Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: Land of the Seven Rivers

Book: Land of the Seven Rivers - A brief history of India' Geography.
Author : Sanjeev Sanyal.

It is believed that where you live makes you what you are. Under this statement, it is very important to understand the geographical history of where we live. Jalmaluddin Luftullah has a brilliant comment in the play Walk in the Woods - "What is History if not Geography over time".

Sanjeev Sanyal's Land of Seven Rivers is a loose attempt to cover India's Geographical history. It succeeds hands down in telling numerous anecdotes and side stories. It is clearly a work of passion, a celebration of Sanjeev's curiosity to read and assimilate diverse source materials. Sanjeev has also personally visited many of the places mentioned in the book. He blends in his personal observations in the narrative, which gives this book a more realist texture as opposed to list of anecdotes, some of them are quite bizarre.

The book's coverage of parallelisms between writings in Rig Veda and archaeological evidence found in Harrapan civilization is excellent. It is amazing to pause and reflect that an entire civilization "almost" perished just because a river dried, the river in point here is the Saraswati river. The fact that there are two independent sources talking about the same thing makes this fact quite credible. Water, eventually it is always water that makes or breaks civilizations.

Some of the anecdotes mentioned in the book are too good to be true. One such anecdote deals with the question of "Where did Tsangpo flow?" What follows is a comic farce that has to be real because it is too crazy to imagine it up. I will not spoil it here, you can find it on page 245. The book is actually quite obsessed with the mapping of territories. Sanjeev correlates how the countries with better mapping technology were the ones who were more successful in their conquest of other nations.  It is not clear if this would have been the only criterion but clearly, having a better mapping technology must be having some merits.

With all its interesting stories and facts, the book lacks depth. The flow does not feel right, it appears that it is a bunch of chapters put together. The time dimension jumps on and off from the pages. It appears that the author has put together what all he was able to find through his research. The work in the end comes off as a collection of a serious hobbyist's notes. The prose of the book lacks wit and command, but it is very easy to follow as well.

All in all, the book is a definitely a one time read just to increase your side knowledge and boast about in your circle of friends. It is not meant to be comprehensive or academic. The pages flip fast, it is perfect to be read on a flight or while waiting at the lounge.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Madame Bovary : Not a review

Madame Bovary
Author: Gustave Flaubert

This is not a review. It is a post about lessons learnt while reading Madame Bovary.

I had to read Madame Bovary as part of my Modern and Post-Modern philosophy course on coursera. It is still not clear to me completely why we were asked to read this book for this course. After watching the lecture videos, the prof says: What Rousseau was to enlightenment, in a very similar way Flaubert was to Romanticism. Hmmm, i am yet to understand Rousseau completely and i have little idea about Romanticism anyways. So, that's that.

Madame Bovary is called as the finest work of fiction ever. It is called a masterpiece. It has inspired the whole generations of authors after its publication and pretty much every great author's work today can be traced back to this one novel. I had researched this bit before i started reading, so i was pretty excited.

I read the first 65% of the book on a kindle in my flight from Bangalore to SFO. I had taken Qatar and with total flight time of 27 hrs, i had plenty of time to read it. The last 35% were read in a Starbucks cafe in Bentonville sitting next to a window during afternoon time when sunrays were coming at an angle that directly touched my feet making me feel warm just enough to be cozy. My appreciation towards Starbucks is also quite high since i had moved back to India.

Madame Bovary, even though it is a work of fiction, it belongs to the genre of classic. It is not Hunger Games, it is not even Girl with Dragon Tattoo. All three have the common theme, each one of them is about a female protagonist. Rather, Madama Bovary is a very nuanced depiction of mundane life in 19th century. With its setting in small villages, towns and country side, it is basically about the  ordinary lives of people who live there, it provides with detailed accounts of what people do day to day, which is essentially gossip and nothing. It has a remarkable prose, beautiful, every word is chosen very carefully to concisely explain the scenery. Some of the metaphors are extremely well constructed. It is considered to be one of its first to right realist fiction, a realistic portrayal of the mundane written in a manner that even that becomes exciting to read. It is indeed a masterpiece.

