Monday, December 28, 2009


The year, 2009 A.D., is drawing to a close now. The wind is heavy, the temperature between cool and cold, the nights push the days away at just the time most people leave for their homes after work, and, Victoria’s Secret has slashed its prices greatly for another clearance sale; everything is exactly as it was at the beginning of the year. So much of life is but a recurring pattern, the unimportant majority trying to deceive us into unawareness of the subliminal, important, lasting, changes that expertly shape our living.

We take stock of the year when it is desperately close to ceasing to exist. I read yesterday on Abhineet’s blog that we do that, because, that’s probably all we can do about it with so little time to spare. I smiled. Now when I sit back and think about the year that was, I have a nagging sense building up inside me. It tells me something really bizarre. Are you doing it because you want to think about this year, S*****t, or do you just want to update your blog once more?

I wasted some 145 days right in the beginning of the year for a single trivial pursuit. Never before had I devoted so much of uninterrupted attention to one single thing. Second thought, it was the farthest thing from Pursuit. Then it fizzled out, like a settling volcano, like an opened beer, like a media uproar, like an illness, like. It’s absurd that I am putting down one comparison after another, when anything I write would fit the bill. That’s what life is. Ecstasy, indifference, elation, indifference, thrill, indifference, curiosity, indifference, hopes, indifference, sadness, indifference, tumult, indifference, disaster, indifference. And repeat. And repeat. And. Were life a car, wouldn’t indifference be its neutral gear? Then why do we scorn at it.

So, college ended. Old friends gave way to new, equally dear ones. A layer added. A layer thinned. New habits. Not all good, but, it’s fine. I didn’t realise being done with college was such a big deal, until the enormity of the situation was brought home to me while impetuously scrolling through my phone’s contacts list, and discovering that a big majority of those numbers have been rendered obsolete, because most of them have moved to different parts of the country, and the world, and probably changed their phone numbers. There’ll be many who wouldn’t have, but I’ll no longer have a reason to call them. Like a certain ‘Yash compu’, the last contact saved on the list, who was the kind of hi-hello friend that almost every guy in the hostel was of every other guy, but whom I called very often asking him to throw his table tennis racquets, from the corridor outside his room, down at me, while I stood on the ground-floor nervously imagining what if I don’t cleanly catch the racquets.

I had a family in DCE. Sometimes, vainly, I thought of myself as the family’s young kid everyone’s fond of. Sometimes, of course, everyone feels they don’t belong. But why should we bother about all we feel, when we don’t even control what we feel. If I start bothering myself seriously with everything that I feel, I might even start thinking of myself as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Oh no, no humanitarian ambitions. I just have a thing for taller white women.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On My Way

A fragrance permeates my head
when I see this Gulmohur tree,
from under which we boarded bus
and went to school carefree.

The tree was stumps for our cricket
while waiting for the bus to come,
but often without a bat or ball,
under it many a song we’d hum.

My stamp collection, his trump-cards,
her Barbie: our world collective.
Those on-impulse created rival camps,
those next day’s steps corrective.

Those steps succeeded without fail,
till we moved apart in space;
being better now outdid being good,
and we bettered at monstrous pace.

In place of those unreasoned smiles,
we braced an unreasonable scoff;
so much time spent getting better,
and are we really better off ?

In bettering, I got you, my job,
and of my debts to you, the main,
is that by driving to your premises,
I am now passing this tree again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stuff of thought

Of the pieces I read passing time on the internet, I really found the following all interesting, if not all great:

The Art of Failure - Malcom Gladwell - Really insightful piece on the subtle difference between panicking and choking.

Eternal Vigilance - Keith Gessen - Pure Orwell, pure wonder.

The Fuehrer obsession with Art - interview - On Hitler's tryst with artistic genius.

This is your brain on Kafka - A rather absurd promotion of absurdist literature.

Autism as an Academic Paradigm - Insightful towards the middle and end.

Good Books Don't Have To Be Hard - Lev Grossman - Right. Hard books may, may not be good; light books may, may not be good.

Blood, Sweat and Words - Joseph Epstein - Wonderfully written piece, and astutely articulated arguments.

The Capitalist Manifesto: Greed is Good - Fareed Zakaria - This guy's a stud as far as writings on economics for normal people go.

Think Again : Asia's Rise - Minxin Pei - H'm, points to ponder over.

The Age of Commodified Intelligence - George Balgobin - Interesting stuff on the need of people to appear something, rather than become.

A.C.Grayling's Review of "'The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life Paul Dirac', by Graham Farmelo" - Awesome awesome awesome.

All titles mentioned have been presented as links to the pieces.

September Rain

It is the season of harvest,
you the farm looking its best,
and I am raindrops thick,
falling for you, like a prick,
at an inopportune time.

Those days are gone,
when seeds were sown,
And I, entrapped by clouds,
eluded you, stuck in my shrouds,
writing some bogus rhyme.

Lurking almost midway now,
my reluctant weight somehow
acquiesces to the winds’ blowing:
lands on your border knowing
that it must avert this crime.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Black Swan Green

Book reviews are supposed to be written from a disinterested standpoint, they are supposed to stay between hyperbole and underplaying, avoid hero-worship and personal prejudices alike. Most of all they must be restrained. Restrain, in particular, I cannot bring in my appraisal of Black Swan Green, or in writing of David Mitchell's superhuman talents that shine through his oeuvre of just four novels. His previous novels, which made the world of literature stand up and applaud his pathbreaking contributions, were also exercises in complex pyrotechnics - they brought together several remarkable, seemingly disparate tales all set in completely different worlds and eras by startling connections which would be found when the reader would least expect, or look for them; his narratives were always inventive - a minor character in one tale of a novel emerges as the narrator of some subsequent one in the novel - or - complex chronology of events which goes back in time step by step only to come back step by step to the present, or even to the future, among other boggling things. Black Swan Green, in complete contrast, is a straight story of a boy of thirteen, and of thirteen months in his life. It looks like an experiment in going one eighty degrees from his mastery, but even if it is, it beats seasoned writers of dense, concentrated, one-life tales on a lot of counts.

Jason Taylor, the protagonist, is a boy who is undemonstrative, shy, somewhat timid. He reminds me of Swami in RK Narayan's 'Swami and Friends' but also, he reminds me of myself, the one who was thirteen year old, because in so many years the two of you - the present you and the thirteen year old you almost appear like two different persons. Of course, in actuality, 'you never change who you are', just to quote Rocky, weirdly, from the movie I saw when I was thirteen. Now I am really getting an irking feeling this isn't turning out to be a book-review, of all things. Heck, I am not sending it to some literary journal, so who cares.

I would not say the story is unbelievable, and that's a thing that, for me, goes for it rather than against it. It is not a novel of artificial thrills, of twists, of walloping coincidences. In stead, it is a true from T to E photoshoot inside the mind and heart of the character.

Among the ideas it explores, of note is the one chapter devoted to his stammer. The novel will thankfully bring a lot of people to understand the plight of kids growing up with speech impediments, for it is something that hasn't adequately been dissected in literature, except to evoke sadist humour. The faint revelation that many more people than those openly identified as stammerers are those who have just come to working arrangements for passing it all okay, is particularly important for public information. Jason's life, as anyone else's, is a web of small troubles, but what is so endearing to me about it is that he invokes your sympathy/empathy without inviting it.

David Mitchell has come to be regarded as a master ventriloquist, after he took the voice of such diverse narrators with clinical precision in all his stories. In Black Swan Green, he is near perfect as a thirteen year old kid wanting not to be a kid. Which is a great thing, but not if you are someone who has been pitch perfect in your previous attempts. However, on instances on which he deviates from his usual early-teenager voice, he also delights. His John Banvillian imaginative influences pour out spoiling the unifying, childish voice, and you sit wondering if that particular sentence is apt from the mouth of a thirteen year old. Sometimes, I concede, they are not. 'Listening's reading if you close your eyes', ‘Sunlight on waves is drowsy tinsel.’, ‘Rooks craw … craw … crawed, like old people who’ve forgotten why they’ve come upstairs.’ - to point out just a few.

