Saturday, December 31, 2005
We do it each year. Don't we? Every day. This is the triumph of human spirit. We fall and we rise. We had the gruesome London bombings. Faced havoc in a devastating earthquake in Kashmir and Pakistan. Katrina struck the US gulf. Planes came crashing down. We still continue to live. The show, as they say, must go on. Humanity at its best.
I enjoy each year. Every new year is just the first day for me for another 365-day trip around the sun. I can't introspect. I can't remember in one sweeping moment the whole of the year by-gone. That is for the newspapers and television channels to cronicle. For internet to record for posterity. I am not an almanac. I am just happy. I'll have a little bash with chums tonight.
I met a wonderful friend in 2005. I got a couple of salary hikes in 2005. Got a new car in 2005. I have sobered down in the year petering away. I didn't indulge too much and I read a few very good works. Chanced upon a few incredible movies and continued to dream.
I wish 2006 is good for us all. I wish my friends love and peace. I wish all girls lotsa kisses.
For the next 12 months, 12 naive wishes:
May Bush continue to be stupid
May Manmohan Singh take India to new heights
May God completely forget about calamities
May BJP chaps fight it out among themselves
May we have more stings to expose the corrupt
May Amitabh get well soon
May we have more of Blacks and Brokebacks
May Osama declare truce and take to farming
May we have more sizzling girls around
May they find a cure for AIDS
May Vikram Seth write more books
May my coy friend continue to be beautiful!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
in quiet English winters
and flutters grow wild
over cosy feather beds
A quiet child tiptoes to loo
on cold zig-zag tiles
teensy slabs smile
at the kid's tender soles
A wince they send
to the sole's soul
an icky snuffle starts
that soon conspires
to spread like bush fire
and floors the entire household!
Thats what you call the English cold!
She was like all mom's of the world. Loving, beautiful and the world's best cook. I was fed like a king's ram. No one counted the calories back then. Good old days. I was born with a silver spoon clutched tightly in between my teeth.
Mom married Dad in 1977. It was a love affair. A love-affair in the 1970's Kashmir. To put things in context, a run-away marriage in Kashmir's conservative society even in circa 2005 is quiet unthinkable of. At 22 years of age in the fall of 1977, she married my Dad. In a court. Only my dad's two buddies attended. None from my father's rich landlord clan. No soul from my mother's educated, aristrocratic household. Complete filmi style. Only difference was this was real! I still call my father's friend Chacha Jee -- Uncle -- because I didn't know my real uncle's for a long time.
Extra-ordinary lady. Well that is a tad cliche' now. She was elegant. There was this extreme pallor of her face and a serene dignity that she seemed to carry so well like her cape shawl. She would never go to her rich dad's home. They had to come to our city apartment. She ensured that I got the best tutors -- only Hindu teacher's cos' they were considered more intellegent. And I had to eat and study and brush my teeth twice a day -- another rarity in Kashmir -- and if I got any spare time, pore through Tintin, Archies and Astrix comics, which -- later on -- our foriegn uncle would bring us.
My friends -- I just have 4 good one's -- loved her. She laughed and joked with them, endlessly. She would floor people with her wit. I have some of those funny bones in me. Mom was religious also. Perhaps one of the few souls, I know of, who was at once, religious and secular. Sikhs and Hindus would eat from the same plate in our home, as we did. She taught me that it is important to be a better human being before I try to be a better Muslim. I know this lesson, by heart. I think I have a more profound understanding of mankind than my faith.
On Dec 28, 1997 she met with a terrible accident. The candle blew out long before the legendary wind. I miss her affection, love and joviality. My mom had an incredible sense of humour. She now jokes with the angels in paradise.
The mother who conceals her grief
which to her chest her son she presses
Then breathes a few brave words and brief
kissing the brow she blesses
with no one but her secret God
To know the pain that weighs upon her
Sheds holy blood upon the sod
received on freedom's field of honor
Mom, 28 Sep 1955- 28 Dec 1997, RIP
Monday, December 26, 2005
You were not same as you are
you had not liked me that way
you were not a part of myself
you had not to finally go away
I wish I never meshed with you
and I were not so vulnerable
I never depended on you
and I were not so miserable
we didn't share things with each other
we didn't think our future together
we didn't listen to each other's silence
we didn't have to pass as cursed weather
even if there's no "me" now nor there's any "you" left
an "us" still hides
somewhere amidst nothingness love-bereft
I know my wishes are not to come true
if possible you'll please try
to take as much of what you left
and take someday my breath away
And here's what I have to say to you friend:
I wish I had met you before
to know what love is like
to learn to love with eyes
to understand the meaning of silence
to fathom the pangs of seperation
I wish I had met you before
to latch onto your soul a little earlier
to save you the pain you've been through
to protect you from thorns and thistles
to clutch you when you needed a hand
I wish I had met you before
to cover you in those storms
to keep you warm on bitter nights
to be your shade in the glare
to hear to your heart's song
I wish I had met you before
to love you like no one else
to kiss your apple-pie neck
to hold you in my arms
to never ever let you go
I wish I had met you before
to never let you feel miserable
to always brush your tear away
to never allow you to be vulnerable
to laugh, to talk, to love you
I wish you live to see
the wishes coming true
to smile and never again cry
to say in hushed breaths
God, thank you, for this mad guy!
