Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Thinking Disease

Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing if you understand
- Ana Nalick, Breathe (2 AM)

It is really a herculean task to pen down all the thoughts and questions raging through my mind right now. But it would be foolish to feign ignorance and let them create a pandemonium. So I will do what is best in such a situation – just go with the flow and write down whatever comes to my mind.

Due to my philosophical rejuvenation at SIDH, if I might call it so, a lot of preconditions have been shaken through and through. What is the biggest surprise is that I did not mean any of this to happen. I had always thought that I was comfortable with my conditioning and that would be the way things would probably be. But the seed planted has not only germinated but begun to grow. I really am questioning things that I thought I wanted to do.

So then, what is it that will help me attain contentment? What if I chuck away all my plans and set out in search for that eluding phantom, like the shepherd of ‘The Alchemist’? What if I find out that the things that I have for so long pursued with such determination were not really what I wanted?

These are just some of the questions that have been boggling me. Unless I am able to answer them, I’ll be like that man who tries to ride two boats at the same time and finally ends up in the water.

I have always been a tad bit strange. Imagining the world as an ideal place and being frighteningly conceited; all at the same time. I have been a chronic victim of the “Thinking Disease”. Hmmm…..I really do think too much. Maybe it’s because I don’t do anything. An empty mind is, after all, some kind of a workshop. The Devil may not own it all the time but someone has to, all the same.

So there’s the sum of things. I don’t expect things will change a lot. Not unless a bolt from the blue lights up that proverbial bulb. And till then, I will be ‘thinking’ a lot – looking for answers and finding newer problems in their stead.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Silver Arrows

My soul casts myriad reflections on the wall,
The Silver Arrows pierce them; but they shimmer on.
I lay beneath empty walls, caught in the warps of time.
I was lonesome; just me, my musings and my lines.
I happened to gaze out the yellow window of light.
It was then she burst upon me with all her might.
The sky was a sea of darkness, stars were lost ships.
They floated around their beacon; Apollo, vanquisher of darkness.

My soul casts myriad reflections on the wall,
The Silver Arrows pierce them; but they shimmer on.
The wind brushed past the trees, they seemed like lonely guardians.
The leaves rustled about; blushing, for they enjoyed the time.
Human souls were like flecks of light, glimmering in the night.
But a strange thread bound them all in a lovely wreath.
The realization dawn upon me, I am no more alone.
My spirit is joined to the soul of night; for it made me feel.

The Silver Arrows had cast their spell, there was symphony around.
The eyes of a poet enjoy it all, his mind labors to etch it down.
My soul casts myriad reflections on the wall,
The Silver Arrows pierce them; but they shimmer on.

When Silence Beckons

The glowing embers of the moments we spent together;
Are like stars guiding a ship caught in the doldrums.
The huskiness in your voice that caught my imagination,
Leads me onto your gates like the Pied Piper.
The depth in your eyes which made me lose my senses,
Keeps me sane; for I long to immerse in it again.
And just like the Magi; who followed their star,
I am coming home beloved; I am coming back to you.

I remember the smell of the yellow mustard fields;
Where we rung out the bells when spring began.
I remember the angry waves lashing onto the shore.
And erasing our footprints as we walked on the beach.
I remember the romance of the bright moonlit nights;
When we, like children, talked about the beauty of it all.
And just like the Magi; who followed their star,
I am coming home beloved; I am coming back to you.

Lamps lining the roadside are like butterflies of gas,
They flash past me and create a blinding streak of light.
The radio airs jarring notes, but they seem in melody.
Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me.
I count the milestones, they form an endless chain.
But I have faith, and I believe they will sometime end.
And just like the Magi; who followed their star,
I am coming home beloved; I am coming back to you.

To The Hour Bygone

They poured in through the gash in the wall;
The crimson rays of the dying sun.
And bathed my world in a strange hue,
Like drugs infiltrating my veins.

The air breezed about in strange fashion,
As if talking to the gusty trees.
The stars had just started to twinkle.
As if knowingly winking at me.

I lay sprawled on the floor;
Ogling at the strange reflections on the walls.
They clouded my being and my senses,
Like moon being hidden by rag like clouds.

I think about the future,
I think about the past.
That moment then was beautiful.
But in my naiveté I let it pass.

My present leaves me now wearied out.
I wander alone in this maze of questions.
And my troubled mind seeks its refuge;
Like a defeated soldier retreating home.

