Sunday, February 25, 2018




This a delightfully allegorical short novel. It reminded me of Kafka’s ‘Investigations of a Dog’ in which the unnamed narrator, a dog, recounts a number of episodes from its past, to rationalize and resolve the basic questions of its existence. Here the cockroach has been made real by naming it. The fact that it is a cockroach which is the protagonist, dawns on you slowly as you read.

Laroche and his niece were by the kitchen drain. Laroche had a view of the outside through a crack – the real world outside and not just the next room.

.. But their egg cases were secure

The entire setting is surreal with a nuclear holocaust as a result of the misadventures of a country. The entire wiping out of life in the future appears a possibility. While Laroche the cockroach narrates how through time immemorial despite being under threat of annihilation and being trampled upon, they had risen again and again. Here is where the allegory gets stronger alluding to the fact that despite the conflicts between the strong and the weak, the ruler and the ruled, the Gods and the lesser mortals, humankind can emerge stronger and resilient if we could only get rid of our prejudices and irrational beliefs. I particularly liked –

“You elders don’t value yourselves. We don’t need gods, we don’t need validation from others”

“Let go of the past!! I will not allow it shape our future! When we come back, we ourselves will be the gods. Uncle, LET GO OF THE PAST.”

Ultimately the cockroach teaches us the art of adaptability and ultimate survival instincts under any conditions.

This book though a short read leaves its impact on the reader and will for a long time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


AUTUMN LEAVES – Seasons of Life


Looking back, the seed for this book was sown nearly two months ago as I was listening to Nat King Cole singing ‘Autumn leaves’. His hauntingly captivating voice captures the poignancy of loneliness and a lost love.

‘The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands, I used to hold

Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.’

The falling leaves for me symbolized the drifting away of relationships, of life itself. Autumn or the Fall has always fascinated me with its colors but at the same time, there was a despondency that it would soon come to an end. I quote a passage from my book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ –

‘I watched as the leaves fell from the tree near the balcony at her house, once green then golden yellow, brown and then on the ground. The tree stood barren and stripped; waiting for winter, to be covered white with snow, the rejuvenation in spring and glory in summer to once again the fall. The cycle continues. Isn’t it very similar to the processes we undergo during our lives? Then would winter signify the hibernation we undergo after death to be rejuvenated and born again during spring?’

While I grappled with the existential questions in my first book, in the second book ‘Darkness and Beyond’ I had explored being part of a larger process, a process of experiencing, for no knowledge of life would be complete without introspection and experiencing. The book was about all that: each chapter a slice of life, in search of a meaning that would define existence; in search of the ‘Beyond’ of this ‘Darkness’. Beyond all this was the offer of hope that there is always light at the end of darkness.

I asked two of my friends their views as to what Autumn symbolized for them. While one said it was the full attainment of all that life can offer you, with all its colors it was a ‘beautiful life’. The second view was that it represented sadness as after all this achievement the leaves would turn brown and fall to the ground, a symbol of our approaching end. Two divergent ways of looking at life itself. While the first reveled in the present moment, the second despaired at the approaching darkness.

We are not here to judge which view is correct for both represent the reality of living.
I came across a very enlightening passage from Hemingway’s book ‘A Moveable Feast’ which I have used in my book under progress ‘Autumn Leaves – Seasons of Life’

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”

This book deals with the reality of aging and loneliness; the reality of moving away from relationships and the disintegration of what was once a family unit. It also explores the renewed search for roots in the generation to follow. Here I have made a departure of projecting into the future and accepting the reality that an individual’s search for the meaning of life can never end.

That’s all I have now, for I am one-third of the way towards completion which may take me a few more months. But I thought should share with my friends the satisfaction and joy of sitting once again to write. I write because I live through the different characters I portray in my books. Ultimately, I want to present to my readers something they can identify themselves with and ask their questions and find their own answers.

So friends, bear with me for this premature posting, for it is the support and encouragement extended by you that is taking me on my journey. Thank you.

Friday, December 15, 2017



I come to Hyderabad every winter as it is pleasant and a bit cold which I like, unlike Chennai where I stay. For the past four years I have been doing this since my daughter moved over here and the best thing is, it is relaxing and I love my morning walks in the garden near the house. I do fifteen rounds and it takes me about fifty minutes to complete and then head back home.

There are regulars and there are new faces I notice though I do not stop to talk to any of them except perhaps a ‘Good Morning’ or a smile of recognition, a courtesy I extend to a select few I have had the pleasure of seeing the previous years. I know some would have wondered where I had vanished the rest of the year leaving a place vacant in the garden. One of them did venture to ask ‘What happened? Where were you?’ I replied I live in Chennai and come only at this time of the year, a seasonal bird. I know what thoughts arise when one notices an absence be it of a man or material. Common to both would be the premise that they have shifted elsewhere, the most positive thought that could occur. But something of a more serious conclusion in respect of the man or woman especially the older variety would be that they have ceased to exist. Well that exactly how my mind works also.

