Friday, November 18, 2011

walking through

The steady absence of new writing in Lustrous Lives has kept me thinking over the past few weeks. Failing to mark out the exact reason has been disturbing too. Because I prefer all things neatly laid out on the table - be it the cutlery, or, ideas. But as you may have guessed, it never happens that way. In fact, as a student, my study table got a clean up once every six months only. My mother was exasperated. And I had a confident reply to her agonising pleas of tidying up: "People who truly study, have no time to tidy up." (usually followed by a big smile) The ways of the world didn't change but the circumstances I were in, did. Once the onus of family responsibility launched, the cleanliness freak checked-in in me. Now, I was at the receiving end of the trick "no time to tidy up". I freaked out. I took oaths that I wouldn't care to tidy up. I freaked out. Took oaths. Freaked out. And .... the swing continued.

With the new life here in Ha Noi, the swinging between the extremes have been nauseating. It is not at all fun! And so I planned to kick myself out of the pendulum of to-clean and not-to-clean. I need to jump of to something addictive, I thought. Something that would be too engrossing for me to have the time to suffer the swinging. I did. I took to watching television. I watched how the horrible persons strived to stay in Hell's Kitchen because they were great cooks. I watched three films in a row and slept till late evening. I fell of learning to ride a bicycle (yeah! at 28, am trying to learn how to ride a bicycle!!). - Well, this was the only exciting part to the entire thing I guess, but that's another story, for another time.

So, I was getting sucked into an addiction while trying to kick off another addictive habit. It was not good at all. Writing was taking a back-seat and so was living a healthy and happy life. It had never occured to me that turning off one switch and turning on another can be so tough. Sitting there in front of the television, the obsessive thoughts about cleaning were nowhere in my cerebral horizon. But, that was the only good news. I sat there, sometimes not even noticing what was happening on television. But I couldn't get up. I couldn't switch it off. The bruised knee from the fall didn't help either. But I also knew, it was not about the painful knee. I was afraid what I would do once I kick off the habit of watching television.

The feeling that you have too much time at your disposal can be harmful more than being productive. Keeping oneself busy is the motto in such circumstances. But, once in a while, one can make a wrong choice too. As I did. The freak-out-and-don't-care pendulum for cleaning, the addiction of watching television - these were the wrong choices that I was making to keep myself busy. I was waiting for one door to close and for another to open. I was waiting for the old habits to die and, the new habits to be born.

But I forgot about the twilight - the zone where there is light and darkness simultaneously. A zone where one has not yet died and the other is already being born. Once, while listening to my life plans, my father had made an observation - You can not always wait for one chapter to end, to begin another one. I thought he was talking about multi-tasking. I know, now, he was telling me about the twilight zones that fill our lives.

Lustrous Lives is passing through that twilight zone. Regular postings are not happening. But, I hope you will be there when it comes out of this phase of twilight.

Thank you for being with me all this while.

Love to you ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

what remains ... in the meantime

In between, time has flowed. Bags have been packed once more. Goodbyes have filled the air of the airport. And, bags have been reopened in a new city. A new home is settling in to the familiar chores and music of life. The grand festival of the Goddess Durga happened in the bustling city in the mind. The entire batch of Puja Chronicles have been brought to life.

The sameness of the events, the sameness of the memory of the days, have surprised the self that consciously attempts to live in the 'now'. The fun and the frolic of the festival days seem to come back, each year, with a strange sense of familiarity. And yet, the familiarity does not breed boredom or contempt. It is like a self-sustaining fountain - the same joy that drops at the pool of regular life below the fountain of festival, rises again. With a new force. With a new vigour.

Nothing amazes the mind more than this cycle of re-formation, of re-vitalisation. Except maybe, the cycle of new goodbyes that we have to bid. Last year, on dashami, the final day of the Durga Puja, or the festival of goddess Durga, the family had bid adieu to a well-loved human being. This year, on the same day, the world bid adieu to Steve Jobs.

For many, Jobs is an entrepreneurial icon. For many, the man is an exceptional case of achievement. For some, he is a demi-god. For some, he is not good enough as a human being. For this humble blogger, he is none of the above. For the blogger, Steve Jobs is the man who gave a speech, at Stanford University in 2005, that changed the blogger's life, forever. 

His speech involved stories from his life and the realisations that emerged from them. The blogger remembers the words, just as many of you do. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."  Trust in what the heart says. Listen to its voice. More so when it directs towards the difficult road. 

Two and a half years ago, the blogger had found these words. Then she lived with the ignominy of an unfinished academic degree, that she supposed was her passport to the future. An unbearable agony of incompetence had set in. In a foreign land, she cribbed about what will never be. And then, the most beautiful and powerful thing happened in her life. This blog was born. "You've got to find what you love." She realised her love for words anew. 

What Jobs initiated in her soul, a supremely magnetic lady sealed it this summer. As she sat with the blogger on the couch in her sitting-room, she listened intently to the blogger's plans of doing a doctorate. She heard the blogger's ecstatic descriptions of her creative writing adventures. She shared her joy and appreciation at reading one of it. And then she put forward a question. Why do you want to spend all your energy and time in redeeming what didn't happen? The blogger realised something she has been avoiding all these years - that, the unfinished degree was the reason she was pitching for the doctorate. Not for the love of literature. 

"You've got to find what you love." And when you find it, you simply keep doing it. The blogger realised, at that point of time, what the speaker meant when he said, "There is no reason not to follow your heart." Death comes in so many forms. The fear of failure is possibly the most potent one in our everyday lives. "It is Life's change agent." It truly is. It is a finality that you can despair of and wait for all your life. Or, you can use it as charger to charge up the batteries of true potential and love that lies in each one of you and go on to live a life that made you feel good about yourself.

Steve Jobs may be missed otherwise, but to this humble blogger, those words at the Stanford University in 2005, will remain forever as true and as powerful as it was in 2005.

You can listen to the speech here. Or, read it here
Image: a flower that fell to the ground, and is still blooming. Taken at a monastery in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. 2011.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Melodies : heard and 're-heard'

does time freeze?
Taking cue from time that is past, from time that created words, time that produced the last blog post is as difficult as one can not imagine. The flow of ideas have passed on to a stream from which this mind is a long way off. Trying to cross the distance doesn’t make sense, since there is much flow in this stream itself.

From managing to pack one and a half years of life into twenty-three kilograms of checked in baggage, to taking out two kilograms from the backpack in front of the servicemen and piling them back once away from their view; from reaching the sweltering, humid hometown and running into its warm familiar arms, to dressing up in the best silks for the wedding at home, getting drenched in the rains and the sweat, staining the sarees with both – phew! life has been busy ever since the last time fingers were put to the keyboard!

