Monday, December 28, 2009

A Case of The Rich vs The Poor…



I got a message asking me to wear white on the 26th of November in memory of those who died in last year’s carnage. I dutifully wore a white tee and was very pleasantly surprised to see a whole city in white. Not all had obliged but in a city of 19 Million, even if a miniscule percentage complies… it becomes a swarm of white. You can do the math if you want.

There was a countdown to the anniversary of 26/11. The Media, fresh from a couple of very recent countdowns (viz, Tendulkars 17,000 and Tendulkar’s 20 yrs of cricket or Tiger Woods’ bedding count for that matter!!) appeared frenzied about the event’s aniversary, almost as if hoping for the carnage to reoccur and boost the TRPs again. The Times of India released a Black and White edition and the same images have been splashed over and over again for the last 10 odd days. If the idea is to make the people of Bombay remember, it is a touching gesture. But what about the people who want to forget and move on and still they  wake up everyday to see their loved ones sprawled across the floor every morning?

What if the places under attack were not The Taj and The Oberoi but the other 54% of Bombay – our slums?! The Media would have given it the same coverage, but would our ‘conscious and aware ’ citizens then flock to the disregarded slums of Dharavi and light candles for them? Or shout slogans like “Bharat Maa kii shaan hai.., Mumbai meri jaan hai!”? (I’m still talking about the lesser of the two Mumbais here.)

Isn’t is a point worth pondering whether the NSG would have even been dispatched if Dharavi would have been the point of attack?




    The elite commandoes, the Home Minister’s visit, posse of policemen and the tributes of all the high profile ministers were given just because the point of attack was The Taj. Maybe they were secretly thanking their stars for having chosen some other place to squander taxpayer’s money that day!!

Maybe I am being too harsh.

I know the terrorists were being gracious in choosing the elites once and including them in our misery. The fact that they chose the iconic CST as a point of attack was an equaliser of some sorts as it was the Common Man’s Taj Mahal.

But I would be a hypocrite if I would say that I wasn’t hurt by the attack on Taj and The CST. A visit to Bombay is incomplete without gawking at The Taj. Though it is only a hotel, it enjoys equal popularity in the city when compared to it’s more illustrious namesake in Agra. Thousands throng to The Gateway of India everyday, admire it and then turn around to look at the most splendid structure of Bombay. So many times have we seen the newly-wed middle class husband show his wife The Taj proudly and then whisper conspiratorially in her ear, ‘Do you know, a cup of tea here costs Rs. 200/-’ (God knows why are we so fixated with the cost of tea at Taj and but each of the 19 million residents of Bombay are guilty of uttering the statement!) An attack on The Taj was not only an attack on India’s claim for being safe for tourists, it was also an attack on the psyche of the happy go lucky Bombayite.

The siege lasted 60 hours and it had kept an entire nation on it’s tenterhooks. After it was over, the whole nation heaved a sigh of relief and what followed was a tremendous wave of anger. In an unorganised show of solidarity, thousands had thronged to the Gateway of India to express their solidarity with those who lost their loved ones and also to declare their love for their city. 80% of the people who had come for the March had never been to The Taj and in all probability might never ever afford The Taj’s obscenely priced meals, but The Taj for the Bombayite, goes much beyond being our premier 5 star hotel.


taj at night


Still, what prompted me to write this was a nocturnal visit to the city on Christmas Eve. My friends wanted to munch on the famous kebabs from the Kebab Corners behind the Taj and when we had reached The Taj, I observed that the short stretch of road was guarded like Fort Knox. It’s a very small road and yet a slew of policemen were stationed, checking upon every motorist and trespasser. For a minute I thought we were somewhere near the border, but then I realised that the rich were attacked a year ago..!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Just felt that today's date was ‘very important’ to me and that it should be etched, immortalised in my HIStory…..

Thanks..!! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A year on…


‘We were playing a mindless game in The Office. It was the end of the day. I was juggling college with Office back then. Suddenly, my trainer got a call and his face hardened.

“There has been a bomb blast in Vile Parle.” He said before plunging into his phone again. Sometime later, his phone rang again. “There has been some shooting reported in The Taj Mahal Hotel. Some gangs decided to slug it out in the open it seems. The blast in Vile Parle was just a rumour, I guess.”

Then suddenly a girl from our team started throwing a fit. I thoroughly disliked her, let’s call her Ms.Loosepants for the time being. Apparently her brother was a member of the staff at The Taj Mahal hotel and for once, I did not find her to be attention grabbing. Everyone consoled her and said that it was just some gangsters slugging it out and not something serious. It had little effect on her. And soon news started trailing in that it was no gangwar at The Taj. Bombay was facing it’s first ever hostage situation. I still did not know what would the next 60 hrs have in store for me. I was just hoping to have a dekko at the news at home and resume reading Mohammad Hanif’s ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes.’ 

Soon, it was time to leave. It was only after I reached home that I realised the gravity of the situation. Of course, we were stopped thrice in the 20 minute drive from The Office to my house with Policemen pointing guns at us (That IS a scary experience!) and frisking everything, literally everything. I admit I was intimidated. I also did not fail to see the sheer number of makeshift bunkers that had come into place within two hours.

I had reached home at midnight. I remember watching the news until 5AM. I still remember the anguish that had set in when I saw the Taj on fire. I called Ms.Loosepants to check upon her brother. She said that her brother had called and had said he was fine and was hiding in the basement with some guests. I reassured her and asked her to go to sleep. I knew sleep would be hard to come by for the both of us. And to a lot of other people as well….



Yes. Bombay was under siege last year.. this hour of the day..

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My brilliance.. in virulence..!

 Statutory Warning # 1: Reading this post may irritate some dunderheads. Who might later storm my house and beat me up..! I give two hoots..!! :D  


Statutory Warning # 2 : Please, don’t view my posts as Anti-Marathi, they are Pro- India.






What if our Chota Cub passes out of Bombay Scottish, sails through college, does exceedingly well at the incumbent CAT and actually gets a call from one of the IIMs?

And what if it turned out to be IIM - Lucknow?


Any ordinary Marathi Manoos would have been in a dilemma. But not Cub Sir.

He roars into the mike, “My Son conquered IIM Lucknow, but he would not study there. He won’t step into the state that has been Maharashtra’s undoing..!”

A thunderous applause follows.


                    raj th


And all of a sudden, I pop out of nowhere and grab the mike from Cub Sir’s hands. (It’s MY blog, you see!)


I roar into the mike now.


“All hail the upholder of Maratha Pride! It is He who has shown us The Way. Like scattered sheep we were wandering aimlessly but now, we’ve found our Shepherd. Like Moses parted the Sea with his staff to make way for the Christians, Cub Sir would part the Indians to make way for the Marathis!

      My fellow Maharashtrians, let us all, at this solemn moment, pledge to not waver like Cub Sir. Let His wisdom give us the strength to emulate him.

             Let us all pledge to never desert Maharashtra. Even if our kids make it to the IITs and the IIMs, let them serve Maharashtra in Maharashtra, for we were fortunate enough to be born here. So, let our children live, rot and die here without ever stepping out of Maharashtra for they were equally fortunate to be born here. Let us kill them all by confining their bright, young minds within the walls of a city and the confines of a language. Let’s poison their thoughts while our leaders indulge themselves in a disgusting orgy of renaming schools and erecting token memorials! Let us rest on our laurels, slip into a trance and croak our throats out over our superiority over the rest of ‘them’! Croak – yes.. we’ll croak because we’re no better than the proverbial frog in the well..!”


I am finished. I return the mike to Cub Sir.

There is pin drop silence. One man gets up and yells an obscenity at me. Others follow suit.. soon they start throwing slippers at me.


Alas! Nobody likes to listen to the truth..

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When Karan kowtowed…



               Karan Johar is indeed a lucky chap that I am busy with my examinations. He is a great director and I love his movies because they so wonderfully espouse the Indian values and demonstrate to the world the greatness of the Indian culture. Though his last movie was a preposterous story about adultery and independent women, I liked it because both make good fiction. I was keen to watch his new movie, Wake Up Sid. But I won’t be watching it now.

