{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Random Thoughts

Sometimes after losing all hopes, we feel free like we have finished all work. Since the work cannot be done, so it is 'done with' in a way. This feeling is not a satisfying one but nonetheless it a feeling of break from what we really don't like to do.

Sometimes, rather most of times, we have all sorts of incoherent ideas coming to our mind and we try to suppress them to think what we are supposed to. With time we try to master this art of suppression to a level we even didn't notice that we are suppressing and start falsely assuming those thoughts never came.

Most of the times, we try to be different in what ever way because we don't want to be lost in crowd. We try to make a style of our own, for which we intelligently copy from others whom we think are different, thus making them common. Some ppl even refer to it as fashion.

Most of the time, we are on an effort to change others, intentionally or otherwise. We discuss what we believe in, protect it, propagate it and preach it. We are always on a look out to effect others and change them.

Some of us, find complexity of things interesting while others like simplicity. We try to convert every thing to which ever form we like. We try to find simple theory for complex things and try to complexify simple things hence disregarding both the simplicity and complexity of things.

For most of us, life works on the combination of hints and associated guesswork. Most of the time we fail to get the puzzles and all the time we try to fit some answers to the puzzles.

Monday, October 25, 2004

We Change

Its a different question whether it is for good or bad but we change. Some things in life try to kill you, those which fail, change you. If you change, you are not the same i.e. your previous self is killed and the mission is partially accomplished.

This every day killing is not a senti or warning stuff. It is like you get killed and you kill others and yourself. This bloodless killing is more important than the ordinary killings as we survive to bear to pain (or pleasure) of it. Some ppl like to change and other resist it or yet others donot care and change anyway. If we change everyday, even if a bit only, are we going to change fully to some other person. The thought scares in same way as I am going to die one day. If nothing is my own (I'm not talking about the material things) and what I think is 'myself' is going to change sooner or later to probably something which I hate today, the day is not far, I will hate my previous self. Its like hating some other person, just this is not going to harm the other as the 'hated one' is already dead. Sounds that, we are many persons at a time, one in dying state and other in making... sounds good.

They also say "which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger", probably they are talking about change. I am not taking about the 'Change for the sake of it', its shit and as bad as lip synching on stage, fooling yourself along with thousand others. Intentional changes are not bad. They may be efforts to improve, its like killing yourself for good. But one thing I have assumed is that the pre-self is totally killed in this killing, but there must be some old blood left to revolt for its survival. These types of 'Civil wars' may not always result in revolutions but will definitely result in other changes.

So the bad news is that we are going to be killed and the good news is that we will survive.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

About Teachers

Again back to school time. I am thinking to start with some funny anecdotes of the school time and some other things . I have forgotten many of them and my sense of humor has corrupted to an incorrigible state since then, so the incidents/interpretation may be not exact. One more thing that although I am making fun of my teachers here.... but thats it, its not being disrespectful to them (ok some of them)...

I am starting with our Maths teacher. Mr. Ashok Singhal was a funny figure with a ‘bold’ sense of humor. He had some irritating habits like dividing the black board into three parts as soon as he enters the class and using students from three rows as volunteers to rub the blackboard.
It was irritating/interesting bit because of following few reasons:
1) It was supposed to be a competition between the rows.
2) Ashok sir has kept nicknames and picked up students randomly from the rows by calling nicknames and nicknames keep on changing (Nick name for ‘Ram Gupta’ can be ‘Ramlal’ or ‘Ramu’)
3) Since all were supposed to rub the BB cleanly (competition?), it results in high jump by over-enthusiatic girls and sure shot fun, smaller boys also tried to jump but Ashok sir stopped them, he definitely had a soft corner for Guys and their fun :)).
4) Who so ever, rubbed date (lefttop thing on BB), has to write it back and since all this cause delays, that row was penalized and there is long list of penalties, his class was all about chalking, rubbing and dusting.
There are some funny conversations in class with Ashok sir. Here is one (try to get the humor).
Sir (teaching moment, torque and couple): Do anyone know what do we mean by Couple.
Sir (seeing no one is answering): Chalo, tell me what do you mean by couple generally.
Sir (pointing to the naughty boy): Yes, You tell me.Naughty boy stands and Smiles shyly again.
Sir (with silly expression): OK OK, sit down.., I understand your feelings.

