Poetry

In this beautiful world, I have no desire to die,

I wish to live in the midst of men.

In this sunlight, in the flowering forests

In the heart of all living things may I find a place

Incessant is the play of life across the earth

With its perennial waves of union and separation, laughter and tears.

Weaving songs from the sorrow and happiness of man

I wish I might build an immortal realm.

Or failing this, I hope I can claim a seat

Amongst you for as long as I live

Composing songs like flowers that blossom ever afresh

For you to gather in the morning and noon.

Accept these flowers with a smile, and then alas!

Cast them aside as they fade and die.

Rabindranath Tagore





Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A Lady of Humour

She is a presence, this lady of honour and humour.
She winks at me and tells me of a prize she offered
To you, who loved me more than anything else.

But you despaired and refused in your naivete,
And tormented yourself with many imaginings
While what we needed was a sacred space.

The world has put wagers on you and me;
But she tells me of a clue in her future tense
And I cackle with laughter over what is lost. 

An era of silence

The candle had burnt for two long years
The prayers countless that passed these lips;
So many scoldings that the ears pained to,
So many thrashings that this body bore.

All without a word of encouragement
A word of love or a word of consolation,
In those days when I was playing with fire
Much against my reason or my own will.

Afterwards the days turned into darkness
The lips stopped moving for miracles
For no molehills forget a mountain,
God was buried in those four walls.

You took away with you God and song
But now it’s all water under the bridge. 

Free Bird

A free bird flies in our blue grey skies
Seeking attention from the denizens;
All ears for tales of laughter and tears
Passing around free observations

He doesn’t sit on any branch too long
For fear that his heart may sing along
The many songs that he listens to
From the maidens whom he does woo

His friend is a bluebird of the skies
Who looks out for his loving jay
Though any day he can fly away
And make his nest in happy boughs.

The blue grey skies are made worth
One of pure devotion; one of mirth. 

Historian

You are a historian because you studied events to make sense of your uneventful life. You lost your father in the travails of war and throughout your life, you searched for the codes and nodes that could offer you a clue as to what you had lost with his death.  You marked the places and went from one end of the earth to the other just to see what your father’s eyes had seen and felt. Now, when you hardly recognise faces or reality, you are a child of three score who searches for meaning out of a lost father’s found letters. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Broken

You have found each broken piece, 
And fitted them perfectly well, 
But are you sure you've found it all?

The deities of time and space, 
The wise old ones are omniscient
Of dreams that have never breathed.

You are the best dream of all, 
One that makes me smile everyday
In spite of the chains that bind me. 


The Hats

When you work everyday
Wear this little white hat
The one with a cute feather
That makes you look good. 

When you read with me
Wear your dark red hat
For all the future visions
That life may bring to us.

When there is eternal strife
Wear your strong jade hat
That will give you the caution
Of the snakes, for your dove.

When you are down dear
Wear only the yellow hat
Which will bring to you 
Some bright lovely sunshine. 

When you feel really stuck
Wear our olive green hat
It can freewheel your mind
Into new pathways unknown. 

When you go out of control
Wear a blue hat and chair
Then you can come back
Straight into the green hat. 

If you have not noticed, 
We shift between all hats
Every single day of life
Don't ever wait for a one. 



 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jigsaw Puzzle

In a shutter second the world moved;
The skies crashed and you dreamt
While I went on with whatever I was
Imbibed a very precious pinned lesson.

Your dreams taste of a world abandoned
Long ago and far away, a mythical bowl
Of tears and laughter, rain and sunshine
That pulled you back once again.

You and I were part of a whole picture
Two shots taken seconds apart in a crowd
One leaning against another’s shoulder
Home and heart against each other.

There are no trysts or sweet nothings
But two philosophers meet in thoughts.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Home

Once there was a child
Who went home
With a song on his lips
So happy that others
Envied his happiness. 

Once his glance fell on
A girl who dragged her
hated home
Throughout her life
That everyday was a drag
Of feet back home. 

But she made a home
Wherever she was
Full of people to love
Talk and laugh and tease
A real home of love. 

He without knowing all
Went to make a home
In her vacant heart
Has lost his song of joy
And happiness of heart. 




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blue bird


Yesterday, I saw a child
Doing what I want to do
But cannot do and smiled

It caught a bluebird
With its tiny hand
And spoke so easily

The colour code

The colour code scheme of unity
At times the actions and words 
Never match the intentions
And sadly we can agree.

The equal codes of blue we wore
On a day that matched an aim
Always trying to prove better
Than try to work together. 

The colour code of yesterday
The colour code of today
The colour of tomorrow
Will be our shades of nature. 

Sometimes it matches dreams
Sometimes it does not.

  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Appendage to Bacon's great aphorism from "Of Studies"



Reading maketh a full man; Conference a ready man; Writing an exact man and Raymonds a complete man

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dan Brown's Inferno

Dan Brown’s Inferno (2013) is quite unlike his earlier books in that here the author turns an environmental activist in that he constantly reminds the reader of the global ecological crisis and the problems of overpopulation. It reads more like GB Shaw’s plays that carry some social message or the other.

