Invictus (Undefeated)

I first came across these lines while watching the movie Invictus (2009). The poem was originally written by Victorian poet William Ernest Henley in 1875, while lying on a hospital bed at the age of 25 and battling the idea of living with an amputated leg for the entire life ahead of him. The impact these powerful lines have had on me is probably second only to the one caused by another of my favorite poems, ‘The Road Not Taken‘ by Robert Frost.

It has helped me make some important choices in life, especially in times when my mind has been shrouded in conflicting thoughts about the past, and veiled by doubts about the consequences of my actions. I hope I can keep drawing inspiration from it in the future, and I think you too will share the same perspective once you take in these lines.

A recitation of the eternal poem by late Sir Alan Bates

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Advertisements

Calling out..

These are two songs I absolutely love. Music-wise and lyrics-wise they are gems in their own right. I must have seen and listened to them many times over the years, on TV, on the computer, or on the iPod, but as I listened to them yesterday I couldn’t help but sense a connection between the feelings and emotions in both of them…. calling out to the ‘one’.

Both these songs are generations apart, and have been used to portray relatively different scenarios in the respective films, the 1969 classic ‘Khamoshi‘ (IMDb link) and the 1998 movie ‘Dil Se..‘ (IMDb link), one of my favorites.

Why I felt the connection only yesterday, or has anyone else felt it up till now, I do not know. I have always believed that as you go about in life having different experiences, from different people, and at different places, you tend to find new meanings to the world and the media around you and sort of re-evaluate your feelings about the articles you’ve read before, the songs you’ve listened to earlier, the movies you’ve seen in the years gone by, or the words of advise given by a friend or a family-member. Perhaps due to certain happenings in my life in the past few months, I could sense that connection yesterday.

“तुम पुकार लो, तुम्हारा इंतज़ार है, तुम पुकार लो,

ख्वाब चुन रही है रात बेक़रार है,

तुम्हारा इंतज़ार है, तुम पुकार लो.

होंठ पे लिए हुए दिल की बात हम,

जागते रहेंगे और कितनी रात हम,

मुक्तसर सी बात है, तुमसे प्यार है,

तुम्हारा इंतज़ार है, तुम पुकार लो.

दिल बहल तो जायेगा इस ख़याल से,

हाल मिल गया तुम्हारा अपने हाल से,

रात ये क़रार की, बेक़रार है,

तुम्हारा इंतज़ार है, तुम पुकार लो.”

“हो पाखी पाखी परदेसी, पाखी पाखी परदेसी,

पाखी पाखी परदेसी, पाखी पाखी परदेसी,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से,

मैं यहाँ टुकडो में जी रहा हूँ,

मैं यहाँ टुकडो में जी रहा हूँ,

तू कहीं टुकडो में जी रही है,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से.

रोज रोज रेशम सी हवा आते जाते कहती है बता,

रेशम सी हवा कहती है बता,

वो जो दूध-धुली मासूम कली,

वो है कहाँ कहाँ है,

वो रौशनी कहाँ है,

वो जानसी कहा है,

मैं अधूरा तू अधूरी जी रहे है,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से.

तू तो नहीं है लेकिन तेरी मुस्कुराहटें है,

चेहरा नहीं है पर तेरी आहटें है,

तू है कहाँ कहाँ है,

तेरा निशां कहाँ है,

मेरा जहाँ कहाँ है,

मैं अधूरा तू अधूरी जी रहे है,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से,

ऐ अजनबी तू भी कभी आवाज दे कहीं से.”

A strangely fulfilling day

Ok, so how do you brand a day as ‘strangely fulfilling’? Well, here’s my take on it. You go into a day feeling a little down on your health. Also, you aren’t exactly in a great frame of mind since the past few weeks so you don’t expect anything miraculous to happen that day either, plus you know you have a long week ahead full of work and the little health problem I mentioned earlier might unnecessarily impede your best efforts. You seek some random inspiration, maybe from the people and happenings around you, but aren’t quite sure where to find it from.

This Monday (well, it had to be a Monday, right 😉 ), I started my day exactly like that. I had been ‘under the weather’ for the whole of last week; got rain-wet once to often and paid the price by having a sore throat and a slight fever over the weekend. The project I’m working on for a client is in its final stages so I couldn’t really stay at home. I almost dragged myself to the workplace, unshaven and all, and settled down in the day’s planned tasks. About half-an-hour after lunch-time I got a call from the technical advisor (the person whom I work with in the company) saying that he wanted to test my software program for some live calculations. Well, this program I’m developing is an optimized, automated substitute for an extremely lengthy and tedious manual calculation process for Crane design. We started running some tests on it, and after a few tweaks to the output we got the required results in absolutely no time. He was satisfied. I too was satisfied.

