The Analog Alternative...

Stop the world... let me off !

My Photo
Location: Bangalore, India

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Temple Tryst

And, I am back! There is already a massive heap of thoughts and feelings that I wish to jot down here. Although for today, that one-special-day-at-home takes priority.

Early this year, I was with my parents, and thanks to the situation at work then, I could spend one full week relaxing at home. No mailbox, no internet, no code.

It was a Sunday morning - after having slept for over ten hours, and still unwilling to get out of my cozy territory, I was awake, listening to the familiar chirp of sparrows outside my window, hearing the sound of water being sprinkled at the lawn, I was waiting for papa to begin loosing temper trying to wake me up, scream at me, and eventually start blaming mom for having spoilt me.
I just love the scene. It happens all over, each Sunday.
I was smiling, as I slyly slid out of the blanket.

We are going to the temple today”, mom announced. I wasn’t interested in going at first, and only agreed because I could see it meant a lot to her.
So there I was - neat and tidy, all set to carry out the morning pooja at “Dadavadi” (a variant of Jain temples). The place is on a riverbank, over a raised piece of land offering a just perfect view of this relatively silent river. As we entered, and I filled my lungs with a large gulp of fresh air, climbing those beautiful stairs veiled with flowers on both sides, I could sense what I miss by not being able to come here often.
I knelt before the idol and placed my forehead on the floor, feeling my back arch into a perfect curve of earnestness. I rung the brass bell and even felt the smallest resonation in my feet.

Pujaariji (the priest) wore a dull white kurta with dhoti. I wondered why he was always so happy. It was already about 30 degrees outside and he wasn’t getting paid - but he rushed around the place making sure all the rituals and formalities of pooja are well done, and also he sang along heartily with us. There were few other folks contributing to the proceedings. None knew each other, yet mutual smiles were in the air. All of us sang the “aarti” together, some reciting it out from those huge wall hangings, others just uttering with closed eyes. The tone was captivating.
For a while in the middle, I stopped singing, opened my eyes and looked around. Each soul had disowned all worries of the world, surrendered to the supreme, and for that moment, seen God. I respected the feeling of unconditional acceptance, admired people’s compassion to their fellow human beings, but most of all I enjoyed feeling like I was part of something greater than me, entirely human and inherently flawed, like one big ratty blanket that encompassed everything that was.

That day, I had embraced society a little more, and contrary to what I had expected, it did not diminish me as a person at all. Everyday I encounter some new truth about the world that makes it necessary to completely re-evaluate my beliefs. It is painful at times, but most enlightening.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Discontent Butterfly

These days I am a constant hauler of monotony, frustration. I cannot speak, walk or even laugh without boring someone, turning stale, withering away in a trail of clichéd desperation, or performing my favorite art – I (we) call it cribbing. Ah art it is!

The familiarity of conscious despair is often back, but the dryness of my throat has lost all meaning. By itself the constant intonation of this world has not served to elevate me to any glorified pedestal of absolution. As I think about my problems more, and how little I have grown in the past few years, I feel indefinitely disgusted, rejected by myself.

I look at myself in this mirror of gross introspection and see a pathetic little caterpillar deluding itself into thinking melodrama and anguish more and more. This will transform it into a pretty but scared and discontent butterfly. Observe - I cannot even ridicule myself without resorting to hackneyed metaphors!

Platitudes, platitudes all of them. I fool myself into thinking I am anxious about my future, miserable about the way I live. I'm so good at lying to myself I have perfected the art of excuse, forgiving mortal sins against myself without the flinch of a stomach muscle, deliberately sabotaging some of the (potentially) better negotiations in my life.

Am I really that hopelessly self-destructive, or do I just like the attention? I do not know.
It feels as if the desert wind has already sucked my life clean of energy, passion and even dreams.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Perfect Strangers

A stranger, she looked as if my soul was clear to her, my deepest feelings lay bare in front of her and she could control the most subtle of my behaviors.

“Tanya”! I called… and the rest of the words refused to emerge.

It’s almost over four months. I waved her ‘bye-bye’ at the Mumbai airport, having spent few of the most precious hours of my life – amidst an unfortunate and adverse episode though. (Not worth mentioning here).

