Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AVATAR – My Take

With all the hype that AVATAR 3D has created, it wasn’t surprising that Vish and I were more than eager to catch up with this latest James Cameroon offering.

AVATAR surpasses almost all sci-fi, apocalyptic and epic war movies of our times in its sheer cinematographic brilliance and technical excellence. The detailed landscaping of the fictional planet of Pandora and the panning of the camera as the avatar of Jake Sully explores the dangerously rich and marvelously magnificent flora and fauna of the world of the Na’vis, delivers a powerful impact, which is wonderfully enhanced with the 3-D effect, thus offering a rare and most-engaging visual experience, especially in a “decent-movie deprived” year that 2009 has been.

Having said all this, I would stop at a 3.75 on 5 for AVATAR. The movie remains wanting of a more original, never-seen-before storyline. The Na’vis and their traditions would remind most of us Indians of the folklore we have grown up on – the potent supremacy of the souls of our ancestors that continue to watch over us, guide us and bless us; the belief that every living object is connected to each other, almost in a supernatural kind of a way; the disassociation of the body with the soul or the spirit; the blind faith in rituals and the superstitions – an extended Star Trek version of our indigenous Jataka tales and stories from the Panchatantra.

The novelty of the phantasmal Pandorian world begins to wear off post the half-time popcorn break, and what resumes is a sluggishly paced war of epic proportions between the humans and the navis. This conflict between unabashed and selfish scientific technology and the ecological balance of nature serves as an apt allegory for what us human beings in general, and men in particular (pardon the sexist slur, I really mean it though :)), have been guilty of since times immemorial – futile wars, frightening carbon print, mutilation of our natural resources, nuclear pileup, the greed to control and the need to have it all!

The ending is quite prolonged (I genuinely feel the movie could have been cut short by atleast 30 minutes), and clichéd, and predictable. The obvious side that is good and right and utopian wins and the humans are packed to where they belong … and ultimately the true “AVATAR” is born.

Monday, December 21, 2009

World War III of Love

Just when I was thinking that TV watching was getting mundane, and reality shows becoming increasingly monotonous if not totally incongruous, MTV comes to my rescue with Splitsvilla 3, “where love is war”.

Well, for the uninitiated, this show is not about love; it is about a bunch of desperate youngsters craving for publicity on national TV in the vain hope that one day they will be transformed into a la Nikhil Chinappa or Purab Kohli, or get a breakthrough in one of the numerous saas-bahu sagas, or land up a modeling assignment, or, stretching imagination a little too far, even get to star in a bollywood flick.
Couples and singles in a villa bonding, rebonding, fighting, clawing, abusing and getting dumped – that in a nutshell, Ladies and Gentlemen, is Splitsvilla for you.

But, my criticism of the show ends right here. This reality show offers mega entertainment value. I could hands down give it a top slot in the most asinine yet highly amusing TV serials of all times. It’s a complete package encapsulating the gamut of human emotions – there is looove (supposedly, yes), hatred, anger, jealousy, cat fights, crocodile tears, failed attempts to woo the king and queen and pride and vanity, and the list goes on.
The highlights are ofcourse the RSRs (road side romeos) with the funny and unmistakable North-Indian accents who, had it not been for MTV, would most likely meet you down the road and propose to you “descent fraandship”; The “babes” with little clothes and lesser common sense – crude and crass, yet the fake British accent – even when they speak in Hindi or Punjabi. (To be fair, there are some exceptions, but not noteworthy :)).

What entertains me? All this.
A hectic work week, a lazy Saturday, boring soaps, movies with too many ads – who would mind unintelligent humor at the cost of desperadoes who are at their “real” best, with the channel extracting every idiosyncrasy (I swear I don’t blame them one bit) to create an hour of hysterically laughable moments.
There is still sometime for this show to reach the “dumping zone”!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Consolatory?

The state of sorrow is much complex;
Vivid, vibrant, and enigmatic,
Multi-layered, acute and profound;
If anything can be absolute,
It is anguish, distress and sadness.

Joy pales in comparison;
A superficial moment captured
With an agitated vulnerability;
Happiness is ephemeral, destructible.

Despair is eternal;
It enhances the charm
Of the subject it affects;
Adding strength to the character,
Are the tears held back
And not the smiles flashed.

No poet can do justice
To human emotion if he
Does not talk of
Aching hearts and bruised souls.
There is more to talk about
Dead winters and falling leaves
Than green summers and delightful springs.

What worth is the life that has not
Cried for love, nor lost a dear possession;
If you have not fallen off a swing,
Or been hurt by someone near;
If you have not failed a test that mattered
Nor cherished an unfulfilled dream
You still have miles to go…

In a perverse way, that joy does not,
Sorrow completes our existence.
It consummates the cycle of life -
Satiating the deep gorges
That beatitude leaves behind…

Friday, December 4, 2009

After a long long time...

The last 4 to 6 weeks have been maddening. A jam-packed work schedule left very little time to indulge in aspects of Life that interest me and are very dear to me - apart from ofcourse documenting applications that die out on you when you need to validate interface specifications, writing down boring UNIX based installation commands, sitting in endless planning and review meetings, and getting nightmares about packaging help instructions :p.

Well, thankfully, gears are shifting back to normal and I am in the process of catching up with myself - blissfully long hours of sleep, culinary gratification, retail therapy, a rejuvenating massage - yes, the order has been precisely this so far. And finally, today I did some sketching as well. (*clapping hands in glee*)

For details on how the artist bug bit me sometime mid of this year, see the following blog posts:
And here's presenting to you, after a very very long time, some determined Saturday morning work. Yes, yes, I am getting scratchy again - Practice, darling, practice I shall...


Monday, November 30, 2009

Is it December already?

For the last 25 years of my life, year-end has always been coincidental with a sharp dip in the mercury, freezing temperatures, multiple layers of warm clothing, bonfires and binging sprees.
At the risk of making this blog appear more like a weather column (my last post being on the rains ;)), I want to put on record how sorely I miss the winter season.

For god’s sake, it’s December and I am in my cottons and sleeveless and pastels and all things that are summer. 365 days of summer (and that’s more boring than the flick – 500 days of summer). On this one account Delhi scores a brownie point over Chennai – always. I do not get the feeling of movement towards the closure of the year.

Though I have spent all my winters before this year in Delhi, my most memorable chill has been during my brief stint in Chicago – nothing beats the beauty of the snow - Here’s the post.

