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Living and letting go


 

dewdrops

Let our lives  dance lightly on the edges of Time
Like dew on the tip of a leaf..”
Reflecting the light of love and joy
Through it’s passage brief.

Let no thoughts dull the radiance
Nor yearn to keep clinging on
Let go with grace when the time comes
And the circle will be done.

 

 

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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized

 

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I am and I’m not .


sun-in-a-aglassI(

(Photograph taken by my friend Arun Azhakesan)

 

I  can, if I want to , capture the setting sun

And  make it sit in my glass of water

I can if I want to  give the skies a run

And  then make it sleep  inside my decanter.

 

I can , if I want to, hold the world in my arms

And sing to it a soothing  lullaby

I can, if I want to , set the sun and skies free

I can be the deep ocean and the limitless sky

 

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Stepping into silence


The silence slowly  filters the trash

Floating on the sultry  surface

It dredges the slimy silt of thoughts

Piled up  with no purpose.

 

Just me and my awareness of  breath

That steadily  goes in and out

Just my closed lids that takes  me within

From  the world of worries without

 

Just a picture of a lucid pool

With the sunrays reaching deep

Just the joy of a little doe

As through the grass it leaps.

 

Just a stretch of soft white snow

That I  joyfully plod through

Just the green of a lotus leaf

On which sits a drop of dew

 

Just  a bunch of purple flowers

Peeping through the crevice of  a rock

Just  a slice of endless time

That’s not measured by a clock .

 

Just the languidness of a village  path

Winding through the palms

Just some   images seeped  in beauty

That soothes and cheers and calms.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Thank you for the music


Music is like meditation….

Sink into the eddies created by the seven notes and one is swirled away from the flotsam and jetsam on the surface of everyday routine  to the breathtaking calm and peace and beauty of the ocean floor, where   fishes big and small, swim in shoals amongst the coloured corals and spectacular  sea-weeds sway in rhythm  on rocks. .

Music is medication ….

A salve that anoints the muddled mind  and  heals the hubris in  our sequestered souls.

Music is manna  showered down upon us  in the wilderness  of our wants,  that  satiates our senses and our spirit .

 

Music is the bird that beckons from blossom-laden branches , the fragrance that floats in the spring air, the lightness  and lure of a child’s laughter,  the growth  of green moss on a rock turned bare, the solitary shell on a stretch of sand,   rain that runs in random  ripples,  the hush that hums to  the mountains  grand  , the mellowed dusk on a meadow and the grass that tickles.

 

Music is magic to our mortal fears,  that casts a spell on our ordinariness , the whisperings of the  wise old seer  who   foretells  of  our freedom  from  madness.

Music is love  for it is a rising swell  that envelops the peaks and the dust in the dell.

Music is divine for it annihilates the  shelf on which we stack our illusions of self.

Music is grace.

 

 

Okay all that as an introduction to my Sunday morning.

Usually , I’m not wont to synchronising my day with the rising sun and am better attuned to stretch in slumber in the early hours of the morning. But for the past couple of weeks, my Sunday mornings have been different  and refreshingly so.

I’d convinced myself that there was no age –bar to being a student and  a while ago,  had spent a few hours surfing  the internet  to locate a teacher who taught Hindustani classical music in the vicinity of where I lived and had courageously enrolled myself in one such group.

It’s okay for you to smile or smirk at this stage.

 

I’d been given a slot that began at eight in the morning and that sort of dampened my spirits in the beginning.

But here I was waking up this morning at 6 : 00 A.M , feeling bright and beautiful  by the time I had finished having tea and bath, had watered my plants , practising the sargam under my breath  and was sitting in an auto, with a braid of jasmines in my hair that I had bought on the way.

 

My voice is not at it’s best ever and in the mornings it is at it’s worst. But  I’m beyond the feelings of embarrassment.  The others around me  will just have to deal with it 🙂

 

I would like to share with you all a beautiful prayer from the Rig Veda  to which I was introduced by my music teacher.

