Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Miles to Mother Teresa

While my insides have been in some sort of turmoil, I've attempted to steady the course of my mind. Reality is the new name of my game. No, I haven't been secretly downloading the new season of Beauty and the Geek (eeek). The kind of reality I'm referring to resides in the pages of the 2 autobiographies and one biography that I've devoured in the last few weeks.

I've cuddled snuggly in the genius of Miles Davis and Bob Dylan, both giving me distinct and very different portraits of New York.

Miles conjures up phenomenal images of the evolution of jazz through the 40s, 50s and 60s besides providing candid and canny insights into the musicians, the clubs, the fringe crowd, the women, the racism, the life and the addictions. He details album recordings, shows, people and even his lovers, with a sense of detachment bordering on coldness. Like he was this God on a pulpit consenting to mingle among the mortals.

Dylan on the other hand comes across as your best friend, who's filling you in on his life. The epidsodes don't follow a linear time frame and they are sometimes fragmented and left hanging but there is a sense of detailing, even in aspects of clothes and places that shows the flowing style of the beat generation put in a blender with Bob's own wonderful sense for words. There are many myths that are dashed to the ground, almost no references to the sex, drugs and rock n roll lifestyle (he seems to have sidestepped it entirely preferring a loving family environment) and very little about his most prolific phase as an artist - the 60s. Even the famous Basement Tapes sessions with The Band find no place in his chronicles, the closest being a car ride with Robbie Robertson that he mentions briefly. Stranger still is his complete reluctance to name any members of his family, he even refers to the woman he loved and stayed married to all his life as his 'wife' and nothing more. Actually this is understandable considering that he has always fought hard to keep his family out of the public eye that caused him so many problems during the tumultous 70s. A wonderful read all the same.

The most touching book I've read in ages has to be Mother Teresa's biography by Navin Chawla. Tastefully written with just the right amount of emotion, the author brings to the table almost 2 decades of intimate access with the true saint. Add a whole lot of meticulous research, travel to many outposts of the Missionaries Of Charity and interviews with key figures who made this lasting miracle a reality and this becomes a serious tearjerker. I'm not ashamed to say I wept at many instances. When you realise the kind of work so many people have done for the faceless, voiceless millions, who have no one to care for them, it is a truly humbling experience. I'm glad I read it. It made many things crystal clear in my mind. sigh.

All this has helped me get back my old reading speed, which I thought I had forsaken ages ago. It feels good to be transported by words again. I think some fiction is in order.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the little joys #5

Being at the right place, at the right time. :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Battle of Pelannor Fields

With the new Rays the Riders came
Gazing down at the turmoil
Theoden gave the call
The horn of Rohann sang
And a thousand hooves roared

Like a flanking scythe
They Cut through the vile hordes
Screeching orcs, screaming men
No one surrendering, in the fields of glory
On the plains of death

From the south, the oliphonts

With mercineries from lands unknown
Crushing all in their path
With tusks a-barbed and eyes alight
Scourge of the battlefield

In the sky the Nazgul flew
Swooping down in unearthly wails
The stukas of Tolkien's world
Spreading cold hard fear
Among the mortals below

The elven archer and axe-weilding dwarf
Arrived in disarray
Talies a-rising, steel a-glint
With crimson pouring forth
They lept

No man shall kill him and that made him strong
As the king of the Nazgul
Feared by All
Slain by fair hands and raven locks
By the sword of Lady Eowyn

Tattered sails and creaking wood
Disturbed the still waters
In lieu of pirates,friends to Mordor

Emerged the spirits of a thousand undead
Spreading like a virulent foe

The spectres stole the creature's souls
And washed the evil away
In return their freedom earned
For the king of men
Did pardon them
And to their ancestors they returned

The battle was won
The castle of Minas Tirith kept
Women and children safe
Our heroes take a breath
Only one
For the the lord of Mordor lurks
Keeping an eye on Middle Earth
For all that it is worth

To the eye they must go
And end this once and for all
Till then the swords are sheathed
And the tatters out to boil.

