Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Men will be men

At any given point of time, more men are travelling in a Mumbai local train than women. Which might also explain why there are fewer compartments reserved for the fairer sex. Of course, the rest of the compartments are called general, not gentlemen's compartment but you get the drift. However, women—especially those who travel on a daily basis—prefer to stick with their kind when it comes to commuting. Which is also why i was surprised to come across an elderly woman standing amid men on a platform at Dadar station. According to her, men are more courteous to her than those belonging to her gender. “In ladies compartment, even young girls—forget middle-aged women—won't be kind enough to vacate their seats for an oldie—forget pregnant women—like me. In general compartment, things are far better as i'm often helped while boarding as well as alighting.” As discouragingly habitual or encouragingly nice as these contrasting gestures may sound, it's high time senior citizens got a reserved compartment!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I wish i was with her somewhere far away instead of typing this pretentious garbage right now.

To cut long story short, happy new year in advance. I sincerely hope 2015 brings out your best while making you realize that it's alright to have a shitty year. Everybody is struggling with whatever they have or don't, aren't we?

Do well.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bus kya?

Mumbai’s public transport landscape is complex. Every mode of transport has its unique points. Take for instance—BEST buses. We think they are similar to local trains in some ways, like for instance, both buses and trains do not wait for anyone and are overcrowded at peak hours. There is one major difference however, and that is the presence of a conductor who wades through the bus—no matter how packed it is. The overhead rope-enabled bell serves as his mode of communication with the driver behind the wheel. Still, sometimes, there is huge miscommunication between the two and that can lead to humourous incidents. It is good to laugh amidst all that crowd! Moreover, a passenger needs to carry a sense of humour in Mumbai. It weighs nothing and can brighten up the road, like nothing else can. Like, one recently witnessed a conductor on the Byculla-Worli route running after a bus. Impossible as that may sound, this gentleman kept tapping the bus while sprinting but the driver mistook him for a hasty passenger and kept moving with the slow traffic. Ultimately, the conductor caught up with his bus and the passengers had a hearty laugh at what happened. One young man commented that a conductor in this city finally experienced how it feels to chase a bus! Meanwhile, our conductor took a minute or two to catch his breath before starting “Ticket, ticket…

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Phoney business

If i ask you who's your best friend, there's a greater probability of you overlooking the one thing that's been very close to you like never before: your cellphone. After all, there's a reason why the closest we get to hearing a heart break is our smartphone slipping from our hand only to crash on the floor. Worse could be misplacing the phone entirely like we do sometimes. However, the worst possible case scenario would be getting mugged of your phone while commuting in a train. Imagine the irony of losing it to a robbery attempted in a crowded venue. But it's a harsh reality of our city. There's no dearth of news ringing in time and time again of the aam janta paying the price for being absorbed in their gadget. Like some unsuspecting commuters standing on the footboard of a halted train fidgeting with their phones only to be snatched of his all-important device by a thief who is hanging onto the footboard of a parallel train. Sometimes, pickpockets aim for your phone instead of your wallet. If that isn't scary enough, we recently came across an incident on a platform in Andheri. A lean guy entered a train, tried to tussle a commuter's phone out of his grab—unsuccessfully though—before jumping out of the train. All within few seconds. If anything, these discouraging events help us understand how behavioral patterns contribute to the rise of a particular crime too.

Skip before you run

Do what your heart says,
not because it's always right,
but because it seldom is,
and life is all about capturing those instances
when it's damn sure about something.
It's perfectly alright to be sad,
for happiness is a vacation worth fighting for,
but don't create an enemy out of sorrow,
your tears keeps you warm at night
but you let your blanket take all the credit.
There's an alarming rush for perfection,
as if we were meant to be role models,
of Homo sapiens with our skin waxed,
fashion in place and no scope for typos
although prejudice is welcome on every table.
Love somebody more than yourself,
but without keeping the scores,
or asking questions like how or why,
for it's only when you find a home
inside another person that you know yourself.
Whatever you do, however you are,
you remain the captain of your ship,
your own iceberg and your own north star, 
you hear your voice raise when you laugh
and your blood gush when you slit your wrist.
Tomorrow is a promise made to none,
while today can make all the difference,
procrastinating is cute as long as you're breathing,
but death is infamous for its premature entry
which you might overlook pretending to be busy.

A biting piece of iniquity

I really don't understand how kids can be so insensitive. And by insensitive, i'm pointing out their urge to kick a puppy or throw stones at a pregnant dog they assume to be fat and incapable of chasing them (which they don't anyway). And i might be prejudiced. Maybe i reside in a lowly neighbourhood that seems busy producing antisocial-elements-for-the-future in the form of little kids. Maybe children—at least most of them—at least i hope so—aren't this way. I wasn't this way. And by this way, i'm pointing out the picture posted above. As you can see, a thin dog was happily sitting on top of a car while two puppies (if you zoom to its corner) were blissfully asleep in the warm soil. I know all three of them because i happen to be very popular—in a friendly manner, not the reputation i had when i used to commute on bicycle—amongst the street dogs in our wretched locality. A few minutes after this picture was clicked, two school-going kids entered the scene and one of them shooed away the dog on top of the car. For fun, apparently. The other boy had a matchstick in his hand which he lighted up before throwing at the puppies. For fun again, apparently.

Along with these observations, i also noted two more things;
1. As soon as i yelled at them, both were startled. It wasn't like i turned into Hulk and sounded the crappier version of Farhan Akhtar that i already do. But still, they were astounded and doubly conscious of where the noise came from. They were totally off balance and kept running their eyes trying to figure out the window. They eventually spotted me behind the green while i continued to notice their reaction. Maybe when you're committing something infinitely wrong, your soul is aware of it. Maybe that's why you show signs of fear when you're confronted abruptly in the course of such actions. Had these boys carried good enough hearts in them and some biscuits too to feed the dogs, they wouldn't have been shit scared the way they were. Regardless, i screamed at them challenging them to stay there till i come down.

