Sunday, November 30, 2008

Activity in the Reading Room

Tolstoy is irksome,overwhelming,sometimes redundant,brutally frank,brilliantly poignant and above all an irresistible force.One can either ignore him or yield to him.I choose to yield, and I am a million times more endowed with the capacity to love his work.I write this with a sense of unapologetic irreverence.I seek comfort in Tolstoy's insistence that events in history aren't the result of the whims of certain individuals.

I sought out 'War and Peace',Tolstoy's epic tale of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia.My readers are probably thrilled with the redundancy in my reiteration of the fact that I'm reading it for the second time(In all fairness, I read only 600 pages the first time).I've strained every nerve to read each word of the last footnote.My memory occasionally fails to recall the trivia,my mind filters out the subtle humor and the characters are like my kin.I loath the irony of Russian battle strategy and crave the disillusionment of Andrew Bolonski.My spirit dances with that of the spontaneous Natasha and alters with the profound changes in the mind of Pierre Bezukhov.One must read Tolstoy as one would regard,with reverence,a fable narrated by a grand raconteur.

I have a hundred or more pages to go before I feel satiated.The book doesn't grip one's senses at the very beginning;it gnarls its roots around them when the end is near and when one realizes that a thousand odd pages aren't quite enough.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Anarchists Rejoyce!

Being 'anti-establishment' has never been easier! Most establishments have reached such a stage of irrevocable decay that they are bound to crumble.The anarchist just just has to sit back and watch.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspired by Chopin

I stand by your tomb.
My eyes tread over the epitaph;
Tiptoeing with caution,
Lest this elegy wakes your slumber.
My eyes behold some distant mirage,
With the blurred reflection of your visage.
I try to recall,in vain;
Your face,its contours,
The subtle wrinkles
Bridging the caprice of youth
With the wise disdain of age.
My ears strain
To reminisce; the timbre,
The nuances and ecstatic thrill
Of your now failing voice.
I long to contain that intangible guile,
The kind akin to mourners.
I crave the comfort that only the living,
Can bestow upon their kin.

P.S. Listening to Chopin reminded me of the person I used to be.It is as though a part of me has died.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hail Thee Gertrude

There is the forgotten tale of Alicia and Roberto (aka Alice and Bob of the cryptography textbook fame).While cryptography textbooks make an ode to the legitimate romance of the illicit couple;they also neglect the working of the scorned genius, Gertrude (known in textbooks as Trudy).

Historical records reveal very little about her lineage.While it is known that she was the sole heiress to a couple of estates in Tuscany,the antecedents of that inheritance are somewhat hazy.Gertrude ensured that all the wayward gossip and uncharitable hints concerning her ancestry,were reduced to a trickle of whispers in her lifetime.It is thus hardly surprising that there are no visible traces of Gertrude's existence,not even a tombstone if you please.

Little did Gertrude anticipate that her jealousy would serve as fodder for posterity. Gertrude knew she was plain;her sharp mind was the antidote to her unflattering looks.She possessed both wit and charm.In fact several anonymous poems and scrolls of the Renaissance period have been attributed to Trudy.However,no amount of wit could sway the affection of her wayward husband Roberto in her favor.She gazed on helplessly as her husband carried on a cryptic correspondence with his lady love Alicia.She often confronted him with proof of letters she intercepted by use of her cunning and guile.He often turned pale as she shredded to pieces every code he devised to encrypt his love letters.Roberto often looked at her with awe,the kind that is laden with mistrust and guilt.How this woman learned the art of numbers without being aware of their beauty,no one knew.

After Roberto died,she withdrew from society and lived like a hermit.She lived and died mysteriously, but left to the world the invaluable wealth of her analytical mind through her diaries.The rest,as far as cryptography is concerned,is history.Just as hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned; the fretting genius of a spurned wife is rather indomitable.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Animosity at the Aisle

In weddings in Bengal, it is customary for the mother of the groom to be absent.I have often questioned members of the family about the origin of this custom,but sadly enough there aren't any convincing answers for posterity.I am thus left to contemplate its origin and come up with cynical interpretations of it.

I would like to remind my readers that this custom isn't generally 'Indian', it is more peculiarly 'Bengali'.In the heyday of the arranged marriage,matches were made more for convenience than for love (I don't wish to give the impression that arranged marriages are passe in India,it's just that the marrying parties are entitled to an opinion in a lot of cases.)It was common for the fathers (or other male relatives) to strike what was literally a business deal.The bride and groom never saw each other before the wedding and the groom's mother was usually denied the pleasure of glaring at her future daughter-in-law.Perhaps the custom was a move to abate the effect of the impending hostility for the benefit of the bride. Or perhaps it was meant as an indirect reminder to each woman that in laws are required to treat each other like outlaws even though they are now part of the same family!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Numb

Elusive fleeting doubt;
How thought is thrust
Into narrow corners
With jagged edges.
How deeds amble
With the lethargy
Of fading inspiration.
How the shroud of hope
Gags the stuttering harangue
Of speech,once valiant,
Now thwarted.
So here we are,
Swarming,with bated breath,
Around the buzzing drone
Of a forlorn dream.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mission Statement

If organizations and individuals can define themselves with mission statements why can't an independent,intangible entity like a blog have one? It does occupy a finite space of the blogger's mind after all!