I love waking up to the cold nip in the air, the frosted windows and breaths, the foggy mornings, the smoggy afternoons, the almost zero visibility on the roads, the all-day twilight, and then the dense darkness, the groundnuts sold on the roadside along with a halo of luminous gas lamps, the excuse to indulge in gastronomical treats such as gajar ka halwa, gulab jamuns, dry fruits, chikki, and what not so that you are warm, the comfort of the thick quilts, yet the instant dismissal of the sweaters and coats at a wedding even though it’s freakin’ cold coz you want to look your best (weather notwithstanding), the frost bites on your toes that force you to wear two layers of socks (I have the record of wearing three!!!), the once-in-a-while sunshine that brings a snug feeling only because it is winter…Winter is priceless…

Most people I have met prefer other seasons instead, and I in the true spirit of being me, always beg to disagree … the following quote is dedicated to them,
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

Wishing you all a happy and chilly year end…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Raindrops on roses...

The local headlines in Chennai, a city am still learning to get accustomed to and growing attached to, maybe bordering on even falling in love with, inspite of all the idiosyncrasies, read something like this:
"Heavy rains batter Chennai"; "Torrential rains flood the city"

My FIL had sounded high alert this Wednesday itself. Frankly, I hadn't been giving second thought to his warnings and words of caution simply because I was being chaperoned everyday to work and it didn't really matter how the weather was, second work pressure has been a little over the top!
However, our driver gave us the royal ditch by not turning up on both the days with the so called "torrential rains" - yesterday and today. On Friday, I was furious - I hated the auto ride, the flooded streets, the dirty wetness in the feet, the dripping umbrella, the messed up hair...

But today morning, when I got up to the sound of the turbulent downpour from the menacingly dark clouds above - spatting on us mortal with a venomous vengeance - I smiled and opened my bedroom window wide.
I lingered my gaze out for quite a long time - in that seemingly thunderous outburst was tranquility that is sometimes missing in the most silent of places, in the blurred scene there was clarity of thought.

I had to go to work but I couldn't bring myself to complain. I recalled the wonderful times when all us kids in the neighborhood used to get together and play frisbee in the rains; the joy of splashing in water is unmatched - believe me.

Anyways, I put on some good loud bollywood music (for those interested: Love aaj kal, New York and that stupid chiggy wiggy song ;)), and geared up for work. I had to take a rick, pick this colleague, who's more a friend, R, from her place and then travel to office.
When I reached the street next to my place, my first reaction was Oh my gawd!! There was almost knee-deep water on the roads, that were now transformed to rivers and u bet, I was so excited.

Water flooding our auto, R wading through the river to reach us, cars splashing water to right uptil your face - there was mayhem in the city and I was in the middle of it! I was mightily kicked - I mean c'mon, am I in a metro city or what? Though, this time I did not feel like cribbing about the infrastructure or rather the lack of it.
I always miss Kodak moments and was able to capture only one or two low resolution pics on my mobile camera. Posting one here.

The situation was much worse in the evening - it took us almost an hour to reach home and when I got off the auto I just didn't feel like opening up the umbrella - I hopped and skipped in the rain, savoring the wonderful feeling of the water drops falling on my cheeks and tiptoed home! It sounds crazy, but I feel like doing the frisbee thing or the aimless splashing around once again - there are only very few things that can salvage your soul from the chaotic depressing misery of everyday reality, and getting wet in the rain is one of them.

I love the person who wrote:
Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain

Happy rain dancing, everyone!

Mélange...

For as long as I can remember, when it comes to anything new - a new school, a new job, a new challenge, a new assignment, I have always been super excited. I love the charged electricity in the air around me, the anxious enthusiasm to get things done in the best possible manner, the emotional connection with the task at hand, the euphoric success at the end of it...

And one such rather small but nevertheless a mission in itself was the creation and release of the first organization-wide newsletter. A month of running across the entire floor, after-5 meetings in chilly conference rooms (only colleagues would understand this :)), fervent discussions on name, content, design, and every small detail, clash of ideas and preferences, consensus building and compromised choices - whoa - we, the team, are one determined lot and we sailed through...

November 6th saw a few of us suffering minor cardiac arrests and panic attacks as we hurdled across some last few hitches - but all's well that ends well - Mélange was on time, and yes everybody finds their baby perfect - so did we!

However, this is just the start of what will command continuous dedicated effort - maintaining the content, quality, and interest in a monthly newsletter is a daunting task.
Well begun is half done they say. Touch wood.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is Delhi ready for the Queen’s baton?

As London sets the stage for the Commonwealth Games baton relay where the Queen will pass on the torch to our First Lady, I cross my fingers.

Come October 2010, and Delhi will be the cynosure of world attention as it hosts the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Since its selection in 2003, Delhi has been gearing up for this mega event. With a sanctioned budget of more than 5000 Crores, we have seen infrastructural improvements in the capital city – neat flyovers, the blessed Metro, the beautiful Akshardham, the much talked about Commonwealth Games Village, commissioning of new buses, widening of roads – we might not be doing the best but we could have been much worse!

This time around, it is not the cynic in me but the proud Delhite that asks the question – Are we there yet? Are we ready? Are we all set? We better be. The last time I visited Delhi (that’s like a month back), the flyovers seemed okay, the residential complex near the Commonweallth Village looked a tad bit incomplete and the Metro project looked derailed from its planned schedule, by quite a measure!

As Pratibha Patil asserted Delhi’s readiness for the games on BBC, I sent out a silent prayer to the one above – “We might be behind schedules, we might be corrupt, we might have slacked off – but God please save the face of 1.2 billion people who are united by their national identity and pride. Let no shortcoming dampen the enthusiasm of the event, let no tragedy mar the spirit of the season, and most importantly, let every visitor and guest experience the spirit that is Delhi - the rich cultural heritage blended with modern amenities, the historical old world charm in the backdrop of a fast-paced urbane city. - Amen”

This is our moment – go Delhi go!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Love Jehad

In an earlier post, I had talked about the complexity and heartache behind a girl changing her name after marriage. However, I realize this could be a much smaller issue, when compared to the ‘love jehad’ or ‘romeo jehad’ talked about in a news snippet here.

Apparently, some groups in Kerala are concertedly working on converting Hindu girls to Islam after they fall in love with Muslim boys.
I can’t even decipher the plethora of emotions that crossed my mind and heart as I read the article. It is not only to do with the status of women in our society even in this day and age; it also has not much to do with questions on will men convert instead; it is about introspecting on our own religion and our own god!