Next in line are our English teachers. Lets start with Black mother. She is motherly in attitude and Black in color, and hence the name. There are other theories also. One says that students started with kaali maa, but see our school is a so-called english medium school and Black Mother was our English teacher, with due respect to these facts,her name was duely changed to black mother. Other theory was that she was imported from Africa and was mother of Nelson Mandela , so Black mother. There were other uninteresting theories about it too. There were other names also like 'Moorni' (Peahen), because of her 'chaal', out-of-parlor look and iridescent sari colors. Her names are all we can talk about her.

And one of other English teachers was Popli madam, I donot remember her real name. But even if you see her for the first time, you will shout POPLI, the name is just apt - to say the least. Popli means someone who has no teeth. But Popli madam had teeth, but she had never shown them to anyone, even not to 'Bruno'. Students had figured out the teeth thing by the grunting sound she used to make on seeing other English teachers especially Black mother. Popli madam used to claim that she has taught in very good schools and to very intelligent students in past and because of husband's transfers she used to keep giving up lucrative jobs and her career has ruined to an extent where she has to teach us. She handled this odd situation very intelligently by not teaching us at all and keeping her stds. All her classes were monologues on how her family life is, how brilliant her sons are, how she once met Hema Malini, how funny her pet 'Bruno' behaves, how she wanted to be a doctor, how her brother had written a wonderful book, how her husband is devoted to his duty, how he neglects other duties, how many different saris she has, how she hates to show off, how she didn't like teachers with no sense of dress and etiquette's, etc... But it was all interesting stuff, at least till she starts teaching.

Next teachers to write on are our Hindi teachers. Lets start with Talwar ma'am (her surname), her obvious nickname was chhuri (knife), and she personified her name. She was famous for backbiting against students in front of their Parents on 'Parents Day' (Although, technically it was not backbiting as the student was there sitting, actually is was worse that that). She used to tell all the horror stories to the parents like a bollywood masala movie with comments like 'Main aur kya batao, aap issi se pooch lijiye' pointing to the ward.

Next in the row is Anu Madam. She is the one who initiated my interest in Hindi. She taught me for three consecutive years, ie 8th to 10th. She used to put lot of emphasis on handwriting, thats where I developed some love for calligraphy. One more thing she is famous for- was scaring for the boards’ exam (more or less every teacher do, but she had mastered that art). Usually she used to take classes from 9th std, but for us, all the boards-is-spooky thing started from 8th class. We are scared to a level that we believed what Anu Madam was saying. She was just saying to put all our efforts in Hindi, because it is our national language, if you wont, who will... She could have joined BJP or Shiv sena and taught them a trick or two. Except for this, she was an excellent teacher, always came prepared to teach and expected that preparedness from us too. Yes, forgot to mention, her nickname was Hitler.

RP Singh Sir, PTI and Pitai Teacher: As a true Jaat PTI, he knew only following english sentences:
1) Boys, Make a straight line
2) On the mark, get set go...
3) Move fast
4) Come here
5) Go out
6) Hands up
7) What is your name
8) Left right left...
9) I slap tightly, ask him

MK Gupta Sir, Physics teacher: He was self-proclaimed Military man, used to dress like Govinda.
Quotable quotes: 1) If I sneeze in the class today, the whole city will know tomorrow, the world is a small place (Its like making love to the 'city' and saying 'You mean world to me').
2) I can give you in writing that this question will come in the Annual exam, and if doesn't come I will stop teaching (Its a win-win situation)

He is that kind of irritating teacher who used to ask questions, when asked a qusetion.
An example ...
MKG (reading from his notes): The nearest star to Sun is Alpha Centuri.
Student: Sir, what is the approx. distance from sun/earth?
MKG (Finding the info is not in notes): kya tumhe yahan se dilli ka distance pata hai, Alpla centuri ki baat karte ho.
MKG will well be writing poetry than teaching physics, a potential sher from MKG:
Khud to duriyoon ke maane bhi jaante nahin, bas badi badi baat karte hain
Mujhse poochte hain woh duriyoon ke sabab, dil jalane ki baat karte hain

This list is incomplete without mentioning Shobha Ma'am. She taught us history for two years (9th and 10th). My idea of a good teacher has her as template. Her characteristics are must have for a teacher. What she develops in teaching is interest, a sense of inquisitiveness. Her effort to teach is one of the most honest efforts, I have come across. She took us from Stone Age to World war to Modern World history. She used to use maps to teach history, like at a point of time where all in the world something was happening and how it affected each other. She used to act in the class like how Neanderthal man used to walk or how Hitler used to talk, thus bringing much required life to dead history. She used to draw parallels between different times and different persons in history. Its very difficult to think how she used to teach the same things, with same interest year after year, without loosing interest herself.

