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Showing posts from February, 2018

My scepticism is still chaste

“Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily,” ordained American philosopher George Santayana.   Santayana being a Catholic atheist, his obsession with chastity is understandable.   I relinquished my chastity one evening with the ease with which I had the first taste of whisky.   But scepticism has continued to be a loyal companion till date. Not even litres of whisky could defrost my scepticism which is more deep-rooted than a contemporary right winger’s bhakti. Source: Newsclick Right from venerable Advani ji’s Ram Rath Yatra in 1990 to the present day clandestine yatras made by cash from Indian public sector banks to foreign countries, almost everything that the right wing of my country has achieved made my eyebrows arch though without drawing attention like Priya Prakash Varrier’s arches. From the time the right wing ascended the throne in Indraprastha four years ago, my scepticism is longing for relinquishment.   Catholic atheists find it dif

Leaves of Autumn

Of late the season of autumn has gripped my fancy like a haunting ghost.   I know I have entered the autumn of my life.   The leaves have begun to fall and the shadows have begun to lengthen.   Every leaf has a story to tell.   The darkness of the shadow is directly proportionate to the intensity of the light behind you.   Let the shadow darken and let the leaves tell their tales. Source: Here That’s why I decided to participate in an A2Z challenge offered by a blogging community.   My A2Z may begin with Abracadabra and end on a magical Zenith.   I’m inviting magic to enter my blogspace.   I want the magic to create new leaves in place of the fallen ones.   I want to preserve the breeze that brings the leaves down.   The footprints cast by the rambling shadow should remain in spite of the breeze that spreads dust over them.   Before the horizon begins to be suffused with dusk’s darkness, I want to weave a magical carpet that will carry me away to a gentle world far, fa

Vanishing Acts

Book Review Title: Vanishing Acts Author: Jodi Picoult ISBN: 978-0-340-83549-4 Memory is a very unreliable thing.   Most of us keep on recreating our memories to make ourselves feel comfortable and the illusions created in the process of those modifications are necessary to make life bearable.   In the words of Jodi Picoult, “… after a while, you believe the fiction you’ve told yourself so well that you cannot remember the fact upon which it was based.” Vanishing Acts is about the role of memories in human life.   Andrew Hopkins is arrested at the age of 60 for kidnapping his own daughter 28 years ago.   Delia was just 4 then and her name was Bethany Matthews.   Andrew changed his name as well as his daughter’s as he took her to another place in order to avoid being caught.   He was divorced from his wife and she was given custody of their daughter.   Andrew was allowed to visit her and what he saw during one of those visits forced him to kidnap her.   Delia was j

Aami – Movie Review

To be a poet is to suffer deeply.   The better a poet you are, the greater your inner agonies.   Aami surveys the inner turmoil that bilingual poet Kamala Das (Madhavikutty in Malayalam) went through for most part of her life.   Married at the age of 15 to man 20 years her senior, Kamala (Aami as she is called at home) did not receive the kind of affection she longed for from her husband.   As narrated in Kamala’s autobiography, My Story , her husband ‘raped’ her in the night of their marriage.   Kamala would have loved to get some affectionate fondling from him, at least to have him caress her face after that love-making, a touch on her belly, some expression of affection, instead of being treated like an object of sexual pleasure. The longing for affection can create acute inner pains, especially when it is denied to a poet with intense passions.   Kamala said in her autobiography that she found an alternative in a man who made love to her passionately.   In the movie t


I developed a nagging backache which forced me to visit a doc.   The doc didn’t even bother to ask me any detail.   As soon as I said backache, he wrote the prescription.   I bought all those medicines simply because in this village where I live the hospital trusts you till the end.   Which means you can’t leave without paying the bill though they won’t ask for any payment until you leave. The medicines remain untouched but the pain vanished. Miracle I came home and checked the names of the medicines online.   Antibiotics and antacids and painkillers.   (And a bill of ₹449).   Any medical shop would have given me better ideas.   I didn’t take any of those medicines in spite of Maggie’s scolding.   I challenged the pain with carrying water for my garden.   I challenged the pain without singing alleluia to them.   No Praise the Lord.   No ear-splitting hymns.   Just a challenge to myself.   Three days. The pain disappeared.   The medicines still remain on my side table i

