Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Picture Perfect - October

Not all sibling relations boast of expressiveness. However, all sibling relations do have an undercurrent of love flowing richly through their invisible interiors. This love does not raise its head always; in fact, this love revels in chiding, in taking digs at each other - even in openly refuting the existence of any such love! Softer sides are not for everyone to take pride in. That said, it is also true that this soft, loving side gets activated when one sibling sees the other get threatened, vulnerable or melancholic. Somehow, troubling our brother/sister is entirely our prerogative, isn't it?

The above ranting is to give preface to the most wonderful visual which my eyes grazed on this whole month. It was a post-birthday gift for my sister - and its only once in years I get this expressive towards her. I thought I should share it on my blog.

PS - The super-cheesy lines on this poster are not mine; they belong to Hartley Coleridge.

PS 2- I think sometimes we want to make our siblings feel better so that 'we' (only we and no one else) can regain control on making their lives miserable. Especially if its a younger brother/sister we are talking about. Isn't it?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Image of Buddha - Guest Post

By Raghav Mimani

I am holding on to a black statue of Gautam Buddha in my hand. It’s about three and a half inches long; majestic, calm, impassive and smiling; and I am staring at it. And as I am doing so, it appears as if an entire narrative is unfolding itself in front of me. The princely Siddhartha leaving away all his riches and comforts of life to find the ultimate truth; now walking through the forest following crazy levels of austerity starved with his buttocks looking like a camel’s hoof and limbs like bamboo stems. Listening to and learning from the then established Gurus on meditation and salvation; sometimes debating on the philosophies of the world and at other times questioning the very purpose of our lives but still never appearing ‘holier than thou’. There is something about this man of ideas which has drawn countless folks in the past and continues to draw many a soul searching curious traveling beings even today as I write.

I am now looking at his Gandhara School of Art hair design; thinking of the moral revolution he experienced in his life journey. And I see in the backdrop Jawahar Lal Nehru’s ‘The Discovery of India’, which I have been meaning to read for quite some time now. So I lean forward and pick the book up looking for any text about Buddha that I may come across. And I do end up finding some. Two sub headings in the title-sake chapter 4 are devoted to him.  And it isn’t really a surprise for India’s history and its ‘discovery’ can never be completed without the Buddha. We may know of our world history through tales of wars and kingdoms and he may be an anomaly in that respect – being the ideas guy that he was. Yet his teachings and principles form the very essence of the future kings and the common public for the next many centuries; and still do even in contemporary times – Ambedkar anyone? And thus fittingly so, what I find in there makes for an apt description of the statue I am holding. “Seated on the lotus flower, calm and impassive, above passion and desire, beyond the storm and strife of this world, so far away he seems, out of reach, unattainable. Yet again we look and behind those still, unmoving features there is a passion and an emotion, strange and more powerful than the passions and emotions we have known. His eyes are closed, but some power of the spirit looks out of them and a vital energy feels the frame. The ages roll by and Buddha seems not so far away after all; his voice whispers in our ears and tells us not to run away from the struggle but, calm-eyed, to face it, and to see in life ever greater opportunities for growth and advancement.”

Images flutter within as the narrative gathers pace. I can see a glory hunting Ashoka at the blood ridden battlefield of the Kalinga War appalled by his desires fulfilling themselves at the expense of more than two hundred thousand lives. Ashoka, the Great! I can see the headless statue of one of the greatest but unfortunately not much publicly talked about kings of Indian history - Raja Kanishka of the Kushan Empire. How he embraced Buddhism, built magnificent Stupas and encouraged obsessively the translations of Buddhist literature in traditional Chinese. I think of the Taliban militants as they went about destroying many of the great treasures and artifacts of that age in their bid to impose their own ideology. The Buddhas of Bamiyan catch my attention as they are dynamited out of existence for one Mullah Omar found it idol enough to be against the principles of Islam. Even before him, the earlier so called lords of the land had thought it best to remove only the head of the statue for it had in some other way offended them. As if, the arts offending people can only be justified by people destroying art. Rulers after rulers, empires after empires have striven to rewrite history as they saw fit. Not writing it as one would hope they would be interested in but rewriting it. And so they have thought it best to demolish evidences of the actual events which took place before their time and instead give the world a view of history which they would like the world to have. Most of the times for glorification of their own ancestry; and at other times to establish supremacy of their selves over the common folks and those others around the world of whom they knew nothing about but only that they themselves are far superior to them others. The divine kings and queens, so to say, exercising God’s will. Unthinkable volumes of blood have been shed over this; innumerable places of worships and leisure have given their way to newer places and different forms of worship and leisure; and countless statues have seen the sculptor’s art go for a toss. And still the Buddha sits on his lotus throne calm and impassive, smiling as “the world renews itself every day”.

