Monday, August 31, 2009

733 : Such a long sigh…

A sigh is a sure sign of life escaping out.  I felt a deep dark desire to sigh today :-)

732 : Movie 33 : Philadelphia

I have never seen this movie completely ever, but I have seen parts of it at least 30 times. (I struggle to sit through movies, they are almost unreal for me.)

There are parts of the movie, which can move you beyond the obvious. Esp. when you see Tom Hanks as a constantly degrading aids patient, who battles on not only with his disease, but also his sexuality, his own fears and his own life.

The scene where he interpets the Opera for Denzel Washington, the night before they are supposed to prepare for the case the next day morning, and they skip the preparation in favor of the Opera (ironic metaphor – choosing being alive before the symbols of life), the scene is so real, its possibly one of the finest performances by any actor I have ever seen in my life. You could not ask of a actor to  make it any more real… almost forget Tom Hanks is an actor, and believe that he is as real as the apple in your hand right now.

The other scene to look out for, is the memorial which is conducted for Tom after he dies. It is such a happy joyous occasion, conveys such a positivity, such a respect for “life”.

Turns the accepted concept upside down -  dying can be a happy occasion too – right :-))

Saturday, August 29, 2009

731 : My nose looks like….


The one Priyanka Chopra has ….yes, you heard it right….or so my sister believes.

If that sounds weird….don’t hate her…I think it runs in the way we think. I saw Boondock Saints, and thought one of the leads looked and behaved like Ritiesh Deshmukh.

And so on and so on….


I asked her whether that was intended as a compliment (backhanded or otherwise) or a jab (under the belt). With a poker face she told me…. “compliment!!”

Dil Ke Rekhne ke Liye yeh khayal bhi aacha hai….

730 : Why I am not a fatalist (again? !!!)

Fourth part of a trilogy….WHAT THE F :-)
(read posts 726, 727, 728 in that order before you read this to get a context and idea of the topic here

Suggested reading order

726 - Mama said, “Fight” it out
727 - Am I a fatalist-
728 - Maybe I am a fatalist - last of the trilogy --) (for now….at least)
730 - Why I am not a fatalist (again- !!!)


My “suggested” approach of life – of not “fighting”, of “withdrawal from any sort of forced change or struggle” – primary is inspired by the animal kingdom.

When have you seen a Goldfish eat less to lose weight (infact there are fishes in tanks who die because their stomachs burst after overeating), or your Labrador fight death though he might already be in immense pain, or an elephant take medicines for a cancer (animals have as much dysfunctional tissue growth, as we do…in most cases their body deals with it, in other cases they just endure the pain till it eases them to their end), or a cow resist domestication (I am sure most animals don’t enjoy being beasts of burden)……..and many more examples can follow, but I think the point is conveyed.

Animals fundamentally don’t resist change, or try to control their destiny, they fight/hunt for the day or for a period (like ants and bees store food for the winter), but they don’t resist. Does that mean they “give up”? Absolutely not, if you have ever tried to clear a beehive – you would know how ferocious their counter attack can be, or how a Goldfish would struggle to get back into water, if it is kept out of water.

Get the drift?

Lastly, my concept of withdrawal is more of a steady process of isolating external inputs versus the radical Jain concept of Diksha.

I hope this 4 part trilogy made some sense to you reading it. It was slightly difficult for me to write this, since it required expounding some difficult concepts.

Thanks for having the patience to read all 4 parts. Hope it helped in either convincing you of the concept, or otherwise….either ways it would have served its purpose.

729 : Movie 32 : The Son of a Bastard (Kaminey movie anti-view/review)





Sri, Smi, Vivek, Vinod, Spousey + me managed to catch this mother of all hype-coasters yesterday. And? Well, what do you want me to say? If that makes you happy, I can say, “it was great”, just like 10 other factory Dodo’s are saying. I could do that (after all, if you cannot kill them…join them)……..whatever, lets not dance on the fringes and get cracking instead.

I have seen 3 of Vishal’s movies – Maqbool, Omkara and (now) Kaminey – in that particular order. And funnily enough, I liked them in that particular order as well. I think Kaminey will rank as one of the best movies of 2009 (or recent times), there is no taking away from it. Let me try and deconstruct the experience for you.

What did I like about the movie
1. Brave new title. Who titles a movie “bastard”?
2. Shahid Kapur, this movie clearly is to Shahid, what Omkara did to Saif.
3. Gulzar’s lyrics – in some of the songs, you see vintage Gulzar again….(for me Vintage is, the work he did for RD)
4. Vishal’s music – outstanding both for the soundtrack and the background. I actually think this background score is as good as the one done by Sandeep Chowta for Satya (one of my fav background tracks collection).
5. Technical snazziness. This movie outscores quite a few recent movies in that. Outstanding camera work, use of lights….raw footages of Mumbai and Intercontinental at its best. The Dhan te Nan song has some excellent blue and pink hues. This movie must rate right up there for its tech brilliance.
6. Dialogues – Vishal has done an outstanding job of tongue in cheek dialogues and the subtle real life undertones.

What I did not understand/appreciate/like
1. Why not develop the characters? If you see Maqbool, each of those characters will haunt you for life. Its almost as if you lived their reel life vicariously. In kaminey, you will neither remember Guddu or Charlie or Sweety beyond a week. If I were to ask you to describe Sweety as a person, you would struggle, because that aspect is simply not explained. (Its possible you are making a mindless movie like Transformers – where character development is inconsequential to the headless gore….not in this movie….if you don’t develop the people on screen, the audience will never  live the tale played out on the screen.)
2. Why add elements/identities, which have little or no relevance to the main plot or the sub-plots. Why introduce Mikhail as a friend of Charlie, if you want to give him 2 mins of screen presence and not do a thing to the overall  plot in the movie. (Really he does nothing much, except share a snazzy scence with Bhope and inadvertently tell him about the guitar…there are other ways this could have achieved).
3. Who can pronounce “miami” and “costa blanca” without any accent problems, and still be a small time street crook in Mumbai. I mean this movie is full of Sophisticated goons with flawless urban English. Sounds very weird to me….could be true in real life, even if is, it is still weird.
4. Priyanka Chopra hams and gets hysterical at times. She does not look a local maharashtrian belle, either in looks, upbringing or clothes. (Vidya Balan anyone….I think that would have been a far better choice, even as an actress…or better still Divya Dutta).
5. Why create such a great initial “build up” (actually that is very good) and then screw it up with a Snatch/Lock Stock Barrelish end…..Everyone meets everyone…….everyone uses guns on everyone…...the bad and ugly disappear or die….and the good win. In real life, good does not always win….and more so, unlike the movie, it never happens that all the “good guys” win. Maqbool and Omkara haunt you because of the darkness in their tale…the darkness with bold underlines, and the relfection of the image of the world around us.
6. Why have sub-plots which have no relevance or don’t help develop characters?
7. Why tell such a story in such a difficult way? I would have loved it, if the director made it difficult and played games with us only to reveal a grand cinematic end. This has none of that, by the last 10 minutes – you are hoping against hope that this movie does not disappoint you with a tepid end, and disappoint it does.

Overall, would I watch this again. Possibly, yes. Will I ever liken it to a Satya or Maqbool? Never. Will I buy the DVD yes? Probably, yes for only deconstructing and learning the technical panache(that this movie is an orgy of).

Do I judge this to be a bad movie? I don’t think I can pass a judgment like that. This movie is above the 80 percentile of the output from tinseltown coming out now-a-days. Just that,  I have seen Maqbool 4 times and love the whole movie, and in that context, this movie is a poor 8 out of 10….but go watch it, get tickled and massaged at the right places, Vishal is the closest we have to a modern day Bollywood master story teller.

Mere opinions bhi Kaminey….aur yeh movie bhi kaminey….kya kare, zindagi, isko hum jo miley….

Friday, August 28, 2009

728 : Maybe I am a fatalist : last of the trilogy :-) (for now….at least)

(Please read 726, 727 and 728 – in that preferred order

Suggested reading order

726 - Mama said, “Fight” it out
727 - Am I a fatalist-
728 - Maybe I am a fatalist - last of the trilogy --) (for now….at least)
730 - Why I am not a fatalist (again- !!!)


Continuing from the past 2 posts….one additional aspect.

From where I am standing today, I am very much leaning towards a very radical theory. (My spousey and sister will hate me after this post, I am kind of sure, but its mindless matter, in this case….I need to speak out for my immediate beliefs ….even if  I am reviled for it).

Coming back to the post…..
In addition to not “fighting mentally” any circumstance in life, I am leaning towards believing that we should also avoid all tools/engineering marvels that prolong life artificially.

Example. If I have prostate cancer, and the doc gives me 3 months to survive without medicines, so be it. Don’t take the goddamned chemotherapy (for whatever the fuck is worth it is as good as tons of poison into your stream)….but at the same time fight the disease with natural recourse like exercise, good food, good habits, prayer and so on….

And….. let life take its own natural toll on you, and die naturally in 3 months (or whenever the bells come calling).

