Monday, December 26, 2005

Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Excellent take on [Indian/Bengali] immigrants

Jhumpa Lahiri is nearly as brilliant in Namesake as she was in the Interpretor of Maladies. Namesake is the story of Gogol, son on Ashoke and Ashima Ganguly. The Gangulies hail from Bengal and throughout their life try to reconcile with their alienated existence in a foreign homeland. The son, Gogol, a namesake of a Russian writer, struggles to come to terms with his love and life. He is born American, flesh and blood Indian and named Russian. The name was given to him as Gangulies never received the letter sent by an aged grandmother carrying the name for Gogol. It was Gogol's book that Ashoke was reading, when he nearly died in a train accident, so the name is forever dear to him. What Gogol does not understand during Ashoke's life, becomes partially apparent to him after his father's death (an extremely moving description).

The novel is about misplaced homelands, about misunderstandings between generations, about the pain and pining of an immigrant, about family values and about an individual who learns from a series of engaging events and conversations the significance of everything he considered meaningless and perhaps, foreign. Namesake is a novel that is brilliant in the description of typical immigrant Bengali families, and does commendable job in capturing the essential conflicts within and among the family members of immigrant families.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, (Translated by Constance Garnett)

A deep, psychological, verbose masterpiece!

The Brothers Karamazov is said to be the greatest and last novel written by Fyodor Dostoevsky. In reading the novel, one discovers why so. The novel is set in nineteenth century Russia, and deals with the story of three brothers, Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha, and the events surrounding the murder of their father Fyodor Kamarazov. The father is a drunkard baffoon, who spares no thoughts or money to his sons, and leads a life of sexual exploits, orgies and drunken revelry. Dmitri, born to Fyodor's first wife, returns to his hometown to seek money from his father, but gets enchanted by Grushenka, who his father lusts for and threatens to win over by the poer of his money. The sensual Dmitri, a former captain of the army, was earlier bethrothed to beautiful Katrina, who he wishes to leave in wake of his intense passion for Grushenka. The brother Ivan, an intellectual stars in the three most famous chapters of the book: Rebellion, the Grand Inquisitor and the Devil; where Dostovesky presents arguments against existence of God and discusses the genesis and futility of evil; the three chapters that on their own could have made the name of the Dostovesky as famous as it is. Ivan formulates arguments that both amaze and befuddle the reader and the reader finds himself tormented by the existential, ethical and theological questions that surface everywhere in the novel. Ivan falls for Katrina.

Dostovesky calls Alyosha the hero of the novel. Alyosha is an idealist, a believer, a charming young fellow who would was all set on becoming a monk, till his mentor and guide Father Zossima asked him to return to the worldly life. The landscape is full of a range of other characters: Grigory and his wife Marya, devoted servants of Fyodor, who bring up an illegitimate, epileptic son of Fyodor, called Smerdyakov; the wealthy townswoman Madame Hohlakov, whose near cripple daughter Lise is engaged to Alyosha for some period of time; Rakitin, a character who full of big talk and shallow personality and two kids Koyla and Illusha.

The novel centers around the events leading to and after the murder of Fyodor, whereby Dostovesky creates a highly engaging and yet pretty verbose analysis of the crime, parricide, providing his deep psychological analysis of characters and endless references from Christian texts. The last few chapters where he weaves courtroom drama provides the right climax to this highly challenging piece of work.

The brilliance of Dostovesky is in making his reader undergo the same fever, same fervour that a criminal is faced with. The depth of portrayal is such that one is continuously full of the characters and the questions that surround their existence: for these questions are eternal questions that confound the reader. While the story is a gripping tale of murder and courtroom drama, the meat of the novel in the three chapters mentioned, in the discussions about what is right and wrong, in the presentation of various facades of human nature and human passion, in arguments for and against parricide, in the dealing of Alyosha with Illusha and Koyla. The last chapter, where Illusha loses his life, culminates a series of heartwrenching events, and this particular chapter is perhaps one of the best pieces arousing pathos in literature. The reader is just washed by the torrent of sorrow, and in a certain sense, Dostovesky succeeds in leading the reader through a sort of catharisis, ending in certain tears and an understanding that Christ-like love and purity of soul symbolized by Illusha and Alyosha is bound to prevail, to save our soul and society.

The novel is also an excellent read in terms of insights it offers into the ethical, social and philosophical ideas present in Russia towards the end of nineteenth century. In that respect, it presents a case study of the undercurrents in the Russian society, the seeds and spread of socialism and well as the nature and depth of belief in church, miracles and God. The novel is also a part-time love story, where the flaring passions are so intense as to drive characters to the brink of madness, to the edge of chaos, to extremes of happiness and sorrow.

Reading Dostovesky is like undergoing catharisis, tortuous and painful, and precisely so he is a must read for everyone who ventures into deeper questions surrounding the humanity.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Discussing passive dowry!

I am at an age where most of my friends are getting married. Conversations invariably revolve around what one will look for in his/her future spouse. We all talk about what is acceptable and what is not, with considerable conviction. There are some who accept arranged marriage as time tested method and are willing to wait to choose from the right ones brought forward by the parents. There are others, the romantics, who believe in Yash Chopra like endings, and fan arguments in favor of choosing for oneself. Thus they create enough matter for gossip, and in general humor us with their bravadoes, escapades and failures. In heart we know, we all will get married, and as it always seems to happen, most will appear richer right after they do. Like it has happened with rampant pollution and corruption, we, Indians, have accepted this ritualized exchange of gifts, where the bride's family pays for all the bills. This custom of dowry, somewhat amazingly and alarmingly, continues to flourish and this is spite of all our education and grand talk about progress of society.

The most obvious form of dowry is where the demands are explained and outlined at the outset, and depending upon how the greed grows, the market forces, the pliability of bride's family, the counter-offers and some astronomical or astrological reasons, the demands evolve with time. In some of these cases, getting married is like finding a life-long credit agency, where one must be paid in cash or kind for just being an in-law. Many people, in spite of their education and social standing, allow themselves to become leeches on the wife's parents and brothers. The most easily cited counter scenario is where the bride is asked to walk into husband's house in three pieces of clothing. When I discuss about dowry, I am usually referring to neither; both represent extreme cases and my identification of dowry as a problem demands I talk about passive dowry, the most prevalent, and yet the least criticized method.

Passive dowry is the most common form of dowry. The bride's family is supposed to supply whatever they deem as necessary for newly weds, for it is clearly stated that the groom's family lacks no luxuries per se. The bride's family is supposed to estimate and evaluate what gifts and presents could be considered satisfactory in the social circles of both the families. An over-estimate is always pleasant for the receiver, an under-estimate source of perpetual jibes and widespread "thu-thu" (criticism, metaphorically stated by spitting at the defaulters face). People might talk about groom's getting a new car in hushed voices, and bride's family may say out aloud that their daughter requested it as she wouldn't want to walk after marriage, but the bottomline is that the car stands in the garage of newly married couple, will remain there, the groom usually accepts it with either a smug or sneeky smile and the bride's family is poorer by that amount. If one lives away from his parents, we often hear about the secretly managed sudden increase in the standard of living. We often associate it with the groom's coming of age, realizing a married life requires more than just a bed and a tv, and maybe it is partially true that marriage brings some sense into us bachelors. It seems to bring lots of other things too. Like sex, and of course money; we usually talk about neither. We see where the money came from, and either wink or close our eyes. How convenient!

Even if the groom demands nothing, there is no guarantee that he won't do it later. The bride's parents must, indeed, for custom and age-old wisdom demands it, must always have enough emergency funds to meet the stated and unstated demands of the in-laws. Sometimes the groom's family is totally opposed to dowry, and then the bride must suffer through the constant whispering and sniggering from either relatives or from the neighbor, who leave no opportunity to remark how empty handed the bride's family must have been. Not only we have embraced and ritualized dowry, we have also allowed it to become a status symbol. In the naked hunger for easily earned money, dowry is a phenomenal thing. It comes with someone who you are supposed to share your life with; and you seek payment for uniting with her who stars have designed for your sake. You seek a price for yourself, for an IAS is obviously more expensive than an IPS, a US degree definitely requires more gold than a desi pedigree, IIT & IIM is obviously means acquisition of better valued commodity than from a run-of-mill college. In this market, where we sell and buy companionship, each ability and disability, education and ancestry, custom and social standing, play a role in making most of us the most overpriced objects of affection. Being hypocritical as always, we shall not call these bought objects with the name they deserve, for these objects come armed with social recognition and even in selling themselves, they are the ones who call the shots. Still, most end as over-hyped and over-priced objects of affection. What objects for what purpose, and ah, at what price!

