Sunday, May 31, 2020

2833 : Whom do I want to write like? (on fiction I mean)

When I was younger, I could not move away from the magic of Salman Rushdie. He held a unputdownable sway on my sense.

Then I slowly came to see Miss Arundhati Roy as joy too. The laborious process of everyday seen through eyes of the one being squished. 

Then Milan Kundera showed me that poetry is everyday. And I still adore almost every book he has written. I have learnt so much of my life from Kundera.

Coetzee came along, showed me that to be beautiful, you need economy, not necessarily poetry alone. You need to cut sharp and incisive.

Finally Miss Harvey (Samantha Harvey) came along and showed me that there is meaning in our daily tribulations.

Five of my favorite authors. I could read anything they write. Anytime.

All images from Wikipedia or nytimes.

2832 : What constitutes peace?

JM Coetzee - a soothing reprieve for times like these.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

2831 : John Coltrane and the Jazzy world

I have been listening to so much Jazz in these lockdown times. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, The Soul Jazz Orchestra, The Dynamics....and the list goes on.

I am addicted to Jazz.

My new lockdown love.

I seem to find meaning in the chaos of Jazz.

2830 : The personal travails

Speaking of complexity (continuing from the previous post), the dynamic in our families (or friends or close friends) sometimes mimics the isolation (or sense of estrangeness) that one might feel in society too.

Even at our homes, sometimes it impossible to agree on basic things. Like my mom will walk around with camphor water (because it will help fight covid) - and because its blessed by the lord.

And I of course, don't disrespect my mom, but always the thought crosses my mind, how much time, just like governments and leaders, we spend on mindless symbolism. 

Like we touch our children to socialise, weddings, functions and its such a royal fcukshop.

Both this and the previous post sound like some sort of high trip.

But I am truly worried about how inefficient modern life is, especially in thought and alignment.

2829 : Disenfranchised by the leadership

In any democratic setup, there is always the risk, that a certain faction of the populace, will feel as if they are being obscured. Bound to happen, right?

What happens, if the dis-enhancement is so high, that one feels that she/he has to resort to either violence or to completely give up and withdraw.

Those are the tumultuous dystopian times that we are approaching.

As I see my own nation - ravaged and broken down by a muddled response to COVID, as I see America burning on a pyre, as I see China slowly and stealthily keep its unwavering focus.....the one question that nags at me is - when did the leader become larger than the lumpen?

Is this a natural fall out of democracy? It can't be of capitalism, because we have seen the same rundown in socialist and communist regimes.

What should of checks and balances does any leadership require so that it does not trip itself?

The world is going off-key, running off the rails, and becoming unhinged. 

Living and navigating around - should not be such a dystopian complexity.

In times like this, I genuinely feel a little despondent.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

2828 : Cooper vs Cooper (Part Deux)

Refer to my earlier post at

So Miss Cooper issued an apology yesterday and the key part of her apology (in bold) was "I am not a racist".

And I truly believe that is possible.

"So you are telling me, she is not a racist, but thinks like this?"

Let me explain with a personal story.

This was a couple of months ago. We were directed onto the wrong side of the road - by a BMC sign that said the "correct" side was closed for maintenance. As we drove cautiously along this wrong side (it was a dark night), a car from the opposite direction (and hence on their "correct" side), came in at full speed and screeched as it approached yes. The driver was visibly and understandably upset. He thought I was wrong, and I can't blame him for that.

And then I did the unthinkable. Let me explain. I cuss a lot, but never at a person. Never ever have I told a person to eff off, or have told another person that he/she is an arsehole. Get it? I cuss at general inanimate things. Like I will say "weather is effed up". Get the drift?

On that dark night though - in that brief moment of madness, I raised a middle finger and screamt into the open air "fuck you!!". There were 3 other people in the car, and they could not believe it was me.

And honestly for a couple of hours and days post that, I felt miserable.

But coming back to Ms Cooper, just like she says she is not a "racist", I am not a "cusser". Yet who would believe either of us. 

All my Buddhist values went down the drain in that single moment.

The point I am making - sometimes, a single moment of madness, of fury can make you do things which your own values abhor. Does that make the act less wrong? No.
But, should we be allowed to mourn our own losses, and recoup our own grace. I think yes. 
I was luckier than Ms Cooper. I was only judged by 3 friends in the car, and not 20MM twitteratis.

End of Post. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

2827 : Cooper vs Cooper

If you have missed this, then this happened over the weekend....

