Tuesday, December 30, 2014


एक डब्बे में रौशनी भर कर लाई थी 
की अपने चिराग से सी देगी 
तो घर में उसके उजाला हो जायेगा 
अब लौ पकड़ कर बैठी रहती है पगली 
की बखिया उधड़ गयी 
तोह उसकी रौशनी यतीम हो जाएगी। 

तेरे पैमाने से नापा  तोह बड़ा छोटा पाया उसको 
दूजे फ़क़ीर ने उसमे अपना ख़ुदा देख लिया 
तूने पुछा की उसकी मिटटी में ऐसा क्या है 
जो तेरे सोने में नहीं ?
फ़क़ीर हंस कर बोला 
जाके उन पेड़ों से पूछ 
जिनकी छाया में बैठती है वह। 

टूटे तारे बटोरती है अपने आँचल में 
और संभाल कर रख देती है अपनी किताबों के बीच 
उनसे कहती है की कुछ लव्ज़ों के दामन में 
हर टूटी चीज़ को सुकून मिल जाता है।
उसकी उम्मीद के अफाक पे कभी डूबता नहीं है सूरज 
हर शाम को उसके दर पे किनारा मिल जाता है। 

कहानियां ढूंढ़ती है अंजान  रास्तों पे 
खो जाने का डर नहीं मालूम उसको 
इतनी रौशनी है उसकी मुस्कराहट में 
अंधे कोहरों में भी उसके निशान ढूंढ लूँ। 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Wall Christmas Tree

Made an eco friendly wall Christmas tree with newspaper and fairy lights. :)

Its very easy to make and with no special requirements. You can make it yourself if you like it. :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The person I was. The person I am.

The person I am today is largely a product of my upbringing and experiences. While I can't complain about anything on the upbringing part, the experiences, specially in school life were largely messed up. From the age of six to the age of seventeen is a period which I consciously endeavor not to recall.

I was a dyslexic child. By the time I entered first standard, it was fairly evident that I had multiple issues with reading, writing and understanding. I would take ages to copy from the blackboard, my bs and ds  and other letters were invariably jumbled. Often I would write in mirror images. I would take ages to understand simple concepts and yet sometimes I would get the most challenging puzzles in seconds. I found it difficult to express myself. I hardly understood maths and every time I was made to stand up and read in class, the entire batch ended up laughing.Dyslexia was almost an unknown and poorly understood learning disability at that time. The teachers would mostly end up frustrated and angry and mostly chose to ignore my presence in class. I was also extremely naive and vulnerable. Unfortunately to add to that, I was seated with the most dominating girl of the glass in class 1 itself. She turned out to be a massive bully. And because of the fact that she had an influential background, she was not reprimanded at any time during the entire academic year. Even our seats were not changed. School became a nightmare for me in no time. I would begin my day as a scared child and come back home crying in the arms of my mother. Everyday.

Second and Third standards were a little more tolerable. I tried to deal with my alienation and learning issues. But I had also developed a personality issue by then. Because I was constantly ignored or made fun of. I started seeking refuge in the company of anyone who would do as much as to talk kindly to me. As a consequence I became clingy. Something that stayed with me for a long time. I made a couple of conditional friends. But I was still always lonely. I am trying hard to recall a good memory in these years at school and yet I find myself failing miserably. The extent to which I was ignored should be well illustrated by the fact that for five years I was not even allotted a house. Even when I came to school everyday. Sometimes I still get nightmares recalling that. And I was so perpetually scared of everyone that I never approached my teachers to correct it. 

I had nothing fancy to show. Nor by the way of wealth or talent or intelligence or academics. That made my marginalization much easier. Yet I never failed to amuse my class fellows and frustrate my teachers. So much that everything I did eventually started irritating them. Even the fact that I was ambidextrous and could write and draw with both my hands. On more that three occasions I was reprimanded for working with both my hands because some teachers were unaware of the phenomenon of ambidexterity. So I felt guilty even about things that I should have been proud about. 
I loved drawing. So during a long assembly when a skit was being presented, I noticed a beautiful sketch of folded hands drawn on the blackboard on the stage and copied it. For the rest of the school hours. I was standing outside the class and crying. 

