Saturday, December 26, 2015

2277 : The angry sea

We sometimes internalise another's way of looking at the world.

So as an example, I have this friend - who almost everytime we pass by the ocean (in Mumbai) - he says "The bloody ocean is angry", and when I have asked "why" a few times - the sardonic answer is because "she is restrained", "you have built land on her frayed edges".

Yesterday and today as I drove past the worli-south mumbai ocean, it occurred to me, my friend is indeed right. I could see the "sea being angry", lashing at us - almost growling, almost irritated.

Am I seeing the world through my friend's eyes. Maybe yes, but I am glad - because today the "bloody ocean was indeed frothing".

Friday, December 25, 2015

2276 : When the will falters

This has been a wasted year for Arjuna. Dwaithavana did not require him to use his sniping skills, and though he indulged himself in a hunt every now and then, it was never going to replace the battles of the real world.

In this past year, his efficacy had been faltering. He tried to take help from his brothers and then from the local seer. "More practice" and "better reflexes" was what he was reminded of.

Months passed, he spent three hrs every morning, honing his own skills...and yet he himself knew not an inch had moved. He was driving retrograde.

Finally, the local seer told him, "Arjuna, you have struggled for months. I have a suggestion - make a visit to the great seer, Kailasa in the Himalayas. He is the One who can make even a broken arrow heal itself. Go, he is the one that the wind is sailing towards."

Arjuna bowed, prostrated at his feet, and next morning proceeded on his month long journey to the North. The high peaks of the Himalayas were a North Star in themselves.

Reaching the mount, finding Kailasa was not difficult at all. The birds, the monkeys and even the local seers knew exactly where he was based.

The first night, Arjuna shacked up at the foot of the hills. Thakshak, the giant snake from Kuber's land, made an unannounced visit in the form of a dream, and warned him - "Finding Kailasa is easy, but you cannot break his meditation. It can sometimes take a 100 years before he opens his eyes. In the flux of his meditation, the massive forces of the universe are being balanced and repositioned. If you disturb him, it could wish armageddon upon us."

The morning Sun woke him up, and he remembered the encounter with Thakshak. By afternoon he was at Kailasa's feet. As described to him, Kailasa was a picture of stillness - so much so that moss had engulfed part of his feet and hair. His face though was clear and radiated not just life, but the colossal cosmic energy that he carried on his shoulders.

From the looks of it, he had probably been mediatating for years already. How long before his spell broke?

No one knew that. Arjuna setup camp near the hermit's stasis. Every morning he would wake up, practice just like he would do back in the forest, and then sit at the foot of the seer waiting for him to open his eyes.

Months passed. Arjuna's game still deteriorated. Meanwhile, he was losing hope that the seer would ever open his eyes, within his (Arjuna's) lifetime. That thought combined with the hope of a magic bullet from the seer, and now the receding possibility of it - killed his life force further.

Four months into the wait, one morning the seer stirred. Arjuna knew this was the day. Mid-day as the sun shone bright, Kailasa opened his eyes. They were like laser, and yet calm and encouraging, they were like icy, and yet warm and welcoming. The moss from his hair melted away.

It took Kailasa less than a moment to grasp the current reality. Appearing as if he had aware (and awake) all along, he benevolently smiled at Arjuna.

Arjuna bowed and lowered his eyes.

After a few moments of reverent silence, Arjuna said "Lord, I come here to seek help. I am Arjuna- Drona's disciple- he has anointed me the greatest archer in the world, but I am steadily losing my edge. I have been told you are the only one who can help me get my mojo back."

Kailasa smiled again, still exactly like a father would at his son and said, "O Archer, I can see a mango tree in the far distance. Can you shoot down the third mango from the top - it appears ripe and tempting."

Arjuna quivered. The tree was really quite far away, and he was nervous. He could not even see the mango well, if he missed - he would fail in Lord Kailasa's eyes.

With the movements of his eyes, Kailasa goaded him. Arjuna bowed, closed his eyes, focussed and shot the arrow. In the blink of an eye, the target was hit, and the mango fell down. A young rabbit scurried towards it to fetch it back for Kailasa.

