Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dog Rescue

I managed to get a dog rescued two days ago.

Hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year - there it was - tied up in an area called BTM Layout. Half-starved. No dreams of unrestrained freedom. Complete hopelessness. Perhaps waiting for the the bliss of death.

Finally, a complaint to CUPA and my friends there actually rescued it. The 'owners' gave up without any resistance!

Hats off to CUPA!

I am adopting the chap after he recovers at the ICU at CUPA. That might take ten days. Photos soon.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Utterly Ghastly cruelty to animals

There is no limit to the base cruelty of man.

If you have a Facebook account, see the photos on this group of animals skinned alive, beaten to death for 'better taste' and so on.

There is no God.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

South Africa's SPCA

The NSPCA believes that an animal’s welfare should be considered in terms of the five freedoms

  • freedom from hunger and thirst
  • freedom from discomfort
  • freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • freedom to express normal behaviour
  • freedom from fear and distress

The NSPCA does not support the chaining of elephants and is opposed to any handling methods which may cause pain and suffering. In terms of the Animals Protection Act, Section 2(1)(b) – any person who

“confines, chains, tethers or secures any animal unnecessarily or under such condition or in such a manner or position as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering or in any place which affords inadequate space, ventilation, light, protection or shelter from heat, cold or weather;”

is guilty of an offence.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nathaniel's Nutmeg

A fascinating book by Giles Milton about the Nutmeg trade and the associated bloody history.

The Island of Run was exchanged for Manhattan as a political settlement between the Dutch and English.

And read all about Dutch atrocities at Amboyna! Shudder!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary - about Animals

The Philosophical Dictionary
Selected and Translated by H.I. Woolf
New York: Knopf, 1924
Scanned by the Hanover College Department of History in 1995.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.


What a pitiful, what a sorry thing to have said that animals are machines bereft of understanding and feeling, which perform their operations always in the same way, which learn nothing, perfect nothing, etc. !

What! that bird which makes its nest in a semi-circle when it is attaching it to a wall, which builds it in a quarter circle when it is in an angle, and in a circle upon a tree; that bird acts always in the same way? That hunting-dog which you have disciplined for three months, does it not know more at the end of this time than it knew before your lessons? Does the canary to which you teach a tune repeat it at once? do you not spend a considerable time in teaching it? have you not seen that it has made a mistake and that it corrects itself?

Is it because I speak to you, that you judge that I have feeling, memory, ideas? Well, I do not speak to you; you see me going home looking disconsolate, seeking a paper anxiously, opening the desk where I remember having shut it, finding it, reading it joyfully. You judge that I have experienced the feeling of distress and that of pleasure, that I have memory and understanding.

Bring the same judgment to bear on this dog which has lost its master, which has sought him on every road with sorrowful cries, which enters the house agitated, uneasy, which goes down the stairs, up the stairs, from room to room, which at last finds in his study the master it loves, and which shows him its joy by its cries of delight, by its leaps, by its caresses.

Barbarians seize this dog, which in friendship surpasses man so prodigiously; they nail it on a table, and they dissect it alive in order to show the mesenteric veins. You discover in it all the same organs of feeling that are in yourself. Answer me, machinist, has nature arranged all the means of feeling in this animal, so that it may not feel? has it nerves in order to be impassible? Do not suppose this impertinent contradiction in nature.

But the schoolmasters ask what the soul of animals is? I do not understand this question. A tree has the faculty of receiving in its fibres its sap which circulates, of unfolding the buds of its leaves and its fruit; will you ask what the soul of this tree is? it has received these gifts; the animal has received those of feeling, of memory, of a certain number of ideas. Who has bestowed these gifts? who has given these faculties? He who has made the grass of the fields to grow, and who makes the earth gravitate toward the sun.

"Animals' souls are substantial forms," said Aristotle, and after Aristotle, the Arab school, and after the Arab school, the angelical school, and after the angelical school, the Sorbonne, and after the Sorbonne, nobody at all.

