Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Artist ?

He started something unworthy and his conscience did revolt
He continued for fun, telling himself, “To confess I’ll write a ‘post’.

I’ll put some strange character in, one with a ludicrous name,
His descriptions very unlike mine, of a very different fame.

He’ll do the sin for me there, and invite furious curses;
While I’ll still digest applause, he will for me take the blame”

How that’ll free him of his guilt, the blogger never stopped to think
How it qualifies as a ‘confession’ has a rationale rather lame.

It is surely more unworthy, sinful, than what it’s meant to cover
The ruthless abuse of the non-living, of a character mute, helpless, tame.

A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession. – Albert Camus

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Teacher ?

वक्त इतना भी मेहरबान मुर्शिद तो नहीं है
करूं मैं एहतियात रोज़ ऐसी जिद तो नहीं है

नादां न वो बच्चा जो कहे वालिद हद-आलिम
हर सांच उभारी जाए, ज़रूरी तो नहीं है

हर ख़ता की तसल्ली कि भूल भी इक सबक है
हर सबक का यूँ सीखना वाजिब तो नहीं है

वस्ल को चला है जो राज़-ऐ-गुलशन की ले तलब
वो है तो कोई फलसफी ; समझदार नहीं है

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Girl at the Shopping Mall

Today at the shopping mall a girl had in her hand a rose.
That girl wore fabindia, was fair, and had a pointed nose.
I looked at her afar for long, only to eventually rue,
That you were not her, that she was not you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011


Last year X had his quarter life crisis
This year he is struggling with the midlife.
And you're wrong, genius, that he'd die at four
Because I'm already twenty five.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Observation 0198

Your friend who says "I'm sure you'll succeed" is not so confident about your impending success as your foe who says "I fear he'll succeed".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Arithmetic Progression

I have three friends. Out of whom,
one loves deserts, two are writers,
and three are imaginary.

Edit: Every now and then I feel the need to clarify that everything that's written in first person need not necessarily be referring to me. First-person just happens to be the way of writing I like most. Personally, these days, I have four, not three friends. And they're all overworked analysts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jagjit Singh

When he sang, the words felt true. "Banda sach keh raha hai" it felt. Nothing else ever mattered.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I had been mulling over it for months. Five, six. I didn’t tell anyone. It was not something you could tell someone and still hope not to be evaluated. But I was consumed by the question like mint in ester. I wondered about it on my way to work every night. In the mornings, I couldn’t sleep because I wanted the answer right then, that very day, every day, for months. I was thinking about it when I dragged myself into the airport, for a new city now, and my parents waved me prolonged goodbyes from outside the glass wall. I was thinking about it also when I walked for the first time into my new place of work, the newly acquired free office stationery making things easier for a while. I was thinking about it when I knocked at the real estate agent’s door and a woman with manly sideburns, the receptionist as a matter of fact, welcomed me in. When I first visited home two and a half months later, there was a lovely little camera waiting for me. I was thinking about it as I stared into its lenses while it stared at others: why don’t I write more often? Why don’t I write?

When recently I met an old friend I was making mental notes of his adultnesses*. I liked him for them. I liked him by and large but I was on the lookout for giveaways at all moments all the same: those exaggerated truths, that baby lie, that question he’d ask me acting as if he didn’t know the answer.

The last I'd seen of him before this was when we were both nine: we weren’t as clever then, not by a long shot, but we weren’t as stupid either. I wasn’t. As a kid, I wasn’t writing a short story in my head when I should have been up with real, in-the-present-moment frolic.

(*except his round inchoate male breasts that came as not sucha pleasant surprise; I remembered him as a marathon runner in the making.)

Long story short: I was writing a short story when I met a long lost friend. But when I actually sat down to write, I couldn’t put pen to paper. Not only that. Whenever I would really get down to the business of writing – at this point you can imagine me in front of a blank word document on the screen, my fingers hanging just above the keyboard in paralysis, my eyes intent on the pixels laughing in my face – I suddenly wouldn’t want to.

While I tried to sleep today an answer the texture of an arrow seeped into my aching eyes. It was discomforting, and unlike what I had imagined, the coming of it didn’t make sleeping any easier. I like framing sentences, it told me, and I like adding one sentence to another. I like thinking up the odd witty remark, I like capturing the shy detail, I like imagining things in my head, I like hypotheses. It said I love how strings of words are jot together to resemble baritone musical notes, it said also that I like writing words and sentences and paragraphs that among themselves form mathematical patterns.

What it also told me, sadly, is that I have nothing to say to the world.
I have no desire to tell anyone what I think about what. Not directly, not through stories.

I didn’t want to believe all this, but it also told me, as if shoving evidence between my breaths, to go see people’s status messages on facebook. Not what’s in them, but just the fact that they were written. That these people, among them people who can’t put together a coherent phrase on being offered salvation as reward, that these people often had something to say to everyone. They wanted their voices to be heard, their thoughts to be known. While I didn’t, I really didn’t.

I know it’s not a happy or even an intelligent story, but what the heck, it is the story for today. I can't let the writer's block last forever just like that.


PS. Dear Curious Minds, mint in ester doesn't lead to anything or mean anything.
Except possibly that shallow frills excite smart minds.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I don't like myself. I don't know why.

But I liked this joke:

Manmohan Singh to Anna Hazaare: "Arre sir jab aapne kuch khaaya hi nahi to bill kis baat ka?"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Silent Observer #023

I've recently enjoyed being part of a funny thread on a friend's facebook page, where all the rest of us are teasing him on how, as a consequence of this whole Anna Hazare and Lokpal movement, burning midnight oil studying towards his bureaucratic ambitions is no longer going to make him a millionaire. But really it's all in good humour, since he's definitely one of the most honest, upright people I've ever known, and personally I think he should definitely succeed, as India needs many more bureaucrats like him.

But that didn't stop me from making this tongue-in-cheek thing and sending it to him. Hope his dad doesn't see it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Reflections on Krugman's "Credibility, Chutzpah and Debt"

Click [Here] for the piece by Krugman in question.