Friday, December 23, 2005
As the oceans and mountains part us
And hold on to my rhymes
as flowers hold the truss
Ye are far and yet so near
Mingled in my tune
I would fly, if I had wings
to the land of queens and kings
To watch you over in the water;
the soft cadences of your laughter
I miss the blue and black of your eyes
that mellows hearts with all their vice
My affable little swain
Without you, it won't even rain
It is foggy and it is damp
I long for the distant lamp
How I miss ya
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I often ask myself, What is love? I flunk to answer. I also flunk to understand the chemistry of it. Or is it Physics? I think it is a lot of chemical reactions going on at random in your mind. Flux. All the time. It needs no outside catalysts, mind you. It happens in any given condition. Sunshine or moonshine or pitch-dark nights. It just happens to you. In the middle of a dream or a fairy-tale movie. In a cocoa smelling cafe' when someone watches you from the corner of the eye. Probably due to its large psychological relevance, love is one of the most common themes in cultures, the world over.
Is it the most profoundly integrated state in the universe? I think it is simultaneously the highest, deepest and most powerful state of consciousness. And Trust me, I am not aggrandizing. I don't do that. I recall Khalil Gibran, one of the best philophers of last century.
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
As the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth
So is he for your pruning.
The lebanese thinker perhaps put it right. I know, Love is like heaven but it can also hurt like hell. So if you are smitten with cupid's arrow, you tread a delicate turnspike, one that is at once beautiful, enchanting but threadbare. It is a different, mad, sudden, blessed, edgy feeling!
I thought and thought and thought! I concluded thus: it is about Care. It is about looking at the Sun-downs, about walking together and talking through eyes without uttering a word. It is being together, without seeing each other for aeons. It is magic without magical spells. It is a cake. Don't worry. That is some crazy stuff in my head and that is vintage me!
Monday, December 19, 2005
It is cold outside. I just stepped out and found the day tenderly overcast. The fluffy, dark clouds look mournful. Mourning Summer, perhaps. Reminds me of NY. How I wish it rains now! I want God to be benevolent, however. I know when it rains, homeless folks, on the pavements and sidewalks of this huge city, shiver in cold. But I like rains, I like the feeling of getting wet. I cry -- at times -- in the godly shower because no body can see me crying.
Tears idle tears I know not what they mean
gather in the heart and rise to the eyes
I don't have a reason to cry. Still I do. My pals don't know this side of me. Most of the time, I make them laugh. In cafe's and clubs. At home and away. We joke and have fun. Like a jester -- a clown -- in some ancient king's court. Sam's brand of sharp, witty humour, they yell.
In private -- at times -- on dark evenings and rainy days, I sob. I cry for my mom. Her love. She should not have left me like this in a big, bad world. Unloved and unprotected. God, not fair!
I love strange and beauteous things. Like...people who don't love me. Birds. Trees. Rain. Sun-set. Snow. Books. Fish. Flowers. Dew. Friends. Twilight. Honesty. Life.
I dreamt a beautiful dream last night. I was on a carriage. It was going to a snow-land. It was fitted with lights and bells. It gallopped. To Kashmir. To NY. God knows. Santa waved to me on the way. I trundled on.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
However they may be, or not, related.
Remember that the three wise kings were strangers
In search of one remote, uncanny dream.
So may we all be far more than we seem,
Together bound for dark and haunting changes,
More lovely for the loves we have created
Along the lonely paths from means to ends,
Stumbling towards that star of Bethlehem.
God bless us all
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I cannot tell you who my soul-mate is. I respect the element of privacy. Frankly it is about us, not me only. I wish I could. However, I will leave a couple of clues -- thats all I can contrive to do -- for you to sort that out. A la Da Vinci code style. Hope you decipher the little riddle.
- Mon ami -- that is my friend in French -- has the world's most beautiful eyes
- And a quietness that gives nothing away: Nothing
- Will innocently tell you dates of every meeting (keep that in mind)
- Listens and listens like a former prime minister and speaks like a dove (
- Likes to call me weirdo, madcap, stupid (anyone callin me that, you got'em)
- Kid at heart, balanced in head and saccharine teeth (doesn't bite)
- Difficult. I serenaded, cajoled, woo-ed like mad
- Tells me won't marry me at all -- Not at Naigra falls, Canada or Navy Pier, California ( a tad un-romantic)
Happy cracking the code, folks. You can't I know!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
It was a Kiss. They say soul meets soul on lovers lips. I reckon they -- whoever they are -- are right. I hadn't expected it but then we never expect to watch a shooting star. Or catch a gold-fish. Or fall in first-love. This is the exotic fragrance, of sweat, of hair, of mouths, of breaths that stays for ever.
Lovers intertwine. They grow on each other. That is called a Hug. It is different from a bear-hug. It has shades of ecstacy to it. Bits of longing. Oodles of joy to it. It was not even a bunny hug. It was a love-cuddle. A sweet embrace.
Then marks sprang on the skin. Plebians call them love-bites. I gave them. Deliberately. I hope the feeling has seeped in below the marks. I wish it mingles in the maroon -- rouge -- blood. It flows in someone's nerves now. I think I have a second heart that flutters in me, remembers the whispers, and adds to my entropy.
Do I need say more? I think many people read me here. I must stop in my tracks.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Along the fields so vast
the bus carried him fast
Bleary eyes and a million dreams
that lit up in Sun's orange beams
Fimiliar smells in the old eateries
similar roads, known skies, common trees
Home is such a great escapade
away from life's wacky trade
The laughter and endless chatter
Baked beans and rice flakes on the platter
The rickety bus roared back to Delhi
With hopes in heart n love in the belly!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Thats what unites the children of this beauteous world. Play. Innocence. Love.