Ofcourse, this is no breaking news to any of us; we all have at some point or the other heard of such conversions in an inter-religion marriage – Hindu-Muslim, Hindu-Christian, Christian-Muslim. However, each time I read a story of coerced transition in the name of love and religion, I cringe in fear.

Every religion says one God, every religion says respect the other – If there is one God, and each religion simply sees a different manifestation of the same super power, we are doing a great injustice to our concept of God or the Almighty by forcing one to change his or her religion.

It is unfortunate that how the history of human kind unravels the degenerative association of God with religion, religion with traditions and beliefs, traditions and beliefs with division, division with hatred, and hatred with bloodshed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Light?

A nagging desire for light

The night has been black, evil almost
The fear of the unknown
Intensifying in the obscurity
Haunting shadows, now apparitions

The promise of the morning beacon
Offers little consolation
If it is not now
It doesn’t really matter when

The question of survival
Lasts only as long as
The darkest vertex
And once that is endured
The shimmer of the break of dawn
No longer warms the soul

The blinding blaze and the
Beaming glow, the piercing
Ebony and the deafening silence
Concatenates into a nebulous halo
Enveloping the consciousness
Of the being that once
Yearned for eternal illumination

The nagging desire for light
Replaced by the strength to
Bear nadirs and zeniths alike

Monday, October 5, 2009

SOS – Our hill stations need a savior!

A kumaoni by birth, I have been very proud of my “native” land – the hills of Uttarakhand (formerly, Uttaranchal, and before that a part of the state of Uttar Pradesh). Most of our vacations during my growing up years were spent visiting breathtaking valleys and mountainous ranges of Nainital, Bhimtal, Almora, Pithoragarh and Lohaghat – the lesser known but much more beautiful cousins of the more popular – Mussorie and Dehradun.

This time around I visited the hills after a gap of 5 years. The journey was as always arduous and my affinity to mountain sickness does not help matters. But forget that. Dad took a less-traveled route to Almora – our chosen destination - and it was undoubtedly one of the most scenic drives I have ever taken. The long winding roads wrapped around the mountains with royal pines spread out till as far as the eye can see, and the mist rising softly as if from below the mountains – heaven is here.

But before I could completely lose myself in the picturesque view that enveloped us, the driver screeched rudely at our first halt.
Rickety shops lined along the road serving food that has never known the word hygiene. Sanitation is at its worst. No, you don’t want a description of the restrooms.

We tried to drown the ugly reality in the beauty of nature and reached Almora - a town that has not changed with the passage of time. I do not know if I mean this as an appreciation. Almora still does not have a drainage and sewage system. The vehicles have increased but the roads have deteriorated.
Move to Nainital – all that is good about the place is what the colonial rule bequeathed on us. We have barely been able to maintain the infrastructure developed by the British more than 200 years ago. The number of people visiting these places has multiplied manifold, and the “mall” road has become a mess of smoke and noise.

What makes me so bitter at the state of affairs is that nothing is being done, nobody is bothered. What should not change – the weather, the majesty of nature, the peace and solitude of the place – is changing thanks to global warming, unchecked pollution and total disregard for our natural heritages; And what should change – the infrastructure, roads, education of the local population, sanitation – is not changing.

It is a frustrating experience seeing these places that offer hope for retreat and sanity in a world that’s maddeningly complicated, simply fade away their charm and glory.

However, I must mention that Bhimtal is a few notches better than the other two places. There is a serenity in the place that is intoxicating. So maybe next summer, you could plan a trip to Bhimtal to beat the heat. Leaving you with a picture of the calm and placid waters.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some relics from the past...

And while I have been uploading pics of mom's paintings, she has very proudly dug out my ancient sketch book. If she is to be believed, it is precisely 12 years old.
She insists I post these relics too...ouch! What hurts is that the sketches that I do now show no improvement - infact some are much worse :(.








My super artist mom!

Lot of people have got back to me saying they haven't really seen my mom's work - who is a real wonderful artist especially in oil. So, since I am home this week, I thought I'll take a few pics of her paintings around the house to validate my bragging about her in my earlier post.
Here they are:






Friday, September 18, 2009

Jai Ho Slumdog but Cattle Class hai hai!

For the past two days I have been dying to shout out my opinion on the controversial tweet of Shashi Tharoor but just haven't been able to get down to writing it. So, a little late, but nevertheless.


First, dear ST, the apology to the people whose sentiments you may have hurt was so not required!

When can we start a mature era of politics where it is okay to sit back and enjoy some play of wits? Our politicians need to grow up and more importantly, develop a sense of humor – or maybe simply get a life!


I personally enjoyed ST's tweet, as a comment on the recent Congress paranoia over PDAs (no I do not mean public displays of affection but public displays of austerity), that he would travel "cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!"

Obviously, the little-educated politicians saw this as insulting and blah and blah. We had Congress party guys immediately in action disassociating themselves and the party name with ST's comment regarded as upsetting the emotions of the Indians. Ouch, indeed.


Frankly speaking, the crammed economy class seats in all the airlines (non-Indian included), the non-AC coaches in the trains and the public transport in any city in India is fit for cattle, and we human beings try to accommodate as much as we can. If Madame Jayanti Natarajan is so offended by ST's remarks she should proactively begin to see what can be done to improve the lot of the proverbial "common man". I mean just because you don't call me blind doesn’t change the fact that I do not have eyes!

And the hullabaloo of the term "holy cows" was hilarious indeed - I think ST is not aware of the literacy levels of our darling politicians.


However, one thing that ST's remark achieved was something that has been very difficult in the recent past - he actually got BJP and Congress on the same side - nothing unites us like illiteracy and sheer joblessness! Forget all the pressing issues of national concern – how dare this “phoren-returned” gentleman show us the mirror!


And all this fuss being made by the party that used Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire as their election anthem...the logic escapes me!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One of the last generations to enjoy DD…

As Door Darshan (DD) completes 50 years, I realize that I belong to one of the last generations to enjoy this public division broadcaster of India. I am talking about the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Once the ‘cable’ invaded our televisions, DD was quickly relegated to the domain of the 9 o’clock news and the weekend movies. By the late 90’s, DD was history for most of us whose first rendezvous with the TV was through the musical “bane sur mera tumhaara to sur bane humaara”. And for kids born after the 80’s, DD was archaic, as out-dated as dinosaurs maybe!

Only yesterday was I recounting to a colleague the fascination that we had for the television screen as kids. There were fixed slots for children’s programs and we considered it a treat to be able to watch the specials for extended hours during summer vacations.
Gone are those days; now from the day the kids are born, they have a plethora of choices. If nothing on the idiot box suits their temperament, mommy and daddy instantly fetch out the huge collection of DVDs. What charm will “ek chidiya, anek chidiya” hold for such youngsters?