I don't understand Krugman's approach of trying to prove his hypothesis by attacking those with opposing views (in this case S&P) for their previous failures; and not by addressing the actual issue at hand, which he glibly papers over with a vague "if you do the math.." remark. In that case, please talk about the math Mr. Krugman and not about what S&P did some years ago. In any case, a lack of vigilance earlier (on the part of S&P, in this case) is no reason to rubbish a greater vigilance now.

US debt has been downgraded from AAA to AA+. AA+ is still a great rating, below it are the ratings AA, AA-, A+, A, and then BBB, which is India's rating*. And none of us here believe that India's going to default on its debt any time soon. My point here is what looks like a downgrade, and factually speaking indeed is, should be seen as a correction, a long delayed revision.

The US government has a debt of 14 trillion USD, roughly equal to the GDP of US. Each year the government makes 2.2 trillion in tax and other revenues (~15% of GDP) and its annual public spending is 3.6 trillion, which Krugman and some others argue (not without some reason I concede) should be increased well above 3.6. Surely the 2.2 trillion is enough to pay the interest on its debt of 14 trillion [and counting; {currently at 1.4 trillion a year (3.6 - 2.2)}]; and therefore they surely won't default on their interest payments. If anyone thought they would, they would have been rated CCC and not AA+. But we have to consider that these are globally uncertain times, and sooner or later some of US's creditors, due to their own difficulties, may want the return of their money rather than the return on their money. When that happens, how ready is the US? The current fiscal standing, coupled with an economic outlook that all investors, economists and even people inside the federal government find grim, if not downright dismaying, certainly called for a rating that was not AAA.

As a little sidenote, I want to highlight 2 more things that I feel are informative with respect to this discussion:

1. The net present value of future liabilities of US is nearly 60 trillion USD.

2. A downgrade should not be equated straightaway to fears of default, as the media most loves to do. No government/nation that has control over its own currency can theoretically ever be forced to default. They can print money. Of course there are huge inflation costs to that action, but the point is, all governments (except Eurozone nations like Greece; since they do not have much control over Euro) can print money to avert default, if push comes to shove.

* After BBB are BB, B, CCC, CC and C. And then SD and D; but they are for nations that have already defaulted.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yaadon ki Baaraat

I'm blogging today mainly because I'm not getting any sleep. Oh, dear, that's what we've come down to.

I distinctly remember starting this blog with great gusto after having read an NSIT student's blog. I wrote a couple of sub-mediocre posts and naturally the gusto soon died out. That was in 2005. I was 6 years, or, oh just say it, 24% younger. (At least it's better than thinking that I am 31.5% older now*).

When I started writing again in 2006, this time too with great enthusiasm, I thought to myself that I was doing much better than last year's disasters. I remember writing the first post after a gap of one year, called 'Delhi Metro's Matchless Passengers'. I was incredibly happy with how it had turned out, and in a moment imagined such great humorists as Jerome K. and Groucho Marx chuckling in their graves. Too pleased with myself, I followed that up with several posts all similarly trying to be, and often being, funny. That's a sharp contrast from now I suppose, when most of my sparse output lingers on the border separating boredom from stupor. Another contrast, come to think of it, is that in those days people used to read this blog.

I can't distinctly remember the blog's journey from there. What remain with me are mere outlines - a post here, a rant there. Somehow people liked it, seemed to. It was somewhere in 2007 that I started writing verse. My initial response to my verse would put to shame my high opinion of my earlier humorous writeups. So happy was I with some of my poems that I was sad that the people at large (at this point let me insert that the average of IQ of human beings is by definition 100, and that this is not my invention) won't really get them. "It went over my head!" I imagined my post's comments to be, but they were all largely to the tune of "Nice poem. Keep it up. N plz visit mah blog at xyz.pqr.com". With some effort I managed to make myself believe these people actually read the poems, and that they actually found them nice. Let me admit that I would sometimes go so far as to entertain thoughts such as: "Actually they found them awesome, but they fear sounding effusive." Yes, yes, I know I should have rechristened the blog 'The Delusioned Observer' then.

2008, 09 and 10 came and went just too quick. They were gone before I could make sense of them, like a Ferrari coming from far behind and overtaking an Alto, and before the Alto driver knows, the Ferrari is not even in sight. Incidentally, I these three years I actually drove an Alto.

Anyway. Sleep's finally relented and come. Some other time.

*For the mathematically challenged, I was 19 in 2005.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On The Simple, Unskilled Act Of Speaking The Truth

Some people can, some people can't and some people can't not.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Takings from a small list

A casual scroll down the list of Bharat Ratnas gave much pop trivia to indulge in.

Ever wondered how there's a marked increase in musicians getting the Bharat Ratna? All of our last three Bharat Ratnas have been musicians. Five out of the last eight Bharat Ratnas are musicians. Incidentally, these are the only five musicians to have received the Bharat Ratna till date. The first musician to be so honoured was MS Subbulakshmi in 1998, that is, forty-four years after the awards began. However, this must not be construed as some musical wave that has swept our country lately, as all these eminent musicians were born in 1910s and 1920s. Nearly a century back.

Eleven of the thirty nine Indians who've been given the Bharat Ratna were not alive to receive it. Add to this sixteen more people who received the award in the mostly uneventful last five years of their big, eventful lives, and you know that we in India think really long and hard before making this big decision.

The awareness of such thoughtfulness on the part of the authorities must be juxtaposed with another awareness: Of India's first nine PMs, six were from the Indian National Congress. The same six are all Bharat Ratnas.

As a sidenote, all of India's first four Presidents were awarded the Bharat Ratna, as was President number eleven, APJ Abdul Kalam. This does not seem odd or untoward as Presidents in India, thankfully, are anyway chosen from a pool of highly accomplished people. An exception being our present President who, as her saving grace, was justified to the public by virtue of her being the first woman to the post. A smart political statement needed to be made, I guess, so meritocracy had to take a backseat. That's quite alright, really.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


“Have you lost it?”

The person on the other end of the phone replied something. I don’t know what. But this distraught looking man standing next to me on the bus stand, with a large brown overcoat meant for someone larger than him and a large black umbrella meant for me, kept shouting the four words repeatedly on the phone, sometimes cupping his hand around his mouth, mostly not. If he released spit when he shouted, you could not know it: such was the rain.