The Pale Blue Dot Theory is running wild in my head but I won’t go there for it’s a tale of some other time. Lots of talk about India – China is going around these days given the fifty years anniversary to the 1962 War. And somebody mentioned to me during one of the discussions about two ways of looking at history. One is to embrace it for it really happened whether one likes it or not – which is what India did at least partly. We are a proud and integral member of the Commonwealth for crying out loud; and most of our Central Government establishments in Delhi are a continuation of the British Raj with almost nothing changed. Rashtrapati Bhawan, The Parliament and the India Gate are but a few of the examples. Not to get carried away in any sense we do have a lot to hide our faces about as well – partition being one painful example but again it’s another tale for some other time. The other is to start off completely afresh from a clean sheet of paper disregarding what happened earlier. This is apparently what China did. Their boundaries were redrawn the way they saw it right having their hearts in the Middle Ages. The entire culture was revisited and unfitting pieces were thrown out. Glorification and other procedures followed. I am not advocating for any of the two. I do believe sometimes it’s needed to have a clean slate and at other times it’s equally important if not more to be duly aware of and emotionally invested and later disinvested to be objective about the past experiences. What I instead want to do is to look into our own selves. Don’t we collect memorabilia and souvenirs wherever we go? Click pictures at the drop of the hat? Sometimes to upload it on facebook and at other times to look back and smile at and adore our brilliance. Let’s face it! We are all hoarders and we like to collect memories most of them all. And many a times we want them to be better than they really are or were. And here you see is the genesis. As we want an exaggerated version of our happiness and glories to show it to our very own selves and of course also to show the world of our supposed awesomeness, we stop being honest with ourselves. Evidences of truth give way to what suits the narrative. The horrible dish at the restaurant is not mentioned because of that amazing looking sundae. All of us are escaping from something which I believe differs from person to person. But many of us are very much escaping into our own la la lands. And don’t you dare talk about it being a bubble! I wish to pass no judgment on this for I can’t. I am as much a part of this as anyone else. And I believe that the truth, whether it is ugly or beautiful, uncomfortable and frightening, nerve-wrenching or blissful, no matter how hard we try to dress it up in cloaks of well fabricated lies, our heart knows of it – our conscience knows of it - and at least we should accept it and embrace it. Buddha, I believe, would have advised for the same. I am quite sure of it as his statue sits gracefully in front of me. Or at least I can pretend to be. In fact, I am; again creating a debate for a larger duration.

To his last journey then. And I have to borrow the following words from Michael Wood, one of my favorite documentary makers, as I am far too impressed upon by them to be able to write something similar of my own. “‘Be your own lamp,’ he said. “Seek no other refuge but yourselves” “Let truth be your light” For me, it's one of the never-failing miracles of history, that a human mind from so long ago can still speak to us directly in his own voice and mean something now in our time of change. But then his was a time of change, too. Buddhism is a system based on pure morality, what we would call universal values. Trust, truthfulness, non-violence, that sort of thing… And those ideas were very attractive to the rising class of merchants and traders in the cities of the Ganges Plain. But it's also atheistic. The logic of the Buddha's message is that belief in God itself is a form of attachment, of clinging, of desire, and in the land of 33 million gods or is it 330 million? That eventually would prove a step too far. ‘But all things must pass,’ as he would say. No one in history was clearer about that. No promise of heaven, no threat of hell. He's an old man now, around 80. This was his last journey; among the scavengers and the dispossessed, with their unending struggle for mere survival. Around 486 BC, according to the traditional date, he headed back across the plain towards the Himalayas. Now he's heading north, back to the land of his childhood. Perhaps he was consciously heading home. He knew he was going to die.  The Buddha's story ends in an endearingly scruffy little town on the Ganges Plain, Kushinagar. One of the Buddha's faithful disciples begged him to hold on a bit longer and not die here. ‘It's a miserable, wattle-and-daub little place stuck in the jungle, in the middle of nowhere,’ he said. ‘Couldn't you die in a famous place where they could give you a great funeral?’ And the Buddha said, “A small place is fitting.” He took some food in the house of a blacksmith, pork. Like most ancient Indians, the Buddha was a meat-eater. And he fell ill. Again the tradition marks the very spot on the edge of Kushinagar. At the end, his disciples can't bear to let him go. “What more do you want of me?” he says. “I've made known the teaching. Ask no more of me. You're the community now. I have reached the end of my journey.” There are several versions of the Buddha's last moments. One of them says that he made a gesture and exposed the upper part of his body to show how age and sickness had wasted it, to remind his followers of the human condition. But all versions agree that his last words were these.

