Saturday, March 06, 2021

3123 : Listening to Farida Khannum


Mere hum nawas mere nawa

Mujhe dost banke dagha na de.....

And my Saturday is shining like a neutron star. Bust but still shining all the way down. 

Below is the Begun Akthar version.

3122 : The marathon milestone

Every now and then, I get completely stumped by a ritual or a practice from real life.

Today's peeve (not really, more dumbfounded wonder) is around this mail which hits you sometimes - it goes something like this. 

"I am going to be running the Boston Marathon. I support 'Cats deserve to have a sauna foundation' or something to that effect. My goal is to raise 2000 USD. Please contribute generously.......and blah.....blah...."

I have rarely given money to an initiative ever. Not because I am stingy. The real reason is I don't understand this at all. Makes no sense to me. Ever.

You are running?

The Boston Marathon?

You are supporting "Cats deserve to have a sauna foundation"?

You want to raise 2000 USD?

You are posting on email, Twitter, Instagram?

This makes no sense at many levels. First of all, these are not connected activities. This seems like misplaced marketing. You love cats and their sauna. I don't have empathy for cats, and even if I do, I don't like them having a sauna. And even if I support the sauna, why are you killing me with this?

Usually my general belief - is that there is enough philanthropy money floating around. Its deploying them that is a challenge. So if you did want to run, and raise money, at least support a direct individual cause. Like my "friend Amit is suffering from cancer. He needs 2000 USD, can we help him." 

And this can be done irrespective of your running? Why bring your ego battles into this good cause?

This misplaced product placement does nothing for me. 

I am in all possibility loathe to judge you as very "superficial".

And that's my rant for this weekend.

3121 : The lonely monkey

I pushed myself extra hard at the gym today. On some days, you just survive on adrenaline.

From where I stand (in the gym) I have a clear view of a hospital. It's a beautiful piece of architecture (by Hafeez Contractor no less).

And usually, I am privy to someone dangling from the roof cleaning windows, which is a hugely vicarious sight, as he (its a he) dangles from what is the equivalent of a 15-floor tower.

On the edges and arches that prop the building's external beauty, you often see a murder of crows, and a flock of pigeons, assembled in some deep existential debate.

And this is what I see usually for the past few months.

And then today, I also see a lonely monkey (amongst the birds), in all probability lost and waylaid from the hills in the backdrop. He(or maybe she) struggled for a good 15 minutes walking along the ledge (a frill border at the center of the building).

He (she) walked the entire stretch (about 200 meters) multiple times, hands-free (magical they walk on a ledge which is less than 6 inches)......something a human could never ever do.

He walked for a good 15 minutes, before he disappeared to the other side of the building, away from my sight. I wanted him to find the hill again. I wanted him to win.

The lonely monkey who hopefully made it.

Friday, March 05, 2021

3120 : And she never....

She never ate prawns. Faith would not allow.

Here I am pulling the tail off a prawn. The world had come a full circle. Just like the tail.

3119 : Why would you take the money?

 She asked me angrily, "Why would you take the money? Why?"

I did not answer, but the words of my fav author ran in my head. I was silent, but my head was filled with "One day I will also take the dollars. Not for the money. For the pleasure of being a whore. "

3118 : The one who got waylaid

 As a non-believer, I don't believe in prayer or rituals. And when my friend says "Insha Allah", I feel a tinge of envy. She is honoring a belief that she holds dear to her heart. 

She has lived a tough life, but her heart is strong like that of a tiger. She told me many years ago, that the "Lord" watches her back.

I smiled sheepishly and told her, that this was "nothing but a catch all".

Instead of convincing me, or even pushing back, she lovingly held my elbow and smiled, "One day". That's all. With a touch of finality, it was "one day".

I almost wanted her to argue, to defend....wanted to drag her into a mental fistfight, where I would quote physics from my high chair and she would give me her "blind faith", and the righteous bastard in me would smirk. But that never happened. "One day".

I met her recently after years. Both of us are older. Much older. I am not wiser, but I am hoping more inclusive. I always envied her faith, but now I craved for it too.

As we were sipping coffee, she told me, "You have changed". And I smiled and asked her "how is that?". "More mellow" she said. 

