Monday, May 31, 2021

3381 : The burden of revolutions

You tell me you are tired of being in the line of fire. The proximity hurts you. You no longer want to fight the heat. You want to let it singe you, if "that's my fate".

I want to take you aside and tell you - that you could never escape this fire. It's indeed your fate. The villages on both sides are burning. We need words which can calm the war. 

And you, my friend, are the poet. Carry the burden.

3380 : Harmony

 When someone tells me they don't fully get the concept of harmony - I tell them to listen to "Saagar Jaise Ankhon Wali" from Saagar.

It has some of the best harmony I have seen in modern film music. RD Burman was indeed a genius.

3379 : The underbelly

As I navigate these times, it's easy to lose hope. Like today, I am not feeling too well. Both mentally and physically. I am stuck in time. I need to unblock.

I am playing hide and seek. It's tough playing this game in a new town, when you know you are bad with maps.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

3378 : Zen Garden

I have a little Zen Garden at my home. I maintain it, or more precisely, just let it be.

I love the wildness of its growth. Admire it for its insects and the resilience. Trees (yes small trees) and tiny outgrowths from everywhere.

Love tending to it. Feels like tending to the earth. Feels like building a home.

3377 : Dad

I adore my parents. And yet, I share nothing like a meaningful relationship with them. We hardly ever talk, we hardly ever share. Should I change "we" to "I"? Maybe.

As a kid, I used to always want to hold my dad's hand and walk. He was my succor. He was never a role model. Until now.

As I am growing older - I am realizing how much wisdom he has, and yet how little he dishes them out.

One day, I hope to be like him. Wise, silent, and content.

3376 : Writing

I find immense peace in writing and being silent.

I know that makes me a nerd or even a weirdo.

I am what I am. 

3375 : Resistance poetry

I do like poetry. I also like resistance poetry.

It usually comes from the heart and hits home emotionally.

This came in via Twitter (Dr. Sonali Vaid), and I could not help fall in love with it. Powerful, I wish I had written it.

Link here

I cannot sleep Because I Wrote a poem. A poem Needs an Audience To breathe But this (other) one Was about How the oxygen Was snuffed out Of many lives And I feel I too must Resign To the Censorship So I in circles. I write A verse About a Poem Best buried In sand

Saturday, May 29, 2021

3374 : Anger

I used to have anger issues as a teenager. 

Over years I have learnt to observe myself (and my breath) to detect anger. Its been years since I felt my heart throbbing. 

And I felt that recently. I was angry. 

Took me a good 2 hrs to return back to normal.

3373 : Conflate

It's very easy to conflate me, my values, and my actuals. 

I see this so much in our corporate world. We assume that the "head of D&I (diversity inclusion" is an inclusive person herself/himself. Or the person doing the sales role would be good at representing herself/himself.

Does not seem to play out. 

It's one thing for others to make this error in judgment, this conflation. It's another level of whataboutery (in our head I mean), when even I, myself believe I am a solid salesperson.

Get the drift?

3372 : The illusion of time

Abandoning the imposition of a calendar helped me understand that time isn't real; it has no logic in the absence of hope and anticipation.

Susan Abulhawa

Friday, May 28, 2021

3371 : The ribbon on the oak tree

This came in via twitter. From a poet named Kaveh.
Loved the poem. What fabulous words.

3370 : The lost conversations

When I refuse to speak and choose my silences, I know I am probably missing out on chats that otherwise could have happened. In a language, in a time, in an era, in a dialect, and most of a common shared space....that is probably never going to happen again.

As in, this today, will not happen tomo. We might still talk tomo, but that will never fill the gap of today - to the hole of the (to)day.

This strange dichotomy bothers me. It does. I don't have good answers. I ponder on this. What did I lose today by not talking to you?

What did I lose today, by not writing a few more pages for that book which is brimming in my head? Tomo, I will catch up. Today though is gone. Like a long-lost tongue, like a floating butterfly, who is drifting, and will be gone in a few hours.

3369 : Roaches

I came from quite a poor background. We had privileges like access to education, food, and a home. We were still though broadly very poor. My childhood home overlooked a nullah (or a gutter).

And due to this, our home was always infested with all kinds of insects. All the time.

We had a toilet in the house (so privilege again!!).....but it was overflowing with large roaches (cockroaches).

I used to be terrified (well into my teens) of going to the restroom at night. 

It's both a funny and a weird story. Till today, I am scared of roaches. I don't mind lizards, snails, snakes, ants, spiders, butterflies....but I detest roaches. The mere presence of one in the room - makes me slightly nervous.

Versus I can live with 20 lizards in my room. I can sleep with the lights off.

That's the post.

3368 : Everyday heroes

I was hearing/reading someone new (not someone very new to me, someone I have been reading for a good 6 odd months). Someone in the journalistic endeavor. And I was quite frankly enamored by the courage, the vision, and their clarity.

And then I look at myself in the mirror. I have solely committed myself to build some semblance of stability and some basic wealth (even with that - I have not been elite).

So the question that often bothers me.....purpose, meaning, and "personal greatness". I am not being self-critical - but I think I walked off that path such a long time ago - that it seems alien.

Let me clarify. I love my job. I adore it. I find immense purpose and meaning there, but in some sense, it could eventually turn into being a cop-out.

That is my meditation. 

