Push Walls.

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Stop for a moment,

Still, the movement.

Drink up, look at the stars

As the sun recedes,

The lights dim, and brighten

In a constant burn,

Helium combustion

Constant decadence

As people shine, in the night sky,

In the darkness and the lack of light.

 

The fragrance of decoction wafts through

As you still,

Still all movement and stop for the light.

 

The wind flows through the air

Reason doesn’t compel

Clocks tick,

Time drags us into oblivion,

The end shall come.

 

And yet, you push walls to find,

A reason for it all.

 

Water flows,

Reason doesn’t compel,

The leaves flutter in the flowing wind,

In the night that turns slowly into day.

Without reason,

Purposeless, time drifts,

And yet,

Yet,

You push walls to find,

A reason for it all.

 

Insipid thoughts bundle through,

You compare yourselves

To other people,

People in your life,

Creaking of floorboards, voices of thousands

Thousands that trudge their way

Onto tops of mountains

In the thrift of the thunderstorm,

Pushing walls, to find,

A reason for it all.

 

You attempt to create wounds upon nature,

Blisters that burst, pus that spurts

And you sit in the middle, to claim it your own.

 

Wolves howl in the night, without reason

Light shines, without reason

Darkness destroys, without reason

Life lives, without reason,

The winds blow, without reason,

And you man, attempt to find reason,

Keeping yourselves on pedestals above the rest,

To think you are a God,

As you worship other Gods,

And rear sheep for slaughter

You try to find a reason, without reason.

And as death knocks down the doors that hurt

An eventual push that you seem to make

And with a gasp, as you lose the last breath

You make a leap, as you fret

Reasons not found, as death claims you first.

 

And as you die, you realise,

That if you hadn’t wasted it all away,

In a search for truth,

You could’ve been the flowing water,

You could’ve been the blowing wind,

You could’ve been the wolf, howling into the night,

You could’ve been the light

And you lost it all, in a search, for purpose.

And now, dead, purposeless you drift,

Thinking of what you could’ve had,

Lying beneath the stars.

 

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What you are is what you love.

Forgive the painful metaphor, but seriously, what do you do when the brunt of pressure and work and everything else is balanced on those Atlas-sized shoulders of yours?

What do you do when your eyes are red and blurred and you can’t see anything through them?

What do you do when you lie on the bed at night and realize that sleep is not coming to you?

What do you do, when you have nothing else to do?

I’ll tell you – you do what you love to do. You do what you wish you could be doing whenever you want to or have to do something.

You turn to what you would call – Your hobby.

To every human alive, a hobby means something innate.

And I believe – “Thy hobby define thou.” What you are, is clearly defined by what you love.

If you like sitting around nature, you could be a writer, or maybe a botanist.

If you like standing atop tall buildings, you just might be a tightrope walker.

And just like billions of people in this world, I personally have hobbies too. And so, because I have a platform, I want to write about what they mean to me.

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Someone once asked another person – “Do you like music?”

The other person replied – “Do you like breathing?”

And I think this is the perfect metaphor to describe what music means to me. And speaking figuratively, music is the universe. It is in the supernova explosions in galaxies far away. It is in the fusion reactions of the sun. It is in the air of the earth and the skies above. It is in the birds singing in the hours of the morning. It is in the chirruping of the crickets in the darkness of the night. It is in the fluttering of the pigeons as they dart about for grain. It is in the beating of the heart that cries for love. It is in the veins and the nerves and the brain at the end of it all. It is in the electrons that move at light speed in every atom of the universe and it is in every tiny quark that explains to us that existence is not small.

If you are alive, you have known music.

Music strengthens the weak. It softens the hard. It makes happiness. It makes sorrow too.

And in the words of one of my favourite bands, “Words are weapons of the terrified” and music to us all, is essentially words. It is a weapon that draws us out of our fears.

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What makes us “human”?

This is one of the most baffling questions, if I ask you the way I just did. But our social science textbook screams out the answer in bold letters in the third grade itself:

“MAN IS A SOCIAL ANIMAL” – The Aristotle comment that follows us into commerce and after.

And this is true, because we need people. People change us, teach us and in the end, define us. It is the people who cause us to learn from the greatest teacher – EXPERIENCE.

And this brings me to magic. I believe in magic. I believe that somewhere in the world, our minds can be trained, and directed at objects to induce marvelous occurrences. If it wasn’t for this, why would the word magic ever have come to the dictionary? I play with magic, only to tap a higher power, because today, this world, doesn’t believe. And belief, I believe is the language of the Universe. Belief is an experience. Magic is an experience.