Here’s a list of some of my favorite DD serials that defined my viewing experience as a kid and therefore occupy a huge soft corner in my heart:
  • Ramayana – No other adaptation of Ramayana comes close to this Ramanand Sagar classic
  • Mahabharata – Another DD flagship that brought alive the epic in every household on Sundays at 9 AM
  • Vikram aur Betaal – I am told I was initially dead scared of Betaal but couldn’t resist watching the spell-binding episodes
  • Jungle BookAww who can forget Mowgli – 'jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai, chaddi pehen ke phool khila phool khila hai'
  • Flop Show – The “baap” of all comedy serials – a la Jaspal Bhatti
  • Chanakya – Yes, my first source of gyan on the Mauryan empire and “chankaya niti
  • Malgudi Days – The stories of the fictional town of Malgudi created by R.K. Narayanan
  • The Sword of Tipu Sultan – A magnificent portrayal of the life of Tipu Sultan
  • Dekh Bhai Dekh'Iss rang badalti duniya mein kya tera hai kya mera hai'
  • Chitrahar – Friday 7:00 PM it was!
  • Fun Time (during the summer vacations) - Included Talespin, Duck Tales, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin
  • I also vaguely remember watching one or two episodes of Fauji (the one with SRK), Nukkad (rustic and rogue) and Circus (the not-so-funny life behind the stage)!

Here’s a loving remembrance to the good times we shared :).

Friday, September 11, 2009

बस यूँ ही

वोह हो कर भी नहीं थे
और नहीं होकर भी नहीं हैं
आवाज़ क्यूँ हर दम मेरी तरफ से ही आये
हम इस इंतज़ार में हैं की कभी
वोह भी हमें पुकार ले

यूँ तो ज़िन्दगी में
कोई गम कोई तकल्लुफ नहीं
लेकिन ऐसे भी तो
कोई कल की आरजू या उमंग नहीं

अल्फाजों में एक सन्नाटा सा है
खामोशी भी बातें नहीं करती
इस रिश्ते की एहमियत यही है
की हमको अभी इसकी समझ ही नहीं

जो इस वक़्त लम्हा गुज़र रहा है
वोह एक रेट के टीले को
अपने संग लिए जा रहा है

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Late 20’s panic attack!

Now that the safe net the tag, “I am still in my early 20’s”, assures has been ruthlessly withdrawn by the earthly time clock as I turned 26 yesterday, I am not sure how happy I have been about this birthday go by ;).

Seriously speaking, I never thought I would cross 25. Yeah, I understand nobody is born with the innate desire to grow old, but those who have celebrated their silver jubilee know exactly what I am talking about.

Why this obsession with 26, you ask?

Here are 26 reasons why turning 26 does suck and quarter-life crisis IS a panic situation:

  1. For the first time in your life you begin comparing pictures of you now and when you were 16 and you CAN spot visible differences.
  2. You have graduated from a 24” waist to a 26” inch waist with little hiccups, but now will forego shopping rather than having to face the humiliation of trying the 28” pair at Levi’s.
  3. You have started buying hair fall control products and extra strong conditioners, and would rather neatly tie your hair in a knot than leave them out open to be damaged by the sun and the rain.
  4. Retirement planning schemes and Public Provident Fund (PPF) savings are not boring topics that only dads discuss; you have started investing in these and take advantage of other tax saving incentives.
  5. You have initiated serious discussions on role progression and career objectives at work with your boss. A fatter pay check is not all that you want. You now begin to focus on long term goals.
  6. Your conversations with school friends on latest crushes, movies, hangout zones and girly gossip have been hijacked by discussions on what hubby dearest cribs about, coping with in-laws, and the desperate need to have a reunion cos u haven’t been able to meet for months or even years now.
  7. Bratty kids in the neighborhood call you “aunty” when they spot you wearing a salwar kameez or a sari – Oh, I hate them!
  8. Your metabolism rate for burning down Mc Donald’s burgers and Dominoes pizzas has slowed down – the need to work out at the gym has become a looming reality.
  9. You have still not learnt salsa and merengue and now it seems too late.
  10. You have begun spending more time and money at the skin care section of the biggest department store in town.
  11. Pesky relatives and nosey neighbors have started asking you if there is any “good news” yet; usually followed by a quick reproach that we youngsters should not delay taking on our responsibilities!
  12. You have supposed to have gotten over the acne stage but the occasional pimple still finds its way on your face, right when u were thinking that atleast there’s one trouble off your head.
  13. Your choice of music and movies, and your fashion sense seems a little removed from the reality of the 18 to 20 year olds.
  14. The latest male entrants in bollywood are either younger to you or just around your age. Ranbir Kapoor and Neil Nitin Mukesh don’t sound as exciting as Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bachhan.
  15. Even worse than point 14 above, the recent female sirens in bollywood are almost 6 to 10 years younger than you! (Crap, they look way older. Am sure they lie about their age!)
  16. In surveys and polls, you now figure in the 25-30 age group category. That’s so middle-age.
  17. You no longer party on week days cos it’s way too stressful and tiring in the middle of work.
  18. You are no longer naïve enough to hope that you will strike a jackpot or hit it big and become a billionaire. If it hasn’t happened as yet, it’s very unlikely it will happen now.
  19. You relate well to the word ‘nostalgia’. You feel nostalgic about childhood memories, school fun and college craziness.
  20. You no longer find it cool to wear a dirty, torn or faded pair of jeans to a friend’s birthday bash.
  21. You have started planning your wardrobe for work, Friday evening dinner, Saturday night out, Sunday lunch, atleast a day in advance.
  22. You now feel the need to sound politically and diplomatically correct, be polite and exchange the so uncool niceties and pleasantries (Oh, that black dress looks so good on you, hey, have you lost weight, your skin’s glowing, your hair is lovely) at get-togethers and social gatherings.
  23. You have all the cash now to buy all those games and toys that your parents thought were useless when you were a kid, but now you too think they are quite unnecessary.
  24. There’s nothing exciting about turning 26. 13 was the start of teen-age, 16 was oh so sweet, 18 meant you were legally an adult, at 21 you could buy yourself a drink and drive (though not in that order), 24 sounded sexy, at 25 you could rent a car at the normal insurance rate. Nothing at 26 – nothing at all!
  25. The most important of them all, 26 is too close to 30 (ouch, can’t think of that number).
  26. And ofcourse, to put it plain and simple, you are too young to be 26. You barely got over your teens sometime back!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Clichéd

Forgotten promises
Broken wings
Stifled aspirations
Disappointed joy
Wasted beauty
Sickening heights
Heartening sorrow
Tumultuous depths
Futile wins
Enriching failures
Abandoned plans
Hasty decisions
Anchorless home
Inviting shores
Painful learning
Saccharine hurt
Bitter bond
Unknown acquaintance
Forgiven ties
Continuous darkness
Luminous halo
Critical steps
Steep climb
Illusive destination

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My experiments with Murphy’s Laws

It has almost become a cliché to blame good ol’ Murphy for anything that goes awry. Nevertheless, I staunchly believe in the perversity of this universe. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong and especially when it matters to you the most.

