Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tranquil festivity

The night is dark, silent, relaxed; people blissfully nestled in the cozy lap of slumber, just that pleasant nip in the air. As I stand on the balcony, it looks any other night - silently somber, starkly beautiful, peacefully solitary; but no, tonight is different - there is the soft glow of the dancing toony bulbs lighting up my eyes, the quiet radiance of a clutch of small red lights hanging from a window in the distance, the cheerful efforts of a neighbor putting up a bead of lights in his balcony and the silhouette of his happy family clustered around it as the lights spring to life. It is still quiet, it is still beautiful, it is still peaceful, but the starkness has been taken over by light and life, the solitude, made way for solidarity - the festive season is here, Diwali is here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reading…. And feeling….

The best thing about a book, a good book let me add, is that it transports you to a different world, it’s like a whiff of fresh air, the sweet air of the unknown. It lets you stand in someone else’s shoes, understand what someone else thinks, acts and looks at life, what is important for that person’s life. The apparently trivial things bring about renewed curiosity; for those few moments changes the meaning of “importance” as defined by the society around you. The fabric, the veneer disappears, and what you see is the same world, but from a different perspective. It gives you a little, fascinating peep into yet another dimension to most unfathomable question of all “What exactly is this thing called L.I.F.E?”, the question which has so many answers, yet remains unanswered forever - probably for the better.

Well, do we really want to get transported to a world different from the ones we are really in? Are we all “running away”, as the cynics call it? Let that be for another time :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When time stood still

This was something which I experienced quite some time back, but remains forever etched in my mind. it is almost beyond my limited capabilities to capture it in words, but well, there is no harm in trying, is there :)

It was one of the many corporate soccer tournaments in Hyderabad in which Microsoft was playing. It was the semi-finals, and I was lucky enough to be playing as a striker in the team. We hadn’t really been in the best of form, having been eliminated pretty early in our last tournament. Mid-way through the 2nd half, I somehow managed to sneak in behind their last defender, one of our excellent mid-fielders spotted me and raked in a pin-point through pass. The ball was at my feet, the opponent goal in front and their goal-keeper in between. That’s what I remember. The next thing in my conscious thought was the ball nestling at the back of the net. What happened in between is something I have never been able to remember or fathom or understand. It was like a trance, beyond conscious thought and feeling, bereft of emotion; the world seemed to have come to a standstill. I have no memories of how the ball was hit, which way the goal keeper was moving, which way the ball travelled towards the goal. Time paused for a moment….

And the next moment, exhilaration…… :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

“Strange” thoughts

First things first…. the trigger to this rambling is Tithi’s blog post (http://meetnil.blogspot.com/2011/02/that-stranger-we-meet.html ); thanks kiddo :)

The thought that struck me first is “Who is a stranger? “ Well, simply put, a stranger is someone strange, that’s obvious… Then what is strange? Someone /something we don’t understand. And what is the first emotion that comes in our mind for someone or something we don’t understand? Fear!!! Fear of the unknown, fear of getting hurt by something unpredictable. It probably all started when man first put his hand into the strange, dancing “thing” called Fire, and got his hand burnt….

And yet it is this insatiable thirst for the unknown which drives us; it the quest for the unknown and the incomprehensible which have been the cornerstone of human civilization. The man who got his hand singed by the fire wanted to understand what the fire was all about, Columbus ventured into the unknown lands of the American Continent, Newton wanted to understand the strange phenomenon of the apple landing on his head. And probably there-in lies the Balance, the fear of the unknown balanced by the desire to make it “known”. Not by foolhardy, feeble, dispassionate attempts though; imagine what would have happened if the man had persisted in keeping his hand in the fire, Columbus had given up hope or Newton had just continued observing apples falling from the tree and hoping for a “flash of light” to hit him with the explanation :)

Maybe it is the earnestness and the heart, combined with the preparation and the “brain” we put in comprehending the incomprehensible that keeps the world going, and makes it a better place to live in.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time… and hope

This was a picture taken during our recent trip to Wayanad. It remains one of my favorites, a snapshot in time which makes me think.. and wonder


