Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This just about matches my mood:
Zindagi khwab hai… khwab mein sach hai kya aur bhala jhooth hai kya..

Another fiscal over. Another fiscal begins.
The pattern of my mornings, unchanging.
Offering stability to the day, anchoring it
That easy-paced walk, that chulha- chauka rush, the perfect round rotli, the rai- marchu seasoning.
This I will do, no matter what.
So that I can contemplate - Greece, GDP, Portugal, non existent global cues.
That hour and some of contemplation and deft moves is my fee, so as to be able to say “The emperor has no clothes.”

Yesterday, my morning was peppy and serotonin rich. Didn’t know a metformin dose increase could make your day go 3D and all smiles.

And every time I see the dawn sun I am reminded of a honed and copper hued Karna, striding home from the Ganges, beset by questions of identity and ethics. Questions that remain as yet unsolved.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earlier this week I received my copy of Indian Literature (Nov- Dec issue).
With a tribute to the giant, Dilip Chitre.

Now, poetry and I keep each other at a safe, respectful distance, occasionally nodding.

But this is mind blowing; you know the sort that gives the nerve endings in some dull part of the brain a good shaking and hot water scrubbing, yes, add the bleach.

For once nothing matters.
I can only sit up straight and agree wholeheartedly, salute and sigh, wring hands at the hundreds of sins of missed meaning and made-up line, after reading “The Translator”

(if you’re reading this, language warnings apply.)

The Translator

Dreaming in four different languages
And of the continents of silence
A man is f*cked up by the nagging problem of meaning
And cannot rest.
Translations are possible only when one is fully awake.
But at night, when one is a cave man who has lost his tribe,
Who can be a Renaissance Man?
The nameless painters of Altamira
Have been able to dream up
The Museum of Modern Art.
But who were the poets and translators of the cave?
Who crafted the first words out of wild corn
And the bones of animals?
Who told the first lies
Upon which our profession is based?
On waking, he soothes himself by asking difficult questions.
But once he goes to sleep,
His own ambivalence disturbs him,
Producing nightmares
Out of the savage silence of four different languages.

© Dilip Chitre

Friday, March 26, 2010

That awe-inspiring dose of marble and granite seemed out of place for a building in an industrial area. As did the art deco security block and the now-empty jharokha-like niches near the gate. So once upon a time this was a home, a manor. Complete with sit-out and terrace garden.
And then time moved on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last night the moon was a silver quarter pinned on black, silver spun spilling over. As I walked in the dark, wisps of conversations swirled around in the quiet, from all those times we’d sleep on the terrace when kids long long ago, sheets cool to the touch, blanket quickly pulled over head every time one heard a strange rustle in the night.

So I was a finalist for an international translation anthology but didn’t make the final cut. Whatever. It cuts.

Abhinav Bindra, the shooter and Olympic gold medalist, in today’s Mint offers an interesting read, specially that part about being positive as versus realistic.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yesterday the US passed a bill for health care reform.
The intent, the scale- you have to admire them for their guts.
No one who needs medical attention should be turned away, no matter what,
Perhaps this is what access to health care means, not some meaningless slogan made for a conference and forgotten.
Health insurance for the poorest of the poor. Penalty if you don't buy insurance.
How will they pay for this?
Taxes on investment income at the individual level.
Arm twisting big pharma.
Negotiating with big insurance companies.
Robin Hood? Perhaps.
But if they get it to work...
Nothing short of amazing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yesterday I crossed 2000 words on a story.
2150 and done, to be precise.
Like me, my characters tend to summarize a para in a single "yes/no"
So this is big for me.

At the eyedoc's this morning, I came close to hyperventilating.
The parent couldn't get the washroom door to open after he'd locked himself in.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I like to walk.
To feel the stretch of muscle and sinew.

And the answering press of the earth, as it moulds the contours of your foot.

In time, you set a pace, heel-toe-heel.
A rhythm as real as the periodic bursts of chattering birdsong.
Or the cuckoo’s single, clean note.

Such is the lure of the earth, black and dew-fragrant.

