Friday, December 28, 2012

ऐसा अपना जीवन होगा….

Those were heady, confusing, searching-and making-sense-of-life kind of day!...

That was 1971, and I was around 16yr old/young, and was grappling with life – in all its immense confusions. The life was undergoing tumultuous transformations – both within and without… and looking back I was sort of “babe in the woods”… completely clueless ‘what it is all about’!

It was a quirk of destiny that I found two other friends, who too perhaps were undergoing similar existential crisis of growing up – and we somehow tacitly/unconsciously understood that making sense of life which is perpetually unfolding,  is not a logical – but a metaphorical – process…

…and we shared the love of poems/ lyrics

So we would pick up a random line – and then write verses around that line… and then share with each other. That was our teenage way to get to know each other, and to explore life’s emerging horizons…

These verses were written around one such line, which I discovered in one of my diaries a couple of days back… I feel grateful/ awed by that young person who had written it then - which I can now claim to be mine

(… though sadly, I am not sure if I can legitimately claim that as the offshoot of the same very “young person”, I have done justice to keep alive those sensibilities…

maybe one day I will touch base with him again…)

(उस से…..)

मंद पवन सा मेरा जीवन
बहता है जो धीरे-धीरे,
कली सरिस तू मेरे पथ में
महकेगी जब किसी सवेरे,
तन या रूप नहीं चाहेगा
महकेगा पा रज-कण तेरे…
सुरभि-पवन सा अपना प्रियतम,
पावन वो आलिंगन होगा।।
ऐसा अपना जीवन होगा….

(तुम से…)
देख, प्रिये! मैं तो आया था
जाने को ही तेरे घर में,
जाऊँगा मैं इसीलिए बस
नहीं रुका हूँ कभी सफ़र में,
जो आया, जायेगा; कोई
डूबेगी ग़म के सागर में,
रोती एक विरहिणी होगी
चलता एक अकेतन होगा |
ऐसा अपना जीवन होगा…

(कविता से…)
सुरुभि उड़ी जो मेरे उर में
तूने बन कर पुष्प संजोली
सब साथी हैं मिटते तन के,
मृत्यु परे की तू हमजोली
यह जीवन जग को दे मैंने
मृत्यु बाद की आस संजोली
मेघ-पवन से विचरेंगे हम
टूटा तन का बंधन होगा
ऐसा अपना जीवन होगा….

(तन से…)
मुझे कैद कर रखा तूने
इसीलिए है तुझमे जीवन
मुझे मार कर तू जीवित है
मुझ पर तू बन छाया बंधन
पर मेरे जीवित होते ही,
मर जायेगा तू, मेरे तन!
मैं स्वछन्द उड़ूगा पर तू
जलता बना अचेतन होगा
ऐसा अपना जीवन होगा….

(मृत्यु से…)
आ पलकों का चुम्बन ले तू
ऊब चूका हूँ इस जीवन से
आ अब काट सभी बंधन तू
छुड़ा मुझे माटी के तन से
मेरा जीवन तुझमें ही है
जीवित कर अब आलिंगन से
मृत्यु! छुड़ा फिर दूर चलेंगे
मुक्त जहाँ पर कण-कण होगा
ऐसा अपना जीवन होगा…

Friday, December 21, 2012

यादों के बादल में सोये, माज़ी के कुछ प्यारे लम्हे...

धुंधले, धुंधले, तिनके, तिनके
यादों के बादल में सोये
माज़ी के कुछ प्यारे लम्हे
जाने क्यूँ इक दिन जग जाते हैं
जो एक कहानी मुझको लिखनी थी इक दिन
जिसको लिखना मैं भूल गया,
जो वादा था मुझसे अपना
उसको फिर याद दिलाते हैं...
- Blore, 21/12/12

Friday, November 16, 2012

Organisations as Defenses against Anxiety

This was one of my favourite piece in my first book, "Understanding Organisations: Organisational Theory and Practice in India" (Chapter 11, Section D), where I could slink in my existential concerns...
The most popular view of organisations is that they are socio‑economic entities, which are meant for producing goods or providing services in the most efficient and effective manner. Moreover, so pervasive is their influence in our lives that one tends to unquestioningly accept their existence as almost natural and given. In accepting this view, however, we neglect the basic truth that, organisations are man‑made, simulated, controlled and ‘artificial’environments, which also serve some deep psychological purposes in the lives of their members (managers, staff members and workers).

At the most obvious level (as we noticed in Jefferson’sobservation about the Shell executives), organisations, with their emphasis on rationality, reliability, control, etc., provide excellent mechanisms for warding off uncertainties and ambiguities of human condition. They help people to regulate their lives, to experience a feeling of predictability, and to derive a sense of mastery over themselves. In this sense, they serve as useful psychological defenses, which are often quite functional (in a task‑related sense) as well. Menzies (1960), for instance, described how the depersonalised work systems, procedures and practices related to a nurses’ job (e.g., strict“professionalism”, structuring work in precise routines, referring to patients as “bed number”, etc.) are aimed at increasing their interpersonal distance from the patients. Such psychological distancing may also be necessary for the nurses to do their jobs effectively.

The fact, nevertheless, is that organisations do provide legitimacy to defensive behaviours, and so help people to avoid coming in touch with their deep‑seated emotional or existential anxieties and dilemmas (Jaques, 1970; Chattopadhyay, 1986). Kets de Vries (1980) noted how people create structures and roles to avoid coming in touch with their deeply experienced feelings of alienation and emptiness. Behind the conscious concerns with tasks, responsibilities, obedience, etc., may lie the unconscious interpersonal anxieties aroused by close contact with people. In fact, Morgan (1986) showed through his analysis of the life of Frederick Taylor, the father of scientific management,how the unconscious concerns for controlling one’s impulses can get translated into socially legitimate aims of controlling organisations (see also Chowdhry and Kakar, 1971). He points out how Taylor’s life provides:

...a splendid illustration of how unconscious concerns and preoccupations can have an effect on organisation. For it is clear that his whole theory of scientific management was the product of a disturbed and neurotic personality. His attempt to organise and control the world, whether in childhood games or in systems of scientific management, was really an attempt to organise and control himself.

