Wednesday, December 31, 2008


This then is the last post in the first year of my blogging career. As always, it’s largely fictional yet says something that I would want to say, but for my poor articulation. Its been kept short and to the point. Readers of this blog are very few in number, but here’s wishing each of you a good year ahead. Let us all be better individuals, and let the world be a better place to live in.

Somewhere inside the ghettos of Calcutta, a broken lane filled with the stench and garbage of the city was home to a man and two street dogs. He had been there for many years, waking up everyday with the hope of seeing a new expression on the dogs’ faces. Perhaps the only real change to look forward to. The lane was filled with muck - his own, the dog’s and some street children’s. He had a dual-purpose bowl with him. Sometimes he’d go over to the nearest lunch canteen to pick up some rice and curry, perhaps the leftovers for the day. Other times he dipped the bowl in the nearby lake to wash it, then dry it by wiping it on his singular piece of body cloth and sit on the sidewalk hoping to fill it up with a few coins, at the pity of some of the more big hearted passer-bys. Tonight he noticed something different in the air. He was closer to the elements than most human beings, sometimes the elements being his only friends. The elements told him that tonight was different. Some firecrackers were set off in other parts of the city, and he could hear them. Some people were possibly celebrating. But for what?

He looked at the black dog. Nothing new about his expression. But everytime a cracker went off, the dog ran for cover. Very typical with dogs. And human beings like him. There were no passer-bys tonight, so he couldn’t really make sense of the time. Perhaps it would be wise to sleep the night off. But he was hungry, and he wanted to grab something to eat before calling it a night. But where else would he get food except inside the garbage bin. Some people threw unfinished bananas inside garbage bins. That was lunch for him when the canteen chose not to offer food.

Suddenly the dark skies lit up with fireworks. A majestic sight really. He was not so fortunate so see such things very often. But here he saw tails of light dancing in the skies, forming patterns like a kaleidoscope. Sometimes they’d make the shape of a star, sometimes they’d merge into a triangle. Sometimes they’d dance in circles, and circles would overlap and subsequently merge into bigger circles. The circus of the fire, he thought. They’d reach the highest point and do their little jig before falling back slowly to earth. In slow motion, nearly.

He wanted to jump in joy. He thanked God for this wonderful spectacle, this lovely gift for a pair of eyes that had seen very little of this kind.

Everywhere else in the city, the fireworks in the sky was accompanied by new years greetings, hugs, kisses and resolutions.

So to that friend of mine who wanted to jump like a child at the fire display – Happy New Year. Everyone deserves it, and so do you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Boyfriend – Girlfriend

“Will you be my girlfriend?”

She smiled.

“So we’re gonna be boyfriend girlfriend?”

“Yes. Forever.”

He was lost for words. She was officially his girlfriend. He would go back to school and tell his friends that he had a girlfriend. No more loose talks. This was going to be so serious. It didn’t matter to him that he was only in ninth grade, what mattered was that now nothing would stop him from marrying her. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, for the first time in his life, he made a mark on his calendar. He’d known her for only a week, but now he was preparing himself to know her for the rest of his life. He ran through his wallet. Two ten rupee notes. A good plan would be ask Ma for ten rupees for a small Pepsi and a cricket ball, and actually keep that in the wallet also. That would make it thirty. Another twenty bucks from his sister. With fifty expensive rupees in his pocket, he would be able to buy her a nice “I Love You” card from Archies Gallery (fifteen rupees) gift wrapped carefully, ribboned with a Dairy Milk chocolate (another ten rupees) and a Bollywood audio cassette (twenty five there). For a second he encouraged a silly thought of being gifted on Valentine’s Day. But then again, he jerked off the thought – after all, he was the guy, gifting was his business.

Sunday morning, he woke up with romantic aspirations. Today was going to be his first date, with the woman who he thought he was going to get married to. He had seen plenty of movies on broken relationships, and his recent inquest of Sidney Sheldon books had also made him cognizant of physical relationships that couldn’t survive the test of emotions. But no, his girl was a one of her kind. And he would show the world how to oil the machine as far as long-term relationships were concerned.

He picked up the phone. Dialed her landline number. He prayed to hear her voice on the other side of the call.

“Hello”, answered a husky male voice.