Because if I show a magic trick to a small child, the reaction is the best sort of reaction anyone could hope for. Because they look for the magic. If I make a mistake, it is ignored as they actually believe that it is possible. That magic is real. And it is for this belief that I live. There is a famous saying – “Magic is the only honest profession. The magician promises to fool you. And he does.”

I seek to express that belief of my beliefs to the people of this world. Love in the eyes of the people. I sought to capture that light. I seek to harness stories of aeons past – in a small snap of frozen time, in an empty space. The illusion that is life and the miracles that come in it – And I want to “grab” this universe in the “Shutter” that is life.

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I wish to leave my mark upon this world, because we mean something on this tiny planet in this vast galaxy which is a part of a greater galaxy which belongs to the Universe that may as well have been imagined by someone in another planet in another galaxy of another universe (quoting Brain in a Vat).

“LOVE AND THE LIGHTS

THAT’S WHAT WE STAND FOR.”

– Sucker for Pain (Suicide Squad)

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The Coffee One

Picture a beautiful morning.

The moment you wake, you sit up and stare out the window into the trees and the buildings. You see the sun making an appearance from the corners of the visible horizon. A cool breeze blows through the window onto your face. You take in a deep breath with closed eyes and notice the existent fragrance of the dew-dropped plant life in the atmosphere around you.

There is suddenly an invasion. The breeze morphs into a wind. The wind touches you. You like it at first, but suddenly you feel cold. You turn off the fan that you had turned on the previous night. Then the sun brings comfort as its rays dawn on you suddenly. You now experience a mixed feeling of warmth amidst the cold; all of a sudden, a door opens.

Someone you love walks through that door, holding a cup of steaming coffee. There is now a wall that has been created by the fragrance of the dew, but suddenly, you notice another scent that breaks through the superficial barrier of your nostrils. It is a warm bitter-sweet  aroma. The musky taste of coffee creeps down your nasal canal into your mouth and you feel the salivary glands acting up. With a newfound happiness, you greedily pick up the mug and put it to your lips. The taste overcomes you.

 

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The caffeine makes you realise that you now have a new lease on life and as you bask in the youth of the morning, you realise what ‘bliss’ actually means. As your taste buds  are satisfied, your eyes now lie strained on the newspaper that lies on your lap.

Then you know the truth – It feels good to be alive.

“I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.”

– T.S.Eliot

Kindle a fire, burn paper?

 

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For the past few months, I have been feeling a certain anxiety. All my life, books have meant something to me. When there was anger in me, they would soothe my soul. When I would put my hand on the hardbound covers and run my fingers over it and feel the sweet smell of the paper waft through my nostrils, I would be brought into the most perfect sense of calm.

Markus Zusak has captured this most beautifully in his most famous work – “The Book Thief” where the protagonist Liesel steals books for the exact same reason as stated in the above paragraph. She doesn’t know how to read, and yet, to learn what seems to be a secret, she learns to read. To understand the sentiment, this book is a must-read.

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And I think – if it weren’t for books, where would I be now? Where would the world be? I learnt the meaning of love through books. I learnt freedom, honour, Justice, whatever I know, all of it, from these packs of paper bound together. And I believe that books have made the world. Recently, my parents gifted me a Kindle. I was really excited because I did appreciate the idea of storing all my books in one single electronic device that would fit into my pocket. But the excitement was slowly forgotten as it morphed into something else. The fact that I liked it. Yes, I believe it has its advantages, but the feeling, I guess, was missing.

What I mean to say is that there are times when I liked the Kindle more than the solid book.

And that scares me. Change is necessary. Change is a very important thing in our lives. And I understand that. But suddenly one day, looking at the sprawling bookshelf, I realised how I was becoming increasingly insecure thinking about how unnecessary all the books in my house have become and I literally hit myself for thinking that.

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I recently walked into my favourite bookstore (Blossom on Church Street) and I still felt the happiness that I always feel and I thank God for that. I may be over-reacting but it doesn’t change the way things are and I need to accept it. I walked into the bookstore and I was walking around pulling books out here and there. I walked to my dad and asked him if I could buy a Neil Gaiman book that I wanted. He told me that he would think about it, as he always did and a few minutes later called me to him and showed me that a book worth four-hundred bucks, was available at just a hundred and ninety three rupees on the Kindle store. And I was enormously crestfallen, even though I did not know why. Maybe I am a purist at heart, even more than a realist and I stopped looking for stuff to buy and I just went upstairs and read The Killing Joke again (the book is worth seven-hundred rupees and I have read it a hundred times sitting in Blossom and it isn’t available on the Kindle) and I was just walking around the bookshelves that were almost twice my height, seeing all these books that may never be mine in solid form. And I am seriously thinking of breaking the Kindle. I was allowed to buy a Jack London book, possibly because it had six books of his altogether and for only two-fifty. But I couldn’t  stop thinking that all classics are free on Amazon.