At a much deeper level, the very construction of organisations can be seen as a social defense against the anxiety of death. In his book, The Denial of Death, Becker (1973) argued that all the efforts of mankind (religions, ideologies, institutions, culture, etc.) are aimed at denying the finite and transient fact of human existence. The fact that we will all die is a fact which makes our existence devoid of any permanent meaning, and creates anxiety. In building organisations and institutions, and in identifying with them, we create something which is more durable and larger than life. Our roles and work activities, give us a sense of continuity, and make our existence real to us. In the introduction of their book, In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman (1982) quoted Becker: “What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance... Ritual is a technique for giving life.” They go on to say: “In other words, men willingly shackle themselves to the nine‑to‑five, if only, the cause is perceived to be in some sense great.”

The implication of this defensive nature of organisations, is again for the accuracy of the perception of reality. If the involvement of the decision‑makers and organisational members is based on the unconscious motives of warding off deep‑seated anxieties, then they are less likely to accept psychologically threatening realities. Janis (1982) pointed out how decision‑making groups develop filters and shields (illusions of invulnerability, stance of self‑righteousness, stereotyped perception of the problem and the “enemy out there”, etc.), which do not allow the members to come in contact with an unacceptable reality, and reinforce a process of groupthink. Similarly, Argyris (1970) noted how in the organisational change process, managers tend to neglect, deny, and distort dissonant information:

...the clients may tend to forget controversial information suggested by the interventionist and recall in its place the information from the past substitutes for the controversial 0information. It means clients will expose themselves to learning the information that maintains their present degree of self‑acceptance... (and) will tend to interpret relatively threatening information in line with their values...

According to Pauchant and Mitroff (1992), these distortions result from the bounded emotionality of the managers, i.e., from the defects in their capacity to feel and experience certain emotions. They found that these inadequacies in the emotional capacity of the decision‑makers (i.e., their faulty and unhealthy mechanisms of dealing with their own feeling and impulses) were significant contributors in making organisations crisis‑prone. One only has to look at some of the major industrial disasters and organisational failures (e.g., Bhopal gas tragedy and the Challenger shuttle accident) to realise that in all these cases, there were individuals (sometimes, even everyone involved) who were aware of the possibility (or certainty) of the crisis, but somehow they “decided” to ignore it. What is also significant is the fact that these defenses are, by nature, unconscious, and do not yield (in fact, often become more rigid) in the face of crisis and failure. As Starbuck, Greve and Hedberg (1978) noted:

Denials that crises are developing and that strategic reorientation is needed arise, to no small degree, from sincere conviction... (managers) really do believe that they should act only on the basis of reliable information and that communi-cations should flow through channels... it is a normal human characteristic to adhere to one’s prior beliefs, inspite of evidence that they are incorrect.

cross posted @ Alternative Perspective

Saturday, November 03, 2012

उस एक पुरानी चादर के, उधड़े से ताने-बानों में...

उस एक पुरानी चादर के
उधड़े से ताने-बानों में
बाँधी थीं मैंने कुछ यादें...

कुछ-एक अधूरी कवितायेँ
भूली-भटकी कुछ आशाएं
कुछ कही-अनकही सी बातें...

....पर लगता है ये चादर भी
अध्-लिखी कहानी-सी जैसी
हर रोज़ उधडती जायेगी

यादें, कवितायेँ, आशाएं..
जो इसमें खेला करती थीं
धीरे-धीरे खो जायेंगीं ||

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Omar Khayyam & Me - 6

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to
Scorn Are scatter'd, and their mouths are stopt with Dust.

My translation:
तुम जिन शब्दों में
जीवन का ज्ञान देते थे
इस लोक से परलोक जाने का
सामान देते थे...
वे शब्द,
हवा में बिखर कर खो गए,
और तुम भी इसी लोक की मिट्टी में
दब कर सो गए...

Omar Khayyam & Me - 1
Omar Khayyam & Me - 2
Omar Khayyam & Me - 3
Omar Khayyam & Me - 4
Omar Khayyam & Me - 5

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ये मामूली-सी सड़क...

घर और पार्क की दीवार के बीच पड़ी
ये मामूली-सी सड़क
अचानक, रात में खंबों से रौशनी ले कर
ज़हन में एक बार फिर जी उठती है
अपनी सुनसान सी दिशाओं में
कई क़दमों को याद करती है...

Monday, September 24, 2012

पूछ लूँ मैं नाम तेरा!...

अज्ञेय - Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana “Agyeya” - was also one of the many of the "resident poets/authors" when I was growing up...
...the kind who reside in one's mind and help making sense of life when one is growing/struggling to make sense of what the hell this is all about in one's teens and early 20s, and mould the templates/scripts through which one continues to view/ live/ interpret life for decades to come....

पूछ लूँ मैं नाम तेरा!
मिलन-रजनी हो चुकी विच्छेद का अब है सबेरा।

जा रहा हूँ, और कितनी देर अब विश्राम होगा,
तू सदय है किन्तु तुझ को और भी तो काम होगा!
प्यार का साथी बना था, विघ्न बनने तक रुकूँ क्यों?
समझ ले, स्वीकार कर ले यह कृतज्ञ प्रणाम मेरा!

