Thursday, February 14, 2008


look closer
what do i see?
a strand of hair
across the cheek.
a freckle
indistinct and blurred
she's not all abstract perfection.
she's real.
a lash of the eye
i'm making a wish.
we are one
we know no boundaries
close, so close.
her face is mine too.
a blink of her eye
is no longer a blink-and-miss event
she is beauty.

how to describe this moment
WHY to describe this One Moment?

i wish this never ends
i wish this one moment
becomes a lifetime
of lying so close
we can't tell each other apart.

a strange fragrance.
the smell of tireless exhaustion
the smell of something sensously dirty
two haywire tongues
attacking damp chins
a wet cheek here
a bit lower lip there
i can almost smell her dirty thoughts

what is happening?
look a little closer
stick to her
suggestions of aggression
i never want them to end

inside each others' mouths
a feeling unfelt before
touching each other
in the most invisible of spaces

and pause.

look at her.
eyes out of focus
close, so close.
try to sharpen my view
i want to understand
but the sheer beauty of it all
evades me.
divine surreal and magical
that's you.

and i'm the one
so close to you
all over you
inside you
i'd like to say 'thanks'
but your lips hold down mine
as if to say, 'don't...'

blurred indistinct unfocused
close enough to dissolve our separateness
can i keep lying here all my life?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Maximum Bollywood

Suketu Mehta in his breathtakingly brilliant book ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’ describes Bollywood in one of the most beautiful and, I think, truthful ways I’ve read it being described. How ironic to realise that it probably would only take an outsider to consider Bollywood in this objective, analytical way! Another reason that this passage appeals to me is that I’m a great fan of gangster/crime/noir movies, and I always wondered where my taste in such subversive, transgressive characters and plots came from. Mehta says:

“Gangsters and whores all over the world have always been fascinated by the movies and vice versa; the movies are fundamentally transgressive. They are our eye into the forbidden. Most people will never see a human being murder another human being, except on the screen. Most people will never see a human being have sex with another human being, except on the screen. Cinema is an outlaw medium, our flashlight into the darkest part of ourselves. For the criminals and prostitutes who live these outlaw lives, the movies are close to realistic; they are for Monalisa (the bar girl) and the hitman Mohsin what a Cheever story might be for a businessman living in Westchester: a sympathetic depiction, only slightly exaggerated, of his work and life.”

And his personal comments on how the filmmakers themselves are shaped by the demands of their work:

“Whether they’re making art films or masala films solidly in the mainstream, the people in the movie industry are all the same: big dreamers. In India, their dreams have to be bigger than everybody else’s. In India, they’re making collective dreams; when they go to sleep at night they have to dream for a billion people. This distorts their personalities. It also accounts for their egos: the demands of scale. The Bombay movie-makers are afflicted by megalomania.”
Another important observation he makes, apparently one that he made while working with director Vidhu Vinod Chopra, is something he “gradually find out about Bollywood: The people working in it are far smarter than the product they turn out.” This is one fundamental truth about the industry that bothers me to no extent. Chopra adds his own touch to the argument.

“I’m constantly saddled with a viewer who’s cinema-illiterate. It’s like trying to talk Shakespeare with Khem Bahadur [Chopra’s Nepali cook]. My fear is that through constant simplication and trying to talk Shakespeare with Khem Bahadur, I’ve lost the ability to discuss Shakespeare with people who know Shakespeare... We’re dwarfing our intellectual selves in order to make films for a Hindi film audience.”
This was ten years ago. The situation seems to be worse now. I don’t like the sound of this whole thing.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

God, Atheism, Life, the Universe and Everything

What's the height of laziness? Okay, another one: what's the best solution to blogwriter's block? Answer: Recycle stuff. Better your own than someone else's. This post is lifted from an email conversation about God, Atheism, Life, the Universe and Everything that we had: my friend Ajinkya (whom I consider one of the smartest people I'm personally acquainted with) , his other scientist friends (for whom he vouches in a similar manner), and me ([no vouching business]).

The following rant is, of course, what I posted in that conversation. It's something I've been meaning to blog about in a long time. But now that it's out there i.e., in the realm of written language, thanks to the email, I find it needless to rewrite. Much rather paste the damn thing and get it over with. (Yes, no matter how much I love writing, that's how I feel about it most of the time.)

Forgive the absence of correct punctuation.