I won't reveal the plot for I would rather want people to read it for themselves. It is not for me, however, to recommend Black Swan Green for reading, for that should come out of one's own volition, but I would say that it commands, yes that's the word, reading, out of its own strengths. Twice.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


It’s after a good two and a half months today that I have been home-alone, and what makes it better is that I have been unoccupied by any duties whatsoever today. While days like this came aplenty in my life prior to these two and a half months, it feels somewhat more awesome today; which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy them before. I've liked being idle and home-alone since as long back as I can remember, and, oh yes, I understand fully well that admissions like this one sprinkle, rightly or wrongly I cannot say, raunchy undertones all around them. Once I was telling a friend about it, and he immediately made a funny face and labeled me a closeted pervert. On the outside, I responded by laughing out loud which, naturally, was the normal thing to do; on the inside, however, a few seconds of involuntary deliberation confirmed to me that there was little, if any at all, perception, and further, no novelty in his conclusion. We are all perverts (while being closeted is just a byproduct) and those who are seemingly not, are what but just a little more efficiently closeted ones.

After much delay, I finally got my copy of Black Swan Green today which will reach me in an hour and I am looking forward to reading it more than anything I’ve looked forward to doing in some two and a half months now. Further, how much I like it could present me with a topic for my next post, and at least save me the pain of writing a personal post the next time I decide to blog my time away. I quickly scrolled through my blog archives moments ago, and was surprised almost to disbelief at how freely and indiscriminately I doled out tomes of humbug on what I think and what I’ve been doing, for years and years – the same things that now seem to me to be the most difficult, and slightly uncalled-for things to write about.

I keep taking these pseudo shots at writing verse from time to time, with the weird intention to ensure that there be no month in my archives which does not have a post to itself, and apparently that does not make for a great motivation behind writing verse: on the contrary it makes writing any verse very clumsy, and writing any worse very difficult. And then you feel like removing them, which defeats the initial purpose too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I set the parrot free today, the one I'd got for you.
I've been watching its food decay, ever since it flew.
I hope to hear something tonight, from the bird.
It has been very long since you said a word.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

a quick update

When I was in college, I used to get a lot of free time even after an average eight to ten hours a day spent talking and playing, and I mostly used it for reflection. It used to amaze me that a whole lot of people lived almost all their waking hours in company of others or doing something, and almost never felt a need for staying alone. How do they survive, I thought in my head and recautioned myself every night not to fall into that mould. I’ll be shallow if I take that way, I told myself in my supposed solitary enlightenments. And now, such a time comes at a huge premium, and the only thoughts it seems to accommodate are those of fear of such time finishing shortly, and coming back maybe the next weekend, maybe next to next. Even so, not much has changed, I still don’t look forward to the weekends. Infact, weekends seem like a vacuum; no air; suffocation. Almost all my friends have moved out to distant cities, and weekends invariably prop up the idea that weekdays were much better.

I was supposed to find my first salary in my bank account today, and my mother noted that unlike my elder brother who had a similar occasion four years ago, I wasn’t crazily excited to check the ATM for it every hour. ‘He had gone to check the ATM 5 times by mid-day, you are so lazy’, she nudged me to show some enthusiasm. I showed. I went to the ATM and the salary hadn’t still been credited. I came back and watched TV for a while, and really, Mummy really found it odd that I wasn’t worried not finding it there on time, or more accurately, that I wasn’t eager enough. Now my problem isn’t that I wasn’t so eager, my problem is that I have no convincing rationalization for why I wasn’t. Maybe I don’t have much use for money, so I think I have an argument, but it isn’t as convincing as I’d like it to be. Anyway, so did I get the salary finally? I don’t know, didn’t check again.

And I want to be eager too, on second thoughts.

Found this piece really insightful :

Saturday, July 18, 2009


You told me politely

To go away

I went

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Hot Afternoon

It was the summer of 2005, the baldheads in Delhi could have utilized their heated skulls to make omelets in a flash, but here, from the air-cooled insides of Rajdhani Express, the irritated hustle and bustle of the swarming humankind on Platform no.6 seemed entirely needless, slightly absurd. I hadn’t even finished stowing away my luggage to a corner under my berth, when the pantry-boy, zippy and as if fresh from a bath, appeared before me to register my nod for the lunch; and sir, ‘veg or non-veg?’
Life was good.

‘Non-veg’ I replied promptly, even as my mind took me thirty minutes back in time, my Mother telling me from the door of the house how these train-guys barely marinate their chicken, and so how unhealthy it can be. And why have all that non-veg anyway when I have packed you these aloo parathas! Resting my bags on the banister against which I had stopped, acting already tired, I had replied nodding sagely with limpid honesty dripping from my eyes, ‘Of course Ma !’, the way I always respond to all of her suggestions.

In a moment a girl my age came huffing and puffing with two bags, one of which hung forward from her neck like a nursery-school kid’s water-bottle, and sat down heavily on the berth in front of mine, freeing herself of all the weight. She didn’t particularly care about the luggage very much, and let it lie rashly on the floor. I had nervously straightened myself up in the meanwhile, characteristically, at being suddenly brought into a lone girl’s vicinity.

She wasn’t very tall, maybe five feet two, but her lithesome, slender figure cloaked that amply. When shortly she eased herself with her head thrown back, as if dissipating the tension from that oddly hanging bag, I remember it had occurred to me how her neck was quite long for someone her height. It was crawling with all those fancy janpath bead-bands, I thought she was trying to divert attention from the length of her neck with them; ‘but hey, nothing fools me’, I remember smiling inwardly.

No, she did not bowl me over at first glance, at least no more than any other carefree, bead-band wearing, slender-figured girl would have. On a side note all carefree, bead-band wearing, slender-figured girls bowled me over pretty readily. But then, that longish neck, what a weakness it is for some people - people like me. If Vipin had been by my side, I am sure he would have raised his eyebrows in his own peculiar way, which, peculiarly, doesn’t forbid you but rather encourages you hypnotically.

"Hi … Bangalore?" I began, consciously employing the least words possible, lest my tremulous confidence reveals itself piss-off-ing-ly.
"Oh yeah yeah yeah, so you’re going to PESIT too?" she said looking at the folder in my hands. She spoke lightening fast. If I were in her place, I’d have just finished saying ‘Oh yeah..’ in the time she completed the whole of her sentence in. PESIT was, and maybe still is, an engineering college in Bangalore, and that’s pretty much all that I know about it. I can tell you the full-form, but who cares?

"Yes" said I, trying to look unaffected by .. I don’t know what it is that I always try to look unaffected by. Anyway, I was actually going there, to PESIT. No, really. God Promise. Yes I was. Wow. Then she began quizzing me on how good that institute was, and I kept cooking up weird answers, and when there would come over an abrupt silence I would fill it up with rationalizations for why I said what I just said, interspersing all this claptrap, of course, with that odd compliment or two which she accepted graciously. ‘These are going to be some real promising years there.. there’s no way I am taking admission anywhere else’, I was already fast-forwarding life two months, in my head.

“I may as well take up the lamest course at the lamest IIT this year, I have that option too somehow.” I told her in a tone that was meant to sound self-deprecating but was of course secretly self-important, ironically. “Oye that is great!”she said loudly, but then everything that she spoke she spoke loudly, as if there were someone-outside-on-the-platform she was trying to reach out to. She smiled so cutely though, that I think we should replace the word ‘loud’ that I just used with something like ‘blithe’, alright? Alright.

Someone-outside-on-the-platform there actually was. He soon came in with two more bags, one on each shoulder, sighed unnecessarily at seeing her seated and came and sat down next to her. She then told him I was going to PESIT, then told me it was her brother, I acknowledged, and from what I can recall I had my gaze momentarily stopping at his mustache as I was greeting him, and he did seem to notice that instantly; probably he was quite used to it, his mustache all bushy like bristles of an overused toothbrush.

She stood up when it was already some twenty five minutes that we had boarded the train, and rushed outside to get some potato chips. I wondered what lazy slob this guy was to be relaxing here while she was running around for trivial things at the last minute. "Your Sis is intelligent, I know how I’ve just about managed the cut-offs."I said. He smiled suspiciously, and I shrugged it off and began peering from the window if she was to be seen coming back, but he kept looking at me blankly.