This list of teachers is long, but its enough for now, I’ll be BACK :)

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I went to lots of places in Hyderabad this month. It included Salarjung Museum where I saw some of most beautiful pieces of art.

I was interested in calligraphy in my teens and just thought good handwriting is calligraphy, later I learnt that its much more than that and tried some styles (in devnagari) but was not able to gather much interest. It resurfaced that day when I saw some of the excellent Persian, Urdu and Arabic Calligraphy work at Salarjung. I was not able to read anything but those handwritten manuscripts are real work of art. Then there were one of my favorite forms of art, miniature paintings, in Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari and Deccani styles. Also, there were very delicate works on wood, ivory and jades. But something that mesmerized me was a sculpture by Italian sculptor G.H Benzoni, named 'Veiled Rebecca'. It was truly remarkable sculpture with Rebecca's marvelous face clearly visible through a flimsy/translucent marble veil. Even after seeing her 2-3 times it looked that milk is poured on her and it has frozen and it is not marble. What a beauty...

I have recently seen (about two months ago) a film by French Director Nicolas Philibert named Louvre City (La Ville Louvre). It showed people hanging paintings, reorganizing rooms, and moving work around at Louvre Gallery in Paris, its more like a documentary. Little by little characters (workers at Louvre) appear and weave together the thread of a narrative. From studios to stacks and reserves containing thousands of picture, sculptures, works of art... this is the discovery of a city with a city. I remember an interesting discussion between two of the workers about a sculpture that whether it is by Michelangelo or someone else as the identity tag was missing, they were discussing about its beard style to figure it out. There were scenes how every thing was put perfectly on walls like a mural. Its showed how biggest of the paintings and the smallest of the artifacts are taken care of. It has a 10 min uncut scene (movie time is about 80-90 min) of how a broken pot (of the size of an small apple) is treated, marked, bought from basement labs to the top floor through a labyrinth of stairs and lifts very carefully. The broken pot was wrapped in a white cloth like a small delicate creature and was placed on the top floor with thousands of its counterparts.

I am not drawing any comparison between Salarjung and Louvre. Louvre is much bigger in content and space, and boosts to be house of paintings like 'Monalisa' and 'The Last Supper', but the love for art and preserving it is the same.

One more thing, I got the hindi (actually Sanskrit) word for 'Gallery' there (I was not knowing it before), and hence the title of this blog.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Extended Schooling

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught -Oscar Wilde

We are all send to schools when young. With time every thing is modeled as schools. When a person grows up, he wants school-type-spoon-feeding in every sphere, and people are ready to feed him with whatever they like (or have) at every possible opportunity. Some of the times, because of this schooling all around, we may end up becoming more open to things when they come as easy as schooling rather than where we need to dig and find out. We need crystal clear, easily digestible answers whenever there exist some questions to disturb our equilibrium and this schooling comes handy.

Extended schooling should be checked, especially when it comes to some basic questions of life and its ways. Due to the inherent problem of being one-way preaching, it never leads to a healthy discussion. There are benefits of schooling at young age because it was assumed then, that all the thinking is to be done by the teacher/preacher and he/she is intelligent enough to answer our questions and honest enough to raise questions both for and against the thought. When we grow up all this good looking schooling contradicts with the basic idea of free thinking, firstly because it preaches, and secondly because it encourages us not to think (rather think in 'their' way). Its like saying " We have done all the thinking and ground work for you, you should be now ready to use and benefit from it". You may feel vindicated by outsourcing all your worries/problems and getting all the comfort, but you may indeed be comforting with some comfortable falsehood. All this brainwash of making you light and free, do cost a thing. You are living 'your' life with someone else' thoughts and prejudices.

Extended schooling is dangerous in more ways than one. It comes (or forced) to us as a friendly thing and all this disservice is done in the name of giving and receiving. This type of distributed architecture of thinking here and working there leads to slavery of very basic form, slavery of mind.

The antidote to it is to be skeptically receptive i.e. analyze before you inhale.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Desire is one aspect of life which is almost always seen in bad light. Most of the religious philosophies put a theory of restrain when it comes to desire. Some of the branches of Buddhism/Hinduism say "desire is the root of suffering and stands in the way of enlightenment". Lets leave the second part of the statement as I am not clear what they mean by 'enlightenment' (Can be discussed separately, check out this blog :))). We will stick to desire here.