After a while I really started feeling ashamed about my constant humiliation at school and started hiding these things from my parents. Telling them stories of how I was appreciated and admired so that they wouldn't feel so pained and terrible everyday. Eventually they had a completely different picture presented to them at the Parent Teacher Meets. Then I would break down in front of my mother and weep in her lap for hours. Had she not been there as an unwavering and unconditional support, I wouldn't have been alive today. 

My attempts to take responsibility were mostly ignored and sometimes even mocked at. I remember putting my hand up for several minutes as my teacher was selecting volunteers for a program and after ignoring it all the while she told me that I am not trustworthy. Later in life after having taken numerous posts of responsibility and being acknowledged for them, I still see that little girl with her tired hand in the air, filled with hope. I still hear the teacher say those words and I still feel that tear silently slip from the corner of my eye. I still feel unworthy and uncertain.

The people I used to call friends were never my friends. Behind my back I was constantly criticized and made fun of. So desperate I was for company that I would apologize to them even if it was not my fault because I couldn't bear the constant alienation and rejection. My presence in their life was secondary, conditional and often tedious. By this time I had also resorted to buffoonery to gain some sort of acceptance. 

This continued even after my father was transferred and I changed schools. In fact the girls were smarter and much more dominating. As classes advanced, the methods of bullying, mocking and marginalizing also became more advanced, more complicated. The mockery became more rude, the insults more demeaning. I was branded a weirdo, loner, dumb, clingy among other things. But by this time I had overcome my dyslexia. solely because of my mother's tireless efforts. But the hatred, fear and loathing that I had developed for school was too deeply entrenched to go. In fact something or the other kept reinforcing it. 

Ninth onward I started getting some positive attention. I was very good with literature and biology and picking up on other subjects. Some very understanding and supportive teachers and my mother's support brought me back from the brink of severe depression. The next three years were tolerable. I made a few friends, found some acknowledgement and appreciation for a few talents that I had discovered in myself and did decently well academically. With great effort and introspection I had also got rid of my tendency to cling to people. 

It was only in college after an year and half of struggling that I finally fought my way to myself. I was told that my goodness of character was a weakness and I should change. I decided not to change that in me. These were the values that my mother had given me. I wouldn't give them up for heaven. On the contrary I eventually started to proving to people how it was not my weakness but my strength, my absolute strength. It made a huge difference in my life. I also started accepting myself as a person and started learning to appreciate my own company. Funnily enough, the moment I freed myself of the need to be in company and transformed my loneliness into cherished solitude, I found myself in plenty of company. I was now wanted, respected, even cherished. 

When my graduation ended and I went back to meet my teachers and staff, the head of the lab staff called me and introduced me to the new batch and said, "In my seventeen years of working here, I have not met a student like her. In all the people I have seen through these years. She is the best human being I have come across." Like the hundreds of people who had no idea how much they had damaged me, this man had absolutely no idea how much he had healed me. I left the class and bawled for an hour. My being felt complete and vindicated. 

Fortunately, there onward, I have met many beautiful and unbelievably kind people who have welcomed me in their lives with so much warmth and so much love that it is difficult to believe sometimes. I have made incredibly close and cherished friends. I have been unconditionally accepted and I have been loved for being the same broken self that I am. I have had no need to lie or fake for the sake of acceptance. More importantly I am now at peace with myself.

But Ma.. dear people. This woman that I call my mother is such an awe inspiring person. So full of goodness and kindness and strength and support and faith and love. I hold her in wondrous respect. I hold her sacred. And know this for sure. If you ever see anything good in me. It is only a reflection of her. She has made me fight and win a battle I had never imagined that I could even stand up to. She is much more than a parent. She is my answered prayer, my anchor, my guide, my guardian, my best friend. She is my soul.

