Saturday, March 31, 2007

A musical evening

Uthke mehfil se mat chale jaana,
tum se roshan ye kona kona hain

Do not ever get up and leave this heart;
it is you who lights every corner of it

Have you even seen anyone weaving something? A carpet, a mat or an intricate fabric. Well, last week I saw someone weaving magic. Upon endless soft layers. On a breezy evening that smelled of little canticles from heaven.

Venue: Ess Eff Audi; Haunt of the capital’s who’s who.
Protagonist: The inimitable Jagjit Singh. Poet. Singer. Musician. Artist. Human being.

I often notice that sometimes the shade of melody, having hovered for days on the edge of hearing, unfolds and blessedly reveals itself. That happens when someone like Jagjit starts crooning. Expect an entire audience -- which was a cocktail of teenagers with sling-bags, graceful old grannies being helped to their seats, giggly girls, top government officials, journalists, dudes -- to be completely transfixed. There is this sudden surreal feeling you get in a lonely corner of your heart: It doesn't get any better than this. You can’t help love the music he makes.

The great Plato, I recall reading sometime, said…Music and rhythm find their way into secret places of the soul. Surely so. The maestro proved the Greek guru right, once more. A live performance along with his six-man orchestra was an acoustical delight. Jagjit Singh sang from the deepest depths of his heart. That is his trademark. A fine ring of melancholy brocaded his verses. The famous humming. As if on a cue, collective excitements touch new crescendos. I like Jagjit for the simple reason that he almost single-handedly helped popularize the beautiful Urdu language -- in India -- by the soulful rendition of his Ghazals.

I listened ardently to the effortlessness with which he sang. The soft cadences of his music fill the emptiness. It fills the infinite. Humbling and elating at the same time. Wasy – mon ami – tapped his feet. It happens when you sit in company of the greats. The effect rubs off.

Aakhri hichki teray zanu pe aayee
Maut be mein shairana chahta hoo

Throes of death visit me/
As I lie next to your face
I so wish a poetic end


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Friday, March 23, 2007

A craziness called Cricket

May your pitch in the sky be evenpaced, the boundaries small and the sky always blue – Anon

If you live in the Indian sub-continent, you can’t help but allow yourself to be consumed by a certain style of crass craziness, called cricket. It is a stupid, longish, slow game -- unlike soccer or badminton -- but has an unusual tendency to take ordinary people to new levels of frenzy. There is only one topic discussed in useless government offices and swanky corporate cabins: Cricket. A billion unsolicited advises, suggestions, proposals. Every mortal has one, at least. If the home team performs well, the hoi polloi will dance as if there is no tomorrow. As if they have hit upon some instant collective jackpot. If – God forbid – the results turn out to be otherwise, all hell suddenly breaks loose. The cricketers’ homes are immediately raided, stoned and vandalized. The choicest abuse is reserved for the ballyhooed blokes.

Media, which makes a quick buck in the entire comicality, adds to the brouhaha. Two-hours to go. Screaming headlines. During these cricket matches – especially the world cup ties – religious-types are given to perform special prayers -- which is really funny -- beseeching heavens for a quick win. Another matter, the gods mostly cold-shoulder such importunity. I am astonished at this flapdoodle.

Cricket is a sport. Ok. It is not even the national game in some of these cricketing countries, where people go to stadiums to watch a game in temperatures touching 45 degree Celsius – plus 113 Fahrenheit. Acceptable. It has a mass appeal. People stay awake to follow every single bowl being bowled and every single run being run. Concedable. The plebeians name their children after wicketkeepers. Ok. Then it starts to get a little weird. People mistake the game – that is fraught with uncertainties like any other game – for some kind of a must-win gamble. It is a beautiful game but it has sadly been glorified. It is high on hype. At some point I reckon cricket has stopped being a civilized, gentleman’s game. It has long been commercialized, packaged, branded, over-puffed and promoted beyond our imagination. I don't wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions but I feel just too many people are trying to explain cricket glossary without having a bit of cricketing sense.

The world cup is on and already the fever has reached a mad pitch. Tonight, India clashes with Sri Lanka. An Indian win will mean complete hysteria. The first causality: Media. Advertisers will grin. Betting meters will go berserk. Ordinary souls will suddenly feel blessed. If India loses, expect a billion swear-words. In 19 different languages. Some 1650 dialects. United colors of insanity. God knows what else! Back in the windies, the Jamaican police are already saying that the Pakistani coach who died this week under mysterious circumstances was murdered. The once-unifying game has stooped to such shallow levels. Poor Bob Woolmer.
Godspeed Bob, go in peace.

Meanwhile…The mania persists.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Waiting for Hope

Whatever is a cruel wrong,
Whatever is unjust,
The honest years that speed along
Will trample in the dust.

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, It All Will Come Out Right.

