Sunday, 19 September 2010



An increasing insurgency of commuters, lack of discipline, mob tendency, slackening administration and the chinks in DMRC’s armour is gradually more than visible. Now we find paan stains on the platforms, food morsels scattered at times inside the boggy, some of the older trains screeching to a halt whenever brakes applied and a cacophony of creeks and crunchy karaoke following the movement of the trains – a manifest of poor or slap shod maintenance and management.

Quite frequently the trains get delayed during peak office hours. The reason supplied – technical fault – an all embracing term which can mean anything…… actual technical snag, bomb threat, terrorist attack, though its obvious that the latter causes shall never get announced for the purpose of civil security and an effort not to create panic amongst the passengers. But we live in turbulent times and these thoughts always play at the back of one’s mind, especially after 26/11, whenever one is stranded in the underground/overhead metro station. It does with me and so it must be with others. One explanation of the mob behaviour!

No wonder then the stampede like situations which often transpire upon such delays. The crowd of well dressed men and women suddenly behaving like chaotic mob when a train arrives much after the scheduled time. On one such occasion, it seemed as though they were ready to hop on the roof of the train. The doors closed with great difficulty as more and more people tried to board in as though it was the last train on the face of this earth. Earlier on one or two occasions, DMRC personnel themselves came down to the platform to manage the restless crowd. Now, no more, though of course there are continuous announcements informing the cause of delay and assuring that trains will follow one after the other, earlier than scheduled, to make up for the lost time, which they do. But still the panic ridden crowd upholds indiscipline and disorder when it comes to such a situation. Once, one of the guards who was supposed to manage the crowd was pushed inside the train by the mob. God knows which station he ultimately got a chance to de-board the train!

One distinct disadvantage of the metro is that it is linear in route. There is no emergency line or parallel route that can be opted to reach destinations in exigency. Therefore, if you are stuck in a station or on the tracks (of course, no system can do anything about that!), you are stuck forever till the cause of disruption is remedied. In Kolkata there is circular rail and local trains. In Mumbai, again there is an exemplary system of local trains. But the capital is handicapped by the absence of any such alternatives. Hence, the panic…the stampede….the mob….the restlessness……..the annoyance………the impatience………the indiscipline…….the disorder…….the chaos………the confusion…..which alter the profile of an upbeat system in a jiffy.

After 26/11, fear ruled high, more so in the metro. It was customary for us to check under the seats and around if there was any disowned object or baggage lying unclaimed. On one such occasion, my feet got caught in a huge thick, cloth bag under the seat which felt odd to the touch as though full of heavy, metallic things with perhaps jagged ends. A few school and college going boys were standing around. I asked whether the bag belonged to any one of them. One boy retorted back with a mischievous grin, “Aunty, it’s my cricket kit and not a bomb.” I smiled.

For quite some time such dark humour prevailed. People mocked their own fears and insecurities and laughed aloud at such “bomb scare” jokes. These were not instances of just blithe humour or blissful ignorance but inklings of a more dangerous resignation wherein the common man had come to term with the transience of life and accepted quietly their limited role of being mere pawns in the high powered Machiavellian political game - role that of nameless martyrs fated to meet unexpected, untimely, violent ends whenever that be pounced on them unaware.



I feel I have lost those words
Which could be woven
Into a rhyme
& spill over thoughts
In ink on pages
With a few strokes
Curves, a dot

I have lost the nib,
The pen, the page,
The dot…………

I feel I have lost those dreams
Which could be woven
Into a song
Of sweet, sonorous lyrics
And hum
In leisure hours
Of melody and chime
When shadows softly
Spread their arms
Across the velvet
Of the meadow
And wrap the blue
Of the sky around
My being like
A misty, smoky shroud

I have lost the greens,
The heavenly blue
The smoke screen of the mist

I feel life is such a haste
To complete those must chores
Which take up time
Never to return
Leaving me bleak
In soul

I feel as though I have lost my soul
My lust for life
My zest, my zeal

Only tired steps are
Left behind
To trudge a long
Rugged terrain
A grey encompass
To follow along
A colourless, cloudless
Sky for a parasol

I feel as though I have lost my world
My sun-lit days
Moon-lit nights
My dreams
My smile
My tears
My fears
Of never again……….

Sometimes I feel I should
Not be here
With my chained soul,
Scattered dreams,
Empty voice,
Fickle moments,
Runaway thoughts…………..
Life’s morass
Lost pen,

Some days
I am just not me……….

One grey afternoon
Rummaging through an
Old, rusty closet
I found by chance
A few lost words
Unfinished sentences
And a tale incomplete

I folded them up neatly
And kept them aside

Some day I will
Pick them up
And weave them
Into a single thread
A garland of lost words
Unfinished lines
And a story half told
Some day I will
Complete the tale
Of my life
I am in no hurry though



I pray for every little thing. I say “thank you” to God for every small gift. I run to Him for every mundane wish. Diffidence or maturity?

As I shift from one milestone of my life to the other, I wonder whether this very introspection itself is maturity! This self analysis! This eternal quest! This every day every hour every minute question “Have I faced the situation or taken the decision with maturity?” And if this is how we gain maturity, then it is not to be attained one fine morning. The process is ongoing. Rather everlasting!Till the last breath of one’s life!!!