2. No prizes for guessing that the two punters fled the crime scene when i sped down the stairs. However, when i got back and told my younger brother what happened. His response gave me a healthier insight into a side we obviously overlook. Nothing is the way it was and sometimes, nothing is the way it is. After all, he wasn't angry as i appeared with my words. He was calm and what he said was explained it all: "I too harmed little creatures as a kid. I remember pouring water on ants, de-limbing lizards and leaving them to die, plucking out houseflies' wings and breaking cockroaches' antennas... and today, when i think about it, i understand why certain things happened to me as i was growing up. My failures make sense sometimes. We all pay for our actions sooner or later. I might come across as peaceful today but i wasn't always this way, was i? Those kids will learn too, sooner or later."

Although i happen to be his elder brother of more than a quarter of a century, i knew nothing about his psychopathic childhood. What came as a consolation was his admission that he never harmed dogs. Maybe the fact that he got bitten by a mad dog at the age of five helped. After going back to the window to check out my four-legged friends, i could only silently pray for those two morons to learn their lessons—sooner. If not, invite sharp canines into their adult skin—later.

Roads least travelled

Running away from home was a tough decision. The lack of money wasn’t bothering him as his disdain for this world helped. On the other hand—or leg, if you may given the journey was going to be a long one like this sentence—his worries were geographical. He wanted to be somewhere north—cold, colonial and calm—but he wasn’t sure. After all, he also wanted to be somewhere northeast—hilly, harsh and harmonious—but then again, he wasn’t sure. What if he didn’t make it? Similarly, wasn’t it too late to not find a brand new home?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


He must be above 70 and thinks only in Urdu. Not a huge fan of listening, he speaks few words every now and then but his lyrical touch compensates for his utter lack of attention. Fortunately, he doesn't let his wafer-thin body and failing eyesight get in the way of his curiosity. He has lost it—materially speaking. And thank khuda for that! He's the kind of personality Tyler Durden would be so freaking proud of. I wasn't even aware of his existence until a week ago and now, when i keep wondering how many more such amazing characters must be out there sleeping on the sides of the midnight streets after squandering their daylight on poetry. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


There's a lovely scene in A Beautiful Mind where Russell Crowe's schizophrenic genius and Jennifer Connelly's diligent lover have a moment to themselves under the clear sky. For someone who had spent his childhood staring at the unfathomable wonders of heaven, one can imagine how fluent he must be with the stars. To prove his mettle so much as to entertain his ladylove, he draws images out of them like the way we'd create images out of clouds. The best part was she seeing exactly what he wanted to show her.

A beautiful mind meeting another, indeed. 

Picture abhi baaki hai

This year witnessed more of a downfall than an upswing for Bollywood—not just in commercial terms but also critical—but we give you 10 reasons to stay positive about Hindi cinema for a long time to come. Put into perspective, Bollywood didn't really have a breathtaking year. There were no mind-boggling figures embellishing the box office either. In all fairness, 2014 has been a lukewarm year for the Hindi film industry. Similarly, there were no lateral entrants like Ship of Theseus or Shahid or The Lunchbox to help us wade through the otherwise formulaic assembly. Is there a pattern to be noticed? Are we missing something of a paradigm shift not only at the filmmakers' end but also at the audience's? In any case, it's easy to just override Bollywood for its abject lack of originality, of late. At the same time, however, it'd be farcical to simply assume that Hindi cinema as an entity could possibly be redundant—ever. 

Here are the 10 reasons why i think Bollywood is still worth believing in…
1) Secular fabric
Say what you may about content—or lack thereof—but Hindi films, not to forget their makers, have ensured that the good ol' idea of secularism is upheld under any circumstances. An onscreen character's private beliefs rarely get in the way of the storyline. Seldom do we come across an incident where a storyline offends religious sentiments. On the other hand, most of the controversies pertaining to faith rise just on assumption, much before a given film even hits the marquee. And 2014 takes a good step forward with a film like pk, which takes on religious leaders who lead us astray.
2) Sound of music
The cliché of a hero and his heroine running around a tree while a song is played in the background never goes out of fashion. But what has effectively gone out of the production door in the West is the concept of musical within a feature film. Which might explain why French cinema shies away from musicals while German cinema employs English pop songs. In the meantime, Bollywood films continue to unabashedly celebrate music like there's no tomorrow. 2014 had a plethora of some exceptionally good music with meaningful lyrics, be it Zehnaseeb from Hasee Toh Phasee, Samjhawaan from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Galliyan from Ek Villain, or Patakha Guddi from Highway or Allah Waariyan from Yaariyan.
3) Source of livelihood
While purists make all kinds of noise, they conveniently forget that Bollywood is a $3.2 billion industry employing nearly two lakh people. And this employment ranges from big-ticket stars to junior technicians, all of them earning their bread thanks to Friday releases. If a brainless film hits the jackpot at the box office, it also translates to further distribution of moolah to the thousands of faceless and nameless contributors. There was one sexist rule in the industry of not allowing women to wield the make-up brush, but that is also history now, thanks to the gritty Charu Khurana.
4) Change is in the air
The recent success of relatively smaller films like Filmistaan, Ankhon Dekhi, Sulemani Keeda, etc. has reinforced the new stream of thinking. So much so that young actors like Shahid Kapoor (Haider) and Varun Dhawan (Badlapur) are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zone. After all, more risk-taking filmmakers are on board and there's an encouraging balance with established studios like Viacom18, UTV and PVR Rare among others taking the initiative to produce and distribute high-content but low-on-budget flicks
5) Godfather? No, thanks
What's common between Honey Singh and Chetan Bhagat? Both are going to be everywhere—if they aren't already. Yet again busting the myth that nepotism rules. Besides, Bollywood has warmly welcomed relative 'nobodies' from the outside world. You may have doubts about their talent, but can't deny that they have made the best use of the opportunity offered to them by Hindi cinema.
6) Single screen, great hope
Multiplexes account for just eight per cent of India's 12,000 screens but rake in a third of the total box office receipts. So one can imagine the pressure single screens must be reeling under. Besides, the number of single-screen cinemas in India continues to fall beyond 10,000 (the estimated figure in 2012). Regardless, there's a long way to go before all of them are shut down—making way for multiplexes—or the unruly whistles of the boisterous are silenced.
7) Giving theatre its due
In the recent past, more actors with a strong stage background are pouring into the industry. This year saw talent powerhouses including Manav Kaul, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Seema Pahwa and Niharika Singh, impressing Hindi cinema lovers.
8) Going global
As far as the overseas market is concerned, Bollywood is no longer limited to the diaspora. NRIs are anyway going to watch Hindi films. On a greater scale, we are witnessing a phase where collaborations between the promising East and the meticulous West is so obviously on. And it's not just about AR Rahman composing music for Hollywood films or Irrfan acting in them but also about the steady exchange of ideas on the technical and infrastructural front. Happy New Year took a happy step ahead in being innovative with its release and instead of going for the traditional satellite rights, the producers decided to release it on the digital platform. This is just a start.
9) Long live Urdu
Post-independence, there was a rather long phase when Urdu defined the verbal side of a movie. However, that fastidious nature of the poetic language has changed. Irrespective of all these evolutionary changes, Urdu somehow manages to flourish in Hindi film songs. Like Haider not only stole our hearts with its beautiful poetry but also gave Urdu its rightful place yet again.
10) Entertainment factor
Bollywood was reasonably high on entertainment this year too. Don't believe us? Look at Govinda in his comeback roles in Kill Dil and Happy Ending. Or Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh’s bromance on-screen as well as off it. Also, the Khan triumvirate reestablished their hold on the box-office—as was expected of them—although it'd be more interesting to see them turn 50 next year.

