Saturday, December 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

2368 : Elizabeth Hardwick on travel

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

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2367 : The Haiku of becoming one

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2365 : High on Dopamine

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

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

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

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

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

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

2364 : This too shall pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the errors shall repeat themselves, ad nauseam.

2363 : Jaag ke Kaati

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then finally, we have Dimple and Vinod Khanna.

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

2362 : Pausomatic....

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

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

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

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

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

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

2361 : Men who pause...

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

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

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

2360 : Hulchul by super singer Ravindra Upadhay

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

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

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

Take a bow!!

2359 : Its movie time

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

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

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

2358 : Mitwa from Kabhi Alvida na Kehna

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

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

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

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

2357 : Chingari Koi Bhadke - Gulzar's genius

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

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

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

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

2356 : Mozart No. 41

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

Our memories are strange hooks, na?

2355 : Margazhi Poove from May Madham

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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

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

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


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

2353 : Pooja Sachdeva - Haan main characterless hoon !!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2352 : You have won Bronze

Was reading this link with interest.

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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2351 : 3 children complete our palms

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

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

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

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

I think that breaks the ice. She beams.

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

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

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

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

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

2350 : The 7th horse of the 7th Sun

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


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

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

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

From ....

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

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

Friday, December 08, 2017

2349 : I do weed

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


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

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

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

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

2348 : Roaches

Picture this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2347 : On your dying away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2346 : Echoes

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

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

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

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

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

2345 : The Buddha who smokes

I am half a Buddhist. Or at least I aspire to be one. And while at Vietnam, it looked like over 50% of the country was practicing Buddhists.

I did not have much time, given it was a friend’s wedding that I had come down to attend...and it was a two day packed affair. And yet the evening just before my flight I managed to smuggle two hours for a quick walk across the once Indo-China nation.

I could not help native the proliferation of “Laughing Buddhas”, other Feng Shui symbols all over the place.

Almost every shop (including Coffee & Beans...yes the one owned by Coca-Cola had some very visible Buddhist symbols). And at most shops had an incense altar was a foreword to the symbols. Of course, the incense was not burning anymore....looked like it was a more of a morning thing.

And then....then.....I noticed something unusual. At one of the shops I saw some cigarette stubs in the ashes...and I politely slighted it...assuming that the “stubs” had found themselves there mistakenly.

And then....then.....:-)
I saw them in many shops. And later at a pagoda too.

I was mesmerized. Did the Buddha in Vietnam smoke? He seemed to be at least - unless I was missing some symbolism here.

How cool does a God have to be, for his fans to offer him a smoke? Now - I, even more, want to be a Buddhist. Makes sense na?

2344 : Serious Circus

On a recent trip to Vietnam some months ago, I had a strange experience. Picture this.
So I land at the airport and I am figuring my way out of the airport, onwards to meet the friend (who I had announced to with typical bravado that I don't need her help in picking me up...of course I am a global traveler!! Ha ha)

I finally walked up to the Airport Information Desk and want to ask them “where can I get a typical pay-as-you-go cab”....but...I have to wait my turn.

There is a fellow desi ahead of me. From his accent, he is in all probability a “gujju”, and he is asking the information desk - where can I get a “circus” ATM.

Now for folks who have never visited Vietnam - here is the dope - ask folks an English Question in slow, 1 word per second kind of speed, and in most cases, you will still not be understood by the other person. I think its the way desis speak with an accent that I presume does them in.

I am usually not hassled by having to wait. My view is, it is what it is. So I politely stand behind....and the conversation proceeds.

So the poor native is asking - what “circus”?
Gujju boy is going - “Circus ATM????”

I am spaced out, my brain is not processing. But hearing the word “Circus” incessantly I am now wondering - what is being spoken here.

A few repeated chats later, the gujju boy removes his wallet and removes a card and flashes the symbol to the “info desk”.

Ah...that’s when I get it. Like a flash the epiphany hits me...he is referring to the “Cirrus” image.

And yet...he continues to say “see”, “see”...”circus ATM???”.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2343 : Reality Distortion Fields (RDF)

More on from the previous post. The more I speak to my ecosystem and the world around me....I am beginning to see almost all of us live our lives cocooned within what I call as our RDF (Reality Distortion Fields).

And I mean all of us. Including me.

The more I observe the more I am fascinated at how warped these RDFs are....and how powerful they are. All of us believe in them.

Of course, if you believe in Buddhism, then reality in itself is distorted. Which means there is no reality. It's just a construction of our minds.

What I refer to "reality" in my RDF theory is generally accepted "a red color Ferrari" is a car. Now whether it is a good car, a terrible car, a fast car, an overpriced car...and so on...that's where RDF kicks in.