It's essentially a white woman faking (an assault) and trying to put down a black American to a stereotype (that they attack whites or women). The video is very incriminating, and the woman is completely at fault (both her and the guy's name are Cooper and hence the title of the post).

When you look at the video, few things stand out:
1. Racism is rampant.
2. People using racism to drive home a stereotype (a stereotype itself is a form of racism :-)) is rampant too.
3. The ease with which the girl/woman pulls off - what is essentially a massive slur (ethnic or otherwise).

So far with me?

Yes, she is wrong, she is trapped on video, and she is damned. Thats beyond reproach. But.......

Now let's approach this like Schrodinger's cat.....

Option 1:
She is wrong (and we know that), but shouldn't we not allow her time and space to feel penitent, to grow up personally and spiritually. By now, she knows she is wrong too. 
Where is the space, compassion or energy that we are providing her with to grow or improve?
Will Franklin Templeton firing her make her a better individual?
Why should her 6 year old (just making that up), pay a price for her mother's gaffe? If her mother is fired, her (the daughter's) lifestyle will suffer.
After this public trial and outrage, will our lady get another job?

Option 2:

In an alternate universe, imagine the male Cooper had not recorded our lady. But the interaction is exactly the same, as we know what actually happened.
In that case, would the lady Cooper still feel penitent?
Would she instead press charges of assault against the male Cooper?
And now we just don't have injustice, but male Cooper also loses his job, and now his 6 year old suffers.
Also he won't get a job now.....

There is an Option 3 in my universe - they meet, hug, drop the indignation (on both sides)....and become best friends for life. Mr.  Cooper issues a public forgiveness for Ms Cooper. Ms Cooper is truly penitent, and eventually the world is much much better place.

Now do you see - why I often wonder why this world is so sub-optimal ? My friend would say, the second law of thermodynamics at work.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

2826 : Music and our pattern recognition

I often get into debates (or discussions) with my friends on how music is nothing but a feed for our voraciously hungry pattern hungry brains.

And I often use the example - Listen to "Saagar Jaise Ankhonwali" by R.D Burman from Saagar.
I tell this to my American friends who know nothing of Hindi at all.

After 3 listens, they fall in love with this ear worm, and can never get over it.

Try it.

Friday, May 22, 2020

2825 : It takes a village to fcuk it up

On days like today, I often wonder if the modern structure of urban life with small houses, cramped up personal spaces, too many shared family goals, too many expectations from each other, the mixing up of one vs the other - isn't this is what is fcuking us up so completely.

Life was never meant to be this. This modern race (literally as well as figuratively) has definitely gotten something very wrong - about relationships, about food, about personal space. 

Dejected and disappointed me. Truly broken (in a philosophical sense!!)

2824 : Jazz References in The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

The book is full of jazz references....Joni Mitchell's Blue and John Coltrane.
Either the author is seeped in good taste, or knows someone who does :-).

Loving it.

2823 : Paatal Lok is so bleddy well written (and so damn addictive)

I must be the last man posting on this, but I loved Paatal Lok. Almost totally. The writing is so real, so gritty, so raw.

And the actors - almost all of them are so goose pimplish.

This one debuts right near the top on my all time favorite list. 

In terms of scale, its 30x better than good cinema and probably 100x better than regular inane drivel.

Go watch it. If this writing was available in a book, I would read it again and again.

2822 : David Bowie's Lets Dance (Jazz Interpretation by M Ward)

I believe David Bowie as a song writer was hugely under-rated. I am listening to his song after many months....and not his original (which I like too!) but a cover by M Ward.

Listen and be heartbroken. 

I love this para, forever it will remain one of the most soothing love songs I have ever hard.

If you say run
I'll run with you
And if you say hide
We'll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall into my arms
And tremble like a flower

2821 : The Family Man

I watched the family man (Manoj Bajpai) on Amazon Prime.

I must say, more than anyone else - I loved it everytime Priyamani and the kids came on the screen. Strange you watch an action flick for the side jobs.

Priyamani is a revelation with her nuanced acting. And the kids are so how I wish my kids turn out to be.

A definite watch. Far less gripping than a Fauda or a Patal Lok or a Delhi Crime.....but still worth a watch. It definitely does not grip your insides like a Fauda does. This is more the Bosch territory.

