18 September 2020

Friday evening … an attempt to get in touch with the soulful side

“Unki nazron ne kuch aisa jadoo kiya
Loot gaye hum to pehli mulaqat mein
Sharaab seekh pe daali,
Kabaab sheeshe mein
Jo baat thi unko kehne ki
Wo baat hi kehna bhul gaye
Gairon ke fasane yaad rahe
Hum apna fasana bhul gaye”

Roughly translated…

“Her mesmerizing glance had this magic on me
I got devastated the first time I met her

(/*so discombobulated I was by her beauty that */)

I poured the wine on barbecue skewers
And served the meat in the chalice

What I was going to chat her up about
I completely forgot to bring up
I remembered to tell the stories of total strangers
But forgot to tell her my own story”

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13 September 2020

Finally, some time to enjoy some Qawaali…

Meri nazar ko junoon ka payaam de saaqi
Meri hayaat ko laafani shaam de saaqi
Yeh roz roz ka peene mujhe pasand nahi
Kabhi na hosh mein aaun wo jaam de saaqi

To remind ourselves, “saaqi” refers to the (female) partner that is usually either pouring the drink or accompanying you in drinking.

Oh Saaqi! Give my eyes that vision of frenzy
Offer to my life that evening that dies, Oh Saaqi!
I am tired of this drinking every single evening
This time give me that drink that never gets me back to my senses.

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4 September 2020

Friday evening relaxation

From the pen of Fana Bulandshahari. The real name of the poet was Muhammad Haneef. He was born in Bulandshahar (in Uttar Pradesh in India) and derives his second name from that. Fana was the pen name he had adopted.

“Maine maana janaab peeta hoon
Bakhuda Behisaab peeta hoon
Log logon ka khoon peete hain
Main toh phir bhi sharaab peeta hoon

Zindagi ka azaab peeta hoon
Bann ke khana-kharaab peeta hoon
Roz-e-mehshar hisaab ho na sake
Is liye behisaab peeta hoon”

Better translations welcome…

“Agreed, your honor, I am given to drinking
By God, I drink without keeping any count
But other people drink others’ blood often
I am merely given to drinking alcohol

I drink to all the torments of my life
And I drink to my own ruin
Never knew how to count to the Day of Judgment
Never thus knew how to count while drinking

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23 August 2020

The tale of a citronella lamp

This very lamp has witnessed so many different memories at this table. Six years back, it was witness to many a glass of wine imbibed by father-in-law and son-in-law. Sometimes talking about general precepts of life, sometimes specific aspects like his grandson in Kharagpur or the time he was a guard in a train (that was his career for some time).

The lamp has witnessed many an expostulation from the mother-in-law on the short hop from a sip of wine to full blown “matlaami” (drunkenness) and many a short shrift given to those aforementioned arguments by the father in law – no doubt deriving confidence from the fact that we were two versus one. Three, if you count the time the drunken daughter of theirs would also trudge by.

Two years back, on this day – Aug the 23rd – one lamp was put out. For ever. I was in Chicago. Sharmila was driving Nikita to school. We got the news that my father in law was no more.

His is a life to be celebrated. What I feel most happy about is that I got to see him every three months for nearly a decade. Those long trips to India and then the drive from Kalyani to Durgapur… it was all worth it. In fact, the best thing was to convince them to visit us in 2014 – when even Sharmila was not sure. Over a few glasses of wine in Peerless Inn, no less!

If I were to pick three men I would want to be like most (that are at least 40 years old) – undoubtedly, they would be my brother, first, my father in law second (and a Mr. Dubey, third – of whom, I have not written enough). All three of them share a few admirable qualities that admittedly I do not have. First, the ability to keep calm and not be judgmental under pressure. Second is to offer opinion only when asked. Third is to prioritize others’ needs over you own.

I remember even asking him about these things one night sitting by this same lamp. He shooed me away saying – “With age, you will get what you are looking for”.

Sitting outside by the pool this evening, the lamp and I – we miss him.

Seeing what my dad is going thru, I feel happy for him that his departure was a relatively painless one. But I miss his presence.

Sometimes. life is all about not saying anything and just quietly enjoying a glass of drink together.

Wherever you are today, Mr. Ghose, I raise one for you this evening.

Wish you were here.

But I am glad you were here as long as you could.

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15 August 2020

In Iqbal’s words…

“Subh-e-Azal ye mujh se kaha Jibraeel ne,

Jo akal ka ghulam ho, woh dil na kar qabool.”

These are words from the immortal poet Allama Iqbal (Muhammad Iqbal). Iqbal, who is the national poet of Pakistan (I think his birthday used to be a national holiday in Pakistan but no more), is widely respected for his poetry in all Farsi, Urdu and Hindi speaking countries in Asia.

