Saturday, December 09, 2006

Of a musical charm

As his rhythm of ‘Govinda, Govinda’ picked up pace I felt exactly like I was on weed. He then picked up the beat to convince you that probably he was losing control of himself as well. But he was in perfect control and left off suddenly… the one who had drowned was you… you were left grasping for breath… for more. At its peak I felt the supernatural (read: beyond human control) brush past me.

This was my first full time formal experience at Savai Gandharva. Pandit Jasraj had settled on the stage and the compeer announced that ‘there were to be no limits.’ I had no clue what sort of an experience this would be, but trust me as I sat on the baithak, my head buried in my knees… only Jasraj’s voice floating in the air, I found myself being consumed in the music. I tried concentrating on other things, but thoughts just seemed to float and nothing remained in my head for too long because his voice took over.

Savai Gandharva has a charm of is own – it has a respect for those who genuinely love music, for those who treasure it and appreciate it. It is an experience of four full days of music, where connoisseurs eat, sleep and live music. There might be stalwarts of music presenting the best of their talent before them, but you will see no gold jewellery, no silk saris, and no fancy hair-dos in the audience at this event. Everyone returns to the grounds with a blanket and sweater to beat the cold and they fill the auditorium with a river of claps, which keeps rising higher and higher like the waves in the sea. You stop applauding, but the shower continues and continues.

At Savai, I realised that musicians come to enjoy themselves. They come for Bhimsen, whom they so dearly love, they come to keep alive a tradition of Indian classical music and most importantly they come to pay tribute their own skill that they claim to have earned either from ‘god’ or from ‘their guru’.

Simple Maharashtrian families set up food stalls at the grounds to serve khichadi, vada pav, tea… Those who bought their seasonal ticket for Rs 350 after standing in line for 4 and 5 hours get the best of seats… right at the base of the stage. There too, if you want to be first in the seating, you have to come hours before time. And people do! There are the others, who aren’t sure of schedules and buy tickets on a day to day basis, but ensure that they can make time for at least one program.

No wonder these artists return each year with as much love and dedication. “Many ask me whether people still listen to Indian classical and I ask them to visit Savai Gandharva,” said Shivkumar Shama, before he started off with his performance this year. What surety of being appreciated!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When I was feeling low

At a point when the day seemed to become dull, lazy, disappointing...
Life just seemed to make me smile in its own sweet way.
I went for Indian Ocean - live in concert. Vow! they played bandhe...
A birthday party, with pictionary and chicken biryani and peach twirl.
I met an old friend over coffee... strong coffee and a cheese sandwich.
I bumped into another close friend... who has promised to take me out for dinner and coffee, thereafter. But this coffee would be sweet... very sweet, because that is the way he likes it.
I designed a page successfully. It took three hours... but the page looks nice.
I am eating swiss chocolate cake... the layers of cream look delightful... as though rolling in joy.

I was giving up hope and I was feeling very low. But life doesn't seem to be all that bad...
Probably life seems a big word and too philosphical.
So I will just say... THE DAY

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tip Toeing on Memories and ...dreams...

It was the most beautiful sunset.
I could not make the colours out, since my sense of colours is bad.
But thankfully i can appreciate art...the natural one that is more comprehensible than when the human mind streaks the canvas with colours that blend, stand apart or just make sense with one another.

I was with an artist. The artist just listened to me describe the sunset. I began with blue... ok I don't know the next colour, nor the next, nor the next...aha! and that is orange..isshh - red. That's it, that is the exact colour. Don't you think so? Of course it didn't strike me that the artist might know the colour and it might be at the end of the artist's lips, but the artist didn't say a word. The artist just smiled.


We met some people. They were very rural. I know that one can't be 'very rural' when you live one hour from the city and have an entire township developing at the base of the hill that you live on. But I would say that they were 'very rural' as compared to how we live - here in the city.

They spoke about their land. About how it was stolen off them. They were given other land. But 'their own land' had been taken away. So what if it was done legally?

I realised how proud a man can be of his land. They told us about their forests, which have no water. "You'll find the most fierce of animals and the rarest of trees in our jungle, but no water," he said. There was no regret in his voice. Just pride. The way he declared "My soil..." or referred to the land as "Our land..."

I want my children to learn the truth of loving your land. I could never learn it, but I can understand its reflection in the eyes of those who live their land. But probably these people won't live long enough for my children to even be able to notice the feeling, let alone understand it.

It is the prettiest sight when you see little feet splash in the water splattered around the well.
When tiny fingers give strength to the sapling sown into the soil by his dad.
When the little ones scramble up the trees or just decide to aim at the raw mangoes high up among the branches.

I HOPE THIS DOESN'T REMAIN A DREAM 'coz then a part of me will always remain a dream

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sightings at the Chatushringi Mela

Colourful lights flicker with in variating time modules
Merry-had-a-little-lamb plays as the giant-wheel revolves faster and faster
A boy with curly hair and spectacles wears a huge backpack; a camera slung around his neck is waiting to be raised for a shot
Colourful combs sprewn around on a plastic sheet
Ceramic kulhads piled one on top of the other - there are flowers, geometric shapes, spots and stripes on them
A teenager checking out the junk jewellery
A bunch of foreigners with pants folded up to the knee and finely embroidered pouches in their hands wade through the slush
Osho chappals, high heeled shoes with sequence work, kolhapuris.
Women bargaining
Zaree-bordered sarees - red, yellow, green coupled with silves anklets that show on the dark skin and gold that dots the several piercings in the ears
A baby wailing
A flute playing
Mogra thread into gajras with in-between strips of red flowers sprinkled with gold and silver conferetti
Drums that remind me of the monkey man in Delhi, only now the drum is made of fluoroscent tin
Odd sweets (spicy?) snacks heaped in a thela
A girl turning away in embarassment as the golguppa is too big for a single bite

The Chatushringi Mela is a an annual fair during Navratri in Pune. Until last year the stalls of food and games used to line the road, which then used to be specially shut, to be made into a walking plaza during the late evenings. This year they promised us that the road would remain operational through the festival and the number of hawkers would be reduced. Well that just gave a me a chance to pass through all the hustle bustle, that makes a common man's life exciting, each day while returning from office.
Traditions are natural to India. They bring life to the small lanes, empty courtyards and lonely lives. May they remain rooted for long.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dear Ganapati

But this Ganesh fesitval remains a fond memory, because Ganesha visited me everyday in different forms.. sometimes in the form of love, sometimes through success, a lot of times through my favourite modak and at all of the other times, through the music of the dhol.

Amidst the hustle-bustle of Laxmi Road, there were patches of dry roads. Not a soul there, just the dim tubelights of the paani-puri wallas flickering in the corners. In the background the dhol-taasha beat into the air, creating that hypnotising rhythm which just takes you along with it to the banks of the river where the Ganesh idol is dipped into the water, bidding him farewell.
The mandal showed the story of Bhasmasura, people watched silently and cheered as the show ended and the plastic dolls on the stage did a small jig (manoramak nritya). That was where the sound concentrated, that was where the people collected... all of the rest was was dark and silent. This was the first time I ever walked the streets of the city, well past midnight. I didn't know that even Laxmi Road, the soul of the city could be deserted, where closed shutters of the shops stared you in the face and the dirt strewn near the drains wasn't shuffled from end to end.