Hand over my heart…… I am not brave enough to implement this in my life, but I am tending to see the power of the concept in itself. I know a million of you reading this will find this extremely radical, but I will post a more detailed one on this soon.

Please, if you are angry/irritated, don’t kick my balls, remember, I already have prostate cancer :-)

727 : Am I a fatalist?

(Please read 726, 727 and 728 – in that preferred order

Suggested reading order

726 - Mama said, “Fight” it out
727 - Am I a fatalist-
728 - Maybe I am a fatalist - last of the trilogy --) (for now….at least)
730 - Why I am not a fatalist (again- !!!)


Continuing from my previous post, I believe one should not “judge” or “color” any part of his life at all. An unexpected accident, a cancer in your body, a “gifted” child, a mother who is degrading on account of Alzheimer, a child who is going though liver failure – if you look at it with a Buddhist viewpoint – its nothing but Karmic unwinding.

If you agree with that, then my friend, why judge your own Karmic unwinding?

How does this differ from fatalism? It does have superficial similarities, but also has its big philosophical stand-offs.

For starters, all I am suggesting is “mental acceptance”. On the other hand, I believe, physically (and not medically….more on that later), we are supposed to fight a cancer, an Alzheimer, a broken accident-leg to the extent that our energies support us. No fatalist would do that, infact, most fatalists would “mourn”, that “God chose me for this punishment”, whereas I(as a person) would treat Alzheimer as part of my destined life, and proceed to live (and die) with as much aplomb, as I would have done in “normal” course.

Get the drift?

726 : Mama said, “Fight” it out

(Please read 726, 727 and 728 – in that preferred order

Suggested reading order

726 - Mama said, “Fight” it out
727 - Am I a fatalist-
728 - Maybe I am a fatalist - last of the trilogy --) (for now….at least)
730 - Why I am not a fatalist (again- !!!)


This post is specifically for someone who is very close to my heart, but very difficult to talk to (Hee Haw!!, what if you don’t wear a belt, I can still hit where it hurts. Rule of life : If you let a chance to dig go by, then don’t “fight” the chances. Jokes apart, Muaaahhhh!! to you sweetheart)

One of the fundamental cornerstones of how I live my life is, that I just refuse to “fight” or “resist” or “push back” on life. I let the monkey called life, get comfortably on my back and then run with the roost.

What does that exactly mean?

Simple examples. I will get a massive migraine headache, I will neither color it nor will I judge it. I will not say or think (even in my mind), “wish this goddamned headache went away”. Will my not calling it “goddamned” make it the headache any easier?

Nah….you got it wrong….what I meant, I will neither treat it as “good” or “bad”, but I will treat it as another aspect of my life for those few hours or days, just like we assume that our parents will be around with us for the first 40 years of our lives. We don’t judge it, we accept it, and then imbibe it into our lives, let the occurrence in some sense squirm into us.

I will treat my headache as another appendage of me….live with it, through its lifetime.

Does that mean, I will never take medicines for it? So far, I have never taken medicines for my migraine in the past 12-18 months….but, honestly, I don’t rule that out, since I don’t have a fuckety rickety rule which forbids me from taking a medicine. Ideally, the answer is “no”, but its entirely possible.

Having said that, what I will not do, is “fight” with the occurrence, especially a mental fight. I will not slur it, neither will I let it overwhelm me. I will continue living life normally, as if, this headache always (or never) existed, and was always meant to be.

Does that make me a fatalist?  Someone who submits to his destiny? Not really, turn the argument around, infact it makes me a survivor. (am happy to have a detailed philosophical argument on this aspect)

How does “not fighting” help? Why not simply take Ibuprufen?

“Not fighting” is similar to the Ayn Rand principle of “withdrawal”, of bending around a problem without really acknowledging it, or changing your core values for it. While driving, you cannot break a mountain, but you can move around it.

Imagine, like Steve Jobs, you are diagnosed with liver cancer and are given 2 years to live. Do you go out and “fight” this disease out of your life (you still need to fight it out of your system….that “fight” is  different….you still need to do your surgery, have medicines if needed, exercise and have healthy food….all of that is perfectly essential….if you dont do that, you could be labeled a fatalist…more on a following post).

When I say “don’t fight your situation”, I mean “accept life” as it comes, with its ups and downs. Why not assume life will always be one helluva of a six-flags-goliath-rollercoaster.

Coming back, how will this approach help?

Acceptance of the fact that “prostate cancer” is an essential (and planned) part of your life, makes you look at it like a mountain while driving, you drive around it, with no judgments on it. “Acceptance” and “no judgments” help you face the associated issues/side effects/ and eventual (and sure enough) fatality with so much ease.

How many times, have we seen a near one die, who “fights” death? It makes me wonder, can you realistically ever fight death? Is it not better to look at death with dignity, as another occurrence in your grand life. Embrace death with as much zeal, as you hugged your little one, the day she was born.

In summary, “not fighting” is “not coloring” – the day you begin to look at the birth of a daughter, death of your mother, blood cancer, a promotion, a great bonus, a spastic brother, a father in comatose – in the same understated hue, you would have learned to deal with life better.

If it makes it difficult to accept this shumbug, it might help you to know that this is how I have lived my life in the past 10 years.

Am I in a Zen state? Of course, not. Am I at peace? Of course not, my life is worse than a dinosaur fuckfest……but you cannot take away the mental advantages of this approach (and the years it adds to my otherwise very limited life span :-))

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

725 : The search is…..

Tamam shehar hi jiski talaash mein ghum tha,
mein uske ghar ka pata kisko puchhta yaaron
(The whole city was lost (engrossed) in whose (his) search,
Who (in this city) can I (foolishly) ask for the location of his home!!)

(From Sajda, Mili Hawaon Mein Udne ki Sazaa Yaaron, Lata Mangeshkar & Jagjit Singh)

724 : Give me 1 more and I am off the edge

Someone I know is getting into Harvard Law School. She supposedly (its heresay for me, and hence…) was very unhappy that she did not top her current Law School, she came in a “sad, weak” second.

Time for the classic “whipsaw” Amit to take over, an Amit who cuts both ways. Who is Amit? Jackass, thats me…..

I am terribly competitive myself (to an extent of being hyper competitive), but I choose my races, and run them along the duration, I (believe and assume) that I am pacing myself…..and yet, I fail to understand her behaviour completely.

Who the fuck cares in the longer term, whether your topped school, or got the promotion an year earlier than your colleague, or got the employee of the year in 2006……(more on the “long term” later)

Lets indulge in some intellectual masturbation… these things matter at all?

At 15, you want to top school, at 17, you want a college sweetheart, at 22, you want a great job, at 26, you want a great spouse, at 30 you want great kids, at 35, you want security and semblance in your life, at 45 you plan for retirement, at 65 you plonk off…..

As long as you can pull most of these at the right times, you don’t need to top Harvard or any of that.

My favourite peeve (or yardstick is) , we humans invariably confuse symbols with reality. This is a perfect example of that mistake.

Having said that, in the long term we are all 6 feet down under, so nothing really matters in long term :-)

723 : Yin and Yang

My old boss (one of the finest human beings I have ever known), Maninder Singh, used to always remind me about the balance of yin and yang (not in as many words, though).

His point was, if you live a life full of “too” good health, but incongruous with your lifestyle (example you smoke 10 ciggies a day, or work for 18 hours a day, 20 cups of tea a day etc..)…it will eventually catch up with you. You cannot escape it for too long. His additional point was, if and when the yin (negative) does catch up with you, it will be a far more impactful than a normal yin-attack.

His favourite example used to remain “cancer” as a disease – and why perfectly healthy folks get “cancer” – its simply because either your physical or mental lifestyle was unhealthy, and it was always bubbling under, just that you never noticed, until it blew in your face.

If I look at my own story, am a waking example of a perfectly healthy body until I was 23, suffering ailments in the last 10 years. (People don’t believe me, when I tell them, I have never suffered Flu, Typhoid or Malaria ever in my life so far..and yet now, I have a few “sidey” others to worry about….chuckle  :-)) ).

Maninder’s theory might almost sound like grand retribution and its ilk, right?

I have a slightly different take on this….Imagine you were a perfectly healthy body for 23 years (like me), when a slight imbalance does strike you (like it did for me), it quickly spirals out of control, because neither your body’s wisdom, nor your mental strength is prepared for anything like this (unlike a normal body which has seen horrible travails at periodic intervals).

In effect, being too healthy for too long, is a sure fire recipe for a 8.5 ritcher ailment.

I have just taken a health as an example, if we extend that to personal life, if we live a life too “perfect” to be true, someday, a slight turbulence has the potential to spin out of control, and wreak havoc, which in otherwise “regular” lives would have passed with just a slight rumble and shake.

If this mumbo-jumbo is statistically(or otherwise)  proven, what does it mean?
Hope you have Ying and Yang, spread through your life, like salt and pepper through a good omelette, rather than finding a lump of pepper in a corner of your otherwise bland omelette.

722 : Stuck in my head….

