Today is Diwali, the biggest festival of Hindu culture. I’d written previously about it here, but like most muses, it is something I can keep coming back to.
But it isn’t the festival that is the muse. Instead, all the things it symbolises: righteousness, its conquest of evil, and the inevitability of this victory – these make Diwali my favourite festival. It is an infinite fount of everything that keeps us human.
So, without further ado, I present to you this poem. And, of course, wish you a very happy (and hopeful) Diwali.
Today’s Janmashtami, the festival celebrating the birth of the 9th avatar of Vishnu. Of the 10 avatars that He took, Krishna is the only one considered ‘Poorna Avatar’ – the complete incarnation of God, Vishnu in His entirety.
Krishna is complete, is absolute. He enunciated the knowledge of the Srimadbhagvat Gita, he is the Yogeshwar – Lord of Yoga, the practical application of Indian spirituality, not just a form of exercise.
However, this is all enough and all nothing. For I firmly believe that Krishna is beyond words and thoughts, beyond experience and feeling. Surdas, the legendary Indian bhakta and poet who wrote about Krishna all his life, in fact claimed that all attempts to write about Him were futile. It is a beautiful irony, but again, highlights Surdas’ love for his Maker, and his Maker’s divinity. Here, sample it in the glorious voice of the late Jagjit Singh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73ARusu3O6Y.
While I’m none to argue with the wisdom of Surdas, I have humbly attempted to write about Krishna…
Today is August 15th, 2016. India, the country, celebrates her 70th birthday. Of course, it is my firm (uneducated, uninformed, bigoted – to use the terms en vogue for folks such as ourselves) belief that India the civilisation can’t be dated.
Anyway, each year on this day, everyone and their uncles start harping about the “dreams” of a billion Indians. Right from the nation’s political leaders, the media, and increasingly, brands. What space you can find is plastered with proclamations of fulfilling said dreams, in whatever manner they can, by each of these entities.
And I have a problem with this…
Marriage is the final triumph of societal life. All actions in public life stem from it, reach for it, and once the task is done, are set in motion again for the next generation. Nature has, of course, wired every species to seek survival. Man, thankfully, is the only one that makes such a show of it.
But since the show is there, it gives rise to many stories and many rituals. Cultures change them with great frequency, art celebrates it in all. In India, we have the arranged marriage – where parents get a couple together, having previously satisfied themselves of the financial, societal, and emotional state of the other family. The young (would be) couple meets in a public place with a great delegation of their relatives, and is usually given a little amount of time to talk to each other and get to know the person. At least a couple such meetings happen, usually more.
It is a process subject to great ridicule but has also considerable success. Anyone reading this in the West will probably be shocked by this way of going about the business of marriage, but they will of course appreciate that things change in other parts of the world.
But even when some things change, some remain the same.
This year has begun with great promise: one made by me, some made by life. After all the running around and hassles of the years gone by, there looks to be signs of peace.
There is hope that we can settle down (in more ways than one), let go of the trifles of everyday living, and rest.
Today marks the anniversary of this blog. Today is also the festival of Holi, the Hindu festival of colour and Spring.
This year, though, the festivities will be a shade calmer: the sudden cool prevalent over much of India will prevent many from indulging in the usual wild splashing and watering of people, emotions, and life itself.
However, this unexpected cold does have some benefits. Some I’ve tried capturing in the lines below. Like always, do let me know how you like them.
बारिशों के दिन हैं, बारिश चाहे कमज़ोर ही सही।
गर्मियों की झुलस के बाद जो पहली बूँद गिरती है, यूँ लगता है जैसे दम घुटने से साँस भर पहले ज़िन्दगी फिर से बहने लगी हो। सूखी, प्यासी-सी धरती और प्यासे-से अरमानों को एक राह मिलती है। जो कहीं रुकने लगी थीं, थमने लगी थीं, वो दुआएँ पेड़ों की टहनियों पर पत्ते बन खिलती दिखती हैं। हाँ, सिर्फ भला होता है ऐसा भी नहीं है। हमारे शहरों की जर्जर व्यवस्थाओं को बारिशों में डूबते देखते हैं, सड़कों पे बनती नदियों में गलते कागज़ों के कारवां हर साल न जाने कौन सा समंदर तलाशते हैं।
जीवन की बाकी तस्वीरों की तरह, सावन के भी दो चेहरे हैं: यह सृजन भी है, यह विनाश भी है। आगे लफ़्ज़ों में लेकिन कुछ एक ही सूरत दिखेगी – आशा की – और इसकी वजह भी है। आस-पास की गर्त, की दुर्व्यवस्था न गिनने से कम होगी न व्याख्या करने से। हाँ, शायद खूबसूरती और प्रयास को सोचकर हम मन के अनगिनत तनावों को भुला सकेंगे, आने वाले सवालों को टटोलने की थोड़ी ज़्यादा हिम्मत जुड़ा सकेंगे।
कई कविताएं लिखी हैं पर काफ़ी वक्त से इतना वक्त किसी ने नहीं लिया। पढ़ के बताइयेगा ज़रूर कैसी लगी…
नारी का सम्मान कहाँ और स्तर कहाँ…
बम्बई की ट्रेन्स में सफ़र करता हूँ रोज़, और फर्स्ट क्लास के डब्बे लेडीज और जनरल में बंटे हैं। मेरी नज़र अक्सर फेंस के उस पर खड़ी औरतों, लड़कियों पर पड़ जाती है। उन चेहरों में, उन आखों में, उनमें अनेक सवाल, कई किस्से दिखते हैं।
बस उन्हें एक रूप देकर यहाँ लिखा है।
कैसी लगी बताइयेगा…
I don’t believe in Valentine’s, but I so do believe in love. And here’s something I wrote celebrating it.
It’s the first “story” I have published here. Let me know how you like it.
They sat there, on the shore, watching the sun set over the calm waters. A frigid wind was blowing, as if it had been waiting for the sun to descend, and the birds had vacated the skies.
Far away, they knew, there were people waiting. Homes, families, the call of the world. They knew that, for the next God alone knows how long, that’s where they were going to be. These were precious moments.
But neither spoke, or perhaps could speak. Their eyes scanned the horizon, and a glint of moisture resided in them. Their fingers were entwined, those of his left and her right, but they sat distanced. Intermittently, he would take his little finger and poke, scratch hers. She let him.
The sun was a mere ring, faint, on the water’s edge. Night had all but put him to sleep, and with a loving smile.
After a long while, I’ve found the time, and more importantly, the spirit, to post something here. For a considerable period of time now, things hadn’t been smooth sailing. In this time of turmoil, which, alas, hasn’t passed completely yet, there were a million things that I wanted to share here. Many questions to ask, some answers to give. But that couldn’t happen. I still hope that, soon enough, I’ll be able to address them.
This, however, is getting published. It is another email forward (the other, if you missed it, is here) and one that, perhaps, is funnier than the previous one.
These are actual ads taken from a leading matrimonial website of guys searching for brides. The grammar and spelling, are, of course, of no significant consequence to these posters – everything is straight from the heart! I only hope you don’t forget yours at the end of this. By the way, I’ve not made any changes to the post, but have edited the bracketed comments from the original email.
Hope you laugh, and laugh bad!