दीपक हो

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.

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केशव को

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…

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Upon Dreams and Thoughts

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…

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जाने कैसी मुलाक़ात होगी

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.

 

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चलो कहीं डेरा डाल लेते हैं

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.

 

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आज छोड़ चलते हैं…

2015 is coming to an end, and with that a phase of life draws to a close. In wishing you all a very happy 2016, and indeed, the rest of your life, I also wish goodbye to the days that have passed… This poem is a celebration of the era that draws to a close today – childhood, with all its vicissitudes and victories, with all its charms and challenges, with all its memories.

I hope you had a great 2015. I wish you all the love, hope, strength, and fulfilment in 2016!

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Winter in the City

Here’s something I had written earlier, forgotten about completely, and rediscovered recently. Since summer is still marauding us these days, I think publishing a poem about winter still makes sense.

After all, aren’t we all in a perpetual yearning for the beautiful days of the past or the beautiful days of tomorrow? Aren’t we all just looking for an escape even when we know there isn’t one?

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Reading Gulzar – Beeti Na Bitaai Raina

Gulzar (Click on the image for source.)

Gulzar (Click on the image for source.)

This has been a long time coming.

I think the blog hasn’t been updated for a while now (a month to be precise), but that hasn’t really been for a lack of trying. A couple of pieces that I have been working on are taking an impossibly high amount of time to get done with. As such, not quite able to head anywhere with my own words, I have decided to return to the relief and comfort of those of Gulzar.

There are a few songs where the singing of the words surpasses their poetry, if you know what I mean. Usually, the latter is so good that if you were to sing it (and I am assuming here that you’re as bad a bathroom singer as any), you’d still find joy. You’d find joy in merely reading the poetry. But the rare songs I refer to are those where the poetry’s meaning and emotion is enhanced by the manner in which they have been sung. They will be beautiful if you read them, or make your best un-donkeybray effort at singing, but they won’t be as beautiful as the original, shot-on-film, sung-by-the-gods song itself.

This film, Gulzar’s ‘Parichay’ has both these kinds of songs: there is the former of the rich poetry, and this, the latter.

When you listen to the song, or rather, watch it, you’ll see how Lata Mangeshkar and Jaya Bachchan begin the song more like a narration, like singing a song you knew the words to but thry don’t really mean anything personal to you. For a song that is inherently sad in its words, watch the latter smile and enjoy the singing. Then, watch how Bhupinder’s voice and Sanjeev’s introduction to the scene adds the feels to it, like moments beginning to form out of the mist of memories. You know this is more than just a collection of words for him. This leads beautifully to the second verse, by which they’re both emoting, yearning for the filling of a common void.

It is subtle. It is, in fact, aspiration.

Incidentally (and sadly, for it highlights the dearth we’ve had of actors of his ilk in Hindi cinema), Sanjeev Kumar who plays Jaya Bachchan’s father in this song was cast opposite her in ‘Anamika’. Incidentally, again, R. D. gave the music to that film too!

Film: Parichay

Music: R. D. Burman

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder Singh

Lyrics: 🙂

Here goes…

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Suddenly in the Midst of Summer

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.

 

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All Vacations Must End

At times, your words don’t come from you. They are too powerful to belong to one voice, their meaning too deep for one tale. Recently, I uttered some of this sort. They were said to someone I know in a jovial tone, without much thought gone in their formation.

And yet, when I reflected on them, I was saddened. Extremely. By their weight, the lost possibilities they spoke of, the grief of demise they had. Moved, I wrote this poem, and made those words its title. Let me know how you like it.

 

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