Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Faces of 2013

Image
Janus January is named after the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus.  Janus has two faces, one looking backward and the other forward.   January is the time to look in both directions. I am terrified and challenged simultaneously by this January, January 2014.  Because 2013 has been the worst year in my life.  In spite of the fact I am not new to the usual ups and downs of life.  2013 was the year of FACES for me.   MASKS.  I had never seen so many masked faces in my life earlier.  I had never seen smiles that looked angelic but turned out to be diabolic – not even when my students cared to point it out to me.  Not ever to the extent 2013 undressed itself. I saw more than half of my colleagues lose their jobs in 2013.  I witnessed the march of capitalism and religion, hand in hand.  They marched wearing the best saris or the best of cravats available in the market.  They marched on the bones of people they buried beneath the land they acquired in the p

All the Best, Kejriwal

Image
Politics has been nothing more than an entertainment for me.  When the entertainment crossed the most stretched limits of human sensitivity, I wrote blogs to soothe the ruptures within me.  The more I watched the political dramas in my country, the more I began to find it detestable rather than entertaining.   That’s when I chose to stop writing about politics and look at humanity from literary perspectives.  I don’t know whether my choice was an escapist act.  Even Narendra Modi’s acquittal by the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate would not have prompted me to write a political commentary now.  What has prompted this blog is a question raised by someone with a pseudonym.  He seems to have taken the trouble to follow my blog using Google+ only to raise the question, what do I think of AAP’s coming to power in Delhi?  Similar questions have been raised by a few pseudonymous persons in the recent past and I ignored them.  Perhaps it’s time to tell them that I am bored, utterly
Image
Bottom and Titania in a Multiplex Bottom had walked into the multiplex for window-shopping.  The centralised air-conditioning in the multiplex was a joyful relief from the scorching heat in the city’s overcrowded open spaces.  Moreover, he could gratify his voyeuristic inclination by looking at the legs or cleavages of the pretty fairies that wafted coquettishly around with mobile phones clinging to their ears like earrings and chocobars slipping through their velveteen lips. Though he imagined the girls as fairies Bottom didn’t really believe that fairies existed.  So when he was approached by Titania, the fairy queen herself, his surprise was quite palpable.  But, like most twenty-first century boys (and girls, of course), he knew how to tackle any odd situation in life and so he overcame his surprise sooner than any person from another period of human history would. Titania had just woken up from a sleep.  But her mind was still under the influence of the overdose of the

Monkeys' Festival

Image
He came, peeped in, and hesitated a moment. Any better option? No, not much choose from.  The winter has denuded the trees. Soon the family festival started. 

Yet another Christmas

Image
Fiction Father Joseph was an eccentric priest, according to his parishioners.  His best friend was Thomas, an atheist.  People loved him, nevertheless, because he cared for them with the tenderness of a shepherd who knew every one of his sheep by name.  Yet another Christmas came and the very active parishioners were in the church building the crib.  “Is it because Jesus taught us to care more for the lost sheep that you love Thomas so much?”  Chandy asked Father Joseph while they were working on the crib. “Whoever said that Doctor Thomas was lost?” wondered Father Joseph.  Thomas the atheist was a doctor who gave free treatment to patients who could not afford to pay consultation fees.  People used his services but hated him merely for being an atheist. “He’s an atheist,” said Chandy. “Why should atheists be counted as lost?” countered Father Joseph.  “Many of the atheists are far better human beings than orthodox Christians.” “But you are a priest of the

Natural Lessons

Image
Nature can look bizarre sometimes. It may indeed be bizarre. Death and life coexist at times. Life longs to thrive, not just survive. Even in the hollow of a tree trunk life can be born and may thrive too. When there's no nature left the wild bees may come in hordes and besiege the concrete jungle with its synthetic light.  PS. All three photos were taken today, a very hazy day in Delhi.        I'm longing for sunshine.

