Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bombay in the Rains

It is raining in Bombay again.

Finally. The miserable heat is over. The hill right behind my office building is awash with verdant life; ballooning clouds of mist intermingling with cigarette smoke. A languorous stupor slowly envelopes me. I feel more reluctant than usual to go back to work.

I am obviously not alone.

... Since everyone's lingering over their coffees and cigarettes.
... Since contentment tempers the mood all around me.
... Since too many eyes stray window-wards.

I feel quite like this image. At home in the rain. Longing for a cup of soup, my bed and a good or favourite book. Some Astrude Giberto and The Girl from Ipanema playing gently in the background. At peace with my world.

I wrote this impression of the rains a few weeks ago. I am still not sure why I didn't post it right away. Much has changed since.

... Since, a thousand mm of rain has fallen in Bombay- in a single day.
… Since, years of life have been swept away.
… Since, 768 people have died in Maharashtra.
... Since, the phrase "Nature's Fury" has taken on new dimensions.
... Since, I've learned callousness annoys me as much as dishonesty and is every bit as distasteful.
… Since, for the first time in living memory, I've felt daunted in Bombay.
... Since, too much has happened to still fully comprehend.

For me, the verdant lushness of the first photo will forever be Bombay in the rains. The second, however, is to remind me of the here and right now. To remind me of the helplessness of the 26th of July, 2005 and yet to also remind me of this city's strength, indefatigble spirit and the sheer will to survive.

Forgive the sentimental, trite ranting. Us Bombayites and our city went through quite a right mess this week. We emerged scared and yet awestruck by both our resilience.

Bombay , illic est haud alius similis vos. Ego tutus vos.

To give credit where it is due, neither photograph is mine. I have made use of someone else's images this time. Unfortunately, since they came in forwards, I don't know to whom they specifically belong. Accept both my apologies and my gratitude.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Marine Drive at Sunset

A glorious sunset at Marine Drive, on the way back from the British Library.

This guy was sitting there, silhouetted against the sky and the Drive itself, looking at this bird gliding past. I don't know if he wanted to be that bird, but I did think he was staring at it mighty wistfully, pensively... wishfully perhaps?

This one I'd like to be a little corny and call it "Strangers in the Sunset." Neither one has the faintest awareness of the other. Incredible, isn't it?

Bombay's beautiful, no?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Song in the Miscellany

This song spoke to me... mayhap it will speak to you too.

Somebody's Crying - Chris Isaak

I know somebody and they cry for you.
They lie awake at night and dream of you.
I bet you never even know they do but somebody's crying.

I know somebody and they called your name.
A million times and still you never came.
They go on loving you just the same.
I know that somebody's trying.

So please return the love you took from me.
Or please let me know if it can't be me. I know when
Somebody's lying, I know when somebody's lying.

I know that somebody's lying, I know that somebody's lying.

Give me a sign and let me know we're through.
If you don't love me like I love you.
But if you cry at night the way I do, I'll know that somebody's lying.

So please, return the love you took from me.
Or please, let me know if it can't be me.
I know when somebody's lying, I know when somebody's lying.

Of Closure

A miscellany of ideas, circumstance and a song brings me to this question: when a relationship ceases, where does the responsibility of “closure” lie?

It is a little like happiness, I think. No one can make you happy; it is something you choose to be. Indeed, closure is a choice one must make - to be happy, to be whole. And most importantly, it is the choice to be fair. If someone wants to be let go of, it is only fair to respect the decision.

...Only fair not to make them feel like scum of the universe for wanting another path.
...Only fair to love someone enough to want joy for them, even when it is not you.
...Only fair to know that pain is your business and yours alone.
...Only fair to accept pain as you did rapture.

Mind, these are not difficult things to do.

The conundrum is the one time when you can't practice what you preach from every available soapbox.

...The one time when you are torn between what is right and what you thirst for.
...The one time when you don't want to let go... when you can't let go?

What do you do then?

If holding onto the past is such a foolish endeavour... why do I cling so desperately?

Friday, July 15, 2005


I am finally getting off my lazy posterior and getting down to waxing eloquent about the books I love most! Thank you, Sprechen, for tagging me.

Books I own

That's something I cannot quite put a finger on but it's quite a few. And the numbers only keep growing since there is a bookstore in my office building. Woe is my salary!

