finish the job on hand.

Post this, Mr. Good packs up and drives off. This whole scene then repeats itself in the evening. With clockwork precision.

As I have watched this over and over again, I do posit - Good karma is never hard, it just "is".  

Secondly, an odd thought crosses my mind - what happens on the day Mr. Good falls ill, or breaks a leg or just dies. Does that event mean this "movie" temporarily either stalls or ends. 

There is a short story hidden in this imagery. Coming one day soon :-)

2379 : Destroying a people(s)

Various writers have written about this, that the easiest way to destroy a people(s) (read a community, country or identity) is to attack its culture, language and ethos.

It just came up in Milan Kundera's "The Book Of Laughter and Forgetting" again.

Of course over years, I have had the luxury and pain of thinking and introspecting on this topic - both in my wannabe "social anthropologist" and my "Marco economist" avatars. 

The more I have meditated, I am more and more sure that folks are indeed correct. Even a subtle attack on culture (shared wisdom) is a dent in an identity. This just not does not apply to despots and countries, but it equally applies to "corporate leaders" and organisations.

Though I think of this usually as a "mass destruction" weapon....and hence "destroy" in the subject line.....I completely recognise that sometimes it can also be a vehicle for change....albeit very rarely.....a related question is, how many times has culture (shared wisdom) been grossly wrong?

Its a deep insight that this thought leaves me with, and I don't like the aftertaste.

2378 : Age is just a number

I have never been more aware of my age. As I continue to share my workspace with 20 somethings, it never fails to amaze me how much more they are intelligent and "arrived" than I ever was in my 20s.

Of course, I have been successful in forging the fragile balance where we marry their immense skills and confidence, with that "age old" gold sometimes recognised as "wisdom".

Today as I listened to the song called "Dil tho baccha hai ji", the Gulzar classic from "Ishqiya", I realised that the song is essentially an "old man's ode" to his own "young heart". Notice the words "man" and "ode". Yes thats what the song is all about.

One line never fails to catch my ear there "
Saari jawani katra ke kaati
Piri mein takra gaye hain
Coarsely translated as "
I have spent my whole youth guarding against the fall,
And look at the irony, today I bumped into her at the market" 

I can completely sing in chorus with Gulzar. The young heart trapped in an ever raging body.

Take a bow.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

2377 : Milan Kundera

Have eternally been in love with Milan Kundera. In my troubled times, I seek solace in him. He occupies a special place in my life, in the same pedestal as Alan Watts.

Over time I have of course, added (Salman) Rushdie and (Haruki) Murakami to the list. I can pretty much-read anything they have written and know that I can find my peace and solace in them.

While Alan Watts forces my mind to still, Rushdie steers me to joy and epiphany, Murakami transports me into a world that is as real as the wort on my feet...its Kundera who always evokes the poet in me.

Makes me introspect and pause. Makes me want to not read fast enough so that the book never ends. Quite seriously.

How does a stranger I have never met, impact me in such deep ways.....difficult to explain. Elena Ferrante makes me want to learn Italian, Murakami makes me want to learn Japanese...but Kundera makes me yearn to be Czech....not just to learn French or German. Get the drift?

Take a bow, dear Kundera. I have been blessed to discover and read you.

Image from A2ZQuotes

2376 : The genius called Morporia

From Mumbai mirror dated 2nd Jan 2018.

Take a bow :-). This is around the time BMC went on a rampage and tore down about 400 restaurants with illegal constructions post the Kamala Mills Fire from prior days.

The genius of a comic is that he can evoke a smile even in depair. He is appealing to your melancholy by telling you what you already know....but surfacing the "unsayable".

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

2375 : Zen by Alan Watts

I like this quote around Zen. Its simple and yet it is true.

Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.

2374 : Reading list of 2018 : Book 1 : Haruki Murakami : Colorless Tsukuru Tzakai and his year of pilgrimage

So today on a flight, I chose to read instead of working. And the book I started yesterday, I finished it up.

This is true magic in the way Murakami can pull you into his world. I was hooked - though this is not a thriller or a pot boiler...its everyday humdrum, that just pulls you in with its surreal imagery.

On a rating of 10, I would rank this 9.
Definite must read again someday.

Go for it. Approx 300pp. Worth ever minute of your time.