Arjuna was elated, he could not believe his shot. He beamed like a baby. Before he had even finished smiling, Kailasa spoke again "While the rabbit brings it, can you shoot a leaf off the short banana tree above my head. We can use the leaf as a plate for the mango."

Arjuna was stunned. The banana leaf was so close, he could have plucked it by hand. He could have shot this leaf when he had just started learning at the age of five from Drona. Today he was on a roll.

And yet, out of respect he bowed and he shot. And.....he missed.

He could not trust his eyes. He looked at Kailasa in complete disbelief.

Kailasa looked at him, and said, "Oh looks like the rabbit is almost there (at the foot of the hill). I dont mind another mango. Why dont you should the other one near the top too. He will get both of them along."

As requested, Arjuna shot this time again into the far tree. And to his complete shock, he hit the mango again.

Kailasa said, "O archer, great work. We still dont have the banana leaf, can you try again."

Arjuna again missed. Befuddled he feel at the hermit's feet.

"Lord, what is happening?"

Kailasa said "You are the greatest archer, you should know. Did Drona not train you well?"

"Lord, I need your help. Tell me what am I missing".

"You are the greatest archer, because the universe aligns to you. Not the other way around."

"Lord, what does that mean?"

"The arrow(s) you shot towards the mango wanted to help me to be fed. It wanted to bring the mango down. And lo, you become the sharp shooter. The ones you shot at the tree above, did not feel interested in plucking a banana leaf. And you missed your target. So as an example, unless your arrows want you to succeed, you will not win."

"Lord, does that mean, I control nothing. The arrows will decide my fate?"

"Archer Arjuna, you control everything. The world is a function of only one thing....Intention. The way you and I can surface our intention is by Focus. And the only way you can bring Focus into your game is by having a deep Longing. Focus is nothing but a longing."

Kailasa paused and then added, "Longing - my dear archer I cannot give you. I cannot impart that to you. Longing comes from an internal passion. The passion which says, either the arrow brings the mango down or it rips the heart apart."

In what appeared like moments - Arjuna bowed and contemplated on this.

When he looked up - the seer was deep in meditation. The moss foliage was back on his hair, exactly as he had earlier seen it, almost as if the past few moment was nothing more than a whistler dream.

He bowed, packed up and left. The journey was now going to be the lesson.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2275 : The touching game

"Will you please stop trying to feel me up?" she said with a sardonic smile.

"Whaaaaaat?" he asked with a grin.

"I said stop groping me."

"I have not touched you at all."

"You have. You keep asking me such deeply personal questions."

"Don't answer them. I have always told you, you can refuse any of my questions.", with a pause, he further added "and how the f is this connected to inappropriately touching you."

"Did I say 'inappropriately'?"

"Either your english is effed up or mine is. When did 'groping' become acceptable?"


"Beside the point, how is asking questions related to feeling you up?"

"When you ask me those intense questions, it feels as if you were trying to caress me.", she said with a mischievous smile.


"Those questions make the exact same impression on my soul, as your paws on my body." with that she guffawed loudly.

2274 : Time to heal

That morning, as Draupadi looked at Yudhistra she knew that he had been weeping. As they sat wordlessly sipping the hot tulsi tea, she looked at him with the respect that one accords the eldest in the family, and slowly spoke.

"Dharmaraja, how long will you continue to wallow in your pain? You think you have made mistakes. I know you have made mistakes. Your brothers think often about the mistakes too. And yet...unlike them, you seem to be consumed by this endless meditation, of what could have been? Am I reading you wrong? I can see your eyes. It looks like they did not sleep a wink, and conversely they probably leaked a complete ocean. Why?"

"My dear Panchali, I am a victim of my own little multiplicity. I am responsible for what I have become. I look at my life and realise how easy it was for me to be happy, to keep all of you happy - and yet, how easily I have brought all of you to the brink of this forest. My wayward ways have brought this upon all of you. Can I reverse a day of my madness? Can I put the hand on my heart and claim to true to my dharma?"