N.B. In case you feel that my writing is too grey and paragraph-less on blog, you can check out this piece on mid-day with pictures and all that jazz.
This year witnessed more of a downfall than an upswing for Bollywood — not just in commercial terms but also critical — but we give you 10 reasons to stay positive about Hindi cinema for a long time to come - See more at:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Overcrowded comedy

Two unwritten rules apply to Mumbai’s local trains. 1. There’s always room for one more passenger no matter how jam-packed a given compartment is. 2. Always expect a co-commuter to crack a good one. Both these rules were observed recently on the Central Line. As the train slowly picked up speed at Kurla, a gentleman with a bagpack somehow managed to catch the train. Not comfortable with the idea of hanging on the footboard, he pushed his way in—to fellow passengers’ utter discomfort. On top of that, he made a rather nasty remark while standing on someone’s toes. “Zoo jaise ho gaya hai train aaj kal,” said our hero as he stood on his toes. He wasn’t expecting any rebuttal when somebody not that far away from him reparteed, “Bas ek gadhe ki kami thi.” Needless to mention, the resulting laugh must have made the commuters forget—for a little while—the inhumane manner in which they travel daily.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

In slo-mo

If he could run with her, he'd walk
If he could walk with her, he'd stand
If he could stand with her, he'd sit
If he could sit with her, he'd lean
If he could lean with her, he'd lie 
If he could lie with her, he'd sleep
If he could sleep with her, he'd dream 
If he could dream with her, he'd wake up
If he could wake up with her, he'd live
If he could live with her, they'd survive.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Temporary friendship

Waiting for Mumbai local trains is one of those bad habits nobody complains about. Trains are seldom on schedule and the conjuring crowd only makes you feel lonelier. However, this isn’t the case when you can kill time with others. Two such lucky gentlemen found each other on the platform bench. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get in to the last train that passed by. Fortunately, that was a commonality good enough to break the proverbial sweat. After conversing for nine minutes about things they care about—but seldom expressed an opinion on—they were back to being perfect strangers once again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In the middle of nowhere

Blame the weather for changing the very structure of science, poetry, art and romance—all at one stroke. Like a genius.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In the middle of everywhere

Every now and then, there's a periodic hue and cry about who we are as a people and what we truly represent. Are we Indian enough to call ourselves Indians or are we those who are basically disappearing? Are we so deep in disguise that we don't even recognise the sound of our fading away into homogeneity? The sun may rise in the east but it settles in the west. OK. That was a lame attempt at metaphor. But if you think you've got nothing to do with Western civilization, aren't you mistaken? You may lay claim to all the precious knowledge that Vedic India gave birth to even though you don't know the difference between Sanskrit and Prakrit. One (hailing from our country) can always blame our colonial baggage for this misplaced pride. It's like being in an elevator with the phone dipping in and out of network coverage. You're connected but still disconnected. A simpler method would be to call oneself a citizen of the world. But then, how can you do that if your range of geographical curiosity is limited to your city marked by sporadic vacations? More so, if you've become your favourite place and don't really bother to explore? In such a context, what exactly are you? You look very much Indian although it's quite difficult to classify Indianness by appearance. Some of the fairest people are found in South India and some of the darkest in the north. Our diversity is almost ridiculous. We've come to a point where we may prescribe to certain ethnicity or race or religion but our civilization seems very Western—if not completely American. Take a break and look at yourself. The clothes you're wearing right now have nothing to do with India nor the gadgets that have come to define your lifestyle. Your thought process and your wish to lead your life the way you want without paying the price of responsibility has Made-in-USA—if not Hollywood—stamped all over it. The way this world is built and functioning owes almost everything to the industrial revolution that kickstarted two centuries ago. We can be nostalgic about our glorious past but our present is remarkably rooted in the TV series that we can't have enough of. Our urbanity is going to be our species' downfall but aren't we enjoying the bungee-jump? Even our sense of humour is nursed by foreign memes. And if you still believe that 35% of the scientists in NASA are of Indian origin or that NHS is primarily run by desi doctors, you're actually attesting to the rise of a civilization that has proved itself to be more embracing than the one we are supposed to have come from. Yes, we enjoy Indian food because to put it bluntly, our kitchen has seen innovation like no other sphere. Not science. Not mathematics. Not business. Nothing. It's OK though. We are only aping the world like the rest of the world is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The most interesting of people are those who are
hurt yet bursting with care
broken yet their pieces emit light
awesome yet unaware of it
beautiful yet scarred by breeze
fragile yet courageous enough to breathe
wise yet prone to worldly silliness
lonely yet filling the space in your heart
clumsy yet comfortably in sync
honest yet cherishing a fairy tale
poetic yet fluent in prosaic silence
mistaken yet willing to repeat 
indecisive yet up for the road trip
relentless yet unbounded by fate
lost yet found in your thoughts
raring to make it one day at a time.