Murphy’s laws are universal truths and my life has been a sort of revelation, an unfolding of events that hence prove these.

And so here is a list of Murphy’s laws (there’s a long list, these are only the Top 5) that almost always apply to me and are largely responsible for the dynamics of my being:

Murphy's First Law of Yuvikynamics
I shall reach office at 8:30 AM with the earnest determination to leave by 5:30 PM to make it to the airport to see off my relatives. The following shall happen:
  • Nobody shall notice my early arrival.
  • My boss who is otherwise such a chilled out guy shall schedule an urgent must-attend meeting from 5:00 PM to 6 PM.
  • I shall take permission to leave mid-way.
  • The meeting shall start only at 5:30 PM.
  • I shall sheepishly excuse myself at 5:45 PM.
  • It shall rain and rain like there was going to be no tomorrow.
  • There shall be traffic jams and it shall take me double and triple the time to reach my destination.
  • I shall miss meeting the relatives and the meeting at work!

Murphy's Second Law of Yuvikynamics
I shall enter a shopping mall at 11:00 AM to pick up only one nice top to go with the white skirt I bought long back. The following shall happen:
  • I shall not find a single decent top till 2:30 PM.
  • At 2:30 PM, I shall hit the food court to feed my starving self.
  • At 3:00 PM, I shall find this awesome pair of denim capri pants I always wanted.
  • The queue for the trial rooms shall be longest I have ever known.
  • At 5:00 PM, I shall have still not found the top, but would have blown up considerable cash on other unplanned shopping.
  • At 6:00 PM, my husband’s face shall turn crimson and scarlet, and an ultimatum of 7:30 PM shall be issued.
  • At 7:15 AM, I shall be in the process of finalizing the top, but again the queue at the trial rooms and the billing counters shall be sooo looooooooooong that I shall be forced to give up.
  • The Friday dinner I would have worn the dress to shall have atleast one girl wearing a beautiful top with a nice skirt – the kind I wanted!

Murphy's Third Law of Yuvikynamics
I shall be wearing my new 4-inch stilettos to a get-together. The following shall happen:
  • Everybody shall complement on how they suit me – blah blah. However, serious concerns shall be raised on my ability to walk in them - steadily and with stability.
  • I shall revel in all the attention, rubbish all the concerns, and boast of my comfort with heels. “Oh c’mon, check out what my mom wears; it runs in my blood!”
  • Everybody shall be in awe of me and the way I strut around elegantly in my stilts.
  • The day shall proceed well, but right at the time of leaving, I shall miss a step and lose my balance.
  • Everybody shall give me the “See, we told you” glances. (Oh, how I wish I could just erase such moments!)

Murphy's Fourth Law of Yuvikynamics
I shall decide to drive to work. The following shall happen:
  • The fire brigade or the garbage truck shall decide to park at the corner I have to make a right turn.
  • All traffic shall be unusually fast.
  • There shall be five cars before me and five cars after, but the traffic signal shall change from green to yellow, right when it’s my turn.
  • The lane that I use the most (slowest one ofcourse!) shall be blocked for repair.
  • The office parking lot shall have no parking spaces available on the first level.
  • All spacious parking spaces shall be taken.
  • I shall be late to work, my husband irritable and thus my driving shall be demoted to grocery store parking lots!

Murphy's Fifth Law of Yuvikynamics
I shall be sincerely working all day on a presentation due the next day. The following shall happen:
  • The one time when I am checking my gmail, my boss shall plan to make a stop at my cube.
  • The approver shall need a hard copy and the nearest printer shall run out of paper.
  • I shall walk to the other end of the floor to pick up the print out only to realize that the notes have not been printed.
  • The approver shall take a sick leave the next day.
  • By the time, I find an alternate approver and get the ball rolling; the agenda of the presentation shall change.

Obviously, I have an endless list - maybe more shall follow in a later post :).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fettered freedoms...

I do not understand the meaning of freedom completely.

I do not know what freedom means to me. Not completely. Am I free? Free of what?

I do not beleive in absolutes and that is not the only impediment in my attempt to comprehend the concept that is "freedom". I tie myself in knots everytime I try to explore the essence of the word.
Language deceives. We have simple terms to denote complex emotions.

However, a long time ago I read Kahlil Gibran. And continue to read him again and again. He talks about freedom - a sense of freedom that I relate to, and that provides a more panoramic view of the perception that is 'freedom'.

"At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,

Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise
him though he slays them.

Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel
I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke
and a handcuff.


And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even
the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you
, and when
you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care
nor your nights without a want and a grief,

But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above
them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you
break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding
have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains,
though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard
that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with
your own hand upon your own forehead.

You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the
foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne
erected within you is destroyed.

For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny
in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen
by you rather than imposed upon you.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart
and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace,
the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the
pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.

And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers
becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter
of a greater freedom
".


- Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recording progress...

Folks, now is confession time!
What I started off with great pomp and show in one of my blog posts a while back (see here), has not progressed as well as I had promised myself. It has been more than a month since I first sketched and today my count remains at a measly four, which is quite an awful total given the fact that I've had ample free time at my disposal.

I have sat through some extremely lame and lousy Rakhi ka Swayamvar (an Indian version of Rock of Love and other ridiculous Bachelor and Bachelorette reality shows) episodes, wiled away my precious time reading John Grisham (not that he is a bad author, but then not the best to spend my wide-awake creative hours on), engaged in day dreaming, and spent extra hours surfing news sites even though all give the same "breaking" news! All this when I could have invested serious hours in upgrading my drawing and sketching skills. I am hoping a public self-admonition works.

