Monday, October 31, 2011


Chanced upon Rumi again..

Fish don't hold the sacred liquid in cups,
they swim the huge fluid freedom.

* * * * * * *
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?

* * * * * * *

But don't be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking towards Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you've grown,

Jalaluddin Rumi, poet and mystic (1207-1273)


Two Countries

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

 Naomi Shihab Nye

Thanks, Meghna.


"I decided that islands were natural monasteries. (After all, monasteries are often compared to islands, and are called islands of peace, or serenity, or civilization, so why should the reverse not be true?) This explained why Selkirk was " a better Christian in his solitude", why Marietta believed she could listen to herself on Isla Crusoe, and why Lax found he could write poetry on Patmos.

And, like monasteries, islands were refuges offering the community life, silence, and solitude that encouraged contemplation and creativity. This explained why when islanders went to mainlands they suffered the dislocation of monks outside the cloister. Patmos was a double monastery: a natural monastery whose landscape and life was dominated by an actual one, and thereby doubly hospitable to miracles and visions, and to listening to yourself, and hearing God."

Page 164. "Searching for Paradise (formerly titled Searching for Crusoe) - A  Journey among the Last Real Islands."
Thurston Clarke

Excerpts and Amazon link-

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The sprinklers were on in the park, when you took a diversion to pass through it, this aimless Saturday morning. No one around on the pathways, there's too much water. You smile, stop, park your bike, set off on a walk, listening to music. Waiting and watching each sprinkler spray, ducking and running under it at the correct moment, gleefully failing and getting drenched, and then on to the next one. The tree barks, wet and dark, each pattern standing out, as if on a monsoon day.

In between you stop to watch the dragonflies, lazily floating around in between the old trees you know since 1988, and a few squirrels, doing Saturday morning squirrel things. And hey, that sprinkler stealthily came at you through the tree leaves while you were not watching! Happiness.

Walking back through the dryer paths, you notice young couples on benches, anxiously discussing their future. Oh what will become of us, where is our life going, will you stay by me always. You are so glad you are past that age. You can afford to walk around alone, smiling through sprinklers, your wet hair sticking to your head, your spectacles blurry, and not care, and not want anything more from life.

You are learning to empty your boat, drop your baggage, disconnect, detach, and lift up lighter and freer. You are on your way out.

From somewhere far away returns this park poem, noted down more than 20 years ago.

I caught a train that passed the town where you lived

I caught a train that passed the town where you lived.
On the journey I thought of you.
One evening when the park was soaking
You hid beneath trees, and all around you dimmed itself
as if the earth were lit by gaslight.
We had faith that love would last forever.

I caught a train that passed the town where you lived.

Brian Patten

Later, while leaving the park, you notice that the pink-flower-trees of November have started to bloom, bare branches all set to be covered in delicate blossom. Another year, another beautiful season.

*Poem from old notebook, 19 Oct 1989, Thursday

Playing for Change, again :)

This music, the concept, and the videos, are just so amazing, so positive. The beauty of all these people coming together -  both the technicality and the immense humanity, is mind-blowing.

Gimme Shelter:

"Gimme Shelter” is a track that we have wanted to record for years, and today we can finally share it with you. This song expresses the urgency we all face to unite together as a planet, and offers us wisdom with the words “War, children, it's just a shot away... Love, sister, it's just a kiss away.” It really is that simple."

War/No More Trouble:

"As we made our way around the world we encountered love, hate, rich and poor, black and white, and many different religious groups and ideologies. It became very clear that as a human race we need to transcend from the darkness to the light and music is our weapon of the future. This song around the world features musicians who have seen and overcome conflict and hatred with love and perseverance. We dont need more trouble, what we need is love. The spirit of Bob Marley always lives on."

Click here for Youtube medley for Playing for Change. Thanks again, Gary.

Photo from Google Images.


A fantastic success story of re-greening barren land, and resurrecting lives, in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, India:

Where the earth meets the sky – Timbaktu Collective

This is the story of a land that was at one time lying ravaged, drought stricken and forsaken. It was a committed revolution led by a couple, Bablu Ganguly and Mary Vattamattam, which has now transformed this land into an agro forest habitat. The unproductive soil was rejuvenated, rain water was harvested, trees were planted, crops were cultivated and the entire land blossomed...................

Timbaktu? Arcadia!

A couple—armed with ideas, patience and a Fukuoka blueprint—come to a withered Andhra district. Then the earth responded.

