Sunday, February 27, 2005

A cup of tea - TWO!

When I asked her
If she wanted a cup of tea
She happily drank from my cup
And left me thirsty, vacant, empty!


A cup of tea
In her soft hands
Snuggled lovingly
As she draws in
Sweet warmth
In sip after sip
With pouting lip
And closed eyelids
Fills my soul with
Love, longing, myth!

A cup of tea
Held gingerly
As she whispers
Delicate nothings
Into my stupefied ears
I slowly swallow
Hers warm words
In measured breaths
Unsettling the rhythm
Of my heart, life, hymn!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

All in a day!

Disclaimer: If you are one of my several advisors or coworkers, believe not a single word written here!

In any case, what is written here is actually meant to be read after 100 years if I turn out to be rich, famous or successful!

Since what follows is a tantrum thrown by a graduate student learning to deal with himself and his romance with chaos and failures, read at your own risk@

Better, stop here:)!

Woke up at wrong hour!

Called up a friend few hours too early as I miscalculated the time difference: happens when you wake up in the middle of the night (ouch! it was 6 am, but in my world of midnight sun, it was middle of the night!) Of course, I was the only one who thought it was funny!

Wasted too many minutes pondering over the case of Saurabh who claimed to have topped a non-existent NASA exam and in the process got late for a meeting! Thankfully no one asked for excuses:)!

Wrung out some solutions to homework problems a day in advance! This level of punctuality is quite uncharacteristic to my style!

After scratching my head for more than a day, and this time it was not due to dandruff, figured what was required to make headway in my experiments on chaos in drops. But left soon after to have another meeting.

Understood that making progress with projects and papers on gold naorods and liquid crystals would require more mettle and brain power than I can muster this weekend and yielded to the desire of having coffee.
Ran out of the coffee drinkers who provide the necessary sweetness to dilute the bitterness of the day, and then figured there was no food in fridge or home, so ran down to student center and after much brainstorming ate breadsticks while watching "Ten things I hate about you" all in mute. The experience was so harrowing that I actually ended up getting some bright ideas about how to progress on the front of liquid crystals, and hopefully making them work wouldn't require another luncheon of breadcrumps!

Ideas are like rain on desert sand, they vanish unless you build tanks to hold them, and tanks require prolonged effort@! I guess my small steps of each day will one day become giant leaps for mankind, or better humankind, but that day most probably come a day after the judgement day!

Had half an hour to kill before another set of experiments on light scattering were to be done in another building, with another friend. Thought of revisiting The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, and a walk to the library revealed that my day was not going to get any better, Seth had disappeared from the library (like every other useful book and person does when you go to find them there). So held up Nabokov's Ada, and after 20 minutes of 20 pages of heavy reading, returned to lab with East, West by Salman Rushdie instead.

The light scattering experiments flopped, had another coffee as condolence, and when all seemed to have fallen apart, Rushdie provided the necessary comic relief. Walked home purposefully, and was delighted to see that two books had arrived: Soft and Fragile Matter: Nonequilibrium Dynamics, Metastability and Flow and other one full of beautiful pictures and puns: Cells, Gels and Engines of Life. Munched a few chapters of the former, felt intellectually charmed and dozed off to a crooning Lata to dream about days of higher productivity. The book provided the real motivational sentences the page 1 itself, for example "we are still fumbling in the dark", making me feel better about myself. Though ignorance is bliss only as long as you are blissfully ignorant of your ignorance!

Woke up, cooked Daal Chawal Paneer, didn't think I cooked them as well as I usually do, read more of Rushdie's East, West, (its awesome read!!!, esp on a day like today) and played cricket in the living room all before dinner! Giggles swarmed the two hours spent here, and life is not all that bad was an instant conclusion as hot tea tricked optimism to return to my heart and head.

Walked off to Physics building, in search of solace, and found peace by looking at pictures taken during a successful week of July!! Called the hour spend there BIG progress and returned home to finish the homework on Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos! The nearly full moon tried to raise tides of emotion in me, and to silent the seas within, I turned to this blog!

