Sunday, December 26, 2010

1377 : We are neither beasts nor prophets

From one of Arundhati Roy’s speeches at MIT:

“Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do), combined with our inability to see very far into the future, makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost.”

Its a fantastic three sentence exercise in precise writing – it neatly sums up the philosophy of conservationists such as EF Schumacher and Hazel Henderson.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

1376 : The missing dimension

I am very perceptive about myself (or so I like to believe), about tiny things in my body and head.

Here is an interesting part of the situation:

1. I have an elephant like memory, especially for things and trivia that interest me.

2. In a memory, I can never ever recall the timbre of the voice. As an example I will tell you the song “Halwa Wala Aa gaya” is from the movie Dance Dance, has Mithun and Mandakini, I can hum the song – but I cannot tell you the name of the singer- because the memory is lacking the aural quality. (Unlike my wife who will hum for 10 seconds, almost as if, she is hearing it play in the background and then throw the answer “Vijay Benedict”..she does this consistently and almost everyone seems to do it too).

3. If you now make me listen to the song – there is a good chance in 10 seconds I shall tell you the name of the singer. I can do this better than most others and even after 30 years of having first listened the song. (Of course, the assumption is, I knew the name of the singer back then as well).

4. Similarly, I can never remember faces in my memory. My wife who I saw 4 days ago is a blurred haze in my head. I can’t visualize my sister’s face at all.

5. If I see my sister 30 years later, she would have grown old, but I would catch her in a wink. I still walk into malls and tell folks –” are you from St. Johns? Is your name Sujoy?” and they almost fall off. My brain seems to have this unbelievable capability to factor in ageing into a memory, while completely lacking basic qualities/dimensions of a memory record.

Weird huh….I guess so. My sis and others think I am joking when I tell them on the phone, “I cannot visualize you”….I swear, I really cannot!!

No wonder, on days like today, I miss folks quite a bit Smile

1375 : 3D Movies, Werner Herzog, insightful comment !!

I was reading Open dated 27th Dec. There is an interview with Werner Herzog. At some point is is asked about the invasion of 3D movies and this is what he has to say.

 

Q Your last film Cave of Forgotten Dreams was in 3D. Are you excited by the technology? Do you see yourself doing more work in 3D?

A Not really. I have a certain scepticism about 3D. It will not happen, let’s say, like television and black & white, which is completely replaced by colour television. 3D will not take over completely, because in 3D everything that you see is like fireworks, there’s nothing beyond it. There is nothing beyond Avatar. As stunning as the film is, there is no fantasy beyond it. But when you look at a romantic comedy, for example, we as an audience develop a parallel second story, an inner story, which takes place within the audience. Will the two lovers find each other after all the obstacles and dramas? Please destiny, let them unite—so there is a parallel story, which we are developing. And we cannot develop a parallel story in a 3D film. You can’t project beyond the three dimensions, strangely enough. So you can do Avatar in 3D, but you can’t do a romantic comedy in 3D.

Found the conversation imminently insightful.

1374 : Stars vs. Actors

Was reading an old piece by Jerry Pinto. He says

Stars need not be actors. Actors play other people. Stars play themselves.”

I could not put it better Smile

1373 : Anti–God?

A certain Muslim I know and respect a lot, walked upto me and asked me – “did you know that the Verses have hurt us a lot? How come you are not ashamed of idolizing such a book?”

I was sensitive to the pain he was in, because he definitely seemed anguished….I almost wanted to apologize. I asked him very politely, had he read the book? He said no.

I then proceeded to tell him that the Verses to me have been an eye opener about Islam – about its good and bad – about the unabashed violent roots it has, but also about the utopian peace and ideal society that the Prophet so benevolently craved for.

Being a Hindu (on paper) – I have read with equal interest Irawati Karve’s Yuganta which rips apart Mahabharata.

The idea for me is not to malign or to “paint black” but to understand the world as “it is” and not as “we see”.

Knowing the world “as is” is finding your little personal God.

1372 : Greatness?

As I am listening through the “Come September” speeches by Arundhati Roy….it makes me a little introspective.

