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. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

To the wise ones

All the wise ones
Who could see through the ruse
Who resisted the advance
On the high greens of a muse
Who didn't need a meaning
But decorum that lets them thrive
Who didn't need a drug
But a will to survive
Who found their calling
In the lines of the palm
Who escaped the grip
Of a fish called calm

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Mad Boy's Love

If you think i'm not thinking about you
Then think again
Of a night under the full moon
Of a warn embrace
Of a dominating silence
Of a tender caress
Your mad boy's mad love
That you never imagined could feel so amazing
ca. 2013
under the duress of love

What it Feels in Love

You are my convergence function
My differential is deferential to you
You reduce me to infinity
You are my Fourier transform inverse
My n-tuple wants to forever be next to your n-tuple
You are my integration operator

ca. 2013/14
must've been in love, madly so, which is expressed here

Can't Wait for Tomorrow

Ends come slow
Methods that lend a blow
Pieces I find on the floor
Of what was a dense mass
in the head
Plans that blur the line
Projecting an image divine
The fruit of carefree dreaming
The deep inquiries into meaning
Tonight I write an elegy
Instead of writing idylls
And the mind will have a free reign, again,
With the breaking dawn

ca. 2013/14
was probably stoned during this scribble

Outta tune

I'll be a little bit
Shifty awkward wet toxic
I'll play a bit
outta tune

Undated, ca 2014

Another draw - my first nude

Continuing on the trail of sketching, here's another I copied through the day. A nude!
I believe his roots could be some gay comics, but was in my recent instagram feed, which I remembered for inspiration. He was posed well, with a lot of subtle variations in light that had me understanding the pencils better. I couldn't get the face right and urge he ended up looking more like me (just the face, not the physique).
Inspired by such a defined body, I did log lifts in the breaks taken during doing the sketch.
Long road ahead, don't you think?

Love begets a love begets a love

Last night, I started with what had been on my mind since a long while - to utilize my sketch pad, that lad been lying discarded since transfer to a new owner i.e. me, back in November of the prev year. I had only done some squiggles and doodles on a sheet for practise, in all this while.

What better to choose than a Tinder muse, who reminded me of divinity through a mere few photos and a succinct bio. Since we had a match, which means she reciprocated the way I expected/prayed, it makes her even more apt choice for a subject. Strong feelings already in place, I guess, which could be an outlier, since I identify myself in Jim Carey's character in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, who muses in frustration "why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?".

The sketch turned out okay. It's my best ever, and at least better than Napoleon Dynamite's conception of Trisha - I didn't even sit for 3 hours to finish shading on the upper lip. Early hours of a long sleepless night of a long sleepless day well spent.

Stumbled into an old creative moment, ca 2005

Monday, February 06, 2017

Field Recording Itch

Of late, I've directed thoughts often towards birds. That continuity led to today's thoughts - much exclusively towards assembling a field recording kit, so that the birdsongs aren't a mere fleeting memory. And yet again, I have concluded that choosing a reliable/stable/effective kit is a bit complicated. Earlier, I have browsed over hours, to come to similar conclusions.
Each time I get a bit wiser, but many questions still remain open-ended - Do I go for a shotgun or a parabolic mic? Would DIY-ism get me better field recordings? Is a separate recorder necessary? Is a deadcat must? Where in Delhi do audiophiles go (having been to Daryaganj, I've been disappointed)? Where can the field recordists/soundscapers be found in my part of the world? Would starting with soundscapes (hence a XY setup) be better as it is the ulterior intent?

Another annoying part is seeing the immediately-available-in-vicinity prices being much higher than what the same things sell for on Amazon (US). To be limited to a few options, which are priced so as to leave no scope to experimentation, is conflicting. What is the beef the audio manufacturers have with our government, to deserve such jacked up prices? This takes me back to last decade when anything electronic would blindly be a much better deal if a friend/relative was returning from the US or Emirates.

As of the moment of logging this, some bird's very unique calls intrude the airspace. Only if I'd have something to hook into it... gah!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Oil spills, wetlands, and Flamingos

It happened a few days back (Jan 28), but only today does the news of a massive oil spill on the Indian coasts trickle down to my eyes through conventional news channels. A cleanup effort ensued, which has taken care of the most of it. It is good to see volunteers in action - would've liked be one meself.
So it happened off the Kamarajhar Port (Ennore coast), off the coast of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu the southernmost Indian state (title shared with Kerala state).
A massive clean-up operation was launched in Tiruvallur, Chennai and Kancheepuram Districts by engaging more than 2000 persons at various sites including Ernavur, Chennai Fishing Harbour, Marine Beach, Besant Nagar, Kottivakkam, Palavakkam, Neelankarai and Injambakkam beaches.  
Merchant shipping fail, this. The spillage exceeds 200 tonnes, and has been under-reported to be around 20 tonnes.The general mode of our business is evasive/thrifty/lying. Being honest is the least they could do in this case. A proportional (legally instituted) fine is the most nominal punishment, for we do not realize to what extent of damage such events have on the nature. There is no way or no amount of money that can thwart the ecological cascade that might ensue.

Just a day back, we celebrated the World Wetlands Day 2017 , which wasn't really celebrated anywhere but had a few articles written about it. No representation among the masses for valuable, massive ecological zones providing our communities with sustenance - by the way of fresh water, food, flood control - for generations  - called Ramsar sites - under threat because of (who but) us.

