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Showing posts from November, 2014

Ad free Blog

I thought I would change my profession if Google Adsense could actually give me something by putting their ads in my blogs.  But I got nothing so far.  And there's no sign of anything coming at any time either.  So I'm removing all ads and sticking to the only job I know, teaching. I feel liberated now.   Liberated from the world that I may never understand. If any ad still appears in my blog, only Google is gaining. I can't help it, I suppose. 

War and Love

“You are so capable of loving.  Yet why do you fight and kill men?”  Briseis asked. “Fighting is not my choice,” said Achilles having planted a passionate kiss on the ruby lips below Brisei’s lilac eyes.  Her eyes resembled those of a gazelle, serene and pure.  “I inherited it from my father and his father and all the ancestors.  One cannot wish away one’s ancestral inheritance.” “I wish you could,” said Briseis wistfully.  She had lost her husband, father, mother and three brothers in the war led by Achilles’ people.  She was delivered to Achilles for the nocturnal pleasures of the day’s warrior. Achilles looked at her as the soldier dragged her along and threw her on Achilles’ bed in the tent.  The gaze and the grace of the gazelle charmed Achilles instantly.  He sat beside her on the bed and wiped away the blood from her ruby lips.  But the lips still shone like ruby.  He smelled her hair. “You a royal?” he asked. She refused to reply.  He took his towel, squ

Ego-balloons and Iagos

“Society is necessary, yet inevitably corrupting.”  This is a theme that appears repeatedly in Joseph Conrad’s novels, according literary critic David Daiches.  One of the worst things that can happen to us is to be destined to live in a society that blatantly refuses to recognise our achievements.  It becomes worse still when there is a concerted attempt to belittle us for reasons like jealousy.  The plain truth is that we all seek to be loved by the world whether we admit it or not.  We need the attention of other people though it may not be in the form of love.  The human ego is a “leaky balloon, forever requiring helium of external love to remain inflated, and ever vulnerable to the smallest pinpricks of neglect,” as Alain de Bottom said in his book Status Anxiety . Society is the place where we get that indispensable helium from.  When we buy a car that’s better than the neighbour’s or send our child to a better school, we are in fact inflating the ego-balloon.  Accor

Reaching for the stars

A former student of mine who is a diehard supporter of the BJP and its radicalism wrote on Facebook: “So some of the political parties in my country has (sic) a stern view that 'Astrology' is no science.”  I don’t know if the political parties in India have really stern views about anything, let alone astrology.  Isn’t politics, particularly the kind one finds in India, all about opportunism?  Even the BJP, my student’s own party, would have made all kinds of flip-flops had it not won the absolute majority in the Lok Sabha elections, hugging strange bedfellows and cooking up a bizarre coalition.  The drama that unfolded in Maharashtra after the Assembly elections is a mild indicator of the nature of politics in India. The stars in the heavens do not alter their positions a bit while such dramas unfold all over the world.  Do the stars affect our lives in any significant way?  When the Earl of Kent said in Shakespeare’s King Lear , “It’s the stars, / The stars above

India’s new rulers

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Capitalism has never anywhere provided good houses at moderate cost. Housing, it seems unnecessary to stress, is an important adjunct of a successful urban life. Nor does capitalism provide good health services, and when people live close together with attendant health risks, these too are important. Nor does capitalism provide efficient transportation for people—another essential of the life of the Metropolis. In Western Europe and Japan the failure of capitalism in the fields of housing, health and transportation is largely, though not completely, accepted. There industries have been intensively socialized. In the United States there remains the conviction that, however contrary the experience, private enterprise will eventually serve. Source A personage no less than John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that in his book, The Age of Uncertainty (1977).  America has succeeded in exporting that belief to quite many countries.  India, under the present leadership, is the latest entr

History

Fiction Mr Padgaonkar was having his usual Scotch whisky on rocks when his mobile phone rang its calling tune of Rang de Basanti .   A call that cannot be ignored.   Not by the editor of the leading national newspaper.   A call from the PMO.   “Cut it out,” ordered the speaker. “I will,” said Mr Padgaonkar with the obedience of a defiant school student in front of his most favourite teacher. The Prime Minister’s Office had taken note of a news item on the newspaper’s website announcing the rewriting of the country’s history by changing the heads of ICHR and NCERT.  The office didn’t want it to be news; it was a clandestine affair which was meant for today’s students and their teachers. “All the advertisements...” “... will be cancelled.  I know.  Cut out that shit,” asserted the editor.  “I know the business.”  He has been running the business for more years than the Prime Minister had run politics even in his own state as Chief Minister.  “The news won’t app

