June 21, 2016

Albert Camus and Edward Baptist

Monday, July 11, 2005

Starring in life

Jaithirth Rao
Indian Express, Monday, July 11, 2005

The very idea that there is something more than a tenuous relationship between me and the vast expanses of the solar system provides a sense of comfort. I am after all not an isolated, disconnected individual subject to “the benign indifference of the universe”. Au contraire, my personality and my destiny are linked to heavenly bodies and I am a part of a larger network. There is meaning, coherence and relatedness to my existence on this planet. He or she who subscribes to astrology cannot be a nihilist, cannot be a loner asserting that the world is absurd.

Those who are soft on ecology must find astrology comforting. We are tied into the terrestrial gossamer web and also to the web across inter-planetary spaces. In short, you don’t need to read Camus and commit suicide because you are persuaded to believe in the lonely meaninglessness of your life. You can, like the savants of antiquity, assert your linkage with the music of the spheres. Sweet indeed are the unheard sounds!

Astrology, in my opinion is a less expensive and less complicated substitute for psychotherapy….In fact, in traditional societies, the astrologer played the role of what we would today refer to as “a professional counselor”…Astrology is particularly good at helping people maintain their sense of self-worth….I find the “good-times/bad-times” theory particularly attractive because it provides a measure of hope. By definition, bad periods will end….This makes it possible to have hope through the most trying of times and cope with the most insidious of “malefic enemies” that are out there to get each one of us. In an interesting way this approach helps prevent over-confidence and foolhardiness also….I guess astrologers would argue that all glory as well as all misery is transitory.

The question that is often asked is whether astrology is compatible with a modern rational sensibility. I find this particularly humorous. After all, if we can live with electoral psephology, post-modern social psychology, the politics of victimhood and the passing fancies of numerous dietitians and health-gurus, why should astrology which provides so much comfort to people and which above all directly links us to the cosmos, be looked down upon? The ancient Chaldeans had a love for astrology and trust me the ancient Chaldeans knew a thing or two about life, this world and other worlds. They certainly knew much more than today’s TV anchors and self-appointed pundits. As a betting man, I would go with astrology any day!

The writer is chairman and CEO, Mphasis. Write to him at

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Life in limelight: Was Nafisa a victim?

Times of India, July 31, 2004

Fashion. The term itself bears the connotation of transience, of something short-lived, fleeting and therefore, something one tries to grab as much of in as little time as possible. Thursday night in Mumbai saw the life of yet another one of India's beautiful people — Nafisa Joseph— coming to an unfortunate end. Regardless of the exact reason behind the suicide, her death has again raked up the issue of coping up with life in the limelight. The suicides of Natasha Singh, Ritu Singh, Divya Bharti, southern sirens Silk Smitha, Monal (actress Simran's sister) have shown that handling name, fame and money is certainly no cakewalk.

Model Shefali Talwar says, "Fierce competition, insecurity, fairweather friends and backbiting can make you look around for companions." Getting attracted to the wrong ones and being sucked into the world of alcohol, drugs and sex is no big deal. Couple it with living in a city like Delhi, not safe for women anyway, and you have a challenge. "When I started modelling, I didn't have a car for the first 18 months. All kinds of men would try to offer me a lift home. Since I lived in Gurgaon, it was worse," says a model.

Many youngsters, too, relocate themselves to the Capital to make it big. "The challenge of going it alone in a place like Delhi where people have scant respect for women leaves you very vulnerable to the wrong kind of people," says an aspiring model. Another model adds, "Too much stuff happens to you in too little time — the money, glamour, attention, in London today for a show, in Dubai, next day for another — staying grounded is tough. Many city youngsters, eager as they are for overnight success, consent to things," says another model. Forming lobbies or cliques with choreographers, photographers and designers comes with the territory.

"It took me six months to come to terms with the insecurity. Why did the other woman get the shoot? In this short-lived career, people end up demanding and forcing themselves to deliver more than what is humanly possible," says model Meyhar Bhasin. Others like choreographer Tanya Lefebvre say what happened to Nafisa cannot be generalised. "It is a personal thing. There are so many people in this industry and things are usually not like this," she says. A former Miss India agrees, "She was way too successful to take this step."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Waiting for life to reveal itself

Times of India, June 11, 2002

Nothing worthwhile in life is sudden. As a poet said, we wait for birth. We wait for love. We wait for life to reveal its meaning to us year after year, experience by experience. Waiting is the law of life and the measure of love….Waiting is a process that teaches patience and detachment by creating a distance between our desires and circumstances. In this world of instant communication and consumerism, we believe that all our wants and longings can be fulfilled instantly. This leads to impatience and grasping. But Nature makes us wait for happenings and results.

Even everyday experiences make us realise that we cannot push nature, experiences and people and have to wait for them to reveal their deeper meanings and inner selves. Waiting brings us closer to God and Nature. The birth of a child is a good example of this. Carrying the child patiently for nine months in her womb is what makes the moment of birth so miraculous for the mother. Also, waiting can help us give birth to the vast potential that lies dormant within us, since the nobler qualities of life can only be developed over a period of time through careful nursing and stewardship.

A proclivity towards haste and quick accomplishment comes naturally to most of us. But most goals can only be achieved through determined effort and patience. In our haste to force the pace of events, we sometimes use shortcuts. When the temptation to do so seizes us, we must remember this universe, and the fact that its creation took billions of years. Nothing of lasting value can be accomplished in a frenzy. A liturgical commentary says: “God is not an impatient magician, but a gardener. He does not tug at flowers to make them grow. He knows that nothing matures by some miraculous single stroke. Everything comes to us through patient waiting”.

Waiting teaches us that not all of life can be put into the straitjacket of problem solving and overcoming difficulties. Many of our deepest human experiences, whether they be of love or relationships, remain in the realm of mystery. Waiting is a spiritual experience, sometimes of darkness and sometimes of light. In moving and finding our way and keeping hope alive, we arrive at the final truth that underlies all existence and human experience, and which is the vision of God. 

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Semiotics of Space: Flyovers as Temples of Post-modern India
Santosh Desai Times of India, June 12, 2004

Flyovers represent the ability of the present to take a leap over all the accumulated messiness of yesterday. Flyovers create space `over’ the past, large vistas of clean uncluttered space magically appears where there once was filth and squalor. The past is not destroyed, merely skipped. Flyovers are a kind of fast forward button in space – don’t see yesterday’s reality as a constraint, just fly over it….The underlying neatness of the solution…to levitate into the future, is extremely attractive…

Flyovers dramatically reorder the space they inhabit….Hitherto towering buildings appear at eye level, dwarfed into accessibility…the flyover changes the power distribution inherent in the habitat… Flyovers are part of the new hierarchy of space… the past becomes much like the `empty’ space that lies just under a flyover, a space no amount of beautification has ever managed to redeem….This is the mirror image of modernity, a kind of brooding netherland created by the present.
Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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