और होगा मूर्ख जिस ने चिर-मिलन की आस पाली-
पा चुका, अपना चुका-है कौन ऐसा भाग्यशाली!
इस तडि़त् को बाँध लेना दैव से मैं ने न माँगा-
मूर्ख उतना हूँ नहीं, इतना नहीं है भाग्य मेरा!

श्वास की हैं दो क्रियाएँ-खींचना, फिर छोड़ देना,
कब भला सम्भव हमें इस अनुक्रम को तोड़ देना?
श्वास की उस सन्धि-सा है इस जगत् में प्यार का पल-
रुक सकेगा कौन कब तक बीच पथ में डाल डेरा।

घूमते हैं गगन में जो दीखते स्वच्छन्द तारे,
एक आँचल में पड़े भी अलग रहते हैं बिचारे!
भूल से पल-भर भले छू जायँ उन की मेखलाएँ।
दास मैं भी हूँ नियति का क्या भला विश्वास मेरा!

प्रेम को चिर-ऐक्य कोई मूढ़ होगा तो कहेगा-
विरह की पीड़ा न हो तो प्रेम क्या जीता रहेगा?
जो सदा बाँधे रहे वह एक कारावास होगा-
घर वही है जो थके को रैन-भर का हो बसेरा!

प्रकृत है अनुभूति; वह रस-दायिनी निष्पाप भी है,
मार्ग उस का रोकना ही पाप भी है, शाप भी है;
मिलन हो, मुख चूम लें; आयी बिदा, लें राह अपनी-
मैं न पूछूँ, तुम न जानो क्या रहा अंजाम मेरा!

रात बीती, यदपि उस में संग भी था, रंग भी था,
अलस अंगों में हमारे स्फूर्त एक अनंग भी था;
तीन की उस एकता में प्रलय ने तांडव किया था-
सृष्टि-भर को एक क्षण-भर बाहुओं ने बाँध घेरा!

सोच मत, 'यह प्रश्न क्यों जब अलग ही हैं मार्ग अपने!'
सच नहीं होते, इसी से भूलता है कौन सपने?
मोह हम को है नहीं पर द्वार आशा का खुला है-
क्या पता फिर सामना हो जाय तेरा और मेरा!

कौन हम-तुम? दु:ख-सुख होते रहे, होते रहेंगे,
जान कर परिचय परस्पर हम किसे जा कर कहेंगे?
पूछता है क्योंकि आगे जानता हूँ क्या बदा है-
प्रेम जग का और केवल नाम तेरा, नाम मेरा!

पूछ लूँ मैं नाम तेरा!
मिलन-रजनी हो चुकी विच्छेद का अब है सबेरा!
- अज्ञेय

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ज़िन्दगी जीना सिखा ही देती है..

ज़िन्दगी जीना सिखा ही देती है..

कभी कहती है इतनी राहें हैं,
उन्ही में रात की सियाही दे,
अध् खुली आंख के अंधेरों में,
थपकियाँ दे सुला भी देती है...

किन्ही लम्हों में इक कहानी बन
कई सपनों को सांस देती है,
और फिर याद के समुंदर में
भूल जाती, भुला भी देती है...

इस से मेरा है क्या रिश्ता?
कभी समझूंगा शायद मैं
ये अजीब सी जोगन
कभी रोती, हंसा भी देती है...

- Jamshedpur (Sept 23rd, 2012)

Friday, July 13, 2012 has been happening last many years... has been happening last many years,
once again
tomorrow morning
I will wake up
...and pack my bags, in a voiceless silence
and lock the door...
...which (so I tend to believe/imagine) will say 'good bye, have a safe journey!'
to me...

.. from the taxi, which is the first-leg of another journey
I look back at my balcony
... and will see the shadows of many voices/ smiles/ waving hands of yesteryears...

..till - I return some days later,
and turn the key in the lock of the door again -
turning the key clock-wise, when I left
and turning it anticlock-wise when I returned
... there is a symbolism there for me...

..and the door - mute, voiceless - will open, once again
giving me a feeling that I am welcome back home again! has been happening last many years...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reflections Before The Morning Tea

The morning milk van rattles down the road. Almost simultaneously, my bedside alarm-clock rings its shrill reminder of the harsh realities of life. The effect is jarring on the nerves and unaesthetic to the senses. Nevertheless, it executes my swift transfer from the world of dreams to that of the reality (I have this cat-mouse relationship with this term 'reality' - I catch and play with it, with the intention of destroying it; the reality, however, always escapes my grasp).

I put on the electric kettle, pull a chair to the balcony and settle down, ritualistically waiting for the whistle. Like always, I covet this five-minutes interlude before yielding to the pragmatic compulsions of living. The routine of living, I have always felt, Life betrays living, and these few unaccounted moments have always offered some compensation.

I try to decipher the morning sun through the smoky vomit of the factories of the suburbs. The sun looks pale and seems to be disparately trying to disentangle itself from the shadows of industrialization. In one of my pagan moods, I have often found it embarrassed and ill-at-ease about its waning glory. When my progenies grow up, I reflect philosophically, their reality of the sun would be different from mine. I think about generation-specific experiences, and the creation of conditioned meaning by the forces of history.

Down below are the slums, the dwellings of people who are less equal than the others. According to the census, these people live below poverty line. In terms of my reality, they live below my balcony, across the road, and their quality of life eludes the economists' charts, graphs and numbers. I wonder about these people's experience of life and its meaning. Or maybe for them, the necessities of living have altogether done away the concepts of meaning and purpose. Perhaps, it is too painful and humiliating for them to ponder over the purposes and meanings while living amidst the starving squalor of the slums.

