Monday, June 25, 2018

Feelers in Y34

It has gone far too long. I still live on without any understanding as to why my organism sometimes tends to crash soon as I get to reading (in particular). Lethargy from incomplete sleep, or tired state of being, seems the best possible answer this far - but not the definitive answer. I could induce another bout of sleep - after a night's sleep - through reading, which happened just a coupla hours back. Even now, as I start to write and engage in functional mental capabilities, a yawn happens. It is annoying - the act itself is distracting, and to think about it will be more distracting, and will get me further sleepy. Not fair.

It is the 1st  (first) day of this guy's 34th year of existence on this planet. A detestably pleasant life this has been this far. The scheming continues, but the end results continue to elude. Impulses still ride high. Highs still persist. Lows still loom. Wonder if the guy will bloom or meet his doom. Ideally, one should enculture oneself to not take offence at either. If sleep doesn't take over right at the commencement of productive activities, things could turn out for the better.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Salty physics

She took the pinch of salt in her tiny palms. It was an uncharacteristic yellow because of the crushed turmeric, and dotted with red by ground-up chilli flakes. A proximal grown-up instructed her how to enjoy the salt - to dab a bit on a fingertip of the opposite hand, and lick it off that.

She had a go, as instructed. The first dab got very little on her dry fingertip. She still went ahead with the lick. A wet finger emerged from her mouth, post-lick, which was then used for another dab. This time a nice coat of salt enveloped her fingertip. Second dabs are the best. Her finger headed back for her tongue.

The sensation - of a salt-coated fingertip on the tongue - was a new one for her. Her mouth felt disrupted, a tiny shock from salt. Her tastebuds jumped from the ingredients in the mix. The chilli flakes, in particular, came off as too hot to handle.

In the little time she'd spent observing her world, she'd learnt that any hot sensations from food imply a hot food, and the best way to fix the hotness of the food, to have it turn into manageable warmness, was to blow at the food. Her mum would do that when feeding her in morsels - phoo, phoo, deliver... phoo, phoo, another one.

She blew, too. A determined puff on the palm -  phoo! The salt disappeared.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An Indian Love Story

They met at a company dinner. He had just finished a hard day at work, and finally had some moments to relax his aching nerves. "Fourty-Five is no age to be working like I used to at twenty," he thought to himself. Indeed, that's what his body screamed, too. Gray had replaced black as the dominant color of his hair and beard (whenever it worked its way through on long weekends) over the past 10 years. Also, he now preferred the comfortable seat of the sofa cushion over the haphazard styles that he could commit to - on any sort of surface - back in his college days. He had become more solitary these days, and luxuries had come to be his new friends.

Without thinking too much into his situation, he listened to the shehnai-walas playing. The music stirred something in him. He felt hungry. A glance towards the feeding end of the hall showed that dinner had not yet been served. Having ruined his stomach over the previous weekend gorging on street delicacies, he didn't want to risk having the snacks offered. Then he noticed a queue forming at the feeding end. He wasted no time, and raced to join the queue, a proud 5th position finish.

As the queue got longer, the buzz in the room increased. Everybody was trying to rush through conversations, with an eye on when the dinner would be served. The queue, meanwhile, swelled in size. He looked back, an felt prouder of his decision to give up a comfortable seat; in his head he patted himself for making good decisions with long-term goals in mind. The 4 others ahead of him accommodated 14 more people - as is the norm with families strategizing their food assault on dinner parties, - which slightly put him off, but not by much as behind him now queued hundreds. He would be the 19th person on the dishes, which meant the best bits in all gravy dishes would still be for the grabs.

Just then, the first tinker of cutlery... somebody lifted a plate off the deck. Then another tinker... a spoon being removed from the stack. Then another one... the lid on first of the dishes being removed. Then the tinkers picked tempo as more lids were removed off the dishes and more people nudged forward and picked up cutlery. The first smells of gravy dishes wafted through the air and grew thicker, a phenomenon that everybody appreciated, as it helped build an appetite for multiple servings, especially after the past coupla hours with snacks.