While this might all sound amusing and funny....observe others with a dispassionate lens, in your chats and engagement with them. In almost every case, you shall see what I am saying.

We all (including me) live in our own carefully constructed RDFs. And these contribute to fun outcomes - like I believe I am thin (though I am overweight), I believe I am smarter than the rest because I studied at Ivy league, I believe that I am faster than the rest because I just believe it :-), I believe that I am more analytical and guess what...I am always logical...even when I believe wholeheartedly in the Loch Ness monster...............get the drift? Get the joke.

This joke is not on us. It is "us".

2342 : The sterile ball of assumptions

Picture this. So the son hurts his friend of the same age yesterday, albeit completely inadvertently. She falls on her head, and the shocks send a few spasms within her nose. The sensitive tissue ruptures and she bleeds. The tissue being subcutaneous the bleeding is quite a bit and gory.

And then the fallout starts.

We try and tell the young kid that he should be more careful. The stupid assumption we make is by telling someone some pedantic jackshit, we shall get him/her to be better. ("Do as I say, but never do as I do" la la).

And then, we wheel the little girl into ER. The assumption we make is, if there is something dangerous, the docs will cover for it. Guess what the docs say, the world could end in the next 12 hrs, so "open your wallet", pay for a night of ICU. Sounds like mindfuck, right?

In all of this, I truly wonder - how much I have gone away from reality.  I have now started assuming that pedantic shit works, and on the other hand, I have replaced "responsibility" with "faith" - albeit faith in a system and set of people - who are far from being evolved themselves.

As I write this - my wife tells me to "shut up", she thinks it's easy to judge, castigate and do living room pontification. I hear her, and my mind goes, Buddha was right, breaking illusions is the most difficult, because our mind(s) don't want to know what they don't know.

We like make believe and we like to believe what we make.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

2341 : On the passing away

Today on my flight, I slept off waiting for the flight (which was 3 hrs late) to take off. I woke up a few mins later...sweating and numb. I knew that strange feeling.

Yes, I felt as if I was about to pass out. I needed water urgently. I glanced around - opened my mouth to speak...could not get a word out. Not a sound. Looked the person next to me. He was snoring away too.

I could feel the familiar chaos of thoughts kicking into overdrive. It always happens before passing out. That panic which sets in just before claustrophobia or passing out is immensely scary.

Buddhists say - this is a very mild version (very very very very mild version diluted to a 1ppm almost !!) of what happens when we die. The loss of consciousness and it breaks off from the 5 embodiments that tie it to our bodies, happens along a route which is exactly along the lines of passing out...just a million times more potent.

If that is correct. I know I am not going to face death bravely. And like the Buddhists predict because I could not stand up (figuratively) to the scares of the dissolution process, I will be condemned to be caught in the cycle of samsara, to be born again within 49 days....(yes that’s what they say...almost)

And I will, of course, we condemned to repeat the errors of my previous lives.

I should start meditating now. It’s never too late.

2340 : For the love of Lawrence

I have written about this before. As I am reading more and more about the “secret life” of trees....what I am learning, of course, shocks my blasé assumptions.

More importantly, I remember, about someone called Lawrence, who we used to call in School as “Lawrence sir”.

He used to teach us basic economics in classes 8 to 10, basic woodwork in classes 5 to 7.

I owe my interest in economics and carpentry to him. Unabashedly admit to that.

Anyone else who studies in SJBHS (St. John the Baptist High School, Thane, Talao Pani) the 80s? Do you recall “Lawerence Sir”.

He also used to conduct UN classes....something I had taken so that I could spend another 3 hrs away from home (ahem!! More on that later). This was post-school from 2 to 3.30pm

In one of those classes, I remember he came in very late. We being we (as in kids) we ran amok in the classroom. When he finally came in, he saw us completely wasting our time and possibly wasting ourselves.

I don’t remember how...but his pedantic diatribe against us, quickly veered into how plants lived.

And his key points were
1) All plants talk to each other all the time.
2) You hurt one plant and every plant in the universe (of the same species) immediately sees you as a threat.
3) Plants can smell.
4) Plants can also talk though we cannot hear them.

#4 is wrong...but on all others, he was presciently right....30 years ago....that’s amazing...and he was just a small-time teacher in a small time public school.

He also continued and told us that the same applies to dogs/animals. You hurt one dog and every dog in the world will be scared of you. You are afraid of one dog and every dog in the world knows he can scare you.

I have not read anything like that yet....but Derrick Jenssen’s readings are remarkably close. (Look him will be knocked by what you learn).