I shudder and guiltily escape by looking at the aged, retired morning-walkers on the street. They look tragically serious in their morning drill, moving with purposeful strides, as if trying to keep pace with life that keeps slipping away. I feel that these people do not actually like walking. They do not enjoy the cool morning breeze, the tranquil loneliness of the roads, the gradual, almost mythological awakening of life and humanity in the city. Rather, they walk because they are, by nature, consumers, and want to barter health and longevity for their morning exercises…

The kettle whistles me back to the mediocrity of the routines. I get up to mechanically have my tea while shaving, and glancing through the newspaper. Then I'll get ready, and go through the programmed actions of catching the bus, reaching the office and so on…. till the bedside alarm once again wakes me up tomorrow morning.

- Sometime in 1980-81, Bhopal

Friday, June 15, 2012

Each meeting - a new life; Each parting - a small personal death

Each meeting -
a new life;
Each parting -
a small personal death...
...a loss,
of a part of myself,
a lonely vaccuum
demanding to be filled up.

But then,
is only a bump
on the road -

It shakes me up,
brings it back to me...
I am on a journey....

- 1987, Jaipur

Friday, June 08, 2012

... on being a "management professional"

Some years back - 25-yrs on into the “management profession” – I gradually realized three things:

  • 1. the term “management school” got hijacked by “business school” during last couple of decades in India. This critically reduced the scope of what the “management professionals” can do in terms of managing/leveraging resources to make a meaningful contribution to society

  • 2. other “professionals”, e.g., doctors, lawyers, etc., remain professionals even when they move out of their chambers (you still ask for their advise when you meet in a party, etc.)… but not so with “management professionals” – they become just like any ordinary citizens, once they move out of their chambers/ narrow corporate campus/roles

  • 3. besides the two meanings of “profession” – (1) mastery over certain specialized skills or body of knowledge, and (2) membership to a community who possess those skills or knowledge – the fundamental and distinctive meaning of the term “profession” (and specially in the context of people-focused helping professions) revolves around the self-acknowledged “public/social role” of the professional. The term “profess” is made up of the Latin prefix pro, which means "forward," or "into a public position," and fess, which derives from the Latin fateri or fass and means "to confess, own, acknowledge."…i.e., the original meaning of profession is "a personal form of public acknowledgment." OR being a professional is public role

    … this realization raised some soul-searching questions – and led to a course called Intro to Social Entrepreneurship..

  • Friday, May 25, 2012

    ...आज बता दे तू मैं क्या हूँ, मेरी परिभाषा परिचय क्या?

    Those were the heady, perplexing, intense days in life. You are just something 20+, thrown out in a world which is both enticing for all the freedom and option to carve out what you can be - and puzzling as to how to put it all together to make sense. As the whole life awaited to unfold itself, the sense of fading away of moments and memories made the issues of dying - and finding the meaning of Life - so very crucial/real then.

    जीवन की अगणित राहों में
    एक राह पर पथिक बना मैं
    ढूंढ रहा था सार स्वयं का
    वर्षों से था भटक रहा मैं

    साँसों में आशाएं ले कर
    संजो ह्रदय में स्वप्न, लक्ष्य का
    पग-पग में पाने को आतुर
    सार, सत्य-सौंदर्य-मृत्यु का

    प्रश्नों की उलझी रेखाओं
    में कितनी ही बार उल्हझ कर
    जीवन के अर्थों को मैंने
    खोजा था, हर पग में प्रतिपल

    किन्तु सभी प्रश्नों का उत्तर
    मिला अधूरेपन का अनुभव
    जीवन मौन रहा, खली सा
    बना रहा सांसों का उत्सव


    एक शाम जीवन के तट पर
    सारहीन भटकन से थक कर
    उदासीन बहती लहरों से
    उल्हझ गया मेरे उर का स्वर:

    "इतने युग तो बीत चुके हैं
    किन्तु अपरिचित है तू अब भी
    तेरा लक्ष्य नहीं क्या कोई?
    दिशाहीन क्या तेरी भी गति?

    तू शाश्वत है, तेरी इन
    लहरों में जीवन का अर्थ छुपा है
    फिर भी मौन, निरुत्तर सा तू
    उदासीन बहता रहता है

    क्या मैं यूँ ही भटक-भटक कर
    किसी एक पल मिट जाऊँगा?
    तेरा इक उपहास-मात्र मैं
    एक निरर्थक स्वप्न स्वयं का?!

    तू जीवन, मैं जीवित हूँ, तब
    यह तेरा मुझसे अभिनय क्या?
    आज बता दे तू मैं क्या हूँ,
    मेरी परिभाषा परिचय क्या?"

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...
    मिलन रजनी हो चुकी, विच्छेद का अब है सबेरा...

