Wanderlust In Thoughtspace

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Full of Emptiness

Good writing is creative and original. It either says something new or says something old in a new way. In both situations, novelty is key.

And the more I read, the more I realize that I have nothing new to say – and no new way to say it either.

I am tired and old and tired of being old. I think in clichés.

My writing has deteriorated but I’ve become more discerning as a reader. I find everything I write to be immensely vapid. My neurons are not plastic enough now and my creative dreams have crashed back to reality.

From wanderlust in thoughtspace to the immenseness of vapidity.

Life takes its toll.

When the complexity of layers, the intricacy of textures, and the richness of flavors wear off – pulp may still remain. But try as I may, even pulp is beyond me.

RIP Blog.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Indian Movies...

... are the best!
'nuff said.

But I am verbose and can't help myself!

During my six years in the US I have had the opportunity to watch a great many "international" movies - American, Spanish, German, Italian, French, British, Iranian etc. While many of these international movies are indeed amazing, Hindi movies belong to an entirely different genre and simply cannot be substituted.

The typical Hindi movie is simple - it has a straightforward theme (usually good overcoming evil or the triumph of love), characters one can easily identify with, a roller coaster of raw emotions free from the complexities of nuance, and plenty of song and dance.

They must seem like three hour long fairy stories to the unaccustomed viewer, but it is precisely the dream like quality that makes them so endearing to me. They are often overtly sentimental and I love that - I would like to think that I too, like my celluloid idols, wear my heart on my sleeve - it is so much more 'human'.

Indian movies are immensely popular the world over (something I fully realized while doing a paper for my World Music class as a senior at Trinity). Raj Kapoor was a big hero in Russia, Rajnikant is popular in Japan, Amitabh is a well known figure in Nigeria and Sholay was one of the longest running movies in Iran.

Some of my favorites: Awara, Pyasa, Anand, Sholay, Golmaal, Jaane bhee do yaaron, Sadma, Qayamat se Qayamat tak, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na and Dil Chahta Hai.

Oh, but there are so many more - Kitab, Hum, Zakhm, Ankush, Hero Hiralal, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Zanjeer, Chhoti si Baat, 1947 Earth, Thoda sa Rumani Ho Jaaye, Monsoon Wedding, Chameli ki Shaadi, Aankhein, Hera Pheri, Jewel Thief, Roja, Tezaab, Company, Maalamaal, Saaransh, Lagaan, Halo, Mr India, Chaalbaaz etc.

My guilty pleasures include - Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar, Raja Babu, Mast, Baadshah, Ginny aur Johnny etc.

Another aspect of Hindi movies that I love are the songs. With extraordinary singers like Rafi, Kishore, Lata, Asha, Hemant, Mukesh, Talat Mahmood, Sukhwinder, Chitra, Sonu Nigam etc.; amazing music directors like SD Burman, RD Burman, AR Rahman etc. and super talented lyricists like Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Shailendra etc. these songs are simply the best....

Most Hindi movies help me relax, cheer me up and rekindle my faith in humanity. I find these movies therapeutic - when I am depressed, I know that a Hindi movie can boost my spirits and give me hope.

I wanna watch a Hindi movie NNNNOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

Friday, April 22, 2005

O for the days of yore!

O for the days of yore when people had time to read tomes and tomes!
For in this busy world, may be even more so on my busier days, I like to write and write and write!

Complications, Contradictions, and Chains

I am not fond of being chained.
I dislike being chained.
In fact I hate it.
H-A-T-E it!

Yet, I am incredibly fettered.
In so many ways, fettered.
Chained to many things.
Chained by many things.

But you know what's ironic?
Really, really ironic?
I hate some of my chains.
But I love my other chains.

