Friday, July 31, 2009

IPhrase begins

Shravan Raghunath, blogger, poet, student, photographer, friend and country cousin, invited me, the day before, to be a part of his new blog IPhrase!

Dedicated primarily to showcase posts on inspirational quotes and snippets, this blog will be a combined effort and aims at featuring short yet powerful posts that have a meaningful takeaway for its patrons.

Kick-starting my account, yesterday, I posted 'Of Life and Hope' with an iconic picture taken, in 1969, during the People's Park Riot in Berkeley, California. Taken by Ted Streshinsky, this picture became a classic representation of the voice of the people and still evokes strong memories in those who have been witness to the incident.

I will, however, post in this space, using the identity Almost Sunday, which, I believe, is a more ideal character for this enterprise, as I have earlier titled it as "not a person, but a state of being which was chanced upon by me during my endless quest for meaning and purpose."

I wish to express my thanks to Shravan for giving me this wonderful opportunity, something that I have long contemplated doing.

On behalf of team IPhrase, I invite you to this new space, to visit it and sample its contents and hopefully relish them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday's wisdom

A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation, and further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind

-- Daisaku Ikeda

On invitation from a friend and former colleague, Rahul Guharoy, I spent yesterday morning with a group of very dedicated and enthusiastic people whose purpose in life is to come together as a united body in combating life's uncertainties and help one another in times of need. They are collectively known as the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) which is a "Buddhist network that actively promotes peace, culture and education through personal change and social contribution." In India, they are known as the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), which is an affiliate of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). Their life values are heavily based on "the humanistic life philosophy of the Japanese Buddhist sage, Nichiren Daishonin."

Among the first things I noticed on arrival was the elevated level of enthusiasm each one of them carried within themselves at all times. Cordial, warm and eager, the very presence of a member was difficult to miss! During my conversations, I realized that these were people who had taken upon themselves to train themselves to inculcate and nurture a change from within, much akin to the philosophy of their 'Sensei' which they follow in very close coordinates!

After a round of introductions, some of them came forward to narrate real life incidents, struggles and victories that ensued. They also highlighted how, as active members of the SGI movement, they have been able to, with conviction, commitment and discipline, make their lives and those of others better and continue to do so with a remarkable sense of passion and unity.

Finally, the floor was thrown open to a hearty discussion on the topic "Human Revolution - The contribution of a single individual to bring about change." Many interesting thoughts flowed through as fellow members and guests nodded as each one spoke. I gave my two cents too, speaking on the need to be cognizant of the world around oneself and to effect change from within, quoting Socrates and Plato! Rewarded with a very patient hearing, and a round of loud applause, I felt greatly appreciated, the like of which I have not felt in a very long time.

I recalled my 1998 meeting with His Holiness Guru Nitya Chaintanya Yati, the erstwhile Head of the Narayana Gurukula Foundation at Fernhill in Ooty. The connect was easy and remarkably similar, talks on oneness, encouragement, positivism and more importantly world citizenship meaning a state of being, free from race, religion and other varied discrimination.

Couldn't have had a more eventful Sunday!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rock On

In this post, I'm paying homage to some of the most inspiring rock marvels and their creators that have been a significant part of our times and before and will remain so long after! Check out the emboldened portions of the lyrics and stop for a moment before it occurs to you that they do reflect parts of your life!

There you go.........

Lay beside me, under wicked sky
Through black of day, dark of night, we share this pair of lives
The door cracks open, but there's no sun shining through
Black heart scarring darker still, but there's no sun shining through

-- Unforgiven II, Metallica, 1998

You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

-- Shine on you crazy diamond, Pink Floyd, 1975

Many times I've been a traveller, I looked for something new
In days of old, When nights were cold
I wandered without you, But those days I thought my eyes
Had seen you standing near, Though blindness is confusing
It shows that you're not here

-- Soldier of Fortune, Deep Purple, 1974

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed up world

-- High Hopes, Pink Floyd, 1994

There's a sign on the wall, But she wants to be sure
cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, There's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

-- Stairway to Heaven, Led Zepplin, 1971

Now the suns gone to hell, And the moons riding high
Let me bid you farewell, Every man has to die
But its written in the starlight, And every line on your palm
Were fools to make war, On our brothers in arms

-- Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits, 1985

I awake to find no peace of mind.
I said how do you live, As a fugitive?
Down here, where I cannot see so clear
I said what do I know? Show me the right way to go.