Click. He hung up. Somewhere hoped that she got the hint. He imagined the voice reverberating a few hellos and then hanging up in despair “Aajkal barite khub beshi blank call aasha shuru hoyeche.” But the voice wouldn’t know that they were boyfriend girlfriend. No, not now. This had to be a well-kept secret.

He rushed into the bathroom. Forgot his towel, so came back running into the room. The phone was ringing. His mom answered the call, but kept saying hello for a minute or two before hanging up. He got the signal.

He looked into the mirror of his bathroom. Checked his teeth. Today was probably a good day to oil his hair and then shampoo it. He hated his semi grown facial hair, and he wasn’t getting an opportunity to shave just yet. Ma-Baba had asked him to wait till his ICSE. Another year and a half. Long time. He took a long shower and cleaned himself well. Probably applied more soap on his body than he had applied in the entire week. His hair glowed because of the oil, and was fluffy because of the shampoo. He thought it would be nice to middle part his hair, just like John. John was very popular with the girls. Very poor in studies but everybody in school thought John looked very good, which is why he was always seen on Sports Day with some neighborhood schoolgirl. He made a middle parting and came out of the washroom.

“Kothai jaacho? Ishhh…chool tar ki obostha korecho. Puro joker laagche.” {Where are you going? Look at your hair, you look like a joker}

“Sujay er baari te. Cricket khelte.” {Going over to Sujay's place to play cricket}

He rushed to phone and called up Sujay. Made the instructions very clear. DO NOT CALL UP AT MY PLACE FOR THE NEXT 2 HOURS. Then boasted about his date. Sujay was more excited than him. He congratulated him, and asked him how many people in school were permitted to know about this recent development. They together decided it best to keep to their group for the time being, and then maybe later talk about it outside. That sounded good. Maybe after a few days he would atleast tell some of his classmates that he had a girlfriend. He decided he wouldn’t call it an ‘affair’. That would make things sound corny. He didn’t want that – he wanted to preserve the sanctity of a relationship that was definitely going the distance. He checked his wardrobe for ‘cool’ t-shirts. Denims were the in-thing. He wore a light blue denim shirt and dark blue jeans. The t-shirt hung out. Gave the impression that he was cool and Gen X.

Before leaving for his first date, he finished the last chore that needed to be completed to ensure safety. He told his sister that he was going out to meet the girl who would eventually become her ‘boudi’. Just don’t tell ma anything about it ok?, he said. And ya, don’t call up at Rahul’s place either. If ma is getting worried, just tell her that you’ve just spoken to me and I have confirmed that I am on my way back home.

He ran down and entered his car. Gave the driver clear instructions. Come back and confirm to ma baba that you dropped me at Sujay’s place. The three people he trusted the most – Sujay, his sister and his driver. Three people who’d be able to say on the day of the marriage that they knew it all along. Wow…that felt good.

The wheels began to turn. The rest, they say is history.

Lets have a look back at history. Yes, the date happened. He considered holding her hand once, but the possibility of a known person catching them on the same road scared him off. Valentine’s Day happened. He gave her his fifty-rupee gift. She didn’t give him anything. She was his greatest gift, he had reconciled on the day. In course of time, phone calls also happened. Without signals. They figured out a solution. A three ring missed call meant that he would call her back in five minutes. Archies online happened. He loved designing e-cards for her and writing messages for her, and then mailing her the cards. People in school got to know about the ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ thing. They thought highly of him. He told some of his cousins about her, and he planned a meeting for all of them to see her. One more thing happened in the course of the next six months – he dedicated a Backstreet Boys song for her on the dial in show on radio. And recorded it also. Just in case she missed it.

Those were the days. He broke up with her in about a year’s time. Grew up slowly. Did well in his board exams. Returned twenty bucks to his sister after getting money on his birthday. Prepared for IIT and then studied engineering somewhere else. Lost touch with Sujay. Met plenty of women in his life. Dated some. No V-Days, no e-cards, no radio shows. No keeping secrets. No fear of landlines (mobile phones ruled the roost). No marriage discussions. Just regular grown up relationships. The mature ones, you know. Practical, wise and clever. Always open to the idea of moving on.