I have shared this experience with you for many reasons. The one selfish purpose is venting. I have realized that I still suffer from low self esteem issues because of my childhood. I want to forgive my past and move on. I also want you to realize how much damage harsh words and careless remarks can do to the psyche of vulnerable people. Children and adults alike. I wanted to tell you what alienation feels like to people. And I also wanted to tell you that love and acceptance can heal even the most damaged souls. Even the scars might fade. The people who are the most difficult to love may also be the ones who need it the most. 

Most of all forgive and accept yourself and know that you are beautiful and cherished. The darkness doesn't last forever.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Stream of Consciousness

The station looked abandoned. It felt like she had stepped into the vacuum between two maddening worlds. Into the deafening chaos of silence. Like a parallel universe where trains had grown old and tired. It wasn't her destination. She had stepped onto the platform as if in a trance. Its desertion seemed complete. Trains came and went but no one came out or went in. As she stared into an indifferent sunset, she felt euphoric all of a sudden and then at the same time felt a sense of dread fill her. She felt freedom in its purest sense and then suddenly she felt helplessly trapped. 

She had been here before but she was not alone then. This person, she had once held very dear and they had laughed together marveling at how surreal this station felt. She hadn't felt so overwhelmed then. She had not felt so solitary, so alone. Yet now it was a distant memory, parched and faded, as unreal and illusory as this place itself.  She felt wrapped in forsakenness. She hadn't been forgiven for the sins she did not commit. She felt herself melting into a strange oblivion. 

Then a train came and the doors opened. Subconsciously she waited for them to close for what seemed like ages. But they didn't. The train just stood there like her. As if waiting for her to come in. It shook her out to the present, to the logic of strategic locations and utility, to the futility of philosophizing the barrenness and abandon of the place. In that moment she felt enormously foolish for romanticizing her self pity. She had a sudden urge to feel common and inconsequential, to disappear in the crowd. She smiled and looked back at the station. and stepped into the train. The doors closed shortly afterwards and the train resumed its journey. The train rumbled and announcements were made, to which she paid no attention. Her mind was now occupied with cheese, mushrooms and potatoes and the best recipe she could arrange for dinner.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When no one's there..

When you are drowning
I shall float to you
For you to hold on to
And when you reach the shore safely
And breath back to yourself
I shall be carried away with the waves
Never to be seen again.

When you are lost on an island
I shall fly to you
Sit beside you and sing
Listen to your songs of longing
And when the ship comes to take you home
I shall disappear
In the anonymous wilderness

When you are alone and afraid
I shall come and sit with you
Brew you a cup of warmth
And when your friends come back
I shall return back to my solitude
Closing the door behind me.

When you write words that no one reads
I shall read them and love them
Show you the magic that they weave
And when the world gives you the prize
I shall slip away in the shadows
And come back here.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Haider- Something like a movie review

Enough has already been said in praise of Haider. And even though I have a degree in broadcast journalism with entertainment journalism as a subject, I have absolutely no idea of how to write a review.

But then again, Bhardwaj movies always want to make me write. He is one of those few able directors whose work can actually make me overcome my legendary sloth and actually think. Its a huge deal trust me. If you ever come across him. Let him know that. He'll be overwhelmed I am sure.

Haider as is well known is an adaptation of one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, Hamlet. Vishal Bhardwaj, by and large remains loyal to the original plot and set of characters. Even the court jesters and grave diggers have not been ignored. His use of creative freedom is enormous but constrained at the same time.  Also his choice of a backdrop couldn't have been better. Kashmir was not an excellent choice because of its picturesque and pristine beauty to enrich the frames. It is because it provides the perfect reflection and cause for the protagonists turmoil. His agony, his battle with himself and the circumstances which conspire to exploit his hamartia (tragic flaw) to make his tragedy complete.

Haider, the young protagonist of the film is given a cold welcome by his beautiful and bloodied valley. His home has been razed to the ground, his father has mysteriously disappeared and his mother has been wooed by his uncle. This Kashmir is a land that has been bathed in blood. Marred by terrorism, insurgency, counter insurgency and separatist issues, where fire and fear have become a way of life for the people. Amidst all this, Haider embarks on a journey in search of his father and thus unfolds a story of love, lies, betrayal and death.