"For the better?"

"Possibly", and she smiled benevolently. And then as an afterthought, added "You were always rooted, always letting the other person be.".....and another thought later, "you can be mean, but never mean-spirited. You are Allah's little soldier."

She is my age, or slightly younger, but I felt like she was mothering me, and I mean that in a very good way. I smiled awkwardly. I strangely found immense comfort in being "Allah's little soldier".

We spoke about books, music, poetry for some time. As we approached our second cup of coffee, she stared deep into the black liquid and muttered, with a tear in her eye, "Dad's gone."

I felt like I had hit a brick wall. Her dad was an inspiration always. I learned a lot of my poetry from him. At least my love for the verse.

After a pause, I asked, "How?". 

She said, "Pneumonia". And then added, "I was with him before he went on the ventilator and never recovered. One of the last things he said was, 'I am not sure of Jannat'.But on this earth life was fun."

And then we veered to talk about other things. A little more lighter.

As she prepared to head back, she hugged me tightly. She told me, "He loved you for the son he never had. He wanted you to have his copy of the Quran. He instructed me specifically on this. Will you have it? I know you don't believe in anything. But for him, will you do this for him?"

I said, overwhelmed with emotion. "You are right, I believe in nothing, including life itself. Nothing is sacrosanct, but I shall do this for you, for him, for the Allah."

After a pause, as she handed me a small cloth bag (which contained his book), I added, "One day. And today is as good as one day. I love you. One day".

We walked out of the coffee shop, hand in hand, one sure of her faith, and the other sure of exactly the same.....her faith.

3117 : Have been reading tons on AI

 And the more I read, the lesser I know.

I feel like a kid who is in KG, but has aspirations to give the math olympiad.

I mean that analogy is apt.

3116 : This is the end

 This is the end of the innocence.

Arm chair warriors often fail.....

Don Henley

Thursday, March 04, 2021

3115 : My world....

 As I became more and more aware of the political landscape around me....what I see on twitter/social media immensely bothers me. I feel broken. Totally.

And on days like today, I realize that 2nd law of thermodynamics always works - unless we put a serious effort to drive order, entropy in a system will keep increasing.

3114 : Immense sense of needing a break

 I have been working for the past 7-9 weeks through weekends. Its somewhat crushing. Its easy to hope for adrenaline to keep you going.

I have a strange situation. Which might actually not be that unusual. Work is piling up on me :-).

And if I take a break, I know I will have to come back and do it myself.

So the work wont disappear.

Life sometimes feels like a blur.

Not complaining. Yet.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

3113 : Agha Shahid Ali (my fav poet of all time)

Dedicated to the ones that I never call, but hold immensely dear to me.

I flipped through their visions,

left my number in their sleep.

But no one called back.

I called all night,

called for years,

called till their lids began to ring,

ten, twenty, two hundred times,

and then they went blind

on my dreams.

Now their eyes don't open.

No one picks up the phone.

― Agha Shahid Ali, The Veiled Suite: The Collected Poems

3112 : Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson

 After years I am listening to MJ. He was part of my artiste ban (my conflating the art and the artist conundrum).

The guitar riff at the start has to be one of the addictive. A slow drag against an equally lazy chord. 

Just sets the song up so beautifully.

MJ and his producers (Quincy Jones) were the masters of a crisp composition.

Almost every song of his has an addictive bar.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

3111 : Contradiction

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman 

3110 : Megalomaniac

I first heard this term in my early teens and was captivated by it. Remember laughing for hours with my brother, that such possible people exist.

And then life decides you are the joke.

3109 : I have a dream

That one day my daughter and I will have a relationship like Eric and Zev Weinstein. There is something utterly adorable about how each of them is constructed and how their relationship is too.

On a day like today, when I realize that I am probably a megalomaniac too.....reaching the (above) ideal is almost asking a person without legs to climb Everest.

But hard to give up on the magic that Eric and Zev have.

That's the post.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

3108 : Art, the artist and the failing

 For years I have staunchly maintained that there are certain values for which I shall "cancel" an artist or a friend or someone I know.

