Friday, December 28, 2012

Open Letter to the PM of India

Subject: I am willing to give you a chance.


India has seen innumerable cases of inhuman behavior towards women. Rapes, gang-rapes, feticide, wife-beating… the list is long and painful. Also painful is the fact that none of these crimes are not specific to the age of the women or a factor of their beauty or attire. In this country a woman can be raped while she is on the hospital bed, a woman can be raped when she is just 3 years old and not yet a woman, an old woman can be raped. A woman can be violated by one or many in turns. Can be raped using not just their “manhood” , but rods or whatever might catch the miscreants fancy.

While we are all talking about it, shaking our heads and getting worked up with impotent rage across the nation, we know in our hearts of heart that there is very little that will happen.
And that Mr. PM is a sad mirror to you and our society.

Agreed, that the real change will be when there is a major shift in the mindsets of people, which will take eons. Sad but true.

Right now, I request only one thing from you. Let us take this as the starting point and set an example.

Let us punish the perpetrators of these heinous crimes in the most appropriate way so that no man will have the guts to even think that such an act – individual or in group will go without bitter consequences.

Even as the nation’s people are facing the capital’s chilly weather, the police’s lathi charges, tear gas attacks. Even when thousands are raising their voices through peaceful protests, candle marches, social media. These crimes continue to happen.
Within this very week there has been at least one piece of news every day of someone getting raped in some part of the country. Even a 3 year old baby.

Believe me when I say we do not care under what party government these issues are happening. It is NOT a political war, please do not make it so. These crimes happen in our country 24*7 be it a BJP govt, a Congress government or a coalition government.

We do not care about what party is in power. We ONLY want quick and assured results so we know that the people in power – be it politics, police force, judiciary – care for its’ citizens irrespective of their votes, gender, caste, creed, social status. That is what your real job is.

There is a saying “der se aaye, durust aaye.” You start taking action now and we shall be willing to not rant about the past once we are assured that the present and the future crimes will be dealt with the deserved severity.

They also say “prevention is better than cure”, as some people unbelievably questioned why the girl was out so late at night. Please let me assure you – prevention is not women hiding themselves in their homes before sunset, girls getting locked up in hostels after 6:30 pm, women not using the public transport in the evening and covering each and every bit of their skin. Let me assure you Mr. PM these measures do not stop rape.

True prevention will be educating the men in this country that there is a certain respect that they need to have for the other sex. Educating the women in India who pine for having sons and then turn them into spoilt, disrespecting, pathetic  fools who are SURE that they can get away with anything and that the women are just their “pair ki jutti”.

This very “jutti” is what these men need to be slapped with. Please do not make this a political agenda – it is not. Please do not try to shove the women in their houses – because that will not solve anything and don’t forget men even rape their nieces, daughters, sisters. Please do not try to shift focus of the real agenda of the protests to the fact that some miscreants caused unrest and violence in it.


There is no dearth of evidence, motive for this case. This is a clear case. Please show some result that will help us restore our faith in you, the men, the country.

Otherwise I do not think this system deserves our respect and votes. In fact then this country does not deserve us.

I don’t know what we will do. Take to arms, take law in our own hands? You will leave us with very little option but to fight our own battle in whatever way we can.

Please take this as the first step towards real progress and prove to us that you are there not just a designation.


Monday, December 3, 2012

I am sorry I broke a home.

They were a young couple. Madly in love with each other or so they thought. They had just started building their brand new home. A cozy little abode enough for two, in a serene quiet corner. It was a carefully selected plot, away from the jarring noise of the outside world. Sheltered and cozy.

Bit by bit they added to their haven. Every day they reminded each other of the blissful life they would enjoy once their efforts brought fruit. They were already dreaming of adding to their family.

They were happy.

And then I came along. I saw what they were doing. I watched them in their joint endeavor towards a love filled abode. I was jealous. They were making their home on the foundation of a relationship that had just started budding for me. The relationship which I dreamed of nurturing and cherishing for a long time.

I did what I had to do. With my own bare hands I broke their beautiful home. I smashed it and threw away the smithereens. My unfeeling heart cold as stone. I wanted my relationship back.

And I got it back. I saved it at the cost of their home.

And now I watch them, the beautiful pair of pigeons, frantically looking for what was once their home - the money-plant pot in my balcony. They look back at me with sad eyes.

I am full of remorse.

Forgive me, I broke your home.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I can reach out
And almost touch
The dream in my heart
That calls out so much.

I can hear it clearly
Yet it is a muffled echo
I cannot grip it
Yet I cannot let go.

The music in the background
Faintly familiar notes
A haunting melody
That fills me with hope.

On the parched blank canvas
I wish it would rain
Only a flood of blues
Can bring the colors again.

Something should happen soon
With this quickly passing time
It is getting hard
Oh so hard to rhyme!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Random. Happy.

It is after a long time that I am in that state where I cannot wait to get home back to the book I am reading. I have started and left so many books in the past few weeks. As a personal rule I never force myself to complete a book. If it is not working for me I let it go. I might keep trying in future but I don’t believe in trudging through books.