Ik Dil se Dosti thi, Yeh Hazoor bhi kaminey….(From Kaminey’s title song….brilliant lyrics, just outstanding!!)

721 : Why do I write?

My sister and I were talking on why do I write. I write because I need to, not because I “want” to, or “like” to, or “enjoy it”.

I write to keep my juices running, to avoid my gears from locking up, my thoughts colliding against each other. Just like people pray for their sanity, others sing to release repression, I write to survive, to keep dancing within the shards of my own chimera.

She asked me about “chetan bhagat”, and why cannot I write and be a successful author like him(the jackass…Chetan Bhagat represents everything that is wrong in the world of prose today (Not a 5 point someone, rather a 60 IQ someone…a complete idiot.)

I write because I have to, not for money, not for branding, not for 15 mins of fame, not for my readers, not for fun, not for enjoyment….but to live.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly, an English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
(Picked this up from

720 : Open The Magazine

Four posts on this magazine. Do I still need to tell you folks, that I am impressed? Wish we had more sensible mags like these out in India.

Lament the death of the old, ring in the new :-)

I have been reading this magazine for about 4 months. Catch the magazine at

719 : Give my body back by Elizabeth Kuruvilla from Open Magazine

Yet another brilliant article from Open Magazine. I don’t know Elizabeth Kuruvilla, but this must be one of the best (and shortest) writings on motherhood, that I have read in a long time. This is definitely writing and prose at its best, its scathing, humorous, honest…and hence connects instantly,  like a plug to a socket. Note the last para, a great operatic end to an already outstanding prose.

Miss Kuruvilla, take a bow….

Original article at

Reproduced locally for easier reading….

Give My Body Back

A new mother recounts the invasion of her body, the birth of the stranger and how there seems to be no respect for her breasts anymore

BY Elizabeth Kuruvilla EMAIL AUTHOR(S)

How does one connect emotionally with an individual who has not even begun to exist? (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

How does one connect emotionally with an individual who has not even begun to exist? (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

I want my body back. If I abuse it, then I want the freedom to be able to harm myself alone. If I care for it, it should be for my satisfaction and vanity alone. Indeed, I believe I cannot even allow a freak accident to take my life, since it’s no longer mine alone. It wouldn’t harm me to die, but I am now intimately linked to another in a way I’ve never been before. But that may be just my vanity speaking.

For the last 27 months, I’ve shared my body with my baby. From the moment it was confirmed that my womb had become home to a little being, the house-cleaning started in earnest. My family has always revolved around food, but this was now perfected to cater to every vitamin, carbohydrate, protein, calcium the baby might require. The lungs were cleared of even peripheral cigarette smoke, most often at the cost of my social life. And unease crept over me each time I sipped the occasional glass of wine, despite being quoted medical wisdom about its benefits for pregnant women.

Indeed, I was careful to do almost everything right. I made sure I walked and bathed with care, lest I slipped and hurt the foetus. I stayed calm—well, most of the time. And while sleeping, my duties continued: there is some obscure case for sleeping on the right that I can’t remember now. The discomfort of largely sleeping through the night in one position seemed worth enduring. That’s what impending motherhood does to you: creating the perfect nursery for the baby is just one small external detail.

I thought it strange then that I was not filled with the maternal love and joy that one is said to instinctively feel at such times. Really, how does one connect emotionally with an individual who has not even begun to exist? And frankly, I have no idea what new mothers talk of when they gush about the special bond that’s created when they hold their baby to their breast the first time. That was just a clumsy experience where neither the baby nor I seemed to know what to do. (No, I did not feel a rush of love the first moment I saw her, just curiosity really.) It was a nurse guiding me—awkwardly cradling a wrinkled, pink new-born who was yet to flicker open her eyes—as I manually pumped some milk on to the baby’s lips, prompting her to take the lead, even as my friends stood around capturing ‘the moment’ on camera.

We got into the groove soon enough, and the baby started feeding with much gusto. I watched with pride as she started accumulating the rolls of fat and the chubbiness associated with healthy babies. And my dietary precautions continued—the better I ate, the better the baby ate; the more healthy my lifestyle, the more robust my child’s growth.

It’s with the addition of these small, seemingly inconsequential details that you begin to realise that you must live—and live well—for the sake of your child. Once a parent, you begin to realise that you are now two people. Parenting can be a test of endurance—and there is no escape that you would probably willingly choose to take—but it can also teach you organisational skills like nothing else. You crave to relive your carefree past, but you also feel guilty when you have to be away from this small child who is so true to her emotions, who gets heartbroken at your departure and bursts with joy at your return. You want to do your best for your child, but sometimes, you also really want to do what you want to do.

It was while breastfeeding that I began to realise that the world perceives a woman’s body differently from a mother’s body. A mother’s breast changes its identity. It is still beautiful, but in a very different way. It is still celebrated, but there is now a purity attached to it that wasn’t there before. Where it was till recently a sexual object, kept under wraps, a breastfeeding mother can expose herself without shame. Considering the regularity of the feeds, the practical necessity of doing so without caring if the world was watching does immune you after a point. But I still admit that it was a strange feeling to have people walk in and out of the room, or sit around chatting with me as though being half unclothed and having a breast exposed was the most normal thing in our world. This was a shift in attitude I admit I could not adjust to easily.

Where was the privacy I had come to expect? While some people sought permission to be with me while I fed my child, many others did not. I often wondered whether my existence as an individual had faded in comparison to my new role as a mother? Or, was this just an overreaction caused by the rigours of taking care of a new-born child, at a time when my body was still battered and trying to recover from the shock of childbirth?

I soon started falling in love with Noor. Of course, it did take several weeks from her birth to stop referring to her as ‘the baby’, and as I came to recognise and decipher her needs, her wants and her joys from the tiniest sounds and expressions, she became a real ‘person’ to me.

And over the months, when she started becoming more aware of her surroundings and could express herself in many more ways, I was given the privilege of being her most cherished person. If I was around, she wanted me to be part of her every little experience. If she cried, she would rather I hold her in my arms. And it also meant that when I came back home in the evening after an entire day away from her, she needed the comfort of knowing that she had me back. For a child who I hadn’t the strength of heart to wean off till she was a good 18 months old, this meant the familiarity of being at my breast. Whether she was hungry or not, she would fidget and whine till I gave in to her pleas. With this physical connection established, it almost seemed as though she had repossessed me and there was nothing to worry about anymore.

I clearly remember when as a child myself, I couldn’t sleep till I held on to my mother’s arm. I can still remember how soft and cool the touch of her skin always felt. My daughter is not breastfeeding anymore, and every day, she’s becoming more and more of an independent person. Every so often, with a brush of her hand, she resists our valiant attempts to feed her, or to bathe her, and with intense pride and an enthusiasm that is catching, shows off all that she has learned to do on her own. But it’s when she wants to sleep, when she knows she will shut her eyes to the world for a few hours, that her need to feel secure is the most intense. Lying next to me, a thumb in her mouth and her other hand gently placed against my skin gives her that sense of comfort.

It will take a long time—maybe never—before I can claim my own independence. But even so, as Noor’s memories of breastfeeding fade, I now know that it’s me—and not just my physical self—that is so very important to her.

718 : Kapil’s Kaplish from Open Magazine…

And yet another one….

Original at

Reproduced here for easier reading….

Kapil’s Kaplish

Kapil Dev, without any struggle, has got complete independence from the rules of the English language

BY Madhavankutty Pillai EMAIL AUTHOR(S)

Kaplish has some mysterious patterns (Photo Illustration; Photo AFP)

Kaplish has some mysterious patterns (Photo Illustration; Photo AFP)

Early in his career, after the young Sachin Tendulkar became aware of his own deification, just one thing changed in him. When asked to make a public address, he started spacing out his words. He would speak slowly, measuring what was coming out of his mouth, word by word, concentrating hard. His voice was almost girly but what was worse was that he was so completely aware of this blemish. Kapil Dev never had that problem.

Here’s Kapil Dev at Lord’s in a dark blue blazer and with a gleam in his eyes immediately after picking up the 1983 World Cup: I am happy, what my team done here today…A target wasn’t good enough to fight…

And here is Kapil in 2008, 25 years later, talking about that victory, during a BCCI function to felicitate the players: We like acknowledge how proud how happy today we are. His grammar has undergone little change in over a quarter century. It might even have deteriorated, if you consider that in the latter instance he was reading from what looked like a prepared speech. In the line, you can pick out five grammatical mistakes. You could even correct it (‘We’d like to acknowledge how proud and happy we are today’). But then comes his next line: You are inviting us and giving us such a reception which we never ever expected. This is when you suspect there is more at work here. He is not speaking in English. He is speaking a unique language that has its own rules. Observe the lines that follow: What we achieved 25 years I think in our own mind we were very young people. Perhaps some of the people understood what happened. As a captain I didn’t understand what really happen and how it happen…People loved us and that was the biggest reward. The board loved us and that was the reward. A lot of people in last one week or ten days talk lot about money. In my mind money everybody loves money but the love and affection what people get it, what you are giving to us, I think that is unparallel.

