Saturday, December 25, 2021

Funny Hindi poem on posting everything on Social Media

 Someone asked on Linkedin: Neki Kar Dariya mein daal, or Neki kar social par daal ? 

(Should you post your good deeds on social media?)

AND my head had to respond with a funny Hindi poem. Its a parody on a classic Hindi film song about the importance of humility and doing good deeds.

सजन रे post मत डालो 

खुदा के पास जाना है 

न FB है, न  Insta है,

वहाँ offline ही जाना है। 


तुम्हारे followers न्यारे 

यहीं रह जाएंगे सारे 

अकड़ किस बात की प्यारे 

ये सर फिर भी झुकाना है 


भला कीजे भला होगा, 

बुरा कीजे बुरा होगा 

Post लिख लिख के क्या होगा 

Account Memorial बनाना है 


लड़कपन Discord खोया

जवानी LI पर सोया 

बुढ़ापा देख कर रोया 

वही किस्सा पुराना है 

 This is the original song on which the parody rests: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR9ShQEdcgg


The Roman transcript: 

Sajan re post mat daalo,
khuda ke pas jaana hai,
na Fb hai na insta hai,
vahaan offline hi jaana hai.
Tumhaare followers nyaare,
yahin reh jayenge saare,
Akad kis bat ki pyaare
Ye sar phir bhi jhukana Hai
Bhala keeje bhala hoga,
Bura keeje bura hoga
Post likh likh ke kya hoga
Account Memorial banana hai
Ladakpan Discord khoya,
Jawani LI par soya
Budhaapa Dekh kar roya
Vahi kissa purana hai


Friday, December 24, 2021

Book Review: Two and a half rivers by Anirudh Kala



Usually, when one does not like a book, one keeps quiet. If very angry with the book for wasting time on it, one tends to give it a low rating on Amazon and maybe write a short negative review. 
But this book was bought from a curated book store and then read with dedication. 
Its a 3 hour read at a pithy 234 pages. 

The book has 4 sub plots - the terrorism in Punjab, The status of Dalits in Punjab, the business of Deras in Punjab, and clinical depression in medical professionals (the narrator). No wait, there is also that subplot about Shiv Sena and Maharasthra, the missionary activity in Punjab, and so on.. 

Perhaps the author thought that it would be very interesting to present the narrative through the eyes of the clinically depressed doctor who lives in the wilderness, while also subtly covering the doctor's own struggle with depression and while we are at it, lets also cover covert conversion by missionaries in the name of education, and lets throw in a little tirade on the tough life of the shrink during violent times.

As a reader, I simply don't have the kind of range that the author brings to the table. I like stories with focused characters, exploring those characters as fully as possible, especially if it is going to be a story about historically significant events and if those historically significant events are going to be interpreted, not merely referenced and documented. 

I could probably have lived with 2 parallel plots - the story of the 2 Dalit kids who have grown up together and what they have had to go through, and the story of how terrorism affected them. But the novel narrates terrorism through the eyes of the doctor, indicating only some key actions that are taken by Bheem and Shamsie because the political climate. 

What emerges for the reader is a mixed veg sabzi in which half boiled potatoes are thrown with overcooked mushrooms, barely cooked carrots, hastily mashed tomatoes, in a thick gravy of undercooked onions. 

And therefore, you are left with that feeling of not being able to immerse in anything completely. We cannot even fully understand Shamsie and Bheem - both intelligent and complex characters, because they do these guest appearences across chapters. Why? 
Why is Sidhu's character not explored more - he fits so well into the story and deserves to get more print space. There are so many unanswered questions about him - Jassi and Bheem can't be the only good singers in Punjab - why did he tag along with just these 2? What kind of band survives without a lead singer? Esp in the Punjab of the 1980s, where a singer and a comedian were core to the performance industry? How did he manage to subdue his love for Jassi? 

Just as you start to get into the world of Shamsee and Bheem, along comes doctor sahib with his depression and the weird things that are happening around him - the dead bodies floating on the river, the kidnapping by both sides, and so on. And as you are trying to understand this barely believable character, Poof! Like a magician, Enter Dr. Mustafa and his story. 

