Monday, August 20, 2007

A slice of life

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."
- Aristotle

Last Saturday, enjoyed a well deserved outing to a local Panchayat called Mavoor. The trip was meant to be a field visit for an academic project, though, it ended up more as a picnic.

The countryside in Kerala has been discriminately blessed by nature. For a philosophical mind, a drive on its narrow roads can be alluring at the least - it inspires many moods at once. The breath-taking vistas abundantly strewn across the land's vast fabric are catalysts for poets and heaven for photographers.

Trees flanking the roads provide a natural respite from the sun

The roads are narrow but well laid for most of the stretches, including many National Highways. The abundant greenery and the calm blanket of peace spread across the entire landscape can provide a good food for thought for creative minds.

The Stretch to Mavoor

Water is the most abundant of all elements in the "God's own country". Monsoons bless the earth in Kerala for as much as 4 to 5 months in the calendar year and large stretches can be found covered with water during June to September.

A snapshot from our bikes

Many rivulets emerge only during the rains

Coconut is one of the primary floras of the area and those classic picturesque scenaries of tall pine like trees can be spotted almost everywhere. Drying coconut is one of the primary occupations of local people and inhabitations are located across most of the rivulets besides which such trees are found in abundance.

Most parts of Mavoor are on the banks of "Chaliyar". Heavy coconut vegetation can be noted in the background

A local coconut drying unit

In terms of education, which was one of the major thrust areas in our study, I found the state to be pretty well "advanced". Even the small village had a decent higher secondary school complete with all basic necessities. A healthy male-female ratio, low drop-out rates and a sufficient number of teachers, all constitute a substantial arrangement.

The Higher Secondary School building at Mavoor

Imagining a school this large in a small village is tough for people coming from most parts of northern India

The trip as a whole was the best enjoyment I've had since coming to this place. An exhilarating journey, a wonderful respite from the mundane work and a first-hand experience of the God's own expanse, all contributed to the hearty smile on everyone's face!

A part of our group

They ended it all with the customary sutta!

P.S. All pictures courtesy Kajal, the "unofficial" trip photographer! :D

Saturday, August 18, 2007


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व्यस्त जीवन के कुछेक बेचैन पलों में जब
तुम्हारी यादों की क़सक होती है
जड़-चेतन हर तत्व में हर ओर
सिर्फ़ तुम्हारी झलक होती है

इन अनवरत बारिशों में
तुम्हारे नटखटपन की मिलावट है
इन विस्तृत घाटियों के खालीपन में
तुम्हारी उत्कटता की आहट है

इन घुमावदार सड़कों के उस पार अब भी
तुम्हारी परछाईयाँ अठखेली करती हैं
उन पर्वतों में डूबती-उतराती घटाएं
यादों की आँख मिचौली करती हैं

रात्रि के तीसरे पहर वाले सन्नाटे में
तुम्हारी मोहक-अविरल बातें गूँजती हैं
रौशनी के नीचे असँख्य कीट-पतँगों की भन्नाहट में
तुम्हारी उच्छृन्खलता खलती है

माना आज तुम साथ न सही
पर इक सुखद अनुभूति तो है
वो चंचल मुस्कान आस-पास न सही
भरोसा उन यादों के प्रति तो है

जीवन से कुछ प्राप्त हुआ हो न हो
पर स्वयं पर इतना अभिमान तो है
तुम्हारी चेतना में क्षण भर को ही सही
आज भी आता मेरा नाम तो है!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I need a miracle

The marvellous Bon Jovi...

"He said
I'm just one man, that's all I'll ever be
I never can be everything you wanted from me
I've got plans so big
That any blind man could see "

There's more to it...

"Your feet are grounded still
You're reaching for the sky
You can let 'em clip your wings
'Cause I believe that you can fly"

And the best part...

"It ain't all for nothing
Life ain't written in the sand
I know the tide is coming
But it's time we made a stand
With a miracle"

Friday, August 10, 2007

आओ मिल कर बैठें

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कई वर्षों की ख्वाहिश है
तमाम ज़िन्दगी यूँ ही बिताने की
कुछ गिले-शिकवे मिटाने की
कुछ पुरानी यादें सजाने की

वो रंगीन किस्से, वो छोटी मुलाकातें
उन जामों का हल्का सुरूर, वो दिल की बातें
वो परिंदों सी आज़ादी, वो सुकूनी रातें
फिर साथ आने की, वो बाज़ियाँ बिछाने की

कुछ पुराने साथी, कुछ पुराने मंज़र
कुछ दिलफेंक नज़ारे, कुछ हसीन खंजर
कई आड़ी तिरछी राहें, कई अजीब सफ़र
हमाम में एक बार फिर, वही नज़्में गुनगुनाने की