The important part here is that I did not have an umbrella. It was raining furiously; the raindrops nearly hurt you as they made contact. The bus stand was not actually a bus stand, but a place where people waited anyhow and therefore buses stopped to fetch them. Meaning there was no shade, and I was feeling sort of cold in the rain, especially when a thick trail trickled down the back of my ear through my neck into my shirt. That shivered me, and for a brief moment I would shake like Shakria’s bum.

He was standing to my right. While telling you about how in this rain you couldn’t know if he unconsciously spat as he screamed, I forgot to tell you that you also couldn’t tell if someone's eyes had tears flowing down them freely if they stood unumbrellaed in the rain.

At least he didn’t seem to come to know.

But that could also be because he was so caught up in his own mess. You can never be sure.

You can never be sure about him, my husband.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Traffic Signal

Ennui-burned eyes peering out of a car.

Plimsoll, A child. His father, Hawaii chappals.
Sunburned feet.
Walking. Playing. Smiling.
Father doubling up as teacher.

Pavement. Scattered grains. Sparrows.
Drops of water down a random pipe. One pigeon.

The skirling screams of kids killing their days away
for alms.


Air conditioner.

The music from inside the expensive car
speakers - so advanced they produce notes to a clarity
the human ear can't even appreciate.

The sudorific sight of a cartpuller. A saliferous shirt.
Droplets on a dark nose. Oops.

Oops, fingers to the remote control. Now! Lower
the temperature.

Fold Economic Times. Peer out once more.
Indulge. Worry.

Recline better to worry better.

Relax. It's never too hot to wear your
pellicles of sophistication.

Q: What is happiness?

Ans: Oblivion. Oblivion is happiness.

Monday, May 2, 2011


On some unknown tree
there was a twig
which fell one day
and flew away
with the strong wind,
the westerlies,
and listen please,
to where it went.
It went far out
of country woods
and into fiery
where it got stuck
in my fingers
and I thought of
the insects on
the twig that were
separated from
their families,
which now may be
mourning the loss
of their little-ies
and I felt bad
there was no way
I could google them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wish You Were Here*

My brother left for the US yesterday night, most probably for good i.e. to settle down. The last time he’d left for the US, probably for good, too, was four years ago. I was twenty one and I was there, I remember, at the Airport to see him off. No overbearing sadness had come over me. At the airport, as my brother made his way inside the doors beyond which we non-passengers were not allowed, my parents started shuffling here and there, away from where we had all been standing, trying to catch one more glimpse of him through the glass wall if they could. And then one more; and then one more, if they could. A portion of the long glassed wall along the circumference of the airport terminal was thickly filmed, which was where I chose to go, looking vainly at myself in the glass, marvelling inside at my long locks, thinking highly of how I looked in the particular pair of jeans and tee I had worn that day. When you’re twenty one, you don’t need to actually be good-looking to be obsessed about how you look. I wasn’t to see my brother until three years later, but that didn’t seem to inform me how stomping hurriedly to catch a couple more glimpses of him walking to this queue and that while pushing his trolley, could make any profound, positive difference.

I came home and read the first one-fifth of Catch-22, possibly for the sixth or seventh time. I was yet to finish reading the whole book even once.

An year ago, he came back on what he thought was a three-week vacation. Visa humdrum meant he had to in stead stay for a year. First he was pissed with the US, but later for the most part he was just pissed with India, an irritation that stemmed from his belief in the unforgiving nature of India’s socioeconomy for someone who was both a mediocre student, academically, and was not the possessor of familial wealth enough to start setting up, or even support him through setting up, a business of his own. We had some heated debates, my brother and I, over this subject, in all of which, I, although the less enterprising and entrepreneurial of the two, would firmly stand up for India’s great opportunities for its people, stand up for India’s great progress, India’s great democracy and above all, India’s great culture°. Very firmly. Even though inside, every now and then something he said would weaken my conviction in my stance. Anyway, these debates weren’t making any difference to our lives, let alone to India.

Three months ago I moved to Bombay. Three weeks later he came over because he thought – rightly – that I can’t manage myself living by myself. He was here for five days during which, every day, when I left for office he left for getting me things – cot, almirah, study table, hammer and nails, chairs, pillows, laptop accessories and much more – pretty unglamourous things all in all. It made me feel small inside that I worked, paid frankly more than I thought I worked commensurately for¹ , in a comfortable air-conditioned environ, on a cushioned, reclining, swivel chair, and he worked for me, thanklessly², walking whole days in the harsh, humid heat on the uneven streets of Bhandup, Kanjurmarg and Ghatkopar.

Last night he boarded his flight in Delhi while I was at work in my office in Bombay. It was a Saturday, and I was there for a specific if not special purpose, which meant that I was the only person in the office, empty cubicles all around me till as far as the wall on all four sides. After every two odd hours I’d call him, building up a stoic coolness in my voice, and say ‘how’s it going’, if the ‘packing’s all done?’, ‘hey so many people home to see you off, you’re so popular!’ and the like. People were home aplenty, and these phone-calls all lasted less than a minute each. Laden with background noise of cousins and aunts and uncles these calls were not exactly what I had wanted them to be. Or needed them to be.

Each time after I’d hang up, tears welled up in my eyes but did not fall. I was sad that he was going now, and as against most other feelings³ we casually call sadness, this was actually sadness, in its unadulterated form, the kind you cannot rationalise. For why should I be sad when this is what he’d wanted, and this is what I’d wanted for him? In that case, it would have been disappointment masquerading as sadness, not sadness. It isn’t even as if he’d be worse off without me, that I’m in a worry about. It isn’t even as if I’d be in any way harmed by his being in US that I’d be insecure about. I was just sad this time, no more, no less. There was no scope for analysis. Except that there was important work waiting on the screen in front of me that probably needed some.

Wish you’d have stayed here in India a bit more, Bhai.

*This is pretty much my most personal post of the undisguised type by a long shot, and naturally I have mixed feelings, apprehensions about posting it. But I'm emboldened by the fact that the blog is not known to many people. But more importantly, I'm motivated by the thought that when I look back on my blog many years later, I'll find this post here and feel better about the world.

°The last part really turning him off; he saw the culture as full of myriad hypocrisies stacked together clumsily, one trying to hide the other.