The Book Thief

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Book Review This is primarily a novel about the Nazi Germany during the Second World War years.  It tells the story of a young girl named Liesel who loses her mother and brother when is she is only 9 years old.  Her brother dies and her mother is taken away by Hitler’s people as she is a communist.  Liesel is handed over to Hans and Rosa Huberman.  She is the titular book thief and the first book is stolen during her brother’s funeral.  Symbolically, the book is A Gravedigger’s Handbook .  Her foster father will teach her how to read and she will steal a few more books eventually. Hitler’s Nazis burnt books which were seen as opposed to their interests.  The Nazis created their own history, myths and illusions.  Hitler was a powerful orator who hated one particular community of people whom he sent to their death brutally.  Death was ubiquitous in Hitler’s Germany.  No wonder, Death is the narrator of Markus Zusak’s novel.  Hitler towers behind in the background unseen an

Forgiveness

Fiction “I’m sorry, mum,” said little Nancy.  She apologised for everything from spilling the milk to forgetting to kiss her goodbye before leaving for school.  Just the opposite of her father.  Sheetal smiled wryly as she remembered the day he said goodbye to her husband.  “You are so arrogant.  What do you think you are to possess such a Himalayan ego?  You commit all kinds of blunders while dealing with people.  You don’t know how to behave in a society.  You make a fool of yourself in every party after taking the first drink....”  It was endless list of omissions and commissions.  “And you never apologise even if you know you committed the most heinous offence.  Learn to apol ogise, that’s the least you can do!” “Mum,” asked Nancy while the car was moving away from her father’s house, “what does ‘apo...’, ‘apol...’, ‘apolg...’ mean?” Mum looked into her eyes for a moment and kissed her cheek.  She repeated the question a number of times in different ways on va

Winter

The spiders and the roaches beat a retreat As November moves on to gnarled mists. They are not like the human beings And cannot put on layers to suit the season. Man is the crown of God’s creation ‘cause he can add on layers and beat the season. His smile can shine through the mist With a dagger tucked away behind the mask. Masks and layers make life’s winter warm And conceal the colour deep down While we fumble through the mist Searching for the very same colour.

Twilights

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The other day I was in Nehru Place, Delhi, one of the largest computer markets in the world.   I wanted to get a printer cartridge refilled.  People jostled against one another in the crowded squares lined on every side with shops selling computers, accessories and other related goods.  The genuine goods competed with the counterfeit in attracting buyers.  Bargains were driven in like heartless hammer blows until the counterfeit items made mostly in China –  before India got a Prime Minister who would popularise a new slogan “Make in India” – found their actual prices.  Suddenly a mellifluous chanting of Hare Rama, Hare Krishna rose above the hum of bargains and deals.  The chanting was accompanied by some musical instruments too.  While my HP cartridge was being injected with counterfeit ink, my eyes roved in the direction of the Hare Rama, Hare Krishna .  A band of foreigners attired in Indian style was chanting the mantra in apparent spiritual ecstasy.  They had attract

Nehru and Modi: poles apart

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A few weeks back the RSS mouthpiece in Malayalam, Kesari , published an article, by a man who contested the last elections on a BJP ticket, in which the writer argued that Nehru should have been the more appropriate target of Nathuram Godse’s bullets than Gandhi.  The article went on to heap as much ignominy on Nehru as possible. The Sangh Parivar could never accept people like Gandhi and Nehru whose vision was extremely inclusive.  The Parivar’s own vision was not only exclusive but also filled with hatred for people professing religions other than Hinduism.  BJP ad on the Maulana's birth anniversary Mr Narendra Modi is shrewd enough to realise the danger that underlies such a constricted vision.   Gandhi and Nehru were (and they still are) highly admired far beyond the borders of Hindutva.  Modi as Prime Minister cannot afford to denigrate such figures in other countries at least.  Hence he changed the strategy: he decided to incorporate them into the Parivar pant

The Difficulty of Being Good

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Book Review Title: The Difficulty of Being Good Author: Gurcharan Das Publisher: Penguin India, 2012 The Mahabharata is an epic that can be interpreted in numerous ways.  As Gurcharan Das says, “It is a cosmic allegory of the eternal struggle between good and evil on one plane.  At another level, it is about an all-too-human fight between the cousins of a royal family, which leads to a war and ends tragically in the death of almost everyone.  At a third level – and this is primarily the subject of my book – it is about the crisis of conscience of some of its characters.” Das spent six years studying the epic, having taken an “academic holiday” from his successful career as a writer.  Before turning to fulltime writing, Das worked with multinational companies.  The prevalence of evil in the world of human beings set Das on a kind of spiritual quest.  The Difficulty of Being Good was the outcome.  The book is an intellectual, spiritual, moral, philosophi

