Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines...

Photo by creativity+
( see image information below)
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Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
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Write, for example : "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."
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The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.
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Tonight I can write the saddest lines
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
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On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
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She loved me sometimes , and I loved her too.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?
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Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.
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To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul as dew to the pasture.
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What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.
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That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.
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As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.
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The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.
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I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her hearing.
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Another's. She will be another's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.
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I no longer love her, that's certain, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short , forgetting is so long.
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Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.
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Though this be the last pain she makes me suffer,
and these the last verses that I write for her.
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Pablo Neruda
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About the poet : Pablo Neruda ( July 12,1904 - September 23, 1973) was a Chilean writer and a communist leader. Neruda , who won Nobel Prize for literature in 1971, is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the 20th century.
This poem is one of my favorite poems of all times. It's absolutely moving and almost makes me cry everytime I read it. I read this comment on the poem - " Any single woman who can understand this poem and it's meaning; please marry me! ! " What a great poem..love, pain, joy and everything in between...." Which is what the poem is precisely about...love, pain, joy and everything in between .
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Resources:
[1] Read more about Pablo Neruda at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Neruda
[3] Listen to this lovely recitations of this moving poem by Andy Garcia at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXHPk-ctoYY

Image Information : This image is from http://flickr.com/photos/bestrated1/210012508/

The Argumentative Indian


"Prolixity is not alien to us in India. We are able to talk at some length. Krishna Menon's record of the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations (nine hours not-stop), established half a century ago ( when Menon was leading the Indian delegation), has not been equalled by anyone from anywhere. Other peaks of loquaciousness have been scaled by other Indian. We do like to speak."


So begins the first essay in this stimulating book by Amartya Sen on Indian Culture, History and Identity . Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998 for his work on welfare economics, famine, human development theory , the underlying mechanisms of poverty, and political liberalism. In this collection of essays, he dwells on various aspects on India - it's culture, heterodoxy so much ingrained in it's every aspect and it's impact on the basic texture of Indian society - on science, literature and politics. I specially liked the discussion on Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. One part where Ray talks about what to project as a director particularly struck a cord..its beautiful...read on...


"What should you put in your films? What can you leave out? Would you leave the city behind and go to the village where cows graze in the endless fields and the shepherd plays the flute? You can make a film here that would be pure and fresh and have the delicate rhythm of a boatman's song.
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Or would you rather go back in time - way back to the Epics, where the gods and the demons took sides in the great battle where brother killed brother and Lord Krishna revivified a desolate prince with the words of the Gita? One could do exciting things here, using the great mimetic tradition of the Kathakali, as the Japanese use their Noh and Kabuki.
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Or would your rather stay where you are, right in the present, in the heart of this monstrous, teeming, bewildering city, and try to orchestrate its dizzying contrasts of sight and sounds and milieu?"

Absolutely beautiful isn't it - a celebration of differences - old and new - the monstrous modern world driven by machines and humane everyday acts which keep us going forward- sights and sounds - of past and present, the urban and rural! As Sen beautifully brings out throughout his various discussions in the book - In our heterogeneity and in our openness lies our pride - A lesson important for us as citizens of whichever part of the world we are in and more importantly - as human beings.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A word is dead

words by Feuillu
( see image information below)
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A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say
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I say it just
Begins to live
That day
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Emily Dickinson
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Image Information: This Image is from http://flickr.com/photos/feuilllu/739173692/

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Book Review: Three Weeks with My Brother


I decided to read Nicolas Sparks "three weeks with my brother " - a memoir about his travels to several historical landmarks around the world with his elder brother Micah for two reasons. One, I had heard a lot about Nicholas Sparks and his wonderful work as an author. Second, due to my immense love for travel and knowing about new places and cultures. Two very good reasons to start the book indeed and I was very upbeat about reading it in days to come. Unfortunately, much to my dismay , the book is far ( read way way far) from justifying Nicholas Sparks image as a great author.

For starters, if you think you'd get to know much about the culture and history of landmarks like Machu Pichu in Peru , Ayers Rock in Australia , The Temples at Angkor Cambodia - which are some of the many places the Sparks brothers visit during course of their three week trip - then - well this not the book for you! What you can expect is a touch and go to these places with juvenile antics of Sparks brothers filled with disregard for local cultures of places they visit , their behaviour often edging on being plain crass .

