Anna Hazare, Batman, You and Me!

"No, you don't understand. That is what the name is called. The name really is The Aged Aged Man. The song is called Ways and Means but that is only what it is called." (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There)

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. (Thomas Wayne, to young Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins)

Anna Hazare and his band of followers continue with their struggle to get their foot in the door. They earnestly, and perhaps rightly, believe that they represent the frustrations of the Indian people with having to deal with a corrupt and arrogant system in every aspect of daily life. After witnessing the loyalty of political parties, the media, and the government to the cause of eradicating graft from public life, I thought I would write about Batman.

I was impressed more than others with The Dark Knight Rises. While the trilogy is centered on the superhero theme, the closing film pulls in several metaphysical threads that are very relevant to the evolving consciousness of our times. In addition, I missed Robin right up to the very end. At the screening I attended, youngsters clapped, cheered and whistled when Batman first makes an appearance and every time he trounces the villains. It felt good but it felt strange. When I shared it later, my friends told me I was being elitist and cynical. But it was strange to hear an auditorium full of people cheering for Batman as if he were a Pawan Kalyan or a Salman Khan. It was strange when I contrasted this with the very Eastern acceptance that we display towards crime, injustice and corruption, towards exploitation, marginalization and abuse. In the face of my friends' criticism, I shut my mouth, and realized that maybe we are better off cheering at fictional superheroes in a dark auditorium.

You Are Not Alone - A Letter

Woke up this morning and couldn’t stand my own writing or the person I have become as a poet and an artist. I wake up many mornings feeling this way. Drowning in a sea of no thank you’s and overdue bills, I am unable to bring myself to look at the words that I put on paper. I cannot write “droplets of water/trembling leaves,” I cannot write about love, and I cannot write a check that will not bounce. Lying awake into the morning, wondering why I cannot be any of the things that all about me are so comfortably, my questions bounce around within my being like footsteps in an empty apartment late at night. I lie awake many nights feeling this way and dread how I will feel when I rise the next morning. Why am I so powerless in the face of this obsessive urge in a world that seems to have abandoned art to an island of its own inhabitants?

Old Man by the Fireside by Paritosh Sen, 1968, Mixed media on Board

I recently wrote a post about poets who blog. I cannot express in words the admiration I have for people who choose to live the life of a poet even though I puzzle at why one would do so. It is like choosing a chronic and fatal illness. Those who are reading this and wondering what I am talking about are the lucky ones. The life of one who chooses to be a poet is one endless struggle, not just with words and a career, but also with why one must do what one must do. I saluted the poets that I wrote about in that post by doing something I have never done - using my own paintings and drawings as images for that post; as soon as I did so, I was seized with the urge to take them off. There will be some of you who will wonder – what does he mean?

Does Facebook Cause Depression?

The definition of society has undergone some change in the last two decades. Apart from email and instant messages, Facebook, Twitter and other online social networking platforms have stepped in to replace the personal face-to-face interactions that used to make up almost all of social interactions. This comes with the ability to look closely at the life and activities of other people, some of whom you might not even know on a personal level. The normal trend is to portray only the bright side of life and to leave out the conflicts and strife that day to day life is for most people. So what you get to see is a bunch of happy faces in exotic locales doing fun things. When you compare it with your own life, it makes your own struggles seem huge. This is believed to lead to low self esteem and a general resentment against what life has to offer you.

The prevalence of the term Facebook Depression is an indicator as to how widespread this phenomenon is today. Here is a closer look by guest blogger Kristie Lewis at the validity of this alarming development.

Facebook Depression

Facebook Depression? A Tale of Two Opinions

I never really paid much attention to how social media supposedly affected its users until the issue became impossible to further ignore. After hearing about a rampant wave of young-adult suicides, due in part to cyber-bullying and a new phenomenon called "Facebook Depression," I became extremely concerned for my emotional well-being. Even though I was a healthy, emotionally stable adult, I began to wonder if my social media usage could afflict me without me even being aware. So I set out to learn how Facebook affects the emotional states of its users.

Throughout my quest to uncover a definitive answer, I have encountered two varied opinions. According to some studies, Facebook has no correlation to causing a depressive state in its users. On the other hand, there are other studies that believe it can cause minor to significant depression in its users. For those interested in the debatable linkage between depression and Facebook, let's take a look into the two stances.

The Good In Me, The Good In You

Aarathi Selvan of Between Life’s Doings tagged me in her post The Good In You and The Good In Me way back in March 2012. Aarathi has been a long time inspiration for me with her insightful work on value creation, spirituality and parenting. Most of my explorations into the mindfulness school of thought have been through her reflections.

This tag meme invites you to share the best of your work in specific categories. I spent the greater part of the next couple of days enjoying the links to her work, and promised to myself that I would do the same. I would remember, but only at the strangest times; while waiting for a bus to take me to the second hand book market on a Sunday morning, while being nagged by my Mom for not redacting my work for publishing, or while trying out a new complicated recipe with the missus.