Watch this video where Bablu and Mary take you through the 20 years of Timbaktu.

Visit Timbaktu to know the true spirit of this land. Find information about them on their website

Photo from Google Images. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"And therein lies the whole of man's plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition."

'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', Milan Kundera

A very good commentary on the book, here.

The Limits of the Self

Just when you think you have read every possible thing by a favorite author, and you feel abandoned to your loneliness once again, you discover yet another book by him. Happiness. Milan Kundera, brother-soul. (Mais quelle audace!)

"I could put it differently: Bacon's portraits are an interrogation on the limits of the self. Up to what degree of distortion does an individual still remain himself? To what degree of distortion does a beloved person still remain a beloved person? For how long does a cherished face growing remote through illness, through madness, through hatred, through death still remain recognizable? Where is the border beyond which a self ceases to be a self?"

Page 7, Essay 1: 'The Painter's Brutal Gesture: On Francis Bacon', from 'Encounter', essays by Milan Kundera

Photo from Google Images

Pascale Lejeune

What a voice! A voice that reminds you of French singers of another time.


La Nuit

Paroles et musique : Pascal Lejeune

Pascal Lejeune : voix, percussions, lead guitare
Yves Desrosiers : banjo, guitare électrique, lap steel, percussions, pump organ, choeur
Gilles Brisebois : basse

La nuit n'a peur de personne
Même pas dans les coins sombres
Le jour se tasse à chaque seconde
Pour y laisser que son ombre

Souvent mes nuits sont blanches
Souvent mes nuits sont longues
Et quand le jour se penche
Recommence le décompte

Et on s’est quittés

Bilingue in Paris
Pascal Lejeune


À Paris, sous la pluie
On s’est embrassés, en anglais
On s’est embrassés, et tu pleurais

Mais rien n’a paru, Tes larmes sont disparues
Avec les gouttes d’eau, Les frissons dans le dos

Fermé mon parapluie, Sauté dans le taxi
Et on s’est quittés sur le champ
Et on s’est quittés sans s’échanger nos adresses...

Playing for Change

Lovely music, sent by my friend Gaurav:

Click here for Youtube medley for Playing for Change.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes, he of the stunning vocabulary and erudition, the master blender of sarcasm and subtlety, the chronicler of  pain par excellence, the giver of amazing insights, has finally won the Booker Prize. I am so happy.


Oliver: "I was dozing, I confess. Et tu? O narcoleptic and steatopygous Stuart, he of the crepuscular understanding and the Weltanschauung built of Lego. Look, can we please take the longer view? Chou-en-lai, my hero. Or Zhou-en-lai, as he later became. What do you consider to have been the effect on world history of the French revolution? To which the wise man replied, "It is too early to tell."

Page 13

Oliver: "So there I was, two-wheeling out of your sight past glinting steel silos crammed with the crushed blood of the Minervois grape, while Gillian was doing a fast-fade in my rear-view mirror. A gauche term, don't you find - rear-view mirror - so filled with plod and particularity?  Compare the snappier French: rétroviseur. Retrovision: how much we wish we had it, eh?

But we live our lives without such useful little mirrors magnifying the road just travelled. We barrel up the A61 towards Toulouse, looking ahead, looking ahead. Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. The rétroviseur: essential for not just road safety but the race's survival. Oh dear, I feel an advertising slogan coming on.

Page 19

Mme Wyatt: "People are surprised that Oliver had a nervous collapse after the death of his father. But he so hated his father, they say. Why did not that death release him from that emotion and make him happy? Well, how many reasons would you prefer? ......the death of a parent you love is in many ways simpler than the death of a parent you hate or to whom you are indifferent. Love, loss, mourning, remembering - we all know the scheme.

But what is the scheme when this is not the case, when the parent is not loved? A tranquil forgetting? I think not. Imagine the situation of someone like Oliver, who realises that for all his life as an adult, and for many years before that as well, he has lived without knowing what it is like to love a parent. You will reply that this is not so extraordinary, not so uncommon, and I will reply that this does not make it more easy."

Page 86

From 'Love, etc.'

Photo from Google Images

Sukkot, A Celebration

Never knew about this. How beautiful, to keep alive the memory of a journey, this way.

Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Biblical holiday celebrated in late September to late October. The holiday lasts seven days. The Sukkah is a walled structure covered with plant material - built for the celebration - and is intended to be a reminiscence of the type of dwelling in which the Israelites stayed during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the Sukkah and many sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog (four species). The four species include the lulav (a ripe green, closed frond from a date palm tree), the hadass (boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree), the aravah (branches with leaves from the willow tree) and the etrog (the fruit of a citron tree.) -- Paula Nelson (29 photos total)

The Descendants of Sisyphus

Every time it rains, ant houses must be flooded, right? And so throughout the rainy season, do ants spend most of their time choking with rain water and mud, having the roof come down on their heads, struggling to get out, watching their families die, their carefully stored food washed away, and then when the rain stops, go down and bring out all that mud in small lilliputian mouthfuls, without pausing to grieve - and then go through the entire process again and again and again? (Any myrmecologists out there who can answer this?)

You mean they live through this destruction and reconstruction and destruction, ad infinitum, all their short lives?

Is it easier for them to be Sisyphus-es because they cannot think or remember, and therefore cannot despair?

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard. Consider her ways, and be wise"*.

Is there another lesson here apart from the hard work?

*Proverbs 6:6. The New Testament

Photo from Google Images

Less is more

"...For many years, Hans Kuhn, a German chemist from Gottingen, has championed a related line of thought applied to biological systems. In an attempt to understand the origins and evolution of life, he has focussed on the discarding of information along the way. According to Kuhn, biological evolution consists of a series of choices where an organism relates to its surroundings. These surroundings subject it to pressure, and it must choose to act in order to survive. Its genes contain experience in survival-otherwise there would be no organism, and no genes.

The more the organism survives, the more it experiences. And the more valuable its genes become. So the interesting thing is not how many genes it has-i.e., how long its DNA is. The interesting thing is the wealth of experience deposited in its genes.

The information an organism contains in its genes has a value that is proportional to the mass of experiences compressed there. What's interesting is not the face value of the information-i.e., the size of the genes-but rather the information discarded. "This quality constitutes knowledge, where 'knowledge' is measured by the total number of bits to be discarded," Kuhn wrote. Biological knowledge, then, is defined simply as discarded information.

This also disposes of a problem that bothered many scientists when it was discovered. Lilies have far more DNA than human beings. They are beautiful, yes, but surely they are not wiser?"

Chapter 4: The Depth of Complexity. Part 1: Computation
from the book -
‘The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness down to Size’
Tor Norretranders Translated by Jonathan Sydenham

Day after quiet day passes

by Jane Hirshfield

Day after quiet day passes.
I speak to no one besides the dog.
To her,
I murmur much I would not otherwise say.

We make plans
then break them on a moment's whim.
She agrees;
though sometimes bringing
to my attention a small blue ball.

Passing the fig tree
I see it is
suddenly huge with green fruit,
which may ripen or not.

Near the gate,
I stop to watch
the sugar ants climb the top bar
and cross at the latch,
as they have now in summer for years.

In this way I study my life.
It is,
I think today,
like a dusty glass vase.

A little water,
a few flowers would be good,
I think;
but do nothing. Love is far away.
Incomprehensible sunlight falls on my hand.

"Respite" by Jane Hirshfield, from The Lives of the Heart. © Harper Perennial, 1997.

Somewhere in the World

Somewhere in the world
Something is happening
which will make its slow way here.

A cold front will come to destroy
the camellias, or perhaps it will be
a heat wave to scorch them.

A virus will move without passport
or papers to find me as I shake
a hand or kiss a cheek.

Somewhere a small quarrel
has begun, a few overheated words
ignite a conflagration,

and the smell of smoke
is on its way;
the smell of war.

Wherever I go I knock on wood—
on tabletops or tree trunks.
I rinse my hands over and over again;

I scan the newspapers
and invent alarm codes which are not
my husband's birthdate or my own.

But somewhere something is happening
against which there is no planning, only
those two aging conspirators, Hope and Luck.

"Somewhere in the World" by Linda Pastan, from Traveling Light. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heaven, an Iroquois

Turning a corner in a story and chancing upon a perfect phrase, an unexpected image, a dash of color, a finely crafted sentence with not an extra syllable, the apt word selected from among so many approximations.

In most science fiction, people communicate without words. They see into each other, feel into each other, without a word said. Is a lot of science fiction a longing for real connection?

In the meanwhile, when all you have is words, you tiptoe among them in wonder, barefoot, stopping to reverently gaze at a face carved out of dense stone, the incommunicability of our experiences through language.


