Sunday, December 7, 2008

What I Live For

This question first occured to me while reading the autobiography of Bertrand Russel in college. I am not sure why anyone of you would be interested in knowing how I wish to live my life. In case you are, you are most welcome. :-)

We all dream, hope and live for certain things and I am no exception. For a long time now, I have been intermittently conscious of this question: What do I live for? I started thinking about it. I realize that though I vaguely know the answer, being explicit is not-trivial. But I think following are the things that I live for.

I am fortunate to have felt the intoxication of intellectual understanding quite early in my life. The sheer joy that comes from understanding the queer ways of Nature or from solving a puzzle is precious to me. It is this eagerness to learn more which makes every day of my life a fulfillment. Even more satisfying is to spread this joy to others who care. I believe that the wealth of accumulated knowledge and wisdom over the ages is our greatest possession and it embodies our very existence. I would like to spend my life contributing (howsoever insignificantly) to this ever expanding knowledge pool and also communicate the joy that it entails. The little that I know myself, I do not think I can do anything else even moderately well. So that is my apology for choosing this way of life.

Next I live for my passions too. Music of the soothing kind, books, good food, quotes, sensible movies, dark chocolate, laziness, football, more recently poetry and many more . These constitute the little things in my life. These enrich my heart and improve my mind (At least I hope so). These bring along with them small bits of happiness. Without many of these things life will not be worth living.

But perhaps the most important thing that I live life for is love. Love of my parents, friends, well wishers and others is very dear to me. Love is like the plot of a story that binds all the disparate characters in a common thread. It makes us a part of other lives and others a part of ours. It makes us act more responsibly, laugh uncontrollably at silly jokes, weep at petty things, imagine the world to be more colourful than it actually is! It elicits remotest emotions which otherwise we wouldn’t have known existed. True love inspires and makes us a better person. It is this love that I have sought, fleetingly found and will continue to search for.

So it is in pursuit of wisdom, happiness and love that I wish to live my life. The pursuit in itself is often wonderful but I hope that I may achieve some if not all of these before I sit down to write ‘What I Have Lived For’ many years down the line.

6 December, 2008.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Little things that people do……

Sometimes apparently unimportant things can create an indelible impression on our minds. A few days back I was travelling in a not-so-crowded local train from Wadala to CST. I happened to sit beside an ordinary and unimpressive young man who had with him a bunch of newspapers. Reading while travelling alone is often the best way to avoid being bored. So I took from him ‘DNA’ (Yes, it is a newspaper and it stands for Daily News and Analysis) and was flipping through the headlines. I found a column by Fahad K Samaar interesting and started reading it. The writer in some context has described his father to be a ‘Muslim atheist’. Muslim because his father ‘understood and spoke exquisite Urdu, appreciated ghazals and poetry, relished a well cooked biryani and greeted his friends with Salaam and bid them adieu with Khuda Hafeez.’ He meant that though he was culturally a Muslim but was against any kind of organized religion.

I was moved by this description of religion being more akin to culture and morality than to other fundamentalist notions that it has come to mean in recent times. I was looking forward to read the rest of the article when ill-fate struck. The young man whose newspaper I was reading had to get down in the next station. I was about to give him back the newspaper when he gestured me to keep it and hurriedly got off the train. No word was spoken. I couldn’t even thank him. I read the entire article and was really happy. As the train entered CST I smiled silently remembering a line that I had read many years ago…”It is not the biggest things that make the biggest show, it is the little things that people do that makes this old world go.”

27 August 2008.
TIFR, Mumbai.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Strange Rendezvous

On the lonely night of 3rd March 2007, it was about time for me to go to the Old Delhi railway station to receive my mother and bring her home. As anticipated, the train was late and she was to arrive sometime around midnight. Delhi becomes quite desolate at night. To travel thirty kilometers at that hour is not easy. I was hoping to take an auto-rickshaw to reach the station on time but luck was not on my side. Standing on the main road I could only see cars passing by at great speed. I felt hopeless and desperate. Time was running out. I had to act fast.

After sometime (which seemed eternity to me) I saw an auto coming. When it came closer I realized that it was already occupied by two men. Nevertheless I waved frantically at the driver indicating him to stop. He agreed to give me a lift after dropping them at the Safdarjung Enclave. I found for myself a seat next to the driver. Sharing an auto with strangers is not a great idea but I had no other option.

I could hear one of them talking over the phone in a deep yet husky voice. The other man was silent. The smell of alcohol was so strong that I felt nauseous. Amidst all this the auto was speeding past the neon lights on the Aruna Asaf Ali Marg. I could see the Qutub Minar far away against the backdrop of the moonlight sky. Our minds are not confined by the restrictions imposed by space and time. It wanders about freely wherever it desires. I was to meet my mother after many months and I could almost feel her drawing me towards her bosom.

I was shocked back to reality when I heard the same voice ordering the driver to take a turn towards JNU. It was not on our way so I was surprised and annoyed. To express my dissent I turned back and saw him for the first time. He was a well-built man of middle age with deep red eyes, thick beard and an emotionless face. Just near the JNU entrance he again ordered the driver to stop at the gate of a housing complex. The other person hurriedly stepped out and disappeared. I was becoming increasingly impatient. Gathering some courage I asked him how long would he take. I also explained to him why I was in a hurry.