A good example is "Pablo Neruda" whose poems I like, but I don't read, because he glorified and almost romanticized "rape". (Google on that).

Recently I have also had similar strong views on a few right-wing celebrities who have endorsed violence (implicitly).

And in this "canceling" I have been strict and have exercised this with moral indignation that I usually otherwise don't have.

And then today I was having a chat with someone and she convinced me with a few compelling arguments, that I am being an "asshole" (not the poriborton types :-)).

What I liked is the beauty and elegance with which the arguments were made. I learned a lot. I might still cancel Pablo Neruda, but now I know why I might be an "asshole" too.

The part of the argument which I liked the most - was don't let a failing - negate the net output in some other stream.

A few years ago I failed too. And I had a free fall from my own pedestal.

And I know I hurt from the "cancel" which was called upon me. And that's the memory that this talk triggered in me. It was an aha moment.

That's the post.

3107 : Lonely by Agha Shahid Ali

 From my fav poet (via their twitter handle)

they left him alive so that he could be lonely- The god of small things is not consoled in real time!

3106 : The long and math of it

 I have been reading a lot of math, and I am horribly weak at it. I mean not basics, but advanced math required for physics and AI.

And I feel very incomplete about it.

Working to get to a better place, but might be years before that.

This time though I won't give up :-)

Saturday, February 27, 2021

3105 : My new content poison is podcasts

Love the format.

Love the conversation. 

Love the long lazy podcasts. 

I struggle to now find time to hear podcasts because I am usually working all the time. And I cannot work and listen to podcasts at the same time.

Need to hack that habit in :-)

Coming soon a list of podcasts I love. 

3104 : This blog 2

On the other hand, I do get some fab comments and conversations with friends based on posts here.

And those are most welcome. 

Open to a debate. Always. Always :-).

And if you can help me bend my framework, even better. 

Bring it on. 

There is no meaning in this life - without knowing the "meaning" itself....and possibly sometimes to find the "right question".

We all know the answer, its "42", now lets find the right question to ask.

Bring the conversation on.

3103 : This blog

Ha ha :-)

This blog has given me more than my share of conflict and judgments. (I mean passed upon me).

I get beaten by folks who read this :-)

Don't misunderstand me. This blog is me. But its a sliver of me. And this blog is/was never meant to cast judgments on others. At best I sometimes have some wicked/evil humor.....but I dont think I have ever launched a mean-spirited attack on anyone/anything....including anything political.

And yet the grief I get on various items on this blog is almost funny.

And it's not trolling, because that would be funny.

This is serious philosophical mindfk :-(

This blog is nothing more than a journal to one day show my daughter - how broken (and possibly human) her dad was. 

This is a blog with an intended audience of "1" and that's her.


3102 : Have been struggling

With a lot of work and possibly a slightly broken spirit.

One goal is to come back and write (often).


Sunday, February 21, 2021

3101 : My mood today is...

 Ranjish hi sahi, dil hi dukhane ke liye aa...

Sunday, February 14, 2021

3099 : A cup of tea

A cup of tea. Pause. Deep reflection. What I see is the blurred grey.

3098 : The drill

For the past 2 weeks, or so, all I have done is woken up....gone for a walk....and then worked till late night.

Eat. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

While its easy to rationalize this, as a blip, its harder when you know  - you are working on solving difficult problems.

It takes a toll.

I have missed tons of emails, calls, smses.....which is all long as this counts.

That's the post.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

3097 : Bad...

I was at the gym yesterday and it has fab acoustics.

And the DJ (who comes on some days) knows me well. So to surprise me (pleasantly) he decided to play some retro music. 

And one of the songs he played was "Bad" by Michael Jackson.

And I was torn....completely. Its the first English Pop song that I ever heard. So it has a special place. And I love that song.

But I was torn....due to "Finding Neverland" and what it means for the artist. I don't feel comfortable supporting artists - who have committed grave crimes.

My moral compass is limited and I have very few rules.....but I try and hold them sacrosanct.

And MJ broke at least one of them, if not more.

Torn....unable to distinguish between the art and the artist.

3096 : Once again....

I am struggling to write.

Too many thoughts, too many fears, too much work, and just plain distracted.