Discussing passive dowry, as it is, is like discussing most ailments of our society. We divide ourselves into camps, contrasting one situation with another, and give some a benefit of doubt as we like them or know them or cannot openly renounce them. We treat all arguments as attacks on our own selves, as an attack on how our family has conducted itself over the years, and find ourselves wanting in one respect or the other, for we all, at some point, are involved in abetting in the same crime we stand here to condemn. We look for easy escape, cite how people in other countries get gifts as well, say how happy certain couple is with dowry or without dowry in picture, we contend that only love cannot run a marriage and we resign saying, it is a necessary evil, we don't like it, and we don't approve of it. We say someone must do something about it, maybe the government. In the heat of moment, we announce we will not be party to any dowry taking or giving ritual, which would mean that in next marriage we attend, we shall drown our commitment in gulps of whisky or pronounce our lack of complete familiarity with the groom's family as reason for doing nothing. We will defend all gifts we will get at our marriage. Sometimes, the brides will themselves insist on having certain gifts. At most we will read or write certain articles or blogs about it, but I am sure as hell, we will leave this discussion saddened and embittered. For like in passive corruption, or like in promiscuity, passive dowry survives due to an understanding between the involved parties. In our society ruled and run by compromises, passive dowry is natural and inevitable. So is my tone, your response, and our collective morality.

Dec 18, 2005
Written after conversation with two friends, AS and FSA.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Unbearable lightness

I kissed her lips
A chocolate jellyfish
Swam in my eyes
And what I swallowed
Blossomed in the caresses
Shirtless wonders
Nudged me afresh
But I let go
Unbearable lightness;

Cuddles muddle
Lips are delicious
A chocolate jellyfish
Swam in her eyes, fell,
I gobbled it up
Hugged and smiled
Ageless innocence
Melted in my arms
But I let go
Unbearable lightness.

14 Dec 2005
Atlanta GA

PS: Poetry for poetry's sake!
Judge the poem, not the poet!
(Dismayed by certain remarks: will write a blog about it)!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My chaotic love

From the pen of a pained and pining physicist, a verse celebrating mathematical madness of being in love; requires elementary knowledge of the behavior of non-linear systems and of chaotic dynamics.

My chaotic love

In all probability are lost
the positive eigenvalues of hope
abstracted from the coupled equations
of your swaying moods
and my time independent love;

I should have known though
only instabilities arise from
the positive eigenmodes of expectation
and in evolving, co-dependent desires
chaos is inevitable;

I knew from onset, yet doubted
the predicted behavior of us,
construing separation as an artifact
of our linear linear thinking or erratic,
faulty mapping of our realities;

Our disjointed worlds interacted
through ephemeral, random junctions;
your eyes perturbed me to oscillate
till my will enslaved, spiraled me headlong,
trapping me in the basins of your attraction;

My passions had stretched and folded
my dreams and desires to space fill
even the remotest eddies of my heart
and in the complexity of my thoughts
I saw my chaotic love as simply beautiful.

Dec 13, 2005
Atlanta, GA.

PS: To fully appreciate the mathematics underlying the metaphors and similies in this verse, please read any standard text on non-linear dynamics and chaos. The text by Strogatz is a nice introduction, though Gleick's Chaos is recommended reading for anyone interested in knowing about the rockstars of the science of chaos, and reading about the genesis of their most celebrated results.

For mathematicians who have yet experienced only chaos and no love, no books can teach them anything of the latter, and it must be experienced first-hand, for there is no known method of abstracting it from other people's experiences.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A must watch movie: Main Meri Patni Aur Woh

Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh is a class act. Rajpal Yadav, Ritu and KK star in this movie, that is in the league of Choti si Baat, Golmaal, Chasme Baddoor and Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi in its potrayal of middle class insecurities and values, and the comedy is immaculate. The husband is about four to five inch shorter than his extremely beautiful wife, and is understandably insecure about it. The prying eyes follow here everywhere, and our protagonist ungoes an agony that generates both laughter and sympathy for him. When a guitar playing, tall, dark and handsome KK, his wife's school friend moves next door, he suffers in silence, finding himself shorter in every respect to his nemesis.

The movie is beautifully crafted, provides more laugh than most movies released this year, and the best bit is that it is quite realistic and heartfelt. The attention to detail is particularly charming, the dialogues and settings take you to the streets and style of Lucknow, and the script and screenplay and direction are as good as they must be. Chadan Arora deserves all plaudits for creating this "masterpiece".

If you liked KK in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, you will find him equally remarkable here. So far, he has impressed with his every appearance, and his talent is seen in good measure here. Ritu is beautiful, and is cast in a role that she delivers with a finesse of an accomplished artist. I hope she will be cast in many more roles in Bollywood. The other supporting cast blends into the middle class culture very well, but the actor who stamps his authority over is craft is Rajpal Yadav. He is brilliant, just brilliant. Brilliant in every frame of the movie. We need more Chandan Arora's to utilize him in creation of movies like this, a movie that is "good cinema" at its best.

The bollywood songs are used at places to accentuate effect. The music is soulful and memorable, especially the following two:
1) Doob Jaana Re [Singers: Sony Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, music : Rajendra Shiv, lyrics : Rocky Khanna] One of the best melodies of the year, powered by great lyrics!
2) Guncha [Singer: Mohit Chauhan, music : Mohit Chauhan, lyrics : Rocky Khanna] This is an incredible song: lyrics are ghazalish, music is soothing and singing is refreshingly tasteful.
While you might not be able to see the movie right away, savor the songs, especially the mentioned two. Another song, Paintra, is quite catchy as well.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ik sard khamoshi (A cold silence)

Ik sard si khamoshi liye
Hum tumse thay aa milay
Tum sikurr kar, thditurr kar
Baithi rahi buss bidak kar
Saanson ke dhundh mein oojhal
Tumhaari mitt-ti, bann-ti shakal!

Ik sard si khamoshi liye
Hum tumse thay aa milay
Maano jamm gaye thay mere
Shabd juban par aakar
Aur barfilay vakyon mein
Saare rahhasya gumnaam rahay!

Vivek Sharma krit ; Summer 2005

thditurr: shiver; bidak: quiet, because of fear; sikurr: dry and shrivelled

(I do the unthinkable here, try and translate my poem; need to do so to allow non-Hindi speakers a glimpse of what is posted here. But trust me, even if it is the same poet rewriting it, the poems are written best in the language they reveal themselves to you. So a tepid translation, done at the spur of the moment:

Bearing a cold silence
I had come to meet you
You cuddled, you shivered
Sat there quite shrivelled
Beyond the fog of my breath
Your face appeared, disappeared.

Bearing a cold silence
I had come to meet you
As if were frozen
My words at my lips
Beneath the icy sentences
All secrets lie unidentified.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Some short poems!

In the cherry blossoms of your cheeks
And the irridescent smiles of your lips
Live the glowing embers of my pining heart
And also the secret of beauty and happiness!


Lit with delicate, romantic dreaming desires
And full of morning dew and evening mist
Dark orbs of beauty, so large and deep
Your beautiful eyes, my love, are not designed to weep!


Who am I? A bird that perches
On your balcony by daily habit
Feeding on strewn sentences
Of kind, though disenchanted joy
That you find in my company
And your occasional happiness
On hearing me merrily chirp
Or happily flutter my wings
Momentary togetherness in time
That my flights of fancy cherish
Through my days spend in yearning
For the next sunset and morning
When I return to your home
Ah! I am no pet of yours
And yet I am not wild or free
A persistant visiting dreamer
In love with uncertainity!


Glow my dear candle,
Give me sight and sense,
My fear and darkness vanishes
In your glowing presence!

Burning with yellow flame
Stand firm till tomorrow comes
My messiah with your sacrifices
Our life brighter becomes!

All written on Sept 17, 2004
Atlanta, GA

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Poem in Pictures!

Pride & Prejudice (2005 Movie)

This is the best ever adaptation of a novel. Period.

Jane Austen's world comes alive in this movie, through some stunning cinematography and excellent acting display by a very aptly chosen cast. Keira Knightley as Elizabeth is as good as it gets, and I dare say that she deserves atleast an Oscar nomination for her potrayal of this role. Pride and Prejudice remains one of the best Engish romance novels, where Mr Darcy epitomizes a rich, taciturn hero who falls for Elizabeth, who has no family fortune to inherit, and no real qualities of merit. Elizabeth has her own prejudices to combat as she, through a series of events, recognizes his love for her. The slow English romance, the beautiful countryside, the immaculate dialogue delivery, picture perfect characterization of Mr and Mrs Bennet, as well as all sisters of Elizabeth, Mr Collins and Lady Catherine, apt background score make Pride and Prejudice my favorite recommendation for a movie.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

A fable ("gup") par excellence!!