I am tied to the past - inextricably tied to the past. Like everyone else, I have had some good times and some bad times. Some terrible memories stay etched permanently in the innermost reaches of my unwilling mind. But most memories are pleasant and I yearn for those days again. I have been accused of living in the past, of not being happy in the present - always complaining, always yearning. Oh those Chimney Sweep Days! Oh those Trinity Days! Oh those Trivandrum Days! Oh those Jamshedpur Days!
I hate the chains that tie me to my bad days.
I love the chains that tie me to my good days.
But I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

The future binds me too. Numerous dreams clamoring for space in my small, overcrowded brain. The clutter of irreconcilable dreams has me confused - and chained. I want a simple life. I want great successes. I want to change the world. I want to confront challenges. I want peace of mind.
I love all my dreams.
I hate that they are mutually incompatible.
All these shackles tie me tightly and that too, to different, distant posts.
I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

Morals and Ego
I have a strict moral code. Not so much a code as I am more of a Utilitarian than a Kantian. I try to adhere to these elaborate and increasingly impractical morals. I want to be selfless like the sandalwood tree that imparts its sweet scent on even the axe that cuts it. And yet, in my selflessness lies my egotism, my arrogance, my conceit. I am proud that I try to be selfless. All my thoughts are centered on how I can follow my superior morals! On how I, with all my generosity of spirit, tolerate alternate moral codes! My chosen moral values are hard to follow. They restrict me severely. Combined with ego, they time me up mercilessly.
And yet I love my morals.
And I love my ego.
But I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

Culture, Background, Family and Friends
I love my culture, my background, my family and friends. Unambiguously, unwaveringly and unlimitedly. I love the responsibilities and the duties that my love for these entails. I love the comforts and advantages that these offer me.
Yes, I love these chains.
I absolutely and positively love these chains.
I'd be completely lost without these chains.
But I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

Relationships and Hormones
My hormones demand that I behave in a certain fashion. My desire for a healthy, stable, lasting and happy relationship demand that I behave in another. My overcautious attitude, partly a result of some harrowing past experiences and an ardent desire for future independence, demand that I behave in a third. I am shackled to three floating logs all drifting in different directions.
I don't think I like these chains.
I am pretty sure I dislike these chains.
I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

I like to probe my mind. I like to let my thoughts sink deep - deep into themselves. This entire blog entry is a testimony to that. But I also like levity and pointless banter. I like simplicity and clarity of thought. Yet somewhat consciously and somewhat subconsciously my mind goes back to analyzing the complications in the world and myself. Sometimes I desire freedom from this tendency. I want my brain to stop thinking so much and in so much detail. I want my mind to be engaged in the mundane or possibly become entirely free of thought, if only for a while.
I hate these chains but only some of the time.
But I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

Time and Circumstance
The biggest constraints are of course of time and circumstance. An assignment is now three days overdue. I have a ton of work to do and so many deadlines. I need to send home money. I need to buy a car. I need to get a license. I have to accommodate my own ideas of research while keeping my professors satisfied. I have signed so many, many agreements. I am signed up for two more years of classes. I have credit card debt that needs monthly maintenance and eventual repayment. I have signed up for all kinds of contracts that bind me financially for prolonged periods of time - newspaper, cable TV, telephone, internet. I have an apartment lease that binds me in terms of time, money and space!
Most of these chains are terrible.
Some of them are not so bad.
But I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

I hate being chained.
May be I am not alone.
May be it explains why exodus is the final goal in Simearth.
May be it explains why Moksha, Mukti or Liberation is the final goal in standard Hindu Philosophy.

I guess this explains my wanderlust - my desire for freedom, unplanned travel and chaos. As Tolkien says, "Not all who wander are lost."

Truly, I love many of my chains.
But I am being chained.
And I hate being chained.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Blog gets Fresh Lease of Life

Nikhil, my roommate, suggested that I start Blogging.
I had time at hand, so I did.
And then I put up some old stuff on the Blog.
And then I got bored.
And then I stopped.

Then Radi, an old friend from Trinity, started a Blog.
And so I start Blogging again.