Now Reading

Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges
I heard the name when I was 18 and got around to reading him only at 22. Recoleta Cemetary (among the poems), The Garden of Forking Paths, and Ulrikke (among other prose) have had the most profound effect on my - forgive the drama - soul. He's probably the only writer who can put a classical poet, a Hollywood actress and a third unrelated thing in the same sentence and make a coherent connection. This is part of a three volume set of his fictions, non-fictions and poetry.

Dragon Rider - Cornelia Funke
A German author, I think she writes believeable and relevant literature for children today. This one is about dragons looking for a place of their own in an increasingly urban and instrusive human world. The tale is a quest to find the Dragon Home, the Rim of Heaven. Along the way, a brownie, a human child, other fantastic creatures and a monstrous villain make for a good, fun read.
p.s. Check out Thief Lord by her - quite a decent book.

Finished reading end-to-end

I've managed to get a fair bit of reading done and asking me to choose is asking me to walk slowly into madness. These are among the most influential books I've read in my life. I could not put any one of them down - even to breathe.

The Lord of the Rings - John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
This is a book I have not stopped reading since the day it was gifted to me. Nearly five years down the line, I still pick it up for a few minutes every day. I think you could call it my security blanket. Five years and a lot more fantasy (especially more Tolkien) down the line and I am still entranced by the sheer width, breath, and depth of the man's vision. He did over 30-40 odd years what takes humanity and society, millenia to do. To be able to speak with him but once!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
I came across Kundera when I was 18 (Ok, so I spent more time at Crossword Mahalaxmi than at college!) and like Sprechen, I thought he was extremely enlightened Indian writer - Marwari at that! Until I read the flurb at the back. I remember putting it down very reluctantly because the price was out of the atmosphere. Picked it up again when I was 21 and glad for it because I would not have been able to appreciate it at 18. Tomas, Teresa, Sabina and Kundera changed my view of life, memory, intimacy, sex, country, marriage, freedom, power equations... need I go on? A must, I think, for "anyone whose goal is something higher."

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Oh, but how he made me laugh! Perhaps my only "favourite author" (I use this loosely - too many qualify for it) who passed away in my lifetime and I felt the pain. Adams was a cherished fellow-wayfarer throughout my MA - he slept next to my pillow. From stowing away on a spacecraft, mad Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect, and Arthur Dent to exploding universes, the dolphins and floopy mattreses, there are too many journeys shared and too much wisdom imparted for me to sum it in one paragraph.

1984 - George Orwell
I didn't sleep for a few nights after I finished reading 1984. I came across it in my undergraduation and decided, some day, I would own the collected works of George Orwell. Nothing he writes is ever mediocre or bad. This one redefined my ways of thinking and believing about government, freedom and most importantly, about writing, communication and the simpler pleasures of this slightly flawed life. Such beauty, such simplicity and such depth! I'd recommend Orwell without reservation!

Books I can't stop recommending

The Earthsea series - Ursula K Le Guin
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
The Salmon of Doubt - Douglas Adams
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
Our Ancestors - Italo Calvino
I sat by Grand Central Station and Wept - Elizabeth Smart
End of the Affair - Graham Greene
Book of Sand - Jorge Luis Borges
Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair - Pablo Neruda
The Trial - Franz Kafka
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
Shadowlines - Amitav Ghosh
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
Red Earth and Pouring Rain - Vikram Chandra
Macbeth - Shakespeare
Eragon - Christopher Paolini
Songs of Innocence and Experience - William Blake
Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media - Noam Chomsky
Under a Glass Bell - Anais Nin
As I Walked out One Evening - W.H Auden (light verse)
Ernest Hemingway's short stories
Philip Larkin's poetry
W.H Auden's poetry

John Donne's poetry - all of it.
Robert Herrick's poetry
Indian Writing in languages other than English!

This list has gone on too long, ergo, I will stop here! Will take this up in another post.

Books I advise no one to touch

Getting There - Manjula Padmanabhan
This, you will live to regret!

The Impressionist - Hari Kunzru
He got some obscene £2 million advance for this! Some people get paid for being alive.

Books that I quit midway because I could not read further

The House of Blue Mangoes - David Davidar
A good story, not the slightest trace of a style.

A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
The less said, the better.

The Idiot - Fydor Dostoevsky
Somehow, I could not develop any sort of liking for any one of the people in this book. I promise you, I tried!