Amidst the familiar smells, the familiar loud laughters and unending adda (chat) sessions, the familiarity of the keyboard, the blog-roll, the interaction with you, the social networking sites have been missing. Action in the social arena sapped away all the time one could manage between maintaining the unabashed eight to ten hours of sleep per day, in spite of continuous encouragement from all quarters to improve upon that inappropriate scheme. But that is not what this post was meant to be!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When memory ... 2nd part

Emotion is, one assumes, non-existent in times of war. Killing and dying, being lucky enough to survive, and other such primal instincts that humans have carried forward, from the lower ranks of the Darwinian ladder, seem to be the sole truth. Truth of a war is, however like truth of memory - nothing is either this or that. Absolutes don't exist in the memory of devastation. Neither is there one dimension that defines completely what devastation is like. Neither is there one emotion that exists during a time of death and devastation. Neither is there a massive shift in emotions from fear and hatred to love and compassion once the war is officially over. What takes a fraction of a second to destroy needs a lifetime to rebuild. And no, the destruction referred to is not structural destruction. It is the intimate, personal, covered up hopes, ambitions, desires that are more fragile than the concrete structures and life.  

While watching the War Trilogy of Roberto Rossellini - Rome, Open City (Roma, città aperta) , Paisà and Germany Year Zero the above articulated thoughts occurred. 

It is difficult to express responses to images and incidents that seem to nullify all meaning in existence. The long silence since the last post When memory... was because of that difficulty in thinking about things that the 'cultured' mind assumes to be gross. But then, it is interesting  how the eyes see the things that it assumes it doesn't want to see; how the mind locates the things that it assumes it doesn't want to know about. This post is an interlude about how the need to remember brought this second part of "When memory..." to life.

Memory is synaesthetic, meaning that one sensory perception automatically stimulates another sensory perception. The memory of a gashed wound that you hear about is translated into a visual image by the power of words used to express it. Such is the case. A link to an article on a social networking site led to an editor's blog. A particular link in that blog led to the article The Falling Man. Before the article begins, the image of a man, who had jumped from one of the towers hit by the terrorist-driven aircrafts in the USA on 9/11, stares back.

The truth about why or how this particular man appeared to be calm and at a perfect perpendicular position during his fall in this particular photograph, unlike the photographs of the other 'jumpers' that surfaced since the tragedy, remains unclear. And that is not what the article was about. The article addressed the issue of silence. Of forgetting deliberately. Of selective amnesia for something that the 'cultivated' mind identifies as gross and inhuman. As if the end of the 'jumpers' was any different from the people in those aircrafts. As Tom Junod writes in the article : "But now the Falling Man is falling through more than the blank blue sky. He is falling through the vast spaces of memory and picking up speed." ("the falling man" refers to the man in the photograph) 

Accepting the brutal truth of the inconceivable ways in which death can happen is difficult. Silence seems to be a better option. As if forgetting is a way to heal the wound. The most quoted proverb - "Time is the best healer" is possibly not a restorative idea at all. It encourages 'falling' through memory, from memory into those spaces that gradually become too dark to see. It is anything but healing. It is an attempt to bury the moment, the emotion, the incident. As some languages are being lost in this globalised world of ours, so will some memories be lost. Choosing to remember seems a mammoth task, an impractical thing to do some would say. But then, what has this slipping through the cracks of time done for us till now? We read about historical incidents; no understanding emerges from them it seems. Such is perhaps the folly of forgetting. So what happens when we choose to remember, to acknowledge and to heal?

To be contd. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

When memory ...

This was in the days when you didn't know what the picture would look like until the entire roll of 36 shots was used up and you sent it for development. Uncle joined a photography class, working out his homework of painting a glass, half filled with water, in the evenings, as the niece and the nephew and the daughter scrambled to see what was it that was being done. There would be some interesting words floating in that room - 'perspective' being one of them.

As the course advanced, the three kids followed him around, bewildered at all the machinery and the set up that was now being put up in that little room above the garage. The glass was being covered with black chart paper. There was something sinister in it, the kids thought. Uncle suddenly talked about what was it like when there was a war. To keep the houses drowned in darkness, for the sake of safety, the lights were put off in the evenings, the glass windows were covered with thick black clothes when a lamp was lit. It seemed to be a story to the kids, like the one they read in books.

Years later, the story of the war is suddenly re-lived. The numbers of the dead, of the injured, of the demolished , the heroes and the villains, the sounds of the guns and the bombs - are returning to the consciousness. This time around, there are no popular names, no popular faces, no history text books analysing the primary and the secondary causes of the war. This time around, there are only faces of people who could have been an acquaintance, a friend, a lover, a family.


It all began with Kurosawa's Rhapsody in August. 

The musical name and its soft vowel sounds betray the unease that permeates this film. While their parents visit a newly found relative in America, the kids spend their summer holiday at their grandmother's country-side home. The long lost and the newly identified relative is supposedly one of the grandmother's brothers. The grandmother doesn't remember it however. The kids spend their time speculating how wonderful it would be to go to America.

They attempt to remind their grandmother of her past, so that she would accept the invitation of her 'brother' to visit America, along with her grandchildren. In the process, they unwittingly have a view of a war that is only a story to them. The ripples of the devastating atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 touch their hearts for the first time in their lives.

In the sun and the rain of their summer holidays, they come to know their grandmother as they have never known before. Her silent ways perplex the kids at first. They do not understand why their grandmother sits, face-to-face with a woman, for a long time without uttering a single word. The silhouette of the two silent old women, with white light flooding in from the background creates an uneasy frame even for the viewer. Later on they come to know that, both the old women had lost their husbands to the atomic bomb.

A distant past, untouched by the children, returns as a newly realised emotion in the now.   

To be contd.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Does Spring spring out of nowhere?

According to the Encyclopedia of Religion and the Encyclopedia Britannica, the timing of April Fool's Day is directly related to the arrival of Spring, when nature 'fools' humans with erratic weather.
as if spring arrives on a date that you can mark in your calendar! as if, till the 31st of March, the buds are trained to remain shut and at the dawn of the 1st of April,(amidst the twittering of the birds) they march to full bloom, as kids dressed as flowers would do in a performance as the teacher animated the movements from the side-screen! 

Spring doesn't really sprint into our lives, does it? 