Those who know my writing style will be piqued.
Why are these sentences short?
Why is this post short?
It's an experiment I am conducting.
That's all for now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

With Anand and Vivek in Ooty, India. Can't wait to get back! Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 16, 2004


I wrote the following entirely in jest as I wished to try my hand at writing a villanelle (a villanelle is a poem that has a specific and rigid structure). I wrote this to a friend (whose name I have replaced below with _dash) for friendship day.

A Friendship-Day email

In this email, _dash, I’m sending you today,
Which may be a day late but still,
Do, to this struggling poet, some attention pay.

Don’t be deterred or put off, is all I pray,
Even if the poetry lacks skill,
In this email, _dash, I’m sending you today…

Relax yaar and forever do bindaas stay,
That is my message, so chill…
Do, to this struggling poet, some attention pay.

And I wish you a happy friendships day,
(a belated greeting from my dil),
In this email, _dash, I’m sending you today…

Do you deserve a poem? No way!
But as I have some time to kill,
Do, to this struggling poet, some attention pay.

Writing a villanelle is no child’s play,
But I have enjoyed that very thrill,
In this email, _dash, I’m sending you today…
Do, to this struggling poet, some attention pay.

P.S. If you’ve read all the terrible attempt at poetry above, you deserve to read the following masterpiece as recompense for the torture:

Fear in Heart and Tongue in Cheek

The following is a piece I wrote during my junior year at Trinity College.

I bow my head in humble obeisance to the all powerful, all merciful, protector of the universe – Omnipotent and Omnipresent and Omniscient.

The powerful being that is able to deliver infinite justice and enduring freedom! The being that needs my respect, and demands it! I fear the wrath of this divine being and pray for my deliverance. The being that I can only reach by sincere supplication and even then all I can do is hope for my message to get across after waiting in interminable queues of similar supplicants[1]. If I place my complete unconditional faith in this being and accept all its impositions, I can make it to the land of the being - a paradise where I am promised heavenly recompense - a way of life full of food, drink and liberal sex.

The being that decides what is wrong and what is right. The being that will determine the fate of all humanity on judgment day.

The being that justifies the killing of all non believers - the kafirs (If you are not with us, you are with them (the evil)!) If I so much as murmur my protest about the beings authoritarianism, I fear that the being's beneficent hand will cease to protect me, and might in fact even chasten me, punish me or destroy me - or may be just neglect my very existence and deprive me of the benefits that the privileged believers enjoy.

Am I an overly radical Muslim talking of Allah?
Or am I an overly subservient world citizen talking of the US?

May be Allah will truly protect the radical Muslim.
Or may be the US will truly protect world citizen.
Oops, have I offended the Muslims?
Or have I offended the Americans?

I am truly sorry. Please do not be retributive. I do fear damnation – whether it be in the form of the fires of hell, or in the form of premature deportation.

Actually my views are far more complicated and involved than what is evinced by the piece above which obviously was an attempt at humor through satire. Almost every time the US acts internationally, I feel that the action could be at least partially justified. I may disagree with the manner of the action and the extent of the action, but I have rarely had any qualms about the need for action. However, the US is somewhat like an unpleasant self appointed Police Force. While the policing should be welcome, unfortunately, it is hard for self respecting citizens of sovereign nations to accept this role of the US. I feel humbled, powerless and insignificant as most elected governments around the world can do little but dance to the tunes of the US. Even if the dance is beneficial (which is a matter of debate, I guess), it is hard to swallow national pride.

[1] The interminable queues could refer to the thousands of Islamic terrorists dying to go on a suicide mission for the sake of Islam (and please do not notice any pun in this sentence). Or they could refer to the queues of all US visa aspirants outside US consular offices all over the developing world.