First of all, why a theory of restrain? Can we not flourish with a unconstrained approach. One reason may be because constrain puts limits to equations and used to get more quick (rather easy) answers.

Its difficult but lets imagine a world without an iota of desire. People donot have any motives. People live and die. They donot try to improve themselves, their surroundings simply because all are surviving. But with limited resources, increasing population will imbalance the equation, and if we say they donot even have the desire to multiply, they will die down anyway (assuming they cannot live forever). So to satisfy this equation, either resources should grow or only some of the people should survive. But who should survive, the one who have desire to or the one without it. Obviously, the set of people having desire to survive. Others will not. So desire is as elementary an idea that will decide our survival.
One more striking thing which comes up is that the religious philosophies which preach to shun desire are ultimately aimed at ending all life. Seems strange.

If we move from basic desire to survive to more complex desires like to create, to improve, to invent, to discover, to question, to think.., the bigger picture will emerge. Putting restrain on desire directly put restrain on our growth and freedom. Then why all this bad-talk about desire.

One of the reason may be as desire is the driving force for all (all good and all bad). It may be viewed as a necessary evil. Again the moral question of good and bad surges. The desire to kill a person is bad. The desire to love is good. But not everything is as black and white as this. Is desire to compete good or bad? Is desire to make money good or bad? Is desire to progress good or bad ? Here comes the restrain theory whose non conservative approach says everything in moderate amount is not bad. But this theory is flawed in this respect also because of its vagueness, an infinite possibility of misuse by the chosen few and because of a direct conflict with the basic idea of freedom.

So here again we have more questions than answers. Desire is essential but 'what type of' and 'what amount of' desire is necessary or can be tolerated in a society. Will moderating/policing desire bring more evil than good. What happens if your desire to do something becomes your passion (Theory of restrain fails utterly here)... What if survival is not our primary desire. ... ?? What about self fulfillment ... ??

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Loss of innocence.

I read it some where about the loss of innocence, "You will never realize till the time you have lost it". Looked like a Catch-22 situation. Hence some pondering here.

Loss of innocence is a universal feeling which all of us have been through sometime, to some extent in life. Not everyone can exactly recall that moment when he realized that the world is not as pleasant a place which he had thought of before, but nearly everyone has a vague idea of it . Its like a bad ending to a childhood fairly tale.

First of all, lets see the what innocence means. According to Dictionary.com, Innocence is :The state, quality, or virtue of being innocent, as:
a) Freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil.
b) Guiltlessness of a specific legal crime or offense.
c) Freedom from guile, cunning, or deceit; simplicity or artlessness.
d) Lack of worldliness or sophistication; naiveté.
e) Lack of knowledge or understanding; ignorance.
f) Freedom from harmfulness; inoffensiveness.

First thing to notice is that it may come from lack of knowledge but it is a state of freedom from sin, guilt, deceit and worldliness. To be innocent is to be simple and artless. And we usually associate innocence to children and the young. Also, being innocent is being harmless.

Then what is Loss of innocence. Does it mean its a process of moving from childhood to adulthood or a state of mind..

To start with, during the early days our notions of good and bad are still in formation. As told by parents/teachers we consider them so. Our circle of friends and acquaintances increases and we try to change overselves according to the notions of the society. Also we think ourselves about various aspects of life and form opinions. These alterations rephrase our ideas about ourselves and others. Now we have two blurred pictures about life, one of the ideal one and the second is the the real one. The ideal picture has everything in black and white. Real picture is harsher with crude realities about life like you need to earn good to lead a decent life, there is competition waiting for you in every sphere of life, people are not always what they say, you cannot afford to be true to everyone, and being a human being you have your share of worries, guilts and responsibilities. Clash starts between the two. Most of the times the real view emerges as a winner but all this tussle results in cracking of the ideal picture, even if not fully but beyond use. This marks the beginning of loss of innocence. For some ppl it may take lots of time. For some it may not even break to a unusable state.

In cases where it breaks, it is painful and as any genuine pain, it lingers on for whole life.

Now some questions which arise are "should we save innocence", "Is innocence meant to be lost", "can we be innocents as we grow up, i.e. Can an innocent survive in society", "Can loss of innocence be associated with realization of truth and progress on urge to learn, work, and act upon the necessary needs for survival".

These question will require some pondering, and there are strong argumnets on either side. On the first view, the idea of innocence seems too romantic to lose , but after some thought it appears too vulnerable to break anyway. The loss may be confusing, and even painful but seems very important for the discovery of the true human nature and the so called 'real world'.