Thursday, October 13, 2011

A performance poem in response to Ruchi Bhimani's post of There Are Not Enough of Us by Adiran Mitchell on my Facebook Wall

‎'A (somewhat cheesy towards the end) performance poem in response to Ruchi Bhimani's post of There Are Not Enough of Us by Adiran Mitchell on my Facebook Wall'

If all that we knew had to be shrunk
From the follies of a monk
To the sapience of a drunk
Thesauri of cumulative nomenclature
"E is M C squared" kind of consignature
To the size of a grain, or a cell in the brain,
To the strain of the cell that's right as the rain
It might not be vain, to sound
This little concern that last time around
It drowned, and when found
It stunk of a skunk,
The bottle with the message sunk
And a big fat chunk of genetic literature
Lied filed as "junk".

There are two kinds that notably fail
One that's lost meaning like the great ape's tail
And the one that is topsyturvied,
labyrinthian, obscured by a veil.
And there are many ways still why it wont work -
It's simply wrong or a system with a quirk.
But it's that which starts in verses, that disburses
The cure to death or the chess playing Turk.

Poetry is process: this cake will take time to bake
You get to Mitchell when you start with Blake
To answer the big question, a smaller one grew
You get another riddle, when you ask for a clue
So it all depends on wether you tap
A finger pointed at the sky or an exact map.

Let's get the bets right -

Put one for the absurd dialogue that goes ping….pong
Put one for the quark-slicing nano-knife
One for the Tambourine man's one last song
And one for that Pied piper's mendacious rife.

So how much of it works, how much sucks?
Well how much does love and how much does life?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bookmarks for the night

Theo Jansen's kinetic sculptures

Dosa Maker

India Geo-Thermal Energy

Zhang Linhai

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Much Ago About Never

(This one's a completely improvised piece I wrote sometime back. Actors and directors are welcome to stage it, creative commons and all, but a prior notice will be appreciated.)

Creative Commons License
Much Ago About Never by Anand Gandhi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 India License.


Grandma: Who told you about the milkman?

Temptress: I eavesdropped on your quarrel with mother. She said you would get free milk in exchange of…

Grandma: That's preposterous! You must have been in your cradle! How can you claim to remember that?

Temptress: Is that uncommon?

Grandma: Well, of course! It's unheard of.

Temptress: I remember many things.

Grandma: Like what?

Temptress: You sound worried.

Grandma: I wouldn't worry even if I believed what you were saying was true.

Temptress: You think I am lying!

Grandma: Why should you?

Temptress: Why should I what?

Grandma: Lie.

Temptress: But I am not!

Grandma: You are not?

Temptress: Lying!

Grandma: Do you remember her face?

Temptress: Vaguely. I can put it together with a lot of effort, hold it for a fraction of a second, and then it disappears again.

(Grandma looks away in thought. Temptress notices something in grandma's teacup. She pulls it out. Grandma notices her dipping her fingers in her tea. She grows suspicious. Temptress freezes.)

Grandma: What is that?

Temptress: Seems like a fly.

(Grandma slaps the girl.)

Grandma: Why would you do that?

Temptress: (indignant) Do what?

Grandma: Why would you put a foresaken fly in my tea?

Temptress: (throws the fly back into the tea) I was throwing it out, you foolish hag!

(Grandma realizes that she hit the child in vain.)

Grandma: Aww, forgive me, please. Forgive me, my dear Temptress. Has it been your day yet?

Temptress: Why do you ask so often? I'll tell you when it is.

Grandma: Can I see your bloomers from last night?

(Temptress hands over her underwear. Grandma inspects it. It's almost ritualistic.)

Grandma: Not your day yet, huh?

Temptress: You are so easy to manipulate, aren't you? I was wearing knickers, too.

(Grandma throws the bloomers aside. Becomes highly anxious with speculation. Temptress hands her another underwear.)

Temptress: Here.

(Grandma inspects it. Temptress gives out a hearty laughter.)

Grandma: Why, you evil little whore! Where did you get these?

Temptress: In mother's closet.

Grandma: (surprised) You could open it again?

(Temptress nods.)

Grandma: Why didn't you call me?

Temptress: I was scared.

Grandma: Well, of what?

Temptress: Of ending the pact.

Grandma: The pact? There is no pact!

