Thursday, 31 March 2011


"And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."

I stood watching the ocean with my toes digging into the moist sand. The waves crashed onto the shore a few feet away from where I was. The water sometimes came up and swirled around my ankles. As it flowed back, it took the sand from beneath my feet, disbalancing me slightly.

I stood watching the ocean carry on in the same way as it had been for millions of years.

I stood there watching the ocean as millions before me had done, and millions more would do.

I stood there watching the ocean and felt the melancholy of the world bear down on me. I heard the smash of broken dreams and unfulfilled promises. The wind that ruffled my hair brought with it the stench of dead ambition and the sigh of unlived moments. I felt the wings of flight fettered by the chains of habit. I saw the seething rage in the white billows in front of me. And I knew that the rage would forever be bottled up inside the hearts of men, burning them, tormenting them, destroying them inside, while they go on placidly with their lives on the outside. I felt stifled by the darkness of fear which threatens to draw out the life from everything that men hold dear. For a time, it left me broken. The defeat, the humiliation, the unfairness of it all. The overwhelming mediocrity of existence. The utter helplessness that came with being human. It made me cringe.

I stood there watching the ocean and was redeemed by the ancient wisdom of that unending stretch of water in front of me. The roaring waves echoed back my very words to me. Being human. That was what mattered. To have the power to choose. Choose to be bigger than what pulls down, to be greater than what opposes.In spite of all the despair, men will still forge on. What I had mistaken as useless rage is actually what keeps the wheels of the world moving. Moving to higher, better, stronger. Extraordinary rises from the ashes of mediocrity. Because the only time Man is mediocre, is when he has nothing to fight against. As long as the tussle is there between living and existence, so long mankind is great. It takes a man to feel the helplessness. And it requires of the same man to rise above it.
I was reminded of something I had read long back.  This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.” (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)

There may come a day when man will not rise up any more. When he forgets love, despair, anger and everything else that made him who he is throughout the ages. But that will not come to pass, as long as there is someone who stands there watching the ocean.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Across the sunset

This is something I snapped recently while on holiday with my family.

Somehow it reminds me of our lives : the journey across an endless space and
time, where we are merely tiny specks of existence. And yet, yet....the picture
would not be half as beautiful if the people in it did not exist.

And yes, it reminded me of this too:
"Row, row , row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily. merrily,
Life is but a dream."

We actually learn such beautiful philosophy as soon as we are able to lisp!

Location : Murudeshwara, Karnataka, India.

Soak in the serenity people. In the meantime, catch a smile and hold a heart.
Thank you.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Date a girl who reads

I found this as a post shared by my sister. Being myself a "girl who reads", I know each of the sentiments mentioned, and the post struck a chord in me.

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

Friday, 25 March 2011

Live in the Moment

My teacher told me this story once. I was a 14 year old back then, and the enormity of the message was, frankly speaking, lost on me at that point of time. I have seen a bit of this world (including its ugly side) since that fateful day, and somehow, the story has grown in significance within me.

"A Zen master was walking through a forest.

Suddenly, looking back, he saw a tiger stalking him. He ran for his life, as the tiger chased him through the jungle. He came to a cliff with the tiger hot on his heels. Finding no other way, he jumped off from the cliff.

While falling, he caught an overhanging strawberry bush and dangled from it, trying to figure out how to climb down, as the angry tiger was still there at the top of the cliff, and he could not hang on for ever.

Looking down, his last hope was dashed, as he saw another tiger almost waiting for him at the bottom of the cliff."

(At this point in the story, the teacher asked me "What do you think happened next?" My reply was, maybe he got the tigers to fight each other and escaped or something equally heroic like that. I was not prepared for what came next.My teacher smiled, and continued - )

"He picked a strawberry from the bush he was hanging on to for dear life, and he said, "Ah! What lovely strawberries!""

The story has more to it than what meets the eye at first glance.Think about it.In the meantime, catch a smile and hold a heart.Thank you.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Story People

It’s the story of survivors.

Those who fell in love. Those who fell in love and had their hearts broken. Who picked up the pieces and put them back together, so that they could fall in love again.

Those who repeated the aforesaid many a times .

Those who sang in the shower. Who saw colour in grey.

Those who built their world knowing it won’t last, but built it any way. Those who quietly started over when it all came crashing.

Those who did the small things which no one notices, but remembers when there’s no one to do them anymore.

Those who made the days a little brighter, unconsciously.

Those who believed in the good of the world, even though, deep down, they realised they might just be wrong. Who refused to think otherwise, even when proved otherwise.

Those who told you it was ok to cry. Who never wanted let you see their tears. Those who went through times when even tears were not enough.

Those who smelt the rain on parched soil. Those who dragged you out, sleepy eyed, to watch a sunrise. Who saw life as a beautiful, heart breaking orchestra. Yes, beautiful. Yes, heart breaking.

Those who never thought they were worth very much in the world. Who sent up a prayer every night, never asking for anything for themselves, except the courage to be good.

Those who played the fool. Along with a thousand other roles.

Those who never spoke of their loss. Who never gave a hint that deep inside, they were as lost as a little kid. 

Those who smiled when they saw a baby. Those who made everyone around them feel big.

Those who just did their job. Who never did anything great or stunning. Or get into the papers.  

Those who scorned at anything sentimental. Who got sentimental when you gave them a lollipop. Who got sentimental when you didn’t give them a lollipop, and had it yourself.

Those never an empty hand go un-held. Those who will leave a bigger legacy than the shiniest treasure, the legacy of an honest name.

Those who made this life worth living. Who proved it was worth, by living it themselves.

Its the story of everyone.

It’s the story of you.

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