Sunday, March 15, 2015

The loss

I wanted to heal you. I knew you you were broken. Were  fragile. I knew you were delicate. But your calmness stirred the storm in me that blew away the dust that had settled on me. And my own broken pieces fell out. You bled. I saw. I watched in misery but couldn't reach you. I too was bleeding, internally. You pulled away while I sat there. I called out but the glasses were drawn. Already. I thought maybe if I shout loud enough it'll pierce through the shell. Maybe if I wanted you enough you'd want me back. And I'd become that innocent boy again. The one who believed in happy endings after all. But maybe it's not in destiny of the desert rose to bloom. Maybe it's supposed to be just an irony. 

I wanted to be wanted. The desire to be desired.  The longing to be longed for. The hope for a spring. But sometimes the winters just settle in. Sometimes the pain becomes so heavy that you can just wait. Wait for the past to become the future again. But then time doesn't go round in circles. It just moves on. 

I held my hand to touch you to caress the wounds. But couldn't reach you. And i suddenly feel hollow, as if something has snapped, something has gone missing suddenly. I thought it was heartache and then I felt my hands go wet. Blood was soaking my clothes. I knew the texture, but the smell was a little familiar, a little known. I had forgotten how my blood smelled. But this time, it had a different odour. Maybe it was your blood mixing in it, or maybe I just have bad memory. We kissed, through the blood, through the tears, through the smiles, through pain, through darkness. 

And then you were gone. 

And now here I am. Numb. Sad. Stunned. Silent. The heart becomes so heavy that it pulls you down. Every passing moment you're dragged further down the endless pit. You keep falling. Hoping that somehow the fall will alleviate the pain. That somehow there'd be magic wand after all. With one swoosh the lines would change. 

But the destiny doesn't change. It stays. It's written. What you just control is how to win. Or how to lose. The loss you said was yours. I wonder how that could be true. Because all you've lost is me, what I've lost, is hope. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Death of a Spring

The window of vulnerability opens to let in the spring. But vultures sitting on the dried branches poke their beaks inside to suck out the hope that had just sprung up from the hinges. Blood is spilled, a hope defiled, a dream insulted. The contours of the tear spilled on the skin looks for suppleness back. The skin's dryness digs out the blood to quench its thirst, only to realize it's poison for the wound.

The warmth that took eons to return to surface from the deep trenches seeps to the floor. The painful process of bleeding and clotting is starting. Will these be the last drops of warm blood that remained in the veins of this ill-fated tree or is there still a hope for another spring? Bleeding is a short lived worry, the tree knows. Bleeding is the wound's angst, it's fury over the violation of the sanctity. It's the slow delicate process of clotting that brings the shudders. The tricks that it plays on you. Alluring you into scratching it away sooner than when you ideally should.

Was this not the spring that it thought it would finally bring himself back from the dried existence. Allured into thawing, it now ponders as the claws of the vulture pierce through its flesh. As the blood drips, it looks into the vulture's eyes. And wonders how could it see the keeper in them. Spun around the bird's nest were the dreams of the spring.

Maali mila bhi to jaadon mein..

Perhaps the tree didn't need a dove. It first needed a keeper. And a keeper did knock on the dried bark a few moons ago. All the water he poured on the ground to revive the dried tree did nothing. The tree further went into hybernation from the cold of the water and looked coldly at the gardener. The more efforts he put on it, the more tree would look at it wearily, fully aware of the wastefulness of the efforts.

And now that the spring is here, there is no one to water the tree, no one to sow the new seeds. The garden longs for its keeper, but there is no one. The dew of the morning has ushered in the grass. There are also bushes growing up here and there. The garden loves them too. But it knows the difference between itself and its distant cousin forest. It requires nurturing, patience and a caretaker that understands the seasons.

Helpless, it looks at the branch on which the vulture now sits. Perhaps, this is what should happen when you seek intimacy in the eyes of a stranger. When you are upset with your own happiness. When in the arms of lust you seek love, not the ever lasting kinds, but even a temporary semblance of it makes you content. Longing for the caressing feathers of dove, the tree had exposed its vulnerability.

And now, as the claws tighten around the branch, the beak too works its way through the skin and sends the tree into a spasm. A pain so excruciating, a wound so fatal and a heart so heavy that gravity seems to be finally winning over the might of the tree.

Yes, it is the same tree that survived the harsh winters. It is the Spring that it is now succumbing to.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Let Truth be Told.

"For a long time I thought that God is the truth, but gradually I have realized that Truth is God" said a man who believed truth was absolute, unidimensional. Maybe he was right, maybe truth is the final word. Or maybe he was confusing truth with facts.

Facts laced with context is what I would call reality. But would it be safe to label is truth? What would you call our history textbooks? Facts? Truth? Reality? Interpretation? Where winner takes it all, the boundaries between the definitions start to blur.