All appears just like yesterday to me… her intriguing eyes seem innocent, yet notice my relentless stare. In the effort of ignoring the gaze, she laughs at my face; I just smile in return, dismissing the awkwardness. After a few hours of insipid and wishy-washy talks, while everyone is busy cursing Lfthnsa and their inhumane way of operations, my eyes are asking questions. Hers are answering. Hundreds of crazy souls surround us; still it looks as if these moments belong to me. More often than not, those who see us together ask - ‘you-guys’r-married?’ Intermittent discomfiture shows on her face, I get keyed up, but mask the excitement with a wary chuckle… “No no!”

‘You aren’t married, right?’… I ask.

“Nah” she giggles and continues… “It’s on the cards though”. And then follows a description. I too divulge the piece about seeing someone currently. I maintain my composure… somehow.

Later, in the flight as we approach our damned destination, sitting next to her, my heart starts to sink. I am poignant; strongly feel like kicking someone… hard. Huh!

Suddenly, there are tremors, without any warning or alarm. Initially, everyone is calm presuming ‘yet-another-bad-weather-day’. But, it is different. The craft starts to bounce as if it had hit a mountain. We are almost upside down. The next two minutes or so are breathtaking. The bravest close their eyes, atheists start to pray, and strangers hold hands.

I hope it was “The End”, but reality continues to wreck my life. More and even more!


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Patriotism... huh

No more "Twinkle Twinkle" in MP schools!

Apparently, the famous "twinkle twinkle" rhyme has been removed from the primary school syllabus of Madhya Pradesh.
I have only one thing to say to this: how utterly ridiculous !
Not only is it preposterous to remove something that is no longer "western" but indeed an international rhyme from the school syllabus - it is also stupid to assume that anything not written/sung/spoken in the national/local language is a danger to our society and its values - is our great culture so weak that it cannot withstand the challenge of a mere rhyme?

This falls in line with the new wave of nationalism that is overtaking the decisions of the Indian government - exemplified by the numerous changes to city names. Apart from the fact that it has been pointless (for example, no true Bangalorean will ever refer to home as Bangaluru...), it is also imprudent and regressive. So the British came up with these names. What of it? Are we trying to deny the occupation of India for 300 years? Are we trying to rewrite, erase or simply ignore history?

Patriotism is all very well, and I urge the government to introduce more rhymes and literature in Indian languages to instil a sense of national pride in students - but surely this should be accompanied by the teaching of English rhymes and literature, not at its expense. India has such a strong competitive advantage in its talented english-speaking workforce - surely we do not want to undo a process of assimilation that has brought us so much success?

Globalisation is here my friends, whether we like it or not. In a world that is fast losing its frontiers - it is foolish and counter-productive to be erecting walls against the rest of the world. Everybody's on the express route to development and wealth - so why is this carriage moving the other way?


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fortunate Accidents

Sheer “serendipity” it was, that I stumbled upon these arguable and linked musings.
Needless to mention, which one I concur with… actually with both of them, in one way or the other.
They defy each other, yet the essence is so beautiful and captivating.

Think about the library. Do people browse anymore? We can target what we want, thanks to the Internet. Put a couple of key words into a search engine and you find - with an irritating hit or miss here and there - exactly what you're looking for. It's efficient, but dull. You miss the time-consuming but enriching act of looking through shelves, of pulling down a book because the title interests you, or the binding. Inside, the book might be a loser, a waste of the effort and calories it took to remove it from its place and then return. Or it might be a dark chest of wonders, a life-changing first step into another world, something to lead your life down a path you didn't know was there…
Technology undercuts serendipity. It makes it possible to direct our energies all in the name of saving time. Ironically, though, it seems that we are losing time - the meaningful time we once used to indulge ourselves in the related pleasures of search and discovery. We're efficient, but empty.” - William McKeen
Thanks to the connective nature of hypertext, and the blogosphere's exploratory hunger for finding new stuff, the web is the greatest serendipity engine in the history of culture. It is far, far easier to sit down in front of your browser and stumble across something completely brilliant but surprising than it is walking through a library looking at the spines of books…
Serendipity is not randomness, not noise. It's stumbling across something accidentally that is nonetheless of interest to you. The web is much better at capturing that mix of surprise and relevance than book stacks or print encyclopedias.” - Steve Johnson

Despite of being a curmudgeon gainsayer of all beliefs in *supernatural*, *unexplained* and “Cannot-be-seen” phenomena, I have always believed in destiny.
I hope spirituality was lesser allied to devoutness. They are two different philosophies but are often tied up together.