    जा रहा हूँ - और कितनी देर अब विश्राम होगा -
    तू सदय है किन्तु तुझको और भी तो काम होगा
    प्यार का साथी बना था, विघ्न बनने तक रुकूं क्यूँ?
    सम्हझ ले, स्वीकार कर ले, यह कृतज्ञ प्रणाम मेरा...
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    और होगा मूर्ख जिसने चिर-मिलन की आस पाली -
    'पा चुका, अपना चुका' - है कौन ऐसा भाग्यशाली?
    इस तड़ित को बाँध लेना, दैव से मैंने न माँगा -
    मूर्ख इतना हूँ नहीं मैं, इतना नहीं है भाग्य मेरा...
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    श्वास की हैं दो क्रियाएँ - खींचना, फिर छोड़ देना,
    कब भला संभव हमें इस अनुक्रम को तोड़ देना?
    श्वास की इस संधि-सा है, इस जगत में प्यार का पल,
    रुक सकेगा कौन कब तक बीच पथ में डाल डेरा||
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    घुमते है गगन में जो दीखते स्वच्छंद तारे
    एक आँचल में पड़े भी अलग रहते हैं बिचारे
    भूल में पल-भर भले छू जाएँ इनकी मेखलाएँ -
    दास मैं भी हूँ नियति का, क्या भला विश्वास मेरा!
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    प्रेम का चिर-एक्य कोई मूढ़ होगा तो कहेगा
    विरह की पीड़ा न हो तो प्रेम क्या जीता रहेगा?
    जो सदा बांधे रहे वह एक कारावास होगा -
    घर वही है जो थके को रैन भर का दे बसेरा!
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    प्रकृति है अनुभूति, वह रस-दायिनी निष्पाप भी है,
    मार्ग उसका रोकना ही पाप भी है, श्राप भी है,
    मिलन हो मुख चूम लें; आई विदा लें राह अपनी -
    मैं न पूंछू, तुम न जानो क्या रहा अंजाम मेरा!...
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    रात बीती, यद्यपि इसमें संग भी था, रंग भी था,
    अलस अंगों में हमारे स्फूर्त एक अनंग भी था;
    तीन की उस एकता में प्रलय ने तांडव किया था -
    सृष्टि-भर को एक क्षण में बाहुओं ने बाँध घेरा!
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    सोच मत 'यह प्रश्न क्यूँ जब अलग ही हैं मार्ग अपने?'
    सच नहीं होते, इसी से भूलता है कौन सपने?
    मोह हमको है नहीं, पर द्वार आशा का खुला है -
    क्या पता फिर सामना हो जाये तेरा और मेरा!
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...

    कौन हम तुम? दु:ख-सुख होते रहे, होते रहेंगे;
    जान कर परिचय परस्पर हम किसे जा कर कहेंगे?
    पूछता हूँ क्योंकि आगे जानता है क्या बदा है -
    प्रेम जग का, और केवल नाम तेरा, नाम तेरा!
    पूँछ लूं मैं नाम तेरा...
    मिलन रजनी हो चुकी, विच्छेद का अब है सबेरा...

    Monday, May 07, 2012

    The Theosophist who loved Parry Mason novels...

    There are memories/ histories and recollections which need to be written down.

    This is one of them… a sort of ongoing process of (re)discovering – literally, as one excavates those memories - how one became what keeps on becoming…

    One of the significant (and implicitly moulding) influences in my early teenage days was my grandfather.

    An ardent Theosophist (someone who hobnobbed with Annie Besant), a teacher. His career (as we call it now) ranged from being private tutor to the JK Singhania’s son to being the Principal of the Theosophical Society School, Kamachha, Varanasi… (he resigned from the Singhania’s tutorship because he resented being treated as an ‘employee’ and not as a teacher – a parallel which I find in my father’s resignation from being the Modi’s personal physician in ‘40s!)

    My grandfather’s principles also led to his rather shaky career path - and apparently, from what I could gather, also resulted in some tumultuous/ insecure upbringing of my uncles… some who never forgave him for that!)...

    In any case, he came into my life when I was around 12-13. My grandmother had expired in ’63; he had stayed with one of my uncles in Delhi, and then came to stay with us in Faizabad/Lucknow in late-‘60s/ early-‘70s, where my father was posted then.

    Babuji – as my grandfather was called – had lost his eye-sight by then. Looking back, I always think that this can be the worse thing which can happen to a teacher, whose only life-line has been what he reads.

    But he picked up with life as it unfolded for him – and with a gusto!

    His only contact with the rest of the world was a transistor/radio… and through that he picked up and mastered things/ events which were quite alien to his previous life…

    … we used to have a peon, Tulsi, who was deputed to take care of him (ah, the feudal bureaucratic set-up!).. and Babuji, who would intently listen to ‘Krishi Darshan’, and will have pretty educated discussions on agriculture with Tulsi...

    … for a person, whose life was pretty cognitive/ideological, Babuji picked up (through the commentaries on the transistor) the intricacies of positions in cricket (e.g., mid-leg, gulley, etc.)… and the mysterious ways in which tennis scores are counted in Wimbledon…

    I learnt all these from him – from a blind person, who had never known these spheres of life (maybe have despised them too!)

    I used to be his ‘personal secretary’ then. I would read out the letters (so many!) he would receive, and take dictation (on postcards and inlands) to respond… that ‘peek-in’ to his life, relationships and conversation too was a learning for life

    As his ‘personal secy’, I remember, I also used to read out novels to him – chapter-by-chapter/day-by-day….. and that’s how I guess I ended up reading up so many Parry Mason novels when I was growing up!

    Babuji used to love those... ...and the letters which he would receive (and I would respond to)... his life-line to his life

    Somewhere in mid '70s those letters stopped coming with the same regularity... dont know why

    One day, in Jan/Feb '76, he said/ told me something like - the world/life is going on; there is no reason to live (OK, not exactly, but something like that as remember) ... and then he let go his life...

    ...his internal life-support systems let go (maybe he allowed that)... I still recall a call from my elder brother on (I think) April 2nd from KGMC/Lucknow, that it is over more than 30+yrs now,

    that he is not there anymore!... or maybe he is!

    in any case, this post was a tribute to that Theosophist who also loved Parry Mason novels on his 125th birthday - today!

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    ...शून्य बन कर ही रहूँगा ||

    I guess these verses, back then in '73, came out of that sense of growing out of childhood into being an adult.. when one experiences so many parts of oneself dying...
    (and it takes a few decades to discover/ realise that in the 'river' nothing remains the same - and everything returns...)