"Dear Raja, more than dharma, this is our karma. Is it not? You chose to gamble. We chose to be on your side. I could have asked for the entire world back, when I was given the option, and yet, in my anger, I frothed like the Goddess and almost cursed them. Are we all not responsible for what we have become? And yet, I want to fight this nihilism off, my own fatalism off - I look forward to being the Queen one day. And for that one day, I will live everyday today, and I will learn everyday to move another inch towards winning. Winning the world, the land, the "us" and most importantly the "me" back from from this life. Thats what keeps me going."

"Panchali, you are wise. I wish I had your wisdom and poise. I have neither. I am on the frayed edges of time."

"Raja, you are becoming more and more inward. You are becoming a magnet for unhappiness. Its almost as if you are so looking forward to be being unhappy. You seek the worst in me, the worst in yourself, the worst within us, the worst within the situation and then infinitely rehash and meditate on me. Start the process of winning back your inches."

"Sweetheart, I am built like that. I need to meditate on these matters, to know the subtle nuances of each aspect of dharma that I have flouted. This meditation is my punishment and is an essential part of my recuperation."

After a long wistful pause, he further added "The healing you are referring to can start anytime. Healing starts whenever we are ready. Unfortunately I am not ready yet."

2273 : 45 years - the movie

I read this review with riveted attention. As I read through it, I wished more and more that I had written this screen play. (Yes I do have a penchant to convert stories to screen play). 

Read and be enthralled. I liked the passage where the lead male protagonist says

He knows age and illness has taken its toll, and he was prepared for a quiet last innings - until the arrival of the letter seems to change something in him. "She'll look like she did in 1962 - and I'll look... like this!" he announces with something like disgust. 

2272 : Ek Din Achanak - related to the previous posts

Just to complete the series of posts, in what can be easily misunderstood to be nihilism or escapism - here is one last of my favorites. This is about a movie called Ek Din Achanak.

In this movie, a professor, goes out one morning on his regular routine and just disappears off the face of the earth.

Whether he is kidnapped, murdered or has he just escaped is left to complete conjecture.

But as the family begin to piece together his last days, months and years - they begin to startling realise aspects of his life, which they had completely not noticed.

Its a classic. I saw this way back in 1993 (in my teens) and till today this movie seems like a harbinger of urban isolation and loneliness.

Do watch if you get a chance.

2271 : Silence

I have posted on this a million times (exaggeration) already. On a day like today (and like many others in my past), all I crave for is undisturbed silence.

Physical. Mental. Vocal. Peace. Silence.

My desire to escape is "complete"and "overpowering".

2270 : My own review of Disgrace is outstanding :-)

Hey folks, sorry for being the narcissistic me, but read this. I wrote this 14 years ago, and I am completely and utterly proud of "the me" from then.

Read....Please do. 

2269 : David Lurie from JM Coetzee's Disgrace

The other character that I relate to completely (from within fiction) is David from JM Coetzee's Disgrace.

Here is the quick summary of David (I am writing from memory so excuse my errors)
- A good successful professor at a South African College.
- He falls in love with a student (which clearly is a taboo there).
- He not only has a passionate affair, but he also helps her falsify her grades.
- At one point because of pressure from her father and boyfriend, she accuses him of rape.
- Instead of defending himself, David accepts all of it upon himself - to the point that one inch at a time - his life rapidly begins to unwind.
- He loses his job, his respect, his credibility - inshort his complete integration into society.

And instead of fighting back, David chooses to accept the collective judgement thrust upon him and he walks away. He almost makes it look like "if this is the price I had to pay for doing what I thought was right at that point, then I am willing to pay the price. I would rather accept my fate, than live by your rules."

He never actually says anything like this, he never rationalizes his behavior for us through the book, but you can see it if you read between the lines.

In the last 15 years I have truly become like David, I will not fight to fit into a world - whose rules I might inherently not agree. Everytime I am faced with such a dilemma, I always accept the judgement and walk away.

It makes me more and more on the fringe, but it also makes me more and more sharper, clearer that the world I belong to will grind me to coarse earth in its attempt to make me fit in, and I, owe this responsibility to my own cells - I need to be true to myself, more than fitting in.

We all die alone, and when I die - in those last moments I do want to look back and feel that I lived a life of honor, that I was honest to myself, never compromised on my own values, and I never bend to fit in. If at that moment, I can recall any incident where I had bend over, I will die a very unhappy man.