So I came back home and realised that I needed to tune my head. I needed to stop mulling over not being able to buy many books in hard form. And so, there I was, standing before the bookshelf at home when I realised that there was one other thing that I could do. If books made me clear my head, why couldn’t I use them for that same satisfaction? Take images of classics, especially classics, the perfect archetype for fading away into the darkness and blend them into my flustered soul? And that is exactly what I did. So here they are.

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Think about it seriously, and talk about it in the comments. I would really appreciate it.

“A mind needs books, as a sword needs a whetstone”

– Tyrion Lannister (Game Of Thrones)

 

Oh Mom!!!

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I had recently been to the Anjanadri Parvata near Hampi and I was fortunate to see something I had never seen before. After climbing the five hundred and seventy five steps to the top of the mountain, and then coming back down, we saw two men huddled over a cow that sat moaning in pain in a pile of hay. And it was the first time I saw the miracle of birth. Isn’t it marvelous how animals of the Earth can create something that breathes and feels on its own? How we can induce intelligence, right from our bodies?

So I stood there watching this marvel as one of the men pulled the calf out in its fetal position. I immediately turned on the camera that hung around my neck and I snapped a picture of this never before seen occurrence. I was flabbergasted. The skin of the calf that emerged was slimy. As it made beautiful and soft sounds, we pretty soon realised that it was looking around for its mother. Even the mother could sense her child’s need as they communicated in a language indecipherable by us.

But first, the man removed the blood and lightly cleaned the animal. He then pulled out its nails. This seemed to appear excruciating to the animal, but when we later enquired, I learnt that it was done so that the calf would not eat it. If the calf ate the nails or the placenta, it would tear into something called the rumen and enter the heart. It could potentially kill the animal. Then, the calf was given to the mother. With some sort of communicative understanding, the mother licked her child clean and began nudging it. Then we understood that it was trying to teach its baby to walk. How incredible that was to see!! It was an other-worldly experience for us. And the amount of control the mother had, to not show the pain she may have been feeling, is unfathomable.

And that got me thinking about something else – a mother’s love. Love puts a mother in a place where she cannot do much for herself, but here comes the best part – she is happy in that state. And that is beautiful. The mother cow was oozing blood, but still made time to lick her baby clean and firmly pushed it to walk. This shows so much about our mothers. The pain they go through. The decisions they take that make them forget about themselves. There are mothers who give their own lives for their children. A mother is the only person in the world who can take you to an action movie (not her type of movie) even if she has a severe back ache and is swallowing antibiotics and not complain at all as she emerges through the movie feeling physically worse than before. People who exhibit that kind of love to us are the people who make the world a better place.

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One of Calvin’s immortal lines from my favourite comic ring true.

“Of course she can. You don’t get to be Mom if you can’t fix everything just right.”

– Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson)

The Mighty Gulmohar?

A few days back, I had gone to the Malleswaram side of Rajkumar road to buy some fixtures and essentials to furnish our new house.

After endless discussions with a sleepy-headed salesman on what we wanted to buy, we were waiting around for him to pack the items we had decided to buy. I walked out of the shop for some fresh air and what I saw instantly brought Ayn Rand’s objectivism to mind.

First, let me tell you what exactly objectivism is. People who read Ayn Rand books usually see the idea of ‘caring about yourself more than others’ as central to the concept. But actually ‘not caring completely about other people, but keeping you as a first preference’ is more to the point. And in a deeper sense, treating yourself and another not as someone you know, but as an object to deliver Justice, is what Objectivism is.

A few years ago, I attempted reading Atlas Shrugged, behind my mother’s back, out of intrigue but I didn’t understand a word it said. I might have gone through twenty pages before I dropped the book. But I remember that at the beginning it described how Eddie Willers, as a child, had seen an oak tree as a symbol of strength. One day, lightning struck the tree and he found out that the fallen tree was completely hollow. It had created a deceptive impression on him that lasted all his life. And this was what I actually saw, a chopped gulmohar and its hollow trunk.