Truth, they say is pure. But how pure is pure? How sacred is the incomplete truth? Now if truth is an absolute, how can it be partial or complete? It depends on who and how many do you ask for the truth.Truth too perhaps exists in layers. Death is absolute, life is not. So does that make living any less real? Can something that is real, be a lie?

So what is truth ever complete? I say, who cares! We all deal with enough questions in a day to add one more to the bucket. We deal with our truths, our lies, our pride, our guilt. We carry with us what is dear to us, truth or a lie. We tell it over and over again and it starts sounding as if it truly happened. Our lies merge with our desires which we hope will transform into some kind of a truth one day.

Some random mumbling that one was! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


For all the avoided truths, for all the lies wasted
The dreams changed their course, the life switched its path
Stuck in the maze of could have, should have, would have,
I follow hope like a musk deer.

I ran so hard that I lost direction
I dived so deep I turned shallow.
I look behind for what has been left behind,
I look around for what has been carried away.
Here I am, left with myself.
Walking in the void, nothing touches me, nothing catches my attention.
Hung between the coordinates, I glide through the nothingness.
I am a man without a fate, a journey without a destination.

I watch in silence as the curtains fall
and the stillness creeps in.
I reach out with my hands
and all I can scratch is emptiness stuck in my nails.
The plaster of the past doesn’t come out,
it remains and makes its presence felt.
Something alien, something that doesn’t belong.
something that should be gone. but doesn’t go..

The magic in the moments is not gone
but the moments are not magical anymore.
Love stories were always to end in happiness.
But the credits are rolling now n smiles are yet to follow.
I always believed in happy endings. I always was a masochist

My life, as I had dreamt of;
My dreams as I had seen them;
My vision, as I had imagined it to be;
My imagination, that went haywire.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rain and Snow, Snow and Rain!

One falls thunderously, while the other comes surreptitiously.

Rains, when they come, announce their arrival beforehand.. The first drop never surprises. That't why sometimes it touches the longing in someone's eyes or liberates the song from someone'e lips. But when snow falls, it's silent everywhere. It arrives and settles down quitely in the courtyard, it sleeps off on your window without waking you up. It isn't shortlived. It stays despite the sunlight the next day, while the rain runs down the drain.

Burf aur baarish. Baarish aur burf.

Ek girti hai garaj k baras ke, ek aati hai raat mein chupchup ke.Par burf theher jaati hai.. Baarish ki tarah kshanbhangur nai hoti. Paani to beh jata hai, barasta hai, bhigota hai aur fir apna raasta dhund leta hai.. Burf dheere dheere risti rehti hai.. jahan raat bhar baarish teen ki chat pe naachti gaati rehti hai to burf pal-pal aangan mein apna dera failaati rehti hai..

This rain, it washes away all the mistakes I have made. It carries them away into the ocean where they finally rest. But hereon, the rainwater gathered in my courtyard refuses to hide any more of my pain. It throws back the reflections of all my scars that the rain couldn’t wash away. The downpour has washed away all dirt that lay on the surface, but has revealed what lied beneath.

But my snow does nothing of this. Though it doesn’t wash away anything, it brushes everything under it. It doesn’t turn into a mirror and becomes judgemental. It lets me be. But I know it transitory, for once the snow goes away, everything will return to redeem itself. The past is going to be the future again. So I must prepare for what is imminent. And like always, I don’t have an answer to my own queries.

So I stand at the horizon and look out. There is no one here and I see nothing but the clouds. The only sound I hear is of my own breathing. I know somewhere behind these clouds You must be plotting Your next move. Thinking if You should splash me with the deluge of your wrath and stir the dead life in me. Or would You rather pacify the storms inside me with the snow. I know not what You will decide.

Come drench me, I wish to cry. It’s been long, since I did. Come heal me with Your snow. The bleeding has been going on for long.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Am high..

Living in exile home looks like a distant dream,
No boat in sight, I look at the running stream.
One day, maybe one day I'll wander far enough to find a bridge,
One day, maybe one day in this desert I'll spot a ridge.

Life, as we know it. Love, as we want it.
In all their forms, hidden or shown.
In all their shades, bright and dull.
In all their expressions, subtle and loud.

I loved, and I lost, but at least the cycle is now complete.
I haven't lost faith, but love somehow looks now obsolete.
I know not what I write, for i have no sight,
I know not how I look, but i know i have a blight.

For now am high on love, on lust, on the unspoken assurances, on the broken promises.
I survive on the unshed tears, on the infectious smiles.
I mourn the future that will never be, on the past that will never be the future, I mourn the destiny deleted.
Am intoxicated with that longing and long for that longing itself.