2268 : Malik Solanka from Fury re-visted in real life

There are a few times when you see a movie, or read a book, or a piece a music, that intensely resonates with you - almost as if it were meant only for you.

When I first read Salman Rushdie's Fury in 2003, it immediately captivated me. Haunting me to a point where I felt the parallels between his life and mine were immense.

Since then I have read that book a total of about 7 times - and every time I am more sure that Malik is my doppleganger.

In summary here is what I relate to:
1) Upper middle aged Solanka is successful in his own right. By every benchmark he must be very happy, he lives in London - with a wife whom he very much loves and a kid that sounds adorable.
2) He makes enough money to make him appear noveau.
3) He is creative, full of life and is admired in the world.
4) And yet.....
5) One fine morning (which is when the story starts), he picks up his bags and flies off to NY - leaving his wife and kid behind. While he informs them later - where he is - he is sure he does not want to come back.
6) He loves his son, and very much wants to connect back with him (including the last very poetic and yet real scene of the book) - Aasman is the one that he really wishes to connect back.
7) He seems to love his wife too, just that his need for being alone overtakes all of his desires.
8) While he flits in and out of life, getting involved in with a lively girl, fighting a political battle - he never fully recovers becoming part of mainstream ever.
9) In the end, he is still lost, maybe a little wiser, but still very much lost.

In my head, Malik's over-arching need is for silence. To escape a world - which he built himself, but does not relate to anymore at all. He wants to make a fresh start, but life cannot offer him that choice at all - and hence he makes the best possible shot - escaping off to NY - to try and get close the "fresh start", almost steal it from the circumstance.

Most importantly Malik is real. Malik is possibly me.

Salman bhai, take a bow.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2267 : The other one

Its no secret, that Panchali never fully reconciled to the world of forests. While she did adjust and survive in Dwaithavana, she never fully soaked it into her skin.

The Queen Mother Kunti did not help the problem. She was one who held the Pandavas together with the proverbial iron shackle. To Draupadi, it did not feel like another woman or person in the room, it felt like the proverbial counterforce - the doppleganger who is not wanted or liked.

On the day of this tale, Draupadi (Panchali) was angry and upset about the state of her world, the anguish in her life and the wasteral nature of their ephemeral lives.

The King of Dharma returned late in the evening with a collection of fruits, vegetables and wild berries. He was tired, pensive and unfortunately did not feel very upbeat himself.

Yet...being the King of composure too...he silently unpacked the food from the banana leaf he had packed them in. One item at a time. As he doing so, he came across the pomegranate he had picked up in the afternoon. He looked at it wistfully, shined it off with his hand...looked again...shined it again....looked wistfully at a distant nothing....and then proceeded to keep it aside from the rest of the fruits he was unpacking.

Draupadi had caught him doing this. Her side glance distracted by his actions.

As he was unpacking the other fruits, he was preparing how to present this to Draupadi...he knew she was low, he could sense it, he wanted to perk her up, spike up her mood. He believed a rare unique pomegranate, might just be the catalyst that made her bubble over. He almost anticipated the eager look of delight and the bright smile of surprise which he hoped her face would morph into.

Unpacking done, he picked up the pomegranate and slowly trudged towards Draupadi. Without saying a word, he stretched his hand and offered the fruit to her, looking down (at the grass) and at her face alternatively.

In her bile infested mood, she asked him "Was this really meant for me?". As she spoke the fruit dribbled off her hand and fell to the floor.

"Why do you ask?"

"I saw you shine and contemplate over the fruit. I also saw you stealing side glances at Mother at the same time. Are you sure this is not meant for Mother Kunti?"

"Do you really believe that? Is that the first thing that struck you as I gave you this fruit?"

"Did you really mean this for me? You have to answer that first?", she said bosom heaving with anger.

"It now does not matter what I really meant.", saying that he picked up the fruit she had inadvertently let fall. He shined it by hand again. Purposedly walking towards the center of the shed, he placed it near the family dog.

"You still did not answer", she asked icily.

"It does not really matter now.", he repeated, without turning in her direction.