“All created things must pass. Strive on diligently.”

I would like to end this with an old adage among the Buddhist folklore I presume. “If you find the Buddha on the road, kill him!”

Raghav Mimani is a friend of a friend, and a person whom I have come to admire over the last many meetings we have had. It is a privilege to hear his thoughts and ideas, even as a mute audience, for there is much to learn and gain from his opinions. This article is but one glimpse into the way he strings his thoughts and presents them for others to peruse. Rather, relish. It was a privilege having him contribute for Nascent Emissions. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Pickwick Journey - Faces

Recounting the features of some twenty faces is no mean task. It requires patience and time, both of which I lack. People are my preoccupation. At our post festival meeting, I spoke about each person in front of me at length, for I had observed them that much. Also, I was full of emotions, bubbling inside, waiting to be poured out. Today, I am more calm. I apologise to those I might forget to mention, for my memory-scape is limited. However, my brain knows exactly where it has to begin.

Mishail and Anamta
She would gently hold my hand when metro forbade her from standing straight. She would cast sheepish looks at me when she spoke too loud, or stepped on a fellow passenger's foot. She would wake me up when she needed to talk. Secure, and strong, her laughter always rang in my ears when I needed to relax. And in the course of the festival preparations, she was perhaps the only I shouted on. But Mishail Sharma knew better than to retaliate. She would simply giggle, and my hard features would soften. Problems would again be conquerable. World would again be a better place. 

Even before Mishail, the person I began my Jamia journey with, was Anamta Rizvi. There was a spark in her which had caught my attention. That spark, her zeal to work, and her good nature - all these combined to transform her into the greatest asset I had with me to execute our festival plans. Sincere in her own work, and eager to help others - she was a delight to watch when at work. Writing, speaking, creative imagination - she conquered each. And finest of all, she conquered my heart. 

Between friends, you often forge strange relations. That strange and pleasant relation, I formed with Nayema Nasir - the one woman in our nautanki-party, who is rich in maternal warmth, and has a therapeutic calmness in her personality. She took care, comforted, scolded and at the end, made sure we were headed in the right direction. She took our pain on herself, and inspired us even with her soft, barely audible voice. But that is the woman she is - she had our attention without forcing her presence on us. Nayema di, how was I surviving without all your love till now in life?

The person obviously next in line is Saurabh (this name seems to have some past-janam-ka-relation with me, but that, later). Why is it obvious? Well, its JMI students' prerogative to know. This guy was the strong backbone of our event. Aggressive at the right places, and moderating influence in tense situations - he knew exactly what it took to pull off a festival like ours. No personal remarks on this guy, except the fact that he is fab. I still fear him, but laud him for keeping me humble. 

I would have left the festival scene, had it not been for Aisha Shams, who came an spoke to me like an authoritative, firm, yet understanding elder. Along with Lubna Ansari, she made me confident when I was low, she made me smile when I wanted to cry. And Lubna di - wasn't she my own elder sister? Bringing me special lunches, exchanging comforting glances and silently completing all her tasks, not once losing her cool - all this and more were things that characterized her. The ideal Vice President, she allowed me to blossom, and guided and supported me. Any amount of gratitude to her is less.