Do you miss those days if you think this one was about you?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pain - Ultimate

“ This romeo is bleeding
But you can't see his blood
It's nothing but some feelings
That this old dog kicked up
It's been raining since you left me
Now I'm drowning in the flood
You see I've always been a fighter
But without you I give up "

He was getting nervous. Very nervous.

Dressed in his traditional wedding attire, he sat trembling on one side of the flower laden bed. The bride was in red, colourful ‘mehendi’ garnishing her soft hands and head hiding quietly inside the head scarf carefully grafted out of her red sari. He could steal a few glances at her nubile body, and it clearly appeared as though she allowed him those minor thefts. There was still some distance between the two, and the inevitable union of man and woman would bridge that sooner than later.

He was doing well for himself, for the most part at least. He kept pace with the unbearable rat race, and yes, he knew that he was also en route to becoming a rat. His investments were made in the right places, and his resume was on the desks of the biggest companies across the globe. Some responded with statements like “You’re profile is very good, but unfortunately we don’t have a vacancy for the kind of position that will suit you best.” But he did not stop running, nor did he wish to. He was planning to finish the race, with best intentions of winning.

But all that did not stop him from feeling nervous about the moment. Growing up, he had heard colloquial jokes, anecdotes and legacies about the ‘first night.’ Tonight it seemed that he had crossed the proverbial bridge, and was on the other side of the river. Yet, despite all that, something inside of him had died even before he reached this point.

Sometime during his years in the University of Life, he fell in love, or so he thought. His love for the maiden didn’t elude him for as long as his memory served him right. In other words, he was thinking all along about his childhood sweetheart while accepting gifts, flowers and envelopes with one rupee coins on the outside and crispy notes inside.

The woman in red took a miniscule step towards him. He also noticed that she was showing him more of her naked skin, as well as her cleavage. Did she expect him to move closer to her, hold her hand, kiss her softly on her cheeks and stroke her hair? Myriad thoughts clogged his head, and he decided it was best to stay put. He didn’t move an inch.

“You’re happy, aren’t you?”

That caught him unawares. It seemed difficult for him to travel metaphysically through two different worlds. He wasn’t thinking of the real answer to her question. He thought of how he could quell her doubts without giving a good answer to her question. Happiness, after all, is a very vague and subjective term.

He smiled. A smile would always work as the best rhetoric in moments like this. He would be happy to talk to her about his life in general, his life outside this bed. On the up side, he did not feel too uncomfortable with the thought of holding her hand. But surely, he did not want to get naked, or see her naked, or make love to her.

She moved out of the bed, and walked around it, coming closer to him. She took steps that could be called feminine, with the sound of her anklets causing mounting tension in the room. He noticed that she had not made any efforts to get her sari back in position; in fact he could easily see a lot of her skin as she walked towards him. Wearing a mischievous smile on her face, she calmly came and sat beside him and held his hand. She moved her body closer to his, and he could feel her breasts nudge his firm chest.

“Bolo mujhe, tum khush ho na”

“Yes, of course I am.”

She wrapped her arms around him, and moved her neck closer to his lips. He wanted to bite her on her neck, but that was purely a sexually enticing moment for him. The nervousness had not escaped his body, and his non perusal on matters of sex didn’t allow him to make the move she wanted him to make. She waited for a minute or two, but his senility made her try a little harder. No Indian woman fancies making the first move, but she wanted to free herself from the shackles of an unwanted virginity. She had waited for the right man, the right moment. She took his hand and placed it on her soft breasts, helping him caress them gently. He withdrew, obnoxiously.

She started to unbutton her blouse slowly, but he placed his hand firmly on hers, and said “It’s getting late, I think we should sleep.”

She felt a stab right through her heart. She smiled, but felt a tear in the corner of her eye. She had heard that he was a fun loving, energetic person-who had lived his life along the lines of Kurt Cobain’s “Its better to burn out than fade away.”

“ Now I can't sing a love song
Like the way it's meant to be
Well, I guess I'm not that good anymore
But baby, that's just me "

[The references in this piece are from Always-Bon Jovi]

Oh Calcutta

I think it’s fair to say that we don’t put weekends into context till we have reached that stage in our life where we have to ‘earn our daily bread.’ When the final touches of my week long work are administered on Thursdays, I feel like I am emancipating my mind and body from what we often hear of as ‘stress’. What ensues over the next 48 or so hours is typically my definition of a ‘weekend life.’