One of the most striking aspects of the movie is complexity of relationships between the main characters. The emotional intensity of the interaction between Haider and his mother Ghazala, the twisted love affair between Ghazala and Khurram, the gentle love story of Haider and Arshia, the bonding between Haider and his father Hilal. There are oedipal undertones and multiple layers in every character. The spectrum of emotions which the characters deal in is so sensitive that even the slightest under or over expression could have ruined the film completely. Yet under Bharadwaj's able direction, the actors render brilliant performances. Shahid's portrayal of Haider's turmoils, confusion, madness, passion, love and hatred is almost flawless. Menon takes up Khurram effortlessly. Shraddha as Arshia remains subtle but firm in her role. But it is unarguably Tabu as Ghazala who takes away the show. Her love, her inner battles, her guilt and her destruction are so hard hitting that it will leave you thinking about her for a long time afterwards. No other actress could have done this sort of justice to the role of Ghazala as Tabu has done.

Haider has been narrated like a beloved heart wrenching piece of poetry. It is a film filled with exquisite moments. The song behind the curtains, the conversation in autumn, the numbered grave, AFSPA and chutzpa on the crossroads, the kiss on the neck, the sharing of bed, the song of betrayal, the making and unmaking of the red muffler, the prayer. These moments are seamlessly woven in the warp and weft of the story and lend the movie a very distinct charm.

I am not very good at pointing out flaws in the movie. I judge a movie by how I feel the moment it ends. Haider for me was a piece of art. It left me shocked and moved. One might complain that the movie is slow and long but as someone who is fond of literature I wouldn't have wanted the director compromise or cut down the original plot for commercial considerations.

And as I sat watching Haider in the cinema hall today, I could almost feel it tracing the lines of a masterpiece I had seen 18 years ago. The movie's background score was given by Bhardwaj himself. It also portrayed the inner battle of an innocent and sensitive youth and his transformation into a murderer. The backdrop of the film was also a land torn by insurgency and mindless bloodshed. But most importantly it had the same woman infusing life, breath and pathos into every frame making it an extraordinary work of art. Tabu.

The fire that burns in Bhardwaj's Haider seems to have been ignited by Gulzar's Maachis. Maachis had left a deep impression on my mind even as a seven year old. When I subsequently saw the movie in my later years, I was able to grasp the true genius of Gulzar. Haider left a very similar impression on me. Hauntingly beautiful and profoundly disturbing, it strangely reminded me of a famous line in the poem, Easter 1916 by Yeats.
"All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born."


PS- Background score is amazing but not overpowering. Blends well and complements really well. Every song is distinct in character and moving in spirit.

I have no stars to give to Haider but I do hope it receives all the recognition it so rightly deserv

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nothing to tell

I have nothing to tell you
Nothing to define
No portraits to show
No Goddess divine.

Silent streams 
Of tired dreams 
Flow across the soul
With bursting seams

A fire is breathing its last
The taste of ash on my tongue
The burning within
When hope dies young

A song of abandoned shadows
Sung by ruins of temples
Where no gods rest now
Only pigeons sleep

I am waiting
At the end of this bridge
That shall crumble before us
The moment you step on it
And yet
I am waiting.

Don't leave the doors open
There is no breeze tonight..

Sunday, September 14, 2014

For a Star.

I vividly remember the introductory class in IIMC where our teachers had paired up the entire class and the two individuals had to introduce each other. When the woman behind me was being introduced to the class, her partner in the list of things she narrated, also said that this lady liked reading "classical" novels. Immediately an agonized but feminine voice corrected in a disappointed, embarrassed and hushed tone, "Classic!"
Curiosity has to work rather hard to come to my generally indifferent self. But I must admit that this act caught my attention and I turned to look at her. She still had the traces of exasperation on her heart shaped face. I thought her rather arrogant and snobbish. After all, Calcutta and Literature is always an intimidating combination. In hindsight, after knowing her for more than two years I can understand that her profound love for literature had given birth to the anguish. It was like a devoted priest correcting his Lord's praise from the mouth of a layman, It wasn't arrogance, she just couldn't help it.
In the months that were to come, I realized that my initial misgivings about her were more than unfounded. Far from the arrogant literature Nazi that I had thought her to be, Krittika turned out be the most beautiful, most touching piece of poetry. It took me time to decipher the genuine warmth of her smiles but when I did, they instantly became deeply cherished. She displayed an understanding of human emotions and character that was far beyond her years. Also she was someone who would easily go out of the way to help the people she held dear. She would step in when most of the world steps out. And she didn't even hesitate to keep her own interests at sake.

