Friday, September 20, 2013

Leela's Republic

As she ferried passengers across the river, Leela sang songs of the great Republics, ruled by women beyond the Great Himalayas.​.
- 'Leela's Book', Alice Albinia

Leela cannot be tamed.

However much you try put her in saris and jewels or cover her with 'hijabs'.
her inner luminosity shines through
beneath the veneers of the masculine.

The society that defines her-- tries to define her, never can tame her.
Leela, whom they all tried to master but never could conquer.
(Like her Republic..)

Leela' of the Buddhist Pali scripts and the Urdu poetry..
Leela who sails down Benaras with her poems and smokes Gauloises in Khan Market's coffee-bookshops.

Leela who listens to rock music beneath thee full moon, as Pink Floyd teaches her 'Learning to Fly'.
Leela whom he tried pin down, but could never the tame.
The "H.." nationalist who spoke of Russia..he may have gagged her for a moment, but he could never silence her.
The 'mullahs' in liberal garb, who tried to 'cover' her like a hausfrau,. but could never hide her truth.

Leela's returned.. with her pen and her scribe.. her long black open hair.. beneath the Delhi sky.. black kohl in her eyes.
to her Republic..
Her Beloved.

 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Warm up before a write up/ or "The Press tag"

So, plenty of things need to be done before warming up, to be a writer. The Serious Kinds.
Supply yourself amply with caffeine, cigs (any Asian lights for "ladies". No American cigs SVP - like their Foreign Policy, they are full of oil and tar), chai, pens, laptop and working internet. A copy of Tejpal.. lying on the desk. providing subversive inspiration. Do not think of men..any kind of men, including GL, intellectual Punjabi men. Pack yourself with an ample of dose of politics, angst and the pain of your personal life.. and why it has made you stronger. Think of the three continents you have lived on, including South Asia, Europe and the US. Continents you haven't lived on - such as Latin America and Saigon and why you still love a mushy Hindi movie with pakoras. Sometimes, the mad teeming chaos of Delhi itself provides inspiration.

The city that is the Epicenter of the Republic, like a bustling behenji (traditional woman) and Begum, rolled into one. She is like a joint in a sheesha bar - as Mohsin Hamid would say. Or the eyes of those intoxicated Punjabi men, walking past Khan Mkt, with their "Hi Yaar", their cologne-infused denim and their hearts full of Sufi nazms. Not all of them are that classy of course, but you get the picture.

Sometimes I just go to Fab India in Khan Market and smell the Khadi and the herbal perfumes of Jasmine and Sandal..soo soothing and then sit on the roofop cafes. And he is with me in those moments..the one who continue to inspire me. La Muse. Why don't women have muses? Mine include the "South Asian" writers like Hamid and Tejpal and Rushdie, but also the chicken tikkas at Karims. Nothing like eating Surkh kukkads or a kathi kakab roll in the epicenter of La Republic, while gazing at GL Punjabi men walking past, rolled like joints - the kind Mohsin Hamid talks abt in "Moth Smoke". This city now has a subversive sheesha culture too. You can go to daytime café, selling cappuccino and kababs and order a sheesha., Even opposite Shaheed Bhagat Singh college (India's legendary, liberal, freedom fighter-revolutionary) there is one. Completely nuts these Delhites are, I tell you :)

So, one thing you get here in ample supply, along with Power and "Sir-jee" is the kababs and sheesha. One side you have portraits of Gandhi and Nehru preaching secularism, on the other, Delhiites walk into paan shops and order 'Leila' tobacco, imported from straight Turkey and Dubai, ji. Thankfully, we are not infested with the kind of violence manifest in Mohsin Hamid's Punjabi Lahore - our Punjabiat is tamed by the secular Lions of the Republic and the spirit  of Gandhi et al. But that is not to say, that Bhagat Singh isn't around.. he lives in the form of the Tejpals and the buzzing, bustling India media aka The Press, however maligned it may be.
My cousin told me yesterday, 'One thing even the policewallahs are scared of in this city and this country, is the "Press" tag. You can drive past a police chowki, without fear, if you have a "Press" tag on your car. I am planning to get one on my mobike." What else can I say - a a country that loves to "hate" itself and doesn't celebrate its democracy.. and its passion for freedom - which lurks under the surface . like the smell of the surkh kukkads and the sheesha, being sold in Bhagat Singh's café. And The Press Tag, I am planning to get for my car..

Monday, September 2, 2013

Home work, Part deux

Now, that I've decided to be a writer - the serious kind. I have to do Homework.
The serious Kind.

Homework for the week is:

Read Tejpal.
Read Tejpal.
Read Tejpal.

Not necessarily in that order.

Love what Le Figaro said about his fist book- mastered and honed and crafted like a Surkh Kukkad, chicken tikka from the heart of the Punjab.

‘This Indian masterpiece is like a voyage down the Ganges, long and infinitely pleasurable; the only thing that worries you is getting to the end too soon’ - FIGARO

And the reason he is such an inspiration..couldn't have been said better than by Paul Zacharia. Qouting two of my favorite writers, both having originally been top-notch journalists.
"Those two journalists, Marquez and Hemingway will be proud of their tribesman, Tarun J Tejpal."

Here is classic Tejpal and why he makes me want to push and write.. and create. A company or a book, its about breaking new boundaries.

"What excites me is still the original mandate of literature -- the pushing of boundaries, the fostering of new ways of seeing, the opening up of new windows. A lot of writing of the last 20 years is descriptive -- one culture describing itself to another culture. That kind of writing doesn't interest me. Safe books bore me. Literature ought to always remain the outrider of society, the advance party of civilization.."

More on his Surkh kukkad compatriot, Mohsin Hamid in the next part. Him of the "Moth Smoke" ringlets, in the city of the Sikhs, kukkads and Anarkali - I.e Lahore.

The Lit List

Authors I like, though not necessarily in that order. Since I have decided to be an author, the Serious Kind.

1. Tarun Tejpal
2. Mohsin Hamid
3. Hermann Hesse
4. Rushdie (some of him)
5. Avtar Singh "Paash"
6. Federico Garcia Lorca
7. Ismat Chughtai
8. "Annie" Aapa (Q. Hyder).
9. Thomas Mann
10. Mr. F. Scott. Fitzgerald - creator of Jay Gatsby

These are writers that have impacted me, moved me, shaken me, brought me the flavor of their lands or angst or quests.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Awakened One

Siddhartha was perhaps the most fearless man that ever lived. It takes great courage to walk out of a palace in the middle of the night and not ask a god or man for help. Or carry any weapons to defend yourself - like Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Spend 13 years wandering through forests, through cheetahs, thugs and hyenas and never flinch. Or ask a god or man for help.
To sit under a Bodhi/Peepul tree and never get up till you had found the truth. With due respect, even Jesus, MLK and Arjuna and Gandhi and the Prophet..and tonnes of brave heroes had their moments when they asked the Divine for help.
Siddhartha just sat under the Bodhi tree and never flinched, never got up..till he had Awakened.

 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rooftop Bliss

"No one can free you, but yourself".
- Siddhartha

Sitting on the rooftop of a Delhi café, I see the tops of the peepul/gulmohar trees shining. Glistening in the post-monsoon bliss. Like a woman after an orgasm. That is what India is, at her essence. A beautiful,. rain-soaked woman.

Nothing else feels like home to me (Someone I know, told me that years ago, before I realized it). There is an almost avant-garde, undercurrent to her soul, that lurks wildly like a gentle goddess, "Kali" or "Radha" perhaps? All mad, slightly intoxicated women, in love with crazy men.
There is that trippy intoxicated, weed-smoking husband of Kali's. And Radha has nightly dalliances with her flute-playing lover. Let us remember that the Kama Sutra was born here - a place where love is an art form- raised to the form of a spiritual text.
Obviously, this is a  love-struck land. The rains add to that feel of rain and ecstasy.
Then, there is that Siddhartha vibe, that is so prevalent in the air, like a song. You cannot deny 5000 years of a liberal, secular history.
Siddhartha (the Buddha) and Dara Shikoh (the liberal, Mughal scholar-prince)  walked on this very land, this very soil and profound metaphysics and secular ideals were born here. The ideals of the first city republics..From the Greeks to the Magadhans.