"Hey body shody! Real good physique you've got dude." I said to this guy, mainly because all that blank staring of his was making me feel uneasy.
"How old do you think I am. Take a guess. Take a guess." he said with his hands, deliberately or not I do not know, before his mustache.
'With or without the mustache' I wondered.
He looked 35 to me, but I thought answering with a much lower number would make his day. It wouldn't hurt, after-all, to humour the elder brother of your to-be-something.
"24!" I said, hoping that it flatters him and that he doesn't find it sarcastic.
"Try again. Try again" he said. Did he say everything he say twice over ?
"Ok. Ummmm. 28! I just wouldn't believe you if you tell me you're more than twenty eigh..." I said before he cut me short.
"What yaar!! I'm 19. Kya yaar.!!" he was mad. The first meeting with bro-in-law went awry, I thought. Happens. No worries. All's well, I told myself.

Soon, the announcement was made, the train was about to take off, and she still hadn’t returned. As the wheels first rolled I got up quickly and began running towards the doorway, then watched the guy following me and subdued my stomping footfalls to mere brisk walking, and in a few moments was down on the platform staring out into the crowd teeming with people waving tata-bye-bye to their kins in the train, and some looking at me, bizarrely, in dull sympathy. ‘These fools are blocking the way for her, I am sure, and for these foolish trivialities. Dammit!’ I punched my laps and rushed back in before it would be too late. If I had seen someone munching on chips then, I think I would have snatched the pack, crushed it and thrown it out of the door. ‘Where is her brother now, that useless joker?’ I wondered while walking slowly back to my berth. There he was now - in front of me, walking back to our compartment from the door at the other end of the bogey with all the energy that he had till now saved for his funeral. ‘What now?’ I spread my arms out irritably. ‘What’s the big deal’ he replied ‘twas just a pack of chips. I don’t have them anyway.’

"And your sis ?"I asked.

“She’ll surely have them on her way back home. She loves them. And she knows that I am seated on my allotted seat comfortably, so she can relax. Chillax. Anyway, I must confess I am a little nervous about the counseling now. My rank is such a border case. You said you too just about managed the cut-offs. Hopefully, we should end up in the same branch. Nice nice.”

“Wow! It’ll be fun!” I struggled to get the words out of my mouth, “I guess I just need to catch some sleep now dude, please wake me up when the lunch arrives, will you?”


“Lovely.” I mumbled drably into the pillow lying on my stomach and dozed off, and probably proposed to her in grand fashion before the slob could wake me up for lunch. And then the chicken wasn’t all that bad either.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A few more days

Here they are, these days, and in their midst I, trying to slow time down, make hours count, make days dense. In no time, which of course means in a week or two, I know I'll be thinking of tonight and the thing that I'll recall first up would be that I had been thinking on this day that I'd be thinking of this day in some days. This is not redundant thinking - this is how you make minutes count, this I guess is how you make nights dense and slow and leaden when you are all by yourself; wait, I think it's dawn now.

I had a look at the window barely five or ten or fifteen minutes back when everything was deathful black and now suddenly the sky outside is a large plate of murky grey iron, stained a little darker with greyer trees, and greyer distant buildings. In no time, which of course means in half an hour or so, the birds will be out in force - chirruping gleefully while swooping at each other in playful morning energy, the expansive sky turning blue with envy in the background. Really, birds are children. I, all the same, would still be lying on this bed slowly slurping water from my plastic bottle, and telling myself it's tea, and obviously not believing it. There should have been some tea-vending facility here.

I have an exam tomorrow. These may as well be the last academic exams that I'll ever take, and unbelievable as it may sound, I wish we had a couple of more subjects this time around, it's all going to be over so soon you know. I wonder how it will be in some days, when I'll have no business sticking around here - would I still linger aimlessly for a few more days until official compulsion would lock this room away from me, or would I, like a hard-boiled twentyfirst-centurian, party a night, hug and rush home, and catch IPL with my entire attention shifting smoothly to boundaries and wickets and, what's that new fad, Zoozoos ?

I went out to ride around the campus roads on my motorcycle an hour ago - the roads empty and inviting as they are at this point on the clock, but as I was starting the gears felt all jagged and I was mawkishly tempted to tell myself that it's a sign of how it doesn't want to go, how it too loves being here. Yes, that thought did burst forth, till I soon realised how terribly affected by Reema Lagoo it was to be thinking like that, which made me puke with angry self-reproach. And so, you know, it isn't everyday that I slurp water continuously and slowly at this hour.

And ... the birds are out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Neighbour

(Excerpt only)

He had been so, so utterly sad for a month now that he could have very easily been made to fall in love. Only in his early twenties, and by most accounts having an enviably bright future ahead of him, his ennui stemmed from what was, in his assessment, the scantiness of suspense. All of his actions – of the day, of the week, the month and so on were etched set on the back of his skull. Rick Bland, the shrewd meets chancy stock-trader by the day, was a mere bland self-traitor by the night. Every night he wondered why he didn’t know what to do with the inflowing money that the day had left him – really, what wretched misery.

It was a Sunday, the hot summer Sunday the most enchanting, the most poetic constituent of which is beyond a glimmer of a doubt the Air Conditioner, and he had been lying in front of it on a bed reading a book of investment mantras that, as the promise went, had all that he needed to know. One could be excused for thinking he was having a good time. Anyhow. Riffling through its pages in a manner of dissatisfied impatience, he suddenly threw the book he didn’t know where, and screamed violently complaining of he didn’t know what. The pressure-cooker, had, burst.

In a matter of seconds though, he had to calm himself up, our mannered lad, our controlled explosion - as soon as was heard approaching the unmistakably dragging stead of old Karen, his neighbour. Into her last days perhaps and alone, she was excusably attracted as much towards the ugly as towards the cheery. It’s much more likely though that she was in fact so enormously repulsed by her own being, that everything else seemed pleasantly inviting by comparison. The scream, vague and short, had spurred her curiosity like she’d spotted a UFO, clear and huge.

She asked him standing at the door ajar if everything was fine, and if she could help him in any way. He, fit, 22, wondered guiltily and she, frail, 74, looked on patiently. As if his paradigms of well-being had been given a wild jolt by this most polite of questions, he clutched the mattress on which he still lay supine even as he said that he was quite all right and was sorry for having disturbed her; his last words trailing off into an abashed, inaudible mumble. He got up thinking desperately of something to talk about with her, to give her company. This was his only atonement, told his conscience; maybe he knew inwardly what ailed a lonely soul in a lavish flat the most. He knew also, after-all, the genesis of his scream, he thought to himself and pouted at the delayed awareness of it. Jump, stand up. Here we go.

After hustling her to the sofa with an amiable, encouraging, requesting face, he rushed at once to the kitchen to make her some tea. She wouldn’t mind some wine, she said with a giggle even as her only surviving frontal upper-jaw tooth hung trembling in a warning to betray her any second. Rick laughed back; ‘Sure, sure’ he said leaning towards the bar.

They gelled readily, and it hadn’t been long before Rick found himself pouring out to her glass the well-kept secrets of his life – his childhood which was spent in a doleful slum outside Upington, that his parents turned up their toes turn by turn when he was still in his teens, how compulsion brought him to Cape Town, and how serendipity made him, a trader’s servant, a trader. He knew a handful of people here outside of his work: the grocery-guy, the pizza-boy, and, and well, that’s that. Sigh. Old Karen gave him a laser stare at this, ‘And me?’, she asked acting somewhat mischievously to have been hurt. ‘What an endearing embarrassment!’ thought Rick, and hugged her at once in true grandsonly fashion.

Days, now, consisted of caring for and being taken care of. Rick brought something new, something special to eat every evening, even though eight out of ten times she, accustomed for years to just porridge and flakes, would be unable to have it. He didn’t mind it, and she? She just loved seeing him lick up his dishes. On weekends, he would take her on a drive to the countryside, where the two of them would watch birds and canals, and occasionally some wild animals, and more rarely still, some spectacular mansions.

“You have weird tastes, I mean, for a 22 year old, don’t you?” she said one day, taking Rick in by surprise.
“Hey, I thought you liked it!” he replied.
“It’s not about me. I’m asking about you.”
“Ha ! I have no taste, I don’t think so. I just like that you like it. That’s all.”
“H’m. You don’t know many girls, do you?” she dropped it.
“Any.” he muttered trying his best to look the other way.