However with all the above, it is not an easy read. At any rate it is not a book that is to be read in a flight at 5 am in the morning when you have not slept last night. It is not to be read at anytime during a flight when you are having a mild headache as you are unable to find sleep. It is especially not to be read when you are running a minor flu. What makes matter more complicated was that i was expecting it to be a novel like Girl with dragon tattoo, the high delta in expectation and reality was too much to bear for me. Yet it was the prose that kept my going. For the first 65% of the book, my reaction ranged from boring to infuriated to "what the hell is happening here" and somewhere it included "will the story ever move forward".

The last 35% of the book was a sheer delight. With proper sleep under me, my appreciation of the prose  grew beyond proportions. I was in love with the writing, the careful detailed construction of each line, how two lines associated themselves when they appeared next to each other and how smooth was the flow of a para . I was able to see the mastery behind this invention. It was also helped little bit by a slight quickening of the pace in storyline as well.

Overall, the lesson has been learnt. One should only read a pageturner-ish book on a flight journey. I had experienced a familiar difficulty as i tried to read Midnight's Children during my flight to US when i was going to start my masters there.  I had given after 150 pages or so marking the book as unreadable until i came back to it two years later and finished it, thoroughly enjoying this time. I had not clearly understood why i didn't appreciated the book first time around, now i know. One need all the senses available to understand "class" writing; great authors require great attention from their readers.  Also classics are best enjoyed in cafes.

I am not sure if i will re-read Madame Bovary again. I wish that i do. Meanwhile, the course is going brilliant. The video lectures have been a great compliment to the weekly readings and they just add another dimension of realization. Madame Bovary is actually a rebuke on Romanticism, it is strong critique on "Art for art's sake". It was hugely controversial  in its own time as all cult things are .

Running in US

My first US trip after returning back will be remembered for Grand Canyons and fall colored leaves on trees in Bentonville, the next one in April will be remembered for Eureka Springs and Zion National park, this one, from which i just returned yesterday will be remembered for running trails.

Last time, i was training for a Half Marathon in June and during my two week of stay in April-end, i did no training and fell sick after coming back. My coach sent a sharp email, declaring decisively, that i should not do any HM in June. I was angry at myself but i took his advice. This time, i am preparing for KTM in mid September and when i was asked to tour again, i was prepared to not repeat the same mistake again. 

The Bay Area Chapter
I reached US on Friday,  i was staying at Radisson, Brisbane and i was struggling with a flu, thankfully with no fever.  Owing to my forever jetlag, it takes me seven days to become adjusted to the local timezone in either direction, i was typically up in the morning. I was supposed to run 16K on Saturday (10 miles) and 10K on Sunday. 

I knew there was a trail next to Bay shore but i had no idea how long it was, no idea whether i will have water along the way and i had never ran such a long distance alone. However, i was a man on a mission, these petty details were not going to stop me. I know that 16K will take about 2 hrs, so i just have to run by duration but there is another twist, i do not like running with phone and i do not have a wrist watch. Brisbane is 5 miles from SF and is generally a very chilly area due to its proximity to the Bay. I waited till 8 am so that i could see the Sun and braving my cold, with some anti-biotics and multi-vitamins with me, i took the plunge and started my run. The trail was known as  San Francisco Bay shore trail, it is a tar road trail for the most part (yay!) and it runs next to the Bay for as long as it goes. There were some numbers marked with paint on the road. The one closest to the start point was labelled as 12 and it went on decreasing to 11, 10 and so on. I passed couple of labels but could not make sense of them, they were too close to each other to have a mile distance between them, could they be a km apart? Unlikely as why would US follow the metric system. I was confused with the marking and at 7 am, next to the Bay it was cold, very cold. My running nose was constantly asking me to give up for the first 30 mins but after that the body heat took control and everything went fine. After running for 45 mins, i saw my first mile marker which said 2 miles and i was like what? Have i run 2 miles or there is 2 more miles to go? As it turned out, there were mile markers throughout the entire trail but they were on the left hand side and since i was running on the right, i had completely missed them. and those labels- 12, 11, 10 were actually at a distance of half a mile. Once i figured it out, i was able to run 10 miles going all the way to almost the end where the trail is next to the SFO airport. 