The qualities she had are found but rarely in this darkling world and very very seldom in the same person. It was not that she was naive to the ruthlessness and aridity and disenchantment that the world had to offer. But inspite of all, there was something pristine in her soul. Something in the stream of her being that the desert winds could not touch. Something in the rise of her waves that no dam could break, something in her fire that no water could extinguish. Was she not damaged? Was she never hurt? You wouldn't ask the question if you knew her. Her pain wrote sonnets in her words, told stories through her eyes and sang the songs of lonely larks in her enchanting voice. She knew pain, she knew betrayal, she knew alienation, she knew what it felt like to lose everything but she did not feel it was reason enough to lose her humanity, to not begin again, to not trust or love or help again. I was in awe of the seeming ease with which she forgave unforgivable things. Was it that easy? It would be foolish to assume so. Krittika just compulsively chose love over hatred, second chances over self pity and being herself over being everyone else.

Ernest Hemingway said, "The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed." Nothing could hold more true for the woman I am talking about. And she is very well aware of it. She knows that she'll be taken advantage of, she'll be betrayed, she'll be given a lot pain but a few days back she told me, "Rohini, you know...people broke my trust always, everybody I loved, the used me, trampled me and moved on. There were days when ma found my whole pillow wet, when she heard me howling in the washroom for hours. But I decided I am not worth it. I am special and there are people who love me and care for me and if I stayed in self loathing, I can never move on. So you have to leave this behind." She is as human and as vulnerable as you and me but she chooses a different path to turn to instead of the ever tempting self loathing and self victimization. She chooses to struggle instead of giving up. She chooses to carry on smiling. And for that I have a sacred respect for her. 

Its unbelievable, how the seemingly ordinary people in our lives are so extraordinary. I have had so much to learn from Krittika, most importantly the importance of forgiving, if not for anyone else then for my own sake. She has been there for me in the most trying and hopeless times. She has never judged me and allowed me to sink in the quicksand of the existential crisis that I am so prone to do. I have nothing less than wonder in my head, love in my heart and gratitude in my soul for her existence,

You're in Calcutta now and I am here, decaying in Agra and I must tell you that I miss your presence terribly. Our conversations, sharing of happiness and grief, of hope and disillusionment, of warm quilts in winter and maggi noodles. I hope we meet soon and I hope we make friends with our demons and have tea and red velvet cake with them together at Elma's someday.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The books I love..

I am neither a great reader and nor is my taste all great but some books are very close to my heart. Here is the list.

1. Waiting for Godot- (Samuel Beckett)..where nothing happens twice, where you don't know whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel at all and even if it is..you don't know what to do with it. I can write a book on this play for its emptiness rings through all of my being.
" We always find something eh Didi..to give us the impression that we exist"
"Yes yes, we're magicians"

2. To Kill a Mockingbird.(Harper Lee) For I want to spend my life trying to be one tenth of the person Atticus Finch was.
“Atticus, he was real nice."
"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

3. Mrs Dalloway (Viginia Woolf) For some reason I have always identified deeply with Woolf and her stream of consciousness. She expresses the deepest fears of my heart.
"She felt very young, at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything, at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day."