संगच्छध्वं संवदध्वं

सं वो मनांसि जानताम्

देवा भागं यथा पूर्वे

सञ्जानाना उपासते ||

 saṃgacchadhwaṃ saṃvadadhwaṃ

saṃ vo manāṃsi jānatām

devā bhāgaṃ yathā pūrve

sañjānānā upāsate ||

May you move in harmony, speak in one voice; let your minds be in agreement; just as the ancient gods shared their portion of sacrifice.

समानो मन्त्र: समिति: समानी

समानं मन: सहचित्तमेषाम् 
समानं मन्त्रमभिमन्त्रये :

समानेन वो हविषा जुहोमि ||

samāno mantraḥ samitih samānī

samānaṃ manaḥ sahacittameṣām

samānaṃ mantramabhimantraye vaḥ

samānena vo haviṣā juhomi ||

May our purpose be the same; may we all be of one mind. In order for such unity to form I offer a common prayer.

समानी आकूति: समाना हृदयानि 😐

समानमस्तु वो मनो यथा : सुसहासति ||

samanī va ākūtiḥ samānā hrdayāni vaḥ |

samānamastu vo mano yathā vaḥ susahāsati ||

May our intentions and aspirations be alike, so that a common objective unifies us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Music, Uncategorized

 

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Aligarh-hindi movie by Hansal Mehta


I’m glad I went to see  the hindi film “Aligarh” this afternoon. I almost missed it . My daughter had booked my ticket online , but at the counter I was told that it had been booked for yesterday . I rechecked the message delivered on the mobile and realised that it was sadly true. Fortunately, lots of tickets were still available for the current show and so apart from the money  she lost, all was well.

 

One vaguely remembered reading about the newspaper reports that spoke of a professor of  Aligarh Muslim University, in North India ,  being caught on video in a compromising position with a young rikshaw-puller  and his subsequent suspension from his post , at a time when a High Court had revoked Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code  which made homosexuality a criminal offence.  Some journalists had broken in into his house, barged into his bedroom and filmed them. Almost immediately, four of the faculty members had turned up at the place and from that point onwards, life had become a nightmare beset with persecution and humiliation for the sixty four year old professor who had spent over two decades , teaching Marathi in that University.  Two days after the petition filed by him in the High Court was decided in his favour for revoking his suspension , he was found dead  in his rented house. The post-mortem  had revealed that there were traces of poison in his blood.

professor siras

 

Hansal Mehta’s cinematic version of this true-life incident is remarkably well executed.  Manoj Bajpai ,  enacting the role of Professor Srinivas Ramachandra Siras is superb. As the soft-spoken, unobtrusive, almost nondescript professor whose lonely evenings were spent with a glass of spirits and old hindi songs of Lata Mangeshkar,  his portrayal etched the character indelibly in the viewer’s mind, I felt.

 

Raj Kumar Rao, in the role of the young  Delhi based journalist  Deepu Sebastian Edmond, then working with the newspaper Indian Express, who had followed this case along with his photographer colleague Tashi Tobgyal, is also very impressive.

deepu sebastian.jpg

 

It was Deepu  who had  highlighted the culpability of the persons who had intruded upon the right of an individual to his  privacy and against whom no action had been taken.  In actuality, Deepu and Professor Siras, had never met and there had been only one conversation on the phone after the judgement was delivered. In the film,  they are shown to have met several times and the mutual understanding , respect and affections that developed between them have been very   touchingly depicted.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JezwsQKpXuU

 

“I don’t like the word gay”, the professor objects in the film.” To me it is like poetry, an indescribable urge”

And how can that be a crime if that relationship is  between two consenting individuals , if it doesn’t  impose or intervene or disrupt another’s space or rights or well-being?  That it is  unnatural , is the reason provided by  almost all religions and the law. How can an individual help the way he feels about love or it’s expression if that is how his nature is ? Isn’t Nature itself a testimony to the fact that homogenity is against the very nature of Nature itself , with it’s myriad forms, colours, contours , climates, niches and nurturing ,  food cycles and courtship and reproduction.