It is on weekends that I get my time out from the frenzy of private limiteds and get to absorb the cosmopolitan world around me. Dubai – the big daddy of the world’s riches, the home of the world’s tallest towers and the parliament of the world’s Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I don’t get myself through a weekend without a can of Heineken or my favourite Jack and Coke. I seem to love strolling around with empty shopping carts in the biggest and the wondrous malls of the world. In the night time, we hop into convoys of Hondas and Mercedes to arrive at the busiest nightclubs of Dubai. Thumping beats from the latest Bose surround sound speakers get our feet tapping right up to the wee hours of the morning. That’s Dubai, and my weekend life in the city.
Question is, how the hell did I get myself here.

The story begins in a city that Dominic Lapierre once called the city of Joy. Growing up in the noisy and smoke filled Dhakuria, by the bridge side, I lived and breathed Kolkata city for all the 22 years of my life I lived there. Hopping off the school bus meant that I had to run the fastest sprint of my life to get back home, slip into my sporting gear and head back out on to the streets to play ‘gully cricket’ with my ‘para friends’. Each of them were called by funny pet names, like Bhombol and Motku (yes, you’ve heard these before). These guys were our best friends outside school, and played cricket with us right up to the time one of them tasted his first Navy Cut cigarette of his life. That would imply that he was now a ‘dada’ and had other things to prioritise on.

Sometimes cricket sessions would get the better of us, and we would be devoid of any physical energy after the end of a game between 2 bitter ‘para’ rivals. This would be the best time to hop onto Motku’s cycle and hitch a ride up to Rabindra Sarabar Lake, where ‘Shonkorda’ sold one rupee Pepsi sticks. Ma never approved of ‘Pepsi’ as she felt that they mixed chemicals and colour to produce that taste. However, few things were available for 50 paise, and at my pocket money, ‘Pepsi’ was probably the only thing I could afford. Motku would offer us a nice ride back home, and it would be time for homework with Ma’s glaring stares welcoming me in.

Greener pastures were found in Park Street, figuratively speaking. The Connought Place and Piccadilly Circus of Kolkata is home to the best Chinese restaurants and roll shops of the city. Music World on Park Street was the most incredible thing I had seen in my high school days. The very thought of an air conditioned music shop with juke boxes in it was overwhelming for a music junkie. Park Street, as a matter of fact, was also home to schools that treated each other as arch-rivals, but at the same time, churned out brilliant students year after year. There were days when I walked down Park Street in my Xaverian uniform and exchanged silent nasty glares with Martinians in their yellow and blue ties. Park Street!

As years went by, Park Street became the same road that had Park Hotel on it, and Park Hotel of course had Someplace Else in it. Someplace Else represented a shelter for me, a shelter where like minded souls gathered. Where mundane dwellings and silent nights traded places for clouds of smoke, pitchers of beer and Nondon Bagchi singing Wonderful Tonight with Hip Pocket. Park Street stayed on in my life like a story unfinished, while the rest of the action shifted towards College Street.

In the 3 years that elapsed between 2002 and 2005, I found myself spending a considerable amount of time in College Street. I doubt if I will ever be as possessed with the legacy of a street as I was with College Street. No Music World, no Someplace Else, but College Street introduced me to a world of organised protests, coffee houses and book shops. It showed me tram lines, bus number 240 and small food shops with names like Putinam. You can earn in dollars or dirham, but nothing quite compares to the four rupee snack at Putiram. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re smiling now.

Truly, there was simplicity in the way we lived our lives then. Putiram is long gone; I look for value meals in McDonalds. Music World seems insignificant in front of Virgin Music Store. The Lakes don’t seem to provide the same atmosphere that the Cornice in Dubai does. Someplace Else looks very small in front of the Buddha Bars and the Ministry of Sounds of the world. The one rupee Pepsi sticks have now been replaced by Heineken cans worth five bucks each. And yes, no Motku will drop me home in his cycle-far from it, we’re talking of the Chevys and Hondas and the Nissans here.

I’m having sex with life here. But as the saying goes, no one forgets his first kiss. I love you, Kolkata and I always will.