You might be one of them.
Even if you aren't, stay the way you are.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I feel down and out
—every now and then
I feel lost and how
—sometimes more
    sometimes less
I feel better and best
—whenever i think of you
    whenever you think of me
    whenever we talk
I feel everything and more
—because it's you
    because it's me
    because it's us
    because whatever we can be
I feel the point is clear, isn't it?
    Like you say when i let you
—"You're my world."
    Or when i don't
—"You're mine."
    Should i shut up now?
    Or should i shut you up?
Regardless, i feel beautiful because of you

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Manto or not toe?

I don't know what's your excuse for not learning Urdu but let me remind you that although it's declining in our country, there's no ban on it. The reason why i'm sounding sarcastic is we've becoming this country that shortcuts a solution by spreading blanket ban on a given issue. Coming back to excuses, i'm trying to learn this inherently beautiful language. There are very few things i'm essentially proud of. Whatever i know about Urdu is one of them. There are many more i'd like to add to the list—violin, Kannada, Tamil, French, boxing among others—but it's best not to reveal when or how.

Enough of me.

Let's move over to Manto.

Arguably the greatest writer from the Indian subcontinent belonging to last century. Moreover, the fact that he died at the age of 42 stretches his aura and even a soul like him faced his share of bans. So much so he even wrote a piece in the pre-independence era criticizing—in style, of course—a resolution that was being passed against his literary pursuits. As expected, the writer took out his weapon of mass destruction and wrote the following. In the process, he reminded the world where exactly it is. I've transliterated/translated that very article. Needless to add, there has to be errors and typos and whatever comes in between but this is the finest i could do—for now—with invaluable inputs by Farooque Ansari from Inquilab.
Main arz kar raha hoon ki zamaane ki karvato ke saath adab bhi karvate badalta rehta hai
(I’m espousing that with every passing day, the ways of world are changing too)
Aaj usne jo karvat badli hai uske khilaaf akhbaaron mein mazmoon likhna, jalson mein zaher ugalna bilkul bekaar hai
(It’s futile to write articles against it in newspapers or rally on streets, considering the point the change has reached today)

Woh log adab-e-jadeed ka, taraqqi pasand adab ka, fohush adab ka…jo kuch bhi hai ye…khaatma kar dena chahte hain, toh sahi raasta yeh hai ki unn halaat ka khaatma kiya jaaye jo iss adab ke muharrik hain
(Those who want to destroy this culture or progressiveness or erotica—or whatever you wish to call it—should rather find a way to destroy the circumstances that are giving rise to it)

Yeh bhi kaha jaata hai ki aaj kal ke adeebon ke aasaab par aurat savaar hai
(It’s also said that the minds of modern writers are filled with nothing but women)

Sach toh yeh hai ki urooj-e-Adam se lekar ab tak ke har mard ke aasaab par aurat savaar rahi hai
(When in fact, women have been on men’s mind since the day Adam took birth and made way for civilization)

Aur kyun na rahe?
(Besides, why shouldn’t it be so?)

Mard ke aasaab par kya haathi godhon ko savaar hona chahiye?
(Do you expect elephants and horses to dominate a male psyche?)

Jab kabutar kabutarion ko dekh kar ghutakte hain toh mard aurton ko dekh kar ek ghazal ya afsaana kyun na likhe?
(When a male pigeon makes those guttering sounds on noting a female mate, why shouldn’t a man write a poem or a story for his ladylove?)

Aurtein kabutariyon se kahin ziyaada dilchasp, khoobsurat aur fikr-khez hain
(Women are far more interesting, beautiful and inspiring than a she-pigeon)

Kya main jhoot kehta hoon?
(Am I lying?)

Mehmoodabad ke Rajasaab ka aur H’bad ke Shayar Maahir-Ul Qadrisaab ka ya Bambai ke Dawafaros Hakeem Mirza Baigsaab ka iss literature ke khilaaf resolution pass karna bilkul bekaar hai
(Rajasaab of Mehmoodabad or Shayar Maayir-ul Qadrisaab from Hyderabad or Bombay’s Dawafaros Hakeem Mirza Baigsaab's passing a resolution against my literature is baseless)

Jab tak aurato aur mardo ke jazbaat ke darmiyaan ek moti deewar qayam rahegi, tab tak Ismat Chughtai uske choone ko apne tez nakoonon se kuredti rahegi
(…that’s so as long as there’s an ever-increasing wall between the emotions belonging to men and women, Ismat Chughtai will keep on scratching that wall with her sharp fingernails)

Jab tak Kashmir ke haseen dehato mein shaher ki gandagi phaili rahegi, ghareeb Kishen Chander aule aule rota rahega
(As long as the idyllic terrains of Kashmir will be polluted by the influx of urban pollution, poor Kishen Chander will keep crying silently because he loves the rustic life way too much)

Jab tak insanon mein aur khaas taur par Saadat Hasan Manto mein kamzoriyaan maujood hain, woh khurdbeen se dekh dekh kar baahar nikaalta aur dusron ko dikhaata rahega
(Also, as long as humans and Saadat Hasan Manto in particular has weaknesses in him, he’ll continue to observe/analyze them through a microscope and show them to others as well)

Rajasaab Mehmoodabad aur unke humkhayaal kehte hain “Yeh sarasar behoodgi hai, tum jo kuch likhte ho, khurafaat hai..”
(Rajasaab of Mehmoodabad and his fellow thinkers who agree with him keep commenting, “Whatever you write is vulgar and blasphemous…”)

