Moving on (a repost)

Blinding and brilliant, love at first sight
takes much longer to lose than you think it might.

It’s not the memories, the agony or the remorse,
what kills you is the resistance,
and the indolence,
of a languid heart that you blame,
but deep down you know it’s the brain,
that is always reluctant to indulge in refrain.

To enjoy the pleasure of hellos,
you know, one must go through parting.

But when subtle differences
take the shape of unassailable chasms,
and you see the futility of explaining,
what you feel is not what they call pain,
but is a gnawing, indifferent aching.

Sarcasm is fluid in this state of mind,
making you wince at the sound of laughter.
They say you have become silent,
while the myriad voices inside you scream –
regret and apology never go hand in hand,
or that you need bravado or courage to take a stand.


The art of storytelling (a repost)

Stories are no less living than the ones who tell them. I say “tell” because in the days that I am writing about in this post, people mostly told stories. Writing was considered as killing the essence, the free spirit that defined the beauty of a tale. This spirit dictates how it panes out, how it varies with a new teller, even with the same person every time it gets narrated, the place, crowd and such circumstances in which it is reenacted.

I came across a reference to the lost art of Urdu storytelling called dastangoi. What piqued my interest is the fact that Urdu is famous for the inimitable poetry ever written or ever will be. Dastangoi is a Persian word, dastan meaning tale and with suffix goi it translates to “tell a tale”.

A dastan, like an epic has elements of adventure, bravery, beauty, romance, magic, treachery to name a few, but the plots are linear and usually predictable. The beauty of a tale is not in its outset, the events that follow or the conclusion, but in the imagery. For instance, illustrations of a war scene may involve how the hero makes entrance, the colour of the sky and the war-torn soil, the sounds of the running horses, clash of shining swords and the smell of spilt blood infusing a wave of bravado in the most disinterested soldier. No other language fits this requirement more than Urdu, which with its poetic inclinations allow the storyteller to embellish a trivial event, or say, to romanticize the look exchanged between the protagonists for hours. The language and astute usage of the rich words enables the teller to weave a mesmerizing maze that you won’t want to escape.

The history of dastangoi is as interesting as the art itself. Though many readers will question its authenticity, the great Urdu poets always looked at history with disdain. They wanted stories to continue evolving, with every new generation adding more illustrious sub plots, new ways of gilding the oft cited with mellifluous Urdu harf.
In a way, the great tales are no different from life itself, it’s a pity that we think it’s the same tale that is being narrated over ages whereas life is beyond our control and we just need to bear with it as it unfolds.

Further reading: dastangoi.blogspot.in


Photography, an art? (a repost)

Images that tell vibrant stories
of far away sun bathed mountains
the cloud soaked verdant valleys
humbled eternity facing the vast azure skies
those unsung garish yet tranquil monasteries.
Images that conceal the artist
a visage reminiscent of long forgotten tales
a moon reflecting on the turbulent dark seas
shuddering shutters attempt to capture the evanescent
lustrous flashes strive to unfold the obscure events.

Snipping magic from the monotonic time
moments chosen by whim
or maybe thoughts nebulous
lenses make sense of the world.
Elaborate tales condensed in a single shot
discordant sonnets meticulously sutured
erratic life and the nuances subtly proffered
understand the artist or the work, do we?
if only we could see the way it was meant to be.


Words (a repost)


Dazzled by the beauty,

they are failed by the words.

Recovering and in pursuit,

they keep their feelings veiled by the words.

Romance they indulge in,

but are curtailed by the words.

Entranced in love,

they forget the roses but are bailed by the words.

Instead of happily ever after at the end,

they listen to the silence of the words.


Path to redemption (a repost)

As the jaded emotions stir
letting out wisps of fantasy
vignettes from the past look glorious
fading vistas arouse feelings queer
entrancing thoughts make him trail
only to be nudged forward
waking him up with a familiar fear
tired eyes reluctantly open to find
multitudes marching on for a cause unknown
tremulous with highly strung octave.