SF Bay shore trail is an awesome trail to run. It just reminds me how beautiful running is in Bay area (And in general in US). There are rest rooms along the way, drinking water fountains and did i tell you that it is next to the Bay all the time. Gorgeous blue water  makes the dull yellow sun glitter like gold. Mountains rise next to the trail and there are several observation points where one can just stop and reflect on this natural beauty.  Other users of this trail were extremely friendly with "Good-mornings" being exchanged almost throughout the way. Along the way, one passes next to the yatch's of super-rich of Bay area; Brisbane is anyways a very posh locality. It is pretty much a flat trail with just one inclination that lasts for about quarter a mile and quickly comes down as well. So all in all, it is simply a runner's trail.  

I followed my Saturday's 10 miler with a 5 miler on Sunday and the cold was much more bearable. With the training this season, i can easily run 16Km without having any pain or walking difficulties post the run. For my weekday , i ran 4 miles going in opposite direction next to the slip road that connects to 101 South freeway exit from Sierra Point parkway.  

I was supposed to run 21K (the entire HM distance) on the upcoming Saturday but i had plans to go to Yosemite. So, i decided to run the distance on Thursday afternoon. Thursday was a team lunch at an Italian place and i had to content myself with an bowl of vegetables. An hr and half after the lunch, i was on trail to run the longest distance for this year. The decision to run in afternoon was quite intentional as i wanted to get some Sun (heat), in preparation for KTM which is going to be hot and humid. I had known the trail only for first 5 miles (for my 10 miler), i had no idea how far beyond the trail existed. Turned out not much, it ends at 5.5 miles, i figured it out after taking couple of exploratory routes. But in the end, i had to run 2 miles extra in between to make up for the difference. It was a great run, the cool breeze from the Bay negated the afternoon Sun making it ideal for running. I was back in Shoreline, back in Hellyer park, back in those Bay area running days with Team Asha SV, i was back running on the streets of San Jose for my first half marathon. Memories overwhelmed me, i remembered walking/running on  the trail behind my Easy street apmt. How much we take these things for granted in US, what would i give up to have such a trail next to my aptmt in Bangalore.  In short, i absolutely loved my 21K run. I met Manas after the run and had an awesome Chinese dinner post run. 

I didn't click any pics of the Bay shore trail, they can be found online after some googling. There are no experiences on the web, however,  so far, on running on this trail. Saturday was spent in Yosemite doing a 7.5 mile hike with a 2000 ft. elevation gain (Mist trail) and hence i skipped my Sunday run. That weekend, i could feel my leg muscles getting taut, i was enjoying the transition :)

The Bentonville Chapter
In Bentonville, i tried running on the road from my hotel on Walnut st, to Promenade hills but the road quickly ran out of footpath. Fortunately i found a 0.6K loop (estimated) and ended up running 8 loops around it. For the first time, i was doing more than 3 loops of anything and it was a different experience. After some time, this repeatability, it becomes quite hypnotic, like minimalist music and i was able to finish 8 without any difficulty. 

For the Saturday run of 16K again, i decided to run on the trail close to Crystal Bridges. It is called North Bentonville trail and it goes from the parking near Crystal Bridges to Bark Park which is at a distance of 2.5 miles. I ran for about 1 hr 50 mins, i was definitely short of 16K. The reason primarily was because other than that 2.5 mile marked distance, other side trails were either closed or not properly marked. Three of my exploratory trails turned out to be closed after running some distance and i had no way of quantifying that "some" part. I also ran on a side Urban trails which goes through the small forest next to the trail and it was the first time i was running on an actual hiking trail, it was full of ups and downs, an interesting challenge but i was able to manage it properly.