Not because my friend said that it was a terrible movie, but because Karan Johar, with this movie, showed how ungrateful he could be to the city that gave him everything. Calling the city by it’s colonial name is sacrilege. The mere mention of the dreaded word, Bombay brings into mind hideous memories of our terribly secular, cosmopolitan, inclusive, spinster-like past. Bombay was a city riddled with problems. Slums, People, Women, Muslims, Madrasis, Stray Dogs etc. defiled the city. Our Beloved Leader had redeemed us and had solved our problems with one move. He renamed the city, and Bombay was gone! We were given a new city to live in. Since then, we have seen so many concrete steps (pun inserted by accident) being taken to prevent influx of poor people into the city. Barring the occasional bomb blast or the accidental flood, we have seen virtually no crime save a few rapes and some silly murders.

In fact, Mumbai is looking forward to a great future. We have just inaugurated the costliest bridge in all of Asia (by way of toll costs too) . We consume the least power in the country (As we don’t have it for the better part of the day!) Our airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport) is undergoing renovation, so is our railway station (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus) and our museum (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vaastu Sanghralaya) is already a Grade I heritage structure. In some years, we will have a statue of Maharaj in the middle of the Arabian sea. It is rumoured to be taller than the Statue of Liberty itself. Contrary to popular perception, it is not a lavish indulgence on part of the Government, but it is a clever ploy to attract more tourists from the sea. (Accidental pun # 2)

Coming back to the main topic, that ungrateful Karan Johar will lose out on Rs.160 as I am not going to watching a movie which ‘hurt’ my sentiments. Besides, the entire movie does not feature a single Marathi actor and the dialogue writer was some South Indian half-wit who dared to refer to Mumbai as Bombay. Do we call his city Madras or Trivandrum?

Our Tiger Cub saved Karan Johar from our Beloved Leader’s wrath and Karan Johar rightfully paid obeisance to Mr. Cub and accepted his mistake. Cub Sir has dared people to use the tabooed word again and face dire consequences! Chota Cub Sir though, studies in Bombay Scottish. Cruel twist of fate.

Cub Sir’s secret obsession is to rename Bombay Times, the only problem is that they are too powerful for Cub Sir’s liking!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ismat Aapa Ke Naam…!!


I was looking forward to this day a lot. I had tickets for the Motley Theatre Fest’s play ‘Ismat Aapa Ke Naam’. It is the enactment of three short stories by the famed and controversial Urdu writer, Ismat Chugtai. Motley prefers to call it a story telling session, but it is an enactment actually. With no change to the original dialogues, minimal props and despite having only one actor for each story, it still didn’t come across as a story telling session. It was enacted by three masters, from the same family – Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak and Heeba Shah.

I saw the last two Motley plays at Prithvi (Bombay’s Mecca of theatre) and NCPA ( Mecca II, maybe!) respectively and I knew that a certain B.N. Vaidya Hall (What a dicey name!), however good it may be, would disappoint me. I was not wrong. It turned out to be King George school’s (Predictably renamed as Raje Shivaji School) auditorium. The crowd too, was the all too familiar assortment of the too affable, art loving, bourgeoisie intelligentsia. Everyone, with the exception of my friend and me, seemed to know each other. The only consolation was that there were more younger people. The last time, at NCPA, we were the only 20 something among a crowd of 100 people who had come to see ‘The Caine Mutiny Court Martial’. Everyone seemed to be on the wrong side of the 60s there.

The play (or should I say, the story telling session) began at 8.00 PM as scheduled. And right away, we were transported to middle class Muslim families in U.P.

The name of the first story was ‘Chui Mui’ and was portrayed by Heeba Shah. Her diction and narration was flawless, as she told us the story of a pregnant Bhabhi Jan from the eyes of a young girl. It hit me in the face, the contrast between the pampered rich Bhabhi Jan, and a poor woman.

I was still applauding for Heeba Shah when the second story began almost immediately (No props, you see!). It was the moment I was waiting for. It was ‘Mughal Bachha’, Ratna Pathak’s turn. My Friend and I, are unabashed admirers of Ratna Pathak, and were very keen to see her performing an Urdu rendition.She looks more stunning in real life than in TV. Her tone, her pitch and those expressions were picture perfect. To say that she played her part with panache, would only state the obvious. Or perhaps it is a huge understatement.


They had reserved the best for the last. Pop! Jumped in Naseeruddin Shah with a delightful comic caper. The name of the story was “Gharwali” and I don’t think lust was ever portrayed in such a funny manner and not once did it appear raunchy. From the feisty, carefree Lajjo to the bumbling, old bachelor Mirza, Naseer jumped in and out of characters with ease, as the audience watched, mesmerised. He had the audience guffawing one moment, and sit upright the very next moment. His mastery of the art shone through his performance which, was the cherry on the cake, literally!


In the end, I realised I was standing, clapping loudly like small kid who’s just seen the magician pull a rabbit out of his hat!

P.S.: Tomorrow is the grand finale of the Motley Fest as they perform their most famous, longest running play – Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.’ I doubt if I’ll be able to sleep tonight..!! :D

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Foyer Voyeur..!


“When the chips are down, these civilized men won’t hesitate to eat each other!”

This is a dialogue from the movie The Dark Knight. This is where The Joker tries to explain to The Batman about the futility of standing up for the civilized society. The Joker had the best dialogues in the movie but I felt this was a little too much. I rolled my eyes back then. Later, the more I thought about it, the more it became evident. Scratch the surface, our holier-than-thou façade starts to fade and we can see the real self. The Self that The Joker was alluding to. The one that would not hesitate to kill The Other at the drop of a hat. It is well concealed beneath the pleasantries and the etiquettes. The real us is always lurking near the surface though. It’s like a bunch of vampires trying hard to lead a life between a bevy of beautiful girls. This façade nauseates me. Underneath the masquerade, everybody is a voyeur and a savage.

It is not a very unknown part of us. Man recognized his Frankenstein long back, but we have now started to feed the voyeur within us. It is despicable. Collect some celebrities and put them in a room full of cameras for the world to see. We all sit glued to it, fascinated, watching the celebrity eat and drink like us. It makes us feel better when we see that they too, break wind like us. And if not celebrities, bring a middle aged Mom to the hot seat and put her through the most uncomfortable and sadistic of questions and make her answer them for the lure of money. The audience won’t even know the name of the 50 something Mom and, in all probability, would never bump into her, yet they are transfixed to the seat during the commercial break post which she will reveal her husband’s role in her son’s birth. People forget to eat, they wait with bated breath as the skeletons tumble out of her closet.

The other day, Amma was watching something on her Tamil channel. It was the interview of a man who lost his limbs while trying to cross railway tracks. He explained how the railway station has no foot-over-bridge for people to cross over and said, amidst tears, how his life had grinded to a full stop after the accident. That he was the sole breadwinner of a poor family and how his illiterate wife now struggles to make both ends meet. It was immediately followed by the story of a Kid who was blinded in the Slumdog Millionaire style. The next week they were to air the story of a Kid who was raped by her father. I was all ears, disgusted with myself for being the voyeur that I was.

The other day, I was at the bus stop, at 12.30 AM. It was the last bus of the day and we were an impatient crowd waiting for it. It arrived finally and all hell broke loose. People jumped upon the bus like a pack of wolves over a solitary lamb. Forget about queue etiquettes and chivalry, even children were not spared. Once inside the bus did people realise that it was an empty bus. People were now smiling sheepishly at each other from the comforts of their window seats.

It disgusts me. When I see people craning their neck from the window of a bus to get a better view of the drunkard who is beating his wife or when people rush too see an accident site and are almost disappointed when there are no casualties. Or when I see civilized women pull each other’s hair in public over matters as quotidian as a window seat in a bus and when the other men stand on their seats to get a better view of the fight.

