Monday, August 31, 2009

The Gates Of The Forest.

Author : Elie Wiesel
Genre : Historical Fiction
Rating : 8.5/10

Once in an odd while, you happen to come across a book by sheer chance. You pick it up from a pile of unfamiliar and unpromising ones, place it in the more obscure regions of your reading list, and leave it at that. You expect absolutely nothing from it. It so happens(very rarely) that when you eventually get down to reading it, the very same book sweeps you off your feet with its beauty. With its understated brilliance and poignant narrative, "The Gates Of The Forest" was that book for me.

An old, frayed copy that I picked up in the lanes of Janpath. Partly, because I like old, musty books better than squeaky new ones. And mostly because I had nothing better to do there. Though I picked it up at random, I remembered later that Wiesel was known for his autobiographical "Night". I admit, at the end of a routine marathon-read weekend, when I had completely exhausted my entire supply of tomes, was when I finally picked it up. I couldn't put it down.

Coming from a Holocaust survivor, the book attempts to draw a balance between fact, fiction and the underlying theological manifestations of the two. It tells the story of a young man, and his journey through days of war. Abandonment, isolation, doubt. The story of his physical struggle and survival, perceptual evolution, and spiritual decay. The loss of faith, and the eventual reclamation. Winding through spells of time with such eloquence, that it leaves you wanting to stop, reread, and rethink it all time and time again.

This is probably the only book I fell in love with from reading the preface itself. Would recommend it to anyone who prefers more caffeine than sugar in their coffee, metaphorically speaking.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yet Another Disconnected Inference.

The more closely I observe people, the more it disturbs me. And I'm left to wonder how we could possibly have come this far in time, as a civilization.

The real villain isn't the thug with a gun, prowling dark alleys. It's the white glove that conceals the claws, and sugary smiles that hide venomous fangs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Of Tales That Will Never Be Told.

An unlikely congregation.

You and me,
and all of our friends.
Some old,
most found anew.

Whispers passed,
among prattle and cheers.
A twinkle caught,
by one too many.

The illusion,
of much being said.
When realities
stay much too fragile.

Perhaps a skeleton,
waiting to tumble out.
Or a secret- bound by faith,
and a forgotten promise.

Distortions, scandal,
deception, treachery.
Lost in days of inebriation,
and nights of debauchery.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This would be a bona fide dedication to who I know to be one of the greatest artists ever. Tori Amos.

I started following her music at the age of 9, and remain just as awed by it 11 years later. That says a lot considering my long-standing inclination towards the "flavor-of-the-month" approach. (Which, allow me to add, extends well beyond music.)

She plays the piano, writes about religion, sexuality, and all that jazz in between. And sings like she's sending a message across. Only, it takes a hell lot to decipher it. Therein, my friend, lies the beauty of it. This particular video you see here was the very first number I heard by her. And it took me ages to understand what it signified. That's what it is, every song of hers. A cryptic puzzle. With hidden references and visual symbology on such fascinating levels, it blows me away.

And to demonstrate :
  • The song is about miscarriage, and the ensuing denial and loss of faith. Part of which explains the reference to nicotine patches.
  • "Spark" is a reference to the unborn baby, which could not be kept alive. Hence the "6:58, are you sure where my spark is?".
  • "If the divine master plan is perfection, maybe next I'll give Judas a try." Self explanatory, isn't it?
  • "Ice-cream assassin"= God.
  • The man following her is to signify that which we run away from all our lives, towards the path to safety promised by faith.
  • The twins that abandon her in the end represent the double-edged sword that faith is.
To think that she manages to do this every single time, is just astounding.

Happy Birthday, Tori. You make art.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Them Transparent Dangling Carrots.

Good day to be listening to Alanis.

I honestly think this woman is something very significant to have happened to music. There's a certain raw, edgy quality to every single one of her works. Not something that hits you in the face and walks off. It's something that settles deep in and lingers. Disturbing, because it's so real that you know you've felt it.

She's known for working with strong themes and visuals. And often, the shock value of it. Case in point being the 2004 Juno awards gig, and the B.E.P parody. I still remember how she had made headlines worldwide, with the former.

Right from Jagged Little Pill to Flavors of Entanglement, she is to be appreciated first as a songwriter, and then for everything else. Which, in itself, is a lot.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Confession #1

The smileys I intersperse in any text I write, justify their existence only with the purpose of cushioning brusqueness.

I intend to stop. Right now.
(Not the brusqueness.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Independence Day, India.

January 7, 2009. India Gate, New Delhi.

Congratulations on 62 years of self-governance.

It's always better to be doing your own thing, than to have your fate decided by the whims of another. Particularly when the interests of "another" show mutual exclusion from your own. Even if the resultant mess may be somewhat harder to deal with, subterfuge is always to the rescue.

And because list-posts leave very little room for BS,

Things I love about India :

1. Diversity. A blinding, overwhelming extent of it. Geographical, cultural, linguistic, religious, communal, and economical.

2. The very prevalent amalgamation of the aforementioned diversity. It is, in effect, an explosion of colors far more than you would ever find on the world's most expansive palette.

3. Having the right to make your own choices and live by them.
India is a country that doesn't tell you to be something she wants you to be. There is no code to be followed, no stringent norms to adhere to. Society here, gives you a taste of everything you may want. From anarchy and chaos, to a communist sense of order. India, imposes no expectations.

4. One doesn't have to be filthy rich(by global standards) to have a taste of the good life. Through the practice of which, one quickly learns what it entails. Boredom.