North Bentonville trail is again a paradise trail. It goes through a park which has a creek running close-by, big natural trees growing alongside, extremely green, airy, quiet with no cars in proximity. The bark park has restroom and drinking water making it an ideal distance to take a break. The only downside is that it is made up of concrete, may be because it is primarily meant for biking, and hence not exactly ideal for running. At several points in the trail, one can hear the sound of flowing water and that is just a bliss. Kids ride through the trail, a lot of people run and bike, making it perfect for family walks. It was great to see happy people all around you, enjoying their weekend in a natural setting. 

Sunday followed the Saturday run on the same trail, i had to run 8K. It was summer in Bentonville and i was drenched after my run. This was the first time i ran with my phone so that i can click some pics of the trail, the trail that is accessible after only a 15 min drive.

On the last day of my visit, i again did a 6 mile run on this trail, this time starting at 6:30 am. At 6:30 am, i was pleasantly surprised to see almost 10 deers just hanging around around the trees and next to the creek. All of them looked at me like some alien had come to their area. In many national parks, people look out for animals, take their big DSLRs to click them, but here, in the natural calmness, these deers were just standing there, like they were at home. I didn't found them on my way back, most likely because number of people in trail had increased. 

I am not sure how much equipped i am to run for KTM but i can say that i have enjoyed every bit of running in US. That these things are such readily available for public in large, that people have thought about such things and have decided that such trails are a must for community, it just stands as a stark reminder of the cost of passing up an opportunity to not live there. Yet, as i ran today morning on the Kanakpura trail,  one feels in awe of these other people who are running with equal passion, enjoying every bit of their time on these dusty, stony Indian roads (these cant be called trails). It is people who make a difference, someone has figured out already in US, somebody has to do here. It is evolution in its slow movement here. The optimist in my heart whispers - "One day!"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kant and Marx

I am taking a coursera course on Modern and Post Modern [Link] . Last year, i did the Fantasy and Science Fiction and it was awesome. My book reading went through the room but it has been pretty much an average rate for the last six months. I was on the lookout for something interesting when i came to know about this course.  For roughly about the last three four years, i had been meaning to read philosophy. I even bought an Intro to Philosophy book when i was in US but never opened for a single day. Kant fascinated me even more when i read Michael Sandel's Justice.   So, it has been a much anticipated reading and something that i really want to do.

So far, I am three weeks down and it is doing ok. Till now, i have read - 

Karl Marx - 
Gustave Falubert - Madame Bovary (a novel) -
Jean Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Arts and Sciences

And i have tried to read his Discourse on origins of inequality -

Rousseau has been a much difficult person to read. His ideas are quite radical and his writing is also quite heavy. But it is just amazing how these thinkers have put their ideas into words. Sometimes, it just feels brilliant to read a line and then i have to reread it 2-3 times to marvel at the sentence construction, the thought behind it and how naturally it flows.  

Kant and Marx has been just awesome to read and to understand. Kant's enlightenment is just brilliant. Enlightenment is not about access to knowledge, rather Kant defines it to be able to use one's own reason, freely, without the guidance of another. Kant does not care what is the conclusion, he does not care about the impact, he just makes a case that as long as there is an environment to apply one's own rationale, the society would progress.  The entire essay is quite a small one and it is an easy read, i just want to highlight the first para which just is phenomenal. 

Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!

Marx, how do i begin about Marx. His ideas which we have seen in practice and realized its weak points; Marx the ever so controversial. But his treatise on Estranged Labor was just a sheer joy to read. What profundity ! In Estranged Labor, Marx argues that if man works for an output that he can not relate to, the output that he can not enjoy, then as part of his work he is loosing himself. This alienation of work leads to alienation of self and Marx claims that by doing so, man is  forgetting the life-species (humanity) and is becoming an animal - the one that enjoys the physical plesaures such as eating, drinking sleeping etc. 

