Picked it up at Crossword last weekend. A couple of days back a colleague noticed the book in my hand and out of that intestine-wobbling curiosity that lies bundled inside every avid reader, he grabbed it and read the title. ‘Oh Man, how can you call it like this. This is ridiculous, this terming it a delusion’, he squabbled nervously and meekly handed the book back to me.

He had written off the book even before trying to know what is written in it. And this is precisely what Richard Dawkins calls as delusion in the book.

The metaphorical or pantheistic God… is light years away from the interventionist, miracle-wreaking, thought-reading, sin-punishing, prayer answering God of the Bible, of priests, mullahs and rabbis, and of ordinary language.

And also quotes the ever-effervescent Douglas Adams, on how humans are being discouraged from questioning any form of religious dogmatism.

Here’s an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!

I’m still reading the book, and for all I can say – I’m enjoying it. As Jax noted in his review,

Irrespective of your religious belief, I think this is a great stimulating book that every person ought to read. I absolutely loved it.

Agree completely. If one thinks it blasphemy to open his mind to such objective and true thoughts as propounded in the book, then he’s exactly the person Dawkins is targeting – the one hallucinating with the God delusion.


Even as she lay cuddled with a coo in my arms, I knew Lizzy was already an individual in every sense of the word, and I would have to learn to let go of her someday, albeit painstakingly, although she was born of me. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait for my Lizzy to grow up, so one day as a teenage girl she would scream at me that I’m being too old fashioned, and then years later we would talk head to head like how elderly women do.

I packed a bag with diapers, towels, two bottles – one with warm water and one with milk, dressed up Lizzie in what I considered her favorite white gown and drove downtown to grab some luxury clothing for her and a nice dinner together. ‘The Tavern’ was the latest happening place in town. And I was not to be disappointed. I felt Lizzie would love visiting that place when she was grownup, and promised her we would visit The Tavern every month.

I tried some clothes on her, and she looked too gorgeous for my own eyes to fathom. There was jubilance in her little smile and her wide open eyes rolled around the enormous structure of the mall. I walked around the mall so she would see everything her eyes fell upon and showed her the Tavern mascots in the ground floor welcoming the visitors. There was excitement all around, and Lizzie was enjoying herself. And neither of us knew we would be dead before dawn.

The last thing I remembered before losing conscious was a blasting noise, and a grip of heat that permeated my legs as the floor below cracked open pulling me down with it. I fastened my grip on Lizzie not wanting to let go of her on whatever it was that was about to befall us. Then there was a deafening rumble, followed by a blackout silence.

I opened my eyes not knowing how long had past. I couldn’t move my arms or legs, or felt any pain. There was darkness and dirt all around, and the place smelt a damp stench of faeces and urine. I couldn’t hear any voices, although I was hoping some rescuers would soon remove the debris over me and pull me onto a stretcher and place a smiling Lizzie near me. And suddenly that reminded me of Lizzie and I started rolling my eyes in panic trying to locate her amid the deathly chaos around me.

I tilted my face to look for her and a pain seared through my neck and back. I screamed. But the darkness swallowed my voice, and I desperately shook my head trying to look around for Lizzie. Barely two feet from me, I saw a baby smeared with blood and dirt and her face distorted beyond recognition. If at all anyone could recognize her, it was me.

I’ve cried many times before, but when I cried that moment, it was different. There were no tears, no sobs or sniffles, no nothing. There were sprinkles of water that escaped through the debris and fell on my damp face. Some of it diluted the blood on Lizzie’s face that looked as if she were bathing in a rain of blood.

I felt sleepy. I closed my eyes as a rapidly engulfing peace took over me and whatever was left of me began ebbing itself out. I felt I was standing on a long stretch of green pasture fondling Lizzie in my arms and showing her a group of white flamingos dancing under the bright sunlight. Lizzie, in her white gown, was laughing the way only she could. I tugged her close to me and kissed her, knowing nothing could ever try to separate us.

We continue to be together, though not exactly the way I thought it would all be. There’s peace here, and fun. And I don’t feel sad for what has happened. If anything, I’m only sad for what has not happened – a teenage girl screaming at her mom that she’s being too old fashioned.

This doesn’t happen often, but I’ve been held to the ground with a tri-tag. DG, Amrita and Tanay have all tagged me and I’m supposed to blow my own trumpet with eight random facts about myself and tag eight other unsuspecting victims in the process. So, here are my eight nothings.