To me, it depicts the eternal flow of time , from the old to the new; the seamless flow from the sleepy, ancient ruins of a forgotten temple still basking in its long-lost, yester-year glory to the vibrant, modern perspective of a young lady looking ahead, ready to take on what the future has to offer and make the world her own. It’s a cycle, the “chakra” of time each and every one of us go through, irrespective of whether we want to or not; somehow, this seems to capture the essence of life - albeit in reverse order. We start off by daring to stare at the future, ready to take on the next big challenge and scale greater heights; then someday, somehow we find ourselves peeping back longingly into those glory days. And THAT moment, as the past takes over from the future, as regrets start taking the place of dreams, we become old. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to never let that happen, to never let our past catch up with our present and taint our future, to always have the fire of eternal hope and optimism, unshaken belief and unabashed curiosity burning brightly in our lives?

PS: A special thanks to the subject, this picture (and a lot of other things as well :) ) would be incomplete without her; an even bigger thanks to the friend who allowed me to use his DSLR for this :)

PPS: I chanced across something very similar to “regrets start taking the place of dreams” somewhere else; just can’t remember where though :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Refresh with a rewind

1st post since eternity; so thought I would start  (rather re-start) with my 1st post displayed in some public forum. This is something I had written to the Telegraph India and was published in the Opinions column 7 years back. Here it is verbatim:

Sir — When the Americans created the myth of Jessica Lynch, the 19-year marine who was allegedly rescued from the clutches of the Iraqis, the media played along. Newspapers were splashed with reports, then still unconfirmed, on how valiantly she had resisted her captors. She was portrayed as the epitome of American gallantry. Such eulogies are sadly lacking for the teenaged grandson of Saddam Hussein who, much like Lynch (if hers had been a true story), resisted his captors till the end and died fighting bravely with his father and uncle. Why? Is it because Lynch belonged to the side of the victors and Qusay’s son was among the losers that his misery went unreflected upon? True, both his father and uncle were of ill-repute, but should the little boy bear the responsibility for that? Where are the voices that once grew alarmed at the torture of a teenager like Lynch? Why do they not speak up for the killing of Qusay’s teenaged son by the American forces?

Yours faithfully,
Ranajoy Sanyal, Calcutta

and here is the link to the opinion page.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Friends - and how they can make you feel good

It feels good to know that you are important in someone else's life, that someone considers you to be a "near and dear" one. I was looking for another apartment in Hyderabad since my parents were planning to come over and stay with me for most of the year. But then due to unavoidable circumstances, this nice little plan got postponed. When I told this to one of my apartment mates, that person (Let's say X, I am not using he/she very deliberately, apologies if "that person" or X sounds artificial) simply said "I feel good actually; good to know that you wont be moving and we will still be staying close to each other" (X said it in Bengali of course, said this straight from the heart; and its way beyond my very limited skills in English to do a translation which does justice to the underlying feeling). Now before you start making up some assumptions and judgements of your own, let me clarify that this was not selfish from X's perspective; X was also disappointed that my parents would not be able to come stay with me permanently, X shared the same disappointment I had. But X was also genuinely happy that we will still be staying close to each other. Strange, isnt it, this apparent colflict of emotions, feeling 2 apparently opposite things at the same time (or is it?). But I digress... What was heart warming was the sincerity in the statement, and I will reiterate, at the cost of sounding boring and repetitive, that is felt good, really really GOOD. The unnamed X, if you are reading this post, a heartfelt THANK YOU :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Taare Zameen Par - impressions

(spoiler warning; this post gives out the plot to a certain extent)

Speechless; thats what I was after watching the movie ( and yes, that includes the little documentary during the credits at the end). Words fail me, but still here is a honest attempt to put down the emotions, the feelings, the tears, the laughter, the turmoil, the upheaval into words.

The movie aptly starts with simple words, and then explodes into a supernova of bewildering, mind-boggling words, expressions, figures..... Seems like a symbolic representation of what society is now. We are gradually moving away from all the simple things of life; making everything more and more complicated, and finally losing our way ion those complications. "Simple is beautiful" - does anyone ever believe in this age-old adage any more?

