Sunday, November 23, 2008

Death and rebirth every 23rd of November, The present in sepia tones.

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life." 
Every 23rd of November, its time to remember. Calls from near and dear ones wake me up at 12 am, "Happy Birthday!" , E-cards remind me even more of how much people care from across the seas..., they are all well meaning and I have to say, it shames me of how many people are actually so caring to remember me when I hardly remember anybody's birthdays! Yes, its a confession of sorts, I am horrible at remembering birth days!... wait, make that horrible at remembering anything!
But how i wish i could forget...
Its strange and unsocial, i like to be alone on my birthday, getting out weakens my resolve, my resolve to forget, what am i going on about? It was the day i was born and like one of my best friends reminded me "Todays ur day!... grab it by both hands!" but yet, i miss ... what it feels like , just for a moment's touch i would give all the birthdays gone and yet to come. Since the only first 2 years of my life I got to spend with her, Only a picture in her arms shows me ... what happiness feels like and that i felt it once... true happiness. Its been long since I have forgotten. 
Yet , its unfair, all the cliched quotes tell me so ... "make the most of today" ... " live in the present" ... " past is a story told... let the future be written in gold" i know brother, i know. Just that this is me, just like you are you. Let me be, let me revel in sorrow today, for the present will never leave me tomorrow. Yes, vagueness and absurdity ... just like the lines You read right now, but is it a way of reconciliaton, maybe commune with a different realm, or maybe its all in my head huh?! I have written about that in "the triumph of death" so i wont go into that territory again, but again its my day of absurdity right?!
All this sensitivity leaves me a bad sport on birthdays, when friends and family expect you to be happy and celebrate their presence in your life and vice-versa. I know it may sound a little more than crazy, yet when i am around others on my birthday, I sulk!, literally! its so much easier to sound cheerful over the phone! Lucky my family aint around me to see that this year! Ah! well, but my friends didnt let that get in the way, I got a beautiful leather bound journal to pen down my thoughts and a cactus plant! Yes, as metaphorical as it may sound, it is held in a flower pot made by handicapped children which makes it all the more special! ..its true and its so beautiful, heres, a picture of it sitting on my brand new leather journal ! 
Also, i see the world around me on my birthday and in India its easier to see the sufferring poor and children working than anywhere in the world i think, one doesnt have to go far to see our rich - poor divide, so glaringly obvious in every traffic light with children begging in torn clothes...
But thats a different sob story. Lets stick to mine, its my day after all !

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Terror as i know it.

Ironically, This weekend ended with a blast. My friends and I partied hard on Friday night, till dawn at 'Elevate', a popular night club with the all too popular DJ Nikhil Chinnapa keeping us on our toes with electrifying techno music... on Saturday , we were mixing business with pleasure, a market survey assignment in the plaza..... then came the blast part... 5 bomb blasts occured in busy shopping areas in different parts of Delhi, 30 people dead many more injured...

This is just my 3rd month in Delhi, down south in good ol' Chennai, there were no bombs, except crackers on Diwali...i used to complain bout the noise, now i think it was heaven. No body's venturing out today, the city is on red alert. I am hibernating too, holed in my room i feel safe but uneasy.  

What forces these individuals to do this, Imagine the hate in their systems, that they do not feel any sense of love and brotherhood, how frustrated their lives should be, or rather , how frustrated their emotions should be, God!

Frustration, not only the attackers, but the political system that's supposed to make decisions is frustrated, reading investigations about the attacks leaves one with an increasing disenchantment with the way this country is being run, it just seems to me like one big noisy circus, a free for all, no system or order,  this reflects the way the same bomb blasts keep happenning year after year, its almost like a ritual tradition for the terrorists, we fire crackers during festive seaon, they do the same...

Where is the freedom when you are too scared to go out into a market, the terrorists succeed in continuing the hate when they instil fear, "where there is fear , there is no love"

Yet, the christian in me tells me to forgive, "God , forgive them , for they know not what they are doing" werent these Christ's words while being crucified on the cross? If i dont forgive them, if we dont forgive, it just becomes a vicious cycle, the killing continues, its a tough ask that may not make sense but its the right choice.

And besides, it would be the more sane choice not to be afraid, to be afraid would only make us weak... I have a friend whom i turn to in these moments of fear in me, a friend who shares the love of Christ selflessly, when i heard these words from her, it gave me strength and hope, i hope it makes sense to you too:

"Have i not commanded you to be strong and courageous, God will be with you wherever you go'- Joshua 1:9

If we have faith, no weapon made against us will prosper.

"Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is."--- German Proverb

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Independent in the Capital

"Capital Independence!" I like to call it!...not just because its my first independence day in Delhi, but also its the first time I find myself staying away from home on independence day. My memories consist mostly of speeches during school parade, flag hoisting, watching celebrations on tv , even long back and a long distance away in Africa when I would wake up early with my ex-navy father to watch the flag hoisting on Doordarshan...yeah, we get it in Uganda too!