And they want to turn this land of trippy sadhus, intellectual princes and bohemian lovers, into a bourgoise "bahurani's" republic..
The land of the monsoon and the love-struck peacocks. And intellectual princes, looking for the meaning of life, under the peepul/bodhi tree.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What I love about India

is the sheer humanity of the people here.

From the chai-wallah on the "footpath" to the Aunty at the gym, who offers me a "lift home", people are so humane and talk to each other here.
Sure, there is corruption etc etc. but people carry themselves with a dignity and grace and the poorest of the poor have a divine glow- sense of decorum about them, that I haven't seen anywhere. Everyone wants to work hard, without making a big deal about it.. and people have this sense of connectedness to the human race, that I haven't seen anywhere else.

There is a decency and grace  to the air, and no amount of "potholes" and bad roads can dilute the air of humanity, that pervades this land of Gandhi and Gautam..
I can FEEL them here-- and perhaps why they were born in this culture..its the mango and peepul tree, which gives shade to all

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Operation Vijay: The School of the Gentlemen Cadets

I guess it was 'V Mamu' (maternal uncle) who instilled it in us. And the 'pukka' School of the 'Gentleman Cadets',  that we grew up with.

The 'Vijay-I' spirit. My baby cousin bro- 'Kaps' and I - your beloved niece and nephew - grew up on your shoulders. All those years you were single and working at the world's best airports.. flying around exotic locations with your crested shirts. We grew up watching those 747-jets take off on the runway, of New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Where you worked at one of India's top airlines -- and where you retired from eventually. 'Kaps' went to become 'Head Boy' of one of India's top boys' schools, eventually graduating from Harvard.

I entered the squadron of the 'Elite' Air Force warriors - in one of Delhi's most competitive schools, which rarely took 'Non-Air Force' students.. nailing the NTSE, MENSA, fighting stand-offish but GL Indian guys for Ivy league dreams and getting those two Masters degrees.. Still not feeling it's enough. You were one of the first people who bragged about my first Financial Times article, when I was 24 years old in London. Showing the print-out to all the 'Uncles and Aunties' in Doon Valley, "Look where my niece has been published". I still remember that day with smile..and the rest of the family trying to quell your excitement.

I was also blessed with three of the MOST 'Gentleman Cadet' bosses.. B, D and the late Andrew, three 'pukka', but liberal Brits, who launched my life and career for over 2 years on Oxford Street in London  (across Selfridges, where I bought my 'Filofax' for Dad, with my first salary). All of you epitomized that 'Public school', Graham Greene spirit -- and now lead two top global microfinance and clean technology firms, working in China and Africa. Dear Andrew -- bless him-- would sit reading his 'blasted email' and tell me to "Finish that FT article NOW, Leah - and please go home early.." His never-ending banter about cricket-clubs and intolerance of British snobbery, continue to inspire even today.  B was a former-McKinsey consultant and head of the elite Oxford St. Consulting firm, where he gave me my first job. He hired me on the spot, seeing my passion for management consulting, Digital Tech and the Benz, who were one of their big clients at the time :) He weaned and led me through the maze of consulting for over 2 years, sending me on those umpteen trips to 'the Benz's' Milton Keynes-Head Office, knowing how much I loved the 'bl..y Deutsch AG' (Aktien Gesselschaft). 

DG was even more aristocratic but strangely approachable - the head of the Financial Times's Digital Tech section. He gave me my first big break in the Financial Times -- pushing me to strive higher, for over the 2 years that I worked 12-hour days, in dark London. You believed in a raw and driven Indian girl, who preferred eating fish and chips in crusty newspapers and talking about Graham Greene, in the land that took her country's Kohinoor diamond. Than chase after a silleeh husband :) I detested the and loved the Brits at the same time :) And both of you continue to inspire, support and give me references even today :)

The same culture of the 'Gentlemen Cadets' we grew up with in our ancestral home in Doon Valley - the IMA - India Military Academy continued with your voice. I remember the morning walks along Doon School and Welhams -- by our ancestral home's lychee orchards.. you telling us to, "Say Hi to the Gentlemen Cadets, kids", taking their strolls outside the IMA. The Himalayas looking on..above us.

I guess we had to be it. Along with Dad-- another self-made voice-- it was YOU who told us to live upto the family spirit. The Aviators.

Both of our us had the same goal.. which kind of seeped into our bones.. to be the best of the best. Even today, you tell me to stick on. Fight it out. Don't settle for the second best.
Last night, we talked about BRAHMOS and the INS 'Viraat', the Indian Navy carrier. You told me, 'Write about it beta, for your Dad'..sitting all that way, apparently 'retired' in Doon Valley, but still Flying High. 
Thank you for instilling the 'Vijay-i' spirit in us. We won't let you down.
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BrahMos


For Dad, for teaching me how to fly
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The BrahMos is the world’s fastest cruise missile in operation. It is a portmanteau of two words: India’s river 'Brahmaputra' and the Russian river 'Moskva'. An Indo-Russian collaboration, the hypersonic missile, flies upto speeds of Mach 3.0 - namely 3 times the speed of sound. One of its remarkable features is, that it can be that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It makes India the only country in the world, with hyper-sonic cruise missiles in their army, navy, and air force.
It’s interesting to see, how when the Indians and Russians put their minds together, historical trends are born, which go back centuries.  Imagine adding the third component of American innovation and ingenuity, which could lead to a new era in global collaboration, overturning stereotypes – in the battles against terrorism, ignorance and regressive regimes.

It is inspiring how India - despite battling against many other things - continues to innovate on some of most progressive realms in science, technology and human liberalism; be it aerospace or the environment - flying high on the ideas of science, secularism and democracy. Its unbroken 67-year old, secular democracy continues to remain the largest democracy on the planet, remaining a beacon hope to the world, despite being surrounded by revolutions, coups, terrorism and global upheavals. The essence of Gandhi survives in the land of the Brahmos.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Leela’s Beloved

How can one man play the flute in the forest, luring cows and maidens to his call? Bring a coy married wood out into the woods in the dark? Create high philosophy on the battlefield..create a ‘Dhananjaya’ (archer-warrior) out of a broken hearted exiled prince? Turn down an arrogant king with a sweet tongue, while eating boiled spinach with his poor minister?

Save a molested woman’s honor in the middle of a crowded palace.. win a battle, riding the chariot for a small, broken hearted, humbled prince? Blow the conch shell, calling to battle the world’s largest army..with the peacock feather in his hair?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Quantum Singularity: The Star Stuff

The Double Helix-Nebula, courtesy: NASA
We are all star stuff.
- Carl Sagan
------------------------------
Don't we all want the quantum singularity, coursing through our veins.
Like the blip blip signal of digital supernova?
Where hydrogen becomes helium,  in an explosion of light, and E=hv carries the digital fingerprint of 'god'?
Stars become galaxies become DNA, and semi-conductors chips carry the message through to this laptop, through my fingers.

The quantum singularity is near. You can see it on Google Maps. Thanks Brin and Page and Markov and Kolmogorov and all those crazy Russians who sat around fires, looking into the sky. Love you guys!

Google's new collaboration with NASA on quantum computers, will change the soul of the human race. As we speak, it is happening. One world, one face, one humanity. Integrating everything from not just cell-phones and machines computers, but medicine and torchlight. The implications for social-humanist integration, of course, pulse through it all.

More than anything, it is all built on a single number. A unit of energy of energy so small, one cannot even sense it. The 'quantum' of light, called Planck's constant = 'h'. Named after a liberal, cigar-smoking German Professor called Max Planck - with his close friends Dr. Heisenberg and Dr. Einstein. (what's with these German Professors and cigars:)
PBS magazine recently called it:  The Number That Rules Technology, Reality, and Life.
h = 6.6 x 10^-34 Joules sec.
Renowned mathematician and author, Dr. James Stein of California State University, put it succinctly: "The speed of light gets all the publicity (because of its starring role in Einstein’s iconic equation E = mc2), but Planck’s constant is every bit as important. Planck’s constant has also enabled the construction of the transistors, integrated circuits, and chips that have revolutionized our lives."

And Google, is delving into it's depths.
To see if it can explore soul of the "Star Stuff", we are all made of.

Next time, I'll talk about the Chandrashekar Limit, the connected number which has been called, "The Threshold That Makes Life Possible." Named after Subramanyan Chandrashekhar, a 21-year old child prodigy from colonial India..