These educated educated people define a voyeur as the ‘one who peeps into the ladies’ rooms.’ What about the people who peep into other’s lives? Aren’t they voyeurs as well?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Freedom of Expression, anyone?

                 advani on jinnah


  So, Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP. Well, the ‘Party with a difference’ did not seem to appreciate the fact that Jaswant’s book claimed that Nehru and Patel were also responsible for the Partition of India. Quite contrary to the dominant Indian historical narrative that Jinnah, the conspiratorial figure, in cahoots with the British brought about the Partition of India. In most historical accounts of the Freedom Struggle, he is shown as the obstinate villain who is coldly bent on partitioning India while Gandhi and Nehru as portrayed as the true leaders. In the rest, he is completely ignored.

                     The truth, however, is more complex. For the first two decades of his political career, Jinnah was a secular politician. He was a natty westerner with Victorian manners who showed himself as a true liberal who believed in education, rationality and democracy. In 1916, he was called as the ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’ by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He moved away from the Congress around 1925 after differences in strategies with Gandhi over the ways to attain freedom. It was only in the 1940s that Jinnah demanded a separate homeland for Muslims after all his attempts for a loose federation failed.

                What many are unaware of is the fact that it was not only religion that led to the division of India. Religion was merely a front, it was mostly politics. Or the lure of power, perhaps. We squabbled like cats over a piece of cake. Moreover, the British tactics of ‘Divide and Rule’ and of exploiting the communal divide in India was the perfect catalyst. All these are forgotten in order to lynch Jinnah. India was always the land of a thousand warring kings and as Indians, we always were the quarrelling lot, be it on basis of religion, caste, language or region. As Maulana Mohammad Ali rightly said to the British once, “We divide, and you rule.”


                 I was never a great admirer of Jinnah nor is this post to be considered as my justification of the Partition. Jinnah, for all his secular nature, had a communal streak as well. His claim that the Muslim League was the only voice of the Muslims was plainly communal. While Pakistani historians blame the Congress for being too rigid to make compromises in a diverse democracy, Indian historians blame Jinnah and Liaquat Ali for sabotaging any chance of a unified India. Still, we need to do away with the myth that the British partitioned India and accept the fact that it was always the ‘We divide, you rule.’ syndrome.

         As for Jaswant Singh being booted out of the BJP for writing the book, it is the price he paid for telling the truth. What’s worse is that the Book was banned in Gujarat and soon other states will follow suit. Freedom of expression, anyone?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Rakhi on the table...

As Indians, we have some festival or the other everyday. After all, we have 33 crore Gods to appease not to forget a Jesus and an Allah. There have been so many instances where someone walks upto to me and says that today is So-and-So festival.
And all I can manage is a bewildered, ‘Huh?’ And this expression does little to hide my ignorance.
Living in Bombay, or ‘The Great Ruined Metropolis’ as Salman Rushdie would say, has it’s own pitfalls. Festivals have lost their zing. Many have been reduced to mere holidays. Tomorrow is one of the most beautiful festivals – Raksha Bandhan!
On the day of Raksha Bandhan, the Sister ties a Rakhi (Holy thread)on the wrist of her brother. The Brother, in return, gives her a gift and vows to protect her. It is one of the few festivals in India that transcend the boundaries of religion because people of every religion seem to have siblings.
My memories of Raksha Bandhan will always be special. I remember, as a Kid, my sisters used to wait till I woke up and bathed fresh. They would then tie beautiful Rakhis and in return, I would give them 10 Rupees each. (Dad used to leave them on the table for me.) All day, I would strut around brandishing my Rakhis.
           Raksha B
         What made me blog about Raksha Bandhan today was the fact that Mum had gone to my Sister’s place and She came back with a Rakhi which I am supposed to tie on my wrist tomorrow. By myself. My Sister lives in Bombay, which incidentally happens to be the city that I live in!  My other sister is settled abroad, She sent me a Rakhi by post once. I doubt if she would even message tomorrow. She wouldn’t even know that it is Raksha Bandhan tomorrow. We are bound by our personal commitments which has led the once inseparable siblings lead disjointed lives.
      As I write this, I see my Rakhi for tomorrow lying on the table in it’s plastic wrapping. Mum will tie the Rakhi.I am reminded of how my sisters used to hide the Rakhis so that I could not see what they looked like. I am reminded of all the fun and all the silly jokes we cracked at 1.00 in the morning. I wish life had a rewind button..! I so wish.. :(

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Selective Altruism...

 DISCLAIMER: A very disorganised and disoriented post ahead!

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
-George Bernard Shaw


                    I have wondered about the same since I was in school. If I were to be born in Germany, wouldn’t have Germany qualified as the greatest nation for me? Wouldn’t then Deutsch be the most poetic language of all? And how proud would I be of the fact that my Great Nation Germany, and not India (As Indians like to claim), is the cradle of mankind. India for me would be the dirty, poor country of the Third World then. I would be ready to die for the cause of Deutschland. Same would be the case if I were to be born in Pakistan. I would be appalled at India’s insensitivity towards human rights, I would back Pakistan towards ‘saving’ Kashmir and cry indignantly every time India would accuse us for exporting terror.

         But then, wise people have argued with me over this. One even said, ‘God chose you to be born in India, which incidentally happens to be the greatest Nation of the world.’ I kept quiet then not really understanding the reason for God’s unprecedented generosity for me. On a more serious note though, I believe that Patriotism is a very artificially created virtue and it is maintained through a network of lies, falsehoods and assumptions. It is a menace, actually.

              It is great to love one’s motherland but why is everyone so arrogant about it? We don’t get to choose the place of our birth, so why gloat about something that was decided by fate? It’s not wrong to love one’s country, but why does the love have to stop at the border? Why is the hatred for the neighbouring country considered to be the barometer of one’s patriotism?                                    

Isn’t the Patriot the one who loves his country and would not hesitate to lay down his life for it’s cause? And isn’t he the same guy who has the moral authority to raise hell, run amok, and destroy public property in frenzied outbursts of morality? If not anarchy, isn’t Patriotism ‘Selective Altruism’?

       It is natural to think of Army men as the most patriotic of all people given the nature of their vocation. But is not the Old Man who stubbornly refuses to pay bribes to corrupt Government Officials a Patriot as well? Or the little Kid who plants trees in his garden after learning about deforestation in School? Or the Common Man who silently wipes a tear when terrorists hold his city to ransom? Perhaps, the zealot who bellows his lungs out about India’s cultural superiority over the rest of the world is greatest patriot of all.

For me, it’s selective altruism. Yes, that’s what it is.. Selective Altruism!!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ramchand Pakistani..!


I got back to watching movies after quite some time. I want to see ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ but the movie seems to elude me big time! So, the Sunday afternoon was spent watching ‘Ramchand Pakistani’. To be honest, I was not too keen to watch the movie as was the case with ‘Khuda Ke Liye’. But what enticed me was the fact that the movie was Pakistani and therefore would help me in my Urdu lessons! :D                                                                                                                    The movie is about an eight year old Pakistani boy Ramchand who inadvertently crosses the border and wanders into Indian territory. The boy’s worried father follows him and both are arrested by Indian officers.

                  What follows is little Ramchand’s struggle to cope up with the trauma of forced separation from his mother and the fact that he is being held prisoner with his father in an enemy country. It portrays a family that is at the bottom of a very discriminatory religious and social ladder and the irony is compounded by the acrimonious political relations between India and Pakistan. Worse, both the countries are tantalisingly on the brink of war following the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2002. On the other hand, Ramchand’s devastated mother tries to wage a solitary struggle for survival.

