Word of the Week #72:

Sovereignty

 Well, yes, this is indeed a day for celebration.

The roads are filled with men and women waving the tricolour, and the screen with speeches and colourful highlights of our relatively young nation.

Yes, this is, for the most part, a day for celebration.

After all, in most respects, we have arguably come farther in these 70 years than any other country, with the exception of China. Of course, anyone who knows anything about China would know the exact reason for that.

And if you don’t know, just ask Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Oh wait, you can’t, can you?

Anyway, let us return to our own territory, and let us make merry, for this is a day for celebration.

However, as I’m sure a teacher of mine would have reminded us, it is also a day for introspection.

Yes, we have make far, but this is still not nearly far enough, is it?

To quote the very first speech made in Independent India, or was it the last one made prior to independence… Anyway, the quote is what matters, here.

“That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today.”

— Jawaharlal Nehru, Tryst with Destiny

It is quite obvious that despite having achieved freedom from our colonial rulers, we haven’t yet succeeded in ridding our land of the plethora of problems that plague it.

Since I am not a JNU student, I probably wouldn’t just suddenly start chanting out the entire list. You live here, you know it as well as anyone else; if you don’t, you should probably be on the list…

Today, we stand at an undeniably interesting juncture in our planet’s history. A shift in the balance of power is already underway, and we have the opportunity to not just observe this historic moment, but mould it with our own will.

 How exactly will that pan out? Time will tell, I suppose…

Word of the Week #71:

Fettuccini

Now, now, the plan here is not to rave about Italian cuisine. I should save that for another time.

No, today, we talk about, well, today…

This day happens to be my old school’s Foundation Day, upon which we organise a city-wide Spelling Bee competition, and I was simply overjoyed to have been invited to the event.

Continue reading Word of the Week #71:

Word of the Week #70:

Dissent

As a kid, I was usually quite well liked by elders. You see, I have always been nice and cute and smart. People tend to like that in kids.

However, as I grew older and smarter, I found that there were a couple of aspect of my personality that seemed to prick certain grown-ups.

You see, I was always an inquisitive kid. When someone would tell me something, or ask me to do something a certain way, I thought a very reasonable response was, “Why?”

At that age, it is bizarre to think I would not have actually intended to challenge the authority of the aforementioned elders. What kid ever thinks that way?

Now, as a few more years passed, this habit of mine evolved to the next level.

Now, not only was I completely unafraid of asking “Why?”, I was also assertive enough in the face of their floundering responses to say, “No.”

Needless to say, such behaviour was not without its consequences. Some teachers may have been convinced this disobedience needed to be flogged out of me, but corporal punishments were not in vogue anymore, and juvenile attempts at public shaming had to suffice. Some parents believed I was a bad influence on their kids.

I have always hoped people would look at this with equanimity and ask themselves who is a worse influence on impressionable minds: a child who seeks to understand before he obeys, and thereby chooses to disobey if he disagrees, or a supposed ‘grown-up’ who cannot even defend his beliefs to the aforementioned child, and thereby sees him as a threat.

“Inevitably it follows that anyone with an independent mind must become ‘one who resists or opposes an authority or established convention’: a rebel
And if enough people come to agree with—and follow—the REBEL, we now have a DEVIL.
Until, of course, still more people agree. And then, finally, we have… GREATNESS.”
― Nicholas Tharcher, Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation

The times have changed, since. We are the grown-ups now. It is time for us to shape the world we have inherited.

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Do we want our children to stay silent, or do we want them to speak out?

It is now for us to decide.

Word of the Week #69:

Tryst

So, this past week has hurtled by, as I have been forced to just sit and watch; not that I was particularly ill or anything of that sort, of course. When am I not ill, anyway…

Nah, I guess there are just some weeks like this one.

It is, however, disconcerting when we consider the fact that the end of the contract with my current publisher is no longer at the horizon—it is now very much in the forefront—and I have barely begun working on the editing and rewriting required to prepare the second edition of Book One.

I will admit, as have many readers already observed, that the first edition could have used a little more time and work than it was afforded. Well, I am wiser now.

To write is human, to edit is divine.
—Stephen King

Add to that the fact that the manuscript of Book Two is still not quite completely ready and one can very well begun to hyperventilate.

Quite honestly, this is one of those few instances where the word ‘deadline’ could literally be true.

But, as I keep proving to myself more than to anyone else, I am made of sterner stuff than that. Moreover, it have always found it easier to concentrate on a task when it begins to seem, to an uninitiated onlooker, overwhelming.

If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.
—Mario Andretti

So, now that the going has gotten tough, it is time for me to get going.

Au revoir.

Word of the Week #68:

Petrichor

Even as I write this, I can hear the clouds rumbling in the background, as the storm comes rolling over from, presumably, the Bay of Bengal.

In stark contrast to Western Literature, which has largely portrayed storms and rains as being dreary and foreboding at best, folk culture closer home has had more favourable response. And, of course, one need not look too far to understand the reasons behind the same.

You see, living in a tropical peninsula almost entirely reliant on the monsoons for survival pretty much guarantees a positive reaction upon the arrival of the rains.

Sure, a couple of weeks in, as we now are, we might sit indoors grumbling about the muddy roads and the stinky shirts and the recurrent network troubles, and the possibilities of going outdoors that might have existed, but for the weather, and yet you will have to admit: You did smile when the scent of the moist earth first wafted into your homes.

It is only fair, I would say. The love for the rain, it is a part of our heritage.

And now that the storm is breaking, what more can we do, but sit indoors with an Agatha Christie in one hand and a warm snack in the other… Really, what more do you need?

 

Word of the Week #67:

Theism

It has always been my conviction that the human mind does not appreciate blank spaces; the ones it cannot fill with truth, it fills with tripe.

And no, I am not talking about haggis…

For instance, the concept of atmospheric pressure was not known to mankind till at least 1640AD, and not correctly understood until 1648AD. How, then, does one explain wind? Why, the answer is quite simple: GOD.

Most ancient cultures attributed a god to every force of nature, with such beliefs being prevalent across geographical divisions, until the rise of the Abrahamic religions and their tenet of monotheism.

Of course, one would expect that, almost five centuries since the Age of Enlightenment, the world would have been long rid of these ancient, and often ludicrous, beliefs. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.

Now, that in itself might not seem like an issue, until we come to the realisation that the mind, once filled with tripe, no longer has space left for truth.

What is tripe? What is truth? That remains the question.

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
—Isaac Assimov

Word of the Week #62:

Canter

Okay, so this post is in response to the post I made last week

It feels really odd when I say something that seems to contradict what I said exactly one week ago, but I guess it does need to be said.

You see, anyone who knows me well enough will agree that there are times when I immerse myself so deep into my work that I just cannot stop drowning. Of course, that is still prime fodder for artistic creativity, but the artist himself must pay a hefty price. Lives of artists like Sylvia Plath and, in more recent history, Amy Winehouse should serve as a reminder.

As often debated by a particularly incandescent, albeit fictional, pair of contemporary artists, is true art a flash of beauty burning bright and then vanishing in a moment, or is it something eternal that contains our soul and is passed down to our descendants? That is the question always on our minds.

Do I dare say I have the answer? Not in the slightest.

All I do know is that a horse can only gallop so much, before its legs and its heart gives way. And I still have miles to go.

So, in conclusion, we do have an update. Book Two might take longer than I earlier expected, but that may be for the best.