Well. I'm back.

The past few days have been unusual, but, then again with the changing weather, festivity and frequent weird little occurrences, the line between the bizarre and the mundane seems to have faded away.

Today I have poem to offer. Usually my poems are nonsensical or flippantly breezy but yesterday what I wrote was something new to me. It's serious poem. It sort of has a message. Really.

Well the process took considerably more time than a nonsense verse. After getting some inspiration, ideation took a few days, research took about a day and I had to give an entire Sunday for writing. In short, this had been the focal point of all my thoughts for more or less a week. Read the poem first, explanations and the epilogue will follow.

Bodhisattva

The engine of the Austin
Rumbled as it went along.
There was a fervid bustle outside,
But the car's passengers had not spoken for long.

'Please', a sudden voice broke the stillness
'Let me take your place.'
There was pleading in his voice,
but no eagerness in his face.

Quảng Đức looked up,
his features somewhat taut.
'Never do something for which you are not inclined
And for this,dear - you are not.'

His countenance became gentle once more
and he placed a hand on his disciple's cheek.
He smiled comfortingly and whispered -
'This path may not be what you seek.'

The disciple held back tears
then looked out the rolled up glass.
Their destination was reached.
The moment had come at last.

Quảng Đức disembarked unhurriedly
He took it as any other day.
A goal in sight,
A role to play.

His disciples meanwhile prepared everything.
Readied the loudspeaker; readied the seat;
readied the banners and themselves
for they were about to see.

With the loudspeaker in hand,
Đức's followers spoke about their people.
About the violence and injustice they faced in Diem's rule,
about the downtrodden and the feeble.

Around Đức, a ring of men
formed an impenetrable chain.
pedestrians and policemen alike,
stopped to watch on the busy Saigon lane.

Quảng Đức, sat in the centre.
He breathed placidity and calm.
telling the beads of the rosary,
he signalled that there was no cause for alarm.

'A homage to Buddha' were his final words
As he closed his eyes for the final time.
From a five gallon gasoline tank, a disciple
poured all the contents over his mentor sublime.

Screams erupted from the distance,
but nobody moved an inch
as Quảng Đức struck a match and then
dropped it on his lap without a flinch.

The tiny flame magnified within moments
into a blaze engulfing Đức
Who sat with his eyes closed
projectng a composed and contented look.



There were cries from here and there.
Wailings of anger and protest.
Policemen tried to clear the barricade
of people unmidful of arrest.

The authorities could not intervene
to save the life of this priest
who sat still, peacefully, impassively
even as his destroyer's crest increased.

All those bearing witness, prostrated
before the dying man
Who was, moment by moment, breathing life
into the hopes of all those oppressed in the land.

The monk's faced charred
And the trunk began to blacken.
The body was reduced to cinders
Finally he had died - his posture slackened.

The glowing tower of ashes
gently toppled forward.
A pupil rushed to cover the corpse with a yellow robe.
As thick smoke wandered skyward.

The bystanders watched the clergy
winding up the procession.
They stood still, too shocked
to cry, to move, to show expression.

Meanwhile, sparks of revolt
had been planted far and wide.
Like cracks spreading fast in glass,
the existing rule was crumbling from inside.

That evening as Saigon's mourning residents
were about to turn in for a restful sleep,
They saw a doleful vision amidst the setting sun -
they claimed to see a vision of the Buddha weep.




The first photo you saw is of Thích Quảng Đức, taken by journalist Malcolm Browne, similar to the World Press Photograph of the year 1963(it's copyright and a lot more graphic). That is what inspired me (obviously), and in part so did one of Mystique's posts.

Diem's rule came to an end shortly, with an army coup toppling and killing Diệm that November. The self-immolation is widely seen as the turning point of the Vietnamese Buddhist crisis which led to the change in regime.

Quảng Đức's body was recremated and it was found that his heart did not burn. It was taken to be a symbol of compassion and he was regarded as a bodhisattva (leading an enlightened existence).

The context of the final stanza was so eerie that it made my skin prickly with goosebumps.

Finally.
It may not be my best poem, I may not have touched poetic excellence, but there's something about this piece which makes me proud I wrote it.

Patriots

We were sitting in class the other day. The Chemistry teacher was explaining the working principle of the electrochemical cell to a half asleep class. I looked at my watch - 9:30 which meant there were still about forty minutes left for the class to get over. The previous night had been spent by me in an insomniac state, looking out of the window, not particularly thinking about anything - just admiring the numerous constellations in the Prussian blue sky. I was gonna miss doing this, with winter and smoky Diwali (the festival of lights asthma inducing firecrackers) approaching hand in hand, this passtime was going to die only to revived next year.

Back to the point then, well, last night's lack of shuteye left me very groggy and certainly in no condition to learn about salt bridges (hey! i remembered that). The dullness of it all was reaching a mute overbearing crescendo when I heard the Indian anthem floating up from the school grounds upto the second floor classroom where I sat. The junior school assembly was evidently coming to a close.

Its effect on me was stirring: a song breaking the insufferable monotony; sentiments of pride subduing feelings of stark weariness; like steaming tomato soup in December.

Standing up for the national anthem when you were being taught was a complete no-no for seniors. It lead to disturbances, was the popular consensus among teachers. For an ENTIRE minute (about 52 seconds). imagine that. No, it just wouldn't do.
In ninth, I heard of a teacher who punished an entire class due to this abominable crime (which I'm sure took considerably more time than 52 seconds).

