Thursday, November 3, 2011

Un-Booked and Un-Hooked

I deactivated a part of me yesterday, a part of me which had assiduously and covertly become an important piece of my Life Mosaic. I deactivated my Facebook profile for no better reason than because I felt like it. The obvious fact is that while suicide in the ‘real world’ may require the coming together of deliberation, courage, hopelessness, all on a level which is uncommon and rarely achieved, E-suicide requires nothing more than the germination of a thought and the pressing of a few keys. Therefore, much simpler and much less messy. Added to this, the thought that a part of you has now become internet-debris and will now be floating through cyber space eternally, is somehow a really attractive and gratifying one. It makes one believe that immortality is possible, at least in whatever distorted and warped way that these technologically-driven times may allow. The only downside with this, as I am now discovering, is that the fingers retain a tactile memory of an aimless type drivel and to pointless wander over the vast expanse of the mouse pad. To satisfy that urge to an extent, I have now returned to this orphan Blog of mine, which had been abandoned in pursuit of more immediate delights. So maybe, this E-suicide business has a positive ending after all!

Thursday, December 31, 2009


It has been a year, a little more actually, that I wrote anything on this blog. There have been moments of inspiration, of tepid insights, moments when thoughts have been there, waiting to be transcribed into e form. But those moments passed…with me having done nothing. Except procrastinate. And make the usual excuses of course…of too-much-work, too-little-time. But the truth is that I have found a strange reluctance to do anything non-essential this past year. It is the usual norm to indulge in indulgent year-end reviews, but my review of my past year can be summed up in a short sentence- ‘Did not feel like doing it’! No excuses for this, but the end result is that there has been a sophomoric kind of status quo maintained at the end of the year. Have not gone forward and nothing has happened to be termed a backward regress.

A lack of ambition has been the defining characteristic of this year. Not ambitions in just the narrowly understood sense, of achievement, success, accomplishment, but in a broader sense of aspiration... the desire to even want to want something of value. I have aspired for nothing and, consequently, have attained nothing.

Is this strange, this reluctance to seek, desire, crave? It possibly is. And it definitely will pass. The desire to ‘DO’ will undoubtedly be re-born this coming year. Till that time, I will luxuriate in this unbecoming calm. And turn my thoughts to the elegance of ‘English August’, to put my condition in perspective:

I don’t want challenges or responsibility or anything, all I want is to be happy— . . . He wanted to say, look, I don’t want heaven, or any of the other ephemerals, the power or the glory, I just want this, this moment, this sunlight, the car in the garage, that music system in my room. These gross material things, I could make these last for ever. . . . I am not ambitious for ecstasy, you will ask me to think of the future, but the decade to come pales before this second, the span of my life is less important than its quality. I want to sit here in the mild sun and try and not think, try and escape the iniquity of the restlessness of my mind. Do you understand? Doesn’t anyone understand the absence of ambition, or the simplicity of it?”

I understand !

Monday, December 8, 2008

An Eyeball for an Eyeball

One of the more incongruous and mildly amusing fallouts of the Mumbai events of 26/11 is the proxy war that the respective media of India and Pakistan have felt obliged to carry out on each other. A war of half-truths and ill-informed opinions, often bordering on uncivil discourse and seldom managing to rise above the level of nationalistic rabble rousing. Maybe I have got the blinders of patriotism tightly fastened on, but it seems to me that the media on this side is winning this particular exchange and it is doing so by simply not doing too much. God knows we have our own bunch of zealots on this side of the Wagha, but they don’t seem to find too much airtime. And that is possibly what is helping us appearing to win this particular war, at least by seeming to maintain relative sobriety and balance in comparison. Of course, this temperance and poise was not readily apparent during and immediately after the events in Mumbai, where for a brief period it appeared that anyone who was in Mumbai and who had a car to drive to the studio was on TV, articulating pop patriotism and inane chatter. Page 3 seemed to have transposed itself on the small screen and things got rather desperate when the otherwise lovely but hopelessly out of her depth Shoba De was expressing her views. They were amusing, if nothing else.

