Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fana

You and I ...

You.I...

YouI...

You.

(Fana means self annihilation in Urdu/Persian)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Draft Poem

I traded the wine flask for the water goblet,
Gave up my hallucinations for an illusion.

Cursed be this hope!If you call it that,
I'm the rooster who mistook the burning taper for dawn.

A mere breeze toppled them across,
My ivory towers turned out to be fickle bubbles.

Seeing the holes in the garbs of others,
I tried to take refuge from my own nakedness.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oops!It's poetry

As a person who has had more than 10 years of experience in pretending to know computers and 2 years of experience in pretending to be a poet,I have found some similarities between the two.Now I know, purists from both sides might scoff at me,but since it's my blog & we don't live in China, I am going to write it anyway.

Now the kind of poetry I prefer is of the type which can be interpreted in different ways,according to the reader.For eg, take Ghalib's famous lines

ham ko malūm hai jannat kī ḥaqīqat lekin
dil ke ḳhush rakhne ko ġhālib yeh ḳhayāl achchhā hai


I first read this couplet a year and a half ago.And since then, each time I have looked at it, the sher's meaning has morphed, and as my life takes a different turn each time, this sher, whilst remaining the same in form,has changed in context.

This reminds me of Abstract Data Types(ADT), which forms the base of Polymorphism, an important aspect of Object Oriented Programming(OOPS).Abstract Data Types,are much like clay.Just as a child moulds clay into his own desired shape,programmers similarly use ADT's according to their requirements, while keeping their basic structure the same.

Now while I know that most people have dozed off right now, but still, I found the similarity too fascinating.Just how one can connect too seemingly unrelated entities gives me hope that someday,maybe me and Katrina Kaif....What say?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cookiejh,Jee tv,and Pure Vehhjjjjj..Run!The pronunciation monsters are back in town!

As a child who grew up in a very North Indian environment, I, like many others of our generation were exposed to a lot of butchering of our names.Thus, you have 'Amit' being pronounced as 'Amat', Kapil would become 'kapal' (pronounced like couple) and 'nikhil' would become 'nikhal'. However, this trend was more or less limited to our grandparents, most of whom had migrated after Partition. The reason for this became apparent to me much later on, while I was learning Urdu.You see,in Urdu(or the Nastaliq script,to be precise), there is a general under-emphasis on vowel sounds, especially the short ones. Normally,in everyday writing, people omit the diacritical marks for 'i' or 'u'. One generally has to guess where the 'i's' and the 'u's' are. Now since my grandparents grew up learning Urdu as the primary language for correspondence, it must have begun to subconsciously alter their pronunciations.



Coming back to the present generation, one can make a similar observation about people who pronounce 'z' as 'j'.I find it quite irritating when people say 'cookiej', 'jee tv'', and 'singh ij king'. This habit can be clearly attributed to the shortcomings in the devanagari script. Since the devanagari script doesn't have a proper alphabet for 'z', most people use the 'j' alphabet for that. Although, a 'dot' below the 'j' is used to denote the 'z' sound,it is normally forgotten and thus you have an entire generation of people who say 'hujoor,jee tv pe jakhmi film aa rahi hai' (mom,if you are reading,get the hint).


So as one can see,a script has a significant influence on the pronunciation.This is more true for Indic/Perso Arabic scripts rather than Roman ones.Since English script tends to be uniform(atleast as far as my observations go),one finds a lesser impact of it's script on the pronunciation.

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Oh since we are on this topic, Pune deserves a special mention as far as linguistic genocide is concerned.From Deewhine Raid Rojhejh(Divine Red Roses) to the Pure Vehhhhhjjj(Pure Veg) signboards, Pune is the official burial ground of refined speech in the country.And talking about signboards there was this place 'Anu's beauty parlour' near my house.Remove the apostrophe from the first word.Anu should have thought through.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Modernity,Political Correctness and Progress

One of the prominent phenomenon of our modern times has been the emergence of political correctness.Although political correctness may have a pleasant effect in our increasingly multicultural world,it may have some unforeseen negative influence on slowing the pace of modernism(not to be confused with westernism).Let me explain