My residence in Kolkata was a twenty minute auto-ride to Dakshineshwar Temple. The Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. It is here that Thakur Ramakrishna Paramhansa worshiped Ma Kali as a child beguiles his mother. Being such a short distance away, we would frequently visit the Temple on Holidays and auspicious occasions. Often, while waiting in the queue for Darshan, I’d observe a bare-chested man in a soiled dhoti, loitering like a lunatic around the temple premise, shouting in a tearful voice “Maa will you not listen to your children? Will you not give a Darshan? What a stone hearted mother you are! Please give Darshan, Maa, please do!” A sun burnt, disheveled spectacle totally oblivious of time, reality, situation, surrounding! Such heartrending would be his plea that it would often bring tears to the eyes of the gathered crowd. Sometimes he would cajole the deity; at others he would be angry and restless. Nobody mocked or laughed at his soul stirring petition. Rather the devotees had the same query in their heart of heart which found voice in the old man’s uninhibited cries and submissions. I was told that he was a learned man who had taken to the path of renunciation. Months later, I found him in a more tranquil state. He would just sit in a hypnotic stance outside the erstwhile bedroom of the Paramhansa. At times, I would find one of his disciples reading out stanzas from holy books to him; some other time, somebody would be helping him to eat a frugal meal, like a nurse spoon feeding a child. While the immobile man would just be staring with vacant eyes at a point far beyond human vision!

My aunt would prostrate before him in reverence whispering me to follow her. On enquiry, she told me that there were various stages of spiritual upliftment. The earlier madness for experiencing the Divine has now transcended to an elevated level of sainthood; the devout has now become the apostle of God!

“Shivoham shivoham shivaswaroopoham adwaitamananda roopamaroopam…………..”

The thirst for maturity is insatiable. The quest goes on till we come to that point in life when we realize as humans how weak and incapable we are. Just a cog in the infinite gamut of the Universe! A miniscule dot in the cosmos! It is then that we bow down to the Eternal. The ultimate surrender! Or the penultimate maturity!

********************************************************* **************

It is difficult to draw a line to this discourse or put a full stop at random. I have yet to find a point in life where I can conceitedly claim that I have matured completely and there is nothing more to be gained or learnt. This is a subject of interminable discussion and unstoppable delving. Hence, the lengthy three part post. Though some may simply define maturity as intelligence gained on hindsight, alternately, one can go on fathoming the deeper and subtler nuances of the concept. I have opted for the latter and in doing so relied heavily on mundane, personal experiences and anecdotes which many may or may not subscribe to. But I strongly feel all human experiences are more or less threaded by common emotions and feelings, and hope my friends, who happen to read this post, will empathize with what I have tried to arrive at, if not unanimously agree, which is difficult to attain on complex themes like this.



I was a control freak. (I still am to a certain extent. Bad habits die hard.) I wanted to control everything around me including myself, my near and dear ones and my surroundings. If anything went beyond my control or premeditated plan, my equanimity dithered.

I was also the Atlas of the family taking on every responsibility on my shoulder whether bearable or not. Soon I was overloaded. I freaked. Being a compulsive worrier I worried about every little thing. All my thoughts generally started with “what if……” and in order to take care of all the “what ifs” I recoursed to proactive meddling. It is meddling because I go against life’s own course and scheme of things when I want to settle them my own way.

Soon I found, organizing life is a fruitless exercise. There is a streak of disorderliness inherent in Nature which takes over at intervals to topsy-turvy our world till orderliness again sets in by itself, after sometime. As I came to understand Nature’s cyclic order, I started valuing delegation and the principle of “let go”. I am happier now.
Moral of the Story: I have matured. I appreciate and surrender to Nature, discover every minute that source of happiness and peace is somewhere beyond my realm of control and in order to achieve that I have given up on clinging and controlling.

I am a born pessimist and negativity is contagious. It affects one’s surroundings like a disease. Mine did too till one day my sister thrust a book in my hand and told me to make it my bible. And wow my outlook changed perceptibly!

Moral of the Story: The source of maturity can be anything, from a lisping child to a book, if you are an enthusiastic and avid learner.

My Department is full of youngsters. They are garam khoon and do not hesitate to give their piece of mind to any irritant in and outside the Department. Often they unburden themselves in my”benign presence”. I have realized long back that a heavy heart or mind only needs a pair of receptive ears and no sermons please. I am a good listener but mostly amused by gen now’s impatience. As Aunt Agony listens, my signature thought is ”bachhe abhi tumne duniya dekhi hi kahaan hai…..yehi sawaal tumse bees saal baad karenge tab sunenge tumhara jawaab…………….”

Moral of the Story: Viewed in a lighter vein, maturity is a great source of amusement. On a more serious note, it bestows a farsightedness, which is almost akin to wisdom.

The other day, my boss called me aside and told me a little apologetically (did I imagine?) that though I was eligible he could not guarantee a promotion to me the next year. I was not surprised. I was not expecting one (duniya mein aur bhi gham hai promotion na milne ke alaawaa!). I did not react to the news!

“Karmanye vaadhikaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana………………?”

Moral of the Story: Giving up expectations is maturity personified as I realize that the most powerful also has his/her own constraints/limits and there are certain situations which are beyond argument.

I think I am the nicest person on this earth and everyone’s trying to take advantage of my good nature. A few unhappy incidents have made this belief stronger. Trying to help somebody and being misunderstood, being loyal to someone and getting jilted, many encashing my work (creative genius? LOL) and misappropriating appreciation without my knowledge and to my disadvantage, gifted with utter disregard in return of unfaltering cooperation etc.etc. Now I am a bit cautious when it comes to helping people and make them conscious of my role in their life/work directly or indirectly. I am not very good at it though. I still lag behind…….

Moral of the Story: Modesty a gift of maturity (wink!)? I discern a few negative shades here. Has maturity handicapped me in some ways?

After prolonged suffering due to an undiagnosed ailment, when I chanced upon a lifesaver of a surgeon, I knew that the dark phase of my life was over and I would be okay soon. I did thank God but stoically.

