Saturday, December 31, 2005
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers--
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours--your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
I stood there staring at them for a loooooong time... gazed at the celebration of life... celebration of being... the asymmetrical symmetry... tickled myself thinking how would it be for breeze to negotiate it's way through the petals... felt silly contemplating why there could not be flowers of myriad colors on the same tree... felt sillier while answering myself with "but that would confuse the bees"... contemplated if the color was orangish-red or yellowish-orange...
... ... ... and as I stood there in silence, awe, amazement, harmony, I wondered if for this one moment only was the phrase joie de vivre coined!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Now is really not the time for inaction. After all, "if we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much." (- Marian Edelman)
My name is Sarah
I am but three,
My eyes are swollen
I cannot see,
I must be stupid,
I must be bad,
What else could have made
My daddy so mad?
I wish I were better,
I wish I weren't ugly,
Then maybe my Mommy
Would still want to hug me.
I can't speak at all,
I can't do a wrong
Or else I'm locked up
All the day long.
When I awake
I'm all alone
The house is dark
My folks aren't home.
When my Mommy does come
I'll try and be nice,
So maybe I'll get just
One whipping tonight.
Don't make a sound!
I just heard a car
My daddy is back
From Charlie's Bar.
I hear him curse
My name he calls
I press myself
Against the wall.
I try and hide
From his evil eyes
I'm so afraid now
I'm starting to cry.
He finds me weeping
He shouts ugly words,
He says its my fault
That he suffers at work.
He slaps me and hits me
And yells at me more,
I finally get free
And I run for the door.
He's already locked it
And I start to bawl,
He takes me and throws me
Against the hard wall.
I fall to the floor
With my bones nearly broken,
And my daddy continues
With more bad words spoken.
"I'm sorry!", I scream
But its now much too late
His face has been twisted
Into unimaginable hate.
The hurt and the pain
Again and again
Oh please God, have mercy!
Oh please let it end!
And he finally stops
And heads for the door,
While I lay there motionless
Sprawled on the floor.
My name is Sarah
And I am but three,
Tonight my daddy
Friday, September 30, 2005
To be alive is a grand thing!!
2 quick (and random) thoughts:
a) It is.
b) Isn't it?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
There's so much poetry in this poem! Isn't it?
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
by Edgar Allen Poe
Sunday, September 25, 2005
"I am interested in politics for only one reason - to reach the day when I will not have to be interested in politics. I want to secure a society in which I will be free to pursue my own concerns and goals, knowing that the government will not interfere to wreck them, knowing that my life, my work, my future are not at the mercy of the state or the whim of a dictator."
- Ayn Rand
"Autumn - a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
- Albert Camus
"Look, I really don't want to wax philosophical, but I will say that if you're alive, you got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death. And therefore, as I see it, if you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively."
- Mel Brooks
(I found this one very invigorating even though I don't completely agree with it - I don't believe life is the very opposite of death - the way light is not the absence of darkness.)
Neat, no? :-)
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Staring at women's breasts is good for men's health and makes them live longer, a new survey reveals. Researchers (in a "five-year study of 200 men" in Germany) have discovered that a ten-minute ogle at women's breasts is as healthy as half-an-hour in the gym."
I am at a total loss of words. Things that completely escape me about this whole so-called research affair:
1. This "study" gets conceptualized and operationalized.
2. It gets funded.
3. It gets published.
4. A newspaper prominently prints the "findings".
Right now I am so irritated by the whole thing that I don't even want to get into some sort of intellectual discussion on this (not that I won't ... sometime later may be). Is it even required of me to actually articulate why I find the whole affair sooooooo very irritating? Does it even demand academic/intellectual scrutiny to decide how damaging it is? Is it me or is it them? Why do I feel so vexed that I feel like shouting from every rooftop in town screaming, "People are more than a pile of organs and fluids! Women are not FMCGs stacked up at the corner grocery store!! Wake up and smell the coffee!!!"
And as I shout my head off, I recall what I read in yesterday's newspaper about this students' magazine in a New Zealand university that has come with a "how to" guide on date rape. (For those who are wondering: Nope, not meant for women to help protect themselves. Yup, for people to actually "how to" do it).