Salman Rushdie manages to create a magical world in Haroun and the Sea of stories, a world where stories originate from the ocean on the second, invisible moon called Kahani (~story), and are supplied to Rashid, the Shah of Blah by P2C2E (Process Too Complicated To Explain). When the Shah of Blah loses his prowess to tell stories, Haroun through interesting events lands up on Kahani moon, and takes part in a war between the land of Chup (~silence) and land of Gup (~gossip; conversation). The choice of characters is sublime mixture of creativity and ingenuity. The king of the land of Gup is Chatterjey (a Bengali surname) and their parliament is Chatterbox; the army is organized like library, and each unit like a kitab (~Book). It is also the story of love of Prince Bolo (~say something) and Princess Baatcheat (~conversation); the villainy of khatam-shud (~absolute silence), and is a mesmerizing drama that unfolds with absolutely hilarious sequences and some of the most engaging metaphors ever used by Rushdie.

I have loved Rushdie's other works as well, but this one is special as it captures the magical realism and creativity inherent in the ancient custom of story-telling. This story reminds me of my own childhood when the grandparents would conjure fables with genies and fairies and devils to hold us kids in raptures. The way Rushdie goes about describing the world of silence and the world of speech is enthralling, more so as he uses each character and each event in this fable to illustrate the different shades of each.

Everyone who ever loved any Rushdie book is bound to like this one. Read it for humor, read it for child in you. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Movie review: Walk the line

"Love Is A Burning Thing/And It Makes A Fiery Ring
Bound By Wild Desire/I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down/ And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns/ The Ring Of Fire/ The Ring Of Fire"

The movie, based on Johnny Cash's early life, is a musical masterpiece. The focus is on showing how Johnny Cash evolved from being a kid who lost his brother in a freak accident to his rise and fall as a singer as he struggled to come to terms with drugs, inconsiderate wife and cold father; and how his love, his friendship with June Carter rescued him from his doom. The screenplay is taut, music is superb, and the cast has given memorable performances. I would love to see them win Academy Awards for such a fine show.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The best man's words!

She can talk to you through endless gossip
And serve you with anecdotes, joyful, crisp

Her apetite for the bizarre is never assuaged
All trivia in her memory is somewhere stored

She munches your words, allows you to flatter
But don't think she'd be taken in, she knows better

She splits her self into a memory and a dream
Where she was beloved, where she'll be a queen

In sounds and rhyme, she finds infinite pleasure
But its actually nostalgia that really rouses her

Delightful in conversation, pleasant in companionship
Theres always many a slip, between her cup and her lip

She talks in jingles, and in some wonderland saunters
And dresses, so elegantly, regalely she flaunts hers

She is, though enigmatic, a cause for full celebration
My friend, congratulations, for attaining her adulation!

Nov 22, 2005
Vivek Sharma
W301 Howey Physics, Atlanta!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

East, West by Salman Rushdie

Eclectic, entertaining mix of East and West characters!

East, West is most readily accessible work of Rushdie. The stories are high entertaining, and each of the nine stories manages to create well-defined character sketches, as well as plots with interesting twists, myths and humor. The story about Columbus and Isabella is full of laughs, about Courter is full of sentimental exuberance, one about Chekov and Zulu delves into Indra Gandhi's assination and its effect on the friendship of a Sikh and a Hindu (very poignant for us who witnessed the tradegy), and there are others that deal with the charade of charlatan, the obsession of occult of some Cambridge students and so on. These stories reflect how well Rushdie captures both the Eastern and Western personalities and history and how he manages to combine them to make stories worth relishing.

Emma by Jane Austen

Jane Austen wrote some of the most remarkable romantic novels in English, and Emma is said to be written at the height of her powers. Like all her novels (Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility), the narrative is simple, straightforward and the story develops through seemingly commonplace conversations and events. Emma is twenty one year old daughter to rich Mr Woodhouse, "full of trivial communications and harmless gossip." The story captures how Emma comes to terms with her own errors of judgement, and how she discovers her liking and love for one of the chief characters of the novel. (Perhaps giving his name away here would be sacrilage on my part!!). The cast, the locations, the conversations are set in distinct Austen style, rooted in rural English counties. The romances are Victorian, and progress through delicate, slow developments that a through, diehard romantic is bound to like. Emma's actions are governed by her own romantic fantasies, where she tries to bring people together playing a matchmaker, and her failures as well as successes make this novel an interesting read. A treat for Austen fans!

Also at amazon

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I duuno where I am going

I dunno where I am going
You may ask, then whats the point
I think if I keep on fighting
Who knows, what I will find!

You tell me to be happy
Happiness is generally misunderstood
You perceive it in giggles and laughter
Who ever knows whatever's the truth!

You ask me to have goals and dreams
Ambition and drive to get ahead
But trust me, just working on my dreams
Might not even earn me my daily bread!

You prize order and knowledge
And call my amorphous self vain
I believe as a child I knew myself
That blissful ignorance caused me no pain!

I may have grown older and no wiser
But there I few things I've realized
That self-belief breeds all heroism
A determined self must be praised, prized!

So when I dunno where I am going
I trust myself and make my own path
Pretty lost, but struggling at the moment
I'm sure this won't forever last!

I ask you to stay and criticize
Show me my flaws and possibilities
Through your words I'll correct myself
But I must still live with uncertainities.

Oh! I dunno where I am going
You may ask then whats the point
I think if I keep on fighting
Who knows what I'll find!

Written in second week of Nov, as I wandered through Home Park, Atlanta, 2005!
It is highly unsatisfactory reproduction of what I was singing as I walked, will work on it when I remember the original sentences that the melody has had strung together.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fade Away!

Fade away my love, do fade away
Donot on the canvasses of my memory stay
Leave no trails, leave me empty, free
Banish from my present, the ghosts of yesterday!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Duniya kare sawal (Lost in Translation series)

Sahir Ludhyanvi, in my opinion, is the best lyricist Indian movie industry ever came across. He penned the famous Kabhi Kabhi, Waqt ne kiya kya hasin Sitam, Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jayen toe kya hai, Woh subah kabhi toe aayegi, Chalo ek baar phirse ajnabi ho jayen hum dono, and so on! Here is a song from 1967 movie, Bahu Begum, penned by him and sung by Lata (and the music was by Roshan), followed by another lousy translation!

Duniya kare sawal toe hum kya jawab dayen
Tum kaun ho khayal toe hum kya jawab dayen!

Poochay koi ke dil ko kahan chodd aaye ho
Kiss kiss say apna rista au jaan jodd aaye ho
Mushkill ho araz-ae-haal toe kya jawab dayen!

Poochay koi ke dard ae wafa kaun de gaya
Raaton ko jaagnay ki sazaa kaun de gaya
Kahnay pe ho malaal, toe hum kya jawab dayen!


Attempt A

When the world ask questions, what be my response
Who are you oh thought, oh dream, what be my response?

Asks someone where with your heart, did you part
To whom did you connect n with your own self part
If hard be describing my state, what be my response?

Asks someone who gave you the grief of fidelity
Who sentenced your nights with sleep depravity
If disconcerting shall be my words, what be my response?

Another attempt:

Attempt B

Oh! When the world asks, what do I tell them
Who are you in my thoughts, who do I tell them?

Some ask me where did I part with my heart
Where I established a connection, of relation, of life
If it be hard to describe my state, what do I tell them?

Some asks me who gave me the grief of constancy
Who punished me to stay awake in nights constantly
If my words may cause resentment, what do I tell them?

Another one??

Attempt C

If the world asks the quetion, what must my answer be
Who are you, oh my imagination, what must my answer be?

If someone asks me where did I leave my heart
Where did I new relations of life find, start
If hard be describing my part, what must my answer be?

If someone asks me who caused me the grief of fidelity
Who suffered my nights to be sleepless persistantly
If my words may be hard to come by, what must my answer be?

Which one is most preferable?

Conversations! and Other verses

A text of our conversations!

When I say I am incomplete without you
Without you I am lost in darkness
Of my doubts and my solitude is
A cold silence that unsettles my whole
She quips that she shall never want to be
A candle in a dark room and also not
A satellite about me or a planet likewise
And cannot be mine for to me my self is unknown!

When I inspire my words to compose
A soft song for her, and tell her so
She tells me that words are for them
Who cannot communicate between souls
And for our destinations are two distant
Points, my walking with her is a detour
About my destination and so I must
Retrace my steps, walk alone or find another!


Jab ussay kehta hun, hun mein tum bin adhura,
Woh kehti hai, na mujhe aadhay adhuray ki zarurat hai
Joe aatam hi puran nahin, usko paakar kaise mein
Kaise apnay jeevan mein preet ki prakashta paungi
Kehti hai ki meri talaash abhi talak adhuri hai
Apnay ko hi na jaan saka hun mein toe kaise mein
Puran vishwas se keta hun ki uska hona zaroori hai
Aur kaise adhuray vishwas, adhuray vivek ke sang mein chal paungi??


tablay ki taal par goonjti
mere dil ki dharkan sun
aur sun santoor bhi suna raha
i preet ki mangal dhun!