They spent a lot of time fishing that day, and she amazed herself at his enthusiasm after each catch: he would jump and shout like he’d landed on the Moon. ‘He said he liked all of it just because I liked it, that’s all. Was that what he had said?’ she self-talked servicing her rusty, senile memory, when she heard the loud honking of horns: Rick was already prepared to go back, enjoy his catch, on his plate. The drive back home was, ok, it wasn’t exactly awesome with fishstink and karensnore each trying to upstage the other in trying to be Rick’s major headache. And then, we're home; a sparkling new Mercedes parked clumsily already in this cramped, crumbling garage that only this fishloaded MiniCooper was used to getting into.

Rick looked towards Karen, who was still noisily asleep, and considered the possibility of the Mercedes being a surprise present; not that he was desirous of any; not that he would be averse, either. ‘This wasn’t required, but, umm, it’s, wonderful’. In their interactions it had become clear to him that Karen came from a notably affluent family scattered across the globe due to her sons’ professional pursuits. Her husband, of whom he had faint recollections from his first few days here, was a sprightly old man of much local recognition whose funeral had been attended by his patrons in the trading line too. But how is that even remotely a part of the equation, he wondered as he pulled the key out after stopping the car. ‘Would it be proper, Rick, to accept it; wouldn’t it amount to a fee for companionship?’ he froze with a lurking abashment, his arms poised on the steering wheel, the barely resting legs confused in mid-air about their future course of action, and eyes, as if parasitic, swinging alternately between Karen and the mirror with a squeamish restlessness.

‘Aaaaaannchhhi’! You can always count on an old woman to jerk a lost, statue-ed over-thinker into motion, sometimes even when she’s asleep herself. Out they step in a moment into the settling sunlight of a cool evening, and Karen looks at the Merc with an equal curiosity.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I thought maybe I should write a bit. Just because I hadn't for some time, I have this nudge to write something, anything. In fact, once I really get down to it, I realise that what itches me fundamentally is the urge to type rather than the urge to write as such. I really enjoy it when these wayward fingertips stagger coltishly all over the keyboard even as a neat sheet keeps taking orderly shape on the screen in front - exquisite typesetting, perfect calligraphy - as though in stubborn resentment against the huddle that causes it.

Oh, hell, am blank again. It doesn't happen usually; I start blindly, but then I just keep going on with whatever tumbles forth initially. But I can't think of anything right now that I could comfortably and pleasurably write over here. Let's try. Effortlessness is elusive, for now.

I had a great week. The best of the condemned 2009, I should say. Why condemned though? Can I, who began the first blog-post of a potentially very crucial year with a word as auspicious as 'but' be allowed the right to refer to random things as condemned? Maybe not. It was a rebellious streak, a sort of carefree confidence, a rather perverse sort of it actually. Do you register, by the way, these baleful methods at masochism? I hope and wish you don't.

Alright, I have it figured out. I am into my last week of attending college; maybe I should write about that. I'll try to throw some nostalgia in with phrases like 'With mist before and moisture inside my eyes..' or something like that, and who knows I might just have a few pagefuls worth of verbal drove up here to be published. Wait, I think that sounds just too melodramatic to be real. Cancel. I'll be real. Ok, done, that's what I'll be: real.

We, a bunch of lewd-comment-passing, bombshell-ogling, tongue-rolled-out, jaw-dropped cheapsters, are finally going to be kicked out of the college leaving it to the sophisticated custody of higher intellects. Saving our time from being an utter uselessness, we clinched a bumper deal the other day of having a cosy photo-op with a not-that-stunning-after-all girl who we don't know. Yes, who we don't even know, that's right. Alright, 'who doesn't know us' - for sake of being real, for precision. But dammit, no more being 'that' real.

Yesterday, I attended a class at college. It was after a good six months, and I say that without any hyperbole whatsoever. The teacher wanted us to be a little sentimental about leaving college, and about leaving him. I may manage the former. The teachers at my college, largely, were a tickling needle. Before I landed here I was told that they were all technological authorities, true men of reputation. Four years later I grudgingly accept the latter. They were, indeed, men of reputation. They had a reputation for doing badly everything that was worth doing well. Well, the class was spent grinning sheepishly mostly and roaring raucously sometimes at a dozen PJs that encompassed, by some mysterious force of mother nature, our entire syllabi. The hour ended with the teacher cracking another one-liner that blew our lungs away: 'Don't mind it Gulati jee, it was all in Good humour' he told Nayan Goel, even as Gulati kept looking on in confusion.

I'll continue some other time. It's getting very painfully demanding, this writing bit. I've been very nervous writing anything lately after some of it's been found really fucktarded by some astute, elite prodigies of prose styling. I am trying.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The 100 Truths Tag

Here’s the tag, Princess

1. Last drink: Yes, this one’s the last, I promise.
2. Last phone call : 0 minutes 6 seconds.
3. Last text message: Oomph Friendship Club.
4. Last song you listened to: Maa Muraadein Poori Kar de Halwa Baatungi.
5. Last time you cried: It was the Ice Age then, they say.

Have You Ever...
6. Dated someone twice: Yeah, the judge on my hit-and-run case. A third date beckons in a few days.
7. Been cheated on? Yeah, while I was cheating too, so, as they say, chalta hai.
8. Kissed someone & regretted it? Ram Gopal Varma. Sab ganda hai par dhanda hai ye.
9. Lost someone special? My mind.
10. Been depressed? Yeah, refer to answer 8.
11. Been drunk and threw up? Twice a day.

Four Favourite Colors...

12. Fluoroscent
13. Magenta
14. Sharper Magenta
15. Sharpest Magenta


16. Made new friends: soon after taking birth.
17. Fallen out of love: with a thud.
18. Laughed until you cried: Beyond that. Laughed as I cried.
19. Met someone who changed you: Rakhi Sawant.
20. Found out who your true friends were: Recently.
21. Found out someone was talking about you: Some Jennifer, I hear. Lopez or Aniston, not very sure. Doesn’t matter, too old either way.
Have You...
22. Kissed anyone on your friend's list: Which one ? There are so many of these lists.
23. How many people on your friends list do you know in real life: All, well almost.
24. How many kids do you want to have: 378: my lucky number, I am told.
25. Do you have any pets: I have fish.
26. Do you want to change your name: Not really, I’ll have to get a new set of business cards printed, I just got them made in gold.
27. What did you do for your last birthday: I awaited, wondered, ate, talked, laughed, shrugged, travelled, slept.
28. What time did you wake up today: 7.30 AM
29. What were you doing at midnight last night: Discussing Drunkards and Elections.
30. Name something you CANNOT wait for: There’s no such thing.
31. Last time you saw your father: as I write this.
32. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life: Maybe I’d want to be able to laugh at bad, sad, dead, heard, herd jokes.
33. Most visited web page: Google Reader.

What's Your...

34. Name: S*****t
35. Nicknames: Teenu at home. And both by school and college mates was nicknamed Shahrukh, somehow.
36. Zodiac sign: Pisces. By some other deduction, Aquarius too.
37. Male or female or transgender: Male.
38. Elementary School: St. Mary’s, Ranchi.
39. School: The Air Force School, Delhi.
40. Colleges: Delhi College of Engineering.
41. Hair color: Black. Ok, some specks of grey too.
42. Long or short: Long.
43. Height: 174046030029 nanometers.
44. Do you have a crush on someone? : NDTV-India reporter Deepti Sachdeva.
45. Ever been in love? : Umm, perhaps.
46. Piercings? : Once had an ear pierced; after a day of struggling with it, let it fill.
47. Tattoos? : Naah.
48. Righty or lefty: Righty. Can bat left handed too, better than Curtly Ambrose, that is.

49. First surgery: Stitches next to the eye.
50. First piercing: How redundant a tag is this!
51. First best friend: Bhai.
52. First sport you loved: Flying Discs.
53. First pet: Sandra the lizard.
54. First vacation: Calcutta, I am told. Puri, Orissa : the earliest I remember.
56. First crush: Some girl in class 1. Started early.

Right Now...

57. Eating: Nothing.
58. Drinking: Nothing.
59. I am about to: yawn.
60. Listening to: Songs from Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi.
61. Waiting for: Godot.

Your Future...

62. Want kids? : Yup. Chubby, lazy, round.
63. Want to get married? : Want to. Get. Married.
64. Careers in mind? : Prime-Ministership.

Which is better with the opposite sex...??

