Sunday, January 31, 2016

2288 : The real fight

As Yudhistra finished answering the questions posed by the Yaksha (in the form of a hunched crane), the Yaksha smiled. He beatifically said "Dharmaraja, you are truly wise.  I have heard stories  of your legendary focus on Dharma, but today with the 18 answers, you have made me a little wiser too."

He paused. Yudhistra allowed a tired and bellowed smile pass through his lips. The lips pursed as if they were constrained. The Yaksha noticed it and spoke.

"Raja, your own mother, when she was rearing you thought you were a little unusual in the way you always, even as a kid focused almost un-naturally on being "good"".

He paused and continued, "...and today, you have not just made me wiser, you have also restored to life your 4 dead brothers, by unwinding a past karmic bond that was bothering me. And yet, when I swim into your deep eyes, they seem despondent. How can such a wise man, who does not carry a shred of karmic baggage on him, appear so lost?"

Yudhistra started, "I have to live through my fate."

"And does that bother you Raja?  Do you miss the wealth,  the power, the palaces?"

"No, I dont miss it at all, except, honestly, I sometimes wish Draupadi had it easier."

"...and yet, Raja, you do look forlorn then?What then is the bother?"

"Dear Yaksha, there comes a time in every man's life when he is pulled into a strange fight. This battle is not for a kingdom, or for wealth, or for power. The war is on the inside, and the battlefield is the shadows of one's own mind. Whats at stake is the need to grapple with the very nature of our lives. All of us one day will have to deal with the fundamental question of who we are, and who we ought to be. They are far more perilous than the 18 questions you asked. The internal strife is akin to a hollow vessel cankering and hoping to find the answers in its own loud echo. What the vessel never understands that no matter how the question is posed, the echo will always be just a version of the question."

He paused and added, "....the question will come back appearing as the answer. If  deluded, we shall move onto the next question, and that path is one of righteous self delusion. I hope you never have to see such a day in your life, dear Yaksha, but today in my life - I am the vessel, the question, the answer and the echo."

With a final thoughtful wist he added, "I have become my own nemesis, and slowly that realization dawns. On that day, you really wonder what this battle is all about. When Yama, my dear father will come calling out to me, I will try ask him this - Father, was I am the victor or the vanquished?....and I think I know what his answer will be.  That answer bothers me."

2287 : HSBC's brand line

I love the entire branding of "This is the story of human ambition".

HSBC has gotten some really powerful visuals to go along with the tagline. And its a brand that connects immediately with me. It tells me that HSBC should be my bank.

2286 : We could heroes for just one day

I have said a million times before, and I shall say it again that I don't have too many heroes in my life. But one person, who shall forever remain an inspiration and a real life hero to me is Ayrton Senna.

If you don't know how the edge of genius looks like - you should go to youtube, search for Ayrton Senna Monaco 1988. In this race Senna was leading Prost (Alain) by over 55 seconds (which in F1 parlance is equal to a lifetime).....and yet on a slippery circuit, he pushed on the limits, whilst all others were slowing down.

And the result - he crashed two laps before the end of the race.

Its this madness that made him a real hero. If I had to choose between Niki Lauda and him, it will Senna all the way.

I don't believe in God or heroes, but I do believe in greatness, and Senna was greatness manifested within us mortals.

Take a bow genius.

2285 : In the company of dead poets

Koi Chara nahin by Hafeez Jalandhari - as I read and listen to this poem, I realise what binds the dying poet in me to Hafeez is more about a shared common experience, than our love for words. 
The metaphors in this song are telling.

Koi chara nahi dua ke siwa , koi sunta nahi khuda ke siwa
( I came to a point, where there was no other solace than hope and prayer, I felt no one could understand me anymore other than my own God)

Mujhse kya ho saka wafa ke siwa , mujhe milta bhi kya saza ke siwa
( What could I have offered you, my sweetheart, other than my unruffled loyalty, and what could I have gotten in return, but for unequivocal penance and punishment.)

bar sar-e-saahil-e-muqaam yahan,kaun ubhra hai nakhuda ke siwa
(when I reached that final step along the shores of my life, the only person who kept me company was the dignified boatman)

dil sabhi kuch zubaan par laaya ,ek faqat arz-e-muddat ke siwa
( My honest heart could surface every single one of my emotions onto my tongue, but for that one sentence in which I confessed my undying love for you.)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

2284 : Is the night always this dark?