1. I’m lazy to the core. But I tend to get hyperactive to hide the fact that I’m lazy.

2. I eat a lot. Especially junk food. A “Sweets at my desk” email that someone at my workplace sends out to the rest of the team always has a post-script “FCFS, before Kishore finishes it.” My 66 kilo weight or my stature is no indication of how much I eat. But oh, I eat a lot.

3. I have a bad brain. And an awkward memory. I can more-or-less-precisely remember what I was doing this day last year, the previous year. And with a little effort, the previous-previous-year too. But I forgot to pay my credit card bills, which was due yesterday. And I was supposed to have taken a conference call last night, and I should have sent a mail to the team this morning, and…

4. At my workplace, I use the word ‘Amazing’ so much, that people have begun to associate the word with me just as they associate the morning with a sun rise. Once, A, replied to some mail from E with a single word “Amazing”. E replied back to A, “Kishore, what are you doing at A’s desk?”. See what I mean? If that is not weird enough, then take this – I hardly ever use that word outside of my workplace. Amazing, right?

5. I can watch Cartoon Network all day long (except when there is a cricket match on TV).

6. I love Dilbert and Calvin and Hobbes. My work cubicle is filled with Dilbert cartoon strips and I have a Vista Gadget on my work PC which shows a random C&B strip when clicked.

7. I love creeping people out. And this one might just do that – I was born with a full grown tooth!

8. Now that I’ve probably creeped you out, I’m back to being my lazy self and don’t know what to write for the eighth point.

Tag time now. I tag Jax, Mahen, Arunima, Neels, Shub, Vidya, Sanny, Prat.

The monsoon rain is dashing outside in this late night hour, as I sit beside a thick volume of The Shadow of the Wind turned to page 143 and gazing at the line I just finished reading.

Everything on that page spoke of another time: the strokes that depended on the ink-pot, the words scratched on the thick paper by the tip of the nib, the rugged feel of the paper.

Much like what the lines of fiction do to me – speak of another time and another space, forming such mental imageries as if you were being transported through time into that world – the world that fiction is made of. And every time I raise my head from the tinted pages of a book, I feel suddenly ejected from the hallucination of those imageries into the blinding pace of the real world.

Fiction tends to touch you, at times in strange ways. There are times when I’m surprised how much a character resembles me in his thoughts, as if I were actually him. Like Yambo (the protagonist in Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana) did.

It was one such monsoon morning, many years back. I was staring out at the lashing rain and the chill wind seeping in with a whooshing sound between the edges of the window, until I began rummaging the non-existent bookshelves in my then home, dusting worm-eaten editions of what appeared to be Tinkle, Gokulam, Champak, Chandamama and Misha torn beyond recognition. A quick trip down memory lane reading the words from the books which bore no interest for my then grownup mind, made me go through the erstwhile thought processes of my preceding years; the times when Suppandi and Shikari Shambu held my rapt attention, and the talking animals of Champakvan gave an unfailing smirk.

At the beginning of the novel The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Yambo loses his episodic memory due to a stroke and can remember everything he has ever read, but does not remember his family, his past, or even his own name. Yambo goes to his childhood home, and searches through old newspapers, books, magazines and comic books to see if he can rediscover his lost past.

I noticed Gokulam’s cartoons of classroom satire that did to me then, what Dilbert cartoon does to me today. Perhaps that’s how I developed a liking for corporate satire, and the cartoon adorned walls of my work cubicle. Misha was my favorite, that I carried with me to school, reading during the long commutation. Not much has changed even now; from carrying a book with me to work to the hour-long commute, the patterns of childhood still stick on.

Somewhere between the lines of fiction lie the roots of what has become of you today. Yambo is unsuccessful in regaining past memories, though he relives the story of his generation from the books in his childhood home. But remembering is only a process and not the destination. As Umberto Eco deliciously puts it,

Everything is so much involved in and is so much a process of its opposite that, as it is almost fair to call death a process of life and life a process of death, so it is to call memory a process of forgetting and forgetting a process of remembering.

Fiction has a liberating effect. I seek refuge in fiction, when reality becomes a bit difficult to handle. Like an umbrella lets you enjoy the monsoon, even as it shelters you all the while.

This week’s Monday morning smiles theme is Work-life. Some of those typical stuff that the work-life is composed of – where the trivial line between work and life is virtually non-existent; the “I work, therfore I live” generation.

So there was this guy who was struck by love. I mean, so really really struck that it blew his head off his shoulders and placed a glowing Halloween pumpkin in its place. And that was why I was not surprised to find this line of utter resignation on his whiteboard.

