Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pearl Earrings

My dearest, must I talk trivia
Keep you interested with jokes
Twisted stories, spiced to entertain
Must I charm you with etiquette
Eloquent discourses on artsy movies
Display my softer side with tears-
Shed earnestly at the sight of a dying Ape
Must I spend money at restaurants
Buy flowers that wither fast, fade
Fill your rooms with presents
Must I do it all, earnestly
And never show lust or hope
Must I suffer silently, yet smile
Wait for you to define my role
And then, must I not complain
If you decide it won't work out
Atleast refund me pearl earrings
I'll hate it if you wear them
And look pretty for someone else.

29 March, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A poem and a translation

Just found an amazing blog, with extremely well-written poems.

Here is an example copied from there:
that moment
that moment when the ball runs into
the fiercely protected muddy patch
exactly as it's supposed to

that moment when he turns shyly,
scans the crowd, a gleaming smile
on his dirt-stained little face

for the rotund happy woman
who points him out as her own
claiming him while she still can

that moment when a boy leaps up
and catches the sun
in his perfect little fist

that moment

posted by Anindita

I am taking the liberty of translating it, somehow seems perfect for the purpose.

woh lamha

woh lamha jab gaindh ja girti hai
daldal mein, laangh ke sab deewarein
theek waise hi jaise hona hai

woh lamha jab sharmatay sharmatay
woh murta hai, bheedh ki ore dekhta
dhool dhooshrit chehray par muskaan liye

uss moti, khush aurat ke liye
jisnay ik issaray se ussay
chunn liya hai apnay liye

woh lamha jab koodh kar
woh ladka thaam leta hai sooraj
apni majboot, nanhi muthi mein

woh lamha

(So its a translation of Anindita's poem, its NOT my poem)!

Always the bridesmaid, never the groom

Always the bridesmaid, never the groom
Why do nice guy's, finish last, role I assume?
Why do I nourish, for years their laughter
Care for their tastes, ear for their chatter?
And why, at the altar, alternatives step-in
To usurp my own, happy ending in making?

Always the bridesmaid, never the groom
My friends concur, I script my doom.
They say, "You are awfully nice, to ready to please
But to titilate their amorous self, you need to tease.
You can endear them, my friend, only through your flaws
Active persuasion, relentless avowals, even stone thaws."

Always the bridesmaid, never the groom
When will, my true love, come to bloom?
When will my muse, marry my composition
Fill me with lust, no scruples on imagination?
When will my existance, my greatest triumph assume
My jealous "ex-es" be bridesmaids, myself be the groom?

Jan 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

One of my favorite poems!

रात yun कहने लगा मुझसे गगन का चाँद

रात yun कहने लगा मुझसे गगन का चाँद,
आदमी भी क्या अनोखा जीव HOTA है!
उलझनें अपनी बनाकर आप ही फँसता,
और fir बेचैन हो जगता, न सोता है।

जानता है तू ki मैं kitna पुराना हूँ?
मैं चुका हूँ देख मनु को जनमते-मरते
और लाखों बार तुझ-से पागलों को भी
चाँदनी में बैठ स्वप्नों पर सही करते।

आदमी का स्वप्न? है वह बुलबुला जल का
आज उठता और कल fir फूट जाता है
kintu, fir भी धन्य ठहरा आदमी ही तो?
बुलबुलों से खेलता, kavita बनाता है।

मैं न बोला kintuु मेरी ragini बोली,
देख fir से चाँद! मुझको जानता है तू?
स्वप्न मेरे बुलबुले हैं? है यही पानी?
आग को भी क्या नहीं पहचानता है तू?

मैं न वह जो swapan पर केवल सही करते,
आग में उसको गला लोहा बनाता हूँ,
और उस पर नींव रखता हूँ नये घर की,
इस तरह दीवार फौलादी उठाता हूँ।

मनु नहीं, मनु-पुत्र है यह सामने, जिसकी
कल्पना की जीभ में भी धार होती है,
वाण ही होते vichaaronं के नहीं केवल,
swapan के भी हाथ में तलवार होती है।

swarg के सम्राट को जाकर खबर कर दे-
रोज ही आकाश चढ़ते जा रहे हैं वे,
rokiyeे, जैसे बने इन swapanवालों को,
swarg की ही ओर बढ़ते आ रहे हैं वे।

- दिनकर

* * *

Will translate it some day. By Ram Dhari Singh Dinkar;

Copied here from and made corrections:
Another favorite is Aag ki bheekh by Dinkar

Another favorite is MADHUSHALA by Bachchan You can listen to Mannadey's rendition on Raaga.