If one talks about ancient pagan cults or Greek mythology or the Roman Civilization,you ll find that normally people don't mind calling a spade a spade.So one will have no qualms about calling the Romans blood-thirsty brutes whose form of entertainment may be called absolutely unacceptable by today's standards.However,if we were to use the same logical premise for some of our contemporary customs,people immediately draw their swords at you.Let's say we go ahead in time by 3000 years.Let us assume that by 5000AD,all our present day religions have vanished.Now in such a society,would we shirk away from calling most of our religious texts as nice allegorical tales with little or no factual truth in them.But right now,because of our so called political correctness,most of these texts stay impervious to closer scrutiny.Yes,I agree,any such sort of revelation might cause a tumult in the society(You just can't tell the pope "Look dude!,that Genesis story is nice and all,but it didn't happen").It's like telling a kid that Santa Claus doesn't exist.The difference is,the kid grows up,but the priest doesn't.
But what you can have is a deliberated,well reasoned public discussion,without people jumping to conclusions and branding you as racist/communal/etc.Otherwise,we may just slip into this useless rut of trying to please everybody and not getting anywhere.By,the way,for the record,the shitty author who wrote this is one of the most politically correct jackasses you'll ever come across.But it's nice to contradict oneself,isn't it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Going Vintage

The other day I saw this documentary on Begum Akhtar.It featured these old records of Begum Akhtar and they were purely mesmerizing.What I noticed that what enhanced their appeal was that they were old recordings,and their was a certain distortion in the recording.The distortion actually gave a charming antiquated effect to the songs.Come to think of it,I would not prefer to listen to Begum Akhtar's songs on a Bose,simply because in their pursuit of improvement, they might destroy the charm.

Another thing similar to this is listening to the radio(not the private ones,but the old government stations).It is sometimes more pleasurable to hear a song on the radio,because of two reasons.One,it is unexpected,so the joy gets doubled.Secondly,the radio produces the same vintage charm that the gramophone or record players did.It has more character.Also,sometimes listening to your favourite song on the radio,in the dead of the night,with only the voice of the RJ(normally Government Radio Jockeys are fluent in Hindustani,unlike the private ones,which adds to the charm) produces that hauntingly romantic effect,just like Ai Ajnabi in Dil Se,with Shahrukh Khan as the jockey,and Manisha Koirala listening to the Radio.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zulf-e-Nastaliq

The ink leaves my pen,
Undulating like your tresses,

Mirroring the beauty of Nastaliq,
They fall on my shoulders.

The blackness of the letters against the paper
Your hair spread against the splendid sun.

The dots shine against the light
Did I just see a glint in those eyes?

Nastaliq:Urdu Script

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yeh Chanda Kanoon Hai

There's this new show on SAB TV called 'Yeh Chanda Kanoon Hai",featuring actors like Ashif Sheikh, Tikku Talsania, and Juhi Parmar.Although I am not a fan of the SAB comedies(most of them tend to be a part of the overt Punjabi caricature camp,and the others are plain boring),this show has proved to be an exception, especially because of the performance of the actors, and the little quirks in their characters.For eg,Tikku Talsania who plays the judge with a blatant fondness for Juhi Parmar,also has this habit of mispronunciation of Urdu words(yes,my subconscious pro-Urdu bias is at play!).

Let's hope this show continues it's fresh and innovative approach and doesn't fall prey to all those habits which Indian comedies are normally prone to.So far, only Sarabhai and Sarabhai,and Dekh Bhai Dekh have been successful in doing that.Yes Boss was slso good,although I haven't seen it in a long time.Oh,I almost forgot.A special mention to those 2 assistants of the judge(forgot what they are called in Hindustani).They are simply superb.
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My second consecutive non-philosophical article.Three cheers to materialism!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Television to Idiot Box.From DD to Cable

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Doordarshan or rather,television broadcasting in India.On the occassiom,here was a wonderful documentary on DD about the evolution of television in India.There were clips from old time DD productions like Hum Log,Buniyaad,Tamas,Mirza Ghalib etc.
Seeing those clips made me realize the amazing amount of crap that passes as entertainment these days.And also the transition of 'television' to 'idiot box'.How did we move from 'Tamas',which raised the issue of communalism in India,to 'Rakhi ka Swayamwar'.When did interviews by Noam Chomsky get replaced by those of Payal Rohatgi.It's indeed a sad state of affairs.The only kind of people you see on TV today are hyper/boorish/dancing punjabis(and being one myself,I seriously can't tolerate another ounce of pseudo punjabis on TV/films) or funny accented South Indians,overtly traditional women or out rightly evil/westernized vamps.When was the last time you saw an Assamese doctor or a Muslim engineer or a Punjabi intellectual.Why can't TV move out of stereotyping.And yes I agree,private channels have to market to consumers but can't the messages be delivered in a subtle manner.
Until then all I can say is,'Is Jungle se mujhe bachao'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Standing on the precipice,
Walking the tightrope

Between One-ness and Duality
Between existence and non-existence

A tumult reverbrates in this silence,
There is something to this nothingness

An instant is nothing but an illusion
Look!It's the ice melting in the river.