Odd pieces of Literature I have come across

A Fairytale of New York - J P Donleavy
This one was odd in a very nice way. Wickedly funny and brilliant in both style and language.

The Story of O - Part II - Pauline Reage
The preface didn't make any sense nor did the rest of the tale especially since The Story of O is a reasonable good book.

These are the only two "odd" books I can consciously recall. Not liking a book doesn't make it odd and (Majesty, this one is for you!) I am "postmodern" enough to admit oddness into my sphere of existence and thinking! :-)

Last Book that Made Me Cry

Summer of My German Soldier - Bette Greene
I read this when I was 12 and cried my heart out. It's what you could call a teenage love story - a Jewish girl aiding and abetting a Nazi in small-town America. I read it again recently and it's truly a marvellous book - powerful, intense, and well-written.


The Complete Works of Pablo Neruda
The Illustrated William Blake
Poets of the 20th Century
Eldest - Christopher Paolini
Tin Drum - Gunter Grass
The Brothers Karmazov - Fydor Dostoevsky
Babel Tower - A. S Byatt
Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler (For simply the title!)

Waiting to Read

Ulysses - James Joyce
Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
Picture This - Joseph Heller
(And I live in the prayer of understanding them this time around!)
Soul Mountain - Gao Xingjian

I am going to stop here. If you are reading this, I must thank you for the patience and fortitude you have exhibited while I ranted.

Who do I tag?

Words Worth

I look forward to them being less lazy than I.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Points to Ponder in Kolhapur

This weekend past I spent in Kolhapur, on the Shivaji University campus. Had gone to visit a friend's home, to take a break and ended up reinforcing/learning a lot of things.

1. Buying a Nikon F75 would not be a waste of money. (Sing "Hallelujah!")
2. Maharashtra is a great deal more awesome than I thought it was.
3. Beauty in Nature has a way of accentuating both yearning and fragmentation... in the soul.
4. It is possible for a person to go lower than your implausibly low expectations of them.
5. Selfishness and graceless-ness usually go together.
6. In the next one year, I want to go on a trek - don't know where yet but will figure it out!
7. In the next one year, I also want to go the North East of India and to Rajasthan.
St Bernards are among the most affectionate creatures put on this Earth.
9. Contrary to my belief and continual surprise, honour, integrity and grace are not default human programming.
10. There is NO better "upper" than your soul sister smiling across a room at you, knowing exactly what has freewheeled through your mind.

This list is far from complete but contains the main part of what I experienced over these two days.

Douglas Adams loved to say, "You live and learn. At any rate, you live."
I believe this works for me too.

These are some of the images that I captured over two days in Kolhapur. They are of a river called Panchganga in Kolhapur and a submerged temple and other structures in the river.

Friday, July 08, 2005

For the Reviewer

This post is, in a "cosmic sense", related to On Marriage. It was born of my reviewer's request and since he is my immediate boss at work, I do hope it pleases him.

I am in the terrible habit of drafting and doing what I hope is "crafting" for every post I put up. (Yeah, this one's been on the drawing board awhile and I am still not convinced it is any good at all!)

Well, one rainy evening at work, I was plodding along, working on
On Marriage, desperately attempting coherence and most importantly, a point. Now, being a writer habituated to machines that die without warning, while typing out the post, I hit CTRL+S as I usually do while writing.

On Blogspot, that's a bad idea. As we all know (or at least should know!), hitting CTRL+S will publish your draft. Put it up on Web. As it were, make it public property.

Can you see it in your head? One minute I was typing, swearing at the monitor, business as usual; the next, I was on my feet, staring at the screen, traumatized. Next thing, I ran to the reviewer's desk to wail about my championship.

Accustomed as he is to my explosions, rantings, raving and downright lunacy, his classic reaction was perhaps what reassured me most. All he said was "What a jhaatiya!You have to post something about this jhaatu-giri!"

All would sleep well in my conveniently and queerly techno-phobic world. With my thanks, my dear reviewer, accept this post.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

An Addendum to On Marriage

I excavated this poem, from a time long forgotten, after I put up my last post. I wrote it at nineteen... when I was thinking similarly.

This is for you.

The memory of whom...
Is the lucidly landscaped whisper of a dream.
The presence of whom...
Is the sound of a child's laughter.
The reality of whom...
Is a negative.

Who are you?