Temptress: There might be. An unsaid one. What if calling you would end it? What if it would never open again to me, like it never opens to you!

Grandma: That's mighty presumptuous! It opens to me just as often!

Temptress: Why would you be so desperate to see it open, otherwise?

Grandma: To make sure we see the same things.

Temptress: You can ask me.

Grandma: Alright, then.

(Grandma pulls out the fly from her teacup, sips on her tea, calculating.)

Temptress: Ask away!

Grandma: Is there a...

Temptress: No!

(Grandma realises the complicated method Temptress has chosen to save her the embarrassment of not having seen the contents of the closet. She plays along.)

Grandma: Is the... still there?

Temptress: Yes.

Grandma: You saw it?

Temptress: Yes.

(The game is making grandma happy, she has almost begun to believe that she is able to open the closet, as well.)

Grandma: Did you look inside the inner drawers?

Temptress: Yes, I did.

Grandma: Did you find an old...

(Temptress decides to sign out of the game, abruptly, leaving grandma hanging.)

Grandma: What-do-you-call-it...

Temptress: (crosses her arms and raises her brow in mock challenge) What?

Grandma: That thing...

Temptress: You should know when to stop, really. Now, think about this! If you had stopped after having your satisfaction at the second question, you would have saved us both this situation.

Grandma: (begs) Please...

Temptress: (takes a moment before agreeing to rescue her) Yes, the old aluminium canister with the embossed peacock was still there. Is that what you were asking about?

Grandma: Of course that! The old aluminium canister with the embossed blue peacock.

Temptress: Green!

Grandma: But, of course! The green peacock. Was it green, really? It seemed blue in the dark.

Temptress: It's green.

Grandma: Bluish green?

Temptress: Green!

Grandma: But, of course. Ahh, I had seen it the last time I opened it.

(Temptress changes her mind.)

Temptress: There is no such thing as the old aluminium canister with an embossed peacock, green or blue, in the drawer.

Grandma: There is. I saw it.

Temptress: You didn't, because I just made it up!

Grandma: Why are you doing this to me? What have I done to you?

Temptress: Why are you so suspicious?

Grandma: No missy! It is becoming rather evident that you are the one who's suspicious. What's your conspiracy theory? I am waiting for you to come of age so I can sell you to a high roller? Can it not be something purer? An old granny worrying about why her sixteen year old granddaughter has not yet been touched by the Goddess!

Temptress: You want me to bleed and ache. That's pure! Pure what? Primal desire? Basic instinct? Pure bull-dung!

(Grandma pushes a spittoon in Temptress's face)

Grandma: Spit!

(Temptress stiffens her lips and shakes her head)

Grandma: Spit it out, young lady!

(Temptress keeps her mouth tightly shut, gets up and starts walking away. Grandma puts her walking stick in her way.)

Grandma: If you think I am going to allow you to walk away with that foulness in your mouth, you are gravely mistaken.

(Temptress spits in the spittoon.)

Temptress: Might as well. Damn! (Spits. Grandmother's jaw drops). Hell! (Spits again.) Scallywag! (Spits) Mangy rascal! Gundygut! (Spits twice)

Grandma: That should be enough.

Temptress: Gadzooks! Cor Blimey! (Spits twice)

Grandma: Stop, I implore you!

(Grandma tries to shut Temptress' mouth. The young lady dodges. Grandma shuts her own ears.)

Temptress: Bloody! (Spits. Makes an accidental sound like "Fuck" while spitting)

Grandma: What was that?

Temptress: What?

Grandma: The last curse.

Temptress: Bloody (Spits again)

Grandma: After that. You said fink or fuck or something like that.

Temptress: (confused) Did I?

Grandma: Is that a new curse?

Temptress: It's the sound of me spitting when there's no spit left in my mouth. Fuck.

Grandma: Goodness, gracious!

Temptress: (changes her mind) As a matter of fact, it is a new curse.

Grandma: What does it mean?

Temptress: (Thinking fast) It means… (lost for an idea) a very mean thing.

Grandma: What?

Temptress: (goes for it) Fornication! (Spits. Grandma gasps, closes her ears again.)

Grandma: No!

Temptress: Jementous slubberdegullion! Gadzooks! Blood of Christ!

(Grandma lets out an even louder gasp. Temptress spits twice. Grandma snatches the spittoon away before she can spit the third time.)