Born Spectator

One infant grows up and becomes a Modi Another settles down quietly with shaadi This one the coveted circle hates to enter That one gets a cabinet rank in the centre I am just glad as glad can be That I am not them, and they are not me With all my heart I do admire Politicians with their pneumatic tyre And the flashing bulb on the roof Also the hooter that’s foolproof And the way they take each poll in gaudy pomp And maim each opponent as they romp My limp and bashful spirit feeds On other people’s heroic deeds You’d think my ego it would please To vote to power one of these Well, ego it might be pleased enough But the queue at the booth is rough stuff I’d rather be a spectator than cast the vote For people who will only rock my life’s boat Confession : This is a parody on Ogden Nash’s classical poem, The Confessions of a Born Spectator , inspired by Gujarat’s decision to make voting compulsory for all adult citizens.

Kiss of Love

Kissing is certainly better than killing.  The Kiss of Love movement that started in Kerala in protest against the moral policing perpetrated by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Mortuary (as it should be named) is spreading to many other places including Delhi.  This is the real Pink Revolution, I think.  Our Prime Minister introduced the phrase ‘pink revolution’ during his election campaign in the so-called Hindi belt to refer to the beef industry allegedly sponsored by the Congress Party.  Cheap gimmicks don’t actually take one long way.  So the PM has cleaned his ways by taking up the broom which act was converted into another gimmick by his followers. What the youth of today are demanding is a vision beyond such gimmicks.  We don’t want divisive politics, they are asserting.  The people of India don’t want a government that will decide what they will eat or wear, which religion they will practise or don’t practise, and who they will marry or befriend.  The people want a gove

Jinnah: the making of a communalist

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Communalism and greed for political power are like iron and magnet.  Mohammed Ali Jinnah is a good case study.  Jinnah returned to India in 1906 having become a Barrister.  He was a secular, liberal nationalist then, a follower of Dadabhai Naoroji.  He joined the Congress and opposed the Muslim League staunchly.  Aga Khan, the first president of Muslim League, called Jinnah “our toughest opponent” and Sarojini Naidu gave him the title “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity.” When he entered the Central Legislative Council from Bombay as a Muslim member under the system of separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims, Jinnah became what historian Bipan Chandra calls “a communal nationalist.”  Jinnah was still a member of the Congress but had stepped on to the slide of communalism.  Once you are on the slide of communalism, the downward motion is quick and natural. Yet as late as 1925, Jinnah could tell a young Muslim who claimed he was a Muslim first: “My boy, no, you a

Truths in God’s Own Country

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“No,” I said vehemently into the mobile phone.  But he wouldn’t listen.  The zeal for his “Lord and God” had overwhelmed him. “Why is it that you don’t want me to come to Kerala?” he asked.  “You people claim that it is God’s own land and now you don’t want me, the God’s apostle, to come to God’s own land?” He was Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus.  He wanted to bring the light of Jesus to Kerala.  I explained to him with my whole heart and soul that the Malayalis never accepted any truth from outside the state, though they depended on other states for everything else including vegetables.  They think that they possess all the truth and nothing but the truth. “How can you make such a ridiculous claim?” exclaimed Thomas who was convinced that his Master was the only Truth and Light.  Thomas claimed that he had even verified Jesus’ truth scientifically.  “Empirically,” he amended himself when I asked, “Scientifically?”  He had touched the nail marks on Jesus’ palms an

Time Machine

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The Cast Narrator Abhinav – student Vinay – student Chetan – student Pradeep – person in 2114 Ravi – person in 2114 Shiv – person in 3114 Setting : A time machine is kept at the centre-back.  Narrator:         Mankind has travelled a long distance from the time we evolved out of the apes.  Somewhere along the way, we became civilised.  We started living more like human beings with reason and imagination than like animals with endless hunger.  We leant to respect others, their languages, religions, cultures.  We learnt to cooperate rather than compete.  We replaced kings and dictators with elected leaders.  We opened up national borders in the name of globalisation.  The world has become a global village.  Everyone is linked to anyone in the world.  The smartphone and the internet, chat zones and the digital technology – together they had made our life very easy, comfortable and lovely.  But is it really a world better than the past?  Will the future be better