I run the risk of osunding cliched, but TZP really is a movie which can change your entire outlook of life; whenever you see a problem now, you will probably focus on the "WHY" and not on the "symptoms". Not a new philosophy, its been there for ages; but sometimes you need that little spark, that little burst of inspiration to remind you of your "basics" - something like Taare Zameen Par. Most importantly, the movie makes you THINK. You see through the eyes of a father, who wants his dear kids to be successful in life, and is forced to keep his emotions firmly in check ; you think of a mother, for whom her sons are the world, who is going through an emotional turmoil as she desperately tries to understand her child, to make him happy yet successful in life. You see through the eyes of a kid, a kid who knows he is not meeting the expecatations of society ,and most importantly, of the people who are closest to his heart, but doesnt know WHY. And you see society as it is, stripped of its veneers; you see it as something which burdens people with the hope of expectations from the day they are born. You are never encouraged to take the "path less travelled"; you are compelled to follow a path which has been already defined for you; and if you fail, if you dont meet the infinite weight of those expectations, you are branded a loser and a failure. Is this what we really want; is this the real direction in which our society should be moving; do we have to right to sacrifice our kids, your kids, to the altar of OUR dreams and aspirations in stead of letting them blaze their own path forward? Maybe not; just maybe.....

And the movie deals with all this expertly, with the right sensitivity and just the right amount of detail. True, the extreme treatment meted out to Ishan by his father and his teachers seems a little over-dramatized; Aamir Khan's entry into the classroom of such a "proper" school seems a trifle impractical; the way Ishan was taught by Aamir at the end could probably have been dealt with at a more relaxed pace. But all these trivialities pale in comparison to how the movie is dealy with overall. Even if you can somehow stop your tears when Ishan is being battered and bruised, his self-confidence - his whole being - trampled upon by the weight of his teachers' and parents' expectations, you simply can't restrain yourself when his talent is finally recognized; the scene just at the end of the painting competition, or the very last scene will probably remain etched in your minds forever.

The painting competition was the highlight of the film for me. The focus in the eyes of Ishant and and Nikumbh as they pour their heart and soul into their paintings makes you actually FEEL how much they love what they are doing. And you see the child in Ishant as well, his eagerness to see the painting of this teacher, his friend, his philosopher, his guide. When he finally does see it, and teacher and student look at each other, the expression on their face, the depth of emotions in their eyes is something which will overwhelm you , will touch the core of your being - to me, that was the defining moment of the film. And the song ("Kholo Kholo")in the background makes the whole scene all the more overpowering. It affects every fibre of your being, chokes you with emotion - to an extent when the emotion actually hurts!!!!

Words really fail me when I try to express my emotions here; and I doubt words can ever bring out the essence of the movie. You need to see it to believe it, to feel it....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On "One of Life's Trivia" by Anton Chekhov

This is the story of a little child - a child who has all the innocence of his childhood - and a grown-up man - a "big and serious man, could not be bothered by boys and their feelings". It talks about how this man betrayed the little kid, how he cruelly hurt the boys feelings and mercilessly trampled upon them, crushing them into the deep deep earth - the wet mold of the boy's heart

The boy - a mere child of eight- trusted this man with a little secret of his; and also made him promise that he would not divulge this to his mother. The man gave his solemn word that he wouldn't. But did he care? He was too involved in his own inflated ego, his own apparent "unhappiness"; he was too keen to prove himself "innocent". The beauty of the story lies not in the secret which the boy confided in the man; the beauty lies in the way Chekhov reveals the chasm between the world of Men and the world of Children. What the man did has "no name in a child's vocabulary", but it has a name in a grown-up's vocabulary - DECEIT.

Friday, May 26, 2006

On "White Fang" by Jack London

This is not a book review, nor does it give much details about the actual story. In fact, there is really no definite purpose behind this blog post; I completed the book a few minutes back and am just allowing my mind to take over and write whatever it wants about the book.