I am a soft smile
That glitters in your eye
In glistening drops of dew!


Goonjti hui jal tarang, aur hridhaya mein sankron aakanshaon ke sargam
Bahar bajti hai mangaldhwani aur antarmann mein asmanjass ka mausam
Tablay ki tadapti taal par mere saanson mein dhadhakti akraant jwaala
Madhumaas mein bhi ujaat-sa hai! Hai! Preetma tumne mujhe kya bana daala!


Will you be the quiet hug
Holding me on a soft rug
Night after night close?

Will you sing to me
Soft tunes in melody
To make my dreams surreal?


If you be the sprinkle
On the desert sand of
My dry, parched soul
And come to me perenially
I too can be the oasis
That stands fresh, but alone
In the vast territory of
Thirsty, dusty country!


All were written on 10 April 2005
Emory/Atlanta while attending a concert
by Shiv Kumar Sharma and Zakir Hussein!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why I love you so, and yet say nothing?

My dearest, trust me you mean
A lot more to me than I can
Show, or let myself say, but
If you really wish to know
Why I seem to stay away
And at times, seem attached, amiable
Know that there are times when
All I really want to do is
Tempt you, touch you, taste you
Take you in my arms and
Make you melt in my warm embrace. (10)

My heart seems to sing to the
Music in your words, music in
The way you walk, you laugh
And a thousand butterflies flutter their
Wings within me as they try to fly away
To the world of togetherness
Where all I really want to do is
Tempt you, touch you, taste you
Take you in my arms and
Make you melt in my warm embrace. (20)

My soul seems to sink into your
Deep, beautiful orbs that twinkle
Twinkle like bright jewels in my days
And hunt me, haunt me, hurl me
Helpless, happy, high into the
Edens of pleasant togetherness
Where all I really want to do is
Tempt you, touch you, taste you
Take you in my arms and
Make you melt in my warm embrace. (30)

For your perfume titilates me, tortures me
Unsettles my consciousness with your beauty
And my throat becomes as parched, as pining
As the dry, desert sand in want of rain
And your face is like the reflection of the moon
On the rising, ebbing seas of my constant craving
And then all I really want to do is
Tempt you, touch you, taste you
Take you in my arms and
Make you melt in my warm embrace. (40)

For you are the bright, blue sky
Over the lush landscapes of
My most delightful daydreams
And your infinite self is all about me
Within me, without me, with me
Why do I continue to live this way
While all I really want to do is
Tempt you, touch you, taste you
Take you in my arms and
Make you melt in my warm embrace. (50)

And never let you go, not even for a moment
For you or I may change and then we may
Loose the meaning and charm of my feelings
My feelings that I knowingly not express
For things may start to evolve or change
I don't know how our world and selves shall be
If you knew that all I really want to do is
Tempt you, touch you, taste you
Take you in my arms and
Make you melt in my warm embrace. (60)

Written on 9 Nov, 2005 in Starbucks!
Vivek Sharma

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Puns are fun even in poetry!

Why must you unsettle me so
With the crafty display of your curves
Raise the expectations that you never meet?

Why must you entice me so
With the lyrical expressions of your desires
Keep me interested, in nothing but possibilities?

Why must you charm me so
With the veiled promises of your fidelity
Occupy my thoughts, physically stay an absentee?

Vivek Sharma 8:00 pm Nov 06, 2005

Keeping aside the other possible (obvious?) meanings that you have inferred,
Consider this as a correspondence, that between two collaborators occured:)!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A timeless love story of an ageless Ninety year old!
"Make no mistake: Peaceful madmen are ahead of future." Gabriel Garcia Marquez creates yet another magical, mystic, beautiful piece of literature in his Memories of my melancholy whores. This is his most easily accessible, readable work that I have come across, and yet it is so deeply romantic, sad yet engaging that I read through it in one sitting. Like the opening sentence of this review, Marquez packs punch with many really memorable remarks. Another example: I learnt, in short, love is not a condition of the spirit but a sign of the zodiac.

A ninety year old in love with a teenager boggles the mind, but the description is full of the same melancholy and joy as is of love, and the prose flows like a stream of poetry strewn with the genius of the writer. In fact, I cannot help smiling to myself thinking of the following sentences uttered at two different occasions in the novel:

Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love.

I kept interrupting whatever I was doing to call her, and I repeated this for days on end until I realized that it was a phone without a heart.

This is a love story par excellence, and benefits from the creativity of the master at the height of his powers. There are only a handful of characters here, in fact just four or five, and the story is tastefully erotic and deliciously disturbing tale of love. In fact, after reading the novel, all I could repeat to myself (again from the novel itself) was: Ah, me, if this is love, then how it torments!

Blindness by Jose Saramago!

A Post-Modern Classic! A Masterpiece!

Jose Saramago in Blindness is a tale of amazing orginality and creativity, and will rank alongside A Hundred Years of Solitude and Midnight's Children as the most important works of last fifty years. The plot is simple; an epidemic of blidness grips a man in the beginning, and spreads to ail everyone in the country. The author creates a story full of suspense and substance, and the turn of events reveal the base nature of humans, the survival instincts and the how much we rely on our sensory perception for living in general, and for order in things, the basis of morality and appreciation of beauty and life in particular.

The story is very readable, compared to the other post-modern classics, this is very easily approachable. There is a sense of alarm created by the author in his unveiling of how the world could become if such an epidemic would strike us. Through various characters, various shades of human pathos and apathy are revealed, and author creates a masterpiece that presents subtleties of human nature through an effortless narrative. In many ways, the novel is unlike most we come across, more so because of the unusual plot, and thus forms a very intersting and illuminating read. (Blindness is an illuminating read; it is not a dark tale, for as you will figure after reading it, it is about white blindness). Highly recommended for one and all.

Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea!

Full of existential angst!

Sartre's Nausea is a manifesto of existential angst, and ranks as one of the most celebrated philisophical novels of the last century. In his dairy enteries, the protagonist enters seemingly trivial details about his daily chores, thoughts, fears and acquaintances and through them reflects upon deep questions about his own existence and his being. Throughout the novel, the reader finds himself looking at his own self, his own world and identifying with the angst of one's being. A classic, must read for anyone who ponders on the meaning of the being, the point of our existence and is at war with himself. The novel does not necessary provide the answers to any of these questions, but provides enough spark to ignite the spirit of enquiry in one's mind!

Posted on amazon as well!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

deepavali ki mangal kaamnayen!

Aapki deepavali shubh ho, sukhadh ho, mangalmaye ho
Paavan deepon se roshan aapkaa jeevan ho, hridhaya ho
Maryaada Purshottan Raam sa aapki siddhi ho, prasiddhi ho
Ho jeevan mein Sita si sampurna patni, Lakshman se bhai ho
Ishwar aapko gati de, pragati de, aur aapki puran har manokaamna ho,
Aapkay saahas aur prakram se prajit svayam ke vikaar, va sarva assur ho,
Aapkay jeevan ke har din mein, har pal mein diwali si dhoom ho
Aapko deepavali ki mangalkaamnayen, aap sarvada prasann, prafull ho!

Nove 01, 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005

White cotton clouds!

Yesterday I flew over the white cotton clouds
That rolled and puffed below a blue sky
Were hung up there like my love for you
Pure and white, fluffy and foggy, soaring high

When I looked at the world perched in your thoughts
The cities were below and beyond, little and distant
Your love gave me wings, the dream of the flight
Made me freely surging soul in an instant

In the slowly moving drift of human imagination
I flew far and wide and yet never away
For like a kite I am always threaded to you
In the deft hands of your love, I fly and soar!

Written on a flight
March 2005

A Poet and a Sanguine Brat!

We share this and that
Daily we meet and chat
We amble and we ramble
A poet and a sanguine brat

I am high on the past
Her future pulls her fast
At present we're "just friends"
Such friendships seldom last!

We are an unlikely company
Bruised bard with bugs bunny
Loud laughters of our together
Sound like a pure symphony!

She'll be gone now or then
I won't know why or when
And left again for that matter
Will be me and my inkpen!

Oh! Butterfly on a wing
She can dance and sing
I am only words, she says
Maybe rhymed, deep, lasting

But I am only words, she says
Yet I am speechless, dumbfound
She is the music of my present
But its nothing as it might sound!

Its probably not me!

It is not my day, it is not my style
I haven't been me, not all this while

Forget what I uttered, forgive what was muttered
In this state trust me, was unsaid what mattered

I am usually in control, usually I know my way
I don't know why today, why today I am astray

Maybe in your proximity, modulated by your attraction
I have lost my wits, got bewitched by this distraction

Oh! So much remained unsaid, oh! So much is unsung
But today I err and mistake, today noise rules my lung

Come tomorrow my dearest to see, the real side of me
I am usually funny and charming, ah! This isn't at all me!


