Grass hopping

April 20, 2008 at 10:33 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve cracked it. You know how we all think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence? Well, I’ve been interacting with a lot of people sitting on the side I’m keen on crossing over to, and they all have, without fail, dissuaded me from doing so, at some point or the other – some through their cynicism, others through their outspoken vehemence. And suddenly, it came to me, in yet another of those crossing over conversations. The grass just isn’t green at all. It’s yellow. And prickly.


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I’m back to let you know

April 19, 2008 at 10:36 pm (Uncategorized)

… that I can really shake ’em down.

So I haven’t read a single book since February. Yes yes, that long ago. But to make up for it, I’m on three right now. One of which is called Red Sun, on the Maoist revolution (also called the Naxalbari or naxalite movement) in India.

It’s a great read. It’s a lesson in history, without being too preachy. And for once, it’s not toeing the Congress-line of national integrity and unity in diversity. It shows political speak and so-called retaliatory action for what they really are: a great cover job. More on that as I progress through this book.


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Am I just plain cheesy?

February 16, 2008 at 9:37 am (Uncategorized)

You know, I think the last great intellectual of our times was Derrida. And boy was he cheesy. I mean, all I needed to do, to say I mean this, but I don’t (at one and the same time) was write Love (or some such transcendental word like that), take the arrow to the option abc and put a cross across Love.




Get my point?

The thing is, I seem to be stuck in a bit of a time/ memory warp here. And Prachett-style, I’m thinking disc-like morphology for all the words I wrote above. And the thing (you know) about discs, and ellipses really, is just that … they end. You can stand at a vantage point, span your eyes across the whole length and breadth of the disc, then heave a deep deep sigh and say, Oh well. Or something cheesier, perhaps. So, you already know what it’s going to be like. love, meaning, sense, cheesiness. Not as words with a capital letter, but with respect to someone. You already know. Nothing is new any more. Nothing is still-to-be-discovered.

And they can exist, and not exist at the same time. Like matter and antimatter. Oppositions in unision. Dialectically.


Cheesy ?


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haiku some more

January 25, 2008 at 7:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Swelling, heaving sea

A public utility

Mumbai’s USP

And then…
Haiku lets me pick,

choicest words, phrases, pauses.

Nonsense limericks.

I have a sinking suspicion though, that these syllables don’t exactly resemble the Japanese on, by which the Haiku is measured.

The review is taking longer than I expected: is the hallmark of a good book, difficult language? Alternately, does difficult language point to difficult (and by corollary, more intelligent, un-simple, non-simplistic) ideas? Do you like a book for what it says, or what it shows? What do you mean, when you like a book? Isn’t all criticism finally then based on a subjective whim? The book that has got me throwing out all these questions is Angshukanta Chakravorty’s Brunching With Ophelia (Vitasta Publication). I’m returning to it right now, in the hope that I can find some answers. (I need to – have to give the review in by tomorrow, which, by the way, is only two minutes away.)

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Haiku retried

January 23, 2008 at 6:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Stories we create,

inhabit and populate

It’s reality


Hold me tight in there

Your arms wrapped around feel nice

Even in the dream


Cool crisp morning air

Caresses me while I run

Late to school again


When it’s night, it’s black

In the morning, sun rises

But the darkness stays


Blank pages stare back

At me, pen poised in my hand

Mentally, the words blot

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Haiku heroism

January 23, 2008 at 11:43 am (Uncategorized)

Ok, so inspired by Shamsie’s protagonist Aasmani Inqualab (the delusional daughter searching for her mother – talk about post Freud), who is also pretend Haiku poet, I decided to google out some more info on this form of verse. Haiku is written in a single vertical line in Japanese. It has 17 syllables, 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the last line. There is a break, called kireji, which breaks the poem into a phrase and a fragment. Traditionally, a Haiku must have a word depicting a season. When it doesn’t, it’s called something else. In fact there are many spin offs (with their own Japanese names). Attempting to write one myself, this is what I came up with:

You return to me

Unbidden, unwanted too

Remain unaware.

