Monday, November 21, 2011

For those


-
For those that are soaked in grime, sweat and blood,
The cause in them does trust, as indeed it must
They are the undaunted shelters, the very bridges to deliverance
Final hopes for a rescue, through forests impassable and dense.
-
Here is the limelight now but they, strange men, seek not its glory
Yes, they, they must practice, practice and write a grand new story
The wise understand their greatness, the fools they look away
Men of honour, men of grit, far beyond what befits a poem to say.
-
[Some well-intentioned but mildly corny lines written around Rahul Dravid's retirement from ODI cricket. Batsman extraordinaire, team-man exemplary and a gentleman unlike any other, he has been a true inspiration in every sphere of life and a tour-de-force for Indian cricket.
-
Incidentally also my 400th blog post. Many thanks to the 50 readers still subscribed to my blog. It took a lot longer for me to get to this 400th post than I had expected. It is my laziness that robs me of the will-power to type out my thoughts but it is also my laziness that defines my thoughts. Forgive me for this paradoxical flaw. I promise to do better.]
-

Will it, won't it?


-
As a dog owner walking my dog down the streets of my hometown in India, there is one irritating question that gets thrown at me with alarming frequency. My dog is a tiny dog, a miniature dachshund, at a height of maybe 8 inches off the ground and a long tubular body. That's her in the picture above with her "Won't you please take me to the garden downstairs?" look. Many people assume her to be a puppy while she is almost 4 years old (28 in dog years) and has already long reached her full size, such are the dimensions of her breed.
-
Now if she were an Alsatian or a Rottweiler, a casual observer wouldn't have been tempted, but given her minute size, folks are overcome by an intense desire to pet her. With their hands waving gingerly above my little dog's head, they will ask me "Kaategaa toh nahin?" [It won't bite, will it?] BTW in case you didn't know, beware of touching the head of any dog you are unfamiliar with, as an introduction. The dog won't like it or allow it. Kids asking this is OK and understandable but when adults act so juvenile, it really gets my goat.
-
It is very difficult to explain to someone who hasn't been around dogs at some point in their lives that dogs are not purpose built mean biting machines and that they do not randomly sink their teeth into someone just because they feel like it. A human being is much more likely to bite without provocation than is a dog. On days when I am feeling nice, I say "No! No! Why would she?" Other times, I am tempted, really tempted to say with a smirk "Kaategaa toh kaategaa. Mujhe bolkey thodi naa kaategaa!" [If it wants to bite, it will. It won't ask me beforehand, will it?]
-

Stamped


-
In the ultimate tribute to the importance and influence that spending 4 years in a hostel 1500 kilometres away from home while at engineering school has had on me, someone who had known me for only about half an hour at that point and also was aware of the fact that I had graduated from REC Kurukshetra asked "So you grew up in Haryana, right?" 
-
18 years of preceding experiences and conditioning, of being born in Calcutta, being schooled in Gujarat, it seems are now all moulded beneath that permanent Kurukshetra B. Tech Mechanical outer shell. \m/ Regional Engineering College, Kurukshetra \m/... \m/ Mechanical Engineering \m/ 
-

Susegad


-
I remember when I was 16. Class 10 it was and seniors & well wishers were firm in their advice. This is a very important stage in your life, they said, work hard now and then you can take it easy for the rest of your life. Strangely enough, they would repeat the advice when I got to Class 12. And then again when engineering college began. By the time, they began speak in similar analogies of the necessity of an MBA degree, of it being 'that' magic pill, I bailed out. Enough's enough. I had seen through their ruse. There was never going to be such a time, the so-called golden phase when everything was a joy ride. I just wish that they had told me the bitter truth about careers, ambition and satisfaction (or the improbability of that idea) up front. I would have set my expectations from life a dozen notches lower.
-
I was 26 when I got to Goa. Off-season Goa. Not Goa of the night-clubs and rave parties. Goa of leisurely motorcycle cruising through bright post-monsoon greenery and half open beach shacks not fully stocked up for the crush of the upcoming 'season'. Goa of abandoned leaf overgrown forts and guitar strums surfing the sea breeze in nearly empty restaurants. Goa of cheerfully painted houses and early morning walks on the beach sand watching the fishing boats already on the horizon doing their daily quota of work before the inevitable crowds came a-calling (even if it was the off season). Goa of flickering candle light karaoke and eye pleasing co-diners that re-affirmed the fact that when it comes to beauty, what matters is quality not quantity.
-
It was always there, not on some remote South Pacific island, but only a few hours drive from our very own beloved Bombay. It was there, not in some degree from an elite institution, never in some mega salary job in some mega financial institution and not in that futile race of which everyone is a condemned participant. It was there as I sat in the company of friends watching the sun go down to the symphony of the Arabian Sea. It was there as I laughed partly at the conversation and partly because I had finally found it. Susegad. The Life Easy.
-