The poem was written while attending a lecture; the professor was having a remarkably bad day, as he struggled with derivations, he muttered many sentences, which actually got woven into a poem of a lover who loses his wits in her presence!:)

October, 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Book Rev: The Unbearable Lightness of the Being by Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of the Being is a pithy masterpiece. The author captures the essence of the being of four or five chief characters, describing in an achingly beautiful, yet unobstrusive fashion, their thoughts and deeds, what weighs upon their souls, what rescues their selves from onerous existence. The infedilety and philandering of Tomas, the doubts and dreams of Tereza, the artistic idiosyncracies of Sabrina and the intellectual myopia and indulgences of Franz are as engaging as the philosophical and historical notes that flow through the story.

The novel is a deep and defining study of humanity in 20th century, of our hopes and failings, of the moral and material needs and our capacity for being tormented by our pasts and passions. There are paragraphs and paragraphs of poetic beauty, and yet everything is written in the most simple, straightforward sentences. The description of Karenin, the dog owned by Tereza, is brilliant, especially in the final chapter of the book. Another favorite chapter was on "words misunderstood", for in the romance between beings belonging to two different pasts and countries, seemingly same words assume drastically different connotations.

This is a mature novel, meant for readers who can look beyond the surface. On surface this is novel laced with sexual content and contexts, a novel that describes the gimmicks of communist Russia and their stay in Czech country, a novel that spurns philosophical ramblings interweaven with discussion about the "shit being a onerous theological problem". On surface the novel is story of infidelity. But deep down this is a novel that strikes chord with the intelligent reader on so many different levels, be it romance, ethics, interpretion, or our own complexities arising from our own unique pathways of life.

The novel weighed on me, confronted me with many issues, ideas and memories, and then at times, it relased me from my own suffocating and smothering thoughts and experiences. I highly recommend this novel. If you enjoy Lawrence, Joyce and Gibran, be introduced to Kundera, who carries the torch of modernist writing ahead: and in what style!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Random thoughts of a chaotic being!

What? When? Where? Why? How? Who?

To focus on research without worrying about papers and thesis, to get to thesis and publications without getting lost in endless tangents of ideas, to cultivate ideas that bring freshness and innovation without plunging headlong into the tunnels of inconsequence

To write freely, in verse or prose, as I always loved, but to write to be published, but how to find an agent to review my work, how to find interested publishers to talk them into showing interest in my poetry and unfinished novels, where to begin, where to end, how to do it without affecting my academic pursuits, how to priortize

To know more, must read more, and yet how to avoid becoming a cow that just chews the cud, feeding on the overgrowth coming from past and from feed collected by other hands, and to see to it that I know it all without being driven by the ideas and thoughts of others and yet being driven to think without influences when I know not right from wrong

To wait for the right person, yet spend no time or attention for looking for her, and to love without hurting, and yet yet hurting to love, and then dismissing all emotional stuff as farce and impediment in the pursuit of my goals, and then revising my goals to be utlimate happiness that requires both this and that, and yet it is quite so complicated as it is easy to fall prey into the reasonable and unreasonable demands of mind of body

To wake up and know what lies ahead in the day and to sleep with the knowledge that I accomplished what I planned, and yet to want each day to be a surprize and each day to be a discovery and to have the knowledge at the end of the day that whatever happened what an enriching experience, and yet not be lost in the grammer of experiences and acquiring vocabulary of knowledge to become literate and yet not literary, to become educated though not erudite, and yet requiring all it to happen at the same time in an ideal way

To labor in pursuit for acquiring requisite wealth to comfort aging parents and relieve myself of concerns that haunt my finances, and to have enough to travel across the globe and do so in an unplanned way, to discover humanity in the most unplanned destinations and yet know through my journey that there are no destinations that would be as enjoyable as the wanderings themselves

To progress without reducing myself into a machine set at achieving targets, to write without turning me into a loony scripter of freely selling nonsense, to have the child-like spirit of inquiry with the ability of an aged teacher, to have it all without the greed of anything, and to do it all and yet be detached enough to proceed without letting myself be engulfed by the endless potholes that are imbibed in the tortuities of illiterate self.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Book Review: Don Quixote by Cervantes

Don Quixote by Cervantes is often called the first modern novel and many rate it as one of the best novels ever written in any language. That itself stirs enough interest and curiosity for a reader like me, and trust me, reading the novel is a highly rewarding and entertaining experience. The plot and sub-plots are primarily guided by Don Quixote's obsession with knight-errantly, forming acts to chivalry and participating in adventures in a manner he read in such books. Sancho serves as his squire and complements and supplements his master in every possible way. Quixote is kind at heart, his every act is inspired by a good intention, a dreamer trapped in a body that prompts him to be called the "knight of rueful countenance", a loyal lover whose never set eye on her who he so praises and desires in a chaste way! Yet he is so full of imaginary tales and characters that he lives in a make-believe world, where he mistakes windmills for monsters, herds of sheep for armies, and so on, attacks them, defends them, and Cerventes manages to weave a saga of such events in a form that identifies with allegory, fable, epic and comic drama at the same time.

Panza, on the other hand, is a fatso, ever hungry for food, wine and money, full of practical sensibility as well as easily misguided simplicity, and is as entertaining a case study as his master. To complete the cast, are two unlikely prime characters: Rocinante, who is a horse as old and shrivelled as his master and Dapple, Sancho's donkey who Sancho considers more dear to himself than anything in the world.

The novel starts at a slow pace, and with the mention of alll sorts of established names of knight-errantry that must have been vogue in those times, Cerventes builds the stage for the rise of our hero. Since I have never read any of the described references, the first fifty or so pages seemed quite obstruse to me. Like for every classic, I knew I had to read on atleast 200 pages for characters to establish themselves. Thereafter, the various escapades and misadventures described in the two books follow like eagerly waited episodes. Again this is a novel that must be read piecemeal.

Besides the humor, knight-errantry, a quixotic master and a pragmatic but simple squire, Cervantes masterfully creates a plethora of characters and situations where he writes about love, war, God, Moors, government, wife, and every conceivable thing related to man as a social being. In some ways, the book is an elegant discourse on how things are and how they could be. Even the humor laden with satire is a subtle taunt at the way good people eat humble pie when their dreamt adventures are deemed ordinary by plotting evil enchanters.

The book is full of proverbs that Sancho throws into his every sentence, so many of these are hilarious and yet all carry the wisdom of that age saved in one epic saga. Similarly, there must have been a considerable play of words, as Sancho misuses and mispronounces many words, and the translator Smollett tries hard to capture some of these.

Don Quixote, in effect, has the appeal and humor to last the humankind forever, and we bow to thee O Cervantes! for creating such a cornucopia of wisdom and instruction for us humble readers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Come, lets in the wilderness meet!

Come, lets in the wilderness meet
Beneath the glittering night sky
On whispers of wind happily sing
In each others arms, snugly lie!

Come, lets in the wilderness meet
Beat in unison in passionate sighs
In labor of love discover together
Depths of feelings, ecstastic highs!

Come, lets in the wilderness meet
Leave the cares of world behind
In beastial, blissful moments enjoin
Unique, etheral memories of joy find!

Come, lets in the wilderness meet
From our city selves detached, free
In mystic hours of darkness reflect
The limits of us, the limitless me!

Vivek Sharma
Oct 04, 2005

Written while attending a seminar
Between 4 and 5 pm :)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu!

The way of Tao!

"True words are not fancy
Fancy words are not true"

The ancient wisdom flows across the centuries to illuminate us. The simple sentences are like calm seas, they have a great depth and greater treasures beneath, to be revealing only to them who dive and seek them.

"There is nothing better than to know that you don't know"

The whole text is laced with wisdom, insight, instruction and knowledge. A must read for everyone interested in Taoism, philosophy, morality, spirituality or with the plain desire to benefit from the immortal thoughts and works of this ancient great!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Broken Wings by Khalil Gibran!

Love, the source of eternal bliss and spirituality!

Gibran says, "I was eighteen years of age when love opened my eyes with its magic rays and touched my spirit for the first time with its fiery fingers and Selma Karamy was the first woman who awakened my spirit with her beauty and led me into the garden of high affection, where days pass like dreams and nights like weddings."

In his typical lyrical prose, interlaced with subtle imagery and deep philosophy, Kibran creates a masterpiece of first love. The story is poignant, and is full of platonic ideals, so characteristic of first love, especially in the East. I say so, as in the East, be it South Asia or the Middle East, first love is a cherished territory where spirituality overwhelms every idea of sexuality. The prose is delightful in content as well as intent, and is laced with a wisdom, so reminiscent of his most famous work, the Prophet.