In adults this streak gives away to double-standards, greed and vice. I hope I always remain a child from within.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Hugging communicates at the deepest level of emotion. With a hug, we embrace the whole of life. The language of hugs nourishes the spirit. A good touch always works wonders.
Touch can relieve pain and anxiety. It stabilizes heart rates and soul mates. It is needed in potato farms and paper homes.
Hugging is a very special form of touch that heals hearts. Hugs make us more safe, secure and strong. A simple hug leads to trust, belonging, happiness and appreciation. And Love.
A friend will never put you down or make you feel alone
A friend is the one who picks you up when you've fallen on the ground
So when you think you're on your own and wish you had a helping hand
Because the world is full of people who will laughingly pretend,
Monday, December 05, 2005
and pierced my jersey
I waited for the carriage
on a dark wintry night
The dulcet laughter won't go
nor would the sweet smell of thee
candied whispers reeled in my head
endlessly and in full circles
If I were my consort
I would travel to world's edge
just to see bee-two's back
ambling safely to thy abode
Alas... I tarried!
Lovelorn flutters in a loveless land
loving hopes in a hopeless dream
tender hollers in dead woods
coot sam calling out in vain
Why do I love
Why do I sigh
Why do I expect
Why do I muse
If I could fly like potter
I'd hover in the skies
and dance in the clouds
with angels and birds
And I won't shiver in cold!
Saturday, December 03, 2005
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died
1. Prince Charles got married (again)
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe (again)
3. Australia lost the Ashes (again)
4. Pope Died (again)
Moral of the story –
In future, if Prince Charles decides to re-marry.... please warn the Pope.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I once had a friend who grew to be very close to me. Once when we were sitting at the edge of a swimming pool, she filled the palm of her hand with some water and held it before me, and said this: "You see this water carefully contained on my hand? It symbolizes Love."
This was how I saw it: As long as you keep your hand caringly open and allow it to remain there, it will always be there. However, if you attempt to close your fingers round it and try to posses it, it will spill through the first cracks it finds.
This is the greatest mistake that people do when they meet love...they try to posses it, they demand, they expect... and just like the water spilling out of your hand, love will retrieve from you .
For love is meant to be free, you cannot change its nature. If there are people you love, allow them to be free beings. Give and don't expect. Advise, but don't order. Ask, but never demand.
It might sound simple, but it is a lesson that may take a lifetime to truly practice. It is the secret to true love. To truly practice it, you must sincerely feel no expectations from those who you love, and yet an unconditional caring."
Life is beautiful!!! Live it !!!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Tugging at my heart
It lingers in my room
Even when we are apart
Heart aches for you
This lonely night
I don't know what to do
To set the canvass right
Thoughts of you linger
Weighing upon my mind
Giving you all the love
Is all I long to do
Monday, November 28, 2005
Apologies for all my blabber.
Friendship is like the breeze, You can't hold it, Smell it, Taste it, Or know when it's coming But you can always feel it.
Have you ever felt like you knew someone a long, long time ago? Another place, another time, a friendship of souls? Two people who share a bond for reasons neither know, A feeling that they were friends, a long long time ago?
Did they stumble onto each other by pure circumstance, Or was it fate and destiny that played a certian hand? Two souls interwined, they are worlds apart, But the soul, it knows no difference, in matters of the heart. Somehow they are drawn together, fate has brought them back, each living worlds apart, they journey seperate paths. When this life is over, and a new life begins, Their souls will find each other, two souls that we call friends.
I was not even looking for a friend and I found you!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, to commemorate the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony after a harsh winter. In that year Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians.
Now the US loves Thanksgiving. Families get together for dinners. It has become a commercial event, like all fests. Football is a must on this day. Shopping is at an all time high. Sales go up, spirits go up and overworked Americans take a long weekend -- four days -- off. A rather peculiar feature of the Thanksgiving day is 'Presidential pardon'. Each year the President of the United States pardons a turkey before Thanksgiving at a White House ceremony. In 2005, President Bush gave two turkeys named Marshmallow and Yam a last-minute reprieve. The two turkeys hail from Henning, Minnesota. The Turkeys will be fed and taken care of by a dedicated staff till the birds live.
Wonder, Bush has no heart for fellow humans, who continue to die because of his flawed policies.
Mad, mad world.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Last time I went home, papa asked me to go and see her. They are his friends. She sat in a large room -- with little light -- on a hand-woven, simple rug. She told me that she was very happy for me. "It is good that you are away and safe." (Kashmir still is a bloody violent place). She looked a little glum in her blue eyes but in no mood to die.
"You know Khazir?" she asked.
"Khazir, err, Kha....," I said before being interrupted.
"You won't know him. You have been away for so long. He is my niece's second cousin who sells candy in his little store just around the bend."
"So what about him?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to tell you that he sells the best candy. Not that 50 paisa candy which is available everywhere. Times have changed. These new boys are selling good stuff. Eclairs and all."
I think Khazir was something like the Sopore version of Hope and Greenwood in Covent Garden, London. I was mentally comparing them.
She offered me tea, which she made with such ancient love. It didn't taste good at all but I pretended not to mind. She prattled on for nearly an hour, giving me no time to speak or explain anything. Much of what she said was pure poppycock. She revealed that their cow has been behaving oddly these days. "It must be pregnant, old fat thing. I saw a black-and-white calf in my dream," she added.
