Friday, October 31, 2014

Space, time and melanin

As a five-year-old idiot, his grandma told him that the moon was inhabited by white rabbits. Over the course of following two decades, this kid grew up to become an astronaut with a long-cherished dream to land on our natural satellite. But he’s fast realizing that it’s not going to happen. He might walk in the space upside down like a bat someday soon although that’s not the original plan. He wants to spread his wings and fly towards her. However, only white-skinned people have managed to leave behind a lunar footprint—so far. Perhaps his grandma was right. 

PS: You can read lot finer tales—in case you can't write—over here. Try.

To PR is human

The first rule of a David Fincher film is you just don't shut up about it. You go on and on and on until everybody in your vicinity safely assumes that you have some profit to cut from this uncharacteristic promotion. Fuck them. He's David Fincher. One of the finest filmmakers who ever decided to pick up a camera in order to share his dreams and theories with all the warts intact. The manner in which he questions us, the way we are as an entity, our society and the God that we've created is mindboggling. 
*pauses to breathe deeply*
I don't think there would have been a Fight Club—at least with the awe we look at it today—if a filmmaker of his calibre and patience wasn't there. The novel could have been adapted by anyone but what Fincher did to Chuck Palahniuk's baby was what you'd LOVE to do to your existence. But you can't or won't or shan't or meh. Speaking of meh, why is marriage so overrated? I've said more than enough on this topic and it'd be fair only to let Fincher say/ask what he has to through his latest release, Gone Girl. The three questions  that the film begins with only to address them in the craziest fashion ever before only to end with the same are worth watching this masterpiece. Unlike the question i'm going to ask: What exactly are you waiting for?
I get it.

N.B. Even if you've read the Gillian Flynn novel on which the film is based, you should still watch it. There's no way your mind can beat Fincher's when it comes to imagination. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

After the fall

If you're in love, i know what you're going through. If you're not in love, i understand what you shall be going through. If you don't think you'll ever fall in love, shit happens. Not because i'm saying so but because of the natural order which dictates that that's how it was meant to be. We are made up of love—not mineral, bones, skin or stardust—and we were designed to spread it around. The way dogs selflessly do. Our mere existence serves a screamer in the court of truth; a truth that resides in you and me. No, not blood or oxygen. It's the Big L. From the moment water appeared out of nowhere and from the times living beings had been inchoate, love has guided us. And will continue to do so whether we like it or not. There's a gross misunderstanding that is skillfully enveloping our overexposed generation. We ironically seem to be suffering from attention deficit disorder while craving attention from absolute strangers. Well, it's not attention that we covet. It's much greater than that. But being egoistic, we aren't willing to state the obvious. From above the surface, it looks like we are constantly trying to impress others when in reality, we just want to be loved. Be heard or seen or touched even if that's too much to ask for. It's only when you fall for an individual that your vision broadens wide enough to accept those who loved you all these years without expecting much in return. All of a sudden, the roles are reversed and it's your turn now. All things said and undone, let's hope i'm right and you're wrong. If not, who's going to understand you? I do, not by the virtue of being smart—which i ain't anyway—but by the insouciance of being foolish enough to love the idea of being in love. Yup.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ignorance a disease too?

Last decade when SARS hit Asia before giving birth to sporadic anxiety across the globe, a new trend took place. People were wearing white mask across their face a la Michael Jackson. When the H1N1 dust finally settled down, it became clearer why exactly were the factors causing the disease—let alone a standard cure—not put in order? Turned out big pharma companies had their own sweet interests to take care of. They didn’t give a pill about who died a gruesome death or who survived to watch Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011). Conclusion: Money, not charity, drives these companies. There’s a reason why world’s top-10 pharma companies in the Fortune 500 list are worth more than the rest of the 490 companies put together. In such a sordid scenario, how precisely are we dependent on them to help us fight a monster like Ebola? To put it bluntly, how many more deaths should we presage before a concrete action—aided by scientific temper, not commercial climb—is taken by the world community? If only the powers-to-be declared war on this deadly disease the way they blindly did on terrorism! As of today, 10,000 cases have been registered with half of them already dead and gone. Is this situation a reminder of how disconcertedly weak we actually are in the face of a natural disaster? When AIDS introduced itself, the panic by the usual suspects as well as the indifference by the government complemented each other. But it led to a breakthrough because the sufferers weren’t going to fade away silently, thus enabling the rest a chance at leading a respectable life. What’s happening with Ebola is remarkably different because we don’t see the usual suspects—if at all there is a criterion for infection—or sufferers raising slogan against the apathy displayed towards tackling the problem. What really is going on? I mean, other than a drop in the global production of chocolate?