Every now and then, when we turned into a tiny gulli where the shadows of bright lights danced at the corner, a large crowd of young and old welcomed us. Some danced, some foot-tapped, some just stood around watching the show. The sound echoed a million times before the silence actually hit you in the patch between one Ganesh mandal and another.

A friend of mine who lives in Sadashiv Peth said sleep is never deep during the festival. The paani-puri walla mentioned that their business sees its peak right until early hours of dawn. It's amazing to see how Ganesha comes into everyone's life in his own way during this festival. Some he lures with his modaks, others he becomes a favourite with because of his lavish adorn and then there are those set of people who simply adore him because of the wonderful melody of his praises that fill the air during those eleven days.

This is to them and to our favourite Ganu...Ganapati bappa morya, pudhachya varshi lavkar ya

Friday, August 18, 2006

In the Sand

Sploch! right into seven inches of shit...or that's what it felt like, when i walked straight into a thick layer of gooey, brown mud on the Tekdi today.
Of course i decided to trod the path quite confidently and I took one step, then another, then a third and ooops, my foot refused to budge out of the mess. I pulling and stretching, but no... the mus is adamant.
M calls out - let me help you - she says. But what if she falls in, that would be a worse situation to deal, rather a worse whining session to deal with. I'd bettr figure it myself. Anyways finally M gave me a hand out and i also slipped and fell right into the splatter caking my neat blue jean with mud. My foot couldn't be told from by floaters, it was all messy.
Anyways we walked over to a nearby pond, where the sand seemed to have settled. I cleaned my hands and feet, while my sandals kept bobbing up and down in the water.
The cool water felt nice, very relaxing. I love the feeling of water ripling over my toes, it tickles, it teases and then smoothens out. Nice.
I told M about this, but all she could react as as: "Now you want to be like a stork and remain in there all day long. Please get out, now." I laughed about it then...but trust me it felt nice to see her playing mature for once.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bad Roads, Worse Traffic and Even Worse Emotions

My feet were wading through water, the rain was pouring from above, bright lights were blinking into my eyes and with each opportunity I got, I weaved my way through the thick of a traffic jam, which was only increasing as the cars lined up one behind the other.

I was returning from work, taking the usual route back home. I had already by-passed the main signals, hoping to avoid the traffic, but here I was only to be faced by this unending line of cars and scooters. Should I take the narrow lane at the indent? - Well that will only be more claustrophobic I thought, let me see how far I can go. So here I was switching-off and once again switching-on the ignition. At times I would keep the bike on - the fuel is unnecessarily wasted with this constant on and off routine - but each I time I decided to do that, the traffic wouldn’t move for minutes together - so consequently we were wasting petrol either ways.

Waiting and waiting, slowly people pulled out their cell-phones, exchanged glances that spoke millions, honked at the person ahead, only to evoke a ‘what the hell can I do’ response and basically tried to pass their time, which seemed never to end.
- “Me ghari ushira pocheen (I’ll be back home late)” -“How many times do I heat and re-heat the food” called out his wife from the other end. (Everyone turned to look and smiled);
- “Yeah! Once again it’s the traffic, we have to do something about these roads man” (Probably it was a journalist speaking - I thought),
- “Honey I don’t think we can meet today, it will be another hour before I can get past this patch.” (A lover’s call of apology, I’m guessing)
So time passed with groans and yawns, with variant ring-tones interspersing this passive atmosphere bringing it alive for those few seconds.

Each time the vehicles before us moved catching up some speed, a surge of enthusiasm rushed through us and we moved ahead rearing the engine. But all at once it would slow down again. “You are going to Aundh right? - Take the by-lane, it’s faster,” said a kind rickshawwalla as I moved ahead in the jam. Looking at my expectant and apprehensive face, he continued, “Don’t worry, the traffic is moving smooth there. You will get home faster. We have been here for some 45 minutes now.” And whiz I went past the traffic, away from the thought of ‘just being stuck.’ An open road welcomed me and I was only to happy to take towards it. A policeman hurried me at the crossing and all of a sudden, I felt an irritation. I veered to one side and beckoned the policeman -“Do you how many people are just waiting there. What’s the deal?’ - “There is a VIP coming, ma’am,” he was trying to be nice and to pacify me. - “So what, let him see and be a part of this city’s mess,” I retorted and drove off.

Hunger growled in my tummy and water dripped from my clothes; a tired hand accelerated the scooter into the verandah. I was glad to be back home.

My dad’s moral to the story - The prices are rising and India is heading towards progress. But of what sort and use is the development, when the roads are bad and planning is even worse. All you get is a bunch of frustrated people - the productivity of this country is only at loss.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

About 'being in love'

A few people questioned me about 'this' man after they read my previous post. The existence of a man was presumed when they read 'I'm in love'.

Well this post goes out to them. Isn't "being in love" a state of the mind? I mean, there are certain emotions, reactions and feelings that are typical to 'when one is in love'. Of course, you need to have been in love at least once to be able to identify these feelings, but thereafter, it's more about 'how you feel' and 'what you experience', more than the existence of particular feelings towards a person, that begins to matter.

I have been madly in love only once and that too at the tender age of 16, when life suddenly seems rosy, and rosier because of the 'sweet' attached to the sixteen. Well, there are many moments in my life when I feel like smiling, staring into the serene beauty of still waters, I even miss-out on the correct route back home...but these moments bear no relation to any person. They are just a passing phase...they come with a heavy downpour, the fragrance of wet mud, a new job, the thought of good food...I mean just about anything! But the only way I identify them is with being in love, 'coz this is exactly what happened to me then.

So all my dear friends, who are curious about 'the one' me... when 'the one' comes by, you will be the 'chosen ones' to whom the news comes first!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Where is the ME?
Actually I'm really confused.
I think I am in love...the feeling seems familiar, but the person does not.
Has my taste changed OR have my priorities. I'd prefer to think the latter, makes your thought seem so much more significant.

The present is fine, rather quite wonderful.
But the still lingers. I want to let go, I almost have...but I'm always tempted to trample upon it one last time. Rub some salt on those wounds and see if it still burns! Sounds bizarre and sadistic...but isn't that pleasurable as well.

My responsibilities have increased manyfolds.
Suddenly life seems to have a purpose. I feel I am 21.
I am compelled to ponder if this is someone trying to tell me something - then why the hell can't I figure it out.

I want to be held tight.
Fingers to meet and toes to touch,
Noses to rub and heads to bump...
I want to dream...ENDLESSLY!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Different Individuals, Different Tides

Never judge a book by its cover, but this time I did…the sea green cover caught my eye and I picked the book without too much second thought. I heard of the author, but didn’t care to verify the success of this book. The outline of the story appealed to the writer within me and this appeal kept me going through the entire length of the book. And that too, to such an extent that I finished four hundred pages in one and a half days.

