Friday, January 15, 2010

The warrior and the green eyed monster

Dedicated to the green eyed monster in my life!

Japan , 1845

The door of the Ryokan, the ancient Japanese inn burst open. Several pairs of eyes followed the well built warrior as he walked into the Ryokan, sat down, and placed his sword next to him. All the villagers of Ozato village eyed him with fear and suspicion. One villager walked up to him boldly and asked him:

“O warrior! Who are you and what brings you to the peaceful village of Ozato?”

“I am a Rourni, a wanderer. I come in search of the green eyed monster, Nisimah.”

The villager ordered O-Sake and a bowl of rice for the warrior. Other villagers slowly gathered around the warrior.

“Tell us your story, O warrior!”

The warrior sipped his glass of O-Sake and began his story.

‘It all started one terrible night in 1830. I was only 6 yrs old. The village Honjo was attacked by the green eyed monster, and everyone, all the farmers, including my family perished. The entire village was wiped out in one night. I however managed to escape. My house was burnt down and I walked for miles without food or water. A man came to me and asked me who I was. I told him about my family and their fate. He took me with him to his home and told me that from that day, I was to consider his home as my own. Master Saicho took me in as his son and taught me everything I know. I trained in the dojo, with other students, mastered the bow and the arrows, and learnt how to fight with the sword. For fifteen years I have trained hard with only one motive in my mind, to avenge the death of my family and slay the green eyed monster, Nisimah.’

“Nisimah, the green eyed monster lives just beyond the mountains” One villager interjected.

The eyes of the warrior blazed with anger.

‘Before leaving the dojo, master Saicho presented me with the golden katana.’
The warrior pointed at the golden katana, the magnificent sword that won him many battles.

Before parting, master Saicho looked at me with tender eyes, “Son, I have taught you everything I know about swordsmanship, but alas, the purpose of your sword is revenge and not peace. A true swordsman is one who is at peace with himself and those around him.”

The warrior thanked the villagers for their hospitality and resumed his journey to find the monster.

It took the warrior three long days, traveling through perilous terrains, crossing treacherous rivers and trekking through the mountains to reach the monster’s lair.

“Who dares disturb Nisimah?” thundered the green eyed monster.

“A warrior from Honjo village. I have come here to kill you.”

The moment the warrior had been waiting for fifteen long years had finally arrived. And so, the battle began.

The monster swooped down at the warrior with its poisonous talons, but he was too quick for the monster. His sharp Katana ripped though the monster’s skin with ease. The monster roared with rage and stuck a blow with its claws, injuring the warrior’s leg. He limped with pain and again struck the sword at the monster. The battle waged on between the monster and the skillful warrior.
Finally, the monster accepted defeat.

“O warrior! You are indeed a worthy opponent. I am ready to die. Please make it quick.”

“Before I kill you, tell me, why did you attack my peaceful Honjo village fifteen years ago?”

“We never kill humans for food. Yet, fifteen years ago, villagers came to my den in the forest and it ablaze while I was out hunting. My offspring died in the fire. I vowed to take revenge and attacked Honjo village.”

“But we are farmers. Our villagers would never have set fire to your den”

“I realized that much later on and vengeance didn’t solve anything. I know how you must be feeling. I am truly sorry for destroying your village and killing your loved ones. If killing me makes you happy, then I am willing to die.”

The warrior stared at the monster thoughtfully. He withdrew his sword, the golden katana, turned his back to the monster and slowly walked away.

The warrior had learnt the final lesson. He had forgiven the monster. He was finally at peace.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A state of fear

The world never waits
As we wait for the world to heal itself
To renounce upon faith
the darkness that lies beneath

As the world rushes past us
In quiet slumber we wait
An eternal peace of mind
A quiet contemplation bestowed upon us
Makes us dream of another dream

For those among us
Who love the war
With guns in hand they stand
And look at us through the iron gates
Sunshine, open, close , open.

For they live in another world
Of greed, passion , hate and emotion
As anger bestows action
And the world embraces revolution

We constantly live in a state of fear
Not knowing what lies ahead
A distant hope that keeps us alive
A spark in the darkness, a glow at night

For we are alone in this mission
Together , but in solitude
We wait for the right moment
For the world to give us credence
As we sit in a conclave, lost in thought
What is to come, we know not

Some call it 'philosophy'
While most brand it 'catastrophe'
As time trickles by
Minute after minute, second after second
We are so close,yet so far away

Will the day of reckoning finally come
When the guilty shall be punished
And peace will reign
When history is understood,
Not to be repeated again
When the heart leads the way
And the soul never wanders astray

We will wait
For patience is a virtue

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The chicken that never crossed the road

NOTE: The following article is highly pessimistic and sarcastic in nature. Any resemblance to events, places and people (living or dead) is definitely intentional. All ‘optimists’ and ‘realists’ are advised to take a hike. The Himalayas are great this time of the year!