Moral of the Story: Conviction and maturity go hand in hand. Which follows which is difficult to trace but sufferings always give way to peace and calm, if not happiness.



On one of my previous posts (“Life Is The Greatest Teacher”), my good friend Vel (Velm of MS), raised a few ticklish questions: What is maturity? When and how does one gain maturity? Who and what are the factors responsible for maturity? Parents? Mentors? School? Age? Experience? Knowledge? Failure? Questions to which I did not have definite answers! Questions which made me ponder. I thought to myself, really, who is or when can one be called a mature person? Questions were too many and the answers perhaps hidden within them. My curiosity was triggered. I peeped into my own self and asked, “Am I mature enough to answer these questions?” The reply came in the following form ……..

As a child, if I was denied a box of chocolates, I’d throw up such a rowdy tantrum that my parents in the long run had to succumb to my onerous demands and get me not one but two boxes of chocolates as compensation for the chance denial. Now, if I miss one, I am secretly relieved that I have scraped past an opportunity to gain additional ounces of calories. But if my colleague, bypassing me gets a promotion, I am in the throes of almost incurable depression.

Moral of the Story: I have matured but relatively – yes, when it comes to the box of chocolates and an emphatic no, when it concerns promotion. Maturity, therefore, is not absolute. As we proceed with age, knowledge and experience, so does maturity.

When my friend suffered her first heartbreak, she went berserk with grief, humiliation, betrayal etc. When it happened the second time, she waived the mishap out of her system with a “Yeh toh hona hi tha” sigh and did not take much time to bounce back to daily routine.

Moral of the Story: My friend has matured and come to accept the adversities and deprivations of life in her stride aided by a philosophical shrug and smile.

Soon I earned the nickname of “Jhansi Ki Rani” in office. Reasons - a volatile temper and ready-to-lash-back attitude. Over a period of time, I realized it was doing me no good –a formidable image was attached to my name, my temper was telling upon my health, it was impossible to change people/situations to my choice and colleagues poked me more on my weak point (read short temper). Gradually, I learnt to avoid confrontations and keep my cool even though incited. There were better and calmer ways of tackling friction and resolve differences! Nowadays, I drink a glass of cold water and count slowly till 100 when anger tries to have the better of me. More importantly, I have learnt to evaluate my foes a bit more neutrally, impartially, in a quiet and detached manner.

Moral of the Story: I have matured on two accounts – I have realized my limitations and tried to get over them and stopped indulging in futile exercises, like changing the world, which takes one nowhere.

My aunt (my father’s sister), with whom I spent a considerable period of my life (in Kolkata), would never let me help her in the kitchen or do other sundry household chores. Her standard reply was “What will people think! I am making you work?” When she was ill, one day I forced myself in to the kitchen and told her it was more important to do the right thing rather than what people thought would be proper for us to do. My aunt, after a prolonged debate, gave in.

Being a football of people’s perceptions is a self imposed burden which robs us of the joy of life. It takes time to learn that the alternate course of doing what is right in a given situation is a far better option. Giving in to people’s wish is too easy a way.

Moral of the Story: Maturity comes without an age bar. It can gatecrash anytime, especially, when one musters up the confidence and courage to choose between what is right and what is easy.


Friday, 17 September 2010


Reviving memories
Sad and happy
Mist in my eyes gleams
Shiny yet obscure
A distant star in the horizon
Beckons me like a receding dream

Thursday, 16 September 2010


It dies with the dusk
My hopes of a dawn
Perhaps never to return


Go!Shoo!Fly!Be gone!
Shadows of past forlorn
Let me welcome a sunny morn

And no stars in sight
A dark alley winding
Cold feet echo

Cold feet echo
The hum of the breeze
The silence of the night


The silence of the night
The droplets of rain
Dripping from the leaves
The moon feels shy
Hides behind a cloud
A dog whines
Somewhere at the end of the alley
A car passes by
Its headlights throwing
A weak patch of light
On the pitch dark roads
Long way to go till
The arrival of the dawn
I sit in my lawn
Encircling a white bungalow
Now stilled in slumber
Everyone' gone to bed
Only I am alone, awake
A drape on a window
Shivers in the soft breeze
And an owl wails
Plaintively, on the old, peepal tree
I clutch the white shawl
And let my mane slide down
My fragile boned back
A song comes to mind
Heard ages ago
I hum with a smile
A bleak light burns
In the hut further down
By the running stream
I tread thither along
Somebody passes by
An old hunched man
Stooped on a stick
Chanting the holy name
I swoosh by like the
Flowing, whispering wind
On invisible wings
Leaving a thin trace
Of mist behind
A swish of silk
And the holy chant
Echo in the green
Valley beyond..............



So coming back to where we were.

As the network is spreading and more and more areas are getting connected, the crowd of daily commuters by metro is increasing. I think, DMRC can brag the honour of being the highest revenue grosser in the NCR (National Capital Region) now.

Most people scoff at the many ill-reputed areas (Mundka, Jahangirpuri etc.) being connected by the metro which according to them will soon pollute the traveling gentry by diffusing the notorious with the patricians. Stray incidents of pick pocket, eve teasing and other such messy muck have also been reported.

I do not know how we define gentry. But generally speaking, metro is thronged now by the populace which was earlier jostling for space in the overcrowded and famously infamous Blue Line buses. These buses, responsible for many gruesome accidental deaths in the Capital, nurtured a positively homicidal streak. It was rumoured that many political big wigs had their money invested in these when transportation became privatized in the city. The owners on the forefront were suspected to be just the façade. The drivers and conductors were untrained, unruly and many found driving under the impact of intoxicants (most hailed from the Haryana belt). Roguishly competitive on road, they did not care two hoots for the safety and security of the passengers or pedestrians. It is, therefore, after a prolonged battle with a very, very strong lobby that the Delhi Administration finally put a ban on these buses.