"The sound of the tango is the sound of a rose weeping in the sunset,' he writes.  'It is a carnal wound, one that requires all the agility of our youth to stitch it up again. All dance is ephemeral, but the tango, for all its dramatic frenzy, is doubly so, because underlying it is the eternal langour of violins. The tango is a flimsy fabric, flung proudly about, to hide the nakedness of an evening's despair."

Page 224, 'Tangos' from 'Etudes', Aseem Kaul


"The two men stepped away from the road, marveling. The heat created a form of synaesthesia. It was loud, vulgar, it towered over them, its weight pressed down on their heads, and it leaped up from the ground and struck their faces. Who would believe that a photon had no mass?"

Page 320, 'Solar', Ian McEwan


Heaven, an Iroquois

But that's not all a citysky can do. It can go purple and keep an orange heart so the clothes of the people on the streets glow like dance-hall costumes. I have seen women stir shirts into boiled starch or put the tiniest stitches into their hose while a girl straightens the hair of her sister at the stove, and all the while heaven, unnoticed and as beautiful as an Iroquois, drifts past their windows....

Page 36, 'Jazz', Toni Morrison



".The sun went and it was dark. He sat beside her in the comfortable darkness and they listened, contentedly, to the sounds of Africa settling down for the night. A dog barked somewhere; a car engine raced and then died away; there was a touch of wind, warm dusty wind, redolent of thorn trees."

Page 234, 'The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency', Alexander McCall Smith

1: exuding fragrance : aromatic
2 a : full of a specified fragrance : scented
   b : evocative, suggestive

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

By gifts one makes slaves, and by whips one makes dogs

 In most traditional Indian families/communities, people don’t say Thanks to each other. Some people are in fact upset if you say Thank you - “One does not say Thanks to one’s own people, am I a stranger to you?” - is the usual response :)

In this context, I found the following excerpt absolutely fascinating – probably this is where it all originated?

In today's excerpt - the supposedly virtuous act of giving is often instead an act meant to create an obligation, an act whereby the giver measures himself against the receiver and requires a repayment, even if that repayment is gratitude:

"[Here] are the words of an actual hunter-gatherer - an Inuit from Greenland made famous in the Danish writer Peter Freuchen's Book of the Eskimo. Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat [for him]. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:

'Up in our country we are human!' said the hunter. 'And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.'

"The last line is something of an anthropological classic, and similar state- ments about the refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found through the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began 'comparing power with power, measuring, calculating' and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt."

Author: David Graeber   
Title: Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Publisher: Melville House
Date: Copyright 2011 by David Graeber
Pages: 79


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Audio slideshow: Mapping Africa

From the BBC site:

"From one of the earliest depictions of the continent - to the colonial scramble for land - the maps of Africa reveal a great deal about the people who have lived there through the centuries.

To try to shed new light on the African archives held by the Royal Geographical Society, London-based African community groups were asked for their views on the documents.

They spoke to Cliff Pereira and Zagba Oyortey - both African-born - who explain here how the maps tell the story of a changing continent."

Friday, October 14, 2011

I have to go to the sunset now


"There are some things  a man can't do alone. I wouldn't think of trying anything so big without....." He stopped. The heavy waves beat the hard beach, and the yellow light of the setting sun illuminated a cloud to the eastward, a clot of gold.

"Without what?", Doc asked.

"Without love", said the seer. "I have to go to the sunset now. I've come to the point where I don't think it can go down without me. That makes me seem needed." He stood up and brushed the pine needles from his threadbare overalls.

"I'll come to see you again", said Doc.

"I might be gone", the seer replied. "I've got a restlessness in me. I'll probably be gone."

Doc watched him trudge over the brim of the dune and saw the wind flip up the brim of his straw hat and the yellow sunlight up his face and glisten in his beard."

Chapter 10, 'There's a Hole in Reality Through Which We Can Look if We Wish", page 47, 48.

'Sweet Thursday', John Steinbeck


The quality of his gift is the measure of man

Oh, a treasure-trove of John Steinbeck, from a yellowing notebook from 1984. Steinbeck, all-time favorite, Steinbeck, who cannot grow old. Twenty-seven years have passed. And you can now see who all laid the foundation of who you are now. 

"Men seem to be born with a debt they can never pay no matter how hard they try. It piles up ahead of them. Man owes something to man. If he ignores the debt it poisons him, and if he tries to make payments the debt only increases, and the quality of his gift is the measure of man."

