Friday, December 02, 2016

Life, One Way or Another

(Adyar Bakery (?) Road, Madras, 1967)

between the caprice of birth
and the extinction by death
the inevitable living
in myriad kinds
of ignorance

Bhashwati wrote:

The bean like limbs of the malnourished child and the weary bones of the feeble old man... what a contrast to the lush background and yet probably as resilient, even more so than the foliage.
But your text states all that succinctly.

i was thinking, did the culvert emerge to give them pause to decide life? this way or the other?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Nature vs. Mankind

Every moment is an unspoken, undeclared rivalry, war.

Who will, who can, win? Nature is a universal constant; man, an accidental tourist.
Having no variables, nature acts within its bounds, so long as it is not tampered with.

On earth, plants and animals evolved by complex and almost entirely inimitable accidents of chemistry, physics and all the sciences that only man could create; either pre-meditated or willfully planned and executed by man. Unlike plants and animals, man could not remain static, and in accordance with nature's functioning, laws, if you will.

This situation being exponentially progressive, while we have not fundamentally contained or controlled our own numbers, we have shown no regard for what this alienation has led to. Nature cannot think, and therefore has no malice or intentional benevolence. Man's lack of understanding, and compulsion to emulate nature and its forces, and act in accordance with them, is very rapidly bringing him towards a situation which has gone haywire.

The question now is not, who can and will win; the question now is, how soon?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Waking's End

The Beta Sleep

That our brain produces electricity has been a boon to mankind, as a great deal of understanding of our physiology, and most emphatically the working of the brain and heart, could be understood by scientists and men of medicine by connectivity to this electrical activity. So much of our research into the functioning of our various systems would not have been understood if this connection had not existed, or been available.

ECG (electro-cardiogram) and EEG (electro-encephalogram), are two of the most vital examples: one lets you pry into the functioning, or otherwise, of the heart; the other, the almighty central control room, the brain.

While studying the brain by connecting several electrodes to key points around it, both on sleeping and wakeful people, many discoveries were made advancing our knowledge of our brains and through it, so much of our bodies.

It was during one of such EEG procedures with a sedated patient, that, after repeated experimentation, understanding of what came to be known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep was discovered. The question then arose as to why, in a person who was not watching, viewing, or involved in any activity, there should be movement within the closed eyes. And the answer was not difficult to find: it arose from being watchful, stirring, etc., in sleep. So then there had to be an activity, and that could come only from a story being played or enacted by the brain. And what else could that be, except dreaming. It was also discovered that during REM sleep, the patient or the subject of the experiment was most restful in terms of other physiological parameters.  This sleep was then named Beta sleep, among other names for other forms of sleep, which were Alpha, Delta, etc.

This was paradoxical, because not all, if not most, dreams are pleasurable; and yet, biologically, man's rhythms are most restful during this turbulence, as evidenced by movement within the closed eyes.

Apart from many other discoveries and nuances that man advanced as knowledge of neurology, neuro-sciences and emanating from there, of entire human physiology, one more science evolved, called bio-feedback, on which, more later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


broken pieces of a heart
too far or too close
for comfort

they whirl and whirl 
before dissolving
into oblivion

Bhashwati wrote:

Many fragmented disjointed bits of experiences in the dark times, on the brink of being swallowed by the deeper darkness.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


According to Hindu mythology, Ardhanarishwar, the androgynous manifestation of god, half Shiva and half Parvati, is depicted as split down the middle, with female attributes and ornaments on one side, and male on the other. Ardhanarishwar represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe, which are complementary, inseparable parts of the whole.

My picture above is an artistic re-imagining of this vision.

More than 50% of Hindu places of worship have variations of this combined manifestation of the deity, mostly not in the sanctum sanctorum, but ornamentally sculpted around the periphery of the temples. The belief has very strong roots, as it essentially meets mankind's conscious and subconscious questions about male-female functions. The combination gives them an easy way out of many arising dilemmas and doubts, by stimulating, justifying and, in a variety of ways, satiating, human sexuality. On the other hand, as much as the god's image justifies the male-female sexuality, it also becomes an instrument for its absence.

Those who are interested in further investigation can look for these sculptures at Khajuraho, Konarak, and a great deal around Orissa.

For some of my photographs of classical Tamil Nadu bronze sculptures, please see my blog post here.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Shadows of the Past

My wife's childhood home, built in the late 18th century, just two decades after the Declaration of Independence, in an area of Alexandria, Virginia called Old Town. Alexandria, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., was a river-port town even before Washington was built. The house has a seal, proclaiming it part of the historic, architecturally-protected, district of houses built before a fire destroyed all town records in 1812.