¹Which is, unlike most private-sector employees, something I’ve always felt. Although at the same time I don’t think I earn as much as I’d ideally wanted to have been earning at this stage. And that this is no contradiction, let me add.

²In the larger scheme of things, that is; not because I wasn’t thankful.

³Like disappointment, ego-crashing, failure, hopelessness, worry, insecurity, dejection – which are all distinct, independent feelings I think we mistake for sadness. For example, when a whiz comes second in a class, it’s not sadness that he feels as we normally presume, it’s actually ego-crashing. It can also be understood by considering that what we often consider happiness (such as a public achievement, like winning a hurdle race), is just an ego-boost; much more transitory than actual happiness. Five days later, you end runners-up in another race, and all that show of happy-dent-white jaw is gone.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Yesterday morning, I whistled and Papa said don't. But I've just learned it, how to whistle. Raghu whistles all the time and his father laughs and sings and whistles along. Papa says it's bad. I ask him how and he just repeats that it's bad and looks at me with a look that says it's really really really bad, so I believe him. But I believe him only for the next fifteen minutes, after which I'm again all 'why is it bad why' in my head. It's such a pain. Yesterday when Raghu was whistling I told him it's bad, and he just laughed loud. He said if it were bad his dad would surely have told him. Right, right, I thought, and we both whistled to the tune of 'If you're happy and you know it clap your hands'. We're so good at it, both of us. He is a little better, Raghavendra. We've named him Whistlendra in the class. It's so much fun. I think it is. Sudeep and Upasana too. But I am going to make sure I don't whistle when I walk to the bus-stop in the mornings with Papa. Ever since I've learned it it's just become impossible to stop. I'm whistling in the bus, in the recess, in the playground, in the music period, and to tell you a little secret, even in the SST period, but there less loudly than usual, because she'd get really hyper and call my dad school and then he'll be really mad. Ok, he won't be mad, but still. Ever since I'd fallen off the rickshaw and cut a huge bad wound and caught an infection so they had to cut the thing off, or amputate as Dr.Salve says, my dad has never scolded me for anything. He behaves as if it were his fault. I don't even feel in any way incapable or in pain now, for a long time. As for being caught whistling by SST ma'am, and being complained about to dad, and him being called to school, and informed about how I'm not behaving: I wouldn't mind it even if he were to get mad, but that he'll also maybe be embarrassed, and I don't want that at all. It's really not such a big deal to stop, I think. I will.

Yesterday was a sad day. Sad and beautiful, my dad wrote in his diary. My dad doesn't know that I know he writes a diary, so obviously he doesn't know that I know where his diary is. So obviously he doesn't know that I read it. Sometimes I think that he'll get mad when he comes to know, but then I think he won't be mad at me no matter what. But then I think he will be, in this case. And then again I think he won't be, and it goes on like this. So for a lot of days I kept going crazy tossing between both possibilities all the time, but of late I've realized that there's no point to all this fretting and that I should go on reading them because I love to. And so far, in a way, I don't with confirmation know whether it's even a bad thing to do. Only after I get caught and my dad discusses matters with me, and specifically tells me that it’s a bad thing can I really know for sure and certain if it's even a bad thing in the first place to be reading his diaries, right?

“An amazing and sad and beautiful, beautiful day. Miss you a lot today.” he has written, to be precise. And he didn’t write anything more yesterday, which is rather unlike him, for all his daily diary entries seem to be longer than my English textbook’s stories, so much so that almost every day I find myself leaving them midway even though I’ve never found any of them boring me. But I think that I’ll never find reading anyone’s diary boring, whoever the person, however written, whatever described.

Omg I’m still on the subject of diaries. So yesterday was quite a day, if you know what I mean. Raghu and I were, what else, whistling. And joking and shouting. In the bus on our way back. This is when I’d told him it’s bad, whistling, and he had laughed and .. all that I told you earlier about. My brother was sitting on the window seat, and then I in the middle, and then Raghu next to the aisle. He kept looking out of the window, my brother. His name is Vartmaan and he’s really not like me, like he’s not always hollering and whistling and laughing to other people’s annoyance, like Raghu and I do. But today the way he kept looking out of the window -- with no regard or attention to our awesome frolic inches away from him -- he seemed a man who knew something no one else does. Morpheus. Not really, but sort of. “His silence was unsettling even by his own silent, unsettling standards” my English teacher would say, that sucker for alliteration.

I don’t quite understand him, Vartmaan. His life consists of, I think, acting subservient to hot girls and therefore often getting snubbed by them, while taking the ones who’re not hot for granted and saying them things he wouldn't to hot girls, basically being himself, and then getting snubbed by them too. And then being sad about the whole messy scheme of things and unable, I guess, to mingle with us kiddies. He doesn’t find our jokes funny, which confirms to me that he really must be a grown-up. Or adolescent. What’s the difference anyway. He says it’s a different world altogether in the senior school but that he can’t explain to me how. I know for a fact that our subject, Science, gets divided into three components physics, chemistry and biology, each of them bigger than our whole Science subject. And that SST will be divided into History, Geography and Civics, of which History alone is said to be bigger than all our present class 5 subjects combined. Said to be so not just by him but all his friends too. Even Dad seems not to disagree about it. But I doubt that that’s what he’s referring to when he calls it a different world.

He kept striking the seat ahead with his middle finger in a way we strike the striker while playing carom. And kept humming a low pitched English song. And intermittently writing something on his mobile phone. Which seems to be his most favourite pastime ever since Dad got him a mobile phone early this year. He didn’t look sad, but every time I noticed him in a small breath stolen between our raucous laughter and antics, he seemed to notice me looking at him and immediately looked back away out into the roads, as if consciously trying to keep me at bay. Don’t entertain me, I’m not entertaining you. Something like that. I couldn’t have guessed what awaited us, and I have a faint feeling now that he could.