    मृत्यु में ही मुक्ति मेरी,
    ...शून्य बन कर ही रहूँगा||

    भोर आंसू की कहानी
    जलाती दिन की जवानी
    थका, ऊबा शाम का तन
    रात, दुःख में डूबता मन
    है यही जीवन अगर तो,
    भार कब तक सह सकूंगा...
    ...शून्य बन कर ही रहूँगा ||

    चीखतीं साड़ी दिशाएँ
    झटक देती हैं हवाएं
    भटकता हूँ, मार्ग ओझिल
    घेर लेते सिसकते पल,
    खो गया पथ, दिशा धूमिल
    भटकता कब तक रहूँगा
    ...शून्य बन कर ही रहूँगा ||
    - Dec 3, '73 (Lucknow)

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    तेरे बिना ज़िन्दगी से कोई...

    It is funny, how life comes a full circle…
    oh, OK, OK!… it actually doesn’t, really!!...
    (but it does make sense to believe that it does)

    .. and so today, while “YouTube-surfing” this evening, I (re-)discovered song, it brought back many memories…

    This was the 2nd movie we – Geeta and I - had seen together… her 2nd after almost a decade..

    …that was back in ’75, and we all (from MA-Psy, Lucknow Univ) had booked to see “Andhi” in Mayfair (that too does not exist now!!)

    I do, vaguely, recollect the movie… but do recollect this song quite vividly... even though, the 'filters' of this clip have evaporated now... and what was a night scene looks so very different - such being life

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    मैंने देखा था उन दिनों में उसे...

    ... as one navigates through the journey...

    ख्वाब ये है कि वो हकीकत था,
    ये हकीकत है कोई ख्वाब था वो

    Sunday, April 08, 2012

    A search for belonging... that'll never end!

    A tear, that couldn't quench
    the heart's fire.
    a lifeless urge,
    an unknown desire..

    A song, that vanished
    in tearful sighs,
    a dream that never
    opened its eyes...

    A hope that stole away,
    all solaces,
    A memory,
    that left some hurting traces...

    ...And a life, cruel ordeal,
    - that none can defend,
    A search for belonging...
    that'll never end!
    - 16th Feb, '74 (Lucknow)

    Saturday, April 07, 2012


    A poem, she wrote in '75...

    The night wind sighs, in tall dark trees,
    Kissed by a half-hearted moon
    The stars gyrate in perpetual gloom
    In a nameless cosmic freeze.

    And I look up at the trees, to find
    A loving thought, a faceless name
    Oft repeated in a fruitless game
    With myself, with rules I have defined.

    I am the night wind, I am sighing.
    An unwanted, foresaken force,
    Of a pain borne of lifeless chores
    In a barren, cloudless sky I’m dying...

    ...In endless years an endless death,
    Life being blown out breath by breath.

    - Geeta Saxena

    Tuesday, April 03, 2012

    one more autumn... one more batch..

    The rhythm of life and the cycles of seasons, sort of, cog-wheel... they have been doing, since last couple decades...

    This is the time of autumn and, from my balcony, I see the trees shedding their leaves.. folks leaving - saying goodbye to the campus
    ..every year!.. after year

    and each year, I watch this caravan passing by... (mostly below my balcony)

    ..and I wait for June/July when the monsoons will arrive... and the trees will bear new leaves. And a new crop will arrive in the campus... and from my balcony, I will, once again, see a green campus... and see lives going back and forth...

    - below my balcony!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर नींद से प्यारा है सपना,
    और ज़िद के साथ ले सकते हो जोख़िम
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर शुरू कर सकते हो अकेले,
    और बढ़ने के लिए नहीं ढूंढोगे सहारा
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर भरोसा है खुद पर,
    और अविश्वास नहीं है जग पर
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर चल सकते हो अनथक,
    और छाव का इंतज़ार नहीं है
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर भूख लगे और याद आए भूखा,
    और प्यास पर, तालाब एक सूखा
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर आँख नहीं है पर दृष्टि है,
    तन का एक भाग नहीं है, पर मस्ती है
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर नहीं चाहते आग लगाना,
    और चिंगारी है एक मकसद
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    अगर नींद से प्यारा है सपना,
    और ज़िद के साथ ले सकते हो जोख़िम
    तो यह जगह तुम्हारी है...

    - अंशु , 1/1/12

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    32-yrs back... an anniversary of sorts...

    March 1st (that’s tomorrow!), some 32yrs back, was a major transition in my life… I had joined my first job….

    At that time I had dreams of retiring at the age of 50 - and to have an Ashram (a dream which got buried when I wrote this auto-biographical piece a couple of years later: Aseem - A Night without an End)... and to live in an “apple orchard” (don’t know now, though, why this seemed to be so important in life then).

    A couple of years later, I had tried to capture my experience of this transition in a piece “The End of Heroism”… some excerpts:


    (a friend advises me)“Decide very carefully. You may get other offers, but once you get into a job, it is very difficult to get out of it.” I know, If I get into this job – any job – that would be the final end of Utopias and Ashrams>.

    ...But inwardly, I know that it is the final goodbye to dreams. I am very distinctly aware of the choice-point, the choice to mould my destiny.
    Nevertheless, I accept the offer.

  • I accept it because it is a door to an active, pragmatic life – a life which I despise, which I look down upon contemptuously as mundane and ordinary. I accept it because I want to meet my Shadow, because I want to grow out of my excessive reliance on introversion, on speculations… it is possible that the challenge of going against my inner propensity which is so attractive.

  • I accept it because in the previous months, I have often felt myself facing a black, opaque, futureless wall, and I am insecure. I have felt alone in an adult world, with no anchors to tow me on. NPC is security and an escape.