Jo khatam hoke bhi na khatam ho, ye kaisa anjaam hai..
Jo padh ke hum samajh hi na payen, ye kaisa paigham hai.
Dhundte rahe hum unhe har chehre mein barson,
Jisse ek akhir baar milne ki arzoo thi, unki yaad ko ye akhri salaam hai.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The Autumn has come. A period that tells you that the rains have done their job. They have relieved you of the scorching summer heat that you were burning in. And now the time has come to give way to the winters. Cold and dark winters. When those very rains which brought joy mean more gloom. When the drench that you were craving for a little while earlier sends shivers through you.

When the sunlight turns golden and brings a sad shimmer on everything it kisses. When the wind through your hair tickles your earbuds. When all you feel like doing is to sit and look at the landscape endlessly for it reflects on what has passed by..

I sit at your banks O Neva, and look into your eyes and see myself. And everything that has flown throw me. Sometimes I was the one rowing myself around you, and sometimes I was just drifting according to your flow. Sometimes you tried to dissuade me from going where I was going, sometimes you cheerfully sprinkled water on me. Looking at my past in your eyes, I now realize that you were watching over me all the time. You recorded everything for this autumn. Perhaps you saw it that one dusk, I shall sit on your banks, my feet hanging just over you and my eyes blank yet looking for some answers when they stare in yours. I look at you and see how far I have come. My life is just like yours perhaps. They started from somewhere far away. From a terrain that is completely different from this. And your journey has been a short one as well, but not without a few sharp turns. When both of us left what we once stood for and changed course completely. While I look into your eyes, I know you understand me completely.

And then a leaf slaps me on the face disrupting this little romance. I take it in my hand and look around to find where it came from. And I see a tree standing in the middle of the park. Its leaves turning into all colors, only the green is missing. But it wasn't always so. Just a few weeks ago it was full of life.. So you say to me Neva. But it is more pessimistic than you. In your depth you swallow the shallowness of seasons. You tell me that you will continue to flow endlessly. Looking at you I never come to know if you are bustling with warm joy or splashing the chill of cold water. But you carry everything with you so effortlessly. Unless the winters freeze even the last drop of warmth in you. But that doesn't last for so long, or does it?

These ducks that swim in you also deceive me. They look so calm, so much in control. They never let it be known to me how vigorously they are struggling underneath to stay afloat. How their feet are endlessly paddling for them to display such serenity.

That is why I like this autumn laden tree. It tells me what the reality is. It doesn't deceive me. When I see its yellow drying leaves, I know next comes the winters. Cold and dark winters. Some leaves are still not dry, but the life that ran through them is gone. What is left is reminiscent of what once existed. The softness is only to smoothen the transition to harshness of the cold. The leaves are still hanging to the tree for now, but the bond is broken. Every gush of air takes away a few. The same leaves that refused to leave the side of the tree in good times, are now deserting it. And it stands helpless, looking at each falling leave with cold eyes. What in the world he would not do to pick them up again. But it knows that he wouldn't be able to. So through the cold eyes it smiles and starts the preparation.

Autumn gives the tree some time to gear up for dark and gloomy days ahead. It prepares for the separation and loneliness. For the leaves won't return till the next spring. And even when they do, they won't be the same ones. It's the tree alone that faces the piercing winds of winters. It alone protects life deep inside it, so that when spring comes it can welcome the warmth of colors as if the winters never came. For this, he needs to harden itself. It needs to become dry for a while, for otherwise it will never be able to see another spring. It must retract the traces of life from its surface and place them safe deep inside itself. And if that means bowing down to Mr. Darwin, so be it. Let a few branches break down. Let a few become so lifeless that return of life to them is obviated. But the tree shall stand and come to life next spring. But it is alive even now. This dryness, this turning into yellow is also a part of its life. Strange how trees have the power to almost die and then be reborn the next spring.

But not all leaves on all trees depart from their trees. Sometimes they just keep clinging to the tree. They never leave. The tree fears this more. What would happen when the winters would come? What may happen if the winters decide to just stay and don't give way to the spring? What would happen if the tree hides the life so much deep inside him that it can't reach out to it itself later? Or the worst thought.. what if it doesn't make it through the winters?

The questions are many, answers very few. But I am not in a hurry, neither is this tree nor are you, Neva. So let me soak in this autumn a little more. For now, we are the soulmates to each other. Giving to each other warmth, comfort and hope..

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Words are all I have. The only thing I know. They are the healers I know, they are the weapons as well. I chose them, I use them. Sometimes to make you fall in love with me, sometimes to hurt you so badly that you bleed. The words I say are many. Some celebrate the death, while others mourn the life. But, all have a purpose. I give them the purpose. I want them to work as I wish. Me, their master. Me, their slave. With great tenderness I chose some words so that you forget your worries, while with ruthless fury I throw curses that give you fresher ones.

But these words are all I have. I have no intellect, but only words of wisdom. I have no hope, but words of motivation. I know no humor, wit is all I use. When I sleep, I think of which words my dreams would spell out for me that night. When I wake up, I long to find my word again.