Pakoda Eaters

I love pakodas.   My tryst with pakodas began when I joined the erstwhile Sawan Public School, Delhi (RIP) as a teacher nearly two decades back.   Most important staff meetings ended with delicious pakodas prepared by the resident cooks of the school. Onion pakodas, chilly pakodas, cauliflower pakodas, paneer pakodas… Oh boy, were they delicious! Sawan was shut down in 2015 by Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) which razed the entire lot of structures – the school, hostels, staff quarters and hospital – to the ground in order to make parking space for the Baba’s affluent devotees (for the aam devotees, there was ample parking space at a little distance from the ashram).   I migrated to Kerala, to my native place, and missed Sawan’s pakodas along with quite a few other things. Image from The Wire One day, as I was returning home from the school where I work now, I saw a man selling pakodas on the roadside.   Nostalgia is a dominant sensation in me, like in many romantical

Love’s Intoxications

“You are the master of vanishing acts,” Kartik told the magician. “Make me vanish.” The magician smiled.   “What do you mean by make you vanish?” “I want to disappear from the world. I’m sick of the world.” “I can’t do that.” “You make even a train vanish. You made the Taj Mahal vanish once. Why can’t you then make a small creature like me vanish?” “Magic is just illusions, young man,” the magician continued with his unfading smile which had a magical charm.   “The train doesn’t vanish actually.   Nor does the Taj.” “Then?” “I merely divert the viewer’s attention to something else.” Kartik looked at the magician incredulously. “Have you ever seen a circus?” Magician asked. Kartik nodded his head. “Yes.” “Have you watched the trapeze artistes?” Kartik nodded again. “Sometimes the artiste on a trapeze vanishes temporarily from the attention of the audience.   The audience is sitting mesmerised by the artistes jumping from trapeze t

Ivan’s Agony

Ivan Karamazov of Dostoevsky’s novel, The Karamazov Brothers , is a highly tortured character because he cannot accept the given reality.   “I don’t accept this world of God’s,” he tells his brother Alyosha who is a highly spiritual person.   “It’s not that I don’t accept God, you must understand, it’s the world created by Him I don’t accept and cannot accept.” How can an omniscient and omnipotent God create a world with so much evil?   Ivan’s intellect cannot find a satisfactory answer to that problem.   Ivan wants a world of goodness.   If human beings make use of their rational faculty properly, the world can be a place of goodness.   Ivan is an intellectual who would love to see a coldly moral world, a world in which people’s actions are based on reason.   Ivan’s father himself is a wicked man who lives by his passions.   His step-brother, Smerdyakov, becomes a murderer because of Ivan’s cold philosophy.   Ivan is shocked beyond endurance by the murder of his own fathe

Staying Young

A WhatsApp message beeped a few minutes back as I logged on to the Net. Write something in the blog; don't disappoint your readers , said the message with a couple of emoticons.   The message was from a student of mine. Yesterday my school officially bid farewell to the class 12 students. One of the students mentioned that I helped her discover the poet in her and also that she was a regular reader of my blog.   Namrin, that student, is an amazing poet. I’m happy to present her blog here .   A class 12 student who can write lines such as: I was the one you were afraid to have and lose. Twisted, so is fate. I want to own this record, I want myself. is not just an ordinary student.   Students like her are a blessing to a teacher like me.   They keep me young. The other day a colleague of mine remarked that I belonged to New Gen though I was the oldest in the staffroom.   I said, “When I was about 20 years, I stopped growing.”   One of the reasons why I lov