Kaplish has some mysterious patterns. For one, half of Kapil’s sentences are in proper English. In his 1983 post-World Cup victory spiel, he said in indisputably correct English: We should do it next time as well. And then, there’s a switch to Kaplish: We played like a winner throughout the game, throughout the series, everybody fight, fight for their lives and they said we will do it. Sometimes, half his sentence is in English and the other half is in Kaplish. Like this gem when he headed the Indian Cricket League and the BCCI gave him grief: Administration says no, ICC say noes.

In recent times, we have heard a lot of Kaplish, thanks to the BCCI–ICL spat and television. He abolished prepositions (We are not expecting any recognise us), he was liberal with the indefinite article (The idea is to have a cricket in India), and sometimes, well, sometimes he said something like this: I never want to say that but today I am saying that. Today or ever cricket will go divide somewhere only one person to be blamed.

Yet, no one ever wonder what it that he meant, that’s the horrifying beauty, even if it a language different, the message come across a clear.

717 : My right to say the wrong thing by Kabeer Sharma from Open Magazine

Another brilliant article from Open Magazine. Original at

Reproduced here for easier reading……..

My Right to Say the Wrong Thing

As India grows, there is an increase in the delicate liberal types who get offended by almost everything. Suddenly, you don’t have the freedom to say anything

BY Kabeer Sharma EMAIL AUTHOR(S)



A big minefield for political correctness is sexual preferences (Graphic: NILANJAN DAS)

A big minefield for political correctness is sexual preferences (Graphic: NILANJAN DAS)

Friend: Hey, what do you think of Rihanna?
Me: The Black rapper chick?

My friends gasped at my answer for two reasons. One was appalled that I should think of Rihanna as a rapper, the other was affronted enough to call me “racist” and storm out of the room. She returned later, but refused to talk to me the rest of the week.

I didn’t particularly mind being shunned, and I wouldn’t have cared about the ‘racist’ tag, if I were one. A few weeks later, I was almost lynched at a nightclub because I said a friend’s acquaintance, who was dark, looked South Indian. She wasn’t from the South, apparently.

The fact is that in both situations I was simply being matter-of-fact. So am I a jerk? Many people mistake me for a Sardar; does that make them jerks?

And shouldn’t we have the freedom to be jerks, if we want to? Recently, in my office, strong objections were raised against calling a girl ‘chica’. It was a pre-emptive strike. The folks who objected to the term had no idea what ‘chica’ meant. They thought it demeaned women, so if you used the term then you were a chauvinist.

What’s wrong with this kind of hyper-righteousness is that people can become tyrannical to protect their ‘values’. Even women aren’t spared, not even a chief minister. Last year, a Delhi-based TV journalist was murdered while driving home late in the night. It was a particularly gruesome and shocking murder. But is it unreasonable to have wondered if she should have been a little more careful? Sheila Dixit, Delhi’s Chief Minister, was branded ‘sexist’ for asking that question. If men can drive home at four in the morning and work late, so can women. I agree. A city’s streets ought to be safe for everyone regardless of gender, but the Delhi CM wasn’t totally wrong in making her point. In the times we live in, the fact that women are not safe driving alone through some stretches of the city is simply an uncomfortable reality. Should something be done about it? Absolutely. But till it is, women need to be more careful. Raise the topic over a beer, and you will find out exactly how good it is for hair.

A friend who argued that women shouldn’t wear mini-skirts in crowded places was whooped by a pack of feminazis in his office. His point was that women should be discerning about where they wear short skirts, he wasn’t implying they shouldn’t wear them at all. You will get an equally unfriendly response from a particular type of sun-block users whose lifestyle includes walking with English placards, if you question the idea of Tibet or criticise monk protesters.

The environment lobby is worse. I drive a diesel car, aspire to own a Hummer, and my idea of a great Sunday is tearing through the Aravalis in a 4x4 that has never passed a pollution test. Some of my ‘enlightened’ friends ask me how I can be so irresponsible, so flagrantly inconsiderate. But what about my right to enjoy the power of my car, my right to take pride in the fact that my legitimate vehicle eats up more road than any other machine?

What about people who believe it’s illogical to shut off a car engine at every traffic light when there’s 43º C heat outside and a stoplight every 76 metres? The green lobby couldn’t give a toss if the rest of us have heatstroke as long as we’re buried in something biodegradable. But then why should the rest of us sacrifice our right to have a dissenting view on the subject?

But the largest minefield for political correctness is sexual preferences. Thou shalt not make a homosexual joke in front of a man who bats for the other team, and you shall say ‘gay’ not ‘homosexual’. Apparently, the word ‘homosexual’ lays inordinate emphasis on sex, while the term ‘gay’ has positive connotations.

I refuse to use the word ‘gay’, not because I don’t like its positive connotations, but because I went to a school which had the following words in its school anthem: ‘We are Springdalians happy and gay’. Once kids caught on to the fact that the word ‘gay’ had been appropriated by a section of the population, they began giggling through what was meant to be a serious and inspiring song. The words were subsequently changed to: ‘We are Springdalians and we are here to stay’. On the other hand, why should homosexuals be presumed as happy? Heterosexuals are happy people too. And if ‘straight’ is the term to hang on to, there isn’t anything wrong with ‘bent’, is there?

Getting sexual terminology right is not the only thing a man could be castrated for, animal conservation is a second major risk. Try telling a gathering that you itch to hunt at least one animal in your life—even if it is something as destructive as the blue bull and you will be threatened with nauseatic glances and abject disapproval.

The most ridiculous demigod I’ve ever heard of is this guy a colleague was gushing about. He went to someone’s house for dinner and found a tiger skin rug. So he burnt it. He has now become some kind of a hero. But why? I think it is extremely rude to burn your host’s rug.

Animal lovers are menacing people. Try admitting aloud that you’d like to go out hunting at least once in your lifetime and you’d understand how it feels to be a prey. Confession: through the ages of four to ten, my favourite possession was an authentic leopard skin coat procured from the erstwhile USSR. Needless to say I don’t wear it anymore, neither does it fit, nor do I wish to get egg-faced by an outraged animal rights activist.

Dogs are an even more perilous subject for the Politically Incorrect. They climb on to cars, upturn dustbins, bite children and any number of postmen, but if you dare to suggest, however quietly, that the critters ought to be put down, Maneka Gandhi, most of the girls in the Penguin publishers’ office, and thousands of other good souls will bray for your blood. Who cares about your right to be safe? There must be some perk to being the dominant species. Then there are those of us who refuse to turn vegetarian despite appeals by Che Guevara’s topless granddaughter. Isn’t it our God-given right to have a spoon of Beluga caviar, if we so wish and can afford?

Orwell wrote, ‘The enemies of intellectual liberty always try to present their case as a plea for discipline versus individualism… to write in plain, vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox.’ Unfortunately for Orwell, the politically orthodox have staged a U-turn. It’s now politically orthodox to be politically unorthodox.

We live in strange times where, it seems, the only important commandment is ‘Do not offend’. So, black is not black (it’s African-American), fat is not fat (it’s healthy), blind is visually challenged, lame is physically challenged, gay people are not to be called homosexuals, and transgenders are not to be called trannies. But it’s okay for everyone to offend this poor man who’s getting so used to walking on his toes that he might as well put on a tutu and join the ballet. But that would offend the alternately sartorially inclined.

716 : Deschooling from Open Magazine

I like Open Magazine…period (I said the same thing about Tehelka 5 years ago, and I am not sure of it anymore :-))

In the Independence Day Issue, there this is the concept of “de-schooling” explained. My own views on this concept were very mixed. You (and I) can choose to be alternative because it suits us, but we cannot impose/enforce the same on our children, especially if everyday we make them watch television, study in a school with 60 other children, and live in a apartment complex where houses cost north of a quarter million USD….You can’t run a tabela at Wall-street, because it just wont fit in. Similarly, kids with too much alternative lifestyle might grow up very confused, if they are fed on an alternative diet and are living in an urban stupor…..those two don’t get along well.

We are the product of our own choices, our own little multiplicity. Our children on the other hand, are a product of our choices, and the implicit choices the world enforces on them. If we cannot show them a world beyond the urban stupor, you already have marked them on a one way street with a tag called “regular”.

Article reproduced below for easier reading….

Original at

Learn as You Will

Some parents do not send their children to school because they believe it is a destructive concept. These kids pick up things as they grow up talking to animals, running freely through villages and observing the whole world around them schooling.

BY Shubhangi Swarup EMAIL AUTHOR(S)


Seven-year-old Kanku’s parents have decided to not send her to school

Seven-year-old Kanku’s parents have decided to not send her to school

Kanku interacts with children, adults, old people, stray cows, dogs and cats on a level field

Kanku interacts with children, adults, old people, stray cows, dogs and cats on a level field

“I don’t want to go to school, they hit children there.”

“I don’t want to go to school, they hit children there.”


Sunday is nothing special for seven-year-old Kanku. Her parents, Manish and Vidhi Jain do not send her to school. They also decided against home schooling.