Here one for 'La Diva':

To attempt to express through the medium of writing,that which cannot ordinarily be said in words.

P.S. : I swear I didn't use a mission statement generator.

Drizzle

I slink past the unsuspecting,
I steal subtle gazes and telepathic whispers.
Where this poem turns to prose,
And where stoic lines are blurred,
I shall never know.
I tiptoe down a noiseless hall
That echoes sentiment with fraying zest.
I hum;till my song is slurred,
Till the earth turns to quicksand on its spurs.
Where sense turns to a senseless drizzle,
And rattling prattle dwindles to mournful scorn
I shall never know.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Of Knights,Damsels and Mills and Boon

I accidentally stumbled upon this link about a hundred years of Mills and Boon.I was reminded of the one and only Mills and Boon romance I read as a precocious 12 year old. I discovered a dusty and tattered copy of 'The Son of Adam' flung away at a corner of a loft. 'The Son of Adam' was in the exalted company of 'O Jerusalem' and other books of caliber,but to a wide eyed adolescent damsels and knights held more promise than the uncompromising research of Lapierre and Collins.

The Damsel

'The Son of Adam' was the story of a distressed damsel who eventually rescues the unlikely knight.Dove Gray,the heroine who in every way epitomizes the 'English rose',is suddenly shunted out of a sheltered and fettered existence in her attempt to get her parents out of a financial scrap.She decides to take up a position as an au pair to the children of a wealthy Arab sheikh.She is interviewed by the hero,a close friend and confidant of the sheik.

The Knight

I don't recall his name so I will refer to him as 'the beast'.'The beast' fits the tall,dark,rugged and formidable stereotype of the typical romance novel of the 1970s.He has this jagged scar across his jaw that came from the time he saved the life of the sheik.'The beast' seems to disapprove of Dove and her slow learning curve.Yet, he is passionately taken by her beauty.

The Story

Dove Gray struggles to get accustomed to Arab customs that have her confounded and miserable.'The Beast' doesn't make life easy; with his endless censure of her activities at one end and his tormented lust at the other.He asks the sheik if he can marry her.The sheik being hospitable and quite indebted to the hero consents immediately.They are married much to the horror of our poor damsel.She eventually breaks the thing off.'The beast' is devastated but nevertheless lets her go.She slowly comes to terms with her stifled attraction and affection towards this vulnerable rock with a core of whipped cream.They eventually marry and 'live happily ever after'.

I flipped through the pages of 'The Son of Adam' faster than I turned the raciest portions of 'The Da Vinci Code', I giggled at the pathetically unromantic confessions of love and at the end I cooed when the hero begs her to 'save him'.The appeal of a Mills and Boon novel doesn't lie in its saccharine coated pill of delusion or in its soap operatic thrill.It lies entirely in the fact,that despite being badly written,it carries an irresistible pull.Happy hundred Mills and Boon!

Love in the time of Facebook

Most web 2.0 enabled young adults find themselves experimenting with Facebook sometime or the other.Despite its questionable usability and the bizarre terms and conditions,the 'Info' page is the first page people encounter(not counting the fact that it's one of the simplest pages to use on Facebook).The information page allows users to fill in their date of birth,relationship status,job information and a bit about their religious views.While users have considerable control over what they enter in most fields,the relationship status field is probably the most laughable with terms peculiar to social networking websites.Here is a dig at all the options that exist in the 'relationship status' menu and the less obvious implications of each one of them.

What they read and what they might just mean!

Single :

It's not that I need a 'partner' to validate my happiness. No I'm not desperate.I just need a date for Valentine's day and New Year's eve. As much as I love Facebook, I can't spend my weekends crawling from one site to another.

I'm actually not single,but a little harmless flirting never hurt anyone.

Okay,I'm not single but I have way too many folks from the family on my friends list.I'm afraid that if they get to know the real story they will squeal about it to my parents (a common dilemma faced by young Indian people engaged in covert courtship).

In a relationship:

I'm a lot cooler than all you single people. Ha ha!

I'm not really 'in a relationship'. I just picked this option to make it look like I've got a 'life'.

Married:

I'm single but I don't want weird friend requests from potential stalkers.

In an open relationship:

So I like to swing. At least I'm honest about it unlike those 'in a relationship' types who tell the whole world that they're 'single'.

It's complicated:

I want attention! The least you can do is visit my profile when you read my relationship story.