Sunday, October 26, 2014


With the festive season very synonymous with gifts coming to a draw, one can’t just overlook certain things. At least i can’t. 
For three reasons: 
1. I’m an expert in wasting time on thinking too much about stuff that doesn’t make the darnest of difference to me. 
2. That truth has a pattern attached to it provided we pay attention. 
3. It doesn’t matter. 
Coming back to the topic at hand—no pun intended—why are so we obsessed with gaining and hoarding and piling up our attics? Stuff that we don’t want or need or has any sort of emotional connect. Of course, “to each his own” plays down the whole argument but when it comes to natural resources, “to reap as sown” makes more sense. Where does our sense of detachment and indifference go—which is the case when it comes to human responsibilities—disappear when it comes to sharing stuff with those who don’t have much? In other words, why the fuck are we so selfish? Even a festival as meaningful as Diwali can’t make us introspect is a failure on our part. As an entity called society, we get too busy with ceremonious gestures that…Anyway, this seemingly benign greed is innate and has very little to do with one’s upbringing. Remember the joy we used to feel as a kid when we discovered pockets in our shirts or pants? Sadly, that innocence strays over the course of life as we get more familiar with currency and coins. The space that was once occupied by marbles or trump cards is now occupied by something else. Something material. Something that won’t last long enough and yet would have the audacity to rule our mind and heart. Maybe it’s in human DNA to have before deciding to have more.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Wonderful Pause

Worries accompany a man wherever he goes. It’s a mental orgy he initiates but seldom enjoys. He travels with them in the hope that they’ll abandon him sooner or later. But being selfish, they don’t. Speaking of which, only a friend as selfless as a forest can help him divorce them. Needless to mention, woods can be shamelessly tiring. And strolling can become a time-consuming process that involves a lot of rustling of leaves and halting of feet. Fortunately, it’s worth the effort too because whenever he’s tired enough to sit down on his haunches, he wonders—not worries. 

N.B. A frame is worth a little less than a hundred words. Some of the tales here are worth your not-so-precious time. 

The ultimate pursuit

They say that when you die, nothing matters anymore. Your possessions, your titles, your debts, your legacy, etc. Nothing. In fact, they did a study on this subject and asked deathbed-ridden people—belonging to different backgrounds—what was running through their head. To make matters interesting, a majority of them surrendered the most childish of replies. One emaciated gentleman even said, "I miss the taste of the soup my aunt made for me..." before adding, "I don't even remember the taste!" And he wasn't the only one who made startling but heartwarming confessions about what really mattered to them when they were inches away from a graveyard. 
Which brings us to the questions: What is it that humans pursue? Freedom? Happiness? Peace? Or everything? 
Freedom is something you gain for yourself. Happiness is something you offer others. Peace is something of a personal secret between you and others. 
So what exactly is it? 
If we presume that it's happiness, then why is it so fragmented and prone to change? Why doesn't it stay the way it once was? Or is it so because we tend to place our onus of happiness on others more than ourselves? If so, will we change? If not, how long before we do? People are unhappy everywhere. It's like the greatest pandemic of all time. Never before have so many been unhappy simultaneously. And this despite the bloom of so-called modernity and broadmindedness. Kids are unhappy and so are their parents. Couples—both married as well as unmarried—are dangling in the flux state of ecstasy and depression. Elders are unhappy for reasons best known to nostalgia. People—both online as well as offline—are stuck in a sad mela of their own although they might either shy away from admitting it or pretend to be too busy to even acknowledge it.
This is what i believe.
There is an equal amount of sadness for everyone around us. All human, irrespective of their physical or mental differences. Everybody is sad equally. The amount of sadness you have in your life—believe it or not—equals the amount of sadness in Angelina Jolie's life. Or for that matter, Bill Gates's. Everybody is sad in their own sour way. Even the guy with an eight-inch jumbopenis is bound to as sad as the one with a five-incher. Do you hear that? That's a sigh of relief. I don't know about you but i feel great about my theory. 
But there's a twist in the tale: the amount of happiness isn't equal for all. A Shah Rukh Khan or a Lady Gaga could very well be happier than you or me. The same could be true about that colleague you don't like in spite of several attempts. Even that liftman you didn't give Diwali bakshish to. Yeah, the universe is unfair but it's not cruel. There's a caveat in everything it does or doesn't do. Equal sadness for all but we've got to toil for our share of happiness. In order to crack this code, first decide what are you unhappy about. Is it because of the things you have or because of the things you don't? Once you do that, it'd be much easier to be sad. Or happy. Depending on what you're really pursuing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jai ho

There’s a long-running misconception that prostitution is the world’s oldest surviving profession when it’s not. You know why? Because when we use the term 'prostitution' in this peculiar theory, we’re referring to a woman’s willingness to trade her body for goods. If the conception were fair enough to surmise that prostitution by any gender has been historic—male or female—then i’d have merrily nodded my head along. For several reasons, insofar. One being that i don’t discount the probability of a male selling his physical prowess for material interest. Just like i don’t discount the probability of females dominating males before the latter settled scores. Or for that matter, the probability of a female discovering fire before a male stole the idea and started filling his cavewalls with images that substantiated his version of the truth. 
OK. I digressed as usual. 
But anything’s possible, right?
It’s all theories, right?
Right, but not all of them are right.
So, sometimes, it’s healthy to cross-check what exactly are we believing so blindly. Aren’t we all prostitutes since we deal away the most precious of gifts we have—time—for something so ridiculously overrated as money? Set against such a pitiful setting, who are we besmirch a female with sexist labels? Besides, in prostitution, both the parties involved are whores. Not just the woman who’s actually doing a service to the society. In any case, to her credit, the thin line has blurred between who’s the seller and who’s the buyer.  Just that many a times, the one with a penis fails to remember that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unsound festivity