In hot and humid Kolkata, spring makes it presence felt through the soft winds blowing through the thickly populated city. It is in the air that you can smell the arrival of spring. In such times, our neigbour's mango tree brings in the smell of the juicy mangoes that will populate its branches a few weeks from now. The 'mukul' (the flower which will become mangoes) have a tantalising smell. 

mangoes-to-be ... 'mukul'

The kids passing through the lane look up with expectant eyes. The mango tree's human neigbours looked at it with longing. Maybe one summer storm called 'Kalbaisakhi' (since the storm usually happens in the Bengali month of Baishakh, it has gained this name - the black storm of Baishakh) will make several seed-flowers to fall (unfulfilled mangoes ... sigh!). The owners of the mango tree, their neighbours and all the people passing the lane would mourn for the untimely loss. Spring is also such cruel times.

flowers that bloom from the soggy earth
In countries which suffer devoid-of-the-sun winters, spring arrives with sogginess. As the snow thaws, (and doesn't return anymore, thankfully), the soil becomes soggy - wet and dirty as mud. The few green stems and leaves that had been covered with snow all this while looks maligned. They lie in a wet heap. And then, suddenly, you see flowers blooming out of nowhere. 

flowers that bloom in light
The flowers appear because of the increase in light. Or, it seems that the soil, that was suffocated with snow for so long, feels relieved as the weight of the snow melts into life-sustaining water. If you look at the muddy, soggy soil for long, you can have the feeling that the soil is quenching its thirst, soaking in the pleasure of being able to breathe freely once again. 

so, is it spring now?

May be, the true arrival of spring happens as the new green shoots appear, the new leaves curled in sleep appear on the branches that have been starkly empty for long. 

up above in its
The birds too have returned to inspect the branches that can be used for making nests. They hop around the trees and shrubs, identifying the perfect branch, swiftly breaking it in its beak and flying off to where it plans to have its nest. 

Perhaps, the vitality of all things natural is the actual harbinger of spring. 

With not much ado, Lustrous Lives too seeks vitality ... in words and patterns. Hence the new look. 
Please do stop by to share your opinion on the same. Please share your opinion on whether the posts are reader-friendly in appearance, or not. All opinions (both favourable and unfavourable) are heartily welcome.

Wish you all a vitality of the mind, the body and the soul this spring :) 

Images: "mangoes-to-be ... 'mukul'" by my uncle Subhendu, a few years back. Copyright retained by him. The rest of the images are shot here and there in Lund by the blogger. spring 2011.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Colours (the concluding part)

Another dream it was in a series. On the plain black screen figures appeared. The language was unknown. It meant "Mount Fuji in Red". 

Since the geography project in which the nine year old had presented the 'land of the rising sun' as best as a nine-year old could, Japan became the land of dreams. Internet was still a few years away. Scourging through books in libraries, Japan unfolded in its mystic charm. The kimono, the island country that feels the sun first - so to say - every day of the nine-year old's life, the eyes like little arcs on the face, and Mount Fuji, the dormant volcano, pristine in its silence, against the backdrop of the aqua sky - enchanted the mind.

Mount Fuji as the nine-year old found it

Ah! It was a land of dreams; it was a dream in which the music from the string instruments always flowed on, as can only happen in dreams.

Mount Fuji was standing tall. It was changing hues - red, orange, blood red. There were a series of explosions behind Fuji. There was a mad rush of people. The middle-aged man in black and white formals mused : "Japan is so small, there is no escape." The woman, holding on to the hand of a child, another child secured on her back, spoke as a living being speaks till s/he is dead. She said, "We all know that! No way out! But still we have to try. No other way! " 

Akira Kurosawa stepped into the world of coloured films towards the end of his directorial life. After directing films in the black/white medium for about twenty-five years, he used colour for the first time in Dodesukaden in 1970. The film was a financial disaster possibly because it was unlike any film that Kurosawa had done. Along with the explosion of colours in every frame, the camera was used almost as a detached observer, with no desire to create a causal narrative. It was simply watching things, people, places. 

It is truly an experience to observe the use of colours by a director who has worked for long in black/white. 

Dreams (1990) (accompanied by Ishiro Honda in direction) presents eight 'dreams', that, critics argue are Kurosawa's own. However, it seems that Kurosawa travels from the personal to the universal in them; as dreams usually do. 

Dreams are never what they seem. They never tell the whole story. They hold un-uttered fortunes in them. It is here that the psychoanalyst and the viewer of Dreams gain a space of existence in disturbance, like volcanic islands in placid lives.

Mount Fuji, the landscape from the land of dreams, appeared in a macabre splendour in Dreams. In spite of the fact that it was still dormant, there was absolute chaos. Something tells you that the scene is progressing to absolute annihilation. This dream titled "Mount Fuji in Red" is actually a nightmare of a nuclear meltdown. 

On the morning of the festival of colours, a peculiar scene from this 'dream' kept coming back amidst the waking life: the scene of the coloured clouds gradually shrouding Mount Fuji as the middle aged man in formals explained 
Radioactivity was invisible. And because of its danger, they coloured it. But that only lets you know which kind kills you. Death's calling card.
The different radioactive elements had been coloured so as to identify them. The man in formals, a man who had worked at the nuclear plants that were exploding, named one radioactive element after another, specifying how it affects human beings. The woman with two kids was increasingly becoming horrified. Her words seemed to come from beyond the cultural calm that Japan was showing in the waking life, faced with the possibility of a nuclear meltdown. She screamed as she held her kids to her bosom: 
They told us that nuclear plants were safe. Human accident is the danger, not the nuclear plant itself. No accidents, no danger. That's what they told us. 
As I remembered all the clouds of colours that we created on Holi, a prickly sensation passed through the body. As I remembered how we used to run after anyone who wanted to stay away from colours on Holi, I shivered. The memory of faces smeared in red, in yellow, in purple made me feel weak in the knee. The stomach curled up, trying to expunge the nightmare of the dreams that can be tangible and real in the crudest manner possible. How horrific it seemed, that, on a day celebrating the vigour of life, the terror of colours was engulfing the mind.

Mount Fuji looked as if it was a glowing hot iron. And then, there was no one around except the woman with her kids, the middle aged man in formals and a young man in jacket. And then, there were only the woman with her kids and the young man frantically waving his jacket at the coloured clouds - red, yellow, purple engulfing them. 

I do not know what numbed the mind more - the possibility of a nuclear meltdown or the truth that human beings, like you and me, had chosen to develop this power on which they truly have no control.
You can watch "Mount Fuji in Red" from Kurosawa's Dreams here.

(Special thanks to Arijit for discussing the films and enriching my understanding of them) 

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Waiting is ennui, it is patience. Both being true simultaneously tumbles the logic gates of either/or, still in use in computers and human brains. As science creeps and crawls and suddenly stands up to barge into a hitherto not-chosen path, it will perhaps become less weird and more normal to have simultaneity in existence. Waiting will then be both ennui and patience, without the need to explain why it is so.