Perhaps I was not willing to look at the good in me. Perhaps I was embarrassed that what I thought was good was really no good. More likely I was plain lazy. Whatever the truth might be, I stand (sit, actually, and very poorly too) here today a victor, as I attempt to honor the tag Aarathi sent my way.

Read on to see what I think is good in me, and to see my list of those I would like to pass this tag on to.

Dil Se: Secrets of the Hindi Poetry Blogger’s Heart

“The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
The internet and the social media hold the key to building the future that great thinkers like Buddha, Russell, Tagore, Marx and Lennon dreamed of. It has made it possible for thinkers, writers, musicians and artists to share their thoughts and art easily, quickly and widely. The subsequent emergence of regional language interfaces for computers and browsers has been an important breakthrough that allows people across the planet to transcend boundaries without losing their identities. One of the most amazing phenomenons in this sphere has been the evolution of Hindi poetry blogging.

I do believe that there is a line that separates creativity and populism, and at the cost of being branded a snooty conservative, I stick to my belief.

I chanced across Hindi poetry blogging through the Indiblogger network, and it was not out of my personal attraction toward Hindi poetry. I looked up the people who were reading and commenting on my work, and to my surprise, I found several of them were Hindi poets blogging in the Devnagri script. In spite of having learned my Ara, Balia, Chhapra, Darbhangas on the playgrounds of what was then Bihar and growing up with Lot Pot, I still struggle to read Devnagri, and a lot of the lyrical and syntactical devices of Hindi-Urdu poetry are totally lost on me. Yet as I read their work, often sporadically, since much of the time, I would not understand (or even be able to read through) what they were writing, I realized that some of it was at the level of the Prasoon-Joshi-Vishal-Dadlani kind of stuff that no Indian can escape any more. Not surprisingly, much of it was better.

As I got familiar with these blogs, I began to recognize an important trend, and that was how the idea for this post began to form in my mind. I decided to find out more about these bloggers and their fierce determination to change their world, one poem at a time. As our dialog evolved, I came out enriched not only by these poets’ incredible work, but also by their commitment to their craft. Join me as they share their journeys.

Subho's Jejune Diet Reviewed by Lucifer House Inc.

Subho’s Jejune Diet was reviewed by The Fool of Lucifer House Inc., one of the most astute observers of the blogging scene and writing in general. Do take a look at what he has to say about your favorite corner of cyberspace.

When I was a child, there used to be a physics lecturer living in a nearby flat. She used to gather the local children every Saturday evening to teach them Indian cultural values. I distinctly remember once she asked us a question, “What are the two things that you can freely give to others without any loss to yourself.” The answer was fire from your lamp and knowledge. One of the greatest boons of internet is the ease with which people from different ends of the world can share knowledge. Whereas corporates seek to erect walls, hoard the knowledge and extract their pound of flesh, one must hail the yeoman service of bloggers who spend their valuable time sharing their knowledge with the whole world.

Read the whole review, warts and all, over at Lucifer House Inc.>>

Eega: Metaphor of our Times

(Update: As expected, this film titled Makkhi is available to audiences across India in Hindi releasing October 12, 2012)

This post is an invitation to all who read this, regardless of your familiarity with Telugu or Tamil, the two languages in which the film is released, to go and watch S.S. Rajamouli's new Telugu movie Eega / Naan Ee. This animation aided fantasy has everything going for it to become a national phenomenon. It is the story of how a fly takes revenge. Do not be surprised if midway through the film you find yourself clapping and cheering – for a fly.

I have seen only one of director Rajamouli’s earlier films, Magadheera, and I am puzzled to date why that didn’t turn into a national phenomenon. I hardly speak any Telugu, and I understand less of it than a preschooler does. Further, though I had been waiting for this film impatiently, the fact that I have not watched any of Rajamouli’s other films (and I know that they are not only contemporary cinematic landmarks but also pack in a massive social punch) should give readers a sense of my objectivity.

10 Things I Learned From my Mother

My mother is impossible. People say I take after her in this regard, but what do they know? They should meet my Dad to know what I mean.

She turns 75 today, and on this occasion, here is a lovely tribute to her by my brother.

Ten things I learned from my mother... a tribute on her 75th birthday!

My mother turns a glorious 75 today and this is a tribute to her spirit. We never get to choose our parents, but we do choose to understand, accept, admire, and respect them. In the last 35 years, I have gone through a journey of doing all of that with my mother! Here is a list of ten things I have learned from her and will always carry with me all my life: (Read more)

Read the whole post over at Buddha Bar>>

Sundays Are What You Make Of Them

In the mad rush to have more and do more, we often fail to attend to our real purpose, to be all that we were meant to be. Our greed, our willful ignorance and our insecurities keep us from listening to our hearts and choosing the path that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number. There is no best time to see if you can listen to that calling but I have found that Sunday mornings tend to have that stillness that lets you hear it a little more clearly.

I wrote a guest post on what Sundays mean for me over at A-Musing, one of the wittiest blogs ever. Do take a look and let me know what you think.

Read the whole post over at A-Musing>>
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