3367 : The death of a city

Someone I know died. Not terribly close, but I would try and meet this person when in her city - which was rare enough - say once in a few years. A lot of my memories of that city are defined by those shared experiences. 

It's like remember your favorite food via the lens of your mother. If you are my age, you probably don't meet your mother often, but yes, the memory of a fav sweet dish is through her lens - since every time you were in the same shed, she makes it a point to feed it to you.

Now imagine that person is gone (like in my case, the friend is gone). Will the city remain the same for me? Will, my prism to view that city evolve and change?

Should it change?

Or does that city slowly walk into its own reserve and silence?

3366 : Physical silence

As I try and write some of the nights, just the lack of physical silence is very hard on me.

I need silence, maybe some music (that's usually fine). 

It's very hard to write (in case some of you have not tried that, you must) - it brings a great deal of structure and clarity in your head. It also helps open up a dialogue with yourself - but to collect thoughts and to jut out a single sentence, takes a whole toll on your mental psyche. Its usually an uplifting experience (this toll), but it is also a hugely difficult thing to do if you don't have personal (and physical) silence.

My lullaby. This.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

3365 : Distortion (or belief)

 Any conflict (or any past) can be distorted by repetition. I recognize this and it bothers me. Like I wonder how much of my story - is the real story - and how much of it is a narrative that I have constructed for myself?

It's the "person in my head" kind of problem. It's not me, and yet it is me. I am the one who is both examining my memory and my conflict. And in both cases - it can be manufactured or doctored.

3364 : Virus(es)

I have been reading about Virus' more and more. Anything I can lay my hands on. And its totally sucked me in.

If I have found this subject when I was in my teens, I might have been a virologist today. Possibly.

Totally enamored by their world. Onto possibly my second book on this topic.

There is so much to know and understand in this world, and I really cant get enough of this world. I am mortally afraid of mortality :-). I want to live for another 100 years.

3363 : A fall

 In the past few days (7-10 maybe) I have consciously shut down the noise from outside. My conflicts, my grouse, my anger......shut it down. I still have to talk and have all of these responses within work - but broadly have shut the world out.

Initially as a response to the chatter....and then as a mechanism to assuage the mind.

Where I am today, the mind is a little saner. The conflicts are still there. So is the battle. But, there is equanimity in accepting that this is the world I built. This is my world. 

The house that Jack built.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

3362 : A love supreme by Carlos Santana, John Mclaughin

So you like John Coltrane. You like A Love Supreme. And then you discover this version.

Chill and bake :-)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

3361 : I shall build a bridge.

I am Bob the Builder. In my imaginary conversations with you, that's all I do. Build bridges.

3360 : My poem

 There is something in this image that spoke to me. Or speaks to me (present continuous).

Monday, May 24, 2021

3359 : Is it just me?

There is an uneasy calm in my head nowadays. Something almost unreal. As I process the world around me, the crisis we are in, I volunteer a all of these....all I am seeing is a steady cadence to my own beat. A slowly evolved rhythm - where I am deeply aware of my losses - some covid related, some otherwise - but I am also able to see that more is possible on the way. And if I don't pause my "stressed" response - and if I don't switch to my measured everyday reactive response - I will not be able to help folks that I care about, the parts of the world that I love and deem personal.

3358 : Walk within

Nowadays I probably spend the entire day working, writing, walking, (a bit of tweeting)...and that's it.

Entire days/weeks pass before I speak to someone (not work or Amazon related).

Interesting times.

It allows me to "walk within".

3357 : ....and then there are poisons

Continuing from the previous post - I still want a great music system (know exactly which one I want!!), and I love peated whiskey.

So much for farting about Buddhism and ilk :-)

We are all uniquely dystopian :-)

3356 : What makes us happy

There is very little that will make us happy. That's genuinely my learning - after years of internalizing Buddhism. And the next car or the next cool phone definitely won't make me happier.

Its taken me years to reach this point. I would say almost 10+ years of just meditating on this same point again and again. 

As I reach this point of realization, I also realize that "less is more" and sometimes just being ok with the world around me is ok. Being ok with losing your loved ones and their mortality is another huge internal acceptance.

Happiness to me has become more being ok with the world around me - a more simple profound acceptance of the world around me as flawed, conflicted, and just wayward. I genuinely don't believe something from the outside is going to make me any happier.

Where I have reached, my needs are less - though my expenses due to older loans and habits are still high. Slowly will unwind on that front too.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

3355 : Snails

My little Zen Garden in about 20 sq feet must have at least around 500 snails. It's a riot. They eat a lot of leaves, but the net effect on the garden is positive.

I love this little melting pot we have.

3354 : Landscaping of trees

In the complex I live in, once a week, the gardener trims all the smaller trees and potted plants.

I find it the most bizarre practice - if we really wanted good plants - just let them be. They might not look great, but they will be the best in terms of dealing with fungi and infections. 

My little zen garden is a complete jungle.

Everything from snails, centipedes, fruit trees growing wild..... it's my most fun side project.

3353 : Goals by Susan Sontag

 Came in via Twitter. This is what I need. And I need it pretty much now :-)

"You have to create your own space which has a lot of silence in it and a lot of books.” — Susan Sontag

3352 : Rascals of Gaza

Came in via Twitter. Loved this poem. It is anti-war. I am generally a pacifist. I don't believe wars (even between individuals solves much).....Any war just leaves one thing behind. A battlefield full of losses.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

3351 : One day

One day I am going to try and own all a personal copy of the live recordings of DMB (Dave Matthews Band).