Gibran always wrote short novels, and this one too is a short, but intense read. The sentences are rich with poetic descriptions, and the way author describes nature and love is refreshing, soothing, and beautiful.

I recommend Gibran to one and all. His writings may not appeal to you if you are looking for cheap thrills, but if you pine for a love story that defies the usual pot-broiler stuff, a love story full of purity and selflessness, read this one.

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran!

Deep thoughts, simple words!

Gibran's Prophet is the best example of how simple prose can be used to convey deep and powerful statement. As the name suggests, the book just recounts some sermons given by a prophet. The themes discussed include love, family, friendship, freedom, etc. This is one of those classsics that one must own and read every once in a while, for the wisdom in these words is bound to make every reader a better, completer person. It is a spiritual prose, full of deep insight and inspiration for one and all.

Some qoutes that I particularly like:

And ever it has been that love knows not his own depth until the hour of separation.

When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep.

Work is love made visible.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy can it contain.

Your house is your larger body.

And how shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than thier misdeeds.

For reason, ruling alone is a force confining;
And passion, unattended is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Your pain is breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

For self is a sea, boundless and measureless.

For vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.

In longing for your giant self lies your goodness and that longing is in all of you.

Trust your dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Reading this classic is like going down with fever!

Reading Crime and Punishment is quite like going down with fever, your mind is likewise affected for the while you are at it, and even when the fever is gone, you take some time to recover. Whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger, and so does this reading. Raskolnikov, the chief protoganist is a student who justifies to himself that a pawnbreaker must be killed, for betterment of world and himself; world as she cheats and leeches money from poor students and people like him, and himself as by taking her money he could use it for his own advancement. The first part of the novel describes this crime, while the latter part deals with punishment, most of which comes from within.

The novel is a forceful field of philosophy and religious undercurrents, that are primal forces that keep the reader in a state of feverish interest and persistant agony. Dostoyevsky's great success lies in creating this character, who in more ways than one, represents the nihilists in our inner selves. His character is a person that could reside in any one of us and his dark tale awes, bothers and compells the reader to delve into various moral and philisophical questions that form the subtext of this masterpiece.

Besides (the famous) Raskolnikov, there is a whole range of cast that completes Dostoyevsky's world of trauma and drama. The other main character of interest is Sonia, who must sell herself to keep her family well-fed. Raskolnikov encounters her, and their parallel sagas criss-cross many times. Right after committing the murder, Raskolnikov's mother and sister make an appearance, and without divulging much, I can say that with them the entry of several characters into the novel make it full of suspense and mystery as well. There are a bunch of detectives trying to discover the murderer of the pawnbroker and their efforts bring a sense of thrill into this otherwise dark and complex novel.

Like all classics, the story is just one aspect of the novel. Dostoyevsky is remembered more because of the narrative that forces ethical, existential, social and religious questions into the head and heart of the reader. This novel is a classic read for it pushes the reader over the edge of self-abnegation into a wild current of poignant self-appraisal. It is brilliant in its bringing a character like Raskolnikov into literary circles, and composing a story that will ail before it can cure.

Not an easy it. Not happy either. Classic and must read, nevertheless!

Lost in translation (v) song from Daddy (1991)

This is a beautiful song from the classic Daddy (1991), an inspired act by Anupam Kher, in Mahesh Bhatt's heartfelt direction, sung by Dilraj Kaur and Talat Aziz, Music by Rajesh Roshan and just incredible lyrics by Suraj Sanim).

Attempted translation

Sometimes in my dreams or thoughts, sometimes on the current of life
I am like an incomplete song, prim and polish me to give me a meaning!

That one some unnamed desire, those conversations with my self
On touching you I figured, the days of satisfaction have dawned!

Come and make abode my heart's city, I will grant you the earth and the sky
For I am afraid that your promiscuity, may not just the two worlds destroy!

I was living when I hadn't met you, but I won't be able to live if I lose you
My thirsts have been kindled, awakened, by your companionship, by your love!

Oh! This is the first night, when my hand is in your hand
It was decided from many days, I will win you by losing my all!


(The song in Hindi or Urdu :)!

kabhi khwab mein ya khyaal mein, kabhi zindgaani ki dhaar pe
mein adhura sa ek geet hun, mujhe arth de ke tu sawaar de!

woh benaam si koi juftzu, woh apnay aap se guftgu
tujhe choo liya toe mujhe laga, din aa gaye hai karaar ke!

mere dil ki nagari mein buss bhi jaa, tujhe baksh dun zameen aasmaan
mujhe darr hai teri awaargi, kahin do jahan na ujaar de

na milli thi tum toe tha ji raha, na milogi toe na ji paunga
meri tishnagi ko jaga diya, tere saath ne, tere pyaar ne!

go aaj pehli yeh raat hai, tere haath mein mera haath hai
tha bahut dino se yeh faisla, tujhe jeet lungi mein haar ke!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

From Unpublished Novel!

It was a soft pain, a pain that lingers through the several thousand miles that separated them now. A pain that lived across the distance, that survived the vagaries of time. He kept it cuddled close to him, like a soft toy hugged it through the endless , lonely nights. That was a part of him that none of his new friends knew. They treated him as someone who could enjoy life to the fullest, except that he had no girlfriend, and he never showed the inclination to have any!

He walked through the streets at night. The empty streets consoled him, understood him. The rustle of fallen leaves created the melodies that could soothe him. He must forget the past, he knew that, and yet past followed him like a shadow. It accompanied in every bright moment of his life. He was so used to thinking about her, that his momentary lapses into joy made him feel guilty, so much so, that these mistakenly enjoyed moments of joy were compensated by an elaborate ceremony of sadness.

Things changed when this sparkling stream of laughter splashed his face with her radiance. Her wit bewitched him, released him and eventually restrained him. The stream was a welcome breeze of promise of the future. A future that by being so, was going to grab him from the clasp of past and release him into promise of hope and possibility.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Faded Sarees!

Intro: Return of experimental poetry. Different colors, different people. Wrote most of these while attending a lecture on Quantum Mechanics, and you will see how deeply the subject affects me!


Faded Green Saree

She is a faded green saree now
Washed out by the torrents she left
In her wake, as she walked away
As she walked away through the
Muddy fields of my heart sown with
Seeds of my silent passion for her!

She is a faded green saree now
In patches she smells of past
The stains have rubbed her of
A glory I happily conjured for her
Her glow, her sheen is faintly visible
Ah! Still visible in my memories of past!!


Faded Red Saree

She is a faded red saree now
Consumed by the pest of past memories
She exists in the odour of moth balls
Her life is a listless wait in the dark
As newer hues have rendered her colourless
To those very eyes that once admired her!

She is a faded red saree now
Stranded in the nooks of neglect
She reeks of the mildew of sorrow
That fill her pores, for there isn't
A gush of wind to naughtily disturb
Her noted knack for a sauve silence!


Faded yellow saree

She is a faded yellow saree now
Stripped off in the savagery of moments
Moments of hatred and rage and duncanry
That swept the streets in the name of Gods
And tore apart the fabric, exposing
The hidden fears, the blackness of soul!

She is a faded yellow saree now
Dishonoured rode of a dismal time
Carrying the blotches of blood and fury
And silted with tears and ugliness
The soft tissues devored by beastliness
Lying in pieces the victim of crime!

Faded blue saree

She is a faded blue saree now
Crumpled and wrinkled, soft and supple
A gossamer separating living and etheral
She smells of years of loving sweat
That cradled and carried newborns
To lose her youth in the nights of labor!

She is a faded blue saree now
Still smells of Dettol and baby oil
That rubbed and scrubbed and earned
Her distinction of being the foster ma
The foster ma of a generation of joys, but now
Waiting for nirvana, for a recycled rebirth!

Faded pink saree

She is a faded pink saree now
Ah! She was the rose petal that
Fluttered in the thousand sighs
And bathed in the dew of delights
Shimmered in the morning of her prime
Now lies withered at dusk of existence!

She is a faded pink saree now
Was once perfumed of pheromones
And settled in the mind of every eye
Was once a lotus in blossom
Glorious in youth, in splendor
Now lies wilted, withered, forgotten!


(The classes thankfully last for a finite time)!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pink Flyod in Hindi: Wish you were here!

Wish You Were Here Lyrics

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.


Achcha tumhein lagta hai tum bata sakte ho
swarg ko narak se?
neela aakaash ko dard se?
kya tum bata sakte ho harey khet ko thandi salakhon se?
ek muskaan ko ghoonghat ki oat se?

kya tumhein lagta hai tum bata sakte ho?
Ya unhohne tumhein bech diye hai
tumhare yodhaon ke badale pret?
garam dhool, vrishakon ke badale?
garam hawa, thandey jhokon ke badale?
susth aaraam, parivaratan ki jagah?
aur kya tumne yudh mein chalnay ke badale le li hai pinjarey ki baadshahat?