Though I walk alone, for I like to be with myself or listening to the music on my Ipod, I do notice things I pass – the trees, the flowers, the birds, the stray dogs, the monkeys and of course the people. Each one of them inhabit my world of walking though I choose to remain silent. Over the last four years if there is one recurring image, it is that of the old man. You may think that I am obsessed with old people and old age especially if you have read my book ‘Darkness and Beyond’. But one can never deny the fact that as you age, you inch towards thinking more of the beyond.

But other things aside, I could not help notice the vacant place on the bench which I had passed so many times during the past years. In the Chapter on ‘The Old Man and I’ I had related something similar but the setting was different – I quote

“As I walked out of the park, I turned back to see him, a lonely figure on the bench as the dusk settled. The night was slowly creeping in. That’s what life is all about – the dawn, the light of the day, the twilight and then the all-consuming darkness.”

Now here it was a different scenario – the sun was slowly rising, clearing the morning mist and the day had just begun. But to me it appeared that the darkness which had preceded had consumed something and thus the vacant place on the bench.

I write this a month after I noticed his absence and therefore I have come to the conclusion that he had passed away to the beyond. He was a regular, at least eighty years and odd, impeccably dressed and a sweater to keep away the cold. Of short stature and a crop of white hair on his head and a cleanly shaven face, he reminded me of Jiddu Krishnamurthi. He would walk slowly towards the bench dust it with his napkin and sit erect. As I passed him on my rounds he would be busy with breathing exercises and then slowly get up from the bench stretch his arms and legs stopping only when someone passed him by. He would then move on to the lawns and stand facing the sun. the last thing that I would hear as I made my way back to the gate to leave I would hear his laughter loud and clear repeated rhythmically.

This was what it was over the three years but was missing this year. Though I find others occupying that bench, for me without that old man it was a vacant place. I knew that he was a permanent resident, not a visitor like me who was just a periodical occurrence.
That day as the thought struck me that he may have passed beyond and I was slowly walking towards the gate of the garden I met the young man and his wife both regulars in the garden. While the young man would be exercising vigorously, his wife would be taking her walk. The last time I was here I saw them walking hand in hand taking their rounds in the garden. She was pregnant and I guessed in an advanced stage. So now I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see a young toddler in between them holding on to their hands and taking his first steps in the garden. I waved at them and smiled.
I quote once again the last words of the old man from my book ‘Darkness and Beyond’ –

“You remember that the last time I met you I said that the night is creeping in. I know that it will soon envelop me and take me to the ultimate darkness. I do not know what lies beyond, but since light fades into darkness and the darkness melts away with the dawn of a new morning, I believe that there does exist something beyond this darkness and that is the hope I carry with me.”

Yes, life goes on – A Vacant Place and A New Hope


Tuesday, December 12, 2017



I don’t remember when it happened. It was so subtle, strand by strand, hair by hair, and then, there was nothing. In case you are still wondering about what I am talking about, I do not blame you. It happened to me also, I did not realize what was happening. I still cannot say when I became bald, but now I know I am.

Once upon a time there was a clean-shaven youth with a crop of luxuriant hair on his head. And that was the face his wife saw before she married him. All earlier attempts to grow some hair above his upper lip were shot down by a glance of disapproval from his mother, after all how could a boy from an orthodox brahmin family grow a moustache. If he had been born in an earlier era he would have been forced to shave the front half of his head with long tresses of hair at the back rolled up to a knot ubiquitously called ‘Kudumi’ and the three horizontal lines of the sacred ash ‘Vibhuti’ spread across his forehead. Well I guess I was lucky I missed that era.

Remember the Rishis of yore who never had the time to crop the hair on their head or face as they were deeply immersed in penance. Of course, that did not stop the scantily clad Apsaras from dancing in front of them and upsetting their spiritual quests (pardon me for any blasphemy on my part, but that is not my fault for I have grown up watching all those mythological films and led to believe that was how things were in the realm of the Gods, Devas, Rishis and the Kings who always seemed to hold court to the swaying of the dancing girls). And then there were the monks with not a hair on their heads also on a spiritual quest. I then understood that the quest for spiritual enlightenment was all about hair, with or without.
There was a time when premature baldness was the subject of ridicule until a smart bald man came up with the catch phrase ‘Bald is Beautiful’. Those were the days when ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ was being aired on the television. While this was catching on I came upon an article about five years ago which reaffirmed my belief that baldness is not only beautiful but also sexy (you can very well imagine why). I quote the first few lines and that was enough and I did not proceed further for fear of finding something to the contrary –

“Think of Bruce Willis, Andre Agassi or Michael Jordan, and you’ve got three famously strong, masculine men with plenty of female fans. They also have something else in common: they’re bald.