Oh Juno, what did you do, and honestly why?
She fell in love with another guy,
Footsteps in the sand got washed with the tides,
Destiny said Romeo must die,
And I dreamt of a night in silver leaves and moon,
With wedding bells and the singing chores,
But all I got in the month of June.
Were some get-well soons, and I-don’t-love-you-anymore’s.

Oh Juno, what did you do, d’you think its right?
You kissed me dead with roses white
The golden letters that carved our names,
Rusted with time, through day and night,
And I dreamt of days with children in arms,
Little toys watching them grow,
But all I got in the month of June,Were some get-well soons, and I-don’t-love-you-anymore’s.

The Monalisa Lover

It was snowing outside. It had been for the last seven days.

There was a faint smile on his face as he walked through the snow to enter the New England Coffee Shop right opposite the St. James Park, Newcastle. The café was decorated with jerseys and posters of the Newcastle Football Club hero Alan Shearer, and Ka made a short registration of that. He was glad to have spent good money on his gloves, for the winter for slowly getting the better of him. He wasn’t one for coffee, and neither was the person he was eagerly waiting to meet.

The PA system inside the café was playing an old Elton John song that was written for New York City. He heard in the background the words that were written by Elton’s main man, Bernie Taupin – “And I thank the lord theres people out there like you, I thank the lord there’s people out there like you”…Ka had loved this song since his freshman year in college. He used to call his girl-friend MonaLisa at the time, and yes he was the mad hatter that Bernie and Elton wrote about in the song.

A few words about our man, Ka. His name is not Ka. His name is Shloka, and his friends in London found it impossibly difficult to pronounce that, and so his dorm name, so to speak, became Ka. His mother gave him the name after being profoundly impacted by the character in the book, The Last Son of Dusk, a book she read during her masters. Ka secured good grades in India, and like most good Indian students who came from affluent families, he flew West for his higher studies in Political Sciences. After spending 5 years in London, Ka moved to political journalism, and that was what brought him to Newcastle for the weekend.

The words of the song in the background trickled into Ka through his ears. The snow wasn’t going to let go, and Ka began to worry of being disappointed. But while the music was on, Ka felt like a romantic hero from an Elton John pop song of the seventies, who had set off to meet the woman who had been haunting his dreams for years. But Ka had not always been haunted by Nandini, even though in his mind was the vision of a woman very much like her. It was only upon chance that Ka found out that Nandini was in Newcastle, and that’s when he seriously began to think of her again. Today he sat clad in a warm brown leather jacket and expensive gloves, keen to stoke his feelings with music and romanticism.

Nandini entered the café in, what seemed from a distance, an expensive winter dress she might have picked up from Times Square. Elegantly, she came and pulled up a chair opposite Ka and made herself comfortable. There was half a smile on her lips, but that went unnoticed.

As soon as he looked at her, all thoughts of music and romanticism vanished into thin air. For Nandini looked even more beautiful now than she did during their university days. Her well chiselled out face, with fair skin, long eyes and deep colour on her lips seemed to nearly unsettle Ka. With studied composure, Ka smiled at Nandini, as though to welcome her, though the two of them always spoke in ways that did not necessarily involve much sound and noise.

“On my way here, I noticed a lot of fans gathering up for the soccer game. And cameras. You don’t follow soccer anymore?”, she said, hoping to break the awkward silence.

They quickly gathered composure and began talking of various things. Nandini was always good with men’s topics, like football, alcohol or politics. That probably what Ka liked most about his friend. Since the time he used to meet her in his jumper shorts in the wee hours of the morning, only to sort out the misunderstandings of the previous night, to this day, where both were clearly dressed for an occasion- Ka knew that they had not lost the connect. Despite that, it took some effort for them to maintain conversation, though both applied themselves to the task with admirable effort. At least they could both discuss the snow with ease. After that came Ka’s confession- that he had not been able to quit smoking. Nandini had some things to say on that, but she felt her words were best kept for another time, another moment. India. Relatives. Marriage. Salaries. Conflicts. Old friends. Their weddings. Facebook. Elton John. Bob Dylan. And so it went.

The snow kept coming down listlessly. The two repeated their first order to find themselves with fresh servings of Turkish Coffee. Ka asked for the ash-tray, but Nandini told the waiter that it wasn’t required. She looked at Ka and smiled. Ka smiled back. No words were required here.