I don’t trust my government

I uninstalled from my phone the UMANG app which “allows you to access Indian Government services online through web and mobile (phone)”.   It was installed because I received a message that hereafter all notifications regarding my EPF would be sent only via this app.   But when I saw that the app was demanding too much from me, like access to my contact list, to the picture gallery in my phone, to my email contact list, to the files on my phone and so on, I put my foot down and said No.   I don’t trust my government so much, I’m sorry. Source: Here There are quite a few other apps that I use which also demand a few permissions which I have given.   But I’m willing to trust those service providers – willy-nilly, though – more than my government.   For example, I trust my bank whose app also demands quite a few peeps into my private affairs.   I trust Google which actually peeps too much.   Why don’t I trust my government? My government has never given me satisfactory se

Valentine and Valmiki

“Happy Valentine’s Day, darling,” Socrates came home earlier than usual to greet his wife on love’s own day. Xanthippe frowned.   “What’s wrong with you?   First of all, you come home leaving your real Valentines behind, your beloved disciples, I mean, and then you forget that we’re now living in Hindu-satan where Valentine is a phoren demon.” “What’s in a name?” Socrates asked.   “Hindu-satan is just a counterpart of Paki-satan, names, just names.   My Plato will tell you that names are illusions thrice removed from the essence.” “Plato is your real Valentine, isn’t he?” Xanthippe threw a sidelong glance at her husband. “Plato was amused when they said that Valentine was a corruption of Valmiki,” Socrates said ignoring his wife’s insinuation about his relationship with Plato. What does she know about Platonic love? “Valmiki?” Xanthippe’s eyebrows rose to form two mighty arches on her broad forehead where the greying hairline had begun to recede. Source: M

Hornbill’s thirst

Great Hornbill [Image courtesy here ] The Great Hornbill is the state bird of Kerala.   It is called vezhambal [ വേഴാമ്പൽ ] in Malayalam.   Vezhambal appeared copiously in Malayalam literature though the present generation’s aversion to nature and its wealth has alienated the bird from literature too.   In Malayalam literary tradition, Vezhambal cannot drink water directly; it has to wait for the rains.   So vezhambal is a bird of longing in Malayalam literature. The vezhambal longs for the rain.   People long for love. When vezhambal roamed freely in the Malayalam literary landscape, love was a forbidden fruit in the Eden of Kerala.   Youngsters were supposed to marry the partners discovered by parents in what was (and still is, to a large extent) known as ‘arranged marriages’.   ‘Love marriage’ was considered an abominable aberration. I grew up in the 60s and early 70s listening to the plaintive love songs written by Vayalar Ramavarma and composed by Devarajan, argua

Broken Things

I have always been attracted to broken things.   Not that I could ever mend them.   I am poor at that sort of jobs.   In fact, I’m bad at anything practical.   I can read books and at best teach them to impressionable young people.   Nothing more.   If there is a leaking tap at home, I have to depend on a plumber.   I won’t even be able to replace a punctured tyre of my car without somebody’s assistance. But broken things enchant me. When I was 18 years old a classmate of mine quoted the catchphrase of Fevikwik in a speech: “Fixes everything except broken hearts.” I was stuck to that phrase for years.   [I think it was Fevikwik, I’m not sure.] People came and went in my life breaking hearts. Not mine; I have no heart, they say.   They broke the hearts of each other.   I saw people sitting by the shore of a weeping river and gathering the fragments of their broken hearts.   I saw them piecing the fragments together.   I broke somebody’s heart recently.   With just a sta

Modiesque India

The great writer Franz Kafka contributed the word Kafkaesque to English.   The worlds in Kafka’s novels are a veritable nightmare which is a metaphorical extension of our real life.   I suggest a new word to English: Modiesque.   My definition will be: “adjective: characteristic of a system that is at once oppressive and supportive, oppressive to the majority and supportive to a chosen group of people, and in which the majority of the oppressed perceive themselves as beneficiaries because of false propaganda.   Synonym: post-truth.” Renuka Chowdhury of Congress who dared to laugh at Modiesque India is an intelligent woman.   Like most intelligent Indians today, she is helpless in dealing with the Modiesque India.   So she chose to laugh.   Any intelligent Indian would love to laugh.   I think I am also intelligent though not as much as Arnab Gau-swami.   Renuka can afford to laugh because the Indians like me pay her salaries and perks.   Gau-swami can laugh - though he cho