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Showing posts from January, 2018

Moony Evening

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The moon shines down on my front yard The moon was not very pleased this evening.   I was keeping a watch out for the phenomenal blue blood super moon, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.   The clouds suffused the eastern sky conspiring against my new heartthrob. Clouds are also my friends, however.   “Deprive me of my once-in-a-lifetime experience, but give me a shower,” I chanted to the clouds with all the devotion I could muster. Prayers usually have the opposite effect.   You pray for sunshine and you get a blizzard of rain.   The clouds listened to my chanting and began to clear slowly like a lazy, arrogant deity who farted at my prayer.   A hazy red disc peeped through the miasma of shifting clouds.   Gradually the redness sharpened but not clear enough for my camera to capture.   Once-in-a-lifetime experiences cannot be facile, I reminded myself.   The clouds vanished eventually.   The earth cast its shadow on the moon whose red colour changed into the usual silver

From light to darkness

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PM Modi paying homage to the Mahatma - perfunctory Prime Minister Modi paid a perfunctory homage to Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, on his 70 th death anniversary today.   His tweet was conspicuous for what it did not say rather than what it did.   His visit to Raj Ghat was something he would have liked to avoid if he could.   The Mahatma and PM Modi are the opposite poles of a continuum that holds a nation together in spite of differences.   Gandhi’s vision was wholly inclusive while Modi’s is wholly exclusive.   It is true that Modi has come quite a way from the days of his hate speeches in the initial years of the millennium.   Not only the hatred but also the sarcasm has mellowed. Apparently.   PM Modi's tweet today It is not mellowing really.   India is witnessing communal hatred like never before.   The Mahatma’s death anniversary used to be remembered in schools with a minute’s silence until Modi became the PM.   Slowly, surreptitiously, like

Milton’s Lost Paradise

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Maggie went to visit her relatives yesterday and will return tomorrow.   Since absence makes hearts grow fonder, I was left afflicted by pangs of solitude.   Though I had started rereading The Karamazov Brothers , the feeling of loneliness became oppressive at a moment and I found myself picking up her Bible from where she keeps it after her daily evening prayers.   I opened a page randomly and there it was: 6  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.   7  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [Genesis 3: 6-7] Paradise Lost: Painting by Russian artist Pavel Popov The Bible is rather terse when it comes to things that really matter.   Why or how did the fruit open their eyes?   And w

Somewhere she died

Somewhere in Gurugram she roamed with a beer can in hand and kicks in heart. Children cried from a school bus unable to grasp the zeal of neo-patriots who pelted rocks at their window panes. Somewhere in Gurugram I bled saffron Padmavati earned hundred crore rupees The box office is a different world with its own holy cows that feed on plastic and Rajput pride and nationalist noises Somewhere in Gurugram Eklavya lost his thumb The beer can was found near the girl’s skirt Beer, blood and saffron mingled Padmavati lost her ‘i’ The girl lost her skirt and much more The patriots made her a whore Somewhere in Gurugram she died

App Trap

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Some messages that come on WhatsApp make me cry.  Because I’ll be reading them for the umpteenth time.  Why should my mornings begin with these? WhatsApp is the only messaging app I have on my phone.  Until a few days back there was FB Messenger too.  I uninstalled Messenger the moment one particular friend snapped the friendship.  Santosh used to write meaningful things and I loved reading them.  It was only for him I installed Messenger.  His writings were poetic, philosophical, funny, personal, bizarre, and just anything depending on his mood.  I loved each one of them for the resplendent personality behind them.  Then some well-wishers came between us.  Well-wishers have been my nemesis for most part of my life.  They ruined my happiness whenever they got an opportunity to do so.  Well-wishers rule the roost of messaging apps.  I get at least a hundred messages from them every day.  Clichéd rules of thumb, jokes that have gathered patina over time, muffled trumpet-blo