The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and this at the same rate at which it produces commodities in general.
This fact expresses merely that the object which labor produces – labor’s product – confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor which has been embodied in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor. Labor’s realization is its objectification. Under these economic conditions this realization of labor appears asloss of realization for the workers[18]; objectification as loss of the object and bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation

Even though Marx is thinking about Labor class as he is writing about it, his ideas apply to anybody who does not like the work that he/she is doing. His argument is extremely fundamental and it strikes the core of the meaning of our existence. 

What, then, constitutes the alienation of labor?

First, the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labor is shunned like the plague. External labor, labor in which man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Lastly, the external character of labor for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own, but someone else’s, that it does not belong to him, that in it he belongs, not to himself, but to another. Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, of the human brain and the human heart, operates on the individual independently of him – that is, operates as an alien, divine or diabolical activity – so is the worker’s activity not his spontaneous activity. It belongs to another; it is the loss of his self. 


In estranging from man (1) nature, and (2) himself, his own active functions, his life activity, estranged labor estranges the species from man. It changes for him the life of the species into a means of individual life. First it estranges the life of the species and individual life, and secondly it makes individual life in its abstract form the purpose of the life of the species, likewise in its abstract and estranged form.

For labor, life activity, productive life itself, appears to man in the first place merely as a means of satisfying a need – the need to maintain physical existence. Yet the productive life is the life of the species. It is life-engendering life. The whole character of a species, its species-character, is contained in the character of its life activity; and free, conscious activity is man’s species-character. Life itself appears only as a means to life. 

The entire article is actually a great read. Moving to the Communist Manifesto, this is very it gets very tricky to navigate. I am in agreement with Marx on the diagnosis of the problem. In section one, he analyses the state of things and how the bourgeoise is controlling the proletarians (the labor). One can get a sense of things to come by just reading the first line -
The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.
What follows, is a very nuanced understanding of what causes inequality, how the bourgeoise has come to enjoy the current power, what has been missing in the previous revolutions and why we need another revolution. Marx writes -
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless and indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

Marx concludes section one by -
Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society. 

Section two talks about the solution to the problem and this is where things get quite tricky for me. The solution is the theory of Communism -  primarily founded on Abolition of Private property.  I can see some sense in the argument but am not in complete agreement. Marx tries to answer the critique that it would lead to a universal laziness by a tautological argument but i do not buy in completely. Also, Marx does not answers the question of communal greed wherein an entire section of people (say in a particular form of govt.) are concomitant in corruption (for their own greed), the system of checks and balances fail. I think the fundamental flaw in Marx is that he assumes public participation in all spheres - something that we witness to be not that true today.

There are however still some sections that ask for a lot of thought. For example -

But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? 
Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage-labour. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism. 
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.
Capital is, therefore, not a personal, it is a social power.

I am thoroughly enjoying the course so far. Will keep on posting on things that i read. Madame Bovary's review is also coming soon.   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Six pointers

Lets start with a thought experiment. Imagine you have to shoot a film that shows virality. Yes, the concept that spreads from one to another to many and then to many more. Yeah, you must be thinking visualization, the spread of information in a social network , the Kolaveri D or the Friday video phenomenon, or you must be thinking dots and circles. But what about virus among human beings, say bird-flu. No, it can't be a documentary. No, it can't be boring, it has to be a commercial film.
It is very hard to take a serious concept, dare i say reality, and to make a good movie about it. Not only it borders the risk of becoming commercially un-viable but often the end result tends to be sub-optimal.   

Why am i talking gibberish and what the hell is six pointers? I am talking about the movie Contagion and as of this writing its rating is 6.7 on imdb. Six pointers refers to a whole genre of films that take on a daring concept and are able to do a great job at it but end up having a Six point something rating on IMDB. These films are under-appreciated because people often do not realize the mastery behind their presentation. One really has to undergo a whole slew of crappy movies to understand the craft behind a good one.  