'Paagal' panda


I have a new favourite animal. It does not possess the fearsome glory of a stalking tiger, the sheer stage presence of an elephant or the calm, powerful gaze of a resting lion. If anything, it has a stuffed toy like cuddliness but its steadfast refusal to behave in tune with that perceived image is what makes me its fan.
-
New York's Central Park Zoo on a cheerful mid November Sunday afternoon is awash with the colours of fall. Kids and their parents are out here in full force to make the most of this good weather. One particular enclosure is drawing a lot more attention than the others. Everyone's rushing in to catch a glimpse of Biru, the 1 year old red panda who has just moved into New York City from his Himalayan abode in Nepal.
-
The red panda is an animal that might be familiar to most Indian TV audiences of my age group as the furry red companion to Mowgli in the Hindi dubbed version of the animated series "Jungle Book Sh┼Źnen Mowgli" which had achieved cult status back in the days when DD-1 was the only channel on air in India. Sunday mornings were dedicated to Mowgli and his life in the jungle by millions of kids around the country. And to call the real animal cartoonish. in proportions and colours, would not be too far from the truth.
-
The lush red fur enveloping his body, the black fur on his feet like he had socks on, the bushy red tail and the teddy bear like face made him look like those simplified friendly animals that are drawn in books for toddlers yet this was actually how nature had designed him. The female component of his human audience couldn't stop "ooh"ing and "aah"ing, going on with their "How sweet!", "How cute!", "I want one!" before saying "Got to get his picture!" and whipping out their point-and-shoots or DSLRs as the case may be.
-
This was where the problem lay. Biru had a female companion Amaya who was feasting on leaves in a far corner of the enclosure facing away from all the visitors. So it was left to Biru to be the sole model and ambassador for how beautiful an animal a red panda was. Except... that he wasn't much of a poser. Restless soul that he was, walking all the way around his reasonably sized enclosure clambering up a tree in front of the dozen or so cameras pointed towards him and clambering down it but the randomness of his movements made him every cameraman's nightmare. All the while, while he pranced about right in front of our noses.
-
Here a tail, there a leg, here a blurred face, there a really sharp picture of some green leaves - as I looked into the image review screens of the other digital cameras around me, I realized that I wasn't alone in my failure. Biru ran, Biru jumped, Biru spun, Biru looked - but never for more than half a microsecond. Every passing minute, I heard people mutter to the tune of "Come on! Hold it! Get me a good picture." but if Biru understood human talk, he was playing dumb. Every flash or camera beep, would invariably be followed by a groan. No, not this time. Nope, not this time too.
-
I had to return to the red panda enclosure thrice to be able to get the handful of decent pictures that I eventually captured and I watched wave after wave of grumpy disappointed shutter-bugs call this impossible task off, walking away with a slightly less rosy view of the 'cuteness' factor of the red panda. I love zoos because of my life-long reading and Discovery/NGC fuelled animal world fascination. This was one occasion where watching the humans outside the cage was even more fun than the animal itself.
-
-

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Over-smart?

I have a smart phone, an Android one. For the past two times that I have charged it, when it reaches its fully charged state, it emits a polyphonic strum sound and then it activates the in-built music player. The song it's playing? A number from a Bollywood movie "Break Ke Baad" named... "Dooriyan bhi hai zaroori" [A song essentially about the importance of personal spaces and time away from each other in any relationship]. Now I am for all the use of Artificial Intelligence in the right avenues but a phone telling me that it needs to get away from its charger in so artistic a manner... what do you call that?
-
[http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com/2011/11/over-smart.html]

The Doors


-
Of life and love and lust they spoke,
In mystic music 'n' poetic streams,
Fear and hurt found their niche,
Framing magic melodic dreams
-
The question still stands open then
What to make of fate's crazy mores?
No answer for that one yet,
No one knows for sure
Me? I am just happy...
I got to see The Doors!
-
(Wednesday, 2nd November 2011, Lupos Heartbreak Hotel, Providence RI:

It'd be a joke to say that I had always wanted to experience this. I loved the music of The Doors but heck, Jim Morrison was already dead by 1971, 13 years before I was even born. The 1960s and 1970s may have been a great time to be around but I personally am extremely happy to have been born in the 1980s, to have appreciated the world before the advent of Internet & Facebook and also be young enough to appreciate the world after. One hell of a lucky generation we are to have been born on the cusp of such a revolutionary technological leap. So this was out of the blue, an accidentally heard old-school radio advert of the surviving Doors men getting together to work their spell in a small but completely packed B-status performance arena, notably below par as compared to their glory days, and only 20 miles from where I was. It was, to use that nauseatingly overused but in this case perfectly applicable word, 'surreal'! This was a dream that I hadn't even dreamed of!)
-