Friday, December 17, 2004

Going to Sleep

Now that day wearies me,
My yearning desire,
will receive more kindly,
like a tired child, the starry night

Hands, leave off your deeds
mind, forget all thoughts;
All of my forces
yearn only to sink into sleep.

And my soul, unguarded,
would soar on widespread wings,
to live in night's magical sphere
More profoundly, more variously.

-- Hermann Hesse

Fading star, memories of those that were,
With the eye, firm, beholding the new light
The coldness within, will stay awhile, awhile
Softly, the wind blows, the day arrives.

Cold, cold heart, indulge me some more
Partake of this, the unstained warm delight
No sun waits for the the dew drop's shiver
No pain falters , a leaf is not that shall not wither

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

that-same-old-tune-again dept.

Again a tryst with my old friend, the grim reaper. This time he was standing ominously in a passage, and I sighted him and looked him in the eyes. Some part of me must be indentured to him, for him to stalk me so obsessively. One day, under a clear sky we shall meet, and settle our account.

bull[ae]-shah-di-gal dept.

In one of my desultory channel browsing sessions (the only effective algorithm to watch television without ending up buying a .44-steel-cast Magnum and shooting up everything in sight), I was rivetted by a video on one of the Punjabi music channels. A Sardar in full regalia, strumming a six-string all over India. The artist: Rabbi Shergill, and the song was "Bulla ki Jaanaa", his rendition of the famous Kafi by 18th-century Sufi saint Bulla-Shah (also known as Bulle-Shah, I'm told, but that does not mitigate his name one bit ;)). Needless to say, since I have recently been impressed by many things Punjabi (pronounced Ohye, Punhjhaabbee!), I managed to get my hands on the album.

I was impressed with what seems to be a debut album. The lyrics are good (all in Punjabi), with a few classical selections like the Bull[ae]-Shah poem, and some by other famous Punjabi poets. Rabbi writes amazingly perceptive lyrics himself, but comes up a little short on composition. The result is this odd feeling you get on the B-sides of listening to Walt Whitman recited to the tune of Raghupati Raghav Rajaa Ram. Well, maybe it needs a bit of getting used to or maybe the engineering on these songs is a little overwrought. But this man's talent as a bard/balladeer is undeniable. In this age of mindless Britney-pop, he is a true visionary, a man with depth and true insight, and most important of all, great emotional sincerity. No wonder he was given the boot by all the recording labels before being signed on by the guys who founded Tehelka.

A good read is this article by Minty Tejpal of Tehelka, documenting Rabbi's journey.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

and-in-other-news dept.

The doctrine of puritanism must probably be as old as religion itself (or perhaps, it is religion itself?). Every few years sees the emergence of a new species -- a new shade of the same old color. There must exist some well-defined pattern behind this cycle of resurgence and demise. There also seem to be many flavors of puritanism -- one that arises out of economic upheaval, one that is brought on as a reaction to rapid social change etc. etc.

I don't know much about history, but here's a highly readable article that describes the evolution of English Puritanism. The article's main theme is a polemic that correlates it with the current wave of Christian conservatism that Bush seemed to ride on to victory in the recent U.S. Presidential Elections. But still, readable nonetheless...