Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!



Light the light of reason

Wish you all a Merry Christmas in this agitated times — the cold days in Delhi have unleashed volcanic passions!

The numbed anger found vent in the brutality meted out to a young girl. The anger is against the absence of rule of law and the demons that rule the mind of some.

On a different note, I have made so many commitments today. A date with my mother is what I am looking forward to, followed by engagements of job, meetings and a lively evening that promises to extend late, well past the midnight. All this put pressure on my reckless and restless being. 

I am looking for a silver lining as the cold day, today, would die in the blanket of the impregnable fog.

Another year will meet its end soon to dawn a new one. And the days will continue to slip away before a listless bystander, that’s me. The young are getting older, child pre-empt adulthood.  

In a world of convoluted expectations, from others, I seek peace, seeking is self defeating, so I seek for others something GOOD and hope- is a lifeline- that GOOD sense prevail over non-sense. And people feel happier, such a loaded word, comparatively to their usual self.

I would advise us all to withdraw a bit, as I try to do the same myself, to witness the world and not necessarily participate. 

A girl, though her body marred by certain humans possessed by the Satan, will live on to assert that human spirit is indomitable.  No act of vandalism can curb the spirit of life. And the honour is integral to one's being and is untouched by any act of savagery.

So fight not but light a lamp (not at India Gate, preferably) to illuminate the dark alleys of conscience with reason and let not you be a source of miseries to others. 

It has to be a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shut up!

Some say because they have a need to say. The need to tell. The need to discuss. The need to inform. The need to own up. The need to explain. The need to articulate. They need to be understood. I have all these needs in me.

What do you do when you tell?

When you tell you provide information. Some information is better than no information. But, is equally true, that partial information can be disastrous. In the affairs of men nothing is back and white. We exist and play in the grey area. No amount of information can sufficiently decode the complex web that is a human mind. There are symptoms that hint at something. Symptoms are  convenient generalisations to understand the complexities of human mind. But there is something very basic that explains all the complexities. And I know what explains my complex mind. But there is no word that captures the real idea of what it is. I want to tell what it is but my descriptions create a different picture. 

There are weak moments where you feel the greater need to find and utter that you think you are.  You look for empathic ears that you trust. You find. You say. And get misunderstood. In my case all the time. Or feel misunderstood. Or even worse not able to say it. And then end up saying what you didn't intended to say.  

As you would know by now reading the above three paragraphs that I have this great ability to say things that add up to nothing. You can squarely blame me for it for offering you to read something meaningless. 

I am tired of fighting this identity business of who I am for I need to be something. And many identities are mutually exclusive. If you are something means equally well that you are not something else. So for a segment of humanity you become a pariah. 

Beyond identities and demands of identities to lead life a certain way is freedom. I want to break free to freedom. I find my freedom is critically dependent on freedom of others. My freedom is not isolated from that of others. What kind of a freedom is this?

I see freedom so clearly in some people when I interact with them. I see it all the time in them. I see things beyond the obvious. The freedom in others might sometimes be suppressed, but it is there. And when I talk about that freedom, my freedom, their freedom, I seem to enter in a trap. My idea of freedom comes across as a constraint. My sharing of freedom binds me harder. 

People come across very different to me then. I see a disconnect between what i see in them, freedom, and what they say they are. Their exercise of freedom binds me further. 

So this need to tell to explain self is fallacious. I guess my freedom is a myth. And if there is something called freedom, it is not free.

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic said something relevant about freedom. ‘Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.’

Shunning the need to say might make my freedom free.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lost Contact

This is the picture of a good old day when i had a blackberry.

I lost my mobile, a blackberry, which served so well for good two years. It is terrible because i feel lost like an errand comet in the deep, dark cosmos. It’s good to be that way, sometimes. People can’t contact me. And i can’t contact them. But there is this inescapable feeling, always, that somebody wants to tell me something very important but can’t. Or the best news of my life is going to come today via phone when i don’t have one.
I don’t want to discuss how i lost the mobile because the blame solely rests on me. My old phone is a Diwali gift to an autorickshawallah. He was drunk when he dropped me to a friend’s place late in the evening yesterday.  I dropped the phone in the auto-rickshaw instead of my pocket. I called my number as soon i could lay hand on another mobile. The phone was not answered a couple of times, and then, soon, the response was in a monotone ‘out of the coverage area’ to all my efforts to have somebody answer back.  
My blackberry was in the terminal stage of its existence. But this fact does not discount the fact that lot of change happen in my life, all right when it is due, but when it is not intended. 
My absent-mindedness has cost me dear and will continue to do so in future. Just a couple of days ago, i forgot my bag in a restaurant, thankfully, i did remember where i forgot it, and after some polite phone calls (oh! i miss my mobile), got it back without any collateral damage. There is no hope, this time, that i am going to get my phone back. But i am excited. I will have a new one. This time it’s in all likelihood is going to be an Android-powered phone, though, i am sure, it won’t be the one of the size of a transistor-radio.
So guys and gals, i have a valid reason to have lost your contact details. Please mail your phone/mobile number to me in the case you want to miss this golden opportunity to get rid of me from your life.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Weekend Trip Shimla

It took me nearly a week to write about last week’s trip to Shimla. 