I am Draupadi, sometimes called Panchali, at some other times Yagnaseni. My names are my identity. But these names were never really mine. Draupadi came from my father Drupad, Panchali because I am came from the land called Panchal, and Yagnaseni because I was born on account of the Yagna that my father sponsored.

I am the Queen of Pandavas, but I am also their wife, and thats my broken identity. I belong to everyone, except me.

I have never been “me”.

Like consider tonight. I don’t want to be alone, but neither do I want to seek our Arjun. I want Arjun to come to me. I want him to take me, than me feeling him.

Speaking of men - Krishna, you are not my Bhakti. I had always wanted that you at least participate in my Swayamvar, but you did not. You reneged. On the last day, you said you will participate - but as the chief guest, not for my hand. My hands had stopped moving that night. I remember gulping down a spoon of salt that night. I had so desperately needed it to keep my blood moving.

I sometimes miss water. I want to be drenched. I want to drip. On a night like this, I wish that the river would consume me, maybe even consummate with me.

Tonight I need a release. I need to wash myself clean. Just like the “other” day. On that day, they had stripped me bare. I had slouched on the floor, a simple loin cloth covering my angry breasts. How they had heaved. How I hated it, that even in that singular moment of disgrace, something in me had also been aroused. Let me admit - I was erect, and yet I can’t ever know what made me feel so. Today - the “only” thing I can remember is the undiluted shame, the opiate of lurid collective opprobrium coursing through me. But…but…but…I also remember a few other things. And the anger. And those eyes. And the jeers. And the humiliation. And the sear. And the wounds. And most importantly, I remember feeling so completely un-clean.

On that day - as we were about to begin, our walk to the forest, with nothing but the clothes on our bodies - I had requested the chambermaid use her bathroom for one time. And then….in that lonely evening….I had taken a bath.

I had taken a soap and scrubbed myself incessantly with fresh neem leaves. For me it had felt like a few minutes, but later Dharmaraja told me it had been close to 2 hrs. No one yet has ever asked me, why I had to clean myself so thoroughly (then). But….but…but….I had to….I did not have a choice. It was a war. I had been wounded. The blood had noisily clotted around me. I had to take a bath. I had to be clean. Actually I needed to come clean.

And today I admit - I have never been pristine again. Tonight is not the night for it.

Tonight as I stare at the dark night, I wonder if there is water on the black rancid moon. Is there a tree that I can pluck fruits off? Is there a someone there who will understand me? Is there a “better version” of me out there?

Is there peace? Is there solitude? Is there silence?

Tonight is not the night. Tonight even the stars are taunting me. And that bloody firefly who fed of my plate yesterday night, even he is glowing with happiness. Tonight is definitely not the night.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

2283 : The binds that set you free

“I have written something about you”, she said with a croaky lisp.

“About me, or for me?"

“About you.”

“Great can I read it please ?”

“No. Not possible.”

“....and....?? that's strange of you, is it not ? Thén why tell me about it.”

“I wanted to be honest. Hence mentioned it.”

“Holy mother of a tottering crankshaft, that's effing convoluted. You write something. About me. Don't want me to read it. But you want to be honest. So you tell me about it.”
He added with a grin, “found a few marbles yday. Wondered who they belonged to. I can now at least guess.”

“If you ever decide to walk away, I shall send it to you. Till then, it's wrapped around my finger."

She whistled as she let her ring finger gleam with its plain elegant nakedness....and then with a posse wasp added, “That way I have simultaneously, both handcuffed and .......set you scot free. Go figure.” Shé came up, pecked on the forehead and walked away.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

2282 : What was there before "time"? (Prologue to the world)

As Lord Brahma was closing the day and each of his tired heads stooped a bit to rest, an ambitious thought re-occurred to him. 