Unfortunately The Hungry Tide wasn’t as charming to other who had read the book. But somehow, the book, which doesn’t have all that fascinating a storyline, kept me gripped through and through. I guess this was more to do with the way in which Ghosh has dwelled on each of the elements in the book. The characters, the river, its tides, the forests, in fact even the tigers and the dolphins. The novel takes you through the lives of different people whose existence was centred around this small island, in the Sundarbans. While some come from the comparatively wealthy lifestyles, there are others who have seen nothing beyond the dense forests that guard the island. Their beliefs source from the raw fears of tigers and floods. Their stories are spun to tell tales of men who survived cyclones of and others who had experienced the ‘Bon Bibi’ (the local deity) miracles. The story begins with the narration of the lives of two independent individuals which then Ghosh has tactfully merged through incidences that almost seem coincidental or mere quirks of fate. Of course, there isn’t a direct relation established between circumstances, as one would expect, especially after the over-exposure to mainstream Hindi Cinema; but while the story takes turns according to the writer’s imagination (and moods), he gives the reader’s mind an opportunity to find a different, yet parallel, trail as well.

Let’s take for one an instance where Kanai is reading his uncle’s diary which makes a mention of the Bon Bibi temple on a particular island. Chance happens to bring Kanai to that very island. Now ordinarily, you’d think that Kanai would set foot on the island and probably look out for the temple, or atleast reminisce a connection between the island and the temple. However, none of this happens and story takes a different stroke with a series of events that leave the reader curious with a parallel stream of thought. That is to say, what if, he had figured his way to the temple? OR Was it actually the spiritual forces mentioned in the diary that saved him?

One of my most favourite characters in the story is Fokir. A fisherman, Fokir leads a simple life, but that of solitude. Ghosh has spoken about ‘who’ Fokir is, but not about ‘why’ he is the way he has been portrayed. Silent and reclusive, Fokir displays a different - more enthusiastic and warm - shade of his personality when he is in the river. Not much conversation transpires between Fokir and Piya, or between Fokir and Kanai; but his body language, his eyes and his overall behaviour tends to say a lot. Unfortunately for the reader, it is almost impossible to find any reason to his acts. To give the story a happier shade, I reasoned with most of his behaviour with a hue of optimism. But I guess, the exact opposite holds true of somebody who is more radical.

I must admit that I have been much too happy with this read. The satisfaction still lingers. Each time I think of Lusibari, Kanai or Fokir, I wonder what happened next. Though the end seemed ‘fit’ to the book, I wonder if Ghosh intends to write a sequel. Or on second thoughts, he probably shouldn’t attempt something like that, probably my mind will wirte its own conclusion to this story…

Thursday, June 08, 2006

To Nandadevi, To Nandadevi

The peaks glistened golden in the morning sun as the clouds cleared to give us a sumptuous glimpse of the Nandadevi East and Nandadevi main. Balwant had created the perfect atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm as we climbed towards the Nandadevi base camp on the final day. Emotions stirred and camera-shutters moved back and forth as everyone tried to gather this sight in their memories forever. I had no camera with me, but that just makes me feel special, because what I saw after 150kms of trekking remains only mine - like a sort of reward. But don’t worry guys, I have put up a few pics for your benefit.

So I approach the station and look at the swarm of trekkers with rucksacks and suitcases (who brings those on treks!), plastic bags filled with goodies (or so I think), caps, glares and all the knick-knacks that makes them look like trekkers. NO familiar face… I realise I am standing with another trek group. Oops, gotta get next to Kiran - our instructor - very few people from the Nandadevi trek are here. I hear that almost six have dropped out. I’m quite glad, the group will be smaller. I am hoping there are no kakus, the Panchachulli experience was quite traumatizing.

So I smile at one guy - the name is Siddharth Joshi - he has done quite a few treks before. We speak about the train timing and whether there will be a ghoshana. Two girls walk over, gushing with excitement. One looks familiar - is she from college - she smiles and after a few minutes she says - “You are from ILS na? - I’m Bhavana.” Aha! Introductions made, we gather for the last gyandan (lecture) from Prasanna and then head towards our train.

The journey will be hot. But I get people from the compartments adjoining me together for a game of Contact, followed by Zip and some other jazz. There are these two guys who keep dropping in to see what’s up in our bogie - Pushkar and Mangesh - the latter is quite nice looking… hmm, but the former is from COEP. Intelligence or looks? - I wonder!! Bhavana is nice and sporting - considering that it is her first trek. Joshi is the regular trekker. Ashirwad and Prasad are dragged into the game. They just gave their tenth and while Ashirwad insists on reading The Borne Identity, Prasad is keen on getting into IIT and is already reading up his chemistry notes. Of course, they are jerked out of the whole serious mood and made to sing, dance and carry out conversations with odd members of other compartments as punishments that interlude the Zip-zap game. Finally when I am punished, they all get together and make me present Pushkar with a rose and sing and dance with him. Hehe! The poor fella is quite taken aback at the venture and especially the murjha hua phul. We meet Vikram…serious and composed he is popular with the kiddos as dada.

Delhi is not as bad as I had thought. We get a clean bathroom and a nice cosy room with an A/C for Bhavana, Amruta (her sister) and me. Gayatri who refused to make conversation with us until now, asks to share the room with us. She is stuck with the kids… poor thing… totally understand her plight. There is one kaku and I keep her at bay. We order food really late. Pushkar and Mangesh are still obsessed with their game - Who’s on my mind - geez they so took us for a ride. Some random connection they would establish between three odd things and we had to figure who they were talking about. Apparently only one of them to point out the three things and it was always the other who knew the right answer. Of course at times there was a miscommunication of the eyes (I’m sure) and both of them had different people in mind. Some logic, I say.

Morning I take everyone to Roshan’s at Carol Baugh. Some girl called Avanti Godbole has suddenly become popular. Guess why? Well she missed the train yesterday and now Kiran has gone to pick her up. How can anyone afford to miss a train that you have received a ticket for the earlier day? You need skill man! The train was delayed and consequently our bus to Almora. Lassi and chole-bhature …Delhi! I really miss you sometimes. Gayatri wants cold coffee - wishful thinking I must say - and that too on a trek. Bhavana runs around for an ICICI ATM. We end up at one open general store at 8am in Carol Baugh and he offers to give our lady a lift till the ATM. She definitely has a way with words and smiles. I travel by bus is Delhi - talk about saving money!

Almora seems far-far away. The bus journey isn’t as entertaining as I thought. I have a bad throat, can hardly speak, but I gear into a game of Antakshari. Nobody seems very interested. There are lots of kakas - one Mr Divekar - seems especially irritating. We were all fast asleep in the bus, when a blast of shrill music pierces the atmosphere and guess who is smiling right into our faces - Mr Divekar - “Arey jhopta kaay? It’s time to rock and roll young ones!” and with that he begins to click his fingers. God…he is definitely going to be a handful. Almora approaches only late at night. We drive past the hotel and have to go all round the mall road to return the hotel. More time wasted. The last few hours in the bus are spent in chatting up the driver and his friends.

