Category: General

24 Dec 2009


Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:21pm

The artist, bemused and absorbed, stared at the wall. The wall was full of lines, scribbled at random. In all shapes and lengths, the lines didn't, at first glance, make any sense. Some of them were faint, some have been erased, some have vanished with the passage of time, and a few were indelible. They defined the theme and the meaning, and yet the meaning had a trace of persistent vagueness. Some fleeting lines were being drawn even as the artist continued to stare.

A moment shall come when the artist will cease to be, and the only justification for his existence is lent by the few lines, indelible and defining, that will still conceal a part of the meaning and yet make all his attention most meaningful.

1 Dec 2009

When NAQs become FAQs

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:43pm

"You never saw him, you never heard him. So why don't you give it a try?" my friend asked.

"Sorry. I would rather continue the stroll. You can attend the session and give me a call when you are done", I replied.

"You need not sit through the entire session. If you can't stand it, you could again go walking. I told you the campus is beautiful. And you loved it! So you can trust me when I say you will like this man too".

The campus was indeed huge and beautiful. But I didn't find my loving the campus a reason enough to trust my friend about my liking the man too. Actually, it's not about trust at all. However, it wasn't a moment to think deep about a word used by accident and merely as a trick to persuade. All the same, I reckoned there was nothing to lose. I admit I was indeed curious to see why this man attracted followers in millions across the globe. And I liked the fact that I need not sit through the entire session. "Okay! Great. Let's go!"

My friend was thrilled. "I bet you will like him. He has an aura and irresistible charm about him", he reassured.

"Great!" I smiled.

The gathering hall was huge and a definite achievement in architecture. We walked in. Hundreds of people were already sitting in meditative pose as a small group of singers rendered devotional numbers. The setting was, without doubt, impressive.

A few minutes later, the man - the new-age guru - walked in.

The earnest followers, more than six-hundred of them, stood up and welcomed him with rhythmic applause. Dressed in immaculate white robes and sporting a well-groomed beard, he received the welcome with grace. The initial words of blessing over, the audience sat down. I enjoyed observing the audience as much as I enjoyed observing the man who now became the cynosure of thousands of eyes.

All was fine till now, and then the questions began. And with every answer, my sense of wonder as to how millions could buy such views increased. He sounded like a filmmaker who plays to the gallery in order to play safe. Give what the masses need and thrive. I don't have any problems with his being revered or his having millions of followers. Works for him; works for them; it's mutual. None of my business. I have problem, though, as regards categorisation. Why consider him a spiritual guru when he sounds every bit like just another management guru?

My friend kept checking if I fell for the man yet. He was pleased I hadn't yet decided to walk out. And then the decider happened. The question came from a concerned follower. He confessed he has an uneasy conscience of being a part of corporate fraud, and sought the guru's advice as to how to deal with it. I don't know how the guru's words can be taken as absolute, but I still sneakingly appreciated the chap who at least brought it to the fore (notwithstanding the fact that conscience is a most  unreliable faculty) than conveniently keep it under the carpet as majority do.

The audience comprised corporate crowd, so most of them could easily relate to the question. On hearing the question, the guru laughed and so did the audience. It was as if he knew what the audience wanted to hear and the audience, in turn, knew what the guru would answer. They need the guru's reassurance that "it's all fine" and the guru needs a repeat audience. A simple, predictable step in circus. All that mattered then was the execution - the guru just had to say it. And he did. "In this modern world, a little tact is necessary and especially so for businesses. Tricks are essential to beat competition and achieve success. It's nothing illegal. And you need a job to survive. So it's better to turn a blind eye to the failings and concentrate on your work and goals. That will be good for both you and your employer. Focus on your goals and success and you will be more happy that way".

When he finished, one heard a deafening applause.

They were just playing a game. I couldn't stand it anymore. I could take that answer from a management guru, not from someone who is considered in line with thinkers in the spiritual realm (for me, that answer is unthinkable coming from, say, a Vivekananda or Sankara). "I will walk for some time and wait at the car. You can join me whenever you are done", I told my friend. He found the abrupt move cranky, but he didn't show it beyond a quick frown of surprise. Gentleman that he is, he smiled and walked out along with me, though.