Okay, so here's a status update. After my first sketch of a rural landscape (see here), I did another one - somewhat similar. I personally love the way you can play around with the oft-used "hut". As a subject, it offers great depth and is a more visually appealing sight compared to the concrete jungles we city slickers dwell in.
Here it is:


I came across this really beautiful picture of a devastated tree (yes, I get the irony there but it was not intended), devastated by lightning perhaps. The sketch does not come very close to reality, but perhaps provides a different angle (quite literally) to the traditional depictions of a tree.


Sketching the human face is, ofcourse, an artist's envy. I cannot sketch a person, simply by observing him or her, and don't even think I'll ever be able to do that. Nevertheless, I tried copying from a picture. The front view is the most difficult to get, and yes, I screwed it up.


With that, I have pretty much given up on frontal views for the time being.
In the process of creating the following sketch, I figured out that side profiles are easier to depict as symmetry ceases to be an issue. You don't have to worry about the alignment of the eyes, the nostrils (I mean it) etc etc. I could have got this one better had I been a little more patient with the initial drawing (please ignore the nose, it wasn't meant to be like this). This is the one thing about sketching, if the initial drawing is not well proportioned, however well you sketch, the effect is dampened. Oh Lord, I only learn lessons, never get to implement them.


Freud said, "From error to error, one discovers the entire truth", and so I hope it shall be. Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Arbit

There’s hope in my heart and
Hesitation in my mind
A firm determination in my will
And a weakening tremor in my movement
My soul is pure
My desire tainted
Mornings burn in flames
And evenings turn crimson cinder
Creativity has ceased to be innovative
Invention is just a discovery
A goal I know not
The road is often traversed
I weave realities
Dreams happen
I cannot recognize
The image that is me
My being continues to be
Powerful in its resonance
Contradictions no longer exist
Nor do choices
There is no either or
No place for if and but
Life’s a series of commas, semi colons, and ampersands
It is this and that
A flavor on top of the other
All colors flow into each other
The canvas can no longer contain
The musings of a wanderer.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

To be or not to be: Form 16

I am sure this entry adds to the zillion other blog entries on ‘taxing’ worries!
I fail to fathom the complexities of the Indian Income Tax Department (actually, of all the Government departments, but then this one currently happens to be no.1 on my s**t list).

Though most financial terms are Greek and Latin to me, and do not interest me a wee bit, I made the horrendous blunder of reading a news snippet about Form 16s no longer mandated for filing of returns. This was sometime in May 2007. Read the news piece here.
Being the extra chilled out (read lazy) bum that I am, I coolly stopped keeping a record of my Form 16s.

So, when last week my FIL called the CA to get all our tax records cleared, I announced that I did not have any of my Form 16s. (Having been in the US for the last two financial years, I have the mammoth task of filing IT return for three years this time.)
Obviously, everybody was livid, but I dutifully quoted the news item and succeeded in dissipating some heat, whew!

However, the CA told us that the new forms require detailed information, which is provided in the Form 16. If we do not have that, all calculations need to be done manually based on the salary slips received each month. I wonder what gave him the impression that I look the kind to store my salary slips for 36 months in some locker, dimwit!
I tried arguing, explaining – nothing helped…I actually realized Form 16 makes everybody’s lives easier as it gives you line by line information that the tax return form asks for.

Fine, will somebody tell me then what is the use of shouting from the roof top that we are moving towards more user-friendly government machineries and mechanisms and are eliminating the need for useless paper work, when in reality we are just moving on to just another arduous way of doing things?

As if not having the Form 16s was not bad enough, I had meanwhile quit my organization a week before this crazy CA landed up at our place. Being in an organization and getting the Finance Department to listen to you sounds quite impossible, imagine trying to get them to reply to your mails after you are no longer an employee!

But, never say die, I did try mailing the corporate finance team and was thrilled to bits when they sent all my Form 16s within a week.
There is mercy and hope for salvation, always!

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Avoid reading news bulletins concerning the Indian Government way of functioning. If you happen to come across any such information, ignore it.
  2. Form 16 is mandatory; forget what everybody else tells you.
  3. You can file your current financial returns only if all your previous returns have been filed, else you have the option of filing them altogether.
  4. Save all your salary slips and bank statements for easy retrieval.
  5. Actually, forget point 4.
  6. On second thoughts, points 1 to 5 are not required, if you just remember this simple cardinal rule – Let your dad/ hubby/ FIL take charge of your tax details, empower them completely and just sign where they ask you to!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Behave like a woman – will ya!

A recent comment of one of the umpteen reality shows on MTV India - Teen Diva, left me flabbergasted. One of the judges told a girl, and I quote here, “You did not dance like a woman. Your dance moves could give a complex to a man.”

Now, will a man tell me how it is to behave like a woman? What the judge really meant was conform to what the society and culture, put in place for years by men for their own advantage, define and dictate how a woman should behave like. You know the kind of declarations your great grandma’s generation made – “Girls should only be seen and not heard”. Well dear, if you wish to see the pretty sight I make, you jolly well learn to hear me!

So what is really expected out of you when you are asked to be feminine?
Using a small flowery handkerchief in the worst of your colds instead of the more practical and convenient “gent’s” white one; Delicately eating small quantities at a candlelight dinner even if you are famished while your date takes the bigger morsels; Smiling ever so softly, barely hinting at your dimple at the funniest of jokes when you would rather laugh out loud showing all your teeth; Screaming at the slightest of cuts in public, forgetting the fact that the waxing last night was more painful than the worst of hurts you have ever had; And of course, feigning ignorance on subjects of science and economics and business and sports if the group of male species that you are in has only superficial knowledge ... aah I could go on...

Fortunately (:)) or unfortunately, men also have “Be a man” statements hurled at them, which I am sure must be suffocating for them as well. They need to foot the bill at a date, they cannot be scared of lizards and cockroaches, and they must know not only how to drive but also how to get around every city they take their girl to.

Many women, and men, are proactively trying to break this kind of gender stereotyping because it limits both sexes. If the minute a baby is born, he or she is compartmentalized into pink and blue, how is the baby supposed to develop its own unique identity? If the society has already cast the mould the personality of the new born must assume, we run the risk of endangering new thought and creative innovation. We have to empower our kids early on to make their own choices – real choices, because we lose the power of distinguishing our own choice and our conditioned choice as we grow up.

My mom always tells me how some relatives used to raise their eyebrows when as a kid I preferred playing with building blocks and cars rather than dolls – she had to shield me from being called a tomboy. I wasn’t. I loved frilly frocks and all colors pastel, but I did not love dolls. That’s my next point, just for the sake of going against what the society pronounces as normal, we need not consciously change ourselves to define an identity unique to the social construct. I need to choose and select what I genuinely like, and I should be allowed to do so.