Last checked it was the festival of light—not sound or chemicals—to be so loud and smoky about. Firecrackers entered the picture because of vested commercial interest from urban merchants. There's nothing Diwali-ish about firing a bomb or launching a silly missile into the sky. Having said that, firecrackers aren't the problem. Inconsiderate assholes with firecrackers are. Yet, people will go ballistic arguing how it's just a matter of few days. It's not. The adverse effect sudden noise has on kids, elderlies, expecting mothers, stray dogs and birds is immense and it doesn't really end even after the festival does, leaving behind the papery byproducts of crackers in the neighbourhood. But who's to explain this to those who feel their Hindutva has been asked to compromise in the name of environmental pollution? For the record, none of the Hindu festivals have anything to do with technology-aided revelry. It's a mere conjugation by modernity that we tend to overlook the actual meaning behind a celebration because we're too busy exhibiting our status in the society. Ever wondered why box of sweets are being distributed by ourselves when there's actually no need for that? Te ones who'd appreciate those boxes are still waiting by the roadside. Which also brings us to the actual meaning of Diwali. The fabulous festivity surrounding it is an ode to the victory of light over darkness, right? Which is, of course, metaphorical. It could very well be the triumph of knowledge over ignorance. Or enlightenment over regression and so on and so forth. But we'll know for sure thanks to the loud noise in the background.

PS: May the light remain in your eyes and the fire, in your belly. Happy Diwali.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weather to stay or leave?

What you can see in the badly shot picture—where the unintended object (building in the background) is better exposed than the intended one (trees in the foreground)—tells a bit about the weather in our city. A tale of confusion perhaps. It's October already after having the hottest September in over seven decades. Asking for a proper winter would be too much but still, cooler nights won't harm either. Of course, posting a paragraph on this climatic disorder won't make a difference but still, a picture is worth a hundred words if a thousand gets boring. The nudist almond tree that you can note seems to be feeling cold while none of its standing peers is willing to shed their greenies yet. I don't know what the point is but that's how it works, right? Leaves are shed while humans pile on thick clothes. As of now, even the former has become more of a rare phenomenon while the latter might not happen at all in Bombay this year around.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A noble crisis

"Let me tell you something. There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man and I've been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time." - Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) 

The above statement is an opinion. And like all opinions, it’s a personal one too. To be fair, it could be true based on the person’s experiences or it could be figmented based on his imagination. Either way, it’s just an opinion. Furthermore, the point he has made is irresistibly sensational. He draws comparisons between being poor and turning rich. As any economist worth his theories would say, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. No offense to them but i feel times are changing and the poor are only getting online. Rich have long gone out of the moral radar. This transition is what industrial revolution has come down to. Which might have something to do with the not-so-silent explosion of e-tail over the recent past. Does nobility have anything to do with one’s status in the society? Contrary to what we are expected to believe, what makes an individual noble is not his reputation but what he does when he’s confronted with a choice to be selfish. Stretching the word, who exactly is noble? The one thriving on/below the sacred line of poverty with material possession equating material loss? Or someone who has hiked the term possession to a new level just because he can click online?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Noise, sound and god

Local trains in our city happen to strike almost every element known to humans. And that includes sound. Pleasant or unpleasant in nature, sound can’t possibly escape a moving locomotive. Regardless, the less we talk about the noise that’s created inside train compartments, the better. There are hawkers, peddlers, beggars, unruly citizens, drunkards creating a scene, babies bawling due to lack of ventilation, people playing annoying songs on their cellphones and the list goes on and on. Ironically, the thing that’s supposed to make a sound is muted—television—even when it’s not telecasting funny clips featuring Charlie Chaplin from the silent cinema era. On the contrary, one can’t overlook a group of men banging manjeeras and singing bhajans in the morning. They may not have the sweetest of voices around but they sing with utmost dedication. The folk music is unmistakable and unbearable at times, too. Not every co-commuter might agree with this method of expressing oneself but nobody complains either. Perhaps it’s better to avoid interrupting divine intervention; especially in a tolerant city like Mumbai where noise and music coexist. Like one of the crooning passenger asked, “Why do you think train accidents don’t take place in our city?”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Castles in the air

What’s there not to love about blue sky, bluer sea, cool breeze, wet sand and a friend as crazy as you? Nothing. So what do you do? You build castles. Getting down on your knees, turn into god. You build. Even the grains stuck in your nails agree with your vision. Although miniature in size, the partners-in-crime figure out everything—gateway, doors, windows, veranda and that stupid flag on the top. It’s so beautiful that even the sea is lured. And out of curiosity to have a closer look, it ends up ruining the whole design. Every single time.
N.B. The site on which this little tale is posted looks awesome. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lost and never found