                 The film also makes some glaring error/stereotypes when it comes to Indians. A seemingly educated Police Officer refuses to touch Ramchand upon learning that he is an untouchable. The very promiscuous Officer then assumes the role of Ramchand’s mother in jail. With her ridiculously low necked Police Uniform, she perfectly depicts the depraved Indian Woman for the conservative Pakistani audience.  Curiously, the Bhuj/Kutch police speak Hindi in a very prominent Bambaiyya accent. It is so prominent that even I (A Bombayite) found it to be very heavy. Of course, it is another stereotype that Indians are poor speakers of the language.

                      The Jail life is shown as a vacation and is fun. Perhaps this was deliberate by the director. She focuses more on the Human relations and the bonding between Ramchand and his father, the promiscuous Warden and the fellow prisoners and police men. Some scenes are truly poignant. Like the scene where Ramchand’s father teaches him to ride a bicycle or the one where Ramchand is released. The Father plays his role to perfection and one actually feels sorry for the Pakistanis languishing in Indian jails. Nandita Das does justice to her role as well, but it is the young Ramchand who steals the show. His big, button-like eyes, childish tantrums bring out the kindest in you.

My Advice : Ignore the stereotypes, they are pretty harmless and watch the movie for Ramchand and his father..!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Troll’s tale..! :D

        I am going through one of those phases in life where nothing ever goes right. This is more in context to The Office. We are out of training and it is time to perform. It is needless to say that I am not making my Trainer proud by my performance. My performance is so pathetic that often I wonder how The Company hasn’t issued a troll alert against my name yet. That hasn’t lifted my spirits, in fact my dispiritedness has been augmented by the fact that two of my best buddies have outperformed everybody by a margin and it makes me stick out like a sore thumb between them. What hardly helps matters is that the only guy who could’ve matched my troll-ishness has left the company. So now I am lonely as well.  And I have all the more reason to miss him.

                    When The Trainer appraises us of our performance and reminds me what a moron I have been, I look around to see the Winners look at me with surprise at my inability to meet such a ridiculously easy target. I then turn to fellow morons who try to alleviate my embarrassment by attributing the Winners’ performance entirely to luck.

           Today, I was pretty worked up to do something at The Office. I had to endure another of The Trainer’s motivational speeches last night. If not for anything else, I wanted to do well so that I could escape my trainer’s accidental brushes with intelligence.

                           I managed to do well until Miss Shanghai called up. Miss Shanghai was on a three way call with Miss 1942 and wanted me to help Miss 1942 place an order. I was in a great mood and I went out of the way to help her place the order. After all, good customer service is my forte! Once I had finished placing the order, I was required to read a set of disclosures. I went through them blithely. Miss 1942 was in a hurry. I had to coax her to sit and listen to my blabbering as she was required to accept them. I tried to be as good humoured as possible. Finally, I was through with them and I was smiling broadly for having done an excellent job! I finally wouldn’t have to bear with The Trainer’s droning at the end of the day!

   I was just about to pat my back, when I hear Miss Shanghai’s voice over the phone. Apparently, they continued talking and were unaware of my presence.

Whew, We’re done finally! He took a long time..!” said Miss Shanghai.

“Yeah, and I wonder why, of all the people in the world only I had to endure this moron?” Replied Miss 1942. And she went on to perform a very nasty imitation of me.

And if you would have seen the expression on my face then, you could have seen what a deflating tyre looks like!! :D

Friday, June 26, 2009

MJ, no more?


                       I was browsing the internet at 5.00 in the morning and came across a news article that said that Michael Jackson was dead. I was shocked. I mean, he was so young. I know life is uncertain and that death is always sudden. But Michael Jackson? It was one of the most cruel twists of fate. He was scheduled to perform a comeback tour next month in Britain which was touted to be the greatest comeback tour ever..! The fact that fate robbed him of his last opportunity of regaining his lost glory makes his demise even more painful.

                      I know it sounds selfish but I wish that MJ would have lived long enough to enthrall his fans one last time..! He certainly didn’t deserve to die in this ignominy and loneliness. For an MJ fan, his untimely death, just before his farewell concert is devastating. Words seem to elude me and I am groping for expressions that would describe my anguish for this loss. Life has been so unfair to him. And for all the horror that he had to endure courtesy the media and the relentless paparazzi, MJ deserves more than a post from an obscure blogger.

            For me, It would take some time for me to come into terms with the fact that the King is no more and that he would not slide his shoes across the floor.. ever..!




                           And now, as I relay this news to Mum at 6.00 AM, She is equally shocked..! She was an ardent MJ fan as well...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finally... :D :D

                  The sun was beating hard on the back of my neck. I was on my way back from class. The walk from my college to the bus stop is a long one and this is where I try to exercise the grey matter between my ears.

                    I was in one of such reveries when I realised that the sun was no longer beating upon me. I looked around and saw the familiar darkening of the skies. I tried smelling the air. I swear I could smell the arrival of the monsoon. The road I use is a busy road and is adorned with some really magnificent trees. When I looked around, I could see people beginning to rush, birds chirping happily, the same busy traffic and the all so familiar chaos but it all seemed so beautiful now.


                I boarded the bus and by the time I reached home, the skies had given in and it was drizzling steadily. The clap of thunder was like music to the ears and it marked the beginning of the most delayed monsoon of the decade. I was savouring the sights and the smells as the skies bellowed again. The drizzle was steadily increasing. The smell of the earth during the monsoons is mesmerising and is the greatest treat to the olfactory nerves. I stopped and I took a deep breath.

With the taste of the damp earth still lingering in my senses, I knocked the door. It was afternoon and the room was pitch dark. I realised that we got the first power cut of the monsoon as well..!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Case of misdirected concern…!

                     It was the day the Sri Lankan army blew the top of Prabhakaran’s head off.

Mum was not so happy. I too, felt bad for the fallen leader the same way I felt sorry when I saw the videos of Saddam Hussain’s last moments. I thought it was the same with Mum.

“So, what about the Tamils in Sri Lanka now? Would their lives be any better now under the Sinhala Government?” She asked.

“Why should we care? Don’t we have enough on our platter?” I replied, rolling my eyes. I knew where it was leading.

Arre, how can you say that? Don’t you know how Tamils are discriminated against by the Sinhala Government?” She asked incredulously.

“They are not Indians, why should we care?” I replied, irritated.

“If we don’t, who will?” She asked, it was a line straight out of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. “That Rajapakse (Sri Lankan President) is worse than Hitler!”

I think it was  poor analogy, but then Mum, being my Mum, has her own set of theatrical ways of showing her concern. It was her way of saying that she hated Rajapakse as much as she hated Hitler.

“Why should we care? Just because they speak our language doesn’t mean we should feel their pain too!” I persisted.

“Why do you think I say this because they are Tamils? Isn’t there something known as Humanity?” Mum demanded indignantly.

“Oh! Humanity, was it? Where was your Humanity when our Tiger Cub was bellowing his lungs out against fellow Indians? Don’t they deserve more of our concern?”

“Do you feel the same for the Humanitarian crisis in Chechnya and Somalia? Or Sierra Leone for that matter?” I asked, mockingly.

“Alas, Son! I am not as well read as you. I don’t even know what ails these countries.” She replied sarcastically. “Though, I have never been so condescending when you spoke at length about the horror of the Taliban or when you felt sad for Pakistan. They’re not Indians as well.”

“That, was for Humanity.I felt sad for our neighbours and fellow humans.” I replied airily.

“Well, So did I.” It was her turn to roll her eyes..!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


                       The World has a weakness for people who are modest. We all love the person who belittles his own abilities and achievements. He endears himself to us by embracing mediocrity and coming down to our level. He is virtuous and noble. Had he exhorted us to come up to his level and become his equal, he would have been termed arrogant and blasphemous. It puzzles me.

                                 Isn’t being modest akin to being dishonest? And isn’t dishonesty the worst disease that afflicts mankind? What is wrong in acknowledging the fact that one is a gifted singer without looking down upon people who cannot sing? Isn’t that accepting and thanking God for a wonderful gift? We certainly don’t do justice to God for bestowing a rare gift by feigning modesty to gain acceptance in the society and feed our dark, conceited self in loneliness.