Metro, in its full fledged splendour, happened after a considerable period of time. In the absence of none, it soon emerged as an alternate recourse for commuting - the undoubted Messiah for thousands of commuters who were virtually rendered immobile by the resultant lack of adequate number of public transports after the Blue Lines were lifted off the roads of the Capital. Not only was the mode different now, but it also earmarked a technological leap (after Kolkata) in the history of transportation of the country. I feel that there should be crash courses to get acquainted with new technology (ies) as and when they gate crash into Indian market. Remaining backward for so many centuries have put us at a disadvantage of not knowing how to adopt or accept a new marvel and adapt ourselves to it accordingly. This I say after observing the commuter behaviour in the metro.

At first there were no queues on the station, more so because initially, as I said earlier, there were comparatively much less number of commuters. Even then as the train entered the station, the pushing, trampling and jostling would begin. Who would enter first and grab a seat would be the reasons for competition. (Some were also afraid that the auto-doors would close down on them if they did not hurry!) Though, it did not make much difference since a standing journey was equally comfortable, yet as they say, times (read technology) change but people do not. Thus means changed but attitude did not.

Even after the exit of the Blue Line, the psyche of the masses lingered on. The acquired commuting skills and haste of a Blue Line marauder could not be forgotten/given up easily and was unwittingly relayed forward to the metro. Now, it seems as though it has been genetically transmitted to the gen next. Thus, it is the undisciplined behaviour of the public that necessitated queues and also queue administrators.

The ethos of Delhi, unlike Mumbai and Kolkata, is different. Here smartness is personified by one’s grabbing skills, or in more sophisticated language, the killer instinct. He who breaks the rule, the more irreverently so, is considered the most intelligent. Queues are formed to be readily dismantled as soon as the train enters the station. If the guard tries to bring to book a line breaker, the latter promptly points out “Hum line mein hi hai……..” which one is the million dollar question.

There was this old guard deputed at Kashmere Gate Underground Station. He was very loyal to his duty and would chastise all queue-breakers in his inimical somewhat Sholay’s Asrani like style and mannerism. Sometimes, in his sincerity he overdid his job and underscored rudeness heavily. How the crowd hated him! Invariably a heated exchange between him and a passenger would transpire into a station brawl while the rest of the crowd would just jeeringly look on. We, as a nation, are an indecisive lot and detest finality. Even in an argument, which concerns public convenience and civility, we cringe to take sides and reach a conclusive statement. Thus, such scenes would often recur till one day the guard was replaced by his more diplomatic (?) counterpart and was seen no more.


Monday, 13 September 2010


To remind the young
Life is a song, create
Your tune as you sing along


The couple relive a nightmare
A jinxed existence of despair
Perhaps long known
But ignored
In the spur of the sublime moment
Of fervent desire
The couple have forsaken
The rosy days
The fragrance of romance
Of togetherness
In the lap of the blue hills
The star filled nights
When the crescent moon
Descends from
Her silver throne
To grace the union of souls
The couple with a dreadful sin
Of marrying out of kin
Lurk around in shadows deep
Like a pair of fugitives
In fear of being seen
And slaughtered in the name
Of honour
By their own kith and kin.


Stertorous breathing
Or beginning?


I mingle with the crowd of hasty steps
Famished eyes, furrowed brows
Fearful hearts, floundering souls

I get diffused in their pain
Hunger, angst, stress, denial, deprivation

As I am one with them

But we do not hold Hands
Or touch hearts
Stranger we walk side by side
Isolated islands of muted voices
Of grief untold, sorrow unshared

Chasing are we a haloed mirage
Of flaming passion, lusty temptations
More fragile than the brittle
More precious than the priceless
Half truths of knowledge and perhaps existence

We are all united in our mission
But plod alone the paths of survival
In a meandering labyrinth
Of cascading failure

We do not stop by, smile a nod
In recognition of our mutual loss
Apparent profits and at times calculated withdrawal

I am happy and so are they
In our make-believe worlds of blissful ignorance
And bask in the glory of anonymity
Thy name perhaps is freedom


I think I have left my purse on your bed
No, No, No, Not on the bed
Must be on the sofa by the bed
Kept it resting on the left side arm, perhaps
Next to the side table
No, not even there
I don’t exactly remember where
I was so busy wiping my tears
And moping my nose
(That had turned an ugly red)
With the frayed square of the
Tissue paper that you had
Absentmindedly thrown at me
It had a whole in between
Where I had pressed hard
With my fingers
Till its molecules ached
Till it tore into two pieces
And I having screwed the two bits up
Into a crumpled ball kept on
Twirling it around my shaky fingers
See what you did to me
With your “I don’t love you anymore”
Cold, callous, frozen undertone

I had tiptoed into the room
When you were bent
Over the table intent
On writing a letter
With careless sheets of paper
Thrown hither and thither
I had come up from behind
And snatched the letter
A sheaf of paper
Had slithered on the floor
I had picked up one of them
And found her name
On it; she, who I thought
Was my best friend
You must have sensed me there
Holding the page with a question in air
So you did not even turn around
But confessed then and there
In the stunned silence that
Followed, my world broke apart
Noiselessly, shattered to pieces my
Innocent dream which
Nestles in my womb
Must have also absorbed
The shocked silence
Why did you do this to me?
Why? Why? Why?
Why did you not tell me before?
Why did you mislead me so?
With your boyish smile
And rakish charm
You drew me on and on
Towards you
Oh! What a folly
It is, I, silly,
Who thought you loved me
Like never before
I with my plain face
And lusterless eyes
Should have known
That I have nothing to hold you on
To me; I, who do not have such,
Beguiling charm
Tempting looks
Bewitching smile that disarm
Men and strangers alike
I should have known
Much, much before
That I am no match to you
Then why did you play on?