The loud, vivacious kid of our group, like is necessary in any family, was Sudipta. The kid, she still is. Despite being the youngest, she had the longest tongue, which would simply not stop producing some or the other noise. Having said that, I have to admit, her vivacity is what kept our spirits up. No matter what field of work, she deputed herself everywhere, and delivered results with aplomb. My unofficial assistant, she was also my gossip partner, which, in other words, can be called, a destresser. And Ma Annapurna too. I would have starved had it not been for her well stocked lunch boxes.
Kid, isn't she? That's Sudipta!

Hina and Anusha
Anusha and Hina - I cannot help but always see them together. The former, bubbly. The latter, composed. Both worked for each other, and not just themselves. Bombshells in a saaree, they were two of the most understanding people on my team. They stood for us, stood by us. There is nothing more I could've asked. 

In this string of people, next name is anyone's guess. Kaif Ali Taqvi. Hamaare Manto saahab. He and Abhilash Philip brought alive on stage the two masters our festival sought to celebrate - Manto and Dickens. I wonder how they handled the pressure and responsibility of doing justice to two such great names. Often harried by expectations and multiple opinions, they both took the stage, did their thing and emerged as stars. Shining bright. Shedding (lime)light on our whole team. 

She was another one I consistently managed to get angry with, but Varnana Choudhary made the Pickwick journey lighter with her wit and humour. She doesn't know this, but when people called her event a huge success - I felt a personal pride, and the satisfaction of having done something right. Intrinsic to our social group, she is one of those people I look forward to seeing everyday. 

Care and concern was not showered on us only by the female members of our team. Altamsh was one person who touched our hearts by the genuine concern he had for our safety and security. He would do any and every thing which I asked, without any reluctance. Sometimes, that kind of a reliable person is necessary in a group which has set out to set an example. I knew he had our back. Always. 

Bold, beautiful and graceful - Wafia Kissa had it all to make people envious. However, this girl floored me, not just with her poise and elegance, but with her humility, etiquettes and simplicity. I became an even greater fan of hers when her softer side was exposed to me. Eager to perform, always on her toes and a no-nonsense attitude to work - this girl will go a long way - I can proudly say that. 

I had many people to rely on, many to follow impromptu commands (we call them requests), but one guy who outdid himself, even in the face of copious amount of work loaded on him, was Vismaiy Avasthi. A self confessed nerd, this chap always worked away from  the hullabaloo of the festival. Sitting with sombre expression in front of a laptop, or waving from the department roof while hanging banners - Vismaiy was an efficient, cute, pleasant, sincere asset to have in our team. He rightly feels fatherly affection for the Pickwick blog. I might have started it, but he took the blog to its rightful culmination.

Momin Khan. It will never happen in life that I will forget this name. There are reasons to it, reasons which are best not visited again. However, what I will say about this chap is - he is the person who converted the festival journey into a fable for me. Yes, a fable, no less. As I discovered him, I discovered a bit of myself too. Th depths of his potential lie unexplored, and he only knows it too well. I hope I soon witness the day he makes the whole Pickwick family, the whole Jamia family proud. 

I am missing out on descriptions of many names - Shabeeh, Sadia, Asif, Umar, Aryak, Zakir, Aamir - but because of my limited association with them, I find myself incapable of saying anything more than a heartfelt thank you. 

Aaqib, Zakir and Momin
Oh, and how did I miss out on him? I of course did not! Saved him for the end. Aaqib Raza Khan. I do not know for sure why I grew so fond of him, but he was one person I searched for in every meeting. If there was any day I did not see him performing to his potential, I would be filled with a sense of extreme sadness. Conversely, when his designs were splashed across the entire department, I felt so proud of having a person of his calibre on our side. His creativity spoke such volumes that my friends from other colleges called up to applaud our poster designs - compliments which I made sure I conveyed to him. And along with Momin, he made the trust factor percolate my heart rather early. Momin and Aaqib - I am extremely keen on seeing and knowing where life takes them. For them, and for everyone else mentioned above, I have nothing, but the best of prayers in my heart. 