Kanku’s parents are among the few in India who have been inspired by the philosophy of ‘de-schooling’, which aims at de-institutionalising the individual. Manish says the factory schooling system works to suppress all uniqueness in children and mass-produces humans fit to be recruited by a world that is run on deeply flawed economic beliefs. Manish looks at the natural wisdom and unbridled imagination of children as a fragile natural asset on which contemporary schooling superimposes the mediocrity of uniform thought.

“Learning is as natural as breathing, it happens as we go along,” says Chandresh, a family friend and parent of two vibrant kids who are undergoing de-schooling. “A school unnaturally divides our day into learning time, food time, playing time. Even prisons and factories are based on regulated time schedules.”

Manish and Chandresh have given their children the freedom to create their own learning spaces. Vidhi says Kanku has not shown much interest in reading and writing. She is keen to cook, play with animals, be amidst nature and is currently enamoured of weddings. She loves dressing up and wearing make-up. She pays attention to her appearance and body lan­guage, carrying her chunni with the grace of a heroine. She sometimes refers to her parents as groom and bride.

Kanku is encouraged to visit artisan workshops, organic farms and the alternative education centre run by her father. But the ultimate decision on what she would like to learn, from whom, where and when, rests with her. When Vidhi decided to live with a village artisan to learn more about natural colours and dyeing, she didn’t have to think twice about taking Kanku along. “I knew Kanku would love to dig and dip into them. But for the three days that we were there I think Kanku must have spent only two to three hours in the workshop. She made friends and was roaming by herself in the village. She was happy to run from one house to the other asking for buttermilk, lambs, mehendi [henna] and lahengas [girls’s dress]. By the end of the second day, most of the villagers knew her.”

Kanku interacts with kids, adults, old people, stray cows, dogs and cats alike in a characteristically self-assured manner.

Children have a natural confidence that is often destroyed by excessive instruction, believes Chandresh. When Ajanmaya, his younger son who is five, began to play with a knife at two-and-a-half after seeing his parents cut fruit, they resisted snatching the knife away from him. “He scratched himself a few times. But now he cuts his own fruit,” says Chandresh.

Most parents believe that children must not be exposed to grim realities like death, but Vidhi believes that when a real life situation has to be faced, it needs to be shared by the whole family, including children. Kanku was six when her great grandmother passed away. She was part of all the mourning ceremonies despite the hesitation of relatives. When the body was taken away for cremation, relatives tried to distract Kanku with toys but the girl sat with her parents and grandparents, wiping their tears.

An American citizen, Manish Jain lived the NRI dream before moving to India. With a masters degree from Harvard University in education planning, policy and media under his sleeve, he went on to work on Wall Street as an investment banker. He also worked in Washington on interna­tional education policy. Eleven years ago, Manish decided to reverse the family’s migration. “I survived the horrors of suburban American life, the high point of which was going shopping to malls and drinking with friends. It was lonely. It was alienating. To live in a flat, too scared to talk to strangers.”

Manish returned to his native Udaipur to set up Shikshantar, where new ways of education are explored. Manish, who could watch seven to eight hours of TV every day and drink gallons of Coca-Cola, has now given up even tea. Although de-schooling is a concept introduced by American thinker Ivan Illich, for Manish, de-schooling is similar to Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of Swaraj. “Very few know that Gandhi was also a great critic of modern society,” he says.

“I don’t want to go to school, they hit children there. I want to teach myself, like Kudrat,” Kanku announces in a conversation with Panna Lal, an organic farmer. Kudrat is Chandresh’s nine-year-old son, who is also being de-schooled. Kudrat considers himself gifted because he can do a thumb dance, bend his elbow the other way and has an enviable store of riddles. He travels all over India, sometimes without his parents, escorted by other adults and has learnt to look after himself. When he has an upset tummy, he opts for bananas. If that doesn’t work, he skips a meal. He invents games and creates storybooks for entertainment. Since he hasn’t learnt writing yet, he requests others to write down the dialogues, which he diligently reproduces in his book. He has learnt to grasp the symbolic nature of language, and can sense the meaning, if not the exact words. He is good at assessing his cards while playing Uno, and strategising. And he’s a great dramatist, bursting into one-man shows at the drop of a hat. Little wonder that Kanku has chosen a boy like him as her role model. She knows he is different.

715 : Wormhole Jargonbuster – 5 – Paper Pusher

“Paper Pusher” is can be used interchangeably with “Box Ticker”.

Read Box Ticker at 705 - Wormhole Jargonbuster – 4 - Box ticking

714 : Rorshach dots (aka Bhayanak Maut cover)


Saw this image on the cover on Bhayanak Maut’s self titled album, and first thought which came to my mind was “fractals” (am an engineer by education and predilection :-))

Then coincidentally, was reading this fortnight’s Forbes and they had a write up on Rorshach dots. (From wikipedia - The Rorschach test (German pronunciation: also known as the Rorschach inkblot test or simply as the Inkblot test) is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex scientifically derived algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning. It has been employed to detect an underlying thought disorder, especially in cases where patients are reluctant to describe their thinking processes openly.[3] The test takes its name from that of its creator, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach. )

On a different note, this is what I like (love) about art. A peek and boo show which the author/painter/album art director is playing with you. In this case the album art guy (he is a band member) let it be there on his album and let others figure the mystery of the dots on their own. Almost like a puzzle trail. Most art (and writing esp.) will be full of these easter eggs. I myself leave a hell lot of them all over this blog. And if, and when, someone understands them, and better still, reaches out to me to confirm, it seems like a hallelujah moment, a moment, where you hid a diamond in a haystack, and a complete stranger found it, just because you willingly left a clue.

That’s why authors like Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Ruchir Joshi (and the ilk) feature top of my pile.

I actually like these little games in conversations also. (Like the “welcome” conversation I had with my sister recently)…..that one word conversation is worth a million spoken words. The little game and its mighty outcome, makes it all worth it.

More about Bhayanak Maut at

More about Rorshach dots at

A free online test at

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

713 : There is a new goal in town…

My niece should continue to love me and talk to me at 52 (which in all probablity looks difficult for reasons beyond my “niece”, read carefully there are other clues in the same sentence).

Thats one goal to live for, and beat death to.

712 : Dances with the wind….

(Back to back posts on dance….)

From my balcony, I can directly look into the community hall. Its about 50 feet away with huge windows and bright lights.

On weekends between 10 and 11, a young guy (must be less than 25) teaches toddlers “bollywood dancing”. What is that? He teaches them to dance fully choreographed moves on the new popular bollywood dance tracks. The kids are all less than 5 year old.

Its a sight to watch as he encourages them and dances along, knowing each of them by name. The kids love it, its probably more fun to see a bunch of motley kids dance, than actually see the actors do the perfectly choreographed moves.

Two associated points:
1. If I ever have a kid, he/she definitely joins this group as soon as possible.
2. I don’t know how much this job pays, but should classify as a “dream job” from a role spec perspective. If I could afford it (and of course, if I had the talent to teach!!), I would be willing to “pay” in order to have the privilege of teaching these tiny angels.

711 : Child of the universe….

I live in an enclosure of 5 separate buildings. On the opposite side of our home, on the lower floor, lives a lady (probably alone, but that is besides the point). Every evening (almost!!), she turns up her TV volume to the loudest, and puts on some fancy music, and she just dances, a free flow no-holds barred dance.

How do I (we, my wife too!!) know? She turns on all her lights, and the windows are all fully open. Not only we, but the whole of the world around can see her.

Though there is the element of voyeurism in all of this, there is absolutely no titillation, its not like this lady dances all nude (holy crap!!) or does some sensual belly dancing moves.

What inspires me, is the absolute “dont-care-what-the-world-makes-of-this” attitude, very similar to a lady wearing a deep cleavage flaunting v-neck in a middle-class Maharashtrian locality, or a guy wearing a skin tight velvet trouser to office…..

Don’t look at the dysfunctional aspects of this (if any at all!!), focus instead on the person’s comfort with her own individuality.

This is a person who is truly a child of the universe. If my post does not convince you, you must watch her dance alone with gay abandon, and I am sure a part of you will tinge (and cringe!!), almost whispering “Why cant I do that?”.

Monday, August 24, 2009

710 : Understanding is….

If you understand things, things are what they are,
If you don’t understand things, things are what they are.

(From one of Alan Watt’s books)

709 : Music 52 : Pratham Dar Dhyan

If you hear Ghulam Mustafa Khan singing “Pratham Dar Dhyan” from Umrao Jaan, you will know why great music knows no boundaries. Hear the (muslim) Ustad sing a paean to Lord Shiva with such passion, that you invariably end up having goose pimples. This remains one of my all time favorite classical compositions. You can hear it a million times, and yet never get bored of it. It helps everytime you hear it, you silently also pay obeisance to Lord Shiva (hows that coming from an atheist?)

pratham dhar dhyaan dinesh
brahma vishnu mahesh

ab mori naiyya paar karo ji
hazarat nizaam-ud-diin auliya

sujan vichaar aayo man ma
kab piya aaye more mandirava

biraj mein dhoom machaayo kaanha
kaise kar jaaun sakhi apane dhaam

dashran do shankar mahaadev
mahaadev tihaare charan bin
more kal naahi padat ghar pal chhin

pakadat bainya mori banavaari
choodiyaan ka ras gayi saare anaadi

bansuri baj rahi dhun madhur
kanhaiya ke rat jaago

708 : Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

You can either spend your life in search of truth, and once you find it, you can discard the truth and find your life again. (I made that complex sentence up).