65. Lips or eyes: Umm, eyes.
66. Hugs or kisses: Can’t say.
67. Shorter or taller: Shorter.
68. Older or Younger: Indifferent.
69. Romantic or spontaneous: Romantic.
70. Nice stomach or nice arms: If I say nice stomach, would that automatically mean herculean arms ?
71. Sensitive or loud: Sensitive.
72. Hook-up or relationship: Depends. Highly subjective.
73. Trouble maker or hesitant: both sound synonymous to me.

Have you ever...??

73. Kissed a stranger: No.
74. Lost glasses/contacts: Never had them to lose them.
75. Sex on first Date: No.
76. Broken someone's heart: Maybe.
77. Had your own heart broken: to pieces.
78. Been arrested: No.
79. Turned someone down: Never required to.
80. Cried when someone died: Yes.
81. Liked a friend that is a girl? : Naturally.


82. Yourself: Mostly.
83. Miracles: Reluctantly.
84. God: Intermittently.
85. Love at first sight: Coyly.
86. Heaven: Wishfully.
87. Santa Claus: Selfishly.
88. Kiss on the first date? : Depends.
89. Angels: What’s there to believe or not; they’re everywhere.
90. Devils: They’re everywhere, yawn.


91. Is there one person you want to be with right now? : Yes.
92. Had more than one boyfriend/girlfriend at one time? : No.
93. Wanted to kill someone ever? : Yes, cockroaches, mosquitoes. Ok, sometimes ants. Guilt.
94. Among you blog mates, whom would you like to kiss? : Among those whom I’d kiss, I’d like none to blog it.
95. Committed a blunder and regretted later? : Who hasn’t ?
96. Wanted to steal your friend's girlfriend? : Yeah, of the one who stole mine.


97. White: Vests.
98. Black: Shoes.
99. Red: T shirts.
100. Pink: Chaddhi?

Posting this as 100 Truths? : 101, including this one.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spot On

"I don't read a lot of modern fiction, but it seems to me that too much of it is thesis fodder. Since the rise of the academic critic, writing has had to have an increasing sophistication, as if subjects such as love, ambition and family are worthy only of the airport novel. Writers come out of university courses and carry into their writing academic concerns rather than the concerns of the general reader."

- Vikram Seth (here)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dee See Eeeeh


Spring, 2004. Vipin and I had been moaning on habitually, just outside the gate of a curiously quiet DSOI club at the centre of the bustling Dhaula Kuan, at how we had landed up in the mess we had landed up in. Our pre-board results had been declared the previous day, and with the kind of performance we had put up, securing our admit-cards for the board exams from the school authorities, we were sure, wasn't going to be a very pleasant experience. My Dad had been called to meet the Principal in person, and I feared the exchange in the Principal's office was bound to be topped by another exchange, back at home in the evening. We were supposed to be bright students once, weren't we, I mused. What had happened?

'I wouldn't know. If I did, I wouldn't be here.' Vipin quipped and jumped to his feet dusting off his backsides soiled by the footpath, and returned briefly with another burger from the roadside dweller.

'What at all do you ever know?' I finally spoke, only after I had taken a big buttery bite off his burger.

'Really, if you hadn't woken me up from my slumber, I was flunking for sure! I think I should be rather satisfied now, you know…' he said in a manner filled with gratitude, his involuntary wriggling with his plate away from me belying it all at once.

We had gathered here en route to DCE; we knew we weren't going to get through the entrance exam, and since there's nothing to be ashamed of after all these years, let me admit that we had even thought of repaying our many little movie-ticket debts with this money we had got from our respective Dads for the admission forms. Soon enough, a third, balanced classmate who was in complete control of his senses, or whose Dad exercised complete control over his senses, arrived, and like the jeannie of his Dad's lamp, held us by our collars into the DTC bus to Peeragarhi.

More than an hour had passed, and from the looks of it more than an hour remained. The two of us had been relentlessly passing lavatorial jokes all victimising this third classmate of ours, and by now he was no longer on talking terms with us, really. Under an unwritten contract Vipin and I never cracked these ruthless jokes on each other, and a lull had come over the journey.

'Make sure we don't get through this entrance test' Vipin whispered as if we were otherwise surely going to. 'Our lives will be hell, take that from me.'
'Goes without saying.' I replied matter-of-factly, or pretending to be so.

Lull resurfaced.

Shortly, Vipin sprang on me with the suggestion of chucking the rest of the journey and that of asking this classmate to get the forms for all of us. I didn't protest; it seemed quite a practical suggestion. We both asked him if he could do the needful, and as if already waiting to get rid of us, he took the money from us in a fit of petulance and immediately started peering out of the window as if into some rare spectacular sight, though from what I recall I could only catch a glimpse of a much-in-demand public toilet, before the urgent elbowing of the passengers pushed us out on the road at the nearest bus-stand.

Broke I sat for an hour with Vipin dreaming up the latest flick in my head, and nodding absent-mindedly to plans for attending an upcoming concert he thought would rock; provided of course that we're granted the money - a bleak possibility after our recent accomplishments. Then I returned home hesitatingly, to, a locked door. My parents were at the Principal's office still, I guessed. 'Long, long meeting it's been. Shit!'

Thus died prematurely what could have been my first brush with DCE.

* * *


Six months had passed since that day, with a lot of exams sandwiched in between. We, and this still refers to Vipin and I, made it to none of them. Alright, let’s be fair, we did get a little. But what we wanted, we didn’t get; what we got, nobody wanted.

I missed both IITJEE and DCE by a whisker, and this spurred crazy hopes in my heart that some discipline for a year and I’ll be decorated with a geekish pose on every newspaper, my name printed with a golden font amid glorifying praises. More importantly, I was somehow dead sure that seeing this, at least one of my Dad’s many friends who, I always held a suspicion, took birth only so that they could one day cast their offer to marry their beautiful daughters off to me, would surely have the good sense of bringing alive their bollywood-lessons learnt by suggesting to my Dad ‘kyun na iss dosti ko rishtedari mein badal dein’. But the initial motivation soon whittled out as we, Vipin and I, okay, I and Vipin, turned neurotic film buffs, the kind most people only hear about in folklore. We saw every goddamn movie that released, a lot of them twice over, so much so that by the time we had once gone to see Veer-Zaara and were almost returning disheartened by the Full-House noticeboard, the ticket clerk was gracious enough to voluntarily insinuate us into the balcony with folding-chairs in our hands! I did not know then that later one coveted temptress was to find all these tickets out and guess that they must have been dates, and I would have to smudge mystery around the whole thing with a sentence as cleverly cheesy as ‘Well, I wouldn’t say that they were dates.’ No untruth in that statement, no truth either, if you look at it. I may expand this part indefinitely, I may do this, I may do that, I won’t. The whole thing, anyway, is supposed to be about DCE.


may be continued

Friday, March 6, 2009

On Questions

My path rendered itself to me obliquely :
Collisions in the dark ever guided my way,
I was always blinded by the Sun in the day.
Conventional wisdom, I was better to flee.

But my intellect’s been inutile of late,
Can’t persist with questions, crucial and hard
Of career and commerce, of science and art
It just can’t bring itself to contemplate.

It can’t give these, importance more
Than the one that’s etched in the heart
In contrast to which these, from the start,
Are found secondary, bland and bore

This question, which now colours my ink,
Which I carry between all my pages,
Which I carry to all saints and sages :
“Do you sometimes, of me, still think ?”

The Stoic

किसी बात का ग़म मुझे अब क्यों नहीं होता
सब रोते हैं जहाँ मैं वहां क्यों नहीं रोता

क्या खून है ये आज भी या बन गया पानी
कितना उबालो इसको, मैं आपा नहीं खोता

मैं झूठ के आंसू तो बहाने को बहा दूँ
इन आंसुओं से दिल कभी हल्का नहीं होता

बड़े युन्ही लड़ते यहाँ बच्चे युन्ही हँसते
सब ऐसा ही रहता यहाँ गर मैं नहीं होता

कोहराम है, इस शहर की अब नींद है हराम
मैं सो गया थक कर जहाँ कोई नहीं सोता


You are the creases on my Forehead, You are the pouches under my eyes, You are the grey in my hair.
You are the Strength in my dare.

You are the vulnerability in my Strength, You are the screech in my speech, You are the crack in my screams.
You are the House of my dreams.

You are the ghost in my House, You are the thorn in my garden, You are the shark of my ocean.
You are the Birth of my emotion.

