Thursday, October 30, 2008

Books read (an ever growing list)

Books read before 2006, & other lists
Read in 2006 (89=45+44):

TRANSLATIONS (13) Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, Identity by Milan Kundera, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, Parineeta by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Nymphs of the Valley by Khalil Gibran,!!!!!, Mottled Dawn by Saadat Hasan Manto, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse,

NOVELS (26): Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, We The Living by Ayn Rand, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald,!!!!!, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Two Lives by Vikram Seth, The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee, The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene,!!!!!, The Kiterunner by Khaled Hosseini, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul, Shalimar, the Clown by Salman Rushdie, A Passage to India by E. M. Forster, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

POETRY (39): Call me Ishmael Tonight (A book of ghazals) by Agha Shahid Ali, The Art of Drowning, The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems, Poetry 180: A turning back to poetry, Sailing along around the room and Nine Horses by Billy Collins*, Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair, The Separate Rose and 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda, Hamlet by William Shakespeare,!!!!!, Intimate Kisses ed. by Wendy Maltz, A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Love letters in Sand by Khalil Gibran, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, Rumi The book of love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing trans. by Coleman Barks, Random House Treasury of Favorite Love Poems, First Ed., Favorite Poems by William Wordsworth, 100 Selected Poems by E. E. Cummings, Sharp Golden Thorn by Chard DeNiord, The Unsubscriber by Bill Knott,!!!!!, A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, Love is a Dog from Hell by Charles Bukowski, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca by Lorca, Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, Delights and Shadows and Flight at Night: 1965-1985 by Ted Kooser, The Insistence of Beauty by Stephen Dunn, Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg, The Singing by C. K. Williams,!!!!!, A Haiku Menagerie by Stephen Addiss, Homeland Security by Miles Coon, Geetanjali by Rabindranath Tagore, Rhyme's Reason and Committed to Memory by John Hollander, The Western Wind by John Fredrick Nims, Music like dirt and Desires by Frank Bidart, Howl and other poems by Alan Ginsberg.

Hindi/ Urdu(7): Urvashi, Rashmirathi and Parshuram ki Prateeksha by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar**, Madhushaala by Harivansh Rai Bachchan**, Masterpieces of Urdu Rubaiyat by KC Kanda, Maila Aanchal by Phanishwernath Renu, Nav Bharti ** (Anthology of Modern Hindi Poems).

POPULAR SCIENCE (4): On the Six-Cornered Snowflakes by Kepler, Liquid Crystals: Nature's Delicate Phases of Matter by Peter J. Collings, Polymers: The Origins and Growth of a Science by H. Morawitz, (Cohesion: A Scientific History of Intermolecular Forces) by J. S. Rowlinson

Read in 2005 (50=41+9):

TRANSLATIONS (11): Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes*, Love in the time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Of Love and Other Demons, Memories of my Melancholy Whores and Leaf Storm and other stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez**, The Unbearable Lightness of Being* by Milan Kundera, Blindness by Jose Saramago, The Broken Wings by Khalil Gibran,

NOVELS (22): 1984 by George Orwell, Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat, Dubliners by James Joyce, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, Restaurant at the end of the Universe, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and Life, The Universe and Everything and Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams, Sons and Lovers and Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence, Piled Higher and Deeper by Jorge Cham, Love Story by Eric Segal, Anthem by Ayn Rand, Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, Emma by Jane Austen, Riot by Shashi Tharoor, East, West and Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri,

PHILOSOPHY: The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche, Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre*, The Art of War by Sun Tzu*,

POETRY (9): The Kural by Tiruvalluvar, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, The Collected Poems by Emily Dickinson, Still other day and The Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda (trans. William O' Daly), Outlayer and Ghazals Poetry by Jim Harrison, The Wasteland and other poems by T. S. Eliot, English by Jeet Thayil, Maybe it was so by Reginald Gibbons

POPULAR SCIENCE (4): At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity by Stuart Kauffman, Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order by Steven Strogatz, Cells, Gels and Engines of Life by Gerald H. Pullock, Random Walks in Biology by Howard C. Berg

Read in 2004 (21):

TRANSLATIONS (3): Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy,

NOVELS (15): Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen*, A Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Rainbow by DH Lawrence, The Razors Edge, Up the Villa and The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham, Far from Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, The House of Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway, Brave New World * by Aldous Huxley, Metamorphosis* by Kafka, Sula by Toni Morrison**,
The Stranger by Albert Camus,

POPULAR SCIENCE: Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos by Mitchell M. Waldrop, Life in Moving Fluids by Steven Vogel.

