Thursday, February 18, 2010

losing a life, and regaining a 'lost' life - on the same day!

Life has enigmatic ways of compensating... On the same day, one can lose a life, and one can also regain (in some ways) another lost life

On the day when Manu succombed to the Pune German Bakery blast, I was drafting this posting, which was left incomplete at that time...
(and realising that it is important to close the loops/ 'windows' in life - if only for oneself - today, I sat down and completed it)

Some months back, when Yahoo! had sent out a mail informing that the "free" Yahoo! Geocities was going to be closed down on Oct 26th, '09 - with an option to transport one's site to a paid Yahoo! domain, I was in a quandry:

I had a Geocites site which I had created to preserve some cherished memories of a person - not just for myself, but also for many others who had valued that life. Creating that site was an act, not only of celebrating a life, but also of sharing - of creating a 'commons' for all those who were part of it.

Yahoo!'s mail told me that suddenly, that 'commons' had got usurped by the 'markets' - which required one to pay to share memories (the issue not being how much to pay! - but the fact that one has to pay!)...

Underlying this belief was also an understanding of the original architecture/rationale of the Internet - of an era, when "Hackers" were the "Heroes of the Computer Revolution" - the good guys, who built the Net, and when the "Nerds" represented the dark forces of narrow commercial interests.

In 2005, when one of the greatest Hackers of his time, Tim-Berner Lee - the scientist who invented the World Wide Web, had started his blog, he had written in his first post:

"In 1989 one of the main objectives of the WWW was to be a space for sharing information. It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute... Now in 2005, we have blogs and wikis, and the fact that they are so popular makes me feel I wasn't crazy to think people needed a creative space."

While downloading the files from the Geeta's site, which I had made, I had wondered if there can be a way to download all sites - and preserve not just what I had created, but also what all others had created to share. Not being a techie/"hacker", I did not know how that can be done - though knew that it can be done!... I had felt helpless, and had mourned the demise of the efforts of so many millions of people to share...
(Btw, being selfish, I did also opt for Yahoo!'s option to pay to maintain that site - paid the money, booked a site-name - but have not heard anything from them since...) today, while searching for something else, my belief in the essential - though forgotten - "Hacker Ethics" of the internet got vindicated, when I chanced upon a website:

The person did this herculean Samaritan task was obviously the quintessential hacker, as defined by Eric Ramond:

"Hackers solve problems and build things, and they believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help. To be accepted as a hacker, you have to behave as though you have this kind of attitude yourself. And to behave as though you have the attitude, you have to really believe the attitude."

I loved and admired the Open Letter to Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! from the "hacker", Jacques Mattheij, who had taken the pain and effort to keep a monumnet of collective efforts alive - hats off to you, Jacques!.... He articulated a thought which I had when I received the mail from Yahoo! - but so much more cogently... So let me quote:

    "When the Taliban decided to blow up those antique statues a while ago there was worldwide uproar. Thousands upon thousands of people spoke out against it, recognized that what was lost here was a unique statement of the cultural state of mankind, a sense of loss was felt by all.

    In the name of religion, culture was destroyed.

    And now, perhaps unwittingly, Yahoo! has committed a similar act. When those statues were blown up it was clearly an act of vandalism. That we are not in our lifetimes going to travel to Afghanistan to see them is a small detail.

    But Yahoo! GeoCities pages were a monument too, and were accessible to (and accessed by) millions from all over the world. It was not just a business unit, it was something that mankind made, that Yahoo! had custody over.

    It was a monument that stood as testimony to the birth of the World Wide Web, something that will surely occupy the scholars of the future. To Yahoo! it may have simply been a bunch of bits on some hard disks. But to humanity is was much more than that.

    In the name of commerce culture was destroyed."

Thanks, Jacques!... for...

  • ...for reaffirming that cultures/civilizations grow and develop through the conversations/contribitions of ordinary people - and not through commerce and Intellectual Property Rights...

  • ...for saving a large portion of a collective endeavour of millions of those ordinary people to share and create those conversations...

