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Showing posts from July, 2014

Children of Darkness

Darkness is a pervasive theme in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth .  The play opens with three witches one of whom says ominously, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” The protagonists are Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth both of whom are described as ‘children of darkness’ by the Shakespearean scholar A. C. Bradley.  It is worth quoting Bradley in some detail. “These two characters are fired by one and the same passion of ambition ; and to a considerable extent they are alike.  The disposition of each is high, proud, and commanding .  They are born to rule, if not to reign.  They are peremptory or contemptuous to their inferiors .  They are not children of light, like Brutus and Hamlet; they are of the world.  We observe in them no love of country, and no interest in the welfare of anyone outside their family .  Their habitual thoughts and aims are ... all of station and power.” Ambition in itself is a good thing.  But when ambition is coupled with the characteristics highl

Centenary of World War I

Today (July 28) is the centenary of World War I (WWI).  The War started as a family affair and then spread to the whole world because of more family affairs.  Wars are, more often than not, family affairs even today.  We, the human beings, are still as clannish as we were when our forefathers descended from the tree and started feeling ashamed of the groins that gave birth to families.  Shame breeds wars.  Shame is the other side of honour.   What triggered WWI was the murder of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand.  The year was 1914.  France was already a republic and England was a constitutional monarchy.  The rest of Europe remained conservative monarchies.  But the monarchies were already feeling the fire beneath their bottoms because of what had happened in France and England.  The common man was beginning to assert himself. It was a common man who shot the archduke Francis Ferdinand.  A common man’s crime could not have triggered a world war.  Francis Ferdin

Eagle

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An eagle I saw in Orcha a few months back I fly, I fly high, I fly very high, Heights are in my genes, My eyrie is on the cliff With no egg waiting to hatch. Eagle’s eggs are eaten by scavenging crows. They descend, the crows descend, And feed on the maggots that breed on the garbage Thrown by you people all over what you call civilisation – In the backyard of the plaza or the foreground of Gaza. The carrion of your civilisation nauseates me.                     I cannot lay eggs anymore. My bones shrink at the sight of your city. I’ll be the missing link between man and humanity. I’ll die in my eyrie one day Without any egg to hatch, Without offspring, Without grief. My unlaid egg is waiting for the Darwinian mutation in my eyrie where scavenging crows strive to ascend.

Boy

 fiction The end of a party leaves you with a feeling of emptiness.  The people leave after the singing, dancing and eating.  The noise subsides.  The balloons burst in the heat.  What remains are the plates and utensils to be washed up. “Put Raman to bed while I do the dishes,” says the exhausted wife to the husband. The husband is very understanding.  He knows that his wife is even more exhausted than he is.  They are a working couple.  The corporate bosses suck both their blood in equal measures from the waking time of 5 am to the bedtime of 12 midnight.  The time at home is also dedicated to answering emails of their respective bosses and transferring the profits to the bank balances of the bosses or the bosses’ relatives or the relatives’ relatives.  The son’s birthday party was just over.  The children of the neighbouring flats were invited.  The least they could do for their only son who had just turned five.  “Tell me a story, dad,” said Raman as soon

The Ocean Beckons

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“Anybody who’s ever mattered, anybody who’s ever been happy, anybody who’s given any gift into the world has been a divinely selfish soul, living for his own best interest.  No exceptions.” Einstein didn’t discover the theories and formulas of relativity with the intention of serving humanity.  It was his interest, his passion, to dwell on such matters.  Otherwise he wouldn’t have been Einstein.  His mind was such that it couldn’t be satisfied with anything less than those ethereal concepts. There are hundreds of artists, writers, scientists, who defied well-established and domineering (even ominously threatening) authorities in order to express the truths they had discovered.  Galileo, for example.  Even Salman Rushdie, why not? Most of us are not Einsteins and Galileos.  We are ordinary mortals who would like to do our ordinary jobs to the best of our abilities and earn our living which will help us live happily with our families or engaging in our hobbies or other me

People and human beings

In George Eliot’s novel, Silas Marner , the eponymous hero is a man who felt deceived by both god and man.  His close friend deceived him by implicating him in a theft committed by the former.  Since Marner was known for his honesty and goodness, the matter was taken to God.  The lot drawn before God after the ritual of a prayer incriminated Marner again.  The worst stab in the innocent heart of Marner was when his fianceé abandoned him to marry the man who had done the terrible injustice to him. Marner leaves the place heartbroken and settles down in Raveloe as a solitary weaver who does not socialise at all.  He cannot bring himself to join any human company.  He has lost faith in mankind.  He has lost faith in God too.  However, when he sees Sally Oates suffering from the same disease which his mother had suffered from, the natural goodness in Marner well up.  He prepares a concoction for Sally and it heals her.  Marner becomes famous in Raveloe as a man with occult powers

When all is revealed

When all is told We cannot beg for pardon. [Louis MacNiece, ‘The Sunlight on the Garden’] You cannot hide everything behind the façade of lies, however beautiful the façade is. What will pain you the most and appal those who had stood in awe will be the horror of the grin that the mask had concealed hitherto. Trade in dreams cannot go on forever, false promises will breed barren fever, the phantoms crafted in the past won’t be quelled with rituals of exorcism, confessions and angst will accompany. When all is revealed you won’t have the right to seek pardon.