First thing one should know as a traveler is to respect different people and cultures. Second, I believe a sense of curiosity is very important if one is to capitalize on any small or big opportunity to travel to any known or not so known place. What makes me so flabbergasted is the way , on more than one occasion, the Sparks brother mocks at places which have thousands years of history and tradition behind them. One doesn't expect them or any other traveler for that matter to be filled with utmost reverence for each and every place that they visit. But then expecting a little respect won't be asking for too much! Consider this :

On their first stop on the trip, the brothers visit Yaxhá and Tikal in Guatamala. Yaxhá is both the name of a lagoon and the site of a city built more that 1500 years ago. It was once the third largest city in the Mayan empire. Elder brother Sparks makes a heartfelt comment "I never believed I could get so excited about seeing a pile of dirt!" Subsequently, they visit Tikal - the hub of Mayan life - which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As the guide is discussing about the historical context of the site , elder brother Micah whispers " Have someone get a picture of me lying on the ( sacrificial) stone, while you pretend to stab me , wouldn't that be cool?" Younger brother Nicholas , seeing the enraged guide ( who happens to be a Mayan) tries to tell the big bro that the guide looked pretty mad, as did people running the tour." You'r insulting their culture !" to which elder brother replies simply that " Ah, they 'll get over it, They won't even remember it" .

At Ayer's rock in Australia - the largest single unit or monolith stone in the world, the guide is talking about aboriginals and their culture in which brother Micah is least interested. Younger brother Nicholas says " C'mon it's interesting . It's a culture we know nothing about!" to which Micah snaps "The reason we don't know anything about it because it's boring" . What does one say to a statement like that. It leaves me speechless to both sensitivity and sensibility of the speaker!

The conversations ( disheartening as they are to any reasonable person) speak much about brothers attitude towards other places they would soon visit.

These rather bland descriptions of some on the most intriguing places in the world are backdrop to authors biographical account of his growing up years - the hopes, aspirations, ups and downs. For some parts this makes good reading and is filled with insights into struggles he and his family went through over years and how they bonded in the process . I do admire the fact that the author has come a long way from a not so super privileged ( though reasonably middle class) childhood to being a best selling author. He , like almost everybody does, has had personal trials and tribulations and has in turn gained strength from them to become a stronger person.However, many a times the writing moves from excessive self pitying to narcissism. Time and again, the author talks about extreme poverty they grew up in , how they did not have as much as other kids, how their relatives always had more, how they ate all cookies they could eat when they went to somebodies house, how they'd break most of their cousins toys during visit to their house, how they didn't have air conditioning during a trip to Grand Canyon, how the first house they owned was sooo small - it just had 4 rooms, an office, a living room, kitchen and a converted garage ( which would be considered a luxurious living in many third world countries the brothers later travel to!) .

As I said, the book far from justifies Nicholas Sparks' reputation as a great writer. It leaves you wanting for way more by way of quality writing. Hopefully his other novels are better than this one!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chal Merey Saath hee chal..

( see image information below)
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chal mere saath hi chal ae meri jaan-e-ghazal
in samajon ke baneye huey bandhan se nikal, chal...
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hum vahan jayen jahan pyar pe pehere na lagey
dil ki daulat pe jahan koi lutere na lagey
kab hai badla ye zamana, tu zamane ko badal, chal…
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pyar sachcha ho to rahen bhi nikal aateen hain
bijliyan arsh se khud rasta dikhlati hai
tu bhi bijli ki tarah gam ke andheron se nikal, chal...
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apne milne pe jahan koi bhi ungli na utthey
apni chahat pe jahan koi bhi dushman na hanse
chhed de pyar se tu sazey, mohabbat pey ghazal, chal...
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peechey mat dekh na shamil ho gunahgaron mein
samne dekhke, manzil hai teri taaron mein
baat banti hai agar dil mey, iradey ho atal, chal…
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Hasrat Jaipuri
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About : This ghazal was written by the Urdu poet Hasrat Jaipuri who is also a renowned lyricist for Hindi cinema. The ghazal is about perseverence , compassion & never never saying die and is one of my absolute favorites for two reasons. One , because I love the lyrics and all the more because it is one of the songs I grew up listening to from my mother's amazing collection.The song has been beautifuly rendered by the brothers’ duo Ahmed Hussain and Mohd Hussain.
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Resources:
1) Listen to this amazing ghazal on musicindia online at the following link: http://www.musicindiaonline.com/p/x/dJ3pCwAeht.As1NMvHdW/?done_detect
2) Read more about Hasrat Jaipuri at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasrat_Jaipuri
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Image Information: This image is from http://www.flickr.com/photos/keysofvirtue/87850379/