When we got home we saw something that literally blew our heads away. Honda Activa!! Hotter than all the girls Bhai loses sleep over. I can’t tell you how awesome it looked. You’d be thinking ‘just like all other new Honda Activas, you jackass’, but no, it was prettier. The bike was there on the porch, a tilak under its headlight. Tenant’s maybe. And then we walked in and Dad was there to open the door, leave taken from his office. Now something’s the matter, I started to think. But he just opened the door and went straight back in nonchalantly after a brief “hey wash your hands kids, and remember to hang your uniforms properly in the almirah”, a novel in his hands, two of his fingers inserted into a particular page near the beginning as he held it. Now there I saw a cake on the table. It might not surprise my school mates as much to see a cake at home but at our place a cake means someone’s birthday at home. But it was no one’s. And just as we get close to the cake, glitter and ribbons all fall over our heads from a bag on the ceiling fan I hadn’t yet noticed, through a lever-and-pinion mechanism he’d got installed, maybe that morning itself, for such special-effects, and which he was operating from his hiding place inside the kitchen next to his room. Then he appeared in a flash and jumped happily while saying “Vartmaan’s Activa’s finally here!!” cheerily and loudly, especially the word ‘here’. He doesn’t usually act this youthful enthusiastic way, our Dad. I felt full of feelings that I couldn’t name.

Though now I think I could have, and should have, used the opportunity to whistle in front of him and he wouldn’t have minded.

This had been on the cards for a long time, I think. Ever since Rajat had got one last summer, my brother had been after my dad to get him one too, a Honda Activa. Rajat’s this guy in our tuition centre who has a big belly, and whose arms can’t help hanging away from him at an angle when he walks, because there’s so much fat on his chest-sides. He’s boastful of his Parker Pens, his swiss knife, his Activa of course, about that he smokes Marlboro, about his Dad’s three cars, about that he travels in Aeroplanes. I’m sure not even air-hostesses smile at him. He’s already ballooned to the point of bursting, but he still wouldn’t stop it, Rajat the boaster. But my brother doesn’t understand. He just had to get the bike, he wouldn’t have it any other way. My dad said he’d just got him the mobile phone, but no, he wouldn’t have it any other way. They say wisdom comes with age. What a myth. He’s more than five years older than I.

Then my dad came up with this bright idea up all parents’ sleeves. He promised my brother that he’d get him what he wanted if he scored eighty percent marks in his class Eleventh, first term exams. To tell you the truth, I’d felt vaguely wronged when I got to know of this arrangement, having got A+’s and A’s all my school life, and not having been offered great rewards at mediocre successes like these. And as much as my brother wanted the bike, I’m not very sure that the lure of it pushed him any harder towards getting higher, better marks. He seemed much the same to me and soon I got over my earlier vague sense of being wronged when I realized it was unlikely he’d get that far. But sometimes I did think how out of the world it would be if he did somehow get 85 or something and earned the Activa. I both wanted and didn’t want him to get it.

Wanting more than not wanting, that is.

Three days ago, results for the first term were declared in our school. Let’s not dwell over my results, I’d just tell you in short that they were capital A Amazing, my marks. My brother though fared not as well as I’d have liked him to, or as Dad would have liked him to, or as he’d have liked himself to. He’d got sixty eight. I was a bit sad about that. Like for a day and a half. That’s as long as I normally can be sad about a single thing. How my brother felt, and my Dad – I’m sorry but I really don’t know. They must not have been thrilled about it either, but as a ten year old writer that’s as much insight I can give you about others’ feelings. I really don’t know how they felt inside, though what I can tell you is that, I felt pretty terrible about not being able to feel, or even guess, how they’d be feeling about it. Perhaps it’s not a big deal after all, but sadly enough I was not sure about that either.

So basically the point I’m trying to drive home here is that it was a big surprise – the Activa that Dad had anyway got for him. Bhai, who of late had been pretty economical with his smiles, couldn’t control his beaming, all teeth and jaw smile. You could see excitement all over his face, eyes so joyed with disbelief that you’d think Shin Chan won the Nobel prize for Physics. Dad was … again, I’m so sorry readers, I cannot explain. I see a tree full of fruits, I love the tree, its fruits and its shade, I always want it to be there, I’d be really sad without the tree, but how the tree feels at any point I’m far too ignorant about. Did that make any sense?

Then Dad and he made each other eat the cake. And made me eat the cake, and rubbed cream on my cheeks, you know, the usual cake fun. No pictures were clicked, maybe because we were so completely absorbed in the present we couldn’t get out of it enough at that time to anticipate how dearly we’d reflect on it when it becomes the past. Now you’re thinking this sentence is not from a ten year old writing. This is. I’ve copied it from somewhere. Briefly, they left to get ice-cream, my brother and Dad, on the new bike. Meanwhile I rang Raghu up and shared the good news. Bragged, for once.

In the evening, Bhai left for his tuition classes on the bike. He would meet Rajat there, on his older, maybe less advanced model. I wished I could see for myself how it would all turn out, the scene, but I’d quit going to the tuition classes a couple of months after I’d joined when I’d met with my accident. I never started going back again as Dad and I both agreed I didn’t really need the formality. I waited at home to listen to the anecdote when Bhai comes back.

At the time he was expected to be back, Dad was waiting for him outside the house, sitting on his scooter. I fancied them having a race, brother and father, from my windowside study table on which I draw pictures of these old people whom news channels are always after. The ministers and statesmen and all. Yesterday, as Dad sat on the scooter outside, the wind giving his shirt many turbulent wrinkles, I was drawing him. Probably the need for recording the day had emerged by now. My sketch was interrupted when he suddenly stood up, smiling wide, waving his hand. In 20 seconds Bhai was in my view too, the two of them talking, same height, similar features, Dad’s smile much bigger though than my brother’s.

Dad saw that the bike was much soiled. Like an enthusiastic kid who has just got a new bike as a prize for his efforts, Dad cleaned the stains off the Activa with a duster, and asked him, my brother, to sit besides him for a ride. I quickly ran out to the porch to see dad flying it into the green horizon. A little dangerously even, like an adolescent maverick.

It was the happiest of all the days I remembered. I was doing my homework when they came back. We had dinner, and chatted, all three of us, about moviestars and cricketers and the programs I love to watch on TV. Then we went to sleep in our rooms, only no sleep met our eyes. My brother and I sleep in one room. As I pretended to sleep, I could hear sobs from the adjacent bed, my brother’s. What?!