There are only two places that have conjured up the grandeur, wonder and unadulterated magic that the worlds of Lord Of The Rings managed - Kodaikanal and Himachal Pradesh (Naggar, particular where the photo was taken).

Friday, November 24, 2006

ex-cru-ci-at-ing [ik-skroo-shee-ey-ting]
Extremely painful; causing intense suffering; unbearably distressing; torturing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Poor ol' porsche man

I was in Habitat, a tiny CD shop in town, a week or so earlier, meticulously browsing through the jazz section when a loud "hallo!" broke the silence. I glanced around to see that a young gent had entered the store, artificially straightened and coloured hair kissing his shoulders. Dressed immaculately in what was undoubtedly the latest in high design, he threw my own frayed kurta, crumpled jeans and wild furiously curly locks, a look of casual disdain. He then proceed to pull Minhaz uncle (Habitat's owner) out to gaze at his brand new Porsche Cayenne 4X4. They returned in a couple of moments and the gent decided to include me in his spec-talk. It goes from 0-100 in 5.6 seconds, has x horsepower etc. until he dropped the prize tag ever so casually, with the air of someone who was telling this story for the first time but I could sense a practised tongue in all this. It cost him a whopping Rs.1.4 crores. He quickly brushed that figure aside and said that he wasn't happy with the pickup so he sent a few parts of the engine back to Porsche factory, somewhere in Europe to get the souping up that he desired. All this at a further cost of Rs.50 lakhs, "completely worth it man because I'll be able to do 0-100 in 5 seconds flat." 50 lakhs for .6 of a second. The man is obviously a slave of time.

On finishing his story or procuring the DVD that he wanted (Johnny Tucker Must Die), whichever came first, he waved to us peasants and sauntered out of the store. As he reached the road a few meters away a shivering child, wearing scarcely anything but a pair of shorts and carrying a miniscule baby approached our hero, tears streaming down her face, asking for a few rupees for food. That look of disdain stole his features yet again as he muttered, "change illa," (I don't have any change) before striding purposefully towards his 1.9 crore set of wheels and metal. I was informed by Minhaz uncle that he had a few more cars in this price range and the money had all come from daddy dearest. He didn't have to work a day in his life.

This really disturbed me and I went out and bought the two kids some food and made sure they ate it. A tiny gesture, hardly worth mentioning. A day later the same kids would have been as hungry and as cold. I find that so many of us get caught up in our own lives and our own group of friends/loved ones that we very rarely reach out beyond this clique. The same people (me included) who have lengthy involved discussions about poverty and giving something back to society conveniently brush it aside when the opportunity actually arises to do something. By this, I don't mean going somewhere and dishing out money but actually rolling up our sleeves and helping people who have no other recourse, not for the recognition, not for the pats on the back but for the sheer joy of it. All my life, my existence has been filtered through my own ego, my own life. I don't know about anyone else but I need to change first. I guess some people will read this and think of it as some ideological bullcrap and some others will be touched. It doesn't matter, either way. I know what I must do.

And I must begin now.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Two Samorai

Two samorai
Two swords
Two glints
And a story told

In the valiant vales of valhallah
On the plains of destiny
In their mind's eyes
The fight began
Until there was no end

Honour was their creedo
Death but a joke
Not for a mere spar did they meet
The two samorai of yore

Steel to steel
Eye to eye
The clash of titans
Sparks reflecting the sun

The two samorai fought on
Beyond the night and dawn

Time came and time went
And time ceased to exist

Only space they saw
Instincts sharp
Avoiding the blades they swayed
Like dancers, like swans, like grace herself
The samorai battled on

Their battle rocked the heavens
Their battle shook the earth
Their battle led some to wonder
What all of this was worth

But the samorai didn't wonder
They didn't care
In their world was one other
One other in their gaze

The fight went on for eternity
And then some more they say
For each samorai wasn't fighting another
But something in himself
That day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Languishing in fields of green
Mind bending daze