  • ...(on a personal/ selfish level).. For restoring the website - Remembering Geeta

    Postscript:... And just to add, the original "hacker culture" is thankfully well and alive... I also found that someone (don't know who) created - restored the page at too!
  • Saturday, February 13, 2010

    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    I guess, I was lucky to have some remarkable co-travellers in life, when I was growing up - poets, activists, romantics, thinkers (as much as one can be one is in one's teens)... essentially us, who had this "sense of destiny" then...

    Here are the verses written by one of them, I had met first time - I still remember the date, July 8th, 1970 - in the corridors of Colvin Taluquedar College, Lucknow... This became one of those cherished relationships, which has lasted a life-time - I attended his daughter's wedding this December - and realised that time flies... and one day we too will sail out of the Middle-Earth!

    anyways, the verses:

    जीवन के आगे जीवन है,
    जीवन के पीछे जीवन है,
    पर जीवन की खोज मृत्यु हो,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    जीवन कहाँ शांतिमय होगा,
    जहां शांति है वहाँ ना जीवन,
    पर मैं शांति खोजता फिरता
    आदि शांतिमय, अंत शान्ति है,
    शांति मध्य में भी मैं ढूँढू
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    जीवन के तो अगणित पथ हैं,
    हर पथ के अगणित राही हैं,
    एक पथिक बन मैं भी जी लूं,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    वृक्ष एक बढ़ता जाता है,
    नीचे एक पुष्प कुसुमित है,
    वृक्ष कहे बढ़ाते जाना है,
    फूल कहे जग महकाना है,
    एक दूसरे से वोह पूंछे,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    पास बही जाती हो नदिया,
    शीतल, चंचल, गहन सौम्य सी,
    मेरा मन हो विकुल प्यास से,
    पर मैं प्यासा बैठ किनारे,
    बात जोहता रहूँ मेघ की,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    इधर हमें कर्त्तव्य पुकारे,
    उधर ह्रदय कहता, जीने दो,
    चीख-चीख कर आस कह रही,
    मुझे बचाओ टूट रहीं हूँ,
    मैं सुना, अनसुना सब कर दूं,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    जब आँखों से नीर बह चले,
    और हूक सी उठे हदय में,
    तब अपनी अमूल्य पीड़ा को,
    भेंट चढ़ा दूं मुस्कानों की,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    जिस विशाल नभ की छाया में,
    बाल्यकाल है अपना बीता,
    जिसने भेजा चन्द्रकिरण को,
    भरा हमारा अंतर रीता,
    उस विशाल मंदिर को ताज कर,
    विचरें इक छोटी कुटिया में,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?....

    दो आँखे हैं, दो आंसू हैं,
    चार नयन हैं, दो मुस्कानें
    झुटला कर इस अटल सत्य को,
    उतराऊं झूठे दर्शन में,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    मुझमें है मष्तिष्क, हृदय है,
    मझमें काम, क्रोध, और भय है,
    जो अपना है उसे दबा कर,
    रूप देवता का कर लूं मैं,
    क्या जीवन का ध्येय यही है?...

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Hangover... of a life!

    Waking up
    with a cramped body,
    and a foul smelling mouth...reminiscent of last night's whisky...
    processed with cigarette fumes

    - which left,
    a sticky taste,
    and glued me to bed...

    This morning, a meeting point:

    ...of countless threads,
    from eternity to today

    ...of the last evening,
    when we touched each other
    with raw words,
    stretching from one peg to another

    ...of an evening a week back,
    when at a speed of 60kmph,
    I travelled from love to loneliness

    ...of a year back,
    when I embarked upon a journey,
    to meet my hedonistic Shadow

    ... of a decade back,
    when I looked inside myself,
    and was overwhelmed, and inspired,
    by its naive incompleteness

    ... of a life-time back
    when pushed out of the womb,
    I suffered my fall....

    Events conspired:
    ... to weave the inevitable,
    and I was born
    ...with a numb memory
    of a dim, faded, unspent communion
    of the evening before!