-- Spies, Coldplay, 2000

The world is closing in, Did you ever think
That we could be so close, like brothers
The future's in the air, I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change

-- Wind of Change, Scorpions, 1990

Sometimes I need some time...on my
own Sometimes I need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone

-- November Rain, Guns N Roses, 1992

Then fly away from here, Anywhere
Yeah, I don't care, We'll just fly away from here
Our hopes and dreams are out there somewhere
Won't let time pass us by, We'll just fly

-- Fly away from here, Aerosmith, 2001

I laughed and shook his hand, I made my way back home,
I searched for form and land, Years and years I roamed,
I gazed a gazely stare, We walked a million hills -- I must have died alone,
A long long time ago.

-- The Man who sold the World, Nirvana, 1993

I take a walk outside, I'm surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning, How quick the sun can drop away

-- Black, Pearl Jam, 1991


The aforesaid list is certainly not exhaustive and more inputs are welcome via comments

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Eagle has landed

Little by little, they grew closer, steady, as if on rails, and I thought 'What a beautiful sight,'one that had to be recorded. As I reached for my Hasselblad, suddenly the Earth popped up over the horizon, directly behind Eagle. I could not have staged it any better, but the alignment was not of my doing, just a happy coincidence. I suspect a lot of good photography is like that, some serendipitous happenstance beyond the control of the photographer. But at any rate, as I clicked away, I realized that for the first time, in one frame, appeared three billion earthlings, two explorers, and one moon. The photographer, of course, was discreetly out of view.

-- Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot - Apollo 11

Launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 a.m. ET aboard a Saturn V rocket, Apollo 11 included a command module dubbed Columbia and a lunar lander called the Eagle.

The lander was named after the bald eagle in the mission insignia.

Apollo 11's journey to the moon took three and a half days.

During that time the astronauts "just kind of gazed out the window at the Earth getting smaller and smaller, did housekeeping things, checking the spacecraft," Aldrin recalled.

As the craft passed through the shadow of the moon and started its approach, Aldrin and Armstrong got into the spider-like lunar module and began their descent.

The landing process didn't go flawlessly. Alarms sounded when the computer couldn't keep up with the data stream: "Nothing serious—it was distracting," Aldrin said.

"Neil didn't like what we were heading toward, and we selected a safer spot alongside a crater with boulders in it. We landed with a little less fuel than we would have liked to have had, maybe 20 seconds of fuel left."

Aldrin insists that he felt no real fear about landing on the moon.

Nevertheless, he said, "we kind of practiced liftoff [for] the first two hours. … We both felt that was the most prudent thing to do after touching down, was to prepare to depart if we had to."

Finally, with half a billion people watching on televisions across the world, the astronauts emerged from the Eagle to spend another two hours exploring the lunar surface.

The pair planted an American flag and placed mementos for fallen peers.

Armstrong uttered his famous first words, reportedly unscripted: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong and Aldrin logged 21 hours on the moon—spending the last and longest portion of it trying to sleep in the frigid lander.

40 years on, this post pays tribute to the moon landing mission that translated a human dream into reality!


Image Courtesy: Boston Globe, The Big Picture - Remembering Apollo 11

The above post is not my creation. It has been reproduced verbatim from the archives of the National Geographic Channel and is accessible here - MOON LANDING FACTS: Apollo 11 at 40

NASA's feature on the Moon Landing Mission

The prelude to Apollo 11

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Values

Watch your character; It becomes your destiny!

-- Pravsworld

We've seen quite a bit about My Documents, My Applications, My Music, My Folders, My Connections, My Files and so on...... I wonder if the list ever ends! No, I certainly do not want to talk about any of those metaphysical aspects of the digital world! Rather, I'm going to harp on how important and significant an asset I consider My Values to be! Sounds old school and possibly archaic? Better, I suppose!