Jibraeel is the archangel in Islam that corresponds to Gabriel in all Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Modern Day Saints …). The meaning of the lines are:

“At the dawn of creation, Gabriel (Jibraeel) said this to me
Do not ever accept a heart that has surrendered to the mind”

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8 August 2020

“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”

If you have a stressful job or are suffering from stress for whatever reason, this is an amazing book that explains how stress affects different parts of the body and exactly the process by which it happens.

Written by Robert Sapolsky (the author of “Behavior”), it is a little dense. Probably less dense – but since I am not a medical student, I am taking more time to sort out the various actions, names and organs he is talking about. I am ploughing at a rate of about 15-20 pages per hour, right now.

As of now, I am studying (and making a lot of notes) on Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Reading up on Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1), my mind floated back to a really bright young gentleman – Ronit Ganguly – one of the most amazingly smart and well balanced kids that I have ever come across (we will not count his rooting for New England Patriots against him though 🙂 ) who was suddenly diagnosed with this. I got a better understanding – thanks to this book – what his body went thru. The frustrating part is that medical science has not yet fully understood why this happens and how to prevent it.

I am encouraged though that smart kids like Ronit (and his friends) will crack the problem sooner than later!

31 July 2020

Throwback to forty years back

I remember in 1980 my sister had learnt how to sing this song. And I had accompanied her on the tabla. That was forty years back. The words and the tune are by the famous Bengali poet – Nazrul Islam.

“Musafir! mochh re aankhijol
Phirey chol aponaarey niya
Aponi phhutechhilo phool
Giyaachhhey aponi jhoriya

Re pagol! Eki durasha
Jol-e tui bnadhbi baasa
Metey na hetaa-y piyasa
Heta naai trishna doriya”

Roughly translated…

“Oh wayfarer! wipe your tears
Let’s return; collect yourself
The flower that had bloomed itself
Has also shed on its own

Oh madcap! what insane hope is this
That you will build your home on water
Your thirst won’t be quenched here
There is no fountain of elixir here”

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19 July 2020

Saturday evening relaxation

“Pehlu Mein Hai Raqib Tumhare Khuda Ki Shaan
Kaanta Bi Hai Woheen Pe Jahan Pe Gulaab Hai
Kehte Hain Jaam Bhar Ke Woh Kaisi Adaa Ke Saath
Pee Lo Humaare Hath Se Peena Sawaab Hai”

I will need some help in translating the first line (or for that matter, all the lines) from somebody who is well versed in Urdu. I think it goes something like this…

“God’s grace is (unfortunately) on your rival’s side // raqib often refers to your rival with who you are vying for the lady’s attention
When you find a rose, there will be thorns too // meaning a thing of beauty will always come with pain
Filling my glass with wine, she says playfully
Drink from my own hand; drinking is my reward” // meaning your only reward is that you get to drink the wine she is serving

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6 July 2020

Report out on not cross posting to Facebook

It was three months back that I had floated the idea of not cross posting from my blog to Facebook. Was soundly denounced by all commenters not to do any such thing. Not exactly of sound mind or body, I went ahead and did it anyways. Actually took Parijat’s advice of “try out for some time”.

I thought I will try it out for a month. It has been three months now. That itself says something. Here are some learnings…

What I gained:
a. A lot of time and self control: It was preposterously difficult in the beginning – missing out on all the comments and counter comments and likes and a rewarding engagement model with the readers and commenters. But over time, I realized what a time waste it had become for me. Now I check Facebook for 15 minutes in the morning – usually there is nothing for me – so, I scroll thru updates of others, smile at the furious points and counterpoints on mask versus no mask, virus versus hoax, Democrats versus Republicans, BJP versus Congress and log out of my laptop screen.

b. Focus on the quality of my blog: With that extra time, I have started focusing on my blog. The writing is still as bad as before but I have started working on how the blog looks. That – and some great encouragement from Larry – led me to learn HTML and CSS (and now I am learning PHP) to make all sorts of tweaks to the blog. You remember how the first time a kid learns fonts and colors and soon the whole document is filled with all the colors of rainbow and all font styles and sizes possible? Yes, I am that dangerous now.

c. Learnt to tweak the model: Over time, I learnt how to mix and match for best results. I still post once in a while directly to Facebook (like this one). After requests from folks like Kenneth, I started a email subscription to my blog (initially I was against it). Instead of immediate email notifications, there are weekly digests that go out. And then somebody suggested – why not send the digest to Facebook with links. Which is what I do now. I am also getting good tips – from folks like Milind, as an example, how to make a lot of things in my blog still better.

I would have missed all this if I had not “tried” out this experiment, that I am afraid is here to stay with me.

What I lost:
d. What I miss most is all the random updates of friends. I had to ply thru a lot of political and other opinions to get those posts, but usually I would get one or two interesting updates every week. Spending 15 minutes on Facebook does not get to that.

Net net, I think Facebook had become an addiction. I think I have been able to get myself back to where I wanted – it is a tool and I will use it as I deem fit and not the other way around.

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