So in conclusion....looks Lawrence was remarkably right. Genius in small-town clothing? Anyone?

2339 : Sexually transmitted disease

I liked this quote from R.D Laing. I should definitely thank a friend for pointing me to this one.

Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is 100%.

Friday, November 03, 2017

2338 : Death

Death is a strange beast. Like Maynard Keynes would have said, its the only certainty in our lives....and yet we all struggle with it, at least I most definitely do.

Every time it comes knocking (like it did today), a part of me still violently jolts up, as if I was in the presence of a un-welcome perpetrator.


The Buddhist in me also considers Death as our best friend. (Notice how "beast" become "best")....

We can never be enough prepared for it because we never look at it as a constant partner in our life. We don't think of Death as a latent end point....e.g. when you cook rice, the rice knows (or I hope it knows) that its final endpoint is consumption by us. It knew that all along (In fact I am sure the biochemical expert residing in the plant, knew very well what it was designing the seed/grain of rice be chewed by make us sow more and more rice across the earthland.....Read Michael Pollan to realize that while you believe that you killed a weed and planted the apple....its the apple tree that is subtly manipulating you all the time....plants are masters at getting their way.... they are indeed God's Alchemists!!)
But...coming back...the rice knew that it was meant for me....similar does every little breath of life in me know that it is finally meant for "ashes to ashes, dust to dust"?

Death must be out in the open. English as a language renders death sterile with its euphemisms (like passed away, or "ashes to ashes")....and that gives the state of our minds away.

Does language impact the way we think? Of course. Open for a debate on it!!


Today death still came when I was unprepared. It came through the door...but we would like to believe it came shrouded and wrapped. It came like a haughty village roughie, but I would like to believe it came stealthily. It came accompanied by an entire party, but I would like to believe it came unannounced.

The futility of this cat and mouse sometimes amuses me.

The next time I see The Lord on the Buffalo.....I do intend to tell him a warm heartfelt "hi" and offer him "green coffee" so that he can lose some weight :-)

Till then....

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

2337 : War always hurts

I was seeing something on (which I believe is a good place for positive and authentic journalism).

This one was about #MeToo, a campaign on which I am neutral (more on that later).

The Buddhist in me has always maintained that "a war is a war is a war"...which means to the person in Syria or to a person trapped in abuse, the "immediate war" is their entire world. The "war" engulfs their whole being, entrapping their voice and more often than not disquieting their personal conscience forever.

Its impossible to measure what a "war" means to each of us. For some of us Lepidopterophobia (fear of butterflies), it's the butterflies or moths that ignite that trigger for war. For all of us, a real war, or abuse is always a "war".

My point being...a "war" is personal. Always.

Even broad political battles like Gaza or Kashmir are personal. Its this of intimacy that leads simple uncomplicated human beings to fight on either side and kill other equally uncomplicated human beings.

As I heard Afreen (see here), I was in awe of her courage and at the same time personally shamed. My wars are nothing in relation to the wars in the open out there. She is brave, she is strong and more importantly, she has survived a war. She deserves our love, respect, and a simple heartfelt bow.

Watch her as she speaks. Chaste, poetic Urdu, her eyes pausing every now and then to quiver with disgust, her body trembling as it relives the "war", her call to her "dad" both imploring at the same time impeaching.

She is right. We have killed her and buried a large part of her in that room. And the dead have no "rights" to escape a war. They are the collateral scarecrows that we use to remind others of minefields, at the same time they are also trophies at the altar. RIP Afreen.

He folded his fear into a perfect rose. He held it out in the palm of his hand. She took it from him and put it in her hair.
- Arundhati Roy

Monday, October 30, 2017

2336 : Kashmir

For the record, I am apolitical. I believe I don't know enough about most issues (due to lack of interest!!) to lean on any side.

On Kashmir too I am apolitical. But....

I have now known a few personal stories. These are stories of personal war. These are simple people like you, me and our children. All these folks want is peace and continuity. They would prefer normalcy to any kind of legitimacy.

The folks I know work within urban jobs (startups, technology) and while the impact they feel on their lives is just as much as others - their response is not of violence or even indignation.

Their response is in fact full of....."fatigue".

They want peace, and they want to continue with their lives. Watch this video link. It should remind all of us, of our own frailty, of our own failings, and of course of the demons hidden within each of our crevices.

Kashmir is more and more resembling Tibet. War ravaged and tired. A silent prayer for its peace.

Monday, October 23, 2017

2335 : Listen and be enthralled...

I never thought I would reach a day where I would rate a female singer more than Tai (Kishori Amonkar)...but listen to Ashwini Bhide sing this Kabir Bhajan....