Main kehta hoon, “Bilkul durust hai…is liye kyun ke main behoodgi aur khuraafat ke mutaalliq toh likhta hoon.”
(To which I’d reply, “Yes…because I write on vulgarity and blasphemy..and I don’t deny that either)

Rajasaab Mehmoodabad ek conference ke sadr ban jaayen ya Hakeem Haider Baigsaab khaansi door karne ka mujarrab sharbat ijaad karlen; mujhe unki sadaarat aur unke sharbat se koi dilchaspi nahi
(If Hakeem Haider Baigsaab invents an effective cough syrup or Rajasaab from Mehmoodabad becomes the president of a conference, I have no interest whatsoever either in their presidency or their syrup)

Albatta jab main train mein baitha baitha apna naya khareeda hua keemti pen nikaalta hoon, sirf iss gharaz se ki log dekhen aur mar-oob hon toh mujhe apna siflapan bahut dilchasp maloom hota hai
(But while I’m travelling in a train, I take out my newly bought expensive pen with the sole intention of ensuring that my fellow travellers/people will be impressed by it, I find this meanness of mine fascinating)

Mere pados mein agar ek aurat har roz apne khavind se maar khaati hai, aur fir usi ke joote saaf karti hai toh mere dil mein uske liye zarra barabar humdardi paida nahi hoti
(I don’t feel an iota of sympathy for my neighbouring woman who gets beaten by her husband only to go back and clean his shoes)

Lekin jab mere pados mein koi aurat apne khavind se ladkar aur kudhkushi ki dhumki dekar cinema dekhne chale jaati hai
(But when a woman in my neighbourhood fights with her husband, leaves the house threatening suicide only to go and watch a movie in cinema)

Aur main khavind ko do ghante tak sakht pareshaani ki haalat mein dekhta hoon toh mujhe dono se ek ajeeb-o-gareeb qism ki humdardi paida ho jaati hai
(I feel a weird sense of empathy with both of them while I notice her husband terribly worried back at home)

Kisi ladke ko kisi ladki se ishq ho jaaye toh main usse zukaam ke barabar bhi ahmiyat nahin deta
(If a boy falls in love with a girl, I treat it more negligently than whopping cold)

Lekin woh ladka meri tawajjo ko zaroor kheenchega jo zaahir kare ki uspar saikdon ladkiyaan jaan deti hain
(But that boy will certainly grab my attention who pretends that girls are crazy about him)

Lekin dar-haqeeqat woh pyaar ka utna hi bhooka hai jitna ki bangaal ka faqaazada baashindha
(But in reality, he’s as hungry for love as a famine-ridden Bengali)

Iss ba-zaahir kaamyaab aashiq ki rangeen baaton mein jo tragedy siskiyan bharti hogi, usko main apne dil ke kaano se sunuga aur doosro ko sunaunga
(I’ll listen to those sighs of tragedy that this well-established Casanova’s colourful love story heaves…)

Chakki peesnewali aurat jo din bhar kaam karti hai aur raat ko itmenaan se so jaati hai, woh mere afsaano ki heroine nahi ho sakti
(That woman who grinds flour mill all done long and sleeps peacefully at night can’t be the heroine of my tales)

Meri heroine chakle ki ek takyaai randi ho sakti hai
(My heroine might be that lowly prostitute from red-light area)

Jo raat ko jaagti hai aur din ko sote mein kabhi kabhi yeh daraona khwaab dekhkar uth baithti hai ki budaapa uske darwaaze par dastak dene aaya hai
(Who works hard at night and sleeps during daytime only to wake up abruptly from a nightmare of her old age knocking at her door…)

Uske bhaari bhaari papote jin par barson ki udi hui neenden munjamid ho gayi hai, mere afsaane ka mauzu ban sakte hai
(Her heavy eyelids that have accumulated/frozen years of lost sleep can become the subject of my story)

Uski ghalazat, uski beemariyan, uska chidchidapan, uski gaaliyan, yeh sab mujhe bhaati hain
(Her filth, illnesses, annoyance, expletives…they all enchant me)

Aur main unke mutaallik likhta hoon aur gharelu aurton ke sushta-kalamiyan, unke sehat, unki nafaasat-pasandi ko nazarandaz kar jaata hoon
(And I write about them while the domestic womenfolk with their refine-ness, health, their love for elegance are completely overlooked)

Aiteraaz kiya jaata hai ki naye likhne walon ne aurat aur mard ke jinsi talluqaat ko hi apna mauzu bana liya hai
(It’s often objected that modern writers have made only the sexual relationships between male and female their subject of writing)

Main sabki taraf se jawab nahin doonga
(I won’t reply on everybody’s behalf)

Apne mutaalliq itna kahoonga ke yeh mauzu mujhe pasand hai
(But would clarify on my behalf that I like this subject very much)

Kyun hai?
(Why so?)

Bas hai
(It just is)

Samajh lijiye ki mujh mein perversion hai
(Consider it my perversion)

Aur agar aap aqalmand hain, cheezon ke qawaif acchi tarah jaante hain toh aap samajh lenge ki mujhe yeh bimari kyu lagi hai
(But if you’re intelligent enough and understand the ways of the world, then you must also understand how I contracted this “disease”)

Zamane ke jis daur se hum iss waqt guzar rahe hain
(The era that we are going through right now…)

Agar aap usse nawaqif hain toh mere afsaane padhiye
(…if you’re ignorant about it, do read my stories)

Agar aap inn afsanon ko bardaasht nahin kar sakte hain toh iska matlab yeh hai ki zamana naqabil-e-bardaasht hai
(If you’re unable to tolerate them, that means the society is not tolerable)

Mujh mein jo buraiyaan hain woh iss ahed ki buraiyaan hain
(Whatever ills are present in me are the ills of this era)

Meri tahreer mein koi naqs nahi
(There are no shortcomings in my writings)

Jis naqs ko mere naam se mansoob kiya jaata hai dar-asl maujuda nizaam ka naqs hai
(Whatever shortcoming is dedicated to me is in fact the shortcomings of our system)

Main hungama pasand nahin
(I don’t like to rabble rouse)

Main logon ke khyaalat aur jazbaat mein haijaan paida karna nahin chahta
(I don’t even like to create turmoil in people’s imagination or emotions)

Main tehzeb-o-tamaddan aur society ki kya choli utaaroonga jo hai hi nangi?
(How can I disrobe culture or our society when it’s already naked?)