The laptop screen is covered by leaves - yellow and green. Beyond the glass windows, the trees sobered by winter chills are yet to see the leaves return to life. The leaves on the screen are yellow and green all through the winter. The thin light brown stems that hold them to the branches, are tinged with a dull red, the colour of blood. Blood is never the gorgeous red of vitality. It is always a few shades deep, a few shades dull. Almost as if, it doesn't care to live up to the attribute of vitality that we have endowed on the colour red. To us red is the vital colour of all things passionate and fierce. To blood, red is a colour it happens to have, mixed with a tinge of brown, a little bit of dull black too.

As the old laptop slowly comes to life, stretching its limbs, waking from a night of closure, the leaves look at me. Often, I watch one leaf, its curve, its colours blending into different shades, the angle at which it hangs; I breathe in a leaf at the beginning of a day. 

No mornings are really different from the last. Each has its own taste and texture. It is new altogether, not different in degrees of how much less similar it is from the last. You can not compare the sky and the buildings that seem to touch the sky, can you? They are unique; not merely different from each other. So are the mornings in the laptop screen covered with leaves in yellow and green.

It was Holi, the festival of colours, a week ago. The mythology behind the festival is varied. Simply put, it is the day celebrating the vitality of spring, in all its denotative and connotative meanings. The onslaught of colours that ambush you, smearing you with the different hues, is like a celebration of revitalisation. A promise of another exuberant beginning after the winters slide by. Red and pink; yellow and green; blue and black. It is a carnival, a unrestrained day lived in vigour. On the morning of the festival, I woke up, waiting for the yellow and the green of the screen to smear me. In a land where abir (the colour used to play Holi) is nowhere to be found, the imagination creates the carnivalesque. 

The earthquake, followed by the devastating tsunami had visited the shores of Japan on 11th March 2011, a week before Holi. A natural disaster, that no man could have averted. News of the stoic Japanese people, news of the devastated towns and cities, news of people dead, injured and lost, news of the shift of the tectonic plates thousands of meters deep in the sea flooded the internet. And still, life moved on. The nuclear plants in Japan were affected. People were evacuated from the nuclear plants. A handful of people stayed on at the sites, trying to prevent a nuclear meltdown. In lands as distant as this, we watched in horror, in pain, in anguish, hoping, praying, believing that all will be well. And then there was the news that blasts in the Fukushima Nuclear plants have been reported. Till before this, nature was the undeniable wrecker of havoc. The blasts at the nuclear plants signified the possibility of a nuclear meltdown. 

On the morning of the Holi, as I browsed the news bulletins to check out the latest condition of the nuclear plants in Japan, a memory of a dream came back to me. 

To be contd.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On why all things change and yet none do

There is nothing that is the absolute truth in this temporal world of ours. When you and I hold a day old baby in our arms, and touch its soft, smooth skin, you and I are in the here, in the now. You and I do not think of the bruises and the wrinkles that time will bring upon it, though time will, in its own sweet pace. The truth of the child is in the now. No other truth exists at this point. 

Often we meet people, in social gatherings and in mirrors, who feel their lives are a lost cause. They think their dreams are too late to be awake. Sixteen, twenty, forty years have passed since they had this dream. It is not sympathy when you and I say, under our breaths, that we know how they feel. We really do, because you and I have felt like this, at some point.

You and I may have walked through those stormy zones of the mind. You and I may have been drenched and left dripping like a crow in the storm. You and I really know the weight of wet straw and the eventual loss of it. One of us may have picked up fresh, dry straws and stuffed the scarecrows with them, creating them anew. The possibility of another rain and another storm washing it away didn't stay longer than a breath in the mind. It is at this point in our lives, you and I were there and then. You and I were in the here and the now. 

Life rarely lives up to the blueprints we create at the beginning of our lives. At the beginning, you and I were childish, full of dreams, full of confidence that all those seemingly absurd dreams could be made true. As we walk down the road, the blueprint doesn't seem to match the route. You and I still hold on to it, for some time more. We still have some hope left in our youths. We take a few risks here and there, make a few abrupt jump cuts. For one, maybe, the blueprint now seems visible in the road that lies ahead. For the other, the blueprint seems to be a distant truth, as distant as the truth that years ago, the mature body was a lump floating in amniotic fluid. The blueprint ends up in the dustbin by the road if we can retain our composure. If we are struck by rage, the roads are strewn with bits and pieces of something that you and I once called a dream that we believed in. 

As the pebbles and the boulders seem to lie right at the place where you and I intend to place our singular foot, we laugh at the childishness of those dreams. You and I share the joke all along the way. Our laugh thunders through the journey, maybe. And yet, something within feels like the empty place left by the oil drilled out from the earth's core. A collapsing empty space, away from the eyes. You and I are nowhere. We are not in the here, we are not in the now. 
Are our blueprints of dreams truly an outcome of a child's play? What about the potential you and I felt as we tapped our earths? Was it a dream, a fantasy of the child who can create universes out of nothing? But, was life not born from nothing that can be tangibly called 'living'? Our dreams, dreams that you and I nourished, can not simply be a passing toy! Even as you and I tear it apart, from our bodies, they stick to our souls. You and I can't find anything to loosen the adhesive.

Dreams are relative as is the truth about them. They transform as caterpillars do to butterflies or tadpoles to frogs. Yet, they retain the quality of dreams - that which can be a truth - may be in a different time; but truth it is nonetheless.

As you and I meet such individuals again, in conversations or in mirrors, let us remember to share this little joke of relative dreaming.

Image/s: Same tree, same time, just with two different application modes. In Lund, Sweden. By self.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weird connections: the method in madness

After Amy Chua and Darwin one must be thinking what next? The connections seem to get weirder than ever since the time the discussion on learning began. That is precisely what is aimed at: To look beyond what the system tells us to think. To search for new perspectives.

We already have the perspective of the glass half empty or half full. What will we see when we have a bird's eye view of the same glass? The question is impertinent. Irrelevant. Unnecessary in our world. Or, rather we are cajoled into thinking so. Let's just get out of the overcoat of rational thinking and look around the real world.

Mankind is looking forward to creating inhabitable spaces in the moon. And this is not  material for science fantasies only. The Indian Space Research Organization has discovered an underground chamber in the moon's surface where a human settlement could be erected.
The settlement would be protected from radiation, micro-meteor impacts, dust and extreme temperature changes by the lava structure that provides a natural environmental control with a nearly constant temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), unlike that of the lunar surface showing extreme variation, maximum of 130 degrees Celsius (266 degrees Fahrenheit) to a minimum of minus 180 degrees Celsius (-292 degrees Fahrenheit) in its diurnal (day-night) cycle. (From this article)
At such a juncture in the history of the human civilisation, when change is the only thing that is becoming constant, do you still want to believe that all that we should be doing has already been  apprehended and we just need to follow the blueprints?