1 woman and 105 men

The world's greatest and longest epic was written around the story of this one woman.
Who opened her hair long and never tied it back again, till she had obtained justice.

Sometimes, you have to leave your hair open, till you get justice..as even 5 husbands cannot "protect" you from the assembly of the kings.
Only your long hair and your Beloved.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Das Kapital meets Das Gene/Jean

Do you see how Das Kapital that flows down Wall Street..
transforms into the (silicon) chip and the (genetic) code in Silicon Valley?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2013/05/20/why-the-new-google-nasa-partnership-marks-a-new-era-in-the-history-of-computing/

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Leela

Amrita Gottsmann Shergill.
India's greatest and highest selling artist.

C'est moi. Ma Amrita.
Half Jewish, half-Punjabi.
Half-Indian, half-Hungarian..
Half-pious, half-punk.
Half-bourgouise, half-bohemian.
Half-scientist, half-artist.
Half-entrepreneur, half-idealist.

Delhi's most beautiful and elegant boulevard is named after you.
The mango trees, mad artists, GL Punjabi guys and the sun-soaked boulevards..sizzling under the monsoon streams.
The smell of Delhi, that is you.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fuel for the Starship: Bollinger Bands + Greek Yoghurt

1 Box: Chobani, Non-Fat Greek yoghurt.
1 Box: Nature Valley, whole oat, granola bars.
1 Box: Tazo Zen Green tea. With lemongrass. Lemon Grass is key.
1 bottle: Nescafe classic instant Black coffee.

Spotify/Playlist of the most motivating 80s-90s songs, including Top Gun, Dire Straits, Tarzan Boy, some early 90s dance, Pink Floyd.
A snapshot of Lennon/Jobs/Douglas or Tom Cruise from Wall St. or Top Gun.
A live feed of the NYSE, running on your MAC/Laptop..Blip blip blip.
----
Dip half a cracked granola bar into half a cup of the Greek yoghurt.
Blend.
Brew a cup of Tazo tea and add Stevia to sweeten, as needed.
(If needed, break a piece of bread later and dip into plain yoghurt).
Hit the Play button.
Think of Brin and Page..at least once every 4 hours.
Alternate brewed black coffee with green tea.
Think Jobs/Brin-Page/Lennon/NYSE index.. and the Double Helix.. coiling-uncoiling, in time.
I get high on Bollinger Bands too. They go particularly well with Greek yoghurt.
10..9..8..Go.

BTW, remember the internal and external mind games are going to get really intense.. Watch out for them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zeitgeist

This pictures encapsulates it all.
 
 
 

010101..High on the Cloud

Binary Blip.

Binary is the blip of the Morse code and the computer signal.
The NYSE's index fluctuates up and down, based on binary blips.
As does the START. and STOP. codon of the human genome.
Fourier signals are binary, with the higher the Fourier score, the more "Periodic' the signal.
Signals maybe be binary, cosine or sinusoidal..but the point is to read them.

Trig (nometry), tells us that any periodicity can be quantized in discrete units, including the fluctuation of the stock market and the expression of cancer genes.

The quantification of dispersed/scattered signals represents one of the most significant achievements of the human mind. It is best represented spectrum of Light, with the seven frequencies/wavelengths representing discrete-ness in a continuum, otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
But which makes our world. Much like the all the other signals..beneath it all.

Now to go read the stars and the blips on the screen of the NYSE. (Perhaps this is why I love the DNA and NYSE so much. The manifestation of discreteness, in an otherwise chaotic world).
Entropy is inversely proportional to world order.

The NYSE smells signals.. as does DNA.  The (Exchange) Floor is the Cell. The incubus of ideas, where vortexes are smelt, fused, siphoned off and exited into lesser chaotic states,
Maintaining Steady States. The summum bonnum of the cell and the Stock Index.
Anything which revves up it's periodicity..whacks it's signals out of sync, is a radar to discontinuum. To chaos.
To the "Chechnya state"..to Russian oligarch/mafia-style capitalism.
A Chaos State.
(How ironic isn't it? The Russians were among the first to propose the ideas of the Chaos theory and the Steady state. I feel humbled even taking their names).

A signal transduction of chaos, which warns the system to shut down, optimize or control parameters.
Cells know when to shut-off, turn-on, open and shut gates..turn genes on and off.. and if something goes out of module, chaos ensues.
The cancer drugs making their debut on the market today.. reflect on this well-modulated ability of human cells to turn chaos into exquisite patterns, built on light.
Called LIFE.
Should a cell slip up, trip, forget to turn on/off a gene.. on time, Chaos ensues.. and tumor markers go ballistic. The markets get out of sync and the brokers start jump out of windows.
Now we don't want that, do we Neo?
It's time to shut down the Matrix.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Venture High aka the Blue Jeans/Genes Club


Inspired by my companero and buddy, BA. Thank you bringing the drive and caffeinated motivation to my life. and your work with Fair Trade coffee, which continues to fuel..
---

As interesting paradigm stood out, as I was going through the Forbes list of the world's youngest billionaires under 40.
It perhaps explained my own complex understanding and relationship with wealth and value creation and why much of the world has that complex relationship with it as well.
There seemed to be three types of billionaires in the list.
First there was the innovative, self-made, brilliant nerd-geek billionaire. This was the 'T-shirt in the garage genius', who changes the world. with an explosion of technology and real innovation - transforming the world in real tangible ways. Think Steve Jobs-meets-Sergei/Larry Page-meets Genentech and the monoclonal antibody. Interestingly, this category included only the US and notably Japanese billionaires..which is isn't very surprising. The US club did include two 'star' hedge fund managers, signifying the non-ubiquitous dominance of Tech.

Then there was the "Botox billionaires club". Think French Rivera meets Saudi oil wealth. It is purely inherited wealth.. with the jet-setting family-owned jets and the palace intrigues. With an almost Mafiosi/Godfather like vibe. It reminds me of the British monarchy and could be one of the reasons why inherited wealth is such an anathema to me. In terms of the base, it's primary value lies in stable, inter-generational products and lucrative investments spread out over continents, including the oil money.

The third category were the self-made oligarchs in newly capitalist economies, primarily the Russians and the Chinese. This was self-made wealth, but with an industrial revolution like, sweatshop-owned vibe about it. Wealth that could have been gained with forced labor and the like. These are entrepreneurs in newly opening capitalist economies and was dominated by commodities. Wealth primarily made off low-innovation, but essential commodity goods, ranging from sunflower oil to aluminum mining and steel. Innovation WAS dominated by Russians.. but by those that had immigrated to the US. The Sergei Brin meets the Genes club.

Some of the most inspiring names that stood out within the list included the Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey and Ryan Kavanaugh, the founder of the production house 'Relativity', which produced the pop-blockbuster 'Safe Haven' this year, at a cost of $25 mn and grossed over $50 mn. worldwide.

I love love love the smell of venture capital. Take me back to my old days on the Street in London, where I first started my career.. despite being wrongly away from Science. The smell of self-made achievement, still lingers, lurks in my veins. Venture is the lifeblood of innovation.. the lifeblood which is making me type these letters and listen to the classical song at the same time. And read about GESTALT. And Capital Intensity.
But what matters is Execution.. as Ted Schlein says. The double helix of achievement.

Schlein -who is General Partner at venture giant Kleiner Perkins - put it eloquently on Forbes,com, "Innovation and venture are long-term ventures. They are non-plussed by every single development that happens. Every venture is fighting for the same dollars.. held to the same standards." This is probably why I was drawn to Kleiner Perkin as an inspiring VC hub to begin with. Kleiner was the first VC firm to believe in - of all things - pig-synthesized insulin! By two MIT-UCSF Ph.Ds and the company they wanted to start in 1976, Genentech. The pig-synthesized insulin is now one of the most utilized medical products on the planet - and the creation  of Genentech spawned the beginning of 2nd industrial revolution. The Biotech age.

Kleiner has an amazing product called the Digital Growth Fund, which is comprised of Tech. Pure Tech. Namely: Life Science, Green and Digital, the mantras of the new millennium. Pretty much the three drivers that will move the world in the next century.

More to come in Part Deux. On the new edge in Biotech and Bionformatics, the double helix of the Tech DNA.
 