I turn to those soft hours now.
They shine on like smouldering cinders.
They shine on but never seem to flame out.
Like those shimmering stars who once winked.

That hour often glimmers afresh,
Lighting my shadowy path in ways unknown.
What is this miracle I wonder aloud!
I take a walk back into that world once known.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

That Thing Called Love

We have for centuries concocted poems and stories and plays about the cycles of love, the way it morphs and changes over time, the way passion grabs us by the throat and then leaves us saner. Yes, we have heard all about that. And each of us may have something to add to it. But now scientists are discovering that the plethora of chemicals that ignite that feeling of bliss are completely different from the ones that foster long term commitment and attachment. So what really is this thing called love?

A particular hormone, called dopamine, may be our quintessential love potion. In the right proportions this hormone creates intense energy, exhilaration and motivation. It may be the reason why, when we are madly in love, we can stay up all night, watch the sun and rise and set (usually too boring to elicit poetic thoughts) or run a race we never imagined we could ever complete. Love (or maybe our endogenous love potion) makes us run real risks, which we sometimes survive and sometimes don’t. In short, it is all what love is about isn’t it? Doing things that would make the saner variety of our species look at us with surprise coupled with amusement.

But doesn’t passion usually fizzle out in the end? After the initial hullabaloo, it all boils down to bickering in most of the cases. No wonder some cultures, like our very own, think that a selecting a lifelong mate based on something so fleeting is folly. Of course that’s a mandate none of us can follow. We do fall in love, sometimes over and over again, and subjecting ourselves each time to a very sick state of mind. Psychoanalysts have formulated countless theories as to why we fall in love with whom we do. But as we all might (or might not) have come to know, it’s that unexplainable impulsive instinct that often guides us. That’s why love has often been likened to sickness. We never know what we are doing in love.

Anthropologists used to think that romance was a western construct, a bourgeois by-product. They thought that love was for the sophisticated and took in place in cafes in the presence of coffee and scones. It took place in lush green meadows riding thorough bred horses. They believed that a lice-ridden peasant could never actually feel passion. But they were quite wrong as it turned out. They now know that love is something panhuman, embedded in our brains since the dawn of civilization. But though love may be universal, its expression is certainly not. And who can be a better judge of that than Indians who stand on a threshold, caught in a time warp between tradition and westernization.

But why doesn’t that passion last? How is it possible that the person who meant the world to you on Sunday elicits gross comments on a similar Sunday 364 days later? Surely the appearance of the person must have not changed in such a short period. She still has those shapely eyes. She still has that husky voice which once caught your imagination. But it ends and its conclusion is as common and certain as its initial flare. Biologically speaking, the reason why it fades away into oblivion maybe found in the way our brain responds to dopamine. Maybe it’ a good thing love fizzles out. Would we have railroads, bridges, faxes, and computers if we were all besotted all the time?

All this discussion tells us one thing maybe. To be madly in love maybe just that - madness. The term ‘lovesick’ is surprisingly accurate. Love blurs the line between mental health and psychopathology. But still, can we resist it - the Cupid’s arrow? I guess not. That’s why people ‘do things’ in love. Love can be dangerous. Science can explain how love affects the brain but never the mystery of how it affects the heart and why we end up doing what we do.

The Godfather

It is hard to describe in a few hundred words, a book of the stature of The Godfather. Mario Puzo creates magic and transports us to the Cosa Nostra - the dark underworld of the Mafia. So much so that I would say that the English speaking world is divided into two categories - those who have read The Godfather and those who haven’t!

The Godfather is a splendid and distinguished blood saga of the American Mafia. It reveals how the Sicilian Rule of Silence or Omerta influences every level of the American society. Men are silenced, cars are blown up, treachery is planned - and all with such cold brutality that one finds it hard to believe there is a human mind behind the entire villainy.

The book deals with the life of Vito Corleone who is driven from Sicily by the Mafia there when he was only twelve years old. Life teaches him tough lessons along the way and he learns all of them. By his sheer cunning and bravado he creates the biggest and most powerful criminal syndicate in America. He is a cold blooded tactician who will stop at nothing to make ends meet. He follows his own rules and trashes the laws of the society which ignored him.

But things take a turn for the worst when he is shot at by some of his rivals. A bloody gang war ensues in which he even loses his eldest son. His youngest offspring - Michael - is an army veteran who has got nothing to do with the family business. But as a result of the assassination attempt, Vito’s empire weakens and in order to save his father’s life Michael is forced to commit two murders. The clash of values within Michael, who wanted to lead a normal life, is amazing and deserves special praise.