 

In this age of taking sides , of information and counter-information and misinformation,  of strident voices dominating  every aspect of human existence , of confusions and helplessness, how does one sift through the incoherence and arrive at any conclusion? How does one know for sure that what one is standing up for is indeed the Truth in the shifting sands of morality , patriotism, religious beliefs, definitions of propriety, social norms, traditions , culture   and so on?

The truth is perhaps that one may never know . May be the only way we can justify our perceptions is by gauging the truth of  our own feelings . For me, the touchstone would be whether  my alignments are motivated by love or animosity for my fellow human beings. Which side I am on is not perhaps of  any significance .

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in Community, Movies, Uncategorized

 

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I stand with JNU


Life is just wonderful for me as an individual, right now and for most of the time I am without any feeling of gnawing guilt that there is something wrong about me being so happy when that isn’t the case for many of my fellow-beings.

Some days , however, the guilt does take over , like today, watching and  listening to the video in which  P.Sainath  is speaking to the students at Jawarharlal University , in solidarity with the struggle going on in that campus.

It was years ago that I read ,”Everybody loves a good drought” and if I think back , it was reading about the realities of poverty-stricken rural India  from a person who had gone around the countryside documenting it first-hand , that one felt this enormous urge to be part of something bigger than myself  and connect.  My association with a humble effort to bring some education to children of migrant families from rural India , now residing in an urban slum in the National Capital region,  was in many ways an expression of that desire.

I do realise  that even in that desire to be part of something like this, is also about the self…the need for absolving oneself from the  responsibility  for the distressing circumstances around us.

But that is another  personal jihad.

In Sainath’s own words, he is a field reporter  who, who till last year, spent more than 250 days in the countryside  and studies  and reports about the realities at ground zero.

To me, as to many others, he is one of those who has maintained utmost integrity in his journalistic profession.

So I tend to completely trust what he says  and in the cacophony of all the different channels on television and social media,  a voice like his , gives me a better insight into the larger picture  and the long-term  consequences of economic policies  that have been manifesting itself in rural lives.

Sainath is an alumnus from JNU.

These are some salient excerpts from his speech:

According to the Socio Economic Class Census  data , in less75% of rural households which constitutes around 883 million people , the income of the main breadwinner is less than Rs.5000 and if that limit is raised to Rs.10000, it will include 90%.

He describes the current years as a period in which there is the greatest degree of inequality.

Pitched against the above above average  income of rural India , is the Forbes report which ranks some Indians as the fifth or sixth in the list of dollar billionaires and for a better perspective , he draws attention to India’s ranking as per  the Human development Index, which is 135th, which is lower than all Latin American countries, fifty positions lower than Vietnam who went through the ravages of the world war, and twenty positions below Sri Lanka , who had a civil war going on for thirty years.

 

Another glaring aspect of this wider picture that he was sketching in his speech was that of the  declared assets of elected representatives through the years. While the number of crorepatis  amongst them was 32% of all M.Ps in 2004, it was 53% in in 2009 and a whopping 82% in the 2014 elections.

So who is getting richer at whose cost?

 

Anybody who questions these inequalities which is being systematically  created by political and corporate vested interests, is being branded as a criminal and cases are then slapped upon them. This is what has been going on in Odissa and Chattisgarh  and elsewhere, where corporates are setting up their industries, taking away agricultural and  forest land and curbing restrictions on the forest rights of tribal communities.

When we talk of love for our country, is it just an abstract idea?

Is patriotism and nationalism worth their names if it doesn’t include empathy and concern for those whose rights to a dignified survival are being gradually eroded away with state collusion?