Ka put on his dark glasses, despite the lack of sunshine. He wanted to admire Nandini today. As she spoke endlessly about the men who came and went from her life, Ka couldn’t but notice her innocent beauty. He felt as much in love with her as he was during university days. Only then, he had to face the bitterness of a defeat to his fellow batchmate who had proposed to Nandini then. Maybe it was his obsession with silence that snatched away his hopes of being Nandini’s forever. Maybe it was his crooked analysis about simple matters that took Nandini away from him, into the arms of another. Yes, he remained her friend, her best friend, but he had to live in the shadows of a great defeat for the most part of his life in England. Today, Nandini was no longer with anyone, and Ka had finished a packet of cigarettes trying to muster the courage to call her and make his intentions clear. He was running against time, he knew he had none. He was not afraid of making a fool of himself, so, in his delight to have Nandini as his audience, he quickly revised the words he had in his mind.

Suddenly the topic changed. Nandini remembered something about Ka that he himself had forgotten. His guitar.

“I’ve quit Nandini. I wrote a few songs in between, but couldn’t find time to put tunes to them. Ya, so I quit.”

Nandini looked at him like she knew this is what would come from him. The utter lack of discipline always kept Ka two levels below his deserved place in Nandini’s heart. As much as she wanted to deny it, she was beginning to sense the foundations in the theory of women being more mature than men, at the same age. Why couldn’t Ka ever realise that it was the little things about him that would make the difference? Little things, like having the courage to kiss her, having the strength to tell her about his feelings, having the drive to do something about his talents, his music, his poems? Having the sense to take care of his health, quit smoking? Sometimes Ka give the impression of not caring enough. And that’s what had always stopped Nandini from taking that extra step.

But somewhere she loved him still. Even if the chap was a fool, well, mostly.

ShloKa took off his dark glasses. Nandini noticed his eyes had swelled, even though partly. Outside the thick flakes of snow kept coming down.

‘While mona lisas and mad hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky But they cant and that is why
They know not if its dark outside or light.’

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Search For the Truth with Paul Simon

1. Yes I would, if I could

2. Shades of Mediocrity, Emptiness in harmony

3. If I never loved, I never would’ve cried

4. I touch no one and no one touches me

5. The song I was writing is left undone

6. Be careful, his bowtie is really a camera

7. Words of the Prophet

8. A Poem Poorly Written

9. The Only Truth I know is You

Yes I would, if I could

[El Condor Pasa]

“I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail, yes I would, if I could, I surely would.”

My fingers dab furiously at the piano. The resounding noise makes me feel as though I’m getting there. I share a silent moment with Yoko Ono – I’m sure she doesn’t know me – as I roll into rhythm for a nice progression of chords. Imagine. Surely enough, I don’t have round glasses on my eyes, and nobody calls me John. Someone pops up – “ What is the price of this, my friend?” I get back to work. I explain to him why Yamaha is a better choice than Casio. So that’s precisely what my education has added up to. Why Yamaha is better than Casio. The same education will probably compel me to say someday that Casio is superior to Yamaha. I can say whatever I want to. No fucking person to check. If I don’t say – they don’t pay. If they don’t pay I don’t eat. And that wouldn’t justify my old man’s expenses on my education. It was always about food for the body, not for the freakin’ mind.

What if I had no education? What if I couldn’t tell the difference between force and thrust? What if I didn’t learn those trigonometric formulae by heart? What if I didn’t come across 4 Ps of marketing, or some crap like that. I would pick up a guitar a sing on the road right? Yeah, forget the Burger Kings and the Fried Chicken, I would have to learn to live on a two pence meal. Or maybe if lady fortune smiled on me, some people might have named me John. Imagine.

Either ways, I’d be smiling now, and would have no business penning down this trash.

Shades of Mediocrity, Emptiness in harmony

[Homeward Bound]

Avi collects his papers together and hands them over to me.

“Ishan, we seem to be getting bigger every year in GITEX. Makes me feel good.”

“ What are we doing?”

“We’re giving out 2 Laptops every hour as a raffle gift”

“ But last year only we did the same damn thing, Avi!”