    (26/01/81- IBP Guest House, Korba)

    Tuesday, February 09, 2010

    ...and next day, I walked to the post-office and sent a telegram..

    this is a part of the continuing Operations "Life-Upload" :)

    almost 30 years back, on a lonely rainy afternoon in Bhopal - in a dingy flat in Arera Colony- , I had scribbled these verses... they also marked a crossing of threshold for me.....

    आज फिर,
    एक उन्मत्त स्त्री
    सरीखी वर्षा...
    और एक सिहरन
    जो मुझे
    इस घुटी हुयी सीलन भरे कमरे में,
    झझकोर देती है॥
    ..और पास आ कर बैठ जाती है, पूछती है,
    "तू अकेला क्यूं?"

    ...और मुझे याद आता है:
    कई साल पहले
    मैंने इन्ही पन्नों पर लिखा था:
    "क्यों की मेरा जन्म
    अकेले हुआ था,
    मरने पर
    साँसे मेरी रुकेंगी,

    और याद आता है
    मेरी आठ साल की उम्र के परिवेश
    उठता हुआ यह गीत:
    "जोदि तोमार डाक शोने ना कोई
    एकला चलो रे॥"

    और उस सिहरन
    का वो प्रश्न
    मेरी यादों के साथ
    उलझ कर
    एक गाँठ बन जाता है...

    शायद ये अकेलापन
    ये अकेले रहने की आदत,
    ये अकेले रहने के विवशता
    स्वयं एक गाँठ है,
    जो मैंने
    अपने अस्तित्व की खोज में
    अपने पर डाल ली है...
    और अब...
    ज़िन्दगी के साथ किया ये समझौता
    जीवन की सार्थकता से दूर,
    एक बेमाने की विवशता बन गया है....

    सार्थकता और विवशता में
    केवल समय की दूरी है...
    शब्दों में बुनी अपने अस्तित्व की प्रतिछवियां:
    - किनारे बैठ कर, लहरें गिननें वाला.. कवि
    - कभी ना रुकने वाला... अकेतन
    - जीवन की परिधि पर बैठा... कहानीकार...

    ... और इनकी तह में छिपा
    एक मासूम खोजता एकाकीपन।

    ये सब,
    स्वयं को आंकने के,
    स्वयं को मापने के,
    स्वयं को पाने के...
    ...प्रयत्न थे
    ...जीवन के उन पलों में सार्थक थे....

    लेकिन आज, जब
    - कवि तैरना चाहता है,
    - कहानीकार, जीवन की परिधि से उतर कर... जीना चाहता है
    - और वह भटकता पथिक - अकेतन - थक चूका है....
    और किसी झोपड़ी के दीपक को
    अपनाना चाहता है...

    तब यह सार्थकतायें,
    यह प्र्तिछावियाँ
    एक जंजीर बन जाती हैं...

    ज़िन्दगी के साथ किया ये समझौता
    मिटाया जा सकता है,
    कोई और समझौता किया जा सकता है,

    ...क्योंकि, यह अकेलापन
    अब सागर का शांत किनारा नहीं,
    साबेरिया का निर्मम परिवेश है,॥

    जिसे छू कर,
    मेरे अन्दर एक सिहरन उठती है,
    ..और पूछती है:
    "तू अकेला क्यूं?!"

    ..and next day I walked to the post-office and sent a telegram: "Leave it all, come, let's live together..."

    Saturday, February 06, 2010

    स्वयं को खोया, स्वयं का सार पाने के लिए - २

    स्वयं को खोया स्वयं का सार पाने के लिए - १...
    स्वयं को खोया,
    स्वयं का सार पाने के लिए...

    जब प्रणय की अर्चना में
    कामना के गीत उगते,
    जब कृत्रिम जग की प्रथा में
    सांस के पग जा उलझते,
    जब ह्रदय की वासना
    जीवन-दिशायें खीचती थी,
    पूछती थी अर्थ अपना,
    व्यर्थ-सी स्मृति उभर के...
    ...क्या चले थे हम यही संसार पाने के लिए...