While the issue of corporate fraud (and how responsible an employee is, for the same) raises interesting ethical questions, the justifications that we adopt raises, to my mind, even more interesting ones. I don't pretend to have any answers myself, but the questions refuse to die. There are no easy takes on where one should draw the line. Regardless, that we so easily ignore, and even refuse to acknowledge, the absolute sham in society is certainly an uncomfortable fact. Even more saddening is the fact that we accept it as inevitable, conform with absolute ease, and readily justify it. Let it be endorsed by the authority of a guru or State or one's own self and it becomes all the more effortless! We are an incredibly clever species! 

It reminds me of a few insightful lines from The Reader:  

Societies think they operate by something called morality. But they don't. They operate by something called law. You're not guilty of anything merely by working at Auschwitz. 8,000 people worked at Auschwitz. Precisely 19 have been convicted, and only 6 for murder. To prove murder you have to prove intent. That's the law. Remember, the question is never 'Was it wrong?' but 'Was it legal?'

So the question that I must be asking myself is - "Do I have it in me to put the job in line if and when I realise I'm a part of corporate fraud? Do I have it in me to stand up for the right and turn back on the wrong, regardless of definitions and consequences, legal or otherwise?" Yet, it has a loophole. The loophole is that the words right and wrong are subjective, as long as one is caught in thought! Nonetheless, the real test of education, passion and intelligence is, to my mind, in asking those questions that we never did or were always afraid to ask. And, importantly, in never seeking answers!

31 Jul 2009

The Man. The Book

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:32pm

The longlist is out. I am putting my money on Coetzee. Yet again. May Summertime be the brightest find at this year's Man Booker do.

9 Jan 2009

Wall Street fundas

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:44am

After Lehman Brothers went bust and the confidence of employees worldwide was shaken, a friend remarked in good humour, "Now we have to listen to whatever the managers tell us. Can't take risk". And Seth Godin spares nothing when he puts across his insightful take.

"It's clear from current events that there was no correlation between talent and pay on Wall Street.

"Confidence is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, particularly in marketing or investing. Arrogance, on the other hand, is hard to reward. My favorite combination is the quiet confidence of knowledge, combined with the humility that comes from realizing that you're pretty lucky and that you have no idea at all what's guaranteed to work tomorrow."

Sounds even more relevant after scandal hit Satyam the other day!

25 Dec 2008

Dear Santa

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:58am

Amélie is six.

Like all little girls, she'd like to be hugged by her daddy.

But he never touches her, except for a monthly checkup.

The thrill of this rare contact makes her heart beat like a drum.

As a result, he thinks she has a heart defect.

Santa, on this day, therefore, hug all Amélies in the world.

23 Dec 2008

8 Days to Go

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:37pm

Among the season's greetings that have come in thus far, I found this impressive. Cheers to the copywriter. 

It's that time of year again, when sappy eCards will be peppering the globe like reindeer droppings. But not everyone wants visions of sugarplums. We happen to prefer build-your-own monsters singing generic rip-offs of seasonal songs.

Don't you?

Your friends at Corbis

31 Aug 2008


Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:33pm

When you can't do graffiti, you buy tees. With statements, meaningful or vague or queer or bizarre. Regardless, they attract attention and engage you. Some make for examples of good design work, some are loud, and some are bland. But it's only a few days ago that I realised some could be shocking too.

It was on my last two visits to a shopping mall that I spotted four girls - pretty, I must say, each of them carrying a guy along - flaunting the statements (prominently flashed across you know where) that shocked me. Thinkers who follow the leave-appearances-at-that school of thought may accuse me of being a pervert, but I found the statements obscene.

Statement 1: "36!"
Statement 2: "Dirty minds think alike"
Statement 3: "Look or you miss"

Statement 4: "Yummy! I love milk"

Given the perceived visual, I thought of... well, that's beside the point. Yes, it is possible to justify the statements by attributing their focus to other references, but that's a sheer idiotic exercise. That is denying the importance of context. Context is everything. If it was a drunk party or orgy, the captions would not have been out of place (literally). 