The First Christmas

Image
Painting by Pietro Perugino (1446-1524) Fiction I had seen greed of all sorts.  My ancestors had told me about the various kings and conquerors who crossed the mountains and the seas out of greed for land and its riches, for power and wealth, or for sheer adventure.  The usual varieties of princely greed failed to enchant me.  My parents were disappointed in me as I did not grow up as a prince was supposed to.  “Caspar will be no good,” I heard my father tell my mother once, “he gazes at the sky more than is good for a prince.” My greed was for knowledge.  I wanted to know everything that lay beyond the horizon.  I wanted to know what the stars knew.  I became a star gazer.  It was thus that I noticed a unique star in the sky.  Was it a dream or an illusion?  I was not sure.  Sometimes I could not distinguish illusion from reality. The star invited me to leave the cosy comfort of the palace and explore the world beyond the horizon.  Thus it was that I started my lon

Supervisor

When the celebrations were over and people started blaming him for one flaw or the other, Anand was happy. "Why are you so happy when people accuse you of things for which you were not responsible?" asked his friend. "I was the supervisor, you see," said Anand. "So what?  The blame should go to those who failed to do their job properly and not to the supervisor." "See, when people blame you, it means that at least they are taking note of you.  Otherwise who would even know that I existed, let alone that I was the supervisor?"

Boss before God

Boss died. "Why are you sending me to Hell?" he demanded of God.  "Didn't I recite prayers everyday, morning, afternoon and evening?" God said, "Yes, Boss, you recited all the prayers.  But you were only bothered about the pronunciations.  You were not bothered about me." "But..." said Boss with his characteristic diplomacy, 'you are God.  You should not be so egoistic." "God is the surrender of the Ego, Boss," said God.  "Since you are still trying to be the Boss, go to Hell and learn to be the servant.  When you learn to serve, you will also learn to recite the prayers with some pronunciation mistakes.  Then I will accept you in Heaven."  

Homosexuality

In 2009, when the Supreme Court of India wished to legalise homosexuality there arose a controversy.  The following is adapted from what I wrote in my blog at that time. I agree with the editorial of The Hindu that the present decision of the Supreme Court to consider homosexuality a legal offence is “a retrograde decision.” Bruce Bagemihl, a biologist from Seattle, WA, found that in zoos, at least 5% of Humboldt penguin pairs are gay. He prepared an encyclopaedic survey of homosexual or transgender behaviour among more than 190 species, including butterflies and other insects.  Homosexuality, according to that voluminous study, is not rare among animals. When it comes to human beings, "Research suggests that the homosexual orientation is in place very early in the life cycle, possibly even before birth. It is found in about ten percent of the population, a figure which is surprisingly constant across cultures, irrespective of the different moral values and standards o

Boss

Image
An anecdote and an afterthought Every Monday the staff had to stay back for an hour after office for the Weekly Assessment Meeting.  Boss would speak out his Scrutiny Report.  He blamed each member of the staff for one failure or another.  “Sir,” one of the staff dared to ask one day, “don’t you ever find anything good in any of us?  We complete all the tasks in time, bring in huge profits, and the company is running well.” “Whoever said the company is not running well?” thundered Boss.  “This is your problem.  You are a thoroughly negative person and hence you see everything negatively.” The staff responded with a positive silence.  After Boss had taken charge, over a dozen staff had lost their jobs for crimes far less serious than questioning Boss. Afterthought A docile worker who does as ordered without question is the ideal worker in the corporate world.  Famous French intellectual, Foucault, said that.  The perfect fodder for the Capitalist factory

Astrology and Opinion

Image
Copyright for the above: The Hindu Just analyse the above statistics. Statistics is like the bikini.  Conceals more than reveals. Forget that old saying. Naya Chanakya says: manipulate the bikini.  Make it look like promising the paradise.

Great Expectations

Image
Material success and career advancement need not necessarily bring happiness.  Genuine happiness radiates from the core of one’s heart.  It implies that one should discover it at the core of one’s heart.  Possessions and achievements have little to do with real contentment.  They remain at the superficial level of existence.  They boost the ego. Pip, Charles Dickens’ protagonist in the novel Great Expectations (1861), is an example of this great lesson in happiness.  Pip is born in a poor family in the English countryside and he soon loses his parents.  His sister, married to Joe, looks after Pip.  Joe becomes Pip’s foster father.  As a young boy Pip is sent to the house of Miss Havisham to carry out certain works and he is enchanted by the beauty of Estella whom he meets there.  Miss Havisham is an eccentric woman who has c called a halt on her life because the man whom she had loved ditcher her.  She continues to wear her bridal dress, has stopped all the clocks in the h