“ Yeah, but last year we gave away one laptop every hour, this year we’re giving out two!!”

“ Avi, is this where our creativity comes to a stop?”

“Dude, its Dubai…People like to win here. You know anyway what its like in this company right.”

“OK. Whatever”

2 years back we gave out one laptop every hour through a raffle during the biggest electronics exhibition in the Gulf. Last year we repeated the order. This year we asked for one dish more. It took 3 well-bred marketers- all MBAs, a whole year and a battery of meetings to come up with this plan. The sweat still lays well absorbed in office carpets. Papa doesn’t know – I’m glad for it. He would’ve demanded his money back. 6 lakhs on 3 certified degrees. An expensive education. He over paid. Probably. Definitely.

Jumbo announces the scheme to the market. We walk away with collars turned up, and I stare in dismay.

“We’re getting bigger every year.” Just like that.

No prizes for guessing what Jumbo’s doing next GITEX. I’ll give you a hint. The number 3.

If I never loved I never would’ve cried

[I Am A Rock]

I slept in a hotel that night. Slept alone, but well accompanied by myriad thoughts. Upstairs he was with his lover. I thought I was done with long phone conversations- but hell no, this one was perhaps the best long conversation Id ever really had. Brought me back to my school days where catching up on the phone with buddies you really spent your entire day with was considered chic. But this time, I didn’t discuss what was on TV, or why mamma didn’t let us stay back after school for the cricket team selection. Not about unit tests and parent teacher meetings. We discussed a life we hadn’t lived as yet – our future. The harmonies and the disharmonies. Our families. Their perceptions. Attitudes. Cousins. Meat. If I gave myself that one opportunity to be honest to myself –Id say this much – I just can’t get enough of talking to her. Not because she and I agree on everything. But because we see ourselves as two vast oceans in which we love to swim. Without tubes. And these oceans don’t have sharks in them. Just small ocean currents that help us flow.

Seeing her after so long, rediscovering her, and discovering myself in her eyes was wonderful. The same eyes, the same smile. Just some extra kilos here and there. And curly hair. Otherwise the same. Pretty much.

It was still dark when I was getting ready to catch my flight. Stopped over for a couple of minutes to hug her goodbye. The last four days changed the course of my life. And for once, it changed in the right direction. Felt a tear somewhere in the corner of my eye. I’ve always hated goodbyes, but this one I hated a little bit more.

I touch no one and no one touches me

[I Am A Rock]

My opinions – yes, they define me. Love me or hate me, you would know that I’m fucking opinionated. But not biased. And not narrow-minded. I just have ideas. You may not agree to them. But then again, I touch no one and no one touches me.

I think religion has done more harm than good. The Gods are laughing at our ridiculous acts of faith. We’re fucking killing people. Slaying them. Raping wives, killing children. Coz you and I have different Gods. Coz you and I pray in opposite directions. Coz you don’t eat the meat and I do and vice versa. I think pre-marital sex is perfectly acceptable. Are you telling me that my wedding is really a license to fuck? I think people who have been deprived of their physical pleasures dwell in that opinion. Making love is nothing less than an expression. Man and woman are biological creatures with organs developed in ways to please each other. Puberty is a biological stage that signals the preparation for sexual intercourse for the human body. So somebody tell me why ruining a man’s ambitions by cheating him in business is considered as ‘strategy’ and premarital sex as ‘immoral’? I think diamonds are as bad as cigarettes. But you wont agree to that because harming, and I repeat, harming ones own health is a good lot worse than killing a few thousands in Africa as a result of diamond-artillery trading. Yeah right. I think we live too much of our lives trying to please others rather than trying to please ourselves. I think Indians have issues with progress. I think I should practice politics rather than despise the men who do. I think you still haven’t gotten over the sense of glory you had about your grades in school. I think there’s some confusion between questioning and rebelling in some of the parents in this world.

So what I’m telling you is this. You can go out there and trade your two pence worth education for setting up your own business, build factories, hire children below fourteen, make them work over time and pay them enough to prefer death over this life, make profits, drive your Mercedes, pay that weekly visit to the nearby temple and pray to the Gods of wealth, come out of the temple and ignoring a dying child on the road, and glorify yourself by not eating beef because you’re a motherfuckin’ Brahmin. You can tell your children that they should not make friends with those with low grades in school, and not play cricket with street children, and not eventually fall in love with a Muslim girl. You can do what the fuck you want to do.