  • I accept it because it is an opportunity for G. to prove her worth to herself, to test her life and its foundations, to try out her wings, to achieve her freedom, her independence.

  • I accept it because my karmas outweigh any other alternative.

    On 1st of March, I come to Bhopal.

    …I try to put my prophetic zeal in my training programmes. I tell my participants, “Why should we wait for someone else to change in order to be happy. Our happiness is our responsibility.”

    But I sell dreams, dreams of Utopia, on industrial democracy, of participative management, of profit-sharing, blah, blah, blah…. “But darkness, hot, sweltering life has become us. Our soul is buried in coal-dust. How can we believe in your ideals?” one of them queries one day, and I perceive the human gap between the verbal Utopias and the experience of one’s own frailty.

    The days of the foaming prophets and their wide-eyed adherents are gone. People I meet are godless, hollow men, conscious of their accidental existence, men without creed or faith, except for their superficial commitments to a pointless process we call living. And living for them, is less a matter of will and pleasure, and more of a compulsion. I am again and again reminded of my favourite belief: man is more a potentiality than an actuality. Now I see a gaping abyss between the potential and the actual. Living contradicts life.

    ….Return of the prodigal son? Settling down? The end of Heroism? Conformity to social convention? Maybe, yes!

    …depends on how one looks at it.

    …Perhaps hero myth is not a part of my collective unconscious. Icarus, Perseus and Daeulus were free beings, unbound by the cycle of karmas> - but to my oriental consciousness, perhaps, they are alien, lacking the continuity of Life. Besides, intimacy can be as meaningful as ideology>. To grow and share with someone can itself be a fulfilling experience.

    I may not hope for an ashram, but there is still the apple orchard.

    One is part of the movement. No one betrays the movement, only grows beyond its “focus of convenience”. The movement goes on - individuals only make their contributions to the collective cause, to the purpose of life-force.

    I have fulfilled my role in the collective growth. The ideological hero is dead. In its place, a mundane, romantic hero is born…


    Looking back, through the haze of 32-yrs, perhaps Life has not been such a bad deal.

  • I don’t have an apple orchard, but I live in a place where I can see the seasons change

  • I don’t have my Ashram, but I have my balcony, below which lives flow by……

    … and so life goes on…
  • Saturday, February 25, 2012

    the stories we tell, the stories we live....

    Many many years back, in a book (which now has been eaten by termites - don't even remember the title), I had come across this story...
      "Whenever there was misfortune in the land, the great Rabbi would go to certain parts of the forest. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and miraculously the misfortune would be averted.

      When the great Rabbi died, his principle disciple carried on with the custom. When the misfortune would strike the land, he would go to the same place in the forest, and say: "O Lord! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And again, the miracle would happen.

      Still later, when the disciple died, his own appointed pupil would go to the forest to save the people of the land. He would say: "I do not know how to light the fire, and I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this should be sufficient."

      And then it fell on the newest rabbi to overcome the misfortunes. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient.

      God made man because He loves stories.

    This made so much sense, since just around that time I had come across this quote/wisdom from Henry Miller - and it has remained with me:

    "I am a man telling the story of my life, a process which appears more and more inexhaustible as I go on. Like the world-evolution, it is endless. It is a turning inside out, a voyaging through X dimensions, with the result that somewhere along the way one discovers that what one has to tell is not nearly so important as the telling itself."

    To me - then - it boiled down to a simple understanding:
    we are just a story/myth we tell to ourselves, and live (as much as we can)...

    ...which led to collecting the quotes/wisdom who knew that life is a story to be lived and told...

  • The ability to see our lives as stories rather than unrelated, random events increases the possibility for significant and purposeful action.
    — Daniel Taylor (Author,Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories)

  • When you’re conversing with coworkers, customers, or investors, the richness and meaning of your story is what people really buy.
    - Tom Durel (former CEO, Ocenia)

  • It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.
    — Thomas Berry, Theologian, Philosopher, and Cultural Historian

  • A great brand is a story that’s never completely told. Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience
    — Scott Bedbury (Author, New Brand World: Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century)

  • Great stories agree with our world view. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.
    — Seth Godin (Author, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us)

  • I had to know and understand my own story before I could listen to and help other people with theirs.
    — Barack Obama (44th President of USA)

  • Those who tell the stories, rule the world.
    - Hopi American Indian Proverb (Also attributed to Plato, Greek Philosopher)

  • Humans have been storytelling for 100,000 years around the campfire; the media is now our campfire.
    — Gloria Steinem, Feminist icon, journalist, and activist

  • There is no greater burden than carrying an untold story.
    — Maya Angelou, Poet

  • Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.
    — Hannah Arendt, German Political Theorist

  • Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives — the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change — truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.
    — Salman Rushdie, Novelist

  • The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the storyteller. All professionals, including advertisers, teachers, entrepreneurs, politicians, athletes and religious leaders, will be valued for their ability to create stories that will captivate their audiences.
    — Rolf Jensen (Former Director of the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies)

  • By refusing to have our stories bounded by race, belief, ideology, nationality, and even by time, and by grounding them in our awe of the universe, we choose to enact a larger, more hopeful and more positive story of humanity.
    — Michael Bogdanffy-Kriegh (Architect and Past President, New York Society for Ethical Culture)

  • We live in story like a fish lives in water. We swim through words and images siphoning story through our minds the way a fish siphons water through its gills. We cannot think without language, we cannot process experience without story.
    — Christina Baldwin (Author, Storycatcher: Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story)

    Some stories, I realised (as I lived through them) also have no ending or resolution... Martin Gardner, the mathematician wrote once:

    "There are only two stories in the world: someone goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town"

    ... I am still trying to figure out if I am soaring eagle, or homing pigeon

    ...not that it matters, really - does it!!?...
  • Friday, February 24, 2012

    कुछ सम्बन्ध, एक असहाय बच्चे सरीखे

    कुछ सम्बन्ध
    एक असहाय बच्चे सरीखे
    किसी सहारे की तलाश में,
    अपनी परिभाषा की खोज में,
    भटकते रहते हैं...