Warm water - two baths - vow. Kaku and daughter Ashwini share our room, but we ignore. Bhavana and Amruta are yet to pack their trek bags. I’m sleepy. Early morning, the hill Maina and Koyal call and I visit them, all fresh, with a cup of hot tea. The chilly mountain weather, the warm smell of smoke in the air and the eager chirps of the birds - Oh! How I love this. Musiyari, here we come. Five jeeps - 37 people. Bhavana and I try to get everyone into the same jeep. Somehow we squeeze in. Our driver seems enthusiastic and gives a dose of pahadi music. “Bubbly tero mobile, vow hai tero ismile…” Suddenly in between he halts and asks Mangesh and Pushkar to get off - “Itne logon ko mein kyoun le jaoon. Sab ko paise de rahein hai, to equal distribution hona chahiye.” RDB, Fanaa, Pu La and pahadi Kajra re make up for the rest of the journey. Guruprasad and Shraddha along with Avanti Ka Avantika join us in the jeep. Guru and Shraddha are the couple of the trek…lovey dovey … they claim to be cousins (!!)… prem mhanje prem mhanje prem asta, tumcha amcha sagla same asta.

Munsiyari is cold and we reach in good time. For the first time have reached some place in broad daylight, and that too, in spite of the several stops that our driver insisted on taking. Who is that - aha - someone to brief us on the trip. The route has been changed and here comes Mr Bhandari. “Paani bahut pee jiye or else dehydration. Hill side se chaliye, nahin to gir jayenge. Bakri aur khachchar se sawadhan rahiye, nahin to gir jaayenge. Aur ek saath chalane ki koshish ki jeeye, nahin to…” He basically seems to be obsessed with falling off the cliff… vow! I speak to Amol and Mayura, wish they were here. It begins to pour and we retire for the night.
I knock at Gayatri’s room for the early morning call. She has managed to get an attached bathroom. Kanade kaka wonders why there isn’t a line outside the common loo this morning. But we keep quiet about the connection, lest kaku decides to grab the opportunity as well. Gayatri and me finally have some conversation…interesting notes exchanged I must say. The rain continues to pour and we set out for Leelam.

The first two days I am right ahead. Walking quickly, I’m eager to get to the campsite. But I soon realise that there is little use in getting to any place early. The Laxminarayan, Aloo Bhujiya and ladu-chivadas open only on everyone’s arrival and anyways before I manage to get my hand onto anything it’s almost over. The chakali session with Yogesh Sir was enough of an experience. Gawd, so kiddish - I chased him all around Leelam campsite among berry bushes and rocks, dodging bichchu kata and leeches, only to get my hands on the chakali packet. Tuk Tuk! Anyways I decide to walk last with Kiran sir and there is some sort of a group that seems to be getting formed - Gayatri with her digital SLR, she stops every corner and bend, every butterfly and stream to take a shot; Mangesh with his dry fruits, Pushkar who follows suit with Gayatri, Kanade kaka who is most popular with the youngsters cracking dirty jokes and teasing all the way, Kiran who is now a friendlier soul, more casual and happy and Yogesh the other instructor.

Kaku walks slowly. Even if we hurry her out of the campsite to begin first, we end up catching up with her. Now we have a jig that we perform each time she is within sight. Even kaka joins in and then we waste some more time before she is out of sight. The layers of clothes on her never seem to decrease. Hand gloves, monkey cap, cotton balls, sweater, muffler - all this and her bag. Mind you she has a couple of other bags on the khachchar. Wonder what all she has gotten along - none of the goodies seem to be reaching us. The “Kaku dislya - dhinchak dhinchang”-jingle keeps us entertained. The dhabdhabe, the pooor (flood), changing colour of the river, the bhoka (holes) and bombarding are little jokes that have me and Gayatri in pits of laughter all the time. In fact, I have realised that the last 2kms seem to be taking the maximum time.

Balwant and Ashok are really nice. They have dragged along a friend of theirs - Mohan - who is a fabulous cook. The poor guy was told that he would be allowed a mule ride, but was made to walk. Food is a feast everyday - soup, dinner, dessert and hot drink. Gayatri and I never miss any of this. Come rain, come wind, come snow - we have to have the warmth of the bonfire at night along with the hot chocolate. The bombarding happens almost twice a day - considering that the India-Tibet border is close-by it isn’t surprising.
On our way to Rilkot, the road has broken down. So we have to climb up a steep route. Sarkar kaka with his watermelonish tummy turns to Ballu and Ashok - “Yeh kya bekaar ka rasta bana rakkha hai!” He passes them huffing and puffing, although he has no weight on his back. They roll on the grass laughing and Gayatri joins them only to be poked by a bunch of thorns - Kaanta laga.

The Dholi Ganga keeps us company all along. Rushing through crevices and around bends she is a beautiful sight and a perfect frame at all times. Icy cold to touch, she begins from the Milam glacier. The weather is rainy and we are unsure whether the clouds will allow us to sight the peak. We visit Martoli a small village, where we take Nandamayya’s darshan. Though dark and chilly, the interiors of the temple don’t seem strangerly. When I catch sight of the golden peaks the next morning from Ghangar, I feel blessed. Balwant welcomes us to the base camp with a tight hug and rasgoollas. At 15,000 feet - eating rasgoollas with a hot cuppa tea is a strangely unique, but an achieving experience!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Back on Plain Ground

The plain and straight road seemed a stranger for the first few days on returning
Cars, bikes, mobile phones and TVs were unknown to me for the last fortnight
Icy cold water to bathe my feet in, a cup of hot tea that turned cold in seconds and hot dal-roti to soothe the hunger cries of a tummy that lived on Electral, Glucon-D, Perks and chana-curry through most part of the day... I MISS IT ALL
The next few posts will either be centred around or will bear remote or close connection to the trek (Nandadevi Base Camp) that I have successfully completed.
So please bear with me...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Come A-Way

it's been some time...
a lot of time it seems to be. i am waiting for a transition - in time, in thought, in myself - i need to change and accept change.
good, bad or ugly - life is an inseperable part of me. i have to smile at it. i owe it a lot more than just sulking, cribbing and damning it.

let me fall into your arms and feel myself - drown in the happiness of who i am.
i shall be gone a while... a long long while... but i am going to come back
a happier, a more positive and a complete soul.

the hills beckon and the snow is waiting to play hide and seek;
i am returning to my roots - the soil, the earth and nature.
i shall retire there too...
until then!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wonder Full ME

I wonder what happened
To those letters and those cards;
Flowing with emotions they were,
They were written from the heart.

I wonder what happened
To that colourful powder, we had put away;
To that pen, to that wallet,
With careful thought they had been picked, for the moment that was to never stay.

I wonder what happened
To those memories we had made;
Holding hands by the sea, we’d vowed this was forever,
I remember grasping for some clarity, as everything began to fade.

I wonder what it is like now
Those drops of affections compel me to ponder;
Ashes or dusted, where does it lie,
A part of me will always yearn to know…
Until then it will only wander.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Feel

The days have been passing me by,
Studies and work,
Well it all seems to be very slow.