Arigatoh

Thank you! To the three men with round glasses.
MK Gandhi, John Lennon and Steve Jobs.
                                                                              for continuing to inspire.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recipe for Success, aka Dilli-waali Girl


sIGNAL tod-taad ke, aaya Dilli waali..
- 'Dilli-waali girlfriend', YJHD
----

There is Dire Straits.
There is black coffee.
There is DNA.
There is Morrison and Boyds (O-Chem)
There is Angstroms, Volts and Nano meters.
There is that stairway to heaven, that American company..rising into the sky.
Trailing nucleic acids..
010101
digital fingerprints.
of god,
as Mark Knopfler plays his third riff with
the 3th degree Fourier transform frequency.

Or is it Mark Zuckenberg, the boardroom billionaire?
Or perhaps my pals Sergei (Brin) and Larry (Page) (who founded Google, in a Stanford garage)
They always remind me of an erstwhile rockband pairs, like Lennon-McCartney or one of those classic bands of the 70s.
After all, this is the generation that broke the Berlin wall, invented the Internet, broke the Human Genetic Code, colonized Mars, created Tweets and more.
Yes, that's our generation.
The GESTALT dudes.
We used to love that word.
Me and my buddies.. most of them guys.
Geeks, geniuses, lovers, pagal ashiqs.. but we were the Sikandars. A la the movie.

GESTALT is also one of the most cutting bioinformatics software on the planet. It was created by this geeky genius, Gustavo Glusman from the Weizzman Institute in Israel (where else :). Interestingly he is now based in Seattle - another abode of the geeky systems genetics generation (GSGG:), that the world so loves to watch. GSGG.. doesn't that sound like some sort of Morse code. Well it is. There are companies, paying billions right now, to solve it. The language of the Double Helix.
Which continues, to mystify, lure, delude, decide, heal, create us.
And we are paying billions for it.
You can visualize billions of genes and protein sequences, by inputting the base code, from your laboratory data.
So, the BioInformatics revolution.
How could I forget that. We are also the Bioinformatics generation.
---

And then my BF honks his 100 cc below, his O-Chem is done
and he's just solved his 4th differential equation for the day.
"Want to go for a drive and then some Nirulas 'Tooti Frooti' ice cream?
You need a break, yaar."
C'est la vie.
Then we all get back to our Ivy league grind.
reading Russian poetry.
All the guys aka buddies I knew back then, were math, physics whizzes, hooked to Pink Floyd, Aamir Khan movies, unrequited love
and are now entrepereuers in Silicon valley or breaking barriers one way or another.
I've got to be get back being one of them..my gang. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Goal

Akad ki bhi auqaat hoti hai.
Aur yeh jageh hamari hai.
(Attitude comes with it's own class. And that place is mine..)
- Varun Dhawan, Student of the Year.
----
At the guts of it, it's all about the goal.

I am a goal-getter.
A driven, furious, jet-driving Maverick, who grew up driven by airplanes (at one of the private schools run by the Indian Air Force, of the 10% selected students from "Non-Air Force" families).

And on top of it, I have the heart of that Punjabi man..not the ethnicity, but the guts, the drive, which turned refugees into conquerors of the world's toughest cities.
As my friends tease me "You have the looks of a Deepika-type girl but the heart of a Punjabi man".

Even my beloved sister, gets bemusedly scandalized sometime. "Gosh you are such a Punju yaar.." Them being the elite, sophisticated Lucknowi/Awadhi girls..Not that I cannot speak Urdu or recite shayri/poetry.
But beneath that Urdu speaking veneer - (and singing ghazals since I was a kid), I have the heart of that Punjabi man.
The go-getter, driven Maverick, "Varun Dhawan" types.

I need to WIN to breathe.
I need to fly, to be.
I need to win, to live.
To be the BEST. of the BEST.
The ELITE.

I always have..
and nothing and nobody stops me now.
The girl, who was miffed coz she couldn't store a "hatrick" in the National Science Boards in India - with a 92% in ALL 3 science subjects (Physics, Chem and Biology). And "only" got it in Bio and Chem.

I am not hiding it anymore, trying to be the ingratiating wannabe "hausfrau".
If a guy was to brag about his ISA (Insecure High achiever) personality and being miffed about not scoring the 92% in ALL Science subjects, he would be LAUDED as an achiever.

But winning, isn't enough.
BEING the best is.. and getting better is..better than the BEST.
And I will do it.
That F14/MIG is calling.
That I saw every morning for 12 years, while going into "work" i.e school.
Competing with the best of the best.
The Elite.
And now the time is back.
The pilot is returning.
The engine is revving..
the runway is waiting..
Maverick is striding to the wing-deck.
Helmet in hand.
"I feel the Need.
The Need for Speed".
Time to go Mav..

As someone wisely said:
You can take the Maverick out of the plane.
But you cannot take the plane out of the Maverick.. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Raas Leela

So, He is telling me.
Where have you been, my Leela?

I have waited for you for so long, but you were so busy wandering around the planet and places..
Never turning to look back and see who was always with you.

You ran away from the Madhuban/wooden grove, but thought I wouldn't find you.
You turned and moved away from me..but I still waited.
You heard my flute playing, but chose to ignore it..
I called you out from the wooded groves, in the raincloud, that you love so much.
In the peacock, outside your window..
in the dance of the sawan/monsoon..but you turned away.

You wandered, not knowing, you were always mine.
Always.

You saw me in the DNA molecule and heard me calling in the explosion of light.. That the Atomic Fusion generated.

I was always there..
Your blue raincloud..
and I will never leave you.
Because you were always mine.

Now you are coming home..
covered with gulal.
to your blue raincloud..

Wandering through the bylanes of the little town
to the riverbank..
where I stand waiting,
with my flute.

 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rang Deeni or Homecoming

Teri mal-mal ki kurti, gulabi ho gayi..
(Your silken shirt got colored pink) 
You never know when it happens, when your soul feels like a sense of home.
And it’s there.
It cud be a person, idea, place. But it’s home.A sense of belonging, like someone or something’s taken your heart, Like the heat on Connaught Place (Delhi’s elegant Central square) .Or the Nirulas ice cream your Dad buys for you.
Or the love of your life, Like those guys on mobikes, walking around like Aamir Khan in ‘Jo jeeta wohi sikandar’,
Out to win..their goal and your heart. 
Finally she’s home.
The wandering girl, has come home. To Nirulas and the gol-gappas (North Indian street snacks). And the guys on bikes, looking like Aamir.
With the gajras in her hands. And the Holi color on her face.
My favorite festival of all. The color, the rang, the spring with the high people.. and the water on your skin, with color stains on your hands and your face and your eyes..and your soul.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Home sweet home

Finally, there is the smell of formaldehyde
and the sight of microscopes.
Divine designs beaneath their rim
microbes flickering around,
stained with blue dyes.

The sight of Self, underneath the cell.
It is a relief to be back home.

Home sweet home,
where the Medicine lives and heals.

The progression stages of cancers and difficult diseases.
the intricate delicacy of genes , peering on the edge.
One or or the other, they can save lives or stain them.

The subtleties of medicine are breathtaking. higher than any mountain, the sight of Sinai or the face of life.

Walking in those hallways, tinged with the auras of wise men and the fumes of labs,
churning away the sickness into life.
Brilliant minds walk around drinking coffee,
and we talk about cells and not soccer.

The cells. Oh the cells.
The sweet smell of cells, stained with dyes blue like the sky.

As Meredith Grey ('s Anatomy) says:
"There comes a time,
when it's more than just a game".
Welcome home.

----
Part deux

I gobbled that Oncology book, like a thirsty man drinks water.
Missed two buses and couldnt get myself to leave..
like a lover being forced apart.
I can't wait to swim in it's reams..

Multiple myelomas and the stems cells that create them.
We can tailor them, change them, suit them, train them to save lives.
Make vaccines out of them or give them to children to live.

We can plunge needles into them and suck out the the marrow of life.
And to find that "when we came to die, we had lived".
(Walt Whitman, Dead Poet's Society)
 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bliss in the Bauhaus

It's amazin'
So amazin'
I'm the only thing I believe in..
- Kanye West

The bliss has found me
the bauhaus cafes
bliss in the best lattes
and simple words
the air I can breathe
in capitol hill
feels like I have come out of the madhouse
into the fresh air
I cannot breathe in those bourgoise ghettos
from the world of the hausfrau.

The place has a very anarchist
Tahrir Square kind of vibe
Coffee meets Kunst (art)
meets LGBT angst
films festivals scrawled
on the wall
Some of the most intellectually brilliant and liberated people on the planet
phew!