The Background: The protagonist is a chicken, a citizen from a distant country called Bratpur. Bratpur is country with more than 50 states, Upperpur and Mahapur being the more prominent ones. Mahapur is situated somewhere in the southwest and Upperpur, as the names suggests is in the north. The past decade has seen farmers migrating from Upperpur to Mahapur in search of greener pastures. One such farmer migrated to Mahapur and set up ‘Laltu farms’.

It all began when a chicken from Laltu Farms had an epiphany. She decided to go farther than any chicken had ever gone before. She decided to cross the road! Somewhere along the middle of the road, her foot got stuck in a pothole, which the BMC (Bratpur Metropolitan Corporation) had failed to repair. She struggled to get her foot loose, but got ran over by a passing car. It was a clear hit and run case. Unknown to the chicken, a reporter from a prominent TV channel, ZDTV, had captured the entire sequence of events on tape.

The tape showed the license plate of the vehicle that ran over the chicken. It also showed that the reporter had ample time to save the chicken’s life but chose not to do so as his promotion and the channel’s TRP mattered more to him than a chicken’s life.
Sure enough it made breaking news and the reporter got his ‘well deserved’ promotion. The driver of the car involved turned out to be the son of an influential and affluent politician. He would not spend more than a few hours in jail and would be let out on bail. After all, in Bratpur, laws of the land were applicable only to the poor and the destitute.

What followed after the accident can only be described as utter chaos. Correspondents from various news channels including till now, yesterday’s news flocked to report the news. The distraught farmer was overwhelmed by the loss of the chicken and was left speechless. The reporters interviewed anything and anyone who could speak. They got hold of a cow in the nearby farm and interviewed the poor creature. All she could say was ‘MOO’. Politicians soon arrived in the scene. A member from the leading party wanted to hog the limelight and offered his condolences in front of the cameras. He even offered to compensate the farmer monetarily for the loss. The BMC officials were nowhere to be seen and the MNS (Mahapur new formed soldiers) were stoic about the incident as the chicken was originally from Upperpur. The leader of the opposition did not want to be left out either. He alleged that the whole incident was a conspiracy by the leading party. They openly and shamelessly bickered in front of the cameras.

Five days after the incident, a memorial service was held at a prominent location. People lit candles and bowed their heads in respect. The chicken even appeared on one of the late night debate shows where the so called ‘experts’ share their so called ‘expert’ opinion. One of the experts suggested wider roads to avoid the accident while another guest speaker concluded that all chicken should be slaughtered to avoid such a mishap in the future.

Ten days zoomed past and the chicken was soon forgotten. Nothing had really changed. The farmer remained poor. The influential politician’s son went on a killing spree and the BMC pothole was never repaired!

Welcome of Bratpur , where we sweat all day
So that all politicians can be merry and gay (And erect bronze statues)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Facts , Figures and love

Its been nearly a year since I left college. I still keep in touch with my friends and an ideal online chat conversation with a college friend would proceed as follows:

Me : Hey there! Hows life. How are things?

X(the other person): Life’s great.. things are going fine..

Me: And hows work ?

X: work goes on .. blah blah blah blah

Me: Oh.. same here , blah blah blah ..

X: blah blah

Me: Blah blah…

‘X’ would then ask the most inevitable question:

X: So ... found a girl for yourself yet?

Me: Nope!

X: What the BEEP! You live in Mumbai.. full of hot chicks. How come you don’t have a girlfriend?

This article is dedicated to my countless friends who have asked me this question. I intend to offer them an explanation.

A month has on an average 30 days. I spend 6 days a week at work (there are no girls there) and come back home tired. I get four Sundays off , that’s 4/30 days or 13.33% in a month. Studies have shown that an average human being requires at least six hours of sleep. Out of the 96 hrs(13.33% of a month), 24 hrs are spent sleeping. , leaving me 9.99% in the month (assuming I don’t eat, take bath etc).

In this 9.99% , lets assume that I actually get to talk to a girl and begin to like her. Things would proceed well and our relation would blossom. I would eventually ask her out; she would either accept or ‘see me as a friend.’ Thus the probability of me getting a girlfriend in Mumbai is 9.99/2/100 = 0.0499. My probability of NOT getting a girlfriend however is 1- 0.0499 = 0.9501.

On an optimistic note, I would like to say that stranger things have happened in this mad mad world. Maybe a beautiful girl might actually meet me on the local train platform, look and me in the eyes and say ‘Let us NOT be friends. I love you and hope you love me too!’ All I can do now is micro observe and carry on with my life.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Misplaced Chivalry

Is chivalry meaningless in today’s world? If so, who is to blame??