You can't disappear in a desert if you haven't been to one. And if by chance, you're there, wouldn't it be awesome to get lost and never be found again? Or would that be too gruesome and lonely a death that life would be ashamed of itself? Desperate for a gulp of water or a spread of garment over your head or people. Damn. That'd be cruel. You'd be compelled to miss something as atrocious as people. All your life you hated people—purposefully overlooking that you are people—and in that desert, you'd be dying to spot a two-legged like yourself. Bedouins, even. And when nothing else works, you'd fall for the mirage in the distance. You'd even try to run to the oasis that isn't there in the first place. Or last. There's nothing except you, sand and the blue sky. Before you realize it, the yellow star shall set dropping the temperate drastically. You'll have a cold blanketless night for yourself. And white stars will rise to provide you acquaintance. That is, if you make it through the day. Better still, if you ever get lost in the desert.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When clicks indeed matter

A generation that is marked by extensive fingering on electronic devices won’t spare few minutes to click a button begs several questions. One of them being: how exactly does democracy benefit from absenteeism? No, seriously. Staying at home enjoying a public holiday sounds more like idle and less like ideal. Besides, the slogan “Everybody is corrupt” has run its course. If you don’t have the diligence and enthusiasm to participate in a democracy that can at least—if not anything else—boast of staying true to electoral principles for almost seven decades now, then you are passively corrupt too. You’ve been allotted time to perform a duty which also translates into a privilege. A privilege not all countries can boast of. In Australia, it’s illegal to not vote. Their logic is simpler there: the government is allowing you a holiday so you better move your ass to the booth, mate! Yes, things are bit leaner in our country. Particularly in the urban areas where people take democracy for granted and then suffer traffic, potholes, load-shedding, diseases, devilknowswhatelse every second day. Only a sense of interest and pursuit of unbiased information can help. Calling everyone corrupt only shows apathy and corruption grows fat on such a lousy attitude. If you’re truly concerned (and you should be), you should keep a track on which political party is doing what. Humans, by nature, are more political than social. And the worst thing that can happen to a country—democratic or otherwise—is people assuming that being politically unaware are a symptom of greatness. It’s not. People who are resistant to updating themselves with current affairs cause the gravest of damage to the society. Of course, they can be excused if they genuinely feel they’ve committed too many mistakes in their lifetime to add one more to the list by pressing a button on EVM. But such self-critical souls are rare. And they usually end up at the polling centre only to weep on noticing a senior citizen on crutches in the queue.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A self-fulfilling routine

Love is a funny thing. It fills you with hate sometimes. For yourself, not others. You see, love is an idea. Being a warm blanket of your own creation, the badass L-word tricks you into believing that you’re a needy creature. Consequentially, all the arrogance that you once so openly manifested goes into the drain. As quietly as possible—if you’re lucky enough. Your former belief that you’re emotionally sovereign doesn’t stand true either. Throughout, every idle second, you’re seeking a moment of respite with your beloved. Since accommodation and distance are issues you can’t fight anymore, you get a room for two in your head. You don’t do much though. Just lie with the side of your arms touching each other and stare at the ceiling. You can almost hear yourself breathe. You don’t even wish to say anything or whisper sweet nothings. Words can not only have a mind of their own but also deceive. It’s lot better to shut up and soak. You just stay put. This is the closest you get to becoming a film director! It’s a warm place to be. The only trouble being you don’t want to leave it but you’ll have to. If not now, then. Which will also mark the precise moment you’ll be hurt by the cold realities. Over a period of time, you'll be immune to the grief that this solace eventually presents you. As a result, you’ll continue to escape to that magical room with no walls or windows but only a ceiling to look up at. Don’t worry. Your sanity won’t be affected. Only your insanity is at risk. In the grand scheme of things, you fell for someone only to lie down again and again. It's obvious that you are addicted to the idea, sweetheart. You’re officially ruined.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What is normal?

Michael Phelps, despite his recent peccadilloes, shall always remain a swimming legend. Call Lionel Messi a midget (if you like Cristiano Ronaldo too much) but that won't affect his image as one of the greatest beings to ever kick football. Although there are many who think Usain Bolt needs to tone down his swagger, none of them can beat him at a sprint. Rafael Nadal was born right-handed but his uncle-coach insisted he try playing left-handed. And the exact reserve happened with Sachin Tendulkar. There are no dearth of examples like these men who are way too good at what they do. However, the question is, are they normal?
What precisely is normal? This question is posed knowing Phelps couldn't walk properly as a toddler but swam like a fish when let loose in water. Similarly, Messi relied heavily on injected hormones to lift his body up—literally—as a boy. And Bolt takes 41 strides to complete 100 m while his nearest opponent requires at least 46. He's more of a long-jumping champion who flies during a race. Nadal has no choice but to spin his arm over his head—creating a top-spin that is unmatched in today's fast-paced tennis—every time his racquet makes contact with the ball. Sachin, for all his on-field mastery, can't deny that his switch from southpaw helped him immensely. 
So who is normal? Bolt? Or his fellow runners? Phelps or you and me?
We might be able to walk, swim, run, dribble maybe or hit a sixer but what separates us from those gifted athletes is they defined their own normal. Unlike a majority of us.