Oh wait, we also have to talk about dera owners and partition violence and regimentation at the dera.. why leave anything out? 

But perhaps the most irritating feature of the book is its series of competely one sided inferences about what was going on in Punjab, or the hardly fictionalised academic sounding but basically one sided view of the terror issue in Punjab.

The final violence in the book is both unnecessary and repugnant. It contributes nothing to the climax of the plot, and is perhaps the most irrelevant, useless climax events I have ever read in a book. 

This book should have gone into the furnace of a sharp editor and been reworked a fair bit before being released. 

Perhaps the author targeted breadth, perhaps the author wanted to share a one sided view of history, in which it is mentioned that 8000 men will not return home because of police brutality, but does not mention the number of people who lost their young boys, earning men, and livelihoods to the Boys, as he calls them. None of those approaches worked for me, as a reader. 

He tries to bring out the negatives in the work of the Boys, but through the soft padding of anecdotes, unlike the hard numbers that he uses to showcase the police side. He also completely forgets to mention the sleepless nights that police personnel had to spend in this business of vigils and verifications. Unexpected deaths were all over. Policemen, too, left home after waving Bye to their school going children, and never came back again. 

I would give this book a miss, and a wide berth. A book that evidently is a fruit of labour, but kind of lacks both taste and flavour. 





 





Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Is physical the only dimension of being - Meditation Chat

This came to me in the temple at Sikkim, and i was asked to write this down. 

For a few weeks now, I have wondered: 

A. Is length, breadth, depth the only way to measure dimensions of existence? What if physical was only one of the dimensions of existence, and when we zoom out, we see how our existence really looks in a larger field? "Our" means everything and everyone. 

B. Many ppl today tend to believe that the spiritual process and spiritual growth is superlative to, or more important than the accumulation of wealth and material benefits. A lot of people, of course, believe the exact opposite. Is there really a hierarchy to achievement? Is one kind of achievement more important than the other? Does one kind take us closer to Nirvana? 

And here is the answer that came at the temple. 

1. There are at least 3 dimensions of existence, and they are not l,b,h. They are the physical plane, the intellectual (चेतन) , and the spiritual. We call them in Hindi - शारीरिक, बौद्धिक/ चैतन्य, आध्यात्मिक। 

2. No dimension is more or less important than any other. They come together to form the entity at all times. Spiritual  attainment will not take you close to Nirvana until you have experienced all that your senses are meant to experience and have understood through reasoning all that you need to work out and understand through your Chetana. Even Buddha needed to do penance before understanding that starvation is not the route to salvation. His Chetana needed to do that experiment and arrive at that conclusion. 

3. There are no non living things. Chetna and Bodh exist in all things, even if they appear non living to our current level of knowledge. 

4. We understand in the spirit dimension, we know in the chetan dimension, and we experience it in the physical dimension. For example, think of the concept of tripti (satisfaction). You feel thirsty and drink water. Nothing in the intellectual or spiritual domain can help you understand tripti like the simple act of being thirsty and drinking water. 

5. Our journeys are not linear, and they were never meant to be. As our body grows in all dimensions, so does our existence. Our journeys include the journeys of our loved ones and other entities that we interact with. We leave an imprint on them and they leave one on us. Think of it as a radial map. You are growing or shrinking in all dimensions at the same time. And sometimes, we just are. That is fine too. There is no growth imperative anywhere. 

6. A lot of shoulds melt. When you zoom out, you realise that "is" is the only verb that matters. The shoulds, coulds, woulds, would haves, they really mean nothing. They never did. Try to bind yourself to the shoulds that matter to you. Shoulds should be guiding lamps, not handcuffs. 



Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Children's poetry on expecting marks of exams

 दे दी मैंने परीक्षा 

अब फल आने वाले हैं 

सब गीता के उपदेश 

काम आने वाले हैं। 


कर्म कर दिया, फल न देखो 

फल पर कोई बस नहीं है 

आत्मा अमर है 

नंबर क्षणिक हैं 


कोटा फैक्ट्री की माफिक 

पार्टी तो होगी

या माहेश्वरी, या संजु भैया 

केवल पार्टी सत्य है 

सीट, नंबर, सब फ़ानी है। 

दुनिया आनी - जानी है... 

*In an Indian web series called Kota Factory, all the successful students (who get a seat in IIT) get a party at Maheshwari classes. All the unsuccessful students are invited to the house of a mentor and teacher - Sanju bhaiya, to party. 





Funny children's poetry for exams

कोई मुझको ये बतलाये 

परीक्षा का है क्या उपाय?


हर बच्चे को सताती है 

जीवन सूना कर जाती है! 


खाना, खेलना सब हराम 

केवल पढ़ते रहो जनाब! 


अंग्रेज़ी, हिन्दी, और भूगोल 

मेरे तो सब ही हैं गोल! 


विज्ञान से न है मेरा नाता 

न ही मुझको गणित है भाता 


दस सवाल पूछ के टीचर 

खुद को देव समझते हैं 

भूतों जैसी व्यवस्था है 

जिस में सारे रटते हैं! 


पर मैं भी हूँ सूपर स्मार्ट 

परीक्षा करना है इक आर्ट 


परीक्षा अग्नि सरीखी है 

ये बात माँ से सीखी है। 


जो आग घर जलाती है 

वह माँ का खाना पकाती है। 


जिस का तुम कर सकते वहन 

वह कैसे करे तुम्हारा दहन? 


थोड़ा पढ़ो, थोड़ा पढ़ाओ, 

मिल कर यह संकट निबटाओ। 


कुछ दिन की तो बात है प्यारे 

ग्रहण भी कुछ पल रहते सारे। 


दुनिया आनी- जानी है 

यह परीक्षा भी फ़ानी है। 












Monday, December 20, 2021

Dedicated to all my friends who write political poetry

हम कविता वाले लोग हैं, 

हम छंदों में बतियाते हैं 

मज़दूर का साथ निभाने को 

शब्दों के कुदाल उठाते हैं 

कंधे से कंधा मिल कर हम 

उसका भार उठाते हैं। 


भूखों से हमें विशेष लगाव 

शब्दों के कौर खिलाते हैं 

उनके नाम की कविता लिख कर 

पेट अपने भर पाते हैं 

हम कविता वाले लोग हैं 

हम छंदों में बतियाते हैं 


दायित्व कोई नहीं हमारा 

केवल अधिकार हमारे हैं

व्यंग्य हमारा साधन है,

बस खुद पर न सह पाते हैं 

हम  कविता वाले लोग हैं, 

हम छंदों में बतियाते हैं 


We are the people of poetry 

We speak in rhyme scheme

We pick our words to help him 

The mason on the street

We stand with him, shoulder to shoulder. 

And use our words to clean. 


We love the destitute the most 

We feed them our  verse 

And feed off their poverty, 

No one is any the worse. 


No responsibility, no sirree, 

Only rights we claim 

Satire is our specialty

But we are not fair game. 







Saturday, December 18, 2021

Book Review: Bodies from the Library 3

 If, like me, you love mystery and detective fiction, and have finished all mainstream authors, this book, and the entire series, is for you. 

The stories range from the innocent to the macabre, but the plots are all intelligent and the writing all superb. 

The book also has a rare find - the only known detective fiction story by William Collins, the scion of  Collins Publications. 

The Orange Plot mysteries are interesting - a single line of plot is shared, and 6 authors interpret it in their own way. My favourites in this series were He Stooped to Live and The Orange Kid. 

There are two long stories in the book. I liked Grand Guignol. A knotty problem was written in the form of a play and is best enjoyed like that. Too many characters for a 40 page story. 

Among the short stories, Hot Steel, The House of the Poplars, The Case of the Unlucky Airman, and The Riddle of the Black Spade are all interesting and stand out. To be fair, I have left the Poirot story out of comparison. It stands out in its brilliance. 