With the passing of days, I am definitely becoming more aware that mine is a life spent, a plebian existence. What kind of hurts is, I know in my heart that each of us has the capability and the potential to become a(n) Alan Watts, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie or whatever else we aspire to become….and yet, I know that I shall be none of that and more.

Does the lack of fame, money, love impact me?

No…that’s completely missing the point. It’s the inability to kiss my own personal greatness that defeats me.

The water runs dry.

1371 : Come September

I have openly admitted to two things:
1) Being an unbridled  fan of Miss Arundhati Roy (and not for her ideas alone…some of which I might not completely agree with….but for her courage to stick to them, inspite of public glare)
2) Having been panned by left right and center for being a supporter of the ladySmile . Seriously, the amount of hate mail I have got on this topic is not even ridiculous!!

Have been listening to a series of speeches by her in a collection called Come September (from 2002). In this series, the lucidity of her ideas flow….so does the of gab. Her voice and her comfort with herself is so amazing……it shows!!

She does have a tiny speech in that collection called “suspicion of nationalism”….which is eerily prescient of her arrest warrant and sedition charges.

As I often tell people….go beyond the obvious….there is a world we “see”, and there is a world which “is”. We should all hope to catch a glimpse of the world which “is”.

(I add her to the list of people I hope to meet before I die. Mr. Rushdie is the first in the list.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

1370 : Taste the thunder

An addition to my poison list of 1)Chai and 2)my sis’s brilliant mulled wine (I miss her and the bloody wine so much, that it causes a terrible heartache every friday!!) and the 3)……(read on)

Take a fresh red chilli (you will get at supermarkets), not the dried ones. Remove the seeds, grind it in a mixie. Take one freshly squeezed lime. 300 ml Thums Up (no coke and pepsi please!!). Tonic Water (which I love) is another alternative.

3-4 cubes of ice. Stirred, shaken and served.

Ah! smack !!

1369 : The Pardesi movement

I was outside a mall, buying handmade wooden toys. As I stood waiting for my change to be tendered back….a punju family came along (grandfather, two sons and two grandsons).

The grandchildren clamoured for some of the attractive colored toys (which btw,were not expensive at all).

The father pandered to them…and when they finally chose something, he told them in chaste Punju hindi….translated by me “Bachoo, let these toys be….they are so desi. I will get you nice Disney toys from inside the mall”.

We do have a chip on our shoulder Smile

1368: Open your door, Windows is coming

For years I have been a avowed fan of Microsoft and its products….and for most part have been legal (save the initial years, when legal software was difficult to find in India).

I love Windows 7, Hotmail and this is written using their ubiquitous blog writer called “Windows Live Writer”.

In recent years they have got hammered for their lack of innovation and rightly so, I agree.

The point of the post….

Watch out for Windows Mobile. It might just put them straight in the middle of the ring with Android and IOS.

Me ??? When I used a smartphone it was Windows. When I move back to a smartphone…it shall be Windows.

As you can see,  I wear my loyalty on my sleeve.

1367 : Raavan ki jawani

I have been listening to (not watching…I said “listening”)….Sheila Ki Jawani from Tees Maar Khan. Its actually a fairly okayish song…if you can sift away the hype.

But wait, there is something unusual about the music. I don’t know if its my ears, but I thought I was hearing the “ghati” lezhim kind of beats in the background….especially on the percussions. (Is Ghati a slur….excuse me, I am Ghati myself!!)

If that is indeed correct, I must say, thats a very innovative score by Vishal-Shekhar.

Do listen in and confirm.

Meanwhile, this is the kind of music,that Raavan seems to so hungrily devor…raunchy, crass and lascivious Smile

1366: “I belong to the pesky genus” (and hence fart too loud)

I can never understand the section of the species who shall enter a gym and then rudely fight over equipment or music….you know the type that goes “The music in your earphone is too loud…(and then point you to a “silence only” board” , or another example is “those who shall get very personal and peeved, if you turn down the volume of the central music”…. almost saying to you aloud “ if you are rich enough to own your own mp3 player, shove it up your twat (or arse), as for plebeians like us we need our gym music loud and noisy”.