I squeeze them out of the silences of my nights, i pick them up from clamour of the mobs.I read them from silent smiles, i see them in sunlight reflecting from your hair. When i talk to you, I read your mind, and then choose my words. I do that because I want you to be affected. I start with the subtle ones, using the silences and sighs as punctuations. Carefully chosen, so as to make a deeper impact. But if you fail to register or appreciate my words, I would grow louder and choicer with what I need to say. I pick the most ornamental of the words, weaving around you the perfect net. I add enough sadness in the joints so that you stay hooked. I add irony at which you may smile. I add every ingredient that i know you like. To make you stay for a moment longer.

But when I find that my words are losing the grip over you, I am left with no option but to turn foe. I yell with rage, I burn with retribution. After all, all this was for you. How could you ignore and be indifferent. I chose the words consciously. But I meant each one of it. I believed in every single word. With all my heart I gave emotion to them making them real. Just like magic. So I must do what I do. I must inflict upon you my final blow. I must attack with you the most hurtful weapon. Guilt. I put in all the melancholy I have ever known, I put all the sorrows I have heard around me. I make others' stories as mine, so that I can make you feel wretched. So that when you fall asleep in the night, all you can think is how bad you were to me.

And then you return. And I have words for that too. My words tell you that I have forgiven you, but hide that I have not forgotten anything. And for eternity my words play slaves to me. At my commands they make you fall for me, sometimes hate me. They make you laugh, and they make you feel miserable.

But I really don't know if the reality is different. If they have in fact captured me. If they control my emotions and intent. If they are actually ruling my imagination. If they use me to unleash themselves. Perhaps am indeed playing puppet in the story woven by the words. I would never be sure. But what I know is that you'll never love me. But I want you to love my words.

Because words are all I have.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Ever wondered whats worse? For the evil to drop by unexpectedly or to have a warning beforehand and then await its imminent arrival?

I was quite happy with the unexpected off that I got today. Slept till late, had a great breakfast and then ventured out for lunch. That was good as well, and I returned to my room. Tugged myself warmly in the bed, switched on the music and picked up Potter. Today is a good day, or so I thought.

As I entered the bed, i felt a little quack.. Well, I just sprained my back. I thought never mind that, I have a whole day to rest. A few pages later, it came suddenly. The warning, I mean. The vision started to melt in front of my eyes. I knew this feeling. I knew what was going to happen next. I could see everything as a whole, but nothing in particular. It was as if everything would just decide to blur out the moment I decide to look at it. It wasn't a good sign. I knew it too well. I knew how the rest of my day was going to be now. Well, if you don't know what am talking about, it is my bete noir, Migraine.

I remember the first time I blacked out, I thought I might have rubbed my eyes too hard. Followed immediately with a sickening headache, I saw no connection. Then in a few months, when it returned I panicked. Vision blurring out wasn't a good sign at all. Wary, I confided in my sis, who told me it was a 'simple' case of migraine. Still I went to see a doctor, who asked me to get a MRI done. Alone, in the morning I reach the hospital and enter the wing where the test had to be carried out. A family was present there. A mid-age man was to go through it before me. His wife and children all were cheering him up. N here I was, all alone. But, my case was not worrisome at all, I told myself. Thankfully, it was indeed the case. The doctor termed it as a classical case of a rare form of migraine. He tried to make me feel better by saying that it wasn't a disease at all, but a disorder. What it implied, I found much later. It merely meant that it can't be cured, it needs to be 'managed'. Whatever it meant.

Since then, there have been numerous such migraine 'attacks'. When the vision starts to melt, it just makes me shiver with anticipation. I gulp down my medicine and then wait to see what happens next. Will it come or not? If the headache does come, how bad will it be? Will it surpass the worst I have gone through? Or will it be just a minor one? I just start hoping that whatsoever it is, the vision get back to normal. And then the abstract feeling of a lost vision starts to crystallize in one side of the head. One side starts to feel as if something is getting fried inside the skull. That something is trying to burst out. I feel like cracking open my skull and taking it out!! Gradually, as I get a grip on what am seeing, the intensity of the pain starts to climb up. I close my eyes, and start praying. No God, pls no! Let it be over soon. I grab another disprin and wait to see if it works, and well, and how fast.

They come and just drain everything out of you. It feels, you are not gonna make it through without banging your head against the wall. But after a few of them, you know its going to be alright eventually. I believe thats what managing a migraine means. Knowing that the throbbing feeling you have in your brain, will die eventually. That you just need to be patient. That the skull-cracking, piercing pain is not eternal. That you'll soon be able to move your head without the pain almost killing you at the slightest of a movement.

You might think, that why am I writing all this. trying to gain some sympathy maybe? I frankly don't have a clue. But, alone in a hotel room, away from everyone, lying crippled in the bed for 4-5hrs, I didn't know what else to do.