5. The fact that when you're sitting in a cafe with a group of friends, odds are that each one of them speaks a different language at home. Yet, if you ever get them to bring it to the table, each one would be understood perfectly by all. (Try it. It happens.)

6. Opportunity. The nation makes no pretenses about the dog-eat-dog philosophy. Fight for your life, and get it. In a place where law is more about working your way around it, it's the only fair game to play. And growing up in such an environment, if you make the slightest of efforts, gives you a rock solid sense of judgment. Needless to mention, a certain degree of savoir-faire.

7. The people. Melodramatic and theatrical. Completely OTT, mostly harmless. Usually annoying, but ever-present. I doubt if the extent of inter-personal interaction we have here is paralleled anywhere else in the world. You learn to hate them with a vengeance, but once in an odd while, they surprise you. In a good way.

8. The tangible heritage. Epics, mythology, beautiful monuments (temples, dargahs, sarais, tombs, stupas, churches, etc), ancient crafts kept alive by modern artisans(regional paintings, sculptures, etc), various schools of music(Carnatic, Hindustani, Sufi, etc) , dances and martial arts. No point in extending the list. I might as well make an Indi-pedia out of it.

9. Spicy food. Praise the Lord for chillies and garlic!

Things that will eventually drive me out of here :

1. Decadence. It's like a disease. Or weeds. Penetrating every inch of existence, every aspect of being. Slowly corroding everything it touches. Till it all begins to resemble red, blood-stained scraps of metal.

2. Gender Oppression. No matter what fate you are born to, no matter what you do, it's there. Whether you choose to bend under it's weight, or fight against it, it is a crucial part of your existence. You live through life feeling either violated, or having to fight it every step along the way. But it never goes away. As a child, you're lucky to be loved and wanted. And are asked to be thankful for that fact. Thankful for what? For being loved despite being a girl? DESPITE? You grow up feeling intimidated. Scared. Inhibited. Locked up in a cage for your own safety. Because it's a big, bad world out there. As a woman, you are treated like a piece of meat dangling on a hook. With no respect, no honor, and no voice. You yell, you shout. But even a million voices shouting with you are drowned out by a roar. The deafening roar that bears down on you with the gravity that reality brings with itself.

3. The deplorable state of the education system.
With no credit given to actual learning, original thought is suppressed all over. Mug-and-regurgitate. No research involved.

4. Nepotism and the power of political influence.

5. The widespread resistance to learning. I know exactly what I mean by this, but don't want to put it in words.

6. Disregard for the value of human life and time.

7. The clearly laid out outlines of public morality, present only for the purpose of keeping up appearances.

8. An assent(and absurdly, a preference) for mediocrity.

9. An ineffectual government.

10. The need to get more out of life. Much more than what 3,287,590 km2 of land and 1/6th of the world's population has to offer.

To conclude, some things are and some things are not. That doesn't mean that they can't be better.
Thank you for your time.

Now go fly kites.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Monday, August 10, 2009

Tiny Russian Dolls.

(Because the Russian variety is harder to find.)

The oddities are not,
what they are thought to be.
Not spread over space,
but coalesced into layers.

One within the other,
another within the last.
A million different people,
intertwined through many pasts.

Like tiny Russian dolls,
that tell stories of their time.
Enclosing a million little secrets,
or an odd, unforgivable crime.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Concerning Cruelty and Clemency.

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli - Chapter 17.

" [...] Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails."

Returning to the question of being feared or loved, I come to the conclusion that, men loving according to their own will and fearing according to that of the prince, a wise prince should establish himself on that which is in his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavour only to avoid hatred, as is noted."

Written during the Italian Renaissance, by an eminent political theorist of the time, for Lorenzo de' Medici( ruler of the Florentine republic) , one may wonder what relevance this famed piece of literature might have today, outside of the odd historical references and footnotes. Loads, as I have learnt. Be it philosophy, sociological theory, ethics, epistemology and morality, all of which are just as crucial aspects of human knowledge as they were a thousand years ago, and will be for those to follow.

And if nothing else, think of all the things you could do with a how-to booklet for conquering and governing kingdoms.

Muahahaha! *evil laughter, for effect*

Friday, August 7, 2009


This is just fantastic.
I will not let my words dilute the awesomeness of it.

Observations, interpretations and nonsense are welcome. Along with anything else you might like to throw at me. Cheerio!

P.S. Look out for those two eerie "things" at the end.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Giggles, Guffaws, Beer and Obama-mania.

Webcomic courtesy xkcd.

Jokes apart, I'm a big fan. I'm still completely and rapturously in awe of Obama. And considering a man who can be a talker as smooth as THIS, for the love of brilliant oratory(if nothing else), allow him the odd foot-in-mouth for once!

What's more? The president settles a scandal over jugs of ale!
I mean, this just escapes comprehension. The Harvard professor(Mr. Gates) , the cop(Mr. Crowley) and the Prez himself, bonding over beer like a bunch of college jocks, in all their post-minor-fist-fight glory. In the rose garden at the White House. That, my friends, is something truly amazing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

All that glitters...

and that which glows.
trinklets, threads, beads.
and memories.
some collected, some received.

Sometimes, I Think.

That libertarians exist in power only so that anarchists and authoritarians can peacefully bludgeon each other to death.

Governance is a pitiful excuse for ordered chaos.
Yes, I know that's an oxymoron.

No wonder.