Main use kapde pehnnane ki bhi koshish nahi karta
(But then, I don’t even try to clothe it)

Log mujhe siyah qalam kehte hain
(People call me writer who uses black ink)

Lekin main takhta-e-siyah par kaali chalk se nahi likhta
(But I don’t write on a blackboard with a black chalk)

Safed chalk ishtemaal karta hoon ki takhta-e-siyah aur bhi numayan ho jaaye
(I use white chalk so that the blackboard is delightfully apparent)

Yeh mera khaas andaz, mera khaas tarz hai, jise fohush-nigaari, taraqqi pasandi aur khudha maloom kya kya kaha jata hai
(This unique style of mine is often labeled as erotica-lover, progressive writer and god-knows-what-else)

Laanat hai Saadat Hasan Manto par!
(Shame on Saadat Hasan Manto!)

Kambakht ko gaali bhi saleeke se nahi dee jaati.
(The unfortunate one doesn’t even get rebuked properly.)

Delayed and how

In the recent past, we've highlighted several times how Harbour Line needs to buckle up a bit given the constant train delays. Earlier, the local trains weren't running on time during the rush hour—which generally isn't the case with Western or Central Line—but now the 'privilege' has been extended much beyond. In other words, the rush hour doesn't end only! The number of passengers keep rising to dangerous levels even after the clock strikes nine. The above picture is from the past week at Kurla when the time was well above 11 in the night. The platform number is seven and  during this time, no other platform witness such crowd. Is it because the trains are running properly on Central Line or is it because the commuters are relatively lower in number? In anyway, isn't it high something got done for Harbour Line? It's an utter case of apathy from the railway authority who have been treating the CST-Panvel Line as a stepchild. If not, what else can explain this daily harassment?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wheels on fire

Not a day goes by when he doesn’t think of killing himself. Being dependent on others has clearly taken a toll. As a kid, things were different because innocence makes life bearable. That’s before hostile realities of adulthood hits you. He was hit hard. It wasn’t about his inability to walk. It had more to do with the aimlessness that others were walking around with. He could barely come to terms with this abject wastage of limbs.
People think that one gets used to disabilities.
People are mistaken.
Unless he’s on his wheelchair believing he’s in control—of everything.


Giving up your seat in a public transport for someone who needs it more doesn't make you a great human being. It merely makes you human. Moreover, the reason why we keep forgetting this clear distinction is people seldom relieve their butt for others. What's more interesting is when a person is offered seat and the recipient doesn't even acknowledge the gesture. For instance, i came across an episode recently. On receiving a seat emptied by a young man, an elderly gentleman thanked his son—who wasn’t even travelling with him—instead of the guy who relinquished his position for him. The old man while making his comfortable said, "You did this for me because i’m sure my son too does this for oldies like me.” Subtle and touching at the same time but the nothing could match the priceless expression on the young Samaritan’s face. Anyway, he now has a story to share now. Like i do.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pearls from friends

A dear old friend of mine (who's not in touch anymore as is the case with most of my dear old friends) once told me how negativity is trapped inside the cobwebs in our house. He was basically suggesting that we should clean the corners of our home as religiously as we clean our armpits. 
A dear friend of mine (who's in touch with me but only twice a year i guess) once told me the reason why we feel peaceful as soon as we enter a religious place. According to him, the fact that people visit it with open heart and no malice whatsoever forcing the energy to stay nothing but positive.
A new dear friend of mine (i can only hope we are in touch forever) told me recently that negativity thoughts have a very bad habit of getting absorbed easily. Apparently, even the furniture take them in. The whole point being cynicism spreads easily because it makes itself home everywhere.

Pay attention to what they were trying to tell me because i clearly wasn't.

Let’s space it

Be it any railway line in the city—Harbour, Central or Western—there is always going to be an issue for space. Both inside as well as outside a local train. However, things are worse inside. Most of the time what happens is commuters who manage to get in first crowd up the aisle even if they have several stations to go before they alight. It’s more about attitude than the fear of missing their respective stations. What these passengers do is they choke up the narrow passages giving an impression that the train is overcrowded when in reality there is ample space to stand in the middle of the compartment. The only problem is it’s very difficult to get through as this about-to-get-down-but-aren't-going-to-down-from-train crowd only grows thicker with every passing station. In an ideal world, these people would realise that they are only creating troubles for those who not only want in but also may have a longer distance to go. Turns out we don’t live in an ideal world and some luxurious space is always going to stay vacant in the middle until and unless brave souls fight their way in.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Excuses and explanations

Na, he wasn’t hitting on you. He was merely talking. He might have found you pretty but he had no intention of taking it any farther than admiration. On the other hand, you—blessed with a hi-tech mind—deciphered signals which weren’t even transmitted in the first place. You turned into an expert on anthropology to come up with corollaries of your own. Guess what? There were no pickup lines at play. No attempt to charm you. He knows himself way too closely to push himself into an intimate spot like that. His inadequacies won't let him anyway. He was just being his usual self spouting mere jokes whose sole intention were to create an atmosphere of laughter. You know, people chuckle out loud and for those few fleeting moments, forget their shortcomings? Exactly. He doesn’t need booze to do so. He’s like this almost all the time. Yes, he may have liked your company so he might have wanted to stay by longer. He’s a lonely creature at times, blabbering away to glory. But he doesn't desire anything in return for his verbal investment. What if he wasn’t seeking a date or a night with you? Think about it. What if he believes in the present more than the past or the future? Furthermore, there were no set patterns in his approach or behaviour, were there? He wasn’t flirting with you, sweetheart. There's no explanation. Just the way he is and the way things are. He talks with others—irrespective of their gender or age—in the very manner he spoke to you. It’s either this or there’s no conversation whatsoever. You should catch him on his dull days. He quite literally disappears into his chair. He might have touched your arm while tilting his head back to laugh at his poor jokes. Believe me, he does that with much older men in his office with whom he’s never going to sleep. Just like he won’t with you. He doesn’t understand the world or the generation that he’s supposed to belong to although he pretends to. He finds it excruciatingly fake at times. The blind adoption of Western (read: American) civilization and the constant conflict with its Indian counterpart is too stark for him to ignore. And these are the signals that bother him deeply, not yours.