Read in 2001-2003 (20):

Novels and Poetry: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Ulysses and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor, Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence, Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Johnathan Livingston Seagull and The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach, Love and longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra, Prophet and Beloved by Kahlil Gibran, The Three Chinese Poets and The Heaven's Lake by Vikram Seth**,

POPULAR SCIENCE: Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman, Ralph Leighton & Edward Hutchings, Chaos: Making a New Science** by James Gleick, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawkings, The Double Helix by James Watson.

Read during IIT days 1999-2001 (31):

TRANSLATIONS: Gora and Gaire Bhare (Home and the World) by Rabindranath Tagore**, Anand Math** by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Godan by Prem Chand and Leo Tolstoy's Father Sergius and other Stories.

NOVELS: The Fountainhead and The Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand; Illusions and Johanathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach; The Ground Beneath her Feet, The Moor's Last Sigh and The Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie; An Equal Music, A Suitable Boy, The Humble Administrator's Garden, All you who Sleep Tonight and The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth; The Inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mehta; The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy; In the Shadow of Pines, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Doctors by Eric Segal, City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, The Mayor of Castorbridge by Thomas Hardy, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Animal Farm by George Orwell; A Study in Scarlet, A Sign of Four, The Hound of Baskervilles, and in fact Sherlock Holmes : The Complete Novels and Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Julius Ceaser by Shakespeare,

Multiple books of same author list (three or more only):

1) Vikram Seth (9/11): Golden Gate, Suitable Boy, From Heaven's Lake, An Equal Music, All you who sleep tonight, Three Chinese Poets, Mappings, The Humble Administrator's Garden, Two Lives

2) Salman Rushdie (9/12): Midnight's Children, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories; Shalimar, the Clown; East, West; Fury, The Enchantress of Florence

3) D. H. Lawrence (4): Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Rainbow and Women in Love

4) Douglas Adams (5): The Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish; Restaurant at the end of the Universe and Life, The Universe and Everything; Mostly Harmless

5) Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7): Love in the time of Cholera, Autumn of the Patriarch, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Leaf Storm and other stories, Memories of my Melancholy Whores, Of Love and other Demons, Chronicles of a Death Foretold

6) Ranier Maria Rilke (5): Songs of the Orpheus, Letters to a Young Poet, Book of Hours, Selected Poems ed. by Robert Bly, Rilke on Love and other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations (ed. by John M. L. Wood), Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (trans. by Anita Barrows and Joanna Marie Macy)

7) W. Somerset Maugham (8): The Razors Edge, Of Human Bondage, Up the Villa, Catalina, Husbands and Wives, The Painted Veil, Essays on Literature and The Moon and Sixpence

8) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (nearly all): A Study in Scarlet, A Sign of Four, The Hound of Baskervilles, and in fact Sherlock Holmes : The Complete Novels and Stories

9) Ramdhari Singh Dinkar (4): Urvashi, Rashmirathi, Pratinidhi Kavitayen and Parshuram ki Prateeksha

10) Fyodor Dostovesky (4) {Translated by Constance Garnett): Crime and Punishment, Idiot, The Gambler and The Brothers Karamazov

11) James Joyce (3): Ulysses, Dubliners and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

12) Jane Austen (3): Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma

13) Pablo Neruda (9): Still other day, The Separate Rose, Winter Garden and The Book of Questions (trans. William O' Daly), Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair, 100 Love Sonnets, Odes to Common Things, The Captain’s Verses (trans. Donald D. Walsh) by Pablo Neruda, Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda trans. by Margaret S. Peden

14) Leo Tolstoy (5): Father Sergius and other Stories, The Kingdom of God is Within You, Letter to a Hindu, War and Peace and Anna Karenina

15) Ernest Hemmingway (4): The Sun Also Rises, Men without women, Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and The Sea

16) Billy Collins (5): The Art of Drowning, The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems, Poetry 180: A turning back to poetry, Sailing along around the room and Nine Horses

17) Kahlil Gibran (5): Prophet, Broken Wings, Love letters in Sand, Nymphs of the Valley and Beloved;

18) Rabindranath Tagore (4): Gora, Geetanjali, Chitra and The Home and the World

19) Toni Morrison (4): Sula, Beloved, Song of Solomon and The Bluest Eye

20) William Shakespeare (4): Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello and Tempest

21) EM Forster (3): A Passage to India, Where Angels Fear to Tread and Howard’s End