Grandma: You can't spit blasphemy out. It gets stamped on your soul.

(Grandma exits. Temptress gets really worried and spits a few times and joins her hands in prayer. Grandma returns with a soap and a bucket of water. Temptress switches back to being casual.)

Grandma: Open your mouth!

Temptress: No! (Runs. Grandma chases her.)

Grandma: Can't you see child? I am trying to save you, here. Let me wash your soul.

Temptress: You can't wash souls!

Grandma: Do not argue with the written word.

Temptress: I want to see where it's written that you can wash souls with a soap and a bucket of water.

Grandma: But that will be a complete waste of very precious time. It would be too late then. The marks will become permanent like those of small pox!

Temptress: How do I believe it then?

Grandma: Multitudes of people do it everyday.

Temptress: I haven't seen any.

Grandma: They do it in India! (An after thought) Albeit, they do it without a soap. In the water of a river. Poor coolies!

Temptress: (getting aggravated) But I reckon you had mentioned that they have no souls.

Grandma: (Wisely) They do have souls, child. Only they are lesser ones. Greater than mice and monkeys. Lesser than men and lions.

(Temptress gets really agitated. Grandma gets more composed.)

Temptress: What about wild boars?

Grandma: What about them?

Temptress: Are the souls of these Indians you mention greater than those of wild boars?

Grandma: Yes, they are.

Temptress: Elephants?

Grandma: No, lesser than those of elephants.

Temptress: Camels?

Grandma: Greater than camels.

Temptress: Foxes?

Grandma: Them too, yes.

Temptress: Unicorns?

Grandma: Lesser than unicorns.

Temptress: Lizards?

Grandma: Greater.

Temptress: Greater, whose?

Grandma: Greater, the Indian's

Temptress: Fairies?

Grandma: (unquestionable certainty) Surely, lesser than fairies. What kind of a question is that?

Temptress: Gnomes?

Grandma: About the same.

Temptress: Snakes?

Grandma: Snakes have no souls, child.

Temptress: Dinosaurs?

Grandma: What are they?

Temptress: The giant lizards mentioned in Lord Richard Owen's manuscripts.

Grandma: Oh, they are mythical creatures. Surely you don't believe in such mumbo jumbo!

Temptress: Well, I thought…

Grandma: Dear Lord! How forgetful of me! Wash your mouth first and then we shall talk.

Temptress: Is there an alternative?

Grandma: You can whip yourself.

Temptress: How many times?

Grandma: Once shall suffice.

Temptress: Alright.

(Temptress exits.)

Grandma: (self) Fuck! (spits) Fuck! (spits) Fuck! (spits) That relieved the pain in my shoulder muscles. Fuck! (spits) There's something peace endowing about this curse. Fuck! (spits) Surely, if this is what it makes me feel, then it must be a… (it dawns upon her) Oh, forgive me Lord, for I have sinned!

(Grandma starts aggressively washing her mouth with the soap and the water. Foam spills out of her mouth. Temptress enters with a whip, is shocked to see grandma in this state, then understands, and carries on with her own business. She braces herself tightly in anticipation of the sting, and swings the whip around. Firecrackers burst. Blackout.)

Grandma: (with a mouthful) But the milkman and I never fucked! (a loud spit).


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The desperate justification of is...