It’s often said that bald men are more virile. The popular theory is that they have higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, which makes them more masculine and increases their sex drive, but they lose their hair at a younger age than average as a result. The truth, though, is a little more complex.”
Since it said the truth was a little more complex I did not proceed further. I did no further research and since that day I have had long conversations with my beard while gently caressing my pate late into the night.

But of late when I go out shopping, to movies, to parties or just a stroll, I find Rishis and Monks (with finely chiseled French Beards) once again, and of course the Apsaras are there.

It all happened one fine (?) day ten years ago when I was in Mumbai. I have always been proud of my beard, so I thought keeping him good shape would contribute to my well being both physically and mentally (yes, I would keep worrying when the remaining strands on my head would disappear). I bought myself a beard trimmer and proceeded to ensure that he had a decent and uniform growth (nothing like the Rishis whose beards looked unkempt and unwashed). Well I did succeed for he looked real smart – uniform and the right length as desired by me. Happy that the trimmer had done a fine job I cleaned it by brushing off the remaining strands of hair on it and kept it aside. It was only when I looked in the mirror to admire my well groomed facial hair that I noticed the uneven growth of hair on my head (at that time I did have some noticeable growth on the sides and the back of my head: I still do, but to a much lesser extent). To set this right I picked up the trimmer and ran it through those portions I felt were not uniform. After the first run I noticed to my horror that there was a patch of ‘no hair’. In my hurry I had forgotten to clip back the depth adjustment cutter on the trimmer. I now had no option but to run the trimmer as it was, through the remaining hair on my head. And that was when I first became completely bald. Of course, when I came out of the bathroom, my wife had a curious look on her face which did not need any words to translate “So where has all the hair on the head gone?”

You see I had long ago made a compromise in my spiritual quest (Whisky or Old Monk) and took the mid-path to realization by becoming half a Rishi and half a Monk. So, what would you call me now – Rishimon or Monkrish? I wouldn’t mind for now I am at spiritually elevated levels only three pegs down.

Friday, December 8, 2017



I seek the secrets of the soul,
From within the depths of the ocean,
The pearl within the oyster,
Emerging headlong through the tunnel
Into the light, from the womb,
The first cry, the first sigh of deliverance,
And the umbilical separation,
Freed into a world of conflicting emotions,
To find its way, through the chaos,
Through this labyrinth of relationships,
To grow, live, to ultimate decay and deliverance,

But the ghost it continues to stay.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017



I seek the secrets of the soul,
From the secrets of her heart,
Where lie the frozen moments of the past,
Long buried and forgotten, frightened,
To be consumed in the heat of my desire,
The glacier moves to warmer climes,
To melt and merge with the wide expanse,
Giving form to rising tides,
As I wait to be swept away,
To far off shores, to be alone,
With those moments long forgotten,

The flame still burning in my heart.

Thursday, August 17, 2017



In the preface to the book the author says “To tell the truth, I am a fledgling seeker of Truth and my Understanding, and articulation, of the concepts of spirituality could well be severely wanting. However, I have gone ahead guided by my devotion to Lord Krishna and have been able to complete this book”.

This is a small book of 95 pages (Kindle edition) but one which packs within it the wisdom culled out from the Hindu scriptures – The Bhagavad Gita for the major portion. The author has tried to condense the essence of the Holy book of Hinduism in Ten Sutras or a collection of aphorisms in the form a condensed manual or text. It is not that the author is found wanting like he has said in the Preface to the book, for it is not an easy task to interpret the Gita or any Hindu scripture in a such a shortened form nor can they be interpreted in a general way. Every individual finds his own interpretation and meaning and in this one can find shades of the author’s own beliefs regarding the conduct of one’s life and the search for the truth. We should laud the author’s sincere efforts to make it as intelligible to the layman or people who have not had the opportunity or the inclination to go through the wisdom contained within these great works of Hindu Philosophy.

There is not much of a storyline except for the fact that a despondent Vishal meets the Guru Vishnu the epitome of wisdom and who in a series of meetings at different locations in Bangalore pulls Vishal out of the rut in which he had fallen into and teaches him the way to a better and more fruitful life. One can note that the author has chosen to name the Guru as Vishnu, a reminder of Lord Krishna and in my own interpretation the name Vishal would signify and embrace within it, the whole of mankind.

I like one quote from in the book which has been mentioned by the author – James Thurber’s “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness”.

There many passages of the author in the book which I have highlighted on my Kindle for ready reference and as a source of inspiration. I can appreciate the efforts of the author in putting down these Ten Sutras of wisdom for a great life and the passion with which this has been written. Whether everyone agrees with some of the interpretations this is a must-read book and does not take much time to read it. I would classify this under the category of self-help books. Expecting more such snippets of wisdom from the author.