While he had evolved into having 4 heads (5 not counting the one which Shiva cut off), one each to understand each of the 4 vedas….and he indeed believed that he did have a good handle of the vedas, what he needed as help from Vyasa (the “divider” and organizer of the vedas) to also create a guidebook on the human condition.

This “guidebook”, or the need for it, had been niggling at him for over the last 3 months. Eventually he had come to believe while just the vedas would help humans understand the minds and grand design of the Gods, there was also a need for a “guidebook” to help them (humans) wade through the everyday minutiae.

He sent via his emissary, a note to Vyasa, so that a meeting could be arranged in the next few days. And the day did arrive, when Vyasa walked into Brahma’s chambers.

Brahma greeted Vyasa with warm affection of a peer intellectual and after the proverbial niceties, proceeded to elucidate his “need” for the guidebook.

Vyasa pondered for a minute and said “We cannot write rules. Intelligence shall reject rules. We have to explain the frailty of life, and yet highlight the need for values, and this can best be done by an epic story.”

Brahma paused and heard with interest, “….and this story shall be about?......”

Vyasa let the silence be and then cautiously said, “About us, about me, about the Kuru clan, about Vishnu’s detour as Krishna….set in the land of Jaya. We shall call it Jaya and I shall tell the story as it happens with all its failings and grandeur.”
Brahma seemed intrigued, but respected Vyasa’s wisdom completely on these matters.

Vyasa continued
“It shall be about the land of Jaya.
It shall be about the feeling of bhaya (fear)
It shall be about being in laya (order)
It shall be about overcoming maya (charade)
It shall be about knowing the daya (way).”

And then with a big pause he further added,
“This story shall be very long, I will need a scribe. One who shall neither judge me nor the real world characters. One who shall recognize and yet be impartial to the human condition.”

Brahma thought hard and said, “the only person who can write fast and with such wisdom is the intellectually happy Lord Ganesha. I can ask summon him now and ask him if he is willing to help.”

As Vyasa nodded, Brahma sent for Ganesha. The elephant headed Lord happily ambled in, in a few minutes, and was given the context.

Ganesha liked the overall idea, readily acquiesced, but added a few caveats,
“ O Sage, before there were words, there were verses
Before there was this world, there were curses
Before there was a possibility, there were chances
Before there was any movement, there were dances.”

And then added with a flourish,
“For the story to be narrated in truth and bare,
We both will have to work as a synchronized pair,
If you pause and halt as you bring the story to light,
I will too have to stutter and sputter as I write,
And such a story when it is eventually read,
Men will behold and wonder, what really happened, and what parts were figmented in our head,
Hence my request to you, O respected sage,
We write without a rest, and never revisit a page,
When its ready, it should be without a time and age,
For generations, this should be re-enacted on the world’s stage,
As we embark on this documentation of the human condition,
I do want this to be a very honest to God rendition.”

With this litany, Ganesh sat down and began munching on some much needed food. In those brief moments, all three of them looked at each other and smiled. Vyasa sporting the smile of benevolence and happiness, Brahma, the smile of tranqulity and Ganesha, the smile of youthful exuberance.

After the many silent moments, Brahma said,
“The Jaya will indeed be the tale of human greatness,
With you both in charge of this, I feel light and weightless,
For milleniums to come, this shall be the song to sing
In every moment, its truth will be the one to bite and sting,
At every corner, the honesty of this shall ring,
This will be the finality of both duty and beauty – on a prayer and wing”

With these words he whispered a blessing to both Ganesha and Vyasa, and set the wheels of Jaya in motion.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

2281 : The age of the un-necessary convenience

I find these times troubling. The number of times I have looked at an invention and said, "I dont really need it. Makes no difference to my life" is almost disturbing.

Like I look at this new fad of hoverboards and wonder, "Why?", WhoTF needs these and why?