Love is all about a give-and-take. You give, I take.

Some people just love using abbreviations. Like Dilbert says, “The Data bits are flexed through a collectimizer which strips the flowgate arrays and virtual message elements”, when he actually wants to say “I don’t know”, some people try using too many abbreviations thinking it makes them sound smarter. Blame peer competition. One such smartass sends me a mail.

PFA the HDD of EDS with TDD and UT. After GR, please add it to VSS and update VSTS.

Phew. You figure.

People love writing doses of wisdom on their whiteboard, typically famous quotations et.al. For the thing that I’m made of, I create my own quotes of mind blowing wisdom. And here’s what I just wrote on my whiteboard.

I wake up early in the morning, and sleep at night.

Amazing, right?

How would you feel if all the natural sights and sounds of your external world become mysterious and overloaded for your little mind to decipher? Or your skin feels a pang of irritation when a loved one tries to hug you? Or you are not sure if you have to feel happy or sad when your teacher tells you have passed an exam? This, in short, is the world of Autism.

Mark Haddon, in his award-winning debut The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, introduces us to the mind of an autistic child, through his protagonist Christopher Boone – a 15 year old autistic child. For Christopher, the world outside is full of chaos and symbols that convey special meanings.

He studies in a school for Children with Special Needs where his teacher Siobhan teaches him how to understand the world, the facial expressions of people with cartoons and drawings. Christopher is good at maths, doesn’t like the colors yellow and brown, and cannot stand if someone touches him. His parents have a unique method of hugging him – they spread their hands like a fan and let him touch their fingertips.

The story begins when Christopher finds a neighborhood dog killed and decides to find out who killed the dog and write a book about it. Driven by his favorite book The Hound of the Baskervilles he begins assimilating clues and deciphering them. His unique, emotionless mind is so disconnected from the world we are used to, that he can only think one way – Logical.

I was frightened in two ways. And one way was being far away from a place I was used to, and the other was being frightened of being near where father lived… and they were in inverse proportion… so that the total fear remained constant as I got farther away from home and further away from father…

He doesn’t understand what a friendship or marriage is – except how the dictionary describes them – and would do whatever it takes to find who killed the dog; and in the process pushes himself into an adventure that would reveal secrets of his own life and that of his parents.

Haddon’s experience in working with autistic children has certainly enabled him capture the innermost thoughts of the child very lucidly. Right through the story one can find Christopher at once both frightened and perseverant – typical of an autistic child. He studies simple things around him – like the railway map, roadside hoardings, food menu, people using an ATM, their facial expressions – and uses maths to identify patterns that could help him understand the world around him. He relates people’s faces to the drawings Siobhan shows him in school and tries to understand when a person is happy or sad.

And this is how I recognize someone if I don’t know who they are… I do a Search through my memories to see if I have met him before… If people say things which don’t make sense like “See you later alligator”, I do a Search and see if I have heard someone say this before.
And with these patterns he embarks on a journey that would change his life forever.

Haddon uses simple sentences to narrate the entire story – a book of 272 pages, double spaced, with drawings and patterns interspersed, one you can finish reading in one sitting; making you feel as if it were actually written by Christopher Boone himself. Every little thought expressed gives you an insight into how an autistic mind thinks, which is both educative and shockingly revealing. It is often the lack of knowledge that hinders the natural existence of a person with autism. We are so used to the natural rhythms of our sensory impulses, that an understanding of this rare other side is sure to make you feel empathic towards those suffering from autism.

The story makes you genuinely feel for the child, be it his autistic inhibitions or his sense of unbelievable perseverance. And by the time you read his last lines, you are bound to be taken over by a gush of emotions to give the little kid a tight hug. Or, just spread your hands like a fan and let him touch your fingertips.

Unpoem: Words


On days you try to do something and end up doing nothing. But then, isn’t doing nothing also a kind of doing something? Like the Oracle says in The Matrix, isn’t not making a choice also a choice? So I set out to write a poem and end up writing an unpoem. This is not a poem, these are just words.

This is not a poem
These are just words
That spilled over
One morning
When thoughts ran fast
And slipped down
The slippery cordons
Of untold dreams.

And words do spill
Sneaking away
Through spaces and periods
While you are busy
Those slipping thoughts
Sticking together
Falling alphabets.

What are words after all –
But dreams
Carved in Your language?
And so are these,
Those tiny fragments
Of the stuff
Your dreams are made off.

This is not a poem
These are just words
That spilled over.