After the 18th person, came his turn. He was swift in arming himself; age had made him better at least at this, he realized. The first table consisted of salad - several kinds of raw fruits and vegetables and sprouts cut and arranged in tempting shapes, and some covered in attractive colouring, begging to be picked and eaten. But he was no kid to buy into such ruse.. He was here for the big food. He knew that the salads were only meant to distract people from the mains and help with savings for the food contractor.  He ignored the salad trays and headed straight for the main dishes. He wouldn't do with any but the juiciest "chaap" pieces in the mutton stew, which he already knew would be on offer.

Curse the kid who did not realize the things that he did. The kid with the family ahead of him, who hesitated, but then did stop for the salad - the star-shaped watermelons and glacially-arranged sprouts had succeeded. As with kids, this one turned awkwardly, and hunched awkwardly to reach for the fruit. His one leg pulled back to keep his balance. This leg was what came to be our man's undoing.

Cutting across straight for the non-veg counter, he tripped over the kids' leg. His body picked up an unexpected sideways momentum, which his brain had no prior knowledge of, and hence could do nothing to control. The hunger suspended and was replaced by panic, as he felt his body hurtle down towards the dishes. He could see himself heading for either Paneer Pakhtuni or Paneer Lababdaar. Nothing could drive his hate of cottage cheese more, than seeing his head dipped in a vesselful of it. A new realization dawned in that split second... that his life won't be the same in another second.

Then, as if commissioned by God himself, came the hand that gripped him by the shoulder and stopped his fall.

[... to be continued]

Psychopath's Grooming

Reading on "grooming behavior" lends a further approval to the aphorism "nothing in this world free".
Grooming is a manipulation tactic used by most predators to gain the trust of their victims and their caretakers. Within grooming the predator may provide gifts, attention, time, mentoring, special privileges, alcohol, drugs, or companionship. If the abuser is successful, the grooming process will connect positive experiences to the perpetrator within the victim's mind. 

Essentially, what the groomer is saying is: "This is the beginning of a long-winded transaction, at the end of which I'll be the one to profit and maximally so, through my techniques of delayed manipulation. At a later stage when I decide to take advantage of you or abuse you in any way, either you would perceive it as good, or see it as an exception that is outweighed by all other goods I have done (for you), or treat it with ignorance (assent without much deliberation), or in retrospect understand it as something because of your own fault."

How we understand this world is being upfront transactional. We might sometimes lament about this culture of "transactionality", but in most cases, it is laying the foundation for a fair game. There are predators operating under the guise of favors and charity who give benevolent or empathizable behavior a bad name.
The bottom line - grooming is manipulation and demonstrates the predator’s premeditation to later violate their target.
Most of the things that shock us today start with grooming... because abuse is a long road. The longer the chapters take, the more our hearts cry out if we do ever get to know about em. Some last for a lifetime, and are buried as secrets with the abuser and the abused.


Linguistic takeover of terrorism

Radicalism has been bandied about as bad word, and a profile type to avoid/deter, not only out of our lives, but out of our societies. The term attaches bad connotation to a word that could otherwise swing both ways. Just like "kafir", or "heretic" in earlier connotation. Today we celebrate the heretics of the past, and several social/cultural reforms have been attributed to them. Renaissance had a lot of em. Our age of enlightenment, which led to the technologically driven and factually wholesome societies today (which I love more often than loathe) would'nt have come unless there were people who were labeled as outsiders for the most part.

Radical only means "relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough." 
That seems benign by definition. There could be good or bad radicals. 
The bad, malicious, sociopathic radicals are taking over the word in today's world. 
What do the good radicals get? - a  lukewarm word like 'reformer'.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A seeking on the night of lights

A tiny glance, a tiny question, and a curt negation. That was it for my visit to the nearby temple for some peacetime indulgences, a mission unaccomplished. Then I caught a pair of eyes questioningly staring at me, probably on a same mission. To them, I gestured in negation. The temple priest could thank me for one inquiry less day. My negation was enough to turn that person - who belonged to those eyes - back from where he'd been coming in from.