I intend to start with a series around long essays or have been meaning to for some time.

But am very far from that yet.

Losing steam, a day at a time.

Friday, February 05, 2021

3095 : Always liked Michael Brook the musician

Especially because of his collab with NFAK (Ustad Nusrat).

Have been listening to the rest of his work on Spotify and the contemplative music is all I need for times like today.

The stereo recordings are of fab quality. You can feel the music travel across the room.

(Or is it my fancy ear buds.....)

3094 : God on Trial

 “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?

And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”

— Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic

(found via a twitter/medium blogpost)

Friday, January 29, 2021

3093 : Vengeful nihilism

From NYT today

The result, Mr. Gurri writes, is a kind of vengeful nihilism, an urge to burn down the establishment without a clear sense of what’s supposed to replace it.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

3092: Multitudes

Martin Heidegger said, " every man is born as many men and dies as a single one."

Monday, January 25, 2021

3090: Bravery by Bjork

 "Bravery is this gut feeling to not

coagulate or crystalize but to stay liquid." - Björk

(came in via twitter)

Sunday, January 24, 2021

3089: Anamolies

The water that homes in to thrist

From a Ranjit Hoskote poem

3088 : Ranjish hi Sahi

aa phir se mujhe chod ke jaane ke liye aa


What poetry !!

3087 : How do I tell my son about magic?

How do I convey to my son, that when he grows up and does not have familiarity with Faridda Khannum's Dil Jalane Ki Baat Karte Ho.......he is missing the simplest example of what human greatness looks like.

The voice, the lyrics, and just the complete immersion.....and the tabla in the background :-).

3086 : Run like Hell by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Pink Floyd)

Listening to Run Like Hell, by Royal Philharmonic at full blast is as much fun as we adults are allowed to have :-).


Saturday, January 23, 2021

3085 : Cheri Cheri Lady by Modern Talking

Of course, I am from the 80s and I love this song.

But modern versions of this song (covers) play a slightly faster tempo, and I cannot ever get used to it.

As a child when I first heard this, I realized that the chord tempo is actually a tad bit slow (there must a reason for it), but now that tempo is baked into my brain. The new faster tempo (probably the correct tempo), but just jars.

Amazing how the brain works :-). Even rationalizes slightly wrong art.

3084 : Simply the best by Tina Turner

I call you when I need you, my heart's on fire

You come to me, come to me wild and wild

This song never fails to move me. It has a lovely larger than life feel to it. Like this song could fit any greatness. E.g India's win over Australia recently.
Imagine playing this as the title credits roll, and the commentators shut shop. See the effect? Agree with me? 

Its a bit like "Everyone wants to rule the world" by Tears for Fears. I can never listen to the song, without thinking of Wayne Rainey. Posted on that earlier 

3083 : Its not me.

 It's very easy to confuse an author with her book. Actually not "confuse" but "conflate". 

And yet, it happens all the time. Individuals are conflated with their work. As an example, (and I know I will get trolled for it), but there is a good chance, that Amit Shah is a good family man, maybe a very warm family man.....and not the hardnosed strategist that we see of him every day.

I get my posts in my blog often leading to assumptions of how I am. This blog is my journal. Its a window to my self, but just a sliver of it. Essentially written so that my daughter can use this as a growing up guide when she reaches her twenties.

I want her to know that her dad was fallible and yet keen-minded. 

And yet, at least 3-4 times in a month - I correct someone about an assumption they made about me.

This is me, but this is not "all of me". I am much much more than this blog. Much more layered than this unidimensional blog can ever be.

Final words. Learn more about me from here. Do bring it up, especially if we have common interests (Jazz, classical, whatever :-)). Make some assumptions about me, that is fine too....But.....Totally conflating this (blog) with me assures me that you are inherently either lazy or quick to judge or both. 

Don't be lazy :-). Grab for me a drink. I shall show you the real me, make it worth your while. Always open.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

3082 : When the demons dance

When the demons come out and dance, it's kind of weird. It feels like you are bottled in, when actually you have lots of company (demons), who you have been indoctrinated to not touch with a barge pole (as if they fking care!!).