After a while I sought permission to leave because I was expected for lunch elsewhere. She insisted that I must have lunch with her. I politely declined.
She saw me off at the door, asking me to see her again before I fly out. I said OK. I didn't keep my word. I feel somewhat bad, I couldn't.
On November 21, 2005, the unmarried 68-year old, kind and affectionate aunty died peacefully in her sleep. I don't even know if the calf really was black-and-white.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoonto help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to theroom's only window.The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.The men talked for hours on end.They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs,their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up,he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periodswhere his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activityand color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their modelboats.Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and afine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, theman on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imaginethe picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. Inhis mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it withdescriptive words. Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their bathsonly to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who haddied peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called thehospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could bemoved next to the window.The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he wascomfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take hisfirst look at the real world outside.He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderfulthings outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see thewall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
Epilogue: "There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations" "Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled""If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy""Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present."
A look at a map of the world and you will find Indonesia on the eastern side of the earth. The major cities of Indonesia are Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Saibil. As soon as dawn breaks on the easternside Of Saibil, at approximately 5:30 am local time, Fajar Aazaan -- Muslim call for Prayer -- begins. Thousands of Muezzins -- those who give the call -- in Indonesia begin reciting the Aazaan. The process advances towards West Indonesia.
One and a half hours After the Aazaan has been completed in Saibil, itechoes in Jakarta. Sumatra then follows suit and before this process of calling Aazaan ends in Indonesia, it has already begun inMalaysia. Burma is next in line, and within an hour of its beginning in Jakarta, It reaches Dacca, the capital city of Bangladesh. After Bangladesh, it has already prevailed in western India, from Calcutta to Srinagar.
It then advances towards Mumbai (Bombay). Srinagar and Sialkot (a north city inPakistan) have the same timing for Aazaan. The time difference between Sialkot, Quetta, and Karachi is forty minutes, and within this time, FajarAazaan is heard throughout Pakistan. Before it ends there, it has alreadybegun in Afghanistan and Muscat.
The time difference Between Muscat and Baghdad is one hour. Aazaan resounds during this one hour in the environments of Hijaaz-e-Muqaddas (cities of Makkah and Madinah), Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait andIraq. The time difference between Baghdad and Alexandria in Egypt is again one hour. Aazaan continues to resound in Syria, Egypt, Somalia and Sudan during this hour. The time difference between eastern and WesternTurkey is one and a half hours, and during this time it is echoed with the call to prayer.
Alexandria and Tripoli -- capital of Libya-- are located at one hour's difference. The process of calling Aazaan thus continues throughout the whole of Africa. Therefore, the proclamation of the "Tawheed" and "Risaalat"that had begun in Indonesia reaches the eastern shore of the Atlantic ocean after nine and half hours.
Prior to the Aazaan reaching the shores of the Atlantic, the process of"Zohar Aazaan" has already started in east Indonesia, and before it reaches Dacca, "Asr Aazaan" has started. This has hardly reached Jakarta one and half hours later, the time of "Maghrib" becomes due, and no sooner has "Maghrib" time reached Sumatra, the time for calling "Isha Aazaan" has commenced in Saibil! The cycle continues.
When the Muazzins of Indonesia are calling out "Fajar Aazaan", the AfricanMuazzins are calling the Aazaan for Isha. If we were to ponder over this phenomenon thoughtfully, we would conclude the amazing fact that there is not even a single moment when hundreds of thousands of Muazzins around the world are not reciting the Aazaan on the surface of this earth.
Adapted: With Thanks Isra
Monday, November 21, 2005
Thursday, November 17, 2005
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright.
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Hath led me—who knows how?
To thy chamber window, Sweet!
Les mots de Shelley, Mon poète préféré
Monday, November 14, 2005
Mates, I am back and I am being a lil philosophical today. Bear me like this, for a while!
I was in a windswept land. It was cold but serene. They say it rained fire in the countryside and there are occassional booms, that takes the wit out of you but lucikly I saw none. I was too engrossed with myself to notice all that. I met some loving people. I have already known them. They are the reason, I continue to live and love.
I was also jilted -- poem expresses it -- by someone, I hadn't expected to. I took it. I can't say no to what life proffers. The courageous amongst us are those who fall down and get up. To start it over again. I still retain the beauty I feel beneath my skin. I still like the dreams, I lived through!
I am back to work. Day 1 was easy. Day two... the squeeze starts. I'll cope. I know Sam.
Till next time
Monday, October 31, 2005
I am off to a Vacation!!!
In the land of scoreful faiths, celebrating the greatest festival!
Some joys spill love loads
on a love lorn world
Touch us in ways unknown
to rekindle our soul
When lights, glows & wicks
Lap the lands,over
Moments which one wished
stay on for ever
Endless stars and sparkles,
dazzle in the night sky
Big bangs rent the skies
to a myriad eager claps
When a hug undoes hatred
when blooms wipe off bombs
When sweets mix with smiles
and joys meld with love
It is Diwali time folks,
when God loves our shimmer
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
'Birds with Broken Wings'. Last night, over a tall glass of lemonade, a friend used that term. Innocuously. It struck a chord.
I've often tried to find reason with many things. Like a friend, I met recently and have started to like. I believe that people enter our lives for a reason. You may only understand the reason after they have left or you may never understand. Friends are Godsent. I believe mine are. They have all played a role in opening a part of me up. Of forming me into the person I am at this moment. With their quirks and wild ideas. I love them all!
