Monday, September 20, 2010



why so much silence
the moon shines in glory
how to traverse life
when it is already counting
my numbered days

Pipal ki chhaon me

pipal ki chhaon me
chhota sa hi sahi
ghar ho apna
aur aashaayen naache
baansuri bajaate bajaate

sheltered by a spreading pipal tree
let my home
even if small
be filled with little hopes
which dance to my tuneful flute

Loot. Pillage. Plunder.

The above is an advertising folder on the desk of my suite in a luxury hotel. The second page contains details of the merchandise being offered by the hotel's own outlet, within its precincts.

I was very disturbed that the first page had only the message shown in the picture above. If the viewer was not curious enough to take a look at the second page, there was no way for him or her to know what the invitation to Loot, Pillage and Plunder referred to.

Thirty or fifty years ago, these three words would not have had the same connotation. One would have attributed them to a clever creative artist of an advertising agency. In today's environment, however, are these words not in very bad taste, if not altogether despicable? I wonder, and ask of every guest visiting me.  Am I troubled because I am dated and have become out of synch with the prevailing times?

Life outside, and inside, on your newspapers and other reading materials, and ultimately on TV channels, is already so violent and frightening, with the mayhem prevailing everywhere, that exhortation to engage, even in what is to be assumed to be a humorous tone, in violent activity, merely for the sake of a sales pitch, for selling goods, should be condemned, if not proscribed altogether. And that too, by an international brand name.

That is my question, and in that question is the hope that even as I point this out to the management of my hotel, others, both consumers as well as the vendors and, especially, their advertising agencies, would take note, and be responsible about the use of language and illustration that, given the enormous power of media on social behavioural psychology, can have such a forceful and irrevocable impact.

Update -- Immediately after I posted to my blog, I received this from the head of marketing of the luxury hotel in question, who profusely apologised and, having circulated worldwide new norms for advertising, sent me the proof of the replaced card, with an altered, decent message:

Your agenda for the day

Friday, September 10, 2010


Saturn (Shani in Sanskrit, and Indian astronomy) is 1.2 billion km away from Earth, and has 95 times Earth's mass. While Earth rotates around its own axis in 24 hours, Saturn rotates in 10.67 hours. We call Earth's journey around the sun one year; Saturn's takes 29.5 Earth years. Its gravity is almost the same as Earth's. It has 60 known moons revolving around it, and many clouds of elemental debris.

The following picture was taken by Voyager I, NASA.

The rings which you see in the pictures, when seen from space by powerful telescopes, in close-ups look exactly the same as my picture, which is also published here below; only my picture was taken on my desk. It is strange that otherwise it is indistinguishable from the original close-up of Saturn's rings.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

My Life, My Death

I have lived through storms
they have become my address
my mark will be there
for those who want to find me

I have cried a lot
I have laughed uproariously
the sign of all this
I left floating in the flood
swirling in the whirlpool

I have forgotten
when you passed by me
speeding like monsoon clouds
overflowing like rivers
you filled me with laughter and loving

as quickly as dreams shatter
even when held in caring hands
the deluge drowned my dreams
and carried my traces to distant shores

windblown and lost to me
dear fallen leaves
should the cloudy dreams of your heart
seek me again

I will cry and laugh as I did before
I will ride the tide again
as again I leave my seal on the lightning
and on death itself
where forever you will find me

inspired by Salil Chaudhury’s Bengali lyric, which became a very popular, punchy song sung by Hemant Kumar, to Salil Chaudhury’s own musical score

aided by Ms. Bhashwati Sengupta

Update:  Anant Maranganti, Ph.D. wrote:

Images match words and all of them blur into a sensual experience whose boundaries are impossible to fix - This is really about life and death, in a universal sense, not about any particular life and death or is it ?

Just for a moment, before I let go of myself, I puzzled over how the imprint of French existentialists of the 1960s could have blended beyond recognition with the early 20th century American transcendentalists into a fiercely Indian sensibility. But then I let go. I am content with the realization that the song belongs to genre of experience that I can shamelessly gulp down - moist, breezy, excited, throbbing like a frog in a rainforest.

I recognize this particular impulse to draw on something from the past as different from other impulses. It is an odd one - it is one of those impulses that helps me feel at once contemporaneous and timeless and forget that grating voice that accuses me of being an imposter in a masquerade.

Thank you for sharing it.
My reply:

Dear Anant:

Your gushing was emotionally as overpowering as the tears of joy and hurt that gushed through the lines I wove. I am very touched, first by your reading my lament–laughter, and then by your mulling it over with such profusion of emotion that now I cannot decide whether my poem is actually not surpassed by your reaction.

Throbbing like a frog which cannot leap, but cannot but dwell only in a rainforest,
Ramesh Gandhi

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Born Maharashtrian in 1949 as Shivaji Rao, currently the ultimate in every department of cinema of South India, which is the ultimate of cinema in India, which is the ultimate of cinema worldwide in quantity; the quality of all of which is not the point here

I saw clips of Rajinikanth's ten greatest films on TV. I doubt any actor anywhere has demanded and received from the audience such complete suspension of disbelief.  Rajnikanth deserves kudos. He has dissolved my resistance, and I most willingly hand them to him.

I had several interactions with his brother-in-law, actor Y.G. Mahendra, his mother-in law, Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarthy during discussions or judging of musical theatre or cinema seminars, and his wife, Latha, when she had recently married Rajinikanth, and then when she had her first child, which facts have no consequence now, and are being mentioned only in passing. The main thing is that Rajinikant, in his movies, makes me laugh as he did before; earlier in derision, now in admiration.

I can watch him keenly and be amused now, instead of walking away unbelieving that others could not only watch him again and again, but applauded unstoppably.

Some of Rajini's signature dialogues:

On the lighter side, there are jokes a-plenty among NRIs, especially in the States and UK, on Rajinikanth's film feats. Here is one:

The great scientist Isaac Newton saw Rajinikanth's film. He returned home dejected, wondering if all his laws of physics were wrong. He went back to his laboratory blackboard to re-check his research. He found no error there. So he went to another Rajinikanth movie, and the same thing happened. Finally he was convinced that he was wrong - that the laws which he had founded were in error, since Rajinikanth, in scene after scene, film after film, defied them so convincingly. In despair, he committed suicide. This was followed by mass suicide of thinkers in science and philosophy, for the same reason.

I am sure that there are many such jokes, but they all show admiration for the power of Rajini's performances: it isn't his feats which are in doubt, but Reason itself which is erroneous and challengeable, even if only by one person.

I crossed paths with him in airports in the seventies, when invariably there would be fracas, police, even possible arrest because of his disorderly and callous behaviour. He is much mellowed, and a calm, modest man. He has not allowed his physique to get bloated. Now we exchange glances, and greetings at the most, in late hours at some restaurants. Anyway, I have become fond of him in his autumnal years.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Statue of Mahavir, Shravanabelagola, 1968

... made mysterious by the play of light and shade

Shravanabelagola (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ) is a city located in the Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka and is 158 km from Bangalore. The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali, at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. It reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Gangas of Talakad.... (from Wikipedia)