The brilliance with which Puzo mixes crime with emotions to produce a heady concoction is remarkable and in my opinion is the life line of this book. One at times is forced to agree with Vito’s deeds. His trademark dialogue - "I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” is subtle devilry.

The Godfather is a story of life and all that comes with it. Pain and love are two sides of the same coin in this book. It is a fabric woven from the strands of love, emotion, crime, devilry and innocence. One could go on writing about it but then the pleasure of the first read would be lost. Try out the book. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

Religious Fanaticism In India

There might be deficiency of infrastructure in India but one thing in which it has always been a superpower right from day one is Religious Fanaticism. Every other day we hear about zealous supporters of some cult or religion blindly following their leaders and doing whatever they command. Such is the state of affairs that it is hard to expect anything rational from such men whose reasoning has been clouded by what some unscrupulous Chandraswamis have said. We can go on about this topic in an endless debate and still find ourselves miles from reaching any solution.

I am not an atheist but blind faith is not what a developing nation like India needs. We find that entities like “ojhas”, "babas" and the like are still very much in business. We can never become a developed nation as long as people like these are allowed to fool the public. This ignorance might very well be tracked back to illiteracy. But just simply learning our lessons by heart won’t help in solving out this crisis. What we really need is education in the true sense. And that is hard to find anywhere. Some people try hard but they are often silenced; sometimes by force and sometimes by situations.

But education, or lack of it, is not the only things responsible for such shameful stats. Politicians, almost all of their unscrupulous species, seek to draw mileage out of India’s botched communal history and fulfill their motives. And when such motives give birth to riots and their like, it is the general public, irrespective of its caste, creed or religion, which suffers. There is no exception to this rule. The futility of riots is even much more than that of wars or battles.

But haven’t we heard all this and much more hundred of times. So why you should even read this article. Well don’t read it if you feel you don’t want to change things and let them be the way they are. What we can do to change things in our own small way is talk about such issues in public and be very vehement in our criticism of them. Try to talk people out of the darkness with which they have surrounded themselves. Tell them they are fools to even think on those lines. It is only by rhetoric that we can combat the rhetoric of those “ponga pandits” or the species which lacks any scruples. Don’t be too ideal and give up everything to change things. That is neither expected out of anyone nor commendable. But try to change people in your own sphere. If we succeed in modifying the thinking of even one person then our mission is accomplished.

Try to think of someone or something that is not connected to you directly and you will find that it is great not to be selfish or conceited all the time. Don’t forget your own responsibilities and ambitions but pay just a tad bit of time to things that matter to a bigger section of the world you occupy. I am sure you are going to find out in the end that all the trouble was certainly worth the effort.


It seems that the ideals of neo-patriotism, as cinematized in movies like Yuva and Rang De Basanti, are finally getting off the reels. Five IITians, all in their early twenties, have floated a new political party called ‘Paritrana’ and decided to enter into mainstream politics. The young guns kicked off their campaigning from the city of Jodhpur, where the party was formally launched.

Entering into a field which has been corroded by corruption and filth right to the very roots was not an easy decision for these guys. Tanmay Rajpurohit, the National President of the party, says, “Giving up handsome pay packages, comfort of family, and support of friends took a lot of thinking.” Ashwalayan Singh, Vice-President of the party, said, “An inner voice told me I should invest my efforts in my country rather than making my pockets heavier.”

As elucidated on the official site of the party,, ‘Trana’ means the act of relieving a conscious entity from the state of distress and pain. But it may be ephemeral. ‘Paritrana’ is the complete relief implying the end of the very cause of distress.

Gen-Next always ends up criticizing the politicians and bureaucrats who have poisoned the whole system. But when the push comes to shove we wash our hands off the affair and prefer to be spectators in this gruesome melee of sorts. And it is for this reason that the efforts of these youths need to be applauded. Shortage of funds has not deterred them from reaching out for their aim. The zeal and burning desire of these guys seems genuine. They claim that they are there not for the power game but to be able to take the benefits of their efforts to the grassroots level.

Politicians of today are no longer the voice of the common man and thus it is up to people like us to take the burden of responsibility here on. We will not be able to succeed immediately and some of us might even falter - falling into the very trap we had sought to remove. But our efforts count towards the ultimate goal and we should have faith that one day, the droplets will fill the ocean.

The First Brush with Freedom

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