4. Chokher Bali-(Tagore) Its sad that I can't read the original work in Bengali but I love this work by Tagore for its bold theme, for its expression and its insight into the complexities of human mind and sexuality.
“It is easy to drown yourself effortlessly into that which is truly profound and do no realise its true worth. And since the restless illusion which brings no pleasure even if you drain it to the dregs lead us by the nose and makes us dance a merry dance to its tune and we take it to be the lost desirable thing”

5. Look Back in Anger- (John Osborne)- The play conveys the disillusionment and frustrations of the ruined youth in the post war era. The kitchen sink realism at its best.
"I suppose people of our generation aren't able to die for good causes any longer. We had all that done for us, in the thirties and the forties, when we were still kids. ...There aren't any good, brave causes left."

6. A House for Mr. Biswas- The best dark comedy I have come across till yet. It has those moments when you laugh in agony. Brilliant is my word for it.
“attributed the decay of Hindu society in Trinidad to the rise of the timorous, weak, non-beating class of husband.”

7. Any work by Anton Chekov- I would have stalked this man and proposed him if he were alive.

8. Serious Men- (Manu Joseph)- Another great dark comedy. The sarcasm can bite through your flesh and yet you'll laugh.
"From the point of view of pure chemistry, it is more miraculous to make wine into water than water into wine. But he did not do that. Because if he had gone to someone's house and converted their wine into water, they would have crucified him much earlier. He knew, Jana. He knew making water into wine was a more popular thing to do.”
9. Man's search for Meaning- Viktor Frankl- A chronicle about survival at the Auschwitz concentration camp and a slap on the face of everyone who thinks their life isn't worth living. Including me.
“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”

10. The Wandering Falcon- (Jamil Ahmed)- A book that dwells on the lives of the frontier tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan and their struggles with the monster of modernization and boundaries. Both the man and his work are deeply awe inspiring.
“...One lives and survives only if one has the ability to swallow and digest bitter and unpalatable things. We, you and I, and our people shall live because there are only a few among us who do not love raw onions.”

Brevity has never been my strength. :)

The Shweta Basu scandal shames me. Here's why.

I remember the movie Makdee vividly. I remember being in awe of the little girl delivering such a good performance. I remember her as the bubbly kid in Kahani Ghar Ghar ki and Kutumb and Iqbal, and I was no less than shocked when I heard the news of her being involved in the sex scandal. I am truly ashamed of what happened. Not because what she did, but because of what we did to her.

Marvel at the irony. A girl with promising talent turned out to be a woman who had to sell her body for money. Indeed the choice she made in desperation were wrong. But is she to be blamed alone? Why did the profession of prostitution lure her? Its because beyond the curtains of the high and mighty Indian values, morality and culture, lies an ugly world of hypocrisy, exploitation, lust, violence and perversity. The world which still treats women as objects of sexual satisfaction and household maids. Would prostitution thrive as a profession if every man was as faithful and holy as he proclaims to be? Every evil exists in the society because it is allowed to. Prostitution, sex trade, human trafficking, drug abuse, they are all, the illegitimate children of society. The society has given birth to them, the society sustains them, albeit secretly but will never own it up. Our roots as a culture have rotten and decayed. We are sustaining an illusion by the convenience of the option to ignore.

Indeed that has become the hallmark of us. We always chose to ignore and yet we never fail to judge. Just to cash on the sensationalism of this piece of news, the media without a trace of conscience and sensitivity splattered Basu's name all over the news papers and tv channels. What about the men who were her clients? What about the man she was caught with? Where are their names? Why have their identities not been made public? Are they less culpable of the crime? Why should this woman spend three months in a remand home getting scarred for life while these men, these rich, influential men sit in their drawing rooms with their families and call her a whore? Why is there no such institution for them. Where they learn to curb the desire of their loins and learn to treat woman as human beings?