Sometimes I wait for dawn to settle into dusk...
And sometimes it's vice versa.
There are those times too,
When I want time to standstill,
Wait for the moment to pass me completely
So that Ican enjoy every drop of it.

But why does life seem a drag?
I don't exactly yearn for anything,
There is nothing I definitely miss;
But a longing in me,
Calls for something exciting...probably motivating
Something that will make me feel like bliss.

It has been some time now,
That I felt total satisfaction surround me.
I can recollect some experiences
Which have had me smiling all day
Or just feeling 'light' - like a feather.

I wait for this period to end,
I so hope I can 'actually' bid it goodbye;
I will be happier then
Afloat on joy
Capturing the images of hope, surprise and glee!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Four Days
Day One of second semester at college ...everyone was there
My evening at Japalouppe on March 4
Trekking at Rajgad
Drive supposedly to Ambyvalley, actually to Khopoli

Four jobs I’ve had
Citadel, Magna
Maharashtra Herald, Sakal
Pune Guide Book, Elephant Design
Advocate Sarode's office

Four movies I could watch over and over
Jerry Maguire
Sound of Music
Free Willy (1/2/3)

Four places I’ve lived
Warden Court, Mumbai
Nirman Vihar, New Delhi
Manak Vihar, New Delhi
Pride, Pune

Four T.V. shows I like
Bold and Beautiful!!
I DON'T WATCH TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Four places I’ve vacationed:
Palolem, Goa
Japalouppe, Talegaon
Pindari-Kafni, Himalayas
Bogmallo, Goa

Four of my favourite dishes
BBQ steak at Mad House Grill
Cheese and Mushroom Pasta
Curd-rice-lemon pickle

Four sites I visit daily
The Loo
The bed

Four places I'd rather be right now
Dar, Kumaon Himalayas
ACJ, Chennai
Tibet School, Dharamshala
Florida, USA

Four books I’ve read this year
Atlas Shrugged
To Kill a Mockingbird
Kite Runner

Four bloggers I’m going to tag with this

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Colour Me Vibrant...

Another year has gone by...
Holi is back again;
With colours and balloons
And buckets of water
A time I go down memory lane.

I have spent many Holis
With friends old and new;
One thing in common
Is that they are all important
And why i manage to keep in touch, is because they are so few.

There are two times in a year - Diwali and Holi
When i traditionally bond to let them know
That they are special
And i need them to stick around
Even though at times i might bitch at them like a foe

Emotions are such a wrangle,
They tend to get you quite complicated;
You know not now
You not never
How moments overwhelm you and how at times they make you feel elated.

So coming back to this festival of colours,
It was bright and cheerful this year;
The last of these, with my chaddi friends
I spent this time
Curiosity and a slight bit of apprehension, clouds my thoughts of Holi next year!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


The past few evenings have been quite enjoyable. In fact it’s been a long time since I felt this good about my social circle. I have interacted with a three people - A, B and C - who are extremely different from one another, yet have a few things in common when it comes to me. Well I don’t really know whether it is this similarity that get me clicking with them, or is it just the fact I can be myself with them. I have known these people for some time now, but I haven’t exactly kept in touch except for when it is the need of the hour (read: work). Coincidently I know all three through work and the names of all three begin with ‘A’ and to add to all these coincidences, they are all into the wackiest of professions; which of course seem normal when you just ‘hear’ of it, but delve a little deeper and the uncanny side of their choice is obvious.

Anyways I realised that I can let my hair down with these people. We talk about books, their professions, childhood and relationships. My cynicism jumps to the forefront, most of the times and they all end up advising me against adopting ‘such’ an attitude. Probably at such times, my other friends who I regularly hang out with would say - “You are trying to be different, that’s all!” or may be “You are still to see a lot of this world.” But with A, B and C, it’s kind of different, they will always argue it out, or humour me, but finally convince me or atleast leave me debating with myself. Here are some incidences from my times spent with each of them. Going down memory lane (well not exactly!)…

Today I told C not to snap the scissors in air, because it is blindly believed that the person ends up having a fight with those around at that moment. C turned around and asked - “So you believe in superstitions?” - NO; “Ok then you have blind faith?” - NO; and then he continued snapping the scissor - looked up and smiled saying, “My dad keeps doing this all the time, by your theory he should have no friends! I’m not arguing, just trying to make you understand.” And somewhere, though I retorted saying, “I don’t debate things, I can’t verify”, I was convinced and happy at the change of thought, atleast for that while.

There was one time I was arguing with B about men being taken for a ride with certain women. Well the topic of conversation was those ‘women’. They play on both sides of the fence and sometimes make a good looking chauffer of the guy, while at other times make him a punch bag when they need to bitch or basically need to be pampered or require the attention (especially at times of PMS). All B said to me was - “What does the world have to do with a man who knows he is being taken for a ride and still goes for it willingly.” - “Well then why do they crib?” I asked; “Cribbing is natural to every human. Remember what God didn’t add into that glass of life…satisfaction!” B replied in the most placid of tones. And it has been from then on that I feel no sympathy, concern or the need to give advice to such men - so what if he is my brother - he has been bestowed with a brain, thankfully!

With A there has never really been a time when we have spoken about philosophy or any aspect of it or anything even closely related to it. A has this capacity to ‘just listen’. A will ask me about everything in my life - college, trekking, snake park, Japalouppe, my closest friends - and hear me talk incessantly about each of these elements in my life. The other day, when I walked out of A’s house, I realised how much A remembered of my life and the people in it. I have this habit of making passing references to people and events, which at some point I might have described; A actually can go back to earlier narrations only to remind me that ‘s/he listens.’

I always wonder what it would be like, was I to bring all three of these people together. Well, there would be utter chaos. Each would think the other to be mad or immature or basically zonked out of his/her head. At the end of it they would take me aside privately and request me to keep away from the others. In such a background, it seems to be quite an irony as to how well and how similarly I get along with all of these three.

Actually I am glad to have kept things the way they have been for so long with all three. An occasional interaction consisting of random recollections, coffee/tea/juice and tons of satisfaction!

Friday, February 17, 2006

What’s Writing Got To Do With It?

Writing is about spending time with myself. I discovered this only recently. When I sit back to do some creative writing, I actually tend to ponder and take time off to think about the subject. Somehow, I realised that I had the lost the knack of doing so, since I joined the papers. Reporting or even feature writing is about putting down facts. The way you place these facts, the priority in which you position them reveals your style, which then becomes comparable to other ‘writers.’ But personally they aren’t writers; they are just the compilers of facts who have a flair for the English language.

The other day when a friend told me to contribute to a review page, I was quite enthusiastic about doing the book review. So I sat back and spent some time wondering which book I should review - whether it would be the Atlas Shrugged that had left a profound impact on me, or Shantaram which unfolded a brilliant story or then should it be a novel of Ruskin Bond, whose narration always leaves me envious of his ‘style’, where he manages to say so much in such simple language. But I realised that though I had read all these books in the recent past and remembered their storylines and characters, I couldn’t find an angle to review.