Are we  a free nation if the majority  of our brethren are left with no real choices to make about the things that spell the core of their existences?

India is a country which has  some of the most regressive practices on earth, said Sainath, but then adds that it also has some of the most fascinating and brilliant things about it as well…a land where 833 million people speak 780 living languages, out of which 6 are spoken by more than 50 million people, 3 are spoken by more than 80 million people and  one is the language of 600 million. One language (Jeru in the Andamans) is spoken by just one person and another  (Saima in Tripura) by seven persons. This diversity is India and this is the richness it possesses.

Sainath has done extensive investigative studies on the agrarian crisis and the farmer suicides in the Vidarbha region and elsewhere. As he mentioned in  his speech, he is a field reporter who till last year,   spent more than 250 days in rural areas  and he hasn’t been a stooge of any particular Government. So what he says should have some legitimacy.

The responses to the matter of farmer suicides from the Government, intelligentsia, media and the general public have been generally lukewarm, he blames, although he gives more credit to the empathy of the general public as compared to the other three.

And then we have an elected representative of Maharashtra describing these suicides as a fashion trend and another from Andhra who had remarked that they did it for the compensation. The compensation, says Sainath is Rs. I lakh, 30% alone of which is paid to the widow in cash. Of the remaining 70%, which is tied up as a fixed deposit, she gets only the monthly interest of Rs.446 or so.

That’s how insensitive we have become.

Comparitively, he mentioned , the officers of the Defence Institutions where he had given lectures were more  empathetic and concerned  as many of the jawans were farmers in uniforms and they were witness to their  tension and worry when they received a distressing telephone calls from home.

What is at stake here in the present protests, in the context of the arrest of the JNU student leader  Kanhaiya Lal, is the liberty to dissent  and Sainath emphasised in his speech that the fight was not just for their immediate demands , but against the criminalisation of dissent.

With the death of the ten soldiers under an avalanche in Siachen, the figures of casualties in the Glacier has risen to 879 , says an Indian Express report.

Is it lack of political will  that we cannot resolve these border issues.? Who gains from keeping these conflicts alive here and elsewhere in the world?

Who is the enemy of the state?

Does the State always work in the interests of the human beings, they are supposed to represent?

Is it sedition when you speak up for the latter and raise slogans against the former when it is perceived that they don’t?

 

Jawarharlal Nehru University definitely stands for a place  where all such questions  have always been raised and debated.

I’ve spent around 34 years in Delhi . Now a persistent regret  has raised it’s head…that I never had an occasion to visit that campus.

 

I stand with JNU.

This is the You Tube link of Sainath’s speech. It’s long , but worth listening to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3dq6pApmhk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2016 in Community, Uncategorized

 

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Of Crime and Punishment


As I’ve confessed before, I get  hooked to watching serials involving criminal investigations. Nowadays , I watch “Criminal Minds” .  In this series,the “Behavioural Analysis Unit “ of the FBI , works on narrowing down on the perpetrators of crimes with the help of behavioural clues  that the “Un Subs” or Unidentified suspects leave behind  through the nature of the crimes, the weapons used, the degree and kind  of torture involved, the profile(s) of the victims they choose and so on.

 

It must be stressful for people working on such cases throughout their careers , who  would be becoming  aware of the immenseness of the violence and intensity of negative feelings that lurk in the human minds and the circumstances that lay the seeds and the factors that contribute  to their growth and ultimate fruition , if one may call it that.  One of the actors Mandy Patinkin , who was playing the role of  Senior  Supervisory Special Agent , Jason Gideon, chose to leave the show  because he was deeply disturbed by all that was being portrayed  in it. His departure was written into the script  in the same way…..the letter left behind him  in that particular episode  mentioned that he could no longer make any sense of it all.