          We all despise the smooth tongued hypocrite who sings praises in our presence and becomes the exact opposite when we turn our backs to him. Worse perhaps, he despises us from deepest recesses of his heart. Similar is the person who feigns modesty. He has a glib tongue, he uses it to endear himself to us but deep down he despises the same people for being so mediocre.

                   People often misconstrue honesty with arrogance. There is a huge difference between the two. For the honest person, an attempt to feign modesty is akin to flirting with dishonesty. For the others, the lines are blurred. Whenever I said that I did not believe in modesty and that I feel that modesty promotes mediocrity, I have seen knowing glances being exchanged. Some look at me with a wry smile as if I am proud of being arrogant. Maybe I was not coherent enough, or my audience just couldn’t see the point I was trying to make.

              Maybe the list of virtues was prepared by a person who was dishonest himself. It has been drilled into us since time immemorial and has become a very indispensable evil now. Imagine a world full of honest individuals. Modesty would not find a place in our list of virtues. Modesty helps mediocrity survive. I believe that we would have gone a long way had we not been taught to feign modesty in every walk of life!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Some cerebration...for a change


                       I’m in training so I guess I have lots of free time to use the matter between my ears. Not for practical purposes though, it’s when my trainer explains to us the intricacies of our profession do I allow my mind to wander towards more fertile areas while putting on a ‘very interested’ expression at the same time. I am an expert at this. (Considering the fact that I have been doing this successfully for three weeks without getting caught even once!) My trainer believes that I am one of the most attentive blokes in the class. So I present some products of my fecund imagination..which I churned out when I was ‘attentively’ listening to him...!


I see so much potential around me, so many bright minds.. so much of variegated talent, and I see an entire generation working jobs they don’t deserve.

Attending to rude, drunk foreigners, bending over their backs to please people they’ll never meet … wasting precious days of an already oh-so-short life . Doing this of their own volition, killing their own ambition... burying their talent in pursuit of material happiness , to fuel their vices .. or to pay the bills for their ill-advised indulgencies. A lifetime spent chasing cars, skirts and everything that you’d never need.

I don’t believe that there is a ‘higher’ purpose to our lives; that we need to ‘realise’ something in our lives or seek a greater ‘truth’ through renunciation. But we seem to have lost freedom to pursue our innermost passion.. the real thing that drives us..!

As I write this, I see a Performer who knows nothing but music and acting struggle to come up with a phrase that would ‘positively affirm’ his customer’s selection while A Poet, An Artist, A Struggling Director, A Choreographer and An Observer (Me, of course) watch expressionlessly...

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Our American Client was visiting India. This made the Management anxious and it became worse when they realised that The Client might want to meet the new hires. Now, the Training team was anxious as well. The Trainers were now using The Client visit as an excuse to keep the trainees on their best behaviour.

               They would always talk in hushed tones when referring to The Client as if they were letting us in their secret. This trick worked well when The Client finally visited us last night. I suddenly felt the tension in a palpable wave.  Our Manager entered first and She played the perfect gatekeeper to The Client. She kept the door open long enough to let me wonder if she was expecting a tip from The Client. Now, She is a stunner but I had to stifle a laugh to see her bend over her back to please The Client. Soon, she realised that The Client had completely forgotten her existence and was more interested in us so, the Manager sheepishly closed the door and departed.

         When I learnt that The Client was also a ‘She’, I was expecting a blonde bombshell. I was sorely disappointed upon seeing that the blonde was Old and Fat too. After her customary ‘About Me’ section, she asked us to introduce us to her.

So began a tirade of names and a corrupted repetition of them. I was pretty scared of saying my name because I guffawed pretty audibly when a certain Hasmukh became Hash-Smoke. Thankfully, She didn’t try to repeat my name, maybe it went way over her head. I was relieved nonetheless.

            Soon, people bombarded her with their seemingly intelligent questions. The Client, to be fair,  turned out to be pretty nice and had a sense of humour as well. Patiently, she answered all the questions ranging from Swimming pools to Beer and from her Mobile phone to a colleague’s daughter! Curiously though, She reminded me of Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series.


                   She then went on to explain how the Women of America are so fiercely independent and how the fact that 40% of American Mothers were unmarried and actually reflected upon their independence. How they worked for long hours and were unlike the Europeans who enjoyed more benefits and holidays. And how the Americans were better parents, had better education and she also confessed her ignorance of Hindi despite visiting India more than 15 times.

Now, it was her turn to ask us questions. We were to give reasons as to why we loved America and what attracted us to America and so we did dutifully.

“What is special about Barack Obama?” She asked. A Four year old could have answered that.

“He is the first Afro-American President of the U.S.” A Smarty answered. In the far corner, the trainer sighed in gratitude as The Smarty didn’t say ‘Black President’.

                              ‘It is derogatory’, The Trainer would have said, pronouncing ‘derogatory’ in the most ridiculous manner I have ever heard.

Meanwhile, The Smarty nodded knowingly.

Maybe it rubbed onto the The Client in a wrong way, she blurted out almost immediately, “It’s like you Hindus use Caste background, We Americans use Ethnic backgrounds to differentiate.”

Now, It was my turn to roll my eyes. So much for being a developed nation!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Top Ten Patriotic Songs..!

After a long time, I listened to some patriotic songs. I had this playlist named ‘Patriotic’ which I rarely played. For some reason, I played them last evening. I am not a Patriot in the real sense of the word, but the exercise did affect me. I then decided to list my favourite patriotic songs in a post. So here it is..


1. Ab Tumhaare Hawale Watan Saathiyon
   Movie : Haqeekat (1964)
   Lyrics : Kaifi Azmi
   Singer : Mohammad Rafi

Perhaps, the most glowing tribute to a soldier. I run out of words to describe the feeling when I listen to this song. A gem from the legendary Mohammad Rafi, the lyrics are so touching that one cannot listen to this song just once.


2.   Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon
      Lyrics : Kavi Pradeep
      Singer : Lata Mangeshkar

This is perhaps, the most famous patriotic song in India. Kavi Pradeep composed this song in 1962 when he heard the story of Major Shaitan Singh Bhaati during the Sino-Indian war. It was famously performed live by Lata Mangeshkar on the 26th of January 1963. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was moved to tears upon hearing this song. And Nehru is not alone.


3.  Ae Mere Pyaare Watan
     Movie: Kabuliwala (1961)
     Lyrics : Gulzar
     Singer : Manna Dey

This is perhaps the only song that is not about India. It is about the Kabuliwala who misses his motherland, Afghanistan.

“Chodakar teri zameen ko duur aa pahunche hain hum,
  phir bhi hain yahi hain tamannaa tere zarron ki kasam,
  hum jahaan paidaa hue,uss jagah hi nikale ye dum
  tujhpe dil qurbaan..!”

These lines move me to tears every time..!If someone misses his motherland, he should listen to this song.. esp. these lines!


4. Aaj Himalay Ki Choti Se Phir Humne Lalkara Hai.. 
   Duur Hato Ae Duniyawalon Hindustan Humara Hai..!!
   Movie : Kismat (1943)
   Lyrics : Kavi Pradeep

This song was a pre-independence rage in India. While the song was supposed to be a song which sounded like a warning to the Axis powers, the Indians understood the true meaning of the song. This song became so popular that it used to be played 4-5 times in the cinema hall during the screening of the movie. The British soon realised the meaning of the song and Kavi Pradeep had to go underground to evade arrest.


5. Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera
    Movie  : Swades (2004)
    Lyrics :Javed Akhtar
    Singer : AR Rahman

If ever I go out of India for a long time, this is one song that I will NOT dare to listen. AR Rahman pours out his soul in this song. The shehnai (a tube-like aero phonic instrument) is simply amazing. The music is soul stirring and the lyrics are touching. This is one song that is always in my list of 'Most played songs."


