Posted by: saket71 | March 13, 2013

Merita King

Okay so the title’s a play on words; an adulteration of the title of the famous short story by Alan Sillitoe but this blog was inspired by similar feelings to that of Sillitoe’s main character Colin.  In Sillitoe’s story, Colin uses long distance running as a way to cope with the borstal regime he is forced to endure after committing a crime and it helps him to focus his energy and determination in a positive direction.  It’s very similar to what writing does for me.

why I write

 

I haven’t made the best that I could of my life; let’s face it, who does?  I’ve had obstacles like everyone has and some of them have been pretty huge.  I’m autistic, which means I can’t communicate as effectively as most other people when in the physical presence of people.  It also means I don’t ‘get’ signals and can’t give them.  Let me explain…

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Posted by: saket71 | January 6, 2011

Stories Dancing around

The sounds of rain plays in the background. A capricious weather turns towards beauty. 

Silence pervades the senses like aromatic fumes coming out of a temple.

Dusk steps down, slowly like a newly-wed bride, as the night whispers into her ears with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

A beautiful, beautiful days ends and I could sense stories dancing around, playing in the muddy water on the street like little boys returning from the school.

Can I overcome this sense of bliss and write?

Posted by: saket71 | January 6, 2011

If Truth were to be Told

If Truth were to be Told.

Posted by: saket71 | December 27, 2010

End of the Year pondering-2010

Towards the end of the year, on the verge of a change on professional front and further with activities limited by the foggy days, which are quite routine year-end schedule in Delhi, spending slightly peaceful days. It seems as if a train is chugging in to the platform to rest, as the year 2010 draws to the end. I always love winters, with due apologies to those who would with justifiable reasons will be cursing me, waiting for their delayed flights in Delhi and London and elsewhere, for the picturesque landscape which transcends on the city. In spite of the chill, which makes the task of getting up in the morning and coming down the stairs to get the two packs of milk for my little fairy very unpleasant, there is some warmth in to it. And for some reason, the warmth increases further with the degree of limitation of resources at the disposal. There is surely a charming and captivating warmth in the company of a bonfire created on the roadside (reminds of the nights in the College, in the football ground next to the Hostel, where we would sit through the nights around the fire), even the thought of it make me feel warmer and younger. Now, however, post-marriage domestication almost absolute, though wife would disagree and feels there is a long way to go before I could even be considered decently domesticated; still my thoughts of warmth in the summers hold good as my little one snuggles on to me on the couch in front of the television, under the blanket on the foggy Sunday afternoon. She watches her favorite Cebeebies and I watch her, with affection, as she slowly slips into her dream world of Iggle Piggle and Upsie Daisy, with the lids of her beautiful, ever friendly eyes, drooping over the moving compass to my life, that her eyes have come to be.  I stay awake many times, looking at her face in sleep, with so much of serenity, wondering what she must be dreaming about, during her sleeps on the nights. Would she be dreaming about Mowgli, Baalu and other friends or about her Maa and Baba?