Quite frankly, I simply don’t get the motivation of such folks.

At this point, It will help clarify – that I hit a gym to unwind and decongest my mind – I am not aiming to be the next Arnold “terminator” nor am I in a race to appear anorexia infected. And for those precise reasons, I hate getting into a gym and having a conversation,be it, either small talk or with the stupid instructors….I don’t need help and I don’t seek help Smile

And hence to me, the folks who come in behave so pesky are not irritants, they are ghoulish…my eyes almost scream murder.

I almost end up judging them……Its a sad life, if going to the gym is such a chore for these folks. As if, they have to walk 30 minutes on the treadmill, else their day is incomplete. The gym is an urban temple to help you deal with life, so lets look at it as meditation and personal peace….and not as “250 cals burned”.

Reminds me of one of my fav passages from Ayn Rand’s, We the living.

Do you believe in God, Andrei? No. Neither do I. But that's a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know. What do you mean? Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do—then, I know they don't believe in life. Why? Because, you see, God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.

Maybe on a similar note, I should ask folks “Do you come into the gym to listen to loud tasteless FM radio blaring out the central system?” instead of asking them their whole philosophy of working out.

One day, not too far away, I shall carry a sledgehammer to the gym Smile

1365 : The pleasure of being a whore !!

I have been listening to a set of bootleg IIT tapes…music composed and executed by IITians, and its beyond “parental advisory”….and yet….its hilarious !!

The little secret of the college years….its all out there now!!

Don’t be deliciously surprised, if the next time you talk to me…and I cuss you in words too delicate to print!!

For a few minutes, felt like a kid again….who said cussing was bad.

1364 : Where is the light (s)twitch?

My favorite 7 year twitch seems to have returned. Ah, the pleasures of being shaken and stirred.

1363 : The myth of the olive branch

My sis was suggesting that olive oil is good for kids. That confirmed what I have always seen in baby stores – an aisle dedicated to olive oil of all brands and types.

Yes…No…not quite.

I decided to read up a bit.

Turns out that in the western world – they recommend olive oil for massaging (more on that later)  and for cooking. Their view is extra virgin oil is good since its healthier than the “commercial” canola cooking oil that they usually use.

Does this apply for us Indians? You get sunflower, karadi, palm, mustard, til, coconut and the (staple) groundnut oil in any supermarket.  Wicked irony?

Okay…lets not beat around. I shall rather share the summary of my readings. The best oil for both kids (and adults too) is:
1. Single (or first) cold pressed oil – any underlying will do – as long as you can bear the basic smell of the ingredient(say til). It helps though to know that coconut oil is good for under-nourished babies, mustard/til oil is great for colder regions (read Minnesota), sunflower is a new staple, and groundnut is the cheaper healthier option.
2. Try also getting it “cold filtered”.
3. Use oil for cooking which is usually no more than 1 year old (and that include the extra virgin olive oil – which in India is imported and is usually already 6-18 months old by the time it reaches us).
4. If you plan to fry/cook for long – use standard oil – because the cold pressed oils wont stand the test of high flames.
5. Lastly, the best fat for kids is homemade ghee. Period.
6. (What I have learnt in the past few months is – fat is the most important thing the baby requires in the mom’s womb and the first 3 years. It’s the one single essential item for the neuron connections. What will especially help if you can give the mother and the kid – DHA for the first 3 years at least). Will make a big difference to how much complexity is baked structurally into the kid’s brains. Neurons feed on DHA (it’s a simplistic view….but conveys the message I hope).

I should thank my sweetie sis, at least her input made me want to understand this space for myself.

Happy blubbering Smile

1362 : The dog that failed

Picture this.

I drive along a military road everyday. A few days ago, at a particular bend, I had to swerve hard to avoid what looked like the carcass of a dead dog.

The next day driving through the road, I saw that the dog was still at the same spot, (on the edge of the road), now swathed in a blanket and being fed milk and biscuits by the villagers.

This continued for the next few days.

Few observations:

1. I wonder why they did not move the dog off the street.
2. Reaffirms my belief that human beings are inherently good. Goodness is innate in all of us. (Though some duffers like me drive through other’s pain….)
3. Did the dog actually eventually survive?