In my opinion, ‘serendipity’ is bound to happen (or is bound not to). Doesn’t matter whether you are shuffling pages and pulling books in a library, or you are googling keywords and clicking hyperlinks. Probabilities might vary with circumstantial, environmental and local forces, and I strongly believe that with the increasing amount of available data, and the rate at which various forms of communities are blowing up within the www, stat-graphs are pointing in the right direction. Nonetheless, fortunate accidents are never likely or unlikely; they are just accidental, by design.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

When going gets tough...

The tough gets going.
Enough of it...huh

"Sachin Tendulkar" – People call him 'the best in business', 'living legend of the cricketing world', 'bigger than the game itself', etc…
Global media has not spared any possible adulatory figure-of-speech trying to describe him over the last one and a half decade. Match after match, series after series, and year after year - this man kept defining standards and continued exceeding them. In a sporting world of swollen egos, pouting stars, silly belligerence on the field, artless sledging, he has never undignified the adulation he has been given.

It has never been easy to equate Tendulkar's cricket with his age. Such was his brilliance in 1992 that it was easy to forget that he was only 18 then. Now, when he is 30+, marveling at the achievements of a man so young, and speculating about the number of years he has still left, we often overlook his cricket age.

It was March 3rd, stuck at the Frankfurt airport, I was flipping through the pages of a British newspaper, and suddenly the sports page flashed: "Panesar proves star turn on his debut". I wondered, why was Hoggard not mentioned for claiming majority of wickets and this sardar is being talked about. Then, as I went on reading, I realized it was more a description of how heavily prized a scalp was Mr. Sachin for any debutant, than a match report. It read -

"Suddenly, the novice was no longer one. Panesar is shy and reserved by nature, but for a few joyous seconds — those priceless few moments in time after sporting nirvana has been touched — his inhibitions were cast off. He leapt and danced, not quite sure what to do or say, but one thing that he did know was that he had arrived".

Panesar had claimed Sachin, his own hero. The delight of this newbie, and implicated fuss in the media reflect the greatness and respect that Tendulkar enjoys worldwide.

Roger Federer remarked recently that despite the apparent ease, with which he dominates, often tennis is hard work for him and he must labor.
For Tendulkar, it was the same, so fluently did he play once that we did not see nor appreciate his struggle, his singular focus of mind, which ensured that bad days or good, he found a way to produce his best for India.
Now his struggles are more evident, and yet there is a particular pleasure in watching Tendulkar past his prime, it is moving yet instructive to watch a champion return from injury and grapple with his game, propelled by a desperate, undying belief that even now, so many years later, he is still, dammit, good enough.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Frozen Thoughts

It was cold. I got down at the airport and looked around for someone who should be waiting for me. Moments later, I was in the front seat of the beautiful black Benz, envying the driver and admiring the milieu. We were dashing at 140 kmph, when suddenly a motorbike went past, at seemingly double the velocity, and from the left lane.

I had arrived in Germany.

Since that day and till today, I am full of impressions. Coming out from India, I have touched as many as four other countries so far in this trip. All of them quite di
fferent and interesting in their own way! Italy, Vatican City, France and Germany. My later posts will bear account for each of those sprees.

These days, with the strange incessant sentiment of missing India, for the first time in my life, I am undergoing an unremitting mood of home-sickness. I have never missed my parents as much as this.

In the bed, cuddling with the softest pillow ever made and trying to introspect, I couldn’t help but question my own beliefs. Beliefs that seek rationality in every existence, science in every emotion, logic in every perception. And I had no answer. That night, I slept with fear and uncertainty. Ambiguity prevailed around my thoughts. There was certain haziness which denied making way for my comfort.

“Every thing is much superior here. Neat, shipshape, and organized. There is no disorder. This is exactly what I sought. Then why do I feel the urge to return back? Why am I craving to restore the regular chaos around me? Why am I not happy?” I am still hunting for the answers.