Aside

Today my wife told me apologetically that she asked our three month old boy to pray for me. How should I react?

Anger, because we have this solemn agreement between us that our son will grow up without any religious affiliation and will be free to choose his path when he turns 18? And prayer is a part of religion, all of them (and especially hers) and by teaching him to pray she is teaching him a fundamental religious concept. One which has been proven to be completely ineffective and thus untrue.

Gratitude, to learn that she cares about me so much and wishes for my well-being so strongly to direct her best weapon to my side in my times of trouble and/or difficulties and make it doubly effective by involving our infant son in the exercise?

Or fear that our son may have his vision always clouded by these delusions and never see the truth due to being constantly bombarded by religion from all well-meaning quarters except this one?

Son, if I did believe in prayer and could pray, I would pray that your eyes always be open, your mind always be free and that your heart always be big. The rest is a given.

“Life is short…

image

…Have an affair.”

I came across this mind-boggling advertisement somewhere on the internet today. The product being advertised is “The World’s Premier Discreet Dating Service with over 7,570,000 anonymous members”.

I will leave you with your thoughts now, whatever they might be. And in case my wife is reading this, “Honey, no, I am not their 7,570,001st anonymous member!”

T. S. Eliot Reads The Waste Land

If you read the About section of this blog you will know that Eliot is my favourite poet and reading his poetry has been one of those life-changing experiences of mine!

I have these tapes of Eliot reading his own poems which I bought from Amazon a few years back. Finally, fighting all my procrastinating habits I have started to convert them to digital format. So I though I would share them here. This is the first instalment where he reads the entire ‘The Waste Land’.

I. The Burial of the Dead
I. The Burial of the Dead

II. A Game of Chess
II. A Game of Chess

III. The Fire Sermon
III. The Fire Sermon

IV. Death by Water
IV. Death by Water

V. What the Thunder said
V. What the Thunder said

Amabilis Insania

I have been neglecting The Waste Land for a while. For example, I have this long post planned about our very own Jyoti Babu since he entered the hospital for the very last time. And even now, when he has passed away and his earthly remains have been dissected for the greater good of Science, I have not been able to find time to write about him, or rather my impressions of him. I do have excuses galore, such as work, life etc. But the best excuse I have is this other blog that I have been working on – its called Amabilis Insania - and its about Music. For an introduction I quote the complete About page here:

Amabilis Insania is Latin for Pleasing Madness – which to me is what Music stands for. Music drives us to rapture or despair far greater than most of our own experiences are capable of – insanity, in other words. But it is an insanity which we crave, which pleases our senses, which makes life worth living. Music is such an abstract and subtle thing – a certain waveform of sound that finds resonance in us – tweak one note and it will be useless noise. Amabilis Insania is dedicated to that thing!

Anyone who knows me will tell you how big a part of my life Music is, even though I can’t create any. To say I love Music will be one of the understatements of this century and the last! Consider this – in the age of magnetic cassette tapes, I had around a thousand to a thousand and a half of them (which were ultimately given away for five Indian Rupees a kilogram by my parents when they sold the old apartment and moved!); the era of compact discs kind of passed me by and I could manage a meagre four hundred which I still possess; in this new millenium of the ubiquitous em-pee-three I already have over nine thousand of them and that number keeps going northwards each passing month! Now that I have you convinced, let me move on…

My Insania started quite late, only in my teens actually. Though I was touched by Music probably since the day I was born – the melodies out of my mother’s sweet voice and the musical nursery rhymes tape that my father brought me from England included – I was totally unaware of the vast ocean of Music that existed across the seven seas. A friend of my adolescent years introduced me to some new forms for which I am forever in his debt. It was the spark that ignited this fire – the fire to listen and discover Music. And it’s still burning…

At this point I would like to confess an embarrassing secret! For all my love of Music, I can’t play any. I can tolerably sing and may even have been a self-professed karaoke king of Jakarta! But when it comes to plucking strings, banging skins, blowing wind or pressing ivories, I have no skills – zero, zilch, nada! People ask me, do I play any music? And my answer has always been, no, I listen!

Regarding my tastes in music, I love Jazz, but I also love Blues and Rock. Even though I do not understand much, there are a few Indian Classical Ragas and Western Classical pieces I hold dear. I discovered Indonesian Gamelan during my two year stint in Jakarta and it grew on me. I might even listen to some Electronic Music when I am in the mood. And I am not embarrassed to admit that there are even a few Pop or Bollywood tracks which I enjoy! For me, first and foremost, it is about the Music and how I react to it. I don’t care about the labels and the sophistication. It has to move me, up or down. Period!

Now to come to the raison d’etre of Amabilis Insania. Another friend long, long ago had remarked that I should make my career in Music – not really in playing Music, but something that revolves around it – a radio DJ for instance. Now, on the wrong side of thirty, I do not harbour such illusions any more – Life happened to me while I was still making plans. But recently I realised that I could at least share some of the wonderful Music that I know and some that I discover – some greater benefit from what is purely a private affair. If you hear something new here and it touches you in some way or if you hear a long-forgotten tune and it revives some dusty memory, I can be glad that, even though I did not create it, at least I helped someone find it and in some weird way we shared a moment.

So, my dear friends, as usual I look for your indulgence! Do visit it sometimes, listen to some tunes, leave your impressions – and above all provide some encouragement to this otherwise dull and meaningless life of mine! ;)

Amabilis Insania

Visuals

Just added a new page called Visuals. Will carry specimens from my attempts at photography – with nothing more than an ordinary digital camera and a lot of luck!