Freedom to Die

Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) committed suicide.  His wife too committed suicide on the same day. Koestler was a great writer.  Parkinson’s disease and leukaemia enervated his spirits.  Below is an extract from the suicide note he wrote. Trying to commit suicide is a gamble the outcome of which will be known to the gambler only if the attempt fails, but not if it succeeds. Should this attempt fail and I survive it in a physically or mentally impaired state, in which I can no longer control what is done to me, or communicate my wishes, I hereby request that I be allowed to die in my own home and not be resuscitated or kept alive by artificial means. My reasons for deciding to put an end to my life are simple and compelling: Parkinson's disease and the slow-killing variety of leukaemia (CCI). I kept the latter a secret even from intimate friends to save them distress. After a more or less steady physical decline over the last years, the process has now reached an acut

Candid Management?!

Four ways leaders can create a candid culture .  I laughed when I saw that title on the careers page in The Hindu newspaper today [16 July].  I must have laughed my belly out because Maggie came running from the kitchen asking if I was alright.  “Shall I clip this article and give it to …?” I asked her. She looked at the title and read the fine print which said, “Start by listening.  But that is just the first step.  You also need to demonstrate that you truly want people to raise risky issues.” Maggie prohibited me from doing anything of the sort my laughing brain was conspiring to do.  “Why do you always invite trouble for yourself when you know very well that the world will never improve?” she asked. I was not convinced.  Trouble for myself doesn’t convince me.  “Please…” That settled the matter.  I put the pair of scissors back in its place. But I kept wondering why The Hindu published such an article.  How can candidness and management coexist,

Religion - Overrated?

The latest debate on Indiblogger is whether religion is overrated .  I didn't want to join the debate at all because I can only think of religion as something that is as redundant as the vestige of the ape's tail that still remains at the bottom of our spines.  I was, however, encouraged to see quite many bloggers expressing views I agree with.  Most bloggers who joined the debate argued against religion one way or another.  Even if they are believers, they seem to think that religion should be kept out of public affairs.   The question is whether religion is overrated today.  I think it has always been overrated.  Humanity was bossed over by religion until the last century.  The Enlightenment that occurred in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries altered man's attitude towards religion significantly.  But it took another century or two for man to wean himself from the mother of all illusions.  Yet, even today, religion remains an overrated phenomenon that serves as th

Puppet Show at Workplace

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You want me to be creative wearing the rigid straitjacket you’ve fabricated.  You fix the routine of my each day with sirens that bombard my mailbox. You started as my leader and turned slowly, Like a mythical insect drawing nutrition from some invisible god’s ignorance, Into a gargantuan monster whose shadow bedevilled my footsteps Wherever I went, whatever I did. And you chastise me for not being creative. Can a puppet be creative? Epilogue : “Being creative means being able to relax into uncertainty and confusion.”   [Fritjof Capra, The Hidden Connections ] Source

Forest

  Fiction Sangeeta expressed her surprise by an uproarious shout which made Prashant drop the plant he was holding.  “What a surprise!” She repeated that phrase until she reached near him and grabbed his hand shaking it wildly.   “What are you doing here in this forest?” Prashant took a while to overcome the shock of the encounter, its surprise as much as its boisterousness.  Sangeeta was his classmate during the undergraduate days when they both studied botany.  Plants were his passion while they were a “time pass” for her.  “Dad asked me to study something before I would be of marriageable age and I thought botany was the easiest to study.”  They were meeting now after a gap of over a decade.  Prashant was now doing a post-doctoral research on some endangered species of plants.  “Those apartments you see over there,” he pointed to the array of skyscrapers that blocked the sun on the adjacent hillocks, “are not meant for people deprived of homes.  They are me

Murphy’s Law

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Plagiarised from Arthur Bloch’s book,   Murphy’s Law Murphy’s Law : If anything can go wrong, it will.             Corollary:       1. Every solution breeds new problems.                 2. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.                 3. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.                 4. Mother Nature is a bitch. The Murphy Philosophy : Smile... tomorrow will be worse. Boling’s Postulate : If you are feeling good, don’t worry.  You’ll get over it. * If things appear to be going right, you have overlooked something. * Always keep a record – it indicates you’ve been working. * When in doubt, assert louder. Finagle’s Rule 6 : Do not believe in miracles – rely on them. * Capitalism:            You can win.    Socialism:            You can break even.    Mysticism:            You can quit the game. First Law of Bridge : It’s always the partner’s fault. Law of the Perversity of Nature : You can’