Let me start by giving you a brief idea of what the novel is all about. The story is mostly set in the icy desolate backdrop of the Northland – a place where Nature reigns supreme in all her icy savageness, where there is nothing but the blinding whiteness of snow as far as the eye can reach. It starts with a bitter, savage chase – a chase to the death, a chase for life. It’s a chase for food – and for survival. And that’s what most of the book is all about – a fight for survival.
The subject of the story is White Fang, a wolf-dog born in the wilderness of the Northland. In his puppy hood itself, he gets into the company of Man and there starts his story. His puppy hood is plagued by brutality from his fellow puppies. He still has “the Wild” in him – that is what makes him different from them, that is what makes him their most-hated enemy. So from a very early age, he learns to fight; and this is no playful puppy fight, but a fight for survival. The world around him is ruthless and unforgiving, but he is even more so; and that is how he manages to survive. He has to fight every inch of the way and it culminates in his becoming the ultimate “fighting machine”. And then finally he finds “Love” – the love of a Man - and his life changes forever.

Throughout the book, the use of words by Jack London has been nothing short of amazing. It starts in the very first paragraph when he describes the Wild as “frozen-hearted” with a “hint of laughter” – “laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life”. Then there is the word “ki-yi” to describe the cries and whimpering of the puppy – the word is so so real you can almost hear the puppy. No other word would probably have conveyed the meaning so well. But the master stroke is probably is the usage of the word “god” for Man. For a wild wolf coming to stay in the “fires of Man”, God is nothing but Man itself – “unmistakable and inescapable”. Man is the ruler, He is the one who makes the Laws, He is the one who commands, He is the one who metes out Justice – and most importantly, He has the power to enforce His wishes. He is a tangible entity, an entity which White Fang could sense with all his 5 senses, and he has the power to make himself obeyed. This is what makes Him his Ruler, his Master.
But then when White Fang experiences Love, there is added another dimension to his god. No longer does White Fan obey Him because of His power, he obeys Him because of Love. His previous gods used to thrash him mercilessly when he disobeyed, however they hurt his physical self alone. But even a sharp word from this new god hurts him deep deep within, to the very depths of his heart and soul. And it is here that Jack London delivers the best – he calls Him the “Love-God”

May 21 2006
12:45 AM

PS: You can read the book online at http://www.literatureproject.com/white-fang/index.htm

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tirupathi darshan - the doubt

All I had was skepticism – skepticism not at the existence of God, but skepticism that a particular idol at a particular place at a particular time could be considered more “Godly” than others. And that skepticism still remains. Can this at all be true? Can there be an iota of truth in this? The very concept of “VIP Darshan” – the fact that the more money you pay the easier it is for you to seek and find God – yes, God, not an idol – seems so utterly ridiculous, so perverted!!!!! It seems to be just a case of Man’s already bloated ego reaching new heights – new heights of egoticism. Puny, powerless mortals that we are, we simply refuse to accept it; we are blinded by our ever-increasing paranoia for power, our undying love of ourselves, our unparalleled selfishness. And we choose, in fact love, to remain blind. Worthless creatures that we are, we believe – rather force ourselves to believe – that we can buy everything – even God’s graces – with that worthless immaterial material wealth – money. Is that what He would like us to do? Is that why He created us? Just because some of us are lucky enough to be “more equal” than others in terms of the materialistic pleasures of life, do we deserve God’s graces more than others? People seem to measure their own piousness and the graces they will receive from God by the amount of money they put in the “hundi” or by the number of times they put their palms together in front of the idol. Why do they do it? Do they do it because of their true love for their fellow human beings and for God? Or do they have a small voice telling them in the back f their minds that the money they put in front of God will come back to them manifold? Maybe it is the latter…. But is it???? Wont that money be better spent by helping the less fortunate – the teeming masses who are deprived of their basic rights of food, water, clothing, shelter, medicines and education? As far as my very limited experiences go, the same people who donate money to the hundi will also help the poor; so what is it that inspires them to put money in front of “God” as well? I am torn with doubt; I am still looking for an answer.