So what is with this book about that I started a couple of days ago. Magic!! After ages I am reading a book on witches and wizards and the fantastic. And truth be told, that has been my favourite genre ever since I started reading. I do take breaks in between to grow old or older; to read some serious stuff (though I must let you know that I consider magic also pretty serious stuff); to try and understand the worlds of Camus and Kafka; to get inspired by Ayn Rand; to get lost in the beautiful, ornate, sentences of Salman Rushdie; to get moved by a striped pajamas clad boy or the little girl who steals books. And then I realize I need another break, to go back to my first love – the chimerical world of enchantment, magic, spells and very human magical people.

Fantastic is the world where I survive, where I breathe and feel free. The world where different lands arrive at branch ends of an old old tree, where characters jump out of books and people jump into books, where an antique bed makes you travel time. Oh the world of wonders!!

Sometimes there is an occasional raised eyebrow at the fact that even now I tend to incline greatly towards the sparkling magical world. But let me tell you a secret!! This inclination so great that I find myself tumbling, rolling, sliding, whizzing into it!! And I love it!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kadhi chawal & Ferozepur

En-route to Ludhiana from Chandigarh on a roadways bus after what seems like a life time. The journey finds me thinking of then and now. Precariously balanced on the edge of a Rexene clad three seater, next to a bulky uncle, I end up reminiscing about the time that was.

When we would jump aboard gleefully onto a yellow and white roadways bus at any time of the day. Mostly in packs. Even if there was no place to sit we would bundle ourselves into the rickety buses eager to enjoy the journey and each other’s company till one by one we got off at our respective destinations. There were no iPods in those days or iPhones or BBM. Some lucky ones had the good old Walkman which was gladly shared or equally gladly not used at all so that no one remained left out.

I remember it used to be a lucky thing for us if we managed to hop off the bus for just a minute at Talwandi and buy 3 oranges for Rs. 10. Wonder if anyone even knows how much oranges cost these days.

We did not look for AC buses or Volvos at that time. Mostly because the option was not available and also because it didn’t really matter. It did not matter if we had to stand till Talwandi or Moga or even all the way home.

If we got seats, we sat quite comfortably oblivious to the world of germs or dirt. Did we wrap our faces up with bandanas then? I don’t remember. We did use hats and caps a lot as it was awfully sunny all the time.

I also remember keeping a hand between the seat’s rod and a friend’s head while she slept to prevent her from getting hurt. Did we carry wet tissues and hand sanitizers then?
We walked to and fro from college to hostel a zillion times in the hot Sun. Some of us had the sense to use Sunscreens. Many didn’t. I used to get miserably tanned and my friends back home would find it astonishing that I could let that happen. I still don’t care about Sunscreens but do I go out in the Sun with the same gay abandon? No Sir!!

Travelling home used to be a simple task. BUNK. PACK. JUMP ON BUS.

There were some who had to board overnight trains too. To Delhi. These also travelled mostly in packs. It was fun to see this pack off. In winters, each carrying a bundle of their blanket for protection against the mind numbing cold. Stopping at Yatri Nivas for dinner. No one travelled in AC coaches then. Do we do that now? I don’t know. I try not to. In-fact it has been years since I traveled in a train.

Good time pass was sitting in the college canteen where many a times a friend herself made awesome tea. Or bunking class just to share uncle’s kadak chai while playing cows and bulls with a friend. It should be studied how many fruitful hours that simple game can occupy.
I guess I bunked a lot. I was told, once an exasperated prof during attendance screamed, “ye Geetanjali kaun hai? Main aaj tak nahi dekhi!!” (Who is this Geetanjali? I have never seen her!) Thankfully I was bunking that day too.

It did not take much courage or bravado to skip lectures. Now often just to take some time off from work, one has to carry a laptop, data card, give elaborate handovers and what not. Maybe if someone paid us to attend lectures things would be different.

For entertainment a friend and I once borrowed the juice wallahs bicycle and rode off to the cantt area. Rarely do we plan such excursions now which do not have an agenda.

Wonderful times were those, when there was just enough money for a tea and cream rolls between lectures. When the high point in life was bunk. When trips were planned just to get together and go to Husaainiwalla Border. How I miss the place. Quite a few weekends were dedicated to the border retreat and we would come back awestruck. Just to come back and have a mad water fight in the hostel. I remember the caretaker once cried out in frustration, “chandi chaddh gayi hai kudiya no!!” (“the girls are possessed by a demon”).

Often we went on strikes just to increase the hostel in time. Again no guts or glory. Just a matter of fact voice against the obvious injustice. Now to speak up against bosses at times one has to first make a mental note of available job options.

I miss Ferozepur in many ways, though I know I would not want to go there as long as I can help it. The freezing cold, the unfair hostel timings, the food.

Yet it is just the good stuff I remember. The supplis, the internals or the sometimes weird profs don’t fill me with anger any more. What comes to my mind happily is friends, cows and bulls, bunks, cokes, highest mess bill in the girls’ hostel, sad partings.