These are the changing scenarios in this changing world. The more we accept the cosy couch of the factory mode of learning, the more we choose to look away from the reality of the existence in the now.

The argument that may peek out of your minds as you read this is: How can you plan to address these issues when faced with diversity and population? 

May be all that we can choose to do is affect change in our little lives. Choosing to encourage questioning. Choosing to walk the paths not only with the purpose of material achievements. Choosing to make ourselves and the next generation thoughtful beings, aware of the needs, the changes and the possibilities this world and its inhabitants hold in them. 

The question that occurs immediately in the mind is: Does this ensure any impact in the larger scenario? Well you never know what the n th number of generation from now will be thinking. But short-sightedness is not the natural vision; is it?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weird connections : Necessity, Evolution and Learning

What did those ancestors of ours thought when they drew bisons on the cave walls, perhaps in the light of a burning wood. Perhaps there were others looking at awe at this unique phenomenon of capturing, in a completely new sense, what they see running and throbbing amidst the landscape. Perhaps they were dumbstruck that something like this can happen. Perhaps the first artists in the history of mankind were shunned from the group. Or, perhaps the artists were hailed as supernatural beings. Perhaps it was at this point of time in human history that the idea of creation most poignantly emerged separately from the history of necessities that made man. Necessity is said to be the father/mother of all inventions. Necessity is also the reason there are discoveries. Had there been no urge to find new sea-routes, the landmass we call America would have never been discovered. (But that is another story altogether). What if we go a step further and say, necessity is also the cause of evolution?

Evolution is cryptically defined as the Darwinian idea of the survival of the fittest. It is not the survival of the strongest. It is not the survival of the most ferocious. It is a poetic truth actually. What can be more poetic than the radical cocktail of the element of chance (not so radical in the post- Quantum era though) and the primal urge of survival? Had the human ancestors not felt the radical urge to continue existing in a world that is naturally more powerful than humans ever thought of being, the history of mankind could have been lost in the voids of time.

As mankind trekked through its own history, Darwin's adage was seen as a scientific truth, detached from the reality of our worlds. Power became the stronghold of survival. And humans believed it; they continue to do so. Histories and myths of once great and thriving, and, now extinct civilisations are not very hard to find: the Harappasn civilisation, the ancient Egyptian, Greek,  Roman civilisations, the native American civilisations. And yet, man believes that, that is different. Humans believe that they exist as a continuity of the past civilizations. In terms of genetics, it may be so. In terms of the basic science of Darwin, may be not. 

In  an Old- English poem, a refrain occurs : "That has passed and so shall this". It was a refrain in an elegy, a poem about loss, a poem of lamentation. In that context, this is a hopeful, stoical view of life. Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest seems to be a variation of this refrain. What has survived in pre-historic eras - the wide variety of dinosaurs, the mammoths, the Archaeopteryx (possibly the first bird)- is lost in this present time. What is in this time, may as well be lost in some future time. And yet, Darwin's theory is but a story in the history of science.  

Does this mean we have a meaningless existence? Existence is the meaning we give to this present moment; what meaning it will have in future times we can only speculate. The most profound quality thatthis rather young species in this world needs is perspective.

Herein, interjects the history of the human civilisation and our ongoing discussion of learning. There are differences between what was done, what can be done and what can't be undone. The human learning process does not initiate the mind in seeing the difference between each of these. Education in this modern world is still largely something like the factory production system. There is no  one better to explain this than Ken Robinson in his admirable light-hearted and yet forceful way. 

(to be contd.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

spartan shots

A lone bird sits at the top of the thatched roof.  Now and then, a few more black strokes appear on the roof. The black roof, the black silhouettes of the birds, the red bricks of the buildings and the sky smudged with blue and grey spread together on the canvas. 

A woman, her head covered in scarf, her wrinkled hands holding on to the trolley, passes in front of the building. Every time she pauses, she bows her head for a moment and then looks up fixing her gaze on something in the distance. Her thick stocking-ed legs seem rooted to the ground whenever she pauses. The black shoes has the curve of the roots of trees that are visible above the ground. She pushes forward her trolley again. Her long grey skirt fumbling at her knees. She passes the gap between the two buildings. 

You look back and see a lone bird is sitting at the top of the thatched roof, its head turned sideways.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Her white sari is swollen with the wind. Her small round face moves towards you. The carvings on her face sit benignly together with her twinkling eyes. Her eyes are shining and yet seemed to hide some thing. You look into her eyes. Her glance is moulded in love. You feel that her love is different from all that you have ever experienced before. Her love causes a strange burning sensation. It is like the way you feel when the empty stomach experiences the acids - acids which feeds on food and gnaws into the walls in their absence. They are not angry when they hurt you. They merely live the way they are supposed to. By feeding on others.

You feel her love is not only like this.

Her love seems to create the same tickling of the senses as the fluttering of a mosquito on an open wound. Her love is sensational. It envelopes you like the fire that welcomes your body, retracing its origins among the elements in an old burning ghat of an ancient city. Nothing much has changed since the time Marquez first saw the girl rising with the clothes, flying in the wind, and then, vanishing into the elements. You feel comfortable and calm as she looks at you. To disappear is but a natural phenomenon, she says. Her lips move and you hear her, but nothing is audible yet. A few faces float by, chanting the song of inevitability. You can feel the glistening drops trickling down their faces. As her smile blends with the nowhere, like the smile of the Chesire cat, the last link becomes a myth.

It is now free and floating in the cauldron from which the visions of history arise.


 Image: a bird in flight and a sun in the clouds, on way to Helsingor, Sweden. by self. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

and suddenly more of it!

IS it mere coincidence that this talk appeared in my mail from TED subscription account just a day after we were discussing on changing the definitions of 'success' ?

In fact, more dimension is added as i realised, that, what i was wishing to direct my previous posts to, is more aptly called 'balance'. a simple 10 minutes would do, if you can spare .

Learning in the Regime of Success 2

The problem is the way we define success. 

In our minds, an equation of success is somehow defined. Success, we believe, is the same as  achieving fame and material well-being. Neither of the pre-requisites of being successful are evil by any chance. The question that follows is: what will make you a success? The answer, however, is indefinite. 

Could following the life path of the successful people, doing exactly the things they did, lead us to success? It's doubtful when cooking the same recipe usually yields different results. 

However, there is one thing that we can try to inculcate from the lives of truly big-shots. To be hard-working, to concentrate on a chosen area, to be dedicated to it in spite of experiencing repeated road blocks. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Well, this simple potion can be administered to aim towards excellence. This 'success' is of a different kind however. It involves achieving the highest potential in the self . But, isn't that what the 'tiger' mother wants too? Yes, it is. But here we have a major shift in perspective . 