Open you arms, play Erik Satie, and waltz with the winter. They like to play. Toss the coin for them. Help them have fun. Be the umpire. 

It will never be Brisbaine, but it sure reduces the pain :-).

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

3081 : Reading list 2021 : #1 : Sum by David Eagleman

What a cracking start to reading in 2021. I finished Sum by David Eagleman, easily one of the best books I have read in my life.

Easily. As I always rate good books (with a false flourish) 18/10. About 40 small stories. Each story made me think, made me smile and made me realise how little I know. These are all stories of the afterlife.

Very Buddhist or so I thought. One of the keeps. I would probably read this book again very often. 

Read it and be mildly enlightened. Almost in a Zen way. Its bit like Zen Koans.

At 130 pages brings my 2021 total to 130 pages.

BTW, by the same author I love Incognito and am currently reading Livewired.

Images from Tumblr

3081 : What makes us (and hence breaks us) - I mean "us" in plural

Trust. Respect. Understanding. Space. Compassion

Just that. In no order.

Love and care are natural fallouts of this continuum. Applies to our dog, spouses, children and parents.

Just that. And yet, none of it ever seems to be easy or work.

3080 : Intoxicated by NFAK

 One of my all time fav songs.....lyrics from hindgeetmala

jhumta aa raha hai kyu baadal
jhumta aa raha hai kyu baadal
jhumta aa raha hai kyu baadal
ye bhi shayad koi sharabi hai
chaal mastana, chaal mastana
najar gulabi hai
chaal mastana najar gulabi hai

jaam jisne utha liya hai fana
jaam jisne utha liya hai fana
jaam jisne utha liya hai fana
uski kismat me kaamyabi hai
chaal mastana, chaal mastana
najar gulabi hai
chaal mastana najar gulabi hai

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

3079: What if ?

Instead of loving and then marrying, we married and then loved.
Instead of being born, and then dying, we died and then were born.
Instead of fighting and making up, we make up and then fought.
Instead of being happy young, and grumpy old, we were grumpy old first and then happy young.

Most of life is a cycle if you examine it this way. Just that it's taken me a full life to see it that way.

3078: My fish has a tumor

 A 3-year-old goldfish has a large tumor for the past 3 months and is dying. Have been taking extra care of it.......but....

Not a complaint.

No existential decadence.

No chemotherapy.

No escaping the pain.

No jumping off the edge.

No self-pity.

There is so much I can learn from this tiny fish. And that means karma is a regressive cycle. The most devolved become humans and not the other way around.

3077 : Dil Jalane ki Baat karto ko by Ali Sethi (Farida ji we still love you immensely) from "The Reluctant Fundamentalist"

 Smoldering song :-)

Listen to the film version, even better.

3076 : Taking the edge off

When you drink to take the edge off (more and more often), you know something is in a spiral :-).

These are the days, the best days of our life :-)

3075 : Listening to Yaariyaran (by Hari and Sukhmani)

 Sets the mood for the day and it's funny how music knows exactly how you are feeling inside.

A fab Sufi song, I am also searching for my infinite. Esp on a day like today.

This is what I want to do when I grow up :-). I want to jam :-)

The joy in the video is so infectious :-)

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

3073 : Arturo Sandoval with Ariane Grande and Will Pharell

I am sure I have posted on this before.

But one listen to this song is enough keep your grooving all through the night. Hippest funky music you might have ever heard.

3072 : Mana ke hum pyaar nahin....(from meri Pyari Bindu) by Parineeti Chopra

Am I the only one who loves this song, and esp Parineeti's voice?

I love this song. She has such an authentic ring. Give me her anyday over a trained singer for a song like this.

3071 : Tu chal by Amitabh Bachchan (from Pink)

I have posted about this recently. Listening to this on repeat.

Something in Amitabh's voice moves me immensely. Almost as if he were an opera singer.

I want to be like him if I live to be 78.

Lots of respect. Its easy to hate him, but I see him for what he is - a flawed fighter.

My namesake !!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

3069 : 2021 will be a long year

I know that 2021 will be a very long year. A part of me is overwhelmed by that prospect, while another is looking fwd to taking it on the chin.