Oh! I think I have lost my purse
A few bills shoved in there
And a few coins
I do not give a damn for the bills or the coins
But only a few moments captured in a still
The sea kissing the rocks and my saree hem
The salty sprinkles splattered by a
Chiffony breeze which had sprayed a few droplets
On my locks and on my cheeks
And you had pulled me up from the rocks
Taken me into your arms
Wordlessly we had moved, swayed along
Till the roar of the waves played a Mozart
In my veins, we had mingled into one soul
That moment is still rumpled inside the
The purse with delicate care
But now I think I have lost my purse
Forever, and you…………………

Please post me back the purse, will you?
If you find it languishing in one
Speechless corner of the room
It belongs to me you know
The salty sprinkle
The sprayed droplets
The chiffony breeze
The wet saree hem
And that warm touch on my palms
The sway and the dance
You remember
I had broken my heels in that instance
The shoe with the broken heels
Still lie wrapped in a silver foil
At the back of the almirah
Underneath the soft folds of my
Clothes and spreads
A gift so dear
From you, to be cherished forever
A shoe with broken heels
And a lost purse
Return it to me please,
Will you?
If you find it ever


She has tasted the thorn
And bled profusely
In the arms of the man
She loved

As I have..............


A wrinkled hand shades
A pair of vacant eyes
Scanning the barren horizon
Blazed by the wrath of Apollo

Tears have been choked to death
Lest they spill over
On the jagged floor

A black veil disrobes
An emaciated frame
And caresses longingly
The vessel of God
Precariously balanced
Between life and death

A pair of sun-burnt feet
Desperately desire
A toehold on the
Boundless sheet of golden grains

Miles and miles need be trudged
In search of the ever elusive

A few droplets of water...


O ye dreams
Tread softly
You may awake
Me from
Deep slumber within
With flailing fingers
I may try and grip
Thy chiffon wings
In darkness
Hollowed by

O ye dreams
Tiptoe please
So softly
Into my room
Wakefulness may
Prod me so
To hug you
To my heart
Weak with desire
Impassioned ........

O ye dreams
Do please stride in
But so careworn
With a finger on your lips
Like a mother tucking in
Her baby to bed
With delicate warmth
And care

O ye dreams
Petal soft dreams
Do come in
Do walk in
like a hmmm
Of a breeze
Swishing past my ears

O ye dreams
My only dreams
My lovely dreams
Nestle your head
On my downy pillows
And sleep a wink
By my side
So that as I turn
Ye embrace me
Like a lover's arm
In longing, linger
On like a
Melody of a song
So dear
But perhaps
Forgotten over the years

O ye dreams
My sauntering dreams
My floating clouds
My fragile shroud
Of joy and splendour
O ye dreams
Ye for ye alone I live
I breathe, I rejoice
I believe in
What could happen never

O ye dreams
My illusive wish
My passionate prayer
Hope unfulfilled
My only friend
My soul mate sincere
My phosphorous dreams
My effervescent dreams
My bubbly fizz
My vapourous glitz
I know you may never be there
But oh so I wish
You be always there
Lining the lashes
Swimming with lust
In my eyes
With loving care


Questions for the day
Gone unanswered any way
A few thoughts stray...

Will I ever find my way?
In the meandering bay
Where the blue sky sways

In a lazy lusty way
"Never make hay
It's just a sultry day"

The green grass nod n' say
"You'll always find your way
As lone you tread your way"

I step in and softly pray
That I find at last my way
In the tortuous pathway

But a few thoughts stray
Still tickle my mind and say
You've yet not found your way
And answers till this day...


My mother is an octogenarian. Though otherwise very active, she is predominantly confined to the four walls of home and spends most part of the day alone. Old age coupled with isolated existence can be a potent cause of many psychosomatic problems. Doctors have, therefore, advised her to keep the TV/Radio switched on so that the flurry of voices movement and music proxy the much needed human company. My mother has thus naturally fallen prey to the glitz and glam of the soap serials aired 24 hours on TV which easily replace her earlier interests in theatre, movies and books. I am citing this very personal example to highlight the importance of television in our lives as such and especially the quality quotient of social soaps telecast.

The Indian TV viewers got the first taste of soap opera in

Hum Log (1984). Soon Badki, Cchutki, Majli, Bassessar, Dadi and other characters (played by veteran theatre personalities) of the serial became household names. Hum Log centred on the daily strife and dreams of the middle class. The quick recap at the end of each episode by Dadamoni Ashok Kumar was the added attraction. Incidentally, the serial was the brainchild of the then I&B Minister Vasant Sathe. Next came the block buster Buniyaad (1987-88), a saga based on Hindusthan-Pakistan divide and the post divide survival of the uprooted middle class. It showcased heart rending performances by ace actors/actresses e.g. Aloknath (Master Haveliram), Anita Kanwar (Lajjoji), Kiran Juneja (Veerawali), Vijayendra Ghatge and others. These trail blazing serials were directed by veteran film makers, P. Kumar Vasudev and Ramesh Sippy respectively and scripted by none other than Manohar Shyam Joshi. No wonder that both the serials boasted of finesse, strong story line, script, dialogues, performance, consistency and focused continuity of drama. These were followed by Tamas, (by Govind Nihalani, director par excellence), a gripping and harrowing tale of an estranged couple (Om Puri and Deepa Sahe) in the communal riots staged by political aspirants/activists. These were serials of substance in terms of thematic concepts and overall influence on the masses. Subsequently, a few more serials were made based on the novels of Bimal Mitra, Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay R.K. Narayan (Malgudi Days), Gulzaar (Terah Panne/Mirza Ghalib), to name a few. The common thread of these serials being their limited episode editions and diligent adherence to the basic story line.