While  in the regime of the 'tiger' parent, discipline is imposed, in the regime of excellence, discipline is a way of living advocated by the self. 

In the regime of success, envisioned by the 'tiger' parent, the child is an object of the demands from the outside, and disciplining imposed by an other. In the regime of success directed at achieving excellence, the child is a subject in the vision s/he dreams for her/imself. 

Learning the art of disciplining the self is a necessary quality of living a worthwhile life. Learning to face the responsibility of a decision taken by the self is a pre-requisite of a meaningful life. Learning to encounter incompleteness and moving on after accepting it is the rare quality that you can bestow on someone in this battlefield called life. Instead of encouraging being a thinking individual, why are we then hell-bent on creating a batch of Agent Smith-s in the matrix of our lives?

Or, do we think like Mimi and Eunice ?

Are we ready for the unlearning needed to successfully achieve excellence?

 Mimi and Eunice cartoon by Nina Paley

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

words erupted when reading p.267 of Starbook by Ben Okri

It is not love that doesn't lead to death. The death of the fear of being vulnerable. The death of the fear of being hurt. The death of the fear for the all-overpowering joy that love can bring. Each death in love leads to a new birth of the soul. Drenched in the light of the sun, you can not tell if the soul is a golden orb of fire or of light. Loving once is not like dying once. The clamour to preserve the walls that lock in and hence protect the self rises each time it is demolished. Each time love passes through such a wall,  making it disappear into dust, another wall, somewhere ahead is born. To cross each wall, death must come in the hands of love. 

Can you believe in this realm of life, the one in which we live and hope to love, that love is a power? Can you believe that loving is a vulnerability as well as a strength? It actually is, if we see at love without fear. Love is knowing the limitations and walking along. This idea of walking along needs continual renewed fervour. We are afraid to exert ourselves to that extent. We are secured in our habit of living with the image. We are afraid to look behind the mirror, or beyond it. We are after all afraid of all the new that can be born from our own selves. Love is a challenge to face that fear. Not all new is blissful, not all new comes with calm. And that is possibly the reason why utopias don't exist. The picture perfect image is good only within the frame that hangs in our drawing rooms. 

Love is the principle of life itself. It doesn't promise all glory, all smiles, all affection. It does promise a lifetime of an experience. It can be a process of individuation, a realisation of the amazing potential that lies dormant in each of us.

With the risk of being termed cliched, these words pour out in this space, populating a deep rooted idea that, all that life is, is, ultimately about evolving as a better individual. The possibility of loving another individual (loving in the sense the prince in Starbook expresses, or as the humble blogger meditates upon it) arises only when one can love oneself with all the promises and all the failures that one is. Loving then becomes an act one bestows upon oneself in the journey of becoming the best one can. And the best you can be is by surrendering all the fears of the past, the present or the future ... like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air ...

Monday, February 14, 2011

From : "Starbook" by Ben Okri ... an interlude on love


All love must lead to death. And out of this death a new man or woman is born. But ... also love does not lead to only one death, but to several deaths; and that because of love one must keep dying and being reborn, from time to time. And ... love dies only when you resist another death which love brings upon you, in order that you be reborn, and grow. That is why there are few real loves in the world, because people fear yet another death that they must endure. They count the deaths and rebirths they have undergone and say 'so many and no more, so far but no further; I will not die again for you, but intend to stay here where I am, how I am now, and here in this fixed place. I intend to build the castle of myself on this rock.' 

...[T]here was no end to the deaths that love brings about, and no end to the rebirths either. Each death making us lighter, freer, simpler, more human, more vulnerable, more strong, more spiritual, more tender, and more universal. Till we become unrepresentative of our clan, tribe, country, sex, religion, or any other classification; but just a beautifully  dying  living  being, dying and being reborn, regenerated, refined, for ever, till we become a kind of dream of light, ....

Reading it for the second time ... an essay on love is happening ... now ... in the eve of the day designed for love in this world of ours ...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learning in the Regime of Success 1

When we look around us and see the bubbling of corruption, unrest, inhuman acts and desires born out of hatred and anger, we are forced into the corner of self-questioning. Where is it that the world has gone terribly wrong? The list of such things is endless and as varied as the number of the stars in the sky - living or dead. The root is difficult to identify. The off-shoots are too many.Yet, if we listen to the throbbing of our own pulse, the drive that moves the human self to development as well as to destruction, is, 'fear'. And this 'fear' necessitates obedience in order to maintain the scheme of things.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Learning the elements: Earth (Concluding part)

While the symbol of the continuous cyclical order of things and life is addressed, in the previous post, there remains another part to this element that none will deny. The element of 'motherhood' bestowed upon this element is essentially feminine, or so it seems. The female body conceives and gives birth. Hence the association of the female nurturing self with this element is understandable.

Rewind to a time when life, as we remotely understand it, possibly began. 

From where did this unicellular organism evolve ? From the water, the scientists say. The birth of life happened in another element and the life of man is and was nurtured on land. The idea of the mother earth is, then, an evolutionary realisation.  Humans are terrestrial creatures and thus this element has gained motherhood. (We are yet to know of the possibility of human beings as amphibians).

It is an interesting experience for the blogger as she reviews the notion of the 'mother' earth. The image of 'Gaia', the spirit of the earth; the image of Sita; the fertility images since pre-historic times - all of these direct us to this singular realisation that, the human kind has attributed the role of the nurturer to earth since it has appeared to be the primal necessity for human existence.

Before the blogger had started scripting this series, this idea, the earth as the mother, seemed elemental to her. Now, as she writes and reads and delves more into the thoughts that made earth the 'mother', the blogger realises that, the 'mother-ing' of this element is more of a convention. It is done by humans seeking security in the psychological comfort that arises from bestowing this nurturing capacity to a singular element. For, imagine living without the other elements - without the knowledge of fire the human race couldn't have survived this long; without water a human being can supposedly survive for about 3 to 5 days on an average; without oxygen a normal human being survives for a few minutes only! The blogger is surprised at the conditioning of her logic that had yet undoubtedly made her believe that, earth is THE mother!! 

Captain Planet and the Planeteers
The blogger wishes to conclude the re-learning (if she may say so) of this element with reference to a cartoon series she devotedly watched during her early youth. This cartoon series was titled Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The spirit of the earth encapsulated in the character Gaia, bestows on five youths, across the five continents, with magical rings that can control the four elements, the fifth being the Heart, symbolising love and compassion. When the powers of the five rings are combined, a fantastical entity emerges - Captain Planet, whose power is derived from the sun.