Well, returning to the thought I started with, I think having no warning is better. It merely brings the misery to the doorstep even before it is supposed to come. And as suddenly I had thought to start writing it, I am suddenly clueless as to what to write more. And yep, am feeling much better now. Just a small lingering 'manageable' feeling in the head, which I know will not go away till tomorrow morning :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dilli meri jaan!

Delhi. A city, a history, a book, a poem, a beloved! Delhi means to me this and much more. Lived for most part of my life in Delhi, I long to return. To return to the warmth that I have always felt in its embrace. Like a prisoner in exile, every night I sleep off hoping to wake up in my home; every morning I wake up hoping that it was all a dream and I never left Delhi.

When I look back (recently turning 27, i think i can use thsi phrase now), I feel I have grown up with the city. Evolved, matured, come of age...

I remember my childhood spent in Chandni Chowk. Those narrow lanes, the chaat, the golgappe, the tikki! Everytime a guest would come home, I was made to rush to get the stuff, custom made acc to the taste palats of the guest.. sometimes very spicy, sometimes not so spicy. Living in the joint family with all my uncles, aunts & cousins, fighting for space for myself physically and in the lives of elders. I remember being pampered by Amma! Amma, the one who always loved me unconditionally, who cried everytime some elder scolded me, who cooked all the most delicious foods for me. N then the festivals, how the bazaars would lighten up and gloss over all the decaying buildings for Diwali, the Ramlila, or how would the scent of Sewayi would give flavor to the season of Id!

Having a large extended family does indeed bring some advantages, especially in childhood. You get an army of cousins! N since most of them resided in Delhi itself, it was quite a time we used to have. From excursions to Children's Park, Shantivan, India-Gate, CP, Rail Museum to overnight stays with my cousins in Daryaganj, Bengali Market, Tagore Garden, and elsewhere! All the pranks we played, all the stupid childish secret we shared!

I remember the streets of Lutyen's Delhi where my school was. The excuses we would make to leave early from the school and then hang out in CP. Those giant white pillars surrounded with trees! Escaping to Pallika Bazar to have look at the cheapest stuff and make fun of it! Having milk-shake at Caventer's or HCF at Nirula's! How I used to love the free triple sunday at Nirula's after my results. HCF could never taste as delicious ever after! Those trips with parents & neighbours to Children's Park. Those birthday celebrations at Qazi Hauz with family and with FP (fountain pepsi) in school canteen! The innocent days of just 'liberalized' India. When Pizza meant Nirula's and burger was synonimous with Wimpy's! I remember those years vividly. Those were the years I was growing up along with my Delhi. We were almost mirror images of each other, reflecting in each other the urge to break free, but still bound by ties, rediscovering & redefining morality, loving every moment of the new found freedom.

Post this, started perhaps the best phase of my life. I entered DCE, and we shifted to my father's official acco in south Delhi. I started switching between hostel during weekdays and home on weekends. I had the best of both the worlds. I was exploring a new world, opening my eyes to experiences I had never imagined. Learning so many new things, building my capabilities, taking on challenges! And Delhi around me was changing as well. The city was expanding its horizons as well, concrete roads being made, flyovers coming up, Metro entering the lives of Delhiites. Slowly, and steadily we both were become confident of ourselves, sure that whatever the destiny, we would not be left behind. And surreptitiously, a kind of arrogance was also creeping in. I could see it growing in me, and even around. I was almost another individual now.

When the four year vacation ended, came the time of life when I got busy. I was doing so many things. Just entered the job, trying to prove myself afresh. Meeting so many new people, making friends. A city, where I loved, and lost, and found it again. I remember those years, when I would drive around the city in the night. Aimlessly.. with the windows rolled down, letting the chilly airs pass through me. My cranky radio would never be working well, so I had to give it company for the music to have its effect. I felt in control.

Soon after I joined IIFT and then, I lost track. 2 years just zipped past before I could even take a breath. I just kept running from assignments to projects, from presentations to quizes. Trying to take the take the strings in my hands, but I never could do that. And I lost track. And when the MBA was getting to a close, I saw that so much had changed around me. Some of my friends had already gotten married, my niece had grown up as well from a cute baby-doll to a chatterbox. Most of my friends had changed base and almost no one remained in Delhi. It felt incomplete, but it still felt home.

Delhi was Delhi to a large extent because of the numerous people I met here over the years, some who were bound with me with blood, some whom I befriended and made a part of my life. If I start mentioning them, perhaps it might take a lifetime. But I do hope that each one of you would know what flavor did your presence in Delhi added to it. To all my friends from BVB, DCE, Aricent, IIFT and to all my wonderful cousins, Delhi without you is so unimaginable. I have played with you, laughed with you - sometimes at you, shared with you the zenith & the nadir, dreamed with you, essentially lived with you!

So here I wind up my nostalgic trip. It took a lot of time to complete and a lot many sittings, but am still not satisfied. But I don't think words would ever be able to do justice to the emotions that my city evokes. N here I am miles away from it. Missing its sometimes springy, sometimes misty mornings, missing its familiarity. Someday, and someday soon, I'll return home!

