Friday, August 22, 2008


As I walked down a leafy hill towards a London suburb I could smell the rain on the wet leaves, I could feel my stomach hurting and I was missing monsoon weather from long gone days of high school when our uniforms were drenched and every puddle was a challenge to new found maturity. I could hear traffic but there were promising sounds made by the birds and the bees..I recounted the senses we humans are known to have..but something seemed to be missing on my list..

Eyes - See
Nose - Smell
Skin - Touch
Ears - Hear
Tongue - Taste

Should there not be heart/mind in this..feel. You can see something and it can sometimes move you close to tears or towards elation. You can sometimes smell something that reminds you of something or someone, the smell of Sambhar, the smell of rain on dry earth, the smell of warmth and something undescribable that comes from the baby's head (u2 put it better I think). Sounds you hear, voices you recognise..they do make you feel depressed, happy, excited (depending entirely on who's voice it is) and taste..i must say this is the best one linked to can feel intense joy and satisfaction on eating or driking something you like, and the fact that 'feeling' drunk is something that happens to most of us at some point or the other.

How come we dont have a sixth sense which has nothing to do with Mr Shymalan and everything to do with something in your head and heart?
Use 5 senses to live and the other non listed ones to be truly alive.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Making it to the headlines across the world again. The right to self determination...separatist leaders plan to submit a memorandum to the UN office in the city outlining their demands (BBC - South Asia)

The world looks on, Kashmiris look at the UN. Why I wonder do we look at the UN..if we are so sure of what we want, why do we need nods of approval from a body which obviously is non functional or of no relevance to the greater powers in the world. The Bush does not ask for consent or approval. Why do we? Why does India even contemplate battles of words with bureaucrats and diplomats in the UN..have they made a difference? Are they capable of doing anything except rounds of useless talks.

US, UK, Russia, Iraq, Seirra Leone, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq..the list of nations in conflict is long..stable lasting peace..has not happened. I really do wonder what the UN's role really is in this world of Putin and Bush and Mugabe and Gen Than Shwe and Sanjagiin Bayar..look around you..are we being realistic?

What about Kashmir? Is a seperate state a possibility? Will an independent Kashmir be safe/ stable/ secure? Is it really impossible for the Kashmiri Muslims to live with the rest of the nation? Does India really need Kashmir and its problems? Do Kashmiris really need a partition of the state? Does Pakistan know what it could do with Kashmir if it gets there? Is joining Pakistan a profitable option in this day and age?

And if there is a need for all Kashmiris to vote on its future..ALL Kashmiris should..those who are born there, those who speak the language, those who are genetically Kashmiri..everyone who is Kashmiri, should decide..not just those who live in Srinagar.

I dont have an opinion about Kashmir per se which wont offend just about every reader here, I do however feel more than a bit upset that after nearly decade of relative calm..protests have started and the 'struggle' has been reawakened. It does make me wonder, no not wonder actually, it makes me re-iterate the reality of the debate over the losses of peace and profits of war/ conflict.

More money in war. Simple as that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's over.

Two words. Simple, effective, to the point.
Could mean relief, happiness, heartbreak amongst other things.

Could also mean fresh beginnings, new approaches.
Could mean end of patience and the ability to tolerate more of the same.
Could mean end of the rope, the line and patience.
Could be tough decision making.
Could mean the starting point of memory gathering.
Could mean the line where the past ends, present and future start.

Always means the need to move on and start again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Epic Journey

Nostalgia hits me as I make my way to Edinburgh after two years. There was a time when the Man used to live there and I was in Leicester. On Fridays I would carry a small backpack to work, leave it with security and at the end of the day I would dash to the train station to catch a 5.30pm train to Edinburgh Waverley and reach there by about midnight. I did this journey which takes 5-6 hours on an alternate weekend basis. The tiresomeness of the journey, which many of my friends mentioned, did not feature in my mind then, maybe I was younger..or maybe it was just L=O=V=E.

I would sit with my water,salt and vinegar Walkers, Kit Kat and a juicy book + iPod and make my way to Edinburgh, only to return in 48 hours. hmmmm. And last night I was trying to remember the route..all 395 miles of it..

Leicester - Derby - Chesterfield - Sheffield - Doncaster - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle - Berwick Upon Tweed and finally to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh - where the man lived. Romanticised in my living high up in the mountains, surrounded by dark grey clouds, crumbling rock castles built at great heights, sea waves crashing by the Forth bridge, sharp billowing gusts of wind (non fiction - Edinburgh is like this)..and he would come, get me from the station and take me home...

I must have made this journey close to a 100 times..just to see him.
Edinburgh played the role of the perfect romantic destination. Dark, brooding, old architecture, Gothic spires, stained glass churches, narrow alleyways, steep staircases, winding cobbled streets, tall trees, dark clouds, cold weather and ofcourse..the Castle perched on top of a volcanic rock, vigilance despite the years. I do wonder if the Man had lived in some place like (dont want to insult anyone here but..) Milton Keynes or..Skegness or...Grimsby..would I have been as impressed?
Too late to ask such questions..and I am rambling here..

But yes..I am making the journey Edinburgh, to see the festival, to revisit all the places I went to. And yes..I know I have been to many other lovely places in other parts of the world..but if there is one place..I would be happy to live at for the rest of my life, it would be Edinburgh. Kashmir comes close, but is not as much of a possibility as I would want it to be.