Gantry Crane (Image courtesy: Emech.in)

The number of calculations I’ve had to code in to this software program easily outnumber the sum total of the Math problems I solved as homework during all my schooling years put together! So you can see I was on tenterhooks while we were running the tests, hoping for them to succeed. I realized later that these tests made it possible for the sales team to answer the queries of a particular client and give him a quote by the end of the day – a task which seemed difficult that morning. It was sort of fruition for my efforts during the last 3 months.

Along the way I also interacted with a few people from the sales team and got to know them better. Being a person who loves to interact and make friends with like-minded people, I relished this opportunity. In a high-pressure job environment driven by a world of cut-throat competition, I guess it means a lot to these guys if something helps in quickening their response to their respective clients.

For some time, I almost forgot about my sore throat. Ironically it didn’t forget me 😦 , and by the end of the day it caught up with my growing enthusiasm. I drove back home, carrying a slight temperature. I really needed something different to divert my attention away from body-ache, paining-throat and medicines. “A good, light, comedy movie would be great”, I thought. I picked up the TV remote and flicked to the movie channels section, and there it was! They were playing a 1980’s classic, the tremendously hilarious Airplane!. Full of sarcastic humor, it reminded me of another of my favorite movies belonging to the same genre – Hot Shots!. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better remedy that evening!

It was almost time for dinner when I finished watching the movie, but due to the nauseating feeling I didn’t really feel like having normal food. “Something different?”, I though to myself and peeped into the kitchen. I realized that we had Foccacia bread in there. Mom and me then embellished it with some Tomatoes, Onion and Chillies, put it in the microwave oven and after a few minutes I had an absolutely wonderful dinner ready for me!

Focaccia bread with toppings of Tomatoes, Onions and Chillies

Believe me, it tasted GOOD! The tummy was full by now, but the exertion had taken its toll on my physical-condition, which was quite bad to begin with. As I headed toward the warmth of my bed, though, I began thinking about the day. It had started out as any other day, and could have ended just the same without any special mentions anywhere, but it didn’t. It wasn’t as if I had discovered a new chemical element or had achieved something just as ground-breaking, but 3 very different things had made the day ‘fulfilling’ in their own strange way! 🙂

I was reminded of a quote from the movie Peaceful Warrior (2006) –

“There are no ordinary moments.”

Well, I think there are no ordinary days either! In the end, everything boils down to your perspective.

‘Lamhe..’ (Moments)

Sometimes it is good policy to use lyrical songs rather than mere words to present a situation or project a state-of-mind; and when the song is as good as the one mentioned, it is bound to paint a perfect picture.

This song is from the critically acclaimed 1991 movie Lamhe (IMDb link) directed by the highly successful Yash Chopra. The music has been composed by legendary Santoor maestro Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and Flute genius Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia (known together as Shiv-Hari), so undoubtedly, it has got to be melodious. Combine that with lyrics from Anand Bakshi, and you have one of the best songs ever recorded in the history of the Hindi film industry.

Full lyrics:

“ये लम्हें, ये पल हम बरसों याद करेंगे,

ये मौसम चले गए तो हम फ़र्याद करेंगे.. (1)

इन सपनो की तस्वीरों से,

इन यादों की जंजीरों से,

अपने दिल को कैसे हम आज़ाद करेंगे,

ये मौसम चले गए तो हम फ़र्याद करेंगे,

ये लम्हें, ये पल हम बरसों याद करेंगे.. (2)

ये लम्हें तो है बहुत हसीं,

इन लम्हों पर कुछ लिखा नहीं,

ये आबाद करेंगे या बर्बाद करेंगे,

ये मौसम चले गए तो हम फ़र्याद करेंगे,

ये लम्हें, ये पल हम बरसों याद करेंगे.. (3)

ये लम्हें, ये पल हम बरसों याद करेंगे,

ये मौसम चले गए तो हम फ़र्याद करेंगे.. (4)”

Some moments are so beautiful and unique that we cherish them for a lifetime. Memories of trips and vacations, a sweet little prank during school, an hour of solitude with a loved one, a few conversations which lifted your spirits.. are just a few examples I can think of at this instant. Generally, attempts to free ourselves from these moments always come to a naught; obviously we’ve got to be honest enough to realize that.

Sometimes the people involved in these memories have long drifted away from our lives, but that doesn’t dilute their sweetness. There is neither an upper limit to how many of these experiences we can have during our lifetime; experiences which are automatically crystalized into ‘indelible impressions’. Whether they actually help us grow or drag us down by their sheer weight, is a matter of personality; but as they say, “when you can’t loose them, use them”, and that is where perhaps lies their real beauty combined with practicality.

A few lines from another one of my favorite songs.. ‘Beetein lamhe..’

“आज भी जब वह पल मुझको याद आते है,

दिल से सारे गमों को भुला जातें है..

आज भी जब वह मंज़र नज़र आते है,

दिल की वीरानीयों को मिटा जातें है..