Monday, January 01, 2018

2373 : Rage

Looks like Rage is the emotion to define 2018 :-).
The angry man in me is back :-).
Rage is back. So is murder :-)

2372 : Riding with the king BB King + Eric Clapton

One of my all time favorite songs....Eric Clapton with the King (BB King).
This song can get me into the mood anytime of the year.
Play on a loud speaker system and be enthralled with Eric's vocals and the overall jazzy sounds.

2371 : Time by Pink Floyd

A good reminder for the start of 2018....from my all time favorite folks....

“And then the one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun”

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2370 : Vir Das's 2017 retrospective is hilarious :-)

2369 : Alfred North Whitehead on "what is progress for a civilisation"

I don't necessarily agree on this for a civilization, but do strongly believe this applies to a single individual. Everything around our brain is singularly focussed on how much deep learning has happened or can happen. More on that later.

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking about them.

2368 : Elizabeth Hardwick on travel

From Anthony Shahid's memoir - House of Stone....

By the time we arrived in New York, or Texas, or Oklahoma, or wherever, much was lost. “Your first discovery when you travel,” wrote Elizabeth Hardwick, “is that you do not exist.” In other words, it is not just the others who have been left behind, it is all of you that is known. Gone is the power of punishment of your family name, the hard-earned reputations of forebears, no longer familiar to anyone, not in this new place. Gone are those who understand how you became yourself. Gone are the reasons lurking in the past that might excuse your mistakes. Gone is everything beyond your name on the day of arrival, and even that may ultimately be surrendered.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2367 : The Haiku of becoming one

Drink from goblet.
The red is slowly becoming me.
Blood is on a high.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2366 : Fleeting sense of being in......

Whats that feeling when you read something, someone wrote 8000 miles away (yes she's in NY), and does not know that you exist at all.

And yet you read the book vicariously. (And no its Julian Barnes (because he is a he :-)) or Elena Ferrante (because she lives in Italy).

You read with rapt amazement, wanting those words to be yours (not in an ownership sort of way), but you wish they somehow originated from your keypad (damn the pen!!).

Is it a feeling of floating? A sense of complete disbelief. How could she write like this? How could any human write like this?
How could mere printed words (on a kindle!!) give anyone such a mighty intellectual rush?

I have started writing again in the past 2 months...and its torturous to see your own writing in such shambles and a young preenie, come up and shake your soul a Solyent blender (going bankrupt on skates!!)

I am going to write. I will mostly Trump, and I am indeed going to "Make my MacBook great again".

2365 : High on Dopamine

Possibly the only folks who will relate to this post will be my bibliophile brethren.

How many times have you read a book or a passage, and then closed your eyes....wanting to pause - not because the passage is dense. But more so because something in you hit a pot. Something stilled. Something stifled. Something sighed.

And in that moment, you dont want the book or the passage not to end. Its far too beautiful to pass away into transience.

I read about 45 books a year, and this happens to me less than 1-2 books in a year.

And today on the flight, I read one such book. I want to hold the book and clutch it to my heart as I doze off. (Funnily its a kindle :-) copy).

Well, this is perfectly explainable. Its only a simple dopamine rush. Thats what my rational brain tells me....and then a part of me says "really, is that all there is to this life?"

2364 : This too shall pass

I wear a simple wooden amulet from Tibet. The one that has about 12 beards, each with its own little inscription reading "Om mani Padme Hum".

Every time I look at or fondle this amulet (in my nervous brush moments), I of course think of "Om mani Padme Hum" but more importantly I have trained myself to remind myself of the phrase "This too shall pass."

Nothing is more important than reminding ourselves that life and the world around is transient. In a 100 years not one person will remember you and me. In 200 years no one will remember the pioneers of today like Elon Musk. In another 2000 years, even Jesus and Buddha might be gone. Possibly. In another 5000 years, the human race will definitely be gone....and this planet will be a lonely blue spot in the vastness we call as "space".

Rocks, metal, gold, all of it will be gone. And then the earth and the sun will be rumbling ahead for the next 3-4 million years while the sun extinguishes itself.

And in that realisation, lies the truth that we are not even noticeable blips in the ocean's ripple.

The human brain conceives the "separateness" with the world around it as a survival defence technique. How much Zen or awakening we need to be reminded of the eternal truth that "this too shall pass".