The Book of Strange New Things

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Book Review Title: The Book of Strange New Things Author: Michel Faber Publisher: Canongate (2015) Pages: 585 Search for meaning is one of the things that distinguishes intelligent life from others.  How much does religion help in the process?  Michel Faber’s novel, The Book of Strange New Things , takes Christianity with its Bible (which is called ‘The Book of Strange New Things’ by the inhabitants) to Oasis, a planet in a distant galaxy.  “I’m an alcoholic,” says the protagonist.  “Me too,” says Grainger, a prominent character.  “It never leaves you,” responds the protagonist.  Grainger smiles.  “Like God, huh?  More loyal than God.” The protagonist is Peter Leigh, a Christian pastor who has been appointed by a shady American corporate named USIC [whose expansion is never given; does it sound like You-Sick?] to take Jesus and his gospels to the native population of Oasis.  Before becoming a pastor, Peter was an alcoholic and a drug addict who stole others’ m

End of the World

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Painting by Adolph Hiremy Hirschl I grew up listening to a lot of stories about the imminent end of the world.  Jesus spoke pretty much about it and we listened to those biblical verses in the church often enough.  The romantic dreamer in Jesus conjured up a vivid image of “the Son of Man” coming in his glory on the final judgment day, escorted by all the angels.  In that glorious vision, God is a King ensconced on a glittering throne.  The entire mankind will assemble before him.  No one is given a choice, of course.  The King will weigh the virtues and sins of each person and accordingly assign heaven or hell. It was my childish fancy that the gala event would come soon and I would escape from the misery of life on the earth.  I don’t remember whether I gloated about sitting in heaven and smirking at all the sinners burning in hell.  As I grew up I realised that Jesus had imagined all those things long ago and nothing happened in all those 2000 years.  In my own little

Liberating Love

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It is with a heavy heart that I deleted the number from the contact list.  My Samsung phone cautioned me: Do you want to delete the number or remove it from the favourites?   And it gave me three options: Cancel / Remove / Delete .  When you have chosen a path after enough deliberation, there should be no hesitation.  I hit the delete option. Last Christmas my phone showed a number of missed calls from a particular number.  Both Maggie and I were outside home and we didn’t hear the call.  I am usually reluctant to answer calls from unrecognised numbers and I never make a return call to such numbers.  Finally Maggie answered the call from that particular number when I was still outside.  It was a call from a person whose number I had deleted from my contact list as well as memory some 15 years ago.  He said he wanted to shed a burden from his heart this Christmas day.  He said he had wanted to do it during many other previous Christmases but had no courage.  He also asked Magg

Achche Din

Fiction “Veg or non-veg?” the waiter asked.  I was travelling on Rajdhani Express which served too much of inedible food throughout the journey after which the waiters would stand at the doors of the compartment demanding what they called ‘tips’ without paying which you had no way out although you had paid a hefty sum for your journey.  Those were the days before the achche din . Those were days when the travellers could choose their food without fear irrespective of what the guy on the next seat liked. “Non-veg,” I said to the waiter because I was bored of the stale paneer they had served during lunch.  “ Tu maans khate ho ?” asked the guy who sat next to me. “I found the veg lunch boring,” I said. “Boring?” he looked menacing.  “It’s the healthiest food.” “I know,” I said. “But what they served was stale.  I’m hoping for something fresh, you know.” “Vegetarians are compassionate people,” he said. “I doubt,” I said hesitantly.  “Why?” “You se

Why politics has become boring

Mediocrity is a big bore.  What can be interesting about people fighting for power, money and manipulations?  I never took interest in politics for a large part of my youth and my well-wishers said it was because I was too full of myself.  They were not entirely wrong, I agree.  I was an egomaniac to a great extent.  But I was interesting enough to entertain my well-wishers.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have taken me as seriously as they did. Eventually I began to take interest in politics.  I was forced to.  The massacre of the Sikhs that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination jolted me, but I rationalised it as a reaction, disproportionate though, to the brutal killing of a prime minister by her own security guards.  When Graham Staines was burnt in his wagon along with his two sons aged 10 and 6, I was hurt too deeply to write about it.  The gruesome act was perpetrated by Bajrang Dal fundamentalists who claimed that Staines was converting Hindus into Christians.  I have alway