Have you ever wondered how significant you and I are without our integrity? Little? No at all? Or much better, as a lot of people obviously feel, given the fast changing circumstantial world which continues to orient itself more towards the materialistic realm rather than the people part?

If you, like me, find yourself answering two of the former of the three mentioned, then you've won the game of living (purely as per my viewpoint, for I am no authority to prescribe the ways of life), whilst, if you have answered the latter of the three, then I shall choose not to implore upon you to reconsider, for I'm sure this is well thought of on your part!

I'm not one of those who considers my values to be an impediment to my growth, on the contrary, I firmly believe that my deeply entrenched value system enables me to envision a very strong growth path and pattern, one that will be truly rewarding and full of contentment. More importantly, I hope to create a lasting legacy with this wonderful inheritance, thanks to the supremely appreciable efforts of my parents who have at all times, unfailingly, instilled in me the importance of living well, in dignity and as a matter of fact, in the right!

Tell me, would you teach your children something you didn't want to do yourself? Do you not think that it is important to be right than to be nice?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pune Flooded

Of joys departed, not to return, how painful the remembrance

-- Robert Blair

It is July 12th, but the year is 1961!

Pune is under a spell of incessant rains that continue to lash without any respite. The sheer volume of water causes the Khadakvasala and Panshet dams to burst open. Instantly, half of Pune lies submerged. Over 2000 people lose their lives in this calamity and more than 100,000 families stand displaced.

Today, 48 years later, the memory lives on, serving as an ominous reminder of nature's fury.

This post pays homage to the people who lost their lives, their significant others, their homes and all that mattered in life!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ongoing with life

This week has been hectic and truly arduous, but that's not stopping me from being my normal self and talk in this post about the importance of being happy and content! Happiness, as they say, is a state of mind!

I am currently reading, among others, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, which more than once illustrates the feeling of true happiness, gratitude and cheerfulness of a young loving soul confined in hiding! I'm truly amazed at how wonderful people, especially children can be in expressing their true feelings and desires!

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again -- Saturday, 15th July 1944

My rare evening walks have been rendered even rarer, but then I do not really regret since I know life has many passing phases and cannot always remain the same! Equilibrium, it seems, should not always be attained, for it brings entities to a grinding halt!

While the monsoons have come calling in bits and pieces, the rains continue to remain elusive, threatening the city's water table levels, a lifeline which is much needed at this point of time. However, a few drizzles have turned the city lush green. But, there is a certain lull in my life which is quite tiring! I do not seem to get a lot of time for myself, to think, introspect, to look up at the clouded skies and watch the bats fly to roost in the evenings! The monotony is excruciating but also provides me a great deal of learning in my area of work, which is very welcome.

Mornings are wonderful, as ever! The short walk to the gym, the refreshing work-out, the walk back home and the luxury of the yet unspoiled air swishing on my face are rich perquisites that are enough reason to remain happy and calm. I do nonetheless wish for my tired nerves to be more relaxed! In any case, it makes not much of a difference, for I have, for quite sometime now, been successfully practicing the art of detaching personal and professional lives, either of which are important I realize, if not in equal measure though.

But I will not complain, as I'm truly happy for going through the grind and coming out a successful learner, if not always a winner, which I realize is more important.

"As long as this exists," I thought, "and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy." The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then thee will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles -- Wednesday, 23th Feb 1944

Most importantly, my happiness arises from no association, reason or object. It is, I realize, unconditional.

Happiness should be elementary, perpetual and not associated with any material object, don't you agree?

Tomorrow being a Friday, is a certain source for some unparalleled happiness ;)


The Anne Frank Museum

The Anne Frank internet guide

FYI - The emboldened italicized portions in the post are excerpts from the book!

Sunday, July 05, 2009


It is perhaps early in the evening, the large clinically white coated set of rooms are bustling with activity with several people intently peering into their console screens that constantly chatter some kind of data that looks gibberish to me! Dull lights illuminate the rooms in an distastefully uncomfortable ambiance. Milling around many geeky techies engrossed in a seemingly exciting chore, uninterested and unacknowledged of my presence, I continue to explore the place with a mix of curiosity and anxiety that borders very closely with fear! The letters USR are boldly emblazoned in several places to denote that this is a research area of the USRobotics. Curiosity is overcome by gut-wrenching fear and chaos as I see myself strapped to a chair with several dozen cables running from my head to a mangle of devices present in vicinity, upon which are focused the intent glares of a dozen or more people!

