Peaks

Posted on 09 Nov 2017 under Random

Up here, it feels like another world, disconnected from the reality to which I belong. I’ve left behind the beeps and screens, the heat and noise and chatter, the rush and push. Here, I feel my lungs absorb that cold mountain air, rejuvenated and overjoyed.

How I welcome the warmth of the sun’s direct rays. From this height, I see them reach the floor of the valley below, like the fingers of heaven reaching down to earth, holding its hand and blessing our world.

The silence here is broken only by the whisper of the breeze. I can hear my thoughts, in the privacy that this open space gives so generously. Ponderous questions arise. Must I return to where I belong, or can I stay here, where the wild wind blows.

 

Tandem

Posted on 06 Nov 2017 under Asides

Listen to the music that the wind creates by ferociously turning the pages of an open book.

Love.

Posted on 11 Oct 2017 under Journal/Life Updates

Someday, I might be old. I might be alone, shuffling through life, having forgotten joy and companionship. I might begin to lose my mind and my memory. But if there’s one thing I wish would persevere, it’s my hearing, so I may listen to music and remember what it was to love.

Book Review: Harappa (Curse of the Blood River) by Vineet Bajpai

Posted on 06 Sep 2017 under Essays

This Book Review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Book Promotions. To know more, log on to http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/

That India and its ancient heritage can provide a wondrous background for a mythological tale should not be in doubt. Veritably, so many others have tried to do just that – Amish and Ashwin Sanghi come to mind immediately. So, in the sea of books based on ancient India, is Vineet Bajpai’s Harappa: Curse of the Blood River India’s answer to The Da Vinci Code?

Uh … no. No, it’s not. But not for a lack of trying.

Bajpai must be commended for writing a tale that keeps you hooked from page one. The plot is interesting, the pace is satisfactorily quick, and the novel is short enough to keep you from getting bored before it ends. There are two (actually, three, but we’ll come to that in a bit) parallel storylines, one set in 1700 BC, the other in modern times, both of which echo each other.

A significant portion of the plot is exposed in the blurb on the back cover and in the summary on Amazon, which is a bit of a pity, because the book ends on an unfortunate cliffhanger that doesn’t answer the question that the prologue asks, i.e. how did Vivaswan Pujari alter the course of the bloody mighty river. In order to know the answer, you’ll have to wait for the sequel. Other than that, though, the plot is fairly straight-forward. The ancient storyline follows the fall of the Harappan demi-god, while the modern one charts the rise of the modern one. For some reason, there is a third plotline set in Goa in the 16th century, but it lasts exactly one chapter, and has absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever (maybe in the sequel?). A good editor should have culled this out. Plot twists are fairly predictable, and consequently the book feels more like it exists only to serve as exposition for the sequels.

However, there’s still plenty of action to prevent it from being boring. Vineet Bajpai is a good story-teller, and that’s evident from this book and the way its structured, though some events seemed to make little sense. There is a betrayal towards the end of the book, but it makes me wonder why the Judas of Harappa didn’t act sooner when better opportunities were undoubtedly available? There’s a vague answer that alludes to something that’s once again left to be discovered in the sequel.

The setting is a winner, particularly Harappa, which is described, quite successfully, as paradise city, where the society is civil, architecture is aeons ahead of its time, and the people are the model mankind should aspire to, both spiritually and physically. There are attempts at incorporating the most famous artefacts uncovered in excavations of the real-life Indus Valley Civilization (such as the statue of the girl, or the stamp) into the culture of ancient Harappa in Mr Bajpai’s universe. It doesn’t quite come of as convincingly as the conspirary-theory inspiring Da Vinci Code, but it’s a respectable attempt. Descriptions of modern-day Benaras are deferential and portray the town as the foremost shrine of spirituality and cosmic power of the world. On a few occasions, it almost feels like Bajpai is trying to appeal to the mass Hindu population base of modern India, but maybe that’s just the religious cynic in me.