My brother was sobbing uncontrollably. I asked him what happened, but he wouldn’t answer. I said I’d call Dad, which he was sure I wouldn’t, and said nothing in reply. He just sobbed, and sobbed. Tell me what’s going on, I demanded. “You’re a very good boy, Guddu.” he said. “That I am”, I said matter-of-factly, “but why are you all sappy”. No answer, again, but he did calm down in a while and went to sleep soon after. I don’t quite know what our relationship as brothers was, or how we were as compared to how other brothers are. Anyway, whatever we were we are not anymore.

In the morning today I saw Rajat escaping the school walls to go to Priya, the multiplex he’s always bunking and going to with his gang. Apparently, his dad has got him a car now, a beautiful, white car, into which he promptly dived and scooted around at mad, bad speed. A Honda Jazz. Till two days back, they made me want to whistle.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Opening Paragraph to a long experimental Short Story I wrote when I was unemployed¹

They were tired all of them and their shoulders all hung like the hangers we hang our clothes on. The stale smell of fallen beer pervaded the room. I am not talking about a certain, particular day. I am talking about everyday, right after noons, which in their world played the part of mornings. Let me continue. There were two actual ashtrays and a textbook doubling up as one, but there were no cigarettes anymore in the room to be smoked, only dead butts. Everyday at 1 PM, let me repeat. The glass window amplified greatly in hotness the hot sunrays beaming into the room and forming a distorted rhombic yellow on the floor into which they by turns all of them inserted their inward-sinking heads. They gleaned some kind of pleasure from the frankly harsh and intolerable heat seeping into them, their eyes, their malfunctioning noses. They fashioned themselves one with nature when they did such things, like imagining themselves a battered rock out of a volcanic eruption now resting in an undiscovered desert. Their throats swelled from cigarettes and alcohol disturbed their bowels and they thought they were somehow now one with nature, whatever being one with nature means. Probably they empathized with the similarly sad state nature is in now, but I'm not so sure about that. Anyway they were not all nature and sun and moon and trance. Some CDs lay strewn towards the laptop which in turn had been flapped open a little too much, at 130 degrees or something, as though they would climb up the wall and sit next to lizards to watch what they thought was a great movie. They were always watching what they thought were great movies. They were all for the most part living in a movie themselves, one which they thought great too. Great in a non-commercial, classic, cult, arcane, acclaimed, misunderstood sense, let me specify. That they were messed up and far from ideal and that the people they disliked² disliked them gave them the willies they truly adored. That while Orson in the next room got ready and bathed in perfume and tucked his shirt in and sung a sweet soft tune and winked at them as he passed their room while walking into a day full of painless although meaningless gestures and nothings gave them a feeling of spiritual superiority that as hard as I may try I cannot explain to you since to truly understand that part you've got to be one of them, like I am.


¹Now I mostly only write emails followed by Regards Name Designation.
²which happened not to exclude a lot of people.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Still Photography

Description of the face of Sandarbh Narayan
His face is what people call heavy, just as he himself is. A toddler's fingertip may take an eternity to start from his forehead and touch every square inch of his face until it reaches his firmly hanging chin. His brows the wings of a seagull guard his deep-seated, little brown eyes. On their own, his eyes are a picture of calmness; a calmness that's less an absence of worry than an absence of hysteria. But alongside those wide protective maternal brows, you think those eyes are just overconfident - lazily overconfident. His smile - childlike in its instant gleeful appearance at insignificant little things which when you grow old you stop finding funny - almost inches towards dimples but not quite forming them. What are formed instead are two symmetric depressions wrought with shadows; like two wet fingers had been tapped on and removed from a pudding the shape of his face. The said shadows are smudged by his stubble that's always three days old and never two or four. Its sepia tone almost belies the laze and calm of his eyes, because it makes you wonder if he bleaches it. His nose is straight, not blunt, not pointed, just right, and symmetric, almost too good to be placed on a face that can be described as heavy. His skin is soft, unmarred by what's called ageing but gently tanned nonetheless by pimples that once were; almost making him look a realist wax statue of himself.

Another Description of the face of Sandarbh Narayan
Chubby but with good features. Like Rishi Kapoor the colour of brown bread.

Yet Another Description of the face of Sandarbh Narayan
Fourteen inches from the top of his skull to the crest of his chin, all the colour of a rat washed with Fair and Lovely. A nose angled at seventy degrees from the ground when he's standing, and slanting at forty degrees on each side from the septum. The eyebrows are the shape of the symbol made by the key that's just on the left of the keyboard's tilda. The ears stick their neck out, as if he has grown up overhearing discreet conversations. Smiles like a true cute fool.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bored into Blogging

Now the blog's design must make you think that the blogger in question studies in class four, and on being asked what class he's in, replies with a beam on his face that he is in class fourth 'D' but come April and he'll be in fifth 'E', while not forgetting to add: "which is the senior-most class of the junior school!". As much as I wish that were the case, the truth is the blogger in question is, sadly, already twenty five. A couple of weeks ago he had his birthday, but, he would like to make known that he's still keen on shamelessly accepting belated birthday wishes, more enthusiastically so if they come with something he can beautify his as yet bland and semi-furnished house with.

The next thing he would like to make known is his intention of discontinuing with the affected third-person manner of referring to himself in the post, because I think it's pretty clumsy and not very pretty.

What I'm thinking right now is that I can really waste a lot of time, and write a lot of words, without actually saying anything. And what do you know, I'm even feeling glad about it.

Here in Bombay I have been put to working night shifts at my workplace. And since you're wrong about always having thought that I work at a call center, there aren't many of us in the huge, labyrinthine office there at night. The facility that during the day accommodates as many as 300 analysts has, at night, only four of us. And since I'm the least busy of them all, I spend half the night (the other half spent working) getting up from my desk every ten minutes and going to one of the other three to ask them if they'd like to play TT for a while.

I wouldn't mind as much if they just said no. But their answers usually transform my consternation from one of boredom to one of linguistic torment. "No man" they say. This is how they talk here, everyone it seems. No man. It sounds a lot like going to a Juice shop and telling him "give me a glass of pineapple juice, Juicemaker" or going to a saloon and saying "I want a neatly cropped haircut, Barber" or going to a dog and saying "hey dog" or going to Alaska and saying "show me where you live, Eskimo." My point being, people have names for some reason. And even if it isn't advisable to take names all the time, 'Man' is no replacement for 'yaar'.

