Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Saturday bum

Well, I do not mean bum - the person, I mean bum - the personification. Like the sleeping beauty or the growing lust. Oh wait, that wasn't quite the correct example. Well, what I'm trying to arrive at is that this is as amazing a Saturday as you can hope to see, especially if you're in Ashburn, VA, & you have it all at your whim.

Things started off rather splendidly this morning over an Einstein brother's bagel. Spinach Florentine, for those of you who are sordid sticklers for detail. Wash that down with what seems like a gallon of coffee, & you have just the right amount of fidgety energy to take the longest route back home listening to Car Talk on NPR, as you meander your way through nameless trees turning fancy shades of red & its various hexadecimal variants on what is a spectacularly sunlit day with a light breeze blowing.

NPR, by the way, finished its Fall Campaign yesterday where they aimed at raising a million or so dollars from gullible suckers, though some of them are really rich, like me. Of course, I almost cried at their plea. I definitely sniffed audibly enough & contributed a mammoth sum of 5 dollars - striking a terrible balance between a troubled conscience & an empty pocket. Somehow, I don't think they announced my contribution on air, but I listen to NPR only when I'm in the car, & it is more than likely that I missed the announcement.

Well, it is still a beautiful Saturday. I wish you were here & we could go get some coffee. Or stroll through the rather deserted streets on this idyllic day. I'm feeling inspired today, & may do more in the way of contributing to a conversation than just staring.

Today is Mahanavami - pretty much the pinnacle of the Bengali cultural calendar which they celebrate by visiting more pooja-pandals than the assortment of Gods & Goddesses in Hinduism, in numbers for which we have no definitions. Of course, I'm talking about Calcutta. My wife, her mother, her brother & his wife, & my parents, being in Bangalore, lived it up by visiting about 4 of them & consuming sumptuous portions of "loochi-maangsho" thanking, I'm sure, the Goddess for her immense piety & supplies. Christ, as much as we all may be blessed by him - especially the socially backward castes in India - simply does not inspire the same hearty feeling of a household & hearth that Durga does with her four children & ten hands. My mum often says, without any of my own sacrilegious edge, that she cannot get us all that we want when we want because she is not ten-handed like the Goddess Durga.

Well, now all this blasphemy is in writing because I could not just tell you about it over a coffee or something.

It's all your bloody fault!

The motto

Do you remember the motto of your school? Well, you might if you think about it. For some reason, sitting here alone in the office on a gloomy & humid Friday, I started thinking back on my school days & finally landed upon the Wikipedia pages of my school. Exactly how I jumped from there to the the motto of Kendriya Vidyalayas, I've no clue. But I vividly recall the Hindi teacher in viith standard in distant Sambalpur, Orissa, explaining to a bunch of awkward, gawky sunburnt children (well, at least that's what the boys pretty much looked like) what the motto of the KVs meant. Here is the original Shloka:

"hiranmayena patrena

satyasyapihitam mukham

tat tvam pushann apavrinu

satya-dharmaya drishtaye"

As you may know, the motto part is just the third line. But it kind of distorts the context in which it makes more sense. This you can read here. I remember the teacher, a very humourous & knowledgeable gentleman who was absolutely against sparing the rod, put particular emphasis on "pushann" - the sustainer. He did so to underscore the importance of nurturing & nourishment in education & that this bringing out of inner talent (hiranmayena) is a rather slow process.

He went on to add that "dandaa maarke sar phodke pratibha bahar naheen aa saktee" though he hardly ever followed his own counsel.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back in the States

Well, I'm back like a counterfeit coin. Hardly two months between leaving the Dulles airport & rebounding back to it.

Coming to the Virginia's high-tech corridor time & again has reduced coming here to an absolute non-event. That's not necessarily a bad thing because that invariably implies how smoothly I can now work with the system here. Of course, the wide roads help & my mammoth Mitsubishi Gallant is a trifle challenging to steer after the Maruti Zen.

It is slightly chilly early in the morning. I did not really break into a sweat after a 30-minute run at 5:30 in the morning. Well, 5:30 not so much because I'm a hard running fanatic (which I'd like to be) but more on the lines of inability to sleep having crashed at 9:30 last night.

Plenty of time on my hands, a great opportunity to read all that I haven't read. And may be, just may be, drink a wheat beer. Or two.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Rescuing Bismil

One of my most enduring memories of watching Rang De Basanti is the incredibly powerful rendition of "Sarfaroshi Kee Tamanna" by Laxman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni). It was a poem written by Ramprasad Bismil. I have not been able to find these lines in the audio CDs of the movie though the other part of the same poem is rendered equally powerfully by Aamir Khan (this time with accompanying music) later in the movie. The entire poem can be found here. The wiki website has works of many other renowned persons of Hindi literature, for those of you who are interested. For my own sake, however, here are the lines that Kulkarni delivers in his throbbing baritone with his eyes turning rather emotively-looking-faraway as he gets through the poem:

sarfaroshi kee tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai
dekhna hai zor kitna baju-e-quatil mein hai

karta nahin kyoon doosra koochh baatcheet
dekhta hoon main jise woh chup teree mehfil mein hai

Ei shaheed-e-mulquo-millat main tere upar nisaar
ab teree himmat ka charcha gair kee mehfil mein hai

waqt aane de bata denge tujhe ei aasmaan
hum abhee se kya bataayein kya hamare dil mein hai

kheench kar laayee hai sabko qatl hone kee ummeed
aashiquon ka jamghat aaj koocha-e-quatil mein hai

#Aamir's rendition later in the movie

yoon khada maqtal mein quatil keh raha hai baar baar
kya tamanna-e-shahadat bhee kisi ke dil mein hai

- Ramprasad Bismil