Reflections / 16.07.2009

By Viswam Kumar When I look back to see what shaped me - I can see how much I am shaped by serendipitous circumstances and encounters with people. Mental Discipline is perhaps the foundational trait behind all my meager achievements. I have the discipline required in focusing, concentrating and working hard to achieve a goal. This goal can be anything from finishing a project at work successfully to sticking with a fitness regime. This discipline has been a result of the grooming from my parents. They have always spoken highly about hard work and discipline and extolled these virtues. Over time, I have learnt that Discipline is something that adds to the quality of life, even if it is not materially rewarding - which was the initial motive for adopting discipline. I have learnt that it can give the courage needed to pursue goals that seem difficult...

Reflections / 22.05.2009

Can you tell me what is meant by ‘sublimated violence’? I am asking this question to try to answer another that was put to me yesterday. It has left me quite perplexed. A reader wrote and described the following observation. He was attending a serious talk by an American professional. Somewhere in the middle of the talk, the presenter had occasion to mention he was from Pittsburg. All of a sudden, he swiveled from his hip, pumped up his fist, and shouted ‘Go Steelers.’ And then he continued with his serious presentation. The question posed by the reader was whether I could imagine a South Asian doing something like that and if not, why not?
Reflections / 12.05.2009

By Kabir Altaf Flora: You are an Indian artist, aren’t you? Stick up for yourself. Why do you like everything English? Das: I do not like everything English. Flora: Yes, you do. You’re enthralled. Chelsea, Bloomsbury, Oliver Twist, Goldflake cigarettes, Winsor and Newton… even painting in oils, that’s not Indian. You’re trying to paint me from my point of view instead of yours—what you think is my point of view. You deserve the bloody Empire! (Tom Stoppard, Indian Ink, pg. 43) Great works of art often reveal insights about history in ways that are more accessible than academic historical accounts.  One work that was especially powerful in doing so for me is Tom Stoppard’s play Indian Ink. Ever since I first read this play some years ago, it has provoked me to think about the colonial experience in India as well as issues of identity and nationalism more generally. In the...

Reflections / 28.04.2009

By Radhika R. Yeddanapudi Life in a big city is about connections, people and places and above all a creation of the ideas arising from within – the imagined city dwelling within the real. "..This city will always pursue you. You'll walk the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses. You'll always end up in this city.."  ---- C P Cavafy Some Indians might describe it as twice the dreaded Saade-Sathi - an astrological adverse period ascribed to the planet Saturn in Vedic astrology! I am reminded instead of the legendary tale of the 14th century emperor Muhammed Bin Tughlaq who attempted first to relocate his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad and then returned only to lose Delhi forever. It is a city that eludes the grasp and shows itself most fleetingly.I was born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh into a south Indian Telegu Brahmin household. But I...

Reflections / 25.04.2009

With Reflections we begin a new series on The South Asian Idea in which contributors share their thoughts on their own evolution. How did they become what they are and what were the ideas or books or people or places or incidents that moved them, surprised them, gave shape to their lives, or sent them on completely unexpected trajectories?

On The South Asian Idea we believe that ideas matter. Naturally. But disembodied ideas can become too dry and cerebral. We also need to know where ideas come from, how they find their way into the mind, and how they get to capture the imagination.

And how do we try and communicate our ideas to others? Or do we? And should we? And how do we deal with situations where ideas clash?