The scene shifts immediately, and I find myself in a vast lush green corn field more expansive than what the eye can see and the mind can comprehend. It is divided by a thin beaten path and is ominously covered with a mild curtain of mist which seems to make the place more eerie than it already is. Instinctively I am aware of being watched, by beings that are neither animal nor human! There is a mechanical hum that sounds itself intermittently suggesting the presence of electronic eyes that are doing the job of tracking me! I race to safety hardly noticing that I'm in the air and my feet are not in contact with the ground below that is fast receding!

The scene shifts many times during the course of my deep sleep and the morning light brings with it comfort and a soothing reassurance that what I saw hours, or perhaps minutes ago have been mere dreams! But I'm overwhelmed by the intensity of detail that I have seen and tired, as if I've been travelling and physically present in the places that I saw. A mild but annoying headache makes me stay in bed although its long past the waking and rising hour! Thankfully, it is a Sunday morning and I don't have to carry these photographic instances to a complicated workplace. I try to relax a while longer in wait for the Sun to rise before getting myself up and helping my haggard face get a cold burst of water on it in an attempt to wipe away the imposing detail that still lingers in front of my exhausted eyes. I do not look at the mirror, for not wanting to be seen pale and rugged after the night's expeditionary transportation which like many of its predecessors has exhausted me.

As if for comfort, the morning is bright and soothing and I seize the opportunity to savour it before the clamour of the day emerges. The Sun rises in a deep Orange glow. I try to distract my thoughts reminding myself that Orange is perhaps the only fruit, known in name by its colour! The warm glow helps me calm myself and tell me that it is only a dream. The doorbell rings and the paperboy hands me a bundle. I momentarily gaze at my cousin's computer before turning it on and querying for half a dozen news websites that along with the paper will tell me the happenings across the globe.

I'm faintly reminded of the, Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., movie What dreams may come, which I watched, perhaps, a decade ago. In a matter of minutes the calm morning makes me intently focus on the incoming news and I'm back to reality and more importantly, myself!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My experiments with experience!

Experience is a wonderful teacher, the only problem being that the test comes first and the lesson later

-- Anonymous

Nearly all of my learning has been at-the-hands-of-life or what some may term livened by experience! Although this is a sure shot way of being bruised right down to the core of the ego, I guarantee it to be very effective, for learning acquired via such a medium is unlikely to be forgotten, ever!

Sometimes, I wonder what is it that we ought to do with all the learning that we do during the course of our lifetime, and almost instantly comes the answer of how the purpose is to constantly ascend to higher levels that render us to be better than what we already are.

In today's world where complications and confusions rule everyday life, it is essential to seek true wisdom and relentlessly pursue excellence in a effort to bring harmony within the self and outside of it. And here is where learning plays a pivotal role in shaping the outlook of a people, not just a person! Now, imagine how better off we have become (really?) in many aspects vis-à-vis our ancestors. Wouldn't it be fair to attribute this 'betterment' to a few Millennia of collective learning put to good use which then aided to evolution? Quite similarly, we are mere catalysts, I believe, to make way for a much better generation the primal requisite of whom will be the knowledge that we as an individual, institution and a social system will assimilate!

Ask yourself the question of your purpose and sleep over it a number of times before you come to a definite conclusion. Then, ponder over the answer many a times until the mind is exhausted by the repetitive analysis that you engage it in. What do you get? The compulsive need for ascension to a higher level? Don't let yourself be surprised or intrigued, for that is precisely the way it is supposed to be, except that such a process is certainly not conclusive as we may see it, for it is a continual course of action and not a point of arrival!

Can you imagine a process without a finale? Something that is not governed by time or space, or both? Oh, you and I are already a part of it, trust me!

Ever heard some wise old soul in an emphatically categorical affirmation that 'every learning is an attempt of mere recollection of a knowledge that already exists?'