Friday, February 5, 2010


book cover of  Shantaram  by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram! If I were to summarize the book in one word, it would be spectacular or rather unbelievable! There wouldn't be or rather shouldn't be many who like to read and still haven't heard of this masterpiece! It is a scintillating account, part-fact part-fiction of the life of the author Gregory David Roberts and his life in Mumbai, the then Bombay (1980s).

From the moment, the narrator as I would prefer to call him, lands in Bombay to the last page, he brings to life every nook and corner of the city, lifting the curtain that exists between us and the people we see on the street. I couldn't help but notice, how he gives life to the hundreds of people we see on the street, but never bother to think that even they could have a story to tell. He tells the stories of these unknown faces, and with what elan! But this book remains the narrator's story, how he falls in love with everything about the city - the maddening crowd, the taxis, the slums, the mafia, the women. But more importantly how he reclaims himself from his past.

Very few books claim to be thriller and philosophy at the same time, it is one of them. The book takes you to the dark lanes of Bombay, you never knew existed. It talks about everything you already know about Bombay - the mafia, the bollywood, the slums, the muggy weather, the Hajji Ali, the Fort area and above all Leopold's. But then it never stops there. All these come alive and play out their role in the narrative and its a piece of art how they intertwine with each other to give Bombay the flavor it has. Alas, the Thackareys perhaps would never be able to understand what Bombay stands for, not just to the marathi manoos, but to the rest of India as well.

The characters are neatly drawn with most of them having a mysterious streak about them. From the sharp, quick witted Karla to the enigma of mafia don Khader, to the youthful Abdullah, to the sarcastic Didier. The biggest exception is the affable taxi driver and the best friend of the narrator, Prabhaker. It is his simplicity and innocent intelligence that that takes you by the arm and makes you turn page by page. Another of my favorite character was Karla, of course. Most of her lines can easily pass as punchlines and philosophies dipped in sarcasm and brutal honesty. And when she says that being listened to is one the best and dangerous thing in world, I couldn't agree more!

But in the end, the book is about love. Love in all its shapes and forms, for a friend, for a beloved, for a father, for a brother. Unrequited love and the longing, the pain and suffering that it brings. Its about realization of oneself. Its about learning to live on one's conditions and to love unconditionally. If this is what is spirituality, then indeed Shantaram opens the gates to it. The words remain with you long after you have closed the book. Many times in fact you would close the book yourself to grasp what Didier says, what Karla mumbles or what Shantaram realizes throughout the course of the book.

It is indeed one of the best books I have ever read. It creates a different world around you and weaves its magic that bedazzles you and engulfs you. I hope Mira Nair would indeed make the movie with Johny Depp as THE Shantaram Big B as Khader. This story needs to be told. The only grudge I had with this book was its length, it could easily be shorter by about a 100 pages.

The book indeed made me wonder how a foreigner could understand India so well. In fact, at so many times I felt he knew more about us than what we know. He talks about everything good or bad, never being judgemental, or cynical. And when you finally close the book, what remains with you are the author's words and you wonder how true they sound... Sometimes in India, you need to surrender first before you win.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mann mein Ram, bagal mein churri..

Ram. The God. The Perfect man. The warrior king.

But unfortunately, India is one country who shies away from reveling in its own culture. India, where a common man doesn't even doubt if Ram existed. Where still a large portion of the population says 'ram-ram' as a salutation. Where Ram stands not just as a God, but much more than that. He tells us how a man can live perfectly, sticking to his beliefs and following the path of righteousness. No matter how attractive the temptation in the form of Shoorpnakha in disguise, or how grave the danger in the form of Ravana- the demon king.

But we now wish to forget Him. His city, Ayodhya has been reduced to a political battleground. The soil where Ram played and grew up, has been splashed with the bloodshed. No one ever bothered to develop the city. No one thought of starting a ram-rajya there. All they wanted were a few votes. I know Ram is watching and one day He would ask a few questions. He would certainly want to know that if our belief in Him is so firm and doubtless, how can we not believe in His values? How could we kill each other in His name? He would be perhaps kinder to certain Mr. John Lennon, who once said "Imagine a world with no religion; nothing to kill or die for!"

Well, there is another side of the story as well. The story of Ram-Setu. How the politicians of post-liberalized India wish to doubt authenticity of its own literature which dates back a thousands of years. They say Ram didn't build it. I don't wish to comment upon it. But even a simple google search would tell you how beautiful the Ram-Setu looks. Why not rather build it for tourism attraction? Search a little further and you see a solid case in Environmentalist's objections to the proposal to tear it down! The Ram-Setu divides two portions of water where the sea life is different. tearing it down might be very harmful for the ecological balance in the region. The coral reefs would be in danger and so would be the mainland India. Certain reports suggest that it was this Ram-Setu that stood as a wall against the onslaught of the devilish Tsunami waves of 2004 and limited the destruction India had to face.