Ripples of thought ebb away

Gentle sounds, harsh thoughts

Scatter remembrances across the blue

An overwhelming glow encompasses all

Like the arms of a mother

Warm, comforting, wordless

The Kaleidoscope unfolds

The rainbow is free

Sensuousness of body, of soul

The beauty is blinding

Shielding reality

The awakening inevitable but slow

And then suddenly

There's nowhere to go.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

On Repeat - Modern Times, Ancient Wisdom

How does he do it? The cavernous depths of Bob Dylan's mind has thrown up yet another collection of words, tunes and images that will endure the ravages of time. I approach geezer albums (read the Boss, Santana, Clapton... heck even Sir Paul) warily, with a touch of sadness, yearning for what once was. Then Dylan waltzes in, sounding as fresh as he did through the earthy strains of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. He's gotten personal, he's gotten wiser, he's even gotten wonderfully romantic and his voice carasses the instrumentation, gently remiding you its still there, lest you're lost in his words. I've noticed the word 'dylan-esque' doing the rounds in the description of every singer/songwriter not worth his harmonica. In the real world there is only one man, still writing, still touring, still rolling, still tumbling who deserves that high praise - Mr. Robert Allen Zimmerman.

Check out the lyrics of Spirit On The Water from Modern Times -

Spirit on the water
Darkness on the face of the deep
I keep thinking about you baby
I can't hardly sleep

I'm traveling by land
Traveling through the dawn of day
You're always on my mind
I can't stay away

I'd forgotten about you
Then you turned up again
I always knew
We were meant to be more than friends

When you're near
It's just as plain as it can be
I'm wild about you, gal
You ought to be a fool about me

Can't explain
The sources of this hidden pain
You burned your way into my heart
You got the key to my brain

I've been trampling through mud
Praying to the powers above
I'm sweating blood
You got a face that begs for love

Life without you
Doesn't mean a thing to me
If I can't have you
I'll throw my love into the deep blue sea

Sometimes I wonder
Why you can't treat me right
You do good all day
And then you do wrong all night

When you're with me
I'm a thousand times happier than I could ever say
What does it matter
What price I pay

I see you there
I'm blinded by the colors I see
I take good care
Of what belongs to me

I hear your name
Ringing up and down the line
I'm saying it plain
These ties are strong enough to bind

Now your sweet voice
Calls out from some old familiar shrine
I got no choice
Can't believe these things would ever fade from your mind

I could live forever
With you perfectly
You don't ever
Have to make a fuss over me

From East to West
Ever since the world began
I only mean it for the best
I want to be with you any way I can

I been in a brawl
Now I'm feeling the wall
I'm going away baby
I won't be back 'til fall

High on the hill
You can carry all my thoughts with you
You've numbed my will
This love could tear me in two

I wanna be with you in paradise
And it seems so unfair
I can't go to paradise no more
I killed a man back there

You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time

Need I say more?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Drag 'n' Fly

Click photo for better view.
He took forever to settle down. The head is seriously spooky and damn that shadow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

the little joys #4

Achieving perfect symmetry while shaving. :)
Silly but you'd be surprised how much joy it can provide.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Waiting for the boatman

The river stretched lazily, far and wide,
Not a ripple in sight
I gazed, nay squinted
Through the blackness
Inky and Bleak

The finger shone
White as the pale face
Of Death beckoning, beckoning
Eyes transfixedI went
Into the arms of darkness
With purpose With intent
On board!
The wooden serpent
Slithered through the waves
But still no ripples

The boatman stood
On the bough
Lantern lit
Stick clenched
His robes flapping
Like the wings of a bat
Tattered but strong
Never did he look back
Nor did I mind

The journey had begun
And rightly so
For it surely was
Time to go
Time came
Time went

Towards forever
We trudged
Towards eternity
Wearily but never tired

At last the end was near
The boat docked
At the pier
To let its passengers off

I followed the boatman
And his light
As it swung
To create shadows
In the blackness
In the night

And as it swung
A light I did see
It sent shivers
Through my spine and me

For the sign was old
With the light on it I knew
From where we had come
And where must I go

The sign it pointed
To the darkness
From which I came
And its letters spelt
Here I come

Wednesday, November 01, 2006