Yet, why do I feel strangely uneasy about the actual independent India i am in, is it because we've been fed on ideoligies that are long dead and gone?...the freedom struggle, silent resistance, equality for all???

As much as I should be feeling over awed to finally be in my beloved country's capital, it is ironic that, the hypocrisy of the term independent India hits me hard more so when I am here. Why is the caste divide so evident even in the Capital of my magnificent country, why do some people stick to menial jobs for generations, why do some people think they are too evolved to smile at the common folk?

August 15th was spent mostly indoors, with the blasts in Surat and Ahmedabad, most people preferred the safe , hazy hallucination of their tv sets inside locked doors.

With freedom comes responsibilty, well said, but hardly practiced, this independence day, i took a walk in the evening, from my room through the nearby deer park and around Hauz Khas village.

As I stepped out, it was amazing to see the tri-colored kites dotting the sky, I was happy....but that was shortlived, I soon happened upon a common sight in our streets, a human scavenger, next to a garbage bin, he looked like he had found the days meal. I could'nt help but feel a pang of guilt,I looked down at my nike sneakers... and tried to justify it ..."survival of the fittest..devan"...I said to myself...sure, I know, the argument goes that our government has more than enough schemes for the underpreveliged, we have ways of helping them, sure.

But, my mind wandered... I happened on a newstand, a state minister was on the covers, apparently, she requires a neighbourhood golf course as a helipad....hmm....wonder if the people who vote for such politicians are to blame more than the politicians themselves...disinterested and now feeling slightly less euphoric about my new found independence... I decided to go into the naked ruins of the Hauz Khas fort, probably antiquity and the surrounding nature would surely cure my increasing disenchantment.

Walking through the deer park, it was great to see the magnificent males with branching antlers walk without a care as meek females gracefully roamed with a few playful fawns jumping about..., no politics, no poverty, no discrimination, in the animal world, there is an invisible sense of togetherness, of community...I picked up a bunch of grass and passed it through the wire fence to a more friendly young deer, he was hesitant but eventually took the leaves and munched he turned for more, the barbed wire grazed his nose and he lept away , the fencing around the deer enclosure was now more evident to me, such graceful animals, surviving ...but in captivity...I walked on..

The ruins of the forts in Delhi are always time warping, they take me to another world, where lines from William Dalrymple's "The last Mughal" come alive, I imagine servants hurrying about, serving elegant princes getting ready for a hunting expedition, walking through the maze of massive brick walls and dark corridors alone takes you into another dimension...turning a corner, I bumped into an embarrassed couple, unable to withhold the taste of un-supervised togetherness,after all, stolen kisses are the sweetest they say...independent India, the nation was busy indeed today...

Outside , in the park surrounding the huge "royal tank" built by Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316) who excavated a large water body here for the use of the inhabitants of Siri, the nature was comforting, till i saw a little boy, selling sweets...probably a school holiday for him today I thought...I hoped....

I could see a broken kite next to him, with the tri-colors on it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Race

"The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us—that’s where it’s at."-Jesse Owens, winner 4 Olympic Gold Medals, Track & Field, 1936 Summer Olympics

I always loved running...running from when I was a kid growin up and later ran as much as I could in school athletic events. Strange as it may sound, running taught me a lot about life...determination, self belief, perseverence, team serves as a metaphor that relates to needs to keep going, win the race?...or just know that you ran the race...doing the best you could...I wrote this long back , probably 6 years back after one of the school athletic events:

The Race.

The warm metal feels good in your hand...As you sit exhausted on the stadium bench, next to the track you just traced with your pace, looking down on the reward of days of training, waking at 5am , running around the neighbourhood block, people thinking you're slightly crazy.

A drop of sweat trickled down my nose and fell on the medal, magnifying the word "HOPE" in the school motto. What made me run like that? Even I dint know, a final burst along the last lap had landed me the silver.

On the track, my legs corresponded like the wheels of a speed train,hair flying back, the ground whizzes past in your field of vision like the view from the cockpit during takeoff.

Yes, theres the pain, oh yes the pain! After collapsing from complete lactic acid accumulation , but I love this pain, I love the pain as my leg muscles burn, radiating to the thighs, your feet feel like lead mortar. I love the heat , sweat and the unbearable bursting sensation in my lungs as if they are going to explode from within you.

Yet, I dont want this pain to stop, though I let out a groan.

The sweaty piece of metal biscuit in your hand is the prize, with fake "silver" paint already melting in the scorching sun. I think to myself "mission accomplished"...but I know its the race i ran that I love and just then the team captain comes over..."Ready for the 400 metre relay Devan?"......" Anytime captain, anytime".

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Most Beautiful Spot on Earth!