But I wont do it. And you cant do shit about it.

The song I was writing is left undone

[Kathy’s Song]

It’s time to move. Move on to newer challenges, new people and new processes. Time to look back on the last 6 months, and possibly look ahead to the next 6. What I’m leaving behind is a little love story that ended abruptly. Because some banks in America dished our loans without a sense of caution.

I still feel we should be closer to the customer than we are.

Be careful, his bowtie is really a camera


He was one of the six sons of a middle class bread earner. His father denied him new clothes on Eid and so he left home.

Many years later, he stood in front of the majestic building of Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. He diligently studied the exterior from top to bottom with supreme precision. It had to match up to everything that he had read about it – and all he had done for the last year or so was study this structure. Every little nook and cranny of it. He could paint a picture of the Taj left handed now. No, he wasn’t an architect. He was here to kill.

Now the inside. The maps were already with him, but nothing replaces on field experience, they say. He was well dressed, and as he walked past the entrance he received a salutation that made him chuckle under his breath. Quite impressed with the marvel that he experienced, he made a few quick rounds of the hotel, spoke to a few receptionist about the rates for an art exhibition he planned to conduct in the coming month and even got to get a word in to the manager about the same. He completed his routine with a nice 4 course meal at the Indian restaurant inside.

He came back a month later, as promised. This time in a boat. With AK 47s. And grenades and Molotov cocktails. And a few friends. To abuse the sovereignty of the great nation we know as India. To make a mockery of it. And to remind his Allah of the great shame that most of his tribe had put Him through.

As for me, I saw most of it on television. And built a few more bricks in the wall.

Words of the Prophet

[Sounds of Silence]

"...if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people...(The Noble Quran, 5:32)"

A poem poorly written

[The Dangling Conversation]

Mumbai -- One

One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three for letter, from girl to boy,
The words flow, and he loves her so.

One war-torn nation,
Fire stations,
Blood stains on our national guest room,
The words in the letter are yet fully read,
But now its his turn to be dead.
The bullet pierces him, and he slowly bled.

We're oneBut were not the sameWe've got to carry each other, carry each other.

One flew over the cockoo's nest,
To the mountains, where the skies are blue,
I want to be that bird, I need some rest.

The Only Truth I know is you

[Kathy’s Song]

We close the door. Silently. The children are sleeping.

No sooner the door is closed than we exchange an uncharacteristic naughty smile. Its been a long time, we both realize. You come closer to me and put your tiny hands around me. I dissolve into molecules. I kiss you very softly on the cheek and say “Wait, we should do this our style.”

I move towards the swanky DVD player and insert a disc. The volume is still low, and I dare to keep it that way, just in case the children wake up. We’ve both always loved Simon and Garfunkel, and so in this moment of romance, I play what Garfunkel once hailed as Simon’s greatest love song, Kathy’s song.

I return to you, into your arms. Your eyes are closed; I kiss you all over your face. In a strange yet rhythmic fashion, like you’d know where the next kiss was coming. There is a faint smile on your face, and it always turns me on to see you being pleasured by me. My hand is on your waist, and I feel the naked skin that’s been my bedmate for almost a decade now. I run my fingers over your stomach and tickle you for a short second. You immediately open your eyes.

“Naughty!” you say.


“ No! Me!!” You press your lips against mine. I can still taste strawberry there, I swear.

You make yourself comfortable in bed. In a way that asked for some more comfort. So I came closer to you, and kissed you all over your body. Your breasts. My best friends. It’s always great to know that some friendships are like wine, getting better with time. I could feel the goose bumps coming on your skin, and I was quite hard myself. Your hands clutched mine, and we made love. Like two colours blending in a palette. Like a shot of Jack Daniel on a glass of coke. We rolled on each other, like snails.

But then I said at the start that Id rather be a sparrow than a snail. Simon makes me move in circles. He makes me visit square zero again. In search of the truth. I’ve completed the circle. I’m back on zero. The truth was right here, all along. The only truth I know - you.

[ The author would like to express his apologies to anyone who's feelings have been hurt by some of the comments and sentiments this post]