Page 14, 'Sweet Thursday', John Steinbeck


A longing for the palms of the hands...

"My day demanded to see my passport and take my finger prints.

But I had a hidden identity. My day searched me. It did not discover my tenderness.

Will the young people of the future cultivate the earth?

We are not united in a longing for dead planets. We are united in a longing for the palms of the hands."

'The Song of the Red Ruby', Agnar Mykle, 1963, translated from the Norwegian

26/1/1984, Thursday

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

John Berger

Artist, art critic, novelist, painter and author, John Berger has always fascinated me. He spans the world of words and lines/form with the same ease, and effortlessly builds bridges between the two. Modigliani, Goya, Mayakovsky, Leopardi, Danilo Dolci, Caravaggio, essays on leaving home, storytelling, art, colors, food, feelings, can never predict what one will come across in his books. He has written so much about seeing and sight - and he amply proves that if one can truly see, there are no boundaries to what worlds one can enter.

"Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and, in this, hasn't changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman."

"That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe."

"The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget."

"The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying."

For more excerpts, click the label 'John Berger' below this post.

*Photo from Google Images

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Secret Garden

Colby: If you have two lives
           Which have nothing whatsoever to do with each other
           Well, they're both unreal.

           ..It's simply the fact of being alone there
          That makes it unreal.

Lucasta: Can no one else enter?

Colby:  It can't be done by issuing invitations.
            They would just have to come
            And I should not see them coming.
            I should not hear the opening of the gate.
            They would there suddenly.

            Walking down an alley
            I should become aware of someone walking with me.
            That's the only way I can think of putting it.

Lucasta: How afraid one is of.....being hurt!

Colby:  It's not the hurting one would mind
            But the sense of desolation afterwards.

'The Confidential Clerk', T.S.Eliot

7/2/1988, Sunday

But with you

Colby, playing the piano for Lucasta:

"As a matter of fact, I think I played better
I can't bring myself to play to other people,
And when I'm alone, I can't forget
That it's only myself to whom I'm playing
But with you, it was neither solitude

'The Confidential Clerk', T.S.Eliot

7/2/1988, Sunday


Agatha: There are hours when there seems to be no past or future
              Only a present moment of pointed light
              When you want to burn. When you stretch out your hand
              To the flames.

'The Family Reunion', T.S.Eliot

5/2/1988, Friday

The things to come that sit at the door..

"I am afraid of all that has happened,
and of all  that is to come;
Of the things to come that sit at the door,
as if they had been there always.

And the past is about to happen,
And the future was long since settled."

'The Family Reunion', T.S.Eliot

5/2/1988, Friday


"But how can I explain to you?
All that I could hope to make you understand
Is only events; not what has happened.

And people to whom nothing has ever happened
Cannot understand the unimportance of events."

'The Family Reunion', T.S.Eliot

5/2/1988, Friday


 Lord Claverton’s ghost: I’ve been freed from the self that pretends to be someone,
                                         And in becoming no one, I begin to live.
                                         It is worthwhile dying, to find out what life is.

‘The Elder Statesman’, T.S.Eliot

Notebook: 1986-87 


Edward: And what is the use of all your analysis
              If I am to remain always lost in the dark?

Unidentified Guest: There is certainly no purpose
                                in remaining in the dark
                                Except long enough to clear from the mind
                                The illusion of having ever been in the light.

'The Cocktail Party', T.S.Eliot

Notebook: 1986-87

Looking into the heart of light...

"...Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not speak,
And my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

'The Wasteland', T.S.Eliot

Notebook: 1986-87 

The exact measure

"....No one can ever express the exact measure of his needs, or conceptions, or sorrows. The human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out a tune for a dancing bear, when we hope with our music to move the stars..."

'Madame Bovary', Gustave Flaubert

Notebook: 1986-87


"...The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirmed case,
He will never sleep anymore as he did, in the cot in his mother's bedroom..."

'Song of Myself', Walt Whitman

Notebook: 1986-87

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Remembered this incident from a long time ago, 16 years to be precise. Though the faces have been lost, the broad outlines, the feelings, have stayed with me. I guess it is time to tell this story.

And you could have it all, my empire of dirt...