Kashmir is beautiful.
My heart truly bleeds for that state and its people.
Two nations have ripped its heart out. I know its easy to be a living room lament, but really heartbroken. (Remember I just finished Madhuri Vijay's book)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

2820 : Wise men say.....Haley Reinhart singing "Cant help falling in love"

Listening to a Jazz singer (Haley Reinhart) sing the eternal classic "Cant help falling in love" is just midnight magic. Elvis be blessed, and so should UB40 :-)

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you?

Monday, May 18, 2020

2819 : The contradiction of fascists (sounds appropriate to me)

Susan Sontag wrote, “They (Fascist aesthetics) exalt two seemingly opposite states – egomania and servitude. It glorifies surrender”

Sunday, May 17, 2020

2818 : Preppers

The "term" prepper is used for the more paranoid amongst us who prepare for a contingency (usually a large one like a full-blown pandemic), and then have the ability to deal with this contingency.

The whole premise is that governments and society (and communities) are not best able to comprehend and hence prepare for the upcoming apocalypse. 

Most "preppers" by their own definition, usually will prioritize their own survival over a collective that does not understand their "priorities" or "point of view". 

And that is when I begin to wonder?

How much differently should a prepper be wired as compared to me or Jane Doe. 

How can a regular human being be driven enough to believe he is going to beat the eventual outcome (death) - cybernetics be damned :-). (Remember AI and its winters.....Cybernetics (and its lack of thaw) will last much longer....consider it like the million-year-old glaciers)

I mean when we lose the sense of the meaning and purpose (or lack of it) around our lives, we can prep as much as we want, but it does not take the gameplay further. Which means it only adds entropy into the world.

When I read of billionaires buying 9000-acre ranches (like Bezos or Zuckerberg) or Peter Theil having a 200 acre isolated land in NZ - all for the purpose of "prepping".

This damn "ego" of ours. This "me" can beat "death" is perplexing and bizarre.

There is only one final outcome. A cold dark lightless universe with vast swathes of empty space.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

2817 : You are allowed to hate me

"You are not me", she told me. "What I am, what I say and do and thank, none of it is your responsibility. You're allowed to do something else, be someone else. You're allowed to hate me."

"I don't hate you,", I mumbled.

"No," she said gravely. "Not yet, but you will.". Then she gave me a long tight hug.

From Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

2816 : Shape of our desires

When we stood together on the porch, and I heard this breath quicken, it was out of mere physical desire. I had yet to understand how many shapes a person's desire could take, and how few of them, in the end, took the shape of the body.

From Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

2815 : Tennis balls

"Amma, what were you doing just now? What was the noise?"

"Oh, that neighbor of ours, you know, the one with the brat of a son? She's been yelling at these poor street kids for playing cricket outside her house. They're street kids! Where else are they supposed to play? Each time their ball goes anywhere near her gate, she pounces on it and won't give it back. So I decided that if she likes balls that much, I would oblige. I went and bought thirty boxes of tennis balls and threw them one by one into her compound. I hope she has fun picking them up."

From Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

2814 : You can never know everything (about the other)

"Yes," I said, then hesitated. "Well, at least I thought I was. I thought I knew everything about her, but it turned out I was wrong."
"You can never know everything.", he replied gravely.
I raised the glass to my lips, to realize my hand was trembling. "It's funny you should say that.", I said. "My mother said the same thing to me once."

From Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

2813 : Dent in the heart

He nodded without turning to look at me.

I went back to my room and lay on the bed, staring up at the swords and the shield. I noticed that the shield was damaged, a deep dent over the place where the heart would have been

From Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

2812 : Why one should reconcile

"We didn't exactly part on the best of terms."

"The only way you'll be able to change that is if you go".

"Without action, there is only waiting for death.", I said with a smile.

A father urging his daughter to go meet someone (who is estranged) from Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

2811 : Reading List 2020: #8: Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field

As I said earlier - what exactly is a good book - its one that makes you contemplate and meditate. This one does oodles of that.

I had read less than 20 pages (of this book), and right then I knew that I had a winner on my hand. I loved the poetic prose all long the book. 

Is this Kundera, Coetzee, Rushdie, Ferrante, Samantha Harvey or Sara Baume? No.

But then, is this something I shall read again?. Of course. I can see myself reading it again and again through the years.

On writing, I would rate this 12/10.

On character development - I would rate this 6/10. A lot of the characters (especially from Kashmir) sound like hackneyed caricatures. We don't see really the backstory of their motivations or what stills them, and that leaves them sometimes as hollow notes coming from an exquisite flute. 