Friday, July 24, 2009

umm...

The only proof of God's existence is irony.
Amit Julka

Was Muhammed a Marxist?

Note:The following article is an exercise in pure speculation.My knowledge about both Marxism and Islam is optimistically speaking,limited.I hope the readers forgive me for my incompetence.

A few days ago,I chanced upon a biography of Muhammed by Maxime Rodinson.It was a scholarly work and quite a refreshing change from the diatribes or the adoration that he seems to generate on the internet(and I tend to find both a little repugnant).As I was reading about his life, it dawned upon me that initially,his movement stemmed from socio economic causes(rather than divine ones) and the class struggle that engulfed Arab/Meccan society at that time.

Now what I understand of the pre Islamic Meccan society is that it was a tribalistic society and each tribe had it's own God whom it would appease. Thus, to Muhammed,these idols of these Meccan/Arabic gods probably became symbols of the struggle between these tribes,which is a rudimentary example of the modern day class struggle[between the haves and the have nots].The difference lies in the fact that while Muhammed replaced all these Gods by one God in order to unify society,Marx did away with the whole 'God' business altogether.

Also the concepts of 'Ummah' and the lack of statehood in Islam has striking similarities to the concept of 'Pure Communism',which envisions a stateless,classless society(much like Islam).The 'Proletriat' or the democracy of the masses is a lot similar to Ummah.Now coming back to the 'God' concept,this is probably where Marx and Muhammed diverge.Marx's theories,being purely intellectual conceptions were and as a matter of fact,still are open to scrutiny.However,Muhammed's theories covered a whole spectrum,from being purely political to out rightly religious.Thus it added a religious and divine dimension to his theories which made them impervious to scrutiny.

To sum up,we could say that the only difference between Marx and Muhammed was that the latter believed in one God more

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The might of existence is nothing,
but for my fragile thoughts

The oppressor ceases to be,
but for the oppressed

The glory of the prism,
lies stripped at the hands of darkness

This storm would have quelled a long time ago,
but for my arrogance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Capitalist God.

ham ko maʿlūm hai jannat kī ḥaqīqat lekin
dil ke ḳhush rakhne ko ġhālib yeh ḳhayāl achchhā hai



The other day,I was watching the documentary 'religulous'.I found it rather funny and though provoking but sadly,it had a rather monolithic view of things.However, it did manage to arouse the skeptic in me.One of the points the documentary made was the flawed concept of God in most religions.Although they did have a strong argument, I still found it difficult to debunk the concept of God altogether. There were still many things which can't be left on chance. Take the whole DNA concept, for example.Billions of molecules ordering themselves with a perfect arrangement trillions of times per second. I am sorry,but I refuse to buy that they just fell together 'by chance'.
So I thought, maybe God is the 'intelligence' which governs the world around us. The concept looked elegant and beautiful at the first glance, but soon it lost much of it's charm. Because if that's true then this intelligence is responsible for everything from the creation of the Himalayas to the holocaust.
It was after this that this intelligence started resembling a rather complex and brutal algorithm which has a particular objective which is to be attained with maximum efficiency.
So if this intelligence governs the natural world then we can conclude that this intelligence is highly capitalistic.Look around you, and you'll observe it's all about maximizing profit.The whole process of creation of life is itself grained in capitalism. The male gets attracted to a female he/she deems attractive. The female goes for the fittest male ensuring the healthiest offspring. The rest, like feelings,emotions etc. are just convenient human abstractions.Maybe this is why communism is inherently dead. It is against the law of nature.

ālam ġhubār-e vaḥshat-e majnūñ hai sar-ba-sar
kab tak ḳhayāl-e t̤urrah-e lailā kare koī

Meaning


The second aspect is to determine the objective of this central intelligence.Even if we assume my oft mentioned 'law of entropy'(which assumes things fall into disorder',the fact is that things can't get disordered beyond a certain limit.After a while,even randomness becomes predictable and things tend to take some shape of their own.



haiñ zavāl-āmādah ajzā āfirīnish ke tamām
mihr-e gardūñ hai chirāġh-e rahguzār-e bād yāñ
Meaning

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Prejudice

All this talk about ending 'prejudice' is inherently meaningless.Everyone has a prejudice(Indians especially).Even the pseudo liberals(e.g.me) have their skeletons in the closet.Many people scoff at others who have gender prejudice. In fact, most people whom I have met protest vehemently against any gender prejudice.However the same person might make a casual remark about blacks/people of African origin without batting an eyelid.It's just that people with a gender prejudice are on the wrong side of political correctness.