Empowerment

Image
 Fiction Prabhu’s Apartments was a three storey building on the outskirts of the city.  It housed a dozen families including Prabhu’s own.  The open area in front and on the sides was meant for parking the vehicles of the owners of the flats that Prabhu had constructed and sold.  Prabhu took a personal interest in the welfare of the inmates.  The interest was his passion.  Prabhu was reading an article in the day’s newspaper on women’s empowerment when Raja, the caretaker, announced himself. “There’s a lady who insists on parking her car in our front yard,” said Raja.  He had told the lady time and again that the space was private and meant exclusively for the flat owners.  But she came every week, parked her car in the yard, and walked majestically to the beauty parlour on the other side of the road, without caring two hoots for Raja’s request. Fairness and justice was Prabhu’s predominant passion.  How can people do such a thing?  He asked himself.  How can people j

Sin and Redemption

Image
Religion can make one a devil.  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter (1850), shows how. Roger Chillingworth, a sombre scholar, marries a pretty woman, Hester, much younger in age.  During his long absence she develops an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, a pastor.  When a child is born to Hester in the protracted absence of her husband, she is labelled an adulteress and punished. All this happens in the 17 th century Boston, then a Puritan colony.  The Puritans were a kind of religious fundamentalists.  They followed the letter of the law.  Love, mercy and other such tender feelings had no place in the Puritan worldview.  People should abide by the law at any cost. Hester is punished to wear “the scarlet letter” on her bosom throughout her life.  The letter A, for Adulteress, is emblazoned on her chest, and she has to spend some time on the pillory everyday displaying herself for the edification of the public.   Dimmesdale is struck with guilt feeling

Kiss Me

Kiss me, Kiss me with the poison on your lips So that I’m energised To survive in your world.

To a God Unknown

Image
“I’m not sinning.  If Burton were doing what I am, it would be sin.”  Joseph Wayne, the protagonist of John Steinbeck’s novel, To a God Unknown , utters those words.  He is referring to his act of venerating a particular tree as sacred.  He sees the spirit of his dead father in that tree.  His brother, Burton, is a puritanical Christian for whom even the act of sex is a sin if it is indulged in except for the purpose of procreation.  Burton thinks that Joseph is committing the serious, pagan sin of worshipping a tree. Joseph tries to explain away his love for the tree as a mere “game.”  But his wife, Elizabeth, understands that it is much more than a game for him.  However, she won’t condemn him as a pagan.  She knows that her husband is a rare human being who has some peculiar qualities and proclivities. Rama, her eldest sister-in-law, had already told Elizabeth that individuals like Joseph were “born outside humanity.”  Such people are so human as to make others seem un

Tarun Tejpal

The only time I listened to Tarun Tejpal speaking in public was when he was the chief guest on the occasion of the Annual Day in my school five or six years ago.  I loved his speech.  He spoke on the importance of courage, courage to question what’s wrong.   It was an inspiring speech, a really motivating one.  It came from genuine convictions.  Tejpal’s magazine, Tehelka , has always reflected that courage.  The magazine has been questioning a lot of wrong things in Indian politics.  Tejpal had the courage to attack formidable leaders like Narendra Modi.  He brought convincing arguments and evidences against people like Modi.  I have a fair share of admiration for this person called Tarun Tejpal. The scandal that has erupted is being blown out of proportion, I think.  The media loves to report about the sexual fallibility of people who have some reputation.  It’s true that Tejpal slipped; he did make a mistake.  He admits it.  See his letter to the woman concerned: http:

Perversions amidst Oppression

Image
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye , is a challenging work.  It is a complex novel with multiple themes each of which is interwoven with all others creating an intricate texture. The title reveals the dominant theme: dissatisfaction with one’s self and longing for something that can make the self appear better.  Pecola longs for the bluest eyes.  She is a Black girl in America.  It is not only the complexion of her skin that bothers her but also the ugliness of her appearance.   It is a perceived ugliness, to some extent.  Everybody in her family thinks that he or she is ugly.  Every one of them “wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them,” says the narrator. One’s environment – social, cultural and also the family – shapes one’s character as well as perceptions to a great extent.  Living with a man like Mr Cholly Breedlove, Pecola’s father, the family cannot but see themselves as ugly.  People like Mr Breedlove