As for the characters from Kashmir - I was not really rooting for anyone much as I read it....the book did not want me to root for anyone. On the other hand, the urbanites - namely the mother, the narrator (the daughter) and the father sound true - sound like ones that possess a backstory. As in, their motivations are clear as water.

Overall a strong recommend - more as a poetic read - as a great prose - than (versus) as a great story. Goose pimples - I wish I could write like her. Some of her sentences will remain with me forever.

At 448 pages brings my 2020 reading total to 2551 pages.

Images from HuffPost and Amazon

2810 : The guitar crunch

On Radiohead's Creep - you hear the infamous Guitar crunch just before the chorus and instruments kick in - and almost universally everyone thinks it is the best part of the song. The part everyone remembers.

Then why infamous?

Just that it's not something that is naturally done. 

Its notoriety that achieves such moves :-), and achieves further notoriety.

And you will find this same piece of magic in Cold/Mess by Prateek Kulhad - and I can bet every single person who likes this song, loves that piece the best. 

2809 : And if you dont like Creep - (Radiohead).......then.....

This Creep is different from the previous post's Creep (which was Stone Temple Pilots).....and this Creep in this post is Radiohead.

I have heard at least 5 different versions of this song, and I the Radiohead version is wired into me (just like Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun is too).

I must have heard this song a 1000 times (and its version) means so much to me.

I don't care if it hurts
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
When I'm not around
You're so fuckin' special
I wish I was special

2808 : What is a good book?

Usually for me, its the feeling of being very meditative, contemplative - especially as you finish the book. I just finished Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field and I am tangled & estranged - both at the same time. I would have loved to use the word "unhinged", but that means something completely different.

I am unspooled though. 

Totally gnarled and snarled.

Get the drift?

Loved the book, and everything else is an understatement.

More around the book in the upcoming posts.

On an un-related note, but a related note....Creep is playing in the background. Contemplative me :-)

Feeling uninspired think I'll start a fire
Everybody run Bobby's got a gun
Think you're kinda neat then she tells me I'm a creep
Friends don't mean a thing guess I'll leave it up to me

Images from Amazon and Huffpost

2807 : Listening to Prateek Kulhad on repeat is the ultimate salve

What am I healing? 
What am I rueing?
What am I losing?
What am I not seeing?
What am I not feeling?

Cold. Mess.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

2806 : Amy Winehouse @ North Sea Jazz Festival singing "What is it about men?"

I honestly think this is easily among my top 5 songs in my life, and I have heard enough.
My favorite list runs into about 4000 songs. So I am quite aware of some kinds of music.....

And yet this song never ever fails to move me.
Easily the best song (and version) in my jazz repertoire.

And the lyrics are surreal.

2805 : Reading List 2020: #7 Until the end of time by Brian Greene

I have always (since my teenage years) been deeply into reading - especially around searching for meaning. My quest into Buddhism began as a search for "our sense of purpose"...which eventually became deeply personal.

In the last 20 years, no other book has been illuminating in this journey, than this book (Until The end of Time by Brian Greene).

It's packed with concepts, some really challenging, but if you persist, it leaves you a little more enlightened. If I was stuck on a death bed, this would be part of my reading list along with "Paradise in Plain Sight".

Absolutely read this, gift a copy to as many friends as you think would relate to this.

The book is a deep exploration of meaning, time, and our context in it. Sadly the conclusions he draws are something I had reached about 10 years ago (without the deep physics) and it left me slightly depressed. Over time I have overcome that failing, understanding that "meaning" is always deeply personal.

And so is purpose. And without the Lord in an atheist universe (like mine) it soon comes down to becoming intensely personal.

Read it. Be enthralled. Thank you, Brian Greene :-) Images from

At 428 pages brings my 2020 reading total to 2103 pages.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

2804 : The perils of being deathless

The protagonist in Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Immortal,” says “no one is anyone, one single immortal man is all men … I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist.”

Friday, May 08, 2020

2803 : The magic of Swanand Kirkire

Images from Ishq FM.

Translated means
Just a wee little smile,
A tiny bit of happiness,
A stolen piece of the moon (moonlight)
With straws that rest on our dreams
Lets go out and build our home

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

2802 : Deepak Rathore Project

Have listened to "Ja Tujhko" by Deepak Rathore Project on repeat and it gives me goose pimples.
Fantastically taut composition.
What talent :-).

Prateek Kuhad, Deepak Rathore Project, Ankur Tewari, Anand Bhaskar Collective - what gems are still waiting to be found in this lockdown.

