Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Coach

He was watching the dance of yellow balls. Beginners, Amateurs, semi- professionals hitting the ball in the four different courts of the arena. The varied sounds made by the racquets as players sent the ball across the net in different trajectories was music to his ears. Even closing his eyes, he could know who was playing on which court just by listening to the sounds made by racquets and movements of players. It was a symphony of sorts.  If on one court it was swift and loud, in another it was short and soft. Yellow furs bounced on the red clay at the command of the player. It was a beautiful scene. He enjoyed watching players chip and charge. He enjoyed training them more.
This was his sanctuary. Here he was playing the role of the coach. Looked up to by all for guidance. The joy and pleasure he felt while imparting what he knew to the young minds was real and sublime. He polished their ground strokes, made them swing and slide with ease. He inspired them to play unconventional game and encouraged them to try out newer shots.  Many of them preferred one-handed backhand. He didn’t need to confirm that they were the fans of the Great Man. While they worked rigorously to develop their game he also taught them to listen to their body. He was a master trainer, physio and counselor all in one for the pupils. They loved it when he was around not just to play with him but also to listen to him. Because he more often than not liked to talk about the game. His passion for tennis was infectious and ignited their minds .
Only in the arena he was at peace. Here he could breathe freely.  The strangling pressure from the broken threads of life that he keenly felt eased a bit in these clay patches. Threads as important as life itself. Each and every one of them. Wife, parents, daughter. But he constantly thought about the woman with whom he felt the connection but had let go.  He knew he won’t do anything about it and it hurt. Was he dishonest with himself?  As an answer to himself he sliced the ball sharply putting heavy topspin.  The ball like a reproach ferociously shot across and landed out of reach from the boy much to his bewilderment at this sudden, unexpected aggression.

Friday, July 07, 2017


Why is it that music channels on radio and tee vee during late hours/graveyard shift play sad songs! I was surfing the channels in this city I hate most i.e Delhi to keep myself awake yesterday. Firstly, it was so hard to find a channel, which was playing the music I knew, to feel, you know a bit of nostalgic! Oh, not in the way of Yesterday Once More but in a whole different way. Even as I was beginning to feel ancient and archaic looking at the stuff that was getting passed off as music, I found one channel. But then soon enough I felt so brokenhearted even though I am not brokenhearted! Because most of the songs that were getting played on the channel, which was playing the music I knew, were forlorn love songs. 
I was beginning to hate myself for not creating a library of my favourite songs for situations like these. One song from Haryali Aur Raasta ‘bol mere taqdir’ which I had listened to years and years ago actually got me thinking again how music messes up with one’s mind. May be Keats was right even though I always doubted how unheard melodies could be sweeter.  Maybe heard melodies throw the door wide open for possibilities, for unheard ones to take birth in our minds. I was the type who listens to one song forever and then ditches it forever. So collecting songs for rainy day was never a habit with me. Once though, I did try but soon realized that the value of the songs once on the system immediately plunged deep down. Veblen goods. Moreover, I had given up on movie music in between and taken up classical simply because I never understood it's complex variety.
Music, they say, is the food for the soul. And I was thinking if one were to consume this type of food, what does one become? The minds that worked on these, what did it want to accomplish? Creativity is nothing but embellishment. So is there a causal effect between unreal and real? In a way ironic.

So now coming back to Tee Vee, why sad love songs? Shouldn’t it be upbeat songs so people who are awake stay awake! Do they do what they do because of some research by a management chap! Do they believe people who are listening to music at that late hour must have lost their heart and soul in the game of Love and they need to be empathized with? And hence they do so with Bollywood mushy songs? I don’t know. But would be interesting to know and to speculate!

Friday, June 16, 2017

When I grow up I want to be.....