Liquid state of mind

Irony never ceases to amuse. Given the hot weather our city is blessed with, the availability of drinking water for public is a must. Not just on roads but also on railway platforms. And in this particular regard, Navi Mumbai scores over its sister city as all the railway stations on the other end of Vashi Creek boasts of at least one faucet. The same can’t be said about Mumbai. However, providing water is one thing while ensuring the water tap’s vicinity isn’t repulsive, quite another. If the basin is overflowing, then what’s the point? Interestingly, this is a recent phenomenon. Earlier, the standards of maintenance were relatively higher as you seldom came across unsavoury spectacle in Navi Mumbai; at least not on railway platforms. Perhaps times are fast changing and the concerned authorities aren’t able to keep up with the demands. Speaking of which, water is a basically need—if not demand—and its provision ought to be on top of the chart.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hue and Caw

Once upon a time, the color black was banned. Nights turned navy blue as darkness had a shade closer to purple. Racism took a turn for the worse. Whiteness inspired resentment as Africa was no longer the (com)promised land. Reading between the lines became easier while the fire at the end of the tunnel made little sense. Things were fast changing but crows weren’t willing to conform. So what did they do? Well, the murder waited patiently for the sentence to end; adapting themselves to wisdom. They learnt nothing lasts forever—neither laws nor the ones who write them.

N.B. This racist piece was written for One Frame Stories. Once upon a time. Also, check out Pallavi's story. Undoubtedly the funniest one.

Sticks and glasses

Ever wondered how those without eyesight survive in our city? They may not be able to see the sun but they do sweat or feel the heat. The only difference being they don't seem to crib. Or maybe they lack the avenues to do so. Although their white-and-red sticks sets them apart from the crowd, they walk normal. They don't wobble like they suggest in our movies. In fact, they are more civil on the streets than the rest of us. Be it on the footpath—being law-abiding citizens, they'll always stick to the side of the road, for safety reasons of course—or be it at railway platforms, they are measured and take each step carefully. What's more intriguing is how the visually-challenged ones learnt to continue with the fast-paced flow of Mumbai without compromising on their aspirations. They are not beggars but strugglers and thrivers like the majority of Mumbaikars. We may be ignorant about Braille but when you see a blind man dialing a number on his cellphone and talking to someone, you can't help but smile. After all, the advent of technology in this city has indeed made an attempt at forcing us to be more equal than what the previous status quo guaranteed.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Captivating knowledge

As a kid, i was afraid of Devera (the Tulu gratification for God) because my grandma and my amma had taken help of bewitching fables to conclude there indeed was someone out there who would constantly check out our every deed—good or bad. Of course, this didn't stop me from stealing coins from temples. Nope, i never had the guts to flick a note. My dad might have provided for me but god knows her contribution too! And you wondered why they lock an accessible-to-all place like temple? To be honest, even i didn't get the connection between the hundi and the big ugly lock outside. Somebody very dear to me enlightened me on that. This is how it unfolds: we grow within preconceived parameters of faith and belief. There might be Providence up there but our actions and the factors influencing them ought to have a Providence of their own. We can't be puppets who decide their own screenplay. There has to be an order in place. It might have been misplaced by our weak consciousness but it has to be there. Whatever be the case, it's best to wait for enlightenment than rush towards it. You never know when you'll crack the lock that has held your mind inmate. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Storm before the calm

Every evening, when the sun is about to set, platform no. 7 at Kurla station comes into its own. Without fail, the crowd grows thicker and the flow of trains grows thinner. What’s unmistakable though is that no other platform—during the aforementioned timeframe—comes remotely close to gathering people to such extent. None of those waiting for the delayed mode of transportation want to stand a minute longer than what the overhead indicator insists. But they are forced to. And this carnival carries on well into the night. It goes without saying that the lack of adequate trains on Harbour Line (HL) is steadily contributing to this peculiar mess. Speaking of which, only one heavy shower it took last week to remind HL of its place of significance in the pecking order. We wonder what really is going on in the planning room. With an annual growth of 9.22%, HL is probably India’s fastest growing suburban segment. But how exactly are the commuters benefiting from this growth? Fast trains are obviously out of question given the narrow bridge that connects Mumbai to Navi Mumbai. So when is the frequency of slow trains going to increase? Especially during rush hour when the people quite literally forget that they are human beings in order to get into the already jam-packed train compartments. A train line that brings two cities closer certainly merits an overhaul, if not in execution then at least in vision.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fire in our belly

Find me a place of worship that doesn't celebrate fire or i'll show you how dark religion really is. The discovery of fire supersedes the discovery of God for several reasons. God might be everywhere but fire can be everywhere. The brightness that it exudes is a mere extension of what human imagination—not just eyes— is capable of. Animals and birds and insects and reptiles manage very well without flintstones but humans don't. Even the most rustic of existence demands its rediscovery. For warmth. For survival. The prehistoric people benefited a lot—both biologically and intellectually—when they could employ fire to cook food. Cooking not only made it easier for them to chew and digest their barbaric nosh but also facilitated them more time to indulge in activities others animals weren't party to. This was undoubtedly the first step our hairy ancestors took towards pwning animal kingdom. To juxtapose what must have happened then and what is happening today, we can have a chuckle at how we put food above fire. Particularly when our generation can neither produce food or fire on its own. Going back to religion, it's a pity that time is divided as per the birth of a mysterious man from Bethlehem. If we were indeed wise and unamnesiac , it should have been based on the discovery of fire. Before Fire. After Fire.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Her missing wink