I took this picture in the early 1990s. I fondly remember the charm of the historic Old Town, and the house, very close to the banks of the broad Potomac River.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

All the Anger is Now Gone

all the anger is now gone
wherever, whatever love was,

through the curtains
I look at memories
obscured by branches and leaves
crowding and tapping at
the closed panes

I put the tips of my fingers on the glass
and untouching
stir the tender leaves
and, without passion,
the memories

which awaken, but remain
unseen, unfelt
in a mist so thick,
so still,
it holds my breath
so neither joy nor sigh

I cannot hear the throbbing of my heart
I cannot hear the silence of the dead battles
of my mind

eyes fail to hear, ears to see
and my hand cannot push back
the wind-blown branches and leaves
to clear my vision

I know now that I am not merely tired
I know now that I have finished loving
that I have finished living

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Above the Clouds

O clouds floating
with the dark rainclouds 
carry my message
to wherever
you travel

be my messenger
though like you
I have no destination
I am also adrift

when you have consumed
all your storms
may the wind
disperse my words
into the vacuum
of silence

Bhashwati wrote:

Aap ki tasveer ati uttam hai, jise su chitra bhi keh sakte hain :)

Text bhi gulo gulzar hai bilkul.

Clouds bahut aape se baahir ho ja raye hain, having consumed all the storms that came their way.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Axis Mundi

The axis mundi ("center of the world" in Latin) is a religious symbol, usually a vertical, which is believed to be a point of connection between heaven and earth.  Some examples of the axis mundi are temple gopuras, church spires, Lord Shiva's jyotirlingam, the Maypole, the Christmas tree.

I did not think of the axis mundi when I was taking this picture of a fountain, but later, the strong vertical seemed to be reaching up to a heavenly realm of rays of light. The white clusters at the top reminded me of the mythical story of the flower which fell from the top of the jyotirlingam.  Brahma was said to have caught it, and carried it back to earth as "proof" of his having reached the top of the lingam (although he had not, since, according to the myth, it had neither top nor bottom).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Entrapment of Liberty

everywhere that you can see 
read hear watch
on all forms of media
experience in your guts

too frightened to think
much less speak out, or act

what is, was, will be


Liberté, égalité, fraternité 

Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French for "liberty, equality, fraternity", is the national motto of France and the Republic of Haiti. It originated during the French Revolution, and became official in France at the end of the 19th century.  The phrase originated with Maximilien Robespierre, (who was, ironically, a prime instigator of the Terror, a bloodbath which claimed thousands of lives), in a speech delivered on 5 December 1790. From the time of Robespierre’s execution, the term Fraternity was discarded and under Napoleon I, the slogan fell into disuse. The Emperor preferred the use of another motto: “Liberty, Public Order” (in French: Liberté, Ordre Public). During the constitutional monarchy of Louis-Philippe, the motto became: “Order and Liberty” (in French: Ordre et Liberté). The original motto ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ was again adopted during the 1848 February Revolution but was made official under the Third Republic (1871-1940). (Read more at

Incidentally, the French Revolution began as a revolt against the rule of King Louis XVI, husband of Marie Antoinette, who famously if apocryphally said, in response to a report on the lack of bread, the staple diet of the poor in Paris, "Let them eat cake." Both king and queen were beheaded by the guillotine. These incidents, especially the beheadings, are the core or the subject matter of many Hollywood and European films, not to mention Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, and the romances of the Scarlet Pimpernal, among others. The visualisations by films brought the horror of the slaughter home to many who had known the Revolution only as a few paragraphs in their history books.

The Statue of Liberty was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel.  Dedicated on October 28, 1886, it was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law, upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


I had never seen anyone with a permanent smirk, until I found it on this person, forever, everywhere that he is within my view, through various forms of visual media.

Whether or not it is part of a set of facial muscles that were made that way congenitally, or cultivated especially to denote total derision and contempt for the opponent, through which it can extend to the concerned audience in the world, I am curious to know. I am so amazed at its ability to unnerve, that I had to share my curiosity with others. Also, is it real, or a mask worn for public consumption.

If anyone doubts, disagrees, or is perplexed by my incomprehension, please indicate it to me, and educate me about this anatomical phenomenon of one upmanship.

If this stuff were for sale, I would like to buy it myself.