Listen to

This is #41 they are playing at the Montage Mountain. This 22-minute monster edition is a complete delight.

You will roll over in glee listening to them. The jazz improv is out of this world.

Listen at around 10:00 minutes - and it keeps crazier from thereon.


3350 : To speak and then fade out

I don't speak much. That's how I always have been. I am a leech. I like to listen to others, observe them. I learn in every single chat/convo. I enjoy listening to others go tongs.

The only time I talk is either when I am at work or when I am in a heated debate - where I have a view. As I am growing old, though, I am realizing that a lot of my views are shaky. A classic case of "the more I know, the less I know".

And then there is this pressure to talk, to express. I mean societal pressure/peer pressure. I have genuinely come to realize that for most topics that matter - like deep philosophy, mediation on mortality, or even simple heartfelt love - words (and hence language) are a very inadequate sort of vehicle. 

Poets do take this a notch higher....but even that..... it's still like trying to trap a whale with our aquarium fishnet. Inadequate and foolish.

So how do you express deep ideas? Or deep feelings? It's so much better across the table, where words matter less - and less.

And now think of how some like me is doing in these WFH times. Totally fucked :-). Its balls and chains all the way.

3349 : Blondie one way or the other


This song came in via Twitter, and it reminded me of a song that I loved and had forgotten about.

Go have a blast.  Volume up for fun.

3348 : Your skin makes me cry

Continuing from the previous post.....I listen to "Creep - Radiohead" and it always perks me up. Now that would be odd in anyone's book. That should explain how I float in weirdness.

I wanna a perfect body

I wanna a perfect soul.....

3347 : You - 2

I have always felt alienated. Not sure why. Its taken me years to recognize that about myself. That sense of not belonging. This is different from feeling rejected or any similar expression. Infact, on that front, I have gotten immense love, care, and happiness from the world around me.

Think of "alienation" - as something that would happen to someone uprooted from his/her phages (roots). Think of someone who might have lost something.

Have I been uprooted? Have I had a heartbreaking loss?

Nothing in my life sounds like that at all. And yet, I have always related to writers who bring Kashmir, Palestine, partition, or immense melancholy into their work.

As I examine my own sense of anchorlessness......there is something that definitely does feel like home. You.

3346 : You

Words and speech do make this world a better place. Its even better when we can express a lot with our silences - which we often can do.

Remember when you said, "Listen, let me tell you a story.". I did try and listen, but I lost the plot. I was clearly more focused on the poetry that was playing out too.

3345 : Looking

Looking inwards is hard. And meditation be damned. Most forms of meditation (and I am not an expert), all they do is create space in the mind for the thoughts to settle and sort themselves out. And hence the sense of calm and peace they radiate.

Of course, mediation can also lead to increased awareness of one's own responses.

Here is the challenge though - what if, you have never been honest to yourself? What if, all life is nothing but a charade? What if, my life is driven by a goal and an ideal - that is not mine, but I have made it mine? What if, when you look inwards - you do nothing but stare into a fictional world of your own making?

I have questions - don't have easy answers.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

3344 : Whats in a name ?

 My daughter is taking some basic interest in physics. She has now discovered a star called "UY Scuti" which is 1700 times the weight of the sun.

As a joke, I have started calling her "YC Kutty". It's a play on the star's name and the fact that we owe some roots to Kerala....that's where the kutty comes from.

As a child, my brother used to call me an immense amount of names - almost inventing one every other day. Almost as if he was a troll.

I loved it then - I never got irritated with him - and I terribly miss it now. Immensely miss it.

Chintya (the marathi influence).

I have forgotten a good deal of names. Tons of them. Maybe its my love of this weird behavior that makes me invent names for others. Like I call daughter all kinds of names "Abhishek" (who am I? :-)), chubby, Chub Singh (should be Kaur I know), and then "YC Kutty".

Tell me - what's in a name? Even nothing is a name - as long as you can feel it.

3343 : Taxonomy

We spend this lifetime defining our relationships. It's the same human obsession that possibly drives us to chase titles at work. (Actually, that's not a simplification, it's both our obsession with definition/social validation and then of course taxonomy - the desire to put items into buckets).

It's hard to escape this trap - both at work and in life. Even in simple platonic relationships - there is a desire to classify a relationship. It's human.

I too was part of this trap (till as recently as possibly 10 years ago).

And today I hate it with a vengeance, My hate stems from recognizing how conditioned my own responses to a definition are.

I want to be able to live in a world - where I exist to make the world a better place for someone else. I want to able to quite literally move inches for the other person. Help the other person with work, help them overcome their own biases, help me see a new way of being. And conversely, do all of this via them for me too.

I also want to drink up, have fun - announce my allegiance to them via a speech, but all of these - only as completely complementary aspects of our larger human connection.

Like today someone asked me - what am I to you? I wanted to answer - a lovely poem - but I guess the answer might not have made sense to that person. 

I remained mum.

3343 : Struggling to read longform

I am struggling to read longform, though not books.

Is it  a sign of times?

Very hard to read stuff - esp online. I try, for my own good. But mostly fail.

3342 : On the futility of trying

On my walk today, I did contemplate how I come across to others. Yeah - that's a fallout of confronting my own mortality (a sign of times!!).

My meditations were very bleak. 