And neither is 'dude' any substitute, which happens to be their second most favourite address. Not like this dude, what are you doing dude, this is perfect dude, we have a lot of work tomorrow dude. You hear this and go in your head: Dude, don't call me dude. It is painful to see this address is so commonplace here, this address which in Delhi we employed only during sarcasm or confrontational repartee.

Ok, let's chuck that. Another thing that irks me about Bombay is how we're all so short of space here. Even the sacks at ration shops are much, much narrower, and thereby taller to fit in adequate grain, making them look like test tubes of jute. Oh, so now you think I'm nitpicking?



Monday, March 7, 2011

AK Called Today

I miss my college life. It was as close to [Jerome-ian, Wilde-ish (except the homosexuality), Chekov-ian] 19th-century as you could get in the 21st. It wasn't that our college was like that, it was my own little group's little way of life. The rest of the college, as best as I remember, seemed McInerney-ish in its pace and possessedness and, for lack of a better word, greed.

Which reminds me of A, who was forever knocking at the gates of our group. Not to enjoy being in it but to make it like the other ones. He was the kind of friend who added you on linkedin before facebook (while being active at both places, I must add). Eventually he trapped AK. Gullible little AK. Oh, dear, AK: he was one of those guys who walk holding hands, on roads, in busy markets, with another guy - without even being gays. Who are so innocent that it is weird. One day we were watching Dasvidaniya and AK started crying when the song "Mammaa" began. Ok, I shouldn't have been revealing that. Anyway, I'm cutting the names to mere initials now.

Anyhow, AK certainly belonged in our group. By now you must be thinking that our group wasn't all that great a place to be in anyway. And it doesn't bother me if you're thinking that.

The thing is I joined a new job recently. And dearest AK only got to find out about it through A! It was really embarrassing.

Film Review: Black Swan

Screenwriter Andres Heinz smoked up and wrote a story. He presented it to a drunk Darren Aronofsky who selected it for his next movie. Now Darren smoked up and made the movie. It would all have turned out perfect, but I hadn't smoked up before going to see it.

Friday, February 25, 2011


His head buzzed and throbbed as if it were his heart, pumping blood. The clatter of hammers outside the window didn't much help. He thought of love in the sunlight that the same window passed to him. This is right after he woke up. Right after. Everything seemed to fade off into the distance. The sky turned lighter, went farther. And the buildings, they too all receded until they were little exhibitionist models of themselves, far into the distance, content with their new-found insignificance. The Sun still as big, or bigger, and its rays, red hot, fell on his face. He sat facing the Sun but closing his eyes. The clatter's still there, the head still abuzz like a radio tuned to the wrong frequency..

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

About Me

Dear reader,

I am 32, from New Delhi, India, and work as a quantitative analyst at an investment firm in New York City. My posts are a better indicator than anything I cook up about myself in an "about me" section, so let me just say, I'm doing well, how are you?

This blog is a bit of a chaotic collection of my thoughts on various topics over the years, plus a whole lot of personal musings, in addition to half-baked attempts at fiction and poetry. The blog lacks an underlying theme or lasting purpose, other than to avoid ceasing to exist.

If I can help you in any way, or if you'd just like to get in touch, you can reach me through a comment on any of the myriad posts on this blog, which enables me to get an email alert.

Thank you,
he whose blog it is.

*Last edit: March 10, 2018

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yellow Page Tampered With

Dated 13th February 2004


I kept looking at you in the class today. Avanti was giggling the whole time elbowing you, but you - you think one sermonizing word you miss from the mouth of the Pope (that, face it, is what he is to you) and your board examsheets will get swapped with Raza’s. Oops. How would that be for Raza*!

Now don’t go and tell AKG, like your friend Sudhamini did with Birdie. Poor guy had only got wind chimes. Plus you know what, you guys don’t know that his Dad’s a PoW and his Mom’s not being granted compensatory employment by your revered Air Force. Ok, sorry, but this sucks. Although he sucks too. His mom’s sewing clothes now - and my sources are trusted: those who’re getting their clothes sewn! – and he’s spending the bloody money on wind chimes and a new suit for farewell. Plus for whom – Sudhamini! If I were Tony Greig I’d be saying Ooh La la, but of course I am not, plus of course you don’t know who Tony Greig is. No matter, I like you despite that*. But don’t you complain to AKG, I’m telling you.

I’ve heard your Dad’s been made an Air Commodore. Wow and kudos and ahaan big shot and congrats and all that but you know that I’m not writing to you to discuss your Dad’s wonders (except you). Just felt like giving the e-lovemail a wheedletouch. Ok, now. Don’t be angry. Just email. Your Dad rocks. Ok now don’t be angry. But it would be nice if he could get Birdie’s mom to be a sub JW ranked typist or something. I know he can.

But what the heck. This sounds like an e-lovemail to Birdie’s mom, not you. I really like you – all the crap that Sudeep and co gave you about me is shit and they’ll eat shit for being like this. I really do like you. I can’t get you what the primary whacko did, not for now, but I can - on a postdated cheque. But hey, a whack is a whack no matter how superficially special he might succeed in making you feel because his Dad has money, which, if chromosome inheritance is anything to go by, his dad must also have made by dubious, unintelligent ways – after all that’s where little whack gets his tomato-soft brain from.

You’re cute. I’m not uncute. Date me. We’d even go to see Main Hoon Naa if you want.

Your best prospect*,

*Not mean. Just kidding.

Observation 0588

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Only beauty, mind you. Ugliness is actually there.

Friday, February 18, 2011



I seated myself, late to work, in the cab
One rascal trickled down my cheek
The driver noticed


آج آباد شہر غور رہا تھا مجھکو
کوئی اتلاف نہ ہونے کی کسم مانگ رہا
مہینے خود کو پاکد کے رکھا تھا
Aaj aabaad shahar ghoor raha tha mujhko;
Koi itlaaf na hone ki kasam maang raha;
Maine khud ko pakad ke rakha tha.