Sometimes the phrase “it’s a dog’s life” can mean so much more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1361 : Continued from Yeh Honsla (Dor)

From the previous post

samjhe the haatho main hain zameen,
mutthi jo kholi bas khak hai!

I especially like these two lines, because….

(Finally),  when I did open my close-fisted palms, the ashes I was so desperately clutching onto, hugged the blowing wind and (bloody damn) escaped.

1360 : Yeh Honsla (sad) from Dor –translated to English

rishtey, bharosey, chahat, yakeen,
un sab ka daman ab chak hai,
samjhe the haatho main hain zameen,
mutthi jo kholi bas khak hai!
dil main yeh shore hain kyun..
imaan kamzoor hai kyun...
nazuk yeh door hai kyun..

This is Yeh Honsla from Dor, a Nagesh Kukonoor film – sung by Shaukat Amanaat Ali Khan (the Mitwa singer…).

These are the lyrics of the sad version of this song – lasts less than 2 minutes – but has the power to give me goose pimples – inspite of having heard it a 1000 times already. The voice, the bassy strings (counter-intutive??? but it is)….the lyrics…..If you don’t understand hindi/urdu –heres an excuse to learn the language.

Please hear it.

Translated below to help folks

Liaisons, trust, affection, assurance
The (underlying) fabric (of all of those) has now been horribly shorn,

(I always) believed that the world was within my grasp,
(When I eventually) opened my palm, the vacuous void was revealed

Why is there so much chatter in my mind?
Why is my belief feeble and faltering?
Why is this (connecting) thread so bare (and weak)?

1359 : Mood Enhancer

Have been listening to 4 songs on repeat since morning (with endless cups of poison).

1. A rendition of Raag Megh by Pt. Ajoy Chakravarthy – Ghan chaye gagan adh ghor ghor, sanna-nana chalath pawan zor zor, piya ghar nahi aaye jiya tarase….)

2. Pratham Dhar Dhyan by Ustad Ghulam Mustafa  Khan – an outstanding bhajan from Umraao Jaan – sung, composed and written by Muslims Smile

3. Raag Todi by Kishori Amonkar – a 3 minute rendition of outstanding sharpness – cuts straight into your soul. – Allah ke saamne sabhi jaaye….

4. Raag Marwa by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Allah Mohammed Char Yaar….(damn addictive…almost trance like)

And lo….I am already feeling so much better.

1358 : The struggle to be…

I have been struggling to put my thoughts down. Too much to say, so much to say…and yet, the pen runs out of ink.

Sometimes too much can also be so terrible….

Sunday, December 19, 2010

1357 : Raavan is going senile :-)

He is getting soft and mushy listening to “Halwa –wala aa gaya, aa gaya, aa gaya, halwa-wala aa gaya.”.

I must say such refined taste in music – must come naturally with 10 heads, I dare say.

Friday, December 10, 2010

1356 : Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday

I have an audio rendition of this. I remember listening to this about 10 months when Raavan seemed a little threatened by the universe. I almost urged Raavan, “come on buddy, we can only win this game inch by inch”…..that’s so bloody true even as of today. All of what this speech says…seems to fit the Raavan(and me!!I am bloody old and have made serious mistakes too!!) context.

I know in my heart that the 10 headed monster shall eventually win against all odds Smile…you know why…. “because he has shown he is willing to die….” , and that’s my one and (only) final all pervasive/encompassing compliment( for him).

 

From Youtube

 

Reproduced here for easier reading.

I don't know what to say really. Three minutes till the biggest battle of our professional lives. It all comes down to today. Now either we heal as a team, or we're gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play, till we're finished. We're in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch at a time.

Now I can't do it for you. I'm too old. I look around, I see these young faces, and I think... I mean I've made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who's ever loved me, and lately, I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror. You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That's part of life. But you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life's this game of inches. And so is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean... one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. One half second too slow too fast, you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches, that's gonna make the fucking difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying! I'll tell you this - in any fight, its the guy whose willing to die who's gonna win that inch. And I know if I'm going to have any life anymore, it's because I'm still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that's what living is! The 6 inches in front of your face...