"Animals' souls are material," cry other philosophers. These have not been in any better fortune than the others. In vain have they been asked what a material soul is; they have to admit that it is matter which has sensation: but what has given it this sensation? It is a material soul, that is to say that it is matter which gives sensation to matter; they cannot issue from this circle.

Listen to other brutes reasoning about the brutes; their soul is a spiritual soul which dies with the body; but what proof have you of it? what idea have you of this spiritual soul, which, in truth, has feeling, memory, and its measure of ideas and ingenuity; but which will never be able to know what a child of six knows? On what ground do you imagine that this being, which is not body, dies with the body? The greatest fools are those who have advanced that this soul is neither body nor spirit. There is a fine system. By spirit we can understand only some unknown thing which is not body. Thus these gentlemen's system comes back to this, that the animals' soul is a substance which is neither body nor something which is not body.

Whence can come so many contradictory errors? From the habit men have always had of examining what a thing is, before knowing if it exists. The clapper, the valve of a bellows, is called in French the "soul" of a bellows. What is this soul? It is a name that I have given to this valve which falls, lets air enter, rises again, and thrusts it through a pipe, when I make the bellows move.

There is not there a distinct soul in the machine: but what makes animals' bellows move? I have already told you, what makes the stars move. The philosopher who said, "Deus est anima brutorum," was right; but he should go further.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Path: Autobiography of an American Yogi

I just chanced upon this fascinating book by Donald Walters and I found it as powerful as the book of the author's Guru (Autobiography of a Yogi - Paramahamsa Yogananda)

A must-read!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some great music

After a long time, we actually sat through an entire concert.

Mormukut and Manoj Kedia from Giridih performed in Bangalore yesterday. The sarod and sitar duo started off very beautifully. They played Raag Jhinjhoti and did a very fine Alaap Jor and Jhala. The Teen Taal

compositions were good as well, but I was left vaguely dissatisfied by the usual convergence to a crescendo where the nuances of Jhinjhoti were sacrificed in the interests of ‘performing’. Pilu was nice but a bit shorter than I would have liked. All in all, a pleasant performance.

This was followed by a remarkable concert by Dhondutai Kulkarni. Your typical little old lady, but with a great voice and complete mastery. Simply loved her wonderful Pulashree, with the beautiful use of Shuddha Madhyam and a rising Komal Rishabh. She sang Desh, Rageshree and Shahana. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Tabla accompaniment in both cases was pleasant.

And now I am listening to Amritvarshini by the late Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki.

A weekend well-spent!

(Images borrowed from the net)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Life Event

My Mother passed away last Friday while I was away on a short business trip to the US.

Her music, love for books and animals has come down to us, not as perfectly as she might have wanted.

Have I reconciled with her passage? Time will tell.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Geeta Dutt

What nostalgia, such marvelous music...eternal brilliance..

Waqt ne kiya:

Babuji dheere chalna:

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Youtube Tabla wonders

Some amazing old footage of musical greats needs to be acknowledged.

Here is Ustab Ahmad Jaan Thirakwa on the Tabla with Ustad Habib Khan on the Vichitra Veena (no one plays it anymore)

Pandit Anokhe Lal of Benaras

Ustad Tafo Khan of Pakistan

One more of Tafo Khan

The late Ustad Amir Khan with the late Pandit Shyamal Bose, with whom I spent many days in Kolkata. He taught me some pieces in Bihag and taught my son Tabla. He was a wonderful short-tempered genius. Memories of a lifetime.....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rupak Taal

A nice seven beat taal (3 + 4). A favourite for many, though I do not find it easy since I didn't apply myself when I should have.

Here is an example

Here is a piece by Zakir Hussain

Sunday, March 22, 2009


And this is Basant from a Pakistani movie.

Horrendously difficult on a violin, mathematically brilliant and lovely to hear.

A modern version from Rashid Khan

The beauty of impermanence

As time passes by and one gets older, it seems right that memories become a burden. Its great that nature dulls the sharpness of some poignant thoughts of events and people.

One looks back with surprise - was I that dumb? How could I have said such and such or done this or that? Was that really me?