See what mess you've ended up reading
Didn't I warn you before/?

So its all your mistake!

Maybe my tantrum became a fulcrum of your own conundrums!

For me, a few hours remain (still).

Miracles can always happen. (But they won't happen today)

Good night!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Himachal Pradesh: How to increase growth and employment?

Being from Himachal Pradesh, I have often thought about various reasons why my home state has remained underdeveloped compared to adjoining states. The topology of the state does not allow agriculture or heavy industries as a viable solution to raise the standard of earning and living of the people. Like every problem, this one suggests several solutions, which if implemented well can provide for most families of HP easily and efficiently.

1) Tourism: HP needs to reinvent itself as a heaven for tourists. This industry if properly planned provide for resorts, planned spots for housing, preservation of forests and cleaner vertical growth: Should be modeled and marketed like Switzerland. Already some efforts have been made in this direction. The ropeways in Parwanoo, the sking spots in Manali are good efforts. There is a big market for adventure sports (like upcoming ones in Garwal area), and the infrastructure required is minimal. The tourist growth needs to channelized to areas of higher revenue. Many waterfalls are either inaccessible or too poorly maintained. There is a fortune to be made everywhere if by introducing Rs 10 tickets waterfronts are made more accessible, spots on hill-tops are opened up to trekkers and campers, and these sites maintained digilently. We could have stuff like in Corbett Park, etc. right in hills everywhere. Loghuts and cottages can be created in a variety of natural places, and these can be made to cater to all types of tourists. The idea is to install them in natural bacdrop, without requiring concrete jungles of Shimla, Solan and Nahan!

2) Holticulture and floriculture: School texts call HP fruit bowl of India. Serious efforts ought to be made to utilize and market the fruits. Either HPMC should be privatized or HP government should rope in companies like Hindustan Lever who have capability of marketing fruit products better. Also a fortune is to be made in production and marketing of flowers (like it is done in Holland). Present HPMC units are quite inefficient and trust me require better management and scientists.

3) Education: Already HP has some good boarding schools , perhaps we can provide for several such places for education. In fact, from prehistoric times Himalayas have been the best locations for schooling, and HP goverment just needs to open a few places to allow for building of educational townships. Also we must invest in making REC/NIT Hamirpur, IGMC Shimla, HP University and other educational institutes and colleges as attractive locations for education and research. HPMC and fruits/flower industry should be roped in to make serious advances in botanical and agricultural research (unlike the present YS Parmar Institute in Solan, Palampur College or places like Mushroom Institute in Chambaghat) that are incapable of producing any competitive research and development activity. Private funding can help Hamirpur engineering college to produce more marketable engineers. Somehow we need to inculcate the habit of striving harder in our students, so that they can not only compete on national and international level, but also use their ability to take Himachal to being a progressive place it deserves to be.

4) Rethinking hydro-electric projects and cement plants, which have caused more commotion than growth, more erosion than profit, more pollution than production. I still believe that most hydro-electric power plants in my state are heavily underulitized. We need to set research and development activity that helps to keep these units most profitable and use part of the profit to run the research activity. The cement plants owe a heavy social responsibility and need to invest in development of strategies of minimizing erosion, respiratory diseases, etc., and must be likewise asked to provide a part of profit to provide for betterment of the state.

5) Baddi, Barotiwala, Parwanoo, Nalagarh, Mehatpur, and all the similar towns declared as industry hubs need critical appraisal and reinvention. The problems are multiple. The Industries need a particular level of infrastructure which must be provided for. Next roads need improvement. But most importnat is recovery of money from the hundred of sick establishments that opened and closed in these places, leaving behind a trail of pollution, wastage and improper land use. The problem has to be tackled by roping in industry bigwigs as advisors, and inducting experts on city planning and pollution control.

6) HP has enormous potential as the site of choice for shooting movies. Unlike the previous projects (one was in Kunihaar I believe), Kullu, Dalhousie, Shimla, and Lahaul should provide for small villages/towns catering to just cinema. In fact it would be great to couple the cinema with other visual arts and make selective places as hubs of artistic activity. The Museum in Patlikool could be used as a model for this.