Each book brought alive the time that would have otherwise remained a stagnant part of my life. It gave me a thought to browse upon, the validity of actions to question and a new style of writing to learn from. But in spite of all these facts, I couldn’t review the book, because I had never looked back upon any of these books as a complete whole - the story, the style, the meaning and the message - all as one single package. I allowed my mind to wander, sometimes inspecting the moral and sometimes the literature and that too at different times during the reading. This is exactly what I realised when I sat down to review the Kite Runner, a book that I had praised and recommended highly, unfortunately without being truly capable of comprehending the book, except in the light of the narration of the story.

Today I decided to start writing again. It was a good habit, sometimes it helped me vent my frustration, sometimes it allowed me a liberal platform to opine and there were even those times when I would introspect my relationships, my surroundings and my self. In the flow of writing for the newspapers, I thought I was doing my creativity a good deal of justice, but actually I wasn’t… in fact it wasn’t even being used. An efficient combination of good vocabulary, sensible punctuations and politically correct thought isn’t called ‘creativity’; it is merely termed as ‘good reporting skills.’ And that I must remind myself isn’t the best compliment for a writer.

I happened to read another friend’s blog the other day - mind you he is a software engineer by profession - and I found myself appreciating his articles, not for the subjects he chose, but for the fluent flow of his thoughts. He still remains a computer geek who spends all his waking hours before the screen typing a bizarre combinations of mere characters on the keyboard, probably they make no sense to anybody but him and those of a like profession; but when he gets down to writing, his ideas, imagination, language, all seem to be in their right place. Well, logically speaking I should be better at the latter than him…but it hits me that I am ‘not’.

Of course, it doesn’t bother me - as regards competition or an inferiority complex - it just reminds me that I need to take some time off and write. Write, not to meet a deadline or ensure the limitation of words and thought; but write to feel good about myself, to remind myself that I am a writer first and a journalist later…’cause writers aren’t born everyday, but journalists might be.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Kalaghoda Experience

So finally I discovered what the Kalaghoda Festival was and I grant all the people who go completely gung-ho about it, their complete worth. Right in the centre of this maddening, yet appealing city - Mumbai, on a road that probably hundreds of people cross to and fro sprawls the Kalaghoda Art festival.
A melange of music, dance, paintings, digital videos, portraits, fortune tellers and a hustle bustle of several men, women and teenagers impressed upon me as I walked into the swarm of installations, sculptures, paintings and people. As I screened the exhibits with a footnote of the author’s profile, the only thing that seemed to bind them all was passion.
While at one end people strolled through a maze of paintings and sketches, at the other end several crowded at the food-stalls. In the centre of all this, the sound of ghungroos gave rhythm to the moves of a kathak dancer, who had enthralled a chunk of the crowd with her graceful swirls and their precise explanation in a diction of Hindi, that seemed more pure only because of her style.
I was amazed that this was India. Though the presentation of the festival might have been just about ok, what appealed to me most was the vibrant combination of people. Elite artists mingled with portrait experts who were caught selling their skill at a mere Rs 100 - the end product guaranteed so long as you could sit still for a while. A tarot man sat amidst the crowd, claiming to tell you your future in the uncertain and erratic world of art. There were men who sold sequenced chappals that glistened in the nightlight and young artists who sold cards with paintings on a dry peepal leaf.
Creativity seemed to ooze from every direction and it practically pulled you into the flow. I don’t understand shit about art, though both my parents are architects; I couldn’t even wait a while to observe some paintings, like some others I met over there; in fact I finally realised that it wasn’t the art or the works that overwhelmed me, but a just the oorja of enthusiasm, undying passion, creativity and liveliness that gave me a high that evening.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Voice of a Woman

Rape is not just an assault, an abuse and an insult of the skin and flesh, but it seeps way beyond and much deeper into the woman’s soul. This brutal act of “pleasure” shatters the woman’s confidence and tramples upon her identity and ego - a state that she must live with all her life, while the man can escape repenting all of this because he is ‘to be hanged unto death.’

I just finished reading the book Blasphemy, another one of Tehmina Durrani’s works. While in My Feudal Lord, she unveiled the reality of a Muslim politician’s wife’s life, in this book she has thrown open the personal life of a pir - an Islamic religious head. On the face, the man speaks of nobility, humility and the will of Allah, but behind close doors all his acts defeat the essence and purity of the versus in the Quran. Let alone exercising the ‘man superior to woman’ formula, but he indulges in pornography where the most easily accessible woman - his wife - is forced to commit the sins of sleeping with young adolescent boys for the sake of his mental satisfaction. When tired of this he turns towards younger girls, who haven’t even understood the true meaning of their existence, their body and their nature, and forces them to bleed to maturity over a period of few hours. It is in such cases when the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘love’ dawns upon you. Truly animalistic, the former ceases your thought process and you become the victim of your own body.

The worst of these acts is probably the rape of young girls. When a girl touches puberty, she senses a change. As the hormones of the body play havoc, her mind develops a distinct relationship with her body. Her personality begins to identify with her shape, her tenderness and her sensitivity. Well this doesn’t mean that a delicate profile implies an innocent woman, but the identification is on a very personal level. And this is exactly what I would term as ‘on the brink of womanhood.’ Discovering one’s womanhood is one of the most beautiful experiences of a girl - it must be handled gently, lovingly and carefully. And a rape at this stage in a girl’s life can be nothing worse than a living nightmare, one that ensures that her sleepless nights last a lifetime.

I sometimes wonder how the system of devdasi was encouraged. It is quite similar to the mention of the abuse of young girls by the pir in this book. Of course, while in our system it is considered a matter of pride when the girl is given up to the god (read his representatives), in case of the pir, the matter is extremely hushed and is probably in the knowledge of only the victim and perhaps her mother. One exploits so many creations of nature in the name of religion…that sometimes I tend to wonder if being an atheist is in itself a solution to this exploitation. On one hand man respects and fears the superpower, but at the same time defies the core of His very principles.

Man was always considered superior to the woman. But they are interdependent and so why can’t they be treated equally. Why do we fail to understand that one can’t be created without the other. If there were no women there would be no question of man or woman and if there were no men, then too there would be no question of man or woman. An interaction between the two on an equal level is necessary to create and procreate. Unfortunately the whole act has been converted into a power game - a game that weakens one of the creators… it is unfair, yet true. Women need to rise out of this illusion, more a threat and believe that they are equal…because unless we believe, we cannot take a stand and unless we take a stand there can be no consequence.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Farewell fond ones

The board was put up with a twinkle of pride in everyone’s eyes, a smile on everyone’s lips and a sense satisfaction…something like when an event, a place and a feeling are established. But yesterday, we cleared the room, swept out the dust and snapped the wires holding the board. The whole place looked so empty and in less than half the time that we had taken to set it up, Paws and Claws was shut down. A loneliness gripped me as I penned down the notice of closure and I could only stand there a second when A and M looked back at the empty corners of the clinic where the other day only sounds echoed.