As the blogger was writing this post, she was constantly reminded of this fantastical Captain, one 'born' (if the blogger may use that expression) from the combination of the varied elements of nature and from an element that the humans share with the natural world - the heart/love. The 'mother-ing' of the element earth becomes re-interpreted in this perspective. It appears that the elements, both individually and collectively, nurture human life in this strange celestial sphere whose 72 % is covered in water alone. The idea of the 'mother earth' is far from being gendered. It is possibly a metaphor for that part of the cycle in which we, humans, exist; the part of existence that we acknowledge as life. 

Images: "Mothering" - image of statue in Prague. by self. 2010.
"Captain Planet and the Planeteers" , the web.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Learning the elements: Earth

This post is a continuation of the "Learning the elements" series. The previous posts in the series are: Learning the elements: Fire

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Leading to learning: unlearning

This strange word - unlearning - is confusing.

To be educated is, we suppose, to learn. We learn different ideas, numbers, facts and details. We learn that they must be applied and re-applied. This mumbo-jumbo of information fed into our brains appear to be pretty much the foundation of our future lives.

It is only when we leave the backpacks filled with textbooks, and, carry the trendy sling bag of regular life, that we realise the uncanny need to unlearn. We somehow feel that the learning of the yester-years is not enough. And then, we are in for a shock. We haven't learned to unlearn at any earlier point of time in our education! We didn't realise earlier that getting the highest grade in school is but one chapter in our lives!

Unlearning is nothing but beginning a new cycle of learning. This doesn't seem a tough task, does it?

It is elementary. But the problem is that we are trained in a school of thought that establishes repetition as the necessary idea. Unlearning is all about forgetting, or rather, letting go, of this habit of repeating. That sounds simple, but it's terribly difficult.

To be always a soft pile of clay is a challenge. To be a soft pile of clay once more, after it has been moulded and it has gained a form, appears impossible.


Calvin and Hobbes comic strip © Bill Watterson and Universal Press Syndicate.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Old thoughts. New Series.

In school, the blogger's favourite subjects were anything but compartmental. She loved language and literature - both English and her mother tongue, Bengali. She was thoroughly intrigued by Physics lessons and developed a particular love of mathematics for a short time. She loved studying history but suffered a mind-block when attempting to remember dates of eras and emperors. She belonged to that weird species of school-goers who liked studying. Eeek! Some younger folks (friends of her sister, precisely) were continuously shocked to know, that the blogger's plan was to continue studying, no matter which year she met them after school. The gasp and the horrid look on their faces made her embarrassed. They meant no harm ; all that they wanted was, to hear something different than the word 'study', the blogger guesses! Bless their souls!

In spite of her love of the weird combination of subjects, she knew very clearly that she would choose to study in the Humanities stream, when the time would come. Among all the subjects, literature appealed to her the most, and, she knew she wanted to study literature in English. Bengali literature was an area that she can continuously improve upon at her own sweet time. The reaction of all, except her close classmates and family, was one of disbelief. The humanities stream was considered the least prestigious study stream then. Once, one of the mathematics teacher in the school, (with whom she shared an antagonistic relation because of no reason she can remember now) stopped her in the corridor to ask why she was not joining the Science stream. He refused to believe that it was her personal choice based on her preference for the arts. She further met some folks who were simply disgusted with her choice. She didn't quite understand the reason why the humanities were any less worthy a subject for study than the sciences. She didn't understand either why it was so difficult to desire to learn mathematics along with literature, history and political science. Soon she moved on to another school where she continued her studies with a strange mixture of subjects that everyone, outside the school, found funny: English and Bengali languages and literatures, Nutrition, Computer Science, Mathematics and Economics. 

From then on, English literature, or rather, literature in English, became her specific area of study.  More than a decade has passed since the blogger confronted the anti-humanites-frown.  Unfortunatelym the scenario hasn't changed much. This is the era of technology they say. The arts are for leisure. The sciences are for active living. This compartmentalisation of education has always  appeared to be an unnatural process to the blogger. The blogger has little knowledge yet to advance this opinion by herself. However, in the past few months, the blogger have had the pleasure of reading validated articles, news items, books engaging in this same opinion. And the belief becomes more strong that, in the synthesis of educational subjects, rather than breaking them into small brick houses with tiny windows, lies the natural purpose of education. Education can be the telescope to see space beyond our reach; it can be the room of one's own where many Michaelangelo-s will paint ceaselessly; it can be the philosophy of being blended with the quantum truths of science. 

Addressing this particular urge of the self, to see the link between what the frowning-faces see as opposites, the blogger wishes to begin a new series in this blog devoted to the idea of education and learning. No preachy stuff though :P The blogger wishes to share the insights she is gaining from her reading. Simple. (at least, the blogger will try to keep it simple, that is :P)

a picture of a painting
 Image: a picture of the painting A Man Looking Through a Window by Samuel Van Hoogstraten, displayed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum or, The Museum of Art History in Vienna. by self/ Arijit. 2010.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I signed off with this image in the last post. I tentatively left a rather rhetorical question along :  
What do you see? 

The image is really the memory of the noisy neighbourhood when the roads were being repaired. The usually quiet neighbourhood in this part of Budapest became a crazy chaos. You walk 50 meters to find that the pathway was closed. You turn back retracing your steps, thinking all the while if this loss of a fraction of time would be vital, since the neighbourhood store closes in less than 5 minutes and your refrigerator is empty right now. The continuous sound of the drilling machine in a sultry morning is unbearable at times. I while my time observing the workers and their broad work-space: the entire neighbourhood. And all the others continue their own flights.

This picture was taken on such a day, as a experimental shot using some function in the camera (i forget what). I didn't intend to capture the flight of the bird. As I saw the preview, nothing struck me initially. I saw what I thought I would see : the green makeshift rooms, the dry branches poking out from here and there, a part of the car-parking zone, and that huge yellow truck, blue stripes in its mixing section I guess. And then I saw it - the bird in flight, framed in motion forever! Its eyes are intent. It blends with the wry surroundings because of its colour. And yet, when I looked closely, I saw the perfect spread of its feathers in its tail - the black and white parts spread to look like a half-opened Japanese fan. Its wings were free and yet so aware of itself. It is as if in meditation, aware of all and yet not restless, participating and yet not sucked into the momentum, like a fish in water - always in water and yet, never wet!

With all the commotion in the background, the bird simply flies. As I stumbled upon this image yesterday night, I just had a eureka-ish feeling for the umpteenth time - the picture communicated with the restless kid called the mind. It seemed to say, simply fly, in wind and rain, in sunny days, in grumpy days, in spring and in winter, simply fly. Simplify.