It was simultaneously during this period that the “corporate sponsorship” of serials was initiated at first in gradual measures soon giving way to full fledged commercialization. Enter the period of long drawn serials running into hundreds of episodes like Shanti, Swabhimaan, Junoon, Tara and the likes wherein script, story, characterization etc were conveniently sacrificed at the altar of prolonged duration. It was with the advent of private channels, TRP ratings and investment of “big” money in television that soaps, with the exception of a few, witnessed a steady degeneration in terms of content and concept. The invasion of Balaji Telefilms culminated the bizarre chronicle to perfection with its head honcho's obvious initial K fascination (Kkusum, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kasam Se,Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, moving on to the more current non-K titles like Bairi Piya, Tere Liye etc.).

Nowadays we live in an era of over-hyped costume dramas of larger than life size characters pioneered by Ms. Ekta Kapoor & Co. Generalization befits as all seem to be mass produced at the same factory & specifications overruled as all are cast in the same mould. (Those which do not subscribe to the patent formulae are smirked at as positively down market). These serials not only thrive on and promote but also loudly justify all social aberrations - extra marital flings, bigamy, polygamy, feudal debauchery, familial conflicts/conspiracies, illegitimate relations, the quintessential mother-in-law versus daughter-in-law discord, scandalous affairs, sexual impotency with covert hints at homosexuality, the list is quite exhaustive. A gourmet garnished with half truths; a bouquet of obsolete, medieval values as fringe benefits to go with it. For example, the oft-flaunted Achilles Heels of joint family systems, blatantly overlooking the fact that joint families do not only symbolize divides and disputes but are also founts of emotional & social support & security. Randomly watching a few of these serials, I realized that these are more stress inducers than stress busters. When you expect an outburst or quick reflexes from the protagonist, the camera pans interminably on his/her dead pan/tear smeared face. The over-glamourized vamp always hogs the limelight while the personification-of-all-virtues female lead(s) suffers silently for aeons (read episodes). Neither of them age even after their grand children are married off. The characters change colours (from good to bad to good again) overnight giving a massive inferiority complex even to the chameleon. What to speak of the

three jhatkas to hyphenate a milestone in the macabre twists and turns of the non-existent plot. It is no surprise, as contrary to the earlier trailblazers directed in its entirety by one director, now every episode has a fresh director and writer. I am given to understand that the Hindi pulp fiction writers (with due respect) are roped in to punch in the masalas to sensationalize each episode. Story jaaye bhaad mein! As a result, the plot/script in the 100th episode of the serial goes off on a tangent to that of the previous episodes. The half an hour time span is unequally divided with ad-breaks, leaving may be a miniscule quarter for the serial. The corporate money is invested majorly into heightening visual opulence (with regard to looks, attire & sets). There is no advancement/innovation in so far as technique, presentation or camera angles etc. are concerned let alone the story, script, plot etc. Ms. Kapoor has gone on record (in Koffee with Karan) stating that she generates employment by prolonging a serial. Very noble deed (read guise) indeed! But is it adequate justification for the over sentimental trash in the garb of social drama that the viewers are compelled to gulp down with dinner every night?

More worrisome is the fact that these regressive serials enjoy direct intrusion in our drawing rooms where the entire family including children robustly eat, drink, belch them. With globalization hugely impacting the television, it is more than apparent that the permissiveness advocated by these serials, is a blind Photostat of the West (of the league of Bold And The Beautiful etc.). Sociologists are still divided on the issue whether we are ready yet to digest the same. But what irks more is when these corrosive convolutions spill out on the open (street, alleys, parks et al) hurting the sensibilities of the elders and scarring the innocence of the children. Wish Ekta Kapoor and her compatriots introspect a little more on that!

Interestingly, the serials derive the name soaps from the early radio broadcasts (1930s) which were predominantly sponsored by soap manufacturers to arrest the attention of their niche customers, the housewives to their products. Nowadays these are called soaps because they are too slippery to “reach out” and grasp!


Saturday nights are generally meant to be de-stressing time for my workaholic family when we all relax and watch a movie or enjoy an occasional dinner in a restaurant. This Saturday was movie time. There were three movies to choose from – Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, Peepli Live and Aisha. We chose the third one. Our funda for movie selection was very simple – (1) Sonam Kapoor looked smashing in the promos, (2) The story was an adaptation of the classic - Jane Austin’s Emma and most importantly for me (3) The hero was Abhay Deol.

However, the predictable candy floss extravaganza that unfolded in two and a quarter hours time made me think seriously. Candyfloss it was – red roses, pink bows, satin sashes through and through. Only the Siamese kitten was conspicuous by its absence. Much has been already written and re-written on the movie on this site. So, I will abstain from a frame to frame, angle to angle, dialogue to dialogue, score to score dissection of the same. Just a few thoughts which tickled my mind while watching the movie.

It is an Anil Kapoor production. Hence, the role is inarguably tailor-made for Aisha i.e. Sonam Kapoor – a daughter of a rich father who has a single vocation, no, passion in life that of matchmaking. Somehow I always associated this “frivolous” activity with the middle aged housewives who did not have much to do than snoop around for marriageable sons and daughters and paired them off successfully and at times unsuccessfully. I am talking about those times when the parents did not depend on innumerable matrimonial sites and dedicated sections (running into pages) in Newspapers for marriage alliances. Also, my contemporaries were less self opinionated unlike modern girls and boys who have very clear and at times uncompromising notions about the institution of marriage. Matchmaking may have its own social significance and the ones actively involved in it perhaps be doing a great favour to society at large, but I am yet to come across a young girl clad in designer outfits and of, I presume, little more than average intelligence, devoting all her talents and papa’s paisa (source undisclosed in the film) to this activity.