I looked around. The class was pretty much the same, really. No one else looked as awake as I was (not even the teacher for that matter). Nobody was standing up, as gesture of respect. Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka, Jaya He Bharata Bhagya Vidhata
(thou art the ruler of the minds of all people; Thy name rouses the hearts of ...).

Neither was I.

In a clumsy manner, I raised myself up. And stood looking at the board as if it fascinated me. The teacher was looking at me, I could feel her eyes glaring at my out-of-place frame. I tried to block it out. Jaya, jaya, jaya, jaya he! (Victory, victory, victory, victory to thee !)...Culmination. My body gradually became less taut. I looked down at the teacher. She had an incredulous explanation-demanding look on her face. 'Uh - board' I said, pointing at my eyes. It was lame, and I knew as soon as I had said it. I was sitting just 3 benches from the front, there was no need really to stand up, but what made it even more awkward for me was that there was nothing on the board worth looking at. Just a force-distribution-diagram from the previous physics class. I looked weakly at the teacher.

'Sit down' she said finally after what was a pregnant pause. I think I noted a grin on the corners of her pursed lips, but only momentarily.

I sat down feeling numbly awkward and proud at the same time.


Spinoff

Well, I got 'em. I can't really say I'm pleased with myself about the results. Sure, I surprised myself with the Psychology and Biology results, not exactly expecting the marks I so lavishly received; but Chem turned out to be a big spoiler.Well my marks are as follows (promise me that you won't judge me from now on, on the basis of my scorecard) :

1. Chem (34/70) (average or something)
2. Bio (52.5/70) - 75% , 4th in class
3. Eng (76/90) - 84% , 2nd in class
4. Psy (66/70) - 94% , !st in class
5. Phy - absent. Retest due sometime in November.

When I read what I've written, it's hard not to smile seeing that I've also written down the rank in each subject ('cept chem, I didn't have the heart to find out where I stood). Reminds me of something I heard just as soon as all the papers had been distributed - Someone from another class came to ours and asked one of my friends, 'Yaar, whats you're rank in the class ?'.My friend eyed him dubiously. 'Rank ? Who finds that out nowadays ?? That held good only till about the third grade. In 11th and 12th we just care whether we've passed or failed.', he laughed, 'I passed.'

Well that's all from here, you take care now.

In the eye of the storm

The worst kind of time of year is here again... The awkward period of strangely calm unrest between giving exams and getting them back. The air is thick with almost tangible levels of anxiety, bitterness and dread.
Let it end already, I'm going mad jus thinking about it...Come Monday, I'll know my result.

Entury

WELL, Well, well. We meet at last. It feels like ages since I've posted (save for my last teeny little post), and now since my exams are (finally) over, I think I'll make posting more of a habit.

Well, with the week long limber down period granted rather generously by the school, I think I've managed to utilize it in the most improvident manner possible. Sleeping till about 1 o'clock in the afternoon , eating fried stuff for every meal, not walking the dog and sitting in front of the comp. the whole day playing internet contests.
Which is not to say I've not done productive stuff - I've seen some rather awesome short films on youtube. I made a rather neat little list of the many films I saw and ranked them as follows :

1. The Insane
2. Hello stranger
3. Black button
4. Meeting girls
5. Spin
6. Offside
7. Fact checkers unit
8. Knock knock
9. Our Time Is Up
10. Rent-A-Person


Also, on the day the tests got over I shot into a reading jag, cosseting myself by reading three of Wodehouse's finest - Right ho, Jeeves, Piccadilly Jim and Something Fresh under 24 hours. I would have read more, but as Safary put it in TZP, "the words had started dancing" in front of my eyes - and did not exactly relish the idea of having to wear glasses.

One rather novel thing I tried out day before yesterday was learning how to bake. It started as I was sitting on the couch watching 'the foodie' on TV. The fat-guy-whose-name-I-don't-remember-and-am-too-lazy-to-find-out started saying baking cookies was the easiest thing to do, if you had enough time on your hands. I had plenty, so I jotted down the recipe and instructions which seemed simple enough at first.

I got all the required ingredients and set of to make it. With the dough having reached the desired consistency, I set to preheat the oven and butter the baking tray. I laid out little dumplings of chocolate-chip cookie dough on the tray, put it in and waited...
In a word, the first batch was a damned debacle. The cookies got burnt to the core, I burnt my right hand at two places and my left at three, and when I offered the baked goods to my grandmother, she told me plainly that they were the worst things she'd ever had the misfortune of consuming. Sinister words, I must admit but I wasn't discouraged because A) I was just getting started, and B) there was still three-fourths of the dough left in the container.

The period of time between the first two batches led me to discover a pair of baking gloves, ensuring no more burnt fingers.
The second batch was, I must say, rather awesome. It was edible, almost unburnt and smelt lovely. My gran took back her words and ate two or three, inspite of her having diabetes. The rest of the family followed in eating the cookies and showering adulations on the baker.

Well, there ends the account of my cookie baking venture. I think I'll conclude with something that I like and goes rather well with the exam fever (not the sort of fever that's a contagious excitement, like disco fever; but the sort of fever which makes you sick and wanna barf). Well anyway, here are some funny pictures collected from all over the net. Enjoy







G'day to you now

Not Procrastinating. Honest

Tomorrow, Tomorrow for sure.