Image: in Budpaest, by self


Walking out in the open

This is not really a comeback of sorts. It is a little walk, out in the rain, when the clouds are thundering above the cityscape of regular life. It is like looking up at the sky as the lightning reveals the sombre surroundings. When the thunder claps and the resulting crooked charged line dash across the landscape, it is terrifying, to say the least. And yet, the landscape revealed in that flash - silhouettes of the buildings, of the trees, of the empty vastness of the sky - mesmerises me. Walking through the thunder, at such times, is a dizzy cocktail of fear and of pleasure.

the woman was studying for her upcoming exams in the room at the roof. the 'chilekotha' was her study-space. she retreated here after all her family duties were attended to. this was her zone of thinking, of being. in the floor beneath the room, her child was perhaps cuddling to its pillow, still warm from the mother's touch. perhaps she looked out of the glass window before she settled into her books. perhaps the beauty of the night that was bringing the storm and the thunder excited her. perhaps she saw the madness of the leaves of the coconut tree, roughed up by the wind. perhaps she was lost in her books when the lightning came, across the skies, landing on the top of the coconut tree, and then blazing through her.

And yet,

the beauty of the charged landscape is thrilling. the wrath of the ancient gods are expressed in such atmosphere in myths. the potency of change lies in this unstable moment. the firmly grounded tree can be uprooted. the dry pool will be filled with the rains that come along the thunder. it is like watching the dance of Nataraja in all its power. it destroys, true, but it is beautiful nonetheless. it is beautiful since the destruction is never a full stop for this strange species called man, who has created a theory attesting the need to pull down the standard structures at times, a theory called deconstruction. a closer look and surprise! 
need to deconstruct=need to construct anew
is this not the same principle of Nataraja deadly dance - Tandava? I ponder...

Beauty often lies in seeing the possibility beyond and beneath the veneer of real perception. It is in realising the potential of change that the perceived situation holds. Before the change happens, you will never know if its to be feared or to be savoured. Why fear change when that is the only thing that has been constant since recorded time?

I now walk in thunder with the all its potentialities etched in my awareness. I recognise that the unwanted and the unknown can affect life. And, yet, none but I will be living it.


In the past two weeks, I waited for the clouds to part in the mind. The more I waited for the sun, the more restless I became. And then, the thought beamed through the mind. The more I wait, the more empty time rushes out from this life. The more I wait, the more my clock ticks. The more I wait, the more moss gathers on this stone on which I have to etch a world of words! 

I nudged the kid out of the bed and showed it the door and it said to me, "Let's go!"      

Before this post ends, I would like to share with you an image I stumbled upon in the pictures folder today...  

... country roads ... away from home ... 

what do you see?

"thunder": image of the sky just before a torrential rain, Budapest. by self.
"what do you see?": break-offs in the mundane, Budapest. by self.

Friday, January 21, 2011

the kid's back!!!

The kid is out of bed! See the whims of the kid blotted across this page TONIGHT!!! YES! It is back backpacking thoughts, right now! :)

Thanks for the lovely patience you showed to the kid! The support, sometimes silent, sometimes verbal, means a lot to the kid. It is more determined to be a kid forever, scrapping this and that, out from under the dusty cupboards that some call life! It is a kid's play henceforth!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Announcing the whims of a kid called the mind

For the last few months I have been regularly conversing with you through this blog. Prior to that it was an introspective zone, a self-reflexive writing of sorts. Then, whether I write a post in a week or in a month did not bother me. But now, since you take time off your busy schedules to peek into this thought zone of mine, I feel it to be my responsibility to communicate with you the current state of affairs, which is the absence of an 'actual' blog post for exactly a week (The last 'actual' post was Learning the elements: Water on last Saturday).

Such days as these are not new. And unfortunately are not few either. On these days, if I had the habit of chewing a pencil while thinking, I would have needed several packets of pencils each  such day. On these days, the mind is in a limbo. It is un-rested, always in a continuous state of agitation. While on the pro-writing days, I step out of bed in the morning with an idea or a thought (an inspiration of sorts, for the entire day); on such black-listed days when no writing happens, I wake up grudging against the need to have morning tea. The inspiration is not only lost, it seems it never was. Even if I do not spell out another word, I guess, you understand what these days are like to me. Frustration oozes out in every sphere. The hopeless realisation at the end of the day that not a worthwhile or a worthless word have been framed during the course of the day! It is disturbing. 

But then, you don't always drive a car in the top gear. I try not to pressurise my mind. It is a playful thing. It is like a kid. May be it is not in the mood of playing now. I will have to wait till it feels good and is ready for the acrobatics of the word-games I play. Till then, dear friends and readers, bear with me. 

I will share with you all the little words and phrases or images that pop-up in books or paintings or in the clouds. That is, if I happen to see them.    

waiting for the light

Image: an unlit lamp, Salzburg castle, Austria. By self.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As I search for words...

... I would like to share with you some thoughts-in-words from Ben Okri's Starbook: A Magical Tale of Love and Regeneration (2007), page 73

"Many are the ways of seeing the future, glimpsing the past. Some stare into crystal balls, into clear waters of prophecy; some read the fall and placement of kola nut lobes in enamel bowls; some read the shapes and direction of the footprint of herons or chickens or rare birds; some read the past in momentary visions had outside time; some use the Bible or other sacred texts; some resort to sorceries and consult wizards that may or may not know the mystery of the stars; some travel in the minds of tortoises to the beginning of the race; some fly to the moon on the back of beams of light; some wander deaf amongst angels; some consult the ancient oracles and ponder the incomprehensible messages from the gods, delivered in verse to the sibyls. Some listen to the prophecies that fall from the mouths of babbling children, or the language of crows, or the accidental words that reach them in marketplaces, or pay too much attention to words said to them by strangers or the insane. Such are the perplexities of the ways of man and woman in a world where the past and future do not speak, and where the present has not fully revealed itself to our partial-seeing eyes. And thus we live our days between knowing and unknowing, blind and deaf in a vast panorama of revelations, a perpetual theatre of timeless events where history is as much the future as the past, an infinite living book in which all things are present. We live in these wonders and do not see." 

If you ask, what these words mean to me, well, it is like seeing the self in the mirror. It is like looking at the self that thinks stupidly of time as a tripartite structure with thick black lines demarcating one from the other. It is like an inner voice that talks about the limitations we create for ourselves to adhere to. It is like a call for living life being awake to our senses. 

front cover of Starbook

I had to severely curtail the temptation of highlighting certain phrases or expressions, since I wanted you to have your own understanding of the words...There are several phrases that stun my mind ... one of them is: "some travel in the minds of tortoises to the beginning of the race". 

Does this extract create any meaning to you? Does a phrase/expression in the extract 'stun' you? Would love to hear your thoughts...