The other day got asked what one wanted to become when one was 8 yrs old. I went back in time and realized there was no definite goal that I wanted to pursue when I was that young. Only thing that mattered was to top the class by beating the guy who was a friend and a bookworm. And watch movies in theatres. I wanted to be many things. It depended upon the flavor of the season, experience of the day! 
When I was 8, I guess, I wanted to be Hema Malini after watching Razia Sultan! And then when PT Usha became the golden girl of India I definitely wanted to be a sportsperson/athlete. So seriously pursued Volley Ball, Badminton for a while. I wanted to join Ramakrishna Mission when a brilliant lady who had excelled in Bio-chemistry or something came to our School. I did try reading few books on Vivekananda and Shankaracharya. Everyone thought I was kidding but my cousins started calling me Ms.Vivekananda! At 13, after finishing GWTW, all I wanted was to wait for another 4 years and then marry. Who to, it didn't matter! I just wanted to be foolish. When Pamela Bordes made it to international headlines I wanted to become a call girl. Didn't even have an inkling how one becomes that. But started regularly checking out Life among other magazines in the library to become trendy and fashion conscious and designed my own clothes again for a while! Life was fashionable! There were so many choices one had when one was growing up!
Still get goose bumps thinking about how excited we were all about Life. How keen we were to explore and find out the meaning of this whole existence. How seriously we debated about what and why of Life! May be Kerouac is right. There is no point to this whole joint! Life is not glorious and sublime. But it can still be beautiful. It may not appear so at every moment of the day. But you realize it quite often. 
When you are troubled and in the middle of the night your friend brings a smile on your face with a PJ/KJ then you know Life is Beautiful.                         
When you wake up to the smell of your pet you know Life is Beautiful.       
When you start at the loud thunderclaps and realize that, that child is still there somewhere deep within and not all is lost, you know Life is Beautiful.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Cupboard of Unread Books...

Most people will have at least few books in their collection which they would have got thinking they will read it later. Once you decide to read it at some other point of time, more often than not, that some other time never comes. And in the meantime, those unread books keep falling behind in the queue. And at times they get forgotten also, if you weren’t very keen on reading them in the first place! For e.g books bought out of obligation, as courtesy at book release functions or books gifted to you by all and sundry (Everyone is a writer nowadays!).
I have – can’t tell the number, haven’t counted- a pile of books which have remained unread. Amidst that pile there are obligatory purchases and gifts, but a large number of books are those bought by me. Every time I open the cupboard, invariably I catch sight of more than one book that have remained unread. Standing tall, they accuse me of neglect and bias! And I feel guilty. So I have started keeping them on the reverse so that I don’t see their spine!!
Of course, there are some books I have deliberately left unread or incomplete like for e.g those Amish Tripati type books on Puranas, Mahabharat, which have flooded Airports. There are some, when I look at them, I immediately recall how skeptical I was even while purchasing them about actually reading. My gut would have laughed about the choice but I would have doggedly resolved to read them in order to, may be feel good about myself!  In to this category falls, books like Tao of Physics, Collection of essays by Russel, Jiddu, Osho books etc. As I look at them, I still feel I might read them one day but I also regret not trusting my gut.And there are some in the collection which I had read as young from the library. So may be a strong sense of possession and also wish for reliving those sweet moments would have forced me to get them. But I haven’t come around to rereading them yet. So now the very need for rereading has diminished.And then there are books on anthropology, ancient history, economics which I very much want to read but hardly get time. While growing up it was my dream to have a private library of my own with all those leather bound books in the backdrop just like in Classic movies!! Later, it got narrowed down to a collection of selected books. But unbeknownst to me this collection has become not so selected and chosen. It has everything!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Laughter and Lies

Amidst bouts of clear laughter
I listen to pointed but mayhaps harmless banter

Surprised, I watch that it never reaches eyes
And wonder why it is easier to peddle lies.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Random thoughts

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself     -Hermann Hesse

Do we make up thoughts or is it the other way round? Or is it both ways? May be its both ways!
Just imagine treating thoughts as a separate entity from yourself! If only it was possible to pluck them and throw them in the bin! Is it even possible?

Measureable quotients for everything- Intelligence, Emotional, Spiritual. Why not develop a quotient to measure criminal, fraudulent, machiavellian instincts!

Why do we give so much importance to learning? Can everything be learned? Is it even desirable to learn everything? This tendency to measure and understand where one requires learning, improvement and then forcing one to act upon it is totally unreal. It is like using academic cosmetics for air brushing your personality!