Emma was written at a time (in 1813) when ladies with their fancy, frilled parasols, lace handkerchiefs, corsets, coiffures, chaperons and bottles of smelling salt were confined to their homesteads and whiled time in “womanly” activities like gardening, embroidery, socializing and taking care of the household in general. Jane Austin’s novels depicted the social milieu of her times. I always found it difficult to go through one as her characters were invariably caught up in social niceties like who is courting/angling for whom, mamas worried about their daughters not getting married on time, aunts entrapping unsuspecting, eligible beaus for their dumpling nieces and so on and so forth. At the same time, Jane Austin’s novels were hard hitting satires on the then prevailing social system wherein the womenfolk had no other option but to be dependent on marriage for financial and social security. No such message seems to be filtering through the script of this film as the adaptation is superficial without much effort at making the theme contemporaneous.

Given the backdrop of these classic creations, it will not be impertinent to ask whether an adaptation of a Jane Austin novel, especially Emma, befits the contemporary consumerist society, a by-product of an increasingly competitive market driven economy, where women have to precariously balance family life with a 9 to 5 job and at times play the role of the sole bread earner of her clan.

Randhir (Cyrus Sahukar) & Pinky (Ira Dubey), epitome of modern youth, depicted as somewhat paranoid of “being and dying single”, made me wonder whether marriage and relationship are really the foremost concerns of gen now. One may argue that the movie insinuates at the life and mindset of the more comfortable class, scions of which, do not actually have to worry about how to earn their daily grub. But I have also sampled a few specimens of the upper echelon who not only have greater drive and means to further their status but in the process make the race harder for those running in the survival of the fittest track.

What the movie successfully brings forth is the class contempt which is regrettably prevalent in, I think, every society, be it East or West. The continuous jibes at the middle class mentality represented by the “Bahadurgarh girl”, Shefali, aptly portrayed by Amrita Puri, are bold indicators of social snobbery at times bordering on extreme unkindness. Though, the script is amply punctuated by Arjun (Abhay Deol) chastising Aisha to stop reorganizing other people’s life and do something more constructive instead, nothing much propels her to do otherwise which again raises the quintessential debate whether Rajashree Ojha through her directorial debut is reinforcing the dumb damsel status quo wrapped in glitzy package.

The only glimmer of sunshine in the whole movie is the sensible, down-to-earth character of Arjun, played by Abhay Deol. That man has a knack of fitting into a character like hands slithering into a pair of well fitting gloves. His presence in the movie is like a breath of fresh air. I was taken aback to see M. K. Raina (Aisha’s father) dancing to Bollywood beats. Besides his nocturnal adventure with gajar ka halwa, Raina is grossly underutilized in the film. Anuradha Patel has nothing much to do but look elegant which she is.The opulent sets more than hint at a lifestyle where money is no issue. Ms. Ojha is promising but at times the infinitesimal pauses between dialogues (especially when Randhir proposes his undying love to Aisha to her utter chagrin) could have been pruned to make the pace racier and story telling crispier. The music by Amit Trivedi is passable.

All said and done, I would not say I yawned through the movie. The movie has great visual impact and the character portrayals are very good, especially that of the lovable Shefali i.e. Amrita Puri, who with her so-called “behenji” syndromes offers an equal match to the overpowering screen persona of Sonam Kapoor, if not outshine. Overall, running the risk of being branded as moral police, I’d say it is a clean film viewable with family and even enjoyable at times, especially, the repartees of the young ‘uns.

In fact, I am a little surprised that the movie could evoke such strong sentiments in me and incite an incisive analysis of the screen play. It is not that I have not enjoyed such light hearted chickflicks before. But the peach and cherry cake splattered with an additional ounce of icing and cream dished by Ms. Ojha, indicated another, rather a more disturbing fact, that I am way past that phase of life when I could thoroughly enjoy a mindless recreation cooked up by throwaway money and wasted energy of aimless youth.


Upon a premier preview……………….

Well, I consider myself one of the lucky few to have gone through the short story captioned as above, written none other than an MSian of consequence, Virat Nehru. A premier preview before the publication is a privilege by itself! But at the very outset, I may confess that I am not much of an on-line reader, though I take pride in being quite a site-marauder these days. However, if given a choice between an “ink & quill” paginated version and an electronic one, I’d definitely choose the former. But having said so, let me also record the fact that I finished reading the story at one go along with the Foreword and the section dedicated to the Indian Readers, which given my fidgety self, is quite something.

Before delving into the subtle nuances of the write, let me assuage the writer’s doubts about the softer sensibilities of Indian Readers. I take pride in proclaiming that the Indian Readers have also “come of age” and no more take shelter in Victorian camouflage. Globalization has its own advantages and disadvantages and one of its aftermaths, nay, consequence, is embracing the “openness” of the West with such gusto that the latter may now be put to shame of backwardness. This I announce purposely because the afterword for Indian Readers seems to have been writ in an apologetic and explanatory veneer which need not be necessary. Of course the writer knows best.

Much has already been clarified by the writer in his Reflection Statement about the background, construct and thematic concept of the story and any comment thereof would either be an over-statement or an unnecessary repetition or expansion of the same. I’d only attach the views and feelings of a layperson to this review – the thoughts that came to my mind and emotions that I experienced while going through the story.