Shackled with pervasive conceit
straggling at the desultory march
road to perdition seems long for his aged feet
a night of reckoning questions the
choices made, the resorted weakness
and the accompanying arrogance
a prophylactic catharsis
and the concluding dance.

How does he promise allegiance,
an unquestionable faith
with the doubts lurking in
every nook, every corner of the infinite self
an incomprehensible world
with its deceit, caustic and relentless wit
armed with nothing but an acquired intellect
it’s a farce to commit eternal love
when he doesn’t remember or even surmise
everything that happened in his life
for he was rational but never so wise.

The fickle abandon with flair
heretic if you tame the restive faith
the egotist seeks happiness within
romantic if you love without reason
judged and branded for living the sins
midway in the protest, he stops short
and finds his soul dance and rejoice.


What makes India famous


J&K Map complete

Ever since the abrogation of article 370, I have come across a full spectrum of opinion on the matter of Kashmir. I knew that my opinion on the subject will not bring anything new on the plate, also it’s not a plate anymore but has becomes as big as an Indian Thali. However, the urge to write something on the matter couldn’t be easily dealt with, not even by writing a poem, yet another poem that is. So, stuck in the famous Bangalore traffic, I started thinking on what to write. Like most non-fiction, the writer doesn’t come up with something novel in terms of facts and figures, the novelty lies in the interpretations, assumptions and conclusions. A rambling mind is not well suited to write such structured material, so I end up wondering about the essence of India, is there a definitive story, a categorical history, or say is India still famous for what it was fifty years back, or say five years back. The political picture has definitely changed, with leftist and centrist parties turning out damp squibs in the elections. The economical picture has also undergone changes, albeit not as dramatic as the political version. The social picture is the one which has most of the inertia, but everyone wishes it changes to more coherency and cooperation. But we won’t discuss these, instead we will go over, yet again, on what is India famous for.

Some might say, given the topic is hot, it is Kashmir; and they wont be wrong. But for me, as I grew up, Kashmir was just in the movies and the Led Zep song. Academically it was always Jammu and Kashmir. The fact that a large part of it was occupied by Pakistan and another by China was a revelation in the school years, a sad one too because without these parts the map of India looks like a bald man. It is not an internal matter or a bilateral matter as we have been reading in the Media. With the involvement of China, partly due its own endeavors and partly because of Pakistan handing over a piece, it becomes a trilateral issue, and therefore even more interesting. But Kashmir is a dreamy place even for most of India’s citizens, it’s more of a matter of geopolitics, a matter of nationalism, and India is big, it has other things that it is famous for.



Taj Mahal, for instance has been the top of the top 10 lists for everyone. It is worth a visit too, especially for that moment when you enter and the raw beauty of the monument hits you. Even for the most unromantic, it stirs those alien feelings that can only be admitted in confidence. At least that’s what I thought of the top ten nature of the beautiful Taj Mahal before I searched for the top ten lists, and came across another revelation. Beauty has apparently given way to the raw, abject and disturbing reality of the Dharavi slums. It is easy and comes to us naturally to relate with the rich art and structure and romanticism of Taj Mahal but the slums are a revelation, and anything that disturbs us attracts us viscerally. Surprisingly, slum tourism is not just enjoyed by the foreign tourists but also by Indians, many of whom have never been in, or seen a slum. These people were born in what were once small towns, studied engineering or medical for that is what they were allowed to study, and given that engineering was easier, most have become the engineers that throng India’s IT and BPO industry. Being one of them, and not that I have been on one of the slum tours, and not that I am not interested in one, I can gauge why it’s sought after. For the aftertaste that it must leave, you can’t help feeling thankful for everything you have when you witnesses misery of others.