This year saw me renewing my commitment to be more of what I can be, with once again getting back into writing, self-publishing my collection of essays (If Truth were to be Told) on the subject. There is also a sense of melancholy as I sit on the curtains to the year 2010, as the past with my daughter has been so wonderfully full of love. Her words are getting more and more coherent with each passing day, losing the inherent slur. Very soon, she will move out to the schools, and then she will learn to speak more and more clearly with every improving vocabulary, till the day when she will speak with the grace of the Gods and clarity of thought of the men who have faced the life in all its glory and trauma, and stop speaking to the old man.  My selfishness wants to believe that I would always be relevant to her, my learning in life tells me it cannot be so.  She has to grown beyond herself and beyond me, so that with every generation, life grows forward and upward. I do love and cherish her today for what she is as she hangs on to my shoulder, gently tapping on my shoulders as I tap on hers, trying to comfort her and put her to sleep. I was of late, talking a very young friend of mine, about sometime back when he told me, faced with some bad results on career building adventure which is a part of a stage of life, he had contemplated ending the trauma by ending the life. I thought of it and said, which I truly believe is true that every thinking man contemplates suicide at least once in his life, how so ever, illogical it may seem in the hind sight. When I was asked if I would expect same for my daughter and would I be so forgiving? I could only answer truthfully, is the sad part of life is that we forget our own growing up when we look and evaluate our kids growing up. I briefly saw a show on the television regarding some parents who were extremely annoyed to the extent of disgust, with their kids behavior, who said they would never wish anyone else to have a daughter like their own. They said so with such conviction that I felt that the only thin line which separate them from those parents who reach newspaper headlines with things like honor killing, is that they belong to a different society. Then I was looking at my daughter who burst into tears as she was admonished by her mother for jumping around so much that she might have hurt herself. To escape her ire, she came to me; but then she was hungry and would not take the bottle of milk from me, she wanted it from her mother. I was amazed and wished grown-ups could learn to separate incidents from the individuals. There could be incidents perpetrated by individuals which could hurt you, which you would be well within your rights to approve or disapprove of, but it is important to not the distinction that it is the act not the individual which is being judged.The incident where she was admonished, she did not like it a bit, but that dislike does not touch her love for her mother, whose warmth and comfort she needed and wanted, while she held her bottle of milk to her mouth. I wish, as years roll by, I could learn this sagacity to separate incidents from individual, and incidents would never dictate my feelings towards my daughter when she grows up, and secondly, I hope, I would also remember my own growing up, however foggily, so that I never come around to judge her from a high pedestal. As the year rolls by, I am more and more painfully aware of the pace at which time moves,  of the looming future of what sociologists call the empty nest, and hope I could maintain my sanity through the trauma which that event beholds for every father, with calm and composure; this is the way it will be, for this is the way it ought to be. I wish, without struggling to embarrassment to be relevant to your life in the years to come, I sit silently as the northern star, looking affectionately over to you as a guide, content and happy to see you become grow and become more of what you are, through the darkest of your night, as I wish you, my child a very happy new year, the third one that we welcome together. My eyes go moist as I write this but let this not weight your flight down as I want you to soar to the heights of human glory, in intellect and love, and hope my own knowledge will be able to inject enough strength into your wing to  stand the toughest of the weathers and wildest of the winds.

