Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Night For Conscious Dreams

Lying awake on my bed it seems,
To be a night for conscious dreams,
Of any fantasy, or a nightmare,
That plagues you in bottomless despair.

As my eyes adjust to the dark,
I squint at the shadows of a life unmasked.
A moment to reflect on the day gone past,
A continuum of experiences rushing by thick and fast.

Do I dwell on the good or learn from the bad?
Do I bask in the joy or wallow in the sad?
Do I make new promises or break the old?
The questions abound, the answers untold.

I blink, I think, I dream, I yearn,
To unravel the mysteries my reveries churn,
The mind turns foggy in this labyrinthine maze,
As sleep envelopes me in a groggy haze.

-- Harshvardhan.

Painting: 'Night Dreams' by Yuri Pysar.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Your Darkest Fear

Forgetting a person near,
One you hold to your heart dear,
In your dreams who does appear,
Is tougher than your darkest fear.

And then you wonder, dusk and dawn,
How to will your heart to move on,
Hope ways and means to carry on,
Leave the one who almost did belong.

Slowly as your mind drifts ashore,

To the sands of scars your memories bore,
The pain of relentless passion galore,
You wish to desperately store.

That ceaseless, desperate lament,
In your throat builds a monument,
Mistakes that your soul repents,
Echo forevermore in mute torment.

-- Harshvardhan.

The Best Prologue I've Ever Read.

"It was the cold that roused him. The moment he plunged into the frigid water at the bottom of the bog hole, his eyes fluttered open, and his mind grasped the fact that he would certainly die here. He knew it was the reason he had been brought to this place, the reason he had been born. His body, however, seemed to require further persuasion. He shook his head, groggy, as though awakened from sleep. Was all this real, or only a vision of what was to come? He remembered running, a glancing blow, and before that --
For a moment he remained very still; then he struggled to right himself in the bog hole's narrow fissure, pressing against the walls with his hands and elbows, treading slowly against the dark, pulpy liquid into which he'd already sunk to his hips. It was pulling him in, downward. Nothing would stop him now. He gasped for air, feeling the leather cord encircling his throat, all at once aware of a strange, spreading warmth upon his chest -- blood, his own blood, sticky and metallic. But the primary sensation was cold, a deep, numbing chill combined with an utterly astonishing softness, whose deceitful purpose, he knew, was to draw him into its familiar, bosomy grasp and keep him here forever.
Above his head the midsummer evening remained fair and mild, and his eyes reflected the waning twilight still visible at the top of the bog hole, scarcely more than an arm's length above his head. His muscular shoulders were those of a man who had herded cattle milked at daybreak and evening, who each spring broke the virgin soil with his plow, who sowed corn and reaped it with sharpened blade -- a man ruled by circular, circadian rhythms of light and darkness. The slight hollows in his clean-shaven countenance bespoke hard labor and scant harvests.
He knew this place, this bog. It was a mysterious, holy place, home to spirits and strange mists, a place of transformation and danger. He had crossed it countless times, treading carefully among glittering blue and green damselflies while tracking a hare or a slow-moving grouse. He'd seen the same evening light in its pools of standing water that recalled a hero's footprints or fragments of firmament fallen to earth. At their edges he had crouched, watching crimson masses of bloodworms as they transformed almost before his eyes and rose from the water to join quivering clouds of midges that hovered, faintly droning, above. He would never see them again, for he had entered a place from which there was no return.
Trapped by the weight of his own body, he could feel himself sinking with every passing second, could feel his hands moving uselessly against the seeping walls of the bog hole. Letting go an involuntary howl, he began to twist and claw furiously, reverting to the instinctive behavior of a trapped animal, baring his teeth and straining with every fiber, unable to reason or comprehend. But his feet were firmly mired in the slurrylike peat and would not come away. He was getting light-headed. His legs were numb, and as the frigid water seeped steadily higher, he began to tremble violently. Even as he felt the dread chill envelop him, he knew that his heart's blood would soon begin to slow. He ceased struggling and kept still, feeling each breath flow in and out, each one shallower than the last. A memory brushed like spider silk across his consciousness -- a luminous face, a woman's voice soft against his ear. He had sunk to his shoulders; soon he would be swallowed up, devoured by the insatiable earth, the origin and end of life.
In the last few moments, it was only instinct that kept his chin above the surface, as each involuntary shudder drew him further downward. The water stung as it touched his wounds, and began to trickle into his ears, slowly shutting out all sound but his own beating heart. Soon only his face and hands lingered above the surface, but his eyes remained open, staring upward, so that the last image imprinted there was the dim, familiar outline of a head and shoulders, framed in the jagged opening above him by the dying light of evening. His savior, or his executioner? An instant later, living moss and damp peat showered down upon him from above, closing his eyes and filling his nostrils with the scent of sweet grass and heather as he abandoned all resistance and finally yielded to the bog's chill embrace."