He prostrated to the dog, as if it were the family deity, and then proceeded to walk out of the shed. Silently he took a seat on the grass outside and stared at the sky.

The sky was full of stars. The crescent moon looked like it was scornfully smiling.

2266 : That girl with bouncy hair...

I visit a particular coffee shop at Powai often...and I do know that at a particular time everyday a strikingly noticable girl is around.

The first reason she always catches my eye, because she has great happy bouncy hair. Almost deliciously pixar like.

She also has a penchant for wearing some of the most classily fitted (one that what they are could not help me....the one where the top and the skirt and one piece like a LBD almost...) dresses. Its almost her signature style. Her own signature little style and she seems to so comfortable in her skin, its almost divine.

Now rarely I go into the coffee shop alone, its usually with someone I need to schmooze with. And yet....on the few occasions when I do, I do pause for a minute and steal a glance.

I don't think its either lust or infatuation, I honestly don't even want to get to know her (By now you know I am old 50 year old hag...with my teenage hormones long dead :-) hee haw:-)).

The reason I pause to look is more simple...admiration. Beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder and aesthetic beauty is most definitely even more in that zone.

To me there is something infinitely magical about having such a sense of grace and poise. There is also an ethereal quality of being "almost unreal" (like Mario brothers ha ha :-)) the extent in some of these examples I want to pinch myself.

This also brings me to my other fav everyday question? How can you form a view, admire, or think "good" of a person you have never known or met.

Be it Smita Patil. Or Sona Mahapatra. Or Arundhati Roy. Or Bouncy Hair :-)

Universe. Magic. Delivered.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2265 : Chand Tanha Hai by Meena Kumari

I like Meena Kumari singing Chand Tanha Hai. The lines are haunting, her voice is too. The poetry is mesmerizing. (She has written the words too).

Listen to it on yourtube at

rough initial translation

the lonely moon is cavorting the solitude of the sky,
I do bump into my lonely heart at completely unexpected places,
I have lost all desire, and even the shooting star has deserted (me),
I can feel tremors, is that my life quiverving?

2264 : Karthika Nair and her book Until the Lions

I have always wanted to write a poetic interpretation of Mahabharata, and one day I will.

Till then, I was pleasantly surprised to read Karthika Nair's Until the Lions.

Truth be told - I am a big fan of anyone with clarity and a sense of purpose. And she has oodles of it. She really has.

What I struggled with is sometimes her abstruse use of words and metaphors.

Poets, can be understood by reading their works. And hence they are essentially naked. If I were to apply that yardstick to her, at points she comes across as wannabe.

And yet, and not to take away from her real coup de grace, she is brilliant, full of purpose and outstanding. At times her poems and imagery are brutal. Miss Nair, take a heartfelt bow.

From her book a sample which I really liked

Before a battle,
grow inwards, like root and rock:
shred eyes, ears; shred words.
Let us speak, your skin to mine.
Touch alone scores memory.

Touch alone will survive

2263 : One more on Smita

I have often wondered, what does it take for people of entitlement (folks who are born into riches, or wealth, or access to right resources) to not achieve what they want to.

And yet, I often find that children of entitlement usually don't achieve much (even as compared to the median), forget even comparing them to their parents or achievers in the family.

Smita was an entitled child by every measure. And she could choose whatever she wanted to. She was also of modest looks and gait.

And she did make choices. Strange ones. But every single one of them made her real, alive, one amongst us and a standout amongst us humans.

She acted. She acted in strange movies. She did strange roles. She never apologized for her looks. She married whom she wanted to. She lived her life. She had a kid. She died she was too old to live. She made a mark.

Take a bow again Smita. RIP.

2262 : Aaj Rapat Jaye as per my daughter

Folks who know my daughter and me, know that she has a penchant for hindi songs, I have a penchant for diction and translation.

Picture this.

So she often asks me translate entire songs on the fly. She is good with Hindi, but probably struggles with new words and metaphors.

So this time she asks me to translate Aaj Rapat Jaye....

"aaj rapat jaye tho hamein na uthaiiiyon"

and I translated for her saying "If I roll/slip and fall, dont try and pick me up because I might pull you down too."

and guess what, she has taken this to heart. She walks around explaining this to all.