I just miss you
Maybe a new disease of sort,
missing you has become a religion,
a one-man cult,
that begins and ends with yours screwly.
I just miss you
—all the time.
Like Bombay misses winter.
Or maybe worse.
I don't know.
I just miss you
I miss your presence,
your absence has turned into a dictator,
without asking me why,
before i even let out a sign.
I just miss you
Your fingers sliding into mine,
or my lips shutting up to your skin,
or breathing on your back
 —throughout the night.
I just miss you
as a river misses the hills,
as the sky misses itself,
as this poem misses poetry,
as i wish you missed me.
I just miss you
Luckily, i love us more.
Especially you.
As shamelessly as me.
And for good. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Undone endlessly

Does it bother you that glass is made up of sand and we are made up of stars? Our bones, nails, hair, teeth, nose bridge, earlobes...beg us the question: aren't we marvelous? Won't the universe be taking delight in who we are? We are certainly not the most superior beings to have left behind a footprint but we are fascinating. For good or for bad, we're growing at an astonishing rate too. We can feel others' pain. Each one of us is splendour personified. Able or crippled, visionary or blind, black or brown, arrogant or humble...contribute to God's social experiment on a daily basis. Dawn can't escape night. Raindrops won't evaporate before hitting the ground. Koalas shall remain cute. Humans? We're going to be unpredictable. A script? Thanks, no thanks. We might not be colourful. Darn, we can't even sing like a nightingale! But we create music out of wood and wind. That must count. We've got our abysmal weaknesses to deal with too. We somehow survive. We get by. However, the harshest of sun or the coldest of breeze seldom come in the way of our aspirations. Building happens to us as naturally to us as destroying. Conserving is as habitual as poaching. Whales can't stop us from carrying goods in the deepest of oceans while spiders scare the shit out of us. We barely think of donating blood to a needy whereas mosquitoes have their fill at night. We are fascinating indeed. No other creature comes close. No, not even dolphins. We may not understand cosmos but the cosmos must know by now what's going on. Perhaps we are waiting for the end because there is no end to us. We haven't been around a quarter of the time dinosaurs enjoyed. The planet isn't done—yet—with us. All the prognosticators can take a break. We aren't going anywhere. Everywhere we are. All of the time and all of the space is crowded by us and our thoughts. Does it bother you as to why we are so weird but still transparent?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Reel and reality

H: “Let’s catch a movie.
S: “Sure…but it gets too cold in there.”
H: “Hmm.”
S: “Anyway, which one would you like to watch?
H: “Forget it.”
S: “Well, do you remember the last film we watched together?
H: “Hmmmmm…I don’t.
S: “I do. It was on my laptop and we were both lying on our sides… watching the film sideways! I remember your chin resting on the top of my head and your arms enveloped my bosom.
H: “How come I don’t remember this?
S: “You fell asleep in the middle holding me.”
H: “So that wasn’t a dream?

N.B. This shorter-than-short story was written for a project that you should write for too. It's not monetary but it's worth something big.

Closed eyes, open realities

Child labour might be disgusting but it's a reality. In our city, where traffic signals decide whether those kids selling wares are going to make money or not, the harshness of this reality is way too apparent. They can be anything from makeshift vendors to rag-pickers. For reasons economical, they contribute their bit to small-scale businesses but at what cost? At an age when they should be studying in classrooms and playing in the ground, they are toiling under the sun. And the worst part is their mentality towards education is discouraging. Over 76 percent of child labourers rescued in raids conducted six years ago in Mumbai went back to work eventually, according to a city-based NGO. With the prime minister launching cleanliness drive, perhaps we need to clean our city off our street kids. And send them back to school where they actually belong. Somehow.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trick or bleat

Going by the book, pet animals or birds aren’t welcome inside a local train. But then, abiding laws in our city often come in the way of leading our usual daily life. No wonder we’ve seen commuters carrying a cage filled
with exotic birds, leash-tied dogs, arm-held Persian cat in a not-so-empty train compartments. What’s worth pointing out is the way people react to non-human beings inside a locomotive. Seldom do you see someone objecting to a pet be it a general compartment or a luggage one. That aggressive behaviour is reserved for fellow toe-stomping humans only! On the other hand, commuters are evidently amused and smiling at the sight of a pet. Some even resort to clicking photographs—no matter how constraining the space is—to post it on Internet later. I too captured a reluctant commuter at Kurla station. Unlike others on the platform, this four-legged fella was flashing his rear to the railway tracks. Maybe he wasn’t prepared to be a stowaway.

World Thankful Day, someone?

