Friday, March 12, 2010

The Contemplator

A picture is worth a thousand words, no doubt. But someone like Dostoevsky rises above such clichés and how -

"Only rarely did he speak. If at that time it had occurred to someone to ask, looking at him, what this fellow was interested in, and what was most often on his mind, it would really have been impossible to tell from looking at him. Yet he would sometimes stop in the house, or else in the yard or the street, fall into thought, and stand like that even for ten minutes. A physiognomist, studying him, would have said that his face showed neither thought nor reflection, but just some sort of of contemplation. The painter Kramskoy has a remarkable painting entitled The Contemplator. It depicts a forest in winter, and in the forest, standing all by himself on the road, in deepest solitude, a stray little peasant in a ragged caftan and bast shoes; he stands as if he were lost in thought, but he is not thinking, he is "contemplating" something. If you nudged him, he would give a start and look at you as if he had just woken up, but without understanding anything. It's true that he would come to himself at once, and yet, if he were asked what he had been thinking about while standing there, he would most likely not remember, but would most likely keep hidden away in himself the impression he had been under while contemplating. These impressions are dear to him, and he is most likely storing them up imperceptibly and even without realizing it -- why and what for, of course, he does not know either; perhaps suddenly, having stored up his impressions over many years, he will drop everything and wander off to Jerusalem to save his soul, or perhaps he will suddenly burn down his native village, or perhaps he will do both. There are plenty of contemplators among the people. Most likely Smerdyakov, too, was such a contemplator, and most likely he, too, was greedily storing up his impressions, almost without knowing why himself."

Monday, April 06, 2009


A reflecting rock (Meant both figuratively and literally)

Took it on a trail today in Anza Borrego Desert. Went there to see the wildflowers. Managed to click some snaps even though they are past their peak now -

Also spotted a red diamond Rattle snake on the return journey

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


A month ago - I was in Paris, wandering through the mazes of Louvre on Wednesday.

3 Wednesdays ago - In Goa. Buying lots of stuff for 'paach-paratavana'* in Mapusa market.

2 Wednesdays ago - In Delhi. Eating Papad Paratha in parathewali gali.

After coming back, getting used to routine and as another anonymous Wednesday - that day where the week is half full is about to go by; all those Wednesdays appear more distant than they actually are :(. The rate at which one gets back to routine and feels nothing about it is alarmingly amazing :).

[*Since there are no non-veg food items allowed in a Konkani wedding, there is a special meal arranged after 4-5 days which is mostly non-vegetarian. As the wedding was set in a small village, almost everyone staying there was invited. So we'd to buy stuff like half a sack of mussels, 4 huge Surmais (king mackerels) that cost around 5000 in total, 30 kg Chicken, X kg of various sabzis, 20 odd coconuts amongst other things. The food, cooked at home with neighbor's help was amazing.]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Metaphorical shadows

It is interesting how a certain metaphor can transcend cultural and physical boundaries. Granted that all the broad human emotions are the same world over and as a result, the recurrence of particular theme should not be surprising. [The lines written by William Blake - Every Night and every Morn, Some to Misery are Born; Every Morn and every Night, Some are Born to sweet delight and 'मुखी कुणाच्या पडते लोणी, कुणा मुखी अंगार' by Gadima talk of one concept in slightly different ways.] But when the same metaphor is used across different languages, the similarity is quite striking. (Does this also pose a question mark on the opening statement of Anna Karenina viz. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.?)

The recurring metaphor is for loneliness, no one but your shadow to accompany you.

1. Saaya hi apne saath tha, saaya hi apne saath hai - Jaane kahan gaye woh din
2. My shadow's the only one that walks beside me - Greenday
3. Gum ke maare pukare kise hum, hum se bichhada hamara hi saaya - Dil Apna aur preet parai

Of course, there could be many more such examples. No 'shadow' of a doubt there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

History repeating itself

Bindra wins gold. We are, of course, very proud of him.
At the same time, India is about to lose to Sri Lanka. The cricinfo live commentary is filled with user inputs demanding the sacking of 3/4th team.


Tomorrow, most of the editors will put these two things in perspective. In their editorials lamenting about the state of other sports in India. They will be happy with their clever observation, paradox etc. Readers will click their tongues, say Tchk Tchk or something to that effect. And agree in general about the whole thing over a cup of tea.


Olympic gets over on Aug 24th. After the brief euphoria, declaration of land/cash prizes and motor-parade home; most will switch to Champions Trophy starting in September.


Now replace Bindra by Seshan and Cricket by Corruption in above example. Continue the exercise. Draw conclusions. Comment and Lament. Feel as smug and as witty as the editors. Now you are free to forget and move on :).


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

An attraction named Mumbai

I waited for the question and it came, sprayed with the requisite dash of wonderment. From India? Bombay, I said, and sat back smugly in my mind waiting for the Pavlovian effect that I knew this association with Shangri-La would awaken in the veins of young male Pakistanis who have never visited this burdened, heroic city except via their dreams and the 70 mm screen.

If I had said Mars or New York or London I would have lost my audience right away. But I had said Bombay. Bling Bling. Within minutes of being asked whether or not I had met various filmstars and being told that he was the proud owner of a bottle of Shah Rukh perfume, Fawad stuttered out a proposition. It wasn't a marriage proposal, but it was as suicidal. Would I join him, his cousins and friends in the stands to see for myself, first-hand, how much Pakistanis love Indians?

-- Nina Martyris from 'Cricketing Ties'

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What a day!

What a day for watching sports! India managing to end Australia's 16-0 streak once more. At the same time on the opposite coast, Federer winning a marathon 4.5 hour match against Tipsarevic despite not being at his best. Watching both the matches at the same time - one on laptop, another on TV was...great.

I just hope Chargers do an India and end the 17-0 streak of Patriots. That'd make a perfect weekend :)