How low shall we have to tumble before eventually realizing that we have embarrassed ourselves enough!!!!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
just looking at the sea is a very humbling and at the same time very empowering experience... just watching the waves come and go... listening to the sound as they hit shore... looking at the mist that rises as the waves enthusiastically rush to drench the sun-baked golden sand...
i was there last week...
and was reminded of kahlil gibran:
"The Sphinx spoke only once, and the Sphinx said, "A grain of sand is a desert, and a desert is a grain of sand; and now let us all be silent again." I heard the Sphinx, but I did not understand." (Sea and Foam)
the sea spoke. the sphinx spoke. but i did not understand!
will i ever?
Friday, September 16, 2005
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
by R L Stevenson
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Has it ever happened that you meet someone... or simply come across someone... and develop a sudden liking... or immense disliking? The other person doesn't even need to open his/her mouth. S/he doesn't need to do anything to deserve to be liked/disliked. All the person's gotta do is be there... at that moment. It happens with me often... well, not with all people. But it has certainly happened with certain people I've met. I agree, there are people who grow on you... and your likings/dislikings may change over time. But that's not what I'm speaking of. Nope, I'm also not talking of how that person carries him/herself... what s/he says... how s/he looks... nothing. As I said, all that person's got to do is to be there.
Sometimes I feel books are like people. Perhaps it is my relationship with books that is like the one with people above. But it happens. You go to a bookstore, and you have made up your mind of getting yourself something to read, and it just so happens that you don't feel like taking home a single book in the damn store. It just doesn't click! And then, sometimes while you are just ambling your time away, you come across this book whose title sounds weird and the author's name is even weirder. But you like it... I don't think it has got anything to do with the author, endorsements, the plot... all the book's gotta do is be there. This wand seller in one of the Harry Potter books says, "You don't choose the wand, the wand chooses you." I think it's something like that. You pick a book from some alcove in the store, and you just connect!! Nope, I'm not talking of the infatuation with title (like the one I had with "If nobody speaks of remarkable things" ... I'm sorry if I got the name wrong... am not too good with remembering those), or the cover design... nope, I'm not speaking of bollywood romances. I'm talking here of a profound connection with the book. Like you pick a book and you feel you've been searching for this... like the book too has been looking for you... and are overwhelmed by this acute need to read it.
It has happened with me so very often. And this phenomenon (can it be called one?) has led to some of the best book discoveries... I've stumbled upon some of my favourite books this way. Like I chanced upon "The Divine Child" while killing time in a bookstore... I picked this book up... and headed straight for the payment counter. The book turned out to be one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking journeys I've embarked upon. Same thing happened with the "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" (it wasn't as famous then)... and I was just so pleased with myself for having picked that book up from one forgotten corner during a book sale. The same thing has happened with so many other books as well.
Why... is the question? Why do we like the books we like. Ok, even if we didn't connect with them in the bizarre way described above, why do we still like the books we like? Is it only about the literary skills and sensibilities of the author? Is it only the fact that you liked the last book by the same chap? Is it only about the plot... the emotion... the intrigue... the turn of phrase? We could find these in soooooo many books. But why do we end up liking... or perhaps loving some books so deeply? Do we like them because they remind us of ourselves? Or is it that they portray the lives we'd want to live... or the lives we have lived? Do we like them because they affirm our beliefs... or challenge them? Do we like them because they help us escape reality... or we like them bacause they present it? Why?
Guess I am just an irrational person. I like certain books because... well, because I like them. And I guess books too are like irrational people. They choose me... well, because they choose to.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Q: why don't women know ice-skating?
A: Coz there's no snow between the bedroom and the kitchen.
I know it is terrible of me to have even repeated the joke here... But I wanted to... Wanted to make a point (besides wanting to get it outta my system... why should I be the only one to suffer?!)...
I believe that feminism as a term is a much-abused and very loosely used today (unfortunately, of course). Half the junta speaking about feminism has no idea what it means... and here I am especially referring to the ones who leave no stone unturned and no turn unstoned to curse feminism at even the slightest of opportunities. It is one thing to differ in opinion. But it's totally ridiculous to pretend as if you know it all, sit on the ideological high horse and pass judgements while living in utter ignorance. I mean, is it fair to they themselves to draw opinions which are so ill informed?