 

There was one particular episode,” Open Season”,  in which the team was investigating a series of murders in  a National Forest, just before the start of the hunting season. The victims appeared to have been running away from someone …hunted down like animals  and shot down with a bow and arrow. The perpetrators , it turned out,  were two young boys, who had been orphaned when they were five or six and had been brought up by an uncle, who never sent them to school or allowed any kind of social interaction.  All that they learnt of right and wrong  was from the only adult in their lives…this uncle ,  a distorted human being himself. Agent Gideon explains to his colleague how easy it would be for the boys  to do what they did, considering that affirmation of their worth  in their eyes, depended solely on the approval of their uncle   and the fact that the moral compass was totally lacking in their lives.

 

There is a scene in this episode where one of the boys is wounded  and  when Agent Gideon reaches him,  he whisperingly begs that his brother not be shot at , as he was the only one he had in his life and the  officer gently strokes his forehead and consoles him saying, “it’s okay son, it’s okay”.

 

I had mentioned about the  film “Human” in a recent blog…..a series of interviews with a cross-section of people all over the world talking about their experiences with  love, forgiveness, poverty, war , loneliness and so on. The first part of this series, begins with Leonard  from U.S.A  and what he had learnt about love. This is what he said:

“ I remember my stepfather . He would beat me with extension cords and hangers and pieces of wood and all kinds of stuff . After every beating , he would tell me,”it hurt me more than it hurt you” and “I only did it because I love you “. It communicated the wrong message to me about what love was. So for many years, I thought love was supposed to hurt and I hurt everyone that I loved and I measured love by how much pain someone would take from me. And it wasn’t until I came to prison, in an environment that is devoid of love that I came to have some sort of understanding about what it was and was not.  ….and I met someone and she gave me my first real insight into what love was,  because she saw past my condition and the fact that I was in prison with a life sentence for murder , not only murder, but the worst kind of murder that a man can do , murdering a woman and child. …and it was Agnes, the mother and grandmother of Patricia and Chris, the woman and the child that I murdered who gave me my best lesson about love because by all rights, she should hate me. But she didn’t and over the course of time and through the journey that we took….it has been pretty amazing….she gave me love…..and….and  (he grows silent here and the tears stream down his cheeks…) she taught me what it was.

 

As I read   reports and reactions in the newspapers, TV channels and in the social media , about  the juvenile  who was one of those  in the gang who committed the horrendous rape and murder  of a young girl on a Winter’s night  in Delhi  three years ago,in a moving bus,   being allowed to walk free, I try to sift through my own emotions . I can gauge the pain of the father, though unable to internalise it completely, who wanted to give his daughter all possible opportunities in life to go ahead ; I can empathise with the mother  who would be living through the pain her daughter suffered many times over , every time she dwelt on that fateful night.  At times, anger comes welling up  from the guts like puke  with the knowledge  that such incidents make all parents  become fearful  for the safety of their daughters  and that the only way they can handle their fears, in a country like ours,  is by making their movements  more restrictive.

 

And yet, when I read in the papers today , about the people in the boy’s village in Badaun District in U.P, describing him as a good boy , who never got into any fights   during the time he lived in the village, of his mentally unstable father and of his mother  for whom the only source of livelihood was the money he sent her after moving to Delhi, of the tiny hutment  which didn’t even have a proper roof till last year, of his siblings who are only eight and ten years old,   I wonder about all of the circumstances that had directed his life to move away from that village which is still ready to forgive and accept him back into their fold and  to befriend the others  and participate in that horror.

 

How did he lose his moral compass ? Is he alone responsible?

If I was in his place would I have been different?

Would I seek and hope for forgiveness?

Would I change as a human being if I was forgiven or would I be emboldened to repeat ?

Would others be emboldened ?

Is fear of punishment to be the only factor that will remove the existence of crimes?

Like Agent Gideon, I find  that  I can no longer make sense of all that’s going on.

All I know is this…that even as I hate what he did….I’ll  find it immensely easier to  think about it if I learnt that Nirbhaya’s parents forgave him .

 

 
 

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