6. Ae Watan ae Watan
    Movie : Shaheed (1965)
    Lyrics : Prem Dhawan
    Singer : Mohammad Rafi

Another gem from Mohammad Rafi. This was perhaps the first of the Bhagat SIngh movies to be released and this was the best song among all the Bhagat Singh movies that we have till date.


7.  Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna
    Movie   : Shaheed (1965)
    Lyrics   : Ram Prasad Bismil
    Singers : Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey & Rajendra Bhatia

This song was penned by the freedom fighter Ram Prasad Bismil. Powerful lyrics and in rich Urdu, this song in indispensable in any to the Top 10s of Indian patriotic songs.


8.  Mera Rang De Basanti
    Movie   : Shaheed (1965)
   Lyrics    : Prem Dhawan
   Singers  : Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor & Rajendra Bhatia

The third Shaheed song in the list. This is another moving song. Many versions of the same song have followed since. But few can create the magic of Mahendra Kapoor and Mukesh.


9. Aao Bachhon Tumhe Dikhaon
    Movie   : Jagriti (1954)
    Lyrics  : Kavi Pradeep
    Singers : Kavi Pradeep

This is another of Kavi Pradeep’s famous songs. It is from the movie Jagriti which was later copied as the 1957 Pakistani movie, Bedaari. It even features the same songs, only the word Hindustan is replaced by Pakistan.


10. Maula Mere Lele Meri Jaan
     Movie   : Chak De India (2007)
     Lyrics   : Jaideep Sahni
    Singers  : Krishna, Salim Merchant

This entry would perhaps surprise many. This is not a paean to India, in fact it is a Muslim’s lament to his mother land. He says that he has always been a good son, and grieves at being ostracised. 


Also I wanted to include AR Rahman’s ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’, Purab aur Paschim’s “Hai Preet Jahaan Ki Reet Sada” and “Dulhan Chali”. Not to forget Allama Iqbal’s “Saare Jahaan se Achcha” While "Saare Jahaan se Achcha" was a sure entry in the top ten, I did not do it on purpose. Perhaps, it belongs to a different genre altogether!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The most haunting song ... Ever!!


  I was chatting with a friend this Friday when he suddenly mentioned that he was listening to Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’. A mere mention of the song brings into mind the harrowing video and it’s even more haunting lyrics.

This song was not written by him, but in all means when you see the video or hear Johnny Cash’s baritone mouth the lyrics, you know that he has made the song his own.

The song becomes sadder as it progresses and the video becomes more haunting. It peaks, and the song ends. But not before leaving many of us tearful or affected at least. It is not depressing, but is haunting. It explores every aspect of his personality. From the height of fame to loneliness, from fun and frolic to patriotism and from drugs and alcohol to religion .

                  To see Johnny Cash, alone, looking back at an illustrious past, to see him in failing health, longing to be with his wife (she died a few months back) is an emotional exercise. I don’t think many songs to match up to ‘Hurt’ in terms of emotional impact.

It is a song that’ll touch every listener. And the video would cause heartache. To say that Cash died a few months after composing such a masterpiece does ensure that the ‘Man in Black’ signed out in style.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Callousness, at it’s best!

This incident had occurred 3 or 4 years back. It is so clear in my mind that it seems that it was only yesterday when this occurred. I don’t know what reminded me of this today.

That day, I was on my way back home from Chembur in a bus. It was 8.00PM and the bus was pretty crowded. I had managed to get a seat and was thanking my stars profusely.

“Maitri Park!” The Bus Conductor shouted.

Some people alighted and among those who came aboard were these two young girls who were apparently returning home from college or from work. They marched straight towards the seats reserved for the ladies and were happy to have found two men seated there. They simply went to them and tapped on their shoulders. One was a young man who got up immediately and made way for the ladies. The other man chose to ignore them. He was a bit older maybe in his mid-fifties.

“Uncle, utho naa! Dikhta nahin hai kyaa ladies seat hai.” One said. Get up, can’t you see that it is a ladies’ seat?

“Haan, dekha!” He replied. “But I am not getting up. The bus was crowded when I boarded it and this was the only vacant seat. You simply can’t barge in like this and ask us to get up!”

“So what? This seat is reserved for the ladies and as per law, you have to vacate it when a Woman asks you to.” She replied.

The argument went on for quite sometime. I was sitting quite close to them and was wondering why was the old man trying to fight over a lost cause. The girls were right and he was needlessly arguing. Soon, the Bus Conductor would intervene and the Old Man would have to get up. Besides, it was a ladies’ seat anyway.

Then, the inevitable happened. One of the girls called out for the Bus Conductor and asked him to resolve the matter. People in Bombay are scared of offending women. The Conductor came promptly and asked the Old Man to get up from the seat. He refused and continued with the same rant that the bus was crowded when he boarded it. The Girls were breathing down the Conductor’s neck. The Conductor became increasingly rude towards the Old Man and called him names. But the Old Man was simply too stubborn.

Finally, the exasperated Conductor asked the Bus Driver to stop at the nearest Police station. A Cop entered the bus and asked what was the commotion all about. Upon learning the facts, the Cop simply asked the Old Man to get up. He refused. The Cop tried to pull him by the collar.

The Old Man tried reasoning with the Cop. He said that he was tired after a long day at work and sat on the Ladies’ seat only as a last resort. He said that he was not young anymore and that the Girls were young and could stand. As it is, one seat was vacant and none of the Girls bothered to sit. They seemed determined to get the old man off the other seat as well.

The Cop slapped the Old Man.The air was thick with anticipation.The Cop then dragged him out of the bus. The Old Man was shouting in indignation. Amidst tears, he shouted that he was an educated individual and was very unfairly treated at the behest of young girls. The Cop slapped him again and took him to the Police Station. There was pin drop silence in the bus. I had not moved an inch. In fact, everyone in the bus was transfixed to one spot. I hate this ugly curiosity with which we watch someone else’s misery. It nauseates me. Today I was a part of the mob as well.

I looked at the girls. It was very evident by now that they were college students. They were trying to look out of the window and see what had happened of the Old Man. One of them seemed to have spotted him. She pointed a finger at something, and both the girls started giggling uncontrollably.

It took all I had in me to control my impotent anger!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Barber Beckoning..! :D :D

             So,finally I landed upon a job and the ball has started rolling. Not that this was a company I was dying to work with, but I was more excited about doing something productive after eons of sitting idle.

It was my first day at office and I went straight towards the vending machine. I’m addicted to coffee, you see. There were my fellow trainees (Or fellow addicts, I should say) who were ranting about recession forcing them out of jobs. I guess it’s become a trend to stand at the hang-in with a coffee mug in hand and offer intelligent opinions about the global slowdown.

                     I walked up to a guy who was standing alone and mouthed a polite hello. He was also from Wipro and that was all the more reason for the pleasantries.

“Why don’t you trim your hair, dost? It looks so shabby.” That was a polite reply to my polite hello. To be fair to him, he was genuinely offering an opinion.

I know it looks really awful. But I was stunned for a minute. A visit to the barber is long overdue and I have been really lazy. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see my reflection grimacing back at me. It might sound obnoxious but I haven’t had a haircut in 2009 yet. I guess I’ll take cue from the Wiproite and not procrastinate things. I have made a decision..! I am visiting ‘Billoo Barber’ on Saturday!!

As for that particular moment, I tried to save face by diverting the topic, “So, which Process were you part of in Wipro?”

“I was in Singapore Airlines.” He replied.

“Really?” I asked, encouraged. “I was in Microsoft.”

“Oh! That’s good.” He said. “Chalo, I have to leave. But friend, do remember the haircut. It is really shabby.”

                        Needless to say, I was red-faced. Not for the haircut reminder, but for the fact that the guy didn’t even know my name!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Nondescript amazing leader…!

      I thought last year’s IPL was a fluke, a freakish victory of some sorts for the Rajastan Royals. With the big teams playing to their potential this time around, I thought that Warne’s bubble finally burst.