We express horror at rape and hold out candle light vigils and marches, yet almost 100 women in India are raped everyday. We upload facebook statuses claiming women's rights and freedom, yet a hell lot of our abuses are connected to mothers and sisters. Do we have the right to judge Basu? Are we evolved and mature and holy enough to do that? Do we have the right to violate her right to privacy and permanently scar her psyche and life? Just to fulfill our hunger for gossip? Basu sold her body for money. What is the quintessential item girl of Bollywood doing? Why does the public hoot and whistle when the song "Main toh tandoori murgi hun yaar, ghatkale saiyan alcohol se" is playing to the thumkas of Kareena Kapoor? The line translates into something like "I am just flesh, consume me with alcohol". There are complaints that Bollywood is a fence sitter in Basu's case. What else can it be? Its good they are silent. The self proclaimed messiahs who tell you the importance of being human and satyamev jayate. Because the heroines of their films don't go far beyond item numbers and skimpy clothes. It would be a laughable irony if they were to speak for Basu's rights. Don't blame Rani Mukherjee for staying mum on the issue even when she played the role of a cop who is out to bust human trafficking. Poor woman had to be "Mardaani" to make a mark.

To the Indian men. Should you be talking about the rights of rape victims and victims of human trafficking when you do not have the courage to marry one of these women? Should you be talking about the emancipation of women when you hardly fail to check out a woman's "front" and "behind".
Should you talk about the girls "without characters" when you practically can't exist without pornography? Let us cease to be the hypocrites we are. Let us only speak up when we have the courage to follow up on our words. Our society has been nourished on the double standards for women. It is ingrained in the grooves and ridges our cerebral hemispheres.  And we have a very very very long way to go to make ourselves better people.

Until then, we can only apologize to Shweta Basu for what we have made of her.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mother and Child

There is this little demon
Clinging to my back
His grey flesh fused to mine.
He whispers in my ears
A lullaby of my fears
And gnaws on my spine.

I am his mother he says
That I have nourished him
In the womb of my gloom.
That I have held him close
Each haunted night
In the abandon of my room.

I have nursed him with tears
He was cradled in my fears
I have taught him how to hold
I have taught him how to climb
I have fed him my despair
Till my nerves went cold.

Can you now cut him away
Without bleeding me to death?
His venom fills my heart.
My blood burns in his veins.
Without ceasing my breath,
Can you pull us both apart?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Confluence

The politics keeps changing its name to Prayag, then Allahabad, then Prayag, then back to Allahabad. The Allahabadis couldn't care less. It doesn't change the pace of their easy life, doesn't give extra limbs to their standard ambitions, doesn't make them any more or less of the Hindus and Muslims they have been their entire quiet lives.
Sangam had always given her the answers. "Where the waters meet" she recalled the Sadhu's words. She went to the banks. It was unusually quiet. Her grandmother was saying her evening prayers. A few other souls were praying to the confluence to bless them. The Mahakumbh vibrated with chants and devotion of millions of people from all over the country. Washing their clothes and sins in the same silent waters. And the water goddess embraced them all, her beloved children coming for redemption and salvation or for the final rest.

She put her feet in the freezing waters. Strange what urgent devotion can do to human beings. Millions take their holy dips here not minding the coldness, not minding the filth, often religiously contributing to it. But faith is ever triumphant. Nothing happens to the devotee, except when stampedes happen.
The waters have got little to do with it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


He entered the room and saw her sleeping. Quietly, he took off his shoes so as to not make noise and wake her up. The afternoon was humid and oppressing. It was strangely calming to see her sleep peacefully for a change. Insomnia had ruined her life in ways more than one. He laid down next to her and felt the urge to hold her hand but checked himself. He really didn't want to wake her up. So he just decided to make do with looking at her, adoring her, listening to her breaths, marveling at her beauty.
Then she turned to the other side.

While he felt sad about not being able to adore her now, a gentle smile crawled on her lips. She had heard him come, take off his shoes and lay down next to her. She had heard his efforts to not wake her up. She had felt him looking at her. And she had felt very shy. She turned because she was afraid that he would see her blush.

In that moment, she had forgiven him for all that was past. She let go of everything that had given her ugly scars that wouldn't go. She felt it all fade into oblivion. 

After twenty six years of marriage, he had fallen in love with her.

Maybe its never too late.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Wandering Falcon and the man who saw it.