कोशिश तुम्हारे ग़मों को फिर अपनाने की
एक ही थाली में फिर हर रोज़ खाने की
तुम्हारे दिल का वो कोना वापस पाने की
ख्वाहिश है, एक बार फिर दिल-से मुस्कुराने की

Inspired by Chandra's post.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The frosted glass

Something seems to be going against the natural. I am being taught to divide life - into grids. And its being blatantly preached with such simplicity as if the world has always been like this, in a two-by-two matrix. It started off with a minor discomfort, theories to divide businesses into grids. Moved on to a more disastrous idea of dividing problems and solutions into grids. Consequently followed division of the population - they named it segmentation. And they didn't stop. Our "education" seemed to be incomplete without including the outrageous ideas of dividing personalities... I'd rather use the direct term than the metaphor - dividing "humans" into grids.

The system thus goes on. After all, you must learn this "art" to secure your 14th storey office in an uptown location (By the way, "I LOVE NY" is a common phrase on T-shirts of "humans" studying here). Find out what characterizes him: "high" on this, "low" on this. Pat, here's your chance to spot the "opportunity". "Target" that, encash that, you are suddenly the winner. Applause.

Its been a mixed experience in terms of my own life in the past one and a half months since I am here. Its a good feeling when you observe that your parents have a sense of proud because you are here. Friends have a reason to bask in glory; juniors have reasons to ping you up in the hope of some tips which might just work. Your own demeanour changes when you walk on the roads in other cities with that IIMK T-shirt.

The other half - I'm slowly learning how to be a programmed machine integrated with time-management functionalities so as to generate maximum possible outcome. I learnt DC++ usage so that I can search for sunrise pics on the network - the sunrise which nobody here would see in their two years' stay and which is always covered by others' cameras. I learnt to repeatedly boast of the natural beauty of the place to friends on phone, though I myself experienced it just once with that Kappad trip in the initial days. When I sometimes feel to drown into alcohol on weekends (its a different story that the time never permits you), it goes against my own old-days preachings - people drink not because they want to ward off trouble, its rather to have good times with friends. Everything is too artificial from all perspectives, I'm learning to pretend to be happy.

It rains for almost half of the year in Kerala. And I am dying to get drenched...

Too much of a pessimist I am, huh?

Friday, June 01, 2007


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काश मेरे पास बस थोड़ा कुछ होता...
एक कतरा आसमान का विस्तार
एक दोने भर नदी का बलखाना
एक थैली सागर की उठती लहर
एक मुठ्ठी पुरवईया का झोंका
एक साँस भर भीगी काली घटा
एक नज़र भर इँद्रधनुष का रँग

मैं ज़्यादा कुछ की लालसा नहीं रखता...
बस एक नग सरसराती पत्ती उस झाड़ की
एक दामन इठलाहट पेड़ की डाल की
एक चुटकी भर महक पहली बारिश से नम मिट्टी की
एक छुअन चुलबुली मचलती उस गिलहरी की
एक चुल्लू खुशबू बाग़ के सारे फूलों की
एक हथेली पसीना माली की मेहनत का

मैंने सीमित कर डाले हैं अपने ख़्वाब, चाहिये अगर...
तो बस एक हिस्सा ऊँचे पर्वत की हिम्मत का
एक चमकीली किरण ढलते सूरज की
एक आईना तालाब में बनती चाँद की परछाई
एक मीठी सिहरन रात को समन्दर किनारे की ठण्डी रेत की
एक चेतना ऊँचाई से गिरती झरने की इक बूँद की
एक थोड़ा बंजारापन उस रेगिस्तान का

मैंने अपने लिये तो कभी कुछ चाहा ही नहीं...
बस एक मुठ्ठी विवेक से भरा मस्तिष्क
एक झोली मिठास से भरी वाणी
एक पर्वत भर ऊँचा विश्वास
एक चींटी भर जितना धैर्य
एक सागर भर गहरे प्रेम से भरा हृदय
और एक सम्पूर्ण "आत्मा" से भरा शरीर

काश मेरे पास बस थोड़ा कुछ होता...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


The other day, was watching Raincoat for the nth time. Just happened to note a small sequence when Anu Kapoor (the house-owner) has finished explaining Ajay Devgan (Aishwarya Rai's old lover) how he's been bluffed by the woman about her prosperity, and how he'd have to force the couple out of his house for not paying the rent. Ajay Devgan offers to pay the partial rent and requests him not to evict them from the premises.