I read a science fiction story once that talked about the conquest of death and the accompanying agony of those who wanted to be rid of too many memories, good or bad. The fear of passing on then perhaps went away. We shall move from one reality to another and never know the difference. The observance of cruelty, of a certain God who keeps desperate hopes alive but looks away at the suffering and pain of the innocent - a message garbled by philosophical rubbish, designed to keep us sane - yes, this is not a reality I am interested in. To that extent, I am happy when time accelerates and the pain of the innocent stops. But the cries of their agony will last beyond time.

I wrote a book many years ago on the survival of the animal kingdom and our own eradication as a punishment for centuries of depravity. The logic of suffering of the mute escapes me entirely. But we are superior, we are told, and have the right to erase and inflict.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Basant - Mallika Pukhraj and Tahira Syed

An extraordinary piece based on Raag Basant, a simple beat and two brilliant singers

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Water & Fire

A great trip to an idyllic and picturesque spot called Manchanbele near Bangalore. We had some terrific fun leaping off like fools from 40 feet cliffs into deep water, kayaking and swimming.

And we were face to face with a forest fire that stopped 20 feet away from where we were.

I was happy that I was as fit as guys half my age, which may not be saying much, given our sedentary lifestyles.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pups & the House

A room with a view

These pups were born on the site.

Side view

Front View

Another view

Monday, February 09, 2009

Finally, a Great Concert

After months of waiting and watching, I finally attended a great concert.

We listened to Alka Deo Marulkar of Goa at the Gokhale Institute.

After a little warming up hesitation, she really stunned the audience. These were the Raags she sang

1. Marwa
2. Purvi (truly delightful)
3. Tilang (a variation)
4. Nat Bhairav (I think, but I could not precisely nail it down)
5. Bhairavi

I greatly appreciated the peace on her face when she sang. I think she is an evolved soul.

The tabla was a bit loud. The accompanists were very average.

Don't miss her if she visits your part of the Galaxy.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Points to ponder

There is only one thing more powerful than all the armies of the world, that is an idea whose time has come.
- Victor Hugo

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.We have guided missiles and misguided men.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.
- Stephen W. Hawking

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.
- Stephen W. Hawking

The visible world is the invisible organization of energy.
- Physicist Heinz Pagels

There is no reality in the absence of observation.
- The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

No theory of reality compatible with quantum theory can require spatially separate events to be independent.
- J.S. Bell

If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet.
- Niels Bohr

Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.
- Claude Bernard

Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
- Lewis Carroll

Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
- Niels Bohr

To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.
- Copernicus

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
- Albert Einstein

The power of Thought, the magic of the Mind!
- Lord Byron

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mystical. It is the source of all true art and science.
- Albert Einstein

Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.
- Stephen W. Hawking

It gives me a deep comforting sense that ‘things seen are temporal and things unseen are eternal.’
- Helen Keller
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.
- William James

We feel and know that we are eternal.
- Edmund Spenser

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of being.
- Carl Jung

Time is not a line, but a series of now points.
- Taisen Deshimaru

The birth of a man is the birth of his sorrow. The longer he lives, the more stupid he becomes, because his anxiety to avoid unavoidable death becomes more and more acute. What bitterness! He lives for what is always out of reach! His thirst for survival in the future makes him incapable of living in the present.
- Chang-Tzu

How could there be any question of acquiring or possessing, when the one thing needful for a man is to become-to be at last, and to die in the fullness of his being.
- Antoine De Saint-Exupery

The spirit down here in man and the spirit up there in the sun, in reality are only one spirit, and there is no other one.
- The Upanishads

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the law of the universe will be simpler.
- H.D. Thoreau

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
- Carl Gustav Jung

The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge.
- Albert Einstein

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.
- Winston Churchill

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.
- Georg C. Lichtenberg

Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
- Chief Seattle

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity...and I'm not sure about the universe.
- Albert Einstein

Know thyself.
- Socrates

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
- James Joyce, Ulysses

He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
- Albert Einstein

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.
- John Maynard Keynes

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.
- Democritus of Abdera

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
- George Bernard Shaw

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters to what lies within us.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson