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Showing posts from February, 2017

Guru

Fiction Guru had been sitting in meditation on the hillock for as long as he could ward off the hunger that was humming in his belly.  By the time the hunger became a fire in the belly, Guru had reached enlightenment. “It was about four and a half hours that I sat there in deep meditation,” Guru declared to the devotees who had assembled at his ashram by the time he had finished his meal.  Perverts and antinationals spread the rumour that Guru’s chelas had paid in hard cash to bring in so many people as devotees.  They were the days when the Prime Minister had shoved all hard cash into the trash bin with one 8 pm television address to the nation. “Up to that moment,” Guru went on, “that moment of my enlightenment, I always thought that this is me and that is somebody else or something else.  At that moment, however, I did not know which is me and which is somebody else or something else.  Suddenly, what was me was all over the place.  The very rock on which I was sitti

An Unsuitable Boy – Review

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Reading Karan Johar’s autobiography is like watching one of his movies: you remain riveted to it from beginning till end.  It may be a world that’s quite different from the one you are used to.  The grandeur is dreamlike.  But the sorrows are more real and touching though not deeply enough.  It’s entertaining as much as a steaming cup of coffee or occasionally a drink of Scotch on the rocks.  And you know that a coffee or Scotch is not going to be much of a classic. The book begins with a self-deprecating account of the author’s childhood.  We see Karan as a chubby boy who was teased for being a “pansy” or who could not survive in a boarding school beyond a couple of days or so.  The young Karan was not very promising in any way so much so that his mother was alarmed enough to lament that he was just “ a mediocre student” who had no interest in anything particularly and one who could not even make friends.  Karan entered Bollywood without much difficulty, thanks to his fa

Divine Conundrums

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Rao and his wife appeasing the gods Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao’s faith in God is a highly expensive affair for his people.  His latest offering at Tirupati Venkateshwara Temple amounts to gold worth Rs 5.6 crore.  Earlier too he made similar weighty offerings at various other temples.  He is rewarding God for making the state of Telangana a reality.  If any individual wants to give away his/her wealth to anyone for any cause, it is his/her personal affair.  But Rao is throwing the money from the state exchequer into the temple coffers.  The taxpayers’ money is supposed to be used for the people’s welfare.  If the people of Telangana share their CM’s faith that throwing money into divine repositories is going to ensure their welfare, may God save them.  Otherwise they should question the misuse of their money. Rao is rewarding God for creating the new state. If God is going to do all such things, then what is human endeavour for?  All we need to do is

Open-Eyed Meditations - Review

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Book Review This book is a compilation of 64 inspiring meditation pieces.  Each piece, brief and to the point, deals with a specific topic, a very common human problem.  ‘How do I enhance my happiness quotient?’, ‘7 secrets of innovation’, and ‘Jealousy – a terrorist attack on self’ are three of the 64 titles.  Each piece gives eminently practical counsel on the topic.  Each piece is meant to be read and meditated on.  We have to absorb the lessons slowly, not just read and understand. ‘Valentine’s Day Secret Tips’ begins with a question: “Are you sure that your first valentine will remain your last valentine?”  The secret of maintaining a good relationship is acceptance rather than expectation, the piece goes on to counsel.  It gives us the example of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi from Ramayana.  Their love grew stronger when they set aside personal needs and focused on the other’s needs.  Kaikeyi was ready to risk her life for her husband.  But then conditions and expectations

Hemingway and the Yogi

Ernest Hemingway, Nobel laureate in literature, loved life passionately.  He loved adventure and relished the big game safaris in Africa as much as sailing through the dangers in the ocean or even punching the opponent in amateur boxing. More so, he trusted people just to know if they were trustworthy.  Many of the adventures he embraced had the potential to kill him.  He survived two plane crashes during his last safari in Africa and read with considerable amusement the obituaries that appeared in the morning’s newspapers which had presumed his death. The Yogi, on the other hand, has no passions by profession.  He is supposed to be dispassionate.  He has conquered emotions and passions.  Rig Veda says that the whole spectrum of human passions ranging from enthusiasm and creativity to depression and agony, from the heights of spiritual bliss to the heaviness of earth-bound labour, belongs to the rank and file.  The Yogi has transcended these contrary forces.  Between the ex

Pessimism in Literature

A fellow blogger whom I requested for a review of my short story collection, The Nomad Learns Morality , turned down the request on the grounds that my stories were pessimistic.  “Howsoever wrongs have been done in the past and howsoever bleak the present may be appearing, optimism needs to be preserved in one way or the other, that's what I feel,” he wrote to me.  It is almost impossible to come across such candidness in today’s world.  I found my respect for this blogger friend increase manifold merely because he cared to express his opinion so frankly.  That’s my pessimism and my realism.  When I say “It is almost impossible to come across such candidness in today’s world”, I’m expressing my pessimism.  But my respect for the friend’s candidness is my realism.  Is it the duty of a literary writer to preserve optimism?  The lion’s share of the world’s best literature would be rendered trash if we answer in the affirmative.  From the great Greek classics to the contemp

Zorba's Wisdom

There are some books which are unputdownable, yet they compel you to put them down in order to contemplate.  Every page is a bewitching invitation to turn over to the next.  Every line captures your fancy and you don’t want to leave the intoxication.  Yet your mind urges you to stop and take in a line here or a metaphor there more deeply.  One of the many books which did that to me (and will do it again when I read it again) is Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. There is very little by way of plot in this novel.  There is the first person narrator who would rather choose a book on love than a beautiful woman who offers the experience of love to him.  Then there’s Zorba, the protagonist, who is a sixty year-old man with boundless passion for life.  He thinks that a woman sleeping alone is “a shame on all men.”  The intensity of Zorba’s passion for life can seduce women, notwithstanding his age.  He is a lover, fighter, adventurer, musician, cook, miner, and enlightener. 

Mexico – A Review

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Reading Mexico: Stories by Josh Barkan will make one think that Donald Trump’s demand for the border wall is justified.   Mexico comes across in these 12 stories as a country of drug dealers and their mafia along with prostitutes and quite many people who resort to violence without too much provocation.   The stories are set in the capital city where “To live ... you have to pretend there aren’t many dangers” [‘Everything else is going to be fine’]. Each of the twelve stories shocks us with a different variety of danger.   In the very first one, ‘The Chef and El Chapo’, we meet “the most badass narco in the country” who is ushered into the Chef’s restaurant by a retinue of his AK-47 swinging guards for a uniquely tasty meal.   The Chef is under duress to prepare that exquisite meal the type of which the Boss has not tasted so far.   The reputation of the Chef is at stake.   Worse, his life as well as those of the clients present in the restaurant is in danger as the Boss

Relationships

“I am your handiwork made flesh.  You took beauty and created hideousness, and out of this monstrosity your child will be born... I am the meaning of your deeds. I am the meaning of your so-called love; your destructive, selfish, wanton love.  Your love looks just like hatred.... I was honest and you turned me into your lie.  This is not me.  This is not me.  This is you.” Salman Rushdie’s character, Boonyi, in Shalimar the Clown , spits out the above dialogue to her husband Max Ophuls.  Relationships have the tremendous power to wreak such havoc on people.  Relationships can be devastating.  Relationships can be beautiful too.  It depends on the people involved, their attitudes and motives. Relationships are quite like chemical reactions.  The elements can enter into strong and beautiful bonds creating admirably different compounds.  But unlike in chemical compounds, the individuals should be able to retain their own unique personalities in human relationships.  In a g

Brownian Motion and Karma

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Fiction The  first thing that greeted Govinda as he stepped out of home early in the morning was a spider web which stood right at the entrance to his house.  He had come out, as usual every morning, to pick up the newspaper that the delivery man would throw into the yard from the road. The spider web brought out the philosopher in Govinda.  His mind went on a contemplation trip.  Why did nature create spiders?  Just to make webs and trap insects.  Insects are created to be trapped in spider webs. What a fate!  What a futile life!  To eat and to be eaten.  And reproduce.  How redundant are these creatures?  Govinda wondered.  How redundant is life itself by and large? He thought of people.  Most people meant nothing to him: like the passengers who travelled in the same compartment in a metro train, for example.  They just jostle us along: into the compartment at one station and then out of it at another. And then we go on.  Jostling.  The jostling becomes more per

The Universe is Crazy

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Through the haze of the twilight walked in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince.  He was still the same old Little Prince (LP).  That’s why he appeared in the twilight.  When they grow up they become princes or princesses of darkness. “The Universe is a crazy place,” said LP when I asked what he had learnt after so many years of wandering among the stars and meteors.  Just imagine your own situation, he said.  Right now you are moving at about a speed of 1500 km per hour.  “You mean the speed of the rotation of the earth?” I ventured to ask.  It is dangerous to ask questions to enlightened people.  You never know how they will take your questions. They live in a different universe altogether. Precisely, he said.  If the earth is rotating at a speed of about 1500 km per hour on its axis, you are moving at that speed, aren’t you? “The earth is also revolving around the Sun at about 30 km per second,” I said.  Indeed, he consented immediately.  So you are spinn

Wings of Chances

The beaten tracks belong to the poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of teeming shores. 1   Life’s thrills belong to those who trek on the Vesuvius.  To those whose ships dare the uncharted seas. 2 Toe the line if you want to be the winner in athletics.  But there’s little fun running between lines, in circles, over again along the same track.  The dandelions flutter longing to be touched, beyond the tracks.  The longing of dandelions will acquire wings and fly in search of new horizons.  If only we could be dandelions.  With longings that grow wings.  We’d leave the beaten tracks and circular races.  We’d discover new horizons.  New ecstasies. New truths.  Personal truths are like wings.  They carry us above narrow considerations of nationalism and jingoism.  Above political games and religious terrors.  Far away from the jargon of gurus who enslave.  Pick your chance.  And grow your wings. Let no shadow fall between th

Emptiness

Some days are like that: vacuous.  Nothing stirs in the consciousness.  Even the annual budget fails to rouse the spirit.  Nothing matters really.  “Earth to earth and dust to dust,” the cleric at the funeral service makes a ghostly apparition in the consciousness filling its foreground with what William James described as “a sense of surrender to the empty passing of  time.”  Shadows walk about in the haze of moonlight that has turned marmoreal for no reason.  Reason becomes a spectre that has put on dark goggles and a mocking smirk and gallops through the dying embers in your consciousness. Clop-clop-clippety-clop. Emptiness is unbearable.  Even if it is the DNA of life. Fill it.  With whatever you like.  Words, for example.  As I’m doing.