I now have a double chin :-)

3068 : Reading Room Summary 2020

I struggled to read in 2020. I have over 30 books unfinished at a reading % of 20-50%.

Its been hard to focus on reading or knowing more about the world around me when the first thing in 2020 was boredom, tiredness, and just a general sense of lethargy. It did not help that work continued to clock 50-60 hrs on a consistent basis.

I finished 2020 with 22 books spanning 7166 pages 

Vs 2019 with 29 books and 5177 pages. 

Vs 2018 was 35 books with 10816 pages. 

This year 2021 hope to hit 10000 pages again.

3067 : Reading list 2020: #23: A crown of thorns (about Coronavirus) by Kalpish Ratna

Ishrat Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan (as a duo) became Kalpish Ratna. I quite admire their books and their style of writing. 

I especially liked their latest book on Coronavirus (A crown of thorns), it does get quite technical - but it's a lovely read - involving common sense, science, ecology, and just the future of humanity.

About 8/10. Do read :-)

Images from BusinessLine and Manorama

 At 279 pages brings my 2020 reading to 7166 pages. And that ends my 2020 reading journey.

3066 : From Killer

Tainted hearts, heal with time

Shoot bad love, so we can
Stop the bleeding, yeah...

3065 : Eric Clapton

 I am an avowed Eric Clapton fan.

And then this happens. Link here.

I am torn. In all transactions I believe, neither he is right nor I am wrong.....but something seems amiss.

Mr. Clapton just probably lost a fan. But to him, and his legend, it wont matter at all.

Something in my is stifled. Some voice, which is neither spoken nor heard.

3064 : Weight and TM by Jerry Seinfeld

I do one half of this. The other half I HAVE to start in 2021 :-).


Snippet From

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld believes there are just two healthy habits that “could solve just about anyone’s life”: Transcendental Meditation and weight training, he said during a recent episode of the podcast, “The Tim Ferriss Show.”

Seinfeld, 66, explained that incorporating these techniques into his routine have helped him stay productive, focused and creative throughout his career. Here’s what you need to know about weight training and Transcendental Meditation

3063 : What is design?

Loved this quote. 

Design is not artDesign is utilitarian. Art is useful, but not utilitarian.” “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”

By Massimo Vignelli

Saturday, January 02, 2021

3062 : Sexism @ Netflix

 On the poster of Heroes - of the lead 4 actors. One of them is missing. And its a "she".

She is one of the best rally drivers the world has ever seen.

Michele Mouton's name is missing :-)

So much for an equalist society :-).

3061 : Background score masterclass (from Criminal series on Netflix)

 The background score on the Netflix series Criminal is a masterclass of how simple (surreal) sounds can help setup the complete mood.

Love it completely. Totally awed by it.

I someday really want to be part of such a creative process. The person(s) including the director who worked on the framing of the music, must be inspired.

I yearn for that intellectual sparring. For that fun and the process of building something together.

3060: Heroes (racing veterans) on netflix.

Easily one of the most watchable series on Netflix. 
Humane. And adorable for fans of racing. Each one of the four racers is so endearing. (Formula 1 world champion Mika Häkkinen, former Ferrari F1 driver – Felipe Massa, nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and World Rally Championship runner-up Michèle Mouton.)
Definitely worth a watch.
Shows us personal greatness is human and if we don't chase it, it's us, each of us that is the loser.
Watch it and be humbled by four of the greatest racers in the world.
We all have cracks. Embrace them.

Debuts near the bottom on my overall list.

3059: Loved Ak Vs Ak on netflix

Anurag Kashyap is such a fine actor. My second movie with him as an actor. Saw a Tamil movie where he is the villain. (Imaikkaa nodigal)
I love TV when it is well written. This is full of references and self goals 😀
Loved it totally. Absolutely worth a watch.
Harshvardhan Kapoor is someone to watch out for. I loved his cameo. 

Debuts well on my overall list

3058: Recency bias Criminal series on Netflix

Finished my second run (of watching the entire series).
I love this series. Have seen all 3 (country versions) and two seasons for UK. 
Just love the writing. Easily one of the best writing and acting on television.