Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Unke dekhe se jo aati hai muh par raunak
Vo samajhate hain ke beemar ka haal accha hai

Hum ko maalum hai jannat ki hakeekat lekin
Dil ki khush rakhane ko Ghalib ye khayal accha hai

Friday, June 27, 2003

Often whenever philosophical topics are discussed, or when thought provoking movies are made or when people put fundaes in life, I go back to the basic question "What is the point of Human Existence".

That reminds me of a Calvin joke, where he also has the same doubt, and doesn't see any sense in continuing with the teacher's lesson until the issue is resolved.

Anyways coming back. Today after making me go red in the ears for not remebering the names of the ragas of previous lessons, my Flute teacher, started putting fundaes in life to his students. The students are all working guys so he can talk really complicated stuff, I mean you can't put Fundaes in life to school kids and all, that's what I mean. So he started talking about the origin of Music and how the swaras were discovered. He talked about the vedas and stuff. The pity is though I was hanging on to his every word if you ask me to quickly summarize I can't because ...oh well, forget it. It is beside the point. The point is from there he went on to talk about how his work on some music book was plagarized by another chap. He said it with a tinge of regret, of complaint. But then at the end of it he said that it doesnt matter who gets the credit, it is our duty to work. Even if we dont get credit for the work we do, we must be satisfied if our work comes to somebody's use.

Taken by itself it seems a fantastic philosopy. Karmanye-eva-aadhikaras te, ma phalesu kadachana. But taken with a million others which keep floating around at every HR seminar, or Art of Living course and what you get is, what I get is, confusion.

Let me list a few.

One: Aham Brahmasmi. I am Brahman. I am the universal everything. I can accomplish anything. I am every thing etc.
Two: I am nothing. He is everything. He is kind. He is powerful. I am but a plaything in His hands. Through him alone I'll get salvation.
Three: It does not matter. Nothing is permanent. So enjoy while you can. Dont worry about tomorrow or yesterday.
Four: Live for others. Take care of others. Help others. "Jeena isi ka naam hai." "How you have lived your years counts" etc.
Five : A la Fountain head. Live for yourself. Fearless propogate YOUR ideas. Decide for yourself. Ditch, even pity, the weak and the foolish.

Contradictions. Contradictions.
Should one live in a world of hard headed duniya daari breaking ones head over politics and war and money.
Or should one live in the arfifical world of beauty and poetry and Romance and fantasy.

Everyone says...ultimately what matters is ..such and such ( I dont mean truth :) )
So how does one know what matters?
Is there some great big ice-cream to be gotten at the end of the day. If so what does one have to do to get it. If God has created all of us and is just watching how his creations perform, probably running Characterization tests on us, who will he be happy with. What are we supposed to do? What results is he expecting. Why the hell should we bother?

People have told me ( when I tried to bug them with these questions) that all this is idle talk. We must get to work. These things dont get us anywhere. Why? Why? Why?
Why must we work?
How do we know whether continous action or serene inaction is what we are supposed to do?

The theory of evolution, that we all are nothing but a bunch of sociable atoms come together doesn't hold. For how do you explain instinct? How a lot of Hydrocarbons get together and strive for self-perpetuation is totally beyond me. However many fossils they dig out I am for Creationistic theory.

Have you read a great story with a great twist in the end and found a thrill of pleasure going all through you and making the hair on your arms and neck stand on end. Sometimes I feel that some such great ending will be revealed to us in the End, when all things will fall in place and all the above questions (and other similar ones) will be answered with, pardon the expression, shagadellic beauty. An undescribable, unimaginable, un-even-begin-to-imaginable Thrill will rock us then. And then the whole thing would be worth it. I think that would be Nirvana.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Only random thoughts today.