Its been some days since the festival got over. We are all still living in its hangover. I know from experience that this hangover will not last long, however much I wish it does. A complete package of mature and silly, fun and sombre people - this Pickwick team might not reunite to create another spectacle. Its strange. I am not happy any more, though I desperately want to be. I do not want to live the festival time again, but, I do not want to let go off this grand feeling too. What ultimately made this festival special was our togetherness, our tears and smiles, our trust and transparency, our love, care and concern, and our incessant support for each other. Such privileges in life are hard to come by. Its impossible, and do not cajole anyone otherwise, but I do hope our bonds stay intact.

And days went by like paper in the wind
Everything changed, then changed again
Its hard to find a friend
Its hard to find a friend. 

The Core Pickwick Team

The Pickwick Journey - A Prelude

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. - Vince Lombardi

Switching from one environment to another, one institution to another, is never a cake-walk. It might leave you dismal or excited, but there are always new things and situations one must understand, accept and adapt to. The path which led me to Jamia was smooth, clean and free of surprises, but upon setting foot inside the gate, a perturbing ambivalence greeted me. There was something inside me which was happy, but something inside me which kept shutting my heart. The effort to meet new people, make new friends, start over again seemed mammoth. It was an effort I was not willing to undertake, at any costs. 

And then came surprises. One could call them shocks, but looking back at the strokes of Providence, I understand they all were nothing but unexpected curves in what I had assumed would be a straight road. These curves led me to the blissful, cosy comfort I reside in today. And today, I am happy. I am overwhelmed with simple happiness, the kind which makes you feel blessed, loved and wanted. 

A literary carnival in my department, called The Pickwick Fest, was the turning point. However, this post is not to recount the triumphs and travails of organizing my department's first literary festival. This post is to acknowledge the numerous faces, which seemed and acted recusant at first, but became my greatest confidantes later. The process which brings hearts closer must sure be an interesting one. I do not want to visit its nuances, but by reminiscing on the festival days, I do want to walk that path all over again - the path which gifted me such great people, such pious bonds. 

Retracing my steps, I see many smiling faces standing at various curves. I want to touch them, and tell them, that no matter what happens tomorrow, today, you all are special to me. A caveat about me being an ultra-cheesy, ultra-mushy and ultra-sensitive person might seem out of place to you, but read beyond my words, and you will know. In the words that seem visible, I want to capture this amazing feeling which is lingering around my heart. I am afraid I will lose it if I do not give it a voice. And so, here I begin...

(To be continued) 

Some frames which fit in at this juncture -
They gave me that place, and that love. 

This remains my favorite poster from a plethora which were created for the fest
The first step up towards creating memories
Till my opinion will be sought, this will remain the best picture of our department.
Photographs, courtesy, Belal Khalique and Aaqib Raza Khan

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Roll of Honour by Amandeep Sandhu - A Review

It does not happen often that I have no clue as to how I should begin a post, especially a post pertaining to my thoughts on a book. Mostly, I am clear about the impression a book has formed on me. I can be good or bad, but in long I have not come across anything that has made an 'extremely good' impression on me, and has impacted me deeply. A book can be more than mere entertainment. It can make you think. And it can stay with you for long, long after you have turned over its last page.

Roll Of Honour - the second novel of Amandeep Sandhu falls precisely in the category of books which stimulate you, and which effortlessly linger on.

The 1980s were one of the most violent decades in India. They began with Operation Blue Star, undertaken by Mrs. Gandhi's regime to crush the movement for an independent Khalistan - a sikh land. This was the decade in which Mrs. Gandhi met her end, assassinated by her Sikh body guard, and it is the very decade which saw brutal violence being unleashed on Sikhs in India, particularly those residing in Delhi, in what are remembered as Chauraasi ke Dange, or the Riots of '84. Perhaps, this also happens to be the decade in which the Hindutva bandwagon acquired steam and sowed those seeds of communalism which culminated in the Babri Masjid demolition in early 1990s. However, aside from this last vestige of the 1980s, Amandeep Sandhu's book does a brave of job of combining the earlier three - Operation Blue Star, Mrs. Gandhi's assassination and Riots of '84 - into a narrative which steers clear of transforming into a political discourse. It simply seeks to throw light on the impact of the riots, on not just life, property, family and relationships, but the very identity of the hapless people, who were forcibly made a party to political ambitions of a few.