"it's very interesting that Godel's incompleteness theorem was mentioned...although i know neither head nor tail of it, i found a strange similarity in the statement of that theorem to one of the implications of postmodern thought: if you assert that the age of grand narratives or eternal truths are over, the assertion itself canbe seen as a grand narrative/eternal truth of our times, and is problematic. basically i find the so-called arrogance equally in both asserting 'there IS a god' and 'there IS no god.' i mean, what the hell do we know? do we know anything for sure?

now, i'm hesitating to comment on the issue that i'm going to commenton next nonetheless - obviously you guys would know better! - but isn't it true that even physics isn't a grand narrative in the sense alot of Truths with a capital T have turned out to be only relative truths? i mean, Ajinkya wrote that he finds physics and mathematics to be "absolute"... a few years ago i was shattered to know even my basic understand of the world, gravity for example, was called into question after einstein. and now even after the age of quantum mechanics would it still hold that physics is one of the paths to absolute truth? (not a rhetorical question, sirs - i'm asking out of curiosity with humility :) ) i find it a bit harder to argue against mathematics though.

so agnosticism seems to me a great opinion to adopt, also consistent with my experiences in a lot of life's issues: that one doesn't know for sure. there's hardly any firm ground to stand on. once you reach a level of certainty, growth/wisdom stops. knowing anything for Sure is akin to death. hence the cliche "the only thing constant is change."i'd never know if there's a god or not. (it's terribly frustrating,but also liberating. yes, it sometimes sounds like i'm chickening out.) just like you'd never know your boyfriend/girlfriend *really* loves you or not. or whether deep inside i'm *really* not a pedophile or i am, or whether Hitchcock's 'rear window' is *really* about castration or not. or whether it's *really* possible to measure a particle's velocity and position simultaneously or not?!

in one of my favourite movies, Contact (based on Sagan's novel), JodieFoster plays a skeptical scientist (oops, are there other kinds?) who initially scoffs at the common people's faith in something, anything (in this case, a higher being). but in the end, she goes through an experience (travelling through a wormhole) and learns deep truths about the universe - - but unfortunately leaves no physical evidence before the law. she ends up asking the authorities to take her word on the basis of faith. a year after adoring the film so much, i had second thoughts, and was suddenly critical of the film: it advocates that faith of one kind is almost equivalent to faith of any other kind. rationality is the superstition of our times. this assertion is also in the postmodern realm... and it confuses the hell out of me.

oh yes - for all day-to-day purposes i'm an atheist. (hardly visit temples, hardly stand at an idol and hardly recite mantras, hardly feel like a hindu) but deep inside, philosophy-wise, personally, i'man agnostic. it doesn't mean that i'm open to the possibility that one day we might confirm the existence of a god with an elephant head and four hands who's reputed to be mischevious and have a huge appetite. bullshit. they're obvious social/historical constructions that intend to use religion to control communal morality. i think discussions of atheism have to be split into two parts - discussions of religion as a communal, hegemonical affair and discussions of personal belief, ethics and philosophy. i think i'd qualify as an atheist in the former and agnostic in the latter.

also, it struck me as strange that savarkar talks about 'punya' bhumi,which definitely means he adheres to some kind of religious ethics. and yet an atheist? so does that mean his view of religion and the subsequent fundamentalism is based solely on the purity of race et al concepts and NOT at all on god?! awesome! ... that's even worse.

if you're reading this line, it means you've had to bear my entire ramble. admirable.

PS: an old joke from readers' digest: "Trust in God...but lock your car.""

Friday, July 06, 2007's the WHAT that counts?

Mumma (not my mother, but my friend Meetu, smart & funny online film critic-cum-surrogate mother from May to June 2007) frequently quips, "It's the thought that counts." I'm sure she says it sarcastically more often than seriously, but consider the statement on its own terms for a moment.

One evening as I walked down the road thinking about absolutely nothing, a random sentence floated into my consciousness, maybe from the memory of hearing it dozens and dozens of times from acquaintances and friends. The sentence is, "You can never keep everyone happy all the time." Haven't you heard it before? Of course you have. (If not, fuck off.) It suddenly struck me that maybe this sentence needs a qualifier. Of course, it IS possible to keep everyone happy all the time... at the cost of your own happiness.

What a heartbreakingly noble normative tenet for behaviour that is, I thought. Trying to keep everyone in your life happy at the cost of your own happiness. It is the ultimate act of sacrifice. Now, whether the tenet is practically applicable is a different matter altogether, beyond the scope of this discus-- er, blog entry. The point is, imagine what a noble personality it must be, who thinks of this tenet everytime he/she is stuck in an ethical dilemma.

That's when I remembered Mumma. "It's the thought that counts." Whether or not the person acts upon that tenet in the aftermath of things is immaterial for the most part. But even thinking on those lines if only for a brief second is what constitutes, for me, an act of nobility in these troubled and heartless times.