Yesterday morning just at the entrance of my office building I was offered a complimentary copy of the Deccan Herald. Now, I have never been too keen on that paper. Especially, I hate the insipid political cartoon on the Front page. But I took the paper anyway, as if on instinct, and regretted it the very next moment. It lies in the old newspaper pile at home without being opened even.
Question: Is greed ( more rather than less) an instinct in human beings.


The Week's cover story this time is about India's myths, demystified. They talk of, did Ashoka kill his brothers, did Buddha renounce the world and a lot of such stuff, was Razia's slave her lover etc. I love ancient times somehow and I felt like reading that cover story. I did read some of it. And it is nice. I dont know or care about the truth or logic of what they are saying but the old sounding names of cities and kings and tribes. Those are nice. It makes you try and imagine, to visualize, with the aid of other similar stuff you might have read or seen, how those times might have been.

Come to think of it, I love period movies- Lagaan, Utsav, Razia Sultan, Umrao Jaan, The Mummy, Ben-Hur, anything set in old times and I am bound to give it a try.

India has such a great tradition, such great mythologies, such very interesting people have lived here. There aught to be more movies and serials made based on this stuff.


On my very last day at IITM, I went to the Library, I had to return a few books for a friend, I wandered into literature section found a poetry book, some Sanskrit stuff, translated to English by some lady. So I read it and loved it and not knowing what to do, since I had to go home that day and wanted to read the whole thing. So I took it to the reference section and got the whole thing zeroxed.

Only later while trying to find the text on the web so I could send it to my friends, did I find out that that poem was a very famous poem called "Chaurapanachasika" by the famous 11th Century poet "Bilhana" also called Chauras. (In my eagerness I had not zeroxed the title page).

Chauras it seems was in love with the king's daughter and was sent to prison on account of that. So he composed the Chaurapanachasika, meaning "50 fantasies of a love thief". The king liked it and set him free. This is one particular version of the story. No one knows for sure.

You can search on Google for Bilhana and you'll find different translations of it. It is an erotic poem, but since it is so famous and all, you won't object if I put a link here . It is one translation. It seems different from the one I read. I have the zerox copy with me still.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

When I was working on a summer project after my third year, I stumbled upon four songs in a Mohd. Rafi playlist, written by Ghalib. There was a strange beauty about them, a strange melody. I liked the songs even though I did not understand all the lyrics. I listened to them again and again and mugged some of them up, so I could sing them to myself back in the hostel.

After I came to Bangalore I discovered during a Google search, a site called urdupoetry.com which lists Urdu Ghazals of several popular poets. I found the lyrics of the Ghazals I had loved on that site. The ghazals are generally long ones and only parts of them were perhaps adapted to the film songs which Rafi had sung.

I discovered one kutti piece of film trivia. "Dil Dhoondtha hai phir vahi phursat ke raat din, baithe rahe tasavvur-e-jaana kiye hue" (from the film Andhi) is a sher from one of Ghalib's ghazals, though the rest of the film song was written by Gulzar.

One evening during Channel surfing, I found a program where Jagjit Singh was singing ( Singh-ing? ) lots of Ghalib's ghazals. I found another ghazal to add to my favourites , "Yeh na thi hamari kismat ke visaal-e-yaar hota". My interest in Ghalib was rekindled and I eventually decided to look for casettes of Ghalib sung by Jagjit Singh.

So there exists such a casette. Sung by Jagjit and Chitra Singh. The songs are the soundtrack of the serial "Ghalib" which used to come on DD long ago. I have some vague memories of that serial, including a song "Dil hi to hai na sang-o-khisht, dard se bhar na aaye kyon".

So I bought this casette. Actually a pack of two casettes. And by god, are they fundoo! Again not all lyrics can be understood straight but that doesnt stop one from mugging the 'sounds' up. There is always urdupoetry.com to find out the meanings. And as the Prinicipal of my school in Trivandrum once said, good poetry can affect you even if you dont understand the meaning.