Gather information. Go forth. Record, consume, analyse, remember. What has been left out? The eagle's eye, the bat's ear, the mantis shrimp's colour receptors? Can I have your this? I'll take your that! Oh, and oh, flight! Learn. The hardware will work for now. Who got it more right? The diaspora or the collective? The giant ever stretching reef with a common mind or the big cat, fending for itself. The fungal spore or the ape? Get them all, and put them in one. Even some metals or minerals? The chimp's photographic memory, but wasn't it a voluntary barter? How would they know who to imitate? Predator and prey, alike. The games will play on. Let gold glow like the sun in the mind's eye. Make the fruit sweet and delicious. If it feels good, it is good. How to limit excess? Weigh contradictions? Exchange and infer, exchange and infer. Collect and analyse. To act upon memory? Punish and reward. Incentivise. Invent pleasure and pain and everything in between. But why? It will all get somewhere, someday. Where? Who knows? Not even the ocean or the sky know. Then? It can only be better. Why? Someday all of this won't be enough. Then, how? Disperse and re-assemble. Go through forms. That's a truer exchange. Any alternative to dispersion? Record in the smallest. Small has longevity. It will all take time. Very long. So why bother? Well, why not? What else is there to do, now that you got so far? So, play along. Might as well. Or else? Go back to nothing? Neither matters, but this makes more sense, because sense, also like everything else, IS. Why keep dispersing? Because you don't love yourself all that much. In that case? Organise. Level. Soldiers and workers. Leaders and analysts. What a bore! There's more. The greatest promise? Transcendence, of course. A meaningless trap like that? How can that work when nothing matters? Because it's come to be. Once it is, it continues to be. It wants to continue? Wanting presumes knowing the clock. It just does. It's never going to stop then, is it? It will. When? When it knows everything, maybe. When can that be? When everything has been everything. Keep circling like that to no end? And what assurance is there that it won't all start again? Maybe, it will. Maybe, it always does. That's so tiring! Maybe, but what else is there? You know a better game?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flower tea

A melange of Ceylon green Sencha tea, hibiscus, sunflower petals, chamomile, cornflower blossoms and rose petals cooked in milk with one spoonful of gulkand (Rose petals in sugar syrup) this morning... A tea that tasted like a morning walk through nostalgia.

- Posted on the go.

Worrying about arthritis...

I said to Leonard Cohen, "How lonely does it get?"
Leonard Cohen said, "Insufficient data for a meaningful answer, yet."

- Posted on the go.

Location:Half asleep

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

and as long as it brought me no harm...

Thought I'll share this link, after all. This is like having to prove the world is not flat using google images, because there are still some fools out there who claim otherwise. It should have been so bloody obvious that it would be ridiculously excessive even to have to make videos to prove a self evident point. And yet the need for reason exists, because of the infinite lack of it. A rare supply of reason and clarity rushes to meet up with the demands of obscurity and ambiguity from a civilisation shit scared of its imminent mortality. Demands in the form of schizophrenic multitudes so desperate to escape the horror of the real, so transfixed with the promise of the transcendental, so childlike in the stubborn naivety, and so dangerously attached to the fantasy, that they would defend it with their lives. We turn a blind eye towards collective blindness and have to bear witness to the messiahfication of morons and murderers.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Second Genome

Looking to find more information about the Second Genome project. Any recommendations?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mediocrity - a midnight rant after being woken up by mosquitoes.

Look at the ugly buildings springing up everywhere in the city (including the recent excessively expensive one - a friend suggested that the enigmatic W like column on the facade is actually an inverted M seen from a higher floor). An entire generation poisoned by the ugliness and regressiveness of contemporary Indian television and cinema might still someday grow up and grow out. The subverting of an entire nation's intelligence at the hands of heavyheaded producers with their heavy-handed obscenities might still be reverted someday (to what, though?). Goondahs looking down upon you from illegally put up political hoardings, daring you to evoke your rights as a free citizen, will someday be replaced. "We, the children of the 80s and 90s survived all of it, didn't we?" (or did we? Let's ask that as we bask in the glorious nostalgia of our ridiculous kitsch.) But these ugly unfriendly deformities of glass and steel are here to stay, at least a couple of decades. And there are those of us all willing to embrace it, even celebrate it in the name of colour and spontaneity. Most of us simply needed the western validation of the stench as a unique flavour. Sorry, I don't intend to attack anybody. This is, afterall, just a rant. My apologies to the city. It doesn't change our dynamics, ok? I mean my family lives here and I have no intention to go into an exile at this point (that should explain the cowardly tone in this rant - it's like the expletives you offer a reasonably amused truckdriver with your car window closed.) Every time there's an internal struggle between integrity and discretion, courage gives in, discretion takes over and I bow out from the battle of wits with the unarmed. The most liberal mind looks at the overwhelming data and wonders for a fleeting moment if mediocrity is a racial or an economical factor, and concludes that it's only a cultural predisposition. Note to myself: if you are not happy with the way it stands, change it or shut the fuck up. Alternatively, contribute to it and have a good time while you are around. Surely, there must be more solutions, but too late in the night for thoughts on saving Gotham city.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chutney Culture