2801 : Reading list 2020: #6 Black Cloud by Sir Fred Hoyle

A fantastic and classic science fiction. It teaches you so much about science (Sir Fred was a leading physicist), and it also teaches how to deal with events like pandemics. Its a fantastic reading at these times. The sly scientific humor is always on.

I would rate 9/10.

Image from good reads :-). At 238 pages brings my 2020 reading to 1683 pages.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

2800 : My 8 year old's dilemma

And no fcuking no, I am not making this up.

She says, why does "the country have to lock us up?. If someone wants to move around he/she will move, on the other hand like tatha/paati (my parents), if they cli are scared, then they shall stay at home." 

She continues, "Looks like locking us down is not helping anything. I cannot play. And maasi (a doctor) tells me the situation at hospitals is very bad too."

She further continues, "Are we no longer free? Are we now occupied like the British again?"

Of course, I try and explain to her - that running a nation is a difficult challenge and Modiji and other leaders have to take some decisions which in 20/20 hindsight can seem wrong. And then our convo drifts into leadership challenges.

And I sit and wonder - what are we missing here? Do difficult decisions necessarily have to be draconian? As France is in a lockdown too. Would you call it draconian?

As a nitwit example - My RWA has folks calling the police if one of us as much takes an evening walk in the play area. 

Vigilantes, draconian laws, and force should not have too much of a place in our modern egalitarian society? Or are we not there yet:-)

Monday, May 04, 2020

2799 : Them vs me

So after weeks of lockdown, my daughter was getting tired. So today we decided to go down to an empty play area and kick a football around. She is at the age, where she drives me mad with her energy.

As we both spoke and played around, at one point I became conscious of three laborers (possibly migrant, unsure) watching us intently. One a kid of around 15, another around 40 and the 3rd around 55. They were tired, end of the day, and possibly waiting for their payment.

I could not help but notice, their yearning as they saw us. What would they give to have our life.

We the dastards (and bastards) who possibly have everything, including a job at these times, but are not capable of appreciating how much not having these things mean - just in terms of creature comforts, not even in terms of happiness.

I wish I could reach out. I really wish I could say, I am not representative of the larger society that is screwing you over.

But something in me, flipped. On second thoughts, I am every Indian. I, with my muted silence, and lack of complete inaction, am a perfect perpetrator.

I believe in the circle of life, and it looks close to being complete soon. 

Sunday, May 03, 2020

2798 : Carla Bruni

The former first lady of France, is a hot stepper. Some of her Jazz covers are awesome. Me likes.

From "enjoy the silence" by Depeche Mode the 1990 classic that will always remain my favorite.

Her voice is silken and made for covers.

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can't you understand?

The original

The Carla Bruni Cover

Saturday, May 02, 2020

2797 : Reading List 2020 #5 : Holdout by Graham Moore

I finished this book (Holdout by Graham Moore), it's a breezy easy read. It's interesting to understand a few legal aspects (and I have a deep interest in that topic, but in this book, I did learn a few new things).

Essentially a good courtroom book. Very well written (as in lucid). The overall writing is around 8/10.

Would I recommend it to you?

Yes, of course, good lockdown reading.

Would I read this again? No. Is it poetic, or great prose? No.

But definitely recommend you to read it.

At 325 pages brings my 2020 total to 1445 pages. Images from

2796 : Apolitical

Everyone has a version of their self. My "version" of myself is distinctly apolitical, and I mean "political" in a literal community sense, like around a nation, geography or ideology.

That's my take on myself, or has been for a long long time.

And then in the recent few years, especially in the past 4 months, I have started becoming more and more political. I have views, I want to air them, but I shudder for two reasons. One - because the climate of safety just does not exist, its a virulent and angry climate - and two - because I don't know if I know enough - and am unsure wherein I should indulge in a dialogue....and I mean a real dialogue, one that furthers our understanding.

So for now, I am surprised at myself.


2795 : Music

Music should always be played at a decent volume, and when someone else is immersed in. That sort of music, you allow the person to savour the music rather than talk to him. There is such an inherent disrespect to music we display, when we talk over the music.

Do I speak too ? Of course I sometimes disrespect too. So yes double standards exist.  But most times   I will pause and listen to music, even if I don’t inherently like it.

I also find it hard in a room when people keep shifting the playlist.

There are a lot of things wrong in this world, and our approach to music is just one of them.

I suggest, go watch Bosch 😀