The Story Line - This is a story of a child who comes to term with his own self, his physical disability and prejudices of society in accepting his incapacities. A child, suffering from cerebral palsy, who is sent off to Boarding School (Scindia School, Gwalior) , to get over his inability to mingle in society, his closeted life of a bookworm and the growing obese proportions due to lack of physical agility. Here, I may say, I fully empathize with the protagonist, as I , myself was the most grudging school-goer of my time, not because of any physical handicap but of a more endangering mental disability to mix with people. A psycho-analysis may trace my site-addictions back to this inability to inter mingle with my peers and the comfort that I feel in “deliberately distanced” social exchange at times facilitated more by a degree of anonymity. So, it did not take time for me to find myself in the child who struggles for survival under the austere conditions of hostel life (some of my colleagues hail it as the best period of their lives), his initial opposition to all that it symbolizes, his gradual initiation into and final acceptance of the scheme of things.

The Essence Of The Story - To put it succinctly, it’s a “man story”. There is nothing to enchant or attract the interest of female readers but nevertheless it does because there is a kind of universality in the essence of the storyline - a subtle narration (though as per the author he’d prefer a more refined version), an undisrupted flow which took me back to my Enid Blyton gorging days and more recently J.K. Rowling, though many chastise my inclination towards children’s literature. Yes, the story did at times remind of “3 Idiots” more so may be because the movie is the most contemporary and strong statement on our education system - a celluloid text of the same genre as the short story is. One may also draw some sort of parallel to a Chetan Bhagat story but Virat’s calligraphy is more finely tuned and elevated in stature, the influence of classical and modern thinkers being prominent on the writing style, as confirmed by the writer himself. Further, the narration is not cluttered by too many incidents.

The Writing Skill& Narration - Superlative contemplations juxtaposed with crafty writing skill can be a dangerously powerful weapon. The chapters end as though in provocative mid sentences like a swish of a painter’s brush to grip the readers’ minds left salivating for more. The narration or the flow has a cascading pattern as though a tributary is galloping down the rocky inclines and finally loosing identity into the bigger water bodies. Though the writer has chosen the medium of short story, the ethos of the story transcends the narrow confines of its character and his predicament and takes the shape of a broader statement of human evolution from the stage of infantile naivety to cynicism and astuteness of adulthood – a process natural to mankind tampered merely by personalized ordeals.

Language & Descriptive Style - At times, I was taken aback by the unique mix of American colloquial and classic English. Some of the depictions are so terse and apt that they take ones breath away, especially, those who rely heavily on language rather than incidents to explore and express the intricacies of human emotions. The phrases like ‘phenomenon of bathing” to describe the closed door adventure & “unspeakably wicked” to highlight the curse of a physical disability speak volumes without being verbose. “The questions never stopped like a tap leaking because of a bad washer” is packed with dark humour and can be an unequivocal allusion to the pathological snoopiness of idle, inquisitive minds about anything which does not conform to the society’s norms of “normalcy”. “In this wide paddock, the herd disintegrated and could now be found in small patches of grass’, to describe the first impression of a child of his school premise, seems an adult expression for juvenile thought. “Few can stand mediocrity and most can’t stand success” is again a hard punch on the face. Further, the description of day to day hostel life, the comfort of the child when he sees that the school building has an "overly -used " facade, the end when a transitioned protagonist gives in to " This will have to do… for now”, ..............and countless such other make it an extremely engrossing read, especially, for those who find solace in word portrayal. It would also be euphemistic to say that the story is a satirist's delight. There is satire, there is humour, there is pathos, there is an endlessness to the story which transports it to a higher level.

Characterization& Story Telling- But the best is the finely worded derisive caricature of Mr. Pennsylvania and a very bold attempt indeed since the publication is for the Western Readers. The utter disregard for an NRI and his contemptuous treatment as the “Other” in the hostel dominated by Indian mentality may be a point of surprise for the West. On the contrary, the generalization on Indian aspiration of settling abroad may be a little farfetched if not completely untrue. The story is autobiographical and a capture of an innocent mind of his surroundings. The story telling is on one hand simple and involved and on the other aloof as that by a detached spectator. The awestruck son and a distanced father relationship is I believe part of and natural to growing up.

Highlights - Since, I am constrained not to divulge too much about the story as it is in the pre-publication stage, I’d briefly discuss the milestones without going into too many details. The highlight of the story is the coming of age or “transition” of the child into adulthood penned with a macabre but at the same time sensibly ordinary (read understated) twist (which does not jar with the flow of the narrate). This foretells the power and promise of the author in days to come. As I have earlier said, the flow though uninterrupted, has much unsaid. One has to read more between the lines to absorb the full import of narration and descriptions which in itself is a very enriching experience as it leaves much scope and gives leverage to the readers in terms of interpretive liberty. By which I mean that there is no "definitiveness of a grand finale" in the conclusion of the narrative. The ethos lingers on and hangs over the reader like a pall of smoke in mid air. The climax though conclusive can imbibe several meanings depending on the fertility of readers’ mind which definitely is an indication of the caliber of the writer. However, there is a veiled bitterness, a cloaked wistfulness, threading the tale, which I am afraid, can be a figment of my imagination also. The endeavour of the author to showcase and uphold Indian values and faith in family system is commendable.

A highly recommended read not because it is woven by a fellow MSian but because it boasts of superb craftsmanship coupled with powerful writing skill and sovereignty of thoughts, inspired yes, but in no way partial to influences.

However, the short story is basically targeted for Australian publication and will only be available in private circulation (along with the Reflection Statement and the Afterword for better appreciation) in India, for which you may get in touch with the writer by e-mail.