And with this clinic came to an end another very precious chapter in my life. It isn’t too long ago that I met A for the first time and the relationship matured so suddenly. The other day he told me that I was the first friend he had out-of-the-circle. I didn’t know whether to take pride in the statement or not, but I was glad nevertheless. I have spent a lot of time with this couple and have allowed myself to grow with the relationship. After a long time I found myself following my heart. I did as it told me; there were times when I realised that some things needed to be shared and other times they understood a lot about me without a single word being uttered. In fact I could see the relationship becoming more intimate. Everything took its time, but then again everything seemed to be happening at the right time.

There are some relationships that are hurried, while there are others that just remain, but very rarely do you sense a relationship growing. It grows with time and with every experience and event in your life. A & M’s relationship with me grew similarly. Every time we met was memorable…sometimes we spoke about their home, sometimes about Cranky, sometimes our friends and sometimes even about the placement of stars in the sky. One of the most beautiful things of this relationship was that we got to know each other as individuals. Over the past year I have realised how much of what I initially perceived was so different from what actually was. Of course, I enjoyed immensely those aspects of their personality that lay in the shadow of what I had glanced at first. A’s matured advice that lay a blanket on his habit of making impromptu thrilling plans and M’s composed self which at times gave way to her innocent stubbornness of wanting to eat an ice-cream.

We have gotten so used to each other … that I actually feel a vacuum now that they are gone. Since Dhanashri left four years ago, I haven’t really spent much time pouring over any of my relationships. Those poems I wrote about our relationship and the ‘better than best friends’ term we braced our bond with…well it began there and probably had ended there as well. But this time, I actually sat back and penned down a lot of stuff for A & M…Whenever I am actually unable to put across everything through conversation, I opt to write; it just makes things simpler and clearer with a neat flow of thought.

So here is wishing you the very best. I hope this opportunity works out excellently for you. I love you tons and I hope you are going to be equipped to compensate for all the weekends I have been without you, when you get back!

Miss you truckloads. Thanks for being always being there and more importantly making a difference by being there. I end … I sit back to watch Jerry Maguire…my favourite movie.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Aloha Rajgad!

Yesterday was absolutely fantastic. The day started at 3.30 am and oh, what a day it was. Probably a day that will remain with me for a long long time, not just because it was a fabulous experience, but also because it was the last weekend I would be spending with A and M. Geez…I am so gonna miss you guys, yeah I know I keep saying that all the time, but yesterday the finality of the situation really hit me.

Anyways this was my first trip to Rajgad. The climb was a lot of fun, though it was only while I climbed back down that I realised what hap‘hazard(ous)’ shortcuts Mola had devised for us trekkers. Scrambling up through trees, shrubs and bushes; the thorns would reach out to welcome us; slipping and balancing grip and foot, we made our way up to the last laborious patch of Rajgad. Well M was apprehensive all through, about whether she would make it; but the poor girl kept reassuring (more threatening) herself that she would. I guess it was more anxiety about her hubby’s mockery than apprehension. Bounding far ahead of us was Mola and team mates, one of whom, christened Hey..mya by me, was thrilled at the idea of hustling us slow walkers and then grinning back to ensure that his comments had had their intended effect.

Well the last 20 minutes of the climb uphill and the first 20 minutes of downhill are only remembered as credits to my trekking skills. With concentration at its peak, watching each step, I slowly made my way up an almost 90 degree combination of rocks; reaching the top only to wonder how the hell Mr Shivaji (I had better be respectful I realised!) managed to haul himself and his horses on top with such ease. But anyways the fellow once up there, used to camp for several days together, only encouraging his men to tire their poor legs running up and down. Plus, now I know why they say that ‘Mr Shivaji scurried from place to place conquering fort after fort.’ Obviously if you build forts at precarious heights and out-of-bounds locations, you would have no choice but to scurry!

A was especially enthusiastic and only to happy to play guide around the fort. Of course, a slightly over enthusiastic guide who ran far ahead of us, disappearing over the horizon of the cliff every once in a while; wading his way through bushes, while we tumbled down gravel paths; and basically making the most of this trek, ensuring that we found it adventurous enough to test our skills and capabilities. The Sanjeevani machi opened out into the valley below, from where you could see an enormous chunk of the Sahyandris stripped with shades and layers of red basalt rock that made it look like it was blazing in the rays of the overhead sun.

The Hatti machi (I hope I got the name right) was equally nice. Well by the time I was here, I knew we were nearing the end of the trek… which kinda bothered me, for reasons I wish not to disclose. Little boys hung around the place selling their nimbu-paani, a supposed to be a tangy mixture, - sometimes a little too sweet or otherwise bland, but never just right - happy to show us their possessions, such as a goggle minus the glass. One of them was even in the ninth grade and when I questioned him about it, he was only very proud to introduce another one of their clan who had witnessed the same success. Afterall it is in the eyes of these young children that you see the value of our education system and the pride that contains them when they hold a degree. Like they say - ignorance is bliss - and for those who don’t know about ‘options’ and ‘combinations’, well just E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N is what matters.

Sandwiches, lasanachi chatni, pickle, bananas, pealed sweet lime, buttermilk, nimbu-paani, laughter, stupid jokes (like the one about, A alone can ‘treat’ you, because he is a vet), huffing and puffing and the sheer joy of coming together with people you have known only a few hours made the day memorable. By the time I got to the base, hot tea, spicy pohe and an idle old man ready to blether (which was inclusive of gossip and jokes tinted with male chauvinism) at the drop of a hat awaited us. The amateur-enthusiastic, yet creative and fine photographer from our group clicked his way through the entire trek. From barn owls, to Rajgad by sunrise and sunset, he captured them all with extreme proficiency, but remained humble enough to complement one of the photographs I shot, where I have managed to create pitch darkness in the bright sunlight!

Back home tired, yet exuberant…there is sense of rejuvenation within me…one that reminds you that this carpet of life which is woven by someone else (HIM for me) is definitely worth it.
May these moments live on…

Monday, January 16, 2006

Three's Company

One evening I sat in the rear seat of a car, where my only companions were two men who had grown up together as boys. Soon my silence drew a curtain across my existence and I became a silent spectator to what followed.
Their plan was to drink together, but since the decided lounge had cover charges; the easier (still enjoyable) option was to drive around town with a bottle by your side. So bachelors + no money to splurge = drunken driving.

“Hey she is nice”

“Naah! Not my kind…too slim”

Silence followed until we passed the next appealing hoarding.

“Now, SHE is NISE...she has that just out of bed look. You know what I mean, right?”


Well the conversation lingered over ‘hmms’ and ‘yeahs’, before it took a more masculine twist. Well it wasn’t really about fitness and physique, but they just have a different way of catching up. While the women get directly to the point, men flow with the time (and the alcohol) and get around in a subtle way.

“So how’s the corporate thing going?”

“Well we just did a camp with Rapid Eye” (waits for a reaction; so I’m guessing the company is real big)

“Vow man!” (Aha! I’m sure that is what he was waiting for)

“Besides I have approached some others.”

“BTW, I don’t know if I mentioned, but I changed my job” (now here is the other one hankering for attention. If he has it, I must have it too ;))

“Oh! You left your company?! Ok, so where are you now?”