Old habits

A very significant personality—one of the most revered voices on politics in the city, if not the country—used to occupy this seat. He quit last week on Friday without serving a single day notice period. After all, the Chief Minister appointed him as his Chief Media Advisor so you get the drill. The reason why i’m sharing this piece of information—whether ethical or otherwise—is not just because i admired him a lot thanks to calm demeanor but also because of the nature of this particular picture. Although his desk is clear as per the norms, the office boy continues to place a daily copy for him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A reel for changing realities

At the risk of generalizing everything, i firmly believe everybody needs an escape. Some do the needful by leading somebody else’s life because theirs is unbearable while others remain true to themselves but plunge into addiction. It could be anything from alcohol to cigarettes to kissing the sky at night. I’m not particularly proud of myself for staying away from stuff that’s supposed to distinguish a child from an adult but i have my own key to escapism. People call it cinema. I call it reality. The reason being, whatever we witness on the big screen is real. The process is real and so are the intentions. I don’t see any difference between a movie and a life that’s led by norms. If you think waking up and going to office although every single cell in your body refuses to is a reality—not a movie—think again. Aren’t you following a script there? If not, what exactly are you doing? Aren’t you a puppet too without the privilege of seeing the director? There was a time when i was warming up to world cinema, watching everything came my way, worrying very little about subtitles—or the lack of them—because everything was so fucking new. And amazing! This was about a decade ago. Today, i’ve watched quite a bit and Kubrick knows i’ve much more left in my dull eyesight to absorb. However, this journey filled with a series of memorable as well as forgettable pieces of cinema has brought me closer to the realization that perhaps what’s happening on the 70mm celluloid is far more real than what’s happening on the opposite end. Maybe the crunching noise of popcorn or the slurping hiss of coke or the frisking fingers of your lover is not letting you notice it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dots and lines

More than enough has been said and not done about the unfortunate incident that took place in Delhi. When a young woman is violated inside the trusted confinement of a cab, that's bound to raise questions. And it did. Since the lady was inebriated at the time, is that an excuse for anyone—male or female—to infringe her personal space? Wouldn't blaming her be like blaming all the men in Delhi for her rape? In the same breath, doesn't the recruitment of this particular taxi driver with a history of sex offence on his side demand due corporate regulations? However, won't it also beg some consideration because it's unfair to not let a person with a horrible past have a second chance at leading a noble life? On a similar plane, what good would a blanket ban on a taxi-booking service in the capital city serve? Can it miraculously bring down the number of sexual violence reported up north? Well, no. 
For two reasons. 
1. Certain diseases don't find a cure because we refuse to accept them. 
2. Flawed mentality is one of those prevailing diseases in our country.
As a matter of fact, whenever we read about rape, it's depressing how the violence involved is amazingly overlooked. Thanks to our regressive society, the whole act is seen as sexual more than anything else. That's also one of the factors why rape victims are largely seen as liabilities by their family members. Once we come to a place where we realize that penetrating someone against their consent is no different from duly punching a person in the face, we'd be able to deal with the problem better. But as of now, we have a long way to go to classify this disease. Outrage—not full-fledged remedies—comes naturally to us. As a result, everybody is angry because this ugly event took place. We don't have the solution though. And that's probably making us angrier. We really don't have a clue how to prevent it in the near or distant future. Now, do we?

PS: In other news, three women flung a young lady from the ladies compartment of a running local train in Mumbai last week. The source of this conflict was a seat. In plain words, a murder took place with all the parties belonging to fairer sex as well as the mute audience (read: co-passengers). So, how is this any different from what happened to that 27-year-old from Delhi? Wasn't violence at work? Wasn't somebody's personal space infringed? Wasn't a mode of transport in order? Or is it too difficult to connect the dots when violence is overtly visible in one case while it's magically overlooked in another? Who isn't crossing the line?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Be for broom

If charity begins at home, then doesn't cleanliness begin on street? Before wondering about the answer, let us take you back a few months when football World Cup fever was on. Then, Japanese football fans who travelled to Brazil won hearts—both online and offline—when they cleaned up their own mess after the match ended. And they did so even when their team was on the losing side. If we dig a bit deeper, the reason why they were able to carry out these civic responsibilities so effectively—in a foreign country notwithstanding — has something to do with their education. Turns out it's a common practice in Japan to conduct cleanliness drive not only within the perimeters of school but also outdoor. Given the sudden but much-appreciated attention given to public sanitation in our city thanks to the national cleanliness drive helmed by NaMo, i was glad to recently witness young students of St. Mary cleaning up the vicinity of a public area in Vashi. Moreover, the enthusiasm shown by the kids made the sight celebratory. Something we'd love to note more of in the coming days.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Feet tremble as they approach the stage. Flashlights are blinding too. And like on a cue, sweat breaks on his brow. Funnily enough, he feels cold though. There are goosebumps in him trapped like never before. They want to escape but don’t understand how to create a Mexican wave on his skin. However, he trudges towards the microphone before taking a look at the crowd. The silence is noisy enough to make him forget the lyrics of a song he had sung a thousand times without skipping a beat. But now is different. Something only his quivering fingers know.

N.B. I'm done asking you to write 99-word stories for this site. Officially.


When he was born, she promised herself that she’d protect him—no matter what. After all, he was the brightest piece of truth in her otherwise miserable life. But promises are easier made than kept; especially when you’re a single mother in a world dominated by white men short on empathy. However, she had a reason to live and she wasn’t willing to give up on him. Which also explains why she had to fatally knife her tormentor inside a shack on the tea plantation with her little one being the sole witness of the horrific but necessary crime. 