I caught up to the person before he could leave. A gray-haired but still very able elderly gentleman, in a religious garb of unquestionably Hindu flavor - the ochre/saffron kurta and wraparound an easy giveaway - with a curled walking stick in one hand that served more as an aesthetic than a functional purpose.
"Any other place to seek?" I inquired him.
"There's another one ahead" he replied.
And that's how we two became a team, brought together by a common seeking. Although unintentionally so, we stuck together for the next coupla hours. A very long time for seekers' fulfillment, indeed.

Thanks to such pairing, I got to see a new face of the city that I call home (Home Numero Uno). Novelty being my main drug, came aplenty on this eve. There were places, people, things and attitudes, that I stumbled into, and got to observe and experience, who I've never observed or interfaced with before.

From the Shani Mandir, we walked to the Devraha Ghat, a mere stone's throw away. Apparently the Gomti river-front is densely populated with ashrams and saint-adobes. The Ghat itself is a non-entity for the time being. The recent river-front renovation plans have pushed them into oblivion, or to better put, off the map of the new seekers. People don't visit them anymore, because they offer neither an inner calm or external aesthetic. Only once the renovation work is completed, will the ghats be restored to their earlier prime. The old people still know these exist, and visit for channelising their faith - someone who understands how faith works can better explain.

The Devraha Ghat is in a mess, apart from the temple of Devraha Rishi (देवरहा बाबा) , which is small but elegantly done. It is rare to come across idols of Indian ascetics as the centerpiece, but here's one. As I thought, such deifications/reverances gives the venue a more human appeal, and is a more effective way to connect to the spiritual core, than putting up idols of the ultra Gods of the Indian canon.

The time we turned into the temple complex adjoining the ghat, was coincidental with a devotee - a middle aged gent in a formal attire of a shirt and pants - finishing his prayers to a marble idol of the saint. At the end of the prayers, the being of the devotee is suffused with bliss. Besides, there is also an activation of the sacred offerings/prasad (प्रसाद), which after being offered to the divinity is then ready for human consumption. Being the only ones around, the good-natured blissful gent shared the Prasad with us. A coupla laddoos (sweetmeat) for I; and the same, plus Rs50 for my friend (for appearing overtly Hindu or overtly hermit, I suppose).

Thus, free food was achieved. Wait, what about that which we came seeking? - that still remained unaccomplished. Taking a gander, the hermit was dismayed - confirmed that his usual liaison was missing today. Then we planned to seek further ahead. Walking out of the temple complex, we took to the road for Q.

About a hundred meters into our resumed walk, the hermit spotted a rickshaw puller on the opposite side - a short, rotund, gray-beard - reminded of the laughing Buddha. Apparently he was an amicable guy who often had the same seeking as ours. I was instructed to hop across, and find out if he could help us. So I did. Alas, he responded in negation - the sources he mentioned were already tried and found dried up. I crossed the road back, to update the hermit. Thus, we continued further in our seeking.

Conversation happened in bursts during the long walks. Where thee be from? What thee be upto? What be thee family? Why thee be out on a day of familial attractions and obligations? Answers to these, interspersed with narratives and stratagem involving that which we were out to seek. Then a sudden few minutes of quiet. But whatever did to keep us motivated and ease his anxiety about this "lad" who decided to follow.

We turned in towards Q from the big and busy "tiraha". The hermit had planned to find a guy who satisfied seekings. He was upfront in telling me that this'd be a Muslim boy we'd be visiting; maybe he was getting over his own stance of censure to men of other religiosities (as I'd expect an overtly Hindu guy to be).

In a coupla hundred meters, we hit a square, at one corner of which was the Sharda Mata Temple. Our seekings were diverted to the frontyard of this temple, upon spotting the priest and another shaggy old fella satisfying their seeking in full view of the traffic buzzing by. The priest was a young, athletic-seeming fella who was balanced against a temple pillar; and opposite to him, at about a coupla armlengths, sat the shaggy fella busy with the seeking; and to their side, we perched.