दर्द में भी यह लब मुस्कुरा जातें है,

बीते लम्हे हमे जब भी याद आते है..”

I always pray and hope that such lovely moments are somehow rekindled one day!

‘When a Man Loves a Woman’

It has got to be one of the most honest and genuine, yet under-rated, and lately an almost ‘endangered’ kind of emotion from mankind.

Its a general perception that women tend to be more emotionally mature than men and are therefore naturally inclined to provide selfless love in most cases, which is true, but in an age of fast-track relationships and numerous counts of infidelity by both sexes you would be lucky to find a genuine one fitting the description, almost deprecating the idea to the realm of impracticality. Its strange that even in such an environment we do hear random cases of selfless love, and especially when it is from a man towards a woman it can form the foundation of a beautiful and incorruptible relationship which can definitely go the distance.

As was stated in the tagline of the movie When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) starring Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan

“Through the good times. Through the bad times. When a Man Loves a Woman its for all times.”

Here is the song from which the movie’s name was inspired. The original hit was written and performed in 1966 by Percy Sledge. You can watch a video of Sledge rendering the song in his voice by following the link. Here I’ve shared a video of Michael Bolton performing the song. The lyrics, well, speak for themselves.

“When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found
If she’s bad he can’t see it
She can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend
If he put her down
.
When a man loves a woman
Spend his very last dime
Tryin’ to hold on to what he needs
He’d give up all his comfort
Sleep out in the rain
If she said that’s the way it ought to be
.
Well, this man loves a woman
I gave you everything I had
Tryin’ to hold on to your precious love
Baby, please don’t treat me bad
.
When a man loves a woman
Down deep in his soul
She can bring him such misery
If she plays him for a fool
He’s the last one to know
Lovin’ eyes can’t ever see
.
When a man loves a woman
He can do no wrong
He can never own some other girl
Yes when a man loves a woman
I know exactly how he feels
‘Cause baby, baby, baby, you’re my world
.
When a man loves a woman…..”

‘Catch a Falling Star’

This song has to be one of the most romantic yet simple renditions emphasizing the importance of feelings and happy moments in relationships and life in general. Credits for this old hit single must go to its songwriters Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss.

I first came across this song while watching the movie Everybody’s Fine (2009) starring Robert De Niro. The movie is a ‘must watch’ for all age groups, teens and elders likewise, since it portrays the warmth of family relationships and its intricate expectations in a moving yet beautiful saga.

The vocals by the great Perry Como are excellent, in fact he went on to receive a Grammy award for the song in 1959. It has also been used as background score in other movies like The Princess Diaries (2001) and Love Actually (2003), and in the super-hit TV series Lost (2004-2010).

Here is a tribute to Perry Como and the song he helped immortalize –

“Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day

For love may come and tap you on the shoulder
Some starless night
Just in case you feel you wanna hold her
You’ll have a pocketful of starlight

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day

For love may come and tap you on the shoulder
Some starless night
And just in case you feel you wanna hold her
You’ll have a pocketful of starlight

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day

For when your troubles start multiplyin’
And they just might
It’s easy to forget them without tryin’
With just a pocketful of starlight

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day

Save it for a rainy day”

‘Chances’

This is a single written by singer-songwriter John Ondrasik, better known by his stage name ‘Five For Fighting‘. The song features prominently in his fifth album ‘Slice‘ (released in October 2009) and can also be heard during the end credits of the hit movie ‘The Blind Side‘ (2009). It is here that I first came across the song, and instantly fell in love with the beautiful lyrics. I feel that it is one of the most practical renditions of the purely optimistic idea of ‘taking a chance’ and measuring it by success or failure. The background music too is foot-tapping and memorable.

As is always the case with great lyrics, these words too seem to behave like a prism; they may hold different meanings for different people and inspire each person reading them in separate ways.

“Chances are when said and done
Who’ll be the lucky ones
Who make it all the way
Though you say I could be your answer
Nothing lasts forever
No matter how it feels today

Chances are we’ll find a new equation
Chances roll away from me
Chances are all they hope to be

Don’t get me wrong, I’d never say never
‘Cause though Love can’t change the weather
No act of God could pull me away from you
I’m just a realistic man
A bottle filled with shells and sand
Afraid to look beyond what I could lose
When it comes to you
And though I’d see us through

Chances are we’ll find two destinations
Chances roll away from me
Still chances are more than expectations
But possibilities over me

8 to 5 we’re 2 to 1
Lay your money on the sun
Until you crash what have you done
Is there a better bet than love
What you are is what you bring
You gotta cry before you sing

Chances

Chances lost are hopes torn out pages
And maybe this time

Chances are we’ll be the combination
Chances come and carry me
Chances are waiting to be taken
And I can see

Chances are the fascination
Chances won’t escape from me
Chances are only what we make them
And all I need…”