Appu is entering the senior most year of his military school in Jassabad. He was supposed to be the school prefect, but due to some unexpected changes in school structure, his authority has been limited to being the in-charge of his class. Besides being the school prefect, he only looked forward to one thing - finding a place for himself in NDA when he passed out from his school. That is what his teachers and trainers over the years had prepared him for. However, the events of 1984 bring many unforeseen alterations in his life. He finds himself giving refuge to an ex-student, Balraj, who is now a Khalistani militant escaping the army. A school which functioned with pride and in isolation, now sees its very basic dynamics being affected by the events taking place outside. Sectarian loyalties are ignited and old pals are forced to take sides. Amandeep also paints a gruesome picture of the bullying which takes place in school - activities unspeakable, some which made my stomach churn. The intoxication of seniority in Appu's school led to an acute urge for dominating the minions - mentally, physically and sexually. Punishments, or ragra, as they are mentioned in the book, were a given and they were ruthless enough to cause bleeding, broken bones and medical centre trips.

And on this entire canvass of violence was running another, important story - a 17 year old boy's attempt to come face to face with his identity, his battle to preserve his friendships with friends from other religions amid venomous, vehement and provocative speeches made by his fellows influenced by the ideology of Khalistan. His dream lay shattered, and he moved ahead without an iota of knowledge as to where his future was located.

Amandeep's writing is sensible, as well as sensitive. In this book, he raises questions, but does not attempt to provide all answers. His narrative is lucid - it casts on the readers' minds vivid images of violence being perpetrated at the surface and subterranean levels. Appu, the narrator, is a real person - he has his questions, he has his confusions, he has his faults and he is constantly looking for answers. I think what brings Appu to life is the fact that this book is part autobiographical, part fiction. What begins as as tale of school boys battling out their own concerns and stresses goes on to become a much grander picture of the realities as they exist in a land which has conflicts at its very crux. As is aptly put on the back cover, this book 'is a frank examination of the consequences of misplaced honour, allegiance and integrity.'

It is a 4 on 5 stars book for me - and these ones come my way rarely. I can't say it was a pleasure going through this book, for this book was meant to disturb me. It did well on that count. The basic storyline of the novel is interspersed with italicized musings of the narrator, Appu. These are sections which will hit some raw part of your heart. They will echo something which you too might have deeply felt. These are, perhaps, those sections of the book which will make you as big a fan of Amandeep as I have happened to become.

Book Details -
Title - Roll  of Honour
Author - Amandeep Sandhu
Publisher - Rupa
Price - ₹ 275
Pages - 240

And finally, a fond click!
Amandeep, me and his book, at a book reading organized in Jamia Millia Islamia

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spreading The Written Word

I have written many a blog posts dedicated to books. I have written some dedicated to book lovers. Today I am writing a blog post dedicated to the love of books.

If I am allowed to put it this way, books are at the very centre of my world. This, unfortunately, was not always the case. I was late in getting friendly with written words. I was even slower in falling in love with them. However, once I found my panacea in books, there was no coming back. I, as I am sure many book-lovers would concur, also believed that the love of books is not something to be kept confined to yourself. It is something to be spread around. Books are the best gifts to give, and to receive, categorically.

Our grave misfortune is, that though we live in a country which boasts of perhaps one of the greatest literary traditions in the world, a huge chunk of our disadvantaged population is deprived of access to books and the knowledge they potentially offer. A portion of this lesser privileged population also comprises of young minds on whom India is pinning its hopes for tomorrow. Recently I heard of an initiative organized by a web-portal called gyaanexchange.com , which has decided to partner with NGO Goonj, and organize a Pan-India Book Collection Drive. That is how they plan to celebrate the "Joy of Giving Week" I guess, which, incidentally, began yesterday.

Please come out and be a part of this initiative. Gyaanexchange.com is an online education community which connects talented teachers and interested students. In keeping with their spirit of spreading skills, education and knowledge around, they are going to be collecting books, to be distributed via their NGO partner Goonj, and this collection drive will go on till the 10th. "Gift of Gyaan" is what they call their initiative. A great gift to become a contributor towards, isn't it?

Here are a few details which might be of help to those interested -

Books can be couriered to this address  Noesis Knowledge Solutions, 105 Regal Diamond Center, Opera House, Mumbai 400004. Contact Number: 9167606469

For Delhi residents, books may be dropped atKunzum Cafe:T-49, GF,Hauz Khas Village,New Delhi, 110016Phone No: 011 – 26513949.  