Immediately his face tightened. Controlling his emotions he said: “Do you know who I am?” I was listening. He continued, “I am a criminal. I deal in arms and weapons.” I knew I was in trouble. I was shocked to hear him admitting that blatantly. He also said: “I have just had a fight with a friend. Had he been a stranger I would have killed him.” Now I could see fresh stains of blood on his right shoulder. I knew I had to remain silent.

Under the influence of alcohol, he went on: “My mother was the most important person in my life. I miss her so much.” Tears started rolling down his cheeks. He then moved out of the auto and indicated the driver to take me to my destination. He threatened me not to disclose his identity to the police.

I was so shocked, thrilled and touched that I barely managed to shake his hands and thank him. I couldn’t have met my mother on time but for his help. I kept thinking about the entire episode throughout that night. Remembering it gives me a shudder even today. The only assurance is this realization that even seasoned criminals like him have subdued compassion and sympathy.

Aug, 2007.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Being Arkarup

The name is a person’s primary identity. The association of a person with his name is ‘till death do us part’. As a child one learns to associate himself with his name and I think meeting a new acquaintance becomes a dreadful affair ever after. Every time someone walks up to him for the first time, with a big smile he is confronted by that same question: “What is your name?”

Most love their names by default and I am quite certain that to live without loving your name is miserable and unfortunate. The choice of name depends upon country, religion, sensibility of the parents and other such factors. It does not depend upon the wish of the person concerned (unless it is legally changed later which is still rare).

Throughout my childhood I have heard many names incompatible with any degree of rationality. On the contrary I have always enjoyed the distinction of having a nice and unique name with a ‘meaning’. If Google is to believed there is no one except me with my name. I really love my name. But things started changing once I moved out of Calcutta during my undergraduate days.

I first realized in Delhi that my name is difficult to pronounce. My friends and teachers took over a week to pronounce it correctly. Some have not yet succeeded. No stranger could ever understand my name in the first attempt. So instead of saying my name I started to spell it! This saved time but nonetheless was awkward to say the least.

At present there are half as many versions of my name as the number of people I know. Starting from ‘Arkroop’ to the weird ‘Aur-kurup’ which means something else altogether in Hindi. Weary of saying such a long name, some choose abbreviations like ‘Orky’ or just ‘Aur’ or a little more generous ‘Aurko’.

More recently my well-wishers have found a queer phonetic connection between my name and ‘Orkut’-the internet menace that takes up half the net surfing time of many of us. And some have already started to call me so!

I thus being honoured of having a million versions of my name (a moderate overestimate), respond with equal cheer to whatever people choose to call me. I am amazed not to suffer from identity crisis yet.

The journey of my name has been quite a long one and it is just the beginning I guess. It has picked up so much momentum in the last few years that I have no idea where it will stop. Or it may never. Is that what is meant by ‘Journey of a life time’?


Okaron Anmona

Janina aaj bajjhe keno moner kone banshi
Hotat keno bhasche chokhe tomar madhur hasi

Janina shudhui keno porche tomai mone
Ei kothai bhabchi kebol boshe ghorer kone.

Janina abar kobe hobe tomar sathe dekha
Tomar chokhe chokh rekhe melbo moner pakha

Janina totodin amai rakhbe kina mone
Ashatei manush banche tai mon swopner jal bone..


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Love's Paradox

When you are far and I am here,
I think of you oh my dear,
When you are near and yet so far,
I wish you were not here…..


Friday, June 6, 2008


The mornings that are spent sleeping
As if no worries ever touch me,
Or the sleepless nights that pass by
When thoughts won’t let me sleep.
The songs, the joys and the laughs
When I am lost in a crowd,
Or the solemn poems I write
In the loneliness of the night.
I sometimes wonder which is the real me
But isn’t reality just a mirage?
The moment I get a glimpse of myself,
The vision is lost, forever.

TIFR, Mumbai
May 2008.

Suddenly At One

I believe that I am more rational than instinctive. This is because of a strange importance I attach to reasoning as compared to impulsiveness. So suddenly when I felt an urge to write, I, out of habit didn’t pay much heed. Strangely the impulse grew stronger and I found myself searching for a pen and a paper at one in the morning. I was about to start. But what did I want to write? I had no answer. It felt awkward. May be I should write about the wonderful time I have had in the past three years in college. I started to write but I didn’t like what I wrote. I tore off the page and it rightfully went into trash. I told to myself that fond memories are like wine, they become better with time. We should fall back to our past only when the present becomes insignificant. Let the memories mature, let it pass the test of time. Let me save it for the moment when the thought of college will simultaneously make me smile and cry. The time is not yet ripe. With this realization, I was left with nothing to write about. I stopped. I tore off this page and I should have thrown it into the dustbin.

Rehovot, Israel

Thursday, May 22, 2008


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!
-- Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Grooks by Peit Hein

Grooks are small poems written by Peit Hein, a Danish scienist, mathematician, inventor and poet. They are both profound and humorous. These are some of my favourites.........

The road to wisdom? -- Well, it's plain and simple to express:
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less.


Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.


Living is
a thing you do
now or never --
which do you?

Philosophical grook.

A bit beyond perception's reach
I sometimes believe I see
that Life is two locked boxes, each
containing the other's key.


We are taught to live,
we are
taught to feel.
We are taught to conform and conceal.
We are taught so well
what we
ought to feel
that we cannot feel what we feel.


People are self-centered
to a nauseous degree.
They will keep on about themselves
while I'm explaining me.