The smell of UW closeby.
art books are everywhere..
I feel like I am in a Parisian version of Tahrir Square..
the smell of revolution and cigars is in the air.
And I can breathe..
Diana Penty has become Deepika..
(from 'Cocktail')
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The return of Jugni (The Firefly)

I recently saw the movie 'Cocktail' again.
And was struck was the fabulous performances of all the three main leads. An unconventional Indian movie for chamge.

While Saif Ali Khan's performance blew one away, the one that struck me most was Deepika Padukone's performance as the golden-hearted, bohemian Veronica. Albeit a bit too wild in places (a la Bollywood), she plays an angsty, gutsy female character who has no qualms on talking about the hypocrisy of Indian society, male double standards, feminism and being in love at the same time.

Her performance in the 'Jugni' song is incredible. I was told I am bit like her :-) though being in a Hindi movie, everything is stereotyped about an independent herione -  she parties too much, doesn't like cooking et al..- the usual stereotypes (why doesn't an 'independent' girl like to cook, is baffling)
 
The bottom line is that Indian cinema  finally showing 'normal' girls, with human feelings, emotions and self-respect who don't chase after men, dying to be 'pati vratas'. She probably loves more passionately than any character, but she is real, honest and strong. She becomes a Jugni in the process of love, but perhaps she doesn't need a man like Saif Ali Khan anyways..
A really nice,  but slightly patriachal guy who goes for the more homely, 'desi' Diana Penty. Perhaps the lesson of the movie lies in that.. that women like her need someone who will respect the Jugni (Firefly) in them, not not try to repress her light. She is shown with open options at the end of the movie..a Jugni ready to take flight..

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Smell of a scoop

So, I do realize that I have the rare 1941 edition of William Shirer's 'Berlin Diary'.
As published by Alfred A. Knopf, of New York.
Talk about a nose for journalism.
I found it stacked behind large imposing racks, in Powell's in Portland.
Something in me, smelt something in it.
This was the book that Blanche Knopf, co-founder and wife of the legendary publishing house, had asked Shirer to write..while the Second World War was brewing in Berlin.

This book could have been touched by Hemingway, Shirer, erswhile New York journalists and editors at the New York Times..Jewish refugees or crusty British diplomats..

Wow!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hope

Saw Spielberg's masterpiece today.

The sound of 'Hope' kept ringing through my ears.. and I saw Stars falling through my eyes.

Silent
burning stars
of hope.

'As long as the eyes flow,
the hope will live on..'

Even in the land of exile,
the longing for the home
will last..
the hope will live on.

Ever since I heard it,
felt like I have come home..

Gatsby in New York

You walk down Fifth Avenue
"walking cane here by your side".

You're the sound of the jazz bar in Sting's song..
'Englishman in New York'.

You cannot belong to boundaries..
Sound
stubble
eyes like black coffee
sophistication
like that Barney's hankerchief
you carry in your left pocket

Stopping
by the same window,
every night
looking into see if she is there.
You drink the black coffee in Stumptown
and like it ground a certain way
Fine but not too refined
like yourself
like that jazz note
flickering
hovering
over the ground
in Brooklyn
where the dark eyed Jews reside
by your
Leah.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reclaiming the light

She runs towards him..
like a barefoot 'Katrina' in Jab Tak hai Jaan..
running towards the ray of light.

"Jeevan dagar mein,
prem nagar mein
aaya nazar mein
jab se koi hai.."

Ever since you have shown up on this path,
this town of love..
my heart wonders..is this the One?

 

Re-claim the sunlight

I will find you.
I will find you again.

No wordly walls, Bastilles, revolutions
can keep us apart.

You were mine..
all through the centuries
and we have drunk coffee, bread and mind-soul together.

Everything we are
is each other.

Every flesh and sinew
in our being
belongs to each other.

Pledged from the beginning of time
history, destinies, empires, dictators
bullets
couldn't separate us.

What's a little bourgoise ghetto?
Break free of the Bastille
and reclaim your light.

The sun that is in your soul
is me.

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Re-union, Part Deux

I feel it already..like the 'Exodus' has begun.
Ever since I came back from Portland..
It was no coincidence I took the book with me there.

I feel like the system has blown and the lid has come off.
It is happening as we speak..
The lid of fake covers, IDs, layers, bourgoise ghettos, death, smell of decay, 'morals' and 'rituals'..
We have taken them apart.
You and I.
Since that day in Berlin, when we last met, we had black coffee together. and promised.
We would find each other again.
My anarchist revolutionary and your Karpinski Leah.

We were torn apart.. but never separate.
We kept the promise.
It is time to redeem that pledge.

Live fearlessly.

(And isn't it interesting, that I stopped at the 'Zeitgeist' cafe of all places, en route to Portland? The smell of dark coffee, books and revolutionaries in the air..a la Seattle)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bliss

Woke up to a morning of such mystic bliss..
the esctasy blew my mind..
Sunrise and the soft sun of dawn.
Walking on the rose feet of the grass in Portland's Farmer's Market.
It was heavenly summer
and the smell of roasting kielbasa sausages
and your feet in the grass.
even though you were physically elsewhere
you know where you were.

Then the sun filled the air with this dappled light
and the people with the liberal eyes filled my soul.

And I so wanted to be home..
A home is a state of mind.
not a claustrophobic bourgouise walled garden..
I will not be in a walled garden.

I will be with you.
Always.
in the dappled sunshine,
reading books
by the kielbasa sausages
in the farmers market.
As you walk with your feet
in the dappled sunshine.
 

Berlin Diary, Part Deux

I am holding a 61 year-old copy of William Shirer's classic, 'Berlin Diary' in my hands.
Found it in the history section of the famous Powells in Portland.
Holding it feels weird.

Feel like I am witnessing history, a la Marcus Aurelius, witnessed the 'Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire'. Marcus was there, as Caeser rode into Rome.

Shirer witnesses the stand of the last revolution, standing on its feet in Germany, France, Spain, as the communists, fascists, democrats fight it out on the streets in Paris, Vienna and Berlin. He is there, standing in the Place de la Concorde, as the gendarmes spray bullets on the Communists and social democrats. It is fascinating, as he describes those very moments we read about in history, sitting in a cafe in Berlin, sending dispatches to the Chicago Tribune that he worked for.

He describes the 'Anschluss', the takeover of Austria, by Berlin
and the erstwhile 'Americans in Paris', the Gatsbys/Fitzgeralds, Hemingways..
hanging out with them and having 'A Moveable Feast' with the Spanish intellectuals, who carried the flame of freedom through the darkening '30s.

How the war correspondent turned into a witness of history
unfolds though the the pages of this 61 year-old book,  that I hold in my hands.
It is bizarre to read about Dolfuss, the tottering Austrian dictator and how he hangs the last vestiges of democracy in Austria, and the social chaos that ensues, leads to the rise and fall of Europe..
Little did he know, that the little dispatches he wrote,  sipping dark coffee
in a Paris cafe,
would become a witness to history..
that an Indian girl would read in the middle of the night, in a hotel in Portland
dark coffee in her hands..

Voyageur, Part Deux

Are you and I
linked forever
together in Paris..
when I wore dark lipstick
and you picked up Le Monde
for me?

Bringing me black coffee
as I fermented revolution
through my pen?

You pined and sighed
for me
through
the bourgoise boredom
and the black print
of the burning papers
kept our love
alive,
through the centuries.

Burning
brightly
through
the burning centuries

You and I
and black print..
can it ever be snuffed out?

As long as freedom is alive,
our love
with burn through the centuries
burning brightly
like the flame
of flight..

 

Voyageur

I am here in Portland.

In the middle of the night..
With black coffee, books and loved friends.
Reading William Shirer in the middle of the night.

Decaf black coffee.
Nothing could be better..
than books and dispatches, a la foreign correspondent
in the middle of the night.

I feel like I am an erswhile traveller
in the the 1930s
travelling through the French Riviera
and Morroco..Casablanca.

My loved one
with me,
reading his paper
avec cafe noir
hands in the air
gesticulating fo democracy.
As I watch him from a distance.

My journalist
from the 30s..

Gatsby is always
with me.
Since the 1930s
we've been together.

Travelling
through
Europe
America
Bon voyages
Berlin
The sea
Baghdad
Bahamas
His eyes
are always with me.