At 370 pages, this book is ideal for a couple of languid afternoons, or perhaps 2 flight journeys. 







Saturday, December 11, 2021

Short Story: The Sphinx

She was where she always was – metaphorically, and physically – next to a window, typing away skilfully on an old typewriter. No normal 36-year-old in 2021 would be typing on a typewriter. But normal was not an adjective that applied to her. It never had.

 It is hard to wonder, easy to ask. So, I had asked once, “Why do you use a computer for everything else, but write your important stuff on a typewriter?”

 “Because, my dear, the typewriter teaches you that there is no undo button. A thing our generation appears to have forgotten!”

Yes, she spoke like that too. Like an old English literature book or a Shashi Tharoor understudy. One could never tell whether she was saying something or reading out something her mind wrote first.

 I met her when she was a fiery, and equally abnormal, 29-year-old. At that time, the most abnormal thing about her was “29-and-not-married.”

It is the solemn duty of every 30-year-old man and woman to be married, or be doomed to eternal torture by all relatives, friends, and colleagues.

 Seven feisty years later, she was still as unmarried and as abnormal.

 But let’s start from the beginning. From when she was 29-and-not-married, and I’d just met her.

Like 80% of the men who met her, I fell in love with her in the first 10 minutes too. And like 90% of those men who fell for her, I wasted time in trying to woo her.

 Finally, after 8 weeks or so, she said, rather simply, over coffee, “You are an intelligent man. Give some credit to your intelligence and listen to your head.”

 That was that. As simply as that, she confirmed my eternal demotion to the friendzone. I also had the choice of Strangerland, but Friendzone was infinitely better, so I took that. Strangerland is also practically impossible when you are colleagues.

 Over the next few years, I saw that pattern repeat, over and over again. New colleagues, men who turned up at private parties thrown by colleagues, her friends, even client professionals. Her charm, it appeared, was incapable of missing a man.

 The worst of it was, she never tried to get any of this attention or affection. The nonchalance with which this affection was acknowledged, then turned down, was disconcerting to a friendzoned-reasonably-intelligent-ex-suitor, the wives of the men who made the passes, and the wannabe-partners-of-men-who-could-not-look-elsewhere.

One day, out of the blue, she disappeared. No, I mean, she really disappeared. A missing persons report was filed. The office was frantic, the office grapevine was frenetic.

 “Looks like someone kidnapped her.”

“Maybe she went to a strange place and committed suicide.”

“No, No, she has possibly run away.”

“Soo dramatic yaar. She got a great new job and just absconded. Now, focus on your work.”

 A week went by. Her family was informed. Her cousin came by. He stayed in her flat, keeping vigil.

 The CEO personally followed up with the Commissioner twice a day. “An employee of this company will not be abandoned. We will go to the end of the world to find her and to ensure her wellness.”

Very few of us could function in that week. The Health and Safety industry is very niche, very high paying, and very, very demanding. Safety audits are not conducted in airconditioned rooms by apprentices. They are conducted on field. Across industries, wherever physical work is involved, HSE audits are mandatory and are conducted by a small and specialised army of professionals who marry specialised skill with insane physical stamina.

After exactly 10 days, she walked into her own house. She was dressed in a saree and there were no marks of physical injury. Her cousin, who was trying to find a polite way to tell the police that he really doesn’t give a F^&* and would like to resume his normal life with HIS wife and HIS sweet daughter, was shocked out of his wits for a minute, I think.

I wasn’t there, but grapevine broadcast later that she had asked for a glass of water, sat on the sofa, drank the water. Then, she called up her parents and told them, simply, “Amma, I am home and safe.”

Then, she looked up at her cousin, and said, “Thank you. Your family probably awaits you.”

 After a week of this episode, she resumed work. The police had done their paperwork. The CEO’s email mentioned that she had “co-operated fully with the capable police force of our country” and “we were all relieved and glad to have her back with us.”