Beyond Words

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Fable The balcony belonged to the pigeon couple.  From the time we moved into the apartment they were there.  It was their home before the apartment became ours.  We didn’t disturb them except for putting up the cooler against the window.  Then they made the cooler top their home. They built their nest there and the female of the pair laid eggs which hatched in the due course of time.  The nestlings grew wings and flew away when their time came.  The cycle continued.  Years passed.  Many more eggs were laid and many more nestlings grew wings.  We cleaned up the cooler top each time the nestlings flew away. One day I was standing on the balcony when the mother started pushing a nestling out of the nest.  That was not a new sight for me.  It happens occasionally.  The first flight has to be forced sometimes.  The nestling cried.  “Ma, please, don’t,” It said. “You have to go, my dear.  You have to move on,” said the mother. There was one more nestling sitting in t

Persecution is outdated

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The world’s two largest religions by population grew large and mighty under persecution.  Both Christianity and Islam suffered much persecution in their toddler years.  Religion has a peculiar ability to convert torture into a virtue for the believer.  That’s why persecution is not the way to eliminate any religion.  Just the opposite. That’s why BJP and its allies are making a terrible mistake in India.  They are persecuting the minority communities in a variety of rather unimaginative ways like cow protection and women protection (anti-love jihad).  Neither the cows nor the women are protected and that’s not the purpose either.  The goal is to victimise certain communities of people in the name of cows and women. The ultimate goal is Hindu Rashtra. Is the strategy good, however?  History shows it is not.  The Right wing in India should invent more imaginative and effective methods for achieving their objective.  During a free period today at school, I was reading a

Mistakes

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My life was a series of mistakes.  If I am given another chance, I’ll do the whole thing differently.  But does that promise a life without mistakes?  “It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes,” as Joseph Conrad wrote.  So if I am given another chance, I’ll make mistakes different from the ones I made in this life. But I know this is the only chance.  And that’s enough too.  Perhaps the only purpose of life is to teach us certain lessons.  I am not among people who believe that life has any great purpose or meaning.  The philosophy that appealed most to me is absurdism which states that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe.  We discover meanings.  Rather we forge them for our consolation, in order to make life bearable.  We create patterns in the Brownian motion that goes on endlessly and chaotically all around us all the time.  Religions, philosophies, art, music and a whole lot of other things help us create meanings. I created quite a lot

Parents

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“All parents damage their children,” as Mitch Albom observed in The Five People You Meet in Heaven .  Parents play the most vital role in the formation of their children’s character.  Right from the hug in infancy to every word uttered to them or in their presence later on, everything makes certain impressions – many of them indelible – on the child’s mind.  Everything influences the child’s character. Image courtesy ocduk Psychologist Erik Erikson divided an individual’s life into eight stages and identified the psychological crisis that dominates in each stage.  From birth to about the age of 18 months, the crisis is trust versus mistrust .  The human infant is an utterly helpless creature unlike the infants of other animals.  It needs a tremendous lot of tender care and attention.  An infant that receives the necessary care and attention develops a sense of trust.  It helps the child is to grow up into a person who will trust other people.  On the other hand, an infant th

Upagupta and Vasavadatta

Fiction “Finally the time has come?” Vasavadatta groaned.  “But it’s too late.  Too late.” Upagupta sat down beside her on the bare ground of the graveyard where she was left to die with her limbs cut off.  He looked at her.  She could easily perceive the compassion that welled up in his eyes. “When I was whole and beautiful, I waited for you time and again with my body bathed in the finest of perfumes.  You sent my maid back with those cryptic words: the time has not come .  Now why are you here when I’m rotting and dying?  Rotting before dying!” “I wish you to know that my love is with you,” he said. “Love?”  She tried to smile. Or was it a smirk? “I loved you all those years.  The other men were only clients for me.  But you?  You were my love.  You scorned my love.” Upagupta sighed.  He continued to look into her eyes. “Whenever I see a lake or a river, I long to bathe in it.  But I feel terribly unworthy.” “So you never bathe in a river or a lake?