Or I look at my modern smartphone (of which I use very little features) and I wonder....why does my phone come with a proclivity to be connected.

What is this life that we have created for ourselves?
Are those who incessantly checking facebook really happier?

I have avowed to steadfastly simplify my life....and yet its difficult.

You cannot avoid these un-necessary conviniences. Like the button which allows you to open your car's boot. Really? If that a a game changer?

And pray why?

How many of us understand that the true test of a good car is its engineering and the thrill of the untamed horses, and not the gawky buttons that you press and depress?

This post sounds like a rant, and it is one.

I will one day find my place of resting. A palace where there shall be none of the un-necessary conveniences.

2280 : Arjuna's dirge

Oh, my hero born as Abhimanyu, where are you?
I was told - the world has you, and then a few,

Today, as I weep over your mangled face,
With blood clotted over, stopped in its pace,

I remember you as the unborn silent learner, 
Chakravyuh - its tricks, and you were the yearner,

When Subhadhra told me of your charming kicks,
We had both laughed and then smothered with kisses and licks,

Today, this evening, what do I tell your lovely mother,
That you have left this world, for the charm of the other?

They will tell her you were both a hero and a martyr,
Your young cheek is snarled, tell me it was whose spear?

Tell me, who was it - Karna, Drona, Bheeshma, or Duryodhan,
The mighty generals on the other side, on our side just one (you),

When you were a toddler, you once haughtily said,
For you, dad, I will fight and be readily dead,

I had a laughed and stroked your tiny goldirocks,
How I miss those moonlight walks,

You holding and grasping my aged palm,
The little fingers strong, still and yet so warm,

Where have you gone Abhimanyu, there is so much grief tonight,
The sun is gone, but the moon on your face still breathes light,

Come back as a ghost who can do nothing else but talk,
I will gladly take that, anything to get you on my nightly walk,

Son, what kind of a father lives to see his shadow dead,
I have counted, you have 108 wounds through which you have bled,

I will not rest, till I personally get each of those generals to die,
Just like me, I want, their loved ones to cry a goodbye,

So much pain, I wish the earth swallowed me in,
After all this, does it matter if we even win?

Your mother will grieve and she will wail and cry,
Today, I cannot even muster to look into her eye,

When these times are past, and our stories are told,
You son, shall be the role model to behold,

I know you will be the hero and the anchor within this history,
Your skills will be regaled, though Chakravyuh (to you) remained a mystery,

My chest heaves, and I feel a pang of gloat, 
As I know the poets of the future, will make your persona bloat,

But tonight, if I had a choice to make,
I will still take you alive in any form or shape,

Rest in peace, my son, the fields are soaked in your blood,
It will always be an honor to me, that you chose to make yourself in my mud.

2279 : Little birdie has flown away

I have posted on this before. I love this song from Queen, "Jugni"...It has to be the song of the year for the year of 2014/2015.

The lyrics are outstanding. The music is infectious. The harmony is impeccable.

Its the year for the little birdie to fly away, and she now has a theme song.

2278 : The son of my mother

When Tara was first confronted with her dilettante, she looked at Brihaspati (Jupiter), the teacher of (for) the Devas, and her avowed husband - with a mild look of amusement.

She was unsure if she was being chided for having an amorous relationship with Chandra (the moon), or whether she was being censured for dis-respecting the confines of a relationship, or here she was being prepared for a public butchering.

Whatever it was, she did not even once deny that she was passionately in love with Chandra. That infuriated Brihaspati even more.

It was only when a few days later, that Brihaspati made his moves on her and she resisted, did the other pressing matter come to light.

"Why are you resisting?" Brihaspati asked with a tone of mild irritation.

"I cant do it with you now.", was her mild and only answer.

"Is this the time of the month?"


"But wait a minute....", he said, as he calculated again, "isnt it the time of the month?"


"What does a 'No' mean? It is, I am keep my time precisely around the Sun, and know exactly when it is your time. I don't miss the beat ever.”

"You are right. It is indeed my time, and yet it is not the time."