Drinking black coffee
he watches
me from a distance
wherever I go..


 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Birth pangs

The Birth of the Buddha
is writ with painful labor,
bloostained
removal of angst
and opening of the heart chakras..
without the layers
of darkness
covering
the light.

Open the doors
and you will see
the light.

The riddled shining light
that streams
through the doorways
of your life.

The light of medicine and healing
that conceals
beneath,
all your lust and greed for money..
killing patients instead of curing.

The capitalist system
at best
owns your soul..
like the Third Reich, without the slave camps.

You still feed the system
of the Matrix
watching the women come and go
with their trophies
men's libidos
in their hands,
but no more
shall you serve the Reich.
Burn the Reichstag
so you can be
born anew.
Buddha.

Freedom is sweet,
But birth is bitter..
but labor on,
labor on
beneath the layers..
the Light
shines.

Be born
anew.
Buddha.

 

Friday, March 22, 2013

The one who finds his own Path

The one who finds his own path (Siddh-artha)
---
When Siddhartha sits in one place,
he doesnt budge.
Until he has opened the gates and achieved the goal
he doesnt flinch.
 
 
He lets the arrows of Mara slip by..
driving lust, desire and lures away
the sweet-tongued traps.
 
He doesnt flinch until he has opened the doors of Truth,
and revealed the gaze of light
within himself.
 
His own conquest
makes the universe faint
and walk away.
 
"The young prince who abandoned his inheritance to discover his true calling..and changed the world forever.."
 
 When was the last time, you made a Siddhartha of yourself?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mochas with medicine and the revolution: Where Stanford and Berkeley unite

I have dreamed of a republic, such as the world would adore.
- Camille Desmoulins, French journalist, 1789

I am still feeling the buzz and the glow from my trip to Stanford and Berkeley this year - an incredbile homecoming. My two favorite universities in the world.. but back in the '90s it was a dream for a middle-class Indian student to be able to afford them, without a full scholarship.
 
I hung out with Camille Desmoulins and other journalist-revolutionaries in Berkeley’s cafes. It's smell was strong in the air. The dust, hoof beats and sound of cymbals. The streets were paved with rocks, aimed for the intifada. It was an interesting experience.. to hang out in cafes with professors from NPR and personal friends of Jon Stewart. Intellectual PhD students walked around with Lyapanov and control theory texts in their bags, while I deciphered the intricacies of calculus, as Coldplay played in the background. In my favorite 'Brewed Awakenings' cafe, tripping on their hot chocolate mocha. I could have written my entire Ph.D proposal there, with my pals in the Mech. and Bio. Engg. departments, but the practicalities of life.. At least I deciphered the clarity of my soul and academic dreams..As my dear friend M, calls it, my 'avant-garde French revolution' writing place. In Seattle, it's the 'B n Espresso' in buzzy Capitol Hill, but that's another story.
 
Beyond the poetic rhapsodization, I swung between Berkeley and Stanford in that one week and absorbed two worldviews..both equally lovable in a strange sense. Though they are traditionally supposed to be the classic rivals, ad infinitum.

Stanford is the Renaissance, with the arches and domes and furrowed students walking past the long promenades. Whenever I am there, I am dazzled by the dust in the air, emanating an air of regality/ elegance. The talks by the med school Professors on their literary genres and hanging out with my close friend R in the Stanford bookstore. buying 2 dollar Thomas Manns. He is my friend from Delhi and good old DU, who literally lives in the NASA center next door and caffeine and books. His work was part of the flight to Mars, so that was an incredible high in itself.

And Berkeley is the Paris of the 1780s..brewing coffees and 'intifadas' in its innumerable cafeterias, bookstores and meet-up clubs. Clubs. Clubs is where it all began. The French revolution began with the Jacobin Clubs, the Enlightenment version of the modern day 'meet up' where journalists, intellectuals and like-minded activists hung out.. and planned the overthrow of the European order. I was reminded of it from the innumerable AID meetings (Association for India's Development) to literary and film societies.. teeming all over the place, like rugs. I didn't have enough time to do justice to all of them, though I did hang out with one, at the 'Au Coco Lait' cafe in Berkeley - another caffeinated hub of the intellect and the arty avant-garde types.

The graduate programs in both places are equally intricate as a maze, but complement each other in incredible ways. The brilliant Alexandr Lyapunov and his systems theory is common to both of them, being some of the top centers of control theory in the world. Lyapunov is one of my heroes, intellectual, scientific and social. A Russian revolutionary in the true sense of the word. A brilliant mathematician and the father of modern control theory, an incredible social idealist - and romantic, who killed himself after the demise of his wife.

Systems biology, being the newest conceptual breakthoughs in science, which will change its face for the next century. A field which exquisitely combines science, math and medicine into one jigsaw whole. Peering into cells, molecules, entire body systems and diseases with calculus. Modeling pregnancies, TB and brain tumours - and developing some of the most cutting-edge medicines for them..already saving lives. How cool is that.. pure unadulterated math making medicine. With that excruciating calculus component which I am always trying to conquer, it fascinates me as the new face of science. Just as cell biology and quantum physcis were at the turn of the century.

My Ph.D and revolution and literary dreams linger there ..and the labs of UCSF, the other medical hub, smelling of cadavers which give life. A medical university which combines global health, social conscience and cutting-edge research, with some of best looking residents I have seen. Incredible dinners and parties on Embarcadero with conversations from bioscience and colonialism in the Middle East. UCSF smells of medicine. Pure, anatomical and cadaver-ridden, medicine. It reels your senses and is not for the faint-hearted. I interviewed in one of their labs for a corpus-callosum study on brain imaging..and the fragility of the grant system came through. Of places which fund the biotech hedge-funds of the world. How ironic, that capital markets live off the intellectual capital, of places that are deprived of capital.  But that is another story. To be continued..
 
 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ishq-wala Love


I see it coming.
The face of sunshine in the snow.
The smile of love in the snow.
Snowflakes fill my soul.
With Ishq-wala Love.

I'm coming home..
To Ishq-wala Love.
Isn't that the only thing that matters?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Honest feedback

I recently got some honest feedback from well-intentioned friends, about how much of my blogs were talking about "religion" and "inter-faith" issues. I am grateful for these friends, who brought me to this insight. Like throwing cold water to the face.
I looked at my blog and I was shocked.
A single, independent woman with two Masters degrees from Europe and America -  and publications in the Guardian and a multi-cultural background like mine.
Yes, it would have seemed odd. Very odd.

Then I realized that I was letting that one experience, which shook my world 10 years ago, still affect my life.
Being caught in this insane 'religious' violence in India, facing a life and death situation, in 2002. My hand shakes talking about it. Seeing victims of the most inhumane atrocities in the relief camps in my beloved Delhi. Which changed my world.. and what I thought of it. I haven't talked about it since.. though it simmers in my words on my blog and other places. The festering wound of how human beings can slaughter each other in the name of "religion" and justify it. I cannot repeat the atrocities which were witnessed and are well-documented.
How my "feminist" co-worker, researching female foeticide, looked at gang-rapes of pregnant women and said, "THEY asked for it.. these people are all traitors anyways.."
That broke my back.
But like many war journalists, who witness violence first hand, there is a journey to healing.. and recognising it is the first step.
The couldnt-care less Delhiite with neon dreams and the desire to conquer space..felt in those few days that nothing one achieved or how liberal one was, mattered to those mobs.
But I decided, that I will not let this control my life anymore, without realizing how much subconsciously I still was.
I thank these amazing, insightful and honest friends for throwing the cold water in my face.. and I wake up, look at myself and wonder what became of me.
For realizing a wound, is the first step to healing it.. and sometimes honest feedback, however brutal, works like bitter medicine, long needed.

This 'freedom' of mine is a hard earned freedom. With blood, toil and passionate motivation, When I was returning to the US for my second Masters, AFTER the above experiences, I was told time and again to "get married" to some nice guy, yaar. There were plenty of options from my friends and family circle. But none took my heart.."Why do you need to do this on your own. You have the looks, brains and so forth.You can always go to grad school AND be married". But somehow, I felt repelled by the idea of planning a marriage for 'security'. Somewhere in me, the idealist persisted - and how it's brought me beautiful experiences I wouldnt want to trade for a bourgoise ring. I am NOT a bohemian libertine from any angle.. but then why does a woman need to justify her dignity and independence of spirit?  Yes, I had my insecurities due to my traumatic experiences, but then who doesn't? But I didn't trade my soul or crack..but kept on believing. It maybe easy for guys who have not fought these battles, to see me with that fragile 'good-looking' face, which only shows the girl who did modeling assignments during her undergrad days - and keeps the happy smile of the Delhi girl. Which she will always be at heart.