Me, I only needed a simple amulet to remind me every single day (especially in my nervous moments), that this story shall end soon.

And then the errors shall repeat themselves, ad nauseam.

2363 : Jaag ke Kaati

I have blogged about this song "Jaag Ke Kaati" from the movie Leela at least 2 times in the past.

There is something beyond awesome in this song. I have heard this song about 12 times on repeat in the last hour or so....

And the riff does not leave me at all. Lets count the blessings in the song :-).

Firstly, you have Jagjit Singh, at his zenith. He genuinely appears drunk and high on the song, but that just elevates his voice from a simple croon to a delectable recitation.

Then you have the unmissable judgalbandi between the acoustic guitar (dont miss the strain of Veena in the background) and the  vocalist. And the tabla on a heightened track (which means it is almost as if the tabla is playing in the foreground, instead of it being the background).

Gulzar doing the rounds with lyrics and the massive metaphors that usually accompany any of his songs.

Saagar take behte do Naina,
Rooh hain bandhan khulte nahin hain,
Daag hain dil ke, dhulte nain hain
Karvat karvat batik nakna

Then finally, we have Dimple and Vinod Khanna.

Do we agree we have a reliable receipe for an aural wet dream :-)?

2362 : Pausomatic....

As I wrote the "pause" wala post, I just remember "Kate Nahin Raat" by Sultan Khan. I have just heard that song on repeat n times on the flight.

I have posted about this song and the musician a few times. Sultan Khan (Ustadji) has to by my #1 musician for life. His music speaks to me as if he were part of my genes. I realize he is gone, but his music makes my everyday smile - just by their notes.

I don't think I have said this 1999, I was at one of my favorite startups....and I had just bought this album...and the start-up crowd (all in their 22s) loved it.

We used to play this song on repeat...of course not to forget Jagjit Singh and Pink Floyd on infinite much so that the music from those days is baked in my genes. Won't be surprised if one day my daughter hums "Hey you!!".

On a complete hyerplink, I met the founder of that startup 2 days ago...and felt as happy as I have been in many years.

Thanks R, S, A, S, R, U and the whole gang :-).

2361 : Men who pause...

I have always been fascinated by the power of the "pause" in music. The most notable examples in my head are from
- "Killer" by Adamski (The thump has a cadence, but you would probably not like it, if it was not for an unexpected pause that comes up in the cadence...after a 1000 listens...the pause still mesmerizes me always)
- "Killer - papa was a rolling stone" by George Michael which is nothing but a rehash (but at a genius level) of the first song we mentioned. In this one the pause, before the thump begins and the Wembley stadium fires something goose pimples live for :-)
- "Kate Nahin Raat" by Sultan Khan has the pause which just takes the simple love song to greatness levels.
- "Kuch tho hua hain" - Shaan and Alka from the Karan Johar classic....has Shankar Ehsaan Loy creating magic.
- "Kashmir" by Zepplin has the pause before the classic guitar riff.

Without these pauses, would you recognize the beauty of these songs? No, or so I believe. I have been introspecting....these pauses break the harmony (if present in the background), but just super amplify the melody.

Notice the pause, without the pause, you would never be able to recognize the greatness hidden within some of these songs.

2360 : Hulchul by super singer Ravindra Upadhay

Not many of you would have heard this, by "Super Singer".....He is a Sukhwinder clone but with a heart and a tone of gold.

Listen to this song...and be enthralled. I have heard this song at least a 1000 times and it never yet stops its mesmerizing lure.

A lost gem from the past decade. Do give a fair chance. The voice, the music, the lyrics and all of it will make you wonder....does the music industry really allow talent to foment....or does it push it to go stale and ferment.

Take a bow!!

2359 : Its movie time

I find folks who watch movies on their mobile phones unusual and amusing. I see these folks every week...and every single time I find it strange.

I am sure they find me odd too, sitting in the cramped bay, typing away on a largish MacBook. They must think  "he must be some crazy scribe type"..

But seriously, how much retinal stimulation is enough? Or does this modern version of the coke addiction never slow down?

