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Showing posts from December, 2015

God in Literature

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George Steiner God is always present in a good work of art, literature and music.  George Steiner says that in his book, Real Presences .  That God enters our being and asks us to change ourselves.  Good literature, art and music have the power to change us.  They touch our souls, in other words.  Psychology tells us that a lot of our attitudes and behaviour are determined by our subconscious mind.  The subconscious mind is the seat of all the suppressed emotions which can take the shape of the devil at times –  when we lose our cool, for example. It is this subconscious mind that good literature touches, that good music soothes or good art cools.  The suppressed feelings undergo transformation under the influence of good art, literature or music.  That transformative power is God, in Steiner’s words. Aristotle gave it a more secular name: catharsis. The process of writing is also deeply related to the subconscious mind.  Our themes and imagery, our style and diction, t

God's Love Song

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A view from Shimla's Mall Road I willed my being into an extension And the cosmos was born in a Bang: Every birth is a terror and a joy, Every creation an extension of a core. I live, move, and have my being In all that is, and that shall be, Much as in the core that sits here. Hypothesis is what the creation was When I let myself go in a bang: An overflow of love infinite. Experiment is what the creation is When I add patterns in the mosaic: A sporting game of love unremitting. Abel was I, much as Cain was. I am the turbulence of the rolling waters, The rage of blasting bombs and fleeting bullets, The hunger in the eyes of widows and babies, The roar of the clouds, and the grace of the rainbow. And the nailed wail on the crucifix. Evolution is what the creation is, of The hell and the heaven that I am. PS.   Years pass and we undergo changes swallowing the lessons that life shoves down our throats.  Some of the

New Year

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The calendar will be replaced, The old has to give way. Even the voice, for language too grows old; Rather, language renews itself like the proverbial phoenix The new year is for making new mistakes Trying out new trails Falling into new traps and ditches Learning new lessons Writing new stories Discovering new voices   Read Sunaina Sharma's Review of The Nomad Learns Morality HERE

Christmas Gift

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Courtesy: Joshi Danie l More than a century and a half ago, Charles Dickens converted selfish Scrooge into a compassionate human being on the Christmas Day.  Today’s Indian Scrooges have awarded themselves a gargantuan pay hike on the occasion of Christmas which has already been converted into Good Governance Day.  Our MPs have decided to double their salary .  If the proposal is approved (it will be), each MP will take home Rs 280,000 every month as their salary.  Plus all the freebies whose cost will run into lakhs of rupees.  Plus a doubled pension.  When the vast majority of Indians who slog their entire life for pittances will retire in their old age with no benefits such as pensions, an MP who may serve a term of a few months or 5 years at the most will enjoy a monthly pension that is higher than the annual income of many families in the country. Democracy has been strengthened, mocks a cartoon in today’s Malayala Manorama referring to the MPs’ pay hike. 

Seekers

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The seeker walked on Winter raged all around And inside Deep in the marrow of his bones Fog descended Making the night darker Darkness mounted all around And inside Lying down on the veranda Of some shop or whatever He longed for warmth For a touch He did not open his eyes When the touch came Another body Snuggled close to him Another seeker, he thought, Of light amidst thickening fogs Of warmth against mounting cold Another seeker, another absurdity. When the dawn broke The seeker woke And saw his night’s companion, a dog, Walk away indifferently having stretched himself. From Bhatti Mines, Delhi, where seekers gather galore

The Bestseller She Wrote

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Book Review Title: The Bestseller She Wrote Author: Ravi Subramanian Publisher: Westland Ltd, 2015 Pages: 391 Price: Rs 295 Paraphrasing Francis Bacon, one may say that some books are potboilers, a few are the fire beneath the pot, and still few are the food inside the pot.  Ravi Subramanian’s latest novel, The Bestseller She Wrote , belongs to the first category.  It has all the ingredients of a successful Indian potboiler.  There is the hero who is a successful executive in a leading bank and also a famous writer, a heroine who is the quintessential Indian wife with all the virtues and no vices, and a villain who is ambitious, scheming, manipulative and above all a ravishing beauty who is happy to shed her clothes as required by the author (or the director of the movie).  The main plot revolves round a modern version of the ancient triangular love.  Aditya Kapoor is a happily married, successful banker and “a rock star author.”  Maya, his wife, is a parago

Quest

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A church in Kerala Somewhere in the gloom God took flesh upon himself He washed its feet fed the spirit’s hunger and went to hang himself On a cross. Flesh haunts flesh As the cross haunts God To be nailed to each other: The eternal quest. I wrote this poem about 20 years ago.  In those 20 years I came across very many people who were affiliated to different religions.  Some of them tried much to infuse me with their fervour and verve.  Nothing has changed a bit.  Neither me nor them.  The quest of each is different.  And that's an eternal quest.  Even God is helpless.