Its divine.
Its ethereal. I have heard this almost 100 times on repeat. The layers in this song keep revealing themselves.

Listen. Magic. Here.

2334 : Chasing the sun

I gave up the TV about 8 years ago.

Today as I sit down in a hotel room and catch "chasing the sun" on Nat Geo People I realize what I am missing. and formula 1.

As you catch this don't miss the inimitable Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam fame) singing "Hard Sun"....It's fab.

And while you are it....listen to him sing "All along the watchtower".....He is fab at the Jimi Hendrix classic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2333 : Tai singing Adana Malhar

I have changed my lifestyle and am slowly introducing music back into my work life. And today as I listening Tai (Kishori Amonkar) sing Adana Malhar (one of my favorite renditions), I am reminded of the humility that I need to recognize everyday greatness, and am also observing how much peace comes in by just listening.

Also as I was listening to this - it occured to me that "Jhanak Jhanak Payal"from the V shantaram classic should be based on this, and yes indeed it is.  (though wiki says it is adana asavari and I am sure that is correct).

Take a bow dear Tai. You make me want to believe in a higher power.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2332 : Es fallt mir ein

On a day like today, it just occurred to me...:-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

2331 : RIP : Tai, finally, take the silence you always wanted....

I am fond of classical music, but in a non-classical way. I cannot distinguish the 3000 odd ragas, except for the more popular ones. But someone say, Todi, and to me it has to be only Kishori Tai.

Yes, Kishori Amonkar passed away yesterday. A silent prayer for peace. She was not just blessed, she made sure the world around her was blessed with her music.

In parts, I loved her, also because she was never afraid of her solitude. She made it her mark to wear her silence on her sleeve, except while singing of course.

In my humble desolation - I can relate to that feeling, my eternal need for a little more silence. Kishori Tai/Didi/Devi whatever - rest in peace. The world is a little less beautiful today. I as a human being will miss ya. Take a heartfelt bow.

A good read.

Another fascinating read : The silence of Kishori Amonkar.

This image from Youtube will remain one of my fondest pictures. The photographer in me loves it.

From Wikipedia I loved these two quotes

She credits her mother with using this approach to teach her, noting, "You have to walk and run on your own. The guru gives you strength to be able to do that. If you don’t, then you remain ordinary. My mother made sure I wasn’t ordinary.”[5] She noted that training is an ongoing process, and stated in an interview that she often listened to her own recorded performances to analyse and improve her technique.[5]
Amonkar has emphasized emotion and spirituality as essential parts of her singing, stating that "To me it (music) is a dialogue with the divine, this intense focused communication with the ultimate other."[10] She has often spoken of music as an act of sublimation, noting that it is the sadhana (medium) to attain the sadhya(destination).[11]


Responding to these comments, Amonkar has stated that this reputation perhaps derives from her insistence that performers be treated respectfully, and to the fact that she chooses to spend time before her concerts in solitude and preparation instead of socializing with fellow musicians. Amonkar has stated, "I never play to the gallery. The audience cannot disturb the loneliness of an artiste."[5]

Friday, March 31, 2017

2330 : Dalai Lama is my leader of choice

Spiritual or otherwise. And if you need a good reason....see this image. He is rubbing nose with the Australian Cricket Captain (Steve Smith) so that Steve can overcome his sleep issues.

Now tell me one other leader in this world who would be so much fun.

HH Dalai Lama the 14th - take a bow. Heartfelt.

Photo comes the

2329 : Had a heart stopping moment

Picture this.
Two weeks ago, I am driving on my little bikey near Mulund, and I reach a cross-junction (the fortis junction) where all traffic is paused.

I wait for 60 seconds. Its 11 in the morning and sweltering within the helmet. I then switch off the engine and then remove the helmet (and balaclava) and do the Saif Ali hair swagger :-) (you know the rapid swagger which gets rid of sweat drops)...

I look around. Its matrix like, and all traffic from all roads into the junction is dead. There are cops all over. They are shooing away even essentially all stop dead.

And the fking mumbaiker in me goes "Is this Delhi?", "which politico is it now?".

Then Zen awareness kicks in...and I say...nevermind. Breathe. I begin looking around and enjoying the pause. Another 3 odd minutes pass.

Then the driver from the neighboring rickshaw (which is a goods rickshaw) gets down...walks around and then comes back.

My roving eyes see him get into the driver's seat. Another minute, and then my eyes meet his. He too is looking my direction and he is smiling. I am polite. I smile back and shake my head almost saying " life is what it is"....and he finds my attention on him and speaks....and this is what he says in Hindi....