It's not my business to question their rights to wear what they did, but I cannot help wondering if they are not going overboard. If they believe it reflects how bold they are in making such statements among crowds or how casual, "cool" they are in making them in such a matter-of-fact manner, do they also have it in them to take the gazes and comments of guys without any trace of discomfort, rage, or frustration? What exactly are they conveying by wearing such tees? Yes, tees have flourished as a medium for personal expression, but how good is it to exploit it to flash obvious references and religious/political allegiance (reminds me of a guy who flashed a pro-Nazi statement, complete with the Swastik symbol)? Is it not unfortunate that the young fail to find better examples than Britney or Paris or Hitler? 

I don't pretend to know the answers to these and other questions that come up, but I am surely at a loss to see how their parents and siblings could allow such choices. Or do they think the girls are going to Mardi Gras? But then, maybe I'm just too conservative, because it didn't shock them or the girl herself. And when statements like "I am a bitch" are fast becoming fashionable, thanks to reality shows like Splitsvilla, this is, after all, a sign of things to come.    

I reckon I have found the statement I will try on one myself:  "If it's on the tee, it's on the mind".

16 May 2008

Believe It or Not

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:23pm

A bottle of beer may cost half a billion dollars; by next week it could be a billion. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached a terrifying 355,000% in March, with prices doubling roughly once a week. It is probably much higher now. In a vain attempt to keep up, the country has just issued a Z$500m banknote, which is worth some $2 (or less by the time you reach the end of this sentence). The billion-dollar note is surely on its way. After a decade of recession Zimbabwe is reaching all sorts of extremes: it has the fastest-contracting peacetime economy; its people are fleeing both repression and chronic hunger; life-expectancy is plummeting to the mid-20s. Despite all this, Robert Mugabe, the incumbent, expects to win a run-off presidential election on June 27th.

- Source: The Economist

Just the other day, I read how North Koreans (the poor ones, though), on the brink of a severe famine due to food crisis, have started trying tree-bark and grass for food. Although the inaction on the part of the government is understandable - due to its rigid foreign policies and cold international relations - yet it confounded me that situations test humans to the limit. All that superfluous gibberish about "collapse of barriers" notwithstanding, the world is still a definitely divided, apathetically disconnected place.

There certainly are quite a few "believe it or not" things happening in the big, insane, and horrible world out there! Only, they are rather chilling than exciting!

13 May 2008

Looking for BoB

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:32pm

The race for the Best of the Booker is into the final lap. Of the 41, the following survived.

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road
Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda
JM Coetzee's Disgrace
JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur
Nadine Gordimer's The Conversationalist
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

I'd have doubted the literary sensibilities of the jury if Disgrace hadn't made it to the shortlist. Having won the Booker of Bookers, Midnight's Children is a strong contender. Rushdie has an advantage in that he has a stronger presence in media and is more famous among the circle of average readers for other reasons too. Now that the voting is open to the public to decide the winner, one has more reasons to believe Rushdie will win. For, most Indians will vote for him, driven by the obsession to flaunt the success of an 'Indian'.

However, I put my money on Disgrace. This masterpiece should win by a mile.

29 Jan 2008

The Quest

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:48pm

"Everything is inconsequential", the master said, his senile face radiating youthful aplomb.

The young disciple responded with a smile. "Thank you", he uttered softly and walked out.

The teaching was complete.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

24 Jan 2008

The State and We

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:45pm

Every account of the origins of the state starts from the premise that "we"

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

31 Dec 2007

AD 2008

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:17am

Happy new year!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

20 Nov 2007


Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:32pm

1.It doesn't take much for a man to be bad; it takes his everything to be not bad.
2.When luck and time are on your side, you can talk bullshit and get away with it.
3.The desire for power is the root of crookedness and ruthlessness.
4."Is life worth living?" is a wrong question. Life is beyond worthfulness.
5.The world finds orgasm in two things - prosecution and persecution.
6.As David Lurie says in Disgrace, "One is fine as long as one is alive".
7.The richest man is the one who seeks nothing.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

26 Oct 2007


Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:38pm

Politics: 'Poli', a Latin word meaning 'many'; and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'.

- Robin Williams

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

13 Oct 2007


Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:44pm

The lonely poet wondered,
"Life is drifting nowhere
Or, am I?"
Nobody heard his words
No answer came forth
The evening was sombre
And the sky murky
The bird refused to fly
The lute would not play
And his heart knew no quiet

He walked out barefoot
To the waters of the sea
The sand beneath danced;
With a flutter of its wings
The bird took to the skies

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---
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