I don't know if  I am being negative.  But it just feels so distasteful!  As if it was not enough for the world to dive deep for showing up as the ideal body and face, now all these sugary sweet know thyself analysis to prep the mind and soul for a better version of oneself in the manner of softwares that get upgraded every once in a while.

Coming to Hesse, he is so right about that stillness! But what happens when one does not want to come out of that stillness? The world I know is the one which makes noise and talks loud. Even those who talk about silence make nothing but noise.  How do we listen to the sound of silence?

Is it only possible in death? I remember listening to the sounds of silence when Anna died. It was 4 years ago! But it still feels so recent. I understood the meaning of the word Smashana Mouna- Silence of the graveyards, back then. Somewhere I had read- or is it a line from a movie- a girl grows up when her hearts broken or when she loses her father. Even if you don't care much about the impression you are giving to the world, the world will make one and you will live to fight against it, a friend had warned back then in college. I had laughed. Oh, the confidence of the youth! So Hesse does make lot of sense. Silence can teach, but it can numb you to inactivity and stillness.  May be problem arises when one feels more productive in being inactive and still!!

"The Sound Of Silence" - Simon & Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Attack on Sovereignty, Democracy.. anyway pffft?

Afzal Guru has been hanged for his role in Parliament attack case. Without fair trial claim many legal experts and their opinion is repeated in top newspapers in their reports and in editorials which describe it as a 'political execution'. I really am not in a position to take a stand on that but the fact is he was hanged, the govt chose to inform the State CM over phone the previous day itself but disregarding all tools of modern communication it opted to send speed post to the family with the information perhaps that the head of the family would be sent to the gallows on such and such a day and at such hours. I wonder who would have thought of this brilliant idea? May be the team will get PM's award come next April 21st! 
While reading about the execution I could not help recalling the execution of Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukh Dev.  This link shows the front page of a newspaper day after the execution of the trio. What striking similarities! Is it very strange that whatever happened to Afzal guru was the same thing that happened to those three. I am not comparing those three with Afzal Guru. I am comparing how the ruling government dealt with the executions, then and now. Post-independence Bhagat Singh & Co became freedom fighters but for the rulers who passed the verdict they were perhaps just murderers and anti-social elements, a threat to the law and order. 
Bhagat Singh dropped bomb in the central Assembly hall of the Parliament to 'make the deaf hear'. That was the motive. The attack which actually never happened on December 13, 2001 was intended for what purpose, God only knows. I really doubt that a bunch of five men with one IED loaded car believed that they could reduce Parliament to rubble with a single strike.
The government allowed the hanging of a man for his role in attack on Parliament, which houses nearly 250 MPs facing criminal charges because it was a treason and it was an attack on country's sovereignty hence needed to be given the highest punishment for the 'collective satisfaction of people'.  Is our sovereignty embedded in a century old structure? While the things that define our country like land, water, mountains, forest are simply exploited/eroded to satisfy man's 'corporate greed' right under the nose and eyes and may be covertly facilitated by the Government. 
One of the most blood boiling chapters in our history reading years for me was Dadabhai Naoroji's 'Drain Theory',  Poverty and un-British Rule in India, and how India was systematically and continuously bled of its wealth and resources. Britishers were outsiders/colonisers and may be they were expected to plunder and drain India of its wealth. But what happens to the country if its own people turn in to marauders? The looting is omnipresent. The loot is happening directly in all sectors and indirectly under the guise of myriad of welfare schemes. You will only have to see denuded areas in many mining regions across the country in AP,Karnataka, Orissa,MP, Kerala etc for iron ore/coal/thorium etc. Not a day passes without some report of some real estate scam or some other scam in which either centre or state governments are directly or indirectly involved. 
And this Government hanged Afzal Guru for his role in the aborted attack on Parliament, India's symbol of sovereignty while wearing proudly this symbol, those inside are shredding to pieces the whole and the leftovers without any vision, without a thought for the posterity. May be posterity will have to just do with sovereignty while the country is again in the hands of rulers!