I have also come to realize that we all have a few lose bolts upstairs. If we did not...we would not be human. And although the term was intended for women; we all are Birds with Broken Wings.
The day races rapidly in my thoughts as I close my eyes.
Slowly, I am lulled into a peaceful sleep.
I hear vibrant music - so full of passion.
I feel the warmth of the sun’s rays that grace my presence.
I see kind, adoring eyes gazing back into mine.
The air is full happiness - so much laughter.
Soft caresses are exchanged.
At this moment, life could not be any more wonderful.
A thin line of love and friendship gets crossed,
and two single souls find a home to share eternity.
Birds begin to proudly serenade the morning dawn.
Lonesome roads slowly progress into distinguished passageways.
Light peeps through my mind and I awaken to a new day.
I am ready to endure what the day brings for me,
because I know that I am a twerp
but I know extraordinary love when I sleep.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
During the weekend, I was hoping to go hopping. I didn't expect a sudden encounter. I was looking shabby and grungy. And then a special friend called up. We need to meet, I was told. I couldn't say no. I am glad I didn't say so!
We went to a restaurant built upon aesthetic compages. The food didn't matter much but the environment and the company was lovely. I could have hung on for ages. The crooners and the music they made was simply sensational. Most of the songs they sang were my favourite. For a while my pallet forgot to function. It was astonishing to hear them sing in many different hues. It was a shame that the two hours of dinner ended as quickly as a cat can blink her eye. This was one of the most enjoyable times I had after such a long time!
I must add that it is so important to find good friends, friends good at heart. And my newest friend has been so very comforting. We seem to have clicked so well and I hope I go on like this. There is none of the artificialities of the parties I go to, none of the gloss of the gals I date, and none of the affectations of my journalistic rigor. This is different. It has none of that fakeness. I could feel the warmth, one can warm by and those stealing glances.
Blue-brown images of the evening flickered in my mind as I lay on my bed reading 'Clash of Fundamentalisms'that evening. The book, though an interesting take on global politics, was getting a little drab.
There is a certain magical feeling about this camaraderie, I cannot quite fathom. Don't want to!
Monday, October 24, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
and spoke his heart
Then cried in pain
and left a mark
In classes and corners
upon hopes and dreams
He loved them all
and left a trace
Across angry seas
and tough nights
He thought of them
and dropped a tear
In rainy moments
on moonless nights
He recalled the kiss
and said a prayer
He is the sweetest of them all
and the nicest of the lot
He is my friend
and I call him Jits
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
The bombs go off
The legs go off
The heads go off
The arms go off
The feet go off
The light goes out
The heads go off
The legs go off
The lust is up
The dead are dirt
The lights go out
The dead are dust
A man bows down before another man
And sucks his lust
Against the US invasion of Iraq
Pinter got the Nobel prize for literature, 2005
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Imagine sleeping out in the open in temperatures touching freezing. Creepy. In the rugged mountains and ruined alleys of Pakistan and Kashmir, an estimated 2.5 million homeless, have been sleeping in the chill for over a week now. With little aid and no roof over their head, these crestfallen people are facing the worst nightmare of their lives. They have lost their children, their extended families, all their belongings are gone. Now they are completely at nature's mercy. As one victim puts it, "It is beyond pain". I can only agree!
"There were up to two million people left homeless by the tsunami, which was spread out over many countries. But just in Pakistan, the government estimates that there are 2.5 million people who are displaced and many more need assistance," notes Mercy Corps' Global Communication Officer Cassandra Nelson. Many journalists, relief workers and aid agencies vouch that the intensity of the Quake and widespread deadh and pain will change them for ever. Already people are calling it one of the worst-ever Quakes ever.
UNICEF said nearly half of those affected by last weekend's quake are under 18 and that the international relief effort must focus on keeping children alive in the weeks ahead. "With wintry conditions arriving in the higher elevations, children are facing a potentially deadly combination of cold, malnutrition, and disease," UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said in a statement.
As I post, there are reports that it is raining in Muzzafarabad, the worst-hit area in the Quake. It couldn't have been worse for these blokes. Friedrich Nietzsche once marked," The miserable have no other medicine but hope."
These folks have our prayers and that Hope!
Friday, October 14, 2005
India calls Kashmir its integral territory. Talk Kashmir in any nook of India and you will have people drawn in. The government apparently sends subsidized goods to the Himalayan Kingdom and swears by its Kashmir connection. Ordinary people in India will have you believe that Kashmiris are as Indian as any Gujarati or South Indian. I am afraid that may not be the case. Saturday's Quake in Kashmir tells a different tale. As someone rightly put it," When mistrust comes in, love goes out."
None except the federal government came forward to help the hapless Kashmiris in the biggest catastrophe of their lives. I'm sure even the government was driven by political compulsions, because a civil society is a reflection of its government. When the people are apathetic and flunk to be touched by a disaster of such magnitude in their own country, I guess the government can't be blamed much. The Quake in Kashmir was as powerful as the Bhuj Quake in Gujarat some years back. Yet none of that urgency is in sight, anywhere.
There are no mass donation camps. No Banners. No school drives. No relief caravans en route. No newspaper and TV sensitization. No Bollywood -- Indian film Industry -- rallies to rally people. Ziltch corporate contibution. Isn't this place the paradise where the entire Indian upper class en mass honeymooned. The land of greens and golf-courses. Why did we abandon the tall pines around which countless songs of Hindi films were shot? This was Nehru's favourite abode. Where Indian leaders of every fibre used to ponder for endless hours. Isn't this place the bone of contention between India and Pakistan, which both claim as their own. I thought India fought wars for this swathe of land.
