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Showing posts from April, 2013

Stars Stay Far Away

Short Story On the day Srijan joined the residential school, a 14-year old boy was arrested from his neighbourhood for raping a 6-year old girl.  Srijan’s parents decided to put him in a residential school when he reached class 9 so that he could devote his entire time to studying and thus prepare himself for the medical course that would in due course of time enable him to fulfil his ambition to become a cardiologist.  In a world where people were becoming increasingly heartless cardiologists would be in great demand, his parents thought. Srijan was not so clear about his life’s purpose and its relationship with the world’s hearts.  But he knew clearly that his parents wouldn’t do anything without clear purposes.  So he accepted New India Public School with his whole heart. A few days in the school made Srijan wonder whether his parents had made a mistake.  He was sitting on one of the steps leading down to the playgrounds pondering about what some of his companions in t

Desolation

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Some gates thrust upon us an impression of desolation. They may be left open, but they don't invite; rather, they repulse.  It's not the Nature with her trees and plants or even its aridity that repulses; it's the gate in such a place; a gate that looks out of place; a gate that doesn't look like a gate! Take a look around and you realise that you are not alone.  There is another creature that looks forlorn too.  Its company is no consolation. Nor does it seem interested in your company.  Maybe, it's looking for something to eat.  A little water to drink.  A shelter from the heat of the summer sun in Delhi.  Is it wondering, like you, what we have done to the planet?  Why did we make such a hell out of it?  Why couldn't we get along together like the passengers on a train... knowing that the journey will end anyway? No, it's not interested in your company.  "Good bye." PS. All the pictures were taken this afternoon from one of

Free Yourself

I am not free to jump from the balcony of my residence.   If I jump, I may break one of my limbs. Because I stay on the first floor.   Freedom does not mean permission to do whatever I like.   “We are free only where we know,” said Will Durant [ The Story of Philosophy ].   Knowledge gives freedom.   Knowledge is freedom. Most of us make the mistake of thinking that doing what we like to do is freedom.   What we like is determined by our knowledge or awareness or consciousness level.   The rapist in Delhi whose number keeps rising by the day (in spite of the equally rising number of religious leaders) thinks he is free to rape a child. His knowledge or consciousness level is too low to understand why his act is based on an incomplete understanding of himself.   Passion is good and necessary for any human being.   Anyone without passion will be as good as a rock in the denuded Himalayas. Freedom is not freedom passions.   Freedom is freedom from uncoordinated or

Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox

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Book Review Author: Lois Banner Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2012 Pages: 515 Price: Rs499 “A lot of people like to think of me as innocent, so that’s the way I behave to them.  If they saw the demon in me, they would hate me… I’m more than one person, and I act differently each time.  Most of the time I’m not the person I’d like to be – certainly not a dumb blonde like they say I am; a sex freak with big boobs.”  Marilyn Monroe said this to British photographer Jack Cardiff in 1961, one year before she met her tragic end.  Marilyn lived a life she did not enjoy.  Yet that life was her choice.  Why did she choose that life if she didn’t want it?  Was it a psychological compulsion or helplessness or neurosis...?  Why did she allow so many men to walk through her life as if her life were a public park?  Did the Kennedy brothers who used her, as they did many other women, to sate their lust have anything to do with her untimely death? Marilyn died in 1962 at the ag

Way to Heaven

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"Each one reaches heaven by climbing his own particular stairway." I received this picture in 1979 on the occasion of the priestly ordination of a person who was dear to me. I don't know whether he still believes in the inscription... But I do!

Do I Dare?

Do I dare Disturb the universe? Do I dare disturb the power (god/politician/manager/baba/…) over me?  T. S. Eliot’s Prufrock asked that question in the poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock . Prufrock’s problem was his inability to be either damned or saved.  If you are damned you belong to the group of those who are counted out by the people in power.  If you are saved you are in the power ring.  Eliot’s Prufrock refused to belong in either of the places.  Probably, he was incapable of understanding the politics of the mediocre. What did Prufrock see in his world?  “One-night cheap hotels.”  “A face to meet the faces you meet.”…  And people who make the rules for that world.  The world of masks. Ultimately, it is about what kind of a world you are living in.  Who rules it?  Who manages it?  Who makes the rules? Ultimately, it is about POWER.  Might makes right .  In the jungle. Knowledge is power .  Among the knowledgeable people. Among the civ