I was amused by the popular Indo-Fijian culture (and with the Fijian history, in general). Too late in the night to write my impressions on Chutney Dancers and Indo-Fijian films (surprisingly, not called Follywood). But here are some links of interest:

Something called a "Coolie Mon Party" - couldn't find a Wiki page on it-

Another "Chutney Dance":

Trailer of a Fijian film "Ghar Pardes":

And while there's a mention of chutneys:

Meanwhile, there's an entire world of Chutney music out there, Indo-Caribbean in origin, but mainly pioneered by this gentleman: (This one's pure radiance with lyrics like "when we were children, you did promise me - that when you'll fall in, you'll fall in for me" and the very poetic "your mother will forsake you, your father will neglect you, but since I know you darling, I am dying for you" - a pot of Karagarga 1 GB for whoever transcribes the entire song! Chunky, it's time to change that caller-tune!) Another gem of wisdom from the late Sundar Popo:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Lives of a Cell

I am midway through a highly engrossing, eyeopening read that I landed upon, on a recommendation that I am now greatly thankful for. (Thanks, Manoje.) I surfed through the book with a highlighter in my hand with the intention of sharing a few quotes and excerpts. I found myself layering practically every other line with a florescent pink. Lewis Thomas' book gave me precisely what I went to it for - inspiration. And now I am glad I threw those half baked bits into my TEDx talk. Ofcourse, somebody kindly pointed out that the wheel has long been invented.

Here are some of the best bits from the first few pages (stripped a bit of context, though). I gave up marking after that. -

"A good case can be made for our nonexistence as entities. We are not made up, as we had always supposed, of successively enriched packets of our own parts. We are shared, rented, occupied. At the interior of our cells, driving them, providing the oxidative energy that sends us out for the improvement of each shining day, are the mitochondria, and in a strict sense they are not ours... Without them, we would not move a muscle, drum a finger, think a thought... I like to think that they work in my interest, that each breath they draw for me, but perhaps it is they who walk through the local park in the early morning, sensing my senses, listening to my music, thinking my thoughts. I am consoled, somewhat, by the thought that the green plants are in the same fix. They could not be plants, or green, without their chloroplasts, which run the photosynthetic enterprise and generate oxygen for the rest of us. As it turns out, chloroplasts are also separate creatures with their own genomes, speaking their own language."

"Our genomes are catalogues of instructions from all kinds of sources in nature, filed for all kinds of contingencies."

"Theodor, in a series of elegant experiments, has shown that when two individuals of the same species are placed in close contact, the smaller of the two will always begin to disintegrate. It is auto-destruction due to lytic mechanisms entirely under the governance of the smaller partner. He is not thrown out, not outgamed, not outgunned; he simply chooses to bow out."

And this he tells us with a disclaimer that "we violate science when we try to read human meanings in their (the insects') arrangements"-

"It is hard for a bystander not to do so. Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves. The families of weaver ants engage in child labor, holding their larvae like shuttles to spin out the thread that sews the leaves together for their fungus gardens. They exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television."

And this way of looking at ants was reminiscent of a really neat idea Pooja recently came up with... "Distant sources of food are somehow sensed, and long lines, like tentacles, reach out over the ground, up over walls, behind boulders, to fetch it in."

Then there's a lovely essay on pheromones that has instantly inspired a scifi/horror idea. :) Here's a sweet one from "A Fear of Pheromones" -

"It has been soberly calculated that if a single female moth were to release all the bombykol in her sac in a single spray, all at once, she could theoretically attract a trillion males in the instant. This is, of course, not done."

(The mention of the symbiotic relationship of sea crabs and sea anemones and the way the anemone finds its crab attaching itself to its host (very reminiscent to the wand finding its wizard) conjured a B-Movie image of a cheerleader with lethal pom-pons, permanently sewn into her hands.

Saw some really well made films - My Joy and Revanche... and some really crappy ones - Tron and The Tourist. (Btw, Ra.1 smells suspiciously similar to Tron Legacy, or is it just another half baked take on the Ghost in the Machine.? How can anything be worse than Tron: Legacy, I wonder! I guess the mention of RaOne will generate more traffic on this seldom visited blog. The visitors, thus attracted, will be as disappointed as the stall audiences of Hisss.)

And yeah, wishes of a happier new year to friends and family (there's now an app that searches and deletes all new year wishing messages from the phone).