Why are the Indians so cut-off from People they consider their own? Why this gross indifference? Contrast the Quake with Gujarat. Cynics would say that Gujarat Quake killed more people and recent Tsunami affected more lives. Yet we forget that the people severely hit in Kashmir are only the poor. They inhabit one of the world's most difficult terrians. This compounds the misery, many-fold. And a human life is as precious in the shores of south India as the snow-capped peaks of Kashmir.
The average Kashmiri has been alienated from India since partition. While the Army's stupendous role in the Quake-hit areas has melted many hearts, what baffles Kashmiris today is the total lack of identification by the ordinary Indian. They are begining to believe that inspite of all the lip-service and the our people poppycock, there is no love lost between Kashmir and India. Once again, at the hight of a terrible human tragedy, Kashmiris feel alone. Forsaken.
Till the violent faultlines in Kashmir crack again!
India, Kashmir beckons.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Harrold Pinter, Playwright, author and poet has been awarded the Nobel prize for Literature for 2005. Pinter is an avowed critic of the Iraq war and famously called President Bush a mass murderer and Blair a deluded idiot.
Pinter's works include The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter and The Caretaker. He is credited as someone who restored the art form of theatre. In its citation, the Academy said Pinter was "generally seen as the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century," and declared him to be an author who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms.
The son of immigrant Jewish parents, Pinter was born in Hackney, London on October 10, 1930. In 2002, Pinter was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and underwent a course of chemotherapy, which he described as a "personal nightmare". "I've been through the valley of the shadow of death," Harrold said afterwards.
The violent shakings of the tremblor are still fresh in their minds. On the fifth day of the Quake, after-shocks continue to rock the South Asian region. Relief is steady, pouring in from different parts of the globe. Local populations have heroically risen to the occassion. In both India and Pakistan, armed forces have come to the fore and are at the centre of rescue work. Needless to say, army is perhaps the last functioning institution in a land, where every other structure seems to have come crashing down.
The upshot of Nature's saturday morning fury has been overwhelming. People have been touched by the unprecedented scale of the disaster. Humanitarian assistance like food, warm clothing, water, blankets, tarapaulin sheets, tents and sheer goodwill is being hurried to ground zero. Gladdening to see aid workers and rescuers outstretching in their collective efforts to give succor to the victims. The British and the Americans are working with the Koreans and Iranians in a zone where nationalities have ceased to exist, if only temporarily. Indian troops have crossed over to Pakisan-administered Kashmir and helped their Pakistan counterparts.
Journalists have done some exemplary work. Leise Ducet of BBC, Betty Anderson of CNN and countless others reported non-stop to bring the plight and the miseries of people to world-attention. Major TV channels and world newspapers like the Guardian, NY times among others pulled all stops to give extensive coverage to the event. The tears and pain were zoomed right into the board rooms and drawing rooms of us all. We owe to the media to sensitise us about the plight of ours brothers and sisters. For once my profession makes me feel proud.
However, the key to all the good work being done is proper co-ordination. Pakistan and Kashmir need a disciplined, well co-ordinated and effective aid effort. Many a times, large scale aid efforts by NGO's, government and foriegn charities, coupled with volunteers rushing to help ends up at the same place. We must aviod bumping across each other for this noble cause. Aid must reach all those who need it in all the places. That is where co-ordination is the key.
The UN said Wednesday that the rescue and relief operations in Pakistan following the earthquake is beyond the means of any government. That is little respite for the authorities. The governments of Pakistan and Kashmir must get their act right. Relief has to be routed through proper channels and in a syncronised fashion. Distribution has to be even and orderly. Army can play an instrumental role here. Prez Musharaf in a televised address last night said that pointsmen have been appointed and relief will be co-ordinated. Better late than never.
Every effort at any level is welcome, as long as it brushes a tear away and saves a precious life.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
It has been almost five days since the land called God's paradise convulsed. Hopes and dreams still lay interred in the cataclysmic turn of events. Rescue and relief work is going on at frenzied spree. The scale of devastation in Kashmir and Pakistan has been super-colossal. Nothing that this region had known of in ages. The stories of human misery are slowly becoming evident from across the line that divides the two Kashmirs. A quirk of fate seperated this himalayan state close to sixty years ago. A nation was split at its belly. It took a devastating earthquake on the Saturday morning to uncork some of those past demons.
Mutual distrust and acrimony in both countries -- India and Pakisntan -- have thus far meant that no planes from Indian Air force have flown over Pakistan airspace in years. Such has been the nature of our relations. The quake changed it all. India airlifted on Tuesday the first consignment of 25 tonnes of relief material to quake-hit Pakistan in what is considered to be the first humanitarian assistance from New Delhi to Islamabad. Pakistan is still wary of allowing Indian relief teams to cross over to the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, to attend to the villagers, who are more easily accessible from the Indian part of Kashmir. The ghosts are too strong to be forgone so easily. Politics goes in parallel to the pain.
At a more plebian level, people continue to suffer. Our relative, the lady teacher in Muzzafarabad, who went missing the other day, as she left to teach has been found dead. Her fountain-pen tightly clutched in her hand. One of the 40,000 estimated people dead. This capital of Pakistan Kashmir of 0.2 million is no more a city of the living. It is almost a graveyard now. Bodies can be seen everywhere, on roads, streets and under the debris of devastated buildings. In Balakote, Pakistan two school-schildren were pulled out alive after four days.