N.B. As you must know by this, there are faaaaaaaaaaar better stories on OneFrameStories.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Benefit of surety

Back in the day a mother was showing her black-and-white wedding picture to her son. The nine-year-old boy, with his eyes beaming out of the socket, took a keen look and asked, "If this man is my dad, then who's the takloo in the drawing room?"

What we just read may be a joke but there's something intriguing about it. The boy could notice that the man he has come to know as his dad doesn't match the guy in his wedding picture. But at the same time, he's perfectly in alignment with his mother's identity. Let's give him the benefit of doubt and accept that his ma hasn't aged or changed much in appearance for over a decade now. But still. Don't you think there's something about the attachment kids—especially boys—shares with their mother? It's as if they grow old together, i must add, at the risk of generalizing the very concept of parenthood.

Blast from the past

It’s been 30 years since Bhopal gas tragedy. And if there is one lesson that we can draw from what happened then—followed by the long ongoing struggle for justice by the unsuspecting victims—then it has to be caution. After all, it’s only after a disaster takes place that we realise the extent of damage. Industrialisation undoubtedly might have increased the pace of life but it has its share of horrible sides that we are exposed to almost on a daily basis.
 Going back to what happened three decades ago, there is indeed little room for respite. Till date, the number of people who died due to the gas leak varies depending on whom we’re referring to. The confusion grows when the number of those who suffered directly or indirectly is taken into account. Against such a sorry scenario, it’s interesting to highlight that the incident took place in a state capital city, not in a fringe locale.
Which brings us back to our city.
It goes without saying that Mumbai is crammed like never before. It’s nothing less than a miracle that despite the population explosion and the ensuing lack of space, we still manage to behave like a metropolitan. In light of the aforementioned tragedy, we wonder whether our city is capable of coping with something similar in case it happens. Although the recent past suggests that Mumbai’s idea of an industrial disaster is restricted to fire outburst but that might not be true across the spectrum. There’s no denial that the air we breathe within the perimeters of this city is substantially polluted. Since agriculture is at its minimum here, we don’t—unfortunately enough—bother about soil pollution either. That leaves us water to worry about. During the monsoon, the rising gutter levels give us an idea about the kind of preparation the civic authorities haven’t done.
 Taking all the unwelcoming factors mentioned above, it's worth wondering whether our dear city would be able to cope with an industrial disaster if and when it happens. Remember how Fukushima thought it was prepared for natural series of events when it clearly wasn’t?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Signs of ageing

During the rush hours, whichever local train halting at whichever platform on Dadar station brings with it the disembarkation of a sea of humanity—to put it very mildly. A majority of this crowd make way towards the overheard bridge so as to either get out of the station or to move to another platform to catch the connecting train. We overlook the ones crossing the tracks because they don't consider their lives worthy enough. Coming back to the ascending crowd on the FOB stairs, there's hardly enough space so shrinking one's contour while moving up is a standard practice. During the ascent where we resemble penguins, accidentally hitting the heel of the person in front of you or getting hit by the one behind you is a standard practice too. What isn't is an old man with a heavy box on his head climbing the stairs while you're walking up slowly ahead of him. He'll go mad at you by mumbling, "Buddhe maafik chalta hai." The irony being lost only on time and nothing else.

An attempt at freezing time

“The entire institution of gift giving make no sense. Let's say that I go out, and I spend 50 dollars on you, it's a laborious activity, because I have to imagine what you need, where as you know what you need. Now I could simplify things, just give you the 50 dollars directly, and you could give me 50 dollars on my birthday, and so on, until one of us dies, leaving the other one old and 50 dollars richer. And I ask, is it worth it?”
- Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

I won’t challenge what the annoyingly adorable theoretical physicist said above because he makes sense. But that’s not the point you see? We, being mortals, are prone to certain activities that are meant to defy logic. What may bring with it the peril of being perceived as crazy is also something that makes us humane. And gifting each other material possessions appears like an adequately mad practice. Every gift, big or small, is an extension of love and concern—to put it unbiasedly. However, there was an extended phase when i wasn’t very appreciative of the idea of wasting time on gifting ABC to XYZ. So much so i was convinced greeting cards with their sugary lines were a devil’s enterprise. Not anymore. As of now, i’ve come to a place where it has become strikingly clear to me that time is the greatest gift we can present each other. If that’s not possible, then spending time on figuring out what kind of a gift would at least freeze moments for our loved ones is not too much to ask for. In all fairness, aren’t we all biding time restlessly hoping it would freeze, if not slow down for a while? And if a first-hand pen or a second-hand book manages to do that for us, what’s the harm? Besides, these gifts are most probably going to outlast us as well as whatever we thought was supposed to make sense.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two's company and three, epiphany

She, my brother and i were recently in a tea cafĂ©—i don't know what such a place is called because the menu was full of tea and so were the quotes on the walls—and we were wondering what to order. Unconcerned about food, my mind—propelled by the endless carnival of beverages on offer—went straight back to the turn of twenty-first century. The evening of 31st December, 1999. To celebrate the dawn of a new millennium, Star Movies had premiered Titanic on the eve of 2000. That happened to be the first as well as the last time i ever watched it. I remember wanting to grow up and become Leonardo DiCaprio’s straighter-than-arrow hair. Anyway, it's funny how an epiphany chooses its own sweet time and moment to strike us. Coming back to the more pragmatic present, while sitting at that cute little round table, i suddenly recollected that scene when Captain Smith plays with a slice of lemon in his teacup before drowning it with his spoon. I’d like to claim that i also understood the significance of that scene. Perhaps that white-bearded gentleman already foresaw the sinking of the ship-that-won’t-sink. Perhaps not. But during the pleasant afternoon the three of us gathered, it was unmistakable how the aforementioned scene just struck me before i went on and on boring two of my dearest people. Also, it was uncanny how each one of us had watched that epicness of a movie together—well, almost—15—well, almost—years ago.