The major letdown, however, arrives in the technical aspects of the writing. The characters seem a little unrealistic and over the top, particularly in the way they react. Vidyut (lead protagonist #1) can perhaps be forgiven for the way he’s described (the same can be said for Vivaswan Pujari, lead protagonist #2), because he is, after all, a demi-god in disguise. Yet, what annoyed me more is the common folks’. reaction to being around him. All the other characters seem to fit into stereotypes and tropes (for example, Balwanta, the warrior, apparently “didn’t know what a laugh was”). I cringe!

There is also a distinct lack of imagination as far as adjectives are concerned. “Lovingly” is used to describe everything, from the way the Harappans feel about the river Saraswati, to the way Indians call the river Ganga instead of Ganges. It grates a bit.

And finally, my third major gripe is that Mr Bajpai falls afoul of the golden rule of writing, i.e. “show, don’t tell”. This is manifested in a lot of narration and in unnatural dialogue. The latter is particularly conspicuous to a seasoned reader, because the dialogues have so many adjectives. Or maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s just being a nitpicky arse.

My last two reviews of Indian-authored books have decried the lack of attention to detail in editing, with various grammatical and spelling errors annoying me immensely. Thankfully, I’m glad to report that Bajpai and his editors have done a much better job. At the base of it, the literature holds up to scrutiny, although I will confess to not being an expert, but will also say that I did notice a couple of instances where the writing felt wrong.

In a nutshell, would I recommend this book? The answer is an unconvincing yes. I’d recommend it to those who can ignore the writing if the story is remotely interesting, and I’d recommend it because I like supporting Indian authors. It’s not a particularly lengthy book, so you can potentially buy it at the airport before your flight, and give it away to someone when you land.

On a scale of 1-5, I rate it 3/5.

Filling Up The Silence

Posted on 15 Aug 2017 under Journal/Life Updates

Recommended background music: Sun Araw – “Horse Steppin”

Most times, solitude is a blessing. I am a man in love with my own company, and would gladly enjoy it for extended stretches. Consequently, I am comfortable with long silences and with the only conversation being with the voices in my head.

But I do love music. I love it because it doesn’t merely fill up silences, but also because it has the power to demand your attention, to make conversation insignificant and unwanted, to put your thoughts on hold and just exist in this experience of sonic waves. It’s why I’ve always been more attracted to music than to songs, why I remember Hammett and Hetfield’s riffs, and not their lyrics, why some of my favourite music is instrumental. I’m drawn to the twinge of a guitar note, or to the harmony between two instruments playing with each other in perfect rhythm (or imperfect, to make it more interesting).

But every now and then, music does serve another purpose. To fill up the silence. Even if it’s an eleven minute track of repetition with vague instruments. Even in its utter simplicity, the least that any good music offers me is rhythm, a metronomic pattern is calming and feels like it brings order to life.

 

Moth

Posted on 28 Jun 2017 under Journal/Life Updates

I do so much of my writing on days when it rains that it’s almost a bloody cliché. Seriously, how many of my posts start with descriptions of the rain outside the window, or on the windscreen of the car as I drive at snail’s pace on the way to home or office (yuck).

I don’t want to say that the weather is my muse, because that’s an oversimplification. I don’t know what my muse is, I just know that sometimes I have to write. And today is one of those days.

I’ve struggled with the words, because it’s been a while. I’ve struggled with the words because I don’t know how to say the things I think, I don’t even understand some of these thoughts I’m trying to convert from abstraction to tangibility.

Vaguely, I feel the formation of a metaphor, something about how I’m most alive when the darkness of black clouds darkens the world. I’ve mostly lived in the shadows, emerging for a few hours at a time to sing and dance for the world, and then I retreat again. I barely invite anyone into my cozy private corner where I can ruminate about my scars and imperfections, obsess over them without interruption and grow despondent in peace.