Please... it's high time we know what feminism is... very simply put, it just means "ZERO TOLERANCE TO VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION BASED UPON GENDER". Is it really so difficult to comprehend or accept. And for those of us who believe it is "women's problem", please think again. Being a man myself, I can vouch for the fact that men too suffer at the hands of patriarchy. What about all the times we were called sissy for simply accepting the fact that our glands too can produce tears? Simple things... common sense... things that should be givens in our lives... justice is a very simple thing... makes life so much simple... but we try to complicate things as much as possible by wondering if men and women are equal... of course, they are... why does it take so much of an effort to accept something so... so... basic. Yup, that's the word - basic!
And for those who don't agree... you can rubbish me by calling me an idealist. Yes, I am an idealist, and would go on to say that there's nothing as pragmatic as well-thought idealism. Call gender justice unworldly and we'll only be hurting ourselves.
The same young person went on to shout her frustration off, "I don't seem to understand what do these feminists want! What is it that they want to change?" And all I could think of saying was, "You, Ma'am!"
Saturday, August 20, 2005
We could get pretty deep
They could be metaphors
for all kinds of
But do you know what I think
I like them.
You know why?
Because on a snowy day,
I can sit insideAnd be warm,
And be outside, too.
I was once staying in a hotel in Mussoorie, and it was amazing to sit next to a big window in my room and watch the fog slowly rise in the valley below... and I could then open the window and let the fog and the clouds in... it was just amazing... have you ever inhaled clouds???
Sunday, August 14, 2005
- The newspaper is full of these freedom offers... advertisements that shove their brand(s) of freedom under my nose along with the steam rising up from my morning dose of coffee... one says, "weight loss freedom plan... join the fight against obesity"... the other one declares, "independence offer... buy our laptops and leave the rest behind"...
- My grocery store sells these "independence packets" of fruits... an orange, a chinese pear and a green apple. In case you are wondering what this means, it's their "sweet" idea of the tricolor, folks!
- The bookstore's put these packets of tiny flags on display... you can pay by credit card in case you aren't carrying cash... just in case you've suddenly remembered it's the independence day today and a sudden wave of patriotism has filled your veins!
- As I type away my thoughts at the cyner cafe, the poster on the wall reminds me that today's the last day to purchase the "Freedom 2005 pack"... "Real Broadband, Real Freedom", it announces loudly...
I dunno what to say... how to interpret all this... But my mind's still stuck on the child who in rags came to me in the morning, pinned a paper flag to my chest and asked for a rupee... Shouldn't we be happy that freedom's available for sale just around the corner at the nearest shop for a few bucks... or with the begging child with a scattered face??!!
Happy Independece Day, folks!
- Cost of violence is almost 3.3% of USA's GDP (about US$ 40 billion per year!)
- Child abuse costs $94 billion annually to the US economy
- Intimate partner violence amonts to $12.6 billion on an annual basis in the US
For those of us who seek refuge in the fact that these statistics speak of only North American and West European situations, the report states that these costs are much more severe in the poorer nations, but the statistics are not available.
And where proactive steps have been taken to prevent and/or address such violence, the economic benefits have been much bigger than the corresponding costs.
Having said this, isn't it tragic that in order for us to denounce violence, we need statistical awareness of the costs involved?! What if the costs of violence weren't high? Let's assume that the economic benefits of prevention efforts were negligible in comparison with the costs? Would that make violence acceptable? Would that have made the prevention programmes any less significant?
Is it all truly about money, honey?
Friday, April 08, 2005
The words are a beautiful music.
The words bounce like in water.
loud in the clearing
off the boats,
They look for a place
to sit and eat--
- Robert Creeley
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Sunday, March 27, 2005
in the city,
would you know me?
Would you recognize my face?
Would my name come to mind for you?
And if you answer yes,
how would you respond?
Would you pass by,
pretending not to notice me?
Or nod and speak a quick hello?
Or stop and chat a while?
Or would you smile a smile so big
and spread your arms all open wide
and take me inside?
If you should meet me on the sidewalk in the city---
What would you do?
- Sharon Terry
Sunday, March 20, 2005
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
`Who are you?' said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
`What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!'
`I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, `because I'm not myself, you see.'
`I don't see,' said the Caterpillar.
`I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,' Alice replied very politely, `for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.'
Monday, March 14, 2005
As with the life of the individual, the novel carries the seed of its end in its beginning. The answer to the reader's question, "What finally happens?" is always the same: everybody dies and the world falls into the Sun. But prolonging the end as long as possible is the novelist's privilege. That is why "THIRD WISH" finishes with the word "To be continued." I know how it ends. But I do not know what happens in the meantime. I write to find out.