Many people mistake this kind of an attempt to break free as gender war. The latter is completely different. Even though certain female stereotypes originate from a male-centric psychology, at this point, I only wish to focus on the confining aspect of the typecasting of genders for both males and females.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s my take on the age-old rhyme:

Sugar and spice and everything nice,
That's not really what all little girls are made of.
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,
That's hardly what all little boys are made of.
There’s more to your little boy and little girl,
If only you could let their true selves unfurl.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just to put on record...

Till almost 10 years back, I remember spending a lot of time drawing, sketching and dabbling with colors - term break, summer vacations, dussehra hols, winter vacation - all were spent in doing a little more than just doodling.

No great artist myself, I am blessed with a super artist mom. Her oil renditions on canvas occupy prominent spaces in our home and leave every guest awestruck.
I have frankly never showed inclination for this (or for that matter any) form of art, however, have some affinity for the art of pencil sketching - maybe one-millionth of my mom's artist gene did find it's way in my DNA ;).

During a recent trip to a wonderful book store in Chennai, Landmark, I spotted some amazing Walter Foster books in the Arts section, and suddenly experienced a strong urge to revive the skill.
So I bought a sketch book, pencils et al and through this blog entry want to put on record, that I finally did my first sketch after a hiatus of a decade. I realize I have become quite scratchy, the pencil strokes took a lot of effort and the final result was much more amateurish than I would have liked it to be.

Nevertheless, never say die, posting a pic of the sketch here to remind me not only that I have miles to go but also that a start has been made. Here's sincerely praying that I am able to keep myself motivated and hoping to be able to post a better sketch sooner than later, and with greater pride.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King of Pop takes his final bow on the stage of life…

Most of us in this part of the world awoke to the shocking news of the untimely demise of one of the world’s most famous men – Michael Jackson. Though not a real music buff, the headlines reporting MJ’s death did not leave me unaffected.

I fondly recall how in school we use to try to emulate his complicated dance techniques – the most fascinating one being the moonwalk. His highly stylized music videos such as Black or White were the highlights of watching MTV in the 90s. The hugely popular number written by him, ‘We are the World’, is still an all time favorite.

Majority of my growing up years were spent discussing the colorful persona of MJ and the latest scoops. I remember having long serious deliberations with friends and family on his cancelled tour to India - his plastic surgery, the bleached skin - the reason behind it – an attempt to hide his African-American origins or the self-confessed condition of vitiligo, his family history, his childhood years, his marriage to Elvis Presley’s daughter and ofcourse the much talked about accusations of pedophilia slammed at him from multiple quarters.

The loss of this icon to the world of music is undeniable. His distinctive musical sound has, over these glorious five decades, positively influenced so many genres of music including hip hop, pop, R&B and soul music. He remains the greatest entertainer of all times and I am sure millions of fans worldwide echo my sentiments of disbelief and denial at the exit of this star who was raring to make a comeback that was destined not to happen.

May his soul rest in peace.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sizzling hot and more…

What can be worse than 44 degree Celsius blistering heat that slaps your face 24 hours a day?
A viral attack.

Sweltering temperature outside, frequent power cuts and a bout of viral fever with sore throat and cough – does that sound like the perfect vacation? Well, I just had one :(.

Weather, health and the electricity board - all conspired to play spoilsport during my brief sojourn home – the meticulously planned get-togethers with friends and family were jeopardized, the much awaited shopping trips were truncated, and the staple summer indulgence of ice creams and golas (crushed ice) and colas was forbidden.

On the brighter side, I did get to spend “quality” time with my folks – imagine locked indoors all the time for 7 days ;). Mom baked some awesome cakes – her proprietary date and walnut cake remains unparalleled. I also managed to steal a few short trips to GK–N Block, Noida-Sec 18, Khan Market and Shipra Mall and was able to clinch quite a few good deals – God was very benevolent and went out of His way to reward me considering the fact that I was out shopping with a temperature of 101 degree Celsius.

But, seriously, I have come to the conclusion that I hate summers – I cannot take the god damn sun shining down, dissipating its heat as if there was no tomorrow – searing your skin, damaging your hair, smoldering your eyes.
Everything’s better in winters – falling sick too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Racial Bias – A constructed narrative or an ugly reality?

The recent attacks on Indian students in Australia have refocused attention of world media and politics to the complex issue of shrinking geographic boundaries and coerced intermingling of cultures and ‘races’.

We are still debating whether the attacks in the Land of the Kangaroos are racial in nature or not. Yes, most seem more opportunistic than planned combat against an entire people, but the obvious racial overtones cannot be undermined. Having said that, we also need to factor in that what we see is through the eyes of media, that is not always unbiased. The pattern in which facts are strung together make a story. Indians were attacked – Indian students who were soft targets were attacked. Indian corporate honchos and business tycoons were not.

These so called racial attacks actually pose a much larger problem for the Australian government than mere intolerance for our gold ol’ desis – it is a problem of accelerated crime rate that needs to be checked sooner than later for its own good.

Here, I wish to zoom out from the pressing current to a more panoramic view that cuts across history and continents. Before I get lost in the maze of my warped mind, trying to write as fast as I think and change opinions (:)), just one clarification – whatever I write is within the basic premise that I abhor any kind of bias – be it on the basis of race, color, origin or gender and I strongly feel that such behavior should be dealt with in the firmest manner possible with the most stringent of punishments given to ensure nobody ever dares to repeat the act.

History is replete with narratives of hatred within people – Let’s face it, we, human beings, homo homo sapiens, are a biased lot with umpteen prejudices. Caste, creed, religion, country, economic background – we are a divided people. There cannot be a more ironic phrase than Unity in Diversity. We are constantly in the Us versus Other comparison mode.
The Other is the Australian aboriginal whose existence was systematically wiped out from his motherland, the Other is the Red Indian who was pushed to the periphery of his own American continent, the Other is the Jew who got caught in the Nazi era, the Other is the African who was forced to subservience thanks to the theory of the white man’s burden.