A hit happened. A short conversation between the hermit and the shaggy fella also happened. They discussed possibilities of seeking around old Lucknow that night. Also discussed was how I didn't know the physics to a perfect chillum drag. In that time, the priest's lady (priestess?) also made an appearance. Dressed in ochre, similar to her husband, she exuded a calm, pious and sincere vibe. I hope my drifting gaze didn't offend the priest - I did think about how they co-exist, running the temple as a home, and if the priest were in direct connection with the Gods, he could've read my mind and got offended.

The shaggy fella knew a nearby prospect source. The hermit and I bid farewell and resumed the seeking. We were upbeat that this would be it. Only a few meters in, we spotted our source, languishing by the roadside, adjacent to a ragpickers' collective, in the dark of the twilight. Turns out his protege was the same Muslim guy that the hermit had earlier mentioned, and that the protege was off to his village. No luck for us here, either. Onwards, comrade.

We walked past the Q Bus Depot - memories of my travels came rushing. Past it, we took the left, towards Aminabad, which was the last venue we had decided to check out before closing our seeking for the eve. It was the longest stretch of our walk together. Past the Tunday wali gali, past the main square, past the footwear and apparel stores, to get to the Aminabad chowk (square). From the chowk, we took another left - into the avenue that I'd never explored before. Experiencing the buzz of the busy marketplace, we reached our final venue, a temple complex. The hermit turned inside, through the gates, and I followed. We skirted around the main temple, and reached the residential complex behind it - our venue. An open, thatch-roofed courtyard facilitated hangouts, and that's where we settled at after divesting of footwear.

Alien eyes darted all about. More specifically, 5 pairs of alien eyes. There was a priest, whom I greeted respectfully. With him was another visitor, or a friend. Then there were three adolescents, snake charmers by (situationally forced) profession, sitting with their snake boxes by their side. There were a few  beedis lying about - just the empty outer leaf. The inner contents of the beedis (aka the tobacco) had been exhausted. Where they were exhausted were on a newspaper. What for, needed no explanation. We were in a Shiv Mandir. Satisfaction was in progress.

The priest and his friend settled down in a cross-legged posture on the floor in the middle of the courtyard. The hermit got an invite to join in, and I followed. We seated next to those two, and thus our tiny circle of four came to be. The snake charmers, who were satisfying their seeking independently in the meantime, were asked and they offered us a tiny amount of what they had. A mix was prepared, and packed into a chillum. Then a hit.

When that finished, efforts started towards another one. The hermit was entrusted with beedis to dismantle and salvage tobacco from. I helped with optimization, making sure none of the tobacco got left behind in the beedis. The priest and his friend started a conversation that got louder with time, as its contents gained sensationality. At one point of time, the priest was narrating an incident about an accident of a friend entailing a visit to the doctor, who upon a single glance at the injured declared him to be a thug, which was a correct observation (as per the priest). It is at this time that I jumped into the conversation, asking the priest to be more specific. This is what got us talking.

The priest was a memorable kinda character. He wasn't the typical priest (as depicted in teleseries). A break from the traditional mould, I'd say. Young, disciplined in the way he'd maintained his body, simple in a vest and an ochre wrap, conversant. The last part was the most untypical about him. He would occasionally use English words, uttered in correct pronunciation. The first time I heard him, he was lampooning Baba Ramdev for fooling people with diabetes medicine. It was interesting to get in a conversation with this guy, though by the end of the evening, it got kinda annoying.

The priest introduced himself as Ashutosh, and his friend Rajkumar. I also introduced myself. My name was enough to start a discussion with the priest, him being overly fussy in how it should be correctly pronounced (duh, like I didn't know). Upon learning of my background, he mentioned his younger brother who was doing his bachelors in engineering from Annamalai University far down south (India). Then he started raving about Ankit Fadia - apparently he thought highly of him. Or maybe he wanted to interest the techie me. I interjected at this point, to clarify that AF isn't as bright a character as made to seem. I didn't reveal how AF was a mere script kiddie who had been declared a charlatan at DefCon, and whose appointment as Digital India campaign's brand ambassador dismayed me greatly.