22) Henry James (3): Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller and Washington Square

23) Ayn Rand (4): Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, We, The Living and Anthem

24) Milan Kundera (4): Unbearable Lightness of the Being, Identity, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and The Art of Novel

25) Richard Bach (3): Illusions, Johnathan Livingston Seagull and The Bridge Across Forever: A Love Story

Translations read (67)

1) Russian (>13): Father Sergius and other Stories, War and Peace and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Crime and Punishment, Idiot, The Gambler and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, Dead Souls and The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol, Torrents of Spring and Fathers and Sons by Ivan Tugenev; also read stories by Gorky, Chekov and Gogol, Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova

2) Spanish (19): Love in the time of Cholera, Autumn of the Patriarch, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Leaf Storm and other stories, Memories of my Melancholy Whores, Of Love and Other Demons, Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez;
Still other day, The Separate Rose, Winter Garden and The Book of Questions (trans. William O' Daly), Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair, 100 Love Sonnets, Odes to Common Things, The Captain’s Verses (trans. Donald D. Walsh) by Pablo Neruda, Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda trans. by Margaret S. Peden by Pablo Neruda
The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and In search of Duende by Lorca and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes,

3) Chinese (4): The Three Chinese Poets by Vikram Seth, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Cries in the Drizzle by Yu Hua

4) French (15): The Stranger by Albert Camus, Les Miserables and The Hunchback of NotraDame by Victor Hugo, Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre, Identity, Slowness, The Art of Fiction and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Lost Illusions by Honore Balzac, Candide by Voltaire, Swann’s Way by M. Proust, Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (trans. by Douglas Charmee), Slowness by Milan Kundera

5) Bengali (5): Geetanjali, Gora and Gaire Bhare (Home and the World) by Rabindranath Tagore, Anand Math by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Parineeta by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

6) Czech: The Unbearable Lightness of the Being by Milan Kundera

7) Portuguese: Blindness by Jose Saramago

8) Tamil: The Kural by Tiruvalluvar

9) Slovene (2): Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, A Day in Spring by Ciril Kosmac

10) Arabic: Nymphs of the Valley by Khalil Gibran

11) German (8): Letters to a Young Poet, Selected Poems (ed. by Robert Bly), Book of Hours, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (trans. by Anita Barrows and Joanna Marie Macy), Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke on Love and other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations (ed. by John M. L. Wood), The Essential Rilke (trans. by Galway Kinnel and Hannah Liebmann) by Ranier Maria Rilke, Sidhartha by Herman Hesse,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How are things?

How are things?
Things are awesome, so awesome, so many and moving at such a pace, that I see only the blur, and cannot comprehend what is going by.

What things?
Things are so many and moving at such a pace, that I see only the blur, and cannot comprehend what is going by.

How is it going?
Things are moving at such a pace, that I see only the blur, and cannot comprehend what is going by.

Whats up?
I see only the blur, and cannot comprehend what is going by.

Whats happening?
Told you already, but lets loop through it again:
Things are awesome, so awesome, so many and moving at such a pace, that I see only the blur, and cannot comprehend what is going by.

How does this end?
I see only the blur.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Googlies: On Ganguly who bamboozled critics again (Gangooglied them)

Ganguly dada did it again: produced another knock to remind his critics that he is and will ever be regarded has one of the greatest Indian batsmen ever. But the critics already have their I-pods on, (they are all but knocked out), their eyes are watching other kids and they are only irritated by this undying rubble raiser. The trouble with being an outspoken great in India is that people want to drown you in their own nonsense. In his hour of greatness too, he stands on a podium, waiting for an applause. While applause will come at some hour, maybe when shame and guilt will egg the gathered masses, for now, the hero stands on the podium, not garlanded, not felicitated, but stands there fighting the mosquito noises asking him to leave and go home. But here I will start will loud clap from my corner, and hopefully others will join in:

Dada, for you and your "zazba" (the passion that makes you the man you are)!

To have sixteen ceturies, highest number of wins as captain, seven thousand runs in test cricket is no mean achievement. It does not happen everyday. Only Tendulkar, Dravid and Gavaskar have scored more, and among all the batsmen in the top ten list for India, only Ganguly has been in the eye of so many storms. To score more than 11000 runs, take 100 wickets, make 22 centuries, lead your team into World Cup final, requires a Ganguly, the Prince of Calcutta, the man next only to God on the off-side. After Tendulkar, Ganguly is the best ever one day batsman we have ever had, and his records do not display the spirit and fight he brought into the team when he took over as the captain. Even Lara, the greatest left-handed batsmen ever, has prone to dismal phases, even Tendulkar has had his rough patches, but while their greatness was never doubted, their selection was automatic, Ganguly has had times when he was unrecognizable, covered by mud, blood, spit, dirt and sweat.