So I was thinking about how Eddie Willers had been deceived and I was trying to picture the thoughts that might have been floating through his head when I realised that I was missing a simple fact. I was introspecting a hollow tree, but was missing the main point – why in the world was the tree even chopped? A strong spreading gulmohar, lying on one of the most travelled roads of Bangalore. I figure the road could use some shade, but for some unknown reason it had been severed from its roots. Roots that still lie there, right now, embedded in the ground. I decided that this was something I wanted everyone to know about and so I pulled my camera out of my bag and here it is.

The first photograph symbolises Ayn Rand’s betrayal which prompted me out there in the first place. It is a metaphor. One of the greatest metaphors of all time. We are what we are, and sometimes, we do things to other people, or rather, for other people. Things that make us different to those people. This is generally fuelled by love. And sometimes, we see people as something great. But who knows, maybe they are just hollow inside. And this brings us to the beautiful conclusion. Everything is a perception in this illusive reality that forms our world. The only thing real is our thoughts and our decisions. And that, to be understood by the world, is what the core of objectivism is.

While, the second photograph, means something else altogether.

On a populous road, stood a tree. It was sprawling with branches that were dying – little did the men and women of that world know. One day, fate calls and the tree is cut down. It is already dead. Suddenly, it would seem alright to have cut that tree down, wouldn’t it? But morally speaking?

I’ll leave that to you guys to find out. (Note for thought – There’s a tiny bit of plant sitting there at the bottom corner of the fallen tree – What could that mean?)

So,  the moral of the story is this, when man pokes his nose in nature’s business, we can only stand by and watch the molestation. Because in truth, we the people of this glorious democracy are powerless. I am just one man, surrounded by giant people who only see one type of green in their lives. I am a tiny voice in the darkness of this ‘glorious’ era of selfishness. Still, I hope the voice helps. Because you never know what’s dead and what’s alive. Who knows, is there even a democracy at the center? Or is it another maggot pile of decay?

“It was an immense betrayal–the more terrible because he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he knew, nor his trust; it was something else.”

–          Ayn Rand

Think about what that ‘something else’ means. It just might change your life.

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The Struggle

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A metaphor to life

A semblance of dark

Everything dark, that ever was

But from that dark

We need only look

The darkness shall blind

The light that then shone

And we then see

How inseparable they are

The light needeth the dark

As the dark needeth the light

And in harmony shall they thrive

As is night

Thence comes day

As is white

Thence comes black

As an apparition

To tell us all

What we sow

We may never reap

As is red, so is green

But even then

We seem to forget

The yellow that lies

Squeezed in between

The yellow that

Touches us, inside

The yellow

That changes us forever.

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“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. If one only remembers to turn on the light.”

– Albus Dumbledore

Nature and the lit Darkness

It was early in the morning. The sun had just graced us with his presence when I walked in to Lal Bagh in Bangalore along with a few friends. Spirited and excited, we confidently started walking down one of the million paths that you would find there keeping an eye open for whatever was worthy of being clicked. Given the fact that it was one of the first times I had stepped out anywhere primarily for photography, I was really thrilled.

As we walked on, we came up to a lake. And the sun’s rays were just falling upon the lake, illuminating its depths when I snapped the first image. It felt really perfect, as though I had captured something incredible. And this is why this remains one of my favorite images.

The stillness of the water, I think, was what made it so serene.

I was awestruck at the beauty of still water. And when I lowered the camera to look at this occurrence, or rather the opposite of occurrence, I was even more astonished when I could see the receding darkness on the right and the approaching light on the left and this motivated the second picture.

But the thing that actually made me feel that I had captured something concrete was when I walked back past the lake, on the way to the gate.

The previously dominating serenity had now been invaded by birds frolicking about in the water. And that was when I felt very lucky to have captured something that had been visible only for a short period of time. (You can see this invasion in the third image.)

And as I stood there I felt disturbed at what had happened, until, I saw it in a different light. The beauty had been pervaded, yes, but by something that was beautiful in itself. There is a beauty in playing birds, one you cannot deny. And I could only think of us human beings, that we are no better than these birds. And I snapped it.

And as I thought about it, I realised, this is what nature is. It creates beauty and then destroys it. It is a power that is held somewhere above us. A power we cannot comprehend. It does not need us to see it and applaud it. It gives us happiness. It destroys us too. And at the end of the day, we depend entirely upon it, while it does not need us at all.

“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried.”

– Donald Miller

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