7) Ayurveda and Nature Therapy: Himachal is full of herbs. The Ayurveda colleges must take initiative with help of some good labs and industries to identify a range of naturally abundant plant products that can be marketed everywhere.

8) Handlooms, Pattu, Shawls, carpets: these are and always will remain as big draws. We need to market them better than Khadi Bhandars manage to do.

We have finite means, but infinite potential for growth and development. Key ingredient is going to be efficient planning, production and marketing. HP Government needs to take proactive steps to rope in private sector for financing some of these enterprises, and must provide for efficient management of funds and facilities. The lethargy of Tourism, Khadi Bhandar, HPMC, Educational Institutes has to be done away with. Sick establishments must be cleaned up. We need policies that provide for preservation, for efficent land management and reuse, and for highly modernized and structured way of handling matters. There are ways of making things better, but identifying them is not enough. We need to do so much before Himachal is Switzerland for tourists, flourishing fruit bowl of India, flower bed in full blosson like Holland's fields idealized in Hindi Movies, heaven of adventure sports, the respected gurukul and education hub, state on fast tracked research activity in holticulture and other areas, and full of people who spread and flourish in and outside state.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

One hundred years of solitude - afterthoughts!

One hundred years of solitude is a work of genius. Marquez takes us through the lives and times of atleast six generations of Buendia family, weaving one magical imagery over the other, layers and layers of fantasy build into characters and daily reality. The writer is a poet, with his metaphors taking the center stage and creating a marvellous world of miracles and half-truths, of lies that defy several laws of physics and yet are amusing and interesting.

His novel is like a river flowing backwards from the ocean, and likewise he traces the trajectories of all its tributeries, rather mulls over the genesis and fall of each one, and describes all the floods, draughts, tides, swells and ebbs, in an continuous stream of highly imaginative narrative. Maybe my review is written in a rather unoriginal copy of the style of Marquez, and might appear full of long sentences. The same style in hands of this master sees flowering of an amazing piece of literature. It is rich in literary, scientific and philosophical meanderings, its full of several forms of life, each form of life is swamped by the overwhemling current of times, each generation discovers for itself love, lust, intrigue, tastes and temptations, talents and tempests.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez never ceases to amaze me, every sentence is a work of art. The book is sufficiently complex to keep one engrossed for weeks. Most pages are too mindboggling to be handed more than a few at a time. He supplies your imagination with so much matter that you can almost sense your brain cells seething with creativity or to say the least a pleasant confusion and agitation. The book is full of mysteries and laughter, massacres and births, people who have same names, flying carpets, Sanskrit, alchemists, wars, women who live to hundred years of age, bastards, failed and flourished businesses, and every imaginable occupation that can be thought of in a small time AND MUCH MUCH MORE. Read it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A cup of tea - ONE

It is time to experiment! I will write as many poems on a cup of tea as humanly possible and post them all here! So all these will be numbered, and will appear over next several weeks:)

Boiled dry, dead leaves,
brewed till bitterness spreads
into the agigated water,
spiced with cardamom, ginger,
the blackness conquered
by milk - white and cold,
a brown puddle in heat
maddened by the boils
temptutous till it is rescued
and poured through a filter
only to be doused by
the sleepish, sloshy cells
that somehow believe
a cup of tea fill them
with imagination and relief!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Some of my favorite poems!

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it's queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Where The Mind is Without Fear

by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake



by W. H. Davis

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

How do I love thee?

by Elizabeth Berret Browning

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Voted world's best love poem!)

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!

Black, Bachchan, Bhansali, Raani and Beauty!

Bhansali must be specially gifted to direct such a movie. I would not venture to write paragraphs full of adulation, or seek shortcomings in the movie, but I might suggest to you that you must watch this movie for the following reasons:

1) Hellen Keller is a legend in her own right. Perhaps this movie explores certain aspects of her life, and the life of millions who cannot hear or see. Most of us are living like deaf, mute and blind, impervious to the sounds of conscience to do something, ignorant of challenges that people face every moment of their life, unconscious of possibilities and in many respects, we are lame, toothless, tongueless creatures! Its not easy to see what is wrong with yourself and your life. If shortcomings exist, one needs to fight them and rise above them. The movie has this undercurrent, and hence is inspirational.

2) Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Cinema is art in motion, poetry and painting on screen with music in the background. As always, the art and science of movie-making finds the insightful and dreamy, but wise heart and head of Bhansali. The man really loves his craft!

3) Its different. Its songless but still lyrical. Its danceless, but has foot and arm movements that will sway your emotions. It lacks the usual melodrama, tears flow out slowly, silently, on their own. It has moments where you foster delicate smile that springs not from the corner of your eyes but from the sigh in your throat.

4) This movie shows and demands a certain degree of respect and sensibility from the audience. It is not made for giggles, it is not designed for fun, it is not directed to set box-office on fire. It might win accolades that come with doing something well. It is elitist, and elitism is good at times.

5) Actors have done a great job. For a difficult job of this scale, Ayesha, the little girl has acted really well. Rani, Bachchan and everyone who shares screen space with them have made an effort to perform as well as possible.

Maybe things could have been done differently, maybe they can be done better, but Black, in the way it has been done now is BEAUTIFUL, touching and worth watching!

Cheers to Bhansali!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Catharisis! (from the unpublished novel)

To be born again, to wake up and be purged of all memories associated with her, to alter the past so well as to make it free of all that went wrong, to the extent that any inking of lost love, unrequited feelings would become a foregone conclusion - he wished so. He wished it so much that he spent hours thinking about the possible methods of doing so. Only if our heads and hearts were a bunch of electrical circuitry in computers, where with a press of a button, every undesirable file or folder or history is easily erased. Or perhaps if there was a real method of acquiring amnesia, say by eating wild berries as he was told in his childhood or by smelling fumes of mercury. A more dramatic way was recently shown in the "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind", though the most melodramatic ones have been repeatedly shown in Bollywood flicks. Bollywood flicks, though, have some movies, where the person remembers a history of his previous life too. He shuddered at the very notion of having the miseries of past life coming to haunt him when he was already bogged down by his present state of affairs. A friend once suggested getting stoned could induce temporary relief, but he was too sane to exhange hallucinations with his hopelessness.

Catharisis: ah! that is what he figured was needed. Harsh measures suggested themselves. He immersed himself into the detailed effort of making every chore an effort towards achieving perfection. The daily chores that were second nature to him, now were turned into noble acts towards acquiring perfection, clarity of thought, delightful purity of toil, acts of conscious efforts towards achieving a perfect state of being in harmony with the world, and in peace with himself! Soon he discovered how hard it was to pay continuous attention to trivialities, and went to the other extreme by starting to neglect everything. It was during this period of turmoil that Shashi walked into his life. She entered quietly, for he was too busy with nothing in particular to notice her or anyone. She came in noiselessly, dusted off the nooks of his heart that had become smelly and stuffy with the months of neglect, opened the windows of his mind that he had closed mourning for the loss of love and the loss of his old self, she opened the windows and let in fresh wind of her sparking laughter. Shashi woke him up from his months of abstraction, months in which he thought about Kavita as relentlessly as he wanted to avoid thinking about her. Shashi groomed him afresh, brought twinkle back to his eyes, charm into his words, and even before Kalpit knew it, he found himself glowing in the radiance of Shashi's attention.


{I guess I can post conversations sometime. This novel will probably never get finished, for it is too melodramatic, too much Mills and Boons while the other two are both more energetic, have more comedy, and read better: maybe I will finish them in this lifetime, and maybe one of these days you would pick them off the shelf. Well, I am sure you can see why I call myself a dreamer!!}

The wagging tongues!

The wagging tongues, the gossip machines
The wombs of rumour, the lying spleens
An ode to your charms, inspired by your speech
Ah! What all unimagined is not within your reach!

As you toil hard to produce new chatter,
And spiritually disassociate mind from matter
What brilliant wit, what wry smile, makes your day
In somebody's absence, what tricks your whispers play!