The statement inherently assumes that “life” and “truth” are different. Are they, are they not? What you “live” is a function of your own multiplicity. The “truth” on the other hand is assumed to be unchanging, but paradoxically can be found anywhere, including a strip club or a Hummer.

Sounds mumbo-jumbo? Partly, because it is. Its a difficult concept, I am trying to play with.

Muhammed Ali, found truth in his puglilist days, and hence could “float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee.”

A Tyson, on the other hand, chased Ali’s dream (and not his own) and hence ended up stung like a bee, and grounded like a sloth.

(I think I need to stop, this post is going nowhere. Very sloppy presentation. Need to think of a better way of exploding this idea. Sorry!!)

707 Rules of the game re-visited

A few days  ago a conversation I was having went something like this:

B : So Amit, will you be getting Ganapati at your house this year (what he meant, was the idol-visarjan ritual, and not necessarily the Godhead).
Amit : Not really. (I think he would have died, if I would have told him I am a atheist).
B : You must, it will solve a lot of your problems. Ganeshji is known for that.
Amit : I know.
B : (Continuing)….The way I see it, there are billions of subjects in God’s little world, and this might be just one of the world he looks after. It will be difficult, if not impossible to pay personal attention to each of those billion souls. But, out of these billion, if you are a known “name” – an identity more than a statistic, then some personal attention can (at least) flow your way. Almost like a corporate world, if you are in IBM, 6 lakh employees, you are just one amongst those for the CEO, and he can hardly (directly) influence your life. On the other hand, if you had ever dropped him a 1-1 email or have spoken to him for 10 minutes, he (at least) knows you, and the chances that he can affect your personal destiny more directly substantially increases.  (and on…and on…)

You get the drift?

I found B’s logic highly simplified, and readily palatable to most believers.

I do participate in Ganesh Puja’s and others as well, and do believe these rituals have merits outside the mere scope of theology, and hence I might someday (in the coming years) potentially get Ganapati home. Whether that will indeed de-blur me from being a mere statistic to a named entity in Lord Ganesh’s eyes is a subject of personal hope and belief.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

706 : Haiku by Issa

The frog
Is having a staring-match
With me

705 : Wormhole Jargonbuster – 4 : Box ticking

Background : “Box ticking” essentially means you are just literally ticking a box – metaphorically in a dumbed down form… get the drift. If you are “box ticking”, either you are doing something as a “formality” or you are doing something which requires no application of grey cells.

1. The manager for the finance team is nothing but a “box ticker”.
2. “Amit, why do you want to sign up for this job? Its nothing but a box ticking job.”
3. “How difficult can that role be. Raghav (your predecessor) was nothing but a box ticker.”

Fun Fact:
If you ever end up being referred to as a box-ticker, its time to move on, if you have any ounce of self respect. It usually means you have reached your half life, and its time to update your resume.
This word has only negative connotations.

704 : Wormhole Jargonbuster – 3 : “Gaming the System”

Background : If in your corporate wormhole you hear people say “Game the System”, what that means is, “using loop holes in the system, or box-ticking, or doing things for the sake of compliance, in letter, but not in spirit….worse still using the “system” in such a way, that the end result is something leans towards the direction you want it to.

Usage :
1.“Amit, I just filled out our meal today as an official meeting and am claiming the lunch. I hope boss does not realise that I am gaming the system.”
2. “Amit, having too much problem filling out the recruitment form again. Why dont you just game the system, do a “save as” on one of the earlier forms, and you are done”.

Fun Fact: I am yet to see someone who works in a worm hole and does not “game the system” with full cognizance of the act. Most wormholes are very Orwellian, and “gaming” is sometimes essential to just survive through the day. We corporate shenanigans do all of this, and then crib about red-tape in gov offices, as if, under our skin we were any better off.

703 : You are a product of….

Of your own multiplicity…..sounds mumbo jumbo….In the past week, I have looked at my own life and realised you choose as much of your life, as your life chooses in you.

The choices I have made in this life so far, definitely need the services of a spin doctor :-)

702 : Why blog?

My wife, my sister, my friends all choose to chase me up (and rightly so)…asking me why do I write stuff on a public blog? Why do I confess things out here, which might not be “sensitive”, but are definitely “personal”?

My simplest answer is : self – preservation. I need to write, to reach out, to do a proxy conversation. Writing and the magic of words weaving and jumbling across, gives me a sense of completion.

For me, its absolutely not about personal branding or 15 minutes of fame. I am sure, my blog does not reveal me in the most positive light, but I do hope it comes across a honest platform.

701 : Are you out of the curve?

If you don’t fit into the standard curve of the world, you will be labeled as dysfunctional. It can either be a “hygiene disorder” or “kleptomaniac” or “hippie” ….or whatever slur suits and fits….bottom line, you are out of the curve.

I find aspects of this at complete cross-hairs. The very people who love Quentin Tarintino and Salman Rushdie will perversely fight very hard to stay within the bell curve. They will go out and pay a few million dollars at Christie’s for an avant garde, but kill their own instincts at paint and color in interest of a more stable “manager type” job.

Do we really believe that Salman Rushdie is part of the curve? Who amongst us can conjure up such vivid images as those evoked as Midnight’s Children, and then realise at the end of it, that this is but a figment of fiction? Who amongst us, can run an organization like Apple, and assume that the IPod is the product of a mind from within the curve?

Every innovation (good or bad), every deviation, every lateral thought, every insight (by its very definition)… usually completely off the curve.

And yet all of us, (and that includes me), crave for the comfort and the palliative security of the curve.

Its time for me to re-read Alan Watt’s Wisdom of Insecurity.

700 : To Kill or to Live?

I am 33, and since childhood, my views on the veg/non-veg food have vacillated enormously.

Growing up as a precocious Brahmin boy, I almost rebelled against the whole “dogma” of belief, and its easy to see….. that without belief, values or truths have no bearing at all.

Till I was a teenager, freely ate meat, albiet not too much though, because to be honest, I did not enjoy that sort of food too much. I used to occasionally like seafood and continue to do so.

By the time I was 20, I was too much into Buddhist philosophy, to be deeply influenced by their precept of non-violence. By 24, I had weaned off meat, and between 2002 and 2008 – there was complete abstinence, save a few occasional digs – when and where there was no other manna available.

A large part of this period was influenced by John Robbin’s The Food Revolution.

If you had spoken to me a year ago, I would have passionately explained to you the merits of non-violence, a la PETA….to the extent that I had given up honey as well, for almost 3 years.

Fast forward to 2009. I am back on eggs, back onto meat (occasionally though, as I mentioned, I don’t enjoy that food as much + my health does not allow me to pack in too much of that protein).

What has caused the volte face? Some examples.

1. I kill a mosquito in the car, because it will hurt my baby….Does that qualify as self-defence?
2. Pest control of the home, and a thousand dead bodies all floating around? Does non-violence only extend to chickens and others, but not to roaches?
3. My leather bag involves at least one dead animal if not more.
4. The cook who serves me sandwiches at office, is a muslim. He in all probablity eats meat and poultry. If he serves me a great veg sandwich (which he invariably does, he’s a real sweet fella), but he has to eat lamb in order to sustain his own breath and faith, isn’t part of his Karma mine?
5. I take a pill of antibiotics, and a trillion of bacteria in my tummy are gone kaput…khattam shud. Does that qualify as self-defence again?

I am terribly confused, knowing fully well that my didactic logic is very weak, even if at all it holds any water. Just because there a billion deaths around, it still cannot justify one additional well. Hence my heart knows that non-violence might be still the right way to go. (Between Buddha’s and my own intelligent choice, I would blindly go with his anyday…..he is the closest I have come to acknowledging a superior being, a Godhead).

One last note though, on a completely un-related note:
In all of this, I have sincere and utmost respect for my dear brother, who is a confirmed Buddhist, has been off meat, honey, leather, pest control and the whole trapezium….for many years now.
I really admire and look up to such a strong unquestioning belief in goodness and karma.
Multiple times in a day (yes you heard me right), the thought crosses me, I wish I could share the same strong faith and belief as him.

699 : What is meditation

Meditation is not sitting in a lotus position and trying to “de-think” your mind, trying to make it blank. This kind of meditation suffers from the “monkey problem” – you are asked to think you anything at this instant, but a monkey, and the first thing that pops in your head is the image of a monkey. Similarly, asked not to “think”, your mind will  continue to think more.

Meditation could also be “sitting in a lotus position” in deep contemplation, if you really enjoy that, but not because Buddha or a book says so. Meditation is contemplation the way you like to do it.