I have my set of broken relationships. Will I manage to heal them? It looks more and more difficult - given my own inability to make inroads into broken conversations. Let me explain....its hard to bridge a mental or understanding gap when two people no longer think similarly. It's harder when, two people think differently, but don't consciously see it that way (the difference I mean).

In some cases, I know I have (or must have) mucked up. I am very capable :-) in that sense. I have mucked up, I have driven a wedge too, possibly. How do I cross the chasm?

Time and distance lend perspective. Definitely do. It's much harder though to use that perspective if you are unsure of that perspective.

Finally, (for today's walk), I did wonder - what is this world that I have constructed. I likened it to having created a mine trap myself (as a younger self) for my today's self. I am not equipped to solve this mine trap. I do want to solve it. I might not have the choice to leave it unresolved. This booby trap can work itself up in my face, into my soul.

Mortality is a strange catalyst :-).

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

3341 : I got hooked onto the first few lines...



by Rebecca Elson

Sometimes as an antidote

To fear of death,

I eat the stars.

Those nights, lying on my back,

I suck them from the quenching dark

Til they are all, all inside me,

Pepper hot and sharp.

Sometimes, instead, I stir myself

Into a universe still young,

Still warm as blood:

No outer space, just space,

The light of all the not yet stars

Drifting like a bright mist,

And all of us, and everything

Already there

But unconstrained by form.

And sometime it’s enough

To lie down here on earth

Beside our long ancestral bones:

To walk across the cobble fields

Of our discarded skulls,

Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,

Thinking: whatever left these husks

Flew off on bright wings.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

3340 : Lost

As I grapple with these times and the immense sense of loss, I also feel low - down and sometimes completely gearless. Neutral as they would say for a car. And unless I am facing downhill - the car won't move on its own, but think again, if it's downhill and steep slope - being in neutral is your ultimate death wish.

There is also a feeling that I am losing friends. Literally and figuratively. I am losing my sense of rudder with them. 

I am struggling as I confront my own mortality - and possibly of those around me. It feels like an NDE (near-death experience).

Yet, it also feels bizarrely calm. The calm that comes from knowing that I have to walk this road, till the end of the road. I have to. If I don't, I will be forever moored in this make-believe cul de sac.

I am at a complete loss to make conversation with friends, loved ones. I see myself as someone who is withdrawing inwards. Into the shell of my own echo chamber.

Nothing seems clear on a day like today. And yet, it still feels real - more real than other possibilities.

Lost and without a compass....this story does not begin till I reach the end of this road.

3339 : Faraway place

Do not go far! they say as they bury me

Where, if not faraway, is my place?

Malik Ibn Al Rayb

Monday, May 17, 2021

3338 : Timor

I feel strangely very low. I feel the stillness in my surrounding, and yet I also sense the timor (tremor) in my heart. My mind is restless.

Time seems to be moving steadily ahead. Days, weeks, months eat away - and yet the moth is not returning into the caterpillar. Does time work in reverse too? Then why caterpillar?

There is a flutter in the air. And there is a storm in the sky. And as all of its lands - there is rain. Immense rain. Rain that sometimes lashes, and at most other times simply ebbs away.

The flow is receding.

3337 : What have I lost.....

Another fascinating poem that came in via Twitter. Loved it. The pain of lost land is real. It feels real. Read Agha Shahid Ali (my most favorite author). The entire collection is about love, loss, and longing.

This one is straight-up there.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

3336 : Dil Jalane Ki Baat from The Reluctant Fundamentalist

 I love this version - as much as the Farida Khanum version

3335 : The joy of everyday

So I am walking today, and I see this delivery driver....(one of those custom deliverers)...maybe for Amazon, possibly, since he was not wearing any specific brand shirt.

He had parked his vehicle. And he is talking into a video call. But....wait....not talking. Gesticulating.

Really fast and really fluently.

He is essentially either deaf himself or is talking to someone who is deaf....and someone who he knows intimately enough - for him to have practiced so fluently.

It was remarkable - as I saw him for a good 20-30 seconds. Smooth and clear he communicated.

Am unsure how to explain, but just watching this - gave me such immense joy.

I was smiling just watching the scene.

Gives me immense hope.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

3334 : Sayonee by Junoon (and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) from Coke Studio

All of us like the original Sayonee from the 90s. We love it.

And then there is the coke studio version - with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and it's so much more fun.

Friday, May 14, 2021

3333 : Poem by Fiaz Ahmed Fiaz

I stay away from politics. I have friends from Palestine and Israel both. I don't think that this cross violence will mean anything good in the long term. 


This poem moved me immensely. Came in via Twitter. 

3332 : Scooter to nowhere

I have started walking regularly nowadays (more on that later).

I usually find a slot in the morning to walk. Okay, let's picture this.

I am in Mumbai. It's lockdown time. I live in a large apartment complex with over 4000 families (approx).....and yet the density on the internal roads is low. Not too many people walking or driving. We have a ring road (around 1.6kms) - and that's the road that I walk on.

Most of the time the company is stray dogs - and sometimes dog walkers.

So far, with me?

So most mornings, I see this person sitting on his Activa. This Activa is parked outside one of the buildings in the complex. I believe it must be his (or some connection) since he sits on the same Activa every day. This Activa is on the center stand. So it's stationary. This man is old - possibly in his late 40s or 50s. He is slightly portly (akin to a beer belly). He wears an old T-shirt with a collar and usually blue colored shorts. 