In the meantime, another round of chillum was prepared. Before we could start, Rajkumar mentioned about my incorrect handling of the chillum, then taught me a good way to pull (there are 3 or 4 good ways, overall).

The human dimension is boundless, and I had a good run through it on this eve.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Field observations on a random day

A night ghoom has been most stimulating. A mantis, several Barsines, a few Geometrids, a coupla frogs, a groovy caterpie.. all these to welcome me, who is back to the most familiar place in my life aka home after 3 days. It wasn't a long separation, but sure feels like it, since there has been a bloom of several new species in the past week following the monsoons. The caterpillars that fed voraciously on the fauna all around are now pupating and imago-ing. Their last stage is the most exciting, since their bodies attain unique forms, more so than their caterpillar stages. It is seldom that the things most beautiful as caterpillars turn out as adult form in rather simple shapes and muted colours, but that is also one line of evolution that has gone right. Everything in the moth world gets hunted and eaten, by much larger predators of various kinds, and every size has its own hiders and seekers.

A few other reasons why the last stage of butterflies/moths is a WIN:
- A new set of legs achieved
- A new mobility mechanism achieved: Flight
- New panic response sets and related mobilities achieved
- A great transition from living as an egg-bound species, to a subterranean (as a larva), to living on the forest floor (as a caterpillar), and flying on the sweep of winds all day (as an imago)
- A redistribution of body mass achieved
- A new vision achieved
- A new feeding mechanism achieved: Proboscis
- A new food achieved: Nectar
- A new growth mechanism achieved: Molting
- A great set of sensory mechanisms achieved - highly developed antennae (among the lepids, moths have a higher sense of smell than butterflies, and also, moths have antennae in very complex shapes while butterflies have clavate antennae - surely developed in response to the need for more predictable flight and least wind resistance), highly resilient bodies (in this case as well, the moths have an upper hand - many of them even shun mouth parts to conserve their final stage bodies and do nothing but lounge during the day and breed at night, with the male being the one doing the traveling looking for a "transmitting" female through trails of pheromones scattered in the 3d spaces in nature)

In general, a much greater world awareness achieved.
Maybe they don't get as much time to think about the world as an imago. As caterpillars, they spend much more time immobile and sated, maybe that's when they do most of their thinking.

meeting old friends

As I was contemplating dinner, a friend called, and exhorted me to step out with him for a while. Being depressed through much of the day - part needs, part existential musings, - I assented. We rode (on his mobike) to Kth for a casual encounter with the T.

Indian Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, our old friend SS and Barry Bhai were the topics of discussion. I felt myself short of words or opinions on any of these topics.

The most sensational of updates was that SS has been missing since November of 2016. His wife quit the marriage not much before that - she was apparently treated like a dolt, like a tool.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

People who push your perspective

Experiences with people (real ones) is bewildering, to say the least. The most recent one left me existentially enervated. That it followed a hearty lunch, leaves me with an additional feeling of guilt - the guilt of gluttony and hedonistic indulgence.

As I returned home from the last official task of the day, I spotted an incoming Rik. The challak (driver) alighted  before a speed bump. By the look in his eyes, I had the impression that he had expectations with me. My impression was proven right when, nearing him, he urged me to climb on, for a drop. Since I was close to home, and moreover since I rarely excuse myself from a brisk walk whenever the chance, I declined his exhortations.

"बस थोड़ा ही जाना है"
"10 रुपये दे देना छोड़ देंगे साहब"

From his tone, he seemed desperate for money. I, having already crossed him, turned, and doled him a 20 rupee note. The gesture made him emotional. He lifted up his shirt to show me a stitched-up body from a recent operation - a long vertical cut extending from the sternum to below the navel, stitched poorly, dusted with some medicine.

To someone raised in an environment of sufficiency, nightmares of stitches opening and organs spilling out (with considerable blood, of course) come to the imagination aplenty. However, this guy seemed above those considerations. To the poor, rest after surgery is not an option. Here was this guy, into an occupation that demanded physical exertion, trying to have a day out working despite his organism's condition.  As a daily wage earner, the only options he had were : to make it worse by not earning, or to make it worse by exerting, of which he chose the latter.