It's that time of the year when Gandhiji moves out of our wallets and enters our discourse. Everybody talks about him as if they are his official biographers. Everybody suddenly becomes an expert in history. Unarguably, he's a divisive figure. Most great men are. A reason why "Majboori ka naam Gandhiji" became such a popular idiom. When in doubt, blame him. You don't get an easier patsy. Those aligning with the right-wing will obviously find it difficult to come to terms with his contributions. But they are not alone. However, there are two things common to most of his detractors. 
1: Allergic to books. 
 2: Madly in love with their assumptions. 
The world at large has blindly accepted him as a saint when he clearly stated that he's a "politician who's trying hard to be saint"—not vice versa. He understood this country—even before it took geographical forms—better than anybody else who ever walked. And the sky knows he traveled far and wide, understanding very well what really drives our civilization. Now that's a term we don't generally use in our reference. You know why? Because we don't understand our country. And you know why that is? Because we don't travel. It's too hot out there! We're more comfortable with the idea of India and the comfort Indianness allows us. Also a reason why his haters will neither grasp him nor themselves. When a guy belonging to Bania community decides to go abroad for higher studies, what does that tell you about him? (On a cue, have you ever been to a completely foreign country without some help from Google? Just asking.) 
OK, wait. 
Let's do a background check here. 
None of his family members have ever crossed the sea as their religion forbade it. Oh, did i mention he was married at the age of 13 to a girl who was a year older? Or that he became a father at the age of 15? Under such circumstances, he goes against his family to provide himself the finest that academics has to offer. So, off he sets on a ship to England at the age of 19. On reaching the island country, the first thing that shocks him is the cold-dampy weather. There were many more surprises coming his way. Regardless, he fulfills his desire to become a barrister. 
What next? 
A stable job. 
And that's something which took the not-yet-Mahatma 24-year-old to South Africa. In his autobiography, he admits that he wasn't an excellent lawyer but because of his acquaintance with law, he was able to identify the right from wrong. To him, that particular capability mattered more. He kept working on it, thus signalling his experiment with truth. What began as a search into his soul changed the course of Indian history. Nobody comes remotely close to altering the destiny of a nation. No, not even the ones with their horses, elephants, machine guns and A-bombs.
Historians and skeptics will always find flaws in his methods but they'll never find holes in his intentions. After all, he was the first to admit failure. How many leaders—national or otherwise—can you name to whom this quality can be attributed in his times, forget today? 
Did i just use the word 'national' in there?
Before Gandhiji entered the scene, we didn't have a single leader whom we could call a national figure. Some represented north while some represented east and so on. Gandhiji was the first national leader we had. If you think people were fools to just accept him as their leader, irrespective of where they came from or what language they spoke inside their house, then you're mistaken. When he came back to India from South Africa, he noticed some aspects of our livelihoods that the British Raj took advantage of.
So what did he do about his observations?
A lot. 
Well, he asked the people to start with the basics. Maintain cleanliness (looking at the way our cities are today, one can estimate the price we paid for distancing ourselves from him), stay fit (sedantry obesity, huh?), stand up for the truth (well..well...your pants just caught fire!), grow your own food (if we at least had our own garden, GM crops wouldn't have infiltrated our system the way they did in developing countries), boycott British clothes by spinning your own yarn (khadi clothes weren't just about the material used but was a sly at reminding Britishers that we may be working for you but my heart lies in the right place) and most importantly, don't be violent (peaceful protests? Not happening, right? Hong Kong, are you listening?). As a sidenote, he was critical of cinema (all he saw was the propaganda spread by British through was only after his chance meeting with Charlie Chaplin that his views changed) and detested industrialization (there will always be arguments about how technology changed our lives but it won't change the fact that India is still an agrarian country which witnesses a mere 2% annual growth in agriculture).
People love saying that Gandhiji was no angel. True. But he was no ordinary man either. Especially after he transformed himself. In fact, he was the best ever Transformer of all time. Think about it. A well-earning barrister with four kids gives up Western comfort (including essentials like soap and toothpaste), adopts self-made cotton garments (even when it was blistering cold during the First Round Table Conference), never lies even once either in public or in private (why do you think the world believed him when he spoke?), stuck to his ideals even when he was ageing horribly fast (Obama's grey hair know what i'm talking about) and maintains abstinence (that's a touchy topic given the dry day lent to his birthday in spite of him never suggesting such move; or for that matter, he didn't impose ban on beef). These are not the characteristic of a common man. Like you and me or the one who is sane enough to not read this post because it doesn't matter. He's dead and gone and what we're left with is a frustrating nation which could have been worse had we not had someone like him at the helm for more than three decades.
His opposers can't help but point out that we won independence despite of him. All of a sudden, they turn into masterclass economists and connect World War II with India's release date. They conveniently overlook the fact that Gandhiji single-handedly kept the country united. There would have no united nation if there wasn't a national figure at the top. Today, when you stand up to sing your national anthem without worrying whether your state is represented in it or not, much of the credit goes to that humble man in loincloth. He, with this religio-socio messages and ear-catching songs, reached the nooks and corners of the  nation that was to become free with or without him. He manifested stability. While he was a it, he ensured that India won't be about division but about unity. No wonder you don't see him hurling the flag on our Independence Day. The thin old man didn't have time for photoshoot as he was busy pacifying a mob in Bengal.
Never before did a country so vast and so diverse attained independence from a colonial power. There's no precedent set. Blood was going to flow and it did. Moreover, that happened because of the myopic view of an ex-Gandhibhakt Jinnah, not because of Gandhiji. However, if you ask a common man today, more often than not, he'd be of the opinion that Bapu divided the country. They find it hard to accept that the man was adamant on accepting the terms of Partition. And it included reparation of Rs 55 crore to be paid to the smaller nation. How is he wrong in ensuring that the amount be paid to Pakistan? The argument put forth by the right-wing is India was in no position to pay such a huge amount.
Three things.
1: It wasn't such a huge amount given the wealth we were left with after Partition.
2: It became a matter of ego, not commerce.
3: Pakistan needed help as much as Scotland would have from Britain had it seceded.
These are the ways of the world. The sooner we accept it like Gandhiji did, the better. Besides, it wasn't like he wanted to carve out Pakistan. Wasn't he the first one to promote Hindu-Muslim unity on a subcontinental level?
Throughout his political career, he made people uncomfortable with his ideas. One to walk the mile and not take shortcuts, he was willing to wait. As a result, history is strewn by anecdotes of him testing the patience of younger leaders like Nehru, Netaji, Ambedkar and Sardar. Nevertheless, they all respected him. From time to time, they might have had disagreements but he was no dictator. They knew he was a rarity and they couldn't afford to lose him. (Ask yourself: Can your company afford to lose you? Just like that.) In some ways, he was too good a soul to be at the center of attention. But he acknowledged the responsibility that follows cynosure. And he made the most of it, didn't he? For example, there's a dialogue by Kulbhushan Kharbanda's Brahmin character in Deepa Mehta's Water: "He's the only one in this country who seems to be listening to his soul." Isn't that a compliment to a person who was doing everything that an orthodox Brahmin wouldn't approve of?
Yea..yeah..rhetorics only. Like yours. Like mine. 
In any case, there was no dearth of compliments when he was alive. Or dead. Of course, there were people like Churchill who couldn't stand the temerity of a miniature-sized hero. But then, historians are convinced of his inherent racism too. Would he have approved of the multicultural London that is today? Gandhiji certainly would have. 
There are some cynics who say that he didn't fulfill his duties as a father. Ahem. A man on a mission rarely does unless he's Uncle Abe (whose wife still disapproved of his parenting skills). However, all his four sons did quite well for themselves, specifically by staying away from politics! Perhaps, after a point, they were content with their dad being called the father of the nation. Anyway, legacy helps. Kasturba was the one who suffered but she knew what was going on. Maybe that's why she admonished a lady correspondent from Life who wanted to paint a neglected-wifey picture of hers.
Painting an image? 
 Let's talk about his fabled sex life. Or should we? What he does in his privacy isn't any of our concern. But still, for argument's sake, let's accept that he was a sex maniac. Did he exploit anyone? Did he do anything against anybody's consent? These aforementioned sentences carry a question mark because the endless theories about his sexcapades should carry a question mark but they don't. They simply assume. Not a single quote from either Gandhiji or his grand-nieces are made available to support the he-was-freaking-sex-weirdo theories. 
To make things more interesting, the ones who keep highlighting his alleged unusual sex life are also a part of the generation that firmly believes that DMs aren't supposed to be made public. And before they get defensive, EVERYBODY who's on social media is a public figure. They are also the ones who somehow manage to overlook all his other qualities—be it honesty or frugality or principles or persuasion—in order to focus on his sex life. Thus merely showing where their own interest and weakness lies.  
When a genius like Einstein and a critic like Orwell approved of his legacy, wonder what it takes to convince them! Are they suggesting they are smarter than Einstein or more learned than Orwell? Guess what? I seriously doubt. None of us even lived in the difficult times Bapu did. If that wasn't enough, even his assassin bowed in front of him—for theatrical or otherwise—before killing him. Sadly for his killers, he continues to live. 