More poems by Bachchan on
Though the two poems I really dig from him are Path ki pehchaan and Jo beet gayee so beet gayee

FINALLY found Dharamveer Bharati's Kanupriya poems: Fellow blogger ARDRA has done a wonderful job in translating these poems into ENGLISH!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Look within

Who must one turn to in the time of extreme strife, but himself. Within himself, he will find a friend who would not desert him in spite of circumstance. A friend who cannot be lured away by any temptation. It is within himself that he must discover the faith to move the mountains. It is within himself that he must cultivate the confidence that will allow him to live through winter with the same vigor as he does through the spring. It is within himself that lies the power to rise above the petty failings of mind and heart. A conscious thought is worth much more than an overheard discourse. Within himself lies the dream, and the power to realize it, the potential lies within, and must be harnessed from within. Within lies the angst, the fire, the force, and within must be found the solace, the strength, the happiness. Within lies the beginning and the end, within the essence and existence, within the past lessons and will to evolve. Pain lies within, and must be torn away from within. Pleasure is a shadow of pain, of sorrow, and must be let within like a naughty child, for he will amuse as much as he will break the order of things. Pleasure is a reckless stream, channels a dependence on the water, which appears as draught when absent, and so depend not on the pleasure that flows from glaciers of distant beings, but dig deep into within to find the wells of calm joy that stay with you in thick and thin. Know thy self, look within, and let your universe within guide you in your exploits and existance in the outside realm.

A note to within
March 21, 11:00 am

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Two untitled poems


There is a misty insincerity
over the lake of your words
your laughter takes off like seagulls
sharp chirps, flapping your dreamy eyes
a dissonant note tells me
you will migrate this winter.

I talk with corroded words
languid hopes screech as they move
the wooden wheels of my desire
and I feel the cold selfishness
of your intent in the cold hands
so detached, so solitary when held.

My doe your each step
mocks my terrain of trust
you flirt with favors from them
leaping onto rocks of their attention
and yet when you hug me squeeze
I mumble, "oh love! never leave me please!"

5:15 pm; 19 March

Who are you to me
but an excited note on phone
a casket of nervous stories
that fizz faster than meteors;
A noisy friend, I may say
petulant as a kid, pestilant as a toddler
and a tempest in the flesh
rocking my lighthouses of intention.

Why must I care so
about the unkempt promises on shore
for they are only shells of a spirit
fickle as each woman does become;
A desirable woman, I may say
tortuous as hillroads, tedious as childbirth
and an inescapable exile from self
pining for return to single simplicity.

How do I break apart
this splendour of disbelief
for facades fascinate me
ah! the illusion of feminine fidelity;
A risky lover, I may say
tasty as a temptation, fiesty as a tigress
and clawed scars full of pus
in my tattoes from togetherness.

5:40 pm; 19 March

You, an empty page

I stare at you, an empty page
you show me nothing, no words
jump like flares at my face,
perhaps, written in magic ink
are sounds that will fluoresce
when caressed by a scorching gaze.

I stare at you, an empty page
you make faces, but no letters
twinkle from your unfathomed space
perhaps, will glow in dusk
like fireflies, become apparent, dance
the phrases of your unspoken grace.

11-12 March 2006
@Vivek Sharma

Written en route to Baltimore

The missing me!

(FOR POEM, scroll down)

The missing me has been busy living my alternate ego, my life as a scientist. As much of an aspiring scientist as I am an aspiring poet. I travelled from Atlanta to Maryland and back within a week, driving through Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. In fact, my Slovenian friend, who I call an "honorary Indian" was driving us and I was just "driven". Coming out of socialist Yugoslavia, and communist past, Slovenia seems to share a lot of socio-economic problems with India, and talking to him always makes me realize how our seemingly different worlds are not all that different. I am reading Doctor Zhivago by Pasternak these days, and this being (one of the greatest love stories ever told) set in Russia during the revolution, makes me look at Socialism in a partly nostalgic, partly critical fashion. Ideas and ideals, if achieved and perceived correctly, are as good as they are when they first appeal to us. But, as humans, we have potential to bring the worst out of a plethora of great possibilities.

We stopped one night at a small town in North Carolina, with a new found friend. The local pub was full of people who seemed to know each other too well. In fact, there were four or five pubs in that street and three said Members only. A few beers later we killed some time playing table tennis, and watching how African-Americans outsmart their white counterparts on dance floor. Perhaps members only in other pubs and bars was to promote exclusive time with the girls who are with you, and hence must dance with you irrespective of your stiff step and unrhythmatic body.