When he lay writhing near dead in a cesspool of criticism, when selectors, veterans favored obituaries over eulogies, Ganguly busied himself in domestic cricket, waiting for that chance to reassert that a great fighter never fades and never destroys himself by the doubts that lies in the mind of others. As a man who failed and fought passionately, and celebrated his successes with a torn shirt, beating his chest like a tribal, as a legend who refuses to fizzle out, Ganguly is a saga that will ever inspire me personally, and hopefully many among our midst.

Ganguly has the capacity of creating intense emotions in the cricket maniac country. He is judged and smudged by the audiences that include:

The Halwaais whose best catches are of chappatis thrown from one hand to another.
The streetwallahs, whose experience of glance amounts to leering at women walking by.
The barbers, who think they know how to cut.
The partymongers, who believe they have mastered the art and style of dealing with bouncers.
The drivers, who know how to drive to any corner of labyrinths called cities in India.
The beggars on riversides, who dive without fear, and pluck out coins at speed that could help them win a medal, if there was an Olympic event like that.

The bureaucrats who understand the concept of slip extremely well, the clerks who know how to guide the buck, the businessmen who know how to steal a single (from the beginning of a number like 10000 that was their due as taxes).

The students, many of them have never scored half century, let alone a hundred. The students who accept every failure and never fight back, never learn how to rise against adversity, never strive to achieve event a momentary state where anyone would be roused to say, "thats brilliant!"

The politicians, who think positions, seats in academia or government or industry, are to be distributed not according to the talent or the proven ability but in a way that makes greatest number of voters happy. The oldies (>65 year old) who rule the country and never think of retiring, think that the seniors (i.e. 35 year old) should retire to make way for youngsters (~30 year old).

We, Indians, who have not learned how to praise unless foreigners bestow awards on our kind. We, Indians, who know how to lead a man to disgrace, maybe form a mob to beat him to death, but we don't know how to hoist a hero on our shoulders and carry him around the city in triumph. We carry only hardened criminals around like that. We can worship only movie stars, we can suck up to only politicians, we can praise only the dead. We, Indians, who don't know how to value our heritage, our language, our environment, our laws, we, Indians, who defile everything original and pious, we Indians who are happy with zero or at most three medals in Olympics, we Indians who have let millions perish without food and opportunity for earning any, we Indians who let our daily life be mediocre and full of "chalta hai" (let it be) attitude, we Indians who just criticize and never do the effort it takes to actually change or better anything.

Go Dada go! You did more than one could ask of you. But we have let bigger men go, we have allowed bigger calamities to happen. You have succeeded and done well, we have loved and hated you for many things in last two decades, and we have celebrated and berated you. Nevertheless we will remember you. Imagine what we are capable of and know, we have treated you exceedingly well, and forgive us, like an indulging, grand hero does. In your death on the battlefield, in your retirement, in your calling it a day, lies your future redemption and future praise. But that never guided or deterred you. So go in victory, go with your head held high, go with a celebration through your strokeplay, go with mute admiration of millions of us spread around the globe. Go Dada go! As you go, give us that smile again, raise your helmet once more, pound that fist once again, and once again, jump with that tight fist raised high...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

प्रवासी हिमाचली अमित गुप्ता: स्वपन बडे, मेहनत कडी, तो सफलता बडी!