He then started explaining how his daily medicines itself needed 100-150 bucks. Then his voice got thin and wheezy , and he got teary-eyed. It was not an enjoyable moment for I, and I shudder at thinking what kind of moment it were for him. I marched onwards, feeling heartless.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Learning to RUN again

हम तो बस कुदरत के मुरीद
तबियत हरी जब सब हरा-भरा

The monsoonal showers have almost concluded, seeing how this week has been. My greenhorn analysis is that it will rain little over the coming week, and we'll have consecutive rain-free mornings that will enable me to get out to appreciate nature, to consequently improve my cardio and build some fresh muscle. These summers (to conclude with these monsoonal showers) have been a season much spent indoors - the multi-ligament-tear event of March responsible for that.

The guilt got in so hard. Thanks to an excellent company, however, that I'm getting to rub off the guilt fast. I get to love my body again, reinvigorating the cyclic narcissism to a greater specificity (than ever before), and hope to come off with it with a greater intention towards the world-out-there. The good 'ol days of pain and sweat are back. If nothing else, they give me a great distraction to lean on towards the end of August.

Today was a hard morning out. Got back home in sweat; added some more in proximity. The motivator for pain is the upcoming Nainital Half (Marathon). Today was the only day I could endure some pain on the organism that is to be unleashed for the big day, which is only a day away. Yes, ye heard that right - from naught, I committed to running 21k, over the course of 2 days. The 'course' is actually that of a single day, that is just today, since Day 2 will be a rest day, as is advised.

The challenge was taken up last year, and passed. This year, circumstances have led to a situation where I'm at great odds for running a circuit of 21k - especially in the hilly terrain with uphills that could kill, - which I hope to beat and come through with yet another finish. Must transform.


The day ahead isn't gonna be an easy or simple one. Several and diverse decisions and action-points remain. If not done today, then they'll carry over to tomorrow and be a burden to rest of my existence, much like how I've been carrying a lot of baggage from my past 32 years of living. There seems to be no break in the frustration of and from actions and imaginations. Good that I am least knowledgeable or the situation would've been worse. Yes, it could be worse. Every day is spent realizing that it could be worse.

Regardless of the worse-ness and irrespective of the worth-ness, I bumped into a smooth character from the itihaas (aka the past), who is now no more, but whose words pull some cords with eager soulfulness even in a person living in today's age, 25 years since he was gone. Firaq Gorakhpuri is his name. Ghazal-writing (aka "Hindustani" poetry) is his game. His romanticism is refreshing, underrated.

शाम भी थी धुआँ-धुआँ, हुस्न भी था उदास-उदास।
दिल को कई कहानियां याद सी आ के रह गई॥
बहुत पहले से उन कदमों की आहट जान लेते हैं,
तुझे ऐ ज़िंदगी हम दूर से पहचान लेते है

And here's a new personal favorite, drawing similes to her from nature.
आइन ए नील गूं से फूटी है किरन
आकाश पे अधखिले कंवल का जोबन
यूँ उदी फ़ज़ा में लहलहाती है शफ़क
जिस तरह खिले तेरे तबस्सुम का चमन।

Monday, August 21, 2017

Life and impracticality

This article engendered this post.
"Should school be impractical? - the practical benefits of being impractical"

The article is an overlap of wisdom from multiple sources (of my knowledge) and domains.
Humans suck at predicting the functionality of information. We get stuck in mental models that either assume the status quo or fail to grasp the continuity of the present tense. In other words, we assume the future will be way different than it actually becomes or we fail to recognize just how different it will be. We live within the confines of the adjacent possible and we can’t predict what innovation will look like in upcoming decades as the adjacent possible expands.

Of course, school learning is what's being talked about, but isn't that how we learn in life, too? Isn't this what the concept of George Monbiot's "Rewilding" is all about?