N.B. The purpose behind ditching my usual one-paragraph blog post and writing this lengthy piece isn't to brag that i've read more books than you did. It's just an attempt at reminding myself and y'all that a bit of gratitude won't hurt. Particularly when we don't really have a national leader. The fact that NaMo repeatedly invokes Bapu (although he really needs to know his Lal from his Das) in his speeches is a boost to the latter's legacy because the former belongs to the camp that shot him dead. Or maybe we should keep our opinions to ourselves and stop looking for scapegoats. We can barely manage our own life and when a guy took it upon himself to show millions of people the way towards independence (FYI, independence means not depending on others for survival—British or no British), we ought to pay more attention. Dismissing a personality just because he was trying to do and be someone we can't possibly dream of doesn't make HIM small. Lastly, our country is big but it was bigger when he was alive. Think about the troubles he must have faced. At least he tried to make a difference. What have you done? Maybe your majbooris aren't greater than his.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Where there’s noise, there’s scope for music too. And what better place can one be than in Bombay to experience this phenomenon? Seldom do we come across a place here that justifies the word ‘serene’. No wonder we don’t get to her a horde of sparrows chirping together anymore. But music pertaining to human influence has a slightly different angle. On one hand, we have religious practices that produce music—whether everybody appreciates it or not—while on another hand, Bollywood songs are constantly blaring out of loudspeakers. The less said about the former the better. About the latter, we can only wonder what really happens to non-filmi music. Where exactly are they heard? I stumbled upon two classical musicians performing in a suburban hotel and later we came across two disabled musicians performing on railway platform. The similarity between the two sets of performers is both were dispensing music—irrespective of where they were stationed—amid the noise.