Books can also be given through any e-commerce sites by giving the address of any of the above mentioned locations.

(The brand will also be giving away exciting prizes to those who give the maximum number of books. The top three and ten lucky winners will get a book hamper from Gyaanexchange.com)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Quote Quintet - September

Inspirational teachers leave their imprint on us, in some form or the other. The first teacher to have made a difference to my life, in terms of the way I think, act and see life was Ms. Anjali Mathur. My class teacher in sixth, she fed to my brain the concept of class existing as a family - a huge family of 40 members and one head. However, that is not the point I take up in this post. One of the great things I learnt from her was a habit, of taking down quoteworthy words in a diary. That simple habit made me better at conversations, and added a dimension of organization to my mind which always existed as a colourful mess of thoughts. The habit has stuck by.

In the recent past, while preparing for Civil Services examination, I have been exposed to some brilliant content. Constantly feeding on Caravan, Outlook, The Hindu, The Indian Express and journals of the ilk, I usually come across quotes and anecdotes which are worth compiling and sharing with a larger audience. Certain statements made unassumingly, by ordinary men and women, which are concise and simple, often encapsulate in them an entire dogma, an entire story or an entire experience. I have decided, that at the end of each month, I will put here five of the best sentences I read in the whole month. I do hope readers of Nascent Emissions will like this initiative, and be kind in their responses, as they always have been. The obvious inspiration for this post, besides an awesome teacher, is an earlier post by me, titled - Let's Quote India.

Here we go for today -

On Islam
"The Hadees says anything good must be spread around."
- Mohammad Khurshid Khan
Mr. Khan, mentioned above, has an excellent story behind him. He can be addressed in two disparate ways - as Pakistan's Deputy Attorney General and as a Shoe Shiner. Donning an orange bandana and Ray Ban glasses, he sits at Sikh shrines across India, polishing shoes of devotees. Why? To atone for the beheading of a Sikh at the hands of Islamic militants. Last I heard, he was lambasted for 'disgracing' Pakistan and even removed from his top government post. So much for a display of goodness.

On Time
"Time may suggest possible ways. But to step on the right one is not the work of time. It is the work of man."
- Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
After having been voted the "Greatest Indian After Gandhi", and having suffered glory and censure posthumously, almost in equal quantities, articles on him became omnipresent, no matter which journal/newspaper you subscribe to. One came across his words on the Constitution, various Constitutional Offices, on accountability and then, a simple statement on time and importance of human action.

On Travelling
At one of my favorite places
"We travel initially to lose ourselves. We travel next to find ourselves."
- Pico Iyer, Wanderlust
I am not a great travel fan, for I have a weakness. Once you take me to a new place, and if that place appeals to me, I would want to keep going back. I love the Kumaon region in India crazily. And I somehow have this feeling that I need to go back there, find a secluded spot and connect with those parts of mine I never knew existed. Pico Iyer puts this whole, complex, amazing feeling in a simple line.

On Assam Violence
"I must have done something terribly wrong to turn from a zakat giver to a zakat taker in the space of a few months."
- Firdaus Ahmed (one of the many affected by violence across Assam)
For those who do not know, zakat is Islamic way of redistributing wealth. It is a amount of money each financially able Muslim is supposed to donate in order to support those without means and ability. And it is this noble instrument, by the means of which, Firdaus Ahmed expresses the reprehensible irony which lies behind the madness which communal violence unleashes.

On Tweeting
"You have crossed your daily limit for tweeting. Please try again after some hours."
- Twitter
This was done to me in the middle of fierce Indo-Pak match tweeting. Just when the thrill was peaking. I, along with a lot of comrades, who said good-bye to diseased facebooking, devoted ourselves to twitter when we all realized the futility of the 141st word. Turns out it was a technical glitch, suffered by many twitter users collectively. On this topic, I have been advised to shut up, lest the telecom officials get ideas about restricting tweets per day and followers per month. So shut up I will.

With Anjali Ma'am, second from left. And Radha ma'am. And Geeta Ma'am.

Gratitude to-
Outlook Magazine
The Hindu
The Hindustan Times