#1: Embrace confusion and complexity
#2: Go outside.. even if it feels impractical
#3: Tinker more
#4: Scracth your itch

Of course, it could only be a self-serving bias under the influence of which I'm totally endorsing this article. Being confounded, doing impractical things, then finding their application much later, is how I've experienced life. Proceed with caution.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

a trail two days ago

returned back having absorbed all dew of the morning and being absorbed in the experience that i could recollect in vivid detail even a coupla days after. 

a new route was found on an adjacent hill face, that could make for a perfect trail loop for subsequent mornings. i'm waiting for my knee to heal further, and also acquire a pair of new trail runners, to start a new chapter - hope to beat wisdom. 

the D was a great company on the trail - my free as in freedom canine friend who is made for great journeys. he has upped my awareness quotient when out there. today we climbed through thick undergrowth, forest, then grass, some scree, and the rare vertical face, but he lead much through and was where I wanted to be before I. 

i only wonder how great it must feel for dogs who have better sensory faculties (hence, inputs) when it comes to smell, hearing, taste (we don't taste our environment at all). visual acuity, maybe we do better in, but the rest should produce a very different sensory palette.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When I look at you

When I look at you
I'm only looking towards you
I'm really looking around you
I'm really imagining you as a blank space in my view
I'm really thinking of how wonderful it is to live without you standing right here
I'm really becoming fond of the man that is me but is all alone in another universe
I'm sometimes trying to find him but I think he's right behind you
I know it's you here who's not letting me see

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Few compare to SS

Here's a force to comprehend: Sadhana Sargam, a popular Indian singer.
Her name reflects her career - a Sadhana (discipline or dedicated practice) towards Sargam (or the foundation notes of Indian music).

She has been all about music. In a career spanning a little over 30 years, she has established herself as an industry in the Indian music industry, singing thousands of songs in several Indian languages.
Sargam has sung 1938 Hindi songs in 1546 films and 1111 Tamil songs in 536 films. She has sung 2500 Bengali songs from 1994-2015. She has sung 3467 songs in Marathi. She has sung 15,000 songs in 34 Indian languages. 
She has won all topmost awards in India.
Nothing hit me harder than this fact
Sargam performed at music festival Sawai Gandharva at the age of 4. She sang popular song "Sooraj Ek Chanda Ek Taare Anek" for Doordarshan at the age 6. The song was composed by veteran Vasant Desai.
which made me realize that she's been one of the most memorable voices in my head all this while.


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Indian journalism cred at a low

Got reading an article on Indian news channels, on why they are disappointing (to the author, and a thought which I agree with, of late): Why are Indian News Channels so Disappointing?

It summarises the situation as
India has killed television by legislating the subscription model to death. This is leading to a serious lack of ambition and a curbing of creative juices, since recovering investments is impossible
The author of the article, Mr. Ashok Malik, has rightly (so I feel) claimed that our news channels have forgot to be the role of distributor of latest affairs, and more like a platform for shallow idealism and uncritical entertainment. Shallow idealism and uncritical entertainment is, coincidentally, the most common reason why Indians sit in front of the tele, and our news channels are trying to capitalize on capturing that audience, which means they not only miss out on sincere reporting, but stand in opposition at the (deeper) ethical front as well.

Here's another illuminating article: Five Ethical Problems that Plague Indian Journalism
- Paid News
- Opaque private treaties
- Blatant blackmail
- Widening legal regulatory gap
- Flawed measurements of audience reach and readership

News, or live reporting of the world, should be straight forward. The active world out there, which they report about, is a dynamic system that is difficult to fit into simple narratives. It is worse when the 'simple' narratives become 'sensationalist' and 'political'.
Even historical analysts - armed with all data and not only the events but their outcomes - fail to be precise in why and how something happened in the past, or at making future projections. Even governments fail to understand the implications of events. And yet, these people have a panel of experts who derive and present overreaching narratives, to gain ratings through crass debates that are lie-and-lampoon contests. "Infotainment" is a hot thing.