~Image courtesy jimbodownie and Alllfff

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Of culture, snobbery, pseudo intellect and other such like.

This was too interesting to not share...

Dear Dr. Kierkegaard,

All my life I’ve been a successful pseudo-intellectual, sprinkling quotations from Kafka, Epictetus and Derrida into my conversations, impressing dates and making my friends feel mentally inferior. But over the last few years, it’s stopped working. People just look at me blankly. My artificially inflated self-esteem is on the wane. What happened?

Existential in Exeter

Dear Existential,

It pains me to see so many people being pseudo-intellectual in the wrong way. It desecrates the memory of the great poseurs of the past. And it is all the more frustrating because your error is so simple and yet so fundamental.

You have failed to keep pace with the current code of intellectual one-upsmanship. You have failed to appreciate that over the past few years, there has been a tectonic shift in the basis of good taste.

You must remember that there have been three epochs of intellectual affectation. The first, lasting from approximately 1400 to 1965, was the great age of snobbery. Cultural artifacts existed in a hierarchy, with opera and fine art at the top, and stripping at the bottom. The social climbing pseud merely had to familiarize himself with the forms at the top of the hierarchy and febrile acolytes would perch at his feet.

In 1960, for example, he merely had to follow the code of high modernism. He would master some impenetrably difficult work of art from T.S. Eliot or Ezra Pound and then brood contemplatively at parties about Lionel Trilling’s misinterpretation of it. A successful date might consist of going to a reading of “The Waste Land,” contemplating the hollowness of the human condition and then going home to drink Russian vodka and suck on the gas pipe.

This code died sometime in the late 1960s and was replaced by the code of the Higher Eclectica. The old hierarchy of the arts was dismissed as hopelessly reactionary. Instead, any cultural artifact produced by a member of a colonially oppressed out-group was deemed artistically and intellectually superior.

During this period, status rewards went to the ostentatious cultural omnivores — those who could publicly savor an infinite range of historically hegemonized cultural products. It was necessary to have a record collection that contained “a little bit of everything” (except heavy metal): bluegrass, rap, world music, salsa and Gregorian chant. It was useful to decorate one’s living room with African or Thai religious totems — any religion so long as it was one you could not conceivably believe in.

But on or about June 29, 2007, human character changed. That, of course, was the release date of the first iPhone.

On that date, media displaced culture. As commenters on The American Scene blog have pointed out, the means of transmission replaced the content of culture as the center of historical excitement and as the marker of social status.

Now the global thought-leader is defined less by what culture he enjoys than by the smartphone, social bookmarking site, social network and e-mail provider he uses to store and transmit it. (In this era, MySpace is the new leisure suit and an AOL e-mail address is a scarlet letter of techno-shame.)

Today, Kindle can change the world, but nobody expects much from a mere novel. The brain overshadows the mind. Design overshadows art.

This transition has produced some new status rules. In the first place, prestige has shifted from the producer of art to the aggregator and the appraiser. Inventors, artists and writers come and go, but buzz is forever. Maximum status goes to the Gladwellian heroes who occupy the convergence points of the Internet infosystem — Web sites like Pitchfork for music, Gizmodo for gadgets, Bookforum for ideas, etc.

These tastemakers surf the obscure niches of the culture market bringing back fashion-forward nuggets of coolness for their throngs of grateful disciples.

Second, in order to cement your status in the cultural elite, you want to be already sick of everything no one else has even heard of.

When you first come across some obscure cultural artifact — an unknown indie band, organic skate sneakers or wireless headphones from Finland — you will want to erupt with ecstatic enthusiasm. This will highlight the importance of your cultural discovery, the fineness of your discerning taste, and your early adopter insiderness for having found it before anyone else.

Then, a few weeks later, after the object is slightly better known, you will dismiss all the hype with a gesture of putrid disgust. This will demonstrate your lofty superiority to the sluggish masses. It will show how far ahead of the crowd you are and how distantly you have already ventured into the future.

If you can do this, becoming not only an early adopter, but an early discarder, you will realize greater status rewards than you ever imagined. Remember, cultural epochs come and go, but one-upsmanship is forever.

~from New York Times op-ed Columnist David Brooks - Lord of the Memes

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The waves come running to you,
happy to see you.
Eager to present you with a gift they dug up,
from the bottom of the seabed.
They come again and again,
in an attempt to appease.
The wind tugs,
like and impatient child,
at your hair, your clothes.
Wanting something,
not quite sure what.
The sticky feeling of salty air,
the burning sunshine.
Warm sand thats intrusive,
and likes the hide in unlikely places.

Sea gulls in mid air,
frozen still in their attempts to fly.
Lazy gulls that fly but dont flap,
come close,
looking out beadily for crumbs.
Static gulls, posing for perfect photos,
suspended mid-gust.

Children with spades and buckets, digging.
Building castles, being taught to write names in sand.
Babies toddling around, dropping and getting up unhurt,
wading into water and returning with soggy nappies.
Old people with books, hats and suncream,
young people with music and fashionable swimgear.

Endless white sand and green water,
long lazy walks,
with sand between your toes,
and sea shelss in your hand,
eyes scrunched up against the sand,
hair messed with the wind,
and a smile...