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."
                                                                                                - Lao Tzu

   As much as I wouldnt like this post to sound like a tour promotion of some sort!!.. I cant but help gushing praise and wax eloquent on this piece of earth not only because its impossible not to fall in love with it, but also, it is part of my home! The few pictures that my stubborn internet connection allows me to upload here are but an indication of the different hues that God creates in this little jewel of a spot.
   Situated in my home town of Paravur in Kollam district of Kerala, the Kapil beach is found nestled along a marine drive on the way to Varkala town which is a tourist haven 15 mins away...but unlike Varkala, Kapil beach is unexplored as a tourist commercial oppurtunity(which is good in a way that it preserves its natural beauty)...and in this idyllic place, we find ourselves filled with a yearning to linger, where time stands still and beauty overwhelms. 

  Lagoon ahoy!: What makes this spot really unique is that kapil beach is part of a strip of land that stretches into the Arabian sea thus forming a lagoon, entrapping a crystal clear lake (Paravur lake) on one side of the strip and the beach on the other side! 
  During low tide, as kids, we would splash about while our worried parents surveyed us with hawk eyes making sure we were safe.. and during some seasons of high tide, the sea and lake actually come together and "shake hands" as we would say as kids...but truly is also a remarkable experience standing in between as you see the sea and lake swirl around you!
 In this view of the Paravur lake, you can see the beach on the left corner and the lake on the right, the bridge you see in the distance leads to Varkala:

 Another view of the Paravur lake:

  Natures fury: However, the spot is not exactly safe as the tides at the Kapil beach are very powerful and even the most sea hardy fishermen do not swim here especially during high tide, this may be one of the reasons, the Kapil beach is not exploited for tourism like Varkala beach which is relatively calmer with shallow beaches and a its limestone cliff. The marine drive is lined by huge boulders as a measure by the goverment to stop the furious waves washing into the road which is important to the connectivity of Paravur, but every time i re-visit, i get this ominous feeling like the sea is slowly intruding by a few feet, and she doesnt seem to be receding, so who knows, if generations to come will share the same memories i do...

In this picture, you can see the boulders lining the strip separating the lake and the sea:

The view from the side of the lake, you can see the land in between and then the sea in the background:

Memories: Besides being a beautiful visual landscape, the beach holds special place of heart for me (and obviously all Paravur residents) as it would be the first beach i've ever stepped foot on, and hold many childhood memories as going to the Kapil beach was one of our main agendas during the school vacations growing up and still is whenever we visit home! Its places like this that inspire one to say "home is where the heart is"

Me in Contemplation after a jog along the beach:

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Triumph of Death


No longer mourn for me when I am gone
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world, that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms do dwell;

Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.

O! If, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But, let your love even with my life decay;

Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.


This has been a long time in coming, as much as I have wanted to write on the platform of the internet, admittedly I have never had the patience to actually do so and I must say its admirable the way bloggers expound their passion for the medium. Maybe it was a knock-out blow dealt by a recent bout with chickenpox that found in me the time to look within and without, ponder and reminiscent into this that you read…

It may be the early confrontation I have had with death in my life that leaves me with so many questions , yet they cannot be avoided, like a river churning in your heart, ready to explode in any moment of silence into tears …that must be put out there…not able to contain anymore…

“Did death begin my life?...Why my life? Only mine?...Why her?!....

It is ironic that my first blog be about death, death is associated with ending, degeneration, collapse…yet does it have to mean this? Why is it called one of the greatest mysteries of life? If the answers were ready dear reader, we would be on a different paranormal plane…the closest I have come to understanding some of it has been in reading “Life after death – The burden of proof” by Deepak Chopra, an author who inspirationally combines ancient tradition wisdom with path breaking scientific explanations to answer many of life’s searching questions.

“Whatever it is that occurs at death, I believe it deserves to be called a miracle,” he explains. “The miracle, ironically, is that we don’t die.”

And life’s ultimate purpose, he adds, “is to discover who you are. After death, we see more clearly the goals to be attained.

Chopra sees the soul as a process, not a thing: “It is a continuum. It is a dynamic, constantly evolving bundle of consciousness.”

He concludes: “The human spirit is degraded when we confine ourselves to the span of a lifetime and the enclosure of a physical body. We are mind and spirit first, and that places our home beyond the stars.”

One may wonder at why I am smitten by such a terrible fellow as Yama, the Lord of death, but isn’t it part of life just like genesis and growth? may be the inability to grow out of an early fateful incident, it may be a continuous state of mourning that I am not able to break away from? may be all of it.

So, despite Shakespeare’s best of advise in the poem “The Triumph of Death”;
(“…Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But, let your love even with my life decay;

Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone...”)

She is a part of me not in this world but beyond and though I am told to forget, how can I, for Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose…and we may not share days together anymore, but the special moments that we shared will last forever… one a friend, one more than a friend, their lose in me, nothing will ever mend.

She strides on,
Drifting left, to right,
Always fumbling, always crumbling,
Away from disapproval.
She strides on,
Backing up, dashing forward,
Nearly losing, nearly dying,
Away from destruction.
She strides on,
Lifting high, digging deep,
Maybe seeing, maybe living,
Away from uncertainty.
She strides on,
Never returning, never stopping,
Away to a better place.