There were a lot of partings, with every year a batch leaving. One good friend shared a hand written note with a select few. I don’t remember much except how it made me feel and a “coke precariously balanced.” That note is still a part of my treasures from college.
With a very few I remember the beautiful discussions on books, life in general, madness and Harry Potter! Yep!! Harry Potter came when we were in college.

And I remember the passionate discussions on self, independence, Ayn Rand with yet another friend.

And there is a friend, with whom I shared a balcony, the English Patient and a bond which remains strong even after all these years.

It is funny how in a drab place like that we found many little oases of kindred spirits.
I am not saying that our life now is crap and was heavenly then. Maybe it was heavenly crap then and now it is crappy heaven. (This sentence is here just ‘cos it sounded funny).

As I wipe my face with a tissue I try to fight against the touristy feeling. It has not been that long but maybe I am thinking about it for the first time because of the roadways bus. The flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh did not generate any such emotion.

No, things are not bad at all now. Just different. We can buy what we want, go where we want, live in nice places, sit in AC offices, in front of laptops, take exotic holidays. Yes this life is good too. But will it inspire a sudden trip down the memory lane. Maybe. Of a different sort.
I had this mad impulse to ask anyone out there reading this, to take a trip together to the border and see if it still overwhelms us. But then impulsive actions are not too actionable. We have to do a feasibility check, logistics check, pros and cons and what not. I guess this is where the difference lies.

I heartily congratulate all who have still somehow maintained the spontaneity of life in some way or the other. I am sure we still are impulsive but in different ways. Like shifting fields of work completely just for internal satisfaction (which I realize now is the most important thing). That is a spontaneous and courageous act too albeit on a different plane.
I also hope, in some way or the other all have achieved the dreams that were cooked in the four years of Ferozepur.

While I wait for my stop musing, I hear the jolly conductor walking up and down saying in good humpur, “bhai, koi hai jeene tikat nahi litti?” It brings a smile to my face. Nowhere else would a conductor talk like that.

I am filled with a sense of deep peace. I am home.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What are you looking for?

When you talk to friends
For hours at end
Of this and that
Till your voice is spent
What are you looking for?

When you shuttle
From one person to next
Whoever you can find
To give your heart a rest
What are you looking for?

You search and search
For an understanding of some sort
Kind words you don’t get
More often than not
What are you looking for?

You wish someone would
Hear what you don’t say
When you need more than just a nudge
To help you through the day
What are you looking for?

When you want someone to inspire
Some strength into you
To add some bright colors
In your morose dull hue
What are you looking for?

When In someone else’s words
Approvals you seek
The cache of faith
With your friend that you keep.
What are you looking for?

You know the answer’s there
Right in front of your eyes
No one else do you need
But yourself to get by.
What are you looking for?

Don’t be afraid and listen
To that voice in your heart
Which has been with you always
From the very start.
Let go of your fears
And look around anew
And know
What you are looking for is YOU!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


There you are peeping
From behind the speakers
What are you looking for?
Did the music bother you
Should I play something else
Something maybe more peppy?

Or something soft and soothing
Like a lullaby
And you can go back to slumber
From which I’m afraid I disturbed you.

Maybe you mother is anxious
And looking for you on some other desks
She too peeping
From behind the jungle of laptops and speakers

Are you not scared?
Here on this desk all alone
A little thing
Next to my booming speakers

Go home Lizzy
To where you belong
And in your lizard world
Maybe you can make your own song!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Last night I discovered something which gave me my excitement for writing back! I was opening and going through my cartons of books packed during my last shifting. As it is, I find the exercise very nice, opening the boxes, sifting through books – some which I had thought as lost, some I would like to read again, some I had altogether forgotten I owned. Is it not the most joyful thing to swim in the pool of books and come out with new or rather old finds! The musty smell of old books, the crisp pages of new books, the oldest books with yellowed pages, their spines so soft that I find myself stroking them before I coax them open just so much that the pages don’t fall out. I even have an ancient copy of Catch – 22 (I must tell you I don’t lend it to anyone). It is so old that each and every page is separated from the binding. I have kept it in a small box and each page has to be picked, read and kept back in the cover. I am so crazy about that book that I had bought 2 more copies so that I can lend those to people who ask for Catch – 22 instead of my dear old torn one.

Coming back to my boxes, I had gone on a re-arranging spree last night which led me to opening the boxes and diving into them. And I discovered this notebook filled with stuff written in Hindi and because the note book was full, there were additional sheets of paper from some other notebook attached at the end.

It was my own Hindi translation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I find it hard to explain what I felt when I found that notebook. I had done this translation in 1994. I was (as compared to now) a kid then. And I had inexplicably undertaken the daunting task of translating one of the “ten books of the century” into Hindi. I leaf through the pages and see the conviction and dedication, the discipline that I claim to no longer have. And I think to myself, if back then, I could throw myself into such an activity, why can’t I do the same now? I had even translated the songs in the book and my stanzas rhymed!

I have decided to keep that book handy all the time for the way it inspires me to try yet again, to write yet again.

And I will.