 What the CEO’s email did not mention was that she had been given complimentary therapy sessions, which she had accepted, and had gone to therapy, diligently, once a week. She was also put off field work for a while.

 Only one eccentricity was observed. The clients’ final reports (or anything important) were always typed on an old typewriter that she had bought with her own money. Never on the laptop.

 That was all. In all other respects, she moved on from the incident and went back to being the same person within a few months.

 Why am I saying all this today? Well, remember that opening line? She was typing on that typewriter of hers. I have just seen the content of that typing. It’s her resignation. After 12 years of being with the same organisation, she is leaving.

 

The thing is, HSE audits, like I mentioned, is not IT. The jobs are rather limited and people usually rotate and retire within the same 2-3 firms.

“Why are you leaving?” was the only thing I could blurt out.

 She just smiled. That is her most irritating feature. She smiles when she really means to say, “STFU or None of Your Business.” Or Both.

 After this, things moved fast. Everyone kept their calm, outwardly. Inside, we were all seething. For various reasons. No one could write reports as she could. No one could look at a building blueprint and point out structural vulnerabilities better than her. No one could audit a safety checklist and find a blind spot better than her. No one could take her place, personally, or professionally.

 In the final fortnight, the farewells started. Group farewells. Some individual dinners and teas. Finally, the friendzoned-reasonably-intelligent-ex-suitor plucked some courage and asked her to dinner, to say Goodbye.

 “If you hadn’t asked, I would have! How’s Tuesday night?”

 “But Tuesday is your last working day! The party will go on till late. Are you sure?”

 “The farewell will end at 6, and then I will have all the time in the evening to nurse my new-found loneliness. So, yes, I am sure, and I definitely want you to be the last colleague I speak to before leaving town on Wednesday.”

 So, I was special, after all! I was going to be the last person in office to say Goodbye to her!

 Tuesday night could not arrive too soon for me after that. Eventually, there it was, and there we were – at a nice little place, cosy, and definitely quiet. There was much to talk about.

 “Why am I the last person you are saying goodbye to?”

 “Because you are the only person to whom I said, ‘You are an intelligent person. Give credit to that intelligence.’ And because you will understand.”

 “Understand what?”

 “Why I had to do what I had to do.”

 “But I don’t understand. Why did you resign?”

 “That’s not what I meant when I said you will understand. Remember the 10 days that I was away, many years ago?”

 “Oh yes! None of us, not even the office grapevine, could figure out. What happened then?”

 “It doesn’t matter ya. But I had to close the loop. Ensuring everyone’s safety is part of my job, after all!” she winked.

 “Are you hinting at something?”

 “Not at all. I just told you all there is to know. And now, as a parting gift, I want you to have something. I painted this specially for you.”

 “What is it?”

 “A self-portrait.”

 “Yours?”

 She nodded, then smiled, then handed me that packet and with her eyes, gestured that I should open and see it.

 I did:


PS: This is my first ever short story that is not for children. 


 

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Chits

Master,  there are so many problems.  No one to trust.  No one to work with.  No one to even talk to.  Things are getting harder day by day. 

I'll tell you the solution.  But you won't do it. 

Is it very hard,  master?

It's very simple. 

Is it very expensive then?

Doesn't cost a penny. 

Very time consuming?

On the contrary,  it'll save you time. 

Then why will i not follow it master? Please tell me. 

Think hard, child. Its just 2 things. But you won't be able to do them. 

I will master.  Please tell them to me.

Ok. I'm writing them on this chit here.  See them when you're sure. 

On opening:
1. Trust and let go.
2. Love. Always.  Just. Love. 

But this is so simple. 

But child,  do you know when to use which chit?

Both together master.  Always.  Both. together.  

 I think, one of the blessings of this blog is that when the world disappoints you, yet again, you come here and read the old posts. One of them will tell you what you are feeling, and unable to say. 


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

More original one liners

 शादी की 25 वीं सागीरह पर लोगों को Grand Party नहीं, बहादुरी का पुरुस्कार मिलना चाहिए। 


Vendetta is not vindication.