Now I can't make you do it. You've got to look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think you're gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team, because he knows when it comes down to it, you're gonna do the same for him.

That's a team, gentlemen. And either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die, as individuals. That's football, guys. That's all it is. Now, what are you going to do?

1355 : The search for a life….

Prashant was telling me about this brilliant quote from Chanakya (the television miniseries)…. (not exact, but something to this effect!!)

“Ek taraf hatya hain…aur doosre oar atma-hatya. Ein dono ke beech mein humko zindagi talaash na hain”

1354 : Lovely quote enters my lexicon

As I re-read “The Verses” for the 3rd time, I am noticing things which I had not noticed until now….like this lovely phrase…. “between the forbidden well and the compulsory ocean….”

I was telling someone the other day, I treat this book almost as if it were my philosophy guide Smile

1353 : IITs to curb suicide

IITs are going to curb suicide by replacing ceiling fans by pedestal fans.

Dear Dean…..I suggest…. one can still kill himself by putting your head into the pedestal fan (a la Slyvia Plath…she used the oven though!!)….why not replace fans with ACs….the only way to then die is to either freeze yourself or electrocute your finger.

These institutions are supposedly our answer to MIT and Virginia Tech…Yawn @!@!

1352 : Raavan’s new song….

Ira Mira Dika….Smile

1351 : Movember

I hate shaving….period. Next November I will participate in www.movember.com

Ah…I am the bearded philanthropist.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

1350 : Whats in a name

Spousey and I were talking yesterday about names – as in, names for humans and pets and all things in between.

A name is essentially an identity. It can either be
1) Aspirational – e.g. Arjun – it’s a great conversation with the kid at the age of 5 – to tell him that he was named Arjun because we thought that focus is important in life and Arjun exemplified it.
2) Emotional – e.g. Salman – Papa always loved Mr. Rushdie, so the name Salman will evoke a strong positive emotion from Papa…and this strong undercurrent will flow into the baby from day 1 – maybe even in the womb.
3) Cool on the tongue – e.g. usually Urdu or German names – the ones which have strong consonants tied to it – everytime you say Mazhar – a part of you has to be invested into it – same is true for Zaara and Kavya (ah the lovely!!).

I cant think of a fourth category…and that’s where I think we as modern races have lost it. We fall back on names which were relevant 300 years ago (and today are just as irrelevant), because we choose it from a language which has stopped evolving.,,,words which we don’t live by and only encounter in google. The fallout is, usually, semantics are so very completely lost, when we end up choosing from Sanskrit or Urdu….unless of course you are from Lucknow.. (or like Prashant you think in that bloody language) …seriously!!

Let me try and explain….

Hijr in Urdu essentially means separation, quite literally….but its never quite used in that sense ….its always used to imply “longing”. Similarly who uses “Smart Alec” today in a positive sense???? Usage in language defines most words in the current context…..and the context changes with time.

English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil continue to be used and continue to evolve in our own consciousness….but Sanskrit/Urdu are strangely to me “love in a dead language”.

If we choose a name like Sheetal – without understanding what the fuck it means – or maybe by looking it up on google – you have so very completely lost the plot.

A name is more than a name….you become what your name is. Seriously…it’s a self fulfilling plot.

Do a favor!! next time you name your dog…choose a ribald name like Bullet, at least it means something in modern life…than choosing Raju.

Case rests.

1349 : Make a wish foundation, are you listening ?

If there is one thing I want to do before I die (and more importantly before he dies….no actually….I revert…..before I die), is to have a tiny meeting with Mr. Rushdie. I want to ask him what kind of madcap genius can write The Satanic Verses and what kind of imbecile failure writes Luka and the Fire of Life.

Such a fall from grace….and yet…..The scale of the Verses is impossible to conjure. Its prolific….its pure unadulterated genius.

PS

And if make a wish foundation comes back a qualifying criteria of “do you have leukemia?”, believe me, I shall gladly have that….as long as they can make the above happen Smile

PPS

Have been reading the verses again, for the 3rd time !!