I walk for a good amount of time. And through this walk - he is sitting alone on his Activa. No phone, no one around him, no mask too..he is twiddling his thumbs. He looks at his own hands introspectively. At other times I see him sitting with his eyes closed. 

That's all. That's his routine. 

And in these modern times - this intrigues me immensely. He does not check his phone even once during this time. 

Is this meditation? Looks like.

3331 : Reading List 2021 : #5 My Heart by Semezdin Mehmoodinovic

Easily one of the finest books I have read in my life. A book I might visit again and again and again. Such a humbling book. Such an endearing book.

It's about an author and how he confronts his own health challenges - and his wife's dementia. And his honest (and such an adorable) relationship with his son. And all of this against the backdrop of him being a Bosnian refugee.

If I could, (and I will) gift this book to many of my friends. Read and be totally awed. If there was a way I would fall for an author, it has to be a book like this.

As I always say, on a scale of 10 - this book is 18 :-)

At 225 pages brings my 2021 total to 1107 pages.

This book made me hugely introspective. I cannot but look inwards and see the grime of my own multitudes....and yet realize, this is all I have. This is I shall ever be. Me.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

3330 : Victory vs defeat

 Came in via Twitter (via Pico Iyer's Handle). This fits my today (literally today) so perfectly.

“Once you know the details of a victory,” noted Sartre, in 1951, “it’s hard to distinguish it from a defeat.”

3329 : Heroes fall

 As we see our heroes crumble in the past two years. One by one, their bigotry or just complete assery is being revealed.

The past two years I have consecrated more people to an infinite banishment, than I must have ever done.

I also see my own inside growl and possibly fail, and I remember this quote from Dark Knight....

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. 

3328 : Crash into me by Dave Matthews Band

 Some of the most intriguing poetry out there. And of course the progressive jazz music.

You've got your ball
You've got your chain
Tied to me tight tie me up again
Who's got their claws
In you my friend
Into your heart I'll beat again

3327 : There is war in my head

There is a war right now in my head.

A simple war - one that goes on till there is only one left standing.

This war seems to be forever.

3326 : Dad who loves cricket

I have this vivid memory of my father - almost 42 - very ill. He had taken a break from work for over 3 weeks. He was ill with Asthama.

And in those days, some test matches playing out. At 7, I did not understand much of cricket. So I not interested in the DD channel. 

We have a black and white television.

Since he is at home, I don't have to be at the daycare (yay!!).

He feeds me, gets me ready for school and a local help would drop 7-8 students to school. (I remember help's name) - Patkar "uncle" - he one cycle - and he would make 4-5 kids hop on it, and if he could not drive, he would walk all the way (pushing the cycle) till school.

I can visualize those days vividly. And I do silently thank my parents every single day. They were the best one could hope for.

3325 : Take Five

I rarely fidget with my Spotify, unless its when I am discovering new songs. I let the playlist play God.

At this moment - though I searched for "The Dave Brubeck Quartet's Take Five". 

Needed that for my now.

3324 : You assume

You assume that certain aspects of the world are entrenched in deep trust based bonds. As an example - that I will never disrespect or care less for my mother. Never. I mean that should be broadly not even up for debate.

Or that, someone, will help when you reach out. Someone whom you trust and believe in.

When something like this belief falls flat on its face, it hurts. I do realize that the definitions of our social contracts keep changing/keep evolving - and in some cases, they actually devolve.

And I realised that my contract is drowning. It felt like drowning :-(

3323 : Pins

Someone I know lost someone dear to him.
It feels intensely personal. I kind of had gotten to know the person(who is gone) in the past few weeks. I have been distracted for the past few hours. Trying to work, and still unable to hold attention.

The world feels like it is closing in.

The music system is singing "Madari - by Vishal Dadlani" - what an apt song at this moment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

3322 : Artist can do no wrong

Some artists can do no wrong. For me - Salman Rushdie was one of them. Arundhati Roy is another one of them. Milan Kundera is another....

In music I have a huge list. Dave Matthews Band is one of them....someday I shall share the rest.

But I would put Nandini Srikar on this list. (She is a singer).
Can she do anything wrong ? (That's a rhetoric question)

3321 : Random kindness

I have been blessed with many people being very kind to me - in my life - some who had no reason to be.

I never forget at least the named ones (the ones I knew, and know). I hold them in my gratitude every single day.

They are the ones who help chug the wheel of this planet.

That's the post.

3320 : Reading List 2021 : #4 Livewired by David Eagleman

Love most of David Eagleman.

This book is such a gem. Highly recommended to anyone who has any interest in how our brains learn and function.

A totally engaging read. Images from Twitter

At 320 pages, brings my 2021 total to 882 pages.

3319 : Reading List 2021 #3 : Haruki Murakami Absolutely on Music (with Seiji Ozawa)

Finished reading Murakami's Absolutely on Music, and loved the book - though I honestly did not understand much of the book. Seriously, it's such a nuanced take on western classical music. 

I wish I had 10% of the erudition or even 1% of his knowledge of music.

Fascinating book - do read. If nothing else you will listen to western classical more attentively in the future.

Brings my 2021 reading total to 562 pages.

Images from vinyloftheday

3318 : Preference Cascade 2

I was talking to someone about this (refer to my previous post).