Though in the earlier novels, it was possible to suspend disbelief at the kind of code-cracking that Robert Langdon practiced, this time it becomes a little bit tedious with the population problem that is part of the discourse of the novel. He makes use of the character of a slightly eccentric scientist Bertrand Zobrist to offer a solution to the overpopulation problem and this is by creating a virus named Inferno that has got serious consequences to the entire humanity.

The apocalypse is near and the scientist being a fan of Dante has written all the codes in poetry. The allusions and history reveal a lot about the culture and heritage of art work as usual, the fun element is replaced by a seriousness quite unlike Brown. Like all Brown heroines, Sienna Brooks is also quite smart and independent but she turns mushy and cries on Langdon’s shoulder. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Yann Martel: The Apostle of the Other


If you are an Israeli, you should imagine yourself a Palestinian. Then you will understand why the Palestinians are angry. If you’re a Palestinian, you should make the effort of imagining yourself an Israeli, and then you will understand why the Israelis are afraid. If you’re a man and you become a woman, you understand. If you’re white and you imagine yourself black, etc. 

Yann Martel can rightly be called the Apostle of the Other because through his writing he has tried to explore the Other. He says that “in meeting the other that you start to understand, first, that you are different, and then how you are different”. His fiction has always been an attempt to travel through the strange consciousness of the Other with the aims to understand and to empathise.

Born in Salamanca in Spain in 1963 as the son of Canadian diplomats, Martel spent his childhood in Costa Rica, Spain, Mexico and Canada. After graduating in philosophy, he worked as a tree planter, dishwasher and security guard till he took up writing as a full time career. Now he has settled in Montreal with his partner Alice Kuipers and son Theo.

For Martel, storytelling is a way in which the human experience of living in this world is communicated to one’s fellow beings through the unique human tool of language. Without sharing of experiences, a human has no identity; without love, there can never be stories. As Martel says in the Big Think Interview, “the saddest thing in human terms, is to have a human being who has no stories” as “the human who has no stories is someone who has not been loved and has not been able to love”.

His fiction focuses a great deal upon the people who are robbed of their basic dignity. However, he extends his concern to animals as well because he denies the anthropocentric view of Western religion and culture. He points that the Other is important in defining what is normal and also for locating one’s own identity in the world.

His first book was collection of short stories Seven Stories in 1993 but though it was not a grand success, one of the stories was awarded the Journey Prize. Later this book was edited and republished as The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories (1993). There are four stories in this collection namely “Manners of Dying”, “The Mirror Machine”, “The Time I Heard the Private Donald J. Rankin String Concerto with One Discordant Violin, by the American composer John Morton” and “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios”. They are strange stories that deal with the modern experience of life in the midst of illness, death and grief.

Self (1996) was Martel’s first novel and it had for its protagonist a nameless boy who wakes up one morning to find that he has become a woman. However, the protagonist is still attracted to women and is confused by the shift in gender. However, after remaining a woman for seven years, the protagonist turns back into a woman when raped by a neighbor. Martel sympathises with women who undergo a very personal holocausts called rape, which robs them of their basic human dignity. However, Martel explores the gendered Other and also the question of whether the mind has any gender.

Life of Pi (2001) that fetched him the coveted Booker Prize in 2002 is a fantastical tale of Piscine Molitor Patel, a sixteen year old Indian boy who travels with his family to Canada by sea and is shipwrecked in the Pacific along with a spotted hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, a female orangutan and a 450lb Royal Bengal Tiger. There are also two versions of the same story of cannibalism, one with animals and one without them. The animal version is a fantastic one; but the real version is grim and terrible. However, Martel used animals as characters solely for artistic purposes but then began to get interested in animals for their own sake and also for the wonder that they provide.

We Ate the Children Last (2004) is a collection of short stories that deal with medical breakthroughs and their consequences. The environmental Other is considered in this work as human experiments such as an animal to human transplant operation can wreck the environment in unforeseen ways. The stories are dark glimpses into the advances in science and technology juxtaposed against the need for protecting the environment. He advocates prudence in animal-human experiments as the products of these could be more devastating to the world at large.

Beatrice and Virgil published (2010) is a postmodernist novel in which the writer Henry L’Hote meets a taxidermist named Henry, who gives him a manuscript of a play featuring Beatrice, a donkey and Virgil, a howler monkey living on a large shirt in the shape of country. The shirt on which they live is affected by what they call the Horrors. As they travel around the shirt, Beatrice and Virgil tell each other little stories and folk tales, share experiences of food and try to find the right words, expressions and signs to represent the Horrors. The novel is an allegory that works at a primary level to mean the Holocaust and at a deeper level to mean cruelty to animals. Martel condemns both genocide and the killing of animals as both violate the right to live.