We were staying at Slovenian friend's house, who besides being a great hostess, was as charming and smart as one can be. There are few people who immediately make impact on you, for you can see how well organized their thoughts, room, research and conversations are. I live my life in a very chaotic way, disorder is what I cannot escape in research, poetry and life, and yet I think there is a beauty on being on this plane of randomness. Perhaps looking at her world from this plane makes it look it more wonderful. I think I will be happiest to find an Indian girl who is like her, but well there is no hurry yet. I must first get divorce from studenthood:)!

Conferences are like marriage parties: the presenter is dressed up like a bride, while all attendees sit and applaud her performance. A few disgruntled aspirants stand at a distance and scoff at the whole exercise. Vows and promises are made, all qualities are presented, quantities are bragged about, and every uncomfortable detail is left for future work. This future work thats based on a white lie is responsible for strife in marriage; for extra work for students who try to repeat the experiments later. I loved the conference, the endless talks that weighed heavier on my eyes than the coffee cups that were unable to provide them the lift to stay up. I loved the conference, for it is quite an ego trip for all us warriors present there as if for a showdown. I feel like a gladiator, though I did not kill any tigers. There is another conference in a week, and I will be out of the loop of reading and writing for another ten days or so. Unless I scribble something as I am doing right now!

Johnny Cash provided the soundtrack, interspresed with the Cure, Enya, Dire Straits and all the Classic Rock provided by FM channels we found on our way. Pink Floyd's Wish you were here kicked off discussions about drug abuse, Van Halen's Jump reminded of rock shows in Delhi, We are the champions by Queen and Dreams by Cranberries have queer memories associated with my MS Thesis time, and a Slovenian and an Indian raced through tracks in American style, hogging burgers and beer, Hooters and Hardees, Afghan and James Joyce in Baltimore, college bar in College Park and another one night at Rayleigh with another nice connection. Its a small world, and now I know five out of two million Slovenians there are. (According to my friend, Slovenia is second most popular tourist destination for British tourists travelling to Europe. He does not care to find out which is the most popular one:)!!)

Meeting with old friends provided me a much needed perspective on things. Faith in self is important. Paramount. Having fun in life is essential, both at home and at work. Things can be made much worse or better by being more honest to yourself than we usually are. Things become better with time and effort. Aging cannot be reversed. Wifes are good for health, nutrition, equilibrium, focus and as an inspiration to graduate. Finishing PhD takes forever, everything that follows happens instantaneously. Kids are much harder to handle in comparison to advisors. Drinking beer is more healthy than drinking milk (a Harvard professors research results). Whatever you do in life, do it in a way that when you look back at things, you can say "ain't it amazing that I did this".

I did write a poem on my way to Baltimore, and completed it on my way back. Here it is:

You, an empty page

I stare at you, an empty page
you show me nothing, no words
jump like flares at my face,
perhaps, written in magic ink
are sounds that will fluoresce
when caressed by a scorching gaze.

I stare at you, an empty page
you make faces, but no letters
twinkle from your unfathomed space
perhaps, will glow in dusk
like fireflies, become apparent, dance
the phrases of your unspoken grace.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Vande Mataram

by Bankim Chandra Chatterji

Book Report Submitted by

Vivek Sharma (97365; Gr 1)
Feb 2001, Course taught by Prof Alok Rai

Vande Matram, the mantra, that was destined to inspire millions during India's struggle for freedom was born in Anand Math. Bankim Chandra Chatterji, through this revolutionary masterpiece, created the fuel and fire for Indian National Movement. Anand Math, an extraordinary political fiction, is a transcript of Bankim's genius. His creative flux energised the renaissance in Bengali and Indian literature and cultured the multitudes into a devotional patriotism towards his image of Mother India.

Bankim Chatterjee gave us what Sri Aurobindo has described as the religion of patriotism. Vande Mataram was banned, as was Anandmath. Yet the worship of Mother India or Bharat Mata once instituted was here to stay. Across the Indian political spectrum, regardless of ideological differences, the idea of the sacredness of the Motherland was widely accepted.

Bankim's work is a political drama, a discourse through dialogue, a proposal through paradigm. An epic, a legend, a saga, a history. The romance of Anand Math lies in its emphatic, passionate nature. While the novel was written, a whole nation waited to be born. We read Anand Math knowing the aftermath, hundred years back the novel would have inspired entirely different moods and reactions. (See addendum).

