Nostalgia

Events lead you to people.

People lead you to places.

Places and people lead you to experiences.

Experiences in retrospection are memories.

As people fade away, and new ones meet, being nostalgic is the only justice that you can do to different sets of memories.

Time fades away, desires take new shapes. Dreams are redefined, and the individual is only a subset of the past.

New lives are born within the same body every day.

Some of the most nondescript things matter a lot. The smile of a face in the past, as the bus to the future carries you away, expectation of a phone-call although you have nothing to say, are not very significant things, but form an important part of nostalgia.

Life encourages you to improve, it allows you to explore more about yourself, and makes you strive for a unique level of freedom and comfort.

Collecting all experiences, so that maybe, I feel good while recollecting them in the future.

 

Random

The other day I came out of the lab, humming Ghalib’s couplet,

Mohabbat me nahi hai farq jeene aur marne ka,

Usi ko dekh kar jeete hain, jis kaafir pe dam nikle.

My mind was sort of fixated on one particular memory, in the sea of recollections that engulf me these days.I had not, till now, been able to figure out my internal enigmas.

 

Smiling faces never disappoint me, and I saw one at the corner of the coffee shack.And as usual, I too smiled to myself, oblivious of the circumstances which had made that face smile. The smile seemed to communicate.

It was not an unusual happening. Even though at the age of twenty four I have seen very little of the world, I hummed my favourite Ghalib line and proceeded to catch the bus. The tum-tum.

Baazecha-e-Atfal hai duniya mere aage

Hota hai shab-o-roz tamaasha mere aage.

(Bazeecha-e-Atfal is a child’s playground, loosely)

It was raining, and since I was not holding my umbrella properly, one of my sleeves had got wet. I entered the tum-tum, and as is my wont, looked straight into the faces of a few individuals.

People feel quite uncomfortable when you do so. And in the meantime I started humming,

Unse nain mila kar dekho

Yeh dhokha bhi kha kar dekho

The tum-tum sped on, and I do not quite recollect what I was thinking till I got down at (what our scholars call) the  three-legged intersection, just a few metres from my hostel.

I called Satam, then. Because, there was no one who could listen to the random (bullshit?) that was going through my mind. We talked about his taste of classical music, and books.

I told him something randomly, but quite in sync with my mood. I recollected the last lines of The Solitary Reaper for no apparent reason. And then proceeded to have lunch.

I do not like the predictability of mess-menus. Still, I decided to be unpredictable, and eat in the mess. The food was good.

I have been building a background, but there is no main story. Perhaps, I should stop here.

 

 

 

Difficult

Reality sometimes holds you by the scruff of your neck, and removes the scales from your eyes. Primarily, human beings are meant to share some of their emotions so that they are able to fulfill their collective aspirations. It is no rigorous exercise, but is based on something as basic as trust in a fellow creature. As maturity further obscures the definition of love, reality begins to lose the thin film of haziness that shrouded it.

It is when concepts get clearer that life gets more difficult.

Book Review : An Excursion of Insight : Harsh Agarwal

An Excursion of Insight is a bold book. No one these days writes about an Engineering college, unless it is in one of the metros. The story is based on the backdrop of an Engineering college in Assam,  where students from all around the country as well as few international students study.

Quite a rare place, you may say, but definitely not unrealistic. The main story proceeds on the life of a few Engineering students, and the various encounters they face during their collective stay. The perceived love between a simple-thinking Bhutanese guy and a rich girl from India has been depicted, in a rather immature manner. However, this immaturity is not only acceptable, but also beautiful.

As someone who has stayed in surroundings of that sort, I found the book quite absorbing in its descriptions. The flavors of Assam and adjoining areas, and the myths surrounding the place is amazingly explored by the young author. The story does enforce a few stereotypes at some places, but these are formed on the basis of the outlook of students in such a situation. There are indications to show that this depiction is extraneous to the author himself.

The biggest achievement of the book is to bring to the fore the conditions of people who are neither the most privileged, nor are they as so unlucky as people in various other parts of the country. It is all about how modernity as well as an ambitious mindset is gripping this class of youth so fast.

The cultural differences one faces while coming from different backgrounds is well-depicted. The main story is not as strong as the backdrop, and could have been written with a much stronger overtone. It is true that  certain twists and turns are placed rather awkwardly. In other words, the author could have written a bit more about the obvious too, but he chose to trade this aspect off with brevity. Written very colloquially, it is lucid and has a very good flow. I enjoyed reading it, I definitely think you will do as well.

Book Review: Imperium, by Robert Harris

Prior to this, I had not read any book about ancient Rome-fiction or non fiction. Indeed my knowledge of ancient Rome can be credited mainly to discrete random bits of information. So Imperium (Cicero#1) by Robert Harris was probably the first book, and hence the first fictional novel I have read about Rome. My review of the novel should be therefore viewed in that context.

For a lover of politics, this book would come out to be a very good read. Ancient Rome and most importantly a significant period of the life of one of the greatest orators of all time, Marcus Tullius Cicero is presented in a very thought-provoking manner. The various aspects of the character of Cicero may be well delineated, although one might argue that the positive aspect of his character receives much more attention. The author is however not condescending, and brings about the fallacies in the great statesman.

The vivid description of senate sessions, tribune cases and the strategies employed by generals, aristocrats and the common plebs makes the narrative gripping. While it may be argued that the story stops suddenly at the consulship of Cicero rather than coming to an end, it captures the best part of Cicero’s life.

The first part describing the journey of Cicero-the senator to the office the praetor and his trial of Verres is very gripping. Cicero’s opportunism is presented, but is never criticized, nor is it given any strong  justification. The second half is also interesting from the viewpoint of the political career of Cicero, and contains references to people like Crassus and Caesar. It ends with Cicero winning an unlikely citizen for the Consulship, the highest post in Rome.

The character I admired was the narrator Marcus Tullius Tiro, Cicero’s slave (and later freedman) one credited with the discovery of the shorthand system at that time, for his courage and loyalty.

For a person with limited knowledge on Rome, the book was both entertaining and informative. People may find startling anachronisms, but that is why it is a historical fiction not a non-fictional account. (It however claims to represent what happened, and what could have happened, but not anything that did not happen)

Recommended.
My score:-  3.5/5

The Zealot Writer's Journal

This is a straightforward amateur historical description of a famous battle between Werdan the Syrian, subject of Heraclius, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, and Dekar the Saracen, subject of Abu Bakr, Caliph of the Muslims.

In 632 CE, Abu Bakr received the throne that Muhammad had built, via concession of his opponent Umar. He moved to consolidate the empire and crush the rebellion of the Arab tribes that had begun after the death of Muhammad. During the Ridda Wars, or the War of Apostasy, Abu Bakr explored the military potential of the new organization. Six centers of resistance organized after the death of Muhammad. Abu Bakr organized his army into 11 corps. It proved to be a very effective strategy, and the army of Musaylimah, head of the insurrectionists, conceded defeat at the battle of Yamama.

During the Ridda Wars, resting troops near the northern border of the forming…

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