Tuesday, September 6, 2011


A friend sent me the link to a video today that reminded me of Amin Maalouf’s In The Name of Identity.

Maalouf keeps reiterating that we are not born but rather made - and that we make and remake ourselves - in relation to the world in which we live and the choices that it presents to us. It is a point that bears repeating, he says, because a failure to recognize the fluidity, multiplicity and malleability of identity is not only misguided but also dangerous. The danger is twofold. First, a failure to recognize the complexity, the multi-dimensionality of the Other makes their dehumanization easier. Second, imposing on the Other a rigid, singular (and usually inferior) identity will provoke them, in anger and defiance, to pick up arms to ‘assert their identity.’ This, he says, is how ordinary men are “transformed into butchers.”

Amin Maalouf’s In The Name Of Identity, subtitled Violence And The Need To Belong has been by translated from French into English by Barbara Bray and published by Penguin Books.

After seeing the video, I looked up Moira Kelly (no, not the actress). To read more about her, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moira_Kelly_(humanitarian)

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Chanced upon Destino today. After watching the six and a half minute movie, I dug a bit and discovered an interesting story. Wikipedia says, "Destino is an animated short film released in 2003 by The Walt Disney Company. Destino is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, fifty eight years before its eventual completion. The project was a collaboration between American animator Walt Disney and Spanish painter Salvador Dali, and features music written by Mexican songwriter Armando Dominguez and performed by Dora Luz. It was included in the Animation Show of Shows in 2003." Please double-click the image to go full-screen.

Director: Dominique Monfery
Producers: Baker Bloodworth & Roy E Disney
Written by: Salvador Dali, John Hench & Donald W Ernst
Music: Armando Dominguez
Music adaptation: Michael Starobin
Editor: Jessica Ambinder-Rojas
Studio: Disney Studios France
Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures

Monday, July 18, 2011


Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart. (Murakami). This two-decade old song and its new rendering did exactly that.

Lyrics: Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri
Music: Ousepachan
Film: Pookalam Varavayi (1991)
Rendered by Neha Nair with Yakzan, Rex Vijayan, Sreenath Bhasi, Tao and Ben Sam for Rosebowl. Director: Sumesh Lal. Director of Photography: Vipin Chandran. Camera: Sujith, Pradeesh. Editor: Jobin Sebastian & Team. Sound Design: Tennyson. Design: Suresh. Lights: Cameo.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Are We So Full Of Ourselves?

Khalil Gibran
I emailed a few lines of Khalil Gibran to a friend today. Simply because his daughter (thankfully) has a mind of her own. And the father can't stand it. The father, who is the wise man when it comes to handling other people's problems - crystal clear, reasonable, sensible, evolved, in sync with the times and the epitome of the kind of balance even Gods might crave for. Why do parents have to make asses of themselves when it comes to their own children? Why do they make the same mistake over and over again? Why can't they find new ones? I know my friend is too full of himself to let wisdom come anywhere near him right now. But he's always extolled Khalil Gibran to high heaven - come to think of it, that has always been after a couple of drinks...

"Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable." 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It was just about a year ago that I discovered a band that has been in existence for the last eighteen years - Apocalyptica. It was a search for cellists that led me to these amazing artists who, for me, added fascinating dimensions to the cello and lead me to explore genres like progressive and neo-classical metal. The title of their compilations sums up what they have done: A Decade of Reinventing the Cello.
A band from Helsinki, Finland, Apocalyptica was formed in 1993 when four cellistsEicca ToppinenPaavo LötjönenMax Lilja and Antero Manninen gathered to play Metallica covers at Sibelius Academy. Today, in addition to Eicca and Paavo, the band features Perttu Kivilaakso and Mikko Sirén. All of them play the cello; Mikko also plays the drums.
Across the years, they have released seven albums, two compliations and over a dozen singles. Wiki says they have sold over four million albums to date.
Here are two of my many favorites. The first, Quutamo, performed at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005. And the second, Apocalyptica's version of that old Metallica classic, Nothing Else Matters.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Words, Words, Words.

John Naughton's article titled Now anyone can 'write' a book. First find some words... was published by guardian.co.uk yesterday. The story is all about the Kindle opening up publishing to the masses, which is creating a deluge of e-books, many of which are cut-and-paste jobs or rehashes of content published before.

Understandably, all the people in the world who even remotely suspect that they have a book lurking somewhere inside of them have taken to writing thanks to the Kindle platform, with its almost zero cost publishing option and the total absence of middlemen, including an editor! With the sale of Amazon's e-books overtaking printed ones, it's rapidly becoming a free-for-all.

Here's an excerpt from the article. "It's only when one peruses the cornucopia of literary productions available on the Kindle store that one detects the first scent of rodent. One of the most prolific self-publishers on the site is Manuel Ortiz Braschi. When I last checked he had edited, authored or co-authored no fewer than 3,255 ebooks. Mr Braschi is clearly a man of Herculean energy and wide learning, who ranges effortlessly from How to Become a Lethal Weapon in Two Weeks (£1.40) to Herbs 101: How to Plant, Grow & Cook with Natural Herbs (£0.70) while taking in Potty Training! The Ultimate Potty Training Guide! (£0.69). Having inspected Mr Braschi's The Miracle of Vinegar: 65 Tried and Tested Uses For Health and Home! (which, at £0.69, works out at about 30p per screenful of text), I can testify that he is no Delia Smith. But at least he appears to write – or at any rate compile – his own stuff. In that respect, he represents the quality end of the Kindle self-publishing business... Kindle self-publishing, in other words, is metamorphosing into a new kind of lucrative spam. The pollution of a potentially interesting and valuable space in this way is depressing enough. But why is Amazon allowing it to go on? Could the fact that it takes a 30% slice of every transaction have anything to do with it? I only ask."

On a personal note, leaving aside the economics of who's making money and who's not, the world has always rejected fly-by-night writers and recognized the good ones - even if it be after their time. This process, this balance, if one may say so, is achieved by the readers of the world. Now, take a look at what the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has to say in their soon-to-be-updated 2007 survey To Read Or Not To Read: A Question Of National Consequence"There is a historical decline in voluntary reading rates among teenagers and young adults; a gradual worsening of reading skills among older teens; and declining proficiency in adult readers."

Literary reading is in dramatic decline, with the steepest rate of decline - 40 percent - occurring in the youngest age groups (34% in the UK). They may surf the web, or the read the occasional newspaper, but they do not read books - fiction or non-fiction.

The rate of decline is increasing and according to the survey, has more than tripled in the last decade. According to the NEA Chairman, "this report documents a national crisis. Reading develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life. The decline in reading among every segment of the adult population reflect a general collapse in advanced literacy. To lose this human capacity - and all the diverse benefits it foresters - impoverishes both cultural and civic life."

Now, this is something to be worried about - a world where there is an abysmal fall in reading and a meteoric rise in publishing. One wonders if the balance will be easy to achieve.