Martel’s attempts at being an Apostle of the Other was not limited to his fiction. He was also involved in a book project What is Stephen Harper Reading? from 2007 to 2011, in which he sent the Prime Minister of Canada one book every two weeks with his letters, book selections and responses received to a website devoted to the project. He made his intentions clear when he said in the Big Think Interview that “to lead you must read, because that nourishes your vision”. Though the Canadian Prime Minister did not respond in any way to Martel’s project, consolation and encouragement came in an unexpected manner when the American President Barack Obama sent Martel a handwritten note describing how Life of Pi has greatly influenced his life.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Maddadam Trilogy



Margaret Atwood’s The Maddaddam trilogy that consists of the simultanuels Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood and Maddaddam (2013) explore an extremely common device in popular science fiction- an apocalypse triggered by biotechnological and chemical experiments that destroys the rhythm of nature and produces unforeseen disasters and epidemics such as the Waterless Flood. These novels are called simultanuels (as opposed to sequels) as they co-exist and enhance our understanding of the state of life before and after the apocalypse through the eyes of the narrators Snowman, Ren and Toby.

The strides made in biotechnology such as genesplicing help scientists create new species such as wolvogs, liobams and pigeons with human brain tissue added for intelligence. But the product that starts the epidemic known as the Waterless Flood is an over-the-counter medicine known as BlyssPlus Pills, supposed to provide increased sexual satisfaction, protection from sexually transmitted diseases and to prolong youth. Hidden in the BlyssPlus Pills, is a killer virus that will spread like the plague and wipe out entire continents altogether.

When the attacks begin, radio and television stations from across the world report news of the spreading pandemic. But gradually the stations go dead and cities cease to exist. Gradually, a handful of people survive along with the bioengineered Crakers, who are a gentle humanoid species whose skins have natural insect repellants and whose need for animal protein is minimum. Among the survivors are Toby, Ren, Amands, Zeb, Jimmy and other Maddaddamites who are a group of bioterrorists who were bought by Crake in exchange for the protection of their identities.

The narrator of -awaited conclusion to the Maddaddam trilogy is Toby, who belonged to a green cult called God’s Gardeners. She wonders if there is any future for the human generation:
She’s slipping: she ought to write such things down. Keep a daily journal, as she did when she was alone…for generations yet unborn as politicians used to say when they were fishing for extra votes. If there is anyone in the future that is; and if they’ll be able to read; which, come to think of it are two big ifs (Atwood, 136).

The Crakers and the human survivors together create a new set of babies- Kannon, Rhizomes, Jimadam, Pilaren, Medulla and Oblongata, whose characteristics are yet to develop. But the wonder of all wonders is that Blackbeard, a Craker youth learns how to write and records the history of life after the Waterless Flood and the formation of the new hybrid species from humans and Crakers in the form of history.


Atwood uses the trilogy to express her concerns about the environment, the use of artificially created animal protein, the dangers of biotechnological experimentation, the hidden dangers of medical corporations and the relations between the sexes. She concludes on a note of hope through the creation of hybrid babies who will definitely lead life on earth forward in spite of the Waterless Flood. 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Dreams in Prussian Blue


Dreams in Prussian Blue (2010) by Paritosh Uttam captures the life of some Fine Arts students in Mumbai. It was recently in the news because Shyam Prasad’s new movie Artist is based on it.

Naina Trivedi, a fresher at Fine Arts College meets Michael Agnelo and his friends Abhinav and Ruchi. Michael’s passion for painting and his charisma sweep her off her feet and she realizes that she has fallen in love with him. To the dismay of her conservative Brahmin family, she leaves home to have a live-in relationship with Michael. The initial plan is that she will write and he will paint. But when they start living together, the responsibility of running the household falls on Naina as Michael does only what he is promised to do- to paint and nothing else.

Caught up in a situation from which there is no turning back, she creates a website for his paintings and calls prospective buyers and art galleries. Michael refuses to turn up for one such meeting with the owner of an art gallery and Naina calls and threatens him with a break-up. Unfortunately, Nicheal meets with an accident on the way and loses his eyesight. It is Abhinav who helps her with the bills and with Michael.

Abhinav and Ruchi live the middle class dream of a secure job, a posh apartment, plans for starting a family and having a car. Naina is distraught that Michael who used to be the best of all has come to nothing while the others are thriving. Inspite of his blindness, Michael continues to paint and she has to work hard to pay the rent and buy new canvases and paints. Abhinav advises her to give Michael used canvases and gives her a box of Prussian Blue that was there at his house.

Michael finishes 24 pictures that depict the history of painting and his exhibition draws people because of the publicity that is given to his blindness. However, Abhinav’s deceit does not stop with the Prussian Blue and Naina is caught up in a fix because of her love for Michael and gratitude for Abhinav. Will she be able to fix her strained relationship with Michael?