I don't mean to say the right wing is bad (well that may be my opinion)....but that's beside the point.....the real point I was making is - now that its safe to be openly right-wing .....we have a real window to our culture and society.

And this is what Modiji is harnessing. And that is why it's important to recognize this as an essential dance of the kind of "democracy" we have chosen, and hence to respect him and the process. We might disagree with him but makes no sense to me - to disrespect him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

3317 : Preference Cascade

I wrote of this recently here.

In recent years the right-wing has reveled in its newfound status. Be it Hungary, India, Russia, or even the US.

My point is - what happened in the last 10 years? Similar to the Arab Spring.

We got WA and Twitter (which is nothing but an echo chamber)....WA is definitely an echo chamber....Echo chambers are the best tools/weapons for preference reveal/and hence preference cascade.

While most of us think WA and Social Media think hugely benefited us (I totally disagree and hate these tools in most sane moments) day when history is written - hopefully someone shall count our countries as collateral from these preference cascades.

3316 : Rock and Roll Renegade

I grew up listening to Indian Rock, since "foreign" rock was so hard to come back. One of my favorite songs remains - Rock and Roll Renegade by Rock Machine.

And its still is such a taut song.

Listen to it.

Of course you have Uday Benegal and Mahesh Tinaikar. What times.

3315 : Of 6 year olds

 I was telling my daughter this story yday, of course I made this funny and wreaked havoc. She laughed and laughed.

On an existential level - I am struck by the thought - who even remembers Peter today - does anyone at all?

Peter - gone too soon.

3314 : My echo chamber

When I am in another room/another time zone - I tell myself - one day when I meet you - I shall tell you this and that. I do want to speak, I do want to share, I do want to repair the damage that I have caused. In my distance, I have this single-willed belief, that it will eventually all uptick again.

And then I meet you - and in the first few seconds, something in me evaporates. It's nothing that you do - it's more me. (It's not you, it's me :-)). My courage, my hope, my optimism - all take flight.

There has to be a name for this condition. For now - I shall call this Moral Kombat :-) 

3313 : Herb Alpert's Rise

I am sure I have posted on this recently. One of my all-time favorite compositions is Herb Alpert's Rise. It takes me (always) to a point and time when I was younger - full of hope, ambition, and a simple belief - that it will always work out.

Over years, the cynical me has replaced a large part of me, but this song takes me to that unfettered state.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

3312 : Am regressing....definitely....

I have started liking and stealing my daughter's fav drink "Mogu Mogu" from Thailand - it's a fruit juice-based drink with coconut jelly in it.

I am loving it.

3311 : Someone estranged

Someone who was once a good friend of mine - and is now completely estranged - is in ICU - ill and battling for recovery.

I tried reaching out multiple times, I genuinely tried. I wanted to repair it.

And yet - nothing moved an inch.

However this ends - there will be an open thread in this universe - and strangely I am reconciled to it. I do wish him recovery, years of happiness - and do still wish to reconnect.

3310 : Cotard's syndrome

When a living person is fully convinced that he/she is actually dead.
They are so fully convinced that they speak of it with deep experiential conviction. 

3309 : Of Torches and Water (Rabia of Basra)

 From here, I learnt something....

Rabia al-Basri was a Sufi mystic that lived during the 8th century in Basra, Iraq. It is said that she would run through the streets of the city at night, with a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other because she wanted to set Paradise ablaze and douse the fires of Hell. For Rabia, love for God ought to be the driving force for a Muslim, rather than fear of Hell or desire for Heaven’s rewards. For this reason, she wanted to destroy these distractions, which prevented people from worshipping out of a pure love for God. A genuine love for God is a characteristic that is often used define what it means to be a Muslim.

3308 : Memory vs us

 Fascinating read from Washington Post

By the end, after weeks of sorting, I finally settled on what to keep, what to say goodbye to. As I lost the clutter, in return, I gained clarity. I found solace in finally understanding that stuff and memories were two very different things. And the memory of my mother was something that could never be thrown away, because it lived inside me.


Saturday, May 08, 2021

3307 : Preference Cascade and Falsification

I learned two things today. From Wikipedia

Essentially Preference Falsification is

Preference falsification is the act of communicating a preference that differs from one's true preference. The public frequently convey, especially to researchers or pollsters, preferences that differ from what they truly want, often because they believe the conveyed preference is more acceptable socially. 

And Preference Cascade is

In short, average people behave the way they think they ought to, even though that behavior might not reflect their own personal feelings. Given a sufficient "A-HA!" moment when they discover that their personal feelings are shared by a large portion of the population their behavior may change dramatically. An example of this is the British colonists before and after publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. A year before the Declaration of Independence, America was full of patriotic British convinced that things could be worked out with King George, but on July 4, 1776 the colonies were full of Americans determined that they needed independence. Another is the relatively recent "Arab Spring."

3306 : Twitter Spaces 2

Join any random Twitter Space.

It's illustrative of how weak our critical thinking skills are. Critical thinking is abysmal for a representative upper caste privileged category in India (which is usually the folks on Twitter). 

Come out of the space - disappointed and with a reality check which hurts.

3305 : Twitter Spaces

I am exploring Twitter Spaces. 

The audio quality is very patchy, but the format is fun.

3304 : The lost art of conversation

I realize - that I am slowly losing my ability to remain involved in a chat. I drift away. Maybe it's a challenge of these times.