               Shane Warne and his rag-tag bunch of cricketers were billed to be the weakest team in the last year’s IPL and they lifted the trophy. This season, Shane Warne lost his best players to International commitments and Diplomatic Standoffs which makes his rag-tag bunch look like a school team in front of other Star-studded teams. The fact that the team was missing the services of Sohail Tanvir, Kamran Akmal  and Shane Watson (Who incidentally was the man of the series in the last edition) was evident in the first match itself when Bangalore steamrolled Warne’s men in the opening match of the IPL. They were bowled out for a paltry 58 chasing a modest 135 in 20 overs.

              Trust Shane Warne to pull a rabbit out of his hat when the chips are down and so did he! This time it was a wildcard entry in the form of an 18 year old bowler from the sleepy town of Azamgarh. From sleeping on the railway platforms to making Kamran Khan the most potent bowler in the Rajastan Royals’ team, we thought that Shane Warne was through.

                        But Shane Warne seems to have a much bigger hat. Out of nowhere comes wicket-keeper batsman Naman Ojha who blasts his way into the IPL. And if that was not enough, Warne produces another ace in the hole in the form of another non entity, Amit Singh.
                       Shane Warne, with the ball, never ceased to amaze me. I have always been a fan of the ‘Sheikh of Tweak’ but the IPL has shown what an inspiring captain can he become. And though I don’t support the Rajastan Royals, I won’t mind his bunch notching another fairy tale victory..!










(Watch the batsman’s reaction..! Bamboozled completely!)

And this is one of those amazing moments that makes me worship this wizard of Oz..! :D

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


“Yeh kya hai?” I asked, assuming my most childlike tone. What is this?

“Yeh.., Butta-fly..!” Exclaimed my 3 yr old niece excitedly.

It was one of those sample videos that you have in Windows Vista which we were watching. It was the video of a butterfly on a flower. I have never seen the video earlier. But, here I was, playing the video again and again amidst the peals of laughter and excited shrieks of my niece.

My mind wandered, she must have learnt about butterflies from textbooks and television but had she seen any in real life? Then, I thought  when was the last time I saw a butterfly?

               And if she could ever chase butterflies as we did when were kids..!  :(


Wednesday, April 8, 2009


sick smurf

I fell sick after a long time. Not that I wanted to fall sick, but I have spent the better part of last 2 weeks confined to a bed and my life revolved around doses of bitter medicines and unpleasant visits to doctors.

    I remember the first day well. I felt my face burning coupled with a dull throbbing in my head. I knew I was unwell and I was surprised. I did not eat outside, nor did I binge on ice creams or did anything of that sorts. But there I was at the doctor’s doorstep begging her to relieve me of my misery.

I don’t know what prompted her to say so, but she said, “Let’s wait for three days, if the fever does not subside, then it’s malaria.”

The mere mention of the dreaded word was morbid enough and now the Doctor was mysteriously advising me against a blood test.

For two days, I was recuperating well and I was beginning to bless my fortunes that it was not malaria. For a cruel twist of fate, on the third day I felt feverish. It was a sense of déjà vu, my face was burning and I was blinded by the headache. It seemed that all the energy was sucked out of me. So, I found myself dragging my battered body back to the doctor’s clinic. The doctor had already left for the day. Everybody suggested to consult a different doctor, but I was pretty adamant. I was not sure if the other doctor would understand our three day pact.

But waiting for the next day seemed impossible. I explained my mum why was it necessary to see the same doctor and she agreed to my reasoning. Fifteen minutes later, I was at the doorstep of a different doctor. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I was finally granted the Doctor’s audience. Condescendingly, he told me it was not Malaria, but a severe bout of viral fever.

I was happy to have dodged the M-word. Yet, I was sorely tempted to draw my will and transfer all my debts and loans to my well wishers.  Every night I used to go to sleep hoping that the drudgery would end the next morning. Alas, I used to wake up alive the next day and with the same horrible weakness and blinding headache.

             Since the last 4-5 days, I have regained my strength and my zest to live a little longer. I am not in a hurry to draw my will anymore. And I am happy that my cries for an end to my sufferings went unheeded.

God is indeed great!! Heheheh!! :D :D

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mind ‘your’ Language..!

The other day I was watching a news item that featured a young girl talking in some regional language. She then said,in English, that around 43 languages in India face extinction and that she was trying to save hers and exhorting us to do the same.

‘Forty three??’  I wondered.

For all the languages we have in India, 43 did not seem too significant a number then. My Mum was watching the advertisement as well. She seemed visibly upset about it.

“I don’t understand why do people consider it cool to not know their language.”

I knew what would follow next. Mum started her customary rant about all the young TV anchors on Sun TV (Mum’s favourite Tamil Channel) speaking poor Tamil. For once, I can’t disagree with her. Tamil TV anchors nowadays sport an anglicized accent when speaking Tamil. It sounds very weird and artificial. The common man can never relate to this kind of language.

The other day, I was watching Rahul Bose’s interview when my friend dropped in.

“I love his style of speaking Hindi.” He said. “He sounds so educated.”

I was appalled. Rahul Bose, with all due respect to him, speaks Hindi in an anglicized tone. He does appear western educated in that sense.

I couldn’t help but ask, “So, does Amitabh Bachchan sound uneducated to you? Or AB Vajpayee?”

They speak such fantastic Hindi and it’s always a joy to listen to them.

He replied that they sounded too Indian and hence, were not as impressive as Rahul Bose.

      For all the people harping about Marathi pride and how regionalist they’ve become, I know of so many people who find it demeaning to speak Marathi at home or anywhere. Same is the case with the people who considered to be proud of their language – Tamils and Bengalis. 

            On my part, I don’t know what enticed me towards learning Urdu but yes, I am making an effort towards learning Urdu and improving my Hindi. I have fallen in love with Urdu and find it to be bewitchingly poetic. I don’t bring this up anywhere because people snigger at me for learning something so not-so-cool.

               But still, these are the same people who will brag to any westerner about the rich Indian culture and the diversity it offers. I have seen so many people brag about the sheer number of languages that India has and when the Westerner marvels, they smile benignly. But when it comes to speaking their own language, they draw a zero.

I’ll shoot them someday!

I really will.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Munnabhai M.P. ?? No ‘Luck now’ this time..!













Not wanting to set a precedent, the Supreme Court ruled that convicted Actor Sanjay Dutt cannot contest the upcoming polls. Everywhere I see people referring him to as ‘Actor – Politician’. Hell no, he is a convicted actor!!

          The decision of the Supreme Court almost restored my faith in the Judiciary. I, for one, was very happy when Sanjay Dutt was acquitted under the TADA act. But he was convicted under the Arms Act, and as a convicted individual, he could not contest elections. He did paint a very sorry picture during the trial and the whole nation rooted for him, but he seems to have taken the affection in the wrong sense. Mr. Dutt, we didn’t want you to be jailed because we wanted to see you act in films, not to see you try and rule us.

     Criminalisation of politics is the bane of the Indian political system. This is a landmark judgement and I hope it sets a precedent towards de-criminalisation of politics. In all probability, now Manyata will get the ticket from Lucknow and she will contest in his place. Knowing India and our people, she might very easily win as well.  Still, the judgement sets out a strong message to all aspiring candidates with criminal records that they cannot contest with the same impunity as they did before.

However, what is of prime importance for me is that Sanjay Dutt, as a convicted person, was not allowed to contest.

Kudos everyone!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Holocaust Literature



“The story of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is difficult to describe. Usually we give you some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important to read without knowing what it is about.”

                       So goes the description on the back of cover of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.’ My choice for the title of the post doesn't leave much to your imagination about the story of the book.

 It is, by far the most subtle book on the Holocaust I have ever read. Everything is suggestive and you have to draw your own conclusions. The story is told from the eyes of a 9 year old Bruno, whose father is a high ranking Nazi Officer. Their life changes with a visit from The Fury (Obviously mispronounced, I think we all know who he is.) Bruno is suddenly moved from his home in Berlin to the countryside. 'Out-With' (Mispronounced again!)is his new home and Bruno dislikes it a lot. It is smaller, full of soldiers and no one to play with.