What you do contemplate on….it could be anything…say a problem in professional life…... Contemplation allows your mind to deal with problems, ponder endlessly on them within  a focused scope, without anxiety or fear, and hence will allow your mind to see patterns and lateral solutions which otherwise your normal thought process would not pick up.

Its a fundamental drive within us, and our brains – its almost hardwired, that we want to decipher reality (the real underlying layers) within the world around us – deconstruct it objectively – rationalize it and move it. Not driven by a search for knowledge or expertise, but by rather the search for a greater uniting truth, a fundamental raison d'être……Meditation is our natural response to this hardwired desire.

If all of this shumbag is reasonably correct, I find it a little difficult to appreciate, why most of us shun it and resist our instinct to discover underlying patterns…..why do we find so much comfort at the gross layer and fight any of our natural desires to dig deeper?

I see that “insecurity” of losing grip on the gross layer, all around me, in both  people – personal and close, stranger and far.

Makes me really wonder, what is real – the “gross” world, or the world of thoughts?

698 : Peace is in your hands…

2 days ago, my nephew slept off on me, hugging me like a bear. Just co-ordinating your breathing rhythm with his (which is slightly faster than ours), was such a peaceful and self-involved exercise, it almost felt like prayer, a communion, an opera of peace.

Some things in life are priceless, for the rest the world will extract a fair price out of you :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

697 : On days like today….

I want to sit in a corner with a laptop, a few fav books, my music playing in the background…..and thats about it. No conversation, no phones, no blackberries, no IM. Blogging is fine, the rest is interaction….which is what I want to avoid.

It happens quite often, quite a number of times in a quarter. I need this urgent need to detach myself from the world, resolve things in my own head, and then return back to “life”.

I think the genesis of this behavior lies in the fact that inherently I don’t greatly enjoy “traditional” social interactions. At this point all of them are either a function of professional or personal transactions. Given a choice, even with a baby, all I would do is hold him/her and stare into space – no words exchanged.

Sometimes, social interactions sap me out completely, and today is one of those days, I feel like a Roomba who has run out of charge and needs to totter onto the nearest charging station and park itself for the next 8 hours.

696 : The poet is dead, long live the poet….

Like a whole host of desi pseudo poets, I grew up feasting on Gulzar’s poetry and film lyrics. And then in the recent years, at least I, lamented many times, that the God called Gulzar was dying a lamentable death….a slow withering slide from the sublime to the saline.

And then….you hear Kaminey (I mean the title song). If this is not the work of a genius, I would like to know what is. Take a cuss word, and create magic out of it.

Vishal has sung it as if God inspired him to, and the composition is surreal (note the high and low notes as they twist, tease and tango tirelessly with each other).

This has to be without doubt the finest music of 2009, and I don’t think it will be unseated.

Go get it.

695 : One at you, three fingers back at me…

Sri and I were talking yesterday evening. One of the things he pointed out was, that every relationship, especially with children, tends to “change you” as a person.

He then went to elaborate, that you could as a person, either choose to go with the zen flow or you could resist it. Narrating his own experiences as a father of two, he said, he had consistently used it to bring out positive changes in himself.

Contrasting this, he said, that in the western world, unlike in the oriental-Indian context, its almost fashionable to resist the changes, within the garb of “individuality” or “independence”.

I actually thought the whole analysis and perspective was refreshing and insightful, almost as scathing a social observation as you can find.

As usual, the slap-stick mediator that I am, I was rewinding this conversation in my head all through the evening and night. And the more I thought, it struck me, I was his “archetypical” western guy living in an Indian Context.

And that my friend, was the oh-no-moment for me, the moment when you realize that you have inadvertently driven a hummer over a small baby. Aghast!!

694 : My little prayer

I have been noticing, that in the past few months, almost multiple times on a daily basis, my mind sings “There is a little black spot in the sun today, its the same old thing as yesterday….”, from King Of Pain, by Sting and the Police.

Just the two lines, repeat in my head, like a little Zen koan – and strangely, every time it plays, it kind of fits neatly in the situation (at that point). Almost like a multiple interpretation koan.

Does this qualify as a prayer? (Ha Ha Ha….) pity me, poor sucker, another victim of the pop culture!!

693 : Is Dev D real? Hear it from Dev himself….

I was talking the other day, and I heard “ Dev D is such a crappy movie. How unreal Abhay Deol’s character is? Its almost like a soft porn movie”.

I agree with most of the analysis, except, that Dev or Abhay Deol’s character “ is unreal”.


Analyse this. Dev is a yuppie, an average joe born into a well-to-do household. He does not have the pressure to achieve the basic needs in life. He is above roti, kapada, makaan, internet and whatever else….so he focuses on sex and everything else in the maslow heirarchy (does Sex actually feature there? Screw balls…)

He has phone sex with his childhood love, reaches back to her and wants to marry her, and yet irrevocably gives it all up, just on the edge, because he feels she has betrayed him. Double sided hypocrisy at the extreme…..he himself has been completely licentious all the time…..and yet….

He courts (what appears to be) unhappiness for something which seems so trivial…he could easily choose the other side and live the “happy” life.  Which of us sane human beings would do that?

Get the drift?

Here is a person who “appears” to be

- A spoilt-has-it-all brat
- Does drugs, sex, and kinky flings
- Is a maniac depressive
- Is the archtypical idiot who loses everything in life, trapped in his own endless spiral.

Didn’t you see him that way. Let me tell you what I saw. A character who

- Wants to achieve his own little “greatness/success”, with his own little “values”.
- Is a weakling who struggles with his own “values”, and hence invariably appears to be a tome-of-hypocrisy.
- Who in his moments of valor, will give up everything for some “value” which he holds dear – just like a baby in the zen state(living in the moment). This character would rather deal with a 1000 problems later, than deal with himself (i.e. he against himself, if he compromised on a value).
- Who vacillates between the edge of madness and the bowl of saki – in his search of his own “greatness” – the moment of self-realization, of liberation
- He will appear in “tragedy” to the rest of the world, because he is squandered away everything – and he is indeed in “tragedy”, but for completely different reasons – he believes with every passing day, and every consummate mistake of his, he is moving further away from his “ideal”, his “greatness”, his personal “liberation” – and that dying realization is something he is not strong enough to sozzle down.

Between what appears, and what I saw, there is a big difference.

You still don’t believe Dev exists in real life. Well, for starters he is writing this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

692 : I dont feel an ounce of patriotism or “Indian-ness” under my skin….

Not because I hate India and like Singapore, or something like that…..I just feel patriotism is a very Euclidean concept, a symbolism which has run its course.

Of course we still need a country, a passport, an army, a flag….but then I also need my loo, my car, wada pav and 500 things. Do I need a special day occasion to feel for these things?

Am I just too freaky?

691 : Amit and anti-amit

I have changed irrevocably, through my growing up years.  Yesterday, I just recalled, how much I hated physical gestures, such as a hand-shake, or prostrating at the feet of elders, holding someone’s hand, or simply hugging that person.

In my head, these gestures meant nothing more than symbols and hence were completely useless. (If you can understand that, you must also have begun to sense that I am a parent’s worst night-mare, a son who radically usurps every established thought and tradition).

Years later, today, I see fundamental value in these very gestures. I believe a hug and kiss conveys more than a million words. Its how our cells communicate with each other.

The irony….

The world is moving towards where I started from…suspicious of every touch and questioning its value.

I think the only contribution of Munnabhai to this world, is “Jadu ki Jhappi” (a bear hug), its therapeutic and it works wonders.

690 : Ability to “quite” the mind

There are few things in life which reassure, and we tug at it like a baby to its mama. In my life, I must read about a 1000 books. Almost all have been entertaining, worth the time and money, but few have the power to “still” the mind. (We are only talking books here…, I have a similar list in music as well).

Three books spring to my mind, as works which genuinely contribute to my peace, no matter how many times I have read them.

Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Illusion By Richard Bach (Ironically, I hate all his other works).



Almost every written word by Alan Watts (as I often say, I wish I could  sometime get a chance to talk to someone like him. All my ideas seem to match his like water to an ocean. ….I probably could have used someone like him to reduce the raging questions in my head. ) There are lot of authors, whose views match mine, but Mr. Watts comes across as genuine, reassuring and extremely smooth on the soul. Highly recommended.


689 : In search of “The Guru”

Since childhood, I have been constantly seeking. What? I don’t know. A constantly evolving picture of the world around me, probably.

In this mind (less/ful) quest I have developed my own set of heroes…..mostly a set of discarded (and disregarded) set of fringe souls from the world, who by their written/spoken word, took control of the way I think, shaping along my life and destiny.

On the left tab, I have added a section called..”apostles of irony”, look up a few names, hope I can do my bit to make their work familiar.

I don’t have “a guru” in life, I have been lucky enough to have more than my share in that constituency, and that, my friend,  is why, when the blessings are counted, I will never yearn for another one (blessing) from this universe.