I prefered to starve, than ask my loving and gentle ex for any financial help, when I was job-hunting. He never knew..despite being a management consultant a top-notch firm. He never knew.. when I could have asked him for gifts and job references, about how hard I worked to make ends meet during grad school and afterwards during the recession. I never asked him for the Prada bags and Gucci shoes, when he could have showered them on me.. his love was enough for me.

Someday the men will also understand, that we women have the spirits of a warrior beneath the high cheekbones.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My friend Siddartha

"Although Siddhartha fled from the Self a thousand times, the return was inevitable.."
- Hermann Hesse, Nobel Laureate in 'Siddartha'

Today, I am missing my friend Siddhartha. A lot.
Siddartha is the name of some of my closest friends in Delhi, my buddies through life and Pink Floyd songs and driven dreams of Ivy Leagues and Latin America and spiritual trips in Nepal. And my current screen favorite in India, Siddartha Malhotra; who epitomizes that cool vibe for me. The hip Delhi streets, with Dylan t-shirts, blazing ambition and self-belief. I can't believe that drive is still fueling me. That desire to achieve greatness. Be it a Nobel or Pulitzer or a tenure at an Ivy League. Even a contract with an international music company or an Investment banking firm with fair motives.

Siddartha is a Pali word that means "One who is meaning, in himself."
But on a different note.. Siddartha is my favorite book by Hermann Hesse. His hero for me. The one who went on a quest and found himself.
This was the only book that ever resonated with me. Though I looked at others through the years..I almost bought into a lot of the authoritarianism, but..

None. I saw none of the authoritarian texts that made sense to me, as much as this one little book written by a bespectacled German in the 1930s. I respect all 'systems', but Siddhartha stayed with me.
It started my first love story. It ended my second one.
I remember reading it in one go, when I was 16.
The best part about it was the 'not following' anyone.
I loved that Siddhartha refused to join the Buddha’s order. Become part of any organized institution.
Weird, when I feel into the same ‘maya/illusion’, but I kept a part of me intact.
My first love, who read Siddhartha with me in one go and how we called each other 'Siddhartha'. We said we would never give in. We would seek and find. And how we almost forgot.. and fell..but are awakening.
My second love is still seeking. It’s brutal, but he will find the way.

Siddartha is the power and force of believing in yourself.
Siddartha is me at 23, walking through Paris on my own, discovering the revolution beaneath the Place de la Bastille.
To get lost in an insane 'religious' conflict, almost die and yet escape unscathed. To heal yourself..
To keep it intact through the innumerable 'Aunties' and institutions and 'get married' and labels. And standing up to patriarchy and identity. Little did I know when I read Siddhartha, how much 'he' would be tested. Being a girl in a South Asian culture made me a ready candidate for the test. A girl who only believed in love and not labels. Who thought an 'registered' marriage would be the only way she would 'institutionalize' her true love, felt guilty about not having big desi wedding. Who me? It's not fancy.
Being a hardworking graduate student in an MS Engineering program, living with your loved one, without seeking approval of people..despite the close-knit community of your 'home' culture. I dont't even think it is such a big deal for two adult human beings in grad school.but don't know how slowly I fell into the same trap of cultural pressure. And being 'dumped' for not being the right 'religion' after giving 9 years of your life to someone..it's not fancy. At least I realize it now. I put words to it. Broken, scared but still writing.

Me, for whom love was the smoky cold breath in the snow. Walking hand in hand in long coats..it still is. How did it happen? And now it is coming back.. all that. The snow. The winter. The hand in hand. I can see it coming :) And am so excited..no more pressures.. just being me and Being with my Siddartha.

And it’s strange how Love, connects you to things. For me love has been a connection of quests. I have never loved anybody who didn’t have that.
Sometimes with love, you don’t have to do anything, but awaken each other. Bring out the soul within each other, like a beautiful melody from a lute. Both times, in my life, love has brought those precious blessings. Not ownership, but belonging.

Siddartha is someone I miss a lot..a crazy, seeking soul-mate, who is still searching, But doesnt find the peace beneath the bourgoise veneer of Prada bags and Gucci shoes.
Siddartha is that Ivy League vibe I love.. walking through the snow with a long black coat and a cool love next to me, throwing snowflakes at each other. And reading poetry from Lorca, as we go out to conquer our lab.
Siddartha is me.
And sometimes he is caught..and sometimes he is free. But continues on his quest. To break free of the shackles, that aren't really there.
And there is another Siddartha.. a flesh and blood one.. who is looking for me and I am looking for him. He wear a coat with a muffler and drinks a croissant with a black coffee, looking back at his ex-girlfriends and walks on, with me.
After all, isnt love about awakening the Siddartha in each other?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Trip to the Rainforest

Yesterday I made a trip home to the Amazon rainforest.
As part of a trip to the .. Zoo, it was amazing walking though the simulated trees, parakeets, adders, fiches and monkeys of the Amazon.
and then to the African savannah, where the giraffes run. along side the gazelles..

more to come.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Plum brandy and Gauloise

is the foundation of the modern republic.
Vive la republique!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Class

I have finally arrived in a class-less society.
Capitalist but classless.

I like the idea of waiting tables
and throwing out my own trash.
Inventing an algorithm
driving my own car through
the streets with no name.

The sense of oppression I felt in South Asia
is gone.
Boom.
Kaputt.
It's a place where people cook their own meals
and wash their own clothes.
How lovely.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life is Beautiful

Weekend with Bolsheviks, Frida and Anne Frank.

And some black coffee.

Life is beautiful.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti: Part Deux

I am always amazed at the good old Guardian, the bastion of the British Left, which never ceases to open my eyes and shake me out of my bourgoise complacency.

Here is what I read this morning, though I knew the general gist of Haiti's colonial past and the Marisposas in neighboring Dominican Republic. I just had to reproduce these parts, they say it all. It's a familiar story..from Iraq to Vietnam. "Colonize" and then "aid".

Quote: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/13/our-role-in-haitis-plight
(From: Our role in Haiti's plight, by Peter Hallward)

Any large city in the world would have suffered extensive damage from an earthquake on the scale of the one that ravaged Haiti's capital city on Tuesday afternoon, but it's no accident that so much of Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone. Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.

Haiti is routinely described as the "poorest country in the western hemisphere". This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression.

It is this poverty and powerlessness that account for the full scale of the horror in Port-au-Prince today. Since the late 1970s, relentless neoliberal assault on Haiti's agrarian economy has forced tens of thousands of small farmers into overcrowded urban slums. Although there are no reliable statistics, hundreds of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents now live in desperately sub-standard informal housing. The selection of the people living in such places and conditions is itself no more "natural" or accidental than the extent of the injuries they have suffered. Those people got there because they or their parents were intentionally pushed out of the countryside by aid and trade policies specifically designed to create a large captive and therefore exploitable labour force in the cities; by definition they are people who would not be able to afford to build earthquake resistant houses.

The international community has been effectively ruling Haiti since the 2004 coup. The same countries scrambling to send emergency help to Haiti now, however, have during the last five years consistently voted against any extension of the UN mission's mandate beyond its immediate military purpose. Proposals to divert some of this "investment" towards poverty reduction or agrarian development have been blocked, in keeping with the long-term patterns that continue to shape the ­distribution of international "aid".

The same storms that killed so many in Haiti in 2008, hit Cuba just as hard but killed only four people. Cuba has escaped the worst effects of neoliberal "reform", and its government retains a capacity to defend its people from disaster. If we are serious about helping Haiti through this latest crisis then we should take this comparative point on board. Along with sending emergency relief, we should ask what we can do to facilitate the self-empowerment of Haiti's people and public institutions. If we are serious about helping we need to stop ­trying to control Haiti's government, to pacify its citizens, and to exploit its economy. And then we need to start paying for at least some of the damage we've already done.

unqoute.
still figuring that one out..