-This is the prologue from the book, 'Lake Of Sorrows' by Erin Hart. One of my all-time favorite books.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

For the love of the dictionary.

Here are five sentences I constructed using rare words. The idea is to promote the learning of new words by reading the dictionary, which is a source of immense joy for a logophile like me.

So here is how it works. Take a dictionary. And as you read each sentence, look up the weird words. What will amaze you is that, at the beginning of each sentence, you might wonder how the sentence will ever make sense. But then towards the end, as you decipher each word, it will. Like a jigsaw puzzle fitting together with its' final few pieces. And the realization that dawns upon you is worth the effort.

Happy wording! Enjoy! :)

1. A cornucopia of plangent cries in his sustained, perfunctory falsetto occluded this curmudgeon's ubiquitous temerity, when confronted with the news of the death of his wife.

2. The coxswain watched, transfixed, as the sylph waded through the still waters towards him; and though she was robed in a shiny taffeta, she appeared wan, as she warbled in her slow, deliberate notes, filling up the silent night air.

3. Servile by nature and a wanderluster by choice, the regular ministrations he offered on his peregrinations allowed his mind to always debouch itself from worldly bother.

4. The proponent's propinquity to the proscenium was propitious to propound his project and proscribe the prosaic programme proffered by the prolix prologue of the professor.

5. As Edmund plodded up the vertiginous path, he held his windsock which confirmed the presence of a zephyr, but he knew he would encounter an occluded front and this reconfirmed the fact in his mind, that this was no workaday expedition.

Pavapuri - Jain Tirth and Jeev Raksha Kendra

Shree Pavapuri Tirth Jeev Maitridham, a Jain Tirth Sthal, is situated at Sirohi district of Rajasthan, 65kms from Abu Road. This campus is developed by K. P. Sanghvi Group and it comprises of a Jain Tirth (Temple complex) and Jeev Raksha Kendra (Animal Welfare Center).
The Tirth derived its name after the Pavada Agriculture well that exists here.

Shri Kumarpalbhai V. Shah inspired Late Shri Hajarimalji Poonamchandji Bafna and Shri Babulalji Poonamchandji Bafna, the founders of K. P. Sanghvi Group, to construct a Tirth Dham. They started construction and development of the campus on May 30, 1998. The initial thought was to construct a small temple and a shelter for 100 cows only but the campus is now spread over more than 500 acres of land. The temple complex occupies 31,01,472 sq. ft. area and the Jeev Raksha Kendra (Animal Welfare Center) occupies 71,96,112 sq. ft. area to provide shelter to 6,200 stray cattle.
Many species of birds are found here.

It took two and a half years to construct the temple with an average of 400 artisans working daily. The construction was completed on February 07, 2001, Wednesday and was finally opened for worship. The devotees were spellbound during the Pratishtha Mahotsav, opening ceremony of the Tirth Dham.

At the Jeev Raksha Kendra, fresh milk from the cows is fed to the calves and also used in the Food Premises (Bhojanshala). Cows, as we all know, are considered as holy beings in the Hindu belief, and their care is amply taken here. Fresh, filtered water is given to them everyday and fodder from self-grown fields is fed to them.
There are 2 huge mandirs (temples) in this campus, flanked by fountains on both sides, a la Vegas. At night, the temple is lighted only by diyas all over till dawn, with the diyas being lit with the help of pure ghee, which is made by the milk of the cows.