    एक पौधे की तरह
    आवश्यक होता है...

    और ये पालना
    सामजिक परिभाषाओं में आंकी हुई
    के परे होता है...
    - 09/07/80

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    ...that missing 3rd line of the poem...

    ...many many moons back, somewhere in mid 70s...

    ...when in one's early 20s, one was struggling/ balancing between various "Yins and Yangs" in life

    ...I had come across these lines of a poem by Keshav Prasad Pathak, one of my "resident poets" with whom I grew - even though I never met/heard him, but who helped resolving/ making sense of many issues in life then...

    This was one poem which I still partly recall - but for the missing 3rd line...

    रख दिए तुमने नज़र में बादलों को साध कर
    आज माथे पर सरल संगीत से निर्मित अधर
    बांसुरी रखी हुई ज्यों भागवत के पृष्ठ पर...

    I had scribbled these in one my diaries then - but now, I can neither recall the 3rd line, nor can find that diary!! :((

    Yup!!... in some ways, as one moves on...

    एक खिड़की खुली रह जाती है..

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    hmm, yes!... its part of The Journey

    Each meeting -
    a new life...

    Each parting -
    a small personal death
    ... a loss
    of a part of myself,

    ... a lonely vaccuum
    demanding to be filled up.

    But then,
    is only a bump
    on the road...

    It shakes me up,
    brings it back to me...
    I am on a journey!

    - 06/06/1987, Jaipur

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    life's dangling legs, the dark silent valley

    This was scribbled some quarter of a century back, when I was going through my own process of becoming "twice-born"/ द्विज

    I survived - and grew as a person!

    Even though I'd like to live
    and walk a man in search of sun;
    and pass through blossoming apple orchards,
    with a song of love and joy in eyes...

    And ride the clouds to touch the rainbows,
    and write poems on the sands of river banks.

    I'd like to listen to the birds of life
    and kiss the lips of opening buds
    and dance with the whithered autumn leaves
    on the music of the breezy winds...

    BUT on my shoulder
    is a mourning vision:
    Life's Dangling Legs
    in the Dark Silent Valley

    - 11-12/06/86 (ISABS/Jaipur)

    Thursday, February 02, 2012

    of desert-wind, sand-dunes.. and life

    Many years back, when I was exploring the fascinating nuances of what is called the “Chaos/ Complexity Theory” (or why and how events in life and nature unfold, and follow their own course), I had come across this intriguing and insightful analogy/ metaphor of the non-linear interplay between the sand-dunes and the desert-wind…

    when the desert-wind blows, its direction is influenced by the sand-dunes on its way. But then, as it blows, it also shifts the sand-dunes from one location to another – which again change the direction of the desert-wind…. this interplay continues ad infinitum…

    …in this non-linearity/unfolding, there is no “prediction/ certainty”

    Many years later, I came across an analogue to this interplay of forces in human life: “human beings create the technology, and then the technology changes the human life

    …which made sense – since human beings created technology (automotives, cameras, computers, cellphones, etc.), and then these technologies changed the way we live/ relate/ work…

    Over the years, this metaphor sunk into my personal life as I kept looking back (which I do often) the road travelled, and many happenings started making sense (even if the life did not happen as ‘planned’)

  • many, many eons back I entered into a relationship… as we moved on with our lives (together and individually), we changed/shaped that relationship and the relationship changed us as persons...

  • some 3 decades back, I took up my 1st job (those were the times when there were no “campus interviews” – and one had to find a job for oneself), since that was the only option for me then. I did what the job required me to do – but it also gave me a platform to move my life into other directions...

  • some year later into the relationship/marriage, we decided to have a kid.. the way we brought her up shaped her in some ways, but bringing her up also changed our life...

  • as a teacher, my interactions with folks in the class and campus influence them in someways - but those interactions have also changed me as a person...
    etc. etc...

    and so the life goes on... unfolding and uncertain
    …like the unfolding interplay of the sand-dunes and desert-wind…
  • Monday, January 09, 2012

    recurring memories...

    More than a decade back on this date… one knew that this was the beginning of the end!

    Actually one knew, but it had not registered/ was not acknowledged, so to say… even as one dangled between “request for euthanasia” and “denial of an impending reality”

    She had belched out black liquid the whole night, while I had tried to clean it as much as I could – numbed – a defense- in my ability to experience emotions

    … and then somehow/ from-somewhere, these two angels had arrived… as medicos, they had taken over the charge to see her go peacefully, without pain. They had hosted the drip on the wall above our bed, had taken responsibility to be there – shift-by-shift…
    … till she departed

    Two days later from today:

    - An 11-year old kid had gone to the terrace to perform songs to an imagined audience – to be called back to say the final ‘good-bye’

    - An alumnus/student from ’93 batch had visited us, and had said “.. can’t imagine this!!” – he had called and informed many others

    - That night an EL-top wet-night had suddenly got disbanded on the sound of the ambulance, which was to carry the body to the morgue

    - Many friends had come to just be there/ support – but had stayed back knowing that I needed them then

    - I had gone to my balcony and had shed a tear... and uttered a prayer…

    - etc…

    Lives happen…

    this has been mine!