Ah! You judges, you keepers of faith and morality
Ah! From mediocrity, you derivers of authority
Ah! You scorpions that carry venom in tail to sting
Ah! What torments your good-natured commments bring!

May you be trapped in your own complications
The underhanded meanness of your conversations
May your tongues be as twisted as your imagination
And may you suffer worse than your caused consternation!

May your venom feed on your own mortal soul
May your own life stray into sagas of incontrol
May your crap be the crop you need to feed on
And in the end, you be the only one to bleed on!

The wagging tongues, the gossip machines
May chaos permeate into your daily routines
May you live to regret all that was said and done
And for friends and foes, you never have anyone!

PS: It can be quite therapeutic, to shout out your anger in verse
Maybe the the poetry is bad, trust me wagging tongues are worse!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Vikram Seth's All you who sleep tonight and more!

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
And emptiness above -

Know that you aren't alone
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.
---Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth is one of my favorite authors. I have read almost everything he has published, and found all his writings masterpieces of his remarkable ability as a poet, storyteller, and as a person who understands and decribes pain and passion really, really well. You may look at the list of his books at! As you might gather, "All you who sleep tonight" is a wonderful verse! It is also the title of a collection of poems.

Here are a few others that I shamelessly copied from some websites. The best link about every post-colonial Indian author including Seth is!

Best book: The Golden Gate: if you have not read it yet, find a copy now!

I have to speak - I must ! - I should - I ought . . .
I'd tell you how I love you if I thought
The world would end tomorrow afternoon.
But short of that . . . we'll it might be too soon.

Prandial Plaint
My love , I love your breasts, I love your nose
I love your accent and I love your toes
I'm your slave. One word and I obey
But please don't slurp your coffee in that way.


Sit, drink your coffee here; your work can wait awhile.
You're twenty-six, and still have some life ahead.
No need for wit; just talk vacuities, and I'll
Reciprocate in kind, or laugh at you instead.

The world is too opaque, distressing and profound.
This twenty minutes' rendezvous will make my day:
To sit here in the sun, with grackles all around,
Staring with beady eyes, and you two feet away.

Catch more poems at

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Mujhe tum nazar se: Mehdi Hasan!

Thanks to a new friend, I discovered the following incredible Ghazal by Mehdi Hasan!

I might put up a translated version in English later! It is almost impossible to translate poetry, but there are emotions that transcend language. Atleast those emotions can be captured in translation.

Mujhe tum nazar se
Giraa toe rahe ho
Mujhe tum kabhi bhi
Bhulaa na sakoge!

Na jaane mujhe kyun
Yakeen ho chala hai
Mere pyar ko tum
Mitaa na sakoge!

Meri yaad hogi
Jidhar jaoge tum
Kabhi nagma banke
Kabhi banke aansoo
Tadapta mujhe har
Taraf paoge tum
Shama joe jalayi hai
Meri wafaa ne
Bujhaana bhi chaaho
Bujhaa na sakoge!

Kabhi naam baaton mein
Aaya joe mera
Toe bechaain ho ho ke
Dil thaam loge
Nigaaho mein chayega
Joe gum ka andhera
Kissi ne joe poochaa
Sabab aansu-o ka
Bataana bhi chaho
Toe bataa na sakoge!

Page 3, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sandhya and all that!

Page 3! It is an interesting, engrossing take on the celebrities that occupy the Page 3 of our increasingly gossipy newspapers. Konkona Sen Sharma, Sandhya and Atul are just brilliant, and the movie manages to bring to light the real and dark shades of the glamorized characters of the hoi polloi of our society. It presents a good montage of Page 3 events in the beginning. The characters are shown to mature as the movie progresses, and people find all sort of ways to reach their aspired goals. Introspective at times, the director takes time to mock the charades of Bollywood stars, cricketers, politicians and administration.

I loved the movie, the concept, the characters. The movie is not perfect, but has enough meat in it to becomes a post-modern classic for people who like movies that go beyond the usual Bollywood recipies. The songs by Lata greatly enhance the emotional appeal of the scenes where they appear in background.