And I'm not talking about those hacks who would "think" that thought just to get it over with (or mumble it out vaguely for the convenience of their own conscience). I'm talking about those people whose minds this thought crosses in the truest, purest sense. And keeps at it, nagging, nagging, nagging their brain until they decide either to give in to it or be a mean person, just this one time. Most noble people in most cases -- to survive in this world today -- probably might go for the latter option. But it's the thought that counts -- right Mumma?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tragic Flaws # 1

So there’s this likeable character, a protagonist if you please, in a narrative but she’s got this one major flaw: a tragic flaw, a character fissure, a crack in her personality that will eventually split open, wider and wider until she’s forced to commit a blunder serious enough to force circumstances around her to collapse and the story to end on a tragic note. This is what Aristotle defined as the essence of a tragedy, and this is what Shakespeare apparently used in most of his famous tragedies. I’m discovering that though my personality and character are not worth analysing except occassionally on my own blog, I also have terrible character flaws that God forbid might lead to my collapse, my self-destruction, my life ending in tragedy. (I said God forbid.)

1. I do not know the art of keeping in touch, maintaining contact with people, even people I absolutely admire and adore, even people I love.

2. I do not have the ability of being blunt, of blurting things out as they are, of taking a strong personal stand – and fast.

3. I’m inherently lazy, and I very rarely and only on certain occasions have the ability to get on my feet and do something.

4. I do not have the ability to take major decisions that steer the course of my life in a different direction. All the radical changes – if any – in my life are happening, verrrryyyyyyy, verrrrrryyyyy slowwwwwwlyyyyy.

So why’s this post titled # 1? Because now that I have already found 4 tragic flaws (Four! Tragic indeed.), I’m sure I will find more as I sit and ponder over my character. Then it’ll be time for another post – titled, appropriately enough, ‘Tragic Flaws # 2’. And I really, really, really hope to the heavens that it would be the last ‘tragic flaws’ post.

Friday, May 11, 2007


What’s with Pappu and his phooking? He used to be your sweet, average, good-intentioned, bad-looking geek. Of course, he still is. Except that out of his many always-harboured intentions of personal inversion, subversion and perversion, one, let’s say, came to ‘light’ in the past year: leading to his incessant phooking today. Oh how banal the reasons for starting were, and oh how exciting it became over a period of time, and oh how dangerously addictive it runs the risk of becoming. Though not entirely oblivious to the risk he’s running, Pappu is detached, vulnerable, and undecided – just like he is with other issues of life. It’s strange how Pappu is always a long-term thinker in all other matters (sometimes too long-term, some might argue!), but when it comes to this, no amount of second-thoughts can save him. In the last eight months of silent-slacky-smoky-sad evenings, Pappu has tried to escape this crazy hazy maze twice. Both times, to put it mildly, ‘Pappu pass nahi hua.’ What a tragedy for such a sweet, average, good- intentioned, bad-looking geek. Now he’s living with it. Do you know that Pappu likes sitting down in a dark quiet place while performing his phooking? Long, long ago, when Pappu was on the other side of the philter, he heard from a Sarkari friend that rather than walking about with a butt, he would rather sit down on one’s own while phooking. Although amusing at the time, Pappu totally subscribes to this theory now. Pappu loves phooking when it occurs in a silent, gloomy, nostalgic environment. He has rationalized his behaviour by associating his act of phooking with his act of silent meditative contemplation. One he wants to continue throughout his life, and the other he doesn’t want to. Pappu’s predicament is that the situation has reached a stage where one is unthinkable without the other. And then on the other hand, Pappu ponders whether this is just paranoia? People phook, and Pappu shouldn’t? What does Pappu do? Pappu is stuck. Another disastrous personal problem to add to the list of disastrous personal problems of life. Poor Pappu.
But maybe paranoid Pappu over-reacts. There is still hope. There will always be hope.
Sometimes quitters win.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

/Reading Poetry in a Crowded Local/

I’m reading about things sublime
Symbolic imagery, the urge to rhyme
Only now do I find the time
To read: I’m in a packed train.

The smell disgusts me, the sounds irritate
But I don’t have the patience to wait
I want to learn how to alliterate
But the mob’s blabber boils my brain.

I read among this din more often than not
I can barely hold on to the book that I’ve brought
The wrongest time and place for poetic thought
To concentrate becomes a pain.

And how can it not? The people around me
Seem to be at war, their cussing surrounds me
Feet stamp me, knees jab me, elbows just pound me
I start hating this city again.

But yet I’m engrossed, page after page
It’s beautiful how art can keep you engaged
In the midst of this violence and angry rampage
And keep you peaceful and sane.

A lot of my reading, and art appreciation
A lot of my pondering, critical contemplation
A lot of my extra-academic educaion
Has happened in a crowded railway train.