Oh! tum yahan hotay, haan kitna chahataa hun ki tum yahan hotay!
Hum matr(a) doe bhatakti aataamein hai,
tair-ti aai hai machchali ki maratbaan mein
saal dal saaal
ussi puraani zameen par daudti firti
aur humne kyaa paaya hai
wahi puraaney khauff
kaash tum yahan hotay!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mann re (Lost in translation)!

One of my perennial favorites:
Lyrics by Sahir... Movie Chitralekha

followed by a lousy translation (done by me)!

Man Re Tuu Kaahe Naa Dhiir Dhare
Vo Nirmohii Moh Naa Jaane, Jinakaa Moh Kare
Man Re ...

Is Jiivan Kii Cha.Dhatii Dhalatii
Dhuup Ko Kisane Baa.Ndhaa
Ra.Ng Pe Kisane Pahare Daale
Rup Ko Kisane Baa.Ndhaa
Kaahe Ye Jatan Kare
Man Re ...

Utanaa Hii Upakaar Samajh Koi
Jitanaa Saath Nibhaa De
Janama Maran Kaa Mel Hai Sapanaa
Ye Sapanaa Bisaraa De
Koi Na Sa.Ng Mare
Man Re ...


O mind! Why aren't you patient
They heartless know no love, who you love so
Oh mind!....

This life's rising ebbing
Sunshine who could rein in
Who placed bars on hues
Beauty who could rein in
Why you endevour so
Oh mind....

Be gratified of as much as
Someone stands by thee
Union unto life and death's a dream
Set this dream free
No one dies with you
Oh mind!....

Soft Suds of Joy!

There were soft suds of joy about me
Bubbles that shimmered with the twinkle of
Your laughter that danced all around me
In the rainbow colors of dreams they showed me
You dazzled in the fiery passion of my eyes
Into realms of tranquility my desired towed me!

There were soft suds of joy about me
Bubbles that burst with the whispers of
Your silence that pinched all around me
In the transient moments of life they showed me
Beauty lies in instants, joy forms and fades
Into trance of oneness my desired followed me!

Vivek Sharma
Aug 31, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Da Vinci code : Much Ado about nothing!

"So did you finally read Da Vinci Code? What do you think of it?"

It is an overpriced, oversold, overhyped novel that reads like a cheap thriller! A murder mystery, spiced with lots of controversial stuff from Christian history and myths.

"Come on, don't tell me you thought it was that bad. Everyone who has read it is going gaga about it. There are talk shows on TV about it, it is the top bestseller, so much so that people have devored all books by the author, and they are even making a movie out of it. I know many people who call it brilliant."

Oh! Great! Who are those people? Have they ever read any good book ever. What is a good book you may ask? A book that engages your heart and mind, thoughts and imagination, challenges your beliefs by fueling ideas that seem rational and logical, or atleast sheds some light on the traits or lives of its characters, through which we can see ourselves and our world in a different perspective. A good book is like a window, an expedition where you enjoy the journey as much as the feeling of reaching the destination.

Da Vinci code is a grand collection of Christian myths, written in a style of a treasure hunt. A murder in the very beginning sets the motion going, with a Havard professor and the granddaughter of the murderer working their ways through clues leading to further clues. The clues are contained in churches, in da Vinci paintings and what not. What author does really well is directing this treasure hunt through rusty and dusty corridoors of heresey, spicing it up by mention of holy grail, secret societies, Mrs Jesus Christ, Newton, and so on.

The descriptions are quite poor as is the narrative. The flaws are as many as a 454 page novel can include. I guess the only reason why everyone is reading it is because everyone else has read it. The reading itself requires no effort, so once you start you can read it to the end. From close quarters I know, all my friends who failed to finish every decent book they picked up, finished this one with ease. Other books they tried required thinking and concentration, this one can be read on a cruise control mode.

"Aha! Vivek! I smell a hint of ego there. You think that since you read all sorts of classics that makes your opinion better than others? If the book is not great, why is everyone saying so? Why can't you just read a book just for the enjoyment of it? What is wrong with a book being entertaining or controversial?"

What you think are vestiges of my ego is what I call a pre-requisite for condemning or praising something. I don't think that opinion of people who hardly read anything should be used to define this novel as brilliant. Atleast give the other authors a reading, a hearing before drubbing this one as the best or the greatest or whatever.

Don't you see it, how hype and controversy can be roped into a movie or a book to rake maximum profits. You asked me if I enjoyed the book. Well, what really amused me was the really disappointing standards people set for themselves and for pronouncing something as good. I was expecting till the very end that the author will brandish his talents somewhere, somehow.

The book is entertaining and controversial, but please don't call it brilliant or a work of genius or a marvel of human imagination. It is these superlatives thrown around Dan Brown and his Da Vinci Code that bewilder me. I am sorry if this the best you have got than I must tell you that henceforth I will place no trust in your judgement.

(At this instant he smiles and keeping his hand on hers, says) But you haven't read it yet, have you? Judge it for yourself:)!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Back from Holland/ India: III

People II: An American, a Romanian and a Bangladeshi!!

I travelled through three continents, and this blog is about three females who crossed my way during my stay in Holland, and to some extend they represent the status of the woman in their respective continents/countries. Unless they read this blog and shout at the top of their voice that its them that I am qouting or misqouting (for a male memory stores conversations only in shorthand; the female records it on tape and keeps several copies in hidden corners of heart for future reference), unless they come forward, we can safely treat them as unknowns (similarity to people living or dead is coincidental, and no harm is meant to anyone anyway)! That being said, lets get on with some trans-continental talk!

American Woman (Let Lenny Kravitz play in the background)!

She was on a high, her puffs were loud and deep, the dope from her ciggarette permeated into the being of everyone around her, and everyone sat as if swooned by the swing of her words that she transmitted through clouds of smoke around her. Her eyes were radiant with naughty laughter, and she sat surrounded by half a dozen youngsters. Her hair fell in a careless cascade over a white face, a face that had flown across the continent to this haven of soft drugs. She said she made this annual pilgrimage for it soothened and strengthened her mental and emotional health. She must have been in mid-forties, was a veteran of divorces and broken relationships. Her jokes and teasing brought color to the cheeks of one and all; no subject was taboo, her advice raced from telling guys to tour the red light district to telling the girls to make most of their youth, though with the use of rubber as well to talking about her boyfriends from her glory days. (I sat at a distance, checking email, and overheard similar conversations whenever I returned to that site everynight). I saw that behind her loud laughter, the glitter of her dopey eyes, the clouds of smoking talk was a woman who was bitter, alone, sad.

The Romanian (For some reason, find Billy Joel's She'll always be a woman to me!)

I got out of the train. I had scribbled bus #7 on a piece of paper, and noted the name of station it would take me. Four days in Amsterdam had taught me the pleasure of seeing city on foot, and I was wondering if I could drag my baggage for whatever distance I needed to cover. A beautiful face caught my eye, there was an obvious smile on her face, her features were distinctly European, height about 5' 5", and by all means she was an attractive lady. This and past follies told me that she was smiling at someone else, which turned out to be unexpectedly false. "Here she comes, and I have no idea who she is. Maybe I remember her from another birth, but I don't think I can forget a beauty from this life" "Are you here for a summer school too", she asked in her heavy East European accent. I was stumped, smashed, hit in the belly, struck by lightning..... for not only she was pretty she spoke in an accent that totally tingles every hair on my body.

"I am here for Soft Matter conference." "Oh! God knows what that is.. I am here for an art school, " she spurted, and I noticed her hand stretched out, "Sarah." "I am Vivek." "Are you an Indian? Oh! I totally totally love India. Its such a crazy place." I thought to myself, this is interesting beginning and asked aloud if she had travelled to India. She had already found a bench and as she chatted with a breathtaking speed, in that wonderful accent, with words flowing out of her mouth laden with the morning smell of unbrushed teeth, she bade me to sit down as well, and I was feeling quite stupified and amused and entertained while she continued in a monologue in a voice that pitched and peaked and swelled and sounded like a river stream in wilderness. In spite of everything, I was paying attention (or so I imagine now). OK! There were all these words hovering around me, almost like butterflies and they seemed to have emerged from the person sitting next to me!

