Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Black Magic, woman.

The terrible thing about building a wall around oneself is that it is heartbreakingly easy. The bricks slide into place so conveniently that you wonder what had been stopping you from donning the hat of a mason all this while. The terrifying thing about doing it is that it comes down all too quickly. All you need is a lone voice that gains in strength as it revolves in ever tightening orbits around the cold sphere of your solitude. The past and the present merge to form a meaningless blur of regret and disappointment until this voice is all that you know and all that you feel. It overwhelms every last ounce of your will and consumes your mind and your body, your heart and your soul. And while you are lying on the floor, groping around in the darkness and assuming that the clouds will never clear, the darkness lifts just as quickly as it had descended. In that moment of temporary respite, you make the rookie mistake of quickly assuming Nietzsche was right. What doesn’t kill you must make you stronger. Yes, but not always. You don’t have to take my word for it. Try letting down your guard and letting in that lone voice once again. If your heart doesn’t explode thinking about all the things you thought your life would be, you can have your money back. As I said before, the terrible thing about building a wall around oneself is that it is heartbreakingly easy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To the Poem

To the umpteen lives lived in quiet desperation.
To the days seized at the behest of unknown poets.
To the Captains in our lives.
To the emphatic poems they inspire.

O Captain! my Captain!
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head;
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
                         Exult, O shores! and ring, O bells!
                            But I, with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.


On a related note.
Comic originally published on

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pale Blue Dot

That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

— CARL SAGAN, Pale Blue Dot

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Telling It All

Drivers on the London Underground usually stick to simple announcements, but sometimes they go off track — as documented at

Ladies and Gentlemen, do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there’s a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won’t reach our destination.

I do apologize for the delay to your service. I know you’re all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you’ll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction.

We are now travelling through Baker Street, and as you can see Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don’t think about things like that.

May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it’s only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage.

Beggars are operating on this train, please do NOT encourage these professional beggars, if you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity. Failing that, give it to me.

Please allow the doors to close. Try not to confuse this with ‘Please hold the doors open’. The two are distinct and separate instructions.

Please move all baggage away from the doors. (Pause.) Please move ALL belongings away from the doors. (Pause.) This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train — put the pie down, four—eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the door before I come down there and shove them up your arse sideways.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Diary vs. Journal

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lone Rangers

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We all chase the ghost anyway.

कभी किसी को मुकम्मल जहाँ नहीं मिलता
कहीं ज़मीन तो कहीं आसमान नहीं मिलता

जिसे भी देखिये वो अपने आप में ग़ुम है
ज़ुबाँ मिली है मगर हमज़ुबाँ नहीं मिलता

बुझा सका है भला कौन वक़्त के शोले
ये ऐसी आग है जिस में धुआँ नहीं मिलता

तेरे जहाँ में ऐसा नहीं कि प्यार न हो
जहाँ उम्मीद हो इसकी, वहाँ नहीं मिलता

निदा फाज़ली

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vaishnav Jan

There is something fiercely reassuring about devotion. Even if you do not believe in God and such things, there is a strange sense of peace that seems to prevail when you give yourself up to a higher being. I have always liked devotional songs. At least since the time I remember listening to them quite unwittingly. It is a bit sad, though, that more often than not I have understood the implication of the words only in parts. Perhaps that is because my faith in God is not as fervent and passionate as the singer. But often, even if only for a moment, we indulge in role play. I sit down beside the qawwal and let him be my guide. That is the experience I enjoy. During the course of it, I am his apprentice. I let his words and devotion wash over me for a few precious minutes. I am ready, then, to be cynical again.

I remember Papa playing Anup Jalota and other Gandhi bhajans every morning before other people in the house woke up. He would get up early, a couple of hours before sunrise, and meditate in the drawing room. Sitting under a blanket in the winters, he would devote himself to the uphill task of trying to communicate with a higher consciousness. It was comforting to see him that way; even my adolescent mind must have understood the importance of someone taking the pains to comprehend that which I could not even begin to grasp. He still does that every morning and over the last couple of years I have gotten the chance to learn from all the wisdom he gained over the course of those cold winter mornings. His ideas and opinions, so many of which have found reflection in my own person, have made me realise how helpless we can be when it comes to trying to fight our conditioning.

Mummy and I would wake up for school later and he would greet every one, tea ready for Mummy. The bhajans would keep playing till we sat down for breakfast, when the grown-ups would start discussing family matters. I would be busy making sure that the shoes were not too dirty and the shirt was ironed alright. That the nails had been clipped last night and Mother had not packed something despicable for tiffin. The rhythmic chanting of Omkara or Gayatri Mantra would be replaced by other conversations. But the bhajans — they were always a good start to the day. Little did I know that a seed had already begin to germinate without my even knowing about it. Recently, I found my sister asking me for some bhajans to play for her children, thereby bringing the cosmic cycle to its conclusion. (I am bound to sympathise with her reluctance to have her boys grow up listening to Yo Yo Honey Singh.) Of late, I have come to associate such headfake with sanskar.

Vaishnav Jan is just one of the legacies left behind by Gandhi and one of my favourite short cuts to a deeper, meditative state of mind. I don’t seem to remember where I first came across it, but I do know that it made an impression sometime during the last three years. For those who would like to give it a try, here is a version of it sung by the ageless Lata Mangeshkar, while if you happen to have a thing for beats and a multitude of other musical instruments, a trendier version should serve the purpose just as well. The bhajan itself is in Gujarati. So, for all the non-existent, non Hindi speakers who do not happen to be reading this post, a rather inept and prescriptive translation in English should help out with the words.

Vaishnav Jan by Narsinh Mehta

वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिये जे पीड़ परायी जाणे रे ।
पर दुःखे उपकार करे तो ये मन अभिमान न आणे रे ॥

सकळ लोकमां सहुने, वंदे निंदा न करे केनी रे ।
वाच काछ मन निश्चळ राखे, धन धन जननी तेनी रे ॥

समदृष्टि ने तृष्णा त्यागी, परस्त्री जेने मात रे ।
जिह्वा थकी असत्य न बोले, परधन नव झाले हाथ रे ॥

मोह माया व्यापे नहि जेने, दृढ़ वैराग्य जेना मनमां रे ।
रामनाम शुं ताळी रे लागी, सकळ तीरथ तेना तनमां रे ॥

वणलोभी ने कपटरहित छे, काम क्रोध निवार्या रे ।
भणे नरसैयॊ तेनुं दरसन करतां, कुळ एकोतेर तार्या रे ॥
One who is a Vaishnav knows the pain of others,
Does good to others, especially to those in misery, without letting pride enter his mind.

A Vaishnav tolerates and praises the entire world, does not denounce anyone.
He keeps his words, actions, and thoughts pure. O Vaishnav, your mother is blessed!

A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice. He reveres every woman and
Though his tongue may tire, he will utter no untruth. He does not covet another person’s wealth.

Material attachments do not occupy a Vaishnav’s mind, it being deeply rooted in renunciation.
He is addicted to the elixir that lies in the name of Ram; for him, all the religious sites exist in the mind.

A Vaishnav has no greed and deceit; he has renounced lust and anger.
Says Narasinh, the sight of such a Vaishnav saves a family through seventy-one generations.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why do an MBA.

Monday, January 06, 2014

In My Mind

“I’ve got this little thing I have learnt to do lately. When it gets so bad, and I think I can’t go on, I try to make it worse. I make myself think about our camp on the river, and Berkeley, and the first time that you took me flying. How good it all was. And when I’m certain that I can’t stand it, I go one moment more. And then I know I can bear anything.”