You are pain of my Birth, You are the helplessness of my infancy, You are the angst of my adolescence.
You are the Fire in my insolence.

You are the scorch of my Fire, You are the stagnation of my water, You are the disease in my air.
You are the Please in my prayer.

You stole the ease from my Please, You stole the art from my heart, You brought the rife in my strife.
You are the Life of my life.

कल और आज

क्या कल सैलाब आया था या मौसम में मोहब्बत थी
कोई मुझको बता दीजे कि कल क्या मेरी हालत थी

मुझे अब याद ना आए, मेरी बद-हवासी का मंज़र
क्या मेरी जुस्तुजू में कोई जुर्रत, कुछ ज़लालत थी

के घंटो से टंगा हूँ फ़ोन की तारों पे मैं लेकिन
सुबह सिर्फ़ घंटियाँ, अब उसकी मम्मी की वकालत थी

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Parting Musings

This, today, is the last of my functional days at this office. As I sit writing this, I see that my neighbour has a stomach-aching inkling that I am whiling time away. He gives me an oblique jeering glance and smiles economically to himself with the air of a veteran who has done it all, or at least, seen it all. I tell myself I am well justified in it; and 'is it not that my stipend is lesser than his salary by an amount equal to his salary', I soothe my dawning self-consciousness and recline defiantly, limbs stretched out, on my spring-laden cushiony chair. He raises his eyebrow for an infinitesimal moment but I somehow catch it, and pull the lever of my chair down. Now it is sufficiently low-slung for these partitions to ensure that I am out of his range of view. Emboldened by invisibility, I do a quick swivelling movement even as the chair's spindle creaks, and just as I am about to face the desk again after two complete rotations, uncap the pen and drag it on to the register like a landing airplane and start writing in cursive italics at once. There is a bit of Rajanikanth in every chairbound apprentice, I tell you.

* * * * * * * * *

My corner in the office overlooks a wall-sized lemony-yellow windowpane, Saint Gobain I guess. The window overlooks a spate of scenes, but my corner only overlooks the window and a tree just outside it, thanks to the many obstructing cubicles in between. The yellow tinted glass-pane makes me see a splendid sunset-hour evening-sky every hour of the day; and on one occasion too many I've made a fool of myself by running expectantly to the window and peeking out of the abetting porthole only to stand the glare of a harsh sun. But I marvel at this stained glass anyhow, and chew over getting myself a pair of yellow shades, but heck, they look a tad too gaudy, don't they?

In any case, when I cast my eyes over the entire place from the window today, I noticed that there stood a girl at the groundnut-hawker's, instead of that grumpy forty-something who hasn't smiled once in the last forty days. She isn't, as one can tell, exactly a stunner, but too good to be that hairy horror's daughter all the same. 'But who else could she be anyway, his daughter she is, she is', I tried warding off my cheap suspicions. Every now and then, a customer would appear, assess the items, but leave without buying a trifle. 'I love groundnuts', I condition myself and quietly sneak out of the office. Down at the stall, I take a closer look at her - she isn't as good from here as from a distance, but there's a certain piquant, tangy thing about her which, if the products had, they would have been worth buying for double the amount. Street-smartness oozes out of her voice, and it occurs to me that the Basanti in Sholay could well have been one of her followers. I taste a bit of everything enquiringly and finally settle down on fried grams and a sweet peanut slice. I had barely begun haggling, and she had barely begun resisting, when suddenly the eyesore, her dad, appeared out of nowhere, and with an expression as severe as Ajay Devgan in a romantic scene, asked me to take it or leave it. Probably he understood, discerning old fellow, that my eyes didn't speak of a man discouraged by prices.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Perspectives, on Valentine's

The roads nubile blush with roses red, yellow and pink;
They all today lead to galas, and at gaping pavements wink
That Love, the solemn fogey, may be your ally of ages,
But today's hero, its cousin, isn't agreeable at your wages.

A romantic remonstrance of made-up complaints,
A prince peps a florid trance, and a princess faints
A scene ; some public display, which curiously
Froths fervour, makes men, love furiously.

Eyes toiling out of the windows of old feral buses
Withdrawing themselves slowly back, as it rushes,
They turn down passively to the lying peanut peels,
Then stick out one last time, adsorbing how it feels.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pen on Paper

There is a certain pleasure in writing with pen on paper, doubly delightful if it is an old-world ink-pen - like it is right now, that the most advanced, sleek and artfully designed keyboards cannot, for the life of them, offer. Writing on paper, I am a little bit on my toes, because there is no software to help point out to me those intrusive grammatical errors which, by their mere creeping in, can make a delicately imagined, lovingly cast, and secretly revelled-in piece of life abruptly seem an eyesore. This post is none of that so I hope I can safely take the liberty. And anyway, I've been long out of touch with the observance of strict grammar, ever since it failed to help matters where it was supposed to. So much for something so trivial.

Perhaps some day I'll take to it again. I never say never; I am a coward; or is that being human? Mortal, gullible .. insecure : ah, coward it is. I'll take to it again when I find the need for a higher financial platform too pressing, for they are the only dependable means to it that I know of. And let's be fair, most of what I understand of life and living, is due to these run-of-the-mill entrance exams. They are great objective teachers, other than, of course, being objective-type tests. Unlike the archetypal pedagogue, they let you be. Unlike the archetypal pedagogue again, they make you ask questions. Unlike him again, they are sympathetically understanding of your silent responses. But like them, they make sure that you are not the same after them as you were before; you are more. Also like them, they are looked at by the pupils predominantly with a feeling of a well-known type of fear vigorously muddled with a not so well-known type of contempt, and yes, how could I forget that, that occasional awe.

My first brush with this world was when I was midway in my eleventh class. Due, somehow, to something the kind guys liked in me, I was offered their preparatory course for a pittance of a fee - a nominal eight thousand for an year and a half. I vainly wished that they took the full forty from my folks, and later on quietly slipped the thirty-two in my hands, so that I would go back home and give back that money while proudly exclaiming "I earned it, Mummy!" With the same end-result, God could have made it a thousand times more thrilling, but he likes the mundane.

Once there, I was exposed to a group of three apparently-deprived youngsters whose lives until then, it seemed, consisted only of days wasted in playing with punctured tyres - rolling them around with some stick and running alongside. Humane pretensions kept aside, the words on a father's paycheque are invariably written on the face of his sixteen year old son. And their faces told, or screamed, that the words weren't quite heavy. Newly here from their village somewhere in Bihar, they looked exactly the kind of young lads that modern, sophisticated girls would look at, from a distance of course, with disdain, and turn about hoping not to be looked back at by them. Their teeth had the red of bricks by years of guthka, pimples sat themselves in awkward positions at every corner of their faces, clothes were just good enough to venture out of a shell, bottomed by hawaii chappals. They, however, anyhow, anyway, at the end of the day, eventually, were superhuman wizards. When I would be struggling to begin to make sense of the questions, they shot back with the answers - with a sense of victory; with a tinge of, if I may add, vengeance on the world. And then I was no dumb bimbo either; on the contrary, I hardly believed until then that a pair of a head and a spinal cord existed on this planet that could work as swiftly as mine. Of course, every such mirage fast evaporated, incondensibly. They were everything I was not - carefree, loud, cocky; despite all the odds that lay against them. The next thing I knew was that I wanted to be with them. Then I squandered the year with them, in things that can politely be put as unsuitable - I didn't know that while I was craving for looking into them they had been craving for looking into something else. Obviously, I, constrained by the foolproof middle-class conditioning of temperance, never went the distance as they did. At the end of the journey when each of them was deep in debt, they were still astoundingly unperturbed, as though they had seen a life from where it was impossible to get worse.

It was the final mock test, after which there was only to be the real one, when the best among these best, took the question paper, sat in the exam hall for ten minutes flapping his feet wildly all the while, and in a sudden moment rose up and left. I thought he must have had some seriously troublesome thing bothering him; and after fifteen restless minutes I submitted my answer sheet and left too, I knew no answers either, but that's another story, for another post. Outside, in stark contrast, he was lounging around as if he had all the time in the world and he would much rather be preoccupied if that was an option.

Bewildered, I began, "You, Piyush, you, it is you who stood up; no duffer gets up before half an hour, and you know it's you. What happened to the whiz who had taken admission here?"