Friday, January 8, 2010

My songs..

petrovski: "1. ...Nach Gro�wardein (Hermann Rosenzweig / Anton Groiss) - New Budapest Orpheum Society"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moritz, Sebastian et al


SO, what is with me and these uber-cool European men?
Seems like I have a proclivity to find/fall for the Moritz and Sebastian Koch type. My prototype of L'homme Ideal et al.

Nor surprising, since I dated a couple of lookalikes way back as misty eyed grad student..the intelligence ridden eyes with the uber-hotness, but in a suave understated way. I do not fall for many of the usual icons of Bollywood.. the SRKS and all. Aamir Khan though was and is a favorite. but I love him like a a cutie pie, 'Bade Mamu' (and 'Sunju' of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar).

But Moritz, aah is a different thing. Those life infused days in Paris, sleeping at the Sorbonne and walking through the Montmatre landscape, lounging students around, and my ex-calling me and asking me sweet questions in his German infused English. I wish I hadnt gone down the desi route..back to the idiot I was dating in school. Stupid desi baggage, I am still trying to unload. My whole idea of relationships, has come back home..to the girl I used to be. To the Moritzes and Berndts and Jans. Thing with them is that they dont have the machismo, (at least most)the air of male bravado, which even the cutest Latin guys may carry. I'd like the breakfast making, slightly feminine male, who is male enough to acknowledge his female side, and sparkles with the incandescent intelligence of a New York Times editorial, smoothing from Revolution to baking a linzertorte when I am in the mood and walking by the Seine in a beret, hot coffee in his hands. Anyways, I have held the bliss of Moritz in my life..and so much happier for it. :)

A relationship like an avant-garde postcard, backpacking in the Himalayas or Andes, smooth as silk and risky as a high rise cliff, but you've never felt safer..

Friday, November 27, 2009

Revolution aka Bhagat Singh

He's always been my guy. :)
Featured in the much touted 'Rang de basanti', he influenced me years before.
My grandmom was a little girl in Lahore they day he was hanged. By the British rulers, at the tender age of 23. He gave himself up to the Brits, after exploding a sound bomb in the Lahore Assembly and shouting 'Inquilab zindabad'(Long live the revolution), which became the slogan for the anti-imperialist movement, which brought down the British empire.
A towering intellectual, poet and revolutionary, his prison writings, from Urdu and Perisan poetry to European revolutionary thought is eye-opening. His essay 'Why I am an atheist' shakes one up and makes one think..again.

--

'By Revolution we mean that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice must change. Producers or labourers, in spite of being the most necessary element of society, are robbed by their exploiters of their labour and deprived of their elementary rights. The peasant who grows corn for all, starves with his family; the weaver who supplies the world market with textile fabrics, has not enough to cover his own and his children's bodies; masons, smiths and carpenters who raise magnificent palaces, live like pariahs in the slums. The capitalists and exploiters, the parasites of society, squander millions on their whims.

- Bhagat Singh, Indian revolutionary, 1907-1931

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To Sofia

Sofia Kovaleskaya, creator of the Kovalesky therom, was the first woman to earn her doctorate in mathemetics in all of Europe and Russia, despite not being allowed to attend classes..
- Dr. Ann Liebowitz, Women in Science

We've worked hard to get here
despite sweating blood every month.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home

Why do I feel more at home in Germany than I do in any other place in the world.
the sound of the language which made me go around with three Germans, back to back.
The sound of Gauss and math and symphonies.
I dont feel at home in English, though I have been forced to speak it all my life.
Hindustani/Urdu I grew up with.
But none of it is home..
Ich verstehe nicht..

Remember that moment on Frankfurt airport when I walked up the the old man with hat and briefcase and said 'Shalom'.
That was home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Russians

Believe me when I say to you,
the Russians love their children too..
- Sting


How we loved Russia..
growing up.

Land of Marx and Das Kapital (well,not literally)
land of Boris Pasternak and the Bolsheviks, who brought down the Czar.

Beloved land of music and Mendeleev
molcules like their music.

Land of Tchaikovksy and his ballerinas, floating like swans on the frozen Neva.
Land of my first Love and Leningrad.
Land of Petrovski and Trotsky, mad with revolutionary rage.
Molotov cocktails in the their eyes, ballerinas in their hearts.
Death in their souls,
Dostoyevsky in their dining rooms
chopping sausages like their hearts.

Long frozen snow covered Urals, flying by Yuri Zhivago's train.

Pasha Antipov and his passion for the peasants..
those sturdy rock hard sons of the Mother
born in India and Pakistan and China and Peru and Colombia
and Argentina..
as Che.

I loved them all..
and now they are all mafias.
Drunk on gold and Bangkok booze
and call girls
roam the sanctum of the Kirov*

*The Kirov is the world famous legendary Ballet theatre, going back centuries.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mom and Dad and Dad: Homosexuality in the animal kingdom


Came across this amazing article, which reinforces what I have been saying all along.
That we are all 'ardh-narishwaras'..yin and yang.

This line is particularly telling:
"Homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" are terms defined by societal boundaries, invisible in the animal kingdom.

-----
http://www.livescience.com/animals/061116_homosexual_animals.html

Some argue that homosexual sex could have a bigger natural cause than just pure ecstasy: namely evolutionary benefits.
It could be used for alliance and protection among animals of the same sex. In situations when a species is mostly bisexual, homosexual relationships allow an animal to join a pack.
"In bonobos for instance, strict heterosexual individuals would not be able to make friends in the flock and thus never be able to breed," Bockman told LiveScience. "In some bird species that bond for life, homosexual pairs raise young.

Almost a quarter of black swan families are parented by homosexual couples. Male couples sometimes mate with a female just to have a baby. Once she lays the egg, they chase her away, hatch the egg, and raise a family on their own.
"Homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" are terms defined by societal boundaries, invisible in the animal kingdom.
contd.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fabian Socialist nostalgia et al

I am feeling intellectually deprived.
Starved in a way..
Wish I could be back in the London of the '30s, hanging with the Fabian Socialists, Oscar Wilde et al. Shaw and Virginia Wollfe, sipping Martinis at bookstore cafes in the West End.

If I have to watch one more American mind-numbing carb-loaded TV show..I'll be ill.

Can sex and the city, love, music, babies ever be a substitute for intellectual stimulation?
Can men ever make up for poetry and the Love song of J Alfred Prufock?
Can a diamond replace the intellectual trip which comes from peeping into the heart of a molecule?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flowers in my hair

Blooms
orchids
bird of paradise
bloom
in my hair
and heart..

Singing to me of the man
of the sun and sea
bringing his hands
with
his heart..

Sweet
like little birds
they run
up and down
my window
laughing at me
with his eyes..

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Habillez moi (Dress me)

Its the buzz..
of waking up.
Like sipping coffee
even though I am off it
for the day.
I have another high.

Feeling lace
legs
feet..
trimmed
tasted
bare.
on the green
grass..

Today

Today is the time to wake up and be free.
Today is the time to go running and breathe in the fresh air, aspire for Jimmy Choos, fall in love, make it big.
Today is the day to go on the 'Skinny Bitch' diet, of Japanese noodles and organic earthquakes.
My body is reeling
from the impact..

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beret Man


So, I have fallen in love..again. With the lost part of my self, I rediscovered on the streets of DC..
city of boulevards and cafes, revolutionaries and artists, untrapped in museums made of light.
I loved it all. The soul of America, as it was born..
Conceived in Baahston, born in DC and bred on the rough streets of NY.
The holy trinity of my love story.
Boston is like french Foie gras, delicate.. love struck, with a glass of wine, you find ubiqutously flowing down its streets..
New York is a barbequed steak- hot and spicy, grilled on the streets of BrooHklyn, with a De Niro accent. (Whot aah you ttohh-kin aahbout)
DC is a gentle delicate kebab..Renaissance artist, filled with the fresh spices of the French enlightenment..gentle and charming, beautiful beret man.
I dont know who I love more..

Monday, August 4, 2008

Macchu Pichhu man

It happens to me everytime I meet a hispanic man.
The fizz
the ride up to Machhu Pichhu
I become an eagle feather
floating above
rocks
revolutions
coffee springs
ripe with red
flowers.

Guantanamera
becomes my name
marisposa (butterfly) with the
tank top.

Marisol (Sea and sun)
and Marisombre (Sea and shadow)
I become both..
riding the
slow scorching
heat of
the desert.
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