The owner accepts the money, and says -

"Ek baat poochhen baabu?....
Ye aapka praayashchit hai....

ya pratishodh?"

Is it a remorse or a revenge?!! What can you say? :)

Monday, May 28, 2007


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कई वर्षों पुरानी ये छोटी सी कथा
एक छोटे बालक की बड़ी मनोव्यथा
जब पहली बार हृदय हुआ लाचार
लगा उसे, बस यही है "पहला प्यार"

बालक ही था, क्या जाने प्रेम की परिभाषा
हर दिन डूबता-उतराता, कभी आशा, कभी निराशा
तेरह वर्ष की उम्र में ही, जीवन लगने लगा इक स्वप्न
कारणों से अनभिज्ञ, बस बेचैन सा रहता मन

हाँ, माना वो भी कुछ कम न थी
इक कली, तब तलक किसी की हमदम न थी
उस प्यारी सी बच्ची का, ऐसा गज़ब का आकर्षण
बालक बेचारा, थम सा जाता हर क्षण

मूर्ख, अज्ञानी, सच से अनभिज्ञ, पूरा नादान
अरे प्रेम को समझ न पाए ज्ञानी-महान
अगर तेरह वर्षीय बालक को सचमुच प्रेम हो जाए
तब तो मानव-शुचिता पर ही प्रश्न लग जाए

प्रेम है वो अग्नि, वो शक्ति महान
जिसमें हृदय खोता नहीं, पाता है पहचान
बेसुध मन हो, फिर भी इक विचित्र अनुभूति
प्रेम ही धरा, प्रेम मानव, प्रेम स्वयँ प्रकृति

ख़ैर, दर्शनशास्त्र वाचन नहीं इस कविता का उद्देश्य
वापस चलें उस बालक के हृदय-प्रदेश
बालक था परेशान, विकट समस्या, न कोई निदान
कैसे हो भावनाओं की अभिव्यक्ति, मिले कोई समाधान

दो वर्ष बीते, तथाकथित प्रेम में आई थोड़ी तीव्रता
पर वही पुरानी कथा, दोनों की थी "बस मित्रता"!
बस कुछ दिन और, विद्यालय का होने आया समय समाप्त
बालक को लगता, हर दिन मानो हृदयाघात

बालक के कुछ अन्य मित्र, भाँप गए उसकी परिस्थिति
जो उससे हो न सकी, मित्रों ने कर डाली वो कृति
वो समझ न पाई ये सब, उम्र में थी वो भी नादान
तोड़ डाले हर बंधन, नष्ट की मित्रता की हर पहचान

जीवन में पहली बार, लगा हृदय पर घोर आघात
प्रेम नहीं, सिर्फ़ आकर्षण ने, छीना एक मित्र का साथ
स्वप्न तो भहराए, पर साथ हुआ एक अपराध-बोध
अपराध? अर्थात् न था प्रेम वह, साबित होता बिना शोध!

प्रेम नहीं, पुनः मित्रता पाने को, जुटाकर साधन सकल
बालक ने किया अथक प्रयास, रहा सर्वथा विफल
समय चक्र न रुका है कभी, बीते ऐसे ही वर्ष दस
बालक रमा अलग जीवन में, तुच्छ मानवों की यही बिसात बस!

अन्दर कहीं न कहीं परन्तु, व्याकुल हृदय था कचोटता
तेईस वर्षों का हुआ बालक, पर अब भी याद आती वह मित्रता
आज भी उसके वही सिद्धांत, रिश्तों को समझना पूँजी प्रधान
रहा न गया, दस वर्षों पर्यन्त, कर दिया दूरभाष हृदय थाम!

थोड़ी बहुत बातें, यूँ ही हालचाल, जैसे मिले हों अजनबी
समझना न सही, पर भूल न सकी इतने दिनों बाद भी?
मैंने ऐसा क्या किया गुनाह, बालक ही तो था नादान
दस वर्षों बाद ही सही, मित्रता का थोड़ा तो करते सम्मान!

हूँ अज्ञानी पर सुन लो, कहता हूँ इक अनमोल वचन
कल न तुम रहोगी, न मैं, बस इतने से सच को कहते जीवन
अगर कभी कम हो मलाल, लगे ज़रूरत किसी अपने की
बेहिचक याद करना, राह देखूँगा मित्र तुम्हारे लौटने की...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I love traffic jams!! :D

Ask about Bangalore, and any proud Bangalorean would tell you the (scary?) stories of endless jams. Last week, had gone through a forwarded mail from someone claiming to be a "jam-lover" and thoughts on how interesting the traffic jams can be, started propping up. They only strengthened, when today onwards, a new rule was implemented at office - be there by 9:30. Its the time I used to spend enjoying a light morning read, but sadly, orders are orders! And following this one order, changed my outlook on what jams could be!