Contagion tackles the issue of spread of a virus through the entire human population (a macro phenomenon) by following about ten different lives (micro details) and how they are impacted by it. The beauty lies in how these diverse micro instances allow our minds to imagine the big giant global phenomenon without being explicit about it. The background score, the juxtaposition of all these stories orchestrated through a crisp screenplay and finally the choice of these micro stories; all these create a perfect background for us to understand the un-said. The movie is a sheer delight to watch and once you start watching, you will not remember a single thing in your life until the movie ends.  With all the craft, yet the movie is only able to achieve a mere Six point seven rating, a travesty as per this author. 

There are several such films and there are several film directors who have been subjugated to this six pointer phenomenon. Robert Redford is one of them. Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs and The company you Keep are both socio-political films made with a maturity and poise that keep the issue(object) at the front and center while the subjects are just enacting its spirit. Stating the obvious would trivialize the matter as the truth is really complex. In real life, our actions often symbolize an end product of a complex milieu and an obvious mention would just trivialize them. How does one convey an emotion behind an action. It is indeed very tricky and it requires a lot of thought-process to get it right. In both the films, Robert Redford's attempts are indeed commendable.

And then there is this other genre of surreal films which even though being completely escapist, or rather too escapist, are never able to escape the curse of Six pointers. Take for instance Terrence Mallick's brilliant Tree of Life which has a rating of 6.8.  People are often confused when it comes to rating such movies as there is often no frame of reference to compare them to. At the end of the film, people are left in a confused state as they are happy with what they have just seen but they are not sure how happy they really are. In such conditions, a film eventually settles to a six pointer as it is a safe bet. 

The tragedy of these six pointers is that they are often clubbed with the other six pointers. These other six pointers are truly average films like mediocre action movies such as the Transformer series or John Carter, and thousands of feel good movies such as Pretty Woman or The Devil Wears Prada. Movie raters often do not take into account the complexity of depiction of a film's subject matter while reviewing a movie. What matters typically is the end result. 

These Six pointer films are often slow, graceful and made with an honesty that makes it difficult to escape. In many case, the ratings on imdb are actually the measure of escapism that one derives from the movie. The more a movie is able to convince you to forget the realist aspects, the more "well-made" it is known. How else will you justify such high ratings for a film like Argo which is completely a fictionalized account of a true story. This trick is now known as the art of storytelling. 

Happy Independence day 2013


आओ आज आज़ादी के दिन गुलामी का गुणगान करें 
आओ , कम से कम आज तो, सच का सम्मान   करें 

बहुत कड़वी  है पूर्ण भाव प्रकटन की स्वतंत्रता  
नहीं सुनी जाती हमसें हमारी कमजोरी 
वचन जो हमारे हित में नहीं 
कहलाये जाते  हैं मानहानि
दुश्मनों को  दोस्ती का हाथ 
या फिर कह दो सुन्दर सी बात 
है अब  दुर्बलता की निशानी 

जो करना चाहते हैं 
बस वही नहीं करते 
हमारी ख़ुशी की हमें ही नहीं परवाह 
कहीं वो अनजान समाज रूठ न जाए 
ताज़ा रात में, शुद्ध सवेरे में 
नींद का सहारा लिए छुप  जाते हैं हम 
कहीं अपने आप से दिल की बात न हो जाये 
हैं हम 
अपने ही कर्मों के गुलाम

यह जो हकीकत हैं 
मुझे पसंद नहीं 
देश की जो भी है बिमारी 
मेरी मुसीबत नहीं 
कल  बिलकुल सुहाना होगा 
मेरा ही तराना होगा 
हूँ मैं 
अपनी ही काल्पनिकता का गुलाम 

आज आज़ाद हैं हम 
चुनने को 
दो बेवकूफों में से एक को 
अपना प्रधानमन्त्री 
मुक्त  हैं हम आज तो
खुद से अपना 
गला घोटने के लिए
गुलाम तो वे  थे 
जो देश के लिए जान दिया करते थे