Yet, you’ve changed me. You’ve infiltrated my world, you’ve cast a different light on the way I see myself and everyone else, you’ve changed the way I do things. I’ve done things I’d never have done had it not been for you. And I began to let you in. And the more I let you in, the more I lowered my guard, the more I set myself up for the eventual pain and heartbreak that always comes. And it’s not because of you, it’s because of me. And I let you in anyway.

I let you in so much that you’ve permeated my existence. Everything I do, I weigh up to you and your approval. I compare my mistakes to your near-perfection. All you need to remind me of the burden of my insecurities is to exist. And it isn’t bloody fair. To you. But it’s what it is. And you shine brighter than anyone I’ve met before. The light of your flame changes the way I see the world. But I’m a moth, and I don’t know if I can fly around your fire any more.

 

Some Old(ish?) music.

Posted on 15 Jun 2017 under Journal/Life Updates

Here are a few songs to remember your childhood:

Eye Opener

Posted on 18 Mar 2017 under Journal/Life Updates

Recommended background music – Dot Hacker – Eye Opener

In the darkness, it’s easier to see you, peeking out from the shadows of my memories. I let this music envelop me in its familiar embrace, lulling me into a sense of peaceful solitude. For 5 minutes and 24 seconds, the gently beating drum-beat, the lazy guitar, the vulnerable vocals, they make me feel like I am ready to fall apart, to cease to exist, to wither and crumble into dust, to float away like grains of sand carried away by a gentle breeze.

Does that secret handshake include me?
And you, are you a part of me?

You are.

The bridges I’ve burned lie behind me, warming my back with a sadly comforting glow that casts a shadow on the path ahead. Every step I take reminds me that I’m walking blind, and I’m not sure where I’m going or how to get there.

Yet, the darkness makes it easier to see you, lying there behind my eyes.

 

Late Night Disjointed Thoughts

Posted on 01 Feb 2017 under Random

The toll of midnight is but a few minutes away. The song loops on repeat. That stuttering, rhythmic beat goes well with the mood. We are barely out of winter, and already I feel summer creeping up, uninvited, sneaking in through the sweat I wake up in in the morning, in the warmth my thigh feels against my foot as I sit cross-legged in this bed, waiting for nothing to happen.

I look forward to the few hours of sleep.

Sleep … it’s like a lover with a  roofie. I look forward to the night, but the night goes by too soon, and when the morning arrives, I barely remember that I slept through the night, because it’s time to wake up, to get up and go to work, drive to the client’s office, take an interview or two, wishing I was somewhere else.

How nice it’d be to get away from everything. If I could find the courage to pack up and go, without telling anyone, to some place I’ve never been, find adventure or let it find me, find an answer (or a question), would I do it?

Maybe I’m not meant for it.

I used to think I’m insignificant and that the world will go existing after I’m done. With the events that have transpired globally, I wonder if I’ll outlive the world.

 

Expectations

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 under Journal/Life Updates

Quite some time back, I was told (or I read somewhere) that the best way to live your life is to have no expectations from life. Because the world owes you nothing. You did something nice for someone? Good for you, but that doesn’t mean something nice is going to happen to you in return. Perhaps everything that happens is a random act, and we get lucky (or unlucky) in what happens to us.

It’s horrible advice, because it’s no way to live. You trust your friends, you expect something (what a wonderful word that is … comes to the rescue of the average writer so frequently) from the people you love.

It’s also good advice, in a way. It means you’ll never be disappointed, because if you have zero expectations, the worst case scenario is that your expectations are met. Anything above that means your expectations have been exceeded.

But whatever kind of advice it is, it begs a question.

If I have no expectations from the world, then should the world have any expectations from me? If the world owes me nothing, then what do I owe the world? Why should I bother about anything? What difference will I make? More pertinently, what difference should I make?

I know this is a very cynical way of looking at things, and my intention with this post is in no way to encourage apathy and inaction. The world changes only because people care, and consequently, some of them act. Maybe, then, the only way to live is to expect. Yes, there will be the occasional disappointment, but c’est la vie.