But a country on its path to industrialization and modernity has to make some hard decisions. Alas, the decision is not to curb inefficiency at the ports, rather than making navigation easier. The focus is not on the corruption that is eating our economy like a termite, but on providing another BIG project where the bureaucracy can mint some more money..

India sure is changing!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Ground Beneath Her Feet - Salman Rushdie

It has taken me exceptionally long to read this book.. Too much was happening around me and within me as well! Approx 3 months to be precise ;) If you allow me, I can boast of having my own book published in this duration!!
Well, being an ardent Rushdie fan, I had very high expectations from it. His last book that I had read was Shalimar the Clown, with which I started this blog! Master of metaphors, God of magic realism that he is, I was hoping to find in this book all the Rushdie masala! Am not sure if am disappointed or not, but it certainly wasn’t one of his best! At best an average!
Thankfully, Rushdie was in the first person narrative in this one, which never fails to add a special feel to the whole story. But what was disappointing was that the narrator from whose eyes the story is seen has hardly any presence in the story. The story, like the two male protagonists, belongs to Vina Apsara! A Madonna of sorts, she is the ultimate ageless diva, loved across the continents. She gives voice to the music of Ormus Cama and fuels the passion in the heart of Rai, the narrator & a photographer. Troubled childhood forces her to come to live in India and grow-up with both these boys. India! A land she hates in the beginning; but falls in love gradually.. not just with India but Ormus as well. Theirs is a true love. Love that the poets talk about, endless, till the end of life and beyond. Vina & Ormus form a rock n’ roll band which is revered across the globe, while Rai becomes an accomplished photographer accidentally. As the story progresses, the lovers come together and separate and then unite again to separate for ever.
After this, Rushdie finally decides to give us a flavour of the magic that he is known for. Surrealism. As the earthquakes begin to shake the earth, Rushdie describes the collision of our world and another world. A world, which is similar to ours, and is different at the same time. The way he has dealt with this part of the story is amazing.
I am still a great fan of his. So great that I hope that someday he visits this blog and reads my request! Please please please make the central pages of your books a bit more interesting. Like all his other books I have read, even this one opened beautifully and ended magnanimously! But the middle part was quite dragging! I hope his latest – Enchantress of Florence is better!
Till I lay my hands on it, I have One Hundred Years of Solitude to accompany me! ;)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jai Ho - Be Victorious!

Its going to be a month soon. I have been lazy all this while.. Wanting to write about it, but then not writing it.. Pushing it away.. But suddenly I realized that I am beginning to forget things about it, losing the euphoria around it..

For the uninitiated, I am talking about our book called Titans of Branding and its launch. It was the result of 15 months of some work on our part and a lot of gas on the part of our guide ;) Hehe.. No, but really I am really thankful to Prof Kirsti Lindberg-Repo to have provided this opportunity! I remember our recruitment last year in the MoS class.. How skeptical we were about what to expect from this research project. None had a clue, all we wanted was some quick money, maybe about 100 euros! Little did we expect that it would culminate into an auditorium, fully packed (almost), clapping for us! Not even when we came to know for the first time that its going to be published as a book, did we really understand what it meant!

I am soo tempted to use the phrases like "It all started with a BIG idea" etc etc.. But I know for sure, that Esha and Apramey would die laughing on it! (We started our launch presentation with this line). Sitting in the lobby of Hotel Qutab, trying to come up with ideas, filling in the occasional silence by pulling each other's legs, or speaking in hindi, so that our guide doesn't have a clue that we are talking about her! Vividha getting really irritated with all the gas floating around, while Apramey providing in suffieciency! ;) To be honest, it was fun, real fun! Despite the graphic designer whom I had to deal with to get the right figures, right look and feel of the book. He was quite a story! I remember looking at him unbelievingly, while he was trying to see which color fits Kone CEO's pic better! He hadn't slept last night and had become totally.... I remember that day, it was perhaps the most demanding of all.. Apramey busy elsewhere ;) , Esha & I unwell.. but all doing 100s of things that were left. The book was to go for printing the next day, and at one time it all looked impossible! But we pulled through! And I must say, we pulled through beautifully!

Eventually it was all worth it.. Standing in the lobby of our publisher, Gummerus, waiting eagerly to see the book. And when Heli put a copy into my hands, I was speechless. Holding the book for the first time, I felt overwhelmed! I knew how it would look n all, but still to touch it, flip the pages, see my name on the cover, my photo at the back.. I really was speechless. I Esha & Apramey were looking at each other, all smiles.. Trying to just grasp in the feeling! To be honest, I was actually feeling choked with emotion... Called up Ma & papa immediately! Couldn't even talk to them! I was so so happy!!!