These times have been hard and weird on me. I am seeing friends, family and some fast ones struggle.

I would be lying - if I said I am not struggling. It's possible in the middle of a chat - my larger sense of helplessness overwhelms me. Possible - have to introspect more.

Friday, May 07, 2021

3303 : Am I better than him?

My car has been cleaned by the same person for over 9 years now. I have helped him in some small ways in the past - like bought him a phone, booked him a train ticket, paid for some medicine.....very tiny things.

Yesterday he calls me and tells me, "Sir, I am sending my child back home." (home is Orissa). I ask him why, and he says Corona worries him.

Fair enough. Then he says, this "sending back" happening next week or so - so he wants me to see his son, tomo (as in today). 

I am intrigued, I am like "why?". He says, "He needs to see you."

"Okay, how old is your son?"

"2 years, 6 months".

I am like, "Ok, fair enough".

Today he calls me at 11 from the lobby. My wife picks up the phone, and he explains the situation to her too. Now she tells me "Sanjiv wants you to go down and meet him. Wants you to bless his son." (What?)

As I am ready to go down, she says - he might need some money - carry a few hundred - to give him for his son. 

I carry some money and go down. He says "Sir, bless my son."

I am aghast. I tell him - look I want his son to be always happy, but I am no one to bless him. He tells me, he wants his son to be like me. I say, of course, he will be much better than all of us.

He continues, he tells me, please bless him - touch his crown.

I relent. I then give him the money - he refuses to take it. He says it's about blessing, not money. I tell him, it's ok, buy some sweets or clothes.

He finally takes the money. I found the gesture sweet.

But I also know in my heart - that I am no better than him. I am just another human being with a little more luck (and privilege) than he has. I shudder to think that he actually thinks of me as some sort of role model.

Money or luck should not define a better human being.

3302 : Listening to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane


3301 : You vs the sky

 (came in via twitter)

My lover asks me: "What is the difference between me and the sky?" The difference, my love, Is that when you laugh, I forget about the sky. - Nizar Qabbani

Thursday, May 06, 2021

3300 : Fountainhead

 From Wild Word: Four Tamil Poets   

The more you confine me, the more I will spill over.

Nature's Fountainhead.

3299 : Leaky boat

My family is right-wing. They always have been. I am not ashamed or alarmed by it, they are entitled to their views and their ideology. They grew up in a time and era, where they possibly saw immense trauma from the "centrists" of today.

I was talking to my mom today. And she tells me - in these exact words - that we should banish or PMs and CMs, they have created a leaky boat. They will not be able to stop the flooding. I did not prompt her, neither did I coax her.

This was spontaneous. But....hold on...she also said....Modiji cannot be blamed for this, because the virus is not in our control. Its God's will.

I left the chat with mixed emotions  - I usually try and never influence my friends or family - unless they open the door and say "speak to me about your views" - which is almost rare to never.

The boat though according to her is long gone. Its no longer above water.

3298 : Wisdom of the goats

 Found this gem on Twitter....

“If there was wisdom in beards, all goats would be Prophets.” ― Armenian Proverb.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

3297 : The other person

Since childhood, I have always been intrigued by this thought - what if I am the other person, and the other person is me?

This is a recursive problem that collapses with a race condition. Seriously.

I saw the Swiggy person and the exact thought crossed my mind - what if I was him, and he was me?

Life is just a fking random probability Russian roulette, where I have lucked out.

3296 : The nature of privilege

I often get into hair-splitting, where someone talks to me - and asks me - what exactly is a privilege.

My simple definition - privilege is usually what you don't see, or notice. As an example, if you don't care for politics, that is a privilege; you drive in a car, but never realize it's there, that's a privilege; you are educated but don't realize that education is a boon, that's a privilege......

The nature of privilege is to downplay it, and reinforce it.

For example - being vegetarian (exerting a choice) is a privilege. Exerting any sort of choice is usually a privilege, and being vegetarian is definitely one. Usually, the vegans who preach (like some special kind of a**holes on Twitter), are so blissfully unaware of the world around them - of the plight of their own people - that they will exhort a choice (not as just as a simple bar table debate, which I am kind of okay with), but rather with the gusto of "wrong" vs "right". My response (if I ever take that effort to respond) will be STFU.

Exerting a choice like that, and reinforcing it, is the very nature of privilege.

I am a vegetarian too (broadly except for eggs and fish oil....which means I a complete meat-eater :-)), but I recognize that other people don't have choices. They have food, which they have to eat. That's it, simple arithmetic. 

3295 : Me vs them

Today I was walking downstairs in my apartment complex. It was fairly hot and humid. Mumbai at about 38 degrees. Get the drift?

As I am walking, I see a bike (Swiggy) park at the main gate and walk up to my wing to deliver a package. He has not removed his helmet, and he is wearing a mask on the inside.

As I looked into those eyes, I realized that he probably has a 10 time harder job than mine, with probably  10x lower pay. So a 100x difference between our conditions.

I still spend a decent amount of monies on groceries, rent, cars, and the ilk. I realized that I have such a good life.

The swiggy driver, it's possible, is where he is, because of lack of opportunity and lack of privilege.

His t-shirt was fully sweat-drenched, and he soon walked back to the gate and drove off.

I would not last in his job for more than an hr....and yet he does what he does, day in, day out....optimistic that tomorrow is another good day.

Thats the post.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

3294 : Brahma vs Vishnu

So I am talking to my 10-year-old, and she is a terror.