Fairy Tale from an Asylum

Short Story Mr Sharma was sitting beside the bathtub with a fishing rod in hand.  The hook was in the tub.  There was water in the tub.  But wherever there is water there may not be fish.  That’s a natural law.  Mr Sharma was not in a mental status to recall natural laws although he could recall the whole of the Vedas from his formidable memory at the snap of a finger from his boss. Fishing in troubled waters was the lifelong hobby of Mr Sharma.  You can’t blame him for that.  What’s in the race cannot be erased even with Surf Excel Stain Eraser.  Mr Sharma’s grandfather is known to have planted an idol of Lord Rama in the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in the night of Dec 12, 1949.  That was a smart move as far as grandfather Sharma was concerned.  Grandfather Sharma saw himself as the prophet of Hindustan that would become in his imagination the Hindu subcontinent in the twenty-first century.  But grandfather Sharma would not have imagined that his grandson would be toiling sev

Da

Short Story “The threefold offspring of Prajapati, gods, men and demons lived with their father Prajapati as students of sacred knowledge.  Having completed their studentship the gods said, ‘Please instruct us, sir.’  To them he uttered the syllable da .” Baba closed the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad from which he was reading and looked at his listeners.  Thousands of faces were eagerly looking at him.  He was the source of their truths.  Their peace.  The very meaning of their existence. “I’m going to speak to you today about the meaning that the men, demons and gods found in da ,” Baba started his sermon.  Men interpreted da as datta , give.  Baba preached about the vice of greed that had entered the hearts of people.  It is a cancer, said Baba, eating up our hearts.  Nobody wants to give anything.  All are out to grab.  We have become a grabbing civilisation… The sermon on datta went on for an hour after which Baba retired to his air-conditioned office for an in

Camus’ Predicament

‘The Guest’ is a short story by Nobel laureate, Albert Camus.  It tells the story of Daru, a schoolteacher, who lives in his “schoolhouse” on a remote hillside “almost like a monk”.  One day a gendarme brings an Arab who killed his cousin in a family squabble to Daru’s schoolhouse.  Since it is wartime Daru is asked to take the murderer the next day to the police headquarters which is 20 km away.  Daru thinks it is a dishonourable job handing over any person to the police.  He hates the Arab for committing the crime.  He tells the gendarme that he will disobey the order in spite of the latter’s warning about the consequences.  And disobey he does.  The Arab is left untied in the night.  When he gets up and goes outside Daru hopes that he will run away.  But he returns to bed soon.  Daru takes him the next day having given him enough food to last for two days, instructs him about the way through the mountains to the police headquarters, tells him where he can find a resti

Your face shines like the moon

The origin of the art of flattery goes back to time immemorial.  Kings used to keep flatterers in their courts and reward them with treasures for their efforts to make the kings appear greater than they were.  It seems that kings generally suffered from acute inferiority complex which had to be cured with flattery in addition to accoutrements like shiny robes and golden crown. It’s not only kings of the bygone days that craved for flattery, their later counterparts also seem to lap it up earnestly.  Most people in power seem to love flatterers.  Is it because the desire for power and  inferiority complex are two sides of the same coin?  Whatever that be, it seems that the ability to flatter those in power is a valuable life skill.  The benefits one can derive using this art skilfully may not be insignificant at all.  In fact, it is much more useful than intelligence or what is generally known as IQ. Robert Sternberg, psychologist, defined practical intelligence as a

I’m yours Ma’am

[A story in as few words as possible] I’ll get rid of him from the firm in a month, said Ma’am. You’d better rise to the standard set by Ma’am, said he. And Ma'am gave him an extension of another six months. :)

Female Executioner

The executioner swanned along    the corridors that smelt of perpetual repair, With the Cheshire cat's grin on her grim lips, Paused a moment on the way to cheer the bearded man's music not knowing it was sad. And entered where her staff were at work, Executed the day's scrutiny, Ordered a hand chopped off here    and a head there, before retreating to her air-conditioned comfort zone with job satisfaction in her religious heart. 

The Leader Matters

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Courtesy The Hindu Many civilisations have legends or mythical stories about rulers whose immorality caused disasters such as drought in the kingdom.  What such stories sought to underscore was the importance of a good ruler.  A ruler (leader) who lacks the qualities that should go with his/her position is sure to bring some calamity or the other on the people. The calamity need not assume the form of a natural disaster.  In fact, it seldom does.  Hitler’s concentration camps were no more natural disasters than were the mass disappearances of dissenters during Stalin’s reign.  The communal riots that rocked Gujarat in 2002 were not natural reactions to the Godhra incident, much as Narendra Modi would like us to believe.  That’s why Modi’s election to BJP’s parliamentary board is a matter of serious concern.  The election of one of Modi’s major accomplices, Amit Shah, as a general secretary throws much light on the direction in which the party is trundling along.  W