"Forget about it, I was wasting time inside; I knew not many answers, and those that I knew wouldn't have scored for me a bumper." Nothing ever sparked any contemplative emotion in him; not at least the emotion you expected to spark.

"Why did you even come for it if you were so unconcerned?", my curiosity was seamless.

"If I didn't appear, a letter would have reached my home that I missed the test, and you know the kind of dressing-down I'd get from my Dad then?", retorted he.

"And wouldn't you get a dressing down for the seven-on-hundred or nine-on-hundred or whatever that you'll get now, and which, too, would be reported to your Dad?"

" No. He can't get a seven-on-hundred on this test himself, I bet. Ha ha ha" he answered hysterically.

And in a few days it was the time for which we were all there in the first place. While some of my human, ordinary friends went on to make records, none of these three ended up exactly in heaven. It was their destiny, there's no other answer that I would take, it was their destiny, just as it was their fathers'.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

They didn't have keyboards back then!

The gentle, distant Sun had become unforgiving in an hour's time. The last smoke was had with whimsical whiffs of cool breeze playfully manoeuvring the smoke as it made its way out after living its character inside the lungs. Now, the surrounding air stood lifeless like a godforsaken rock; and the smoke erupted in dense grooves persistently amassing a trembling blanket, suffocating in its own monopoly.


The flyover, otherwise a cacophony, was a trustworthy protector in these times. Even if it weren't, he would still be surveying its bending angles, its chatter under the cruelty of hordes of vehicles, or the fatigue in the pillars that support its weight at its various nooks. He lived here; once the most brilliant student of civil engineering his reputed college had witnessed in decades, this flyover had been his home for the last three days.

His classmates, who had always found him in the company of an old keyboard that he had chanced upon when he moved into his room in the hostel and never in that of his books, envied his acumen as much as his professors were awestruck by his proficiency. In his heart of hearts, he exulted at this giftedness, but also wished he got the gift that he wanted. Music was his passion, his God, but perhaps not his gift. But there was only so bad someone like him could have done at what he loved, he was still way better than the overflowing ordinariness all around him. Day in and day out he practised the symphonies of Mozart, dared to improvise upon them, fiddle with them, flirt with them. This usually continued for hours at a stretch; and it may be true that it also somehow nourished him, for there is no count of how many times he missed the inflexibly timed hostel meals in his trance. By the time he was in his final year, the passion had outgrown itself to resemble an obsession; biographies of Mozart lay all over his room; he made music in the classroom, in the labs, even in his dreams. Salil, his closest friend, who also singularly somewhat closed in on his academic and musical talents, besides sharing endless cigarettes with him over music, stood first this semester. Not that it mattered to Mohan, the rank race; plus it had gone to his best mate, so it was all the more calming. But it was conspicuously unexpected - Mohan who exceeded number twos by huge margins, being exceeded. Salil, baffled himself, sought Mohan to ask what was going on, when Mohan just joked it off by calling him Salieri and calling himself Mozart citing the similarity in names, which of course, was feeble if any. 'Mozart and Salieri', he imagined and swelled.

The days at college were about to end when, in a bolt from the blue, Mohan decided to run away to pursue music. Salil, who had been Mohan's roommate for years, couldn't help feel a pricking concern for Mohan's father - provincial, semiliterate, ingenuous, hearty and by now Salil's Kishan uncle. It was evident from the frequency of his college visits from their native place two thousand kilometres away in the hinterland that uncle's life depended, in more ways than one, on his son. How proud he was of Mohan's education, how he couldn't wait to see the first 'graduate' generation spark up his lineage. Indeed, so ingenuous he was he didn't know Mohan, let alone Mozart.

Salil pestered Mohan persistently to rethink, to not ruin his career, to give himself some time, to take a short holiday, and even to not live a 'delusion', but all to no avail. Mohan vehemently denied being naïvely romantic, and sometimes tried his bit to convince Salil that it was a necessary evil - the construction company employment would render him infertile, bereave him of his purpose, and then 'what use will be the career?', he asked furiously. For some days he defended his as the righteous choice of passion over glory, and then one fine evening, he vanished from the college without any noise. The college mourned a few days later.

It's been two years since, and the college is doing well.


Now as the sun had become scorching hot along the left edge under the flyover, and a puddle of dirty water soiled the right, a frail looking Mohan was hard put to find twenty square feet of convenient shade. When he couldn't find any, as luck would have it, he resorted to oblivion as a substitute to solution. So he took out his keyboard, from an unbelievable preservation. It was a carefully crafted case made of construction leftovers that lay everywhere under the flyover. He hadn't sold the keyboard, though it seemed he rarely played it now.

Meanwhile, the suffocating blanket of smoke had by now expanded into a big cloud near the sixth floor balcony of a swanky multi-storey across the road, towards the other end of the flyover. A young man dressed in the finest fabric, sipping the rarest coffee, and smoking the choicest cigarette had his eyes fall upon the keyboard, his once-hobby made him momentarily wonder 'If I could be there'. Two minutes, practical-thinking and a few unsatisfying puffs later, Salil throws his half cigarette out of the balcony, and resumes work on the MS-Excel file waiting impatiently for him back in his cabin.

A few hours passed, the sun relented, the swanky building deserted, and Mohan picked up the half-cigarette thorn-bound upon a cactus plant. Back in his haven, he takes a deep satiating drag, one that also satiated the cigarette itself, perhaps giving it 'delusions' of not being just any saleable commodity.

~ ~ ~

Rumour has it, that two months ago, in the dark of the night, Mozart was heard on this road. Yes, more prominently near that seeping incline under the flyover.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Small Talk

Not so much plagues the absence of her voice dipped in sucrose,
Nor does not hearing words of praise when he sits writing prose,
No, not even the fact, that there were not to be any more dates,
But that he had no topics now when chattering with his mates.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Straight from the Office Desk

It takes time, and then, time takes it. In a moment of accidental reflection, it's clear that it took less than even a fortnight, for the capacity to think about other, less-taxing things to return to me. In the penultimate analysis, I guess what I had feared for a bloodsucking parasite, was only a pesky, pokey, unwelcome guest. A few sessions of brooding are still inevitable, and justified even in their pointlessness, for in the final analysis these 'sessions' are, I concede, more of 'fits', and you can never really be too sure about them.

The other less-taxing thing, as it turns out, is the industrial training. Only that sitting through nine hours of absolutely no work is a most taxing challenge in its own right. Sleeping, apart from being prohibited and inspite of being tempting, is an inconsiderate escape. Because each of the men in the neighbouring cubicles, whose professional assignments weigh a full-fledged train as against my handful of nuts and bolts, is bound to feel wronged, maybe even to sigh pensively amid silent cries of 'why me', maybe even stare resentfully at sleeping-me amid silent curses of 'why him'. The second alternative, now, is to pass time talking, but then, with whom ? Certainly not these guys with trainloads of work keeping them busy and rendering them irritable. Lastly, there's the option of actually working through the day, where my own inadequacies abandon me. In tragic contrast to my branch of study, I am not really a man of machines; except of course, the tomato-soup vending machine there, which, by now, may even possessively call me 'My Man' for the faithful company I've been to her. But seriously, there are only so many cups you can take, the numerous five-minutes just don't add up to nine hours; besides, you start feeling like a bottle of ketchup by the time you're back home.

Despite being a minnow's minnow in this intimidatingly complex pecking order in this intimidatingly large organisation, I, surprisingly, am answerable directly to the AGM, who, surprisingly, is a very humble, forthcoming gentleman. Quite unlike my immediate senior, the minnow, who is too much of a Mr.Know-it-All for him to actually know anything at all. But then if your actual expertise over your putative expertise is anywhere like mine, you aren't really entitled to grouses like these. For that, I must first get better at my work, or change the work itself, because currently, my work and I - we just don't get along. Like a platonic relationship between two shy perverts, ours too, is going nowhere. A few more months.

I have set a fresh label for posts of this kind, anticipating that there'll be many more of these. There have to be.

Added Later: Ok, my dashboard tells me it is the hundredth one. Not quite the way I would have wanted to hit a century, but anyway, I let it be, like they say, 'it doesn't matter'.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Childish Whims

Written on 2nd November 2008 at around 8 PM; then titled 'One of These Days'.