यह ह्रदय है वास्तव में बुलबुल जल का
इसके भी व्याकुल अंतर का स्पर्श नहीं संभव
पर इसको खंडित, आज्ञा है, कर लो निःसंकोच
Yah hriday hai vaastav mein bulbula jal ka:
iske bhi vyakul antar ka sparsh nahi sambhav.
Par isko khandit, aagya hai, kar lo nihsankoch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I sometimes write a rhyme with pen on paper,
then type it on this phone that you claim yours.
I stare at "SEND" in haze and feel zest vapour,
thinking that these lines don't have the force
that is possessed by my unmoving, almost absent-minded gaze
out of the window, seeking your face in skyscrapery maze.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"The top 1% of households accounted for only 8.9% of the income in 1976, but this share grew to 23.5% of the total income generated by the United States in 2007."*

You would say that's quite a shift, but still not mind boggling. But what when you look at it this way:

"Put differently, of every dollar of real income growth that was generated between 1976 and 2007, 58 cents went to the top 1% of the households."*

If that isn't mind boggling, the author of this blog certainly doesn't know what is.

And herein lies an intellectosocial question to the John Galts** and Alan Greenspans*** of the world. It is no CIA secret that Mrs. Alissa, through her model John Galt, almost came to the conclusion (or a proposal?) that the bottom inhabitants of the economic pyramid feed like parasites off the talents and enterprise of the top inhabitants. Although I have long doubted that she was a great possesor of humanity, I have no doubts whatsoever that she possesed mental faculties of considerable might. Which brings me to my question. Now did they, people well endowed with IQ that they were, did they really think the bottom 99% chunk was so utterly dismally unproductive that it could be responsible for (or be adjudged responsible for) only 42% of hard growth while the 1% of Galts accounted for 58% in the capitalist system that followed Alissa's vision almost to the T. I'm not questioning their conclusion****, I'm merely asking really? To this extent?

*from 'Fault Lines', Raghuram G. Rajan, published by Collins Business, 2010.
**Read Alissa Rosenbaums, since John Galts are only their theoretical models.
***who led us through the great utopian-while-it-lasted, dystopian-once-it-didn't capitalist extravaganza, taking (more than) a leaf from the John Galts, and broadcasting openly their megafanhood to Alissa Rosenbaum.
****which I don't believe in anyway, and won't after four million liters of alcohol down my throat.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First Morning in Bombay

3rd February 2010

It’s 6:46 by my watch. I found myself up at 5 today, even though I’d slept as late as nearly 1:30. I don’t know why, maybe I’m just nervous sharing the bed with a stranger. A male stranger, to be specific.

It’s seven now. In the fourteen minutes since 6:46 the sky has cleared from the grey of old, worn roads to the white of white shirts washed with Robin Blue. I couldn’t help watching the magic unfold from the window. By the way, he’s still asleep, my male bed-partner.

He looks like someone who worked hard at the gym, got good muscles and physique and everything and then gave the whole ordeal up to find that then the body took back on him all it’s vengeance of the years gone by when he tortured it. Sure you know what I’m talking about, haven’t you seen how bigtime gymmers all grow somewhat round in that peculiarly clumsy, unshapely way after they give up gymming? It’s just that kind of a thing with him. But why am I talking about him.

It’s my first day at work today. First day at work at this place I mean. Bombay. Crisil. Dad’s really happy with this job. Once thing he’s really happy about apart from it being a good company is that it’s an Indian company, he’s by design wary of MNCs and foreign companies. It’s the first day. I hope it is as good as it has been in my dreams.

Bombay’s beautiful but Delhi’s more beautiful. You’d never appreciate it if you always lived in Delhi, but Delhi has orderly, wide roads that cut each other at right angles. It has symmetry. Who was it who called symmetry the basis of all beauty? He had something there. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that symmetry is beauty, but I will say at least that symmetry is beautiful. But for all the breadth and beauty of Delhi, it, I must admit, lacks the vada pao.

Enough of peripheral claptrap. I miss my family. No, I’m not missing the rest just as yet but I’m sure as hell I will.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Making Tea

There was nothing to do today, just as there was nothing to do yesterday and the day before and the day before day before and so on ad infinitum. As he woke up the images of last night were still fresh in his head, of how he had spent the night changing channels on television: the exact perilous slant at which he held the remote control hanging loose from his fingers in a way you would think he somewhere inside wanted it to fall off and be damaged so he could not use it anymore and would have to explore other options for killing time than watching dumb chat shows on night television. What’s wrong with that, though, he repeatedly asked himself without opening his mouth; for someone who knows his great* education is done and being a parents’ kid time is done and employment is elusive and underemployment is offensive and, as a consequence, money is scant and girls are wary and friendships expensive, television can at least always be given a positive spin as informative and geekily fun and diverse while having one of those justifying, self-exonerating, vote-of-confidence seeking conversations, which thankfully** didn’t even take place all that often now. Every two minutes last night he would look back from the television to the housefly sitting on an arm of his sofa to see if it was still there eavesdropping on his pathetic boredom. It was always still there. He did not wave it away as he’d convinced himself that the very act of its eavesdropping on his boredom is meant to tone down his boredom, employing that same sad theory he used to give meaning to every random thing as something put in the precise place it’s put in and not the trillions others so that something terribly meaningful could happen according to God’s design. But he didn’t know if God was there or not, so the whole thing was a little messed up in his head. Like all the other things. Now when he’d woken up in this same place next morning, alone and workless and without something bad-ass to look forward to, he did once if truth be told consider switching on the television again for hope something tailor-made for his tastes*** would be playing on one of the four hundred fifty plus channels that his subscription made available to him, the subscriptions placard momentarily whizzing past his eyes with the letters Bring Life Home written in big bold bright red in the centre and two suggestively clothed, big breasted, all thighs and calves girls on both sides of the caption. But since last night’s dismal performance of the four fifty channels combined had totally turned him off, he instead walked into the kitchen to spend some time. He made himself a cup of tea; he did not particularly want to have tea but then it**** was something that as a child he saw his elders did every day and had made a mental note to himself to remember in his adulthood as a most noble convention: it always kept the atmosphere at home pleasant. For a while at least.

**Or not?
***Although if you asked him to describe what it was that constituted his taste, he would have had a very hard time.
****i.e. Making Tea.