2358 : Mitwa from Kabhi Alvida na Kehna

This song by Shafaqat Amanat Ali Khan from the movie Kabhi Alvida na Kehna. A massive orchestral composition - which has the song move from very high to very low (I think the voice spans at least two octaves...the tone deaf in me cannot validate) in the span of a few seconds.

The song invariably polarises the listener. Either he likes it, or she hates it.

One question that I have often heard in drawing rooms is - "would this song have been better sung by Rahat Fateh Ali?" And in my head, he would have quite literally "killed" it :-), belly up.

Rahat is the sugary types versus Shafaqat is the melancholic type. We need melancholy in this song. 

2357 : Chingari Koi Bhadke - Gulzar's genius

Gulzar's genius is in all glow, in the song "Chingari Koi Bhadke", which Kishore sings with so much emotion.

Essentially the song says, that if the healer assumes the role of the "perpetrator", then who shall save us?. A few sample couplets, which will be ruined by my translation.

Na Jane kya ho jaata,
Jaane hum kya kar jaate,
Peete toh zinda hain,
Na peete toh mar jaate,
Duniya jo pyaasa rakhe,
Toh madera pyaas bujhaye,
Madera jo pyasa rakhe,
Too use Kaun bujhaye,

Dont know what would have been possible,
Unsure what all I would have committed, 
I drink and hence I survive this life,
Without this elixir, I would be long gone
If the world keeps me thirsty, 
then its this wine quenches the thirst,
If this wine itself decides to make me arid,
Then who shall water my soul?

2356 : Mozart No. 41

Listen and be reminded of Sabira Merchant and "whats the good word?".

Our memories are strange hooks, na?

2355 : Margazhi Poove from May Madham

I am sure enough has been said of this song all over, especially since I am about 15 years late as I blog about this.

The suprabhatam (Kowsalya sup raja) riff played on the flute - that touch by Rahman is pure sublime.

Something in that song is quite serene.Those (as in the past) were the times when even Rahman was inspired.

As I grow older, like all other oldies, I crave for the older times :-). How old :-).

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

2354 : Watch this slowly and fall in love with Joan Jett again...

I saw this video and was mesmerized. One because I like Joan Jett, second it truly came as a surprise to me that she still rocks :-).

This is her and Debbie Harry doing a dystopian take on Trump. Watch the video slowly. There is so much hidden in the video.


If you are not a Joan Jett fan yet, then of course either you are too young or you are too busy.
Listen to her here, singing " I love Rock and Roll"....

2353 : Pooja Sachdeva - Haan main characterless hoon !!

I moonlight as a poet. Of course I write sweet abstract nothings. Usually - more nothing, less something. Really.

And then every now and then I read/hear something like Pooja. Awesome Slam poetry !!

But, is that enough acknowledgement? Really is this just Pooja's poetry? Or is this, the angst we help propogate in our everyday lives - as fathers, brothers, sons, mothers, sisters, friends - and not to mention disrespect(ers), if there is such a word.

Like yesterday - I spoke to someone newly married, who said - his wife is still learning cooking...but he is okay with that- he said the food sucks, but he hopes to get good food in 2 months from now. One part of me wanted to tell him "If you want to eat, learn to cook" and "learn it for yourself" not via a wife or hiring a cook.

BTW, thats exactly what I tell my son all the time.

Am I an equalist? Hell no, I am more criminal in this "business" than Al Capone can be....but I definitely know the jerk when I see one in the mirror.

Meanwhile, dear Pooja, I dont know you at all, but take a bow !!. Hope the universe delivers my heartfelt respect to you.

2352 : You have won Bronze

Was reading this link with interest.

While I did link some of the images, the one that appealed to me and called to me was the one with the bird and the hunched out man (replicated below...hope it is a not a copyright violation).

Something in it made me melancholic. The search for an escape maybe :-).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2351 : 3 children complete our palms

Picture this.
I meet someone who lives in our apartment complex on the porch leading upto the elevator. She and her husband are clearly coming back from a walk - with their daughter (must be around 3-4 years), a large dog, and a slightly smaller one (who has only 3 legs...possibly lost in an accident)

So I politely greet them with a note, and then smile and look at the child and dog. As the elevator arrives, I hold the door for all of them to get in before I can jump in too.

She looks at me and says “sure you want to travel with us and the dogs”...

I smile warmly and tell her something to the effect “ that dogs are family too”.