My trip to the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2013 was one of the most memorable ones I have ever had. I was there with my some of closest friends, I had a brilliant time and at this event I met the most wonderful and awe inspiring people. The first session I attended was The Wandering Falcon with Jamil Ahmad, a retired Pakistani Civil servant who was the author of this beautiful work on the lives of the tribal people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. While he described his work to a hopeless moderator, I saw the brutal and heart wrenching beauty of his work..I saw it even before I read it..solely by the way he described it. Seldom have I had such a great urge to read a book. I ran and brought the book within minutes of the session's conclusion. 

Then I became greedy..what if I could get him to sign it. Wouldn't this copy become priceless then..I gathered my courage to step into the corridor and go stand to next to the man. I was in complete awe of him. He was sitting there on a teak chair, smoking a cigarette and giving interviews to ladies from news channels who sounded or tried to sound familiar with him. He glanced at me and the book in my hand. Then he smiled and said, "Give me a moment.", I smiled back sheepishly and mumbled something like "Its absolutely fine Sir". He then wrapped up the conversation with these woman sounding a little irritated as their questions seemed to have lost the point. As the crew took his leave, he then turned to me and said, "I am sorry, I shouldn't be smoking in your company." and before I could protest he rubbed and extinguished the cigarette in his white bone china ash tray. Its been a while I have met such a gentleman. He then smiled and asked for the book. Then he looked up at me and asked my name. In that moment I realized that I had never seen such eyes as his. Like he had entire galaxies in them, I can not describe their color. A hue of jade green, a hue of grey and even a tinge of yellow. He had they eyes you'd never forget once they had met yours.

When he had autographed my book, I leaned down on one knee and asked him about how he felt about the attempted modernization of the tribal people. He said. "Lets get a chair for you. Sit comfortably and then we shall talk." I stopped him from and told him that I don't want to take too much of his time and that I was perfectly comfortable.After my repeated assurances, he gave up. Then he told me how he felt about these people and how he felt that their way of life was an inseparable part of their identity. And how we should not judge other people's happiness and state by our own parameters. How modernization tramples upon a lot of things in its visionary path ahead. He seemed like a man from a different world and a different time. He asked me if I felt the same about the tribal people in India and I confessed that even though I thought that intervening in their lives was a bad idea, I had never really given this subject a very serious thought before today. He nodded and said, it was understandable taking in account the fact their world seems to be a different one from ours so the sense of disconnect is natural. While we were talking, another journalist came up for an interview. He asked her if she could come after sometime as he was talking to me. I can not express the surprise I felt. This man was ready to put off a formal professional interview for a conversation with a stupid woman who knew nothing. I felt an overwhelming sense of respect for him and I decided not to trespass on his kindness. So I took his leave. He said it was no issue and that the journalist lady will not mind coming later. But I told him I wanted to meet him again someday hopefully, after I had read this book and realized his perspective completely. He smiled and said alright. "Then I hope to see you again after you've read it" handing the book back to me which had comfortably rested in his lap all the while we were talking, like a child in the lap of her father. I took it gratefully and hoped that I would see him again.

He left a lasting impression on me, both in terms of the man he was and the book he wrote. And as I saw his name in the obituary today. I felt the loss to be almost personal. I felt deeply saddened. The world always suffers an irreparable loss when a great writer dies. And in the past few months, this loss has been too much.Though I felt very sad at the passing away of Marquez and Gordimer, the death of Jamil Ahmed understandably brought me greater sorrow. For I had sincerely harbored the hope of meeting him again and telling him how much I loved his book and how fiercely I had come to agree with his point of you. The conversation I had with him is and will always be one of the most memorable conversations of my life.

I hope he is resting in peace. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Story of a Night

My dream sat on a drifting cloud
To have a word with the moon
Sang the loony song aloud
Surrendering too soon.

My hope sailed on a drowning ship
To reach the silver shore
The waters reaching down to rip
The happily ending lore.

A temple lies in ruins now
That God died a while ago
The mortals said they couldn't allow
His tombstone below.

A ghost packed up his smoke and laugh
And left the haunted house
Left some cheese on his behalf
To console the lonely mouse.