(Read like Russians speak English, and read it at a good speed and read it as if the beautiful girl is talking to you;) "I went to India last year. It was all crazy will all the bright colors of what you call them, duppatta and suits, though dunno why you use english word suit for such a traditional wear. Oh! The orange, the reds, the blues. I loved that long piece called sareee that my friend bought for me at Banaresh. Banaresh was so cool, though you know what there was this guide who was totally smitten by me and would come banging at my door at night, all drunk and called me his sweetheart or something and I had to just bolt my door from inside and he really scared the shit out of me. In morning he would say sorry and present thousand entreaties, but I tell you now I laugh about it, but that night I was more scared than I have ever been in my life. Then I was in Pune where there used to be pimps who would offer us a choice between quite well dressed guys who would hang about us and it was so totally fun. My friend, a curious one she is, was all giggles as the pimp outlined the cost price of each one. And later he asked us if we did not want to spend money, he could arrange for us to earn some. You don't seem to believe me Vivek, but that is how things were and it was so insane (giggles). All the rickshaw people are such cheats, they would ask me 200 ruppees for what otherwise costs just 10 ruppees. I later learnt to bargain, and bargain hard, but in initial few days people everywhere wanted to rip off every penny they could. Oh! Your country is so so spiritual, and I became friends with this Lama. The lama had really nice muscles I believe from doing Yoga and I teased him what use his muscles be. I dunno how they live all their life without marrying or fucking for that matter. Its such a waste, but he taught me how to meditate. Do you know how to, for it really relaxes ones mind!"

"Oh! I did not spend much on anything except on the motorbikes that I took for hire and the gas I used. I would find people like you, nice people and ask them if I could stay with them. Your country is so secretive about sex and all, that I knew there could be no risk and it would be really nice home cooked meal and I travelled all around Madhya Pradesh, Sanchi Stupa and Ellora caves and went to that extremely sensual temple at Khajurao. There it is evident that you are really in the land of Kamasutra, all those statues intertwined in most complex of ways. Calcutta was just swarms and swarms of people. I was though unable to go to Rishikesh, but I did go to Kashmir and you believe it or not I attended a Muslim wedding and that girl was so happy even though she had never met that woman. Do Hindu-Hindi also have arranged marriage."

I went through the ritual of explaining how arranged marriaged worked well in our society and if I had no one to be really crazy about, arranged marriage was an arrangement that could provide me with a nice lifepartner, etc etc. She ventured to ask me if I would be willing to marry a non-Indian and I stopped short of asking "iraade kya hai" (what are your intentions?)

"Hey! Guess what my birthday is next week. Why don't we plan and celebrate it together? It will be so much fun." What date? "Sixteenth". Oh I will be gone by then. "I have to take bus #8, and I better get going," she said, "here is my email and do write to me and lets meet in coming few days when you are here, and maybe we can eat, drink and party."

Well, she missed two #8 after that, we talked or rather she talked on and on about India, Romania, love, intercontinental travel, lamas, spirituality, Indian food, marriages, temples and how she planned on going to another trip to India. Of course, now she had another place to stay there. (My parents would be scandalized if she appeared at home and talked like she did here. Maybe they will ask her to try "daatun" on her teeth). Eventually, like all good things and beautiful women, she parted, said a goodbye, and I guess (sigh!!) that is the end of this story!

The Bangladeshi

Finally I arrive at the conference site. This was my first day in the city, and I had walked over three miles to this site, using map, my feet, and directions provided by the Dutch people. Few minutes later, she arrived, dragging a huge suitcase and carrying a heavy bag that made her lean to a side. She arrived in a saree, wrapped on her head, and she was also wearing a sweater. After having spend nearly a week in Amsterdam, she seemed to be grossly overdressed to me. At this instant she was struggling to drag her suitcase. Reading a book on chivalry, that too Don Quixote means that you have to help a damsel in distress (well, I guess I would have helped otherwise too, but thinking about knights lends it extra glamour).

"Are you from India?" The questions irks me when it comes from someone I believe can tell from my face that I am from India. Still, I said yes, (though I really wanted to say Mongolia) and figured that her bags were heavier than my wildest imagination could have told me. It turned out that she was to be my next door neighbour, and I somehow managed to drag her bags to her room. This reminded me of my friend, who often says that unless I start going to gym with him, I will turn out to be a useless husband! Meanwhile I learnt that she was from Bangladesh, a graduate student like myself (though she was mother of two and employed as an Assistant Professor), had left her country only second time, it was her first time in Europe, she had travelled from the airport in an overpriced taxi and that whether I liked it or not, I was going to have company.

"Hey Vivek! You don't seem to understand. The reception is in the city center. It took me fifteen minutes to get here in the taxi from there. Lets find a bus, why must you insist on walking?"

Well, I walked from the city center to this dorm, and that was right after I came into the city. So I know its doable, more so as now the baggage in not there. I really believe that you cannot know a city unless you tred through its streets and bazaars. Why don't you take the bus?

"I don't know how?"

Its like taking any local bus in say Bangladesh.

"I have never set my foot in a local bus. And I come from a family where we never walk any distance."

I was getting irked. She refused to walk, and she had never travelled in the bus. A rich man's wife and a rich man's daughter she must have been, and for all I cared I could have left her right there. What was particularly annoying as well was that while she had all her registration dues waived (as she was coming from third world country), she was carrying cell phone, making international calls, and even here in foreign country she wanted a stranger to arrange for the luxuries she was used to. I remained adamant, and well, she walked (asking me to promise that we would travel in bus on our way back). I found a British guy who wanted to walk as well, and we both had to slow down considerably to let her catch up with us. A theorist is always fun to talk to, and as we ambled on, I listened to what he was working on, and felt the thrill of being back in the scientific world. She looked miserable, for walking pained her as much as his accent and talk about theoretical stuff. (At the end of the day, we did take a bus, and that too after a nice dinner in a desi restaurant that my particularly large nose helped us to find!)

We saw each other a lot in coming few days, for reluctantly or otherwise I was the only help she could find around the place. For me talking to people is no problem (if you haven't noticed by now, you better see me soon). A part of me sympathized with her, for she was so far away from a place where she had everything provided for. A part of me was irked to the limit for she seemed to quite inflexible in her demands and choices. Coming from a middle class family in India, I have been taught to be flexible, to bear stuff with smile, to bear hardship with the same joy as one takes joy in success. Anyways, the last day of our trip came and she had already asked me several times if I could help her shop for her kids and kins. So I decided to show her the city of Amsterdam and help her with buying the gifts.

The bags had become no lighter, and she finally got it that travelling for a week does not require half a quintal worth of stuff. (Though I do thank her for carrying sugar, cream and tea-bags, for life without tea is not worth living)! Visiting the souvenier shops in Amsterdam makes it pretty clear that you are in the sex capital of Europe. The dolls, toys, T-shirts, pendents, postcards, key chains, wall hangings, are all tokens, reminders of the city known for prostitutes, sex, right light district, dope laws and liberal eroticism. Here I was with a person coming from a country of purdah, the land of fanatic censorship, the religion of absolute covertness. But thankfully Amsterdam also has souveniers that remind us that its the city of canals, of Anne Frank, Van Gogh and Rembrandt (though these three were as unknown to her as my the description of my PhD research), and that its the land of windmills, crafted and painted wooden shoes, pottery and the Dutch cows (that have black patches on white bodies, as if the creator had dropped ink on them, and the ink got smudged)! She wasn't impressed with Amsterdam "The buldings are so old, not only old, but old-fashioned. People have no style or sense of clothing. (I wondered hmmm she saw no street in the red light district and still!!). The shops are full of bad stuff. There are too many cyclists as if no one owns cars here. I see no beauty in these canals or having houses near canals. These bazaars are narrower than the new ones in Dacca. I know these women have too much freedom, so much that they care more for their false beauty than for kids. Everywhere you go you see people behaving like gluttons, eating and drinking with relish. Drinking wine in bright daylight!! (But sun sets at 11 pm, I thought)! Neither the architecture nor the people impressed me at all."

Maybe my grandmother would agree with her. She had irked me the most at times, I guess more because she had an attitude, a way of thinking that I know exists in my home country as well, and that there was no escape from that. She was in more ways than one, like most desi women are in their thirties. After bidding goodbye to her, and receiving her numerous thanks and a box of chocolates, I sat down first to ridicule her, but soon I was admonishing myself. The woman I had for many days criticized and looked down upon as intrasient, rooted in ageless religious and communal bigotry, incapable of taking care of herself and ignorant of the existence of the artists and scientists I most valued, the woman I have perhaps talked about in the same tone was my initial thoughts about her were..... that very woman turned out to be perfect as a devout Muslim, a doting mother, a devoted wife and a prized daughter. The American had smoke and humor, but it veiled her bitterness and sorrow, the Romanian had romance and risk, though her thoughts proved that she was quite shallow but it was the Bangladeshi who turned out to be happier and at peace with herself and her life. I guess I have a lot to learn, and become more tolerant and less critical from next time.

PS: Next blog travels to India. Many people I met can sleep easy, for they will not make an appearance in my writings soon!