Setting out at nine on weekdays with a bike on Bangalore roads can give you a whole new perspective towards life. Its a battlefield, and you are the yoddhaa, with one 150cc deadly weapon in your hand. The first lesson here, perseverance.

Just don't let it go. The Maruthinagar stretch is filled up, with sepoys from all ends. Its a complete ghamaasaan. And there are no rules - an apt living reality. You are alone, fighting only for yourself. No help except the throttle in your hands, your destiny. And you can't let go, you can't decide to get back, because there is no back, its jammed, its life. You persist. Persist with only one aim - win. And the second lesson here, goals.

You've to make it on time. Its a daily business, no excuses. You must be focussed, not only today - but daily. No yuddh-viraam in this, the battle continues till eternity, and your goal remains. And you know you are reaching it, inch-by-inch, minute by minute, persistently. You realise that slowly and slowly you are being caught in the time's web of deceit, and you ponder anxiously on your watch. Its time! Time to kill! And blop comes the third lesson, risk-taking.

You've a goal, and to achieve it, you decide right then, to move forward, destroying enemies at both ends. There is a horde of lesser-beings, inefficient bulky fighters towards the left trying to keep up in the same direction as you, and there is the crowd of yoddhaas coming from the other end. You decide to confront, to twist the throttle and move on the other lane meant for sepoys coming from the opposite side. There might be a risk of a head-on if a similar desperate fighter decides the same from the other end, but that's why you are there in the battle-field, to fight and to persist! Looking at the kraantikaari step you just took, a wind of inspiration flows in the sepoys behind. The fourth lesson at this point, leadership.

You are moving, confronting the enemies from the opposite ends, and a group of brave fighters follow you. Suddenly you've your own platoon! You become the senaapati- the leader, no official communications required for this promotion! You lead the platoon crushing all attacks, taking the ownership of moving ahead at the signal-less junction even when a giant yoddha with a 1300cc truck is desperate to cross the road and has already reached halfway. Some of the fighters in your troop fall back, when you take the ultimate decision to cross the signal at Eejipura, when the lights have just turned red from yellow. But you persist, because your cause is to fight, and the followers are bound to be dead if they can't keep up! The fifth lesson, competition originates just after this.

Ring road is here! And you put in your final efforts with speeding fighters. You twist the throttle to the max, its a double road, and here there are no rules and no opposition. You just have to get past everyone moving towards the same office, same goal. You persist to compete, edge out each one in the battleground. The competition reaches fierce proportions and you just have one thought which you want to yell to everyone - "Lead, follow, or get out of the way!" And finally comes the destination. You relax beneath that small fan in the elevator, recalling all calculated risks you took, and how you wielded the talwaar to get past everything, feeling the sweetness of success which you are to taste everyday!

The jam is an excellent teacher, and as somebody had rightly pointed out, with freebies as good as sights of young teenaged girls in that SUV waiting at the signal, its the best recreation you can have! The jam is the momentum, its the energy of life; how aptly it fits in the definition of the word energy - "A jam can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transferred from one junction to another!"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Thundering Sound of Silence

I am afraid... I always was, of heights - acrophobia, logophiles would correct. Its just around 4 mts high, but still its scary. The sky is faintly lighted with a few scattered rays stolen from the morning sun which has decided not to show up so early. The water below is deep blue, like clear shining crystals, in the floodlights flanking the swimming pool. The spring-board feels cold on the naked feet, the light morning breeze colder on the scarcely covered body. I try to move to the edge, prompted by the trainer; taking as small steps as possible, as if, vainly trying to stop the board from shaking. It doesn't stop, keeps on with its minute up-and-down. It must've been just a few inches of movement, but it aggravates the fear.

I look down, and a chill runs down the spine. Instructions come to look straight to the front. The huge sign-board on the other end of the pool with the name of the club in bold capitals gleams proudly, defying me, mocking me, standing erect braving the cold and warding off all materialistic fears that we living creatures have been doomed with.

A voice beats my ear-drums - "Jump!!" I look down once again, as if vainly trying to recollect myself, to try hard one last time and convince myself that its just water below. The voice repeats - "Jump!!!" My brain stops, all body functions too. All I can feel is silence. First, the roaring air, then the thundering water. Both completely silent. There is a tickling somewhere inside, though; and somewhere it feels good. A free fall, of however small duration, the feeling of liberty, the feeling of being free. The air doesn't block my way, nor does the water, nor my own brain and thought processes, nor the fears - nothing in this world. Its the joy of freedom I feel...