Posted by: saket71 | December 27, 2010

Book Review- The Summing Up- W. Somerset Maugham

Is it not amazing that precisely at the time when you start believing in the childish notion of knowing all there is to know, like a bolt from the sky, awakening descends on you, as you suddenly find yourself, ignorant, devoid of any knowledge. The good part is that this revelation is not particularly embarrassing or demeaning, rather you feel elevated and enlightened with the understanding of your own smallness. Reading “The Summing Up” by W. Somerset Maugham was one such moment of revelation. I am just through with getting my book of philosophical essays published, and while I would take all the praise which would come from friends with a pinch of salt and sincere humility, a little strike of wickedness, allowed me to secretly feel happy with the praise. But that was till I came across this book, which once I picked up and finished reading, left me dwarfed and happy at the same time, in the backdrop of the greatness of the author. The book is autobiographical in nature, although, Maugham in the book itself, waves off any suggestion of auto-biographic nature as he starts the book with the statement “this is not an autobiography nor is it a book of recollections. So there are no controversial chapters, with people casting aspersions on the truthfulness of the accounts, but the author more than makes up for the juicy gossips, with a rare sincerity and razor-sharp honesty as he with disarming simplicity says ” I have no desire to lay bare my heart, and I put limits to the intimacy that I wish the reader to enter upon with me. and says “There are matters on which I am content to maintain my privacy”. Here is a writer who seems to be supremely confident in the quality of his writing to be strong enough to arouse enough interest in the readers, without leaning on the “Juicier chapter and racy content” to bind the interest. Although he does demonstrate a degree of disenchantment as he says “Everything I say is merely an opinion of my own.The reader can take it or leave it” or when he says “I do not much care if people agree with me. Of course I think I am right, Otherwise I should not think as I do, and they are wrong, but it does not offend me that they should be wrong. Nor does it greatly disturb me to discover that my judgement is at variance with that of the majority.” Despite the disclaimers to its autobiographical nature that Maugham has spread through the book, there is no denying that the book is absolutely autobiographical in nature although it stays confined to the limited area of author’s life that is the part which deals with him as a professional writer. Although the book briefly touches upon Maugham’s childhood and ancestry, it essentially examines the impact it might or might not have on his writing skills and style.  The effort that the author makes to keep the book simple and honest are mighty obvious, still the depth of Maugham in terms of literature results in gems entailing profound life truths slipping through fingers, and noticeable all across the book like “There is only one thing about which I am certain, and this is that there is very little about which one can be certain” or ” Perfection has one great defect, it is apt to be dull.” or when he says ” Most people have a furious itch to talk about themselves and are restrained only by discinclination of others to listen.” “You can get a great deal of entertainment out of tedious people if you keep your head. “The Value of culture is its effect on character. It avails nothing unless it ennobles and strengthens.” is one such jewel, towards the last few chapter as he dwells on his interest in writings of philosophers like Kant and Neitzsche, the book moves to a completely different plane as he ponders over intricate and complex subjects like the meaning of life and comes with great statements like “I was taught that we lived in the presence of God and that the chief business of man was to save his soul.” But apart from the profound truths which the author cleverly hides in the fabric of the book, it is his struggles in being a writer which makes the book a great read for anyone who seriously wants to take writing as a profession. As he speaks about multiple iterations he put his work through to get the right word and structure, his efforts to enhance the vocabulary, and his deep interest in reading as a way to enhance and improve on his own writings, is something, which makes me believe, that if I were the person finalizing the curriculum for creative writing, I should seriously make this book a mandatory reading. And above all, summing up, which it opens your eyes to the fact that writing is not a profession of idle men (and women), it needs a great degree of devotion and commitment to be a decent writer, and in the process, as Maugham would do with his novels like “Of Human Bondage” he secretly passes the keys to be better human being in your hands, without your realizing it, unless you are watchful enough.

Posted by: saket71 | November 1, 2010

Suddenly, a business requirement takes me to Chennai, so here I am in the Radisson at Chennai, writing this blog. This is my third visit to the southern most part of India, if I do not take into account the initial one and half years of my life which I spent in Chennai, Tamil being the first language that I came to speak. In all the three visits, I have not seen any place in this city, mostly pretty humid in all weathers, except for the Hotel and airport and the customer location which I visit. What makes me write this blog, is the book which I picked on the way, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, to replace the earlier pocketbook version which I lost on the way to Mumbai. The book is more like a blog, a very private space, where one sits calmly and talks aloud to oneself without the fear of anybody assuming the one to be a lunatic.

This book is much deeper and comprehensive then the pocket book edition that I had, and I am not yet past the introduction and preface. What it essentially talks of is the importance of looking deeply into what we go through in a sleepwalker’s mindset which we call life. And deeper did I start to think. Thought went back to my sweet, pink daughter, who was sleeping with such a serene expression, with a mild hint of a smile on her small, sweet lips when I left the home. She was probably dreaming something of Jumbo, her favorite animation movie, or the story which she has heard so many times of “Happy Daisy” adapted to her taste by calling it “Happy Nonu”, blissfully unaware that she would not find her father absent when she wakes up in the evening. What brings absolute love and an inadvertent smile of comfort to my face is the knowledge that she will not hold it against me, when I reach back home tomorrow and she welcomes me with one step, jumping kind of dance. That is the brilliance of youth. I am not very sure, if she does not hold anything due to shorter memory or due to better understanding. I remember, How annoyed my parents would be when I am kept away from home even for work. That in spite of the fact that however late I would reach home, I will serve food to them and have food with them and spend at least two hours with them, no matter how tired I was and how late I arrived home.

I like to believe it is about the understanding that my daughter has. I like to believe that she understands the ephemeral nature of life, much better than most of the older people. She understands, that when someone is aways from you, or has been momentarily annoying to you; when the things change, when the one who was gone is back, and when who was unkind in the morning is kinder in the evening. Why should I waste the moments of goodness, carrying forward the pain, disgust and sadness from the moments of melancholy? The little child understands it better then us adults, than to allow the pain from the past to linger into the present and by implication, into future.