N then the day came when the world would see our book and
comment upon it. We all were soooo nervous! Though we had practiced quite a lot, but addressing a firang audience, and that too from the boards of companies like Nokia, Kone etc.. I was developing cold feet! When I saw the packed auditorium in the morning, I just asked... "Are all of these people here to listen to us???". That too, after paying quite a high participation fee!!

N suddenly we heard the loudspeaker playing "Jai ho!" Yes guys, thats how we landed on the stage.. with A R Rehman's music welcoming us.. To be honest, I had never liked the idea.. It was
tooooo dramatic and rather funny.. But that day, looking at the audience, I felt that somehow it helped us in catching their attention! Suddenly, I see people smiling and perhaps thinking.. "Ok, so far so good, now lets c what u gotto offer". And then we started speaking.. One by one.. It went flawlessly! I remember when I was speaking, some of the people in the audience actually were listening as if.. haha..let me not get narcissist! But it looked good! N then the applause! Well, it was quite a applause! I felt soooo proud. How I wished my family was there to witness it. How proud they would have been at that time, I could only imagine!

After the seminar, I was then suddenly asked to sign the book (it was given to the audience). All of us were actually mesmerized and flattered by the gesture.. and then one more such request followed.. and then more.. At one time, it looked surreal! All
three just trying to manage the whole scene.. signing our own books! I din't even know what to write! It would have looked so funny to others, while we three discussed as to what would look appropriate! Haha! Some told us that they watched the presentation in disbelief, some said we were brilliant "stage performers" (???). People just coming and telling us that it went great. Some flattering us to the extent by saying that we were the Titans actually!!! Alas, it all ended eventually, and our 5 minutes of stardom got over! :( But I was quite impressed by the humbleness of all present!

So for all the readers, who would be feeling that this post was in fact a narcissist exercise, here's something fyi.. In the Media Mingle party (???) basically a cocktail party to celebrate the successful launch, I kinda goofed up.. While all the coprorate hotshots were buzy in socializing.. I (standing in the center perhaps)... dropped a glass of champagne! Thadaaam! The sound it made!!! Everyone just fell silent and looked at me! How I wish at moments like these that Dinosors were not extinct and one would emerge to swallow me right away!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

DevD in Delhi-6!

For those who have seen both the movies, I apologize to them for putting both these movies in the same line. Both are I believe complete anti-thesis of each other. But still I saw both movies with eyes wide open. I couldn't believe what I was seeing on the screen. While DevD was showing the generation next, where talking about sex is not taboo, where SRK's Whiskey has given way to ecstasy; Delhi-6 couldn't probably have taken on more cliches than this.

Lemme start with DevD. It was an absolute delight to watch Hindi cinema coming of age. I know the phrase is cliche, but nothing about the movie is. One of the reviews said that it seems that the director showed whatever he felt like, and so he did. The lingo was the one you would actually see around you.. dropping the F word here n there, using Slut to desrcibe even a guy casually. Where sex is not taboo. At times the movie looked a bit abstract, especially during a few songs where 3 men would start gyrating to the wonderful music like the presence of 3 witches of Shakespere. Initially, I was shocked that how could anyone show that on screen. All the 3 actors, Paro, Dev, Chanda couldn't have played it better. I especially loved Chanda! And then am addicted to its music. Keep listening to it in a loop!

And how so much I may nnot want to, I shall have to think about Delhi-6. Disappointment is such an understatement. I was appalled, and enraged. Making a whole movie on something like Monkeyman was a reason enough for me to not like it. Though, initally I was enjoying it very much. Having grown up in Delhi-6 myself, I was getting a childlike pleasure in seeing those areas. But those were only about 5-10 minutes. Then those shots gave way to the artificial sets and the whole smell of the old Delhi was lost. Though all the characters were very good with great artists to help them, but then you need more than good characters to make a good movie. FIrst, the movie got the facts wrong. Monkeyman phenonmenon never happened in old Delhi. It struck east Delhi. N then there was no purpose of the movie. You could see its not going anywhere. And then those in your face morality lessons on caste system, religion, dowry, and what not! I felt like screaming that pplllllssssss spare us the ordeal. And if anyone was expecting a better second half, sorry guys! The monkeyman was being called Hindu from one community on account of Hanuman being a Hindu God, while Hindus accuse the Monkey to be a Muslim terrorist. Thats where I lost all patience. Height if ridiculouness! I was only too happy to see Abhishek dying, deriving a sadistic pleasure, but UTV could not tolerate even that and brought him back to the mortal world after serving him Jalebis in heaven with Amitabh in his most avoidable comeo. The movie is so bad that I have started to avoid one of the finest albums everby Rehman after watching it! I feel like suing Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra!!!

Guys, go see DevD again after watching Delhi-6 if you want to regain faith in Hindi movies. M sure it won't disappoint! You'll like Delhi more in DevD than in Delhi-6 for sure!!