There are over 90,000 fully grown trees (excluding small plants, bushes and flower beds) in this campus.
There are big halls for special occasions, rooms to stay in (deluxe AC rooms [1100/- for 24 hours + non-AC rooms [300/- for 24 hours]) which are made entirely of stone.
Dotted with statues along the pathway, this is an entirely planned complex, with a stream running through the entire length and breadth of the campus.

Sirohi, with fourteen Jain temples surrounding it, has been a revered pilgrim center in Rajasthan, Northwestern India. For centuries, these shrines have comforted countless devotees seeking divine interventions in their lives. Keeping this tradition alive is Shree Pavapuri Tirth Dham, offering devotees the opportunity to find peace within them.

Shree Pavapuri Tirth Dham is a shining example of Jain Temple Architecture and Culture. It is a beautiful blend of art and architecture, enshrined in pure values that have percolated through generations. A visit here is therapeutic for the mind, body and soul. The calm, beautiful, scenic and vast complex of Pavapuri sits ensconced amidst the contemplative Aravali Mountain range that sits like a determined yogi in meditation.

Album Review. "Wasting Light" by Foo Fighters.

Wasting Light is the seventh studio album by American alternative rock band Foo Fighters. It was released on April 12, 2011. The title of the album is taken from the lyrics of the song "Miss the Misery".

Here is a short review of all the songs on the album:

Track #1: Bridge Burning
Perfect beginning to a Foo Fighters album. Pacy and relentless. One of my personal favorites on this record. Whets your appetite nicely.

Track #2: Rope
Unconventional rhythm. Should grow on you with repeat hearings. Gets better as the song progresses.

Track #3: Dear Rosemary
Good riffs, bass and layering with the guitars. Grohl's voice is pained on this one. Which is probably what comes across from the lyrics.

Track #4: White Limo
Grohl growling. Sounds like the music from the opening credits roll of the movie 'School Of Rock'. For those of my friends who are new to the Alternative Rock genre or this band, please do not hear this song.

Track #5: Alandria
Rollicking, rhythmic track. Kickass, brilliant lyrics! Grohl in fine form. Arguably the best track on this album, along with Track #11.
The head shall be moved and nodded in time with the music. I promise you that. Just make sure you follow the lyrics too on this one. Just awesome.
This song is the absolute perfect definition of an ideal Alt Rock track.

Track #6: These Days
Very good song with profound lyrics, except that the chorus could have been little better.

Track #7: Back & Forth
Again, very very good song, except that the music, rhythm and lyrics on the chorus leave a lot to be desired.

Track #8: A Matter Of Time
What. A. Song !! Melodious Rock. Angst. Mature, fatalistic sound.

Track #9: Miss The Misery
Braveness percolates throughout this track. Dont miss this please.

Track #10: I Should Have Known
The lyrics on this beautiful song reflect the mood of the album. Supreme track. You should know!

Track #11: Walk
The BEST track right at the end. Absolute ripper of a song. Classic Foo Fighters. Tried and tested formula. Still sounds so blood-rushingly heady. And when Mr. Grohl goes on one of his trademark, relentless streaks towards the latter part of the track, with lyrics such as:
"Forever, whenever, I never wanna die... I never wanna leave, and never say goodbye... Forever, whenever... Forever, whenever...", you know you have heard a maestro at the top of his game, signing off with a flourish.

This is the most mature and consistent Foo Fighters album yet, for me. Consistent in terms of the indivdual excellence of each of its' tracks.
Almost all tracks work for me. Dave Grohl & Co. have consciously made an effort to give more meaning and depth to their music.
Wasting Light works on many levels. It has excellent production values. The songwriting is excellent. The album cover is excellent, visually appealing and ofcourse, meaningful as always. All in all, its a complete package. Needless to say, a must have in your collection for all you die-hard Foo Fighters fans. And a must hear for every Alternative Rock junkie.

Rating: 9/10

Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own. Not everyone will agree with this assessment. Feel free to post your comments. :)