    भटकने देते स्वयं को,
    उस भटकने में दिशा थी,
    उलझती पगडंडियों में
    भटकना जीवन-प्रथा थी,
    मार्ग ही गंतव्य था, चलना
    स्वयं में ध्येय था,
    मिलने-बिछुड़ने की अधूरी
    तृप्ति में, संत्रिप्ता थी...
    ...भटकता था प्यार भी जब प्यार पाने के लिए...

    Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Goodbye, Holden Caufield!...

    ....for someone who grew-up as an uncertain, nervous, ill-at-ease apprehensive adolescent... books and authors - Richard Wright, Albert Camus, Sartre, GB Shaw, Ayn Rand, Oscar Wilde, etc.... - were a comfortable and safe reality to relate to.

    I realised that, during last one week - while I was busy with the SE Conference, two of them with whom I grew - Eric Segal (Love Story... still wonder why it turned out to be prophetic) and JD Salinger... and who contributed to my growing up, left the planet.

    JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye - and Holden Cuafield - were one of such anchor for me then...

    So, I dug out this register from IITK days ('76 roll number 610062 :), where I had scribbled some of the conversations of Holden Caufield which made sense to me then - and still do:

    Conversation between Holden Caufield and Mr Antalini:

    “It’s this course where each boy in the class has to get up in the class and make a speech – you know Spontaneous and all. And if the boy digresses at all, you’re supposed to yell “Digressed” at him as fast you can. It just drove me crazy. I got an F in it.”


    Oh, I don’t know. That digression business got on my nerves. I don’t know. The trouble with me is, I like it when somebody digresses. It’s more interesting and all.”

    Conversation between Holden Caufield and Mr Spencer.

    Mr Spencer: “What’d he say to you?”

    “Oh… about life being a game and all. Andhow you should play it according to rules. He was pretty nice about it. I mean, he didn’t hit the ceiling or anything like that. He just kept talking about life being a game and all that, you know.”

    “Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to rules.”

    “Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.”

    Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it is a game, all right – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.

    Mr Antolini to Holden Caufield.

    “The falI I think you’re riding for – It’s special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit the bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement is designed for men who, at some time or the other in their lives, were looking for something their environment couldn’t supply them with… So they gave up looking. The gave up before they even got started.”

    and this last one, which is sort of "scripty"

    Holden Caufiled to Phoebe:

    “…I keep picturing all these kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s is around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I am standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean, it they’re running and don’t look where they’re going, I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s I’d do all day. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”


    Omar Khayyam & Me - 4

    And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
    Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,
    Lift not your hands to It for help--for It
    As impotently moves as you or I.

    My Translation:
    सुने आसमान पर
    हाथ उठा कर
    मिटा रहे हो कौन सा गम...

    उल्टा खाली प्याला
    जो अधर में ही रुका है
    जिसकी मदिरा का
    हर कण सूख चूका है...

    उतना ही असहाय है,
    उतना ही नपुंसक है,
    जितने तुम और हम।

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    a thousand songs back again...

    These verses were part of the growing-up phase - had fallen in love with them...and then had forgotten them...

    I am not sure, why I was trying to locate these verses (by Pritish Nandy) since last few days/weeks... but did finally find them scribbled in a diary today:

    I have been freewheeling, double dealing for too long,
    rambling, gambling chasing a song: It’s been
    long since I met myself, after weeks and weeks
    of hanging around. It’s been long since I paid my dues
    and headed homewards searching for you.
    It’s time you came and took me back,
    a thousand songs back again...

    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Omar Khayyam & Me - 3

    Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat: XLVI:
    And fear not lest Existence closing your
    Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
    The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour'd
    Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

    My Translation:
    मरने के बाद भी,
    हम मिटेंगे नहीं।
    आने वाली पीढ़ियों में
    हमारा अंश होगा...

    ...इसलिए नहीं कि हमारी आत्मा उनमे होग़ी
    याकि वोह हमारी संतान होंगी... ।

    बल्कि इसलिए
    क्योंकि पानी में बुलबुले
    उठते रहे हैं
    ..और उठते रहेंगे॥

    ...और सब बुलबुले
    एक से होते हैं...