The Viceregal Lodge

Shimla is a place of significance in the modern history of India. Certain crucial decisions that shaped India’s destiny were taken here---particularly in the Viceregal Lodge, now called Rashtrapati Niwas, which is located on top of the Observatory Hill--- that we can now repent in leisure. But i am not going to discuss how history was shaped here, where, now, researchers, mostly expats, come and get to stay, silently do advance research and feel glad about it. One thing for sure, this lodge that is palatial in size, is a standing monument of colonial era and its exploitative ways. They should maintain it better or else it will soon become, also, a significant monument of government apathy.

I have had fun stay here in the past with friends. This time, I visit Shimla with Paavo Yliluoma, my eighth flatmate. I still can’t pronounce his name correctly. He is helping me do that. I am, too, trying hard. 

On our way to Shimla we stayed overnight at Chandigarh with a friend Vijendra Trighatia. He is a brilliant photographer, great cook and a very generous host. He served us mutton curry for dinner. It was so good and plenty that I kept hogging the food till the point my stomach threatened to explode. That whole night I felt like pregnant.  

The drive from Chandigarh to Shimla is beautiful. We halted at a couple of places to have tea and coffee. This particularly good coffee shop, don’t remember the name exactly but i think was called ‘coffee beans’, is some 60 kilometres from Shimla. We sat outside on an open terrace that was overhanging high above a lush green valley. The sun was warm and the breeze cool. I could see the narrow-gauge tracks of the toy train that connects Shimla to Kalka criss-crossing through the thick vegetation like a snake. Staring at the green hills was disengaging. 

I was warned to warn Paavo about thriving population of monkeys in Shimla. It is a crowded city with people walking and monkeys stalking.

Playful monkeys. Photo: Paavo


Paavo loved them. On sighting a monkey, he would jump like one. He has a theory, though didn’t reveal the basis of that theory, that one day they, soon, the monkeys will rule the world, so we better be nice to them, now. He was nice to them because monkeys were generally nice to him as nothing tormenting happened when he and the monkeys were in close proximity. 

Paavo loved monkeys and on sighting a monkey he would jump like one.

Also, this trip was special to me in terms of understanding our d i s t a n t ancestors better. Thanks to Paavo and this interesting experience. My room had a glass window. On the sill a monkey-couple were intimately indulgent: she literally ass-licked him. I now know they do that. They might not indulge in sex only for procreation, like humans, but their togetherness seemed very pleasurable, about love and bonding. I saw his erect penis that reminded me of an anther of flower. And then they took turns to pick ticks, fleas, and lice from each other’s furry coat. I peeked at their intimate moments with the joy of a paparazzi. 
Some private moments. Photo: Paavo

My friend Bidhu and his wife Sheena made our stay memorable. Both of them hold senior positions in the government. I had three meals with them in two days of stay. I practically knocked the door of their dream-come-true-house whenever it was time to eat. They live in a 170 years old lodge that has a huge balcony overlooking the city of Shimla. Sheena fed us with some international delicacies; Bidhu treated us with the choicest single malt available. We were obliged to get drunk. It was just fantastic.

Bidhu arranged for our stay in Spars Lodge--a homely place that serves good home cooked food.

I didn’t drive in Shimla at all, just walked, some 20 kilometres in two days. One morning, i went for a jog, my lungs struggled, was gaping for more oxygen in the rarefied clean air of Shimla. Perhaps, i am so used to Delhi’s smog. A hundred years ago, tuberculosis patients were prescribed a two months stay in Shimla as part of the treatment. Or was this the only treatment available at that time? 
I like the tardy pace of the place. In the evening people come out of their houses and walk the Mall. Old men, looked like retired colonel of the army, can be seen walking briskly with an air of aristocracy. Paavo observed that people here are generally well dressed.
We started to drive back on Sunday morning to Delhi. It was a long journey. We had tandoori paratha at the famous Gyani Dhaba in Dharampura. It is described by some as the most overrated places to eat in the whole of Himachal Pradesh. I would rate it as good. 
Driving fast for hours was thrilling. Delhi greeted us with grey evening sky, a thick blanket of smoke hung low on the horizon. Life is back to usual.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Father

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry-- William Shakespeare

My brother Mayank organised a massive bhandara to remember our father. The food was offered to all, basically gatecrashers were the only invitees, was done near the Ghaziabad’s main bus stand so that hundreds of people could come and eat. They did.

These two weeks before Durga Puja called Pitra Paksha or Shraadh (literally means unconditional reverence) designated to remember ancestors.

My Father

My brother Mayank and nephew Kshitij distributing the food.

I distributed halwa

My Mother Sushma and sister-in-law Ruchi

Mother is happy.

My brother is a glad man with Kshitij.

Puris....!

Halwa..!

Kshitij shows the massive kitchen.
This time it was really elaborate: some 100 kilograms of wheat flour was used to make puris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puri_%28food%29),  50 kilograms of halwa (http://thesipoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/SUJI-KA-HALWA.jpg) and many vegetables--all cooked in desi ghee (pure milk fat).