Considering my penchant for (really badly written) long rambling sentences (sample previous post) that I then pass off as ‘free verse’, this calibration should stand me in good stead. It’s actually an interesting exercise to measure out your words (in terms of syllables) to express your idea. Post scriptum thought: Dryden, hats off to you old man, for your MacFlecknoe. Mock heroism at its best, satire at its crudest (and therefore most strident), and perfectly measured out to  the last syllable. 

All human things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey…

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The scientist

January 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm (Uncategorized)

Today morning I simply didn’t feel like getting out of the bed. I really shouldn’t have… except that I had to go to work and earn me some money. Anyhow, while I was getting out of the taxi, which I had taken to the station, I saw a shell on the seat, right about where I was sitting. And that inspired me to write a poem titled I Laid A Shell. It went something like this:

The day began on a low note (terribly self absorbed I can get, at times)

with old friends replacing friendliness with cordiality (just a phone call that affected me when it really shouldn’t have)

A slow pocket of a morning bunched up over my head,

like a blanket, it was.

All answers revealed in a dream,

had slipped away.

But as I stepped out of my taxi,

I saw, left behind, a rolled up paper

shaped and coloured like a small, multi-layered shell. (aah, finally)

The colour of an inexplicable shade called Mother of Pearl (she said, with a relish)

And it made me think, I have laid a shell,

and that made me happy.

I really should have stayed in bed.

Kamila ohmygod ohmygod Shamsie is loverrrly. The Poet in her novel I learnt is based loosely on Faiz. But the feminist icon, who blows air smoke out of air cigarettes, the brilliant theatre artist, the daughter who simply wants her mother to come back, who doesn’t believe that she is dead… all of them moving in and out of the narrative saying things that made so much sense. Meanwhile, the friend’s book seeks to cancel aphasia (it’s written in the blurb… whose essential point of existence is to dumb down the book!)… right, so cancel aphasia (which is the inability to articulate thoughts or words, and comprehend them because of a hit on vital places in the head) with words.

Which basically means, a lot of words. And either I’m mildly aphasic myself (although Wiki sternly insists that this is not a psychological illness) or her postmodernism is particularly strident.

On a related matter, I wish Varun hadn’t told me that I needed to read one book in every 3.65 days to achieve my target. Somehow, it seemed more achievable when I hadn’t known the exact maths of it!

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January 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

The resolution to stop smoking hasn’t worked. Yet. But there’s this other thing I’ve set out to do: count the number of books I’ll be reading this year. Sort of like a tab… I’m thinking a hundred is a good rounded number… but whether it’s too presumptious a digit, time will tell.
So, let’s see. Till now, it’s been two Terry Prachetts. One ‘My precious sock’ (kids’ book, a gift). And just today, I began Broken Verses. Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses. The first 16 pages have been tremendously enchanting. And a friend’s book I’ll be reviewing will make that five books by the end of this week.
Barkha Dutt’s latest We The People was about blogging, and whether it needs to be regulated. Apart from the fact that it seemed she was out to settle a personal score with a rumour-mongerer, I seemed a little surprised that among all those who opposed regulation per se, none came up with the argument that regulation would entail the creation of a system. And systemising the net is done in places like China. And that spells a doom for freedom of expression, for free thought, for all those who will be left out in the creation of a system (for that’s what a system does – creates a centre, and, this follows automatically, a margin.. a fringe).
The general tone of disbelief in outside regulation was heartening.
Ok, I’m writing this some seven hours later. I came back from a rather insipid interview with an oncologist, and now I’m trying, in office, to finish a story. In many ways, I love the fact that I’m living alone in this city – Mumbai – and working. But that’s a digression. The point I wanted to add was this interesting conversation I had with a colleague, who had a very different perspective on ‘illness’. An illness, he said, points out the weakness of the system. And, once pointed out, and expunged, the system becomes stronger. He was of course using the body as a metaphor of the political system. Ergo, according to him, the only way to attack a system is to let the illness spread… and let it engulf the system totally. Ok, so that bit’s frightening. But the perspective is succint. We’ve all heard about how we can only fight the system from within the system. But what has all this fighting got us? A stronger system

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