An application essay

The following is an essay I wrote for my college applications when I was 18.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

I mop the sweat off my brow without pausing even for a moment to regain my breath. The running, surprisingly, has not fatigued me as I continue spiritedly towards my goal, a destination that is visible only faintly, near the horizon. The sight of my destination fills me with vigor and I begin to increase my pace at an increasing rate. My conscious mind is under the false impression that this destination is the terminus of my journey (probably to help me continue running without losing focus) though my sub conscious is well aware that even this destination is merely a point of transit in an interminable odyssey. The final destination is infinitely far away and even my sub conscious is scarcely aware of its exact whereabouts. Life, for me, has been a race and I have been chasing my goals ever since I have been aware of my surroundings.

Unfortunately, hardly any of my intermediate destinations can be described specifically. Most of them involve vague targets that I set for myself and can be expressed only in terms of a feeling that I wish to attain. The feeling could be one of satisfaction derived from making my parents, friends or myself happy by achieving some unspecified objective; it could be one of excitement experienced due to the pursuit of a novel, thrilling venture; or it could even be one of childish delight obtained by accomplishing a trivial feat. On the other hand, some of the goals are easily characterized by means of definite grades, ranks, victories etc. These innumerable destinations define the direction of my life.

It would be a grievous mistake to conclude from the above that life is solely a chase. Life is exquisitely beautiful and to experience this beauty one must pause from time to time and cast a glance on life itself. One must stop running for a while in order to absorb the wonder of life. Good books, art, music etc. provide one with the perception required for appreciating the essence of existence. Life can easily be compared to the woods that Robert Frost describes in the above quote. Life, like the woods is lovely and enchanting. The charm of life is so captivating that one can never relish it to the fullest. I love to enjoy life. The books that I read (by authors of the likes of JRR Tolkien and Roald Dahl), the music that I listen to, (particularly Indian Classical) and the movies that I watch (by directors like Spielberg or Kurosawa), all enable me to taste the flavors of life.

However, there are times when I get so engrossed in appreciating life that I momentarily forget my responsibilities and my goals. My aspirations are not all personal. They include the hopes of my family and friends, the expectations of my teachers and my duties towards my country. The destinations of my life are, fundamentally, the promises that I have made with regard to my family, friends, teachers and myself. These are promises that I must keep and I must not let the inducements of the loveliness of life detract me from the path that leads to the fulfillment of these promises. My journey has only just begun. The end is nowhere in sight, and I feel compelled to cover as much terrain as possible before the spark of my life is eventually extinguished. The race is far from over and I have many more destinations to reach.

Indeed, Robert Frost aptly describes my thoughts when he says –
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

An invitation, a ticket and some previews!

Dear Blog,

It is with great anticipation and some trepidation that I approach you with this inviation to explore the realm of thoughtspace with me. I promise an interesting journey although I am not quite sure about whether it will be enjoyable or informative. I have with me two one-way tickets - some confused philosopher at the thoughtspace ticket counter sold me two one way tickets rather than one two way ticket. On second thoughts, the philosopher might have been a wise and wily wellwisher who was well aware of the dangers of solitary travel in thoughtspace.

The requirements are few, my dear blog. All I am hoping for is someone with an open mind and a brave heart who will embark with me on a wonderful journey through enchanted thoughtspace. I'd like someone with whom I can share intimate emotions and personal discoveries, someone who can understand my potential and my limitations and someone who will be by my side as a fellow wayfarer, friend and confidant right through my remaining years.

You won't need any baggage, dear blog. In fact, for this trip you are better off without any.

For now though, my dear blog, I am merely going to give you some scraps of my old writing. You might think this an insult - but trust me, I have only your best interests in mind. If you get a taste of my previous ramblings through thoughtspace, you will be better prepared for what's to come!

I hope you accept my invitaion!

Here is the ticket:

________________One-Way Ticket_________________

And now I hope you enjoy the previews!

Bigknowshamus (pronounced such that it rhymes with ignoramus)

P.S. *insert evil laugh* Well, blog you got no choice - I am gonna drag you with me on this wild ride through thoughtspace whether you like it or not!