This happened to me when I was in college. One of my good friends, Patil and I decided to attend a cultural fest to be held in another college. Sashi (another friend of mine), told us that Miss Marple (who happened to be Sashi’s school friend) was also attending the same fest. Miss Marple was a stranger to both Patil and me. Nevertheless, on Sashi’s request we decided to meet up with her.

Miss Marple turned out to be a squirmy little creature who took an instant liking to Patil(perhaps because he works out in the gym and I am a crouch potato! ). She decided to completely ignore me and allowed me to merge with the background. It was a two way conversation between Patil and Marple, but I was happy to be left alone.

Miss Marple then suggested having lunch in a restaurant, which according to her was the best in town. Its surprising how girls seem to magically know the most expensive restaurants! We ended up in the restaurant (Patil had dragged me along).

Everything was overpriced. Roti was no longer called roti and all vegetables seemed to have a fancy name on the menu. Marple seemed to be at home in this restaurant. She even ordered an expensive dessert with a fancy French name which looked suspiciously like plain chocolate ice cream. The bill arrived. Both Patil and I took out our wallets, waiting for her to pay her share (we were after all students on a tight budget). We indicated to her indirectly that we were running short of cash. No use. Her handbag lay forgotten. Women rights activists who fight for social and economic equality seem to have conveniently forgotten to mention equality while paying a restaurant bill. I found myself paying for some random girl who treats me like a piece of furniture (was it chivalry, politeness or mere stupidity?).

We left the restaurant and plans were made about dinner (Didn’t Marple just have lunch?). Patil agreed to have dinner with her. I refused. At about 10 pm, Patil returned and I asked him about the dinner. “We talked” was all he could say. I asked him innocently if he had paid the bill. Apparently he had. They had exchanged e mail ids and telephone numbers. Was this a beginning of a Bollyhood like love story?

Quite the opposite! His mails and calls were completely ignored and she was never heard of again.

Maybe Marple and I will bump into each other some day, and when we do I am sure that I will be walking rapidly at a uniform speed of 5 kmph in the opposite direction.

Its wrong to expect or assume chivalry. Earning it is a better way to go about it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Great Divide

What does a notorious terrorist have in common with a 19th century German?

a) Nothing
b) They both were circus clowns
c) Both loved spicy parathas
d) Both were civil engineers

No need to go “50 - 50” or “Phone a friend” on this one. The answer is option‘d’.

He is about 6’4”, weighs 160 pounds and was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957. The only son of Muhammad, (a billionaire Saudi businessman) and Hamida Al Attas; he completed his schooling in 1976 and decided to pursue a course in civil engineering. He never did complete his graduate studies and was distracted by religion. He occupied himself by interpreting the Quran. As the founder of Al Qaeda, he vociferously opposed the stationing of US troops in Islamic countries. Osama Bin Laden graduated from handling a dumpy level to holding a gun. He is a mass murderer, with a reward of up to 25$ million to anyone who knows his whereabouts.

John A. Roebling was born in Germany on July 12, 1806. He was a visionary who wanted to achieve his dreams by designing and building big bridges. As a student of architecture, bridge construction, foundation engineering and hydraulics, he migrated to America to fulfill his dreams.
In 1867 Roebling started design work on what is now called the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1869, barely two years after the conception of his design, he met with an accident and was admitted to the hospital. His condition deteriorated until it was clear he had tetanus, and 24 days after the accident he was dead.
His son, Washington Roebling decided to continue his dad’s legacy and finish the bridge. He made alterations to the original design and personally monitored the progress of the bridge. Decompression sickness due to working in compressed air under the river, combined with over work, shattered his health and rendered him unable to visit the site He became an invalid, was bedridden, could not even speak but monitored the progress of the bridge from his bedroom window. He communicated to his wife Emily using only hand gestures, telling her to make changes (wherever necessary) in the bridge. Emily would go to the site and carry out her husband’s instructions. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed successfully in 1883 and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world. The bridge is symbolic of the dedication and the devotion of the Roebling family and connects Manhattan and Long Island.

Both Bin Laden and Roebling were civil engineers. They attended classes not unlike you and me. They must also have hibernated in the hydraulics class, groaned in the geotech class, and carried heavy theodolites during their college days. What they later became was solely decided by the choices they had made. While one engineer bought a gun and started a war, the other literally connected people (like Nokia!).

