Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Akbar’s court

All hail the Emperor. He is wrathful and angry and his fingers slither. There is no particular reason for his state of annoyance. He gets angry for no reason and he drowns you in the choicest of abuse in chaste Kashmiri. There must have been a nursery of compulsory curses the Emperor attended. He is a complete natural.

Talking of fingers, it is to his credit that showing middle finger is again fashionable in august gatherings. Not that there are no females around but you see when the going gets tough, they say, the tough get going. Mastoorat due to sheer dint of the fact that they made themselves available in the court have no choice but to crane their necks and look at the ground beneath their feet.

You may be a Molvi or a miscreant, the Emperor’s vituperation is abounded. He sees no class or creed. He asks his men-at-arms to bundle you up like good old school ata-savaair (piggyback) days, regardless of your age. So the next time you wish to stand up on your feet and question him about the poor quality of his hair-dye, remember he can run roughshod over you and your observations.

And my poor scribes (the ones who sit in the court taking down notes, which I frankly reckon is a boring proposition) don’t think you are immune. Be careful with your quills and inkpots. Hell hath no fury like a bespectacled Emperor scorned. We know that you are just doing your job but bear in mind that the Emperor controls everything. Including you.

© Sameer

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kierkegaard in my plane

On a plane recently, flying somewhere over the Persian sea, I buried myself in Kierkegaard, a gift by an erudite friend, whom I have come to like. The Danish existentialist whose work was hugely inflected by overtly theological colors (he attacked the Church but believed in faith and creator), claims that the praise of erotic love and friendship belong to paganism. In Kierkegaard’s other book Works of Love, perhaps, he contrasts natural loves to love for God, I recall. Thinkers!

From the corner of my eye I detected a bright orange glow had lit the wingspan up. Looking out of the airplane window at the unending, irregular clouds, I felt an urgent twinge in my heart. The big maroon sun had just set and the sky appeared like wounded twilight. Sometimes the beauty of nature brings poetry to mind, by itself.

I visualized stepping out of the plane, walking on the half-orange bits of clouds, singing Emily Brontë:

Love is like the wild-rose briar
Friendship is like the holly-tree
The holly is dark when the rose briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?

Ofcourse I didn’t get a chance to take the head-trip. Modern airplanes are very fast and they land smoothly even in cross-winds, even when the golden sand is flung hard and fast by a seriously riled God. Soon enough I was back in the opulent town, to the grind, with the predictability of everyday life.

In life there are situations, however, when you wish things you love to stay with you, by some magic. Some alchemy. It is hard to let go off some connections but the meaning of life is that you have to learn to unfetter. It is the invisible threads, that remain the strongest ties, Nietzsche the madman, once quipped.

I guess, I’d agree.

© Sameer

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Peerzada's socks and shoes

Approximately 70 kms from Srinagar, there is a beautiful touristy hamlet called Kokernag. There is a spring in the middle of the place called Papashudan Nag or sin-cleansing spring. Kashmir’s education minister was born somewhere nearby -- in a village called Damhal. Unfortunately the minister never got the opportunity to wash his misdeeds in the neighbourhood spring. Instead leading by example he got someone in the state board of school education to write his son's exams.

That was two years ago. Newspaper reports suggest that his son recently bagged a distinction in the senior year or first year of A-Level certification (locally called Bahim jamaat). When your dad is a minister of education, who gets a dozen schools sanctioned in tiny Damhal -- if only to improve upon the 13,000 votes he polled last time -- you cannot afford to score a lower grade. How can you invoke the Kashmiri-accented Urdu bluster in cafés, without 85% marks?

There is something odd about old Congressmen in the valley. One they do the best shaves in the whole world as if they have all the time to primp and prink their double-chins. Two they make moral corruption look like meat and potatoes. There are so many mini-scandals stacked up with skeletons in Congress (and NC) closets that one would easily lose count. A dozen leaders were implicated -- one of the main accusers being a minor -- when the 2006 sex scandal surfaced. Nothing ever came out of it.

And here we are in the beginning of 2012 with the usual middle class gibberish being regurgitated at regular intervals in the corporate media. A million tourists this year. One for each vine and weed in the Dal. Regulation politicians in Karakul caps, neck deep in corruption, ruling the little valley of ours slyly eyeing the next election, completely unmindful of the ethical decay slowly eroding us. It is almost sad.

Thanks to Julian Assange we know what the US embassy in New Delhi wrote to the State Department in the US in their classified cables on Kashmir. “Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed behaves like a traditional Congress machine politician, one who asks his staff to put on his socks and shoes for him.”

Sometimes the Americans get it bang-on.

© Sameer
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