Hurt, by Johnny Cash

I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
the only thing that's real
the needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything
what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to Act While Going Through Security :)

This is one of Barry's best!  'Dave Barry's only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need':

Security personnel are on the lookout for people who fit the Profile of Suspected Terrorists, which is as follows:

Profile of Suspected Terrorists

Sex: Male
Age: 15 through 74
Looks Suspicious?: Yes
As a smart traveller who wishes to avoid the inconvenience of being taken into a small airless interrogation room and having electrical wiring attached to your various genitals, you should make every effort to avoid fitting this profile. This mean that if you are, for example, a male, you should try to deflect the security personnel's attention away from this fact via such techniques as:

  • Wearing a dress.
  • Periodically remarking out loud to nobody in particular: "I certainly have a lot of body hair, for a woman!"

Page 42.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dancing on the Streets

Walking down the bustling East Nanjing street in Shanghai that beautiful November evening, you are instantly drawn by the jazz music being played somewhere down the street, the trumpet opening up to the clear blue skies in joy, arms outstretched. You walk faster trying to find the source, excited, you love live music on the streets. That is where music should be, rubbing shoulders with routine, offering brief glimpses of abandon.

A struggles to catch up with you. You, apparently, walk very fast – which you are usually unaware of until you notice people anxiously moving out of your way :)  She is relieved when you finally locate the source of the music – on the second-floor balcony of a huge building, there’s a live orchestra playing. And in front of us, amidst the milling crowd, a middle-aged woman dancing to the music, all by herself, smiling.

Of course you have to stop. You are amazed by her confidence, her happiness at twirling around by herself, unmindful of the crowd who give her space. This is the woman you always wanted to be. You stop and watch, smiling from ear to ear. And as was bound to happen (sigh), she notices you in that crowd, one among the two Indians – and reaches out, asking you to dance with her. You are embarrassed, try to explain to her that you cannot dance, that your eagerness to learn is only matched by your incompetence, as many dance teachers and friends would agree. Of course she does not understand English, and your embarrassment just adds to her mirth.

Manmohini Morey

The latest song on endless Repeat :)  

Manmohini Morey, featuring Aditya Rao and Shankar Tucker, with Ajay Ravichandran on the mridangam.

Bought it from here:


There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos...

Milan Kundera

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

That's how the light gets in

So this is an attempt to store only my writing, no reading excerpts, at one place - hoping it will make me want to write more :)

Will continue to post here too, in case I write anything new.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Soul Mountain

Soul Mountain, by Gao Xingjian, the Nobel Prize winner, narrates the story of a man who is falsely diagnosed with lung cancer and is given only a few months to live. It is part autobiographical, part fictional. He decides that he will use this time to search for Lingshan, the mythical mountain, supposedly situated at the source of the mighty Yangtze river, a last attempt at living a “real” life. He decides to walk all the way up the river, he crosses many villages and lives, and enters and fades out of so many stories, myths, and folklore, often bizarre - and meets himself at every turn of the way.

This book shakes you up, for reasons you are not entirely sure of. It alternates between the second and first person singular, suggesting two sides to the same character, an ego and an alter ego. You are drawn into, nay dragged into the novel, at the very first sentence, and you walk along with the protagonist, across mountain ranges, streams, suffering all that he suffers, living through all his highs and lows, drowning in his desperate seeking, and coming up again, with him.

In some way, you realize he’s a brother, Someone Like You. Somewhere you are at peace, walking along with him. And the lessons we learn together on the journey teach you detachment, at the same time.

Many years later, you find yourself suddenly in a hotel room, in a cold foreign country, the windows opening on to bare treeless open dry land and a few concrete buildings, and the lights of flights taking off at the airport nearby, the only sign of life. The total isolation, the lack of friendliness in people, the absence of sunlight and trees, everything depresses you no end. You miss home, home where the sun shines all year, and the people are friendly.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shankar Tucker

Fabulous music! By this 24-year-old American clarinet player, Shankar Tucker, who's been experimenting with Carnatic Classical music, among very many other things. I especially loved "Nee Nenaindal" and "Lemon Grass".
Listen to his pieces here:
"He's been playing the clarinet for 14 years, but thinks in ragas instead of chords. And, not surprisingly, his YouTube channel, TheShrutiBox, has gone viral — his music videos (original compositions and covers) have amassed over eight lakh views in just two months."

"While his mastery over the clarinet can't be doubted, he can play tabla, guitar, kanjira and an eclectic mix of eastern and western instruments. He magnificently blends the essence of jazz, pop, Indian classical to create seamless fusion."

* Photo from Google Images

Blog Archive