The choices that you make in your life depend on you and how you want to be remembered. Make the right ones!! All the very best.. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Three P's of Rock

Choose ten random strangers and give them an hour to interact with each other. Tell each person to jot down the characteristics of every other person. It will be observed that no two individuals will have the same perception. Let A, B and C be three such individuals in the group of ten. B may perceive A as an introvert of remarkable intelligence. C on the other hand might be under the impression that A is reserved because he is too dumb to string two words together and form a sentence. Each person is perceived differently by different individuals. This leads to ambiguity and conflict in perceptions.

Rock is no different. Ask any rock lover the basic question: “What is the essence of rock?” and a variety of answers will crop up.

Most rock lovers consider the rock lead as the driving force behind rock. Joe Sat, Steve Vai and Stevie Ray are considered as idols in the temple of rock. A rock lover devoured by the psychedelic lyrics of Pink Floyd might be tempted to conclude that lyrics are the soul of rock. Lyrics reflect the emotions of the composer. Hate, love , sorrow and loneliness are some of the most common themes. Some lyrics can be so mind boggling and abstract that the listener is left stupefied. The title ‘An American Poet’ given to Jim Morrison of the doors in well justified in this regard. The impact of well composed lyrics can be exceptional. John Lennon’s lines ‘You may say I am a dreamer, but am not the only one’ created waves in Britain during 1970’s. Lennon believed in a conceptual world with no wars, no discrimination of any kind and equality to all. His lyrics inspired thousands to support his cause. Great lyrics however are useless without the music. Mere enchanting poems! Lyrics are like diamonds. They need to be polished (with music) to bring the sparkle.

Some rock lovers might associate rock only with the insane headbanging. These headbangers insist that rock is meaningless without oscillating one’s head at breakneck speeds in sync with the music. What these dolts forget is that The Beatles who revolutionized rock and roll in the 1960’s did not compose any songs that needed headbanging. Metallica’s Nothing else matters and Led Zepplin’s infamous Stairway to heaven demands the listener to sit back, relax and be swept away. Headbanging might be one of the ingredients of rock but does not define rock.

For the love of ROCK!

A compound is a mixture of its constituent elements in an appropriate ratio. Rock too is the culmination of a great guitar solo, mesmerizing lyrics with a touch of headbanging and amazing vocals.

Posers of rock: For the present generation, rock has become synonymous with cool. A person who rocks is one who is cool and popular. This has lead to the emergence of two kinds of people, people who truly love rock and rock posers (losers). Rock posers taint the sanctity of rockhood. They consider themselves as rock lovers but cant really differentiate between Britney Spears and Iron Maiden. A girl in my college, who claimed to be a rock lover, was found headbanging to a Backstreet Boys track. May her musically inclined soul rest in peace!

Rock posers welcome each other with a ‘cool’ hifi. ‘Fuck’ and ‘motherfuckers’ are the two most common words in their dictionary. A rock poser ideally does not know more than 10 rock songs but thinks he is an expert. He permanently wears a rock band t-shirt, has untidy hairstyle, smokes weed, talks in a fake accent and tries to act cool. Such people deserve to be mocked at, to be publicly humiliated at and should me made specimens for humour.

I know I love rock. I don’t need to go about flaunting in public trying to prove that to everyone! ” remarked one of my friends. He listens to bands most guys wouldn’t have even heard of and participated intensely in discussions about rock. He is a simple chap, someone u might just bump across on the road and move on without so much as a second glance. So, the next time you are travelling in a bus, just remember that an ordinary guy wearing a plain dull t-shirt sitting next to you with a bored expression on his face might just turn out to be a true connoisseur of Rock.

Parallels of rock: A few weeks back, I ended up attending a Nityashree (carnatic singer) concert. It struck me then that parallels can be drawn between rock and other forms of music. The similarities between Indian music and rock are astounding. The guitar lead in rock is replaced by a violin or a veena lead. For the drums in rock, there exists the ghatam, Mridungam and tabla. The base in Indian music is provided by the droning shruti box. Talented carnatic vocalists such sing high noted and pitches simulated only by gothic singers in rock.

It is said that while visiting Ettayapuram, a small village in Tamil Nadu, the great composer Muthuswamy Dikshitar was anguished to see the drought-hit arid land and people facing severe water shortage. Moved by their plight, Dikshitar looked up to the sky and burst forth in praise of the goddess in a raga called amritavarshini. He beseeched Devi to bring rain and alleviate the plight of the drought-hit people. It started raining soon after he finished singing the raga.

Such is the power of Indian music and it cannot be ignored. Rock lovers must occasionally take a break from rock and indulge in other forms of music, thus expanding their horizons. Thus the Indian classical artists are rockstars in their own world of music.

Rock is like Cerberus, the mythical three headed dog. Chop one head off, and two will take its place.. KEEP ROCKING!!