This English translation of Anand Math (the Abbey of Bliss), done by Basanta Koomar Roy, was first published in 1941, during a critical period when the independence movement had to take a decisive stand rejecting foreign rule. Hence, a mysterious physican's suggestion in last chapter of the original that spoke of the English presence as the necessary phase of reform was deleted. Since the original in Bengali is inaccessible to me yet, I am relying on the translation to provide me a picture of Bankim's work. Anand Math has also been an important celluloid success (Released in 1952, starring Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Geeta Bali, Bharat Bhusan, Pradip and Ajit, it was debut movie for Hemant Kumar as Music Director. The inspirational fast paced renderings of Vande Matram by Lata and Hemant and the song Om Jai Jagdish Sahare appeared in this movie).

Anandmath begins at an apocalyptic moment. There is a famine in Bengal—Mahendra Singh, his beautiful wife, Kalyani, and their little daughter Sukumari, are leaving their ancestral home in Padachina to tread the broad road to Calcutta. Though Mahendra is a rich landlord, he and his family are starving. Everywhere men, women, children and cattle are dying of hunger. Famished and angry, the impoverished villagers have taken to dacoity. Yet the tax collectors of the Government are unrelenting. Clearly, the British rule has reduced India to beggary.

Mohendra is separated from his wife and daughter. Mahatma Satya, the master of Anand Math rescues Kalyani and Sukumari from a group of robbers. Anand Math is located in deep forest. Bhavan, on Mahatma's behest, brings Mahendra to the forest. Here Bhavan bursts into the famous song 'Vande Mataram':

"Mother, hail!
Thou with sweet springs flowing,
Thou fair springs bestowing,
Cool with zephyrs blowing,
Green with corn-crops growing,
Mother, hail!"
(Translation by anonmous)

Mahendra, astonished to hear such a song, and wondering what mother stands for remarks, "This refers to a country, and not to a mortal mother." Bhavan then says that Mother India is their Mother, and all other relationships for them are non-existant. Hearing these words, Mahendra too joins the song. He learns that the "Children" (sanyasis of Anand Math) are organising a revolt against the British to free the "Mother India". Later, Mahatma of Anandmath Satya, first shows Mahendra a gigantic, imposing, resplendent image of ancient India. Then he takes him to a second image, where map of India is in tags and tears, and says, 'This is the what our Mother India is today.' A sword hangs over this image, which the Mahatma says represnts that British rule with a sword, and hence India can be freed only by a sword. Lastly he shows him 'a golden India-bright, beautiful, full of glory and dignity.' Satya explains that "this is the Mother as she is destined to be".

Mahendra refuses to take the vow of utter devotion to Mother India, which meant renouncing his wife and child. His wife refusing to be a weakening factor in her husband's discharge of duties poisons herself. Before Mahendra could cremate his wife, he and Mahatma are arrested by the British. Jiban, Mahatma's right hand man, finds Sukumari and entrusts her to the loving care of his sister. In the process, he meets his wife Shanti, who he had vowed not to see before his duty is done and to the atonement of both sins. Bhavan saves the life of Kalyani and becomes entranced by her beauty. Mahendra thinks that is wife is dead, and eventually gets initiated into the order of sanyasis. Children rescue Mahatma and Mahendra from the jail, but are defeated by British forces in a pitched battle, where appears and swords of sanyasis lose to cannons and guns of British.

Shanti, Jiban's wife, was a woman with a difference. She dressed like boys throughout her childhood, and had travelled far and wide with a group of sanyasis. She was both mentally and physically strong and possessed charming features. She too enters the order, dressed as man to be christened Navin. But soon after Mahatma finds out her real identity. She convinces him with her physical strength and demeanour that she would not hamper her husband on his discharge of duties. Mahendra is sent to Padachina, entrusted with the task of building a fort there. Mahatma planned that the fort to act as treasury and factory for manufacturing arms. Shanti is allowed to stay in Anand Math. Her new role both surprises and pleases Jiban, and she keeps him away and alert of his duties.

The famine ends, but in absence of living population, dense forests replace the erstwhile villages. Children are able to entice many hundred followers into their order. The Children slowly start to gain strength, and defeat British forces in many minor clashes, looting their arms and treasuries. Bhavan falls in love with Kalyani, and is willing to break all his vows to make her his wife. Kalyani shoes him away and he realises that death was his only his atonement.

