Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I am You

I am the ring master. I carry a whip. *slash*

There the lion will roar, as expected. Yes, let it roar. Roar as much as it wants too. I have removed its teeth and I bring his food. I am his master. I own him. I control him. *slash*

This is my ring. This is my show.

You have to see me. Leave your thoughts behind. I will anyway force you to do so. I just have to get you angry, and I know how to do so. Take care to come for my show and I will show you how I care the least for you...

I only care about myself. *slash*

This is my world. This is my kingdom.

I am the king and I am the joker. I am the law and I am the jest. Laugh as much as you will at the joker, but he will make you cry too. It's only I who will make you angry. Anger is pure they say. Oh how I use it as a weapon! Bow down before the king, look at his power in awe. Look at my power. You might have doubts about me, but not me. I just turn a blind eye towards myself. My power is that I can ignore myself and then I am able to gather my inherent insecurity and channel it towards a bravado.

I swing the gymnasts. *slash*

This is my tent. This is my performance.

I hold the strings that hold the gymnasts. I control how they move. I decide their positions. I frighten them too. For they are a part of this picture that I paint everyday. A portrait I paint for myself. I am the great one you ever dreamed of. I am the one you want to be. I am humble at times too, but that is just for you to see.

This is my circus, this is my show. *slash*

I don't perform for myself, but I perform so that you look at me... in awe. *slash*


I feed my own ego and make you feed me some of my own. I never cared for self esteem because that is just a word.

You will go home afterwards, happy and content, but not me. I am nothing without the feeling I get when I control you.

Illusion it maybe is, but an illusion too starts with an 'I'.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Favourite singers

A few days back, #10favoritesingers was a trending topic on Twitter. I contributed to that hash tag too. My choice would be predictable if you have noticed the names I have mentioned before on this blog. To say that they are really well known singers would be an understatement!

But here are my 10 favourite singers in no particular order:
  • Jim Morrison - The one who opens The Doors for you and me.
  • Chris Cornell - What A Voice. Former Soundgarden and Audioslave band member.
  • James Hetfield - Household name. Metallica front man.
  • Robert Plant - He was a part of the Gods also known as Led Zeppelin.
  • Devendra Banhart - He has a melody to his voice that reminds me a lot of Jim Morrison.
  • Eddie Vedder - Pearl Jam front man. I am sure his song Last Kiss melts you too.
  • Dido - The only female singer in my list of ten. Her voice is sweetness. Thank You for the White Flag.
  • Serj Tankian - Crazy singer. But what a variation in his voice. The world knows him as the bearded singer from System of a Down. His solo album is good too.
  • Thom Yorke - Listen to Nude. You would know about his awesomeness. The big pillar behind the band Radiohead.
  • Freddie Mercury - Oh you know him.
Maybe later I will expand on this list.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Searching for a translated epic

It was one of those days, when I was obsessed to find out the best available condensed English translation of the Mahabharata. I hunted the web as usual and found a plethora of opinion. I came across the following translations that people have frequently mentioned:
  • The Mahabharata by John D. Smith
  • Mahabharata by William Buck
  • The Mahabharata by R.K Narayan
  • Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari
  • The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering, by Ramesh Menon
  • Mahabharata by Tr. Kamala Subramaniam
As you can see, most of them are Indian authors. It is obvious, being an Indian epic and a Sanskrit text would lead to it being translated by Sanskrit scholars. Where can you find most of them? (That is my thought, highly debatable!)

The condensed versions run from about 200 pages to some up to 1000 pages. These pages carry as many stories as much possible from the original text that has 100,000 verses. You might understand the dilemma that goes in picking up a version of the great epic.

Here are some things that I had in my mind:
  • There is no way I can sustain enough patience to go through the texts such as the complete English translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli. (The digital version is available online. Link here.) Even the J. A. B. van Buitenen version is rather big for me to plunge into.
  • Having said that, I do not prefer a version that compromises the multidimensional characters that bring about the Mahabharata and hence, want a version that does justice to the huge text and the myriad characters.
  • I wanted a version that will present the situations that made the characters who they are. We all know the stories and we all know the demarcations into good and bad. Some of us now are interested to know the about the grey side part that overlaps both. I am one of them.
  • Going ahead when I read books like Mrityunjay (Mahabharata from Karna’s POV), or the English translation of Randaamoozham (Bhim’s POV) done by the revered Prem Panicker (A digital copy is available here for free download, review here.), or Palace of Illusions (Draupadi’s POV) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, or Yuganta by Iravati Karve (link here), I should be able to fit them in the larger picture and understand the nuances of each and every character as retold by the authors.
(Some more related books posted here.)

Faced with these constraints I stumbled upon (Better late than...). He somehow convinced me to select Kamala Subramaniam’s Mahabharata (post's here and here). This decision was also backed by favourable reviews on Amazon (link here). I also read a negative review (link here) about her version that the sentences are slightly broken, but I believe that a text that is originally in Sanskrit will have its own characteristics when translated to English.

I was also convinced to buy a two volume Mahabharata rendition by Ramesh Menon (link here), and I may give it a shot too. Just that I wanted to start with something smaller.

After saying all this, the only Mahabharata related book that I have read so far is Radheya by Ranjit Desai. It is, as the name suggests, Karna’s story. Brilliant story and beautiful rendering of the characters. It made me realize how strongly Duryodhana has been portrayed as an outright villain without understanding any facets of his character. I wrote a post about this thought here. So I hope I get a better insight in the epic that Mahabharata is and delve into it a bit deeper.

To sum it all, I would quote Jai Arjun Singh: “ that places us right amidst the characters...” is a feeling that should be strong when I take up a book.


On a related note – is it a boon or a disadvantage that we have so many opinions out there that we tend to get carried away towards either sides before arriving to a knowledgeable and a very individual understanding?

Moot question.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Father of the Nation

In the near future, a man strolls in a dingy alley searching for a recent book that is banned all over the country. He finds the book stall and walks up to that friendly book seller.

“Who Gandhi waala book hai?”
“Haina Sir, kal hi naya pirated stock aaya hai. Ek copy aapke liye?”

The man smiles and waits till the book seller gets a copy.

“Iska 150 rupees hoga sir.”

The man doesn’t usually bargain. He removes two notes and hands them over. While handing them over he notices the picture on the note. Father of the nation. He smiles to himself, picks up the book and leaves.

On the way back, he thinks about the note and the picture on it. Ironic. His government bans the book that maligns the Father of the nation. Or so the people-in-charge think. The same people who get bribes, gifts in the form of notes with the Father’s picture on it.

Same note that is given to the policemen.

Same note that is flung on bar dancers in already banned dance bars.

Same note that is used to make fake currency but with the same old Father on it.

The man can’t help but smile. Ironic democracy. Yeah, that is the best way to sum up my country.


In an Outlook article, the author says, "In a country that calls itself a democracy, it is shameful to ban a book that no one has read, including the people who are doing the banning."