            From the window of his new house, he could see a large number of people in ‘Striped Pyjamas’. Upon asking his 12 year old sister about them, She replies that they are Jews.

Bruno asks, “If they are Jews, then what are we?”

Unsure, the Sister replies, “Err.. the opposite.”

                                  The innocence of Bruno kills you as much as the horror of the Holocaust disgusts you. Slowly, Bruno realises the cruelty and the horror of ‘Out-With’ and a twist of fate brings him face to face with the ogre of the Holocaust.

                The story breaks your heart. Makes you despise our capability for cruelty. While the book is primarily for children, I think that children might not relate to the book given it’s timeframe and the fact that the events mentioned are older than even the kid’s parents. I am going to get a 15 year old to read it for me and I will ask his reaction. For  adults, I recommend this book very strongly. A must read for experience of a long lost innocence..!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Of Bombay and Mumbai...


  I don’t remember what I was talking about, but somewhere I said, “It’s common in Bombay and the same cannot be said about the rest of India.”

“Mumbai, not Bombay.” He corrected me.

“What?” I said.

“It’s Mumbai, not Bombay.”

I winced, chose to ignore the correction and proceeded with my argument.

I don’t know why but I’ll always call it Bombay.

No one can tell for sure where Bombay got it’s name from. Whether it was from the Koli deity “Mumba Aai” or if it was Portuguese for a good bay, Bom Bahia. For me though, it was Bombay in English, Bambai in Hindi and Mumbai in Marathi. It went smoothly with the languages.

I religiously avoid Mumbai, it’s always Bombay in my CVs, on Orkut, Facebook or any other form of correspondence. The Central Govt. in Feb 1997 realised that trade was getting affected adversely due to the name change and declared that both the forms of the name would be acceptable.By renaming the city forcefully, they (you know who, right? Or I’ll have to face libel charges!) wanted to exert their monopoly on the city. It was a taunt to the non-natives and a betrayal of the city’s cosmopolitan soul

While Bombay was  cosmopolitan, all absorbing, multi ethnic, modern, free and it revelled in it’s linguistic pluralism; ‘Mumbai’ is supposed to be a closed, xenophobic,  spite filled, regionalist Hindu-Marathi hub.


I read some where that Germans call their country Germany in English, Deutschland in German (Well, they call the German language Deutsch in German too!) and Alleland in French. Apparently, they never felt the need to rename the country as Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

What they lacked is that one visionary leader who chose to save his city from terrorists by renaming it. Pity indeed!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


What have I become

My Sweetest friend

Everyone I know, goes away

In the end..!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All for a Gandhian cause??

I don’t think many of us would have heard about James Otis before..! For the uninitiated, James Otis is the person who auctioned MK Gandhi’s memorabilia earlier this month. The Indian Government wanted it back and the Indian High Court passed a stay order on the auction. The New York’s auction house didn’t read too much into the order and proceeded with the auction. The new channels across India were wailing that we have lost Gandhi’s belongings forever.


   And in true filmy manner, liquor baron Vijay Mallaya stepped in and saved the day. What an irony it was! A liquor baron spending $1.8 Million to bring back the belongings of the Great Prohibitionist of India. Vijay Mallaya did not do it for the first time. He brought the Sword of Tipu Sultan back to India. And he intended to gift Gandhi’s belongings to the Government of India. Millions across India rejoiced. Bapu’s belongings were back to the place where it belonged.

Now, ‘Who is this James Otis?’ was the question on everybody’s mind. Well, apparently James Otis is a self proclaimed peace keeper. He said that he was an ardent follower of Gandhian principles and that he was auctioning Gandhi's belongings because he wanted to use the money raised through the auction for noble causes.

I saw James Otis’ interview on TV the other day. Apparently, he wanted that the auctioned items to be returned to him. James Otis, with his lawyer Ravi Batra were giving an interview to an Indian News channel.

The News reporter asked Otis, “Mr. Otis, isn’t it appropriate that Gandhi’s items should be back in the country where he belonged?”

Otis said, “Yes, I’d love to do that. It is my earnest wish that the items should be back in India.”

“Then why are you objecting now that the items are back in India?”

Otis replied that he was unhappy with the way things were turning out to be and that it had become “too political” and that it “doesn’t seem very Gandhian.”

“Still, now that the items are back to the place where it originally belonged to, why don’t you just let it go?” The News reporter asked.

Otis replied, “I am feeling very unhappy about this whole thing... I would have been able to raise a million dollars for non-violent causes…” He also went to add that he had offered to withdraw just hours before the auction but the auction house did not agree.

He added that he was following the Gandhian principles in auctioning off the memorabilia.

The reporter, visibly embarrassed by her lack of knowledge asked him to explain the Gandhian principle behind the auction.

“Gandhi believed in auctioning off his belongings and use the money generated for good causes.”

The reporter nodded intelligently. All through the interview, Otis’ lawyer was smiling into the camera like a a 10yr old.

Well, it is true that Gandhi used to auction his autographs, letters and belongings to raise funds for good causes. In fact, as a shrewd marketing technique, Gandhi had learned to sign his name in many Indian languages so that it could appeal en masse.

What Indians forgot was that Gandhi himself never attached himself to materialistic things and that if he were alive today, he would have chided Vijay Mallaya like no one else. Alas, he isn’t and would be squirming in his grave...

Monday, March 2, 2009

You know you’re in Bombay when...

mumbai VT
1. When words like ‘Jaaneka’, ‘Aaneka’ , ‘Rukneka’ , ‘Maarneka’ are considered to be grammatically correct.
2. When it takes longer to get off from your house to the station than from one end of Mumbai to another by train.
3. When every cab and rickshaw driver makes small talk with you.
4. When 1BHK flats qualify as ancestral houses.
5. When your life revolves around bizarre numbers like 8:13 and 6:08.
6. A kitchen garden is usually 3 pots hung in a window.
7. When you can curse in three languages in the same sentence.
8. When you pay 6000 bucks as rent for a room the size of a walk-in closet and think it’s a steal.
9. When you know what day it is looking at the traffic. And if you are smarter, plan your route according to the day of the week.
10. When you call a stranger ‘boss’
"Boss, zara sambhalke, niche saman rakhela hai!"
11. When you have NO idea who your mayor is but know exactly where Amitabh lives.
12. You ask your friend to meet at 9:13 under indicator of platform number 4.
train station
13. When you ask for directions and everybody around you also tries to help you out.
14. When you can go into an Udupi restaurant and order Jain American Chopsuey Dosa.
15. When your friend/relative whom you have just dropped off at the Sahar Airport reaches Dubai before you return home.
16. When the rickshaw driver plays songs that you've never ever heard before!
17. When your train is approaching station and the person behind asks "Utarega kya??"
18. When you ask somebody for a place and he tells you the bus number to get there.
19. When you find people staring at you with a disgusting look if you are not running to catch the train.
20. When you are happy to spy a sliver of the beautiful sunset/sunrise outside your window, between two grey multi storied apartment complexes.
rainy day
21. When renting an apartment you find out that the 'building is vegetarian' and you can't bring non-vegetarian food.
22. When mama and mausi are male and female 4th class workers respectively.
23. Where the happiness on the faces of slum kids by the roadside never fails to astonish you and you thought your life was a struggle?
24. When you are travelling and yelling on your cellphone, "Abhi mein Dadar pahunch raha hoon!" and actually you haven’t yet crossed Byculla!
And the speaker in the train says, "Agla Station.... Byculla..... Next Station....... Byculla..... Pudheel Station.... Bhaikhala!!"
25. When you hate the guy/girl in front is walking slowly and mutter under your breath, “Garden main aayela hai kya?!”
26. When automatic vending machines have a sales person sitting next to it just to help you.
27. When you know what a ‘Baba’ suit and a ‘Baby’ suit are.