With a long pause, she added, ”I am pregnant, and a tiny soul is wrestling within me."

"Am I the father, or is it he?"

She remained mum on that question, and instead answered in a roundabout manner,
"I am the mother, and I refuse to divulge the name of the father. As for the name, he needs neither of you, and I shall give him mine. As for the love, he needs it from both of you. I want him to have three parents."

"Tara, this is un-reasonable, I need to know, and need to know now, who is the father?"

"All the father does is release the seeds. The mother toils for the soul to become a child. Why should even I be bothered on who is the father?"

Brihaspati was aghast, certainly not amused, and soon enough this matter reached the doors of Indra, the Lord of the Devas.

Indra called Chandra, Tara and Brihaspati for a 3 way dialogue.  He started by asking Tara,
"Dear daughter, I know that you have a child within you. Who is the father, we would like to know."

She answered, "Lord, both the fathers are present here. Why should the mother answer this? Would they not know within themselves, who has sown the seeds?"

"Tara, you are being difficult, tell us. Its important we all know the truth."

"Lord, except for the child and me, no one else ever needs to know the truth. The child has not asked yet, and when he does, I shall tell him what I know.”

Indra then nudged the child within and spoke through him, almost a la like a ventriloquist. The child asked "Mother Tara, who is really my father?"

Tara figured the trick that Indra had played on her, and considered for a moment whether she should answer in public, or whether she should stick to silence. After a minute of considered options, she spoke in verses,

"Dear Child, I am pregnant with you all should know this now,
Carrying the seeds of Chandra within me, and his passionate love,

I adore him (Chandra) and his love for me,
What will it take, for the world to just let us be?"

Indra was shocked, but with practiced composure he asked,
"And Tara dearest, why did you choose Chandra over your burly husband Brihaspati".

She again chose to answer in verses,

"Chandra is tepid and cool like the milk adorned rice,
He (Brihaspati) on the other hand is angry and huge with red blooded eyes,

On the nightly bed, Chandra just lets me be,
Its never about him, its always about we,

With Him (Brihaspati) he is the biggest and brightest as all of you can tell,
I can never ever be his real consort and his equal.”

Indra looked at Briahspati and asked “Is it true, O wise one, that you have never treated her like a partner?”

All He did was look downcast, and in that silence there was an implicit answer.

And then Indra moved his gaze to Chandra, who looked weak and cornered, and yet spoke,
“She has always been more equal than me. 
She is the one who lends my composure some fire. 
She is the one who balances out the flame of my desire.”

As the assembled audience gazed at all 3 of them, Briahspati, seething with anger announced,
“This son of Tara, who belongs to no one, will also belong to no gender. 
He shall be neither here nor there. 
He shall be laughed upon even by the fools of everywhere.”

The Devas and Indra were shocked. How could their teacher, lose his cool and curse a little innocent child.

Indra jumped in and said (in verses)
“Brihaspati, this child shall be yours and shall carry your name,
If he is indeed cursed, then you shall too carry the shame,

He shall be named Budh (Mercury) and will always be the God of wealth,
I wish him knowledge, a happy childhood and years of health,

Brihaspati, from today you shall be responsible for this child,
Never mind, that you cannot forgive Tara for being so wild.”

Finally, after a pause, Indra asked Tara,
“O Goddess, where would you rather be, with Brihaspti or with Chandra?”

She answered in verses,
“I love Chandra for his passionate ways,
With him, I have realized some of my happiest days,

Between the burly husband and the tender calm,
I choose Chandra for being the soothing balm,

If in the future there are questions about me being chaste,
I will repeat and say, Chandra was a matter of good taste,

And if ever, the world forces me to re-enter Briahspati’s house,
That shall signal the end, I shall light my own douse,

For years to come, I want the world to say,
Tara chose the Moon, it was her choice to stay,

I still choose the Moon, because he has flamed my lust,
Its never physical (she said looking at Briahspati), its always a matter of safety and trust,

Years later, when we all are gone for long,
I want the world to remember, in these matters the heart is never ever wrong.”