I simply have to have to put here at least the first song from the first casette ( By the way, the serial was produced by Gulzar and had Naseeruddin Shah in the lead role. The casette has a very difficult-to-understand intro by Gulzar).
Har Ek baat pe kehate ho tum ke tu kya hai
Tumhi kaho ke ye undaaz-e-guftagoo kya hai ( guftagoo = conversation)

Ragon mein daudate phirane ke hum nahi kaayal ( kaayal= shaukien, enthu about)
Jo aankh hi se na tapaka to phir lahu kya hai

Chipaka raha hai badan par lahu se pairahan ( pairahan = cloth, shirt)
Hamari jeba ko ab haajat-e-rafoo kya hai ( haajat-e-rafoo = rafoo ki zaroorat ; rafoo = darning, basically patching up)

Jala hai jism jahan dil bhi jal gaya hoga
kuredate ho kyon ab raakh justajoo kya hai ( justajoo= khoj, search)

The second verse is especially beautiful to me, though I can't quite say why it is beautiful. There is some very different, very subtle technique in it that is different from general direct poetry.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Today I start contributing to pollution and congestion in Bangalore and to Global Warming and perhaps to trigger a price rise in petrol and begin to cause future American Wars on Iraq, Saudi Arabia or any other major-minor oil producing countries.

I bought a bike today.

It is a strange feeling. It is the costliest thing I have ever owned, except for a degree, maybe. There are butterflies in the stomach and it feels really really awkward to sit on my own bike.

I have yet to decide whether or not I will get a pooja of the bike done, as the fellow at the Yamaha showroom, who showed me the tool compartment, suggested, before touching me for 50 bucks.

I can't ride a bike confidently yet and Som had to ride most of the way home. But I am going on the bike next time I want to give the clothes to the laundry.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Went to a trip to a Waterfall this weekend.
The road got really interesting when we branched off the highway onto some general road.
It was an ideal time to be on the road. The Weather was fundoo, clouds, breeze et al., the kind of weather romantic movies get shot in. Looking out the window was a lot of fun. The colours were all mellow and soft like in a matted photograph. They didnt hurt the eye. The earth looked a lot of shades from dull yellow to the deep red of freshly tilled earth.
A thought occured to me that looking out the window in a speeding Sumo, oops sorry, Qualis (caught that one in the preview) is like looking very fast through a photo album. Everything outside looks like a still picture. Especially in the countryside where people are not too much in a hurry anyway. And the pictures are nice ones - lot of black sheep in a field, a group of people thatching their hut, kids playing on a construction-sand mound, and ofcourse the standard picture of lots of old guys sitting in front of a shop staring after you.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

So at last I start Blogging.
A long time ago, Sumeet introduced me to the concept of Blogging. I was interested then, but not too much. But at last the desire to be read took over and Som enthusiastically helped me to set the whole thing up-comments, counters and all-in no time.

Had a very enjoyable Saturday morning. After a much needed hair cut, played some good football. The weather was good. Cloudy, slight breeze, with just a bit of sun. Came home exhausted but fresh, if you know what I mean. Then a shave and a bath. Water very hot and steamy to start with, slightly warm later on, cold towards the end. Head Bath after a hair cut is something else. ( Of course only half of humankind has the privilage of cropping hair close). Might I add that Mysore Sandal is an excellent soap. Next puts lots of hair-oil in the head, making me a bit sleepy, adding to the feeling of contentment.

Ah! Good music! Utsav. The song "Saanjh dhale, gagan tale" is of course famous, but there is another song, I dont know if that is also well known, with similar lyrics and tune, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and chorous which is I like even better. The chorous "Ham sab ke nainon mein kiranon keeee paakhi.." is sudden and sharp and ... Makes you feel like lovingly caressing the tape-recorder or even hugging it. Okay, okay, reach for the salt if you will!

So I slept on the mat in the hall, after a haircut, a football match and a hot water bath, with Utsav playing right next to my ears. As I said, I had a very enjoyable Saturday morning.

Friday, June 20, 2003