The Pakistan media, or at least the portion that we have access to, seems to be doing a fine act of attacking the Indian side for being parochial, but in the process it is coming out looking second best. An accusation of parochialism carries within it the inherent risk of painting the accuser with the same broad stroke. And the quality of the discourse (again what we have access to) is bordering on the ludicrous. Case in point is this on some Pakistani TV channel [ ].

Having watched it, the line between a hate mongering mullah in Rawalpindi and an informed commentator on national TV gets slightly blurred. Except maybe that the commentator speaks in English and is slightly better looking, at least on the empirical evidence available.

By putting up such characters on TV, the media, be it Pakistani or otherwise, does itself or those characters no favors. Noam Chomsky, the writer/ thinker/ philosopher, had described this best when he opined on the format of television talk shows where “if you repeat conventional thoughts, you require zero evidence, like when saying Osama Bin Laden is a bad guy, no evidence is required. However, if you say something that is true, although not a conventional truth, like the United States attacked South Vietnam, people are going to rightfully want evidence, and a whole lot of it as they should”. The format of the shows does not allow this type of evidence. He's continued that the media should let dissidents on more because the time restraint would stop them properly explaining their radical views and they “would sound like they were from Neptune”!

So while Pakistan TV is happy entertaining oddball guests from distant planets, I think we are just happy to fall back on the mildly comical and desperately floundering opinions of the Shoba Des and Farookh Sheikhs. No one should have anything against a few chuckles now and then!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

'Cry, My Beloved Country'

Ever since events in Mumbai have come to their bloody conclusion, a lot has been written, a lot has been said. A lot more will be left unwritten and a lot more will be left unsaid. On what happened and on what should happen. On the venality of politicians, on the bravery of soldiers and on how the 'people' should take charge. But I am weak and feel myself unable to draw up a suitable or even an acceptably adequate response. I feel puny in the face of audacious belief…held by 12 men who came in boats believing they could change something. I search for strong ideas, something suitably tangible and audibly concrete to capture and sufficiently explain. But I am unable to. Maybe it is because I see how much has changed...and how little really has. And like the enfeebled always do, I hide behind words. It is not my intention to add to the cacophony that has already passed, but, as I always do in times of need, I seek succor in the gentle grace of poetry. The following is an extract from a piece written by someone I once knew long back. The writer will have to remain unnamed:

‘The sun arises- a disk of startling light,
Comforting darkness flees in hasty flight.
And now exposed lies this barren land,
It waits in fear for the rapists’ hand.

And soon enough starts the bloody rape,
By shadows unseen- no form, no shape.
A child killed there- another killed here,
The rape is on- I shed a tear.

The bombs blast- the flow of blood,
A trickle, a murmur, now a roaring flood.
The man who was killed on this unnamed road,
Was he carrying belief or duty’s heavy load?’

Friday, April 11, 2008

The light that never goes out...

The Olympic fire is spreading around the world, in the form of the torch making its stuttering and eventful journey across the globe. China will be hoping that the 'fire' stays within the torch itself, whether lighted or extinguished, but it is proving to be a difficult genie to keep bottled up!

Having its origins in ancient Greece and commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus, the Olympic torch has always been couched with a certain symbolism and has been a tool to extending and projecting ideology. The Berlin Olympics in 1936 was perhaps the first attempt at such projection and Hitlers' always efficient propaganda machine used it effectively to try and add myth and mystique to the Nazi regime. So therefore, the current heart burn over the torch relay of the Beijing games was perhaps more expected than China winning a clutch of gold medals at those games!

The Free Tibet Movement did not need genius strategists or a second invitation to see the potential of the torch. They have used it well as a beacon to guide and focus the worlds' attention on the plight of their country. The burning torch has achieved more in a few weeks than what others have achieved in the last forty years. And I conciously include His Holiness in this list, who I think could have achieved more if he finally decided not to persue a policy of redundant appeasement.

