As Good As It Gets

The greyest area of my thinking must have to do with purpose.  That is why, I would like you to believe, I write. A closer look might reveal the denial of mortality, the desire for approval and acknowledgement or the need to hear myself speak. At the end of the day, I know that I write to keep a record, as close as possible to the truth of my being, of my extraordinary life, an extra-ordinariness that has nothing to do with me – but rather the extra-ordinariness that is reflected back by all that surrounds me, the extra-ordinariness which some claim is nothing but a projection of my mind. Tonight I write about who I have become, without judging how or why. Tomorrow I celebrate my treadmill marathon. This is as good as it gets. No jokes.

ship of theseus
Boat on Godavari

During my teens, I used to write a lot of poetry. Books full of it. Much of it was mechanical emulation of the romantics and the avant garde, right down to multi-layered classical allusions and synesthetic mimicry. Where I ran out of source material, I invented it, sometimes masterfully. When I read my adolescent notebooks today, I wonder how, more than why, I indulged in such juvenile academic calisthenics. Yet, there was a strangely refreshing spontaneity and tension about it, which now visits me rarely - like a new budget airline setting up shop. Of course, I am also able to see how I was exploring the power of writing, how I was trying to seek and strengthen my own voice. From another perspective, also that of writing, it is a record of my evolution, an essential and perhaps private chapter of my incredible journey. If I have to seek a parallel, however, it would have to be that of painkillers.

I was barren but aware of a truth within that I had no access to, and I was trying to use all that I encountered to try and divine that well, similar to how the intensity of mother-in-law/daughter-in-law soap operas help cope with the vapid selfishness of the small world outside us. I have grown since then, as only a novice can claim, in my understanding of the art, the craft, and my content. Yet, the moments that would earlier have translated themselves into verse began to be spent more and more in silent wonder and thankful prayer. With time, and personal accomplishment, I began to shed what I considered baggage, to let go of the need to fit in and feel a part of. For a good part of my life, I became content with just being in the presence of the mystery of life. The artist in me, one could say, learned to see, and in sight, turned into a monk.

SoCh - Taking Social Change beyond just thinking about it

This is to let you all know that I am alive and well. The absence of updates on this blog is primarily due to the fact that I am traveling, on work and for pleasure, a vacation of sorts after ages. However, there is a lot brewing at the community that you have built around the work I am trying to do here. One of the projects that has shaped up over the last several months is SoCh, a (presently) Hyderabad-based platform for connecting and promoting real change-makers. No, we do not have a website, and no, there are no membership charges.

SoCh is an experiment in community building that brings together innovative change-makers and gives them a platform to present their work to an audience made of media, bloggers, writers, community workers and thought leaders from diverse backgrounds. Our hope is that this networking opportunity will strengthen and broadcast the work being done by these amazing individuals and organizations. Of course, this will be possible only with your love and support.

The first public event of SoCh takes place on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad. Please do come if you are in Hyderabad, and if not, please do share this post or the Facebook event page with your friends in Hyderabad. We look forward to seeing you on August 3. Here is a brief outline of what you can expect on that evening.

Jazz Around The World

Jazz is universally acknowledged as an American art form. In truth, though, America only provided the circumstances in which jazz could be born and nurtured. It really is a coming together of influences from all over the world, being churned in the melting pot of post-colonial America, resulting in a music that is plaintive yet frolicky, deeply structured yet spontaneous. What is also interesting that jazz is really music of victory - victory over oppression and the unfairness of the world. And jazz has found a home wherever people have stood up against their circumstances. This aspect of jazz is not commonly spoken about. I strive to do this in my writing and and it was a pleasant surprise when Prasad, +Prasad Np, the man behind the immensely popular travel site, Desitraveler, asked me if I could turn one of the talks I gave recently into a guest post for his blog. It took me a while, but I got there, and here is the post I wrote for him, putting three of my favorite pursuits together - literature, travel, and music.

The post retraces the route taken by Phileas Fogg in the classic Jules Verne novel - Around the World in 80 Days and listens in to how jazz has been owned and adopted by cultures across the world. And yes, it includes a whole lot (80 minutes) of music!

Read the whole post at Desitraveler: Jazz Around The World>>
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