I have chosen to write a novel because I choose to continue having adventure in my life. I write to create fleshy memories – to not have only the gnawed bones of the past to sustain me in old age. And even those bones are a reassembled skeleton of what really happened. Our autobiographies are themselves as much a product of the creative imagination as any work of fiction. Our history is what we need it to be. We are the heroes of our own situation comedy. To be alive and human is to live on a tightrope. To retain balance, you must keep moving.
"The novel's spirit is the spirit of complexity. Every novel says to the reader: 'Things are not as simple as you think.' That is the novel's eternal truth." Milan Kundera said that in The Art of the Novel.
A successful novel is a conspiracy between the reader and the writer. The reader's imagination is required to complete the writer's. The reader must be willing to be active – to do some work – to take some responsibility. If the reader does his work well, every novel is unique. The writer and the reader can both declare:
I am the life.
I am the work.
I am the audience.
I am the singer.
And I the song.
We conspire to collaborate.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
CRITICS - By Kahlil Gibran (from The Forerunner)
One nightfall a man travelling on horseback towards the sea reached an inn by the roadside. He dismounted and, confident in man and night like all riders towards the sea, he tied his horse to a tree beside the door and entered into the inn.
At midnight, when all were asleep, a thief came and stole the traveller's horse.
In the morning the man awoke, and discovered that his horse was stolen. And he grieved for his horse, and that a man had found it in his heart to steal.
Then his fellow lodgers came and stood around him and began to talk.
And the first man said, "How foolish of you to tie your horse outside the stable."
And the second said, " Still more foolish, without even hobbling the horse!"
And the third man said, "It is stupid at best to travel to the sea on horseback."
And the fourth said, "Only the indolent and the slow of foot own horses."
Then the traveller was much astonished. At last he cried, "My friends, because my horse was stolen, you have hastened one and all to tell me my faults and my shortcomings. But strange, not one word of reproach have you uttered about the man who stole my horse."
Saturday, March 12, 2005
WAR - Kahlil Gibran (from The Madman)
One night a feast was held in the palace, and there came a man and prostrated himself before the prince, and all the feasters looked upon him; and they saw that one of his eyes was out and that the empty socket bled. And the prince inquired of him, "What has befallen you?" And the man replied, "O prince, I am by profession a thief, and this night, because there was no moon, I went to rob the money-changer's shop, and as I climbed in through the window I made a mistake and entered the weaver's shop, and in the dark I ran into the weaver's loom and my eye was plucked out. And now, O prince, I ask for justice upon the weaver."
Then the prince sent for the weaver and he came, and it was decreed that one of his eyes should be plucked out.
"O prince," said the weaver, "the decree is just. It is right that one of my eyes be taken. And yet, alas! both are necessary to me in order that I may see the two sides of the cloth that I weave. But I have a neighbor, a cobbler, who has also two eyes, and in his trade both eyes are not necessary."
Then the prince sent for the cobbler. And he came. And they took out one of the cobbler's two eyes.
And justice was satisfied.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Could read... enjoy... relate... connect...
He lies alone.
The quite is all to deafening. Its all there is.
To one side of him the phone. Talk.
To the other. The computer, chat.
Neither is comforting.
"It doesn't matter" he thinks.
Nothing ever will.
Near him, all around him, is the faint scent of despair.
He looks for something to hold onto.
Nothing except the silence, the quite.
"I should get up." he thinks.
"What’s the point?" is what follows.
His hands tremble.
He wants to cry, but he can't.
Its almost as if he's immune to the situation.
"Stiff upper lip," He thinks "Stiff upper lip"
It doesn't help
Nothing seems to help.
He searches for something more to hold onto. Anything.
All he finds are his thoughts.
They're no help.
All they seem to do is betray him.
As if someone has opened the floodgates,
Millions of Gallons of thoughts come rushing into his mind.
He struggles to stay afloat.
He looks for his planking, something to help him stay afloat.
He finds dreams, and holds on to them.
He won't let go. He won't ever let go.
He lies alone.
The quite is all to deafening. Its all there is.
To one side of him the phone. Talk.
To the other. The computer, chat.
Neither is comforting…
– by Greg Bealer