I think that breaks the ice. She beams.

Once we are all inside the box, I ask her the obvious “out for an evening walk?”.

She again beams her million dollar smile and answers with a genuine smile that’s so rare in times like today - she says “Yes. Walking with husband (who she looks at and smiles) and our three kids.”

She is referring to the dogs, and the daughter, that much is obvious. But then she says something completely endearing, she points to the daughter and says “our two-legged kid”, then to the 3 legged dog and says “our three-legged kid” and finally to the large dog and says “and our four legged kid”.

I smile back (my heart is beaming with is exchange) and tell her, “that’s such a perfect way to put it. Looks like one real happy family.”

Indeed 3 kids with ascending number of legs - does indeed sound like a happy wholesome family.g

2350 : The 7th horse of the 7th Sun

Suraj ka Satvaan Ghoda is a very well known book and movie. I have often wondered in the past - why the oblique reference. Its only in recent months that I have discovered the background to that title. Here is some interesting background. Read and be enthralled :-), or at least I was.


*Unlike the months of the year, weekdays have no astronomical correlations. It is an arbitrary division of time, believed to have its origin in Babylon from where it spread eastwards to India and thence to China and westwards through Rome to around the Mediterranean. Just as Romans attributed the first day of the week to the Sun, so did Indians who called it Ravi-vaar. Why was the first day of the week associated with the Sun, no one knows. It is one of those mysteries of history that remain unresolved. The earliest reference to Sunday in India comes from texts dated after 400 CE, and it is believed to have come with Sun-worshippers like the Huns, Parthians and Scythians, who entered India around the time of the Gupta kings.*

*Surya is an important god in Hinduism. He is the chief graha or celestial body around which revolve all the astrological grahas. He is the Supreme Father whose chariot is made up of 12 wheels, each wheels corresponding to the seasons, and which is pulled by seven horses. They say that while six horses are seen, the seventh horse is unseen. It is the mysterious horse of intuitive wisdom whose presence is felt but which remains invisible. Surya’s charioteer is Aruni, the god who is incomplete, of ambiguous gender, because his mother, in her impatience, broke the egg before he was fully ready to be hatched. Aruni shoots arrows that pierce the night sky, which is why dawn is so blood red.*

*Surya’s wife is called Saranya or Sanjana who gave her husband a pair of twins: Yama, the first man to die and hence the god of death, and Yami, who turned into the river, Yamuna, and to the night, Yamini, mourning for her brother. Unable to bear her husband’s radiance, Saranya ran away leaving behind her shadow-twin, Chaya. Chaya gave birth to Shani, the lord of Saturn, god who delays things. Surya realised that Chaya was a duplicate wife when he noticed that she did not love Yama the way she loved Shani. So he went looking for his true wife and courted her as a horse when he learnt that she had turned into a mare. From this equine union came the horse-headed twins, Ashwins, lords of the morning and evening star, who bring health and healing wherever they go. Scriptures refer to another son of the Sun, Revanta, the lord of the hunt, shown in art riding horses. Thus, horses are closely associated with the Sun-God.*

From ....

*The title is a reference to the chariot of the sun god in Hindu mythology, which is pulled by seven white horses. Towards the end of the film and the book, Manik explains to his friend that when all other six horses have become tired and weak, it is the seventh horse, the one that represents dreams, that gives us hope for a better future. Manik Mulla says it best:*

**** “And yet there is something; something that has inspired and strengthened our resolve to pierce the darkness, to challenge and change the social order, and to re-establish the simple values and ideals of humanity. Whether you call it our conscience, our soul, or something else. And faith, courage and belief in the truth, push forth this luminous soul, just as the seven horses take forward the chariot of the Sun-god.”*****

Friday, December 08, 2017

2349 : I do weed

I run a strange experiment in my little zen garden. I truly let permaculture and nature take its course. I let plants die and new ones be born. I let animals (yes we have rats) and tiny lizards and spiders and earthworms, dreamily live on their little planet.


That one particular plant, which is kind of a weed, with tiny leaves like the tamarind tree...I yank out....because once it settles multiplies almost every night till it takes control of the complete pot.

Every time I de-weed it....the thought does cross my mind. Who am I to kill it?