“Haan, so now I know where to come, if I want a job!!”

Anyways the conversation revolved around the technicalities of their respective jobs, the competitors, the tactics and the trade secrets, that these guys are so proud to possess. Occasionally, one of them would voluntarily pass the bottle behind, but eagerly wait for it to return. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a more personal conversation and I didn’t have to wait too long.

“K, why are you so quiet?”

“I’m sure she is quite disgusted by our discussion of bust sizes. Real locker-room talk.”

“Probably, she is enjoying it - a glimpse of her closeted lesbianism!”

“The only time I have been part of a locker room conversation was back in school.”

“Yes! The debates and discussions about Ms Gupta’s pallu that use to keep slipping off.”

“Mind you, she quite enjoyed the attention. All that time she took to collect it.”

It was at this point that I was suddenly reminded of my school days and Ms Wadan. The popular Wadan-kya-tera-badan phrase that was favourite topic of discussion. Some things never change and are probably never different either. While the guys drool over it, the girls mock their shamelessness. (But secretly enjoy the fun too)

“So where is Andy?”

“Donno man, I wanted to ask you myself. Probably earning loads of money in some multinational.”

“Hehe. I’m sure, in the next ten years we will still be sitting at some roadside and drinking cheap booze and Andy will drive past in a BMW or something.”

“Yeah! And when we ask him where he is working, he’ll say - you’ve heard of that company right, well I own it.”

“And earn a few millions…”


Vow! Men can actually have conversations like women. Simply put, they can also gossip and bitch…well in graceful way, of course. I don’t exactly remember when a long pause that followed this reminiscing ended; and the conversation traced some proficient talk about shares v/s investments, tacky brokers and property prices. With each one making the other feel good about his responsible behaviour and actually setting aside a moment to reflect upon how far they have come, the dialogue finally returned to the all-time favourite topic - WOMEN

“Hey C, there is very pretty and simple girl in love with me. She is quite nice, only …I wish she was a little cosmo.”

“Well mould her, my friend…”

“Would you want to try a hand at someone who ahs lived all her life at L?”

“Well have fun then…she anyways knows off your philandering.”

“No man, I need a girlfriend yaar - someone to mollycoddle and pamper.”

Well, now things were getting slightly senti, so C decided to switch the track of conversation. Well he managed quite efficiently, now whether that was his tact or R’s drunkenness…I don’t know.

“So how come you aren’t spending time with your mom?”

“I wanted to get drunk, precisely why I came to Pune.”

“So get drunk. I have been high a couple of times this past few weeks.”

“Naah, wanted company man.”

“OK, come lets get drunk.”

“but, you just said…”

“Anything for you my friend!”

With this the engine of the car reared and the two head towards a ‘wine shop’ before it got too late. I chose to step out at this moment, but a smile played on my lips all the way back home. There was nothing unusual about this conversation, nothing abrupt, vague or exciting either. But there was warmth to it…very boyish warmth, which maybe gave me one of the most precious glimpses of a relationship.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

When At Ease...

The sea has a very enticing element to it. Its calm is teasing, but the vastness is welcoming. Every time I look towards it, it lures me and as the waves shuffle against my feet and I walk deeper; I can almost see a naughty smile playing on it, as if saying - “Come…come…discover me!!” And this is exactly what deters me from going any further and I retrace my footsteps onto the beach. Some how, I can’t get myself to have faith in the tranquillity that the surface of the sea displays.
However, this time I went to Goa, I decided that the fear must be overcome. Fear, I have realised, is an illusion that merely keeps you from enjoying life to its fullest. So it was this year that I put my first foot forward and stepped deeper into the sea. I allowed myself to stay afloat the waves until I was at a comfortable depth, where it was only the tips of my toes that could feel the firmness of the ground, even though the sand slipped from between my toes. My friends and me played ball and swum around in this area; the Frisbee that took direction of the wind had me splashing all over the place, and I slowly got used to the waves engulfing me every once in a while, the salt water stinging my eyes each time I ducked underwater and tiny sea creatures probably stumbling over my feet. I was learning to enjoy the sea, but cautiously.
Soon, I puckered the courage to walk my way over to an island with my friends and I said that I’d follow all the way until I could feel the ground below. The expedition was completed and I felt like a warrior who had returned from a battle, bringing back himself and his horse without a wound. As I was prancing along the seabed, towards the shore - happy and confident, there was this one point, where I suddenly lost hold of the sand underneath. I wasn’t slipping, nor was I walking too fast - it was just that the seabed had disappeared from below my feet.
OK this wasn’t my imagination, because when I crosschecked with the ‘tallest’ member of my group, he grinned - only to confirm my doubts. “It’s ok, probably we have just wandered afar… let me check a little further,” he said. Ok, I put my best lessons of freestyle into practice and began to swim towards the beach. Each time, Chiraag’s eyes would meet mine; he would disappear into the sea to remind me that ‘shallow’ wasn’t yet here.
Well I only remember swimming, not furiously, but with strength spurting out of each stroke I practiced. The beach didn’t look far, but the swim seemed long. As I turned around to look out into the open sea that lay behind me, I could picture a wink (!) that mocked me for being at ease and I found myself saying - THIS IS WHY I DON’T TRUST YOU.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Moving Beginning - Khaled Hoessini

A life that began in the cushioned strata of Afghanistan and ended in the growing society of America. A tale about the vine of emotions entwining through the ethos of class, caste and politics. Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hoessini tells the story of Amir and his friend Hassan. It brings out the reality of the present-day social situation in the backdrop of Afghanistan, where though the politically correct throw a veil over the customary thought of caste discrimination; it has percolated to the coming generations.
The intellects may shy away from it and the radicalists might run away, but the fact is that it exists and there are many who play it to their advantage.

Amir is brought up in an aristocratic family, where respect and discipline top the priority list. Though this timid boy enjoys a lively childhood in the company and shielding of Hassan, a street smart boy from the lower caste; for most part of his childhood he is perplexed by two primary situations that lay the foundation of his life. Firstly it is his relationship with his father, Baba, whose affection extends to a mere pat on the head. Secondly, it is the contradictory situation of Hassan’s life, where though this boy is his servant and belongs to the Hazara caste, not only is he Amir’s best pal, but he also enjoys a good proportion of Baba’s affection. While this situation remains the centre of Amir’s life and finally makes his existence meaningful, the political situation in Afghanistan takes Amir to USA, where he matures in age, experience and relationships and learns to take responsibility of his actions. Work, love and marriage follow a regular course until destiny brings Amir back to Afghanistan - the Afghanistan, now under Taliban - a country, no more the reflection of his memories. The trip is almost a twist in his fate as it unfolds the truth of his life - which begins from the day he opened his eyes to the world, until date when he is learning to stand his firm ground.

In the course of this book depression almost became an addiction. Hoessini has interwoven politics and love with such subtlety that is hard to draw the line as to when he switches from one to another and back. The personal touch to his story makes the unfolding of events extremely interesting. As you read on to know more about Amir’s life, you learn simultaneously about how religion can be the root of sadism and that there is more to this life than what just meets the eye.