Its cute, funny and hilarious.

Aaj Rapat Jaye from youtube

2261 : The girl with the golden Smile :-)

Actually she did not smile much. As an actress Smita Patil, has probably to be my #1 favorite actress. Most people catch onto her intensity or rawness - I prefer to call it naturalness.

She got into the skin of the moment. I am assuming if she could do that for a shot, she could do that at will in real life too - what is this life if not a stage (Shake the spear :-)).

Yesterday it was 29 years since her death, and I was reading a short bio. And the transcript said, she supposedly was made to feel that she was selling her soul to the devil for doing "Aaj Rapat Jaye" with Amitabh.

I have to stop everyone there. In my eyes (and I have not seen the video in the last 15 years), both of them are fab is an understatement. Its like two powerhouse natural actors doing one heartfelt number.

It does help that both Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosale have sung this song as if they were actually a pair too. Especially the way they naturally bend the notes they are signing, with their mischievous voices.

When Asha sings at one point that "tujhe toh aayi haasee......meri toh jaan gayi re." almost feels like the real life banter of a couple, where the girl is admonishing her love for being too much of a dilettante.

Smita Patil will remain my #1 favorite actress forever. Possibly. Period.

The song shall remain one of my #100 songs of my life.

As for she having to feel demeaned for doing the song...what can I say....folks, you can put fingers wherever you want to. Its your finger any which way :-)

My dear Smita, who I will never meet (or even watch all her movies)....a heartfelt bow and RIP.

I picked up the image from and this artcile is lovely. Explains a bit of an insight into her as a person. Read at 

Wikipedia entry 

Aaj Rapat Jaye on youtube 

Friday, December 11, 2015

2260 : Why harmony matters....

I have gone back to 1994. I am now listening to a particular song from Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa by Kundan Shah starring Shah Rukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamoorthy and Deepak Tijori.

The song is a "Deewana" a duet between Amit Kumar and Udit Narayan.

Music by Jatin Lalit - this song is an awesome example of two male voices singing in perfect harmony.

Where one male voice ends and the other begins is almost difficult to figure.

It has a very operatic quality, most of the lines are in high + bassy (I know there is a contradiction) notes.

Some lines are just brilliant.....

Toota sitara tho maanga tha rab se,
Tujhko hi jan-e-jaha,

Jo toot jaye taare tamam,
mangoo wahi ek dua.

(When I saw the shooting star, the only wish I made was you,
If all the stars decided to go kaput one by one,
(guess what!!), I would still ask for only one thing (and thats you). )

Dil se laga kar ke rakha hain ab tak,
Resham ka tera roomal,
Aage kahoon kya jaane man,
Aa dekh jaa mera haal....

(The one muslin kerchief you forgot the other day, still sits in my breast pocket,
What more do I say sweetheart, if you want to still check on me, come over you will still find me lovelorn)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2259 : He decided to walk off...

Picture this.

My health was not too well, but today was my young daughter's annual concert day at school. She goes to this school which respects and includes all kinds of people. She definitely has different race at school, but she also has differently abled folks within her class.

She really wanted me to be there, so I trudge along. I did not realise prior to the event (because she would not tell me) that she was part of the Estonian dance group.

One set after another comes out with their concert activities. Finally she walks in with her mates, for the dance.

As part of her group, there is a paraplegic (who also in her class).

Now the Estonian dance should be categorized as a very voluble hefty and active set of movements. The kids all participate.

The different kid tries. After a point he is unable to move as fast as they do.

I am by this point mesmerized by him, to the point of not focussing on my daughter.

At some point 2 mins into the dance, he slowly crutches onto his support walker and starts to walk back off the stage. All this while the others were still active in the act.

A painful trudge of 30 odd seconds got him into the grasp of a teacher who pulled him in.

At that point - he taught me a valuable lesson (which is counterintuitive to all the lessons I have been taught, or the ones I myself pontificate).

Sometimes, when you know you dont fit in, its so much more sensible to shrug and walk off. Putting in effort to fit in, can be quite exhausting, and more importantly, sometimes walking away - reminds you of your own perspective.

There is immense dignity in choosing to accept and walk away.