What gives me power over its destiny? Who am I helping? Why am I helping? I am adding entropy into the world. Why is that tiny leaf tree less valuable to me than the basil or Jamun tree that also grows there.

I play God. I don’t enjoy it...but I still play it. And every single time the existential question hits me hard - WhoTF am I?

2348 : Roaches

Picture this.

I was at a hole in the wall cafe with a friend on his birthday (on 15th Nov :-), so now guess who!!)

As he and I sat alone, reminiscing about Lawn tennis, philosophy, existential nightmares, our own battlefield weariness...and of course laughing off our losses.....

As he and I sat, we drowned beer (Bira of course) and Chivas (of course!!)....we both drank as if to drink is to set free.

The table next door, had two younger boys (probably in their early 30s)....drinking eating and reminiscing.

Remember this was a hole in the wall..and up walks a fully grown roach along the floor to their table.

I see it (and I am petrified of much for my skunky bravado!!) and so do they. My friend is drunk blind :-)

As I watch the roach inches closer to them....and eventually they start trying to squash it. But not in a petrified way, but in a way that they seem to be enjoying it. They are killing it, one leg or piece of its body a time....stamping its life one breath at a time with their nike sneakers.

Something in me had revulsion. I don't enjoy the spectacle of treating other life forms as lowly. Have I not eaten meat, then why cast stone? I have definitely eaten meat in my day.

But the Buddhist in me believes that killing out of fear or hunger is still something I can rationalize. Killing for the fun or mirth of it....makes me feel strange.....

Of course, I am no one to judge the two folks...I have committed grave heinous murders in my life...both literally and figuratively.

But....death is not a matter of light in my head anymore.

One day, we too shall cross the bridge. One day we too shall encounter our own delusions. One day we too shall be the object of someone’s mirth. That is the day, as my life passes by me in an the brain is erasing its RAM.....I will definitely see the image of the squished up roach.

2347 : On your dying away

I have seen two deaths in the immediate family in the last 3 weeks. Death as always is a big reveler. It’s levels, revels and moves heavens.

Yesterday and today I spent time with the mourning. Today morning was unusual, the family of the deceased, decided to do as much of the rituals as were needed by Brahmanical standards.

One of the rituals requires them to invite about 10-12
Brahmans and then serve them a meal, give them rice + banana and pay them.

Just so that you can picture this...these are avowed Brahmins priests, folks who might have other day jobs, but their primary focus is Vedic rituals and to help society be in touch with their spirit.

So here goes.....
As one of the priests was heading up the other rituals, the other 11 had nothing much to do, save watch and chant. But....

Some of these folks started playing games on their IPhone. One of them started checking YouTube videos of phones. A few of them started speaking and gossiping amongst themselves. And finally at least one of them started checking twitter and WhatsApp videos.

Overall, a sorry state. Why would avowed priests come to a place of mourning and create such chaos?

I don’t disrespect them, but something about them and the way they conducted the rituals makes me believe something in the truth of the moment was lost. Their allegiance and purpose were lost too.

They were not in mourning or helping us mourn. They were clerks who were part of a red tape.

And it felt immensely sad to me, to me who is a person who is very away from the meaning of these beliefs. And saddened me.

What has the world come to? Will the spirits in the other world forgive us for being such a callous lot? I don't know. Should we blame the phone or Facebook or Twitter? I don't know.

All I know is, sometimes a simple humble heartfelt prayer and a feeling of compassion for the dead is more than enough to set the world back in order. Alas we get lost in the maze. (We all do, including me!!)

2346 : Echoes

I have been listening to old ghazals and falling in love with poetry again. I remember when I was first trying to fall in love with ghazals...and there was a live album called “Echoes” from Chitra and Jagjit Singh (I love Chitra Singh too - I know most folks hate her - Listen to “Yeh na thi Hamari Qismat”)....

...and echoes is quite poetic.
Maybe its just nostalgic, but even back then it used to be one of my favorite albums.

And today...I am falling in love all over again...with the man called Jagjit, the lady called Chitra and the genre called ghazals.

Unhe yeh zid ke mujhe dekh kar kissi ko na dekh,
Mera yeh Shauq, ke Sabse Kalam Karta chaloon....

(she has this obstinate viewpoint that I only have eyes for her,
What can I do, the playboy that I am, I tho immerse myself in all the sights)