688 : Only sensible article in TOI so far about the Swine flu

Paracetamol, rest and chicken soup by Sudeshna Sen (12th Aug, Pg 4, TOI)

It’s like being gifted a designer bag by someone you hardly know, you don’t quite know if it’s the genuine article. I still don’t know if I actually had swine flu, though my doctor insists I did. How does he know? They didn’t test me; he was diagnosing and refusing to give me medicines on the phone. We’re not allowed to show up at the surgery and spread it about. I could have had measles for all I know.

It felt like any other nasty viral fever, a week or 10 days of fever and stuff, and then you’re left feeling like you’ve been flattened by a truck for another week or so. In hindsight, it’s no big deal, really, ho hum. Given the completely unnecessary palaver everyone is making about swine flu, one is more likely to die of sheer worry than of any flu. It doesn’t, in the least bit help, that media, governments and health authorities in nation after nation are following almost identical patterns, about as predictable as the flu cycle.

It’s hit Indian shores about a month after we’ve been through the whole cycle of panic and alarmism, trying to first contain and isolate, then test and treat, then a shortage of medicines as everyone panics every time we sneeze, then a move towards trying to identify only the really risky cases and treating them, and finally by that time everyone’s already had it, and recovered. We were all given dire warnings for weeks, so when I sneezed I just hoped it would go away.

By the time I summoned up the courage to call the National Health Service, they’d stopped quarantining people in their homes. “No point, it’s too widespread already,” the doctor said. Phew. I’d been giving myself heart attacks worrying. This is London, not Mumbai, nobody delivers food home. Here’s the real dope from a survivor. Don’t panic. No, it is not fatal. Not by itself, only from additional complications and usually if you are pregnant, already have other serious illnesses like heart or kidney disease, or something major. Apparently, since this beastie is related to some bug that was around in the ’20s and 30s, older people are less susceptible, but children below 16 are.

Gas masks are useless. It’s a nasty li’l virus, it’s extremely fast and sociable, it transmits itself like the common cold. Anti-virals like Tamiflu are not preventives. Don’t just pop ‘em, even if you get hold of them. They have to be taken in exactly the first 48 hours after getting the infection, it’s useless else. Also they give you nasty side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Especially in children.

The most effective treatment is paracetamol, plenty of fluids, rest, and chicken soup. That’s what I was given, despite nagging incessantly at my doctors for anti-virals. I’m not eligible for them, apparently, because in the UK, antivirals are being stingily doled out only to highrisk categories.

So I panicked, muttered darkly about being stuck in a backward country, and got someone in India to send me supplies of Oseltamivir. I called again. My rather tetchy GP told me not to whine, drink my soup and it would go away in a week or 10 days. Surprisingly, it did. By the time I was actually allowed into the surgery, and did a battery of tests in retrospect for any secondary or lingering infection, it was all over.

Monday, August 10, 2009

687 : The science of human disease (Please read…promise you it will be worth the 5 mins you “waste” on it)…H1NI swine flu and the slime of human world views….

(A very radical post. Dedicated to my  sis and the two lovely little ones. (why….. because I don’t talk :-))  Read carefully and slowly, I really hope it will force you to think)

What is the human body?

A human body is an evolving piece of mechanical machinery, that has many moving parts and is held in fine balance, by a central governing body  (the brain and the non-voluntary parts – kidney, heart, liver, clotting, etc…..Can you force your heart to miss a beat even if we want to?). Lets refer the to the governing body as the “CPU” for brevity’s' sake.

The fine balance is usually a moving target, even for the CPU. Everyday, as your body’s parameter’s fluctuates, the CPU does the difficult job of balancing. So today if you eat more salt, it pumps that out, and tomorrow, if you eat less, then it uses up its reserves to raise the salt levels in your blood.

How many parameters does the head work with?

By last count, that could easily be about a hundred thousand at least– if you factor in the mineral content in your bones, the 1000 odd glands, salts, nutrients, water and the kind.

Do we know all these parameters?

Of course not, we human (idiot) beings know a few which can be measured and believe like ostriches that what can be measured is relevant – so a blood pressure, sugar, toxins in blood is all we care about.

What is a disease?

A disease is essentially a deviation in these parameters, which begins to impact normal working of the body substantially. NOTE : I did not mention bacteria, fungus or virus anywhere.

What happens in a disease?

A disease makes the body weak, and defocuses the CPU, which moves its priority from running a fine balanced system to getting it back to a normal state.


During such a defocused period, the body becomes vulnerable to attacks. By whom?

Are virus, bacteria and other microbes our enemies?

Absolutely not. If it were not for them, we would not be such clean and efficient organisms internally. Its those little things which keep cleaning up the muck and the mess inside. They are the ones which feed off your waste, just like a bird feeds off a tree and they are essential for us, just as a bird is essential for pollination of a tree. Its a you-scratch-me-I-scratch-you deal.

On an average there are at least a few trillion microbes in any healthy human body, and they include all types and shapes – including the poor ones blamed for common cold, diarrhoea, influenza and what ever else.

I sincerely believe, we all carry all of  it all the time…they are omnipotent,they are all around us.

Don’t believe me right?

Take a slice of bread….heat it in an electric oven for 3 mins at 450 degrees C, should ideally kill all organic living forms,( including the good nutrients in it). At this point, it is organically sanitised. Now take a clean plate, wipe it with alchohol and iodine, and lo you have a sanitised plate as well. Place this bread on this plate for 3 days. What do you see 3 days later. A layer of fungi. Where did this fungi come from?

Dig a shallow well in your garden. Fill it with water. Leave it for 2 months, replenish the water everyday or so. In 2 months, you shall have fish and moss and hazaar other creatures in it. Where do these come from?

Get the drift?

A defocused body containing virus and bacteria….. now, what happens?

A defocused body is a body out of the fine balance. Its almost as if the CPU is not active at this point, almost a dead piece of stone. To a virus or a bacteria it appears like scum or muck, and they start taking pieces away from the body – the process of decay – because thats what they do – they are the world’s janitors.

But, we know, by hindsight, that the body is not really dead, or ready to die, so it fights back, now attacking the very friends which it housed in its belly for so many years. These tiny friends are emotion-less warriors, fight back  they will. They fight, now attacking back for their own survival, mutate, attack our central nervous system (from where they innately know the attack is coming….makes you marvel at their intelligence, dont they?). And sadly, this is the stage where we classify this as a disease – a fundamental misnomer. (Refer above to my definition of a disease.)

Some of these battles you lose, some of these you win. If you lose, you die to a H1N1 or Sars or even common cold. (Google on how many people die to common cold every day.)

“Lets assume, I believe all the mumbo-jumbo you have said so far in this post. Now I have got H1N1,  should I eat TamiFlu?”

There is no one answer. In most cases, no matter how big the attack/defocus is, a strong body will recover on its own, and come out much stronger for future. It will realise how to not allow a lapse of parameters in future. This is what we call as immunity.

But if you are too deep down in shit, external help aka Tamiflu, might help you – though it will screw others, because the virus family will adapt to these chemicals within weeks if not earlier.

“So, are you suggesting a nihilistic approach, sit-and-wait-for-the-virus-to-fuck-me approach?”

Absolutely not. Few things you must do asap, and continue doing, H1N1 being around or otherwise.

1. Go run/play a sport,  or any other form of exercise. The body forces you to eat more post an excercise, and replenishes the missing nutrients faster (helps in the focussing bit)
2. Eat lots of vitamin C. Your original and natural form of defence against counter-attacks. (Citrus fruits or Vitamin C shots).
3. Stop un-necessary medicines completely. No paracetamol, ibuprufen, anacin or whatever shit. A headache or a fever is a representative of the body’s process of focussing again. You taking these shitty medicines stops/interferes with this. The headache stops, but so does the focussing exercise. Will you have a medicine again, if you clearly believed that you were stopping the process of healing, and instead of helping you, it is stopping the process of healing?
4. Chomp antioxidants like your life depended on it. Leafy tea (green or black), dark chocolate, fresh fruits, leafy veggies. (Avoid meat completely…its usually dead, unless :-)….and hence is full of open radicals). Drink fresh leafy tea and see your body quickly recovers from any mess.
5. Avoid looking at the body as if it were just composed of a few params like blood pressure, cholestrol or sugar….there are almost a million more. Unless you look at the body as a whole, and stop looking at it, as a set of discrete measurement params – you will always be diseased – because you are courting it all the time.
6. Drink tap water. A bisleri or Evian is your worst friend.

Fun Fact

If you survive with “common cold” do all the time(i.e. if you are perenially infected like me), then just chill and enjoy, your body already is slightly defocused, and more importantly knows how to deal with H1N1 or any other shit. In all probability you are completely immune from such an attack.

Further suggested reading

”Wisdom of healing” by David Simon.
”Perfect Health” by Deepak Chopra
”The food revolution” by John Robbins
”Perfect Balance” by Atreya

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End Note

If you are as notorious as me, you are also a die-hard sceptic. All I implore you is to read, and judge for yourself. I shall be very happy to preach to you, if you allow me to. You know how to reach me right :-) ?
(amitabhiyer at hot male ;-) dot kom….keen to hear from you)