Extra-ordinary tales of individual courage and determination swells the heart with pride and forces a tear out. Ordinary folks with bare hands and extraordinary courage doing the impossible. The UK and other countries have been helping in the race against time and life. US cargo helicopters are flying extra sorties and rushing medical aid and food to the needy in the far-flung areas of Tribal Pakistan. Ironically the Americans are hated in these badlands. In Indian Kashmir, Indian Army and civilains, who have a hate-hate relationship, are helping each other. Indian Air force choppers have been air dropping food packets and shroud cloth in the high reaches of Kashmir. For once, no one is an enemy. I still believe that all of us are humans in the first place.
My heart sobs. I pray for Socale.
Yousuf Jameel reporting in Time mag.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Kashmir on Oct 8,2005
The ground beneath their feet shook. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale hit Kashmir -- my home -- and Pakistan. It took little under a minute to undo what was carefully assembled over endless years of hard work. Homes came crumbling down, trees shook, turnpikes were ripped open as if sliced by a some piked object. The epicentre was in Kashmir, that is the Pakistan-administered part of it and the shock waves sent people scurrying for cover in places as far as New Delhi.
Quakes shake consciences. It shook the whole of valley and Pakistan to its innards. Hundreds of thousands died. They say more than 15,000 may have perished in Muzzafarabad alone. One of our relatives -- living in Muzzafarabad -- told my family over telephone that his teacher wife was missing. He fears the worst. She is among the countless unaccounted for. Nature's fury is cadaverous, merciless. It leaves children and the sick trampled in its tracks. Thats exactly what happened in Kashmir. School children are still buried in the rubble of their classrooms and dormitories,the state administration is dazed, too paralysed to act.
I talked to my family many times over on Phone. I called up my friends in Kashmir also. They are all in a state of shock. Traumatised and scared. I think it is natural after a major accident for people to behave like that. I'm stressed out -- away from home -- watching the horror unfold on my TV. Sheer imagery of people, blood still dripping, being carried away, of women wailing, of the sick shivering in the cold. It looks a slice of the Armageddon but this pain is too real to be passed over.
I was informed that my bedroom -- back home -- has developed cracks. All books fell off my book racks and piled up on floor. "Only a copy of the Holy Q'uran remained on the shelf," my little sister added. I could only gasp. I don't believe in such stuff but in times of great adversity, only the unpalatable becomes palatable. Like a guy who was pulled out out the ruins of a multi-storied apartment building in Islamabad, yesterday, three days after the quake.
Grisly stories of mother's spitting in their kids mouth to keep them moist and people staying out in the open night skies fills me with melancholy. They say it was raining and people huddled together to keep each other warm. The best of human beings comes out in the worst of times, as they say. Tremors and after-shocks continue to scare people, as I post.
The United Nations warned today that more than 2.5 million people needed shelter.
My heart goes out to the countless dead and injured.
I hope the anguish and pain is soon over.
I pray, people pick up the pieces shortly.
I yearn the flowers bloom again.
God bless them all, us all.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Turkey's Progress card
State of reforms
· Abolition of the death penalty
· Language rights for Kurds
· Greater civilian control over the military
· Release of political prisoners
· Start of economic reforms after customs union with EU in 1995. Both sides removed barriers to trade in industrial goods, while Turkey adopted EU's external tariffs for trade with non-EU countries
· Softened stance on Cyprus by backing UN-plan to unite island, though this was rejected by Greek half of island in 2004
· Adopted competition laws in 1996
Still to do
· Recognise Cyprus and open up Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot shipping and aircraft
· Loosen the military's grip on the government
· Speed up judicial reforms
· Prove that human rights are on a par with those in the EU
· Write 80,000 pages of the acquis communautaire - the EU's rule book - into Turkish law
· Scale down subsidies to industry
· Comply with EU laws in areas such as food hygiene and the environment
· Cut the budget deficit and inflation
· Open up services, such as telecoms and energy, to the EU
· Centre for European Reform
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
· Turkey faces up to 15 years of talks which will involve 35 "chapters", covering everything from free movement of goods to judicial reform. The European Commission runs the process but each chapter can only be closed with the approval of all 25 members
· Commission conducts a screening process to assess which chapters to open first."It will pry into every aspect of Turkish life," said one diplomat
· Each EU country must approve the "screening report", giving opponents a chance to use the veto or kick up a fuss
· Turkey can prompt a possible showdown and might ask for opt-outs
· Over the next year, Turkey will have to open up its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus and move towards recognising the Greek-backed government. Failure will be exploited
If talks succeed Turkey has three more hurdles:
· The commission must carry out an "absorption capacity" test, which means it will have to decide whether or not the EU can fit Turkey in
· France and Austria will hold referendums on whether to admit Turkey
· The EU must update the Nice treaty, the basis for enlargement, which may be difficult considering the rejection of the EU constitution.
Long, winding road, but many in Turkey will say worth the wait.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
This beautiful photograph was taken by the crew on board shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during reentry in 2003, during its last mission, on a cloudless day.
The picture is of Europe and Africa when the sun is setting. Half of the picture is in night. The bright dots you see are the cities' lights. The top part of Africa is the Sahara Desert . Note that the lights are already on in Holland , Paris , and Barcelona, and that's it's still daylight in Dublin , London , Lisbon , and Madrid .