Things like News channels and educational institutions being the new business opportunity is a sad fact of our cultural and economic landscape. Everything that prospers needs to have a "market potential" to begin with, that is, something which can be run as a business. As with all businesses, money plays the biggest influencer in decision-making. Nobody gives a damn about how it hurts the system or the nation. To make it worse, this is not just an Indian trend. You have a planet where people are fooled into believing that news is their window to the world, when in fact it is a window only into the selfish plans of other people who want to spread toxic and self-gratifying worldviews and narratives.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thus demystified Zarathustra

A recurrent feeling of agitation has been in place for about a month and a half. Its origin lies in Gulmarg, Kashmir, over a ski visit, in the month of March. The fact of agitation, however, isn't related to Kashmir, or Skiing.
It has to do with comparative religion. It was a fact mentioned by a Bengali friend, which sounded like haughtiness on his part, which translated to seeking and interpretation on my part (once i got back to a more connected world). He had just narrated the story of the genesis as per his religion (of Islam). As a strawman tactics, perhaps, he also segued into the history of another religion, framing it such that its founding seemed to have a weak and un-divine/mortal connect.
So his history of this another religion starts with the explanation of the massive oil deposits found in Central Asia, and how one of such sites came to be venerated, all because of a fire that had started there. This fire started a religion, he explained. One day the reserves ran out, and the followers didn't know what to do. Then they migrated out and spread across the world.
This was contrasted against his religion, of course, to assert substantiality, in his narrative that had preceded.

Thanks to his haughtiness, I got to spend a day learning about Zoroastrianism, and connecting several dots in general. He might've felt tall at his claim, but his claim is what's loose in the first place. Some interesting dots:

* The kingdoms of Pre-Vedic and Vedic times
* The religions preceding today's mass religions
* The concept of Soma/Haoma present in Vedic religions
* The migration history of Zoroastrians (or Parsis, as they have come to be called in India, which is home a majority of their population since the past coupla millenia)
* Atash Bahrams or the fire temples of the Parsis
* The Kafiristan region of Afghanistan/Pakistan - and its forceful conversions
* The Kalash people of Pakistan, followers of ancient Hinduism
* The Z of Niezsche's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" ("Thus Spoke Zarathustra")
* God, Apes and Fossil Men (a book for the wishlist), on the Paleontological history of S. Asia
* The presence of Sanskrit words in Zoroastrian texts, and Proto-Indo-European languages in general
* Neopythagoreanism
* The Arched-hill/Triratna/Nandipada
* Ashoka, the great - how he murdered 99 of his brothers to ascend to the throne and built an epic torture chamber

Personally, misinterpreting natural phenomenon as a sign of the divine is nothing new, and a symbol like fire is a pretty cool endorsement.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

I is for I

My name is I. I is the queen. I rules the hearts of everyone.
I doesn't have a boyfriend and doesn't need one. I doesn't make friends and don't need any - they are not worth. Only I is worth myself.
I is the center of all attention all the time. People stare at I, in admiration and expectation, everywhere I go.
I is not afraid to speak my mind - doesn't shy away from judging everything that I experience. I comments on everything. I says what's right, and what I say is always right.
I works well on wine. I works well in fast cars. I works well with chivalry.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Here Comes Another One

Happy World Asthma Day. We are all choking on the world. The only new highs our cities claim is pollution levels. Asthma Day reminds us of air pollution. There is nothing, however, to remind us of the noise pollution - no World Tinnitus Day or World Readjusted Hearing Day (our hearing is highly adaptive, unlike our breathing). It gets much worse than we take cognizance of or acknowledge. We have turned our planet into something ugly.

Last night I dreamt of finding myself a job. Being a computer guy, it was natural that I ended up joining a dance troupe. Seems like the TVCs got to/in me; or the ex- effect. Who else but AR Rahman, the composer extraordinaire, to approach for auditions. It only took a few seconds of crappy dance moves - bunny hopping, but with flair - to clinch me the job. I was paid a coupla thousand bucks on my first day, which seems satisfactory, only if it were for real.

The morning started with some understanding on Hyperlapse. It is a cool thing, now that I come to understand it better. A moving camera capturing a shaky image is best when converted to Hyperlapses. I got so many jungle walkthroughs to apply the treatment to.