(All the photos are licensed under the same license as this blog – feel free to use and copy, as long as you attribute the work to me, do not use them for commercial purposes and do not produce any derivative works based upon them.)

This has been my life

I have featured Bertrand Russell before in this post. Recently I received from a friend an excerpt of something attributed to Russell. Googling around led me to discover the prologue of Russell’s Autobiography. The prologue is called “What I have Lived for” and here is how it goes:

“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness – that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what – at last – I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”

Through this prologue Russell demonstrates how a person might live his life in the absence of god. It is a primer, a manual, a guide for the godless. And I realise that unconsciously that is how I have endeavoured to fashion my own life. Three of my greatest passions have always been love, knowledge and sympathy. To love madly without caution, without prudence, to hunger to know and learn and to feel the suffering of fellow human beings – this is what I strive to do, this is what I aspire for in my life. And it suffices. I do not have god simply because I do not see the need for it.

The End of Hibernation

A dry month later, Wasted returns to The Waste Land. Reason for the hiatus, you ask? None. Excuses? Galore!

An eventful month it has been. No actually, not that eventful. Just one event. One infinitesimal bump in the smooth waveform of the Universe! I got divorced.

We have been separated three years and this was inevitable. It was just waiting there, biding its time. (I hate to call it fate.) I have known her for more than ten years now and its sad that this is the way it had to end. But such is life. It takes its own course, quite separate from our own hopes and aspirations. And we have to play along – we have to let it take control. For fighting is futile, and quite absurd if you ask me.

It has been a wonderful ride these ten years. It had its downs and its ups. I guess, in summing up, the downs outnumbered the ups a bit. But I don’t even understand anymore whose fault it was. Let us just say, as it is often said, it didn’t work out. But rather than ‘hanging on in quiet desperation’, I decided to kill it. Am I proud of my courage? Courage, you say. It could probably be called quite the opposite. But labels do not bother me. Let us just say, I am glad I did it.

When at the court room, the judge finally, after hearing us, said, “Thik ache (All right then)! If that is the way it has to be”, relief was the first emotion that rushed into my brain, though not completely untouched by a certain inexplicable sadness. And then when outside, she took my hand in a kind of an awkward handshake and pulled me towards her and kissed me on my cheek and said something like, “Ok then. Goodbye.”, I knew an era had ended. A part of my life died then and there, like it never before had. I have lost near ones to Death before – this is the first time I lost one to Life.

But, like I said, I am glad I did it. I am glad that it is finally over and I can move on with my life. It feels like waking up, after a long hibernation, to life’s possibilities once more. Let life take me somewhere new, somewhere I have not been before. For that is the great promise of Life – Life itself.

As I find myself fond of saying nowadays, “I am ready to make my next mistake!” A haseen galti (loosely  translated as a ‘beautiful mistake’) probably!

Ramblings from the shore

"Hey Jude", he sings. But Jude isn’t here. She never was. She might still. Life still stretches before her, with all its possibilities and impossibilities. Who knows what might still happen? Did I?

Did I know I will be on the sea-side of foreign shores this humid, stubborn late evening, alone? Did I know I would burn so many bridges and clamour for new ones that will take me to my island of solitude?

"One last song for all you beautiful people out there." He is not talking to me, is he? I am ugly. Inside. I wasn’t always, you know. All these years of "scuttling across the floors of silent seas" gradually eroded the sharp, distinct features into blunt, dull, nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine-thousand-nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine-in-a-million existences.But this is the way-of-life I have accepted. This is the secret formula that men call God, Allah, Bhagavan, Jehovah, Nirvana. This is the only long and winding road to sanity amidst the milestones of absurdity that mark our paths in life.

There are two kinds of people here tonight (late evening has been roasted, toasted, grilled and fried into the night) – the others and me. The one cardinal difference that sets us apart is that they are still living patterned lives, or as much of it as they can deceive themselves to live. Me? I have surrendered to the absurdity, the chaos that life truly is. Patterns, schemes, strategies, order bother me and bore me in the long run. I would rather that every moment of my life is totally unpredictable, completely out-of-the-blue.

A breeze from the sea has started blowing, as if in protest against all the stifled conversations at the tables, to give them a salty taste of unfettered freedom. But the conversations carry on, oblivious to the motion of the breeze, of the planet, of the galaxy – oblivious to the universe itself.

I look up at the night sky at times and see myself as I am – an insignificant grain of sand on the shores of the cosmic ocean. And that is the only time I feel true happiness – the way it was ordained to be. That and when I contemplate Death – the true deliverer. I am always happy when I think about my impending death. I am not trying to hasten it, far from that. I know it will come one day, "unannounced, unplanned for, like a scaring over-friendly guest you’ve brought to bed". I just don’t forget Death, like them.

The breeze keeps up its efforts. But the conversations don’t relent. The night has settled down on the tents on the beach, on the trees, on the gloomy lights, on the tables, on the cigarette butts, on the half-empty glasses, on the sand and on the breeze itself, except on the pungent conversations. Must the breeze lose out this way every night? Must no one ever smell its fragrance of faraway lands, of refreshing promises, of lives other than our own?

I will never know. But my time is up. It is time I went back to the four walls I call home.

Friends with detriments

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
I just can’t stop laughing at this one – and I am not going to explain why! (Wink wink!)

friends.png

© xkcd
[UPDATE: And here's a woman's perspective about opposite gender platonic friendships! Thanks Prasun for the link!]