To observe how racial stereotyping works in a fanatical society, we needn’t go very far. India, the singular form is so deceptive, the many Indias, we inhabit is a glaring example of a xenophobic social order.
We cry hoarse when frustrated mobs in Australia beat up our students, when overwhelmed with the financial downturn in Europe, the government sends permanent residents packing back home and when a distraught American economy explores ways to cut down on Indian immigrants.
But, we forget that in our own country when we fight over the superiority of the Aryans over the Dravidians, when we label the north eastern student in our University campus in Delhi a ‘chinky’, when we beat up a dalit for drinking water from the landlord’s well, when we equate Islam with terrorism, and in our post colonial obsession with ‘all that is white is right’, post ads for a gori (fair) girl in the matrimonial sections of the newspaper, we are being racist. This kind of racial slur is even more dangerous because it goes unnoticed most of the times.

I have always wondered what could be the reason for such extreme abhorrence between two people who have never known each other. Before I get into that, I want to answer the question I set out with. Is racial bias a constructed narrative or an ugly reality? Racial bias IS an ugly reality. There cannot be a second opinion to that. However, it is a much larger issue than media folk-lore. Media constructs narratives that sell to its advantage. That paradigm limits our understanding of issues of race and culture in the context of rapid globalization and the resulting mélange.

So what makes an ordinary person like you and me detest another human being who we have never met.
  • The Economics of it – With economies world over crashing and the dismal scene at the job market, it irks me if I, being a native citizen of the country, am sacked while an immigrant with the same skill set and half the age of my total experience is hired for the much talked about “cost advantage’. Yes, I am talking about “outsourcing”. I forget that the decision has not been made by the actual guy who has taken over my position but both of us are victims of the larger game, involving disgusting amount of money, played by citizens of my own country. Someone in my country is making a lot of by having a worker from a different country work here or back home at almost half the wages if not lower. It is still ‘yes to Bangalore and no to Buffalo’. And thus, I make a Frankenstein of this guy who is the epicenter of all my anger.
  • Cultural Differences – And I don’t just mean Cricket vs. Football, Brad Pit vs. SRK. There are subtle differences between different cultures and we need to be sensitive to these. People argue that there is a conflict between asserting your individual identity vs. becoming one of them. Well, to me it is a choice between ghettoization and cultural integration. There are positives in each culture and if you have had the opportunity of closely interacting with another ethnicity, I see no harm is assimilating the best of both the worlds.
  • Stereotyping – Just because your Indian neighbor creates a ruckus every night post 9 PM, every Indian is not like that. Similarly, if the lady at Walmart cannot calculate the change you must get for the 100 dollar bill you paid for groceries worth $87 without using a calculator, not all Americans suck at math!
  • Inherent Superiority and Inferiority complexes – All that is white is not always right. Like my gender does not make me a good or a bad driver, my color should not be a basis for my acceptability in any society.
  • Black sheep on both sides – And finally, there are the occasional buggers in all cultures, races, countries. You need to take in your stride the desis who embarrass you by blaring the dard-e-disco number on their car stereo at the crossing and shouting loudly at each other in their native tongue in the elevators, just like you need to ignore the firang who knits his brows together at the mere sight of you.

To conclude on a lighter note, here's one of my favorite quotes that aptly summarizes my stance:

“A group of white South Africans recently killed a black lawyer because he was black. That was wrong. They should have killed him because he was a lawyer.”
- A. Whitney Brown

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dom Moraes

I have been snooping around the house a bit and happened to chance upon my sister-in-law's stash. Thanks Aps! I was able to lay my hands on quite a few good books and have displaced these from their intended location to my room, I promise I'll put them back :).

Have been fond of poetry for a long long time now and so I picked the Collected Poems by Dom Moraes first. I must admit that I have not read the poet before and don't even recall his name as being even remotely familiar. And since Vish had atleast heard of the poet (he couldn't recall the poems, thank god!), I had to swallow his snide remark that expressed his concern on the kind of literature I have been into. Hmmm. Okay. Everyone has their moments of enlightenment. I owe him one now :)

Back to Dom Moraes. Born in Bombay, educated in Oxford, Moraes is one of the select few celebrated English poets that India has ever produced. This particular collection comprises select verses from his large body of work over a period of almost five decades. I read through almost all in no particular order (obviously can't read poetry like a novel - beginning to end).

Maybe I didn't give him too much time and thought but my first reaction was wow, the poems are technically sound, beautifully crafted, characterized with apt and unique imagery and interconnection of themes, but very few poems left the deep impression a good composition leaves on you. Some poems, especially, used loud images rather than subtle cues, the focus seemed on the physical power and enthrallment rather than on discerning emotional involvement. Maybe, I am being a little hasty in writing him off and I need to read him atleast once more and with greater care. After all, everybody deserves a second chance.

However, like I said, Moraes does come across as an elegant craftsman, an experienced artist who commands the readers' interest. Here are some verses that I particularly liked:

Aspects of a City
On a defensible hill, by a river,
The foot rested, the bronze hammer
Tested for the fault in the rock.
Tapped up by one concise stroke,
Shape detached itself, visible,
Chisels scraped, details clarified.
Brushes made colours separate.
The blind man, an unnecessary lamp
Raised, commanded the camp to see.
Women's whispers, imprints of war,
Deathmasks, the prescience of blood.
In the living rock, the first shape.
From the first shape the final form.
In the storm's eye the city stood.

All languages is its own history,
Scarred with eponymous heroes,
Heartsick dictators, martyred tribes,
Gods desecrated on their altars.
The sound of an ancient trumpet,
Summons to war, in the vowels.
The clashed consonants echo
Hammer on rock, blade on blade.
All language is its own landscape.
Where single cities can be made.
If it is reductible to a word,
Each one must find his own.
It is the destiny of a dynasty
To form a language from a language.

Once
It happens to you once and only once.
You stare into yourself for many years,
a childhood habit, followed ever since,
and then by accident the face appears
you recognize but have not ever known.

Delicate features of an ancient race,
a classic beauty chiselled from dark stone,
call back the memory of another place
you were acquainted with in other times.

From your exhausted mind the memory climbs
as after a thrown stone the water clears:
the world made flesh, her body of deep bronze
held in your arms after too many years.
It happens to you once and only once.

Typed with One Finger
Travel with me on the long road
into loneliness, where the hours
offer pardons to those still afraid.
Bursts of white and blue flowers
will surprise you in summer, with
denials of what is called death.
When I am not there in the maze
where the long road ends, think
of the clumsy stutter of my limp
behind you always, hindering you,
trying to help you all my days.

Every word that I wrote was true
this way or that, meant to praise
whatever was worth it on earth.
When my thumb, slowly flexed,
erased vexed lines from your brow,
it did more than my typing finger
achieved in those seasons, for that,
over the endless miles of paper,
scratched in marks like crowfeet.
As so there were always reasons
how are lives became complete.
For me the main one was I loved you.

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