She refuses to read unless it's on her terms. Now she has taken to reading ACK (Amar Chitra Katha) on a prodigious basis....and the best part is she seems to remember very complex stories (like Mahabharata with its 100+ characters) seems to remember them well.

So she is talking to me the other day. And this is how our chat goes.

She: Have been reading stories about Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva.

Me: Good. And.....

S: It's funny (that's the phrase she uses!!).

M: Why? (I am intrigued)

S: Brahma's only job is to give random people boons.

M: Hmmmm (listening)

S: He gives boons to completely evil folks. And then Vishnu has to come in and solve the issue always.

M: Always?

S: Yes. Without Brahma - half of mythology ACK won't exist.

At this point, I burst out laughing. Honestly, I had never made this strange observation. It's right, she is correct?

3293 : Hawa Hawa Coke Studio version

I do like the Coke Studio version. It's so much fun to see Hassan Jahangir have a ball and dance on the very song that made him a one-hit-wonder 30 years ago.

The whole studio energy is so infectious.

3292 : Hawa hawa vs Kutty Pattas

I have been listening to Kutty Pattas often - its a fun song.

For whatever reason - the tune gets mixed up in my head - and it sounds like Hawa Hawa by Hassan Jehangir.

I wish to say (maybe same pattern of notes), but I am too tone deaf for that.

Do you folks see this too?

Monday, May 03, 2021

3291 : This too shall pass

This too shall pass - I keep telling myself that.

I also keep telling myself, that every day post the battles, the sun will set. And tomo new battles await us.

I am not sure on days like today. I really am not sure.

I am not sure (on a day like today) - what we are fighting for, what am I fighting for, who are we fighting against, and truly why are even fighting - why not give up?

3290 : This is the time

I was talking to a friend about his friend - someone whose both parents were knocked ill by covid.

Both parents passed away - back to back on the same day. This is the second such example I have heard in the last 2 weeks.

This feels personal - we tried to help a bit.....but in reality, did not manage to move an inch. 

The tether is out. The sinker is in.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

3289 : The last smoke

I was talking to someone who has lost someone. This was earlier this year to covid. This was when the protocols were still very range bound and some sense was being followed. 

She was telling me of how they could not meet the loved one in the last days (as he lay in the ICU). They were allowed to chat via a smartphone - but looks like he could not meaningfully respond much. His eyes, she specifically said, she thought showed some recognition. For most other times (when he was not on calls), when they would peep into his world via a small square window on the door - they could see him with eyes closed. Very rarely with eyes open. And if his eyes were open, they were staring into the blank ceiling.

Eventually, he succumbed despite the ICU and the oxygen support. If I remember her right, after about 17 odd days of struggle and almost being semi-comatose (at least he could not eat or speak or emote normally).

In those early days (let's say Feb), the human body was not handed over to the family - but was arranged to be cremated by the state. She said - she clearly remembers the journey from the hospital to the designated cremation ground. It was a short 5km drive, but felt like an enormity.

They were not allowed to have a peek at the deceased person. Counting that day, they had not met him in person for about 18 odd days - almost. They were allowed, though, to look at the pile from about 30 feet away. He was completely covered in sheets. They were also allowed to incant and conduct rituals from far.

Eventually, as he lay on the pyre, they could see the body from far again (as it lay burning). She told me - she stood there for a good 10 odd minutes watching this spectacle. She could not, not see. She wanted to see him one last time - closely and attentively. Of course, this was metaphorical - since all, she could see was the flames.

She told me as she started eventually walking away, she also saw the smoke from the chimney. And a thought struck her - which made her chuckle a bit.

He loved his cigarettes and smokes.

3288 : I am feeling lucky

Because if you don't know how lucky you are, then you are really out of luck. Enjoy it all, even unthinkingly.

Singer in the night by Olja C

Saturday, May 01, 2021

3287 : Dying Vs sleeping

If dying was the same as falling asleep, perhaps people would be nicer to each other and there would be fewer problems in our lives. Because life could be good and simple it people did not complicate it for each other. And the number of heart attacks and strokes would diminish....

From Semezdin Mehmoodinovic's My Heart

3286 : Amnesia

When Harun and I turned up last year in front of "our" apartment in Phoenix, nothing happened, not a single sign that the place recognized us. Not only people, but places can experience amnesia.

From Semezdin Mehmoodinovic's My Heart

3285 : Living another person's dream

Nevertheless, she has trouble believing that it really happened to hear, because she doesn't remember the event itself. She keeps experiencing that state when we wake in the morning and try in vain to recall the dream of the night before. Or the other way around, as though everything is a dream from which she will wake at any moment. As though, she's imprisoned in someone else's dream.

From Semezdin Mehmoodinovic's My Heart.

3284 : Writing

Head is brimming with a few ideas. Want to find time and go back to writing.

Coming soon.

3283 : Keep walking

I have been walking ( I mean physical walking) for some time every single day, just to get my baseline back.

I am struggling with war around me. As I said before, I will not back off from this war - even if it burns my core - I will only immerse further. 

My simple refrain to myself - if this time I choose to stay locked in (either metaphorically or figuratively), if that's what I do - I will forever struggle with the concept of me, from thereon.

3282 : Friends are broken

Some of my dearest friends are breaking down. (literally and figuratively).

This is what the fog of war possibly feels like.