Na tha kuch to....

the in-side by dandasights
( See image information below)

Na tha kuch to Khuda tha, kuch na hota to Khuda hota
Duboya mujhko hone ne, na hota main to kya hota ?
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Huaa jab gham se yoon behis to gham kya sar ke katne ka
Na hota gar juda tan se to zaanoon par dhara hota
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Huee muddat ke 'Ghalib' mar gaya par yaad aata hai
Wo har ek baat pe kehana, ke yoon hota to kya hota ?
.
Mirza Ghalib
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Key to Urdu words: doboya = to drown, behis = shocked/stunned, zaanooN = knee , muddat = a long period
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Resources:
1) For a very good source of Tashree ( in depth interpretation ) of Ghalib's poetry see http://www.geocities.com/ziestnmot/
2) Listen to Jagjit Singh singing Na Kuch tha on You Tube : http://youtube.com/watch?v=3PXVUIdmeLo
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Monday, September 03, 2007

Auguries of Innocence..

( See image information below)

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
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A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight
Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus'd breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov'd by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by woman lov'd.
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song
Poison gets from slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy's foot.
The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands,
Throughout all these human lands;
Tools were made and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright,
And return'd to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar's rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the lab'rer's hands
Shall buy and sell the miser's lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket's cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street
Shall weave old England's winding-sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse,
Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro' the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
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William Blake
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About the Poem: Auguries of Innocence, written by William Blake is a poem of paradoxes in life and the beauty in their irony. I have put my favorite lines from the poem in bold. The opening lines are absolutely enchanting and I love them. Priceless wisdom is packed in each line of the poem .Everytime you read it a new layer emerges!
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About the Poet: William Blake (1757 - 1827) was an English poet, visionary , painter and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered great and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts. [1]
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In 1782, William Blake married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. Blake taught her to read and to write, and also instructed her in draftsmanship. Later, she helped him print the illuminated poetry for which he is remembered today. Blake believed that his poetry could be read and understood by common people, but he was determined not to sacrifice his vision in order to become popular. [2]
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References :
[1] Read more about William Blake at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_blake

[2] Read William Blake's Biography as well his other works at poets.org http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/116
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Image information : This image is from http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=174098243&size=o

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lagta nahee hai...

(see image information below)
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lagata nahee hai jee mera ujadey dayaar mein
kis kee banee hai aalam-e-naa-paayedaar mein
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[ My heart is not happy in this barren land
Who has ever felt fulfilled In this temporary world]
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keh do in hasaraton se kahee aur jaa basen
itnee jagah kahaan hai dil-e-daaGadaar mein
.
[Please tell my desires * to go away somewhere else
there is not enough room for them in my sad heart]
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bulabul ko baagabaan se na saiyyaad se gilaa
qismat mein qaid thee likhee fasal-e-bahaar mein
.
[The nighthingale laments neither to the gardnerer nor to the hunter
Imprisonment was written in fate in the season of spring]
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umr-e-daraaz maang ke laaye the chaar din
do aarazu mein kat gaye, do intzaar mein
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[I had requested for a long life a life of four days
Two were spent in wishing* and two were spent in waiting]
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hai kitna badnaseeb zafar dafn ke liye
do gaz zameen bhee na milee ku-e-yaar mein
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[ How unlucky Zafar is !For his burial
he could'nt get even two yards of earth in my beloved country]
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- Bahadur Shah Zafar
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About the Poet: Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughal King of India and is regarded as one of the greatest Urdu Poets in Indian history. The British exiled Zafar to Rangoon ( now Yangon, Myanmar ) where he lived the last few years of his years yearning to return to his homeland. He died in Rangoon in 1862 and is buried there. The above poem was written by Zafar as his epitaph
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References:
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1) Read more about Bahadur Shah Zafar at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahadur_Shah_II
2) For a good collection of Zafar's poetry see http://www.urdupoetry.com/zafar.html
3) The English translation is from http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/zafar.html and wikipedia ( except words marked by * , which I find more closer to the intended meaning)
Image Information: This image if from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jzakariya/191481747/