The British, under the command of Captain Thomas, attack the children. After a hard-pitched battle, the Children humble the British. The British were about to win, when seventeen cannons from Padachina arrive well in time at the battlefield turning the tide in favor of the Children. Bhavan dies in this battle. Kalyani, Sukumari and Mahendra, and Jiban and Shanti all happily reunite at the fort of Padachina. The British, once humbled, now relaunched a strategic offensive against the Children under the command of Major Edwards. The British are again defeated, Jiban fights like a superhero, fighting alone, when his compatriots desert him, succumbs to multiple injuries and is lost in heaps of dead in battlefield. Shanti finds him, a mysterious Mahatma heals him and disappears. Jiban role in Service of Mother ends with this sacrifice. A revived Jiban and Shanti walk away hand in hand. Singing Vande Mataram, they soon disappear out of sight.

Vande Mataram had hence become the national anthem during the struggle for freedom. The fact that Rabindranath Tagore's Jana Gana Mana replaced it after independence, as a concession to Muslim susceptibilities, highlights the nature of the freedom movement. Anadmath has inspired both the nationalists and the fundamentalists. Bankim synthesized the Western secular concept of nationalism with the tradition and needs of Hindus even if he was thinking in terms of Bengal and not India when he wrote. He enunciated a specific relationship between culture and power, that certain cultural values are more advantageous than others in the pursuance of power. Since these attributes are not congenital characteristics, but the product of cultural conditioning, they can be developed through the cultivation of appropriate national-cultural values. To this merit he aroused the cultural and idealogical identity of Indians, majority of them being Hindus. In this respect, I believe that whatever comparisons are there between the Hindu goddesses (Durga, Kali, Lakhshmi or Saraswati) with mother India, they are meant to enspirit the Indian soul with a devotion towards the diefied country.

Such a deification of the country as we know was to inspire many millions of Indians throughout the freedom struggle. Aurobindo himself considered to be a prophet of Indian nationalism, during his revolutionary phase wanted a Bharat Mata Mandir to be established in every province of India. These temples were to be the nucleus of revolutionaries who like Bankim's sanyasis would dedicate their lives to the freedom of the country. Thus the Indian revolutionaries, who were an important part of the struggle for freedom, also derived their inspiration from spirituality and religious sources. Of course such patriotism, taken to its extreme, may breed chauvinistic nationalism.

Analysing the causes of India's prolonged subjugation as a nation, Bankim rejected the orientalist construct that this subjugation stemmed from Indian's lack of physical strength and courage and that the gentleness of the Hindu sprang from his emasculation. Bankim rather attributed this long history of subjugation to their lack of natural desire for liberty. Indians have never felt a compelling desire for their own liberty nor have they ever fought for it. Bankim held that Hindu society's subjection was owing to the lack of solidarity in their midst. The Hindu attitude towards power is undermined and weakened by its religio-cultural emphasis on vairagya (renunciation and other-worldliness) and niyati (fatalism). Thus Bankim's explanation of the causes of India's subjection is not in terms of material and physical strength but is rather in terms of culture. More specifically it is an explanation which owe's its genesis to cultural differences -- that while some cultural attributes make some civilisations particularly equipped for power, other opposite and specific attributes make the Indians notoriously negligent towards the same. This, in brief, is contemporary Hindu nationalism's basic premise concerning culture and power and this premise is repeatedly evident in its mobilizational literature, verbal ideological discourse, and through their ephemera which loosely translated would read as follows:

Your Hindu blood has gone cold, it is no less cold than ice
Sons of brave Shivaji are your hands bereft of power
Awake! Arise! you are born of lionesses; You have to wear the Saffron Headband,
Swear by the son of Kaushaliya and resolve to build the temple there,
He who comes as Ravana will die an untimely death,
The temple will now be built there where Shri Ram was born !

According to Bhavan's book, Vande Mataram by Moni Bagchee, (pg . 66), ``Bankin Chandra composed the song in an inspired moment, Rabindranath sang it by setting a tune to it and it was left to the genius of Aurobindo to interpret the deeper meaning of the song out of which India received the philosophy of new Nationalism.'' Shri Aurobindo's birthday was also on 15th of August.

Translation by Shri Aurobindo Ghose

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving
Mother of might,
Mother free.
Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!

Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.
Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands,
When the sword flesh out in the seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Though who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foeman drove
Back from plain and Sea
And shook herself free.
Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Though art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nervs the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.
Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleems,
Dark of hue O candid-fair
In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Lovilest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!