About the orange orb beyond the march of trees;

Or the many many hues of generous green,
I have yet to begin.

If you miss this connect with the earth, if you sit aloof and ac’ed, I think you miss big-time.
You lose sight of what is real.
What matters.

It is much more than aatey-daal ka bhav.
For a reason I cannot completely explain, it seems critical to be able to navigate crowds, to tiptoe past traffic snarls.
To keep time with the throb of the earth.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

For all the philosophy, pit-in-the-gut worry about a close friend’s illness woke me up in the middle of the night with a sudden jolt. Diverticulitis is not your common stomach bug, and thoughts of the very worst case persist, given her poor immunity and gazillion complications.
I wait. So far ok.

A 1950’s era Dodge in mint perfect condition, spotted last night.

Realizing more than ever the need for focus, for compartmentalization.
And for a calm start to the day.
No more morning mail check with tea.
Lesser twitter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

At our own version of the 25 years service awards y'day, the show stealers were these pair of three year-old twins, quite happy picking up a gift box, one at a time, from one room and taking it to the other where the father was seated.
And in due course taking a gift box from him, one at a time, and back to the table.
So content.
So blissfully unaware. So happy.
Ho ha for form and protocol and seniors.

And B, with his 27 years in the mailroom, but two accomplished daughters he's put through professional courses. Life changing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Open your eyes and see.
Such stunning colors.
Every morning the generous greens- fluorescent,dark, so many shades, an extravaganza.
Dew trembles on the tip of a bamboo leaf.
A completely bare tree, devoid of even a single leaf.
Dewdrops shimmer, outline stretched silver branches.
Open your eyes and see.
And last night on my usual walk, from the basti behind the colony, the tremendous, riotous beat of a dholak - kartal and voices rising skywards.
I stood, mesmerized.

Here is a brilliant article on the craft of translation.
Just for this single line “translation is not done with tracing paper” I could cook her a week’s worth of Gujju meals.
Lump-in-my-throat indebted.

Last night, Anwesha sang a classical piece in Amul Music ka maha muqaabala
Standing ovation. Goosebumps. Yes, tears.
From another lifetime, the words echo.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The writing is on the wall.
Yet, on a plain sheet stuck on the wall, the words read “I shall not surrender. I shall not give up.”
Or some such.
Yet he laughs and talks of the Bhagwat Geeta.
What will be, will indeed be. Neither thy piety nor thy wit.
Yet he laughs about fighting the good fight.
Even though as a quasi medical person handling neuro-psych all his life he knows exactly what this dirty tangle of neurons means.
I remind him about a field call to the top neuro in Madras almost twenty years ago.
He laughs, recalling anecdotes from long ago.
The top neuro from down south just spent three hours with him. A Christian discussing Chapter and verse of the Geeta.
Life is so weird.

Last week was sobering. Just one working day, the rest in meetings.
Meals precooked and frozen.
If there were a Refrigerator God, I’d pray at this shrine.
My desk, my home and my mailboxes are a mess.
From the air, the bright line dividing day and night looks just as stunning.
In Delhi, the kesu were in bloom, a fresh suit of blossoms transforming ordinary-looking trees.
And on landing, Bombay’s carpet of lights on velvet still looked like a living, pulsating being, drawing one in.

L’s home--when I reach it in the meandering bylanes of that farflung suburb-- that home is beautiful.
More so for what it stands for. Human will and a dream, beyond textbk hype.
A courage I am blessed to witness. Perhaps I will learn some.
I will pray for you, Sister said.
I'm humbled.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In the dark of the night, the flames of the holika had burst to life, furious orange- red flames rising to the sky...I'd turned away from the searing heat,teary and red faced, prefering to offer my salutations from a distance.I'd long stared at the flame, the ultimate divider between life and not life. So many life events unfold to the witness of the flames.As much a part of life as the colors,the riot of red, green and orange that were splashed on the tar roads the next morning.I've come to terms with a collegue's shocker diagnosis from last week, and the fight to the finish. To life.