This reminds me of this time I was having a conversation with a driver.He was from UP.It was that time when Raj Thackeray's anti North Indian rhetoric was at it's peak.So he was complaining about the Maharashtrians ill treating the North Indians and how it was unfair that they were getting prejudiced for no reason. A few days prior to this, the same guy was ranting something about how the Muslims were the root of all problems. Most of us are like him. We all have our prejudices and no one gives a sh*t until he/she becomes the victim himself.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

'Happiness' is a 'double edged sword'. Period.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The divine and the vulgar both,
Derives sustenance from the same force.

The light and the dark
Emanating from the same breath

The purity of the snowflake, the dirt of the gutter,
All flows into the same ocean.

Language is a pollutant,
For virgin thoughts contemplated,
Through silence.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Creation & The Myth

One of my favourite questions since childhood,and probably the most enduring mysteries of all time is 'What existed before the universe?'.I was also frustrated by this question.Then a few days ago,I had my 'eureka' moment(and no I didn't run out of the shower naked!).It occurred to me that the answer lies in examining the question carefully.First,let us look at the word 'existed'.Now,existence is something which is associated with the dimension of space,i.e. an object always exists between the realms of the spatial dimensions(length,breadth,height).The second word,'before' is associated with the dimension that we call time.The mistake most people mistake is that they assume that the dimensions of 'space' and 'time' existed before the creation of the universe.Infact,it is entirely possible that creation of universe resulted in the creation of space and time.Thus,any question of anything 'existing' 'before' the universe seems irrelevant.

This argument can also be extended to God.Since 'existence' is the property of 'space',and if we assume that god transcends these dimensions of space(and also time),then we can safely say that God doesn't 'exist',and nothing was 'before' him,since 'before' and 'after' refer to time,an entity that God presumably created.Thus paradoxically, we find that this apparently atheistic point of view is closer to the mystical conception of god espoused by the Vedantists,the Sufis and the Kabbalists
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While we are talking about God and religion,let us shift our attention to another very important aspect,mythology.Now mythology is something that exists in probably all major cultures.The semitic religions(Christianity,Islam and Judaism) have their own mythology concerning figures like Noah,Adam and Eve,Moses etc.The Greeks had Apollo and Jupiter as their heroes.The Hindus have too many to even count(The Ramayana,Mahabharat are just the tip of the iceberg!).

The problem with myths is that people take them too literally.Myths were written as a fictional accounts(or unusually exaggerated accounts of historical events),written so that people could digest religion easily,since people in general cannot be expected to understand the esoteric ideas and the higher reality which the myth symbolizes.Also, myths serve as commentaries on the socio-political conditions of the time and the region.Hence,I don't deny that there wasn't a war in ancient India,but probably it wasn't as grand in scale as is mentioned in our epics.And probably there weren't any great floods or the creation of Adam and Eve in the literal sense of the term.It's all just a symbolic representation of something deeper.

Now what is interesting is how myths developed.In semitic cultures,myths were precursors of a more subtle,refined religious thought.Thus you have traditional religious thought giving way to ideas like Sufism and Kabbalah.However in oriental cultures like Buddhism,which started with a very refined philosophy,myths developed later as offshoots so that religion becomes more personalized and easily digestible for the common man.As far as hinduism is concerned,there is again a very unique pattern.The early Vedic period was characterised by subtle philosophy and whatever mythology existed was certainly very rudimentary(the concept of the seven elemental gods could be put under the myth category).The mystical element in Hinduism probably reached its zenith with the Upanishads.However,in the later Vedic period we find that complex mythology(The Ramayan and The Mahabharat) develops during the course of 500 to 600 years.This period coincides with the rise of Buddhism and Jainism when Hinduism was on decline.Thus probably these myths were written so that the conception of God becomes more personal rather than the esoteric ideas of Upanishads and consequently of Buddhism and Jainism.

Thus we find that the present anthromorphic conception of God in hinduism was a result of people's need of a more humanized and personal God,which was especially comforting during times of foreign invasions,when people need something concrete to cling on to,rather than just dry philosophy.This is probably why Buddhism declined in India.It's conception of God,while not incorrect was too impersonal and remote in times of trouble.