One of these days, I’ll bring life to fables
One of these days, I will turn the tables
One of these days ..

One of these days, I’ll ring a surprise
One of these days, I will see sun rise
One of these days ..

One of these days, I won’t remain raw
One of these days, the world will awe
One of these days ..

One of these days, I’ll break the shackles
One of these days, I’ll bring miracles
One of these days ..

Oh God! Pardon me, I refuse your order
To let go of those lands on which I border,

To take these bad days as my longer fate,
I just refuse to accept it won’t be my date.

I hope you’ll excuse me for having my ways,
I will be a little stubborn one of these days.

Making of a Joker

‘If you can laugh at it, you can live with it’: the realisation to which he awoke;
He has been cracking fantastic ones, ever since his life's been made a bad joke.

End of a Joker

He was the Joker of the class, his desk surrounded, even swarmed.
He has forgotten how to laugh, and always wonders who he harmed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Stoic

When unaccompanied, no one is a stoic, these eyes betray the most heroic.
I am but just a novice who refutes, what chance have I before long solitudes.


Don't rely on your bats to do all the talking,
oh dear fan-boys of Sachin Tendulkar.
For all your genius and elegance of kings,
a flawed bat alone can make you a sulker.


I'd love to be a somewhat closer friend,
to you, I slyly want to pour my heart out.
But would you me, some patience lend,
until I fight the urgent hard drought ?

The Applicant

We the patients of fatal diseases,
our days counted in countings,
live on the border, by doc's short leases,
love real borders that others find daunting.

That war's much better despite its dangers,
than this meaningless war within,
that one unites us with a billion strangers,
this one distances us from our closest kins.

Plus, don't only those soldiers march on forward,
who really have nothing to lose ?
We fit the bill; please, we are not cowards,
let our suppressed fury cut loose.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


For a change, I am not concerned too much about the quality of what I am going to write. This isn't a garbed declaration of the quality of the previous posts, but an admittance of my mere quest for it previously. For now, though, I'd just let my heart speak without intrusions of the structural, aesthetic, or the hypocritical type from my neural circuitry.

Not that being concerned would have changed anything.

It is said that scarcity makes a man grow. But of course, this is only a piece of romanticised fiction, one that fascinates the mind, and also leaves it corrupted. If at all there is anything that grows during scarcity, it is scarcity itself.

People are mad, only a little less than I. They ring me up, ask me my result. A long nurtured love with numbers makes them call out for percentile-percentile right away. The next thing they say is a loud, enthusiastic, but for me a very hitting cry of Congrats or wow! It is truly a mixed-feeling, only too mixed, only too cluttered. Anyway, then I say something and the next thing they say is variable, though mainly it is something like an even louder 'Whaaat!' from those who've been watching a lot of Indian television Reality shows, while those who had restricted themselves to Simi Gerewal talk-shows on TV respond with a mannered, quieter, baritone Awwwww. Anyway, awe and shock, separated by a damned sentence; it saves me the cost of going to amusement parks to experience roller-coaster rides. I get them by the dozen every hour.

I did not get any IIM calls. At 99.70 of something called a percentile, I know not one more person among the thousands whose profiles I madly turned all through the last night, who met the same eventual fate as I, at this score. As far as sectionals go, one of the three wasn't all that fabulous for me, but it was still much better than many who finally raked in calls. Yes, I know, I am talking like a bad loser, but I realise there is only so much grace I can show at this time as a pornstar who is diagnosed with breast cancer minutes after she checks in a hospital for silicone implants that she hoped would have made her rule the world's compact disks.

Perhaps, it was only fair. I guess it was only fair that someone whose deeper longing, much deeper than the longing to ace a management entrance, is to demystify for himself the enigma of the Absurd, met with a full-blown, in-your-face absurdity hitting his head. However, the important word here is not 'Fair' or 'the Absurd', it is unfortunately 'Perhaps'.

Of course, it is not all bad, it never is. Almost at the nadir of my faith in the world, I discovered how terribly good some people thought of me. Major disappointments are palliative in the sense that they homogenise other auxiliary setbacks within themselves, making them indistinct, and making you inert to them. At the same time, they ensure that any faint good thing that happens shines out distinctly and you immediately recognise its being. So when I get terse replies, or worse, am left unanswered, it is easier accepting that it is how it was meant to be, and remain nonchalant, on the inside as well as on the outside. On the outside, I had always remained a stoic, but even the furore inside has now been replaced by a fading, near-mute, deathbed wistfulness. Put simply, it can be said that I have been humbled. And I still say scarcity doesn't make you grow. Being humbled is not growing. It was better earlier.

As a cockroach lying on its back, as a curious teenager being made to sit through back to back episodes of Vishnu-Puraan, as an audioning vocalist with a sore throat, as a nun in a stripclub, as a Nobel-prize awardee resisting a call of nature at the time of his speech, as a copywriter being corrected for wrong grammar by his maid, as Osama in Ayodhya - and as all of them put together, I am currently an amalgamation of varied emotions, all of them disconcerting, well almost. Among the four hundred and thirty six feelings that I feel now, the only one that qualifies as a silver lining is the pride at the stupendous success of Abhineet. It is no surprise, for it was always going to happen, unless all the IIMs decided to not conduct admissions at all this year. Of course they are conducting admissions, so of course Abhineet is there, right on the top. I particularly love people who don't make a big fuss of their brilliance, who aren't immersed narcissists. But then narcissists are never immersed, they only mistake drowning for immersion. I am amazed how Abhineet, after being what he is, comes off as just another guy, while being everything but that. Seeing his name printed with praise on the front page of a national daily today, I had a firm feeling it is only a beginning of a story that'll be long, admired, and deserved.

I also feel guilty for having subdued his celebrations, his enthusiasm. Among other things, maybe he would have wanted to write a jubilant post on his blog, the kind of victory-speeches that I am only too fond of, but cancelled it owing to the bad taste he must have thought it would leave in my mouth. That's how your head works, I know, yaar. But to set the record straight, I am looking forward to your masterpost as much as Shakti Kapoor looks desperately forward to new, struggling damsels asking for his patronization for them in bollywood. Even more than that, so please! And I cherish your email-of-compassion yesterday just about as much as I would have cherished the calls, and it goes without saying that it'll remain in my inbox forever. Also, All the best!

Unless Mamta Bannerjee taught you humour, you'd know that parts of the post were funny. Maybe the post was, but I am not. Perhaps 'this' explains the anomaly; a great blogger, see his/her blog I'd say.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Year

But for procrastination, I went to the college only yesterday for some thing for which I should have visited it twenty days back. It was a wonderful afternoon; the atmosphere was evocative of a refreshing hill-station holiday resort. It was the kind of atmosphere that made you want to gossip rather than be a mute spectator, but being alone I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice.

A particular lad again had my unswerving attention. And risking my reputation, I'd go on to say that he always has had it. No, he isn't the typical centre-of-everyone's-attraction or the bollywood-ish party-ki-jaan; in fact my guess is that not many people are aware of his existence, other than those bound to. I wouldn't be either, if it were not for his room being opposite mine. A confirmed loner, he has always had a permanent stern expression plastered on his face. His walk from his room to the mess and back to the room is devoid of any friendly interactions or TV interruptions. He goes about his work in such a rigid no-nonsense manner it makes you wonder whether there is actually some problem with the rest of all of us. If there was one word I would associate with him, it'll be 'serious'. It is none of my prerogative to be judgemental about it; maybe he has due reasons for it which I, in all likelihood, will never know.

Again, he didn't catch my attention after all these days for his secluded, almost misanthropic disposition. I think I have now got used to it. What was once notice-worthy is by now most-expected, at best a reaffirmation. But he was, as I saw yesterday, the very definition of affability. Moving from one triumvirate to another until each ran out of the time they could afford idling, he was all laughs and giggles, looking decided that idling was to be his occupation for the day. I thought he'd be feeling a little awkward being so social so suddenly, but if at all there was any clumsiness it was adeptly suppressed. There was no doubting his chivalrous charm but when the company was all-boys he also explored his artillery of Hindi expletives, of course not in the war-monger way, but in that pleasant way that keeps you at an arm's length in conversations, fosters brotherhood among us inherently rustic strangers, and projects you as the proverbial yaaron-ka-yaar.

He still is serious, essentially. Perhaps this time, about, a new-year resolution.