It is an old tale from the Holy land. It is playing up yet again. It is about collective insensitivity of the entire world. The games powerful play with the powerless. The sheer peccability of it. The saga has many layers to it. Isreal's relentless aggression. Palestinian impudence. Defiant people prefering to sell their wedding rings, rather than stand in queues for UN doles. Their unstudied tears still proud. The sobs don’t bestir souls anymore. Poor, innocent folks – Palestinians -- driven out of their homes, boxed into outlying areas, outside the great Israeli Barrier. In a land, they once called their own. It defies sense, if any of that is still left intact. Shutting out three million people. Such is the texture of human mistrust. Period.

I won’t bog you down with hard stats or historicity of the middle-eastern problem. If it interests you – like me – you can do a quick google to check the exact figures. What perhaps appalls me the most is the nature of this senseless outrage. Reuters reported yesterday that harsh economic crisis in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory has now reduced many people to penury so severe they are trading in their wedding jewelry to make ends meet. Pity! They would like to make a sharp movie with such a script in the Hollywood. The only hindrance -- may be -- is this: It is not Nazi Germany -- by definition no holocaust -- and it is happening now!

The barrier being erected by Israel is an illegal, desperate attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security. Not only does it violate international law, it is seen by many worldwide to have a direct effect to pre-empt – and undermine – a final status negotiation. Worse it severely restricts Palestinians, particularly their ability to travel freely and work. It is ruining their lives, undermining their economy and driving them further down the abyss. Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent, Reuters, met a Palestinian lady, who quipped, ' I couldn't go to my cousin's wedding because we couldn't afford a gift,' a rueful smile crossing her pale face, framed by a headscarf. Another simple pleasure yanked out of an ordinary person’s life!

The United Nations – as expected -- has expressed serious concern at the Israeli continuation of barrier construction, which it believes violates international law. That is it. That is what the UN can do. Speak up a little for the defenseless. It can’t say any further, lest the US ambassador to the UN gets upset and walks away. From my interest in all things international – I can tell u – the UN chief can’t sleep properly, were such a thing to happen. So, the International Committee of the Red Cross says that the Israeli barrier 'causes serious humanitarian and legal problems' and goes "far beyond what is permissible for an occupying power". So what? Doesn’t matter.

I wish there was hope, a Palestinian gentleman says in the Reuters report. We must never deprive someone of hope... it may be all they have, I doodle.

God bless us all.


Monday, March 12, 2007

United Colors of God

There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Vanilla sky is the limit

This is one of those days; I am not sure what to squiggle. Of course I have not been scrupulous enough in writing my posts. It has been anything between a heady mix of my indolence and -- perhaps -- a lack of creative space but largely I cannot comment on why I don’t jot always. There is often this hazy degree of mystery about what one wishes to do but cannot. About why we don’t do certain things, we ought to. I reckon I am one of those blokes. I often procrastinate. That is when I miss out on the event. The spark just flies away.

I however never flunk to dream. Last night I dreamt a mischievous one. I can share only a little with you. It was a surreal serenade. Upon an ancient castle, the precincts of which smelled of lavender leaves. Eyes! I let myself be borne away by a sweet emotion. I hugged like mad. It was as if the entire world had entered a gentle twilight. I faintly recalled that love is supposed to be like this. Just that we mistake it, often enough.

By the way, our blog has gained some prominence. That is to say we have become a little famous. In a recent seminar on the ‘Impact of Internet on American Society’ held in the prestigious Martin-Luther-Universität, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, Ars Longa Vita Brevis has found a special note of recognition. Our blog has been listed under the title 2005: “Alternative media” versus Mainstream media. That is a cute pat on the back.

Back of a lazy blogger, must I add. Sky is the limit, mates.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Ah...The rain!

It has been raining intermittently for the last few days. It was drizzling last night. Needless to say, I always feel enticed to get drenched under a million tiny globs. This is a temptation, I can hardly resist. I wish it always drizzles. I stood in the rain for many such moments. Imagining old chimney’s happily piping up smoke in a distance. A flock of swallows fluttered above me in a frenzy, caught up in the rain perhaps, looking for refuge.

I feel like a rain man. I don’t know when or why I developed this bond with the clouds. James Dickey waxes eloquent; a poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning. Though it was dark and cloudy, I was transfixed by the lightning and familiar thunder of God. True, there is so much of color in Nature. Pity, we don’t look for it.

I’ll keep it short. I simply love the rain. I want the feeling of it on my face. And if they say love is shelter, I'm going to walk in the rain.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spring ode!

The world is busy
And God’s hands full
Nary a bird in sight
Nor a song to hear

It rains on roofs
With no sure eaves
Laughter muffled by noise
Teasing the good old tear

Mist in the distance
you can’t see through
These gimmies for pelf
As old as hills

'While' your time for you
Look for happiness in you
And when you are tired of you
Look up to find me there

As time swooshes past
Swifter than a falcon’s gaze
It leaves me to wonder
Am I still in this race?