"Sir, Heart hain...." (Sir, its a heart!!).

I look him strangely. I honestly don't get the context. He can see I am perplexed. He says again..."Sir, heart hain, heart hain....", and he is smiling as he is talking.

And believe me, I am so thoroughly confused. So I politely tell him, "bhaisaheb, nahin samjha" (Dear brother, I did not get you at all!!).

And he smiles even broader and he says with excitement, "Sir, Heart....Heart....Dil...Dil....Dil ko transport kar rahein hain hospital mein." (Sir, they are getting a heart into the hospital).

I finally get it - this blockade is to get a heart into fortis for a transplant - some kind of human emergency - and I beam into a giant smile too, and tell him spontaneously "Phir tho yeh banta hain....:-)" (Then bloody all this is all so worth it :-)).

And in that moment, my stress (if any) is all gone. I look up to the Sun (and thank him as a proxy to the universe).

This is what life was always supposed to be. The world stops for a beating heart. The world should stop for another's life. The buzz should pause and let it all soak in.

Mumbai (or Bombay) take a bow. Dear Cops, take a bow. Fortis, take a bow. And the person who died for the heart to be available, you are the Buddha. The Buddha who paused all traffic and life for a few minutes at a busy city.

In that moment, I knew I had witnessed the seas parting. A miracle had occurred in my presence. I am blessed.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

2328 : Read 2/2017 Stefan Zweig' Chess

Finished my 9th book of 2017, but just posting the second of those. More coming along.
Read Stefan Zweig's Chess - its a haunting novella - written in the unhurried build up style of the pre-current generation.

On a scale of linguistic genius its probably a 5/10 given its a translation.
On the scale of haunting, it rates right up with Kafka' metamorphosis. Gregor Samsa all over again.

Read it, overall a 8/10 read in my reco list. I will defi read it again many times over in my life.
Smallish read about 85 pages. So you should finish this in one sitting.

PS : 7 more reads already done...updates coming soon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

2327 : One for these times....

Philip K. Dick, The Divine Invasion, 1981

“What a tragic realm this is, he reflected. Those down here are prisoners, and the ultimate tragedy is that they don’t know it; they think they are free because they have never been free, and do not understand what it means.”

Sunday, February 05, 2017

2326 : Read 1/2017 : Amusing ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

This is my second read of the book. The primary premise of this book being Postman argues that if we don't understand television and social technologies well, they will eventually become tools of amusement and entertainment - and less and less focussed on "value".

Fascinating read. I must admit this book has always had a deep influence in my life. Being away from Facebook, Television, Twitter and the social dance for over 7 years now - I think I have internalized the being of Postman.

On a scale of 10 - I would rate it 10.

On a scale of insight I would rate it 10 on 10 again. Completely changed my way of being.

My second read was just as enjoyable as the first (which was many years ago).

Grab it. Read it. A definite must read.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

2325 : How have I been?

I have not written in recent times.
You ask me, how have I been?

I have realized that there is a lot of truth in Rushide's words. I have posted this twice already, but today I have seen more truth in this - than I ever saw.

Older Post

For the record, today I am the whore. I am the antiquated peddler of dreams and lust, and the bloody realization that the market has moved just passed me by in the stream.

The fire in the kitchen burns, but the oven is not hot. Pray Bullah, tell me - what is wrong?

Baal said, "I've finished. Do what you want."
So he was sentenced to be beheaded, within the hour, and as soldiers manhandled him out of the tent towards the killing ground, he shouted over his shoulder: "Whores and writers, Mahound. We are the people you can't forgive."
Mahound replied, "Writers and whores. I see no difference here."

2324 : Anginat Sapney from Humorously Yours (Vaibhav Bundhoo)

The more I listen to this song, the more I seem to like this.
It's happily melancholic (if there is such a term), and the lyrics just ring so true. You, I and Us  - all of us can relate to it.

Life is just a journey. It's our dreams that make it lovelier.

Listen and be charmed.

2323 : Where have you been?

She asked, "Where the fish have you been?"...."Idiot,  I was not even sure whether you were still alive?"...."Write, sometimes. Just once to let me know you still exist."

I looked at her and mumbled a half-meant apology. Then I went silent again.

A good 20 seconds later she said "Won't talk? Don't talk? Can't talk?".

I was numb, unable to answer, and yet, a few seconds later (swear this happened), the bars of the rhyme of the jukebox switch to the next song and play Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence.

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me

Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable

In her exasperation, she does not listen to the words, till I pantomime the jukebox to her....finally a good many seconds later, she smiles a tired "give up" look.

The universe is strange, but its timing is rarely wrong.