 

Posted by: saket71 | May 30, 2010

Casualties of Time- Bhopal Visit

The week ended with a trip to Bhopal, astonishingly beautiful capital city the heart of India. I was there on a business trip, went there with a lot of apprehension, not very sure of the outcome of the visit. I have found it time and again that no matter what the odds are, a face to face meeting always yields some thing positive (even if it be a learning on how to handle obnoxious people and a lesson in what not to be, which I constantly learn after every meeting with a particularly obnoxious gentleman at Pune). Met few particularly nice people in my customer’s office in Bhopal. The meetings were particularly on the nature and kind as one would expect in Madhya Pradesh. I could have been carrying a prejudice for the state, given that I did my engineering and then Masters there, but fortunately, this is one prejudice which has not let me down this far. I had been to Bhopal couple of occasions earlier, first as a young man, almost on the threshold of the journey called life, eager, impatient and a vision tinted with rose colored shades, full of dreams, second visit was when I was on the verge of completing my preparatory session for the battle laid out by life in front of me. First trip was for the engineering pre-enterance test. At that time I had stayed in a lodge right opposite the Bus stand in old Bhopal, in a crowded lane across the road. Coming from a sleepy village town in the hinterland of Guna, on the frontiers of infamous Chambal Terrain, known for Dacoits where milkman carrying a gun on the shoulder was a common sight. However, even with all those intimidating exteriors, it was a great simplicity in the people of that place, which made you trust them instantly. This time however, the stay was in Noor Us Sabah, on a small Hillock overlooking the lake, which people in Bhopal call Bada Talaab or bigger lake. I remember, on the second visit, I with my later to be wife had gone there on walk on a particularly beautiful day, with drizzle incessantly working its best to augment the already surreal view. The lake seemed to look at me with the way village elder looks at the young boy who comes back from a voyage as a man, asking me where my companion was. And I so much wanted the old lake to meet up with the newest addition to my life, my daughter. However, the day of business meetings wound up with meeting up with my classmates, now running there own businesses, managing their families. Still the back slap was as loving and as endearing as before. We three mid-aged men met once again like boys, struck in time. Still remember the time, when we would sit under the summer sun, over endless cups of tea, and looking at each other through the smoke screen created by the incessant smoking, mostly by me. The dreams were so young then, and reality of the day was mere world. There was a promising future waiting for us to leap into and very little of history for us to be sad about. How things have changed, as very quickly the horizon in front of us keep on getting dwarfed by the shadow that we have behind us.  Still it was a good sense, to be able to take a pause, and take account of the past. I really could see the wisdom in what people say is to have friends outside the professional circle. I should seriously believe that the speed with which life passes us by, it is very important for us to mark couple of hours every week or so for friends we knew before we got any designation attached to our respective names.

Posted by: saket71 | May 9, 2010

Books that maketh a man!

I have always believed in the romantic notion of what constituted courage and bravery, a thought which usually cam about to my thoughts as a violent notion, crazily mixed up with righteousness and patriotism and heroism. It was something which somewhere meant giving up on self in the interest of the larger good.