दोस्तों! कई महीनों की चुप्पी के बाद, मैं आपके समक्ष फ़िर आया हूँ | इस दौरान मैंने पी. एच. डी. ख़तम कर दी, और अब मैं एम. आई. टी. में पोस्ट-डोक्टोरल रिसर्च (शोध) कर रहा हूँ | दिव्य हिमाचल और माई हिमाचल के अनुरोध पर मैं अगले कुछ महीनों में आपके लिए कुछ ऐसे सफल हिमाचलियों से भेंट करवाउँगा, जिनकी सोच और समृधि से सभी युवक प्रेरणा ले सकें | आज के हमारे मेहमान मेरे आई. आई. टी. दिल्ली के सहपाठक और ग्यारह वर्षों के परम मित्र अमित गुप्ता हैं | अमित सातवीं से दसवी कक्षा तक शिमला में बी. सी. एस. में पड़े | दसवीं कक्षा में आई. सी. एस. ई. बोर्ड में वे ९३ % ले कर हिमाचल में प्रथम आए | आर. ई. सी. की परीक्षा में वह हिमाचल में द्वितीय थे, और मैं तृतीय | यूं तो आई. आई. टी. में गिने चुने हिमाचली ही पहुँचते हैं, पर सौभाग्य से चार साल हम दोनों एक ही छात्रावास के अगल बगल कमरों में रहे | दिल्ली में पढाई खत्म होते ही मैं अध्ययन और शोध के लिए अमरीका आ गया, और अमित ने मैकिंजी नामक सुप्रसिद्ध अंतरराष्ट्रीय कम्पनी में नौकरी शुरू की | तीन साल भारत में कार्यरत रहे, और दो साल अमरीका में नौकरी के बाद अमित ने ऍम. बी. ऐ. छिकागो विश्वविद्यालय से हासिल किया | अब अमित फ़िर से मैकेंजी में कार्यरत हैं, और ऑस्ट्रेलिया के सिडनी शहर में रह रहे हैं |

ज्ञातव्य है की अमित के पिताश्री कर्नल डी. पी. गुप्ता रिटायर शिमला में हुए और उनकी माताश्री डॉ. रमा देवी आर. के. एम. बी. की प्रिंसिपल रहीं | उनके माता-पिता शिमला जिले में पले बड़े, और अब शिमला में बस गए हैं | अमित की पत्नी, डॉ. परिधि कपूर ने जर्मन से पी. एच. डी. की है और वह भी आई. आई. टी. दिल्ली से सनातक हैं | जहाँ अमित एक बड़ी कम्पनी में करोड़ों के हिसाब किताब वाले मुद्दों से जुड़ा रहेगा, मैं आगे भी रात-दिन शोध और अध्ययन में गुजरूँगा | दोनों को उम्मीद है की हम अपने अपने तरीके से समाज में उन्नति और प्रगति की लहर ला सकते हैं | अमित और मैंने जीवनयापन के रास्ते बेशक अलग अलग चुनें हो, पर हमारी दोस्ती सालों और फासलों में घनिष्ट से घनिष्टतर हुई है | हर हफ्ते हम एक दूसरे को फ़ोन करके हिमाचली टोन में, “महाराज - महाराज” कहते हुए बतियाते हैं | प्रस्तुत वार्तालाप भी किया तो उसी लहजे से था, पर लेखन के लिए उसको थोड़ा सजा कर पेश कर रहा हूँ |

Monday, October 06, 2008

Indian Ocean rocks (Concert for AID India, at MIT Cambridge)

Indian Ocean provided an enthralling evening of fusion music to an audience that was constantly in raptures. The two guitars strummed Eastern melodies and Western symphonies in tandem, while the drummer and tabla player displayed both skill and maturity in their percussion. The idea of raising money for development projects is a commendable one in itself. By roping in a band that creates a music based on poems that are meaningful and socially conscious is a masterstroke from AID India. I will write about AID India some other day, for now, let me just say a few things about the performance.

Indian Ocean is best known for songs from their much loved album Kandisa., and they did perform a few songs from their highly acclaimed album. Susmit Sen on guitar produced sounds that brought the melody of Indian string instruments: sitar and santoor alive. His partner from the time of inception of the band, Asheem, sat surrounded by half a dozen tablas. While his percussion was immaculate, his vocal cords seem to have an Aseem (unbounded or limitless) range. Amit Kilam on drums was good but when he stepped away to play a tribal instrument for the song Ma Rewa, his performance was spell-binding. Throughout the evening the artists jammed with each other, showing why they have the reputation of fusing jazz, rock, folk and Indian classical into a dynamic sound of their own. Throughout the show, Rahul did most of the talking. His humor was spot on, and so was his hand on guitar, his vocals and his jamming with his partners in crime. (I later searched and found that he has a PhD in environmental toxicology from Cornell, which explains why he was talking about insecta and weevils and anthropods: all of which surprised and amused the audience!). Together the band provided a high energy, fast paced, sometime foot-tapping, sometime heart-stopping, sometime lilting rendition.