For those who don’t know what a wetland is, it is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.
They are also very important for animals and plants to survive. Actually, they are one of the most vital and productive ecosystems on the planet. Unfortunately, this valuable asset of the planet are slowly getting lost at an alarming rate in many regions of the Earth. According to a report, at least 64 per cent of wetlands have diminished since 1990.
In the month of November, I found myself very lucky to be in Begusarai for some survey work. Lucky, because Begusarai district was home to the Kanwar Bird Lake Sanctuary, housing Asia's largest oxbow lake - 3 times that of Bharatpur, where I had already been to and returned impressed at its immensity. Super eager, I asked around for directions, to come to know that it was only a small lake, and nothing much was to be enjoyed there. Being a skeptic about other's perceptions (esp when it comes to natural wealth), I looked it up online, to find that the place really was now an unimpressive waterhole, far from what it once was.

As a 2008 study by Pollution Research states
In the present study the pollution of a major North Bihar lake, the Kawar Wetland was studied with special reference to their effects on flora, fauna and local human population. The water of the lake is turbid, acidic and is having higher conductivity. The dissolved oxygen level was estimated as 7.6 mg/L, free CO2 6.3 mg/L, bicarbonate 80 mg/L, hardness 90 mg/L, chloride 17.0 mg/L.
A coupla years back, in the February of 2015, I had suffered a similar setback on a morning, when after adventurously breaking a journey (a roadtrip in a Tata Sumo with a friend) next to a huge lake, imagining creatures and phenomenon unseen, we woke up to find that the massive lake was now an empty trough, all its water drained for construction projects (esp a massive college complex in vicinity) - I best enjoyed that morning exploring a graveyard next to the lake that separated it from a village, a symbolic image to take back in my state of shock and mourning. This was near Hyderabad, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Population pressures on the Indian ecosystem are colossal. Things are already depressing, and we make no efforts to change. Bangalore and Chennai are prime examples of destruction of wetlands, to the extent that they (the related wetland ecosystems) have disappeared. Corruption - by the way of bribes and complacency - is rampant everywhere. In this state of affairs, the nature is no way on the track of winning.

This is the range of flamingos across our planet. See that strip on the left - that's the Indian subcontinent. The bird is supposed to exist everywhere along our western coastline in the migratory season. Yet, now it is only left with a few spots to camp at, namely in the state of Gujarat (like the RoK). This morning, I was surprised to find Mumbai on the map as well through a cousin, learning the existence of Sewri Flamingo Point, which I would've been to had I known during my stay there. Now I wait for an opportunity.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Musical ear rekindled

Two artists have lately seen a resurgence in my playlists - Keane and Bjork. I had liked them earlier, during my college days. Revisiting them led in liking turning into love. Chiefly, it were the lyrics that got me this time. That which one hadn't noticed before rises up to the perceptional surface on a future revisit, and that is the hallmark of good songs. Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know", and Bjork's "Bachelorette", were the respective tracks which pulled me back to listening to these artists.

On the Keane trail, I learnt that the band had since split, and their lead singer Tom Chaplin had undergone serious phase of depression, but also come back in the scene with a new Album, whose tracks "Quicksand" and "Hardened Heart" brought some terrific new music and lyrics to my ears - especially Quicksand, which I've played on repeat on a couple of outings since. "Somewhere Only We Know" has some of the most sensory lyrics I muchly empathize with.

On the Bjork trail, "All is full of love" was found to be even more emotive than the first time - when I'd mainly fallen for it because of Michel Gondry's music video. The lyrics are very potent, which I only now came to focus on and find (and agree with) - her life experiences put in words make me totally empathize, and I have started internalising Bjork but at the same time dreading falling for a girl like her who will be so complex and all-consuming. "Hyperballad" is another track with lyrics so chilling that they'll stick in the head, and be revisited. She talks of keeping her sanity by throwing objects off cliffs and watching them tumble down to oblivion and wondering about her own fall - a dangerous frame of mind, also so attractive.

Looking for Michel Gondry's newer work (which there's none, sadly), I stumbled into an all-girl band (the connect being one of his ex-gfs who is a bandmember), Warpaint, that makes good music. A nice name, that, too. It reminded of the time I found the Bombay Bicycle Club, another small band, which also got airplay on Indian TV much later.

Fighting with and begging for time

Erratica has marked the past coupla months, during which the blog has seen none of my swill. There are an infinite things to talk about, but agency has it that they haven't been talked about. I have been depressed considering the torment of time, its unceasing march forward making me feel backward. It would take a lifetime to recollect a single day or a night, such is the plight of the descriptives. We humans usually tend to die much sooner than we'd want to.

Looking around for answers, as other humans have figured it, I found they haven't. "Buck up" and "Prioritise" are the two most profound responses, which is akin to saying, "Suicide is your best option, son/bro/jerk". Repression and compromises promise to be the two best friends, but I'd rather keep to myself. With age, I've learnt to be more stubborn. Not that I'm right or leading a right life, but the me that will live in thin slices of me that is presently alive doesn't sound very appealing. Sure, I could be "wrong", but I'd pretend not to understand or care about such binaries, and diffidently confuse anybody who tries to argue about the same.
Persecution complex creeps into thought often.

Complaining about time, the week that went by rubbing it in even more. I was found begging for my own time. Sociality hit, leisure activities took hold, and the organism often got tired by the end of the day, to not have any time for its master, its mind. There were things lined up that didn't happen, even when I did find time to meself, for lazy recovery got priority, a time much occupied by thought than initiative/agency. All agency is spent in mundane things through the day. What's left for me is mere reflection, which too is an addictive habit that is now programmed in my brain processes, and I can't do without.