First came, “Arms and The Man” by Bernard Shaw in the backdrop of Serb-bulgarian war, as a part of school studies in pre-college classes. A brilliant piece, a revolutionary play which shook the fundamentals of what I always identified the truth and good and valor with the Chocolate cream soldier of a tongue twister as his name, Bluntschli, getting rescued by Raina Petkoff, who finds all her romantic notions challenged by the man, before eventually falling in love with him. Sergei Saranoff, the anti-thesis of the main protagonist, changes course somewhere mid way. This after he goes to the extent of challenging Bluntschli for a duel, and in the course of discussion which they have. About the time he faces his own love for Louka, the maid, throwing the societal jurisprudence out of window.  Looking at the pleas of CRPF men against Maoists in Dantewada, or those soldiers fighting intruders on western borders, one can not help but understand the point Luntschli makes as a mercenary soldier. What gives a man so much right over another man’s life, that the latter is reduced to being a pawn, a mere plaything in the hands of the former. Looking at the intelligence of our leaders today, I can not say Intellect.  Is it not simply the power to feed that is coming into play. Most soldiers come to the job as any other job, to feed selves and brethren, coming from lower strata of the society. Then pushed by Jingoist armchair thought leaders they are pushed to front into a war in which more often than not, they are mere instruments.  Only other book which I have found to be so emphatically pronounced in denouncing the wars and breaking the social mores was The Mahabharata, whether it was about the shattered heroism which sends pandavas away from kingdom after the great war, or the unblemished character of Karna as Soot putra ( son of a low caste charioteer), who renounces his biological mother from the most royal lineage for the one who adopted her. No other book in my knowledge has placed as much trust and value on the individual wisdom as this one.  Then came “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, which I initially left unread after struggling with some pages, till sometime, during my mid of engineering, I could summon enough courage to complete the finish the book for the first time. I have read it cover to cover so many times since then that I have lost count. Apart from the philosophy of objectivism which it carries as a central theme, what is absolute pleasure is the delicate love and affection with which the author has written every character and instance in the book. As you read the book, you seem to almost live through it with every ray of light falling on every wall explained with great dexterity.  While no one lives in as absolute a term as Howard Roark and non one can possibly, one can not but admire the logic behind a way of life driven by objective rationale.  What sealed my path on which Ms. Rand set me was “Thus spoke Zarusthustra” by Neitzsche, and what had cushioned me against the hard hitting ideas of ” The Fountainhead” and “We the Living” was Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” a great semi-autobiographical philosohical work by a great writer.

Posted by: saket71 | April 30, 2010

Writer’s Book- The Summing Up- W. Somerset Maugham

Is it not amazing that precisely at the time when you start believing in the childish notion of knowing all there is to know, like a bolt from the sky, awakening descends on you, as you suddenly find yourself, ignorant, devoid of any knowledge. The good part is that this revelation is not particularly embarrassing or demeaning, rather you feel elevated and enlightened with the understanding of your own smallness. Reading “The Summing Up” by W. Somerset Maugham was one such moment of revelation. I am just through with getting my book of philosophical essays published, and while I would take all the praise which would come from friends with a pinch of salt and sincere humility, a little strike of wickedness, allowed me to secretly feel happy with the praise. But that was till I came across this book, which once I picked up and finished reading, left me dwarfed and happy at the same time, in the backdrop of the greatness of the author. The book is autobiographical in nature, although, Maugham in the book itself, waves off any suggestion of auto-biographic nature as he starts the book with the statement “this is not an autobiography nor is it a book of recollections. So there are no controversial chapters, with people casting aspersions on the truthfulness of the accounts, but the author more than makes up for the juicy gossips, with a rare sincerity and razor-sharp honesty as he with disarming simplicity says ” I have no desire to lay bare my heart, and I put limits to the intimacy that I wish the reader to enter upon with me. and says “There are matters on which I am content to maintain my privacy”. Here is a writer who seems to be supremely confident in the quality of his writing to be strong enough to arouse enough interest in the readers, without leaning on the “Juicier chapter and racy content” to bind the interest. Although he does demonstrate a degree of disenchantment as he says “Everything I say is merely an opinion of my own.The reader can take it or leave it” or when he says “I do not much care if people agree with me. Of course I think I am right, Otherwise I should not think as I do, and they are wrong, but it does not offend me that they should be wrong. Nor does it greatly disturb me to discover that my judgement is at variance with that of the majority.” Despite the disclaimers to its autobiographical nature that Maugham has spread through the book, there is no denying that the book is absolutely autobiographical in nature although it stays confined to the limited area of author’s life that is the part which deals with him as a professional writer. Although the book briefly touches upon Maugham’s childhood and ancestry, it essentially examines the impact it might or might not have on his writing skills and style.  The effort that the author makes to keep the book simple and honest are mighty obvious, still the depth of Maugham in terms of literature results in gems entailing profound life truths slipping through fingers, and noticeable all across the book like “There is only one thing about which I am certain, and this is that there is very little about which one can be certain” or ” Perfection has one great defect, it is apt to be dull.” or when he says ” Most people have a furious itch to talk about themselves and are restrained only by discinclination of others to listen.” “You can get a great deal of entertainment out of tedious people if you keep your head. “The Value of culture is its effect on character. It avails nothing unless it ennobles and strengthens.” is one such jewel, towards the last few chapter as he dwells on his interest in writings of philosophers like Kant and Neitzsche, the book moves to a completely different plane as he ponders over intricate and complex subjects like the meaning of life and comes with great statements like “I was taught that we lived in the presence of God and that the chief business of man was to save his soul.” But apart from the profound truths which the author cleverly hides in the fabric of the book, it is his struggles in being a writer which makes the book a great read for anyone who seriously wants to take writing as a profession. As he speaks about multiple iterations he put his work through to get the right word and structure, his efforts to enhance the vocabulary, and his deep interest in reading as a way to enhance and improve on his own writings, is something, which makes me believe, that if I were the person finalizing the curriculum for creative writing, I should seriously make this book a mandatory reading. And above all, summing up, which it opens your eyes to the fact that writing is not a profession of idle men (and women), it needs a great degree of devotion and commitment to be a decent writer, and in the process, as Maugham would do with his novels like “Of Human Bondage” he secretly passes the keys to be better human being in your hands, without your realizing it, unless you are watchful enough.

