Paying for experience

Really like this story. We often forget that what we are now is an accumulation of experiences over years of successful endeavors and failed attempts.

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“But, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

Picasso and Brigitte Bardot, from Getty Images, via The Telegraph

h/t David Airey

After twenty years

Used to be one of my favorite short stories and have long since forgotten. I guess when one grows and tries to gather meaning from books and shows, this somehow subtly stood apart. Written in plain words with no complex plots. A story that reminds one of long lost friends and responsibilities with an exquisite undertone of genius. Rather hard to explain now but was distinctly powerful in conveying morality to a little kid once. Enough talk, here you go.

http://www.classicreader.com/book/1745/1/

Magic Flute

Yesterday, had the privilege of attending an opera, one by the greatest composers of all time, Wolfgang, his last. It was beautiful, the setting, the music and the execution. Delightful. Made me get out of my seat again and again for I couldn’t stay still in the ecstasy of the experience. The story in itself is woven around a couple in love, and their eventual journey to overcome the ordeals of a union, to face their family, to conquer death together. Enlightened and united, they are initiated into the temple of wisdom, ruled over by Osiris and Isis. Here’s a short synopsis.

I knew about the act that involved an Aria by the Queen of the night, even before I went in. I was looking forward to it and wasn’t disappointed. It enraptures one and leaves you speechless in its highest tempo and emotions conveyed.


The Queen is persuading her daughter to not join her mortal enemy Sarastro or fall in love with prince Tamino who has become part of Sarastro’s wisdom clan. A translation of the conversation by the Queen is below.

The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair flame about me!
If Sarastro does not through you feel
The pain of death,
Then you will be my daughter nevermore.
Disowned may you be forever,
Abandoned may you be forever,
Destroyed be forever
All the bonds of nature,
If not through you
Sarastro becomes pale! (as death)
Hear, Gods of Revenge,
Hear a mother’s oath!

Sublime. Such intensity and passion in music. And the F’s flailing about and the Queen delivering her emotion with depth that only an opera well written can showcase.

A heart bulges with emotions, of something familiar, with music scales rising and falling, a story one can understand, an aspiration binds two far away souls to connect and conquer even death on the quest for wisdom. I wish a magic flute would present itself to me, to make everyone merry and burn away thoughts sombre.

A great cast and a wonderful performance. I’m very glad that I didn’t miss it.

Fasting – A revelation

For the past few days, I’ve indulged myself in my work, more unusually, more intensely than my recent memories serve. The price I paid was with sleep and food. But a sudden realization came through today. Having oneself deprived of food, brings about a self so acute, senses on the edge, to quickly see what needs to be done. More quickly than a sated mind ever perceives. Yes, the blood sugar drops, no doubt, but the body survives on more than just your daily glucose. I learnt that while running, I learn that while pushing the self. Perhaps it is the mind’s way of coping up and optimizing to do tasks more efficiently.

I pondered once on the idea of fasting. I was intrigued then. There are those who wish they didn’t have to fast, all over the world, while in parallel, others do because they are compelled. I see why now. Even the sages did it. Even imbibed it as part of a belief system, in lands across. In depriving oneself of the pleasure, of food, the sustenance, there is a certain sense of introspection that arrives unforeseen. It doesn’t necessitate deep meditation nor self denial by other means but it comes from the primal need. Any abstinence, has its purest cofactor that is undeniable. Tangible and so thick that it can’t be ignored.

I understand now because I was famished. I could have eaten anything in sight. Organic, inorganic, living or dead. I could’ve eaten metal. I tried to eat paper. But I managed to bring sense into myself to get a decent order to take home and relish after a hard day but the journey home, on an empty stomach was not easy. It was only just over twelve hours since my last meal but the food in my car emanated a perfume I couldn’t resist, one which I had to endure for another hour’s drive. It wasn’t easy. I couldn’t imagine something more rigorous on the mind and visions filtered through …

I once quoted:

There is not any memory with less satisfaction than the memory of some temptation we resisted.

I thought I understood. But again, it’s all relative. We constantly push the realms and unexpected as this was, took my reality for a spin to bring me back to senses. Fasting, a delirious feeling inevitable, teaches much. Restraints, denial, perseverance and strength. Of course, the taste of the food itself is immaterial for it always is as heavenly as it could be…

Awake. Again.

You have to take risks, he said. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen. Every day, God gives us the sun–and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven’t perceived that moment, that it doesn’t exist–that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moment exists–a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.

— Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Speechless. Life has its odd ways of testing one’s resolve but when the moment of clarity does dawn, sieze it. Intuition always guides in the right path. They say, that it’s being impulsive but we are different. For better or worse, ignorant as often we are to see, follow without regrets, and perform that miracle.

Good, Bad and the weird.

Its the weirdest thing. I was watching a Korean movie and something popped out as very deep. The exact lines were

“If you chase something to get something, something else will come chasing you.”.

Paraphrasing that, “what you are passionate about is passionate about you too”. It is quite true in a sense (unexplainable unless you’ve been there) and scary. I guess I never realized it in that way but it makes perfect sense. Physically and philosophically…

Now I remember why I watch all these foreign movies …

Passions never die.

It is funny how my recent posts always seem to revolve around either music or food or running or my work. And I think this is because when you are mature and when you feel the life’s pinch, it is only those qualities that sustain you on your everyday journey that excite you enough to go on.

And this is one of those days. Its been a very long week. I am tired with work (I just keep taxing myself with things to do; its not a bad thing in the long run though !) and ache for a vacation. I half-heartedly partied all weekend to only become really tired afterwards. But here I stand, above my expectations, nourished by a wonderful curry chicken with the most adorable flavors of red peppers, mustard, asfoetida, cilantro, carrots, onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and chicken. She is unique. I’ve never, ever tasted such magnificence in a restaurant and I doubt that even I could reproduce this. Driven by smell, and beauty, I derive and drive these creations. And never has she deceived me.

This post is a dedication to her. My taste buds, my food sense, bow to what my brain can conjure to enslaven the five senses. And before that, I stand, humble, obliged and small.

Music, a path to salvation

Cutting through the morose of every day life, without the beauty of art or music, Life would bear very less excitement. No matter how many crutches we might use, it still cannot elate as a beautiful piece of music could. You have your favorites. And it differs from person to person. I have many but still always come back to Devasabhathalam. It is beautiful in its tempo, tune, lyrics and mood. It elates. It brings one up even when depressed. It fulfills when Life seems empty. It provides meaning.

You might not feel the same. But I could care very less. Maybe the Eminem song released yesterday might titillate you in a similar way. And that is precisely the point. If I were to die today, I will like to hear the last 3 minutes of this song in my head before I pass away peacefully. And that defines greatness in music.

Thriving on the Precipice

It’s only on the brink that people find the will to change; only on the precipice that we evolve. This is our moment – don’t take it from us.
— The day the earth stood still

Another one of those things that is so right on the point. Its cliched to say ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ but putting it in different words as above lends new meaning and purpose.

I’ve learnt that all best thoughts have already been said before. And that’s why I am proud to do my re-search. And it is why I thrive on great quotes. Kudos to the great minds before and after me.

Without that final edge, how mundanely bleak an occurrence this would be. And with or without an external change, it really is about time to rethink the possibilities…