When Lorca spoke about finding duende as an artist, he used the example of gypsy singers who use both the range of their vocal cords and heart-strung melodies to enrapture the audience. When the band renders song after song in high pitched melodies, backed by the stories that associate these with social movements and movies, the effect is bound to be potent and poignant. The band performed three songs that are used in movies: one from Black Friday, another from Swaraj and the third one, was an unreleased song from a movie that is still under production. These movies and themes of their songs involve Hindu-Muslim riots, bribery and corruption, Independence movement, Kabir's message as the backdrop. Yet the message is somewhat hidden, it is subtle, it is buried beneath the grand slam of strings and drumbeats, it mellowed by the dramatic interludes of humor, it is sung in lyrics written in dialects not familiar to the audience. The rhythm was of the rock stars, the rhyme was of sufi singers, the melody was Indian and the performance, in general was as professional and as jazzy as of a Rock band can be. When I watched Indian Ocean perform, about a decade back, I left the hall somewhat disenchanted. I discovered today that they have found their voice, they have found their zone, they have found the duende!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Is this the beginning of the end of capitalism?

The rate at which banks are disappearing and the scale of losses reported by every financial behemoth perhaps flags the beginning of the end of capitalism. The free market system is collapsing and the story of capitalism seems to be following the script followed by the collapse of the communist regimes. A house of cards falls at the first storm, but a fort falls apart more painfully, piece by piece, till a portion collapses, and then the process goes on for decades. There is a sense of loss for all of us who have planned our lives around the possibilities in a capitalist world. In the present world, uncertainty is feeding rumors and paucity of credit is driving banks and governments to the brink of desperation.

Twenty years back United Soviet Socialist Republic started to crumble, ending the largest communist nation that had existed for nearly seven decades. The collapse of the Soviet Union marked the end of Cold War that had divided the world into at least two blocs. The years that preceded the final melt down of the nation that symbolized communism included a war in Afghanistan and change in policy in USSR by Gorbachev's policies that allowed Soviet countrymen freedom of expression. Incidentally US is involved in a war on Afghanistan, perhaps fighting the people trained covertly at its own expense once, to take down an enemy as mighty as itself. While USSR economy epitomized how communist system can be made to work, and then be abused, USA so far had been the prime example of how market forces work and in our times, flounder. While the communist USSR began to fail as it started giving more freedom to people, the capitalist USA is said to have increased vigilance over its citizens in past years.

The two systems - communist and capitalist - were both born after the collapse of regimental rule of emperors and kings. Both developed in response to the desire for something different and better than the system that existed before. The communists wanted to reduce everyone and everything to the lowest common denominator. The capitalists wanted to allow everyone and everything to grow as per demand and supply determined it. Communists thought rigid control of property and industries by the government is the key, capitalists rooted for private property and private ownership. Communists chose for people, limited their choices (ask any East European about the state sanctioned amounts of groceries). Capitalists encouraged people to pick from a number of goods. Communists created demand by limiting the supply, capitalists by exhibiting it. While communists provided for (lower quality) universal health care, education and employment, capitalists created a system where quality of health, education and employment was determined by how much people were willing to pay or strive for. Both systems worked in their own way: generated a world where competition send the Man to the moon, Olympics saw winners from both worlds, scientists and inventors lurked and emerged from both societies, and art of every form blossomed in different styles in both places. Incidentally, capitalists looked down upon communists and vice versa.

Alas! The humanity adds its own perversity to any principle, any ideal, any system. Even the best made plans are laid waste by the irrationality of the human thoughts and actions, and thus what works in theory (free market as well as communist state) runs into turmoil in reality. The virtue and vice are exist within everything in this world. (Rephrased from Tulsidas: jad chetan gun doshmaya, vishwa kin kartar). While communists equated capitalists with greedy pigs, the Animal farm of communists was said to exist on the principle that some men are more equal than the others.

The question about capitalism, and its longevity as an ideal that we must work towards, has become most crucial in our day and our time. What has capitalism failed to give us? Perhaps health and education, perhaps clean air and robust public transportation, perhaps economic equality. What did communist fail to give us? Quality education, freedom of speech and choice, democracy. Incidentally, as US has been the greatest symbol of democratic form of the government, it will be interesting to see of the institution of democracy outlasts its champion. India, which is the largest democracy, has seen this institution become a refuge for hardened criminals, and the politics of vote is driving corruption, communalism and casteism to the level beyond which catastrophe is the only possibility.

Where do we go from here? What will be the dominant financial system in the world in twentyfirst century? Will the axis of power shift again to Europe, or to Asia? Will America survive the crisis, and come out stronger? Will the economic crisis worsen when energy crisis kicks in? As economic meltdown continues, will the immigration laws in US, import duties in many countries change for worse? Will this crisis provide the launching pad for a new religion?

Is this the beginning of the end of capitalism?