Posted by: saket71 | April 29, 2010

Do good guys finish first?

We are brought up to believe that good guys finish first. This we are taught even at the time when we do not even know what is Good, at times the person imparting the knowledge, herself (no gender bias here, just a matter of speech and fairness) is only vaguely aware of it. It takes too much of pain and too much of pondering to able to discover even a semblance of  what it could be and as the dying emperor says in the movie “The Gladiator” “you can only whisper it, anything more than a whisper and it is lost”  or something of the kind. He of course, was speaking of Rome, I borrow, with apology to refer to the sense of Good. In my understanding the initial lesson of goodness is built around niceness. Being nice, makes you likeable, thus keeps you safe. Parents, I trust keeping in view, the preservation of species, have been teaching lessons which will make their offsprings  social and sociable, since the cavemen days. We are taught this so often and with so much of seriousness that we start believing that this behavioral pattern that we are being tailored into is what being good is all about. We go through the life, believing these values passed from one generation to another, taking it as a gospel truth.  So much so that anytime we feel that following these values are not offering us the promised safety, are taking away any intrinsic choices, ambitions and desires to untimely burial, turning entire minutes and hours and days that we live, an ordeal that we push through, with a constant question of Why me? hanging over heads.  We all come across people in our lives who are not driven by their own well being, but rather by “Not well being” of those around them. They are the people who are so busy cutting other people’s lives that they stop growing. We come across those people, trying to extend the goodness, or rather niceness, that we have grown with believing to be goodness, hoping against hope to be able to win them over.  It does not happen, they hate you even more for your niceness and your growth.  As you grow bigger and better, they grow their claws, and then try to gain the advantage of numbers, invoking the same principles of brotherhood and camaraderie that you hitherto lived with. For you these words are life value, for them it is a weapon to hit on you, a bribe that they pay to other tribesman to gang up against you. They prompt the collective to keep on raising the bar for you and you spend your life running a race, which was never yours in the first place. At each turn of the track you keep on loosing, and the racetrack on which you inherently wanted to run, lies isolated. With the debris of the self-wreck which you make yourself into, beguiled by their clever game, you end up with a race, which you lose, in which you participated not out of choice but forced by others. They are the people who are most concerned with their comfort and they are the ones who will speak the word about being a team player most often. You might not necessarily win your own race, but at least you will have the satisfaction of having run a race, which was YOURS. My advise is to be as bonehead as possible in face of something which smells as a conspiracy to put you in a drama where your heart is not in it. You owe it to yourself to know where you stand and stick to that position, once discovered.

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