Christmas and Some Thoughts

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One of the best poems about Christmas that I’ve read is T. S. Eliot’s Journey of the Magi .  My short story, The First Christmas , was largely inspired by this poem. “The world went on with its usual activities of finding food, conquering lands, vanquishing other people, mating and reproducing, killing and plundering, building and destroying.”  The narrator of the story, one of the three magi, says that.  Caspar, the narrator, was on a quest because he could find no meaning in a life that revolved around eating, conquering, mating, and so on.  “If human life is the progress from being a bold, free and above all creative child to cowardice, dependence and creativity that ends in procreation in a span of about 60 or 70 years and then succumbing to death as a child in the garb of an old creature, then, my beloved, I have nothing to be proud of being born a man.”  Thus says the narrator of a Malayalam novel ( Manushyanu Oru Amukham -  A Preface to Man ) which I read soon after

Help Justice

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“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are,”   said Benjamin Franklin.  The release of the 20 year-old man who had perpetrated the most diabolic deeds on a woman against whom he had no reason to have any grudge highlights the helplessness of justice.  Asha Devi, mother of Jyoti Singh, being consoled by Shabana Azmi instead of by Justice The law is helpless since it is bound to follow the written codes.  The criminal was a juvenile when he attacked a 23 year-old paramedical student three years ago in a cold winter night in Delhi.  The juvenile satiated his lust.  Not contented with that, he went on to gratify the monster within him by inflicting the most inhuman atrocities on the hapless victim.   And tomorrow he will walk free.  Because the law is helpless!  The law has to follow the written code that a juvenile cannot be retained in the correction home more than three years.   What is the helplessness of the law doing

My Reading List for 2016

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I have set a diminutive reading target for the coming year for various reasons.   Just five novels.  If everything goes well (and I’m no optimist), the list may lengthen as the calendar turns.  Well! Umberto Eco Topping the list is Umberto Eco’s new novel, Numero Zero .  The only novel of the author that I have read is his very first one, the one that sold millions of copies in the 1980s,  Name of the Rose .  It was a thriller dexterously peppered with philosophy, theology, history and mystery.  Numero Zero will be released in India in a couple of days.  It traces a conspiracy linking a long line of events in Italian history, from the death of Mussolini to the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigade.  The Piazza Fontana bombing, the sudden death of Pope John Paul I, the Vatican banking scandal, the P2 Masonic lodge, and the shooting of Pope John Paul II, all find their place in the plot.  Many reviewers have not been very kind

Prime Minister's Handshakes

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Here are three different handshakes given recently by Prime Minister Mr Modi. "I have the control, Baby." A few days back Mr Modi and Rahul Gandhi shook hands when they met during the birthday celebrations of Sharad Pawar.  The handshake shows clearly who the Boss is.  But the eye contacts are of equals. See the eye contact below.  Notice the handshake too. Mr Oommen Chandy, Kerala Chief Minister, welcomed the Prime Minister in Kochi yesterday.  The Prime Minister cannot look Mr Chandy in the eye because the latter was chucked out of a function attended by the Prime Minister.  The strong feeling in Kerala is that Mr Modi wanted Mr Chandy out. And one more handshake from Kerala.  With Archbishop George Alancheril. The typical politician's handshake.  " The glove handshake is sometimes called the politician’s handshake. The initiator tries to give the receiver the impression that he is trustworthy and honest, but when this technique is used on a

Susanna

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Fiction Susanna’s beauty disturbed the men’s sleep.   Both Shimon and Moshe were of an age that usually tempered the passions.  Moreover, they were responsible leaders of the community.  Shimon was a rabbi and Moshe was an exegete.  If bald head was the sign of one man’s wisdom, grey hairs proclaimed the sagacity of the other.   Susanna had never expected them to do this. Painting: Guido Reni “Mate with us,” they told her bluntly.  “Or else we will bring charges of adultery against you and get you stoned to death as per the law.” Susanna had just finished her bath in the pool.  She had sent away her maids as usual and ordered them to lock the gates.  She didn’t want even her maids to see her bathing.  Her body was her private property which even the maids should not see.  Only Joachim, her husband, had access to it.  That was how Yahweh had ordained it from the time of Adam who exclaimed upon seeing Eve, “The bone of my bones!  The flesh of my flesh!” People lik

Baba’s Babies

Fiction Mukul was one of the many thousands of devotees of Radheshyam Baba.  What drew Mukul to the Baba’s ashram was curiosity rather than spirituality.  What kept him returning to the ashram was Gopika, one of the many women who managed the front offices of Radheshyam Baba.  The first thing that struck Mukul when he visited the ashram for the first time was the absence of men from the reception and other offices as well as counters.  Men managed the main gate and the security there.  Once you pass the security check, you are in a land of Gopikas.  Krishna’s Radhas.  Radheshyam Baba’s Babies. Mukul saw Gopika at the reception desk during his first visit to the ashram.  She smiled as he approached the desk on which was placed the sign ‘ENQUIRY.’  He had nothing to enquire about except the name of the charming young woman who stood behind the sign with an indeterminate smile which struck him as less plastic than the smiles of the other women he would see in the ashram ev

Can History be Civilised?

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English philosopher, C E M Joad, defined civilisation as thinking new thoughts, making new things, and obeying the rules for the smooth functioning of the society.  Yet we don’t find such people in our history books.  Our history books are filled with people who killed others, conquered their lands, and imposed themselves on other people.  How many Indians have heard of Satyendranath Bose though there is a subatomic particle (Boson) named after him?  How many Indians are ready to recognise the name Ali Akbar Khan though he is known to the world as the Indian Johann Sebastian Bach?  Why does the genius of a Shakespeare get eclipsed by a Queen Elizabeth in history books though Shakespeare’s contribution to civilisation far outweighs that of the Queen?  These are some of the many thoughts that crossed my mind as I read the very long article by A. G. Noorani, ‘ India’s Sawdust Caesar ,’ in the latest issue of Frontline .  “A year and a half after he became Prime Minister of Ind