The sun is still shining on the Strait of Gibraltar.The Mediterranean Sea is already in darkness. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean you can see the Azores Islands; below them to the right are the Madeira Islands ;a bit below are the Canary Islands; and further South, close to the farthest western point of Africa , are the Cape Verde Islands.
Note that the Sahara is huge and can be seen clearly both during day time and night time. To the left, on top, is Greenland , totally frozen.
Ah, the beautiful earth
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Believe in the inevitability of sucess
Understand achievement and struggle
Kill boredom. Buck the trend.
Create your own cult.
Let a thousand weeds bloom
Change icons before they change you.
Learn to swim in life, with it!
Letter from Maharaja Hari Singh to Lord Mountbatten on Pak invasion of J&K in 1947
My dear Lord Mountbatten,
I have to inform Your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my State and request the immediate assistance of your Government. As Your Excellency is aware,the State of Jammu and Kashmir has not acceded to either the Dominion of India or Pakistan. Geographically my State is contiguous with both of them. Besides, my State has a common boundary with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and with China. In their external relations the Dominion of India and Pakistan cannot ignore this fact. I wanted to take time to decide to which Dominion I should accede or whether it is not in the best interests of both the Dominions and of my State to stand independent, of course with friendly and cordial relations with both. I accordingly approached the Dominions of India and Pakistan to enter into standstill agreement with my State. The Pakistan Government accepted this arrangement. The Dominion of India desired further discussion with representatives of my Government. I could not arrange this in view of the developments indicated below. ln fact the Pakistan Goernment under the standstill agreement is operating the post and telegraph system inside the State. Though we have got a standstill agreement with the Pakistan Government, the Govemment permitted a steady and increasing strangulation of supplies like food, salt and petrol to my State.
Afridis, soldiers in plain clothes, and desperadoes with modern weapons have been allowed to infiltrate into the State, at first in the Poonch area, then from Sialkot and finally in a mass in the area adjoining-Hazara district on the Ramkote side. The result has been that the limited number of troops at the disposal of the State had to be dispersed and thus had to face the enemy at several points simultaneously, so that it has become difficult to stop the wanton destruction of life and property and the looting of the Mahura power house, which supplies electric current to the whole of Srinagar and which has been burnt. The number of women who have been kidnapped and raped makes my heart bleed. The wild forces thus let loose on the State are marching on with the aim of capturing Srinagar, the summer capital of my government, as a first step to overrunning the whole State. The mass infiltration of tribesman drawn from distant areas of the North-West Frontier Province, coming regularly in motortrucks, using the Manwehra-Mazaffarabad road and fully armed with up-to-date weapons, cannot possibly be done without the knowledge of the Provincial Govemment of the North-West Frontier Province and the Government of Pakistan. Inspite of repeated appeals made by my Government no attempt has been made to check these raiders or to stop them from coming into my State. In fact, both radio and the Press of Pakistan have reported these occurences. The Pakistan radio even put out the story that a provisional government has been set up in Kashmir. The people of my State, both Muslims and non-Muslims, generally have taken no part at all.
With the conditbns obtaining at present in my State and the great emergency of the situation as it exists, I have no option but to ask for help from the Indian Dominion. Naturally they cannot send the help asked for by me without my State acceding to the Dominion of India. I have accordingly decided to do so, and I attach the instrument of accession for acceptance by your Government. The other alternative is to leave my state and people to free booters. On this basis no civilised government can exist or be maintained.
This alternative I will never allow to happen so long as I am the ruler of the State and I have life to defend my country. I may also inform your Excellency's Government that it is my intention at once to set up an interim government and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities in this emergency with my Prime Minister.
If my State is to be saved, immediate assistance must be available at Srinagar. Mr. V.P. Menon is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and will explain it to you, if further explanation is needed.
In haste and with kindest regards,
October 26, 1947
Response from Lord Mountbatten
My dear Maharaja Sahib,
Your Highness' letter dated 26 October 1947 has been delivered to me by Mr. V.P. Menon. In the circumstances mentioned by Your Highness, my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. In consistence with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government's wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State's accession should be settled by a reference to the people.
Meanwhile, in response to Your Highness' appeal for military aid, action has been taken today to send troops of the Indian Army to Kashmir, to help your own forces to defend your territory and to protect the lives, property, and honour of your people. My Government and I note with satisfaction that Your Highness has decided to invite Sheikh Abdullah to form an interim Government to work with your Prime Minister.
October 27, 1947
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
and limps to my eye
as words hurt and fall
and blue birds bid bye
Why it betides me
lovey-dovey ol' soul
in a land very hard
I find difficult to ward
My most recent composition -- Just that I was feeling a little melancholic!
Saturday, September 24, 2005
I was walking in the rain, around noon. I love these moments. When the showers are full and I am alone. I keep humming to myself and listening to the rain. Infact it has been raining since previous night. There was lightening and thunder in the night. I was woken up by a particularly menancing, loud thunder at two in the night.
I must have been a few yards past the fated tree. A loud crashing sound made me turn -- by impulse -- 180 degree. The huge tree was crumbling. Aged and loftly, it was perhaps weakened overnight by strong gusts of wind. The rain dealt a final blow and off it came, just missing me by -- less than 6 seconds.
I usually trust my impulses. I reckon, I would have run had the tree decided to obey gravity, the very moment I was underneath it. Split-second decisions. Rushing against time. All of us do that in times of adversity. It comes naturally. But...who knows? May be I might have come under it. Injured, Dead!
I thank God, anyways. One of those moments, He likes me.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.
a langston hughes adaption