Some contrived excitement has been recently generated in our country too, on account of the relay when the torch reaches here in a few days time. The focus has been on shameless headline grabbing, with the president of the Indian Olympic Committee, the Right Hon'ble Mr. Suresh Kalmadi (who I personally think should have resigned on moral grounds a very, very long time ago) grandly announcing that he has personally invited several young politicians, including Mr. Rahul Gandhi to run in the relay. Good for Mr. Kalmadi and my heart bleeds for Mr. Gandhi, because the bad little SPG will not let him run in the relay! And of course good for the TV channels, all of which analyzed this stunning development, with live inputs from Mr. Right Hon'ble himself, for a full half day!!

What lay buried in all this noise was the news of a quite man who had decided to take a stand. Baichung Bhutia, captain of the Indian football team, deciding not to run in the relay, was I think one of the biggest acts of personal courage in Indian sports. By saying that he has a lot of Buddhist friends in Gangtok and that this was his small way of showing solidarity with them, he has possibly blurred the line that is necessary between politics and sports. But, and this is a very big 'but' in the context of the feudal structure that is Indian sports, it has shown the strength of heart inside that man. To go against the diktat and expected role laid down by Mr. Right Hon'ble and his self serving cronies is possibly not the wisest course of action in Indian sports. He may be victimized by the administration for this or he may be considered too insignificant to bother about. Either way, he has shown something that is sorely lacking in a lot of the more established superstars of Indian sports...he has shown a heart and, more importantly, the courage to follow it.

The Tibetan issue suffers from the huge drawbacks that, firstly, there is no oil under its otherwise beautiful lands and, secondly, China is too damn big and too damn mulish to bother about small things like self- determination, sovereignty, world opinion or human rights. The result is that the world has chosen to forget the problem. If you cannot see it on CNN and if Mr. Bush does not lose sleep over it, then it does not exist. It is left to the little voices to do what they can. Baichung may not be the most articulate of men you will meet, but what is important is that he spoke when it was most required!

Monday, March 3, 2008


Have lately been in this mood to extract and share. So in keeping with that feeling of bonhomie, a short piece written in 2001 by Dana Gioia- ‘Unsaid’. I have always found this to be a very interesting piece. Notwithstanding the fact that the poet, in his previous avatar, was a vice-president in General Food Corporation, USA, and was part of the team that invented the staple dessert of American cuisine- Jello !! If anything, this fact just lends hope and promise that something aesthetic, something stimulating, is yet possible in the midst of all this mundaness!

"So much of what we live goes on inside–
The diaries of grief, the tongue-tied aches
Of unacknowledged love are no less real
For having passed unsaid. What we conceal Is always more than what we dare confide.
Think of the letters that we write our dead."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tropic of Capricon

The post today is an extract from the opening lines of 'Tropic of Capricon' by Henry Miller. Am putting this up for no particular reason except that its one of my most favorite pieces of writing in the whole world and i re-discovered it in the morning today. And also there is the other reason, which is that i have not put up anything for some time now!

"Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos. From the beginning it was never anything but chaos: It was a fluid which enveloped me, which I breathed in through the gills. In the substrata, where the moon shone steady and opaque, it was smooth and fecundating; above it was a jangle and a discord. In everything I quickly saw the opposite, the contradiction, and between the real and unreal the irony, the paradox. I was my own worst enemy. There was nothing I wished to do which I could just as well not do. Even as a child, when I lacked for nothing, I wanted to die: I wanted to surrender because I saw no sense in struggling. I felt that nothing would be proved, substantiated, added or subtracted by continuing an existence which I had not asked for. Everybody around me was a failure, or if not a failure, ridiculous. Especially the successful ones. The successful ones bored me to tears. I was sympathetic to a fault, but it was not sympathy that made me so. It was a purely negative quality, a weakness which blossomed at the mere sight of human misery. I never helped anyone expecting it would do any good; I helped because I was helpless to do otherwise. To want to change the condition of affairs seemed futile to me; nothing would be altered, I was convinced, except by a change of the heart, and who could change the hearts of men? Now and then a friend was converted: it was something to make me puke. I had no more need of God than He had of me, and if there were one, I often said to myself, I would meet Him calmly and spit in his face."

As i said before, no particular reason for putting up this extract, but there are times when one does feel a certain emotion and looks for something relevant to relate it to. Henry Miller has seldom failed to provide that relevance for me!