But is India famous for its IT engineers. There is global recognition of the talent for sure, especially when the corporates do the maths of ROI. Indian engineers are the least expensive in terms of compensation when compared with their American, European, Chinese or Israeli counterparts. They are also good at English, a skill that comes in handy when communication has become important with teams scattered all over the globe. So the jobs have kept pouring in and the middle class has risen. These are the white money making, tax paying and therefore the new moderately rich class with a clean conscience. The rise however comes at a cost of stress, the sedentary lifestyles leads to diseases, and not just the physiological ones. As a result, many of neo middle class seek guidance and gurus, mysticism is now a domestic industry and not just consumed by the foreigners.



Gurus have been defining the image of India for as far as you can see back in the past. They have created an image that is full of wisdom, contentment and minimalism. But they have not spoken anything that one didn’t know, especially one with the minimum amount of sense and sensibility that defines a human being. The reason why the gurus are popular, is as simple as the reason why common sense when extolled and delivered as an epiphany by a smiling and seemingly content orator, seems like a divine disclosure. It is the same divinity that Indians are now searching for, probably more than the foreigners these days. But it was not Gyan that attracted the foreigners in the old days to India, it was ganja.



With most of the rich west suffering from drug abuse and issues, the governments banned all narcotic drugs as early as the 40s. Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, completed in 1894 however; established that recreational and regulated use of cannabis was beneficial. India, happily, went on with that report till 1961 when the UN treaty was forced upon them, which clubbed cannabis production and trade along with heavier drugs. However, the treaty applied to the flowering and the fruiting tops of the plant, also, it gave India 25 years to implement the ban. For 25 years, it was the ganja that ruled till a law was passed in 1985. But there was a caveat, as long as it is the leaves and the seeds that was consumed it was still legal to smoke, or drink bhang. Malana cream from the village of the same name is still considered the best hash available in the world, with its price skyrocketing in the Amsterdam cafes. Given that the US was the biggest mouth in the 1961 treaty, and India its stern opposer, it comes as a surprise now to Indians that many states in the US are now allowing the recreational use of marijuana. Laws made by governments however never made sense, and lie at the opposite end of the rules propounded by the gurus which make so much sense that they seem redundant.



The alcohol laws in India for instance seem to have been written under the influence of the subject matter. First and foremost, alcohol is one of the few laws that don’t have a federal uniformity. The laws vary between state to state, with some banning it completely to others where only the state is allowed to sell. The legal age to drink alcohol has its own stories ranging from 18 to 25 years. So, in some states 18 year olds are considered mature enough to vote and choose the government but not mature to hold their drinks. Maharashtra outshines other states with different legal ages for different drinks. Wine can be consumed by anyone, beer if you are 21 or above and all other liquor only if you are 25. Maharashtra produces the best wine in the country, Sula, so yeah it makes sense that everyone in the state gets to have a taste. But is India known for its alcohol? Probably not, unless if you have been fortunate to have come across Old Monk. It is losing its popularity over time though. However, it was the iconic molasses rum produced in India that served as the fuel to cash crunched students, leftists, revolutionaries and government employees. It fueled revolutionary ideas and determination but didn’t leave a hangover, either of the alcohol or the ideas, and the next morning you went on to your classes or jobs with renewed vigor.



Now that I read this long post, I feel I got carried away with the intoxicating love for my country. What makes India famous might actually be something as simple and as obvious as the huge population it carries on its shoulder, with the diversity of problems, opinions, food, customs, religions and beliefs, and the choice of the favorite intoxicant among these that keeps them going.



The Plight of Grammar in Writing

Interesting post; well, if your your sentences were going haywire – it might be high time you punctuate!

A Writer's Path

by Doug Lewars

“have it your talking may about you Good can’t what to to reader overrated you’re some idea grammar if ignored. when be but be want writing it entirely comes”

The above is a random collection of words – literally random – I used a random number generator in Excel to produce them; however, before being randomized they were once a coherent sentence. The original sentence was ‘Good grammar may be overrated when it comes to writing but it can’t be entirely ignored if you want your reader to have some idea what you’re talking about.’

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